“Will you marry me?”

engaged The full cover for the first novella in the BRIDESMAIDS series is being revealed tomorrow! Head on over to Rachel’s Random Reads, This Chick Reads, or Sparkly Word (or why not all three!) the afternoon of Saturday 16th April to see more..!

The One With The Engagement Party is the first in a series of four novellas following one bride and her four bridesmaids from proposal to altar. The One With The Wedding Dress, The One With The Hen Weekend and The One With The White Wedding will follow. Look out for their cover reveals as the year goes on.

Last year, as part of the ABCs of Christmas series, I shared my own proposal story. Here it is again, in all its oblivious glory, to celebrate the new cover!

 


 

 

My boyfriend always did birthdays very well, but that year I felt particularly spoiled. 27 wasn’t even an important birthday! Oli had arranged a “surprise weekend away” and the train journey out of Waterloo was half over before I realised where we were going: our old university town where we’d met and started growing up together, years and years before. Heaping nostalgia on nostalgia, he’d even arranged for us to stay in one of the empty-for-the-summer student flats, identical to where I’d lived on campus for my last year.

We went for a long leisurely wander around all our old haunts. It was a balmy August evening, and I was wearing a coral-pink dress with a cut out back and shoes completely inappropriate to the amount of walking we were doing. Oli, on the other hand, was wearing his coat: his long, black, winter coat. He was a bit cold, he insisted, when I queried.

We went for dinner. The student village was tiny, so there wasn’t much choice. We went to the Italian where we’d treated ourselves to dinner the evening we’d handed in our final dissertations. Oli was a bit quiet. He got a lot of texts. And when I went to top up my glass of wine he put his hand over the top of it; for the first time in the long years we’d known one another, he was denying me wine! I should have known something was up.

After dinner we did a little more wandering, heading down the road to the houses we’d been living in with friends when we’d met. Oli asked me to take a picture of him outside the door of his old home that he could send to his ex-housemates. I agreed, holding out my arms to take the overcoat he’d been carrying since we left the restaurant. No no, it’s fine, he insisted – clutching the coat to him in alarm – just take the picture.

The long day, good food and silly shoes were catching up with me, and when we arrived back on campus I wanted to head straight back to the room. Not yet, Oli insisted. Let’s go for a walk in the woods. I argued it was too dark, that we could do that in the morning, but Oli was adamant we should go right then and there. In our last year our group of friends had shared a pet – a funfair goldfish, called Gregory – and when he’d gone to the great fishbowl in the sky, we’d thrown the little guy a very solemn funeral and buried him down in the woods, by the lake. According to Oli it was imperative we go and pay our respects.

So we made our way through the pitch-black woods, down to the old lake and onto the wooden bridge that spanned it. I leaned up against the damp wood and lost myself in happy memories of the four years I’d spent on that campus.

Then I realised Oli had fallen over. Laughing, I stooped to help him up before I realised what was going on. Of course he hadn’t fallen over – he was on one knee, and holding out what I could only assume was an engagement ring (it was too dark to see). And while I’d been daydreaming and not really listening to him, he’d been proposing.

I immediately burst into ugly tears and clung wailing to my boyfriend-now-fiancé. No amount of laundering has ever gotten off the smudge of makeup I left on his nice Hawes & Curtis shirt. After a good ten minutes of this, we realised I hadn’t actually said the word ‘yes’ yet and that I couldn’t see the ring I’d rammed immediately onto my finger. We moved off and stood under the nearest light where I admired my one-of-a-kind platinum diamond ring that Oli had designed himself (with approval from my sneaky best friend) and Oli laughed at the absolute mess I’d made of my eye makeup.

And so it then made sense why Oli had been so jumpy; why he’d dragged his coat around with him all night (the ring box was in the pocket, naturally); why he hadn’t wanted us to be tipsy; why my dad had been so weird on the phone with me the day before (as Oli had done the traditional thing and asked permission, my dad had known it was happening) and why he’d flat-out insisted on dragging me through around in the dark all night…

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