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Chapter Thirteen

“What are you thinking about?” Leo heard Marie’s voice ask. He looked up from the drink in front of him to turn his towards her. He examined her worried gaze that was framed with her shaped brows and eye makeup before letting out a low sigh.

They’d both gone to get a drink at an open café. Marie was wearing a plain white blouse with a pink flair skirt, while Leo was in his usually get up of casual jeans and a loose clean shirt.

“I’m not exactly sure,” Leo sighed as he turned his head towards the flowers that decorated the paths in the square. They had chosen a table under the shade and away from the pesky insects that wandered about the flowers that were about the corners.

“At least try to explain it to me.” Marie shrugged, bringing the colorful straw in her cup to her glossed lips. Leo watched her drink the yogurt in her glass cup for a while before turning his attention to her voice when she started speaking again.

“Is it about Al?” she asked all of a sudden. Leo nodded with a sigh as he rested his head on his interlaced fingers. Al has been quiet lately, only talking when he had to. He ignored any of Leo’s advances to help him at whenever he could. A pity, seeing as Leo and even arranged for Al to play with the orchestra just the afternoon he’d made his odd request to be left alone.

“I don’t understand why he suddenly doesn’t want my help anymore,” Leo said, airing his thoughts. Marie nodded at his words, making the bangs of her pixie cut bounce around her face with the action.

“It’s rather odd,” she admitted as she took a sip of her drink again. It was getting a lot brighter, and the sunlight was making its way under the shade to bath them with its evening glow.

“He said something about not wanting to take advantage of my kindness...” Leo trailed. He’d talked about the whole situation with Marie before, but he’d been vague and hadn’t presented it as something that was bothering him.

“He said that?” Marie asked, making Leo look towards her before nodding. She frowned slightly, turning her straw in her drink as she seemed to put on a thinking face.

“I thought he just said you shouldn’t pity him? What’s this about taking advantage of your kindness?” She asked as she stared down at her drink.

“Yes, I didn’t just expand on it,” Leo explained as Marie bit her bottom lip before staring straight at him with her doe brown eyes.

“Does he like you... Has he told you he likes you?” Marie’s sudden words made Leonardo frown deeply as he tried to pinpoint what she was talking about. What did she mean by like? Was it romantically?

“Do you mean romantically?” Leo muttered in a low voice as he watched Marie nod. He sat up, shaking his head at her reply.

“Err... That’s a bit far off in terms of making a conclusion, don’t you think?” Leo said as he reached out for his transparent cup of pulp orange juice that he’d been ignoring since they got there. He watched Marie shrug at him as she continued to sip her drink.

“It’s not really far off. It’s the only reasonable conclusion I could come up with. he’s probably trying not to be a burden, and if he doesn’t like you in that way he at least admires you to an extreme,” Marie tried to explain her take, making Leo’s grip on his cup tighten as he listened to her.

Leo was trying to digest Marie’s words. He’d admit that it was very hard to picture... He didn’t see Al that way, and he didn’t think Al’s words or behavior were an indication that he felt that way either. How could Marie possibly read that into it?

“I think that’s a bit far-fetched,” Leo said, airing his opinion as he pushed the blond small hairs that were sticking to his forehead away.

“It’s just my opinion,” Marie said with a small shrug as she continued sipping her drink from its straw. A prolonged silence followed right after, making Leo uncomfortable as he and Marie drank in the pin drop silence.

“Do you want to go for a walk?” Marie asked out of the blue, piercing the silence and making Leo nod as he let out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. They then left the open café for the sidewalk after they paid for their drinks. They walked through the paths set through the square’s garden as the small creatures scattered at the sound of their footsteps. Leo wasn’t much of a nature enthusiast so all the names Marie kept muttering as she pointed at different flower beds were all gibberish to him.

“Do you really think he feels that way?” Leo asked out the blue as they walked along a path. He’d been in his head for the majority of the time they’d been walking as he tried to wrap this head around the possibility. Marie stopped talking for a bit before turning her head towards him as they ventured into the garden.

“You’re still thinking about that?” she asked, making Leo run his fingers through his blond hair in frustration. Marie then looked away when he didn’t say anything, before pointing towards the square’s water fountain in excitement.

“We can sit there while we talk,” she suggested, holding up her flair pink skirt and running towards the working water fountain with her brown peep toe sandals before Leo could give her an answer.

Leo rolled his eyes, sighing as he headed towards his childhood friend. When he got to the fountain he sat next to her on the white tiles, and that’s when he noticed her hand was submerged in the water. A smirk of amusement made its way to his lips when he noticed what she was doing.

“You always do that. Isn’t it embarrassing?” Leo asked as he watched Marie collect coins from the bottom of the fountain. She pulled them out of the water, placing them next to her before submerging her right hand again to look for more.

“People don’t want the money — well, I want it,” Marie said in a matter of fact tone, making Leo laugh. Marie was unnervingly frugal. Since they lived in the same apartment complex Leo got to visit her every day and he got a first-hand glance at her excessive effort to save money. From reused waste bin bags to the dozens of measuring cups that littered her apartment amused Leo. Funny enough, her parents were well off and she’d only picked up her frugal nature as a hobby some time at the start of college.

“Is it still bothering you?” Marie asked out of the blue as she placed a handful of wet coins beside her on the tiled sitting area.

“Yes,” Leo said, assuming she was referring to Al. He couldn’t get what she’d suggested out of his mind.

“I’m starting to think you feel the same way—”

“Of course not!” Leo said firmly, cutting Marie off mid-sentence. Her brown eyes that were framed with full lashes widened in shock. Leo couldn’t blame her because he’d raised his voice. It wasn’t something he did, but it had struck a nerve that the person he’d been interested in since middle school would make such claims. Marie knew Leo had an on and off thing for her, but she ignored it. It stung, but it stung even worse when she tried to pinpoint his feelings as being for someone else.

Leo watched as Marie blinked, coming out of her shock. She raised her hands in surrender. “Okay, I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry for yelling,” Leo sighed after Marie apologized. He then slouched over, looking down at his brown shoes as the sun set behind them.

“It’s okay,” she muttered as Leo watched her sandaled feet sway as they ever so often grazed the gravel floor with their movement. Her feet were tiny. A perfect size six.

They just say by the fountain for the next thirty minutes without talking to each other or saying anything. The only sound makes was that of other people as they walked by them, the water from the fountain, and the noise from the plants as they swayed in the evening breeze.

Leo looked up when Marie suddenly said she wanted to leave. He got up with her, but he halted when she held up her hand, asking him not to worry before she wandered off.

Leo stood by the fountain, watching her walk away before he bent his head as a groan escaped his lips when she was out of sight. His thoughts soon went to Al and Marie’s opinion on what he’d said. Leo shook his head at his thought. He already had a not so clear relationship with someone he liked where he dealt with none mutual affection. He didn’t want to be in another one where he was at the receiving end of the affection. He wasn’t up for breaking someone’s heart.

Al was a great musician and friend, but when Leo thought about him romantically... It was complicated.

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