With every drawer I tore apart, I would put it back together in fear that practice might have ended early and Max would walk in on me. I couldn’t find the ring anywhere, which made me think it could have been Vero’s and Marc might have just changed his mind on the ring. That was absurd though, who does that? I looked in the closet and spotted his safe sitting behind his pants on a shelf. I pushed the pants to the side and looked down at the safe, it was locked. That was the only logical location a diamond ring could be, if he still had it. What if it was for a girlfriend in the past? But he didn’t date. Could that ring . . . could that ring be for me? I heard the front door swing open and I put Max’s pants back in their place and quickly closed the closet door just as he walked in. “Do you know what I just realized?” He asked as he headed to the closet and opened the door. “Um . . . what?” “You haven’t met my brothers yet.” I gave him a skeptical look, “from what I’ve heard, I don’t know if I’m mentally prepared to meet them any time soon.” He fiddled around in the closet before he turned around and tackled me on the bed. “I invited them to come down next month when your family and my parents come back.” I smiled and gave him a quick kiss, “I’ll warn my family.” He rolled his eyes at me and grabbed my hands, pinning them to the pillows above my head. “We’re not that bad you know.” I laughed against his lips and felt one of his hands come down and wrap around my lower back. He bit on my bottom lip, pulling it away from my face gently. “Are you busy? Or do you want to have some fun?” I laughed all while trying to get my hands out of his grasp. “Can’t.” He looked in to my eyes with a confused look. “I’m on my period.” “Damn.” He kissed me again before he climbed off of me and headed for what I assumed was a cold shower. My eyes darted to the closet and I noticed the top of his safe was propped open.
“Hey, I have to go to Flower’s he needs help moving around some furniture. Hopefully I’m not too long. Hey what do you say we go out to dinner tonight? Just me and you, maybe somewhere on Grandview. Pick a restaurant, we’ll go tonight.” I nodded my head and kissed him as he walked out of the apartment. I watched the clock tick by with every second and after he had been gone for ten minutes I jumped up and ran to the bedroom. I opened the closet door and at that moment I stopped in my tracks. What the hell was I doing? It didn’t feel right snooping through his stuff. But then again, we do live together. I pulled a hanger off the rack and used the metal hook to flip open the top of the safe. I peeked inside to see some papers, his passport, a photo album and then there it was, the ring box. I reached in and pulled the ring box out. I walked over to the bed, cradling it in my hands like it was an egg. I sat down on the bed, cross legged and continued to look down at the box. A few minutes passed by and I took a deep breath and finally flipped the lid open. It was empty. I felt like I was going to hyperventilate. What the hell was going on? I jumped off the bed and placed the box back in the safe where it was, and closed the lid. I pulled my cell phone out of my purse and called Alicia. “Hey, can I meet you at Starbucks?” “Um yeah sure, are you okay?” I took a deep breath, “I don’t know.” We made plans to meet down at Starbucks and I gathered King and headed out the door. I sent a quick text message telling Max where I would be and that Alicia needed to talk to me. I headed down the road and saw her standing out front. I handed her my cash and took a seat outside.
“So what’s going on?” I took a deep breath then sipped on my Americano. “I found a ring.” Alicia choked on her coffee and looked up at me. “A ring? Like a ring you put on your finger? Like the rings you’re wearing now?” I looked down at my hands, the black diamond buckle ring on my left ring finger and a simple silver band around my right thumb. “Um, a ring you put on your finger, but not like these. More like a huge round diamond, surrounding by more diamonds.” I saw my phone vibrating on the table and picked it up to see a text message from Max. Have you thought about where to go for dinner? I looked back up at Alicia. “He wants to take me to dinner tonight up on Grandview, where should we go?” She inhaled sharply. “He’s proposing.” I shook my head back and forth at a speed that gave me a headache. I quickly texted back. Monterey Bay? “Well let me finish my story. I found the ring, than I found out his teammate proposed to his girlfriend. So I figured it was his teammates ring that he was holding on to, because after that happened the ring disappeared. Well I saw her ring last night, it’s not the same ring.” I looked down at King as I took a sip of my coffee. “So I kind of snooped through Max’s stuff and found the ring box again, and I opened it, and it was empty.” I looked at her to read her blank facial expression but I failed miserably. My phone vibrated again and I opened it up. Sounds perfect, I’ll make reservations for 8. Love you. “Do you think he’s going to propose?” She finally asked. I shrugged my shoulders, “I don’t know. On Valentine’s day he wanted to go to Vegas and get hitched, but we talked about it and we both kind of agreed marriage isn’t in our near future at all.” A smirk appeared on her face. “Max seems to be the type of guy that gets what he wants. He wants you, that’s obvious, it just seems like he wants to make it permanent. Maybe he took the ring to go get it sized, because normal size 7 rings don’t fit your super long, super skinny alien fingers.” I shook the thoughts from my mind and stood up. “I need to go shopping, care to join?”
Alicia and I walked in to Max’s apartment to drop off King when I heard laughter coming from the living room. We walked in further and found Max, Marc and Sidney sitting on the couches. “Hey guys,” I smiled as I took King off his leash. “Alicia this is Marc and Sidney, guys this is my best friend Alicia,” they all waved and said hello and I leaned over the back of the couch to give Max a quick kiss. I couldn’t help but notice his hand was clenched shut, his knuckles a faint white. What was he so pissed off about? “Well we were just dropping King off, and we’re gonna head out shopping, I want to get a new sexy dress for this hot date I have tonight.” I winked at Max and followed Alicia out the front door. “Awkward,” Alicia sang once we were outside of the building. “What?” “We obviously walked in on something they were discussing. They went from laughing to dead silence in two seconds flat. You didn’t noticed that?” I looked over at her and bit my bottom lip, “don’t make fun of me, but I don’t notice a whole lot when Max is in the room.” “Oh my God. What the hell happened to the Lillianah that brushed off every man in sight, and thought relationships were for pussies?” I shrugged my shoulders for the second time that day, “she fell in love.” We headed in to my favorite vintage shop and looked around, pulling out everything imaginable to try on. A saleslady approached us, I recognized her as Verna, she had been working here for as long as I could remember. “Whatcha’ looking for Lil?” She asked with a smile and I spun around to face her. “A dress, I have a date tonight.” Her smile grows wider. “Anything fancy?” I nod my head, “yeah I would say so.” She disappeared in to the back room and came back out with a red dress with lots of ruffles and stuffed me and the dress in the dressing room. When I looked at it closer it was love at first sight. A knee length skirt, with a sweetheart top, that had a thick strap over one shoulder. I quickly stripped out of my clothes and pulled it off the hanger. I found the zipper and pulled it down, catching a quick glimpse at the tag. I swung the door open in my underwear. “I can’t wear this! I’ll ruin it! I can’t afford it!” Alicia gave me a weird look. “It’s ARMANI!” I whispered yelled to her and her eyes got wide, we both looked over at Verna. “Try it on, if it looks good, I’ll let you borrow it.” I swallowed hard and closed the door, slowly pulling the dress on. I prayed and prayed that it would look terrible on me, but when I turned to look in the mirror I fell in love with it.
“I want to meet her Maxime, mom won’t shut up about her!” I rolled my eyes at my brother on the phone. “I know Frank, okay? Next month I’m bringing mom and dad down again, and her family is coming out from Philly, why don’t you and Will come too?” I heard a groan come from the other end of the line. “Will and I need to get out of Montreal now! We’re going crazy up here, we need a boys trip.” I pinched the bridge of my nose in frustration, “alright, alright. Let me do some things and talk to Lil and then I’ll call ya tomorrow, okay?” “Thanks baby bro.” This time I was the one that groaned, “don’t call me that. You call me that again I’m leaving your ass in Montreal.” I headed in to the apartment and found Lillianah closing the closet door. “Do you know what I just realized?” I asked as I opened the closet door and moved some things around before opening my safe. I needed to get the ring out without her seeing. I needed to take it in and have one of the prongs fixed. I was stupid one night looking at it, and I dropped it causing one of the prongs to slip a tiny bit, just enough though that I could notice it. “You haven’t met my brothers yet.” I quickly pulled the ring out and slid it on to my pinky, with the stone on the inside of my hand. “From what I’ve heard, I don’t know if I’m mentally prepared to meet them any time soon.” I turned closed the lid of the safe and then closed the closet. I turned around and pushed her back on to the bed. “I invited them down next month when your family and my parents come back.” I didn’t want to straight up tell her they were coming sooner than planned, I saw how stressed she got with my parents. And honestly? These are two dingbats who aren’t worth stressing over.
I met Flower and Sid at the ring shop. I needed moral support. “So when are you going to do it?” Sid asked as we were served tea while waiting for the ring to be fixed. “No idea. Not any time soon. We had that talk, we’re not ready.” He gave me a strange look and Flower just laughed. “Then why buy a ring?” “It’s an investment in my future.” He still looked at me funny. “So what if things don’t work out with-“ “Don’t say that.” “Hypothetically speaking, if things don’t work out, would you really give that ring to another girl?” I glared at Sid as he took a sip of his tea. “No, it’s meant for Lil, she’s the girl I’m going to marry.” He nodded his head and the jeweler walked back out with the ring. “Now Maxime, no more dropping it,” he smiled in his thick French accent. “It’s going back in the safe,” I assured him and Sidney plucked the ring out of his fingers before walking out. “Shit Talbot, did you drop your whole salary on this?” I took it from him and slipped it on my pinky again. “I said it was an investment.” “You won’t make any money from it though.” I smirked, “true, but I’ll get a whole lot more ass.” “Ain’t that the damn truth,” Flower laughed and we all headed back to my apartment. We spread out over the couches in the living room with the NHL network playing on the television. It suddenly became pick on Max day. “Imagine the kids he’ll have,” Sid laughed nearly doubling over. “They’ll come out hairy as hell flipping the doctor off.” “And tattoos all over them,” Flower chimed in and I just shook my head and looked down at the ring I was still holding. Kids. Why are they talking about kids? They continued laughing when I heard the door open. Sidney and Flower immediately shut up when Lillianah and Alicia came in to view. I squeezed the ring in my hand, making sure she wouldn’t see it. After giving me a quick kiss and dropping off her dog she headed back out with her friend to go shopping. “Close call there Max, maybe you should go put the ring away,” Flower advised and I nodded and got up, heading to the bedroom. I put the ring in it’s box, shut my safe and locked it.
I straightened my tie in the mirror for the fourth time as I waited for Lillianah to come out of the bathroom so we could head out for our reservations. “Okay Max,” I heard from behind me and spun around to see her in a beautiful red dress with her hair swept up in to a messy bun on the lower part of her head. My eyes went down her legs to her black peep toe heels. “You’re ankle feel okay in those?” She laughed and nodded her head. I noticed her bright red lips, with the rest of her makeup looking very, very natural. She might not be wearing any at all. My breath caught in my chest as I looked her over one more time. “You look absolutely stunning Lil,” I smiled as I walked up to her and placed my hands on her waist. She flinched at my touch and I gave her a confused look. “This dress is being loaned to me, it’s . . . it’s expensive, I can’t ruin it. I’m stressing out over it.” I grabbed her hand and twirled her around. “You look so damn good in it, I might have to buy it for you.” “Max, it’s vintage Armani. It’s two . . . two-thousand dollars,” she breathed out and my eyes nearly bulged out of my head. But then I shook my head, the suit I was in was Armani, and cost about a grand. So really, for vintage, it wasn’t that bad. “So no tearing it off you later?” “Oh god no!” She shouted and I stifled a laugh as she hit my shoulder and walked out of the bedroom.
I sat next to her at our table next to the windows with a beautiful view of downtown. “I love this city,” she smiled as she grabbed my hand under the table and gave it a squeeze. “I do too,” I smiled and placed my hand under her chin, bringing her attention to me so I could kiss her. We enjoyed our seafood meal discussing the up coming trip our families would venture on to meet each other here in Pittsburgh. Overall, she seemed excited about it. After her wine glass was filled up again, she placed her hand on my thigh and leaned in to me as we continued to look out over the city. “I love you Max, I’m so happy we found each other.” “You mean you’re happy I stalked you,” I laughed and she turned her head and kissed my cheek. “Yeah, you did kind of stalk me didn’t you? Hey I need to ask you a question. Don’t freak out on me okay?” I tensed up as she turned in her seat to look at me. I nodded my head for her to continue. “I found a diamond ring in the underwear drawer. Who’s . . . what is it?” I panicked. I could feel my face light on fire and weird noises were coming out of my mouth. I knew it was stupid of me to put it in that drawer, that’s why I moved it to the safe. “Tyler. It’s Tyler’s,” I finally blurted out and she tilted her head to the side. “He has a girlfriend?” “I guess so, I didn’t ask details, he just asked me to hold on to it for him.” Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit. “Oh,” she sighed with a hint of disappointment in her voice, “I see.” She turned to look back out the window and I pinched the bridge of my nose again, cursing to myself in French in my head.