We met properly only 6 hours before that party. He’s one of B’s good friends. Since JJ was the designated driver, the rest of us were all pretty happy to let our hair down and party. We arrived at the first party, a birthday bash, in good time. I enjoyed the gardens most. It was one of those well-manicured grounds with the expensive grass that was sold by the square metre. By 10:30 pm we were lying on our backs, faces turned up to the sky, watching the airplanes race through the thick clouds. A few times, our conversation got interrupted when I’d occasionaly jump up and chase the family’s orange tabby cat around, just for fun. A few times, I caught him sitting up looking at me while I was trying to corner the tabby. I remember turning to him once and smiling at him over my shoulder, receiving a warm laugh in response. He said I surprised him with my insightful remarks. I told him he surprised me with his sense of humor – I had thought earlier that he didnt have one 🙂
We sat a bit closer to each other in the car, on the way to the farewell party in KL. When we arrived, I was engulfed in Simon’s and Marco’s bear hugs and when I looked up, I couldnt find him. It was only after almost an hour later, while I was in the middle of a lovely conversation with a lady about our recent travels to Hong Kong that I felt his eyes on me again.
I finally took the advice featured endlessly by women’s magazines.
I made eye contact, held it for a few seconds, and smiled.
Then I turned back to the lady I was talking to and continued our conversation. I didnt have to fake anything actually because the conversation was lively and engaging, and I almost forgot about him. He came up to me when Jospehine excused herself to join her boyfriend. Then we chatted. A lot. We made eye contact. A lot. Then we started to move to the music. When he ran his fingers along my collarbone, I swear it gave me goosebumps. Everytime his hands tightened on my waist, I felt like swooning. Honest.
On the way back to his apartment, he held his hand out to me, palm up. I took it. He interlaced his fingers with mine the whole time. We had planned to drop him off at his condo first, but when we arrived, we were all rather tipsy, and our designated driver was rather sleepy. B’s idea made sense – instead of dropping off, we’d all go up to the condo and rest for a bit, have some coffee or tea, and then move on to send me home next before him and JJ make their way home.
Somehow coffee and tea turned to schnapps and vodka, but JJ and I helped ourselves to orange juice and water 🙂 While she took a nap on the loveseat and B smoked his cigarette on the balcony, I rested on the sofa. I felt, rather than saw him sit next to me. His white shirt was unbuttoned. It seemed natural for me to adjust myself to put my head on his lap while I lie on my back with my legs resting on the arm of the sofa.
I would’ve resisted words, but his touch was so gentle I didnt want to push him away. It’s almost 2 years since I lost John to the waves that hit Phi Phi that December. No matter how much I’m told that it’s not my fault, I still cant shake the guilt off. It was still my idea to change the destination to Phuket – no circumstance will change that fact. Losing John has made me testy. I didnt want to be close to another man. I couldnt. What I just realised last night was how much I miss being touched. Being gently carressed. When he smoothed my hair away from my forehead, I closed my eyes and closed the compartment in my brain that held my guilt for losing John. Temporary measures, I told myself, and I wanted that touch to continue. I wanted to feel those hands stroking my shoulders, those thumbs gently tracing my shut eyelids, my cheekbones, my jaw. I dont know why the tears came when they did, but I couldnt stop them. I felt his fingers brush my tears away. I opened my eyes and looked up at him. I’d expected understanding, warmth, maybe even pity. But I was surprised when I saw sorrow. Deep sorrow and loss. Were there sorrow and loss written in my eyes and his eyes mirrored them?
A long while after that, I heard B ask him if I was ok while JJ went to the bathroom. I heard him reply that I was asleep. I heard him tell B and JJ that he’ll send me home in the morning and he’ll remind me to call them as soon as I get home. I heard JJ whisper to him to take care of me and ring her if I wanted a ride home from her as soon as I woke up. I must have dozed off after that because the next time I opened my eyes I was already curled up on the sofa, covered in blankets. He was in the other sofa, asleep. When I got back from the bathroom, he was awake, watching me. “Let’s get some sleep now ok?” he said.
We woke up at 10:30 this morning. He fixed strong, thick German coffee for breakfast. I cooked pancakes for lunch. We went out to the night market and ate loads of rojak buah for dinner.
It’s almost 1:30 am now. He’s working on his laptop across from me. If I stretch my neck a bit, I can see my overnight bag and my gym bag on the bedroom floor, where he left them 3 hours ago. He just passed me a handwritten note on the back of an envelope – “Are you driving me to work or shall I send you to your office first tomorrow morning?” . I just slid the envelope back to him with my reply. He’s smiling at what I wrote. He’s looking at me now – “Let’s get some sleep, ok?”
Good night, all.