The Face of Reality

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Chapter 12

Augustine and I chatted again just outside the hall. He told me he was bunking the rest of the classes since he had to go pick Arizona up from school and go to visit Jared at the hospital.

“Been nagging and whining all morning. Said she doesn’t wanna go to school.” He said of Arizona.

“So you’re going now?”

“Yeah. See ya in the evening.”

I nodded and watched him walk away after telling Marlon too that he was leaving.

“So, I think this circle is cool,” Marlon said as he leaned onto the doorframe.

“Yeah. It’s pretty cool,” I agreed, turning to face him.

“So I was wondering if you’re free on the weekends. . .”

Okay. Where is this heading to?

“I’d be at Augustine’s every evening. And on Saturdays, I have to stay over since he would be out at night.”

“Oh yeah. He’s busy on Saturday nights.” Marlon nodded. “But anyway. We could always go grab a cup of coffee one of these days, right?”

“Umm. . . sure. I love coffee.” I agreed in the most platonic manner.

Later in the afternoon, I entered Frosty Spoon for some banana shakes. As I stood there waiting for my order at the counter, I looked around the small shop filled with college students and spotted Timothee sitting alone at a table at the far corner, a can of Pepsi in front of him. Holding my shakes in hand, I walked up to him. I was determined to talk to him this time.

“Hey,” I said when I reached him.

He looked up from his phone and met my eyes. Seeing that he had seen me before at the circle, he replied, “Hey.”

“Mind if I join you?”

He looked about him for a moment. There were still so many empty tables and I wondered if my presence had annoyed him. His gaze came back to me and he nodded at the chair in front of him.

“Thanks.” I smiled at him and settled on the chair right across him. “Are you a freshman too?”

“Yeah.”

“Me too. I’m Sophia Swann.” I said and extended my right hand to him across the table. “I know we’ve met back there but, I’d still like to officially introduce myself.”

“Timothee Froid.” He said, reaching over and shaking my hand briefly.

“Do you stay on campus?”

“No. I don’t.”

“Neither. Where do you stay? I mean, If i ever feel like kidnapping you I’d need all the details.” I joked and he cracked a small smile, his soft greenish-hazel eyes brightening.

“Tiffany Heights at 8th Lincoln Street.”

“Whoa. That’s a fine place.” I returned almost immediately.

He shrugged. “Yeah. It’s pretty cool.”

Tiffany Heights was one of the most luxurious buildings in Coasuta, located at Green Square at 8th Lincoln Street not far from my neighborhood or the University.

Who in Coasuta wouldn’t have heard of that?

Rich Kid, I thought.

“Did you grow up here? I’m sorry if it feels like I’m interviewing you. I’m just. . . curious.”

“That’s alright.” He shrugged and offered a faint smile, eyes distant like he could see right through me but not even exactly seeing me. “It’s like the first time anyone had ever paid so much interest in me. I’ll take chances.”

We shared a soft, bitter laugh and for the first time since I talked to him, I felt like I could almost touch his soul. Even the way our eyes met seemed to speak words we could never find the strength to bring out in words.

“I just came here for college. Lives alone in a huge apartment like a castaway.” He joked but, the pain in his eyes was as clear as day.

I offered a small smile and turned my eyes down to my banana shake, slowly stirring my drink with the straw.

“From what I can guess, you seem like a loner.”

“I am a loner.” He shrugged again and nodded in agreement. “But once in a while, everybody needs somebody. There’s so much even the most advanced animal species can take.”

“Right.” I nodded deliberately and looked up to him. “I’d like to be your friend.”

In complete antithesis to the reaction I expected, he began to laugh as if I had just uttered the most profoundly humorous confession in the world.

“Why would you want to be my friend?” He laughed.

I shrugged in response and sipped on my drink. “I don’t know. I just felt like it.”

He swallowed his smile and stared at me thoughtfully for a moment like he was assessing me, “You know what, I could actually use a friend who has absolutely no idea why she even talked to me. I like that.”

I felt my face instantly light up with the brightest smile ever and I said, “Cool.”

We sat there only for about five minutes more until he finally stood up to leave.

“Will you come for the circle next Tuesday?”

Pursing his lips, he looked ahead at the wall over my head and mulled. “I don’t know. Probably not for the circle but. . . I’ll come to see you.”

Boy, if my soul had not melted to a puddle at his answer. For a moment, I stared at his face in complete awe and astonishment. Timothee Froid was willing to attend the circle just to see a friend. Me.

Damn, Sophia.

“I’ll see you then.” He bade and turned his back to leave, putting his headphones over his ears.

Snapping out of my trance, I shouted after him. “I’ll look forward to seeing you!”

Ducking his head a little, he looked back to me with a tiny frown and winced. “Why’d you shout?”

“Oh, I thought. You wouldn’t hear with the music.” I blurted, tapping on my own ear to indicate his headphones.

“I haven’t turned up the music yet.” He replied.

“Oh, sorry.”

He shrugged, looked around at all the customers staring at us and then cracked up laughing. Like really amused and real.

All throughout the rest of the week, I didn’t see Timothee again. And on Saturday night, after dinner, I went to stay over at Augustine’s. Since it was dark, he came to pick me up. Marlon was with the kids, Arizona on his lap, watching TV when we reached the house. Both him and Augustine were ready to leave so, Augustine quickly showed me into the guest room which was next door to his own room.

“Umm. . . okay.” I breathed under my breath a little nervously as he set my backpack down on my bed.

There was absolutely nothing serious going on but, just to find me in a bedroom with Augustine bothered me a little for some simple. . . mysterious reasons. More so when I could feel his gaze burning on my back, almost tangible and my skin felt warmer than usual. I tried to appear normal so, I looked around at the walls and the queen-sized bed covered in white linens.

“Make yourself at home.” His deep, raspy voice spoke behind me and my pulse jumped once.

I looked back at him to find myself coming directly eye to eye with him.

“If you get hungry, there are still lots of food in the fridge. Help yourself to anything you want. . .”

“Yeah.” I nodded.

“You can actually join us for dinner on Saturdays.”

“Oh, that’s okay. It’s. . . fine.”

“Yeah. Umm. . . I’ll leave now then.” He dropped his gaze to the floor, clenched his teeth and left the room.

I followed after him. Once he saw Augustine, Marlon set Arizona on the couch and stood up to leave. Augustine grabbed his backpack from the couch, told Romeo not to go stay up too late, kissed Arizona telling her he loves her, gave me one more look in the eyes and left the house.

I stayed watching TV with Romeo for about half an hour while Ari played with her thousand toys on the carpet in front of us. When Romeo decided to retire to his room, Romeo and I gathered up all her toys and I took Arizona up to her room and read her to sleep in her own invisible-cave at a corner of her room. It took about an hour to let her fall asleep since she was so excited to have me in their house for the first time and she had a lot of things to do in her mind, like playing dress-ups and telling me stories.

I gently tucked her into her bed and sat on the floor in her room beside her bed for long as I wrote on wattpad, keeping an eye on her, watching her chest rise and fall to make sure she was breathing alright. Despite Augustine telling me she was fine for now, I was still afraid something could happen to her.

Who knew, right?

I left her room around eleven and went back down to the guest room to study some, turning off all the lights on the way. I had issued some books from the library on Wednesday and had carried one with me here to read at night. I brushed my teeth, washed my face, changed into a tank top and shorts and jumped into the plush bed to study. For some minutes, I rolled on the bed with a huge, contented smile on my face. My own mattress in the apartment was pretty hard so, this one felt like heaven.

After minutes, I opened my book, lay on my stomach and proceeded to read it. I read one page in full concentration and by the next page, I had fallen half dead on the bed. So much for sleeping in a new bed that would take me a million years to get used to. Blame it on the mattress.

I slept and slept until I suddenly woke up in the middle of the night, my throat dry. I picked up my phone and checked the time.

12:47 am.

With a tired breath and squinting my eyes at the bright light, I pushed my body up from the bed and slowly trudged into the kitchen to drink water, using my phone flashlight. I made it to the refrigerator, pulled out a bottle of water and chugged it down. With a sigh, I screwed the cap back on and put it back in the fridge.

When I turned to leave, I heard footsteps descending from the stairs.

“August?” I faintly called in my timidest tone in the darkness.

When no reply came, each and every hair on my arm stood to attention and a sudden fear came over me. My ears and eyes alert, I tried listening again. Not another sound was heard and all my senses perked up in alert and I felt my body beginning to tremble slightly.

I took a moment and tried to calm myself that it could be Romeo so, I plucked up my courage and quietly padded out of the kitchen. Just as I turned into the living room, a dark form of a man emerged from the nearby bathroom in front of me, startling me. Just as I was about to shriek out of fright, I slipped onto a rubber toy that squeaked when I stepped on it, lunging me head-first toward the man.

He tried to catch me but, it all happened so quickly he lost his balance and I took him down to the floor with me.

“God!” I heard Augustine’s voice grunt out in pain when his back hit the floor.

I gasped loudly in shock and fear that I might have broken some of his bones with the amount of pain laced in his voice. I fell on top of him, face buried under his chin which meant my forehead crashed into his chest and my arms and legs were god-knows-where but, I was very conscious of the way my boobs were slapped flat against his hard chest.

I quickly probed my body up on my palms and asked him, “I’m sorry. Are you alright?”

“Ah, fuck. What was that?” He groaned again through clenched teeth.

“I slipped on something. Probably one of Ari’s toys.”

I moved to get off of him and in the process, I felt my right thigh, which was in between his legs, rub against his manhood.

Oh, shoot. What what what?!

My mouth felt apart and I guiltily looked up at him to find him frowning at me through the hazy darkness, confused. I began to choke on my breath out of embarrassment and quickly rolled off of him, slumping to the floor beside him. Without wasting another moment, I bustled up from the floor and quickly found the light switches on the wall. I pressed everything I could press and the whole room lit up.

A very shirtless Augustine sat there on the floor in just his boxers. He hung his head in between his knees for a few seconds before he finally looked up and bore his intense eyes to me in the scariest way. The fact that he was looking aggressively hot or that he was probably murdering me with his eyes for my blunder could hardly register in my mind when I noticed bruises and bumps on his face with blood scattered here and there.

Taken by surprise and shock, I fell onto my knees to the floor again and grabbed his face in my hands. “Oh my God! Where did you go?! Are you alright?!”

He met my eyes for a moment and returned patiently, “I’m fine.”

I felt my heart stop at the sudden softness in his voice and the smooth tenderness in his eyes. Our faces were almost touching and my hands slightly trembled at the touch of his warm skin on my palm. I had never held him this way before but, he didn’t seem to mind. He didn’t say anything. He just let it be and with the way he was looking back at me, it was becoming impossible for me to hide my budding crush for him.

Should I drop my hands or keep it that way?

Both seemed awkward enough. Inside, my nerves were all bunched up and going at overdrive and I could hardly keep myself collected. I pulled away before I do something drastically wrong like maybe. . . kiss him.

“I mean. . . there’s blood on your face. Are you really okay?”

He nodded, ripped his eyes away from my face and then he stood up from the floor. He tried moving his right arm again, his back muscles flexing in the most delicious way ever in the process and I could literally feel the air leave my lungs in awe of the wondrous sight.

He winced. “I might need some ice packs though.”

I swallowed, picked up my phone from the floor and followed him into the kitchen. Dazed.


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