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“I’ll get it!” Kris called out as she heard the door bell ring suddenly. “Superman!” she called out excitedly. “You’re here! Mommy says I can’t come with you guys on your date. Say it ain’t so!?”
“Sorry kid,” he shrugged lightly. “
“But, I thought we could go together,” she moped, giving him her most endearing pout. “I promise I’ll be good. I’ll make things more fun. How much fun are you two going to have together, seriously? NONE!”
Shaking his head back and forth with a deep frown on his brow and a small hint of laughter on his lips, Joe reached under Kris’ arm and lifted her onto his hip. For such a young little girl, she sure did know what not to say in the most inappropriate time with such accuracy.
“How about I go on a date with you sometime?” he smirked as he poked his nose against hers. “We’ll go anywhere you want.”
“What about mommy?” she asked bluntly. “Can she come too?”
“Well I haven’t had a parent accompany me on date since I was 13,” he thought out loud.
“So…yes?” she smiled back in anticipation.
“Have you ever been on a date, Kris?” he asked cautiously, hoping for one answer and one answer only.
“No, but it sounds unhappy,” she winced. “Mom’s going nuts about it.”
“Oh really?” he amusingly said, holding back a chuckle.
“I think it’s because the PTA meeting is today too,” Kris abruptly mentioned. “So you guys are going to the PTA meeting for your date?”
Just as she asked the question, Ariel appeared out of her room and in front of them in some old baggy jeans, a t-shirt and a dingy blue sweater. “So I guess you heard,” Ariel tried to make light of the situation by smiling slightly. “I’m so sorry, I know I should have called you but this was extremely last minute. I completely forgot about the meeting before I made plans with you.”
“Oh,” Joe only nodded back. “It’s alright.”
After waiting seven years, what’s one more day, he thought. He felt the extra weight from carrying Kris finally tighten as his body grew tense at the sudden loss of opportunity.
“This might sound very selfish and rude, but can you actually stay and babysit Kris for me tonight? It’ll only take a few hours,” she shyly asked, with her hands gripping with nerves. “The normal babysitter couldn’t make it, because it was so late-
“Uh…sure. No problem,” he quickly remarked.
“Really?” Ariel suddenly burst into a real smile for the first time tonight. “Oh thank you. I owe you.”
Rushing out of the door, Ariel grabbed her coat and her house keys after giving a hug and kiss to Kris. And just like that, it was just Kris and Joe all by their lonesome, listening to the sudden noise of crickets.
“I guess our date has started, no?” Kris lightly added.
Perhaps his luck hasn’t run out on him after all. Sure he lost a date with Ariel but gained something just as good: some time with his adorable daughter who could only make the night burst into a thousand miniature bombs in the most respectable and loving way. He just didn’t know what exactly he was going to do with her. But Kris being Kris, she knew exactly what to do…
Meanwhile, Ariel was in a frantic mess when she entered the PTA meeting. Parents were already arguing over the new developments of the up and coming talent show. Teachers were already neck deep in complaints. Others were just sitting back, in utter boredom thinking why on earth they had kids in the first place.
“Oh… this is going to be Hell,” she continued to whimper to herself.
“W-What are you doing here?” called out a sudden voice from behind, as Ariel’s pounding headache came rushing in.
“Huh?” she said as she turned around. “Oh, Ella, it’s you. I’m sorry I’m late; it took forever to get here.”
“I thought you were going on a date?” Ella cautiously asked, with worry written all across her face. “You told me how excited you were about it a couple hours ago.”
“I completely forgot about the meeting,” Ariel frowned, exhaling deeply. “I had to cancel. He’s babysitting for me tonight instead.”
“Are you out of your damn mind?!” Ella quickly responded harshly.
“It’s not that big of a deal” Ariel nonchalantly answered. “Joe knows I have to take care of these things…”
“That’s crap, Ariel,” Ella barked.
Ariel continued to defend her stance. “The education my daughter is receiving is very important to me and I’m a very dedicated mother. So I’ll appreciate it if you don’t criticize my morals. And you call yourself a teacher huh?”
“Wait a minute. Don’t tell me cancelled on him last minute just so you can bail out on him for this?” Ella pressed on.
“No one really cares about this stuff except the crazy ones. What are you, scared? Are you scared to date him?”
“I’m not scared!” Ariel grunted. “I just…wanted to…well???”
“Oh please!” Ella cursed in vain. “When’s the last time you’ve been on a real date?”
“Hey I’ve been on a couple dates!” Ariel answered defensively.
Getting a bit riled up, Ella started counting her fingers. “A field trip is not a date, a picnic with your daughter is not a date, a PTA meeting with all the single fathers is not a date, and a trip to the grocery with Old man Abe to pick up some parsley is not a date. How many do you have now?”
“…one,” Ariel cringed.
“And that was…” Ella stroked her hands forwards hoping to bring out Ariel’s answer.
“The one I just cancelled!” Ariel cried out loud, feeling more than just a bit foolish about her decision. “But you can’t blame me for that, no one wants me.”
“Joe wants you,” Ella stated the threat with the calmness of a rabid bull. “So if you don’t go on this date, I will slap you.”
After that, Ariel had no other choice but to comply. At times, Ella can be a very sweet woman, but both Ariel and Kris have seen the ugly side of hers. Trust them when they say it isn’t very pretty. Back at home however, Kris had just begun to wreak havoc on her new prey. He didn’t even see it coming when she had already tied him up to a chair and blindfolded him. In her defense, he really should have known better. Her twisted version of cops and robbers turned out to be a bit tougher for Joe to handle.
“Okay, Kris, I don’t want to play anymore,” he nervously waited for an answer. “I’m serious; this is freaking me out. This is cruel and unusual punishment and I thought I was the cop!”
“I thought you were Superman,” she quipped, smirking so proudly. “Get out yourself, hero.”
“I don’t want to hurt you, dear, I’m blindfolded,” he warned.
“Do it, do it, do it,” she cheered him on, hoping to see him dissemble the chair right before her eyes.
Giving one large sigh, Joe relaxed his shoulders and pulled on the knot that Kris had tied in back of him like the amateur she was. The only response he saw on her face when he took off the blindfold was a sneer so great, he couldn’t help but laugh.
“That’s not cool,” she spat.
“Well no one ever thought being smart was very cool,” he smirked as he glared at her. “Now where is that pesky little robber…”
“No!” she yelped as he grabbed at her sides and tickled her mercilessly.
Picking her up, Joe flung her tiny body playfully from one end of the room to the next, letting her laughs echo throughout the apartment. He then dropped her lightly on the couch and collapsed next to her.
“Again, again!” she continued to scream in excitement. “I wanna fly again!”
“Oh, geez…” he sighed. “This girl’s on pep pills…”
As Joe had only begun to feel the wrath of Kris Lin, Ariel was beginning to feel the pain pummeling her legs as she ran back to her apartment. She thought that her own determination and stamina could beat the speed of any vehicle. She was wrong. By the time she reached her apartment, someone looked like he wasn’t in the mood to go out anymore. The apartment was dead silent and only the humming of the TV from the living room could be heard as she entered the room.
Turning her head over to the couch, Ariel could see the two sleeping beauties resting their bodies together, holding onto each other as if they thrived in the other’s warmth and snoring softly in each other’s embrace. Taking yet another disappointed sigh Ariel walks over to Joe who was sleeping on his side, cuddling her precious daughter. It was a delightful and adorable sight if Kris were not tied and bounded with string though.
Gently tapping on Joe’s arm, Ariel tried to get him to wake up. “Joe? Can you hear me?”
Lifting his tired eyelids, he squints at the sudden voice and sees Ariel’s charming smile upon him. Now that he hasn’t seen in the longest time. Oh how he longed for that smile back into his life.
“Hey,” he whispered. “You’re back. What time is it?”
“It’s 9:30,” she whispered back. “You still up for that date?”
“Hmm?” he drowsily asked. “Mmm, mmhmm…I’ll take Kris back to her room.”
“She tired you out?” Ariel joked heartedly. “Does that explain the bindings?”
Lifting Kris into his arms, Joe only nodded in response as Kris curled into his chest and dug a small space for her head to fit. For the first time, Ariel saw Kris hold another so genuinely. Other than Ariel, Kris had never eased up to a grown up so quickly and yet she was holding onto Joe as he carried her as if she knew him her whole life. There was something there that hauntingly scared Ariel. An odd shiver went down her spine as the sight of her daughter being carried into her room by Joe lingered in her thoughts.
“Are you okay?” Joe yawned as he entered back into the living room.
“Hmm? Oh, I’m fine,” she shook off the remains of her thoughts. “I’ll go get changed and we’ll head out.”
“Don’t have to,” he nudged his head over to the kitchen. “Dinner’s ready.”
“You cooked dinner for me? Was that your whole idea in the first place?” she cheekily asked. “Wasting my food…”
“Well you didn’t really leave me any choice, did you, when you left me in charge of Kris?” he dryly remarked.
Oh that’s right, Ariel thought as she mentally slapped her forehead. Wincing at her own embarrassment she spoke. “Again, I am so sorry.”
“I accept your apology, but it’d be icing on the cake if you finally had dinner with me,” he smirked as he held out his hand gracefully for her.
“One second, let me change out of these rags,” she groaned lightly at her appearance.
“You look fine,” he shrugged heedlessly.
“Oh yeah,” she chuckled sarcastically. “I look like I’m ready to paint the town red in this garb.”
“You always look amazing,” he casually said with no hint of mockery.
Taken aback by such blunt praise, Ariel looked down at her wooden floors to stop her face from blushing bright red in front of Joe. The way he said it was as if he knew her for the longest time, but in her eyes they’ve only officially met a couple times. How can someone be as straightforward as Joe and not want something more than just a date?
“So do you say that to all the girls you cook dinner for?” she probed with a smirk.
“No, just you,” he again answered with the same amount of casualty as before. “So?”
She thought for a brief second, the path that she was taking tonight. For such a small date as this was, she was at least happy that she could cope with the change. If she were to have a formal date, she’d break into pieces. After years of being so lost and confused, Ariel had no place in her heart for another. Not before she places herself there first. But just for tonight, perhaps he could enter…if not for a moment.
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