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The first time I heard the song "Love Story" by Taylor Swift, I was sharing an iPod with my beautiful girlfriend in a park. Karissa was singing the lyrics like a pro, and I laughed and kissed her cheek gently. She blushed and switched the device off. "Oh, come on! I like to hear you sing!" I sounded like a four year old.
"I don't like my voice at all! I didn't get rejected from Escapade for nothing."
Escapade. So that's what was bothering her. Escapade was an advanced signing group from our school's choir class. They traveled all over the state of Ohio, singing for football games and car races.
"Honey, you should have made it. Those girls are clones, they all sound alike. You have a great singing voice, and you have character!"
She looked down, unconvinced. I sighed and hugged her close to me. I wanted to make her feel special. Our one-year anniversary as a couple was next week, and I had yet to make reservations at her favorite restaurant and buy her the perfect gift! Our senior year at high school was almost over. I had to make it perfect.
"Anyways," she said, "I should really be getting home. It's getting late. Could you give me a ride?"
"Of course I can." I smiled at her and kissed her gently. She blushed and raced me to my car. I laughed and followed her, hugging her tightly before unlocking it and getting in. I started the car, forgetting how loud I had my music set. We were nearly blown away by my speakers. I quickly turned the volume down, Karissa still covering her ears with her hands.
"Have you music loud enough, Dane?"
"What can I say? I love my rock and roll!" I smiled at her, watching her eyes sparkle. Her irises were the most extravagant shade of green, and they complimented her soft, orange hair very nicely. She was THE single loveliest girl I'd ever met, with the best personality to match. The only thing she was missing was self-confidence, especially in her singing abilities. She had a voice as clear as a bell, and everyone knew it. I had encouraged her to audition for Escapade, and she had finally worked up the courage to do it. When they rejected her, she was in tears. She hadn't talked for a week. I looked over at her, seeing that she was also caught in the memory. "Hey, Rissa?" She raised her head, looking like she just snapped out of a trance.
"Yeah?" I smiled softly at her and reached for her hand.
"I love you." She smiled back and placed her hand in mine.
"I love you too, Dane."
Later that day, after I had dropped her off, I walked into my small apartment and collapsed on the couch, pulling a pillow over my head. My eyes closed, resting for a brief moment before my phone rang. I groaned and pulled it out of my pocket, checking the caller I.D. Bryce Williams, my best friend. I slid the phone open and held it to my ear. "Hello?"
"Hey, man, what's up?" I yawned.
"Nothing much. How about you?"
"Doing alright, man. Hey, those tickets you wanted? For the Swift concert?" I shot up, suddenly totally focused on what he was saying.
"Yeah? What about them?" I could practically hear him grinning through the speakers.
"Master Bryce has done it again!"
"Dude! How did you get them?"
"See, Danielle, you remember her, right? My sister? Anyway, her friend Shawna and her boyfriend were going to go, but Shawna got grounded. So, Danielle asked me if I knew anyone who'd need the tickets, and SHAZAM! There you go!" I laughed.
"Bryce, you are a lifesaver! Thanks so much!"
"No problem, man! So you want me to drop these babies off tomorrow?"
"Sounds like a plan, bro. See you tomorrow!"
"Later!" We both hung up and I nearly danced around my apartment in absolute glee. Taylor Swift was Karissa's favorite singer EVER, and Bryce just landed us tickets to a concert on the day of our anniversary! This was so amazing! I traveled quickly across the room to my desk, searching for my list of things to do for our time together. When I found it, I picked up a marker and checked off "amazing surprise". I sighed and scanned the rest of the list: perfect gift, reservations to the Kopi Garden and getting a clean, fresh outfit to wear. I wrote at the bottom "hotel reservations"; the concert was about three hours from home, and we'd need a place to stay. Her parents knew I'd be capturing her for the night, concert or not, and they also didn't necessarily care. I retreated to the kitchen area and opened a drawer, pulling out a phone book and searching for the Kopi Garden. After setting a reservation there, I opened my laptop and searched for the hotel nearest the concert stadium. Thank god, there was one about five minutes from there, and there were a lot of rooms left. I smiled to myself. This date was going to be absolutely perfect.
Friday afternoon came a lot sooner than I expected. I nervously straightened my shirt, checking my hair in the car mirror. I swallowed my fears and approached her doorstep, ringing the doorbell. An older, haggardly looking woman with wrinkles and curlers pulling up her hair answered. "Hello?" She looked me over and sneered. "What do you want?" I gulped, clearing my throat.
"H-Hello, Mrs. Moritur. I'm here to p-pick up Karissa?" She grunted and turned back inside.
"KARISSA!" she yelled, obviously annoyed that she had to get up for this. I heard a clatter of heels coming down the wooden stairs, and my mouth dropped open as Karissa came into the doorway view. Her emerald green strapless dress was absolutely stunning, as were her not-too-gaunty heels and her beautiful red hair, now curled and styled up. I gaped like an idiot and she giggled softly, her mother tuning away with a snort of disapproval.
"Karissa, you look… absolutely fabulous. Wow, I mean just…"
She smiled and pressed her finger to my lips, then took me by the hand and whispered, "Get me out of here, Romeo." I grinned.
"As you wish, princess." I lead her back to the car, opening the passenger door for her and then returning to my side, jumping in and starting it up. "Are you ready to have fun?" She laughed.
"Anything with you is fun, Dane." She smiled softly. "Anywhere, too." I smiled sheepishly.
"Let's roll! First stop is dinner. How does," I changed my voice to a rich Italian accent, "Kopi's garden sound for the lady, yes?" Her expression lit up immediately.
"Dane, you didn't!"
"Ah, but I did. I knew you loved it." She leaned over and kissed my cheek.
"How on Earth did you remember? I told you that months ago!"
"Same way I always remember, sweetheart," I grinned. "I wrote it down."
After dinner, I surprised her with the concert tickets, which she screamed in delight and tackled me in the car for. We retreated to the hotel afterwords, in a nice, comfy-cozy suite that just completed the day. We fell back on the over-sized bed simultaneously, laughing and smiling at each other. She gave me a look of complete bliss, and I remembered the last part of the day. "Oh! I got you something!" I got up and searched my jacket pocket as she stared at me.
"Dane! How dare you add MORE to this day!" I laughed.
"You won't be saying that in a minute, honey." I found the box and brought it out, sitting next to her on the bed. "Karissa, I love you. I wanted to make this the most special day of your life. And I hope if it wasn't, then this will make it so." I opened the box to a small gold ring, engraved with our names on it. Her hands covered her mouth and there were tears in her eyes.
"Dane, it's… beautiful."
"It's my promise to you that I will be here as long as you need me, no matter what. I don't want you to forget that." She hugged me tight, then pulled back as I slipped the ring on her finger. "I love you, Karissa."
"I love you too, Dane."