Chapter 20 - We are nothing to each other
CHAPTER 20 - WE ARE NOTHING TO EACH OTHER
In the end, the party last night wasn't too bad, especially as, just as Eric left, Aisha came to me, saying she had to flee from that boy she'd been texting, because he was so boring and she couldn't stand him anymore. So she brought me back to the party and I kind of managed to have some fun, even talking to Kyle and a few other people. In the end it wasn't too bad, but I still kept thinking about Eric and his words ...
I matter. What's that supposed to mean? I matter to him? Why? Even if he's always known me without me ever realizing it, we still are pretty much strangers to each other. Every time we talk, it's just me stammering in fear and him grunting, well, at first, then it became him freaking me out with his odd phrases, just like last night.
I matter. The more I think about it, the more I convince myself of the most wrong interpretation: that I matter to him. And it's impossible and certainly I'm wrong, but ... well, the simple thought brought a small smile on my lips. Don't ask me why, I have no idea.
"Who?" I heard someone asking from behind me, just as a hand came in contact with my shoulder. I swear, I'll get the bruise sooner or later for how much she slaps it.
I turned around to a grinning Aisha, who seemed particularly in a good mood as she wrapped an arm around my shoulders.
"Who what?" I asked, confused.
She chuckled. "Who were you thinking about?" She asked and I kind of blushed, knowing she'd just busted me, seeing me smile all alone and for no reason while I stood in front of my locker that I'd just closed.
Aisha squeezed me against her slim side, grinning. "It's him, isn't it? The blonde stud. You were smiling so bright. Did you guys make up? I bet he smacked a wet kiss on your pinky cheek and you forgot it all. Or did he go further?"
"Oh! Don't tell me, you guys made out!" She pulled back, practically shoving me away in her flabbergasted moment, as she awed. "Natalie! Good girls don't do those things!"
I lowered my glanced, my cheeks now crimson, as she all but shouted that, so much that a few heads turned to us and even one in particular I could spot beneath the stairs glanced at me.
When we locked gazes, Eric held his stare but I gulped, quickly averting my eyes, not really feeling able to endure that intense look, especially after last night and my mind-blowing thoughts about him that keep on changing.
I mean, one moment I hate him and I think he's the real incarnation of evil, the other I blush and stupidly smile at the thought of him actually caring about me.
Because I matter, he said. For as much as I know it can't be it, I know what he meant ... I matter to him. So he cares. Which is odd per se, considering he never cares about anybody, but it's even weirder if you consider we are nothing to each other. But maybe with the fact that he knows me, has known me from afar since years apparently, maybe with that, he came to care, possibly just because he pities me and my awkward self. Yeah, there can't be any other explanation.
Aisha laughed out loud when she saw me so embarrassed, once more wrapping her arm around my shoulders and leaning her temple on mine. "There you go, I got you your boy's attention. Now why don't you walk up to him and greet him like a real woman does?"
My eyes widened as she practically implied I should just walk up straight to Eric and kiss him, she even shoved me towards his direction. Why on Earth would I ever do that? So that he can push me away and make of me the clown of the whole school? No, thanks.
Actually, I don't want to kiss him. Just because his full pink lips are so sexy and his scent is so uniquely manly, if that even makes sense, doesn't mean I want to kiss him ... right? I mean, I don't feel attracted to him. Not even in the slightest bit. Duh ... I've been repeating this since that darn dream, but the more I say it, the less credible it gets.
Do I seriously feel attracted to Eric? It wouldn't be too insane, would it? I mean, many girls find him attractive and like him ... I might be different in my awkwardly awkward way, but I'm still a girl, with my XX genes and my crazy hormones and ... oh, look at me, I'm making such a fuss and it's nothing more than me finding the bad boy attractive. It's not that wrong, is it? I mean, I am human too. He's damn hot, no one can deny that, so ... well, it's only reasonable that I acknowledge his appeal too, just like every other girl ... right?
And yet, what's odd is that, while causing butterflies to flutter around my stomach, and a lot of blushing, Kyle doesn't give me the same ... emotions Eric does. I mean, I like Kyle. I've been head over heels for him since I first spotted him in freshman year, and this getting closer that we're now experiencing couldn't make me any happier, and I seriously hope we'll get to be more than just somewhat friends, but ... well, there remains the issue.
How Eric is able to cause me so many different and conflicting emotions that blow my mind away every time. How I can't get a hold of one single thought that concerns him. How he keeps changing attitude towards me and I can't keep up ... all of this, Kyle doesn't cause me all of this.
And yet I like him. Truly. I have been liking him since years and now that I am close to him, I can't spoil this chance. It'd be very stupid. Especially if you consider that I don't stand one single chance with Eric. I mean, he's not only dating no less than Dana Langley, who is pretty much the most popular, the most wanted, the most beautiful, the most attractive girl in our school, but he's also in love with another girl I have no idea who she is, so how could I ever compare?
Wait, but I don't want to. I do not like Eric. Not like that. If anything, we might be somewhat friends, considering he apparently cares, so we might get closer and be friends. Nothing more than that. Because I like his nemesis and I feel nothing for him. Nothing. I just ... find him attractive. It's pretty normal.
Despite Aisha's attempts at shoving me towards Eric, who was still standing beneath the stairs, I swear, watching me with the corner of his eyes, I remained frozen in my spot, so that she eventually sighed and dropped her hands, giving me a dirty look I grinned that, but then I glanced at the end of the hall, where he still stood, and I sighed, turning to Aisha, beside me, who was grinning from ear to ear, conscious of the spot my eyes had wandered off to.
It's seriously odd. Just ten days ago he was just that frightening bad boy I accurately steered clear of, now ... now he confuses me, with his continuous changing attitude, his blue eyes that are so icy but lately, when they land on me they lose something of that harshness and gosh, I've even seen him smile for real, just on last Saturday, when we were alone at my place. He looked carefree, even almost glad to be there alone with me, which is weird per se, but still ...
"Aisha, what do you think of Eric?" I blurted out without thinking.
She frowned at first, clearly confused, but in the end grinned, turning towards the stairs, I have no doubt locking gazes with him, which for some reason had me feel a little uneasy, partly because then he'd know I was talking about him, and partly because ... because ... no, I better not tell you or you guys will think I'm jealous of Eric, which I am not, I can assure you.
I have no reason to be jealous of him. We are nothing to each other. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I have more feelings for the last slice of pizza when mom and I go to Vincenzo's. Well, ok, the last slice of pizza wins over everything but books, but ... well, you get it, don't you?
"I think ..." Aisha started, her index finger tapping on her chin, her head slightly tilted to the side, in a pensive manner, clearly fake of course, then grinned. "I think ... he's by far the hottest stud I've ever seen." She said that like it was a scientific fact, like she was telling me what's air truly made of, not just admitting she thinks Eric is hot.
But in any case that confirms my idea. It's not me. He's just attractive of his own. So if I do find him attractive, like every girl does, that doesn't mean that I am attracted to him ... right?
Duh, I shouldn't even think about it. This is just useless speculation. It won't get me anywhere. So I finally glanced around, seeing my peers swarming around, less fast than usual, many of them holding their heads, and I evilly grinned, thinking of the hangover they must be enduring. Serves them right. No one said they had to drink so heavily.
I didn't touch one single glass of punch, well, I tried to, because I was thirsty, but then Kyle ripped the glass off my hands, saying I really didn't want to try that punch, I asked why, and he genuinely told me it'd most probably been corrected, and since he highly doubted I wanted to get drunk ... a mindful thought of his, that's for sure.
We spent a good time chatting. Sure, he now and then walked off, called by some of his friends, but in the end it was nice. I even got to know a couple of his friends, not all too bad. I mean, there's this Leon, a newbie arrived just last year from France, and he's so talkative, Aisha and I ended up with our ears burning for how much he talked. She even dared leave me alone with him, with the excuse of having to go to pee (always so discreet, yes), so I had to endure all his lame jokes, but in the end it wasn't too bad. Lucky thing Kyle arrived soon to rescue me.
To cut it short, I kind of enjoyed the party, even if I was practically the only one sober among drunk teenagers. Even Kyle and Aisha ended up being slightly tipsy.
When the bell rang, I inhaled deeply, knowing that I had to climb those stairs, like almost always, and like always I'd have to walk by him in nonchalance.
These days, after Tuesday, it was easy, because he wasn't there, he cut class, so there was no problem, even though I could feel some eyes on me, some people even whispering behind my back, something about me having humiliated the bad boy in the middle of the hall and that he was certainly meditating revenge, because he's known for not letting slide one single affront. So they all thought that me now going towards the same spot where he was meant the little lamb walking to her doom, because he was there, and sure as hell he wouldn't let me pass unscratched.
So I could feel the eyes of some people around as I neared that spot, Aisha beside me, because we had the same class. I swear, some of my peers seemed even enthralled to have me get my due punishment. But I wasn't scared. I know he wouldn't touch me. He wouldn't hurt me physically. Besides, if he'd wanted revenge, he'd have taken it last night, when we were alone in that garden, but he did nothing. Actually, he even apologized. So I was safe. Unless the chastisement was to be executed in front of people because, you know, punish one, teach a hundred.
People were seemingly disappointed when Eric let me pass without even stopping me. He did fix his blues eyes on me, but they held nothing more than regret and ... sadness. No anger, no fury that was to descend upon me. No. Just regret and sadness. About what, I have no idea, better said, I don't really want to know.
Even Aisha watched my steps, but not because she feared he might grab me all of a sudden and exact his revenge, no, even with the corner of my eyes I could see she was trying hard not to grin as she most probably thought of Eric grabbing me, yes, but only to greet me like a lovely boyfriend would.
She seems convinced that while I say I like Kyle, I have this undying yearning for the bad boy that will be quenched only when he finally pins me up against a wall and makes me his. Much like cavemen, I've argued, but she just laughed it off, saying that she could cut the sexual tension between me and Eric with a knife and sooner or later he would act on his hormones and claim me as his. I think she reads too many romances.
For a moment my mind reminded me of just the other day, when I was about to fall and he caught me, and it mischievously suggested me to repeat the scene, just to end up cradling in those strong arms, but I shrugged it off immediately.
What the heck is wrong with me? Yeah, there have been times when I would think of tripping and being saved just in corner by my lovely Kyle, but Eric ... he seems to have hijacked my mind all of a sudden. It's like my mind is making up for all the time it should have been thinking of him but it hasn't, so it's cramming years of neglecting him in a few days, driving me insane.
When I reached the second step of the stairs, unscratched, those few people that had watched all of the scene, for some insane desire for blood, returned to their own businesses, and even Eric's pals restarted talking to him, but he was distracted ... why? Because we once more locked gazes, even if slyly, and when my very small smile erupted of his own, without my permission, his lips lightly twitched too, as if he wanted to smile but forced himself not to. The twinkling of his blue eyes was more evident, though, and I could clearly see he thought, and was glad, that I'd silently forgiven him.
Even though, there really isn't anything I should forgive him for. I mean, he beat up my friend/crush, and I got furious with him for it, so much that I found the guts to face him in the middle of the hall like I never would, but I am not the one that should forgive him, for as much as Kyle's nose has healed already and he's fine, it's him Eric should apologize to, but considering he never does that to any of the poor souls that he beats the crap out of, there's not really a reason for all of his wanting to apologize and be forgiven. By me even.
When, reaching the hall of the next floor, I told that to Aisha, she grinned as we walked towards our class, saying he wanted to be forgiven because I'm his Babycakes and he doesn't stand my being cross with him. I told her she was insane, that there's absolutely nothing between me and Eric, not even the slightest hint of a friendship, but she just laughed, saying I was denying the obvious. Can't reason with a fool, can you?
Just as I'd taken my seat in class, I felt my phone buzzing in my pockets, so I pulled it out, confused, considering nobody ever texts me, apart from Aisha and Jamie, but one is here and the other is presumably still sleeping considering it's night where she lives, so it could be my mom, telling me something important.
My eyes widened when I read the message, though ...
Eric: Heard there's a surprise Math test next week. Thought you could use some help. Tomorrow?