I felt like I was living a Disney film
'Then you just subtract that.'
I stared at the page in front of me willing for it all to click into place and make sense but no, it still just looked like random numbers and symbols.
'I still don't get it.' I pouted at the boy next to me.
Jake had been unfortunate enough to have a free seat next to him when I first started here. I'd always struggled with maths but studied enough so that I got by but sweet baby Jesus was I not getting it now. The fact that I was still behind in this class didn't help either.
Thankfully the wonderful boy sat next to me had been patient enough to explain what was going on whenever I didn't understand something which was, if I was being honest, quite frequent.
He laughed when he saw my facial expression which made his big brown eyes turn an almond shape.
'The offer is still out for a tutor if you want one? What are you doing tonight?'
That was the other sweet thing. After my first day being sat next to him and the torture of feeling like the teacher was speaking Chinese to me, he'd offered to be my tutor. From the sounds of it he already had a busy enough schedule as it was, being on the (American) football team but he'd still offered.
'Thanks Jake and if I was you I'd take the offer back right now because the likelihood is I'll take you up on it, however I'm not free tonight.'
The bell rang to dismiss us for the day and in unison the whole class got up and starting packing our things away.
'No take backs, the offer stands.' He gave me a show stopping smile which for most girls, would probably make them melt.
I gathered my books and we exited the classroom together. Just as I was about to pull out my phone to message him I noticed Harrison leaning on a nearby locker waiting for me. He smiled when he saw me but then an unreadable expression passed over his face.
'So this is who your plans are with?' Jake said as he tensed by my side.
I looked at him with a puzzled expression not understanding why there was such a tone to his voice.
'No reason, just should've known is all. Anyway, see you tomorrow.'
He gave one last look to Harrison and then walked off in the opposite direction.
I furrowed my brows in confusion as he walked away but then walked over to where Harrison was stood.
'What did he want?' There it was, the same tone Jake had used.
'I sit next to him in Maths. He helps me when I don't understand what's going on. Don't you like him?'
A cold look crossed over his face before he looked down at me and his expression softened.
'He's just not my favourite person is all. Anyway, enough about him, are you ready to go?'
'Yes!' I replied excitedly. I'd been wondering where we were going all day. All I'd been told to bring was a flowy dress but he hadn't given me any clues to the place.
'Great, let's go then.' He placed an arm over my shoulders and directed me out of the school with his arm over to where his car was parked.
It tried my best to ignore the glances people were giving us as we walked past. It was something I had got a tad more used to over the last couple of weeks but it was still a little unnerving. With Harrison's arm draped over my shoulder I was even more aware of it.
'After you madam.' British Harrison spoke as he opened the passenger door for me.
'Why thank you.' I dropped my books onto the car floor and got comfy in the leather seat.
Soon enough we were on the road to the mystery location. Multiple times I asked again where we were going but still he wouldn't budge. Secretly, not that I would ever admit this to him, I liked it being a surprise. It added a level of excitement to wherever we were going.
'We never finished our game of 20 questions you know.' I stated as he pulled into a deserted long country road. Each side was lined with enormous bright green fir trees. I partially asked the question because I'd been thinking about it for the last couple of days but also to help calm the panic that was setting in. Memories started rushing back of another time when I'd looked out of a car window staring at a similar country road and giant lush trees. The only main differences were the company and the temperature outside. I could feel my heart rate rising and my palms going sweaty. I needed something to distract me from having flashbacks.
'We didn't did we? Go on shoot.' He quickly glanced in my direction to give me the go ahead before focusing back on the road. I was thankful for his caution.
I thought for a moment before coming up with my first question.
'Ok favourite type of music. Now this can be an artist, genre or song. Go.'
He smiled and reached out to press play on his car stereo.
'This is all that needs to be said.'
A familiar song starting playing through the sound system which made my eyes go wide.
'The Electric Youth!?'
'You know them?'
'Of course I know them! They're only one of the best bands of all time. I love their music.'
He chuckled at my over enthusiastic response but he was obviously impressed as his eyebrows shot up.
'Well I never, the girl has good taste in music as well. Favourite song of theirs?'
'That's hard. I do love their old stuff but their new album is just tune after tune. If I had to pick my current favourite it would be Ultraviolet, but it changes every week.'
I thought back to one day a couple years ago when I first discovered the band. I was playing the song top of the world at full volume when my sister came home. We both had very different tastes in music but this one time she was in a really good mood for some reason. She joined me jumping on my bed and sang at the top of her voice. She didn't know any of the words really but she just made up whatever. That was a good day.
'What other artists do you like to listen to?'
He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel to the song playing in the background.
'I also love the foo fighters, fall out boy, Billie Eilish.'
'I'm impressed. You're going to have to let me have a look through your playlists later.'
'Only if you let me look through yours.'
'Deal. My turn now. When did you start painting?'
I smiled softly as a flash of childhood memories washed over me.
'As far as I can remember I've always had a paint brush or pencil in my hand. We have these old Vhs recordings at home that show me when I was little. My sister would be there, centre of attention putting on a play for the whole family or singing, and I would be in the corner colouring quietly in my own little world. I guess I've always found it kind of therapeutic.'
'Do you take after you parents with that talent?'
'I don't actually know who I get it from. My mum was a creative type so I guess most likely from her side of the family. She was into musical theatre and singing. My dad however was the complete opposite. He didn't have a creative bone in his body but he always encouraged me for what he lacked. He used to call me his little artist.'
I can practically hear the next question he wanted to ask me. It's like I could hear his thoughts echoing through the air as if he was actually speaking. It was my turn to ask a question but I needed to let him get it off of his chest.
'You can ask you know.' I turned my attention from looking out of the window over to him. He was still tapping his fingers on the steering wheel yet his shoulders were tense. He remained quiet for a few seconds as if having the mental battle with himself about whether to ask or not but eventually he glanced over at me.
'Your Mum and Dad. They're no longer here anymore?' He stole another look at me before turning back to the road.
'They're not no.'
'And you have, had a sister?'
'She's gone too.' I managed to crack out. This was the part I hated. The silence that followed when the other person didn't know what to say. This is when I normally filled it with useless conversation but Harrison surprised me.
'I want you to know that whenever you're ready you can talk to me about it.'
No "I'm sorry for your loss" apology?
'When my grandad died for the longest time I didn't want to talk about it. People would wish their condolences but they never said the words that I wanted to hear, which was that they would be there for me when I was ready to talk. So that's what I wanted you to know. I do in the smallest way know what you're going through and I'm here to listen when you're ready to talk.'
I was stunned. No one had ever said this to me before, not in the way he meant anyway. I dreaded telling people not only because it was an uncomfortable conversation but also because they expected you to pour your heart out. Everyone wanted to be the therapist but didn't really want to hear what I had to say. This was different.
'Thank you Harrison.' I reached out to squeeze one of his hands before pulling away and turning back to the window.
I noticed as we continued driving water was glistening through the trees. I knew we weren't near the beach so at first I was confused. That was until we reached a clearing and a lake appeared in front of us.
Harrison parked the car and turned off the engine.
'It looks beautiful! And I definitely wasn't expecting this!'
'You haven't seen anything yet.' He gave me a mischievous smirk and opened the car door.
'It's a short walk from here so do you want to get changed in here whilst I go and set up the light balance for the camera?'
'Sounds good for me. I won't be long.'
We decided a flowy dress would be a good choice of outfit for these photos. I'd chosen a white long dress that I'd borrowed off of Taliah. It came down to my ankle but it had a slit up one leg and thin straps that went over my shoulders to hold it up. The fabric itself was a light linen so I thought it would be thin enough to show some light through it but not enough to show my underwear.
Also because of how loose it was and the style it was easy to put on in the car. I quickly took my top off and threw the dress over my head. Once I had it covering my waist it took my jeans off underneath it. I shoved my shoes back on so I could walk the distance to wherever Harrison wanted to shoot. My hair was already down so I just ran my fingers through it to remove any knots and then jumped out of the car.
'How's this?' I asked as I approached where Harrison was stood playing with the settings on his camera.
He glanced up at me taking his time to run his eyes over the dress before giving me an approving nod.
'It's perfect. Follow me.'
We walked through the trees to the shore of the lake. It was beautiful here. The trees were full of orange and red autumnal colours that contrasted beautifully with the warm glow of afternoon sun. As we reached the lake shore the sun glistened off of the ice blue water. The water was as calm as a mill pond with only the occasional ripple of a fly skimming over the top breaking the surface.
We walked a little longer, following the curved edge of the lake until we reached a structure perfectly balanced on the waters edge. Starting at the shore of the lake heading a few kilometres in was a wooded walkway, a banister made up of wooden poles secured each side and was decorated with winding spherical fairy lights. At the end was a circular dock covered by a hexagonal roof held in place by five wooden poles. What made it even more beautiful was the bold green ivy coating the body of the house. Vines hung down from the ceiling, decorated by small white buds.
'Wow.' Was all I managed to whisper out. I was rooted to the spot unable to tear my eyes away.
'I know. This place is used for wedding photos so much that they just decided to keep the lights up all the time. I couldn't believe it when I first found this place. It's so stupid to think I basically stumbled across this place one day when I was out for a walk with my family. This time of year is my favourite time to come here though because of the vibrant colours that go together so brilliantly.'
He was right. The scene in front of me literally reminded me of a painting. I could pinch myself because it didn't look real.
'So I pictured some shots of you walking up the board walk so I can get the long distance shot of the whole pavilion with the trees and lake in the distance. Then maybe we can take some under the pavilion itself?'
'It sounds perfect. Just tell me where you want me.'
We spent some time taking photos of just how he'd described. He stayed close to the shore line whilst I slowly walked along the wooden walkway.
I could tell without even seeing the photos that they'd come out amazing. This was too beautiful of a place for me to ruin the pictures with my awkward self. If I looked bad in them he could always edit me out I guess.
After about 15minutes he called out that he had enough shots of this set up and that we should move into the pavilion itself. I gladly made my way up to the hexagonal dock, running my fingers along the banister as I went. I didn't realise I could feel like I was in a fairy-tale until I discovered the ivy-covered canopy that had woven its way up the underside of the roof. White flowers and vines hung down, some low enough to tickle the top of my head. I reached up to gently pull a flower covered vine down to my face, sniffing the sweet scent of the flower as it got close enough to my nostrils. My eyes fluttered closed as the calmness of the nature surrounding me enclosed in on me. I focused in on the soft sounds of water lapping underneath my feet, bird chirping off in the distance and a light clicking noise. I opened my eyes once I realised what said noise was and turned to smile at the boy behind me.
'Stalker.' I joked playfully.
'I have to be a stalker otherwise I wouldn't get such good candid shots of you.'
'Yeah yeah. Go on. Position me.' I cringed when my words hit my own ears. Was this me trying to flirt with him? If it was, I was failing badly.
He didn't seem to notice my inner voices arguing with themselves as he gave me some directions as to where he thought the light would be good. I ended up posing at the edge of one straight ledge of the hexagon. This was an area that had no railing which I guess had been used as a place for people to aboard boats. I switched between sitting on the floor to standing up and leaning my back against one of the supporting pillars. Harrison clicked away with the camera taking multiple photos and giving some input if he thought I need to move or angle myself slightly.
I was getting to a point when I didn't have any ideas left and was starting to feel myself seizing up when Harrison's voice broke through the calming silence.
'So I wondered, only if you don't mind, if I were to join you in a couple photos.'
'Of course, whatever you think would look good.' I replied taken back.
'How will that work taking the photos though?'
'Well I've got my tripod so all I need to do it set it on the timer.'
'Ok sure let's do it.'
He spent five or so minutes setting up the position of the tripod to get the right angle before giving me the thumbs up.
'Ok I'm going to set the timer.'
I nodded for him to go ahead, which he did and then walked over to where I was stood.
'Do you mind if I move you closer to me?' His eyes looked down to meet mine making my heart miss a beat.
'No I don't mind.' I managed to stutter out.
In an instant his warm hands brushed over the skin on my arms making goosebumps rush to the surface. He pulled me gently at my waist so that my torso was flushed to his. He moved one of my arms up so that it was draped up to his shoulder with my hand resting on the back of his neck and then wrapped his arm around my waist with his hand placed on the small of my back. His other hand was entwined in mine. We were so close I could feel the rising and falling of his chest as he breathed. His head was bend down close to mine and I knew his eyes were scanning my face but I just couldn't bring myself to look up at him. I was scared of what I'd do if I did. The pounding of my heart rate was loud in my ears I was surprised I heard the shutter going off.
'I'm just going to check and reset the camera.' He whispered before he let me go.
I couldn't do anything but give him a nervous nod.
'Calm the fuck down Eve!' I whisper pep talked to myself when I knew he was too focused to hear. I took in some deep breaths ready for him to walk back over.
'It's almost a perfect shot it just needs a few adjustments. Ready?'
'Yeah.' I croaked out as he grew closer to me again.
I practically felt like putty in his arms. I couldn't help but admit to myself how good it felt to be this close to him. Also, how right it felt. It's like his body shape was meant for and complimented mine.
He pulled my arms around his waist this time mimicking the same with one of his around mine. The other however was doing something that sped my heartbeat back up again. His warm hand reached under my chin to tilt my head upwards. Still I tried to keep my eyes to the floor.
'Evie.' He whispered as his hand moved for my chin over my cheek and wove his fingers in my hair.
I tried to resist but my eyes eventually looked up to meet his emerald green ones. Then that was it, it was like I was in a trance. My body no longer felt like my own and time felt like it stood still. I broke my eyes away from his long enough to notice the splattering of freckles over the bridge of his nose and slight stubble on his jaw line. Then they did the unthinkable. As if acting with a mind of their own they looked down to his soft plump lips. From then on all I could think about was kissing him. I wanted to feel his on my own and see if they fit as well and our bodies seemed to. I looked back up to his eyes to find a sort of urgency in them. If I wasn't mistaken it seemed like he was leaning in closer.
His own eyes left mine to look at my lips and then I realised he definitely was moving in. We were almost inches away from making contact. My breathing felt heavy and my heart felt like it was going to burst out of my rib cage. Just before his lips could brush over mine the shutter from the camera went off making me half jump out of my skin and rip away from Harrison. What made it 10x worse was me tripping over my own feet and plummeting to the floor.
He reached out his arms to try and catch me but it was too late. My ass had made contact with the floor. I'd never been more hopeful than now that this structure would be a strong one because I don't know what I would've done if I'd broken through the wooden flooring and fallen into the water below. I'd die with embarrassment that's what I would've done.
There was three seconds of dead silence where neither knew what to do before we made eye contact and dissolved into laughter.
I was laughing so hard I couldn't breath and Harrison was on the floor next to me belly laughing.
'Ow' was the only sound I managed to croak out before laughing again. That would be one hell of a bruise tomorrow.
'Are you ok?' He asked when he managed to contain himself. He crawled over to me and rubbed the palm of his hands on my arms like he was trying to warm me up.
'Just about.' I noticed the corner of his eyes were wet from laughing. I reached out and wiped a tear away.
'You're crying?! It's me that's practically broken her coccyx!'
'I'm sorry but that was so fucking funny. See it as sympathy tears.'
'Yeah yeah whatever you say. Help me?'
His hands wove through mine and he pulled me up off of the floor.
'Can you walk?' He asked whilst trying to hold back a laugh.
'Good thing we're finished. Come on let's get you home.'
We packed up everything and then headed back to the car. The sun was just starting to dip over the horizon making the sky a mix of purples and reds. It had cooled down slightly but there was still a warmth in the air.
The drive home went quickly. We chatted about school and football so before I knew it, we were pulling into the driveway.
'Did you want to come in? Lindsay said she's made enough dinner if you want to stay?' I could practically hear the hopefulness in my own voice. I wanted him to come in as I didn't want the evening to end.
'Sure, I'll stay.'
'Great.' I replied hoping I didn't sound too enthusiastic. He unbuckled his seatbelt and jumped out of the car to follow me up to the house.
I called out when we came through the front door and I followed Lindsay's voice to the kitchen.
'Harrison's staying for dinner.' I said as I found Lindsay stood by the stove stirring a bubbling pot.
Lindsay greeted her nephew by wrapping him up in a hug. If you couldn't tell Lindsay and Erika we're sisters by looks you could by their need to hug everyone.
'Great. Ok dinners not going to be too much longer but I'll call you when it's ready.'
We quickly grabbed some drinks before heading up to my room. I forget Harrison has been to this house thousands of times before. He was walking up the stairs before I could even tell him to follow me.
'Do I finally get the see the famous Eve's bedroom?' He asked mimicking me from the other day.
'You're about to see all of my secrets.' I replied before dramatically opening my bedroom door.
I watched as his face brightened and then fell.
'Where's all the spy stuff then? Or the family Crown Jewels?'
'Those are kept in my secret hiding place. And if you ever find them, I'll have to kill you.'
'What a shame, this isn't going to be as fun as I thought it would be.' He said flopping himself down on my bed.
'I still can't believe those were rumours about me. I gotta give it to them though, they were imaginative.'
'Imaginative and stupid. I mean really could they not have come up with something that didn't involve the fact that you're British. I mean for all we know you could be from a completely different country but just do the accent pretty well.'
'Trust me hunny there is nothing fake about this accent.'
I went over to my chest of draws and pulled out a baggy T-shirt and some shorts to change into to. Then I went into my en-suite, stripped off Taliah's dress and threw on my clean clothes. I also checked out how the bruise on my ass was getting along and let's just say it was progressing well.
I walked back into my bedroom to find Harrison poking around my desk.
'Having fun?' I asked the sheepish looking boy.
'I was just intrigued.' If I wasn't mistaken, I thought I could see a hint of a blush rising onto his cheeks.
'Being nosey more like.' I joked as I playfully nudged him on the shoulder.
'Don't let me stop you. Go ahead.'
'Really?' His eyebrows flew up as he watched me walk over to sit on my bed.
'Yes really.' I replied crossing my legs underneath me. 'Go wild. Except my underwear draw, that's off limits.' I said cutting him off mid smirk.
He pretended to huff but started looking around my room anyway. He opened up draws, looked through my wardrobe and shuffled through everything on my desk. It was hysterical to see how much fun he was having looking through a girls bedroom. I mean really, what do boys expect to find?
I don't know why I said that, of course they want to find thongs and bras. Now that I think about it, it probably would be fun to have free rein over a guys room. Saying that though I know how gross they can be so maybe I'll give that a miss.
'You read some really girly shit.' He said as he pulled out books from a pile on my desk.
'News flash I am a girl. And they're not all cliché there are some educational books in there too. The one I'm reading at the moment is about Greek mythology.'
'Ok ok I take my statement back. Some of what you read is girly shit.'
'You know I just think you're jealous. You can borrow them anytime you like Harrison.' I walked over to my desk and took the book out of his hand.
'You done now?'
'Can you blame me for trying to get a glimpse inside this brain of yours?' He started lightly tapping me on the forehead until I ducked out of the way.
'I'm just intrigued as to why you want to know?'
We were so close to each other now I practically whispered my last response.
'You really don't know?' He whispered back taking the last possible step forward.
I stared back at him with what I could guess was a confused look on my face. Before I could ask any more questions, I heard Lindsay's voice calling us from the bottom of the stairs.
'Ahhh my favourite time of the day.' He stepped back again turning the static air around us back to calmness.
'What, when you're about to eat?'
'Precisely. I'm a growing boy after all.' He backed out of my room rubbing his stomach leaving me rooted to the spot.
I was doing it again. All I could think about was kissing him. I'd wanted to do it the whole time he was looking through my things. Like the fact he wanted to get to know me was so endearing that I wanted to kiss his face off.
Jesus what was this boy doing to me??