Oh that day
In the kitchen she ground the Café Verona coffee beans then started a pot of coffee before returning upstairs to dress. As she was brushing her hair she looked in the mirror. Well, she didn’t think she looked any older today. Stupid birthdays anyway, age was just a number wasn’t it? So what if she was 36 years old today? She sighed as she thought about her soon to be husband who wasn’t quite 30. Shit, he was still in his 20’s and she was on the down side of her 30’s. “Depressed much?” she asked her reflection.
“Monica, did you say something?” Gerard asked from the bedroom.
“Nope, just muttering to myself.” She answered giving herself one final look in the mirror before heading downstairs for a cup of all healing coffee.
It wasn’t until later that the blues struck again. Gerard hadn’t said one word to her about her about it being her birthday. Of course you warned him not to she reminded herself. However, the fact that neither of her daughters had called to wish her a happy birthday didn’t help her mood at all.
“We should probably go to Home Depot when we’re done.” Gerard said as they sat eating the leftover pizza for breakfast.
“Why?” Monica asked with a frown.
“Well you know they’ve got lots of home improvement stuff.”
It was cute how excited he looked. “And we will be improving what?”
“Don’t know, but the place is fucking huge. We can just walk around and get ideas.”
Monica realized this was his first house and she tried to join in his enthusiasm. “Okay sure.”
Gerard looked at her closely, “What’s wrong? We don’t have to go if you don’t want to.”
Monica felt like mentally smacking herself in the head. Here he was all excited about their new home and she was being a pain because no one had remembered it was her birthday. It was all her fault. She had told everyone she wasn’t going to celebrate it but really when did people start to listen to her? “No, I want to go.” She grabbed his hand “Come on. While we’re there you can see if they sell that shelving units we have in the pantry.”
Gerard frowned, “Why?”
“So you can figure out where those four pieces go,” she teased.
He had been correct the place was huge. They both gravitated towards the Outdoor Lawn and Garden Center. Monica was looking at planters for the deck when she noticed Gerard had wandered off.
“I need to put a frickin’ bell on him” she muttered while walking along and looking down the aisles for him. When she spotted him he was deep into a discussion with a young blond salesgirl. He waved to her.
“Hey, look at this.” he said to her when she reached him. He pointed to a beautiful cedar gazebo.
“It’s lovely” Monica said looking it over.
Gerard turned to the salesgirl, “Could you write up the ticket, please?”
She nodded and scampered away. “I wanted to get your okay before I bought it.” Gerard told Monica throwing his arm around her. “I think we should put it under that big oak tree towards the back of the property.”
“That’s pretty far back. How are they gonna get a truck back there?”
Gerard laughed, “Honey, it doesn’t come assembled.”
Monica felt stupid. So now she was old and feeble minded. “Oh” she said slowly.
“They will deliver the wood tomorrow.” He told her with a smile.
“And assemble it?”
He frowned, “No”
Monica looked at him a moment before it dawned on her, “Holy shit, don’t tell me you’re gonna try to assemble it yourself?”
He looked hurt and she felt bad, “Well, yeah. Chloe said it could be assembled in a day.”
“Oh Chloe said that did she? I’m guessing Chloe is the cute little young thing that just scampered off to write up your ticket?”
“Scampered? Am I detecting jealously?’ he laughed.
Monica knew her mood was going downhill rapidly. “Yeah, scampered.” She didn’t even touch the jealously topic. Best to just let that one go. “So you really are gonna try to assemble a gazebo like this one all by yourself?”
“Yeah, I mean how hard can it be?”
“Oh I don’t know, can’t be any harder than assembling shelving units.”
Instead of being hurt by her words he laughed, “Oh, so the gauntlet has been thrown down. You don’t believe I can do this.”
Monica sighed, “Gee honey, you don’t even own power tools.”
He gave her that adorable lop-sided grin, “That’s right I don’t. Come on.”
“Where?” she asked as he began to pull her across the store.
“To the power tools, of course.”
When they got home Monica went into the kitchen. She and Gerard had purchased a new dish rack and several drawer dividers. Gerard was in the living room admiring his new nail gun. Monica thought she heard the doorbell.
“Hey, Monica Frank’s here.” Gerard yelled.
As she walked towards the living room she wondered who was staying with Jamia if Frank was out visiting. She was surprised when she saw Gerard standing by the door alone. “I thought you said Frank was here?”
He smiled and nodded, “I did”
Following his gaze Monica saw an adorable white and black puppy sniffing around the room. It had a red bow around its neck.
Monica fell to her knees and clapped her hands. The puppy bounded over to her. “He’s adorable,” she cried. As she stroked the puppy’s head she noticed there was a note attached to his bow. She slipped the bow off and read the card as Frank licked her face.
Monica scooped Frank up into her arms and hugged the wiggling gift. “Frank?” she laughed looking at Gerard.
“Well I found him at the shelter the other day when I went for our coffee. He’s a lovable, hyper little guy who can’t stop kissing ya. Frank seemed like the right name.”
“Lovable hyper little guy. That’s Frank. But kissing?”
Gerard laughed “Well sometimes on stage….” He began.
Monica giggled, “Nuff said.” She gave the puppy one more hug before setting him down so he could get back to exploring the room. She walked into Gerard’s arms. “Thank you. I thought you had forgotten.”
“Oh honey. Me forget the Birthday of a woman who threatened my life if I mentioned the B-Word?”
Kissing him hungrily she finally broke away, “I so didn’t threaten your life.”
“Oh yeah you did. ‘I’m not having a birthday’ He used a high-pitched mocking voice.
“Okay, okay maybe I was a little over dramatic about the whole thing.” She admitted with a laugh.
“Happy Birthday, baby.” Gerard said lowering his lips to hers. At their feet Frank jumped up and down demanding attention.
The day that has started off with Monica in a blue mood had turned out to be her best birthday ever. She and Gee had taken Frank over to Donna’s for dinner. Both Donna and Kelly loved the newest addition to the family. They had a special Birthday dinner waiting. The eldest daughter had even deigned to call with felicitations. She still refused to explain about the fire.
Now as Monica and Gerard lay in their bed with Frank at their feet sleeping Gerard had one more surprise. He reached under his pillow and pulled out the gift he had bought for her in Madrid.
“When I bought this for you I remember hoping that our relationship would be okay. You had sent me the text saying you loved me. It gave me hope.”
Monica took the slim box from his hand. She explained, “Frank had called me and told me that something had happened to make you send Eliza away. He told me how hurt you were and I was worried. I sent the text cause I wanted you to know how I felt.”
He gently kissed her. “Open it and I will explain.”
Slowly she pulled the lip open to reveal a beautiful gold bracelet lying on a pillow of satin. “Gee, it’s beautiful.”
He smiled, “It’s called a Never To Be Separated bracelet. See how at the clasp it starts out as two separate chains of leaves?”
Monica lifted it out. She saw that it indeed started as two separate chains. Each had intricate leaf designs. Then the two intertwined together to form one solid chain.
“The two fuse together to become one. The woman in the store explained to me that it represents two lives becoming one. She said that many people chose this as a wedding gift. It shows how their lives become one.”
Monica felt tears in her eyes as he touched her face. “In my heart you are my wife. The one who my life will always be intertwined with so I chose this for you.”
“Gee, thank you.” Her fingers ran lightly over the leaf patterns starting where they were apart to where they fused. “Please help me put it on.” She whispered through her tears. He took it from her fingers and placed it around her wrist.
“You are my life, Monica. Our lives will forever be intertwined.” As he fastened the clasp he added, “Forever”
The kiss that followed sealed his words. Of course it would have been more romantic if Frank hadn’t bounded up the bed to lick both of their faces.