Chapter 15: Valentine's
Tell me you love me,
And if you don’t then lie,
Oh, lie to me.
--True Love, Coldplay
Things were different. The next day after everything had happened, there were rumors going through the school that Daniel was going to the dance with Zoey, even though he had told us he said no. He must have changed his mind, I shouldn’t care anyway. He didn’t sit with us anymore that week, but he wasn’t alone either. Instead he was sitting with the rest of the trumpet section from band at lunch; they practically worshipped him. They called him the trumpet god, it was a little funny actually to see Daniel as a band geek like Gigi and Kevin.
I turned in my self-portrait that Friday as well, it got a few weird looks, but Mr. Smith seemed pretty impressed with it so that’s all that mattered.
“This is very good Elisabeth!” He exclaimed. “You’re such a fantastic painter, are you going to study art in college?”
“I’m not entirely sure what I want to do yet, I figured I would just take general classes the first year and have some time to figure it out. Art could be an option though.” I replied.
“I do have one question for you though,” He continued. “What are these marks you have painted on your neck? I’ve never seen them before.”
“Oh, those,” I raked my brain for an excuse. “They’re birth marks, I usually cover them up with makeup.” I finally said. Yes, that’s an acceptable answer.
“Ah, I see. Well anyway, fantastic job.” Mr. Smith took my canvas from my desk and moved onto the next student. Phew, no more self-portraits, we were finally going to move onto something else.
“So glad that’s over,” Zoey said from next to me. She flipped her hair over her shoulder and shot me a smile. “Yours was really great Elisabeth!” She said. “You’re a great painter,”
“Thanks,” I said. “Hey, is it true that you’re going to the dance with Daniel? I thought he said no at first.” I asked her. Her cheeks flushed a little bit with what seemed to be embarrassment.
“Yeah, we’re going together. And he did say no at first, but then he came to me yesterday saying he had changed his mind. It sounds like no one else even asked him.” She said all too happily. Bite me.
Ugh, stop caring about him Elisabeth. I thought to myself. Zoey began talking to her friend Tara so I laid my head on my desk and tuned her out. Who cares about them anyway, you and Todd are going to your first dance together tomorrow night. Focus on that! Todd is going to be so handsome all dressed up. I smiled to myself at that thought. I might have feelings for Daniel, but there was no denying how I felt about Todd either. I liked Daniel, but I loved Todd and there’s a big difference there. The bell rang a few minutes later signifying the end of third period. I gathered up my things quickly and booked it to AP Bio to get my seat next to Todd.
Daniel and I passed each other in the hallway going opposite directions, we did every single day, but we no longer said anything to each other. Our eyes may meet, but that’s it, he hadn’t even spoken to me since the incident on Monday.
Our gazes met for a brief second, but once again, nothing was said. He shot me a solemn smile and sauntered away towards his next class. This was our relationship now, this was all our relationship could ever—will ever be. I sighed to myself then plastered a smile on my face when I entered the Biology room to greet. Although he smiled back, the look in his eyes said that he could see my smile was fake.
The next evening after dinner I started getting ready for the dance, I was kind of torn between wearing my homecoming dress or the one that Daniel gave me for Christmas. I heard a soft knock on my door as I was still debating. “Come in,” I said. Mom stepped into my room and stood next to me.
“Trying to decide what dress to wear?” She asked and I nodded. She thought for a moment. “Well I don’t think there’s any question as to which you should wear Elisabeth.”
“The blue one, right?” I asked her. She nodded with a smile. “That’s the one I was leaning towards actually. You don’t think it’s too dressy for a Valentine’s Day dance?” That had been my only hesitation with wearing it, I mean, it was practically a ball gown probably better suited for prom.
“Nah, you’ll be beautiful in it Elisabeth. Todd won’t be able to take his eyes off of you.” She winked at me and I rolled my eyes. “Just go for it honey,” She said before leaving my room. Yeah, she was right. I look amazing in this dress and a dance does give me an excuse to wear it, even if it’s just a Valentine’s dance. Who cares?
I pulled the dress up the length of my body as I stared at myself in the mirror. All I could picture was Daniel sitting on my bed facing the wall, and then the look on his face when he turned around. I zipped up the dress and smoothed it over my stomach. Who cares about Daniel? Soon Todd will see you in this dress and he’ll look at you in the same way. I thought. I went to the bathroom to straighten my hair and do my makeup before putting on my shoes; I had a pair sparkly silver flats that would go perfect with it.
My Dad’s eyes looked like they were about to pop out of his sockets when I finally came downstairs, either that or have a heart attack.
“Where did you get that dress?” He asked.
“Oh, Daniel gave it to me for Christmas,” I said.
“I see… Well you look great in it,” Dad said. “Tell Todd to keep his hands off of you.” He added. I rolled my eyes at him before joining them on the sofa. A few minutes later Todd’s car came down the road in front of our house and pulled into the driveway.
“He’s here,” I said. I watched as he walked across the front porch and knocked on the door. He wasn’t dressed up nearly as much as I was, but he still looked great. He was wearing a white button up dress shirt with a green tie and pinstripe dress pants with black vans. Yeah, he was handsome.
“Wow,” Todd said when I opened the door. “Elisabeth you look… You look amazing.” He said almost speechless. I smiled up at him and blushed.
“You look really good too, Todd.” I said smiling. “Shall we go?” Todd nodded and we turned to leave.
“Hands to yourself, boy!” My dad called after us.
The dance hadn’t quite started when we got to the school, but there was already a line to get in the door. We found Gigi and Kevin and stood in line with them.
“Damn Hayes, you clean up nice.” Kevin joked. “But not as nice as my lady here.” He winked at Gigi. She rolled her eyes at him and pushed his shoulder playfully. Gigi was wearing the teal dress she had worn to Homecoming four months ago, only now she was wearing black converse with it instead of heels.
“That dress is awesome Elisabeth,” She said. “All the guys are going to be drooling over you. And your hair is super cute straightened.”
“Thanks, Gigi,” I smiled. I had made the right choice wearing this dress, although I still felt really dressed up. A moment later I saw Zoey and Daniel walk to the back of the line, Zoey was wearing a blush pink dress that reached to just above her knees, it was very puffy, but she looked cute in it. Too cute. And Daniel, of course Daniel looked good, it looked like he was wearing some designer suit perfectly tailored to him. Like my dress was to me I suppose. How had he gotten my measurements anyway?
“C’mon Elisabeth, they’re letting us in.” Todd held onto my hand and pulled me forward towards the doors to the gym. When we stepped inside, the gym had been transformed into a Valentine’s Special on the Disney Channel. There were pink and red hearts everywhere. Even the lights the DJ was flashing were little hearts.
“Can someone say overload?” Gigi said reading my mind. We all laughed as we handed them our tickets. “Want to dance Kev?” Gigi asked. Kevin nodded so they made their way to the dance floor.
“This is the first time I’ve actually had a date to a dance you know,” Todd said. “First time I’ll get to dance with a girl too since Daniel shoved me out of the way at Homecoming.” He continued.
“Yeah…” I trailed off. “He gets quite jealous, but he can’t do that to you tonight you know.” I winked at him and pulled his lips down to mine. “Want to dance?” I asked playfully. Todd nodded, a glint in his eyes, so I led him onto the dance floor as OneRepublic pounded through the speakers.
“You’re a pretty good dancer, Todd.” I said. The two of us walked over to a table to take a break, we had been dancing for about an hour now and it gets pretty hot with the whole school crammed into the gym.
“Thanks babe,” He kissed my cheek. “I’m going to go get some water, do you want some?”
“That would be great, thanks.” Todd smiled and gave me a quick kiss before fighting through the throng of people to find the drinks. “Phew, it’s hot,” I said while I fanned myself with my hand. “They need to turn up the AC in here, or open the doors or something.”
“Elisabeth,” I heard someone say. I turned to look behind me to see Daniel standing there looking kind of dumbfounded. I thought we had silently agreed we weren’t talking to each other anymore? “That dress…you are wearing it.” He said still sounding confused.
“Yeah?” I said. What was he getting at? He strode up to where I was sitting and held his hand out to me. “What?”
“Dance with me,” He said breathlessly. Daniel didn’t wait for a response, he grabbed my hand and pulled me to my feet and back onto the floor. But Todd still wasn’t back yet, what if he saw us and got the wrong idea? He led me to the middle of the gym, underneath of the disco ball. As we had in October his arms circled my waist, pulling me in close, but not as close this time.
“Shouldn’t you be dancing with Zoey?” I said a little too bitterly. Hurt flashed across Daniel’s face for a brief second before reverting to his neutral expression.
“She is outside cooling off,” He said. “I was on my way to get water when I saw you sitting there by yourself.” Yeah, whatever. “You’re so beautiful in that dress Elisabeth,” Daniel whispered. “I only wish you were wearing it for me instead of some other boy.” Wait, what? Que wild blushing.
“Well I wasn’t going to let it sit in my closet getting dusty. Should I give it back to you since we’re not…” I trailed off. Since I’ve been released from the betrothal…
“Of course not Elisabeth! It was a gift for you, you deserve it. You look so regal in it; I hope you will think of me whenever you wear it.” He said. The song ended and we had stopped swaying but Daniel still had his arms around me, and I him. There was that look again, the way he had looked at me the first time I tried the dress on. Why did we keep doing this to ourselves?
“I thought we weren’t talking to each other anymore?” I said softly. “Daniel, you know I have feelings for you but you released me from the betrothal right? Isn’t that why you stopped talking to me after Monday?”
“Elisabeth,” He started.
“No, Daniel, you’re like a rollercoaster, I can’t keep doing this anymore. This isn’t fair for either of us so if you’ve released me from the betrothal then I think it’s time to let go.” I stepped out of Daniel’s arms. “Because I don’t think I can be just friends with you,” I said.
“Luminita,” He started again, hurt wavering in his voice.
“That’s not my name Daniel!” I turned and began walking back towards Todd. “Goodbye,” I said softly, but I knew he heard me. I tried to walk away with as much confidence as I could muster, not looking back was rather difficult, at least until I saw Todd sitting at the table waiting.
As soon as his face came into view it was much easier to ignore Daniel. Todd was sipping his cup of water and kept checking his watch, I wonder how long he had been waiting.
“I’m back,” I slid onto the bench next to him. “Sorry, Daniel asked me to dance, only it was more of a demand and less of a question.” I said. I reached out for Todd’s hand and squeezed it. “Were you waiting long?” Todd’s face was unreadable at the moment, was he upset? “Are you okay?” I asked.
“Why does it seem like that as soon as I’m gone Daniel shows up?” Todd asked. Huh? “It seems like every time I’m not around or I walk away you find yourself in Daniel’s arms,” Todd said bitterly.
“What? Todd, Daniel seriously just came up to me and dragged me. He didn’t give me a choice in the matter.” I said. “I wasn’t ditching you for him if that’s what you’re implying.” Why was he doing this? Daniel and I weren’t even dancing that close to each other, not like Todd and I had been earlier.
“But you were still with him!”
“Yeah, and when you asked me to dance at Homecoming I said yes didn’t I?” I pointed out. “But like I said, I wasn’t given an option, I wasn’t even planning on talking to him tonight.” I didn’t realize Todd was the jealous type. “Why are you doing this? I thought we were past this.”
“Well maybe I’m not over it yet.” He said shortly.
“Todd, I’ve been apologizing to you all week, trying to make up for what I admit I did wrong. You haven’t even said you love me since last week when this whole thing started. I’ve said it multiple times this week without you saying it back. I don’t know how to make it better if you won’t tell me!” I was starting to get frustrated. It’s not fair for him to get mad at me for one thing and then turn around and do the same thing. It’s really embarrassing to say you love someone and then them not say it back. It hurts.
Todd stayed silent and stared down at the table not even glancing over at me. Were all boys this dumb?
“Fine, you can sit here and be angry with me all you want, but I didn’t do anything wrong.” I stood from the table and stormed off into the crowd of people looking for Gigi. I spied her across the gym near the punch bowls and continued on my way.
“I’m going home,” I said when I reached her. Her eyes went wide and she set down her punch.
“What? Why?” She questioned.
“Todd saw Daniel and I dancing together and now he’s all pissed off about it. Daniel pulled me out onto the dance floor, I wasn’t even going to talk to him tonight!” I explained. Gigi frowned but nodded.
“Okay, well I guess I’ll see you later then.” She said. I nodded and turned on my heel, walking towards the door to leave.
“Stupid vampires, stupid Todd,” I mumbled to myself. I took a deep breath of fresh, cool air once I reached the outside and instantly felt a little better. “Wait,” I stopped. “How am I supposed to get home? It’s too cold to walk to my house.” Why don’t I think of these things sooner? And I forgot my phone at home. I’ll just borrow Gigi’s phone I guess. I thought. Turning to walk back inside to grab Gigi’s phone, I hit a wall instead. A wall that normally shouldn’t be there. It didn’t take me long to realize who it was.
“Daniel,” I groaned. “Why are you out here?” I frowned. He said nothing, simply reached into his jacket pocket and handed me his cell phone. “Oh, thanks,” I said taking it from him. Stepping a few feet away from him I dialed the house and waited for mom or dad to pick up, luckily Mom was the one to answer. I was hoping she would pick up instead of Dad.
“Hey, Mom, it’s me,” I said. God, I could hear my voice starting to crack.
“Oh, what’s wrong Elisa?” She asked.
“Um, could you come pick me up from the dance?” I asked softly. “Todd is mad at me,” I mumbled.
“Oh, Elisabeth, of course. I’ll be there in five minutes sweetheart.” We said goodbye to each other and hung up. I sighed and turned back towards Daniel, only he was already standing right next me, lifting his phone out of my hand gently and wrapping his arm around my shoulder and pulling me into him.
“Todd is upset with you again?” He asked. Daniel looked down at me sadly. Seriously, every time I feel vulnerable he magically appears by my side. Does he have a super Elisabeth sense or something?
“Yes, but he’s upset because he saw us dancing.” I stepped out of his arm to put space between us. “He always gets the wrong idea when he sees us together you know.” Daniel shrugged. “Daniel this is serious!” I said exasperated. “He knows how I feel about you, he’s threatened by you. I really like him…”
“But what about me?” He asked innocently. Pff, innocent my ass, the effects of his Romanian accent were beginning to fade.
“What about you? You left me Daniel. Back in October; maybe things could have been different, but you left. That was your decision.” I said. “Besides, you released me from the contract, you said I didn’t have to worry about it anymore.”
“Yes, I did, but that does not change how I feel about you as well.” Daniel said stubbornly. “I released you from the betrothal because I do not want to see you get hurt. However, both of us feel the pull towards each other.” Daniel’s arm snuck around my waist, pulling me into his side again. “You should be with someone of your own kind, Elisabeth.” He said softly.
“You know Daniel, the part of the betrothal that really bothered me the most was that I felt like I didn’t have a choice. This thing was written when I was only a few months old and you were only a year, I couldn’t speak for myself. Honestly, Daniel, it’s not that I couldn’t see myself with you, because I think I could… But I would want to make that decision myself. When I do decide to get married in the future, I want it to be because it’s what I want, not because I’m being told I have to.” I said. “And you should have a choice in the matter too, Daniel.” I added. “Do vampires not believe in choosing their own paths?”
“Often times not,” He said shaking his head. “We are bound by honor and duty, not free choice. In the vampire world you should feel proud by fulfilling the purpose chosen for you, which, in our case, is getting married.” Our hands lightly brushed sending a jolt of electricity through me and causing me to shiver. Daniel wordlessly draped his jacket over my shoulders.
“I, I don’t really know what to say Daniel. I just want to be able to choose what I want in my life. I want the opportunity to choose you instead of being forced into it. And I don’t want you to be with me just because an old piece of paper says you have to be. Is that really so much to ask? For you to want me for me and not just because our parents thought it would be good for the families?” I looked at him through my lashes.
Daniel sighed. “For what it is worth my plan was to try and give you a choice. Or at least make it feel like you were choosing me at least. When I asked you to the homecoming dance back in October I was hoping that that would have been the start of my courting you. Then I lost it when I saw you dancing with Todd.” He growled. “Something you need to understand about vampires is that we tend to be very possessive and then when you asked me to lie and say I was human…” Daniel trailed off.
“I’m sorry, but it’s kind of hard to believe that vampires are real, you know? Sure, I grew up reading them in fairytales and young adult novels, but those are all fake. Or at least you’re taught that they’re fake.” I said. “Why did you agree to come to this dance with Zoey?” I asked softly changing the subject. I still felt jealous about it even though I knew I shouldn’t since I had come with Todd, not that that had turned out how it was supposed to or anything.
“Truly, Elisabeth, I only agreed to the dance with her because she asked me. Please don’t get the wrong idea.” He seemed honest, for a vampire. “Will your mother be here soon?” I nodded. “Would you like me to stay with you until she gets here?” I nodded once again. “Okay, then I will. I am sorry if I ruined your evening, Luminita.” Daniel bent down and kissed the top of my head just as my mom was pulling into the parking lot. “I will try to make it up to you some time. I promise.” I went to hand Daniel his jacket back and he shook his head. “You keep it for now and just return it whenever you get the chance.”
“Okay,” I said. “I guess I’ll see you later then, have a good rest of your night.” I turned and started walking to where my Mom was waiting.
“Elisabeth,” Daniel called after me.
“You look even more beautiful tonight than when you first tried that gown on.” He said with a small smile. “Maybe next time you’ll wear it for me?” Daniel didn’t wait for me to respond and sauntered back towards the dance. Hopefully I hadn’t ruined the dance for him either, he deserved to be happy too.
“Was that Daniel?” Mom asked when I was settled in the car.
“Yeah, I had to borrow his phone to call you so he waited outside with me.” I said.
“What a gentleman,” Yeah, most of the time.