Back in Santa Barbara - Six


I did not go straight ahead to my bed that evening. I chose to stop by in front of the guest room. There was no light coming from the gap between the door and the floor, but I was sure he was there. Ising said so. I could hear the soft sounds coming from the radio. Was he still awake? It's only nine pm. My head was heavy because of the wine. I wanted more, but Ising refused to give me another. 

I thought long and hard whether it was the right thing to do. Swallowing pride has not always been a strength of mine. But alcohol undoubtedly helped. Now, it seemed as I knew better. I tried to be sensible, weighing the pros and cons. It had taken me a good five minutes before I made up my mind. The hell with pros and cons, I really want to talk to Chris. 
I gathered my remaining energy and knocked into Chris room. “Chris, still awake? Open the doorrr please,” I slurred like a madman. He paved the door before my second knock. I could feel his hesitation of speaking to me. I noticed the messy hair, paired up with a naked body only covered by boxer shorts. 
“What's going on?" He looked confused. A change finally. I am not the one who's confused this time. 
I bit my lips trying to find the right words to say. I figured the first thing should be an apology. “Hey, I’m sorry for the things I have said earlier. I am a messed up. So, messed up. Can you imagine?" He came out of the room, so he was now taller than me. I tried to be less distracted with his wholeness. "I-I don’t have the memory of us being in love, but I do have feelings for you. I just couldn’t say if this is indeed it. I got my heart broken before, and the truth is I am not sure how it feels to be in love anymore. Love is such an enormous word, and I am just a lame human being who have failed a lot in life. Look at me! All I got is this diary, and it says I was so in love with you." I handed him the brown notebook. "I was horrible to you these past weeks, and I don't want to hurt you. I care about you-" 
“Faye, are you drunk?" 
“I am not sure either, but I’m glad I am because otherwise, I won’t have the courage to knock on your door like this. And maybe I will not be able to do this.” 
"Do what?" I wrapped my arms around his neck and stared at his eyes. “Chris, I am not sure if I love you, but I miss you so much.” I stroked his face, my thumb feeling his lips. I pulled his neck towards me until my lips touched his. His lips were wet and soft. Starving. 
“So, you said you miss me?” He stopped kissing me just to comment this. Suddenly, I felt like a predator hungry for its prey. 
“I did miss you. That’s all I know, for now, okay?” 
“You are full of surprises, Felicia." 
“Maybe you don’t know me at all. I can be very persuasive." I forced into his room and pushed him onto the bed. 
“Are you sure you want this?” He asked as I was taking off my blouse. He helped me unbuttoned the last three buttons. 
“I want this now.” He pulled me towards him and started kissing me deep and long. His mouth engulfed mine in a sensual way. When I finally have been able to catch my breath, he continued his journey to my neck and into my breast. He gently laid my back on the bed, switching his position to the top. 
“I don’t think you need my permission for that, Faye. I just hope you won’t regret this tomorrow," he whispered in my right ear. His lips and tongue travelled downwards to my stomach, while his hands tried to find the zipper. When he did, he took off my tight pants, carrying along my undies. God, I was drowning in a multitude of pleasure immersing my body all at once. I wished I am not drunk. I wanted to remember this. He dived into my universe as his fingers intertwined in mine. 
“I won’t regret it,” I whispered almost to myself. If this is the basis of love, I would shout it out to the world. But I did not want to spoil this feeling. Not just yet. 

I felt dizzy and lightheaded when I opened my eyes the next morning, especially when I found out I was totally naked. In Chris’ room! Where's Chris? He is nowhere in sight. Again. I called out for his name, but no one answered. I wrapped myself in his blanket as I traverse to my room. I found myself a nice set of clothes before coming down to the dining hall. I found Ising singing a familiar tune while dusting. Her voice could not hide its delight when she saw me. “Your coffee is waiting for you in the dining. Do you want sunny side up eggs or scrambled? How are you feeling? Probably the first time that you finished the whole bottle of wine to yourself!” 
“I’m okay, Ising,” I answered as I sat down to sip some of the strong black coffee. “Have you seen Chris?" 
“He left early in the morning. Today is his first day at work.” I looked at the clock. I can’t believe I slept until 10 am again. 
“What time did he left?" 
“7 am. Don’t worry. Chris said he would be back by 4 pm.” 

The coffee helped with the hangover a lot. I was already motivated with living again by noontime. That afternoon, I took the car and drove to the town centre. I decided to buy new wallpapers and cushion cover. I suddenly desired for a change of ambiance in the house. I was feeling blissful, hopeful for better days. I chose green and aqua colours in exchange of the Victorian hues of the house. When I finished, I also picked up a new Christmas tree and Christmas lights too - the ones that play Christmas songs. 

The rest of the afternoon was spent redecorating the whole house. I was enthusiastic pulling out the old wallpaper that smelled of mould and past. Ising helped me put the new ones. I chose a wallpaper, adhesive this time, so I only need to peel out the strip and pressed it to the wall. She was nothing but supportive. Ising was saying that she was happy that I am moving on. “Moving on from what?” I asked. 
“From the past. I’m sorry for saying this Felicia, but I am glad that you have moved on from the painful memories of your parent's' death and of course, Richard who brought nothing but trouble to your life.” I smiled back at her. Perhaps she was right, that I am truly letting go of the burden of the past. 
“Hallelujah for Chris! Whatever happened to that year you disappeared with him does not matter anymore. I’m glad that you’re happy now. Your aura shows it. Thank God for Chris! He is heaven sent!” Ising added that she would go to the church the next day and would light a candle for Chris and me. I told her we are not really in a relationship yet, but I am starting to like him. He’s not a difficult person to like as I have mentioned before. "It doesn't matter; you will get to the destination one way or another." We successfully put all the new wallpaper that afternoon. I even managed to shower and dress up, preparing myself for Chris’ arrival. 

He didn't arrive at 5 pm like what he said. He came two hours later. I was sitting on the old sofa with the new wallpaper which he eventually noticed. A smile beamed his face. "Hey." 
“How was your day?” I realized that we have not got in touch the whole day despite having mobile phones. 
“I’m sorry for not calling and for not telling you that today is my first day at work. Even leaving at seven this morning, I was almost late.” 
“It was alright, Chris. There’s nothing to apologize for. You must be tired, shall we eat? Ising prepared your favourites." 
“I actually ate in the office. It turns out that they had this mini-celebration every time they hire a new employee. I can join with you on the table if you want.” I slightly felt disappointed, but I let it go. 
“How about a glass of wine?” I offered. 
“Sure.” I stood up thus there we were only a meter apart from each other. He suddenly grabbed my hips and kissed me on my lips. I was slightly shocked, perhaps because I am sober this time. “It’s my turn to miss you,” he added. "I like the teal wallpaper," he commented. 
“The renovation is not done yet. Tomorrow I am going to add the Christmas tree and the Christmas lights. And perhaps some new furniture." 
“I want to help you with that tomorrow. It can wait, right?" 
“Are you sure? ‘Cause you don’t have to do this. I’m free tomorrow afternoon after the meeting, and I can do it." 
“I have not experienced putting on a Christmas tree, and I was thinking you’ll show me how to do it.” 
“Oh, if that’s so, I’ll leave the tree in the evening. Sounds good?” He nodded. “Now tell me how did your day go?” 
“Why don’t we sit and let me start to bore you with the details." 

The next day Chris and I had an early breakfast. We slept in our separate rooms. I told him that last night that I don’t want to get used to sleeping together yet and he nicely agreed. He said he wouldn’t want to stress me and that he felt confident that things will fall into its right places. That’s what I hope too. 

The meeting at the city hall started at 9 am, but an early breakfast with coffee and Chris was a perfect way to start the day. This time he left at 7:30 am. Chris' honeymoon period in his new job is non-existent, but he would try his best to get home by late afternoon. He did promise that we will settle the Christmas trees today once and for all. The feast of Santa Barbara held every 4th of December, would be in two days. Usually by that day, in this town’s tradition, the town would be lit up with Christmas feels. Funny how two of my favourite words in this world starts with a C and ends with s. Chris & Christmas. Both gave me the same warm fuzzy feeling. 

I just wish both would last. 

After the meeting at the city hall with the artists which was a quick one, Richard invited me for lunch at Bunny's Cafe. We had a nice chat with what was going on with our lives even if it has only been a week since we last saw each other. “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but I am curious about your relationship with Chris. Are you two just friends, or what?" 
I grabbed my glass of water and drank it. “We’re…” He waited patiently for my answer as I try to rummage my mind with the right words. I wanted, to be honest as much as possible, especially to Richard. I don’t want to lead him on. “We’ve got something special going on between us.” 
“Well, that’s good to hear. I’m glad that things are looking up on your end.” 
“It is looking up indeed,” I replied as I imagined what happened that evening when I was dead drunk. I remember it very clearly - the kiss, the touch - and by doing so, I felt the familiar electricity in my stomach. “Are you alright, Felicia?” Richard asked. 
I came back to my senses. “Yes, of course." 
"Do you love him?" 
"I think I do," I answered without hesitation. 

That same afternoon was spent in preparing the stalls for the bazaar. It was a total of thirty blue tents surrounding the fountain in the middle of the plaza. Banderitas were also hung adding a celebratory vibe in the town. The children were thrilled that they started singing Christmas songs. “Ate Felicia, this is all beautiful!” Margarita, one of Susan’s kids, blurted happily. 
“Really? Do you like it?" 
“Yes, we do! We’ll now start carolling!” she eagerly announced. She called out to her playmates who were gathering their DIY musical instruments: an empty filled with coins, a bunch of tanzans wired together, and a milk-can paired with two sticks that served as a drum. At 5 pm, I was preparing to leave when Richard caught up with me again. 
“Felicia before you go home, I want to tell you again that it was an excellent job you had done down there. You’re always the best one in this." I noticed this time that Richard looked weary. His aura has changed since I had lunch with him this afternoon. 
“I just did what I have to do. Do you think we can hit the target number of tourists this year?" 
“I am optimistic that we would. We’ve got the town's Bed and Breakfast almost entirely booked for Christmas." 
“That’s wonderful!" 
“It is, and the town wouldn’t have done it without your help." 
“Thanks.” I started the car. “You did well too!" 
“And hey, before you go, I just want to tell you one more thing." 
“What is it?" 
“I wanted to say sorry for all the wrong things I have done to you." His statement caught me by surprised. We were just talking about the event and now, this. 
“Richard, you already apologized, and I have already forgiven you long time ago." He leaned against the car window. Thus, our faces were only a few inches apart. How surprisingly awkward! I slightly moved back. 

“Now that I have thought about what we have been through, believe it or not, I kind of regret what I have done. And if only there’s ever a second chance for the two of us again, I will take it in an instant." 

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