Regina and Ronnie had been dating for a year, so she wasn’t surprised when he called to tell her to meet him at Monte’s that night. He had an important issue to discuss.
She guessed what that issue was, and her friends all agreed; he was going to propose.
When she showed up at Monte’s in Bay Ridge, she had on her favorite green dress. Her hair, nails and face were made up. The moment had to be perfect. It was going to be a night worth remember.
She looked around. Ronnie had chosen well. The restaurant screamed romance. The small room was filled with wooden tables covered in understated china and linen tablecloths. The only light came from candles.
Ronnie was already there. She stood at the entrance watching the man she loved play with his necktie as he looked at the menu. Looking up, he smiled and waved her over.
“You look very handsome tonight.” She said once they had ordered.
“Thanks.” He started speaking at least three times, but would stop. She found his nervousness endearing.
The wine came, and Ronnie gulped down two glasses before pouring one for her.
Taking pity on him, she said, “You have something to ask me. The sooner you ask, the sooner I can say ‘yes’.”
He sagged in relief and pulled something out of his pocket.
“Get down on one knee.” She ordered before he ruined the moment.
He went down without hesitating. People were looking. It was going to happen. She held her breath.
“Regina.” He took her hand, kissed it, and placed something inside. “Will you move in with me?”
“What?” She looked at the key in her hand, and then into his expectant green eyes. Why had she never noticed how beady they were?
Every eye in the place was still on them. “Get back in your seat.” She spoke through clenched teeth.
Confused, he did as he was told. “What’s wrong?”
“You gave me a key. I expected a ring.”
“This is just like a ring.”
If it was meant as a joke, she didn’t find it funny. “No. Not even close.”
“You said you were ready to say ‘yes’.”
“I expected a marriage proposal. Not this.” She let the key fall out of her hand onto the table.
“Living together is just like being married,” he protested.
“Really?” He nodded. “Didn’t you live with Mary?”
“You know I did.”
“And it was just like being married.”
“So, basically, you’ve have three failed marriages and want me to be number four?” She was getting louder with each word.
“Come on, don’t look at it like that.”
“How should I look at it?”
“Calm down.” A deep baritone intruded into their discussion.
She spun around. The voice belonged to a handsome man with soft brown eyes, tanned skin and a mustache. He was well dressed, but his calloused hands said he worked for a living. “Why should I?”
“Because commitment scares him.” He pointed his thumb at Ronnie. “And a beautiful lady like you deserves better.”
“Watch it.” Ronnie growled, and started to stand.
He raised an eyebrow. “You going to propose to her?” Ronnie clamped his jaw shut. “Didn’t think so.”
Regina tilted her head. “Are you ‘better’?”
She liked his confidence.
“If you’re finished here, please join me and my parents for dinner. We’re celebrating their anniversary.”
She hesitated. “Dinner?”
“Sure. If things go well, we’ll see a movie tomorrow. If things go really well, which I hope they do, I’ll offer you a real commitment.”
She picked up her purse and walked over to the seat he held out for her. “I’m Regina DeVito.”
Regina never looked back.