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SERIES: Knight In Shining Suit (Episode 19)

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One night, Ryder called me to ask a favor.


“The maid will come tomorrow.  Usually I’m there when she does.  But I won’t make it this week.  Can you stop by my house?  She doesn’t have a key.  Just let her in and stay there while she does her stuff.”


“You want me to supervise on your maid.”


“Not really.  Just be there to make sure that everything’s in order.”

“Alright.  I think I can handle that.”


The next day, I went to Ryder’s house.  His maid was a woman in her forties named Zara.  She didn’t look like a maid at first, more like a diner waitress.  She was chewing gum and was wearing a skirt that is way above her knees.

“Where is Mr. Ryder?”  She asked me.


“He’s in Manhattan.”  I replied. It looked to me that she was disappointed that the boss was not in.  Judging by her makeup and her short skirt, this woman has another agenda in her mind in cleaning Ryder’s house. Somehow, I didn’t like that idea.


“Are you one of his employees in the bar?”  She asked.


I shook my head.  “No.”


“Relative?”  She asked again.


I shook my head.


“Employee in Manhattan?”  She insisted.


I turned to her.  In a very controlled voice, I said, “No.  I’m his… fiancée.”

She was taken aback.  Then she looked at me from head to feet, sort of measuring me.  “Sorry.  It’s just that the boss never brought any woman in this house.  You were the first.”


“That’s very comforting to know.”  I said to her.  Then I took my Chinese takeout to the deck and ate.


Zara finished her chores after two hours.  Before she left, I checked if everything was in order.  I checked the plants, the rooms, the bathrooms, the kitchen.  I must admit, she did a very good job.  She was very thorough. Even though I was irritated with her for… attempting to seduce Ryder, her great job in the house deserved a tip.  And so I gave her a generous one.


She smiled at me.  “Well, I guess you and the boss are two of a kind.  Congratulations on your engagement.”


I smiled at her.  “Thank you, Zara.  Have a nice day.”

When she was gone, I called Ryder.

“Did you sleep with your maid?”  I asked him.

“Hell no!”  He replied.  “Why?  What’s wrong?”

“Oh my God!  Didn’t you notice that she was trying to… make you notice her or something?”


“I’m not naïve, Ash.  But I’m also not interested.


“Really?  Short skirt, bulging neckline?”


“Nope.”  He said.  “But it is uncomfortable for me to be in the same room with her.”

“Why?  Difficult trying to keep yourself cool?”  I joked.

“No.  More like… difficult trying to keep myself from throwing her out of the house!  Just so you know, I don’t like aggressive women.”


“Ryder, she asked me who I was.”


“You should have told her you’re my fiancée.”  He said.

“I did actually.”  I said shyly. 

“That should stop her from going to work in… shrunken clothing!”  He chuckled.

“Wow!  Cleaning day must be difficult for you, huh.”


“Not my favorite part of the week.  However, she does a very good job.  As much as I don’t trust her, I am happy that she keeps the place dust-free.  If I could only just leave her alone in the house and just wire her the money… if that would work, that would be heaven for me.”

I don’t know why I volunteered for the job, but the next thing I knew I was offering to watch the house whenever Zara is around to clean up.


“That would be great, Ash!  You can schedule it at a time convenient for you.”


“Not a problem.”  I said.  “You do me all sorts of favors anyway.  It’s time I make it up to you.  We’re friends, remember?”


“With benefits?”  He teased.


“Before.  But that ship has sailed.”  I giggled.  “Now, let’s try to be normal friends.  I never was a friends with benefit type of girl before I met you.”


“You were innocent when you met me, Astrid.”  He said.  “I shouldn’t have touched you.”


That stung.  “Thanks!”  I said sarcastically.


“Don’t get me wrong!”  He said quickly.  “What I meant was… the most amazing night of my life would be the end of me.”  I heard his sharp intake of breath.  “I shouldn’t have started what I couldn’t finish.  I shouldn’t want what I couldn’t have.”  There was sadness in his voice.  For a while, I thought my heart was going to break. 



“I know!”  He interrupted.  “I’m Ryder Van Woodsen, right?”


“You’re my knight in shining armor, Ryder. But I don’t believe in fairy tales anymore.  I don’t want to wake up one day, and find myself shattering to pieces again.  Bryan broke me, and you fixed me.  If I break because of you, I don’t think I can be fixed again.  So please, I would rather have you in my life, as a dear friend.  And I will love you forever.”

He didn’t say anything for a whole minute.  Then he sighed. “Whatever makes you happy, Ash.”  He said in a broken voice.  “I gotta go.  I have a meeting in five minutes.”

“Bye.”  I hung up.


My heart felt heavy.  I couldn’t help the tears from rolling down my face.  Damn!   He's not even my boyfriend, and I'm sad and heartbroken already!

I’m protecting my heart.  I don’t think I can take the pressure of being Ryder Van Woodsen’s girlfriend.  It would be too demanding and I would want from him more than phone calls, more than a few dates.  I would want more.  I would want him to love me… not just want me.


I would want an ever after with him, but this is not a fairy tale where Prince Charming meets Cinderella and boom!  He wants to marry her that very instant.

Ryder’s life will be too complicated for me.  Plus he lived in Manhattan most of the time.  I don’t want a relationship that is technically long-distance.  Bryan was just right under my nose and he screwed me big time

I know I made Ryder sad with my decision to stay friends. Someday, he will understand.  We both have to accept that this is the way we should be.  Close friends that are there for each other and do each other crazy favors.

Since I was doing favors anyway, I decided to grab my bag, hopped into a cab and went to the grocery store.  I bought boxes of long-life milk, juices, beer, flavored vodka, ice cream, patties, hotdogs, eggs, and some microwaveable noodles and pasta.  I also bought peeled, ready to eat carrots and some other veggies in boxes.

It was a lot to carry but I was happy with what I was doing.  I wanted to do Ryder a favor.  It is nothing compared to the necklace that he gave me but when I placed everything inside his fridge, I felt happy and excited.  Now, the huge expensive fridge looks like a real fridge.  It was such a small thing to do for him… in return for all the things he did for me.



Friday, I finished with a wedding before midnight.  Ryder surprised me by picking me up at the hotel where the reception was held.

“I didn’t know you were coming!”  I said.

“Then it wouldn’t be a surprise.”  He laughed.  “You want to grab something to eat?”

I smiled.  “I’m starving.  But my feet are killing me!”

He drove to his place and called his staff to bring some food to us.

“Drinks?”  He asked.

“Watermelon vodka would be nice.”  I replied.


“Ah…”  He hesitated and then he opened his fridge.  I smiled to myself.  I knew he noticed how it’s now filled with all sorts of things.  “Hmmm… looks like Santa did a stopover and filled my fridge.”

After a few seconds, he was sitting on the sofa beside me.  “That was sweet.”  He said looking at me deeply and then he handed me my vodka.  “Thank you.”

I smiled at him.  “You’re welcome.  It’s not much compared to the necklace, but I’m glad you liked it.”

“I loved it.”  He whispered.  He stared at me for a long while, his eyes holding emotions I couldn’t understand.  

I raised a brow at him in question.  He sighed and then he smiled weakly.  That smile seemed sad… frustrated even.

I looked away from  him, unable to look at him looking like that.  He is my rock.  And I don’t want to see him breaking because of me.  But I don’t want to break because of him too.   It does not matter what I want now.  What matters is what I don’t want to happen again in the future.


When he took me home, I took the ring off my finger and handed it to him.  He raised a brow at me.


I laughed.  “You’re not tricking me into wearing this without a reason, Ryder.  You promised.

He smiled and then took the ring from me.  “Alright.  A deal’s a deal.”

I nodded.  “That’s right.”  Then I fished his keys from my pocket.  “And here are your keys.”

“Keep it.” 


“You promised to watch the maid for me.”  He reminded.  “And it’s nice to have restocked fridge when you get home.” 

I laughed.  “Touché!  Alright, I’ll keep it.”


“I’m serious, Ash.  You can really go there and stay anytime you want.  When it’s late and you’re still there, please don’t go out alone.  Stay the night.”

“I’m not a kid, Ryder!  I don’t have money.  Who will assault me?”


“But you, my love, possess something that appeals to some criminals, particularly men.  And I’m afraid I’m not comfortable with the thought of you being on your own in the streets at night.”

“I’ve lived in this neighborhood for months!”  I rolled my eyes.  “I know it’s not Manhattan where you just go out of your apartment and people are everywhere.  But sometimes, it’s just your luck.  You go, you go.”

“Have you heard of something called, ‘tempting fate’?  What if you’re not yet supposed to go but you twisted your own fate?

I laughed.  “This argument will never finish!  Okay, I’ll take care of myself.  I won’t go out any dark alleys.  I won’t walk from your house to mine alone when it’s dark.”

Our conversation was interrupted by a phone call.  It was my mother.

“Are you okay, Mom?”  I asked.

“I’m perfect!”  And she sounded so happy.  “Your father and I talked.  He wasn’t having an affair.  He was planning a surprise for me actually.  A little anniversary celebration.  He’d like to reaffirm his love for me.  He’s been so secretive about it, that I thought he was having an affair!  I’m so… stupid.”


“Wow!  That is great!  But I’m hurt!  Why didn’t he tell me?  I’m a wedding planner!  I could have arranged everything for you!”

“He doesn’t want to bother you, he knows you’re too busy with work already because you’ve just started.  Plus, it’s a small event.  You and Ryder are expected to be here next weekend for our family reunion.  If you don’t come, I will disown you.”

I laughed.  “Alright, mother.  We’ll be there.”  I said after my mother told me what day and time we are expected.  After I hung up, I stared at Ryder.  “Are you busy next weekend?”

“Your mother talks quite loudly, I heard half of your conversation already.”  He said chuckling.  “I’m glad they’re okay now.  And yes, I will come to your family reunion… as your fiancé.”

I smiled at him.  “Thank you, Ryder.  You’ve been… so patient with me.  I don’t even know why you’re doing this.

He smiled at me.  “Someday, I’ll tell you.”


I don’t know what he meant by that, but I didn’t insist.

“Okay, so pick me up at three on Friday?  Is that okay with you?

He nodded.  “I’ll be here.  On the dot.  Promise.”

I smiled.  Then I reached out for his hand and gave it a squeeze.  “Thank you, Ryder.”


“You’re always welcome.”  He smiled.

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