To say that Gray’s house is big is an understatement. The first time I came here, it was already dark and I wasn’t able to make out the details. But now that I’m standing here, in front of what looked like a luxury house, inside a village known for housing some of the greatest businessmen and women, I realize how our financial standings significantly differ.
The house in front of theirs is almost the same size - if not bigger. I noticed that the houses here are pretty far from each other, so I find it weird that these two houses are close. Nonetheless, I feel intimidated, like I don't belong here.
I rang the doorbell once. My view may be limited because of the slats in their gate but my hearing was not. A chorus of high-pitched barks followed as I saw the person I came for come out of their front door.
“Sshh, behave.” She told her dogs before letting me in. I waited for the barking to die down before going in.
Five large dogs greeted me with happy faces. “Aww, they’re so cute!” I knelt to pet one and looked at her collar that read 'Sofie.' The others also huddled around me, their tails wagging enthusiastically. “Are they all yours?” I stood up and looked at Gray for the first time. She was wearing a light blue oversized shirt with a puppy print and denim shorts, showing off her white, flawless legs. Her hair was tied up in a very sexy messy bun. God, she’s gorgeous.
“Yes. Come inside.” She said as she led me inside their house, but not before I caught a glimpse of her metallic gray Audi sitting regally in their garage that could comfortably house three cars.
The first thing that caught my eye was the large painting in the middle of the room. It was of a beautiful woman with long raven black hair. She was the spitting image of Gray.
“Is she your mom?”
Gray took a deep breath before answering, “Yes.” And she walked away before I could ask another.
“Take a seat,” she gestured to the comfortable looking sofa that sat in the middle of their living room. The colors gray and white dominated the area, the interior design is remarkable. “My brother will be here in a few minutes. I apologize for making you wait.”
“I don’t mind,” I answered, observing my surroundings. Aside from the painting of the woman, no other pictures hang in the walls. On the coffee table in front of me were a few magazines, a bonsai, and a remote for the 60-inch tv that was mounted up in the wall.
In one word, Gray’s house is very... spacious. Not too many furnitures, although if there is any, they sure as hell looked expensive. But aside from the necessities, there isn’t much to take note of. I didn’t understand the reason until her dogs came around and filled the area. Now the living room doesn’t seem as empty. Their presence put a slight smile on Gray’s face.
“Aren’t you gonna introduce me to them?” I grinned at her.
I expected a rebut from her, but instead, she told me their names, one by one. Sofie the Labrador, Sammy the Pitbull, Perry the Rottweiler, Toffee the Golden Retriever, and Maxie the Brown Lab. For each dog she introduced, the smile on her face grew more prominent.
Another discovery: Gray is very fond of dogs.
“There’s another one. Her name’s Macy. She recently gave birth to four pups. Perry's the father.”
Excitedly, I asked, “Can I see them?”
Gray stood up without a word and I followed her to their backyard. And, of course, they had a swimming pool. Curious about where their wealth comes from, I asked, “What does your dad do?”
“He owns a financial corporation,” Gray answered like it was no big deal.
I tried my best not to look surprised. “And your mom?”
I stopped in my tracks. I don’t know what to say. I, too, have experienced the death of someone close to me and whenever someone told me words that were supposed to make me feel better, it makes me feel worse. I couldn’t pretend to understand the pain she went through. It's different for everybody, so I just remained silent.
Gray looked at me as if waiting for a reply and when she realized I wasn’t going to, her features relaxed. “Here. Come, Macy.” A Black Lab came towards her and she bent down to pet it. I was too focused on Gray that I didn’t notice the puppy nudging my leg, its tail wagging furiously.
“So cute!” I exclaimed and without thinking, tried to pick it up.
A low growl emitted from Macy that made me stop just before I touched the pup. “Mace, behave,” Gray ordered and Macy relaxed.
I raised my eyebrows at Gray and she gave me a nod, permitting me to pick the puppy up. The puppy is big for a baby and when I carried it, I saw the brown streaks on his tummy like the one on his eyebrows. He looks a lot like Perry, but cuter. “I thought there were four?” I asked Gray as I looked around, looking for the others.
“The others were already adopted, he’s the only one left.”
“Oh,” was all I could say. “What’s his name?”
“I don't name them, it's hard to put them up for adoption if I do,” Gray said, looking at the pup in my arms with sympathy. It’s obvious she wants to keep them.
Then, gesturing to the puppy in my arms, I asked, “Can I keep him?”
Gray looked visibly stunned. Even I was surprised by my sudden suggestion. She narrowed her eyes at me before asking, “Do you have a dog?”
“Do you even know how to raise a dog?”
“Nope,” I answered. “But you can teach me.”
“What makes you think I’d want to teach you? The answer is no.” She answered, stressing the ‘no’ and went back inside before I could even protest. “I’d rather give him to someone who really knows how to take care of pets.” She continued.
I put down the puppy carefully before hurriedly following her, leaving the scene of Macy licking her baby’s face.
“I’ll take care of him,” I promised. “And even though I never actually had one, I’m really fond of dogs.”
Two quick strides and I was already behind her when she stopped and turned around abruptly, causing me to bump into her. The impact made her lose her balance but thanks to my quick reflexes, I was able to hold her firmly. My arm snaked around her waist for support and the other was clutching her arm.
Then our eyes met. Her gray eyes were boring right into mine. Our bodies are pressed against each other and I could feel my heart beat faster in my chest. We stared into each other’s eyes for the longest time - long enough for me to notice the quick shifting of emotions in them. Shock, anger, and something else. Something that just showed when she let her guard down for a second - longing. Not for me, of course, but for the person whose eyes are the same color as mine.
When she was shaken out of her reverie and noticed our stance, she pushed me away with such force that I was taken aback.
“Just because we have the same eyes doesn’t mean we’re the same,” I tell her.
She looked confused for a second. “My eyes are gray, yours are green.” She corrected.
“I wasn’t talking about you.”
The anger was now gone from her eyes, replaced by curiosity. “How did you..?”
“I told you we met at a bar, right? She was too close for me not to notice her green eyes,” I explained. “Is that the reason you hate me so much? Because I remind you of her?”
“It’s none of your business.” She said, her voice back to its steely tone but I could tell there was a truth to my words.
“You still love her, don’t you?” I know I’m treading on dangerous grounds here but I can’t help but wonder. What could’ve happened between them that made her like this?
Gray is now shooting daggers in my direction, her lips pursed. She was about to say something that will make me wish I hadn’t asked, but she never got the chance to reply. Her dogs started barking and it both made us look in their direction. They all ran to the gate and Gray peeked at the window to check who it is.
If it wasn’t for her dogs, I figured I’d have already been kicked out of her house. Gray feels like a different person when her dogs are around. She doesn’t look angry or sad or mad - just a normal, happy teenager.
“My brother’s here,” she announced and suddenly I feel nervous, which is weird because I have no reason to get nervous. It’s just her brother.
Their front door opened, making way for a boy with brown hair that rests just above his shoulders and Gray’s dogs behind him. He looks like he’s in his early twenties, a little chubby, not that handsome, but he oozes charisma. If I had to guess, I’d bet he’s a playboy.
“Hi Juju,” he greeted Gray as he stepped inside.
Then to me, “I’m Jimmy,” he said as he held out his right hand.
“Alex.” I shook his hand firmly, noticing that his eyes are brown.
He looked from me to Gray and said, “You guys have the same name? That’s cool. Now, where’s my cake?” He asked Gray, eyebrows raised.
Gray didn’t answer and just gestured to the direction of the kitchen. Jimmy was practically jumping as he followed her. Like their living room, the kitchen’s theme is also gray and white. I got there just in time to witness Gray pulling out a mini-cheesecake from their gigantic refrigerator.
“You made this?” I asked as I sat on one of the bar stools next to Jimmy. Gray nodded without looking at me as she sat in front of him, the marble kitchen island between us.
“So,” Jimmy started as he sliced a piece for himself. “What exactly are we gonna do?”
As much as I hate to admit it, Gray pretty much did everything alone in this project. She talked to our guest, prepared the materials needed, and she even let us use their house. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I say she can pass this subject alone and to be honest, I feel like I’m only dragging her down.
“Basically, we’re going to ask you questions and you’re going to answer them,” Gray answered for both of us.
Jimmy looked up from his plate, “Who am I going to play with? Is he any good?”
Gray looked confused for a second. “Who said you were going to play with anyone?”
“I didn’t say anything about playing,” Gray explained. “We’re just going to do a documentary.”
“That’s boring, I wanna play,” Jimmy pouted.
Gray rolled her eyes. “Stop being a baby. You don’t have anyone to play with.”
“I can play,” I interjected.
Both of them turned to me. Gray’s eyes narrowed at me while Jimmy looked at me skeptically. “Are you good?”
I shrugged. “I’m decent.”
Jimmy chuckled. “I like her,” he said to Gray. Then to me, “Wanna make a bet? Whoever wins gets to ask for something from the loser as long as it’s within reason.”
Upon hearing this, Gray playfully slapped her brother's arm. “Stop it, you’re not playing fair.” She turned to me saying, “Don’t let him fool you. He may look like an idiot but he’s actually really good.”
I smirked. “I don't mind. But I don't want anything from you," I told Jimmy. "I want her puppy."
"Sure," Jimmy waved his hand airily. "Consider it done."
"What? No!" Gray snapped. "He's not yours to give away." She said through gritted teeth.
Jimmy raked a hand through his long brown hair. "Chill out. You really think she's going to beat me?"
Gray considered it for a second before answering, "No."
Jimmy grinned. "Then it's a deal."
She must be really confident of Jimmy's game if she trusts him that much.
The first thing I learned in chess was this: Never underestimate your opponent. Taunting is just a tactic - I use it often too - but you can never measure how good your opponent is with just the looks and the words. We do all the battles on the chess board.
Jimmy excused himself to take a shower, leaving me alone with his sister. Gray looked at me like I was the stupidest person she ever met.
“He’s gonna crush you.”
“Is he?” I asked, suddenly excited. It’s been a while since I’ve had a good game.
She shook her head in dismay. “Don’t blame me if you go crying after he beat your ass.”
"Don't blame me if you go crying after I beat his ass," I mimicked. "Are you that confident that he's gonna win?"
"Because I've never seen him lose."
I looked her in the eye and said in all seriousness, "You're about to."