It's Saturday morning, and Niki had just returned from the photoshoot. "Ugh," groaned Niki as she threw herself onto her bed and kicked off her heels. With the comfort of her soft bed and her feet now free from the restricting and painful high heels, she let out a sigh of relief.
She laid there motionless while staring at the ceiling and soon she was drifting off. She had been up since 4 in the morning preparing for the shoot and had spent the entire day so far on set, so she was sore to the bone. You would think that simply posing and smiling in front of a camera would be easy, but it's less than glamorous when you're stuck doing it for 7 hours straight.
Just when she was about to fall asleep, a loud beeping sound woke her up from her trance. She rolled over to her stomach and grabbed her phone. It was the alarm that she set to remind her of her tutoring session with Danny.
Great...I forgot about Dummy. Niki slumped down on her pillow, ruffled her hair, and let out a sigh of frustration before lugging herself out of bed.
Danny's house was a short 15 minutes away by bus and soon Niki found herself standing in front of his door ringing the door bell excessively. She had been standing there for at least 3 minutes knocking and ringing the door bell, yet there was no response.
"Where is that guy! I'm sleep deprived and the last thing he wants to do is blow me off. So help me I'll..." Niki ranted angrily. In the middle of her rant, she noticed that in the corner of her eye a little boy riding past on his tricycle had stopped and stared at her wide-eyed. She let out an awkward smile and waved lightly at the boy. "Hi..." she said softly.
"Mom! There's a weird lady yelling at a door!" yelled the little boy as he peddled off as fast as he could.
Niki sighed. "Great...for my future resume I can put yelling at doors and scaring kids," she muttered.
"Don't forget talking to yourself," a voice behind her added. Startled, she turned around to see Danny leaning against the door ruffling his hair. Danny was in a white T-shirt and sweatpants. From the looks of it, he had just woken up.
Niki gave him an annoyed look. She stood there for 3 minutes and he picked the most awkward moment to open the door?! "So, what are you doing here? Besides scaring my neighbors...and my door..." Danny asked.
"I was scheduled to teach a monkey how to read," Niki said smiling innocently at Danny.
"I know how to read!" protested Danny.
"Oh! So you're the monkey?" Niki teased as she slipped by Danny and into the house. Danny closed the door behind her and gave her a scowl.
The inside of Danny's house gave Niki quite a surprise. It was nothing like she had imagined it would be. It was a relatively small house with a square design and you could see everything form the door way. The house gave off an aura of simplicity with its plain cream colored walls decorated with only a few family photos. It was almost a complete contrast to Danny's loud and (according to Niki) obnoxious personality.
What surprised Niki the most however, was how religious the family seemed to be. Besides family pictures and a the only other decorations were religious symbols such as: a small statue of the Virgin Mary, several crosses scattered about the rooms, and a set of bibles.
"So...." Danny said interrupting Niki from her train of thoughts. "Umm...can you wait for me in my room? I'll catch up with you in a bit," he said.
"Ok..." Niki said, still somewhat distracted.
"My room is the second one on the left," said Danny, and with that he ran off into the bathroom.
Niki walked down the narrow hallway and into the room instructed. She continued to be surprised by her surroundings. Danny's room was no exception to the rest of the house, it was equally simple and organized. The room only had a computer desk, a dresser, and a bed. What intrigued her was the level of organization; she was half expecting to be drowned in dirty laundry and magazines, yet everything was placed neatly in its respectable place.
Niki grabbed a seat at Danny's desk and tried to take in what she had seen.
"Hey," Danny said coming into the room.
"Hey..." Niki replied giving Danny an intrigued look.
"What... do I have something on my face?" Danny asked turning to a mirror and fixing his hair.
Well, he's still normal...as normal as he can be at least, Niki thought to herself as she rolled her eyes at Danny's vain action.
"It's just that I expected your house to be something...different," Niki replied.
"Oh? Like what, studded door, provocative posters, a gun?" Danny joked.
"Yes," Niki said looking at Danny with a straight face.
Danny stared back at her and there was a moment of awkward silence.
Niki let out a chuckle and said playfully "I'm joking! But I did expect the posters."
"Well no posters, but I do have some magazines hidden." Danny replied with a wink.
"So um, where's your parents?" Niki asked curiously.
"They're at church." Danny replied "On a Saturday?" Niki asked.
"Yeah, my dad's a pastor so he's up there preparing for tomorrow and my mom's pretty religious too, so she goes up there to help," Danny explained.
"So why aren't you up there helping out?" Niki asked continuing her probing.
"Do I look like I'm into religious stuff?" Danny asked.
"No, but your room says otherwise and you've managed to surprise me so far," Niki replied, frankly.
"Yeah, I just go along with it, whatever makes them happy. If it weren't for them I wouldn't care about all this tutoring stuff and grades...That's why they can't know about what I'm like at school...They'll probably die from disappointment," Danny said unconsciously rambling off.
Niki looked at Danny and for the first time she did so with a serious consideration. He's not as childish and mindless as she thought.
"I'm sure they won't be disappointed or...at least not DIE from it," Niki said kindly.
"Hopefully not...Anyways," said Danny, trying to change the subject. "Let's get to tutoring!...and what not."
"Sure! What do you wanna start with?" Niki replied happy to be moving on, yet still curious to know more about the new side of Danny that she's just discovered.
"Well let's see! I think my weakest subject would be....everything..." Danny said returning to his usual playful tone.
"Let's start with English, from our speaking exercise the other day I swear you were making up your own words," Niki chuckled and replied playfully.
"I was not!" Danny protested. "Really? Then what the heck was mooney (he meant money)" Niki teased.
"What! Didn't I say that right? You know mooney." Danny replied.
Niki laughed at Danny's silliness, this was the longest time she's spent with Danny (the first time she spent with him alone) and to her surprise she didn't feel like killing him. And here I thought I might want to rip his head off have way through.....Maybe this tutoring thing could work, Niki thought as she listened to Danny's hopeless English pronunciation trying not to laugh her head off.
Niki and Danny continued with their lesson while exchanging a few jokes and teasing comments every now and then. They were disrupted by the jingling of keys and a big thump; it was Danny's parents returning home from church. Only then did the two of them check the clock and realized they had spent the last 2 hours together.
"Shen De! We're home! Where are you?" exclaimed a female voice from outside in the living room.
"Oh my parents are home,"said Danny. He got up and walked out to greet them, Niki followed suit.
Niki came out to see a middle-aged couple setting their things down. The woman was petite. She wore a light yellow sun dress with floral designs and her hair was cut in a shoulder-length bob that complemented her soft facial feature. The man was quite tall and thin, his hair was neatly combed in a side part and he had his pastor's suit on.
Danny walked out into the living room to greet them and Niki stayed behind in the hallway.
"Ba, Ma. Welcome home," Danny said.
"Oh there you are sweetie," said Mrs. Wong as she sweetly pat his cheek. Danny bent down to lightly kiss her cheek.
Then Danny's dad came up to him and said, "You should've came, your help would've been appreciated."
"Oh, honey give him a break. It's the weekend he's tired from school, let him have a break." replied Mrs.Wong.
"I'll come next week," Danny said wrapping his arm around his dad's shoulder.
Niki looked in envy as she saw their closeness, her family feels even more cold in comparison.
Danny's mom looked to the side and noticed Niki standing there. She flashed a smile towards Niki and asked, "Oh hello, Shen De who is this?" she asked.
Niki returned the smile and bowed respectfully towards the couple. "Hello uncle, auntie." Niki said.
Danny's dad nudged Danny slightly and teased, "So this is why you didn't want to come."
"Danny's never brought his girlfriend home before! He rarely brings anyone home actually. I was getting worried about him," Danny's mom added, smiling sweetly. She walked toward Niki and gripped her hands lightly, greeting her.
His parent's teasing comments made Danny glow bright red and Niki smiled widely.
"This is Niki, she's my new tutor," Danny clarified to prevent any further comments.
"Oh I see, well I knew your tutor was coming, but I didn't expect such a pretty girl," said Danny's mom.
"I didn't either," mumbled Danny to himself and smiled coyly.
Niki smiled shyly and scratched her head.
"Well, we'll be troubling you with Shen De from now on," said Danny's dad.
"Oh it's no trouble uncle," Niki assured Danny's dad then turned to Danny and asked, "Shen De?"
"It's my Chinese name," Danny replied unwillingly. "Don't you dare tell anyone," he added. He's always been embarrassed of his name; "Shen De", personal virtue, of course his parents would give him such an old fashion name it was so likely of them.
"Don't worry who am I going to tell," Niki replied giving him a wink and mischievous smile.
"So how is the tutoring going? Danny's slow so you'll have to be patient with him," said Danny's mom.
"We're just about done actually. I'm going to pack up now. I should get back home," Niki replied.
"Why don't you join us for dinner?" offered Danny's dad.
"I don't want to impose," Niki replied.
"No it's fine, we insist. Right Shen De?" Danny mom said nudging Danny to support her.
"Yeah, you should," Danny said.
Niki complied and stayed for dinner at Danny's house. They had a plain meal with rice, cabbage soup, fried eggs, and marinated ribs.
Danny's dad told Niki stories about his preaching experience, Danny's mom would tease him for being so geeky and Danny and Niki would burst out in light laughter. The atmosphere was warm and comforting, something Niki had not experienced in a long time. After dinner, Niki stayed to help with the dishes and chatted with Danny's mom who asked her many questions.
"Alright, I should get going now. Thank you for everything. Danny, I'll see in school," Niki said as she stood up and grabbed her stuff.
"Thanks for coming dear. Shen De, you should walk her out," Danny's mom said.
Danny listened and got up.
"It's no problem, I should thank you for the meal. I'll be troubling you from now on," said Niki.
"It's fine, come anytime you like Niki," Danny's dad said, looking up from his newspaper.
"Well let's go, its getting late," Danny pressed.
Niki bowed to Danny's parents and said goodbye again before following Danny out the door.
He walked her out into the Main street and hailed her a taxi.
"Sorry my parents are so old-fashioned," said Danny.
"It's fine, they're really nice. It's nice how close you guys are," said Niki.
"They're really dorky and well you only get one mom and dad, no point in constantly defying them," Danny said.
Niki smiled and said quietly, "You're lucky."
Danny couldn't make out what she said, but he returned the smile and said, "Thanks for coming today, Ms. symphony probably told you my problem with tutors."
"It went better than I thought it would, so we'll see," Niki replied.
"I'll see you Monday then?" Danny asked and realized how stupid the question was considering they have school.
Niki laughed and replied,"Yeah, I'll see you Monday." Then she opened the cab door and stepped inside.
Before driving off she lowered the window, looked up to Danny, and warned in a playful tone, "Oh, and remember to do your homework; if you forget I'll beat you up."
Danny laughed and returned a threat, "I will, don't worry, and if you tell anyone what you saw today I'll..."
"What? You'll beat me up too?" Niki interrupted playfully asking.
"No...I don't hit girls..." said Danny.
Niki scoffed and stuck her head back in the taxi. She signaled for the taxi to start and said, "Bye."
"Bye," Danny replied he began walking backwards slowly, waiting for the taxi to drive off out of sight. Niki stuck her hand out and waved back at him.