Part III: Cold, Hard Winter
Michael Hudson looked on in mild irritation as he saw the two best friends laughing for all they were worth.
’Wonder what’s so amusing,’ he thought glumly. ’All the sourness in the world doesn’t seem to matter to the girl…always laughing and giggling… I hate her…’
“Earth to Hudson!”
Michael turned around to see his best buddy, Jonathan Smiles, settle down beside him at the table with a tray of food. Just as his name suggested, his mouth was permanently bent into a merry smile.
“What now, Jon?” grumbled Michael. “Can’t a man brood in peace?”
Jonathan cheerfully shook his head. “Apparently not! Why are you brooding, though?”
“None of your business!”
“Oh yes, it is – and you know it!”
“Heck no, not this time, Jon!”
“Yes, this time, too, Mike!” Michael winced at this, but he did not respond. Jonathan cleared his throat and added, “All right – you tell me what’s bothering you and I promise to let you be.”
Michael grunted. “What’s the point, when I’m trying to hide that from you!?”
Jonathan shrugged. “Don’t care.” He set aside his empty food tray and turned his full attention to his friend. “Yes, now tell me.”
Michael sighed. He knew that once Jonathan was convinced about some God-forsaken feeling, he would be a stubborn goat about it, till he confirmed it.
“Okay. Here’s the deal: Laura Watson’s smile and laughter bother me.”
“Okay,” Jonathan responded, still staring raptly at his friend.
And Michael stared back at him just as intently.
Suddenly, Jonathan straightened up and blinked at his friend in sheer confusion. “Wait…is that all?!”
A small frown playing on his forehead, Michael nodded. “Yes.”
At this, Jonathan hooted with laughter. Michael, with some discomfort, spied Laura and Robert glancing at their direction. His friend, however, took not the slightest notice.
“Pal, I think I know what’s actually messing with your head!” he said, trying to be sober up once again.
Michael’s frown deepened. “What?”
Jonathan grinned mischievously. “Love!”
Michael rolled his eyes at him. “Yea, I don’t think so.”
“Oh really?! You think that cold, hard heart of yours will never find happiness once more?!”
Now, Jonathan’s words were really annoying Michael.
“Jon, you better watch that tongue of yours,” he growled.
“Or what?” Jonathan challenged. “You know you won’t hurt me!”
Michael gave a sudden groan as he realised that this was true. “Well, just don’t go telling me what to do and what not to do!”
Jonathan, all laughter gone, replied, “All right, if that’s what you want. But, promise me that you’ll tell me everything that’s bothering you.”
“I promise.” But, inwardly, Michael thought: ’What is a promise, anyway? Definitely nothing that’ll last forever…’
Jonathan leaned forward. “One more thing,” he added. “You will let her melt that Winter in your heart, okay? Otherwise, she’s going to ignore you, just like always.”
“You know who.”