I only knew how to keep laughing as I listened to Xavier and Alexis beat-boxing and rapping to Eminem’s songs inside Charlie. They were so cute and funny together. And it had been only about fifteen minutes since we were sitting inside the car together, but I’d witness Alexis box Xavier on the face or arm or wherever more than ten times already. I thought Alexis would be scary and I admit I was a bit nervous myself when she came and sat at the back seat of the car, but as the drive continued, I learned that inside she was an iron-coated sugar. I like her.
I had no idea where we were heading to but it sounded fun and I was curious. Alexis said she wanted to go night-driving. I guessed it must be somewhere out of town in an isolated highway but not too far off from town. But what made me more curious was that Xavier said he wanted to do the thing at the place since this was the first night I had actually agreed to go out with him. He wanted to make the best memories. So I wondered what he meant by the thing. He always had me wondering.
Kendra and Connor were behind us in Connor’s car. Hunt and Brittany in Hunt’s truck. Being assignment partners had really polished their friendship. And Matt and Scott were in their own cars.
Alexis and I stayed back inside the car as all the others went to buy drinks and stuffs. Kendra was standing outside the store and doing something in her phone.
“Alex, I’m really sorry about the other night. I guess, I shouldn’t have said that.” I looked back at Alexis and said. She was humming a song. I had already apologised to Xavier but I still felt the need to apologize to Alex too. After all, she was the one who blew up.
She looked at me through the rear view mirror and studied my face. I think she was trying to see through whether I was sincere or not. “Hmmm. It’s cool. You knew nothing anyway. I shouldn’t have been that mad at you.”
“Thanks,” I smiled, “So... Is there a story behind it?”
She stared at me incredulously, “Xavi hadn’t told you anything about it?”
“Hmmm. Well, if he hadn’t said anything then I don’t think I should either. It just isn’t fair. I like you already but I barely know you so... Maybe some other time.”
“Sure,” I nodded willingly, respecting her decision and their trust and friendship.
“Xavi has been through a lot,” she said lowering her tone and I sensed sadness in her voice. Her expression was overtaken by a sudden swipe of pensiveness as if she was reliving a very sad memory, as if she was speaking of her own sorrow. “This street boy thing, this dominating asshole we see everyday is just a cover. Sounds cliche. But you have no idea how broken he is inside,” she paused, sombrely looking down on her lap with a smooth frown, “But I can see that you make him happy. So I want to trust you. I want to believe he can trust you, that you won’t break him like they did. Because it takes all of him to finally admit that someone is the reason for his happiness and cherish that again.”
I didn’t know what to speak as Alexis’ words sank into my chest.
She continued, “So I’m asking you, Alana. If you’re sure, you won’t love him ever then please don’t give him false hope because he’s had more than enough. I won’t stand to watch anybody break him again. And it actually scares me that he already love you too much. He would do anything just to be around you. But if you can love him, then please stay and fix him. He needs you.”
By the time she said those last words, I felt a tight squeeze of emotions inside my chest and the way her pleading eye were looking at me made hot tears pool in my eyes. I misjudged Xavier in the first place. I never knew that he was in so much pain and that I meant that much to him.
I chewed the inside of my lips nervously and asked, “Who...” my voice coming out in a low falter of emotions, “Who broke him?”
“His parents,” Alexis’ voice hardened, “He shouldn’t have loved them too much. He shouldn’t have trusted his mother too much. Now, he can’t even stand to talk about them.”
Looking down at my fingers which were fiddling together nervously on my lap, I realized that Xavier was the weakest and the strongest man I’d ever come across. It’s true that love and hate, happiness and pain, goes hand in hand. And that had led him to wear this unwavering cover of dominance and ruthlessness so that no one will ever break him again.
But he... he willingly risked his trust and let me in through the walls that he’d built and see him. I finally understood how much it meant to him... to finally put his trust on someone, on me. He must be afraid that I would betray him too just like they did. Yet he risked every ounce of himself, his fears, and let me through the shield.
“Hey, Xavi told me that you guys go a long way back to elementary school,” Alex exclaimed, diverting my attention from my thoughts as she stretched her body and reached out for the glove compartment.
“Yeah,” I nodded, “He was very annoying. He used to steal my starbursts every morning,” I laughed.
She laughed too, aloud, “Boys. That’s how they try to grab attention of their crushes,” she smirked as she began digging for something inside the dashboard.
“Huh?” I raised my eyebrows at her, taken by surprise.
“What?” she turned her head to look at me innocently, “It’s obvious he’s always had a crush on you.”
I kept mum. Speechless.
“Got it,” she said, showing me a pack of Orbit in her hands, “Want some?”
I shook my head.
I pursed my lips and looked out the front glass.
She scoffed a bit as she settled back in the backseat, “Don’t tell me you had no idea bout that.”
“Xavier? Since elementary school?” I asked dubiously, finding it hard to imagine that Xavier would be crushing on me since elementary.
“No offence but you’re pretty clueless, right Alana?” she laughed, shaking her head lightly as she chewed on stride, “It’s elementary standard! It’s fucking obvious! Well, it’s granted that you might not know it then but I guess, it’s high time you see through it now.”
Really? Xavier had liked me since elementary? But he was always annoying me.
“Get away from me!! Connor!!” Kendra’s sharp scream made us snap our heads towards her.
We found Kendra caged in the hold of a man who was trying to touch her. Kendra was trying to push him away from her but apparently she was not as strong as the man there. Connor barged out of the store at once, Xavier just behind him.
“Hey!” The two yelled.
“Fuck,” Alex swore and we too got out of the car.
“Don’t you dare touch her, motherfucker!” Connor shouted furiously and pulled the man away from Kendra.
“You okay?” Xavier asked her.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Kendra answered.
By that time, Connor had gotten the hold of the other guy’s collar and beating him up. I had never, like NEVER, seen Connor that angry and ferocious. All of these boys had their own alter-egos. But the other one was also not backing down. He retaliated on Connor with a harder punch, right on the face around his jaws. But then again, that didn’t mean he won. Before we could absorb the scene, they were already fighting wildly outside the store.
I ran up to Kendra’s side and took her hand. For the first time, in a very long time, I saw Kendra freaked out. Apparently, even she doesn’t witness Connor in a brawl that often. She was speechless as she watched Connor fight, wide eyed and calling out for him time and again.
Even Xavier seemed surprised for a while. He stood by for a moment, watching, before he went in to help Connor. He pulled off the man, who was now getting the upper hand, away from Connor and like I expected, he too gave his fair share of punches to the man, until he slumped to the ground.
Then his tall frame standing over the guy, Xavier told him, “Go tell your mother you got that purple for disrespecting a girl.”
Damn. I just swooned.
Seeing that he was outnumbered, the bastard reeled up from the ground and tottered away.
I stood ogling and swooning over Xavier, that I didn’t see Connor come up to Kendra.
“You okay, Kennie?” he took Kendra’s face in his hands and looked at her face lovingly with so much care.
Kennie... Connor only calls Kendra with that name when he is really concerned or worried or something of some different level about her and it’s rare to hear him call her like that because most of the time, they’re always mocking each other... Never serious.
Kendra nodded. I slowly stepped aside to give them space; trying my best not to distract them from the attention they were giving each other. Like I said, it was not everyday that we see them show how much they care for each other. They’re always picking fights with each other.
“Damn. You look horrible,” Kendra said and touched the cut on his lower lip.
“Oww!” Connor winced at her and she giggled.
They were so adorable together. I could almost see heart-shaped confetti raining down on the two of them. I smiled and my eyes met Xavier who was also smirking away in his own world as he watched the two of them. He then smiled at me sheepishly; realizing that he had fought again in front me and he knew well that I so didn’t like to see him fight. But this time, it was different. He fought for my friend’s honor so I gave him a genuine smile mouthing ‘thank you’. At this, he smiled back too and gave me a small nod in response.
As of Scott, he kept asking, “What happened? What did that guy do?”
He was the last to come out and... oh well, Scott is Scott.
Xavier just chuckled and slapped his back.
“Ow! Oww!! Owww!!!” Connor winced over-reactively as Kendra cleaned and applied something on the cut on his lip.
“Shut up! You’re overreacting,” Kendra chided and we all laughed as we watched them.
We had reached the isolated highway and they were sitting crossed legs, facing each other, at the back of Hunt’s truck.
“Show some love. I got this badly wounded because I love you too much, monkey,” Connor groaned.
Kendra pressed hard on his lip and Connor howled in pain.
Kendra laughed, “At least, that’s a genuine ‘ow’.”
“You’re sadistic,” Connor pouted like a child, “This is what I get for loving you, Kennie?” he sniffed, faking by.
“Aww... How do I ever repay you?” Kendra pulled on the puppy-dog eyes.
A mischievous glow sparkled in Connor’s eyes and he said, “A kiss would do.”
“Only that?” Kendra played along.
“Just that. No more, no less,” Connor grinned.
“Aww... You cute Abraham of Monkeys,” Kendra gently pinched his cheeks, “Close your eyes then.”
Connor did, smirking, and then pursing his lips together. I was sure, they wouldn’t kiss, at least not today, but I couldn’t help but wonder what Kendra would do. She opened her purse, pulled out a lipstick, opened the lid and then swipe... She applied it on Connor’s lip.
Oompph!! I gaped and then exploded, laughing. Xavier and Matt chortled beside me. Connor’s eyes shot open. Kendra fell back laughing.
That’s Kendra, people.
“What the fuck!” Connor squealed like a girl, furiously wiping his lips, rubbing the beet red lipstick all over his mouth, and then wincing in pain as he rubbed the cut on the lip.
Kendra and I were clutching our stomachs from laughing.
“Here,” Kendra pulled out some tissue from her purse and helped him rub off the lipstick. “You look hot,” she teased him.
Connor lightly shook his head as he gazed at her amusedly.
Alex and Brittany came screaming victory as Alex parked Charlie on the side of the road like a pro driver.
They were racing against Scott and Hunt and they won. Yeah. Girls against Boys. Alex was the driver and Brittany was the cheerleader. Scott and Hunt came and parked Matt’s car a second later. Scott was the driver in the boys’ squad.
“You lose, Scottie. Now pay up,” Alexis declared and kiss Charlie on the front of the car.
Brittany came out of the car laughing, her beautiful face bright on adrenaline flush.
Scott reached inside his jean pockets and then slammed some bucks into Alex’s hand saying, “You’ll be paying back next time.”
Alex tauntingly wriggled her eyebrows at him, “Nah. Save up more money. Next weekend, I’ll be scraping more from you.”
“I swear we would have won if I was the driver,” Hunt remarked with a groan.
Scott groaned louder, “Come on, man. There’s a very obvious reason behind why you let me drive.”
Hunt showed him the finger.
“Second to Scott,” Brittany said.
“Don’t babe, don’t. When I get behind the wheels, you’ll be drooling for me in slow motion,” Hunt responded.
Brittany rolled her eyes, “Now that’s a universal flaw.”
And here they go a thousand miles down the Bickering Road.
I stared up at the sky awestruck as thousands lanterns lit up the night like thousand stars. Literally speechless at the overwhelming sight, I just stood there smiling widely up at the sky as I took in the light of the lanterns through my eyes to my soul; a good, warm sensation churning inside my stomach. I felt Xavier’s intent gaze watching my face as I kept looking at the thousand floating lights that were finding their way up to heaven. I looked at him and met his smoldering eyes. A warm smile flashed on his strikingly handsome face and the warm sensation inside my stomach suddenly blazed like fireworks.
So this was the thing.
All the others were still noisily indulged in lighting up the many remaining lanterns. A sudden cold breeze whipped across the open land, beating my loose hair against my face and somehow making contact with my skin through the protection of the thin Jersey I was wearing. I heard Alex swear under her breath as the wind blew off her fire. I tried not to shudder at the cold contact on my skin, thinking this kind of situation happens only in movies so I shouldn’t seem dramatic to the touch of the wind. But oh well, Xavier was a genius. He caught the hint that I was cold as I bit down on my lower lip, trying not to shiver.
He smiled, hooked the strand of hair that fell on my face and taking my hand, he pulled me in in between the cars hiding me from the coming breeze.
“Cold?” He asked as he leaned on the side of his Charger with his back, pulling me along towards his body.
“Umm. Kind of... but not really.”
Okay. So what did I really mean?
He opened his jacket and stood there holding the hem of his jacket wide open like it was some door, leading to his warm torso.
Then he smirked stunningly and said, “All yours.”
I widened my eyes a bit at him and gulped noticeably as I stared in his eyes. Realizing what he meant, I smiled down to the ground, watching my right shoe lightly kick the ground. When I looked back up, he had titled his head towards the right like he was looking at a child and was smilingly watching me.
“Come on in, Mongrel,” he said and before I knew it, the moment I heard him call me Mongrel, I had automatically ran into his arms and he at once enveloped me with his jacket, warming me all over almost immediately.
With that he planted a soft kiss on the side of my head, making a grenade of feelings explode inside my stomach. I would have fallen hard on the ground as his affection came over me like a tsunami on my chest and stomach, but he was enfolding me in his arms tight enough like he was claiming me, that I was his, and not even gravity would be able to pull me away from him.
I stood blanketed in his arms with the back of my head resting back on his chest as we watched the lights float calmly up to the vast sea of blackness above.
He plugged in an ear piece in my ear, the other in his saying, “Let’s listen to a song.”
I watched him slide through his playlist. His arms were wrapped around my shoulders so his phone came just under my eyes. He tapped on the song ‘Wanted’ by Hunter Hayes and slid the phone inside his pocket.
You know I’d fall apart without you
I don’t know how you do what you do
Cause everything that don’t make sense about me
Makes sense when I’m with you...
Xavier’s hand came around and held mine, the roughness and the firmness of his knuckles imbuing a warm sense of tranquility and security. By the time the next chorus came about, Xavier was screaming loudly along with the lyrics of the song, making me laugh.
CAUSE I WANNA WRAP YOU UP
WANNA KISS YOUR LIPS
I, I WANNA MAKE YOU FEEL WANTED
AND I WANNA CALL YOU MINE
WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND FOREVER
AND NEVER LET YOU FORGET THAT
THAT I, I WANNA....
“Alright. Alright. We get it, bro. You’re in love,” Scott threw his hands up and exclaimed making us all laugh.
Xavier embrace me tighter as he groaned loudly and buried his face into my hair.
“Mongrel,” he murmured into my neck when the song ended.
He nuzzled deeper into the crook of my neck and asked longingly, “How long will you keep me waiting?”
The question instantly made me tighten my fists, forgetting that he was still holding my hands. Thinking that I got it bad, he rubbed the back of my palms with his thumbs, composing me.
“I’m sorry. You don’t have to answer it,” he said soothingly, “I can wait as long as you want.”
I turned back and faced him. His eyes met mine. And from the way he was looking at me, I could get that he was nervous, nervous that the clueless Miss Alana Lancaster might say ‘Stay away, Arquette’. Yet, he easily snaked his arms around my waist and pulled me closer to his chest. He’d got some guts though and ma I say it was hot. My palms fell on his chest, feeling the magnificently sculpted chest under the fabric of his shirt as I tried not to literally stick with him because... We still had to talk.
I breathed and said, looking into his intense eyes, “Sometimes I really wonder why me when you can get any girl you want.”
His eyes twinkled sweetly when he smiled down at me in response.
He leaned in resting his forehead against mine and breathed, “I don’t want any girl, Mongrel. I want you and only you; my Mongrel,” and he laughed, “my Mushroom.”
I laughed too with him hearing him call me a mushroom. It did nothing major but the fact that he call me Mushroom because I was too clueless was just funny.
His eyes eventually travelled down to my lips and my heart beat began to throb, sensing what might possibly happen next. He leaned in closer and placed a tender kiss on the side of my lips. At this, crumpling the T-shirt over his chest with my fists, I bit my lower lip to suppress a gasp that rose to my throat.
He pulled back slightly to look at me, asking for my permission. Well, I slapped him the first time he kissed me so he took his time to be careful with Nerdy-slappy Alana.
I smiled at him, slowly edging closer to him and tugging fistful of his shirt, letting him know that....
And at that moment, I wanted nothing more or less than for him to just kiss me.
Well... he was not the kind of person that wait around. I could swear that he would kiss me the next second and I could’ve waited for him to do it but then I realized, ‘he has waited long enough’. So... Before he could kiss me, in the fraction of a second I had before his lips touched mine, tiptoeing on my toes and running my arms around his neck, I reached up to him and I... I kissed him.
I kissed Xavier.
Before he kissed me.
I could sense that he was dazed for a moment at the unexpected act I pulled up. Me kissing him would be the last thing he would’ve expected but, FYI Xavier Arquette, even your Mongrel has some surprises up her sleeves.
With my eyes closed and my lips pressed to his, I held my breath and lingered for a while. He didn’t kiss me back. His whole structure of a body had solidified the moment I kissed him but I felt the fists that were grabbing the fabric of my shirt behind my waist had tightened. When I pulled back to breathe, a deep and intense moan escaped from him.
My heels reaching down to the ground, I opened my eyes and looked up at him. He looked down on me with his eyes blazing like a wild fire. He blinked rapidly, the way I always do whenever I’m nervous or surprised. Even his breathing was slightly staggering.
Did he like it?
Or did I do it wrong?
And with those thoughts in my three pound brain, I began to blush regarding my inexperience and all. My teeth sank into my lip at once as I stared into his gaze.
He slowly smiled, gently thumbing my lip out of my teeth and before I had time to even blink once, he took my lips in his, still managing to surprise me like that instant, but this time... I kissed back instantly.
Strengthening his hold on my waist, he pulled me in longingly and deepened the kiss like he’d been starved. I felt him frown on my forehead as the intensity of our touches drove us to the edge, lighting up our soul like the night that was now set ablaze by the glow of the sky lanterns. Our souls were young and they say young love doesn’t last, that it isn’t real. But with him holding me - ‘Hey, whatever. The night is young too just as we are. And this is all real’.
The overwhelming feeling of his kiss heightened ten fold when he let out a soft moan into my mouth, drawing out a moan from me as well as I wrapped my arms around his neck tighter.
“God, I’ve waited for this,” he rasped between kisses, his voice now hoarse and dead sexy.
He continued kissing me. One hand caressing my neck as his thumb lightly grazed along my cheek and jawline, while the other hand firmly pulled me to his body by my ribs, he kissed me deeply yet softly. It was our first kiss so it wasn’t wild like we were going mad. Through the kiss, as much as we were relishing it, we didn’t take it too far. However, the touches of his lips were still just head spinning enough and doing a perfect job in driving me nuts. When we pulled back after a long lingering kiss, my breathing was slightly uneven and so was his. And I wanted more.
I opened my eyes and met his ever mesmerizing brown eyes burning with passion. We just stared at each other through the orange glow of the lanterns for a while, not a word spoken as we kept staring and staring into each other’s eyes, trying to register what just happened. Soon, both of us broke into wide smiles. Well, I went the extra mile and even giggled and he followed with a low and pleasing chuckle. Taking my face in both hands, he gave me one more tender kiss on the tip of my nose and my lips, sweetly sucking my lower lip in between his lips and then he hugged me reeally affectionately.
I was in heaven.
And then suddenly, we heard a round of applause and we snapped our heads towards our friends. There they were, standing in a line and clapping like they were giving standing ovation to an Oscar winner, their faces bright and looking way too happy.
Oh my God!
Xavier’s chest rumbled with a round of laughter and I hid my crimsoning face in his chest as a string of giggles bubbled up from my stomach.
“No problem! We totally support the motion!!” Matt hollered (still clapping) only making Xavier laugh more and me, blush more.
“This is too beautiful. I’m gonna cry,” Scott mimicked a very high pitched woman’s voice.
Hunt hollered, “I’m going to be a Godfather soon!!”
“Assholes,” Xavier chuckled and showed them the finger.