Leyla was not allowed to open the door past eight unless the caller was an expected visitor. There were too many instances of crimes against property that the rule of the house was a standard precaution.
In the kitchen, Sandra waited for her son to finish supper; he just arrived from what he termed the best day of his life.
“See who is it?” his mother ordered, interrupting his mango desert. “Don’t disturb your sister. She’s tired.”
Reluctantly, he stood up and went out the kitchen. He saw Leyla leisurely occupying the entire sofa while watching one of her favorite movies.
“Did you not hear it?,” he ordered her to go instead.
“Either you or Pa could open the door at this hour. Pa is not here.”
Eric wanted to turn the TV off just to get at her but on second thought he remembered what Tommy related about his sister’s talent of beating up guys. Even he would not test that claim.
“Aren’t you tired of watching that chick flick?” he said, ever slowly walking in front of the screen to block her view.
“Unless you want me to see the adult film you secretly borrowed from Pa’s drawer.”
“Sssh!” Eric looked nervous, his hands clasped as in prayer, begging her to drop the subject. “I get your drift. I’m going.”
“So we understand each other.”
Defeated in the argument he instigated, Eric walked through the hallway toward the door. Upon opening it, Joey, in a semi-formal attire, grinned at him while holding a bunch of flowers and a box of chocolates.
“Are you lost?” Eric asked, though he was not surprised to see him.
“Evening, Eric. Can I visit Leyla?”
“She is not sick. Well, she is sick in some parts of her head.”
Joey laughed, not at the joke, but as respect to Leyla’s older brother.
“Wanna invite me in?” he asked politely, noting Eric did not show any hostility against him.
“Your call! Come in!”
Sandra called out from the kitchen, wondering why Eric was not back to finish his desert.
“Who is it?”
“It’s the police. They’re looking for a teenager always wearing jeans!”
“That’s not funny!” Leyla raised her voice in indignation. “You …”
“Good evening, Leyla.” Joey greeted, appearing from behind Eric who looked so innocently happy that he got even with her.
At first, she was dumbfounded why Joey was in their living room. Then, she stared at her shapely white legs, completely uncovered because she wore a very short shorts she indulged herself with while in the privacy of their home.
“Hello,” she replied shyly, using the throw pillows to cover what made Joey’s eyes widened.
“I was surprised to see him, too.” Eric winked at her.
“It’s all right. I am expecting him,” she said. “I believe sooner or later, he’ll drop by.”
“Whatever,” he said, beaten once again in their verbal jousting.
After her brother exited to the kitchen, she turned the TV off via remote.
“Do sit down,” she pointed Joey to the corner seat. “You should have called.”
“It won’t be a surprise.” he explained, offering her his gifts.
“Thank you,” she accepted them with a smile. “I should have been prepared.”
“Well, you did the same to me last time, remember?” Joey was glad she did so.
Leyla laughed softly. She was a portrait of gentleness and modesty, the image Joey did not imagine he would witness before his visit.
“Who do we have here?” Howard came out of the kitchen with a can of beer. Obviously, Eric confessed to his parents what was happening.
“Pa, he’s Joey.”
“I know,” he replied with a laugh. “A brave man who will defy the odds.”
(to be continued)