Chapter two: His Green Eyes and Widow's Peak
I woke up to annoying scratches on the door. NatJo was apparently up and hungry judging from his cries.
I checked the time by the bedside table, it was only around eight thirty in the morning. Too early to get up on a Sunday but early enough to feed the dog. I stretched on the bed before sitting up, a grin forming on my lips as I looked around my room.
A year ago, I had decided to paint it red.
My mom tried to change my mind for days but couldn't do anything when I started the first brush stroke. I knew then that only one color went well with it. White was out of the question unless I was Santa's Elf. So I painted my study table, the headboard and my closet black.
It was perfect!
My mom grudgingly admitted that it looked 'really nice', she even bought me a new black carpet to match everything else. My dad, not to be outdone, bought me a new computer.
And then the shouting match began. Again.
I smiled at the memory and took my time, knowing mom wouldn't be up until ten.
I jogged down the stairs only to find her very much awake, her damp hair telling me she had already taken a shower. That's quite a feat for my mom, who usually doesn't want to be bothered on a Sunday unless it was to go shopping.
"Oh good. You're up." She said before taking a dainty sip from her coffee cup.
"Morning mom." I said tentatively as I brushed passed her to get to NatJo's supplies with the bugger on my heels.
"That dog has made quite a racket to wake up your grandmother." She said, her tone mildly annoyed.
"Gram's dead mom." I said resignedly as I poured the contents of an Alpo bag to NatJo's container. The bugger so impatient that he had placed his front paws on my hip.
"My point exactly." She said drily.
I rolled my eyes at that then ruffled NatJo's head as he devoured his breakfast.
"Why are you up so early? It's not even nine yet." I asked as I took out some OJ from the fridge. My parents found out an early age that my system could not tolerate the taste of milk nor do I like the taste of it. It was either I threw up or my digestive system fails me which means numerous trips to the bathroom.
"Well my dear, we need to turn a new leaf." She said with a smile.
I raised my eyebrows inquiringly, waiting for her to explain. God knows what's gotten into her now. When she just hummed her way into making some pancakes, curiosity bit me. "I'm waiting mom."
"For what dear?" She said, looking back at me before flipping the pancake.
"For you to explain about this turning a leaf thing." I said, trying my best to be patient.
"Oh that. Well, today, we will start going to church." She said excitedly as if we were going to a rock concert.
I closed my eyes and shook my head. "Mom..."
"It's time we look into ourselves and change for the better." She reasoned, taking the pancake out of the pan and pouring a new one.
"Your starting to sound like Wells." I grumbled, taking a seat and piled two pancakes on my plate.
"Who's Wells?" She asked, her tone a little confused.
"Never mind. Are you serious?" I asked, before taking my first bite .
"Of course dear."
"May I ask why?" I said with a mouthful of pancakes.
She shook her head at my lack of table manners but let it go when I gave her a sheepish smile. "You really need to hurry up, dear. Mass starts at ten."
Great, she just sidestepped my question. What did Dad do now? He usually causes these drastic changes.
"Mom please..." The last time she dragged me out of the house, she had wanted to have a tattoo only to run out of the shop when she saw that the owners' tongue was pierced. She said it was not sanitary.
"Hurry up and get in the shower." She said again. "Oh, and I bought you a few dresses yesterday. It's in your closet." She added almost as an after thought.
"No way." I shook my head vehemently. Dresses? As in more than one? Are you fucking kidding me?!
"It's church, dear. If you show up in jeans it's disrespectful and frowned upon." She reasoned, turning off the burner before taking a seat.
"Well, it's not my idea to go to church now is it.?" I grumbled.
I guess that ticked her off because she yelled her request next, "In the shower! Now!"
All my bravado left and I dragged myself up the stairs only to have her add. "And you better be wearing one of those dresses."
"Thanks mom, you just ruined my day." I said sarcastically once in my room.
An hour and a hundred sighs later, I was in the community church, beside my mother who was smiling serenely at people who passed us by. It was all I could do not to snort. I was wearing a white dress that ended a few inches above the knee for crying out loud. Dammit! Above the knee!
Well, it was that or the pink one... I shuddered at the thought of wearing something that demands attention. Pink?! What am I? A Barbie? I'm burning that dress the first chance I get.
I had started to head for the last pew but my mom wouldn't hear of it. Instead, she dragged me to the third pew. I sullenly chose to sit at the corner, plotting an early escape, knowing all the while it was useless. It made me feel a little better though.
I looked around and was freaked out by the people who were staring openly at us, like the stars of the circus. Most of them were ancient and were discreetly scrutinizing my clothing and then they smiled at me like I was a kid worthy of a cookie. A cookie! Goddammit!
I averted my eyes and shook my head at my mom. We were Catholic. Or so she said. Don't get me wrong, I believe in God but the introduction I received about him was through 7th Heaven.
"Stop twitching." My mom said softly but with steel.
I unclenched my hands and spread them over the top of my legs, preventing all the peeping Toms from considering me as a target and trained my eyes on the isle behind me.
"I didn't know we were Catholic." I finally said, refusing to look at her.
"Of course we are." She said primly.
"You didn't tell me that before." I said, keeping my voice neutral.
"Well, now you know."
"Mom, this is the first time I've been to a church." I argued softly, turning back to look at her.
"Of course not. You were baptised here." She said reasonably.
"I was two months old, Mom."
"It doesn't matter now, does it?" She asked, an eyebrow raised in question.
I turned away again and ran a calculating glance around me.
The last seats to be occupied were the first two rows. Ten minutes before the mass starts, our lovely neighbors chose to grace us with their presence. Note the sarcasm.
My mom was chummy with them so they started their 'howdo's'.
"Why don't you sit with us?" Mrs. Henderson asked before adding, "Janie and Mike will be here in a few minutes. We can all sit together."
Janie is the eldest of the Henderson children and married to loser's brother. They have two boys, twins, I am told. As far as I'm concerned, she is the only sane person in their family.
"We wouldn't want to intrude..." Her mom started to protest but everyone knows that's just for show. So we ended up moving to the second pew with the Hendersons.
My mom and Mrs Henderson sat together while I had to give up my seat on the corner and settled on a little over the middle. Natalie sat at the corner of the pew but was throwing me wary looks as if I would say something idiotic anytime soon. I wouldn't, of course, not with my mom sitting beside me. Mr. Henderson, on the other hand, just gave me a small smile.
I kept to myself and didn't say a word until the Edwards came in and settled on the empty space on our pew. Janie's kids were present as well. Cute little boys with brown hair and striking blue eyes. They were silent for about thirty seconds before they started climbing over loser's lap.
That's when they noticed me. They gave loser with as impish grin before they hurried over to where I was, leaving him groaning.
The twins placed themselves in front of me, their stares too calculated for one so little.
"Hello." Said the little one to left.
"Hi." I said, like most people who have probably met them, I was struck. I've seen these two before but never up close. I have taken great pains to avoid this family. But with my mom beside me, there's no escaping them.
They were identical, same face, same height, same smile, same long eyelashes.
"My name is Tyler. I'm five." He was obviously the leader between the two.
"I'm Tyrone. I'm five thoo." This one, had a lisp, making it easier to identify who was who.
"Okay." Was all I said. I figured that not encouraging them would drive them away.
They just stared at me. I must have been a novelty for these two because they gave me impish smiles before flanking me on both sides, making me move slightly to the side away from my mother who only ruffled Tyler's head beside her before turning back to Mrs. Henderson.
I turned to loser, who was sitting on the other corner of the pew and raised an eyebrow, a silent command for him to take his nephews away. He winced at the look on my face but stood up nonetheless. I was about to turn back when I locked eyes with Janie.
She gave me an infectious, engaging smile that I couldn't help but return. After all, she made all those years of torture a little better.
"So, you can be human after all." I heard loser say.
I turned to narrow my eyes at him. Of all places, he chose to insult me in a church. I was about to hiss back a retort when I felt Tyler lean his head on my arm.
I looked down and saw imp smiling up at me. The retort died on my tongue. I refuse to be enslaved by puppy dog eyes, goddammit!
I turned to loser and found that he was looking worriedly at the twins, as if I was some lunatic that wasn't supposed to be near them. I have to admit that on this one, he was right. I don't have patience for kids. I don't babysit. I never have and if I can help it, I never will.
"Hey." I heard loser whisper to his nephews. "Mommy wants you to sit with her. Dana likes to be alone when she prays."
I raised an eyebrow again at this. "Is that all you got?." I asked when the two just shook their heads.
Jhonny took hold of Tyrone's wrist and tried to pull him up from his seat but the little guy looped his other arm to mine and held tight. Jhonny then tried to grab him by the waist, that was when I saw that the little guy was gonna belt.
I covered his mouth with my hand, much to Losers' relief. "They can stay." I said quickly, left no choice.
"Boys..." I heard a warning come from Janie, that made Tyler clutch me by the waist.
I was doomed.
"It's okay." I said with a forced smile at Janie.
Natalie, who had moved to her sister's side when they arrived, gave me a suspicious smile.
"Are you on crack?" The question left my lips all too quickly, a long time habit that'll be hard to curb. Well, she did smile at me, what was I to think?
"Danielle!" I heard my mother admonition.
"Sorry." I mumbled and before turning back, Natalie's narrowed eyes was enough to make me gloat. It was then that I noticed that loser had taken the seat next to Tyrone.
"What are you doing?" I mouthed.
"What?" He wasn't as subtle, which made the twins look at us.
"You're supposed to go back to your seat." I pointed at the empty space beside Natalie.
"You don't know what you're asking so I'll pretend I didn't hear that." Was loser's reply. I wanted to smack him in the face but he knowingly knew that I couldn't in this congregation.
"All please stand." A melodic voice filled the place.
Everyone stood, so I followed suit and tried not to entertain thoughts of revenge while the service was going on. It was hard. Very, very hard.
The twins were in perfect behavior all throughout the service but loser still kept giving them worried looks.
During the offertory, I locked eyes with one so green. He sat about twenty-five feet away, sitting on the opposite pew. His black hair was longer than most guys that he had to tie it. It had been some time that I had found a knockout like him. His widows' peak was my weakness.
Even during and after my scrutiny, he still stared. A normal person would have looked away at being found out. But this guy, he just... Stared.
I gave him a frown but then he grinned. That heart pounding white-toothed grin that had me on my guard at once..
He freaked me out. He maybe my type but he was still 'freak show' to me.
I turned to loser who was staring questioningly at my preoccupation. "Is it just me or is that guy staring..."
"What guy?" He asked looking back at the direction I was staring earlier.
I turned to look but the freak had turned back to the mass and looked as if nothing happened. As if he wasn't staring at me a minute ago.
"Delusional." I heard loser mutter, when he got a good look at the freak.
"What did you just say?" I hissed.
He winced at my tone. "Shh.. We're in church."
"Do you really think that would stop me?" I gritted out.
"I didn't mean it. I'm sorry." He apologized quickly, afraid I would make a scene.
"Just because you don't get want you want from her, doesn't mean that you can stupidly take it out on me, knowing that I would strike back." I said evenly.
He sighed at that. I had him there and he knew it.
I looked away from him and found the twins staring at us.
"Are you fighting?" Tyler asked.
"No. We're just talking." I said quickly.
"How that lie quickly comes to you." He muttered.
"That's strike two. One more and you're out." I gritted out, holding on to the edge of my patience.
"I'll shut up now." He said, turning back to the mass.
"Good choice." I muttered doing the same.
"I think so thoo." Tyrone agreed, nodding his head to his uncle.
Smart kid, I thought and gave the imp a smile.
At the end of the service, almost everyone gathered around the front steps and made idle chat. I was dragged by the twins who I must admit were adorable and angelic. If all kids were like them, I may rethink my decision about babysitting. They both had taken hold of my hands and I let myself be dragged as they followed their dad to their car. Jhonny on the other hand followed us closely from behind, eyeing the twins speculatively.
"I won't kidnap them if that's what you're thinking." I muttered, my mood lightening at the twin's presence.
"That's not what I'm afraid of." He said all too knowingly that made me look at him in question. That prompted him to explain. "You don't know them like I do."
"I know you. They can't be worse." I said, smiling at Tyrone who was smiling up at me almost adoringly.
"You have no idea." He said so seriously that made me second guess my impression of the twins.
I looked down at the two but they looked like normal toddlers having fun on a Sunday morning. It occurred to me then that he was pulling my leg but Natalie's obvious anticipation at the service changed my mind.
Throughout the service she had been giving us mindful stares and awkward smiles when I caught her. I never returned any of it though. Could these two dwarfs be as troublesome as they think?
I won't be surprised if they were though. They are, after all, of the same blood. I felt a tug on my left hand and looked down to see Tyler looking up with clear blue eyes. "Will you be here next week?"
"Uh... I'm not really sure." Who knows what my mom would be thinking next week...
"We will be. You should come." Tyrone said, nodding his head.
"I'll see what I can do." I said, mentally cursing myself as they took that as a promise.
I looked at Jhonny who was still following us but was cut short at the confused look he had on his face.
"What's wrong with you?" I asked, not too nicely.
"Not me, them." He inclined his head to the two toddlers who were tugging on my hand, asking for a kiss.
"Their just kids." I said nonchalantly, belatedly realizing how kids their age can be. I gave them each an obligatory kiss on their cheeks before helping them up to their car. Their dad was there, making sure their seatbelts were secure, almost giving us no notice.
"There's no gum in your hair." I heard Natalie say from behind, wonder in her voice.
"Nope." I said with a smile, convinced that the twins liked me enough not to pull pranks on me.
"They behaved the entire service." Jhonny said, his tone unbelieving.
"That's impossible." She said, looking at me in confusion before giving me a calculating look from head to foot.
"You're exaggerating. They're just kids." I shrugged.
Mike chuckled at that, letting us know that he was listening all the while. "I think I know what's going on."
Both Jhonny at Natalie turned to him and asked, "Well?" almost in a chorus.
"They found their first crush." He said, winking at me before heading towards his wife who was barraged with congratulations and advices on her second pregnancy, taking it for granted that we were there to look after the two imps.
"They what?!" Natalie asked incredulously staring at the twins who where giving me impish smiles.
"I guess that explains it." I said.
She turned to me and was about to say something when loser stopped her.
"Why not?" She asked almost petulantly.
"I'm already on strike two." He said as if that was explanation enough, looking around at the parking lot which was still occupied by church goers.
"Strike two?" She asked, her tone more confused than she was minutes ago.
I shook my head and decided to let them settle this on their own. I waved goodbye to the kids and left the other two without a word.
I heard a smack and an 'Ow' coming from Jhonny. I hope she hit him hard.
I then saw Janie wave at me. Mike had his arm on her back, matching her slow, careful steps. I met them halfway.
She stopped and said with a smile. "I hope they weren't much trouble."
"They weren't." I said, smiling back.
"You can say that now but it always is a challenge when it comes to the them. Especially now that I can't keep up." She chuckled, smoothing her hand over her bulging tummy.
"How far along are you?" I asked, pointedly looking at her bulge.
"Six months now. I'm starting to slowly resemble a cow again." She said jokingly.
"It's alright honey. I'll call you Belle in a few weeks." Mike said jokingly.
She punched his arm, turning playful. I don't know why but most people name their cows Belle. Maybe it's the fixation with the cartoon character.
"You know, I believe I've never seen you in a dress before, except when you were younger. It looks good." She said nodding.
"Yeah, well. Moms and skirts." I said in a resigned tone.
"I remember that one too." She chuckled.
"You and Jhonny must be really close now. I don't remember you two talking civilly before. Are you...?" She left the question hanging.
"No. No. Not in this lifetime." I said, shaking my head vehemently.
She chuckled at that. "I'll take your word for it. We must get going then. See you next week."
"Yeah. See you." I mumbled before looking around to find my mom. I found her chatting with Mrs. Simmons who lived a few blocks away from us. I waited for ten more minutes before deciding to pull my mom off her clutches.
Once in the car, I heard her mutter. "Thank God. You got me out of there just in time."
I chuckled at that. My mom had stayed clear of Mrs. Simmons when the lady spread throughout the neighborhood that my parents were getting divorced. I guess this means where not coming back next week.
"Before I forget, there'll be a potluck next week and we're bringing corn." She added before starting the car.
Oh, well, it was wishful thinking. "Why corn?"
"I don't know. Everybody was bringing something or another. It was the only thing I could think off." She shrugged.
And that was that. We then headed over to La Bella's, a nearby popular restaurant, for lunch before heading back home.
Monday came and Homeroom was again packed with overzealous teenagers catching up as if they didn't see each other last Saturday or talked over the phone the entire weekend.
"Idiots." I muttered before settling on my seat. I don't see the point. I have friends but we don't spend all of our time together neither do we regale each other with every single freaking thing that happens in our lives.
The third bell then rang and the morons settled on their seats. The door opened and in came Ms. Grove. She was as ancient as this school and was smiling at the moment as if she had a treat for us.
Yeah right. It's Homeroom and I'm not an idiot.
Maybe she came up with a replacement for her 'marriage projects' which, by the way, everyone abhorred. Believe me, we did it last year, it left lasting results.
I got divorced at the age of seventeen. I must have left quite an expression to my fake husband because he moved to a boarding school after that.
Yeah, well I almost broke his jaw. He had the gall to ask for his marital rights. Idiot. As if that wasn't enough, he followed me home, thinking he could change my mind. It took one look at NatJo and he started running.
He asked for a divorce the next day.
Ms. Grove took one look at him and granted it.
I can still hear the snickers he had to endure the rest of the year, the idiot.
I guess that put an end to Ms. Grove's 'marriage projects'. At least until I graduate. I grinned at the thought, belatedly noticing that someone had followed Ms. Grove inside. I gave him a passing glance but immediately looked back when I realized who it was.
The freak at church. He ran a glance across the room and stopped when his eyes caught mine. He then broke into a grin, seeing a familiar face.
Some people stared at him then gave me curious glances when they noticed him singling me out. He then shifted his hold on his backpack and I saw the skateboard that was half out. It was my escape.
I started to sing softly but enough to be heard by everyone. "He was a skater boy, she said see you later boy..."
Chuckles erupted from all over the room and the freak winced at that.
"Ms. Hart!" Ms. Grove's eyes flashed threateningly and I knew what was going to follow.
"Yes?" I asked nonchalantly, grinning as I asked.
She started to open her mouth but changed her mind and shook her head at me instead. A warning, I should have taken but didn't. Well, I've been through worse and besides I'm a regular.
She turned to the freak behind her and gave him an apologetic smile before addressing the class. "As you can see, we have a new face in class. He's a transferee from California and he will be with us for the rest of the year. This is Nichols Loveless.
"Loveless? Are you serious?" I asked incredulously before bursting into laughter.
"Detention!" Ms. Grove yelled for all she was worth.
I shrugged, not bothering to hide my smirk. Hey, if I was going to get detention, I might as well have fun while I'm at it.
"Mr. Loveless," She started but this caused a few chuckles from behind and I even chuckled myself. Poor Guy. Ms. Grove cleared her throat and cast a quelling glance at the rest of the class, causing them to shut their traps. That accomplished, she turned back to him and said, "You may take any of the vacant seats at the back."
He nodded then headed over to the seat by the fifth row, thankfully away from my seat by the window on the third row.
I heard Vince Stanton, singing the "Skater Boi" song again which caused a few chuckles.
"Alright, settle down!" Ms. Grove yelled. The class was quiet again. She then started explaining about a month long project we will be making by ourselves. I mentally cackled with glee.
The bell rang and the rest of the class rushed out of the room. I hate crowds so I took my time in fixing my stuff, arranging them by length and hight on my bag, packing my pens on a case last before putting it inside the bag.
"Obsessive Compulsive..." I heard the newbie say, his deep voice jarring me out of my concentration.
I turned to him and raised an eyebrow, "What? You're too scared to return the favor by attacking me in public so you resort to waiting until I'm alone? Very original." I said with rancor.
"You are the most disturbing..."
"It's okay. If I were you, I'd feel sorry for me too." I interrupted, patting his shoulder. I started to walk away but couldn't resist adding over my shoulder, "Look at it on the bright side. At least it wasn't Lovefool!"
Hi (dodging tomatoes),
Sorry this took so long. I was caught up in a lot of things but I kept the inspiration though, my very little notebook (which is 3 inches tall) can attest to that. Hehehe.
I was working on and off on this chapter because I kept on swinging back and forth between CM and this one. Yeah, I'm a lunatic.
Anyway, I will probably be updating this religiously now that I have this chapter up. :-)
Again, please R&R.