A trembling hand balled into a fist and was raised by an arm that felt almost mechanical. Taking a deep breath the owner of the fist and arm, a rather terrified young man with sandy blonde hair and hazel eyes, knocked on the carved wood door before him. For a moment he thought nobody was home, even though lights blazed in almost all the windows and the low rumbling of a television could be heard, and then the front door opened.
"Can I help you?" The salt and pepper haired man who had answered the door stared at him curiously. Recognition dawned in the man's green eyes a second later. "You're Allison's friend. Mike."
"Micah," he stammered. His lungs were starting to burn. He forced himself to let the breath he had been holding out. "My name is Micah." He wanted to tell the older man that he was more than a friend but thought better of it. He needed this man to let him inside, to sit down and talk man to man.
"Micah. Right. Sorry. You'll have to excuse me. My mind isn't what it use to be. Old age, you know." The man couldn't have been over sixty. Hardly old. The good natured smile, so like his daughter's, told Micah he was only joking.
"I was hoping we could talk." Micah managed. Hoping didn't begin to cover it. He needed to have this talk. His future relied on it. Correction, his future with Allison relied on it. She hadn't come out and said he couldn't propose without her father's permission, but it had been implied. Her father's opinion matter to her more than anything else.
"Sure, sure. Come on in. Allison's upstairs."
Micah shook his head. "I was hoping I could have a word with you sir." His pulse was starting to regulate. Mr. Harrison wasn't nearly as stern as he had feared. He had built up this God-like man with nerves of steel in his mind. He supposed it was partly due to the awe struck way Allison spoke of him. A medical professor, Thomas Harrison deserved and garnered respect, demanded it. Was he a hard man? Micah was thinking no.
"I see." Thomas's tone had turned thoughtful. He opened the door fully to allow Micah to enter the well lit foyer. Hesitantly Micah took a step inside, his black dress shoe squeaking on the honey colored wood floor. "Living room might be more comfortable." He motioned for Micah to follow.
Micah couldn't help letting his gaze wonder as he followed the other man down a wide hall way. Almost every square inch of the walls were covered with photographs, Allison prominent in them all. A three year old, pig tailed Allison in a bright green frilly two piece swim suit with purple popsicle on her mouth and chin, the remains clenched in her fist and melting. A seven year old Allison wearing a prissy looking white night gown and jumping on her bed, a pillow being flung outwards as though she was starting a pillow fight. A ten year old Allison grinning as she sat on a new purple My Little Pony bicycle. A six year old Allison wearing a Cinderella costume and holding her father's hand.
Micah swallowed around the lump that was forming in his throat. His earlier fears were starting to creep back in. Allison wasn't just a girl he loved, she was someone's daughter, a much loved daughter. Every single one of those pictures were a memory between father and daughter.
Above the mantel in the fireplace there was a large photograph of a teenage Allison dancing with her father, wearing a pale pink ball gown and elbow length white gloves.
"She's really something, isn't she?"
Thomas's question drew his attention away from the image. He could do little more than nod. Something in the man's voice gave away the fact that he didn't see his daughter as a woman, but the little girl who wore Cinderella costume's and ate grape popsicles. "Yeah. She is."
"She's always going to be my little girl, you know that right?"
Micah nodded. He knew. The lump grew larger. "I love her very much."
"I figured you did. You wouldn't be here if you didn't. I respect what you're doing. Not many young men would. They would just buy the ring, ask the girl, then work out the family approval." Thomas laid a hand on his shoulder, staring up at the photograph.
"Not many women are Allison." Micah answered. Not many women were Allison. She was special, her heart larger and more giving than most. All of it due to the man standing next to him. Her mother had walked out when she was two, leaving her father to raise her alone. The man had done an amazing job. "I'm scared, you know, to do this." The admission came only because he knew the older man would understand.
"I would have been surprised if you weren't." Thomas smiled ruefully. He took his hand from Micah's shoulder. He turned to face the younger man. "I have learned that it is always best to get this sort of thing over with quickly."
Nodding again, Micah licked his lips. "Sir, I would like to ask for your daughter's hand in marriage." There. He had done it. A sense of pride swelled in his chest.
The two men stared at each other for a moment. "You promise to make her happy?" Thomas asked. Micah nodded. Allison's happiness was all he ever wanted. He lived for a smile on her beautiful face. "You'll let her have her way on occasion?" They both knew Allison always had her way. Micah nodded anyways. "And you'll let her come home often?"
"Any time she wants," Micah promised. His pulse was starting its rapid drumming again. His hand automatically goes to his right pants pocket. His grandmother's marquis diamond seemed to be burning a hole in his pocket.
"Allison!" Micah jumped as the man bellowed his daughter's name. There was a soft thumping on the stairs just outside the living room. His breath caught in his throat when she appeared. Her long wavy dark brown hair hung around her face, her pink lips tipped up in a soft smile. The yellow sweater she wore was he had bought her, the faded and ripped jeans ones he had seen her wear often. He was glad she wore what she wore. If she had dressed up it would have felt different, as though she was someone else. "This young man has something he would like to ask you."
"Micah?" Allison whispered, her green eyes searching his. She stepped closer, the soft scent of lavender intoxicating his senses. "What are you doing here?" Her arms lifted, wrapping around his neck. His arms instinctively engulfed her in a tight embrace. If not for the audience they had he would have kissed her. Instead, he set her back. "Micah?" She frowned slightly, then parted her lips in shock as he lowered himself to one knee. Her hands fly to her mouth.
"Allison Marie Harrison, will you do me the honor of being my wife?" Micah asked, his voice loud and clear. He had never been more sure of anything in his entire life. He pulled the ring from his pocket, sliding it onto her finger.
She looked towards her father, who nodded. "Yes!" Allison cried, crouching down and throwing herself into his arms. He fell backwards, landing on his rear. Tears running down her cheeks, she laughed, pressing kisses on his face. "Yes, Micah, I'll marry you!"
Leaning his cheek against her head, Micah stared up at Thomas. Happiness and sorrow were etched in the man's eyes. In Allison's eyes he was Prince Charming, but in her father's he was the man stealing Cinderella.