Fear The Dawn: Chapter 19

When he first awoke, his first thought was that last night couldn't have been real, but as he came to, the sensation of her body against his told him that it had been no dream. He opened his eyes, and she was still sleeping peacefully next to him, just as he had left her.

Still half-asleep, Aidan gazed warmly into her sleeping face, basking in the contentment of waking up next to a loved one. He was not particularly comfortable, it was a bit too warm, his body was still a bit sweaty, and he had been lying in a strange position, but none of that really mattered because she was there. All of the minor inconveniences of his life seemed trivial now that they were together, and he leaned in and gave her a kiss on the forehead to show his gratitude. She stirred a little, then he felt her give him a gentle squeeze and she slowly opened her eyes.

Good morning”, he whispered when her eyes were mostly open.
Good morning”, she echoed, kissing him. “Did you sleep well?”
Wonderfully”, he grinned. “It must have been all that exercise.”
She laughed, coming a bit more awake now. “You surprised me a bit. I didn't know you'd be that passionate, particularly in the middle of the night. What were you dreaming about that you woke up with such desire?”
You, of course”, he said. “I still can't believe you're really here.”
Is that why you've been so passionate?”, she asked, stroking his face with her hand. “Worried that this will all turn out to be a dream?”
They kissed again, with their tongues this time, and snuggled for a while.
Can I get up, or are you still not convinced?”
A little extra confirmation couldn't hurt”, he said, and they stayed in bed a little longer.

Afterwards, she stepped out of bed and walked over towards the couch to collect her clothes, which were still lying there from when they had first become intimate. “Enjoying the view?”, she asked, glancing over her shoulder and finding his eyes glued to her.
Very much”, he smiled. She laughed and wiggled her butt for him as she picked up her clothes.
I know that look”, she said, walking back towards him, still undressed, “That's the 'come back to bed' look”.
He nodded and embraced her as she climbed back onto the bed.
This is the last time”, she warned him, “we can't just do this all day.”
Try me”, he responded playfully.
He didn't let her go so easily that time, and despite her earlier protest, he could tell that she wasn't eager to leave, either.

A bit later that morning Nisha excused herself for a morning shower, bringing her bag into the washroom with her. He considered joining her, but the bathroom in his apartment was far too small for that kind of behaviour, that would have to wait until they got a larger place.
So, what do you want to do today?”, he called to her, still lying in bed.
I'm sorry”, she replied, “but I've really got to be getting home. My parents are already going to be furious that I didn't call them last night.”
Please, at least let me take you out for breakfast. We've only just gotten together, I don't want to leave you already. You can call your parents when you're out of the shower.”
She had the rest of her shower quietly, milling it over, and Aidan took the opportunity to clean up his apartment a bit. It was a total mess and he could tell it would need a lot more cleaning tonight, but he had rarely been more excited to do his weekend chores.

I'll call them”, she said, stepping out of the washroom, “but don't be surprised if they want me to come straight home”. She was wearing a new set of clothes, much simpler this morning, just a dark pair of pants and a deep blue blouse, but she still looked very nice. She had cleaned up a lot, too, her hair was tidy again and she had put on new makeup, and Aidan found himself feeling a bit self-conscious of his current appearance and quickly excused himself to have a shower, too.
The phone is on the table beside the bed”, he said as he ducked into the washroom, “just make yourself at home.”
Being alone in the shower was really the first chance he'd had to slow down and think since last night, and as soon as the water hit his body he found he was both physically and mentally exhausted. “Some things haven't changed”, he thought, “despite it all, I'm still the same person I was yesterday.” He took a deep breath as the water poured down over his body and tried to come to terms with the reality of his current situation. He couldn't hear Nisha talking to her parents over the water, so for a few minutes at least things were just as they used to be every morning. He combed his hair and realized that unlike her, he hadn't had the good foresight to bring a change of clothes into the washroom. There were going to be a lot of new things to get used to.

He felt a bit embarrassed stepping out of the washroom with a towel around his waist, but she barely seemed to notice. “It's silly to feel self-conscious after what we've already been through together”, he told himself, but still he hurriedly searched through his dresser for something more to put on.
All right”, she said, “I called them, but I still can't stay out too long. Where are we going to eat?”
Aidan pulled on his socks, finally presentable again. “I figured we'd just go to that place that's near my apartment. They make great french toast, I lived on that during university.”
And so they gathered their coats and left for the diner near Aidan's apartment. It actually felt a little strange now just to sit down, eat, and talk about little things like they used to, but he knew he'd just have to get used to it. He didn't just want her to share his bed, this was about a lot more than that. After they ate, he walked her home and returned to his apartment. Despite his earlier protests, it was the middle of the afternoon now and he wasn't at all sad to have the place to himself. The very first thing he did upon returning home was to get back into bed and take a nice, long nap.

By the middle of next week he had largely come to terms with it all, and it was remarkable how much pressure it had taken off of him. He didn't feel anxious about seeing Nisha in the evenings anymore, now that he knew she returned his feelings and their relationship would continue even if he didn't see her on the train every night he was free to just relax and enjoy seeing her when he could. He was feeling less stressed out about his job as well, now that it wasn't the only thing going on in his life he was able to tolerate the monotony a little better. Having made decent progress on his pile this afternoon, Aidan tilted his chair back and gazed out the window for a moment. The day was clear and sunny and a most of the snow had melted, it was starting to look like Spring. “I should ask Nisha out tonight”, he thought, “there's no reason we can't see each other during the week now.” He enjoyed the view for another minute or so before getting back to work.

He finished his pile a bit early that night and got to his train with a couple minutes to spare. He took a seat by the window to wait for her, very much hoping she would be there tonight. He was greatly relieved when he saw her step onto the train, and he greeted her with a big hug and a quick kiss on the cheek as she took her seat beside him.
Feeling affectionate tonight?” she asked, snuggling up to him.
Just really hoping to see you.”
Well, here I am.” He wrapped his arm around her, and they talked about work for a little while.
Finally he decided to put his plan into action. “I really like spending time with you, Nish. Why don't you come over to my place tonight?”
Sorry sweetie, I have to get home and have dinner. We'll definitely see each other on the weekend, okay?”
But I can't bear to only see you once a week. How about I take you out to dinner tonight, then afterwards we go back to my place?”
She nodded and gave him a knowing smile. “Well, if you're offering me dinner, I don't mind. I'll have to call my parents when we get to the train station, though.”
Of course”, he replied happily, pulling her closer to him.
So where are we going tonight?”
For once he actually had thought things out. “A different place that's by where I went to university. It's nice, you'll like it.”
You've been planning things out for once”, she teased. He laughed, and they joked around for the rest of the ride home.

Luckily for him, the restaurant was still open, though it wasn't exactly where he remembered it and for a moment he was worried he wouldn't be able to find it again. It was a little Italian place that was actually a bit further from the campus than he recalled. “Things really seem different now”, he thought, standing outside the restaurant and looking back towards the neighbourhood he had been through hundreds of times on his way to class. “My university days feel like a completely different life.”
It smells nice”, she remarked, taking a deep breath of the air outside the restaurant. “So, are you planning to eat a lot of garlic and see if I'll still kiss you?”
Would you?”
That depends on whether or not we're having wine.”
He smiled. “Actually, what really makes this place wonderful is their pizza. We used to come here to celebrate after we finished big projects or assignments. But we can have wine if you want.”
University was an important time for you, wasn't it?”, she asked, after they got a table. “I don't think about my college days all that much.”
I suppose it was. Back then, everything seemed so exciting and full of promise. Maybe now that I've met you it makes me remember how I felt back then.”
I'm very flattered”, she said, blushing a bit. “I'm glad I make you happy. Shall we go in and celebrate?”
And so they did, and the pizza seemed to taste even better than he remembered it.

A bit over an hour later they finally got back to his apartment. They watched TV on the couch and cuddled for a while, then afterwards he took her to his bed. It was wonderful to be with her again, he hadn't realized just how much he had come to enjoy her company. He held her close, basking in the warmth of her affection, and knew they'd have to do this more often.
I should get going”, she said, breaking his revelry.
What? Won't you stay over tonight?”
I'd like to, but I don't have a change of clothes, a toothbrush, my makeup, or anything, and we've got to go to work tomorrow. I had a lovely time tonight, but I've really got to get home.”
His heart sank as she got out of bed and started getting dressed. “I was really hoping you'd stay. Next time you should just bring a few things and leave them here, so you could stay over whenever you wanted.”
She laughed. “Oh Aidan. My parents have been very patient so far, but I don't think they'd ever allow something like that until they met you.”
All right”, he said, getting out of bed and starting to get dressed as well. “Let's do it, then. When I can meet them?”
Are you sure you're ready for that?”, she asked, a bit surprised.
Yeah. Things are getting pretty serious. I probably should meet them.”
Well, if you're sure, I can try to set something up with them.”
How about this weekend?”
She laughed. “Are you really that desperate to have me in your bed?”
Well, that and I know I'll be worrying about it until it happens, so really, the sooner the better.”
You have no appreciation for the planning that goes into these things, but I'll see what I can do. Maybe we can all have dinner together. I really do need to get going now, though.”
He looked out the window. It was pitch black, and all the stars were out. “Are you sure you won't stay? It's already very late.”
She nodded. “It's okay, I'll take the bus.”
He sighed. “I'll at least walk you to the bus stop”. She thanked him and they left his apartment, arm in arm.


Well, you're in luck”, she told him on the phone the next evening. “I spoke to them about it tonight and they said that you're welcome to come over for dinner on Saturday evening. It seems they're quite eager to meet you as well.”
That's great”, he said, though he was sweating a little. “I'll see you then”.
Are you okay with spicy food?”
Well, I can eat hot wings.”
Most of the food we have is a lot spicier than that. I'd better make sure they make something mild.”
That's probably a good idea, I might want to kiss you and I'd prefer not to burn my tongue.”
She laughed. “There's a lot you'll have to get used to”. Her tone grew more serious. “Are you sure you're ready for this?”
Yeah, of course. Don't worry about it, I'm sure everything will be fine.”
They talked for a little while longer about little things, which helped him take his mind off Saturday night, though he was definitely a little more worried than he let on. It was really important for him for this to go well, the last thing he wanted was to meet the girl of his dreams and then for her parents not to like him. “I'll get through this”, he told himself. After all, this was the girl he was meant to be with, he'd find a way to make it work.

The next morning Aidan tried to busy himself filling out his forms, but his mind had already checked out for the week, he couldn't help thinking ahead to their dinner tomorrow. Already he was going through hundreds of different scenarios in his head and planning out how he would respond to them.
Aidan, my boy!” his boss greeted him, unexpectedly.
That's a lovely sweater!” he blurted out, still not quite back in the real world.
Why yes, thank you, my wife made it for me. She's very handy that way, though she said that if I spill ketchup on this one I can make my own. Anyway, I had something important to talk to you about.”
What's that?” he asked, wiping his brow.
Keep this under your hat, but I've heard that Anderson is planning to retire this year.”
Oh... which one is he?”
He's one of the members of the executive board. At any rate, if he were to leave, it's likely that one of the managers will be promoted to his position.”
Good luck, sir.”
He chuckled. “That's kind of you to say, but there's something in it for you, as well. If one of the managers was to get promoted, that would open a position at the management level, and they might select one of the more senior clerks to fill that position.”
That got him a bit excited. “Do you really think so?”
Well, keep in mind I don't know any of this for certain yet, but I think you should keep working hard just in case. Who knows what the future might hold?”
Yes, thank you sir!”
He patted Aidan's head and returned to his office. “A manager”. The thought of it really excited him. A manager would get to work on more interesting projects, make more money, and have his own office. “He doesn't know if it's even happening yet”, Aidan reminded himself, but still he found it much easier to concentrate on his work than he had earlier.

Thanks to his newfound productivity, Aidan was actually able to leave a few minutes early for lunch, and he arrived slightly before Dan once again.
Okay, something is definitely going on”, he noted, sitting down with his lunch. “In four years you've never been early for lunch, and now you're here twice in two weeks. Has she really changed your life that much?”
Yes”, Aidan sighed happily.
Dan shook his head. “That sounds nice. I've got nothing planned this weekend. I'm sure the two of you are going to spend the whole time doing exciting things.”
Probably not what you're thinking of. I'm having dinner with her parents this weekend.”
Wow”, he said, looking more surprised than Aidan had expected. “That's a big step. Things are really moving along for you two.”
You think so?”
Yeah, if she wants her parents' approval it means she's really thinking seriously about you. Have you talked about moving in together or something like that?”
He shrugged. “Nothing quite so dramatic, I'd just like to be able to see her without having to plan ahead so much.”
Dan shook his head. “That does it.”
Does what?”
Here you are, making all these great strides in your life, and I'm doing nothing. Well, not any more, tonight I'm asking her out.”
Oh come on”, Aidan said, rolling his eyes, “you can't be serious.”
I really am. She's something special, I can tell. I don't care about the age difference, I'm going to give her a chance, and hopefully things will work out for us, too.”
I'll believe it when I see it.”
Just you watch”, Dan insisted, taking a big bite out of his sandwich. “I'll ask her out tonight after work.”
I wouldn't miss it”, he said, still extremely sceptical. They finished their lunch and returned to the elevator, and Dan assured him one more time that he really would do it.

The rest of the afternoon was fairly slow, as Fridays often were. Everyone was already thinking ahead to the weekend, and some of the higher-ups had already left for the day, taking what little excitement remained with them. This gave Aidan ample time to worry about his dinner with Nisha's parents this weekend, and by the time 6:00 came around he had almost totally forgotten about Dan's promise. It wasn't until he was in the elevator on the way down and Dan stepped inside that he remembered.
So you're really going to do it?”, he asked, a bemused smile crossing his lips as he recalled their earlier conversation.
You bet, just watch me.”
The elevator reached the lobby and the doors opened. Nicole wasn't at her desk, she was already packed up and was on her way out of the building.
Hey Nicole, wait up!”, Dan called to her, practically leaping out of the elevator.
Oh, good evening, Dan, Aidan. I have to get going a little early today, so I was just on my way out. Have a good weekend.”
At first Aidan didn't think he'd actually go through with it, particularly since he was pressed for time, but he was true to his word. “Actually, there's something I've been meaning to ask you for a while. Would you like to join me for dinner at Carson's on Saturday, just the two of us?”
Sure, I'm not busy Saturday evening”. Aidan's eyes went wide, he couldn't believe she actually agreed to it.
Really?!”, he replied enthusiastically, before taking a moment to regain his composure. “Ahem, I mean, shall we say, 7:00?”
She smiled. “I had a feeling you were going to seriously ask me out sometime soon. I've already found a sitter for David for this Saturday, so I'll see you then.”
David?”, he asked, gingerly.
Oh, didn't you know?”, she asked, innocently. “David is my son. Have a good evening, boys, and I'll look forward to our date.” She batted her eyes at Dan, and left the building, leaving the two of them in stunned silence.
Well, no one saw THAT coming”, Aidan offered, helpfully. Dan just stood there, stone-faced, like he'd seen a ghost.
Oh come on, it's not that bad. It's just one date. It's not like you just asked her to marry you or something. If it doesn't work out, that's that.”
She has a kid?”, Dan repeated, his mind only now catching up to that part of the conversation.
She's one hot mama”, Aidan grinned, trying vainly not to enjoy this too much. He wasn't a jerk, but it was hard not to see the humour in this situation.
I'm doomed”, Dan said, hanging his head.
Well, good luck”, he offered, “I've got to hurry or I'll miss my train.”
Okay, you do that, I think I'm just going to curl up behind the desk and wait until Monday.”
That's a terrible idea, because then she'll find you first thing Monday morning and want to know why you stood her up.”
Why do these things always happen to me?”, he lamented, falling into step behind Aidan. “You're so lucky, Aidan, everything works out great for you. You're off to meet this girl's parents, and the two of you are probably going to end up getting married, and me, I just asked a woman out and found out she has a son.”
That's just the way it goes sometimes. Some things are meant to be, and others aren't.”
Poor Dan could barely bring himself to walk out of the building, but Aidan didn't really have time to worry about him. He had his own ordeal to cope with this weekend, and right now he wanted to make sure he saw Nisha to help him keep his confidence up. Talking to her on the way home helped, and he tried to pack all of his weekend chores into Friday night and Saturday morning to keep himself busy, but it was still a long, painful wait until Saturday night.

Saturday night did finally arrive. Aidan took a shower, combed his hair, brushed his teeth, and got dressed for the occasion, wearing a pair of black dress pants, a grey dress shirt, black socks, and a black tie. He studied his reflection in the bathroom mirror to make sure he was ready. He had put on some weight since the last time he had worn these pants, but luckily he was still able to get them buttoned. “I probably won't need to breathe tonight anyway”, he told himself, tucking in his shirt. He took a deep breath, probably his last for the evening, put on his coat, picked up the bottle of wine he had bought as a present, and headed out to catch the bus. He didn't dare walk to her house tonight, he was already having trouble moving in these pants as it was, and he didn't want the wind to mess up his hair. He tucked the wine under his arm as he sat down, and closed his eyes to try to calm his nerves for the night ahead.

It was not a long trip by bus, and he quickly found himself standing outside the door. He knocked gently, and was very relieved when Nisha answered it.
I'm sorry, the prom is at the next house”, she said. She was also nicely dressed, she wore a green dress and her long black hair fell neatly upon her uncovered shoulders, but he might have overdone it a little.
I'm sorry to bother you, ma'am”, he replied.
You look wonderful”, she said, hugging him and bringing him inside. “Thanks for doing this.”
Although he had been to her house before, this was the first time he had ever been inside. The moment he stepped inside the door, his nose was overwhelmed by the scent of their dinner. Nisha had said they were having something mild, but there were still obviously a lot of spices in whatever they were cooking. She led him towards the kitchen, but he could have easily found it on his own. Nisha's mother was working over a pot on the stove, and her father was slicing a chicken, but they both quickly turned to face him when the two of them arrived.
Mom, Dad, this is Aidan”, she introduced him.
Her father stood up first. “Pleased to meet you”, he said, extending his hand. He had a very firm handshake, but after working in finance for several years Aidan was very used to that. “Pleased to meet you”, he echoed.
Her mother was next. “It is a pleasure to welcome you to my home”, she said, very formally. He thanked her and offered her the bottle of wine, which she accepted graciously.
Dinner will be ready in just a few moments”, her father told him.
Is there anything I can do to help?”, he offered.
Oh no, please do not trouble yourself, you are our guest”, her mother quickly declined. “Nisha, please show Aidan to the dining room.”
The dining table was very fancily made up, with fine plates and silverware laid out and an elaborate silver candelabra in the centre. Nisha offered him a chair and sat down opposite him for a moment.
Are they terribly strict?”, Aidan whispered, a bit overwhelmed by the formality of it all.
Oh no, not usually, it's just that this is a big deal for parents, that's all.”
Aidan wondered how his own parents would react to meeting Nisha. They lived far away from here, and he didn't go home all that often. He had told his mother he was seeing someone, and she was happy, but somehow he didn't expect this kind of elaborate ceremony if he took her home. He imagined his father ordering four dozen hot wings and inviting Nisha to watch football with them, and he had to quickly take his mind off the subject so he wouldn't laugh. Nisha's mother entered the dining room carrying a big bowl, and her father followed with a plate of meat, and Nisha herself hurried into the kitchen to help out. There was a lot of food, but thankfully he didn't see anything that he didn't think he would be able to eat. They all sat down and Nisha began to pass the dishes along.

This looks wonderful”, Aidan offered once they had all been served. “Thank you for inviting me”.
You're very welcome”, her mother replied. They took a moment to have a few bites of food, but he knew he had precious moments until the real conversation began.
So Aidan, please tell me about yourself”, her mother asked, right on cue.
He had expected that question, at least. “I work as a financial clerk for a lending institution in the city. We mostly specialize in personal loans and loans for small business.”
Her mom seemed quite pleased with that response. “Oh, a banker! Nisha, you have done well this time”, she smiled. Nisha cringed slightly, but he didn't think anyone else noticed.
So how did the two of you meet?”, he father asked.
We both take the same train in the evening, and one night there wasn't anywhere to sit”. This was actually very easy so far, he felt himself starting to relax a bit. “I thought I was going to have to take a later train, but she offered me her seat, and we introduced ourselves and started talking.”
I was sure you came late on purpose”, Nisha added. “You had been admiring me for weeks.”
Well, I can't deny that”, he smiled. “You really are beautiful, and I was smitten the moment I saw you.”
Nisha blushed. “That's so romantic”, her mother said. “It's just like something out of a movie.”
Actually”, he added, “it probably wouldn't have gone anywhere if it wasn't for her art. She was drawing a picture of the moon over the bay, and we got talking about that.”
Nisha, what have I taught you?” her mother teased. “You know a nice man is interested in you and you're working on a picture?” Nisha blushed even more, and went back to eating to try to draw attention away from herself.
I thought it was interesting. I'd never known an artist before, and she's really very talented. I still have that picture.”
Yes”, her father added, “Nisha was always drawing, even when she was just a little girl. At first, we thought she would grow out of it, but as she grew older she only became more determined to become an artist. In the end, we had to give her our blessing.”
She does seem to be very passionate. She told me about a character she created when she was very young, and she still has a dream to make that into a TV series someday.”
Nisha's father slapped his head lightly with his palm. “Oh no, she has told him about Dream Girl. Our hope to see our daughter married is ruined.”
Dad!”, she protested.
She told me about it on our first date”, he laughed. “It's sweet, though, she's really serious about art, and her enthusiasm is kind of infectious in its own way.”
You are a kind man, Aidan. I think you will make a good husband for my daughter someday.”
Dad, it's a bit early to be saying something like that”, she quickly replied, embarrassed.
He smiled. “Our Nisha is a bit of a strange girl, but she is lucky to have someone who cares for and supports her. You have my blessing, young man, I hope you will make her happy.”
You silly man”, her mother chimed in, “you forgot to ask if he wants children.”
I do apologize, if you are to marry my daughter, my wife insists upon a grandchild. I'm afraid the personality passes down on the mother's side, so good luck to you.”
No, it must have come from you, there is no crazy on my side of the family.”
Excuse me”, Nisha said, standing up and leaving the table. She quickly left the room and went upstairs.
Oh, there she goes again”, her mother said, wearily. “She's always been a very sensitive girl, our Nisha.”
I should go talk to her”, he said, placing a hand across his chest. “Thank you for dinner, it was excellent.”
You are a good man, Aidan, see if you can talk some sense into her.”

Aidan glanced back at the entrance of the house to figure out which room would be hers, and quietly climbed up the stairs.
Hey”, he offered kindly as he walked into her room. She was curled up on her bed, clutching a big teddy bear.
Why do they do that?” she said, upset. “Why would they try to embarrass me in front of you?”
It's all right”, he said, lying down on the bed beside her. “You know how much I like you.”
They don't want me to be happy. They're ashamed of me.”
They're only teasing you, they don't mean anything by it.” He put his arms around her. He thought she might push him away, but she didn't.
I've been teased for my whole life. I hate it.”
Nish, some people tease to be mean, but others tease because they love. I would know, because I love you, too. You're not like anyone I've ever met before, but that's what makes you so interesting.”
She let go of the bear and turned over to snuggle up to him. There were tears pouring down her face, though he didn't know if they were from before or because of what he had just said.
Besides,” he continued, “you tease me a lot, too. Don't tell me you're trying to be mean to me.”
No”, she said, choked up, “you're right. I love you too, Aidan.”
He kissed her and they snuggled for a while. She gradually calmed down.
Thanks for putting up with a strange girl like me” she said, sitting up on her bed.
Don't mention it.” They sat there, looking at each other for a few moments. “Anyway, I suppose now you'll be needing to get another toothbrush?”, he added.
She rolled her eyes knowingly and gave him a playful shove back down onto the bed. “Is that all you men ever think about?”

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