“So things are obviously going well with you and Daniel.”
In an effort to keep the peace I decided to catch up with Derek outside of the restaurant. To passers-by, we could have looked like acquaintances. I didn’t know how it felt with Derek but to me, it almost did feel like we were acquaintances. As if we had just met. Can two people meet for the first time…again?
I nodded after the comment. “Yes, well, it is possible for two people to patch things up I guess.”
Derek tilted his head. “You guys had some sort of tiff?”
I lifted my right foot and tapped the pavement with my heel. My arms were crossed over my chest, unwaveringly avoiding having any physical contact with Derek. I wanted this little session to be short and sweet.
I shrugged and then arched an eyebrow. “Well…you know…”
Derek looked up in the direction of the corner of his eyes, in thought, and then back to me. “Nothing new. That I know of.”
Had I told him? Had I not? Had I ever told Nikki who could have told him? Could I have not? I was so confused about who knew and who didn’t.
I shook my head. “Never mind.”
Derek narrowed his eyes in wonder and then widened them in realisation. A smirk slowly making its appearance on his lips. “Did something happen between the two of you?”
I could feel myself becoming irate, and I knew my neck was filling up with a pool of red. “Are you enjoying yourself?”
Derek held up his hands, palms facing me. “Sorry, I didn’t know.”
“Well don’t rub my face in it,” I said, “we’re working things out.”
Barely. I didn’t care what he thought, but I was trying to convince myself too. I needed us to be as repaired as possible.
“And you thing going for round two is a good way to go?”
“I’ll never know what is right and wrong. But at least I know I’ve tried.”
Derek scoffed. “If it didn’t work out the first time, then there’s a chance second time round is going to be just the same.”
“There’s a chance it won’t be,” I quickly rebutted.
Derek nodded in polite silence. “Maybe you’ll prove me wrong then.”
We stood before each other, in some L.A stand off on the sidewalk. No one caring to even give us a second look.
The doors of the restaurant then opened and out came Daniel, walking to my side.
“Come on, Anna,” he said, “food’s getting cold.”
“We’re not finished talking, guy,” Derek said.
Daniel grabbed my forearm, and through it I could feel his warm palm and his hand shaking. “I’m saying you are,” he replied coldly to Derek. He was holding back with such intensity that he was practically on edge.
Derek laughed. “Anna, are you going to let this guy control you like this?”
Daniel remained silent, letting go of my arm. I looked at him and saw that he was apprehensive of a negative reaction to him holding my arm. I slightly shook my head, trying to tell him that it wasn’t that way for me. I hooked my arm through Daniel’s as he shoved his hand into his pocket.
Daniel could never be that kind of guy; and for some reason, whether it be the truth in Derek’s eyes or some sort of vendetta, Derek just couldn’t see that. Honestly though, what did it matter to me? They were never fond of each other from the very beginning.
“I really should be getting back,” I said.
Derek shook his head. “I don’t get it with you.”
“You don’t have to,” I said. “Listen, I really should be getting back. We’re celebrating inside and I don’t want to miss out.”
Derek shrugged, looking at me quizzically. “So that’s it? This guy says jump and you say ‘how high?’?”
“Hey man,” Daniel said, “she’s not like that, and if you knew her in any kind of way you’d know that.”
This seemed to silence Derek. He looked back and forth between Daniel and I, and I could feel that he was struggling with a good comeback.
“Anna?” I turned to Daniel. “Let’s go or…?”
I nodded. I wanted to go back with him, be rid myself of Derek. It was always so confusing with Derek. A back and forth mishap of communication. But for some reason, it always ended with me wanting to remove myself from his presence.
“Let’s go,” I replied.
I turned around, starting for the door when Derek grabbed me by the shoulder. “Hey, wait a minute.”
His hand on my shoulder startled me, and I gasped out of his range.
“What do you want, Derek!?” I asked.
“Get away from her,” Daniel said, placing me behind him as he inched forward.
Derek showed a snivelling sneer. “Fuck you, man,” he said, pushing Daniel (and actually pushing Daniel into me in the process).
Before I could register the seriousness of the situation, Daniel quickly retaliated by throwing a right hook. The audible and dull smack to the jaw practically hurt me! Derek lost his footing and hunched over, placing his palm over the point of impact.
“You know what,” Derek said, regaining his balance as a patch of red starting forming over his ivory skin, “you two deserve each other. See you around.”
We watched him walk away into the darkness. Daniel shook his hand. “Shit that hurt a lot more than I was expecting.”
“You’d think from the stories I’ve heard you’d have been used to it by now.”
Daniel rolled his eyes. “Contrary to popular belief, I’m not always the catalyst when it comes to fights. Plus, I don’t think a person should be used to it unless they’re, I don’t know, an actual boxer or UFC fighter or something.”
I looked at his hand, his knuckles ranging from red to white depending on the tenseness of his clenched fist. I kissed his knuckles.
“I’m sorry,” Daniel said.
“For that. For acting like that. For hitting him. It was wrong of me. I don’t ever want you thinking that I’m—“
I placed a finger onto his lips. “It’s okay. I don’t think of you that way. He pissed you off,” I shrugged, “I think I get it.”
“It wasn’t just now,” Daniel said. “I can’t get over what I wanted…what I thought was best…when he came into play and I…I was just an idiot. I know it wasn’t his fault, at least not entirely, but his always vying for you isn’t exactly helping the situation.”
“Yeah?” he grazed his lips along my cheek, and down to my jaw line, placing sweet pecks here and there.
I manoeuvred the angle of my head until I was met with his lips. “We should go back inside,” I whispered after the light suction of our lips resounded when we parted.
He kissed me again. “I’ll go where you go.”
I smiled. “You’re so sappy.”
“No,” Daniel shook his head, “I’m just in love with you.”
After dinner, Daniel and I headed back home while Chloe gave us some room by going back out with an enthusiastic Janet. Who, by the way, was way too excited to end the night when the dinner date finished and was begging for Chloe, Jodie and Stanley to go out, further into the night.
After changing into my boxers and tank, and Daniel just slipping into his boxers, we lay down on my bed in the dim cast of the moonlight. Half of my body lay onto half of Daniel’s torso, my head rested on his shoulder. He twirled my hands in his, and his in mine.
“I was thinking,” I began.
“I just wonder how we can work out if we just keep doing what we did before.”
“What do you mean?”
I sighed. “I don’t want to give credibility to what Derek said but, I don’t want our second chance to be without improvement.”
“What improvements would you like to see?”
“So we’re starting with me are we?” I smiled.
Daniel chuckled. “Yeah, I guess so. One by one, if you’d like.”
I nodded. “One by one.”
I turned around so I was lying on my stomach, my hand on his chest and my chin placed on my forearm, keeping my head in place and in line with Daniel’s eyesight.
“I want you to be faithful.”
Daniel closed his eyes, flaring his nostrils. “I regret the day, and every day after.”
“I’m sorry, it’s just—”
“I know,” Daniel said, opening his eyes and smiling at me, “you’re just making it crystal clear. I respect that.”
“Now you’re turn.”
“Yeah, okay,” Daniel said, exhaling a large sum of air. “I want you to be with me.”
I grinned. “Well that’s easy enough. I was nervous for a second there.”
Daniel curved the corner of his mouth upwards. “No I mean,” he continued, he brushed away the dark hair from my face, “I want you to be with me. In New York. I want you to move in with me.”
I blinked in surprise. My heart racing, my mouth drying, my head spinning. “Daniel?”
“I know we just got back together,” he said, swiftly, “and I don’t expect you to immediately pack up and leave. But I feel like, if we truly want to make this work, then we’d be together. Not only faithfully but physically. I love you so much, and I know you love me as much as I love you.” I nodded. He gulped and then continued, “So I ask you, will you move in with me by this year’s end?”