“I’m really, really sorry about last night. I made a total fool out of myself and was super inappropriate.” Lukas’ apologetic voice passes through the phone, as he apologizes for the third time.
“Dude, enough already. I told you it’s fine. I share in the blame for that, as I played along with you.” Nai repeats herself with an exhausted voice. “It was late, so neither of us were probably thinking very hard about our actions. I guess you being drunk didn’t help, but I still don’t blame you.”
“Ok, I’ll trust you on that then. I really don’t think I could stand it if you were to hate me.” There’s a silence between them for a moment, and then in a joking manner he says, “I’m not going to have your boyfriend after my neck am I?”
She laughs out loud. “No way, he’s not like that. He’d definitely be obviously territorial and make sure you know I’m his, but he’s not violent. I’ve never even seen him kill a bug. He prefers the catch and release method, where I don’t hesitate to stomp and smash. He’s a typical boyfriend who gets jealous if he feels another man is trying to take his girl, but at worst he’d leave you with some harsh words. He won’t attack you; I promise.”
He sighs in relief. “That’s reassuring, though I’m still nervous. Even if it’s just words, they might cut me deep. I don’t like unnecessary confrontation and I’m more sensitive than you might think.” He speaks frankly.
“Seriously?” She replies in disbelief. “You seem like the epitome of a tough guy to me. I could see you being the type to get into a scuffle with some guy who was making eyes at your girl.”
“Ha, that’s funny. You can’t be serious?”
“I am totally serious. Are you saying that you’re not a tough guy? You seem like you’d have been a troublemaker.”
She can hear an audible sigh from the other end. “You really don’t know then?” She can sense his frustration.
“Know what?” Her serious tone tells him she really has no clue.
“That...that’s a discussion to have over drinks.” He chuckles.
“No fair! You can say something like that and just drop it.” The light mood seems to be returning. “Tell me secrets.”
“Now you want secrets too? Aye, you’d better get me drunk for that.” He pauses and then says, “On that note, maybe I can redeem my thank you gift tonight? I was promised drinks.”
“Wow, you’re not wasting anytime, are you?” She teases him. “Ok, I do owe you, but if I recall, I promised a drink. Uno.”
“Hey, look at you using Spanish. Do you actually know more than you let on?” He asks this with a genuine curiosity.
“Nope! Numbers are about all I retained from my studies. Would you believe I actually took Spanish as my language in high school? Probably not I bet, since I’m a deer in headlights whenever you speak it during those random moments.”
“You don’t say? I wonder how you got through it.”
“I don’t even know to be honest. I thankfully only needed to take it for one year and I think I only scraped by thanks to my tutor. I may or may not have had him do my assignments during our sessions. It was the only time that I’d ever cheated.”
He doesn’t reply immediately, but Nai can tell that he’s thinking how to best say what he wants to say. “Wow, what a rebel you were.” He says sarcastically. “I’m more impressed that you were able to convince him to do your work for you. I’m sure he didn’t do that for all his students.” He pauses again. “You must have been pretty special for him to do that for you.”
“I don’t know about that. I wasn’t anyone special back then. I was antisocial and had no friends, I didn’t participate in any extracurricular activities and I generally kept a low profile.”
“Well, you might be surprised to know that people notice more than you think. I bet you just never cared enough about others to notice them.” He realizes that she could take offense to his wording. “Ah, I’m not saying you were stuck up or bitchy of course, I just mean that you had enough confidence to go about your life without caring if people liked you or not. You were kind when you did have to interact, but you didn’t waste time on petty drama either. I imagine that’s how you were at least; based on how I’ve observed you now.”
Naomi can’t help but think back to when she first met Adam, and how he told her something similar. Maybe she really did get more attention than she thought. However, it doesn’t really surprise her either, as she did her best to avoid others as much as possible. Keeping her head down and eyes forward was the best way she knew to stay out of the trouble others could bring and not risk tarnishing her parents’ reputations.
“Earth to Naomi. You still there?” Lukas calls to her.
“Yea, sorry. Got lost in my head again.” She chuckles.
“You kind of do that a lot I’ve noticed. Though they say that’s common in smart people, so it makes sense.”
“Oh please, I’m average at best. You and Adam think I’m some kind of genius, but I’m not. I just have an excellent memory and that carries me through most things. Math and applied sciences are just numbers, formulas, and key facts more or less; that’s why I get As. If you saw me in my Fine Arts classes, you’d understand why I only get Bs. I’m definitely left-brained if you follow that kind of thing. You seem like a right if I were to guess.”
“You think so? Most people think I’m some kind of jock and don’t have any smarts at all. That I’m only good for my physical prowess and for roughhousing. I was even voted most likely to become a professional athlete or physical trainer.”
“Hmm, I don’t see it.” She speaks with certainty. “I mean, you’re definitely athletic and fit, so I’m sure you do probably keep yourself active and healthy. However, I get a creative vibe from you. I could see you on an island with nothing but a sketchpad and various pastels and coloring tools. You’d be set up in your hammock in the shade of the palm trees beside the ocean and you’d be humming a song as you sketched away for hours. The only thing that could compete is your resilient and sexy wife who is equally strong as she is passionate. She’s the rock that keeps you grounded when you drift away. She’d be the light of your life and your days wouldn’t be complete without sweet, passionate lovemaking on the beach or beneath the stars. That seems like something you’d dream about having one day.”
It’s silent for a while and just when Nai begins to wonder if the line got disconnected, she finally gets a response. “Is this how it felt for you yesterday?”
“What do you mean?” She asks with confusion.
“When I bore into your soul, did you feel this venerable and exposed? Because I feel like you just invaded my mind.”
Nai laughs. “Oh, you don’t like that feeling huh? Well, that’s exactly what it was like for me, so now we’re even on that front.” She hadn’t intended on doing it, but her perception of him is higher than it normally is with others. She strangely finds herself wanting to know more about him. She hasn’t wanted to do that with someone other than....
“Well, you were spot on. I guess we both have a knack for figuring people out if nothing else. I don’t know if I’d be on an island exactly, but definitely somewhere coastal. Growing up as a child on the Australian coast has that effect on people I guess.”
“Australia?” She becomes instantly intrigued. “You grew up in Australia?” She hesitates for a moment, but finally says, “I hope you don’t take offense to this, but with your looks and tendency to speak Spanish, I’d assumed you might have a Central American origin. Though, your surfer style does support it....”
Lukas laughs lightly. “Well, you’re half right. My father was a Colombia native who immigrated to Australia for a job opportunity. It didn’t work out, but he happened to meet my mom during his stay, and they fell deeply in love. She asked him to marry her, he accepted, and they settled down together by the coast. A couple months later, I was born, and we lived there happily for about twelve years. Those years were my happiest moments and memories.”
“Oh, so you’re a mix of Colombian and Australian. That’s super exotic. No wonder you have such unique features.”
“It’s ok, you can just admit I’m a sexy hunk. I won’t judge you or anything.” She can practically hear his grin.
“Anyway....” She ignores him. “You make a whole lot more sense now. Though I wonder, why only twelve years? You’re about twenty-four, right? So, what about your next twelve?”
She can hear him sigh before saying, “That...you’ll have to get me shit-faced to know.” He chuckles softly. “Speaking of that again, are we on for tonight? I know a cozy lounge bar we can go to and get some cheap, but strong drinks.”
She gives it a serious thought, and she’ll even admit she’d like to do it, if only just to learn more, but she decides against it. She realizes that if she really wants to dig deep into his background, they are going to need a night out that will require them to stay home the next morning. So she suggests an alternative.
“I think it’d be irresponsible of us to party hard in the middle of the week, especially when we both have to report for tutoring tomorrow morning. So, how about Friday instead? I won’t be going to Adam’s this weekend, so I’m free to do whatever. How does that sound to you, fair?”
“Aww, curse you for being responsible,” he whines. “Ok, agreed, but you have to let me pick you up.”
“Ok...but I doubt you’ll be in a position to drive me home or yourself for that matter.”
“Hell no I won’t! I know you’re not a heavy drinker though, so I’ll give you my keys. You can drive us back to your house and if it’s ok with your parents, I’ll just crash on the couch until I can sober up enough to get myself home. Cool?”
She instinctively wants to say no, as she feels that may be pushing the line and she knows Adam would oppose, but she also feels that he should trust her to be responsible. She doesn’t believe Lukas would make any advances after what happened last night, especially if her parents are there. Ultimately, she decides that it’s not a problem and is the most responsible thing to do considering the circumstances. “Ok, we have a deal.”
“Sweet! I’m looking forward to it already.” She can hear his excitement through the phone.
“Okay, okay. I’m looking forward to it too, but for now...study.”
“Si Senora! I’ll see you tomorrow!” He hangs up.
She shakes her head and smiles to herself. She realizes she’s been smiling a lot lately. She can’t help but ask herself, when was the last time she’d had so much fun? As she pulls out her books, she recalls the conversation they’d just had. Although there was a lot of interesting information she learned, her mind kept going back to one thing and she feels she won’t be content until she can remember why it seems so important. “Hmm, my Spanish tutor in high school...what was his name again?”