THE BIRTHDAY GIFT
Kathryn was standing there on the patio, hearing the music of the party inside the home of her parents. She walked further out into the rose garden to escape the noise. Taking a deep breath, she inhaled the scent of roses and looked up. The night sky was blanketed with stars so bright it appeared she could almost reach up and touch them. In the distance, she could hear the barking of a neighbor’s dog. Walking over to a bench she sat down, removed her shoes and rubbed her aching feet. She will never get used to wearing high heels. Her long flowing royal blue evening gown was quite modest, yet draped over one shoulder giving it an elegant look, but at this moment she wished she had remembered her shawl for the evening air had a slight chill to it. Replacing her shoes, she sighed and stood to go, almost bumping into something hard. As she stepped back to get a look at who she bumped into her hands flew to her mouth.
“Jonathan, I thought you were in the Caribbean islands?”
“I flew back to be here tonight. After all, how could I stay away from the most beautiful woman on her birthday?”
“You say the sweetest things.” She commented as she hugged him.
Jonathan has always been in love with Kathryn since high school. Only he kept it a secret of how he felt about her. He thought he could never be in the same league as she is, with her influential wealthy family. Yet, they developed a beautiful friendship. At least the differences hadn’t stopped their friendship. Now as she was celebrating her twenty-third birthday, he plans to let her know how he has always felt about her. While he was away all he could do was think about Kathryn. He spent many sleepless nights praying and feeling an intense emotion of needing to tell her. That was the reason for coming back from his missionary work so soon. Looking at her now in the moonlight, he was wondering if she possibly could be feeling the same way.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” She asked with a smile.
“Oh, I know you have another surprise for me, right?”
He smiled and hugged her, “Well you could say that.”
Her smile fading she looked deeper into his eyes. “I really have missed you. A half a year is such a long time.” Her smile, returning as she continued, “I am just so glad you are home. It makes my birthday even better.” She gave him another hug. “So what’s my other surprise?”
He laughed and kissed her forehead. “In due time sweet Kathryn, in due time.”
“How long are you staying before heading back?” His expression got serious, and she thought she saw something in his eyes, but what? She didn’t know.
“That will all depend on…” He was about to say (you) but stopped his words.
“Depends on what?” she persisted.
His eyes got darker as he leaned forward cupping her face with his hands and whispered as his lips touched hers,
“You.” The kiss was gentle, and she responded.He couldn’t believe she was responding, so he deepened the kiss. She wrapped her arms around his neck and held onto him like her life depended on it. As they parted he looked down at her, her eyes closed as if in a dream world.
As they slowly opened, she looked up at him and asked breathlessly, “How long have you wanted to do that?”
He smiled as he answered. “Ever since high school, since that first time I saw you in the lunch line looking disgusted at the food.”
She laughed “The food was pretty awful.” She stopped laughing and got serious. “You said your leaving or staying depends on me?”
She turned away and walked over to a rose and touched it. “I don’t know what to say.” She whispered.
“You could begin by telling me if you have feelings for me.” He walked behind her and put his hands on her shoulders. “Could there be an us Kathryn?”
She closed her eyes at the touch of his hands. They felt so warm yet strong. It was as if an electrical current was running through her. She couldn’t think clearly. It was as if she was suddenly aware of Jonathan the man, no longer a boy she grew up with.
“I’m not sure Jonathan. All I know is I have missed you, missed being with my best friend.”
She turned to face him, was it his imagination or did he just see hope in her eyes. How many times he has prayed that Kathryn would feel what he feels. Does he dare to hope that his prayers were
As she stood there looking into Jonathan's eyes, a shiver went through her very soul. She now is looking at him in a different light. He was handsome dark wavy hair and aqua blue eyes. At Least six feet tall he towers over her by a head. The aftershave he wore, smelled so good it tickled her senses. That wasn’t all she was aware of; there was something more in his eyes it both frightened, yet excited her at the same time.She couldn’t stop what was happening to her all she knew was she didn’t want her Jonathan to go away again. Her Jonathan, where did that come from?He shifted his weight, and she took it as he was getting ready to leave and in desperation, she said, “Don’t leave me.”
He took her in his arms kissing the top of her head as he kept saying to her,“I’m not leaving, not now not ever. I love you, Kathryn, I have been in love with you since the first day we met. I want you as my wife.”
At his words she held him so close, she couldn’t believe her ears. He loves her; her dreams have finally come true. Someone who loves her for who she is and not what she has, her daddy’s money.
She looked up at him with tears in her eyes and then he knew. He sat her down on the bench and got down on one knee. She couldn’t believe it; her heart was pounding so hard she was sure he could hear it. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small black velvet jewel case. Her breath got caught in her throat as he opened it revealing the most beautiful ring she has ever seen. It was made of white gold with little designs on it with a solitaire in the middle and two smaller ones on each side.
“Oh, Jonathan it’s too expensive.” He smiled as he explained. “This had belonged to my grandmother. It was passed down to me for my soul mate.”
She looked up at him at the word soul mate. What she saw there was so much love as he removed the ring from its box and asked,
“Kathryn with all my heart I know you are for me, my blessing, and my soul mate. Will you marry me?”
She could feel her cheeks getting wet with her tears, and then it happened. It just broke free like a dam overflowing. She felt warm all over with the new knowledge of her feelings. She was in love with him. With new awareness in her heart, she smiled and threw her arms around him as she answered,
“Yes! Yes, I will marry you, Jonathan.” She pulled him away just enough to look him in his eyes. “I love you.” That felt so good to say.
He couldn’t believe his ears, yet as he looked her in the eyes, he knew it to be true. He slipped the ring on her finger and took her hand in his.
“I’m about to marry my best friend.” She smiled a radiant smile and with eyes sparkling,
“As I am about to marry my best friend.” His kiss was just so sweet as he staked his claim on her, which she drew closer to him relishing the sweet kiss. They belonged together now he has his answer.
“The next time I leave it’s going to be with you for our honeymoon.”
She smiled as she melted into his arms and hugged him. “I like the sound of that.”
All of a sudden a rustling sound broke them apart as Tommy appeared.
“Well now isn’t this cozy.” He spoke clearly agitated at what he witnessed.
“Tommy, what are you doing here?” Kathryn asked
“Your parents sent me out to look for you. Am I interrupting?” he asked looking at Kathryn and then glaring at Jonathan.
“I thought you were away for another five months.”
Jonathan put his arm around Kathryn as he answered. “I cut it short. I had some business to do.”
Kathryn just stared back at Thomas (Tommy) Breckenridge. She knew Tommy wanted to one day marry Kathryn as well as her parent's wishes. The money it was all about money. She knew she could never marry anyone she didn’t love.
Now with her new found feelings for Jonathan, she was not about to let her family control her life anymore. She was going to marry Jonathan, and they can’t do anything about it. They will just have to accept it. With her head held high, she entwined her fingers with Jonathans and marched right past Tommy with Jonathan beside her and went into the house to her birthday party.
Seeing the two enter the house holding hands the room suddenly got quiet. The couple just stood there in the middle holding hands.
Tommy came up behind them and announced with sarcasm. “I found them in the garden looking too cozy.”
Her dad walked a little towards the couple.“Is this true Kat?”The pet name her dad has called her ever since she was little. Well, she wasn’t a little girl anymore. So with all the bravado she now felt she answered,
“Yes daddy it’s true.”
Gasps went all throughout the room. This was unheard of he has no money; he came from the poor side of town. His mother worked cleaning offices at night to feed her family after the death of her husband. They came from two different worlds. Anger began to fill Mitchell Perry as he looked to his daughter, but instead of making a scene he walked out towards the library saying “Kathryn, Martha, follow me please so we can talk.”
Martha, his wife, looked at her daughter and turned to follow her husband. Kathryn looked at Jonathan, and when he nodded his understanding, she let go of his hand and walked in the direction of the library. With his ring on her finger, it gave her strength to face her parents.
She stood at the closed door of the library took a deep breath and opened the door and entered.
Jonathan felt uncomfortable with all eyes on him. He walked over and got him soda to drink. He could hear murmurs all over in the room.
“What does he think he’s doing here?” He heard a woman say.
“Of all the nerve.” He heard another.
“Isn’t Kathryn betrothed to Tommy?” another one said.
Tommy walked up to Jonathan,
“You’re not welcomed here.” He told Jonathan. Jonathan just looked at him taking a sip of his soda. Tommy had what looked like wine in his hand.
“You know you have no chance at her, don’t you?” he said taking a sip of wine. “We are to be married. Her parents and mine are already making the arrangements.” Another sip and his drink was gone he asked for another one.
Jonathan gulped his soda down. “We will just have to see about that.”
Tommy threw his head back and laughed.
“And what do you think you have to offer her, a slum of a home? Do you think that would be enough? Look around you man. Look at what I could give her.”
“Is that all you think life is about money?”
Tommy sneered at Jonathan. “Of course it is.”
“No, it’s not. I may not be able to give her material things, but I can give her my heart. The greatest gift ever created by a very living God, love.” With shaking hands, he set his empty glass down and continued. “Life does not revolve around money. It’s about how one lives their life and how they can serve God. It's about embracing the gifts God places in their life.”
“Bravo.” He heard a woman’s voice say as well as clapping. He turned to the voice he recognized at the doorway and saw his Kathryn standing there clapping.
Then she turned to her parents who stood behind her and spoke,
“Another gift God gave to us is choice. And my choice is Jonathan. I love him with all my heart, and I know God will take care of us. Even if we did end up living in a one-room shack that would be enough for me cause of all the love in that home.”
Jonathan walked over to her, as she continued.
“That’s what makes a home daddy not a building, the love inside that building.”
She looked over at her mother and noticed the tears in her eyes.
“We used to have that once Mitchell, don’t you remember?” Martha began, “We had nothing when we first got married, and yet we had more then, then what we have now. I miss that. It seems the money only brought us separate lives. We are not living a life; we are only existing in it.”
Mitchell looked at his wife of thirty years and for the first time saw loneliness in her eyes.
“What have I done? I only wanted for my family what I never had growing up. I wanted the very best for you all.”
“Oh sweetie, I know you meant well. I myself had even gotten caught up in all this.” Martha said the last indicating the big fancy house with her arms. “I said my vows thirty years ago, and I still mean every word. I will always love you, Mitchell; I just want my husband back.”
That weakened the barrier around Mitchell’s heart.He reached out and wrapped his arms around his bride, “Will you forgive an old fool, Martha?”
She hugged him with all the love she still holds for her husband.
“I had forgiven you years ago. I was just waiting for Gods timing to answer my prayer. Now, my husband, there is another matter we must address.”
She indicated with her hand Jonathan and Kathryn standing there patiently waiting, Kathryn with a big grin.
“Umm, Aw Yes. Well umm, it seems I owe you an apology as well, young man. I guess the problem was, I saw too much of myself in you, and I wanted more for my daughter. Now as I am reminded, my wife is right. We were happiest before my fortune. Now I come to realize; you are what is best for my daughter. I see in your faces all the love and joy my wife and I have once shared.” He looked at his wife and continued, “Still share. So with all that said, I give you two my blessing.”
“No, she is promised to me.” Tommy cried out, as Kathryn hugged her dad than her mother.
“Young man its Kathryn’s life and her choice if you don’t like her decision then you can leave our home.”
Tommy threw the wine glass, and it shattered on the floor and stormed out of the house.
“Everyone it seems the birthday party has just turned into an engagement party. Let’s all enjoy ourselves.” Mitchell said addressing the guest.
Kathryn turned to Jonathan after her dad's announcement and threw herself into his arms and kissed him soundly on the lips for all to see when a sudden burst of cheers and applauds erupted in the room.
Kathryn indeed has received the best birthday gift ever, her parent's respect and Jonathan's love. ‘What more could I ask for? Not a thing.’ Was her thought as she gazed lovingly into the eyes of the man she loves, her husband to be.