John called me the next morning and I told him about the restaurant I read about.
"You're talking about the one in the Luxor. That sounds great! We'll meet you there at six."
"Sounds good," I said and told a still sleepy Mirela. "How much are you going to sleep?" I laughed.
She grabbed my arm and pulled me to the bed.
"Take a nap with me," she yawned. "We have three hours before we have to get ready."
I set my alarm and wrapped my arms around her. She turned so her back was against my chest and I kissed her shoulder. I sighed quietly, thinking about yesterday. I had gotten upset with the guy because of the way he spoke and looked at Mirela but also because I used to think that way. If we had come two months ago, I would've taken him up on that offer. The idea of anyone else touching her, though, was enough to make my blood boil.
She was snoring gently and I kissed her neck.
"You're mine," I whispered. "I won't let anyone else touch you. Don't you worry about that."
I shut my eyes. I had almost let it slip again. I looked forward to tonight mostly to when I could bring her back here and tell her how I feel finally.
I didn't sleep at all. As more time passed, the more nervous I got. Would she slap me? Would she break up with me? Would she say it back? What if she tried to initiate sex? What would I do? Would I accept?
I sighed. My head was starting to hurt. Finally, my alarm went off and we stretched.
"I call dibs on the shower," she said and rushed in.
I smiled and rubbed my eyes. I stood by the window and gulped. Once again the sun was setting. I heard the shower start up and got out the suit I had worn to Luther's first - and only - fancy party. We found out quickly that fancy parties were not our forte. I looked at my camera, not sure if I should bring it.
"Bring it with us." Mirela was in a robe, her hair damp. "We can walk to the casino and take pictures. The sun should be down by then."
I smiled nervously. "I'll jump in the shower while you get dressed."
"Okay," she said happily and I smiled again before ducking into the bathroom.
I started the water and stripped down. I was confused. I had never felt this way about someone before. The water was nice and hot and I sighed, letting it loosen my muscles.
You know what to do to calm yourself down.
"No," I said through clenched teeth, washing my body.
Come on. Just one. That's all. That shot wasn't nearly enough and you know it.
I shut my eyes to wash my hair, trying to shut that part of my brain off. It had been three years since I had gotten black out drunk. I didn't want that again. Not after what I did.
I turned the water off and dried off. I gathered my clothing and walked out with my towel wrapped around my waist, still troubled. I didn't notice Mirela and let the towel drop.
"Oh my God," she gasped and whipped around
"Shit!" I said. "Sorry! I just- I got- Fuck," I groaned. "Hold on."
I quickly put on my underwear and slacks. I cleared my throat and she turned and opened one eye. She relaxed and finished putting on her makeup as I slid the wife beater on. She looked beautiful; even more so since she was wearing that dress for a positive reason. I put on the white button up, frowning at the bed.
Suddenly, Mirela was in front of me.
"Talk," she whispered but I shook my head, looking away. "Please. I don't want to go to dinner with you looking so upset."
I sighed. "How is it you can read me so well?" I said. I sat down on the couch and gestures for her to do the same. "I don't want you to judge me or anything but... I used to be a raging alcoholic."
She leaned back. "Then why did you do all those shots at the bar?"
"That's different," I said. "But... before I got sober, I did some major damage. I'm just worried I'll do it again while we're here."
She frowned and wrapped an arm around mine. "Is that why you've been so nervous these last two days?"
"No," I said. "I'll-I'll tell you about that after dinner." I smiled and kissed her. "You look beautiful. Let's go take some pictures."
The Luxor turned out to be a huge pyramid made of what looked like black windows though they could've been dark blue. Margaret and John were waiting for us. Margaret hugged Mirela, complimenting her dress, and I shook John's hand.
"Sorry we're late," I said, holding Mirela's hand as we walked to the restaurant. "I couldn't resist taking some pictures."
"You should go to the Excalibur to take pictures tomorrow," John suggested. "It's quite the hotel."
I nodded. "We probably will."
We reached the restaurant and got a table for four. It was dark in the restaurant. The floor was dark green and the tables were all round with white table cloths. The only light came from multiple candles on the tables and a few hanging lights so the waiters and waitresses wouldn't trip and fall. We were seated at a table near the middle.
"So, what have you two been up to?" Margaret asked.
"We went to the buffet in... goodness, I can't remember the name of the casino," Mirela laughed. "It was quite the way to start a trip. We also went to The Strip and saw a light show. It was amazing!"
"Have you gone to the Adventuredome?" John asked.
"That's the park, right?" I asked and he nodded.
"Not yet," Mirela said.
Mirela did most of the talking. I ordered a pretty small meal, feeling too nervous to eat. Mirela kept looking at me in worry but I rested my hand on her knee briefly to let her know I was okay. She didn't look convinced but she wanted to show them the picture with those headbands so I let her have the camera.
"You okay?" John asked.
I made sure Mirela was busy with the pictures before answering.
"I'm nervous," I murmured.
"Are you planning on proposing?" he whispered.
I shook my head. "Planning on telling her I love her," I whispered back. "I've never loved anyone before. I'm...."
"Scared shitless," we said in unison and laughed.
"Do you want to play the tables?" Mirela asked.
It had been the plan but I couldn't bring myself to want to gamble.
"Actually, I'm not feeling so great," I said.
She frowned. "You do look pale. Maybe you ate something bad for lunch?"
"That could be it." I looked at Margaret and John and smiled. "Thank you for joining us."
"Thank you for inviting us! Enjoy the rest of your time here!"
We said good night and I held onto Mirela's hand tightly. I didn't say anything until we got to the hotel. I knew she was concerned; especially since I had plenty of opportunities for some good shots but I left my camera on my neck. Before I realized it, we were at the hotel door and I sighed, hesitating.
"Did you forget your key?" she asked.
"No, I've got," I muttered and opened the door, letting her go in first.
I took my coat off and walked to the living area. She followed, looking more worried than before now that we were alone.
"Sit next to me," I said and she did. "Are you having fun?"
"Yeah, yeah I am. You're not, though, are you?"
"I am," I promised. "I'm just- I'm trying to find the best way to- I'm not good at this...."
"Are you breaking up with me?" she whispered.
"No!" I said quickly. "God no!" I sighed and ran a hand through my hair. I groaned. "Shit." I looked around for inspiration. "I.... Um.... I was just thinking that- When we were- In the studio and at your place- Fuck," I groaned and stood up. "I'm not making any sense, am I?"
"Not really," she whispered but she stood up, too. She grabbed my arm and I looked into her eyes. "Just say it, Caleb."
"S-Say what?" I whispered. "I was just going to... suggest... that we um... go to...." I trailed off. I caressed her cheek and she leaned into it. Just say it. Now is the perfect time. Don't let this pass. "I love you," I said in a voice barely above a whisper.
At first she didn't respond. Then her eyes filled with tears.