As Love Grows – Chapters 14 – 19

(1996) David and Juliet

 

Chapter Fourteen – May & Juliet Reunited

 

 

Juliet got out of the cab and stood at the curb, eyeing the townhouse in front of her.  She was finally here!  She shouldered her carryon bag and dragged her luggage up the small flight of stairs as quickly as she could.  Taking a deep breath to calm her wildly beating heart, she pressed the doorbell and wait, praying that the occupant was in.

 

“Who is it,” a voice said over the intercom to the right of the door.

 

“May Ling,” Juliet grinned.

 

Immediately a scream was heard over the intercom and through the door which was flung open a few seconds later.  Juliet was almost knocked to the ground as May came flying at her in a blur.  “Julie!  Oh my God!  You should’ve told me you’re coming!” May practically screamed into her ear as both girls shared a hug and hopped with joy.

 

Juliet laughed as she held her best friend away from her and said, “Stop screaming!  Oh my poor ears!”

 

May finally managed to contain herself and smiled sheepishly.  “I’m sorry, Julie.  I just never expected you to turn up here.”   Both girls embraced again, this time with quiet appreciation of the comfort one brought to the other.

 

“Yeah, I probably wouldn’t have if Mami and Big Brother weren’t so anxious to know how you’ve been doing over here.  So, are we going to just stand here and talk till I board the next flight out?”

 

“Oh, sorry!  Come in, please,” May picked up Juliet’s luggage and led her into the house.

 

“Neat little house you have here,” Juliet remarked as she scanned the room.

 

“It was part of dad’s will.  He bought it as an investment and leased it out.  I guess he and Mummy Elsie had big plans for me to study here.  I needed a place to stay here so when the lease ended recently, I took over.”

 

“I’m surprised Big Brother let you live here instead of in the hostel.”

 

“He said that since I’m old enough to live alone I should make use of this townhouse because it was my dad’s intention when he bought this place.”

 

“You’re a lucky girl, May.”

 

“We both are.  We have Mami,” May paused to gauge Juliet’s reaction.  When she saw Juliet about to nod her head in agreement, she added, “And Big Brother, too.”   That immediately brought a scowl to Juliet’s face and May giggled.

 

May went about showing Juliet around the house and when they finally got to the guestroom that Juliet would be sleeping in, the older girl plopped onto the bed and sighed, “This is heaven, May.  I’ve always wanted to have a place like this to call my own.”

 

“It’s yours too, if you want to stay here.”

 

“What reason would I have?”

 

“Study here.”

 

“I don’t know how you do it, May.  Big Brother has always treated us like babies but still he encouraged you to come here.  Me?  No way he’s going to let me live so far away without a very good reason,” Juliet said, letting out a big sigh.

 

“He always has our best interests at heart.  We should be grateful that he’s still keeping an eye on us despite him being so busy with his own career.  How many people get a big brother like him?”

 

Juliet thought for a moment, “Sometimes I wished he’d lighten up a bit and enjoy life the way he should instead of worrying so much about What’s happening at home and us.  We’re all grown-ups now, we know what to do.  Guess he’s just trying to be a father figure to us.  Sometimes I feel so sorry for him having to shoulder so much burden, but then I can’t help being awful to him when he keeps shouting at me and ordering me about.”

 

“You’re lucky he didn’t take a stick to your hide that time when you played truant.  I thought for sure you would be in deep trouble,” May smiled as her mind wandered back to the day when she arrived home from a school break to find Big Brother shouting the house down at Juliet.  She had skipped school to wait for May as it was the first time since the younger girl left for London that she was returning for a two-week break.

 

“He didn’t because I told him I wanted to be home to welcome you back.  It softened him a little, though in typical Big Brother fashion, he had to yell at me and deliver his usual lecture about getting good grades and all,” Juliet grinned when she recalled how Urs’ eyes shone with understanding when she had whispered meekly that she missed May and wanted to spend as much time with her as she could before they were separated again.

 

May laughed, “That’s him alright.”

 

“Maybe I can get a job here after my university studies. It’s hard enough for me to get into the University of Zurich, getting a place in a university here would be near impossible.  Besides, it’ll cost a bomb,” Juliet said as she got up to unpack her bag.

 

May observed Juliet as she put away her clothes neatly into the wardrobe and drawers.  So like Urs and the other Buhler siblings, so organised and neat.  Her hair had grown longer, May noticed, but still unruly as she and Urs seemed to be cursed with the curls.  But that’s not too bad, she thought, better than my own straight boring locks.

 

They had a simple dinner of seafood spaghetti and then sat down in front of the tv for a movie, snacks and some chitchat, just like when May was back in the Buhlers’ household during her school breaks.

 

“Do you have to go to school tomorrow?” Juliet asked, stifling a yawn.  It was a long flight and she was feeling jetlagged but too highly strung to sleep.  She had been to the States a couple of times to visit Lynette, who worked in New York as a financial advisor of a bank, but travelling long distance didn’t always agree with her.

 

“Yes, big performance coming up this weekend.  We’ll be performing with students from the opera theatre on Saturday.  I hear the Mayor is coming for the show in support of the local arts education.”

 

“Wow, that’s cool!  I’m so proud of you, May,” Juliet gave May a hug.  “Alright then, I’ll just do some sightseeing on my own,” Juliet sounded disappointed.  She didn’t want to go alone but she understood that May had priorities in life.

 

“Hey, why don’t you come and meet me after the rehearsal and we’ll hit the town or do whatever you want to do?  I’ll be done by two,” May gently nudged her friend who was close to falling asleep on the sofa.

 

“Hmmm?  Oh, ok.  I need to sleep now,” and her head would have hit the sofa if it wasn’t for May stopping her.  Pulling her friend up, May gently guided her into the bedroom and helped pick out her pyjamas.

 

Chapter Fifteen – Backdoor encounter

 

May left the apartment early the next morning after making breakfast for Juliet who was still sleeping.  She wrote the older girl instructions on how to get to the auditorium and put the slip of paper underneath her breakfast plate.

 

Juliet woke up at almost ten o’clock and padded into May’s room to find it empty.

 

“Darn!  Hope she made breakfast,” she muttered to herself as she felt her stomach growl.  She was usually an early riser as she loved going outdoor early morning to catch the morning dew drops and breath the crisp cool air but that was when she was back home in Willisau, Switzerland.  Seeing breakfast on the table, she smiled; May had made her favourite omelette and orange juice.

 

 

Juliet stood outside the backdoor of the auditorium where May was rehearsing with the orchestra and some opera singers.  She had left the house an hour early and got to the venue with twenty minutes to spare.  She tried to get into the auditorium through the front entrance but the people there weren’t very friendly; they wouldn’t allow her near the hall nor would they help her pass a message to May.  She had to resort to going in through the back but since the backdoor was locked from the inside, she had to wait for someone to come out in order to go in.

 

She paced back and forth before stopping to listen.  Someone was opening the door.  She ran up the steps leading to the door but as she reached the top step, she tripped and would’ve fell face down if she hadn’t smashed her forehead against something very cushiony yet firm.

 

“Oof!” that ‘something’ muttered and it seemed like the wind was knocked out of it.

 

Juliet felt a hand grabbed at her waist to steady her when she was thrown back by the impact of the collision and she looked up dazed.  When her eyes found their focus, she could only see the top two buttons of a man’s shirt.  She raised her head higher and came face to face with a chin and wondered if she would ever get to the face.

 

“What are you doing here, Miss?”

 

Finally her eyes connected with the face, then the eyes.  Gosh, is he tall or what, she thought as she pushed back a little with her hands on the man’s chest to take a better look at her saviour.

 

“Oh, er…I’m waiting for my sister to finish her rehearsal.  Do you suppose I can wait inside?”  She felt like a midget standing in front of a giant as she gently shrugged off his hold on her.

 

“I don’t think so.  You should ask at the front counter,” he said with a slight frown.  His chest was starting to hurt a little from the collision and he resisted the urge to rub at it.  Not too macho-looking if he did that.

 

“But they refused to help me call my sister who’s a violin player with the orchestra and she told me to meet her here but I couldn’t get her on the phone so I need a place to sit and wait for her to finish,” she blurted out and was almost breathless when she was done, her Swiss accent becoming stronger as she felt stressed out.

 

He smiled and shook his head, “I’m sorry, but I think I just lost you.  You’re not from here, are you?”

 

Lost me?  Is he dumb or what?  Then she stood up straight and tall, though apparently not tall enough for him, and spoke very slowly, “I.am.from.Swit.zer.land.  Sis.ter.in.re.hear.sal. Get it?”  She purposely punctuated those words because she was getting annoyed and frustrated.  Not to mention that her forehead was throbbing from the knock.  She would have thought she had run into a brick wall instead of a man’s chest if she hadn’t seen it for herself.

 

He threw back his head and laughed.  “Got it!  The rehearsal is almost done now so I think your sister should be out very soon.”

 

Just then her phone started ringing.  Juliet fumbled in her bag and fished out her phone.  “Hey, I’m at the back door.  None of the staff here would help me out, not even that giant standing at the back door.”

 

He grinned.  Cute!

 

“What giant?  Tall, blonde, goofy-looking with hoops on his ears,” she lowered her voice but not low enough because she could see him roll his eyes upwards.

 

Maybe not so cute, he changed his mind.

 

Juliet wanted to laugh at his reaction but kept a straight face instead.  Big Brother would be horrified by her rudeness.  “Ok, I’ll wait here.  Make it quick, I’m getting tired from walking and standing, and it’s hot out here.”  She put the phone back into her bag and looked at the tall guy, “Looks like I’ll have to wait here.  Mind if I sit on the steps?”

 

He smiled at her before opening the door wider, “There are chairs just inside the door.”  When she made no move to go in, he said, “Go on.  We don’t want a fainting female out here.”

 

Juliet thought he had the most captivating smile she had ever seen.  On other days she might be tempted to make his acquaintance but today was just not the day.  The weather was hot and she was hungry again.  So, murmuring a thank you, she walked past him and into the building.  True enough, just beside the door was a couple of chairs, possibly for the security staff, she thought.

 

As she sat down, she noticed the door had closed and the man was gone.  A sense of loss washed over her and she felt weird.  Why would she feel that way about a total stranger?  Images of his broad muscular chest and his warm sunny smile immediately appeared in her mind. “Darn! Should’ve asked for his name,” she thought with a wry smile.

 

A few seconds later, the door opened again and in came the blonde guy talking into his mobile phone.  She heard part of the conversation and it seemed that he had forgotten something and was asking his friend to wait while he retrieved his stuff.  He walked past her without so much as a glance in her direction.

 

Juliet, however, eyed the man with interest and was almost gawking at his tall frame and easy gait.  She was almost disappointed when May turned up before the blonde guy came back out again.  As both of them headed out the door and into the sunshine, she turned back to take one last look at the backdoor, almost willing it to open and bring out the man with the golden smile.

 

 

Chapter Sixteen – Juliet’s confession

 

May took Juliet sightseeing around Oberlin and finally stopped for dinner at a sidewalk café.  During dinner, Juliet told May her experience earlier in the day when she was at the auditorium.  She told her how unfriendly the staff were and how she finally made it into the back of the building.

 

“That tall guy initially refused to let me in, telling me to go to the front counter.  Do you know his name?” she asked hopefully.

 

“Julie, there are many tall guys around,” May pointed out.

 

“Tall, blonde, big smile and wearing hoops on his ears.  Do you have a stagehand fitting that description?”

 

“Not that I know of.  Why are you so interested?”

 

“Because he’s cute, that’s why!” Juliet gave her a cheeky grin.

 

May rolled her eyes, “I should’ve known!”

 

It was late when they got home and the moment they stepped into the house, Juliet’s phone rang.  It was Urs, checking on her to make sure she was safe.

 

“Brother, I reached here yesterday and had a day of sightseeing today.  If you were really that worried you should’ve called yesterday,” Juliet made a face and May grinned.

 

“You were supposed to call me,” he reminded her, “Let me talk to May.”

 

Juliet thrust the phone to the younger girl and left her to talk to her brother while she went to take a bath.

 

“I know, Big Brother, keep an eye on Julie,” May said over the phone by way of a greeting.

 

Urs chuckled, “No, that’s not what I was going to say, but still it would be good if you could do that.”

 

May’s laughter filtered into the long distance call.  “Ok, what about?”

 

“Just wanted to see how you’re doing.  How’s life over there?”

 

They spent half an hour chatting about how she was doing in Ohio.  Even though she had been here for about two years and they got to meet at home at least once a year, still he would call to check on her.  Like Juliet, he was very proud of her and he told her so.  May felt her cheeks warm at the compliments he paid her.

 

They talked about his voice study under some renowned opera singers in Amsterdam to enrich his classical repertoire.  He seemed to be enjoying what he was doing and May was happy for him.  By the time they hung up, it was close to eleven and she was feeling physically drained.  She went to return the mobile phone to Juliet only to find her sprawled on the bed fast asleep.

 

Juliet had drifted off to sleep the moment her head hit the pillow and was soon dreaming away.  Her dream left her waking up with a smile though she couldn’t recall exactly what she dreamt about.  She knew it was about someone, but for the life of her she couldn’t remember who, nor could she see the face of the person in her dream.  What she knew was a feeling of warmth and fuzziness enveloping her in the dream and that was the feeling she woke up with in the morning.

 

Just before May left for her final rehearsal before the performance in the evening the next day, Juliet asked for a ticket to the show.

 

“I thought opera and classical music aren’t on your list of favourite things to listen to,” May looked at her with a puzzled expression.

 

“With Big Brother making headway with his classical music studies, I thought I’d better learn to appreciate this genre of music, though he and I could probably go on and on about heavy metal music without getting into a fight with each other.  Besides, I want to see if I could catch blondie,” Juliet grinned sheepishly.

 

“I knew it!  So you don’t mind sitting through the high ‘C’s and ‘A’s just for a stranger whom you hardly know?  Sheesh, this must be serious!” May teased, laughter bubbled up inside her.

 

“Well, it’s kind of romantic if you think about it.  A girl on holiday meeting a cute guy and feeling attracted to him, only to forget to ask his name and contact number and thus missing the opportunity of a lifetime.”  Juliet frowned when she thought how she just let him leave her there, without even thanking him properly for allowing her to sit inside the building.

 

May peered into her eyes, “Oh my goodness!  Your pupils are even turning into heart shapes!  You must be serious!  Wait till Big Brother hears about this.”

 

“Don’t you dare squeal on me, May Ling!  I’ll never talk to you again if you do,” Juliet looked terrified at the thought of Urs finding out her little fantasy.

 

How different can they be? May thought.  One so conservative while the other so open and wild.

 

“Your secret is safe with me.  But you have to promise not to rush into anything.  I mean, that’s a stagehand you’re talking about, he’s probably much older than you and besides, you’re living miles away while he’s here.  Long distance relationship can be tough,” May cautioned.

 

“What are you talking about?  I’m not going to just jump into a relationship with him.  I’m just…curious about what kind of person his is, apart from being a hunk of a man,” Juliet stuck out her tongue playfully.  “Anyway, thanks.  You’ll always be my best friend.  You know too much!”

 

So, they decided that Juliet would accompany May to the rehearsal but she would stay backstage as May didn’t have a ticket for her.  Juliet was hopeful that some kind soul would offer her a ticket to watch May perform even though she knew the chances of catching blondie again would be greater if she stayed backstage.

 

What were the odds that he was one of the performers and not a stagehand?  Not much, she reckoned.  With that totally fashionable look, complete with earrings, he couldn’t be one of the opera performers.  An image of Luciano Pavarotti immediately sprung to mind at the thought of opera singers.  She couldn’t seem to recall seeing any such famous male singers wearing hoops or spotting a fashionable haircut; and these men were never that lean and fit.  Wait a minute, what about Big Brother?  She dismissed him as one of a kind, not to be confused with any of the pot-bellied elderly opera singers.  Anyway, blondie certainly looked more like a stagehand than a performer.  And if he was one of the orchestra members May would’ve known him.

 

With these crazy thoughts going through her mind, she set to work getting ready to go to the auditorium with May.

 

 

Chapter Seventeen – Will they ever get it right?

 

The backstage buzzed with activities as musicians, singers, organisers, management staff and production crew went about getting ready for the show that night.  It was a charity event meant for raising funds for the development of better educational facilities and also to bring music education to the less privileged.

 

May got Juliet a backstage pass so she could move about without being questioned.  Juliet went about exploring on her own while May joined her fellow orchestra players for last minute practises.  She watched with great interest the comings and goings in the back of the stage and a couple of times managed to chat up a few people involved in the performance, telling them that she was doing a project on stage management.   It wasn’t true of course but she didn’t feel like explaining how she got the admittance to the backstage.

 

She saw two women who seemed to command a lot of respect from the staff and presumed these were guest performers who were there for the rehearsal.  She walked around the place but didn’t bump into the man she wanted to meet, so she took a seat in the lounge area after asking for permission from the staff.

 

Twenty-three-year-old David Miller was getting ready for his performance and as he walked out of the dressing room he shared with a few other male student actors, he was met by the two opera singers whom he had the honour of performing with.  They chatted as they walked along the corridor, all of them heading to the stage to do one last rehearsal together.  They passed the lounge area and David noticed a figure sitting on the sofa, typing away on the mobile phone.  He thought she looked familiar but she had her face turned away from him.  He was about to approach the girl when Monique, one of the two sopranos, held him back and led him towards the stage.

 

Juliet was replying to a text from her sister Lynette, who asked if she would like to pop by her place before heading home.  She told Lynette she couldn’t as she had to go back to school.  When she had finished typing out her message, she looked up just in time to see the back of a group of three people walk pass her; it was the two ladies she saw a while ago with a tall blonde guy in their midst.

 

Tall?  Blonde?  Could it be him?  But he was headed out to the stage with the two well-dressed women.  No, it couldn’t be, she thought.  She turned her attention back to the text message that just came in from Lynette and continued to hold a text conversation with her sister.

 

From where she sat, she could hear the music coming from the stage.  It was faint, but she could make out the voices of the opera singers, a tenor and two soprano voices.  Her mother and Big Brother were lovers of the operas and they often played opera and classical music at home so she knew something of that kind of music.  She could tell the tenor voice she just heard was beautiful and powerful at the same time.

 

She walked nearer the stage out of curiosity and felt the back of her hair stand as the tenor voice went soaring into the roof of the auditorium in perfect pitch.  She tried to make out his form but all she could see was some of the orchestra players.  She couldn’t even see May at all.

 

After the rehearsal, May found Juliet sitting on the lounge sofa, bored out of her skin.  She went over and plopped down beside her.

 

“Bored, huh?”

 

Juliet grinned sheepishly, “Guess I should’ve listened to you and do some sightseeing on my own.”

 

May laughed, her voice ringing in the quiet lounge.  “Come, we have two hours before the show.  Let’s go grab a bite.”

 

They walked to the nearby café and sat at a table on the boardwalk.  They ordered a sandwich and coffee each.  As they sat watching people go by, they chatted about the rehearsal.  May wasn’t nervous about being on the big stage, she said.  Instead, she relished the idea of being a solo artist one day.

 

“I don’t know how you do it, May.  You seem so timid and shy but you always take to the big stage like a fish takes to water.  Like Urs.  You both are so alike in so many ways,” Juliet mused.

 

“You can hardly say he’s shy and timid.  I suspect I was shy and timid because he scared me to death with those steely gaze on my first meeting with you guys,” May reminisced with a little smile on her face.  She could still remember that day very clearly, and Urs’ face was firmly etched in her memory.

 

She remembered feeling very intimidated and yet somewhere deep inside her she was angry with him.  She didn’t really know why; perhaps she was angry that he didn’t give her a chance.  She might be young then but she was quite an independent child who was mature for her age.  Having to grow up quickly when her mother suffered through two years of sickness made her strong and gave her a different perspective from other kids her age of what life was all about.

 

“But things changed once he heard you play the violin.  He was very nice and soft to you after that.  Perhaps I should’ve taken up the piano or violin back then, then maybe he wouldn’t have jumped at me all the time,” Juliet scowled.

 

“Well, perhaps you two were too alike in that you both love the outdoors, the motorbikes and heavy metal music.  You even have the same curly hair and hazel brown eyes, even if yours aren’t almond-shaped like his.  He just wanted you to do well in your studies so you could be what you want to be, and he’s been a good role model for all of us.  Look where he’s got you now, University of Zurich!”

 

Juliet smiled.  May was right. If it wasn’t for Big Brother, she would’ve dropped out of school and would probably need Mami to shelter her for the rest of her life.

 

“Hey, I’m going to go in and get another cup of coffee.  You want?” she asked May who nodded.

 

Juliet went inside the café and ordered two coffees.  Carrying the two cups in her hands, she struggled to open the door.  She didn’t bother to use a tray and was regretting that decision.  As she tried to push the door with her hip, the door suddenly opened.  She lost her balance and stumbled out the door, spilling one cup of coffee in her hand.

 

“Ouch!  That’s hot!” she squealed, dropping the cup and shaking her scalded hand trying to get rid of the coffee that was dripping off it.

 

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” said the man who opened the door.

 

“Sorry?  My hand’s hurting and you’re sorry?  Do you think that’s going to make it better?” in between shaking her hand and licking it to cool her burning skin, Juliet gave vent to her anger.

 

David stood there dumbfounded.  He didn’t know what to do as he stared at the mess on the floor and the wild haired girl in front of him, frantically waving her hand about.  Finally finding his voice, he told her, “Gee, Miss, if I had known you were opening the door from the inside, I would’ve waited outside.  I really am sorry.  Here, let me help you with this coffee while you go wash your hand under a cold tap.  It should relieve the pain.”

 

There was nothing she could do but to do as he said.  Handing him the remaining cup of drink, she went back into the café and headed straight for the washroom to let the tap water cool her hand.

 

 

Chapter Eighteen – At long last

 

“Hey, David!” May waved to the tall blonde guy who stood at the café door holding a cup of coffee.  Since she was seated a few tables away from the entrance of the café, she didn’t hear or see the commotion at the door.

 

David was torn between waiting at the door for wild-haired girl and going over to say hi to May.  She was an outstanding musician and he had a good impression of her during their two rehearsals.  Besides, she was quite pretty and he couldn’t help but feel attracted to her.  Finally, he decided to walk over to say hello while keeping an eye out for the girl.

 

“Hi, May.  Having a break, huh?”

 

He had the widest grin she had ever seen and it seemed to light up not just his face but the whole place.  May felt herself warm up to him.

 

“Yeah.  Want to join us?”

 

“Us?”

 

“Yes, me and my best friend.  She just went in to get us some coffee.”

 

“Your best friend just went in to get two cups of coffee?” David’s mind immediately played a flashback: wild-haired girl was carrying two cups of coffee!

 

“Yes.  Wonder What’s taking her so long,” May looked towards the door.  “I see you’ve already got your coffee.  Why don’t you just take a seat here, or are you with somebody?” she asked.

 

“Er, no.  And I think I know why your friend’s taking so long,” he smiled ruefully at her which gave her a feeling something had happened to Juliet.  “Is your friend the one with the wild hair?”

 

She grinned as realisation suddenly dawned on her; tall, blonde, hoops and…goofy grin?  Well, maybe just a little, she chuckled.  “So you’ve met her?”

 

He took a seat and May laughed when he told her how Juliet just gave him an earful after he had caused her to spill a cup of coffee onto her own hand.

 

“I hope she’s ok,” David looked genuinely sorry for what happened.

 

“Don’t worry, David.  She has a quick temper but it usually lasts only for a couple of minutes.  And I’m sure she’s alright, otherwise I’d be hearing her screams from here,” May joked to lighten him up but still there was a slight frown on his face.

 

“Let me pop over to the pharmacy across the road and get her a salve, just in case she is badly scalded.”  Before he left, he turned and said in all seriousness, “Please tell her to wait for me.  I don’t think I can sleep well if I don’t do this right.”

 

May nodded her understanding and looked at him with amusement.  She tried not to laugh at the thought that Juliet would be so surprised when she got back and saw him again.

 

Juliet turned up when he had just crossed the road and was heading into the pharmacy.  She sat heavily down on the chair and immediately launched into a not so lady-like explanation of what went on earlier and why she didn’t have any coffee with her.

 

“And that guy just disappeared with my coffee!”

 

“Calm down, Julie, ‘cause you’re about to meet your Prince Charming,” May said with a mysterious smile.  From what Juliet had told her, it seemed that she hadn’t realised that the guy who caused her all that grief a while ago was the Blondie she was looking for.

 

“Huh?”

 

“Just wait and see.  Mr Tall, Blonde and Goofy Grin is on the way here,” May could feel a laughter bubbling up inside her and she tried not to let it spill over.

 

“He’s here? Oh my God, how do I look?  May, I need a mirror.  Do you have a lipstick with you?  Hold on, I think I have it,” she began to rummage through her bag and took out her cosmetic pouch.  Trying her best to tame her unruly locks to no avail, she decided to use a hairclip to pin the hair on both sides of her face back.  Then she applied a little lipstick and asked, “How do I look?”

 

“Better,” came a voice behind her.

“Yikes!” Juliet jumped up from her seat, knocking over her chair in the process.  May broke out in a fit of laughter as David just stood there grinning at Juliet.

 

“I’m sorry I caused you to hurt your hand.  Here, I got you a salve from the pharmacy.  Would you like me to apply it for you?”  He picked up her left hand and inspected it.  “Gosh, it’s still red,” he mumbled.

 

He sat her down on the chair after righting it.   Taking a seat beside her, he began to unscrew the cap on the tube of salve, his brows knitted in full concentration at what he was doing.

 

All this while Juliet was just staring at him, wondering why he was doing what he was doing with her hand, her mind unable to register what he had just said.  She didn’t see the face of the man who opened the door just now as she was busy trying to get rid of the hot coffee on her hand.

 

And while he was applying the ointment on her hand, she was looking at him with a sense of wonder.  May wished she could snap a picture of her staring stupidly at Blondie but she didn’t want to be rude.  Having spent so much time under the watchful eyes of big brother, his sense of propriety had sort of rubbed off on her.

 

“There, I hope you feel better now,” David smiled at her and then looked a little concerned when she didn’t respond to him.  “Are you alright, Miss?  Is it still hurting?”

 

What beautiful smile, she observed.  His blue-grey eyes, his straight nose, his cheekbones, and those sensual lips all fitted his longish face very well, and his body…Juliet decided she shouldn’t even go there.

 

May gave Juliet a slight nudge and woke her from her trance.  “What?  Oh, I ‘m fine now.  Thank you,” she blabbered, embarrassed at being caught staring at him.

 

“Hey, you are the Swiss girl I met yesterday at the backdoor of the auditorium!”  It only just dawned on David who the wild-haired girl was because his mind was preoccupied at the damage he might have caused to her hand.  And what a smooth hand she has, he thought.  He kept her hand in his while they sat and silently stared at each other.  And those lips, they looked so kissable.

 

May was beginning to feel uncomfortable as the atmosphere slowly thickened.  Should she quietly slink away and leave them to figure each other out, she pondered.  She decided against it and thought she should help them along.

 

“David, please meet my best friend and sister, Juliet Buhler.”  Nudging the girl, she said, “Juliet, this is David Miller, a fellow student at the Oberlin Conservatory.”

 

“Best friend and sister…sounds interesting,” David smiled at the introduction, staring straight into Juliet’s hazel brown eyes.

 

Juliet blushed.  For the first time in her nineteen years she was lost for words.  All her mind could register was how big and smooth his hands felt and how gentle he was when he applied the ointment for her.  And then there was the killer smile; not as goofy as she first thought when they met at the backdoor of the auditorium, more like a mega-watt kind of smile that could brighten up the darkest day of her life.  The more she thought of him, the more tongue-tied she was.

 

Wait a minute!  Did May just say he was a student at Oberlin?  Whatever happened to the stagehand?

 

“You were the one who sang the opera just now, weren’t you?” Juliet frowned as she tried to remember what she saw backstage earlier on.  It was him she saw with the two ladies, she was sure now.

 

“Yes.  I hope I haven’t shattered your eardrums,” David grinned.

 

“Er, no, not at all.  I thought you sounded great.”

 

Juliet smiled for the first time in his presence and David realised what a beauty she was.  But he really shouldn’t be thinking about her at all.  “Thank you, Juliet.  Now, what was this best friend and sister tag?” he looked from Juliet to May and then back to Juliet again.

 

After explaining to David about how she and Juliet had become friends and sisters, May announced that they should leave for the auditorium.  Much as she would like this moment to go on forever for Juliet’s sake, she and David did have a performance to attend to and they really had to get going.

 

“Right.  Nice meeting you, Juliet.  Are you coming to the show?” he asked, letting go of her hand at last.

 

The lost of his hand brought her mind back to the present and she shook her head, “No, I don’t have a ticket.”  Somewhere in the back of her mind she wished that he would produce the ticket that she needed.

 

“Well, I’m sorry to hear that.  I don’t have any tickets too,” he looked genuinely apologetic and maybe even a little disappointed and Juliet thought that was very sweet of him.

 

“It’s alright.  I’ve heard you sing at the rehearsal and I guess that’s good enough,” she smiled again.

 

How cute, he thought.  He had never met a girl like her, so honest with her feelings and expression.

 

Juliet decided to go back to May’s apartment so May and David made sure she got into a cab before they left for the performance.  Throughout the ride back, which wasn’t very far, all Juliet could think of was David.  Darn, she had forgotten to ask for his contact number!

 

 

Chapter Nineteen – Heartbreak

 

May thoroughly enjoyed performing with the school’s symphony orchestra and she was really pleased to see how well David had performed too with the two guest sopranos.  He was fearless and faultless and his expressive features conveyed the emotions of the lyrics.  The only regret May had was that Juliet didn’t get to see all this and she was scheduled to fly back home in another two days’ time.

 

At the end of the performance, May saw David at the back of the stage.  She wanted to get his contact number for Juliet but there was a petite blonde with her hands wrapped around his waist while his hand rested possessively over her shoulders.  They were talking to two older people whom May presumed to be related to David as the man looked a lot like him.  He must be David’s father, she thought.  The older man then took a photo of David, the blonde and the older woman whom May presumed to be David’s mother as he had a hand over her shoulder and was looking adoringly at her.

 

May observed all that from a distance and concluded that Juliet would be better off if she could forget about him.  When she heard his mother address the girl as Annie, May realised that the girl fitted the description of a student from the Theatre and Dance department, a very popular girl in the campus.  May had heard the name from other classmates and it seemed that Annie was a very exceptional dancer, one scouted by professional dance company.  Well, Juliet certainly doesn’t need this piece of information, she thought.

 

May was about to head out the backdoor when David called out to her, “May, wait!”   She turned around and saw him walking towards her in big strides which wasn’t difficult for a big guy like him, she mused.

 

“Are you going home alone?  Would you like a lift?” he seemed genuinely concerned and it warmed May’s heart.

 

“It’s alright, David.  It’s been a long night; you should go back and rest.  I”ll take a cab home, though my place really isn’t that far from here.”

“Where’s Juliet, your wild-haired sister and best friend?  Or was it the other way around?” he tilted his head a little with a frowned, making him look like he was trying to figure out which.

 

May laughed at his comical expression.  “The other way round, David.  Anyway, she’s gone back already, remember?” she gave him a teasing look which made him chuckle.

 

“Right, you got me there.  Please tell her I’m really sorry for the little accident this afternoon and that she should keep applying the salve until the redness is gone.”

 

“I’ll tell her that.  It’s really nice to know you, David,” May really meant it and David could see that.

 

He took a step forward and hugged her.  “I’m glad we met, May.  You’re a fantastic violinist, you’ll make it big one day.”

 

With that, they said their goodnights and went their separate ways.  May would’ve asked for his phone number but she could see Annie hovering not far away so she decided against it.  She would surely see him around the school campus now that she knew who to look out for.

 

Juliet was asleep by the time May got back home but she woke up when she heard the front door being closed and locked.  She waited until May got to her bedroom before going over to chat with her.

 

“So how did it go?” she asked as May got ready for a shower.

 

“Great.  Everything went without a hitch.  The conductor was pleased, the organiser was pleased, the Mayor was impressed, and everyone left with a smile on their faces.”

 

“So…did you speak with David again?” Juliet asked tentatively, her eyes looking down as she tried to hide her eagerness from May.  Boy, did she have it bad!

 

May observed her for a moment before sitting down next to her.  Deciding that her friend had every right to know the truth, she told her what she saw backstage and the little conversation she had with David.

 

“So there goes my holiday romance, huh?  Well, it’s ok.  At least he held my hand and seemed so concerned for me,” Juliet’s smile was a little strained and May saw through her disappointment.  She drew the older girl into her arms and comforted her.

 

“You’ll meet the right guy when the time is right, Julie.  No need to hurry.  You’re only nineteen.  Besides, guys this age aren’t always serious about relationships.”  Saying that brought back memories of Juliet’s ex-boyfriend who only lasted for six months.  Juliet had found him two-timing her at a local pub in her hometown and unlucky for him, Urs was with her.  According to Juliet, Big Brother gave the guy a big wallop and warned him to stay away from her.  With a brother like Urs, who needs a bodyguard?  May chuckled at the thought.

 

“Well, thanks a lot, May.  I’m here nursing a broken heart and you’re there laughing at something else.  Some best friend you are!” Juliet made a face.

 

“Come on, Julie.  You’ll get over him like you got over Daniel.  You only have two more days left here so let’s not let a guy ruin it for you.  We’ll do whatever you want to do tomorrow, ok?”

 

May was made to regret saying that because the next day, Juliet dragged her to rent a motorbike and off they went exploring the town with May riding pillion and hanging on to Juliet for dear life.  Riding behind Urs years ago seemed much safer, she thought.

 

Very soon, it was time to say goodbye.  May helped Juliet pack her luggage and smiled when she saw the pink hippo, May Ling.  Going to her own bedroom, she brought over her own grey hippo, Juliurs.  Together, they each hugged their own plush toy and took a picture.  That picture was later framed up and hung in the bedroom of both girls back in Mami’s home.

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