No Umbrellas Needed
We reached Granville Island without encountering much traffic on the way. It was half pass noon and people were, as expected, bustling about with their business. It was undeniably a great tourist spot for visitors and a pastime for students and locals. Looking for a parking spot was never a problem. No matter where people park they were bound to stroll the whole vicinity and make a full circle back to where they started. Ric found a spot right by Emily Carr University, a fine arts institution, and reversed his car in a swift, precise movement.
“Don’t move.” It was more of a request than an order.
He exited the car as I let go of my seatbelt and watched him through the windshield go around and open my door. I had to say something before I get used to being spoiled. A smart humour left my mouth, “You know I can do things for myself too.”
“No doubt. But you also deserve things to be done for you.” He fixed a strand of hair that was blocking my left eye to prove a point. It was an honest opinion that I selfishly agreed on.
He led me down Johnston Street in the open crowd. I wrapped my arm around his while both his hands were in the pockets of his cardigan. His warmth was just what I needed to stay sheltered from the dropping temperature. I shivered at the thought as he looked at me and smiled. His formidable presence also sheltered me from bumping into people.
He introduced me to a new eatery called Edible at the Market; a recently developed bistro that is an extension from a company that promoted modern Canadian culinary. We were seated at a corner table that felt more intimate than secluded. I imagined the place doing very well given the variety of their menu. Once again a waitress had taken notice of Ric which I completely ignored this time. I was actually alright since we received better service because of it. We gave her our choices and she left.
“Is this place any good?” I asked purely out of curiosity.
“I have no idea. I would assume so. This is my first time. A friend had mentioned it not too long ago. He gave it a good review.”
“Well it’s about time we find out.”
“I sure hope it is good or else this would end up into a mediocre date which I planned not to be.”
Just hearing Ric say ‘date’ was almost surreal. I smiled inside during which I pretended to fix my utensils. The waitress had saved me from lacking words as she arrived with our drinks, “Long Island for the lady and Granville Island for the gentleman.”
“Happy hour starts now.” I wanted to withdraw that comment but he laughed anyway.
“For you, maybe, but mine started since seven this morning.”
“See, how do you do that?” My remark sounded displeasure.
“You always have something to say that puts me on my place. Not that you say anything that’s offensive, in fact it’s too flattering, but it feels rehearsed.”
“You have a problem?”
“No.” I stopped.
“You do know what I do right?” The sarcasm was necessary.
“It’s not that hard to be honest, especially to you. There’s nothing incorrect to how I manage my conversations with you.”
“I just wish I could counter it equally.”
“You do.” He assured me, “Smile, please.”
I frowned instead. He squinted first then smiled. He did that until the effect mellowed me down. I gave up and did what he had asked.
“There, you see? You’ve countered it.” He made my smile worth more than words.
I had to change the subject, “Your nephew’s really adorable. He looks up to you.”
“He does. Sam’s very mature for his age. He’s going to be seven in a month. He’s progressed quite a bit.”
“Meaning he’s more communicative. It was hard to talk to him before. It was like hitting a brick wall in every attempt to get a word out of him. He was always searching.” He took a drink of his beer.
“For his father.”
“Where’s his father?”
“Passed away two years ago. Car accident.” He looked far off into the opposite side of the restaurant. He retrieved his thought and looked down at our table, “He was very aware of the whole ordeal.”
“Rachel didn’t seem…” I realized I have inquired too much.
He continued anyway, “She coped with it in her own way. Rachel’s way. She cried continuously for almost a year and then, all of a sudden, she’s packing boxes. The only thing she didn’t pack was a picture of the three of them that is now sitting on Sam’s nightstand. She believed that he has every right to keep his father.
“Danny was a decent man. He loved my sister until his last breath and worked to the last sweat. He worked enough so that Rachel stayed off work since Sam was born. He was good to them both. A perfect trio. A really hard act to follow.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.” Even my apology felt incomplete. I just had to ask, “So, how is she coping with Sam and everything else?”
Ric showed gratitude towards the thought of his late brother-in-law, “The only thing he did behind her back was invest his own savings into very good stocks and Rachel will never have to go back to work again. She has all the time to mend Sam now.”
There was enough contentment on both sides of the table. I didn’t want to pry any longer as much as he didn’t want to stay in the topic. I may have ruined the day at this point and damage control was inevitable. Surely enough, the waitress had saved me the second time. Our orders arrived and I had to apologize again before we dined, “I’m sorry for bringing it up.”
“It hasn’t been at all your fault.” He vouched for my innocence, “I explained further than what was necessary. I kept giving you an open-ended answer and set myself up to be questioned even more. Besides, I’m alright talking about this. I really am.”
The food was great and so was the rest of the conversation that proceeded. Ric gave me his best and worst secret on how to deal with health: humour in everything you do. He talked about having ample happiness in your life can strengthen your heart, mind and soul. I agreed on the idea that happiness is always your choice and humour is always a step closer to that choice. I laughed at his stories on not being taken seriously by other colleagues because of his method.
“Shall we?” Ric had just signed off the bill that I insisted to split, “I promise, you get the next one.”
We went around the whole island in a clockwise direction. I was sure before then that I’ve seen all that was there to see but with Ric, no stone was left unturned. We went inside every shop or boutique and visited galleries. The parks were not ignored either or the Kids Market since I opted to buy Sam a little present. And of course, we watched the acts that were available at the square while munched on roasted chestnuts. The Public Market was the final stop and Ric surprised me with a list.
“Could you get me those?” He handed me a piece of unlined notepad paper, written was a list of selected produce, bread, and pasta.
“What are the highlighted ones?” I already started to panic.
“It means it’s your choice.” He looked at me and smiled at my reaction, “You’ll be alright. I’ll be back to get a few other things.”
“OK.” He was gone as soon as I said it.
I went right into the task at hand and wasted no time. I didn’t want to disappoint Ric with this simple request. I used my best judgement on picking fruits and vegetables, as well, decided on penne.
“Last item?” Ric arrived with two full bags on each hand.
“Mm-hmm.” I was just in the process of paying for the baguette.
We walked to the car and placed the four filled paper bags in the back seat. I started to wonder what it was for although it wasn’t that vague. The shopping experience was different and marital-like. I wittedly voiced out my immediate feeling, “Time to go home?”
“Time to go home.” Ric duplicated.
We drove right back to Steveston where, I presumed, his home was. The neighbourhood was serene and almost untouched by public eye. It wasn’t too far from the beach and the wharf. I inched forward in anticipation of which house it was, though in my mind, hoped that my movement looked more like I was just ready to stretch. We came up to a cottage, typical in that area, and parked right on the gravelled driveway. The only thing missing were the white picket fences.
“It’s beautiful.” I had to say something in astonishment.
“It’s still incomplete.” He sighed at the thought, “Open your own door?”
We both laughed. I opened my door instantly to show that I meant what I said. He had managed to grab three of the four bags and headed to the front door. I took the remaining bag and followed him. He turned on a light for each room that we passed to get to the kitchen and every room that lit, it felt like a showroom. The inside of the house had no significance to the outside other than some original moldings. It was completely modern and upscale; renovated down to its skeleton. He must’ve noticed me admiring as he volunteered to give me a tour. The main floor consisted of two bedrooms with a full bathroom in between that also serves as a guest bathroom, a library and the rest of the necessity. The second floor must’ve been an attic that was converted entirely to a master bedroom with the walk-in closet connected to the master bathroom. Three sides of the room were walled by windows which I imagined would be very attractive on sunny days.
We went back downstairs to continue the evening. Ric had taken our coats to hang on the rack while I unpacked the grocery. I tried to find my way around the kitchen but was unsuccessful. He entered the room knowing I was in disarray. I shrugged my shoulders to indicate for him to take over. He went around the island, stood behind me and kissed me on the head, “I’ll take it from here.”
I took a seat at the island to get out of his way. He folded up his sleeves and went right into the third part of our date. I kept him company during the preparation and started to assist him in some parts. He would let me have a taste once in a while to get my opinion. I thought it was unnecessary since he knew it was delicious. Ric looked comfortable in the kitchen and I couldn’t help but stare at him doing so. He smiled as he noticed my last admiration and kissed me on the forehead. I bit my lower as I wiped my hands on the towel.
“Could you get two mugs, please?” He pointed towards the middle cupboard.
I realized it was all beer mugs. He pointed at the drink taps located by the second sink and hinted to bring alcohol in the picture. I felt like a bartender doing it and tried to do it as smooth as possible. He laughed and looked impressed.
“I did mention I brew beer, right?” He laughed even more as I gave him his mug, “I would never lie to you.”
“But you’d lie to the class.” I joined in the joke, “Where exactly?”
“I turned the garage into a bar.”
“I’d love to see that.”
“Perhaps another time.” He went right back into cooking.
I expressed my approval at the thought of another time with a drink, “This is actually good.”
The smell of the food was delightful and the house was at proper warmth. He readied the dishes as I set it, one by one, at the living room. He thought the dining area was too formal. I brought the last item which was the salad. Ric had served it in a wooden bowl but was missing the proper serving utensils. I was so anxious to get into the next sequence that I almost asked him for a wooden spatula instead of a wooden spoon. I laughed at the idea of saving myself from what could’ve been a potential embarrassment.
The fireplace became the essential source of light as Ric dimmed down the remaining fixtures. We buried ourselves in the sofa to enjoy what he had created. The flavours were more elaborated than the few tastes I had earlier. His family recipe had been added to the penne, the baguette complimented the entrée, and I was still trying to figure out what was in his secret salad dressing. Everything was his to credit and I absorbed that very simple moment.
Our conversations were vibrant and a few glasses of beer had slowed down our appetite. We laughed and I remembered crying because of it. I relished the romantic atmosphere and couldn’t stop smiling. It had been a full day and I started to feel weary.
I woke up to the sound of rain. I watched the flame from the fireplace and my mind easily reminded me where I still was. Ric had covered me with a light blanket and placed a glass of water on the coffee table. I sat up quickly to find him finishing the last touch of cleaning. The place looked spotless once again.
“Good morning.” He noticed me awake on his couch.
“What time is it?” My voice sounded raspy.
“Five in the morning.”
“Had I been asleep that long?” I began to feel red but had no strength to run out of the place.
“I felt the same way. I woke up an hour ago and just cleaned up a bit. I didn’t want to wake you up.”
“Thank you.” I stood up and went straight for the mudroom, “I should get home.”
“As long as you’re consciously stable.” He helped me with my coat and handed the keys to his car, “Take it and drive home. You can return the car any time.”
I was too tired and agreed on everything he said. He escorted me outside with an umbrella to save me from getting drenched. He opened the door and before I entered the car, I turned around and thanked him again. I gently studied his face and opened up my intentions, “You’ve kissed me everywhere but the lips.”
As soon as I let go of those words, my heart started pounding.
He smiled and finally kissed me on the perfect place. He grabbed my waist and drew me closer. I started to feel the rain falling on us hard. Ric had gradually dropped the umbrella and placed his hand on my cheek. It was passionate beyond comprehension. It was perfect.