When Lukas walks into Dr. Willow’s class, he looks defeated. Naomi hasn’t known him long, but she’s known him long enough to know that he isn’t himself. “Everything ok Lukas?”
He looks at her with sad eyes, but as though he realized he was slipping, he puts a smile back on his face. “Si, bueno.” He confirms he’s good and proceeds to take out his books.
If Nai was going to say anything more she didn’t get the chance, as Dr. Willow arrived and promptly handed out a pop quiz. Through the entire lecture he was quiet and reserved. Once it was over, he began to pack up his things.
“Lukas, you sure you’re ok?” She asks with a bit more concern.
He pauses and then turns to her with a grin. “Miss Daniels, are you perhaps, worried about me?”
She crosses her arms and turns her chin up. “Why would I possibly be worried about you Mr. Meyer? I was simply being polite.” She tries to sound perfectly snooty, but after a moment, her face cracks and she starts to laugh.
It’s infectious and soon Lukas starts to laugh too. “Ah, I do feel better now. Thank you Naomi. I guess I was feeling a bit low, but I’m better now.”
She smiles with satisfaction. “I’m glad I could be of help, but what got you so down in only a few hours?”
He nearly considers coming clean right then and there, but decides it’d be too risky to do so out in the open. “Do you have some time before you head home? How about I treat you to a smoothie at the Blend Shack? They are to die for.”
“Oh, that’s the new place just outside campus, right? I’ve heard a lot of great reviews about it. I’d like to, but maybe another time?” She can see the disappointment grow on his face. “It’s not that I don’t want to hang out with you!” She shouts suddenly, feeling the need to clarify. However, she shrinks down once she notices the stares of her classmates, causing her to become embarrassed.
In nearly a whisper now, she continues. “If it was any other weekend, I would love to go with you, but I can’t today.”
“Why’s that, if I may ask? Do you have plans with your family or some other engagement?”
She doesn’t know why, but she’s been hesitant to mention Adam since they’ve met. When they talk, it’s always been about class or general things. Somehow, family life never came up, nor did relationships, as though both were avoiding the subject. However, she doesn’t see any reason to hide it, they are friends after all.
“No, I’m spending it with my boyfriend.” She averts her eyes, like she just said something shameful, though she knows it’s not. When he doesn’t respond right away, Nai glances at him and notices a slight sadness, but not much surprise, which strikes her as a little odd. “Is it that hard to believe I have a boyfriend? I mean, I know I’m not very desirable, but I consider myself a good girlfriend.”
He looks at her like he might cry. “Naomi...you have no idea just how desirable you are.” He gently places his hand on her arm. “If you were mine, you’d never allow yourself to doubt it again.”
Nai is entranced by his eyes, which gaze at her with a gentle desire and she’s not sure how to feel about it. She pulls back slightly, and it seems he realizes he’s overstepped, as he retracts his hand with a guilty expression. She can see he’s apologetic and so decides not to press it. Instead she says, “In any case, I’ve got plans.”
He sighs. “Well, I guess there’s no helping it then.” They finish packing their bags at the same time. “Can I at least walk you to your car? I would love to see the fancy ride that’s been the buzz around campus.” He gives her a teasing grin.
She laughs lightly, the friendly mood restored. “I’d say yes, but I didn’t drive my car today. My mother dropped me off. My boyfriend comes to pick me up every Friday of the weekends we plan to be together, so I don’t drive since I can’t leave my car here all that time.” She can see he’s a bit disappointed. “However, I’d love for you to escort me to the concourse. We can talk while I wait, as he usually doesn’t arrive until half after.” She can see his face light up again as he gives her an affirming nod.
“Sounds like a plan to me.” He tosses his bag on his shoulder and gestures towards the door. “Ladies first.”
“Wow, what a gentleman you are.” She teases him, but goes along with it, sliding her bag onto her arm and making her way for the door. However, just as they are prepared to exit, they are called back by a familiar chilling voice.
“Miss Daniels, a moment please.” They turn to find Dr. Willow looking at them expectantly.
Together they approach her cautiously, unsure of what to expect. “Yes Dr. Willow? Did you need something from me?”
“Yes, I won’t keep you long. I simply wanted to get your answer on the offer Jeffrey, and I gave to you. Today is the 1st, which is the deadline we set. So, are you willing to be the official tutor to our courses or not? We have other applicants, but if you agree, it’s yours. However, we won’t beg you and you are free to decline.” She gets straight to the point.
Nai had completely forgotten today was the deadline and thought she’d have more time to decide. She realizes it’s now or never and she can’t put it off any longer. She looks at Lukas, who simply smiles. He’s already given his thoughts on the matter, so looking to him for guidance won’t prove useful for her. She looks at Dr. Willow, who seems impatient, waiting for her answer. She sighs in resignation and finally answers, “Ok, I accept the position. I’m sorry for making you wait so long ma’am.”
She sees Dr. Willow crack some semblance of a smile, that’s a first for her. “I think you’ve made a wise decision. Not only will you be recognized as an institutional scholar worthy of teaching others relevant subject matter, but you’ll get a nice payout for your time. I suppose that won’t mean much considering your background, but even the well to do should learn the value of earning their own money by their own efforts.” Nai almost wants to feel offended, but knows she meant no harm and isn’t exactly wrong. “I’ll inform Jeffrey on your behalf. With that, I release you to your weekend. Do enjoy yourselves...but not too much.”
She seems to glance at Lukas as she says this with a discrete smirk forming on her lips. Nai blushes, feeling that she’s insinuating something might be happening between her and Lukas, but she couldn’t be more wrong. “I’ll be spending the weekend with my boyfriend, so I will. Lukas has plans too, I’m sure.”
She seems to catch Nai’s drift and raises a brow in slight curiosity but says nothing more. It’s not her place nor her business to infringe on the relations of her students. “I see. Well, enjoy your weekend, whatever your plans may be.” She nods at the pair and then exits the room.
Nai and Lukas look at each other, a bit confused as to what that exchange was, but they share a laugh, finding it oddly funny. They then continue on their way and soon make it to an area overlooking the large campus quad.
“So, does your boyfriend go to university elsewhere or...?” Lukas finally starts up a conversation.
“No, he graduated a year ago from Denver University with a business degree. He was awarded an athletic scholarship to play baseball there and he’s now a proud rookie on the Colorado Rockies baseball team. He’s not well known yet, which is why we’ve been able to enjoy a relatively normal relationship, but he’s certain that this is going to be his year. I think so too.”
“Wow, that’s pretty cool. Not too many can say they’re dating a professional athlete. Are you prepared for the day that he does become well known? Any normalcy you’ve had will go right out the window once the baseball fans get wind of him. Like all the big-name players, they’ll want to know everything about his life, and he’ll find himself under scrutiny of the paparazzi and you will too by extension. Are you ready for the exposure?”
Nai thinks about what he’s saying. She’d never really considered that fact. She’s always been happy enough being by his side and having his love. However, thinking about it now, she’s not sure she’d be pleased to share him with the world. All the fans who’ll idolize him, all the press that will form around him and worst of all, she thinks about all the women that’ll surely go crazy over him. He’s very charismatic and charming and has an allure that most women are unlikely to turn away from. If the day came that he finally grew tired of her; she’d likely break beyond repair.
“Naomi?” Lukas pulls her back to reality. “Sorry if I said anything out of line, I was just putting it into perspective. If you love him, then I imagine you’ll be able to handle anything that comes your way. It’s just something to think about.”
“I hadn’t thought about it, but you’re right. It will definitely be an adjustment and I can’t say I’m thrilled about the idea, but I’ll stand by him regardless. I love him like crazy, so no matter what comes our way, as long as I have him, I’ll be fine.”
“I see.” He smiles weakly. “Well, then there’s nothing left to say.” There’s a moment of silence, but then he says, “Promise me that when you become his wife, you won’t forget about me. I know I have no right to ask this of you and you don’t know much about me, but I’m still asking anyway.”
“Well, I’m not becoming anyone’s wife any time soon, so let’s get that straight.” She speaks bluntly, making her point clear.
Lukas chuckles lightly. “Wow, I can see you’re pretty passionate about that; noted. I’m pleased to hear that, but you still intend to marry him one day, don’t you?”
“Well...yes I suppose I will. I mean, I don’t see myself ever loving anyone else like I do him, or anyone loving me like he does me. I won’t find anyone better at least; of this I’m sure.”
He gives her a defeated smile. “There really is no hope for me then, is there? You won’t even consider me an option?”
She gives him a sorrowful look. She’s smart enough to understand that indirectly, he’s admitting his feelings for her. She thinks she’s probably known for a while, but she never wanted to think about it too much, because then she’d have to admit that she has some feelings for him too. However, she will not act on them, because she’s already chosen Adam, and she won’t jeopardize her secure and happy relationship for a crush.
“Listen, I love Adam, but that doesn’t mean I can’t share a little of my heart with you Lukas. I do care for you, but it can never go beyond friendship, because my heart’s already chosen its other half. That said, I do consider you my friend, my only friend in fact. All my life, I’ve struggled to make connections with others and kept myself at a distance, and so others distanced themselves from me. But you forced your way past my defenses, tolerated my anti-social behavior and never gave up on building a relationship. So I promise you Lukas, I’ll never forget you, no matter where I may go or how things end up.”
She places her hand gently against his shoulder, offering her sincere feelings. He looks at her hand endearingly and places his hand over hers. “I want to believe that’s true Naomi. I really do hope that you won’t forget me...esta vez.” He looks at her with pained eyes and while she doesn’t know what his final words meant, she can’t help but feel that they held some significance, but it’s lost on her.
Suddenly, they’re interrupted by loud honking. Nai looks over to find that Adam is there waiting for her, glaring at them from the seat of his jeep. She glances at her watch and confirms he’s ten minutes earlier than normal and looking at her phone, there’s no messages either. Why didn’t he text me like always? She wonders to herself. Realizing that he likely just saw her in a compromised position; regardless of the fact it was completely innocent, she decides to quickly take her leave. “Well, my ride is here.”
Lukas watches as she returns her bag to her shoulder and prepares to leave. “Well, that was short lived, but I’m glad we could talk a bit. Enjoy your weekend Naomi. See you Monday.”
“Yup, see you then Lukas. Have a good weekend too.” She waves and promptly makes her way to Adam’s jeep and climbs up.
Adam makes a conscious effort to pull her to him and kiss her deeply, directly in view of Lukas, who watches with an icy glare. While Nai is momentarily disoriented from his sudden display of affection, Adam shoots a spiteful glare right back at him and then promptly puts the car in gear and drives off.
Lukas stands there another moment, holding his hand against the place where she’d touched him. “Maybe this time, I’ll be able to save you....” He turns away, whispering a silent prayer.