Quick note: I edited the two last sentences of the last chapter for the purposes of this chapter. Soz.
It’s been two days since I last uttered a word to any of the guys. I have successfully managed to avoid all of them in lessons and at dinner.
All of them have tried to approach me, their eyes pleading with me to listen, but I couldn’t find it in my heart to listen. I have been hurt so many times by people close to me—I thought they were different.
I have spent a lot of time with Kacey. Sure, I’m still annoyed at her but right now, she’s the only person I have. With Trinity openly making my life harder, I need someone I can trust. Well, semi-trust.
Kacey was that person. Since I’m the only person she really talks to, I know she won’t push me away.
Today in art, Talia attempted to talk to me. But I quickly ran away from her, back to the safety of my table. Which would usually have Arlo on it too but today, he was a no-show.
At lunch, they were all there. They all sent me longing looks, their eyes begging me to come over. Even Arlo was doing it. He seemed the most desperate out of everyone. Could he possibly feel guilt for kicking me out the other night? Does he regret it?
“Honestly, why don’t you just go up to them?” Kacey asks, taking a bite from her tuna sandwich.
Sighing, I rest an elbow on the table. “It’s not that simple.”
She arches an eyebrow, unimpressed. “And why is it not simple?”
“They let me down,” I say, exasperated. “They literally dismissed me like some dog!”
Amusement shines in her brown eyes, irking me. She finds me anger funny!
Narrowing my eyes, I pinch my lips together and try to control myself.
“It’s not funny,” I deadpan, sending her a fierce glare. That shuts her mouth and causes her eyes to stop showing amusement. She nods her head in understanding, a serious expression now on her face.
“Right, yes,” She clears her throat and sends me a grim smile. “Well, they are good people and I can see how guilty they feel. Even Arlo feels bad.”
I shoot her a confused look, trying to hide my happiness. “Why would I care about Arlo?”
A knowing smile covers her face. She leans closer to me, tucking a strand of her ebony hair behind her ear. “Lily, it’s obvious there is something between you two.”
My cheeks turn a different colour. Kacey notices the colour of my cheeks and bursts out laughing. Glowering at her, I flip her off.
She only laughs harder.
“But on a more serious note,” She eventually says when her fits of laughter begin to quieten down. “They can see they made a mistake and they genuinely look sorry about it. We all make mistakes, its just what you choose to do once you realize you made a mistake.”
I never knew Kacey could sound so wise. She literally sounds like Yoda or something.
For a few moments, I ponder over her words. I should at least hear them out…even Arlo. He does look really bad about it. And we do make mistakes. We are all flawed. I can’t just expect perfect friends. That’s not fair on them.
Sure, I cried my eyes out over them. Well, I think I poured my soul out. Nonetheless, we have all cried over friends. True friendships never run smoothly—real friends fight, argue and cry. I might not be able to completely forgive them now, but I can at least let them try.
Sighing, I comb a hand through my hair. Through my long lashes, I peek at their table. The seat I normally sit in is empty, waiting for me.
Arlo drags his gaze from his half-eaten plate to me, locking eyes with me. Quickly, I avert my eyes, my heart hammering in my chest.
“You are right,” I admit, reluctantly.
She beams at me and takes a sip of her water. “I’m always right.”
Rolling my eyes at her arrogance, my eyes float back to the group. My heart pangs with longing. We haven’t spoken in two days, but it feels like a lifetime. They mean something to me. They feel like family.
“I’m going to go up to them,” I announce, with newfound confidence. Kacey smirks and delves back into her food, keeping her eyes trained on me as I jump up to my feet and march over to their table.
“Hi,” I say calmly, sliding into my usual seat.
Surprise flash in their orbs, followed by hope. As usual, Talia is the first person to jump in.
“I’m so sorry about what happened the other night,” She apologizes, sincerely. “I immediately regretted not standing up for you like that. You’re our friend, our close friend, and what we did was wrong. You’re a person and you deserve to be treated right.”
I can never stay mad at Talia for too long. She is really good with words.
“I forgive you,” I tell her. The other boys, minus Arlo, all give me their genuine apologies. When everyone else has spoken, all heads turn to Arlo.
His brown eyes shine with sadness whilst the air around him flutters with defeat. He looks devastated and I can’t tell if it’s because of what happened between us or not. Is he guilty or is it something else?
“Arlo,” I murmur softly, hoping to get a reaction from him.
Eventually, he raises his head, solemnly and locks eyes with me. Guilt gnaws at him, eating him up. I just know. His eyes are pleading with me to forgive him, but his mouth is finding the words.
“I think we should talk somewhere more private,” I suggest, already making a move to leave. When I hear his hard footfalls behind me, I know he’s following me out of the dining room.
I lead us to our special spot—the Frederick Tree. We both plop our bottoms on the hard ground and stare at the school grounds. Silence ensues between us for a while, as we both gather our thoughts.
“I hate not being in control,” Arlo blurts out, quietly. I turn to him, confused and intrigued on where he’s going with this. “I love knowing everything, having control. It’s in my nature.”
I nod my head, listening intently to every word.
“And everything was going great until you came into the picture.” He adds. The comment should sound spiteful in this context however it doesn’t. It’s actually the opposite.
“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” I ask him, uncertainly. Arlo turns his head in my direction and smiles that breath-taking, heart-warming and toe-curling smile that I love. How can anyone be so beautiful?
“I think you know the answer.”
I suck in a breath, forcing myself to hold in my annoyance. “I want to hear it from you.”
He leans in closer to me, causing my heart to go bonkers in my chest. Fisting my fingers through the grass on the ground, I use it to keep me gravitated. If I stare into Arlo’s eyes for too long, I might get lost forever.
He’s like the gateway to Wonderland. If I stare into his eyes, I might fall and find myself somewhere magical and beautiful. And as much as I love the idea, I’m no Alice.
“Lily,” Just the sound of my name rolling off his tongue is music to my ears. How does someone make my name sound so great? “I’m glad you waltzed into my life. Because you’re teaching me something about myself.”
I can’t help myself now. I lean forward so that we’re inches from each other. I can smell his intoxicating scent and feel the warmth radiating off him. He inhales my scent too; his eyes darken with desire.
“And what’s that?”
I feel like I’m flirting now. Instead of freaking out about it, I’m glad I am. For so long I have been telling myself that Arlo and I are friends. I have been my own coach, trying to remain in that horrible friendzone. But, just for this moment, whilst no one is here, I want to do this. To have a taste. It’s dangerous, reckless and so worth it.
Arlo catches onto what I’m doing. He smirks slyly and shuffles even closer. My breath hitches and my body ignites with passion.
Instead of answering, Arlo brushes his lips against my own.
My whole world fades away into nothingness. The only thing I can think, and feel is Arlo—this gorgeous man who is kissing me.
I melt into him, moving my lips against his. Everything feels so right. It feels perfect.
This is what I wanted. I wanted to feel this passion, this desire, this love.
I have been kissed by a few people, but I have never been kissed like this before. This is on a whole new level. This feels like a lover’s kiss—a promise.
Surely, I’m not the only one who feels this. Surely Arlo feels the sparks. Surely his heart is raging in his chest right now. If I thought we had a connection before, I am certain now. This proves it. This kiss shows there is something undeniable between us. Arlo cannot resist now. He can’t keep pushing me in the friend zone, not when this has happened.
And then I hear it, a snap.
We both jolt away from each other, avoiding eye contact.
Glancing over my shoulder into the woods, I try and search for any signs of life. An uneasy feeling pools in my stomach, putting me on alert. I have this dreadful feeling someone is watching us—me—right now.
“Um,” I say, unsure of what to say.
Arlo inhales sharply, casting me a look. “That shouldn’t have happened.”
Anguish flourishes in my body. “You have got to be kidding me.” I deadpan, angrily. “You can’t deny there isn’t something there anymore. Look, I tried to ignore these feelings too but look…it seems fate doesn’t want us to ignore them.”
Arlo’s eyes scrunch together tightly, resembling a man in pain. It comes to my attention that these words a visibly hurting him.
“Why—why do you try and hurt me so much? Why do you push me away? Why do you pretend we don’t have anything?” I ask him, putting all those feelings I have into my questions.
All those worries of someone watching us are put to the back of my mind. Right now, this is my chance to find out why he’s been out to hurt me for so long.
“Because…” He manages to spit out, his eyes showing the inner turmoil he’s having. “I have only known one thing when it comes to love. My love for Talia. And now that you’re here…things feel different. I feel guilty for betraying her, but I also feel guilty for betraying you. This connection we have is a lot deeper than you think. And I’m scared and I don’t know if I can handle it.”
This is the first time I’ve heard him admit any of his feelings. Now that he’s started, I don’t want him to stop.
“But don’t you see I’m scared too?” I input, truthfully. “My last relationship with a guy broke me. I lost all of my friends and him. Love is scary and confusing. But most of all, it hurts. You have to know that you probably will be scorned by it, by me. But you have to remember it brings so much joy to you, so much affection. It changes you, mostly for the better.”
“I understand your confusion. Talia was your first love, someone you will never completely forget or let go. But I’m here too, someone who is willing to help you move on and reciprocate your feelings. If you give me the chance too.” I declare, putting everything out there.
Arlo shakes his head, “You don’t understand. Once we’re together, that’s it. There’s no going back. And I don’t know if I want that type of commitment.”
Dread fills my bones and my heart. I know where he’s going with this and I don’t like it. It’s not what I want.
“I don’t think I can get over Talia. And I don’t think you can handle the truth. I—I don’t want to reject my mate but if things like this continue, I might have to.” He murmurs, sadly.
My eyebrows furrow at his words and I open my mouth to speak, to ask him what his last sentence meant, only to stop when I hear a growl from behind us interrupts me.
My whole body freezes and my eyes widen.
I glance at Arlo in worry and fear. But he’s already stood up, staring directly into the forest, where the noise came from.
Gulping, I slowly turn my head around only to wish I hadn’t. Right behind me stands a large, black-haired wolf. He is big, strong and angry.
Arlo tenses but doesn’t appear alarmed by the wolf in front of us. It makes me curious--wolves are very dangerous animals. I’ve never seen a wolf before in my life, partly because they don’t like in England. So why on Earth is there a wolf in the woods of our school right now?
I’m half-tempted to sprint to the school and demand the receptionist to call animal control but then I remember that they would probably think I was delusional. Plus, the wolf would chase me down and eat me. I don’t fancy being someone’s food today.
“W—what do we d—do?” I stammer, keeping my eyes plastered on the wolf.
Arlo answers my question calmly, with ease. “You are going to stand up and take slow steps back to the school.”
“What about you?” I ask, worrying about his safety. Sure, he basically just rejected my feelings, claiming he didn’t want to love anyone else but Talia, but I still care about him. Even if I’m slowly growing to hate him.
“Don’t worry about me. Just go!” His instruction is fierce and strong. I quickly do what he commands and rise to my feet.
The wolf watches my movements. His brown eyes stay on me the entire time and I swear I see them flash with something like pity. Why would this wolf show me pity? How would a wolf…never mind. This is just ridiculous.
Maybe I’m dreaming.
However, if I’m dreaming it means I made up my kiss with Arlo. And even though the memories afterwards hurt my heart, I still don’t regret it.
I don’t even realize I made it back to the school until I stumble into one of the steps.
Concern bubbles in me, thinking about Arlo all alone with the wolf. Whilst he didn’t appear scared by it, I’m still worried. He could just be acting like that for me.
I decide to go and tell the others. They might know what to do.
Quickly, I rush to the dining room to find them. But it’s empty.
Common room! I think and change my direction.
As suspected, I find them lounging around on one of the big sofas.
Rushing in like a lunatic, I head straight to them with urgency. My breaths are shaky, and my cheeks are probably flushed. All in all, I must look like a mess.
“Woah, Lily. What happened?” Arden asks me, examining my demeanour head to toe.
Between breaths, I manage to answer him. “Frederick tree…kiss…Arlo…wolf.”
They all knit their eyebrows together, confused and worried. Talia edges forward on the chair and gazes at me softly. “Slow down, Lily. Take your time and tell us what happened.”
Gulping in as much air as I can, I force myself to concentrate on my words. “Me and Arlo we’re at the Frederick Tree…” I start, this time leaving out any mention of the kiss. I can’t believe I did that! Thankfully, they didn’t understand me. “And this wolf appeared. Arlo managed to get me out of there but he’s still with it.”
Alarm glimmers in their eyes. Arden leaps to his feet and begins marching out of the room, followed by Cabe. Talia remains with me. She stands up and wraps a comforting arm around my shoulders. She whispers soothing words into my ear, telling me everything is fine.
It doesn’t come to my attention until later that none of them accused me of lying. They instantly believed me.
The boys don’t return for the rest of the day. They skipped school and nobody cared. It’s now my last lesson—art. I’m handing in my art piece, the one of Arlo. I managed to finish over the two days when I was ignoring the guys.
Arlo isn’t here so I’m handing mine in alone.
Taking the piece out of its case, I scan my eyes over every detail again. I captured him the way I see him, with stars in his eyes. To me, he is the moon, surrounded by darkness yet still managing to shine brightly. He is there every night in my dreams, in the sky, watching down on me but never being with me.
Every part of him is eternal, out of my reach. That is who he will always be to me. Someone I could see but never have.
Arlo Gold is like a piece of gold to me. Everyone wants it but few have it. He is far, far away, locked up and hidden. Never to be found by people like me.
As I think about this, my feelings for him grow. I know this heavy, painful feeling in my chest is love. Love for a man who will never want me. Who can’t be with me.
I knew the moment I met Arlo he would be the end of me. I knew he would ruin me.
And I was right.
Sorry about my late update but here we are. There are a lot of feelings in this chapter. I hope you can see the real struggle Arlo is having coming to terms with his feelings for Lily. He doesn't want to let go of what he already has.
I hope you enjoyed the chapter. My next update will be soon...possibly Monday.