Chapter 16 - In Truth
CHAPTER 16 - IN TRUTH
So ... Eric and Dana. I'll admit that while I was surprised in the beginning, now ... mmh, not really. With his reputation and her being so mean, they're perfect together. Yes, they definitely are made to be together. Although, truth to be told, as for being mean, I don't think he reaches her levels. Well, not with me at least. I mean, not ... for me, uh ... duh, you get it. I have direct experience of both, and while all she's ever been to me was mean, he ... well, despite the glaring beginning, he wasn't too bad. Freaked me out with his words and acts, yes, but not bad.
You can imagine I've been pondering over what I overheard all day, well, since I left school and got to work at least, where I still was, bored, cleaning up tables in a dull Monday afternoon because people to serve, there weren't any, apart from the few usual ones. I guess it's exactly because it's Monday that it's this calm.
Odd enough, I couldn't help but reminisce that just a week ago, I spent my Monday afternoon trying not to squirm underneath Eric's intense gaze while we worked on our project. I shouldn't even think about it. I mean, what does that mean? I also spent an afternoon at the library with Kyle, and lunch chatting with him, just like evenings ... and yet, yet those are not as stuck in my mind as those moments alone with Eric are.
Like Saturday at my place. It was ... peaceful. Not that we joked or chatted playfully, he was serious all the time, explaining over and over again those Math rules that don't seem to fit in my mind. I guess it goes with being a book nerd. Loving literature and humanistic subjects means hating and being a slouch at the scientific ones. Although, I am not too bad at Biology. Except for that time when the teacher wanted us to vivisect a poor frog and I threw up in the middle of the class when my partner opened up the poor creature's intestines.
Reaching the counter to ask Fran if there was anything else I should do, considering I had already cleaned up all the table, she grinned, starting to tell me I could take a break or even the day off if I wanted to, but stopped mid-sentence to tell me there was actually a new client. I turned around and ... great. Just great. Never once was he here before I took him, and now he frequents it so voluntarily.
I sighed inaudibly, just not to let Fran think there was something wrong with me, but for being an old lady, my boss has an incredible memory, in fact ... "Isn't that your cute friend from last time? Why don't you go greet him?"
I rolled my eyes and sighed once more, giving up on any attempt at retorting that Eric wasn't my friend, even though I was glad she didn't imply he was even more than that. So, gathered up some courage, just as he'd sat down in the same corner booth of last time, I gulped down my fears and walked to him.
It's odd, you know. More than fearing his angry fits, now I feared just facing him, afraid that dream would come to my mind at the less opportune moment. But unconsciously I also glanced at the door, just to see if there was a particular girl to arrive after him and join him. Dana, of course. But obviously, if they were hiding in the janitor's room, they want to keep it secret, therefore they're gonna be careful not to be seen together, maybe even act like they loathed each other. Then again, it's none of my business, is it? Although I do wonder why did she warn me about keeping away from Kyle if she already was with Eric.
"Hi, I'm Natalie. What can I get you?" Don't ask me why I gave him my standard phrase for clients, it just came out of itself. But that was just about the most amount of courage I had been able to muster, so there was no way I could make up a real conversation, which I guess I wouldn't have to worry about, considering he's not much of a talker.
When he looked up at me and I met his icy blue eyes, all my courage melted and all that remained was poor little Natalie's heart racing like a fool because, damn, had I forgotten how intense that gaze is! But in a different way this time, because ... well, because his stern look held a very light hint of softness, I mean, his features, despite being pulled in an almost scowling expression, were softer than usual, like that was his standard look but he didn't want to be so stern with ... me. I was definitely hallucinating, wasn't I?
I didn't fail to notice that he'd taken off his grey hoodie just as he'd sat down, and neither did the girls sitting across from him, just beside the door, because I swear I heard them squeal just as he did so. No wonder. Without the hoodie, even though his dark green t-shirt was of a size bigger, it still clung to his lean muscles like a second skin, exposing that hard chest and those strong arms for the womankind's pleasure.
A pleasure, I'll admit, I did linger in from where I stood, close enough to have the perfect sight. My heart skipped a bit when his lips quirked up into a smirk, clear sign he'd noticed I was checking him out, but he didn't comment. I did chastise myself for my sinful thoughts, though, especially as snippets of my dream came back to my mind ... my treacherous mind suggesting me the idea of him abruptly leaping to his feet and pushing me on the wall to do a remake of that haunting dream I will never forget.
Eric looked at me funny when I closed my eyes and shook my head to regain control over myself. Fangirling isn't bad only when you do it over the right people, Natalie. Like Kyle. Yeah, Kyle. I should think of him and our being a little bit closer other than have sinful dreams about his archenemy. I should make a move towards my crush, trying to catch his heart and attention, not daydream about his nemesis. What the heck is wrong with me lately?
First Eric gets under my skin with his asserting he's always known about me, then we spend a peaceful afternoon together, just studying, and all of a sudden my mind is full with dirty thoughts. Not that I've never daydreamed of Kyle kissing me or things like that, but I've never gotten to him pinning me up against a wall and making me moan like a cat in heat.
This is not me. I don't have such dreams. I don't think of those things. Gee, I feel embarrassed when I see couples exchanging saliva, imagine daydreaming about me doing exactly that! With Eric Rivers even! Ok, he's hot. Damn hot, but not my type ... right? I don't think much of the bad boy type, remember? I like gentle and sweet boys, not always riled up, always in a bad mood bad boys that in their best days glare at you in their worst ones might even throw you out of a car in the running.
I was trying to inhale deeply and calm myself down when I abruptly felt something grabbing my arm and pushing me down on a seat. When I opened my eyes I saw Eric frowning at me, his hand just retrieving from my arm. Guess that's one reason why, even in the abruptness of the thing, I felt sudden heat at that touch. Simply because it was him to be touching me ... ok, I'm pathetic. Definitely.
"Either you're deaf our you suffer from ADHD* but missing the DH part."
I would have sworn he'd smirked at his own joke, but I just frowned and he rolled his eyes, leaning back on his seat, making me gulp at the sight of his muscles flexing as he brought his arms behind his neck. As a confirm that I wasn't insane, I could hear the girls beside the door squealing at the sight.
"You ... wanted to tell me something?" I asked, awkwardly and warily, gulping down my drooling saliva for the nth time. I am not attracted to him. He's just ... attractive of his own. The girls beside the door swooning for him are the proof.
Eric rolled his eyes. "Just one question." He stated, glancing up at the ceiling for a moment then dropping his arms on his lap. "Why are you avoiding me?"
I gulped, my eyes widening. Did he seriously notice that? I haven't seen him apart from in the hall in morning, then when he caught me before I fell ... I didn't even see him in Creative Writing. But he did see me, didn't he? Of course. This guy's like some sort of high skilled CIA agent that sees everything without ever being seen. Or maybe I'm just too scatter-minded to notice. Yeah, that must be it.
"Spare me the excuses." He cut me off, leaning in, his elbows on the table, his icy blue eyes fixed on my hazels as he spoke: "I just want to know." He lightly smirked. "I'm not gonna chase you around with a rifle for being disrespectful."
I arched an eyebrow at him. Disrespectful? Where does that come from now? Just because I've been slyly trying not to be face to face with him all day? And why would he even care?
Eric sighed, but leaned his chin on his right palm as he stared at me, a very light smirk etched on his handsome features. I swallowed, trying to control myself and not swoon like the girls behind me. I guess he's in one of his good days, if he looks so calm. I guess I should be smart enough not to spoil that.
But I didn't know how the heck to respond without admitting the truth: that I didn't want to face him after having had a wet dream about him that might mean I am fighting this irresistible attraction towards him. Oh, well, no, that's something he's never gonna know. I'd rather bury myself into the ground other than admit I dreamed of him, and so sinfully even.
Seeing I didn't reply, Eric just rolled his eyes and pulled back, reaching for his backpack that was beside him. I nervously fixed my eyes on the table, hands balled up in fists on my legs, as he crossed his arms over his chest, looking as calm as barely I've ever seen him. Why does he even care if I avoid him or not, I have no idea. I mean, it's not like we're friends or something. And he's never seen too keen on allowing me in his very restricted circle, so I don't see why would he ...
"Shouldn't we work on the tale?" Eric suddenly asked, taking me off my thoughts. I dared look up at him, only to see he had a questioning look on, an eyebrow arched. Gee, how the heck does he manage to look so hot and sexy anything he does and anyway he poses? Seems like there isn't a way to make him look bad, well, as for good looks, that is.
Because to make him look bad in the attitude sense, it takes very little. He gets riled up very easily. So much that this calm Eric is almost freaking me out. Then again, I've personally known him since a week only and we've spent very little time together, while for the rest, I only knew his reputation, which is all but good, as you may remember.
Trying to distract myself, I glanced around. There was almost anybody in the café, nobody needed the waitress and, as I locked gazes with Fran standing by the counter, she winked at me, silently telling me I could take my time to chat with my "friend" because she didn't need me at the moment.
I sighed, trying hard to muster some courage. I swear, normally I am not this coward. But when it comes to him and Kyle I just lose my ability to talk. And even Kyle, my tongue is slowly unraveling. But Eric ... well, one moment I feel almost at easy with him, then he either frightens me or make me feel so ill at ease that I'm barely able to utter words that make any sense.
"We can delay that." I stated, highly hoping my voice wasn't shaky. "We're much in advance. It's almost done. There's no need to rush."
He studied me for a long moment before nodding, his features returning slightly stern, his voice as cold as usual when he ordered: "I'll take green tea."
Knowing there was no room for arguing and really no reason for it, even though I was surprised by his sudden changing in attitude, I quickly leaped to my feet and went straight to prepare his tea. It took me a few minutes only, considering I didn't have to serve anybody else, so I was almost instantly back to him.
Once I'd leaned the cup in front of him, I remained there standing, not sure if he wanted me to sit and keep talking or if I should disappear before his mood worsened. Did he order green tea to calm himself down?
"Sit down, Watson. I don't bite." Eric ordered, clearly annoyed, but with a hint of gentleness in his tone, which was the only thing that kept me from fleeing instantly.
So I sat down across from him, being able to hear the girls behind me complaining, I guess because I'd just blocked them the sexy view of those full pink lips barely touching the green porcelain of the mug. A sight that was more than worth some fangirlish swooning, believe me. And as he, once tasted the tea, lightly licked his lips, oh, my ... can a boy look any sexier? Better said, can a boy look so darn sexy only by sipping some green tea?
I inhaled deeply, gulping down my sinful thoughts. It's not attraction. Not even in the slightest bit. It's just ... that I have eyes and am a girl, just like those behind me, perfectly able to appreciate such specimen.
"I think it's about time we settle things once for all." Eric stated once he'd put down his mug. I nodded, even without really thinking. I forced myself to look up at him, just because I had to, considering he was talking to me, but his gaze was truly too intense for me.
"You seem to think I'm gonna snap and tear you apart at any moment, Natalie." He told me. I gulped at his directness, especially as his tone sounded more surprised and even offended other than scoffing. He lightly tilted his head to the side, looking, if possible, even hotter.
Gee, what's wrong with me? There was a time when I could only think of staying away from him, now all I can think of is how darn sexy he is, how his husky voice sends shivers down my spine, especially when he says my name, and how I long to see that full smile only on Saturday I got to get a glimpse of after ten years.
"I know my reputation precedes me, but truly, I am also known for never laying hands on a girl, I believe. So why do you fear me this much?" I had no idea how to respond to that, so I just remained silent, fidgeting with my hands, highly hoping somebody would arrive and need the waitress, so that I could flee from the awkward situation.
But nobody entered, except for a little boy with his mother, asking for a muffin, something Fran could easily take care of without my help. So I was stuck there. Eric's icy blue eyes staring at me, his absolute calmness so in contrast with the tumult of my emotions inside. Not because I was there sitting with him, but because I had no idea what was he causing in me lately. Gee, I've spent ten years without ever really acknowledging him, except for that first time I saw him in elementary school, and then for what he became. How comes now he's starting to crowd my thoughts and even my dreams?
Seeing I didn't reply, Eric let out a big sigh, shaking his head, as he stood up, reached for his wallet in his back pockets and placed the exact money needed to pay for the tea, moving away without a word.
I don't know what got into me, but, unable to retain myself, I did it: "Eric, wait!" I stopped him. He froze in his spot, actually now even closer to me, considering he'd bypassed the table to head to the exit, and turned around to face me. I stood up, just to reduce a little the feeling of being a little puppy in front of this giant.
"I-I ... I'd need some more help in Math, if you ... if you were ... available ..." Why did I ask that, I have no idea, I just know that I did. For no reason even, well, kind of. I mean, I do need help with Math, considering I'm such a slouch, but it wasn't truly necessary to ask him, was it?
Eric cracked a very light smile. A smile, not a smirk. It was tiny, really tiny, but ... it was there. And he looked cute like that. I wonder if I'm the only one he smiles to. That can't be it, can it? I mean, why would he let me only see his smile? We're nothing to each other. That he doesn't hate me, doesn't mean he likes me, in any sense. I might ... like his presence when he's not frightening, but I don't like him in that sense.
"And you'd so willingly remain alone with the evil ogre?" He asked sarcastically and I sighed, rolling my eyes.
I don't know where did I take the courage, but I spoke truthfully and without even stammering: "Just be lenient with me, ok? I've gone from thinking you'd so gladly tear me apart at the first chance to finding out that you ... you're not as bad as you seem. I ... I have to keep up with it. With this ... different image of the school's bad boy." I swallowed once I'd blurted out all of that without ever pausing. "And, yes, you still scare me, Eric. But ... not as much as a week ago." I took a deep breath. "So I don't think being alone with you would be so horrendous for me. Unless you decide to really act like the evil ogre and scare the hell out of me like you've always done."
He remained silent for a long moment, but frowning, his arms crossed over his chest. Normally, I'd be worried about having riled him up and not being on his black list, but ... well, that only afternoon together made me realize that he is not bad as he seems. That he can even be kind, to certain extents.
"How have I ever scared you?" Eric asked, truthfully confused.
I sighed. "Glaring and growling and snarling at me every time you see me, remember? Not to mention your starlight reputation. I was ..." I inhaled deeply. "I was frightened, ok? Because I hear so many bad things about you that ... well, I was scared at the mere thought of standing in front of you." Why was I telling him these things, I have no idea. How could I muster the courage to say that, that's even more a mystery, but I did, and I'm glad about it.
Eric stared at me, clearly confused but also surprised, probably at my sudden boost of courage too. His blue icy, even if for a tiny moment, weren't as icy as usual, actually, they looked ... calm. As if the beast inside him, that demon, had been tamed. Even if only for a moment. And he was partially back to his old self, that adorable little boy I first saw ten years ago.
But it was just a very brief moment, because just as we heard voices, most certainly clients entering, his head snapped to the front door and once those blues landed on me again, they were as icy as usual. Even colder than normal, which had me feel shivers, negative shivers down my spine. Like the beast inside him was not only fully awake again, but also unleashed.
He looked like he could snap at any moment, like he normally does, but this time even more. Unconsciously, I backed up, hitting the table behind me, because he didn't look mad, but his cold stare had the blood in my veins freeze. Why did he change so abruptly? One moment he looked calm, now he seemed ready to tear the world apart.
Curious, I glanced at the door too. There were two boys standing by the counter, staring at the glass to pick what they wanted. One of them was clearly older, but the younger one went to our school, I'm pretty sure about that, because I think I've seen him in one of my classes, can't remember which one.
Glancing back at Eric, I saw the veins on his neck pulsing. He was getting riled up. But why? Just at my words? No, that's impossible. I mean, he gets easily angry, yes, but ...
Inhaling deeply, my voice quivering, eyes on the ground, I stammered: "I-It's like this t-that you ... you scare me." I inhaled deeply once more before continuing: "Y-you ... y-you look like you want to tear me apart. A-and I did nothing but speak the truth."
He didn't reply. Silence reigned for a long minute, till the door of the café was closed again and I could no more hear the voices of those boys. Is that the problem? Were those his pals and he didn't want to be seen with me? If that's it, I don't see the problem. There is nothing, not even a friendship between us, I don't see why would he or his pals bother, even if my goody-goody reputation precedes me and of course, such a dreaded bad boy can't be seen with one like me. Then again, considering we're nothing to each other, really I don't see the problem.
Even though, for some reason, my heart slightly dropped at the thought of Eric being ashamed of being seen with me. I shouldn't care, I know I shouldn't. But ... well, whether they're friends or not, it's always unpleasant when somebody is ashamed of being seen with you, isn't it?
Eventually, I mustered the courage to look up at Eric, only to see his countenance had softened once again and he sighed, passing a hand over his face. "It wasn't you." That's the only explanation he gave me before storming off, leaving me there speechless.
What's that supposed to mean? It wasn't me. So he wasn't mad at me. It wasn't me he wanted to tear apart, then who? Those boys maybe? Why? What did they ever do to him?
Duh, I better not think about it. After all, I should have better thoughts, right? Like ... Kyle. Yeah, definitely. That's surely a more pleasant thought. Certainly much less troubled.
a/n: your opinion counts much for me,so let me know what you think :)