Entanglement

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10

簞╭~Ⅹ
Matthew was at the lobby with Kevin by the time Maren and I arrived. "Good morning, ladies." He greeted us.

"Hey, Matt." Maren greeted him. "Kevin." She curtly acknowledged him.

"Where are you off to?" I asked.

"Off to exploring the city while taking pictures to add to my collection." He said lifting the camera that hung securely around his neck.

"I decided to tag along since I don't really have anything to do." Kevin shrugged. "What about you guys?"

"Maren and I were also going out for site seeing. Maybe we can join you guys." I suggested earning an incredulous look from Maren.

"I think the fuck no "I quickly clamped her mouth with my hand offering the two gentlemen an apologetic smile. "We'll meet you guys at the car." I said.

"Alright but don't take too long, okay." Matthew said leaving with Kevin.

By the time they were gone, Maren removed my hand before slapping my arm. "Dude! What the fuck?!" she exclaimed.

"Would you rather we spend God knows how much on an Uber all day?" I asked.

"We could have asked my step brother to drive us around if that was going to be a problem."

"Bullshit! You're just saying that because you want to avoid being around Kevin."

"Pft! No!"

"I'm pretty sure you would have had no problem with Matthew taking us if Kevin wasn't there."

She opened her mouth to retort but closed it soon after, a response she always gave when she knows I'm right. I sighed, "Mare, you're not making it any better giving him the cold shoulder. Why can't y'all just talk?"

"Because the moment I let him talk, the only thing I'll be hearing are excuses and empty promises." She told me. "I hate it when he just pretends like he didn't piss me off and think that I'll forgive him that easy."

She avoided her gaze from mine, and I could tell that she was doing her best to hide her tears. If there was one thing, I knew about Maren it was that even though she always put up a tough exterior and acted like nothing gets to her, she was as fragile as glass when it came to matters of the heart. She was never really the type to talk about her feelings and her emotions to anyone, not even to me but given that I was around her most of the time and that I was a very observant person, it was easy to pick out a few things even though she often tried to hide it from me. "Hey," I said softly. "look at me."

When she did, I asked, "Do you love him?"

"Of course, I do," she said with no hesitation. "he's a pain in my ass and I have to resist every urge to smack him across the head, but I love him regardless."

"Then talk to him. Let him know how you feel. Communicate." I advised. "Your relationship won't go anywhere if you don't."

Maren stared at me and I stared back with a pout. I knew that she would eventually give in and consider my ideas and demands whenever I did that and as expect she did. "Fine," she relented. "but I won't promise to yeet him into the ocean if he tests me."

Not what I was hoping for, but I'll take it. "Did I ever tell you that you're my favourite person." I smiled at her.

"Bitch, I'm you're only favourite person and that's on period." She answered sassily.

簞╭~Ⅹ

The outing went on better than I had hoped. To be honest, I was half expecting Maren to live up to her promise of throwing Kevin overboard but surprisingly, it seemed like they worked things out and were on good terms. I smiled watching Kevin take Maren's hand into his and interlocked their fingers as they walked.

"Smile for the camera."

By reflex, I turned my head to the source only to catch Matthew pointing the lens of his camera at me. My smile quickly disappeared, and my calm demeanour was replaced with panic and embarrassment.

"You look exceptionally nice from this angle," he said. "I was a bit sceptical at first, but it came out better than I expected."

He showed me the picture and it only fuelled my mortification even more. "Oh my gosh! Please delete that." I said.

"Why?"

"Because I look weird and geekier than I usually am," I said. "and if you haven't already noticed I am not Instagram model material. Not to forget I look like a librarian with insomnia."

He chuckled at my rambling. "Who said you have to be an Instagram model for me to take a picture?" he asked tilting his head.

"Well you should at least look good for a picture," I pointed out. "I don't really take selfies because one: I don't really look good in pictures anyway, two: I suck at taking selfies and three: I don't like showing the world that I have a crooked tooth every time I smile."

"What's wrong with it?"

"I consider it a design flaw and the many reason I don't smile often."

I exposed my teeth and pinpointed the location of the said tooth. "See?"

He tilted his head again, examining it closely. "Doesn't look weird to me. If anything, it's more fascinating than it is weird."

I gaped at him mystified. "I personally don't see flaws as a bad thing but more of a unique trait within us. The problem with humans is that we tend to overlook it and see the uniqueness in our flaws as a curse or an abomination because of our own insecurity." he said. "Pretty ironic coming from a guy who's paid to take pictures of models, isn't it?"

"I wouldn't know since I'm an artist who draws and paints stuff that comes from her head more than what she sees, but sure...I guess?"

Silence filled the air around us as we continued walking. It wasn't awkward or uncomfortable given that we didn't have anything else to say to keep the conversation going but I was grateful that the positive atmosphere was still there, and we could still enjoy each other's company. I didn't know what I would have done if it was otherwise because I naturally sucked at having conversations with people I never interacted with.

"Looks like Maren is on good terms with her boyfriend I see." Matthew noted. I shifted my gaze towards Maren and Kevin who were conversing with each other as they walked hand to hand.

"Let's say that I kinda pulled some strings and pushed Maren to work things out with Kevin." I said.

"I'm surprised she actually listened. Knowing how stubborn and prideful she is, she wouldn't even consider it let alone listen. Believe me I have tried." He looked at me.

"I have my ways plus I'm her favourite person. She tends to listen to me more than she listens to anyone else." I explained. "Aside from that, I am a firm believer of communication in a relationships. It's one of the many things that makes it healthy."

"You seem to know more about relationships for a person who has never dated."

My cheeks were flushed at his comment. I really wished Maren hadn't disclosed such information in the first place. "Well most of my wisdom comes from the books and fanfiction I read on Wattpad. And the comics I read on Webtoons." I replied.

He chuckled before looking back at Maren and Kevin. "I'm glad you talked her into working things out with him," he said. "I can't imagine what would have become of their relationship if she kept silent."

There it was again. The same look he had when we last talked the other day. The same tone that hinted that he was speaking from experience. "Did you have that kind of experience?" I blurted out without thinking. I rebuked myself immediately after the question left my mouth.

"Kind of," he answered, surprising me. "I knew someone who wasn't really open about what she really felt or her problems regardless of me giving her assurances that I would always be there only for her to just disappear without telling me why."

"Oof," I frowned, "not even a heads up?"

He shook his head in response, the sad look still present on his face. "It is what it is, I guess." He shrugged, trying to be nonchalant about it but it was clear to me that it was still a fresh wound he was healing from. Whoever she was, she really must have been that important to him.

I was no expert when it came to heart breaks and break ups since I had never been in that type of situation but I could empathise with how much it must have hurt to care for someone so much only for them to just leave out of the blue and make you wonder what you did wrong. But that's Life. A lot of shitty stuff happens to a lot of people and you won't always know the reasons no matter how hard you try and no matter where you look.

"If it's okay with you," his voice penetrated my inner babble. "can I keep this picture as something to remember on this trip? I am obliged to delete it since I took it without your permission and I really don't want to get sued."

I chuckled. "As long as you don't turn it into a meme." I smiled.

"Deal."

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