The small tattoo on her instep comes into view. I smile. Huh. The tattoo. The key to Sarah. I sigh, knowing, understanding that what she needs is permanence. Can I give her that? I think so, because that’s what I need, too. I whisper to her, “Tell me about the tattoo.”
She examines the indelible marks and smiles. “You’ve heard that story many times.”
“Tell me again.”
She tilts her head and looks up at me. “Really?” She claps her hands together, jumps off the bed, and retrieves a photo album from the bookshelf above her desk. Her body is trembling with excitement as she thumbs through it. “Here it is.” She sits cross-legged on the bed and holds the open photo album so we both can see.
“This is Rocky. A Pomeranian cross. Rescued from a shelter. I was only six when we got him.” She looks at me again, her blue eyes blurring with tears.
I massage her shoulders and plant a kiss on the top of her head.
She drags her hand across her eyes. “Sorry. Can’t look at these pictures without getting emotional. He died just before I left home.”
“Yeah. He always followed me around like an apostle and, when he wanted my attention, he planted his front paws on my left foot. Wouldn’t budge until I acknowledged him.” She runs her hand over the page. “When he got sick, I bought an ink pad and made an imprint of those paws. I wanted to keep him with me . . . forever. So I went to a tattoo parlor. Am glad I did.” She dropped her feet over the side of the bed and stared down at the tattoo. “Forever,” she whispered. “When I make a commitment, it’s for keeps, Justin.”
My cue. I reach for my jacket and extract a small, black-velvet box from an inside pocket. I hold it in front of her face and stare into her eyes, now wide with surprise. “I was going to keep this until Christmas, but now seems right.” I open the box. “I don’t have a lot to offer you yet . . . ”
She shakes her head. “Doesn’t matter. I’d live in a garage to be with you. Forever.”
I pull her closer. “Forever sounds good to me, Sarah.”
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