The Angel,The Devil,The Nerd

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Chapter 19 - You matter

CHAPTER 19 - YOU MATTER

NATALIE'S POV

Sighing, I gazed at my reflection in the mirror, inspecting every single detail of this girl whose face I wore but that right now I couldn't recognize.

"I don't really think I should do this ..." I mulled for, possibly, the thousandth time. Mom, along with Aisha, rolled their eyes, tired of hearing me doubt my decision.

"Going to a party for once won't kill you." Mom stated from behind me.

I turned to her, arching an eyebrow. "That advice comes from my mother? The woman that has fun only when Paula practically drags her out of the front door?" I asked sarcastically, which made Aisha, who was sitting on my desk chair, laugh.

She looked beautiful and, actually, pretty sexy too in her attire: it was a bit daring, considering the weather, but she was wearing a cute country short skirt with flower pattern, a sleeveless white top, a leather belt to unite everything, then country light brown booties, in addition, a light beige long cardigan that was needed not to make her feel too cold (even though she did have a jacket), but I have no doubt it'd be instantly forgotten as soon as we get to the party.

I bet it was needed also to make a good impression on my mom, who saw her for the first time just when she showed up to our door with a bunch of bags containing dresses to make me try, saying her mom was a stylist (or sort of) and she'd chosen them for me once Aisha had shown her a picture of me.

Aisha also wore a heart and chain pendant that almost disappeared into her cleavage, where I have no doubt many male eyes will be falling tonight.

She told me that boy she's been texting since Tuesday, the one she met in class, was most likely to come to the party as well, so she had to look very, very good. She looked amazing. While I ...

In the end, as you can guess, I've decided I'd participate to this party Kyle kept mentioning all yesterday too, saying I needed a distraction because after what happened on Tuesday, I was always lost in my thoughts, he said. I say I was just distracted, because that's my nature, but he, as well as Aisha, kept implying that I was aggravated because I fought with Eric, my controversial sweetheart as she likes to call him, meaning that he's my sweetheart but our relationship is complicated because we keep pushing each other away without even meaning it. All silly thoughts, if you ask me.

I haven't seen him since our fight actually, because apparently he's been skipping, who knows why. Aisha jokes that I broke his poor little heart, but I, one, highly doubt he even has a heart at this point, then, I highly doubt a Miss Nothing like me could even be able to move something inside him to the point that he's so upset that he doesn't feel like coming to school. Come on ... he's simply cutting class, like he often does.

The perks of being a bad boy, I guess. You can skip school without anybody questioning you. Fine with me anyway. Right now I have no will of seeing him.

I'll admit I was truly disappointed when he acted like that. Because for a moment I'd really thought he might be better than what the rumors described him as. Instead I was completely wrong. Obvious. Oh, well, better finding out now than becoming his friend and discovering the bitter truth. For how I am, such an element could never get along with my calm character.

Now, I said I didn't recognize myself in the mirror, because of the way they'd had me dress ... I would have so much preferred simple jeans and some blouse, casual at its best, but no, it was my first party ever and I needed to be cool, Aisha said, especially considering it was a party my crush had invited me to, even if it wasn't a date.

Actually, Kyle just said he'd be seeing us there, never mentioned me and him going together or even him picking me up. So it's not a date, it's a party a friend invited me to. Nothing more than that. And yet both my mother and my new friend have been taking it so seriously ...

I've been trying outfits over outfits since this afternoon when I came back from work, considering Fran gave me three hours free when I mentioned I was going to a party tonight. Personally, I don't see the reason for a party on Thursday when tomorrow we have school anyway, half day, yes, but still ... guess I'm just too goody-goody to understand these things.

Mom didn't want me to wear anything too short, so you can easily imagine she chastised every single suggestion Aisha threw. Right now I was wearing a very simple dress that barely reached my knees and while highlighting my curves, it also showed not little of my breasts, which is one more reason why I was so reluctant on wearing it. Mom appreciated it simply because she'd placed a cute pin in the middle of my cleavage, so that it wouldn't be to evident. My hair was combed in a nice up-do and, may I tell you, that was about the most I liked about my outfit.

I sighed, still inspecting myself. I don't like it. I think that's clear. And yet this is the least bad I've tried.

Both mom and Aisha inspected me, neither of them seemed pretty convinced, but I was tired of trying on things. This just isn't my style. My style is casual. Loose jeans and t-shirts or sweaters, maybe a blouse, nothing more than that. But of course, I'm going to a party, my first party, so I need to look good.

In the end, they made me change, but finally I got to my definitive outfit: a blue dress that reached my knees, legs covered by black stockings that really showed nothing, black booties, enough low not to make me break a leg, but enough high to make me look a tiny bit thinner, a black mid-sleeve jacket. My hair was now left cascading down my shoulders.

I felt ... well, not too bad. I mean, this dress too showed some cleavage, but enough not to make me feel uncomfortable and in the end ... well, I looked good ... I think.

***

As we made it to the party, I realized it wasn't at all as "little" as Kyle said it would be. There were already drunk people scattered around the garden and the house was so packed that it was a struggle even only making a few steps into the living room, where hordes of sweaty and overexcited teenagers were either dancing or drinking or making out.

Lucky think, it didn't take us long to spot Kyle, who we found in the kitchen, chatting with a couple of his friends. He looked so charming in his beige pants and blue dress-shirt, hair perfectly styled for once, his lovely smile always there to greet me.

"Hey, Nat! You made it!" He exclaimed, kind of surprised.

I smiled, trying to slyly detect if he was drunk or not, especially as he checked me out from the top to the bottom, grinning in appreciation, which had me blush profusely, so that Aisha intervened, making him notice her existence, since, she bluntly said, he seemed so taken by me already that she felt invisible.

Kyle blushed a little, but then he grazed the back of his neck, smiling as he spoke, making me blush this time: "Well, you know ... it's not of every day to see Nat so dressed up and ..."

"Yeah, she looks hot, doesn't she?" Aisha cut him off and I blushed even more, covering my face with my hand as I lowly reproached her, but Kyle simply laughed, winking at me, like confirming my friend's words.

He left us a few minutes later, saying he needed to rescue his friend before he did something he'd regret for the rest of his life. "Like at the last party ... when he climbed the table and started making a parody of Channing Tatum in the movie Magic Mike. It was hilarious and Claire, his twin sister, being cruel, uploaded the video she made on YouTube, so you can still see it." Said the guy made him promise to go to his rescue in case he got too wasted again, so Kyle rushed towards the group of people cheering for somebody to do I don't know what.

Aisha and I glanced around. I can already tell you I don't like parties. All those people packed in such little space, all drunk and sweaty and ... ewww ... no, not my environment, definitely. But, as Aisha suggested, considering we were there, I might as well try and enjoy the time.

And I did, well, tried to. Ok, when even Aisha left me to go have fun around I kind of ended up doing the wallflower in the kitchen, which was the worst place for me, because there gathered the most drunken people, so that I was practically pressed against the wall to act like I was invisible. Lucky thing I succeeded, because God knows I have no idea how to deal with drunk people.

I think half an hour or so passed like that, till a couple decided that the best place to exchange saliva and practically conceive was against the wall right beside me, so I kind of fled, making my way to the back garden, which was just less full with drunken teenagers, but I managed to find a comfortable and quiet spot by the swing. I guess also children live here, aside from the host of the party, who I have yet to meet.

Unable to resist, I sat down on one of the swings, starting to move a little. It wasn't obviously quiet, considering that, even if the glass doors were closed, I could still hear the noise coming from the house, but it was muffled, so enough comfortable.

Maybe I should have tried a little harder and fit in this frenzy world that my peers frequent, but I just couldn't make myself. Kyle seems to live these things like a second skin and Aisha too is also clearly at ease in such environments, but me ... it was half past ten only and I was already craving to go home.

Mom would come pick us up by midnight, though. Because she didn't trust us to be sober once the party was over. I argued that, one, the party would never be over by midnight, two, there was no way in hell I would be drinking, to which she grinned, patting my head like you do with a dog to reward him, saying she was proud of her little Doodles for being such a cautious girl, but ... peer pressure is strong. Even for me.

As I went back and forth with the swing, I battled with myself if I should do the nerd and take out the book I always and obviously have in my bag, just to pass time, but in the end I decided against it. Maybe I'd look cooler if I remained there, apparently lost in my thoughts.

I'd been there since a good half hour when I heard voices from some bushes not too far from me. I couldn't tell their voices, neither what they said, but it was clearly a boy and a girl. I hope not making out or worse. Because I wouldn't know where else to flee if I found another couple.

Maybe I'm just too prude. I mean, I've never even kissed a boy and I'm 18 already. The closest to a kiss I've been was in a stupid dream. Well, in that dream I did much more than kissing, but that's another story, especially because the protagonist of that dream is someone I really shouldn't think about.

And yet I wonder how can he be so mean and wicked. That lovely boy I first saw ten years ago was the exact opposite, how can he have changed so much? I know, it's been ten long years, but still ...

He even fooled me with his being gentle with me, so that I really thought he might be better than he seems. Although, let's be honest, I got to think that only because he acted a little bit gentle with me for an afternoon, while the rest of the time he's been the usual jackass, so I really shouldn't be surprised.

The voices from the bushes became a bit louder and I could clearly tell the girl was angry, in fact she shouted something I didn't catch and stormed off. 

Glancing back, I only noticed her skimpy attire and her blonde hair. Now, blonde girls, there are many in my school, but with that stride ... nope, just one. Duh, if the girl was her, then presumable the boy was ...

"You shouldn't be here." Of course. How do they say? Speaking of the devil ... how the heck does he appear everywhere? Does he seriously stalk me? Duh, considering he'd just been arguing with his girlfriend, I highly doubt he was here for me. He just found me. Because I am always so lucky ...

I inhaled deeply, staring ahead of me as I tightly gripped the ropes of the swing. Eric came closer, so that he stood there in all his frightening height, staring down at me.

Why can't he just let me be? Only a ten days ago he barely ... oh, wait, no, he did know me. He always has apparently. Ok, he's always known me, but he never even approached me, now he's everywhere I look. Gee, it's almost as if he's doing it on purpose.

The dim light barely illuminated the spot where we were, but considering the moon was full, I bet I could have clearly seen his handsome face if I'd dared look up, but I didn't want to. I didn't want to see him neither talk to him.

More than scared of being alone in the almost dark with this wicked bad boy that gets so easily riled up and that I practically humiliated in the hall just the other day, I was more annoyed.

Maybe I just knew he'd never lay a hand on me or even take advantage of the situation. Not because it was me, but because he simply doesn't do those things. He's irascible and frightening and a real danger when he's mad at you, but he doesn't touch girls other than gently. That much I know, because Kyle confirmed it and even Eric himself has told me more than once.

I turned to my right only when I heard him shuffling, so I saw him sit down on the swing next to mine, but, differently from me, he didn't move, while I was still going back and forth, even if slowly.

"I know you don't want to see me, Natalie, but I just wanted to ... well, apologize." My eyes snapped to his. Was he serious? He never does that, for what I know. I mean, why should he ever apologize? To me even? Why does he care if I'm aggravated with him? We're nothing to each other.

Inhaling deeply, I replied: "I am not the one you broke the nose to, so you shouldn't apologize to me."

He sighed, clearly frustrated, which normally would have had me cowering in fear, but since Tuesday I feel this new energy inside me ... like I could face anything and anyone, especially him.

"I am apologizing to you because it's you I ..." He trailed off without finishing, just passed a hand over his face, I guess not knowing what else to say.

It's me that he what? Disappointed? Offended? Failed? Let down? What? None of these terms seem to fit, though, because the point is always one and one only: we are nothing to each other. There's no reason for him to justify or apologize or anything.

Silence reigned for a while, well, relative silence, considering the sounds from the house. I wonder what was Eric doing here, considering the guy that hosts the party is apparently Kyle's friend. But then, I highly doubt the host knows all the people that were roaming his house right now, so ...

"What you said the other day ... did you really mean it?" Eric asked all of a sudden, breaking the silence, his voice as ... gentle as I've never heard it.

I arched an eyebrow, turning to him for a moment, only to realize he looked pretty flustered and worried. Why? "What does it change if I meant it or not?" I asked back, turning to look ahead of me, swinging a little more.

Eric sighed, lowly cursing. "It just matters. I ... I need to know."

I stopped the swing all of a sudden and turned to him. "Why? I am nothing to you. You are nothing to me. Considering many people fear you or hate you, I don't see what does it change if I do too."

He didn't reply, just sighed, clearly frustrated, then silence returned, till he stood up, towering me again, so that I looked up at him, just out of curiosity. The moonlight illuminated his face, giving him an odd aura that only enhanced his natural charm, but I don't really care, do I? I mean, I feel nothing but despise for him.

Well ... no. Those words I told him the other day, they were out of anger, because I was worried about Kyle being hurt and Eric's stunt was unforgivable, because there was no reason for it, and he even acted like it was nothing, so I just lost it and those words slipped out of my mouth. Right then I felt they were true, but then ... thinking over it again and again, I realized they were just angry words. Nothing more than that. I just felt angry at him for ...disappointing me. Even though it doesn't make any sense, I know.

Eric looked around for a moment and rubbed the bridge of his nose before speaking, in a tone that sounded very much defeated, for who knows what reason: "It does change. Because you matter. More than you would ever think."


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