Chapter 21 - Maybe alone is better
CHAPTER 21 - MAYBE ALONE IS BETTER
Ok, breathe, Natalie. Breathe. It's just a tutoring session. Nothing else. We've been alone already. It's not the first time. But the odds are different ... while last week I was afraid of his easily enflamed character, now I was more anxious about my hormones driving me insane because I finally came to admit that, possibly, I do feel attracted to him. Be it just physically. After all, he is a very hot specimen.
Mom was at work, but this time she knew I'd have someone coming over, because I told her there was the rumors about this Math test next week and considering what I slouch I am, I needed help, and there was this boy that had offered ... at the word boy she instantly got stern, giving me that reprimanding look that means she's about to give me her usual speech about how am I supposed to pay attention to boys, because they're not always what they seem.
Do you know what I replied? He is trustworthy. Why? I have no idea. Because it wasn't just to calm down my overprotective mother, it was truthful, like I truly felt Eric could be trusted. At least to some extents. Somehow I was sure he wouldn't do anything, ever, to hurt me. Not physically at least. Because he cares. I reminded myself, the inevitable grin spreading on my mouth. Because I matter. I matter to him.
When the bell rang, I nearly jumped, trying not to think of both Aisha and Jamie, when I recounted her everything, insinuating that the boy might seriously have the hot shots for me, and that's why he cares.
"Ain't no other reason why Rudeness Personified Rivers would be kind with you." My best friend claimed yesterday over the phone. I didn't reply, not knowing what to say, shifting the subject to when or if would she be able to visit me. She said she'd see to convince her father these days, but it was hard. If all went wrong, then we could still see each other for the Spring break, when she'd pester her father to take her, and was certain to succeed.
Taking a deep breath, I went to open. To greet me, the sight of an as hot as always Eric gripping one hand of his backpack that was hanging loose on his shoulder, like always. He was wearing dark blue jeans, a blue t-shirt covered by a light blue open shirt that was up to his sleeves, showing me half of his strong arms.
I tried to focus on the thought that despite being January, our weather is pretty warm, so coats and everything are not truly needed, other than ogle his light tanned skin. I might feel attracted, yes, but only because he's hot, and there's no reason to check him out so shamelessly, is there?
I mustered enough courage to smile at him and move aside to let him in, so he entered, a very, very light smile quirking up his lips just as he glanced at me, who had just closed the door. As he moved towards the living room, I self-consciously looked down at myself ... I was a mess, wasn't I? I had to clean up the house this morning, because mom had to work and tomorrow we'll be having guests, and considering I want to sleep on Sunday ...
It took me hours and hours, but in the end our house was shining. Negative aspect: I didn't have time to take a shower, so now all that I was wearing were simple black sweats bottoms and a grey turtle-neck top, hair in a messy bun, grey sneakers at my feet, simply because that was the comfiest outfit for a Saturday spent doing the Cinderella. I just hope I didn't stink of sweat. It's just that inside it was hot and with all that movement, I practically threw my hoodie on the other side of the living room and ran upstairs to grab the first top I found.
Not wanting to make him wait, I sighed inaudibly, pushing back the miserable thought of Eric seeing me in such a sloppy state, I walked into the living room, literally crashing into his hard back because I hadn't seen he was still standing at the entrance of the room. I stepped back instantly, but, creepily, I did take in his manly scent, which only added confusion to my insane mind.
I find him attractive. I feel attracted to him. It's just physical. As Jamie said, it's pretty normal, considering how darn hot he is. Even a wall would find him hot, she said. So it's no big deal. It's not like I feel like jumping him whenever he less expects it and ... well, I don't have the courage to repeat what my friends implied, but you can guess what is it, can't you? Aisha was more graphic, but Jamie wasn't less direct, which makes me think that now I have not just one, but two crazy friends that will drive me insane too. Like the enigmatic bad boy now standing in front of me wasn't enough.
Eric turned to me, looking me up and down, well, more like from above, considering he is taller than I, towering me with his 6'2" against my 5'8". Yet while normally his towering me like that would scare the hell out of me, now I just felt like melting under his scrutinizing gaze.
In the end, Eric cracked a very small smile, asking me if I was ready to dip into Math, I half smiled, knowing he was trying to be playful, but I argued that, if he didn't mind, he'd have to wait a little because, having cleaned up the house all day, I needed a shower. He looked surprised, but didn't argue, so I hinted at the TV in the living room, saying he could make himself at home while I made myself a bit more presentable.
"You look good anyway." He muttered as he walked to the sofa in the middle of the room. My eyes widened and my heart started thumping in my chest, but I shrugged it off, sure I had just dreamed of it. I have, right? He didn't say it. It was just my fangirl mind overthinking, as usual.
Once done, believe it or not, for the first time in my life I stood in front of my wardrobe, not having the slightest idea what to wear. I didn't have to impress him, I didn't have to be pretty for him, and yet ... and yet something inside me kept me from wearing my usual. Surely I didn't have much of a choice in there, me being the casual die hard I've always been, which is why picking an outfit was even harder.
Giving up, even knowing she'd dig a hole in my head about details, I texted Jamie to ask for an opinion. Officially, I didn't text Aisha simply because she was out of town, visiting her father, actually, I didn't text her because I knew she'd make my mind explode with questions when I see her on Monday and it'd reinforce her belief that I like Eric in that sense and so on.
My best friend, though, being the discreet girl she is, already suggested me to wear my skimpiest outfit, so that he wouldn't know where to gawk at first and so that I would blow his mind away. I blushed at the thought, reminding her I had no skimpy outfits and certainly I had no intention of showing my graces (aka flabby body) to Eric, but she argued that if I was so hesitant on what to wear, then it meant that I wanted indeed to impress him, and what better way than showing off the merchandise?
You've got those huge boobs, Natty. Use them!
She sent me. I knew she was just joking, she wouldn't want me to practically throw myself at a boy. In the end, when I complained about her having to be serious, she finally told me I should just wear what I feel more comfortable in, without looking like I made an extra effort for him, because then he might notice it and read between the lines. I argued that boys aren't that perceptive, but she said that, one, when you take so long to get dressed and they're the only ones you have to see, then they automatically know you're trying to look pretty, or even sexy, for them, then ... it was Eric Rivers we were talking about here, the boy has eyes even behind his back, he's as perceptive as a super-vampire that doesn't let a single mosquito go unnoticed, so he'd bust me instantly if I tried to look good for him. She even joked that, as a vampire, he might even smell my arousal from afar. At that, I blushed, objecting that I was not aroused, not by him, that was for sure, but she argued that, if Eric Rivers wasn't able to arouse me, then I seriously had to think over my heterosexuality, because ...
Natty, if Hotness Personified there can't make you wet, then, honey, I believe you play in his same team!
It was useless to argue that I was in no way acquainted with such things, because she bluntly told me I was a girl, and being that meant that, virgin or not, I can still get wet at the mere sight of one like Eric Rivers, so there was no room for excuses, unless I wanted to suddenly come out and confess I'm lesbian and have been in love with her for all these years.
I could only laugh at that, saluting her once for all, saying I'd left Eric waiting for too long. Of course, she didn't miss the chance to remind me to be careful, aka, use protections in case I decided to jump Mr. Hot.
I always remind her that I'm not that kind of girl and I know absolutely nothing about sex and even thinking about it makes me blush, but ... well, she says I have to grow mature sooner or later, so I just drop the subject, kind of feeling a little insecure at my being 18 and still virgin. Not like I care, but still ... sometimes I feel like I'm missing something. Then I remind myself that waiting for the right one will be worth it.
In the end, I opted for black jeans, which weren't skinny, but they did clung onto my skin, which I guess it's a sign I've put on weight maybe, amazingly fitting perfectly, and a grey plain sweater, white sneakers. I'd just leaned everything on bed when I heard someone knocking on my door.
"Natalie? Sorry to interrupt, but there's this guy with a package for you downstairs ..." I frowned, confused. My mother didn't expect a courier today ... what made me chuckle was Eric lowly chastising himself, because the phrase had sounded incredibly dirty and there was such an evident sexual innuendo ...
I blushed, especially because I really didn't catch that, but also because he was cute for worrying about that. Goes to prove my idea of the bad boy being only an attitude he wears, an attitude that disappears, even if at intervals, when we're alone.
I cracked the door open, so that I could face him and, my heart melted at the sight of his cheeks tinge pink when he faced me, probably aware that if I didn't open completely, it meant I only had a long towel on.
"What did he say?" I asked, trying to sound nonchalant.
Eric grazed the back of his neck. "Uh ... just that he's got a pa ... I mean, he has to deliver something to a Natalie Watson." I blinked my eyes, puzzled, but eventually grinned from ear to ear. Of course. How could I forget about it? It must be my order from Amazon! Gee, I've waited two weeks for it! And it's finally here.
Seeing me grin like that, Eric gazed at me, clearly confused, which made me realize how cute he looks with that puzzled look on his face, I mean, when he doesn't act like the evil ogre, he looks like a normal teenager and damn, is he cute like that! Ok, ok, no time for fangirling ...
"Um ... Eric, I am ... currently not in the conditions to go out and ... I guess the guy has to go, so ... would you mind signing for me?" I gulped when I realized how he was staring at me, clearly confused, but not at my grinning, no, at my being so gentle with him. I cracked a smile, just to cut the tension, and in the end he nodded, saying he'd take care of it, adding, before going, that he'd "disturbed me" only because they guy didn't want to hear reasons, had to deliver in the hands of Natalie Watson. Eric added that he'd see to convince him I'd given him some proxy or things like that.
When he walked away, I returned to my wardrobe, picking my underwear. No, I didn't pick anything that would look sexy, especially because I have nothing of the sort. Besides, why would I wear something sexy for him? Maybe because you feel attracted and you guys are alone till 8 this evening? Something inside reminded me, but I instantly chastised it. Please ... I don't even have the slightest idea of what sex is. You can't really think I'd be so silly to just throw myself at him only because he's hot and I do feel attracted.
Slipping off my towel, I slowly put on my underwear, but just as I did that, I heard the abrupt sound of a door opening then closing again, a loud curse still in the air.
"Sorry. I haven't seen anything!" Eric shouted from the other side, which only made my heart race faster. If he did see, he surely wouldn't tell me, I guess, so I can't know if he seriously peeked my graces or not. I opted for thinking he didn't, so I quickly got dressed and joined him in the living room, where he'd quickly run after having closed the door.
He was sitting at the table, several papers around him, acting like he was focused on those, but part of me knew he was doing that just to take his mind off of that moment, which might only mean that he did see something ... no, no, he didn't. Gee, the thought of Eric seeing my flabby body made me blush profusely from cheeks to toe, knowing that if he did see, that can't have been a good sight.
Gulping down my nervousness, I reached him. He looked up at me and hinted at the package on the table, to which I grinned, eagerly going to open it. Finally.
Seeing me so happy, Eric inevitably asked what was it all about, so I showed him the perfectly perfect cover of the book I'd been waiting for so long. He arched an eyebrow at me, clearly confused, so I explained that Assassin's Blade was the fourth book of a saga I'd just started but it contained only stories with prequels of the novel, but considering I had to wait for September before being able to read the fourth book, I opted for reading the prequels too, because I love this series so much.
I blushed when I realized that I'd sounded like a crazy fangirl and now he would probably judge me for being an immature child that bases her life off books releases, but Eric just ... smiled, tenderly even, as he nodded in understanding, then asking me to see the book.
I handed it to him, still mesmerized by that lovely smile I couldn't help but hope to see 24/7 because it was just too cute. Like the older version of the one I saw years ago, but even cuter. Because other than on the lips of a lovely little boy, it was on the ones of a dreaded bad boy that was known for being heartless.
"You know, I might have ... lied a little about the surprise test." Eric commented just as we were walking towards the exit. I frowned, confused.
When yesterday he told me about that, I asked around and people told me that Miss Stern is in fact known for doing things like that, especially in this period, so I panicked, because I'm a real slouch and my grade is already awful, if it shrinks more I might even end up failing the subject and having to take summer classes after graduation.
Yes, yes, I know, the straight A student that graduates with a flaw ... I should ace every single test of every single subject, right? Well, no, because I don't understand Math, never have. The most I was able to get through were the so easy equations, but then the alphabet decided to join, spoiling all my efforts.
So when Eric yesterday sent me that message, after the panicky moment due to having to be alone with him, I gulped down my fears and accepted, and today we've worked harmonically, I even felt excited as I got to succeed in a few exercises. He's a very patient tutor, never gets mad, even if I ask him to explain the rule thousands of time.
In my defense, I'm not a dummy donkey, I just ... now and then got distracted, thinking of how sexy he looks when all serious and how I was so able to see his perfectly perfect muscles flexing at every movement when he took off his shirt ... ok, ok, those are sinful thoughts I should steer clear of, but ... well ... I do have eyes too and, as Jamie says, I am a girl too.
Eric pressed his lips, I bet not to smile or laugh, when he noticed my puzzled look. "Miss Stern does tend to give surprise tests in this period, but since kids know it already, she varies the week of the month." He explained, a very amused glint twinkling in his eyes, which made him even cuter. "In my defense, I know from reliable source that the test is gonna be the other week, but she tends to make them tough and since you're such a dummy ..."
Without thinking, I lightly slapped his arm as he said that, but jokingly. I faked a pout, crossing my arms, feeling oddly at ease with him now, well, like all the afternoon I have, because he was, just like last week, carefree, like he really didn't mind being with me, actually, like he was glad to be here with me alone.
Thoughts like this can make a girl blush, you know? So I tried not to think about it, still giving him a pouty look, but stopped when he stared at me intently, something odd lighting up in his eyes, so I quickly averted the attention by bringing up the Math test again, the most innocuous topic I could find: "If it's gonna be so tough, then I'm afraid you're stuck helping me all the week."
I tried to ignore the joyful glint in his eyes as I said that, as if he actually liked the idea of spending afternoons alone with me, teaching me Math.
In the end, he smirked. "I'm afraid not even a billion years would be enough, but ..." He moved aside when I raised my hand to slap his shoulder again and I swear, I saw him almost chuckling. Why the heck does he keep himself from it, I have no idea, but I hope I can get him to finally show me his deeper cute self at some point.
"No, ok, I can help you if you want. But you gotta listen to me carefully, not daydream while I'm explaining the rules." Normally I would have blushed, knowing he'd busted me, but, one, I was thankful he didn't realize I was lost ogling him, then, I was just content enough with his playful mood. So I rolled my eyes, trying hard not to smile, but my lips did twitch, inevitably, and I would have sworn that he kind of smiled too ... don't swoon, Natalie, don't swoon.
In the end, we agreed that we would meet three days next week, when I would either free myself from my work duties or we'd just meet at Fran's. I won't say that deep inside I kind of hoped for the first one, but ... well, I did, ok? For no reason other than the quietness of my house opposite to a crowded place, eh. Not because part of me wanted to remain alone with him, just to get more of the playful and cute boy, leaving the wicked bad boy out of the door ...