“Gabriella open the damn door.”
“Ryan I’m really not prepared to receive company right now!” she yelped.
Ryan had made his way over to her apartment quicker than she had anticipated. She had been picking up clothes off of the floor and throwing out old takeout containers when he knocked on the door. She looked down at the tiny compression shorts and tank top she was wearing and ran into her room to throw a robe on.
“Gabriella, I just want to talk. I promise I’ll keep my hands to myself. Please open the door.”
She bit her lip and opened the door slightly, peeking out at him. “You can come in but you can’t stay long. I’m still a little tipsy and I don’t trust us.”
He laughed as she opened the door wider to let him in. “I’m on my best behavior, I promise.”
She hovered awkwardly by the door after she closed it behind him, pulling her robe tightly around her.
“Can we sit?” he asked, taking his shoes off and walking into her living room.
She followed him into the living room and sat down as far away from his as she could on the sectional.
He rolled his eyes. “Really Gabriella? I’m not going to bite you.”
“You might kiss me again.”
“I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable by kissing you,” he said quietly. “It just felt right.”
“But you’re my boss, Ryan. Aside from the fact that we could get into a lot of trouble, what happens when you don’t want to, uh, kiss me anymore? It will be extremely awkward at work.”
He looked as if he wanted to argue the subject but changed his mind and nodded slowly. “We can still be friends though, right? You’re like the only friend I have in this hillbilly city.”
Gabi snorted. “Houston is hardly a ‘hillbilly city’.”
“Did you not see the people riding horses on the freeway the other day?”
“They were not on the freeway...They were riding in the median,” she replied, laughing.
“Whatever you say.” He shook his head. “Look, I know your special night got shortened, partly because of me. What’s say we order some food and watch a movie?”
Gabi hesitated but nodded in agreement after a moment. He smiled and clasped his hands together.
“Great! I’ll take care of the food, you pick the movie. Is Chinese okay? I’ve been craving it.”
“Yeah that’s fine.”
He stood up. “Okay! I’ll be back. I’m going to stop by my place and change and I’ll pick up the food on the way back.”
Gabi heard the door closed and released a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. She got up and ran into her room to put on some more decent pajamas and called Angela.
Angela answered on the third ring. “Gabi! Are you okay?” she asked with panic in her voice.
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Good. Now why the hell are you calling me at two in the morning?” She whisper yelled.
“I think I’ve lost my mind.”
“What? Why do you say that?”
“Ryan kissed me tonight.”
There was silence on the other end of the phone.
“Hold on a second.”
Gabi heard shuffling and Nico swearing before Angela spoke again.
“Now. Repeat what you just said.”
“Ryan kissed me.”
“Oh my gosh! That’s so cute!”
Gabi groaned. “It’s not cute Ang! He’s my boss! And besides, I think he was just drunk.”
“You pushed him away didn’t you? Geez Gabi I know that Michael hurt you but--”
“I’m sorry Gabi! I just want you to be happy and it’s painfully obvious that you and Ryan like each other.”
Gabi scoffed. “I don’t need a man to be happy. That’s what vibrators are for.”
“Well, I’d better go. Ryan is coming over to watch a movie with me.”
Angela squealed. “Booty call?”
“Not even! He felt bad for upsetting me so he’s bringing over some Chinese and we’re going to watch a movie...as friends.”
“Sure,” Angela replied laughing. “I’ll see you later at your mom’s okay?”
“Alright, night Ang.”
Gabi ran back into the living room to pick a movie. Ryan knocked on the door just as she had made her decision.
“Got the food!” He said with a grin, stepping inside and kicking his shoes off. He was now wearing sweats and a nike t shirt with two different socks.
She laughed. “Couldn’t be bothered to match socks?”
He looked down at his feet before smiling at her again. “I was rushing. Anyway, did you pick a movie.”
She smiled and nodded as they moved into the living room. “Yep. Before we start though, I need to know...” She paused for dramatic effect. “What house are you?”
“Ravenclaw, you?” he replied without missing a beat.
“Gryffindor of course.” She tried to quiet her heart as she popped Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone into the blu-ray player. She wondered why she had asked him that. She always asked that question on first dates to see if the guy was a Potterhead. She had three basic requirements in a guy: Must believe in God, must treat his mother well, and must be a potterhead. But this was not a date.
“I haven’t watched this in years,” Ryan said, opening the container of crab rangoon.
“Really? I watched it last week,” Gabi replied digging into her food.
“My favorite is Order of the Phoenix. I watch that one like every other day.”
“No way! Mine too!”
“Why are we watching this one then?” he asked, laughing.
“I like to go in order.”
“So, we’re watching all of them?”
“We can try.”
The next thing Gabi knew, she was waking up to her mother’s voice.
“Gabriella Marie Perez de leon! Levantate niña! Get up! Quien es este hombre?”
Gabi blinked up at her mother. “Mami? What are you doing here?” she asked groggily.
“I should be asking you the same thing! Who is this man?” She hissed at Gabi.
Gabi was confused until she looked down and saw to her horror that she was wrapped in Ryan’s arms on the sectional as he slept soundly.
“Oh coño!” She swore as she leapt up from the couch. Ryan stirred but did not wake up.
She gathered herself before turning to her mother. “Mami, how are you so put together already? It’s not even noon yet. And why are you here?”
Isabella Cortez was stunning in a skin tight red dress with a pair of towering stilettos. She had a full face of makeup on and had her long curly hair pulled into a high ponytail.
“Gabi it’s 3:30pm. Did you forget your birthday party?” She asked, in heavily accented english.
Gabi’s eyes went wide. “Yes I did! Oh lo siento Mami! I’ll go shower and get dressed.”
She ran into her bedroom and hurriedly got ready. When she was happy with her appearance, she walked back into the living room and to her surprise, her mother and Ryan were laughing and talking.
“Ay mija, why have you never introduced me to this charming young man?”
“Ryan is my boss Mami.”
Her mom walked over and whispered in her ear. “I know he’s your boss. If you make him your husband, you’ll never have to work another day in your life.”
“Madre!” Gabi exclaimed, blushing deeply.
Ryan stood and offered his hand to Gabi’s mom, pretending he hadn’t heard her. “It was a pleasure meeting you Isabella. I should let you two get to your day though. Happy birthday again Gabriella.”
“Ryan,” Isabella called after him. “You should join us for Gabi’s birthday party!” She ignored Gabi who was trying to stop her.
He hesitated. “I don’t know. I wouldn’t want to impose.”
“Nonsense! I insist. Gabi will pick you up from your home after she gets dressed.”
“I am dressed Mami,” Gabi said.
Isabella looked her daughter up and down. “Try again. And straighten your hair.”
Gabi scoffed. “I’m not changing and I’m not straightening my hair.”
“Okay mija, be single forever then.” She turned her attention to Ryan as Gabi shook with anger. “Can you be ready in about thirty minutes? Gabi will come get you.”
Ryan looked at Gabi and she gave a weak smile. “Sure, Isabella. Gabriella, I’ll text you?”
Gabi nodded and he left. When Gabi heard the door close she turned to her mother angrily. “Mami! Why did you invite him?!”
“Why were you sleeping with him?” Isabella replied calmly, picking up her purse and heading toward the door. “I will see you at the house in an hour. Put some makeup on. Feliz cumpleaños amorcita!”
Gabi was left standing in the entryway to her apartment, irritated and confused. Her phone pinged and she saw a message from Ryan.
I won’t come if you don’t want me to.
She hesitated before typing out her reply.
I want you to.