“Good morning Valentine.”
Yes, I actually start every morning singing these words.
Valentine’s tags and collar chime as she tries without success to jump on the bed. I roll over and reach down for her. She jumps into my hands and barked.
And we cuddle until Noah returns from his morning run.
“Nip.” I yell. He comes bounding up the stairs and onto the bed in two leaps. He stops in the center of the bed and stares at Valentine as if to say, I can do it and you can’t. They hadn’t warmed up to each other yet. A month ago, they couldn’t even be in the same room with each other. Now, they’d share the bed, as long as I was in it. As soon as I got up, Nip would try and knock Val off. She learned quickly and could hold her own.
I gave Nip some attention before setting them both down and opening my laptop.
I had been working on a series of articles for an online magazine for the not so serious sports fan. Garret, a freelance reporter helped me get the writing gig. Although Noah’s reluctance for me to work with him had calmed, I wasn’t naive. Garret hit on me every chance he got. He couldn’t help it. It was in his DNA.
I skimmed through his latest notes and an alert popped up on my phone.
Robinski’s 11:00 pm Diamond District.
It was an appointment set for today. It wasn’t my appointment. I clicked it open and it was on Noah’s practice/workout schedule. If it was a personal appointment, how did it end up on our shared calendar? I opened the web browser and pulled up Robinski’s. Maybe he was a tailor or an agent or something. As soon as the website came up, a huge shiny princess cut diamond appeared on the screen.
I shut the laptop and looked around.
I opened the laptop and peeked. The sparkly twinkled back at me. I shut the computer off again and crawled out of bed. I jumped into the shower and out in record time. I sent Noah a text.
Callie: I was going to take Nip with me this morning, will you be in the city to pick him up before my 12 pm class.
I stared at the phone and waited for his reply. I could picture him in his gym shorts and tight white t-shirt. His hair damp and sweat glistening off his body. He always gave me warm fuzzies. He’d usually text me a message right back.
Noah: I won’t be in the city today. I have to go to Jersey. Love you. Have a good day.
I blinked and read the message again.
Did he just lie to me?
I hit end. . If he were going to go buy me a ring, he wouldn’t tell me.
Why was he buying me a ring? We’d only been together for a year and a month. Last month, we had a rocky couple of days. As always, Valentine's Day had a way grabbing me by the heart and turning my world upside down. We righted the ship. I refused to let the celebrity wedding of the century break us. Things have been good. We hadn’t even talked about getting married.
I put Nip and Valentine out to do their business. I brought them back in, put Valentine in her crate and grabbed Nip's stuff and headed out.
I didn’t usually bring my dog to school, but I didn’t have classes until this afternoon. I grabbed a cap and pushed my red hair into it and ordered an Uber to take me into the city.
The driver dropped me off in front of the Robinski building. It was a tall old building in the middle of the block. I’d been inside of one of these buildings before. In the Diamond District, they didn’t have storefronts. They had offices. The security was tight. You had to be buzzed in and sometimes escorted by security. You’d be let into one door and they would have to close and lock it and then open the interior door. I didn’t have an appointment, so I found a coffee shop a few doors down across the street and perched myself inside of the covered patio. I had an unobstructed view of the building and the corner closest to the nearest subway stop. I took Uber everywhere, but Noah preferred the subway. He got recognized, but people left him alone.
Nip sat at my feet.
Two coffees and a cherry cheese danish later, I spotted Noah as he turned the corner. He wore dark jeans and a white pull over. He pushed up his sleeves and studied the numbers on the buildings.
When he reached the front door of the Robinski building, he stopped. He looked around.
“Can I get you anything else?” The waitress asked with attitude and a hand on her hip.
“No. I’m good.” I peered out the window again.
“Hey, that’ s Noah Patrick,” she said and pointed. “He is so hot.”
I stared up at her.
Nip perked up at the mention of Noah’s name. He spun around a couple of times before he spotted him.
I stepped on his leash to make sure he didn’t take off.
Nip groaned and let out a series of barks.
I grabbed Nip, but it was too late. I was spotted.
Noah narrowed his eyes and stared.
“Can I get the check?” I asked the waitress.
“Oh my God. He’s coming in this direction,” the waitress straightened her apron and licked her lips.
Noah had crossed the street.
He stopped in front of my table with his hands on his hips.
I looked up at him. I had to shield my eyes from the sun that outlined his face. I expected to see anger. When my eyes focused, the amused smirk on his face confused me.
“You planned this?” I pointed.
“That’s the good thing about falling in love with a nosy journalist. They have to know what's going on. Solve the problem.”
“You knew if I saw that appointment, I’d have to know what it was about.” I shook my head
“Yep.” Noah chuckled.
“What is it about exactly?” I stood up.
“Can I have your autograph?” The waitress screeched her request
I jumped, forgetting she was there. We both turned to her.
Nip barked at her heels.
“Uh, sure,” Noah took the notebook she had in her hands.
He scribbled something quickly and handed it back to her.
She read it and squealed. But she wouldn’t go away.
“Can I have the check please?” I asked.
“It’s right there.” She continued to smile up at Noah.
I pulled cash out of my bag and pressed it into her hand.
“Thank you.” I dismissed her with my tone.
She looked down at her hand like it was a bug, but took the hint and walked away.
“Come on.” Noah held out his hand. “I’ll show you.”
“Ok,” I narrowed my eyes, “I prefer investigative journalist.”
I placed my hand in his, sweaty palm and all.
Is this really happening?
I picked up my bag and Nip. We followed Noah across the street and into the building full of diamonds.
As we walked through the revolving door a tall thick black man with a tailored suit greeted us. He recognized Noah, but not as a fan. Noah had been here before.
“Good to see you again Mr. Patrick.” He shook Noah’s hand.
“Hey James. How are you?” Noah asked. “This is Callie Blake.”
“Hi Ms. Blake. It’s nice to see you.” I smiled and nodded.
I couldn't control the goofy grin on my face.
He smiled back and motioned for us to follow. He stepped in front of the last elevator and turned a key. The doors opened. He reached in and pushed a button and then held the door open.
We stepped inside.
“Have fun.” James said and laughed.
I looked up at Noah. A million questions running in my mind, but I had lost the power to speak.
I picked up Nip and willed him to speak for me.
The elevator took us to the ninth floor. We stepped out. Noah reached for the buzzer. I pulled his arm back.
“Wait.” I stared up at him. “What are we doing?”
“What kind of diamonds?”
“The shiny sparkle kind.” Noah wiggled his eyebrows. “Clear unless you want a colored diamond. That’s why you're here. I wasn’t sure what you wanted, so I thought I’d let you choose.”
“Noah.” I groaned, but he pushed the button and a few seconds later the door popped open. We stepped into a small room and Noah closed the door behind me. The second door popped open and I gasped.
It was like the website had materialized before my eyes. The room was stark white and a large diamond and silver structure shaped like an engagement ring sat in the center and rotated.
“Mr. Noah,” a tan older lady sang out as we entered. She approached Noah and gave him a hug. She was short, and round, but she sparkled. She had diamonds in her ears, around her neck, and on each finger.
“Is this her?” she asked.
“Hi Sherrie. This is Callie.”
Sherrie turned to me. She opened her arms and Nip yapped. She hugged me anyway.
“Isn’t she beautiful. I just love your red hair.” Sherrie touched a strand. “We have you set up right here.”
“I’m sorry.” I held up one finger to stop Ms. Sherrie. I sat Nip down. I grabbed Noah’s hand and pulled him back over toward the door we just came out of.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m trying to propose to you.” His face blank.
He said the word and I couldn’t contemplate it’s meaning. The world rushed by in panic mode. I couldn’t focus. My heart raced. My body shook, but I couldn’t move.
“Callie.” He grabbed my shoulders. “Relax Baby. Breathe for me.”
“I am breathing.”
I bent over at the waist and all the blood rushed to my head. I took a deep breath and stood up. I reached out to steady myself. More people had joined us. Sherry had her phone in her hand about to call for help. Everyone else stared.
“I’m fine.” I held my hand up.
“Here.” Noah nudged me towards a couch in the corner. “Sit down.”
Nip jumped up to check on me. I grabbed him to my chest. He steadied my breathing.
“This was not the reaction I was expecting.” Noah rubbed his forehead.
I looked around. Thankfully the people had dispersed.
“I’m sorry. It was a surprise, that’s all.”
“No. I get it.” He took my hand. “Is this because of LA?”
“No. Not at all.” I squeezed his hand. “It was a surprise. That’s all. I’m good now.”
Noah stared into my eyes. I had gotten a lot better at reading him and he was hurt. I did want him to ask me. He had thought of a clever way to do it. He knew my noisy personality couldn’t resist figuring it out on my own. I wanted to marry him. I wanted to be with him for the rest of my life. I wanted to raise something besides dogs.
“Come on. Let’s go.” Noah stood and reached for my hand. I laced my fingers with his and stood up. He headed for the door. My feet wouldn’t move. My head cleared and like any red-blooded girl, I saw them.
On every surface, big and small, platinum and gold. They called to me. I yanked on Noah's arm.
“Well, since we’re here.” I pulled him over to where Sherrie stood. “It wouldn’t hurt to take a look.” I shrugged my shoulder.
When we stood in front of the table, Sherrie had a few finds sitting on a felt cloth inlay. My eyes grew wide as I took in the detail of each and every one.
“Oh my God, they’re gorgeous.” I slapped my hand over my mouth and giggled.
Noah chuckled and brought my hand to his lips.
I picked up a medium size emerald cut and held it in front of my face.
“I love you,” Noah said.
I winked and proceeded to pick out my engagement ring.