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3. Not mean, but a womanizer with painted heart

The bell rang and the history class was over. I gathered my stuff and put them in my backpack, zipping it this time. When I got up from my desk, the hot new boy in school was standing in front of me, patiently waiting for me, preventing me to move.

“Um, you are making my personal space smaller.” I stated, without looking up at his face, because I knew it was too close.

“Yes, but we had an understanding... sort of.” He said, not moving one bit as he stretched his right hand for a shake. “Hi. I am Thomas Black.”

Oh, yeah? I didn’t know that. I guess he was really up to doing this from the beginning. Okay, let’s get this over with, so we can get on with our lives.

“Alice Stevens. Nice to meet you, mister I have two identities.” I said sarcastically and made a half step back to make an eye contact, it’s the only space I had.

“Hey, we are starting over. Don’t you be the mean one now. Aren’t you going to shake my hand?” He said as his smile dropped a bit.

“Who told you that I am nice? Maybe this is my normal behavior.” I grinned and placed my hand in his. He gently squeezed it and suddenly I felt so shy, I could not stay there any longer. I stole my hand back and moved past him, pushing him with my shoulder. “Bye, Thomas.” I said, not turning around, so he can’t see the redness on my cheeks that his touch created.

“Bye... and by the way, Alice?” He yelled after me.

I stopped, my face looking at the hall.

“I love your T-shirt.” He stated and I just went past the door and straight to the bathrooms.

I had Biology and English class with him, but we did not talk again. Good. There is nothing more to say. He had his thing fixed or whatever you call meeting a person for the first time... again.

At our lunch break I told Linda all about that famous boy, and she did not appear to be impressed one bit by him. That is why I love her! She is not like others, and I am not like others, so we are good together at being not like others.

“I wonder if you were the first person that he met at this place?” She gave voice to her thoughts, but it didn’t matter at all if it was me.

When I got to the gym, the dean was already there with two boys that I have seen before at art class. No other girls? I looked around and spotted one older girl talking to Miss Arthur, our art teacher. Sadly I also saw Thomas leaning by the swimming pool entrance. Detention time.

“There you are, Miss Stevens.” Dean Webster gestured to me to go closer to their group. “I am sure you know Adam and Peter. Over there is Daphne. She will lead the project... or let’s say help with the big questions. Turn to her for information, but know that Miss Arthur and I are always here for you.”

“Hi, all.” I said casually to the group of now six people.

Some answered me, some nodded, but Thomas only sent me wide pearl smile. I turned my attention to the instructions for what we must do and ignored the celebrity, looking intensely at me.

Once we knew what we have to do and got places assigned for painting, I was happy to start painting on a wall at the far end of the hall. I decided to listen to my dad and do the crows. Two more students came for detention and it was unwritten rule that those on detention must help with bringing the materials and stuff like that. Simple things that can’t mess with real art. One of the best things I heard today. Of course, I was on detention too, but it came after I was one of the artists, so I got to do my painting, instead of bringing the paint to others.

I was deep in concentration when a voice made me jump and I made a crow look like a black swan.

“So you are into painting?” The voice had said behind me.

“What the...damn God!” I yelled, coming back into my body.

“Sorry.” Thomas said and placed himself on the floor near my paint, crossing his legs under him.

“You say that a lot to me. Maybe just don’t do things to be sorry for?” I said, looking down at him.

“Sorry.” He said again and lifted his shoulders, realizing that he was apologizing once more.

“Oh, forget it. I will fix it.” I signed and started on damage control.

“So you are a painter who loves Disturbed. What else is there to know?” He asked, playing with a can of blue paint and a brush.

“Why do you care?” I asked, my response slower than usual. It’s how I am when I am deep into my painting.

“Maybe because I am testing a theory.”

“What theory?”

“Will you smile if I make you talk about the things you like.” He said with cheerful voice and I turned to look at him, grinning at me.

“Don’t you have anything better to do? I don’t know... maybe write a song or something?” I teased, but my lips lifted at the edges, so I turned back to the wall.

“Oh, come on!” He said and I heard him standing up.

“What?!” I asked and a second later was surprised to see him invading my space again by leaning to the wall a breath away.

“Paint me a heart.” He ordered with a cocky smile and one of his hands on the pocket of his black skinny jeans.

“What?!” I repeated, caught of guard by his sudden closeness.

“Paint me a heart.” His lips said as his blue eyes were piercing mine.

“Why would I paint you a heart?” I blinked, confused.

“Because you love me.” He stated with his wide smile.

“What?! I don’t love you.” I shook my head. What was he talking about?

“But you have a crush on me.”

“No, I don’t!” I almost yelled and I scared a look around, but no one cared.

“But you will!” Thomas countered, his gaze never leaving my face and I swear the air left the room.

I have never been in such situations and no matter how confident I act, I have to admit that I don’t know how to react to this. Thankful, for the first time ever I saw Steven as a savior. He just appeared in the hall five feet away from me, followed from his gang of brainless bodies.

“Steven!” I yelled to call for his attention.

He turned to me and the surprise was clear on his face. Even if we sit next to each other, we don’t talk. I never felt the need to find him. It was strange, but he said goodbye to his friends and came to me.

“Yeah?” He asked, stopping by my cans with paint.

“Um, I thought that... you might want to meet someone.” I lied, but it worked. “This is Thomas Black. You know him, right?”

“Oh, yeah! How are things, man?” Steven said and shook Thomas’s hand. “I’m Steven.”

“Nice to meet you.” The new boy answered, with a serious expression.

“I will be around if you need something.” My brother said, but I know he didn’t really mean it. He was selfish and just said what people say.

“Thanks, man.” Thomas gave a small smile, still leaning at the wall.

“I asked Linda for a ride. I wanted to let you know.” I told, but the truth is that my brother didn’t even care if I will not go with him right now to carpool with dad and Tina.

“O-okay.” He answered and I knew he was wondering why am I telling him stuff. “Bye now.”

With that he turned his wide back to us and shook his hair, still wet from the pool.

“So you have a stupid jock boyfriend, huh?” Thomas asked with the look that he had on his face yesterday outside the dean’s office.

“Why do you care?” I asked, trying not to imagine if Steven can be ever considered a boyfriend to me.

“Because you are mine.” Thomas said, leaning even more, so I can’t escape his eyes.

His breath brushed my face, leaving fresh mint scent. I raised my painted hand to prevent him from coming closer and his dark blue T-shirt got messed up. I jumped back with mixed feelings. I was sorry for destroying his shirt, amazed at how brave he is to come at me like that, and was trying hard to put needles in the wings of those crazy butterflies in my belly.

“I am so sorry. I just... you came... I tried. Damn, sorry!” I stuttered, waving my gloved hands around to help me organize my thoughts.

He looked at his shirt and pulled the cloth with two fingers to inspect it. Right in the middle of his chest was the black and white print of my hand. I think the feeling that prevailed in me was... terrified.

“Sorry? For giving me what I wanted?” He asked and looked at me again with his grin.

“What?!” I ask that a lot today.

“You painted me a heart.” He simply answered me, without a drop of anger. “You painted mine.”

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