The Angel,The Devil,The Nerd

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Chapter 44 - Trust Issues

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CHAPTER 44 - TRUST ISSUES

NATALIE'S POV

I spent the whole morning trying to ignore all the curious looks from my peers. Everywhere I go, there is somebody gaping at me like I'm the most interesting thing ever happened in here. Considering that my boyfriend is pretty known, and whatever he does, it's news, this will be quite an interesting week.

Besides, considering that Dana hasn't really hidden her glares at me, rumors are already spreading that she wants my head on a silver plate. They all just assume she's on the war footing with me because she's one of those girls that's always had a crush on Eric, but apparently nobody knows they have been together, which I guess irks her more, I mean ... he never really wanted her, just used her, saying he doesn't do relationships, then out of the blue she finds out he's dating me ...

Lucky thing I had no other classes with her. I've pretty much run from a classroom to another like there was someone hot on my tail all morning. Aisha says I'm a chicken, I should just face the bitch once for all. I say I will, if she comes for me, I will face Dana, I just ... need some extra courage. That's all. She's been my nightmare for years, I've been relatively calm only during high school, but as for the rest, she's been the not physical but equally venomous version of a bully for me. Not a true bully in the literal sense, but still ... so I need an extra dose of courage to face her.

Which is why, once my last class before lunch was over, I all but dashed out to run to the cafeteria, but I'd barely made a couple of steps out of class that I was yanked back. Someone had grabbed my arm and before I knew it I was facing a hard chest ... yeah, why didn't I figure it out earlier. Who else could it have been? Well, I'll admit that, in the suddenness of the movement, I yelped and kind of feared Dana had decided to go out of her way and get physical with me, but that was quite a stupid thought, she's finer than that. She makes you cry with words, not punches.

Anyhow, all my thoughts were thrown out of the window as soon as some full pink lips crashed on mine, strong arms wrapped around me. Yes, I was blindly making out with a stranger in the middle of the hall. Cool, huh? No, I'd never do that, obvious. It was even more obviously Eric.

I could feel eyes on us, to which I'll have to get used, I guess, but I didn't care, just lost myself in that moment. For once, the position was even reversed, considering it was him to have his back against the wall while I was all over him. Well, ok, that sounded really dirty, but ... you get it, don't you?

I let my hands travel to his hair, entangling them in it, as our kiss seemed never-ending, but in the end our lips parted, only for Eric to place a kiss on my cheek, whispering sweetly, and yet in that sexy husky voice: "I missed you."

I grinned, pressing myself better against him to whisper the same. Gee, sometimes we're so cheesy ... somehow, we managed to move from the wall and head to the cafeteria, hand in hand, of course, his arm wrapped around me, this time nobody daring to stare shamelessly at me. In front of the cafeteria, we found Aisha and Kyle waiting for us.

They were pretty taken by their chit-chatter and something sparked in my mind, so, while we were still far, I took the chance to ask Eric: "Do you know if he likes anybody?"

Ok, that was a very bad question to ask your boyfriend, especially when it was about a boy you'd been crushing on for years ... I realized it was when Eric gave me a confused and pretty alarmed look. I grinned angelically, explaining that I thought Kyle and Aisha made a cute couple, so maybe, if he was available ...

Eric laughed, wondering how comes now I played Cupid, and I stuck out my tongue to him, saying I just thought our friends would be cute together. It's true that Aisha told me she likes this other boy, but if he's so taken by his friend and that girl is in a serious relationship, it'd be a silly spiral Aisha should really get out of till she can. If he's into this other girl, he's gonna be mourning over her all the time, I bet.

Gee, I've been being in a relationship since three weeks only and I already feel like a love expert. Wow. How things change. And how things change for real ... because only a few months ago, I would have dined alone, Kyle being with his popular circle, Eric ... well, I have honestly no idea where, and Aisha back in LA. Yet now look at us. I was sliding through the queue, despite the curious looks, all wrapped up in Eric's arms while Kyle and Aisha were ahead of us, chatting between them and with us.

A few months ago, Kyle and Eric would have jumped at each other's throat after barely a few minutes of being face to face, now they sat across from each other and they chatted and laughed together as if they'd all of a sudden become the best of friends. Wow. They even talked about how they had fun during the weekend they've spent together, told us about how many fishes they caught ...

Kyle faked a scowl as he recounted us about how Eric, while he was leaning in to see if he could spot anything in the deep water, pushed him and made him fall in there, said he came out soaked and full with seaweeds and he cursed against him, but both Eric and his father were cracking up. In a word, they had fun.

People around us seemed completely baffled. They were studying our table as if we were odd animals. But I can understand. I mean, let alone me and Eric dating being the hot news of the week, now the two hottest boys in school, those two who could barely be in the same room for a few minutes without wrestling, were not only sitting peacefully across from each other and having lunch together, but they were also enjoying each other's company! Our peers probably thought there was something in their drinks to make them like that. Yet what caught my eye was Aisha gazing at Kyle with an odd smile on her lips ...

She laughed at his jokes, and that's fair, I did too, but she seemed to be watching him with a peculiar interest ... unable to resist, while Kyle and Eric were busy discussing who was a better fisherman between them, I lightly kicked my friend's ankle, so that she turned to me and I silently questioned her. She blushed! Aisha never blushes. She's as extrovert as it can get. Since when does she blush?

It was all explained when she quickly typed something on her phone and a moment later I received a text from her: don't be mad, Cookie. I think I like Kyle. Really. I was a bit shocked, but in the end I grinned at her, typing her my response: then go for it! tell him! She shook her head and I recalled her telling me that she likes this friend of his that is in a ... no, wait. I am clueless, ok, but it can't be ... I frowned, looking at her, and as if she'd just read my mind, she nodded. Duh, no way ... I've been wanting this for years and now ... it might be another friend of his, not necessarily it's ...

I looked in between the boys, who seemed to particularly enjoy their talk, I mean, they were laughing together, which is a really new sight for me too. Then I gazed at Kyle ... does he seriously ... Aisha sent me another text, confirming my idea: don't be surprised. he confessed ... he has a crush on you.

I gulped, audibly even, in fact Eric quickly turned to me, giving me a questioning and worried look. I shook my head, but then I glanced at Kyle, who was giving me the same look and I felt a little ... confused. No, not about my feelings. About our friendship. I mean, I've liked Kyle for years, then we became friends and before we could be more, I literally fell into his ex archenemy's arms ... it's true that he asked me out, but we settled things between us and we're friends ... duh, think about it, Natalie, what did he say when you talked about it? I tried to win but I couldn't. Always so clueless I am.

If I'd better listened, I guess I would have read between the lines ... but he knows I'm with Eric and we love each other while me and him are just friends and he's ok with it, so I guess he's at rest with his heart. Maybe I should talk to him ...

I yelped when I felt Eric pinching my arm and I turned to him, frowning, but he simply chuckled, and so did Kyle and Aisha. In the end, normality came back, well, our new normality, even though, my boyfriend did pretend to be nuzzling my cheek while asking what was wrong, but I smiled truthfully at him, saying every was fine and I was just thinking. I guess there isn't a problem, I might just talk to Kyle and settle things. Easy.

"Eric, mom says if you wanna come over for dinner tonight." Kyle informed him while seemingly being distracted by his apple. That wasn't truly surprising, after all, they've gone fishing together and they seem to be really friends now, or at least they tried to be.

What took me completely off guard was Eric's response: "Mmh ... I guess yeah, but wasn't dad out of town?"

"Dad?" I blurted out without thinking. Both boys widened their eyes, kind of cursing, as they knew they'd let out something pretty important. Now, Eric calling Kyle's father dad ... I'm not stupid, the answer is only one, but the question here it's not what does that mean, it's why did neither of them tell me. I guess nobody knows, but aren't I trustworthy for them?

Aisha seemed just as baffled as I was as she looked in between them. Kyle grazed the back of his neck, mumbling things I bet neither did he understand, while Eric turned completely to me, opening his mouth to say something, but I prevented him: "You two are brothers?"

A bit flustered, grazing the back of his neck, he nodded. I narrowed my eyes at him, at both. "Why didn't you tell me?"

Eric was about to respond, but Kyle prevented him: "Nat, we kept it a secret. Nobody knows." He explained that that's the reason why they never got along, because their father abandoned Eric's mother when he was very little because his ex secretary, with whom he'd had an affair from which Kyle was born.

They kept it a secret because neither of them wanted to acknowledge the fact that they were brothers, but then things changed, most of all, their father became more insistent about his wanting to know about Eric and in the end he wanted to meet him, so they've been building up their family bond since a few weeks already.

A few weeks. We were together already when all of this happened and Eric didn't tell me anything. I guess he didn't trust me enough, did he?

Once Kyle was done with his explanations, I quietly grabbed my things and moved to go away. Eric grabbed my arm, apologizing, saying he didn't mean to lie to me, it's just that ... "It's connected to things about me and my past that you don't know and ... I was just trying to put it altogether to tell you. I just didn't know how, but really, I wanted to tell you."

I inhaled deeply. Part of me knew he had his reasons, but it still hurt that he wouldn't trust me enough to tell me such a thing. It's not like he simply found a puppy on the street and he's keeping it. He is, well, they, my boyfriend and my friend are telling me that they've been keeping such a big secret as the fact that they're brothers is, they've been keeping it from me. As if they didn't trust me enough. It hurts.

Therefore I ignored Eric, giving myself time only to inform them I was heading to class, then I stormed off, slowing down only to throw away my leftovers.

I know, maybe I was irrational, but I just want them, and especially Eric, to know that it hurts to be kept in the dark by someone you trust so blindly. That's all. I mean, I don't claim he tells me everything at once, I just want to know he trusts me as much as I trust him. Do I ask too much?

***

ERIC'S POV

Great, not even a month and I'm already fucking up everything with her. This is already the second time we fight and she walks off, not wanting to hear me or see me. This time I know I'm guilty, though. I mean, I should have told her sooner, I guess.

But I thought it could wait. There were many other things to take care of and we were just at the beginning ... besides, I couldn't quite tell her that without mentioning the rest, so I was just waiting for the right moment, putting together the right words ...

Kyle disagreed, though. As soon as she went away, followed by Aisha, who took the time to point out her disappointment as well before going, my brother cursed, saying it was our fault, we should have told her, not kept it a secret, because now she thinks we don't trust her.

I didn't reply, just grabbed my things and headed out, knowing he'd follow me. We have Creative Writing now, so I guess we can take advantage of that project to convince Natalie to listen to both of us.

Therefore we both headed out of the cafeteria, strolling towards class. When we entered, we found Natalie, even if grudgingly, sitting at the back of the class, where we three usually sit for that project, of which I couldn't care less, honestly. Actually, I may as well tell you I took this course simply because I knew she'd be here and I could see her. I had an empty spot in my schedule, so I decided I'd just fill it with something easy and enjoyable.

Now, her sitting there meant that maybe she was already set on giving us, especially giving us, a chance to explain. The teacher hadn't arrived yet, and considering we were early from lunch, there were only a couple of kids in there. Kyle and I both reached Natalie and sat at her sides, as usual.

She crossed her arms over her chest, leaning back on her chair and hinting us to talk. My brother and I gaped at each other to see who should go first, but in the end we opted for letting her choose. She picked Kyle, indirectly implying that forgiving me might be harder because I'm her boyfriend while he's just a friend. I guess she feels more the betrayal from me.

Clasping his hands together on the desk, Kyle started explaining what he'd told me: that he found out when he moved here, but he didn't like the idea, because his father all of a sudden seemed so interested in this other kid, almost neglecting him for that reason and so on.

In the end, he admitted he'd been a huge asshole, always doing his best to wrong me, which, ashamedly admitted, making me smirk, always ended up badly for him, because we'd fight and, much to his shame, he admitted, I'm stronger than him and have always caused more damage. Even though, I know that it's not about strength here, I am simply more used to fighting for my life. That's all.

Once he was done, Natalie nodded, never changing expression, arms always crossed over her chest, and turned to me expectantly. She had on such a deadpanned mask ... if I didn't know her, I'd think she couldn't care less, but in truth, I know that she was just wearing a mask, to shield her true emotions from us. Emotions like feeling betrayed and hurt and disappointed.

Hence, swiftly but gently, I grabbed her hand, which she wanted to retrieve but kept there, and I explained her my reasons: "There are things in my life, things you don't know about. I just thought I'd tell you about Kyle and I once I'd settled everything like I have now. I wanted to find the right words."

I leaned in. "You see, only in the last weeks I've come to have contacts with my father, but before then, before Kyle convinced me to go talk to them, I had lived with the certainty that my father had abandoned me because he didn't want me ..."

She squeezed my hand and I could see the slightest hint of a tear in her eyes, so I quit talking, asking if she was ok ... she nodded, but pressing her lips, so I pressed her, and she admitted: "It's just that I can relate. I mean ... my biological father abandoned me before I was even born."

That let both me and Kyle wide-eyed and mouth opened. That her mother didn't marry her father, I knew, Miss Watson told me, but I had no idea he'd left them like that ... even with a clear lump in her throat, Natalie, while squeezing my hand, looking at me, but I guess talking to both of us, explained that her mother had her that she hadn't graduated from college yet, her father was this boy she'd met in class and had a relationship with for a few months. All normal, right?

But then her mother got pregnant and she told him, he agreed to be there for both her and the baby, said he'd take his responsibilities ... yet he left the day her mother had her third month visit, so the man doesn't even know if he's got a daughter or a son.

Natalie told us he never tried to contact her, just like Charles did with me, and she assumed he never wanted her, and it hurt, since the beginning, I mean, her mother told her the truth when she was five and they were moving here, but in the end she put her mind to rest: "He never wanted me, true, but at this point, I think mom is right ... he simply didn't deserve me or her. He didn't deserve us."

She wiped tears away with her free hand, so I pulled her in my arms, trying to soothe her, yet she ended up bursting out crying in my arms, but silently, as if she was having a real breakdown but she was lucid enough to remember we were in a classroom and people would see her. I simply hid her face in my chest better, letting her vent out as I rubbed her scalp soothingly.

As if on cue, Kyle got closer, sort of shielding her from other people's eyes, I guess not wanting her to be more news in school. More than she is for being my girlfriend, that is.

What broke my heart was her crying so much, as I've never seen her do apart from that day when she had a close encounter with Dana. I guess her father having abandoned her before she was even born really took a toll on her and despite everything she still can't get over it.

I kept on whispering calming words in her ears, peppering kisses on her temples and rubbing her back to calm her down, which kind of worked, but she was still crying. Duh, I was so focused on my own dramas that I never imagined she might have her issues too.

I barely heard the teacher coming in, but she did see us all too perfectly and immediately reached us, halting her speech mid-sentence when he noticed Natalie in my arms like that. I have the fair feeling Mrs. Porter likes my girlfriend particularly, I mean, she's possibly her favorite student.

"What's the matter?" The teacher asked, clearly concerned, as she studied Natalie.

Not wanting to let everybody know that she was crying in my arms because of her father, I simply justified: "She ... doesn't feel too well. May I take her out to get some fresh air?"

Without hesitation, the woman nodded. Kyle let us pass while I kept Natalie's face hidden in my chest. She'd stopped crying, but I guess she didn't want people to know. These days, kids don't give a damn if somebody's hurting, crying in the middle of a classroom means being mocked, not pitied, so I wanted to save her the humiliation at least.

Mrs. Porter signed us both two passes to hang out in the corridor, saying we should come back to class when Natalie feels better, but if it takes long, then I should take her to the infirmary.

We'd barely got out of the class and closed the door behind us that Natalie pulled away from me, cheeks still wet from tears, and judging by the way she was biting her lips, she was trying hard not to cry more, therefore I simply grabbed her arm and hugged her again, whispering that she didn't need to hold back, she could cry how much she wanted with me, I was there for her.

"I'm sorry, Eric. I just ... what you said about your father, I felt like I could relate and ..." She sobbed and I rubbed her scalp soothingly. "He never wanted me. He never even tried to reach me. Like I was useless and worthless. I-I'm always saying I don't care because I have mom, and I believe it, but ... b-but it hurts to know that even my father didn't want anything to do with me. It's like I wasn't worth his time and ..."

She only cried more, gripping my t-shirt. I was thinking about things to say but, times like this, nothing suffices, so I imply hugged her tight, letting her vent out on my chest, making her feel my presence, because that's what she needs most now.

Jeez, I never imagined she might be this fragile. I mean, I never knew she might have her issues as well. When in sophomore year her grandmother died, she spent days dragging herself around like a zombie, and that was the stage of grief, so could be explained, but when you face the fact that your father didn't even want you? That he left before you were even born, as if he didn't want to have anything to do with you?

My own father left that I was five, but he had his reasons apparently, even if I've always believed the opposite. Hers? No, he was just the nth prick panicking at the idea of having a child.

We remained there, in the middle of the hall, for several minutes, at least till Natalie had consumed her tears on my chest. At least this I can do for her ... at least now I can comfort her as I always wanted to when her grandmother died or when, till middle school, Dana mocked her, always making her cry.

In the end, Natalie pulled back and wiped the rest of her tears from her cheeks. Her eyes were bloodshot, but she faced me with her head held high, not ashamed of her tears and I was proud of her, for being stronger than pain. Quietly, she asked me to escort her to the restroom, so she could regain her composure and we could go back to class.

Wrapping my arm around her, I kissed her temple and suggested we skip and spend quality time alone in the gym, but she jokingly pushed me away, saying she liked that class and didn't want to ditch it. Well, at least I made her chuckle.

Who knows if she'll be strong enough to endure my whole story. I have to tell her. I can't keep secrets from her if I don't want her to seriously believe I don't trust her enough to pour my heart out to her. Well, I'll have to find the words and the moment, but it's decided. I'm gonna tell her my whole story.

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