One Breathless Night(6)

By: Jo Leigh

“Happy New Year, you bastard.” Even in the echoing bathroom with two hand driers running, his coworker’s Jamaican-tinged taunt came in loud and clear.

“Antwan, if you just called to harass me, I’m going to program your iPod to play nothing but ABBA.”

“You’re the devil incarnate,” Antwan said. “Here I am minding the weather of the world while you’re out dancing the night away. But being that I’m a nice guy, I’m still going to tell you that downtown Boston is looking tricky around two in the morning. Big snow dump, so you and Faith should hightail it to that fancy apartment right quick after she says yes.”

Rick reached inside his other pocket and pulled out the one-point-four-carat engagement ring he’d put there just before they’d left the apartment. “Thanks, man. Any other trouble spots?”

“Why do you care? You’re still going to ask her to marry you, yes?”

“Yep. Right after we finish the kiss. It won’t be know.”

The last time he’d planned to propose, he’d hidden the ring in his jeans pocket. It had been her birthday. They’d gone up in a hot air balloon, which had seemed like a great idea at the time. The first ten minutes of their special flight? Fantastic. After that? A complete snooze. For both of them. The mood was irretrievably lost somewhere over the Oliver Wildlife Preserve a year ago November.

Of course, if he’d really wanted to ask her the big question nothing would have stopped him, as Antwan had been quick to point out. But then his friend thought he was being an idiot to propose. Antwan liked Faith well enough, but he said he couldn’t see the sparks. He was too damn romantic. A shared sense of humor, purpose and comfort would last long after the honeymoon was over.

“I’m sure nothing will stop you this time.”

Rick’s pulse quickened, which was just his excitement over finally doing the deed. “You got it. Anyway—”

“Hold your horses, Ricky. I’m not finished. Book your flight home for early Saturday morning. That’s the only break I see before Boston gets hit by a series of wicked storms. Potentially record-breaking snowfall.”

“Well, that’s annoying. I made dinner reservations for tomorrow night—”

“Which you might be able to keep, but I wouldn’t count on it.”

“Damn. So, tomorrow night’s a maybe, then we leave on early?”

“Before ten.”

“Well, thanks a bunch.”

“Yes, because I specifically created the polar vortex just to screw up your holiday.”

“I knew it,” Rick said.

Antwan laughed. “You’re proposing, and it’s New Year’s Eve. At least you’ll have a couple of nights. So make them count. Don’t you two be glued to The Weather Channel, eh?”

Okay, now Antwan was being plain annoying. Rick and Faith had been living together for over three years and they always watched The Weather Channel before bed. Just one of the many things they had in common. She completely understood about his work and didn’t even blink when he would hare off with his storm-chaser team at the first hint of a supercell. Hell, most of the time, she’d head out, too. Not as part of his team, but to do her own reporting thing.

She’d come to live in Norman to be near the National Weather Center. They’d met when she’d interviewed him, and he’d known right away that the two of them would be good together.

“Anyway,” Antwan said, a grin clear in his voice, “what are you doing talking to me in some toilet when you could be with your fiancée?

“She’s not my fiancée yet. And how did you know I was in the bathroom?”

“Nothing says class like a flush in the background, my friend. I’ll see you on Monday.”

“Yeah. Thanks, buddy. Happy New Year.”

After disconnecting, Rick looked at the diamond again. It was all clean lines and flawless beauty, just like Faith. She didn’t really wear a lot of jewelry. Not that he’d seen. Which made sense. She was working out in their home gym every day that she wasn’t on assignment, or swimming at the rec center. And when they went climbing or scuba diving, jewelry wasn’t a good idea. But she’d wear an engagement ring. Probably.