Chapter Nineteen - Amber’s Advice
Chapter Nineteen - Amber’s Advice
~Chapter Nineteen - Amber’s Advice~
Matt wasn’t at school on Monday. Or, if he was, I certainly didn’t see him.
Annie talked to me, but she seemed distant. Great, she was taking Matt’s side in this. I felt alone without my friends to talk to, especially Annie, the one person I thought would understand me and what I was going through.
I briefly wondered if she knew of Matt’s feelings towards me - it was still too weird to think about - but I didn’t dare ask her.
All in all, I was having an admittedly crappy day.
Thankfully Cole didn’t harass me too much. I don’t know whether he just sensed that I wasn’t in the mood for his playful bickering or whether he was embarrassed about our near-kiss the night before - for a girl who had never before been kissed in her life, I sure was pretty popular in the kissing department last night - or maybe it was something else completely.
Whatever it was, I was blissfully free of his company for the day.
After I had watched Matt’s car disappear, I had stood out in the pouring rain for two minutes before my mother came out to fetch me. I then spent the next two hours crying into her shoulder and assessing my feelings towards both Cole and Matt. It was so confusing. I had two cute boys, and my feelings towards them were torn, my heart broken completely in half.
I still didn’t know which one I loved.
Cole was the Bad Boy, handsome, with a hidden, soft side he concealed from everyone else but me.
But Matt was my best friend, sweet and loyal, and I trusted him completely. I would jump in front of a gun for him with no regrets, and I knew he would do the same. At least, I thought I knew he would.
I couldn’t decide who I loved. My thoughts were just this jumbled mass of confusion.
By the time I got to work that afternoon, my head was throbbing, I was lethargic from sleep deprivation, and I could barely string two sentences together without sounding like I was drunk. The only reason I really came instead of calling a sick day, was because I really needed to talk things out with the friend who was actually speaking to me.
As soon as I stepped into the familiar cafe, I spotted her, her slim figure darting around the tables, cleaning seats and tables and conversing with customers.
I tapped her on the shoulder when I reached her, and she spun around expectantly. “Oh, Grace, it’s you.” She looked confused. “What are you doing here? Your shift doesn’t start for another half an hour. Were you scheduled in earlier?”
I took a deep breath. “Um, no. I’m early because… Look, have you taken your break yet?”
“I was planning on taking it in five minutes. Why?”
“Is there any chance you could take it now, please? I really need to talk to you. You’re the only one I can really talk to.”
One good thing about Amber is whenever you need help, the whole world stops and she’ll be there for you in a heartbeat. She nodded, wiped her hands on her apron and called out to Maggie that she was clocking in her coffe break out the back room.
We moved into the Employee’s Only Room and we sat side-by-side on a red velvet loveseat.
“Now, you wanna tell Auntie Amber what’s wrong?” she asked, clapping er hands on her knees and turning towards me with raised eyebrows.
I smiled. “You’re basically the only friend who’s willing to talk to me now,” I admitted sadly.
“I think I screwed things up, Amber. Majorly.” I quickly explained the situation. Amber listened without interrupting once. I have no idea how long it took, but I did a whole lot of ranting and rambling. When I was done venting, I took a deep breath and looked into her bright green eyes.
She looked taken aback. “You mean you didn’t know Matt liked you?”
“Well - ” My jaw dropped as I processed her words. “Wait, what?! You mean… you knew?!”
She scoffed and flipped her hair over her shoulder. “Everyone knows, Grace. He’s made it obvious enough.” She might as well have added a ‘duh’ onto the end of it.
“That’s exactly what Matt said,” I admitted quietly, blushing.
“You’d be blind not to see the way he looks at you when he knows you’re not paying attention. He looks at you like…” she trailed off as she searched for the right words. “He looks at you like you’re the center of the universe. Like he’s in a dark room, and you’re this shining light. Like you’re the only one he sees.”
Her words flew back to me from a couple weeks ago: “What does Matt think about this?”
At the time I had been puzzled by her words, but now it made sense. Was it really obvious and I was just too oblivious to see it?
I hung my head. “Why didn’t he say anything earlier, Amber? He’s had two years.”
“Maybe he was afraid of what you’d say. Maybe he didn’t wanna risk the heartbreak of having you reject him,” she suggested. “Maybe he doesn’t wanna have his heart broken.”
“I wish he’d said something sooner. Maybe things wouldn’t be like this.” I shook my head gently, downcasting my eyes and creating a curtain between us with my hair, trying to hide the blush.
“Are you sure? If he spoke up, would you have told him you loved him back? Or would you have broken his heart?”
“I don’t know, Amber. I just wish… I mean, some forewarning would have been nice. Maybe then I wouldn’t have stood there like an idiot as he walked away.”
“Forewarning? How much more forewarning do you need? For the past two years he’s been making googly-eyes at you. Everyone knows how he feels. Everyone just assumed you knew and didn’t feel the same way. That you were trying to let him down gently by pretending you didn’t know.”
“Except I really didn’t know,” I pointed out slowly.
She threw me a wry smile. “You’re way too naive for your own good, Holland.” She ruffled my hair, but I smacked it away playfully.
“I just don’t know what to do about Matt and Cole…”
“Oh, right, speaking of Cole, I’ve been meaning to ask you about him.”
I narrowed my eyes suspiciously. “What about him?”
“Have there been any new developments with him? Has he started paying attention during tutoring?” Amber asked.
I shook my head with a rueful smile. “Nope.” I popped the ‘p’. “He still hasn’t been paying attention. But the strangest thing is… he doesn’t even seem like he needs to. He still seems… intelligent.”
“Are you sure he really needs the tutoring?”
“Well, no,” I admitted, looking down at my hands. “I mean, I thought he did, but he never pays attention, and he seems to be going okay in English class without my help… but what if he really does need it?”
“Well, maybe you should find out if he really does need it.” Her eyes glittered with an unidentifiable emotion.
I ran a hand through my blond curls. “Yeah, but how?”
“It just so happens that your wonderful Auntie Amber a plan.”
I leant forward in anticipation. “Please, tell me more.”
The next afternoon, Cole and I set up our tutoring session in the park adjacent to the school.
I looked around the car-park as more students filtered through the doors and towards their cars. Cole came bounding out with a bunch of friends, but he didn’t seem to notice me yet - thankfully.
“Hey, Cole, we’re going out for pizza. Wanna go?” I recognised the boy as one of Matt and Cole’s friends, Jarred.
“Can’t, dude. Sorry,” Cole responded, shaking his head lightly. “I’ve got a date.”
I furrowed my brow. He had a date? I hoped he hadn’t forgotten our tutoring session today. Or was he planning to blow me off to go out with her? Unless he was just embarrassed to admit he had tutoring with me. When it came to Cole, it could be any of those things. My heart constricted as I considered the possibility that maybe he had a date. I couldn’t deny the fact that I was a little jealous.
One guy wolf-whistled. “Who’s the lucky lady? Is it that Grace chick? You’ve been spending a lot of time with her lately.”
I blushed at the mention of my name.
“Nah, dude. It’s not Grace,” Cole replied.
“Why not? Come on, dude, she’s pretty hot. And she’s got that hippie vibe to her. I thought you’d be all over that.”
“It’s not her,” he repeated, a little sharply. “It’s someone else. I gotta go. Catch ya later!”
I had been so caught up in their conversation I had completely forgotten what I was supposed to be doing.
I pulled out my phone and quickly typed Cole a message: ‘I’ll be a few minutes late. Be there as soon as I can.’
‘No problem,’ was the reply I got ten seconds later. I frowned at the phone. So had he forgotten the tutoring session, or was he just lying to his friends? I was thinking the latter.
I looked around the school one last time, checking that the coast was clear, before stepping inside the school building.
I hoped Cole didn’t leave before I got there. I would be with him as soon as I could.
But first, I had something I needed to do.