Editor's note: These stories appeared in the Feb. 8 editions of View Neighborhood Newspapers.
Kelly and Tal Klouchek were born in 1963, two weeks apart. They had the same doctor and were born at what is now called the St. Rose Dominican Hospital's Rose de Lima Campus .
Love has always been present between the two, who said their parents told them how close they were in kindergarten.
"We would hold hands walking to school," Tal said. "My parents said I was like her protector."
After Kelly moved to Boulder City, they lost contact until high school.
They were 14 when they ended up in the same gym class. Despite opposing personalities -- she was a "goody goody," and he was more a rebel -- they soon fell in love.
When they were 15, Tal's parents told him they were moving to Oregon.
"I went to her trailer and said, 'Pack up, we're leaving,' " Tal said.
Tal and Kelly fled a few miles away to a deserted area that is now Lake Las Vegas.
"We lived down there for a week," Tal said.
They remember pouring stagnant water into a bottle and mixing it with Kool-Aid to make drinking it bearable.
Their adventure ended when both got dysentery and had to return home.
Tal was convinced that he was going to stay in Henderson, so he found employment and rented a place next to Kelly's house. But his parents eventually dragged him to Oregon.
Every time Tal ran away to try to be with Kelly, he was brought back.
"We ran up $300 phone bills talking to each other," Kelly said. "My parents put a lock on the phone."
The couple were supposed to be reunited when Kelly's family traveled to Washington to see relatives.
"We were supposed to stop in Oregon, so I could see Tal," Kelly recalled. "We pulled into a gas station, and my mom said it wasn't going to happen. I flipped out."
Kelly said she had to use the restroom. Instead, she sneaked away and ran through the pouring rain to Tal's house. She called when she was about a block away. Her parents found her and took her back.
Over time, and because they were hundreds of miles apart, the relationship disintegrated. But the love and the memory lived on.
Growing up, Kelly's favorite love story was "The Flame and the Flower," about a pirate named Brandon who falls in love with a girl named Brianna.
Years later and nearly 3,000 miles apart, Tal and his wife had a son named Brandon, while Kelly and her husband had a daughter named Brianna.
"I am not the romantic type," Tal said. "But I remembered that story."
When they were teenagers, Brianna and Brandon ended up in a chat room.
"It was around the time the whole Internet thing started with AOL," Kelly said. "I was monitoring my daughter's chat because I liked to see who she was chatting with. I noticed the last name -- Klouchek. I asked the boy if his father's name was Tal. I told him who I was, and he said, 'My dad told me about you.' "
Tal and Kelly kept in touch off and on. One day, after both were divorced, he called her.
"Two minutes into the conversation, I asked if she was ready to get married," Tal said.
Kelly said yes. They married, and Tal moved from Oregon to Maryland, where Kelly was living.
Around Kelly's finger, covering the tattoo of Tal's name, is a simple ring that has survived as long as their love has. Tal bought it on their first date.
"It was about $13, which back then was everything I had," he said.
Kelly kept it, and when they married in 2008, it became her wedding ring.
About six months later, they decided to come home .
They bought a house in Henderson and can see St. Rose Dominican Hospital from it.
Now they look forward to the future.
"We are going to grow old together," Tal said.
COMIC BOOK ROMANCE
He's her hero, and she's his heroine.
And like a classic superhero tale, the origins of Ralph Mathieu and Katherine Keller's story can be found in a comic book.
Well, their love story, at least.
It began in 1995, when Katherine, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas student, started getting her comic book fix at Ralph's shop, Dungeon Comics, now Alternate Reality Comics, on Maryland Parkway.
They drew on their common interest and became friends. They found they had more in common during an all-night wait for concert tickets.
Like became love, and Ralph decided to pop the question in 1997.
He reached out to Garth Ennis, a friend and the author of "Preacher," a comic book series Ralph and Katherine liked.
"I told him I wanted to propose in the letter pages," Ralph said. "Those were a way for fans and authors to communicate before the Internet. He called me from Ireland and said, 'It takes about four or five months from when you send it until it appears in the issue.' "
So Ralph exercised some superhero-strength patience and waited for the June issue to reach his store.
Under his name and address in the letters page was the single sentence Ralph wrote: "Kate Keller, will you marry me?"
That day, Katherine went to the store to pick up new comic books. She said she read through them quickly but decided to save a thorough read for later.
Ralph was back to the waiting game.
At the end of Katherine's busy day, she went home, made dinner and sat down to scour the comics. Then she saw the proposal.
"I ran back to the store and burst through the door and said, 'Of course I will!' " she said. "I was completely surprised."
They were married that December.
-- Maggie Lillis/View Staff Writer
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
Alex Kronberg was boarding a plane home to Colorado from Las Vegas in 1987 with her boyfriend, preparing herself for the breakup she knew was inevitable, when fate intervened.
"It had not been a good trip, and we kind of knew it was over," she said.
Alex, now a southwest Las Vegas resident, said her boyfriend was seated near a window, and she had been stuck with the middle seat again.
"I knew I was going to have to sit next to a stranger," she said. "I hate that. But something happened that I never expected."
Alex said her destiny walked onto the plane and took a seat next to her.
"It is what you could call once upon a time, fate or whatever," she said. "I prefer to call it the love story that is made in heaven because that's where it all started for me."
Alex said the man's girlfriend took the seat across the aisle, and as the plane took off, the two couples began chatting.
"I felt such a connection to this guy," she said.
Alex said they laughed and asked questions about life and family.
"His name was Steve, and what I discovered was that we shared the same kind of humor and values. He got me."
Then the plane landed, and they said their goodbyes.
"That was so hard," she said. "This was one great guy, but how awful would my boyfriend have felt if I asked for his number?"
Alex said life went on. She and her boyfriend did break up. She tried to focus on her work as a leasing agent and on her child.
One day, she was going about her business when fate intervened again.
"I had to go to a bigger property to learn how to collect rent, write out the receipts and do other administrative work," she said. "I was deep in thought when I looked up to see the same guy walk in. I couldn't believe it."
It had been four months since the trip to Las Vegas.
"It was so corny, but I asked him if I knew him from somewhere," she said.
It was Steve, and Alex said she was elated.
"We were back down to earth, but I knew him, and to this day we are together, 25 years later," she said. "I still say that it is a match made in heaven, or at least 35,000 feet."
Alex said she and Steve dated for about six months before she proposed to him.
"I just asked what he was doing July 16," she said. "He said nothing that he could think of. I told him that was good because we were getting married on that day. He agreed, and here we are, still happy and giddy like teenagers."
Steve said he is as in love with Alex today as he was the day he met her.
"This is the kind of thing that happens in movies," he said. "We tell people our story, and it's typically a 'wow' reaction."
-- Amanda Llewellyn/View Staff Writer
A Match made via fondue
Matt and Jenny Gaca met on Nov. 6, 2004, at The Melting Pot on West Charleston Boulevard . She was there to celebrate a friend's birthday, and he was there celebrating his birthday with his family.
In a meant-to-be kind of situation, the two parties were seated in back-to-back booths. Jenny and a friend, Georgina, headed off to the ladies room. On the way, she caught sight of the birthday boy and mentioned to Georgina that she thought he was "kind of cute."
Sensing an opportunity to play matchmaker on the way back to their table, Georgina revealed what Jenny had said to everyone in Matt's booth, closing with the kicker question: "Is he single?"
His family enthusiastically said, "Yes!"
"I slid back into my booth completely embarrassed," Jenny said. "Within a couple of minutes, I felt something hit me in the back of the head. My husband's family threw a napkin into our booth with his phone number on it."
Her friend responded by throwing him a napkin with Jenny's phone number on it, while another friend shouted out other information about her in the crowded restaurant.
After a few minutes of bantering back and forth, Matt went to leave but stopped by her booth to say hello.
"I was so embarrassed that I couldn't speak," Jenny recalled.
A week later, she called him; they went to dinner that night and had, by all accounts, the most amazing time. They became an item.
Matt took her back to The Melting Pot a year later, with the same family members and friends who were there when they had met. He proposed to her that night. They were married July 1, 2006.
"We are going on five years of marriage and just welcomed a baby girl into our family," Jenny said. "I couldn't imagine my life with anyone else."
-- Jan Hogan/View Staff Writer