Winter holidays vibes are spreading all around the city. From little kids playing ball games at their nearest park, to teens hanging out with friends under the Entre Rios sky, nobody –literally– want to waste any single minute during this two-week recess.
It’s six in the evening, and I’m baking some bread with Agustina. She’s been feeling quite down lately, but she’s kept secretive about it until this morning, when she told me she’s been constantly receiving some suspicious and threatening messages from someone she wishes she could get rid of once and for all. And she kinda feels insecure in her own house, afraid of any possibility of that person showing up at any minute.
“‘You thought I’ve forgot about you, idiot’ is what my father sent me today” she says, showing me the chat with a man named Diego on Facebook. “Holy shit, things couldn’t be worse...”
“Social networks make everything easier nowadays, mostly for the bullies” I answered, rolling my eyes.
“I don’t know if I told you this before, and I don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable.”
I put a hand on her shoulder as I sense her uneasiness. I have a feeling that I might know what she wants to tell me.
“You can tell me anything, elskede. You know I’m here for you.”
Still a little nervous, she starts telling me about how her blood father would abuse physically, emotionally and psychologically of her and her mother when Agus was only three or four, how he would pick up fights with Camila over really stupid stuff and without any valid reason.
I can see the pain in her eyes as she speaks. How could someone, especially a direct relative, treat her and her mother that badly? And when she was just a baby? No wonder why Agus sometimes gets emotionally sensitive and fragile. No wonder why she felt so hurt and angry with me after I left the city without letting her know beforehand.
“I’m really afraid, Val”. She’s trembling in a way I’ve never seen during all these years. I can sense tears coming soon. “I don’t know what to do.”
“I promise we’ll do our best for that man not to find you, Agus” I reassure her as I quickly squeeze her hands. “And if he does, we’ll figure something out together.”
Immediately, I lean in and kiss her lips softly. I can’t stand seeing her hurting this way, I really can’t. I want to take all her pain away.
“Min skatt, I know you’ve been through a lot for years and that you’ve had to face almost everything on your own”. I pause to look at her face and wipe some of her tears. “But you’re not alone anymore. You have your friends and mine, your boss, my parents... And you have me.”
She shyly smiles at me. As a response, I smile back at her.
“Val, can I stay the night here?” she asks. “I don’t want to go back home if that means that man can find me easily. And I also want to spend time with you.”
Now that’s a way to speak my language.
“You’ll have to work a little harder in order for me to let you stay tonight” I answer, looking at her flirtatiously.
“Maybe I know one or two things you’ll miss from me most” she almost whispers, her eyes locked on my lips.
Without waiting another second, she places her hands on my neck and kisses me with such fire I may get burned. But I'm already comsumed by her fire, so show it by pulling her close and kiss her back with the same intensity. ‘You’re right; I will miss this so much, and I’ll miss you’.
“You can stay the night with me” I say after breaking the kiss. “That means we can share my bed, if you feel comfortable. We don’t need to do anything else there”. A little pause. “I’m not ready for babies yet.”
“Then you can count me in” she answers, laughing. “I’d love nothing more. Neither am I, and there's no way any of us could get pregnant, you idiot.”
I can’t restrain myself from giggling. Lord, all I want is for her to smile her beautiful smile.
“Maybe I’ll go back to my place and bring some stuff I may need during my stay here”. She looks at me, as if she wants to tell me something without telling me anything.
“I’ll come with you, Agus” I answer before she reaches out the door.
Yes, being wrapped in Valentina’s arms, feeling her warm skin on mine, her heart skipping some beats, the electricity flowing around us... I’d never deny that being that close to someone beloved feels like something... out of this universe. I’ve never felt this close physically and, above all, emotionally, to someone as much as I feel with her. However, in spite of the comfort and safeness, I’m not able to get the beauty sleep I’ve been hoping since I’m still worried about that unexpected and disturbing message I had received the morning before. My breath and heartbeat are very fast, and I can’t stand moving and tossing on bed, risking unnecessarily waking her up. The best I can do is get up very early in the morning, four fifteen I guess, and go get some fresh air, even if that means occasionally getting my head hit to the corridor’s walls because of the darkness and my clumsiness.
While preparing a very discreet breakfast (though at Suarez’s I’m allowed to use whatever if needed, for real), my eyes meet an envelope under a wooden tray next to the cooker. I can’t help but take it and read its back side.
From: Jorge and Estefania
To: our beloved Valentina and Agustina
Um, what is this? Anyway, I don’t have the time and energy to think about this right now, so I save the envelope on my hoddie’s pocket. I guess it’s a little something for Val and me, who knows.
After having my breakfast, I head to the large backyard to spend some time alone outside. I’m still damn hell freaking out, so maybe an hour straight listening to Speak Now will help me to get a little distracted and relaxed after a tough day. It’s so cold outside, and for instances I wonder whether or not to go back to the comfort and warmth on Valentina’s bed –well, mostly because of her. However, I just stay outside, lying on the frozen concrete bench, looking at the starry sky, trying to clear my head and embrace hope for a better tomorrow. What could go wrong?
Damn, have I been hearing some noises from the kitchen, in the middle of the freaking night! Well, at first I don’t give a hell about it. After all, who in the world can be such a weirdo and wake up at four just to brew tea and eat bread from the day before? But then I roll my body to Agustina’s side of the bed and I can’t feel her body near mine... Wait a minute. Does she have something to do with those noises?
It’s four fifty six in the morning. Agh! I walk discretely toward the kitchen: nothing seems to be out of place. Then to the dining room, but everything alright. I’m getting damn worried. To the main door: it’s locked, and its key’s still hanging on the key holder. Back to the kitchen, just to check on some stuff. And then, for instance, right next to the fridge, I stop to think of something. ‘It’s just my imagination or there is some fresh air flowing here? In winter we always close all the windows and doors before going to sleep... I got you, schatje!’
I peek through the door of the room adjoining the backyard. As I notice everything’s alright, I step into it. Slowly, I head toward the big door-window adjoining the garden, which is slightly open. ‘I know where you are, my little stupid lovebird’ I think, laughing at myself discretely. Silently and slowly, I slide a glass-door leaf and then step out to the garden. ‘Shit, it’s so cold here... but why the hell I’m complaining? I brought a blanket and a hoodie.’
Once at the backyard, I see Agustina lying on the concrete bench near the door, her closed eyes looking at the sky. Speak Now is still playing on her phone, almost silently. As I reach the bench, I lift very carefully her head and, once I sat at the end that points toward the door, I place her on my lap and cover her with the blanket. She’s still sleeping, and I believe she will wake up soon...
But after some long minutes, she still doesn’t. But I can’t complain about it. In fact, I feel my heart melting as I see her peacefully, soundly sleeping. So I just take this time to look attentively at her and feel her: first, her closed eyes, but even closed, they keep shining more than all the stars together; then, her face, going from cold to warm; her red and irresistible lips, which I crave touching since the first time mine met hers; last but not least, her heart, beating in sync along with mine, as if they are one single heart...
I just smile without thinking I may wake her up. After all, I’m right here, under the shiny sky, holding Agus on my lap. She was the girl who has always treated me the way I actually deserve: with love, so much love, and it’s taken me some time and a terrible relationship failure to realize that. And she has tons of love to give and get, in spite of how hard things have been for her over the last two years. Yes, she’s right there, lying on me. I put puppy eyes each time I look at her closed eyes.
“I wonder what are you dreaming of, min skatt” I whisper, close enough to her ears. “Either way, you look like an angel. My angel.”
There’s no answer, but I don’t mind at all. After all, here we are the two of us, together under the blue night sky. Nothing else matters...
“Sweet dreams, vakker.”
I’m the first to wake up. It’s been one hour since I’ve caught Agustina’s profound sleep and fallen asleep, sitting on the bench. It’s still dawn, and it’s kinda colder than before.
“Agus” I whisper, shaking slightly her head in my hands. “Up, elskede.”
She doesn’t want to even move a single finger. What a jerk. A gorgeous jerk.
“C’mon, little sleepyhead” I insist, my voice very quiet, low and relaxed. “I have a lil’ surprise for you.”
Opposition coming from her, when not... I must play my best card up my sleeve if I want her to wake up.
So I lean on her and kiss her softly but fiercely at the same time.
“What the-?” she stutters, still asleep. I smile at her. “Wait a minute, what are we doing here outside? What the fuck just happened?”
I can’t help but laugh my shit out.
“Well, first of all, you should’ve seen your face after you just woke up”. Yeah, I can’t help but get a little spicy. “And second, let’s say I saw your side on the bed damn empty, and I wondered if you had got out of the house, but it just didn’t add up. Then I saw the door-window half open, so I figured out you’d be right here. I found you totally asleep, so I stayed.”
She looks at me, and I can feel she’s a little confused.
“Don’t get me wrong, but I have nothing to complain” I reassure her. “I needed a little break too, and I couldn’t have chosen any other place but the backyard to clear my mind. And neither did I want you to sleep all alone here, nor did I want to wake you up and force you to go back to bed...
“And while holding and looking at you, I was thinking about many things. For example, my ex and how harsh and mean he had been to me; I mentally said thank you for making of me a stronger and determined woman, though it was my achievement, not his...”
I feel like I’m about to break down, and I think Agus knows that too, just by one look of hers. As in cue, she gently squeezes my hand.
“I was thinking about my grandma’s funeral. You know, when you made your way to me and then embraced me so I could feel a little better. And it really helped, you know. I still remember how comfortable I felt in your arms. And you told me right there that it was the best thing you had ever done for someone...
“I was thinking of all these years we had been apart from each other, and all the choices I had made led me to all the pain I suffered in the past. But after all this time full of hopelessness, insecurities, loneliness, sadness and unsafeness... for the first time in a long while, all those feelings just seem meaningless to me, though they’ve actually existed. You know, I can’t change the past, but I can make the right decisions for the future to be better. And now that I have someone I care, protect, stand for and love, without asking to get the same back, because I do know this someone will do anything for me... well, for us.”
God, it feels so good to have said those words out loud. Us have never sounded so right, so accurate, so real.
“Well, I think I don’t have anything to add” she says as I hold her hands tighter. She’s now totally awake.
Without doubting for a second, I put my head on her chest, craving for her warmth.
“I don’t believe you, silly” I answer, giggling.
“Well, you made me go back to the day of our last goodbye to your grandma. I don’t know that much about her, but from what you and mum told me, she was a great, caring, loving woman. At first, when mum told me seven years ago that we were going to a funeral, I didn’t like the idea very much, but then she said it was a close friend’s relative who had passed... and well, I couldn’t say no to that...
“So I went with her to the ceremony. And I shared my condolences with everyone there. And at some point, I saw you hugging mum, crying out loud, and that’s when I had my heart broken for the first time. So I walked to you, a little afraid of making you feel worse instead of taking your pain away. But hugging you just worked out very well, even if it was just a little gesture at the moment...
“And I want you to know that embracing you helped me feel better in the long term, too. For the first time, I had made someone outside my family and friends feel cared, safe and loved. But later on I got the feeling that I had kind of a connection with you since the first time we ever met, and I’ve made a pledge to wait for the right moment to let you know how I really felt about you...
“But all my dreams and hopes broke into pieces when, first, you left town unannounced –when I was finally ready to tell you how I felt about you– and, second, when mum died and all that was left for me was just myself. These almost three years have been the hardest ever for I had to live mostly on my own. Some low-paid work, almost no school, no you... The only people there for me were aunt Araceli, and my best friends, and I could never be more grateful to them for believing in me when I didn’t... Anyways, my life still was a mess because the two most important people to me weren’t around...
“Years passed by just before me, and 16th March arrived... I was starting to work at La Cafeteria, and I just thought it would be one more day on my new normal life and, you know, I was angry with life, angry with mum... I was still angry with you. Then I saw you stepping into the café, more stunning and beautiful than ever, that all my feelings started mixing up. I needed some time to process everything that was going on, since I didn’t expect you to come back. But you... you kept fighting for me yet at the same time gave me space to figure out where my heart stood... And I’m very grateful to you for that, really...
“I remember the first time you joined me and mum for our winter nights at the campsite, when we were, like, twelve. I had never seen you so beautiful, so bright... so you. You were looking after me all the time that you grabbed my hips tight whenever I was walking toward the fire, as if you were afraid that I could get burned. And you asked me to slow dance while mum was jamming on her guitar. You were so caring, so protective, and so sweet with me I didn’t want our adventure to end...
“For a long time, I’ve always known you’d be the one for me, although you may say I... we were still little kids. I just really knew you’d be the one who would always be by my side with no conditions or pressures. Honestly, I’ve never seen myself falling for any girl but you. And now that all I’ve been dreaming of for ages, even on the toughest ones... Now that all of that is real... Valentina, I’m so, so, so happy of being part of your life and you being part of mine.”
I’ve never cried like this before. But I’ve never felt like this happy either. Here we are, Agus and I, holding hands tightly, joining our foreheads, staring deep into each other’s eyes...
And so we meet each other in a long, deep and passionate kiss, pouring down all of our feelings for one another. Our bodies melt into each other’s and become one as we kiss. Tears of happiness and a deep, true love for one another, fall down to the cold concrete. It’s so perfect, so magical, so right that I don’t want this moment to end.
“Valentina...” she moans, smiling.
As I kiss her back, I softly press my hands on her neck and pull her closer to me. Oh my, this girl drives me crazier and crazier.
“How can I dare to say that I had been through one relationship before you?” I rhetorically ask, my lips still very close to hers. “I mean, I’ve never felt this close to any other person before.”
“Me neither... though I’ve never been in any relationship” she answers.
I laugh enthusiastically.
“You are now in a relationship with me, silly” I rephrase. “But you have a point.”
As she rests her head on my shoulder, I can’t help but think ‘My hair will sleep you right here and now’, giggling subtly at the same time.
“I heard you loud and clear” she says, and I burst into laughter as I wrap her in my arms. “But I want you to hold me like this for a while.”
“Say no more” I say, lowering my voice. “I wish these moments could last forever...”
“Valentina... your honey scent from your hair” she mutters, obviously unable to lift her head from my shoulder.
“This is my call to say ‘told you so’, right?” She just laughs on my hair.
Suddenly, I hear a sound similar to an earthquake.
“You hungry?” I ask.
“Holy shit, I’m afraid I’m starving and getting cold out here” Agus says. No surprises when she’s the one who got up very early and decided to spend time outside barely having breakfast before.
“Hey, wanna come in to the house with me and join my parents for breakfast? Though I think you already had a little breakfast, hadn’t you?”
“Another cup of tea or piece of yesterday’s bread won’t hurt” she immediately says, slowly raising her head from my shoulder. “I need something more, though.”
I notice she’s driving her hand to her hoodie pocket. Then, she hands me an envelope.
“‘To: our beloved Valentina and Agustina.’ What is this?” I ask, a little confused.
“I swear I don’t know what’s inside” she answers quietly, “but I think it’s better if you have it with you, in case your parents don’t find it. It’s sort of a surprise for us... Hold on a minute.”
Holy shit! How can it be possible to have forgotten her birthday is today?
“I’m so sorry I didn’t remember your birthday, min skatt”. I surely feel so ashamed. However, her reaction is calm and understanding as she pulls me close into a hug.
“You don’t need to apologise or do anything else, Val. You’ve already gave me something way better than a birthday present. This few hours at this backyard were all I needed to help me clear my mind and focus on what is most important for me right now. But it worked out way well because I got to share an intimate moment with you. I’m sorry I got you worried about me sneaking out to here and leaving you alone there.”
And so, I give her my best smile and put my head on her shoulder.
“Your simplicity is what I love the most about you” I say. “I guess you got it from your mother and your experiences with and without her there for you. And no apologies. I really understand why you came here.”
“I’m glad to hear that from you”. She keeps caressing my upper back in a way she only knows. “Thank you for coming here and making me company. You have no idea how much it means to me.”
“Anything for you, mo chuisle” I whisper as I lift my head, and then my lips meet hers in a soft, short and sweet kiss. “Now let’s join mum and dad before they lose their minds and call the FBI.”
“Nah, they wouldn’t do that, but better not to keep them waiting.”
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