• Lisa Alex Gray

The Serendipitous Life of Ruby Slippers (Chapter Nine - Romantic Comedy Novel)


After that day in the park with Stanley, everything changed.


We had six more dates in the few weeks that followed, and although we continued to get more comfortable with one another, I was still surprised that he was actually my boyfriend.


This was mostly because he didn’t feel like a boyfriend.


Stanley never tried to hold my hand and he definitely didn’t try to kiss me — or anything Like that.


Which I guess was okay to a degree because I was terrified of what I’d do if he did.


However, I was also a little frustrated, because I was kind of curious about what it was like to be kissed — and thought, with a boyfriend, I would finally find out.


One thing for sure Stanley was always polite, opening doors for me, and paying for my meals— that’s how I figured out he was my boyfriend and not just a friend.


Well, that an Eveey said guys don’t pay for your meal unless they're interested in you romantically.


It seemed clear that he liked me or he wouldn’t keep asking me out.



I just think he was old-fashioned, like some of the men in the romance movies on the BBC.

They practically were married before they touched the women they were courting.


I brought the topic up with my mother one night over dinner.


It was embarrassing having this conversation with her, but she was married once, so I thought maybe she would have some insight.


Besides she was so happy since Stanley and I started dating I thought she might be open to a little friendly advice.


I started the conversation out by mentioning that Stanley wasn’t very romantic.


I was trying to get her to understand he had never kissed me, without actually saying, he had never kissed me.


My mother quickly poo-pooed my declaration, “Romance? What’s that? It’s a fairytale, Ruby”.


“Please take your head out of those silly movies you watch. There are no fairytales in real life.”


She went on to remind me of just how lucky I was that a man was interested in me at all and cautioned me, once again, that I better not blow it.


Conversation over.


So I asked Eveey’s opinion during our lunch break at work, but her response wasn’t much help either.


She simply smiled and said, “Just jump his bones”.


This was the first of many “not happening” pieces of advice from Eveey.


I also confided in Eveey that although Stanley was nice, I didn’t really feel attracted to him.


I inquired whether this usually happened later on. Nothing else about dating Stanley seemed to follow the romance novels, so I figured this must be another example where fantasy doesn’t meet reality.


Eveey responded, “Sounds like a dud. I’d drop him if I were you.”


However, what Eveey didn’t understand was, unlike me, she met a new guy every week.


Dropping one guy for her just meant there was room for the new guy to step in.


Of course, Eveey said, I could get as many guys as her if I just “put it out there more.”


I was afraid to ask her what that meant so I decided to change the subject instead.


Besides, it didn’t matter, Stanley was taking me out to Frederick’s, the local steakhouse, tonight and I couldn’t wait.


From what I remembered it was a pretty romantic place, so who knows what might happen.

Stanley arrived at my house that night, on time as usual, and we headed off to the steakhouse.


He seemed more nervous than normal, which could be hard to gauge with Stanley since he always had a nervous edge.


But this was different and I began to worry that maybe I had done something wrong.


Weeks had gone by since our first date at the Bread Basket, and I still remained gun-shy about what made him think I didn’t want to see him again.


I definitely didn’t want that scenario repeating itself.


So, as he drove, I asked him about work to try and distract him — my attempt at upbeat, pleasant, conversation — a tip from my mother.


The steakhouse ended up being as nice as I recalled.


After ordering our steaks I settled in looking forward to a nice evening. I even ordered a glass of wine.


Why not live it up a bit? The last time I had a glass of wine was… I’m pretty sure from the wine taster at Bertson’s Grocers last year— and that was only a sip.


Stanley seemed to become even more nervous after the waiter left the table.


I racked my brain for something pleasant to say thinking of the upcoming concert in the park I had read about in the paper this morning.


I began to speak when Stanly interrupted me, “Ruby, I would like to talk to you about something.”


Crap, this doesn’t sound good. What did I do?


“This has been a very nice time over the last few weeks with you and, uh, I…”


Stanly paused and looked down at his lap like he was searching for something.


Is he looking for his keys? Oh no, he’s not leaving, is he?


“Um, Ruby, what I want to say is.” Stanley’s face flushed red as he spoke.


“Um, so, do you want to, uh…get married?”


I had just taken a sip of my wine to calm myself when his words tumbled out causing me to begin coughing profusely.


Between coughs, and gulps for air, I managed to respond, “Wha…cough, wha…cough, WHAT?”


There was no way I heard what I thought I heard.


He probably asked if I knew someone named Mary or said that I seemed really merry, after all, I WAS creating some upbeat conversation.


“Um,” Stanley cringed at my question like I had just asked him to stick his dinner fork in his eye.


His face flushed even brighter as he responded, “Um, I…I asked you to if you would want to get ma-married..to..uh, me?”


This can’t be true. I’m dreaming now. I am back home from my date, in bed sleeping, and am having a dream.


Wake up, Ruby. Your dreaming, Ruby.


I reach out and subtly, without calling attention to myself, pinch my right forearm.

Okay, I definitely felt that. This is real.


Unless I’m pinching myself in my dream? I looked up and over at Stanley, who was now looking anywhere but at me.


Then I looked around the restaurant to see if people were flying or anything else weird was going on to confirm it was, in fact, a dream.


Nope, no flying, everything seemed normal, which meant this is real, it’s really happening.


My brain began doing somersaults unable to focus on any one thought as I desperately reached for a response.


What did women say in the movies? I searched my mind frantically for a movie scene displaying a marriage proposal…


“There is no way you could have offered a proposal of marriage that I would have accepted


No that’s the bad marriage scene from Pride & Prejudice. What did she say in the good scene?


I look over at Stanley who’s intently folding his napkin into tiny pleats on the table.


I am, right now, experiencing the moment I have dreamed of — my favorite part of every movie or romance novel — the marriage proposal.


I mean this moment didn’t happen exactly like the standard proposal in the movies.


In fact, I’m pretty sure the guy typically is down on one knee, but hey aren’t movies over-exaggerated anyway?


Isn’t that what Eveey said?


The fact is, just now Stanley asked me to marry him, and I said…


Crap I didn’t answer him did I?


I glance over at Stanley who is now swirling his fork back and forth through his mashed potatoes.


So this is where I’m supposed to say “yes” to him.


So I’ll just say it right now…


Why am I not saying it?


“Crmmm” I clear my throat as I attempt the word.


Stanley looks up, “What? What did you say?” Stanley’s voice is shaking slightly.


He looks so scared. I kind of felt bad for him.


Boy, it's tough being a guy.


I refocus on my response and utter the only thing that made sense in my head, “But we’ve only been dating a few weeks?”


Okay, this was his chance to back out or clarify if, somehow I still misheard him and he really had asked me to carry him or something else that rhymed with marry.


“I, uh, I do understand that Ruby, but, well, I mean we get along so well, and, I’ve never been one to date. So, you know, what do you think?” Stanley diverted his eyes from me as he finished.


What am I doing? This is my chance. This is my way out of the house — I mean that’s not why I should say yes — but this is my chance to get married, to have a life.


This may be my only chance.


Am I crazy? Why won’t I say yes?


I clear my throat again, then whisper a barely audible “Uh, yeah…I mean, uh, yep…er, yes”


“Yes?” Stanly looked up in shock. “Yes? Did you say yes?”


I couldn’t tell if Stanley was excited, relieved or going to be sick.


The expression on his face was odd. I’m sure it was excitement though. I probably just have never seen him excited before.


My heart began beating out of my chest at the brevity of what just happened sunk in.


I was sure it could be heard by the entire restaurant.


I moved my hands over my chest and pressed down trying to soften the pounding just as our steaks arrived.


The rest of the evening went by in a blur. I barely ate due to the vise grip on my stomach from all the excitement.


Stanly remained quiet. In fact, the subject of marriage wasn’t brought up again the entire evening.


He simply returned me home after the date without another word regarding his proposal, other than to hand me a small box after he pulled the car up in front of my house.

I opened the box, hands shaking.


It contained a small diamond solitaire ring inside. He told me it was his great aunt’s.


I held the box in my hand looking down at the ring in awe.


“You can, uh, put it on if you want to.” He said.


I pulled the ring from the box and paused thinking of which finger to try it on before remembering there is only ONE finger to put THIS ring on.


I slowly moved the ring down the finger on my left hand till it stopped hard at my knuckle.


I backed it up a bit and tried again, hitting the same impassable point as before. Crap.


“Oh?” Stanley said realizing what was happening.


“I can take it into the jeweler this week on my lunch break, there’s one by my office.”


“What size should I tell them to make it?”


I thought for a moment. What size ring did I wear? I had no idea.


“Well, this ring fits this finger,” I said as I pulled a ring I was wearing on my right hand off and handed it to Stanly.


He took it from me and placed it in the side pocket of his blazer.


I looked at him for a moment thinking, this is it. He’s finally going to kiss me.


I waited staring at him.


He looked back at me in confusion, then his face flushed as realization set in.


He hesitated at first, then moved in his seat, cleared his throat loudly, and leaned in.


I closed my eyes in anticipation waiting for the touch of his lips. But instead was hit on my right cheek with a quick-dry peck.


Wait, was that it? I opened my eyes to see Stanley’s face moving away from mine as he sat back in his seat again. “Well, goodnight Ruby. I’ll call you tomorrow to talk more about the details.”


I stared at him for a moment waiting to see if maybe something was still going to happen, then got out of the car when I realized it wasn’t, and headed for the house.


Okay, not the “first kiss” I was dreaming of, but who cares — I’m getting married!


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©2020 by Lisa Alex Gray