A gust of cool wind blew over from the lake. Debbie grinned, staring at Carlos' tall figure. 'Carlos, my love... Remember me and come back to me soon, ' she prayed.
They walked towards a crowded night market a short distance away. Food stands were lined up on each side of the street. Looking around the various food stalls, as a foodie, Debbie felt her mouth water. "Carlos, I'm starving!" she yelled excitedly.
Carlos knitted his brows tightly as he looked at the food stands. He couldn't even muster up an appetite at that place. "Find a restaurant," he demanded.
Debbie shook her head vigorously. "Trust me, you will never be able to taste the authentic flavor of Z Country in any top class restaurants. The genuine gourmet food of this country is right here, in these streets. Don't look down on them. Come, I'll find you some delicious snacks. You're gonna love them."
Carlos was baffled. Massaging his aching temples, he refused again, "No, thank you. I'll wait for you here."
"Don't. Come on, Mr. Handsome. You used to accompany me all the time to buy these street snacks. Sometimes you even stood in queues to buy this food while I waited in the car," she said with a smile, as she remembered those times when Carlos cared so much for her.
"That was then, this is now!" he insisted. He really couldn't afford to get sick.
Debbie pursed her lips. "Please, let's go buy them together."
"No way! I—"
Debbie ignored his refusal and dragged him into the crowd before he could even finish his sentence. She jumped happily from one food stand to the next.
In no time, she had bought some fried squid, octopus balls, oyster omelets, fish balls, egg waffle... Carlos was lost for words. She blissfully savored every bite of the snacks. When both of her hands were filled with food, she made Carlos hold the skewer of fried squid and the egg waffle for her.
Debbie had seldom been to a food street like this since she had given birth to her baby. Even if she had occasionally passed by, she couldn't walk around and enjoy the food because she would be holding the baby in her arms. All she could do then was walk through the street, her mouth watering the whole time.
But right now, it was a golden chance for her to enjoy all her favorite foods. There was no way she was going to hold back on her pangs. Moreover, she didn't need to hold a good image in front of Carlos. She could just be herself and eat as much as she wanted.
Frowning, Carlos stared at all the strange food that was stuffed into his hands, his eyes filled with disdain. On top of that, he was confused when he saw how happily Debbie was enjoying these cheap snacks.
He was sure that food sold in such crowded and open environment was unhygienic. 'Wouldn't she get diarrhea after eating them?' he wondered.
Debbie was almost done, and when there was only one last octopus ball left in the disposable box, she picked it up with the toothpick in her hand and placed it in front of Carlos' lips. "Take a bite. You used to fight with me for the octopus balls."
That was a blatant lie! The truth was that she used to force him to eat the last octopus ball every time. It was sort of their thing.
Carlos furrowed his eyebrows deeply. He was pretty sure that she was lying. "That was impossible!" he said, moving his mouth away from the food.
Debbie wasn't embarrassed that her little lie was seen through. She sighed, "Yes, you're right. You never liked it, but I do. And for my sake, however reluctant you were, you would always take a bite. Come on! What are you worried about? Diarrhea? Rest assured, darling. If you fall sick, I'll rush you to the hospital and take good care of you. Okay?"
Carlos just stared at her as she continued chattering in his ear. It only added to his confusion as to why he had fallen in love with such a noisy and troublesome woman.
Nevertheless, without even knowing why, he opened his mouth. He just couldn't refuse her.
No sooner had he opened up than she stuffed the octopus ball into his mouth. Bursting into laughter, she joked, "Oh Mr. Handsome! I have always loved this side of you. You do anything for me."
Carlos almost gagged, but he somehow managed to chew the food and gulp it down. He felt his mouth being filled with an odd flavor. Again, he wondered why he had been in a relationship with this woman. Why had he put himself through all this?
Debbie quickly trotted towards the convenience store next to them and bought a bottle of water. She habitually picked up a low budget bottle, but then she remembered the rich germaphobe waiting outside. She replaced it with the most expensive one in the store.
After rinsing his mouth with the water she had bought, Carlos could finally breathe easy. The stench in his mouth from the octopus ball was killing him.
He was determined to not take another bite of anything Debbie bought from that street.
However, just as he had made up his mind, Debbie magically brought a scoop of ice cream to his lips. "Try this. It's really delicious! You won't regret—"
Carlos quickly strode ahead without saying a word.
Debbie pushed her sunglasses up the bridge of her nose and caught up with him. "I know you are a clean freak, so I specially asked the shopkeeper to give me two spoons. Here, take this new spoon. I'm not lying, this ice cream is really good. One bite, one kiss. Deal?"
She scooped the ice cream with the new spoon and placed it near his lips, winking mischievously at him.
Carlos cast her a cold glance. "One bite, one kiss?" he scoffed. "Goodbye, help yourself."
"Okay, fine! No kiss. Come on, just one spoon... Please?" Debbie patiently coaxed him the same way she talked Piggy into eating her food.
All Carlos wanted to do was turn around and leave. But as he sensed the expectation in her eyes through her sunglasses, his heart somehow softened again. It was so weird for him that he had absolutely no control over this woman in front of him.
He slowly opened his mouth, and Debbie put the spoon of ice cream into his mouth gently this time.
Indeed, the ice cream tasted much better than the octopus ball. At least, it was easier for him to swallow it down. Before he knew it, the ice cream had melted in his mouth.
Debbie figured that it was enough for tonight. She couldn't push him too hard, lest he decided to turn his back on her again. She was content after successfully making him eat the street food.
As they left the night market, Debbie wrapped her arm around his and suggested, "Carlos, let's go for dinner."
'For dinner?' His eyes opened wide in shock. She had already hogged on at least seven different types of snacks. Were they not enough for her? As far as he knew, women tended to eat like birds. He had seen them peck on their foods, trying to watch their diets. But this woman was different. She had the biggest appetite, even he couldn't eat so much.
Eventually they went to a fine restaurant, and Debbie proved to him just how big her appetite was. Although she had already eaten so much food from the night market, she was still able to eat as much as Carlos had at the restaurant. He was very impressed. A shadow of a smile had appeared on his face as he watched her gulp down her favorite foods.
After the meal, he had planned to drive her back home. But Debbie groaned, touching her full round belly. She demanded a walk with him.
As they slowly walked around the lake, Debbie talked fervently as usual, while he listened silently.
She talked a lot about their old days together. From time to time, she would confess her love for him and tell him how much she missed him.
Each time she looked at him, the deep affection in her eyes touched his heart, like a leaf falling into a silent river, gently causing ripples on its surface.
When they finally got into Carlos' Maybach, it was already past ten. Debbie gave him an address that was near her house and then leaned back in her seat to take a nap.
When they reached the address, Carlos glanced sideways at the sleeping woman without waking her up.
He turned off the engine, rolled down his window and lit a cigarette.
Unwittingly, his gaze kept going back to her face. After a few minutes, he pulled out his phone from his pocket and texted Damon. "Do I love Debbie Nian?"
Damon was surprised when he received Carlos' text.
He replied, "Are you with her now?"
Carlos ignored his text.
After waiting a while, Damon knew that Carlos wasn't going to answer. He replied honestly, "You did, once."
After getting the answer he needed, Carlos put away his phone and put out the cigarette.
He drew closer to Debbie, intending to wake her up. But his dark eyes were fixed on her beautiful sleeping face.