Chapter 17 - I Have a Crush?
I didn't realize I was holding my breath, along with my anger as I let him go on with his ridiculous persiflage.
My forehead was numb. Was I wrinkling it too hard? I don't know. I could feel my eye and nose twitching from irritation.
But I haven't reached my limit yet.
"You didn't even listen to me when I explained the whole story," I said, keeping my fists inside my pockets. "You just got mad all on your own."
He scoffed, not even bothering to keep up that fake smile anymore.
"Sure you'd know, because you're a genius." The way he said that was mockingly sarcastic. Then his eyes that were filled with anger simmered a bit, and for a moment there I saw a look of regret and sadness.
I wasn't sure what he was playing at.
"Anne... she..." he said her name softly. He winced when he seemingly remembered something and his words trailed off into a mumble. I almost didn't hear it. "She loved you."
I wanted to shove a damn cactus up his butt. Seriously he's so stupid that I'm about to go stupid.
"You know, it suits you being an actor, creating your own drama and all. And you're so uselessly good at it." I scoffed exasperatedly.
He sent me a glare, I returned it. Damn prick.
Tops took a deep breath before he released a long and frustrated sigh. He looked at me through narrowed eyes. I could feel his hate for me rising by the second.
It was stupid and sad. How we ended up like this is so stupid.
I'm not lacking in my vocabulary of insults. I just can't think of any other word to associate with a stupid guy like him. A childish word for a childish person seems fit. Stupid fits him.
"It doesn't matter what you think." He mumbled, his voice losing emotion bit by bit. "She chose you in the end."
I was speechless. Why the heck did he believe that? Why won't he listen?
This is so annoying. He is so annoying. The only one he'd listen to is Anne and that girl's even more stubborn.
Did he still like her?
Did she even like him?
How did I get caught up in their mess?
There was a moment of silence, and he decided to break it.
"Why did you move here, Danny?" He suddenly asked.
I looked away. He knew the reason. He didn't have to ask.
"I mean, you might say it's related to your dad's company," he continued, shrugging his shoulders as a grin creeped up his face again. "But we both know what's actually going on. Only, you're too scared to admit it."
"As soon as I heard that the great Daniel Curtis went back to his hometown to his dear Poopy again, I made up my mind." He snickered mockingly as he stepped forward, trying to be the dominant one in our somewhat heated discussion. "You're gonna watch the girl you love get taken away. Don't worry though, I'll put on a great show. So you'll get to feel every ounce of pain I felt."
I was mad. I wasn't mad because I believed him. I was mad because of how stupid he was. And how much his arrogant words are disrespecting Poopy.
A million thoughts ran in my head. I knew saying anything wasn't worth the effort since he wouldn't listen anyway, so I don't understand why I suddenly got defensive.
"You're wrong. I don't love her." I said, my chest weighing heavier than normal. "But even so. You can say what you want about me, but you're not allowed to talk about her like that. Don't you dare talk about her like that."
I wasn't finished speaking when he suddenly burst into a fit of laughter. I swear the veins in my fists were about to snap.
"You actually developed a sense of humour these three years we haven't seen each other, Danny!" He laughed like it was the funniest thing he heard all day.
He turned around and walked around a bit, an old habit of his whenever he gets frustrated or excited. I know what he's gonna do next. He's gonna put a hand to his hair and push it back roughly out of impatience.
After a few seconds of walking around, he did what I predicted and pushed his hair back.
I hate myself for remembering these things. Sometimes I want to bash my head to destroy a quarter of my neurons. Although I think I already did that this morning on my desk, but they seemed to regenerate quicker than I had initially thought.
Neurons don't regenerate though, so I don't know what the hell I was just talking about.
Why I currently want to destroy a quarter of my neurons is this: I remember every single detail of every single thing I've ever seen since I was six. It wasn't selective. I just can't forget anything.
I thought a bit. Well, I think my memories of Poopy were a special case though.
This photographic memory of mine is both a blessing and a curse.
"You should've seen your face whenever we talked about her before." He huffed, folding his arms. "You even admitted that you confessed to her. You even came back just to see her again. Even enrolled in the same school! And now you're saying you don't love her? Pathetic, Danny."
"Oh said the cool one who couldn't trust his own best friend and didn't even ask the girl he liked her side of the story?" The words slipped out of my mouth. He scoffed loudly.
"At least I admitted that I liked Anne." He said, rolling his eyes. "And you? Ha! Just like an immature brat, you're in denial."
Me? Immature? What does that make him then? An infant?
I was silent again. I hated having to say a lot of words that won't make any difference. I can't believe I'm losing my temper over something like this.
Tops sighed, an arrogant one at that. My temper's at boiling point now. I'm surprised none of us hit each other yet.
"Well, if you meant what you said, then I guess I'll just have to make her fall in love with me instead."
Who in their right mind would fall in love with this guy? Girls should rather fall off a cliff.
I mean, what am I thinking? Poopy's not even his fan. She won't fall that easily. She can't. Besides, she hates him. I think. Well she hates me too. She's annoyed at me too. But. But...
I can't think of any other reason. She must see Tops and I in the same light. I'm screwed.
Stay calm. Keep calm. Relax. Breathe.
"Are you done?" I said through clenched teeth. I have to leave before I break this jerk's bones.
He looked at me coldly before scoffing again. He shook his head slowly. "You better watch out."
I kept my hands in my pockets. I'm so pissed right now. I should probably go and punch a wall or something. Or kick a boulder.
It'd probably hurt though so never mind.
When I reached my car, Poopy was already inside. I got in the driver's seat and noticed that she was holding my cellphone, her eyes glued to the screen in pure focus.
Not that I had anything to hide, but I kind of panicked. I didn't have anything weird in there right?
"What are you doing?" I asked. She didn't look at me once.
"I'm deleting my pictures."
I sighed. Good. It's not anything weird. And I had a copy of her pictures in my laptop for future blackmail.
Insert evil laugh here.
As I started the engines, I saw Tops walking away from the spot where we talked.
I suppressed a long and loud groan. I wish I can run over him right now but going to jail was a pain.
I didn't realize I was gripping the steering wheel too tight right now. I was so annoyed. I felt like I had to hit something. I can't believe this. I can't believe Tops said those things. The years we spent together as best friends were such a waste. I'm so annoyed. So annoyed.
And then I saw her hand on top of mine.
I wasn't sure if what I was seeing was real so I jerked my hand slightly. She held it tighter as my grip on the wheel got softer.
I slowly turned to look at her only to see a really worried expression. It can't be she's worried about me right? She doesn't even know.
Without a word, she took my hand and brought it to her cheek, her eyes closing gently.
When my palm met contact with her soft cheek, I was immediately filled with warmth, and there was a tingling, ticklish sensation in my chest--or was it my stomach?
I felt my chest tighten, my breathing hastened. I wanted to scream somehow. I wanted to laugh. I wanted mope. I wanted to whine.
How long was she gonna torture me like this?
"I saw you and Kristopher from the window in the council room." She said, carefully.
Even though I was surprised she found out, and a bit panicked because my lie about collecting those mangas got exposed too, I think she nullified any violent reactions from me.
All I could do was nod. Was I shaking? Can she feel my hand trembling against her cheek?
What was going on right now?
"I didn't mean to see. But you two looked like you were going to fight. I hope you didn't though. I didn't hear anything too, so don't worry."
Her eyes slowly opened; she was looking at me directly now.
Her eyes were so beautiful.
Shut up brain.
"Whatever it is you two talked-- argued about, it's gonna be alright. He's annoying but I'm sure he's a nice guy. Just like you."
I wanted to complain, like, why did she even compare me to the likes of him but I chose to shut up. Poopy was unusually gentle today that I won't dare do anything to cut this mood of hers short.
I nodded obediently like a child.
Was I mad a while ago?
The anger just dissipated so suddenly.
After that, she seemed to snap out of her trance. She let go of my hand and quickly looked out the window.
"Let's go home."
I hid a smile. Was that act of hers out of instinct? Impulse?
I don't know, but I hope she does it often.
After I dropped her off at her house, she still wouldn't look at me. She's embarrassed, I think.
I don't understand why I feel so overwhelmed.
"Come with us to the beach tomorrow." She said shortly before she got out of the car. "See you."
I was stunned. She wanted me to come along? She invited me herself? She wasn't mad at me?
Was this really Poopy?
Maybe she was like this because of what happened last night? Were we closer now? Was that it? No, I don't think... ugh.
I don't know what came over her today, but I'm gonna take full advantage of it.
I watched her as she walked to their porch and to their door. She kept staring at her feet the whole time. I snorted. Why was she so nervous walking to her own house?
I shifted from my seat and leaned closer to my window, hoping to watch her more closely.
Look at me.
Just once will do.
After a few seconds of standing in front of their door, she turned around and waved awkwardly, mouthing a 'thanks' before she went in. As soon as the door shut close, I released the breath I didn't realize I was holding.
A full smile spread on my face. My hand just barely covered the stupid expression I had right now.
I think I'm in serious trouble now.
One thing entered my mind as I drove back home, which was just a few blocks away.
I have to keep her away from that guy. At all costs, keep her away from Tops.
I closed the door of my room before I sank on the floor as if I were melting. I looked at the palm of my hand before clutching it close to my chest.
What has gotten into me today?
I shook my head as I stood up and jumped to my bed. I stared at my ceiling and recalled Daniel's expression earlier.
That was the first time I saw him so agitated. Why did I feel the need to comfort him? It wasn't my job. Was it out of instinct?
I groaned aloud, with a little whining too.
This is so crazy. Do I care about him or something?
I remembered that kiss from last night and I didn't realize my finger had already made its way up to my lips.
I went back to reality and shook my head again. I slapped both my cheeks.
Last night was temporary insanity. I was just like that because it was late and I was carried away. I mean, he got all sweet all of a sudden and then he got so close and...
He's so sweet.
When I sensed that I was drifting away from reality again, I slapped my cheeks again. I was sure my face resembled a tomato right now.
Why am I making so many excuses? Why am I getting defensive over my own thoughts?
I clutched my chest and took a deep breath.
Do I... have a crush on him? Or something?
But that can't be. Maybe I'm just misunderstanding. Yeah.
It's just a misunderstanding.
I sighed hopelessly.
Why did I even invite him? Why didn't I think first? He's gonna see me wear that thing. He's gonna tease me and make stupid comments. But he's already seen me naked so--
Ahh now I'm remembering it damn it!
I can't go on like this. I have to stay focused. Focus, Tina. Focus.
I pressed my hand a bit harder on my chest. It was so loud in there.
Please calm down and don't get ahead of yourself.
"Oh my gosh! Yay! We're here! We're here!" Ella exclaimed as soon as we saw the view of the ocean from the car window.
I had Daniel drive us to the beach today. I didn't expect him to agree so quickly.
Good thing there were a lot of us today. If it were only the two of us, it'd be so awkward, considering what I did yesterday, and my thoughts about him were still scrambled.
The whole time, we avoided eye-contact. But since we both sat in front of the car, it was pretty hard. This is so awkward. Or was I the only one thinking like this?
As soon as we parked, the girls jumped out of the car. I wasn't sure if it was out of excitement or relief. They were cramped in the back seat, all six of them, and it didn't help that Ella kept moving around.
They all ran to the cottage Ella rented, leaving me and Daniel behind. I gulped.
"Is that all your things?" He suddenly asked, pointing at my shoulder bag. I nodded.
"Yeah, I'm already wearing my swimsuit inside my clothes."
Can I slap myself?
That piece of information was so irrelevant. Maybe he's gonna think some weird things about me. Seriously I'm so stupid!
"Hey you two!" I heard Amanda yell from afar. "Flirt later and get your butts here right now! Ella's already dressed up!"
Damn Amanda. She didn't have to put it like that.
"Coming!" I hollered.
I walked ahead, not daring to look at Daniel or anything. I'm afraid of what my face looks like right now.
"Give me your bag." He said. I held back a gasp. I was being so conscious of him, but I didn't notice he was already beside me?
"It's okay, not that heavy." I mumbled, trying to keep it together.
It was pointless to even ask because he took my bag anyway. I kept staring at my feet. Why was he being such a gentleman?
Come to think of it, he was a gentleman. Back when I hurt my feet, he offered me his shoes. He's polite when he's not making any witty remarks. He's careful around me when the mood's different too. Sometimes he even opens the car door for me.
But then again, he can be such a butt.
I don't understand him at all.
When we arrived at the cottage, (read: finally) the door was locked. After knocking a few times without any response, I got annoyed.
"Open up!" I yelled.
"We're still changing!" Cleo, another one of our classmates yelled back. Ah, so they actually heard me. So generous of her to finally reply after my knuckles turned pink.
"But I'm gonna change too." I mumbled. They heard me.
"You're already wearing yours inside your clothes right? Just strip it off. We're almost done."
Ughhhhh. They are so inconsiderate. Do they realize I'm with Daniel?
Then I heard giggling.
Of course. They did this because I'm with Daniel.
Way to increase the level of awkwardness. This unnecessary push is annoying. What do I do now?
"I'll turn around if you want," he suddenly offered, unfazed at the fact that our friends were setting us up again. But I saw a glint of teasing in his eyes.
I don't know why his words sounded like a challenge. My pride is so damn prideful.
"No need." I replied.
I took my bag from him and dropped it on the sand before I opened the zipper. I unbuttoned my blouse and just then noticed how tremulous my fingers were. I heard a snicker.
I glared at the culprit.
"What?" I said, struggling to unbutton the damn buttons.
"Need help?" He offered with a very willing smile. I shielded my chest before I sent him a more intense glare.
He pouted cutely, as if he were actually offended. "Aw."
I was still in the process of unbuttoning them when I realized what I just thought. Pouted cutely? Cutely?
Hell, he wasn't capable of such a thing. No.
After a few seconds, he was already done taking off his shirt--I tried my best not to watch. Why the heck were we undressing face-to-face? I should've turned around or something.
Oh my God.
Have I turned into a pervert? Why do I want to look at him so much?
I can't breathe. Oh God help me. What am I doing.
And this darn blouse is so hard to take off. My mom bought me this last month and I only got to wear it now. One of the button holes were small so it was hard to get the stubborn button out.
I got annoyed so I took my shorts off first and put them inside my bag.
After that, I tried to unbutton my blouse again, and after a few tries, finally succeeded. I slid the blouse off my arms and folded it neatly before putting it in my bag as well. Glad that was finally over.
I looked down at my body and sighed. I'm so lucky I get to wear something I chose. It's good that it's not so revealing. But my belly button still shows.
And part of my cleavage too. I should cover it up with my hair.
I bent down to arrange my stuff in my bag. I zipped it close before lifting it up, dusting the sand that got stuck under it and sliding it back to my shoulder.
"We're done here! Open up!" I yelled. They were seriously doing this on purpose. It wasn't amusing anymore.
"Poopy," Daniel suddenly called. I turned to look at him. I had my guard up when I saw a smirk crawling up his face. Eyes, focus on his face. His face.
"You shouldn't have bent down in front of me." He folded his arms, shaking his head as if he was so troubled. "I saw everything."
In an instant, my rage resurfaced and I was about to grab his collar to choke him, only to forget he was shirtless, so now my hands were on his chest.
I know he was just joking around but still. I didn't know how else to extract my revenge so I did so by pinching his skin so many times. His arm, his cheek, his stomach...
He kept flinching and laughing at the same time, it was both annoying and funny.
The door suddenly opened, revealing the girls that were already dressed up and ready to go.
"Sunscreen's inside. Rub some on before you go out." Ella said, holding my shoulder. The rest of our friends already went ahead. They were so excited. "And I hope we gave you two enough alone time. Take this chance and get him to put sunscreen on y--"
I put my hand on her mouth to make her shut up by force. She just laughed and skipped away from my assault.
I sighed before turning around again. Daniel was still grinning at me like a fool. I wanted to kick him but I restrained myself.
"Let's go." I said as I stepped in the cottage.
When we were inside, I found Ella's sunscreen. Well, sunscreens. She brought a lot.
I took one for myself and threw one to Daniel, hoping it'd hit his face but he was unfortunately blessed with quick reflexes.
I started rubbing the greasy lotion on my skin. Ugh this is so disgusting. So sticky. So uncomfortable.
I saw Daniel from the corner of my eye, quickly rubbing it on his palms first, then spread it to his arms, shoulders, chest, stomach--
"Should I dance a little too?" His voice snapped me out of my daze. Huh? "I mean, if you're gonna look at me like that, I should at least put on a show right?"
I scoffed and coughed at the same time. He caught me. Oh poop he caught me. He caught me gawking at him like the pervert I always accused him to be.
Oh no. I...
I'm turning into him.
"Whatever. You're not that muscular." I mumbled, hoping he didn't hear. He did.
"So you like muscular men?"
"What? No. Don't be ridiculous."
"Then why did you say I'm not that muscular?"
"Because you're not."
"But I'm okay right? I think I have... one, two... a four-pack. Not enough? Do you want a six?"
I blushed. "Shut up. That doesn't matter." And then I sneaked a peek. "Four..?"
He laughed when he saw me try and count the so-called packs on his stomach. Why do they call it packs? And how do you get it? Does this guy really work out? It was quite obvious that he did, seeing his build, but I still won't believe it.
"Curious?" He teased. "Wanna touch them? I'll let you, since you're special."
I abruptly stood up and released an incoherent sound. He found it amusing. "No! And shut up! You narcissistic butthead."
"Your words pain me, Poopy." He said, trying to stifle his laughter. "I was only telling you what you wanted to know."
I ignored him as I left the cottage and walked to where our friends went. He followed me.
"Should I have let you explore my body on your own?" He offered. I can't see him since I was walking in front but I could tell he had that damn smug grin on his face.
"I don't know you." I mumbled as we passed by a crowd of people sunbathing.
"You can pretend we're strangers," he raised his voice a bit on purpose. "But I've seen you naked be--"
I halted in my steps when I knew where he was going. I quickly jumped at him and clamped his mouth shut. The strangers didn't seem to care, luckily.
"You... you shut up." I shout-whispered. I felt him smile against my hand. And then to my surprise, he kissed my palm, making me take back my hand.
"You're... ugh!" I stomped off. I wasn't really mad. I was just surprised, embarrassed... and I didn't know what to think or react. My hand felt tingly. I clenched it so hard my knuckles probably turned white.
When we were finally away from the crowd, I saw Ella and the girls resting on a specific spot where there were less people.
They had brought a large umbrella and a large piece of cloth to lie on, so I guess they didn't come here to sunbathe like the rest of this beach's population.
"Poopy," Daniel called again before we reached our friends. I ignored him. Then the bastard started singing that damn nickname. "Poopy. Poopy~ Poopy~"
"What?! What?! What?!" I exploded, glaring at him with all my might. Ughhh!
He smiled at me innocently. "Nothing."
This... this terrible human being! This jackbutt! This horrible excuse for a boy!
I was still drowning in my annoyance when I heard the girls calling us. I sighed loudly.
Why. Oh why did I invite him again?
I looked at him, his smile getting wider, and somehow, softer.
I scoffed so hard I almost threw up.
I invited this guy because I have a crush on him. If it wasn't for--
That wasn't right.
Oh no. What? What? I looked at him again and then turned around, holding my heated cheeks. The heck did I just think? What did I just admit? What? What was happening? A crush? On him? Me?
TINA SNAP OUT OF IT!
Oh no. What have I done?