Before she reached the door, something snapped—and Sam whirled to her, shoving away the voice of his brain, "Hey—Diane?"

Diane stopped, and turned to him.

Sam beckoned with his finger, with a whispered, "Come here…."

Diane smiled faintly, tiling her head questioningly. But she walked back to him.

Sam stared at her intently, and said, "If you tell me—right now—that you want to marry me…I'll tell you I want to marry you."

Diane stared at him in silence…until finally she chuckled, shaking her head. "I know what you're trying to do, Sam."

"No, come on—"

"Sam…I haven't exactly been vague on my desires. You know I want to marry you."

Sam grinned. "Well…I sure don't want to marry—"

"Oh, Sam, you're so predictable. You intend to ruin this wonderful moment, in pursuit of vengeance for what you feel to be my playing games with your heart."

"Hey, give me some credit, here—!"

Diane shook her head, chuckling, "Well, I will admit you can be quite charming, when you don't intend to be."

"Okay…" Sam closed the remaining distance between them.

Diane shrugged, "And you did refer to me as your sweetheart, a moment ago…."

"Yeah, sure I did. Now, um—what say you and I…take this little discussion to my place—?"

"Sam!" Diane laughed, shaking her head. When she was through, she sighed and shook her head, "Well, I'm glad to hear you're at last open to something."

"Yeah, so how about you?"

Diane shrugged, "Well, I admit, it is tempting…."

"Mm…hmm!" Sam wrapped his arms around her. "So, what do you say?"

He felt Diane responding in kind, but she pursed her lips for a moment, and said, "Well, to—to be perfectly honest, Sam, I—"

Sam smiled.

Diane stared at him, her eyelashes starting to flutter, "I-I don't—think…"

Her voice trailed off…and they leaned to one another. Their lips met…and the sparks simmered and erupted and grew into a roaring wildfire.

"Mnn—my place?" Sam managed to blurt out.

Diane nodded, "Oh yes, Sam—now! I…wait, my apron—!"

Sam cut her off with kiss after kiss, "Forget the apron—let's go, huh?"

As the moved closer to the door, Diane let out, "Oh, Sam…once again, in—each other's arms—"

"Right—"

"And just moments from…oh, Sam, it would so perfect—at…at last, it's once again so right—"

"Wait a minute…" Sam paused, looking at her, "Right for what?"

Diane beamed at him, "Why, your proposal, of course!"

"Oh, come on!" Sam moaned, as he let her go, straightening up. "Diane!—why do you have to—"

"Oh, but Sam—don't you see? This…this grand explosion of passion—"

"Geez, you really don't give up, do you?"

Diane stared at him, and sighed. "Right…that was a little impatient, wasn't it?"

Sam spread out his hands. "Come on—I mean…don't you think—"

"No, Sam, I…I only want it to mean something—a new step in our relationship—"

"I-I know! Sure, just not that big—"

Diane gave a quick bounce in her step, with a glowing smile. "Then you will?! Well—eventually, I mean…?"

Oh, great—way to go, Sam! Way to GO!

Sam shook his head, "Gee, you think I'm going to, anyway, so…?"

Diane pointed to him, "Ah, but I'm sure you'd agree that in moments such as these, we must both be sure to acknowledge—"

"Okay, fine: it's a new step in our relationship."

"And?"

Sam scoffed, "What—what are you doing to me, Diane? You saying we can only hit the sack if I propose?"

"Not necessarily…although I wouldn't be opposed to your, um, 'speeding it along' for us…."

"In your dreams."

Diane sighed, "Well, in that case, at least a pledge that—when you feel the time is right, you will."

Sam scratched the side of his head, "You're getting a little desperate, aren't you?"

Diane huffed, "Well, if you won't…"

"Come on—a few minutes ago, you kept on saying it was only a matter of time—what do you care what I say or not?"

"Sam," Diane pointed at him again, "I don't want to argue—I only want to establish that we're in full agreement as to the direction of our relationship."

"Well, what does it matter?"

Diane dropped her arm, and she swallowed, and began, "It matters, Sam, that I don't want the two of us to suffer a conflict of interests regarding our path. I can't bear that again—not again!"

"Hey, come on, what's the big deal—?"

Diane shook her head, with a sad smile. "Sam…I know, in my heart, that we are destined to be together, however long it'll take. But—in order for it to happen, you must know it, too. And that means that…what we have can't only be physical—and both of us must know it, and accept it."

Sam sighed, and looked off. "Gah, why didn't I go with Tiffany when I had the chance?" he muttered.

Diane shrugged, and smiled, "Well—for what it's worth, I think tonight has been a positive sign, for both of us. With our talk, we've made progress, such as it is—"

Sam walked past her, and opened the door, "Yeah, here's some good progress—let's get out of here, and go."

Diane grinned, following him out as Sam locked the door. "As you say, my love—"

"Oh, knock it off. We're done."

"For tonight, perhaps," Diane sang out, as they walked up the steps to the street, "But you and I, Sam Malone, are for all time—!"

"I said knock it off, okay? I'm not in the mood for it."

Diane chuckled, "Oh, Sam, I love you."

"Stop saying that."

Diane took his hand. "Well, I do!"

"I said stop—and let go of me!"

"Why, Sam—you're holding on to me, too!"

"What are you t—?" And Sam noticed that, despite himself, he was returning her hold. He scoffed, and let go—well, on his end. Her hand still kept its grip, as they stepped onto the sidewalk. And to make matters worse, Diane kissed him on the cheek.

"Drive me home, Sam?" she smiled.

"Let…go."

Diane chuckled, and did so.

"Thank you! Now, I'm sure you can get back the way you came."

Diane pouted, "Sam, do you realize I'll have to walk alone, or wait for a cab for who knows how long—and at this late hour, who knows—?"

"Fine—this way!"

Diane's smile returned, "Oh, thank you, Sam…I knew you'd come through."

"Shut up."

As they walked to the car, Diane looked upward, "Ha!"

I'm gonna regret this: "Oh, great, what is it, now?"

"Ah, I was just thinking…do you know what happened to Benedick and Beatrice?"

"Oh, that Whole Lot of Nothing?"

He'd hoped it would be enough to tick her off—anything to wipe that cutesy grin off her face.

Didn't work. Diane just chuckled, shaking her head. "It's called Much Ado About Nothing, Sam."

"Whatever," Sam muttered, knowing full well he wasn't going to win, tonight. "Let me guess: they suck it up, admit they were being stupid, and tie the knot in the end, right?"

Diane nodded—taking his hand again. "You see, Sam? Though you refuse to admit it, even you know, in your heart, that it's meant to be."

"No, that's just what usually ends up happening in those kinds of plays, or movies, or whatever. It's got nothing to do with us!"

Diane nodded, "Whatever keeps you happy, my love."

"Stop calling me that!

"C'est la vie, mon coer."

"What's—never mind, don't; I don't want to know…."

Sam opened the door to the car—and felt like kicking himself when he realized too late it was the passenger's seat. Oh, great—not again….

Diane glowed at him, "Thank you, Sam," she sweetly near-whispered, and gave him a kiss before she took her seat.

Sam would have slammed the door, if it wasn't his car. He would have!—really!

I don't know what's worse, he mused as he headed to the driver's side, opened the door, and sat down, going ahead and marrying her…or suffering this for the rest of my life! Because I've got a bad feeling that nothing's ever going to convince her it's over—she'll just keep on singing inside, and smiling at me, and acting so cutesy…and cute.

Sam shook his head and sighed, as he started the car and drove…trying his hardest not to listen to Diane, as she leaned back in her seat, looking off…and softly sang to herself, beside him:

"I've got the world on a string…

Sitting on a rainbow…

Got the string, around my finger….

What a world!

What a life!—I'm in love…!"

Yeah, Sam mused, keeping his eyes fixed on the road, "What a life" is right….