Chapter 48 - Pillow Fights and Hot Springs
༻ Daniel ༺
We had just finished trying out all the VR games in Tops' arcade. We only tried one game each because we know if we get too into it, we'd surely lose track of time.
We decided to come back and play seriously later. Tops said it would be more fun if everybody joined and that was true.
So after that, we walked back to our rooms to unpack. I wanted to take a nap before we head for dinner.
The guys and I barely talked to each other when we entered the room. Everybody minded their own business unpacking and it was cool.
The room was huge, of course, and the interior design was impeccable. There were three King-sized beds for the three of us, all placed on the corners of the room; three wardrobes too. The room had its own bathroom including everything we needed like towels and other necessities. It was very convenient.
I expected nothing less from the Walls' generosity. Their family tree had roots of nobility and most of their wealth and land were passed down for generations.
Anne was in fact correct when she used to call Tops the Little Prince back when we were kids.
I checked the time; still half an hour left before dinner. I wonder if the girls finished up with their spa-day.
Unpacking only took a few minutes. When we were through, we were in our separate beds just passing time by scrolling down our phones.
I wanted to take a nap. The bed was of glorious memory foam and the pillows and blankets were fluffy wonderland. The silence was also pretty nice.
"Hey Dan," Sean suddenly called, sitting up energetically while waving his phone at me. "I have a photo of you asleep in the van. Wanna see your ugly face?"
I spoke too soon.
"Let me see, let me see," Tops got up from his own bed and went over to Sean's. They were clearly bored out of their minds.
When he showed the screen to my cousin, they both snickered at the same time.
I could care less about the photo. I'm gonna take a nap.
I sank myself in the fluffiness and closed my eyes. I won't set an alarm. They'll wake me up when it's time for dinner anyway.
Tops made a low whistle before grabbing my attention again. "So you like being babied huh? Such a spoiled boyfriend, my cousin."
It took a few seconds before I finally realized what that photo was. I sat up on my bed and silently demanded to see it.
"Kristina sure is taking good care of our widdle baby boy," Sean said, puckering his lips and changing the pitch of his voice into something that will make even Janice from Friends cringe.
I sighed. He stole some shots when I was asleep on Kristina's lap. Since he was at the front seat while we were at the back, he probably just zoomed in to get a clearer shot or used the rearview mirror.
When they swiped to the next photo, Tops snorted loudly before bursting into a fit of cackles.
"Dude! Seriously!" He said in-between cackles and then gave Sean a high five.
Before I could guess what it was this time, Tops showed me the photo on the screen from across the room.
Sean edited the photo and put a damn pacifier on my mouth. Added quite some artistic doodles too.
They laughed like the hyenas they were and I sighed, pulling out my phone and revealing my own secret weapon.
I flashed them the screen and showed them their own hideous faces.
Picture number one - Sean sleeping on the front seat of the van with his head on an awkward angle. His mouth was wide open with a little drool on the corner, and his eyes were slightly open, exposing his sclera.
Disgusting, I know.
Picture number two - Tops sleeping on Anne's shoulder while hugging her arm like a toddler. His mouth was also widely open. The angle of the shot made it extremely hilarious.
Made me question myself again if we were really blood-related.
"How?!?" Sean exclaimed, horrified at his own appearance.
"Don't show that to Anne!!!" Tops cried, his expression just now almost resembling The Scream.
Earlier when Tim stopped by a gas station for a little pee-break, everybody was already passed out in the van. I woke up for a bit because I felt the vehicle stop moving.
I don't know what came over me, but I told Tim to take Sean and Tops' photos at that moment and to send it to me. He happily obliged.
I kind of guessed one of them would pull something like this, so I took action just in case. And I was right.
As Sun Tzu said in the Art of War, know your enemy. In my case, know your damn friends.
Before they could dash to my bed and confiscate my phone, I simultaneously threw two pillows, smacking right into their faces. A hard double-attack.
The sound of the impact was quite impressive and the force was enough to stop them from their tracks. They literally fell on the ground just from that.
"Fools," I declared, looking down on them from my bed. I sent them a smug grin before threatening to press 'send' on my phone. I was about to send their photos in our group chat for the whole gang to see. "You dare challenge me?"
I didn't intend to send it though. I just wanted to piss them off.
"You tyrant!" Sean cried in defeat. He grabbed the pillows I hit them with and quickly returned the favor. "You're going down!"
Tops crawled back to his bed to retrieve more pillows to attack me with. "This is war!!!"
And with that, an interesting pillow fight began...
"Oh this is gold," Ella chuckled in amusement as she pointed at the three of us. "You guys are late... because of a pillow fight."
We hung our heads in shame.
When we arrived at the dining area, the girls were already at the table. They already started eating without us since we took our sweet time.
"That sounds fun," Kristina laughed. She was looking at me and I just know she was dying to tease me about it later.
"I'm sure it was exciting," Anne also joined in the laughter. "You can all tell us about it while we eat. Now take your seats. The food's getting cold."
Like little children, we nodded and went to take our seats.
The outcome of our intense battle earlier was a truce; and the memory was still fresh. It played in slow motion in my head--disturbingly enough.
I had the upper hand from the beginning, but then I ran out of ammo (pillows) and like the little beasts they were, Sean and Tops aimed for my legs.
They each grabbed a hold of my leg to immobilize me and I had to painfully reach for a pillow on the floor to smack the critters away.
Tops screamed bloody murder and I almost felt violated when they put their hands all over my body to search for my phone and to delete their ugly photos.
They were that desperate to hide it from the girls.
What image were they trying to protect anyway?
Due to all the rapid movements in those few minutes of battle, Sean accidentally got kicked in the face, Tops slipped again and landed on his hip and my phone fell heavily on the ground.
Sounds of something cracking silenced and freezed everybody in the room. After staring at my phone on the cold floor for a few seconds, late reaction followed. The guys panicked more than when I threatened to send their photos to the girls.
They quickly released my legs and checked if my phone was okay.
It was. Only a small portion of the screen got cracked.
I scoffed. They valued my phone more than my bones.
They sighed in relief that it was still alive despite its appearance and then the three of us slowly stared at each other like dimwits.
"We won't show Tinz the picture if you won't show the girls ours." Tops said, raising a white pillowcase on the air. Even the innocent pillows got stripped because of the battle royale.
I looked at him seriously before nodding in agreement. We deleted those photos in our phones at the same time and swore there weren't any copies.
A truce was called and we were sworn to secrecy regarding the cause of that fight.
And that's how it ended.
"We just got bored, that's all," Tops shrugged, completely nonchalant as he chewed on his steak. Anne was looking at him like she knew exactly what was going on.
"Yeah," Sean added while taking a piece of everything on the table. The table was practically filled with everything on the menu; but in smaller portions just enough for the six of us. "Dan started it."
I almost gasped at the accusation. Traitor.
I glared daggers at him and he did his best to ignore me by stuffing his face. I then I calmly decided to take the fall so the whole thing could be over with.
I am what they call, a true hero.
"Yeah," I replied, trying and failing to ignore the teasing looks my girlfriend was shooting at me. "The pillows looked too plain so I wanted the boys' faces imprinted on them."
The girls just burst into laughter.
"Oh hey Daniel!" Ella chirped when she opened their door. "Tina! Your butthead's here!"
She sent me a teasing grin before leaving the door open and returning to her bed. Anne passed by and also sent me the same teasing grin.
"Make sure to return Tina tonight, okay mister?"
I playfully rolled my eyes. "Speak for yourself. Tops is coming to pick you up in a bit too."
She stuck her tongue out like a child before she went inside their bathroom.
Kristina finally came out. She changed clothes--probably Ella's idea.
She was now wearing a floral dress with a big coat over her shoulders. Her hair was tied up in a high ponytail; baby hair framing her face softly.
She was also wearing the necklace I gave her, and that made me smile.
"So where are we going?" She asked while closing the door behind her. She was glowing and I could tell she was looking forward to this. I was too.
"We're going to get lost," I replied, taking her hand and putting it inside my pocket. It was a bit chilly tonight. "That was the plan, right?"
We went downstairs and walked across the empty hallways. We passed through random doors that led us to different rooms. We took a quick walk outside too, but then returned because it was freezing.
The whole place was like a smaller version of Tops' private resort at London. I remember him bringing Anne and I there every summer when we were kids.
"How was the VR arcade?" Kristina asked as we randomly circled around the floors, exploring the whole place.
"It was great." I replied. "Wanna try it out?"
"Maybe tomorrow," she smiled. I was pretty sure she'd be good at it, knowing how much she enjoyed challenges.
"How was the spa?" I also asked. I had to. She looked so fresh and her skin was practically glowing.
"It was amazing!" She shared, a little too enthusiastically. It caught me by surprise but I just released a light chuckle. "There was a sauna room, and there were different kinds of soaps and bath salts we could choose from. They had unlimited towels too."
I couldn't stop myself from laughing. Towels? She was adorable.
"We tried the sauna earlier. Oh, the showers were also amazing. It was like raining above us. In just the right temperature."
"You liked it that much, huh?" I smiled. She nodded.
"It was great, but I wouldn't want it in my bathroom. I had to turn it off several times while soaping up to conserve water. But it was so tempting to just leave it running, you know? The pressure of the water was like a massage to my skin. The heat felt amazing. It felt so nice and refreshing."
"I see," I said, releasing her hand from my pocket and wrapping an arm around her waist. "But you have to describe it better so I can imagine the scene more clearly."
I was attempting to make a green joke but she didn't seem to get it. Probably due to all the excitement.
"Let's go there now," she said, her eyes still twinkling with excitement. "You need to see it for yourself."
Before I could even utter a coherent response, she already linked her arm with mine and led me there.
I had to run a hand on my face as we approached the spa.
Unholy thoughts, stand down.
When we arrived, the whole place was quiet. She turned on some switches and warm lights enveloped the place.
The place itself already looked relaxing. But what else would you expect from a spa?
She gave me a small tour on all the areas they tried out earlier and I couldn't help feeling happy at how much she was enjoying herself.
"They have a built-in hot spring in one of the rooms here," she noted, tugging my arm and pointing at a certain door. "Ella said we'll try it out tomorrow but I can't wait. Do you wanna try it with me?"
Unholy thoughts, abort mission. I repeat. Abort. Mission.
And this girl... She was already taking her coat off. I looked up at the ceiling and silently took a deep breath.
My God, why are you testing me?
"They have a changing area over here," she pointed to another room while folding her coat on her arm. "C'mon."
I just let her pull me around the place. I couldn't sneak in a word at all. I don't know if it was due to my lack of sleep or the exhaustion of the long car ride catching up to me, but I had no words.
In the changing area, there were indeed a lot of towels like she said. There were also thin towel-dresses for us to wear in the built-in hot spring.
"I always see it in the animes we watched together and wanted to try it out." She smiled while looking at me. She was already taking towel-dresses off the racks. "Can we?"
I sighed before hiding a nervous laugh. I met her eyes and returned the smile with a weak one. I'm weak.
"How can I say no to you?"
She clearly looked so happy and excited. "Thank you! Now let's get ourselves changed."
She handed me a towel to wrap around my waist. How was she so cool about this? In a situation such as this, usually she'd be a nervous wreck, right?
There were curtains at the end of the room where we could change privately, and small lockers for our shoes and clothes. She finished the same time I did.
Like I said, she was just that excited.
"Okay, so first we need to take a shower before we get inside the hot spring," she explained, leading me to the huge showers she mentioned earlier.
We were wearing nothing but towels now, about to take a shower and dip in the hot spring together. Am I the only one noticing this?
Or is my mind just that indecent?
The towel-dress she was wearing left plenty to the imagination. I just hope it wasn't see-through once we soak in the water. For my sake.
"This one," she smiled as she handed me a bottle. "It's a scented liquid soap for men. I thought you'd like it."
I stared at the bottle before staring at her. "Do you like it?"
She nodded. "Yeah, it smells really nice."
"Then okay," I replied.
Anything for the princess.
I looked up and indeed, the showers were amazing. It was decorated with large stone walls and tall glass walls adjacent to it.
Several decorative plants were also at every corner, adding more life to the whole place.
"You ready?" She asked, a sheepish grin on her face.
"Ready to take a shower with you? Oh yes please," I quipped, making her roll her eyes but also making her laugh.
We stepped inside the wide shower area. She pressed a button and then it rained. It literally felt like rain. But the temperature was just right, just like she said.
"See?" She giggled. "It's amazing! I wish I can take my mom here. I'm sure she'd love it."
I nodded, agreeing with her. Maybe I should suggest that to Tops next time. When we get back from London, have a family reunion here. All of us with our families.
That'd be nice.
While I was still lost in thought, she already started soaping up. The bubbles gracefully trickled down her skin and her eyes were closed as she enjoyed the water.
The corner of my eyes were trained at her figure and I had to mentally slap myself several times to get a grip.
I sighed again.
Unholy thoughts, stop clinging to my brain.
I need help.
"What are you waiting for?" She suddenly asked, looking at me from top to bottom. I hadn't moved from my spot. I hadn't moved a muscle at all. "Do you want me to rub the soap on you myself?"
I probably had a hilarious reaction because she burst out laughing.
"I'm kidding, butthead. Hurry up."
She's trying to kill me.
I pinched her waist as an effortless way of getting back and she just laughed.
I poured the soap on my palm and then started wiping it across my chest and arms. Just get this thing over with.
I hope I survive this night. I just wanted a simple date, maybe a walk around the villa or something. Was she doing this on purpose? Or was she just completely oblivious?
I feel like such a horrible person for having these thoughts. She just wanted to try the hot spring with me because we've both seen it in anime.
Shame on me.
When we were through showering, she pressed the button again and the water stopped.
The towels we were wearing were soaked and heavy now. Luckily it was designed with buttons so we could lock it tightly, otherwise, these towels would have surrended to the floor a long time ago.
"Okay, now what?" I asked, trying to avert my eyes from temptation herself right in front me.
"Now we change towels, then dip in the hot spring."
She handed me a dry towel, same as the one I was wearing right now.
I nodded and followed her instructions.
We returned to the changing area and replaced the towels we were wearing with dry ones.
"Did Ella or Anne teach you all these too?" I asked over the curtain that was separating us. She laughed in reply.
"Nope. Just making this up as we go."
It took a few seconds for me to finally release an amused chuckle. Well, what she did was right anyway. In traditional Japanese baths, they took showers first before soaking in the bath to relax.
When I was done, I wrung my towel dry and hung it on one of the empty racks. Drains were everywhere so it was fine even if we walked around dripping wet. We just had to be careful not to slip.
"It could've been easier and faster without the towels though," I said, hiding a laugh.
She opened the curtains while brushing her hair up. She did the same as me and wrung the wet towel before hanging it on the rack.
"Where's the fun in that?" She grinned mischievously. Her hair was still dripping wet, her towel hugging her curves lovingly.
"Trust me," I returned the grin in the same manner. "It'd be plenty fun."
I caught her narrowing her eyes to my chest and stomach but then she quickly turned around and headed for the built-in hot spring.
"C'mon, let's go!"
When we went inside the room, the air was already filled with steam. Just like in natural hot springs, it was surrounded by large rocks. As for the rest of the floor, it was made out of bamboo. The ambiance was great.
There was a knob on the side of the room, in which we could adjust the heat.
They didn't have this spa in their villa at London. This was probably Tops' idea.
"I'm a bit scared and excited at the same time." She made a nervous laugh while dipping her toe in the water, testing the temperature. "It's warm. Oh my gosh it's really happening."
I chuckled at her cute remarks before stepping inside the hot spring first. It was big enough to fit about twenty people.
The water reached up to my waist while standing up. I outstretched my hand to Kristina to guide her in case she slipped. She took my hand and entered the water.
The water reached just below her chest and when it finally sunk in that she was in the hot spring now, she looked up at me, beaming.
"Daniel," she said, almost squealing.
"Yeah," I chuckled, patting her head. How was she so loveable? I'm being all smitten again.
We walked across the water and found ourselves a seat on the side of the hot spring. We sat down and to be honest, it really was that relaxing.
I laid an arm on the dry rocks and Kristina comfortably laid her head on my shoulder.
"This feels like such a reward," I thought out loud. "In so many levels."
"Well," she placed her chin on my shoulder and looked up at me. "You deserve it. So enjoy it as much as you can."
Looking at her, I couldn't think of anything else but how much of a blessing she was to my life. Why God gave me an angel like her is still a mystery.
Her face was so close to mine, and by the way she was looking at me right now, it was inevitable that I'd kiss her.
"Not counted," I grinned cheekily.
She scrunched up her nose before pushing the back of my head to give me a deep kiss. My heartbeat quickened when I felt the passion on her lips, and I couldn't resist. I cupped her cheek and kissed her back fervently.
We broke the kiss and while I was still dazed from it, she trailed more kisses from the corner of my mouth, to my jaw, to my neck and then to my shoulder before laying her head there again.
"Not counted," she said; I could already hear the smugness in her tone.
She was definitely doing all this on purpose. She was irresistible. She had me wrapped around her little finger and she knew it.
"Stop tempting me," I told her. "I mean it. I won't let you return to your room tonight if you keep doing this."
She giggled before placing a hand on my chest. I'm sure she could feel how much my heart was racing at her actions. "Doing what?"
I laughed at her little attempt to rile me up before taking her hand and bringing it to my lips.
After planting a small kiss on my shoulder, she got up from our seat in the water and sat again on my lap. I instinctively wrapped an arm around her waist to hold her in place.
Was this really happening?
I looked up at her gorgeous features as she cupped both my cheeks and kissed me again.
"I'm not doing anything," she said against my ear. "I'm just not holding back anymore."
The distance between us was closed, and I pressed my lips on her chest. When I trailed lower, she pulled away. Her hands were on my shoulders as she gazed into my eyes.
Around her neck was the necklace I gave her, and it still made me all sorts of happy seeing her wear it. I admired how she was able to make the necklace lovelier than it already was.
My eyes trailed from the rose pendant, down to her ample cleavage. She bit her lower lip as she watched me.
My hand moved on its own. I hooked a finger on the knot and tugged it down slowly.
I told her not to tempt me.
"Your towel is making me uncomfortable." I said, feeling her grip on my shoulders tighten. "Can I take it off?"
She didn't say a word but just stared into my eyes. She held the hand that was on her towel-dress and she herself pulled it down. But before anything else, she cupped my cheek again and claimed my full lips.
Not counted. Not counted. Not counted...
Leaving me in another daze after that tantalizing kiss, she wrapped her arms around me and pulled me into a tight embrace.
It was there that I noticed her sighing heavily against my ear. She held the back of my head and sniffled. "I don't know what I'll do without you."
Hearing those words, I placed my hand on her back and patted it gently. My heart sank. I knew exactly how she felt.
"I promised you didn't I?" I reminded, pressing my lips together to suppress the emotions swirling inside me. "I'll come back. So don't worry about a thing. You won't lose me. And I won't lose you either."
She released me from her embrace to meet my eyes one more time. She cried again.
"Yeah," she nodded, forcing a smile. "It'll all work out in the end. Everything's gonna be alright."
I don't know if she was telling that to me or to herself.
I sent her a half-smile before pushing the wet hair away from her face.
We only had a week left.
She looked as if she was shaking some unwanted thoughts. I noticed she had already fixed the towel around her chest, and I chuckled lightly.
She smiled at me, genuinely this time. That smile alone lifted my spirits.
"I trust you."
I nodded and pulled her into another soulful hug.
I will never break that trust.
༻ Kristina ༺
Morning came and I woke up in quite a lethargic mood.
After trying out the hot spring with Daniel yesterday, we took another walk around the halls and then eventually retired to our rooms.
I was excited about the hot spring and I wanted to try it out with him. I wanted to distract him and cheer him up but I ended up getting too emotional and cried in front of him again.
I didn't mean to, but the sad thoughts just all poured in my mind without warning. And I felt horrible about it.
I just gave him more unnecessary things to worry about.
I got out of bed and took a quick shower. I loved showers. Showers always helped cleared my mind.
And also because I wanted to try the other wonderful scented soaps in here. Anne and Ella were still asleep, so I took my sweet time.
About two hours later, there was a knock on the door. The girls and I already finished getting dressed and ready for the day.
I shouldn't get myself down especially these coming days. Getting depressed about it won't get me anywhere. I had to give him my full support and show him that he didn't have to worry about me.
I had to stop relying on him all the time but that didn't mean I was gonna stop needing him.
Anne opened the door and we were greeted by a female attendant. She told us that Kristopher and Daniel were almost done making breakfast downstairs and that we should head down.
The aroma travelled up until our room and our noses were aroused.
I smell bacon and pancakes.
The three of us went to the kitchen to find Kristopher skillfully flipping a pancake up in the air and having it land perfectly on a stack of pancakes.
Sean was clapping his hands like a kid watching a magic show.
"C'mon Tops," Daniel said, finishing up with his own dish. I was still impressed at how well he cooked. He actually prepared what I assumed was eggs benedict for all of us. "You can do better than that."
We girls took our seats on the breakfast bar as the boys childishly bragged about their cooking skills.
"I can," Kristopher stubbornly replied. He told Sean to hold the plate and stand on the far end of the kitchen. With a flick of his wrist, he flipped the pan and we all watched as the fluffy pancake flew in the air and landed perfectly on the plate.
"That was awesome dude!" Sean cheered like an excited puppy. His eyes were sparkling. It was obvious that he just wanted to eat already.
"Whoa that was so cool Kristopher!" Ella also clapped her hands in amazement. "That must've taken a lot of practice."
"Yeah," he sheepishly grinned. "I took on a role of a chef in one of my movies before. That's where I picked it up."
"That's still very impressive." She said in all honesty. I agreed. I could barely fry an egg.
"It smells wonderful," I commented, excited to dig in.
Daniel placed their dishes in front of us. Kristopher made a peace sign and sent his cousin a smug look upon sticking his tongue out, somehow rubbing it in his face that he got better compliments than him.
Daniel of course ignored his cousin and grinned at me as he set my plate on the table. "You don't smell so bad yourself."
I raised a brow. "What's that supposed to mean?"
He leaned closer and I tensed up from the surprise. The tip of his nose poked the nape of my neck and he took in my scent. I shivered. I was so not ready for that. "It's sweet. Flowers? Lavender? Coconut? Combination of all?"
Was he talking about the scented soap I used earlier?
Before I could reply, I heard a small squeak on my right.
Turns out, Kristopher, driven by his curiosity, already left his post and buried his nose Anne's hair, also inhaling the scent.
"I think it's lavender. Or vanilla?" He innocently inquired.
These boys really proved to be blood-related after all.
Because of the shock, my hand instinctively moved and hit Daniel's arm. The sound of the impact echoed, and it turned out Anne did the same to Kristopher.
"You butthead," I playfully glared at him.
"Arse," Anne stuck her tongue out at Kristopher.
The boys looked at each other before continuing to tease us. They weren't getting away with that.
In the midst of all that, Sean made a move himself. Ella was giggling at us when Sean unexpectedly twirled a few strands of her hair on his finger and brought it to his nose.
It almost seemed as if he was planting a chaste kiss.
Ella was caught in her shock but Sean didn't even realize that. He met her eyes with a curious smile. "It's fruity, in my opinion."
We almost didn't notice them because Anne and I were too busy trying to smack the boys, and the boys were too busy blocking and laughing at the same time.
My best friend released a small laugh and shook her head. Sean let go of her hair and just smiled at her. It was just a peaceful smile.
And Ella returned that smile. "You idiot."
It was still just the beginning of the day...