Holding the only photo I have of McKenna in her uniform, I think back to the day I left her. I remember it, like it was yesterday. And I can honestly say that it was the worst day of my life.
We had made love the night before, like there was no tomorrow. And that was how I looked at it. I really think I started questioning my decision that first day. I packed some clothes, drove to my parents, explained what I was doing and took off.
I stayed away for three weeks, three long weeks in which I wondered constantly if I had done the right thing. One minute I'd be ready to go home and beg her to take me back. I was uncertain if she would, you see, for I knew I'd hurt her terribly. The next minute, I'd swear I couldn't go back to living in fear of her dying.
The day I finally decided I couldn't hide any longer and returned to my parent's house, they told me she had been coming by every day to see if I had come home yet. So I knew I'd have to face her sooner or later.
I stood at the window in the living room, staring at her sitting in her car, staring at the house. She sat there so long, I begin to wonder if she would change her mind and drive away. My heart wanted so badly to see her; my head cautioned against that.
I remember when we first met. I was so angry with that kid for trying to steal from the store that I didn't think about anything but trying to stop him. It wasn't until McKenna was patiently explaining to me why it was dangerous to interfere with a criminal, that I realized how stunning she was.
She was tall for a woman; six foot one, I found out later. Dark hair pulled back in a braid and smoky blue-gray eyes. I felt my heart skip a beat when I looked into those eyes.
I was determined not to give in when she asked me out. You see I'd been burned not long ago. My girlfriend of six months decided she wanted to date other people. Well, she had been dating others all along, but I'd just found out about it. So, I really didn't want to get involved with someone right then. I was still recovering.
She was so persistent though. She'd come by the store when she was patrolling, just to check on things, she'd say. Sometimes she would come by after her shift and ask me to dinner or a movie or to go for a walk in the park. She'd hold up a bread sack full of broken up pieces of bread and say, "We can just sit by the lake and feed the ducks, it doesn't have to be a date." Then she'd smile with that crooked little grin she has. I surprised myself by holding out for as long as I did.
It was that grin that I first fell in love with. Then her eyes, so open and honest, captured me. I turned her down a couple of more times, but she never gave up and I finally gave in. And I was so glad I did. I'd never trade the time we had together for anything in the world. Who ever said it was better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all, should have gone on to explain how damn hard the aftermath of the "lost" part is.
Her car door closing brought me around from my reminiscing and I watch her nervously walking towards the front door.
I remember wondering what she had to be nervous about.
I could have told my parents to send her away, but I felt I owed her a face-to-face explanation, but before I could say a word, it was her explaining what she had done since I'd left her.
I couldn't believe that she had changed her life for me, for us. Of course, my first thought was that she would regret it down the road. I guess I was still a little insecure. And that was my dilemma: should I, could I, trust that our love was stronger than my insecurity and her possible regrets.
Well that was several years ago and today is my tenth anniversary and I can definitely say that, yes, yes I can trust our love and we are celebrating with our friends and family.
McKenna has never regretted leaving the force; she loves working at the museum. In fact, they made her head of security after working there only three years. She's also a security consultant for the art gallery that opened two years ago.
She has even taken a few anthropology classes at the local university, after the exhibits at the museum tweaked her curiosity. And we've been on a few of the digs that the museum sponsored. McKenna was like a kid in a candy store. Her eyes would shine and sparkle every morning, as she climbed down into the pit to help with the excavation. Or as I called it, playing in the dirt. I love watching her when she's like that.
What am I doing now? Well, my parents retired and sold the shop a few years back. I have a website, and people can buy my designs through the site or commission a design. And I do pretty well.
"What are you doing in here, darlin'?" McKenna asked as she stuck her head in our bedroom.
I placed the photo back on the dresser and smiled at the somewhat older live version. "Reminiscing." I answered, leaning up to place a kiss on her lips. Taking her hand, I led her from the room and to our guests.
Sometimes there is happily ever after.