I woke up with a big smile on my face. That was one of the best sleep I've ever had, I thought. My arms extended above my head as I stretched my body to the limit taking in the pleasure of how good it felt.
Suddenly, memories of last night came flooding back and I abruptly sat up. My face blushed furiously as I remembered how I acted in front of Artemis. I looked over to my right and sure enough, Artemis was laying there still sound asleep. He was on his side facing me. He appeared so peaceful, younger even. Without his mischievous eyes and devilish smirk, he looked like a harmless innocent angel.
For the first time since I've met him again, he actually resembled the old Artemis that I used to know—friendly and approachable. My chest tightened at the recollection and once again, I wondered if the guy I knew was still in there somewhere and if he ever thought about the little girl who used to cling to him, wanting him to play with her.
He let out a soft grunt and afraid he was waking up, I quickly got out of bed and silently walked back to my room. I didn't think I could face him if he were to bring up how I behaved last night. While I brushed my teeth, I thought, if I had to, I would deny deny deny. I couldn't straight out admit that I missed him or cared about him. I would be at a disadvantage if I showed my feelings first.
I was extremely scared of being vulnerable. So scared that I was avoiding all the guys that my parents and friends tried to set me up with. I didn't want to invest my feelings and then get hurt like how my friends got hurt. I was not ready and I didn't know if I would ever be ready for it—to take a chance, let someone in, love them wholeheartedly and not worry about the outcome.
After finishing my usual morning routine, I went downstairs for breakfast. Mrs. Sweetmire had everything set up: eggs, bacon, sausages, toasts, and pancakes. She would come every day to clean the house but I never see her until today. I knew her from when I was a kid since she was Artemis's nanny. I wondered if she had been with him all these years, even when he was away at who-knows-where.
I sat down at the dinning table and before I could speculate further, Artemis came down the stairs and sat across from me. I couldn't help but involuntarily blushed. Mrs. Sweetmire came out with two cups of coffee for us.
"Thank you, Mrs. Sweetmire." I said politely.
"You're welcome, dear." She said sweetly and smiled as she walked back into the kitchen.
I felt awkward starting a conversation so I picked up a fork and started digging into my food without making eye contact with Artemis. I didn't realize I was so hungry. I kept eating until he calmly spoke up. "About last night..."
"What's this gala that my dad mentioned the other day?" I interrupted and tried to change the topic.
He was quiet and I decided to look up from my food. Our eyes connected and he easily answered. "Nothing important. Just an annual gala that my company usually gives around this time of year." He picked up some eggs and bacon with his fork and put them in his mouth.
Could he be any more perfect? Did he have to look so elegant even just eating his eggs and bacon?
"What does it mean that it's 'not important'?" I asked curiously.
"It means you won't have to attend." He said matter-of-fact without an ounce of emotion.
My eyes slightly narrowed. He was shutting me out again and I truly didn't know how to deal with him when he was like this. I felt like I would be talking to a wall and everything I said would just bounce right back. At least with the teasing Artemis, I knew how to fight back since he would respond. However, with this aloof Artemis, he was not responding. How would I even go about attacking? I felt defeated before the battle even began.
He was the type that if he had wanted you to know, he would have explained things; if he didn't want you to know, he won't say a word no matter how many times you asked.
"Fine." I dejectedly sighed and I got up to leave without bothering to ask why. He probably didn't want me to go and that was why he didn't even mention it. As I walked up the stairs, my heart felt heavy and my eyes stung as a tear fell down my cheek. I couldn't understand why he didn't want me to go. Was I not his wife? Shouldn't I be next to him when he entered the party? Shouldn't I accompany him as he greet important investors? So many questions without so much as an answer.
Once I got to my room, I closed the door behind me and called my mom. She picked up after the third ring and happily greeted me. "Hi, honey. How's...?
"Mom. Can I get ready for the gala at your place?" I asked hastily.
"Is something wrong?" She asked with concern in her voice.
"No." I lied. "I just wanted to get ready with you since you've been to these things more than me and has a better fashion sense in picking out a dress for me."
"I thought Artemis has already picked out a perfect dress for you." She sounded surprised and so was I. What dress? How come I didn't know anything about it? I would ask him but I doubt he would give me an answer at this point.
"I didn't like the one he picked." I lied again. "Can I come over now and get ready with you? He's busy with his own thing and has to leave early to make sure everything's in order."
"Uh sure honey." She said hesitantly.
"Thanks, mom. See you soon!" I said excitedly and hung up.
I passed by his room and heard him talking to his assistant on the phone so I decided to go downstairs and tell Mrs. Sweetmire that I would be out for a while in case Artemis asked. He probably won't even notice that I was gone.
Fortunately, my parents didn't live too far away. Without traffic, it was only 20 minutes away. I made it just a minute under the expected time. Their penthouse was about the same size as Artemis's but the designs were completely different--theirs were traditional while Artemis's were contemporary.
"Mom!" I ran to her and gave her a big hug and asked. "Is dad home?"
"No. He had to handle some urgent business at the company." She hugged me back just as tightly. "You'll see him later though."
After releasing me, she said with warmth in her eyes and a smile on her lips. "Marriage suits you." She held my face in her hands. "I think we made the right decision in letting you married Artemis."
I wanted to cry but I held it all in and smiled. 'Yes, mom' was all I could muster.
"Come here." She ushered me into a room where a dozen gowns were hanging on a metal rack. "My friend Anna got me these. However, some were a little too tight on me and also too revealing. I think they would suit you much better."
Anna had been picking out gowns for my mom ever since my mom started attending these fancy parties 15 years ago.
My mom and I were the same height and she had been my size at my age. But at her age now, she was a size or two bigger. People have said that if I wanted to know how I look when I got older, I just need to look at my mom. If that were true, I'd be very happy since my mom looked amazing at her age.
"Okay. It doesn't matter too much. I just need a gown and as long as it fits, I'll take it." I said casually.
"You are still so careless about these things." She was giving me a disapproving look. "You're married now. You have to care more about your outer appearance. If not for you, at least for your husband. You wouldn't want to embarrass him would you?"
I rolled my eyes at the last remark. "Okay, mom. I got it. You've been repeating these lines to me since I was a kid—about how I need to care more about what I wear and how I look."
Personally, I thought I looked great. I just preferred the simple styles instead of the over-the-top-look-at-me kind of outfits. Not everything on the runway should be worn casually because some of those outfits were just plain weird looking.
"And look where that got me? You're still the same and haven't listened to a word I said." She said with her hands on her hips.
I laughed. "Okay, mom. I'm sorry but can we just get a move on? I don't think we have time for your lectures today."
After trying on a few of the gowns, I ended up choosing an off-the-shoulder mermaid black dress. It had long sleeves and a bare back with shiny black beadings around the waist.