27th October XXXX
....Do you ever feel out of place? Like somehow you just don't belong and no one understands you...
I woke up from the sound of Simple Plan's Welcome to My Life blasting loudly near my ear. I tried to blindly find my phone, which I always place beside my pillow, by tapping that small area of the bed. When I finally found the culprit, I grabbed it and cracked an eye open to see the alarm off button and stop the freaking music which sounded more like a noise. My eyebrows furrowed when I realized that it was not an alarm going off.
The name that appeared on the caller ID was one that I did not recognize. What the hell? Who was this person calling me? Who the hell would call me at seven in the morning? And who changed my ringing tone? Unable to think properly, I sat up in my bed and answered the call, one hand scratching my head as I did so.
"Hello?" I answered, uncaring at how grumpy or rude I sounded. Whoever was calling me freaking woke me up early on a Saturday!
"Hey, Angel! Or should I say...grumpy?" The male voice on the other line greeted too cheerfully for the morning. What the hell was he talking about? I am not Angel. Was he calling the wrong number?
"What?" I asked impatiently. I have no plan of dealing with his nonsense whoever he was.
"I see that you're not a morning person, Danica." The guy answered, his voice giving off a little bit of his amusement. How did he know my name? Oh, stupid Dan! He was calling your phone number, so of course he knew you. But his voice did not sound familiar to me.
"Who's this?" I asked, still impatient, furrowing my eyebrows as I thought of a person with similar voice. None.
"Guess who?" He answered teasingly. What. The. Hell. Does he not realize that I don't want to deal with his nonsense?
"I'm hanging up." And I did as soon as I said the words. But before I could throw the phone at the other end of the room, the same caller ID appeared on the screen, and another round of the same song blasted off my phone. I thought better than to reject the call. If this was not going to be anything important, I'm blocking this caller.
"This is Jacob." He said sighing once I answered the call. Jacob? I did not know anyone with that name.
"Jacob who?" I asked and tried to think of my friends or acquaintances who has the name of Jacob. No one came to mind. He could not have been calling the wrong number since he knew who I was. Coincidences could not be that simple.
"God! Was it too early for your mind to work?" He cried and I nodded only to realize that it was a dumb move. He couldn't see me for heaven's sake! "We met last night remember? At the park. I brought you to the cafe. You were..." He trailed off and I began to think of yesterday's events. I just woke up and my mind was yet to function properly. My memory seems to be nothing but a blur of things as I tried to remember yesterday's events. Just what happened? "....drinking hot chocolate?" He continued sounding unsure.
Hot chocolate? What was he...
"Oh! Max's hot chocolate!" I blurted out when I remembered what he was talking about.
A vague image of an old man in his early thirties with a bright smile flashed in my head. It was followed by a blurred image of a cozy, dimly lit cafe. Then a hazy image of a guy who's back was facing me as he held onto my wrist appeared. Slowly, more blurry images appeared inside my head, like a motion picture in slow motion. As I recall all of yesterday's events, my eyebrows furrowed. Wasn't all of those just a dream...a nightmare?
A guy named Jacob was part of yesterday's memories. So all of that really happened? All of those dreadful things were real? Yesterday was such a disaster. I thought I was a goner. I found out that my boyfriend was cheating on me. I realized that my best friend was betraying me. I was crying my heart out. And, I met Jacob. So, I do not have Rick and Jess anymore? For real?
I stared at my midnight blue blanket as I processed everything in my mind. My sight was blurry as tears rimmed my eyes. Everything was real. Not an illusion. Not a fraction of my imagination. Not a prank. Not a lie. All of it were nothing but the truth. I was pulled out of my thoughts by the caller's voice, bright and teasing. I have almost forgotten that I was still on the line with the caller named Jacob. "Hey, Danica? You still there?"
I gulped, willing the lump in my throat I did not even realize was there to disappear. "Uh, yeah, sorry. What was it again?" I answered hazily as I blinked several times trying to focus on the caller.
"Were you trying to sleep?" He asked, a hint of amusement lined his voice.
"Well, I wanted to. So call me back after an hour or two." I answered and waited for him to respond before I ended the call.
"Another hour?" He cried incredulously. "How about you let me in your place for now? I was already outside your building."
"What?!" His words almost awoken every nerve in my body. I jumped out of my bed, almost tripped on my blanket, and skipped towards the window. True enough, there was a guy leaning against a car. I tried to squint my eyes trying to see clearer through the distance with my poor eyesight. No effect. All I could make out was the figure of a guy in light colored shirt and dark colored pants. Maybe I should reconsider that laser thing for the eye.
"You forgot didn't you?" He sounded upset. Forget what? I tried to squeeze my brain even more for the piece of information that I needed but nothing came to mind. A brief moment of silence fell upon us before he continued. "You agreed to spend today with me, as an apology for mistaking me for a killer. You don't remember?"
I tried to remember once again and fortunately, it came to me. He forced me to agree to go on a date with him today. "Oh, yeah. Did we agree on the time?" I asked, furrowing my eyebrows in confusion. It was only seven in the morning. Who goes on a date that early?
"Nope, but you agreed that it can be as early as possible." He answered as bright as the morning sunshine.
"And your as early as possible is seven in the morning?" I asked my eyes widening in disbelief. He's got to be kidding me.
"Much earlier actually. But I thought you might still be sleeping then. So I decided to be a little considerate and come at seven." No freaking way! I would definitely beat him up if he woke me up earlier than he already did.
"Someone who disturbs my sleep is not welcome in my place." I stated seriously, shooting daggers at him through the window even though he cannot see me.
"You want me to wait for you out here for an hour, or maybe even more?" He asked skeptically.
"If that means I will be sleeping in peace, then yes. And why should I let a stranger enter my place anyway?"
"We're less than strangers now." He answered. Less than strangers. I almost smiled at the thought. Almost. "Besides, I'm your date today. It was proper manners to let me in if you're not yet ready."
"Oh, so it's a date now? I thought I was just accompanying you since you're so lonely today with no friends, sister or mother to look after you?" I teased, remembering his own words from the previous night.
"We're going out somewhere, so technically it's a date. And since you are calling yourself my babysitter, it's all the more that you should let me in." He answered and there was a tone in his voice that I could not quite make out.
"Fine." I grumbled, glaring at him for the last time before grudgingly pacing towards my closet to get a set of decent clothing. "I'll come and get you."
"No need!" He said quickly. "Give me your unit number and I'll go there myself." He offered. I thought for a moment about his offer which is charming to me. No need to change clothes at the moment. No need to drag myself out of my cozy place. I can just stay here forever.
"Fifth floor, unit number two." I answered and slumped down on the bed. I might as well rest while I wait for him to knock on the door.
"Got it. See you in a while." He said before hanging up.
I placed the phone back in my bed and stood, taking my eyeglasses from the desk before I walked out of the room. I decided to wait for him in the front room, instead of risking the chance of falling deep asleep in the minutes he was heading to my apartment.
I sat in the couch, laid my head in the headrest, and stared blankly at the ceiling. Why did I agree to go on a date with someone I just met for the first time? To help get my mind off of things...about my ex-boyfriend...about my best friend. He did listen to me ramble about everything, though he was a stranger to me. He comforted me and let me cry on him. I got his shirt wrinkled and wet but he did not seem to mind. That was not exactly normal for meeting someone for the first time though.
It was almost funny and embarrassing, more of the latter, how I thought that he was a kidnapper, rapist and killer. I was too absorbed in my own pain, and in the events of the day before, that I did not think things properly before accusing him. And agreeing to go on a date with him should be a small price to pay for such a big accusation. Who knew that I could have actually crushed his esteem and ego?
I have never been that spontaneous about going out with a guy. Actually, there was never any chance to do so since I have been with Rick ever since I can remember. He was my childhood friend, best friend and boyfriend. It was normal to have him around and not bother much about other guys. At least it used to be that way.
I wonder why Jacob was at the park last night. But it was not really any of my concern what business he was doing there. I just found it weird. Would you normally just drag a stranger to a coffee shop? I don't think so. And as odd as it may sound, being near him wasn't so bad. Actually, it felt nice, kind of easy and comforting. It was not the same as being with Rick though. I don't know why. It just felt different. The kind of different that I like. Maybe I was just not used to being around other guys too much. Now that I think about it, there has been only four guys in my life - Rick, Dad, Daniel and...
When I heard the door bell rang, I snapped out of my thoughts quickly and proceeded to open the door. Being the paranoid that I was, I still peeked through the peeping hole. The person behind the door could be a grim reaper in human form or a robber or some psycho-killer. Who knows, right? At least I am sure that I wouldn't know beforehand. So to be safe, I need to confirm that the person behind the door was Jacob, even if I don't remember much of his appearance, beside the blurry image I have of him.
I tiptoed a little to see through the peephole, peeked through it and tried to focus my gaze to the person standing behind the door. When I finally managed to see the person outside, I just couldn't believe my eyes. I blinked a few times as if that will change the appearance of the guy outside my apartment. He is Jacob?
When I finally opened the door, I came face to face with a bouquet of white roses. I blinked again not believing what was before me. They appeared out of nowhere like magic. The flowers were only about an inch away from my face, which was way too close for appreciation. The holder might have realize that the bouquet was causing my eyes to cross because it was slowly brought down, away from my face.
With the flowers out of my sight, standing before me was an extremely hot guy, handsome , hunk, and all the words in the urban dictionary that could describe him. He was sporting a plain white v-neck shirt, dark washed jeans and dark blue sneakers. His outfit was so plain but he still managed to look like a model. How he pulled it off, I don't think I will ever know.
Was this really the same person who was with me last night? How come I did not even realize how good looking of a guy he was, when I had spent a few hours with him? Oh, right. I was not wearing my glasses and it was already evening. Still, how could I ever mistake this guy for a killer? I couldn't believe myself!
"Done checking me out?" He asked teasingly and I did not even realized that I was gawking at him until he spoke. I believe this was the moment when I wish there was a convenient rabbit hole somewhere that I could use.
"Good morning to you too. And I'm not checking you out." I defended, crossed my arms over my chest, and narrowed my eyes on him. "I'm thinking of ways to strangle you for waking me up so early." I stepped aside and gestured for him to enter the apartment.
"No point in telling you good morning when you're obviously not having one." He answered as he walked pass me, entering my humble abode. He looked around a little before turning to face me again and handing me the bouquet.
"What's up with the bouquet?" I asked, taking the bouquet from him and smelling the flowers a bit before closing the door behind me. They were the same half-bloomed white roses as the one I received me last night.
"Oh, nothing. I just saw them in a shop I passed by earlier." He answered shrugging like it was no big deal. "Don't you like bouquets?" He asked a moment later, looking a little bit hesitant.
"I liked flowers in general. Bouquets are just too much I guess. It's a waste to throw the flowers when they withered. So I pressed them all and at the end of the day I have too much." I explained, biting my lower lip when I remembered telling Rick to only give me single flowers instead of bouquets. I was thinking of the cheater despite having a hot guy in front of me. Well, we would not have lasted a five-year relationship if I could forget him that easily.
"Okay. I'll give you potted flowers next time so you won't have to press them. Just let them dry and make potpourri out of them or something." He informed, and I fought the laugh that threatened to escape. I can't tell whether he was being serious or not, but he must be joking. He couldn't be serious about buying me a potted plant.
"I don't have a green thumb. I'll just end up killing the plant." I informed him, playing along. I placed the bouquet in the coffee table and made my way to the kitchen to find something to place the flowers on.
"That's fine. I'll take care of the plant for you. You just keep it." He answered trailing behind me to the kitchen. I shook my head a little not even glancing over my shoulder to look at him. He was obviously kidding.
"Then you'll have to come everyday to water the plant. And I'll end up waking everyday way too early than I needed to. So, no thank you." I answered. I took out a jar from the cabinet and placed it under the faucet, filling it with water.
"Hmm, I kind of liked that idea." At his response, I turned to look at him skeptically, hesitating now on whether he was still joking about this whole thing. His thumb was rubbing his chin in a thinking manner. He's not serious about that, is he? "And mornings are great. You just have to try and appreciate it." He continued removing his hand from his chin and placing it in his pocket.
"Oh, I do appreciate mornings, believe me. And I know how great they were. For sleeping, I mean." I took the jar out to the front room and placed it on the coffee table, with him trailing behind me. Then, I removed the wrapping of the bouquet and placed the dozen of flowers in the jar.
"You shouldn't spend mornings in bed. You know the saying, early bed catches the worm." He said as he stood behind me.
"I'm not a bird and I have nothing to catch. So all is good." I answered turning to face him, and suddenly remembering being hospitable. "You can seat on the couch or something, by the way. Do you want anything to drink or eat?"
"I'm fine with water. And I brought you breakfast." He raised a paper bag to eye level. Am I that distracted by his face that I did not even realize he had been carrying it all along? Wait, he brought me breakfast? Odd. Was he actually planning to wake me up all this time?
"I thought you're going to let me sleep more after I let you in?" I asked raising an eyebrow at him. I wasn't planning on that truthfully. It's not like I would be able to sleep peacefully knowing that I was alone in the apartment with someone I barely knew. My cousin had gone on a school-related excursion even though it was already a school break.
As if reading my thoughts he said something similar to what I was thinking. "You can't be planning on sleeping with a stranger in your house, are you?" He asked, reproachfully may I add. Was he acting like my dad now?
"You're less than a stranger?" I answered remembering his own words.
"Yeah, still someone you barely knew." He said crossing his arms over his chest, still holding the bag of breakfast. I did not satisfy him with an answer. I just shrugged, turned on my heel and walked towards my room. "Hey! You're really sleeping?" He called after me.
Still, I did not provided him with answer, enjoying how he sounded aggravated by my actions. Somehow he reminded me of Rick being all strict with me. "Don't you have any sense of danger at all? I found you all alone in the park in the middle of the night, uncaring about your surroundings. And now, you're going to sleep after letting someone you barely knew inside your house?" He asked exasperatedly.
I stopped right before the door to my room. Events of yesterday flashed in my mind once again and I took in a deep breath to calm myself. I almost forgot. Last night was really careless of me. Hanging out by myself in a public park in the middle of the night? Seriously? Who knew what types of people are lurking around there? Oh, this hot stalker was one.
Before he could continue on how defenseless I am, I turned on my heel to face him. "I'm just going to change." I simply stated. "Or do you want me to change in front of you?" I tried to ask teasingly. My response caught him off guard, making his stature slightly froze. I proceeded to enter my room not really expecting a response and trying to hide a smile of triumph.
"Well, I like the sound of that." He answered after I took a step inside my own quarters. It made my cheeks warmed up a bit and my smile dropped immediately. I was never a good tease, because it always backfires on me.
"Pervert!" I almost yelled and I heard him laugh before I slammed the door shut behind me. Remembering something, I quickly opened the door which caught his attention immediately. "Help yourself in the kitchen. You can find the plates and cutlery in one of the cupboards." Then I slammed the door shut again.
Maybe it was such a wrong move to go with someone I barely knew? I could just hope all goes well for the whole of today.
Originally, this chapter was really long. What was here was only half of that and this was still long. That being said, there will be another Danica POV next chapter and it was the continuation of this. But every chapter was actually just a continuation of the previous one so there was not even a point in mentioning that. And the next chapter is also ready but I will upload it later on, like next week. Jacob's POV would be after the next one, the sixth chapter.
By the way, I was thinking of changing the title of this story to Less Than Strangers. Why? I just thought it was a nice title but maybe it was only me.