Engaged – Part 3
When I open the door, I find Phun leaning on the frame in a black tee shirt with a black button down and black slacks. His hair is parted and combed back showing off his gorgeous eyes. Damn him for looking so handsome when he’s planning to destroy my heart. For half a second I worry about my own appearance and glance down at what I’m wearing. A half second because that’s all Phun gives me before his hand grabs the collar of my jacket and pulls me towards him. I don’t even have a chance for a startled yelp as his lips land firmly on mine for a scorching, quick kiss.
“You really should warn me before if you’re going to look this good.” His eyes half-lidded, Phun whispers roughly into my ear. “When you opened the door, I almost jumped you and dragged you to your room.”
“You’re such a fucking horndog.” I shove him back a little as a shiver runs down me at his words. Being dragged to bed sounds more than a little tempting, so my hand lingers longer than necessary on his chest. That low voice of his has a way of melting me, making me forget the reason why I should be upset. Giving myself a mental shake, I drop my hand and step around him to close the door behind me. “You’re the one that told me to dress nice.”
“I’m glad I did!” Winking, he wraps his arms around my waist for a quick hug. He pulls away with a smile and nods toward the elevator. “Ready to go? I made a reservation.”
“A reservation?” My eyes widen in surprise and I quickly try to remember if there is an anniversary or birthday or something that I missed, but there’s nothing. Then my heart sinks as I recall the news from earlier. A last meal should be something amazing, plus he probably thinks I won’t make a big fuss at somewhere fancy.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had a proper date so I want to spoil you a little.” The elevator dings and the doors open. One of my older neighbors steps out and greets us as they walk by. We step in and Phun pushes the button for the lobby. The ride down is quiet with just the creaking and whirling of the elevator as it descends. Another ding and the doors open to the lobby where we step out.
Leaving the building, the sidewalks are busy with people going home, going to eat, or going where ever they need. Phun leads the way into the crowd, leaving me to try to keep up. I see him look back at me with worry as he’s swept away.
My breath stops and my mind snaps as the distance between us widens. Phun cannot disappear. He can’t leave me. I won’t let him. This is NOT going to happen. My steps quicken and I weave desperately through the people until I’m by his side again. My panicking heart doesn’t calm down until my hand grabs his and I lace our fingers tightly together. I don’t care if there are a thousand people staring at us right now. I am not letting him go. Taking a deep breath, I raise my eyes to look at him. “Don’t leave me behind.”
Phun’s eyes widen and his mouth opens as if to say something, but it shuts quickly as he looks around at the crowd of people around us. He looks down at our connected hands and then back to my face. His face softens and a wide grin appears, his hand giving mine a squeeze. “Never.”
We walk together hand in hand to the parking garage at the end of the block where Phun had left his car. He pushes the button on his key fob to unlock the door and tries to open my door for me… again. He never gives up on these gentlemanly gestures no matter how many times I tell him to give it a rest. I’m not a freaking girl that he has to do this shit for. I can open my own door, thank you very much! Pushing him towards the driver’s side of the car, I roll my eyes at him but he just laughs making me shake my head.
“So, where are we going?” I ask after we buckle ourselves in and he starts the engine.
“It’s a surprise.” Grinning, he drives us out of the garage and onto the street. After a few minutes, his hand finds mine and pulls it over to sit under his on the gear shift. I don’t complain. Our future is looking so bleak to me that I need to store up all the sweet moments I can get to help get me through. My chest tightens and I look at the scenery out the window to keep from embarrassing myself by crying uncontrollably, not that I notice anything. The view is a blur a buildings and people and trees, my eyes not taking in any of it.
“Phun, where the hell are you taking us?” It’s been so long. We left the city behind ages ago. Since I haven’t been watching where we are going, I don’t even know what direction we’ve been driving. “You’re not kidnapping me, are you? I have to meet with my group tomorrow morning about our project and the band has a gig in the evening. You are not allowed to kidnap me.”
“Oh, who said anything about kidnapping you? I’m just taking you to get something to eat.” A sneaky sly look comes over his face and he looks at me out of the corner of his eyes. “But, now that you mention it, kidnapping you does sound fun.”
“Phun!” Jerking my hand away, I smack him on the head.
“Hey, I’m driving here!” Phun swats away my hand before I can smack him again. “I was only teasing. I have to be at the school early tomorrow so we won’t be out all night… this time.”
“Get your mind out of your pants.” Folding my arms in front of me, I glare at him. “I’m starving to death over here. Are we going to be eating soon?”
“My mind wasn’t in my pants.” Phun says in a silky voice. The voice that I can never trust because it’s usually him justifying himself for being a total pervert and this time is no different. He settles his hand on my knee and slowly slides it up. “It was in yours and it’s your fault for looking so fucking delicious.”
“Damn it, Phun! You’re still driving! Keep your eyes on the road!” I can feel a blush heating up my ears and burning my cheeks, but I don’t move his hand. Instead, I set my hand on top of his and hold it in place on my mid-thigh, letting his warmth seep through to my skin.
Phun doesn’t say anything, content to leave our hands where they are as he returns his complete focus to the road. Out the window, I notice a wide expanse of sandy beach with deep blue water reaching out to the horizon. Pulling into a parking area, Phun parks in an open spot and kills the engine. I know this place. I know this beach. Looking at Phun’s grinning face, I know where we are going.
It’s been a long time since we were here but it hasn’t changed at all. It still looks the same as the first time Phun and I ran away to here. It’s a bittersweet memory for both of us, filled with longing and tears and a whole lot of love that we didn’t fully understand. Getting out of the car, Phun grabs my hand and pulls me toward the same beachside restaurant. This place still has the same low tables with mats on the sand to sit on. The little stage is still set up with what looks to be the same exact band playing a slow song. The breeze off the water is still salty with a hint of a musky smell. The only difference is that the place is covered in colorful flowers and fairy lights that twinkle against the dark sky with candles everywhere creating a soft glow. There’s a few people sitting at the tables enjoying their drinks and food while admiring the decorations.
“They’ve really decorated the place since the last time we were here.” Entranced by it all, I don’t even realize we are still holding hands until Phun tugs me over to an empty table with a clean white table cloth covering it. “It looks amazing.”
Phun sits down and pulls me down with him without saying a word. On the table in front of me is a single red rose. I look around thinking maybe it’s part of the décor of the place but our table is the only one. Picking it up, Phun hands it to me. My free hand automatically takes it but I’m not sure what to think. Its deep floral scent tickles my nose. As beautiful as it is, flowers aren’t something we usually give to each other. It’s sweet and romantic and, if I’m honest, makes me melt the tiniest bit… but it’s still weird.
“Welcome.” A pretty waitress stops at our table and drops off two mixed drinks and a plate of grilled chicken to snack on. She gives me a friendly smile so I smile back. “I will bring the rest of your dinner over in a little bit. Enjoy.”
“Thank you.” Phun gives her a suspicious look and sets our linked hands on the table between us. The waitress’s eyes widen in surprise and she hurries away.
“Jealous much?” Smirking, I set the rose on the table and pull the plate of food closer. The realization dawns on me as I stare at the rose that was waiting and the food that we didn’t order. I think my heart is about to jump out of my chest. Seriously, what is going on? I thought he was breaking up with me but this is a lot of effort for someone who is going to say goodbye. Is it okay for me to have some hope? I don’t want us to end. This isn’t like a last meal, is it?
“If people would stop falling for my boyfriend all the time, I might not be so jealous.” Grumbling, Phun picks up the glass and takes a long swallow of the liquid courage inside. “Do you have to smile at everyone like that?”
“Like you have any room to talk.” Letting go of his hand, I cross my arms and glare at him. I’m not the one engaged to someone else. I’m not the one trying to soften the blow of a breakup with food and flowers and looking so handsome it makes me want to scream. “You don’t even have to smile and everyone drools when they see you.”
“That’s because I’m hot…” He leans closer and whispers in my ear, “but the only one I see is you.”
“That is so fucking cheesy!” I groan but I know that my face is blushing so I shove him away.
“Maybe but you love it.” Winking, he sits back in his spot as the waitress delivers the rest of the food with the help of another server.
“Just let me know if you need anything else.” Her smile is a little less friendly this time as she eyes Phun warily. “I’ll be right over there.”
Our table is piled high with food, more than we could possibly eat. I think Phun ordered everything on the menu plus whatever is being served at the next restaurant over. Everything looks and smells delicious and normally I would already be digging in, but all I can do is stare at it. It’s really beginning to feel like a last meal. This is way over-the-top, even for Phun, without having any kind of occasion that we’re celebrating. Is this really how we are going to end?
Phun busies himself with loading up my plate with a bit of everything. As usual, his favorite hobby is feeding me. It’s really amazing that I’m not shaped like a ball by now.
“Here, Noh-baby. Try this.” He spoons up some food and holds it in front of my mouth. “I promise you’ll love it.”
Looking at the excitement in his eyes, I have to open my mouth and let him feed me. I’m sure the food is great but I can’t taste a thing. I swallow whatever it is and nod my head to make him happy. Grinning, he turns to fill up his own plate.
I study this person sitting next to me. Every feature, every expression, every centimeter of him I know better than I know my own skin. I know what he looks like when he’s so happy his face almost splits in two from smiling, when he’s so mad he could spit fire, and when his heart hurts so much that tears stream seamlessly down his face.
This person’s handsome face is something I took for granted that I would see for the rest of my life. I’ve never really thought about us in the future until now. Our present has had so many ups and downs since that first day he asked me to be his fake boyfriend that I didn’t have a chance to think too far ahead about us. In the beginning, I thought it would be okay if I could just be by his side as a friend. Now, I want to laugh at my own stupidity. Watching from the sidelines as Phun smiles at someone else, marries someone else, starts a family with someone else, lives his life with someone other than me… that pain is torturing me with just the thought.
The heavy ache in my chest brings tears to my eyes but I refuse to let them fall. I look away from Phun before he notices and concentrate on eating the food piled on my plate. It’s not that I’m hungry but it gives me something to do instead of staring like a lovesick idiot at the jerk to my left. Before I know it, most of the food has disappeared into our stomachs. Shocking, really, considering the amount we started with. I didn’t know we could eat that much between us, even with the bottomless pit that is Phun.
Wiping his mouth, Phun excuses himself and stands up to walk away. At first, I thought he just needs to hit the toilet but that’s not the direction he walks in. Instead, he goes toward the small wooden stage where the band has been playing and talks with the guys who just finished a set. Phun shakes hands with one and steps up to join them. Grabbing an acoustic guitar and a stool, he sits down in front of the mic in the middle of the stage.
What the hell is this fool doing?? I’m the musician, not him. Outside of some off-key singing I’ve heard him do in the shower or to the radio, I haven’t seen him do something like this since Friday College. Phun is not a natural singer, but I have to admit that his singing is a bit addictive. The more you listen to him, the more you want to hear… or maybe that’s just me.
Phun clears his throat and adjusts the guitar on his lap. He does a couple practice chords before nodding over to a member of the band who is also holding a guitar. Without saying anything, he starts strumming with the other guy joining in and my heart hits the floor along with my jaw. A flood of memories hit me hard when he sings the familiar lyrics and the tears I held back earlier sneak out of my eyes, blurring his image for a moment until I wipe them away.
I’m glad to have you –English translation of lyrics
in the world that has confusion in the world that everyone must struggle and where one is confused, restless and extremely tired in the world that has suffering that discourages it can pass by slowly until at times you do not know how to get through it but life, pass, can meet, find cause me to turn around and imagine I’m glad to have you I’m glad to meet you you are the only will that I have regardless of time and space I’m glad to have you, even if we must meet anything and I know and that warms my heart that in a way will be having you here in difficulty that are many in apprehension that is chaotic and in future at present and past in fact that must meet but life, pass, can meet, find cause me to turn around and imagine I’m glad to have you I’m glad to meet you you are the only will that I have regardless of time and space I’m glad to have you, even if we must meet anything but I know and that warms my heart that in a way will be having you here but life, pass, can meet, find cause me to turn around and imagine I’m glad to have you I’m glad to meet you you are the only will that I have regardless of time and space I’m happy to have you even if there’s no one but I know and that warms my heart that in a way will be having you here I also know and that warms my heart that in that way will have you stay with me
The song fades away and the audience claps appreciatively, which makes me realize how full this place has gotten since we arrived. Every table is packed with people and more have gathered around the outskirts as Phun was singing. He must have been practicing like crazy because he sounded even better than the first time I heard him sing this.
Glancing around, I find a very familiar face in the crowd. Nong Pang is grinning crazily at me from the table directly behind me, actually it’s two tables that have been pushed together. Turning so I’m sitting sideways to the table, my eyes widen as I realize who else is at that table. Pop, Pang’s boyfriend, is sitting next to her with Phun’s parents on her other side. Beside them are my parents. All of them are staring back at me with happy smiles and it’s creeping me out a bit. What the fuck is going on?! When did they get here? Why are they here??
As I’m about to say something, a touch on my shoulder has me turning to look over at Phun who sits down by me again with his body also sideways so he can face me. He looks over at our families and gives a respectful wai which reminds me of my own manners that I had forgotten in the shock of seeing everyone. (Yes, I really do have them.) I also wai to our parents in greeting, my head full of confusion.
Are our parents here to witness our breakup to make sure it happens so Phun can marry whatever proper young lady they have picked out for him? That would be too messed up. My parents accepted us a long time ago and I know they think of Phun as another son. I’m pretty sure Ma loves him more than she loves me. She’s always bragging about his good grades and what a good man he’s growing into. They wouldn’t come to watch my suffering. I’m beginning to think I’m stuck in some kind of weird ass dream. Any minute now I’m going to wake up to my phone going off in my dark room… then I’ll have go through this all over again in real life… fuck!
Quietly, Phun pulls a small black box with silver swirls down the sides out of his pocket. This catches my attention and I stare at it curiously, my angst temporarily forgotten. When he opens it towards me, my jaw drops for the second time tonight. Nestled inside are two polished platinum rings with small diamonds embedded in a simple geometric design.
The moment stretches out and I can feel each thud of my heartbeat. The salty sea breeze tussles Phun’s locks of hair softly as his whole face glows with excitement and happiness. In all my life, I’ve never seen anyone more handsome or felt more loved. It’s there in his eyes for all the world to see. I can’t believe that I doubted us, even for a second. A smile spreads across my face as I stare at the person I love most. The only person Phun would ever in this life (or any other) get engaged to is me. I am an idiot.
Phun leans over and hands the rings to his parents who nod in approval before handing the box over to my parents. Pa and Ma both give their approval, as well, then hand the box back to Phun. This is why they are here. Knowing my Phun, he wants to do this the proper way with both of our families in attendance. It’s to share this precious memory and our happiness with them and to receive their blessings for our future.
Wait! With this setup, does that make me the WIFE?! Phun has taken the role of the bridegroom so what the hell am I supposed to be? The bride?! No fucking way!
Taking the rings out of the box, Phun picks up my left hand and slips one of them onto my ring finger. I have no clue how he knows what size ring I wear and I’m not sure I want to find out. The ring feels smooth and cool against my skin and a little heavier than it looks. He holds out the other ring to me. Taking it, I notice a small inscription on the inside. Phun’s name with two linked hearts then my name. Damn this sentimental, sweet bastard. My hand shakes a little as I try to carefully put the ring on Phun’s finger but it won’t budge.
“Noh, that’s the wrong finger. You need to put it on my ring finger.” Phun’s soft whisper ends in a short laugh.
Damn him for being right, too. I swiftly move one finger over and push it in place. Looking up, I scrunch up my face and stick out my tongue.
“Aren’t you supposed to ask me to marry you before putting the ring on my finger?” It’s the truth. In all of this, not once has Phun said a word about marriage. If I have to be the fucking bride, he better at least play the part of the groom correctly.
“You started it.” Phun says in his most reasonable voice, as if that explains everything.
“Me?” How did this suddenly land at my feet? I don’t remember ever asking him to marry me. Pretty sure I would remember if I had.
“Yes, you.” Taking out his phone, he quickly brings up his FB page. Is this really the time to be updating your status? We are kinda in the middle of something here! He hands the phone to me and points at a spot on the screen. “See? Right there. You changed my status to ‘Engaged.’ Since you are the only person I would ever marry, I happily accept your proposal.”
“Proposal? My proposal?” Dumbfounded, I stare at the small black letters that clearly spell out the word ‘Engaged.’ It takes me a second, but then I remember changing his status the other day to get even with him for changing mine. Never would I have imagined that it would lead us to this. Since I’m the one that apparently asked, does that make me the groom now?
“Your proposal.” Taking the phone out of my limp fingers, he logs out and logs into my account. As I watch, he changes my own status to ‘Engaged’ and then turns off the phone. “Now, you officially belong to me and I belong to you.”
With a smile that almost breaks his face, Phun leans over and lands a quick kiss on my cheek, his soft lips lingering against my skin and I get a whiff of his woodsy cologne. Our families both clap happily which startles us and makes us turn to look at them. I completely forgot they were here and a heavy blush heats up my face. To keep with the somewhat traditional engagement ceremony, Phun and I give a formal bow all the way to the ground to our parents with our hands together in front of us.
Sitting up, it all finally hits me fully as the crowd claps around us. I’m engaged to Phun. Formally engaged in front of our parents and everything. It’s not a future bride and groom. It’s Noh and Phun. Who cares who asked who and who bought the rings? It doesn’t matter as long as it’s the two of us together. There is absolutely no more hiding, no worrying about them accepting us. We can be together forever. Overwhelmed, my heart nearly bursting, I grab Phun by the collar and pull his face close to mine.
“I love you.” Phun’s eyes get impossibly wide and I close the distance between us, kissing him full on the lips. It’s an extremely chaste kiss by our standards and doesn’t last long (our families are watching, after all), but it is a kiss that neither of us will ever forget. Pulling back, I wrap my arms around him and hug him tight. I must have really shocked Phun because, when I sit back in my spot, he’s still leaning towards me with his eyes wide.
“P’Phun, I think your next line is ‘I love you, too.” Pang’s less than quiet whisper to her older brother snaps Phun out of his daze and has everyone laughing. “Don’t leave my brother-in-law hanging.”
“Thanks, Pang. We all know who your favorite is.” Phun rolls his eyes at his adored little sister before looking back at me. Picking up my hand, he laces our fingers together and raises them to his lips where he places a soft kiss on my newly acquired ring. “Thank you for loving me, for being brave enough to stay with me, for giving the rest of your days to me. I will spend the rest of mine making sure you never regret it and loving you with every breath. I love you, my Noh.”
Damn, his cheesiness knows no bounds and I hate that I fall for it every time. My stupid heart is a puddle of goo even though my brain is cringing at his words. Oh, fuck it all. It’s our engagement. It’s not like it happens every day. For this one time, because it’s Phun, because it’s us… I lean over and kiss the ring on his hand that is still laced with mine and held up between us.
“I’m reserving you for this lifetime and into the next.” Phun’s eyes fill with laughter at the memory my words conjure up. This bastard isn’t the only one that remembers every second we’ve been together. They are my memories, too.
“You’re not going to let me rest in peace?”
“There’s no way I’m letting you go.”