“How long are Cameron and you going to continue living together?” Mrs. Brown asked her daughter, Nara when they were sitting at the kitchen table on a Saturday afternoon. Nara was spending the weekend with her family in Manchester. Her father and brothers had gone on a camping trip. It was just her mother and her.
Nara shrugged her shoulders. Every time she saw her mother, she was asked the same question. “I don’t know,” was the reply she always gave. She wouldn’t admit that for the past three years, she had asked herself the same question.
“Has he ever said anything about getting married?”
Nara shook her head. “No, he hasn’t.”
“Is he ever going to? I mean it has been five years since the two you have been dating and three years since you have been living together. Don’t you think it’s about time that you started thinking about your future?”
“I know that Cameron loves me.”
“Does he love you enough to marry you?”
“I think so…”
“But, you’re not sure. Honey, I think that it’s time you talked to Cameron about marriage. Find out once and for all what his plans are. If he doesn’t want to get married, you need to know that.”
“What if he’s not ready?”
“You can’t continue living with him until he’s ready for marriage.” Her mother reached out and covered her hand. “I think you should move out. It’s not right for you to be living with someone who’s not your husband. I didn’t say anything before because I felt that you were old enough to make your own decisions even if they are wrong and go against what you were taught growing up in a Christian home. I don’t suppose you go to church anymore.”
Nara shook her head, lowering her eyes unable to return her mother’s penetrating stare. Instead of going to church on a Sunday morning, she would spend most of it in bed with Cameron. Surely, the way he made love to her was evident of his love for her. There were times after their lovemaking, she would just stare at him, thinking how lucky she was to have him in her life. And he wouldn’t have asked her to move to London with him if he didn’t love her.
“Well, tomorrow, you will come to church with me. Everyone will be happy to see you. And don’t worry, no one will ask any prying questions.”
Nara felt nervous about going to church because she had not attended since she and Cameron moved to London. She didn’t feel right going for that reason.
“I believe that God has a plan for your life,” her mother said.
“I hope Cameron is a part of the plan,” Nara said, “because I love him so much. I can’t bear have a future without him.”
“I hope so for your sake. He is a nice young man. I remember when he used to come over to our house every Sunday after church. The two of you were inseparable as children. I always suspected that one day, your feelings for each other would grow into something serious but I never imagined that the two of you would go off to London and live together. I always thought that you would get married first. Nara, it’s high time that he makes an honest woman out of you.”
Nara felt the tears spring to her eyes and she quickly blinked them back. She got up from the table. “I going to go for a walk,” she said. “I have a lot to think about.”
The following day, they went to church and the moment she stepped through the doors, she felt such a warm welcome. She was moved by the beautiful music and the sermon was exactly what she needed to hear. Afterwards, her mother and she were invited to a member’s home for lunch. They spent the afternoon with her and then returned to the cottage.
After promising her mother that she would have a serious talk with Cameron about their future and that she would start going back to church, Nara took the train back to London.
Cameron was home she got to the flat. Something smelled really good. When he heard the door close, he came out of the kitchen and went over to her, smiling. “I missed you,” he said, pulling her into his arms and kissing her.
She kissed him back and for several minutes, they eagerly exchanged kisses and then she pulled away to stare up into his flushed face. “I missed you too,” she said. She reached up and brushed the strands of hair back from his forehead. “Something smells really good.”
“I just finished preparing dinner. I made your favorite.
“You made Chicken Milano,” she said with a smile. It was then, that she noticed that the table was set with their finest dinnerware. “What’s all this?” she asked.
“I’ll explain in a little while. Just have a seat at the table while I get everything ready.”
She opened her mouth to tell him that she had to talk to him about something really important but decided that it could wait until after dinner. “I’ll take a quick shower and change into something else,” she said and walked away.
When she came back he was just lighting the candles on the table. She watched him, thinking how handsome he looked in the black shirt and dress jeans.
She saw his gaze travel over her slim figure in the floral sundress. “You look beautiful,” he murmured before he went over and kissed her on the shoulder then he pulled out the chair for her to sit on. She trembled, feeling the skin tingle where his lips had been.
He sat down and he raised a glass of their favorite non-alcoholic wine in a toast. “To us,” he said and touched his glass to hers. His eyes shimmered as they met hers. “We’ll have the salad first and then the main course,” he said.
Before they began, Nara said a prayer and then tucked into the tasty Caprese salad. One of the things she loved about Cameron was that he was such an excellent cook. The Chicken Milano was to die for. For dessert, they had lemon ice which was very refreshing. He encouraged her to relax on the sofa while he cleared the table and washed up.
As she sat there, listening to the sound of running water coming from the kitchen, she wondered how she was going to broach the subject that had been on her mind all the train ride from Manchester to London. She closed her eyes at the thought of it all going terribly wrong.
He joined her just then. “Did you have a good visit with your family?” he asked.
“Yes. Dad and my brothers were on a camping trip so it was just Mom and me,” she said. “I went to church this morning.”
“How was it?”
“I was nervous about going because it had been years since the last time I went but everyone made me feel so welcome. Some of them asked about you. They don’t know that we’re living together.”
“Nara, there’s something I want to say to you. Please bear with me. I’m a little nervous.”
Her heartbeat accelerated. Her mind was racing. What did he want to say to her?
He took her hands in his, his eyes meeting hers in a steady gaze. “You and I have known each other for years. We grew up together and have been inseparable since we were children. My feelings for you changed when we became teenagers but nothing came of it because I went off to Oxford while you remained in Manchester. We kept in touch through letters and saw each other when I visited during the summer and Christmas holidays. After I left university, I went to London where I found a job and a flat. That’s when I sent for you to come and live with me. I wanted us to be together. I still do but not like this.”
Her eyes widened. “What do you mean?”
“I don’t want us to continue living together like this,” he said. He reached into breast pocket of his shirt and took out a little red velvet box. He opened it and her mouth dropped open when she saw the beautiful diamond ring. “I have been saving for this ring for the past two years. The three stones represent the past, present and future. You and I have experienced the first and the second now I would like us to experience the third.” He got down on one knee, his eyes tender as they met hers. “Nara, will you marry me? Will you spend the rest of your life with me as my wife and not my live-in girlfriend?”
Nara was crying now. The tears just poured down her face and it took a moment for her to say, “Yes!”
He took the ring out of the box and holding her hand in his, he slipped it on her finger. Then, he reached up and cupped her face, bringing it down so that he could cover her lips in passionate kisses. “I love you,” he murmured in between the kisses.
She clung to him, kissing him back, her heart filled with joy. She couldn’t wait to call her mother and tell her the news. God did have a plan for her life and Cameron was a very big part of it.