“So…any regrets?” she asked?
“Nope. Not a one.” He smiled, reaching over to hold her hand.
“Ten years, and you wouldn’t change a thing huh?”
“Not one thing. After ten years I’m still the happiest married man I know.”
“Unh huh. Even when I get after you for eating late night snacks?”
“Frank!” she jerked her hand away laughing.
“Just kidding honey. No. Nothing. I love you.” He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a ring box, “In fact, I was hoping this would show you just how much I adore you and want to see you smile.”
She squealed clapping her hands together, lifted the lid on the box and sat back as the diamonds winked at her from the black velvet nest of a Boone and Sons ring box. She looked up at him speechless and he took the box from her, lifted the ring out of the cushion and slid it on her right hand ring finger.
“Oh my God Frank. I can’t believe…it’s so…ohmyGOD!”
He sat back and laughed. “I love that you love it.”
“How could I not? How much…I mean…how many carats is this?”
“Well, it’s about 3 total weight. Add that to the 3 in your ears and the 4 in your wedding set and you have on 10 carats. One carat for each year.” He grinned…proud of himself for doing something he thought was so cool.
She stood up and fell in his lap, kissing him and laughing. “You sweet, sweet man.”
He kissed her back and a few of the other patrons clapped as they both laughed and kissed.
“Um…honey…” he said against her lips, “Folks are staring.”
She stopped, stood and stooped down to pick up her napkin before she demurely returned to her seat with a huge, bashful grin on her face.
“I got you something too. But…well…I don’t know now.”
“Woman…you’d better give me my gift.” He growled.
She pulled a long box out of her purse. “It’s used. I’ve always wanted you to have one…but the prices are ridiculous so I had Mr. Diener look out for one for me.”
She handed the box to him and he lifted out the watch inside. “You bought me a Rolex???”
“It’s used honey.”
“AND??? That means you saved like ten thousand dollars! MY GIRL! WHOOHOOOO! That’s great! I love it! Wow!” He put it on, replacing his old watch with it, flicking his wrist so she could see it. He grabbed her hand and kissed it and she pulled her hand away with tears in her eyes.
“I’m sorry…I mean…I wish we’d had kids by now. I so wish you were a father.”
“Michelle…everything is as it should be. There is a reason for everything and please know…if I couldn’t have a child with you…I would have never wanted to be a father without you as the mother. You’re my wife...my life.”
She closed her eyes and steadied her center. Opened them and smiled a watery smile at her husband. His bald head gleaming, his smile soft, his gaze…steady. Her rock. She took a deep breath and said, “Come on…pay the check so we can get out of these stuffy clothes and into our pj’s.”
He laughed and signaled the waiter.
They paid the bill and stood to leave. He placed her wrap around her shoulders and they walked to the door. He nodded politely as another couple stepped into the restaurant before he could walk out behind his wife keeping his eye on her at all times. He noted as she pulled her wrap around her closer against the early chill of the night as she looked over her shoulder at him. As always, waiting patiently for him. That look in her eyes that told the world she followed his lead always. He stepped out and went to her, pulling her into his arms and kissing her, rubbing her arms.
“You cold baby?”
She looked up at him smiling. “No…it’s just a slight chill.”
He stepped to the left of her so that he was walking along the street like a man who has the protection of his woman at the forefront of his mind. They walked slowly, making small talk. She was laughing softly and reached up to tuck her hair behind her ear. The diamonds on her right hand he’d just given her for their anniversary sparkling in the glow from the street lights. It made him smile. She was so beautiful, he always marveled at the God that made it possible for him to be married to her for 10 years strong now.
They walked across the street at the crosswalk and continued on to get to the parking garage two blocks down.
“So, you really like your watch?”
“What? Of course I do. As my baby sister would say would say…it’s the HotNESS!” they both laughed at the way he rolled his neck emphasizing hot and then ness.
They were still making fun of his sister when he opened her door to their car.
“Say bruh, lemme hold your wallet for you.” A kid of about 16 was standing behind him holding a gun with a hood over his head. Michelle screamed and Frank stepped in front of her hiding her frame with his. She grabbed his arm.
“What the hell?” he yelped, startled like a pit bull who's foot was just stepped on.
“Nobody will get hurt if you just give up the wallet man.” The kid was shaking and looking around nervously.
“Young man, you don’t want to do this. Think about your future.”
“MAN I AIN’T YOUR SON. DON’T BE TRYING THAT COSBY SHIT WITH ME. GIVE ME THE DAMN WALLET!”
He reached behind him to his pant pocket, holding one hand up. “Let my wife get in the car please.”
“Just give me the damn wallet man!”
“LET MY WIFE GET IN THE CAR!” he yelled.
“Frank!” his wife said….
The young man looked at him, looked at the hand on his arm.
“Hurry up! Get in the car!”
“Honey…get in the car. NOW!” And she got in the car.
“Thank you. Here is the wallet.” And he threw it at the young man’s feet.
The young man leaned over to pick it up, keeping his eyes on Frank. Frank watched the gun. The hood of the sweatshirt fell into the young man’s eyes and his arm moved up with the gun and Frank rushed him. Grabbed his arm. Felt the feebleness of it under the big sweatshirt. Positioned his thumb on the inside of his wrist and twisted it, using his bulk to kick the young man’s feet from under him.
The move caused the young man to drop the gun and scream as Frank slammed him against the concrete.
His wife jumped out of the car, “FRANK…don’t hurt him! Please!”
She picked up the gun holding it to her side. The weight of it comfortable and familiar in her hand. Her stance positioned to be ready for the kick of it should she need to fire.
Frank drug the kid up and slammed him into the wall. The fight was out of the kid. He knew he was outmatched and he just gave up.
“WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU KID! YOU PULL A GUN ON ME, ON MY WIFE! I SHOULD KILL YOU!”
The kid didn’t say a word. Frank loosened his grip on him, caught his breath.
“How many charges you got kid?”
The kid said nothing. Frank slammed his head against the concrete wall. The contact sounded like a puff.
“How many charges you got kid?”
Noises came from the stairwell as people approached. Michelle calmly tucked her hand with the gun under her wrap never taking her eyes off her husband.
Frank looked the kid in the eyes and stood up straighter positioning his body so you couldn’t see his hands on the kid. The group of people were going the other way and passed quickly.
“I asked you a question.”
“None. I ain’t never do nothing like this before.” He started crying.
“I’m going to let you go, but if you run, I’m calling the police and with my description you’ll be picked up before the night is up.”
“Frank…” Michelle’s voice trailed off. She stepped closer, to the right of her husband and far enough behind him to get off a shot without hitting him if need be. She watched the kid's hands and his eyes.
“I’m okay honey. He’s just a kid.” He was till looking at the kid. “What’s your story? Drugs?”
“No sir. I was just hungry.”
“You a street kid?”
“Yeah. For a couple of years now.”
“Where your people?”
“I ain’t got no people. Been in a group home cuz they couldn’t find a foster home to keep me. I ain’t never been in no trouble. Don’t really want none. I’m just tired of being hungry.” He looked Frank steady in the eye, the words coming out in bursts.
Frank contemplated this kid silently. His heart was heavy because he believed him. He knew this kid was on the brink. He knew this kid could be saved.
Michelle had walked up behind him to stand at his side. “What’s your name sweetie?” She spoke softly.
“Marcus….ma’am.” he dropped his eyes.
“Well Marcus," she took a deep breath, "we have leftover lasagna at home. You’re welcome to come over for dinner. Please know that if you do anything crazy I will shoot you first and call the police second. You understand?”
Marcus looked up at her then over to Frank who said nothing. His stomach fluttered and he was five years old again waiting for that elusive parental group to come in and say they would love him. “I…” he couldn’t say it past the lump in his throat. He clenched and unclenched his hands and nodded, slumping back against the wall opening and closing his mouth like a fish in the bottom of a boat after being caught.
“Get in the passenger side kid. Michelle…sit in the back.” And he stepped aside to let Marcus pass him. He put his wife in the car, squeezing her hand and got in the driver’s side. “Buckle your seat belt.”
Marcus fumbled with the seat belt while Frank started the car and drove off.
“So…we have dogs, two dogs. You like dogs Marcus?” Frank looked into the rearview mirror at Michelle. She smiled.
“I hope you do because they love kids. They're Boxers and are great with children.” Michelle said, her eyes tearing up. “In fact…you’ll probably be best friends with them before bedtime.”
They continued the light but constant mindless chatter the entire ride, allowing Marcus time with his thoughts. Allowing them time with theirs.
To any onlooker looking into their car, they appeared to be a family. The strong, handsome husband, the beautiful wife with the kind eyes, the son going through his rebellious stage with his head against the window staring out. Except if they looked closely enough…they would have noticed that everyone inside was crying.
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