I stopped my car in front of a breathtakingly beautiful contemporary styled house. After making sure that I have the correct house - the big house with a black gate with horizontal slats, according to the guard in the village entrance - I stepped out of my car.
I rolled up the sleeves of my light blue button-down shirt. To complete my boyish outfit, it’s paired with khaki chino shorts and sneakers. Most of my wardrobe consists of men’s clothes, I like them better than girls’.
I was about to ring the doorbell when someone stepped out of the door. I could see someone walking towards me through the gaps in the gate.
The gate opened revealing a beautiful girl with raven-black hair and piercing gray eyes. I still can’t believe I’m gonna be spending most of my senior year with this gorgeous girl in front of me.
My eyes scanned her outfit. She was wearing a white loose v-neck t-shirt and denim shorts that flaunted her flawless legs. My eyes lingered on there for a second longer before I heard her clear her throat.
“Learn to be more discreet when you’re checking someone out.” She pointed out.
I sheepishly smiled at her. “Can’t help it. You look gorgeous, Gray,” I beamed. “And most of the time they’re checking me out too.”
“I’m not, am I?” She raised an eyebrow at me.
“That’s why I said most.” I chuckled and opened the passenger door for her. She seemed surprised by the gesture. She muttered a ‘thank you’ before going in. “Seatbelt please,” I added before going over to the driver’s seat.
“Is my outfit appropriate?” she asked.
“Yeah, don’t worry,” I said. “The first time I went there was after a game. I was just wearing a t-shirt and my jersey shorts.” The recollection made me smile.
“Where exactly are we going?” she asked again.
I glanced at her before answering, “It’s a restaurant just outside town. It’s a nice place, I think you’ll like it.”
She didn’t say anything but I saw her nod from my peripheral vision.
“So,” I began. “Do you have any siblings?”
“I have 3 older brothers,” she replied while looking out the window.
That was unexpected. I nodded my head even though I know she can’t see me. “Now I see why you seem to give off the spoiled rich brat aura.” I joked.
“Yeah sue me.” She said flatly.
I shook my head in astonishment, grinning to myself. This girl really is something.
“Are we there yet?” she asked shifting in her seat.
“We’re near. Why do you look bored all of the time?”
“Is there anything interesting in this particular conversation?”
I nodded my head slowly. “Point taken.”
And we reached our destination at last. At the front of the restaurant was the word “Tiolo’s” in cursive font.
I’ve eaten several times with my family and friends here and this place never disappointed me.
“Table for 2 please,” I told the man at the entrance.
“This way ma’am.” He indicated for us to follow him inside.
I chose this restaurant because it has a comfortable ambiance that makes you feel at home. The food tastes good without being pricey, the staff is friendly and the service is great. Paintings of forests and mountains lined the beige walls. The man left us after leading us to a table covered in white.
After examining the menu for a few minutes, I called for the waiter.
“I’ll have a chicken barbeque and mushroom soup side. And a lot of extra barbeque sauce please.” I said happily to the waiter. He turned to my companion to take her order.
“I’ll have a medium rare rib-eye steak with roasted garlic lemon broccoli side,” Gray stated. The waiter repeated out orders and left us alone.
There weren’t many people eating so the place was unusually quiet. I decided to break the silence. “Are you really not going to talk to me?”
“There’s nothing to talk about,” she said casually.
“We should at least talk to each other, we’re going to be partners for the whole year after all. How about this, let’s ask each other questions in turn. You can go first.” I grinned at her.
“I’m not interested,” she responded. I was kind of expecting that.
“I am so I’ll go first. Are you single?”
That caught her off guard. She raised an eyebrow at me before replying, “That’s none of your business.”
I smirked. “So you’re in a relationship. If you were single you would’ve just said so. Is that the reason why you’ve been rejecting everyone who confesses to you?”
“Stop making things up, I’m single,” she admitted before rolling her eyes at me.
“Have you ever had a boyfriend?” I asked curiously.
I narrowed my eyes at her, “Really? Never?”
She nodded once, “Never.”
Our conversation was shortly interrupted when our orders arrived. I mumbled a “thank you” before dismissing the waiter.
“Does you not having a boyfriend have anything to do with you having 3 older brothers?” I continued interrogating her.
She scoffed. “As if. I don’t let anyone decide what I want to do with my life.”
I took a bite of my food before proceeding to my next question. “Why do you distance yourself from everyone?”
“Why do you ask so many questions?” she asked, annoyed.
I leaned forward, “I’m curious,” I said looking into those deep gray eyes. “And you said you weren’t interested.”
“That doesn’t mean I have to answer every question you throw at me.” she sliced a portion of her steak. “It’s unfair if you’re the only one asking questions so I’ll play along.”
“Shoot,” I made a go-ahead gesture with my hand, urging her to ask.
She thought for a moment before asking, “You aren’t fully American, are you? Sometimes your accent is different.”
I chuckled. “I’m surprised you noticed. My mom’s a Filipina. I was born and raised in the Philippines. We moved here when I was, I don’t know, 14 maybe? I can’t remember. But I got here freshman year.” I explained.
She nodded her head slowly, satisfied with my answer. “Why did you move here?” she followed.
“It was always the plan. Pops wanted us to live here when we grew up.” I say a matter of factly.
“Do you ever miss it there?” she asked softly.
“A little,” I told her, not wanting to explain any further.
The night went off with us asking and answering questions. But I felt like even if we continued talking for hours I still wouldn’t feel closer to her at all. She has built a wall around her that doesn’t allow anyone to get too close. She never answered anything that’s related to her feelings. Never said a word about friends, never smiled. Not once. She didn’t even seem entertained. It felt like she was just tolerating me for the sake of our paper. I didn’t think I’d care at all but it stung. A part of me was hurt.
I asked the waiter for our bill. Gray insisted on paying for her meal but I refused. She got pissed at me and said, “I can pay for my own meal.”
“I know, but consider this a bribe, for putting up with me.” I forced myself to give a smile but my voice gave me away. In the end, I paid for everything. Gray said she’ll write the review.
As we were leaving the restaurant, I noticed a matte black Lamborghini parked next to my car. It made my C-Class Sedan look cheap. I let out an appreciative whistle. “Nice ride,” I said to no one in particular.
2 girls emerged from the vehicle. The one that came out of the passenger seat was a girl with auburn hair and brown highlights. The other girl was a sexy brunette. They were both stunning.
As they were heading to the restaurant our eyes met and the brunette instantly froze. She stopped in her tracks and her eyes were wide with shock. The redhead noticed her companion was acting weird and I heard her ask, “Janelle, what’s wrong?”
Does she know me? Because I’m pretty sure I don’t know her. I would’ve remembered that pretty face anywhere.
The girl, Janelle, wasn’t paying attention to her friend but instead, her eyes were glued in my direction. I thought she was gonna stay like that forever until her lips parted and uttered a name, “Alex.”
Now I’m confused. How does she know my name? Is she supposed to be someone I know? And why does she looked so surprised? I was about to speak up but someone spoke beside me.
“Janelle,” her voice was strained. As if just muttering that name was causing her pain.
I looked at Gray and I couldn’t believe what I saw. Her gray eyes were full of sadness. So much sadness that it was painful for me to look. Her eyes were glistening as if any moment now she’s going to cry.
Then it dawned on me. The girl wasn’t looking at me, she was looking at Gray. They must’ve known each other.
Before I can fully understand the situation, Janelle rushed to Gray and pushed me out of the way. I almost fell to the ground. She hugged Gray fiercely. For a moment, everyone was too stunned to speak.
Gray didn’t move an inch. She didn’t hug her back nor did she make any move to break free. “Get away from me,” she ordered, her voice threatening to crack.
“I missed you,” Janelle whispered in Gray’s ear, barely audible for me to hear.
“I said get away from me!” her voice was louder, firmer and angrier this time, making Janelle’s hold on her loosen. She used this opportunity to break free from the embrace.
Janelle looked stunned. She squeezed her eyes shut and opened them again before saying, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me.”
Gray’s expression hardened. Her eyes were glinting dangerously like the clouds before a thunderstorm. It felt like thunder could flash from her eyes at any moment. “How dare you,” she hissed in a low voice.
“Please, Alex, let me explain,” Janelle’s eyes were pleading.
“I don’t need your explanation,” Gray said through gritted teeth. She turned her attention towards me, “Let’s go,” she ordered.
It took me a second to register her words. I was taken out of my trance and moved swiftly to open the door for her. I could feel Janelle’s eyes carefully watching every move I make.
“Is she your new girl?” Janelle asked and I almost tripped over my own foot.
Before I could deny her accusation, Gray responded, “It’s none of your business,” she said in an apathetic tone. She seemed more composed now. She went in without another word.
I gave an awkward smile to the 2 girls standing at the entrance before hopping into my car and driving off.
I let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding when we were a distance from the restaurant.
What the fuck just happened?
Who was that girl? Why is Gray mad at her? What is she to Gray? A million thoughts are running through my head faster than my car can go. I want to know. I wanted to ask Gray even though I know that there’s no way she’ll tell me. I know it’s none of my business but after what had just transpired in front of me, I can’t help but wonder.
I stole a look at my companion. She was looking down at her hands which were gripping the pouch she brought with her tightly. She was trembling.
“Are you okay?” I asked her for the second time today.
Maybe she didn’t hear me. I was about to repeat the question but the words got stuck in my mouth as I saw a single tear run down her cheek.
I pulled over without a second thought. I stopped in front of an old playground. My footsteps echoed in the dead of the night as I quickly went out and went over to her side.
She wiped another tear with the back of her hand. I bent down to the point where I was almost kneeling. “Hey, don’t cry,” I said as I carefully wiped her tears with my handkerchief.
I can’t bear to see this. I hate seeing girls cry. I unbuckled her seatbelt so she can breathe properly. As soon as her belt was unbuckled, she did something I would never have imagined in a million years. She hugged me.
My breath hitched. I feel her body vibrate on every sob. My hands moved automatically, caressing her back. “It’s okay. I’m here,” I said softly.
I ran my hand through her silky black hair, tucking it away from her face. Her hair smells nice. I wonder what shampoo she uses. She feels so warm. I internally scolded myself for thinking about these things while she was crying.
I hate that girl for making Gray cry. Every sob I feel is my heart breaking into pieces. I wanted to go back to the restaurant and make her apologize to Gray. I wanted to punch her. I wanted to hurt someone.
I kept whispering soothing words to her as she cried silently until I felt the dampness in my shoulders. We stayed like that until she finally calmed down. To my dismay, she pulled away from the hug. I immediately felt cold, already missing her warmth. “Drive me home.” Her lips slightly brushed my ear as she said the words. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.
I offered her my handkerchief. She took it without saying anything.
For the rest of the ride, the windows were open. The chilly night air seemed to comfort Gray. Before I knew it, we were already in front of their house.
Gray grabbed my hand to stop me from getting out of the car. They were soft like I knew they would be. “Stay here.” I was about to argue but she spoke again. “Thank you, I really appreciate it.” Both her eyes and her words were full of sincerity.
I had no choice but to stay inside the car. I waited until she was safe inside the gate before I drove off. I drove until her house was only a blur in the distance. I drove until I had lit a cigarette and felt the familiar texture of the filter touch my lips. I drove until my thoughts threatened to consume me.
And I let them.