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"Sitting here in my Jeep, looking at the face of the smartest, kindest, cutest boy in the known universe, I had to acknowledge that miraculous events were touching my life, whether I deserved it or not."

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22 – Miracle

My Jeep was a federal disaster area.  Ever since I’d started dating Special Agent Fabulous, I’d been busy having too much fun and ignoring the business of personal responsibility, which included keeping my vehicle looking nice.  Of course, it’s difficult to do anything useful when you’re high all the time.

When I called Ash to check in and inform him about my car-care chore plans for the afternoon, he’d arrived seconds later, reporting for duty.  It made me feel a little embarrassed and guilty.  I hadn’t intended to rope him into some grunt work, I was merely explaining an item on my ‘to do’ list for the day.  But in his presence, even washing and vacuuming out a filthy vehicle had a certain pleasure about it. Perhaps it was the smell of the fabric freshener I was using on the carpet…

“So what would you like for your graduation?” he asked without looking up.  He’d shown up in a sleeveless tee-shirt and nylon shorts, slowing down my progress because I kept looking at him instead of the car I was supposed to be cleaning.

He was on one knee at the front, working methodically to remove a series of stubbornly stuck on road bugs from the bumper, being careful not to scratch the paint in the process.

“My diploma?” I replied, trying to be funny.

He humored me with a laugh.

It was the last week of school and the big day was looming on Saturday.  As seniors, we got half days off until school was out.  I’d driven myself to school that morning because Sam had a dental appointment afterwards, clear up in Cincinnati, which Trevor was taking her to.  When I asked her why there wasn’t a worthy dental professional in Louisville to suit her needs, she explained that Dr. Alex was the regional dentist to the stars, most particularly sports stars.  He was the team dentist for the Cincinnati Reds, extending his practice to Bengals and Cyclones as well.  He also cared for the emergent dental needs of the occasional traveling dignitary or rock star.  Once she’d learned of his special skill and artistry through word of mouth from her sports star brother-in-law, no other provider would do for Miss Sun.  They wouldn’t be back until very late.

Returning to my Jeep in the parking lot when school let out, and taking in the full extent of the dirt and gunk in the bright sunlight, I had hit my limit of tolerance and vowed to make cleaning it up the first priority for my afternoon off.

Ash was on duty and my parents were both at work.  We had finished washing the Jeep in the driveway and vacuuming out several weeks’ worth of debris from the floor and seats.  Now we were back inside the garage, out of the sun.  He was preparing to apply a coat of wax and I was detailing the inside.  I had stepped out to grab some more paper towels from off the counter.

“I mean for a gift.  You’re surprisingly difficult to shop for, you know,” he explained.

“Maybe you should go to a gift shop, then,” I said, trying to tease him and dodge the issue simultaneously.

My real answer would embarrass us both.  I didn’t want anything…but him…and not in a way that I could have at this point.  So there was no point in bringing that up.

“Does that mean you’d like an inspirational plaque of some sort, or a large scented candle?” he shot back with a smile.

“Sure, but only if it’s Ash scented,” I said as I grazed my fingers through his hair while moving past him on my way back to the driver’s seat.

“Seriously, Ellery.  Is there something, anything you’ve had your eye on?  Just a hint would be nice.  You’re the least materialistic girl I’ve ever encountered.”

“Flattery will get you everywhere,” I replied, with my head out the window.

I was as materialistic as the next girl.  I’d just been in a slump.  Then I met him and nothing else mattered.

“It’s true.  It’s very difficult to tell where your fancy lays.  You’re not into jewelry.  You don’t care about expensive hand bags or gadgetry.  In fact, I’ve never seen you buy anything fun for yourself, and believe me, I’ve been watching for that.”

Yes, I would imagine you have.

I wondered at this line of questioning.  He’d sent me one cool gift after another, anonymously, of course.  Those were proof that he knew exactly where my fancies hung out.  Maybe he’d just exhausted his idea base, or thought that I’d grown tired of wonderful surprises.

“Well, there is one thing.”

A thought occurred to me and I started saying it before I realized that I shouldn’t be saying it.  Ash looked up from his toil at the hood of the Jeep in eager expectation.  I tried to backpedal.

“But I’m pretty sure it’s not a good idea…right now.  So never mind.”

I picked up the Windex and started working on the inside of the windshield.  He stood up and came around to the passenger side, opened the door and got in.


I needed to come up with something quickly.

“Let’s hear it,” he encouraged.

“Well, maybe a chocolate diploma would be nice.  But they probably don’t make those.  You could check it out, though,” I said as I squirted the windshield again and started the wipe down for a second time.  I stole a quick glance at him to see if he’d bought the switch-out.

He hadn’t.

“What’s not a good idea?” he asked, ignoring my nonsense.

I took a deep breath and then let out a long sigh.  Then I looked at him.  Those piercing blue-gray eyes trapped mine in a tractor beam.  They were the best part of his face, which made them ultra perfect.  Sometimes I couldn’t get over how beautiful he was.  How in the world did I end up with him?  I had always believed in miracles.  I just hadn’t believed in miracles for myself.  They happened all the time, I was sure, but only to people who deserved it.  Sitting here in my Jeep, though, looking at the face of the smartest, kindest, cutest boy in the known universe, I had to acknowledge that miraculous events were touching my life, whether I deserved it or not.  In fact, Mr. Miraculous was touching my face at that very moment.  I must have taken too long in reflection mode.

“Ellery?” he asked, pulling me back from deep thought.

Though my eyes hadn’t been allowed to leave his, my brain had taken a trip.  When it pulled back into the station I blinked and shook my head.

“What’s not a good idea, Love?” he pressed.

I was going to regret this, but I didn’t dare go for two side stepping attempts, and risk offending him.  I took a deep breath and tried to explain myself.

“When I’m with you, I’m so happy; the happiest I’ve ever been.  It’s like I feel pinched,” I began.

When his eyebrows scrunched together in question I explained, “You know, like, pinch me, I’m dreaming?”

He nodded, waiting for the rest.

“But when we’re apart, sometimes I have these little panic attacks, where I think that maybe you really are just a dream.  After all, I’m the only one that knows about you.  If you disappeared, I’d have no proof you ever existed outside my fantasies.”

There was that jump drive he’d given me, but mentioning it would detract from the case I was trying build.

“I know it’s dangerous, but I’d love it if I could have a picture of you—even if it was really small.  If I could just have something that I can hold and see when I’m missing you, well, that would be really…therapeutic.”

His face was hard to read.  Now he was the one lost in thought.  After an increasingly uncomfortable silence I started to back track.

“It’s not a good idea.  I know.  Just…never mind.  Don’t worry about it.  How about some car wash coupons so you don’t get stuck doing this again?” I suggested, trying to divert him from what was turning into deep distraction.

“The next time you have a panic attack, please call me and I’ll talk you through it, alright?”

He smiled when he said this, but he was being sweet and sincere, not teasing.

I nodded.

“Coupons,” he said flatly.

Then smiling down at me he said, “The woman of my dreams graduates from high school, and I get her some car wash coupons to celebrate that important milestone in her life,” shaking his head he continued, “and she subsequently dumps me within seconds…as she rightly should.”

I laughed.

“You’ll have to get more creative than that if you want me to dump you, Ash.  The truth is, I’m afraid you’re stuck with me; kind of like the bugs on the hood,” I said, nodding to the front of the Jeep.

We both laughed.

“Is that a promise?” he asked.

He was still smiling but there was seriousness in the undercurrent.

“Oh, absolutely.  I promise to complicate your life, and cause you trouble, and make you do my chores with me for as long as you can stand the abuse.  You have my word on that.”

He smiled happily as though I had said something nice.  The truth was that he would have to kill me himself before I’d ever willingly relinquish my hold on my own personal miracle.

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