"I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination." -Jimmy Dean
Watching the trees pass on the old and semi-familiar landmarks, Peter concentrated diligently on the road. The only thing not making this trip less dreary and time fly faster was the radio soothing music overpowering the dead silence and me observing many things that had change, well except for the farms lands.
I took note at the old restaurants like O-live was wiped off from the map, the veterinarian hospital was now painted a cool blue color, and a go-cart course had been set up with surprisingly a day care next to it.
Must be a hard time to get kids a sleep for naps, I thought.
Turning off an intersection to the main road, I got anxious at the idea of seeing my old neighborhood again. Like I said before, I hadn’t been here since I was eleven and sure enough my stomach tightened again.
At least my father had moved out and so my once old home would be someone else’s. So weird.
Peter slowly pulled the car over and a small smile enveloped my lips at the house by us. “I forgot it was pink.” I said as I marveled at the old historic Victorian home that had some history of a man dying in the Civil War and passed it on to his children.
Peter chuckled, “You know-” before he suddenly corrected himself sadly, “knew mom loved her history.”
Placing my hand on top of his I said, “I do.”
I remember brief moments of celebrating the Fourth of July with our families. His parents were all crazy dressed in colonial clothes and talking in horrible British accents. I have to admit, it was fun playing reinvented games; such as bean bag toss was a contest to see who would win the Revolution War. The two boxes we tossed had a painted picture of a red coat or a patriot. It depended what side you wanted to be on.
Peter turned off his car and stared at his steering wheel trying, I guess, to make sure his emotions were somewhat in line. As he got out of the car, I followed suit and ignored the temptation to look at my old home. Instead I grabbed his hand and we both walked up the pathway shoveled from the recent snow from last night.
Entering inside, I was immediately swarmed in warmth and the smell of pine. Everything, I observed in awe, had been decorated for Christmas as we moved closer to a room on the right.
In the living room the theme continued on with a big fat tree in the center and presents littered the bottom of it. My green eyes glanced toward movement on the couch and I notice two women talking to each other quietly.
As Peter made his presence known, the young blonde woman stood up quickly to give him a hug. “Peter,” she said worn out and relieved.
Peter rubbed her back as he responded soothingly, “I know Kayla.”
My mouth dropped slightly not recognizing his older sister. Then again it had been a long time since we talked to each other.
The other woman with brown hair slowly stepped closer when they stopped hugging and Peter smiled with appreciation, “Aunt Kim.”
She gave Peter a small hug and responded softly, “I’m sorry sweetheart.”
Peter tried to clear his throat as he nodded his head in acknowledgement for her condolence. “Where’s dad?” Peter barely squeezed through his tight throat.
Kayla put her hand up to her mouth and responded worried, “Dad hasn’t come down from his room. He, he doesn’t want to talk.”
Peter’s lips pressed together and Aunt Kim rubbed both of their shoulders in comfort, “He’ll come around. He just needs time to process.” Her hazel eyes bounced up noticing me and asked, “And who is this?”
Everyone's eyes were now suddenly trained on me and I could sense a faint blush inhabit my cheeks. Peter seemed to remember my presence and introduced us, “This is my sister Kayla and this is my Aunt Kim. She’s my dad’s sister. And this," Peter couldn’t help but smile, "is Alexia Woods. She used to live-”
“Next door to us,” his sister finished Peter’s sentence. “Wow, you’ve grown,” Kayla added as she gave me a hug.
I replied trying to keep my face straight, “I didn’t even recognize you at first without your mullet.” Kayla eyes widen and both Peter and his Aunt burst out laughing.
Peter said wiping his eyes, “You didn’t remember the house painted pink, but you remember that awful hair cut.”
Kayla smiled a little, “Please don’t tell me that’s the only thing you remember of me?”
I shook my head, “Oh, no. I remember you yanking Peter’s whitey tighty panties practically over his head and his-” Peter placed his hand over my mouth and Kayla began to bark at the bad memory for Peter.
Peter warned me, “Don’t.” I smiled under his hand, but honored his request to not be embarrassed in front of his aunt.
When Peter let go of my mouth, I said, “Anyway, I’m sorry for your loss.”
Kayla’s eyes welled up, but her voice seemed strong, “Thank you.” Her head turned to Peter, “Did Dad tell you that he chose this Wednesday, so our family can have enough time to get here?”
Peter still seemed to be trying to soak everything in as he didn’t quite answer Kayla’s question well. “Okay.
“What’s with all the ruckus?” Mr. Sweet belted out as he descended down the stairs. It made me laugh how he still looked the same; the round belly, handle bar mustache, the uncontrollable wave in his hair. He glanced over to me in surprise and gave a smile, “Alexia is that you?”
“Hi Mr. Sweet.” I replied as he gave me a bear hug.
“Hey peanut, I didn’t know you were coming.” Mr. Sweet said as he glanced over to Peter, who I believe was forming a faint blush on his cheeks as well.
Giving a slight chuckle, I added joking, “I guess he doesn’t tell you much.”
Mr. Sweet smiled with knowing some kind of secret, “No he’s always keeping secrets about his lov-”
“Alright dad!” Peter kind of yelled in panic and said, “Alexia is going to stay a few days, I thought she could have the spare room, but,” he glanced over to his Aunt and Kayla informed him, “Aunt Kim already claimed it.”
His dad patted Peter on the back and said as he walked over to the Christmas tree, “It’s not like we’re in the Stone Age. You can share your room.”
Peter was about to interject as I said, “That’ll be fine.”
I smiled over to Peter, who had his mouth open until his sister and aunt started to turn toward him. His father bent down and picked up a present and stared at it as if it was gold. “Well it’s getting later. I think I’ll turn in for the night.”
His father turned over to me with vacant sad eyes and asked, “Do you need anything tonight Alexia? We have tons of fruit in the fridge from the neighbors?”
“Dad she can’t have raw fruits or vegetables. She’s allergic,” Peter suddenly said taking me by surprise.
He remembered after all these years?
Mr. Sweet’s eyes lit up in realization and added, “Oh, sorry Alexia. We have other stuff like lunch meat and-”
Appreciated by his hospitality I answered, “It’s alright. I’m not that hungry, but thank you for the offer Mr. Sweet.”
The happy aurora soon died into gloom and I felt like Peter was trying to escape it as he grabbed our bags. He replied, “Well we had a long tiring drive. Night everyone.”
Ascending the stairs behind Peter’s lead, I could hear them whisper, “Peter finally got himself a girlfriend.”
“Your wife called it that they end up toget-”
They thought we could be a couple. Did it really seem that way? I asked myself unexpectedly feeling giddy.
I turned to the left as I reached the next floor and followed Peter entering a small bedroom. Peeking around, I watch Peter place our bags down and say, “This used to be my old room.”
Taking a step inside, I smiled making Peter more curious and possible paranoid that I would poke fun at him somehow.
“Your room is so…” I stumbled to find the right word. After all I didn't want it to come out critical or harsh. “Plain.”
He sat on the full size bed and smirked, “Would it help if I said it used to have a lot of posters and favorite character sheets at one point?”
Walking to his window, I replied, “Depends? Was this change recent?”
I glanced outside his back yard in search and Peter said with a hint of his humor lingering in his voice, “No. I promise.” He added seeing my scouting eyes, “ And it’s still there.”
In the pitch black, my eyes finally landed on our old tree house and I turned my head back, “That was one of the coolest things my,” my voice sort of deflated, “dad ever built.”
Peter's head slightly bent, a thing I’ve noticed more and more, when he was thinking too hard. Slowly his lips opened to ask a question I knew would bound to surface, “What happened after you left?”
Unzipping my bag, I tried suffocating a deep sigh. I responded, “I moved out with my mom and eventually went to school with Dana. My dad, well, he had his own life to live.”
With his new family, I thought bitterly.
“Oh,” Peter responded sounding like he regretted asking such a deep subject. “Sorry.”
I shrugged my shoulders not really feeling that bothered as I thought I would be.
Peter had some insight in my fucked up life through our childhood.
With a somber ripple through my voice, I replied, “It’s okay Peter. That’s just how life is.” Gathering up pajamas, my toothbrush, and bathroom essentials, I changed the subject, “Is it alright if I take a shower?”
Peter got off the bed, “Sure.” He led me across the hall and turned on the light. Inside were two double sinks, a walk-in shower and a Jacuzzi tub! “Looks like you got choices. Do you want to shower still or have a relaxing bath?”
Peeking up in the mirror to observe my hair, it still appeared clean so I opted, “I’ll take a bath.” Peter started to run the water as I placed my stuff on the counter. “Do you want to check if the water temp feels good?”
I nodded my head and placed my hand into the lukewarm water. “Well can we make it a little warmer?”
Peter smiled at me surprised, “I thought it was warm enough, but okay.”
My skeptic eyes stared at him tauntingly. “What are you part polar bear or something?”
“I’m pretty sure, Alexia, that your temperature gage is the off one. Miss, I need a blanket because I’m shivering in this seventy degree weather.”
Peter mocked me back and I scowled. “I’m not bad at all. And I wouldn’t be so cold, if you kept your house at a decent temperature.” I smiled at my fondness, “You like arctic weather.”
A goofy grin crossed his captivating face, “I do. But,” he said like he was the bravest man alive, “for you I have been placing the temperature to your normal standards and as a bonus, I didn’t open the windows.”
Splashing a handful of water at Peter, I teased, “You are crazy. Who opens their windows in the middle of winter? And I know you turn a fan on besides that, Peter Andrew Sweet! So don’t think you’re getting all chivalry on me.”
Instantly, his lips pouted and said, “You’re a hard chick to please. But seriously, I die without the fan on at least.”
Taking a sigh, I rolled my eyes, “Fine. Tonight you can put your ceiling fan on,” his eyes lit up, “But no window.”
I placed my head on Peter's shoulder as he replied defeated, “Fine no window.”
“Thank you,” I whispered quietly as I felt his hand play with a loosen run away from my bun.
The tub was now filled up and a set of footsteps approach the open door. Standing in the doorway, his sister peeked further inside. “Oooo, looks like some people are heating it up.” She winked over to us and added, “Night.”
Peter tripped as he moved away from me while giving a murderous look toward the door. He muttered, “Sorry about that.”
I laughed at the entertaining thought, “It’s okay Peter. I rather them be joking around than be morbidly depressed.”
He nodded his head in understanding and pointed to a cabinet, “Our towels are in here and when you’re done, you have to wash out the tub. Use the shower head. It’s easier.” I started to take off my one stalking as he stammered to say, “Just a call me and we can…I, I’ll do…it, it. Clean the bath tub, I mean.”
My hand criss-crossed at the bottom hem of my dress ready to pull it over my head and Peter ogled as my dress lifted up a bit showing more leg. “Peter?” I called out enjoying his reaction of nodding his head with red tinted ears. Quickly Peter closed the door.
As I undressed fully and got into the glorious hot water I pondered. What would have happened if I continued to undress right in front of him? Would Peter be grossed out, shit a cow or possibly, which I highly doubt, want me?
Sinker deeper into the water as the jets hit me from all sides, I thought more. I kind of wished Oliver would look at me in that way or even get flustered from me sometimes. It seemed instead that I was the only one floundering like a fish around each other.
Maybe it was too soon for him to be that way? I had only been dating Oliver for two months. Shaking my head I repressed the urge of being disappointed.
After soaking for a considerable amount of time, I opened the cabinet to find one towel and I tightly secured it around my body. Glancing at the shower head I decided instead of bothering Peter, I could quickly rinse the hairs that escaped the loose bun plopped on my head.
Stretching it out, the hose only extended so far and I wondered if it really would reach. Taking a deep breath, I twisted the facet all the way and instead of getting a lot of pressure, the shower head was set on a trickle setting and was flooding my feet and the dirty clothes I had on the floor. In panic I tried to switch the shower head setting to a spray and it seemed to make things worse as I somehow sprayed everything, but the tub.
Being morbidly discouraged, I was now stuck in horrible situation where I was trying to keep the spraying water close to the tub and reach to turn off the faucet in the shower.
Come on. You can do it, I mentally cheered myself on.
Finally I did it, but the damage was down. Everything from the floor, the tubs sides, the counter top with the only pajamas I brought for this two day trip was completely soaked.
And I had one towel.
Mopping the floor with my old and new clothes, I surprisingly was able to clean up my mess. I mocked Peter’s voice, “Just use that shower head it’s easier to clean, yeah right.” Hanging my clothes over the tub side after wringling them out, I quickly walked into Peter’s bedroom again.
There Peter was lying on his bed holding a picture frame. As his eyes glanced up confused as to why I was wearing a just a towel and looked like a drowned rat with my hair soaked, I asked. “Can I borrow some clothes to sleep in?”
Peter nodded his head puzzled, but quickly searched his bag to find a baggy shirt and his long shorts. “Here,” Peter responded as he moved toward the window to give me some privacy to change. “You seem, ah scattered a bit.”
A bit, I thought sarcastically.
Quickly I found another pair of clean underwear in my bag and threw on his clothes. I answered as I tried pushing my hard nipples down. “Well, you would be to if you had a fight with the shower head.”
And lost, I thought embarrassed.
Glancing to see a hoodie hanging from his bed frame, Peter continued to say, “Lex, I said I would clean it when you were done.”
Placing the baggy hoodie over my head, I felt like I had a lot more coverage, as I replied, “I just thought I could do it and I did.”
Being close to his bed, I bent over curious to see the picture Peter was looking at was one with him and his mother. Turning back to my bag I added, “You can look at me now.”
Peter turned his head toward me and smiled. A smile, I was starting to like being so contagious and genuine. Moving toward the bed, he started to take an extra blanket and a pillow, “I guess I’ll sleep on the floor. You can have my bed.”
I shook my head and protested, “No Peter. I’ll sleep on the floor, this is your room.”
“And you’re my guest,” he added as I walked over to him.
Grasping his pillow, I stated, “And as a guest, I get what I want. And I want you to sleep on your bed.”
Peter pulled both the pillow and ultimately me closer to him for my hand was latched onto the pillow tightly. With my chin up, Peter whispered as his other hand moved a wet hair stuck to my face away, “Whether you like it or not, I’m sleeping on the floor. And you’re welcome to join me.”
Shaking my head, “This is stupid.” I glanced over to the bed, “You’ll hurt your back.” Peter was about to protest until I said, “Look the bed is big enough for two of us.”
If his mouth could hit the floor it would have from it being so opened from my suggested idea. “Unless you have a problem with that?”
Peter shook his blonde mane of hair still unable to answer and I proceeded to his bed and buried myself under the covers. I poked my head up to find Peter had turned the ceiling fan on and was now standing by the bed unsure.
“I swear I won’t bite you like I did in second grade,” I joked which broke the ice for Peter.
Sliding into bed, he moved the picture frame back onto his dresser. “Well that’s a relief.”
I glanced over to the picture again and Peter put his arms behind the back of his head and sighed. “I see wonder in your eyes Lex. What are you thinking?”
Turning to him I smiled feeling suddenly shy to say this, “You were a cute kid.”
Peter’s eyes shifted over to me in astonishment and he jest, “From what I remember of our childhood together, you thought I was anything, but cute. I think the terms were more like I make you want to hurl, I’m a maroon, a stinky and gross monkey,” he started to list them on his fingers, “One of my favorites was when you called me a bloody barbarian.” He glanced over to with a smirk, “I was quite fond of that one.”
Nudging his shoulder I added, “Don’t forget a bumbling idiot.” Glancing into his fascinating mocha eyes, I admitted, “It’s true I found you much more repulsive when we were younger, but now in retrospect and being a mature adult, I can admit you made a cute kid.”
Laying my head on the soft pillow, I asked puzzled, “You don’t have to answer this if it’s too personal, but why is your family so happy you have a girlfriend? Have you never had one?”
Peter shook his head and responded with humiliation wavering in his voice, “Well, no, not really.”
This was my turn to be astounded as I turned my body toward him with my hand supporting my head up. “Really?”
He glanced away with his adorable face turning slight pink, “Is it really that bad?”
“No,” I replied trying to relieve his self-conscious. Peter inched his head back to me intrigued, I added “I was just surprised that no one scoop you up.”
Peter sat up wiping his hand over his frustrated expression, “Why is it surprising Lex? I’m really nothing special.”
I sat up now angry at hearing his bull, “Are you kidding me? You have a lot of great qualities; you’re sweet, funny, smart, extremely understanding and just a genuine person. Any girl would be lucky to have you.”
“Thanks for,” Peter body tightened as he said, “the mom speech.” Peter rolled his eyes and added, “When it comes down to it, I’m boring and plain.”
I rolled my eyes as he continued his rant of no self-esteem, “I’m not good looking and I don’t go on exciting adventures like your wonderful boyfriend is taking you on. It was a camping trip in the Grand Canyon you mentioned right?”
I stared at him as if an invisible hand slapped me across the face.
But he rambled on, “And even you a girl that was afraid to camp out in the back yard is going. You’re change to someone that’s more interesting than I will ever be.”
I turned away from Peter in the bed somehow annoyed, “He’s not my boyfriend. And I’m not going on that trip because my mother is coming in that week.” Mostly because I begged her too. “So I’m boring too. Night.”
“What?” I heard Peter whisper, “You’ve been going out for like three months now. And you’re not exclusive.”
“Two months and we’re not,” I responded ready to close my eyes being done with this conversation.
Why was I so suddenly mad? Was it because I was freezing in this room? Maybe? Or the fact, Peter was running himself down? Most definitely! But I think what caught me off guard was his sudden pecking at a fresh wound.
“I don’t understand,” Peter said confused and I whispered clicking the lamp off, “Me either.”
Any girl would bend over backwards to be in my shoes. Maybe even go to the extreme of the Grimm’s Cinderella by chopping their toes off just to be with Oliver. He was successful, attractive, active, a gentlemen and beyond that all, just a great guy.
So here my prince was handing me a silver platter of asking if we could be titled something more, boyfriend and girlfriend, but I left him with an uncertain answer.
“I’m not ready.”
No one was more surprised by the turn of events then me discovering I had hints of commitment and trust issues with what was supposed to be my prince charming.