"Stop fidgeting. You look like a drug addict," Charles said, taking Elise by the hand.

She shook him off. "I can't help it. The band tickles my wrist."

"Then don't wear it."

The sun slid beneath their bistro table umbrella, glaring off Charles’ butterknife. Elise twisted the golden links of her watch around her skinny wrist, wincing when it pulled at her arm hair. Maybe Charles was right; she shouldn’t wear it, but just then the sunlight hit the gold-gilded face making the white napkin beside her look radiant, almost magical. Elise nodded and put her hands in her lap, feeling more determined than ever.

Charles rolled his eyes. He always acted condescending when he was nervous, but he was introducing her to his parents—he had every right to be nervous.

Elise was good at first impressions. She knew that, but the knowledge didn't keep her from adjusting and readjusting the watch as they kept their eyes on the restaurant door, waiting for the moment their server ushered Charles' parents onto the patio. It also did nothing to ease the nausea she'd felt all morning.

Charles let out a frustrated sigh and took a sip of his water. "We're acting like we're sixteen. We're adults, Elise. It doesn't matter what they think. Your ring will be in next week, and then we'll be official."

Elise smiled—Charles was never one for surprises—but the expression didn't go beyond her lips. He could claim his parents' opinion didn't matter, but it did. For better or for worse, it did. And whether they loved her or hated her, she still carried his child. All of their lives were invariably connected through an unborn infant, and they knew it. Well, Charles and Elise knew it. His parents didn't.

Elise reached for a piece of bread, and Charles raised his eyebrows.

"I'd wait, but it helps," she said.

He smiled as if he understood.

Their server stopped at the table again, refilling their barely touched water glasses. He winked at Elise, and she thought she felt his eyes linger on her wrist. She looked at the watch again, taking in the wide face and the gold band that slid every time she moved. It struck her that the thing might be a bit gaudy after all. She undid the latch and dropped it in her purse. She’d save it for a more appropriate time.

Charles nodded towards the door as Elise snapped the bag shut.

She rubbed her wrist and followed his gaze. Elise was good at first impressions.