"Remind me again why am I doing this?"
I asked loudly even though I was alone in the table I am seated. If the cafe was full, people would probably think that I was insane or something. I wasn't even talking on the phone with someone. But it was not like I would care about any of their thoughts anyway.
"Because your dare was to take the girl out for dinner. Though this is a coffee shop and not a restaurant, and they serve coffee here instead of meals. Anyway, point stated." The guy from the neighboring table answered as he turned on his seat to face me, revealing a smirk on Nate's face. "So, who was the girl?"
Chris, who was sitting beside Nate, also turned to face me. Looking at them, they were like facing their own reflection in the mirror, except their clothes were different. And Chris' hair was longer and more disheveled than his brother. "Yeah, dude. Who was the chick? And what have you been doing to be mistaken for...a killer?"
I wanted to know the answers to his questions myself. I haven't done anything, which was odd if I say so myself. So how the hell did she even thought that I would kill her? The worst I have been accused of before was being a cheater, which of course were just the girls assuming things with their wild imaginations. Where the hell did she even get the idea? Probably from the book she was reading earlier, a mystery thriller or something. That should be the reason, because I don't look like anything evil. Okay, a player maybe but not a killer. But she thought I was one, so maybe a little? Hell, no!
"Don't know dude. I haven't done anything yet besides bringing her here." I answered, shaking my head a little.
"So, her name?" Mark butted in before my twin friends could react with great exaggeration. He was sitting across Nate and was facing me, which was the better court-side seat than the twin's. I would admit that Mark was the brain of our little group, though I'll never tell him that. He was stifling his laugh while I struggle to think of a solution for my dilemma. And being friends with him since kindergarten was no excuse, so I'll get him back for that.
"Don't know either. I haven't had a proper conversation with her, if you guys haven't noticed." I answered truthfully while glancing over my shoulder to the door at the end of the cafe. As lame as it sounded, I could only ask her to go to the restroom and fix herself up. Her make-up was all over her face, even her hair was messy. But despite her disaster of an appearance, she still looked a bit hot. No, actually she still looked a little beautiful. At least as beautiful as she could be for a freaky-looking girl.
"Tell me you're kidding, man!" Chris said incredulously and, even without looking at him, I know that his eyes were as wide as saucers. I shifted my gaze to my friends. Chris was shaking his head in disapproval, still wide-eyed. "You have been with her for almost an hour, and you haven't gotten her name yet, let alone her number?"
An hour, huh? Feels like it was longer than that though. Was it really only an hour? Wait, it should be 'was it already an hour', right? Usually I would get a girl's name and number within five minutes of meeting her. And I have been with this chick for almost an hour but I haven't made a move yet. Seriously, Jay?
No, actually, I think I did. If holding her hand was considered a move, that is. I may sound like an idiot saving myself from ego destruction, but I could care less about that. Her skin was so soft and I like how it felt against my own. I want to touch her again. I wouldn't have let go of her hand if she didn't have to go inside that freaking restroom. Yeah, it was all thanks to my stupid idea.
"Dude, my day, my way." That was all I could say. Even I wasn't so sure about myself this time. Can they blame me if this was my first time seeing a girl cry? Sure, I made my sister cry several times in the past, with Mark as my accomplice, but those don't count. And all I could do when this girl started crying was accompany her to the restroom. Uncool. Lame. Loser. You name it.
"Jacob, Jacob, Jacob." A familiar voice said in a reprimanding tone and, despite not wanting to, I looked up to see Max walking towards my table, carrying a tray with our drink orders. He was looking at me reproachfully all the while shaking his head. Should the situation had been different, without me having to wait for the girl, I would have scrambled out of the cafe faster than lightning. Don't get me wrong, Max was like an older brother to me. But just like an older brother, there were times that he was too annoying.
I watched him placed my cup of coffee in the table without any clattering noise, the aroma making its way to my olfactory glands in the process. Then, he placed another cup of hot chocolate across mine, still without any noise. I was observing how he did it. I sometimes work for him when I'm too bored, but I never perfected his art of serving.
"Really, boy? That wasn't like you to make a girl cry." He shook his head slightly as he straightened his posture, showing his almighty stature. This was one of the times that he was annoying - something to do with girls. He was a ladies' man and by hanging out with him my entire life, I'm bound to be one as well. I'm not exactly a ladies' man though, more like a flirt. Okay, a player.
"Thanks, Max." I gave him a sheepish smile, the best I could muster under his silent scolding. He shook his head at me once again before making his way back behind the counter.
I took the cup of coffee and inhaled its aroma before sipping a little of the hot drink. As always, it relaxes me. A day won't go by without me having a cup or two of coffee, usually more. I probably got that from Max too. Call me a caffeine addict and see if I care. I don't even listen to my mom telling me to lessen my caffeine intake. And I'm sure no one can make me do that.
"Jay, man! You. Made. A girl. Cry?! Is it already the end of the world?" Nate said the words slowly, giving more emphasis in his point, with eyes wide as globe. I would have laughed at his exaggeration if it was not directed at me.
"You've never made a girl cry before. I repeat, NEVER." Chris stated in great disbelief. His eyes scrutinizing me as if I was a new species. Why am I friends with a pair of exaggerated twins? Because they're always too funny. Except this time.
"Man, you really made that chick cry? That your new style?" Mark said, sarcastically mind you, with a raised eyebrow and a smirk filled with nothing but amusement, that last part was definitely genuine. I knew he was making fun of me unlike my other two friends, who were eyeing me as if I turned into someone else entirely. What do my friends see me anyway? A god of flirting or something?
"Guys, want me to have it tattooed?" I stared at them flatly. Do they really have to poke where it hurts? Not that it really hurts or anything, but the fact that I made a girl cry was just awful.
When I heard the familiar creaking sound of the door, I knew immediately that it was from the restroom. I had been telling Max to have the creepy noise fixed, but now, I was thankful that he left it alone.
"Now, mind your own business." I eyed them one by one, before waving a hand to dismiss them. They glanced at the direction of the restroom for a brief moment then nodded in response, not uttering a single word as they turned back in their seats. Mark just shrugged, being seated in the VIP front row. I just hoped that she didn't see them talking to me. Otherwise it will be a disaster with a crying girl, three other flirts and a busted dare.
I waited for the girl to take her seat, fighting the strong urge to watch her every movement as she walked towards our table. I wanted to see how she looked like without the messed up art on her face. But I didn't want to give her the impression that I am interested in her. Even though I honestly am, just a tiny bit.
"Sorry. I hadn't realize I was such a disaster." She mumbled softly, almost to herself, as she took the seat opposite mine. I watched as she placed the bag beside her before turning to face me. When my eyes finally landed on her clean features, I died. That was a short lived life for Jacob Vasquez Mendoza, nevertheless, he had a blast.
Okay, the twin's exaggeration was definitely rubbing off on me. That's what I get for spending almost every single day of the last six years with them. Mark was the only one keeping me sane. Seriously though, it felt like the air was knocked out of me, and my jaws almost unhinged itself from its joints at the sight of her. I didn't want to take my eyes off of her, afraid that she was only a mere illusion that will disappear at any moment. As they say, enjoy it while it lasts.
"Um, Jacob?" I heard her say, her voice, clearer now, sounded sweet and angelic. She was saying something else, but I was too out of it to understand her words. I was just dumbly staring at her like she was some fairy.
Was this really the same weird girl from before? The one sitting alone in the park in the middle of the night, looking like a creep? Sure she kinda looked hot and beautiful for a freak, even with the make-up smudged all over her face. But now, she's, I don't know...gorgeous?
I was snapped out of my trance by someone coughing awkwardly loudly. Heck, I was in a trance? I blinked a few times and made a quick surreptitious glance to Mark. He was giving me a questioning look, while being amused at the same time, probably from me being suddenly...stunned and speechless? Oh God! I was just thankful that the twin idiots did not see my blunder. Or they would never let me hear the end of it.
"Are you okay?" Said the angelic voice worriedly. I recomposed myself immediately and shifted my attention back to her.
"Yeah, sorry about that. What were you saying again?" I asked, trying to sound casual and cool, but in truth I was still a bit out of it. She's just too beautiful for words.
"I said I was sorry for mistaking you as a, you know...killer." She said the last word very softly that I almost couldn't hear it. Lowering her head as she shifted her gaze to the cup in front of her, her fringe fell almost hiding her face. I wanted her to look at me again, not to the cup of hot chocolate. I'm much better than that freaking drink. In more ways too.
"No, that's fine. It's the first time I'm mistaken as a villain." I answered shrugging. I was more like the bad boy protagonist, never the villain type. That almost crushed my ego back there. Wait, I could use this. "To be honest though, that hurt me so bad." I shook my head a little, faking a hurt expression.
As expected, she quickly raised her head and faced me, looking uneasy. "I'm so sorry about that." She started, biting her lower lip. Man, was that sexy. "Well, you suddenly grabbed my wrist and pulled me along with you to who-knows-where. You couldn't expect me to think that a random stranger will just bring me to a cafe, right?"
Now she's going defensive. "Actually, I did." I watched as her reaction turned into one of disbelief. "I did say that we would talk over coffee." I continued, cocking my head to the side.
She seemed to think for a while until realization crossed her face. "Oh...yeah. But still, a stranger who would just grabbed someone and bring them somewhere is not exactly trustworthy." She countered, stating her point.
"I did ask you though."
"You did not wait for my answer." She said, crossing her arms over her chest. My gaze fell down to her chest, only to realize that she was wearing a fitting black shirt that was revealing her cleavage. I quickly shifted my eyes back to hers, but that was enough time to notice the two moles on her chest. Now, that was sexy too.
Her eyes were still puffy and red. Just how much and for how long did she cry? And why? Surely, I didn't made her cry that much. "I took your silence as a yes." I answered.
"I don't follow that rule." She stuck her chin up. She was acting cute even though I know that she was trying to look intimidating.
"Well, I do. Anyway, mind telling me why you cried?" I asked casually, trying to change the subject. It doesn't seem like she will just let it drop. I really wanted to know why she cried or if I really made her cry. If I did not, I could do her the favor of beating the bastard who did. Chances of that happening though were zero.
She was silent for a moment, just staring at me with pursed lips. Maybe she was hesitating on whether she should tell me the reason or not? I'm a no one, after all. "You know, they say that sometimes it feels much better talking to a stranger." I held out my hand to her. "And I'm Jacob by the way, though you already knew that. That makes us less of a stranger now. You're Angel, right?"
She looked confused. "No, that's not my name. I'm Danica." When she took my hand, I held onto it firmly before shaking. "Did you mistake me for someone else?" She asked worriedly.
"No way! You're name's not Angel? Serious? Because you sure looked like one." I said, mocking shock. I was still holding her hand and I don't plan on letting it go again. At least not yet. The feel of her smooth, soft skin against my calloused fingers, gained from playing guitar, was really good that it calms me. Could she be a new addiction, much like my coffee? Yeah, right.
I noticed the corner of her lips pulled up into a smile. And that was the sexiest smile I have ever seen. She shook her head slightly, pursing her lips to hide the smile. "That was smooth. Aren't you the charmer?"
"That's my middle name." I casually said, leaning back on my seat. She giggled softly, making me feel good for improving her mood, even if it was only by one percent. "Say, did it hurt?" I asked, sporting a serious look.
She seemed alarmed and puzzled by my question. Did I hit a bull's eye without knowing it? Oh, man. "What?" She finally said after a tormenting few seconds of silence.
"You know, when you fell from heaven." I answered shrugging, still trying to look serious. She pursed her lips again, suppressing a smile but failing miserably. Her giggle sounded music to my ears.
"I can see that this is your game."
"You're quick on the uptake." I winked at her which earned me another giggle. She was not saying something about our hands. She did say that I can hold her hand for as long as I want if I don't kill her. I didn't kill her and I was not planning on doing so. Still, that was too good an offer to pass up.
"So, Danica, mind telling me why you cried?" I asked once again, trying to be casual. I really had no idea how to approach the subject, but I could at least give it another shot. I really wanted to know the story behind those ocean of tears.
"And I thought we already dropped that subject." She said leaning back on her seat. She didn't try to take her hand back, which I will not allow anyway. So I take it that she remembered her words.
"We can always pick it back up."
"Pushy aren't we?" She raised an eyebrow. And yes, that was sexy too.
"That's part of my charms." I winked at her again.
"Ever heard of the word insult?" She asked, biting her lip like she was fighting a smile. Does every little thing she does is sexy? Or was it only me?
"Not in my vocabulary. Enlighten me about it, will ya?"
She sighed, shaking her head. "You're not letting it drop are you?" I only nodded in response and she let out another sigh. Another moment of silence fell upon us and it felt like I was attending a Sunday mass.
Unable to bear the suffocating quietness between us, I gestured to her cup of hot chocolate. She stared at her drink hesitantly, as if weighing options in her head. "Don't worry, it's not drugged." I informed her in case she was thinking that it was. She nodded, took the teaspoon from the side of her cup, stirred the drink a few times and finally took a sip. It was probably only warm now.
"This is good. The best I had so far." She said, a small smile curbing her lips.
"Trust Max to make something good to drink." I responded simply before taking another sip of my coffee. Now I will have to learn to make that drink, no matter what.
Another excruciating silence took over us, and I could see that Mark was giving me a questioning look. Chris and Nate would glance at our table every now and then, but not saying anything. At least my friends knew when to cooperate with me. They were discussing about the race that will be held tomorrow, one in which Chris was participating. It was an illegal street race, and we always go there, even if Chris wasn't participating. I wanted to join in their conversation, if only I was not stuck in an awkward silence with this chick in front of me.
She broke the quiet before I managed to. "I think it was too personal and telling a stranger doesn't really make me feel comfortable about it."
"Less than strangers. And, you can pretend like I'm your friend, or even best friend for that matter. I just think that you should voice out your thoughts and emotions before you turn suicidal." I answered. I was eager to know her reason. Whether she's comfortable about it or not doesn't really matter. Okay, maybe a little.
"Won't you get bored from listening to a less than stranger's ranting?" She asked looking at me uneasily. Was that her concern? I'm used to listening to people talk. Silence though, which I seemed to be having too much for tonight, not so much, only for certain occasions like when I'm writing or in class.
"At least I think your ranting will be better than my mom's or sister's. So shoot." It's true. For the past eighteen years, I have listened to my mom and sister telling me everything about their lives, and believe me, it was a challenge. I don't give a damn about any of the rumors and complains they're telling me, maybe a little, especially about my sister's boys, but they still do it everyday. And by everyday, I mean every single day, even when I'm not at home.
She took in a deep breath an sighed exasperatedly. "This may be a stupid and a sappy reason but, well, it hurts. Should I really tell you this?" She wondered out loud, saying the words quickly. I just nodded when she gave me a hesitant look, not really intending to answer her question.
"I was...crying because..." she trailed off, lowering her gaze to the table. I noticed her eyes brimmed with tears but she was fighting them back. It made me panic a little, regretting forcing the story out of her. "....because I was...brokenhearted."
I felt my heart sink when she finished her sentence. She was in love? But what happened? I just stared at her, not saying anything. There was no way my words could comfort her.
"You see, I was dating my boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, for five years but he cheated on me." She said slowly, biting her lower lip again. She was still fighting back her tears. I'm actually surprised that she still had some to shed after crying her eyes out. Why would her boyfriend cheat on her anyway? Was she not good enough? I mean, she was like a goddess descended from Mt. Olympus and if she was mine, I would definitely not ask for more. "The worst part was he cheated on me with my best friend."
Damn. Double betrayal. The boyfriend and the best friend. Doesn't girls have something like bros before hoes? Maybe, sis before dicks? Ah, whatever.
"I was an idiot. That must be why he left me. I couldn't believe that everything was happening right behind my back...and I didn't even realize it. I couldn't believe that he would cheat on me...that my best friend would do that to me."
Her tears finally fell as she continued on, and she seemed unaware of the fact. Unlike earlier, I wasn't flabbergasted to see her crying. So I pushed myself up from my seat and sat beside her. I was thankful that I decided to take the couch seats earlier. It relieved me of the trouble of setting another chair beside her's.
I wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer to me, her face leaning against my chest. She didn't pushed me away, nor did she struggle. I placed my other hand behind her head, brushing her hair gently, trying my best to caress her. Despite the situation, I couldn't help but notice how nice her hair smelled, like apples.
I don't know why but it seemed that my action only caused her to start sobbing. I understand that though. If I was in her position I would feel hurt, betrayed and used. It will surely be painful. But I was a guy and she was a girl. I might not cry, but she could shed an entire ocean.
I glanced at my friends in the neighboring table. They were all giving me questioning looks, and glancing at her with worried expressions. I only shook my head in response, and they nodded before leaving their table heading towards the counter. What's good being friends with these guys for a long time is having a silent communication. We understand each other without having to put them into words.
"I-I was such a loser. I f-felt used. I-I loved Rick a-and her too bu-but..." Her words muffled through my shirt and I strained my ears to understand what she's saying. She clutched onto my shirt tightly and I just knew how wrinkled it will be afterwards, but that was the least of my concerns then.
I was holding a goddess in my arms. Screw this Rich or Rock or whatever his name was. He can jump off of a cliff and I wouldn't give a shit about it. Actually, I shouldn't even bother about him. She shouldn't shed a tear for that scumbag. I'll own her. I'll make her mine. I want her...
Uh, wait. Did I just thought of wanting her? Of owning her? Me? Get a grip Jay! Usually, I just want to bed and do girls but nothing more. It must be because of the situation. Yeah, that's it. Guys are weak in front of crying girls, right? That must be somewhere in the list of our weaknesses.
She told me just about everything that I wanted to know, and I could barely catch her muffled words through her sobs. How she found out about her boyfriend and best friend being together, her own feelings and thoughts about what happened, and how she ended up in the park. In flagrante delicto. It's not like they can lie about it when they were caught naked in his bed. I don't know if it was better to learn it from someone else or to catch your lover red-handed. Neither was good though. That very act was just low. This girl was Venus reincarnated and he left her for another girl. I would never understand that asshole.
When she's done voicing her agony, she continued to cry softly against my chest. I was still holding her in my arms, brushing her hair gently, so I would not complain about getting my shirt wet. It felt good to have her against me, feeling her warmth in my embrace. Even the feel of her hair tangled in my fingers was good. I wonder if her lips would be just as good, or maybe even better.
"I'm sorry." She said while sniffing, pulling away a little to look at me. "I got your shirt wet and you must be really bored."
Her eyes were red and puffy, even more than earlier. Her cheeks were stained with tears, and a few tear drops were still rolling down her face. The sight of her made my stomach turn. I was not sure whether it was because I found her beautiful or because I didn't want to see her cry anymore. Her bare face was only embellished with her crystal tears. I wish her tears were for me, but it's not like I would want to make her cry. My jaws clenched together at the thought that her tears were for some asshole. If ever I get the chance, my fist will definitely be good friends with his face.
I cupped her cheek and gently brushed away a tear. I could kiss her right now, but I wouldn't. That will be taking advantage of her fragility. "Don't worry about my shirt. And your story's not boring. Do you feel any better?"
"Yeah...thanks." She muttered, lowering her head. I noticed that her grip on my shirt tightened and she was biting her lower lip. Damn, I want to be the one biting it.
I did not know what came upon me but I immediately regretted the next words that left my lips. "I'll drive you home." I mentally punched myself for saying the one-way ticket to our goodbye. "Or do you have a ride home?" I added quickly, hoping she would say no.
She shook her head. So that was a no. But to what? "I plan to take a cab home." That answered my questions. The thought that she doesn't want to spend even a second more with me is sinking in, but I pushed the hopeless thought aside.
I argued with her about taking a cab, and we sounded like five-year old kids bickering. I was against it because it was never safe. Who knew what type of driver she would get? I managed to force her to being drove home by me, but not after a good discussion.
"You really didn't have to, I always take a cab home. Even my boyfriend would allow me." She said, defending her claim.
"Well, I'm not your ex." I hissed through clenched teeth and breathed deeply. "And because you've been fine until now, doesn't mean you will always be fine. I've been robbed before and I'm a guy." I informed her trying to sound calm.
"But-" I placed a finger over her lips, cutting her off. It was soft and it made me want to place my own lips there instead. Oh God, I was fighting to keep myself sane in front of this girl.
"I'm telling you now. I won't let you take a cab and I will drive you home. If you don't trust me even a tiny bit," I paused, pulling out my phone from my pocket, placing my mom's number in the screen and handing it to her. "Here, call my mom now, or later when you feel like you're in danger. I don't have a pass code there so you can lock it, saves battery."
She was quiet for a moment, staring at the phone and holding it tighter in her hand. "Fine." She mumbled. I wanted to do a happy dance but I don't fancy looking stupid.
We left our table and headed to the counter to inform Max that we're leaving. While Danica was engaged in a small conversation with my old friend, I signaled to the guys that I will give them a call. She seemed to be in a better mood, but I could tell that she was still down. Surely, it wouldn't be easy getting over a five-year relationship.
When we're already in the car, I asked Danica for her address. She was living quite far from the area, but what surprised me more was that I knew the place she was staying at.
"Verde Mansions?" I cut her off from saying the complete address of her place. She stopped speaking and turned to face me wide-eyed, looking almost terrified.
"How'd you know? Are you stalking me?" She demanded, sounding sure of her suspicions. I wanted to laugh but decided to play it cool.
"Maybe." I shrugged as I started the car.
"I'm out of here." She said unbuckling her seat belt quickly. I grabbed her arm before she could jump out of the car.
"I'm kidding. I always drive my cousin there. At least you wouldn't have to worry about getting lost." I explained, glancing at the passenger seat where I forced her to seat. She seemed to relax a bit but kept eyeing me warily. I let go of her arm and gestured for her to buckle her seat belt again.
The drive to her place was once again filled with silence. I focused my attention on the road but still risked glancing at her every now and then. Her features in dim light were serene, and lonely but still beautiful. Her gaze was fixed on the road, but just staring blankly. I somehow wished to know what's going on in her mind.
"Jacob, thank you." Her soft voice filled the silence that I dreaded. And I couldn't help but notice the first happy note I heard from her.
Chapter Four >>
I edited the chapter big time. It was still long but I really didn't want to cut down the story much. I thought of making two separate chapters out of this one, but I cancelled out the idea immediately. And now you've met Mark, Chris and Nate. And more of Max. What will they be to Danica anyway?
Next chapter's almost up. I just won't be uploading it until I finish the fifth one. I seem to be making big changes in the chapter after I edit it so yeah it won't be up until I'm kind of happy with the length and flow of story.