Last night, Steve and Henry had gone through possibilities of what Veronica could have done. I, meanwhile, had been allocated the job of taking Arianne out because Steve didn’t really want to explain to his love that he had made her son fake a relationship. Arianne certainly wouldn’t be very pleased, but I had the feeling that she would still be happy because Henry and I were really together.
As I started imagining what would happen if April found out about it, my phone vibrated in my jean pocket, making me jump. It was a text from Henry.
Come down to the lobby. I’ll be waiting.
That single text made my skin tingle in excitement. I couldn’t wait for today. I pushed myself up from the couch and quickly slipped on a pair of ballet flats before heading out the door. To me, the elevator ride took too long. I was anxious to see Henry. Once the doors opened, I rushed through them and off to the lobby.
Henry was leaning against one of the large pillars of the hotel with a small smile on his face as soon as he spotted me. “Took you long enough,” was the first thing he said to me.
I frowned. Well that was nice! “Are you kidding? I was waiting for you for way longer than four minutes. Where were you anyway?”
A wicked grin crossed his face and he tapped my nose. “That is for me to know and for you to find out.”
I groaned and reluctantly followed him over to … a motorbike? “Henry … please don’t tell me you stole Keith’s bike.”
Henry barked with laughter and patted the seat of the red bike. “No, I rented this baby.”
Baby? It looked like I have some competitition. Henry seemed to be reading my thoughts because he gave me a gentle kiss. “Let’s get going,” he murmured.
I obeyed. We hopped on the motorbike and I felt pretty damn happy to be where I was at that moment. After about fifteen minutes of speeding through different towns, we finally arrived.
At a carnival. A fair!
“Like it?” Henry asked as we both hopped off the bike. I smiled and nodded eagerly.
“Hell yeah! Just look at that rollercoaster!”
As I started walking forward, I heard Henry chuckle at my enthusiasm. Once we got to the entrance, I bit my lip as I realised something. Tickets weren’t for free and I hadn’t brought my wallet. Damn. I didn’t want Henry paying for me; it was unfair.
“Henry,” I murmured. “I don’t think we should go come here …”
I saw his face fall, making me cringe slightly. He looked hurt and it was my fault. “What? Why? You don’t like it here?”
I shook my head. “No no, it’s not that. It’s just … I forgot to bring some cash.” I said the last bit in a low voice. To my utter surprise, Henry started laughing. I looked up, incredulous and smacked him on the arm. “It’s not funny, you peanut!”
Once the jerk sobered up, he gave me a soft look. “Lainie, it’s a date. Do you know what that means?” He asked while I stood there motionless. He leaned forward and whispered in my ear, “It means I’m paying for everything.”
I shivered from the proximity and eventually caved in. When we entered the fair, my eyes went wide. There were so many things to see and do. Henry could sense me being overwhelmed so he pointed out the Funhouse. I agreed and we both had a hilarious time trying to get through the ‘barrel of fun,’ getting down or up tipped staircases and making our way out through the distorting mirror hall. We headed off to the bumper cars after and instead of sitting in the same car with Henry, I got into my own. “I’m going to get you pancake,” he threatened with a mischievous grin.
“I’d like to see you try!”
And off we went. ‘Party Rock Anthem’ came on and everyone around us started going in the same direction. How boring. I pressed down on the pedal and zoomed towards Henry while he did the same to me. At the last moment, I swerved off to the left and did a quick turn to bump his car from behind.
“Cheater!” I heard him yell. I laughed as he chased after me through everyone and finally bumped into my precious car. I ended up hitting two other people’s cars and they gave me dirty looks. Whatever.
Once we got off, Henry pulled my hand and dragged me away from the bumper cars. “Hey! What do you think you’re doing?!” I exclaimed.
He didn’t answer. We ended up in front of the ‘Kamikaze,’ a thriller ride. It was a gondola with rotating arms. “That looks … dizzy,” I commented.
Henry grinned. “I know. That’s why we’re going on it.”
When we came back out, I was swaying from side to side and I had a slight headache. I was never going on that again! As I veered over to the left, I grabbed a rail for support while Henry chuckled from behind me. “That’s for playing dirty back at the bumper cars.”
I turned around slowly to glare at him and questioned, “What kind of fiancé are you?”
“The very best baby.”
* * *
For the past few hours, Henry and I had tried out all the roller coasters and the rest of the thriller rides. That included the ‘Haunted Mansion Horror’. Can I just say, I have never done anything funnier in our life? There had been real life actors in gruesome costumes waiting to scare us, but since Henry was an actor, he knew what would happen. Apparently, when he first started acting, he had worked in a haunted mansion ride. So our plan had been to attack them.
And we sure did. It had been so much fun.
We were on the bike now, going someplace else to eat. I still didn’t know what was wrong with carnival food. Corn dogs and cotton candy was delicious if you ask me.
I frowned once I realised Henry had stopped. We were at a small beach which reminded me of Henry’s ‘special spot’ back at Newport.
Oh my god.
It looked perfect. The sun was setting over the beach and guess what was on the lovely white sand? A picnic rug complete with a picnic basket and a guitar case.
“Henry …” I was utterly speechless and awed that he would go to the trouble of setting up a picnic.
He kissed my forehead and caressed my cheek as I stared wildly at him. “No need to thank me.”
I had the strong urge to roll my eyes but I managed to refrain myself from doing that. “Well thank you anyway.”
Henry smiled and took my hand so he could lead me over to the chequered picnic rug. Curiously, I peered at Henry as he opened the flap of the straw basket and took out the various foods he had brought along with him.
First came out a medium-sized plate of cold chicken, then some cheese cubes, crackers and dips and fruit such as cherries, strawberries and bananas. He also took out a bottle of deep red wine and two small plastic cups.
Henry seemed anxious as I stared at the food. It seemed like he was waiting for me to say something, so I did. “This looks great Henry. Seriously.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him scratch his neck. “Thanks.”
We started on the chicken, sharing the same plate and fork. Henry fed me a few pieces and I chewed slowly. It was delicious, especially the sweet chilli flavour which came with it. “Where did you buy this from?” I asked with my mouth full of chicken. It wasn’t polite, I know, but I was sure Henry would dump me for being a pig.
“Uh … I didn’t buy it.”
That surprised me. “Well … who made it?”
I watched, confused, as Henry worked his lips in agitation. “I did,” he finally mumbled.
“I thought you didn’t know how to cook?”
Henry looked uncomfortable and very embarrassed I might add. “I got someone to teach me so I could cook for you.”
The confession warmed my heart and I couldn’t stop a silly grin from forming. I leaned closer to him and kissed him on the cheek as a way of saying ‘thank you.’ He did the same to me as well and I felt him slightly relax. “It’s corny.”
He said it like it was a bad thing. “Corny’s good,” I assured him. He smiled wider and I could see his confidence slowly returning. Of course, his ego returning was usually a bad thing but I couldn’t bear to see him insecure.
“Let’s keep eating, shall we?”
I laughed at how badly Henry wanted to change the subject and complied, but not before adding evilly, “I’ll never forget this by the way. If I need a comeback or some way to make you shut up I’ll just mention what had just occurred.”
“Some fiancée you are.”
“The very best.” I remembered Henry had said that to me earlier that day and poked my tongue out at him.
We continued eating through the rest of the foods after that. Henry sneakily spat the cherry pits into the sand, so I had scolded him for that and I stopped him from eating the cherries altogether. He then thought it would be fun to throw the cheese cubes at me, so that’s what he did.
I squealed as a cube hit my nose. “You jerk!” Henry ignored it and continued to fling cheese cubes at me, one by one. I grabbed a fistful from the container it came from and aimed one at his nose. Instead, it hit his mouth, but the weird thing was that before it fell to the ground, Henry had somehow managed to open his mouth, seize it between his teeth and swallow it.
I was in shock. “How did you do that?!”
“I don’t know honestly,” he replied, laughing. “Hey, keep chucking them to me will you?”
“Are you crazy?” I raised an eyebrow to emphasize my point.
Henry rolled his eyes. “I want you to chuck them at me so I can catch it in my mouth and eat it,” he explained slowly, as if I was dumb. What an insult. “You know that game? Usually people use grapes instead but -”
He was cut off as I hurled a cheese cube as his head. I couldn’t believe my date was making fun of me. “I get it now!”
I watched sullenly as he burst out laughing. Once he stopped, he realised I was not impressed and his face fell. “Oh …”
“Yeah,” I muttered angrily. “Oh.”
I heard Henry sigh. He then came to sit beside me and put a comforting arm around my small shoulders. I wanted to protest but he pulled me closer and his amazing scent was making my thoughts incoherent. I felt his lips in my hair as he murmured, “Do you want to me to make it up to you?”
I nodded eagerly. How would he do that? In an instant, I figured it out. Henry’s idea of making up was most likely making out …
He then pulled away from me so I frowned. Ok, I guess I was wrong.
“Remember long ago I promised that I would play a song for you?”
My eyes widened as he took out his light brown acoustic guitar from its case. I had forgotten about that. He was playing me a song? This day couldn’t get any better.
“I … hope you like it.”
Entranced, I watched as he started to strum the guitar strings slowly and started to sing.
“For the way you changed my plans, for being the perfect distraction …”
An automatic smile made its way onto my face as he sung; his voice deep and beautiful. His singing somehow soothed me and made me feel like I was in a different world than the one I was in now. That’s how incredible it was.
“You’re the best thing I never knew I needed …”
I bit my lip as I listened carefully to the lyrics. It did apply to me right? I didn’t want to ask because 1) I wanted him to keep singing and 2) I didn’t want to sound self-absorbed … or stupid.
“So now it’s so clear, I need you here always …” His dark ocher eyes stayed locked with mine intensely and felt my heart starting to beat faster. How freakin’ perfect could he get? “… I must admit you were not a part of my book, but now if you open it and take a look, you’re the beginning and the end of every chapter, oh …”
Throughout the whole song, I sat there patiently and nodded my head along to the song. I had never heard of it but I didn’t care. The lyrics were meaningful. Once Henry finished, he bit his lip. “So did you like it?”
“How did I like it?” I repeated. “I didn’t like it.”
Henry blinked and he looked ashamed of himself. “I’m sorry.”
I then started to laugh. “I didn’t like it, I loved it!” I exclaimed happily, throwing my arms around him. I felt his chest rumble as he laughed. “Sorry for bringing your massive ego down for a few seconds.”
He ran a hair through my hair. “You’re such a pancake.”
“And you’re such a peanut.”
“Pancake with maple syrup.”
“Peanut with almonds and cashews!”
We both stared seriously at each other, and then started to laugh. I think we were officially the weirdest couple out.
“Almonds and cashews? Seriously?” Henry questioned with an amused smirk.
I huffed. “I didn’t know what to say! I said the first thing which came into my head!”
He ruffled my hair. “That’s just like you.”
“Whatever do you mean?” I frowned and when I met Henry’s eyes, he was looking down at me affectionately.
“I don’t know … but Lainie, I just want you to know something.” He then tilted my chin so I could meet his eyes. I wondered what this was about. “I … I’ve never felt this way about anyone. I’m serious about us and I’m not using you. What Steve said, about me moving onto different girls … yeah I did do that and I’m not proud of it, but I promise you, I would never hurt you like that.”
My lips smiled on their own accord. I had known this somehow anyway, like a gut feeling. I told Henry this and he looked sighed with relief.
“But you know … if you do ever hurt me, I’ll find a way of revenge,” I whispered as I ran my fingers down his chest.
He shivered and I suspected it was because of my touch. “I know, but really, I don’t think I ever want anyone else. I …” He gazed intensely into my eyes and then quietly, he added, “I love you.”
Shock filled me. What would I say? Did I love him? Henry seemed to sense I was confused and he took my hand. “You don’t have to say it back. I just … wanted to tell you.”
I nodded, still stunned, then out of nowhere, Henry’s cell rang. He groaned and fished it out of his pocket before answering. I sat there gazing out at the sparse ocean and thinking about ‘love.’
What was love? How did I know if I loved Henry? Was it that contented feeling whenever I was with him? Was it understanding each other? Two halves of a whole? That’s what it felt like when I was around Henry. I was just plain happy and content. It felt like it was just the two of us. I didn’t need anything or anyone else except him.
Was that qualified as love, or was it just a crush?
Henry’s voice snapped me out of my swirling thoughts. “Steve says we need to get back. He said it was urgent.”
“Did he apologize for ruining our first date?” I joked lightly.
Henry chuckled. “No he didn’t.”
I snorted at his answer. “How rude of him.”
Henry then started to pack up the picnic and whenever I tried to help, he would refuse. I smiled to myself as I watched him pick up the stray cheese cubes which had been thrown around by the both of us. “How are you bringing this home?” I asked.
Henry gave me a crooked grin which made my heart skip a beat. “I asked Keith to set up the picnic and bring it back.”
Keith and Henry? They were getting along? Wow.
As we headed over to his motorbike, Henry added, “He helped me cook you know.”
I raised any eyebrow. “Really? Why did you go to him?”
“He’s a good friend of yours and I … want to know your friends,” Henry explained. “Wait … now I look like a stalker.”
I wrapped my arms around his waist after I hopped on the bike. “Don’t worry peanut, I get what you mean.”
I seriously felt like screaming into a pillow because of Henry’s cuteness.
* * *
When we arrived at the hotel, I was busy with my thoughts, my thoughts on Henry to be exact. He had changed so much and I was pretty sure it was because of me. He had trusted me with his secret about his father, he had put effort into our date, learned to cook for me, made friends with Keith because he was my own friend and so many other things.
And I used to think he was king of the jerks.
As Henry pressed the elevator buttons, I realised how thoughtful he was and how caring he was. I couldn’t stand it – I pulled him to me and kissed him. He froze and then finally responded slowly by pushing me against the wall of the lift. Our gentle kiss turned humid and we were both suddenly hungry for more kisses. I pulled lightly on his hair which made his arms tighten around me. I think he liked that. Suddenly, his lips left mine and travelled slowly down my neck. Oh my god, I think we were slowly losing control. I had to stop before things went too far, especially since we were in a lift.
So I pulled back and found myself short of breath. I found myself staring at Henry smiling at me and I couldn’t help but blurt out the words, “I love you too.”
The doors of the lift then opened and Henry was still standing there in shock. I guess he really hadn’t expected that. Finally, he grinned so wide I was afraid his face might split and took my hand to lead me out of the lift. He seemed to be shining with happiness.
We didn’t say anything on the walk to Steve’s hotel room because we understood each other now. When he knocked on the door, it opened immediately, revealing my distressed uncle.
“Come in guys.” He sounded grim and now I was afraid. What was he going to tell us? Had he changed his mind about my relationship with Henry? The three of us sat down on the couch and I fidgeted with the hem of my top as I waited for Steve to say something. Finally, he did.