Woman's Resolve to stay Single

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Chapter 16 | Meeting Again

Elizabeth continued to sit through the entire game, losing her natural excitement before. Though she continued on cheering each time they made a good play or a goal, she couldn’t react as well because of how coincidental the whole scenario was. It filled every nook of her thoughts.

She tried to smile when Hayden would look her way to wonder how she was. She didn’t hide the discomfort very well.

Hoping to be considerate, he hadn’t asked what was wrong, knowing it might be uncomfortable. He just continued to say words that would encourage her to enjoy the game like he was.

After a few more rounds, Elizabeth practically gobbled up all the snacks. It had helped, since little by little she was loosening up again. So Hayden didn’t mind the slowly emptying reserve of food beside him.

“How are you? You seem... off.” He asked, for he couldn’t help himself any longer.

“I’m alright, might be the food.” She casually answered and smiled.

“Would you like to go to the restroom?”

“No, it’s okay. No need.”

They continued to focus on the game in front of them it was almost going to end, and the scores were in a draw. So the heat all around the stadium was heavy and everyone had their fingers crossed. No other sound was heard other than the grunts of layers in the field trying their best to get a hold of the ball.

With a final clutch in time, Mark strikes along shot to the goal. Everyone had held their breaths. The goal keeper’s eyes were trained on it, but it slightly curved and just as he tried to jump to it, it was only centimeters away from his hand.

The ball was in!

And the people supporting the team went wild. Cheers, drums, and trumpets sounded all throughout. Even Elizabeth forgot the discomfort for a while as she saw that amazing shot and jumped up from her seat to shout in happiness. That strike amazed both of them. It was simply unbelievable.

The time turned to zero, and their team won the round of 16 overall in the two legs.

“They’re going to quarter finals!” Elizabeth exclaimed. Hayden looked at her, happy she was finally out of it and back to how she was before.

“Yes! Whhooooooooo!!!” Hayden shouted. The joy couldn’t be contained. He then remembered, ” El, we should go to Hale after the game and congratulate him. That was such a good clutch.”

Elizabeth turned towards the excited Hayden after hearing his words, “We shouldn’t he might be busy with press and maybe his family will meet him.” She nervously replied, trying to get out of the situation.

“No, we should go. He told me he wanted to meet the one I was bringing to the game. We gotta’ thank him for the tickets, El.”

Elizabeth sighed in defeat. She knew she couldn’t do anything about the excitement Hayden had. Honestly, she would absolutely agree if it wasn’t Mark Hale, the man in subject. So she smiled and said, “Okay.”

I think he won’t remember me, so let’s just act it coy.

Just as the game officially ended. The pictures were taken, hands were shaken, and from her view, they shrouded Mark in hugs from his teammates and a couple of other people he didn’t know. Medals were worn and cheers were louder than ever. Elizabeth was nervous about what Hayden was about to bring her into, but she already promised herself that she wouldn’t back down.

Soon after, the stands were slowly emptying and players were still down at the court talking with their families and friends. Hayden then pulled her out of the stands themselves and head to the center of the field. They ran the entire way there. She saw the excitement and happiness in Hayden’s eyes. She was happy too about their win, but under her circumstances, she could only force herself to smile.

They then got close to the field opening. She could saw smiling Mark’s figure talking with someone on his phone. Walking across the trimmed, lush field. They dodged all the other players and made their way straight to Mark on the benches.

“Okay... Okay, Bye-bye...” Mark said while talking to his phone. He then hung up and placed the smart phone at his side. In that moment, Hayden yells out as they came closer,

“Mark! Bro.” Hayden walked towards the player and they shook hands. “Congratulations, man, that was a great shot. The way you kicked that in. God, I didn’t know how you did it.”

Mark laughed at his remark and replied, “Lucky try, I guess.”

Elizabeth’s presence was not noticed right away, yet she marveled at the interaction between the two friends. They were closer that she thought, they must have done something together. Without even noticing, she stared at Mark’s face.

She hasn’t seen him in so long, and he changed. He’s not the young fragile boy she once knew. One who looked weak yet had the eyes of determination, full of responsibility. Now Mark had a figure that could match the powerful look in his eyes.

He was still as handsome as ever, with nicely tanned skin and dark chocolate hair. He had strengthened and made the muscles in his body visible, making him have an impressive form. His eyes were still as clear at the sky, and his smile was more captivating than she remembered.

Hearing the addicting sound of his laughter and the smooth sound of his low voice while he replied to Mark with that brief sentence. Her heart pounded slowly on the inside. It was slow, yet she felt it. She hated herself for it, suddenly remembering the past.

How could she let her heart beat for the person who abandoned her during the time she needed him the most?

She focused on herself as she closed her eyes and take a deep breath in and out. Slowly, trying to calm herself down. Letting the heat rising in her cheeks lie low and the unusual beating in her heart calm down. While she did this, a voice snapped her out of her zone and woke her up.

“El! El?” Hayden’s voice rang through her system. She opened her eyes and turned towards the one who called her. Hayden smiled and continued to Mark, “This is the friend I talked to you about, Elizabeth, the one who I gave the other ticket to.”

She then turned towards Mark to give a somewhat casual greeting, hoping he wouldn’t remember her. So with a smile, she did. In that moment, he didn’t see Mark smiling back, yet a surprised face of familiarity saying,

“El... Elizabeth Lane?” he nervously asked.

She dialed down the forced smile and was shocked that he too still knew her. She freaked out on the inside and was speechless.

“Wait... You know each other?” Hayden asked curiously, pointing at the two. Yet no one of the two could answer right away. There was an inexplicable dead silence for a few seconds until Mark snapped out of it and said,

“Yeah, we were neighbors when we were young.”

Neighbors.... Just neighbors? Not even friends.

Elizabeth calmed down and agreed, “Yeah, we knew each other.” She forced out a smile as she faced Hayden.

“El! You didn’t tell me.” Hayden said teasingly.

“Haha, you didn’t tell me you were talking about Mark until we came here.” She tried to casually reply, which somehow worked.

“It’s been a long time, El.” Mark said to her as she extended his hand forward. She looked at it and reacted a couple of seconds too late.

She shook his hand and said, “Yeah, it has. And by the way, congrats on the win. The goal was great!” She lowered the tension by shooting two thumbs up at Mark.

Call it cheesy, but at least it made him laugh. “Thank you.” He replied.

“Mark, will you spend later with your team?” Hayden suddenly asked.

“Yeah, we jokingly planned to have a team celebration later if we win, but it wasn’t really all that serious. We don’t even know where we’ll go eat.”

“Will you be fine to drink?”

“Yep, why do you ask?”

“You should tell them to have it at mine, Brick, I mean.”

“What? That will just give you a burden for tonight!” Mark argued.

“No... You should celebrate there, think of it as a thanks for the tickets. It will all be on the house.”

“We’re a lot, we shouldn’t.”

“I insist Mark. Besides, it would be great publicity for the shop.” Hayden gave out his best smile and in the end Mark ultimately agreed.

“You’ll come too, El. M’kay?” Hayden winked towards her. She then nodded in annoyance. She only then realized after agreeing that she just said yes to spending more awkward time with a person she hates.


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