Keep It a Secret
I turned my head slightly and let out a whoosh of air between my parted lips. The night was descending steadily on us and I could hear the loud chatter and laughter inside the house. I leaned forward and glanced up at the sky with a slight smile on my face. It was moments was this that cleared my mind and my thoughts and made me feel sane…
The door behind me creaked and opened, accompanied by a pair of footsteps echoing on the wooden porch. I felt my back tense before I forced myself to relax.
"I booked that," came his relaxed, joking voice before I felt his body heat mingling with my skin. I smelt his faint cologne, shampoo, and his own personal musky scent that made my insides turn all warm. I gripped the porch railing tighter, and I was already smiling slightly when I turned my head to face him.
I cut myself off when I saw what he was holding. I stared pointedly at the fag in his hand and he sighed. I leaned back. "You promised that you'd quit," I said, quirking an eyebrow. "Going against your word?"
He crushed it in his hand in a beat. "It's an automatic reaction," he muttered and glanced hesitantly at the pack in his hand. Without saying anything, I held my hand out and watched in satisfaction as he handed it over silently.
"Good job," I chirped. He scowled before looking at me and a grin was on his face before I could blink. "I don't even know why you keep buying them," I scolded and pocketed the pack.
"I stole them from Jacob," he said, referring to his cousin. I nodded once and silently continued to glance forward at the backyard before my eyes found the sky once again. I felt his eyes on me, but I refuse to make anything out of it. "You really like the sky, huh?"
My lips curled but I quelled the reaction down. "The stars," I said simply. I glanced at him for a quick second.
He looked thoughtful. "Hm, yeah," he mused. "The first time I saw you, you were staring at the sky, on the beach…" he trailed off. I didn't bother saying anything because I didn't trust myself to say words just yet. He chuckled quietly and shifted, shoving his hands inside his winter jacket. "It was night, and everyone was around the bonfire or dancing… but you chose to sit on sand and stare at the sky."
My lips were firmly shut as I felt the familiar fire spread through my chest, and for one second, I allowed myself to feel happy that he actually remembered that day.
"You were talking to yourself," he recalled. "And you had a book with you. You're the only person I know who'd actually bring three books to a beach." His voice was teasing and I heard the smile in his voice.
Despite myself, I smiled. "I don't do good in large crowds," I said, laughing a little as I ran a hand through my hair unconsciously. A habit of mine when I'm really nervous.
"I can tell."
I swerved a little on my feet and I turned my head away from him. I was shivering hard, but I knew it wasn't because of the cold. I automatically stepped away from him and shoved my hands into my pockets. "How's the Christmas party hanging?" I asked, feeling like it was my turn to speak.
"Eh," he shrugged. "I'm full," he commented, patting his flat stomach. Usually I would smirk and comment on how fat he was but I didn't say anything this time. Instead, I smiled at him, showing him that I heard before averting my eyes when he was about to lock gazes. "The parents are showing baby pictures," he said after a moment, filling in the silence.
"Thankfully it's not my house," I sighed.
He chuckled. "Nor mine. I wouldn't be able to bare it."
I had to smile. "I wonder how Keisha's taking it."
"Groaning, moaning… basically in agony. That's when I decided to leave her in misery."
I scoffed, "Some friend you are."
"The greatest." His eyes twinkled and an irresistible smile filled his features. I turned away again and suddenly felt my stomach drop and my body felt cold all over. I closed my eyes longer than necessary before I swivelled around without thinking.
"I have to pee," I said bluntly.
"Jeez, normal girls don't say that."
I stopped walking, my back facing him and I smiled at the screen door before it fell flat and the familiar cold feeling swept into my chest, leaving me empty.
"Not normal," I managed to say before I disappeared into the house.
"I figured," I heard his reply.
I turned a corner of the hallway and stood still before shaking myself and breathed out to regain my senses. He always managed to get under my skin and through my guard without me even realizing. At first I figured it was because of his personality, his behaviour, just basically the way he is… but then when it didn't leave under certain circumstances, I realized it was something totally different.
I took in a shaky breath and made my way upstairs for some privacy; something I'd hope to achieve outside, but fell futile when he appeared. I hesitantly stopped in front of a certain door before knocking once. When I didn't hear anything, I pushed the door open and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that no one was present. She wouldn't mind, right?
I closed the door behind me.
Before I was knocked forward when it opened and slammed against my rear end.
I hid my groan. I glared at the floor, asking it what I ever did to deserve this, before sighing and stood up on my feet. I felt strong yet gentle hands on my upper arm and I instantly froze and pushed away, muttering, "Sorry."
"You," he said, his voice surprised before he recovered. "You told me you were gonna piss," he accused. I shrugged, not bothering to hide anything this time.
"I lied," I said shortly. He stared at me, stunned, before smirking to himself whilst shaking his head. I'm not even going to ask him about that. Sighing, I stepped back, inwardly thinking of ways to excuse myself. "So what're you doing here?" I demanded whilst crossing my arms over my chest. "This is a girl's room."
"Not yours," he pointed out. I pursed my lips, knowing he was right. "Besides, it's not like I've never been here before," he shrugged.
I wrinkled my nose. "Didn't need to know that."
He gave off a confused look before realization dawned on his face and his expression grew horrified. "God, no - I didn't mean it like that!"
My facial expression didn't betray my thoughts. Instead, I smiled teasingly and turned my head. "I know, calm down." I moved away from him and sat at the edge of a bed after I turned the lights on in the room.
I learned a lot of things in a short period of time of knowing him.
One thing is that he can read your eyes better than you can register your emotions. It was a gift, in his case, but a curse for me.
"So you're avoiding me," he announced after making himself comfortable on the floor, his back leaning against the side of the bed. I'd pulled up my legs and sat Indian-style, leaning against the wall, whilst we both stared at the wall in front of us.
"You're lying," he said simply.
My lips twisted and I gripped the bed comforter tighter. "You caught me," I said flatly. "I'm lying. Sorry."
"You really don't sound sorry," he murmured and I felt my heart thud painfully, reminding me of something important that always seemed to slip from my mind. I let out a breath. I need to get out of here.
"I am," I said, already standing up. "I'm hungry," I said quickly when his head whipped to face me. I offered him a tight smile and slipped away before he had the chance to say anything. I was barely two steps out the door when I felt him behind me and my breath caught.
"Then you won't mind if I joined you?" he said casually, closing the lights and door behind us. I was frozen, staring down the hallway unseeingly.
"No," I said hollowly and my legs were already walking towards the kitchen.
I was fast-walking and we both knew it, but I couldn't seem to stop myself. Something was tugging inside me and I just had to get away from him as soon as possible, but he was making it difficult.
"No seriously," he said, sounding too close. I abruptly felt hands enclosing on my own and I swear my lungs were about to collapse. I stared desperately down the hallway before forcing myself to look at him. I found myself staring into his serious and worry-filled eyes. "Why are you avoiding me?"
"I'm not," I said easily, my eyes flickering back and forth. I felt bouncy. I needed to get away from him. I felt his hand tighten and I knew he wasn't going to make this any easier. I forced myself to look at him. "I'm not," I repeated.
"You're lying," he said simply, yet again.
I didn't say anything because it was true. It was too late, because the feeling that I managed to lock away began to spread through my chest and it was difficult to breathe. I felt numb and I couldn't move.
We just stood there, staring at each other, his hands still around mine, whilst I desperately tried to feel anything besides the numbing pain shooting in my body.
"Can you let go of my hand?" I whispered.
He held my eyes. "No." He lowered his gaze, "Answer me first," he murmured.
I didn't need to because someone walked past us, giving me just enough time to yank my hand and turn my heel. I let out a breath when I was finally far enough from him to breathe. I made it into the crowded area and inwardly cheered, knowing he wouldn't pressure me into answering such a ludicrous question in a room full of people.
"Have you seen Keisha?" a familiar boy asked, who also happened to be said girl's little brother. Smiling, I ruffled his hair and shook my head.
"Sorry. I'm actually looking for her, right now to be exact," I said, turning my head to look for the face. I looked back at him. "If you see her, tell her I need to speak to her, okay?"
He scrunched his face cutely and nodded. "You're her best friend. You're supposed to know," he scolded my. Laughing, I poked his cheek.
"Well, you're her brother and you live here. The blame is on you more."
"I said it first!" he yelled over his shoulder before disappearing off somewhere. Smiling, I shook my head and turned to the refreshment table. I filled my small plate with a few sliced fruits and chocolate chip cookies.
Keisha happened to be my best friend. I've known her since elementary school and we were so alike, yet so different. We both cared like hell for our school grades, we were into the same music, and we both had a passion for writing. Little quirks separated us from being exactly alike, but other aspects also made us so much the same.
We were both generally sarcastic to other people. We loved reading and writing. We want to work in the medical field. We've always dreamed of our perfect fairytale…
But at the same time, little things made us opposites. I loved chocolate, and she preferred candy. She loved the morning with the sun, but I favoured the night sky with the moon and stars. She'd rather go shopping than spending her free time at the library, something that I'd do (even though she loved that place as well).
We've been best friends for thirteen years, and I know we'll continue being friends in the future.
"Penny for your thoughts?"
I looked up and saw Keisha's aunt smiling warmly at me. Swallowing my food, I smiled at her and quickly shook my head. "Ah… I was just staring blankly into space," I said.
"While smiling?" she raised an eyebrow.
She laughed and I had to laugh as well. "I'm going to take a stab at it, but I'm guessing it's about a guy," she said suddenly.
I choked. "Pardon me?"
"You're distracted, love," she said, smiling. "You have this distracted look on your face."
"Not everything is about a guy," I said sourly. She patted my back gently and I sighed. "It's nothing. I have it solved." I poked my cookie for a while, before looking up. "I'm changing schools next year so…" After winter break to be exact.
She cocked her head and frowned. "How come I haven't heard this from Keisha? She's always telling us about you." Guilt gnawed at me and I swallowed hard and offered a weak smile.
"I haven't told her yet…" I inhaled quickly. "We promised that we'd graduate high school together but I really… and I mean really have a good reason. We're still going to the same University, so that isn't bad, right?"
Her aunt stared at me for a moment. "All that for a guy?"
I felt cold at her words. "No," I said, my voice quiet. "I… I've always wanted to go to this school."
Her aunt made sounds of understanding, but I wasn't sure if she believed me. She stood up when someone called her, gave me a smile before walking off after giving me a hug. I watched her leave, giving off a huge sigh of relief and slumped into my seat, nibbling on my cookie idly as I replayed my responses in my head.
"So. Changing schools, huh?"
I felt my heart leap to my throat and I absolutely froze in shock when I heard those words. I quickly put my plate down and turned just in time to see him sit down in the vacant seat next to me. I made a move to stand but he shot me a cold look that clammed me up. He never looked at me like that.
I bit on my tongue, hard, before sighing loudly. "Eavesdropping is horrible," I said aloud.
"I don't give a shit," he said bluntly. I flinched involuntarily. He noticed his and his features softened a little. "When…" he hesitated before dropping his gaze to the cup he was holding. "When did this happen?"
I shrugged. "Few days ago." A few weeks ago.
I saw his hand tighten and I felt warm inside before pushing that feeling away. "Why didn't you tell us?"
I stared at the crowd of people. I looked at the Christmas tree and the TV playing loudly in the living room with little kids captivated by the animation. "I was going to," I said flatly.
He sighed, "Don't make me say the L word again."
I smirked a little. "You would find out anyway when I don't come to class for a month." He frowned at me and my smirk grew. "Don't worry, I would've told Keisha and you would've found out either way."
I grew silent, silently thinking of an acceptable answer to that. I idly took my cookie and began eating it. "The classes," I finally said. "I want a different atmosphere before I set off for University."
"Friends don't do this to friends," he finally muttered.
I sucked in a breath and stood up. "I need fresh air," I excused myself yet again and abruptly walked away from him. I heard him call my name but I didn't stop until I reached the porch outside and instantly looked up at the sky.
I heard the screen door slam open and shut and loud footsteps.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" his frustrated voice reached my ears from right behind me. "Why the hell do you keep running away from me?!"
He scoffed, not bothering with the jokes. "Don't lie. I'm sick of it." He moved forward and I scooted and he shot me a dark look. "Like that!" He exhaled loudly and I felt lousy. "Did I do something? Did I make you upset? Just what?"
"Nothing!" I blurted in a snap. "You didn't do anything. Just, please, stop asking."
He grew silent. I shoved my hands into my pockets again and closed my eyes after lowering my gaze. I felt pressure at the back of my eyes but I desperately forced the feeling away from my system. Why did I even feel the need to cry? I thought bitterly, trying not to reach up and wipe my cheeks. This was stupid.
"I have something for you," he suddenly said. I checked my emotions and turned around, blank-faced. He had an indifferent face as well and I bet he had no idea how much I was hurting inside. I watched him check the insides of his jacket for a while before producing a rolled up sheet of paper.
"What is it?" I asked calmly. I was thankful that my voice didn't waver.
He held his hand out and I took it.
I shot him a curious look, even when I tried stopping myself. Frowning a little, I slowly untied the ribbon and unravelled the paper. I read slowly.
International Star Registry…
Wide-eyed, I looked up at him. He shrugged, but he was watching my face carefully. "I got a star named after you." We both took it in. I tried stopping myself from shivering and the forceful sound of my blood rushing in my ear. "Merry Christmas," he said quietly.
"I thought you forgot my present," I said breathlessly. When we opened our presents, he apologized to me carelessly that he seemed to have left mine at his house. I didn't think much of it, even when Keisha smiled brighter than the sun when she received hers.
He shrugged, fingering something in his pocket as well. "I lied," he said shortly. I snorted at his words, feeling my eyes go wet and I knew a sob was rising to my throat so I swallowed thickly whilst rolling the sheet of paper up.
"Thanks," I breathed out lowly. I looked down quickly to the sheet of paper; the exact location of my star was written down, and an official certificate packaged it all. I clenched my free hand. "I'm really thankful," I murmured. I wanted to hug him. I had to…
But I couldn't.
"That's not it," he said, his voice slightly hesitant. Startled, I looked at him and saw him slowly take his hand out of his pocket. He opened a silver box and my breath caught again. It was a star shaped pendant on a necklace with my name engraved in the middle. He caught my look and smirked slightly. "You think that your present's only a sheet of paper?"
"I…" I didn't know what to say.
His smirk grew a little and took the pendant out of its place carefully. "Turn around."
I did and he gently placed it around my neck and locked it from the back. I felt the coolness of the necklace settle on my skin and I breathed out slowly, feeling slightly hazy. I turned back around and saw him staring right at me. We were inches apart.
"Thank you," I said quietly with more feeling put into those two words than I can ever put into any other ones.
Our gazes locked.
"Hey, you two!" The screen door suddenly slammed opened and Keisha stepped out with a bright smile on her beautiful face. "God, I was stuck wrenching my baby pictures from my mom." She rolled her eyes playfully. Her face slipped into one with worry once she noticed our silence. "You guys okay?"
I had taken huge steps back when I first heard the door open. I looked up from the ground, my smile already on my face. "Of course." I didn't look at him. "Hey, did your brother find you?"
"What?" she said before nodding as she remembered. "Yeah, he said you wanted to talk to me."
Still smiling, I walked over to her, the pendant heavy on my neck, before I engulfed her into a hug. "Merry Christmas, girl," I whispered, squeezing her before letting go. My eyes were hooded, and I knew I needed a good cry when I got home. "I'm heading home, all right?"
"What? Already?" She frowned, glancing between us. "Did something happen?" She looked worried before glaring at him. "Were you rude to her again?"
"No!" I said. He didn't say anything. "No," I repeated and smiled at her. "I'm kind of tired, you know?" She nodded slowly. My smile felt heavy and fake as I turned back to him to say goodbye. If I had it my way I would've just walked away. But I couldn't.
My face softened a little but settled easily when his eyes flickered to my face. He had an unreadable expression on his face. Instead of hugging him, I held my hand out. I knew Keisha had a bemused look on her face.
He looked at my hand before slowly lifting his own. "Merry Christmas," I whispered, not meeting his eyes. "Thank you." He knew what for.
He grasped my hand and shook once and I felt fire. "Merry Christmas," he repeated, his voice blank and hallow. I pulled away, ready to turn around. But then he said: "Will I… we," he muttered, "will we see you on Monday?"
"Why wouldn't we?" Keisha murmured confusedly.
I stopped in front of the screen door before smirking to myself a little, already feeling the tears leak out. "Maybe," I said decisively before stepping into the house.
I took three steps before pausing and chanced a glance over my shoulder, just in time to see Keisha step into her boyfriend's arms and pull him down for a kiss.
He pulled away and saw me from over his girlfriend's shoulder.
I lifted my hand into one last wave. I turned around without looking back, with my hand still tightly holding onto the sheet of paper whilst I ignore my heart shattering into a million pieces all over again.
Author's note: I haven't written anything in a long time and I just started typing this after a got a tugging feeling every time I heard Jesse McCartney's Just So You Know. So this one shot is based off that. Give it some lovin' (: Oh, and feel free to point out stupid mistakes I didn't catch.
Disclaimer: International Star Registry is not own by me, obviously.