“What’s this?” I asked when he handed me two rectangular boxes.
“Birth control and Plan B.” He answered. “I thought you’d need these after the unprotected sex we had last night.”
“Thanks.” I took it from him and read the instructions.
“The plan B you only have to take twice, there’s only two pills in there. Take it now and the second one after twelve hours. But you have to take the birth control regularly.” He explained.
I nodded my head and he handed me a bottled water. I took the pill out of the blister pack, popped it in my mouth, and downed it with water. Callum and I planned to have dinner at a restaurant downtown. Mrs. Keri let me out of work early, she told me she’d be fine on her own and that I should go out every once in a while. I didn’t bring my car with me as Callum said he’d pick me up after work.
Was it wrong that I found solace in him? I wasn’t expecting my life to change overnight. Just when I thought that there was no place that knew how to help me. That I was too broken in many places to even be fix, I met him.
“What are you looking at?” He took a quick glance at me as he drove and chuckled.
I shook my head and rested my chin over to his shoulder. I pressed a gentle kiss on his jaw and smiled. “Thank you, Callum.”
“For what?” His brows furrowed.
“For everything. For listening to me and for trying to understand me.”
“It’ll always be a pleasure.” He winked at me, turning his head to kiss my forehead. “So what are you in the mood for tonight? Where do you want to eat?”
“Surprise me.” I smiled.
He took me to a french restaurant in Palo Alto. The restaurant had a very romantic atmosphere and a cozy feel to it. We were greeted by the receptionist and Callum chose to be sitted on the table outside of the restaurant. The sun was just about set and the weather outside was nice. It wasn’t cold at all as it had been days ago. The golden hour was just about to disappear into the sky. The setting sun tinted everything the light could reach soft red. It was so beautiful.
We were given a menu. I ordered a duck confit and Callum ordered salad and steak and a bottle of wine for us. Our order were served after a couple of minutes. By that time, the sun had already disappeared and it was already dark outside. Everything looked even more beautiful at night. Everything was brightly lit and it was as though the whole downtown was inhabited by fireflies- bright and shining.
“The food’s delicious.” I commented as we ate.
He shook his head and grin. “It isn’t as delicious as you.”
“Callum.” My eyes widened as I looked around to see if anyone was near enough to hear us. “You jerk! Mamaya may makarinig sa’yo. Nakakahiya.”
He let out a delicious chuckle. “They don’t care.”
“Well I do!” I shrieked.
“Oh Audrey, you’re so refreshing.” He leaned back against his seat. “You’re unlike any girl other girl I’ve ever met.”
“Siguro marami ka nang babaeng ‘nakilala’.” My eyes narrowed at him as I took a sip of wine.
“Wait? Are you jealous?” His grin grew even bigger.
“Why would I be?” I defensively said.
“I don’t know. You tell me.” He laughed.
“I am not jealous.” My voice was as tensed as my body. “Why would I be? We’re not even in any sort of relationship.”
“So does that mean I could still see other women?” He folded his arms over his chest.
I shrugged and took another sip of wine. The thought of him seeing another woman made my stomach churn. “Nasa sa’yo yan.”
“Okay lang sa’yo na may kahati ka sa akin?” His brows lifted up.
“I don’t get to decide on that.” My face involuntarily crumpled. “Look, we’re just having…” I swallowed and whispered. “…sex. Nothing more, nothing less. I’m not asking for exclusivity. I don’t care much about what goes on with your life outside the bedroom. You can date around all you want. I mean, as long we’re not hurting anyone then we’re good.”
“I have no desire to see any other woman.” His expression shifted into a serious one. He took my hand in his and kissed it. “You’re all I need.”
Much as I tried, I couldn’t keep myself from smiling at what he said. I shook my head, pressing my lips together so my smile wouldn’t show. “Cal, tama na sa akin kung anuman ang meron tayo. You’ve given back a pieces of me they took away. I know I still haven’t truly recovered but you’ve been a big help. I just want to get back to the old me…”
He bent down to kiss my hand again, not taking his gaze away from me. There was a gentle glint in his dark eyes that revealed a soft, gentler side of him. “Stop trying to be the person you were before the trauma. It’ll only exhaust and frustrate you. It’s okay if you’ve changed.”
I let out a deep sigh, his words sinking into me. “But it shouldn’t be this way. It’s not normal. What I want and feel are not normal.”
“Audrey, there’s no set rule book for how you should be after a trauma. You’ll heal in your own way, phase, and time. And I want so badly to help you.” He huffed. “Just look at you, you’re a girl who’s holding the whole world on her shoulder… the world!”
My eyes lowered. “Sometimes I wish I could go back in time. I ask myself all the time, why I didn’t listen to Mama and Dad. Why did I sneak out that night? Why did I got to that club? And out of all the people in there, why me? Siguro ibang-iba ang uhay ko ngayon. I wouldn’t be this mess that I am now. I have a lot of baggage. Don’t you get tired of me?”
“No and I never will. You have to promise me you won’t go through anything alone again. You have me now and I want to be with you althroughout. I know sometimes it’s still hard to let me see you in all your vulnerabilities but know that even in nights when you just want to collapse into my arms and your body’s broken into a thousand why’s, you still are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”
I felt my heart swell with the feeling I had never felt before. It felt as though he’d ripped off the band-aid I’d placed on my soul and exposed it so he could stitch it back together for it to properly heal.
“Thank you.” I said, almost inaudible. “Maraming nagbago sa akin simula ng makilala kita. You gave hope when I need it the most. I don’t know how I can ever repay you.”
“Hindi ako humihingi sa’yo ng kahit ano’ng kapalit. I just want you to be better. Like you, I was broken too but it doesn’t mean you can’t be whole again. I wish I could carry your demon so you wouldn’t have to.”
We decided to go for a walk after having our dinner. We were walking on the sidewalk, passing by the boutiques that were lined up on the street. It was starting to get cold but still bearable for an autumn night. His hand reached for mine and held it as we walked, our fingers interlocked with each other. I felt warm all over as he held me.
“I didn’t have a good childhood, Audrey.” He let out a deep breath. “Our family only looked good on the outside. We were a poster family to those who knew us but nobody knew what was going on behind closed doors. My father was very abusive to my mother, my sister, and I. My mother was no good either. She’d just looked the other way everytime our father hurt us. She was a self-centered woman who lacks the ability to care about anyone but herself. Ang kapatid ko lang noon ang kakampi ko. I vividly remember the time when I accidentally spilt a glass of juice on my Dad. I was walking around with the glass in my hand and I ran into him. He was so furious he punched me in the face. I was a little kid back then. A little kid. Can you imagine that? That punch left a huge bruise on my face. I still remember how much it hurt and how hard I cried. My mother heard me and came rushing to me. She grew frustrated when I wouldn’t stop crying and dragged me to the pantry and there she locked me. It was dark in there and I barely had any room to move. I was hurt, scared, and I felt alone. It was a scary feeling for a five year old.”
“Oh Callum…” I could feel the lump forming in my throat while listening to his story. “I’m so sorry.”
“My sister was the one who opened the door. She was the one who cleaned my bruise. She was the only one who cared.”
“I care…” I silently said, squeezing his hand to try to comfort him. “Nandito na ako at hindi kita iiwan katulad ng hindi mo pag-iwan sa akin.”
He turned his head to me and smiled with a twinkle in his eyes. It was like seeing stars in that pair of dark holes.
“I was in an abusive home from the day I was born to when I was eighteen. What I’m really trying to say is that people could survive most things. It doesn’t have to do with being strong, it’s just that there isn’t really any choice.” He explained. “I turned my attention to music. During that time, it was what helped me cope.”
I wanted to wrap my arms around him and hugged the pain away. That was one thing I had never experienced. I grew up in a very loving family. I had never once been hit by my Dad. I had wonderful parents who loved us with all their hearts. I could feel the heaviness, the pain he’d gone through while growing up.
“In the face of pain, maybe we’re all just the same.” I said.
He looked at me with his dark, dark eyes and I felt a deeper connection. We understood the things that haunted each other. Something we never really share with other people.
We walked some more until we pulled up to one of the boutiques. The store’s name was Good Vibration. At first, I had no idea what kind of boutique it was and what they were selling but as soon as I stepped inside the store, I couldn’t help but gasp.
“What are we doing here?” I whispered as if we were in the library.
“Why are you blushing?” He gave me a teasing grin. I could, indeed, feel my cheeks heating. “We’re just going to look around and see what we need.”
I clutched tightly on his arm, almost burying my face into his shoulder. He casually walked about the store as if looking for a shirt in a department store.
“Can I help you with anything?” A gothic looking woman with red hair came up to us.
“We’re looking for a restraint for bondage.” Said Callum. I didn’t know how he managed to say that without flinching while I wanted the ground to swallow me whole.
“It’s right over here.” She pointed. “We have cuffs, collars, hog ties. If you need anything else, I’ll be behind the counter.”
“Thanks.” Callum simply said.
There were all kinds of restraints I had never even imagined before. I didn’t even know what Callum grabbed as I was too embarrassed to look at it. The next thing I knew, he was already holding a basket full of ‘toys’.
“Have you ever used a vibrator?” He asked.
“Um… no.” I swallowed.
“Do you want to give it a try?”
I bit my bottom lip, not knowing what to answer.
“You don’t have to be ashamed of anything. I want you to be comfortable with your sexuality. It’s okay if you don’t want to.”
“Okay, I’m going to try.” Nahihiya pa rin na sabi ko.
He smiled. “That’s the spirit.”
I couldn’t help but chuckle at the silliness of all these and he laughed too. The awkwardness went away the longer we stayed in there. Callum walked up to the counter to check out all the items he picked.
Why was I suddenly excited to go home?