“Hey hun, wake up.”
I shook H’s shoulder, and he moaned, and I grinned when he swatted my hand away. It was already nine in the morning, and he still wasn’t up. If he was in the press tour, he’d be on his way to Paris right now, the last leg of the promo tour. But since he stayed back to be with me, he is still in bed, catching up on sleep.
“H,” I whispered into his ear, targeting that spot where he tickles most, and he finally faced me, his hands like claws clamping around my waist, and I was under him in one swift move. His eyes were on fire, but the fire wasn’t intense, and I knew what was tempering that fire and keeping it from igniting.
After yesterday’s blog post, H and I felt like there was some sort of weight lifted from our shoulders. It was cathartic as it was vindicating, and the backlash from it was very minimal. If anything, it spawned a number of trending topics on Twitter, ranging from #WeSupportYouHandK to #TheresAlwaysARightTimeHandK to #MoreThanThisHandK.
“If you move, you’re going to kick the breakfast in bed that I brought you,” I told him, as he closed the distance between us, stopping just as his lips were a few centimeters away from mine. “Hmm, breakfast in bed,” he said, rubbing his nose against mine, and then finally kissing me. I didn’t know how long that lasted, but when he released me I was breathless, and he was breathing hard too.
“Breakfast,” I exhaled, and he nodded, kissing me one last time before slowly moving off from top of me. He approached the edge of the bed just as I sat up, and I smiled as I watched him, surveying the tray of food that I prepared: a glass of orange juice (room temp), a mango and cream crepe, and a small stack of pancakes with some crisp strips of bacon.
“Yum,” he said, digging in, splitting the pancakes into two, and then into quarters. He looked at me, offering me the pancakes, but I turned it down, grabbing the bacon instead.
“You know,” he said, in between bites, “we never really got around to celebrating your birthday.”
I smiled bitterly. “I think it was because I slept through it.”
“I know it was a dark day, but we still need to celebrate your birthday. You don’t get to turn 26 every day.”
I stopped when H put his knife down, really calmly. When his green eyes gazed at me, intense, I knew he was serious about this, and I breathed deeply. “What are you planning?” I asked him, and he placed his hand on my cheek, touching it tenderly. “Well, first we have to get out of the house.”
I exhaled loudly, resigning to this plan of H. “The papz will be waiting.”
“And we’ll face them head on. Like we always do.”
I turned my head to the side, kissing his palm. Well, I am tired of being cooped up in the house for almost a week already, ever since I came out of the hospital, so this could be a good thing.
“I’ll take a shower,” I told him, and he smiled appreciatively. I don’t know what his plans are, but I’ll give in.
Maybe whatever he’s planning to do can help us both heal.
H rolled the car into the back entrance of the tattoo shop where he and I first got our matching tattoos. He slowed it to a stop, and then turned to me after cutting off the ignition.
“First order of the day: tattoos,” he announced, and I shook my head, smiling. “What, with all your tattoos, where will we fit another one?”
He rolled his eyes, as I voiced out again my recent complaint about his multitude of tattoos. He has amassed almost thirty in just a span of two years, and while I never had reservations about his tattoos before, there are times when I see him naked, all I could see are the splotches of black and blue ink on his chest and arms. I miss his skin, his natural skin.
H fished a paper out of his shirt pocket and presented it to me. I unfolded it, and on the clean sheet of paper there was only one line: Feb0913. Next to it was a broken heart, a tiny, tiny broken heart.
I met his gaze, and he found the answer in my eyes. We got down the car and we met in front of the car, where he took my left hand with his right, our original tattoos aligning.
We were going to get another one.
My wrist hurt, where the tattoo was inked. Mine was in red, blazing, on my right wrist, like it was a cut that was still bleeding but it wasn’t. H’s was in royal blue, the kind of blue that floats against his white skin.
“Where to?” I asked him as we boarded his car again. By the time we got out of the tattoo parlor, it was late in the afternoon, and his fans had gotten an update from somewhere—“insider” as they call them—that he and I were there. As we exited the back entrance, about thirty fans were lined up outside, waiting, their cameras and smartphones ready to snap pictures. I traded my glasses for shades, and H placed on his too, as if the tinted spectacles will protect us from their prying eyes.
UGH. So much for a low-key, private day out.
“To a place where we can be kids again.”
I frowned at H’s answer, waiting for more clues, but he wouldn’t give in. We passed by towns and towns, some familiar and some not, and until I finally realized where he and I were headed.
As soon as we parked in a VIP parking space, his security R and his other cronies emerged from the shadows. Before today, I would have been peeved by their presence, but this time I am extremely thankful they’re here—they were buffers from the public, a shield from their scrutiny and judgment, which is something I welcome right now.
H placed his arm over my shoulder, another barrier to the world. He tucked me right under his arm, where I was snug, and I welcomed his warmth. We were whisked towards the lifts, and I found myself marveling at how grand this place was. CF took me here, shopping for clothes, a few years back, and I nearly got lost in the enormity of it. It didn’t also help that it overwhelmed me—everything was bustling in there, the place crowded by both the people and the items sold.
It was where the boys commission their Christmas gift baskets for everyone—much like how other celebrities in this country usually do. And H told me in confidence that if he couldn’t find something that he wanted to give me—say a really rare edition of a book I really liked—he would call someone from this place, and he was sure they would hunt it down for him.
R pressed the floor that we were heading to, and I smiled, knowing that I guessed it right. H caught it, and as a confirmation, he kissed me on the temple. “We’ve got thirty minutes,” he whispered. “They cleared the floor for those few minutes, and we can shop here. Whatever you want to get, just keep in mind we’re meeting some kids after.”
He mentioned the orphanage that T had been sponsoring for a long time already. T has held a couple of charity soccer matches for their benefit, and H and I have attended some of the matches. “We’ll visit them,” H said, his tone light. I stopped, considering this. Was I ready to see kids, even babies, too close after my miscarriage?
I tried to get a read of H’s face. I could see how much this means to him, and I think this was his way of coping. I knew that since he would be there with me, it might make things easier. I gave him a small smile. “Okay,” I just said, and then I pulled him towards the rows and rows of toys, getting giddy myself.
Toys—H and I share some sort of passion for toys. He knew that toy stores are included in my top five places to go to when I need time to think (behind bookstores, 500 Days bench, his house in the woods, and C’s dance studio), while it’s probably in his top ten (he has international options included in that list).
You know that look you see on a child’s face when you hand him a toy, something he hasn’t seen for the first time, and you see that wonder, that bright light in their eyes, as if a whole new world is opening up to them? That’s how H and I are usually in toy stores, as our own childhood memories would kick in when we pick up a Lego set, or a Barbie, or an action figure.
H pressed his lips on my forehead before releasing me down the front aisle, one of the security guys coming with me. He was pushing a cart, and I walked along with me. I grabbed ten of each of the toys that I liked, praying that H and I won’t be taking the same things.
I smiled as I saw a talking Elmo from the Sesame Street fame, and I played with it for a bit before moving on to a singing Barney (I love you, you love me…). I grabbed some Play Doh, a bunch of color books and crayons, some science experiment boxes (Make your own ____ > volcano, rocket, robot, etc. are just some examples of what can fill in that blank), a bunch of yoyos and tops, some Beyblades and Pokemons.
At the end of the thirty-minute reprieve, I met H at the counter, both of our carts overflowing with toys. There were some common items, but I was thankful that they were just few. I spied a Nerf gun in his pile, which usually causes a lot of havoc when we play it in the comfort of our own home.
“Good choices,” he said, surveying my pile, and I complimented his too. We paid for our stash just as they opened the floor again to other paying customers, and we were guided past the people, both who recognized us and who didn’t. R and the other guys loaded the car with our purchase, and we headed to the orphanage.
A girl, about three, her hair in messy pigtails, held her tiny forefinger towards me. I dropped the Play Doh I was holding, and I leaned down to her level. I surveyed it and it was bleeding, and I figured she probably got it while playing. I lifted her, perched her on my hip, while wiping her tears dry. I found the first aid kit quite easily, and I sat her on the table while I scoured the cotton, iodine, and a bandage.
She watched, a bit wary, as I dabbed some iodine on the cotton. Her lips were quivering, her big, round, blue eyes scared and brimming with tears. “Shh,” I whispered. “This is going to sting a bit, okay?” She looked like she was about to protest, but instead she just nodded. I cleaned her cut, and then I pushed the tray of bandages towards her direction.
“Choose,” I told her, the wide array of printed bandages distracting her a bit. She picked the one with colorful flowers and hearts on it, and I peeled off the backing to reveal the bandage. I wrapped it around her finger, giving an assuring smile, and then I kissed her finger. “There,” I said brightly, and she wrapped her arms around me.
“You, hurt?” she asked as we walked back into the playroom, where H was. He was surrounded with kids, watching him as he told a story about a boy and the beanstalk he had to climb. He eyed me his question, and I assured him I was okay. I chose a quiet corner, picked a chair and sat there, the little girl on my lap.
“What’s your name, lovely?” I asked, and she whispered shyly, “Audrey.”
“Hello, Audrey,” I said, and she placed her tiny hand on my arm. She repeated her question earlier. “You, hurt?”
“Yes, Audrey,” I answered softly. “But I will be fine, just like you will be.”
She fished something from her pocket, and I grinned when I realized what it was. I could feel my tears forming in my eyes. She held it up for me, the Band-Aid with an Angry Birds print on it. “You,” she said, and then she mimed opening the bandage. I helped her with it, removing the cover of the adhesive. She reached out, placing the bandage on my chest, my left chest, above my heart, and I choked back a sob.
“There,” she said brightly. “Fine!”
I nodded, a tear falling from my eye, and I pulled her in a hug. She wrapped her arms around me, her hug as big as her heart, slowly patching my broken one.
It was past midnight, but H and I had just arrived home. After the orphanage, where we had a very massive cake fight with the kids who had sung me a very loud birthday song, we headed to our favorite restaurant. They led us to the most private table, away from the prying eyes, and we enjoyed a sumptuous meal, with my favorites roast beef and mashed potatoes.
When we got home, there was a tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream waiting in the freezer, as he directed me first there.
“We both needed that,” he said, and I wrapped my arms around his waist, fitting my body against his.
“We do,” I agreed. “Remind me again to listen to you… sometimes?” I said, and I felt his laugh before I heard it.
“We’ll work on making it all the time,” he whispered in my ear, and I cupped his face in my hands. “I love you, have I told you that? You’ve been so strong for me the past few days,” I whispered, and he pressed his lips against mine. “It’s part of what I promised to do, as your boyfriend,” he said against my lips.
I shook my head, and he gazed at me, dizzy with our closeness. “You’re not just a boyfriend to me anymore, H. You’re more than that. The word just doesn’t cut it anymore.”
“I’d say ‘fiancé’ but you haven’t said yes yet.”
I reached up to ruffle his hair, grinning. “I think the word I was looking for was ‘soulmate.’”
“I like that,” he whispered, nibbling the tip of my ear, “but I still like fiancé better, and ‘husband’ best.”
“Hmm,” I mumbled, turning my head so our lips would touch. He held me closer, deepening the kiss, until I pulled away, reminding him of the ice cream. He rolled his eyes, hands running through his hair, saying something about “why does ice cream trump sex,” making me laugh.
“Too soon, hun. Too soon,” I told him, winking. “I don’t think I’m fully healed—”
He pulled me towards him, and I crashed against him, hard, so much so that he had to land against the kitchen countertop and he yelped. “I… was kidding,” he said, wincing.
I laughed, showering butterfly kisses on his face. “I know, I know… I’m sorry!”
“Ice cream,” he muttered, and I released him, and we finally got to eat the ice cream. He grabbed the spoons and I grabbed the tub, and we headed to the bedroom. I started on the ice cream while he put on the DVD—Pitch Perfect, I think—and I sighed contentedly as he plopped down next to me.
“I love you,” I whispered, and he turned to me, a smile on his face.
“And I love you. More than this.”
He sighed, and then he pointed to the screen with his spoonful of ice cream, and we started to watch. I knew, at that moment, that despite everything that has happened to me and H, I am still so blessed… because I have him.
I have him with me, and everything is better.