Last night was life changing. Allegro had asked me out on a date, but wouldn’t tell me anything about where we were going, what we were doing, nothing! I texted Lyric, trying to put the squeeze on her, but all she texted me was “Wear something pretty! ;)” I didn’t have her closet to raid again this time, so I had to do some deep diving in my own. Way, way in the back, I found the dress I wore for my graduation from the Sugar Loaf Academy. Sure, it’s technically maternity (and I was the only baker that day with a bun in the oven – haha), but it was a Bloomin’ Gorgeous by Urban Textiles that I scored for a fraction of the cost at Rags to Riches Consignment Shop, despite looking new. So with judicious use of a bottle of fabric glue I had mama pick up for me at the craft store on the way home from work, I made it look presentable on my significantly less bulgy frame. I think Allegro really liked it, because when he met me at the ferry terminal, all he said was “Wow.” And then he took my hand and walked me to the public dock. I was pretty confused at first – I’d just got off the ferry, why were we getting back in a boat?! Eventually, it became clear that Allegro was taking me to the smaller island to the North of Windenburg Island.
London silently cursed Lyric as stumbled up the hill for the umpteenth time.
Wear something pretty, London mimicked Lyric in her head. She could have at least suggested I wear ballet flats.
But she hadn’t and was subsequently wearing what her father would have condemned as “improper footwear”. Hiking in hot pink wedges was not a punishment she would wish on her worst enemy.
“Allegro! Slow down,” London gasped.
“We can’t slow down or we’ll miss it,” Allegro called over his shoulder.
“Miss what?! Allegro!”
Allegro vanished through a gap in the undergrowth. London was debating sitting down and calling it quits when he reappeared.
“Hurry up, slowpoke! You’re almost there.” Allegro was practically dancing with excitement. When London finally caught up to him, he grabbed her hand and pulled her through the bushes. On the other side was a large clearing over looking the channel. Allegro lead London all the way over to the edge of the cliff.
“Allegro, this is beautiful!”
The sky turned the same orange as the wild cosmos on the cliff as the sun sank below the horizon. Allegro wrapped his arm around London’s waist; she leaned her head on his shoulder. Seagulls pinwheeled in the sky, circling above two sailboats that had dropped anchor for the evening. Soon, the sun had lowered completely and the dark blue of night began to blanket the sky.
“C’mon, I have something else to show you.”
Allegro lead her over to a candlelit dinner for two. Clearly, he’d had some help with the set up.
“Allegro,” London whispered, as tears slipped down her cheeks. Allegro noticed and smiled. He took her face in his hands and gently wiped away her tears with his thumbs.
“London, I’m glad you are so happy. You are worth it to me.”
London looked away and let out a shaky breath.
“So, what’s for dinner?”
“I’m glad you asked! Right this way, madame.” Allegro escorted her to her seat and pulled out her chair for her.
“Tonight we will be dining on Lobster Tortellini and Chardonnay.”
London, who drank little to counter her mother’s excess and could just tell a red from a white, was surprised by its earthy tones. She had only ever had sweet wines, and said as such.
“Ah, well lobster is best paired a white wine, with more mineral and vegetable notes, rather than a fruit-oriented wine,” Allegro replied knowledgeably.
London smiled at what she had begun to refer to in her head as “AllegroFacts”. Much of the dinner, he spent regaling her on his search for the perfect wine to pair with the lobster (as previously, he hadn’t known what to pair with it either), and tossing in all the little bits of trivia he’d learned and London had grown to love.
As they finished dinner, London first noticed the large pond to her left, filled with lilies and cattails.
“Allegro, what is this place?”
“I’m glad you asked,” Allegro repeated, helping her from her chair.” As they strolled closer to the pond, London realized it wasn’t a pond at all, but an overgrown pool. As she peered into the darkness, London could make out crumbling walls.
“A long time ago, this was the location of the Knight’s summer palace. But eventually, a certain fickle queen decided she wanted a new summer palace built somewhere else.”
“It’s hard to believe someone like Queen Portia is related to Stellan,” London said, thinking of the young and extravagant ruler.
“True,” Allegro replied, reaching out an arm to steady London as she kicked off her shoes and sat down on the edge of the pool. “But she and Stefan were never meant to ascend to the throne and never learned how to properly rule. They had lived a lavish life, and Portia preferred that to being Queen and she paid he ultimate price for it.”
“It seems so unfair, though.” London shook her head.
“It was, in a way. But it was also unfair to all of her subjects how they starved and boarder towns were terrorized while she and her husband wasted money on parties and new palaces. Never the less, the palace was completely abandoned and crumbled over time. Now, this spot is know as The Bluffs to the locals. It’s a popular spot for dance parties. DJ Bear, in particular, is known to spin here.”
“She is a legend in these parts. She keeps her identity a secret, so know actually knows who she is,” Allegro explained. “But people have been coming here for years, long before there were dance parties. It’s especially popular with couples looks for a spot to rendezvous in private. That bush over there is the very one I was conceived in.” Allegro gestured to a large bush with green and red heart shaped leaves.
“Oh my gosh, Allegro! Too much information!” London knew she’d never be able to look at Mr. and Mrs. Rhys the same way again.
“But before that, before I was even just a dream, my dad proposed to my mom here. Which is why…” Allegro pulled London up from where she was sitting.
“London, before I met you, I was lost. I was dating so many different girls, I could hardly keep their names straight. My job was just something that was keeping me from seeing one of my girls. They only thing I ever cared about was my family. But when I met you. London, you felt like family.”
London’s slightly confused smile faded as she began to comprehend what was happening.
“London, you are kind, and creative, and the best mom. You give me a sense of family that I’ve never felt with another girl. I want you to be my family. Orla, too. I want to grow our family with you. I want to be your family forever.”
“No, no, no,” London muttered, pleading with her eyes for him to stop. Allegro got down on one knee.
“Which is why, London Dawn Caliente, I’m asking you to be my wife. Will you marry me?” Allegro finally noticed London for the first time since he had started rambling his speech. She was not smiling, she was not crying from happiness; she just looked terrified.
“London?” Allergro’s big goofy grin disappeared, worry creased his brow.
“No,” she whispered.
“No,” she said a little more loudly. “Allegro, I’m sorry, but I can’t marry you. I was going to break up with you.”
It was Allegro’s turn to look stunned. He stood up, stumbling backward slightly. London reached to help him, but he fended her off.
“What do you mean you were going to break up with me? You were crying tears of joy just a little bit ago.”
“Those weren’t tears of joy Allegro,” London confessed. “I was crying because you were making this harder than it already was. Allegro, I love you, I truly do. But I am fighting for custody of my daughter right now . And the judge is already against me. He already thinks I spend to much time working; he just views you as taking away more time from Orla.”
“But that’s not true! The majority of our dates have included Orla and Capella.”
“You and I know that, but he is just looking for excuses to keep my daughter from me. As far as he’s concerned, you’re just some random guy keeping me from my duties.”
“So then marry me and I won’t be some random guy!”
“It’s not that simple. We haven’t been together long enough.”
“It’s been long enough for me. I know. I love you. And you just said you love me, too.”
“I do love you Allegro. But I loved Trevor, too. Once upon a time, believe it or not. But love isn’t enough. It’s not a guarantee things will work out.”
At the mention of Trevor’s name, Allegro grew angry.
“I am not Trevor! I will never treat you the way he did!”
“Look at the way your treat all of your girlfriends before me.” London hated to go for such a low blow, but he wasn’t listening to her.
“You’re different! You make me feel -”
“I know, I heard you the first time.” London held up her hand. “You think I’m your family. Allegro, did you ever stop and think maybe I feel like family because I know how to take care of people? Because I’m a mom? And being a mom needs to be my priority right now.”
“This is just temporary London. I want to be with you forever.”
“Allegro, I can’t jeopardize my future with my daughter in exchange with a future with you.”
“If you do this, if you break up with me, there will be no future with me! I won’t wait for you!”
“It wouldn’t be fair of me to ask that of you, Allegro,” London said sadly.
“Stop saying my name,” shouted Allegro. But before London could say anything more, Allegro stormed off.
At first, I was afraid he’d left me stranded on the island. But when I finally made it to where the boat had been, he was still there, angrily throwing rocks into the water. When I suggested as much, he simply looked disgusted at me. The trip back to Windenburg Island was a quiet one, with only the roar of the motor to break our frigid silence. I tried to speak with him when we landed, but he just stoically tied up his boat and walked away without another word. So now I’ve lost Allegro, as well as Stellan. I just hope I don’t lose Orla as well.