Chapter Five: LOVED

January 8th… 9:15 a.m.

The weirdest thing happened before school. A guy I've heard of, but never actually spoken to, approached me and asked for my phone number.

Excuse me, would you mind giving my arm a little pinch or something?

His name is Jake Bromley, and he's the number one soccer extraordinaire at Hamilton High. To go over the main points, he is basically popular, intelligent, athletic, and good-looking. Your average clichéd lady's man. I've never thought him overly gorgeous; he's got the typical surfer's tan and curly brown hair, along with the iciest blue eyes I've ever seen. But the fact that he of all the boys in this school asked for my number sent me into a deep think.

Is this another one of Charity's plans to ruin my life?

She could very well have bribed both Jake and Lester to pretend they're interested in me so that after they've brainwashed my poor innocent soul into thinking they truly do love me, they leave me with a broken heart and my teenage years are ruined. But I prefer not to jump to conclusions.

After all, I did give Jake my number. So if there is any scheming going on, I've already set myself up to play along.

Cheese and rice. Rosie Dodd is going to fall over and die when she hears about this. Not that I plan on telling her myself… I'm sure someone else's hawk eyes witnessed the number exchange this morning and the news has long reached her gossip-driven ears.

It would be pretty cool if Charity has nothing to do with this, though. I mean, with or without my suspicion, it is the first time I've ever had two guys show interest in me in one week. Well, truth be told, it is the first time I've ever had any guy show interest in my at all. Not counting elementary years. Like I've said, my life doesn't revolve around boys. And that is presumably the reason I've never received attention from them. I guess that's why I'm relishing in the idea of being admired by one.

Or two, in this case.

The teacher is watching me, and her eye is twitching frenetically. I'd better put you away.

12:48 p.m.

A girl can never eat too much grilled cheese. I love these things! Especially during the times my head is in a flurry of confusion, like right now.

Ever since I got to school this morning, people seem to be staring at me left and right. I've gone to the lady's room at least three times to check I don't have a huge stain on my shirt or lettuce in my teeth or something. There's nothing wrong with my appearance… so am I doing something wrong?

I don't like being all anxious like this. I've never had to be anxious before. My life was perfectly remote and comfortable before Lester came along. Why couldn't he have just invited a different girl to the winter formal? Someone who doesn't reside in the boy-inexpert crowd like me.

I've chosen to eat in the study hall again. I figure Lester will find me here; it's the place we first met. But all these ogling people around me are making me wonder if I should have eaten in the bathroom instead. Agh, get a grip, Bridget. Everyone else deals with this attention. I just need to get used to it.

But why are they staring at me? I mean, I've done nothing out of the ordinary. Geez.

Perhaps I should go find Rosie outside. She'll know what to say, even if it has something to do with reminding me about how dumb I am that I accepted Lester's offer. I think I just need the company of another person. I can't sit here on my own much longer with everyone gawking at me or I'm afraid I'll snap and ask them what their problem is. Not exactly the impression I want to make. Yeah, I think I'll do that. I'm going to go find Rosie.

1:03 p.m.

She says I'm overreacting. "Honestly, Bridget, people stare at everyone everyday. You just need to get used to it." Exactly what I was thinking.

"But why are they staring at me? I've been my usual aloof self all week and yet everyone insists there is something interesting about me."

"But there is something interesting about you." That was flattering, other than the fact that it wasn't Rosie Dodd's voice who said it. I turned around and there stood Ramsey Clarke, an unreadable smile on his mouth. "Seriously," he said.

The last thing I wanted was for him to know about my internal bewilderment problem. So, I pulled Rosie to her feet and we began to clear our trash off of the picnic table. All the while ignoring Ramsey. He didn't leave though. No, in fact, he began to help us clean up. It was a little odd, to say the least. "What do you want, Ramsey?" I asked, whirling around to face him, a handful of food wrappers crumpled in my hand.

He tossed a soda can in the garbage and regarded me with his shady brown eyes. I suddenly felt self-conscious looking up at him, as though he were trying to figure me out and dig deeper to find the lonely person that lives inside of me. The one that I hide everyday. The one I am ashamed of. The one I choose not to talk about.

"Well?" I said, tapping my foot on the asphalt. "There must be some actual reason you came over here other than to say I'm interesting. If there is anyone interesting around here, it would be you, Ramsey Clarke. Why do you insist on irritating me?"

He smiled. "I irritate you?"

I scoffed at him. "No, I was just kidding around. Yes, you irritate me Ramsey."

"I see." He stared at his shoes for a moment, and then looked at me again. "Well that just won't do…"

"Excuse us, Ramsey, but we've got somewhere to be. Thanks for the nuisance." Express thanks for the Lord Almighty on behalf of Rosie Dodd. She took the trash out of my hand and threw it in a bin as she led me towards the high school building, away from Ramsey. "He's an idiot," she whispered as we went inside. "Since when has he been conveying his curiosity for you?"

That set me off a bit. "Don't say that, Rosie. Ramsey doesn't like me. He just enjoys pestering people, and I'm the target of the week."

"Right…" We made our way to the study hall again, where she instantly spotted her posse of clone-like girls and I felt the desire to journal. "Whatever, Bridget. Just don't get worked up over nothing. People are probably staring at you because you're absolutely gorgeous, and you can think what you like about Ramsey. I'll see you later, alright?" Then she sashayed over to her friends.

I am not gorgeous. I'm plain, remember? Dishwater blonde hair and green eyes are the average combination on just about any girl. Rosie was just saying that. And now that I am calm and comfy at a table all by myself with you lovely little composition book, I can daydream in peace. About what, I'm not sure yet. But I will.

Er, maybe I won't. I see Lester coming.

1:30 p.m.

Ah hell. Could this day get any weirder? You know something is definitely stirring in my mind if I'm writing during math class. I told myself I would never write during math class, yet here I am writing during math class.

Lester announced his undying love for me in the study hall. And to make matters worse, Cedar walked by my study table right as he said it.

He loves me. Me! Cheese and rice. I could feel my jaw drop until it hit the wood desk with a clunk. Truthfully, I didn't even know it was possible to love someone at the innocent age of sixteen. And Lester… well, I've only actually spoken to him once! Am I the only one at this age who is mature enough to know that it is physically impossible to fall in love after one conversation? Cheese and rice. I cannot believe he said that. My reply consisted of something like, "Gwwwhaaaat nerkk well herererkkkk that's uhhhhh urrmmmmm niiiiice. Thanks."

Bridget is on the brink of applying for a real life therapy session. I'm not so sure how fine of a job this notebook is doing.

Anyway, Lester turned a shocking shade of violet to match his hair and stumbled out of the room. That's when I knew I was in for it.

Cedar swayed over to my table, hilarity plastered all over her stupid little face. "Briiiidgetttt," she cooed, taking a seat opposite me.

"Shut up, Cedar, I can't deal with you right now."

"Why didn't you say you love him back?"

I snorted. "Maybe because I don't."

She lifted an eyebrow. "So? A totally hot guy told you he loves you. That would change my mind."

"Newsflash: I have a different acumen than you. And, you're only fourteen. A dim-witted, creepy, naïve little girl. You'd do just about anything for the sake of love."

Her breathing deepened. "Bridget," she said. "Like you're not naïve?"

"Pssh. You don't even know what naïve means."

Cedar furrowed her brow. I crossed my arms. She crossed her legs. I smirked. "Bridget," she hissed, "you know Mom is going to hear about this."

"So? She will just be pleased that I'm finally being a part of the dating world."

She shifted in her seat, a little flustered. Apparently I know our mother better than she thinks. "T-that's not what I meant. I meant she's going to hear about this."

"What, that we're on the verge of a brawl in the middle of lunch? I doubt you have the nerve to tell her, Cedar."

"Yes I do. And she'll take my side. You know it." She smiled, satisfied with herself. I really didn't know where she was trying to get with this, so I picked up my backpack and headed towards the exit without another word. There are times when it's alright to disregard someone completely, and this was one of those times. Besides, I had a lot to think about, and I couldn't very well do it with Cedar trying to intimidate me. She wasn't doing too well of a job anyway.

I made my way towards Mrs. D'Arcy's room since I expected the bell to ring any moment, and was surprised to see Lester sitting outside her door, his head in his hands. My first instinct was to wait until he'd left. But I knew I couldn't just leave him there. It pains me to see people—especially macho macho men—unhappy. So, against my will, I caught his attention and sat next to him. His eyes were rimmed with red, though there were no signs of tears. It made my heart melt right away. I mean honestly, how many girls do you know who don't soften at the sight of a guy upset? I may not be a big fan of boys, but there are times when I just can't help it.

"I'm sorry," were the first words out of my mouth.

"No, Bridget. I'm sorry. It was probably really weird for me to just tell you I love you out of the blue."

It's weird that he even paid attention to me in the first place, but I didn't want to start a conversation. I just wanted him not to feel so miserable. "It's alright. I mean, I guess you can't help how you feel, you know?"

He nodded. We sat there for a moment quietly, and I wrung my hands together. They were feeling a little sweaty. I'd never had a considerable heart-to-heart with a guy before, so I'm sure you can imagine my apprehension. Eventually the bell rang, and students slowly started to fill up the passageway. Lester rubbed his eyes once more before jumping to his feet, the wheels of his skateboard scraping against the wall. "Here," he said, holding out a hand to help me up. My heart instantly began to beat in anxiety; what if I got his hand all wet from my own perspiration? Talk about ew. Surreptitiously I wiped my hand on my T-shirt and seized his hand. It was affectionate and large and lovely. I kind of liked it.

Agh. Bridget doesn't like boys. Just their bodies. And I'm serious.

So anyway, now that I've successfully wasted away my perfectly good math class to write in your stupid unhelpful pages, I think I'll try to savor what is left of the forty-five minutes. Not that I expect that to happen. Everything seems predominantly all right with Lester for now, though I still want to know how he came to the conclusion that he loves me. And, I want to know why Jake Bromley insisted to have my number. And, I want to know why Rosie Dodd thinks Ramsey likes me. Though I know he doesn't. Gahhh. I just want to know everything, don't I?

Author's Note: This story is beginning to feel especially slow, but oh well. Chances are I'll put it on the back burner after a couple more chapters, since there aren't a whole lot of people reading it. That's okay though. We'll see how things go.

Hera-Rose88: Hahaa. We'll see about that.