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Derek said he wanted to surprise me on my birthday. The only thing he would tell me was to be dressed in a cocktail dress, ready to go at 7pm on Saturday night. It started off with a bang – when we headed downstairs a black, stretch limo was awaiting us. We climbed in and Derek told me that he had arranged an "Anniversary Package" through a company that offers high-end vacations and celebrations. The package included dinner at the Four Star Omni hotel restaurant, La Reserve, and use of the limo for the night. I was thrilled, as La Reserve is regarded as the best restaurant in Houston. Derek also said that he arranged to have the renowned head chef prepare our meal and the senior waiter take care of our table. I couldn’t have been more excited.
We enjoyed an amazing dinner with phenomenal service. After dinner they brought out our desserts along with an extra one that I had not ordered. Alongside this third dessert was a black, fuzzy box. Of course my heart jumped into my throat. I turned bright red. I opened the box and inside was a gorgeous pair of pearl earrings. "Happy birthday, Anne" Derek said. I calmed down and admired my new earrings while enjoying the desserts (both chocolate and very good!).
We had such a great time talking all evening and before we knew it the bill came. Derek looked at it and said that the amount was incorrect. He requested the Maitre D’ and told him that this was not the amount they had discussed in the package; that this amount was three times the agreed upon price. I tried to excuse myself to go to the ladies room so he could discuss the bill without it being an awkward situation, but Derek insisted that I stay. The Maitre D’ said, "I’m sorry, but this dinner was included in the anniversary package. I noticed that you are not wearing a wedding band and the young lady is not even wearing an engagement ring. We cannot honor the anniversary package pricing since you are not married or engaged." Derek then asked him, "So you mean if she had a ring on her finger, you would honor it?" The Maitre D’ replied, "Yes." Derek asking the question about the ring didn’t raise suspicion in me because it seemed that he was just trying to clarify their policy on the package. Derek asked the Maitre D’ to give him a few minutes.
I was nervously thinking, "How much is this bill? I had a whole lobster!!!" Then Derek said, "I know what I need to do." He got up and came around to my side and got down on one knee. He took my hands in his and started saying the most heart-felt and sincere things. I was thinking, "Surely he’s not doing this just to get out of the bill" He wouldn’t fake a proposal to reduce the bill "he wouldn’t do that to me, would he???" The more he said, the more I realized this was for real. Then he pulled out the most beautiful ring I have ever seen and asked, "Anne Reardon, will you marry me?" Of course I flipped out and said, "Yes!" I was in COMPLETE shock. Then he told me to look over my shoulder and he pointed out the video camera that was hidden under a silver plate that had taped the entire proposal!!! The whole restaurant started clapping. It was wonderful.
Derek paid the bill (which had been correct all along – he had coordinated all of this with the Maitre D’ and hotel concierge) and I thought we were leaving the hotel. Derek took my hand and led us to the elevators. We arrived on the 8th floor and opened the door to a magnificent suite. All the lights were off and small votive candles were lighting a path into the room. There were red rose petals all along the candle-lit path and all over the bedroom. On the bed was a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries on a platter that had "Romance is Alive" written in chocolate. In the background, our CD with our favorite romantic songs was playing. We watched our proposal video, drank champagne, and called everyone to tell them the good news. In the morning, room service brought a delicious breakfast that included heart-shaped pancakes. I couldn’t dream of a more perfect birthday wish to come true.