This Sergei POV scene from LIFE ON THE EDGE has a MAJOR spoiler in it, so if you haven't read the book and don't like spoilers, this is your flashing-light, raging-alarms warning to stop here :)
This scene doesn't need much setup. You'll know as soon as it starts where it takes place in the book ;)
Tonight was the night.
I opened the small blue velvet box and brushed my thumb over the sparkling diamond. In just a couple of hours, Emily would be wearing this ring and we’d be one step closer to sharing our lives forever.
If she said yes.
My stomach knotted, and I closed the box and slipped it into my jacket. If she wasn’t ready to make this commitment, it wouldn’t change how I felt about her, but I’d never wanted to hear the word “yes” so badly.
I checked my duffel bag one last time to make sure I had everything for my planned setup. With the bag carefully in hand, I locked up my apartment and made the short drive to Em’s townhouse. The absence of her car meant she was still at the grocery store, where she’d said she was headed when I’d talked to her earlier. So far, all was going according to plan.
I rang the doorbell and Aubrey answered. Her brow creased as she looked at my duffel. “Did I miss a big development in yours and Em’s relationship?”
“What?” I stammered.
“Your bag. You planning on spending the night?” She moved aside so I could enter.
“Oh! No, that’s not… that’s not what the bag is for. I brought some stuff for dinner to surprise Em.”
“She’s still at the store.”
“Yeah, I wanted to get here early to set up,” I said as we climbed the steps to the living room.
“Well, you go to town. I’m heading out in a few minutes, so I’ll be out of your way.”
She went down to the kitchen, and I went in the opposite direction up the stairs to the terrace. We hadn’t had snow in a couple of days, but a layer of it still blanketed the wrought-iron furniture and the wood planks and railing. I pulled a towel from my bag and wiped a clean circle on the table.
Reaching into the bag again, I took out the Lyrics book and flipped to the page I’d marked. Em’s heart was going to stop when she read the lines I’d highlighted. My own heart beat faster reading them.
I would love you more than life
If you’ll come and be my wife
I placed the book on the table along with four large lavender-scented candles. Em’s favorite body lotion had the same scent, and the sweet smell made me feel warm despite the cold evening. Moving around the table, I set about decorating the railing with a line of smaller candles. Once Em came home, I’d have to sneak away to light them all.
As I prepared to leave the terrace, I sprinkled a handful of rose petals in a path from the door to the table. I needed to get downstairs since Em should be arriving soon, so I did a quick survey of the patio and hid my bag in the cabinet in the hall.
I heard a car door slam as soon as I reached the living room. I shed my jacket and laid it on the sofa, patting the pocket with the ring. Hurrying to the door, I opened it just as Em stepped onto the porch. Her eyes lit up with a curious smile.
“Did I tell you the wrong time?” she asked.
I took the bag of groceries from her slender arms and kissed her lips softly. “I just couldn’t wait to see you.”
She gave me a return kiss on the corner of my mouth, tickling my skin. “You are so sweet. Do you mind waiting for me to change before I start dinner?”
Perfect. This would give me a chance to put the rest of my plan into motion.
“Not at all. I can chop, slice, peel, whatever you need me to do.”
We went into the kitchen, and Em handed me a cutting board and the vegetables she’d bought. I had to keep from smiling too big as I watched her move between the counter and the fridge. She had no idea what the night would bring. I imagined us like this every evening, preparing dinner and just being together. It was a dream that could soon be reality.
If she said yes.
Em pecked my lips before she jogged up the stairs, and I set down the knife and zucchini. When I heard her bedroom door click shut, I wiped my hands and raced to the living room. My pulse galloped as I transferred the ring box to my pants pocket. The plan was almost complete.
I took the stairs quietly and crept onto the dark terrace. The patio came alive with a soft glow as I used the lighter I’d stashed to ignite the candles. Em was going to absolutely love this. There was no way she could say no in this setting, hearing the things I planned to say to her.
That’s right. Keep thinking confidently.
I left the patio door partly open and snuck down to the level below Em’s bedroom. I was banking on her noticing the open door and going outside. My fingers clamped around the velvet box in my pocket, and I paced back and forth in front of Aubrey’s room. Em should be emerging upstairs at any moment.
Her bedroom door squeaked, and I froze mid-pace. If she didn’t come down the stairs in a few seconds, she had to be on the terrace.
One… two… three…
No sign of her.
I took a deep breath and went up to the top floor. The door was open wider than I’d left it. I moved forward and spied Em on the patio with the book in her hands. My throat became even drier, and I swallowed a few times before stepping onto the terrace.
Em looked up, wide-eyed and speechless, and I gently removed the book from her grasp and set it on the table. Taking her left hand in mine, I dropped to one knee and gazed up at her. A pink flush colored her cheeks, and frosty breaths escaped her parted lips. I fought the desire to wrap her in my arms and kiss her to warm those luscious lips. There would be plenty of time for that after I put the ring on her finger.
I squeezed her hand and thought of all the words I wanted to say. It was a nervous jumble in my head. I drew in another long breath and just started talking, “When you walked into my life, I felt an immediate connection to you. I thought it meant we were destined to work together, but it was more, so much more than I ever expected. One minute you were a friend, and then the next, I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I wanted to be with you every minute of every day. I wanted to know everything about you. I wanted to hold you in my arms and look into your beautiful blue eyes and tell you how you’d stolen my heart.”
Her eyes glistened, and my throat tightened. I had to pause before continuing, “Since we’ve been together, those feelings have only grown stronger. I can’t imagine being with anyone but you. You have so much passion and love in your heart, and you understand me like no one ever has. I don’t think there are enough words to describe how much I love you.”
Tears broke my voice, and I had to pause again. “I know we’ve only been dating a year, and we haven’t exactly had a traditional relationship, but I don’t see those as reasons to wait to take this step. I feel like I’ve waited all my life for this moment.”
I pulled the box from my pocket and let go of Em’s hand for just a second as I removed the ring. Grasping her hand once more, I held up the ring and looked into her eyes. My heart pounded against my chest.
“Emily, will you marry me?”
Tears trickled down her cheeks as she stared at me. I tried to see past the moisture in her eyes, to find a hint of what her answer would be. She still looked stunned.
The longer the silence stretched, the harder my pulse raced. “Em, you are so precious to me,” I said, thick with emotion. “Please say you’ll spend the rest of your life with me.”
She stayed motionless a few more agonizing moments before the shock in her eyes melted into pure happiness. She fell to both knees and touched my face, and my breath hitched.
“Yes!” she gasped.
My heart ballooned with more love than I’d ever felt.
She said yes!
I sealed my lips to hers, and she cried with joy into my mouth. It spread through me, filling me with overpowering elation and desire. I didn’t want our kiss to ever end, but we both eventually needed to breathe.
“We’re getting married,” I said, marveling at how incredible that sounded.
Em grinned and nodded enthusiastically. “We’re getting married.”
I couldn’t tear my eyes from hers. I couldn’t get enough of the love and the excitement in them. My mind reeled as the significance of the moment became clearer. This amazing, perfect woman was going to be my wife. We would never be apart again.
Em reached for my hand that held the ring and laughed with surprise. “Oh! I guess I get this now.”
“Why don’t you stand up first? You must be freezing down here.”
“Let’s both stand up. You’ve been on one knee long enough.” She laughed again.
We stood, and she placed her palm over mine. I slid the ring onto her finger and watched her smile gleam as bright as the diamond. The setting was simple with a solitaire stone on a platinum band, but it was classically beautiful and elegant. Just like Em. I knew it was the perfect ring for her as soon as I’d seen it in the jewelry store.
I brought her hand to my lips and softly kissed her finger. “Forever.”
She circled her arms around my neck and whispered, “Forever.”