"I'm frozen." (3)
This time at lunch, Ros is with April and me. After we grab what we wanted to eat, we sit at our usual table and talk about anything, the usual stuff we do. As we eat, April tells us the films she watched last night, about the manga she’s currently reading and what she’s planning on wearing for tomorrow. She tells us the details of her dress and what kind of hairdo she will be doing, even though she already mentioned this to me while we were in the shed earlier. She’s just exuberant over everything; it’s contagious, really. I’m not lying.
When April stops to catch her breath and sip a drink, Ros updates us about the progress of our homeroom, and then April opens up (again, for the fifth time today, lol) what was going on with her and Andrew, which, of course, made Ros blush, again. I let them talk, hoping April won’t remember what she wanted to know about last night. It’s going well when I finish my hamburger, not until I start on my parfait —
“Candyman number one stepping in the premises,” announces Ros, giggling and giving me a side-eye before looking back at him. “Strutting and showing off his blinding killer smile!”
The two laugh. I shake my head because April and Ros are making a big deal out of it like they are participants in a pageant these two invented. As if one of the boys is going to win from this. Ryan Kaufman is Candyman number one, Nate Turner Candyman number two, and Candyman number three is Chandler Hayes.
“You’re in a good mood today,” I declare, and Ros reddens.
“Hey guys, look! What do you think he’s holding behind his back?” April wonders, following his movements, and then her eyes widen larger this time. She faces me, “oh, my gosh, which reminds me!”
I press my hand on my forehead and groan. “Oh, here we go.”
“What happened!?!” she continues, saying the words fiercely.
I hesitate when I see Ryan heading towards our table; I might as well keep it to myself for a while. I don’t think Ryan knows about what happened last night: me hanging out with his best friend without his knowledge. I think he doesn’t know. Nate must have said nothing to him yet.
April fills Ros in, and then Ros whispers to her, “What do you mean, it wasn’t with Ryan!?”
As he gets closer, April answers, a bit fast and in a hush manner, “I’m not sure either, but surely, Mari will tell —”
“What’s up, ladies?” Ryan greets merrily, beaming, and then leans on the table.
The two quiet down and try to fight their giggles. April waves, “Hey, Ryan!” Amused, Ryan returns the greeting and flashes them his smile, making their squeals and giggles even harder to control.
I smirk, scooping my dessert onto my teaspoon. “Nothing much, yours?” and lick it while my eyelashes flutter up as I gaze at Ryan.
He slightly bites the lower part of his voluptuous lips as his cool-grey eyes glint at mine. His sudden action sent fire to my core, and I feel my feelings for him fighting their way back to my heart. He says, “I was wondering if I can make it up to you later, say, after school?”
When I look at the two, they are bobbing their heads, “duh?”
“Er, I guess?” I say with a shrug, ignoring the strong feelings toward him coursing throughout my whole body.
“Cool!” he says, and I notice that his other hand is still behind his back. “You girls are welcome too!”
April shakes her head at him and then waves her hand while saying, “oh no! You two are going on a date!”
Ros agrees. “We don’t want to intrude on whatever you guys are planning to do, so go ahead, just the two of you.”
Ryan laughs as if angels are sighing because literally April and Ros are smitten. “Come on, the more, the merrier! It’s a party by the beach! It will be fun!”
“Oh!” Ros gasps. “With all of the preparation for tomorrow, I forgot about the party tonight hosted by our student body VP, Ian Pérez!”
“Alright, we’ll definitely go,” says April, and then she whispers to Ros, “Besides, Gabriel might be there!”
“Actually, I heard the party would be on a yacht,” Ros says matter-of-factly. “Or, that’s where the ‘V.I.P.s’ will be, I mean, it’s what I think.”
I laugh and shake my head.
“Here, these are for you, my dear.” Ryan’s hand that was behind his back is now in front of us. He is holding out this gorgeous bouquet of arranged gardenias to me, and the way he is looking at me makes me think that he cares about what I feel and think. It seems like he’s longing to delight me. I feel his energy from his smile as he says, “Thanks to the Botany Club! Er, I, uh, hope you like them.”
Ros gasps and says, “They’re so beautiful!”
When I look at the flowers, I accept them, smile, and say thanks. But, as soon as Ryan’s hand touches mine, in an instant, I suddenly have a flashback. My head begins to spin with excruciating pain as forgotten sights, smells and sounds rush through my mind. There was a series of memories filled with laughter, screams and tears, swirling fast inside my brain. Then the memory of a buried past that, I suppose, I avoid the most burns to a stop: a crooked smile.
Odd, he had held my hand earlier, but why am I having this now?
The sound of Ryan’s voice is muffled at first until I come back to my senses. “Hey, I’ve been calling your name a few times. Are you alright, Mari?” He asks, and I feel his hand resting on my shoulder. I could feel his warmth despite the blazer I am wearing, giving me affirmation in which he is well affected by my sudden stupor.