The day was finally here. The day Rowan's anxiety level increased further up a notch. The day he was silently dreading. My dad called me up the day before to confirm if I was still dropping by. I was hoping both my men would just co-operate. With each passing day, as the weekend rolled, Rowan suddenly started having frequent temperatures, though I was sure he was just sick worried (note the pun) and not sticking the thermometer in a lighting bulb. He was capable of pulling that off too.
I couldn't sleep the entire night as I played out the scene that would unfold when Rowan finally met my father. He was aware of the scandal that went down when Rowan resigned from the university, although my dad wasn't aware of Rowan's trip to Loony Island, or his history of drug abuse or the fact that he had a love child. It appeared a lot more difficult than we thought it would be.
It took me exactly forty minutes to reach Rowan's condo and all the while even though my eyes remained on the road, my mind was preoccupied by Rowan. I was worried about Rowan flipping and becoming a sociopath. Socializing and playing the perfect boyfriend wasn't his forte. To add another problem to the mix, the security guy refused to let me go without confirming at the intercom.
When Rowan said, 'Yes, I'm expecting Ms. Hayes' did the man let me go. He had seen me leave Rowan's condo a few times, didn't he? So why the formality?
I rang the bell a few times, getting impatient by the minute until the door opened and Rowan pulled me inside and pecked me on the lips which led to a long lingering kiss. The way his lips moved over mine, it was a clear indication that he was nervous.
He was wearing a casual flannel shirt, the sleeves were rolled upward over acid wash denims. Elsa, the little puppy began barking at us, begging for attention.
Minnie walked into the passage and said. "Ewwww. Daddy and Alana swapping spit."
We pulled apart and Minnie started singing. "Daddy and Alana sittin' on a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G."
Rowan and I exchanged glances and burst out laughing. Rowan turned towards me. "Did you have lunch or do you want me to pack it so we can have it on our way?"
Rowan was like a typical caring mother. I had to thank my lucky stars for getting such a boyfriend.
"I think it would be best if we had it on our way."
He simply nodded and began stuffing Minnie's things into a small bag. I also did not fail to notice an overnight bag that I realized had to be Rowan's. Yes, you heard me right. I said overnight bag because it was going to be a dinner at my dad's place with an overnight stay. My dad had been precise and clear, and when Rick Hayes invites someone for an overnight stay, one does not decline such a generous offer, especially if it's my boyfriend who is in dire need of his approval.
I realized Rowan still wasn't himself, he hobbled over things, gave me mono-syllabi answers and appeared distant.
"You don't have to worry about dad, okay?" I told him. "Just follow my lead and everything will be alright. He's really cool."
"I hope so." The uneasiness did not surpass his voice.
"Daddy..." Minnie's soft voice drifted from the living area.
"Coming, sweetheart." Rowan called out to her. "Let's go. We are going to be late. I need to stop by at my dad's first."
That wasn't the plan.
"Why?" I asked.
"We're going to drop off Minnie and Elsa there first."
"Minnie is not coming with us?" what the hell?
"Alana, I don't have a problem with Minnie coming along with us, but she's my daughter and taking her with us is only going to raise more questions before we have time to explain. Do you want that to happen? I'm meeting your father for the first time and it'll be easier for me if she's not there with us. Besides, she enjoys spending weekends at her grandma's."
I nodded. He was right. I hadn't thought of it at all, considering my plan about hiding Rowan's addictions and his single father status, Minnie would've only raised more questions. My father was attorney, a successful one at that. He would see right through every damn thing without breaking a sweat. It was a part of his job, one he was very good at. But, before my father, there was another adversary waiting.
My cell phone vibrated in my denim pocket. I swiped the touch screen to check.
I've arrived at the place. Where are you?
"Rowan, can I drive today?" I asked Rowan, putting the phone far from his sight.
Rowan seemed vaguely confused. "Sure."
I typed frantically.
Get your speech ready and gather your wit. And PRAY GABE, just freakin pray it'll go alright.
Rowan started to lock the condo; it didn't open without a security code and thump identification. Pretty high-tech. Minnie held my hand while Elsa walked on a leash with Rowan. She seemed to be growing up too fast for a little puppy, or Rowan was spoiling her rotten.
I received another text again.
If we live through this, remind me to thank you.
Rowan caught me smiling. "What are you smiling at? And who are you texting?"
"It's..."I swallowed. Lying wasn't one of my strongest points. "It's Nina."
He wasn't buying it, but managed to nod. He opened the passenger side in the back of the car, and secured Minnie in the back seat. Elsa could hardly keep her excitement at bay; she'd already stuck her sloppy tongue on the backseat window.
I was starting to regret ever being a part of the Rowan-Gabe reunion plan. This could go straight to shit if Rowan refused to co-operate. I took a deep breath, smiled at my boyfriend in the passenger side of the car and pulled the gear in drive.