"Red, pink, or cream?" Someone said as I lay face down on my soft and flower-scented pillows. Since it was a Friday night, I really didn't want to leave the house. I'd rather grab a bowl of popcorn and smother myself with buttery, cheesy goodness. However, I cannot, since this is the first night where I'd have to socialize and smile politely for hours and hours to people I don't even know.
"Or green?" Oh yeah, mom's talking to me. I rolled on the bed so that I could see what the hell she was talking about.
"Hey! You have to help me choose! Stop laying down, we have to leave at 6 pm. Come on!", mom said, pushing me towards the end of my bed.
"Well, definitely NO to pink, mom." Oh god. I hate wearing pink, especially dresses. Makes me look super girly and sweet and bleh. I definitely don't want to look like that tonight.
"So red then?" Mom fished out of my cabinet a red tube dress with a black ribbon wrapped around the waist.
"Oh come on mom. The last thing I want to happen is grabbing the attention of every body. I DO NOT want to stand out in that environment. I can't wear that, it even looks like a prom dress!"
Mom rolled her eyes and said, "So it's the cream one then?"
"Well you could've just told me that a little earlier!" Haha, I know right? I just didn't to dress up yet. "Come on wear it now!"
I went inside the bathroom and slipped on my cream-colored dress. This was actually my favorite of all my dresses. Not that I love wearing dresses. It's a flowy dress at the bottom, only up to my knees, and on the top part it had a sweetheart neckline, but no, it's not a tube dress. It is actually covered with lace up to the sleeves that reached my wrist. A dress that could expose some of my chest and back, but not that exposed. Conservative here. I put a thin black ribbon around my waist to add another color. I went out of the room and saw that my mom was already finished! Done with her dress, make up and hair.
"Wooow! You look beautiful honey, wait 'til he sees you."
"Your Uncle and his family, and your dad," mom said as she prepared her make-up set and brushes.
"But you said h----",
"Come on sit down now, we only have about 30 minutes before they arrive!"
I was sitting on the couch watching TV when I heard the doorbell. "I'll get it!", I shouted, since my mom and dad were still upstairs fixing and finishing some stuff. I opened the door and saw Uncle Joe standing there looking sharp with his tux.
"Wooooow. Well look at you young lady! You look ravishing."
"And so do you, Uncle Joe." I smiled and hugged him. I saw their black Fortuner on our driveway as I stepped outside to let my uncle inside. I looked at the windows, hoping to catch a glimpse of.... you know who. Okay, to be honest, I really wanted to see him all dressed up, and I wanted him to see me too. But I guess I would just have to wait a little longer until we're already.
I went inside our house and saw that mom and dad already saw Uncle Joe and Aunt Manna. He and my dad grabbed something from his desk, and mom was tidying the kitchen. After about 5 minutes we started to walk outside the front door. Uncle Joe already told me to go head and get in their car now.
As I headed towards the car, I was kind of nervous. Well, very nervous actually. Because first of all, I did not know which door to open. I mean, where on earth am I going to sit? I looked back and my parents were still talking, so what the heck, I just headed towards the door behind the driver's seat.
"Good evening," I jumped as a I heard a voice from behind me. I looked back, and I saw a guy looking sleek and sharp wearing one hell of a suit. Wow. He was right. Jaw-dropping.
"God, you have got to stop doing that," I said, breathing heavily.
"Well, good evening to you too. And may I just say you look very pretty tonight," he said with his cute and heart-melting smile.
"Well.... thank you." I smiled back. "Now can I get in?"
He opened the door. "Oh, we're sitting at the back. You know, to let these parents talk about... well, whatever they need to talk about." After I went in, he followed me to the back of the SUV.
"What, you're not driving tonight? That's good."
"Ha-ha. No, dad's driving." Our parents started to take their seats, and after a while, we were out of the driveway, heading towards to the business forum.
"So, you nervous?", I asked Jeff. Just to break the awkward silence we were sharing at the back of their car while our parents were talking non-stop at the front.
"No way," he said confidently. "Besides, I won't be alone, I got you for the whole night."
Stop blushing, stop blushing! "And who told you that I would be willing to spend the whole night with you?"
"Oh come on. I can just imagine that we would be the only teenagers there. I mean what kind of teen would go to a boring business forum on a Friday night???"
"Hey," Aunt Manna suddenly turned to us, "After we meet them and talk a little, you guys could, you know, go outside of the hall and just roam around at the garden or park, or something. It is Friday night." Jeff looked at his mom looking confused. I just said thank you and smiled.
We arrived almost an hour later at this big modern-looking glass building. Aunt Manna was right, there was this huge park/garden at the side of the building. It was beautiful! Yellow lights shining from every corner of the garden that was filled with different kinds of flowers, and at the middle of the garden was a huge gazebo. Okaaay, now I felt awkward with the idea of hanging out with him there. It looked too...... romantic. Super weird.
"All right. You guys ready?" Uncle Joe said as he locked the car. We walked towards the main door, and were accompanied by ushers. As we entered, I already saw a tall man walking towards us, about to greet my father.He looked familiar though. Probably one of my dad's friends.
"Good evening everyone! Nice to see you Mark! Been a long time", the man said as he shakes hands with my dad.
"I know, been a long time! These are our friends, Joe, his wife Manna and his son Jeff." They all greeted each other.
"And I bet, this is your daughter?" he looked at me, I smiled and said, "Yes, I'm Leena."
"Leena? Oh! Yes, I remember you. I think we met at your dad's office once. Right, Mark?"
"Yes, you have!" Dad said cheerfully. Really? Well, I don't remember.
"Well come in guys, it's almost starting. You'll meet the highest and most successful businessmen and women here. No doubt you guys would leave empty handed." Oh, so he knows what's going on I guess?
After almost an hour, dad, Uncle Joe and that dude who recognized me was already working their way around the hall, talking to so many people. Mom and Aunt Manna did the same. Jeff and I just kept following them and having small talk with the ones that our parents introduce to us.
As I looked towards the stage, it seems like some program would start any minute, and the guests were already taking their seats. And Aunt Manna and my mom sat down with their new acquaintances.
"Oh, Leena! You know the programs are gonna be starting soon, would you guys like to stay and listen?" Hmph, that must be code for, you guys should go out now before you die of boredom.
"Oh, is it okay if we leave already?"
"Oh no worries darling!", a petite chubby lady said to me while holding my arm. She looked nice."I mean if I didn't have to be here, I'd leave right about now too. Ha ha. It's okay, you guys can just go to the park, their serving cupcakes and dessert there, you'll love it", she said whispering, keeping it as a secret.
As we went down to the garden, lo and behold, that lady was right! At the entrance of the park there was this huge buffet table covered with mouth-watering treats like chocolate truffles, chocolate fountains, parfait, and oh so many more!
"WOW, smart move that we got here early. I am most definitely willing to spend the night here! Come on!", I dragged Jeff towards the buffet table to see what else they were serving.
"Slow down there, wouldn't want to finish all of it."
"Come oooon! Aren't you hungry?"
"So this is definitely the reason why you need to go to the gym." He grinned.
"Whatever, KJ. Look, I'll just take..... the cupcake please." I said talking to the waiter standing there. Probably he was already listening to our conversation. "How 'bout you? Come on you don't need to look like a health-obsessed guy right now. I'll understand." I patted his back, and he too, asked for a cupcake, but with a different flavor.
Jeff and I just followed brick path, not knowing where it would end. It was a pretty big garden, and I could see that the path was leading down towards a bottom of a hill or something.
We've been walking and eating our cupcakes for a while now in silence, and god it feels like we've been here for hours!
"Hey", Jeff nudged my elbow, "wanna go at the lake at the bottom?"
"There's a lake at the bottom? Yeah! Let's go!" We walked a little bit faster. "How's your cupcake by the way?", I said smiling at him. I hope he got the message.
"It's good, and I am sort of getting the feeling that you want to taste it so here," he gave me his cupcake, halfway eaten. So, to be fair, I gave him mine. He smiled at me. My face = tomato red. I am clearly starting to like him. He was such a gentleman and so nice. And obviously, I am attracted to gentlemen. Plus, he looked great. He was taller than me, and had a lean body. He wasn't that muscular, but he had the right amount of muscles, probably because he was an athlete. Plus, his jaw lines. DAMN. Sort of looked like Josh Hutcherson's jaw lines.
I pinched a little piece of his red velvet cupcake so I could taste it, and WOW. It was heavenly.
"WOW, that is good! How 'bout you? You like the salted caramel?"
"Oh yeah. A little too sweet for me though," Jeff said. We exchanged cupcakes again. "Hey....., uhm, I just wanna say thanks."
I looked at him, his eyes looking straight at me. We were going around the gazebo now, heading towards the steps going down towards the small lake. I stopped walking when he talked to me.
"Oh, you're welcome!", I said, a little confused actually. "For what, though?"
"For coming here. And, you know, spending time... here. And helping us", he said nervously.
"Oh, yeah don't worry 'bout it. And I think... you already thanked me for that." I said giggling. "But hey, if you're thinking that I'm only doing this because I have to , or I was forced to, don't worry, it's not like that. I really willing to help." He smiled at me. "Plus, I kept your promise, I haven't told anyone. However..... can I at least tell Thea though?"
His eyes widened. "No! Nooooo please no. Don't tell anyone please."
"Hey, if you want to talk about anything, you can talk to me. Right?" He said with his cute smile.
"Yeah right. I'm not talking about girl stuff with you."
"Girl stuff that's related to what's happening right now? What kind of girl stuff?" Oh boy, was he suspecting something? Am I that obvious? Did my tomato-red cheeks give it away? Shit.
"None of your business. Oh look the lake!" Change the topic. We saw this small man-made lake at the bottom of the hill, there were even koi fishes swimming in it. "Wow, look!"
We sat on the grass at the edge of the lake..
"Look at these fishes," I said, breaking off the silence, "just peacefully living their lives swimming in this pond with nothing to worry about, huh?" I was looking at the fishes and then I turned to face Jeff who was looking straight at me, smiling.
"That's the dream."
"So, have you been applying to colleges now?" He looked at me, a little surprised. His mom told me about it. He's been stressing about which college to apply to and what program to take. He clearly didn't know what to do after high school.
"Uhm, I actually think that it would be a good idea if I just applied to colleges near us. You know, since, this is happening. Problems and stuff."
"Oh well, you know you could always get a scholarship or something. Sports-related scholarship even."
"So, any program in mind?"
"I still don't know, besides, I still have a year left to decide, so..."
"Hmm, fair enough. Wanna change the topic?"
He laughed. "Yes please."
"Okay.... well then--- Salted Caramel or Red Velvet?" He faced towards me looking confused.
"Well, since we're going to be spending time a lot now, we should get to know more about each other, right? So let's start simple. Salted Caramel or Red Velvet?"
He stared at me, grinning. Gosh, he looks really handsome right now, his eyes shining and sparkling. We were alone here by the lake, which made me a little uncomfortable, but hey, I just really want to talk to him, know him a little better, so we could be close. Close friends. "Red velvet, 100%."
"Honestly, I don't know. I love all of them."
He laughed at me and at the same time pinched my arm. "OW! Why'd you do that?!"
"You're so fugging cute, and...... and chubby." He laughed so hard. I slapped his arm. Wow, it was a little hard. Bet there's a lot of muscle there.
"Okay, so I love food. I just love cooking and baking okay. It's very relaxing, you should try."
"Noooo thank you. Just bake me some, I'll be your taste tester."
"You wish. Okay, moving on. Uhmm.... you ask me a question."
"Anything?" I nodded. "Okay.... uhm, Aries or Zander?"
"Seriously? THAT question?"
"What? You said anything okay. So?"
"Well, I don't know, based on what?"
"Doesn't matter, just choose one guy."
"What? It's not a complicated question, okay."
"Fine!!! Uhhhhhh...... Zander?"
He immediately smiled like an idiot.
"What the hell is that smile?!"
"You like him, huh?"
"Why would you say that?"
"I saw how you look at him okay. I'm good at this stuff", he said proudly.
"No, you're awful. And I don't like him, Thea likes him."
Oh SHIT. Why on earth did I say that?! "Oh god please don't tell him please!!!!", I begged him. I am so doomed if he finds out.
"Fine, as long as you don't tell Thea our secret. Okay?"
"Yeah yeah. Gosh, such a blackmail-er."
Guests were already arriving at the garden, feasting on the yummy desserts, so Jeff and I went back to the entrance to get more sweets. We eventually saw our parents, we joined them again and talked to their new friends.
It was almost 11 pm, so we decided to leave already. Mom told me that they've met plenty of clients and people that would be willing to support and help them, which was great, since it was only our first time to do this. We went back to the car and drove towards the freeway. There were fewer cars on the freeway at this time, and fewer lights. Which means, you can clearly see the sky, full of sparkling little stars. I just stared at them while sitting beside Jeff, I was really sleepy already, and watching the stars kind of made me even more relax.
"Hey," Jeff said to me with a whispering voice, "it's your turn."
"My turn for what?"
"To ask me a question." Oh, wow, he actually remembered that. I smiled back at him. Everyone was a little quiet right now. I think our moms might be sleeping already, but our dads kept on talking at the front.
"Daytime or nighttime?", I asked him with a soft voice while looking at the stars above, since I was really tired and sleepy. Jeff moved closer to me, so he could peek through the window and look at what I was looking at. I could feel his head, so close to mine, and his body leaning on me. I felt a warm rush all over my body.
"Night time, definitely."
I smiled at him, looking at his face which was just inches away from mine, "Why?"
"Well, because of the stars. Just looking at them makes you feel so... relaxed and calm. Can't believe I'm saying this but, it looks... magical." I looked at his face, he was looking outside, looking at the stars, and as I looked at him, the light from the sky lighted his face in the most heart-melting way. I can clearly see his strong face and jaw line. To think of it, he didn't even look like a 16-year old, he looked more like an 18-year old. I looked out the window too, since he might realize that I've been staring at his face.
I suddenly remembered what Shakespeare said when we studied Hamlet. At first I hated it, it was just so deep I couldn't understand anything , but after a while, I realized that behind those deep words were deep thoughts and feelings that were just so powerful and inspiring. I started quoting Shakespeare out loud, even if Jeff was just there right beside me,
“Doubt thou the stars are fire," I saw Jeff shift his head to face mine,
"Doubt that the sun doth move," He stared at me, probably wondering why I started reciting this line, maybe even thinking I was weird or something,
"Doubt truth to be a liar," I looked at the stars above again, watching them stay steady, not a single movement, while we, on the other hand, were in motion.
Then, I finally said the last line, still looking at the stars,
" But never doubt I love..."
and I realized, that he too, recited the line with me. I looked at him, surprised.
He smiled back at me, "Shakespeare's Hamlet. Act II, Scene II."
We both giggled.
"Wow, can't believe you remembered that."
"I had to remember some, or else I'd fail Lit."
God, now I really liked him. It was kinda crazy that I liked him more just because he recited that poem with me, but, yes. I liked him even more. I couldn't help but smile at him. "Okay", I said with a softer voice, "your turn." I moved away from the SUV's window, and leaned my head on his shoulder while yawning. I was really sleepy now.
"You know what?", he asked with his cool voice.
"Hmm? ....What?" I asked, slowly closing my eyes, preparing to sleep.
"Maybe we should always do this. Ask each other a question, taking turns. You know, our thing--- our little game. To know each other better. What do you think?"
"....oh. Yeah... sure." I nodded my head, so he could feel me move. I didn't see him smile, but it felt like he did, and that was enough for me. Our sweet conversation ended with silence, only our dad's voices remained and the two of us simply dozed off.