She paused outside the door with the lock. Of the 9 bedrooms in the mansion, only one of them had a lock on the door. I knew there had to be a reason for the lock, and the look she gave me after looking at the lock.
"Do you remember the guy I was dating?" She started. I thought about it for a minute. That wasn't a very specific question. She had dated more people than even she could remember. She knew it and so did I. But I thought about the conversation we were just having.
"The architect?" I asked, emphasizing my own confusion. She laughed.
"He wasn't exactly an architect." She argued, which meant I was right about which guy.
"He designed houses." I reminded her, crossing my arms over my chest. She shook her head, almost in disbelief, but I could tell she was critisizing me at the same time. She was mostly looking at the floor now.
"Yes, but that's a profession of it's own. Anyways, you obviously remember him." She cut the comment short and looked back at me.
"I do." I didn't want to push the subject. The last thing I wanted to talk about was her ex-boyfriend, the rich and wonderful architect.
"Well, before we broke up, I showed him your dream apartment." She continued, trying to make it casual. I let my arms drop to my sides.
"Why?" I barked, though unintentionally. It was my apartment, after all. How did she have the right to show it to anyone?
"Because I thought it was cool." She mumbled. I sighed. I guess that's a good enough reason. A little flattering that she would think it was cool enough to show someone like him. If I have to see the bright side.
"And?" I asked, realizing she wasn't going to continue on her own.
"Apparently, so did he." She finished.
"What does that mean?" I sounded a little more snappy than I intended and I could tell it caught her off guard. Still, she kept her composure, leaning past me and grabbing the door handle. She pushed the door open and I turned around to see the unveiled room.
"Welcome home." She motioned into the room, though I wasn't paying any attention to her anymore. I didn't know what to say. It felt like walking into a picture. It was exactly like my drawing, only, condensed into a bedroom. It had a kitchen and bathroom. It had a picture window, overlooking the back yard. It was even better than the apartment I had envisioned because it wasn't in some random person's basement. It was in her house. In the room below hers. I shook my head, pushing the wonder out of mind for a minute.
"Does this mean you had him here to build this?" I asked. She shrugged.
"If it makes you feel better about it, I wasn't here when he was. Kevin oversaw the building and paid the guy. I just, suggested the designer." She rambled. I nodded, though I didn't understand.
"Why?" I asked after a few minutes of awkward silence.
"Because he's the only designer I know." She sounded defensive. I shook my head.
"I didn't mean why did you choose him. I meant, why would you do this?" I motioned to the brought-to-life version of my dream apartment. She shrugged.
"I have a few reasons. Do you want the logical or the whimsical?" She asked. It was my turn to shrug.
"I don't know, I'm more of the logical type myself." I hinted. She laughed, now walking into the room.
"Well, I know you're not in a great position financially. It's not easy living pay check to pay check. I know, I've done it for a long time." She paused, but I didn't interupt her train of thought.
"This house was a gift and, I wanted to share it with the people I care the most about." She finished, looking back at me. There was a sparkle in her eyes as she finished the sentence. I smiled, but more to myself.
"And the whimsical part?" I asked, following her into the room.
"If I sweetened the deal, how could you refuse it?" She wasn't looking at me as she answered. She didn't like to talk about her feelings. That was something that I knew was never going to change. Instead, she was staring out the window at the yard. Specifically, the pool. A few of her roommates, her friends, were splashing in the water. Clearly making a mess, but enjoying themselves in the process. She only seemed to care about the latter. I walked up behind her, following her stare.
"So, this was a bribe?" I asked softly. She shrugged.
"If you want to see it that way, I guess. I wanted to see it as security." She mumbled. I put my hands on her shoulders and she slowly turned to face me. I kissed her quick enough to catch her by surprise.
"You didn't need to sweeten the deal. It was already like winning the lottery." She laughed, stepping back.
"How can you ruin a perfectly beautiful moment?" She asked, pouting. I shook my head. Only she would think a compliment ruined the moment.
"I try too hard, don't I?" I asked, joining her laughter. She nodded.
"You really do." She agreed. I motioned around the room.
"I don't really think you can judge me for that though. I mean, at least I didn't build you a dream come true." I commented. She smirked.
"Well you're standing here, aren't you?" If she didn't throw in the sarcastic tone, it would have been one of the sweetest things she had ever said to me. I knew she genuinely felt that way. Her eyes gave her away, even when she wanted to be cold. It was her defensive mechanism. She built it over many years and many levels of pain that I couldn't begin to understand. There were times I wanted to break down that defense and get inside of her heart, her head. But the rest of me? I just took her as she was. There was something in her raw attitude, something more beautiful and sweet than anything the imagination could dream up. She cared too much and that was her problem. Standing here, watching her stare out the window and marvel in the opportunities she was able to gift her friends, it was obvious. She was larger than life, even if she would never see herself that way.