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It took her all night to fall asleep. It wasn’t until the break of dawn when she found a good spot in her sheets to cuddle in, and finally nodded off. Her dream were all in tangents and blurred so she couldn’t make out what had happened but she remembered waking in and out of dream after dream. When she finally woke up, and when she felt the sting of waking up, she knew everything was real. She took another breathe and tossed and turned to her side.
“Joe?” she mumbled.
He had settled next to her in bed, with his arm around her waist, sleeping like a baby. His body was flailed all over the place yet his face was soft and peaceful. He snored though, quite loudly too, but she smiled at that. She tried to wake him up with a finger tapping at his nose, but he just crinkled it a little and continued to sleep.
Cute, she thought.
He didn’t stir once. It wasn’t until she looked around when she noticed the room was completely dark by now and a small hallway light lit the interior of the room. She tried getting up, but her body plopped right back down and her head started spinning. The movement inadvertently woke him up.
“…hey…” he groggily said, sporting a barely conscious half smile. “You’re up.”
“Yeah,” she sighed, nuzzling into her pillow.
Crinkling his nose, Joe took his hand that was around her and patted her side, “Stop sleeping. You’ve been sleeping this whole day. When I got here, you almost kicked me in the face! Get up, it’s time for you to eat something.”
“When did you get here?” she asked. “How’d you get in?”
“Forgot to give you back your keys when I opened the door for you last night,” He muttered half-consciously, as he supported his head on his hand. “I just got here a few hours ago and saw you sleeping. I figured you slept late because the pills I left for you yesterday are still on your nightstand. I couldn’t sleep well last night, either, so when I saw you sleeping, I jumped in bed. Hope that’s all right?”
He gave another pat to her hip and she felt a sharp pain. It felt like she had fallen on it or something had hit her there, but she couldn’t remember how she got the pain. Did it happen yesterday?
“Ow, not so hard!” she yelped.
“Your bum still hurts?” he asked.
“Yeah, but what happened. I don’t remember getting hit. What time is it?” she asked. She looked at the clock on her nightstand. “Oh geez! How is it 6:00pm already! I hate daylight savings! I want my day back.”
Brushing her hair out of her face, Joe sighed, “Let’s eat. I have some food on the counter outside.” He got up swiftly, but she pouted and raised her arms up high.
“Little help, please,” she whined, wiggling her fingers towards him.
He laughed. Pulling her out of bed proved to be quite a challenge when she started to drag on the floor and couldn’t stop giggling. Joe had to let her go when she wrapped herself into a ball and laughed till her sides hurts. He was starting to get annoyed until he decided to poke her sides until she reached the door.
“Okay, okay,” she laughed when she got up on her own. She grabbed the door knob and opened the door with her weight pushing it. She could smell the noodles and the chicken broth simmering in the air. “Soup?’
“I figured that’s all you could probably eat,” Joe shrugged. “If you had picked up your phone I could have gotten you something else.”
She scratched her head once more. “Soup is good,” she slurred, still in a half-conscious daze.
As Joe served the soup, Ariel walked over to the counter in small strides. He looked over at her face, which was drooping into the table, and patted her head with the end of the ladle. With a cringe, she shot her head up fast.
“You hit a sore spot!” she whined.
Worried, Joe turned off the stove and walked over to her to examine her bruises. “Does it hurt here?” he asked, touching a spot on her head.
“…a little,” she winced. “Can you see a bruise?”
“With all this hair, I can barely see your scalp,” he retorted. “Maybe I should shave a bald spot on your head.”
“Is this funny?” she scathed. “Is my pain funny to you?”
“Okay! Sorry,” he laughed. “It doesn’t look bad, but if it hurts that much why don’t you sit on the sofa? Maybe that’s why you’ve been so sleepy.”
Ariel’s eyes widened. “I’ve heard about head injuries! What if this bruise, isn’t a bruise at all! Maybe I need to go to the hospital?”
“I think you’re overreacting,” he scoffed, bringing the bowls of soup with him to the couch. “You hit your head on the door yesterday when I was trying to get you to bed. I didn’t think it was such a terrible fall, but I guess it was.”
“And you didn’t tell me??” she cried, walking over to the sofa and plopping down next to him.
Joe sighed and chuckled a bit. “It was kind of embarrassing, I didn’t think you’d want to be reminded of it.”
“So what, did you bump my head when you carried me?” she asked. “Or did I do it myself?”
He gave her a look and questioned, “You really don’t remember anything?”
“Look at my eyes!” she screamed. “I’m not faking this!”
Joe let his chin rest on the palm of his hand and just stared at her in disbelief. She was obviously too scatter-brained to remember anything right now and it was written all over her face. He began to giggle and soon enough a full on chuckle escaped his mouth.
“W-what is that? Why are you laughing?” she asked, whole-heartedly confused.
“So you really did forget something,” he began with the cheekiest smile she had ever seen on his face. “Repeat after me: I forgot something…”
She looked at him with a furrowed brow. “I…forgot something.”
“Now say it like you mean it,” he chuckled, with that same hand over his mouth.
“I forgot something,” she repeated. “I, forgot something….I forgot something. I don’t get it. Am I supposed to remember something from doing this? I don’t remember what I forgot!”
He had enough of her; if she couldn’t remember something so important to their relationship, he was going to remind her. Yesterday, he finally knew what he meant to her and now it was his turn to take the next step. Giving a finally scoff, he shook his head lightly at the anticipation that quickly rose in his body and kissed her.
“You forgot how much you like me,” he repeated, lowly enough to mock what she did to him yesterday.
Her eyes were already in shock, but when the memory flooded back, she clasped her hands on her mouth and screamed. With her mind exploding into pieces, Joe held back a full on cackle. Proudly, he looked at her horrified expression with ease and content.
“So,” he asked, with a teasing smile. She peered over at him with her hands still over her mouth. “Did you mean it or was it a drunk rambling?”
“Drunk rambling, drunk rambling!” she hurriedly answered, hoping to save herself from more humiliation.
“Oh,” he said, keeping up a strong front. He picked up his soup and began to eat. “I knew it.”
She kept her hands on her mouth till her heart stopped palpitating so hard and when her breathe relaxed. Joe turned on the TV and kept his composure, quietly eating his soup. He looked untouched by it all, as if it had nothing to do with him. He had just kissed her and she had rejected him, again. How could he be so relaxed? Was he used to it by now?
He turned to look at her. “Something wrong?”
She shook her head and grabbed her soup. He resumed eating and watching TV, and she looked at him. She did like him, but why couldn’t she say it? Taking the bowl to her lips, she slurped up the liquid and pulled back when she burned her lips. Joe saw it and laughed. She placed the bowl back on the table and so did he.
“Why do you keep looking at me?” he nervously asked.
“No reason,” she quickly answered.
Why couldn’t she do it? Why couldn’t she say what she wanted to say? She had the right mind set, she just didn’t have the words. She hid them well, her feelings, till yesterday and now she had to cover for her mistakes. Her cheeks were turning red while she tried to search for something to say. But she kept her hair in front of her face until she grabbed more soup and ate the entire bowl full.
“I’m going to get more soup, you want some more?” he asked as he looked at her face now filled with liquid pouring from her lips. “You worry me.”
Wiping her face with her sleeves, Ariel embarrassingly blushed at him. “Sorry.”
“Don’t wipe with your sleeves!” he scolded. Grabbing a tissue or two, he took her face and began wiping.
He was gentle and smiled the entire time. When he was done, he pinched her cheeks and she could feel it grow even redder. She patted the area and rubbed it so hard, her face stretched a little. He looked at her, and couldn’t help but grab her face and rub it, playfully.
“You are so cute,” he gushed as he patted her cheeks. “You know how much I like you, right?”
How could he do this? How could he say something like that even if he thought she didn’t reciprocate his feelings? There was either something really wrong with him, or there was something very arrogant. it was as if he knew something she didn’t.
“I know,” she muttered as she stared at his half-smile.
“Then…” he began, as he lowered his head towards hers once again. “I want you to know something.”
“What?” she asked, with her eyes wide open.
“You’re my best friend,” he revealed, planting a kiss on her cheek.
Her head spun and she felt light headed when he told her. She didn’t know how this happened but it just spat out of her like vomit. It couldn’t have been contained any longer after he kissed her and sent her into a frenzy. As he got up and collected the dishes to wash, Ariel said it.
“I love you.”
Joe almost dropped the bowls, when he retracted back towards her .”What?!”
Ariel was just as surprised as he was, and she wasn’t about to say it again. “What?”
“What…what did you just say?” he asked, scurrying back to the sofa just as she got up and headed toward the kitchen. “Wait, hold up! What did you just say?”
“Nothing, I didn’t say anything,” she denied, frantically seeking for a place to hide.
Blocking her way to the kitchen, Joe took hold of her and asked, “Did you say that you loved me?”
“…No!” she cringed.
He took a harsh breathe and repeated, “You said you loved me.”
“No I didn’t!” she outright denied.
“Yes you did,” Joe’s smile was widening and Ariel was trying to regroup her thoughts. “You love me!”
“No I don’t!” she screamed, but it was too late, Joe was ecstatic and ready to throw his worries out the window.
“You love me!” he said one last time before he took her by the small of her back and pulled her in forward for a kiss. “I gotta tell someone.”
When he went for another kiss, Ariel was about to say something, but he was too fast and had already lifted her into bear hug.”W-wait…” she called out.
“Oh, Ariel,” he said, amidst his haste. “I never thought you’d say it.”
“Put me down!” she quickly scolded. This love fest wasn’t going to end, was it, she thought.
He dropped her to her feet and placed his hands firmly on her face. “You have no idea how happy I am.”
“Oh, I might have a thought,” she sarcastically quipped.
He gave a chuckle before he caressed her face with his hands. “I love you.”
When she heard it, Ariel couldn’t help but cave. His touch felt good on her skin so she couldn’t help but smile at his content demeanor. Even though she didn’t want to reveal it just yet, she was glad she said it first. The least she could do for him, was to say it first and now when he looked so happy, she knew giving in to him was the right thing to do. She sighed and gently kissed him, letting him know that their relationship was now as real as his feelings for her were and visa versa.
“I love you too,” she whispered to him, and then scathed, “But I am NEVER drinking again.”
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