Grace looked down at the small, wrapped box in her hand. She slowly pulled at the ribbon tied around it and it fell away. She then ripped the paper away and pulled the top off the box.
“Danno! I love it! Thank you!” She leaned over and hugged him.
“I know it’s not much, but I saw how you were looking at it when we walked past the store other day.”
“It’s perfect. I can wear it with anything.” She smiled as she pulled the seashell necklace out of the box.
Danny took it from her and opened the clasp. “Turn around.”
Grace turned so her back was toward him and he looped it around her neck and fastened the clasp.
“Now it’s my turn,” Steve said, as he stood and walked toward the garage.
He walked back in carrying a surfboard with a big red bow attached to the top.
“Dad!” She stood up from her seat on the couch and ran over to him. She wrapped her arms around his neck.
“You’ve just about outgrown your old one.” He looked down at his now sixteen year old step-daughter. “You’ve grown up so much, Gracie.” They smiled at each other.
Danny walked over to where Steve and Grace were standing, and he hugged them both. He pulled back and looked up at the two most important people in his life.
Grace smiled at him, but didn’t miss the melancholy look that passed over his face. She could tell he was trying to hide it, but she knew her father too well.
“What’s wrong, Danno?”
“Nothing, what makes you think something is wrong?”
“I know you. You’re too quiet, and I saw that look.”
Danny sighed and looked up at Steve. “I’m sorry… I’m just tired, and I had so much planned for today, and then…”
“Stop that. Today was perfect. This is all I really wanted. Small… just the three of us.”
“What about your party?”
“That’s all mom. I told her I didn’t want a big party, but she and Stan insisted. She said that I would only turn sixteen once. I just don’t see the big deal.”
“You sound just like your father.”
“Hey… I’m standing right here.”
Grace giggled. “I love you both so much.”
The three of them hugged again, but were quickly interrupted by the honking of a car horn outside.
Grace pulled out of the hug and rolled her eyes.
“That’s Mom.” She looked down at her watch. “She’s early as usual.”
Danny frowned, but didn’t say anything.
“It’s okay. We’ll see you again tomorrow.”
“I can’t wait. Maybe we can try out my new board.”
“Sure, Gracie.” Steve smiled.
Grace slowly walked away from them and grabbed her things. Steve and Danny then followed her to the front door. None of them were expecting what she saw when she opened the door.
Rachel was standing next to a brand new Lexus. She smiled at Grace and held out the keys.
“Oh my God, Mom! Is this mine?”
“Yes, it is Grace.”
Grace ran to her mom and hugged her. She grabbed the keys from her mom’s hand and ran around to the driver’s side. She looked back at the front door of the house as she was getting into the car. She could see the look on her father’s face, and she realized what her little performance must have looked like to him. She saw Steve put his arm around Danny, but it didn’t little good.
Grace wanted to run back over to them, but Rachel was already in the car and waiting. So instead, she waved at them and yelled, “I love you. See you tomorrow.” She then got in the car and drove away.
The party was fun, but Grace couldn’t help but think about her father, and that look on his face when she left their house earlier that day. She put on a good show of being excited, but her heart wasn’t really in it.
Once all the festivities were done and everyone had left, Grace ran up to her room and closed the door. It was late, so she decided to wait and talk to Danny when she got to his house the next day. Instead, she pulled out her journal and started writing.
April 21, 2019
Why couldn’t she wait till we got home to give me the car? She had to have known what it would do to Danno. It’s going to eat him up inside, and I didn’t help at all. Stan throws his money around like it’s nothing and I never understood until now how that must make Danno feel. I just wish I could get through to him and let him know that I don’t care. Money doesn’t buy love. Love is more important than anything that anyone can buy me. I know that Stan loves me, but he just doesn’t know how to show it. Not like Danno and Dad. Then there’s Mom. I just wish she’d listen to me when I tell her what I want.
On a brighter note, I can’t wait till tomorrow. Dad is having a barbeque at the house and he’s going to take me surfing. Auntie Kono, Uncle Charlie, Emma, Uncle Chin, Auntie Malia, and little Stevie are all going to be there. It’ll be fun, and so much better than anything that happened tonight. It’ll be perfect.
Grace was waiting at the front door of her house when Danny pulled through the gate and into the driveway. She ran out to the car and got inside before he had a chance to turn it off and get out.
“Hey, Monkey,” Danny said as he leaned over and hugged her.
Normally, she would have rolled her eyes at the nickname. She didn’t mind it really, but she was getting older and she had already had a talk about him calling her that in front of her friends.
They were both quiet after that. It got almost uncomfortable.
“For the way I acted when Mom picked me up yesterday.”
Danny sighed heavily, and pulled the car over.
“You have nothing to be sorry for. A new car is a great gift.”
Grace looked into his eyes and could see that he wasn’t fine. She knew he was upset because he couldn’t give her things like a new car.
“I don’t care about the car. It’s nice, but I can’t even drive by myself yet. I can’t even get my full license until I’m seventeen.”
When Danny didn’t say anything, she continued.
“I love you so much, and I hate how Mom and Stan make you feel.”
“Let me finish. I wish that Mom had waited till we got home yesterday to give me the car. It wasn’t nice what she did. I want you to know that no matter what Stan buys me, he’ll never be you… he’ll never be Dad.”
Danny sighed heavily. “Grace, I just wish that I could give you more… be there for you more.”
“That’s just it. I don’t want more from you. I love you just the way you are. I don’t need things to know how much I’m loved. Yeah, I wish more than anything that I could spend more time with you, but I don’t want you to change.”
By the end of her talk, they both had tears in their eyes. They leaned toward each other and hugged. They sat there for a few minutes, before they each pulled back, both wiping at their eyes.
Danny turned the key and started the car.
“We should probably get home before Steve sends out a search party.”
That had them both laughing. Once they were back on the road, Grace reached up and put her hand on the necklace she had received the day before. Sure, she had gotten a new car, a new cell phone, and a bunch of new clothes, but none of those compared to the gift her Danno had given her.