Happy birthday to my girl,
regardless of your age,
you will always be my treasurable daughter.
May your visions come true and may you find the right things that make you happy.
Del Sol Valley Villa ViVa The Day after Valentine's Day Aria-Grace's 18th Birthday
As customary for Valentine’s Days at Villa ViVa, Liam and Vivien had gone out for a romantic dinner, while AG stayed overnight at her grandparents’ home situated just up the hill for some quality time with them, while giving her parents privacy for an undisturbed romantic night back home.
The next morning, AG returned home, upon unlocking the front door she yelled
“ALERT! ALERT! Everybody please have clothes on, holster the lovemaking body parts and keep it PG-13 – fun time is over, the pesky teen is back in da house! And by teen, I of course mean the GROWN ADULT! ME!”
As she cleared the hallway, she was startled by balloons being tossed at her, as her parents, older brother Nick and his fiancée Adrianna jumped out from hiding around the corner.
“Surpriiiiiise! Happy birthday!” they yelled in unison at the startled, but then laughing Aria-Grace.
“You morons! I just about shit myself! And you came! Oh Nicky! You made it after all, you liar! And you too, Addy! So good to see you! Now it’s a birthday!” Aria-Grace hugged Nick.
“And because I am the bestestest brother in the whole wide world, I brought another surprise for you.”
Nick pointed behind her, AG turned around, and her mouth opened. In the kitchen was Rohan, smiling shyly while waving at her.
“ROHAN! No way! You came! You are here! You are really here!” she exclaimed, then ran over to him, straight into his arms, he caught her, hugged her, while Liam and Vivien exchanged glances, and a huff.
“Be nice, parents …” Nick whispered when he noticed.
“Mind your own business, son! We’ll talk about this very moment again when you and Addy have kids! Especially if you have a daughter!” Liam whispered back, making Nick laugh and Adrianna smile.
Meanwhile in the kitchen Rohan told AG
“Happy birthday! And belated happy Valentine’s Day.” he said, still holding her, until he noticed everyone was watching, so he pulled his hands off and stepped back slightly, but AG put her hands on his arms as if he were a flight risk.
“Oh my God, Rohan, those flowers are gorgeous, thank you, thank you, they are up in my room, do you want to see them? I am so glad you are here, why didn’t you tell me, where is Aryelle? Did you bring her? How long are you staying? Are you staying here at the villa? You will be at the party, right, well of course you will be or …” Aria-Grace rattled down excitedly, until her brother’s amused voice curbed her enthusiasm.
“AG! Remember to breathe, girl! And try breaking all that up into multiple sentences! Rohan isn’t gonna evaporate, you can take your time.” Nick called out, chuckling, as he and the others had made their way to the kitchen and started preparing breakfast together.
“Sorry, I am just so surprised. Why did you lie to me and said none of you were gonna be here? I was so sad! OMG!”
“It’s called a surprise, Aria-Grace. So, well – SURPIIIIIIISE! Yay!” Adrianna laughed.
“Well, it worked. I couldn’t be any more surprised if I woke up with my head sewn to the carpet.” Aira-Grace shrugged, giggling.
The five enjoyed a fun day together, then by afternoon it was time for the birthday party with all the family. Grandpa Blaine had everyone rolling as usual.
Once the dinner party had turned into the gift-exchange, toasts, speeches and roasts, it started to wind down, the guests had broken up into smaller groups, and Aria-Grace walked outside onto the patio with Rohan.
“A beautiful view.” he said.
“Yeah, prettiest at night. I always loved the big city lights.”
“I wasn’t talking about the city or the lights.” he smiled, as her eyes found his.
“Why, Mr. Sharma, I do declare … are you flirting with me? Oh my, oh my!” Aria-Grace mimicked a Southern drawl while fanning herself.
“Doctor Sharma, actually. I insist. When the title is the only thing you have to your name … you know, you become THAT guy.” he winked at her, smirking, obviously joking.
AG giggled, then playfully nudged him with her shoulder.
“Well, doctor, doctor, I have this terrible pain. Right here in my heart. It’s so full right now. I can’t believe you sent me flowers after swearing me to secrecy after our kiss. I take it you changed your mind about the whole covert ops thing with us?”
“No, it was a sort of impulse, and before I could reconsider it, I had ordered them already. I probably shouldn’t have done that; I hope I didn’t cause any trouble for you. If I did, I am truly sorry, that was reckless of me, and I take full responsibility.”
“Huh? Trouble? How? Have you met my family? My grandpa just got through telling the most off-color jokes during dinner, including, once more, the story of my conception in the shower of this very home, while my parents were headed for a divorce. So, if it wasn’t clear, they are all pretty laid-back and not easily shocked, plus I am an adult now. If it’s Nick you’re worried about, don’t be, you think I would be the first and only girl to ever date her brother’s BFF? Seriously?”
“Maybe not, but I am deeply indebted to Nick, and your family, really. Did you know that your grandpa paid my college tuition? I didn’t want him to, but between him and Nick, and the desire to honor my late grandparents’ biggest dream of me becoming a doctor, and my own desire to make something of myself, better myself, I agreed and now he won’t let me pay him back, just keeps cracking jokes and teasing me. Back when my grandparents died, when I was 17, your dad and Nick took me in, let me live with them until Nick and I would go off to college. Back when your parents were not living together, I mean. Trying to date you now seems … greedy. Ungrateful.”
“I know all that, I was there, remember? I don’t need a recap of your life or mine. And nobody would think you were ungrateful. They all want me happy, that’s all that matters. And you make me happy.”
“I have known you since you were a little girl, AG. Maybe becoming a father myself, especially to a daughter, has put a few things into perspective for me. This does feel odd.”
“Wait – are you actually telling me ‘Thanks, but no thanks!’ on my 18th birthday? After sending me flowers, kissing me at Nick’s place and now you are giving me the ‘just-my-best-friend’s-lil-sis’ treatment? I am confused. Are you schizo or something?”
“I am telling you that maybe you should keep your eyes and options open, AG. I … I … care immensely for you, but I screwed up my life. There is no way out for me anymore, I have to see it all through and I am locked in place now. You have so many possibilities to shine, I would only be weighing you down and I can’t even offer you much to make it worth your while, not even much of my time or my undivided attention because I have a baby to take care of. I know everyone always thinks doctors just rake in the dough, and in some cases that may be true, but me, I will never be that type of physician. Besides, my priorities received a major overhaul. My child comes first, my dreams second. Has to.”
“And I am not even third, that would definitely be Nick, I am somewhere in the tiny-print credits at the bottom, IF I even made that list. Nice. I feel SO special.”
“That is NOT what I am saying! Aria-Grace, look at me, please, and try to hear what I am really saying.”
“Then, what ARE you really saying, Rohan? Cos you are sending me seriously mixed messages and it is beyond confusing. You blew me off when I kissed you and told you my true feelings, then you beg me to forgive you, tell me you feel the same, then you kiss me and dance with me, but beg me to keep it a secret. Then you send me flowers for Valentine’s Day TO MY PARENTS’ HOME – a lover’s holiday with a very clear sentiment and implication there, Rohan. You come to my birthday party, even if you had to hand over your daughter to her grandparents, which I know is probably driving you bonkers, yet, you finish off a perfect day with a very cruel ending by giving me the ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you!’ blow-off speech.”
“AG, please, that is NOT at all what I was trying to say. Don’t you see that I am trying to restrain myself, for YOU, so you can find REAL happiness, the kind I can never give you. Not because I don’t want to or am too lazy to put in the effort, but because I simply … can’t. I can never give you the life you deserve. You deserve the world at your feet, the best of the best of everything. Diamonds and pearls, luxury, excitement – not the daily grind of a resident doctor with a crazy work schedule, who happens to be a guy reeking of dirty diapers while wearing baby-puke-stained clothing most of the time he is not working. I am not even that great looking, I got nothing to offer you. Plus, I am freeloading at your brother’s place, who is about to be a married man himself, so having his friend plus baby living with newlyweds is just not right, but all I will be able to afford in the foreseeable future won’t be any place you’d like. The very last thing I would ever want to do is cause you misery and make you hate me for it, AG. Don’t you see that? It’s not that I don’t want to, believe you me, I do – it’s that I know I can’t measure up to ViVa’s prodigy daughter. Your mother and her family are world-renown celebrities. Half the people I work with couldn’t pick me out in a line-up, let alone scrape together my full name! I am literally a NOBODY.”
“Okay, let me cut the flow of complete moronic bullshit off right here, cos I can’t take any more. My grandpa always says, you don’t know until you try. What you are doing is guessing and making it sound factual. You guess on what things would be like, what others would think and what I really want. Don’t make it sound like you have all the answers, nobody does. Maybe you’re right, and you and I would be one big mistake. Maybe you’re not. But I will tell you this: I don’t need you or any other man for that matter to put the world at my feet. If I want luxury and fame, you best believe with my background, I will make it so. I don’t need someone to hand me success. I am not a helpless, brainless, spineless damsel in distress!”
Aria-Grace’s voice changed slightly. “Rohan, I really thought after the way the last time at Nick’s went, and yesterday and now today, that we were headed down a very different direction than this BS right here. I thought that on my fucking birthday the only thing you would be breaking would be my bed, and not my heart!” Aria-Grace had talked herself into a rage, tears welling up her eyes now, as she turned to run off, but Rohan grabbed her.
He pulled her back to himself.
“You didn’t really hear me, AG. Don’t leave. Please, don’t go. That is literally the very last thing I want, which is why I am saying what I am saying. The thought of losing your completely, of you looking at me like others do, like Esmée does, with pity and disgust, that is what scares me most. You and Nick – and Aryelle – are all I have.”
Then he kissed her, she melted into the kiss as she had in Nick’s living room.
As the kiss ended, Aria-Grace looked up to him, pain and fury still reflecting in her eyes, along with confusion.
“This is messed up …” she whispered.
“I am sorry, AG. Again. See, this is why everything is a mess. I know what the right thing to do is, but when I am near you, I cannot remember what that was, all I can think of is you, how beautiful you are, from the inside radiating out, how you feel in my arms, your lips, your scent … you.” Rohan’s voice cracked and faded away.
Closing his eyes, he inhaled, cleared his throat and continued.
“But then I DO remember who I am and who you are and what my life is like, the world we live in, and I know I messed up again. This is what I want, but it’s not fair to you. Maybe you don’t see it now, but I do. And I fear that once you do, you will hate me for it, for what I am, what I am not and what I can never be.”
“What the fuck, Rohan?! You can’t keep doing this to me. Okay, that’s it now! I am done with the cat and mouse game! No more of this pulling me in and pushing me away. We have officially reached a crossroads. You have to make a choice tonight, no reasoning yourself out of it. It is going to be a do or don’t, but it will determine who and what we will be to each other in future. No mulligans, no back button, door one, or door two, and you have to live with your choice, we both will.” Aria-Grace’s voice was firm, despite the sound of tears wanting to come, but didn’t.
She looked firmly into his eyes when she continued.
“I am going back inside now, ALONE, tell everyone goodnight, thank you and goodbye, then I will go up to my room and to bed. The door will be unlocked. You know what to do, and don’t think for one second that you can get away with some childish crap like laying there next to me holding my hand or some bullshit. If you don’t show up, we’re done, Rohan, but if you do show, bring condoms! THAT is your choice. Your two ONLY options. Your final chance. Yes, that’s right, you turned me into THAT girl, who is resorting to giving an ultimatum. Be my lover tonight, or never be more than my brother’s best friend to me. That means, if you come near me for anything other than a friendly hug, I will kneel you in the balls so hard, you’ll be coughing them up! Choose wisely, it’s final. Don’t test me on this, I mean it.”
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Yup, a cliffhanger.