I immigrated to the US from an Asian country in 2006. Recently, I went on a vacation to said country, where I met my second cousin, who I will refer to as Y from now on, during a trip to her mother's house. This was the first time I had met her, we had no previous contact by all means. She is petite and has these large, beautiful eyes. I didn't think too much of her at first, I just thought of her as a cute little sister I never had. Fast forward a few weeks, I planned a trip to a popular tourist destination, and had asked my mother and her friend to come along. I also tried asking a female 1st cousin (I have fond memories of her as a child, this one is an actual sister figure), but she was very busy with work. It was then I got a text from Y, it reminded me "Oh hey, I have this relative who I barely know and talked to! I should probably invite her".
I gave Y a call and asked if she wanted to come along and explained the procedures. While I'm in my mid 20s, Y is a 18 years old "country" girl who had just left her small town to start university in a large city. Education in this country is very expensive for an average income house, and there's no low interest, government subsidized loan program for students. Knowing that Y is likely struggling financially, I offered to cover her trip expenses. I'll never forget the joy in her voice, she was shaking with excitement.
Came the first day of the trip, I made space on the bench for Y when I saw her. Y said hello politely to all of us, and sat closer to my mother's side. I could see that she was reserved around me. Then we boarded the bus, because of a last minute ticket request, one of us had to give up our seat to sit in the back, I volunteered. A few minutes later, they sorted out the issue, and I got to sit next to Y while my mother and her friend sat on the other side of the aisle. We talked during the entire bus ride, finding out more about each other.
By the third and fourth day, we had almost no reservation left. Y would regularly hold my hand and lead me into outdoor markets while explaining the local culture to me. All the markets are usually very crowded and sometimes only have enough room for one person walking. A vendor joked loudly "Hey you lovebirds stop holding hands, there's no space here!". I laughed while Y sported an embarrassed smile, and immediately withdrew her hand. At night (we shared the same hotel room, different beds), she would massage my back and shoulders, which slightly ache from my time in the military. She would also give me massages on the bus when she sees me being uncomfortable sitting still. On the last day of our trip, Y rested her head on my shoulder, locked her arms with mine and told me she wants a boyfriend just like me. I chuckled and didn't think much of it.
A few weeks later, Y and a few family friends accompanied my family to the airport leaving for the states. As I was leaving for good, Y burst into tears. I hugged her while she kept telling me to get away. We still keep in touch, I'm currently going to college. She said she will save money every month and wait for the day I come back to go on trips with me. She also said she'll remain single so she can spend time with me when I visit.
Aside from her beauty, Y is very kind and respectful to elders and is a smart student. She also seems to care a lot about me. Being the idiot that I am, I confessed my feelings for her over text. She told me when she said she wanted a boyfriend like me, she meant one that would pay attention to her as much as I did. She doesn't think badly of me for speaking out, and she'll continue to treat me normally. I acknowledged and wished her goodnight. Should I give her some space and back off? If so I'm afraid my feelings will wane with time and she'll forget about me. I'm unsure of what to do next.