Talk about a moment that was pushed into existence...I ended up saying it, and shocked the crap out of Neko.
Remember that guy, Dan? Well, he started talking to Neko Sunday afternoon, and the chance to tell him about her and I was upon her once again. I'd been telling her to get it out of the way, and she kept saying that she wanted to wait until she was in Puerto Rico before having that particular chat with him. Now opportunity was knocking, and she finally decided I was right. She told him...
...and Dan lost his cool. All of the "nice guy" seemed to leak out of him, leaving a selfish little brat in his place. I sat there, watching Neko on Skype as she grew more and more upset. Her intent was never to hurt anyone, but...
Well, it's like this. Good old Dan realized that a relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico would be a chore, and that's if it was easy. (Just a few days ago he called her to say he was becoming nervous, and to remind her that there were no expectations for her visit to him.) Thus, the genius told Neko that if she found someone she was interested in that she should go for it. So she did. Lo and behold, I was the lucky winner of the romance lottery, as I'd gained almost all of her affections. Now, with news that she'd actually done what he said she should do, he started losing his composure.
This apparently wasn't upsetting enough for Neko. No, Dan had to call and start in on her over the phone, to which I got to witness him attempt to unglue the woman I care about most (at this time in my life) (because while Halle Berry is rumored to being single again, I doubt she'll be calling me any time soon). My favorite part of his call to Neko was when he wouldn't let her speak. She had to raise her voice to ask if she was allowed to complete a sentence. There was also a bit of role reversal. It's usually the guy who says, "I'm not a mind-reader!" This time it came from Neko, because Dan is fond of vague hints instead of speaking his mind.
Neko hung up with him, composed herself, and we continued chatting. In so many words, I gave her the basic message of, "I told you so." Not that I knew it with absolute certainty, but I had a feeling Dan was waiting for her to be within physical reach before trying to woo her. My problem is that he hadn't been making that message clear. Instead, it was the opposite. If you're interested in someone, you don't tell them that they're free to pursue other relationships. That's what he had done, and it was his screw-up.
Later, while Neko and I were STILL chatting, (we can do eight hours a day EASILY), Dan called again. Neko can't ignore anyone. If I were to call right now, she wouldn't let it go to voice mail; she'd pick up and start talking to me, even if we'd had a fight earlier or something. So she answered, and then went to MSN Messenger to continue talking to him. Now he was going all out. "Please don't make any decisions until we've met. I want to take things slow, and was waiting for you to come here before deciding. I want to feel your heart beating. I want..." Blah, blah, blah.
Hmmm...Y'know what, buddy? You had your chance. You had the attention of the beautiful woman, and you essentially told her that you care SO much that she can look elsewhere. Now that she's actually followed your advice, you're upset? I DON'T THINK SO! When I realized my heart was becoming TRULY invested in Neko, I told her that I would appreciate her thinking of yours truly, and that's it. She can have all the friends she wants, but that I'd appreciate being the guy she thinks about at the end of the day. You lost. I won. Get over it.
It was bad enough that he was trying his damnedest to regain her attention, but then Neko added, "I would hate to go down there, have something start, come back, and have to tell you that it's over between you and me." (Not her exact words, but close enough.) This idea made me want to start tearing up. I was getting pretty pissed at Dan for pulling this crap at the last minute. Now Neko was hinting that something like that was even possible. And so my relatively quiet ranting about Dan fell into a silent show of frustration.
"What's wrong" she asked.
"Nothing. It's just..." I stopped, unsure of what I was saying.
"Just what?" she prodded.
I sighed. "Look, I don't want to scare you, and I know we're not saying the words just yet...but I know where my heart is, and I want to be sure you understand." I looked into that inexpensive camera now perched on my screen and said, "I love you."
Neko suddenly had a look on her face, as though she were a fish that just realized the nearest water was approximately 100 yards away.
I quickly covered my tracks. "Look, I don't expect you to say it back. I know you've been terrified of the words. But I've known how I've felt for the last couple of weeks. We both have."
"I knew it was coming sooner or later, but...Wow," She said. "And no matter how scared I am of the words, it doesn't stop my heart and stomach from doing that butterflies...dance...thing."
We talked a bit more while she also finished talking to Dan. Such things were said, as...
Me: Y'know, you should just tell him you've got the time off, and that he's too much of a screw-up to visit, and then come to Kansas to see me. You get the motel and I'll buy the food.
Her: I promise not to do anything while I'm down there.
Me: Oh, I know you won't, sweetie. I trust you. It's him I don't trust.
Her: He probably won't try anything.
Me: Probably. Oh, good. There's nothing quite like "probably" to reassure me.
And, of course, the sweetest of all...She reached toward her screen and said, "I'm caressing my Rob's cheek."
Oh, how I wish!
She didn't say it. I won't make her say it. And in her silence comes the message that's causing my stomach to turn. I'm going to get my heart broken. For all of my efforts, I was unable to keep my mouth shut. I was unable to keep my heart properly guarded. I care for her so much that when I saw her in tears, I was tempted to start making calls tomorrow to cancel various doctor appointments so that I could somehow rush to her side as swiftly as possible. (Not that I can truly afford to do such a thing.) Although she's assured me that she's not going anywhere, I keep thinking I'm going to blink and all of this will prove to have been just an incredibly vivid dream. When that happens, I will sweep up the pieces of my heart, head for bed, and cry myself to sleep repeatedly. And the only person I'll have to blame...is myself.