| “I’ll see you tomorrow. Bye,” Nicole Yourges said as she went out of the hallway with her friends. The three of them look all the same. From ponytails to shoes, even shoelaces. Like most of the teenage girls were doing. The if-you’re-one-of-us-then-be-like-one-of-us code. If only for their hairs, one might even have mistaken them to be triplets. Nicole has brown; the other two has black and blonde.
“G’bye. Are you sure you’re not going to the concert with us?” asked Yelena Rhede, the one with the darkest complexion among them.
“You’ll miss the chance to see Robert Stewart,” whispered Erin George, trying to make her jealous and change her mind. “Perform, I mean,” she added immediately after realizing that the young man was her suitor.
Nicole smiled, trying hard not to pout. If only her father doesn’t care about her schedule and where she was going, she thought. “I know. If only I could go with you guys. Anyway, enjoy.”
“We sure will. Bye, take care.” The three kissed each other and waved goodbye. Left alone, Nicole sighed and turned around to where her driver usually parks her car. Unexpectedly, she saw a young man wearing a shirt topped with a black jersey and denim jeans, waiting for her outside his car. Wide eyed, she distinguished Sebastian Stevens, the man to whom she was supposed to be married, according to her demanding parents. That was what well-off families do before. Sebastian’s grandfather was the one who proposed the idea to her parents. Unfortunately, the young man was such a playboy, one who used to have many relationships with girls at a time. Being a good boy to his grandfather, he follows his orders such as taking Nicole out for what seemed to be a date.
As she was about to turn around and leave, he noticed her. He wasn’t smiling at her; there was no reaction at all. She stood in front of him and said in a shaky voice, “H...Hi, I… I didn’t expect…” What was it making her nervous everytime she was facing this man? She didn’t know.
Sebastian raised his brows and asked, “So, where do you wanna go?” The usual question. And again, after driving their way to where she wanted to go, he would stay inside the car, listen to his music, sleep, wait for her and take her home. A wonderful date. Nicole, of course couldn’t object for they live their own lives and she also doesn’t want to spend her precious time with him. Naturally to be polite, she’d still ask, “Aren’t you coming?”
“I’ll stay here.”
And before she could finish, he’d answer, “I’m sure.” Telling her to leave him alone immediately, not caring about what she’d feel.
Nicole entered the amusement park and sat on one of the benches. She was too tired to walk, even move. She just wanted to relax and wait for the night to come.
Sebastian was about to turn his radio on when he caught a glimpse of his grandfather’s car. One of his men was spying on them. “Shit,” was all he could say as he went inside the park.
An old man selling ice cream approached Nicole. “Miss, you’ve been sitting there for a long time. Do you want some ice cream?”
Nicole smiled. “No thanks,” she sighed and when she looked up, she saw Sebastian, standing before her. “I thought…”
He sat beside her. “I got bored.”
Nicole knew the reason why he followed her inside but decided to stay quiet about it. She felt awkward being with the man and not talking to him. She faced him and asked, “So who’s it really? My dad or yours?”
“I’m sorry?” he asked. He was listening but he didn’t understand her question.
“I know that you’re just obliged to fetch me.” Obviously, she should know by the way he’s treating her.
Finally, he got what she was talking about. “It’s my Dad.” He closed his eyes and laid his head comfortably on the bench’s straight back, his head facing the sky.
Yeah, why the hell would he follow her Dad’s orders? she thought. He stared at the man sitting inches beside her. That kind of guy wouldn’t seriously get married. Or maybe he would, but would cheat on her wife. She examined his face and admitted that he looked good. He had a fair complexion and a good built. His tow-colored hair was styled to make his face look charming. He had long eyelashes, aquiline nose and thin lips. She looked at his suit and tried not to laugh. He was making an effort to look poor, to do what he wanted to do. This guy was difficult, she thought. Like any other moneyed guy. She realized she was judging him. Another thought went inside her mind and before she could shake it off her head, it already slipped out of her mouth. “I really don’t want to get married either…right now.” Since she had opened it, she decided to press the issue. “I…”
“Let’s not talk about that,” he said without moving, eyes still closed. He wasn’t ready to think about that, much less argue with her.
She sensed his reaction but still didn’t change the topic. “I know you also don’t want to and I know you don’t like me.”
The words made him open his eyes. She thought his eyes were the most beautiful brown eyes she’d ever seen and she looked away. He didn’t realize she’d notice. An arrow of concern shot him, thinking of what he was doing to her. “No,” he said in a soft voice.
Hearing this, Nicole raised her brows and looked at him. “No what? No that’s not true or no, you don’t like me?” Sebastian took his eyes off her, avoiding the question. “It’s Jess, right?”
Alarmed, he asked right away, “You know Jess?”
Nicole looked at the ice cream vendor who had been watching them since they arrived. “Uh-huh. My classmate last semester. She’s hot and has a high opinion of herself. High maintenance.”
“You’re friends?” he asked.
Just because of knowing Jess, he talked to me, she thought. “No,” she admitted. “She’s like a snob. Very superior. Stuck-up, you may say.” As long as the words went out of her mouth, she regretted it. “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to… Well, aren’t you?”
“Prove what? The fact that I’m already talking to you is enough.”
“Just like my talking to the ice cream vendor or to anyone else I’d meet on the road. That’s talking to you?”
“I don’t talk to ice cream vendors or even strangers.” The ice cream vendor heard him and moved away.
“See?” She made a point of saying he was.
He grinned. She got him at that. “Why, what else do you want to know about me?” he asked while looking at her. Their faces were only inches apart.
Her heart lodged through her throat. She felt like a busybody and she hated herself for acting like one in front of him. “You could say I’m kind of nosy… but I’m not into digging one’s life. Really. I think it’s getting late,” she said in a hurry, without breathing.
Sebastian noticed the shame in her eyes. He didn’t know but he was starting to like her. “You think so?” There was teasing in his voice.
“Yeah, let’s go home.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Look, we went here and sat on this ugly bench” She raised a brow. “Okay, old bench and… and talk about my being a snob? No way. Follow me.” He held her wrist which surprised them both.
This guy was progressing but not when I don’t want him to, she told herself. He had talked to her and she managed to go with the conversation, for the first time but right now, all she wanted to do was go home and avoid him. “But…”
He pressed a finger to her lips to stop her from speaking. “No buts okay?”
They entered the line directly going to the ferris wheel. Staring at him in disbelief, she asked, “We’re gonna ride that?”
Without looking at her, he answered, “Yeah, that’s why we’re in the line. And that is a ferris wheel.” The people beside them stared at her.
Annoyed, she said, “I know.” She took her hand which he was still holding.
He looked at her and noticed her uneasiness. With a grin, he said, “Just trying to make you laugh. Didn’t work.”
“If you want to make me laugh, then don’t make me ride that.”
“I… I can’t,” she said, hiding her greatest fear.
“You acrophobic?” he asked calmly but before she could answer, they were already inside, about to enter the car.
“Right,” she answered as the man locked their seats. The car started to move. A cloud of worry covered her eyes.
Sebastian felt guilty and he tried to calm her down. “Don’t worry. It’s okay.”
Furious, she asked in a high tone, “Okay? How can you…” and she stopped, thinking it would be useless to argue with him. She decided to close her eyes like what she used to do whenever she’s standing from a high place.
Reaching the top, the wheel moved faster. “Here we go. Don’t close your eyes. Come on. Open up,” he persisted.
“I can’t,” she whispered, her voice shaking in mixed fear and anger.
Sebastian thought she looked especially beautiful when afraid. She has a heart-shaped face with two blue eyes. He admitted, she had a perfect bone structure and her lips are aching to be kissed. Her brown hair, which is below her shoulders in length, riotously turned curly at the ends.
“You can but you just won’t. Nothing wrong will happen to you. You’ll miss the view, I’m telling you.”
“I don’t care,” she responded angrily. “It’s because of you I’m here. Will you stop bugging me? I’m concentrating.” Concentrating? What are you talking about, sucker? Because of nervousness, even she couldn’t understand what she’s talking about.
“Okay. I’m just curious. Who’s Robert Stewart?” Maybe a bit of talking would calm her, he thought.
Eyes still closed, she raised a brow. “You know him?” she asked but before he could answer, she said in an accusing tone, “You were eavesdropping.”
“I’m not. I just accidentally heard what you’re talkative best friend said. Yelena, if I’m right.”
“It’s Erin. Robert Stewart was also a senior. He’s the lead guitarist of the… a band. I forgot the name. How come you don’t know him?”
“He’s courting you?”
“Nope, we’re just friends and as if you care. You yourself have lots of girlfriends.”
“Whoa, my secret’s told. Who told you that shit?” He didn’t know why he was fuming even though he knew it was true. He wanted to give the impression of being innocent to her but he failed.
“Instincts,” she drawled.
He knew she was just hiding someone. “Instincts huh?” he asked but he couldn’t tell if she was lying ‘cause he couldn’t see her eyes. “Hey, you’re a chicken. Open your eyes or…”
“Or what?” she demanded.
Sebastian looked at her. “Or I’ll kiss you.” His voice was serious.
“You’re nuts,” she laughed uneasily aware of his face near hers. “You must be kidding. You can’t make me… with that kind of…” Sebastian brushed his lips to her and her eyes flung open in surprise. The jerk was serious. She looked outside in embarrassment, still unbelieving. In an instant, her fear burst like bubble.
“How’s the view?” he asked nonchalantly.
“Great,” she drawled.
“Told you,” he grinned. His theory was proven. She didn’t slap his face or even got mad at him. It’s not because she’s so shocked she couldn’t sort out her emotions but because she can’t hurt people. Just that.