“You give me more than you think. Probably more than I think, but this kind of thing is hardly quantifiable, isn’t it?”

A half sleepy smile he couldn’t see pressed between his shoulder blades in the dark room. He thought she’d drifted off again when her muffled voice made its way up his vertebrae to settle somewhere around his ears.

“I sometimes think about how gifts are given in Japan, with both hands, which to me suggests a full commitment to the giving. I think that should be the case when offering someone something. If you don’t want to, then don’t. I want it fully and freely given, or not at all.
I will admit it does confuse me a bit that it’s proper to refuse the gift three times before it’s accepted. Why? To give them an opportunity to change their mind? To suggest they are not worthy of such an offering? To appear as though they aren’t delighted to receive such a thing, that they aren’t over the moon they were thought of?” The warmth of her breath against his skin vanished for a moment as she lifted her head, her tone resolute.

“I will never pretend I’m not delighted.”

“I don’t know if you could.”

“The reality is, if I’m going to love you, I’m just going to do that. I don’t want to pretend I’m not delighted that you give me that most precious gift of time. I don’t know if people are aware of how flattering that is, when someone cares enough for them to share the one thing you can never get back. Because you just don’t know how much you have.”

Her arm, which had been laying the length of his thigh, snaked around his midsection and squeezed.
“Thanks for giving me your present. It’s the best gift ever.”

She relaxed and he waited until her breath was smooth, steady against him before he responded.

“Fully and freely.”