It was a beautiful day in the island paradise known as Bali. The sun was shining brightly through a thin blanket of clouds, only to give way to a sudden burst of rain, lasting an hour or so, the sun shined once again. Oh, how everything can change in an instant. This was the last day of Jacob’s weeklong trip with his beloved. Just two days after they celebrated their second anniversary. They made love passionately that day; neither of them knowing what was to lie ahead. Little did he know, this would be the day that life as he knew it would forever change.
Jacob was comfortable with the life he had. ‘Comfortable’ being the operative term. It all began 2 years before this day. He was 8 months into deep disparity losing all sense of who he was. Jacob was never the relationship type. More like a bench player in the world of relationships, he usually sat on the sidelines as people around him happily displayed their affections for one another. A self-described “hopeless romantic,” He would spend countless hours daydreaming in between tasks. Always longing but never really knowing what life will lay before him. Unsure of the future, he lived in the present and more notably, his past. Content with what was happening around him, he enjoyed life in its shallowest terms. Socializing and partying was a large part of his temporary happiness. Until one day, towards the end of January, he met someone that would change the way he viewed life and the future forever.
The past month had been full of new people and new experiences. He ended the year prior, on a high note. Overshadowing the loneliness and anxiety that plagued him after a break-up with a person he never saw potential with, but reluctantly stayed with for reasons unknown.
Now he was happy. At least on the surface. With his newfound social circle, he felt a sense of optimism that he could take this life on his own terms and finally be content with himself and where he was. He spent his days working on a side business which consisted of importing, programming, and marketing. While spending his nights enjoying the company of strangers and friends or drinking himself into a stupor. This was his life, the pursuit of instant gratification without a thought or burden of the future. Until one spontaneous night, he decided to join the guys at a local bar in the hipster district of town. When he arrived, his other friends were still on their way. Knowing that one of them was already in the bar, he made his climb up the steps to the rooftop of the 3-story building. It was a happening place, with different genres of music playing in each floor, giving a sense of variety for the varying musical tastes of their guests. Servers and bartenders were bustling with anticipation for the busy night ahead, as guests were beginning to fill the tables ready for a night of debauchery and hedonism.
Jacob made his way up the stairs and onto the rooftop, he looked around for his friend who had arrived earlier. As he looked towards the balcony, he noticed his friend sitting with a group of people he recognized. So, he walked up and greeted them with excitement. He knew he needed a drink so he quickly ordered a pint of double IPA from the nearest server. Before his drink arrived, his friend, we’ll call him ‘Marsh,’ stood up and introduced him to the stranger across the table. Jacob nervously glanced up already anticipating this introduction. He noticed her as soon as he turned the corner from the staircase. She was an unassuming girl, wearing a loose white shirt, a backwards baseball cap, baggy faded jeans, and had the brightest pink hair he had ever seen. As she introduced herself, Jacob was mesmerized. She was a Russian girl, now living in the Philippines. She also mentioned how she had been drinking most of the day but was perfectly ready for a fun night out. This was the beginning.
After the rest of his friends arrived, they all decided to walk to another nearby bar in this busy nightlife district. The place was called ‘Pura Vida,’ Spanish for ‘Pure Life.’ And little did he know, this little Russian girl was the epitome of ‘pura vida.’ She grew up in a small town in Russia that not too many people outside of that country would have heard of, and lived there for most of her life. But one day, after visiting the Philippines for only a few weeks, she made the decision to leave Russia and move her entire life to this tiny little island nation in the middle of southeast Asia. She had the strength and courage that Jacob only dreamed about for himself. He was fascinated. He even asked his friend Wilson, who was among his friends that arrived late, what he had thought of her as he gazed at her through a small window across the dance floor while she was enjoying a cigarette in the smoking area of the bar. In Jacobs’s mind, intrigue had already been building. He was hooked by her story and wanted to know more. He wanted to know her. After a few drinks and some dancing, she needed a dose of energy to keep the night going. He ordered a can of red bull to buy a little more time with her and to continue the random conversations they were having. Topics ranged from how she met Marsh to why she decided to live in Manila. When the server arrived with the can of red bull, she proceeded to pop it open and immediately stuck a straw inside and refueled her desire for a spontaneous late night with new friends. This, to him, was legendary. “You drink red bull with a straw??” Jacob boisterously asked her as he leaned in closer. The bar was beginning to get louder as more and more people crowded into the small dance floor. They were now filled with the nights libations as they continued on with one topic after another. The haze from the smoke machines filled the air and it became even harder to hear over the intense rhythm and bass of the DJ’s playlist.
It was well past midnight, closer to around 2am, when they all decided to move their party to another place. Everyone was happily inebriated from the countless drinks they ordered throughout the night. Slowly, they all staggered their way to a hidden bar known only to locals and regulars. This place was magical. A small air-conditioned room, with a full stock of their favorite brews and most importantly, a karaoke mic. Far from sober and faces flushed from too much alcohol, they all believed they could sing like rock stars. One by one they took to the mic. Screaming and yelling the notes in a way that only people on that level of inebriation can appreciate -- wishing the night would never end. Jacob was in complete bliss. Enjoying the moment as it unfolded, especially with this little ball of energy he would soon come to know as Lana. To him, she was legendary.
As with any late night of pure intoxication, the group became smaller and smaller. French exiting is a term used to explain a person leaving a gathering without the need to tell the rest. So, on they went. One by one, ending the night like a blur to their consciousness.
The following morning, Jacob woke up to a pounding beat only he could hear. The type you feel around the temples of your head, contracting and relaxing as blood rushed to the brain. He was hungover. He slowly rolled out of bed, and stumbled his way to the kitchen for a glass of water. As he drank, the feeling of utter relief and refreshment blanketed his entire being. After a few more glasses he proceeded to walk back upstairs; hunched in the typical fashion after a night of binge-drinking and tightly clinging to the rails as he struggled to keep his balance, in order to recollect the hazy events of the night before. He picked up his phone and scrolled through his gallery to find clues from the evening. Aside from the typical messages from his friends trying to piece together the vague happenings of the night, he was surprised and overcome with exhilaration as he noticed a message from the girl who had him at ‘‘hi, I’m Lana, I’m from Russia’’. She greeted him and asked how he was doing. He was more than happy to hear from her. For she intrigued him and he regretted not asking for her number. But to his amazement, she took the effort to find him on Instagram and send him a greeting. He thought to himself, “I have to see her again.” They spent the morning talking about the night prior and how she was the last one left in the bar. Apparently, she had gone to the bathroom that evening and by the time she came back, everyone had already left. It was around 5am when she walked home. This revelation shocked and impressed him. Even though her place was only 20min. away, the path there wasn’t exactly the safest. They continued their casual morning conversation through IG messages to almost no end. It seemed they both were intrigued by one another. Later that day, Jacob decided to ask her out for dinner and drinks. She said yes.
Jacob was thrilled to have met someone so interesting and so outgoing. Someone who challenged his beliefs and hesitations to live life to its fullest.
The day came and he was getting ready for their scheduled dinner date. As he hopped in a taxi, Jacob was overcome with excitement and anxiety. He thought to himself, “what if we have nothing to talk about?” “what if she finds me boring or if I say something stupid?”
His palms were beginning to sweat and his throat was tightening up. He wanted to impress her, he wanted to know her. He wanted her to like him.
The cab pulled up to the restaurant in a posh district of Manila. He got out and paid the driver. He noticed she had not arrived yet, so he took the liberty of reserving their table and decided to wait for her outside. Suddenly he felt a buzz from his phone and saw her message. She was 5 mins away and she asked if she could bring a friend. At first, he wasn’t sure why, but he brushed it off and said it would be fine. 10 minutes had passed and she still wasn’t there. He was beginning to get nervous and began overthinking a plethora of reasons why she had to bring another friend on what he thought would be a ‘date.’
A few minutes later, her taxi arrived. Jacob was at the bank ATM next door when he noticed they were walking to the restaurant. He quickly ran to greet them at the entrance. She was exactly as he remembered her, backwards cap and all. He was all smiles and completely forgot all of the worries he had just a few minutes ago. He was just happy to see her again. They greeted each other with a short hug and customary cheek to cheek kiss. She then introduced her friend, who was also pretty. Long dark hair, tall, pretty face, the model type. But he was already smitten by the girl with the pink hair and backwards cap. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her. They started out by getting a few appetizers and they each ordered bottomless margaritas, which was what the place was known for. The ambiance was of was distinctly Mexican. The waitresses were dressed in traditional garments, made a bit sexier due to the international patrons that frequent the place. There was a mariachi band playing lively Mexican music and approaching each table for requests. At first, Jacob was a bit shy, trying his best to entertain the two in front of him. Finally, the waitress came with their order of Margaritas, or better known as ‘liquid courage.’ After a couple margaritas and some delectable, but not so authentic nachos, the conversations became livelier. He realized this friend of hers was actually an ex of one of his old acquaintances. So, as the night went on, Jacob became more comfortable and the mood was lightened. A few hours passed and they decided to walk around the nearby area to mellow out the effects of the unlimited margaritas.
It was a perfect evening. The weather was cool and the night was illuminated by the street lamps and the lights from nearby office buildings. They walked aimlessly around the city, teasing a local kitty with some cat-nip that her friend had purchased earlier in the day. After walking a few blocks, her friend suggested that they stop by a bar called ‘Cable Car,’ for a night cap. It was already around 2AM. Jacob happily agreed, considering he would do anything to spend more time getting to know this girl with the pink hair. They got to Cable Car. It was a college bar, catering to beer pong lovers and beer drinkers. They sat down and ordered Hoegaarden and continued their conversations. They talked about everything from growing their social media base to living in Boracay, a lovely little island with beautiful white sand beaches. Lana had moved to the Philippines because she fell in love with the island life. A far cry from the cold and gloomy city she lived in back in Russia. She stayed there for about month or so before realizing that even paradise can get boring. So, she moved to Manila, the bustling metropolis of The Philippines. Here she was sitting across from Jacob, talking about anything and everything. Little did they know that this was the start of a something that neither of them anticipated. Their night ended at sunrise. One by one they hailed a cab, Jacob offered both of them the first one that stopped. This was a bittersweet moment as he said goodbye and closed the door.
Lana grew up in a small industrial town far from any of the major Russian cities people are familiar with. She had a modest upbringing. She was an only child until the age of 9. Her mother worked in a bread factory, making and baking commercial amounts on a daily basis. Her father, was an alcoholic and wasn’t very present in her life. At an early age, he left them to go to Moscow. They never heard from him again. Her mother remarried and had another daughter with her new husband. She loved her sister. As the years passed, Lana became very independent early in life. She began selling AVON products to neighbors and strangers. She was earning at a young age and was able to buy the things her mother couldn’t give her. She travelled and experienced life on her own terms. She fell in and out of love, only to become stronger for it. But she never lost her light. She never lost hope and always saw the best in everything she did. She played the piano, painted, made crafts, practiced Taekwondo and even taught herself how to troubleshoot computers. She lived with the desire to find her happiness, no matter how many obstacles life threw at her… and there were many.
A week had passed and Jacob kept in contact with Lana. They would regularly greet each other good morning and message each other throughout the day. This was something so simple but yet, so meaningful. Someone who cared. One morning, Jacob was busy programming units for sale. He had a client to meet south of the city, near a wakeboard park in the town of Laguna. He had the idea of inviting her to accompany him so that they could go and wakeboard after he met with his client. He called her, but unfortunately, she had to work that evening. He understood and told her he would be glad to take her next time. A moment later, she messaged him and said she canceled her work and wanted to go with him. He was ecstatic. He picked her up around noon and drove down to Laguna. Jacob also brought along his dog, named The Dude – after the main character in the American cult film, The Big Lebowski. The Dude was an adorable little Shih tzu who was basically his constant companion. Lana and The Dude hit it off right away. She always had a heart for animals. Before they could go to the wakeboard park, he had to make a stop to where his client was going to meet him. They arrived around 3pm. His client was still not there, so he decided to park and let The Dude out for a walk. Lana gladly offered to walk him while Jacob called his client. An hour passed and the client still wasn’t there. The sun was slowly moving closer to the horizon. Jacob knew that time was running low and the wake park would soon close. A few moments later, his client arrived and he sold the units. Now they were ready to go and have some fun. As he pulled into the parking lot of the wake park, they noticed closed doors and only one other car. He looked towards the sun as it slowly dipped beyond the horizon giving way to the night. What he feared had come to light… they were closed.
Disappointed, Jacob offered to take her to dinner instead. Knowing they were both hungry from the long drive away from the city. She agreed and mentioned how she was craving pizza. So, they stopped by the nearest strip mall and decided upon Yellow cab Pizza. Jacob was surprised how understanding she was. The type of person who “goes with the flow.” They enjoyed a delicious pepperoni pizza and some “hotchix.” But of course, the meal wouldn’t be complete without an ice-cold bottle of beer. After dinner, they got in his car and started their drive home.
Metro Manila is a very congested city of 12 million people crammed into a small area. Traffic was unavoidable. They sat in the main thoroughfare crawling through the city for almost 2hrs. All the while enjoying each other’s company. Their conversation as abruptly interrupted by call from another client asking him to deliver some units up in the northern part of town. As they sat in traffic, he offered to take Lana home before he would make his delivery. To his delight, she resisted and said she wouldn’t mind spending her evening sitting in his car, in traffic, just talking. At that moment. He knew. This was something special. She was someone special. This was a beautiful moment he would always treasure.
The next day, they had agreed to shoot a YouTube video for her growing channel. She was an avid vlogger and had already garnered a large following from her cute and unique approach. There was a trend back then called “Samyang Challenge.” She suggested they both take the challenge “for the vlog.” Jacob agreed without prior knowledge as to what this was to entail. She arrived at his house just after dark with a full bag of camera gear and tripods. His kitchen turned into a makeshift studio—Lights, camera, action!
They started setting up the equipment and Jacob began to cook the insanely spicy noodles from Korea. He had no idea what he was in for. Before starting the challenge, they decided they needed something to wash down the spiciness during and after the challenge. He had beer and milk in the fridge. As the camera rolled, they hit it off wonderfully. With back and forth banter as the noodles burned their mouths with every spoonful. Sweat was rolling off of Jacob like he just ran a mile in the mid-summer heat. Lana on the other hand fought off the pain by stomping her feet uncontrollably. It was a laugh riot for both of them. Jacob finished first. He was proud and tried to act as calm as possible, trying to bear the extreme spice burning his tongue, lips, and fingers. He reached out for a refreshing drink to wash away the heat. He chose the beer. This was a choice he would soon regret as the carbonated drink only helped to intensify the burning feeling in his mouth. She laughed hysterically and proceeded to pour herself a glass as well. Both in pain but with a feeling of accomplishment, they were proud to complete the challenge. They finished off the rest of the beer and he invited Lana to stay a while to watch a movie. Without hesitation, she complied. The movie would be regularly interrupted with a random question or full on conversation. This is what he found so attractive about her. Never a dull moment. With the story unfolding on the screen before them, Jacob was feeling more and more at home with her. He slowly inched closer as they sat on the couch. Feeling a sense of connection, Jacob took threw aside his fear and gently rested his head on her thigh. Expecting her to move away, she did the opposite. She put her hand on his head, and lightly brushed his hair. His heart began to race, his skin became more sensitive to every touch as goosebumps were rising all over his body.
Their budding romance began that night. But not before a confession that would always linger between them. After the movie, she grabbed a cigarette and opened a window to inhale the soothing nicotine as she prepared herself to tell Jacob a fact about her that would rock the foundations of his tiny world. Something that would raise him from his ignorance and make him choose between love or beliefs. She confessed that her job was not the typical traditional type of work that most people are familiar with. She took a long drag from her cigarette, and she explained further. “I’m a cam girl,” She said. Jacob was ignorant to this profession and only heard about it in random movies and online ads. -- She was an exotic entertainer. Cam-girls usually work solo in an online platform, performing erotic acts for their members, while being paid ‘tips’ for every fantasy fulfilled. – She took one last drag of her cigarette and lit up another.
Their first kiss happened during a revisit to the same place they went to during their initial night out. Starting with a few drinks at this small, hole in the wall, street-side bar called The Workshop. This place was simple but unique. The owner creates bags, jewellery, wallets, and other items using tanned leather--sourced locally. The vibe felt more like a family gathering than a bar. It just so happened that they served alcohol as well. After a few hours of barhopping in this gentrified hipster neighbourhood, they all ended up in the same small air-conditioned karaoke place around 3am that morning. This time it was livelier. Much more people and would-be rock stars. After singing ‘Don’t stop believing’ and ‘wonder wall,’ Jacob and Lana sat at the corner booth to enjoy some snacks and another round of drinks. It was getting pretty wild as people were hopping on tables and dancing as if the night would never end. Lana excused herself to go to the bathroom. This time, Jacob built up the courage and followed her to the small empty hallway where the bathrooms were located. It was a different scene, much quieter with only the muffled voices leaking through the crevice of the closed door. He waited for her in the hallway. Unsure why, he was just following what he felt. She opened the ladies room door and stepped out, surprised to see him in the hall. Without a word, they locked eyes. Jacob took her hand, still damp from washing, they spent a moment staring into one another as if they were diving deep into each other’s souls. The moment passed and Jacob leaned in… Lana gripped his hand tight, her fingers intertwined with his. Anticipating what was about to happen, she closed her eyes and leaned towards him until finally, their lips met. -- He chose love.
From that moment, they were inseparable. She loved kissing him. Every minute they could find, they would express their affection for one another. He couldn’t keep his hands off of her, and vice versa. This is the beautiful and innocent time in the beginning of their blossoming romance. They were blind to the world and its troubles. They just wanted to be. To love. But life has a way of turning the world upside down.
They’ve known each other for a little over a week now. Jacob was a self-described hopeless romantic. He grew up daydreaming of finding “the one.” Watching romantic movies and always imagining himself as the leading man. With Valentine’s coming up in just a few days, he thought frantically about what he could give her to express his snowball of emotions for her. He racked his brain thinking what she would like. In the end, he decided on making something from the heart. He figured a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates would be too cliché. So Jacob went to the art store for some supplies. He was to create chocolate roses from BBQ sticks, designer paper, green tape, some glue, Styrofoam, and a mason glass for the base. He spent hours on his bedroom floor; cutting, shaping, tracing, and gluing together the petals piece by piece. All the while he was filled with excitement and butterflies at the thought of her reaction when he gives her this creation of his, a creation he poured his heart into. He made 12 beautiful paper roses. Six pink and six crimson red… each individual petal cut and glued one at a time. He had no idea how much time had passed. He only knew that his back was in pain and his right leg was numb. But he couldn’t wait to give this to her. To top it off, in the center of each rose, he placed one Ferrero Rocher chocolate ball in gold wrapping. The entire bouquet was then layered and placed gently in a mason glass covered in a purple paper cloth. As he stepped back to admire his creation, he was filled with a sense of pride and hope. Hope that she would see the love and time he put into her present.
There were still a few days left before Valentines and he had to continue with his daily work routine. The next day his schedule was full with deliveries to different parts of the city. He finished programming around noon and spent the next 6hrs driving around town, spending almost half that time in traffic and the other half trying to find the clients locations. He was exhausted. He didn’t even have the energy to grab a quick bite. He pulled over at the nearest 7/11 to get himself something to drink. He was definitely dehydrated as his head started to feel heavy and his throat was dry. Before he could open his door and step out of the car, he saw a message on his phone. It was her. Just seeing a notification from her rejuvenated him and he felt renewed. He decided to call her and see how she was doing. They spoke for just a few minutes as Jacob told her about his day and how exhausted he was feeling. She suggested that he take a moment to rest, and when he’s feeling a little better, he should drive to her place where she had a meal ready for him. He was thrilled. He never had anyone care so much for him in that way. Jacob got himself a bottle of water from the store and started his drive to her condo. It took him almost an hour to get there, through rush hour traffic. But as soon as he parked at her building. He felt a rush of relief. He turned the rearview mirror towards him to fix his hair and make himself more presentable. Jacob had never been inside her place before this night. He rang the bell and patiently waited for her to answer. He could hear her dog barking inside. A moment later, she opened the door, gave him a hug, and he walked in. It was a small studio unit with just enough space for all her things. The kitchen table was used as a makeshift workstation so she invited him to sit on the bed. Her dog, Luna, was very protective of her and saw him as an intruder. She barked and growled as he sat on the far corner of the mattress. Lana had just finished reheating the meal she promised him and offered to clear the table so he could enjoy comfortably. Jacob ate as they both talked about their day and about what plans, if any, they had for the hallmark holiday coming up. After he finished eating, Lana took a shower as Jacob waited patiently in the room trying convince Luna to soften up to him. He tried giving her a treat, talking softly, slowly moving closer to her, but she just wouldn’t have it. She barked and growled louder as he was beginning to fear that she might bite him. Lana finally came out of the shower and rescued his ego. They spent the rest of the evening talking about what to do that weekend as she began showing him studio pictures she had taken back in Russia. Jacob was awestruck. He couldn’t help his reactions to each photo.
“Oh my god, you’re absolutely gorgeous!” he exclaimed about the first picture. “WOW! I can’t believe how lucky I am!” Each photo brought about more exclamations as he became overwhelmed with the feelings of butterflies inside his chest, that he crouched up in a ball while sitting in front of her table. Amused and moved by his reactions, she set up her camera on the table facing him. She wanted to capture this moment where someone was in genuine admiration of her and only her. She scrolled to the next photo. Jacob was amazed at the depth of beauty this woman had. And he was even more amazed that she was right there, next to him, holding his hand, with the most loving smile as she continued scrolling. After a dozen or so pictures, he had to take a moment. Aside from her obvious physical beauty, he was falling harder and harder for her. Her heart, her mind, her soul.
She loved animals and Luna was a rescue she adopted from a friend. Luna had a tough start; living on the streets and being constantly harassed by unkind people. She developed a heart disease that would continue on throughout her life. The Vets said that she wouldn’t have long to live and needed consistent maintenance medications. Without Lana, Luna would have easily perished. This is the heart of an angel. This is the heart of Lana.
Jacob spent the night with her, watching her favorite TV series, “Constantine” and enjoying butterfly kisses here and there. After a couple of episodes, they were both beginning to feel the blanketing desire to sleep. Lana laid her head on his chest as he gently caressed her with his arm. He thought to himself, “this is what heaven feels like.” Jacob moved his head closer to hers as he inhaled deeply, he was going to cherish this moment. The way her hair smelled like fresh flowers from the shampoo she had just used, to the heat of her body curled up tightly next to his, and the sound of her breath falling deeper into slumber. He savored this moment as he kissed the top of her head before joining her to end the night.
Jacob woke up early the next morning. He remembered The Dude waiting for him at home, all alone. When turned his head, his heart filled with joy as he saw her. Still curled up tightly under his arm, her head resting softly on his chest. She looked like an angel. And she was all his. He wanted to stay, but something kept nagging him… he couldn’t forget The Dude. Slowly, he lifted his arm from around Lana’s shoulder, trying to gently lift her head without waking her up. As he quietly got out of bed, he stood there for a moment and couldn’t help but look down towards this peaceful being sleeping soundly in front of him. He didn’t want to leave, but he had to go home and feed The Dude; who had been waiting alone for almost an entire day. He snapped out of his trance, grabbed a glass of water, and gave Lana a kiss on her forehead before walking out the door without a sound. As he drove home, he had the biggest smile on his face. Nothing could bring him down. Before the pollution of this metropolis began to blanket the streets, he rolled his windows down to enjoy the early morning breeze. He never felt this way before. He was on top of the world.
There was only one more day until Valentine’s and Jacob was trying to finish all of his errands while looking forward to seeing Lana that evening. He had deliveries to make, groceries to buy, and laundry to fold. He was on a cloud the entire time, daydreaming of seeing her again. Replaying everything that happened the night before. Thoughts of kissing her and holding her tight filled his mind. He never wanted to let go. When he got home from finishing all of his errands, he quickly took The Dude out for a walk and fed him his dinner.
Tonight’s plans came in the form of an offer to host a VIP event at a local nightclub. That evening he called his friends to join the party and support the event. He also invited Lana to accompany him. He needed her there for support and because he couldn’t stop thinking about her. She filled every corner of his mind. She was the light that made each day bright and bursting with hope. As the sun set, He finished getting ready and started walking to his car. He got inside, turned the key, and drove off.
Since it was still a bit early and the event wouldn’t start until an hour before midnight, Lana prepared their dinner. She slaved in the kitchen for a few minutes as she picked out and microwaved two Keto meal preps from her fridge that was left over from that week’s delivery. He was appreciative of every little thing she did for him. They ate together, talking about their expectations for that evening. His job was to invite as many people to attend the event but he had hesitations about who was able to come. She soon opened her phone and started calling her friends and invited them as well. He appreciated this greatly as they finished their dinner. Before leaving for the club, he took Lana’s hand and gave her a kiss. Her cheeks turned a rosy color as she blushed and smiled, “What was that for?” She asked. “Thank you for being you.” He replied. She was about to say something else but he continued with a question. “Will you be my Valentine?” His hands shaking as a drop of sweat rolled down his forehead. After a few seconds of silence, she answered, “I thought I already was!”
They both laughed in glee and walked out the door.
They got to the parking lot of the club and Jacob took the slot nearest to the entrance. As Lana picked up her purse, Jacob rushed out of the car and quickly made his way to the passenger’s side to open the door for her. He reached out his hand as she stepped out of the car smiling. The line to the entrance was beginning to grow from the many excited guests ready to enjoy a night dedicated to love, music, and dancing. Hand in hand, they walked to the velvet ropes where the bouncer, a big man resembling a professional wrestler, was checking the list for each guest in the queue. Jacob gave his name and the bouncer gave him a grin as he unclipped the velvet rope and moved aside for them to enter. Inside, the waiters were finishing up last minute table preparations and each of them greeted the guests as they walked in. The mood was energetic as more and more people filled the tables and began ordering their drinks. Jacob thought this was going to be a great night. He already had 60% of his guestlist show up and they were full of life. Some even dressed in a theme fitting for the evening; They wore the color red. When all of his guests arrived, he was filled with a sense of relief and was finally able to enjoy himself and his date. He ordered a bottle of Bacardi Rum and some coca-cola, knowing that Lana’s favorite drink was rum and coke. They spent the night trying to carry on a conversation over the loud music blaring from the 10 foot high speakers. It was a welcome excuse to be able lean closer to each other, cheek to cheek, as they danced with drinks in hand and not a care in the world.
A few hours later, the club owner, Michael, approached Jacob and greeted him with a thank you as he offered another bottle to him and his guests. Jacob gladly accepted and handed it to the table. Michael took Jacob aside and paid him for his services. As they bid farewell, he noticed Lana was beginning to get tired. So, they said their goodbyes and left the club. As they walked out of the building, they could feel the sudden silence of the night. The sky was clear and the street was illuminated by the fullness of the moon and the countless stars surrounding it. With his arm around her shoulders and her arms wrapped around his waist, they walked ever so slowly to his car, as if bathing in the moonlight and everything they’ve shared. Jacob opened her door for her, as he held her hand and gave it a kiss before she sat in her seat. He got inside, started the engine and they drove home, to his place.
Valentine’s day has come. They woke up just before noon, well rested and ready for breakfast. He chose to take her to an all-day breakfast place in his neighborhood. There was a calm breeze that accompanied them as they walked to the restaurant. They were still in a sense of euphoria. Neither of them knowing how long this would last, but they didn’t care. Life was great, why dampen it with thoughts that have yet to pass. The restaurant was only a few minute’s walk from his house. They went inside and took their seats. It seemed everyone had the same idea to spend a valentine’s day breakfast there. It was full of lovers and friends. One couple was spoon feeding each other like a mother feeding her baby. Lana and Jacob looked at one another with a grin and just chuckled. Silently agreeing not to be, “that couple.” Their orders came, Jacob asked for his favorite crispy corned beef with eggs and Lana got the Bacon and eggs. To their surprise, the waiter gave them a special pancake in the shape of a heart. They looked at each other and smiled. They asked the waiter if he could take their photo and thanked them for their kind gift.
After their late breakfast, Lana had to head home because this time, it was Luna waiting for her. Jacob offered to drive her home, but first, they needed to walk back to Jacobs place to get his car. He wanted to spend as much time with her as he could, even if it’s just to drive her home. They got to his house, but before getting in his car, he asked her to give him a minute so he could run inside his house to get the present he made for her. On his way down the stairs, he was overcome with a feeling of anxiousness in anticipation of her reaction. He held his gift behind his back as he walked towards her. She was curious and, in her excitement, she asked what it was. He slowly moved his hands from behind his back. Her gaze was fixed to what it was he was about to bring forth. As soon as she saw the first handmade rose peek through from behind him, she placed her hands over her mouth and tried to contain her elation. He handed her the chocolate rose bouquet he created and when she reached out for it, her eyes welled up with tears and her face was flush from the rush of happiness. She couldn’t help but give the biggest smile as she held this masterpiece made straight from his heart. Lana had never been given a present like this. She loved how he spent the time and effort to make this for her. She kept telling him how no one had ever made anything by hand for her. This was a first. She threw up her arm and hugged him, almost crushing the bouquet between them... but neither of them cared. This was what he was waiting for. To see her in this moment, overjoyed. He knew it in heart, he was in love.
It’s now the evening of Valentine’s day. Rather than going out, they decided on a cozy night at home, together with both Luna and The Dude. Lana’s condo was not a pet-friendly place, they weren’t able to take Luna out casually and since she’s a medium sized dog, its not easy to just carry her out. To make things less complicated, Jacob brought The Dude instead. He drove straight into the parking garage inside the building and snuck The Dude in with him using the elevator on the 4th floor – completely avoiding the prying eyes of the guards down at the lobby. As soon as they entered her unit, it was chaos. Luna growled in terror as The Dude bolted in excitement to sniff his new playmate. Both Lana and Jacob laughed in amusement as this little shih tzu chased Luna all around the tiny bedroom. After the chaos had settled, they chose to order some fried chicken from a canteen near her building. She called this place, “Kevin’s Chicken,” which wasn’t the actually name of the restaurant. It was because of the delivery boy named Kevin, who formed a crush on her after his first delivery weeks back. He had apparently saved her number and tried flirting with her through text messages. Jacob found this amusing as they both started cleaning up the mess the dogs made while waiting for her admirer to bring them their dinner. This night would be unforgettable.
After enjoying their delicious meal of greasy fried chicken and watered-down coke -- due to the melted ice, they went into the bedroom to watch a movie in bed. That never happened. As they stood by the bedside, Jacob nervously held his hand up to Lana’s face, “I want to feel your energy… I want to feel whole.” Jacob said, cradling her head. Lana beathes deeply, before she could say anything else, he leaned closer, their lips touch and he kisses her passionately. Lana feels the warmth in Jacobs exhale as he takes a breath. She places her hands on Jacobs arms, her heart begins to race as he moves lower to kiss her neck. He smells the scent of her perfume as things begin to get heated. Lana pulls Jacob down to the bed and they continue caressing one another, their hands moving all over each other’s bodies. She feels short of breath as her blood is coursing throughout her body as her heart beats faster, they let go of their inhibitions and let their built-up tension from the prior week’s courtship manifest into what is about to unfold. She’s swept away by the flood of emotions she feels for Jacob and couldn’t resist it any longer. Lana helps Jacob as he clumsily removes his shirt continuing to kiss her as she unbuckled his belt. He kicked off his pants in excitement and Lana began to undress herself. She started taking off her shirt, one arm at a time, Jacob unclips her bra from behind, slowly revealing her perfect bosom beneath. He moved lower as he kissed her neck, his hand cupping her breast gently as his lips glided ever so slowly from her collar, down her chest; she feels an intense rush emanating from the back of her head, shooting down her spine. Her back extended in an arch, she felt a shiver throughout her body as his tongue slid over her nipples. Seeing the euphoria in her face, he continued kissing her breasts as she moaned from the sensation. Jacob moved lower, kissing and sliding his tongue across her stomach. He kissed her navel, feeling her twitch as she felt a slight tickle. He looked up at her and smiled, her face telling him to continue. Lower he went, moving his lips over a star tattoo on her hip. He began untying her shorts, pulling one string and then the next. Jacob loosened her shorts and pulled them off, tossing it behind him. She wore thin red laced panties which he took a moment to admire before removing them as well. He kissed her all over her body and now, he was inside her. He started slow, wanting to savour every sensation with each thrust. She moaned louder, her hands gripping tighter as he felt her fingernails dig into his skin. They rolled over, this time, she was on top. Lana rode him with vigour, moving her hips faster and faster, body extended and her head bent back to face to the ceiling. She leaned down to kiss him… she was close. He didn’t want to stop, he couldn’t stop. Jacob waited so long for this moment. Until finally, their passion culminated in a level of bliss that coursed through their entire being. They held on to each other tight. Savouring the rush they felt from this moment of ecstasy.
It’s now the early morning. The sun creeps into the bedroom window of Lana’s 7th floor unit, a ray catches Jacob in the eyes and he slowly awakens from his dream. Was it all just a dream? Jacob thought to himself. But his question was put to rest as soon as he turned his head to the angel next to him. She was deep asleep. He took that moment and just looked at her, in complete admiration. The way the corner of her lips slanted subtly as if she was smiling. How her skin glowed in the early morning light. Her naked body curled up close to his with one hand resting on his chest. He combed a few strands of hair from her face with his finger to reveal her face beneath. She looked angelic sleeping so peacefully next to him. Jacob couldn’t believe that it happened last night. That they made love and reveled in every minute of it. How they were so connected beyond the physical realm. How in one night of passion, he felt their souls intertwine as they shared their hopes, dreams, and fears without saying a word. How he woke up the next morning wishing they could stay like this forever. But he knew that forever didn’t exist. That life isn’t fair and the world can crash down all around you in an instant. Except, he didn’t care. He just wanted to cherish all of it, in its purest form and burn it into his memory. Lana's eyes began to flutter as she awoke, seeing Jacob admiring her, she smiled at him with an ensuing kiss good morning. They spent the next hour laying in bed and planned a long day of exploring the city’s Chinatown, one of the oldest in the world. After agreeing to meet at a mall nearest to the train station, Jacob got out of bed to take a shower before taking The Dude home with him.
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