Chapter 12 - A Visit to the Past

"Your first road trip!"  May turned around to look at Tessa who was bundled up in her car seat at the back of Daniel's Lexus RX 350.  "Are you happy?"

"Ah - P!"  Tessa imitated her sister by repeating the word with a smile though she had no clue what it meant.  However, her attention soon went to the two little orange basketballs hanging at the neck of the rear view mirror.  She knew what those were and pointed to them. 

May turned back to see what had captured Tessa’s attention.   She pointed to the swaying toys and turned around to ask her sister.  "You like those basketballs?"

The baby started kicking her legs and flapping her arms with excitement.  “Boh.”

"You are so smart, Tessa!"  Daniel hit the two little basketballs and the toys swung back and forth like a pendulum.  "You know those are play balls!"

"Bah!"  Tessa stretched open her fingers to gesture she wanted them.  "Boh!"

"Those are Danny Gor Gor's balls!"  May pointed Tessa to look at the swinging toys.  "They are so small and cute, aren’t they?"

"Hey!  Better watch what you say!"  Daniel gave May a deserving glare.

“Why?”  May was confused why he shot her a scowling look.  "What did I say?"

"Bahee!”  To Tessa, she believed she had just called Danny by his name.  But when the two adults didn’t hear it, she started kicking her legs and demanded aloud by repeating what she wanted.  “Boh! Boh! Boh!”

"Yes, your sister said mine are small!"  He spoke to Tessa from the mirror.  Then he hit the toy again and looked at May.  "Those are not there as a replica of mine!"  May caught on and finally let out her snickering laughter which earned her a playful push on her head from Daniel.  "Stop laughing or I will have to do something to prove you wrong!"

"Not a chance!"  May was not able to stifle her laughter, especially when Tessa kept repeating her word ‘boh’ because she wanted the toy in her hands.

Daniel unclipped the two little basketballs from the hook and placed them in May's hand.  When she bent to grab a wet cloth from Tessa's bag to clean the toy, he asked the question that had piqued his curiosity since yesterday's ordeal with Kyle at the hotel.  He cleared his throat and dived straight for the bullseye.  "So you and Kyle never got to third base after dating for two years?"

May thought about his question as she placed the toy in Tessa's hand.  "No, we had a very slow start during the first year.  We hardly saw each other the first year.  We starting seeing each other more after my Dad passed away.  I was still working full-time and trying to juggle my Dad's business at the same time."

Daniel's attention was suddenly shifted to the toy that landed on the crotch of his pants as Tessa's laughter filled the SUV. 

"No, Tessa!  No throwing!"  May gave her sister a scowling look before taking the toy from Daniel's hand.  She repeated her instructions twice before placing the balls back into the infant's hands.  "And of course, there was Tessa.  I had to come over to the Penthouse whenever Bedina called to tell me her mother was drunk."

"Must have been a nightmare for you!"  Daniel's voice was filled with compassion.

May let out a 'glad but sad it's over' laugh.  "I should have seen the signs; especially when Emily was always telling me not to trust him.  She and Ethan had caught him with different women even before my Dad passed away, not just with his ex-girlfriend."

When she paused, he was still curious, but rather apprehensive in asking.  But curiosity got the best of him and he was dying to know with a pang of jealousy churning in his stomach.  "Had there been anyone you were intimate with since high school?"

"What do you mean, since high school?  I was never with anyone in high school!"  When she saw Daniel doing a double take; May was certain he thought the rumour of her being pregnant in high school was true.  "Before Kyle, I only dated one other guy for four years while in university.  We broke up because he believed his vocational calling was in Thailand’s mission field." 

She could tell Daniel was mentally filtering what she just told him.  There was a look of surprise on his face.  Then she told him why that relationship didn't go anywhere.  "I knew for certain mine wasn't!"

Still shocked, he was now even more curious about the kind of virtues she kept.  "So being a Man of God, I don’t suppose you and him …,” he cleared his throat again.

Silence fell, even from Tessa.  After what seemed to Daniel like a minute (but was only 10 seconds), he finally turned to look at her.  She was looking back at him, deliberately grinning and challenging him to complete his question.  “You know, being a Pastor, he wouldn’t … you know…”

May chuckled because she knew that was as far as she could bait out of him.  “If he and I reached third base or home run,” she emphasized the slangs by pointing her index finger at him.  “I would be married and living in Thailand with him today!”

Surprised about her state of chastity, he took the plunge and went completely personal on her.  “Does this mean you only believe in having sex after marriage?"

May felt a rush of heat coming on her cheeks, not because she was offended by his question but because she knew this subject was bound to come up between them sooner or later.  She had known this since the first time they kissed two nights ago.  Though she understood what he meant, she purposely gave him a misguided answer.  "Um ... no!"

When he made a quick turn of his head to look at her, she explained just to make sure he didn't think she was consenting.  "That's like having sex with your ex after getting a divorced!  I believe in sex during marriage or in marriage.  But for sure not outside or after!"

This time, one of the two basketballs hit Daniel in the head before landing on the crotch of his pants.  Obviously, Tessa had discovered a new game as she laughed away in her own little world.  "Bahee!"

Again, the two adults were so caught up in the subject of that three letter word that they weren’t hearing what Tessa was calling Daniel.

May laughed at the funny yet perfect timing.  Daniel did the same but he tossed the ball at her this time.  "You know what I mean!"

May was still laughing when she placed the balls back in Tessa's hand and she caught the toy in the air a few times when the baby continued to throw the toy even though she was told several times by her sister not to throw the balls.  Evidently 'No' sounded very much like 'throw' for Tessa.  Both words rhymed.

Though May knew Daniel was experienced when it came to the subject of their conversation, she wanted to know what his take was. "If the girls you dated held such values, would you have held off till your wedding night?" 

Seeing how the question sent him to deep thoughts, she rephrased with a challenge.  “Maybe I should ask ‘Could’ you have waited?”

Daniel didn't answer her question right away; instead, he cleared his throat and kept his eyes on the road ahead.  Thinking this conversation was over, May looked out the side window and told herself that the answer was obvious.  Then the two orange basketballs landed on her.  So May turned around and handed them back to Tessa. 

"Sadly speaking, none of the women I dated held such values and I was not the first man they slept with."  Then he looked at May with a spark of mischief in his eyes.  "Speaking of virgin, I’ve never dated one.  Guess you would have to marry me to find out the answer to your question!"

“Yeah right!”  She gave him a ‘Smart Alec’ glare before he turned his focus back on the road.  "Like guys could hold back after your so-called 'drive' has been set in motion."

Daniel was hit by the balls this time.  He chuckled as he handed the balls back to May.  "That is such an unfair male stereotyping.  You know, women are just as responsible for the act!"

May scoffed and gave the balls back to Tessa.  This time her sister didn’t say ‘No’ and May was glad when the baby placed the ball in her mouth instead of throwing the toy in the air.  She turned to look at Daniel.  "Right, so now you're saying the responsibility falls on these women you’ve dated because they weren't able to resist or fight off your charm and advances."

"No, that's not what I'm saying!"  Daniel needed to see the expression on her face to make sure she was not pissed with him.  "I never charmed anyone into going out with me; you knew I was very shy in high school.  I couldn’t even ask you out!”

He took hold of May’s hand.  "You were the only one I ever tried asking out and look how well that turned out.  Tom ended up taking the phone because I chickened out completely after you said hello."

May squeezed his hand until Tessa started to fuss over the toy she dropped.  After finding the toy and wiping it clean before placing it back in Tessa's hand, she gave him a knowing look.  “Erica and Pam must have boosted your confidence back in high school.”

"Not really!  There had been a few I admired from afar, but I never worked up the courage to ask them out.  I've never asked anyone out before."  Daniel admitted and gave her a shy looking smile.  "Except you!  I fell for you all over again the moment I saw you at the luncheon.  If Emily didn't mention you were single, I wouldn't have been so bold to ask you out!"

"Yeah, right! As if!"  May tried to pour icy cold water on her own jumping-for-joy heart as her brain tried to filter out his words for flaws.  "You must have asked Gillian out!"

He shook his head.  "No, Gillian and I met briefly at our company function where she was the hired event coordinator.   Then she asked my manager for my number and asked me to be her date to another corporate function."

May didn't want to look his way.  Somehow from the painful tone of his voice, she feared he still cared for her.  She wondered what went wrong but her heart wasn't ready to go there yet.  "Okay, what about all the others before her?"

He looked over at May but she kept her head down, refusing to glance his way.  "There were three others before Gillian.  Two of them you knew about, Erica and Pam.  And the only reason Janet Richardson and I dated was because I felt responsible after waking up next to her in bed after getting high and drunk."  He gave a remorseful chuckle.  "I still think she ‘drug-raped’ me with the help of my so-called friends back then!"  

May gave a gasp.  She knew Janet was one of the girls who used to hang out with him and his friends back in high school though she was two grades younger.  "You mean your Tom gang friends?"

"Yeah!"  He admitted with shame and went on to elaborate what happened. "I broke up with Pam a few weeks after high school graduation.”

He turned and saw May’s surprised expression.  He wondered if she was surprised about the break up or that he did it right after graduation.  “I knew Janet had always had a thing for me even when I was with Pam.  But I was never interested in her.  She was relentless, in a way much like Alice.  But ... anyways, we were only together for a short time."  Then he paused.

When May looked up at him, she was certain he was thinking about something from the past, something he didn’t want to revisit, memories or otherwise.  Then he gave her a meek smile and summed up his recollection of high school.  "After that I left for California."

When Daniel stopped talking, she thought she might as well let this question out of her system.  She would like to know and to prepare for what was to come if they were really going to be serious about their relationship.  "So do you still keep in touch with Pam or Tom?"

From the tone of her voice, he could tell she still disliked them.  "No and no!"  When she just acknowledged with 'hmm', he went on.  "I broke up with Pam because of you!"

Her head sprung around so fast he was afraid she might have snapped her neck.  But he knew she did it to see if he had on a teasing grin.  When she saw that he did, she gave him a brush off.  "Yeah, right!  Because of me!"

"Yes!  Because you didn't congratulate me on my engagement!"  Then Daniel told it as it was.  “You said Good Luck on my engagement as if you were telling me I was going to need it!”

The muscles around her mouth created upward reflexes and the dimple that mesmerized him appeared.  She knew he wasn't lying because she had thought he was making the biggest mistake of his life back then.  When she found out about his engagement from his mother's letter, she remembered she had to make a point not to congratulate him if she ever ran into him. And she did.

"Lucky for you then!"  May told him and was grateful for the bridge to talk about his most recent relationship.  "Did you and Gillian get engaged when you thought she was pregnant?"

This time, he stayed quiet for a bit longer before shaking his head.  "No engagement.  I was prepared to be responsible for my child and started making plans to head to Vegas to get married."  Daniel paused, and May could tell it was painful for him to talk about this.  "But she lied to me about her pregnancy."

May couldn't understand why that would be a reason to break up a relationship and the quietness in the car was creating an unsettling feeling for her.  She couldn’t help but wondered if Daniel was on a rebound.  Though it would break her heart if he was still in love with Gillian, she needed to know for certain.  "If you still have feelings for her, couldn't you forgive her prank and try again after getting married?  If she's not able to bear children, there is always the option of adoption?"
Daniel gripped the steering wheel and May saw how a nerve jumped on his jaw before he spoke.  "Her pregnancy wasn't a prank.  The baby is not mine!"

May was speechless at first.  But everything became clear and made perfect sense.  "She cheated on you?!  And she told you the baby wasn’t yours?"

"No, I figured it out on my own but I also forced it out of her.   Too many things didn't jive.  First of all, I had always used protection.  Then I noticed the size of her stomach was rather big for being 1 and a half month into her pregnancy.  She didn't want me at any of her appointments.  She figured that way I would never know how further along she was.” 

May nodded to imply she agreed with his reasoning.  She remained quiet and ready to listen further. 

“I became suspicious when she told me we couldn't make flight plans for the Ethan’s wedding.”  Daniel started to relax when he mentioned his brother’s wedding.  “Lucky I told Emily and Ethan.  Emily kept saying I must be wrong to be able to notice her baby bump when she was only two months in.  So one day I showed up at her appointment and asked the doctor for her due date.  I did the calculations and knew we never had sex around the time of conception!"

“Are you sure?”  May asked. 

"Well, at least I didn't!"  Daniel gave a forced chuckle for being played a fool. “She got herself pregnant during the five months I was busy being a frequent flyer all over Asia." 

Daniel looked at May with certainty in his eyes.  "We never saw each other in person during those months."

May touched his arm that was resting on the gear handle.  "I'm sorry she hurt you like that!"

Daniel turned his hand around to hold hers.  "Don't be!  I couldn’t be happier things turned out this way!"  He held her hand up to his lips and kissed the back of it gently. 

Gillian was the only one May had never seen and she wondered what she looked like.  She felt she was being such a woman, but she couldn't help it.  She knew her curiosity would soon kill her if jealousy didn't take the first stab.  So she had to ask.  "Was Gillian pretty?"

Daniel paused to think hard as if his answer would determine if he was going to have a future with her or not.  "Well, people say she’s pretty."  He turned to see her reaction before continuing.  “She’s about your height, just a little meatier than you!”

Well he obviously didn't think hard enough before answering.  Though he used the term 'People say', it didn't stop the acid from churning the wall of her stomach.  May was wishfully, but not realistically, hoping to hear something along the line that Gillian was unattractive, plain, couldn’t be bothered with appearance.  What made it worse was when he glanced at her chest just before telling her that Gillian was meatier than her.  Now all May could envision was Gillian with boobs that were voluptuous.  ‘Hmm…probably fake ones!’  This was the only comfort she could offer herself.  She just didn’t realize she was doing it aloud.

“What was that?”  Daniel asked innocently.  She shot him her brooding look, the same look she used to give him in high school during band lessons.
Daniel chuckled as she continued her brooding, he playfully nudged her head.  "Hey, you asked!"

Feeling a tad agitated with a sprinkle of foolishness, May let out a dash of laughter.  "Well, you didn't have to be so honest!"

Just then, Tessa threw the balls at May and started with her giggles.  This time it was because she learned a new word.  "On - Ness!"

"See!  Even Tessa said we have to be honest!"  Daniel gave her another playful shove and turned back to focus on the road because the car on the left lane was speeding pass them going at 150 km while they were only going at 60 km.  "Crazy nut-head to be going at that speed on an icy cold day like this!"

As soon as he said that, he jammed his foot on the brakes and swerved the steering wheel.  May gasped with open mouth and widen eyes at the sight of the car that just sped by them.  It was making a 360-degree spin and within seconds, the car turned another 180 degree and was heading directly at them in flying speed. 

Honesty - Billy Joel