Luna snapped out of what seemed to her to be a trance, she pulled herself away from him and stepped backward, “I’m going back to the room,” She said.
“Wait, don’t go!” He grabbed her hand and tried to prevent her from leaving, but she shook her hand.
“This is going too fast…..” She said, “We’ve only known each other for a few days and you’ve just lost your wife. Umm, I don’t think it’s a good idea to, you know, whatever this is, so soon.”
Luna turned around and ran to the beach, she picked up her belongings, clasped them to her chest and rushed back to her room. She couldn’t understand why her tears are falling down her cheeks and a sudden sadness gripped her heart. She washed the sand off her feet in the clay bucket that was on the bottom of the stairs before running up and entering her room. She threw herself on the chair folding her knees to her chest and resting her forehead on it. Her body was still shaking uncontrollably from the kiss that she shared with him a few minutes ago. Luna lifted her head and touched her lips with her fingers, she could still feel his warm and soft skin there.
“Luna…” She heard Panji’s voice at the door followed by a gentle knock, “Let’s talk about this…”
She got up from the chair and walked to the door, Luna leaned her body against the door, she didn’t want to open it, “Go away!”
“I’m sorry, okay?” He said softly through the door, “I didn’t mean to offend you. I was caught up in my feelings.”
“I’m not offended. I’m just….unsure…..” She replied.
“Open the door, please. I promise I won’t do anything out of line.”
She took a deep breath, considering his request, after assuring herself that there will be no harm in it, she grabbed the doorknob and turned it. She saw him standing at the door, his face obviously showing concern, he solemnly said, “I’m sorry, I really didn’t mean to offend you, I think I misunderstood your kindness towards me. You know, I like you, I like you a lot, I thought that you felt the same way, that’s why I…..”
“I like you too…” She said cutting his words.
His eyes shone, “You do?”
She nodded biting her lower lips nervously, “I like you too, but…”
“But can we take it slow? I don’t want to rush things.” She paused, “I think right now, you’re still not done grieving over the loss of your wife. I don’t want to be your diversion.”
“Luna, you’re not a diversion or a replacement, you never are and you never will be, not for me. After meeting you again, I’ve realized that you’re the one thing that I ever really wanted,”He tried to explain.
“Meeting me again?” She arched her eyebrow, not apprehending his words.
Panji exhaled, “Let me prove to you that I’m serious about you, give me time to show you how I feel.”
Luna smiled halfheartedly and nodded slightly, “Okay,”
“Can I start by taking you out for dinner?” His voice was wistful.
“Only if the food isn’t too spicy.”
“I promise! Now go shower and change, I’ll be back in an hour.”
* * *
Panji only left after she had closed the door. He walked to his room half-heartedly, doubting that she was really willing to give him a chance to convince her about his feelings for her. Once he was in his room, he reached out for his wallet that was in the back pocket of his Bermuda shorts, as he sat slowly on the bed, he opened the wallet slipping his fingers into a hidden pocket that he cut out between the leather and the fabric layer.
He took out a folded piece of paper, an old polaroid photo. He opened the folds carefully and looked at the photo, If she knew who he was, how would she react towards him?
His mind traveled back to that time.
* * *
“So how come you’re just randomly giving me a gift?” Luna asked while clasping the pendant, although she was trying to sound like she was protesting, but she couldn’t hide the big smile on her face.
“It’s not a random gift.” He replied shyly.
“Then what’s the occasion?” She chased for an answer.
“It’s for the four months anniversary of our friendship.” He blushed, “This day, four months ago, I first saw you walking into the principle’s office.”
“Sam….” She looked touched by his attentiveness.
He bashfully held her hand that was on the carpet as they were sitting side by side on the floor of her living room. His heart thumped when she didn’t try to evade him, instead she sat still bowing her head clasping her lips together nervously. This made him feel bolder, he clasped her hand tightly shifting his body closer to her. Finally, they sat pressed against each other leaning against the couch.
“I like you,” He dared himself to confess. He glanced at her to see her reaction, she smiled shyly as she nodded. He sighed with relief.
He glanced at her to see her reaction, she smiled shyly as she nodded, “I like you too…” She whispered.
“Will you be my girlfriend?” He asked as he licked his lips, his mouth dry from the heightened sense of nervousness.
She nodded again.
“Really?” His voice pitched with excitement.
Suddenly he felt her lips pressing against his cheek again.
They sat silently for several minutes, too shy and awkward to speak, Panji took a deep breath to give himself the courage to make his move. He circled one arm around her shoulder while the other hand held her chin pulling her face to him. He swooped forward pressing his lips on hers.
Whether it was raging hormones of adolescence or curiosity, she responded to his kiss, giving him leeway to be more courages, experimenting with his tongue to push open her lips and explore her mouth. He could feel her body tensioning as if to reject him, but then she loosened up and allowed him to kiss her more passionately.
Before long, they heard a car pulling up in the driveway. They both bolted away to the opposite side of the coffee table in front of them and pretended to be immersed in their homework.
The door opened as Luna’s mother entered the house, “Hey, you two are so diligent doing your homework at this time of day.” She praised.
“Hi, Ma,” Luna greeted, “You’re home early…”
“I didn’t have classes today. I’m going to the kitchen to make you some snack.” She looked at them with pride, she walked to the cupboard at the end of the room and took out a polaroid, “I have to take a picture of this, it’s not like you’ll stay kids forever.”
Both kids looked at her and posed for the picture from each farther side of the table.
“Oh come on, move closer together, make it look like you’re really friends with each other,” Luna’s mother said as she peeped through the polaroid lens.
Panji and Luna glanced at each other, they moved to the couch sitting closely side by side, he dared to put his arms around her shoulder as she leaned her head in. There was a flash of light and the moment became immortalized on a piece of photo paper, twice.
“This is for you,” Luna’s mother gave one photo to Panji and the other to her daughter, “Now go on with your homework, the snacks will be ready in a few minutes.”
* * *
He took a deep breath calming himself before knocking on her door. Panji smoothed out his white cotton shirt and made sure that his collar was straight as he fidgeted nervously. She seemed to be taking her time at answering the door, could it be that she changed her mind?
He lifted his hand to knock again when the door suddenly opened, he couldn’t help but gasp when he saw her, she was wearing a knee long white halter neck dress, her seamless makeup, and long hair made her look exotic.
“Is there anything wrong?” She asked seeing his face.
He shook his head, “No, you look gorgeous, like Dewi Kamaratih the Goddess of Love dscending from the heavens.”
Luna cringed, “Where did you get that pickup line from? How to pick up chicks for dummies?”
Panji laughed,”You take my breath away.”
She smiled sweetly,”Where are we gioing?”
“To find a place with good food and good music!” He took her by the hand and lead her towards the stairs.
* * *
“What do you think?” He asked almost shouting so she could him over the loud music.
“Great place, live music, pool table, western and local food, oh, and cocktails.” She scanned the menu.
“Feel free to order what you like,” He grinned, “Courtesy of the client.”
“Don’t you think it would be very shameless of us to spend a lot of money on food?”
He thought for a while, “You’re right, let’s charge half of the expenses to Roni.”
She laughed, “I want a grilled meat and orange juice, and while we wait for the food, I want to try a margarita.”
“Are you good at holding your liquor?” He asked.
“Never had any, that’s why I want to take advantage that I’m far away from my father or anybody that may know me, to try it out.”
He looked to the waiter, “I’ll have the same as the lady.”
“Excuse me,” The waiter said after he took the order.
“Do you like to go out to places like this?” She asked Panji.
“When I was younger, in college,”
“Ah….I suppose after people get married, they tend to like staying at home.” She nodded.
Panji felt uncomfortable hearing her mention his earlier life again and again. He wished that she would look at him passed his widower status and just as a man who wants to be near her.
She seemed to pick up on his unsettledness, “I’m sorry that I keep reminding you of the past.”
He smiled ironically, “Don’t worry about it. Why don’t we talk about you? Any past flares? Besides Roni, I mean.”
She shrugged, “No….none. And there is nothing between Roni and me”
The waiter arrived with the drinks
“Why? You are a very attractive woman, I’m sure that you have many pretenders.”
“I can’t say I don’t,” She stirred the content of her glass with the straw then stated, “My father is very protective of me, he made sure that boys don’t try to come anywhere near me. But most of all, I dont want to be in a situation where I would get hurt, emotionally and physically.”
“I’m sure that as a father he makes it his number one priority to protect you.” He agreed.
“He’s the best father in the world. In my eyes, at least.”
“Mmm, But he did try to marry you to a widower….” Panji wanted to gauge her true opinion.
“He meant well,” She looked down at the table sipping her drink, “I’m not exactly what you would call a prize wife material, maybe he thought that it would be better for me to marry a man who has already been with another woman. That way he won’t expect something that I can’t give.”
“How is that?” His voice was becoming dark.
She forced a smile, “Hey, we’re here to have a good time, so let’s do that!”
“I’m….I’m sorry…. ” He whispered to himself. “I never thought that I would cause you so much pain.”
“I love this song….” She changed the subject.
Panji looked at her discretely, a mixed feeling of guilt and repentance clouded his mind as he remembered the past.
* * *
“Hey, why don’t we go to my place instead? You’ve never been there,” He said as they were leaving the school building. He held her hand tightly in his. Everybody at school knew that they were close, but now he wants all their friends to know that they were together, and that’s why he insist in holding her hand everytime he could.
She considered his invitation for a few minutes before finally agreeing, “I suppose that’s only fair.
This provoked a wide smile on his face, “Come on!”
His house was just a few miles after hers on the school bus. Luna admired the interior of the house, how it was modern and stylish.
“Where is everybody?” She asked seeing how they were alone in there.
“There was an event at the consulate, muy aunt and my mother went there to socialize.” He explained.
“Ah, that’s right, my parents mentioned that.” She nodded.
“Come on, let’s go upstairs to my room, I want to show you my model car collection.” He took her by the hand and lead her up the stairs.
“Nice room…” She commented, “I dont understand why you want to show me your model car collection, though. It’s not like it would interest me.”
“That was just an excuse to get you into my room,”He grinned cheekily as he pulled her into his arm and began kissing her.
“Umm, someone might come home and see us.” She pushed him away.
“They won’t be here until seven, come here,” He pulled her to the bed.
“I don’t know about this. I don’t know if I’m ready.”She cried.
“Come on, you should prove to me that you love me too. You’re my girlfriend, this is something that people in love do.” He insisted.
“But I can’t, this is not right. We’re not married to each other.”
“Shhh…..if anything happens, I’ll take responsibility. I promise.” He coaxed her again.
He pushed her on the matress and lifted her skirt, she hesitated but didn’t reject when he grabbed both of her wrists in his left hand and pressed it down against the bed above her head. His right hand free to remove the barriers that remain.
“Sam….” She whispered.
“Luna, I love you so much,” He sighed then sealed her lips with his to stop her from saying anything else.
She responded to his kisses, but then muffled a scream and cried, caused by a sharp pain on the lower part of her body, as he burst into a pleasure that he had never known before. He fell limp on top of her, letting go of her hands and breathing heavily. She pushed him away and sat up, her eyes were filled with tears, her hands clutching the area between her legs. She quickly stood up and fixed her clothes.
“You’re mean….” She cried.
He sat up too and grabbed her wrist, trying to stop her from leaving, but she pulled her arm away with all her strength and ran. He felt something moist on the palm of his hand that was on the soft matress, he pulled his hand up to see what it was, it was blood. Guilt flooded his consciousness like a tidal wave, suffocating him and causing his head to spin out of control.
“Luna….” He finally managed to get his mind together and run after her. He caught up to her on the stairs, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me, I should have been more gentle.”
“Sam, I hate you!” She pushed him away.
He only held her tighter, “Forgive me, okay? Don’t go away angry like that, don’t hate me, please.”
She dropped to the floor grimacing in pain.
“I’m very sorry,” He repeated as he sat on the floor in front of her and hugged her. “I promise I won’t hurt you ever again, I won’t ask you to do this again.”
“Promise?” She looked at him.
He nodded assuringly, “I promise.”
She leaned her head on his chest, “It hurts.” She sobbed.
* * *
“Earth to Panji…” Luna called as she saw his eyes staring into space.
“I’m here,” He replied.
“Umm, I didn’t say anything that brought you bad memories, did I?” She asked.
“No,” He reached out across the table and touched her cheek, “I just realized how bad I am at keeping my promises.”
“What promise was that? Did you borrow money and forget to pay?” She teased.
He shook his head as he continued to caress her cheek, “I promised that I wouldn’t hurt the person I love, but I ended up causing her a lot of pain. But now that I’ve finally found her, I won’t let that happen again, no matter what it takes.”
“You’re wierd!” She looked at him stragely.