Morning greets me the next day and I smile but then I frown. I mean, if my answer lies on Leon from the start then what purpose did I have to go to the warehouse. I wonder if the trip was wasted because people only got hurt instead.
However, if I hadn’t gone there, maybe I wouldn’t meet Leon and he wouldn’t know who I am. Then, I might not have found out what he knows at all since Mama can’t tell me.
My phone rings before my mind spiral further down.
“Good morning, sayang1term of endearment.”
“You keep calling me that but what does it mean?”
Ryan chuckles, “Wouldn’t you want to know?”
“I do. Tell me. What is it?”
“I will be out of the hospital after they keep me under observation for two more days.” Ryan’s change of topic catches my interest.
“Are you sure you’re fine?”
“Who knows? Maybe I need someone to take care of me.”
“You should probably stay with someone then.”
“But I can’t sleep if it isn’t my own bed.”
“Then is there someone that can stay with you while you recover?”
“There is if he says ok.”
“Oh, who is it?” My mind goes to Eric who seems to be the only one that can easily brush off Ryan’s attitude.
I freeze as I stare at nothing in particular.
“Come over and take care of me,” He pleads while I start to feel the heat on my cheeks.
“I… I don’t know if my parents would agree,” I quietly say while feeling complex.
“Leave them to me.” He responds so quickly making me feel like he plans this already.
“Are you sure they will let you because my father found out about yesterday,” I don’t know how he can convince them since he is the main perpetrator that got me involved in the whole thing in the first place.
“So, they’ve informed him. I see. It’s not a big deal. Uncle Mac has a weakness.”
His words make me feel curious. “What is it?”
Ryan laughs and brushes it off. He then proceed to ask about other things that happened while he was incapacitated. I explain to him about the vines but he doesn’t remember that part. He only expresses that it became horrifyingly painful after getting in the car.
The last thing he remembers is that he made a promise to me.
This makes me feel embarrassed because that’s the only part he still remembers but I brush it off and ask if he remembers waking up momentarily afterwards. He makes a confused sound.
“You begged me not to push you away,” I try to remind him.
“Really? I said that? Did I do anything else?”
I pretend to accuse him, “Yeah, you tried to molest me.”
“What?!” He sounds honestly surprised. “I did that?! Dang, I wished I remembered,” He continues shamelessly.
“Ugh, bastard.” I reflectively berate him.
“But I’m your bastard,” He playfully responds to me.
I remain unamused, “Since when?”
“Since you have me in your heart,” He smirks.
“Shameless!” I instinctively hang up the phone and toss it away. I bury my face in my pillow. He’s acting like we’re so close when in fact he was actually rude to me at the start.
I wonder when that changed for us. I find it weird that we even reached this point.
‘Aaah, there isn’t any point in thinking this,’ I toss my pillow away before dropping my body onto the comforter.
At lunch, both my parents are around much to my delight.
My mother turns to me while cutting through her meat and casually says, “Ryan told me that he will be out of the hospital soon and he needs someone to take care of him. Everyone else is busy with work so it will be nice if you’re able to accompany him.”
Before I can reply to her, my father starts complaining, “Why send our child to him? The kid almost got our son involved in something dangerous.” He frowns as his brows furrow deep.
Hearing that, my mother puts down her cutlery and stares at him unsmiling, “Don’t you demonize the sweet child Katie raised. Now that she’s gone, there’s no one that cares enough about him. The least we could do is let out son takes care of him.”
I vaguely remember that Katie was Mrs Roberts who was buried recently after passing away from cancer. She was Ryan’s nanny but I don’t remember much of what my mother said in the car since there were so many other things that happened to me on that day.
“He’s an adult. He can take care of himself,” My father still refuses to give his approval.
This time my mother starts glaring at him, “Oh, so you’re saying our son doesn’t need our attention anymore once he turns 18, hmm?” The threat in her voice is obvious to all those that hear her.
My father gulps and sweat starts forming on his forehead as he is now under the scrutiny of my mother. I can’t help but snicker quietly seeing him scared for the first time.
He doesn’t notice because his focus is entirely on my mother. “You know I don’t mean that.”
“Since you don’t mean it that way, then Luke will take care of Ryan.” She smiles triumphantly.
My father knows he can’t talk back so he opted to grumble to himself. I can’t hear him well but he stops when my mother asks him to repeat himself like a teacher catching her student saying a bad word. He sulkily cuts his meat and eats it while giving his wife the sad puppy eyes. My mother ignores him and happily finishes her food.
Now I know if I ever need my father to be on my side, I need to make sure that my mother is on mine first. That way, both of them will support me. I happily finish my food.
Lunch ends without any other events than the small talks that I have with my mother. My father then disappears into his study room after knowing that his wife won’t give him the time of day despite the sad look he keeps sending her way.
Meanwhile, I accompany my mother to take a walk around the garden since she wants to digest her food before sitting down.
“I hear you telling people to call you Evan now,” She starts speaking as we pass the hydrangea bushes.
I try to read her facial expression but she appears neutral as her eyes gaze on the blooming flowers all around us.
“I felt like it wasn’t me,” I quietly explain.
My mother stops in front of one of the bushes.
“Before you were born, we couldn’t decide on your name. It was on the day of your birth that we decided to name you ‘Luke Evan’ because it signifies what you are to us,” Her fingers start to caress the petals of the beautifully bloomed hydrangea.
“I know that not everyone can love their own name but I want you to know that on the day you were born, you became the light of our life and we were so grateful to have you. I just hope that when you feel lost, you can say your name and find your path again.” As her gaze moves away from the flower and lays on me, a soft smile slowly forms on her lips.
Hearing that, tears start falling again and my mother pulls me into her embrace.
“I’m sorry,” My voice comes out as a whisper as I start to feel guilty after knowing that the name I have now was thought carefully before it was chosen. Yet, I dismiss it because I didn’t feel like it was me.
“You have nothing to be sorry about. Just know that you will always be my child even when you are all grown up.”
I nod and tell her “I love you,” to which she replies back while wiping my tears away, “I love you too.”
We walk back to the entrance of our home while holding hands since she tells me that she worries that she will trip and fall. It feels weird to hold someone's hand but I don’t want to let go. I know that she only makes the excuse so that I won’t say no.
When we reach inside the house, I see my father holding a paper in his hand. Hearing our footsteps, he puts it aside then pouts, “Where have you been?”
My mother immediately goes to sit next to him and start coaxing him. This time, I can’t stop my laughter from coming out so he definitely hears me. He tries to put on a stern face towards me but my mother’s glare makes him changes his expression quickly. He pretends that he hasn’t done anything bad.
“You should go up and rest,” My mother kindly lets me leave.
I notice as I walk away, the two of them are off into their own world, much like that moment Abby and Ian have when they’re together. I smirk as I walk up the stairs.
After rolling around on my bed for a while, I finally remember that I need to contact Sam about the orphanage. Before I can dial his number, my door bursts open and Abby appears.
“Hey, darling. Did ya miss me?”
I toss the phone away before giving her a look. “If you had planned on coming back here again, you should’ve stayed the night. You do remember you have your own room here, right?”
“Well I miss you so I’m here,” She sits on my bed and the spring of the bed makes her bounce lightly.
I give her a suspicious look to which she responds with a confused face, “Is something up? Where have you been?” I poke her waist and she flinches.
She rubs the spot I poke before lifting a corner of her lips. “Nothing. Anyway, how are you feeling?”
“Don’t change the subject. Tell me,” I insist.
“I just went to Ian’s place,” She mumbles before continuing, “So, what’s with you and Ryan?”
I give her my best version of an unamused face, “You’re trying to deflect again. Did you and Ian have a good talk?”
She finally relents and starts telling me the discussion she had with Ian. It did snowball into an argument but of course, Ian is always the first to bow his head and admits defeat. This makes her feel guilty and she starts to explain to him why she chose to just dropped everything and leave.
Abby finally realises that she wants to see the world without him. She feels like they need to take a break from whatever they are at the moment. She wants to grow up without him for once.
“Are you sure about that?”
“Yes. I am. He has always been there for me but sometimes it makes me feel like I’m not enough for him. He was already grown up by the time our family decided to go ahead with the engagement but I’m still a kid.”
“It’s not like you two are too far apart,” I grumble.
“If five years age gap is not a lot then what is?” She questions me before slowly squinting her eyes as she realises something, “Something did happen with you and that impotent man!”
“He’s not impotent!”
“He already ate you up?!” She surprises me when she raises her voice and I unconsciously try to shut her mouth.
“Shh, what are you saying?! He hasn’t done anything to me.” I hastily explain while my hands try to block her lips.
Abby pushes away my hands while staring down at me. “Really?”
I nod seriously but she remains unconvinced, “Of all the people you can have, why him? He puts you in danger and his attitude is just infuriating.” She moans.
“I don’t know.” I honestly have no proper response to it because everything she said is true.
“Oh, well. No sex before you’re a proper adult okay?” She speaks so frankly that it makes me blush instead.
“Of course not!”
She snickers at my response, “Oh, so you do think of him that way.”
I grab a pillow and toss it to her face. “Shut up.”
She throws the pillow back at me and we both end up having a pillow fight.
Finally, we lay on the bed tiredly.
“Soon we’re going to be adulting,” Abby laments.
I sit up on the bed and look at her, “Abby,” I call out.
She turns her body sideways but makes no attempt to get up.
“If I’m not the Luke you know, will you still be my friend?” I ask.
Her eyes grow wide for a moment before she struggles to sit up. She gazes into my eyes and lets the silence permeate. My heart starts beating loudly and I subconsciously hold my breath.
Now it’s my turn for my eyes to go wide. “You know?”
She nods, “Yeah. I mean, I don’t really understand it but I just knew… I thought I was going crazy but… I don’t know. Maybe that’s why I’m not around you so much,” She lowers her eyes before sighing.
“I mean, I do care. You’re my friend. Regardless of who you are and who you will become, we’ll always be friends and I will be there for you. Just like I know you will too.”
I let out a smile, “Thank you. I would explain but I don’t know if I could.”
She shakes her head and tells me, “You don’t have to. I care about you and that is enough for me.”
“I care about you too,” I reply to which she reaches in for a hug.
It’s at this moment I realise how comforting a hug is and I’m grateful that I have received a lot from the people around me. I don’t really like having physical contact but with them, I know I can just let everything go.
She lets go after we hug for a bit then says, “Okay, mushy time is over. I gotta go. I need to pack.”
“You’re leaving again?”
She nods, “Probably not right away but I definitely will since I’ve already sent a few applications to my preferred university. Before I start that, I want to go everywhere that I can while I’m free.” She happily explains.
“Don’t worry. We will always keep in touch and if you dare go MIA on me, I will come back and whoop you! Also, keep me updated with whatever is going on with Ryan,” She swirls her finger around my face and I catch it to put it away.
“Ok, mum. I will,” I reply sarcastically.
She makes a face but doesn’t reply to that and says goodbye in a singsong voice instead. She finally leaves the room after forcing me to wave back at her.
Now that I’m alone, I pick up my phone while trying to remember the thing I want to do before Abby walks into my room. I feel like something is off but I continue browsing away on my phone and stumble on one of the novels recommended by Elaine. I end up spending my time reading it until the end.
On the day of the promise, after packing my bag, my mother stops me by the door.
“When you get there, make sure Ryan is eating properly, okay?”
I nod as a response while glancing at my frowning father.
“Lock your door when you’re about to sleep.” He adds to which my mother smacks him on the side.
“What are you trying to say?”
“That our son is adorable and Ryan is a wolf,” He unrepentantly replies.
My mother doesn’t continue to berate him but turns to fix the collar of my jacket. “No matter what happens, you can always tell me and I will come to pick you up right away.”
It takes a while to convince my mother that I will contact them in case of anything.
On the other hand, my father still doesn’t like the idea of sending me to Ryan’s place. He wants to drive me there but my mother stops him.
In order to stop bloodbaths from happening at Ryan’s apartment, Do-Hyun will be driving me there.
By the time I reach his place, I still have to wait in the lobby for a while before he comes down to take me to his apartment.
“Did you wait long?” He asks with his hair still messy and his shirt put on backwards.
I try to hold back my laughter because he hasn’t noticed it yet.
“What were you doing?”
He scratches his head and says, “Just cleaning.”
He doesn’t explain further and grabs my paper bag before turning to the elevator. He swipes the card and presses his floor.
“How are you doing?” I ask as I look at his side profile. He does appear better but his skin is pale.
“Been better.” Our conversation is cut short because we reach the floor quickly. He heads to his door and unlocks it easily.
I don’t think I have much expectation on seeing the interior of his home but when he opens it, I realise that he is a wreck.
I stiffly turn to him. “You said you were cleaning?”
He refuses to meet my eyes while answering, “I never said I finished.”
I sigh loudly before entering the house.
The house is a mess as far as my eyes can see. There are empty bottles and cans everywhere. The trashcan is full to the brim that nothing can fit anymore but instead of throwing it away, he seems to have ignored that and let the trash that can’t fit accumulates around it.
“I don’t even see whether you have started or not,” I say to him as I look at him suspiciously.
“I started with my bedroom but anyway, help me clean up because I’m picking up someone tomorrow. They’ll be staying with me starting tomorrow,” He trudges through the trash and picks up what he can to collect them in one spot.
“A new roommate?” I am surprised because I thought I will be staying with him for a while to take care of him, so if he’s getting a new roommate, he doesn’t need me here. Also, why is he cleaning up for this person but not me?
“Sort of,” He mumbles before continuing, “Help me. Please? As you can see, I’m not that good at cleaning up quickly.”
“Who told you to accumulate your trash like this?”
He opens his mouth to say something but pauses as he rethinks his words, “I’ve been busy. I mostly used this place for sleeping.”
He walks toward me and stares into my eyes. “Evan, please. Can you help me?” I become aware of his husky voice as our distance has been shortened.
His lips curl mischievously as he leans by my ear, “Please, I need you.”
I impulsively push him away before saying, “Fine. I will. Sheesh.” I look away knowing that my face is red.
He chuckles lightly, “You can put your things in that guest room before coming over to help.”
I comply with his instruction and go straight in because I refuse to give that man a second chance to tease me. I make sure to close the door so I can calm down.
I put my backpack on the bed.
The room is empty with only a simple desk at the side and a wardrobe across the bed. It doesn’t look like anyone stays here but there are no obvious signs of it collecting dust.
It seems Ryan has cleaned this room before I arrived and changed the sheets so I can comfortably sleep here.
I cover my face and take a few deep breaths in order to calm down. I shouldn’t let him get into my head. He can’t always have the upper hand on me.
I finally walk out of the room after feeling like I can now face him without turning red. The first thing I see is Ryan bending his back to pick up the bottles around. He hears me and turns to me.
“Like what you see?” He teases.
“Sure, if there is even anything worth seeing,” I move to help him pick up the trash nonchalantly.
He pauses to flash me a grin. “I can show you in the bedroom.”
I try my best to keep a straight face while staring at him unamusingly. It doesn’t take long before he guffaws aloud and I can’t help but laugh along with him.
Halfway through cleaning the living room and kitchen, I decide to ask him more about his new roommate.
“Who is this new roommate of yours? Do I know them?” I don’t know why but I suddenly feel tightness in my heart. It feels like I’m just here to be his maid...
He smirks while replying, “It’s someone really special to me.”