Hildreth wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. “Elsie. You are amazing. You actually had the right kind of fire extinguisher on hand. And you had two of them!”
Elsie set her extinguisher upright on the couch. “I believe in being prepared.”
“Apparently.” He put his extinguisher next to hers. “And you knew how to use it. You showed that blazing tv who da boss was.”
She smiled. “What about you? You weren’t exactly slacking in the corner.”
Her smile fell. She hugged him and fell silent.
He stroked her wild black hair. “What’s wrong?”
“This is the what? Seventh? Eighth? time we’ve been interrupted.”
“Pretty sure it’s been at least twenty.”
She held him tighter. “What if all of these interruptions are a sign? What if we aren’t meant to be together?”
He didn’t reply right away. “How do you mean ‘be together’? As a couple? As husband and wife? As a man and a woman?”
“All of it.”
“Els. Stop. Just stop before you make yourself splitting nuts crazy.”
She released him. “But, Hildreth. The tv exploded. Stop and think about that. The tv exploded for no reason and without any warning.”
“And it caught on fire.”
“Yes! Exactly! It caught on fire. If that isn’t a sign of doom—”
“I don’t really care about signs of doom.” He caressed her face. “I care about you, Elsie Vansing. I want to marry you. I want to be your husband. If the entire universe and all of fate want to keep us apart, well. They’ll have to make the earth swallow me whole.”
“I love you, Elsie. My beautiful, fierce Elsie.” He kissed her. “What do you say about trying again?”
“What? And have the roof come crashing down on us?”
“Sure! Why not?”
“Because my home owner’s insurance doesn’t cover Acts of God.”
“You need better insurance, hon.”
“Probably. And we need to get the tv out of the house before it bursts into flames again.”
Hildreth glanced at the burned out television. There didn’t seem to be anything left for a fire to burn.
Still, he didn’t see any reason to tempt fate.
“Let’s get it far away from the house. Like the city dump or something.”
She gave him a questioning look.
He smiled. “Just in case.”
As Elsie drove away from the city dump, Hildreth fell into a spot of silence.
She glanced at him. “You’re quiet.”
“It’s always a bad thing when you get thinking.”
He chuckled. “You sound like Master Shinowa. Don’t think. Stop thinking. Thinking is bad. Thinking is death. Thinking is…”
“So, what are you thinking about?”
“And you look that miserable? Nice.”
He turned away from her. “I was just thinking that maybe…” He looked outside the window. “Everything and everyone is determined to keep us from, as your mother would call it, lovering.”
“So.” He took a deep breath and let it out in a heavy sigh. “What do you suppose would happen if we waited?”
Elsie stopped at a red light. “Waited? For what?”
She’s going to get mad. She’s going to say it’s the stupidest thing she’s ever heard. She’ll slap-punch me. “What if we wait for our wedding night?”
She didn’t reply.
He swallowed hard and nervously glanced at her.
She stared straight ahead.
“Elsie? Are you mad at me?”
She shook her head. “I know how I feel about you. I know how much I want you.”
“I want you too.”
“Do you think either of us is capable of holding back, of not giving in at every possible moment and opportunity?”
“I honestly don’t know. But the time is counting down, Elsie. Our wedding day will be here in so many tomorrows. And then.”
She looked at him with love in her eyes. “And then.”
For a moment, he couldn’t even breathe. “It won’t be easy.”
“It will probably put you into a total sulk.”
“It will not. Besides, I don’t sulk about things like that.”
“What? I don’t.”
“Oh, Elsie. If I could just get all of these words out of my head. If only I could tell you how much you mean to me. But I can’t. It’s still all locked up. No matter how hard I push, they just stay in there. I can’t get them out.”
“It’s all right, Hildreth. They don’t have to come out.”
The light turned green and a whole duckling line of cars behind them repeatedly expressed their disapproval.
But Hildreth didn’t care.
He whispered her name and they yielded to one passionate kiss.
And that was all.