“Our ride should be here.” Tom was fishing for a confirmation. He’d called David, their driver for the night, to ask him to be in front of the restaurant when they walked out. Tom had opened Valentina’s door once. It shouldn’t have to go any different now.
Another annoying fact about blindness: driving was, well, impossible. Not that he had ever driven before. When he was old enough to drive, his sight was already too deteriorated to get a permit. However, at moments like these, he would’ve sure loved to be able to take his date wherever he wanted without having to rely on others. And he’d be damned if he was going to let Valentina do all the driving on their first date. The most reliable and comfortable solution? A transportation service.
“Yeah, it’s here.”
Valentina moved forward pulling him with her.
“Please, Valentina,” Tom almost pleaded, as he tugged her backwards. Valentina stayed frozen in her spot, evidently interpreting correctly what he was trying to convey with those two words.
By the sound of the motor running and the smell of the exhaust fumes, Tom knew the car was near. He outstretched his arm and slowly stepped forward until his hand touched the cold material the car was made of. He moved his hand upwards expecting to feel the glass of the window, which thankfully he did. Then he spread his arms in opposite directions to figure out if he was at the front or back door.
Backdoor. Lucky bastard!
After that, finding the handle was smoother. Smoother than the first time he tried to do it, anyway.
He suspected that in Valentina’s eyes, he probably looked odd fumbling to simply find a door handle, but he had promised himself that he would be the perfect gentleman during the evening. The least he could do was open the door for her, even if it took ages to find the goddamn handle. Besides, if he was lucky enough for her to stick around, she’d have plenty of these moments to witness in the future, so she’d better see it from the start.
Once they were both sitting comfortably squeezed together inside the car, David asked, “Where should I take you next?”
“The Hobby Center.” A small impish smile spread on Tom’s face.
“The theater?” Valentina asked surprised.
“What are we going to see?”
He could feel her slightly bouncing up and down on the seat.
Tom drew his wallet out of his pants and searched with his fingers among the pockets until he found the two tickets, which he handed to Valentina.
“The Sound of Music?”
Tom nodded again and shrugged with an unsure smile. Valentina once had told him that she loved that musical. Though that was years ago, and he wasn’t even sure if she had been serious. Judging by the excitement she was radiating, he could tell that he had made the right choice.
“I love it, Tom! I’ve never seen it live. How did you know?”
“You told me. Remember that time in Mexico? I was crossing my fingers hoping that you weren’t kidding.” He laughed nervously.
“Of course I wasn’t. I really love musicals,” Valentina said, in that signature sweet dorky tone of hers.
Stepping into the hall, Tom could feel the great expanse, he didn’t have to see it to know that it was massive. The vastness the place he had just entered, mixed with the obtrusive murmur of hundreds of people speaking at once, caused a sudden onset of discomfort course through his body. His heart began pounding faster with the realization that it would be nearly impossible for him to find his way around that huge and noisy place.
Back at the restaurant he had told himself that he would trust Valentina to be his sighted guide, which hadn’t been hard at all. She did seem to know what she was doing. She had been in that position many times before, and even though his sight was better back then, he still felt secure being led by her. What was really bothering him, was the fact that he needed it. That he couldn’t navigate by himself in there to save his life. How could this possibly be the perfect date for her, when she had the tedious task of hauling him around the whole night?
To groaned inwardly.
You’re doing it again.
He was propelling himself down that path of self-consciousness. He convinced himself to prevent those troubling thoughts from creeping into his head, to enjoy the show and the company of the wonderful girl that, yes, was hauling his ass around, but seemed pleased to do so.
Unconsciously gripping her arm a little tighter, Tom nodded to reassure himself. Valentina seemed to take his demeanor as cue to move forward, as she started weaving their way down the aisle that led to their seats.
“Are you alright?” she asked in concern.
“Yeah, of course.”
“Then, could you loosen up your grip just a bit? I bruise easily.”
“Oh, sorry!” He let go of her arm. “I’m so sorry, Valentina. This place is really crowded. I get a sort of… uneasy. Sorry.”
“Hey,” She said in a soothing tone, grabbing his hand and placing it over her forearm, lacing their arms together. “I was joking, you’re not hurting me.”
Without letting him grace her with another apology, she added, “Our seats are here. To the right.” She took them a few steps to the right, and halted. “Here.” Valentina took Tom’s hand and placed it on the back of his seat. “They’re so close to the stage. The actors might even sweat all over us. How exciting!” she said laughing, as they sat down. Tom couldn’t help but chuckle at Valentina’s adorableness.
“Just relax and enjoy,” She whispered in his ear after they were seated, then leaned closer to place a gentle peck on his cheek.
It was the first time Tom had attended a musical play. He had been to the theater before, but with his limited vision, to say it was unsatisfactory would be putting it mildly. He had found himself oblivious to what was happening on stage, so he’d left the theater feeling that it had been a waste of time and money. Consequently, he had classified theater as one of those things that were unappealing to him, and that he would never, ever, try again if he could help it.
And yet, there he was. Front row. About to treat himself with two hours of music and dialog that would probably make no sense to him. All to please her. If Valentina liked musical theater, then he’d enjoy musical theater. He’d hand her the moon if that would make her happy.
To his surprise, Tom certainly enjoyed the play. He couldn’t say much about the acting, but the orchestra and vocals were exceptional. However, what he enjoyed the most was Valentina’s adorably dorky way of singing every song in an almost inaudible low tone, which she apparently didn’t know he was able to hear.
And even though her warm breath on his ear was risking an embarrassing hard on, he loved that when there were no songs to sing, Valentina whispered in his ear all the actors’ actions on stage.
As Tom and Valentina were seated close together on the back seat of the car, now on their way back to Valentina’s apartment, he estimated that even with David’s presence, he could finally act on what was really filling his mind. It seemed like a good enough moment.
Draping an arm around Valentina’s shoulders, Tom gently pulled her closer to him. She leaned down until her head was resting on his shoulder, so a tiny kiss on her forehead seemed to be the best approach. He then moved his face lower and placed another tiny peck on her cheek. His free hand naturally drifted up her arm, until his fingers brushed her chin, which he tenderly pushed up so they could be face to face. Closing the gap, Tom found slightly parted warm lips that tasted vaguely like strawberry, eagerly waiting for his. He wouldn’t dare to not comply.
The steamy make out session lasted few minutes before the car came to a halt, bringing them back to reality.
“Okay,” Tom breathed deeply to cool down and hopefully manage to free the pressure that had tightened his jeans. “It appears like we got over the awkwardness.”
“It appears so.” Valentina giggled. “Walk me to my apartment?”
“Yes, I need to make sure you get to your home safely.”
Once standing at her door, Valentina had suggestively asked Tom to come inside for a drink. He willingly accepted her proposal. Heck! He had been praying that she’d invite him in.
After calling David and letting him know that he was done for the night, Tom made his way to the small couch (that seemed more like a love seat. Thank you universe!) Valentina had in her living room, thankful that Valentina’s apartment was so small that it only took him literally four steps to get there after Valentina’s had told him in which direction to walk.
No fumbling. Score!
“Would you like something to drink?” Valentina asked.
Tom was now trying to make himself comfortable on the couch, barely able to manage so. The anticipation over what might happen once she placed her luscious buttocks beside him on that couch, was too much to bear.
“Whatever you’re having,” he gathered to say.
Tom heard Valentina’s footsteps approaching, and then the thud of two glasses being placed on the coffee table. Sitting up straighter, he lifted his face to flash her the most calm grin he could muster, in an attempt to seem unfazed by the impending events that would hopefully take place on that couch.
“Thank you for tonight, Tom. The play was amazing. I always wanted to see it live. The singing…” She sighed as she sat down, leaving nothing but the fabric of his jeans to keep their skin apart. Too much space, if you asked him.
“I can’t believe you remembered that I like it! What a great memory.”
“Well, it goes with the territory. When you’re blind a good memory is key to not screw up every five seconds.” Tom released a nervous chuckle. “Besides, it’s very easy for me to remember things about you.”
“Is that so?” she asked playfully.
“When’s my birthday?” Valentina asked suddenly, as if to catch him in his lie.
“November twenty-fifth,” he said smugly. “That was easy. Throw me a difficult one.”
“What’s my mom’s name?”
“Anna. And your dad’s Jake. And your sister’s Sofia but you call her Mad for some reason you never told me.”
Tom continued. “Your favorite food is Colombian, although you like all kinds of food. Actually, I never met a girl that could eat a rock if you fed it to her.”
“Very funny!” she said in mock anger. “But true.”
“Oh! Your favorite subject in school was computer programming.”
“That’s the most accurate thing you’ve said so far.”
“I know! What’s not to love about sitting in front of a computer all day writing undecipherable commands?”
Tom went on with the challenge. “You don’t like to watch TV and you only watch movies in a movie theater. And… what you love most in the world is to tease me.”
Valentina giggled. “All right, show off. I think you proved your point.”
After a short silence, Tom added, “I could be way off, I guess. These are all things you told me years ago. I’m sure you’ve changed. I definitely have.”
“It doesn’t seem like it. You’re the same fun guy I met in college.” Valentina moved closer to him and leaned backwards, letting half her back rest against his torso as well as the back of her head fall against his shoulder.
A combination of exquisite scents engulfed Tom’s sense of smell, prompting him to take a deep breath so he could discern each one. Coconut flowing from her hair, a mixture of flowers and fruit from her neck, and Valentina’s own alluring scent emanating from her body.
Tom embraced her, placing his left hand over hers, which was resting over her stomach. “I’ve changed, just not too much. You’ll just have to spend more time with the new and improved me and you’ll notice.” There was sarcasm and a hint of sadness in his words.
“I’m very much looking forward to it.” She turned her face and kissed him on his chin, which made his lips tug upwards in a small smile.
They sat like that for a few moments and then, as if to change the subject, she said, “Now that you’ve mentioned change, physically, you’ve changed a lot. You look very different. I’d have to say, very improved. Not that you looked bad before, but now, you’re just really, really, really handsome.”
Tom’m lips curled into a coy smile as his face began to heat up.
Valentina slightly turned her face, probably to look at him. “You’re blushing!” she said amused.
“Well, I don’t hear that very often.” The soft chuckle he let out helped him relax some more.
Ever since Valentina showed up a little over a month ago at Sutton & Pardini’s offices, he wished to know how she looked. How much she had changed. He knew it didn’t matter. He’s was blind for one thing. People’s appearance were not precisely his expertise. And it was rare for him to even care what people looked like theses days. Not to mention that Valentina could be the most hideous creature that ever walked on earth, and he’d love her just the same. But this was one of the most attractive girls he had ever met, at least the most attractive to him. So yes, he wanted to know what she looked like now.
Curiosity won, and he took the perfect opportunity to let the question slide right into the conversation. “What about you? Have you changed much? Physically?”
“I don’t think so, my ass is still huge,” she said nonchalantly.
Tom had to laugh. Another thing he loved about this girl. She could make as much fun of herself as she made of him. The honest talk he was sharing with Valentina, was proving to be the most fun he’d had in a while.
“My hair is shorter,” she continued. “But that’s about it.” She took his hand and placed it over her head so he could feel her hair.
Tom raked his fingers through her soft hair holding the ends with the tips of his fingers, restraining himself from deeply inhaling its scent all over again.
Let’s keep the creep factor at its lowest, shall we?
“You let it loose. I remember you used to wear it up all the time.”
“It’s a special occasion, I fixed it a little so I could look nice for you.”
“Um, Valentina. You do realize I can’t see you. You could be wearing a dead cat as a hat, and the only reason I’d notice is because of the foul smell.”
Valentina laughed. “That’s why I’m telling you that I look hoooot,” she said in between giggles. “And it’s good that there’s no one around to say otherwise. You’ll just have to take my word for it.”
“I believe you. You always look spectacular.”
“No I don’t. But I don’t mind letting you think that I do.”
And I’m not the only one that thinks so.
Tom was reminded that Ben just wouldn’t let him forget how hot Valentina was. But Tom made sure he knew about their date tonight.
Oh yeah! That made him shut the fuck up.
Even though Dar’s description of Ben’s convoluted face when he learned about Valentina and Tom’s date left him extremely pleased, Tom wished he could have seen it with his own eyes. But he had to take what he could get, and he had to admit that he had gotten a good laugh out of it.
Valentina giggled but didn’t say anything else. Tom was curious to know what she thought about Ben. That would wash away any doubts he had regarding the matter. Though maybe, that should be a topic for another occasion, he wouldn’t spoil their perfect date by bringing up the irking subject.
“Personality wise, though.” He paused feigning deep concentration, as he continued where they left off. “I’d say you’re still the same sweet dorky girl as before. But I gotta hand it to you Valentina, you’re a lot bolder. And I’m glad, ’cause otherwise, we wouldn’t be here. I’m just a wimp who wouldn’t collect the courage to ask you out.”
“You’re not a wimp,” she said in a pouty voice, “And I’m not as bold as you think. It’s just that I realized that I still had feelings for you and I had to do something about it.”
“I always assumed that I was alone with my big ol’ crush.”
Not good dude. Drop it. This conversation is moving in the wrong direction.
Tom felt like telling her to forget about it. Valentina had never been very open to talk about these sentimental things, and neither was he. They should keep this exchange nice and pleasant… Only that it was already too late.
Much to Tom’s chagrin, Valentina had already sat up, distancing herself from him, and leaving Tom with what felt like some kind of hollowness. As if a part of him had been yanked away too soon. In the short time her body had been pressed against his, it came to feel like it belong there. Like it blended perfectly with his.
She scooted a few inches away and turned around, probably to face him.
After drawing in a shaky breath, she murmured, “Tom. When I told you… texted you… God, what a loser.”
Tom chortled, taking advantage of her humorous remark to unload some tension.
“I remember what I wrote,” she continued, “I said I wasn’t ready for a relationship and I wasn’t lying. I used to be such an insecure little brat. Sometimes I still am. So, yeah, I wasn’t ready. But that doesn’t mean that didn’t love you. I did, and I still do.”
Trying to find her gaze with his hesitant eyes, Tom reached out with both hands and found her arms. He let his hands slide down their length until his hands met hers. Even if he didn’t like the answer, he had to know.
“Are you ready now?” he asked, brows furrowed in doubt, but hope dripping through his words nonetheless.
“You have no idea,” she answered, not even a second later. “This. Us. We’re amazing together. I’m not going anywhere and I hope that neither are you.”
Tom wanted to believe her. In fact, he did. He knew that she firmly believed what she was claiming. And yet, he also knew that she could change her mind at any moment and walk away. Regardless, there was no other option for him than to live with that fear, as he knew by now that there was no fooling himself anymore. Valentina had him wrapped around her finger. She could toss him around and drag him along the floor all she wanted, and he’d still love her. Four years of undying love had undoubtedly proved that.
“Sorry Valentina but that’s just the silliest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Probably surprised by the turn Tom gave to the heartfelt talk, Valentina was rendered speechless for a moment.
Finally able to speak, she said, “Did you just call me silly?”
“Yes, ’cause you are.”
“Don’t you know by now that even if I wanted I wouldn’t be able to stay away from you? As long as you’ll have me, I’m sticking around. I’ve been dreaming about this for far too long.” He breathed in trying to find a way to say the next part without a wavering voice. “I love you so much, Valentina, losing you again would just…” Tom couldn’t finish, emotions getting the best of him.
“Then you’re stuck with me. You can be sure of that,” she assured him, her voice breaking a little.
“Nothing would make me happier.”
A hint of a smile crossed Tom lips as he opened his arms so she could fit her frame right in-between. “Come here.”
He felt Valentina lifting herself from the seat, placing one knee right beside his left thigh and the other one on the exact opposite position, straddling him. She moved closer and pressed her lips against his, parting them with her tongue, arms wrapped around his neck in a tight embrace. He slid his hands to her back, pulling her body even closer to him, and kissed her with fervor as the heat of the moment increased.
Ending the long warm kiss, Valentina lifted her head, and before she could say a word, Tom leaned closer to grace her face with several small pecks in any spot his lips wished to land.
Chuckling playfully, Valentina whispered close to his ear, “You know? I’m thinking of a few things we could do that would make you… us… very happy. But we should probably go to my room. We don’t want María coming home to find us doing happy things here.” She stood up and tugged his hands upwards in a “follow me” gesture.
With a wide devilish grin plastered on his face, Tom asked, “What about our drinks?”
Tom laughed as Valentina eagerly dragged him all the way to her room.