The story is mine and the characters are mine. Please do not use them without my permission.

8: Wingman

Kasia chuckled to herself as she sat down at the table, sounding a little hysterical even to her own ears. Probably to yours, too, if you had ears, huh, table? How was it still standing? It was almost thirty years old. She was happy it was still standing. Maybe one day my kids will have the chance to build models on you or at least a puzzle and you can get them through hard times, too. She grabbed one of her older models, one Daddy liked to keep on the table as decoration. There was a new one next to it. Her father made his own. She smiled. Maybe even had my kids do models or puzzles on you with their granddad.

The concept of having kids was starting to feel real to her and she knew that was thanks to Dalia. Dalia was with her on the idea of having a family. They looked forward to parenting together. Sometimes, they went on dates and laughed over how they should do it again with a kid. "Where are we gonna get a kid? We're gonna have to steal one!" Dalia liked to joke. Kasia smiled, thinking about it.

"Hey, Munchkin," Daddy said as he sat down with her. He slid a grilled cheese sandwich in front of her with a bottle of Gatorade. As always, it was made to perfection, as she liked her sandwich lightly toasted with cheese visibly oozing out of the side.

"Thanks, Daddy." She took her hand out of her pocket. She picked up her sandwich and bit it. So good. She could not wait to do this with a child of her own. "So…"

"What's up?" he asked.

She spun her unopened Gatorade bottle. "I may have made an important purchase." At the mention of that, her stomach flipped. She resisted the urge to shove her hand in her pocket and spun the bottle again.

"How important?"

She grimaced. She did not want to say it, but she also wanted to shout it from the mountains. "Diamond ring important."

He groaned and glared at her. "We were supposed to go together!"

She held her hands up in surrender. It had been such an important thing that she wanted her father by her side, but things happened. "I know, but I saw the perfect ring."

"Show me! Show me! Show me!" He grinned and seemed to forget his food. He giggled and bounced in his chair, very much like a giddy little kid.

She could not help laughing right with him and forgot about her sandwich for the moment. She brushed her hands off on her pants, needing them to be as clean as possible, and then went into her pocket. She pulled out the jewelry box. She popped it open and passed it to Daddy.

He gasped. "Wow. That is nice. When did you get this?"

"Yesterday. I had to go out and inspect a building. I walked by a jewelry store and it was in the window. I stared at it for about five minutes. The guy in the store thought I was casing the place." She laughed, even though it was not entirely a joke. Thankfully, another guy in the store was wonderful, friendly, and gushed right along with her when she saw it was for her girlfriend.

"This is beautiful. Wow, kid. I'm proud of you." He gave her a watery smile, eyes glistening with unshed tears.

She still felt bad. It was supposed to be their moment, together. He had been looking forward to helping her find a ring and then she went and did this. "Really? I know we were supposed to go together and pick something…" She had asked him for help when she had this insane idea. She had feared she would screw it up on her own or have a breakdown. He had been hyped to go with her, still her biggest cheerleader.

He touched her arm. "Calm down. You did good on your own. This ring is beautiful. How are you going to do it?"

She blew out a breath and ran her hands through her thin, long braids. "No idea. I don't know if I should go for romantic or sentimental. She loves both." And loved seeing Dalia's face light up for either of those.

"Well, sentimental often is romantic and sweet. What's the plan?"

"The sentimental plan is to cook her dinner here. She really loves when I cook for her and I realized I wanted to marry her eventually when I was cooking for her."

"Kay, do that." He pointed to her.

"You didn't even hear the other idea."

He scoffed. "It's not going to be that good. Dalia values sentiment and good memories, not expensive dinners and a possible hotel stay."

"How'd you know I'd do a hotel?" She was ready to splurge on the best restaurant and hotel for her proposal. She wanted Dalia to have the best of everything because Dalia made her feel like she was the best. Dalia was really the best.

He shrugged. "Because that's what I'd do. I bet you have a horse drawn carriage or a walk through the park on that list."

She shook her head. "We are super basic." True romantics would be able to do so much better than a restaurant, carriage ride, and a hotel. Hell, better than a meal point blank, but it was little things that made her happy.

He laughed. "We just like simple stuff. Good thing our ladies like us simple, too."

"That does sound like us." She was not ashamed of that. They had just learned to appreciate life without all of the glitz and glamor. They knew all too well how some voids in life could be filled with little things like good people, good talks, and good food. "So, maybe dinner here and then a walk in the park."

He arched an eyebrow. "Where will you propose?"

"I dunno." She blew out a breath. This was harder than picking out the ring. "Definitely can't do it in the park. She'd tackle me to the ground for embarrassing her, might even make her say no." Dalia embarrassed way too easily in public for her to do anything so big in front of an audience.

"Oh, she would definitely say no if you put her on the spot like that."

"She'd also punch me in the stomach." It would not hurt, but it would be to remind her to never do things like that again. She would be in trouble until they were safely behind closed doors and no one was around, if she was lucky.

He clapped his hands twice as he laughed at that, even though he knew she would punch Dalia right in the stomach. "She wouldn't be wrong to do so. Besides, you like it."

Kasia sucked her teeth. It was not so much that she liked being punched. Again, it did not hurt, but Dalia always felt guilty about it and would baby Kasia for a few hours. It was nice to be pampered.

"Okay." He clapped his hands together again. "Let's work out a game plan that allows you to propose here and not get punched in the stomach or told no. I like Dalia too much for you to get this far and drop the ball."

She smiled and nodded. "What do you think I should do?" She leaned in close, not wanting to miss the smallest detail of his idea. This had to make up for buying the ring without him.

He scratched his smooth chin for a moment. "You could have the apartment. We'll move the table away from the wall to give you a little more space and clean it off except for a couple of your models."

She brightened, throwing her shoulders back. "Oh, yeah! She loves the models. And maybe some candles."

"Yup. What're you going to make?"

She tapped her chin. "I don't know. There are a lot of options." There were so many significant foods in their life, so many meals Dalia loved, and so many different times Kasia made something special.

He punched his fist into his palm. "Maybe we should come up with a theme."

"That might make things easier." It sounded like it could end up being fun, too. Both fun making it and fun presenting it to Dalia, who would love it.

"We'll come up with something awesome." He spoke with enough confidence that she had no choice but to believe him. So, over grilled cheese and Gatorade, they came up with a plan.

-8-8-8-8-

Kasia's stomach was in her feet as she waited for Dalia to arrive. She hated not going to pick Dalia up, but she needed to watch the food. She wanted to make sure everything was fresh and hot for Dalia. Daddy had offered to get Dalia, but that felt like too many moving parts. Instead, the simple thing, she cooked and Dalia drove. It should be fine, but the way her stomach flipped, she was not so sure. I should've picked her up. I want her to know she's special, so I should've made time to pick her up.

"Calm down. This will be fine. It'll be fine," she said as she set the table. "It'll be cool. You're here for me, table. You got me, right?" The table was silent, which was fine. She would rather that than it creaking and moaning, reminding them how old the poor thing was.

There was a knock at the door and it was showtime. She took a breath and went to the door, staring at it for more time than she should have. Her stomach twisted again, just to remind her how horribly wrong this whole thing could go. Oh, wait, grab the flowers! She rushed over to the couch and picked up the dozen rainbow roses she purchased for the occasion. She brushed imaginary lint on her black suit jacket before she opened the door. Dalia stood there, pretty in her long, white gown. Kasia could not help the grin.

"You're so beautiful," Kasia said.

Dalia smiled. "Thanks. I felt a little ridiculous walking up the stairs in it, but the elevator's still broken, I'm afraid. Anyway, you look good, too. Is that a work suit?"

Kasia groaned. "You're going to tease me now?"

"Always." Dalia kissed her cheek with perfect, deep maroon lips.

That was true. It was one of the things Kasia liked about Dalia. Dalia managed to always make her teasing loving and she always noticed things through her teasing, like the suit. She thought Kasia looked good in it, then buried that with the teasing.

Kasia grinned. "I got you some flowers." She held up the bouquet and felt like such an idiot. That came off so robotic! I gotta sit down. We gotta get to the table. She'll see the food and I'll be redeemed.

Dalia's breath hitched as she accepted the bouquet. "Oh, my god, Kay, they're beautiful. Thank you so much." She cradled the flowers to her chest as if she was holding a baby. "It's like when you brought me a different color rose on every date."

Kasia squared her shoulders as her blood finally felt safe to flow through her body. "That's what I was going for."

"Well, nailed it. This is so awesome. They're so pretty." Dalia put them to her nose and inhaled. Her eyes sparkled and Kasia just wanted to grab into a hug and never let her go.

"Come in. Sit down." Kasia motioned to the table.

"Aw, you lit candles for me and didn't burn the place to the ground while you waited," Dalia said with a smile as she stepped over to the table.

"No, that's more your thing." Kasia pulled her chair out.

Dalia smiled at her and sat down. "Now, who's being mean and teasing?"

"I gotta do what I can to keep up with you." Kasia took the flowers from her and placed them on the edge of the table, but the table was small, so they were close enough for Dalia to take back if she wanted them. "I cooked something special for you, too."

Dali's face lit up and the candlelight flicking across her beautiful visage made her angelic. "You are so sweet. How did I get so lucky?"

Kasia scoffed. "That's my line. All you had to do was put up with someone who is weirdly close to her father."

Dalia frowned. "Don't say that. Your relationship with your father is beautiful."

"Thank you for saying so. I hope you like this." She kissed Dalia's cheek.

"I'm sure I will. I'm already all giddy and excited from the flowers and candles."

Kasia smiled and went back to the kitchen to grab their food. She plated everything, making sure Dalia's plate was perfect. She carried them out to find Dalia playing with the model she left on the table. It was one Dalia purchased for her back when she first found out Kasia was "a nerd." Kasia smiled at the sight.

"Here you go." Kasia put the plate down in front of Dalia.

"This looks great," Dalia said.

"Made it special."

Dalia gasped and her eyes went wide with warmth. "First meal you ever made me." It was creamy chicken pasta with spinach and tomatoes. She would never forget how Dalia's face lit up the first time she tried it.

Kasia's heart thumped, just like the first time when Dalia ate the meal with her. "You remember."

Dalia tilted her head and regarded Kasia as if she had lost her mind. "Of course I remember. You made me feel special, even if it was a little burnt."

Kasia laughed. "It was not!" She put her plate down.

"And too salty."

"Stop!"

"I think you dropped a used band-aid in it."

"You are literally the worst."

"And you love me for it." Dalia blew her a kiss.

"That is quite true. Let me get the wine." Kasia grabbed the bottle from the counter and poured them two glasses of wine. She put the bottle down and eased into her seat. She smiled at Dalia and tried to get her insides to stop shaking. Dalia smiling back should have helped, but it made everything jumpier.

"So, what's the occasion?" Dalia asked as she moved the model to the side.

"Why does there have to be an occasion?"

Dalia smiled in that way that let Kasia know she was being called "cute" in Dalia's head. "Because you made a special dinner, bought special flowers, and we're sitting at your table-sibling."

Kasia groaned. "Why did I tell you that?"

"Because you trust me, like a nerd."

Kasia curled her lip. "I hate that your sister taught you to show affection this way." The pair teased each other relentlessly and did the same to her. She knew it was loving, but it took a lot to get used to it.

Dalia shook her head. "Nope. You already said you love me for it."

Kasia rolled her eyes. "I'm never telling you anything ever again."

"That's not true. You love me." Dalia blew her another kiss. "But, what is the reason behind all of this? We could have done this at home." They lived together in an apartment in between her father's place and Dalia's sister's place. They could and did pop up at any time in either spot.

"I needed a special setting for this," Kasia replied. The place she made the first meal she ever made for Dalia was special enough, but it was also where she figured out she wanted to marry Dalia. It was enough to make her swoon.

Dalia ate a forkful of her food and did a little happy dance in her seat from it, which was what she did every time she had Kasia's chicken pasta. "And why is that?"

"You'll see, but be aware I picked this venue because I realized I love you here."

Dalia gasped and dropped her fork on her plate. She was so dramatic sometimes. "What? When?"

"The day you sat down with Raven when we didn't know she and Daddy were here."

Dalia blinked a couple of times. They had sat down with Raven and her father often now. It was so common, it probably did not register to Dalia anymore. She might not remember a time when it was not normal for them to do so.

"Is that when your dad had food poisoning?" Dalia asked.

"Yeah. I didn't think you'd remember."

"It definitely got muddled because we spend a lot of time with them, but your dad's food poisoning helps it stand out." Dalia's copper forehead wrinkled. "That's when you fell in love with me?"

"Why do you sound so incredulous?"

"Because I did some really awesome stuff before that. I was at my best many times with you way before that. Why was that the moment?"

Kasia smiled. "Because that's when I figured out you got me and you'd put up with my crazy life."

Dalia shook her head. "I really wish you didn't think your rather boring life was crazy or there was something wrong with your relationship with your dad. I wish my dad was half the guy your dad was. Hell, a quarter of the guy even. In fact, can I just take one of his legs for my father? His bad knee?"

Kasia could not help the chuckle. "I think he needs his leg, bad knee and all. I honestly didn't think my relationship with my dad was weird until women started treating it as such." Growing up, none of her friends made a big deal about it, even in high school. They all seemed to think her dad was cool, but then again, it might have been the basketball thing. That mattered less in adulthood to people since neither of them ever played pro and they did not play at all anymore.

Dalia pick up her fork to eat some more. "Yeah, well, people also act like you being a lesbian is weird and you don't take that to heart."

Kasia's mouth fell open. "You are so my better half. I never thought of that."

Dalia laughed. "I've seen your big brain lose track of simple things. I'm always happy to point them out to you. Now, my love, what does all of that have to do with this?"

"Well, it actually has to do with you being my better half. I wanted to do this where I figured out I love you."

Dalia took a deep breath as her eyes went wide. "Do what?"

Kasia squared her shoulders and stood up. "I thought we'd eat before I did this, but this seems like a good time to do it." She stepped close to Dalia and bent down on one knee. It would be hell to get back up.

Dalia's eyes glistened with unshed tears. "Kay, no…" She put both hands over her mouth.

With a smile, Kasia nodded. "Oh, yes." She held the ring up. "Dalia, I love you and I love that you fit in my world so much that it doesn't seem crazy to you. It would be my honor to spend the rest of our lives together. I would love to cook for you whenever the urge hits either of us. I would love to cuddle you, especially through your weird nightmares—"

"Hey! You can't make fun of me. That's my dysfunction."

Kasia laughed. "I know and I will hold you tight through every single one of them. Kiss you until you can rest easy again or binge watch any show you want when you can't. I'll take all your loving teasing with soft complaints, but a loving heart. So, will you marry me, anyway?"

Dalia sniffled as a stray tear rolled down her eye. "How come you don't realize you're too good for me?"

Kasia scoffed. "You're being ridiculous. You made me give dating another try. You were too amazing for me to pass by. Accepting my dad and my living situation was just the icing on the cake. I want to spend my life showing you how awesome you really are. You're the best."

Dalia laughed. "I better say yes before someone else comes and scoops you up."

"I don't think you're in danger of that, but I will accept your yes."

Dalia leaned in, kissing her soundly on the lips, as if laying claim to Kasia. Kasia kissed back, hoping to return that energy. This was all she could ever want. She needed to show that to Dalia. As they pulled away, Kasia took Dalia's left hand into hers and slid the ring onto her finger. Dalia let out a loud sob. Kasia locked eyes with her.

"You okay?" Kasia asked.

"So okay." Dalia took a deep breath and laughed, but it sounded like sobbing. "Hold me!"

Kasia nodded and groaned as she climbed to her feet. Damn it, knees, you're too young for this to be happening! She collected Dalia in her arms and pressed Dalia to her chest, holding Dalia the way she liked with just enough pressure for some strain. Kasia called Dalia a cuddler, but Dalia described herself as touch starved, coming from a household that barely shook hands, so hugging was definitely off the table. Kasia had no problem with giving her all of the touches she desired, especially if it made her feel safe.

"Can't believe you put up with me…" Dalia sniffed.

Kasia kissed the top of her head. "I never look at it like that. You're so amazing and I'm gonna marry you."

Dalia wrapped her arms around Kasia's waist. "Hell, yeah, I'm gonna marry you. You gave me the ring. You can't take it back."

"I had no plans to take it back. I love you."

Dalia looked up at her and Kasia went in for another kiss. This one was soft, reaffirming their quiet affections for each other. Dalia gave her a squeeze and tickled the small of her back. She giggled against Dalia's lips.

"Why are you being so silly?" Kasia asked.

"Because I'm so happy." Dalia caressed her back and sides. "I didn't realize I'd fall so hard for you, but here I am, hopelessly in love with you. You're so sweet and everything I want in a partner."

"You sound like you're about to propose."

Dalia laughed. "Unfortunately, the only ring I have will never leave my finger."

"That sounds very fortunate to me."

Dalia smiled at her. "Go sit down and let's eat before it gets cold."

Kasia nodded, as that was a good plan. She kissed the top of Dalia's head again and then sat back down. She picked up her fork and ate, but watched Dalia, who mostly stared at her ring and twisted it on her finger. Kasia smiled at the sight. Dalia was pleased with the ring and her decision.

"I was going to propose to you," Dalia said out of the blue.

Kasia gasped and choked on her food. Coughing, she put a napkin to her mouth. Dalia rushed over to her and put her arms up for her and then held a napkin to her mouth for her. Something came up and she spit it out. Dalia rushed off to throw the napkin out while Kasia took a drink of wine to calm down. Crisis averted by the time Dalia sat back down.

"You okay?" Dalia asked.

Kasia took a deep breath. "Fine. You said you were going to propose?" She could not quite believe it. Even though Dalia said yes, she could not see herself as being worthy of Dalia proposing to her.

"I was. I mean, you think your thing with your dad is crazy, do you know how many women leave me over my nightmares? They can't deal with me wanting to be under them at random times. No one ever wants to go to a family function with me because they know I'll stick close to them, like glued to their side to help me get through it. You always make me feel loved and safe when you just accept me. You hold me so tight with my nightmares and help chase them away. You'd wear me as a backpack at a family gathering if I asked you to. And, you can cook your ass off."

Kasia smiled. "Your nightmares, even if they sound silly, are a serious thing. I don't hold them against you." Sometimes the nightmares were ridiculous things, or Dalia could not even remember them, but her mind and body were still in a panic and she just needed someone to hold her until reality set in. Kasia had no problem with that and did not understand why it would bother anyone. Okay, yes, sometimes they happened in the middle of the night and it took Dalia a while to go back to sleep, if she went back to sleep at all, but it was not like she was being purposely distracting.

"I know and that's why I went hunting for rings for you with my sister. We didn't find anything that felt right. But, I wanted to propose to you as well."

Kasia reached for Dalia's hand. "Your yes is more than enough. Time to plan the wedding."

Dalia smiled back. "Your poor table sibling is about to put in so much work."

Kasia groaned, but let it go. She was too happy to be bothered. Dalia said yes. They were getting married!

-8-8-8-8-

Next time: Kasia gets a taste of bad news when she should be enjoying her time as a newlywed.