Chapter 15: We look like hobos on the Brooklyn Bridge.
I am not a difficult woman at all. I am just a strong woman who knows her worth.
I woke up sweating profusely. The sheets were twisted around me and my comforter was bunched in my fist. A quick look at the digital clock on my desk proved that it was 4:30 on a lovely Tuesday morning.
I parted the curtains of my window and peeked out. The sky was completely clear after a whole week of constant rains. Birds were chirping on the trees.
There was no reason for me to wake up so suddenly.
Then a violent spike of pain went through my head. I gasped clutching at my head. Leaning my head against the cool window I tried to calm my erratic breathing.
When several minutes passed without any other violent spasm of pain, I gathered my running kit and walked out of the house.
I ran for a few minutes before another stab of pain pierced through my skull. I stopped in the middle of the road. A slow throbbing started at the back of my head.
The headache was bearable but the consecutive anxiety that it caused was not. I stayed down staring at the asphalt and started singing the ‘F.R.I.E.N.D.S’ theme song under my breath.
“Is it a routine for you to sit in the middle of the road every morning on Tuesdays?” A deep voice asked. I could have recognized it anywhere.
“Max, is it a routine for you to take this road every time you run just to get a chance to meet me?” I asked him with a huge grin.
Before he could say something I continued, “because there is a perfectly beautiful road leading to the gym from your building but you still run on this road just to get a chance to meet me.”
I stood on shaky legs and started running.
Max caught up with me very soon, “I don’t take this route to meet you.”
I gave him a sidelong glance and scoffed, ” whatever lets you sleep at night, princess.”
He groaned in frustration and my grin just widened. A jogging couple passed us with their iPods stuck in their ears.
I took a deep breath and tried to pump the cardio to a whole new level and started belting out the lyrics to Taylor Swift’s 22, “It feels like a perfect night to dress up like hipsters. And make fun of our exes, uh uh uh uh.”
" With all this sweat we look like hobos,” Max muttered.
“It feels like a perfect night for breakfast at midnight
To fall in love with strangers uh uh uh uh.” I continued singing loudly.
" I am sure you didn’t even have your morning breakfast and strangers can be ax murderers,” Max muttered yet again.
“Yeah...We’re happy free confused and lonely at the same time.” I sang loudly attracting the attention of almost everyone on Brooklyn bridge.
“We are sweaty dirty and panting.” He said and then considered his words, ” well that sounded dirty.” He mumbled.
" Is that what you dream about me every night, apple tart?” I asked him while wiggling my eyebrows suggestively. He snorted and I threw my head back and laughed.
“It’s miserable and magical oh yeah. Tonight’s the night when we forget about the deadlines, it’s time uh oh.” I continued singing.
“I don’t know about magical but it is embarrassing.” He muttered as two girls in a sports bra and tight shorts giggled at my antics and eyed max.
“I don’t know about you but I’m feeling 22.”
“You are 17.”
“Everything will be alright if you keep me next to you.”
“I don’t think so.”
“You don’t know about me, but I bet you want to.”
" I so do not want to.”
“Everything will be alright, if we just keep dancing like we’re 22, 22.”
“I hope you don’t dance,” Max said.
I stopped right in my tracks and he turned back to me. I did the moonwalk while doing the tide with my arms. Max smacked his palm on his face. And the same two girls again passed by us giggling and bending low for Max.
“This is so embarrassing.” He almost said to himself.
“Admit it. You love me.” I told him as I felt another headache ebbing closer.
“No, I don’t. You are stupid and annoying and immature.” He rambled on. immature.
My headache started with a renewed fervor and I barely managed not to crouch in front of him. Immature. He called me immature?! I had barely ever accepted help from anyone even when I was a baby and this idiot was calling me immature.
I stopped completely and max continued on. I stood on the side and looked down at the water willing my head to stop aching. He said it like a practised statement. As if he knew what maturity constitued for.
“Crystal?” Max called out about 15 feet away from me.
I took a deep breath and started running. I was trying my best to deal with the cards I had been given. How I wish i had teh luxury of being immature.
When I reached him I managed to mutter, “sometimes the crap you say really does hurt.”
After that, I continued running while max prodded me to elaborate on my previous comment. But I only gave him silence.
“Yolo, Garrett,” I called out to the guard outside the gym building.
" Yolo Crystal.” He waved back at me.
“So you can talk to the guard but not me?” Max asked.
“Don’t worry Max I will never annoy you again,” I told him firmly and walked to my kickboxing classes as max gave me an incredulous look.
If he hated me that bad then I won’t force myself on him.
Going for my early school detention was just inconvenient. It meant I had to stay with max for a whole hour. When I reached the library max was already studying math; or rather had his pen poised over the paper glaring holes at it.
I took a seat farthest from max...which wasn’t much far since the table was meant for only six people. I saw Max’s head snap up when I sat down.
I took out my books and started studying. Max quietly stared at me.
“What? No stupid greetings today?” He asked.
I raised my eyebrows while reading the textbook and marking a line on it. Max reached out with a pen and tapped it against my book. I scrunched my nose and jerked the book towards my lap.
So max stood up and walked to the seat next to me, "Hey Crystal, are you angry at me?”
“No kidding Sherlock,” I muttered.
“Well...why are you angry at me?” He asked innocently.
The audacity! I unbraided my hair and then braided it again, neatly tucking all the stray messy strands back. He just gazed at me all the while. I didn’t even give him a second glance and continued studying.
“So you are not going to say anything?” max asked.
I kept quiet.
“You will not annoy me all day long?”
I pressed my lips together and huffed impatiently.
“A whole day without you biting my ears off...”
I did not wait for Max to finish his sentence.
I took my notebooks and pencil pouch and went and sat with James and his friends, the scholarship students, and discussed SAT maths with them.
Max ran out quickly and I slowly made my way to my classes trying very hard to not scowl at everyone. I was stowing my books before the third period, totally lost in my thoughts when people surrounded me. Well more like Gale, Sam and Damon surrounded me.
“Crystal! Did you miss me?” Gale asked.
“Of course I did! You are like toilet paper when having diarrhea.” I told him.
Sam and Damon laughed at Gale.
Sam then looped an arm around my shoulders and smirked at me, “what say? You, me, in the janitor’s closet?”
“Will you be able to do anything in there?” I asked him genuinely curious.
His smirk morphed into a grin, “I am talented.”
“No you are not, it just proves the fact that you are extremely small,” I told him while ducking so that his arm fell off my shoulder.
Gale and Damon roared with laughter while Sam sulked.
“It’s okay Sam. Everyone is not perfect.” I told him in mock reassurance.
“Believe me Crystal the moment you see me your eyes will pop out,” Sam said while recovering his grin.
“Oh my god, it’s that ugly?” I asked him. And they again started laughing.
“See this is the reason why she is my best friend.” Gale proclaimed proudly.
The guys got into an amusing discussion over that in which Damon blatantly said that Gale was the Taylor Swift in Connelly academy.
“Whatever it is, Crystal is an intelligent girl and she won’t just fall for your stupid face, Sam,” Damon said.
“Look who’s talking,” Gale muttered.
“What did you say?” Damon asked.
" Look, max! Hey Max!” Gale called out to Max.
I quickly turned on my heels and shoved the rest of my books into my bag before making a hasty exit. Max came to our small gathering and I gave him my most ferocious bitch face before sauntering off to my next class; which was unfortunately chemistry.
I shifted my seat to the farthest end of the table and turned to talk to Grace and Emma. Max entered the class, looked at my seat far away from his, and strode up to me. Grace and Emma just stared at him in awe and I had a sudden urge to punch their gaping jaws shut.
“Crystal talk to me,” Max told evenly.
“So then my mom bought me a coach sling bag,” I told Grace and Emma. Emma started listening to me but Grace was still staring at Max.
“At least tell me what I did wrong. You are just avoiding me. No one knows why you are angry at me. I even asked.” Max sighed.
Wow, he ‘even’ asked, that would have been such a painstaking task for him. When I continued talking about my shopping trip, max sighed again and sat on his seat. Well, he was quick to accept defeat.
I was just about to do my mental victory dance when my seat quickly moved backward.
“Whoa!” I exclaimed.
When I looked back, max had an amused smile on his face and he stopped pulling my chair with just one hand!
Damn him! I stood up, grabbed my chair, and placed it on the corner of the table. Max stood up and dragged his chair to sit right beside me. Then he placed his elbow on the table and stared at me. I knew from the silence emanating in the class that everyone was watching us. We were hard to ignore since our table was right in front of the class.
And then, April entered. For almost a whole week I had felt bad for her. But now looking at her, I was sure she enjoyed her vacation. She entered the class flanked by her minions and screeched to an abrupt halt when she saw us.
Max’s thigh was brushing my leg and he was still staring at me. April looked ready to murder someone- me.
“Ms. Hawkins, I would be very pleased if you take your seat.” Mr. James said.
April gave me a murderous look before going to sit beside her partner.
" Mr.wester and Ms. Winget, it would be better if you tried to occupy the rest of the table too”.
Max looked triumphant when he pushed his chair to the center of the table and I sulked while locating my chair beside him.
Class started and Max kept poking me with his pencil, prodding for information.
" Mr. James?” April asked.
“Does she even know what’s happening in the class?” Emma muttered softly from my right.
I turned in my seat to look at her and she was smirking at me. Of course, revenge.
“Mr. James after the last week's accident where Crystal burned down the whole lab, I don’t think she should sit on the first bench.”
" Why not Ms. Hawkins?” Mr. James asked crossly.
" Because she could burn the place down again. I am ready to change my seat with her.” April said cheerfully.
Change seats with April= staying away from Max.
“Okay.” I jumped up and stuffed my books into my bag.
“What okay? Not okay.” Max said grabbing my arm and pulling me down on my seat.
" Mr. James, I will take care that such an accident won’t occur again. If she went to the back seat and caused a fire then it would be very difficult to control it.” Max finished.
" No sir, I will take April’s seat,” I told my Chem teacher and started moving towards April.
“Ms. Winget, are you disobeying me?” He asked.
Oh dammit! The obedience card! I slowly sunk back to my chair while muttering an apology. Just couldn’t get rid of Max!
Max gave me a triumphant look.
“I thought I was stupid and annoying and immature.” I hissed at him.
He leaned back from me, "that’s the reason you are angry...”
And now he knows!
“You know I didn’t mean it.” He whispered.
I ignored him throughout the class while he stole glances at me and tried everything to grab my attention.
After the bell rang Max followed me to my next class before backing away when he came to know that it was Mrs. Sheikh’s AP English class. But he put Gale on duty to prod me for information.
I practically ran to the cafeteria for lunch break. When I saw Beth stuffing her face and Meghan and Violet bickering I smiled in relief. I took my lunch and sat beside Beth.
“Fvo!” She greeted with a mouthful of BLT.
I greeted her back.
Meghan turned to me, "are you and max together?”
“Yes!” Violet squealed.
“Ferishy?” Beth asked and Meghan clapped her hands.
“We are not together. Actually, we are very, very apart. I am not even talking to him.” I told them while shoving food in my mouth.
“Oh, oh, it’s a love triangle! I love triangles.” Violet said jumping in her seat.
I scrunched my nose up, "there are no geometric love shapes in my life.”
April sat two tables away from me directly facing me. The girls were discussing ship names and I was trying my best not to laugh at them.
“Oh! look! look. ”Meghan said as she looked behind my shoulder.
I saw April straightening herself and looking extremely pleased. As the seconds passed, Violet and Meghan overreacted and Beth tried to grab my food. Someone dragged a chair from the nearest table and sat beside me.
The cafeteria went silent and I slowly turned in my seat to look at the warm body beside me. Wrong word; hot body. Max was leaning towards me and fixing me with an intense stare.
“You.” I hissed and turned to my food.
"I said I am sorry. Please talk crystal.” Max whined and propped his forearms on the table placing his head on it.
I gave him my best bitch face. He looked at me with puppy dog eyes. Where the hell was this all coming from...?
“The silence is so loud. It feels too empty without you annoying me.” He said. I looked away.
“Crystal, please I am sorry. I take back whatever I said.”
“Crystal. Forgive him.” Meghan whispered not so subtly.
“Dude, let it go,” Beth said.
Violet started pouting. Great! My own friends were taking his side.
" I won’t forgive ‘him’ because I am immature,” I said vehemently.
“Who the fuck told you that? You are more mature than you should be.” Beth said incredulously. I gave max a pointed look.
" Crystal. Sorry. You can’t get angry at something I said in the morning. I was barely awake.” He told me.
I sighed and looked up to see April boiling with anger. She stood up abruptly and stalked towards us.
“Max, I think you should sit with people more like you. Not with....such people.” She looked at us with disgust.
“April, I am busy.” He told her while looking at me.
“Why would you want to be with her?” She asked looking down at me with disgust.
" Because she is the most perfect girl I have ever met.” He told her abruptly.
April looked as if someone had slapped her. Meghan and Violet squealed and Beth wolf-whistled. I knew he just did that to get my forgiveness.
I stood up from my seat and dumped my leftover food. I did not want to stay around anymore.
The rest of the day was Max-free. Well at least until study hour.
I was walking in a hallway when someone grabbed me from behind. Before my self-defense kicked in Max turned me so we were face to face.
I was pressed to him. His body was all hard muscles and warmth. His cologne made me feel hotter. My whole body was responding. This was not supposed to happen.
" Crystal what should I do?” He asked.
The whole corridor was empty. I just wanted to melt into him and kiss...NO stop it, Crystal!!!
He leaned forward and his warm breath tickled my ears, “I will do anything you want.” He huskily whispered.
My whole body lit up and heat rushed to my core. Wrong. So wrong. I gathered myself and schooled my features to disgust.
“Don’t touch me without my permission!” I hissed at him angrily.
If he touched me one more time I would end up melting for him. Just like all the other girls he used.
He looked at me in shock as I made my way out of the school.
Study hour be damned! I wanted a place to sit and rethink.
Max was too dangerous for me.
Thanks for reading this.
Your comments motivate me to write more. So please do comment!;)
And please click on the little heart!