"You look beautiful."
I looked up in the mirror at Mae's voice. She was standing behind me, dressed up in a long A-line brown summer dress and sandals to match the whole outfit. Her platinum blonde hair was pulled up in a pony tail, highlighting her delicate face and soft features. She looked really pretty.
"Are you talking about yourself?" I chuckled. Mae has always been the attractive one in the circle. She is the one with looks which are always on fire with her good fashionable taste.
Where as me? I was wearing a pale blue summer dress which reached upto my thigh. It had noodle strap design, low neck line and flowed down my waist. My hair was still damp after the shower so I pulled them up in a messy bun. I was wearing white sneakers and a light make up to even out my dry skin.
Minimal as always.
She just shook her head at my lack of appreciation for myself. Its not that, but I become really awkward when someone complements me. I am not denying that I do have looks but I naturally dodge any statement that may be thrown my way with a motive of praising me. I am a dork, remember?
"I kissed Val." She said and I stopped with my hands around my neck as I tried to do the clasp of the chain I always wear. It was a simple platinum chain with a small diamond in the front. It was my favourite piece of jewellery from my mother.
"What?" I tried to look shocked.
Honestly I am more surprised that she has waited this long to make a move on him. Its just not Mae.
"You suck Stella!" She threw her hands in the air as I chuckled realising she caught my obviousness in my tone. I followed her back into my room as she flopped on my bed with her head in her hands.
"What happened Mae?" I sat beside her turning serious. She looked troubled and I have never seen her like this when it comes to boys.
She shook her head looking away and I knew it was her failed attempt at hiding her tears from me. I waited for her to calm down patiently and squeezed her hand to let her know that I was here and she can talk to me about whatever it is that is making her sad.
"Actually, it was him who kissed me first and Stells," she turned to me and had this really confused look on her face. "It felt so good, like it was all that I have ever wanted in my life."
I frowned not forgetting to mentally cringe at her cheesy description.
"Then what is the problem?" I asked not able to comprehend the situation after all I had no experience when it came to feelings. It was always an area of Mae's expertise, when it came to boy troubles.
She got up and paced around the room while I sat on the bed watching her as she covered the length of my room.
"Its scary." She said after a long pause. "I have only known him for weeks yet it feels like we have known each other since forever. He is always on my mind."
I have known Mae my whole life and never once have I ever seen her so worked up, especially about a guy. Her dating life has been wild ever since high school but she never admitted to being nervous with any of those boys. So if its Val who makes her feel some emotion she has never known then yes its definitely scary but I do not think its bad in anyway.
"Isn't it what they say that time has nothing to do with what you feel?" I asked and she stared at me with her lower lip jutted out and I could see she was trying to process my words.
"But what if I am just rushing into it? I do not want to scare him away." She sighed and sat down beside me again.
"Honey, if you scared him then he would not have kissed you." I said like it was not obvious enough. I have seen the way he looks at her. Its enough of a declaration that he likes her but I am not going to tell Mae that and give her some ideas that may later turn her overly confident. "All I am saying is that you are seeing him in a bit, talk it out."
"You are right Stells. Its better than to wonder about it all day." She said and smiled at me and we hugged it out. "I'll see you there."
I nodded and she left when Valentino came to pick her up.
My phone buzzed and I saw a message from Charles.
Waiting for you.
I looked up and out of the window but his room was empty and I realised he must be ready and waiting for me down stairs. It was a warm evening so I did not take a jacket. I plugged my phone out of the charger and put it in the small crossbody bag with my wallet and sling it over my shoulder while heading out of the apartment. I locked the front door securely and then made my way out of the building.
My eyes immediately found him. He was leaning against his bike with his hands crossed over across his chest looking in the other direction. He had a far away expression on his face like he was engrossed in his own thoughts. So I took my time to check him out. He was wearing dark jeans and a plain white T-shirt with long sleeves rolled up to his elbows showing off his strong arms and the whole outfit was complemented by his white high top sneakers.
I took out my phone and clicked his picture and noticed his hair that was as usual a mess atop his head. He was a pleasant sight for the eyes.
I brushed my dress and straightened myself before approaching him.
Why am I acting like this all of a sudden?
"Hey." I smiled when he looked in my direction. His eyes started from my toe and came all the way up to meet my eyes as he shamelessly took his time to check me out and I could see the appreciation in his face, it was evident in his eyes.
"You look hideous." He finally said and I rolled my eyes. He grinned and pushed away from his bike. He came close and I frowned ever so slightly when my heart lurched upon feeling the contact of his hand as it went into my hair and he undid the clutch that was holding my bun in the place.
I swatted his hand away realising what he did. All my hair came down and fell across my shoulder in a mess that was hard to tame since I had tied them up when they were still wet and now I had curly hair.
He grabbed my hand when I tried to pull them in a ponytail.
"Don't." He brushed aside a few tendrils from my face and grinned. "You look more hideous with your hair open, especially when you have curls."
"Is that your way to appreciate my awesomeness because it sucks." I said sticking my tongue out at him.
He smirked and shook his head.
"Immaturity keeps me young unlike you who is springing grey hair on his head." I said mustering up a deep elderly voice like I was giving out an advice worth a million euros.
"I am not popping grey hair." He said touching his hair and I laughed.
"See you just don't get my humour. Its elite." I shook my head at him in disappointment.
He dished out his dead pan look while getting on his bike with me behind him. I put on my helmet and held him tightly with my arms circling around his waist.
"Some of these days I am gonna steal away your bike." I said loudly over the noise of wind and felt his stomach rumble as he laughed at my sudden thoughts.
I just loved it so much.
"If you take this baby then you gotta take me too." He said and I could almost picture his smug face as I closed my eyes. The feeling of wind gushing and hitting my face was refreshing.
"Hmm I shall think about your offer." I joked and brushed off his comment, not overthinking about it. I just wanted to enjoy the moment.
We made it quickly to the place where the whole festival was going on in full spring. I could hear music all the way to the place where Charles parked his bike. He grabbed my hand and laced his fingers through mine. I tried not to feel uncomfortable but with the thoughts that were coming into my mind from his actions, it was hard. His large hand was contrasting, compared to my small and bony fingers and it was giving me a very strange sense of warmness as he walked with me matching his steps side by side.
As we neared towards the music and cheering that was becoming loud with every step we took, I realised the whole festival was organised into the confinements of a long street. I looked at Charles in confusion.
"Its always like this." He pulled my hand beckoning me to follow him as we entered into the jam of people merrily laughing and chatting at the stalls that were lining along the street on both the sides. I looked up and there were helium balloons flying in sky with occasional confetti being spread by the volunteers dressed in costumes over the people that walked past them. There were couples, new and old, small kids followed by their parents around the stalls, high school sweethearts walking with their hands attached, group of friends having their time of life. Everyone was swinging in the merry wave of festival vibe.
The whole place was lit up in fairy lights and street lamps that gave the place its vintage charm. I could smell the aroma of some tasty dishes as we walked past the food section. There were many kinds of booths that had some fun activities for visitors.
"This is stunning!" I exclaimed.
The place had such a bewitching aesthetic appeal to it that I could not help but drown in its delightful state.
"Come." Charles pulled me through the crowd towards a picture booth. He dropped two cents in the money cart and the boy handling the booth pulled back the curtain for us to go in. It was a very small space and had seating arrangement for just one person. I was about to walk out when Charles sat down on the small bench and pulled me in his lap.
My eyes widened and the first flash went off startling me.
He grinned at me and since I was in a good mood, I let his sly tactics slide away and grinned back. The second flash went off.
I turned around so that we both were facing the camera now as Charles hugged me from behind while we smiled widely at the camera.
We came out of the booth laughing and the boy handed over two copies of polaroid strips to us. We looked at ourselves in the picture and my heart melted at how handsome and carefree he looked in those pictures.
The first picture showed my surprised face as I sat in Charles's lap while he was flashing his infamous smirk at me. In second picture, we were both grinning at each other and when I looked at the third one, that weird feeling from earlier came back to me again.
Charles had his arms around me in the photo while we both flashed our smiles at camera. It was almost like I could still feel his arms wrapped around me. It was strange how I almost felt sad that he was not hugging me anymore.
Pull yourself together Stella.
"You like 'em?"
"I love them." I said smiling and took one from Charles and put it safely in my bag.
And I walked away from him to make sure he did not see my blush.
Fun fact : the festival Charles and Stella go to is actually a modified version of one I attended while I was on a trip with my friends.
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