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A Brief Engagement

Written by Gincognifo :: [Friday, 12 April 2013 01:23] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 29 May 2021 15:50]

A Brief Engagement

by GeekSeven

 


Written for the SWM “Winter 2013” workshop.


Sophie fought back tears of joy.

They were in the main dining room of Antoine’s. They had just finished the final course of an amazing tasting menu, when Nick had taken her hands in his and professed his love for her in a way that was uncharacteristically verbose and clearly rehearsed.

“… will you,” he concluded, “do me the honor of becoming my wife? Sophie Buchanan, will you marry me?”

Sophie let the tears stream down her face. Nick released her hands, reached into his jacket, and pulled out a battered ring box. He flipped the lid open and held it before her. The ring, nestled in faded black velvet, was beautiful: an art deco, white gold band with a large sapphire, flanked by a pair of smaller rubies.

“Of course,” she said. “Yes!”

Nick took the ring and placed it on her finger. It seemed small at first, but it slid on smooth; a perfect fit.

“It’s lovely.”

“It belonged to my grandmother,” said Nick, “she was very special.”

Sophie sensed the danger, she did not know how, a moment before the first scream, before any of the intruders spoke, before one of them fired a gun into the ceiling and brought the room to silence.

“Nobody move and nobody gets hurt.”

There were three large men near the entrance, dressed in black jeans and turtleneck sweaters, their faces obscured by black woolen ski masks.

The man who had spoken stepped forward. The other two stayed back, training their guns around the room, alert to any motion from the diners.

“This is a robbery,” he continued, “If you cooperate, this will be a story to tell. Fail to do exactly what I say, and you’ll regret it.”

He held up a large backpack.

“As I come to your table, place all wallets, jewelry, watches, Etc., in this bag. Then we will leave.”

As the man circulated through the room, the shell-shocked diners did as they had been told, and handed over their valuables. His partners stayed alert, their guns ready.

“It’s not fair,” said Sophie.

The man with the bag turned and walked towards her.

“What did you say?”

She stood to face him. He was a lot taller than her, but she was too angry to care.

“It’s not fair,” she repeated.

“Ooh,” he said, ”What a lovely ring! Did he just give that to you?”

Sophie nodded.

“That is darling. I wouldn’t dream of ruining your special day.”

“Really?”

“Of course not, you idiot. Give me the ring!”

He reached for her left hand. Without thinking, Sophie slapped his face with her right.

What happened next was a surprise. When the back of her hand connected with the man’s jaw, he flew to the other side of the room, as if he had been struck by a speeding automobile, and not by a 5’6” brunette in a cocktail dress.

He slid across the top on Antoine’s famously well-stocked bar and into a shelf of fine spirits. He slumped out of view.

Sophie examined the back of her hand.

“Did I do that?”

The two remaining men fired their guns at her.

Instinctively, she crossed her arms in front of her. Two bullets struck her wrists and ricocheted off; one streaked back the way it had come and hit one of the gunmen, the other flew into a chandelier hanging from the ceiling. The fixture began to fall towards a table of four.

“No!” shouted Sophie.

She launched herself across the room, leaping with such force that it felt as if she were flying. She intercepted the chandelier in and held it tight. She landed feet first on the table, still holding the chandelier. She lowered the heavy construction of brass and glass to the floor.

There was no sign of the man she had slapped across the room; he was out cold, or worse. The man who had been struck by a bullet ricocheting from her wrist was slumped on the ground. The third man seemed to be in a panic. His gun was aimed towards Sophie, but his hands were shaking so hard that there was no telling what he might hit.

Sophie looked him in the eye.

“Run,” she said. “Run for your life.”

He did exactly as he was told.

Dozens of stunned diners stared at her. Sophie was suddenly aware that she was standing on a table in the middle of Antoine’s 150-year-old dining room. Everyone applauded. She lowered herself onto the floor.

Nick, applauding twice as hard as anyone, walked over to her.

“That was amazing,” he said.

Sophie examined him. She could see the motion of every muscle on his face. She could hear the beat of his heart and the flow of blood through his veins. He was an open book to her.

“You weren’t frightened,” she said, “You weren’t surprised.”

“Of course I was!”

She laughed. “You set this up.”

“Sophie … you’re talking like a crazy person.”

“Stop lying to me, Nick. You’re not very good at it. You hired those men. I could have been killed.”

“You were never in any danger. The ring …”

Sophie looked at the ring.

“Your grandmother?”

“I can explain.”

“I won’t marry you,” said Sophie. “You lied to me. You put innocent people in danger, and you scared me half to death. I never want to see you again.”

Nick shrugged. “I want my ring back.”

“I don’t think so.”

“It belongs to my family. You have to give it back.”

Sophie put her hands on her hips. “Make me,” she said.

Nick swallowed, but made no move towards her. He glared at her, furious. He was like a different person to her now. She could not imagine ever having loved him.

She met his gaze with confidence. She could feel the power coursing through her body. It was incredible. She was incredible. She licked her lips.

“Nick, can you do one thing for me?”

“What’s that?”

“Run. Run for your life.”

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