Missy slid into the booth in the very back corner of IHOP, crossing her arms in front of her and dropping her head to rest on them with a thud.
“Nice to see you, too,” Sean remarked around a mouthful of pancakes.
She tilted her head slightly to glare at him with one eye. “No sane human being is up at this hour.”
“Get something to eat, you’ll be fine.”
She reached across the table for his coffee. He slapped her away with his fork. “Get your own.”
“You’re so charming this morning I don’t think I can stand it.”
Sean wiped his mouth and signaled to the waitress, grinning at Missy. “You know you love me.”
“I know I’m trying to figure out how much damage I can do to you with just a fork.”
“Oh, sweetie, you’re so romantic early in the morning.”
The waitress, an improbably-beehived woman named Edna, shuffled up with a menu, which Missy waved off. “Short stack and coffee, lots of it.”
Sean sipped his own coffee placidly. Once Edna had shuffled away, he said, “I guess you’re wondering why I called you here today.”
“I’m wondering why it had to be at the asscrack of dawn.” Missy indicated her faded Old 97’s concert t-shirt and cargo pants. “I haven’t left the house like this since college.”
“You’re gorgeous.” He took another gulp of coffee and set the cup decisively on the table. “So. I have a plan.”
“Oh, God.” Sean’s plans rarely made sense or ended well. They had nearly broken up before over one of his schemes involving a goat, an inflatable snowman and Dodger Stadium. “This isn’t the thing where you live in your car for a week like the guy in the commercials, is it?”
Sean, seeing Edna approaching with Missy’s pancakes, waited a few moments and made sure Missy’s mouth was safely full — the better for her not to yell at him — before explaining. “So I’m thinking you and I get in the car and we drive to Vegas. It takes about four hours, so we’ll get there before lunchtime. We eat, we lose a little money, we go get married and get back to LA by bedtime.”
Missy nearly choked. Fighting the impulse to spit her food into her plate, she chewed, swallowed, then took a deep breath and said, “You want me to blow off work, skip a major department meeting, and go to Vegas for the day just…” She trailed off.
The penny dropping was almost audible.
Sean grinned, folding his arms smugly across his chest.
“Did you just…”
“And you think I…”
Missy rubbed her eyes. “Am I hallucinating?”
“You’re not being very romantic about it,” Sean said, pouting comically.
“You called me at 5:45 a.m., in the morning…”
“That’s what a.m. usually means.”
“…To come down to IHOP to suggest a spur-of-the-moment trip to Vegas and just ever so casually slip in the suggestion that we get married.” Saying it out loud didn’t make it make any more sense to her.
“That appears to be the case.” The shit-eating grin was back.
“And… tell me again why I should say yes?”
“Because I am awesome and you love me just that much.”
She laughed. “You are a lunatic.” She stood. “I am going to go home and get ready for work.”
His face fell as she started to walk away.
“Oh, and be outside my office at a quarter to six.”
She grinned. “If we beat the evening rush we can be there by midnight.”
Elizabeth M. Thurmond lives in Los Angeles. She owns more books than are strictly necessary, and always has at least two manuscripts in the works.