I sat nervously at the kitchen counter, staring at the open ring box in my hand. I wasn't normally very knowledgeable about diamond cuts and styles, but I knew this one by heart. A princess-cut diamond was in the center, hugged by another smaller princess-cut diamond on each side. More princess-cut diamonds were set into the band, all the way around. I had memorized everything about it, hoping that she would like it. I knew she could be very vain about jewelry sometimes, as well as her clothes. I was grateful that I'd allowed Carmen to come with us. She had a style very similar to Susannah's. She had assured me that Susannah would love it. And Catarina also was convinced that Susannah would fall in love with the ring as soon as she saw it. I hoped they were right.
I heard footsteps approaching me, so I quickly closed the box and put it in my pocket. Only a few moments later, Susannah's arms wrapped lightly around my neck. She kissed my cheek. "We're just about to exchange gifts," she told me. "Are you coming?"
I took a deep breath. "In just a moment."
She laughed suddenly, shaking her head. "You know, when you said your parents went all out for holidays, I didn't expect all of this. I mean, Adam and CeeCee are here, plus my entire family. Even Gina's here!"
"That was a stroke of luck, querida." I knew that she would love to share this moment with all of her best friends. I was glad that Gina had been able to make it. It really was a stroke of luck. Her brother had had to leave for a business trip at the last minute, so her plan to visit him had fallen through. She was more than happy to visit her best friend in California for Christmas.
"I know. She was originally planning to visit her brother for Christmas, but something came up. Still, it's pretty amazing that your parents have put together this huge party."
"They do love large family get-togethers. And the more families they can involve, the better."
"Daddy!" Catarina called, running into the room. She glanced at Susannah before saying, in a loud whisper, "*¿Dónde está, papá? ¿Es hora de darle a ella?" She was extremely excited for this proposal. I think she had already begun to think of Susannah as her mother.
My girlfriend frowned, narrowing her eyes at us. She truly did not like it when we started having conversations in Spanish around her. She had always taken French in high school, and hardly knew any Spanish at all. "Are you talking about me, Kitty Cat?"
Catarina giggled. "No. Bye, Soose! I have to tell Daddy a secret," my daughter said, pushing Susannah toward the other room.
Susannah chuckled, shaking her head. "All right, you silly girl. I'm going. Don't get your shirt in a twist."
She left. Catarina turned to me. "Can I give it to her, Daddy? Please?" she begged, clasping her hands in front of her.
"Yes." I pulled the box from my pocket, handing it to her. "Be very careful not to lose it. Susannah would be very sad if that happened."
"I promise," she said, tucking the box into her own pocket. "Let's go, Papa! Come on!" She pulled me into the living room, where everyone was waiting.
I sat beside Susannah on the floor, lacing my fingers through hers. Catarina sat in my lap, smiling widely.
As the gifts were exchanged, I felt myself grow more and more nervous. I was worried that she would say no, though I sincerely hoped not. Susannah shot me a frown once it seemed like all the gifts had been given and opened. She knew that Catarina and I would not have forgotten about her.
Just as she was about to say something, Catarina bounced in my lap. "Soose! Daddy and I have a very special present for you. We picked it out together." She handed the box to Susannah.
Susannah gasped as she opened it. She looked up at me. "Jesse, is this what I think it is?"
I smiled at her. I switched to Spanish, even though I knew she wouldn't be able to understand most of it and would probably get mad at me. It would help with my nerves, though. "*Susannah Simon, te has convertido en el amor de mi vida. Eres una persona maravillosa. Te amo y me respetan, sino que también han llegado a cuidar a mi hija. He visto lo bueno que eres con ella. Eres tan bueno y por tanto de nosotros. ¿Me harías el gran honor de ser mi esposa?"
Her eyes began to water. "I have no idea what you just said, but I'm pretty sure you're proposing to me. So yes. I'll marry you."
I hugged her, careful not to crush Catarina between us. My daughter smiled at my new fiancée. "*Soose, ¿vas a ser mi nueva mama? Papa dice que va a ser, si asi to desea. ¿Quieres? ¿Te vas a casar con mi papa?"
"I don't – sorry, Kitty Cat. I didn't understand."
"She tends to slip into Spanish when she gets extremely excited," I explained. Then I translated.
Susannah smiled at my daughter. "Yes. I'll be your new mommy."
"*Usted será la mejor mama nunca. Te quiero."
"I have got to learn Spanish."
Smiling, I added, "*Usted acaba de hacer el hombre más feliz vivo. Te quiero mucho, Susannah. Estoy deseando pasar el resto de mi vida contigo." I pressed my lips to hers.
Someone hit my arm, interrupting my kiss. "*Hector, ¿por qué no me dijiste que ibas a proponer a ella? ¿Todos menos yo se acerca de esto?" Josefina demanded.
"*Yo no te lo dije ya que tienden a revelar secretos. Era mejor que no lo sabía. Se lo determinado Susannah puede ser. Ella habría obtenido la información de usted. No se puede negar eso."
"*No, no puedo," she huffed. "Yo todavía no creo sea muy justo. ¿Cómo llegaste Catarina guardar silencio al respecto?"
"*Soborno. Yo lo prometí que iba a conseguir un gatito."
My family laughed, causing Susannah's eyes to narrow even further. Josefina widened her own eyes. "*Se soborno a su hija? Jesse, Susannah se froto apagado en usted. Ese suena como algo que ella o yo iba a hacer, sino a ti?"
I felt myeslf blush. "*No podía pensar en otra cosa para evitar que ella decía Susannah. Estaba muy emocionado cuando supo que quería casarse con Susannah. Y ella ha estado pidiendo un gatito por un tiempo. Era la única manera."
Susannah looked at my mother, exasperation stamped across her face. "Isabel, is there any way that you can teach me this language? I'm tired of them slipping into it around me. And I think Josefina's called me a few dirty words before."
"Josefina Maribel!" Mother exclaimed.
"Mama, I – Thanks, Suze. Thanks a lot."
*Where is it, Daddy? Is it time to give it to her yet?
*Susannah Simon, you have become the love of my life. You are such a wonderful person. You love and respect me, but you also have come to care for my daughter. I've seen how good you are to her. You are so good to and for both of us. Would you do me the greatest honor of becoming my wife?
*Soose, are you going to be my new mommy? Daddy says that you will be, if you want to. Do you want to? Are you going to marry my daddy?
*You'll be the best mommy ever. I love you.
*You have just made me the happiest man alive. I love you so much, Susannah. I look forward to spending the rest of my life with you.
*Hector, why didn't you tell me that you were going to propose to her? Did everybody except me know about this?
*I didn't tell you because you tend to reveal secrets. It was better that you didn't know. I know how determined Susannah can be. She would have gotten the information out of you. You can't deny that.
*No, I can't. I still don't think it's very fair. How did you get Catarina to keep quiet about it?
*Bribery. I promised her that I would get her a kitten.
*You bribed your daughter? Jesse, Susannah is rubbing off on you. That sounds like something she or I would do, but you?
*I couldn't think of anything else to keep her from telling Susannah. She was very excited when she found out that I wanted to marry Susannah. And she's been asking for a kitten for a while. It was the only way.