January 4th, 1989

Orlando, Florida

Gabriel’s parents’ house

Liza woke me up with a cup of tea, and sat on the edge of Gabriel’s bed. I tried my best to ignore my pounding headache, while Liza chatted for ages, as my mum is apt to do. I think mum and Liza are a lot alike, certainly in the way they treat others, but also in their appearance, with their blonde hair.

Once I was showered and dressed (in Carina’s shorts, and a sweatshirt borrowed from Liza. Fortunately, in a clean pair of knickers I had, stashed in my toiletry bag!) I met Gabriel in the kitchen. The first thing he asked was how my head felt.
“Bloody awful.”
Gabriel chuckled and gave me something called Advil that quickly worked wonders, and got rid of my headache. Well, that, plus a few cups of milky tea. With the headache taken care of, we scoffed breakfast down, and made plans to go to Daytona Beach.

I enjoyed taking in the sights on the drive to Daytona, and in between listening to the radio, we talked about all kinds of stuff; from our worst hangover experience, to how different the cars are here.
“Is your car small?” he asked.
“I don’t have a car.”
“How do you get around?”
“I use public transport, mostly the train.”
“That’s crazy,” he said, shaking his head.
“I like trains. I write a lot when I’m on the train.”
“That’s cool. My girlfriend likes to…”
I stared at him. “You have a girlfriend?”
“Maybe not. We had a big fight the night before I left.”
“I didn’t know you had a girlfriend.”
“You sound pissed,” he said.
“What? Still?”
“No, pissed, like angry.”
“Is that what pissed means here?” I asked.
“Uh-huh,” he said, moving into the fast lane.
“Then yes, I’m pissed, and surprised to hear you have a girlfriend. You should have told me.” I felt myself straightening up in the passenger seat.
“I’m sorry,” he said, looking over at me.
“Well, tell me now.”
He inhaled deeply, and exhaled slowly. “I had a girlfriend. We had a fight. It was bad. That’s what I know.”
“I wish you had told me.”
“I’m sorry.” He reached his hand over to mine. I ignored his gesture. “Do you want me to turn around?”
“I don’t know.”
“We’re almost there, but I’ll turn around if you want.”
“Shit,” I said, loudly.

We drove in silence for the remainder of the drive. In my head I thought of so many things I wanted to say, but everything felt a bit jumbled and I knew if I spoke I’d sound really angry, so I kept my thoughts to myself.

Gabriel pulled into the parking lot, and shut off the engine.
“I should have told you about Maria. But, right now, there’s no Maria. And you know what? It feels good being away from the fighting. Being with my family again. Hanging out with you.”
“So it’s all her fault?”
“No,” he said, shaking his head. “I can be a real asshole sometimes.”
“I know,” I said, without meaning to.
He reached his hand over, and this time, I put my hand on top of his. He smiled. “You know, before I messed things up, I figured we could rent bikes and go exploring, but if you want to go back, we’ll go back.”
“Shit, I don’t know,” I sighed.
“It’s your call.”
“Let me get this straight. Do you have a girlfriend or not?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “At this moment in time, I do not have a girlfriend, because the night before I left, we got into a fight, and she said she wanted a break.”
“You didn’t tell me that part. And what did you say?”
“I said ok.”
“Just like that?” I asked.
“Uh-huh, just like that.” He leaned forward in an exaggerated way, and looked up at the sky. “Man, it looks real nice out there, be great to get some bikes and see the place. What do you think?” He could hardly contain his smile.
I hit his arm. “We’re already here.”
“Is that a yes?”
“I think so.”
“Then let’s go, before I screw it up again.”
Gabriel quickly got out of the car, and dashed to the passenger side, but I already had the door open. He held out his hand, and I took it as I stepped out of the car.
“You got a temper,” he said, smiling broadly.
“And you have a bad memory.”

We took a walk on the beach first, before hiring bikes, and commented on some of the beach bodies and how much work and effort it must take to maintain such. I can’t imagine parading around the beach with hardly a stitch on, although I didn’t say that to Gabriel. I think he’s a bit like me in that he seems to wear clothes that are a little baggier, although he has no need to, as he’s really hunky.

Gabriel asked what I’d like to eat, and I told him that when it comes to food I like pretty much everything. For some reason, he found that amusing.
“How about Mexican?” he asked.
“Never had it.”
“What? You’ve never eaten Mexican food?”
“Nope.”
“Do you wanna try it?”
“Of course.”

A few minutes later, we were sitting in a tiny, brightly decorated restaurant, overlooking the beach. I had something called a chimichanga, which was really tasty, but I especially loved the guacamole, and salsa and “chips” (that are more like crisps, so confusing.)

We stopped at Miriam’s on the way back so I could change into my own clothes. I couldn’t go out tonight wearing shorts and a sweatshirt. Actually I could have as it’s very casual here, but obviously I prefer my own stuff. Miriam asked all about our day, and when Gabriel went to the loo, Miriam said she’s glad to see me enjoying myself. How could she tell???

Gabriel and I drove to his, and everyone was out. I went into the kitchen to make tea, and when I was filling the kettle up with water, Gabriel came in, and said he was sorry. He put his arms around me, and we started kissing. It was a different kind of kiss to the ones we’ve already shared, much more passionate, and very intense. I could feel myself getting a bit carried away, and had to make an effort to maintain my composure, and not get completely caught up. Fortunately, we were interrupted by the whistle from the tea kettle, and both started laughing.

We decided to forgo the comedy show we’d planned on seeing, and instead, went to Phineas Phoggs, where we met; Miriam, Hank, Carol (she ate real food,) Donna, Double R, Liza, Kevin, and Carina. I really enjoyed seeing everyone, and had a fun chat to Donna, during dinner. I laughed when Gabriel came over and asked if I wanted to “blow this Popsicle stand.”

I don’t remember the name of the place we went, but it was certainly a few notches up from last night’s joint (not that it could have been any worse.) The dj was super slick, the type of guy mum would refer to as “a greasy chip.”

Gabriel suggested we request a song, but my mind went blank, so he picked. A few minutes later, slicky announced, “this one’s for the beautiful Brit, from the amazed American” and on came ‘She’s like the wind’ by Patrick Swayze. Gabriel offered me his hand, and onto the dance floor we went.
“Amazed? Is that all you can come up with?”
Without missing a beat he said, “yup, that’s all I got, I’m still in college.”
“This is an absolutely dreadful song.”
“I know, but this is a great way to dance,” he said, pulling me right into him. And I had to agree.

Back to his around two am (didn’t even discuss going to Miriam’s. When I talked with her today, she said she knows I’m safe with Gabriel, and that I should enjoy myself.)

Once again, we sat out on the sun porch (tea for me, diet coke for Gabriel) and had a really interesting chat about life, and love. Gabriel told me about Maria, his maybe girlfriend. I told him about Ben, and he asked why we’re not together. Oh my, how much time do you have?

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