It is hard to surprise me. But on June 7, 2018, during a trip to Italy, Michael Mills did just that.

We were at the Boboli Gardens at Palazzo Pitti overlooking one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Florence. It was a sweltering day, and we had hiked up the hillside with his mother and two daughters in tow, hoping for amazing views of the Duomo. We came to a clearing that had a fantastic view overlooking the city—and I, of course, was focused on trying to capture it with a picture—when Michael put his arm around me. Now mind you, it was 95 degrees. I was getting ready to pull away because I was hot and sticky and gross, when he said, “I thought this would be the perfect spot to ask you to marry me.”

I think I just looked at him. It is a bit of a blur. I didn’t comprehend what was happening until he pulled out the most amazingly beautiful diamond ring I’d ever seen. I’m pretty sure I said yes, because I have that spectacular ring on my finger now.

One of my girlfriends said, “You must have been surprised, because you would have worn something nicer and at least brushed your hair.”

True. But I’ll take it.

We celebrated our engagement with decadent gelato.

So after writing about other couples’ engagement stories for more than 10 years, this is a first for me—writing my own. This is a second marriage for both of us, and we’ll do things differently this time around. I feel blessed to have been given a second chance at love with a man who has a gentle spirit, is supportive of my dreams and ambitions, holds me tight when I feel vulnerable, makes ordinary moments magical, doesn’t mind chauffeuring me all over the state, and never complains when I yell, “Pull over!” so I can take the thousandth photo of a sunset.

I look forward to a our lifetime of adventures together!

That’s amore!

Nikki Bowman, Editor