The Angel,The Devil,The Nerd

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Chapter 39 - Confessions

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CHAPTER 39 - CONFESSIONS

NATALIE'S POV

I stared at my mom in utter shock. She didn't just say what I think she just said, did she? She gave me one of her reassuring smiles, probably seeing I was panicking. And I had every right to! I mean, ok, she had every right to be mad because she found her teenage daughter lying on bed with her boyfriend, but she didn't really have to already come out with things like "you and I need to have a little talk", directed at Eric, of course. Yeah, she said she wanted to meet him if our thing lasted two weeks at least, but that would have been a programmed thing! Not a downright assault.

Probably feeling I was tense, Eric, still beside me, still keeping me in his arms, gently caressed my arm up and down in that soothing manner only he knows how to pull off, therefore I looked at him and he smiled calmly, slightly winking at me before turning to look ahead, where my mother still stood.

He gave her a sweet smile, one of those he reserves to me only, and even though it might have come out as sneaky, it was really sincere and I could see it in mom's eyes that she was indeed impressed by his charm already. And, may I tell you, my mother is not one to be easily impressed.

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Watson, didn't mean to violate your ... uh ... curfew. We just ... found ourselves in deep into the movie and we fell asleep." He spoke the truth, well, sugaring it a little, but that was the whole truth, so that when mom looked at me for a confirm, I could easily smile and nod. She frowned a little, her arms still crossed, her expression all but glad, yet in the end she heaved a big sigh and nodded, but ...

"You have three minutes to straighten up. Then reach me in the living room." She ordered and, even if reluctantly, I moved to stand up, but she prevented me: "Take all the time you need, Natalie."

"But you just said ..."

Eric beside me chuckled lightly, who knows why, and ruffled my hair as he sat up. "She wants just me, princess." He explained and I turned around, confused, so he took the chance to place a gentle and tender kiss on my forehead. I know that normally he would have gone for the lips or a cheek at least, but with my mother right there, already sort of on war foot, it wasn't really wise to endure in tender moments.

When Eric stood up, mom left, restating that he had three minutes only, which I bet was not to let us linger in dangerous couple moments anymore, and, it added tension to the whole thing. Once she was gone, I groaned out of exasperation, sitting straight and letting my feet dangle out of bed. Eric was already up and was just fixing his wrinkled clothes.

I know it shouldn't be such a drama, but it's still my mother talking solo with my boyfriend, my first boyfriend, to be precise. That boyfriend I am so quickly falling for and who just yesterday confessed he loves me. So yeah, pardon me if I'm a little anxious. Especially considering that I can't sneak up because my mother knows me all too well and would bust me instantly. Therefore I'm gonna have to champ at the bit till they're over and then torment Eric to know.

I sighed, quite dejectedly. Eric came to me and, bending down a little, he cupped my cheeks as he smiled reassuringly while gently pecking my lips. "It's gonna be fine." He reassured me lowly, then chuckled. "I know parents normally don't like me, but your mother seems cool. She might be different."

"It's not that." I grumbled as I stood up, willingly getting rid of his grip, but only to open up his arms and sink in his warm hug as I rested my head on his chest.

Half smiling, Eric quickly picked up on my trail and wrapped his arms around me, placing a gentle kiss on my hair. "I'm sure she's not gonna murder me without witnesses."

I snorted at that. "You don't know her. She seems all nice and innocent, but she's tough."

He chuckled, once more kissing my hair. "Yeah, I figured. After all, you had to take after someone." My eyes snapped to him and I looked at him confused, but he just grinned, pecking my lips as he gently stroked my cheeks with his thumbs. "You think I don't know what a badass my princess can be? I mean, she even faced this jerk in the middle of the hall while anybody else would have been frightened to even approach him." He commented as he brought my head back on his chest and I giggled, better encircling my arms around him, just to feel him closer and to, unconsciously, keep him there with me.

"Yeah, I never apologized for that." I mentioned. Actually, now that I recall, I never told him anything about that. I just blew up on him because I was furious and I didn't bother about anything, not even if he could possibly smash me against the lockers and tear me into pieces for simply daring backtalk to him. Well, now I know he wouldn't do that, and even back then something told me he wouldn't hit me, but I wasn't that sure, so I risked it. Simply because a friend of mine had been hurt and I couldn't reason anymore.

Kyle later on complimented me for my nerve, saying that, apart from him, no one in that school had ever had the guts to face Eric Rivers like that, and the last one that had, was a newbie fresh come from New York, so he thought he was tough and all ... how wrong he was.

As Kyle told me, the boy ended up having to be rescued from the janitor because he'd been closed inside a locker. Kyle amusedly commented that people who passed by knew he was in there, but none of them dared help him, in fear of being then on the receiving hand of the bad boy's fury. This was on sophomore year apparently.

So, the point is, to have survived to a face-to-face with Mr. Intimidating here, have been only Kyle and I. Me, my friend says, I survived only because, one, Eric doesn't hit girls, two, he's always had a soft spot for me, which of course, Kyle admitted only once he knew the bad boy and I were a couple.

He didn't tell me how comes he's always survived to their matches, just said there ought to be someone that stood up to him, considering that even those beefy jocks that boasted of their muscles here and there didn't have the slightest bit of courage to ever face Eric. Although, truth to be told, it's not like there was ever need of someone saving us all from his tyranny because, dreaded bad boy? Yes. Bully? Nah, never. He just frightens everybody with his intimidating stance added to his not so flattering reputation.

Anyhow, the point is, I never apologized for being so rude with him.

Eric chuckled, leaning his cheek on my hair as he hugged me better. "No need, princess. You just defended a friend." I grinned at his indirect compliment, but then he cleared his throat. "A friend you dreamed of being with, but ... that's history, I guess."

I frowned, looking up at him, but then I barely kept the grin as I beheld his grim expression. "Are you jealous, Rivers?" I teased and he rolled his eyes.

"Of course I am. We fought because of that, remember?" He gripped me tightly, so much that I was squeezed against him. "I am very jealous, baby. In fact, I might even say I am possessive when it comes to my princess."

I chuckled. "Possessive, huh? So you'll beat up whatever boy that dares approach me?" I teased, although giving him a semi-dirty look, daring him to say yes.

Eric smirked, his thumb tracing my bottom lip, so that my mouth opened slightly. He seemed transfixed on that spot for a long moment and then he finally replied: "I don't need to." He smirked smugly and yet softly. "As soon as our thing is brought to light, there won't be a single male soul that dares hit on you. Especially not when I'm around."

I gave him a disbelieving look but he just smiled more openly and bent down a little. "I should probably go, before your mom comes back with a rifle." He commented jokingly before pressing his lips on mine. I lingered in that more than due, actually, gripping his t-shirt to delay him, but in the end we parted, conscious that the three minutes were up already and mom was downstairs waiting.

Sinfully, I'll admit that I did grin, biting the corner of my bottom lip as I admired my boyfriend walking away, my eyes lingering much more down than his shoulders ... to delete such thoughts, I hurried to the shower, which was of no use, considering I kept thinking of how his large hands felt on me.

In the end, I admitted it to myself: I am adult. I have those needs. I want it. And I want it with Eric. But it gotta be memorable. Our first time ought to be perfectly perfect.

***

ERIC'S POV

Inhaling deeply, I stepped into the living room. She was sitting on the sofa, legs crossed, looking quite calm and natural, which I'll admit, agitated me more, because if she looked mad, then maybe I'd know what to expect, but like that ... it was like the peace before the storm. If Natalie has taken after her, I can serenely believe this woman is definitely much more feisty than what she seems.

I'm not afraid. Just ... anxious. It's my girlfriend's mother after all. My one and only true love's mother, to be precise. So I guess I gotta make an impression because she might want to row against our relationship if she doesn't like me and, for how much she technically can't put a veto, considering Natalie is a major, unlike me my princess has a great relationship with her mother, for what I know, therefore I wouldn't want to ruin their bond.

Sensing I was behind her, she turned around slowly and smiled sweetly at me, which once more reminded me of how much my baby resembles her. In pretty much everything. From the eyes to the hair, to the stance and even the way they talk. It's like they're sisters more than mother and daughter.

She quietly hinted at the armchair across from her, so I walked to it, ashamedly relieved that apparently there wasn't a Mr. Watson living with them. I'm not good with parents. The one I've faced, they threw me out or wanted to blow my head off for having spoiled their little girls, which is funny because I perfectly remember having had one virgin only.

That time was a bit of a dirty trick, I'll admit. I mean, she was my brother's girlfriend back then. In my defense, I saw her crying because she'd fought with him, I tried consoling her, she said she wanted revenge on him. And who was I to deny that? Hey, I'm no saint, guys.

Anyhow, once I was sitting, Natalie's mother stared intently at me, which had me feel as little as only years ago, back to when I couldn't defend myself, I used to feel. The scrutinizing gaze this woman held was enough to agitate even the most badass man, I swear. Especially because there was this severe calmness in her gaze. Like she was a volcano just waiting for the right time to erupt and destroy everything.

Clearing my throat and actually shifting on my seat a little, I grazed the back of my neck and justified: "Um ... Mrs. Watson, I am ... sorry for the little mishap upstairs, but ... I can assure you ..."

"It's Miss." I frowned as she cut me off.

"Uh?"

She smiled tightly as she dusted off invisible dirt from her long skirt, then went back to clasping her hands together on her knees, eyes on that spot. "It's Miss Watson. Natalie didn't tell you? I am not married to her father."

"Oh ..." Well, now it's clear why doesn't he live with them ... I guess Natalie planned on telling me later on, when we'd be discussing every detail of our lives. We're just at the very beginning after all, no need to rush. Besides, I know I'm her very first boyfriend. She'll want to take it calmly. And I mean in every sense. So, too bad for little me down there, lots of cold showers ahead.

Natalie's mother gave me another tight smile as she looked up to meet my eyes. "It's a long story and not the right moment to recount it." She quickly cut it, waving her hand, then she better focused on me and inhaled deeply, which had me thinking, inevitably here we go, the sermon ... but she seemed to have read my mind, because her lips twitched slightly as her penetrating hazel eyes that are the exact same as her daughter's stared me down.

"I don't think I need to list you all the rules, do I? I mean, you don't need me to remind you that I want you to treat my daughter right. You seem ... reliable." I did notice she paused and checked me upside down before saying reliable, but I'll blame it on her knowing about my reputation, in fact ...

"Let's cut it short." She stated. "I know who you are, better said, what are you seen as. I know rumors about you aren't very ... encouraging neither flattering. And I do hope I don't make a mistake when I say I believe Natalie when she says they're all lies." I blinked my eyes, confused. I know Kyle explained to Natalie about a good part of the rumors about me being invented, but I didn't know she'd told her mother. I guess it was to calm her down.

"I will not dwell on why do you behave like apparently you do. All I need and expect from you is to be a decent and respectful boy when you are around my daughter." I nodded, simply because she kind of narrowed her eyes at me, like telling me to confirm her words.

"Natalie puts a lot of trust in you. She relies on you. And, let me tell you, that's not something she normally does. Yes, she easily opens up when poked and when she feels like the person is worth it. But growing up knowing her father had dropped her before she was even born made her doubt and she tends to believe that everybody leaves at some point." Oh. So that's it.

He left before she was even born. I guess we can relate. Even though, my story is a little bit more complicated. I never knew her father had abandoned her, but it explains a lot of things, starting from her gripping me tightly when on last Monday she feared I could leave her. I guess it took a toll on her, even if she pretends it didn't. After all, that's tough to digest. Especially at such a young age. I know something about it, don't I? Although I'm sure her mother was much gentler than mine when she told her.

Miss Watson sighed, staring down at her shoes for a moment, then continued: "She won't say it, but I know that Jamie leaving also undermined her self-esteem. Because she was left alone while she had been used to being always with her best friend."

Duh, I know that. I know that since Jamie left, Natalie has locked herself in her little shell, barely ever coming out. Not that before she was more open, but her best friend is quite a spicy type so she brought her out of that safe nook. Then at the end of last year Natalie was left alone and since September she'd been walking around like a ghost, clearly trying to be invisible.

At least till January, when all that project thing happened and she appeared on my brother's radar, then she was seen talking with me and him and people started noticing her. Finally, that girl, Aisha, arrived, and I'm glad because they get along pretty well.

The woman looked up and fixed her penetrating hazel eyes on me once more, giving me a both dirty and warning look as she spoke: "So you will understand she would be hurt if you broke her trust."

I gulped down my saliva, knowing what she meant, and I felt like defending myself, because she might be thinking I was only a horny boy trying to take her daughter to bed: "I ..."

But she held up a hand, shaking her head, therefore silencing me. "I don't need you to profess me the infinite love you feel for my daughter, Eric." My eyes widened. How the hell does she ...

She grinned, for the first time contently, as she explained: "It is perfectly clear, dear. One just needs to see how you look at her. Your princess, as you apparently like to call her. It's not a circumstantial nickname, I can tell that by the tone of your voice."

The tone of my voice? Kyle too says he can read on my face that I'm smitten, but I always thought it was because he's my brother and despite everything he knows how to read through me, but apparently I'm not as deadpanned as I thought.

Which brings up the question, how comes Natalie pretty much fell from the clouds when she found out how I felt towards her? Oh, no, wait, that's just her being the lovely scatter-minded girl she is.

I couldn't help but smile as I thought of her. It happens every damn time she's in my mind, especially now that we're together.

Miss Watson grinned as she probably noticed my smile and I lowered my glance, my ears slightly reddening in embarrassment. I'm not used to being soul-bared, so open about my feelings. It's a risk you can't take when you grow up in my environment. And yet Natalie's mother seemed to be able to read me like an open book. So I guess this was just to convince her once for all of my intentions with her daughter but she knew already I was serious, I suppose.

Inhaling deeply, she leaned back on the sofa, legs still crossed, now crossing her arms over her chest too. "I know you are serious with my daughter, Eric. And somehow I also know that you are as misjudged as she says you are."

I nodded, kind of wanting to ratify her words and convince her I'm not the nth prick faking a whole relationship just to get laid. If I wanted that, I would have tried to seduce Natalie much ago.

The woman's stern look did make me gulp, though, all of a sudden. "But that doesn't mean I won't warn you, boy." She stated. "Natalie grew up fatherless, only her uncle played such role for her to some extents. So she will need a man to rely on, even if she doesn't want to admit it. Hence, we're back at the beginning, Eric."

She arched an eyebrow at me, as a matter of warning. "My daughter relies on you. She will believe every promise you make. She will trust you, whatever you say or do. It's up to you not to disappoint her."

"I ..."

"She is weaker than she wants to admit, Eric. And the more she cares, the more she will be hurt if your disappoint her." The woman slightly raised her voice, clearly heated by the discussion. "I will not tolerate anyone hurting my only daughter. You understand?" I nodded, retaining the childish need to respond with a "yes,  Ma'am".

"Natalie is all I have and I do not want to see her crying over a man like her mother did. Therefore, can I trust you to be loyal and respectful towards my daughter? Can you promise me you will do everything that is in your power not to ever hurt her? It might happen anyway, but I want you to promise to do your best not to let it."

I inhaled deeply and closed my eyes, knowing she was done talking, so it was my turn now. I leaned in, clasping my hands together, and when I reopened them, I fixed my eyes on the woman, just to let her know I was sincere: "I understand your worries. And I can't promise I will not hurt her, because that might not be in my power." I sighed. "You see, I live a ... particular situation." She frowned, clearly worried, so I prevented her questions: "Something you don't need to worry about. Keep calm."

I took a deep breath. With the corner of my eyes I saw Natalie sitting at the edge of the stairs in the hall, peeking into the living room, which had me crack a small smile and slightly raise my voice, wanting her to clearly hear what I had to say to her mother: "I love your daughter. With all my heart. I know it might seem fake because we've been dating since ten days only more or less, but the thing is, I have been loving Natalie since I first set my eyes on her. And it happened almost ten years ago." I couldn't help but smile lightly as I reminisced.

I looked up. "You see, she brought light into my life. Into my heart. And now that I am with her, believe me, I am the happiest being on Earth. I will not spoil this chance. I want to make her the happiest girl in this world. I want to give her everything she needs and deserves."

I took a deep breath, a dangerous lump already forming in my throat, so I closed my eyes for a moment and inhaled deeply before going on: "As long as it's up to me, Natalie will only be happy. Because breaking her heart would shatter mine as well. Because ... this, here ..." I patted my chest, hinting at my own powerful muscle right in the middle. "... this here belongs to her and her only. And it always will."

I quirked up my lips into a sort of amused smile. "Yeah, I know, I'm just 18, I cannot have such strong beliefs already. But trust me, no one and nothing has been ever able to take my corrupted heart away from her, no one and nothing was ever able to loosen that tight grip she has on me, and no one and nothing ever will. I know that for a fact. Because it's been almost ten years and I've ... yeah, I've hurt myself loving her unrequitedly all this time, therefore what I feel, it's forever. It will last even after I'm long gone."

I closed my eyes, feeling something powerful in the pit of my stomach, something that menaced to burn me inside out at the idea that that could be possible ... but I stared into the woman's eyes as I spoke: "Believe me, if we'll ever separate, it will only be because it wasn't in my power to do else. And, my heart will bleed just as much as she will be hurt. Every tear falling down her rosy cheeks will be my heart losing a drop of blood. Because I love Natalie with all my corrupted being and my existence is worth it only if she is beside me."

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