Chapter 18 - The Secret

"Correction!"  Daniel gave her temple a soft push with his index finger.  "You knew that!  That’s why you asked Emily to help you interpret the emails!” 

May feigned innocence because she was adamant she was not the one at fault. “Yeah, but …!”

“You just don't want to believe he’s coming back for you!"  Daniel cut in.  “Now, what was it he wrote?”  He tried reciting one of several emails shown to him during breakfast.  “Something about hoping the woman of his heart would reconsider marriage if his mission field was no longer in Thailand?”

May knew she was being stubborn about what Adam wrote.  When she received the email two months ago, she asked Emily to be her second set of eyes.  Emily knew there was an Adam in her past but had never met him until the funeral.  But because the email came after she and Kyle broke up, Emily was concerned about her best friend’s emotional state and thought perhaps Adam was God sent.  Therefore, she had encouraged May to keep an open mind and an open heart.  Of course, that was until Emily found Daniel’s diary and had pieced the characters together.

Daniel turned off the car engine and gave her a grin of annoyance.  “How precise does the guy have to be to get his message across to you?”

"Well, why would anyone want to propose to someone who turned him down before?"  May took his annoyance as a sign of jealousy which she felt was unwarranted.

He gave her head a light tap.  "The reason is because he just came to his senses that he is still in love with you after all these years!"  Somehow, Daniel felt as if his words were meant for himself.  He sighed and alighted his vehicle.

"That's not possible!"  May undid her seat belt and opened her door.  Daniel came around and held the door for her.  "Adam is a very practical person; he’s not the type to hold a secret crush for anyone for so many years, let alone me!"

Daniel cleared his throat and boxed her in between him and the car.  When she realized he wasn't budging, she finally looked up at him.  He gave her a pained glance and unintentionally raised his voice a little.  "Are you saying I am impractical?”

Just then, a couple with a dog were walking by. 
“No, I don’t!”  May caught sight of the dog looking at them.  As the couple walked away with their pet, she turned to Daniel and smiled.  “Maybe the dog thinks so.”

Daniel saw the cuteness in the dog.  To him, it seemed to be telling him to spill the truth.  “I had a secret crush on you!”  Then he took hold of May’s hand.  “It started when you first smiled at me the first day of high school!”

May remembered how they met and her blushing smile escaped her lips once again as it did before.  But instead of running away with pinkish cheeks like when she did in Grade 8, she took one step closer to him and lowered her eyes to his set of lips.  Memories of what they were doing to her this morning clouded her brain and this was all she could say. “And your point is?”

As if he was reading what his lips were doing in her mind, he took one step back. “My point is, I need to know where I stand with you!”  He braced himself by folding his arms.  “After all, he is your old flame and a Man of God!”

"Well, Adam knows where I stand.”  She looked at Daniel and saw concern all over his face though she knew he was just acting tough.  She considered if she should spare him the misery or let him sweat a bit more.  But she had always been a softie.  “If I said no once, it will always be a no!"

Daniel wasn't sure what to make of her statement; whether to rejoice or sulk in misery.  So when May tried to weave around him to get away, he placed one arm over the top of the car to stop her from doing so.

"You turned me down once in high school!"  Daniel's jaw tightened. 

If joy could truly leap, Daniel would have seen it in her eyes.  "I turned Tom down, not you!"  She pushed strongly against him and finally made him step backwards.  She started walking towards the Arrival Hall.  When she heard the slamming of the car door followed by setting of the alarm, she turned around and told him.  "I never turned you down!  Not even once in high school."

May saw the dumbfounded expression on his face.  “Our Final Year Christmas party, you asked me to dance.  I said yes!”

Daniel quickened his footsteps as May turned and continued to walk.  “So you’re saying…”  He grabbed her arm and found her with a grin.  "If I were the one on the phone that summer, you would have said yes?"

May tried to conceal her affirmative answer.  “Maybe!”  She tried but she was no actress for sure.  "Yes, but I would have convinced you to invite Anita as well!  You were always pretty easy for me to convince back then.”

Daniel put his arm around her shoulders as they walked into the Arrival Hall; laughing as they reminisced about the time when she convinced him to dress up as the dying Achilles for Halloween in Grade 9.  He had an arrow with 'Death by Chocolate' inscription on the shaft and had fake blood coming out of his heel.  While majority of their classmates and teachers linked the arrow on his heel to Apollo, only his Gym and English teachers were able to link his shooter to May who was dressed up as Artemis, Apollo's sister in Greek Mythology.  She had an archery set with arrowheads made of heart-shaped chocolates.  His Gym teacher said they were re-inventing Greek Mythology, that Achilles was in fact still alive and well because he was never shot by Apollo but by his sister who held the cure to the poison in the arrow.  Achilles’ death was a disguise because he and Artemis were secret lovers.  And from that theme, they submitted their English project which earned them an A++.
At precisely 15 minutes to three in the afternoon, Emily showed up at the Arrival Hall just in time to watch her parents walking towards May who was cheerfully waving her arms out to receive them.  After May gave her welcoming hugs to her parents, Emily decided to approach for the meet and greet with her parents, Adam and Daniel.  All this while, she intentionally avoided looking at the dagger glances May was trying to send her way for being deliberately late.  As they were all walking towards the parking lot to the minivan, Emily pulled May back to walk slower so she could finally assuage her Maid of Honor for her lack of tardiness.

“You…!”  May wanted to strangle Emily though she wasn’t really super mad at her.  “You did this on purpose, didn’t you?”

“Of course!”  Emily was playfully blunt at first, but she finally smiled apologetically.  “Hey, just so you know, I wouldn’t have done this if Daniel wasn’t here with you!  I’m giving him a chance to man it up!”

“What he if couldn’t make it?  I would have been stuck here all by myself with Adam!”  May gave Emily a shove.

“I made sure! I would never bail on you if he didn’t come with you!”  Emily gave her a cheeky smile.  “So how did it go?”

“Daniel forced him to make reservation at The Four Seasons until after the wedding!”  May told her with a nonchalant facial expression.  “He doesn’t want him staying at my house!”

Emily gasped and blurted an OMG loud enough for everyone to hear.  She wasn’t worried about offending God because she knew God would had been just as surprised as she was.  Everyone stopped to look at her.  She turned to the missionary.  “Sorry Adam!”

He smiled and shrugged.  “I say that all the time!  It’s no big deal!”

May was proud of the progress she was making in her acting until she looked at Daniel.  When he gave her a questioning grin, she faltered and started laughing.  That was when Emily caught on and smacked her good friend in the arm.  Daniel came to May’s defense right away.  “Ethan told me to remind you to behave in front of your parents!  And we also have a Man-of-God among us as well!  So please behave.”

Emily bantered back.  “Protecting my future sister-in-law already, huh?” 

He did not expect Emily to twist things to that degree and she earned a much more forceful smack from May this time.  When Daniel gave May an approving grin, Adam caught it too.

“Future sister-in-law?”  Adam’s choking laughter broke out and he turned to May.  “I had no idea!  May, why didn’t you tell me just now?”  Then he looked down at her left hand.  “Where is your engagement ring?” 

The cat must have caught May’s tongue because she wasn’t able to utter a sound.  She exchanged a glance with Daniel who was just as tongue tied.  She then turned to Emily who looked remorseful for once. 

May only had a few seconds to think.  There wasn’t enough time for her heart and mind to sync and somehow the following words came out of her mouth.  “Umm, the engagement ring is a family heirloom; I told Daniel it was safer in the safety deposit box then on my finger at this time.”

Daniel couldn’t be happier for what she said and Emily was thrilled beyond description.  May was surprised Adam bought her line so well when he congratulated her with a hug.      

Daniel could only smile when Adam shook his hands with earnest joy.  It surprised him as well when Adam took him in a burly hug as if they had been friends since forever.  After the hug, he said to Daniel.  “I’m sure May told you I tried proposing to her before!”

Daniel cleared his throat and nodded.  He managed to exchange a smile with May while she was being congratulated by the Reynolds. 

“So Daniel, how did you manage to get a yes from her?”  Asked Adam.

“Just don’t let her say ‘No’.  That’s the secret!”  Daniel shot May a grin through his sunglasses. 

“Really?”  Emily decided to have some fun.  “Why don’t you tell us how you proposed to May?”

Daniel tried to focus his eyes to send burn through his sunglasses to set Emily on fire.  When that failed, he contemplated making her walk home from the airport.  Then he imagined Ethan beating him up so bad that he might end up looking round and puffy in his Best Man outfit a few days from now.  Putting that thought aside, he gave her a sly smile.  “No, I can’t possibly steal the limelight from your upcoming wedding!  I am not a cruel person!” 

“Like you!”  His sentence had a silent ending which was meant just for Emily.  Daniel’s smile turned very satisfying when Emily caught it loud and clear.  May also caught it and gave Daniel her thumbs up … with her smile.
After dropping Emily and her parents off, Daniel drove Adam to May’s house.  As May gave Adam a tour of her home, Daniel followed behind quietly making it looked as if he was there to make sure everything in the house was in good working order after being left empty for nearly six months.  He was very careful not to show sign that he was seeing her place for the very first time as well.   Though May didn’t want Adam to be suspicious of their ‘fake’ engagement, she didn’t have to worry because Daniel was doing everything he could to send the message across to Adam that she was his … in big bold capital letters.
By the time the technician got the cable and internet hooked up in Daniel’s condo, it was quarter to nine in the evening.  Daniel tried Skyping May to make sure everything was working properly.  When he knew the line was working from his end, he got May to Skype him back using the airplay feature from her iPad and television.  When all the connections were working properly, May stayed on the line while Daniel walked the technician to the door.  She was amazed by the new technology by which he had shown her that morning.  Upon his returned, Daniel was looking at Tessa on his 80” TV screen looking at him with curious eyes.  When Tessa saw Daniel on the television, she was puzzled.  As if she was looking at him through a window, she started to raise her arms towards him.  But when Daniel made no attempt to come to her, her expression grew weary.  May carried Tessa near the screen and when Daniel showed no sign of carrying her, she started hitting the screen with her tiny palms.  A moment later, it was as if she discovered Daniel wasn’t real, she attempted to kick the screen with her tiny feet.

“Woow, baby girl!”  May quickly took Tessa away and sat down on the sofa.

“Maybe she doesn’t like my looks on TV, do I look funny?”  Daniel asked. 

“Yes, your head looks very big and your body is too small!”  May teased.  “You look like one of those caricatures!”

“Hahaha, very funny!”

Tessa started crying.  “Don’t cry!  It’s Danny Gor Gor!”  But of course, the two adults were being all grown up and had forgotten how to say ‘Danny’ in baby language.  Thus, Tessa kept crying.

Ten minutes later, Tessa was still bawling when the doorbell rang.  Bedina opened the door and was glad to see Daniel.  She was carrying Tessa whose head was full of sweat and tears were still running down her redden face.  As soon as she saw Daniel, Tessa leaned towards him.  “Hey Baby Girl!”

May was holding her phone to her ear with one hand while calling Daniel to come to the living room with the other.  Tessa stopped crying and began smacking Daniel on the head, just like what she was doing when she saw him on the screen earlier.  After a few smacks, she stopped and studied his face.  She looked as if she was trying to decide if this ‘Bahee’ was real.  When she was finally satisfied he was the real deal, she put her thumb into her mouth and starting sucking it.  When Daniel entered the living room, Tessa turned to look at Bedina and gave her a somewhat sneaky smile. 

Bedina caught the baby’s smile.  “Yeah, you are happy now?” 

Tessa stretched her free arm to Bedina, closing and opening her tiny palm like she was saying ‘Sayonara!  Thank you! Goodbye!’    

When Bedina reached out to carry her, the baby turned around and rejected her offer.  “You only want Danny Gor Gor?”

“Bahee!” Tessa turned around to correct Bedina.  Then she turned to face her sister.  “Ah Ma-eee!”

“Did you hear that?”  May beamed at Daniel and Bedina though she was speaking into the phone.  “She called me ‘May-ee’!”

“Ah Ma-eee!”  Tessa repeated again – without the ‘Y’ and definitely saying the short vowel for the letter ‘A’.

“No, I think she called you Ah Ma and then EEE!”  Daniel teased and rocked Tessa in his arms. 

“I think Daniel is right!”  Emily said over the phone with chuckles that matched the ones from Daniel and Bedina, who also agreed as she headed towards the kitchen.

“Ah Ma-eee!”  Tessa leaned towards her sister. 

When May took the baby from Daniel with her free arm, he pointed to the phone and mouthed his question.  “Who’s that?”

“Your future sister-in-law!”  May told him openly.

“Correction!  ‘OUR’ future sister-in-law!”  He told her confidently as he sat down next to her and greeted.  “Hi Em!”

“That’s strike three!”  May told him.  “You’re so out of the game now!”

“What are you guys talking about?  Are you two playing some baseball game?”  Emily asked innocently.  “Strike three?”

“Nope!”  Daniel whispered to May.  “It’s going to be a home run when I get to bat!”

Emily seemed to have caught on.  “May!  You guys … oh my!  This is huge!”  She started laughing out loud.  “Daniel is aiming for home run!”

“Oh shut-up!”  May reproached Emily causing Daniel to look at her with surprise. 

“Bahee!”  Tessa stretched her arms out to Daniel. 

Emily couldn’t stop repeating the terminologies of the baseball game and her laughter grew louder and louder.   As if her laughter was sending heat waves across the receiver, May felt her cheeks growing warmer and warmer.  When she knew for certain she was blushing just by the way Daniel was looking at her with a smirk, she threatened Emily with a warning.  “I’m hanging up right now!”

When Emily’s laughter grew out of control, May followed through with her threat.

Could This Be Love – Victoria Acosta