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Chapter 2: Youth

Spring 2014

Ria couldn't help but look at her face again in the mirror. Today is a very special day for her. Her first day on her final Senior year in Brentwood Academy has finally come. She grabbed a pink crystal hairpin and carefully pin it on her hair to create a more feminine look. She smiled. Perfect.

Maria Karin S. Cortez

She is already a fourth year senior yet she looks rather young if one would say. The reason for that is because unfortunately, she passed two accelerations this year making her directly jumped to her current year. At the age of 16,she is already a senior student. In simple words, she can be considered a genius.

"Ria! Come down here already and eat your breakfast. You still have to go to school." That was her mom---Rossana Cortez

"I know,Mom. Thalia isn't even yet up. I don't need to hurry."

"You don't need to mind your sister waking up. You should go first since you have an early class in the morning." Her mother just looked at her once and returned to the kitchen. Her mother must be going to prepare another set of breakfast again. Thaila,her only sister, is a picky eater.

Ria's phone rang and she saw that it was Cedrix,her bestfriend."Hey, are you ready? We'll arrive there any minute now. You better not make me wait!"

Her eyes widened."O-of course! I'm ready. I have prepared early today. Wait... I'll just get my bag and see you outside our gate." She quickly grabbed her bag and sprinted outside the house.

"Hey..Senior Ria. Should I show you some respect now that you're one year ahead of me,huh?" Rix said teasingly. She glared at him.

"What are still doing there? Let's go." Their almost bickering was stopped by a deep baritone voice of a gentle man coming inside the car. Ria can see the person wearing Brentwood's senior student's uniform. She quickly went inside the car and smiled at the person who is currently looking at some notes on his hands.

"Hi,Alex! We're on the same section this year. I'm so excited. Are your lessons hard in the past?" Ria excitedly said. The man looked at her once and then back to his notes again.

"If you study well, then it wouldn't be a problem."

Ria's eyes brightened and said,"Hmm.You are right!"

Rix who just got inside can't help but butt in,"Oh please, Maria Karin, are you really asking my brother that? I even think your only problem would be how to spend your boring days ahead. You're the kind of person who doesn't even need to study.Hmmp! My poor brain feel so attacked right now!"

She just laughed at Rix. While on the way to the academy,Ria can helped but cast glances at him.

Alexander Kerr.

The Prince of Brentwood. Talented in both music and arts and the most sought after male of their school.

She has never been thankful to be born a Cortez. Their family we're a close family friend of the Kerrs giving Ria the opportunity to see this man from time to time. It was also the reason why they picked her up today. The Kerr matriach is fond of her and her sister so she told her children to take care of them. One thing is going to school together.

During parties,family gatherings, and dinners she wouldn't skip her chance to admire this gentleman. He was an epitome of perfection. Both the master of beauty and the sword as they said. He could be anyone's dream man!

Ria wasn't attracted to him first because of his stunning looks though. She was rather interested with the man's gentle expressions on some other unexpected occasions she met him.

She still remembered one time when she witnessed Alex helped an injured man on the street. Another time was when he gave food to starving child. These we're some of the moments captured by her. He was like a silent helper anyone who needed help on the road. Cold, unapproachable but actually kind inside.

Thankfully, she was a fanatic of using camera that time and used to carry one with her all the time. She was able to capture those unseen side of this pokerfaced man.

She was in a dazed when the man suddenly turned to her. She blushed and to cover up for her shyness she immediately said,"I'm not yet quite familiar with the Seniors building. Can I just go along with you?".

Woah,that was close!

"Okay." Despite the short reply,the little girl can' t helped but scream mentally. He talked to her!

Not long after, they arrive at the entrance of the school. Rix got off first and said his goodbyes as he is on a different classroom building from them. Ria quickly followed Alexander's pace who is effortlessly dashing forward with large strides. She was huffing as she run to keep up with him. Finally, they arrived in their own room.

The teacher introduced her to the class before they went for a short orientation. As expected, her classmates we're definitely shocked when they knew she was an accelerated student and two years younger than their age. She just laughed it off.


"Hey, you are Ria right? I'm Hanna. From the same class as you." The girl said to her offering a hand for a shake. Hanna looks kind with her delicate face but there is confidence in her words.

She accepted her hands."Ria. Nice to meet you,Hanna."

After shaking hands with the girl, she turned to looked at the nearby court she was watching earlier. Laughters of male students playing basketball could even be heard on the second floor of the building they're in. It was a good place for her current sightseeing.

"You know that Kerr guy?,"Hanna suddenly asked biting on a sandwich and sipping on a juice.

"Uhm. Yeah. Family friend." Ria said as a matter of factly. She looked again at the nearby court. She could clearly see Alex from this view. It wasn't very hare since the man already stands out among the crowd.

"But you know.. I heard that Kerr has a girlfriend. Some says it is rumor though since he isn't seen around with a girl in school. But it wouldn't ve be hard to believe he has one,too." Hanna said as if recalling something.

"What?! That's not true. He isn't with anybody. If he is then I should be the first one to know. I know him very well." Ria strongly denied giving the other person a confused expression.

"Alright, he isn't. Is that fine? Why don't you just come with me to the cafeteria.Yes, that's a good idea."

She have yet to give a response when Hanna dragged him away to the cafeteria. She insisted on buying some snacks. They talked for a bit and became friends. They exchanged phone numbers too.

Afternoon classes resumed.Ria chosed a seat near the window. She glanced outside and saw a familiar figure. It was her sister Thalia walking leisurely with a guy in the school's garden. Since her classroom is located on the second floor building, it was very clear to see people down from here. She continued to observe but was interrupted when her name was suddenly mentioned.

"Miss Cortez. Are you listening? Can you please answer Exercise No. 8 page 5 of your book." The teacher asked her with a tone of warning in her voice. She must be calling her name for a while now and she didn't hear her. Ria turned to the problem then looked back to the teacher. She took a deep breath and started speaking.

"The solution, if any, will be the value of x in the point(s) of intersection. The graph of the right side of the equation is the set of points where the value of y equals zero. It is just the x-axis. We then look to see where the graph of f(x) crosses the x-axis. The graph only appears to the right of x=4. This is consistent with our finding that the domain of the original equation is the set of real numbers greater than 4. You can note from the graph that f(x) crosses the x-axis at about 5.1797. This means that the equation has one real solution at x=5.1797." She explained exhaustedly as she answered the equation on the book.

Everyone in class turned quite and the teacher laughed funnily and said,"That is....correct. You can sit down,Miss Cortez. Okay class so again...." The teacher continued her lessons and didn't pay attention to her anymore.

She looked again at the direction of the garden. Her sister wasn't there anymore.

Class is over.

She texted her sister to meet near the entrance so they could go home together. This time she was already with Cedrix and she's a little bit annoyed as he is again mumbling things non-stop.

"Hey,Ria. Tell me the truth. What made you decide to accelerate to two levels up once in a row? You could have done that earlier. But you directly jumped to the last Senior year this year. Oh man, I can imagine their head-cracking lessons. I don't even wanna think about it!" He voiced out exaggeratedly.

"I'm not you." She simply said. He face-palmed and rebutted,"Someone hold me right now. I think I'm gonna hit a girl."

Ria just laughed and tiptoed to pinch his ears."Oh really. I'm close with Aunt Romeia but I still don't know how painful it is whenever she spanks butts."

"N-n-no! Aww it hurts. Hey! You're threatening me with my mother's spank? That's.....not fair." His voice turned meek with his last sentence. Ria burst out laughing. What a good weapon against this blabby!

They reach the entrance of the school and there, they saw both Alex and Thalia waiting in the wide van with the driver.

"Hey, you're already here. Ben, we can go now." Rix told the driver as we all got inside.

Ria looked at her sister. She looks quiet today than the usual. She asked,"Lia, earlier I think I saw you in the garden with....."

She hadn't finished her words when Thalia turned to stop her."It wasn't me. I'm in class the whole time. Hey,why don't we stop by for a moment in your house today,Alex? I miss Auntie."

"Hmm good idea. I think mom is baking cookies again. We should try it while we're there!" Rix replied when Alex didn't say anything. He is at it again--- his precious notes.

Ria just turned quietly. She definitely saw her earlier but her sister denied it. She even successfully changed the topic.

Just a few minutes, they arrived at the Kerr Mansion. It's a few blocks away from their own house. The gate opened and the car went to stop in the entrance of the big main door. An elegant woman came out with a smiling face and welcomed them.

"Oh there you are kids. Maria and Thalia, you are both so beautiful dear. Aiya, you are all grown ups!" The boys mother quickly went to hug the sisters.

"Hey,mom! Are we really your kids?! I m-mean your sons not kids. Why are you hugging them first?"Rix said and pulled her mom for a hug too.

"Girls,look at this Cedrix! You are really a kid. I miss these girls and I see you everyday anyway. It wont hurt to ignore you for a bit." His mother jokingly hit him on the arms.

The two girls just laughed and the matriach invited them in. Truly, the woman is baking cookies and they are almost done. They decided to wait on the living room instead. But since they are all familiar with the house, they all went into their own things and toured the place as they pleased.

Ria stopped on her tracks when she passed by a big painting in a hallway. It was Alexander in a maroon formal suit. His hair was arranged neatly,his brows were fine and the usual seriousness is present on his face. She smiled.This painting must be from one of his first piano performances. He is a talented pianist and many times have been invited to perform in several theaters in the country at a young age.

"Ria.... You're here." Mrs. Kerr said to her when she saw her looking intently at the painting. She continued,"This is during one of the most unforgettable performance Al had. He was deeply acknowledge after this performance."

"I saw it. It was breathtaking." She looked back dreamily remembering that time. She isn't yet into him that time but she can't deny that she was impressed with his talent.

"When are you planning to tell him?",the older woman said to Ria mysteriously.

"Tell who....?" Her eyes widened. It can't be! Does she know?

"Dear, take your time and if you need help. I'm just here. Okay?" She felt a pat on her shoulder and the woman went away leaving her dumbfounded.

What was that?

"What are you doing here. The cookies are ready." A faint voice sounded from her back. It was him!

"O-okay! Then I-Im going!" She stuttered but quickly steadied her foot and calmly step here way outside.

Alex stopped for a moment and looked to his left. He stared at his own painting then he looked back at the direction of the girl walking away.

'How long has she been here?',he pondered.

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