Chapter 6: Foreign smiles
The soft hum of Luca's sports car was the only sound to be heard for miles. Just seconds ago Luca was rushing me out of the forest making me trip over mossy trunks and scattered branches hanging off of the evergreen pine trees.
The person that called him clearly was rushing him to leave because the guy next to me was going miles over the speed limit. Luca's jaw was clenched and his slender, silver ringed fingers wrapped tightly around the wheel. He was hurrying his way out of the vacant forest and down the mountain in complete silence, it wasn't a comfortable silence either, it was chilling and eery making goosebumps rise over my clothed arms.
I thought it could have been his mom asking him to come home but the other voice ringing through the phone was deep and husky, it occurred to me that it could have been his dad but I didn't even know if he was in the picture because Luca heavily avoided the subject. Whoever was on the line sounded far from familiar and that made me all the more curious as to who he talked to, and what they talked about.
I sneakily glanced at Luca and saw his hazel eyes focused on the narrow pathway leading us back home, his gaze remained neutral but deep down I knew that Luca was beyond pissed. He brought one hand down to the middle console to switched gears as we got closer to town making him slow down slightly.
When he rested his hand upwards on the gear I took the opportunity to slide my smaller hands into his much larger one, I intertwined our fingers together and felt the cold metal of his rings rub against my fingertips. His tense posture and hard gaze quickly diminished when he felt my hand grasp his. He glanced over at me and then took a look at our hands before returning the gesture by giving my hand a quick squeeze interlacing our fingers together.
Occasionally throughout the ride he would untangle our hands to shift gears but he would quickly clutch my hand after.
I watched the trees breeze past me and glanced out the window to look at the icy snow capped mountain in the distance. Some trees were in the mist of turning into orange and yellow rather than the typical green, leaves scattered across the road making the trees sparse and branches more noticeable. We made our way out of the forest and got closer to my house in complete silence.
Luca pulled into my gravel driveway while the tires crunches against the rocks. He slowed to a stop before parking inaudibly and facing his entire body towards me.
I knew he told me not to worry about what he needed to do but that didn't diminish the curiosity bubbling through me. I had so many questions for him but I was too scared to ask. Would he lash out for trying to pry my way into his business?
A loud sigh pushed its way past his rosy lips before he ran his right hand through his fluffy hair. The moon shined through the car casting a sinister glow over Luca's face.
"I got to go, princesa." He mumbled out still staring into my chocolate brown eyes. The small pout plastered on my face must have been evident because Luca's honey eyes softened even more. "I'll make it up to you."
"Promise?" I questioned letting a small smile break onto my face. I was disappointed that our day was ended a bit too early but I would get over it. Who could blame me, I wanted to cherish the time I spent with Luca because this guy was totally unpredictable and could crush our friendship in seconds if he wished to do so.
"I promise...here- just follow my lead." He huskily whispered bringing my hand up to interlace our pinkies, he stuck out his thumb while our pinkies were still intertwined and kissed the pad of his thumb while raising one eyebrow at me. I got the hint and kissed the pad of my thumb at the same time he kissed his. We both pulled back and brought out our two thumbs to touch together, sealing the promise.
It took me a minute to understand but I knew straight away what he wanted me to do. When I was younger my dad taught me the meaning of pinky promises and even showed me how some people would kiss their thumbs to fully seal the promise. Not a lot of people did it so I was pleasantly surprised when Luca tried to show me how.
My cheeks reddened when I realized how close our faces were, I looked up at him while he stared into my ink black eyes and glanced at my lips. He then slowly pulled away while roughly clearing his throat. "Now if I break the promise you get to do whatever punishment you want to me." He dryly chucked.
I let out a soft giggle before pulling the sleeves of his hoodie towards my hands to provide me some warmth. "You better not break it, Romano." I reached the car door handles and pushed open the door stepping out onto the small rocks. I grabbed onto the top of the door and bent down to glance at Luca's form sitting in his seat. "Thank you for today, it really meant a lot to me."
His eyes softened when I subtly mentioned him comforting me earlier today. I was a complete mess and he still decided to stick with me to take my mind off of things, I couldn't have been more grateful. His company really helped me forget about my dad not being able to make it home.
"Of course." He mumbled out. I gave him a small sincere smile and bid him a goodbye but right before I was about to shut the door he leaned his body across the car and grasped my wrist. "Call me if you need me for anything, okay?" His words held more meaning then he put out.
"I'll call you...be safe, Luca." I softly pulled away from his grasp and shut the car door. I walked up to the front steps and had calm down the urge to jump up and down in joy. I heard his car peeling out of the driveway and I gave his retreating form a wave before shutting my front door behind me.
I rest my hand against my rapidly beating heart and looked up at the elevated ceiling with a beaming smile.
I was getting closer to breaking down this bad boy.
I shrieked loudly before whipping my head around to look at the person who just shouted in my ear nearly making go deaf, the ringing in my head only increased by a tenfold. When I turned I was greeted by the lanky mop of blonde hair sloppily smiling at me.
I scowled glaring at Alex standing in front of me with a shit eating grin, he was so not being nice today. It's wasn't fair for him to always be sneaking up and scaring me, it's been going on all morning and it was certainly getting progressively worse. I scoffed and turned back around to pull out the rest of my oversized textbooks. What's up with schools adding so many pages that we hardly even get through?
"I'm sorry for scaring you...again-" he snickered and went to beg for forgiveness "-hug?" Alex questioned with a pout opening his arms wide. I sighed before wrapping my arms around his body which I got a small squeeze in return, I couldn't resist hugs and he knew that. I stepped away from our embrace to get the rest of my books in my locker, he stood waiting next to me so he could walk me to the class had we together.
I learned quickly that I had almost every single one of my classes with the boys, the only period I didn't have anyone in was gym. With my revelation I also learned that Luca and I sadly only had one class together, major bummer.
"You should come hang out with us after school." He stated flashing me a smirk while leaning the side of his body against the locker next to me.
"What are you guys doing?" I questioned curiously, I really wanted to hang out with them again, especially Luca. I haven't seen him since he dropped me off on Saturday but he's been making sure to text me constantly throughout the day and even occasionally sending me funny memes he sees on his feed. I knew he was at school today and he wanted me to meet up with him during lunch so he could take me to this cafe up the street. It was only second period and I had two more classes before I could see him, I didn't want to admit it but I really missed being around him.
"We're going down to the cove and cliff diving. It's probably gonna be the last sunny day before the cold really comes in." I shut my locker softly and walked besides Alex. I tried to ignore the obvious staring from other teens that lingered in the halls.
Ever since I got dropped off at school with the boys everyone has been wondering who the hell I was. I went from being unnoticed to the talk of the school in week, and sadly the talk about me wasn't good. I overheard a group of girls saying that I was getting passed around between the boys and they would drop me as soon as they got bored, they even went out of their way to label me a some kind of toy. It hurt a lot, I knew the boys weren't trying to get into my pants but I didn't like people viewing at me like that.
"I'll need to go home and pick up my bathing suit but I'm down to go." Alex opened the classroom door for me as we walked to our seats. I gently sat down while Alex made sure to make a huge commotion just to mess around with the people around us, I realized the guy really loved attention. "Who's driving?"
"Luca said he wanted to drive separately so I'm guessing you're going with him, I'll be taking my Jeep with Theo." He popped the mint gum in his mouth and rapidly tapped his pencil against the desk. He used the metal rack under the seat in front of him to rest his feet. He bounced them up in down shaking the desk that was currently occupied by someone and when Alex started making more motion with his feet the guy sharply turned around to scowl at him.
Oh this was not gonna he good.
Alex returned his signature hard gaze. "You got a fucking problem, buddy?" He spit out sitting up to his full height in his seat. I guess the guy didn't realize one of the scariest guys in school sat behind him because the scowl was wiped off in seconds leaving a terrified one. "That's what I thought, now get the hell out of my face." He growled leaving the poor guy running to the other side of the classroom to snag an empty desk in the back corner.
He glared at the guy for a couple more seconds before turning his head to me with his previous scowl replaced with a dimpled smirk. "As I was saying, kitten, you drive with Luca today." I gave the guy that just experienced Alex's scary demeanor a small smile before turning to answer Alex.
"Stop being so mean, the poor looks like he's gonna cry." I pouted eyeing the guy again who had his head hung down staring at the wooden plated table.
"Gotta live up to my reputation, kitten." He gave me a sideways glance while the teacher started talking about the current essay we needed to write this week. "Now do your work, cutie, we can't have you falling behind in your classes."
He gave me another dimpled smile with a thumbs up before ignoring me for the beginning of class. He must have gotten bored halfway through because he started to throw paper airplanes on my desk with mediocre drawings of our teacher and even the other boys.
There was two tall stick figures, one that was bulging with super exaggerated muscles and scribbled black hair and then another with a downwards smile plastered on the face but no other distinguishing features, I knew that was meant to be Luca.
When Alex passed the lined paper to me I drew out the best representation of Alex that I could, in reality it was just a stick figure with two harshly colored black eyes and a beanie. I passed it back to him where he drew a very small figure in the middle of the three boys, drawing out my soft curls into a ponytail tied up with a ribbon and put a smile full of teeth on the face. In conclusion, it choked me up to see myself included into a group with them, I was finally getting friends and I couldn't be more grateful for having them. Before he could notice my change in mood I flashed him the biggest smile I could muster up.
The rest of my classes went insanely slow, I sat around anxiously waiting for lunch to come around. I stared at the clock that seemed to be going at a deliberate pace, the only thing I could do was glare at the circle in anticipation while the end of class neared.
Currently Theo was behind me playing with the soft curls that ran down my back and twirling the strands with his fingers distractedly while listening to the teacher going on about what we need this following week.
I swatted his hand away when he tugged on a curl.
"Would you stop that." I harshly whispered when he decided to pull my hair again. He just sat there grinning like a mad man. "I'm trying to listen to what he's saying."
"No, you're distracted about something. What's on your mind, angel?" He whispered before continuing combing his fingers through my thick, brown locks. I frowned, I was just anxious about seeing a certain someone but I was also excited to see how they would act when they saw the paper I slipped into their locker before class. Just because we were friends now doesn't mean I'm gonna stop my tradition.
Before I could answer him the bell rang and I quickly pushed out of my seat flying out door. I heard Theo softly laugh behind me but he didn't bother to try to catch up because Alex was waiting outside of class for him. Alex only raised a brow at my grin reaching up to my ears. I waved to the two of them before heading to his locker.
When I turned the corner sharply I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw Luca staring expectingly at me with a hard gaze holding the envelope in between his fingers. I slowly walked up to him not bothering to hide my beaming smile from creeping onto my face, he only rolled his eyes sucking his bottom lip into his mouth. I stood in front of him before glancing around the empty hall and poking him in the chest with my finger.
"So did you read it yet?" I questioned excitedly. He raised a confused brow at my tone, to him it was just another normal letter.
"I was waiting for you to get here." He mumbled before rubbing his eyes tiredly.
That's when I really took a good look at him, he had dark purple circles curved under the expanse of his eye, and dark hair was a disheveled curly mess. His t-shirt was crinkled like he randomly threw it on without looking. I gazed at his face again and realized how stressed out Luca looked.
"I'll open it now, princesa." I gave him a hopeful smile, if he was worrying about something this for sure would do the trick to cheer him up.
He gently ripped open the envelope before taking out the laminated tickets that laid inside, his tired look slowly morphed into one of shock as he read the print.
His jaw hung open while he continued reading over the fine print on the small two pieces of paper. "You fucking didn't." He gasped out finally looking at me.
It was silent for a moment that felt like years and he just stared at me with a blank expression like always. I began to grow nervous over the gift that I got him, I wondered if he would think it was too much or too soon but my thoughts slowly drifted away when such a foreign sound hummed in my ears. It sounded like music blessing my hearing, it was an angelic melody that I've never heard before.
Right in front of me Luca stood beaming with the biggest smile etched onto his face while letting out a small laugh. He took his large hand and brought a clutched fist against his mouth to dilute his giggles.
I stood staring up at him in disbelief, Luca was finally smiling and it nearly made me have a god damn heart attack because of how beautiful he looked.
I was crushed into his strong arms before being lifted up and twirled around in a circle, he squeezed me so tight that I couldn't even breathe. He didn't let me go when my feet finally settled on the floor instead he just held me making sure to cut off my flow of air. My mind was hazy whenever he held me close to him, let alone being in close proximity of this man. It felt like I was on cloud nine whenever I was around him and he was the person fueling my high.
"Holy shit-thank you baby, thank you." Luca spluttered pulling back away from me to gaze at the tickets in awe.
"You don't have to say anything. I know you told me how you used to love basketball and never had time to watch or play anymore, I saw that there was a game playing an hour away and the tickets were cheap so I bought them. There's two so you can take someone with you, maybe Alex or Theo." I rambled avoiding eye contact with him.
When he took me to the forest he shared to me his love for the sport, he used to play all the time with the boys but as he grew older he became busy and had no more time doing the one thing he loved.
I was in fact extremely nervous, I didn't want him to think too much about what I got him. It was my way of saying thank you for him and his friends being nice to me. "Do you like it?" I asked softly finally looking into those soft pools of honey.
"Are you fucking serious!? I love it!" He grabbed my wrist and pulled me closer to his chest. "I really don't deserve you." He mumbled gazing down at me with another smile that made my breath get caught in my throat.
I smiled up at him which he expectedly grinned back. "I can't believe me buying you some cheap tickets would be the way to make you finally smile." I let out an airy laugh, it would have saved me a lot of time if I knew sooner.
"I'm not smiling because you bought me tickets to a game." He grumbled shaking his head. At his statement my eyebrows furrowed together, why else would he be smiling? I literally just got him tickets to a game he so desperately wanted to go to.
"Then why are you smiling?" I asked confused.
"I'm smiling because you did this for me." He started rubbing those soothing circles onto my skin, his cold silver rings wrapped around his fingers dang chills throughout my body.
"I'm smiling because of you, princesa."