Elegant Deception

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Twenty Four

Dean started fidgeting, fixing his hair, shirt, and denim jacket. And for the fifth time, he asked about his appearance.

“Dean, as I’ve said, you look fine. My mother doesn’t judge you by how you look… maybe.” I muttered the last words since I’ll feel guilty lying to him if she did. But my mother was different in comparison to Dean’s mother, Dalia.

Annie Nolan was a head nurse at a memorial hospital. She raised two girls while finishing her nursing degree after marrying her high school sweetheart, Raymond Nolan, who took a job at his father’s car shop as a mechanic. With a high school diploma, he provided for his family, shouldered his wife schooling, and raised two daughters by working night shifts as a security guard. Not once he complains about it.

I briefly gave Dean a background of my parents yesterday night when he decided to have a sleepover. A warm feeling bubbled in my chest seeing how interested he was. He kept asking questions. Feeling left out, I returned the favor and asked him about his parents. And there was a lot of commonality between Nolan’s and Garcia’s. It was a miracle we were able to get some sleep with how much stories we told between us.

For one, after my mother got a stable job as a nurse, Annie Nolan and Dalia Garcia were the breadwinners of the family. Though Raymond Nolan and Antonio Garcia had steady careers, their wives were the powerhouse professionals. And it was obvious how proud they were with their wives through the years. It showed how April and I were both capable young woman, and Dean growing up independent and successful in his trade.

Once I rang the doorbell, Dean’s mood was rubbing off me. I was getting nervous too. For one, I left a tidbit of information last night. Annie Nolan, recently, wasn’t an easy woman to please. Or maybe she became strict after my engagement break-up with Flynn. And I forgot to tell her about my recent encounter with him, or about Dean. I hope April, at least, give her a gist about what happened in my life the last couple of weeks.

What would my mother think? I should have given her prior information before I fed him to the sharks.

“Amy, I thought you won’t be here until this afternoon.” My mother said rather than greeted as she opened the door.

“Hi, mom,” I greeted and slightly move in front of Dean, giving him a few seconds to compose himself. “I’m here for an unusual visit. Maybe April had told or hinted something about me…” I trailed off as my mother’s eyes strayed behind me.

It was then Dean stepped around my shadow and stood by my side. Mom gave him a brief knowingly look before fully opening the door. “Oh my, I didn’t know you’re bringing a guest with you for a change.” She then gestured for Dean to enter. “Hi, I don’t seem we’ve met before. And you are?”

She didn’t wait until Dean got in the house to get to her questions, which is typical of Annie Nolan. This was a familiar reaction for my mother. So I knew how to properly intervene.

I walked in front of Dean, guiding him closely by my heel. I grabbed his wrist, and lightly tugged him on my opposite side, where I’ll be between him and my mother.

“Mom, this is Dean Garcia.” I introduced.

My mother arched her eyebrow at my response. However, she quickly recovered with a smile and held out her hand to Dean. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Garcia.”

Dean briefly shook her hand. His voice was even and confident. “The pleasure is all mine, Mrs. Nolan. Are you home alone, ma’am?” He asked.

“No, my husband’s in the living room. Why don’t we join him? I’d like to know what’s your relationship with my daughter. Because after her last relationship, she stopped bringing any male friends to this house.” She replied.

I sighed. My shoulder slumped in defeat. We were still by the entrance and she was already hounding me with the typical trouble relationship sermon.

In the corner of my eyes, I saw Dean’s smiling and getting comfortable. He seemed to find my mother’s words amusing. I nudged his hip. He flinched and grinned guiltily in apology.

For a moment, I forgot my mother was with us and keeping a close, hawk-like observation with our every move. Obviously, she noticed that brief exchange. Yet she didn’t address anything after her speech. Though it was a short-lived breather until we reached the living room. As we entered the threshold, my mother clasped her hand to get my father’s attention away from the television.

He looked up from his thick glasses. His eyes quickly darted to Dean’s before looking back at me in recognition. “Pumpkin, I didn’t know you’re coming over for a visit this early. And you brought company too.” He stated and addressed Dean. “Who might you be, sir?”

I kept a firm stance beside him. It was then I’m aware of my lingering grip on his wrist. I tightened my grip, giving him assurance when it took him a second to find his words.

Dean hastily glanced in my direction. I nodded in encouragement. He stepped away and walking slowly towards my father, who sat across the room. “Mr. Nolan, my name is Dean Garcia. I’m actually here as a formality and to ask for your permission, and hopefully blessing as well...” he paused to stop in his tracks and peered around to my mother. “…also you, Mrs. Nolan. I’m here to ask your permission to date your eldest daughter, Amy.”

There was a beat of silence in the room. Even I’m stunned as my parents with what Dean said. I didn’t expect him to blurt or say it that way.

The first to break the silence was my mother’s chuckles. My father looked at her, a smile slowly creeping on the edges of his lips. He then turned to Dean and then me. “Well, we heard as much from April about you dating someone decent. I didn’t expect he would be someone who had the guts be here in person and saying all of these things.” It was then my father started chuckling as well. “Dean,” he paused, “may I call you, Dean?”

“Of course, sir,” Dean replied without a thought.

My father grinned. “Dean, it’s not us who you should be asking these things. It’s Amy who has that power to decide whom she chooses to be with. However, we’re grateful that you took the time, and gathered the wits to ask both of us with our daughter standing beside you.”

“That’s sweet of you, Dad. Thank you for trusting me on that part of my life.” I interjected, inching closer to him.

“However,” he held up his hand, telling us he wasn’t finished, “it doesn’t mean we won’t judge. And we’ll still be judging whether he is best for you or not. Because what parent won’t think what’s best for their children?”

I laughed. “Of course there was a catch,” I said in between chuckles.

My mother shook her head and moved closer to me until he grasps my shoulder. “I think this is the time I’m taking my daughter away to the kitchen while you men talk.” She pointed out.

I met my mother’s gaze. She gave me an assuring smile. I slowly let go of Dean’s hand.

He slid his fingers, gripping mine this time. “You’ll be fine, Dean. My dad won’t bite.” I whispered to him.

He tugged me closer before placing a light kiss on my forehead. “I know. And I’ll be asking my questions as well.” He stated back. His eyes gleam with mischievousness.

It was then my mother ushered me out of the room. I was unsure what Dean meant and didn’t have time to react. As my mother and I made a turn in the hallway towards the kitchen, she linked her arm around mine.

“So, how did you two meet? That’s always the first question people would ask.” She asked

My worry about Dean’s secretive agenda, which meant interrogating my father about me (by my comprehension) was gone. And now I’m stressing on my mother’s inquisitive questions.

But thinking about how we met, I found myself smiling rather than worrying about how people may see it. For an outsider, it was an unconventional first meeting. How many people in the world ended up dating the bartender from your 30th birthday party? I’m sure there is a small percentage, but it’s one in a million kind of luck.

And thinking how fortunate we met at the right time, place, and moment in my life, my grin only widens.

“Looking at your expression, I’ll guess it was a wonderful night for you.” My mother remarked when I didn’t reply.

“No.” I abruptly answered. “It wasn’t like that, mom. But for both of us, looking back, it may have been one of our worst nights. However, when we both started talking and enjoying each other’s company, I think that’s when things changes. I had doubted on ever finding someone special in my life… then I met Dean.”

Without a switch or a sign, my mother’s eyes started getting teary. She wiped a stray tear. “Oh, my dear. I’m so happy that you’ve finally found someone after… you know, what happened with your ex… I thought you’d lose hope and won’t take a leap of faith.”

“For a moment, I did, mom. I lost a bit of hope. However, Dean has a way with his words, actions, and in showing that he did care about me.”

“And thank god for that! I thought you’d be alone for the rest of your life. Not that we were against it if you did…”

I held up my hand to stop her. “I know you don’t want me being alone, mom. You were very forthcoming on it.”

She bashfully grinned. “I was. Sorry. But let’s not think of the past since now you’ve found someone who would be there with you through thick and thin, and for richer and poorer.”

“Mom, we’re not getting married. We’ve just started dating. Let’s not get carried away.” I warned.

“I didn’t insinuate anything like that… besides, do you have any news about April and her boyfriend? She stopped gushing about him from her last phone call.”

I sighed.

Of course, she won’t tell our mom about that or she’ll be on the end of her sermons, which she’d second-handedly heard from me. “They’re just going through a brief rough patch. What relationship doesn’t have its downs, mom? She’ll be fine.” I reassured her.

“Okay. But would you please check up on her for me?”

“Of course, mom.”

She smiled. And without a beat, focused her attention on preparing for lunch.

Dean and I didn’t stay long after we ate. He got a call from Julian and was asked to be extra security. Julian and Zoey were attending a public event in the evening.

After we left my parent’s place, Dean insisted on personally taking me back to my apartment (even bothered to walk me to my door). There was a moment of hesitation on his part while we briefly did our parting speech.

“You know, I’m much more inclined to stay than go since I’m already here.” He lightly admitted.

“I won’t hear any excuses. And you know I’ll just kick you out if you did miss it.” I quipped.

He chuckled under his breath. “Of course you would.” With a heavy sigh, he took a step back. “I’ll try and get back later. I’m sure Julian won’t want to stay longer after the scare they both experience not too long ago.”

“If you do come over later tonight, please let me know. I might be otherwise occupied.” I coyly suggested.

“Occupied with what?” He stopped mid-stride.

“You know this is the first time I’ll get time alone by myself. I might get in the tub, and have a warm bubble bath. After which I might put on a romantic movie, and if I’m still not tired, I’ll read a book.” I narrated my plans for the night.

“That’s very tempting. I feel more compelled to reject now.” He jested, taking a step closer.

I held up my hand, stopping him. “No. You’re going. If you do leave early and come over tonight, I might skip the movie and book, and wait for you on my bed with a something…uhm… a bit revealing.” I teased and give him a flirty wink.

Dean closed his eyes and sighed. “Don’t. Stop trying to tempt me, Amy. I’ll lose my focus on the job and just think of you on that bed.” A slow grin edged on the corner of his lips.

“Oh! I don’t want that. So maybe I would just do movies and books tonight, and maybe you shouldn’t come over later either.” I’m chuckling at my own mischievousness.

Dean walked up to me. He stopped an inch between us before wrapping his arms around my waist. The intimate distance nearly knocked the breath out of me.

“I don’t think that’s fair. At least give me some hope, Amy,” he said.

I got a whiff of his cologne, which didn’t do me any good. My face turned bright red.

“Sorry for leading you on.” I completely broke down in defeat and stopped teasing.

“That’s all you’ve got to say?” He challenged. Now he was leaning closer. His hot breath caressed my flushed cheeks.

“I won’t say anything that I might regret later.” I was almost breathless.

His warm lips grazed my hot cheeks. So I closed my eyes, feeling in the sensation of his touch. Then his lips found mine. The kiss was brief yet sweet. He quickly pulled away, leaving me wanting for more.

“Why don’t you think about that kiss while you take your bubble bath, watch your movie, and focus on your book?” He slowly moved further away again.

I pursed my lips and took a steady, deep breath. Then I finally opened my eyes. “You win this round,” I stated dryly.

Dean laughed and blow me a kiss in the air. “See you, Ams. Love you.”

My heart skipped a beat at his sweet words. I smiled and waved back. I wasn’t able to reply as he descended towards the lobby. My legs felt like jelly as I ran and caught to him at the top of the stairs.

“Love you too, Dean,” I said confidently.

That got him to stop and turn back around.

I wasn’t sure what expression I had, but it made Dean abruptly turn around. His head was down as he held up his hand, waving as he continued descending downstairs. Though I couldn’t see his expression, the reddish tint on the edge of his ears gave me a hint. It was all I needed.

So I won this round as well.

Thank you for reading! Let me know what you think on the comments below. A heart is very much appreciated. Have a lovely weekend!
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