"Time to wake up, " I chimed in my raspy, morning sing-song voice. "I'm old balls and I need a present to celebrate!"
He rolled over onto his back and tried to force his eyes open. I tried not to laugh as I watched him struggle. I knew he wouldn't be coherent for a little while, so I decided to jump in the shower while. I was officially 26 years old. Hard to believe I used to think I'd be married with a few punk-ass kids running around by this age. I was more than grateful that wasn't the case just yet. How could I be responsible for kids when I can't even remember to switch my laundry from the washer to the dryer in an acceptable amount of time?
I squeezed my eyes shut while I washed the shampoo out of my hair and tried to guess what he might have gotten me. His previous gifts--the heart-shaped locket and the charm-bracelet watch--had fallen under the "shiny" category, and I hoped this one did, too. I used to want practical gifts like books or clothes or DVDs, but ever since I'd signed my heart over to Cayden and turned into a girl, I wanted jewelry. But if he's gotten me something shiny, wouldn't he have given it to me before Shanna's wedding? He knew I'd run out of time to buy accessories, so I had to dig around in my jewelry box and find some cheap but shiny earring my dad had brought back from China. I wore the charm bracelet watch and decided to forgo the necklace because I didn't have anything dainty enough to complement the sequined dress.
Maybe he'd gotten me something from one of the cute little shops in Notting Hill I'd fallen in love with during my first visit to London. Or maybe he brought me a lifetime supply of Percy Pigs and crumpets. Despite the lack of shine, I couldn't complain about that. Or maybe, just maybe, he'd hand me an enveloped and inside it would be a note that said, "I got a job offer. I'M MOVING TO DALLAS!" I got over excited just thinking about it and dropped the bottle of body wash, just barely missing my big toe. I shook my head and tried to erase the thought of it. I couldn't get my hopes up about things like that or I'd be disappointed by any other gift, shiny or not.
Cayden was leaning over the sink brushing his teeth when I came out of the shower with my towel wrapped tightly around me. I couldn't help myself but check out his butt in his tight black boxer briefs.
"How's my birthday girl?" he asked with a mouthful of foamy toothpaste.
"She's old but clean!" I answered reaching for my own toothbrush. We stood at the sink watching each other brush our teeth in the mirror. He brushed hard and vigorously, like someone was about to take his toothbrush away and he'd never be able to brush again. While I brushed calmly and steadily, controlling my mouthful of foam much better than he did his. It foamed out the corners of his lips and crept dangerously close to the kung fu grip he had on the brush. We smiled at each other, and then I let my eyes wander the the reflection of his flat stomach and adorable belly button.
He spit first and then I hip checked him to reclaim the sink. I tried not to gag as I brushed the very back of my tongue. I stood up to wipe my mouth, but Cayden planted a big, wet, sloppy, minty kiss on my mouth before I could stop him. I laughed and tried to pull away, but laid it on me.
"I really hope that wasn't my present," I said when he finally let me go.
"Aw, you thought I got you a present?" he asked. "That's cute."
He pushed my bedroom door open and gestured toward the bed. A cute blue and green paisley box sat on the edge of my bed, just waiting for me to tear into it. He forced the card into my hands before I could lift the lid on the box. For a half a second, I hoped to find the "I'M MOVING TO DALLAS" note I'd been waiting for. But I wasn't disappointed when I pulled the card out.
I loved it. I'd finally accepted that aluminum was once spelled with an additional 'i,' but I wasn't going to budge on my alien theory. I couldn't bring myself to pronounce herbs with an H, but he was spot on with the whole amazing girlfriend thing. Ha.
I kissed him and pulled him down on the bed next to me. Then I grabbed for the gift box and looked to him for approval. He nodded and I pulled the top off. My eyes were immediately drawn to a tin box in the left-hand corner. I'd know that box anywhere. It was a Fossil watch box and I had a Fossil watch obsession. I loved almost every single watch in the store. It didn't even matter which watch was inside. I already loved it.
I pried the tin top off and stared down at the watch I'd been drooling over most recently. I'd found myself in the Fossil store more than once during the same mall visit just to try it on and stare at it. It wasn't usually the type of watch I'd go for. The giant face was too masculine, the thin leather straps were too dainty, and the rust-colored coils along the outside were too steampunk. But I was drawn to it. And it was all mine.
"Spot on," I said, stroking the giant face of the watch the way someone might stroke a sleeping baby. Cayden took it out of the box and secured it around my wrist. The skinny straps made my freakishly scrawny wrist look less freakishly scrawny. And the steampunk coils reflected a textured shine. I got my something shiny.
"You're three for three now when it comes to gifts," I said before I kissing him quickly and returning my gaze to my new timepiece.
"You're not done," he said, and handed me the gift box. A rectangular box lay flat against the right side. Could it be something shinier?
I ripped the blue tissue paper off excitedly, but I could tell by the weight of it that it wasn't a necklace. The top of the box said "Issey Miyake."
"Damnit!" I said, slapping my hand against my thigh. "That's the name of it! I was going to get you this cologne but for the life of me, I couldn't remember the name of it!"
Every time we walked past a cologne display, Cayden would stop and make me smell it. For some reason, it never had a tag and the bottle only said "Tester." He always said the name of it and I'd made a mental note to never forgot it so I could buy it for him later. But I could never quite figure out what he was saying. All I knew was that it sounded like Mr. Miyagi.
"This is the women's version of the one I like," he explained. I sprayed it against my wrist and sniffed softly. It smelled sweet and sexy at the same time. I hadn't finished the bottle of perfume he'd given me last Christmas, and I started feeling bad for it, knowing it was about to get replaced and left to collect dust in the cabinet.
"Thank you so much," I said, putting one hand on his cheek and pulling him closer for a kiss. "Once again, you got everything just right."
I pulled him in for a kiss and let it last longer than I should have allowed considering I needed to leave for work, oh, ten minutes earlier.
"Except for one thing," I whispered as soon as our lips parted.
"What's that?" he asked, a look of intrigue and confusion spread across his face.
"There ARE aliens on Mars."