SHANE. Coexisting with another person that you love or care for is one thing. I’m quite certain that it is satisfying to most people. Sharing your life – truly sharing it – well, nothing compares. The taste of love, for me, is something that most people will never savor.
“Kace babe? Are you about ready?” nervously I paced back and forth across the living room floor.
“Just about, babe. I’m almost done,” her voice echoed from inside the bathroom.
Valentine’s Day. Something I really know nothing about. I know it’s a day that we are expected to express love for our respective others. It seems quite foolish to me to choose a day to express your love. I believe it is my duty, in accepting Kace into my life, to express my love to her every day. She should never wonder what I think, feel, or desire.
“Okay, here I am,” she said as she walked out of the bathroom.
“Uhhm. Babe. You look. Wow. You look remarkable,” I stammered as she turned in a slow circle.
She was dressed in a black dress, heels, and the necklace I bought her at the mall. Ripp actually helped me pick it out, and I must say that it was a great Valentine’s Day gift. A silver necklace with two silver hearts – each had our name engraved on it. In a sense, according to Ripp, Kace’s own heart shaped dog tags.
“All for you,” she stopped turning, faced me, and smiled.
“Well, I just love it,” I admitted.
I placed my hands on each of her shoulders and held her as I slowly kissed her. As our lips parted, I looked into her eyes. I had so much I wanted to say, but needed to wait until we were at dinner. I looked into her eyes admiringly and smiled.
“You look nice. I like the formal look on you. Black slacks, dress shoes, a light blue dress shirt, and a jacket. Is this the way the future Heavyweight Champion of the World dresses?” Kace giggled as she slowly looked from the floor up to my face and back down again.
“This is how the man that loves you dresses on Valentine’s Day, babe,” I laughed.
“Well, I just love it,” she giggled mockingly.
“Let me see if our ride is here,” I said nervously.
“You stay here, let me see,” I said as I pointed to where she stood and turned for toward the door.
As I opened the door and looked out into the driveway I was immediately relieved and excited at the same time. I wanted Kace’s Valentine’s Day to be so special. She said she had been with Buster since she was sixteen, and even when she was young, he never celebrated Valentine’s Day. She said he had told her it was a stupid holiday. This was her first Valentine’s Day ever. I wanted desperately to make it one that she would remember.
“Our ride is here, babe,” I said excitedly as I walked back into the living room.
When I walked in, she was rubbing the necklace with her fingers. “I love this necklace,” she smiled.
“It looks great, babe. Come on, our ride’s here,” I held my hand out toward her.
As she grabbed my hand and we walked to the door, I hoped that her night would be memorable. As soon as she stepped through the door, I knew at least the first part of it was a clear winner.
“Shane! Really? Oh my God!” she screamed as she let go of my hand and ran toward the driveway.
“I guess you’re okay with the transportation arrangements?” I smiled a prideful smile as I walked toward where she was standing.
“A horse and carriage? Who wouldn’t be happy? Oh my God. We’re going to ride in it?” she giggled as she slowly raised her hands toward the horse’s neck.
“You can pet the horse, ma’am. They’re very tame. Mr. Dekkar, pleasure’s mine. We’re all rootin’ for ya in that fight comin’ up, son. The great state of Texas has your back on this,” the man said as he held the reigns of the horses.
“Thank you sir. I’ll try not to let you down,” I nodded as I slowly approached Kace.
I’d never been around a horse, and to be quite honest, I was nervous. I can’t remember that I have ever even seen one in person. As Kace’s hand worked its way up and down the neck of the horse, she smiled an involuntary smile that spoke clearly what she felt. As I touched her shoulder, she turned to face me.
“Ahhh, baby. Your make up is going to be a mess,” I said as she turned around.
Without speaking, she reached up and wiped the tears from her face with her index finger.
“I…” she looked down at her feet and back up at my face.
I held my hand on her shoulder and guided her to the side of the carriage. As she grabbed the brass handle to pull herself into the carriage, she turned to face me. Her mouth opened and she paused, unable to speak.
“Save it babe. Get in,” I laughed as I held her hand and lifted her into the open top carriage.
“This is just…I love you, Shane,” she said as she sat on the wooden seat.
“I love you, babe,” I responded as I jumped into the seat beside her.
“Where’s he taking us?” she asked.
“We’re going to eat dinner, babe,” I responded, smiling.
Kace had been begging to eat sushi for nearly a month. She had never eaten it before, but couldn’t wait to try it. Purposely, I had made all the excuses in the world to wait to take her, knowing I wanted to treat her to it on this day. There was a small family owned sushi place two miles from where we lived, and according to all sources, it was second to none. Seating was limited, as the restaurant had ten tables total.
I approached the owner a month prior to tonight and asked to lease the entire restaurant, attempting to plan a private dinner for Kace and I. Hesitantly he calculated what his anticipated profit would be for the night. When he gave me the six hundred dollar figure, I gave him a thousand.
As the horses trotted down the street, Kace tilted her head back and smiled.
“I love that you can smell them. The horses. They smell so good. This is just too much,” she rested her head on my shoulder and sighed.
The methodical sound of the horse’s hooves on the street was hypnotic and relaxing. The two miles took about half an hour to travel, and Kace enjoyed every moment of it. As cars passed the carriage, she waved to them as if she were a celebrity. In her mind, she probably felt like one. As I watched her glow with pride, I knew that I had made a great choice.
With the carriage.
And with Kace.
SHANE. “Are you serious? We get to eat sushi?” Kace squealed as the horses pulled the carriage into the parking lot of the small restaurant.
I smiled as I saw the expression on her face, knowing that her expressed joy was genuine. Small things made this girl feel so special. The last ten years of her life, so to speak, she has lived in seclusion. Her life was just beginning, and she was enjoying every minute of it.
As the carriage stopped, she turned to me with a look of sheer disappointment.
“They’re closed, babe,” her shoulders slumped as she spoke.
“Let’s get out and check the door. Maybe they’re open,” I responded as I reached for her hand.
The look of disappointment stayed with Kace as we walked up the sidewalk to the front door. The neon sign inside the window was clear, bright, and illuminated for all to see, CLOSED. Kace turned to me and smiled from ear to ear as she pushed against the door and it opened.
“They’re open, babe,” she giggled as she peered inside the door.
“Well, let’s go in,” I smiled as I held the door open.
Kace stepped through the door, and I followed her into the restaurant. I looked at the owner and held my index finger to my lips, hoping he would get the message to not let Kace know what was going on. His nod confirmed he understood what I was trying to say.
“Sit wherever you want, babe,” I said as Kace looked around the small restaurant.
“There’s nobody here, this is so nice. Maybe no one knows they’re open because he didn’t turn on the OPEN sign,” Kace smiled as she started to sit at the table in the corner.
I sat on the opposite side of the table and smiled – content that Kace was so excited having the opportunity to try sushi for the first time.
“I have no idea what to get, I have always wanted to try sushi, but never had the chance,” she rubbed her hands together as she spoke.
The owner and his wife ran the small sushi restaurant. They were both Japanese, and acted as the waiter, waitress, owners, and sushi chef. The man approached our table, holding menus and smiling.
“Good evening, welcome to Wasabi. Is this your first time at Wasabi?” he asked as he stood at the edge of our table.
“This is my first time ever. I’ve never had sushi,” Kace blurted as she opened her hands and motioned over the table.
“Well, if you would prefer, I will prepare you a special plate. A little bit of everything that Wasabi is famous for,” the owner said as he alternated glances between Kace and I.
I shrugged my shoulders, “Sounds good to me. Kace?”
Kace nodded her head eagerly and smiled.
“I’ll have water to drink,” I said.
“I’d like water as well,” Kace said.
The owner nodded, smiled, and walked away. Kace turned to face me and grinned as she covered her mouth.
“This is so exciting. I hope no one else shows up until we’re done. It’s like it’s our own little sushi restaurant for Valentine’s Day. I love it,” she covered her mouth with both hands as she giggled.
“I have something for you,” she said as she reached into her purse.
Kace removed a card from her purse, handed it to me, and leaned forward onto the table eagerly waiting for me to read it. As I opened it, she sat back in her seat and smiled, appearing extremely anxious.
I smiled, closed the card, and placed it on the table. The owner approached, quietly placed two glasses of water on the table, smiled and turned away.
“Kace, I have something else for you,” I reached into my jacket pocket and removed a small thin box containing a diamond tennis bracelet I had purchased for her.
As I handed her the box, she looked confused.
“You already gave me a card and this necklace,” she said as she reached for the box with one hand and rubbed her necklace with her other hand.
“Well, I just thought you’d like this. And I have a few things to say as well,” I said as I motioned toward the box.
“Oh my God, Shane, this is too much,” she shook her head as she looked in the box.
“Put it on,” I smiled as she pulled the bracelet from the box.
I reached across the table and helped her with the bracelet. As she clasped it, she rotated her wrist and stared at the bracelet, smiling. Making Kace feel special meant more to me than anything else that I could offer her. I don’t ever want her to wonder how I feel about her, I want her to know.
“Shane, I love it – it’s beautiful. And so many diamonds, this is just crazy,” she looked up from the bracelet and smiled.
“Okay. And here’s what I want to say,” I inhaled slowly and waited for her to make eye contact.
“Here in six months, I will be fighting for the championship. After the fight, I will have accomplished everything I ever wanted to or needed to – as far as fighting goes. I won’t need to fight any longer. Depending on whether I win or loose, I will make between one and a half and two million dollars. I want to pay to remodel the gym, which will be about two hundred thousand. The rest, I want to donate to build a home for battered women. A safe house,” I paused and waited for Kace to respond.
“Oh my God, Shane. Wow.” Kace’s eyes widened as she spoke.
“Wait, babe. That’s not all. I want to retire after the fight. I want to retire, and I want. Well, I want,” I paused and took a deep breath.
“Kace I want to have kids. I want that bad. I want to be a husband and a father, and there’s no one on this earth that I want to do that with but you,” I paused as the owner carried two plates to the table.
He placed the plates on the table and stood proudly, smiling at his presentation.
“Sashimi, Hot Roll, Tiger Roll, Cucumber salad, California Roll, and Special Roll,” he said as he pointed to each of the items on the plate.
“Thank you,” I said as I nodded toward the owner.
Kace looked down at the plates and back up at me. She picked up the chop sticks, looked at them curiously, and placed them back on the table. She glanced down at the presentation of sushi, and toward me, and smiled.
“I tell you what. You teach me how to eat this without looking like a fool, and I’ll have your baby,” she said as she looked into my eyes.
I tried to refrain from smiling, but I couldn’t. Kace was as adorable of a woman as she was beautiful. As my mouth formed a smile, she formed her hand into a fist and extended it to the center of the table.
“Pound it,” she said.
I shook my head slowly, and made a fist. As I extended my hand toward hers, she smacked her fist against mine sharply.
“There it’s a done deal,” she smiled as she pulled her had back to her side of the table.
And, as I taught Kace to eat sushi on our first Valentine’s Day of what would be a lifetime of them, I knew.
This woman would be the best mother that a child could ever ask for.