Perfect Illusion

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Chapter 26: One Day

The next week goes by in a daze.

Daniel and I are kind of falling into a routine: in the morning, he makes me pancakes. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of them. It’s like nirvana in my mouth.

I also stop being a useless fuck and actually make hot chocolate for me and him. I think he likes it but I’m not quite sure because he always likes the marshmallows I put on top of the hot chocolate better.

After breakfast, we go to campus together, and I meet up with Cara while Daniel hangs out with Simon. After my meeting with Simon during the engagement party, I don’t actually talk to him again. There’s just something weird about him, like the way he just gave me relationship advice on Daniel the first time I met him. Sigh. But Daniel seems to like hanging out with him.

Sometimes when Simon’s with Nate, Daniel texts me and tells me he’s going to class early. He doesn’t wait for me. He lets me spend time with my best friend. So, Cara and I often meet up at Caffeinated and we talk about the randoms. She always asks me about Daniel, and I always have to tell her that there’s nothing going on between the both of us. Even though Cara so desperately wants something to happen between us.

When it’s time to get to class, I take my usual seat beside Daniel, and we banter back and forth (you know, the usual) till we get so sick of each other, we stop talking. And then, after class, we resume talking again. More classes, more breaks, and then he takes me back to the penthouse. Then, on most evenings, we get together in the living room and watch a movie. Sometimes, when neither of us wants to pick one out, we end up settling for anything that’s on cable.

Throughout the entire week, I’ve learnt so much more about him that I’d like to admit. I think my list of random things I’ve learnt about Daniel is so long I can’t even keep track. So, this is what I remember so far:

5. Doesn’t like to talk about his father.

I have no idea why. When I tried to bring up the topic, he merely just shrugs me off. I think something horrible has happened between him and his father, and I’m sort of afraid to find out what is it.

Lifts weights.

Score for me. During the weekend, I caught him doing lifting weights in his room, grunting and sweating all over the place. I got to admit, it’s sort of a turn on. No wonder his biceps are the size of fucking Mount Rushmore.

Is a left-hander.

Not really important. But I like to point that out. One time, Daniel got super irritated at the right-handed scissors when he was cutting some papers and went on and on about inequality for left handed people. Then, I bought him a pair of left-handed scissors and he shut up.

Uses a Samsung.

Really, Kerrington? Really? Apple for the win.

When I told Cara about the fun facts, Cara’s tells me that the only reason I’m making the whole list in the first place is that I want to get to know him... and I want to fuck him real bad.

“Christ, Cara.” I curse. “For the millionth time, I don’t want to have sex with him, okay?”

“You do. You totally do,” She winks at me. “I can smell it in the air. The sexual tension between the both of you is making me so damn flustered even I can’t think straight.”

I throw out a laugh. “Go get laid, Cara. You need it.”

“I know,” She sighs. “But every time I look at a guy, it’s like... he’s not on the Daniel scale, you know?”

“The Daniel scale?” I snort.

“Yeah. How hot a guy is compared to Daniel.” She tells me.

“You’re joking. It’s so not a thing.” I roll my eyes.

“It totally is a thing!” She protests weakly. “Daniel is like... living proof that god exists, you know? He’s that good-looking. And nobody can compare to him. Nobody.”

“You’re exaggerating!” I laugh. “Nate is-”

“Nate’s fine, I guess,” She leans back against her seat and takes a sip of her Caffeinated drink, “He’s a close second to Daniel.”

I wriggle my eyebrows at her. “Go have sex with him, then.”

“Ewwwww no way!” She says, baffled. “He’s totally into you. Trust me, he wants to have sex with you.”

“Again, exaggerating.” I fold my arms over my chest.

“I can’t believe you’re so oblivious to all the signs!” She says, “I know you told me that you and Nate are strictly platonic, but even I can see that it’s so hard for him to look at you without wanting to kiss you.”

“Nate and I are just friends-”

“I know. But he totally wants to be something more.” She smirks.

“Well...”

Now that I come to think about it, maybe there were signs? I don’t know. I guess I’m not good at reading them.

But maybe it’s the simple things. Like the fact that Nate’s always lingering around class, waiting for me. Or when he talks to me about this new book he’s been reading. Or when he tells me about his grandma- it’s so cute every time he mentions her to me, I feel like I’ve already known her my whole life. I already love his grandma.

We have definitely gotten a lot closer this whole week. Sometimes, when Daniel’s off with Simon, I get to hang out with Nate under the shady tree on campus, and we’d just talk about anything. I tell him about my progress in writing ‘Blankets’, and he’d proofread my chapters and tell me what to improve on. I’d write notes about his comments. He’d tell me I’m an awesome writer. Every single time. Then, we’d just talk about our classes, and sometimes I’d mention about Cara.

He always likes to listen to me. He’s a great listener. Sometimes, when I want to get something off my chest, I’d just rant to him about it and he’d be so patient with me.

Nate’s so perfect in every way I can’t imagine why we’re just friends.

I guess in some alternate universe in where I was never engaged to Daniel, I’d definitely be with Nate. He’s charming, and funny, and just easy to hang out with. When I’m with him, I’m my normal self. Just Alex. The girl who just has to worry about college and whether the boy she likes will like her back. The girl who reads and writes and always has a story to tell.

I don’t have to worry about a fake engagement. I don’t have to worry about what the media will think of me or how my parents’ company is doing. I don’t have to worry about rules and contracts and shitty parents who don’t understand me.

It’s just so simple with Nate.

Sometimes, I want simple.

Not complicated.

Just simple.

“You’re thinking about Nate, are you?” Cara says after a while.

I nod wordlessly.

“Your love life is a complete mess.” She shakes her head. “Honestly, I’d be telling you to forget about him and just focus on Daniel. But... a part of you can’t get over Nate.”

“Yeah,” I frown.

“You think that.... Maybe you and Nate have a chance?” Her eyes search mine.

What she says circles around my mind.

“I don’t know.” I say.


It’s finally the time of the year again. Nope. Not Christmas.

Fucking Halloween.

Urgh.

The only time girls get to dress up to be whoever they want (minimum clothing required) and do whoever they want.

Definitely not my favourite time of the year.

Sigh. Though it used to be.

When I was young, I used to love Halloween. It was one of those rare times my dad and mum would sit around the table and help out for the festival. Dad and I would carve out pumpkins to place out on the front porch while mum would buy fabrics to piece together my costume. It was family time for the three of us. Dad would tell me horror stories that I didn’t want to hear but I still wanted to. It would always start out different each time.

He was always the good storyteller. Made up whatever I wanted to hear. After all, he is a businessman.

Mum would tell him to shut up because she hated horror stories. Just the mention of gore and blood would send her into a frenzy. Dad and I sometimes laugh when she overreacted.

Those were really good times.

Gosh, that seemed so long time ago. The last time my parents and I really got together and had fun was… Three years ago.

“Penny for your thoughts?” Daniel sits down beside me. I’m sitting cross legged on the sofa with a laptop on my lap. I glance over at him and frown.

“No, it’s just...” I attempt to tell him, “never mind.”

“No seriously, what is it?” Concern pinches his face as he slides closer to me. “Is it about your parents?”

Damn it. “What are you? Some kind of mind reader or something?” I roll my eyes.

“So... It is about your parents?” He narrows his eyes at me.

I nod my head.

He chuckles briefly. “I’m getting shit good at this.”

Lately, he’s been trying to guess what’s on my mind. Sometimes, I do that thing in movies where I just stare off into the distance and think about random things. At times, it’s about my parents. Other times about Nate. Sometimes Cara too. But most of the time it’s about whether I want to have Chinese food or just regular takeout for dinner.

“Yeah...” I sigh as I close the lid of my laptop and place it aside. “It’s this time of the year that makes me miss them... so damn much.” Daniel smiles, and it’s a sincere one.

I place my elbow on the edge of the sofa and face him, “Is it weird that I kind of miss my parents? After what hell they’ve put me through?”

“No. It’s perfectly normal.” He tells me. “No matter how much they hurt you, they’re still your parents. And you love them. No matter what.”

“That sucks.” I pout.

“Yeap. Don’t you wish you could have chosen your parents instead?” He says, and I’m thinking that he’s asking himself that question too. “Like you could have avoided so much bullshit if you could have chosen better parents that loved you unconditionally.”

I wonder if he’s still talking about me... Or him.

“Uh oh. Having daddy issues again?” I ask him. Lately Daniel’s been super tensed up and I’ve been dying to ask him what has happened. Now, I think I kind of figured it out. It must have something to do with his father.

“I’ve been having daddy issues since my mom died.” He says, like somewhat of a statement.

My eyes widen at the suddenness. I did not expect for him to say that at all.

“Oh shit,” I swear. “You wanna talk about it?”

“You want to talk about your parents?” He asks me instead.

I shake my head no.

“Then, if you’re not sharing. I’m not sharing either.” He sticks his tongue out like a child. I throw my head back and laugh.

“One day.” I promise.

“One day.” He promises too.

I start to think back about what his best friend, Simon, had said to me the other night.

Talk to Daniel. You may not know this, but he’s hurting too. The both of you can really help each other out, if you guys let it happen.

I want to take his advice. God, I do. I want to tell Daniel about everything. And I want to know everything about him too. But it’s like if i do that, I’m sharing a part of myself, a part that even I rarely talk to Cara about. And what will this mean for Daniel and I if we share these vulnerable parts of ourselves to each other?

We will mean much more...

I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Diminishing all thoughts about it, I force a smile on my face. “So are we going to Cara’s Halloween party this weekend?”

“Why the fuck not,” He starts to reach for the TV remote and turns on the television. “Unless we throw our own Halloween party-”

“Uh no. That’s a horrible idea,” I cut him off immediately. “First off, that would totally steal Cara’s thunder. And she will hate me for eternity. Second, we just threw an engagement party less than two weeks ago. I’m really not up for another one in our house. With a bunch of freshmen. Who knows what they’ll be doing in our closet, our kitchen, our bedrooms-”

“Okay I get it.” He chuckles. “So, you rather pass on that responsibility to Cara.”

“Totally.” I laugh. “Since we’re going to the party, what are you dressing up as?”

“I don’t know, actually.” He shrugs as he switches between channels. We finally settle on Law and Order, something I actually like, since this entire week he had been hogging the TV for reruns of DH. “Maybe I’ll go as a sexy detective.”

“Boring.” I pretend to yawn. “You know what we should do? We should match costumes. It’s like the ultimate couple thing.”

“Good idea,” He grins, “What do you have in mind?”

“Let’s go as...” I ponder. “Ron and Hermione or something. Or Harry Potter and Cho Chang-”

“You can’t be Cho Chang. You’re not even Asian. You need to have the eyes to pull her off.” He states.

“Okay. Fine. Um... how about...” I take out my phone and start scrolling through the options I had noted down earlier. “Jace and Clary from TMI?” “Who the fuck is that?” He squints his eyes at me.

“Oh my god. I can’t believe you haven’t even read the Mortal Instruments!” I shriek at him. “It’s the most awesome book series ever!”

“Okay. So, it’s totally a book nerd thing.” “Fuck you, Kerrington,” I huff.

“Okay I’m sorry!” He chuckles lowly, “I didn’t mean to insult your inner book nerd-”

“Whatever.” I roll my eyes. “You know what? If you want the ultimate sappy, we should just go as Edward and Bella.”

“Holy shit!” He exclaims. “That’s a good idea!”

I eye him. Well, I didn’t expect him to agree to it so easily. “Seriously?”

“Why not? It’s completely corny and stupid. And we get major couple points for dressing up as the best fictional couple that has been raved about by thirteen year olds.” He tells me.

“You’re actually serious about it.” My mouth gapes open. “You do realize you have to be a skinny, sparkly vampire, right?”

“Sure, I can pull it off.” He smirks. “I have the blonde hair. And you can pull off Bella. You have Kristen Stewart’s plain eyes, plain nose, and your mouth often hangs open most of the time just like her.”

I immediately clamp my mouth shut. I am not going to be compared to Bella. Nu-uh. “So, Edward and Bella it is,” He chuckles. “Don’t worry, sweetheart. I’ll be your eternal love. Forever and ever and ever.”

Laughing, I chuck a pillow at his face.

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