Sorry about the plans. His chest started to tighten. Sorry about the plans? There were two hundred people in the chapel, a staff in the kitchen preparing the dinner. There were ten thousand dollars’ worth of flowers decorating the ballroom. That was just the ballroom! But the bride and groom decided to elope in Vegas. So sorry.
When he was finally able to look up from his phone, he caught Natalie’s eye from across the hall. She looked the way he felt, with a distraught expression on her face. She held up her own phone to display the same picture he was looking at.
They moved quickly toward each other, meeting in the middle. “What do we do?”
Natalie took a deep breath. “Well, obviously there isn’t going to be a wedding, so we can send the preacher home. The food and band are already paid for, and there’s no sense in it all going to waste. So if I were you, I’d lie and tell them that Lily and Frankie got stuck in Vegas because of bad weather and decided to elope. Invite them to celebrate at the reception, have dinner, eat the cake and send everyone home.”
Colin dropped his face into his hands. How had this week turned into such a disaster? His proposal to Natalie couldn’t have gone worse. His sister was a no-show for her own wedding. He was feeling like he wanted to just walk out the door and lock himself in his bedroom until the New Year.
He supposed her suggestion was sensible. There was no point in wasting all that food. “I guess that’s what we’ll have to do, then. What a mess. I’m going to kill her when she gets home. I mean it.”
“There is one other option,” she said in a voice so small he almost didn’t hear it.
Colin looked up to see Natalie nervously chewing at her lip. “What other option?”
She looked at him for a moment, a determined tilt to her chin that hadn’t been there before. “This is going to sound crazy, but hear me out, okay?”
“At this point, I’m open to anything.”
“I’m sorry, Colin. I’m sorry about the way I reacted to your proposal. I know I hurt you and I didn’t intend to. But you were right, I was just scared. My whole life I’ve seen relationships fall apart and I told myself I’d never put myself through that. And then I fell in love with you anyway. I didn’t know what to do. When you proposed, the moment was so perfect and I just panicked. I ruined it all and I can never tell you just how sorry I am. I would go back in time and change it if I could, but I can’t.”
Colin had certainly not been expecting this right now. With everything else going on, he wasn’t entirely sure he was emotionally capable of handling her apology. “Natalie, can we talk about this later? I understand you want to get this off your chest, but we’re in the middle of a crisis here.”
“And I’m trying to fix it,” she countered. “Do you love me, Colin?”
He looked down at her heart-shaped face, her brow furrowed in worry. The headset lined her cheek, the microphone hovering right at the corner of her full, pink lips. Of course he loved her. That was what hurt the most. They loved each other, but for some reason, everything had gone wrong and he didn’t understand why. Although he didn’t want to admit it, he figured it couldn’t hurt at this point.
“Yes, I love you, Natalie. That’s why I proposed to you. I wanted to start a life with you and I thought you wanted the same thing.”
“I didn’t know what I wanted, but now I do. I do want to start a life with you.”
Colin barely had a chance to process Natalie’s words before she dropped down onto one knee in front of him. “Natalie, what are you doing?”
“I love you, Colin. There’s nothing I want more than to marry you and build a life together. I’m sorry that I ruined your grand proposal, but I have another one for you. Will you marry me?”
Colin looked around, trying to see if anyone was watching the bizarre scene in front of him. “Are you proposing to me?”
Natalie took his hand and held it tightly in her own. “Yes. I want to marry you, Colin. Right now.”
He stiffened, then dropped down on his own knee, so they could discuss this eye to eye. “You want to get married right now?”
She smiled wide. “Why not? We’ve got a chapel full of your family just a few feet away. My parents are even here. The wedding gown fits me. Not to mention that we’ve got a big, beautiful reception waiting that you and I planned together. It’s exactly the wedding I would choose if we were going to get married any other day. It’s going to go to waste if we don’t use it, so why not today?”