Damn it, he’s good. Karin frowned as she looked at the basket on her dining room table. It was filled with different Swedish delicacies – a gift from Landry.
And he had somehow been able to get hold of Karin’s mobile phone number. Probably Jess, she suspected. Landry sent texts once in a while – saying goodnight or asking how she’s doing or sending wacky pictures of him being bored on their away-games. Karin would not admit it, but the pictures often made her smile or laugh.
She had been a fan of his since she moved to New York – during the season Landry started as a rookie for the Knicks. It was easier back when he was just a Knicks player she had admired from a considerable distance. Now, it’s different.
How would you feel when the man of your dreams – the one you’d always thought was unattainable – was suddenly within reach – within kissing distance?
The buzzing of her phone interrupted her thoughts.
Dinner with me tomorrow? It was from Landry.
Karin shook her head. It’s not the first time he’d asked.
Say yes this time – pretty please. Karin looked at the picture with his text. He is adorable with those puppy-dog eyes, Karin sighed.
Okay. She answered.
Pick you up at six. Dress casually.
Damn, Karin, what have you done? She shook her head – no, she can handle him.
Landry knocked at her door. When she greeted him, he couldn’t help but smile. Karin followed his advice – she had on a cardigan, jeans – and most importantly, her hair was down.
“I’ll just grab my jacket,” she said a soft smile on her face.
“No worries,” Landry answered while he looked around her apartment.
It looked like a Scandinavian cottage – a huge contrast to the modern high-rise look the apartment building had. It spoke of a whimsical and romantic woman who would curl up on cushions to read a book or drink tea and not the cool, calm and collected Karin he’d seen dressed in no-nonsense suits.
She continued to puzzle him.
“Where are we going?” she asked Landry curiously.
“A surprise,” he said.
He took her ice skating.
Landry looked at her laugh and smile as she glided across the ice. Karin was an Ice Princess that moved with such speed and grace – and took his breath away.
He, on the other hand was a bonafide clutz on ice. Landry moved stiffly and slowly while Karin circled around him. When she stopped sharply in front of him, she grinned and asked, “Need some help?”
“Uh, yeah,” Landry answered nervously.
Karin took hold of his waist and supported him as they glided slowly along the edge of the rink. When she felt his hand on her waist, she was suddenly aware how close their bodies were. Landry gripped her waist tightly once in a while – every time he was close to falling. But Karin made sure he didn’t lose his balance.
Landry was enjoying himself – really enjoying himself. There was a strange feeling in his chest while he looked at Karin’s flushed cheeks, huge smile and twinkling eyes.
“How did you know?” Karin finally asked.
“Lots of Googling,” Landry answered. “Impressed?”
“Maybe,” was all she said.
“Well, the evening’s not done yet,” Landry added.
Karin looked at him. She was not only impressed, she was worried.
“So are you going to show me some Ice Princess moves?” Landry challenged.
“I’m rusty,” Karin protested.
“Please,” he pleaded.
Damn that puppy dog face, Karin thought.
She shrugged and let go of Landry. They stood in the middle of the rink. Karin circled around him for a few rounds. Landry followed her with his eyes. When Karin dipped to grab the heel of her right skate and turned to do a pirouette on one leg, Landry’s jaw dropped. She was a blur.
When she finally lowered her leg to slow the spins down to a halt, Landry rewarded her with applause.
She glided towards him. Karin was breathing hard from the exertion. Her face was flushed and her eyes had a gleam in them that Landry found so enticing.
“That,” Landry said, “was absolutely hot. I didn’t know you were that – flexible.”
Karin laughed now, the sound of it filling the rink and sending a spear of lust straight to Landry’s gut.
I can handle him, Karin told herself, so she decided to play. “I do yoga,” she said with a grin. “It was part of my training when I skated and I just never stopped.”
Landry groaned, “Man, you are killing me.”
Karin merely smiled.
They stayed at the rink for a little while longer – long enough for Landry to find his balance on the ice and with her.
This was supposed to be a date to impress her, Landry thought, as they ate dinner. He wanted to end the evening showing her that he was interested in who she was. He took her to Aquavit, a Nordic restaurant, for dinner.
Karin ended up ordering for him – in Swedish. Turned out, she knew one of the chefs.
“We network, us Swedes,“ she explained with a smile.
Conversation during their meal was effortless. They were both relaxed – at ease with each other despite the fact that they’ve only known each other for barely a month.
“Do you miss Sweden?” Landry asked.
“I miss my parents,” she answered with a sigh. “But I’m joining them this summer. July can’t come fast enough.”
“I’d like to visit Sweden someday,” he said.
“You should experience midnight sun,“ Karin suggested. At Landry’s puzzled look, she explained, “During summer there are parts of Scandinavia that has sunlight until midnight.”
“That sounds awesome,” he commented.
“It is,” she said. Her smile was warm and infectious.
“What about the Philippines?” Landry asked.
“I haven’t had time to visit family in the Philippines for ages,” Karin groaned. “It’s beautiful in a different way than Sweden.”
“What’s it like to be half of two cultures which I think sound so different from each other?”
Karin paused to think before she answered.
“I never felt like there was a big difference,” she answered honestly. “I am never one or the other, you know.”
“Do you speak their language?” Landry asked curiously.
“I speak several languages,” she replied.
Karin shrugged, “Six – and a bit…”
“And a bit?” Landry laughed.
“Well, Jess is trying to teach me Chinese.”
“Wow.” Landry reacted.
Karin pushed the food around on her plate. She was used to it – men sometimes found her intelligence intimidating.
“I dream of being able to speak various languages,“ Landry continued. “Can you teach me Swedish?” Karin looked up at him.
“Jeremy is teaching me phrases in Chinese, but it’s not working,” he said with a goofy grin. “Maybe I ought to ask Jess for help.”
Karin smiled. “Let’s see.”
Karin enjoyed the silence. Not that it had been an awful date – it had been surprisingly great. She just loved watching New York at night. All the lights are lit – so different from Stockholm.
“How come a gorgeous girl like you isn’t dating anyone?” Landry suddenly asked.
It caught Karin by surprise, but she answered, “Who says I wasn’t dating anyone?”
“Sorry,” Landry was quick to apologize.
Karin laughed. “I’m kidding. I dated a few months back.”
Landry remained silent; he wanted to know more.
“I dated Carl Hagelin for a while,” Karin continued.
“The Rangers left wing?” Landry sounded surprised.
“What?” Karin was defensive. “Don’t I look like someone who’d date someone like him?”
Landry was surprised at her tone. He obviously hit a sensitive point.
“I dated him not because he was a hockey player for the Rangers, but because we had things in common – or at least we thought we did.” She said.
“I’m sorry, Karin,” Landry apologized. “I just thought you’d go for someone more like you, I guess.”
How do I fix this? he thought.
Karin looked at him.
Landry explained, “Someone who’s as smart and remarkable as you.”
Karin looked away. She did not know what to say.
Karin had been silent the rest of the drive to where she lived. Landry wanted to kick himself.
“You want to come in for a cup of coffee?” She asked as she opened the door to her apartment.
“I want to, but I need to pack for the next back-to-back games,” Landry sighed.
“Okay,” she said in a soft voice.
“Karin,” he said, “I hope I haven’t messed up.”
She just stared at him.
“You blow me away. I have never met anyone like you and I’d like to keep on seeing you. I never should have assumed what type of guy you’d date or not. I just hope you’d consider dating someone like me.”
“Goodnight,” Landry said. Karin’s silence was killing him.
He kissed her on the cheek. It was supposed to be a simple gesture, but somehow it felt more than that for Karin.
Damn it, he’s good, she thought. Part of her had already been sliding towards Landry tonight – and that last part that had been against the feelings of attraction for him was in danger of totally losing the fight.
“I’ll be following the games,” she said. “I’ll see you when you get back.”
His smile followed her to sleep tonight.