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“We told you…” Francisca lowered her voice. “The island is in…dire financial straits. Loans are due. We cannot wait.”

Arlo looked at his father whose eyes were trained on the sea. For the first time, he really took him in. He had more wrinkles and gray hair than Arlo remembered. More than that, there was a heaviness to his countenance.

“If… and this is a big hypothetical if…Ifwe do get married and then get an annulment in a month, won't that tip people off that it was all a publicity stunt—which in turn would be negative press?”

His mother waved away his concern. “Let them speculate. Almost all press is good press and, at this point, we have to roll the dice.”

Arlo turned to Ada. “You don’t have to consider this. I’m sorry they even asked.”

Ada sat up straighter and looked him in the eye. He thought she might be preparing to run. Instead, she said, “I’ll do it.”

Arlo nearly fell off of his chair. Recovering, he took her hands in his. “What? Ada, are you sure? Money comes and goes, but this… this is your life.”

Ada nodded. “With that kind of money, I could get my grandma into a memory care facility.”

Francisca rose. “Then it’s settled.” She handed Ada a pen.

“Mom, wait.” Arlo looked over at Ada and lowered his voice. “Don’t you want to sleep on it?”

Ada bit her lip. Shaking her head, she said, “No. I don’t need to… I want to do it. But, if I don’t commit now, I’ll freak myself out. No looking back. Unless…” Ada met his eyes. “Unless you don’t want to do it.”

Arlo ran his hand along his jaw, considering a million pros and cons.Ada would be financially compensated, yes… But is it worth it in the long run?

He wanted to protect her from things she might not anticipate being in the public eye. But, he knew she was serious about helping her grandma. And he wanted to help the island too. He might have left, but he still cherished the place he considered his home.

He exhaled. “Okay, I’m in. But, if I'm gonna do this, I need to do it right.”

Arlo slid off his chair and onto one knee, taking hold of her hand. “Ada James…” He looked into her deep blue eyes. “I still can’t believe you agreed to come to Brazil in the first place. Thanks for doing all this—probably against your better judgment.” His mouth turned up into a grin.

Ada blew out a laugh.

He could feel her hand trembling slightly, so he interlaced his fingers with hers. “Ada, I promise I’ll do everything I can to be the best husband you’ve ever had… I am the only husband you’ve ever had, right? Not that it matters, just out of curiosity…”

Ada nodded. “You’ll be my first…”

He clearly got talkative when nervous. The reality of the situation was setting in.

“Right… We can get to know each other more later. That’s how people normally do it, isn’t it?”

“Arlo, you’re ruining the moment dear…” Francisca whispered.

A smile broke through onto Ada’s face.

Arlo took a deep breath. “Ada, will you marry me?”

With one hand covering her mouth, she nodded. “Yes.”

Arlo pumped his fist in the air, the same way he had at the coffee shop just a week prior. “She said yes!”

Francisca slid Arlo a small black box. Opening it, he recognized the gold ring immediately.

Holding it out to Ada, he said, “It was my grandmother’s.”

Her jaw dropped. “It’s so beautiful… I can’t…”

Francisca said quietly, “It’s temporary, remember? So you can. It’s a princess cut diamond with an art deco floral halo.”

Ada gulped as Arlo slid the ring onto her finger. She stared at her hand.

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