Chapter 2 Agreement
The cab finally came to a stop in front of Danica’s old house. She was still shaken up from her brief encounter with Troy. In fact, all the way from the café to her home, all she thought about was Troy. But as soon as she laid her eyes on the stone-front house, she forgot all about him as all the memories related to that house came rushing at her like a tidal wave. She relieved all the good memories spent within those walls with a sad smile on her face for a few minutes.
She quickly replaced her sad smile with a cheerful one when she noticed a sleepy Aziel snuggling up to her. “Aziel, we are home,” she whispered as she threaded her fingers through his hair, just like she used to do when he was a baby.
He rubbed his eyes and glanced at the house groggily. His eyes opened wide with a gasp. “Wow. Did we really live in this beautiful house? Is it really ours?” he asked enthusiastically, hopping out of the cab. Danica nodded. “I hope it’s not dirty because we’ve been gone for so long.” He pouted.
“Don’t worry. I hired a company to clean this house monthly when we moved out, so it should have been taken care of and maintained.” Danica responded, ruffling his hair. “Let’s go inside. Help me with the luggage.”
“Will we really live here from now on?” Aziel asked, still in awe as he gazed around at their surroundings.
Rolling her eyes, Danica spoke up before taking the two pieces of luggage out of the car trunk, “Yes. Now don’t use your excessive questions as a way to escape helping me with the luggage. Come over here.” She shoved the small luggage handle in his hands and declared, “I won’t be the only one dragging them.”
He giggled. “Why not? You are my cute and pretty big sister.”
Before she could get another word out, Aziel ran off towards the front door. She groaned but handled the belongings on her own, nonetheless.
Soon enough, the siblings got settled in the house. Aziel was busy enjoying exploring every nook and cranny of his new house and wondering why he didn’t remember anything, while Danica got busy cooking dinner for them.
It was around eight in the evening when the doorbell rang up. Danica wondered who it could be since no one except Troy and Stacy knew about their arrival yet. What if it was Troy? Or worse, a burglar?
Fearfully, Danica peeked through the peephole to get a glimpse of who was banging on the door like it personally offended them. She released a sigh as she saw the person standing in front of the door. She opened the door and chuckled, “You almost gave me a heart attack, Stacy.”
Stacy walked inside the house, giving a warm smile. “Where is that tiny monster? He’s with you, right?”
Danica nodded and gestured with a thumb over her shoulder. “He is watching cartoons in the living room.” She gave Stacy a quick hug then asked, “Did you have dinner yet?”
“Not yet, I just got off work. I will, later though.”
“You’re in luck, because I was making extra food,” Danica said as she closed the door. As Stacy was about to decline, she was interrupted by Danica saying, “I won’t take no for an answer.”
“I wanted to ask if you have all the groceries you need,” Stacy mumbled, making her way towards the living room.
“I had everything prepared beforehand,” Danica replied and went back to the kitchen. She started cooking again while Stacy went to meet Aziel. After she put the finishing touches on the meal, she placed it on the table and announced, “Dinner’s ready.”
Aziel came running and secured his seat, facing the television. Then he asked, “Dani, was Stacy really our neighbor? She is really nice. She loves Boss Baby too.”
Danica chuckled lightly and nodded her head before pulling a chair for herself. “She still lives in the house next door,” she responded.
“Why don’t you come to my house tomorrow and I’ll show you around, young man?” Stacy offered when she sat down at the table. “Meanwhile, Danica can look for a way to fulfill your birthday wish.”
Danica gulped down her orange juice and arched an eyebrow in amusement. “You already told her about your wish?”
“He already loves you so much,” she said to Stacy, who just laughed in response.
Stacy looked at Aziel who was now busy stuffing his mouth with pasta. “The kid is fun, you know.”
“Just wait,” she muttered under her breath.
“I like spaghetti and all, but couldn’t we have just ordered a pepperoni pizza? That would be easier to eat in front of the TV.” Aziel spoke up, and Danica shrugged her shoulders.
Stacy chuckled and averted her gaze to her plate. “He’s still a good kid,” she said in her defense.
Danica just rolled her eyes sarcastically and continued eating. She knew what her younger brother was like. He was an annoying little creature who was the most important thing in the world to her, and she would do anything for his sake.
Troy was repeatedly looking at his watch, fidgeting while sitting on the edge of his red and white king-sized bed. He had been like that since the moment he came back home. Originally, he was planning to make a new blog post tonight, but he failed to do so as his mind couldn’t stop thinking about Danica. She is back, he thought to himself for the umpteenth time.
He still found it hard to believe that the first woman he fell in love with was back and he was able to bump into her again. What was he thinking of not talking to her? He should have just pulled her in for a hug and never let go. He had missed her so damn much. He tried so many things to forget her, but nothing ever worked. The only woman that made his heart skip a beat was still Danica.
Troy was lost in thought when Hernan barged in once again as if the bedroom actually belonged to him, not to Troy. “Hey, can you lend me your charg— why are you staring at your watch?” Hernan asked, furrowing his brows in confusion.
“Because I can’t afford to lose track of time,” he responded absentmindedly. Realizing what he said, he shook his head and turned to face Hernan who was now near the nightstand, already pulling out the charger. “Why am I blessed with your presence at this hour? Speak only if you have new ideas for videos, I can’t think of a new idea.”
“Then I have nothing else to say,” Hernan retorted and took a seat next to Troy. “You are going back there tomorrow, aren’t you?”
“He already can’t wait for morning to get here so that he can go back and see her again,” spoke up a brunette, leaning against the door frame. The two pairs of blue eyes looked at the dark brown-eyed model as he continued, “Our Troy is eager to see his long lost best friend.”
“Why are you putting emphasis on that word? We were best friends,” protested Troy.
Trevor stepped inside the room and sat on one of the white couches that occupied the far side of the room. “That’s exactly what I said. Best friends,” he said with a mischievous smile on his face.
“Leave it, Trevor,” Hernan interrupted. “He will never admit that they were more than just friends.”
“We really weren’t. Stop misinterpreting the facts.” Troy frowned as he glanced down at his phone.
Trevor chuckled as Hernan teased, “Yeah, right. We all know that.”
Troy groaned in annoyance and walked out of his own bedroom, knowing those two wouldn’t stop chewing his head. He was glad that he never told his friends about his romantic feelings for Danica, otherwise he would never hear the end of their teasing.
But they were right, all he wanted was for the morning to arrive.
The fresh smell of the coffee beans hit Danica’s nostrils. She inhaled the aroma while stepping inside the coffee shop Stacy worked in. Stacy had left her phone at their house last night. Even if Danica might deny it to her dying breath, Stacy knew that Danica was actually here for a cup of hot chocolate.
Last night, they had chatted a lot and caught each other up on what had happened in their lives over the years, and Danica had explained everything to her after Aziel fell asleep. Thanks to God, Stacy understood everything, plus, she was supportive. However, she was disappointed that Danica didn’t say anything before leaving California, for which she apologized sincerely.
Instead of standing in the line, Danica waved at Stacy to take notice of her, who nodded her head and motioned for Danica to sit in one corner. Of course, she didn’t need to say what she wanted. After all, Stacy knew what she was here for. Hence, she quietly pulled out a wooden chair for herself at a table for two and sat down.
She was looking out the wall-sized window when a voice interrupted her thoughts, “Hi, is this seat taken?”
Danica’s breath hitched hearing the familiar deep voice—a voice that she was used to hearing only through WhyNTube. With her heartbeat speeding up, she turned to face the tall, fair-skinned boy. His short chestnut hair seemed messy as if he came here the first thing in the morning. He was only wearing a grey hoodie and black jeans with a pair of white Converse.
“I guess your silence means no,” said Troy and sat on the chair facing Danica. He placed his camera on the table and started, “How are you doing this morning?” He felt stupid for asking such a silly question.
“I’m good. What about you?”
“Fine.” He pursed his lips, trying to find a safe topic to talk about. “Um, I’m sorry about yesterday. I shouldn’t have just left like that,” he told her.
“So why did you?” she inquired, looking anywhere but him.
“Why do you think so?” He raised an eyebrow in question, yet she kept quiet. “Danica, for god’s sake, you have been gone for three years with no news whatsoever. Then you just show up here out of the blue. How do you expect me to act? I was obviously shocked when I saw you. I didn’t know what to say to you, still don’t really.” he blurted out.
Danica looked at him in surprise and tried to come up with an excuse, “I—”
Troy interrupted her, “You know what? Never mind. You don’t have to tell me why you left if you don’t want to.” Danica was grateful that he had always been so in tune with her. “But what brings you back here to California? And what have you been up to these days?” He was staring intently at her hazel eyes, waiting for a response.
Danica averted her gaze again and replied, “I was in New Jersey. I had gotten a free-ride to Princeton, so I settled in New Jersey with Aziel. We moved back because of Aziel. He has a birthday wish for his eleventh birthday, which went by three days ago.”
Troy’s heart clenched when he learned that Danica returned for Aziel’s birthday wish; she didn’t return for him. He knew that he shouldn’t have expected her to come back just because she missed him or something, since expectations only hurt in return. Yet, somewhere in his heart, he had hoped that one day Danica would return and that maybe they could have seen where this thing between them could go. Maybe she would have never returned at all if it wasn’t for Aziel.
“I suppose his wish must be something big enough for you to return here. I’m curious to know. What is it?” he asked, hiding his stung pride with a charming smile.
Soon, a waiter appeared, placing two cups of hot chocolate coffee on the table. Danica looked at Stacy, who winked at her, and mouthed, ‘Enjoy.’
Danica sighed, taking a sip of her drink. It helped to calm her nerves. She still didn’t understand why she felt the way she did around Troy. He was just her former best friend whom she had a crush on. It wasn’t like she felt anything more than that for him. She started to speak calmly, “This summer, Aziel wants to do something which none of his classmates has ever done. I still don’t know what that can be. Aziel left it all on me, so I brought him to California. I know many places here so maybe I could take him to some nice places around here and—”
“And you think that is unique?”
“No, but I can still try to find a unique place?” Danica was confused, and she was not sure if she was telling him or questioning herself.
The thick, awkward air was filled with contagious laughter within a few seconds. Troy was laughing at Danica’s choice of words. “You haven’t changed a bit.”
He laughed for a bit more, while Danica crossed her arms over her chest, frowning. However, she was glad that she could see him laugh again. She had doubts about whether she would ever be able to see that exhilarating look on his face again, but now, her doubts were absolved.
“Done?” Danica arched an eyebrow after it seemed like Troy was finally done laughing. “Do you have a better idea?”
Troy twitched his lips, pulling himself together as his mind swirled with ideas. A better idea? He thought for a few more minutes, drinking his hot chocolate until something hit his mind. “Has anyone, let alone Aziel’s classmates, lived in a mansion filled with four celebrities?”
Her eyes grew wider as she breathed out, “What are you suggesting?”
“Move into the Rose mansion. Gabrielle, I, Trevor, and Hernan, we live together, you know? And the four of us are celeb influencers. I am sure Aziel will love something like that as his birthday gift.”
“Troy…” Danica paused for a brief moment, pursing her lips thoughtfully.
Meanwhile, Troy could feel the familiar feeling in his heart again, something he felt each time Danica uttered his name—those goosebumps.
“Troy, I am not sure that is a good idea. I—”
“Think about Aziel, Danica. You came here just for him, so you can do this for him at least.”
She wanted more time to think about the offer Troy just laid out on the table. Accepting the offer meant that she would meet all of her old friends, whom she abandoned without an explanation. Unfortunately, the offer seemed really good. She knew the opportunity would make Aziel the happiest he has ever been, and nothing else mattered more to her than that.
“Fine,” she started, “but under one condition.”
Troy was excited to hear Danica agree. She would be living in the same house as him, which meant she would be close to him all the time—his biggest dream was potentially going to come true and he was as excited as a kid in a candy store. “What is it?”
Danica answered with full determination, “I will be paying the rent for as many days as we stay.”
“Sure,” he agreed at once. He was well aware of how stubborn Danica was, and even he could not change her decision. “You can move in tomorrow. I will pick you up from your house.”
She forced a smile on her face and placed her hand over his on the table. “Thank you so much for helping me out, Troy.” He seemed as though he did not believe her. “I mean it, really.”
As much as he wished to pull his hand away, he missed her touch. Her hand was still cold as always, yet it made an effect on his heart that had been missing for way too long. So he remained still and gave a slight smile, showing his dimples.
They had no idea that a fan of Troy’s videos was clicking pictures of Troy and Danica as they were holding hands and looking at each other with a smile spread across their faces.