We were driving back in my car; palms sweaty upon the steering wheel. After all this time, I finally had what I wanted. Sitting beside me in the passenger seat, looking casually out the window; she'd never know how long I waited for her call. I tried to show the same 'casualness' but I was crazy about her. I knew it from the very moment we had met till our first kiss...man! I now had another shot at this. And I'll be damned if I was going to mess it up again.
I almost believed I would never see Brynn again. The decision seemed final from the way she said goodbye. I submerged myself in my work and studies to numb the pain of losing her; because I lost her to him. But the minute I heard the sound of her voice on my phone, I dropped everything and ran to my car; I ran straight to Canada.
I drove up to the hotel entrance. We had barely spent 2 hours together and although I wanted more I didn't want to impose. It started raining which meant she'd have to decide what she wanted to do and fast. We were pretty quiet, yet there was so much I wanted to say. These first few hours were still so raw; I feared anything stupid that I might say would cause her to change her mind.
"It was nice to see you again Aaron. I hope next time, its sooner than a year." She smiled with her big doe eyes.
I didn't know how to classify this type of awkwardness. I mean it didn't feel like a first date, or even when you first meet the person you end up liking; we were past that. No this was in a category all on its own. Because how do you categorize our history? I knew what I wanted now, but maybe she was unsure this time. Otherwise she would've wanted to spend more time with me.
"That would be much better." I smiled back.
I popped open the trunk to get my umbrella. Once I opened it and the side of her door, I caught her pleasantly surprised smirk. I had all the impact from the rain but I didn't care. After I walked her over to dry ground I gave her a short longing smile. She reciprocated the same stare, but I needed certainty. If she wasn't willing to open up just yet, that's fine. I've waited this long, what's a couple more months. The important factor was that she called and wanted to see me.
I walked back to my car not before giving a small wave goodbye. I was about to keep on driving once I passed the light, but I felt something pull me back. Should I not have remained as quiet and been my normal and 'forward' self. I was so focused on not messing things up, perhaps my downfall. I aligned to the right side of the street, with a desperate urge to make a U turn. I tapped on the wheel, drum rolling to help motivate myself. And then my phone rang.
"Hey." I said caught off guard.
"Hi, I'm sorry are you too far to come back?"
"No not really. Why, did you forget something at the aquarium?" I was actually less than two minutes away.
"Umm, no…I wanted to ask you, if you weren't in a rush to head back that is, would you like to have a cup of coffee with me here at the hotel. If you can't, I understand. "
I threw my head back in relief. "I would love to have a cup of coffee with you."
I continued with my plan and stepped inside the hotel within minutes. My shirt was a little damp and I wasn't really interested in coffee but the sight of Brynn looking for me with her phone in her hand was a good sign.
"Now when you said "sooner than a year", I was expecting maybe a week or a month not 10 minutes." I grinned.
She blushed; it wasn't hard to get her to do that. "I wanted to ask you sooner…I just couldn't." She shrugged.
"It's okay. It's nice to see I still have that effect on you." I laughed quietly while tucking my hair back.
"Ugh! Let's just get some coffee." She hid her smile but I could always tell.
I predicted she'd pick the table by the window, it was her favorite. And there we kind of reverted back to that weird silence, but I didn't come back for that either.
"Was there something more you wanted to talk about?" I bit my lip hoping I'd get the answer I came here for.
"It's just…" She shifted straight up in her chair. "I've been trying this new thing where I impulsively do what I want to do, that's what got me here in Vancouver. Anyway, as eager as I am to be friends…we can't."
This guy right here, was a very confused man right about now. I didn't mean to scowl so hard but this threw me way back.
"We can't just be 'friends'. I don't want to be 'just friends'." She finished.
"So you don't want to lose me and you don't want to be 'just friends'. Does that mean you WANT to get back together?"
"Not really. I WANT to start over. Does that make any sense?" She asked with hopeful eyes.
"That makes perfect sense. I would love to start afresh and treat you the way you deserve to be treated. Not like the jerk I was in the beginning."
"I happened to like that jerk…I can't explain why." She grinned looking down at her twiddling thumbs.
"Are you knitting something over there?" I teased.
"What? Oh, my hands…I'm just a lil nervous."
I pushed my chair closer to her side and boldly placed my hand over hers. "Does this feel alright?"
She looked up at me and nodded; I knew she felt the same way I did.
"I can't get used to this new hair of yours."
"You don't like it do you?"
"I do it's just it makes you look so different." She confessed.
That's it. I was cutting it once I got back.
"How are we going to do this Brynn? I'm in Seattle now, you're in LA. I want us to work and am willing to do whatever it takes but…"
"But we will MAKE it work. Give it some time."
"Are we IT?" I asked all jokes aside. "You and me? No games and no one else this time." I leaned over and held both her hands.
Her face lit up at my forward gesture; she even bit her lip while smiling. That always meant that she wanted to kiss me, I did too but not this time… on our first date.
"Brynn, would you like to go out with me next Friday?"
"I would love to." She said leaning closer to me.
The temptation was handed over to me, she was only inches away. But I wanted to show her that I was different. So I remained still though my eyes bounced from her eyes to her lips. I could still remember what they felt like. They made my mouth water like a steak in front of a starved man.
"You're killing me." I whispered.
"Oh so it's working? It's nice to see I still have that effect on you." She grinned while raising a brow.
And we did that, we quoted each other all the time. That's how I knew we were back to us.
We talked for hours; I didn't care how late I had to drive back. I wished for Friday already, yet with the work I had ahead of me I knew it would come in a blink of an eye. She didn't want to let go of my hand, hell I didn't want her to either. Still I politely kissed the back of her hand and walked off very excited; looking back grinning when her eyes sparkled back at me.
The drive was extensive but offered plenty of time to think things through. Brynn and I had been texting back and forth and agreed to meet up when she got off of work at 5pm. That gave me plenty of time for a nap and haircut considering that I hadn't slept all night. I was determined to sweep her off her feet again, and with me was the perfect gift to initiate our relationship.
I returned to the spiky brown haired boy Brynn had first met at the beach, cleanly shaven and no hoodie this time. I busted out the good gear; my dark grey shirt with black pants and tie. It definitely made me look older, but tonight was special and I wanted her to see my effort.
I kept checking my watch, only a few minutes left to leave. My breathing accelerated, I was nervous but I wasn't going to admit that; no guy should have to admit that. Just thinking about her made me hot beneath the collar. I had to get out of the house and fast. I never thought I'd pull up to the loft again, now hers. I managed to make it up the stairs without breaking a drop of sweat…that is until she opened the door.
"Ahhh you cut your hair!" She shrieked and jumped to hug me. It felt good to get that reaction from her.
"I thought you would like that." I smiled confidently.
"You didn't have to do that for me, silly." Her face glistened and I caught sight of her red lips. Like a moving target, I remained locked.
"I did actually. Now I hope you appreciate it."
"I do, I do." She giggled.
"Let me see you." I smiled while raising her hand to turn her around.
She pulled me into her apartment first and then spun around so I could see her curve hugging black dress. My eyes zoomed in on each beautiful aspect of her body. It was so hard to keep it together; all I could do was tug at my collar.
"Well? You haven't said anything. You don't like it." She paused reading me all wrong.
I felt just as excited as that day in the airport when she came down the escalator, and we spent that amazing weekend in Hawaii. I was so eager to scream that I loved her, but the crowd kept getting in between us. All that emotion bottled up made me want to sprint a thousand flights of stairs.
"I can change, it will only take me a couple of minutes." She insisted.
Entranced, I smoothly and gently grabbed her neck. She already knew where this was going as I kissed her smiling lips, making me smile just the same.
"I take it the dress is good?"
"The dress is very good." I confirmed and kissed her again. "I missed those lips."
"Yeah..." She sighed. "You know we don't have to go out, we can eat here. I can cook us something in 15 minutes." She suggested.
My mind screamed YES! But that wasn't the plan for tonight. I had a great evening scheduled and I expected nothing less for her. I nodded and motioned for the door, not before extending my hand out. We looked good together. A very attractive couple I will arrogantly front any time.
We arrived at the restaurant a buddy of mine worked at. He hooked me up by reserving a table in the upstairs patio deck. I introduced him to Brynn, who seemed very impressed with the place. That was a good start. I would normally sit right across from my date but I chose to take the seat to her right; so much closer.
I ordered a bottle of wine and decided to jump right to my gift. I placed the wrapped box on the table in front of her and waited.
"Aaron, what's this?" She grinned and touched my arm.
"Consider it a belated birthday present." I said with a huge smile.
I watched her rip the purple paper off and glance at me like 'I shouldn't have but I'm glad you did anyway'. When she opened the box she gasped so hard I wasn't sure what she might say.
"Is this…Brynn's Pearl?" She asked regarding the necklace that now dangled from her hand. It did have a piece of the extravagant coral reef. How…
"Yes, but how did you know that?"
"I read about it." She said with great mystery and turned around so that I could latch it on.
"So all this time you knew?" I said amazed.
"Lilah sent me the magazine with your article. I couldn't believe it."
"Hmm…" She couldn't believe it, I was the one in disbelief. She knew and still hadn't gotten in touch with me. Maybe she thought to.
"It really triggered a lot of confusion for me as to how I should've responded, but I was going through a rough time with Terri..."
"Yeah I heard about what happened to him. I'm sorry Brynn, I'm sure that must have caused you a lot of pain; even if I didn't like the guy."
"I love it." She said holding the pendant in her hand.
She reached over for my cheek with her soft little hand and pulled me in for another kiss. I was glad that to some degree we had grown but not grown apart. We still fit together. Somehow we managed to eat and hold hands at the same time. I laughed a couple of times seeing her struggle to eat with her left hand but she didn't want to let go. And you can be sure I ordered a slice of their finest chocolate dessert, as was custom.
"How long are you staying for?"
"Just for the weekend; the latest I can leave is Monday."
"You should stay with me in the loft."
She should have known my wolf mask was going to show, my sly grin and the naughty thoughts came a calling.
"And when I mean stay I mean on the comfy couch. But I'm sure you already knew that." She finished with a cute smirk.
"See now why would you be throwing that invitation…you KNOW how my mind works." I reminded her.
"Right, that's why I said couch."
"No seriously, what's the catch? Do you need help with anything at your place…plumbing?"
She just released that cute giggle that made me smile every time.
"No silly. I just want to spend all the time with you I can before you have to go back. What better way than to hang out with each other all day."
"In our underwear? I'm just kidding, I'm just kidding." I said laughing but I had already received a blow to the arm.
I knew I crossed the line many times with the things I said to her, but I genuinely believed that she liked them. She would always blush and look away with this giant smile. I'm just waiting for the day when she'll start throwing some comments back at me.
Later that night when we went back to her place, I changed out of my dress clothes and we both were just relaxing on the sofa. I got a text alert and was afraid to see who it was from. When I got up to see it, alone, I grunted out of frustration.
"What's wrong?" Brynn asked innocently.
I rubbed my forehead very annoyed, trying to find the perfect wording to not ruin the moment. But I wanted to be completely honest with her.
"Can I ask you something? Do I come off as too flirtatious?"
"Yes!" She chuckled.
"No seriously. With you it's on purpose, but am I like that with others even when it's not my intention?"
Brynn curled up on the couch and noticed my worry. I sat next to her, ready to share my little story…which to me was no big deal.
"Well Aaron, you are a very attractive and likable guy…I mean people can misread friendliness I guess…what is this about?"
She placed her hand on my arm to demonstrate her concern.
"Last summer I came back to Long Beach to give a summer course at the university. I wanted to help out some students so I gave them my number and offered help during my open office hours. Point is one of the students started texting me for every question she had. And that was alright at first, but then she'd try to deviate to more friendly talk…and although I was single I wasn't interested and to top that off she was my student you know?" I explained, but I felt Brynn's hand start to slip off.
"Did something happen between you two?" I saw that she was now worried.
"No no! You have nothing to worry about. Just hear me out…I've tried telling her that if it's regarding the material or anything science related its fine but that I was seeing someone. It was a lie but I just wanted her to get the hint."
"So was that her texting you now?"
"Yeah." I held my head; I was running out of 'nice' solutions. I gave Brynn my phone so she could see the text threads.
"So why didn't you just change your number?" She asked.
I looked at Brynn hoping she would read me as we so easily did. But she needed a little help.
"I couldn't. A part of me hoped you would call me some day…"
Like butter she melted and wrapped her hands around my arm again. "Have you tried blocking her number?"
"Yes, and then I'll get another random number saying it's her and that there must be something wrong with my phone..."
"Simple, now I'm here. We can go get that new number first thing tomorrow!"
"I didn't ruin anything between us did I?"
"Of course not! I am a little jealous though. I never had a stalker before." She giggled again.
I shook my head and remembered her weakness. I began to tickle her around her ribs and she squirmed uncontrollably.
"Okay Okay! Mercy!" She cried.
"That won't be the last time you cry out for mercy…just so you know." I winked at her. "So tell me again, what were you picturing when you said 'start over'? Because us here in our sleepwear doesn't really strike me as friendly casual date."
"But it's us. And it's…unconventional?"
"How about we use the word eccentric or unique better?" I said wrapping my arm around her waist pulling her closer.
"Whatever you think suits us best."
Brynn laid her head on my shoulder and pulled my hand to her lap. There we sat in silence for a couple of minutes, playing thumb wars or something in the likes. I gave her small kisses on her hand and looked at her from the corner of my eye.
"This feels so surreal." I said quietly.
"I know, but it almost feels as though we are continuing where we left off…but in a better place." She added in the same tone.
"Like our connection was never broken..." I said squeezing her hand.
There was something about Brynn that made me open up. I wasn't normally into speaking the mushy gushy stuff that I did with her. But this was REAL and somehow I needed to take the next steps so that we could be together, because I wasn't about to take the risk in jeopardizing our relationship over unnecessary long distance again.