The apartment was finally quiet. There was no more shouting or excessive laughter, just the steady hum of the air-condition. I took one last look in the room before closing the door behind me, leaving my friends passed out from all the alcohol intake. I proceeded downstairs to clean-up, but I was only half-way down when I heard the door click open.
My eyes met with the most gorgeous pair of golden-brown–so bright and clear that it nearly took my breath away. The sides of his mouth twitched up as he took in his surroundings, a quiet chuckle escaping his throat. The rest of our friends were sprawled out on the couch–some with mouths open and the others in awkward positions as they slept.
“Hey, Aria,” he greeted as his eyes found its way back to me. A slow smile formed on his face–a smile that seemed so contagious that I couldn’t help but smile back. “You still up for another drink?” he asked, gesturing to the few bottles of whisky left on the kitchen counter.
I shook my head. “I’ve had enough drinks for tonight, Keith. I still have to take my friends home.”
He walked towards me in long strides and took my hand. He pulled me closer towards him, the stair’s railings being the only thing between us. “You’re leaving already?” It almost sounded like he wanted me to stay and that made my heart beat
An amused smile crawled up my lips. “We’ve been here for nearly five hours already,” I told him. “You kinda missed out on all the fun.” My smile faltered when I remembered why he hadn’t been around.
He had been out drinking with his girlfriend while the rest of us had been hanging out here. And when he finally joined us, he stepped out to talk with her on the phone for nearly an hour. I felt a small ache in my heart knowing that but I made sure that the hurt didn’t show.
A look of regret dawned on his face, but it quickly passed–so fast that I almost missed it. “You can’t stay a bit longer?” he asked.
“It’s already 5 am in the morning,” I stated. But I wanted to stay. I didn’t want this moment to end so fast–with his hand holding mine and our faces just inches apart. “But I guess we can stay for another half an hour or so.”
He grinned at me from ear to ear–so wide and bright that his eyes seemed to gleam despite the lack of light in the room. He leaned in closer, so close that I could feel his breath fan my cheeks. “You still haven’t told me by the way.” he said, his eyes glinting with a hint of mischief.
“Told you what?” I asked, my voice coming out a bit hoarse from his nearness. My sight flicked to his lips involuntarily, and I swore that there was a smirk hidden in that grin of his.
“Have you found someone you like, Aria?” His question took me so much by surprise that my heart started to beat triple time.
I searched his face, hoping to read further into his words or catch a glimpse of his true feelings. But where I could be read like a book, there was no way I could decipher the way he acted towards me.
“Maybe,” I replied. “Why do you want to know anyway?”
He shrugged. “Just curious.” His eyes never left mine. He just continued to gaze at me with a look I could never understand. “So who is it?”
“That’s a secret,” I told him, giving him a cheeky smile.
“Aw, come on. Just tell me,” he prodded.
I was having an internal debate with myself then. I liked him–no one else but him. I had never liked someone so much. I wanted to tell him that–I wanted to just blurt out all those feelings I’ve kept pent up for years. But I couldn’t. The words were right there at the tip of my tongue, but it just wouldn’t come out. I was scared that this friendship–this closeness we had–might disappear. But I just couldn’t leave him hanging.
He was closer now–so close that our lips were only a breath apart. He squeezed my hand tightly as his gaze flicked from my lips and back to my eyes. The action only made my heart beat so loud and so fast that the presence of our passed-out friends and their soft snores weren’t enough to ruin the moment.
I was about to tell him when I heard the bedroom door open. I quickly pulled away and looked up the stairs, taking my hand away from his. I could still feel his intense gaze on me, his eyes soaking me in as he looked for an answer himself.
My friend burst out the doors, staggering in her steps. Her words came out slurred as she said, “We really have to go now.” Even with her interruption, the atmosphere still felt so heavy and intense.
I nodded at her. “Alright. Gather your stuff and wake up the others.” I turned back to look at Keith and gave him a small smile. “I guess I have to go now.”
He looked at me for a while longer then nodded. “I’ll walk you out.”
We both walked side by side together, neither of us looking back into each other’s eyes. I felt my cheeks heat up as I remembered that small moment we had by the stairs–his face so close to mine that I could hear his breaths as they fanned my face. I let my hair form a curtain around my face so I could hide my embarrassment.
We got passed the door and he walked me all the way to the car. It was only then that I turned around to face him. “Thanks for tonight,” I told him, sending him a bright smile.
He nodded at me and smiled. “Good night.”
I looked up at the sky seeing the sun beginning to rise. I gave a small laugh as I shook my head. “It’s ‘good morning’ actually.”
He sent me a mock glare then began laughing, too. “Same thing,” he simply replied, his eyes shining golden as he smiled widely at me.
An awkward silence fell upon us, both of us avoiding each other’s gaze once again. We both wanted to say something but couldn’t find a way to let it out. But when I finally spoke, the words weren’t the ones I wanted to tell him.
“Bye,” I finally said as I turned around to get into the car. But then I was stopped by a pair of strong arms encircling me from behind. My body stiffened from the sudden contact and my eyes widened in shock. His head rested on top of mine, making me feel the vibrations in his throat when he talked.
“Bye,” he told me, and I felt myself blush five deeper shades of red.
I was scared to hug him back though–I was scared to turn around and face him with the truth. So instead, when he let me go, I looked back at him and shot him a smile so full of the feelings I felt for him. “Good night, Keith,” I told him, my voice so full of warmth and raw emotion. If only he could sense it there. If only I didn’t need to say the words for him to know.
“Good night, Aria,” he said as I got into the car and closed the door behind me.
My friends finally got out of the apartment and climbed into the car. As we drove away, I caught a glimpse of Keith still standing there, watching us leave. His figure began to disappear as the distance between us grew and I could only stare at the slowly rising sun.
Will I ever be able to tell him the truth? Will I ever be able to tell him that I love him?