Part XI: A Quiet Moment
Annalise and Gale Watson seemed rather satisfied with Michael’s story and nodded to him, indicating their acknowledgement.
Laura, upon hearing her friend speak, felt a great deal of weight fall off her shoulders. She sighed in relief when she realised that any of Jenna’s attempts would soon be nipped in the bud.
However, she was still in speculation about a few things, such as the warm rush of feelings that she felt shooting up her spine whenever he smiled at her.
'I wonder what it’s supposed to mean,’ she thought, a slight crease on her forehead.
As though he was reading her mind, she heard Michael whisper in her ear: “Mind taking me some place private? I have something to tell you.”
Startled, Laura looked up and was rather astonished to find his face extremely close to him, sending shivers up and down her sine. Yet…she did not feel uncomfortable in the least.
She blinked away her thoughts, before nodding and leading the way to the staircase on the side of the house. She climbed up and walked towards the opposite edge of the wide space. She held the wall with both her hands for support, bent back a little, and took in the fresh dusk air that surrounded them both.
Michael clearing his throat turned her attention back to him.
“May I speak?” he asked her, a little timid.
“Sure, go ahead!” she replied cheerily.
“Well,” he fidgeted a little, playing with his fingers absently. Then, seeming to make a final decision, he nodded his head and faced her again. “Laura, I have a confession to make.”
Her heart at once did little hopeful somersaults, but she tried to remain calm and drive away the restlessness that was building inside her. At last, she nodded. “Yes?”
“Well, I…I used to play pranks on you, remember?” he asked her. When she nodded her head cautiously, he went on, heart sinking: “Well, it was because I liked you.”
He waited with bated breath to gauge her reaction.
She stared back at him with a blank expression.
Finally, realising that a prompt might do the trick, he said, “So…?”
She blinked back at him. “So?” she asked in such an innocent voice that he could not help but chuckle.
“Well, Laura, if I must elaborate it further, here it is: I had a crush on you from the moment I laid my eyes on you.”
Then, Laura’s eyes widened, her face going scarlet for the second time that same evening. “You…did?” she asked, feeling lame.
He gave a small smile. “Indeed.”
“But, what made you push me away?”
“That’s the funny part… I felt that you were taking me back to being the person I did not want to be.”
Laura’s green eyes widened innocently, making him flinch at the sudden desire that gripped his heart like vice.
At last she spoke, very, very softly: “What kind of a person were you?”
He pointed a finger at her. “The kind you made of me now.”
An involuntary gasp escaped her lips. “I knew it,” she whispered. “I knew you weren’t always so bad…”
He gazed at her, incredulously. “You did?” he asked her.
“Oh yes!” she exclaimed, grinning happily at him.
They stood staring at one-another, drinking in each other’s appearances and trying to judge what they each were thinking. Without realising it, they stepped closer to one-another, still holding gazes. It was as though they were each other’s magnets.
Laura had a sudden urge to touch Michael’s perfect round face with her fingers. As for Michel, he wanted to run his fingers through her silky reddish-brown hair. They were wondering if they were such good ideas or not, when familiar voices floated up the stairs to their ears.
Instantly, as though working in sync, Laura and Michael stepped back and looked away.
“Here you are!” cried Jonathan as he took the last step up the terrace. “We were looking all over for you!”
“Looks like they’re having a quiet moment by themselves,” chortled Robert. “Come on, man, let’s leave them alone!”
This terrified Laura, as she was not so sure what would happen if she and Michael were left alone again.
“Wait – don’t go!” she called back. “You…you came here at the right time!”
The three boys looked at her sceptically. Even Michael was surprised: he did not know what she was talking about.
'Gods above!’ he thought. 'I hope she’s not going to tell them about our conversation just now! That would be plain awkward!’