Chapter Five: Valentine’s Dinner
“I can’t afford this.”, she said, as soon as James parked the car.
“I can”, said James and got out of the car.
Laura was not that much pleased with the fact that he would be the one to gift her the dress, but she did not have much of a choice anyway. They both went into a shop that specializes in ceremony dresses and it seemed that James already knew the staff. This is probably where he brings all his dates.
They started to measure Laura’s body and took her into a fitting room. It was large, filled with shiny mirrors and there was a group of people around her picking dresses and showing them to her. She liked a few, but they all had to be adjusted to her silhouette. She wasn’t really feeling this whole thing. After the argument that she just had with James in the car, she was just feeling like a whore, taking advantage of him and his money. And that was not who she was.
Already fed up with her own thoughts and overwhelmed by so many dresses and people around her, she left. She picked up her clothes and ran out of the store. James saw her leaving and started to run after her but she could not stop. Laura began to feel the tears that were starting to fall down her face and she just wanted to go home, to her comfortable place.
In a matter of seconds, James grabbed her hand, stopping her.
“What happened?”, he asked her.
He saw that she was crying and his expression towards her changed. He was sad for her too, so he hugged her. Laura could punch him the face because of all of what she was feeling regarding him, but she did not. She was comfortable by being held by his strong arms. She rested her face on his shoulder and placed her arms on his back. She could feel his tight muscles and she was enjoying it.
“Let’s go.”, he said, holding her hand and leading the way out of the mall.
Eventually, her tears had ceased. And, by the time that she was already inside the car, she felt like an idiot.
“I’m sorry…”, she said.
“For what?”, he asked her. “For showing me that you are an actual human being?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that you can feel. And I am the one who is sorry to put you in this position. I know this is too much for you… It’s just that I am not used to being with someone like you. Most of the girls that date me are hollow and they only care about my status or money but not you. You’re different. And that’s why I like you so much.”.
His eyes locked into Laura’s and for just a second, she stopped breathing. He raised his hand into her face and wiped out a few tears that were still there. The touch of his hand felt magical. His piercing eyes were murdering her heart, but she was enjoying it. Maybe it was too early to say that she was falling in love, but she truly was.
“Do you still want to go to the party?”, he asked her.
“Do you even have a choice?”
“I suppose that we always do.”
For more that she fancied the idea of the two of them skipping the party and going somewhere else, she would feel incredibly bad about it. He already talked about how his relationship with his father was messed up, imagine how much pissed off with James he would be if he did not attend.
“No, we’ll go.”, she said.
“Are you sure?”
But she was not. She did not even have a dress. “Screw it.”, she thought. It is time to take more risks. James began driving and they arrived within a few minutes. Her heart was pounding again. The mansion was lit by big and bright spotlights and there were people coming out of their cars right on to the red carpet. She was about to be one of those people.
The flashes from the photographers were excruciating, even if they were protected by the darkened mirrors of James’s car. He parked the car right in front of the entrance and instantly, everyone gathered around the car. She remembers watching this on TV. James’s date was always the most interesting and talked-about moment of the night.
“This is it.”, James confirmed.
Once again, Laura started shaking. Perhaps because she was wearing jeans and a shirt, or maybe it was since she was going to be featured in every magazine the day after that. James noticed that she was shivering, so he held her hand, intertwining his fingers between hers.
She looked at him, and relaxed. Somehow, she was happy that she was with him. Was that weird? Maybe. But she was feeling happy. And with a man, no less. The species that she kept avoiding for years. Perhaps, it was time to let go of all fears and just do what she feels like now. She was feeling alive, and she did not want to get rid of that feeling ever again in her life.
He opened his door and got out of the car. She waited inside while he went around to open the door for her, but she was so used to open her own door, that as an impulse, she got out of the car herself. As soon as she stepped out, her face became lit by the camera flashes and her ears were hurting from all the photographers screaming.
James stood by her and stretched out his hand, and she accepted it. They both walked the red carpet holding hands and she could not remember him doing that with any of his previous flings. Maybe this time it was different after all. She got thrilled by the idea of her being special for him, so she held his hand tighter.
They finally made inside the big hall and his mother came to greet them. The first thing she did was examine Laura’s outfit and then she made a disgusted face. It was safe to say that she did not like Laura. She kissed his son but not her. In fact, she didn’t even speak a word to Laura. There goes her chance of causing a good impression with his family.
James didn’t let go of her hand yet, and she appreciated that. They all made way into his father, who was sitting in a modern wheelchair. He was sick, but his condition must have gotten worse because he was still walking at last year’s event. He also took a very good look at Laura, but he expressed his disdain.
“Who the hell is that?”, he asked James.
Laura wanted to speak for herself, but she let James take the lead.
“This my girlfriend, Laura.”, he said.
Girlfriend? They barely even know each other. All the previous concerns that she had towards him came back and she felt used again. Maybe she was just a mere puppet for this stupid party. She let go of his hand and excused herself out. James followed her.
“Hey! Where are you going?”, he shouted.
She went outside, away from all the fuss on the entrance and James soon catches up with her.
“Are you okay?”, he asked her.
“I am your girlfriend?”, Laura asked upset.
James relaxed his muscles and took a deep breath.
“Listen, my father is a very complicated person. I had to say that. I’m sorry.”
“Do I even mean anything to you? Or am I just a prop for this stupid party?”
“No, it’s not that.”, James denied.
“Oh no?”, she shouted, without being able to hold her tears anymore. “I know this is crazy, but you actually had me feeling something for you!”, she confessed.
James seemed surprised and he got closer to Laura, holding her in his arms again. She was incredibly mad at him, but somehow his hug was so soothing that she could not refuse it. She felt safer in his arms, she did not feel alone anymore.
“I know this is all too much…”, he started, whispering. “And I know that this is also crazy, but I feel something for you too. In just a day, I feel like I got to know the real you. You’re different than everyone else that I’ve ever been with.”.
His words resonated with Laura more than she wanted. Was he speaking the truth? She couldn’t look at him now, because she had her face stuffed in his shoulder, but she holds him tighter. She did not want all of that to be a lie, and she didn’t want to lose him.
“Let’s get out of here.”, he suggested.
She pulled herself together, wiped her tears and nodded positively. Getting away from all that stupid party was something that she would enjoy. James took her trough an alternative path to the garage, away from any cameras.
Since neither of them knew where they should go next, Laura suggested that they could go to her place, to which he agreed. Her house was simple but comfortable. However, it would be quite strange for them since her mother is living there. Suddenly, her idea didn’t seem to be that good anymore.
“Actually, I totally forgot that my mom is staying with me know.”, she said.
“It’s okay. I actually want to show you something near your place.”, he promised.
Laura was quite intrigued. Does this have anything to do with his presence at her neighborhood the other night? Whatever it was, Laura was glad that he would tell her about it. There was still a part of her that was skeptical about all of this. Is love at first sight even real? What if this feeling she has for him is not even love? Whatever it was, she was enjoying it. She felt like she knew him for a long time and that she could trust him.
James grabbed her hand while he was driving, and, once again, intertwined his finger with hers.
“I have a question to ask you.”, he announced.
“Go ahead.”, she said.
“What if you were my girlfriend… Would that be so bad?”
Laura’s heart was racing so much that she was sure that he could feel it from her hand. Laura dating James Harris? It is a bit unreal. But isn’t that what they are doing right now? They are holding hands, nonetheless. But dating is a strong word for Laura.
“Don’t be ridiculous. He doesn’t know each other that well…”, she said honestly.
“You know what’s so different about you?”, he asked. “Every other girl that I’ve met wants to go to bed with me in the first few minutes and marry the next day. And you think it’s too soon to call you my girlfriend.”
“Because it is too soon. I don’t care about your status or wealth. I am a bit uncomfortable with it, to be honest. What do you even see in me that would make you want to be my boyfriend?”
“You’re so much more attractive than you think. Especially as a person. You have such a unique and raw personality. You don’t pretend to be someone else when you’re with me. That makes what we have real. That made me fall in love with you increasingly during this night. You’re special to me, and I don’t want to lose you.”
His words were so sounding so truthful that she believed him. And now she was positive that he felt something for her too.