My man has good timing. Or maybe just phenomenal retention of details over time. It will have to remain a mystery, because I'm not going to dredge up the thing that would answer the question one way or another with him.
It's been roughly a year since one of his visits to California lined up with me being at a low point, as the man living my life dropped a "Save The Date" on me to say he was going to stay as Simon for, presumably, life. That date was last weekend, but instead of moping around some dismal wedding venue in Cleveland, feeling conflicted about what message bringing my rich boyfriend sends to the man who stole my life, I was lying on the beach in Jamaica, letting a charming Scottish man fetch me vodka martinis, pondering getting a Honey Ryder bikini for selfie purposes, even if I don't quite have the same sort of curves Ursula Andress did.
Indeed, by Sunday night I was relaxed and content by the campfire, showing Iain how to make s'mores, which are apparently not a big thing in Scotland. I was thinking of it as just a vacation, not connected with that other thing, so I was genuinely surprised when, as we were about to dose the fire, he got down on one knee, pulled a jewelry box from somewhere, and asked me to marry him.
I stopped beating for a moment. I don't know what goes through a real girl's mind then but I had so many thoughts all at once. I had never imagined seeing this scene from this perspective, looking down at at a man on one knee with the ring extended toward me like the really cheesy bit in a 3D movie, and there's an amazing feeling when it hits you that someone likes you enough to make this offer.
And also, I did it! I've played the part of a woman so successfully that there was nothing in the back of his mind that made proposing feel wrong. I'd made him like the parts of me that were different from the original Joy, maybe even more, because he hadn't asked her. And, yes, I'd landed myself a rich husband, one who would give me peace and security no matter what else being Joy threw at me. It was the biggest sales job I've ever done, with the biggest commission.
You may say that sounds mercenary and awful, but I didn't feel any guilt as I said "yes" with genuine delighted surprise and let him slide the ring onto my finger. I'm not the first pretty girl to use my good looks to lock in a comfortable life, and I won't be the last - and most of the others grew up learning how to navigate the world as a woman.
And I do love him. It's probably not the same way a regular woman lives a man, but I feel good when I'm around him and warmer as he held me and kissed me. I feel a bit of envy where most girls probably just feel desire, and I probably measure him against what I'd do in a similar situation more than his other girlfriends have, but he scores well, so what of it?
All of that did make it feel different when we had sex as soon as getting back to the hotel room. We'd liked each other before; now we belonged to each other, and we were both a bit more aggressive and careful with what we were holding. I think I may have enjoyed it bit more, too - it was almost like back when I first discovered my clit and was learning new ways to stimulate it with each new guy. No pressure, just fun.
Still, when I got into the shower afterward, taking off my earrings and necklace and other jewelry, I looked at the ring and had a brief moment where I didn't know whether to take it off or not, thinking that girls who had planned to get married since they were kids knew but I didn't because I'm a fake. I decided not to take it off, but it took a second, and Iain noticed the hesitation. He thought it was funny when I said that I'd just realized I'd never be totally naked again.
I had a quick moment of panic when we got to the airport because of it. I think that most of us guys the Inn turned into girls tend to go light on jewelry, and I always take it off before going through airport security, but obviously this wasn't coming off. It was a silly thing to worry about - did I think every engaged woman or married couple took these things off and risked losing them in the x-ray machine? - but I didn't think about it until that moment.
Then we got home and it was time to show off the ring, and that was kind of weird. Not at first - Sir Robert was the first person we told and showed, and he was just as sweet as can be. Weathers and some of the other help may not have been completely pleased - I get the feeling some of them see Iain marrying an American who isn't rich as beneath him and somehow them by extension - but to hell with them. I may be able to fire them if they give me crap by this time next year.
I haven't made a while lot of female friends of my own here yet - we travel, split time between the manor and London, and lots of Iain's friends are couples anyway - so that's kind of weird. I see them with him, and my first instinct is to kind of be causal, but he wants to tell them, and I get it. It's a big deal, and a really nice ring, after all, and I've certainly liked it when a girl showed off a gift I gave her in my old life, but it kind of starts to feel one-sided at a certain point. He's not wearing a ring showing that he's claimed and off the market, and I've got to relate the whole story of him getting down on one knee like I was surprised and flattered and not like this is something I've been working toward, even though I'm pretty sure some of these women were just as mercenary as me.
Joy's parents are thrilled, but I'm already wondering what the next year's going to be like. The bride's family isn't people who can be minimized when wedding planning, but I've been living my own life. They probably know a lot more about Joy's dream wedding than I do, and I'm guessing it might be useful. I don't have a dream wedding, after all, and living her dream is probably better than just going through the motions.
After which I'll be Joy McKinnon. I suppose I should be a little sad about that, but it's not like "Kershaw" means that much to me.
Still, there's a lot coming up, because I've got this ring on my finger, even if most of my life is staying the same.