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Pen Your Pride

Joey gazed at Adrian as he held her hand across the table.  It was Wednesday, and they just had lunch at a cozy upscale restaurant near Sunway Mall.  There were only a few diners on that day, so Adrian removed his sunglasses and baseball cap and set these aside on the table.  Joey noticed one or two diners from a nearby table stealing glances in their direction.  It was obvious that they recognized Adrian, but they didn't make a fuss.  Instead, they whispered about it to their companions, perhaps out of shyness or in keeping with quiet ambience of the place.  Trying not be bothered, she shifted ever so slightly in her seat and smiled faintly at her boyfriend.   This was their first date away from the relative privacy of her uncle's house.  And if her reaction at this very moment was any indication, she wondered how she would feel if she witnessed, firsthand, Adrian being literally mobbed by screaming, eager fans.   It never occurred to her, until now, to search the web for videos of his past shows. She made a mental note to do so once she got home.

"A peso for your thoughts?", Adrian quipped, interrupting her reverie.

She shook her head.  "Nothing...... but you have some curious fans at the next table."

"That's okay."  He shrugged and let out a lopsided grin.  "They're probably admiring my gorgeous date."

"You're a sweet talker, Adrian Kho."

He went silent for a moment, as if in deep thought, and simply stared at her.  She arched her brows at him, trying to read his mind.

"Can you say that again?", he said at last.

"Say what again?"

"My name."

She creased her brows this time, wondering where this was leading to.  But she gave in to his request, just the same.

"Adrian Kho.", she said.

He smiled the sweetest smile.  As far back as he could remember, he never thought of his name any differently.   But coming from Joey, it sounded like she was saying 'Adrian ko'.  Directly translated, it meant 'My Adrian'.  The thought tickled him pink.

"And I'm all yours, Joey ko."

She smiled back, quickly catching on to his play on words. 'Kho' versus 'ko'.  Omitting one letter spelled the difference between an ordinary surname and a declaration of ownership.  Ownership!  She rolled the word over in her mind as if it was a new dish to be tasted.  This was all new to her – to be labeled as someone's own and to reciprocate the labeling.   Ever since she moved in with her grandparents, she had been independent, always marching to the beat of her own drum.  Now, having Adrian in her life meant being ever mindful of her actions and his consequent reactions.   It meant constantly thinking of his whereabouts and welfare --- not that she was complaining.   Their relationship was only four days old and it felt like their heads were still up in the clouds.  Everything Adrian did or said was thrilling or romantic or sweet.  Every new thing they discovered about each other was adorable and endearing.

After lunch, they set for home while the rain started pouring.   Adrian drove carefully along the drenched streets.  In between shifting gears, his right hand would rest on top of Joey's left hand which rested on her thigh.  When they stopped at a red light, he leaned over and asked for a kiss, and Joey willingly obliged.

"By the way, Joey, I forgot to tell you....I talked to my mom last night and I told her about you...about us.", Adrian said.

"Really?  What did she say?"

"She's happy for us, of course.   Next time I'll introduce you through Skype."

"Sure.", Joey replied.  In truth, she suddenly felt jittery at the thought of being introduced to his mom, but she dismissed her feelings for the meantime.  She'd cross that bridge when she gets there.  Adrian glanced at her, weighing her would-be reaction to a question burning in his mind.

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