Chapter 42 - Christmas Shopping
His words kept echoing in my mind. My heart did backflips everytime I remembered the look on his face when I gave him my reply.
"Will you be my girlfriend?"
It wasn't really necesarry for him to ask me that. He probably only asked for reassurance, a proper commitment and, well, because of me.
He asked me because he was considering my feelings.
I regret being so stubborn in the past. I gave him such a hard time. I probably loved him first too but he's the one who keeps making an effort.
He was always straightforward with his feelings. I never was. That's why I'm not holding back anymore. I'm not wasting any more time.
After I told him I'd be his girlfriend, he made such a euphoric expression before pulling me into a suffocating hug.
The dolphins that were watching us seemed to enjoy the show and kept flipping in place. One dolphin even seemed to be clapping its fins together, as if it was rooting for us from the start.
After walking for a bit more, we reached the end of the glass tunnel. The dolphins followed us until the end. It was supposed to be a really long walk, but it felt like the total opposite because we were enjoying our time so much.
We waved the dolphins our goodbyes and they imitated our actions again. Adorable. I'm definitely coming back here soon.
There were several large aquariums in the next rooms that connected to the huge tube we just walked out from. We watched the beautiful creatures with admiration, took plenty of photos and went on to have lunch.
I don't know if my feelings were just everywhere or something, but I kept getting a weird vibe.
I kept feeling like somebody was watching us. Or following us?
I don't know if Daniel noticed too. If he did, he was hiding it pretty well.
But maybe I was just getting too self-conscious because this was the first time we went out as an official couple in public. It was the first time I kept hugging him and kissing him in public.
There wasn't even anybody I knew here. So I shrugged it off and decided to just enjoy my time with him here.
After we had our fill of lunch, Daniel took me for a drive. He brought me to this hill away from the city that I've never been to before. The sun was beginning to set, and from where we were standing, we had the most perfect view.
The sky turned into a lovely painting with a soft blend of pink and purple racing towards a deep indigo. The clouds seemed like cotton candy just passing quickly without a care in the world.
The best part was that there were barely any cars passing by so we had privacy.
"How did you find this place?" I asked. He's only been back for almost a year and yet he's discovered such a wonderful spot to escape reality.
His hands found their way to my waist and he placed me on the hood of his car effortlessly. Huh. I thought I was heavier than that. He then followed and sat comfortably beside me.
"I didn't," he replied, wrapping an arm around my shoulder and gently guiding me to lay down with him. "Dad did. He brought me here when I was a kid."
"I see." I mumbled, scooting closer to him and enjoying the warmth. I think I've been so clingy these days. I hope he doesn't hate it too much. I just want to hold him every chance I can get before he leaves.
Every time I think of him leaving, my heart sinks a little deeper. Like an anchor, the weight was almost too much I could carry.
But he didn't need to know that selfish part of me. About my selfish thoughts of wanting him to stay here with me.
He said he'd come back. And I trusted him.
"So how was it?" He asked me as I placed my hand on his chest. His right arm was around me as his left arm served as a pillow for the back of his head. "Our first date?"
I glanced at him as he was watching the sky. I'm lucky enough I met him again after twelve years. I got even luckier when he reciprocated my feelings. I shouldn't ask for more.
When he noticed me staring at him, he sent me a small smile which I easily returned.
"Just amazing." I said, almost like a whisper. "But I expected nothing less from my boyfriend."
I snorted after saying that but I swear I could feel myself blushing. I never thought I'd be able to say something like that in my entire life.
Daniel was ten times more flustered than I was though. He made a quiet aaah then laughed before rolling over to my side and crushing me with a big hug. We were laughing like fools the whole time.
"Anything for my girlfriend," he said, pinching my cheek and kissing my lips ever so gently. "And not counting that kiss."
Was it okay to be this happy?
Somehow, I was scared of being too happy.
I rolled my eyes laughing. "You don't count a lot of kisses. Isn't that cheating?"
He kissed me again. "Nope. Today the deal is temporarily void because it's our special date."
I only laughed at his adorable excuse to kiss me. I didn't mind it at all.
We laid on our backs once again and watched as the indigo slowly enveloped the sky. Stars were already peeking behind the clouds. It was so beautiful.
"My dad told me he brought my mom here for their first date," he started. I could feel my heart racing. "This used to be just a hill back in the day. This road was built just after they got married."
I was quiet as I watched his eyes so focused on the sky. He rarely talks about his mom. I wonder if he misses her, despite never meeting her.
"This was where he proposed to her too," he said, slowly closing his eyes, his hold on me tightening. He breathed in the fresh air before releasing it calmly. He opened his eyes and looked at me. "When I return from London, I'm going to bring you back to this place. I promise."
I almost forgot how to breathe.
What he was saying...
It was almost like he was...
No, I won't say it. I won't jinx it.
He pulled me in for another hug, this time it was tender, and it was simply comfortable. He kissed my forehead, his hand reaching for the nape of my neck. Then he kissed the corner of my lips before rubbing his thumb on my cheek.
His gaze was so gentle and it felt like all our problems were washed away.
God, I love this man. So much.
"I love you too." He chuckled. I was confused for a moment and then realized I probably said my thoughts out loud. I hid a blush but didn't regret it.
I didn't regret a single word.
I wish days like this would just go on forever. My heart swelled with joy, but then I was reminded by the reality that was waiting for us.
Of course, days like this wouldn't last forever. But since it's still possible, I'd just like to stay like this. With him.
Just a little bit longer.
Monday came. I was still lost in my own little world with Kristina and I almost suggested skipping class just so we can spend more time together.
But I didn't, because I know she'll hit me.
I was still staying at their guest room, which was more than fine with me because she comes to my room every night to watch more anime with me.
It was just too good to be true.
Her parents probably noticed that we got closer, and that we were more affectionate now. Aunt Lizzy was more than happy to see us like this, and Uncle Jake was just quiet.
But he sends us smiles of approval, which was more than enough already.
We got to class and we were greeted by our friends immediately, as if they were especially waiting for our arrival.
Kristina got dragged away by Ella and Anne as I got dragged away too by Tops. Sean was no where to be seen, strangely enough. His seat was empty.
"Danny, Danny," my cousin said in a panic.
"What's wrong?" I asked. This better be good since he just practically dragged me to the corner of the classroom. I haven't even left my things in my desk yet.
He looked around to check if there were anyone near us and when the coast was clear, he started talking.
"I need you to come with me later."
I raised a brow. "Where?"
He looked up as if to think. "Mall? Boutique? Souvenir shop? Lingerie store?"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa." I quickly stopped him, almost hitting his hands that were firmly holding my arms. He seemed anxious. "What is this for? Don't tell me--"
"It's for a present." He said, glancing at the girls from afar. "Anne's Christmas present."
I sighed heavily. I don't even know what I should say or feel.
"I looked it up and asked my bodyguards. They said the best presents to give to a girl you liked were jewelry, clothes or lingerie."
I stopped myself from massaging my temples. Why. Why did he take those goofs seriously.
"And do you think Anne would like any of those?" I asked.
He sighed, shaking his head. "That's why I need you to come with me. I have absolutely no idea!"
"Dude." I placed a hand on his shoulder, looking at him with dead-serious eyes. He was paying full attention. "Do you seriously want me to come help you pick sexy underwear for my best friend? Are you seriously gonna drag me into this?"
He nodded eagerly, completely missing my point.
"We'll figure out the sizes later. You can choose one for Tinz too."
I literally facepalmed now. I almost smacked his head too. I sighed heavily before patting my cousin's back a bit too hard.
Kristina already calls me a pervert. If I give her lingerie as a present I won't hear the end of it.
She was my girlfriend now though so maybe--
Unholy thoughts, shame on you, being influenced by Tops' stupidity.
My chuckles came out forced as I had tried to talk him out of it.
"I can bash your head right now so you can forget about this horrible idea of yours." I said, already placing a hand on his head.
Maybe it could've been a good present. But in a different time. Not now, when things were just starting to progress in our relationships with those girls.
"Then help me!" He cried, dramatically as always. "I want it to be special since I'm courting her now. I want to give her something that will show how sincere I am."
"And you think buying her lingerie is going to make her think you're sincere?" I asked him increduously. "You two aren't in that stage of your relationship yet. She'll think you're a pervert, you damn idiot. Think about it."
A deep blush spread on his cheeks. That reaction came quite late. Did he just realize that now?
"I think my bodyguards were messing with me when they suggested that."
I nodded, relieved. "I'm sure they were. You're so easy to make fun of."
He's so gullible too.
He shook his head and slapped his face, to calm himself down probably. He looked so much in a panic. For a Christmas present.
"Amusing," I raised my brows at him as a light shade of pink faded in the inflicted area. "Do it again. I'll record it and show it to Anne."
He ignored me though and focused on his current crisis.
"You haven't picked a present for Tinz yet, have you?"
I shook my head. I was wondering about that too, actually. I didn't want it to be just a simple present too. I still have time to figure it out.
"Not yet," I replied, thoughtfully. "Fine, I'll go with you."
The look in his face was full of relief. This guy seriously can't live without me.
"Great! After class then."
We parked at the mall's underground parking lot. Tops decided to take the wheel because he was directing where we should go.
I was just coming along to smack some sense into him again in case he buys a ridiculous gift and make the most horrible mistake of giving it to Anne.
"Let's go, let's go," he said, jogging place as soon as he stepped out of the vehicle. Hearing and seeing him do that just broke what little motivation I had to come along.
"What are we going to look for first?"
I walked along side him towards the entrance. He stopped jogging now and walked normally, thankfully.
He was so anxious, this guy.
I understood where he was coming from though. I just can't reciprocate the amount of energy he has for this.
"Clothes or shoes are difficult. She has a particular taste and I'm not very familiar with women's fashion. I have no idea about the size either." He said, thoughtfully. "What about you?"
I looked up and closed my eyes a bit, trying to imagine and estimate the measurements.
I didn't realize I had raised my arms and appeared to be hugging an invisible person.
I held her in my arms enough times to have a decent image.
"You're unbelievable," my cousin snickered, making me open my eyes again.
I just did that in public.
Somebody slap me.
"At least I can figure out her size if I were to buy her a dress or something." I cleared my throat, trying to forget what I did just now.
Tops was still snickering. He grabbed the opportunity and made fun of me. He mimicked my actions and hugged the air, making weird kissy faces too.
People around us were starting to stare, but I wasn't sure if they recognized Tops or me.
"Need I remind you that you're still a public figure?" I sighed heavily. What am I going to do with this idiot.
"I got that covered actually," he said, pulling out a black baseball cap from his back pocket. He put it on and adjusted it a bit in an attempt to conceal his features.
I looked at him in mock awe.
"It's like you're a whole different person already."
He rolled his eyes, catching the sarcasm. "Don't you need something to cover up too? I have a face mask here."
"Nah," I replied, sliding my hands in my pockets. "I'm not someone the people here would find interesting."
If we were in London though, that'd be a different story.
"Suit yourself," he said.
We found ourselves in a jewelry store. Tops and I walked in, having absolutely no idea of what to look for.
The security guard was giving us a stern look, probably because of our school uniforms. Figures.
What normal high school student would walk right in an expensive jewelry store?
Tops didn't notice the weird looks we were getting though, and even waved a friendly hi to the staff inside.
We started browsing the diamonds on display. There were a lot to choose from. Anne liked jewelry, so this was fine. Kristina however...
She didn't wear much now that I think about it. I'm not sure if she liked wearing jewelry. Hmm. Maybe if I got her a necklace...
I hid a smile. No doubt she'd look even more beautiful. And knowing her, she'd prefer a simple kind. A thin but strong chain, with a small but precious charm.
"Excuse me," Tops called one of the staff's attention. A tall lady with her hair tied up into a neat bun approached us from behind the counter. When she arrived, Tops sent her a polite smile. "If you were to receive a gift, what type of jewelry would you prefer?"
A slight blush appeared on the lady's cheeks, and Tops, completely oblivious, just kept smiling at her like a puppy, waiting for an answer.
The other lady beside her though looked a bit annoyed. She seemed older and more experienced compared to the one assisting Tops at the moment.
She folded her arms against her chest and eyed us suspiciously.
Did she think we were wasting their time because we couldn't afford these or something?
"Well," she smiled back, unlocking the glass counter and then placing a velvet box in front of us. She opened the box, revealing a very shiny diamond ring. "This one's popular with the ladies. A 3.01 Carat Princess Cut Side Stones Ring. It makes the finger appear slender and elegant. Perfect for a present."
The other lady not-so-subtly scoffed before walking towards us, her heels clicking with every step.
We were still looking at the ring when she closed the box and placed her hand over it, as if preventing us from touching it.
"It costs about twenty-five thousand dollars." She said, eyeing us in great distaste. Wow, this lady really didn't like us. "We don't accept installments."
Tops still didn't notice the rude treatment we were receiving. Or maybe he just didn't mind because he was distracted with trying to pick the perfect present. He's one to lose sight of all other things once he's focused on one thing after all.
"In case I get the wrong size, can I have it resized without having the risk of it being damaged?"
The lady looked at him sternly before she replied. "Yes. Depending on the metal and size, the price ranges from $50 to $150."
Tops looked lost in thought for a small while before clasping his hands together in satisfaction.
"Perfect. I'll take it."
The lady raised her brows and motioned for someone at the corner to come. I hid a scoff myself. She actually called the guard on duty.
Tops was busy fiddling with his wallet, probably choosing what credit card to use. Before he could pull it out, the buff security guard cleared his throat, gathering our attention.
"I apologize for the interruption sir, but may I ask you to please take off your cap? We have a strict policy against it."
I resisted rolling my eyes. He should have applied that strict policy as soon as we entered. I was wondering what was taking him so long. Was he waiting just for this moment to say that? Unbelievable.
"Oh! Right. Sorry," Tops laughed as if he just realized and then took the cap off.
He gave the ladies an apologizing smile as he stuffed his cap on his back pocket again.
A look of recognition flashed in their eyes. The lady that assisted us earlier gasped and the other lady's eyes widened like saucers.
Tops apologized to the stunned security guard as well. "Sorry, it's a habit of mine to wear accessories to conceal my identity out in public."
Before anyone could say another word (not that they could), Tops pulled out his credit card and placed it on the counter.
Even I almost made a low whistle. He owned a Centurion Card from American Express, also known as the Black Card, under his own name.
It was the most expensive credit card in the world, an elusive and exclusive card issued by invitation only.
I wasn't that surprised. Tops was already extremely wealthy before he debuted as an artist.
I hid a laugh when I saw the staff standing stiff, staring at the credit card on the counter. It seemed like they didn't even want to touch it.
"Oh," Tops said as if he just remembered. The staff turned their gazes to him again. "Here's my ID and certificate of ownership. I was issued the card under special priveleges when I turned eighteen. If you want, you can confirm it with my bank."
There was only silence after that. Tops looked confused. I shook my head and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Maybe they can't process the payment of a credit card of this rarity. Maybe you should try your other cards?"
"I see," Tops nodded as he took out another card from his wallet and placed it on the counter next to his Black Card.
I held back from laughing now.
Tops placed another impressive credit card with a generous credit line right in front of them.
The lady that was rude to us earlier had beads of sweat forming on her forehead.
"Still no good?" Tops asked, sadly. "What credit cards do you accept then? Or do you prefer cash? Bank transfers? I can arrange whichever is more convenient for you."
"Maybe we should just go to a different jewelry store," I told him.
I was being mean, I know, but I wanted to at least get back at them for treating Tops like that before they realized who he was.
This time, the lady finally made a clear reaction after snapping out of her daze.
"No, no!" She said, almost as if she just jumped out of her skin. Her co-worker was just silent as she kept nodding her head. "That is not necessary. We'll process the payment right away, Mr. Walls. My deepest apologies for my behavior earlier..."
The other lady quickly, carefully, took one of his credit cards on the counter and went to process the payment.
Tops just smiled at them, completely unaware of the panic he just caused.
As soon as were finished with our transaction, Tops wore his cap again and we left the store. I peeked over my shoulder to give them one last glance and snickered at their pale expressions, like they couldn't believe what just happened.
Tops was happily humming to himself as he held the ring he just bought.
"Seriously, why a diamond ring? You're not going to propose to Anne, are you?"
"What are you talking about?" He asked, confused again. "If I were to propose then I would've bought an expensive ring."
I shook my head laughing.
Crazy rich bastard.
Well, Anne was crazy rich too so it's a tie.
"How are things with you two anyway?" I started, genuinely curious. We had just entered the department store now, just walking around and looking for anything interesting.
Tops seemed to glow at my question. I hid a smile.
"I took her out on a date last weekend," he said, as if in a dream. "It was great. We talked about a lot of things too; caught up and stuff."
I patted his shoulder proudly. "Nice. That's great to hear."
"She's still giving me a hard time though," he confessed, laughing a bit weakly. He seemed to be enjoying it. "But I love every second of it. How about you and Tinz?"
This time, I couldn't hide the huge smile that had already formed on my face. Tops saw it and burst out laughing.
"I asked her to be my girlfriend," I told him, a bit embarrassed. This wasn't something we usually talked about. Tops was still staring at my face, his grin growing bigger and bigger. "So yeah, she's my girlfriend now."
He slapped my back and laughed again like a maniac. "Finally! Took you two long enough!"
We were gaining attention now since Tops was so loud. After all the weird looks and some people already recognizing Tops, we decided to leave the department store.
We stopped by a cafe for a little break. Tops said it was his treat and ordered for us. I sat on a vacant table right next to the glass that separated us from the rest of the mall.
While waiting for our orders, I stared at my phone. I had just gotten a text from Kristina.
She was with Anne and Ella, eating somewhere. She also said Anne was going to drive her home, so I didn't have to come pick her up.
While I was typing in my reply, I noticed Tops looking at me with a huge grin. I glared at him. "What now?"
"It's written all over your face," he said, proudly. "You're over the moon. I can't believe I'm seeing this expression of yours."
"Why?" I asked, suddenly concious of my face. I held my mouth and cheek. Was I smiling like an idiot again?
My cousin sighed and placed an arm over the seat next to him, trying to get into a more comfortable position.
"I wonder how long this happiness of ours will last," he said, his tone suddenly turning into something gloomy now.
I think I knew where he was going with this.
Our orders arrived and we thanked the waitress as she set our food and drinks on the table.
She shyly asked for Tops' autograph and a quick selfie and he just smiled as he signed her notebook and smiled at the camera.
When she left, we went back to the subject. I took a sip of my drink as Tops took his phone out and narrowed his eyes at the screen.
"Richard called me a few nights ago." He started. I knitted my brows.
He nodded. "He said if I make Anne cry again, he'd hunt me down."
"Not surprised," I replied. He treated Anne like his own daughter. He practically raised her after her father walked out of her life.
"He said he wanted to meet us after New Years to talk about business," he continued, popping some fries in his mouth. "This is like deja vu for you, isn't it Danny?"
I clenched my teeth, biting the straw on the process. The day we left our home for London twelve years ago, Richard had also called my father.
I still don't know the exact details of that call. My dad wouldn't tell me.
"Do you think he's gonna make us work for him or something?" Tops wondered, looking annoyed. "It's so out of the blue."
"We've been expecting this though," I told him. He nodded in understanding. "Dad and I knew he was gonna contact us sooner or later."
Tops sighed heavily, stuffing more fries into his mouth and then taking a huge sip to down his food. "And if we don't go, he'll threaten to absorb the company again?"
Tops had plenty of knowledge about this, of course. He was also a major shareholder of the company after all.
"Most probably," I replied.
"What an arse," he mumbled under his breath.
As we continued to talk about our concerns, we saw a familiar face just outside the cafe.
He was wearing our school uniform despite being absent the whole day.
Tops raised his hand to call him but then a girl appeared beside him and started pulling him somewhere.
My cousin slowly let down his hand before we continued watching the scene transpiring in front of us.
We couldn't see the girl's face clearly because her back was turned, but we could see how completely flustered Sean was.
He skipped school to go on a date?
"Look at that cheeky little bugger," Tops snickered.
I snorted and then lost interest right away. I thought he still liked Ella? But whatever. She was seeing someone else now, and so was he. It's probably for the best.
"Have you met with Chie yet?" I asked. Tops knew the guy. And as soon as he heard his name, his eyes automatically rolled in imperceptible degrees.
"No. Nor do I want to. He's a pain." He said. Hearing that from Tops of all people was already saying something. "I know he hates me because of what I did to Anne, but...ugh. Alright fine, I understand where he's coming from."
"I don't," I said, a little too strongly. "I've never done anything wrong to him or his father. I've never even met them."
"That's because you hate socializing and refuse to attend their charity gala balls every year," he pointed out. Not like he attended those events too.
"I had no obligation to attend so I had the right to refuse."
"Please," Tops laughed knowingly. "You just dislike the Watanabes to a certain extent and refuse to associate yourself with them."
I took another sip of my drink and gave my cousin an acknowledging nod. "True."
"Hurry up, by the way." He said, finishing his share and pressing a napkin to his mouth. "You still haven't picked a present for Tinz yet."
"Okay," I mumbled.
I still have no idea what to get her though.
I've been feeling uneasy since earlier.
Anne, Ella and I went out after class to look for Christmas presents, and then went for coffee and snacks right after.
The whole time I felt like we were being watched. Ella didn't seem to notice as she was in a bit of a daze. She attempted to open up about Sean, but out of nowhere, he appeared right in front of our eyes.
He didn't notice us, and just let himself be led around by this girl we didn't know. I didn't know he was dating someone right now. But that wouldn't be so surprising.
Ella was quiet after witnessing all that. Anne and I didn't press for any more details. Instead, we linked our arms on hers for moral support.
Anne was all smiles and bubbles today. She had shared with us that she and Kristopher went out on a date on the weekend. We were happy for her.
They also asked about me and Daniel. I was a bit embarrassed to tell them but they deserved to know as they were our closest friends. They would've found out eventually.
As soon as the word boyfriend came out of my mouth, they squealed so loud and cheered, demanding more details.
In the end, we couldn't look for any presents, because we were too engrossed in our little individual stories.
I don't understand why there was this constant chill on my spine. It made me look over my shoulder several times to see if anyone was watching or following us, but the coast was always clear.
It was the same feeling as when Daniel and I went to the Aquarium. Like someone was observing us. Just creepy.
Ella was cheered up when we talked about other things. She promised to tell us again next time. It was fine with us; whenever she was ready.
It was getting late so Anne drove all of us home. I thanked her just before I got out of her car and went inside my house.
I checked my phone and seeing no text from Daniel yet, I stuffed it back inside my pocket.
I dropped my things on the floor of my room and changed into comfortable clothes. Now what should I do to kill time? Read a bit?
"Are you home, sweety?" Mom gently knocked on my door. When she saw me, she handed me her wallet. "Can you go to the store and buy some eggs and milk? Take Daniel with you."
"Okay," I replied, forgetting to tell her that Daniel wasn't home yet. But the store was only a couple of blocks away, and it's not like I've never ran errands at this hour before.
I put my hair up in a high ponytail and went outside.
After a little evening walk, I arrived at the store. I grabbed all the things mom asked for and paid for it using the cash from her wallet.
I was on my way back home when that familiar chill crawled up my spine again.
In a panic, I watched my surroundings, but I was alone. I quickened my steps though, feeling paranoid.
It couldn't be a paranormal phenomenon, could it?
I was already a block away from my house when I heard a multitude of footsteps behind me. I didn't dare turn around. I was scared for my life.
But I might also be paranoid since I've been getting these weird feelings. I shouldn't accuse anything or anyone just because I'm such a scaredy-cat.
Then I heard a click of a camera.
The sound was too close. I somehow knew I had a picture of myself stolen just now. I almost jumped out of my skin.
"Excuse me," an unfamiliar voice started, and a hand held my shoulder, forcefully stopping me from my tracks. I suppressed a scream out of pure shock.
I bravely turned around to see a complete stranger staring me down. He was probably in his mid-thirties, with his beard unevenly growing in spikes on his face. He was also wearing a huge coat and a cap that concealed almost half his eyes.
My hand instinctively went to my pocket to grab my phone to either call for help or hit the stranger. I mentally cursed myself and panicked even more when I realized I didn't bring my phone along with me.
"Are you Kristina Karlins?" He asked, his grip on my shoulder only tightening, as if to prevent me from escaping.
I didn't give out a reply. Using all my strength, I pushed his hand off me and glared at him. I took a step back and only then did I notice he had company.
There were about three other people behind him. One was a woman. They were all wearing uniform coats, and one had a camera hanging from his neck.
They seemed like...reporters?
"What's your relationship with Daniel Curtis?" The man who had grabbed me earlier pressed, ignoring the fact that I was completely uncomfortable. "Are you two living together?"
One of the people behind him started recording us with his phone, and the other one started taking pictures. The familiar sounds of those clicks were what I heard back in the Aquarium.
So I wasn't just being paranoid after all.
They were trying to get to Daniel through me.
"Please leave me alone," I said, trying to walk away again. But they wouldn't. The man used more force this time and pulled my arm a little too hard. It hurt.
"Listen, sweetheart," he sighed as if he was running out of patience. He tightened his grip on my wrist and I winced at the pain. He looked at my face one more time before releasing a scoff. "You're not special, alright? Just tell me how you're involved with Daniel Curtis, Kristopher Walls and Anne Jennings. And also the Watanabe twins. Tell me why they've all gathered here. Tell me while I'm still asking nicely."
I held my breath, getting angrier by the second. There was fear, but there was also anger.
I can't believe people like this existed.
"Hey Andrew," one of his companions stepped forward. "I don't think you should be doing that. That's not right..."
"Shut the hell up newbie," he spat, glaring at the guy holding the camera. "We wasted enough time waiting. If we don't send a report tomorrow we're all gonna be jobless. So shut your trap and just do your damn job."
I saw my chance to escape and held my knee up, targetting his croth, but he blocked it right on time, as if anticipating the move.
He looked even more annoyed now.
"Stop wasting my time little girl," he gritted his teeth, this time holding both my shoulders with enough force to weaken me completely. I was shaking from fear and helplessness. "If you don't want us to post a humiliating video of you tonight, why don't you just tell us what we want? You know how easy it is to manipulate the public using social media, right?"
The guy recording everything with his phone stepped forward and tried to get a clearer take on my face.
I closed my eyes hard and looked away.
This can't be happening...
Just a block away from my own house...
In my own street where I always believed I'd be safe...
I was being harassed by people I didn't even know...
"Let me ask again, this time, give me a proper answer," he said, his tone implying that if I didn't give him the answer he wanted, he'd hurt me. "What is your relationship with Daniel Curtis?"
I was about to scream my lungs out for help when the man was suddenly, forcefully pulled away from me.
My vision was blurry for a bit since I closed my eyes too hard, but I saw a figure punch the man hard on the face, making him fall to the ground.
I heard rapid clicks from the camera. They were so persistent.
The man on the ground held his jaw and glared at the man standing in front of him. When he realized who it was though, his face paled.
His eyes were burning with so much rage right now. His clenched fist still shaking, as if he was ready to swing at the guy one more time.
I held my breath, scared and relieved at the same time. He was always the calmest one in the room. I've never seen him that angry before.
He reached for the man on the ground and grabbed his collar, almost choking him. The intensity of his glare was frightening. I was suddenly glad I wasn't at the receiving end.
"How about I answer all your questions?"