Dear Mia: From, Your Happy Place
There’s someone in my apartment. The door is slightly open and there’s 2000s pop music playing softly in the background. Slipping out of my heels just outside the door, I keep my phone in my hand, ready to dial an emergency number if this boyband loving intruder tries to attack.
As quietly as I can, I push open the door and tiptoe inside, peeking around the corner of the hallway into the kitchen and finding that my heart starts racing for an entirely new reason. “Hunter?”
He turns from where he’s stirring something in a pot on the stove, his smile wide and those gorgeous, galaxy filled eyes sparkling. “Hey, baby.”
It’s been three weeks since I came home from visiting him on tour and I’ve been counting down the days until I got to see him again. Texting and phone calls and video calls are no substitute for seeing him in the flesh.
Blinking back tears, I drop my phone, bag, and shoes on the kitchen table and take two steps forward, wrapping arms around his middle and burying my face into his chest, allowing his familiar scent to guide me home. “I missed you.”
“I missed you, too,” he replies, and I can hear the smile in his voice. I feel him press a kiss to the top of my head, his arms wrapping around my shoulders to hug me closer. “Happy birthday, baby.”
Pulling back slightly so that I can look at him, I grin. “You remembered.”
“Of course I remembered,” he matches my smile. Leaning forward, he presses a soft kiss to my lips. We’ll spend longer getting reacquainted later, but for now, I’m content just being near him and holding him in my arms. “What kind of shitty boyfriend would I be if I didn’t remember my girl’s birthday?”
“I didn’t mean it like that,” I laugh, “I just thought you weren’t coming back until next week.”
We’d made it through seven weeks apart with just a few days of seeing each other in the middle, so I knew we’d be fine for one more week. Still, I knew said week was going to feel as though it lasted an eternity.
“We’re done with the shows, so we only had a few press events to go to, but they wrapped up early.”
I honestly don’t care why they’re back early, just that I get to be near him again. “Awesome.”
“I agree,” he laughs, kissing me again before nodding towards the stove. “So, I made you dinner, but I’m not exactly Gordon Ramsey, so I was thinking that I could take you out tomorrow night to celebrate.”
That is incredibly sweet, so I’m saddened that I already have plans. “Actually, I’m going to see my parents tomorrow.”
I feel him tense. “Oh?”
“Yeah, my mom’s cooking all my favorites,” I explain. I hesitate. The natural progression of this conversation would be to invite him along. We’ve been dating for almost two months and my parents live nearby, so it wouldn’t be completely strange for them to meet my boyfriend.
Except this isn’t exactly a normal relationship. At some point in the not so distant future, my boss is going to publish an article detailing the intricacies of Hunter’s life based on the notes I’ve been taking since we started dating. And that means that this relationship is beyond complicated. And yet, what I feel for Hunter are the realest feelings I’ve had for anyone in a long time. I want to savor every single moment we have left together. So I smile softly and say, “You should come.”
“Really?” he lifts both eyebrows in surprise, clearly not expecting me to actually extend an invitation. “I mean, meeting the parents is a big deal.”
I shrug nonchalantly, hoping he can’t hear the fact that my heart is about to beat out of my chest. “Yeah, well, that’s what people in relationships do, right?”
His entire expression softens and I let out a sigh of relief, knowing those were exactly the right words to say. “Right. Well, I’d love to meet them.”
My smile widens, and I lean in to speak against his lips. “Good.”
He kisses me again before releasing me to finish readying dinner as I go to get comfortable.
We sit at my kitchen table, eating the delicious pasta he made and drinking wine and I feel more at peace than I have in a long time. He takes my hand on top of the table after we’ve finished eating bowls of ice cream for dessert, worrying his lower lip between his teeth for a moment before asking, “I know it’s your birthday, but I was wondering if you’d do me a favor.”
“Anything,” I reply automatically. This has been one of the best birthdays I’ve had in recent memory, so I’m willing to repay him however he’d like.
He hesitates before saying. “Will you play your violin for me?
My eyebrows lift in surprise. “You’d like that?”
“I would,” he squeezes my hand reassuringly. “Unless it’s something you don’t like other people around for.”
“Oh, no, I’m not super private about it or anything,” I assure him, “I mostly just play as stress relief. Or when there’s some big decision I need to make.”
It calms me down and helps me refocus my energy. I don’t mind people hearing me play, but I’ve also never played for a professional musician, so I am just a little bit nervous.
“So you’ll do it?” he asks, his smile eager and his eyes bright and hopeful.
“Of course,” I laugh, any anxiety I had about it dampening due to his excitement, “Give me a minute to tune?”
“Take your time.”
He cleans up our dishes while I pull my violin from my closet, and by the time I’ve finished tuning, my kitchen is spotless and he’s sitting eagerly at the edge of my couch. Encouraged by his reassuring smile, I tuck the instrument under my chin, lift my bow, close my eyes, and play.
I choose Vivaldi, Concerto in A Minor. It was the first advanced piece I ever mastered and I remember how proud I was when I finally got it down. Plus, it’s lively and super fun to play, so I feel like I’m flying as my bow and fingers move and when the piece ends and I lower my violin, I’m grinning at Hunter, who’s just staring at me, as though he can’t believe I’m real.
“So,” I say, a bit breathless as the adrenaline from my joy of playing fills my veins. “What did you think?”
“I think you’re beautiful,” he replies, his voice so soft I almost don’t hear it. “Inside and out.”
Holding out a hand towards me, he wiggles his fingers in my direction. “Come here.”
I place my violin back in its case and join him on the couch, allowing him to guide me so my knees are straddling his thighs. Once his arms are wrapped around my waist and mine around his shoulders, my fingers massaging into his hair, he breathes out, “I missed you so much.”
I missed him too. More than I thought I would considering the short amount of time we’ve known each other. Although we tried to keep in contact through text as much as possible, I’d still spent my days counting down the minutes until I could hear his voice or see him through a shitty phone camera, even if it was just for a few minutes. Those precious moments kept me grounded and sane and brightened up even the crummiest of days.
Scratching his scalp lightly with my nails, I lean forward to press a soft kiss to his lips, speaking against his mouth, “You’re here for a little while now, right?”
He nods, kissing me again, longer this time, but just as slow, as though he’s attempting to memorize my taste. He leans his forehead against mine when we pull apart. “A few weeks until the next leg of our tour starts. I’m sorry. I hate leaving you.”
“You have nothing to apologize for,” I assure him. It’s not as though when he goes on tour with his band, he’s purposely making the decision to get as far away from me as possible. “This is your dream. This is your life. I get it.”
He tilts his head to the side, one corner of his mouth lifting into a small smile. “You do?”
“Yeah,” I smile back. “I do.”
“Thank you, baby,” he sighs, pecking my lips again, his arms tightening around me. “It’s good to know you’re on my side.”
Flashing him a smile, I drop my head to his shoulder and bury my nose against his neck, inhaling deeply and allowing his scent to soothe me, whispering, “Always,” against his skin.
I mean that too. I’ll always want what’s best for him. I’ll always want him to be happy. And despite the fact that I’m pretty sure he’s a key factor to my happiness, I’m not entirely convinced that the reverse is true.