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Chapter 16 blackmail

Sweet second chances do not happen to all of us. But I got it, a second chance to laugh, to live, to love. I never understood why I didn't die with my parents, why I was left alone to mourn. But now I know, I got a chance to start all over again. Maybe at a great cost, but I did.

I found Tyler, my new happiness and my reason to live. The reason why I wake up with a smile every morning and go to sleep with his voice ringing in my head every night. Almost every night we talk till both of us fall asleep on the phone. Or maybe it was just me who gave in to the exhaustion every time.

We have formed a pattern now. Every morning, I would rush down to meet Tyler, in front of Rachel's flower shop and he would drive me to school in his car.

It was fairly established between Morris and me, that I liked my friends company much more than his. And he didn't seem to mind, he had other important things to take care of.

Aunt Sophie had asked me how I spent meet days. I had stuttered and lied that I kept myself busy doing homework and talking to my old friends over the phone. I also told her I spent a considerable amount of time with my new friends as well. Though I felt guilty, I could hardly tell her the truth.

The truth is I spent almost all of my time with Tyler. Sometimes, he climbed up my window and we spent the evenings huddled up together, taking of anything and everything that came into our minds, laughing over lame jokes. And he would hide under my bed or in the closet if someone came in.

And sometimes I climbed down the tree and we went to that old park or somewhere new. Sometimes we tossed to decide which way to take.

Once we landed up in front of the uncle's office. We were so engrossed in singing a new hit that played on his radio, that none of us noticed where we were headed. It was only when my eyes fell on Morris walking out of the door, talking to someone in his phone, that I went into panic mode.

Tyler was relaxed though, he simply drove past him like any genuine traveller would do. For the first time I felt gratified that the windows weren't transparent and they blocked the view from both inside and outside. They were bullet proof too, as he had told me earlier.

Maybe Morris didn't notice us after all - if a lamborghini could really go unnoticed - for he never mentioned it.

I don't like confined spaces much. Once when I was small, while playing hide and seek I got stuck inside the washing machine and was led out by my mom one hour later.

But Tyler has his reasons. You certainly wouldn't want a see through glass when you have got a chance to be shot dead at any given second. But this wasn't what he told me, I just deduced this theory myself. His reason was simpler though, something any not-so-dangerous person was likely to give. He told me he liked his privacy, to keep a distance from the prying eyes of the world.

For as long as I live, I'll never forget these carefree days which I wished would never end. Riding in his car, I felt closer to him and even though we didn't say much, we were content with each other's company.

He sometimes even gave me driving lessons. And I have to admit, he was a pretty good instructor. He should make giving driving lessons his main job rather than the gang activities he had indulged himself in. I feel proud to say, I don't suck at driving now like I used to do before. My driving skills have vastly improved in the last few weeks.

At school, it took a hell lot of convincing to make Rose, Paul, Faith and Nick to join the rest of Tyler's crew for break Although I think Lily was even more exited than me at prospect of sharing recess with Tyler's friends. I think it had a lot to do with Aidan.

But her crazy crush on Aidan made things easier for me. Truth be told, I didn't have to do much. Lily did most of the convincing part and I was just fine with it. Who was going to convince a pair of nerds to sit with the popular crowd - that's what they called Tyler's crew - certainly not me.

But it turned out Lily long time friendship with them, gave her a slight advantage. Her parents were both psychologists, so she very well knew how to brainwash people.

Nobody asked me about my relationship with Tyler, and I'm more than glad they didn't. I was freed from the when, where and how questions. Everyone at the table were trying to make a conversation, even I found Faith talking with Ashley, and I'll tell you it was very unlikely of her to talk to new people. Or maybe she did talk to new people, I might have been the only exception.

I was just amazed at how comfortable Lily was at throwing flirtatious glances at Aidan, and that too in front of his girlfriend. And this was not all, the following weeks she gained up enough confidence to occasionally smile at him and he returned it, though as a genuine, friendly smile.

Though almost everyone ignored Sebastian most of the time - especially me, I thought twice before glancing at his direction - I couldn't help noticing how is eyes would always flicker back to Lily.

And though I would rather jump from a skyscraper than think about his likes, I couldn't help wondering if he had a thing for Lily. And maybe he did, it was clear by the way he looked at her, his eyes held something of adoration for her.

I don't remember Tyler looking at me that way. Maybe I was just too easy to get, I should have played a little hard to get. I wonder what he would have done to make me go on a date with him, if I had declined his offer the first time.

However, I may not have been able to say no anyway. It would have been more or less impossible for me.

I still don't know about him - and I'm still afraid to ask - but I think, no, I know, it was love at first sight for me. He could have asked me to walk on fire and I would have done it. Less dramatically, sneak out the window every day for him.

I still dread to think what my life might have turned out to be, if it wasn't for him.

But my life wouldn't be interesting if it were this smooth, isn't it? So naturally, the cyclone was on it's way. And this was the calmness before the thunderstorm.

Well who said disasters came with a warning! Because I certainly didn't get one when one day I went downstairs to join everyone for breakfast and found Elliott seated beside uncle John. And they were chatting like old school friends!

I mean since that night, I haven't heard much from Elliott. We didn't even sit together at French class anymore. I did try to talk to him, more than once but every time he would just make some excuse. Truth be told, we never got past the "how are you?" questions.

So naturally, you can't blame me for standing in the middle of the stairs and staring like an idiot, until of course, Sophie called me to join them.

"Good morning ", I greeted everyone on the table, even Reshma who was busy pouring aunt Sophie a cup of coffee, smiled at me. It was returned by chorus of "good mornings"

"Didn't know you were joining us for breakfast ", I said to Elliott, trying to appear as cheerful as possible. I had no idea what could have possibly brought him to my house.

"Oh you know each other? ", Sophie asked, taking a sip of her coffee.

Elliot opened his mouth to give an answer but I cut him to it. "Yes we're in the same class", I informed and just like the first time everyone nodded in chorus. What was with these people and their sense of timing?

It wouldn't have been nice if they knew about the first time we met. In that stupid diner with my secret boyfriend of course. Elliot seemed to have caught it though for his face immediately lighted like he had made a huge discovery. And probably he did, because he found out something which other than Reshma, the other members now seated at the table weren't supposed to know.

His expression sobered then and he threw a half smirk in my direction and I immediately knew he must have read my thoughts. He knew what I didn't want him to, that Tyler was a forbidden topic under this roof and his name wasn't to be mentioned.

I didn't dare look at him for the rest of the breakfast. But at last, I had to when Sophie brought up school. Elliot offered to drop me in his car and I reluctantly agreed.

And you might have already guessed what's next. The same blackmailing thing! Either I go out with him or uncle John would surely know of it. But I have had enough of that my whole life to bother me anymore.

But the odds were surely not in my favour. I tried everything I could, bribing, threatening, at last begging but nothing would work. I couldn't tell Tyler because if he got mad and shot him - that's what Elliot was afraid of - John would know of it. Even if I just hit him on the face - which wasn't a good idea because it might have resulted in him pressing charges against me - John would again surely know of it.

Of course I texted Tyler immediately once I was out of the house. I couldn't leave him waiting for me outside Rachel's shop for the whole day! I informed him that uncle John wanted me to go to school with his friend's son. Although I left behind the little detail that he also happened to be the diner guy. Or else he might have actually shot him dead.

Going out with him was never about to happen but he did manage to get out small favours from me though. Like starting to sitting beside him in French class again, helping him in homework, baking him his favourite cookies etc.

I would have done this things willingly if he would have just asked for my friendship instead. Now, he was just making me dislike him more and more, with each passing day.

Was he actually doing this because he he wanted to get back at me for choosing Tyler over him? What? Couldn't he handle a little rejection? It better not be a stupid jealousy game.

Obviously, Tyler wasn't happy with me always ditching him because I had to bake cookies and do homework. He knew that most of my evenings were spent in the company of Elliot but he failed to understand what he was doing almost every day in my house.

I ultimately told him that my uncle's best friend's son was no other than Elliot. And you ask me how he took it? I saw murder flash across his eyes, and for the first time after a very long time, I felt afraid of him.

He would've dragged Elliot out his class and beaten the shit out of him, if I didn't literally beg him to stop. I had to make him understand if he did anything like that, he would surely lose me. Finally he let go.

Elliot had done a great job in winning everyone over. Even Reshma seemed to be very fond of him. I knew she wasn't the kind of person who would rub it in my face, but I know even she thought Elliot was better for me than Tyler.

Maybe one day I could just add a little bit of poison in those stupid cookies. We could have been such great friends. That carefree, funny guy I met on my first french class and who acted as my escort for the success party - Sophie and John suddenly had the good sense to throw - well he was gone.

It would be wrong to say I disliked him, the truth was that I missed those days when everything was so easy between us. When I didn't have to look over my shoulder twice before sitting beside him. But he just had to go ahead and complicate everything.

You would be amazed by how much time he spent in my house, tiptoeing behind Reshma. And as I said before, Reshma had grown very fond of him, all the more reason for him to invite himself in.

They would spend a considerable amount of time in the kitchen, mixing up recipes and cooking different varieties of delicious food items. I was fine with it though, it meant having him off my back for as long as they still had the ingredients to cook.

And the best of all, since Sophie and John were out most of the time, I got to taste most of it. And even though I would say I prefer poison more than his stupid cooking, but it would be a huge lie. The only thing which I still liked about Elliot was his cooking. I would have even complemented him on his wonderful cooking skills, if I wasn't as mad at him as I was.

I never even tasted his recipes while he was inside the house, but of course, I was the one to devour the whole dish the moment he was out of the door. None of us ever brought up the topic but I think he knew how much I craved his delicious dishes.

Most of the dishes comprised of chocolate. Reshma must have told him I loved chocolate. And maybe he made those delicious cakes and pastries for me. He surely couldn't have done it because I liked it. The could be two reasons behind it, either he wanted to make me diabetic or fat!

At school, after class I usually sneaked into Tyler or Lily's car. I would rather walk home than accept lift from Elliot. Although I wouldn't have been able to decline his offer if he asked me, so better I just didn't give him the chance to ask.

But this technique didn't work at morning. He would wait for me everyday at the breakfast table and it was impossible to sneak out the window at morning. Maybe I should have just gone with the poisoning plan.

Truth be told, I couldn't bear sitting alone in the car with him. Actually, I couldn't bear sitting anywhere near him, with or without people surrounding us.

We were just two people who couldn't stand each other for five minutes, without stating to fight over something silly. Once we fought for a good thirty minutes over which was better - chocolate or vanilla. I don't think I have to explain who sided with chocolate.

My fear of cars didn't help with the situation either. After all, he wasn't Tyler who made me feel safe. I could just get lost in his eyes and forget about all my troubles and fears.

Tyler was as expected, furious. I didn't tell him it was Elliot who was forcing it on me and not John. I made him promise though, he wouldn't do anything silly.

Though I tried to reassure him Elliot spent most of his time with Reshma in the kitchen, conjuring up different dishes, no boyfriend in this world would ever consider a stranger - who certainly had feelings for their girlfriend - snooping in their girlfriend's house. And to add the fact that he already despised Elliot, didn't help either.

I didn't want him to damage whatever little connection we still had. Of course, we could still talk on phone but it couldn't make up for all the time we couldn't meet each other.

Some day, Elliot would have to back away right? He forever couldn't live under the impression that my feelings for him would change. But yes, my feelings for him did change over the past month. From a reliable friend he turned into my worst nightmare.

Oh how I wished I could run away with Tyler. But that wasn't likely to happen either. He just loved his life here too much and I loved John and Sophie too much. And when neither one is willing to sacrifice in a relationship, well then you land up where I was, waiting for a miracle to happen.

Actually I had never asked him if he would consider running away with me if needed. I don't know why I was still afraid of chasing him away. He wouldn't leave me, or would he? Would he agree to leave behind everything for me? How could I not matter more to him than his stupid gang.

I must, right? And hadn't he already proved that to me on numerous occasions? Then what was I still worried about? loosing him? I don't know.

Sometimes my heart tries to make me understand and sometimes I try to make my heart see reason. It just felt wrong, very very wrong. He was certainly a part of my world but could I ever be a part of his?

Those fairytale stuffs only happened in the Disney movies. Where they tell the little kids that no matter what goes wrong, what life throws at you, if you have hope and courage you win in the end. But maybe there isn't always a happy ending in life.

But I did get my share of fairly tale in the last couple of months. Locked up in a tall tower, waiting for my prince to climb in through the only window. Dragons guarding the tower and an evil witch keeping me locked up.

But Tyler still came in through the window at night, to make up for all the evenings we missed. We usually layed side by side on the bed, mostly talking about Elliot.

I don't remember when I fell asleep each night and when he escaped out the window before the morning light broke in. And each morning I woke up feeling lonely again. I terribly missed the warmth of his car, those carefree days when we would just hit the road without knowing where to go.

I once even tried to puncture the back tire of Elliot's car. Well, it didn't help either. Morris offer to drop us to school and I could hardly say no, for then I would have had to explain.

Both of us came to the conclusion that it was harmless whatever Elliot was doing. As long as it was just sitting beside him in French class, baking him cookies, helping him in homework and going to school with him, it was fine for Tyler - although he begrudgingly accepted it. Tyler assured me the second Elliot crossed his line, would be his last.

I would have never agreed to something like that, but who was asking for my permission anyway. I don't think Elliot did something to deserve a death penalty. He was just keeping me from spending all my time with Tyler.

Which was like a harsh punishment for me. Tyler was my escape route from the problems of life. My happiness in the midst of sorrows.

He was like a drug to me, and maybe I was addicted to him. Don't know how I managed to love him so much but I don't think I would ever regret it.

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