Chapter 18 - A Day at the Beach
For real? I have a crush on... on...
This isn't right. No, this definitely isn't right. Why? How? When? What?
Is this even possible? A crush? What do you even mean when you say crush? Is it different from like?
Is it harmless?
I recalled my childhood memories of him. The games we played, the meals we shared, the back of their car as they left for London that day and Daniel just looking at me through the glass.
I guess I did have a crush on him when I was a kid. But what about now? Was it still the same as last time? Was it different?
I'll get over it soon, right? It's only temporary. But wait. Do I admit it? I mean, am I even sure?
I feel so stupid.
"Hey Tina?" Ella's voice snapped me out of my thoughts. I forgot we were walking to where our friends were right now. How long had I spaced out?
When I realized this, I halted abruptly in my steps, causing Daniel to bump into my back without warning as well.
"Oh." He mumbled, holding my shoulders and moving to my left. "Didn't see you there, midget."
"You're making fun of my height again." I groaned, forcing myself to glare at him much less look at him.
This is so weird. Why am I getting so nervous? Why am I getting mad at him even though I don't feel any sign of anger?
Why do I have so many questions?
Before a childish argument could start again, Ella got up from her spot and cheerfully hopped towards me. She grinned widely at me and then at Daniel.
"I'm borrowing her for a sec."
Daniel nodded unsurely as the rest of our friends told him to sit with them.
Somehow I feel uneasy with that decision. Strange.
When Ella and I were far from earshot, I looked at her a bit curious, a bit nervous and a bit terrified. I felt like this was some serious matter, seeing as she wanted to speak to me privately about it.
"What is it?" I asked.
She smiled at me kindly before taking my hand. I looked at our hands before I looked up at her; she looked worried. "Did we go a little too far with the teasing?"
Was that it? I shook my head slowly. "Not really, I'm getting used to it. Why?"
She sighed. "What're you confused about this time?"
I looked at her in surprise. How did she know? Was it that obvious?
Knowing that it was pointless to hide anything from her, and she seemed a bit serious right now, I told her all of my thoughts.
It was weird talking to her about this. I mean, it was weird since I was the one talking about it now.
I've never thought about this kind of stuff before.
It took no longer than a minute or two. She just quietly listened, and she looked like she was forcing herself not to smile or laugh. I didn't mind though. It wouldn't be Ella if she didn't have such reactions.
"So, do you think I like him? Or have a tiny crush on him? Is there even a difference? Ella?" My voice almost sounded like a whine. I sound like a child.
My best friend giggled and sighed contentedly. She gave me a big hug and squealed a bit.
"You should be able to answer that. My advice? Just be more aware. Not too conscious, just aware. If you keep denying it, the confusion will just grow stronger. And by the time you know the answer, you're already in too deep."
I nodded, trusting her advice. She sure was experienced in this stuff. So I just have to do as Ella says, then it'll confirm if I like him or not?
The feeling is so unsettling. What will I do if I really do like him? I don't want to like him. Can I win over my doubts if I choose not to like him? Is there even a choice?
I felt Ella give me an encouraging pat on the shoulder. "I think you two should spend a little more time alone. Like, right now."
"Ella it's impossible right?" I said, trying to change topic and make her forget about her suggestion. I don't want us to be alone now. But I kinda do. But I also kinda don't. Ugh this is all so confusing. "I mean, he does a lot of things to piss me off. He's rude. He's sly. He's a pervert. He's the epitome of the word annoying."
She just laughed heartily as if it was the hundredth time she heard this. "Or he's just trying to get your attention."
"Ellaaa." I whined. She rolled her eyes playfully as she began pushing me back to their spot.
"Let's go, child. You and Daniel have a lot of bonding to do."
"Sit here, Daniel!" One of the girls scooted over and patted the space beside her. It was rude to decline so I just did as told.
I watched Ella drag Poopy away as I sat down on the towel they put over the sand. I wonder what's up.
I was trying to distract myself by watching Poopy so the girls wouldn't have to talk to me but it was a failed attempt.
"Dan," one of them started. I don't know their names. Were they from my class? "We're planning to go somewhere later. Give you two some alone time. Want that?"
I tried my best not to look surprised. The girl had a cheeky grin on her face. Wow. I honestly did not expect that. And we just got here too. This was escalating pretty quickly.
"You two watch the cottage." Another girl said, giggling to her friends. "We're gonna meet with our guy friends later and introduce Ella to someone. She's been single way too long."
But what about Sean?
"I know right." Another one said. "It's time for our school's Cupid to be shot by one of her own arrows."
Then they just kept talking non-stop, one topic after another. Was I still a part of this discussion? What is this type of talk? I'm confused. Do I need to compete in order to speak with them in equal footing?
They went on for a while and I was just quietly staring into space, waiting until Poopy gets back. It's only been a couple of minutes since we separated and I'm already getting bored.
"Oh look, they're coming back."
I saw Poopy and Ella walking towards us. Ella's expression was so cheerful as usual and she looked like she was seconds away from skipping in her steps. Poopy looked the complete opposite.
She looked like she was about to walk into a bear's cave.
I grunted when I felt an elbow hit my side. I turned to look at one of the girls. The culprit was smirking at me and the rest of them winked at me in a rather mischievous manner. "Make our Tina happy, Dan."
All of them stood up when Ella arrived. I swallowed hard. This was all planned from the start, wasn't it? Oh God these girls were terrifying.
"Here's the key to the cottage," Ella said as she threw the key to me. I caught it with both hands. "Watch our stuff for a bit. We'll be back in a while."
Then she winked at me as well.
Again, I swallowed hard.
They were putting so much pressure on me. Can't they just let me set my own pace? I know they're just trying to help but I am honestly, pathetically, still a beginner when it comes to this stuff.
I mean what.
What the heck.
"See ya!" They all said in unison, wearing wide smiles. They didn't even give us the chance to complain or even ask when they were coming back. It was so obvious they were setting us up again.
I may complain, but I was a bit grateful. Kinda. Well.
When the girls left, Poopy and I looked at each other and then looked away. Whoa. That was awkward.
"Wanna walk around a bit?" I suggested. I can't let this heavy air around us go on. "Before we go back to the cottage, that is."
She finally raised her head and nodded quietly. "Alright."
I slid the key in my pocket as I led the way. The sun was still way up and we had a lot of time. Only, we didn't know what to do with that time.
Should I talk about something?
"So what do you wanna eat later?" She started, thankfully. Always the best topic for awkward situations--food. "I heard the barbecue's great in that shack near our cottage."
We were currently walking side-by-side near the water. The waves were teasing our feet and the wind was quite a bit harsh, we had to raise our voices a bit just to hear each other.
"Anything's fine." I replied. "As long as there's no dark chocolate for dessert."
I just revealed something about me. Will she think I'm weird?
"You don't like dark chocolate?" She asked, curiously. I shook my head.
"I hate it." I remembered when I first tasted it and even just the memory is enough to make me flinch. "I like milk chocolate, especially the ones with almonds. But I hate dark chocolate. It's too bitter."
I heard her release a light laugh. I sighed in relief. Good. The tension between us was disappearing.
This was one of the rare times we spoke to each other about normal stuff. Usually we'd just argue about stupid things. It was nice and refreshing having a conversation like this for a change.
"What about you?" I asked. I wanted to know about the things she liked and didn't like too.
I mean. For future blackmailing purposes of course.
"Dark chocolate's fine with me." She replied. Then she looked at her feet as if to think. "Hmm. I hate strawberries."
"Seriously?" I almost stopped walking. I didn't realize I sounded so surprised. I cleared my throat.
"Yeah," she laughed again. God, her laugh. "I remember drinking some strawberry-flavored medicine before. I don't know, I got traumatized by it. It was yucky."
Strawberry medicine tastes so different from the actual fruit though. Maybe she just avoided everything strawberry after getting traumatized.
She made a disgusted face before she shivered from the memory and I couldn't help but laugh. I can't resist. I have to tease her.
"That's funny," I said, my confidence coming back and my mouth twitching upwards. "You hate strawberries but your underwear begs to differ."
She hit me on the arm and I just kept laughing. Alright. We were back to normal again.
"Ughh why do you have to mention that? My mom bought me those!" She hit me again, but not as hard.
I recalled the time when I walked into her in the fitting room while she was trying out those swimsuits. She was wearing that strawberry-print underwear set and her face when she saw me come in was priceless. It was so funny.
"Don't worry, they were cute." I chuckled, teasing her some more.
She rolled her eyes before she attempted to kick me. I jumped away before she could.
"Let me hit you." She said, trying to be mad, but I could see the corners of her lips twitching up. It was adorable.
Ah. That weird sensation in my chest and stomach is starting again.
"Nah," I walked backwards as she tread forward. "But I'll let you kiss me."
"Keep dreaming butthead." She said, moving faster now. I was practically jogging backwards too.
Well, we both knew where this was heading.
"Let me ask you something," I said, as the both of us broke into a sprint, yet keeping our conversation playfully casual. "Do you prefer being kissed, or do you like being the initiator better?"
I saw her face turn red and I laughed with all my might. Wow. I haven't laughed like this in a while. It's just so overwhelming.
The adrenaline was amazing.
I have no idea why I'm saying these things. But since I'm getting those reactions from her, it was fine.
It was more than fine.
"Neither!" She yelled as she exerted all her strength in her legs to chase after me. I just kept running backwards. I don't care if I fall down soon, as long as she falls on top of me.
"I think you prefer being kissed." I yelled back, feeling my breath shortening. Running, laughing and holding a conversation like this sure was tiring. "By me of course."
"Aaargh!!!" She released a frustrated breath as she kept chasing after me. I felt a sense of deja vu with all this chasing. It warmed my heart and it just made me want to laugh more. This is just silly.
Now that I was looking at her directly right now even though both of us were running, I just noticed how nice she looked.
The wind wasn't being friendly with her hair, and it got in her way of vision a couple of times. She irritatingly pushed them away but the wind was persistent. Her expression looked like she was annoyed, but it also looked like she was having fun.
Her swimsuit covered most of her skin, but it still showed her flat stomach, it emphasized her curves no matter how much she tried to hide it. And her chest was a bit distracting too.
"Slow down damn it!" She yelled, slowing down now. "Let me punch you!"
I just laughed in reply. I was getting pretty tired too. I'm sure this will hurt in the morning.
I decided to tease her some more despite my own exhaustion. I changed course and ran back to the direction we came from.
Surprised with the sudden turn, she slowed down, and even stopped for a second to catch her breath. The wind played with her hair again, but still. It just made her all the more attractive.
"You're not gonna get away with this!" She said, gasping.
"Poopy, Poopy look!" I said as I ran in slow-motion. "I'm getting awaaaay."
"AAAH DAMN YOU!" She cried before she quickly charged. I lost strength since I kept laughing at her expression, so she caught up to me and tackled me to the ground.
I just kept laughing. I don't know why all the funny bones in my body are reacting like this. Was I drunk or something?
Well, at least I got my wish of her landing on top of me.
Well damn me. I'm thinking of committing a lot of sins right now.
"Alright." Poopy said, breathing heavily. Drops of her sweat trickled down her neck and I regret following that drop slide down her swimsuit, between her breasts.
She was sitting just below my stomach, which was not a very good thing right now.
Holy water. Now.
She placed her hands on my chest, a grin forming on her face as she continued to catch her breath. Both of us were catching our breaths. All these movements weren't exactly helping my case. I need help.
"Caught you. Finally." She continued. She wiped away the sweat from her forehead. I noticed her hair sticking to her skin and I found it unusually appealing.
She has no idea what she was doing to me right now.
She groaned as she leaned over, placing her arms on each side of my head, trapping me. Her face was inches away, and I could feel her breath fan my face.
I kept my eyes on hers. Her breathing was almost back to normal, but I think mine kept shortening by the second we remained in this compromising position.
The thought and feeling of her weight on me made me feel strangely excited. I know I was sweating from the running, but I think I was sweating for another reason.
I don't think she realizes what she's doing. She's too innocent for her own good.
"You're tempting." The words just slipped out of my mouth. Was this the adrenaline talking?
She's gonna get mad again.
"Then don't give in to my temptation." She replied, gazing at me with narrowed eyes, her nose touching mine. Her breath caressed my lips and I had to do my best not to gulp at her actions.
Maybe she's not as innocent as I had thought.
"I can't do that." I said before pushing the back of her head closer to me. When our lips met, it had a different kind of feeling.
I felt like she was responding sincerely now.
It was quick and sweet. When we broke the kiss, the heavy breathing continued. My heart was hammering in my rib cage.
"Se..." I barely managed to say. My breathing was not going well for me. This girl might just give me asthma. "Seven."
She took a deep breath before releasing it loudly. Groaning, she lied her head against my chest. Oh damn, she's gonna hear the evidence of how flustered I am right now.
"I can't believe I let you do that." She complained. "I can't feel my legs. It's all your fault, idiot."
I chuckled. "You liked it."
I know I did.
"I didn't." She retorted.
"Get a room!" We heard a voice say. We got off of each other quickly and saw a group of guys walk around us.
They were snickering and I could tell Poopy was getting flustered. I can't say that I wasn't.
What had gotten into us today?
Did those girls drug us?
"Let's go back to the cottage." She mumbled, fixing her hair. The wind was having fun messing with it. Having long hair must be a nuisance.
I nodded as I stood up and dusted the sand off my shorts. Then I held out my hand and helped her get up.
Even though this was just ordinary for her, me helping her up, but every time I touch her, I get weirdly overwhelmed. It's weird.
When we got to the cottage, she collapsed on the large sofa. "Finally."
I closed the door and decided not to lock it. The girls might come back soon and I know they'll start having weird ideas if I lock the door.
I'll start to get weird ideas.
I seriously need to drink Holy water now.
"So what do we do now?" I asked as I sat down near her feet. She took up most of the sofa.
"I don't know." She replied. "Play a game or something?"
"Hmm. Arm-wrestling?" She suggested. I looked at her. She was serious?
"Game," I replied, hiding my grin. Alright I can hold her hand again.
I'm getting so honest with myself it was scary.
We sat on opposite sides of the table and began our little match. She was much stronger than I had expected. After a few games, she only had one win against me, and that was only because she cheated. Heh.
We didn't realize that an hour had passed since we've been playing. Arm-wrestling, thumb-wresting, and any random game that required strength.
After we got tired, we laid our backs against the sofa. We were sprawled on the floor right now, thinking of what else to do to kill time.
"Ella and the girls sure are taking their time." She mumbled. I agreed.
"I heard they were gonna introduce Ella to some guy."
"Really?" She looked surprised. Huh. So those girls didn't tell her or Ella about this? "But what--"
"What about Sean?" I continued for her. Now she looked even more surprised. "Sean's pretty obvious with his feelings. But what about her? Does she like him?"
She slowly looked down at her feet as she laid her chin on her knees. "Don't tell anyone this. Ella said they used to go out before. Well, I don't know how she feels now."
I didn't find that surprising. "Huh."
A few seconds of silence passed.
"Wanna go swimming?" I suggested, though I was too tired to actually swim.
"Too tired." She replied. Thank God.
I took my phone out of my bag and went back to my spot next to her. I intentionally sat closer so our arms would touch.
I feel so giddy I wanna punch myself.
"Hey, let's take a picture." I said, opening my camera app.
She looked at me suspiciously. "What're you gonna use it for?"
I snorted. She really doesn't trust me.
I put an arm around her shoulder and pulled her close, making her cheeks turn pink. Without counting or warning, I took the shot.
"I wasn't ready!" She said, getting into a more comfortable position. "Again!"
I laughed as I took another shot. Oh. I think I took a shot of me laughing. This time it was me who wasn't ready.
"Again," I mumbled. She laughed when she saw the preview photo. It was a candid shot.
I don't know how long we kept taking pictures, but it was fun. I always thought people taking pictures of their selves were corny, but now that Poopy and were doing it, it was actually kind of fun.
After a while, we decided to see the pictures we took. Most of them were either too stiff or too candid. But I'm not deleting a single one.
"Are you gonna post it on Facebook or Instagram?" She asked. I shook my head.
"Nah. Don't have one."
"You don't? Why?"
"Don't feel like it. What about you?" I replied. Well, it was more like I was too lazy to make one. I wasn't gonna use it anyway, and I don't have that many real friends so what's the point of making a personal account?
I'd rather manage our company's website.
"I have an account," she said before releasing a sigh. "But I don't use it. Ella does. She uploads my pictures and stuff. She just made me one so she can tag me or something."
I nodded again. "That reminds me, I don't have your number."
She looked at me suspiciously again. "I have trust issues."
I made a teasing pout as I handed my phone to her. I even batted my eyes. She snorted as she gave in and took my phone.
"You're ridiculous. Stop making that face." She said as she saved her number in my phone.
"You like it," I laughed, taking my phone back and renaming her as 'Poopy.'
I slid my phone back in my bag. I can't help feeling giddy. We got closer right? Right? This was a good step.
The day's not over yet and I'm already close to feeling satisfied.
"Daniel." She suddenly called, her tone serious. I panicked a bit. Did I do something wrong again? I thought the mood between us was pretty good too.
She looked hesitant of what she was about to say. I patiently waited as I sat in a more comfortable position facing her.
I got worried. And my conversation with Tops yesterday fleeted into my mind all of a sudden. "What is it? You can tell me."
She laughed, forcibly. "Of all people, it's you I can't tell this to."
Now that just made me all the more curious. I closed the tiny distance between us to make her confess. "You started it, now finish what you were saying."
She looked at me, surprised I was this close to her already. "I said nothing."
I felt playful. I decided to change my position and knelt down in front of her. Then I placed my arms on her shoulders, slowly pushing her lower and lower down the carpeted floor.
"Tell me." I said. She looked away but didn't resist.
About what my dimwit of a cousin said. He can't pull it off. He's too stupid. He can't make this girl like him, much more fall for him. It's impossible.
So why am I getting nervous?
When her head reached the floor, I trapped her with my arms and locked my knees on her hips to keep her from escaping.
She's not gonna get away with this one.
"Tell me." I repeated. She shook her head.
"No." She replied firmly, red reaching her ears. "Go away."
She says that, but she wasn't making any effort to escape. With her strength, she could wiggle her way out of this.
I looked at her closely and felt the same thing I felt earlier. I have a good memory, but the real thing was right in front of me. It felt different. It felt stronger.
She's so beautiful.
I don't know if she'll get mad at me, but I wanted to kiss her right now. Kiss her over and over.
I'm about to lose my mind just thinking about it.
But she wasn't resisting at all. She didn't look afraid too. Just.
My eyes narrowed down to her neck. It was so tempting. Was I turning into a vampire now or something? She was staring at me with narrowed eyes as well, as if she was anticipating what I'd do to her.
Seeing that look encouraged me to continue. I forgot what we were even talking about.
I brushed my lips on her skin, and for a few seconds I just stayed there, kissing the sides of her neck.
I heard her heavy breathing, and I felt her chest go up and down from it. Since I had no shirt on, I felt everything. It was hot.
And I can't believe she wasn't complaining.
"Ugh I hate you." She mumbled.
I take back what I said.
"If you hate it, you can always push me away you know." I said, confident that she wouldn't.
I pulled away and looked at her for a second, a grin forming on my face. "Eight, nine, ten."
She realized what I meant and then scoffed. Before she could comment on it though, I claimed her full lips, loving the warmth that filled me as I did so.
"Eleven." I broke away and then dived back in only to break the kiss again. "Twelve."
"Stop counting," she said through her breath.
I kissed her again, and I was yet again overwhelmed with the feeling. This feeling. What was it? Was it like? Was it love?
"You should've seen your face whenever we talked about her before," Tops' annoying voice started in my head.
"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."
It can't be, right?
I felt her hand on my cheek, and I was surprised we kept it going longer than usual. This kiss was different from all the other times we kissed. This kiss sent tingles to my spine and caused a dangerous kind of excitement from me.
This wasn't just teasing anymore.
Our skins were grazing against each other and the warmth just intensified this foreign emotion I had right now.
I felt upset though. Worried. Anxious.
What were we doing? Were we just fooling around, or was this thing actually getting serious?
It was scary not knowing the answer to my own questions.
We broke the kiss again. Both of us were breathing heavily, just like earlier. I looked at her and my chest hurt.
The feeling was nice and warm, but it hurt. My chest was tightening. I wonder why.
"Thirteen." I sighed, drowning myself in her beautiful eyes. I didn't realize what I had said next. "Please don't fall in love with Kristopher."