You stare at him and wish he hadn’t done it. It was a simple enough request; time for yourselves, just the two of you but he’d thought better, involved the whole family. You thought you knew him by now, that he knew you, but you realise that two years counts for nothing when you’ve spent little of that together.

He steps forward and kisses your forehead. You normally find it endearing but this feels patronising. You hear his mother sigh, proud of his son… the perfect team. Better than him and you.

You look down as he picks a thread of cotton off your blouse, his favourite top, the one he bought you for your nineteenth and you suspect that he had help.

At fifteen years your senior you liked his maturity but as you look around the room you feel almost a child.

Then he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a box, the blue velvet box that you recognise from his briefcase, the square diamond large enough to feed a country.

The room is silent, waiting for what everyone expects to happen next.

You shake your head. You know you shouldn’t, but you can’t help it. For once you do what you want.

You mouth a ‘sorry’ and turn to leave but he grabs your arm.

“Don’t you dare,” he hisses under his breath, the smell of whisky almost overbearing.


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