I regret asking Ryan who’s coming honestly because he appears to be genuinely happy to receive this new roommate of his. His smile almost blinds me. He refuses to tell me further about this person despite my effort in trying to dig it out of him. I give up when I realise that he won’t tell me anything more about this person.
Upon cleaning his bedroom, I now realise that he is a mess because this room is in a similar condition to the living room. The floor is fully covered with his laundry that even he doesn’t know if they are clean or not. I end up telling him to go wash his clothes so we can dry them since the sun is still out.
As he does that, I try to make sure to throw away the receipts scattered on the ground while putting away papers that appear to have important documents on them. It doesn’t take long before Ryan comes back to help and starts sorting out his documents on his desk.
“Why do you let the mess accumulate?”
Ryan glances at me and flashes his annoying grin. “Like I said, I only come here to sleep.”
“Then why is there so much trash?”
“Because I also drink at night but have no time to clean it in the morning.”
“Don’t you think that’s unhealthy?”
He pauses for a moment to stare at me before walking towards me. I subconsciously step backwards until I reach the wall. He places one hand to trap me as the other side is blocked by his wardrobe.
He then raises his brow with his signature smirk and I know immediately that he’s just messing with me. I slap his chest but he catches it.
I look at him weird because I don’t know what play he’s acting out now, “What are you-”
“That's why I need you here so that you can watch over me and not let me drink too much or leave the house messy.” His voice is low and almost comes out as a whisper.
I can feel the heat on my cheeks. It’s happening often now and I can feel my heart flutter. I quickly push him away and say, “Your roommate can take care of you instead.” before running away to place the trash bag along with the others.
He doesn’t chase after me but I can hear his amused laughter. I rub my ear because it feels uncomfortable as if the sound of his husky voice still rings by my ear. I proceed to ignore him until the house is clean enough to receive guests.
However, by the time we are done with everything, it is already late.
Coincidentally, the food that Ryan ordered earlier has arrived about the same time I proudly stand and look around the newly clean spaces.
“Come on. Let’s eat.” Ryan takes out the food containers from the plastic bags and grabs some plates for us to use.
I join him at the dinner table and realise that I’m famished. I salivate quietly as I watch Ryan transfer the spaghetti carbonara from the paper container into the plate and pass it to me. I wait until he finishes doing the same for himself.
The two of us don't talk while we eat and I probably don’t hear anything he says because the food tastes so good that I am simply enjoying myself.
When we are done, Ryan rejects my offer to wash the dishes and forces me to go rest. I try to convince him to let me do it but then Ryan says,
“It’s fine. I can do it. Plus, we’re going to pick up my person tomorrow.”
“I’m coming along?” A hint of dissatisfaction grows inside me.
“Of course you are. How else are you going to take care of me, right?”
“You can take care of yourself,” I retort back.
“Then why did you come here? If you’re not here to take care of me then are you here to accompany me in the bedroom?” He wiggles his brow and makes a perverted look.
I shake my head as I hold back my laugh seeing his silly face, “Yeah right. I’ve seen your room and I’m not interested.”
“But surely you’re interested in me, right?”
I stare at him unblinking because I can’t believe he can say these words without feeling embarrassed. I roll my eyes and walk away to my temporary bedroom knowing that he will continue if I keep responding to him.
Before I close the door, I hear him say, “Don’t you forget about tomorrow.”
“Ugh, Fine.” I try to slam the door but apparently, it can’t so I’m feeling frustrated and try to at least make a loud sound by pushing it close. Sadly, it barely makes much difference when you close the door like a regular person.
Well, that dampens my mood.
After shaking my head to clear my thoughts, I look around the bare room with only my things stacked at the edge of the bed. I decide to slowly unpack everything to make it feel more liveable since it feels weird to stay in a room with no decoration.
Strange how people adapted to their surroundings so easily. I used to live in a room much worse than this and was just thankful for having a roof over my head. Now, I start to ask for more or else I won’t be able to sleep.
Unpacking my things proved to be useful because now the room feels like it has a life in it and I can feel like myself. I lay on the bed staring at the ceiling while wondering why I feel happier here than in my room back home.
The room is neither small nor big yet it gives me a sense of security that my own big room is sometimes unable to provide. It might be the fact that I’ve been through so much and the nightmares only establish an unsafe space for me each time I wake up. It seems that I don’t consider myself a hundred per cent safe when sleeping in my own large bedroom.
Here, I know Ryan is just outside the door.
His signature smirk flashes in my eyes and I catch myself smiling. I frown before grabbing my towel and dashing into the bathroom, trying to escape my spiralling thoughts.
Surprisingly, the bathroom is not bare as I assumed it would be but instead, it is fully equipped with everything I need in a bathroom. There is a new toothbrush and toothpaste placed in a cup by the mirror and next to the familiar brand of face wash. The shampoo and shower on the shelves are also familiar brands and right down to its scent.
I would think that I brought my entire bathroom essentials if it wasn’t for the fact that before I came, Ryan said he will take care of it. He requests I bring my clothes and my personal belonging but not the bathroom essentials. I was sceptical at first but upon seeing the bathroom for the first time, he really did keep his words.
I’m starting to wonder if coming here is the right choice for me to make because I’m starting to feel conscious of his presence. Knowing that he’s been in the bathroom that I’m using and even my bedroom makes me feel conflicted.
I don’t have a word for these feelings but all I know is that I’m starting to realise that the idea of him being just next door is making me feel comfortable. Furthermore, the idea of him being the safest place that I can be is making me oddly anxious.
I do my best to brush it off and go straight to bed after drying my hair with my towel. I don’t really use the hairdryer since I find that the heat is making my head uncomfortable and a waste when you can just use a towel to dry your hair.
I don’t even style my hair but Ryan even included some hair products for me to use. These are available in my bathroom as well but I don’t touch them. The person that likes using them isn’t me.
I believe using it for special occasions should be enough since I don’t always need to shove my forehead at people.
The morning comes not long after and I realise I had fallen asleep unknowingly. I rise from the bed with a momentary confusion as I look around at the familiar yet unfamiliar scene before realising that I’m at Ryan’s place.
I haul myself off the bed and into the shower right away to freshen up because I don’t want to let Ryan see my messy self.
It’s not long before I smell the suspicious scent of delicious food while drying my hair with the towel. My pace quickens as I get dressed before walking out of the room only to find Ryan behind the counter wearing an apron.
He notices me and turns around only to find me staring at him sceptically as my feet are taking a step back. He smiles and calls out to me,
“Good morning. Have a seat. Breakfast is almost ready,” He then turns around before taking out the fried egg from the pan and places it onto a plate.
I walk slowly with a guarded look at this “stranger” in front of me. I pull out the dining chair and continue to stare. Ryan realises that and starts laughing aloud making me baffled by the sudden unwarrant reaction.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” He asks in between his laughter as he wipes his eyes.
“Who are you and what have you done to Ryan?!” I blurt out.
This makes him laugh so much that he can barely stand up. I watch him trying his best to hold back his laughter with a hand wrap around his stomach. He finally slows down and only lets out a small chuckle once in a while as he takes off his apron and hooks it up next to the fridge.
“I haven’t laughed as much as I have today,” He says as he grabs the plates and serves it.
“Is it so weird to see me in the kitchen?” He cocks his eyebrows with a mirthful smirk.
“I never saw you as the type that knows how to cook,” I honestly respond.
“I learnt to cook when I was younger.” His eyes rest on the food with a soft melancholic look before gesturing to me to eat.
I pick up the fork and ask, “Who taught you?”
“Kaitlyn did…” His voice comes out as a whisper but enough for me to hear.
“Mrs. Roberts taught you when you were younger?”
He nods at my question with a gentle smile. He appears to think of her fondly.
“She used to babysit me and I kinda grew up with her.” The way he speaks of her with that smile makes me feel happy yet sad.
“I’m sorry for your loss.” I don’t know what else to say.
He shakes his head before picking up his fork and starts picking his eggs, “You don’t have to be sorry. I know she’s in a better place now.”
A brief silence other than the clanking of the fork onto the plate fills the air. Ryan seems to be in his thoughts and that gentle smile hasn’t faded away so I quietly eat my own food.
It’s not long before he suddenly perks up and says, “Anyway, we should go out after this since you’ve already showered. I thought I would get to see your bed hair but I suppose one step at a time, huh?” His last sentence makes me feel good about showering before coming out of my room.
I roll my eyes at him and reply with “Whatever.” unamusingly.
He chuckles before going back to his food and we end up finishing it not too long afterwards.
I tell him that I will wash the dishes since he cooked for breakfast and already washed it yesterday. He wants to take it away from me but I insist. He knows that I’m not going to back down this time around so he goes straight to his bedroom after holding his hand up to surrender.
We go straight to the parking lot of the apartment complex when I’m done with the dishes. It’s only in the car that I realise that he put on cologne.
I turn to look at him suspiciously again but he only glances at me and raises a brow before turning away to start the car. I watch as he drives the car away from the parking lot before realising that he actually made an effort to look good this time around.
His hair is neatly combed with a polo shirt on. Everything about him today screams ‘proper’ and that is not something I’m used to seeing.
I open my mouth to ask but hold back because I realise he is trying his best to impress his new roommate! My stomach starts to churn and I start to frown at the thought of this ‘special person’ of his.
I fidget in my seat and tug at my collar.
“What’s wrong?” Ryan obviously notices.
I shake my head and brush it off. “It’s nothing. It’s a little hot today.”
Ryan lowers the temperature of the A/C and turns it up for me. I mumble “thanks” and stare out of the window in order to not look at him. My brows are furrowed tight but I can’t stop myself from feeling this way.
The drive is a little long and the road is familiar. I slowly realise that we are about to reach a place that also reminds me of something I forgot to do.
The car pulls up and the signboard of “White Orchid Orphanage” starts to grow bigger. I stare in horror as I remember that I haven’t called Sam at all during the time I rested.
“Are you okay?” Ryan asks.
I shake my head before honestly telling him that I forgot to call Sam. He only laughs at that and says Sam is around.
“How do you know?”
“Why wouldn’t I?” He tosses another question as an answer to which ultimately doesn’t answer anything yet makes some sort of sense.
The two of us get out of the car and the moment I see Sam at a distance, I rush to him to apologise.
Sam stops me from continuing, “I didn’t contact you because I know you needed to rest so it’s fine. Don’t worry about it and I’ll have you know that your plans are going smoothly thanks to your father funding us. You should thank him instead.”
I nod with gratitude for him not berating me. It’s great that Sam is such an understanding mentor that I slowly calm down.
I look around the area and notice that Ryan didn’t follow me. Instead, he is away from us and talking to Sally. He has the widest smile on his face as he talks to her and I can feel a pang in my heart.
It can’t be that Sally is his ‘special person’. My mind goes back to the recording when we first visited and suddenly my heart feels uncomfortable. I rub my chest subtly and ignores it when Sam invites me to approach them together.
We approach them with my heart beating louder and louder upon each step. Their conversation also appears to have ended by the time we get close so I ultimately didn’t hear anything.
Ryan turns to me with that blinding bright smile. Sam pats Ryan's shoulders and nods at him while Sally also joins in with a knowing smile before walking away.
“What’s going on?” I ask since everyone including Sam appears to understand the situation except for me.
“I want you to know that everything is official.” His words further increase the confusion in me.
“What’s official?” I ask.
Sally’s voice comes from behind me as she says, “Here, greet your new family.”
I turn around and notice Aiden hiding behind Sally’s leg and staring at Ryan curiously.
Ryan crouches down and opens his arms wide. Aiden takes a few steps forward before stopping. Sally pats his back and whispers, “It’s okay.”
Aiden twists his shirt before slowly walking into Ryan’s embrace. Immediately, Ryan lifts him up into a big hug and turns to me.
“What… is going on?” My eyes are darting back and forth to look at the four people around me.
“I have officially adopted Aiden,” Ryan replies.
I blink a few times in disbelief.
“So… That ‘special someone’...” I trail off.
Ryan nods and in that moment, I feel like I want to bury my face into the dirt. I act on impulse and run away from the scene.
I hear Ryan scream, “Wait!”
I continue running without looking back and finally stop in front of the Wolf statue that Sally showed us previously while panting. I hear someone approaching and turn to see Ryan stopping a few distances away.
“What's wrong? I thought you would be happy for me.” Ryan brows are furrowed.
I shake my head and reply in between breaths, “No. I’m happy for you. I don’t know why I-.”
Ryan approaches me until the distance between us is only about a finger gap.
“Are you okay?” He asks in concern.
I nod while trying to calm my breathing, “Yeah, I am. I- I don’t know what came over me.”
His eyes fall on mine and only the sound of our breathing can be heard. He is about to say something but a loud rustling disrupts the moment. The two of us turn our heads almost at the same time.
It is a this point, we both see a silhouette of a man walking out of the forest.