Another week of work began and instead of working on her software testing, Valentina was analyzing every little detail of the whole Alexandra-Tom-Valentina situation. She had been mad for about a minute after finding out the truth, she was honestly more puzzled than upset. It was hard for her to understand why Tom would say that Alex was his girlfriend. The one reason that seemed more likely was that he wanted her to back off, and she understood where he was coming from, given that she had hurt him, probably even worse that she had imagined. She couldn’t blame him for guarding himself from the bitch that one day told him that she loved him, only to deny it the next day. She felt the now ever-present guilt taking over once again. She was the bad guy in this story, and it felt lousy!
The bright side was that, if his plan was to drive her away, it didn’t work. She still managed to wiggle back into his life, and now she was even more convinced that she wanted more than a friendship. Now she only had to find a way to knock some sense into him, and more importantly, not screw it up again.
Determined to clear everything up with Tom, find some closure, and propel their relationship in the right direction, Val stormed out of her office and walked down the hallway towards Tom’s.
As she was passing near the developers’ room, she heard someone saying her name. Curious about what was being said about her, she stealthily moved closer to the door to listen more clearly.
“One of these days she’s gonna give someone a heart attack with those tight pants,” she heard Ben saying, and all the guys laughed.
She cringed internally. They were obviously talking about her butt. What else could they have been talking about? The thing was huge, and the reason why her pants were so tight.
Trying to shake the annoyance away, she walked the remaining steps towards Tom’s office and stood at the door peeking inside to look at him. Those few seconds every day when she got to take in Tom’s gorgeous features, were heaven. As usual, he was sitting there in front of his computer with his earphones in, deep in concentration while stroking the keyboard with deft fingers. Adorable as always.
Tom stopped typing and took his earphones off, facing the door. “Are you gonna come in, or are you gonna stand there checking me out all day?” he said teasingly, yet with a smile that denoted nervousness more than contentment.
He was so used to her visits by now, that he always knew it was her. And judging by his comment, he knew what she was doing every time she stood a few seconds at the door before entering his office.
“Uh, hi,” Val answered in a stony tone. She walked in and plopped on her favorite chair, still upset about what she heard Ben say before. The thought of those guys talking about her like that inside the office was beyond offensive and embarrassing.
“You sound upset,” Tom said, sheepishly.
“Is it because of what happened with Alex? I told her, you know, that I said that she and I, you know… She knows why you reacted that way… I … I’m so sorry Valentina.” He was practically imploring forgiveness with worried eyes anticipating Val’s reaction after his desperate rant.
“I guess she told you what happened at the bar, then?”
Tom nodded sheepishly.
“It was embarrassing,” Val pointed out, blushing by just remembering the episode. “But Alexandra was really cool about it. It wasn’t so bad. I’m not mad.”
Relief washed over Tom’s face and he visibly let his shoulders drop from their stiff position.
“Just one question,” Val asked, taking a deep breath. She had to know.
“Yeah?” Tom winced as if expecting a slap on the cheek.
“Why did you say that Alex was your girlfriend?”
Tom’s face suddenly turned red. He lowered his face and said, “Well… It’s hard to explain.”
“Humor me.” Val wasn’t going to let him off the hook so easily.
With his elbows resting on his desk, Tom laced his fingers in front of his face, as if pondering intensely what he should say. After a few moments, he said, “I thought that… um… that if you thought that I had a girlfriend, you’d stay away.” His face was crimson with embarrassment.
“So you didn’t want me around,” Val concluded.
He shook his head, still holding it down. Then he lifted his face up to face her and pressed his hands against the desk and said with a tight expression, “Okay Valentina, I’m gonna be honest here. You… When you dumped me, it was hard. I didn’t want us to get close like that again…” He cleared his throat… “But I knew right away that what I said about Alex was foolish. I just didn’t know how to tell you the truth, so I avoided the subject altogether hoping you’d forget about it.”
“Well, your plan didn’t work. I’m here!” Val said in a wry tone.
A small lopsided smile formed on Toms face, as he said sincerely, “I’m glad that it didn’t work and that we’re friends again. I know now that I really missed you.”
“Me too,” Val said softly and remained silent. She still had questions she wanted to ask about his feelings for her. He seemed to like her again, but could there be something more? Val didn’t want to coerce Tom into saying anything more, she knew that if they continued the conversation, she would be the one to end up looking bad. He had said it out lout after all…
When you dumped me, it was hard.
She felt her stomach churn, as it always did when a pang of guilt hit her hard.
Before Val could dwell too long on her feelings of guilt, Tom broke the silence when he said smiling widely, “Thank you for defending my honor, by the way.”
“Yeah, that’s me, a knight in shining… fat ass,” she said in a self-depreciative yet humorous tone, recalling the talk about her derriere she had heard before. Then she suddenly started giggling, realizing that is was funny. There was no need to be upset about it. It was only a joke and it didn’t matter what Ben thought about her, anyway.
“Hey, what’s so funny?” Tom asked, laughing, but clearly not understanding the reason for her remark.
“Your buddies, I overheard them saying something about me,” Val immediately regretted telling him, now she would have to explain everything. Dammit!
“What did they say?” Tom asked with a frown, clearly bothered by what she had just told him.
“Something about my pants being too tight?” Val was still being humorous, but felt embarrassed anyway.
“Okay, that’s it. They’re gonna get an earful.” Tom jolted out of his chair looking angry and determined to put them in their place.
“No Tom, please, it would only make me more embarrassed if they knew that I heard them saying those things. That’s just the way guys talk,” she quickly argued.
When she noticed that he already seemed more relaxed, she continued, “And well…if we’re being completely objective, my butt is kind of well-endowed, you know?”
Tom sat down again and a mischievous smile curled his lips. “Trust me. I know. If I recall correctly, you could give Beyonce a run for her money. I could even spot it from a mile away,” he laughed good heartedly.
Laughing as well, Val reached across his desk and slapped him on his arm.
“Ouch,” he flinched at the unexpected aggressiveness. Rubbing his arm, he continued, “For the record, and I mean this in the most respectful way, I think your butt is nice. Then again, I’m a fan of big butts.” Tom wiggled his eyebrows like he always did when he thought he was being hilarious.
Val wondered if he missed being able to admire a woman’s beauty. She would certainly miss admiring his handsome face if the tables were turned. Without giving it too much thought, Val blurted out one of the bluntest questions she had ever asked in her life, “Do you want to… um… feel it?” That was supposed to come out in a mock sexy/flirty voice. Instead, it sounded more like a nervous squeak. Deep down she really was dying to have Tom’s hands, not only on her butt, but anywhere they wished to wander.
Tom’s eyes widened in disbelief, then a quizzical frown took over his face. “Uh, feel what?”
“My butt?” Valentina squeaked out again, feeling her cheeks getting warmer.
Now Tom’s eyes seemed like they were going to pop right out of their sockets. He was astonished.
Valentina wasn’t about to shy away, she had already said those suggestive words, the only way to salvage the awkward situation was to continue with the humorous tone. “Come on Tom, it’s not a trick question. You can be honest. I won’t think your’re a perv if you say you’d like to feel my butt.”
Tom smiled devilishly, probably buying that it was all a joke, and slowly answered, “I… I think… uh… sure… I would like to.”
“Okay then,” she almost didn’t let him finish, “I’ll let you do it, but not just yet. You need to take me out on a date first.”
Okay, that could have been a little less blatant.
As though unable to muster anything to say, Tom sat still, eyes wide open and mouth agape with incredulity.
Having second thoughts due to the boldness of her proposition, and Tom’s inability to answer, Val continued, humor gone from her tone and hesitating slightly, “I’m serious, okay? Think about it. Now I’ll leave, so you can get back to work.”
Perplexed that she actually had the audacity to say what she had just said, she stood up, spun around and left Tom’s office.
Tom spent the whole day in shock. It wasn’t like Valentina to be so forward. She wanted to go on a date with him! Holly shit!
The butt feeling? Joke or not, no doubts there. Hell, yeah! he wanted to feel that butt. But it didn’t end there though, he wanted to feel her breasts as well. He wanted to smell her hair and the back of her neck. He wanted to taste her lips and her tongue. And he absolutely wanted to make slow, sweet, exhilarating love to her. But that was his primitive male brain talking. It had been a while since he’d been with a woman. He had needs after all, just as any other hot blooded man. And having Valentina near him talking about ass feeling, might have just drove him off a cliff with desire.
Tom took in a deep breath to calm himself and willed his mind to stop with the sexual thoughts and focus on the real reason for his conflicted state. The inner dispute that hadn’t allowed him to operate like a normal human being through the day. The one thing he didn’t want to think about, because it was too damn hard to straighten out in his mind.
Do I want to take her on a date? Hmm…
He wasn’t so sure about that. It seemed like a simple enough decision to make, this was Valentina, the girl of his dreams. Yet, it wasn’t simple. Not to him. Not with their history.
If she had asked a month ago, he would have said no without hesitation. But now that their old friendship was growing, he wasn’t sure anymore. He found that, just like before, he was mesmerized by Valentina. Despite that, he still had that gut churning feeling, that if they started dating, things would turn sour again.
Tom wasn’t one to complain or even think too much of how much his blindness affected his life negatively, yet he couldn’t help but feel uneasy when starting something new with a girl. He desired more than anything, the chance to build a stable and loving relationship with a wonderful woman. And he knew it wasn’t impossible for him; but there was always that sinking feeling that his blindness was an obstacle to overcome, not only for him but for her as well. Would his blindness be too much for Valentina to handle? Wasn’t that the reason she dumped him in the first place? She never said it, but that thought had been dancing in the back of his mind ever since she rejected him four years ago. On top of that, he had changed. He wasn’t same laid-back, unflappable guy she had known in college. He had more limitations now and the constant frustrations had turned him into a more irritable man. What if she didn’t like this Tom?
Another thing that countered Tom’s confidence was Ben’s babble about how much Valentina was into him, and how much they flirted with each other. It was hard to believe that Valentina would be attracted to a guy like Ben, there was more depth to her than that. She couldn’t possibly like the most irritating man Tom had ever crossed paths with. Despite that, Tom felt vaguely intimidated by Ben. He knew that Ben was a confident guy, and Alexandra had made a few comments about his good looks when he first started working at Sutton. However, she had also said that Ben was full of shit when it came to what he bragged about. Still, Ben had a great piece of advantage over Tom, a pair of perfectly working eyes, and that was what pissed him the most. What if Valentina was into good-looking fully-sighted assholes?
Tom groaned loudly, raking his fingers through his hair. He had been trying to work on this important assignment due in a couple of days, but all this mind consuming musing about Valentina had him very distracted. He was behind and couldn’t concentrate. Frustration was building up. He was sick of second guessing himself. He needed to pull himself together and make a decision. Fast.
Tom grabbed his phone from his desk and commanded it to call his best friend Erick. After all, Erick was the only one who knew what happened between him and Valentina many years ago, and who better than Erick to give him much needed support and some insight on his dilemma.
“I can’t tell you what to do, dude,” said Erick, while they were sitting in their favorite bar, each a beer in hand. Tom had spilled all the details of what had been going on with Valentina, as well of all the reasons why he was so ambivalent about asking her out.
“I know you can’t tell me what to do, I just hoped that you would.” Tom rubbed his face with his hands in exasperation. “What’s wrong with me? A beautiful girl want to go out with me and I’m actually considering not asking her out? I’m such a wuss.”
“I get it Tom. She already broke your heart once. I was there. It wasn’t pretty,” Erick said in a comforting tone.
“Exactly… It’s just that I’m not sure what she wants. We had something great and she ended it. Why would she find me more interesting or attractive now that I can’t see shit. It doesn’t make sense.” He took a sip of his beer and shook his head. “I don’t know, maybe I’m paranoid.”
“Look man, I’m only going to say this once, because you really need to hear it,” Erick said, turning earnest. “Don’t overthink things. I know you can’t look at yourself in the mirror, but trust me on this, you’re a good looking dude. A head turner…”
Tom snorted amused. “Don’t overdo it, man.”
“Okay, okay…You have a great job, you make decent money, you’re fun. Yeah, you’re a nerd, but we’re kind of on-trend now, so some girls dig that. Sure, you’re also a little challenged in the sight department…”
“A little?” interrupted Tom.
“All right, a lot. But you get around just fine. It’s not a big deal. A confident woman will see past that. And from what you’ve told me about Valentina, she seems to be more confident and determined these days. She really wants you dude.” He paused for a second and added, “Crap, I just told you what to do.”
“Shit man, had I known you felt this way about me, I would have asked you out ages ago,” Tom teased.
“I think I could overlook the fact that you have a dick, but you’re missing a big pair of boobs. I love boobs too much to let that slide,” Erick laughed and quickly turned serious again. “Seriously man, I think you should go for it. And if it doesn’t work out, I’ll lend you a shoulder to mope on,” Erick said.
“I don’t mope!”
“Right. You don’t mope,” Erick retorted sarcastically as he patted on Tom’s shoulder.
Tom shook his head with a grateful smile, glad that he called his best friend, it showed him a different perspective. Maybe thing weren’t as discouraging as he thought. “Thanks man. I appreciate everything you said. Except for the boobs thing. That’s just shallow.”
Tom stood at the entrance to the interns’ office and knocked hesitantly. He realized that this was the first time that he had seeked Valentina out. She had been visiting him at his office every single day for the past month; and ever since those short visits started happening, they had been the the highlight of his day.
“Hi,” Tom called to no one in particular.
“Hi,” a chorus of voices replied.
“Is Valentina here?” He asked darting his brown eyes trying to figure out which one of the moving black blobs was her.
“I’m here,” he heard Valentina say.
“Can we talk. In private?” Tom said from the door, fidgeting with his cane.
Tom heard a chair rolling and the Valentina’s shoes tapping on the floor as she walked towards him.
“Hi, what’s up?” she said brightly, as she approached him, patting him once on his forearm.
When her hand left his arm, Tom quickly reached out to grab it and pulled her out to the hallway. He lowered his eyes to her face hoping to aim close to her eyes lacing his hand in hers. He wanted to do this the right way.
Nervousness seeped into his stomach threatening to make him bolt. He mentally smacked himself.
She was the one that suggested it, why would she say no?
“Valentina, I was wondering… if you’re free on Saturday night. I’d like for us to do something special. You and me. That is, if you’re free.”
Did I just say the same thing twice? I can’t even ask her out without looking like an idiot.
A few seconds passed without an answer from Valentina. Tom was getting anxious.
Why is she taking so long?
Given that Tom was unable to see her expression, he had no idea what could be going through her mind.
“Please say something,” he pleaded, frowning with worry.
“I’m sorry. You literally left me speechless,” Valentina said with a tone of disbelief. “I had my doubts that you’d ask.” She took a deep breath and, with what seemed the most excitement Tom had ever heard in her voice, she made a squealing noise that sounded something like, “I’d love to go out with you!”
He could feel his lips slowly creeping upward to form a wide grin. “Great! Pick you up at seven?”
“Uh huh!” By the quick movement of the black blob, Tom could tell that she was bobbing her head up and down.
“Wait!” she said, “I have a car. I should pick you up.”
“That won’t be necessary,” he said, incapable of pulling down the corners of his lips. His cheeks were going to hurt later if he didn’t stop smiling.
He motioned to walk away, but suddenly halted when she called his name, “Tom? Don’t you need my address?”
He wasn’t the only one speaking gibberish, there were still four days until Saturday, enough time to ask her for her address. She was as anxious as him, he concluded. Instead of putting her on the spot, he swung his head back at her, “Send me a text?”