Frank swung the screen door open. “What you two kids up to? Do you need a chaperone or something? All that lip-locking out here.” He shook his head. “The neighbors will talk, you know.”
“What neighbors? The closest ones are a mile away,” Rusty teased, tucking Becca into his side and guiding her into the house. Frank took a few steps back, allowing them to enter.
“Well, that’s funny. Could’a sworn I heard some sort of announcement going on out here. Like somebody proposing or something.”
Becca felt her face flush and she toed the wood floor, not sure she was ready for their special moment to be public knowledge.
“Someone was eavesdropping again. Don’t you know that’s rude?” Rusty narrowed his brows at Frank. “And if you’re going to eavesdrop, at least get it right. It was a promise to propose once I’m able to save up for a ring and can prove to her father I can provide a real future for us.”
In a huff, Frank knocked his cane to the floor then shoved his hand in his pocket. “Well, I do listen. And I wouldn’t have to eavesdrop if my only grandson ever told me anything. You know, I am family.”
“I know, and I would’ve told you if I was going to officially propose.”
“Well, that’s just plain stupid. You want to marry the girl or not? In my day, a girl would slap you for such a sorry excuse for a proposal.”
“Again, it wasn’t a proposal,” Rusty huffed.
Becca handed Frank his cane then stroked his arm, trying to keep him calm. If the boys’ bickering got out of control, Frank was likely to have another fit.
“Because I don’t have a ring,” Rusty shot back.
“Yes, you do,” Frank replied, his jaw set.
Rusty rubbed his forehead and leaned against the wall leading to the dining room. “Look, I don’t want to fight with you, Grandpa. I don’t have a ring right now, but I plan to get one as soon as I can, okay?”
“Why wait?” Frank pulled his hand from his pocket and opened his fist to reveal a charming white gold ring with a diamond solitaire. “It ain’t much, but it did your grandma and I good for years.”
Rusty’s eyes misted. “Grandpa, you don’t know what you’re doing. You said you’d be dead before anyone ever touched Grandma’s ring.”
Frank stomped his cane again. “I darn well know what I’m doing. And I just meant no thief would get hold of it. Besides, back then I thought you’d make a lousy choice and end up divorced. Becca, here’s, the right girl. Therefore you get the ring.”
Becca couldn’t believe her eyes. Here was Frank, offering up the one thing he had left from the woman who had ruled his heart for most of his life. She was everything to him.
Rusty cleared his throat and wiped at his eyes. “You don’t need to—”
“I know I don’t need to. The question is, do you think Becca’s worth it or not?”
Without hesitation, he said, “Oh, she’s worth it.” She was already having trouble staying upright and the grin he shot her nearly did her in.
“Then shut up and put the ring on her, you fool.”
Rusty took the ring from Frank’s hand and every last molecule of air rushed from Becca’s lungs. Was this really happening? Had she finally found happiness? And if she had, was it really here to stay? Or would he run out on her someday like her mom had?
Rusty took Becca’s hand and pulled her closer. His fingers grazed her cheek and she leaned into them, his touch warm and reassuring. “I’ll still ask your father for your hand, but for now let’s make a promise to each other.” He lowered to one knee and her breath hitched again. “Becca, I’d planned for this moment to be perfect, with candles and a romantic dinner. But I realize now that none of that matters. What matters is how we feel for each other. You’re everything to me. You’re the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning, the last thing I want to see when I go to sleep. When I’m having a bad day, I close my eyes and picture your smiling face and everything feels bearable again. You’ve taught me that anything’s possible and dreams can come true. It’s because of you that I believe in a bright future full of love and family again.” He took a deep breath and held out the ring with a shaky hand. “Rebecca Ann West, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”
Becca’s lip quivered as she fought to form the one word screaming over and over through her head.
“This is the part where you say yes,” Frank grumbled, nudging her in the side.
Nodding, Becca flew into Rusty’s arms, knocking him to the floor. She kissed him with everything she had, and only then did she finally find her voice. “Yes. Of course, yes!”
Frank cleared his throat. “Usually the wedding comes before the honeymoon. You’re gonna give this old man a heart attack.”
Becca caught a glimpse of Frank as he wiped his sleeve across his eyes. “All this nonsense is nauseating. Hurry up and knock it off, you two. Let’s get something to eat. Of course, someone ain’t picked up my new teeth yet,” he grumbled as he toddled off to the kitchen. “I guess it’s applesauce again.”
Before Becca could move, Rusty tightened his grip around her and stroked her hair. “I know you worry about being abandoned, but I promise you, nothing will ever tear me from you. I am yours forever and always.”