#36 Dating ends in drama
I haven’t slept in my own bed in two weeks. By now, Khiêm’s room already feels like my bedroom too, and my bed has become the place where we dump dry laundry when we’re too lazy to fold it right away. We haven’t talked about it, and we didn’t need to. Why sleep in my own bed when we both sleep so much better wrapped around each other?
Plus, there is the sex… The mind-blowing, multiple-orgasm sex that makes me cry out so loud I’m hoarse the next morning. Khiêm is so gentle, so loving, and so open about what he likes and wants, it’s an eye-opener for me. It’s a lot harder for me to be as vocal as he is, but I’m trying. He gives me all the time I need, getting to know each other’s body better and better each night, and sometimes in the middle of the day when we feel like it.
It’s weird, but he’s by far the more experienced one of the two of us. I’ve been with way more people than he has, but I’ve been repeating the same moves over and over. Basically, I only have two moves: lie down on my back or blow someone until they come. I feel like I’m finally having sex the way it’s supposed to be. Slowly, with someone I care about, without any expectations.
I’m smiling to myself as I help Sonia to get a blushing bride into her dress, lacing her up so she can see how the carefully designed one-of-a-kind wedding dress fits her.
“It’s perfect!” the bride cries out, lifting her trembling hands to wipe away her tears.
Her mother and sister are bawling their eyes out as well, and Sonia and I share a relieved look. This bride may seem sweet right now, but she’s been a regular bridezilla these past few weeks. Hopefully she won’t find faults with her dress in a few minutes the way she has at every other appointment.
While Sonia takes care of fitting the bride with the perfect dress, I sneak a peak at my phone. My website has been live for a while now, but so far the only orders that have come in were from my parents, my siblings, Uncle Aston and a few friends of my parents. Aimee’s mother put in an order as well, but so far no outside of my family and friends has found my web shop. No new orders today either. Fuck.
Khiêm wants to promote my site for me, but I really want to give it another month or so. I’d much rather do this on my own, because I’ve been relying on him for everything since we met. Validation, laughter, a safe haven, a roof over my head, friendship, and most recently… orgasms. So many orgasms. I shiver just thinking about it, unable to keep a smile off my face. I’m not complaining about his role in my life, not at all, but I’m ready to show both him and myself that I can accomplish things on my own as well. I want to be worthy of him, and leaning on him even more than I already do just doesn’t feel right.
Sonia calls out for me to help the bride out of the dress, and I tuck away my phone, going back to work. My internship is still a great source of pride for me. It doesn’t earn me much money, but I’ve learned so much already, and Sonia has been getting more orders lately, so she might be able to start paying me a little more soon, which would be great. For now, I’m good here, happy to learn and pad my resumé for when I eventually hopefully can get a real job in fashion instead of a three-day internship. Here, I feel like I’m valued for what I can do in a way I never felt at my previous job at the salon.
When my day is almost over, I’m surprised to see a vaguely familiar face coming into the store. I’ve never officially met him, but I recognize him from the night of my mental breakdown that changed the course of my life.
“Trystan, right?” I ask, moving over to the tall guy beaming at me. “Khiêm’s college buddy?”
“That’s me,” he confirms with a grin. “I’m here to whisk you away for a date.”
I raise my eyebrows at him and laugh. “Erm… you know I’m with Khiêm, right?”
“Oh right, I meant a date with him, obviously,” Trystan verifies. “I’m just the chauffeur.”
Trystan produces a bouquet of red roses from behind his back, handing them to me. “These are also from Khiêm, to be clear,” he says with a chuckle. “I’m not hitting on you.”
“Ahw, you have the best boyfriend ever,” Valerie says, peeking in from the back room. “Is this him?”
“Nope, just the boyfriend’s friend and the person who somehow got roped into driving Nia to her date,” Trystan explains, waving at Sonia and Valerie. “She’s done for the day, right? Can I steal her away?”
“Sure, you can have her,” Sonia says, motioning for me to skedaddle. “See you tomorrow, Nia.”
As I grab my purse and follow Trystan to his car, clutching the flowers, I can’t help but mull over the way Valerie and Trystan just described Khiêm. My boyfriend. After establishing that we’re exclusive, we haven’t bothered with labels, but I guess that is what he is to me. The thought makes me smile as I slide into the passenger seat of Trystan’s black sedan. I should probably ask him if it’s okay if I refer to him as such, but I doubt he’ll have much of a problem with the title. For the first time in my life, I don’t have to wonder if a guy likes me. It’s pretty fucking clear he does.
“Why are you picking me up instead of him?” I ask Trystan as he pulls out of the parking lot. “Not that I don’t appreciate you coming here, but…”
“Marcus works only two blocks from here, and Bee’s office is behind the building you work in,” Trystan explains. “So unless you want to risk your big brother finding out, we figured I’d be a safer bet to pick you up.”
“Right,” I realize, my heart sinking a little. I hate lying to Marcus, but I want a little more time with Khiêm to figure just how serious this is before we add the pressure of my brother freaking out about us. “Thanks for doing this. I could have just driven myself if he’d texted me where to meet him.”
Trystan laughs. “You obviously still have a lot to learn about Khiêm. If he could date you out in the open, you’d probably never drive yourself anywhere ever again. He’s one of those guys who believes in showering his girl with attention, gifts and love.” He glances over at me before turning his attention back on the road. “You snagged a good one. I’ve known Khiêm since college and I’ve met both of his ex-girlfriends, but he’s never been this crazy about a girl, so I guess you must be pretty damn special as well.”
“I’m not so sure about me being anything special, but you’re right about Khiêm. He’s amazing.” I sigh contently and look down at the bouquet in my lap. “Does he keep doing things like this? Or is it just a first month kind of thing?”
“He treated his exes this way every single day of his relationship with them,” Trystan says, taking a right turn. “Both relationships lasted for about a year, and trust me when I tell you it wasn’t his fault things didn’t work out. When he’s in, he’s all in.”
While I don’t like hearing about his exes, I know I have no reason to worry. His last relationship was years ago. I’d like to think I’m special to him, but it would be silly to expect him to have been anything but a gentleman to his ex-girlfriends. That’s just Khiêm.
“How’s your friend Aimee doing?” Trystan asks, trying to sound casual, but failing spectacularly.
“Why?” I ask, smirking as I take in his tense expression.
“Just wondering,” he says with a shrug. “Never got her number that night. I was hoping to run into her in the club again, but I haven’t been lucky enough to see her again.”
“If you give me your number, I’ll see what I can do for you,” I decide, not wanting to just hand out my friend’s number, especially not since she only shared a few drunk kisses with this guy and she’s still taking a break from dating. He can’t be that bad since he’s Khiêm’s friend, but I’m not sure if Aimee is interested.
“Sweet,” Trystan says, looking happier now. “Khiêm has my digits, of course. If you could put in a good word for me, that would be much appreciated.”
“For a hook-up or a real date?” I can’t help but ask.
“A date,” he assures me. “It would be pretty fucking weird for me to ask you to help me land a one-night stand with your best friend, wouldn’t it?”
“Yes, it would be,” I agree. “So don’t you dare turn that date I might be able to get you into a hook-up, okay? I will cut off your balls.”
“Duly noted.” Trystan pulls up in front of an old farmhouse on the outskirts of town. I spot Khiêm leaning against his car, and I’m out of the car the moment Trystan rolls to a stop, yelling over my shoulder to thank him.
“Hey lovely,” Khiêm says when I throw my arms around him. “I missed you today.”
“Hmm,” I murmur, kissing him softly. “You look good all dressed up.” He truly does. He’s in black slacks and a crisp green button-up shirt, a far cry from his usual baggy outfits.
“Don’t I always look good?” he jokes, squeezing me before pulling away and taking my hand so he can tug me to the farmhouse.
“Yeah, you do.” I’m still holding the flowers, feeling a little silly in my work outfit with ballet flats, holding red roses.
The door swings open, and an elderly woman with a warm smile beams at us. “You must be Khiêm and Nia. Come on in, we’re about to get started.”
“What exactly are we getting started with?” I ask Khiêm in a low voice.
“You’ll see,” he says, way too happy with himself. He loves keeping me in the dark for as long as he can. He asks the woman if she has a vase to put my flower in some water, and she happily takes the flowers from me before pushing open a door to lead us into a huge kitchen where several middle-aged couples are sipping wine as they lean against the large kitchen isle, chatting.
“What is this?” I ask Khiêm, squeezing his hand as I look around.
“Welcome to Italian night!” the woman says, putting my roses in a vase on the windowsill before clapping her hands together and smiling at the whole group. “Now that everyone is here, we can get started. Put on your aprons!”
Oh my God. It’s a cooking class.
Laughing, I turn to Khiêm. “Really?”
“This is the only way we stand a fighting chance of me making something that doesn’t end up tossed in the trash.” He grins. “What do you say? Are you up for this slightly unorthodox date?”
How could I not be? Khiêm in an apron is just about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, and I’m starving, so it’s a good thing there are appetizers and we’ll be making dinner. We’re by far the youngest couple here, but Khiêm fits in anywhere, and I find myself chatting with the other couples quite easily as well, spurred on by his enthusiastic attitude.
Sadly though… even a professional chef teaching a cooking class in a barn can’t save Khiêm from himself. He ends up ruining the dish we’re making, despite my best offers to save it, but luckily the other couples made enough so that we can share in their cooking efforts. We all sit around a large table in a room to the side, tasting all the dishes and drinking wine. It’s one of the best dates I’ve ever had, even though it’s also the weirdest.
“I still don’t get how you managed to ruin something as simple as pasta,” a man in his late forties tells Khiêm as he hands him the cheese.
“If it wasn’t for my girlfriend, I’d only ever eat grilled cheese sandwiches and take-out,” Khiêm replies with a wink in my direction.
Girlfriend. Guess that answers my earlier question that I didn’t get to voice yet. My smile is as bright as his, and I can tell he’s as happy about being able to be a couple outside of our home as I am. The food is delicious, and by the time dinner is over, I’m stuffed and a little tipsy. Khiêm hasn’t had a sip of alcohol since he’s driving us home, and he’s having a lot of fun teasing me for giggling so loudly at every single thing he says.
“This was a very nice surprise,” I whisper in his ear, pressing a kiss to his cheek before we go over to thank the woman who taught the class and call goodbye to the others.
“You’re so easy to please.” Khiêm hands me my bouquet of red roses. “I know our dates so far haven’t been too fancy or anything, but I think this is more us than dinner at a fancy restaurant or going to a jazz club or something.”
“Hanging out with old married couples is our jam?” I poke him in the side as we make our way to his car.
“Anything you and I do together is my jam,” he says.
“Awh, that is so cheesy.” I giggle.
“Told you I’m a sappy fuck.” He pulls me to him to kiss me, holding me close for a moment longer before opening my door for me.
Just when I want to get in, I spot someone leaning against a black jeep a few feet away from us. He looks familiar with his light brown skin and light blonde hair. Is that…? Oh fuck. Our eyes meet and his eyebrows go up in surprise.
“Nia?” the man asks, pushing off the car and sauntering in our direction.
“W-what are you doing here?” I ask, a horrible feeling of dread settling in my stomach.
“Picking up my parents from some lame cooking class because they had too much wine,” he says, rolling his eyes. “What are you doing here?”
“Taking the cooking class with my boyfriend,” I reply, happy that Khiêm is right next to me. I’m so not ready to face this asshole on my own.
“Boyfriend?” he repeats, sounding incredulous, his eyes moving over Khiêm. Damn, I hate that smug look. It’s obvious what he thinks of Khiêm. Let’s just say he doesn’t look impressed.
“That would be me,” Khiêm says, holding out his hand. “And you are…?”
The second Randy says his name, Khiêm’s whole demeanor changes. Before I can even register his movement, his fist connects with the side of Randy’s face, followed by loud cries of pain and outrage from both guys.