My face turned towards the window away from Xavier, I stared at the glass and watched the dimly lit houses fly by as we drove down the quiet street. I felt him stroke my hand which was on my thigh and entangled with his fingers. I looked at him and our eyes met.
“What happened, Mongrel?”
“I fought with dad,” I answered and chewed my bottom lip to suppress the sobs that were threatening to explode from the back of my throat. I looked down to my lap to hide my pooling eyes from him.
“Because you were late?”
“No. Because he said I can’t go out with you again.”
Like I expected, he stared at me in complete astonishment. I laughed a little at him, seeing that stupefied expression of his. It was one of the cutest reaction on this planet. I knew, it would be nearly impossible for him to believe that Mongrel, who once swore she would never fall for him, fought with her dad because her dad said she wasn’t allowed to go out with him anymore.
Then in no less time, he was smiling. He was also trying his best not to smile because on the other hand, I was in tears but I could easily see how hard it was for him, trying not to show that perfect set of teeth.
Talk about sympathy.
I really felt sorry for him. He must be in a dilemma whether to fist pump or sigh with a hand on his heart.
“Oh.. Umm... I’m sorry,” he said barely hiding his smile.
I scoffed a little with a light laughter, shaking my head, “You don’t have to say that, jerk. I know you’re not sorry.”
At that, he grinned impressively widely, beating the Cheshire cat’s grin. I didn’t know humans could grin that wide with a face flooded with so much of unmistakable glow of happiness.
He laughed loudly. “You got me. Right. I’m actually extremely happy that you fought with your dad because of that. Does that mean you like me too, Mongrel?” He turned to me winking flirtily.
I smirked, “No. It only means you’re becoming less annoying.”
“Ahhh!!” He threw his head back groaning and laughing, “You’re not admitting, are you?” He laughed harder, lightly shaking his head.
“But yeah, I’m actually sorry that you’re crying now. Did it go down really bad?” He said, ending his laughing fit and now, concerned and really sorry, I guess.
I sighed. “It didn’t go that bad but I’m really scared. Me and dad... Our relationship is growing more distant as I grow up. I’m scared that after some time there would be nothing left and we would be just like... strangers.” Tears started to prickle my eyes and my voice was beginning to break. “So I... I didn’t wanna fight with him. I wanted to save every last bit of our relationship but then, it was not fair for you too. None of it was your fault. You were only making me happy and I...”
He suddenly pulled the brake and parked the car at the roadside. I looked at him to ask what was wrong but before I knew it, his lips crashed into mine, startling me. But when he kissed me deeply with so much gentleness, I melted. One of his hand was still holding my hand while the other was gently fondling my neck and pulling my face closer to his as his lips moved slowly and lingeringly against mine. He pulled back a little to let me breathe, our foreheads still touching. I opened my eyes.
“Thank you,” he breathed hoarsely. His eyes were closed and a passionate frown creased smoothly across his face.
In response, my hands naturally went up to caress his face and we kissed again, getting lost in the moment.
Xavier and I sat by a pool in a park, crossed legs, facing each other, with a packet of nuts between us. We sat eating it and chatting away about random things. There was no one else around... Obviously.
“Wanna know what’s the proudest thing I’ve ever done?” He asked me.
“Yeah. What is it?”
He grinned naughtily and answered, “Setting that mini bomb in between you and Garfield. It was epic to watch you jump away from him.”
At first, I just stared at him trying not to laugh but I couldn’t hold back for even give seconds. I laughed out. He laughed too.
What do I do with you, Xavier?
“It still feels like a dream, you know... everything that has happened tonight. After years of crushing on you. Finally...” He said and his eyes twinkled sweetly.
“Since when have you been... Um... Crushing on me?” I asked a bit shy. But I wanted to know if Alex was right.
“You really don’t know?”
“Uhh.. Alex said something. So I wanna know if she’s right.”
“What did she say?”
“That... You have been liking me since... elementary?” I drawled out bashfully in the form of a question.
He instantly smiled. “It’s obvious, isn’t it?”
He threw his head back and laughed, “Ahhh... You didn’t see through that too.” He looked back at me and shook his head, “You’re too clueless, Mushroom.”
“How would I know?! You were only stealing my Starbursts. I thought you hate me.”
“Oh God!” he groaned through chuckles.
He shoved the packet of nuts aside, then he grabbed both of my thighs, startling me and making me stiffen at once at the unexpected touch. But ignoring my reaction, he easily pulled me in towards him. I grabbed his forearms so that I wouldn’t fall backwards as I slid towards him until we were almost hugging. Both his hands easily went round my neck, his thumbs caressing my jawline.
Still smiling softly, he said, “That was only what I did to grab your attention, Mongrel, not because I hated you. Hell, I was hopelessly crushing on you. Most of the kids knew.”
I was surprised. Alex said it too but to hear it from Xavier’s mouth was more astonishing.
“Yes, Mushroom. Ever since.” He smiled. “Well yeah, it was not like I kept thinking about you every single minute these past six years, like some 21st century Romeo, but I kept remembering you whenever my guys told me to get a girl because you were the only girl I actually ever liked... and I used to wonder how you would look like as you grow up.” I watched him smile more softly to himself as he kept speaking, reminiscing by. “I actually missed you,” he said at last and smiled into my eyes.
It was hard to believe that he could actually keep liking me for over six years. Really. Regarding all the facts about me... how I’d never been kissed until Xavier did and how not even a single guy approached me in East Port save for the ten years old Jackson, who said I’m kinda pretty. Besides, that, the scale of me being liked falls to negative zero on the most accurate graph.
Nevertheless, I believed everything that Xavier said. Even the world’s most clueless person, me, could see that he doesn’t really talk to any girl besides me, Kendra and Brittany. Add to that, you know how he left the red head girl who dared to sit on his lap on that party at Hunt’s place. For real, he didn’t even spare her a glance.
And besides all those practical observations, there is an inner voice inside my head that is always pinching and encouraging me to trust Xavier no matter what. It’s like a little red imp with a Trident and black halo above his head who keeps whispering to my ear to keep believing in Xavier no matter what. Just by the look on his face, how he blinks and smiles and smirks and winks, and no matter how cocky he is, I could, most of the time, imagine Puss In Boots with his sparkly, lovable eyes staring at me whenever Xavier does. He’s that influential. No wonder David is head over heel for him.
Shy and flattered beyond words, I looked down shaking my head with a smile playing on my lips.
“You don’t believe me?” He pouted, becoming a pouty Puss In Boots now.
“No. It’s just that. It’s hard to believe.”
“I know... after all that I did to you, kick your feet everyday and steal your starbursts only to feed it to my dog,” he laughed, embarrassed, “I’m honestly and officially sorry for all that, Miss Lancaster. I understand it won’t be easy for you to forgive someone who used to steal your Starbursts but please... Please forgive me.” He chuckled whilst his thumbs kept stroking my cheeks.
I smirked, “I’ll think about it.”
Hearing that, he began to laugh harder, burying his face into the crook of my neck and my skin tingled when it came in contact with his warm breath which were playing tricks on my skin like little breezy fingers. And for the first time, I felt like I actually won. Dream come true.
“Have mercy, please,” he chuckled as he looked back at me. “If you had stayed one more day before you left, you actually wouldn’t find it so hard to forgive me.”
He smiled into my eyes wistfully.
“Why is that?”
At first, he chuckled bashfully. Xavier was actually shy. I couldn’t believe it.
“I came to your house but you were already gone.”
“I came, alright. I came... To your house. That day you left, it was your birthday. I came to school with a packet of Starburst with a man-like decision to tell you I was sorry about everything, and if I have the guts, probably confess that I like you too but you didn’t turn up to school,” he rambled on, feeling beyond embarrassed and I couldn’t look away from him. My heart was racing wildly and doing all the gymnastics I can’t practically do as I listened to his little secret that he had always kept away from me.
“I asked Kendra and she told me you were leaving,” he continued, “It seems Ms. Jamieson (our class teacher) already announced to the class the day before that you were leaving but I was absent that day because I was down with flu. So after I heard that you were leaving, Matt and I came to your house after school, even though we knew we were already late, to give you the Starbursts and all that... But you had already left. Frustrated at myself, I stuffed the Starbursts in the mailbox, kicked it once and went back home. I think that was my first heartbreak.” He laughed with his face to the floor, scratching the back of his head, too embarrassed to even look at me.
For the first time, I saw Xavier blush beet red. And it was waaaay beyond cute. I was almost jumping over him and my hands were itching to pinch his cheeks but I decided not to, knowing that he wouldn’t appreciate that. To someone like Xavier whose ego is as high as the Everest, it’s a crime to masculinity.
“Xavier,” I called.
“I know! I’m embarrassing!!” He exclaimed with a groan whilst wiping his face with both hands in the manliest way.
I beamed, “I think that was cute. I’m sorry I never knew,” while my hands wrapped around his neck, I leaned in and kissed his bright red cheek.
He returned with the warmest hug ever.
“Thanks. All this time, I never thought anybody liked me, except for a ten years old boy who said I’m kinda pretty when I first moved to East Port, if that even counts,” I said hugging him.
“Apparently, that idiot didn’t know you left an eleven year old boy heartbroken in Carlos,” he murmured into my neck sulkily. “And kinda pretty, my ass. You’re the most beautiful girl in the world,” he said whist kissing the sensitive part behind my ear. He even bit it. It tickled and I laughed like a five year old.
Loosening the hug and pulling away, I asked him, “So you’ve never liked any other girl besides or...”
“No. I did. There was a girl,” he replied, disappointing me a bit.
It’s fair actually, even I used to have a crush on Jacob too. So it’s totally fair if Xavier liked any other girl before and after me but... It’s just, you know. It was... um... not an amazing news. Yeah. Now, I fully understand how he would’ve felt when he saw me with Jacob.
Gosh!! It kinda pinches and squeezes real bad. And it kinda hurts too.
“Oh.” I bit my lip and blinked rapidly. “She must be pretty.”
He smiled. “Yeah. She was pretty. I really liked her for sometime. I even wanted to marry her.”
At that word ‘marry’, I felt my eyes widen ever so slightly and a tight, acidic something gripped at my throat. I felt my chest drop to the pit of my stomach. I stared at him staring back at me. Realizing, I was gaping at him with my mouth open, I forced it shut.
“Oo... Oh.” This time, it was getting harder for me to even make out an ‘oh’.
I stammered and was blinking more rapidly than I had ever done in my entire life. I felt like a chicken without its head, not knowing what to say or how to reach to that. I wasn’t feeling well. To hide my saddening face from him, I looked down, averting my face from his intent eyes which were focused on me so very deliberately. It would be embarrassing to have him see my disappointed face. I mean, what was I expecting. I’m nothing compared to all those hot chicks with the perfect Victoria’s-Secret-Model-bodies, who are always around him, trying to grab his attention in the best way they can. Surely, he must’ve fallen for at least one of them.
He’s so handsome it hurts.
“Mongrel?” He called me in a low and soft whisper as he ducked his face to look at mine.
Another dose of acidic something gripped at my throat again at the sound of his voice calling me softly. I felt like wailing.
“Yeah,” I answered in the most normal way I possibly could but I still couldn’t look up at him as a strange feeling of disappointment ate at every part of me, especially the chest, the heart heart heart. Dammit.
He gently cupped my face with a hand and made me look at him. He was smiling softly to my utter surprise.
“You should know that,” he paused for a while making me wait in anticipation.
“Know what?” I asked when he paused too long for me to wait.
“That I’m talking about my third grade teacher, Ms.Jenny,” and he bursted into a train of hyena-sound.
“What?” I blinked, feeling completely mortified.
Without answering me, he kept chortling heartily like he was high on something.
“Oh Mongrel,” he pulled me closer and kissed my cheek really deeply like only kissing wasn’t enough. “You’re too adorable when you are jealous.”
“What? No! I wasn’t jealous!” I exclaimed feeling more embarrassed and mortified and I pushed him away.
“Oh come on. That’s not true.”
“It is. I wasn’t jealous.”
“Uh huh. Really?” His mesmerizing brown eyes were starting to gleam mischievously.
“Really,” I replied.
And I started to move away from him, not really knowing what could be his move but somehow reckoning that it would be something really naughty. But he held me back and didn’t let me move further away from him by gripping firmly onto my waist, his fingers pressing down on my skin making my breath hitch at the contact.
“Really.” His grin became more wider and more mischievous.
“Really.” I began to laugh.
He chuckled, shaking his head. Then, the next moment, I was rolling on the floor laughing and screaming as he tickled me.
“God. Stop!! Xavier! Stooopp!!!” I laughed in between screams. “I can’t breathe, you bad boy!!”
My hands battling with his, I tried to push him off, all the while laughing so hard that tears sprung to my eyes, but, oh well, he was the full packed Xavier Arquette of the Street so, there wasn’t much I could do. He was now hovering above me and the deep sound of his laughter filled the entire area and it strangely made me feel so cozy and secure like it was my blanket. There was no one else around, just him, me and the blanket.
“Xavier. Please. Please. Please. Ple...” I couldn’t stop laughing as he kept torturing my nerves which were now going cranky from the tickles.
Pinning both my wrists above my head with only a hand while the other hand clutched the side of my stomach, he smirked victoriously. “Now admit it, Mongrel, you were jealous.”
I laughed at his face breathlessly, refusing to give up and still too afraid to answer. I knew I wouldn’t be able to take another marathon of laughing fit.
“Admit it, Mongrel,” saying it, he clutched tighter the skin of my side, making my body jerk a little beneath him at the tingle he sent to my nerves through his rough touch.
I bit down hard on my lip, struggling hard not to send another string of giggles or in other words... gasp.
“Mongrel,” he demanded, his voice drop-dead sexy.
I laughed. “Get off me, bad boy.”
“Uh uh.” He shook his head and the fat grin on his godlike face was becoming more fat and more sexy. “Not until you admit it.”
“I can’t admit it. I wasn’t jealous,” I whined hard headedly.
“Well, then.” His rough fingers grazed along my skin and began their torture again.
“Okay! Okay!!” I squealed, my voice cutting through the silence of the night in sharp pitch.
He stopped and I pushed him away as I tried to sit up. Once we were back to our previous sitting position, I wiped the tears off my eyes with my hands and then, inhaled and exhaled two three deep breaths to swallow the remaining laughter.
“So now tell me why you were jealous.” He smirked again, stunning as ever as if he had done his PhD in the very rare field ‘Smirk Like A Greek God’.
“I never said I was jealous. I only said okay.”
He frowned cutely and said, “That’s cheating.” And his hands, once again, began to reach out for me but before he could reach me, I bustled up from my placed and dashed away from him.
He followed suit and soon he was chasing me around the pool. With that athletic physique of his, there was no way I could out run him unless there was some help from bibbidi bobbidi boo. So I came up with a plan. I stopped on my track abruptly when he was just a step away. His eyes widened foreseeing his heavy body falling over me, only missing out to foresee what was running in my mind.
Time for Arquette!
I shoved him on his chest with both hands towards the pool.
“Hey. Hey. Hey!!” He shouted as his arms flew up and began making circles in the air trying to balance his body and not fall into the water as his wonderful, tall frame hovered on the edge of the pool just above the water.
I laughed triumphantly, knowing that there was no way he wasn’t getting a dip into the cute pool below him. As I kept laughing, a sudden clutch on my wrist and a slight yank got me reeling forward and in the blink of an eye, I fell into Xavier’s chest, his arms firmly hugging my ribs.
My eyes bulged. He smiled. Registering the next thing that would follow, I braced onto the fabric of his T-shirt, squeezing my eyes shut and burying my face into his chest, down went Xavier and me into the pool.
His back hit the water first and I didn’t get wet until the water rose like tsunami around us and finally swallow us both.
Underwater, I felt Xavier’s arms tighten around me as he swam us both to the surface. Resurfacing out of the water, I desperately gasped for air while the cold chill of the water bit on my skin like needles. My arms were hugging his neck as tight as I possible could while I clung to him. Looking at me, he chortled loudly throwing back his head and I hated the fact that he wasn’t the least bit flushed by the water or by the chill, but he was looking more of a male model wet and hot and sexily tanned under the sun... only better and no sun around.
I was lost for words as the coldness defunct my brain. Blinking off the streams of water that streamed into my eyes, I just stared at him, breathing... more like gasping. His hold on my body loosened a bit as he sent a hand through his wet hair and I hugged his neck tighter to keep my body upright in the water. After pushing back his bronze locks back, he pulled me back flush against him; so close to the point that I felt the hard, sculpted packs of his abdomen pressed against my stomach. My breathing hitched immediately at the feel of his body on mine and as he dipped his face so that our foreheads were touching. The only thing acting as a barrier between us were our shirts. Previously, both of us wore jacket over our thin fabric shirts but we had removed them as we sat chatting... and don’t forget eating nuts.
“It’s cold!” I finally said something.
He laughed. “Yes, it is, babe.”
I frowned at him.
“So,” he breathed, “You’re not admitting it, are you, Mongrel?”
Smiling slowly, I shook my head.
“Then, I will make you,” he rasped and began kissing me . . . Like really kissing me.
Grabbing me by my nape, he deepened the kiss swallowing all the gasps and moans that were gurgling loosely at the back of my throat. The fervour in the kiss was so intense that I found it hard to believe that it was only a kiss and not something more than that. I had to gasp, for me to adapt to the intensity. With the coldness of the water and the effect of the kiss, I was already breathless and when I did let out a small gasp, it came out in a heated, heavy exhale.
Taking that as an opportunity, his tongue darted in for the first time inside my mouth and I almost fainted at it. Deepening the kiss, he suddenly moaned loudly into my mouth and so did I, as a burst of feelings exploded like supernova inside my stomach at the sound of his rasp moaning.
“Tell me, Alana. Do you not want me?” He demanded between kisses. “Tell me.”
The words were hanging weakly at the tip of my tongue, ready to slip any moment; that I wanted him, that I was jealous because I wanted him all for myself.
I like Xavier. I want Xavier and I want him all for myself, mine alone.
And oh God, how could a human kiss so good.
His hands flowed down from my neck to my waist, down my thighs, to my knees and my breathing suddenly stopped as he hitched my legs around his waist so that I was straddling him.
I wasn’t so confident in the beginning but the way he was kissing me was making me bold, weak and strong at the same time. He made me feel wanted and confident. So I clung onto his neck tighter with all my might and my fingers began to rake through his hair, grasping fistful of his locks as I tugged him closer to myself.
“I’ll never get enough of you,” he breathed in between the kiss.
Brushing his lips against mine, both of us battling for dominance, he purred into my mouth, the heat of his breath sending a spiral of chills down my spine finally drawing a moan that had been trembling at the back of my throat.
Heaving heavily, trying to inhale any possible amount of air, I pulled back to breathe. His breathing was as heavy as mine too but he was nowhere near done. He began kissing and nibbling my jaw line. My fingers kept roaming through his hair and I tugged his head more to my body as I felt his heated lips travel down my neck leaving sparks all along.
I had never experienced anything as intense as this but I didn’t pull away, neither did he stop. The kiss only kept growing more passionate and heated and soon enough we were both on fire.
“Alana,” he called breathlessly, “Be my girlfriend.”
Of all the reasons I liked him, one was because he never asked me to be his girlfriend. But since he asked after we started going out together and I like him a lot already... Oh well. And this time, before I knew it, the words beat me to it.
“Yes,” I had answered in a sigh without wasting another priceless moment.