“Who do you think that girl with him yesterday was?”
“They seem kinda close. Think they’re going out? I never heard him saying he had a girlfriend though.”
“You don’t know? I heard he’s a playboy. Maybe it’s one of the girls he’s playing with.”
“Really? He’s kind of cute, though…”
“It’s because he’s ‘cute’.”
Perhaps he shouldn’t have chosen that bar for their meeting up this time. There were too many people he knew—people who knew him—that frequented the place. But he thought he was going to arrive before her; that was why he wasn’t expecting to see her already there—talking with an acquaintance of his who happened to be there as well.
The odd thing was—upon hearing what they were conversing about, he opted to listening in instead of showing himself.
“… you were the one I saw in the club few weeks ago, right? I remember your hair was tied up back then.”
“Oh. Uh, yeah. That was me.”
“Nice. You’re meeting up with him again today?”
“I see.” Here, the tone got hushed down, he had to strain his hearing a bit. “Say… are you two going out or something? Sorry if I sound nosy, but…”
“We… well, we hang out together from time to time. We used to go to same school.”
“Oh. I was just curious because… I don’t know if you’ve heard—but he often go out with many girls.”
What was it exactly in her tone? Was it surprise? Disappointment? He tried to peek, without appearing too obvious.
“In case you didn’t know—,”
“I see. Thank you.”
She didn’t even appear fazed.
“… Did you—were you listening to that?” She appeared flustered now that his acquaintance gone and he showed himself. “She said she knows you. Do you really know her?”
“Yeah.” He found himself smiling a little meek. “Do you want to get dinner somewhere else?”
She didn’t refuse, and they moved from the bar to find another place. They settled in a pizzeria. Done ordering their food, he finally spoke up,
“What do you think?”
She raised her brows.
“About what she told you.”
“Oh. That. Sounds rude.”
He paused. “I mean… do you believe it?”
She tilted her head, giving him that look for a moment. “Is it true?”
For some reason, he found his voice stuck. He had to clear his throat before he could answer, “It’s not wrong, I suppose.”
“… That’s all?”
“… I don’t want to judge you. I don’t know if I’m any better.”
“… You… often go out with other guys too?”
“Ah, no, that’s not what I mean.” She smiled apologetically, waving her hand. “I mean… it’s not the first time a guy asked me out. But I never could accept their feelings… just like I am with you now. I’m… often afraid to make the commitment. That’s why I haven’t been able to reply your feelings too. I… I’m afraid of things.”
He didn’t have words to reply that. He just found himself staring and staring. Until a thought dawned upon him.
Their orders came, they ate in silence. In the end of their dinner, however, he broke that silence.
“Do you want to come over to my place?”
She halted, her eyes went wide in questioning look.
He offered her a mellow smile. “I just want to talk more with you.”
“… Will there be cookies and ice ream?”
This broke out his grin. “Sure. All you can eat.”
So he drove her to his place. For the third time, she was there. Again, he took out the ice cream and the cookies. Again, the look on her face as she took her first spoon of the frozen treat warmed his heart.
“… I just thought perhaps we are alike, after all.”
“Hm?” She looked up from her ice cream.
He just smiled.
“This… is dangerous.”
Perhaps audio book wasn’t her thing. Or perhaps the book just wasn’t her genre. She fell asleep again on the couch—this time her head fell on his shoulder. From then on, the audio book turned into mere white noise to him.
He had been keeping his promise. At one point, he realized he couldn’t break it—couldn’t afford the risk of crossing her line and trust. And every moment like this, when he could get close to touch her like this—moments like this became something so precious and fragile at the same time.
Cautiously, he circled an arm around her shoulder. Pulling her closer, he took a deep breath and letting it out with sighed words: “I’ve been waiting too long for this.”
How many months had it been now? It wasn’t yet a year. But he couldn’t remember himself chasing one girl for this long before. Most relationships he had had in the past usually started and ended quickly. It became a kind of wild ride, and wild ride was what he came to get used to. Just like how people love to ride rollercoaster.
But it was different with her. He found out that their dance wasn’t quite the same with what he had known, he found himself taking a set of steps that were slightly different. He invested too much time, too much of himself before he knew it. He never fully put his heart out on the line. Now he saw that she was the same—yet she did it differently.
How, exactly? He could only wonder.
Had she grown too comfortable with him? Sometimes she wondered. He just loved to pamper her so much, and somehow she found it hard to reject. She never admitted it, but she wouldn’t be able to deny that she liked it too when he showered her with affection.
When she came to, the room was dark and quiet. Her mind slowly rewound the events that led her here… until she was having her back on the couch with him sprawled on her. That particular realization chased away her sleepiness in an instant.
There was a moment of rising alarm. Then it slowed down to an awkwardness. She looked down at the sleeping man. Should she wake him up? What time was it?
She spent minutes agonizing over what decision to make. Eventually, her mind got distracted and she ended up merely staring at him. She realized that she never seen him asleep before.
Gingerly, she put her arms around him. Her hand fell behind his head, and she stroked his hair for a bit. He stirred, she froze. But he didn’t wake—she just felt him holding her back in his sleep.
And she finally asked herself, a question she had repeated over and over again; did she like this man, the way he liked her? If it were with him, would she finally find the courage to commit into a relationship? That girl she met in bar said he was a player. He didn’t deny it either. But for months now, he had been so loyal to her…
“Nothing lasts forever,” so the saying goes. She remembered him replied that night, “We live in the moment.” She didn’t approve of his words about only taking from each other in a relationship. But somehow, she felt like he hadn’t been taking as much from her either—if that first time incident of canceled dinner was to be excluded.
So just what was she supposed to do with him? She didn’t dare to guess, still too scared to decide. For once, she hoped time would stop so she could simply enjoy the moment; this bitter-sweet moment in which they were simply being together.