The temperature was dropping by the minute, and it took all of my effort to keep myself from shivering every four seconds. Thankfully, my lovely boyfriend wrapped his arm around my waist the minute he placed both of my feet back on solid ground, and we continued to stroll alongside the gently flowing water.
I just wanted to soak in everything I could about this moment. The sights, the sounds, even the frigid atmosphere that allowed me to don Jack’s suit jacket. It seemed like I did this a lot, because I have this idea in my head that each occasion I try so hard to capture is the one exact textbook definition of a perfect moment and will never be outdone. Like, if you were to look up “perfect moment” in the dictionary, I’m sure it would cite at least one event from my brief relationship with Jack.
One thing was definitely certain, though: I’d be riding on the high I got tonight for the rest of the week. Jack taking the initiative and uttering the very first “I love you” showed how devoted he was to me and our relationship. Although I know Jack is a sensitive guy, there are not many moments where I see him in a completely vulnerable state like I did just a few minutes ago. And I know it might embarrass him a little bit to show that much emotion (can I get a giant EFF YOU, stereotypical societal norms?!), but the way he approached the whole situation really couldn’t have been sweeter. Everything I was thinking just broke down into terrible clichés, but I just couldn’t help it!
After a few minutes of basking in the glory of mutual adoration, Jack broke the silence.
“So, okay, I sort of have an idea. And it’s a little bit crazy, so feel free to say no, like don’t worry about how I’m going to react to your choice.”
This sounded serious. What on Earth was he going to ask me?
“Uh, yeah, okay. Shoot.”
He started wringing his hands as he pondered how he was going to pitch his master plan. “I know I’ve told you stories about my family and all of our travels before, and you probably remember a story or two about Ibiza in there, right?”
I nodded and quickly replied, “Yeah, Ibiza, of course I remember. It’s an island, right?” It was so strange to mimic Jack’s pronunciation of Ibiza – eye-bee-tha…not ih-bee-za.
“Exactly. I’ve been going there with my parents, Finn, and Emmy for,” he took a quick pause to collect his thoughts as he stroked his chin, “uh, longer than I can even remember, probably since before Emmy was born. I don’t know, but anyways, as I grew older, I gained the opportunity to travel with all of my mates from school, which was obviously exciting because, hello, no parental supervision!”
I smiled and giggled. Jack managed to make the most ordinary stories sound fascinating, simply through the words he emphasized and his goofy facial expressions.
“So, after our end-of-year trip to Ibiza last summer, I’ve been itching to go back every single day. And I was thinking, even though we’re past the prime party season for the island, it might be fun go on holiday for the weekend, just to soak up some sun and get that warmth back in our bones to last us the rest of the English winter!”
I think Jack could see me carefully pondering the situation, especially since I didn’t offer any sort of reaction right off the bat. “Don’t worry,” he interjected, “we would be going with a whole bunch of people, including Finn and his mates, and you could bring Liv along if you wanted! And, just in case you were a little anxious, you’d be sharing a room with another girl – I’d never want to make things uncomfortable, you know, in that way.”
I’m so glad Jack is as thorough as he is, because the whole issue of room sharing was possibly my biggest worry about the whole plan.
“Dex and I…you remember, my mate from the scavenger hunt? We were looking at our schedules and we thought that a trip to Ibiza would be the perfect way to relax after that next string of exams, you know, around the middle of November. The weather in England is going to be absolutely horrible by that point, plus, we’d all need a break. So, erm, your thoughts?”
This on top of his declaring his love for me was a little too much for me to handle all at once. “You know, Jack, I’d really have to think about it…”
“Anna, please let me know if there’s anything I can do that would make you feel more comfortable about the trip. That’s it, isn’t it? You’re thinking about how this trip fits into the whole scheme of our relationship?”
I started to stutter as I gazed out over the water, madly trying to collect my thoughts. Suddenly, the cold didn’t bother me at all – I always hated having to try and make up my mind on the spot about big proposals like this. “I mean, yeah. Jack, you know that I’m committed to you and that I love you. I just said it a few minutes ago, didn’t I?”
He nodded, listening intently to what I had to say and capturing my stare. “It…it’s just that this is really my very first real, stable, loving romantic relationship, and I’m just a little worried that we’re going to start pushing things too quickly. Even if I were to be okay with the whole trip and ran off to book my ticket now, how the hell would I pitch this to my parents? They tend to be super protective of their only girl, so why would they allow their eighteen-year-old daughter, who has only just finished settling in in Bristol, to jet off for an island notorious for partying with her new boyfriend?”
I realized that I had started to rant, speaking like I would to my parents instead of how I would approach my friends or a significant other. “Jack, I’m sorry, I got carried away. My point is, I just don’t want to rush into this relationship. I’m scared of hitting that point in my mind where I’m not comfortable with going any further, and I don’t want to be unfair to you in that way.”
I hated telling Jack that I had a limit to how far I would go physically, because he was the first guy who had ever made me feel truly at ease. And it’s not that I didn’t want to go further in our relationship – I know we’d get there eventually. But, especially since I was a bit…let’s say, inexperienced in the realm of more intense physical encounters, the fact of the matter was that I was scared of what would happen on that trip.
He pondered what I had said for a few seconds, casting his gaze towards the ground. “Sweetheart, if you’re not fully okay with the idea of this trip, I don’t want you to give this another thought. The last thing I’d want you to feel is uncomfortable, and I guess the reason why I thought I’d propose this plan that is, frankly, a little bonkers, is because I think it’d be a lot of fun. I don’t, like, expect anything from you in return – please know that.”
Taking my hands and tracing circles along the backs of my palms with his thumbs, he concluded, “How’s this – give it a couple of days to percolate through your mind, trickle down into your thoughts. Think about it, and we’ll talk about it somewhere down the line.”
He gave my hands a squeeze, pulling them together into a sort of prayer position between us. Knowing that this wasn’t the time to initiate an impassioned session of lip-locking, he placed just a few shallow, tender kisses on my lips and pulled me in for a long hug. “I’m sorry, baby. Please know that the last thing I’d ever want to do is make you uneasy about the future of our relationship.”
See, with most guys, I’d write this off as something they would say just to try and get into my pants. But I had a feeling Jack meant every word that he said. Maybe I was wrong, maybe I was still blinded by lust.
I hoped he wasn’t lying, though.
The morning after, I opened my eyes, reaching up and stretching my arms outside of my comforter. Ahhh, Saturday morning. To me, there was nothing better than sleeping late on a weekend morning. It wasn’t terribly late, but the clock was pushing 11 AM so I figured I should probably get out of bed and do something with my life. Just as I slid open my closet door, my heart sank as I remembered the conversation that Jack and I had the night before.
The truth was, I really did want to go. Going on vacation with Jack and all of his friends would be so much fun, especially since he had been to Ibiza many times before. He probably thought like a local at this point, and I’m sure he’d know all of the best sights to see, places to party, and any tourist traps to avoid. And I was certain that if I extended the opportunity to Liv, she would love to come along. In fact, just the other day, we had been talking about places we’d like to visit before we die, and Ibiza was one of the vacation spots she listed.
Even though I was still a little unsure about the implicit expectation of physical contact between me and Jack, I was inclined to go for it. Back home, I was always the cool, calculated student, and I never took many risks in my life. I didn’t want to completely eschew that role, so modifying my persona with tasks like skydiving or bungee jumping was obviously out of the question (not to mention that I’m scared shitless of those two activities!) But maybe it wasn’t bad that I wanted to push myself a little, do something I normally wouldn’t do and hop on a plane to Ibiza. Seize the moment? Live while we’re young? (See, I knew One Direction could be inspiring! Who says their lyrics are dull and manufactured?)
But, of course, there was one major obstacle blocking my path: money. I was learning extremely quickly that the U.S. Dollar was almost worthless in the UK, and any spending money I had flowed like water through my fingers. To make matters worse, I had discovered Primark a couple of weeks ago, which had completely blown my bank budget in a matter of hours. Yes, I had some fantastic shoes, jewelry, sweaters, jeans, you name it - but I didn’t have enough money to buy a plane ticket to our ultimate holiday destination.
After going over my thought process again and again over the next few hours, making sure that going to Ibiza was my final decision, I decided to pick up the phone and give my parents a call. There was simply no other way for me to get the money. Although I had practiced my sales pitch for my family, probably in a very similar manner as Jack had rehearsed his for me, my hands were shaking. After all, the fate of the trip lay in their hands.
Picking up my cell, I touched the option for “Mom and Dad” with extreme caution, as if the method by which I pushed this button would determine the fate of my vacation. It’s ringing. I was almost about to get the answering machine when my mom picked up the other end.
“H-hello?” She sounded out of breath.
“Uh, hi mom! You sound…tired?”
“Oh hi, honey!” My mom gasped for breath as she fumbled for the other phone to give to my dad. “Your father and I were just walking in the door – we went out to breakfast this morning, and you called just as we had the key in the lock!”
Looking at my watch, I realized it was only about 10 in the morning there. Even though I had been overseas for over two months at this point, sometimes my mind casually forgot about the time change. “That sounds like fun! Where did you go?”
“Sarabeth’s. Your dad had a pumpkin waffle and I ordered salmon eggs benedict. Mmmm, delicious!” It was great to see that they were in a good mood – all the better to catch them when they would be most likely to sponsor my pitch.
“Awesome! I just had a little bit of lunch in the dining hall, and was just sitting down to start my homework.” In reality, I had done neither of these things, but my parents would begin to worry about my ability to survive on my own if I didn’t tell a tiny white lie today. Plus, I had to keep their spirits high all the way through my pitch.
“Listen, mom, dad, I was wondering if I could ask you something.” Now or never.
“Sure, Anna Banana, what’s up?” My dad never failed to make me laugh – that was my family nickname ever since I was about five years old.
“Okay, so, you know Jack, right? My boyfriend?”
“Of course, honey, you only talk a blue streak about him every time you get on the phone with us!” I’m glad my mother understood my infatuation with this adorable English boy.
“Yeah. So, since our winter holidays aren’t until mid-December, and we’ve already had at least two rounds of really tough exams, Jack, his brother Finn, and their friends were thinking about getting a big group together to take a weekend trip to the island of Ibiza. It’s in Spain, right? Yeah, so he asked me if I wanted to come with all of them. Honestly, I think it seems like a lot of fun, and he told me I could bring Liv with me, so she and I would be sharing a room. It’s with a big group of people, so obviously it wouldn’t just be the two of us.” Couldn’t hurt to repeat things a million times to make them as crystal-clear as possible. “And, being that I have a very limited budget for each month while I’m here, I was wondering if I might be able to get a little bit of a cash advance to be able to go on this trip with them. Mom, it would really make me happy if I could go.”
There was silence on the other end of the line. This was not a good sign. My heart was beating so fast that I thought it was going to fall out of my thoracic cavity. After about fifteen seconds, a couple of sighs from my mom, and nothing from my dad, the stillness finally ceased.
“Honey, you know we love you and we want you to be happy in every way possible. But I’m just not sure this is a good idea. I mean, you know I watch those horrible TV programs where a girl goes on vacation with her boyfriend, and then awful, terrible things happen to her…I just don’t want you to be that one in a million girls that has that happen to her. We just want to protect you, sweetie.”
“But mom, I know this is going to be hard for you to just hear and not see, but Jack’s honestly not like that at all. He told me the other night when I had concerns about going on this trip that if I wasn’t 100% comfortable with going, I should just forget about the idea until later on in our relationship. But even though I had initial qualms about the holiday, I thought it over and I know I really want to go.” I had to try every last possibility.
“Mom, I know this is kind of sudden, but Jack just told me he loved me the other day, and I said it back. I’ve never felt so comfortable around anybody in my entire life. He cares for me far more than any boy ever has before, and although we’ve only been officially dating for a month, it feels like we’ve known each other for years. He’s sensitive to all of my fears, he understands my little personality quirks. I’m convinced that he wouldn’t be that guy to make anything terrible happen to me while we were on vacation. Plus, I would be rooming with Liv the entire time.” My heart sunk as I realized this was probably not going to work out.
Another long pause. This is really not good. “Honey, you know what, I…I’m…you’re right, I’m a little stunned at how quickly this relationship developed. But I will say this - your father and I will talk it over, and we’ll figure out if we have any more questions and decide if your dad would like to talk to Jack over Skype. We’ll give you a call tonight? It’s 5 hours ahead, right?”
Well, that wasn’t a definite no. I was still very concerned about the viability of my proposal, though. “Um, yeah, of course, tonight is great. 5 hours ahead.”
“Great. We love you, sweetie. We’ll talk to you later.”
“Okay, love you too. Bye.”
And the waiting game begins.
A/N: I am so beyond sorry that I didn’t get this out this morning, you guys! I’ve been battling a little bit of writer’s block this weekend, which is why I’ve decided to abstain from issuing another chapter this Friday/Saturday. You might remember that when I began doing regular chapters every Tuesday morning, I said that I would do my very best to put out an additional chapter later in each week, but that it wasn’t guaranteed. This is, unfortunately, going to have to be one of those weeks :( The next few chapters hold some drama that you might not expect, and I want to be free of writer’s block so that I can compose them to their fullest potential. Plus, it’s a really intense week for me at school, and I need to get caught up on my own work.
I hope that’s okay with all of you. I love you all more than you could ever imagine, seriously, I do. I’ll post a picture of my dress from the fancy dress ball as soon as I get home tonight (totally forgot to do it the other night…oops.) Lots of love to all of you! Elise xx