Oh, by the Creator. I’d really messed up this time. Of course Candy had needed time to think! Anyone would, if your lover had spontaneously introduced you their recently adopted child. But she hadn’t left. Creator, I was such an idiot.
Well, sort of. In retrospect, B, my reaction was completely valid. She walked out the door—didn’t even tell me where she was going. And then she shows up in the middle of the night, looming over your crib, looking like the quintessential baby snatcher from every nightmare…
So really, we were both right. But that didn’t matter right now. Right now, what mattered was that she had actually left this time, and I had to stop her.
I bolted out the front steps, turned left, then right. Ah! There she was. She was shuffling down the street, her shoulders hunched, her head down. I’ve really done it this time, I thought.
I started running her direction. She looked up, but didn’t slow. Instead, she squared her shoulders and added a determined strut to her step, quickening her pace in an effort to get away from me.
Janie: “Candy, wait!”
This time, she stopped.
Janie: “Baby, don’t go.”
I threw myself at her, wrapped her arms around her and didn’t let go. She returned the gesture, but it lacked her usual warmth.
Candy: “Don’t go? Why shouldn’t I? You adopted a child, Janie. A living, breathing child! Something that’s a big part of your future! And you didn’t even tell me.”
I started to say something, but she shushed me.
Candy: “Don’t talk. I’m not done. And then, you thought I was just going to leave, when we clearly need to have a conversation about this, and THEN you TACKLED me! Who does that??”
She stood there, breathing heavy.
I said nothing, waiting to see if she would begin again.
Candy: “Speak now. If you have anything to say.”
I had a lot to say. That I had been scared, that I wanted her to stay so badly that I had to try to force her to leave, that I was terrified of a relationship like my mother’s—physically separate, but each party so utterly alone. But that was a conversation for another time. So instead, I just said:
Janie: “One second.”
Candy: “…you aren’t.”
I didn’t have a real ring, just one of the thin metal bands I always wore around my finger. But it would work, for the moment. And Candy wasn’t a diamonds and bling kind of girl, anyway.
Janie: “Candy Irene Behr. You have always, always been there for me. More than anyone else. Looking back on my young adult life, every major decision, every big moment, includes you. I can’t imagine my future major decisions, big moments, not involving you.”
Janie: “Join me in those major moments? Marry me?”
Candy: “If you think for one second that this gets you off the hook…”
There was that look—the one that I loved and adored. Wide eyes, flushed cheeks, bright smile (no matter how much she was trying to hide that part.”
Janie: “Just answer the question, baby.”
Candy: “You are in so much trouble, after this is over.”
Janie: “So, is that a yes?”
Candy: “Yes, you self-destructive dorkus. Yes.”
Yes. Yes. She didn’t want to leave me. She was staying. And she wasn’t just going to stay for now. She was staying forever.
Candy: “You’re still in trouble.”
Janie: “Sure. Later.”
It was a sudden burst of inspiration—helped along by Candy’s beautiful smile and kissable lips and the ring on her finger—that led the following words spill from my mouth.
Janie: “Come on.”
I was breathless and giddy. She looked at me funny.
Janie: “Come on! Come with me!”
Candy: “Janie, where are we going?”
She laughed as I dragged her down the sidewalk.
Candy: “You have a baby upstairs!”
Janie: “I’ll call a sitter! Don’t worry.”
You’d be fine. This was far more important.
Candy: “What are we doing here?”
Janie: “You’ll see!”
We spent long moments at the top of Break Down, chatting and enjoying the view. Every so often, Candy would pester me.
Candy: “What are we doing here?”
Candy: “Janie, just what do you have planned?”
Her smile was bright and windswept, like we’d been caught up in a whirlwind that had yet to set us down.
Janie: “You’ll see.”
It’s all I would say.
Finally, she got tired of waiting (she was so adorable, B. I can’t even).
Candy: “Janiee, just tell me! What’re we doing here in the middle of the damn night?”
Janie: “Candy. You are the love of my life.”
Janie: “And you’ve already agreed to marry me.”
Janie: “And that has made me the happiest woman alive.”
Candy: “I love you too. More than anything.”
I took a deep breath.
Janie: “I do not think I could last another second, knowing how much I love you, and yet knowing that you are not my wife.”
She drew me into a fierce hug, but I wasn’t done yet.
Janie: “Elope with me. Right now. In our special place. Marry me. Don’t make me suffer through the agony of not being eternally bound to you.”
Candy: “My sister is going to kill me.”
She giggled all the same and digging around in her pockets.
Candy: “She’s going to literally kill me.”
Janie: “I’ll protect you.”
I laughed, not able to talk in any other way. This was Candy’s usual area of expertise—this cheerfulness, this astonishing level of happiness that I was now experiencing. It was like liquid fire, flowing through my veins, making every sensation that much more beautiful and wonderful and there.
With a grin, Candy pulled something out of her pocket.
Candy: “I was waiting for the right time. Apparently, you got there first.”
Janie: “Oh, Candy.”
She slipped the ring on my finger.
Janie: “Candy, it’s gorgeous.”
Candy: “Like you.”
What else was there to say to that?
Janie: “Candy, I promise to love you and cherish you for the rest of my days. I promise to try to be understanding when we disagree. And I promise that I will never use our love as a weapon.”
Candy: “Janie, I promise to never let our passion stall or falter. I promise to try to understand your insecurities. And I promise to cherish you and your daughter until I die.”
What could possibly be better than tonight?
Candy and I would be together forever. I had ensured it, tonight. Maybe adopting a baby hadn’t been the most logical plan. But B? It worked. And I will never be more grateful.