After our talk at the bar on Ghost Night, I didn’t talk to Khaled except for a few texts back and forth. I was preparing myself for the worst. I assumed he wasn’t feeling me like I was feeling him, and was just trying to figure out the best way to tell me without ruining our friendship.
As I worked in the garden last weekend, I wished I had told him that night that he wouldn’t ruin our friendship if we didn’t date. When you really love someone, you just want them happy, even if it’s not with you. Gardening was having the same effect on me as jogging, I got deep into my thoughts.
Seeing the progress in my garden was heartening because it was purely the product of my hard work. But it was also disheartening because it showed me just how long it had been since me and Khaled hung out.
The Creator must’ve thought I needed a cherry on top of the plum sundae that was my current love life. My phone buzzed, but it wasn’t something that made me smile.
I quickly declined his invitation, and only took a small moment to feel badly for myself. Dominic might be a married cheating jerk, but he had excellent taste in fancy restaurants.
I needed a palate cleanser. I may not be able to splurge on fancy restaurants yet, but I figured I could splurge on an instrument. Obviously, an instrument cost way more than one meal, but it would last a lifetime rather than 2 hours. I’d always wanted to learn to play the guitar. Jogging and gardening only made my thoughts turn inward. A new hobby that required a combination of body and mind was a real distraction. I played that beautiful guitar for most of the afternoon.
As the sun lowered in the sky, my phone buzzed again. I pulled it out, ready to switch to some very unladylike language to help Dominic get the point. But it wasn’t Dominic asking me out again.
My heart skipped a beat. I wasn’t sure if it was a real date or not. I mean, it was such a casual text. But he’d asked me to Hell’s Kitchen! That was a fancy place. A date place. I put back on my fancy dress and headed to the restaurant and crossed my fingers that this meant what I hoped it meant.
Khaled was late, so I headed inside to get us a table. I tried not to be nervous that he was late. I’d like to think if the tables were flipped, he’d know I was on my way and go ahead and get a table for us as well.
He arrived and he looked amazing! I’d never seen him dressed so fancy and I was pleased to see he cleaned up so well. They gave us a table outside, so we had fantastic ambiance with the fountains.
I perused my menu, feeling more nervous than I thought I would. I’d hung out with Khaled so many times, but this just felt so different. There was a vibe in the air. This was definitely a date.
It was pretty clear before we even ordered our food that I wasn’t the only one in a flirty mood. Khaled told me how beautiful I looked and blew me a kiss across the table. For the first time since we met, he flirted with me first!
If I had known all I had to do was tell him point blank that I was into him, I would’ve done that when we first met! The type of guy he is though, he likely wouldn’t have taken me seriously. He needed to get to know my mind and my heart before letting himself fall.
It was so clear things had shifted between us. Khaled told me he asked me out so we could talk about us. Just hearing him say “us” put a huge smile on my face.
He told me he asked me here specifically because he’d seen the way I looked at this restaurant when we came to the bar the other night. And he knew how disappointed I was that I couldn’t eat here before.
We ordered adventurous food options (as if Hell’s Kitchen had anything other than that), and when our food arrived, it was everything I was hoping for. So unique. And it tasted amazing! That cubed ahi tuna reminded me of the fresh tuna I’d caught and roasted for myself. My roasted fish obviously wasn’t restaurant quality, but I was reminded of how I was able to get the good things in life without my daddy.
Khaled and I spoke at length over dinner. We shared when we each fell in love. We spoke about how we both wanted marriage and children. We’d already shared our relationship goals, but it was a whole different conversation when we were speaking about it specifically with each other in mind.
We didn’t want to move too fast, but it was hard to put the breaks on. Imagine having a friend who’s closer to you than anyone else has ever been. This friend is very attractive and there’s a lot of harmless flirting. There’s a physical closeness that’s platonic and driving you up a wall. You realize you’re in love and can only hope they feel the same. You are having visions of your future together and can only pray to the Creator that those are predictions and not hallucinations.
Those thoughts swallowed my mind and his too. As we finished our wine and food, we decided to get the check and head back to my place.
I forgot Khaled hadn’t seen my new space. He was so happy for me and proud of me he hugged me. He also used my new bathroom to change back into his casual clothes. He wasn’t nearly as comfortable in his fancy clothes as I was.
Once he closed the distance between us, it was only a matter of time before we crossed the line that people who are just friends never cross.
The next morning, he told me he was so happy to be here with me that he never wanted to leave.
So I asked him to stay, and he agreed.
So now he lives here. I can see my etiquette teacher fainting at the thought of two young people cohabiting before marriage. Well, she can suck a plum. I love him and I don’t care that we’re not married yet. I just love that whenever I look at my campfire now, he’s there. And if it’s up to me, he’ll always be there.