Domonique Williams had heard what Jeremy Pryor was saying about her.
In the spring of 2008, a friend from their Army National Guard unit texted Williams to inform her that Pryor had told all their co-workers that she was stalking him. And it seemed like he was only half-joking.
“I was furious,” Williams recalled.
The truth was she did have a crush on Pryor. She was intrigued by his confidence the first time they met and her interest had grown as she discovered a hidden nerdy side that matched her own. He collected comic books, loved “Star Wars” and knew all about Final Fantasy, her favorite role-playing video game.
Pryor picked up on her admiration but, he said, “I didn’t share those feelings at first and I didn’t know to tell her that I wasn’t interested at the time.”
The next time they saw each other, she confronted him about the accusation. “I was hurt, so I was like, ‘Okay, you don’t want me to talk to you? I won’t talk to you anymore,’ ” she recalled. “I just went about-face and walked the other way.”
Later in the day, he approached her with a bag of cookies as a peace offering and apologized. They retreated to separate corners after that, and maintained a friendship at arm’s length.
In the fall, Pryor was offered a full-time technology job at a National Guard post near Baltimore and moved to the city from Hagerstown. Williams was the only person he knew in the area, so he asked for her help finding an apartment.
They started hanging out a couple times a week, going to concerts and movies. “I got to know her outside of drill,” he said. It was then that he realized, “I had this whole misconception about her.”
Pryor had been single for several years after a tough breakup and intended to stay that way. But the more time he spent with Williams the more he discovered that “she’s full of love. This girl will do anything for anybody,” he said. He started thinking he “wanted to take a chance on love again.”
Over dinner at an Italian restaurant in January 2009, he told her they needed to talk. She knew what that phrase meant — “some big change is gonna happen, and nine times out of 10 it’s not gonna go your way.”
But he asked if she wanted to “take their relationship to the next level” and start dating. Williams, who had given up hope on romance, was elated.
They settled in to a comfortable routine, spending most of their nights together. But their calm was occasionally interrupted by blowups, which Pryor and Williams handled very differently. She was direct and calm; he let issues fester until he was ready to erupt.
Over time she impressed on him that it was “ ‘okay for you not to agree with me. The ceiling’s not gonna fall. The world’s not coming to an end.’ And once he realized it’s okay that we don’t agree, that it’s actually sometimes a good thing, another wall came down.”
“I think the most endearing thing is that as much as I had ups and downs that I put her through, she still persevered and still wanted to take a chance on me,” he said. “She taught me to love again.”
That fall they moved in together. But when it came time for Williams to decide whether to reenlist, they were forced to think about where the relationship was headed. If things were serious and they intended to have a family, it would probably be best if they weren’t both in the military; Williams, at 26, told the Guard she was ready to wind down her service.
The following August they traveled to Savannah, Ga., ostensibly to go ghost-hunting, a hobby they share. But during an evening horse-drawn carriage ride, Pryor, who was 29, asked the driver to stop in scenic Forsythe Park. As they sat on a bench, he used his cellphone to play the Oasis song “Wonderwall,” which had always reminded him of their relationship. Then he asked her to be his wife.
On May 22, knowing that Pryor is likely to be deployed in August, the two wed before 125 guests in the courtyard of the 1840s Ballroom in Baltimore. His impending departure has made their time together even more precious. “For three months we have to live it like we don’t have it tomorrow,” Williams said.
After dinner at the wedding reception, Williams surprised her groom with an interactive performance by a troupe of “Star Wars” reenactors. Pryor was presented with a custom-made lightsaber and had to battle Darth Vader to win back his bride, who had vanished.
When the skit finished, Pryor told Williams he had a surprise of his own. With a friend playing guitar, he led her to the dance floor and serenaded her with their song.
“You’re gonna be the one who saves me,” he sang. “And after all, you’re my wonderwall.”