I walk down the stairs to find my mother and father laughing to the jokes they make, instantly causing me to turn around; looking for Kenna but there’s no sign of her presence. My eyes landed on my brother, who’s busy talking to Ava—listening to her explanation about dolls.
”Where’s Kenna?” My mother appears beside me.
”She’s outside,” Mia replies as she walks past both of us, her phone in her hand without even sparing a second glance—making me nod my head, glancing at my mother again.
”Call her in. Dinner’s ready,” Mother responds, patting onto my shoulder before disappearing into the kitchen.
It’s no doubt that the word ’dinner’ coming from her mouth sounds a little strange. It’s probably because we haven’t had the chance to even have dinner together ever since I left high school but then again, even before university, Alain was never around at home. He was always focusing on university without even taking his time to go head home … I never blame him.
Maybe … just maybe, it’s because mother has cooked dinner for us. It feels like history is repeating itself—it has been years since I remember her cooking dinner for the whole family. It has also been awhile since I’ve eaten any of her nicely cooked dish.
There’s some sort of homey vibe coming from this house, giving me a chance to relive them all over again without feeling left out. For some reason, I kind of enjoy the whole family loving environment than how we always are. It’s not just Alain and I who are always busy with work but father is rarely even home to spend some nice quality time.
As for mother, she’s out making herself busy with her friends and her new boutique. Even after only a couple of months, the sales are rising up like crazy—not giving her any time to sit down and rest.
Well, as for Mia … she’s being Mia. Always worrying about university or her courses. Even though she has about two years and a half until graduation but she is already worrying about her future career but father told her not to worry because there’s always a place for her at Empire.
I head outside through the front door, seeing Kenna standing near the trees. Her eyes are closed as she takes a deep breath—somehow trying to clear her mind as she enjoys the view. I take my time to eye her from behind … slowly and not wanting to leave a single detail out.
What happened earlier in the bedroom, that was bizarre. Kenna has never reacted that way before whenever she sees me shirtless and I didn’t expect myself to react that way either. I was slightly embarrassed by how she looked at me because I felt exposed; when it was just standing shirtless in front of her.
I noticed how her cheeks were turning red and her eyes were trying hard not to meet mine, it was hard not to notice. Then, how she played with her fingers, wanting to find another sort of distraction; it was driving me insane. Everything she does … it’s making me feel like she’s partly wanting me to feel something.
Which is not too odd for me because I’ve always been the one to notice everything about her. From the way her hairstyle changes or how she wears different colours of clothing and even by the way she responds differently through texts—too much little details for me to notice and I can’t even stop noticing even if I want to.
”There you are,” I say, faking a surprised look even though I’ve been standing at the same spot for the past few minutes without her noticing.
Kenna turns to look at me with wide blue eyes, leaving me to take a few steps towards her. She has her arms crossed around her body due to the wind blowing onto her bare skin; it’s not that she’s wearing something appealing because she’s just standing there with a grey sweatpants and maroon shirt but apparently, her shirt’s a bit too thin.
”Uh … I was just heading inside.” She replies, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.
Nervous gesture. I thought in my head before nodding, not trying to make it seem obvious that I’ve been standing long enough to know she wasn’t heading inside.
”Dinner’s ready. We should head inside,” I continue to speak. ”Mother cooked our favourite food … baked chicken and mashed potatoes. So, don’t tell me your stomach didn’t grumble when I told you.” My lips curve up into a smile as soon as I hear her chuckle.
”I’m starving,” She mutters with a small smile.
As soon as we’re close enough, I wrap my arm around her shoulder before pulling her closer towards me—this isn’t something strange for us because I would do this all the time, whenever we’re walking in the park or just snuggling close while watching movies.
”Of course you are. Why wouldn’t you be?” I chuckle as we both walk side by side into the house, my eyes meeting my mother’s, seeing her peeking through the window but as soon as she saw me looking … she wanders off in a hurry.
We step inside, seeing Harley serving the food while Alain sits beside Ava, feeding a spoonful of mashed potatoes; apparently, her favourite too. Mother clears her throat from beside as she takes her seat near father, leaving an empty spot for both Kenna and I.
”Smells delicious. This wouldn’t be my sister-in-law’s cooking, would it?” I joke, glancing at Alain who has already burst out into laughter.
One of Harley’s lack is that, she can’t cook. She’s not a terrible cook but she only knows how to cook one dish—which is my brother’s favourite but the fun part is that … whenever they have dinner, they would always be in the kitchen and cook together. They make everything as an experience even if it’s as simple as saying ’I love you’ to one another.
I know a lot about them because I practically watched them throughout their marriage until now. The stages that they went through … the ways that Alain looks at her or how he talks to her, I notice everything. Maybe … I’m just observant.
”Don’t be too hopeful about that. She can’t cook like this,” Alain replies, earning a smile from Harley as he wraps his arm around her waist before planting a quick kiss on her cheek.
”You have got to give credit to your own mother, Aidan. I am still a professional in the kitchen,” Mother interrupts, gesturing to father who has a sly smirk on his face.
Mother has always been a great cook. When I was little, all I ever wanted was to come home early and eat my mother’s cooking—even when she has always been a busy bee, she would never forget to prepare different dishes for me. She would learn new recipes from her cooking books or even the internet because she wants me to have a taste of everything.
I turn towards Kenna, seeing her taking a bite of the baked chicken but both of her eyes are zoning out into a blank space; causing me to frown.
Slowly leaning closer towards her, ”Are you okay?” I ask. My warm breath hitting down her jawline which causes her to slightly turn towards me—leaving me to lean back, giving her some space instead but as she turns to look at my family, they’re all currently looking at us.
”Does it … tastes bad?” Mother asks, somehow concerned.
Kenna shakes her head with a smile plastered on her face, ”No! No, of course not. Why would it taste bad? It tastes great,” She replies.
Her eyes wander to meet mine as she pats onto the side of my face, ”I’m fine.” She continues to speak before adjusting herself on the seat, ”I was just wondering how you’re such a good cook, Diana.” She adds, earning a chuckle from father and Alain.
”Mother, Kenna. I told you to call me mother,” She responds. ”And … about my cooking, feel free to ask me for recipes. There’s one way to a man’s heart and that is through cooking, I managed to win Marc’s heart just by the taste of my cooking. He was head over heels,” She smiles, showing happiness glinting in her eyes.
”I can’t doubt that,” Kenna smiles.
”Right, pass me more chicken!” Alain exclaims with a grin, causing the whole family to laugh and add on further conversations.
After dinner, we’re all seated in the living room with our heads facing the television screen as we continue to talk, laugh and even joke around. Alain, Harley and Ava are on the other side of the sofa—seeing their daughter sitting in between them as they snuggle up close, it appears to be the ultimate family goal.
As for mother and father, they’re being the old romantic couple as she leans her head on his shoulder.
Then, there’s Kenna … and me. Our bodies are more likely further away from each other as we both lean back on the sofa, eyeing the whole family. It may seem that Kenna and I are going through a rough phase or even just fairly acquainted.
”Ava was three,” Harley says as she points down at the picture in the frame, ”This was on her birthday … when you overlooked and she had a mouth full of cupcake,” She chuckles.
”Well … toddlers tend to get pretty active,” Alain laughs.
Mother’s lips curve up into a smile before turning to look at Kenna, eyebrows furrowed at the distance between us which causes me to quickly wrap my arm around her shoulder and lean closer towards her.
Kenna’s eyes furrow in confusion but as soon as she turns to look at my mother, she leans even closer towards me and starts to place his hand on my chest. We appear to be as the perfect young married couple as everyone has been saying; the new lovebirds or more correctly, childhood sweethearts.
”Still not changing your mind about going on a honeymoon, Aidan?” Mother asks.
”Not anytime soon, mother. We both discussed and we agreed,” I reply before looking down at Kenna, seeing her smiling up at me.
”It’s just odd. You both are young and recently married, why wait? There’s no better moment as a couple than being a newly-married couple. The thrill is different as you grow older together and … while you both are still young, might as well cherish it.” She continues to speak, ”I can tell that you want some privacy instead of spending a week with us,” She adds.
”No … absolutely not,” I respond immediately. ”We wanted to come here and we wanted to spend some quality time with you guys,” I clear my throat at the end, scooting closer towards Kenna as she shifts.
Kenna nods, ”Maybe, we should start talking about our honeymoon but it’s not going to happen in a few months.” She says.
”Exactly. Besides, we have a new big project coming on,” My eyes wander to Alain who has a grin plastered on his face—feeling proud of the achievement we both made for our family company without the help of others but our own bond.
Alain shifts comfortably, ”Right. We forgot to tell you that the project would be millions and it’s very important for us … especially Aidan, to stay focus. It’s not everyday that we get a huge project within only a couple of months.” He directs the conversation to a different topic which eases me slightly.
Mother’s eyes widen, ”You didn’t even tell me about the project? Aidan … Alain, that’s very good. I’m so proud,” She raises both of her hands as a thumbs up, earning herself a laugh from my brother as soon as he sees it.
”Thanks, mother. We wouldn’t have made it without both of your supports,” He replies, smiling at father and mother while I just nod my head, agreeing.
The minutes pass as the living room grew silent, almost as if everyone was dead. My eyes continue to wander around the darkening room, seeing Harley passed out on Alain’s shoulder as Ava sucks on her thumb, also passed out in her mother’s arms while Alain continues to watch the show on television.
As for mother and father, they’re just snuggling close as they watch the show, too.
I glance down at Kenna, seeing her eyes red with tears, showing how tired she is but she remains close towards me; eyes plastered onto the screen. ”Do you want to go to bed?” I mutter, loud enough for her to hear as she looks up at my face.
”Yeah,” She replies.
I clear my throat, ”We’ll be heading upstairs. We’re both exhausted,” I say, receiving mother and father’s attention as they turn to look at us—seeing me standing up before pulling onto Kenna’s hand, slowly lifting her up.
”See you two in the morning,” Mother smiles.
Kenna and I walk out of the living room as we both head upstairs without sparing a second glance downstairs, straight towards our bedroom—more likely my old bedroom or spare bedroom whenever I head back to Dallas.
”You can take the bed,” I say as soon as I see her standing in the middle of the room, looking confused.
”I thought we talked about this?” She questions, which causes me to turn and see her raised eyebrow. ”I mean … our sleeping places. We talked about it on our wedding night,”
I continue to hold onto the blanket, ”We didn’t exactly talk about it because you did steal my spot on the bed but I get your point. You mean, we’ve been through the phase of not sleeping separately?” I ask.
”You know what I mean, Aidan. We’ve both slept together … and I don’t think this time would be any different,” She replies, playing with her fingers—leaving me to notice every single detail of her movement without saying another word.
”You want us both on the bed?” I ask, my voice suddenly deep and low.
Her blue eyes meet mine but neither of us bother to move or lessen the distance between us, only letting our gazes remain the same. Somehow, that question meant something more than just sleeping on the bed because neither of us wanted to get a bad posture or any back pain but it’s as if … we couldn’t stay away from one another.
The sudden trance was interrupted as she immediately walks towards the bed, her lips curving up into a smile. ”Yeah … I want us both to be on this bed. So that, we can both sleep soundly without either of us complaining having trouble sleeping.” She replies.
Then, she pats onto the spot beside her, ”So … would you come to sleep on the bed with me?” She asks, her eyes focusing into mine.
”I wouldn’t want it any other way,” I reply before walking towards the bed and immediately climb into the covers, earning a chuckle from her as she sees the excitement coming from me. I lay my head on the bed and she follows afterwards which causes me to turn sideways, facing her before wrapping my arms around her body.
”You’re not going to suffocate me back, right?” She chuckles.
”No, I’m just going to make sure that you’re still here when I wake up.” I mutter as a reply, closing my eyes as I feel her breath hitting the side of my neck—before snuggling closer, leaving me with a smile on my face.
It doesn’t take me long to fall asleep. It’s also a surprise to fall asleep this quick because I would always have some problem sleeping … my mind would wonder and wander about the complicated things in life but now … right now, right here, my mind is clear.
My body is at ease.