#36 You’re perfect to me
“I can’t believe you didn’t call me in,” Dshawn grumbles when I’m finished telling him what happened. “There I am, waiting for your text, and suddenly you all storm out of that apartment, all done with the mission. You didn’t even need me.”
I chuckle at the way he pouts. He’s feeling left out. “Trust me, your pictures made all the difference. And you didn’t miss anything. Well, at least not anything fun. It was awful.”
He rubs my back gently. “You did what you had to do, baby. And yeah, we were total dicks about it, but that was the plan. It never would have worked otherwise. He’ll be fine.”
I know he’s right, but I still feel like he could have done this differently. I could have showed Joshua the proof without Jasmine being there, or taken more time to do all of this, or confronted Jasmine without Joshua there… Oh well, it doesn’t matter now. It’s done. And even if I had done this in a different way, Joshua was always going to end up hurt.
“Come on, let’s get our minds off of it,” I propose, opening my laptop. It’s the day after the confrontation and we both took the afternoon off – a rare thing in our lives – to work on the business plan together. Dshawn’s balcony is the perfect place to do so. It’s a little chilly out, but that just keeps us sharp, and the sunlight on our skin makes both of us feel happier.
Lately, we’ve been working on the presentation, but with everything going on and us focusing more our relationship than the plan, we slacked off a bit. The old buildings Dshawn showed me a while ago turned out to be for rent, and we studied the zoning rules, which actually allow for a night club to be opened there. It’s the perfect place to realize his dreams, so we’ve been putting together a plan for those two buildings. The market research is almost done, thanks to my online questionnaires and a long talk Dshawn had with the owner of Rock Paper Scissors about all the stuff we need to be mindful of when we go apply for a loan.
Truthfully, it’s the perfect plan, with the perfect research to back it up. And I am absolutely sure that no one is going to give us a loan. Dshawn just doesn’t have the money or the collateral to get one. I’ve tried to tell him that a few times, but he’s so excited about being able to pitch his idea to a bank soon that he doesn’t really seem to get just how low the chances of him coming back with a loan are. I hope he won’t be too disappointed when he realizes that he’s probably going to have to wait until he’s got more money saved up and maybe get himself a business partner.
“Let’s set up a meeting with a bank soon,” Dshawn says when we’re done for the day. “That will give us a deadline. I always work harder when I’ve got a deadline pushing me.”
I nod and put it on my to-do-list. “I’ll set it up. And now…”
“Beer!” Dshawn exclaims, grinning.
“Yes,” I agree, “and pizza.”
Half an hour later, our pizzas and chicken wings are delivered and we’re both on our second beer. I’ve got work tonight at Animals, so I won’t be having any more drinks, but two is not a problem. A colleague is picking me up anyway, so I won’t even have to drive.
“Would you like to come with me to visit my parents?” Dshawn asks just when I’m shoving a slice in my mouth. “They’ve been wanting to meet you for a while now. It’s my sister’s birthday, so I’m going anyway. Figured I may as well bring you.”
I feel like I’m choking. Meeting the parents? Already?
“Don’t panic,” Dshawn says when he sees my red face. “You don’t have to. I’m not forcing you. I just wanted to give you the option of coming with me.”
“Okay,” I say, but I have to force the word out. “I’ll come.”
“Shaughna, I get it, you’re obviously freaking out. It’s okay. I can go by myself.” He’s smiling, but it doesn’t reach his eyes. He is disappointed by my reaction, that much is clear.
“I want to come,” I say, even though my heart is beating a hundred miles an hour. “Yes, I’m freaking out. And yes, I feel like I want to jump off your balcony right now, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to come.”
He frowns and takes a sip of his beer. “That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Dshawn, I just…” I grunt and take a bite of pizza, using the time I need to chew to clear my mind. Meeting the parents is not new to me, but in a way it is. I met the parents of my boyfriends in high school, but that was only because they lived at home and they sometimes picked us up somewhere or we hung out at his place and his parents were there as well. That wasn’t a big deal. That’s not really meeting the parents. The only time someone really brought me home to introduce me to their parents, was when I moved in with Melchior for the summer. And that is one of my best memories about him, which is confusing for me. I hate him now, I wish I’d never met him, but his parents were really nice to me.
“Is this because of Melchior, or are you just scared my parents won’t like you?” Dshawn asks, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees.
“Both,” I say truthfully. “And it’s… sometimes I feel like we’re moving fast. Really fast. And I don’t want to chance a single thing about our pace, but I sometimes just need a moment to wrap my head around something. Meeting your parents… that’s a big deal.”
“Not really.” He shrugs. “All it means is that you’re important to me and that I want to share all parts of my life with you, including my family.”
“How is that not a big deal?”
He chuckles. “Okay, fair point. When is the last time you brought someone home to your parents?”
I roll my eyes. “Never!”
That takes Dshawn by surprise. “Never? But… I mean, I know you haven’t been seriously dating for seven years now, but you had a few high school boyfriends, right? And Melchior?”
I nod. “My parents got divorced when I was 14, a few months before I got my first boyfriend. They were obsessed with who spent more time with me and who got to go to my dance recitals, parent-teacher conferences… I knew that if I brought someone home, even just to hang out, the other parent would immediately insist on meeting him too. I didn’t like bringing people home anyway, since both houses were so big and empty, so I usually met my boyfriends at the movies or something, or at their parents’ place. I didn’t even tell my parents about them, honestly. The only reason they knew about Melchior was because I basically moved in with him after graduation.”
“Oh wow,” Dshawn says, playing with the chicken wing in his hands. “Did your parents ever meet Melchior?”
“Yeah, two or three times, but not because I wanted them too. Dad showed up once because he thought that something was wrong – he was right, of course, but I wasn’t ready to admit that back then – and we ran into my mom a few times at the grocery story. I never officially introduced him to my parents. He didn’t come to birthdays or anything, or family dinners, or whatever.” I smile sadly, remembering the time my dad insisted that Melchior came to dinner at his place. I said that we would come just to stop him from pestering me about it, and then Melchior and I left for a weekend getaway without telling him. We totally stood him up.
“Just so you know, I’ve only brought three girls home,” Dshawn says softly. “But for me, it’s not that big a deal, I guess. I actually don’t really like going home all that much, so I prefer to have someone with me who I feel comfortable with. The girl I dated in high school spent a lot of time at our place, I brought Caroline with me to my dad’s birthday, and the girl I dated two years ago came with me to family dinners and birthdays a few times.”
“Why do you need someone you feel comfortable with to accompany you to your childhood home?” I ask Dshawn with a frown. It feels like there is a story there, judging by the fact that he looks down at his hands instead of a at me while he’s talking.
“First of all, it’s not my childhood home,” he says before taking a sip from his beer bottle. “When I moved out and into the college dorms eight years ago, they moved to a new place. And I don’t really feel comfortable with my own family, to be honest. It feels like… like I don’t really belong.”
“You feel like a visitor,” I realize. “I get that. I feel the same way at my mom’s place. My dad stayed in our old house, and he still lives there. He even left my childhood room intact, so that place will always feel like home. Mom moved into an apartment after the divorce, but a few months later she and her new boyfriend – who she had actually been cheating with for a long time – bought a new place. That house never felt like home, and it still doesn’t.”
“So you get it,” Dshawn says, taking my hand in his. “Imagine that feeling, and add some really young siblings who were born after you moved out. Honestly, my youngest siblings feel more like they are my nieces and nephews than my brothers and sisters. It’s weird. And they all act like… I don’t know.” He shakes his head. “My mom and dad – well stepdad, but you know what I mean – both have jobs, but they’re not exactly CEOs or anything. And I went to college and have this IT job that pays pretty well at this huge firm… They always treat me like I’m the one who made it big. The genius of the family, the one all my siblings should look up to. And I don’t feel like that. At all.”
He looks so sad when he talks about his family. It hurts to hear him talk about it, so I can’t even imagine how he must be feeling. I get it now, why he wants me to come.
“I’d be happy to come with you,” I tell him, squeezing his hand.
“Good,” he replies with a smile. “And please, don’t feel pressured to introduce me to your parents anytime soon. I can meet them tomorrow, in two years, or anything in between. I don’t care, as long as I get to keep dating their daughter.”
That is so cute that I feel tears coming up. I try to keep them at bay, but I end up letting a few of them make their way out anyway.
“Hey,” Dshawn says surprised. “Come here, baby. I didn’t mean to make you cry.”
I sit on his lap, enjoying the way he holds me. “I’m just happy,” I say into his shirt, trying to stop crying. “I just… I’ve never been this happy with anyone before. You’re so… perfect.”
He grins and squeezes my ass. “Honey, don’t be silly. I’m nowhere near perfect.”
“You’re perfect,” I insist, kissing his neck. “Absolutely perfect.”
“Okay fine,” he sighs, like it pains him to admit it. “I’m perfect. You’re okay too, I guess.”
“Hey!” I exclaim, smacking his arm. “I’m more than okay!”
“I know,” he agrees, looking at me with a sweet smile on his face. “You’re strong, sexy, funny, smart, weird in the most delightful way… You look so cute when you sleep and you always thank me for every little thing I do for you, which is the sweetest thing ever. You smell great, you have the most beautiful hair, you never complain that I dump my plates in the sink at your place without washing them…” He kisses me softly. “You’re a great kisser, and even better in bed. You’re giving, you care about people. You’re fierce, loyal, and you don’t take crap from anyone. I’ve never met anyone quite like you, Shaughna. And I don’t think I ever will.”
“Stop it,” I tell him, sniffling a little. Damn, he’s so sweet. “Stop making me cry.”
“You’re cute when you cry,” he says softly. “Hell, you’re cute no matter what you do. The other day when you scolded me for tracking dirt into the apartment… that was so damn cute.”
“Dshawn, I think…” I take a deep breath, but chicken out at the last moment. I know how I feel about him, but I’m just not ready to say it out loud quite yet. “I’m so happy you’re my boyfriend.”
“Me too,” he agrees immediately. “More than happy. Ecstatic.”
Author’s note: could you hit the little heart if you like the book? It keeps me motivated :)
And comments are always appreciated too. :)