All around me was chaos. My text books were spread eagle to my left, note books whispering dirty things to my right, and sitting in front of me begging my finger to touch its keyboard was my laptop.
“Everything alright?” Jai plopped himself down on the lounge behind me. He eyed the takeover of his coffee table.
“No. this essay is killing me and it’s due this Sunday.” I scrubbed my hands over my face and made a strangled noise. “I need to get this finished.”
“Yes you do.”
Glaring at him, I realised his clothes were different. “Is it already time for you to go to work?”
Sadly, he nodded.
Great, it was time for me to pack my papers and leave. “I’ll just close my computer down.”
“Or you could just stay.” He dug around in his pants pocket before pulling out his fist and holding out in the air. “Here.”
“What is it?” I didn’t move.
Sighing, I did.
“A key?” my heart lurched.
“That way you can come over when you like, stay as long as you like, do what you want.” Even though he shrugged and acted cool and indifferent I could see that he was nervous and a little embarrassed, the tips of his ears turned red.
“To be clear; this is a key to get in, not an invite to move in?” I asked, my hand tightening around the metal object in question. So small it was.
“Do you want that?”
Damn him for asking a question instead of answering mine. “Maybe.” I moved from the floor, taking the seat beside him. “I am spending most of my time here.” Mum was not thrilled I wasn’t sleeping in my own bed at night. Dad even less so.
“Then move in.”
Could it be that simple?
“What about rent and expenses?” I blurted out. My heart was racing and tummy filled with a swarm of butterflies.Was I, Cecelia, about to leave my parents’ home and move in with a man who could be my boyfriend if we ever said those terms?
“Split it fifty-fifty.” He titled his head to the side as he reached for my hand. “Does this mean you want to move in?” His thumb rubbed my knuckles.
I paused. But only for a heartbeat, which mine was tapping out double time; so not long at all. “Yes. If you’ll have me.”
He grinned and leaned in to kiss me. I met him half way.
The following day, Jai dropped me off at home with another kiss and a promise to text me after work.
I stumbled through the front door.
“Cecelia? Is that you?”
“Hey mum.” Who else would it be? I made my way to the kitchen and found her with her hands in the sink and the pile of dirty plates disappearing from one side and reappearing on the other clean.
Mum narrowed her eyes. “I don’t know if you are my daughter or not, I haven’t seen her for a while.”
“Hehe, haha.” What a perfect opening? Maybe. “Where’s dad?”
“Already at work.”
Ouch. Nice little stab there. “Well, mum I’ve got something to tell you.”
She gasped. “Are you pregnant?!”
“Hell no!” My period had been last week. “No, it isn’t like that… um, I’m moving in with Jai.”
She was judging. No, she was formulating a plan of sabotage. This was her favourite game after all, “devil’s advocate” she called it. “Over bearing” was my word choice. Mum pulled her hands from her washing up gloves and turned to me. “I will have to meet him.”
“And his parents.”
Mum cocked an eye brow.
“Well, I can understand why you want to meet Jai and in all honesty it has been long overdue.” Partly my fault, I was enjoying being away from my family a little too much, pretending to be a real grown up with a real grown up boyfriend, and never really considered that the two worlds would ever have to collide. “But why his family?”
“Because if I’m letting you move out of this house then I need to know where that boy has come from and if he is going to treat you well.”
Let me out of the house? What was I, Rapunzel and she my evil witch of a captor? I bit my tongue. No point in blowing up just right now. “Jai can come over for dinner this week and you can meet him then. His family on the other hand...” Mum was at least nodding her head. “I haven’t met them yet and I don’t know what their availability will be.” Diplomatic. Nice.
“Okay. When do you plan to move out?”
“This week.” Don’t say tonight, don’t say tonight, don’t say- “Are you alright with this mum?”
She turned from me, slipping her gloves back on.
I’d hurt her. Fuck. How can I be hurting her because I want to move in with my boyfriend?
“Of course. But I am going to play devil’s advocate, that’s my job after all. How are you going to pay the bills?”
There, the sabotage plan was being implemented. Many times my mother has talked me out of an idea with her questions and hypothetical situations; that is why I have not moved out before twenty-three, or learned to play an instrument, or gone camping. “We’re splitting everything fifty-fifty.”
“Will your job cover it?”
“Yes.” I’m not sure.
The home phone rang. Mum pulled off her gloves again and went to answer it. I took the chance to escape and closed the door to my bedroom lightly.
Jai’s key, I pulled it from my pocket. No matter what, I was moving out and moving in with a man I could possibly love... I grinned goofily at the piece of metal. “Time to get packing,” I looked around the room and sighed. “This is going to take a while.”