Travis and I walk hand in hand to our evening date at the cafe. I have absolutely no idea how this became a thing but now it's become a habit to grab onto one another's hand whilst walking. At the beginning it had be mortifying what with me turning red Everytime he grabbed hold of my hand and then he'd feel embarrassed as well cause I'm such an amazing person who has the ability to make everyone feel embarrassed. But now with practice and mental training to not yelp every time he touches my hand, I've pretty much gotten used to his touch on mine.
"You were a total badass yesterday." Travis says and I stop in my track to look at him.
"Why are you repeating the same words over and over and over again for the past ten minutes?" I ask the guy, raising my brow. He just shrugs like he hadn't just kept repeating a sentence like a recorder.
"Because you're being too quiet today. And it's creeping me out. You're never this silent."
I'd have punched him in the gut if he had been some other guy.
"I'm savoring the glorious moment from yesterday's match!"
That's right. Another Victory for the Hawkettes. A tough battle in which we emerged victorious. And what was even more of an astonishment was that I had been acknowledged as the MVP. Everyone had cheered for me. Screamed my name. My teammates had all beamed with pride. Coach Harlot gave me a rare pat on my back. Even the boys team had been present as promised by Leon. They created an embarrassing scene by screaming wildy and cheering us on.
I had crushed our opponents and left them in the dust with my play style and gameplay. Something I could have never accomplished without my girls.
I owe it to them all.
"Move it." Someone yelled and I was pushed aside by a burly hand. The stranger walked past without a word of apology.
"Woah there." Travis caught me just in time before I could go crashing on a nearby fence. He turned to yell at the dude but I stop him from doing so.
"Leave it. I must have been spacing out and blocking his path."
I get back to standing straight and realize Travis has his hands still pressed on my stomach and back.
"Uh Travis?" I point at his hand on me and he quickly retrieves it with his ears going red. But then he frowns and touches my abdomen once more.
"So now you're sexually harassing me in public?" I question the guy.
"Ignoring the rude accusation you just threw at me, I don't think I'll ever come across a girl with such a hard abdomen as you." He comments completly sidestepping on the accusation I just made. I felt like sulking at how expertly he handled it, but what he just said made me frown.
"So you want me to have belly fat?" I ask dryly. Travis snorts at my remark.
"Well no. But your's isn't the typical girl body. I'm using Ava as reference." Well duh. I'm a sportswoman. I workout everyday and thus my well fitted body and muscles. " I think I can even feel a pack in there. I fear you having a better workout body than me Jude."
"Are you being serious?" I roll my eyes at him for sounding so stupid. "have you not looked at yourself shirtless in a mirror? Your body is chiseled!" I even throw my arms out for extra effect. Travis smirks at once and only then do I realize the grave mistake I've committed.
Fuck you mouth. Can you not for once think before you utter nonsense?
"So you did check me out the first time I came over to your gym." He teases making me want to crawl somewhere and hide.
"Shut up or I will slap you." I try to be threatening as possible but Travis just chuckles, pulling me closer to him.
I think back to the time Travis and I had first met. We had always been at each others throat. Always ready to diss once another. And yet now, we're dating.
How weirder can we get?
Travis pulls me along with him and makes way towards the cafe. Entering, a waft of the baked goodness fills my senses. I wave at a sulky Harry and the always cheerful counter boy who waves back enthusiastically and then turns back to taking an order from an old lady. Harry just downright ignores my wave. Travis and I sit further to a corner, away from any prying eyes and evedropping.
What are we gonna rob a bank?
"So tell me," he starts. I stare at him confused.
"Tell you what exactly?"
"When are we going to kiss?" He asks the darn embarrassing question nonchalantly like it was no big deal.
"Wh-what?" I clear my throat. Fuck. Why am I stuttering? If I had been drinking something, I'd have definitely spat on him.
"You know you can't always run away from me like you always do. We've been dating for some time now. One day I will kiss you."
I could feel my entire body heating up with embarrassment. I might as well bury myself alive. I quickly look around to make sure no one was listening in on us.
Travis was speaking the truth. Whenever Travis had tried anywhere closer to my face, I'd always given him lame excuses and made a run for it.
"Do all couples have a talk about kissing?" I was genuinely curious.
Travis sighed. "No. They just kiss. We are the only insane ones who are actually having a deep conversation on kissing and making plans."
I stay silent for a second and then sigh deeply. "I'm sorry Travis. You might be used to it but it's all new to me." I wait for his response, but I don't get any. I take a quick peak at him and find him frowning at me.
"What do you mean 'used to it'? You think I've had girlfriends left and right?" His question throws me off. It's my turn to frown now.
"You're telling me you are a twenty-year-old who's been girlfriendless all this time?"
"You think I've been sleeping around with girls?" Travis had his fists clenched tight. "I'm a fucking virgin Judith. And yes, I've been girlfriendless this entire time." He snapped at me rather strongly. My mouth drops open. That's all my brain can think of making me do. Words we forming but I couldn't out it out.
How can a guy say that he's a virgin so boldly? And out in the open like this?
"I've been too busy pleasing my parents, I never really had the time or heart to look at any girl romantically." Travis who I'm pretty was mad a second ago sighed aloud. "but you Judy," his annoyed expression was overthrown with a look of infatuation. "You somehow make me forget my parents. The world around me and all my worries. I was so engrossed in you I literally forget everything except in how to winning you over."
And just like that my insides became a mush.
How does he always manage to say something romantic when you're least expecting it?
"I..." I clear my throat before continuing. "I'm sorry Tray. I really am. I didn't mean to upset you."
Travis being the gentleman he is just holds my hand and gives me a gentle smile forgetting how angry I'd made him feel.
"I'm scared of kissing you." His smile makes me blurt out.
"Why?" He asks confused.
“I’m scared you’d lose interest in me after we kiss. Isn’t that how it goes in dating? After the first kiss, they start losing interest in one another and slowly break apart?” I mutter. I felt so embarrassed uttering such words. I just wanted to run back home to my safe haven of a room full of dirty jumpers and shorts.
“who is the world said you something so absurd? Are you insane Jude? I would never lose interest in you even after ten years!” he cries out throwing his hands in front at the stupid shell shocked me.
Does he realise he just spouted he would be dating me for ten years? Do couples last that long?
Before we could continue our conversation, which was getting to crazyville, a shadow appeared beside us. “if you two are done embarrassing us all, could you please take your drinks so I could go wash my bleeding ears?” a very familiar grumpy voice grunts annoyingly at Travis and me. Travis whose hands had miraculously wrapped around mine without me noticing lets go for a second and coughed awkwardly. He grabbed the drink glasses from Harry’s tray and the dude marched off to the back of the café where the goodies were being baked.
“Someone please just kill me now.” Travis who was more embarrassed than I was, covered his reddened face as he mumbles the words. I had nothing better do but laugh and I pull my drink closer to take a sip. The frappe was so good it made me forget my earlier conversation with Travis. I moan at the deliciousness. But then I stop.
“Don’t go anywhere.” I say as I scramble to my feet hurriedly. “ I’ll be back real quick.” With that I push aside a daydreaming Harry and rush towards the bathroom.
I hate this!
I finish my business as quickly as possible. Dusting my skirt which had somehow flattened out, I wash my hands and rush back outside and take quick steps to the other side where Travis was seated. Or he was supposed to.
The table was empty.
I sit on one of the empty chairs and stare at the untouched drinks. Looking around I don’t find the familiar brown head. “Tray?” I call out wondering if perhaps he had come looking for me when I had run off earlier without a proper explanation.
The loud clattering takes me by surprise. Looking up I find Harry staring down at me with his big eyes. The dude who had been standing nearby had come over and banged his drink tray on my table.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” I snap at the fool who was giving me a blank expression.
“You’re the one who asked for a tray.” He retorted back.
“what? Why would I-” I pause when what he says clicks inside of me. “I was calling out to my boyfriend you weasel!”
“Your boyfriend’s name is tray?” Harry asked in surprise while all I wanted to do was strangle the dude.
“Travis. I call him Tray and I don’t know why. Now you get it?” I try to be calm as a clam as I explain this guy the confusion. I grit my teeth to keep myself from gnashing out at him. He only goes “oh” and then shrugs like all this was no big deal. “do you go around banging trays at everyone who visits the café?” I ask.
“Nope. You’re just an honoured one.” He says it so blankly with a downright neutral expression I wasn’t sure if he was joking or being serious. “I f you’re looking for the guy you came in here with, then he left with another girl.” I stare at Harry trying to blend in his words. “ the one he spilt his drink on a while back to be precise.” With that he picks up his tray and walks over to the counter to take someone else’s order.
Tiara? But why?
As I get to my feet, I slam my fist on the left side of my chest which was starting to squeeze for no reason. I slapped it a couple of times to make the inner pain go away. I leave my belongings all out on the table and just run to the front door. Ripping it open I rush outside and try to spot Travis. He was no where to be found.
Why? Why? WHY!?
I try to keep my calm as I walk around the café hoping to perhaps catch a glimpse of his fleeing figure. And then I find him. With her.
Tiara was holding onto Travis’s arm in a tight grip as her body moved closer much to my dislike. He face was scrunched up in some sort of desperation. Travis just stood there emotionless, like he wasn’t even listening to her words. The two of them were in the alleyway beside the café. A small pathway which was a path for people to walk from one street to the next.
“What is going on here?” I demand not bothering about making a rude entrance. I hadn’t known my voice could sound so cold and piercing. Travis was the first to register my sudden presence. he tries to take his hand away from Tiara’s but she doesn’t let go that easily.
“Mind your own business.” Tiara says, her voice as sweet as candy but laced with venom as she looked at me with her slitting eyes.
“I think its my business who my boyfriend interacts with?” I reply calmly, folding my arms in front of my chest to show her I meant business. Travis’s eyes wander to me and the side of his lip tugs upwards in a light teasing smirk. Our little moment is short lived as Tiara ruins it with a snort. She rolls her eyes and throws me a look of pity.
The conniving bitch! Does she think I’m fantasizing?
I was so close to slapping her for looking down at me when Travis took the next step. He walked over to me and stood in front as he glared at Tiara menacingly.
“You got a problem with that?” his voice dripping with anger and fury that even I take a step back. Tiara stared at him in shock. She looked over at me and then back at him.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.” She whispered under her breath as she clenched her fists tight by her side. She doesn’t say another word on this as she knew very well Travis would snap. Sighing she flips her hair aside and plants a hand on her hip while jutting out the other side, as if she was modeling in a dark alleyway.
“whatever. Just get your ass back to college before you’re kicked out for good. There’s a limit to how much your parents can meddle with. You’re running out of time and luck hon. You are darn smart and valuable to be kicked out. Don’t let all your efforts go to waste for anyone.” The latter she spoke directing her gaze to me with a look of discontent and disgust. I couldn’t retaliate nor counter as every word she said felt like a punch in the gut to me. But why?
Travis stepped in front covering me from Tiara’s view. “Judy has nothing to do with this.” He grunted with his teeth clenched. A vein popping out on the side of his forehead. “Stop getting her involved.”
“then does this have to do with-” she couldn’t continue as Travis’s shout made her stop with a yelp.
“THAT’S ENOUGH!” his yell so loud I was afraid people would start gathering to see what was going on. “I’ll handle my shit. You have nothing to worry about. So please, just leave.”
I didn’t look at Tiara with a victorious smirk. No, I stared at the back of Travis’s head with hurt and despair.
Why does he sound so lost and broken?
“And I’m sorry. To your earlier confession. I’m going out with Judy and she’s the only girl I need.” He doesn’t stick around a second more. Turning around he grabs me by the hand and starts pulling me back towards the café. I take a peep behind at Tiara who didn’t look heartbroken but pissed off as she glared at me while biting her nails.
Travis and I sit back on our abandoned table, our drinks surely cold by now. We remain in silence. Travis had his palms clasped together and pressed to his lip, deep in thought. Our silence was so suffocating that even Harry perks a brow silently asking if everything was alright. I just shoo him off with a nod. I try to remain calm and wait for Travis to start talking and explaining to me what had just happened but he remains quiet. Now, I’m not the type of person who’s pushy and nosy. I give people their space. But Tiara’s words and Travis’s outburst kept gnawing at the back of my head.
“So, there is something you’ve been hiding from me.” I couldn’t keep silent any longer. With a sigh I sit up straight. And so does Travis. He removes his hands away from his lips and looks at me directly.
“There’s an actual reason you can’t go back to college even though you’ve been pretending this whole time I was the reason you couldn’t leave.” I didn’t mean to sound so harsh but my tone took over. At once I felt guilty as Travis’s stare turns to hurt.
“Judith, you are the reason why I don’t want to leave Apple Valley anymore. I swear.” His voice full of anguish and desperation. He grips my hand tight.
“But there is a reason for you to hate going back to college.”
Travis remained tightlipped as he hung his head down unable to look me in the eye anymore. This gesture made me feel hurt. I thought I knew all about him. I was so wrong.
“It’s not a big deal Judy.” He said trying to sound normal but his voice chipped.
“That’s fine. I really don’t want to force you into saying me something Travis.” I remove his hand from mine. “I don’t have to know every single thing about you.” I say with a broken smile. Yet some other girl knows about you much more than I do.
It wasn’t Travis’s fault. I mean I just entered into his life. We have been going out for such a short time, while Tiara must be someone who’s been with him for years. I can’t catch up to those years but the least I could wish for was for him to be open about himself to me. Was I asking for a lot? Was I going over my bounds?
I’m just dating the guy. So why does it hurt so much?
“Judy, please don’t be like this.” Travis whispered sounding broken. “you have every single right to ask me anything and everything.”
“Then tell me Travis. Stop hiding things from me. What happened that you’re so unwilling to go back there?”
Even after me pleading so much he remains quiet for a while. His hands I notice were sweaty. He clasped and unclasped them nervously. Travis pinned his lip in a straight line as he pondered over something inside his head. And then he spoke.
“I almost killed someone, Judith.”