Chapter 15: Love Me at the Count of 5A Chapter by paparapapa
Continuation of flashback... Where will Steve bring Faith for the last three places?
When we ran out of breath, I slowly moved away from him, eyes still kept shut. A touch on my cheek made me jerk back to reality. My eyes flew open, and so I met his soulful gaze.
“He’s always looking out for you, Steve. He’s still here,” I said as I pressed my right palm on his left chest that was pumping real hard.
“I know,” he uttered and I smiled at him.
“And Faith…” he continued.
“Yeah?” I answered gently. He leaned forward and whispered words on my right ear.
“You’re my Wonder woman.”
Chapter 15: Love Me at the Count of 5
“Shut up,” I said as I giggled ridiculously.
“Time for the third place,” he mumbled as he moved away from me. A silly grin was painted on his face.
“What do you have in mind?” I asked him curiously. But instead of answering, he stole a peck on my lips and grinned more widely. I glared at him but my lips betrayed me. They couldn’t help but curve the same way.
“Let’s go.” He intertwined his fingers into mine as he pulled me with him while walking towards his car.
When we were on his car, I pressed on him harder to make him reveal the identity of the next place, but he just ignored my questions. Instead, he teased me on a lot of things that happened that day, like how I was so awkward when he introduced me to his granddad. I was having so much fun that I didn’t notice that we were already parking in an area which was too small that it could only accommodate three cars. However, there were no other cars in the vicinity, making it look big. When the car’s engine fully stopped, I slipped out of the car, only to be greeted by a really cool breeze. Apparently, the place was only a few meters from the sea. To my right was a small hut and it was fully-packed with families and old men. I cringed at the smell of barbecue which enveloped the open area.
“We’ll be having an early dinner here,” he announced proudly.
“There?” I asked while pointing to the hut. I silently hoped he’d say no. It wasn’t because I hate the place, because believe me I like any place that is located near the sea. It was because I hate barbecue. I was again fighting an internal battle - whether to just tell him straight or not. I didn’t want to let him down again. My heart would break if I’d see his sad expression for the nth time today.
“Yeah, is this okay with you?” he asked gently.
“Uhm… Yeah, it’s fine. But tell me why you chose this place.” I asked while grinning at him. We were already making our way to the barbecue place.
“Well, it was my granddad who introduced me to this place… Sizzling Hot. It was my 14th birthday and he brought me here. I complained because I didn’t want to celebrate it in a cheap place.” He paused and laughed for a while as if remembering a funny memory.
“But my grandpa was so persistent. So I walked grudgingly to the place. But when I ate their barbecue, the anger that I felt just vanished to thin air. As if the cool breeze surrounding the place just melted it. The taste was pure heaven. I can testify that they serve the best barbecue in town!” he continued. He looked like he was on cloud nine. I knew right then that I’d hate myself if I’d be the one who’ll burst his tiny bubble of happiness.
“And so, this has become my favorite restaurant. I always celebrate my birthdays here,” he mumbled happily.
“That’s really great,” I replied and gave him a heartfelt smile. When we entered the place, the smell of barbecue was a thousand times worse. I couldn’t stop myself from cringing at the strong smell. I tried to hide it, but as if sensing my change of heart, Steve caught me with a weird look on his face.
“You don’t like it?” he said sadly.
“No, I like the place.” It wasn’t a lie. So to avoid further interrogation from Steve, I walked briskly to a vacant table. It was located at one of the corners of the hut. From our table, we could already overlook the sea. As I sat down on one of the seats, Steve followed and sat on the other side.
“You’re lying,” he bluntly stated.
“No, I’m not. I like the place,” I said truthfully.
“Then what is it that you don’t like here?” he asked with pleading eyes. His eyes are one of the things that I just can’t say no to. I sighed loudly.
“Fine. I don’t eat barbecue. No big deal,” I mumbled rapidly. Steve frowned in front of me for a second.
“Why? What’s with you and barbecue?” he asked curiously but his tone was teasing.
“Well, it’s embarrassing,” I said and then shifted my gaze immediately.
“You know how much I like it if you tell me more about yourself,” he said soulfully. His voice was really warm and true that I couldn’t help but shiver. This guy can really make a girl crazy over him in just a snap. I sighed.
“It was when I was eight. I was reading articles on the Internet, and then I read one that said that the black part of barbecue, you know the burnt meat, is CARCINOGENIC! And it was just pure horror for me at that time. I don’t want to die of cancer. And so I convinced myself to hate it and its smell,” I explained seriously. But Steve’s frown just turned into a laughing smile.
“Why are you smiling? Aren’t you disappointed?” I asked him.
“Your nerd side is really amusing and cute,” he said it bluntly while staring at my eyes. I felt my cheeks starting to burn, and I couldn’t say anything.
“I’m happy that I learned something new about you,” he added while sounding so sincere. My conscience was eating me up.
“It’s nothing, really,” I argued.
“No, it’s not. It’s just a shocker that you are a health buff,” he teased.
“I’m not!” I tried to convince him.
“Then why do you love walking to school even if Princess offered you a ride?” he challenged.
“Well…” I struggled to find the right words.
“Because you wanted to exercise,” he supplied the missing words. I couldn’t argue anymore since I knew he was right.
“Let’s look for another place, ‘kay? But first, let me talk to my grandfather’s friend. He has been running this barbecue place for years now,” Steve said as he was about to stand up.
“No, let’s just stay here, I’ll have another food.” I stopped him by grabbing his right wrist across the table.
“But they only serve-“ Steve answered but was cut short by an old man who approached us. He was carrying a plate full of barbecues.
“Oh, wow, Steve. I didn’t know you were coming today,” he greeted Steve then looked at me.
“So this must be Greg’s future granddaughter-in-law!” He exclaimed loudly catching the attention of other customers. I blushed at his candor.
“I’m sorry pops but we have to go now,” Steve interrupted him.
“Oh, but this is Faith, she’s my girlfriend,” he added as an afterthought.
“Nice to meet you Faith. I’m… Yours,” he joked. I shifted uncomfortably since I didn’t know if I should laugh. I swear I could hear crickets chirping at the background already.
“Kidding!” he snorted. “I’m Ben, Greg’s friend. Oh, and Greg is Steve’s grandfather,” he informed Faith.
“Oh yes, nice to meet you too,” I mumbled softly.
“So what was that again? You’re already leaving without even tasting my barbecue?” He looked hurt.
“Uh… No, actually. We still have some spare time,” I said rapidly before Steve could say anything. Steve looked confused while looking at me. I sat down on the chair, and then I saw him follow my move.
“That’s good to hear! So as a gift to Steve’s future bride, I hereby give you this plate full of barbecues! And your dinner will be my treat!” He exclaimed excitedly. The other customers, who gave us curious looks a while ago, clapped their hands when they heard that I was going to be Steve’s future b-b-bide. Oh no, I can’t say it! The word alone makes me want to squeal.
However, once he placed the plate of food in front of me, he just stayed there as if he wanted to see my reaction after I’ll take a bite on a piece of blackened meat. Steve shifted on his seat.
“Ben, I’m sorry, but Faith"“ I interrupted his words when I realized what he was about to say. Ben looked confused.
“I’ll have a taste.” I chose my words carefully then gave Steve an “it’s-okay” smile. Steve just shook his head as if saying that I can still say no. However, I didn’t want to be rude. Not with everyone staring at me as if they were really curious about how I will react after taking a single bite. They were a bunch of amusing people.
I breathed deeply and swallowed an invisible lump in my throat. Closing my eyes, I bit on the barbecue and chewed a little piece of meat. The flavor instantly flooded my whole being. It had awakened a sense of taste that I didn’t know existed in my body. It was pure heaven. Exactly like how Steve described it! My face might have brightened up like a light bulb because all the people around me started to laugh. My eyes flew open almost immediately. Steve’s worry-stricken face was now laughing so hard.
“You love it! How about the carcinogens?” Steve said in between laughs.
“Well, why didn’t you tell me that it was a taste to die for?” I retorted. He laughed harder at what I said. I just glared at him, and took another bite of the delicious barbecue. Ben and the other customers went back to what they were doing before we came with a smile plastered on their faces.
“You look pretty even with sauce on your chin,” he said seriously. I got self-conscious so I took a napkin from the center of the table and wiped a part of my chin with it.
“Did I get it?” I asked him.
“Yes,” he said thriftily and looked away from me swiftly. I frowned as I was disappointed that the moment wasn’t like what I saw in the movies where a guy would lean and wipe it away for me. I silently wished a while ago that I didn’t wipe the part where the sauce was located. I was scolding myself internally when I saw him stand and move towards the chair beside me. I looked up to him as I followed his every single move. He sat beside me and looked into my eyes. Hesitation was clouding his beautiful brown eyes. I just stared back at him with confusion evident on my face.
What he did next caught me off guard. He leaned forward and gave me a peck on my lips. I was too stunned to scold him for displaying his affection publicly. It was embarrassing to think that his grandfather’s friend was just a few meters from us. He could’ve seen that. I didn’t want to know whether Ben was looking so I just focused my eyes on Steve.
“I’m sorry,” he apologized sheepishly.
“I couldn’t help myself.” He was talking in short sentences in between pauses. He combed his hair using his fingers as if he was embarrassed.
“The sauce on your chin made it really tempting to kiss you,” he explained.
“I’m sorry,” he added.
I blushed when I finally digested what he just said.
“It’s okay,” I told him while trying to stifle the giggle that was trying to escape my lips.
We ate silently for 20 more minutes with him beside me already. I ended up eating seven sticks of barbecue while he ate ten. After we were done, my stomach felt so full that I couldn’t move that much. Ben approached us when he saw that we were already done. He looked at how much we have eaten and his eyes widened.
“Oh my. I shouldn’t have volunteered to treat you. I didn’t know you could eat a lot,” Ben joked while looking at me with a horrified look on his face. I just chuckled a little. My tummy felt like it would burst if I’d laugh hard.
We stayed there for another 15 minutes just talking about anything. Steve’s face dropped when Ben volunteered to share some of his secrets. I was so excited to hear so much about him that I giggled so hard and in the end, I had let out the loudest burp that I’ve ever heard. My eyes widened to the size of saucers when I realized what I just did. Again, they laughed their heads off at me. I decided that we should just leave to avoid more embarrassing moments, since for some reason, they were piling up really fast.
After we bid goodbye to Ben and to some other new friends that we made during our stay there, we drove again for quite some time before I noticed that we were already in the quiet side of our town. Well, let me explain. I don’t really live in the city. My house is a few meters away from it, from the boundary between the city and the town. And this town of mine has what they call the quiet side and the crowded side. The crowded side included all the subdivisions and a lot more infrastructures. Oh, and I live there. While the quiet side of the town were mostly trees, hills, mountains, and houses that were miles away from each other. There was a rumor going across town that the people who lived there were the creepy ones and that some of them were actually vampires. One time, I saw one inhabitant of this side of the town, and he looked really scary. From that day on, I kind of believed the rumor so I never went to this side of the town.
“You know that the rumor’s not true, right?” Steve’s words brought me back to reality. He must have read what I have been thinking.
“Of course.” I tried to lie but my mouth twitched. He must have seen it because he chuckled softly, but thankfully, he didn’t press on the issue much further.
The car stopped in front of… well, I couldn’t find any prominent landmark. There were just trees, flowers, then… trees. I gave him a questioning look, but he just smiled his lazy one. The place had a creepy atmosphere that my knees couldn’t help but shake. Yes, I admit, I’m a coward when it comes to ghosts and other supernatural beings. He got out of the car, walked towards my side, opened the door to my right and held his arm towards me.
“Let’s go.” His smile was so sweet that it melted all of my fears. But before taking his hand, I inhaled deeply to calm my nerves. His hand was warm when I finally reached out for it. Cool wind welcomed me as I got out of the car. He then ushered me to a part of the forest which was covered with a lot of thick green vines. He let go of my hand for a while and shoved the vines as if they were curtains covering a window. I gasped when what he did exposed a really narrow and steep trail way which ended blindly. He grabbed my hand again and led me to the road’s end.
We walked hand in hand as we struggled against gravity. And after 10 minutes of exhausting hike, we finally reached the peak of a relatively low hill. The view that greeted us was breathtaking. I took a sharp breath as I stared at the amazing sunset. Its rays were all over the sky, as if the clouds were intimidated to cover its beauty.
I shifted my gaze to Steve when I saw him at the corner of my eye sitting on a blanket.
“Where did you get that?” I asked, amused. He wasn’t carrying anything when we came up here so it really bugged me. There was even a bottle of wine inside a translucent container full of ice on top of the blanket. Two glasses were placed on top of the container’s cover.
“It was already here,” he replied.
“Oh no, it might belong to a vampire,” I exclaimed panicking and not thinking. He laughed a sexy one.
“I thought you said you didn’t believe that rumor?” he asked. But when I just glared at him, he continued.
“Well, I went up here before I picked you up, oh, and of course before I fixed myself… The pack of ice has already melted though, but I hope the wine’s still a little bit cold,” he mumbled to himself thoughtfully.
“Then let’s drink it already,” I told him while wearing my widest grin. I walked towards the mat and sat carefully to his right. He smiled and knocked the cork out of the bottle’s mouth, and then poured a reasonable amount of wine on each of the glasses. I took one glass out of his hands and sipped on it. The flavor twirled around my mouth as if teasing me to take more sips of that delicious wine. But there was something that I had to do first. So I placed the glass on my lap, my fingers playing and tapping on the cold glass.
“So what’s with you and the lovely sunset?” I grinned. Of course, I knew it wasn’t the sunset.
“It’s breathtaking,” he said as he mimicked a girl’s voice. I laughed at his funny imitation.
“This was the last place that we went to as a family.” The teasing tone on his voice disappeared in an instant. I tried to find my voice, but with his brightness, it also vanished.
“My mom suggested that we go watch the sunset. And so my father looked really excited and said yes in a heartbeat. That time, I really thought he was head over heels in love with my mother,” he continued sadly.
“He drove us to this place, despite my really loud grumbles, and showed us this breathtaking view. He told us that this was his secret place and that he was glad that he finally shared it to us. His eyes back then… looked like they were of a kid’s. He was genuinely happy that the love I felt for him just surged out of my chest. But he proved me wrong.” A tear fell from his eye but he immediately wiped it away. This had been an emotional day so I couldn’t believe that I still wasn’t drained. A tear of mine followed his.
“Don’t taint that beautiful memory,” I told him. My throat felt dry, but I still managed to squeak out the words.
“Just don’t think of what happened next. Paint it in your heart just the way it happened. Don’t add negative feelings, because it’ll definitely turn into a horrible memory,” I mumbled rapidly, not giving him a chance to talk.
But instead of talking back, he wrapped his arms around me and placed his head on my right shoulder. We stayed in that position for a while before I felt him relax.
“Thank you,” I said sweetly.
“It was an honor,” he whispered, and then loosened his hug.
“So where’s the fifth one?” I said excitedly, trying to throw out the sad atmosphere that surrounded us.
“Done,” he replied as he smiled and looking so amused. I mentally counted the places that we’ve been to, but I was so sure that it had only been four.
“There were only four!” I argued, sounding like a little brat.
“Well, you can’t be in that 5th place,” he said, smugly.
“Why not?” I mumbled softly, hurt that he barred me out of his 5th place.
“Because matter can’t occupy two places at the same time,” he said. His face told me that he felt like he was a genius. I rolled my eyes.
“What has this got to do with physics?!” I grumbled. He snickered.
“Faith, I know you’re smart, but I really like it when you can be dense at times,” he said coolly.
“Just tell me already!” I was obviously getting impatient.
“I can only show you the 5th place, but you can’t be in it.” He sheepishly grinned. I still didn’t get it.
“So then show it to me,” I said as I attempted to stand up and move away from the blanket. But before I could even steady myself, he grabbed my right wrist and yanked me towards him, back to the ground.
“Hey, why did "“ I grumbled, but he interrupted me.
“It’s here, okay? It’s beside you, my top favorite spot.” He talked rapidly, faking annoyance. But he was obviously embarrassed. His head was bent down as if hiding something from me.
A smile started to creep on my face as the meaning of his words dawned on me. Beside me. Beside me. I repeated those words in my mind to convince myself that he really did say that. When I wasn’t able to mumble a single word, he looked up and searched for my eyes. A faint reddish streak was still evident on his pale face.
“I’m sorry, can you say that again?” I said, my tone teasing.
“I didn’t say anything,” he grumbled, his face dejected. He shifted his gaze from me towards the moon which has already started to appear, replacing the beautiful sunset.
“I was just kidding,” I said softly as I tugged his arm. He inhaled a sharp breath first before turning towards me. He stared at my pleading eyes for a minute before he decided to lean forward and touch his lips gently to mine. I savored the moment as we shared a deep passionate kiss, one that I wasn’t used to. His taste was addicting. It was bittersweet like my favorite dark chocolate. His lips curved into a smile before he moved them away from me. My body was hungry for more, but my mind knew that it was already enough.
“I said the 5th favorite spot that I want to be in this world is beside you,” he repeated the words just like how I asked him to. His voice was now braver and his sweet words were heartfelt.
“Why?” I grinned. I wanted to fish for more compliments. I wanted him to say more, so that maybe, just maybe, he’ll realize that he does love me.
“Well, because you make me look good. Being placed beside a less attractive person makes me very handsome,” he joked. I already expected his answer, so I just grinned as if it didn’t matter. After all, it was the typical Steve. But he was the Steve who I have cherished and loved more than my life.
© 2011 paparapapa
Shelved in 1 LibraryAdded on December 9, 2011
Last Updated on December 9, 2011
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The throbbing of one's heart.
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