“Hey beautiful.” Startled, I dropped the key to my car and let out a shriek. I turned my head to see him leaning against the hood while holding a bouquet in one hand. He chuckled, his laugh deep and hearty.
“Callum! What are you doing there?” I asked, putting a hand over my chest.
“Bringing you flowers.” He said while walking up to me.
“What for?” I asked, pressing my lips together to stop myself from smiling.
“For being beautiful.” He smiled cheekily, his eyes wrinkling.
“That was so corny.” I couldn’t help but laugh.
“I’m trying okay?” He frowned.
“Well atlest you tried.” I shrugged and chuckled.
“How do we do this?”
“This. In the Philippines the man courts the woman he likes, right? He said with a tone of embarrassment.
My brows lifted and I couldn’t help but laugh. I didn’t mean to laugh. I suddenly just felt butterflies in my tummy. I remember feeling this way back when I was in college. When my crush asked me out. It was nice to feel this normal again.
“Anong nakakatawa sa sinabi ko?” His face flushed.
“Nothing.” I shook my head and then took the bouquet from him. “Sige na. Thank you so much for the flowers. I appreciate your effort, Dr. Francois.”
“You’re very much welcome, Ms. None of your business.” He winked. “I hope you don’t have any plans for tonight. I’d like to take you out to dinner.”
“How do I know you won’t be recording our conversation?” My eyes narrowed at him suspiciously.
He dug into his pocket and took out his phone. “Here you can have this while we’re together.” And then he lifted both his arms and grinned. “You can do a pat down search on me if you want.”
“I think I’’ll just keep this until later.” I took the phone from him. I rolled my eyes and shook my head with a smile on my face. “I can’t believe you’re a professional psychiatrist.”
“Let’s go grab something. I’m starving. Kanina pa kita hinihintay lumabas.” He rubbed his belly.
“Fine” I laughed a little. We went to a drive thru and ordered some tacos and burritos from Taco Bell and we ate at a parking lot. Nothing fancy, really. Then I followed behind his car and he took me to this cute outdoor cinema. He laid out a blanket over the grass and we sat there and began eating out Tacos.
“Too bad hindi natin naumpisahan ang movie.” He said, popping the burritos in his mouth and taking a huge bite from it.
“It’s fine. I’ve already seen this movie.” I said. A Walk To Remember was the movie that was playing on the screen. A woman a few feet in front of us stood up and ran and the guy she was with ran after her. “She broke up with him. She loves him but they’ve been together for so long and she’s starting to question if life with him is the life she wants to have for the rest of her life.”
“What?” Callum asked.
“The guy and the girl.” I said.
“Were you eavesdropping? How did you know?”
“I don’t. I mae up stories in my head sometimes.” I said. “The woman will go away and try to find herself but eventually, she’ll realize that she belongs with him.”
“And they’ll live happily ever after?”
I nodded my head and let out a bitter smile. “Who wouldn’t want a happy ending? My mom used to read us fairytales when my sister and I were little. I’ve always loved them. It’s funny because I try to create happy endings for strangers in my head yet I can’t even imagine one for myself. It just feels too out of reach, too hard to get, too hopeless.”
“That’s not true. Infact, I think those happily ever stories, they weren’t created for princesses. They were created for those who have collected broken pieces of themselves. Fairytales were written for you, Audrey. All of them.” He grabbed me by the waist and scooted closer to me until I was in between his legs and leaning against his chest. He started kissing my hair. “If I could, I would take every broken pieces and mend it back into its original state but we both know that it’s not how it works. But I promise I will try to ease the pain. I will try to show you that not everything in this world is painful and ugly. I will hold those broken, sharp pieces of yourself that no one knows how to deal with.”
“Callum.” I turned my head and cupped his face, pulling him to mine. His lips were so soft and they were what I needed now. My lips clung onto him like they were my lifeline.
I didn’t want to stop even when my lungs were begging for air. When you’ve been deprieved of something all your life, you learn to appreciate and cherish it. You learn that you must make the most out of it and so I did with Callum. I felt like I could never get enough of him. But eventually I had to pull away and we were both panting.
He rested his forehead against mine, brushing his nose against my nose and he smiled.
“You are so beautiful.”
We cuddled against each other. His arms around my waist as we continued to watch. Half an hour later, we were heading back to the parking lot to get our cars. His fingers were entwined with mine as we walked., our arms swaying together. I was enjoying this ‘getting to know each other’ stage.
“Why does Jamie have to die? They were so perfect.” I said, still sniffling.
“Akala ko ba napanuod mo na yung movie?” His brows furrowed as he grinned.
“This is like the seventh time I’ve seen it but I still get emotional.” I explained.
He turned his head, his eyes on the softer side as he squeezed my hand. “If I die in the next five minutes I’d be okay because I already met you.”
“I don’t want you to die…” I silently said, feeling the lump in my throat at the mere thought of it.
“Why?” He asked in a boyish smile.
“Because I really like you and I haven’t had enough time with you. You’re always the one lifting me up and saving me and I honestly don’t know what I’d do without you.” My voce broke at the end of the sentence.
He pulled me to him and kissed me on the side of the head. He let out a low chuckle. “I’m not going anywhere.”
I pushed him away, feeling slightly embarrassed. “That’s the sappiest I’m ever gonna get so don’t get used to it”
“Got it.” He laughed.
Our car were parked next to each other. I slipped int my car and before I could start the engine, I saw him walking back to me from his car. He gestured for me to lower the window and so I did. He leaned down and handed me a small rectangular box.
“You’re going to need that so yiu won’t miss me too much. Open it when you get home.” He winked and then pressed a soft kiss on my lips. “Good night, Audrey.”
He stepped back and I nodded my a goodbye to him before starting my engine.
I opened the ittle box the moment the door behind me closed. Placed inside it was a cylindrical purple thing. Initially my brows furrowed but it widened when I realized what it was. It was the egg vibrator he used on me.
My cheek heat up in embarrassment but at the same time the temperature seemed to have gotten hotter even without me having to turn the heater on. I only feel this way when Callum’s touching me. Memories of what he’d done to me flashed through my mind.
I took off my coat and suddenly something dropped out of it. I looked down to see Callum’s phone on the floor. I forgot to return this to him but it was already late and I was already tired to drive to his house. I’d give this back to him first thing in the morning.
I headed to my room, changed into my pajamas. I placed Callum’s phone and the ‘gift’ he’d given me on the bedside table. I contemplated a bit if I should try it but I still didn’t have enough confidence to do so. And I was already super tired. I decided to slip into bed and quickly dozed off.
The next day, I woke to the sound of Callum’s phone ringing. Nilapag ko iyon sa bedside table para hindi ko makalimutan na daanan si Callum bago ko pumunta sa library. With one eye still closed. I grabbed the phone. And it stopped ringing.
There was a message from someone named Raven. Because it was already there on the screen. I couldn’t help but read it.
‘I got laid off work. I need money for rent and bills. Will pay you back as soon as I get a new job’
I knew I needed to return this to Callum. Someone needed his help. I jumped out of bed and went to take a shower. I dressed up and got ready for work. I made sure I already had his phone inside my bag before I went to the garage to get my car. It was already eight thirty in the morning, he’s probably still at home.
I pulled up in front of his house and went to the front door. The door, to my surprise, was slightly opened.
“If I don’t pay my rent, I’ll be homeless by the end of the month. I’ll pay you back, I swear. I’m just a bit down on my luck right now.” I heard a man’s voice from the inside.
“Why don’t you just go back home? Bakit ba pinapahirapan mo pa ng sarili mo?” It was now Callum.
“I’ll be fine on my own.”
“I don’t think you are. You’re grown ass man Raven. Get your shit together.” I could sense the controlled anger in his voice.
“I didn’t go here to get lectured!” There was annoyance in the other’s guys voice and then the door swung open.
The man stood in front of me. He was a few inches shorter than Callum but he still towered over me. He wore a permanent scowl on his facewhich made him look dangerous. His presence made me take a step back. Our eyes met, he had a similar pair of dark eyes s Callum. Except his were more empty looking and tired. He looked younger than Callum but they were tired and gloomy.
“H-hi…” I stuttered.
His eyes narrowed at me as if it was the first time he’d ever seen a human being. He just stared at me and I froze not knowing what was I supposed to do. I wasn’t used to men staring intently at me like that other than Callum. It makes me nervous.
“RAVEN!” Calum took fast and big steps to where we were standing.
Still not saying a word, the guy who I believed was named Raven looked at Callum and then stared back at me. Callum’s jaw clenched, he took out a wallet from the inner pocket of his coat and took a few bills out. “Ito na yung pinunta mo dito. You can leave now.”
Nagpalit-palit ang tingin niya sa amin dalawa I could feel the uncomfortable tension in the air. Callum shoved the money into his chest. “Take the money and leave.”
The man absently took it, his eyes were on me. His eyes were dark and sharp like Callum’s but this guy has a more disquieting look. Like he’d seen every worst thing in the world and he was furious with everyone of them.
“Raven, fucking leave!” Callum exclaimed. The tension was undeniable.
Finally, that glazed look on Raven’s eyes disappeared and then looked away from me only to turn his head to Callum. They looked at each other.
“Get out of here.” Callum said in a low growl.
And he did. He took another look at me before deciding to walk away. I watched as he walked to his car and drive away.
“What are you doing here?” Callum sounded exhausted. I turned my attention back to him and he was pinching his nose with his two fingers.
“Hindi mo nakuha itong phone mo kagabi.” I took it out from my bag and handed it to him.
“Thanks.” He said, unsmiling.
“Who was he?” I asked him.
“My sister’s son.” He let out a huff. “He’s such a headache sometimes.”
“I see.” I nodded my head and giggled.
“What are you laughing about?” He lifted his gaze up to me. A look of puzzle on his face.
“You sound like a Dad when you were scolding him.” I said.
“I’m the only father figure he has. Let’s not talk about him anymore.” He shrugged and then cupped my face, giving me a kiss on the forehead. Then he brought his lips to my ear. “Did you use the little gift I gave you last night?”
“Cal, you jerk!” My eyes widened and I pushed him away.
He let out a hearty laugh.