Eleanor leaned in as the clock struck midnight and pressed her lips against Mark’s. It had been a long and tumultuous journey to get to this moment, but it had all been worth it.
They had met three and half years ago at a coffee shop downtown. Eleanor had recently finished her law degree and was there to study for her bar exam. She sat at a table and nervously stared at her laptop, reviewing some bar test samples. Questions were tricky and hard to answer. And her anxiety level increased with each wrong answer she gave to a question.
When Eleanor was at the height of her anxiety, loathing herself for not being able to give a satisfactory answer to the exam sample questions, Mark struck up a conversation with her.
“Are you studying for the bar exam?”
As Eleanor was deep in her study, she didn’t comprehend the question. So she annoyingly turned her face toward the person who disrupted her concentration. She found a good-looking young man at the nearby table, in a formal dress, a dark navy suit, and a tie, smiling at her. His pleasant appearance with his warm smile had an immediate positive impact on her reaction. So, with a softer tone than she initially intended, she said, “pardon me?”
“I asked, are you studying for the bar exam?” he said in a friendly manner.
“Yes, I am,” she responded briefly and returned her attention to her laptop screen, indirectly sending a ‘do not disturb me’ message with her body language.
“Funny thing, I was at that table about two years ago and nervously studying for my bar exam,” he said, ignoring her body language.
“Did you pass?” she asked.
“Yes, I did. But up to the date when I got my result, I was sure that I had failed the exam.”
“So, you are a full-fledged lawyer now.”
“If working for a legal clinic covering pro bono cases with minimum wage is the definition of a full-fledged lawyer, yes, I am,” he said with a smile.
Eleanor smiled at his comment.
“Don’t be hard on yourself. I’m sure you will pass the bar exam,” he added.
“How do you know? Are you a clairvoyant?”
“No, I’m not. But it is almost over an hour that you have been deep in your study. I lacked your determination and passed the exam. So you are fine.”
“I hope so.”
He glanced at his watch and said, “my lunch break is over. I have to return to work.”
“By the way, I’m Mark Duncan, working at the Fair Justice legal clinic at the end of the street, opposite the bookshop.”
“Ellie, Eleanor Brown.”
“Nice to meet you, Ellie, Eleanor Brown,” Mark said and promptly left the shop as he was late.
Despite being preoccupied with her forthcoming bar exam and nervousness, Eleanor found herself drawn to his easygoing charm.
After the first encounter, they met at that coffee shop a few more times, chatting about everyday things, mainly her upcoming bar exam. Finally, at their fifth meeting, they exchanged numbers, followed by Mark calling her on the same afternoon, inviting her to dinner, “a friendly dinner and not a date,” as he emphasized. A few months later, Mark invited her to a top Italian restaurant and presented her with a nice bottle of perfume for her success in passing the bar exam. “A present for a new full-fledged lawyer,” mark mentioned when he gave her the present.
“If being an unemployed lawyer is the definition of being a full-fledged lawyer,” she replied with a grin.
From there, their relationship blossomed. They went on dates to the movies, restaurants, and nightclubs and even took a weekend trip to the state’s wine region, visiting vineyards and joining in wine-tasting events.
But their relationship wasn’t always smooth sailing. They faced turbulences and storms, fought and made up, laughed and cried. Sometimes they weren’t sure they were right for each other, but they always found common ground to sort out their challenges.
And now, after three and half years of relationship, they were finally ready to take the next step on this New Year’s Eve. As they stood on a famous rooftop restaurant on top of a skyscraper overlooking the city, waiting for the glamourous New Year firework at midnight to start, Eleanor knew she wanted to spend the rest of her life with Mark. She looked up at him and smiled. Her heart was full of happiness and love. “I know we’ve had our difficulties, but I can’t imagine spending my life without you,” she thought.
As if he had read her mind, Mark gazed down at her eyes. His eyes shone with love and affection. “There was nowhere else I’d rather be with you,” he said silently through his gaze. He hugged her and whispered in her ear, “I love you, Ellie.”
“I love you, Mark,” she replied, gazing back at his glinting eyes.
The countdown to midnight began as they stood there, wrapped in each other’s arms.
10… 9… 8…
They turned to face the city, watching for the fireworks to start.
7… 6… 5…
With each passing second, the flutter of excitement in Eleanor’s stomach increased. It was the moment she had been waiting for, the moment she had dreamed of her entire adult life.
3… 2… 1…
As the surrounding crowd erupted into cheers, and fireworks created a breathtaking display of color and light on the canvas of the night sky, Mark turned to Eleanor, took her face in his hands, gazed into her eyes, and with a voice full of love, said, “I love you, Ellie.”
In response, Eleanor leaned in and pressed her lips against Mark’s.
Mark kissed her back.
The kiss was soft and sweet, filled with all love and joy they had shared over the past few years. As they stood there, lost in each other’s arms, they knew this was just the beginning of their journey together. They had a lifetime of love and happiness ahead of them, and they couldn’t wait to see what the future held for them.