Part 5 is here! Hope you all are enjoying this story, and thank you to everyone who has commented! You're all great :D And thank you to all the fantastic artists of the cc in my story, it wouldn't be the same without it!
Adriana turned to look at her brother's expressionless face. "How long have you known?"
"Quite a few years now. Since I was in my late teens, I guess," Nick replied. "Even though I've known it, I haven't ever had strong enough feelings towards a guy, before now, to act on it. I was waiting for these feelings to confirm it."
"Have you told anyone else?"
"You want some advice, don't you?" Adriana asked.
"Well, yea. The thing is," Nick explained. "I have no idea what to do about these feelings. Zak's got a daughter and everything, so I'm assuming he's not gay."
"You shouldn't assume anything. Yea, he's got a daughter, but that happened when he was much younger than he is now. It wasn't something he planned for, put it that way," Adriana replied. "He hasn't had much luck in his love life and none of his relationships really work out. I'm not saying that means he's gay but I do think he's not sure of what he wants. You should just give it some time, see how things work out." Nick sat in front of the TV that night thinking about what Adriana had said. She was right of course, he needed to give it time. Even though he wanted everything to work out the way he wanted straight away, it wasn't going to happen like that. She'd said Zak wasn't sure of what he wanted, and that was fair enough. Nick had been the same for a long time but that didn't mean Zak was confused about his sexuality.
He sighed. He was going to send himself crazy thinking about this all the time! Deciding to go for a shower, he reluctantly levered himself off the couch. It was time he went to bed anyway, he had a big day at work the next day. Adriana was just getting home from work, and had a bagful of groceries in her arm, when she heard the phone ringing from inside. She cursed under her breath, the phone always rang at the most inconvenient times. Finally getting the door open, she left the groceries and her briefcase at the door and ran for the phone, reaching it on the sixth ring. "Hello?" She answered.
"I hope I'm not interrupting anything. I'm Nick's friend, Jonas. We met last week..." The caller explained.
"Oh, Jonas! Yes, I remember," Adriana replied, a grin crossing her face. "How are you going?" "I'm great, thanks for asking," Jonas said, feeling nervous. "And you?"
"I'm fantastic. I just got home from work so that's always good," Adriana laughed.
"Yes, I'll agree to that! It's my day off which is even better."
"Lucky you! Was there anything I could help you with?"
There was a moment's silence. "Actually, uh...there was," Jonas replied. "I was just wondering if maybe...you would like to come out for dinner with me sometime? Or just a coffee...whatever you would like." Adriana smiled wide, she could sense how nervous he was. There was no need for him to be nervous, though, she was so happy he had called!
"I would like that very much," she said.
"Oh...great! Fantastic! How about this Friday night?" Jonas asked. "I could come pick you up at say..7?"
"Ok, that would be wonderful. Thanks Jonas, I'll see you then!"
Adriana replaced the receiver on its cradle, her stomach doing cartwheels. I can't believe it, she thought, he asked me out! All afternoon and on into the night, Adriana couldn't stop thinking about that phone call. It had made her day, well and truly. It was only the thought of waiting until the end of the week to see him that brought her down to earth. She couldn't wait, she felt like a teenager all over again. Nick was the first to arrive at Monchello's this time, picking the table they sat at last time while he waited. He was only waiting five minutes before he saw Adriana, Zak and his daughter, Candice, walk in. He waved them over and they all took a seat at the table while saying their hellos. "This is my daughter, Candice, as you've probably already guessed," Zak said. "Candice, this is my friend, Nick, Adriana's twin brother."
"Nice to meet you," they both said in unison.
Nick took in Candice's features, trying to find some of Zak. Definitely her eyes, he noticed immediately. They were just like Zak's. She had some other similarities but he decided that she definitely would have taken after her mum, although he didn't know her. She was very pretty, that was for certain. He wondered what she'd think if he and her father became more than friends. But of course, there was probably no point in wondering, it might not ever happen. "How old are you, Candice?" Nick asked, unsure what he should ask her about.
"I'm fifteen," she replied politely.
"A horrible age," Zak put in.
"Dad! I'm mature for my age, you could have worse than me," she threw back.
"Yes, I know, I'm only kidding," Zak laughed.
Smiling to himself, Nick changed the topic. It seems like they get on great, he thought as Candice playfully punched Zak in the arm. He seemed to be a very relaxed father, and she seemed well brought up. His nerves about meeting Candice soon melted away. Waiting for their food, Nick found out more about Candice and was surprised to hear that she had two sisters and a brother. They were all the product of her mother's marriage to her step-dad, Chad. Zak seemed unfazed by all the talk about Ava, Candice's mother, and her new family, and Nick wondered if he wished it could have been different. Did he not know what he wanted because what he wanted he couldn't have? Or was it something deeper? Hope made Nick want to believe the latter. The sun had dipped below the horizon before they went to leave, all of them feeling full and content.
"You know, you and Candice can feel free to drop by my place anytime if you feel like a dip in the pool," Nick suggested to Zak.
"Oh, thanks Nick. That's kind of you," Zak replied, aware of his daughter's keen eyes upon him. "Candice loves to swim."
They exchanged numbers and Zak agreed to contact Nick should they want to come over. Nick was glad he had thought of this idea at the last minute. It would be a good opportunity for him to get to know Zak a little better and also for Zak to get to know Nick. On Friday night, Adriana spent much of her time in front of the mirror in preparation for her big date. She was nervous, but very excited. She practiced with her reflection how she would talk to Jonas, but feeling silly, she stopped. It had been awhile since she had been on a date, so she felt a little rusty. Her ex, Jake, had never really been big on dates. After their first, he'd never really taken her out, preferring to stay in at either of their places. And before Jake, she had been single for quite a few years focusing on her career. So, tonight was a big change for her and she couldn't have been happier about it. Jonas arrived outside Adriana's house just before 7pm. She had been waiting for him, and as he walked up the path, she came out and met him half way. He was entranced by her beauty as she slowly walked towards him, her smile lighting up her face. Neither of them took their eyes off each other.
"Wow, you look stunning," Jonas told his date.
"Thank you," Adriana replied. "You look very handsome yourself."
He smiled and led her to his car, opening the door for her as a gentleman should. "Oh, Jonas," Adriana said, admiring the restaurant before her. "It's absolutely beautiful. I've never been here before."
"It's not nearly as beautiful as you." He smiled. "I'm glad you haven't been here before, it'll make tonight even more special."
As she followed Jonas into the restaurant, Adriana wondered how he could be single. This handsome, sweet, caring and very romantic man was a catch for any woman, and he was interested in her! Seated at a table in the middle of the restaurant, Adriana and Jonas were served their meals, sending a delicious aroma swirling around them.
"Mmm...looks great and smells even better!" said Adriana, eyeing off her seared prawns.
"Yes, I agree," Jonas said, smiling at her.
A general conversation started up between them while they began to eat and it gradually morphed into a deeper conversation, finding out more about each other. Half way through the meal, Jonas surprised Adriana by admitting something about his past.
"I have been married before," he admitted. "It was quite a few years ago now, I was in my early twenties. To be honest, we were both much too young to get married, and it only lasted a year before we decided it best to get a divorce."
"Wow, I had no idea. I wouldn't have even thought," Adriana said. "Did you both stay in contact?"
"No. It was best that we didn't, we both wanted to move on, and we did," Jonas explained. "I don't regret it, but I learned from my mistake."
"Yes, I think everyone learns from things they do at sometime or another." "People often ask me why I'm not married with children at my age," Adriana said. "It can aggravate me sometimes, because who said that's what everyone has to do? I was very focused on my career all through my twenties and now it just hasn't happened for me, I can't change that. It doesn't mean I don't want to get married and have kids, you know? I don't regret my choices either but I think I've learnt to accept it and try to move on."
"Exactly. And it's not too late anyway, you've got plenty of time to have a family. You would make a fantastic wife and mother."
Adriana felt herself blush. Was that a hint? Did he want to go that far with her in the future? She was flattered at his compliment. Nearing the end of their meal, Jonas proposed a toast. After having their glasses filled with champagne, they raised their glasses.
"To learning from life's lessons!" Jonas cheered.
"To learning from life's lessons!" Adriana repeated.
Lifting her glass to her lips, a river of champagne flowed across Adriana's tongue and down her throat. She felt warm as the alcohol swept through her, returning Jonas's smile. This date was the best she had ever been on, and she felt happier with Jonas than she had ever felt with any man. Returning Adriana home, Jonas opened the passenger door as she stepped out.
"Thank you for tonight, Jonas. I had such a great time," Adriana said.
"It's my pleasure, I had a great time as well," Jonas replied. "I'll see you again soon?"
Jonas drew her close to him, so close she could smell the aftershave on his neck. She savored the smell, closing her eyes. He lifted her chin so their lips met, and kissed her ever so softly. Neither of them wanted the moment to end.
They were unaware though, of the inquisitive eyes watching them, unaware of the anger they were generating in this shadowy figure.
Learning to Love - Part 5
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