Hating the Emergency Physician
Bonus Epilogue Part 4 of 4
My phone beeps with a text message from Jeremiah: We’ve got a surprise. Pick you up at 8. Dress comfortably.
Ever since that first cookie/apology surprise six months ago, he’s made it his mission to spring things on me. Parties, walks on the beach, dinner, a weekend in Houston.
And I love it.
Nothing makes me feel more seen and loved than knowing Jeremiah’s thinking of me when we’re apart.
I text back: How comfortably? PJs or jeans?
Jeremiah: Not PJs.
Interesting. That means we’re going somewhere.
It’s four p.m. now. Curiosity is going to get the better of me if I don’t do something. Fortunately, Danielle and Felix’s wedding is in three weeks, so I dig into tying Thank You cards around the bubbles they’re handing out to the guests for their send off.
The doorbell rings at seven forty-five. Mr. On Time Is Late is early again. Good thing I’ve learned to give him a twenty-five-minute buffer, and I’m already ready in jeans, a flowing mustard-colored tunic, and rhinestone sandals.
The beginning of twilight illuminates Jeremiah on my porch. Steel grey dress pants cling to his hip bones and a navy polo barely stretches across his chest. Jackson’s equally handsome in his khaki shorts and polo.
I lean against the door frame and let my gaze sweep from Jeremiah's wingtip shoes to his clean-shaven jaw. “Hmm. You look handsome, but did you put on Jackson’s shirt again?”
“Such a comedian.” He snags me around the waist and presses a kiss to my lips. I wrap my arms around him and savor his deliciousness. We can’t get carried away with Jackson standing there, but we do what we can.
I love this man so much it’s like lava filling my heart, the pressure building, about to erupt.
His hands slide around my rib cage, up to my chin. He nips my lip then hugs me. “You ate Indian.”
A plate of leftover tikka masala with saag paneer and naan bread on the side called my name at six thirty, and he never said anything about feeding me.
“I was hungry.” I kiss the underside of his jaw. “Was I not supposed to?”
Jackson shoves his hands in his pockets. “I told you, you should have told her it was dinner.”
“Where are we going?”
He laces his fingers through mine and drags me out of the house. “You’ll see.”
We drive in companionable silence until he pulls into the hospital’s parking lot.
My mouth scrunches. “What are we doing?”
“I said, you’ll see.” He opens my door and tucks my hand into the crook of his arm as he leads me through the Emergency Department’s sliding glass doors. Jackson walks on my other side, a gigantic grin on his face.
The waiting area is packed with patients. Jackson hasn’t been back to the hospital since Thanksgiving. I take his hand and squeeze it.
He seems fine, but I want him to know I’m here for him.
An elderly man sits with an oxygen mask over his nose and mouth. A woman in her forties holds a compress to her forearm. The smell of sickness and disinfectant settle in my lungs.
“Do they need our help?”
“The team can handle it.” He nods at Gloria, and she opens the security doors. We slip past the organized chaos at the nurses’ station and into the surgical waiting room. A few families sit scattered around the room, but in the corner by the window is a single table with a flickering candle and a bouquet of roses. He pulls out my chair. “Happy anniversary, babe.”
“This is gorgeous.”
Mona appears next to us. “Ready?”
Jeremiah nods. A twinkle in his mischievous eye.
“Ready for what?” I ask.
Jackson hands me my napkin. “Mona made us tacos and Daisy baked cookies.”
“I always have room for tacos and cookies.” I drape my napkin across my lap. “This is a fantastic surprise. Thank you. Next time, I won’t eat.”
Mona delivers carnitas tacos with all the fixings, chips and queso, and oatmeal raisin cookies. The grease drips down my chin. He even got us margaritas from Sobre las Rocas.
This is a perfect way to celebrate where we started.
Jeremiah doesn’t speak while he eats. His eyes keep darting to the sofa where we spilled our deepest secrets that first night.
I wrap my hand around his. “Are you okay?”
He turns his hand and interlaces our fingers. “Yeah. Just stuck in my head.”
He gropes in his pocket and pulls out a small velvet box. He holds the box up to the light. “About this.” The deep maroon fabric looks bunny-rabbit soft.
My breath catches in my throat. He stares at the closed box, turning it in the light.
Jackson flops back in his chair. “You’re not supposed to do it yet. We agreed it would be during the cookies.”
I squeeze my hands into fists. Grabby is not a good look. “Is that …” I can’t even say the word ring.
Tears pop into my eyes. “What … umm … I guess we’re both at a loss for words.”
He tosses the box in the air and catches it. “I had an eloquent speech, but I’m going to wing it instead. Babe.” He blows out a breath, swallows, and licks his lips. “Babe, I want forever with you, but I’m afraid you’ll wake up in five years and realize you could have done better. I need you to think about whether or not I am the man you need in your life.” He puts his arm around Jackson. “If we are the men you want to be with for the rest of your life. We won’t survive if we get five years down the road, and you decide you made a mistake. Don’t let the candlelight lull you into making a decision you’ll regret.”
For a man who is so insightful ninety-nine percent of the time, the one percent when Jeremiah lacks confidence baffles me.
I shove Jeremiah’s chest, then dig my fingers into his shirt and pull him closer. “How can you possibly think there is anyone else in this world who understands me the way that you do? Get out of your head and into your heart, you dummy.”
Jackson shakes his head. “This is one of the worst proposals in history.”
He’s not wrong.
“It’s not a proposal if he’s too scared to ask me.” I hate how my voice comes out as a whimper.
Jeremiah drops to his knee and opens the velvet box. A sapphire and diamond infinity band rests on the pillow. “Rachel, despite all my irritating flaws, I want nothing more than to marry you and spend the rest of my life cherishing you. Will you marry me?”
Jackson drops to his knee. “And will you be my aunt?”
I dash the tears from my eyes, so I can read his eyes. “No second thoughts?”
“I love you irrevocably.”
“In that case, yes, I will marry you.” He slips the ring on my finger and brings his lips to mine, sealing our engagement with a deep kiss full of all of our longings and promises. “You can’t ever make things easy, can you?”
“Easy is boring.”
And life with Jeremiah and Jackson will never be boring. It will be complex, emotional, and a bit of a roller coaster. It will be what we make it.
Until death do us part. What magic will life bring us next?