Or is it just me: one scared, non-committal woman with a man who switched over to the “dark” side?
Pink’s Fucking Perfect blared (and vibrated) in my ears. I know, I know. It’s bad to place your mobile phone anywhere near you, especially when you sleep. I have heard that bit from Ian when he asked me how come I answer my phone so quickly when he wakes me up in the morning. He instructed me—and I have yet to concur—to place it a few feet away, one where I would have to stand up to snooze the alarm when it blares (he knows I snooze the alarm three times before I actually get up from bed). Ian, on the other hand, sleeps so easily and wakes up so easily. He is so blessed.
Hey, just give me this one last time. I got home after last night’s (or this morning’s) overnighter, and when I got home, I just dropped into bed and rolled to sleep.
Okay, maybe I got to change clothes first before I rolled over and temporarily died.
I tugged on my phone, swiped down (Lala, swipe up is to decline the call, swipe down is to accept the call—HTC phones sometimes give me hell, and the learning curve is semi-steep). “Hello?” I mumbled into the phone whilst burying myself again under a pillow and my teddy bear stuffed toy, one which Ian constantly tease me about because I wasn’t creative in naming it (it’s brown, and I named it Brownie).
My eyes snapped open. How can I forget that voice? Or the only person who insists on calling me “Keala” instead of “Lala” just like everyone else does?
And how can I forget that (or those) mind-numbing, earth-shattering, heart-stopping (okay, I will stop with the two-word adjectives or whatever they are) kiss(es) that practically fueled my stress-filled four weeks?
“Ian?” I said, mildly surprised and obviously a bit more awake than I was two seconds ago, emerging from the pile and sitting up on my bed.
“Good morning. Sorry to wake you,” Ian said in a gentle voice, and he is immediately forgiven for interrupting my much wanted and much needed sleep. I actually missed his voice after I ditched his ten phone calls last night in lieu of having sanity (and focus) to work for the rest of the night.
“What’s up?” I said, stifling a yawn but it still came out. He heard it, making him groan. “What time did you get home last night?” he asked, and I flopped back on the bed. The pillows are just so comfy and tempting.
“Five in the morning, actually,” I said, and I glanced at my Tom and Jerry watch, the characters’ tiny arms glowing in my still dark room. Ian never asked why I still had a Tom and Jerry watch—I never explained.
“Holy fudge,” I uttered upon seeing the time. It’s just 6:30 AM!
Ian cussed just as I did. “I’m sorry. I… I didn’t expect your overnighters to go that long, I didn’t know,” he said, which was reasonable, for this was the first time I had to do an overnighter ever since we started to, um, go out. I hushed him, and I could imagine him pacing wherever he was. I could hear cars in the background, faint sounds of one or two cars passing by him and a couple of kids squealing.
“Where are you? Park?” I asked, figuring he went for an early run. The health buff in him. Did you know he has joined about twenty “fun” runs already? At first he started at 3km runs, then 5km, then 10km, but now he’s running 21km. I am super proud of him for this. I barely get out of the 3km run alive if I really have to run its entire length. I can only run 1km. The rest I have to walk.
I heard him hesitate. “Uh,” he started. “Actually, I am at your condo. I was about to surprise you with breakfast but…” He groaned again. “Wrong timing?” he said, and I nearly smiled. I am a zombie, sure, but hey, A+ for effort.
“Five minutes,” I said, going down the bed and running to the bathroom. “I’ll go down.” I heard him starting to protest but I already ended the call. I brushed my teeth, not bothering to comb my hair, and grabbed my keys and a jacket and headed out. The entire twenty-floor ride down, I ran my fingers through my hair but I knew I still looked like I tumbled out of bed, especially since my hair was in braids last night. I just made my hair crazier than ever.
When I got to the lobby, I saw Ian leaning against his car, a Tupperware and a couple of tumblers on the car’s hood. I bounded over to him and he smiled that dimpled smile that made my knees even weaker than they were as I was just fueled by an hour’s worth of sleep. He opened his arms and I just deposited myself in them, allowing him to hug me.
“I’m really sorry I woke you up,” I heard him whisper, his breath warm on my temples. I nodded, cuddling closer. “Shh,” I whispered, and Ian held me tighter against his body. “Just… hold me for a couple of minutes. I’ll be fine,” I told him, and he leaned against the hood of the car, pulling me into him. He ran his fingers through my hair, making me silently thankful I untangled most of it while in the elevator. I felt my body relax, the tension weaving out of my body with every stroke he makes.
“Why do you work so hard, Kea?” he asked, half-admonishing, half-affectionate.
I wrapped my arms around him, tightening them for a split second and then letting my arms drop to the side. He released me, and then I winked. “I wish I know,” I told him, and then he turned to the breakfast he was bringing. I heard him power-lock the car, and then he directed me to the nearby benches of the clubhouse and pool area.
“Ian,” I said, as he passed me one of the tumblers, which I later on found out is filled with dark chocolate Swiss Miss, “this is all too much.” He popped the Tupperware open and the smell of buttered pancakes wafted through my nose, immediately making my tummy grumble. I forgot I didn’t eat dinner last night, but Ian doesn’t need to know that.
Ian brought out a couple of forks, and then gave me a small smile. “I couldn’t find paper plates at home. Is it okay if we share—”
He didn’t finish his sentence for I already started to cut through the big stack of pancakes, grinning when I find out that the pancakes were as heaven as the Swiss Miss was—chocolate chip pancakes!
“Ian,” I said, smiling as I shook my head. I helped myself with the pancakes and Ian just watched me, and then I stopped so he could take his turn. He shook his head. “Maybe I am okay just watching you,” he said, and then he paused, laughing at his statement. “That made me sound like a perv, didn’t it?”
I didn’t react, taking in this situation. I don’t want to get used to early morning wakeup calls just so he could see me and bring me breakfasts. Or the fact that he wants to pick me up after work nearly every day no matter how late my works ends. Or… the dinners, the lunches, the phone calls or the text messages. Or the late night coffee runs (or tea runs, in my case), endless mystery tweets (I tweet something that I should tag him with but I don’t, and then he “replies” without tagging me or anyone. It takes a bit of brainwork to figure out if the tweet he last sent was for me), or the five-minute meet ups just to hug and kiss.
I know it’s all fun and kilig and happy but… I don’t want to get used to this.
“Ian,” I said, my voice heavy, and I don’t know if it was written on my face because Ian just shook his head, taking my hand in his. “Look, Kea,” he began, squeezing my hand, “this is a first for me.”
I frowned. I am pretty sure he didn’t mean first girlfriend.
Ian took a deep breath, concentrating as if searching for the right words. “I date. I… go to parties, meet girls, and then go out with them. I don’t… DO this. I don’t… feel like I’m in this awkward position with other girls. I don’t… feel like I’m eight and I am having my first crush. I don’t feel like…” His voice trailed, but I didn’t press him.
“I don’t… court, Keala. I DATE. But with you, I feel like I have to… earn you. Your trust. This… relationship or whatever it is that we’re having or we’re going to have. Like I… I just want to do everything right by you, Kea. You’re… different,” he whispered, his voice strained, like what he’s telling me right now is equated to him baring his soul to me. “You’re this girl whom I… the only woman whom I actually felt I am going to have a future with, you know? Like… I actually see myself having a family with you.”
I am confused during all this. I mean, all the fuel from the one hour of sleep after being awake for more than 24 hours is slowly burning out. Ian is my first kiss, for Pete’s sake. I may have experience with boys—not men—but this is the first time someone wants to be serious with me. And it’s a high leap from boys to men, and from casual to serious.
And I actually do understand where he is coming from—he is old (okay, I need to ask him how old he is—probably early thirties?), and down the road he doesn’t want to be alone, and at that age he’s not thinking of the same things I am thinking at this point. He’s thinking family, I’m thinking dating. He’s thinking getting married, I’m thinking just plain old relationship.
Maybe not even a relationship, you know? I am exploring. This man here is my first kiss at 23. And he’s talking family. With me.
After a month. A month of seeing each other.
And I don’t know what to do—or if I can give what he wants.
Ian did a turnaround in a month.
“Keala?” he whispered, peering at me, and I took a deep breath.
“Can we take this a day at a time?” I said, but honestly I wanted to run away. Why ruin something that is perfectly working?
Ian shrugged nonchalantly, as if he had prepared himself for that answer even before he came here.
“Better that than a ‘no,’” Ian quipped, and then he offered me the pancakes again. He started to eat the remaining stack of pancakes (hell, how many did he cook?). I looked at him, wondering silently about virtually nothing (actually there is something, but it just blurs through my mind at this point as I’m sleep-deprived), and Ian felt my eyes on him. And then he smiled, a blush coloring his pale cheeks, his smile widening to a grin, making him look like a school boy.
Ian turned to me, leaning in and giving me a soft kiss. “I’m staying, Kea. I’m not gonna run away. I am willing to wait, I promise,” he whispered, leaning his forehead against mine.
I let out a shaky breath, not saying anything more.