The snow floated down and drifted into every crevice. The air was crisp and the chill crept deep into his bones.
They were in the Music Room and were just finishing off practising for the Music Festival. Damien was entered to play three songs and the teacher allowed him to choose every song himself. Taylor played the recorder and was entered to play two songs. One of the songs they shared.
As he looked across the room at her, she looked up and their eyes met. She stopped doodling on the cover of her prescribed book for English, Macbeth. He saw there were pages curled in at several points, and he wondered if these marked her favourite quotes.
The teacher called, “Okay, Taylor. Let’s hear your and Damien’s piece.”
Taylor smiled as Damien moved his head in a motion that called her closer. She stopped next to him and as she brought the recorder to her lips she glanced at Damien. She waited for him to get ready and as he started strumming the first few chords she fell in with him.
The entire class listened to them in silence, every eye was focused on them.
They played the musical piece flawlessly and when they were finished the teacher clapped her hands together with glee. “Perfect. Just perfect.”
Shyly Taylor glanced at Damien. She was not sure why she felt shy whenever he was near. For some reason, since Halloween she did not feel as comfortable with him anymore as she did before. She always knew there was something between them, an abnormal attraction. Since the first day she saw him, she felt a pulling sensation to him, but she never paid any attention to it. If it was not for Aidan she was sure she could have fallen in love with him. He could have stolen her heart with just that one look between them, that first morning she saw him.
The teacher interrupted her thoughts. “That’s all for today. Thank you for all your hard work, but you will be thankful you practised so hard when you are standing in front of a whole audience.”
Damien stood up from the stool as Taylor stepped away from him toward her bag.
He wrapped his hand around her elbow, and she looked back shocked. She felt a bolt of electricity shock her where his skin made contact with hers. “Can we practice the song a little bit?”
“Isn’t Brianna waiting for you?”
“Her drama class is practising till late.”
She felt disappointment rush through her. He only wanted to stay and practice with her because he did not want to wait for Brianna on his own. “No. I have to get home.”
“Let me walk you.” He stepped forward gripping the neck of the guitar tightly between his fingers to distract his attention away from his hand still circled around her elbow.
She looked at him questioningly, trying to figure out what he was trying to say.
He continued, “It’s almost dark outside.”
Slowly a smile brightened her face. He loved her smile. “Fine, but first you have to let go of my arm.”
He chuckled nervously as he dropped his hand from her elbow. As he walked past his bag he grabbed onto the straps and swung it onto his shoulder. When he reached her bag leaning against the door by the entrance, he heaved it up.
She held out her hand. “I can carry my own bag.”
“I know you can. I never said you couldn’t.”
“So give it then.”
Damien started walking out of the door and she had no choice but to follow him.
“Give my bag, Damien.” He loved the way she said his name.
“Stop being so stubborn and just say thank you.”
She sighed. “Fine. Thank you.”
As they walked out the gate, he asked, “So where is Aidan today? Does he not usually walk you home?”
“We had a fight.” She answered glumly.
He looked at her sideways. By now, he was used to their fights. In the four months, he had known them they were fighting more than they were not fighting. Cautiously he asked, “Do you really think he is the one for you if you are always fighting?”
“Sometimes it feels as if he is, but then other times he can be such a horrible person.”
“Why do you stay with him then?”
“Sometimes I also wonder, but I suppose love is a mystery.”
He frowned briefly. “Do you honestly think what you two have is love?”
“Yeah. We have been together for more than two years now.”
“But that does not mean what you have is love, maybe it’s just habit.” They walked a few steps in silence. “What are you fighting about this time?”
She looked at him unsure and she hesitated before she said, “The same thing most couples fight about.”
Taylor yelped as she slipped on a piece of slush and automatically he leapt forward to grab onto her. He pulled her closer to him to steady her and he felt as if she belonged in his arms. He could not look her in the eyes as he stepped away from her. “This ice is dangerous.”
She laughed nervously. “Thank you. You saved me from a nasty fall.”
He bowed playfully. “My pleasure.”
Carefully they started walking again while Damien kept his hand on her elbow lightly.
She broke the silence, “Brianna is very excited about the Christmas Ball. It’s all she can talk about.”
He was happy for the change of topic and he doubted he would be able to continue talking about her and Aidan’s continuous on and off relationship.
They continued talking about the upcoming dance until they reached her house. He watched her walk to her front door and then once she stepped into the house she turned and waved goodbye.
They had rented a limousine to take them to the venue of the Christmas Ball, and two weeks later the car collected Damien and Aidan from Aidan’s house. They drove to Brianna’s house first because it was on the way to Taylor’s house.
At Brianna’s house, Damien stepped out of the car and knocked on her door.
Brianna looked beautiful. The red dress she was wearing hugged every curve and her long dark hair hung in loose curls around her bare shoulders. Her clear blue eyes shone excitedly.
As she stepped out of her house, he took her hand lightly into his. “Aren’t you going to be cold?”
She smiled up at him. “No, we’ll be inside and I’m sure they’ll be keeping the heating up.”
“You look beautiful.” He remembered to say as they walked to the car and he held the door open for her.
She slipped into the car and moved across the seat so that he can climb in beside her. “Thank you. You also look very nice.” She smiled. “No white t-shirt tonight.”
He had taken the trouble of drying his hair perfectly and although the required black bow-tie around his neck felt as if it was blocking off the blood flow to his brain, he kept his top button fastened.
He knew he was the reason for her smile and for the adoration in her eyes and he hated himself for it, because although everybody thought they were a couple, and although he tried hard not to be interested in Taylor, he could not help it when his heart sped up every time Taylor came near him.
They stopped in front of Taylor’s house and Aidan climbed out to fetch her at her door.
When Taylor climbed into the car, Damien literally stopped breathing for a couple of seconds. She wore a dress that matched the aquamarine colour of her eyes perfectly. Her long blonde hair was tied up into a French knot behind her head. Her subtle perfume folded itself around him. Everything about her made him want to reach out to her.
As soon as the car pulled away from her house, Aidan pulled a bottle of champagne from his bag and after pulling off the silver wrapping and untwisting the wire around the cork, he started to pry the cork from the neck of the bottle.
Taylor complained, “Aidan are you really going to start drinking already?”
“Don’t whine, Taylor. It doesn’t suit you.”
Taylor sat back in her seat and Damien saw an instant of sadness blaze in her eyes.
Aidan passed the bottle to Damien. “I can’t get this sodding cork out of the bottle.”
Damien took the bottle and gently he pried the cork from the bottle. It popped softly without spilling a drop of the fizzy contents.
As Damien handed the bottle back to Aidan, he motioned with his hands as he said, “No. Take a sip.”
“I don’t drink,” Damien replied.
Aidan laughed amused. “Why not? Is there something wrong with you?”
“No. Just had a bad experience with people drinking too much.”
Aidan shrugged as he held the bottle in front of him. He let his head lean back as the liquid flowed into his mouth.
They stopped in front of the hotel where the Ball was being held and walked into the building together. Taylor seemed a little stiff as Aidan pulled her into his embrace.
Damien had his arm draped around Brianna’s waist loosely. She smiled up at him when they walked into the beautifully decorated hall. It looked like a Cinderella fairy tale merged with a winter wonderland.
They sat down at their table and ate through the different courses of starters, main meal and dessert while talking and laughing and enjoying themselves. After the last dish was removed from the long tables, the lights dimmed and a mirror ball started spinning bright beams around the room. The first song brought yelps of joy from the girls and soon the dance floor filled with spinning and whirling bodies.
It was starting to get late and the last song of the evening soon arrived. The poignant notes of a popular song started playing and automatically Damien pulled Brianna close to him. He looked over her shoulder at Aidan and Taylor dancing together across the room. He watched them slow dancing and although he honestly wanted to pretend he did not care, it tore him apart.
Damien saw Aidan lean down as Taylor lifted herself up toward him and she was unaware of his heart breaking. He wished with everything in him that it was him with his hands on her waist, swaying to the music. The lyrics ‘I have loved you for a thousand years’ resonated in his soul and he knew with everything in him that it was true.
After they dropped Taylor and Brianna off at Brianna’s house, because Taylor was spending the night at her house, Damien craved with his entire being that it was him she would be calling later to say good night.
As they drove away Aidan slumped back into his seat angrily.
Damien asked, “What’s wrong? You fighting again?”
“Not yet, but it’s building up to a mammoth one this time.”
“But why? You love her, don’t you?”
Aidan looked at Damien agitated. “Is it wrong for me to expect more than just kissing after two years?”
Shocked Damien sat back in his chair. A feeling of relief rushed through him as he asked casually, “You haven’t done it yet?”
“No. She has this stupid idea that she has to wait for the right time.”
“You should respect her decision though. If she’s not ready, she’s not ready.”
“I am ready. I have given her an ultimatum, and if it has not happened by New Year’s Eve, we are going our separate ways.”
Cynically Damien asked, “Are you serious?”
“Very.” Aidan sulked as he stared out the window on his side.
“You are going to give up on a relationship of two years and a girl you say you love because she won’t go all the way with you?”
Aidan sighed. “Probably not. It’s just frustrating.”
“You should wait.” Damien was not sure why he was giving Aidan relationship advice when he wanted desperately for the two of them to break up and to stay broken up.
As the limousine dropped them off at Aidan’s house, Aidan answered his phone. Damien knew instinctively that it was Taylor on the phone. He waved goodbye to Aidan as he started to walk home.
The lyrics of the last song at the dance echoed in his mind. He decided to change one of the songs he was going to play at the music festival to that very same song. Although nobody will ever know, he will know it was dedicated to Taylor.
He loathed the way Aidan looked at Taylor and now that he knew Aidan was pressuring her into giving herself to him completely, he felt the hatred well up in him. Damien knew with him; Taylor would never be afraid or scared. She would never have a single doubt. If only he could find the courage to tell her the three little words he was so desperate to tell her, but he knew she would probably laugh in his face.