I sit in the car driving towards Dylan’s restaurant as I hold Amaya’s hand in my own, the Weeknd’s Die For You just now starting to play. I subtly glance over to her as the opening starts.
I’m findin’ ways to articulate
The feeling I’m goin’ through
I just can’t say I don’t love you
’Cause I love you, yeah
It’s hard for me to communicate the thoughts that I hold
But tonight I’m gon’ let you know
Let me tell the truth
Baby, let me tell the truth, yeah
She starts to sing it softly, most likely trying to hide the fact that she’s actually singing the song, but I’m listening so damn close because I want to hear her and only her. I want to get lost in the feelings that swallow me whole whenever I’m around her.
You know what I’m thinkin’
See it in your eyes
You hate that you want me
Hate it when you cry
You’re scared to be lonely
’Specially in the night
I come in too, letting her know that I can hear her singing and that she doesn’t have to be embarrassed. It seems like I’m always singing, but for some reason I want this to be our song and ours alone, making it something that has a hidden message when it plays. Maybe I’m obsessed with this woman I want to promise my entire life to, well, that part is obvious, but I’m caught in this song too. I can relate it back to what she makes me feel.
I’m scared that I’ll miss you
Happens every time
I don’t want this feelin’
I can’t afford love
I try to find reason to pull us apart
It ain’t workin’ ’cause you’re perfect
And I know that you’re worth it
I can’t walk away, oh!
I know she was scared of letting go of me and even more scared of the idea of holding on, so this time, I’m not giving her the chance to getaway. If we argue we’re going to face it head-on, I’m not going to let her walk, I’m going to make it clear that I love her and only her and I won’t sleep if she isn’t allowing me to hold her.
Even though we’re going through it
And it makes you feel alone
Just know that I would die for you
Baby I would die for you, yeah
The distance and the time between us
It’ll never change my mind, ’cause baby
I would die for you
Baby I would die for you, yeah
As we sit there belting out the words to the song in what seems to be a peaceful harmony, her hand squeezes my own a bit tighter and I hold them close to my heart where she’s always going to be. That bright smile that I’d go through hell and back to make sure stays there is all I can see as I switch my eyes from the road to her, wanting to catch that breathtaking gaze even if it’s just for a few seconds.
God, if she stays looking at me like she is right now I swear I’m going to beg her to elope.
It feels like I’ve helped to put her back together from how broken she occasionally sees herself though she’s anything but. Amaya is the strongest person that I have ever met and I wish she could see herself through my eyes. I plan on showing her every day for the rest of our lives what she means and pray that she can soak in even a fraction of what I feel.
I can’t get my heart to stop pounding out of my chest when I’m with her half of the time and now that we’re pulling up to Familia y Fio which leads up to the first event of the night, needless to say, I’m more than a bit skittish. I try not to make it known that I’m having an internal freakout as we get out of the car, our hands immediately going back to each other when we’re side by side.
The night is warm and this time the stars are shining bright enough to place that twinkle in the grey eyes that I can’t stop myself from dreaming about, but now I can’t help but wonder if one of these twins will end up with those same mesmerizing eyes. I hope so.
The news is still hitting me. She’s pregnant again, this time with twins. Aaron’s going to be an older sibling and I know he’s going to do well, but a part of me is still worried about myself. I’m doing alright with Aaron, for now, but what if I mess up with these twins. What if they end up hating me? What if I don’t know what to do when they’re born?
I know you have to cradle a baby’s head when you’re holding them, don’t leave it hanging and you tell them you love them as we do with Aaron. The difference is that babies require more patience and time.
I’m always going to do what I have to do to keep my children safe.
Walking into the restaurant I make sure to hold the door open for Amaya which triggers memories of our first date to crash into me and though a lot has changed, that same smile is on her face that was previously there. I also think it’s clear that we’re more comfortable around each other than we used to be back then since we were awkward as all hell.
She’s actually really cute when she’s awkward. Those cheeks get all red and she starts to bite down on her bottom lip as a defense mechanism. I love that about her but I want her to be comfortable around me and true to herself no matter how it goes.
“How can I help you?” Dylan’s voice comes from behind before we turn in unison to see him standing there with this knowing smile, but he isn’t in uniform. Instead of the typical slacks and button-up shirt, he wears a pair of black jeans and a USC sweatshirt. “By I, I mean Kenny since I’m making him take the rest of my shift so I can go on a date and actually enjoy my night.”
Cody creeps up slowly and motions for us to stay silent so he can snake his arms around Dylan’s waist, holding him close. A blush appears as Cody places his lips on Dylan’s cheek that turns. I’m glad they’re happy with each other and out in the open.
“What are the two of you up to?” Cody doesn’t take his eyes off of Dylan as the question comes out. I see the pure love and admiration he gets when he gazes down at him and wonder if people see that same look on my face when I hold Amaya in my arms. Like she’s the only woman that could make up my world, which she is unless we have a daughter that is.
“I’m treating my girl to dinner, but then, the majority of the night is a surprise to her.” I pull Amaya to me, my front to her back as I rest my hands on her cute baby bump. I can’t wait to cuddle up with her later. “I hope you enjoy your evening together because I sure as hell will be enjoying mine.” There’s a hidden innuendo in there and I know Amaya picked up on it with the slight blush on her face.
“Oh you don’t have to worry about us enjoying our night, we’ll definitely be enjoying it too.” Cody isn’t discreet about anything either; his lips falling to Dylan’s ear.
“Code… behave…” I don’t think he wants him to.
“You guys want to hang out before break is over?” Cody forces himself to look away from Dylan and I have a good idea as to why, but I’d rather not think about other people’s pervy thoughts when I’ve got too damn much of my own.
I wait to answer the question since I’m running on what Amaya’s comfortable with, for now, I don’t feel like leaving her alone while she’s pregnant, what if she wants or needs me?
“Of course,” Amaya responds with a soft smile.
“We’ll text the group chat later, have a good night.” We say our goodbyes before they head out, hand in hand.
“Oh thank God, it’s finally people I like.” Kenny walks in wearing a white button-down shirt, an apron, and a pair of slacks. “I can’t begin to tell you how many assholes have come in here today on their period” -he looks to Amaya apologetically- “because they had to wait for food.” He starts leading us over to the booths.
“They wanted some quick shit they should’ve gone to the McDonald’s 0.7 miles down the road rather than a sit-down establishment.”
Kenny has always been the type of person to bottle up how he feels on the inside, the same as Dylan actually, but it doesn’t matter. The part that shocked me wasn’t the fact that he got pissed over people being impatient which you’ll always find, but it’s the fact that I’ve rarely ever heard him say swear words.
“Woah, Ken, are we gonna have to get you a swear-jar?” I lightly tease while taking a seat next to Amaya in the booth he led us to.
“Watch it, Harper, you never want to piss off the person that gives you food.” Well, that makes me feel a bit uneasy.
“Oh come on, you know we love you.” Amaya leans into me a bit; I drape my arm over her shoulders before my lips fall on her forehead.
“Yeah, yeah, mhm, now what do you want to drink?” Who pissed in his cereal this morning.
“Okay.” Kenny places two menus down in front of us with his face set in a grim line. “I’ll be back with your drinks shortly and it’d be great if you knew what you wanted by then.”
Kenny ditches us to the company of each other and I couldn’t be happier about it because I’ve got a few questions that she has to answer.
I stare at the side of Amaya’s face. “How’d you know?”
“Know what?” Her tongue darts across her lips as she works on suppressing a smile but I can still see it.
“That I was going to propose to you. I saw a lot on your face yesterday and I know when you know something but are hiding it. We’ve known each other for just over fourteen years now.” I’m proud of myself for being able to read her so well. “I know someone had to have told you. At least I don’t think you stumbled across the ring though you might have if the hospital gave you my belongings.”
I’m surprised the ring didn’t suffer any damage in the whole incident.
“How long were you carrying it around for.”
“About a month and a half,” I shrug after but notice how she stiffens at my answer.
“Dammit, that’s the one thing I didn’t want to be true,” she mutters out with her head now hanging in shame at her actions or maybe it’s mine. I don’t know much of anything.
“I hate when you do that,” I find myself whispering out.
“Do what?” Amaya asks, making eye-contact with me.
“You beat yourself up over shit that’s in the past. How don’t you see that I’m over all of that? I want to be with you whether things got into the way to slow down the plans I had. You’re it for me. Eres mia.” I place my lips on top of her head once again, a hand going up so I can curl one of her strands of hair on my finger.
“Amaya, listen to me and listen close.” I tilt her head up to me and suddenly it’s like we’re not even sitting in this restaurant where people can see us and potentially hear the conversation we’re having. It’s just us. It’s just me and Amaya, me trying to get her to realize that she needs to place the past in the past and let go. “I love you for the way that you are and nothing, absolutely nothing, could change that.
“I want a life with you where we have a nice house where Aaron and the twins can run their little hearts out along with any other children we have. I want you no matter what has happened in our past. I don’t care that you’ve hurt me or-”
“That right there is the problem. I care!” the words come out so quick that it hits me off guard. “I care that I’ve hurt you when you treat me as if I’m the only person that can give you this happiness. I care that nobody else can knock that cute dorky smile you get off your face in a way that leaves you shattered.
“It’s not just the two of us like it was back when our relationship originally started. We have Aaron and the twins on the way.”
“Amaya-” she doesn’t allow me to finish my sentence.
“I can’t look at you without seeing the pain that I’ve caused. I can’t think about us without the memories of falling asleep alone all those nights coming to mind too.” This time I let her get all her emotions off her chest without interruptions because if I know what’s on her mind I can squash those thoughts down to nothing.
“You’re not gonna have to fall asleep alone anymore.”
“Is that all you got from that?” Her voice sounds so exasperated but I can tell there’s the slightest amount of joy that came with that sentence being let out.
“You’re one of a kind, Shawn, that’s for damn sure.”
“I can say the same exact thing about you.” That’s the full-hearted truth too, when I’m with her, well the feeling is just so incomparable to anything else I’ve experienced. Hell, my best memories come when I’m with her or even Aaron. “And I want you to come to me from now on about each of your doubts, don’t keep it inside. Let me in.”
“I think I can do that.”
“Good, because I don’t like seeing you like this.” Her arms go around my neck and I swear to God I slowly melt away in her hold.
“I don’t deserve you.”
“You deserve anything that you could ever want,” I whisper into her ear, “and two nights ago was definitely enough to tell me you want me.”
“And this is why we can’t have moments,” she sighs out before I shake my head and rest a hand on her thigh.
“We can always have moments. I can stop with the jokes if they make you feel uncomfortable… but placing all of that aside, I know you want me more than physically. I feel that same way about you. Let me prove that to you every single day.” She stares up at me before her hands wrap around the collar of my black jacket, pulling my lips down to her own with an urgency that I haven’t seen within her in a while but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like it.
“Ay, none of that here, this place is family-friendly!” Kenny scolds before I’m slapped on the back of my head.
I groan as I separate myself from Amaya, my breathing heavy and I can tell hers is too.
“Don’t hit me, Kenneth Dustin Fiorilli!” We draw the attention of others in the restaurant.
“Damn Shawn Matthew Harper, you sound like my dad giving me the full name yelling thing. You have been evolving to this whole dad thing, haven’t you?” I don’t know if that’s supposed to be taken as a compliment or not.
“Yeah, you can say something like that,” I respond as he places our drinks down on the table, “I like being on this side.”
“I’d bet, no more reckless party animal?”
“Hold up, I was never a reckless party animal.” That right there is a bit of a lie because there have been a few occasions where I would get out of hand at parties, but I’ve always had reasons for getting the way that I have.
“Come on Shawn, everyone knows about Echo Lenard.”
I look over to Amaya, noticing how she’s now sipping on her strawberry milkshake, giving it her full attention.
“That was a complex situation, Kenny, nobody even knows the reason that I fought him. I don’t think he even knows.”
“Okay… you guys know what you want to eat?”
“Double bacon cheeseburger with french fries,” I answer first before waiting for Amaya to say what she wants.
“Chicken tenders and french fries.” She smiles at Kenny as she orders and I swear to all hell if and when we have a baby girl she’s going to look like her. “Double the fries please.”
“Gotcha, anything else?”
“I’m good, how about you, A?” I watch as she bites down on her lip before shaking her head. “I guess there’s your answer.”
“Alright… but please keep it PG. I don’t want people coming in here for sex-ed.” Amaya’s face turns a tomato red and I swear to all hell it has me falling more and more for her.
I guess that’s the thing with me, practically everything she does whether it’s big or small has me realizing how much I love her.
“We won’t do anything, I promise.” I make sure to cross my fingers as the words come out.
“Mhm, you know where to get me if you need me.”
He doesn’t wait for us to say anything as he’s already walking off to the kitchen.
“I know you want to put the past behind us” -she looks me dead in the eye- “but why did you fight Echo, especially knowing that he was two years older than us.” I bite down on the inside of my cheek, thinking about the night the cops had to bring me home two years ago because of my fighting.
“For one, it was over you,” I warn before taking a long sip of Dr. Pepper.
“Whenever you get into fights it has something to deal with me, but what happened?”
“You were drinking, not much, but you were such a light-weight back then since you’d only drank twice before.” My jaw clenches as I try to fight the memories out of my head. “Something was on your mind that night, I could tell, but you didn’t want to talk so I didn’t push it. I should’ve stopped you from picking up that first cup.”
“What happened?” she asks again and I can tell she’s starting to worry.
“Echo was talking about grabbing you in your weak state and getting some.” Those eyes widen and I swear to all God this is the reason I never told her about it. I wanted to protect her from the what-if case-scenarios that could haunt her. “I’m glad I heard him when I did because he was approaching you already.
“I grabbed him by the arm and was hauling his ass out of the house even though he was already starting to fight me. I didn’t want to have other people getting in the way of it all but I knew I could take him, I knew how to fight and I knew how to take hits too, football taught me that much.” I take her hand in my own. “I kept thinking about what he might’ve done and that fueled me into doing all the damage that I did.
“I was the one that made sure the boys got you back to my house before things got too harsh and the only reason the cops brought me home instead of the station is that I told them what he was going to attempt doing.” It feels like a small weight has been lifted off of my chest before I place my hands on both of Amaya’s cheeks.
“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
“I didn’t want to see that broken look on your face that’s there right now. I also didn’t want you to be thinking about the what-ifs.” Please don’t be mad at me. Please don’t be mad at me.
“You don’t have to thank me, the sick bastard had it coming,” I find myself growling out before she pecks my cheek.
“I love you” -she places another kiss, this time on my lips- “so fucking much, Shawn. Just let me thank you.”
“Depends, how many times you gonna kiss me if I let you?”
“I don’t know, you’ll have to find out later.” She makes sure to wink after.
“Requesting a change of subject before we skip dinner and get to the good stuff.” Amaya’s pearly smile comes into view.
“Alright, tell me what you want, long-term wise.” I find my hand falling to her bump.
“Well, besides you, my main goal is to do my best towards our children. I want to be like my mom in the spect of her always making it clear that even when we piss each other off I can still go to her.” I take a long sip of my soda.
“I want to be successful on my terms and yours and Jonah’s situation actually ended up inspiring the idea.” Her eyes slightly narrow as she waits for me to elaborate. “Dylan and I were talking about things a few months ago and we want to help other kids that are in those types of situations.”
“So… you want to start some sort of help center?” She seems to take a slight interest in the idea.
“Yeah, but more than just that. We plan on giving them more outlets of things that they can do since some people get into gangs because they’re looking for a sense of freedom or family. I want people to know that there are more creative options and allow those kids to see that they aren’t alone. We’ll also offer counseling if they want it of course.”
I wait for her to show even a sign of how she’s processing things but she’s keeping everything so neutral on her face.
“There you are, still trying to find new ways to help people,” she finally says something.
“I’ve seen first-hand what that shit does to someone and I don’t want other kids going through that. God, I still remember that rage I would feel when you’d come to me bruised and battered.” She rips her eyes away from me, her head falling again but I don’t allow it to stay down long as I’m already lifting her chin, forcing her to look me in the eye. “I’m gonna do my fucking hardest to make sure nobody else hurts you.”
“I can’t stand that defeated look, Amaya, please, let me protect you. If you don’t agree I swear to all hell I’m going to do it anyway because that’s what you do for someone you love.”
“Okay,” she gives in.
Eres mia- You are mine