"Look how far we've come." (3)
Suddenly, someone grabs my arm, pulling me to the sides. Just by the side of his frame and the uncertain way of his stance, I can already tell it is Nate.
He looks down at me, holding out his hand. “Come with me. I found something I want to show you.”
I glance back at Ryan and my friends, but they all seem to be preoccupied. They won’t miss me that much so I smile at Nate and nod. I let him pull me towards the back door leading to one of the secluded courtyards of the faculty and staff’s lounge. I feel my heart beating with anticipation as Nate leads me to another world, pulling me away from this one, where everyone’s eyes can judge our every single move. He looks over his shoulder to smile at me again. It’s clear to see he is as thrilled as me.
When we reach the outside, the crisp night breeze whips through my body as he opens the door leading to the courtyard. He shuts it behind him, and the loud music turns down a bit. There’s another fountain in the centre, and I sit on it. I look at the dark sky above me and find it quite tough to observe the stars from here because of the lights from the great hall. But I don’t mind as long as Nate’s here with me.
His footsteps echo as he walks to me. The air fills with his laughter as he pulls out a torch from his pocket. “We’re not technically there yet, but we’re close.”
I raise an eyebrow as I watch him turn his torch on, “But —”
“No buts,” he says and points the light at the open wall that has a spiral staircase.
“Here’s the thing Nate,” I deeply inhale and exhale as I confide in him, “I’m not a fan of heights, to be honest.”
He envelopes his strong hand in mine and says, “Then you’ve got to trust me.”
I longed for this moment, like literally. Nate helps me stand up and holds my hand. He points the torch on the pathway, and we ascend the dark staircase. I wasn’t adventurous, so I have no idea about this place where he wants to take me; this school is enormous, just saying. As we reach the top, he opens a door into a small attic. We crouch a little in the chilly, spooky room. Sensing my discomfort, he lets go of my hand to pull me closer to him, rubbing my forearm. He opens another door that hopefully leads to the place he wants to show me. He turns his torch off, and my eyes adjust in the darkness.
It is quite a spacious balcony on the roof of the great hall. I move closer to the large circular glass-stained window and see the highly lit great hall below. Surprisingly, I can still hear the music very faintly. Unfortunately, I can’t make out which song is playing, but I have a feeling they are now playing songs from the ’60s and the ’70s; Marvin Gaye, perhaps, or Aretha Franklin.
Nate moves somewhere, and I hear a click. I turn around and what lies in front of me leaves me stunned. I look at him in awe. He proudly smiles as if he knows this is my dream date. Or, perhaps, I’m just like any other girls who like fairy lights, so tiny they look like pixie dust glistening all around and full-bloom, gorgeous autumn flowers draping all over the railings.
I watch him set down the wool blanket on the floor near a wall and straighten out the creases. When he’s satisfied, he walks to me, “do you like it?” He studies my face and leans closer to me. His face illuminated from the glow of the great hall.
I look up at him. “How did you know?”
But instead of answering, he just smiles as he cracks open the window. The distant music below echoes louder for a bit (I think it’s Bee Gees’ ’Too Much Heaven’), and I gasp. Nate moves to the centre and holds out his hand. “Don’t forget you promised me a dance, Mariana.”
I feel the blood on my cheeks. I smile shyly, hoping Nate hasn’t noticed my red face, and let him pull my hands to wrap around his neck. He then slithers his hands around my waist, and the goose pimples crawl across my skin. Drowned in the pixie dust and starry sky, we slowly sway to the soft music in the background.
“Oh!” he gasps. “I don’t know if you remember this but, back when I was in 6th grade, there was a school workshop.”
I giggle, “I think I do. So what happened?”
He shrugs a little, “my younger sister, Thalia. She was also in that workshop, and I remember you when you sang the theme song from the movie Titanic.”
My eyes widened. “Oh! Yes, I remember. Was your sister with curly brown hair always wearing pigtails?”
I feel his laughter in my arms. “Yes, that was my sister!”
“I used to carry her on my back!” I reminisce. “She was so adorable! How is she? I hope she still remembers me. I think she was just seven or eight then.”
He nods. “She does. Remember when I texted you I had to take care of something back home, Thalia was having a bit of a fit because she was looking through the pictures of that workshop, and then she pointed at you, she demanded…”
I giggle at how animated he talks right now.
“…To get to know you, and I told Thalia she should speak to you herself.”
I laugh. “Aww, poor little Thalia. You’re such a mean brother!” I tease and hit him lightly. “I remember that workshop. It was the very first time I had a standing ovation. The sensation was indescribable,” I couldn’t help but smile at the memory of the pumping adrenaline.
Nate watches me with amusement. I quickly look away from him and rest my head on his chest, and he gets comfortable in my arms. We stay silent after that, and when the music stops playing, so do we. We break free from each other, and then he leads me to the blanket he laid.
“Come so we can gaze at the stars,” he says and helps me to sit down.
He positions himself next to me and unfolds another blanket. He places it over our shoulders, his arm resting around me. I’m so close to him; his vanilla and rose scent intoxicates my senses. I couldn’t get enough of him. I lay my head on the crook of his neck, feeling his warmth. The only other guy who made me feel safe and thrilled was Jace, and I thank God, or fate, or the soul in my journal for giving me another chance to be here — to be with Nate.