Blowing out the birthday cake used to be my favourite part of birthday tradition. There is something magical involved in making a wish whilst blowing out the candles. My wishes in the past have all been linked to my father. Now that I know the truth about him, I can move on.
I wish for new beginnings.
I close my curtains and hop into bed, snuggling under the covers with thoughts of Rory on my mind. When we’re together, the chemistry is undeniable.
Is it just physical though?
Am I lusting after him because I haven’t had him yet?
Or am I actually starting to develop feelings?
I grab my other pillow and tuck my legs around it, getting into a comfortable sleeping position. As I’m beginning to drift off, I hear something hit my window. My eyes peel open at the sound and I push back the covers to inspect the situation. I draw the curtains and that’s when a small rock hits the glass.
I muffle my scream, not wanting to wake mum and then I lean forward to find the culprit.
Standing outside my house at precisely midnight, is none other than Rory himself. My heart quickens.
I grab my dressing gown and quickly trail downstairs to open the door. Rory’s cheeks are flushed and his eyes go wide in surprise when I reveal myself in the doorway. I pull the dressing gown tighter around me, as the cold chill rattles my bones.
“What the heck are you doing Rory?” I demand, keeping my voice to a minimum. “You’re going to wake my neighbours if you’re not careful and they won’t be as understanding as I am about your late night venture.”
“I got you something,” he says, moving to the side so I can only see half of his head.
“Can’t it wait until tomorrow?” I ask him, impatiently tapping my foot on the carpet.
I watch as Rory pushes a bike towards me. It has a little bow wrapped around the handle bars and a basket attached to the front. I stare at him open mouthed. Surely that can’t be for me.
Silence hangs between us as I try to register what is happening. “You bought me a bike?”
“Rory, where did you get that kind of money from? This looks brand new.”
“That’s because it is.” He tucks his hands into the pockets of his jeans and all I want to do is swing my arms around him. But I don’t, because I’m frozen in the passageway, unable to produce words.
I step towards him. “You didn’t answer my question. Where’d you get the money to pay for this?”
“I had a pay rise.”
“Well, this is too much.”
My stomach flips over when his eyes meet mine. “You only get one birthday and even though you told me you didn’t like the attention it brings, I figured that you deserved to be treated.”
I bite my lower lip which is starting to tremble. “This is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.”
He snakes his hand around my waist and pulls me to his chest. I lean into his warmth without hesitation and I can hear my heart thumping.
“So, are you happy?” he asks, pulling back to read my expression.
“Beyond happy. Happy like you wouldn’t believe.”
He’s beaming. “Good.”
My eyes travel to Rory’s mouth and my face goes hot. He breaks away and stares at me. He’s quiet for a little while and I try to control my breathing.
When he takes a step back, I sense regret from him and I seriously hope I’m wrong. “Uh, I’d better go.”
“You always say that.”
“Yes. It makes me really paranoid.”
“Well, it doesn’t mean anything. It’s just what I always say to people. I’ll catch you tomorrow or something.”
He turns away and starts walking in the opposite direction. “Rory!” I call after him and he spins around. “Thank you! Thanks for everything.”
He meets my eyes, and I notice how watery they are. It’s all I can think about as he walks down the dimly lit street and out of sight.
Most afternoons Rory comes over to help paint the house. When the new furniture arrives, he helps to unload it from the delivery van. Already, I’ve seen a huge improvement, where the space looks more open and inviting. We’ve also had a window fitted in the living room.
Whenever we’re in need of a break, all three of us watch a movie together or chat for hours and when Rory leaves, he sends me pictures of design ideas he’s found for the house – adding the images to his Pinterest page for safe keeping.
We have a mixture of serious moments, funny moments and crazy moments, where neither of us can contain our inner weirdness.
Rory leans against the kitchen counter, engrossed in something on his phone, while my mother makes us all a cup of tea. I lean past him to get the cups and he looks down at me with a smirk.
I find the corners of my own mouth tilting up, as if we’re sharing a private joke that nobody else understands. It’s a good thing my mother can’t read body language or understand what our eye contact is insinuating.
My phone vibrates on the table and I spring back to life. I notice Rory’s eyes linger on the lit up screen, before I can snatch it away. The caller ID says Grayson Swine. I should probably change that at some point. I changed his last name to Swine ages ago, because he was annoying me and I was looking for an excuse to call him names.
I answer the call and lower my voice. “Hey Grayson.”
“Hello.” Grayson isn’t the best at talking on the phone.
I am highly aware of Rory watching me from over his mug. “What’s up?”
Since when do I say what’s up?
“Nothing much. I was about to head out actually.”
“Oh.” I realize that I’m not very good at speaking on the phone either.
“I’m going to play golf with my dad soon,” he says, sounding nervous. I forgot that it’s Sunday, and Grayson likes to stick to his weekly routine. I don’t think I could commit to doing the same thing every day. Where’s the spontaneity? Where’s the element of surprise?
“Have a nice… golfing trip then.”
“I was going to ask if you’d like to tag along.” My eyebrows rise. “Not to the golf club,” he clarifies. “I meant, maybe you could come to the pub with us afterwards. We sometimes play darts.”
A pub is definitely more my kind of scene and I do like Mr. Swain. He’s been nothing but nice to me.
“Will your dad be okay with me being there?” I check, not wanting to intrude on their father and son outing if it’s going to cause problems.
“He’s the one that suggested it.”
I’ve never been requested to join someone else’s trip before. This is new. Parents don’t usually like me. Adults don’t usually like me. I’m not a very likeable person.
“Alright then, I’ll come.”
“Cool. I’ll call you when I’m on my way to pick you up. It usually takes us a few hours finishing the golf course, so be ready by five.”
The phone goes dead and both my mother and Rory are staring with equal amounts of curiosity.
I present them with, “Do either of you know how to play darts by chance?”