The next day, I see everyone at breakfast. My eyes immediately land on Arlo, who can’t seem to keep his eyes off me. Slowly, I take a seat opposite him and try my best to ignore his burning gaze as I eat my food. Talia engages in a conversation with Arden and Cabe, leaving me and Arlo to either awkwardly sit there or to talk.
From my peripheral vision, I notice Arlo shifting in his seat uncomfortably. He leans closer to me and somehow manages to catch my gaze. Pinning my stare down, I can do nothing except stare into the depths of his beautiful eyes. I can never get enough of them, no matter how hard I try.
“You look very nice today, Lily,” He compliments, smoothly. My cheeks tinge a pink colour, to my dismay. Suddenly feeling shy, I break our stare and look down at my food with interest.
Quietly, I thank him. I take a peek at him through my long lashes, whilst biting my lip. Something feels different about him. Arlo never compliments me on my outfit, and he doesn’t stare at me like that. His eyes appear lighter, happier. Is he okay? Did something happen?
“Lily,” Arlo calls my name in his delectable voice causing shivers to course down my spine. His hand reaches out for mine and takes it. Sparks fly between us, igniting every bone in my body. I nearly gasp from the amazing sensation. I peer at him uncertainly, wondering what he has to say. “I apologize for yesterday. I’m sorry I said those things. They were wrong. I was wrong. I—”
He pauses and clears his throat. I don’t even pay attention to anyone else but him. I’m sure our friends are watching us like hawks, wondering what is going on.
“I didn’t mean what I said…I want to give it a go with you.”
Have you ever been felt like the whole world around you dissolves? Like you are the only person and everything else vanishes. All the noise and the people just disappear, leaving me and Arlo.
I have dreamed of this, I wanted to hear Arlo say those words for so long. Now that he has, I’m not sure. Yesterday he seemed so certain with his decision, he was emotional, a wreck. He didn’t want me, and he knew it.
So, what’s changed? What happened in the space of a day to make him change his mind?
It wasn’t an easy choice. I wasn’t asking Arlo what flavour ice cream he wanted. This was something serious. Love isn’t a feeling you can switch on and off.
My confusion shows on my face. Arlo strokes my hand, absentmindedly whilst waits for my response.
What on earth should I say to him?
Folding my arms over my chest, I give him my best ‘are you serious’ look. “How do I know this isn’t a trick? Why should I suddenly forgive you?”
Arlo has hurt me so many times, why should I let it slide? Arlo Gold is a player, I have always known this, but I have always tried to ignore it. He plays with girls’ hearts, toys with them—that’s exactly what he’s trying to do with mine.
To my surprise, Arlo doesn’t back down. He remains persistent, answering my questions with honesty and determination. “What I did to you was so wrong and I regret that now. God, I regret it so much. It’s selfish of me but I want a second chance with you…to get to know you. I will do anything.”
Everything about Arlo right now is vulnerable. I have his heart in my hands and I could crush him if I wanted to.
I stare directly into Arlo’s eyes, mentally going over the pros and cons of this situation.
Pro: I get what I finally want. I get to be with Arlo.
Con: He shouldn’t get away with what he’s done that easily. He’s hurt me so much—why should I let him have what he wants now?
Sighing, I run a hand through my hair. Arlo is still staring at me with hope and desperation, but I can’t do anything right now. I need time to think things over.
“I—I,” I stutter, my thoughts and words a jumble. Fortunately, it's at that moment an announcement is spoken through the school’s speakers. Everyone stops eating and talking, ready to receive the piece of news.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” The smooth voice of our Deputy Headteacher, Elizabeth, who gave me an induction the first day I got here. That feels like a lifetime ago now. I can imagine her sat behind her lavish desk, wearing another Chanel outfit, her brown eyes strict and alert. I wonder if she remembers showing me around the school.
I’m knocked out of my thoughts when her baritone voice continues to speak. “One hundred and ten years ago, we opened this private school for the ablest students. Since then, we have had the finest students roll through here, keeping this school’s reputation spotless. To mark this school’s anniversary in three weeks’ time, we are going to be holding a school dance. I am in need of a few students to help prepare the dance. There will be a sign-up sheet on the notice board later today if you would like to be a part of it. More information will be handed out to all students soon.”
Nobody says anything for a moment. And then Elizabeth’s voice filters through the speaker one last time, “Thank you, that is all. You can return to your food.”
And then the room lights up as everyone begins talking to each other about the upcoming dance.
Talia turns to me with a look of pure excitement on her face. “Oh my gosh, this is so exciting. We never get dances anymore. There’s only Prom.”
Her smile is infectious, I can’t help but smile too. I haven’t been to a school dance in a long time. I went to my last dance with Joe and Amber, when we were all close. I remember having such a good time, enjoying every moment. That was when things were great. A pang of longing hits my heart at the hard reminder that I will never experience that again with those people. Well, maybe with Amber but never Joe. He hates my guts now.
My smile falters. I have to use a lot of energy to keep it from going, I don’t want them to start asking questions. Arlo notices though and sends me a frown.
“We’re going to have to go dress shopping! I love shopping for dresses!” Talia continues to ramble, in her own world. I try to keep up with her talking but it’s inevitable—my mind wanders.
People usually go to these functions with a partner—a date. I can’t help but wonder if Arlo might ask me. That is if I choose to forgive him.
I glance at Arlo, who is now listening to Talia ramble too. I wonder if he’s feeling anything for her. His eyes are sparkling like they usually do when he listens to Talia speak. There isn’t any love in them for her.
Curiosity and dare I say it, hope, blossoms in my chest. Is Arlo getting over Talia?
Arlo’s eyes stray away from Talia and land on me. The corners of his lips quirk upwards to a full-blown grin. My heart accelerates and my cheeks turn a different colour. I can’t help but return the smile.
“We should so sign up to the group! I would love to help out. I love decorating things,” Talia’s cheerful and bubbly voice breaks our moment, knocking me back into reality.
“Hm?” I ask her, removing my eyes from Arlo.
I swear, I hear him chuckle as if he knows something I don’t.
“Lily, I swear you’re always daydreaming,” Talia comments, rolling her eyes playfully. “I was saying that we should both join the club that is going to plan the anniversary dance. We get to choose the theme and decorate the hall. It would be so fun!”
My eyes widen and I immediately begin to shake my head. “I can’t, I have so much work to catch up on.”
Talia pouts and gives me her best puppy eyes. “Please, it would be fun.”
I sigh and continue to shake my head. “I can’t, I’m already behind on my schoolwork as it is. You can join without me though.”
“It won’t be the same without you. I need my best friend with me, kicking ass.”
I laugh at her comment.
“Why do you need to kick someone’s ass?” I ask her, amusement clear in my voice.
Talia shrugs her shoulders and chucks a chip into her mouth. “I like the saying; I’ve always wanted to say that.”
We all laugh at that.
Later that day, I’m walking down the hallway to my English lesson, minding my own business when an arm suddenly wraps around my shoulders, startling me. With a shriek, I flinch and whip my head into their direction.
When my eyes land on Talia, I release a sigh of relief and relax my tensed shoulders. “You idiot, I basically jumped out of my bones because of you!” I exclaim, angrily.
She simply smiles innocently and removes her arm from my shoulders only to loop her arm with mine. “Sorry, I didn’t realize you scared so easily.”
Rolling my eyes, I continue to walk down the halls with her.
“So…you know you love me,” Talia suddenly blurts out, glancing at me sheepishly. Slowing down my pace, I eye her through narrowed eyes.
“What did you do?” I ask her, pursing my lips together.
She mutters the answer under her breath so I can’t hear it. I bump my shoulder into hers, throwing her a warning look. Exhaling, she tells me with slumped shoulders.
“I signed you up for the club.”
Gasping, I stop walking and force her to face me. My eyes scan hers, searching for any dishonesty. When I find none, I pinch my lips together angrily.
“Why, Talia? I told you I don't have enough time.”
Talia puckers her bottom lip out and stares at me with big eyes. “I know, I know! I just…I wanted you to be with me. You’re my best friend and I wanted to have this time with you.”
My heart melts at her words. How can I be mad at her when she says things like that?
My eyes soften and the corners of my lips quirk upwards. “You shouldn’t have done that without my permission.”
She nods her head sadly. “I know.”
“But I’m glad you did it. I see where you are coming from now.” I tell her, causing her head to snap to mine and her lips to spread into a large smile.
“You’re going to have to help me with my schoolwork though,” I add, passing her a stern look. She bobs her head down vigorously, instantly agreeing to the terms.
Linking arms with her again, we bound the hallways, discussing ideas for the school dance.
“I think the theme should be the Oscars. It’s classy which this place is, and it celebrates the careers of people—which is what this dance is about.” Talia inputs, passionately.
“That’s a great idea!” I reply, loving the idea. I have always wanted to dress up in formal attire for something that isn’t Prom.
Talia smiles and continues to lay out her plan. I can tell everyone is going to love this idea.
We make it to English where Talia parts ways with me.
My lesson flies by and before I know it, I’m heading towards my art lesson with a spring in my step. A smile is etched on my face and there’s a tingly sensation in my veins. It’s only when I come face to face with Arlo that I realize I was excited to see him.
And by the looks of things, he is feeling the same way as well. His sour mood vanishes and is replaced with smiles and rainbows.
Arlo’s eyes sparkle at the sight of me. I slide into my seat and turn to face him. Our talk earlier bounces in my head, reminding me I need to give him an answer.
“Hi,” I greet, sounding breathless.
Arlo smiles back, his eyes scanning my entire face. I blush and tuck a strand of my blonde hair behind my ear. His eyes narrow in on the action, watching it intensely.
“I have something to show you,” Arlo announces, placing a large canvas on the table. I immediately stare at it, my brain telling me what it is. “I wanted you to see it before I gave it to the teacher.”
My heart is hammering in my chest as I glance up at him, nervously.
“Is that your art piece?” I ask him, peering up at him through my lashes.
He nods his head, pulling the cover off. Carefully, he turns the picture around so it’s the right way up and slides it over to me. My eyes drink in everything about it; I mentally store it in my memory.
The girl in the picture looks flawless on the outside but on the inside, there’s something hidden. Her flaws.
I spent what felt like an eternity staring at the painting of me, wondering how on earth Arlo could have seen me this way. My eyes in the photo are what draws me in though. There is so much sadness, guilt swirling in there, begging to be let go. For a moment, I’m stunned.
Then, I catch a glimpse of something in the background. A silhouette of something—a wolf. My eyebrows knit together in confusion and I glance at Arlo, silently asking him why he put that in there.
Arlo awkwardly clears his throat and rubs the back of his neck. “Um…I added it last night after our talk. The wolf reminds me of the horrible things I said to you—words I didn’t mean.”
I swallow the lump in my throat. The topic I have been avoiding has been brought back to the table.
Arlo’s eyes plead with mine—he wants to talk to me about it, but I don’t know if I can. I need more time to think.
Snapping my eyes away from his, I focus my attention back to the picture of me. This version of me is the new me—the girl who let her parents die, who lost her boyfriend and all of her friends.
The old me would be smiling in this photo, with stars in her eyes. If Arlo was to paint my picture a year ago, I would have been so carefree and naïve. Since losing my parents, boyfriend and friends, I’ve come to realize how harsh the real world is. The real world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, it’s harsh and unfair. It’s cruel yet it’s still beautiful. I lost people who are close to me, who are irreplaceable but at the same time, I met some amazing new people.
“You did an amazing job on this,” I tell him, honestly. “You have a real talent.”
I can feel Arlo’s eyes on me. They scorch into my body, taking in every detail about me. He’s begging me silently, wanting to know my answer.
But I have so many questions. I want to know why he suddenly changed his mind. What about Talia? He has been in love with Talia for such a long time now. You don’t forget something like that. You don’t move on overnight.
I don’t want to be his second choice. I’m not that girl. I refuse to be that girl with him.
“So, Talia and I are going to help plan the dance.” I cut him off, forcing myself to sound cheerful. I glance back at him briefly and note the disappointment on his handsome face. Guilt swarms through my body and my heart stings painfully.
Arlo’s face morphs into one of confusion. He schools his features and shifts in his seat. “I thought you had too much to do.”
I shrug my shoulders and glance back at the picture. The old me would have gone for it and whilst I’m a different person, some parts of the old Lily still lingers in me. “Well, I changed my mind.”
“Oh,” He blinks and drops the subject.
At that moment, the art teacher, Ms Farris, waltzes into the class with a bright smile on her face. I have never seen her so happy before, it’s worrying.
“Right class, since your assignment is over, I want to start a new one with you. Instead of painting a portrait of your partner, I want you to do one of yourself. I want you to see yourself for how you are and accept it.” She announces, staring at all of us.
Arlo leans into me, causing sparks to bounce off us. “Is it me or do you feel like this is turning into a self-esteem task?”
The corners of my lips turn upwards, “Definitely.”
Arlo chuckles quietly and sits up straighter, wiping the smile off his face.
Ms Farris begins handing out sheets, explaining what we have to do in more detail. Once she’s done, she claps her hands excitedly. “Okay, crack on guys.”
I have always wondered what her teaching methods are. Ms Figgins likes to be laid back, letting her students do everything. I have attended all of her lessons and have never seen her actually teach us something.
I’m so deep in my thoughts, I don’t notice that the seat next to me is now empty until I hear Ms Farris gushing about something. My eyes flicker towards her, only to discover she is staring at Arlo’s painting in admiration.
A smile automatically falls on my face at the sight. Arlo has a real talent and I know Ms. Figgins can see that.
“This is a masterpiece, Arlo,” She says in awe. “Thank you.”
Arlo nods his head and heads back over to us. He doesn’t say anything, he doesn’t need to. I already know how he’s feeling about it.
It’s funny how I don’t need to ask Arlo how he’s feeling about it. We have this unbreakable connection that is undeniable and hard to resist. I know Arlo feels the same way, especially now.
So, I do something I know I’m going to regret. I give him a second chance.
“I’ll go on a date with you,” I blurt out before I can second guess myself. Arlo whips his head in my direction, stunned. He regards me with wide eyes and parted lips. “But I want to take things slow. You hurt me and I’m not over that yet.”
He frantically nods his head. “I understand completely. Thank you, Lily. I really mean it. You won’t regret it.”
I might not now but I know I will later.
I hope everyone had a great Halloween and I hope you all enjoyed this chapter! I know it wasn't the most eventful...
Anyways the next chapter will be up on Monday. It will be in Arlo's POV.