14 Days of Valentines

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Maria rolled up into her driveway next to a big blue pickup truck, that looked vaguely familiar. A moment later Gabriel poured his big muscular body out of the cab, slamming the door, he came towards her. Coming up to her, he stared at her a moment, gaging her mood perhaps, then leaned over and gave her a quick peck on the forehead. No more than a quick peck, really.

Gabriel reached for the keys in her hand, saying nothing, he lifted the tailgate, gathered nearly all Maria boxes and gift bags and headed for her back door.

Just about behind the house Gabe stopped and glanced at her. Grinning sheepishly at her confusion, “Querida, te quiero, will you shut the car doors and come inside?” And typical of Gabriel, he turned and continued to the back door.

By the time Maria had followed behind him, Gabe had her door opened and boxes and bags deposited on her kitchen table. He threw her keys down on the table, took her pocketbook from her and added it to the pile, lifted her coat off her shoulders and draped it over the back on one of her kitchen chairs. He shucked off his own slicker and just dropped it on the floor.

Gabriel took her hand and led her into the livingroom and put his Stetson on the hat rack that had been Maria’s 12th Valentine (from him, obviously). What had the card read? “A place to hang my hat at the end of a long day.” His cowboy hat, that just looked so much a part of Gabe that Maria had hardly noticed it at all.

He took her in his arms and held her very close as he had promised to do. Resting his head against her curly black hair, so she could feel his warmth and the tangy, masculine smell of him, strong and healthy. So close Maria could feel his heart beating against her chest.

Gabe whispered in her ear and poured his heart out to her,

“I have loved you, te quiero, Querida from almost the first moment that I saw you in the school hallway. The day I came to take the job for the school district.

“I rode the rodeo for ten years. I was very good at the bronc riding. Very, very good, but also very lonely. Many women to take to my bed, but not one to take to my heart. And none of the them to take me into their heart.

“When I came off the circuit, I wanted that very special woman, but the woman my heart chose, she was married to another man. My heart ached, but I waited. I watched. I saw this husband of yours. He neglected you and he took you for granted. And I saw him in town, many times with other women. I knew that soon you would be abandoned.

“I made sure I was there for you. I knew you would not be all alone. I would be sure you will never be alone.

Maria interrupted him. Tears silently rolled over her checks, ” I am very afraid to trust you.”

“Do not be afraid, Querida. I have waited a long time to hold you in my arms. To make love to you as I have promised. To make you te esposa, te amo. To make you babies of your own, to love and hold, if you wish.”

Maria’s mind was a few seconds behind, trying to catch up. She translated “te esposa” my wife? She raised her head and looked at him, “I can’t be your wife.”

“Oh, Querida, he smiled,” no, not today. Not next month, either, I think. But soon.. Soon enough I will make you my wife.

“Querida? Do you still have the key that I gave to you?” Maria raised her right arm and there was his gold key on the wrist band that she had attached it to.

“See, Querida. I told you it was the key to my heart. But truly it is the key to my soul that I gave you. To hold forever.”

Maria looked him in the eye and asked him a single question, that had been nagging at her day and night, “T”?

“Si,” he said grinning, “Gabriel Jesus Torres.”

And he kissed with all the lust, passion and love he processed for her.

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