I spent a few hours reading while enjoying the sun on my skin and I stopped when I felt a presence next to me.
"Do you feel like eating leftovers tonight?" Ante asked as I closed my book.
"Sure, I don't mind. I can also cook something, if you prefer."
"No, it's fine. Thank you." He answered as I got up.
"How is it going with the kid?" I asked curiously.
I heard him sigh and he stayed quiet for a few seconds. "Nothing much changed. He moved only once to go to the toilets and then sat back on the sofa. He didn't speak or answer any questions. I spent the last few hours next to him alternating between watching him and watching the random cartoons on TV."
I pulled him in a quick hug at these words. I knew how much he wanted to help him. "It will probably take some time but you will do great. I believe in you." I whispered before kissing him gently.
"I really appreciate it." He whispered back before breaking the hug and stepping away.
We went back to the kitchen and I listened to him taking stuffs out of the fridge and reheating leftovers while I set the table. "Do you want me to tell him to come here?" I asked once I was done.
"Not sure he will listen to you but you can try, he is still on the sofa. Food is almost ready." He told me and I nodded.
I went to the living room and stopped a few centimeters away from the sofa. "Dinner is almost ready, you should come in the kitchen. It's right behind me, just in case you forgot." I told him, not really knowing what else to add.
I waited a few seconds before turning away and walking back to the kitchen. "Is he following me?" I asked Ante once I was back.
"He... He's right behind you, actually." He stated and I could hear that he was a little surprised.
"Oh." I turned around, facing Ethan. "I'm glad you came. You can take a seat and Ante will serve the food soon."
Soon, we were all eating dinner in a peaceful silence and we put the dishes in the sink once we were done.
"Now Ethan, let's go to the bathroom so you can shower and then you can go to bed." Ante told him as I was about to leave the kitchen. I stopped in my tracks when I heard a small gasp.
"No!" A small voice answered, full of panic.
"You have nothing to worry about but you need to shower..." Ante explained in a calm and gentle voice and I winced when I heard Ethan start to cry.
"Maybe it can wait until tomorrow? He just got here and he didn't move a lot..." I chimmed in, hoping he would stop crying. The noise was hurting my ears.
"I..Okay." Ante sighed after a few seconds. "Let's get you to bed, alright? You will feel better after a good night of sleep."
I heard steps going upstairs a few minutes later and I decided to start washing the dishes. When that was done, I dried my hands and jumped a little when I felt a presence next to me.
"You were fast."
"He wasn't comfortable with me in the room so I showed him where all the clothes were and told him to pick what he wanted. I also told him to turn off the light when he was done and turn on the night lamp instead. I closed the door and waited outside and came down when I couldn't see the light through the door." He explained, making me nod.
"It's not easy, huh?"
"Not at all... I'm trying to think of a way to make him have a bath tomorrow without him having a meltdown... I don't want him to be scared or uncomfortable but he needs to shower."
I took his hand into mine and squeezed it softly. "He's old enough to shower on his own, no?"
"Shower on his own, yes. But he still needs some supervision... You know, today I realized that working with children and fostering one is totally different and requires different skills."
"Obviously, but it's the first day! You will do great." I said, hoping to reassure him.
"But you were great. He seems less scared of you since he realized you're really blind." He told me which surprised me.
"He immediately came when you told him it was time for dinner. And he looked at you often while eating, staring at your movements and what you were doing."
"Great. Now I'm going to feel like an animal at the zoo." I replied with a chuckle.
"I'm trying to be serious!" He exclaimed, trying not to laugh before adding. "Do you think my looks play a part in his discomfort?"
I frowned a little at these words. It had been a long time since I heard him mention his looks. "I think it's mostly because of what you have between your legs. He just needs time to get to know you and understand you're one of the great guys."
"I appreciate it." He ended saying and I smiled when I felt his lips on mine a few seconds later.
We went upstairs and immediately went under the covers. "Do you want a massage to relax a little?" I whispered a few seconds later.
"You're offering me a massage? Who are you and what did you do to Nazar?" He asked which made me chuckle.
"I'm just trying to be nice! I know how stressed you were today and I can still feel how tense you are..." I explained, unable to remove the smile from my face.
"Mmmhh." He murmured, chuckling. I took this opportunity to crawl closer and kiss his shoulder before passing a hand on his back. I touched his skin softly and appreciated the shivers that appeared under my fingertips. "So, is it a massage or do you have something else in mind?" He asked in a low voice as I smiled.
"Just a massage." I answered softly, close to his ear before moving until I was sitting on his lower legs.
I stared massaging him, concentrating on the shoulders and smiled when I felt him relax.
"It feels good." He murmured with a sigh.
I continued for a few more minutes before stopping, once I was sure he was fully relaxed. I kissed his shoulder one last time before rolling on my side of the bed. He pulled me into a hug and kissed me softly.
"Good night Ante." I whispered a few centimeters away from his lips.
When I woke up, the other side of the bed was empty and I took a minute before getting up. I quickly put some clothes on before going downstairs. I could hear some noises in the kitchen and smiled at the good smell floating around.
"Good morning!" I exclaimed with a smile.
"Hey." Ante said, kissing my cheek a few seconds later. Before he pulled away, I took his face into my hands and kissed him. "Ethan is eating in the kitchen..." He murmured as we broke the kiss.
"So? It was just a kiss." I shrugged before stepping away.
"I-... I made some pancakes, wait." He said, changing the subject.
I felt a plate in my hands a minute later and I thanked him as I sat around the table.
"Hello Ethan. How did you sleep?" I asked as I started to eat. As he didn't answer, I added. "My little finger told me that you kept looking at me yesterday. You know I'm not an animal, right? If you want to stare at stuffs, it would be better to go to the zoo."
"You really had to tell him that..." Ante groaned softly next to me.
"I like animals..." A small, shy voice answered a few seconds later.
I sent a smile to Ante. I was glad he started to open up and didn't seem scared of my sense of humor. "You two should go to the zoo this afternoon." I told them as I finished to eat.
"You should come with us." Ante said and I felt him squeeze my thigh softly under the table.
I was about to answer something sarcastic but stopped myself. Going on a walk under the sun in the afternoon didn't seem like a bad idea. It would allow me to get some fresh air and exercice.
"Alright, I will come. But Ethan and I want an ice cream before we leave." I answered, a smile appearing on my face as I heard a light giggle coming from the other side of the table.
"Sure." Ante answered and I could hear the smile in his voice. Once we were done eating, we washed the dishes. "Thank you. You're a lot better at this than I am." He whispered next to me.
"Obviously." I answered with a grin before adding, more seriously. "I think you just want everything to be so perfect that you're not being really yourself."
"You may be right." He answered with a sigh. "I really appreciate your help. And you coming to the zoo with us. He became slightly more relaxed once you entered the kitchen and I think you being there this afternoon will help him relax."
I didn't answer but kissed his cheek and dried my hands once we were done. The rest of the morning went by quickly as I read a book and prepared lunch. We ate quietly and I went upstairs to get ready once the dishes were done. I then put my shoes and my sunglasses on before waiting in the living room.
"Everyone is ready, let's go the taxi is here." Ante said, pulling me out of my thoughts. I got up and held Ante's arm as we left the house. "Ethan, stay close to us, alright? I will go in the front and you can sit in the back with Nazar."
I heard the door of the car being opened and I felt a hand gently push my back. I sat and put my seatbelt on and I heard the door beind closed a minute later.
"Do you have your seatbelt on or do you need some help?" I asked Ethan, wondering if, at his age, he was capable of putting it on his own.
"I'm good." He answered softly after a minute of hesitation.
The car started not too long after and I spent the ride listening to the songs that were playing on the radio. Once the car stopped, I waited for Ante to open the door so I could step out and hold his arm.
"Ethan, you need to hold one of our hands so we don't lose each other." Ante said as I closed the door behind me.
My eyes widened slightly as I felt a small hand reach my free one but I gently squeezed it a few seconds later, not wanting him to feel bad about it.
"Looks like we are ready to go." I stated a few seconds later.
We started to walk, only stopping when Ante had to buy the tickets.
"What do you want to see first? From what I can see, the Gorillas aren't too far so we could start there, maybe?" Ante asked and I shrugged.
It wouldn't make any difference for me, I was mostly here to enjoy the great weather and get some exercice. In the end, I let them decide and followed them, smiling when I heard Ante describe everything he was seeing. Ethan held my hand the whole time and I had to admit that it was an enjoyable moment.
"I think it's time for some ice cream, what do you think?" Ante asked after a few hours walking around the zoo.
"I'm down! And you, Ethan?" I asked, a smile on my face. I couldn't wait for some cold ice cream.
"Me too." He answered in a small voice and I liked to think that he was smiling while saying them.
Ante led us toward a table and let go of my hand once I was sitting on a chair. Ante ordered us some ice cream: strawberry for me and chocolate for them. This afternoon had been enjoyable and I was glad I came...