Chapter 8: How It All Started (Part 2)
I knew I probably had her wondering about all kinds of things; and honestly that wasn’t my intention. I freaked when I realized how much I had been flirting. Don’t get me wrong, I knew I was a bit friendly more often than not, but this time I actually caught myself flirting and it had to be stopped. That was one of the two reasons I’d closed my blinds.
The other was to show her that us dressing alike was more than some kind of mere coincidence. We were legit on the same brain wave. Far more connected than we ever realized we could be and this past year had only proven it to be true. It was weird. No matter what we did, no matter how we tried to change it, we still came out dressed the same. I’d laughed and tried to shrug it off, but it was becoming more and more prominent.
Maria was going to end up meaning more to me than any scenario I could conjure up. It would be because of her that I have my epiphany. Unfortunately for her, by some cruel twist of fate, I would be the same for her. What kind of epiphany could a monster give? I had no idea, but I was going to do whatever I could to fight it off for as long as I could. It wasn’t fair to have her life ruined because I became obsessed.
“Mom, Dad I’m going out!” I yelled hoping they would hear me as I practically ran down the stairs.
“Tell her hi!” my dad yelled back too many implications hidden behind his tone. I had to bite my tongue so as to not feed into the trap, but he almost got me.
“Will do! Bye!” For a moment, I wondered if my dad missed the son he used to have. The one that talked about sports, cute girls, and unnecessarily meaty foods. I was still him, it was just now I was a little more like mom wanted. In tune with my feelings, willing to express emotions and seeing when I was needed before the person even knew themselves. I like shopping now. I try to make it fun and do what I can to distract whoever from whatever is on their mind. I like expressing myself. I like being that comfort when all they need is a shoulder to cry on.
I mean, I haven’t seen Maria personally need me in that way, but I can’t get the things I overheard that first week here out of my head. She’d learn to be quiet and more careful, but sometimes she slips. I try to text her doing those times just to remind her that I’m here. It was something that I wished someone had done for me. That I had done for Natalie.
I sighed, I was never going to stop comparing the two and it was killing me. I loved Natalie, but even I can admit that our friendship was nothing like what I have with Maria now. That’s not a bad thing either. All that means is that Natalie was a hundred percent my friend. No underlying feelings needed to be sorted out. No confusion. Nothing. With Maria, it was different. I was doing things I never once had to do in my life. It almost felt like she challenged me, while also completely giving in to me. It was a confusing thing to experience and I had no idea how to explain and thankfully I didn’t have to. Just as I was about to lose my mind, I heard her door close forcing me to look up and in her direction. I was breathless. A year later and her beauty still caught me off guard. It was like she was moving towards me in slow motion. As expected she was wearing the same colors as I was. Pink and black.
Her hair was pulled into a semi-neat, semi-messy ponytail and I was just glad I’d gotten my braided while gone. She was wearing a pair of pink high-waisted shorts that hugged her hips beautifully. I couldn’t wait until I could watch her walk away for me, but for now I had to admire the front view. She too was wearing a black tank top that barely contained her breasts, but who was I to complain. As per usual she had her favorite black pumps on paired with her pinkish looking rose gold bracelet and a pair of black hoop earrings.
I took a moment to stare at the bracelet a little longer. As long as she wore it or the necklace she was mine and vice versa. Today I was wearing both my chain and my watch. The way she smiled as her eyes lit up when she noticed is what I was going to remember most from this day, not how she was dressed. Her smile alone outshone anything she could wear.
I couldn’t believe that I had convinced her to buy them. My reasoning behind them was so stupid. Of course the his/her set was for couples. People who were together and wanted to prove their love to each other. I was just a selfish asshole trying to prove to the locker room that Maria wouldn’t leave me. Trying to act as if I had her wrapped around my finger when it was actually the opposite.
Whatever my methods, I no longer cared. I was protecting her from the vultures. The vile things I heard about her made me sick to my stomach and admittedly in the beginning I was no better. I wanted her for all the wrong reasons. I wanted to prove all the wrong things; but the more I got to know her the less I wanted those things. I just wanted to protect her over everything else. Protect her from monsters like me, people who made bad mistakes and monsters who were living hell on Earth.
“Why do you hate me?!” I jumped up and raced over towards my window. What the hell was that? Did something happen? Was she crying? We just had the most amazing day at the mall and no it was ruined again. I was just trying to take her mind off of the fact that the dogs were going to the groomers without her and now it was all for nothing. I wonder what kind of note her mother left her this time.
I watched her for a minute. I could smell the rain and although I’d just gotten over a cold, I wouldn’t leave her out there by herself when she needed me. She wouldn’t outright ask and I understood, but I wish she would. For now, I would give her the few minutes she needed alone and just watch her from a distance. She looked like she was trying to calm herself down. I’ve learned to notice the way she breathes when it is too much for her. I loved her restraint and also feared it. If she was capable of hiding that much, how much more could there be? I watched as she rose to the balls of her feet before slowly going to the tip of her toes. Slowly she spun and with the fog surrounding her I felt like I was watching the most emotional ballet.
I had no idea if she was trained or not, but she definitely had a natural talent for it. I was stuck; mesmerized. I should’ve been down there with her. We could be dancing in the rain. Smiling to myself I race out of my room and down the stairs to join her. The closer I got to her the bigger my smile got. She too had changed into comfortable clothes after we got home and again it was the same as mine. Exactly the same for once. Grey joggers with a black t-shirt. Even her hair was like mine thrown haphazardly in a lazy ponytail.
“Hey Minnie.” I spoke softly and finally felt the small droplets hitting my face. I came out just in time. “Want some company since the dogs are at the groomers?” I asked. She didn’t look at me nor did she open her eyes. For a second I thought that she was going to deny me, but instead she nodded her head yes. I didn’t hesitate to go through the separating our yards.
The closer I got to her, the more I could feel the heat radiating off of her body until finally she was in my arms. Slowly we began a waltz; twisting and turning as it drizzled down around us. I was probably going to get sick again, but this moment was far more than worth it.
“So what do you have in mind for the day?” she asked, handing me an orange juice. I really didn’t care for the juice and preferred water, but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings by denying. I forced myself to drink as much of it as possible before shrugging.
“I really don’t know.” I sighed trying to think. “Do you feel like just driving around and enjoying my company?” Maybe acting aloof to being alone with her would make it easier. Maybe my parents were right and I was feeling things that I shouldn’t be feeling, but there was nothing that I could do about it now. I needed to think about it more, but I also just wanted to ignore it. There was no point in torturing myself about it.
“Doesn’t really matter to me as long as I get free food out of it.” she joked as I shook my head laughing.
“Come on then fatass, get in the car.” I cheered playfully, cringing at my choice of words before opening the door for her. “By the way, it’s good to see that no matter how much time apart we spend, we still think alike.” I grinned as she rolled her eyes.
“It scared me then, it scares me now.”
“Well, my love, it’s about time that you get used to it.” Again she rolled her eyes as I closed the door and walked back over to the driver’s side. The moment my seatbelt was on, I tried to play like I didn’t know I was doing it, but I grabbed her hand interlacing our fingers and placed it in my lap. I could feel her staring at the simple action, but I tried my hardest to ignore it. Even when she cleared her throat.
“So… What was it like being back home?” she asked as I nervously began rubbing my index finger across the top of her hand. I tried to shrug it off, still scared that she would leave me if she knew the truth. That who I used to be would make her run far away from me without ever looking back. It would hurt too much to lose her and that was the very last thing that I wanted to happen. I was too invested at this point.
“Same as always Minnie, boring. Everyone knows everyone and everything still. It still is a frustrating and annoyingly irritating thing not having any kind of privacy. Know what I mean?”
“Um...Mickey did you forget that I am an only child who was so lonely and emotionally unstable that my parents got me not one but three dogs to be able to cope so I wouldn’t bother them so much.” she joked as I gritted my teeth. I hated that joke a year ago and I still hate it now. It also made me feel guilty about my deal with her mother that she still knew nothing about. I loved how much she’s learned to trust me and I could definitely see the difference a year made. She was more free around me now. She wasn’t as reserved. She’d learned to relax and those overheard moments were happening less and less.
“You are truly one of a kind Maria.” I smiled to myself as a montage of us played in my mind. “Truly one of a kind.”
“So are you Dave.” she countered catching me off guard. Usually she’d just blush as we’d continue the ride in silence. “Maybe that’s why we think so much alike.” She had no idea. “Together we are one of a kind. Together we are uniquely us.”
“Maybe.” I smiled, tightening my hold on her hand. Clearly, she only saw me as a friend and seemed to like it that way, but my heart was skipping beats. I liked the way us sounded coming from her. It allowed small thoughts to seep through even though it wasn’t supposed to. I knew I wasn’t supposed to think about her like this, but it wouldn’t hurt to let my imagination run wild just this once.
By the time we pulled back into my driveway after one final stop at the ice-cream parlor, it was already well past six. Maybe driving around with the AC on had been a bad idea since now we had to go back out in the sticky heat, but I wouldn’t have changed a second about it. It was the most relax I’d been in a month. She groaned, catching my attention once again as her cone started to melt in her hand. I rolled my eyes laughing. Sometimes she made teasing her so easy.
“You have to lick it faster, Minnie. That’s the only way to stop it from oozing.” I said in a duh tone as she raised her eyebrow at me. As soon as I smirked a mischievous twinkle came to her eyes. I wondered if she got the innuendo. After shrugging her shoulders she shocked me. My eyes were glued to her movements as she brought the cone up to her lips and stuck out her tongue flat against it before giving the ice-cream long slow strokes and moaning as the coolness of it hit her. She even went a step further to suck the ice-cream from her fingers until they were no longer coated in the sticky treat. I was getting hard and had I not stopped her, I probably would’ve done something stupid like kissed her. There would be no taking that back, especially since she’s not supposed to affect me like that in the first place. “Stop it.” was all I could force myself to say. She bursted into laughter at my misfortune and almost seemed like she enjoyed teasing me whether she was aware of it or not.
“Well today was great.” she spoke as I continued to just stare at her mouth. I really wanted to kiss her now. “Thanks for hanging out with me even though I’m pretty sure you’re tired and probably just wanted to relax.”
“It was my pleasure Minnie. I enjoy spending time with you and plus I got to see these little ones.” I turned around to rub the dogs who were asleep on the little doggie couch I’d made into a makeshift car seat for them. Hell I almost forgot they were even here. “Maybe a little later tonight or even tomorrow you can bring the dogs over for a swim. We haven’t really done much swimming this summer.”
“Sure Mickey,” she shrugged. “As long as this isn’t some weird ploy to see me in a bikini.” she teased as I laughed. I loved how she referred to our first summer together. It was nice to see that we could change and mature, while still just being us together.
“Well it wasn’t initially, but now that you’ve put the thought there…”
“Goodbye David, I’ll talk to you later.” We both laughed as I hugged her before we went our separate ways across the paths that led to our homes. Since I had moved in, the grass separating us had only grown thinner and thinner until it was basically just a dirt path and that too made me feel confident that she trusted me not to hurt her.