"Look how far we've come." (5)
When Nate cups my face, I step away from his touch. I chuckle and sniffle. “Nate, have you ever thought of Lacey?”
He looks at me, confused. He’s frowning, “my classmate Lacey Adams?”
I smile and nod. “Yeah, she’s pretty, don’t you think?”
“What are you trying to say, Mariana?” he says, looking away, embarrassed, and in a way, hurt.
Laughing, I shove him. “Mate, I know you’re really into Lacey, or perhaps, you haven’t really thought of it before? Or am I wrong? Or else, I’m mumbling like a fool.”
Now I finally hear myself admitting the truth that he and I will never be together, and instead of feeling my heart shattering into pieces, I feel at ease. One loss is enough. I can’t go through with that all over again. What is closed should remain closed, and I am happy with it.
His eyes widened, completely shocked. I cannot blame him. Nobody knew he liked her, except I am an awkward artist from the future and found out about it after the incident. Not even his closest friends knew about that. Now I can make a difference, at least to them. I want to give Nate and Lacey the time they truly deserve.
“Don’t waste your time with me. Go talk to Lacey,” I say, not regretting a word, urging him to go. “Besides, Ryan must be wondering where I am now. I don’t have my phone with me right now, you know.”
He opens his mouth, but no words come out, and when he collects his thoughts. “But I thought you like me,” he looks defeated. “Is it because of Ryan?”
My smile is sad, but I hope he doesn’t notice it. “Nate, I do. I fancied you since the day I saw you smiling when you heard I have a crush on you. But, it doesn’t feel right.”
“What do you mean by that?” he says, looking into my eyes, trying to convince me. “I like you, okay? I know it took me this long to admit it, but I do, really, like you,” curling my hair with his finger.
“I am glad to hear it, I swear!! But, it’s just the heat of the moments we had, Nate, tomorrow or when we meet again. I don’t know if you’d still like me. But, I know Lacey is the one you truly like,” I say, wiping my tears away. “Don’t make this harder for both of us,” I say, stepping back from him, giving him my best smile.
“It’s just out of nowhere, Mariana,” he says, running his hand on his hair. Then, my fear slowly shows up and overwhelms inside my heart, and I feel nothing at all. He bows his head and sighs. He looks back at me and smiles. His eyes light up even brighter than I have ever seen when he says, “Are you sure?”
I smile back. “Positive.”
“I just, um, can’t believe this.” He shyly scratches the back of his neck. “Was it obvious?”
Giggling, I shake my head. “No, you were great at hiding it,” I touched his arm. “I guess she’ll love this if you take her here.”
He laughs again. “Mariana, are you sure?”
I place a hand on my waist. “For what?” then I smirk, controlling my voice. “By making you push yourself to your possible love life? Cause I can be a terrific matchmaker!” He laughs once again, and I’m pretty sure this will be the last time I will hear it, so I savoured his voice. I breathe out. “Then, you’re welcome!”
He nods at me, and we descend the stairs. When we reach the landing, he gives me a tight hug. We stay like that for a few seconds before he opens the back door to the great hall. When we break free, I watch him head back to the party, searching for Lacey.
Before I rejoin my classmates and Ryan, the words that escape from my mouth as I watch Nate’s back walking away from me is “I’d rather have the floor break my fall than never being your friend at all.”
Realizing what I had just done, I swiftly walked to our table to get my clutch, not drawing much attention and not looking at anyone’s eyes. I head to the nearest powder room by the west wing to lock myself in, and here I burst out crying, letting it all out before I face the music.