Why had he proposed? They were such good friends. Friends. Never lovers. They had never even been on a date. 
 
Marie had visited him in his home — home or castle, whichever you prefer to call it. The concrete dwelling was hidden from the road and crawled with kudzu vines. 
 
When she entered, The Count (a nickname assigned by Marie herself) sat in a grand chair in front of a roaring fire. He fed his parrot cheddar cubes. The gray bird’s beady eyes stared up  from his impeccable feathered crown. 
 
Marie felt her frizzy hair fall in such a way that she knew she looked unattractive and disheveled. The Count was striking — long black hair and intense azure eyes. She could think of no reason for his interest in her. 
 
Then the marriage proposal ejected from his mouth like an offer for tea.
 
When her giggling friends would ask to see her ring, how could she tell her proposal story? Over cheese, she would have to say.
 
Suddenly, her image of The Count dissolved into a socially inept man with a receding hairline. She leaned forward, wrapped her lips around his extended fingers, and grabbed the cheese with her curled tongue.

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