Ingrid wished she hadn’t come here tonight. She felt so out of place. The black lace off the shoulder dress looked great on her but she felt too exposed in it and chided herself for not wearing a shawl to cover her back and shoulders. People were milling around, talking and laughing. She stood in a corner watching them, purse clutched in one hand and a glass of mock-tail held in the other.
Why did Amanda invite her to this shindig? The two of them didn’t get along because Amanda was condescending and made it painfully obvious that didn’t like her. She had no idea what she had done to make the older woman so hostile toward her. This is why she was shocked when she received an invitation in the mail two weeks ago. She knew that Seth was the only reason why she was there. Seth was Amanda’s younger brother. Unbeknownst to Amanda, Ingrid and he were seeing each other.
They started seeing each other the day after they met. They met at the company’s picnic and were immediately attracted to each other. He was alone and so was she. He was leaning against the wall, watching her before he walked over to where she stood and introduced himself. They got to talking and then they arranged to have dinner the following evening. Dinner was at a popular French restaurant where they enjoyed a delectable meal before heading to a nightclub. It was a wonderful evening and the first of many dates. Last night when he was at her place, she meant to tell him that she would be here tonight but she never got around to it.
Since she arrived at the party, not once did Amanda go over and talk to her. She was going about the room, chatting with the other guests but she seemed to ignore her. On one occasion she walked right past her to say greet a couple standing nearby. It was humiliating. I don’t need this, Ingrid decided after standing there alone for half-hour. She put her glass down on the window seat. I’m going home. I’m sure no one will even notice that I’m gone. I was really hoping to see Seth tonight but he can come over to my place later.
Just as she was heading for the door, she heard Amanda call for everyone’s attention. After asking people to gather closer she said she had an announcement to make. Curious, Ingrid stood still to hear what she had to say. Amanda invited Seth to join her. Ingrid stared at Seth. When did he get here? She hadn’t noticed him until now.
Amanda looked very pleased. “I’m very pleased to announce my baby brother’s engagement to…Brooke–where are you? Come up here and join us.”
Ingrid felt sick. She didn’t wait to see who this Brooke was. She stumbled to the door and found her way to the bathroom where she dissolved into tears. The door to bathroom opened and she tried to compose herself. She felt two hands on her shoulders turning her around. It was Seth and his face was pale. “You can’t be in here,” she protested. She tried to pull away but his grip was firm. “Please let me go.”
“Let’s go somewhere quiet where we can talk.” He took her hand and led her out of the bathroom. Curious eyes followed them as they left the building and went to his car. When they were seated in the car, he gave her his handkerchief which she used to wipe her eyes. “I didn’t know that you were going to be here,” he said.
“I meant to tell you last night but I forgot.” The pain was unbearable and she wanted to get as far away from him as possible. It hurt too much to be with him knowing…”Why didn’t you tell me about Brooke?” she demanded tearfully.
“Brooke and I used to date but we broke up long before you and I met.”
“Why did Amanda announce that you are engaged to your ex?”
“That was for your benefit.”
She was confused. “What do you mean?”
“Amanda knows about us. A friend of hers saw us together and reported back to her. When Amanda confronted me about it I admitted that we are in a relationship. She was livid and tried to convince me that Brooke was better for me but I made it very clear to her that I loved you. I told her that I was going to ask you to marry me. She stormed out of my flat and I thought that was the end of it. Then, she pulls this stunt, making everyone believe that Brooke and I are engaged. I should have known she was up to something when she said she had an announcement to make and invited me to join her. I saw her looking across the room at you and the smug smile on her face. When I saw you leave the room, I had to follow you and undo the damage she did.” His eyes darkened on her face and he reached out and held her hands in his. “I’m sorry about what Amanda did. I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you if you’ll have me.”
Tears welled in her eyes and she put her arms around his neck. “Of course, I’ll have you,” she said huskily. “I love you too.”
He reached into his pocket and took out a box. “I was going to propose later when I came by your place but now is a good time, I think. Will you marry me, Ingrid?”
“Yes,” she cried and she drawing back as he took the ring out of the box and placed it on her finger. The sun hadn’t set as yet so she could see the ring and how exquisitely beautiful it was. Then, it became a blur.
Seth reached out and cupped her face between his hands. “I love you so much,” he murmured before he lowered his head and kissed her.
She put her arms around his waist and returned his kisses, her heart bursting with joy. Just a few moments ago, her world was torn apart by an announcement.