"You said we were meeting some of your family. Do they live above the shop?” Henriqua hung back to glance at the narrow windows above the blue awning that read Barsi on Fifth in silver lettering.
“When they were raising my father and my aunts, my grandparents lived up there. Now it’s workspace for designers. Rozi and Gizi are both leaving so I imagine my father will bring in some new blood.”
A bell chimed as they entered. Ben’s sister greeted them with a warm hug. “Dad’s in the safe with Grandmamma. I’ll tell them you’re here.” She disappeared.
“I came here after school every day when I was young,” Ben told her. “My first job was polishing the fronts of the cases. Come here.”
“It’s all so beautiful.” Henriqua was in awe as she perused the icy sparkle and shots of emerald and amethyst amid gold and platinum.
“Which one do you like?” he asked, gazing on her with the most tender expression she’d ever seen. “I can’t propose properly until we have a ring.”
Henriqua’s heart began to beat faster. “That’s not necess—”
“Benjamin,” his grandmother said, coming out from the back of the shop. “I have something for you.” She pressed something into his palm as she kissed his cheek.
He seemed taken aback as he looked at the ring and band she’d given him.
“This is the set Grandpappa made for you.
“They’ve been in the safe since I came out of hospital last year. I want you to have them. Your father made your mother’s set, but your talents lie in other directions,” she teased him as she scrubbed her thumb on his cheek, erasing her lipstick. “You carry his name. It’s right that you have them.”
“I don’t know what to say. Except...” He turned to Henriqua. “You’re the love of my life, Henriqua. Will you marry me?”
She had her hand slapped across her mouth, incapable of doing anything but standing there moved, with tears in her eyes.
“I feel as though I’ve done nothing but cry lately,” she managed to choke out. “I would be so honored to wear them, but please realize these aren’t rings you’re giving me. Your big, loving family is the kind I’ve wanted all my life. I know you wouldn’t offer that lightly, Ben.”
“I would not,” he agreed, and cupped her jaw. “In fact, only the very best people are chosen to join us. Marry me and be one of us.”
“That would also be my honor.”
He threaded the diamond solitaire onto her finger. It was too pretty to be modest, too classic to be showy. It was a timeless statement of love, one that fit perfectly and felt exactly right.
As they kissed, she heard Eszti Barsi sniff and say to Ben’s father, “Not the first proposal this store has seen, but definitely one of the most touching.”
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