TYLER LOOKED BEAUTIFUL.
He stood at his locker, getting his books. Even though he wasn’t doing anything special, he still managed to look handsome. His wavy, jet black hair was messily brushed through, giving him that ‘I -just-rolled-out-of-bed’ look. His complimentary black shirt was a tight fit on him, allowing his muscles to bulge through the soft fabric. He cast me a side glance when he caught me staring dreamily at him, and offered me that signature smile of his, flashing his pearly white teeth at me.
“You know, if you’re going to stare at me, you might as well just take a picture,” he joked with a grin, “You can look at me all day then.”
Almost immediately, I felt my cheeks heat up in embarrassment. I still hadn’t gotten used to the comments he made from time to time. While some were more. . . inappropriate than others, I knew he was just trying to make me laugh. Despite the fact that it had been nearly two months since we started dating, I still found it hard to believe that someone like him wanted to date someone like me.
While I wasn’t someone who liked to bring up stereotypes, Tyler Harrington was the one person almost everyone wanted to date. He was the one all the girls swooned over in the hallways. So, to call him my boyfriend still seemed surreal to me. Yet, despite being a year older than me, I was surprised when he publicly announced that he wanted to date me.
The first three weeks of our relationship were the most difficult. No one could figure out why he would want to be with someone like me; someone who blended in to the background, with nothing particular special about her. Yet, he always managed to reassure me that everyone was just jealous of us, but the insecurity and doubt was always there at the back of my mind. It ebbed away at me, filling me with all kinds of negative thoughts.
“Stop it!” I groaned, hiding my face in my hands.
Tyler let out his usual low-pitched laugh as he slung his heavy arm over my shoulder, “Aw come on Naomi, I’m only teasing you. You always get embarrassed easily.”
I parted my hands and peeked up at my boyfriend. He smiled his charming smile and pulled my hands away from my face.
“Come on, you know I hate when you hide your face,” he complained with a pout, “You’re so adorable, you know that?”
“Tyler!” I huffed, and looked around in nervousness, to see if anyone was listening, “Seriously!”
Tyler ruffled my hair playfully, “Careful Naomi, don’t go screaming my name like that here. Save that for the bedroom.”
I gaped at him and whacked his arm lightly, “Tyler! Don’t say things like that!”
Tyler’s eyes twinkled mischievously, “Why not?”
“W-well, because we’re in school!” I stuttered nervously.
Just the thought of doing anything with Tyler made me nervous. I was only seventeen, and I knew I wasn’t ready for something like that. While I didn’t want to wait until I was married, this wasn’t something I wanted to rush into. I had yet to talk to Tyler about this, though. I was aware that he was an eighteen-year-old teenager. I knew he would expect. . . certain things from me, however, I didn’t know if I would be comfortable with that.
Tyler removed his arm from around me and sighed dramatically, “Fine, I have to get to class now anyways, but I’ll see you at lunch?”
A bright smile graced my face and I nodded my head enthusiastically, “I’ll see you then!”
He bent down to my height and pressed a chaste kiss to my cheek. I froze in my spot as he pulled away, a glint in his eyes.
“See you Naomi!” he called as he walked away, leaving me rooted to the ground.
Again, with Tyler being my first boyfriend, I still wasn’t used to any of his more. . . public displays of affection. I squirmed as I noticed some of the hateful and jealous glares from the other girls. Sometimes I wondered if he was doing this for me, or for attention he got from the other girls.
It was no secret Tyler wasn’t a one-man girl. He had always been seen with multiple girls, even in a single day. It was one of the reasons I was so hesitant to enter this relationship in the beginning. But Tyler being his usual convincing self, persuaded me to give him a chance, and I, like a fool, trusted him.
I turned my head to see my best friend, Toby, walking towards me. A bright grin immediately lit up on my face. Toby and I had met when we were both thirteen. He ended up moving here to Maysville with his family, right next door to us. Naturally, the two of us became friends when our families met each other. He had a kind of brutal honesty that tested most friendships, but I appreciated it. When the other girls liked to get catty, he always stuck up for me since I tended to stay quiet most of the time.
Toby’s eyes brightened in happiness as he neared. I laughed to myself as his usual curly hair was sticking up in every direction. He had tried nearly everything to make his hair straight and ‘not as stupidly fluffy’ but by the looks of it, he had given up at this point.
“Hey,” he grinned toothily showing the small gap between his front teeth, “You ready to go to class?”
I rolled my eyes as we began walking side by side, “No. I swear Miss Karin hates me! She’s always giving me her devil eyes.”
“I think you’re the only person who claims to have seen these devil eyes of hers,” Toby commented.
I gaped at my best friend, “You don’t believe me, do you?”
Toby chuckled and ruffled my hair, “Of course I do Omi. You would never lie.”
I swatted his hand away, “What is it with people constantly ruining my hair?” I complained, “Do you know how long it takes to make it even semi-presentable?”
“Your hair always looks nice,” Toby said, “Whether you spend ten minutes or an hour on it.”
“Aw Toby! That’s cute,” I gushed and nudged his shoulder, “But seriously! Keep an eye on Miss Karin. I promise you she will give me her devil eyes when I tell her I forgot to do the reading.”
Toby sighed heavily, “Have you ever done the reading?”
“W-what?” I fumbled over my words, before I rolled my eyes, “Of course, I have!”
“I’m starting to understand why she might give you devil eyes,” he muttered under his breath.
I shoved his shoulder and gave him a warning look, “Hey. Watch it.”
Toby glanced over, the corners of his lips fighting a smile, his eyebrows slightly raised, “Okay Miss I’ll-Kill-You-With-My-Glare.”
I groaned and shook my head, “It’s way too early to deal with you.”
Toby belted out a laugh that had my ears ringing, “I’ll try and tone down my annoying-ness just for you.”
“How generous of you,” I deadpanned with a roll of my eyes.
“I know,” Toby sighed in dramatics, “What can I say? I’m just such a gentleman.”
I scoffed at him, “Yeah right. Where was this gentleman when he was stealing my food at lunch yesterday?”
“I have no recollection of that,” Toby defended with a snigger, “You’re probably mixing me up with someone else.”
“Yeah yeah,” I muttered, “Sure you don’t remember.”
I pushed the classroom door open, the immediate chatter of the other student’s filling the room. I let out a depressed sigh as I trudged over to my usual seat with Toby trailing behind me.
“So,” Toby started, as he dumped his books on his table, “How are things going with Tyler?”
Like magic, a giddy smile crossed my face at the mention of his name, “Things are going great.”
Toby made a disgusted face when he looked at me, “Okay, first of all, get that awful, dreamy look off your face.”
I swatted his shoulder, “I do not have a dreamy look on my face!”
Toby humphed under his breath, “Yeah, and I’m Barack Obama.”
“Oh, shut it,” I retorted, but I couldn’t stop the smile that tugged at the corners of my lips.
“I just don’t like the guy,” Toby complained, and I had to hold back from rolling my eyes, “He’s. . . weird.”
I let out an annoyed sigh. Ever since Toby had even met Tyler, he had hated him. I never understood why. Tyler had never said or done anything to Toby, and he was a perfect gentleman to me.
“How is he weird?” I asked, shooting Toby a strange look, “He hasn’t done anything to you, or to me.”
“Well okay, he hasn’t but there’s just something about him that makes me uncomfortable.” Toby shrugged, “I can’t place my finger on it, but you know when you get a weird vibe from someone. . .? He just makes my skin crawl.”
“I think you’re over-reacting,” I countered with raised brows, “Everyone knows Tyler’s a gentleman. He’s not some creep that you’d find at the back of some dark alley.”
“How much do you even know about him?” Toby argued, “You two have been dating for what? Two months now, right? You probably can’t even tell me his favorite colour.”
“Yes, I can. It’s obviously green,” I lied, but Toby rolled his eyes.
“You just made that up.”
“I did not,” I chuckled, “Go ask him if you don’t believe me.”
“Yeah right,” Toby snorted, “I think I’d rather get rolled over by a bus than even look at him.”
“Keep the insults coming Myers,” I threatened, and grabbed the first thing off the table, to see my short, stubby pencil in my grasp, “And I’ll stab you with my pencil.”
I turned to see Tyler waving me over to his lunch table. Warmth spread through my body at his cute smile that was directed towards me. However, it soon died down when I heard Toby growl under his breath and I nudged his shoulder.
“Be nice,” I warned, and shot him a mock glare.
Toby rolled his eyes, mocking me under his breath, “Be nice.”
I raised my brows, “Okay, excuse me, but I do not sound like an eighty-year-old woman who’s sucking on helium!”
His smile extended to his eyes, his one dimple crinkling, “You said it, not me.”
Before I got the chance to jab at Toby again, a deep voice interrupted us.
“What are you guys laughing about?”
The two of turned to see Tyler looking at us with a fixed stare. He stood up, his big build immediately looming over us. While Toby was someone who liked to work out often, he was nowhere near as buff as Tyler was. To him, Toby probably seemed like a midget. Despite the smile on his face, it looked a little strained but I didn’t pay too much attention to it.
“Nothing Ty, we were just joking around,” I chuckled, “Toby was just being annoying as usual.”
“Well, what was the joke?” he asked, while pulling a seat out for me.
“Dude,” Toby butted in, sending him a not-so-subtle glare, “It’s not going to be funny if I have to retell the joke.”
Tyler looked between the two of us with an almost suspicious glance, “Hm.”
Toby and I shared a dubious looks before we both sat down at his table. It was strange that every time I tried to get Toby and Tyler together, his personality would completely change. Gone was the playful guy from this morning, replaced by a slightly brooding and moody Tyler who wasn’t trying to hide the fact that he was glaring at Toby.
Toby, ignoring his hateful gaze, turned to me with an excited grin, “So Naomi, guess what -”
“Naomi,” Tyler immediately interrupted, “There’s this party at my house this weekend. Want to come?”
I looked over at Toby apologetically, noticing the way he tightened his grip on his bottle. He caught my look and gave me a strained smile, but I hated that it felt like I had to choose between the two of them. Tyler was my boyfriend, and Toby was my best friend. How was I supposed to choose? I bit down on my lip, doubt filling me as I pondered over whether or not to speak up, but I didn’t get too much time as a deep voice brought me back to reality.
“Naomi,” Tyler’s voice snapped me out of my thoughts, “I’m asked you a question?”
“Sorry,” I quickly apologized, tearing my eyes away from Toby, “You said something about a party at your house?”
“Yeah, tomorrow night,” he muttered, “You know I love having you beside me. And I hate going by myself.”
I gnawed on my bottom lip. Despite being seventeen, I had never been to a party before, simply because my parents didn’t allow me. That, and I wasn’t a very social person. Oftentimes, I preferred staying at home by myself.
“I don’t know Ty. . .” I trailed off hesitantly. He had asked me before, to which I had made up some excuse that I was busy. Tyler leaned across the table and grasped my hand in his, his warmth seeping into mine.
“Please?” he pushed, plastering a bright smile on his face, “It’ll be fun, don’t worry. Besides, I’ll be with you the entire time.”
“Don’t you think Naomi is a little young to be going to the type of parties you go to?” Toby interrupted in a sharp tone, “I think we all know your idea of ‘parties’ doesn’t fall under the normal definition.”
Tyler let out a sigh, making me squirm. All I wanted to do was get up and run away from the table, but for some reason, I couldn’t move. His grip unconsciously tightened before it loosened completely.
“How about you mind your own business?” Tyler raised a thick brow, “I’m trying to have a conversation with my girlfriend here.”
Toby’s eyes were alit with anger, “Can’t you see how uncomfortable -”
“Toby,” I whispered, discreetly placing my hand on his arm under the table. He looked down at me and I shook my head, “It’s okay.”
Toby pursed his lips, and just like that, his shoulders deflated and he nodded his head.
“So, what do you say?” Tyler turned his attention back to me, “You’ll come, won’t you? We can dance and just have fun, I’ll introduce you to a few pals, and we can just after a while to grab a bite to eat somewhere.”
All the reasons not to go this came flooding in, but I ignored them. I fumbled over my words, struggling to string to a single sentence together, “Uh, sure. . . Yeah, I-I’ll be there.”
Toby’s head whipped over in my direction, “What-”
I stomped on Toby’s foot under the table, silencing him. Tyler grinned brightly, any signs of previous annoyance disappearing immediately from his face. I blinked at how quickly he managed to change his emotions. He stood up, leaning over and placed a chaste kiss on the top of my head.
“Thank you Naomi,” he slid his hand into mine and gave me a tight squeeze, “I’ll text you later about the details, okay?”
“Sure. . .” I trailed off, my focus shifting to Toby who refused to look at me.
Toby shot Tyler a deathly glare as he sauntered away from our table with his tray in his head. Toby chomped down on his apple almost violently, an annoyed expression displayed on his face.
“Toby. . .” I started tentatively, a wince on my face.
“Seriously Naomi!” he immediately exploded. His face was the colour of an over-ripe tomato, small veins protruding from his neck, “Why the hell would you accept? Do you even know what kind of parties he goes to?”
I looked down at the table, feeling stupid, “Well no. . . But it’s not like I’m going alone.”
“You think he’ll look out for you?” Toby jerked a thumb in a random direction and shook his head in disbelief. Silence ensued between us while he ran his hand through his frizzy hair three times in quick succession, before a look of determination crossed his face.
“That’s it. I’m going with you.”
I blinked, “Wait, what -”
“Don’t even think for a second I’m leaving you alone with that asshole, to go to some crazy, drug filled party,” he shot me warning glare, and I shut my mouth while he ranted, “He’s probably going to dump you in a corner the second you arrive.”
“Tyler would never let something bad happen to me,” I reassured him, “You’re being too harsh on him, Toby. He’s honestly so sweet. Why can’t you see that?”
“Tyler hasn’t known you for three years though, has he?” Toby shot back, “I mean you’ve known him for what? Two months? He doesn’t care for you as much as I do.”
I lowered my gaze , a lump forming in my throat. Of course, I wanted my boyfriend and best friend to get along, but I knew the chances of that happening were nearly slim to none. The only reason I had said yes to going to that party was because I thought he would leave me if I said no. I was so scared that he would get bored of me and find some other, older college girl to date. One of those girls who drank and partied all night. Despite knowing how flawed my thinking was, I couldn’t help it.
I heard Toby sigh and he placed a comforting hand on my shoulder, “I’m sorry for raising my voice at you,” he apologized, “It wasn’t you I was angry at. It was that asshole.”
I cracked a smile, “I know you’re only looking out for me, Toby. So thank you.”
“Well you shouldn’t make me worry about you so much,” Toby complained as he looked at himself in his phone camera, “Look, I’m already getting wrinkles and grey hair!”
I laughed at his distressed face while Toby spent the last ten minutes of lunch trying to convince me he was going to be bald by the time he was eighteen.But if only I had known what horrors awaited me in the next few weeks, I would have laughed a little harder.