He didn’t know he was dozing until Johnny’s quiet voice startled him awake. He jumped a little, rubbed his hand over his face, and focused bleary eyes on his son.
"Johnny! We missed you at dinner."
"Sorry. I've been at Emily's." Johnny didn't look sorry. In fact, Murdoch thought he looked downright pleased with himself as he perched precariously on the edge of the sofa.
"How is she?" Murdoch shifted higher in his chair, trying to feel more alert.
Johnny hesitated. "Well, she had a bad night, but she’s doing better now," he finally said.
He looked down at the floor, clapping his hands together silently. "I don't know how to say this so I'm gonna come right out with it." He took a deep breath but a small smile threatened the corners of his mouth. "I asked Emily to marry me. She said yes."
Murdoch's drowsiness vanished. "Johnny, congratulations!" he said more heartily than he really wanted to. He’d suspected this was coming, but hoped it wouldn’t be quite so soon. He wasn’t sure he was ready to share either of his sons yet.
Johnny sucked in a big breath, then blew it out. “Emily can be a little stubborn, you know. The first time I asked her she said no."
Murdoch raised his eyebrows without comment.
"She told me I insulted her when I said she needed me to take care of her. She said I should only ask her to marry me if I couldn't live without her anymore." Johnny fell silent, an enigmatic smile on his lips.
"So..." Murdoch prompted, leaning forward, his own smile matching his son’s.
Johnny looked up with a sheepish grin. "So, I thought about it and realized I couldn't live without her anymore."
Murdoch laughed. "So she said yes."
"She said yes. Then she said she wasn't sure she wanted to live here at Lancer."
Murdoch's heart fell. More than anything, he wanted his sons to stay at Lancer, to raise their families here. It would make up in some measure for the fact that neither boy grew to manhood under his roof. But Murdoch knew that what he wanted might not be what his sons-or their wives-wanted.
"It's a big decision," he said cautiously, trying to keep disappointment from his voice.
"It is. And we had quite a discussion about it. But we found a compromise." Now there was a familiar deviltry in Johnny’s grin; Murdoch relaxed just a little without knowing why.
"Yep. We decided to ask you if we could redo some of the rooms in the north courtyard for us, with one condition."
"One condition," Murdoch repeated, pretending to be skeptical as his heart rose again.
"One condition." Johnny's smile lit up the room. "She wants indoor plumbing."