It felt like an instant that I had been laying there with him when my phone alarm went off alerting me with no mercy that I had to leave, because it was almost curfew. Jake and I both sat up and he looked at me pushing a strand of fallen hair out of my face. “Time to get you home. I’m glad your back.” He pulled me into another bear hug and then stood up.
It took everything in me to get my legs to work and push myself off the couch. I was exhausted, jet lagged, and happy here. I wasn’t ready to leave.
“Come on Chica.” I never knew where he got this nickname, but he called me it sometimes and I loved it. He stuck out his hand waiting for me to put mine in his and we walked up stairs to the garage.
“I don’t want to leave.” I was almost crying again, but trying to hold it in.
“I don’t want you to either, but you know if you are late for curfew your mom will have both our heads.” He laughed as we exited the garage and walked towards the parked truck in their round-a-bout.
“Yeah, this is very true.”
He walked around to my side of the car and opened the door. I boosted myself up and sat down as he closed the door and walked to his side. His truck smelled like him and Coppenhagen, with a mix of sweat from all his hockey gear. It would have repulsed the mother in the Febreze commercials obsessively spraying her home with air freshener, but I never wanted the smell to change. I loved it.
Jake got in the car and looked at me, smiled, then looked away and looked at the visor on his side of the car and looked back at me with a crooked grin.
“You know what I need to put right here?” His pointer finger hit the visor he had just been staring at.
“That picture of you smiling in the hotel room that you showed me.”
I had no idea what to say. He wanted a picture of me in his car? This was like in the romantic comedies where the man had a picture of his girl in his wallet, but even better. There was nothing Jake loved more than this truck and I was going to be a permanent staple in the truck.
“Ok.” I was blushing from head to toe. “I’ll get it for you.”
He started the engine and put the car in gear and began the maybe 3 mile drive to my house. We didn’t talk but he had his right hand on mine as he weaved through the roads to my house.
Somehow we always managed to make it to my house 1 minute before my curfew, which always made us give a huge sigh of relief that we made it while we also laughed at how close we always cut it. Jake walked me to my door, which my mom had already opened and was standing in commenting on how we almost missed curfew. Ignoring her rambling that was obviously fueled by wine, he kissed me goodnight told me he loved me and said he would see me tomorrow. Once again, our dates and time together was fully expected without us planning it. I smiled at him told him I loved him, would see him tomorrow and walked inside.
Closing the door behind me I was happy. I was home, I had seen Paris, Nice, and Barcelona, I was loved and in love, and there was no danger in distance between us. I didn’t think anything could burst my bubble.
“You know, I would have thought that after our trip you would have at least wanted to have dinner with me tonight on the last night of our trip.” My mom was staring at me speaking in her no-nonsense tone.
“But, last night was the last night of our trip and you said I could go.” Genuinely confused on what I did wrong this time, I was trying to rationalize what the issue was.
“You always pick him and his family over me. What do they have that I don’t.” She had moved to the kitchen and was refilling her wine glass. Scanning the counter I noticed I empty wine bottle and saw that this glass was coming from a bottle already half drained. I was not going to win this conversation and nothing I said would make this better.
“Nothing mom. I had the best time with you. Everything was great. I just wanted to see Jake. I love you.” I was looking at her pleading for her to just stop.
Turning on her heel while wine splashed out of the top of her glass she looked directly at me pursed her lips and with a finality in her tone said, “Goodnight.” as she walked towards her bedroom.
“Goodnight mom. I love you.”
It was met with silence. We really were home I thought as I looked around the kitchen. There were dishes stacked on the counter, now two empty bottles of wine, and what I assumed was our missed mail from our vacation sprawled over the counter tops. As I scanned the rest of the room I saw that there were dishes and glasses next to the couch where the blanket was left half on and half off the couch. Sighing to myself I pulled out my phone and texted Jake.
I had fun tonight. I love you.
Putting my phone back in my pocket I began the traditional cleanup. In the morning I knew my mom would pretend that nothing happened and saw nothing about how the kitchen went from this state to clean. This time though, as I cleaned dishes, went through mail, and threw away trash, I remembered the story of Grace Kelly. I was living a fairytale I told myself, just a longer fairytale. I was just like Cinderella, but I already found my prince and he lived 3 miles away with an amazing family, and my wicked step-mother was really just my mom when she was in one of her moods.
Through all of it I was smiling, Jake was going to have a picture of me in my car. He loved me and I was back where I could see him again tomorrow.