T was tapping his pen on the edge of the table, indicative of the number of seconds that I was silent. I was contemplating on what to tell him and E, who both came over to plan for the party that we’re throwing for H’s 21st birthday. Since H had planned T’s 21st birthday party for him, he’s just repaying H’s favor.
H was off to meet his mother, whom T and I have conspired with so that we can have this rendezvous.
“Where do we do it?” T had asked me a couple of seconds ago, and I know of a place, the perfect one, but am not sure if H wanted to reveal it to anybody yet, just like this pregnancy.
But this is T, his best bud. H had confided in me that when he saw T, he already knew they would kick things off very well. If there was a friendship at first sight, it was them—T and H. They moved in together within months of the band forming, and they have so much closeness—bromance, as today’s generation would call it—that fans began to notice it, and subsequently, a “ship” was formed.
Some fans took it very seriously, even to the point that they thought H and T are actually really together.
I looked at T, who, in person, is really handsome. Among the five, he’s got to be the most striking when you meet them personally. He has been with E for the longest time—four years now—and they survived everything that has been thrown at them: from E being just a cover-up for H and T’s supposed romance to T’s alleged sleeping around while the boys are on tour.
Trust, E tells me, is the key, and it’s something I’ve learned in my two years and some change with H.
I took a deep breath, and then said, “I know of a place. Are you up for a drive?”
T perked up, his usual self, and then he stood up, fishing for his keys in his pocket. “I need to grab my purse and a cupcake, and then we can leave,” I told him, heading to the kitchen and finding that chocolate caramel cupcake that I bought from the bakery where H used to work.
“A cupcake?” E said, obviously puzzled, as we trotted out of the house.
“Craving for it, sorry,” I said, as I gobbled up the cupcake in four quick bites. I took the backseat as E and T took front, and I was partly thankful for the darker tint of T’s car, plus the privacy that H’s neighborhood had offered. No paparazzi, hopefully—else H would know that T and I are on to something.
I told him where we’re headed, just a couple of towns away, but I knew the address tipped something off in T’s head. The community I mentioned is known as the more family-friendly part of the neighborhood—with playgrounds, parks, playhouses, clubhouse, and houses with backyards and pools for children to play in. It is the perfect place, too, for a laidback party, which I wanted for H’s 21st birthday.
I pointed him to the house on our right, a modest two-floored beauty. It was far smaller than H’s current house, one that he said he found so big for himself—and subsequently for the two of us. After a bit of discussion (ergo, where we talked about how many kids we intend to have, plus H said “I was going for grandeur when I bought this place”), he said he’ll put up the house (now dubbed as the mansion) up for sale and we can buy a smaller one.
Ah, the house. When H and I saw it, it felt like all the stars aligned, you know? We both knew it, and even before we turned to each other, we felt it.
This is our home.
It had a driveway leading to it, with a manicured lawn and a couple of oak trees in front. Postcard-ready, as H described it with a cute grin on his face.
T pulled up in the driveway, and I could sense his awe. “And you found this how?” he asked me, when we got down the car. He stared up at the house, brick red and white, and I fished the keys of the house from my purse.
“Real estate agent.”
That made T and E turn to me, questions on their faces. I pushed the key into the hole and showed them into the house. “Three bedrooms, two baths, with an attic, den, and two extra study rooms,” I said, whisking them off to the second floor where the bedrooms are. “H plans to convert one of the study rooms into his music room, and then like in the old house, the other is my personal space.”
I led them to the master’s bedroom, with a smaller bedroom directly across it. “The nursery.”
E gasped, and I smiled in confirmation.
“How far along?” T asked, and I held up three fingers. “Three months. We’re supposed to tell people at his birthday party, but am letting you in the know early. It’s a housewarming party, a baby-on-the-way announcement party, and his birthday party all in one,” I said.
T hugged me tightly, and then kissed me on the cheek. “You are changing my boy, and I like it. My boy is now a man, and he’s gonna be a dad.”
E tried to wrap her arms around me and T as much as they could allow her too, and then she teased, “You sure you don’t want to include your birthday on the celebration too? Your birthday is in a few weeks too.”
“No engagement party?” T chimed in, releasing me from the hug. I rolled my eyes. “He wants to get married, but I think we’re taking far too many steps already. I want us to get through having the baby first.” I sighed, and then added, “Plus, I think his mom’s going to kill me already.”
T and E laughed, with E draping her arm over my shoulder. “I don’t think so, K. She loves you.”
“I know, but…” My voice faded when I saw T shaking his head sharply. “H is a mature guy, K. It’s going to be fine,” he assured me.
“The other boys? And his career…”
He pressed his lips on my forehead. “Shh. The boys will back him up. We’re excited to be uncles,” he whispered, and I took a deep breath, knowing I should believe T, but I still worry.
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY… HAPPY BIRTHDAY… HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!”
H and I headed down the staircase as the select group of friends and family sang him the birthday song, and he was grinning widely. We finally reached the cake, situated a few feet away from the stairs. It was a massive cake—four-tiered, red and white like the house, and there was a cute miniature version of him on top of the cake, carrying what looked like a baby basket. I found T, who was standing behind the cake, and I widened my eyes at him. He shrugged, winking at me, and then I turned to H, who was eyeing the ornament on the cake with a look of amusement.
Twenty-one candles burned bright around the cake, circling the bottom three tiers, and he blew across it, all in one breath, exhausted and almost blue at the end of it. He turned to me and placed his arm over my shoulder, and I draped my arm around his waist, leaning in for a kiss.
A waiter appeared next to us, and H took a glass of champagne. I hesitated before taking the glass next to it, until the waiter assured me that it was just sparkling water.
T gave me a thumbs-up sign from behind the cake, sending me a message that all the waiters in the party are briefed about my “condition.”
“I see you know about it,” H said, his eyes trained on T, and he raised his glass of champagne. We stood at the center of the living room. The guests circled around us, his family and bandmates at the forefront, and then he cleared his throat.
“Thank you all for coming, as I celebrate 21 years of my life on this planet,” he said. “This year will be marked by big changes in my life, and—I think you can all see what my best bud T has put on my cake—it does involve a baby.”
The entire time H was doing this speech, I had my eyes on his mom A and his dad D, and if they were surprised at all about this news, they didn’t show it. Instead, they raised their glasses to me and H, as H continued to say, “K and I are having a little one in the next few months.”
I leaned in, whispering into his ear, “You told your parents?” He nodded, giving me an assuring smile, and whispered back, “Mom’s not going to kill you, so don’t worry.”
I rolled my eyes at him, and then we both turned, because another cake was coming out of the kitchen, a much smaller two-tiered one, cake made like books stacked on top of the other. Two candles representing my age were on top of it, a 2 and a 6, and I blushed furiously. They placed the cake next to H’s, and they started another round of a birthday song, with H spearheading it.
“I feel so old,” I said, when they finished singing, and the rest of the guests laughed. I blew the candles on the cake, and they raised their glasses for another toast. It was A who spoke, and I held my breath. “To you and H—may you be the most wonderful parents in the world, as wonderful as the people that you are right now.”
I mouthed my thanks, and I took a sip from my sparkling water, feeling all the love from the room emanating.
“I’m so sorry,” I told A when I finally got around to talking to them. She was next to B, H’s stepdad, who slinked away quietly to give me and A some privacy.
“Honey,” A said patiently, resting her hand on my arm, “I can see that H wants this. And while I think it’s too early, there’s really nothing we can do about it. You’ve made him a better man, and this is going to toughen him further.” A leaned in and kissed me on the cheek. “He loves you. And we’re here to support him all the way.”
I think H had already talked her to the point of her being pacified, so much so that I’m being let off easy.
I’m taking it.
I thanked her, and then H pulled me away after giving his mom a peck on the cheek.
HIS GIFT TO ME: An Audemars Piguet watch with a pink gold clasp and crocodile strap that has a staggering price tag that I won’t even mention here. At the back of the watch was an engraving of To here until forever. With love, H.
MY GIFT TO HIM: An antique Pitkin hunter-case pocket watch with a gold chain. The cover had an intricate engraving on it, all lines and curves, forming twigs and vines. Its price tag is considerably less than that of the watch that H got me, but it still costs a small fortune. When he turned it over, the back case of the watch also had an engraving: To our forever. With love, K.
We laughed at our too similar gifts to each other, and the almost verbatim engraving on both watches.