“What do you mean, ‘maybe’” Greg said. He almost yelled, but he managed to control himself. “It’s a yes or no question. I’d even take, ‘I need some time.’ But, maybe?” He snapped the small, red velvet box closed and stood up to pace a small circle in the bedroom.
“I want to!” Lyla said. “Of course I want to marry you!” Greg turned around with a broad smile, but Lyla shook her head. “But,… you might not want to marry me,” she added. Greg laughed.
“I’m the one that asked, dummy,” he said as he joined her on the edge of their king-sized bed. Lyla nodded.
“You did, but you don’t know everything about me, or my family yet. We have…,” she lowered her voice to a whisper and locked eyes with Greg. “…secrets.” she said. Greg wrapped his warm around her and pulled her close.
“I can’t imagine any secrets that would change the way I feel about you,” he said, then kissed her temple. He aimed for the forehead, but she turned away slightly. “C’mon, it can’t be that bad,” he added with a laugh.
“Even if they were murderers,…” he paused. “God, I hope they’re not murderers. But, even if they were; I love you. We just won’t visit all that often,” he chuckled. Lyla shook her head again.
“You don’t understand. It’s worse.” A single tear streamed down her cheek.
“Alright, alright,” Greg squeezed her again. “Take your time and tell me.” She worried him more by standing up out of his reach; he was glad to see she only stood up to get her purse. She returned to the bed, snuggled up against him again, and began to dig through her bag.
“What did you think of my parents when you met?” she asked. Greg half-shrugged.
“They don’t seem to be murderers,” he said. Instead of a laugh he got a quick elbow in his ribs. “oww, sorry. They’re good people. As far as I knew up ’til now; they’re normal.” Lyla nodded. Her hands no longer searched the purse; she found what she was looking for and kept it hidden.
“It’s kind of hard to prove, but I swear it’s true” She looked up to meet his eyes again. “My family.. and I…,” she took a deep breath. “We’re from an alternate universe.”
Greg stared into her eyes as his mind raced. After a few moments he came to a singular conclusion: it didn’t matter. He loved her for almost a decade. He’d met her family dozens of times, and everyone seemed normal. Greg did not for a second think Lyla was lying, though he did consider she could have been misled by her parents. Either way, nothing changed for him.
“That’s it? No problem, I’m just glad you’re in this universe next to me right now,” he said and squeezed her again.
“No, that’s not it,” Lyla sighed. “That’s just the explanation. Our universe was pretty similar to this one, though with some major societal changes.”
“What kind of changes?” Greg asked. Lyla nodded.
“That’s what I’m getting to. There are things that are okay there that aren’t okay here and vice versa.” She pulled her hands out of her purse, no longer needed proof, and grabbed his. “You need to understand; we’re not bad people we were just raised in a different environment.”
“I know that. You’re wonderful, your family is always nice to me. I could never, ever think you’re a bad person. You don’t even have to tell me what kind of things you got up to over there. That other universe or whatever is your past. Our future is together.”
“No,” Lyla shook her head. “I have to tell you. I’m not going to build a relationship on a lie.”
“Okay, whatever you need,” he smiled. “Just spit it out so we can go. Pizza reservations in 30min.” Greg was glad he didn’t wait to propose at the restaurant like he initially planned. Her ‘maybe’ might have seemed worse in public.
“That’s why I have to tell you,” she said. “In the universe we came from… people used all kinds of different toppings on their pizza…” Greg narrowed his eyes and tilted his head in confusion.
“Wait. Are you saying pizza toppings are your family’s dark secret?” Greg burst out into an obnoxious guffaw. “If you’re tired of pepperoni we can try mushrooms or sausage or whatever you want.” Greg smiled, pulled out the ring box and opened it again.
“Pineapple and ham?” Lyla asked with a smile. She reached for the ring.Greg snapped the ring box shut and his face hardened into a cold, distant glare. “MONSTER! Leave. NOW.“