Surrounded by diamonds, set in platinum


‘Happy birthday Kristen’.

She stared at Mike for a moment, speechless. ‘Oh, Mike, darling. Thank you’.

So he had not forgotten.

‘I think there might be something in the tree’, Mike said.

He had woke her up early to go for a walk in the tree without giving a clue as to whether something special was happening that day and she had struggled to keep her calm and not fuss over it. He made them stop at a tree standing alone in the middle of the woods when he said to her, ‘ There seem to be something carved in the tree’, and it read, ‘Happy birthday Kristen’.

‘I think there might be something in the tree’, Mike said.

‘In the tree?’ Kristen moved closer to it. There was a hollow place at eye-level. She put her hand inside and felt a small package, and pulled it out. It was a gift box. ‘What is this?’

‘Open it’, he said.

Kristen opened it and her eyes widened. In the box was a beautiful emerald ring, surrounded by diamonds, set in platinum. Kristen stared at it, unbelievably. She turned and threw her arms around Mike. ‘This is too generous’.

‘I would give you the moon if you asked for it. Kristen, I’m in love with you’.

She held him close, lost in a euphoria she had never known. And then she said something that she thought she would never, ever say. ‘I’m in love with you too, darling’.

He was beaming. ‘Let’s get married right away’.

‘No’. Her voice was harsh.

Mike was looking at her in surprise. ‘Why?’

‘We can’t’.

‘Kristen, don’t you believe that I am in love with you?’


‘Are you in love with me?’


‘But you don’t want to marry me?’ he was confused.

‘I want to – but I can’t’, she said.

‘I don’t understand. What is it?’

He was studying her. And Kristen knew that the moment she told Mike about the traumatic experience she had had, he would never want to see her again. ‘I could never be a real wife to you’, she said, turning away from him.

‘What do you mean?’

This was the most difficult thing Kristen had ever had to say. ‘Mike, we could never have sex together. When I was eight years old, I was raped’.

She was looking out at the uncaring trees, telling her sordid story to the first man she has ever loved. ‘I’m not interested in sex. I’m disgusted by the idea of it. It frightens me. I’m half a woman. I’m a freak’. She was breathing hard, trying not to cry.

Kristen felted Mike’s hand on hers. ‘I’m so sorry, Kristen. That must have been devastating’.

Kristen was silent.

‘Sex is very important in a marriage’, Mike said.

Kristen nodded, biting her lip. She knew what he was going to say next. ‘Of course’, she started to say. ‘So I understand if you wouldn’t want to –‘.

‘But that’s not what marriage is about. Marriage is about spending your life with someone you love – having someone to talk to, someone to share all the good times and bad times’.

She was listening, stunned, afraid to believe what she was hearing.

‘Sex finally goes away, Kristen, but real love doesn’t. I love you for your heart and your soul. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I can do without the sex’.

Kristen tried to keep her voice steady. ‘No, Mike. I can’t let you’.


‘Because one day you would regret it. You’d fall in love with someone else who could give you what I can’t, and you would leave me and that would break my heart’.

Mike reached out and took Kristen in his arms and held her close. ‘Do you know why I could never leave you? Because you’re the best part of me. We’re getting married’.

Kristen looked into his eyes. ‘Mike, do you realize what you’re getting into?’

Mike smiled and said, ‘I think you might rephrase that’.

Kristen laughed and hugged him. ‘Oh, baby, are you sure?‘

He was beaming. ‘I’m sure. So what do you say?’

She felt the tears on her cheeks. ‘I say yes!’









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