Chapter 22 - It's nothing
a/n: good news,I've finally reached that point where I have already written several chapters (those that were forward in time), which just need to be fixed,so updates can be more frequent.
bad news...exams are getting close,there are classes,so I will be a little busy. I promise to do my best,though ;)
let me know what you think ;)
CHAPTER 22 - IT'S NOTHING
A balcony. The full moon. No clouds in the sky. A breathtaking view in front of me. My hands were leaning on the balustrade and I was smiling ... smiling because I felt truly happy, like I never thought was possible. And when all of a sudden I felt arms around my waist, somebody nuzzling my neck, my smile widened and that happiness only increased.
I turned around and he pecked my lips. I could feel his smile even in our kiss. When my eyes fluttered open again, I gazed into his blues.
"I love you, Natalie."
I smiled as I pecked his lips. "I love you too, Eric."
"Eric? Wasn't it Kyle?" Somebody asked. I opened my eyes, confused, finding myself in my bed, my bedroom, the sun already up, its rays penetrating through my curtains. I was still confused but I did feel the weight of my bed shifting.
"How comes, just a couple of afternoons with the bad boy and you've already forgotten your precious angel?" A familiar voice asked.
Even if still asleep and confused by the dream, I looked up and grinned. "Jamie!" I exclaimed as I sat up immediately.
"No, Santa ..." She mocked, rolling her eyes, but I simply hugged her.
"What are you doing here?" I asked, still holding her and, actually, not really wanting to let her go, because I've missed her so badly! We spent Christmas together, because she came over, but it's been almost a month already so it's long!
She lightly moved back and grinned. "Well, Cole had some business here so I ... gently asked him to bring me with him." I grinned as well, knowing what she meant by that.
"Asked or ... pestered?" I pointed out and she huffed, waving her hand as she stood up.
"Well, you know I have my persuasive ways ..." She boasted as she walked towards the window while I better settled on bed, chuckling. I know she's probably burst her brother's eardrums with her babbling and he finally gave in.
"What's he doing here?" I asked as I stood up, stretching a little.
Jamie shrugged, sitting on my windowsill. "He said business, but I bet it's about a girl." She mused, arms and legs crossed, as I walked to my wardrobe.
"A girl?" I asked while fetching my clothes.
"Yeah, he's been strange lately. I think he met a girl last time we were here and they've been hearing from each other, 'cause, I mean, I've been seeing him talk a lot over the phone ..." She trailed off, telling me about her brother, who's three years older than us, so already in college, as I collected what I'd be wearing today, trying not to think of my dream.
I dreamed of Eric. And not just ... something random. I dreamed of us confessing our feelings to each other like it was the most normal thing to do, like we'd done that already and we were a ... stable couple.
What's odd is that, even while looking at him I knew it was Eric, he wasn't ... 18-years-old Eric, I mean ... he looked ... slightly older, enough to say he wasn't a teenager anymore but neither too old. He was ... 20-something, I think, and I guess so was I, which means ... I've dreamed of us, together, something like five years from now at least.
That's odd, to say the least. I mean, first, I don't ... like him like that. I like Kyle. This week I've spent it getting closer to him and I still like him, like ... for real.
I find Eric ... nice, well, he is nice with me lately, this week we've seen each other at Fran's, and he's helped me with Math, being as patient as I'd never imagined while trying to hammer some mathematical knowledge in my silly head, which, may I say, isn't at all easy, given my hatred towards the subject, but anyway, he's been nicer with me, not ... openly, I mean, we don't ... act on this ... odd sort of friendship we've built, well, we aren't at all friends, he just helps me with Math, but that's about all the contact we have. We do banter, within our usual limits, but we do banter and I feel more and more at ease with him. Even though, he is nice and cute with me, but then at school he's so cold and almost acts like I don't even exist, like he's ashamed of being seen with me ...
On Monday, we handed in our fairy tale, which I finished on my own on Friday, before the afternoon with Eric and all of that him peeking my flabby body or not thing. Mrs. Porter said she'd let us know whether it had been chosen for the recital or not by next week, but I can truly say this project changed my life. Because not only did I get close to my crush, but I also got to see with my eyes that in truth, the bad boy everybody fears isn't as heartless as they say.
Even though, my best friend, just as much as Aisha, keep repeating me that if he's known for being a jackass but with me is nice, that can only mean he ... likes me. I keep pushing back that idea, because I don't want to think about foolish possibilities that would spoil my moments with him by making me feel awkward. I just want to ... explore this sort of odd friendship we're building up, even if it truly exists only within the walls of my house or in the comfortable anonymity of Fran's.
I should probably feel offended that he might not want to be seen around me, but in truth, it's not like that, it's not that he truly ignores me, I mean, he does salute me when he sees me around, but he doesn't stop to chat like we kind of do when we're alone. I should probably ask him why, but then it'd spoil everything and ... well, no, I kind of feel comfortable with him like this. We're sort of friends, and I like it. Can't spoil it.
I yelped when I felt somebody pinching my arm and I straightened up, only to see Jamie frowning at me, arms crossed, clearly annoyed but also questioning. "Have you heard at least one word of what I've told you?" She wondered.
I grinned, trying to act innocent, because I was once again spacing out, so I have no idea what was she telling me and she knows that, which is why she rolled her eyes, huffing.
"Which one?" She asked, going back to the windowsill, and I frowned, confused.
"What?" I asked, tossing my jeans on bed, to reach for other clothes.
"Which one of them were you daydreaming of? Angel or Devil?" I blushed, my eyes widening, so I turned around to conceal it as I answered: "Uh ... none. I wasn't ..." I trailed off, but of course, she didn't fall for it.
"I haven't heard from you since a week, Natty. Is it possible that in a week you've forgotten all about your lovely angel and fell for ..."
"I have not fallen for Eric." I cut her off, standing straight in front of her. It's insane to think I could fall for him. Insane. I like being around him, I've come to like it because when we're alone he forgets his being the wicked wolf and acts like a normal teenager, but that doesn't mean I'm falling for him.
Kyle and I are getting closer and, despite knowing the obvious contradiction of being kind of friends with two guys that hate each other's guts, I can't just throw everything out of the window because I feel at ease with Eric now and I might or might not feel that ... bullshit. All nonsensical bullshit.
Jamie snorted. "Then, tell me, why were you admitting you love him?" My eyes widened as she said that. When did I ever admit that? I could never say that out loud because I don't feel it. I don't have it in me, why would I ever say it out loud?
"What?" I asked, perplexed, staring at her in utter shock.
Jamie rolled her eyes, sitting on the windowsill, arms crossed, as she explained: "You talk in your sleep, remember? When I came in you were saying I love you too, Eric. In such a dreamy tone that it looked like you were really, really happy."
I cleared my throat and was back to my wardrobe, trying to act nonchalant. Ok, I did dream of saying that, but I didn't realize I'd said it out loud. I do have this habit of sometimes talking in my sleep, but ... the dream was odd per se, even odder than the wet one I had a week ago, because that was justified by my sort of feeling the attraction, but this ... it felt like a premonitory dream, like in five, no, wait, seven years from now Eric and I would indeed be on that balcony, feeling as happy as ever, declaring our love for what it felt like the hundredth time, because it was so routinely ...
"Uh ... you must be mistaken, I wasn't ..." I started justifying, kind of lying, because while I didn't realize I was saying that out loud, I most probably did, because the dream was intense and when it is, I tend to talk, just like when Paula last week caught me moaning Eric's name as I had that wet dream about him.
"Natalie Penelope Watson, do not lie to me. I am your best friend." I grimaced at Jamie's tone, which is the one my mom uses when she's mad and Jamie has been mimicking it since we were 10 every time she gets cross with me.
"I am not lying ..." I justified, although weakly.
She huffed. "Yeah, and I'm Mother Teresa." I chuckled at that, but she looked serious, so I sighed, plopping on my bed, slumping my shoulders as I stared at the ground. "I don't know, okay? I don't know why did I dream of him. I just ... did."
She sat down beside me, wrapping her slender arm around my shoulders. "What exactly is happening between you and Mr. Bad Boy?" She asked.
I sighed. "Nothing. Really nothing." And it wasn't a lie. There's nothing between me and Eric. Gee, it's true that he's been being nicer, but he still scares me sometimes, especially when I see him at school, where he's so different from how he is when he's teaching me Math in my living room ...
Jamie looked at me in disbelief but I tried not to glance at her, knowing that her inquiring gaze would have me spill everything and I can't, not because I don't want to, but because I don't understand it myself.
I mean, I still like Kyle. Nothing has changed. Just because Eric is nicer to me, doesn't mean he likes me and just because, I am not afraid of him anymore, not that much at least, doesn't mean I like him.
He's just been helping me with Math. That's all. Our Creative Writing project is done and next week I'll probably have this surprise Math test, so I bet that after then I won't see him again.
I am still kind of frequenting Kyle even after the closure of our project, I mean, we've been talking more lately, mostly because he is a very loquacious type and one can't help but be captured, especially because he's so sweet ... so maybe we might be sort of friends (hopefully more too one day, if I'm lucky), but Eric ... Eric will be ignoring me after this, I'm sure.
Yet ... just as I thought that, my phone buzzed, signaling an incoming text. I stood up and reached for my Smartphone on my nightstand, unlocking it to read the message: I'll be a bit late today. Get started with exercises.
"Who is it?" Jamie asked, leaning back on my bed, and I looked up at her.
"Uh ... it's ... nothing, I mean ..." I replied, unsure, as I quickly typed a response to Eric, who's supposed to come help me with Math today too, since the test will most certainly be on Wednesday, as his "reliable source" says. What's this reliable source, I have no idea, but he says it's for sure, so ...
"Yeah, sure. Then why were you smiling?" Jamie asked, just as I'd sent a simple Ok, thank you to Eric. I looked up at my best friend, who was scrutinizing me like a detective would with a criminal. "What?" I asked back, confused.
"You were smiling. As soon as you read the message you smiled, quite happily too." She explained and my frown deepened. I wasn't smiling. I'd know it if I was smiling ... right?
"That's nonsense, I was ..." My phone buzzed in my hands and I glanced at the incoming text, which was from Eric again: Seriously, Watson. I'll check when I'm there, and if you've slacked off ... It should have scared me, but ... oddly, I felt amused, so I playfully replied: What? You'll punish me? Teachers can't do that ...
"You see? You're doing it again!" Jamie exclaimed, startling me, so I looked up from my phone just as I'd sent the message.
"What?" I asked, confused. She stood up, coming to me, so that I instinctively hid my phone, knowing she'd want to check my messages. Technically, she could, I mean, I've got nothing to hide and certainly not to my best friend, and yet ... yet, I didn't really want her to know what Eric and I were writing to each other, especially because, now it hit me, maybe my last message sounded a little ... flirtatious ... but I wasn't flirting with him ... right? I mean, I don't even know how to flirt.
"You were smiling at your phone again." Jamie stated, now right in front of me, face to face, arms crossed as she studied me. "And a girl smiles at her phone like that only when it's a boy texting her." She implied.
I rolled my eyes. She's overreacting, like always. "I smile when I text you too." I argued, but she snorted.
"That doesn't count." She grinned. "I know you love me."
This time I rolled my eyes as she gave me her kitty-cat look, the one she gives boys to flirt and her brother to get what she wants. Cole and I are a little similar in this, we always give in to her wishes, because she's so damn persuasive sometimes ...
My phone buzzed once more and I let out a light chuckle, knowing, by instinct, that it was Eric. In fact ... I'm your tutor. I am allowed to punish, so be careful, kiddo ...
I knew he was joking. Normally he doesn't, but I knew he was just playing a little. Only two weeks ago I would have shivered, thinking he was serious, but now I knew he was just joking, because, like I said, I know he'd never hurt me. Not physically at least.
Jamie pinched my arm and I yelped. "What was that for?" I grumbled, rubbing my injured skin.
"You keep smiling and smiling and you won't tell me who makes you smile like that." She complained, pouting, which she does when batting her eyelashes doesn't work.
I sighed, rolling my eyes, although typing a response to Eric: Then if you can punish me, you can also reward me. What's my reward for doing my homework? Ok, maybe that was a little flirty ... hope he didn't take it seriously. Gee, I don't know what's gotten into me.
"It's really nothing, just ..." I giggled as my phone buzzed in my hands once more. Not ... because I knew it was Eric, well, I knew it was him, but it's just that the buzzing tickled me and ... I'm not really credible, am I? It's just fun to have ... one more friend to talk to, that's all. Although, Eric and I aren't friends. Not ... exactly, I think.
Mmh ... let's see ... you get one wish granted if your exercises are ALL correct Jamie lightly pushed me as I read the message.
"What?" I asked, confused.
"You're giggling." She accused. I frowned. I wasn't ... was I? And even if I was, it was just amusing to joke with him, that's all.
"I am not ..." I defended, moving away from Jamie, knowing she'd want to check my phone. I sat on the windowsill as I typed my response to Eric: That's not fair. You know they'll be pretty much all wrong :(
"Natty, come on ... tell me." Jamie whined just as I'd sent the message. I looked up at her.
"It's just Eric, we ..." She squealed before I could better explain, and then started babbling nonsense about me being lucky and so on, therefore I just checked my inbox: They won't be. I'm an awesome tutor. I chuckled silently as I read his message, while my best friend kept blabbing I don't know what, most probably something about her being right, that he does indeed like me and I like him too but don't want to admit it and so on ... all things she's been repeating over and over already.
I'm an awful pupil, though ... I responded to Eric, leaving my best friend to her silly babbling.
You've improved He replied and I smiled.
Yeah, you're getting better ... slightly, but better
Whatever. Get started with homework.
I chuckled to myself, even while knowing I was being quite silly and I shouldn't so lightheartedly play with him because, I mean, we are not friends and this could be taken as flirting but we aren't and ... oh, whatever.
It's nice to have somebody other than my best friend and Aisha to joke with, better said, it was nice to play with a boy. I do with Kyle too sometimes, well, more often with Kyle, because he makes it easier, but I bet that in person I wouldn't be so at ease with playing with Eric. It's fun nevertheless.
I yelped when Jamie kicked my ankle. "What?" I asked, moving my phone to the safety of my pajama pants pocket, just to avoid her nosing.
"I won't let you move till you tell me everything about this thing between you and Eric Hotness Personified Rivers." I chuckled, especially at the nickname, but she pouted, so I explained her everything about Eric helping me with Math, me finding him a little less scary because he was nicer with me and so on.
In the end, Jamie awed, sitting on my bed, thunderstruck. I chuckled, knowing she was exploiting her acting skills with me. Oh, Jamie is studying to become an actress and after high school will move to Los Angeles to go to the Actors' Studio, well, try to get admitted.
"I know what you're going to say, but ..."
"But I'm right." She interrupted me.
I chuckled, shaking my head. "No, not at all. We aren't friends neither ... we are really nothing to each other. He's just helping me with Math, after then I won't hear from him again."
"Hear? You mean you guys text each other too?" I blushed, pressing my lips, as I thought of those messages we'd just exchanged that looked so flirtatious ...
"No, we don't. He simply helps me with Math." Jamie gave me a disbelieving look, so I rolled my eyes. "Seriously. It's just that. I mean, at school he doesn't even approach me. We just meet at Fran's to study, although a couple of times it was here and ..."
"Here?" Jamie interrupted me and I sighed, knowing exactly what was she getting at.
"Yes, here. Get your mind off dirty thoughts, Jay, we just ..."
"Does Penelope know?"
"That Eric is helping me with Math? Yes, she ..."
"No ... that her teenage daughter spends her afternoons alone at home with such a hot and very well known player as Eric Rivers is." I snorted at that. He's not a player ... well, ok, he kind of ... sleeps around, or, at least, he's known to be sleeping around, but that doesn't mean he ... wait, why am I defending him? It's not my concern if he sleeps around. We are really nothing other than possibly tutor and pupil.
"Eric and I do nothing other than study Math when we're alone." I stated, but Jamie snorted, not believing me. Of course she doesn't, she always assumes a boy will make a move towards whatever girl when they're alone, just because boys do that with her, but she just doesn't realize that I am not Eric's type and he doesn't have the least interest in me. Not in that sense anyway, just like I am not interested in him like that. I still like Kyle, for God's sakes.
"You mean you guys haven't done anything ... yet." Jamie corrected me. I rolled my eyes, standing up from the windowsill to go take a shower, also because it was 10 am already and since Eric would be here by 3 pm and to me it takes quite a while to get through at least one Math exercise, I better get started this morning already, or at least immediately after lunch.
Before walking to the bathroom, I concluded once for all the discussion: "Nothing has happened and nothing will happen between me and Eric. I can assure you that, Jay."
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