Daniel and I were getting ready to go out tonight and I spent the whole week figuring out how to tell him what happened. I kept telling myself that it was a moment that was out of my control but I didn’t want Daniel getting unnecessarily angry at me. I know he knows Brad, they’ve rolled in the same rich circles before, so there’s a good possibility Daniel could hunt him down and hurt the guy. Not that I’d stand in the way, Brad is starting to remind me of the less horrifying version of the affluenza kid. A person that’s so ignorant in knowing actions have consequences.
I was chilling with Jenny in my living room when I told her what happened.
“Don’t even worry about it,” she replied.
I tensed. “Daniel has gotten into fights over things like this before,” I told her.
She shrugged. “So? Maybe he’s changed now.”
“But what if he hasn’t?”
“What does it matter?” she laughed. “Relax. You’re so tense. Daniel might not think anything of it.”
“Mmm I don’t know.” He really fucking hates Brad.
“I do. Some random has a picture of you and him taken in a suggestive way to have headlines going crazy doesn’t sound like he’s trying to get at Daniel.”
“Well, then why would he get at me?” I scrunched my face in confusion and thought. I’d done nothing but push this douchebag’s book out for all to see. He should be doing nothing but kissing the back of my hand.
“Maybe he likes you,” she nudged her elbow against my arm.
“Yeah, sure, even if that’s true I don’t think that’s a way to a girl’s heart.”
“It could be. It’s that elementary school mentality. The kid pulls the girl’s braids because he likes her. He’s pulling on your braids.”
“Ugh, thanks for that image.”
Jenny giggled. “No problem.”
I leaned over and filled up a second glass of wine for her. Yes, it’s pre-drinks before Daniel gets here. “What about you and Danny-boy? What are you guys still doing only having sex?”
“That’s the best part of our relationship. No strings attached, like mama told me, ‘don’t get married’.”
How awkward would it be if Daniel came to propose to me right in front of Jenny right now? “She actually told you that.”
Jenny nodded. “Last time I spoke to her she had a whole lot to say about commitment. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, she’d been divorced and bitter for so long, it’s like—” she shrugged— “whatevs.”
“You don’t talk to her anymore?”
She shook her head, staring straight at the TV. “Nah. I had to let go and let live. And then, boom, she passed away.”
I lifted my brows. “Oh.”
“Yeah, didn’t even get the chance to tell her how much of a good mother she was, despite everything else,” she took a sip of her wine. I remained quiet. “I told this to Danny-boy and he was really cool about it. So supportive. We talked all night. You think that’s a good sign he could be, you know, boyfriend material.”
“Well, were you being yourself through and through?”
“I’d never been more myself in my life than when I was around him.”
I smiled. “I reckon you should see where it goes.” I shrugged. “It can be great.”
“Something like what you have with Daniel?”
I smiled wider, switching my eyes to the TV as she looked at me. “Yeah. It’s pretty fucking awesome. Home sweet home.”
In the evening, Daniel was running a half hour late and he’s usually quite punctual. I tried calling him but he wouldn’t answer. I was about to hitch a ride to his place but Jenny told me to stay put, just in case he came here.
“Maybe his phone died,” Jenny shrugged, well over an hour into Daniel’s lateness. She was staying until Daniel came.
I shook my head. “No, it’s definitely not dead. Even if it was he’d—” the phone started ringing and I answered quickly. “Daniel?”
“Hey, babe,” he huffed and puffed. The wind hitting the phone.
“Where are you? Are you okay?”
“Yeah, sorry I got caught up.”
“Work. I came straight home and got to working again and I completely forgot, I’m so sorry.”
I sighed in relief. “Oh, okay. That’s okay. When do you think you’ll get here?” I checked the time. “Our reservation is nearing.” It was practically there but I’d hoped they do exceptions.
“Hey, meet me there?”
I jumped off the couch. “Okay! See you soon.”
I fumbled for my black clutch and nude flats. Jenny was already pushing me out telling me she’ll lock up and not to worry. I don’t know why she’d think I’d be worried, there’s nothing in my crappy apartment worth stealing except my laptop…and my shoes…and my jewellery….okay, there’s a few things in there worth stealing, but I’m not worried is my point.
Half way into the cab ride Daniel texted me telling me he was jogging up to the place now. I tucked my cell into my clutch and waited until I was dropped off on the corner and started running, presumably in the same direction as Daniel had been moments ago.
I saw Daniel pacing from side to side without hurry. His phone up against his ear, I’m assuming he was calling me. He noticed me running, and then I slowed down when I knew.
“Closed,” he smiled, raising his hands outwards and then shaking his head. “Sorry.”
I smiled back, coming into a hug. “That’s alright.” I pulled back and kissed him. “Another night. Let’s go.” I took his hand but he pulled me back.
“Oh, hold on. We can still have dinner at a fabulous restaurant.”
“All the restaurants are definitely booked out, Daniel. Let’s go.” I started to walk but he pulled me back again. I smiled. “What is it?”
He grinned, crushing his lips onto mine in front of a man stacking the chairs. His hands warm around my waist. “You’re going to like this restaurant.”
We sat on the steps of the New York Public Library eating a large, saucy, chessy, pizza. Soda drink in a plastic cup perched on the cement next to the pizza box and Daniel and I huddled together.
“This is a five star fucking meal right here. Am I right, or am I right?” Daniel boasted.
I rolled my eyes, chewing on a large bite. “You’re right.”
Daniel chuckled. “That’s right. Best part is passion is for dessert.” He winked.
I giggled, nearly choking on the piece I was in the middle of swallowing. “No one gets that at NOBU.” Daniel laughed with me. A lull appeared and I decided to take this opportunistic moment to tell Daniel about the picture. I tend to tell people bad things in good moods so they don’t get too angry with me. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has done that so don’t judge. “So, umm, I have to tell you something.” Daniel looked up at me, his face expectant and without worry. Jeesh, I just pick the perfect moments, don’t I? “Brad took a picture of me.” A crinkle appeared between Daniel’s brows and I immediately heard what I just said and the implication it has. “No, no, no,” I vehemently shook my head, “not what I meant.” I started to explain to him in full detail, until the very end. “It was the day you stripped at that club, remember?”
Daniel nodded solemnly. He wasn’t giving me any signs of a reaction besides neutral. He was looking into the distance, not saying anything, and it was killing me. He turned back at me and smiled. “You got sauce on your lips.”
“Huh? Oh.” I grabbed a napkin and wiped. “You’re not saying anything about the picture thing.”
He shrugged. “Probably because there’s nothing to say. Brad will do anything to have fun. I know the guy. And I know you. He was just being same old asshole Brad. Nothing new.” I started chortling. “What?” he asked.
“Nothing, I just thought,” I shook my head once, “I thought you’d be mad.”
“I’m mad at him. For putting you in a weird position at work if this gets out.” Oh, I hadn’t even thought of that. I figured David hadn’t seen it and therefore won’t. It never crossed my mind that he could. “I’m not mad at you.”
I nodded. “I’m glad.” I really was. I guess he was cooler than I gave him credit.
“Anyway, now that’s aside.” Daniel stood, holding his hand out for me. “Come I want to show you something.”
“Daniel,” I whispered, “are we even allowed to be here?”
“It’s okay. I promise.”
“How did she even trust you with the key? I’m pretty sure agents can’t just hand them out to anyone.”
“She trusts me,” he simply replied. “Plus she knows where I live and how to track me so if anything goes wrong, I’m in the shit and she’ll know just where to find me.” I heard a thudding on the wall. Daniel musing and then, “Ah, here it is.”
A little click echoed and the lights switched on. I was staring at a loft space, hardwood floorboards, and white walls all the way around until going in further and to the far right showed one wall with white bricks, floor to ceiling. The kitchen was just off the entryway and the bathroom and shower were next to the white brick wall.
“I reckon this can be the en suite.” Daniel pointed. “the bed will be here—” he made a rectangle with his hands right in front of the white brick wall— “and we’ll cut off the bedroom with one or two cube shelving units and put books, candles, a plant, anything to fill it up.” Then he turned around and pointed again. “Living room and television will be here—” he went to the far end of the room— “kitchen next to us with, of course, an island top. It’s a little smaller than my own but at least it’s not connected to the other kitchen bench top, which makes it appear bigger. We can put the dining set right between the bedroom and living room. Best part is—” he pointed at the large windows— “during the day, the sun will be peaking into this room like little rays of buttery light. The angle of this apartment allows for that. We’ve also got a little part of the window we can sit at, we’ll of course put cushions there. And there’s also enough room on the fire-escape to put a couch big enough for two to sit outside and stare at the stars. I’m not even sure if that’s legal, but, it’ll be nice. Just you and me.”
“Umm…” I scanned the room to the areas he was picturing all this furniture.
“I—I don’t know if you didn’t want a loft space or not, but I thought it was pretty nice and spacious enough for us two and…and,” he licked his lips nervously, it was so adorable, “it’s within our budget, give or take a hundred, maybe less.
I silently took another glance around the room.
“Soooo what do you think?” he asked. “It’s totally fine if you don’t like it. I don’t mind if we keep looking or not. I’ve already made up my mind but it’s up to you and I want you to be a part of this.” He held both my hands.
“Daniel,” I breathed. I’d never felt more wanted to be involved in the aspect of decision making in a relationship than right now. I felt so loved I could barely breathe but in a good way. “Sometimes I just think I’m so crazy lucky to have you.”
He smiled, stroking my cheek. I gripped the back of his neck and pulled him towards me, my lips hungry for him now in this very moment than I’d ever been in my life. The start of a relationship is always one of the best things to feel, but when that relationship evolves into something greater, that is what I live for. Building a life together. That is what I have with Daniel.