Chapter SIX

I love thinking far back to when I met Dan, I never even thought I would date him. I finished high school and didn want to be staying at home so I volunteered to be helping my aunt with her store inside college. Her store was in a boys dorm. Freshmen had just resumed. I knew some of them because they attended the same high school, or a nearby school, with me. I also knew a lot of the older guys in second, third and final years – I used to stop by at my aunts store sometimes when I was still in high school because the store was close to my school. The boys were really sweet and that made me like going there.

It took a while before I met Dan. He had come to buy snacks at the store.

”Good afternoon ”, he said in a low tone.

”Hello! ”, I replied enthusiastically. ”You
e a freshman, right? ”, I asked.

”Yes ”, he said, nodding.

”But Ive never seen you ”, I persisted.

”You know everybody in this dorm? ”, he asked, amused.

”Pretty much. Ive been coming here for a while, you know? ”

”Ive seen you a couple of times. And you
e right, I didn resume early so registrations piled up for me before my resumption so I spend all-day doing that. I come here to get stuff in the night though and you
e never here ”, he grew conversant.

”I leave when it gets dark. My house is a little far from here, thats why ”.

”You don live with your aunt? ”

”Not at all. Shes married and she lives close to here. But why would a freshman resume late? You don live in this state? ”

”You never miss? ”, he asked, smiling.

”You could say that ”, I was blushing.

”Dan! I told you I was in a hurry! ”, Eric stormed in with a noise.

”Im sorry. I got carried away and… ”, Dan was being apologetic.

”You are wording a girl at my own detriment, yeah? ”, Eric interrupted him and started laughing like he was mocking Dan.

”Eric can greet? ”, I said with a dirty look.

Eric was my senior in high school and everyone knows he lacks common sense. I could bet Dan was only rolling with him because he was unaware of that.

”Sorry about that ”.

”Mm hmmmm ”, I said, rolling my eyes.

He grabbed a bar soap and he said ”add it to Dans bill ”, then he ran off.

”Im sorry about his rudeness ”, Dan said calmly.

His voice was cool.

”Ive known him for a long time. Used to his bullshit ”.

I said that so I could make the atmosphere less tense.

”Im sure you know hes cool when hes well-behaved ”, he defended.

”Eric… Cool?! ”, I scoffed. ”But are you guys really close? ”, I was worried about Dan. Eric didn deserve such a calm friend.

”Hes the first friend I made here and he has been supportive and helping me get familiar with the environment ”, he beamed.

”Eric does that? Wow ”.

I knew Eric was never good for long but I wasn going to be the one to break that to Dan.

He bought what he had to buy and left the store.

I didn find Dan pretty. He was just mid to me like most of the boys. I wasn even attracted the least.

I didn talk to him like most of the other boys. Dan is a quiet person and he only talks when necessary, I respected that.

My best friend, Jane, came to greet me at the store the following month. I got a phone call from her. I picked the call.

”Yo bestie. Whats up? ”

”Im at the dorm entrance but they won let me in! They
e saying something about visiting time ”, she shouted over the phone. She would be rich if she got a penny for being audibly loud.

”You didn tell me you were coming ”, I was caught off-guard.

She loved surprising people and I always looked forward to her surprises.

”Calm down. Just tell them you
e here for Annie ”, I calmed her down.

She was at the store few minutes later.

”My famous friend! You didn tell me you have a trademark already! ”, she was shouting so much.

”Stop shouting. You
e embarrassing me ”, I buried my face in my left palm. I knew she was not going to stop.

”Please shush! How is this embarrassing? I have to hail you please! ”. Jane was always with the drama.

She blabbed for some minutes before she eventually agreed to sit.

”On a serious note, now that youve grown popular in this dorm, you ought to have gotten a new man or almost about to? ”, she moved closer to me.

”Can you ever let me be single in peace? You know I just got over Jim and all the pain he caused me. Theres no need to rush. Jane please ”.

Jim was my high school sweetheart, or better still, bitterheart because theres not much sweetness to him. My love life has never been amazing. There was always unhealthy drama with one boy or the other. If Im being a reference, Id agree that kindhearted people are not lucky with relationships.

”Don give me that! Thats even more reason why you should have a new pick. We know how long it took you to get over that cunt. Look at my baby girl now; glowing and growing so you too, please! You can have guys this many flocking over you and you won pick any! ”, Jane persisted.

”I don have eyes on any particular one of these dorm boys. I can force myself, can I? ”, I threw my hands up in the air.

”I understand that you
e very picky but this is a chance for you ”. Trust Jane never to give up.

”Im happy now and thats all that matters. I would die single before I get with someone like Jim again. You know Jim is even asking to get back? ”

”Hes very mad! Hes not even worth being talked about. Don change the topic here. The boys in this dorm are the only boys I want to hear about! ”

”Lets just see how things go ”, I shrugged.

”Annie is still confused on who to pick ”, my aunt interrupted from inside the store.

Jane and I were in front of the store since Jane came. I didn know my aunt was listening to our conversation, Janes noisemaking definitely caught her attention.

”Good afternoon ma! I didn know you were inside the store ”. Jane is one of the most respectful friends I have.

”Jane dear, how are you? Your friend doesn know whom to pick yet. Shes contemplating between Eric, Josh, Jake and Dan ”, my aunt said confidently.

”Eric? Thats not possible. We just schooled together, thats all. We can never go beyond that ”, I contradicted.

”Shes talking about Eric from our school? No thats not possible please. Stay single instead ”, Jane blurted out.

”You feel me ”, I raised my clenched fist towards hers so she could bump it with her clenched fist.

”But hes fine ”, my aunt stood on her point.

”His problems are beyond that ”, I stood on my point too.

”Aunt, just cancel that Eric ”, Jane disliked him more than me.

”But why would you even say Dan? Dan is so unnecessarily mean to me. I could never stand his meanness ”, I said with an irritated face.

My mind raced back to the day I saw Dan at the dorm entrance. I was coming in and he was leaving so we exchanged greetings.

”Are you just coming to the store? ”, he asked.

”At all. I had a hangout with my friends nearby. Where are you going under this hot sun? You have a class? ”

”My classes are over for the day. Im going to the female dormitory on the next street ”.

”Its so important that you can wait till sunset? ”

”If I don go now, I might be too lazy to go later ”.

”What are you going there for? ”, I pressured.

”Something ”, he refused to spill.

”You have a girlfriend in that dormitory, don you? ”, I looked at him with raised eyebrows.

”Whats your business? ”, he shunned but he smiled.

”So you won tell me? ”, I didn give up.

”Don delay me ”, he started walking away.

e still not telling me? ”

”Mind your business ”, he maintained.

Dan didn follow suit in treating me sweetly like most other dorm boys. He always greeted me but he was sassy, always ready to savage me and put me in my place so I didn even bother trying to be his friend. I willingly remained acquainted to him.

”Whos Dan? ”, Jane interrupted my thoughts.

”Hes one boy like that. Hes very mean. I don even understand why aunt would consider me with him at all. Josh and Jake aren bad though. I don mind ”, I blushed.

”You didn tell me about them. Youve been lying you don have your eyes on anybody ”, Jane pouted.

”I don have my eyes on them but if I had to, Id consider them ”.

My aunt smiled. Jane and I talked about something else.

Not long after the day Jane visited, I stopped going to the store because my screening exam was forthcoming and I had to prepare. I didn go to the store for about two weeks and I missed the dorm so much. As soon as I wrote my screening exam, the dorm was my first stop.

I walked towards the store and on my way, Dan came out from his block coincidentally.

”Hey! ”, I greeted enthusiastically.

”Whats up? Today was your screening exam, yeah? ”

”How did you know? ”, I was surprised.

”Youve not been coming to the store and that was the most likely reason ”.

I was impressed.

”So you noticed? But you couldn ask after me? ”, I sneered.

”I did. I asked your aunt and she confirmed my guess ”.

”Mm hmmmm ”, I doubted.

”We could go ask her if you don believe ”.

”Its fine. Ive done my screening test, apparently. It wasn bad ”

”I trust you ”, he cheered.

”Thank you ”. I threw a deuces up to show my appreciation.

He pulled my wrist and moved towards a close concrete seat.

”You don want to sit? ”, he pointed to the space beside him.

”I don want to get too comfortable, Ill lose track of time ”

”What did they ask you in your screening exam though? Im curious ”, he was still holding my wrist.

I started venting about how my exam was stressful and the roads were blocked and every interesting information. I went on for a few minutes. The whole time that I was talking, I was staring blankly at a distant field. I caught a hold of myself and looked down at Dan to be sure he was listening to me. On looking down at Dan, he was using his pupils to ransack my face. He had his eyes tracing round my whole face like he was studying it. In my entire life, no one had stared at my face so attentively. He didn stare lustfully, he stared adoringly. I didn need a foreteller to tell me Dan felt something for me. I noticed Dan was beyond mid. He was fine, I didn find him pretty yet but I found him finer than most of the other guys.

To prevent the situation from getting awkward, I just continued talking.

”Let me get your number ”, he interrupted me.

”My phone has issues so I don text ”, I was reluctant.

”It doesn matter. Ill call you. I don like texting ”.

”Ill make you like texting ”, I boasted.

e that confident? ”

”You bet. But you
e really shy and you don talk much so that might hinder my influence ”.

”You just have to be a little patient. Ill get past it after a while ”.

”I could do with that ”, I didn have a choice.

e serious? ”

”Most of my friends were shy at first but after getting to know me, they unleashed their activeness ”. There were too many shy people around me.

”Thats really understanding of you ”, he was impressed.

I strained my eyeballs because how shocking could the day really get?

He saw it and just smiled. I put my number in his phone.

”Where were you headed before I delayed you though? ”, I had spent a lot of time with him and I still hadn gone to greet my aunt.

”You didn delay me. Its more like I delayed you ”, he solicited.

”So you know how to be sweet like this? ”

”Maybe? ”, he raised his brows teasingly.

”I was heading to the cafeteria. Ill see you around? ”, he stood up and raised his palm to me for a high five.

”See you around ”, I matched his high five and left.

Dan called me that night. He was still really shy so there wasn much to talk about. The conversation was a short one, he probably just wanted to notify me about his phone number. I thanked him for calling.

I didn go to the store anymore that week. I was really fatigued from reading for the screening exam. I needed to rest for days.

Dan called me from time to time to check on me. On one of such days, my phone rang.

I found myself grinning before picking his call.

”Looks like Dan is the new lucky guy ”, my sister hit with her nosiness again.

I ignored her and picked the call.

”Hello Dan ”.

”Hey Annie. How are you? You heard screening results were released, right? ”

”I did not! Since when was it released? ”

”I think yesternight or early this morning ”.

”Its almost evening, yet none of my friends has called me to inform me. How unimportant I must be ”, I was upset.

”I don think you should feel like that. They might be unhappy about the results or busy. Im sure theyll still call you ”, Dan to always gave the benefit of the doubt.

”Thank you so much Dan. I really appreciate ”.

”Its nothing. I thought you said you would be at the store today? ”

”I came but I had to leave early. I asked Eric if you were around but he said you had a class ”.

e still coming today? ”

”Im close to home already ”

”I was really looking forward to seeing you today. Its not cool that you finally came but I was unlucky ”, he sounded so down.

”Im sorry Dan. I had to run an impromptu errand for my mom. Ill come again soon. Don be sad ”

”Ill try ”, he kept sulking.

”Don be like that now. Let me check my results and call you back. Ill talk to you soon? ”

”Im sure you aced the exam. Nice talking to you ”

”Bye ya! ”

”So Dan is the new man? ”, my sister continued.

”You didn even wait for me to hang up! ”, I scolded as I hung up the call.

”So what if he hears? Hes definitely not oblivious of what Im talking about ”.

”Why do you and aunt think well end up dating? We
e just friends ”.

”It starts from somewhere ”, she insisted.

My sister always predicted my next relationships accurately. Even if I didn end up dating her predictions, I always had a non-platonic history with them.

I checked my result when I got home and called Dan to inform him about it. I didn go to the store again that week.

The following week, Dan called again.

”Criteria for being qualified in all departments has been released ”, he mentioned after exchanging greetings.

”I didn hear about that. Youve been really helpful in updating me, thank you so much ”.

We talked about some other things and ended the call.

I always knew Dan was generous, so generous that he volunteered to pay for his colleagues many atimes. He was not even asked to pay, he just always said ”Annie, add his bill to mine ” and it was uncountable how many times Eric had come to buy something and left unpaid with the sentence: ”Dan will come and pay ” and Dan always came to pay.

If there was anything I newly noticed about Dan, he was very kind and extremely caring. I guess his meanness was not genuine, it was only a shell for covering his softness or it was a fence he allowed only people close to his heart to penetrate.

I went to the store again that week.

I bumped into Dan again.

”You look really good today and this fashion concept isn yourregular one. Are you going out? ”, I moved my eyes round hiswhole body.

Coming to think of it, Dan always dressed really nice – eveninside the dorm. Hes still one of the most fashion-consciousguys I know. I loved his outfit that day because he was wearingshorts, I absolutely love shorts on men but even more alluring,he wore a fancy shirt on the shorts. That made the shorts evenhotter and he had dark and very hairy legs. Sexiness was in theatmosphere.

He threw up a deuces to appreciate my comment.

”Im not going anywhere. I just don really wear this shorts so Ithought I should start ”.

”This is my first time seeing you in shorts truly. You don likeshorts?

”Not really. Im very conscious of my hairy legs. If you like it, Icould wear it more often ”

”Please do. I love shorts on men and your legs are hot ”.

”So you finally came to the store ”, his face was beaming. ”You will be coming regularly now, right? Im sure youve rested enough ”, he continued.

”I should. You
e going to the store, right? ”

”Yeah. Lets go ”.

”How come you
e being nice today? I was expecting you to tell me to mind my business as usual ”.

”You ask quite a lot of questions and sometimes, Im just reallystressed from having classes ”, he smiled.

”So you
e not stressed today? ”, I folded my arms across mychest.

”I didn have classes today, plus, Im in a really good moodtoday. Now that youve complained, youll start seeing more of my kindness now ”.

We were randomly discussing and walking side by side without physical attachment. Just as we got in sight of my aunt, he threw his arm across my shoulder. He was taller than me so I looked up at his face and I saw this little fear on his face, he looked like he was scared I would shake his arm off me. I looked away from his face and just played along. My aunt was staring at us as we approached the store and I didn feel comfortable in that situation but I didn want to hurt his feelings. Was he trying to show my aunt he likes me? Or why did he wait to be in her presence before doing that? My mind raced.

When we got to the store, my aunts little children hijacked me from him.

He told my aunt what he wanted to buy and she attended to him.

When he was leaving, I was still engrossed in playing with the kids so I didn notice he was leaving.

”Bye Annie ”, he called out.

”Bye Dan! ”

I stared at him a little as he walked away and looked away to continue playing with the kids.

”Later, shell say she doesn like Dan ”, my aunt said, giving me side eyes.

”Aunty! We
e just friends for real ”.

”I hear you ”.

At that point, I didn think Dan and I were just friends but we weren indicating anything yet so friendship it still was.

In the night, I made to leave.

I saw him at the cafeteria entrance. He had changed his outfit.

”Why did you change your shorts? ”

”I wasn comfortable in it. You know its not my usual style. Sorry about that ”.

e not obligated to dress up for me. Its alright. Why are there so many people here though? ”

”Theres a football match ”.

”Ive never seen you watching a match here. Its a special match? ”

”My team is playing tonight ”.

”What team is that? ”

”Chelsea ”.

”My team is Chelsea too but Chelsea fans aren mean so you should fix up ”, I smiled and gave him side eyes.

”Ive been nice to you recently though ”.

”Took you long enough. Anyway, Im going home ”.

”Alone? ”

”I go home alone. My aunt lives nearby but I live quite far from here so I always have to leave earlier than her, remember? ”.

”I forgot. Isn it dark already? ”, he sounded concerned.

”This is the time I always leave ”.

He was still not convinced, worry was written all over his face.

”If you are so bothered, maybe you should accompany me to the bus stop so you will be sure Im safe ”.

”The match is about to start ”, he was reluctant.

”Exactly so you should just watch. Ill see you later. Bye ”

”Inappropriate to let you walk alone ”, he walked with me.

”Thank you ”, I was blushing.

At the bus stop, there was no taxi. We waited endlessly but no cab was coming. The clouds were threatening.

”Isn it getting too late? ”.

”Nope ”.

”Your parents are cool with you coming home late? ”.

”When Im coming from the store, they understand that I could be delayed. This is a good example of things that delay me ”.

”I wonder why taxis are out of sight tonight ”.

”Im as confused ”.

”You don want to walk to campus gate? ”, he suggested.

”Im too tired for that ”.

”Its not that far though ”, he insisted.

”Unless you
e walking with me, thats a bad idea ”.

”Times really going and Im missing the match ”.

”I know. Its very much understandable if you leave now ”.

”I can just leave you like that ”.

”Ill be fine ”

”Im not agreeing with you ”, he grabbed my wrist and walked hurriedly, ”we have to be fast so I can come back in time for the match ”.

”Thank you for staying with me ”.

I had related with a number of boys and I didn think a lot of them would sacrifice watching their favourite team play for accompanying a girl. I felt really important. I still feel important whenever I remember that night.

After a while, he wasn hurrying again. He calmed down and started enjoying the moment. He released my wrist and locked fingers with me instead. It was a lovely walk. We didn talk much but the aura was filled with excitement.

We got to a dark path that didn have as many streetlights as where we were coming from. He collected the box I was carrying and unlocked our fingers. He then bent his elbow at 90° and shook my hand up his arm till my hand cupped his triceps. We were holding hands like we were entering a dinner hall. He adjusted my gown sleeve, held my box well in his hand and we continued walking. I was really shy but it felt so good. That was the type of sweetness I lived for.

”Why is your hand so warm? Are you okay? ”

”My body is always very warm. My sister uses me for a source of warmth when the weather is cold ”, I explained.

”You don feel cold? ”

”If Im complaining about it being cold, you know its extreme ”, I bragged.

”Im envious. My sweatshirt is always at my arms reach ”.

”I see you wearing it a lot. Its a pretty sweatshirt ”.

We were soon at the campus gate and I got a taxi almost immediately to convey me home.

I thanked him for his time and apologized for disturbing his schedule.

Before I got home, Dan already texted me asking if I was home.

I settled down before returning his texts. Before I started returning his texts, it was raining already.

I texted him; ”did you meet the match? ”

”I did but it was past halftime so there was no point watching it. I just went to my room. My friends summarized it to me when they came ”.

”That was my fault. Im sorry about that ”.

”It was not your fault. Im glad I took a walk with you, thats one of the best times Ive had in a while ”.

”Im honoured you ditched your match for me too ”.

”Im tucked under my blanket right now. The rain is making the weather so cold ”.

”Im literally wearing a singlet. Its not cold for me but my sister is wrapped up too ”.

”So you
e not cold at all? ”

”Not the least. Im sorry you
e cold though ”.

”I wish you were here to share me some warmth ”.

”Me too ”.

That night marked the beginning of our evening walks. We started walking to the campus gate together every night. There were always taxis but we preferred walking. He loved carrying my bag. He carried my bag every night and we both always looked forward to our private night linkups.

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