I turned to look at him, my eyebrow raised, trying to ascertain if he was joking or not. I was about to tuck in after a long day—we just got back from his gig in Germany (and Sweden the day prior) when he came into the room after freshening up in the bathroom. He was just in his boxers, and despite being tired, he still looked so sexy (AGAIN, SO UNFAIR). He was at my side of the bed, always the left.
The look on his face told me he was serious, and when he dropped down on one knee I stopped breathing.
“Stay with me for the rest of our lives,” he said, his deep voice almost wavering, and he brought out a trinket. He popped it open, a ring with a turquoise-encrusted band with a brilliant cut diamond at the center shining under the lampshade in the room. It was the same theme as the promise ring we wore—his around his neck on a silver chain to avoid further rumors (the press saw he was wearing the platinum band around his finger, and bam! Rumors about him already married—to his last ex—popped everywhere).
I didn’t have to think about it—I knew what my answer was going to be. This was what D and A were talking about. This was what prompted That Talk.
“I can’t, H. Not yet.”
His face fell, and he closed the trinket, forcing a chuckle. I grinned because he didn’t even bother to ask again. “Why not?” he asked, his voice sounding so calm, and there wasn’t any undercurrent of pain or anger in his voice. He sat on the floor, and I reached for his hand. He placed the trinket on the nightstand, where it lay there, witnessing how I could possibly break this man’s heart just by a little bit.
“For so many reasons you and I can actually enumerate, but I can name the top ones.”
He turned my hand over and started to draw circles on palm. “Like…?” he prompted lightly. I was amused, really, at how easily he was taking this rejection.
“I’d say number one is that you’re still so young. You’re twenty. Barely even an adult, hun. You can’t even legally drink yet if you fly to the States—and I’m not counting the times that you got away with drinking there,” I told him, and he smirked, his dimple showing. I couldn’t stop myself—I poked his dimple, and he fake-bit my finger just before I pulled away.
“Number two is that this relationship is still so young too. We’ve been together for just a year, H, and—”
“But we’ve been through so much already—”
I smiled patiently. “Yes, and we’re still going to go through a lot more.” I sighed, and then I ruffled his hair. “And while we’re having a pretty good run, I am not sure I’m ready to marry into this yet, H. Your celebrity status can be a bit overwhelming still.”
He nodded thoughtfully, and I let my words sink in. “You’re getting the hang of it,” he said after a while, and I agreed.
“I do, and I am still learning every day. And I have accepted all the realities that come with dating you, you know? That we may not go anywhere without people following us around, that’s why we just avoid it altogether. That even if I know that we’re together, it’s so much better that people know you’re not going out with anyone because it just gets even crazier. And then the rumors too.”
“I know, and I am proud of you for getting through all of it. For dealing with this in the way that you are doing it. And it’s tough being with me—”
“Not because of who you are, H, but because of what you are.”
He sighed heavily. “Blessing and a curse,” he said again, and I placed my hand on his cheek. He gazed at me, and I saw the disappointment in his eyes.
“It was worth a try, wasn’t it?” he said, and I smiled, trying to be assuring.
“H, we’ll get there. I promise. Just not now,” I swore, and he grabbed the trinket from the nightstand. “Then accept it. Take the ring. You said we’re going to get there—”
I chucked him on the head playfully. “That’s cheating,” I told him, trying to glare at him. “I haven’t said yes yet, and you want me to accept the ring?”
He leaned in, giving me a kiss on the lips. “You know I’m going to try again, right?”
I slid my hand behind his nape, my lips barely touching his. “I know you are. Eventually, the answer will be yes,” I whispered, and I was about to cross the distance between us but he pulled back a bit. “May I just remind you that a man can only take so much rejection?” he teased, and I let out a small laugh.
“Noted,” I told him. “Now can we just—”
He didn’t make me finish my sentence, his lips drowning the rest of my words.