And now here at New York’s airport, where my fate decided to play with my emotions yet again. But this time, I will not get my feeling attached to my heart.
I retrieved my bag from the belt at the baggage claim, making my way to the gate, I was thinking about Aaron, and to my surprise, he appeared on my phone--his name was flashing on the screen.
“Hi,” I answered.
“I see you.” He said. “Just wait there, I’m coming to you.”
“Um...Okay.” I hung up the phone and lifted my head and behold when I saw Aaron from a distance. Our gazes met and locked with each other. His majestic form stood out among the general crowd. His appearance was absolute confidence as he walked up to me, his eyes holding delight. Every pair of eyes were looking over at him as he treaded slowly towards me.
When he got closer, his scent triggered some beautiful memories--the touch, the kiss, the hug. I could feel my face heat up with a blush.
He stood before me in all his perfection, and his whole demeanor affected me in such a way I felt mildly attracted to him. I looked at him, more like staring at him.
“Welcome to New York.” He bent down to kiss my cheek, and my heart burst with warmth.
It felt like the happiness I’d lost had returned to me!
He placed his hand on my small back. “Let’s go,” he said to me first, then took my spinner suitcase and rolled with us.
“Where are you staying?” He asked me next.
“At the Plaza,” I answered.
He remained odd but polite. His affection felt a bit reserved until he claimed my hand, and that felt wonderful and warm to hold, making me realize ‘I’d missed him.’
“How was your flight?” He kept relatively distant. It bothered me, It shouldn’t have–but it did. I don’t blame him. Things were a bit complex between us.
“Good,” I answered.
“How have you been?” He asked.
“Why don’t you call Sage or Alice and ask them?” I phrased it as a sarcastic taunt.
“I just wanted to make sure you were okay, Jess, and what better way to have your friends look after you than a stranger following you all the time.”
That made me stop in my tracks. “You’d hired someone to spy on me, Aaron?”
“I could, but I didn’t.” He clarified.
“But you would have?” I pressed.
“You never called me or texted me, Jess.” He said with every confidence, and besides, he knew I wasn’t going to.
“I didn’t want to bother you.” I simply stated.
“I know, and that’s why I did what I had to do?” He explained. “You look hungry, let’s go have dinner.”
For the first few minutes, neither of us talked in the car, but the atmosphere around us felt strange and uncomfortable. All those said and unsaid words were repeating by itself in our hearts. It has been long we haven’t talked with each other or seen, and these uneasy feelings have grown.
At the restaurant, we talked about how I landed here in NY. He too criticized me for my error, coming from a business person’s perspective, then he smiled at my irresponsibility. I was a little puzzled by it.
“I’m glad for this lucky mishap, that works out perfectly in my favor.”
He leaned in close, “Now I get to be with you; spend time with you.”
My heartbeat hitched at the meaning behind his words. He meant ‘dating,’ and the fear began to rise inside, but I remained quiet for now and gave him a gentle smile.
After dinner, in the car, we started a light conversation.
“Did you find a place to live?”
“Kind of, but until I see it with my own eyes, I don’t want to rush in; after all, it’s New York, and I want a sizable apartment at least, I cannot bear myself in a small apartment.” Judging from his facial expression, “I know, you must think I’m spoiled,” I said.
“Nope, not at all,” he shakes his head in denial. “Jessica, I’m only one person, living in a house of six bedrooms. Now would you judge me?”
“Yes,” I answered, rather quickly. “That’s cuz; you’re rich and alone.”
“Ouch.” He reacts but then chuckles. I laughed too.
I was laughing, and it felt good to my soul. Having suffered so much, the capacity for suffering had weighed me down, and now I was feeling dangerously happy with him.
“Then maybe you should come live with me and cure both of our loneliness once for all.” He said with hopeful eyes, and I swallowed nervously. The casualness of his question seemed as if it mattered the most natural thing in the world.
‘If only he knew.’
Finding a space, he parked the car at the curb. Aaron looked out the window behind me. He gave a tight squeeze to my hand, which laid passively in my lap.
“Don’t stay here. Come stay with me.” He said, suggesting an opinion.
“I-I’m fine here,” I say, barely meeting his eyes.
“Every day back and forth will be stressful. Staying with me will be easy for both of us.” It made sense--logically, but on a personal level, I think it would be tough.
I trust Aaron--a hundred percent. He won’t take advantage of me, but I don’t believe myself. I know how I feel about him. I simply liked his passion and enthusiasm. Only being with him for a few hours, I felt a sense of affection growing. So no, I couldn’t go and stay with him.
Besides, I think I’m cursed when it comes to love.
Aaron stayed until I checked in, and then he walked me to the elevator.
“Good night, Aaron.” He looks hurt by what I said.
“I’ll drive you to work, and I'm not taking no for an answer.” It was not a command nor an order–he mandated.
I didn’t urge back and only listened.
“Good night.” He kissed my cheek and left.
The next morning, Aaron texted me he was here, and I rushed downstairs.
“Good morning.” I greeted him.
“Indeed, it is.” He says with a cheeky grin.
I can’t believe I was in New York, and with Aaron. And by god the traffic, was... phew.
“You know if someone had told me, I’d be with you in New York. I would have never believed them.” He said.
“Me too.” I just simply replied to him.
His phone has been buzzing, with different people calling him to talk/speak with him. He silenced the phone every time it sounded. I peeked at him while he drove.
“Why don’t you let someone else drive you? That way, you can sit in the back and answer your phone.”
“I’m very protective of what’s mine, and that includes you.” He said in a proprietorial way. He looked in my direction, holding his gaze for a moment, then went back on the road.
Every word dripped possessiveness, not in a controlling way, more of in a sweet, caring manner, and I liked my man to be possessive.
He dropped me off at my office building, I was getting off when he said, “Jess, I’m very happy you’re here.” I could see the love in his eyes for me. This is going to be harder than I thought.
“I’ll come to pick you up at five.” He said and then drove off. I waved, I could sense and feel he was looking at me through the rearview mirror. So I stayed until he turned to the corner.
It was an introduction day at the office; everything was new, everyone was different, but working again with Patricia was satisfying. By the end of the day, I was tired; the effect of jet lag weighed me down. I kept myself awake by drinking coffee–a lot.
I checked the time on my wristwatch. It was four-thirty in the evening. I felt exhausted. I had a couple of more emails in need of my attention, so I began to type my replies.
A knock came on the glass door. I tore my eyes away from the laptop screen and found Aaron standing at the doorstep.
“You became unaware of time.” He spoke, with a slight chuckle in his voice.
I looked at the time on the screen of my laptop, and it was five-o- six. I gave Aaron an apologetic look. “Just one more second.” I said and took the cursor on the word ‘send’ then pleated the laptop’s lid to close.
“Hi,” I smiled, and he beamed at me.
The purr of the car engine made me dozed off. A warm skin snuggled my cheek, and I just leaned in. So cozy.
My eyes flickered before opening, and I found Aaron’s hand on my cheek. He’d been holding my face so I won’t twirl my head around. I wonder how long he was holding my head and driving single-handed.
‘What are you doing to me, Aaron?’
“Hey,” He smiled warmly.
“I’m sorry, I’m just tired.” I sat up straight.
“Drive-thru, okay?” He asked.
I went to pay, but Aaron glared at me. Again I didn’t argue. I sat quietly.
We ate our burgers and fries, on the hood of his car.
“Aaron, I can take a cab to work, so you don’t have to come to pick me up anymore,” I told him and sipped on my coke.
“No, I told you you’ve no option, as long as I’m here.”
“Every day traveling will be a hassle. Also, I read one of your texts from this morning. You were running late because of me. I feel like I’m a burden on you, Aaron.” I said. I felt terrible, If this continues dropping and picking me up in the dense city traffic, he will always be in rush and race.
“Don’t ever say that again.” He glared at me.
“Aaron--” Before I could begin, Aaron intervened.
“Jess, just drop it.”
Shit, that only leaves me with one solution before it becomes a problem.
The next day, I waited for Aaron in the lobby with my luggage ready to check out of the hotel.
Aarons came to pick me up, and I’d a busboy load my bags in the trunk of his car.
“What’s going on?” Aaron asked with a skeptical expression.
“I’m checking out of the hotel, and I’m going to stay with you until I find an apartment close to work.” I got into the car, buckled up, and shut the door. Aaron, he couldn’t stop grinning for the rest of the ride.
After picking me up from work, we reached his building garage. Aaron punched in the code at the elevator panel, and we took the ride up. The elevator doors slid open on the floor.
A small door that opened up to a spacious room with the view to die for--it was beautiful. I walked into the house, tense, and stood their quiet as a myth. The house was lit up and warm with the fireplace burning.
Alone! He lives alone. What could you do with such a prominent place when you live in it--alone! All these endless rooms that nobody used. The luxury space was lifeless, with the most concise human presence.
“Do you feel alright? Not cold anymore?”
I shook my head.
“Very well. Welcome home.” He meant it.
“Wine?” He offers and takes his suit jacket off and loosened his tie, exposing his throat. He rolled up his sleeves, displaying his muscular, veined forearms. He looked just as smart and impressive as ever.
“Jess?” He calls to snap me out of semi-daze of gawking at him.
“Umm... No. Do you have tea by any chance?” I shrugged my jacket, and he helped me take it off.
“Tea? I don’t know. I’ve to look.” He said with regret. Indeed he didn’t know the kitchen since he barely lives in the house.
“Don’t worry about it, warm water will do as well,” I said.
He appeared to be foraging in the kitchen cabinets. He was not entirely familiar with the kitchen, so I tried helping myself and finding everything. Meanwhile, he pours himself wine in one of those expensive crystal glasses.
The steak was prepared for him by his chef named Dave. Since I don’t eat much of the red meat, I made the salad, and he helped. We arranged everything on the dinner table and took our seat.
“Jess, I’ve never had anybody come live with me before, ever so if there’s anything, and I mean anything you want, specific. Please don’t hesitate to make yourself feel at home.”
“That’s very kind of you, and I already like everything here.”
After we finished dinner, I got comfortable in my pajamas, brushed my teeth, and went to bed. A knock came on the door.
“Hey, are you comfortable? Do you need anything at all?” Aaron settled beside me, and I became highly conscious of how good he looked and how I’ve missed him. He took my hand and stroked his fingertips over the palm. I reminded myself to relax.
“No. It’s all very comfortable.” I embraced, hugging him tightly. I felt the pressure of his lips in my hair. He released me and tucked me under the cover.
He shuts off the bedside lamp. He glanced up at me as he reached the door.
The smile on his face softens the harsh line, melting my heart.
“Good night Jess.”