I visited the public library; not that I was an extremely enthusiastic student who was dying to start studying something but that reading books was the only thing I could come up with when it came to killing time. I knew I wasn’t the fun type. Besides, the library was just across the street and two blocks away from David’s school, Kingston Elementary School.
It was Wednesday and David had music class which means they would be released from school a bit latter than usual. I picked a book on diseases and symptoms. I liked reading ’bout them. It was, in a way, also a form of security. As I went through shelves after shelves, I surprisingly ran into Jacob.
“Hey,” he smiled at me, looking up from the book in his hand.
“Hi,” I replied and my voice came out a little breathless from the surprise.
“You come here often?” he closed his book and faced me.
“No. It’s my first time. I’m just looking for a way to kill time while I wait for David,” I answered.
“In that case, there’s nothing better than boring books to kill boring time, is there?” he grinned.
Surely he joked. There was no way that he would mess with books. He came here for a very good reason. Kendra and Brittany had told me a lot about this smart guy from Spencer’s High. Cool and charming as he could be, he was known to give admirable attention to his studies just as much as girls worked to get his attention. But that was not in my case and what he said fitted perfectly in my way so I laughed.
“So, you like reading . . . Science?” He looked at the book I had picked.
“Yeah, it’s fun,” I said.
“You little pretty nerd.” He came over and pinched my cheek as he smiled the mesmerizing Jacob-smile.
Oh, dear. The sudden flick of a smile was so cute.
I smiled back, saying, “Yeah, you old man.”
He chuckled and put back his book.
“You come here often?” I asked.
“Yeah. Spencer’s High is just around the corner.”
“Oh.” I nodded.
We chatted away most of our time; among the labyrinth of shelves, as we sauntered on and on and finally ended whispering in the reading room. He gave me hard time struggling to stifle my laughter as he told me all the corniest and funniest jokes. He knew so much he sounded like he’d done global survey.
I checked the time on my phone after about half an hour. It was time for me to leave and get David.
“I have to go get David now.” I stood up from my chair to leave.
He walked with me till the main door. He said he had a book to look for so he stayed back. I bet he meant few more books. A second later he called my name and I almost jumped.
I turned back, “Yeah?”
“Are you free this Saturday night?” his eyes twinkled.
“How about a movie?” He smiled, “I swear, It’ll be a good one.”
Inside my head, I squealed.
Stop it blockhead!
The other half of me really detested my presumptions. But hey, it’s a girl thing. Who can help it, right?
Lost in the thought that had already reached Saturday night way before time actually did, I stood without answering him.
“We’ve never really been out since you came,” he added.
“Okay.” I smiled back, coming back to the present from the future.
I must have looked like Garfield, the fat cat with the funny grin. Garfield grinning at Garfield - epic moment. I cracked myself in my mind sometimes.
There was an awkward exchange of smiles and then I raced off to my Chevy, which I’d bought just few days after I moved back here. My stomach felt like it had flipped upsidedown and it felt so good.
The pleasant feeling lingered on as I drove to David’s school. David wasn’t at the yard but there was no freaking out. If not in the yard, most likely he would be at the bus stand. True enough, he was sitting there... with Xavier.
Ecstatic spirit murdered by the sight of him.
I drove up to them and called David through the window, “Come on, David.”
Xavier’s gaze bore into my eyes like sores.
David sprang up, saying, “Gotta go.”
Xavier stood up too. They did the guy thing; light punches of the fists and David hopped on. I wondered since when they became so buddy-buddy.
“Wait,” Xavier said as I was about to drive away.
He slightly ducked his head in through the window from David’s side and said, “I want your number.”
“You won’t get it.”
That felt like the easiest answer ever.
He faked a naughty grin, “That’s okay, Mongrel. I’m just asking. You know, casual decency. I’ll get it anyway.”
I drilled my eyes sourly into his. He scoffed with a very sexy and mischievous crooked smile and straightened his posture. With one more scowled, I drove off.
Who the hell does he think he is? Hit man? My foot.
But I knew he’d get it anyway like he said.
“Why didn’t you give him your number?” David asked.
“Because I don’t want to,” I said, looking ahead at the road.
“But you’re friends,” he sounded confused.
“No. He’s not my friend.”
“But you know each other.”
“Knowing each other doesn’t mean we’re friends all the time. In our case, it means we’re known enemies,” I explained.
David frowned, “He’s nice. I like him.”
“Well, you won’t if you were me,” I said.
“Because he’s an asshole.”
Then I bit my tongue. I was supposed to mind my language around my younger, innocent brother.
“I mean... He’s an annoying person,” I corrected.
Anyway, let’s not make a big deal out of it. David will learn it all in few years, whatever.
“He’s not,” David sort of argued.
“He is!” I raised my voice.
“No! He’s not!” He raised his as well.
My face distorted and I glared at him, “Are you serious? I told you he is!”
I couldn’t stand anybody defending that asshole. And to hear my brother, my best friend for life, defending him against me was a hundred fold more frustrating.
“You should stop seeing him. He’s making you un-adorable.”
“I don’t wanna be adorable,” he shrugged, “I wanna be cool like him.”
“Girls don’t like guys like him. You better not want to be like him if you want a girl,” I retorted stupidly.
What was I thinking. He’s just eight and the thoughts of girls should be basically out of his mind at this stage of his and its my job to keep him innocent. No swearing, no girls... But for now I just want to manipulate him as much as that jerkwad did. No strings attached.
“Girls are stupid,” my dear brother replied, folding his arms over his chest defiantly and then looked at me, “Just like you.”
“See. That’s what I’m talking about,” I squaked, “He’s manipulating you. He teaching you all the wrong things. Girls are not stupid.”
“He didn’t teach me that. I know it,” he shrugged again.
Dialing 911 would be the best idea for now. I’m having a nervous breakdown. I might drive straight into a traffic post.
“He’s bad influence, David.”
David grumbled, “Just because you don’t like him doesn’t mean I should not like him too.”
“Now don’t act so smart,” I spanked him on his thigh.
He retaliated with consistent punches on my arm, “You’re the bad influence. He’s nice! I like him! You’re bad!!”
“David, stop it! I’m driving.”
“You’re bad! You’re bad! You’re bad!!”
“David! Stop! Stop it if you wanna live!”
The next morning, by seven I was ready and set to move out. I picked my backpack and started to leave my room. Two honks from the driveway below stopped me from stepping out of my door. I walked back to my window, moved the curtain and looked down.
Can anything get worst? If that black Charger keep appearing before me, I might for sure set it on fire one fine day.
He stepped out of the car and looked up straight towards me. Our eyes met through the window. Then he did the unthinkable. He blew me a kiss. I cringed. He smirked. With enough force, I pulled the curtain over the window pane, shutting his face out of sight.
If I die young, bury me in satin.
Lay me down on a bed of roses....
The ringtone I’d set for callers not in my contact list blew up.
“Told you I’d get it,” the other on the line replied.
It got me puzzled a moment but soon I yanked back the window curtain open. There Narcissist stood with his cell phone to his ear, grinning widely.
“Get down, Mongrel. You and I gotta go.”
You and I, my foot.
Finally it was spontaneously proven to me that everything happens for a reason. The ultimate example being setting The Band Perry’s song as my ringtone. Moving back here and meeting him is a sure sign of my dying young.
The doorbell rang as I scuttled down in my worst of state. Holy batman! Dad is still home, idiot! Just the way I had prayed it should not happen, dad answered the door.
“Morning, sir,” I heard Narcissist’s voice.
Right at that instant, I felt like my blood had been replaced with 99% concentrated sulphuric acid. I’m burning. I’m steaming. I’m evaporating. Dear God....
He’s the second guy ever to show up at my door. Jacob is the first and he dared to because dad knows him as my best friend and dad likes him. He’s not only just my friend but dad’s as well. And that friendship has more than a million reason to do with him being the perfect epitome of a good boy. But this guy right here, standing bravely in front of my father’s eyes is no less than the perfect epitome of a bad boy. He could be more than the typical bad boy. There is much difference between Jacob and him as much as there is difference between sweet and bitter. And his bad boy, the-devil-may-care personality is more than ten thousand miles far from my dad to ever like.
Why am I even thinking about dad liking him? There’s no need for that.
“What brings you here?” Dad’s stern voice knocked on every nerve in my body.
“Alana, Sir,” he answered without waiting a second, “I’m driving her to school.”
I’m choking. I can’t breathe. I’m choking. Oxygen! Oxygen! Why does he has to be so damn confident? Dad hates it. Narcissist, don’t irritate dad, please. He isn’t me. And irritated Dr. Ryan Lancaster is the last thing you and I would wanna see, FYI.
From halting midway on the stair, I resumed my descend, mustering up all the courage from all four directions to reach them in time before anything go wrong.
“Hi,” I squeaked.
If they hadn’t seen it was me, they would surely have thought there was a mouse in the house.
Xavier smiled widely, brightly, actually handsomely at me... Rendering me speechless.
“Hi, Alana,” he answered.
For the first time, he actually sounded human, greeting me with my real name (no Mongrel).
“So he’s driving you to school, sweety?” Dad looked at me.
There was no sign of disapproval but I couldn’t help shaking a bit. It was not like dad would transform into a werewolf in a blink and devour his daughter absentmindedly, the thing is that I had never found myself in a situation like that, where a boy turns up to drive me to school besides Jacob. But, of course, Jacob is an exception and dad can be the worst of the worst if he chooses to be.
“I... Uh. Um... Yeah. I guess he is,” I stammered.
“Uh, no. He’s a friend from elementary school,” I answered, breathing to calm my nerves.
The mention of elementary school might add sugar, I hoped.
“Xavier!” David exclaimed.
I looked back. What a glow of delight in innocent David’s face.
“Hey buddy,” Xavier smiled back warmly.
Yes. I’m not just saying. There was a swipe of pure warmth in his soft smile. No wonder half of the girls in town fall flat and worship the ground he walks upon. He could be an angel or a devil anytime he chooses to be.
“You know each other?” Dad asked David.
“Yeah. He’s my friend,” David answered, “and Alana’s enemy.”
I choked on my spit. Dad eyed me weirdly. I presented a quick smile.
“Uh. We gotta go. We’re late,” I hustled up.
My idea was to get away as fast as possible and start chastening Xavier and tell him to never show up at my door again.
“Okay,” Dad embraced me in a half hug.
“Thanks,” I said and stepped out.
“See you around, David. Sir,” Xavier acknowledged them both with a nod each before walking off with me to his car.
On the way, I hissed through clenched teeth when I knew we were far enough from the door, “Who told you to come pick me?”
“No one told me not to so I came.”
“You’re crazy. I almost had an heart attack.”
“Why? Does seeing me affect your heart that much?” He said, smirking smugly.
I was ready to Usain Bolt to God-knows-where the moment I know dad wasn’t watching us anymore. But it was most possible that he would be staring and studying us the way he studies his patients so I had no other choice but to drive with Xavier this unfortunate morning like good friends.
“Yes. Seeing you is as horrifying as watching The Exorcist.”
He laughed, “No worries, Mongrel. No one can help disliking this Brad Pitt for long. You’ll get over it soon.”
“I’m not one of your senseless fan girls. You can’t manipulate me with that charming smile of yours,” I rattled in a run as I stomped on beside him.
He suddenly halted his step, “What was that?”
I looked at him. He was barely forcing back a smile. At that point, my face began to burn fiery red.
Numbskull, what have you said?
Charming smile, for real?
I wished I had a stroke right there and then. My body seemed to burn beyond embarrassment. I think I was also beginning to sweat. I blinked my gaze away from him. I couldn’t stand looking at him.
“I... Uh, I...I,I,” I stuttered badly.
Now that was even more senseless. Why can’t I just stay shut and simply ignore it like it was absolutely not a big deal!
Maybe he noticed how embarrassed I was that he spoke no more and instead he quickly walked forward and opened the front seat, passenger door for me saying, “Your drive awaits, my beautiful mongrel.”
My entire body benumbed over the already killing excessive embarrassment. I became a solid sculpture. My? Beautiful? That was the least expected; the last thing I would expect to hear from his mouth. I stared at him. He gazed back at me and a little later tilted his head to one shoulder as is if gazing at a kindergarten girl, smiling softly.
Am I suppose to blush harder?
Maybe, but the hint of softness in the way he gazed gave me strength to breath and recollect my strayed senses.
Finally I answered, “Not yours, Narcissist,” and stepped up.
He pushed his lower lip out and pouted like an unhappy child. It was cute. I almost smiled at him. So I looked away instantly and smiled to myself as I climbed in. He closed the door behind me and went round the front of the car to get to his seat. It was impossible not to watch him. Even just the way he walked was out of words.
He was simply dressed in a maroon sweatshirt with a logo and dark washed jeans but he looked like he fell down from heaven.
Why does he look good in everything?
Even the way he walked was attractive; straight, bold and masculine. When he got in, I swallowed my smile, shoved away my secret thought and sat expressionless.
I felt like a small devil.