The day started a little early for a Saturday morning. Susanne had questioned why they were leaving at 8:30 but Brian had assured her that it would be good to get the day started early. She didn’t care that much. Brian was taking her out to breakfast on the Seattle waterfront and then they were going ring shopping. Ring shopping! It was almost too good to be true for both of them. The last few weeks had cemented one thing clearly in both of their minds: they were getting married. They both knew it would be just a matter of a few weeks before they were engaged.
Susanne and Brian were excited that they were going to be able to spend all morning and afternoon together. Susanne’s parents were visiting from out of state but they had made lunch plans with friends up in Seattle so Brian and Susanne had most of the day to themselves. The last few weeks had been so busy. Between Brian’s weekly work trips to California and Susanne traveling to Michigan last weekend it had been some number of days since they got to spend any real time together.
As they talked Brian drove the Suburban north on I-5. They hadn’t been on the road long when Brian’s business partner called. Brian immediately silenced the ringer and ignored it. But, thirty seconds later Daniel was calling again. Brian was torn and a little irritated. He wanted Susanne to be his first priority today but Daniel wasn’t calling twice in a row for no reason.
“Babe, do you need to get that?” Susanne asked.
Brian reluctantly clicked the button to answer the call on speaker phone. “What’s going on?” Brian asked without emotion.
“We’ve got some problems out on the Hood Canal project,” Daniel responded. “Josh has been working through the night. They are making good progress on the first portal but they are concerned that the sway frame is quite a bit worse than we originally thought. The state inspector is awfully concerned that we aren’t going to have the bridge back open by 8:00 am tomorrow morning and frankly I am concerned that he is right. One of us has to get out there as soon as possible.”
“I can’t go out there today,” Brian interrupted. “We’re on our way up to Seattle for breakfast and then we’re going shopping for ‘something special.'” Susanne smiled, thinking about how that ‘something special’ was going to bling on her finger!!
“Well, the truth is,” Daniel replied. “I am in California so even if I left right now I wouldn’t be able to make it to the peninsula for at least four hours. We have too much riding on this project to ignore this. With the Hood Canal Bridge closed for repairs there is no way the state is going to extend our deadline. We have to get all the lanes on this bridge back open to traffic.”
“I just can’t do it today. Maybe you can get Kevin out there and at least have him be your eyes and ears. I just can’t spend the next six hours driving back and forth to the peninsula.”
“Let me look into a few details. I’ll call you back,” Daniel said as he hung up abruptly.
A few seconds later Susanne broke the silence. “Babe, be released. If you need to go out there today I totally support you.”
Brian knew one thing for sure. She was a real treasure. The way she trusted him, the way she barely even let out a sigh of disappointment at the possibility of their ring shopping plans getting canceled for the day. He was torn. He knew the job situation was both urgent and important but he just hated the way work so often pushed other plans aside. He wanted any other option but he felt like he really should go out to the job site. “We’re not going to spend all day driving,” he told her. “Daniel can find another way. I am spending the day with you.”
The phone rang again just few minutes later. The caller ID confirmed it was Daniel calling back again. Brian answered the call and Daniel cut straight to the point.
“There is a plane waiting for you at Lake Union. Kenmore air can fly you across to the Hood Canal Marina. The flight should only take twenty or thirty minutes and once you are on the ground the marina has a rental car you can take. You know how close the bridge is to the marina. You can probably be back in the air an hour after you land. Just make sure Josh is making smart decisions and that they have a clear game plan for being finished by the morning.”
Brian hesitated. He still had no interest in changing the day’s plans but two hours was a lot better than six hours. It was actually Susanne that really made the decision more palatable. From her side of the car she was smiling at him. She whispered that it sounded like a lot of fun to take a float plane flight.
Daniel continued, “I just need Susanne’s last name so I can get her listed on the plane’s manifest.”
Brian still didn’t respond right away. Finally he broke the silence. “Mauss, M-A-U-S-S.”
“M-A-U-Frank-Frank?” asked Daniel.
“No, M-A-U-Sam-Sam,” Brian replied.
“Okay, the plane is waiting,” Daniel said. “There is a Starbucks adjacent to the terminal. You can grab something as you arrive. The address is 950 N Westlake.”
“Make sure they have champagne on board,” Brian deadpanned.
“I don’t think it’s that kind of plane,” Daniel retorted.
As Brian hung up Susanne was actually excited. “I’ve never been on a float plane! It’s okay, Babe…let’s make this a fun adventure!”
“Thank you for being so gracious,” Brian said softly. She really was amazing he thought. She was so supportive, so selfless.
When they approached the terminal they looked for the Starbucks to grab something to eat. When they found it Brian dropped Susanne off and went back to the terminal to check in. Minutes later he picked her back up. “Everything is all set,” he said. They parked and walked toward the terminal together.
As they walked he stopped to kiss her. She really was amazing he thought. So beautiful. Such a gift.
As they walked down the dock it became apparent that Susanne’s high heels were going to be a little awkward climbing the ladder into the plane. “We didn’t plan this. Can you tell?” she joked with the pilot as Brian helped her up the ladder.
As they taxied out and became airborne Brian and Susanne were all smiles. “This really is fun!” she exclaimed. They took picture after picture. The day was cloudy but flying below the cloud level gave them an incredible view out over Seattle. Seeing everything from the air was so picturesque. From the Space Needle to all the bodies of water that were visible they took in the sights.
Brian stole another kiss. “Good thing the pilot doesn’t have a rear view mirror,” he joked.
“This is amazing!” Susanne gushed. “I really owe Daniel big time for setting this up for us.”
“Oh come on Babe,” Brian joked. “I really set this all up as a fun surprise for you. Give me a little credit.”
“Yeah…I’m sure!” Susanne smiled. She was glad to see Brian a little less serious.
As the plane approached the Hood Canal Marina the pilot circled several times trying to figure out how she was going to drop us off on the beach. Even after she landed she taxied back and forth trying to find a spot where she could get the plane in to the beach and turned around without clipping the wing on the high bank adjacent to the shore. After she pulled up to the beach she and Brian hopped out to get the plane spun around before the sinking tide left the plane stuck. Brian then helped Susanne down the ladder and held her hand as she jumped from the float to the beach in her white heels.
On the beach Susanne asked Brian to pick her up and hold her in his arms for a picture. The marina attendant snapped a few shots with the plane flying away in the background. “Wait, why is the plane taking off?” Susanne asked.
“Oh, it will be right back,” Brian said brushing off her question.
Susanne stopped off at the restroom for just a moment and when she came out Brian was already walking out toward the boat dock. “Wait for me,” she smiled.
“Come on Babe.”
“I thought we were getting a rental car. How come we are heading to the boats?”
“Oh, I decided we would take a boat out to the bridge instead.”
“What? How did you change so fast?”
“It’s a small town operation. They can make changes quickly,” Brian said as he quickly signed a contract that the marina attendant held out on a clipboard.
“Slip number six,” the attendant said as he handed Brian the keys.
As they approached the boat Brian held Susanne’s hand tightly. It was only a matter of time…
“What? What is this? What’s going on here? Do my parents know about this?” asked a shocked and stunned Susanne. “Did you plan this? You did plan this! What are we doing? What’s going on here?” The boat was decorated with lilies around the entire perimeter. On the center table there sat a small pile of wrapped presents and a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Next to the presents was a photo album with a cover photo of Brian and Susanne.
Brian helped her into the boat without saying much of anything. He wanted to get out away from the dock so they could be alone. Susanne slowly recovered from the initial shock but her mind was still spinning. It was still 2 weeks until her birthday, and they hadn’t been ring shopping yet, so he couldn’t be proposing… Was this just the world’s most incredible date? When they were a few hundred yards away from the marina Brian killed the power and scooted over to hold Susanne tight. A mix CD of love songs was playing softly on the stereo. They just sat for a few minutes together.
Brian took the opportunity to give Susanne one of the presents to open. It was a waterproof rain coat that they had talked about buying together. It seemed fitting to start with that as the rain beat down on the roof of the boat. Thankfully the boat was fully enclosed and plenty warm inside.
When the next song started Brian turned the volume up and pulled Susanne up off the bench seat. He held her close and attempted to dance but he had never been much of a dancer. He looked more like a Jr. Higher at his first dance standing next to Susanne and swaying back and forth. He was thankful that she loved him enough not to care.
About an hour had passed since they first got in the boat when Brian decided it was time to surprise Susanne again. As they sat together on the padded bench seat Brian reached down into a cubby hole and pulled out a small gift bag. Brian placed the bag on the table and pulled a card out of the bag. “Can I read this to you?” asked Brian. Susanne nodded and smiled a smile that seemed part thrilled, part filled with joy and part nervous.
Brian held the lengthy card he had written in one hand with his other arm wrapped tightly around Susanne. She closed her eyes, leaned her head against his, and listened as he read the heart-felt words out loud. He finished the card, set it aside and picked up the bag. Out of the bag he pulled a small wrapped box. He pulled off the bow and removed the wrapping paper. He opened the gift box and removed the tissue paper which left him holding a black velvet ring box. Without further hesitation he pulled out the ring and got down on one knee. There was just enough room to kneel down in the center of the boat. “Susanne Mauss,” he began. “I love you. I want to marry you. Will you marry me?”
“Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!” answered Susanne as he slid the ring onto her finger. The minutes following were hard to really remember. There was pure joy and wonder and excitement. They reveled in the moment and it slowly sank in that they were really engaged. With everything going through Susanne’s mind she managed to be surprised all over again that the ring was actually on her finger. “Did you put this on me?” she asked Brian. Brian nodded and smiled.
After spending minutes or perhaps an hour reveling in the moment Brian encouraged Susanne to open the rest of the presents. She opened a children’s book that Brian knew she loved. The last present was a new cell phone and a garage door opener to their new house.
After much crying and picture taking Brian and Susanne accompanied Doug and Melanie into the Resort for lunch. After lunch the rain held off just enough to spend time taking a bunch of pictures around the grounds and out on the dock.
Somehow Brian’s car moved itself from Seattle to the Hood Canal (thanks to Brian’s parents!). So after lunch, Doug and Melanie headed back toward Tacoma and Brian and Susanne headed to the Tacoma Gene Jaurez for the manicure appointment Brian had set up.
After Susanne got her nails done they headed over to Indochine for dinner. Susanne knew all along that there were dinner plans with her parents and Brian’s parents who would be meeting for the first time. Brian had also invited his brother and sister in-law and their kids as well as his sister and Doug and Melanie. Dinner presented the opportunity to retell the story of the day for the first time to the family.
After dinner Susanne knew the plan was to go back to the new house for dessert with the families. However, as they were pulling up to the house Brian had Susanne navigate to brianandsusanne.com on his cell phone and she saw the website for the first time and she read that there was to be an engagement party just as they were nearing the house.