Hating Arlo #1 ✔️

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Chapter 23

Lily’s POV

It’s currently Friday night and I’m sat in my bedroom alone. This week has been crazy, to put it simply. I’ve been spending a lot of time with Arlo, getting to know him better. On top of that, Talia and I have been planning the school dance and Kacey has been acting strangely. Every time I try to talk to her, she sends me a cold and harsh glare.

I haven’t had a break all week. I’ve been studying, planning and socializing. So, tonight is my night. Trinity disappeared a few hours ago, wearing small and skimpy clothing. I doubt I’ll see her tonight.

I’m halfway through a Netflix film, comfortable and relaxed when someone knocks on my door. Groaning at the thought of getting out of my warm bed, I begrudgingly slide out of bed and head over to the door.

“Hello?” I greet, swinging the door open. Arlo stands on the other side of the door, with a charming smile on his face. My heart starts to pound on my chest and I quickly gaze down at my outfit. I internally wince at the sight of my sweatpants and a baggy top. Embarrassment floods through my veins, wishing I could shut the door on Arlo’s face and pick out new clothes.

Arlo doesn’t seem to be bothered by my attire though. He regards me with his usual look, those beautiful brown eyes sparkle with adoration and possible—though I doubt it—love. But I highly doubt that’s true, his views on me changed recently.

“Can I come in?” Arlo asks me, uncertainly.

I nod my head and move aside, allowing him to enter my humble abode. Arlo’s eyes circulate around my room, drinking in every single detail. Obvious distaste shines in his eyes when his eyes reach Trinity’s side of the room. It appears I’m not the only one who doesn’t like Trinity.

“Am I interrupting anything?” Arlo questions me, his eyes lingering on my laptop and messed up bed.

Quickly I shake my head and shut the door. “No, no you’re not.”

Arlo takes a seat on the edge of my bed and mulls over his thoughts for a minute. “Then do you mind if I spend some time with you?”

My heart leaps at his words.

Trying to remain cool and collected, I pinch my lips together and nod my head. The last thing I want Arlo to think is that I’m desperate. “Sure.”

“Good because I have way too much food in here,” He claims, lifting up the picnic basket he’s holding. I didn’t even realize he had that in his hand, my mind was too focused on Arlo.

Automatically, a smile stretches onto my face. Arlo stands up and sits down on my floor, his back against my bed. He pats the seat next to me, expecting me to sit next to him. Which I do without hesitation.

Arlo begins to take the food out of the picnic box, causing my eyes to widen in shock. There are sandwiches to grapes to crisps and all kinds of chocolates. There’s way too much food here. Arlo notices my widened and eyes and parted lips and chuckles.

“Don’t worry, I don’t expect you to eat all of this. I’m going to give some of it to Talia and Arden.” He explains, easing my worries. I love food, don’t get me wrong, but like some people, I do worry about my weight.

As I dig into some of the delicious grapes, Arlo searches through a playlist on his phone. His phone blasts Old Town Road.

“Have you found your outfit yet for the dance?” Arlo asks me as he munches on a sandwich.

I shake my head, ignoring the anxiety that pours through my body. I need to do some shopping with Talia—I’m worried that I’m not going to find something suitable for the dance. There’s only one clothes shop in the town next to this school and apparently, they don’t sell a lot of modern clothing. I can’t return home because of school so I have no choice but to go to the shop. Fortunately for Talia, her parents live close to here, so they are dropping off one of the many dresses she has.

“No, not yet. Hopefully, I will have something tomorrow.” I reply, hoping Talia can fit a trip to the town in her busy schedule. “Have you been to the town before?”

I think Arlo lives around here like Talia but I’m not sure. He spent the week off with Talia and Cabe, but I don’t know if they live a few towns away or not.

“Yeah, I’ve lived here my whole life.” He replies. “My family has been here for generations and it will probably be like that for a long time.”

I frown at his answer. Sure, some families do stay in one place, but I feel as if there’s more to it then just wanting to live in the same house or town. “So, your family have lived in the same place? Like all of them?”

Arlo nods his head. The song changes to something slower and more emotional. I pay no attention to it though; my mind is thinking over what he said. “Why?”

Arlo shrugs his shoulders and takes a sip of his beer. Apparently, he brought it with him. Noticing my eyes on it, he offers me a bottle. I politely decline, internally cringing at the memory of the last time I had alcohol.

“The Gold family aren’t movers. We are big on staying with your roots and all that. I will probably stay here for the rest of my life.”

The frown on my face deepens. “Don’t you have a choice?”

Arlo puffs his cheeks out and blows out a long, tired breath. “Of course, I do.”

I can detect the lie in his voice easily. Arlo Gold can be a good liar at times but right now, he isn’t. I’m not sure why though.

“What are your family like?” I continue with the questions, wanting to find out as much as possible.

“My family…my family are all about teamwork. They believe in trust and respect a great deal. We are always there for each other and we protect one another with our lives.” He says, speaking as if his mind is somewhere else. “I love my family but I can’t help but resent them for mapping my whole life out.”

His beautiful face contorts into one of irritation. His pink lips pucker out and his eyebrows knit together.

“Why don’t you just tell them how you feel?” I suggest, resting my hand on top of his. His eyes flicker to mine and the darkness in them begins to vanish, replaced with lightness.

He shakes his head and laughs bitterly at my suggestion. “As if it was that easy.” Arlo snorts and takes a swig of his beer.

My fingers begin to draw circles on his soft hand, comforting him the only way I know how right now. I have never been brilliant at giving advice to people—usually, I’m the one needing advice. Now that the tables have turned, I have no idea what to say. Sometimes, actions speak louder than words, and that’s exactly what I’m hoping will work right now.

We sit in silence, enjoying each other’s presence for a few minutes. I love the fact I don’t always have to speak to Arlo to know what he’s thinking. Sometimes, it’s nice to just stop talking and enjoy the blissful moment. I pray I get more moments like this with Arlo.

However, my guts believes that there won’t be many more moments like this.

The following day, I end up going to the local town by myself. Apparently, Talia and Arden had planned a day to themselves since they haven’t spent a lot of time together. Whilst I feel a bit disappointed about it, I can’t hate them for it. Talia and I have been planning a lot this week, plus we have had a lot of schoolwork. They deserve a day together.

The small bus that runs once every two hours is packed with old people and students. The heavy smell of sweat and perfume mixed together makes my nose crinkle in disgust. My fingers glide along my phone in my pocket as I search for the volume button, desperately wanting to turn up my music. I can’t stand the sound of the chatting, excited students as they blabber on about things.

I watch the beautiful scenery pass me by, trying my best to ignore my surroundings. It takes a good hour to reach the village. When my feet step on the cobbled floor, I can’t help but want to kiss the ground. If I spent another minute in there, I would have screamed.

My eyes float the small village, drinking in the mini café to close to the bus stop and the little shops. I must admit this town is cute and would be the perfect place to retire if it wasn’t for the insensitive teenagers hollering and messing around. Quite a few elderly people give a group of year 10’s the stink eye.

My feet move on their own accord. As I pass the bakery, my nose is filled with the smell of fresh bread. Embarrassingly, my stomach rumbles. I should really get some food…

Just as I’m about to turn around and head back to the café I saw by the bus stop, I spot the clothes shop Talia was telling me about.

A few girls exit the shop, giggling whilst carrying a bag full of clothing. I move aside as I walk past them and swing the door open. A bell dings as I step in, alerting the staff of my entrance. Compared to most shops here, the store is fairly big.

A short, middle-aged woman pops her head around a clothing rack and sends me a bright, alluring smile. Her brown hair that is beginning to have thin out is pulled back in a loose ponytail and her chocolate brown eyes shine with kindness.

“Hello,” She greets me in a soft, sweet voice. Something about her feels familiar, although I’m not sure what. “Welcome to the only clothes shop in this village.” She jokes, walking around the counter to come over to me. It’s then that I realize I’m the only person in this shop.

“Hi,” I reply, feeling awkward all of a sudden. My stomach churns and my heart rate begins to increase. “Uh…do you have any dresses here? Dresses that are appropriate for a school dance?”

The lady, who is a few inches taller than me, stops in front of me. Despite the fact she’s wearing a simple blouse and pair of jeans, she manages to pull off the outfit pretty well. She looks very pretty for her age.

“We do actually, let me show you.”

I follow her to the back of the store where there are several party outfits.

“Wow,” I gasp, gawking at the gorgeous dresses. When Talia told me this was the only clothing shop in the town, I thought they would sell simple clothes. I was hesitant to believe they would have party outfits.

The woman chuckles beside me. “I guess you like them.”

I nod my head and step forwards. I stretch my arm out to the nearest dress and stroke it. “They are beautiful,” I whisper to her, truthfully.

I can feel her eyes on my face, examining me. It’s almost as if she’s trying to work out if she knows me too.

“Do you need a hand picking one out?” She asks me, politely.

“Yes, please.”

Together, we begin to search through the rack, looking at all the dresses. We talk as we search; I tell her what I’m looking for and why I need one. As time passes, I feel more at ease around her and begin to open up to her.

I discover her name is Alita and that she works part-time here to get out of the house. She has two sons who attend the school I do, who she misses a lot.

As I’m trying on dresses, a pang of happiness hits my heart. Whilst I should be doing something like this with my mother, I’m happy I’m doing it with this woman Alita. She’s very welcoming and she reminds me of my mother. Even though we just met, I feel as though I can tell Alita anything.

I exit the changing room, in the first dress. Alita is sat on the chair opposite the changing room, with an excited expression on her face.

The dress I’m wearing is satin read and falls down to my ankles. Whilst it flaunts all of my curves, it feels very tight around my chest area. I don’t feel comfortable showing off so much skin in the upper half of my body.

“Honey, you look wonderful in it.” Alita compliments me. “But does it call to you?”

I shake my head, pursing my lips together. I face the mirror to my left and stare at my reflection. It’s a pretty dress but it isn’t my type.

“Well then, we better move onto the next one,” Alita says, flashing me a grin. I return it and step back into the changing room.

For forty-five minutes, we go through dress after dress. Whilst they are all beautiful dresses, none of them screams to me. I’m about to give up as I strut out in a navy dress when I catch sight of a gold dress, hidden away on a rack far from the other dresses.

Alita’s eyes follow my line of sight. She turns back to me and smirks. “I’ll go and get it for you.”

The dress falls down to the floor. It fits perfectly when I put it on, showing off a little bit of cleverage but not too much. Whilst it isn’t as tight as most of the other dresses, it does flaunt off my curves.

I know it’s the dress for me. It’s a classy and elegant dress, perfect for the school dance.

Alita gasps when I step out of the changing room. She rises to her feet and comes over to me. She delicately places a hand on my shoulder whilst the other one brings all of my hair to one side, leaving my bare back exposed.

“You look stunning, honey,” She states, matter of factly. My cheeks burn a dark colour, my bashfulness coming into play again. I don’t get compliments very often so when I do, they are weird to hear. “You are going to blow them away when they see you.”

Whilst I doubt she’s right, I still feel buzzed about the dance.

“Thank you so much for helping me out today. I don’t know what I would have done without you,” I thank her, sincerely. Without Alita, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to try on loads of dresses which would have meant I wouldn’t have found this dress. She also made me feel special and beautiful.

She really does remind me of my mother. The hurt I usually feel at the thought of my parents doesn’t appear as severely as it usually does. Sure, I only met this woman an hour ago, but we have a connection.

“You’re very welcome dear,” She says, her brown eyes shimmering with happiness. “I always wanted to do something like this, but I never had a daughter. So really I should be thanking you.”

Her smile is infectious—it causes me to smile widely back. So widely that my cheeks hurt from it.

After getting changed into my ordinary clothes, I hand Alita the dress. We make it over to the counter where she proceeds to punch in the price on the till.

My eyes nearly bulge out of their sockets when I get a look at the price.

“Alita, you don’t have to do—”

Alita cuts me off with a dismissive hand wave. Her brown eyes order me not to argue with her. “I want to do this, honey. Don’t worry about it.”

Reluctantly, I hand over the twenty-pound note. Guilt gnaws at my insides as I think about how this would look to an outsider. Alita has shown me nothing but kindness—I should repay the favour.

“Thank you so much, Alita. You have been too kind to me, I don’t deserve it.”

Alita pinches her lips together as she places my dress in a large bag. “Lily, I don’t want you to think like that. It was my choice to lower the price, not yours. And don’t you go thinking you owe me something missy, I can see that look in your eyes now. You have nothing to feel guilty about.”

Whilst a part of me is shocked she could read me so well, another part of me is elated that she said those things. The guilt doesn’t disappear, but it does die down.

“Your sons are very lucky to have you as a mother,” I say to her, honestly.

Her eyes shine with unshed tears as she takes in my very honest comment. I’m guessing she doesn’t hear things like that a lot.

I felt like telling her that because I never told my mother how much she meant to me. I never told her how amazing she was as a mother. So, telling Alita almost feels like I’m telling my mother.

As if she could sense there were so much meaning and emotion to my words, Alita glides around the counter carefully and pulls me in for a soothing, comforting hug. I force myself to hold in the tears and instead, bask in this lovely moment.

“You’re a lovely girl, Lily. I’m glad my son found you,” She murmurs. Her words cause confusion to spread all around my body. Slowly, I pull away from her and throw her a puzzled look.

“Wait, who is your son?” I ask her, stupidly. Deep down I know who her son is. It begins to make sense. The resemblance is uncanny. The reason she felt familiar is that I know her son very well. Her son being—

“Arlo Gold.”

Once again, thank you for the lovely comments and reviews! Please keep them coming! My next update will either be Tuesday or Wednesday. Until then, have a great weekend!

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