Gary was excited about the date with Clara later that day. He could barely keep from dancing. One would have thought he won a lottery.
But it felt like he had; someone like him who had had girls at his beck and call was not used to rejection. Clara had however proved different and difficult.
She hadn’t exactly said no and even if she had, he wouldn’t have believed her because she had not been able to feign disinterest. She was interested, that was obvious enough but she was one of those girls with self-pride and trying hard to preserve it.
It had taken her weeks to start returning his calls.
Ordinarily, he was able to get a girl to do that within a week. Maybe to other guys, that would have been some major feat but he wasn’t other guys, he was Gary Richards and whatever Gary wanted, he got without delay.
He had tried everything he knew and despite his usual cockiness, he knew when to change tactics if the typical wasn’t effective.
Although she had finally agreed to a first date after badgering her every day since meeting her, he knew he had to make the first date the most memorable date of her life.
He wouldn’t let himself think about the fact that if it wasn’t her birthday, she probably wouldn’t have accepted, far be it from him to let that deter him; he was instead going to use the significance of the day to his advantage.
And every man knew one of the ways to a woman’s heart was showering her with gifts. He knew just what to get her. He had noticed she liked bracelets from the pictures he saw on Facebook when he searched her out. He didn’t get the playboy title from his friends by been unobservant.
All he had to do now was find one that made a statement; something that he could say reminded him of her.
Clara had been unable to keep from smiling all day. It wasn’t just her birthday that made her elated but for the simple fact that everybody around her had been showing her love. She felt deeply appreciated and treasured and she wasn’t going to let anything spoil this special day.
She had resolved, while preparing for work that morning that she was going to let all offenses slide and forgive all errs against her. It was important she enjoyed her day to the fullest and there was no way one could be happy if they let anything get to them.
It was a good thing Gary was taking her out later in the day. She couldn’t wait to see what he had planned for her. Knowing him, she knew she was in for a surprising treat. He always came up with something new and she was done trying to predict his plans.
His ingenuity never ceased to amaze her, which was one of the things that endeared him to her. She had yet to say yes to him but it was obvious it was only a matter of time. She just needed to take her time so as not to come off as cheap.
She was also delaying because she knew he wasn’t the best choice for her. But how could someone be so wrong for you and also be everything you ever wanted?
Simply put, he had no respect for morality, not to talk of spirituality. He lived life as he pleased which was not always right but that shouldn’t be a bother if he would make her as happy as he seemed to do now. He was the definition of fun and there was never a dull moment with him.
Life was too stressful to spend it with a boring person anyway.
She was still musing over Gary when she heard a knock on her door and called the person in.
“Hi, happy birthday sweetie,” Greg said from the door before helping himself to a seat.
She smiled at him and said, “thank you.”
Greg was her lovely friend and he was always there for her. She was glad to see him and even more so that he remembered her birthday.
“I’m surprise you remembered,” she said factually.
He gave her a strange look in reply and said, “You’re kidding me, right? You actually thought I would forget your birthday. Sorry to disappoint you, that would never happen.”
“That’s good to hear,” she answered with a smile and that was when she noticed he was stretching a small box towards her.
“This is a little token from me to you for your birthday. Happy birthday once again dear.”
Her eyes registered surprise as she took the finely decorated box, eager to see what it contained. She lifted the lid and saw a pair of earrings with a matching necklace seated on a fold of tissue. She stared at them with clouded eyes, thinking of how sweet a gesture it was and she told him so.
He waved her gratitude away with the flip of his hands, stood up and said, “Don’t mention it, what are friends for? And before you get emotional and embarrass the life out of me, let me run. Although I do have some documents needing attention … what do you say? Interested in dinner to celebrate?” she looked at him regretfully and told him she had plans.
He paused at that on his way to the door as if to say more but he smiled cheerfully and told her to have fun.
Later that night, as Gary drove her home after dinner, Clara fumed silently beside him. She could not believe that was all he had planned for her birthday.
A private dinner in a restaurant, no matter that it was the restaurant in a five star hotel, was not enough and definitely not how she had expected to spend her birthday.
Maybe she was been unreasonable and should just appreciate the effort and not to mention most girls would die to be in her position but she couldn’t help the feeling of disappointment because she had anticipated more.
However, she tried not to make it obvious to him that she wasn’t in the best of moods even though she practically gave him monosyllabic answers to all he was saying.
She was relieved when he drove into her street and parked the car in front of the house. She couldn’t wait to go to sleep and forget about the day.
When he made no move to unlock the door, she turned to him questioningly.
He smiled and said, “Do you know how you look when you are upset and trying to act otherwise?”
She glared at him in reply, and then he laughed and muttered, “Amazing, that’s how. You always look beautiful Clara; I’m at a loss how you do it.”
Her lips curved into a reluctant smile, “I’m not upset. I’m just tired but I really had a great day today. I’m sorry I am acting surly but thank you … really,” she added for emphasis.
He continued to stare at her for a few more minutes before mouthing a quiet “okay”.
At that, he reached to the back of the car and pulled a wrapped stuffed animal. It was a white giant bear, with the words ‘Happy birthday to someone I love” inscribed on a little pink heart sewn in front of it.
She examined it with clouded eyes, completely lost for words. How could he have known she loved stuffed animals?
She lifted her eyes and saw him watching her closely. She finally found the words she was searching for, “thank you very much. This is the best gift ever.”
“Well, you are welcome but that’s just the appetizer, not the real gift. Turn the bear over and open the zip behind it.” She did as he said and noticed two boxes inside it. She pulled out the bigger of the two, opened the lid while Gary watched on patiently.
She gasped in pleasant shock as she saw two ‘his and hers wristwatches from Swatch inside the box.
While she continued to stare in awe, he reached out to fasten the female watch on her wrist and then clasped the other on his own wrist. “Now, we can say we own the same thing,” he said sheepishly.
Before she could get over herself and utter anything, he said, “Bring out the other box too. I can’t wait for you to see what’s in it.”
Wordlessly, Clara obeyed and opened the lid eagerly this time. She was not prepared for what beheld her. The box contained the most beautiful silver bracelet she had ever seen. “I had it designed specially for you”, he said from beside her.
She felt her heart literally melt away at that. Bracelets were her joy, she loved them and could not do without them but nothing gave her greater joy at that moment than knowing that he took the pains to specially design it for her.
She kept on studying it and noticed it also had an inscription; she turned it around so she could see it clearly. Emboldened on a part of the bracelet were the words, “Clara, my heartbeat”.
Immediately she read it, she burst into tears and hugged him tightly, “thank you very much, thank you so much, thank you for the best birthday ever. Everything you gave me is beautiful. I’m so grateful.”
They stayed locked together for some seconds till Gary pulled away and wiped her tears with his thumb. He looked into her eyes and Clara detected something move in them just before he drew his lips closer to her. He paused on the way, giving her the chance to stop him but her eyes remained fixated on him.
Gary took that as an encouragement and covered the distance between them. Clara let herself be carried into his world.
Ordinarily, in spite of his rare guts, he still wouldn’t have tried kissing her but he must have sensed her loosening up. She knew she could have stopped him if she wanted to but she felt he had earned it.
It wasn’t just the gift that got to her but the thought he had put into getting her the gift, he had taken his time to make sure she had a great day.
And a guy who went to all these trouble for her should be allowed some excesses.
No man had ever gone to such great lengths for her before. This was really one of a kind and indeed, the best birthday she had ever celebrated.
There was no argument; he certainly deserved sealing the day with a kiss.