Jessica awoke with a start as the van swerved off the road into a small snow bank. She looked around to check on her friends. Everyone seemed okay.
“What were you thinking Robby? I told you not to go so fast on the curves. Now we’re probably stuck!”
“Erica, it’s not my fault! That other car forced us off! Your lucky I’m such a good driver or we might have crashed.” He added cockily. “Don’t worry, I think we can get out. Come on man.” Rob motioned to Jeff and they both climbed out to check the damage.
“You okay Jess?” Erica asked, as she turned to look at her best friend sitting in the back seat.
“Yeah, I’m alright. Your scream scared me though. What happened?”
“Some jerk went over the yellow line and ‘Robby the Race Car Driver’ was going too fast as usual, so we ended up off the road.” She turned back around and stuck her head out the window. “I hope you freeze out there! Maybe you’ll learn to slow down before you kill one of us!” The couple had been dating for six months now, but Jessica couldn’t figure out why, since they seemed to fight half the time.
The guys got in and Rob pulled back onto the road. “See, I told you it’d be okay.” He turned up the radio and sped off, apparently not learning a thing. Erica looked back at Jessica and rolled her eyes. Jess just laughed.
All was forgiven by the time the little group reached the snow park about an hour later. Robby and Erica were back to their all too familiar, overly mushy, make-up and make-out mode.
Jessica looked at Jeff uncomfortably. They had been dating even longer then Erica and Jeff. She wondered when he was going to start pressuring her to make out like them. So far, he seemed to understand her moral boundaries; she hoped he wouldn’t grow tired of her innocence.
The hill was steep and hauling their inner tubes to the top was quite a work out, but the trip down the slope was well worth the effort. Each run compacted the snow, creating a furrow that became smooth and sleek, enhancing the ride even more. After several rounds, everyone agreed they should stop to catch their breath and head back to the car for lunch.
Jessica started pouring cups of hot cocoa and Erica made sandwiches. Jessica looked up and noticed Robby and Jeff off in the distance whispering to one another quietly. They appeared to be disagreeing about something. Jeff shook his head, but Rob didn’t seem to be taking no for an answer. He finally gave Jeff a little shove towards the girls and they started walking back. Rob wore a look of confidence, while Jeff looked rather flush and had a strange expression Jessica couldn’t quite decipher.
“What’s up with you two?” Jess asked, as she handed Jeff some cocoa. She noticed him fidget uncomfortably, like he wasn’t sure how he should respond.
“Nothings up.” He said without looking into her eyes. That was a dead give away. He always looked away if he was trying to hide something.
“Come on man! Just tell her!” Robby prodded, wrapping his arms around Erica’s waist.
Then he whispered something in her ear and her face grew so excited that Jessica was really getting curious now. Jess looked back at Jeff. He looked excited too, but also slightly nauseous.
“Okay, okay. Just give me a minute all right.” He took a deep breath and looked up to the sky as light snowflakes began drifting down, cooling his reddened cheeks. Now he looked into her eyes like he was seeing her for the first time. Jeff began speaking again with a trembling voice.
“Jessica you know that I’ve loved you for a long time now. I can’t hardly remember life before I met you, and I don’t want to. Since we met, you have taught me so much about life, God, love, everything - even little things like how fast a hummingbird flaps its wings and how to do laundry.” Jess smiled at the memory of the flooded basement that prompted that lesson.
“What I’m trying to say is, you are the only woman I could ever imagine spending the rest of my life with. I don’t want to wait anymore. I know we would be happy together, so…” he dropped to one knee in the traditional manner and brought a small jewelry box from his pocket. He opened it revealing an engagement ring more beautiful than Jessica had ever hoped for.
“Jessica, will you please marry me?”
Her eyes could no longer contain the joyous tears she’d been holding back. She threw her arms around his neck and in a barely audible whisper, “Yes!”
Erica rushed over to congratulate her and the girls started chattering away about the exciting news. “Wait till my mom hears about this! She is going to be thrilled!” Jessica said running back into Jeff’s awaiting arms.
“She already knows, Jess.” He leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss affectionately on her forehead.
“What? How could she know?”
“I asked your parents blessing a few weeks ago. Your mom helped me pick out the ring.” Jeff said staring into her eyes. “In fact, that’s part of why I brought you up here today. All of our family is over at the lodge waiting for us-sort of a surprise engagement party. Even your Grandma Edna flew in.”
Jessica was momentarily speechless as she realized all the planning and trouble he had gone through to make this moment special for her. “You’ve got to be kidding me…I can’t believe you got Nana on a plane! But, what if I had said no?” she asked with a sly smile.
“I wasn’t about to let you get away. I love you”
“I love you too!”
“Enough you guys! Sounds like we have a party to go to…not that anyone bothered to let me in on the plan!” Erica said teasingly acting offended.
“Like you could ever be trusted with a secret this big. You guys would have already planned the whole wedding together before he even asked her.” Robby teased in return.
“So you guys wanna make it a double wedding?” Jeff received three snowballs to the face as his response.