He wiped his face with the handkerchief, and muttered under his breath as he checked his watch again. It was almost time to pick Denny up. He'd asked her to wear a dress since they were going to a family gathering at his uncle's house. At least, that was what Steven had told her.
Denny hated dresses, high heels, makeup and anything else that she'd felt detracted from the fact that she was a strong, independent woman. Steven had worried and fretted until he confided in her mother, also named Denise.
Denise told him not to worry, that she would make sure Denny dressed for the occasion. Her mother called him a few hours ago to let him know that she'd bought something appropriate and he would like it.
He could only hope.
Steven checked his watch again then glanced up at the building. He'd been sitting outside in the parking lot for the last hour, rehearsing what he wanted to say to her.
When he could no longer put it off, he grabbed everything he needed and went inside. He rode the elevator up to the fifth floor where her mother lived. He caught a glimpse of his reflection and cursed at the new beads of sweat on his face.
God, he was nervous.
Steven wiped his face again and stuffed the hankie in his jacket pocket. He paused in front of the apartment door, just to compose himself.
He knocked and waited.
The door swung open and there stood his Denny. She was absolutely beautiful! He looked at her legs, impressed. She even had on pantyhose! His mouth fell open and he tried to speak. Denise Sr. stood to the side and beamed as only a proud mother could,
"Steven, isn't she lovely?"
Steven gaped, swallowed and nodded. Denny rolled her eyes but he could tell that she was pleased by his reaction. Steven reached for her and gave her a kiss, and whispered how pretty she was.
Denise Sr. insisted on taking their picture. Denny started to object but Steven agreed. He wanted to remember how she looked, especially today of all days.
Afterward they bid her mother goodnight and left for the dinner party.
While walking back down to the elevator, Steven suddenly snapped his fingers,
"Geez, I forgot the bottle of wine. We need to stop by the apartment for a minute."
Denny nodded and he knew that she was hoping that she could change out of her shoes. They got off on the second floor. He couldn't wait until she saw what he'd planned for her.
The butterflies in Steven's stomach were now the size of kittens as they stood in front of their apartment door.
Denny frowned as she took in the decorations that adorned it:
Welcome to the Senior Prom
Class of 1983
Steven watched the comprehension dawn on her face. His smile quickly dissolved into horror as she suddenly broke in wild wracking sobs, covering her face. Worried, he reached for her, afraid that he'd stepped in the wrong direction,
"Denny! What's wrong?"
She continued to cry, gasping to catch her breath. He wanted to cry himself and would've had she not thrown herself at him, hugging him for all that he was worth. Steven held her, rubbing her back as she continued to cry. Denny finally caught her breath, and looked up at him,
"What have you done? What is this?'
Steven smiled and smoothed back her hair,
"Well, let's go inside and see."
He held the door open for her, unable to stop smiling as she screamed with joy at what awaited her. The living room had been cleared. A disco ball hung from the ceiling, the mirrored glass throwing rainbow spots on the walls and floor. A table had been set up with a punch bowl, finger foods and a microphone. His stereo sat in the corner on their desk.
Steven came up behind her with a chair,
"You sit here, sweetheart."
Denny sat, still beaming. Her hands were clasped under her chin. Steven went into the kitchen and came back with a tiara and a corsage box. He picked up the microphone and announced to the empty room that the prom queen has been chosen and thanked all of the other contestants. Denny giggled and blushed with pleasure.
Steven gently placed the tiara on her head, causing her to cry all over again. While she cried, he slid the corsage on her wrist. Then he went to the stereo and switched on the music. Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" serenaded them as he came back over to her and held out his hand,
"And now the prom queen will have the first dance."
Steven spun his Denny around on the empty floor while she choked and sobbed some more. She stepped on his toes and wet his shirt but he didn't care. As long as she was happy, that was all that mattered to him.
They ate some of the finger food, sipped the punch that was spiked and when she tried to ask him what was going on, he smiled and shook his head, telling her to enjoy herself.
After the "Prom" Steven took his Denny to dinner at The Keg. They flirted and teased each other with the promise of what would happen later. Steven checked his pockets, reassuring himself that he had the ring. That would have been just awful if he had forgotten it.
As the meal came to an end, the kittens started rolling around in Steven's stomach again. He wiped his face several times before they'd left the restaurant. In the car, Denny had reached across to place her hand on his arm,
"Is everything okay?"
Steven smiled and lifted it to his lips,
"Everything is fine, sweetheart."
They drove down to the beach, admiring the moonlight. It was round and full, the stars twinkling at them from the distance. Steven and Denny walked along the boardwalk, listening to the waves crash against the shoreline, their pinkies hooked together. He watched her out of the corner of his eye, grinning as she cursed about her shoes.
"Why don't you take them off? I can carry them."
"Oh thank goodness!" She breathed and before he could blink, he was holding the high heels in his other hand.
"Aren't you worried about tearing up your nylons?" Steven asked, already knowing the answer.
"Nope." She said cheerfully. He just shook his head as one of her toes poked through the flimsy material.
They walked a little bit more until they came to the spot where he knew it would be the perfect place to ask.
Steven swallowed when his mouth suddenly dried. He'd had it all planned out how he wanted to propose. But Denny looked up at him, her brown eyes concerned.
Helpless, Steven opened his mouth, his carefully rehearsed speech forgotten as he said,
"I don't want us to ever be apart. Will you marry me?" Then he tried to go down on his knee but Denny started crying and shouting, and yanked him up. He tried to go down on his knee again but she pulled him back up, crying even harder.
When he got the chance, Steven slipped the ring on her finger, lifting her hand to his lips.
His Denny smiled up at him, her make-up streaked and nylons torn. She traced a finger on his chin,
"Let's get married by Elvis."
"Anything for you, sweetheart."
© copyright 2011 by Ren Thompson February 14, 2011