I came out of the room for a moment after our little dinner and then went to my kitchenette to clean the dishware and utensils. I returned to his room after finishing the kitchen tasks. When I came inside, Brandon was setting the bedsheet of his four-poster bed. I watched him as he put an extra pillow on the other side of the bed and noticed that he already changed the bedsheet.
“I just thought it might be comfortable for you if I change the covers.”
“It’s okay.” I bit my lip. “Uh, are we going to sleep now?” I had to ask. It was kind of early and I still wanted to spend more time with him with my conscious mind.
“Uh no, I wanted to show you something,” he mumbled.
“Uh, okay.” I shrugged.
“Come.” He walked towards me then took my hand, wrapping his fingers around mine. Wondering where he was going to take me, he opened another secret door inside his room. I didn’t look like a door at first. I thought it was just a part of the wall with its spread wide ornament wallpaper.
I felt him squeezed my palm as he fired up the lights. My jaw dropped when a peculiar room flashed before my eyes. It was another part of the house I didn’t see before.
“W-what is this room?” I asked, almost out of breath.
There were large monitors and computers. It was almost like a tech office like the one I’d seen in the movies. The walls were glass and I could actually see the other side. It was another room, but everything was white. I roamed my eyes around, without letting go of his hand.
“Tell me, Brandon. Is that what I think it is?”
“What?” he asked, his voice gravelly.
I just felt that my whole body shivered as I saw the same telephone, the desk, the chair… it was where I first talked to him.
“Is this one-way?”
I swallowed hard, “Damn, you could really see me from the other side. Why are you showing me this?” I questioned in a low voice.
“I wanted to show you who I was before I met you,” he said. God, he said it as if we’ve met a long time ago.
“I don’t understand—” I bit my bottom lip.
“I never used it after you,” he confessed. Oh God, if I were the same person before, and if I didn’t know who he was and then I saw this? I swear I could sue him for doing this. It was a damned spine-chilling.
“Why not?” I asked, trying to calm my voice. I looked up to his tormented face.
“You’ve changed me,” he said.
“Oh God, Brandon,” I scratched my hair in frustration, confusion, “What are those computers for? The big monitors?”
“You were right before. There were CCTVs installed in the house so I would know what’s going on without coming out, but also to see if anyone is going to break in,” he said, then he turned around and looked at me, “You see… I’m paranoid, Alayna, but I changed and I want you to know at least this part of me.”
I curtly nodded, “Alright, I get it. Did you do all of this because of what happened to your family?”
“Yes. I don’t want it to happen again.”
“But why they are shut down now?”
“I’m not using this room, Alayna,”
I frowned, “Why not?”
“It was the only place I know I’m safe but I don’t want to live like this anymore. When you came into my life, I started to view things differently. I want to live a normal life again.”
He gazed back as if he was in pain. I could the agony on his face. He couldn’t stop clutching my hand with his sweaty palms. He was extremely anxious and worried while showing me the room, showing me what kind of a person he was.
“Do you still accept me?” he asked, “After showing this to you, do you still accept me for who I am?”
I smiled at him weakly, my eyes also had failed me. I felt my tear oozing out of my eyes, down my cheeks. “I do. I do accept you. I like it, you being honest and open with me.”
He let out a soft sob, “Thank you, Alayna. I’m so afraid that you won’t accept me after this.”
I touched his cheek, “I think I received all the shocks a person could handle when the first time I met you. I will accept you no matter what. You are a survivor, Brandon. Never forget that. Can we go out now?”
“Of course,” he forced a smile when he held my hand and brought my palm on his lips. “Wait, uh… I’m free tomorrow. Do you want to come with me?”
I couldn’t help but grin, “To where?”
“My mother has a villa in Portland—in Oregon. Oliver is going to take us there. I want to be with you.”
“Wow, can you go out that far now?”
“Uh, I think so,” his brows furrowed, “Though, I’m still figuring that out. I wanted to try.”
I slipped my arms around his waist then hugged him closely. “Of course, I will come. Wherever you like, Brandon.” I said as I inhale the scent of sandalwood and unscented soap on his chest. “But I’m still sleeping on your bed tonight.”
He chuckled, “I won’t let you go out tonight either.”
As I laid down next to him, I rested my head on his chest as I let him stroke my hair. He let me touch the traces of his scar under the thin fabric of his shirt. He felt so incredible, so unreal.
“Are you ever going to tell me what happened to this?” I asked.
“I’ve never been a woman in this bed before,” he randomly said.
He changed the subject. I guess he wasn’t ready to tell another story to me and I understood that showing me that the room was too much for the day.
I frowned, rolling over so I could look at his face, “Have you fell in love before?” The question won’t hurt, right?
“Yes,” he admitted. “Have you?”
I nodded, “Yeah. Tell me about your first love.”
“I don’t think you want to hear it,” he grinned. He wrapped his arms around my back.
“I want to know. It was typical info for the current girlfriend to know about her boyfriend’s past love, right?”
I threw him a scowl, “Am I not?” I pouted.
He chuckled, “Of course, you are.”
I bit my lower lip, smiling, “So tell me?”
“Hmm,” he hummed.
“She’s—she’s a tomboy, actually…” He began to speak as I found his eyes brightened up. Guessing from his facial expression, I could tell that it was a good story. “There was no feminine side in her gestures. I’ve known her since we were in grade school. We playmates too and her mother was my mom’s best friend.”
“So, she was close to your family?”
“Yes. My mother likes her.”
“Do you think your mom would like me?”
“You’re a good person and an excellent cook, Alayna. Of course, she would.”
I chuckled, “Okay, continue your story.”
“We never dated.” He smirked. It was a sound of regret, but I let him continue. “She liked me too but I was a jerk. I dated several girls in our school and even older women, but I never get the chance to tell her that I loved her.”
“Oh, that was—that was sad.” Really. “Then what happened?”
“This?” he shrugged. “This happened.”
I sighed. “Like can be so unfair, no? Anyway, Madam Lennie said it happens about more than ten years, but Oliver said it was a decade. How really old are you when all of this happened?”
“You mean when I started to like her or when the uh…”
“I was fifteen when I became aware of my feelings for her. I didn’t see her since all of this happened to me. I was eighteen.”
“I thought you were seventeen.”
He chuckled, “I was almost eighteen, so Lennie is quite a bit right. It was almost eleven years for now. It all happened a month before my birthday.”
“Oh, I see. What did she look like? Where is she now? What’s her name?”
“Too many questions.” He grinned. “Hmm, Pauline. She’s pretty, smart, the popular type. Her hair was short, she has freckles on the top of her nose and cheeks and she’s tall. I guessed she’s still in Greece. I don’t know or maybe she moved away? She always wanted to fly here... in New York.”
“I didn’t know you’re such a playboy. You broke her heart by leaving her just like that without even telling her.”
“Would you rather want me to go back to her? I could look for her if you like,” he joked, raising an eyebrow.
“You are mine. Don’t ever come back there or even bringing her back here!” I admitted that I was a little jealous but their story was kind of miserable, to be honest.
“It’s your turn. Tell me your love story.”
“My love story is here with me.” I teased.
“Oh come on, Alayna. Be fair. I wanted to hear about it.”
I sighed, “Okay but promise me that you wouldn’t be very shocked.”
“Why, is it very shocking?” he frowned.
“Ugh, no. Okay. I had three boyfriends, seven flings and two long-distance relationships.”
He flinched. “That was such a number.”
“I never slept with the seven flings or the long distance relationship though.”
He exhaled a sharp breath, “Okay. I don’t think I want to hear about the flings. Just tell me what happened?”
“The first ex-boyfriend was my first love. He was my classmate. Things were great but were both kids so immaturity came first. It was nothing like your story. We broke up. That’s it!
My second ex-boyfriend was cruel. I was already working in a restaurant while I’m still in college. He was our regular customer. He was also a student. He was gorgeous. I loved him so much I even supported him for his second major in college. I supported him financially even if I missed giving enough for the family. He depended on me. Until I found out that he was cheating on me. He was using this money for his other woman. That is why I’m sick of people who depended on another people, except for my family of course. My mother depends on me because she cannot work anymore. I learned to become an independent person.
My third ex-boyfriend was the most person who broke my heart into million pieces. He only wanted me for sex and money at the same time. I fell in love with him because he was kind and considerate at first. He was sweet and caring, and thoughtful. Then, I found out that he was only using me. He was filming me having sex with him secretly selling the video on a porn site. Do you know how my world fell apart? I could still remember every shit and the embarrassment it caused me. He’s an indie porn star. I wasn’t the only victim. Don’t be surprised if you see my face one day in one of those videos so don’t ever try watching one of those videos.”
My heart still aches just by remembering it. The whole world already saw my defenseless state. I had to tell him because I don’t want him to take aback when he found out about it and I didn’t tell him so I have decided to tell him first.
Brandon stared at me. His jaw hardened, “I’m going to kill your third ex-boyfriend,” he swore, letting out a deep growl.
“You don’t have to make your hands dirty for someone like him.”
“I can ask someone who could wipe out the all of the videos uploaded to every site, but you have to give me a copy so the hackers would find any similar videos to delete it all. It’s not impossible with the technology today.”
“No. Please, don’t watch it, please.”
“No, of course. It could be the death of me,” he exhaled out sharply, “I don’t want to see any man touching you even if it’s in the past but I’m afraid the hackers would have to see it. It’s their job and they are used to it. I don’t want them to see your body too because it belongs to me now but we don’t have a choice. It’s only going to spread if we don’t take an action. I’m glad you told me about this.”
My cheeks flared up. “My other suitors stopped seeing me when I told them about it but with you… I just have a feeling that I could tell this to you. You are the best man ever.” I enveloped my arms around his chest and rested my head on chest.
“You brought out the best in me, Alayna. You’re a victim. I loved everything about you as you have accepted everything about me.”
“I’m excited about our trip tomorrow,” I told him.
“Me too, Alayna.”