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She was still hoping this was some sort of a joke. That any minute, he would reveal this was for a commercial or a reality show or something, and they would all laugh and go back to not paying attention to the game.

"Come on, Nik," Fisher said. Why wouldn't he stand up? "We're great together! Live a little! Give us a shot!"

Live a little??? Was he approaching marriage like he would a spontaneous trip to Palm Springs for the weekend?

"Fisher. Don't do this."

"I can't believe you're doing this to me." He snapped the ring box closed, stood up, and tossed his head. The head toss didn't work as well when his hair was in the bun. "Rejecting me in public! On my birthday! What kind of a person are you?"

He stormed off and ran up the stadium stairs. So she guessed this wasn't a joke then.

She looked at his bros, and his bros looked at her. They shook their heads like they were disappointed in her, turned, and filed out of the row after him.

Which left Nik alone to face the forty-five thousand pairs of eyes on her.

• • •

Carlos nudged his sister Angela as the blond dude and his bros stalked up the stairs and out of the stadium.

"Now I know what to tell your boyfriend not to do."

Angela rolled her eyes.

"Nice try, but I don't have a boyfriend."

Damn. She consistently refused to let him meet guys she was dating, so he was reduced to trying to trick her into admitting she had a boyfriend. Either he never managed to catch her off guard enough to admit it, or she'd never had a boyfriend since he started trying this. He was betting on the former.

Granted, he never told Angie anything about the women he went out with, either, but that was different. He hadn't dated anyone
seriously in years, and none of the women he had minor interludes with these days mattered enough to meet his sister.

"You have one good point," Angela said. "Anyone dating me should definitely not do that." Angela's hand gestures got bigger as she talked. "She said they hadn't discussed it. Who proposes to someone if they haven't discussed it? Especially in public?"

He looked back down at the woman—Nicole—now alone in her row. She'd sat back down and was typing something on her phone. The sun picked out the golden highlights in her dark curly hair. She was doing a very good job of pretending the whole stadium wasn't talking about her.

"I feel so bad for her." He couldn't believe she hadn't jumped up to flee the building. The game had started back up again, but no one was watching. Everyone was looking at her. Including Carlos.

"So do I," Angela said.

Nicole twirled one of her curls around her finger and pretended to watch the game. Carlos realized he was staring at her and forced himself to look away.

He turned to Angela and shook his head.

"I get trying to make a big romantic gesture and all, and wanting a surprise, but..."

"Deciding to spend your life together shouldn't be a surprise," Angela said. "It should be something the two of you talk about
first!"

"Oh, hey, speaking of," he said. "Did I tell you Drew proposed to his girlfriend a few days ago?"

She laughed.

"Really? That's fantastic. I never would have thought a year ago that your friend Drew would be engaged." She looked up at the
JumboTron, and then at Carlos. "She did say yes, right?"

He laughed.

"She did. But then, they'd talked about it first."
...

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