Bruce's gaze darted across to her and Sean whispered something before he was shushed.
"What's the matter with you two?" Maxine demanded.
"Nothing." Sean shook his head vigorously while Bruce remained silent. "I think we'll go outside."
"It's freezing out!" Maxine yelled as they escaped through the door like teenagers.
Bruce van Exel and his daughter Rebecca had been living with the three generations of Gray women for a little over a year.
And for the last few weeks he'd been acting very suspicious.
As she heard their muffled voices through the wall Maxine vowed to get to the bottom of whatever was going on.
They'd all become very attached to the Van Exel's and she didn't want anything to get in the way of her daughter's happiness.
"She has no idea you're even thinking about this?" Sean asked, grining from ear to ear.
"Nope." Bruce chuckled. "We talked about it briefly a few months ago, but it hasn't come up since." he glanced over his shoulder to make sure no one was in the kitchen, and then slipped a box out of his pocket.
Sean let out a long, low whistle as he looked at the ring Bruce held out.
He'd been thinking about proposing to Amy for awhile. But before he did, there were a few people he needed to speak with first.
Amy wasn't the kind of woman who found it flattering to have a man ask permission to marry her. That sort of thing would provoke thoughts of fathers trading their daughters for the family cow.
However Bruce had to make sure that the people they both cared for most were ready for this change, before he asked her.
"Well, when are you going to ask her?"
"I don't know. I've wanted to do this... For so long. But I just, I'm not ready yet."
"She's going to say yes though."
"How can you be sure?"
"Because she loves you." Bruce smiled, thinking back to that short conversation ("What do you see in our future?" Amy had asked.
"We're married, living here with your mother, our daughters, and our son. What do you see?"
"Mostly... Just a big bed. Wait, did you say married?"
"Yes, I did."
"Is... Is that your way of proposing to me?" Amy stammer, staring at him as he trailed his hand up her arm.
"Wha- Bruce. You can't just say something like that and-"
"You'll know when I'm asking." He replied, giving her a look, that meant he didn't want to talk anymore.)
He hoped that it was all that simple.
Amy Gray hadn't really noticed her boyfriends odd behaviour. Not until her mother pointed it out. Now she couldn't stop seeing the signs that he wasn't acting at all like the man she loved.
He didn't look at her too often, and spent more and more time either at work or out with friends, being extremly vague about his plans.
Sean wasn't any help either. When she asked him if he knew anything, his ears would turn pink and he'd start to splutter something about having an apointment and would run off. If she wasn't getting so frustrated by the situation, Amy would find it entertaining to watch.
"Hey. Bruce, can we talk for a sec?"
"Sure. What's on your mind?" he asked as they walked out to the garage together.
"Well, it's just... You've been kind of distant lately. What's going on?"
"Nothing," he shook his head. "Everything's fine. I promise."
"I was thinking of asking your mom to take the girls to a movie later this week so we could have a night alone. Do you think she'd be ok with that?"
"Uh, yeah. I guess so."
"Good, you ready to go?" he asked. Amy nodded, too stunned to speak. 'What was going on?'
"Maxine, I was hoping we could talk for a moment, if you have the time." Bruce asked, coming towards Amy's mother in the living room as she packed away some of Walt's toys.
"Of course Bruce. What's on your mind?"
"Well, it's... I wanted to run something by you."
"Yes?" she sat on the couch and waited for him to begin.
"You know that I love Amy, don't you?"
"Well I should hope so, given the way she feels about you."
"That's the thing. I wanted to... I want... I want to ask her to marry me."
"OH!" Maxine's hand flew to her mouth. "Oh... You--" she shook her head, unable to find the words.
"You think that would be ok?" Bruce asked, trying to keep himself from getting too excited.
"Oh, yes! Absolutly. Yes, Bruce. Yes, that would be wonderful."
"That's... Good. That's great. I wanted to talk to the girls first, but then, I was hoping to maybe ask her this weekend. As long as everyone's ok with it and if you could maybe take them out for the night."
"Oh, that's fine. I can definatly do that. Of course."
It was an absolute stroke of luck - for Bruce - when Amy was called in to the courthouse to authorise an emergency OTC. When she got the call Maxine and the girls looked to Bruce, worry written all over their faces.
But he had known it would only take about an hour and in that time he could finish getting everything ready for their 'romantic evening at home.'
He had spoken to both his daughter and Amy's sepratly just two days ago, and they had both been happy to hear of his plans.
They were just about to go out with Maxine when Amy left, and he assured all three of them that everything would be fine, if a little behind shedule.
In reality he sounded a lot more confident than he felt. But his theory was that if he kept pretending that he was calm and ready to do this, then by the time he did it, he would be fine.
By the time Amy returned the dining room table was set for two, with a bottle of red wine breathing by the head of the table.
She stopped short at the door, looking around.
"Bruce? What's going on?" she called, finally able to make herself move.
"We're having dinner."
"Ok, I get that. But usually we don't-"
"Usually I don't have an important question to ask you." he explained as she stared at him quisically.
"What do you have to ask me?" she asked, getting more confused by the minute.
"We'll get to that. First, let's eat." he instructed. "Sit, I'll bring the food out."
Amy frowned as she took her seat and Bruce left the room again.
He was dressed up, she realised. At work he wore a jacket and tie, but at home he was always more relaxed. Right now he was wearing a very nice shirt, a tie she'd never seen before and freshly ironed slacks.
"What the hell is going on?" she muttered as she sat alone. "What's happening? I didn't forget an aniversary did I?" Amy asked after Bruce placed the dinner plates on the table and sat down.
"No. You haven't forgotten anything."
"I was going to wait until after dinner for this, but if you really want to know now..."
"I do. Please? You're freaking me out."
"Ok." Bruce took a deep breath, stood up and walked around the table to stand beside Amy. She watched with interest as he removed something from his pocket and lowered himself to one knee.
"Amy, I love you." Bruce began as her face split in to a huge grin. "For a long time now I've loved you. Even before I knew I was doing it." she stifled a grin as she realised what was coming next.
"I..." Bruce shook his head. "I thought about reciting this long speech, but, really there's only one thing I need to say."
Amy nodded as tears began to spill down her cheeks. "Will you marry me, Amy Gray?"
"Yes." she squeesed her eyes shut, trying to stop the tears. "Yes. I'll marry you. Oh, God."
They stood up together and Bruce gently wiped away the tears on Amy's face before kissing her and then slipping the ring he'd carefully picked out, onto her finger.
"Oh, I love you." Amy whispered into Bruce's neck as he held her.
"I love you. More than you know." he replied.
Moments later they sat to enjoy the meal he had prepared, unable to keep their eyes off of each other for longer than a minute or two.
A few months later Amy and Bruce woke up and dressed for their wedding, before heading for the church.
They were married in front of all their friends and family, and looked forward to a long happy life together.
The next one is the