My throat felt swollen and dry as I slowly gained consciousness. My body felt comfortably snug and warm between soft linens, but my head felt like it had been hit with an iron pike.
I opened my eyes and immediately winced at the sunshine pouring through French-style windows next to me. It was covered by curtains, but the flimsy, lacy white film could hardly be called curtains, since all sunlight was filtered through it.
Grumpily, I forced myself to sit up, massaging my temples all the while. I was in a queen-sized bed, under the softest, yet simplest white bedcovers. The room around me was quite tidy and very…white. The bookshelves, the desk, the walls, even the lamps stand—all white. The only color on the walls was a single photograph of the snow-covered mountains, and even that was a black and white photo.
I instantly knew to whom this room belonged, and memories of yesterday filtered through my weary head. Curiously, I stepped down from the bed. If this was Khit’s room, where was Khit?
And then I realized that I was no longer wearing the same outfit as yesterday. I had on, simply put, a shirt. No pants. The white shirt was long and hung to my knees like a nightgown, but still…
That meant that I had been undressed, and since I didn’t remember dressing myself, it had to have been Khit’s doing.
Oh my God! One horrifying question came to mind. Had he seen me…naked? That worry subsided as I felt for my underwear and bra, which were thankfully still on me, but then he had to still have seen me half naked. How embarrassing!
My face was flaming as I looked around for my clothes, having horrible visions of how Khit must have removed all articles of clothing from my helpless body. Then a knock on the door had me scrambling back beneath the covers of the bed.
“Caren, I’m coming in ,” Khit called.
I tried pretending to still be asleep when he opened the door.
Amusement filled his voice. “You can give that act up. You made too much noise already.”
I didn’t know how to react, so I sat up and scowled at him.
He cleared his throat, obviously trying not to laugh.
“Why am I here?” I demanded to know.
Instantly, he turned serious. “Because you were too drunk to answer me when I asked where you lived. I brought you to my place before I thought about searching through your cell phone for Liana’s number to tell her you were all right. But by then you were throwing up so much, I thought it was better for you to stay at my place for the night.”
I scowled harder, if it were possible. “Where are my clothes?”
“In the wash. You threw up on them, don’t you remember?”
I shook my head, unable to recall anything past blacking out last night. Then I flushed, remember what I had been intending to ask. “Did you—when I changed, did—”
He figured out my question. “Of course I didn’t. Liana came over and helped, but like I said, we didn’t want to move you too much because you were puking every five seconds, so she went home.” Then he smirked, puzzling out what I must have been thinking. “You were having perverted thoughts, weren’t you?”
I blushed even harder. “N-no, I wasn’t.”
“You don’t have to lie,” he chuckled. “You need to stop watching so many Korean dramas. Girl drinks herself into a stupor. Cool, attractive dude rescues her, but there’s no one to help him change her clothes, so he has no choice but to do it himself and gets some serious display of skin. As much as I’d have enjoyed that scenario, real life is hardly that accommodating.”
“Oh, shut up.” But he was right. I had been watching too many Asian dramas.
His smile faded, as he turned serious and glared at me. “I hope you don’t make this into a regular habit. You probably already have a low tolerance for alcohol, with a frame as tiny as yours, but five drinks downed in less than an hour? That’s ridiculous, even for me.”
“How did you know about that?”
“I told you yesterday…I followed you. Saw you get on the bus, and then I followed the bus in my car. I was sitting at the bar watching you, but you didn’t notice. I should have stopped you from drinking, but I hesitated because I knew you didn’t want to see me. I just wanted to make sure you got home safely.”
My frown eased up a bit. “Thank you.”
And then just because I didn’t want him to think I was an alcoholic, I said, “That was the first time I tried a cocktail…or five.”
“And you decided to get drunk during your first experience? Without friends to help you get home?”
“Th—that was an ac—accident,” I stammered, embarrassed. “The cocktails tasted so good I thought they didn’t have much alcohol in them. My friends have gotten drunk on beer, but never on cocktails. Th—they never told me otherwise, but then again, I never asked either.”
Khit did not seem to buy my excuse. “Did your friends ever drink five cocktails in half an hour?”
“No,” I answered quietly. “They did drink several pints of beer in half an hour though.”
“And that was when they got drunk,” Khit added in assumption.
I refused to answer even though it was true.
“And at least when they got drunk, they had you to drive them home,” he went on to say.
Again, I refused to respond.
Then I remembered why I had gone to the bar in the first place, and my scowl was renewed. “It’s your fault for—for…” I couldn’t finish the sentence, as I also remembered that the kiss had not entirely been one-sided either.
He finished the sentence for me. “For kissing you.” He nodded, point taken. “I’m sorry Caren. I don’t know what got into me. I just couldn’t think straight, and I—”
“I know you were angry,” I interrupted. “But you shouldn’t have tried to punish me. I never told Darryl about you, and I never would tell him or anyone else.”
“That’s why you think I kissed you?” he asked incredulously.
“Stop saying that word!” I hissed.
“Kiss? But that’s what we did.”
“As far as I’m concerned, it never happened,” I said. “It’s erased. You didn’t mean it, and I didn’t mean it either. There’s no point remembering if there were no feelings attached.”
“Please, just forget about it,” I begged.
“All right, but can I ask you just one question?” He continued at my nod. “Do you really think Darryl is your soul mate?”
“I know he is. He was the guy in my dream.”
Khit said nothing in response, but he seemed pensive, as if he had something important to say but hesitated in telling me.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“N—nothing.” Then he held out his hand. “Give me your test.”
I eyed him warily. “Why? You aren’t going to change my F to an F-, are you?”
He kept his hand out and made an exasperated face. “Do you want your A or not?”
I wasn’t about to ask any more questions lest the erratic professor change his mind again. But as I looked around the room, I realized that my backpack was nowhere in sight. “Where’s my backpack?”
“Oh, I forgot…it’s in the closet.” He walked to the closet and slid open the mirror doors, revealing a very tidy interior, with neatly lined dress shirts and ironed pants. A whole array of ties hung next to the row of shirts.
“You certainly take the word organized to the next level,” I commented.
He pulled out my backpack and smiled. “I like knowing where everything is all the time. Drives me crazy if I think I’ve misplaced something.”
I knelt down to unzip my backpack and retrieved the bluebook that had started this whole mess. Then eagerly, I watched as he took a pen from his shirt pocket to cross out the hideous F and replaced it with a lovely A.
“There you are,” he said cheerfully. I inspected my test warily, just to make sure he hadn’t tricked me.
“You are changing the record on your computer too, right?”
He laughed. “If it makes you feel better, you can watch me do that before I drive you home. I have the grades saved on my home computer, so it won’t be a problem. But first…do you mind stepping out of the room for just fifteen minutes?”
“Why?” I asked, puzzled.
“Because…well, as you can see, I’m a bit obsessed with cleanliness and tidiness, and it’s rare that I go a day without showering, but last night…” He trailed off, shooting me a meaningful glance.
I blushed brightly, realizing that I had probably puked all over him. “I’m sorry! The room’s all yours.”
“Go ahead and have a seat in the living room,” he said. “I live alone, so nobody’s out there. Feel free to watch TV.”
I took a tour of the living room and the kitchen, which like Khit’s bedroom, were both completely spotless. It didn’t look like Khit cooked real food that much though. His refrigerator was practically empty, except for a carton of orange juice. That explained the lack of pots and pans in the kitchen. I did wish he at least had a box of cereal. My stomach was feeling a lot better, and I was getting hungry.
To pass the time, I sat on the couch in the living room and flipped on the TV to the news. The anchorman was talking about some horrible drug scam that had occurred in a local high school. I sighed, thinking there was never any good news.
I flipped through the channels until I hit the Food Network and watched as a scrumptious-looking cheddar cheese and bacon frittata was transferred from the skillet to a white plate. My mouth watered. If only Khit had eggs.
Maybe the Food Network wasn’t such a good idea at the moment. I flipped back to one of the main channels and settled on watching a talk show. They were interviewing a physical trainer who was explaining the basics of a proper workout.
Just as the trainer was explaining glut exercises, I heard a knock, followed by a loud ding dong. Why did people bother knocking if there was already a doorbell?
I wondered if I should open it. This was Khit’s house, but since he wasn’t available, was I responsible, as a guest, to answer the door?
I decided to answer, especially after the door bell rang several more times during my indecision. There wasn’t a peephole, so I could only hope that it wasn’t some burglar. But chances of that were slim, considering it was broad daylight.
I swung the door open to reveal a teenage boy with neon green spiked hair and shades covering his eyes.