As Ambrose swept the floor, music filled his thoughts. Joyful music without any lyrics. Music that called for handclapping and exuberant Irish dancing. He swept to its rhythm.
I wish Barbara were here. I would take her in my arms and we would dance. Oh, how we would dance. We would dance like we were mad. We would dance like fools. We would dance with joy.
I want to grab her up and run, drive, fly, whatever to Las Vegas and get married at the first wedding chapel we see, with or without a presiding Elvis impersonator.
But a wedding like that wouldn’t feel real. It would be exhilarating and I want to do it. If she said yes, I would say yes. But Barbara deserves the real thing. A proper priest. A church. Family. Loved ones. And her in a wedding gown.
I want that.
I want it so much.
I want to see her walk down that aisle. Her eyes on me. My heart ready to burst.
I want that.
My Barbara would become my wife.
Ambrose put the broom and dust pan back into the closet and pulled out the vacuum cleaner. He hauled it out into the lobby, plugged it in, and flipped the switch.
But first thing is first.
He shut the vacuum cleaner off and returned to Sammy. “Do you have her father’s address?”
Sammy seemed surprised by the blunt question. “No. Why?”
“I managed to get your permission. I want to get his too. I want to keep things moving before I get too scared.”
“You could ask Ms. Addleston.”
“And tip her off to my intentions? No. I don’t know how dragons do it, but no. I want to take her completely by surprise. I want to make her speechless.” He laughed softly. “I want her to remember my proposal as the most wonderfully, ecstatically, unexpectedly romantic moment in her life.”
Sammy rearranged her pens and pencils in nice straight lines.
“Do you have his phone number?”
Sammy sighed. “Yes.”
“Can I have it?”
“Before I do, I have one more question.”
“If any of your past lovers were to—”
Ambrose smiled. “I know where this is going and my answer is no. I will never cheat on Barbara. Not even with Elsie. Not even if Elsie threw herself at me and begged me to come back, which—” He chuckled. “—is impossible for so many reasons. We’ve both moved on and I’m fine with that. I never thought I would be. I always thought that I’d be crying for Elsie in my sleep long after she was dead and buried.”
His expression softened. “Barbara has done this to me with her kindness, with her patience, with just how she is. Sammy, Barbara Addleston is the one I’ve been waiting for. The one I thought didn’t exist. I will love her till I die.”
Sammy’s face betrayed none of his thoughts. He bowed his head and wrote a series of numbers on a yellow sticky note. He handed the note to Ambrose and the lights above the desk browned and flickered. “Just remember this, Mr. Smith: If you ever betray her, if you ever hurt her, if you ever change her, I will kill you in the most brutal way possible. Is that clear?”
“Unnecessary, but yeah. Plenty clear.”
The lights returned to normal. “Good.”