Chapter 11: Suppose They Started Dating

Somewhere during the narration of Michael's never-ending, severely mutated, anecdote of our first meeting, I fell asleep. When I woke a while later, my head was resting against the window next to my seat. As I blinked my eyes open, I reflexively brought up a hand to shield them from the harsh sunlight, and looked away from the window, towards the seat next to me. Michael sat there, grinning.

"You're awake. Finally."

I rubbed the sleep and disorientation out of my eyes with the back of my hands. "How long have I been out?"

"Nearly an hour. I almost woke you up a couple of times, though. You snore." He looked utterly pleased with himself for having divulged that particular piece of information to me.

I stretched out my hands and feet as much as was possible in the cramped little space and shook my head at him. "No, I don't"

"Yes, you do." He said, nodding. His grin had turned undeniably playful.

I was cranky after the nap, and definitely not in the mood to play. I gave him a quick glare. "No, I don't. I've been told that I don't snore."

He chuckled. "You shouldn't always believe what the girls from the slumber party gang and family members tell you, Kaaya. They tend to lie."

I felt my irritation rising at his presumptuousness. "I've been told that I don't snore by the guys I've slept with."

Immediately his smile turned into a frown of surprise. "The guys you've slept with?"

It was odd. But, somehow, the fact that he was no longer teasing me, and taken aback instead, turned my irritation into satisfaction and even slight pleasure. My smile and look were both almost sadistically triumphant in nature. "Don't look so shocked, Michael. I've been in two very long and very steady relationships. Of course, I've slept with my past boyfriends."

He swallowed and nodded grimly. "Of course." Then, after a pause, he said, "so, there was just the two of them, then?"

"Yes." I wasn't terribly experienced when it came to sex. I'd only ever slept with my two boyfriends, unlike Michael, who, if the rumors were to be even slightly trusted, had slept with half the girls in our grade, if not more. He was definitely not lacking in experience. It was a sobering thought. One that easily chased the triumph away.

It was almost as if he took relief in my limited experience. "So, one of them must have been the infamous Jason." I nodded and he continued. "Who was the other?"

There was no reason to not tell him. "His name was Matthew and he was this old family friend I'd known for years. We dated for an entire year before we parted ways." I smiled at the thought of him. "He was sweet. A bit of a nerd, but, sweet. He was my first boyfriend ever."

When Michael asked his next question, his tone was almost nonchalant. "Was he your first?"

Obviously, he was referring to sex. Again, I smiled at the memory. "Yes. It was everything it should have been. Tender at moments, mostly sweet, and largely awkward. But, since I'd known him for years, it felt familiar too."

He was frowning again, but his voice remained neutral. "And sex with Jason?"

I fidgeted with my hands and looked down at my feet. I didn't like to discuss Jason with people. Nevertheless, I answered. "Sex with Jason was pleasant. It was decent." And it was. Sex with him had been quite nice.

For a minute Michael looked upset, almost as if my answer had disturbed him. Then, within no time, he recovered, his smile brilliant. He took hold of my hand and tugged me closer. "When we have sex, my pirate, and we will have sex, it won't be 'sweet' and 'awkward' or 'pleasant' and 'decent'. It will be mind-blowing, and hot, and passionate."

It was impossible to look away from the intensity in his eyes. Just the way he was looking at me, with blatant hunger, had me aroused. I tried to chalk it up to my ridiculously hormonal, sex-deprived, body, but my brain knew better. It was because of Michael.

Fortunately, Nancy interrupted us before I said or did anything stupid. "Would you guys like a beer?" She asked, standing behind Michael and holding several frosted bottles in her hand.

Shaken out of the moment, I immediately freed my hand from Michael's grasp and pulled away. I glanced at Nancy and nodded enthusiastically in answer to her question. Anything to distract me from the boy sitting next to me.

Michael smiled on noting my reaction and pulled out two bottles from Nancy's hands, thanked her, and handed me a bottle, while keeping one for himself.

For a while we sat in silence, sipping our beers, him trying to sneak glances at me, and me trying to avoid looking at him altogether. Then, he initiated, what I can only describe as, an enlightening conversation.

"Suppose we started dating." His tone was part contemplative and part humorous.

I turned to give him a stern, disapproving look, in hopes of deterring him from carrying out the rest of this conversation.

In response, he smiled attractively, and for a moment, my breath hitched. "Obviously not now, since, you know, you don't find me attractive enough and all."

I smiled approvingly at him to encourage what, both of us knew, was obviously nothing more than a poor lie.

He took my response as permission to proceed. "But, say, sometime, in the future, when you lower your standards a bit, suppose we started dating. Do you think we'd have a peaceful sort of a relationship?"

I'm pretty sure my expression must have conveyed the disbelief I was feeling.

He seemed to agree that it might be a tad bit more turbulent than that. "No? Then, there'd be fights? Insults, abuses, curses? A kick here, a punch there, maybe even a cool kung fu move, or two? Who knows?"

I tried to suppress the smile I felt hinting at the corner of my mouth and took a sip of my beer.

"But, I'd like to make this absolutely clear, right here, right now. When we have fights, I will not run after you to make peace. You will run after me, to apologize, and, if I'm in a good mood, I might decide to forgive you." Michael put the bottle in his hand to his lips and took, what appeared to be, a victory sip.

The egotistical bastard actually thought that I would run after him. I pulled a face at him. "You're an absolute moron if you think that I'm going to come after you and beg for your forgiveness after we have a fight."

I think the fact that I actually contributed to his little fantasy surprised him into choking on his beer. After a brief coughing fit, he turned to me with a brilliantly pleased smile. "Then, I'd have to beg for your forgiveness? Okay, say I was willing to do that. What would be the best way to achieve the purpose? Flowers? Candy? Jewelry?

I shook my head at each of his suggestions.

"Then?" He leaned slightly closer, waiting for an answer.

"What do you hate doing the most, Michael?"

He thought about it for a second before replying. "I hate working out. I mean, I have to do it, to keep fit, but I absolutely hate it."

Obviously, his lean body was the result of a grueling work out. "And which particular exercise do you hate the most?"

"I hate push ups. Last year, I was in the football team and I quit because the coach used to make us do fifty damn push ups everyday, as part of our warm up routine." He made a face at the memory.

I gave him the evilest smile I could muster. "Then every time we have a fight, and you want me to forgive you, you'll have to do a hundred push ups."

He looked horrified. "A hundred push ups?"

Smiling, I nodded. He took a big gulp of his beer before speaking again. "You know what? Fine. I'll do the damn push ups. But I want some awesome make up sex afterwards. And maybe even a strip show to go with."

I started blushing profusely at his words and turned to look out the window in order to hide my embarrassment. I should never have partaken in this ridiculous fantasy of his in the first place. But, as usual, I had gotten caught up.

I heard a grunt from somewhere behind Michael, and turned to find Nancy struggling to push the cooler, that had contained the beers she had handed out earlier, under her seat. Seeing her having a hard time, Michael helped her, and as she took her seat, the two began to discuss football, a topic I had no interest in.

I dug out a book from the bag below my seat and settled down to read. Twenty minutes, and a chapter, later, Michael nudged me with his elbow. "Why are you reading? Put the book away and talk to me."

I looked up from the book and at Michael. "Do you like football, Michael?"

He nodded enthusiastically.

I smiled politely and pointed at the book in my lap. "I like to read."

"Fair enough." And for the next hour Michael did not bother me again. He spoke to Nancy, and the rest of everyone in the bus, but he did not speak to me again until I put my book down. I had to give him credit for that.

But the minute I shut the book, he was there. He placed an arm around my shoulders and pulled me close to his side. I looked at the arm and then up at him and raised an eyebrow in question.

He mirrored my actions. "What is it, my fair lady? Is someone bothering you?" He raised his other hand and placed it against his chest. "You just have to tell me, my lady, and I, your valiant knight, will chase all your troubles away."

I put a hand to my head and massaged my temple. "Almost three billion men in the world, and I get stuck with the craziest of the lot." I muttered under my breath.

Even though he heard every single word I'd said, he let out a very loud, "did you say something?"

My lips curved in a tight smile. "No, nothing." I said, shaking my head. "Nothing at all."

"I thought so." He paused to yawn. "You know, I'm feeling quite sleepy. I hate getting up in the morning. I only managed to get eight hours of sleep last night."

I studied him in surprise after considering his words. "That's a lot."

He shrugged. "I like sleeping." And within a few minutes of that he fell asleep that way, with his arm around my shoulders, and his head resting against the back rest of the seat.

I was amused at this latest difference between us. Earlier during the bus ride, I had fallen asleep due to sheer exhaustion caused by my frequent insomnia attacks. Michael, on the other hand, had just fallen asleep because his eight hours of sleep had left him unsatisfied.

My dad had once told me that people who slept soundly, and enjoyed their sleep, had absolutely nothing to worry about. But those who lay awake at night had something to agonize over.

Michael slept through the rest of the bus ride. And he did not snore, not even softly.

I lay back on the bed beneath me, resting my head against the pillows and stared at the ceiling above.

Nancy's holiday villa was much larger than I expected it to be. It was split into two levels. The lower level contained a kitchen, a living room with a bar, a dining room, a TV room, two bedrooms with attached toilets and a phenomenal garden on the outside.

Aside from the landing of the grand staircase that led away from the lower level, the upper level also contained six bedrooms, two master bedrooms with attached toilets, and four other bedrooms with two toilets in sharing. A common balcony ran all around the perimeter of the outside of the upper level, and a staircase that led to the terrace was located at the end of the hall.

As soon as we'd arrived, Nancy had spent a good hour allotting rooms and helping her guests settle in herself, since she had dismissed all the servants of the house for the weekend in order to achieve optimum privacy levels. Because there were eight rooms and nineteen people, I had definitely been expecting to share a room with someone.

However, since the TV room had also been converted into a makeshift bedroom, and Natalie and her three friends had decided to share the master bedroom at the other end of the hall, I had ended up alone in the room at one end of the hall, next to the staircase, that led to the terrace.

The room was beautiful, it's antiqueness accentuated by the four post bed I was resting on. To my left was the exit to the balcony and to my right was the door leading to the toilet I would be sharing with my neighbors.

My neighbors were none other than our tattooed bus driver, Mr. Blake, and the person who I'd recently discovered could sleep through an earthquake, Mr. Michael Slate.

Michael had helped Nancy out with the allotting process, and I had no doubt that he had something to do with us being neighbors and sharing a common bathroom. While they had sorted out the sleeping arrangements, the rest of us had explored the house and gotten something to eat.

That had been over an hour ago. It was now four o' clock and Nancy had given us till six to settle in, freshen up, change and get our asses downstairs to start partying.

I jumped off the bed, grabbed my toiletries from my unpacked bag and headed over to the bathroom to freshen up. I also needed to pee.

As I turned the knob and pushed open the door, I could hear the tap running, which really should have alerted me to the fact that the toilet was already in use. But, the stupid human brain is completely incapable of registering that an unlocked room might just be occupied, without visual proof.

And visual proof I was given. Michael stood there, in front of the mirror, washing his face, his upper body naked, and his lower body covered by a towel, which rested on his hips. For a minute, I couldn't look away. In fact, I'm pretty sure my mouth must have dropped open slightly, as my breath hitched.

His exercise routine must have really been suiting him, if his back muscles were anything to go by. His biceps, his broad shoulders, his back and his narrow, tapering waist were toned to absolute perfection.

Before I could turn away and rush out, he spotted my reflection in the mirror. On noticing my expression, his lips eased into a lazy smile and he began to slowly turn around. But before he could give me a view of his front, I pulled myself out, and shut the door.

"Sorry, I didn't realize you were in there." I called out and leaned against the wall next to the door I had just shut, to take a deep breath.

He startled me by popping his head through the door. "This door doesn't lock."

"Oh." I looked away and tried to compose myself. "I'll keep that in mind."

"Are you alright?" His tone was smug; almost as if he knew the exact affect the encounter had had on me, which, seeing my reaction, he probably did.

"I'm fine." I said, collecting myself and turning back to face him. "Perhaps you guys should let me know when you're in there. So, that I don't walk in on either of you."

He stepped out of the toilet then, and I almost completely stopped breathing. His chest was sculpted to absolute perfection, not an inch of fat on him. Perfect chest, perfect abs, perfect stomach. Perfect. It was all fucking perfect.

"I'll ask Blake to let you know every time he's in there." He said, indicating the toilet with a thumb. "But, as for me," he walked closer, backing me against the wall, "I don't mind you walking in on me at all."

There was a mirror on the opposite wall, across the bed, and I caught a glimpse of his towel clad, toned backside, in it. It was perfect too. He really was perfect all over.

No wonder all the girls chased after him. He was hot, charming and even nice. No wonder all the girls were overjoyed when they caught him. Being the centre of his attention was flattering. And no wonder all the girls were devastated when he left them. Having him move on to the next girl was probably heart-breaking. Something I did not need.

I walked past him and went to stand by the toilet door. "Are you done in the there? I need to take a piss."

He was surprised by my sudden irritation. I could tell. "Yeah, it's all yours."

I muttered a quick 'thanks' and waited for him to enter the toilet and exit into his room. After he left, I locked the door on his side firmly and went about my business. Once I was done, I shed my clothes, and went to stand in front of the mirror above the basin, and studied myself critically.

My dark features were pretty, that much I knew. Tanya Perne had captivated many a men with her dark eyes, and her long, raven-colored hair, much to my father's displeasure. And since those were the features I had inherited from her, I was not unconfident about them.

But my body was another matter. Though, my breasts were not too small, I was too slim. I wasn't curvaceous like my mother. I was thin. And not thin because I worked out, or exercised. No, I was thin, because I slept little and ate little and threw up often. Though not purposely, my nightmares just brought on that reaction. My frame was slender, not lean. I was weak, not fit.

In fact, ever since my father had passed away, I had become even thinner.

Inspection finished, I gathered my clothes from the floor and hung them on the hook at the back of the door. Then, I stepped into the shower and after turning it on, I sank to the floor, drawing my knees up to my chin.

My previous irritation turned into anger and I grabbed the bottle of shampoo lying in front of me and hurled it at the wall on the opposite side, relishing in the noise it made when it collided with the surface. I repeated the action with the soap, the conditioner and the shower cap.

Once the counter was devoid of all it's contents, my rage finally subsided, and I broke out into tears.

I'm pretty sure all the noise I was making had been muffled out by the shower, but I still took care to make my sobs as silent as possible, by burying my head in my folded arms, which were resting on my knees.

If I ever needed proof that Michael and I were wrong for each other, seeing him half-naked had been it.

I had always known that personality wise, Michael was everything I was not. But, seeing him in a towel, a few minutes ago, had reminded me that even looks wise, Michael was everything I was not; stunning.

I felt much better after the shower, and after getting decently dressed, I trudged downstairs. It was a little after six, and already, I could hear music blaring through the speakers that had been placed in the living room.

I headed towards the bar in the living room to grab myself a drink, and then perhaps to look for Nancy. Quite a few people were already there, dancing, drinking. But I could see neither Nancy, nor Michael, anywhere around.

My other neighbor, Blake, stood behind the bar, smiling and serving people drinks. As a two girls collected their drinks and cleared the space, I took a seat on the bar stool and smiled at Blake. "You drove us here, and you're bartending. You must be a really nice guy."

Blake offered me a smile and a wink in return. "Or maybe I'm getting paid really well."

"Are you?"

He placed his hands far apart on the bar and leaned forward. "What can I get you?"

It was a polite way of avoiding the question, and since I did not suffer from unnecessary curiosity I let it slide.

I paused to consider my options. "Can I have a vodka and coke please?"

Blake nodded. "Sure."

As Blake went about preparing the drink, a boy slid onto the stool next to me. Despite the low lighting, I could tell that he was quite attractive, with his dark, spiked hair, his blue eyes and his confident smile. His identity was unknown to me, which was odd, since I thought I already knew, or had been introduced to, everyone in the house.

He waited for Blake to finish making my drink, his manner completely self-assured, and then spoke. "Blake."

Blake glanced up from the drink in surprise. "Drew." A smile broke out on his face and he walked around the bar to shake the boy's hand and give him a hug. "I didn't know you were coming."

The boy, Drew, who had gotten off the stool in order to hug Blake, now resumed his seat and Blake retreated back to behind the counter. "I wasn't planning on it, but that stupid sister of mine forced me to."

Blake grinned. "Where is Samantha?"

"She's in the kitchen with Nancy. Probably having a private reunion, if you know what I mean." Drew said, rolling his eyes.

Blake nodded and handed my drink to me. Then, remembering his manners, he introduced us. "Drew, this is Kaaya. She joined school this semester. Kaaya, this is Drew, Samantha's brother."

"Nice to meet you." I said, offering him a hand, which he absently shook.

"Likewise." He turned back to Blake. "So, Blake, where's Slate?"

"He's in the garden with Shelly and the rest." Blake fixed Drew with a stern stare. "We don't want any trouble this weekend, Drew."

Drew smirked in reply. "Nobody ever wants trouble, Blake. It just comes."

"And you're supposed to be trouble?" The voice came from behind me and I slowly swiveled around on my stool to see Michael approaching us.

Drew turned around in his stool and his smirk grew. "Michael Slate."

Michael reached the bar, his thumbs, as always, casually hooked in his pockets and stood in front of Drew. "Drew Miller. Aren't you a sight?" He looked Drew up and down before continuing with an arrogant smile. "Tell me, how much did this makeover cost you?"

Drew appeared unnerved by the condescending nature of Michael's tone and comment. He stood up and looked Michael in the eye, his stance almost offensive. "I see you haven't changed a bit, Slate."

Michael grinned cockily. "Perfection doesn't need changing, Miller."

Drew smiled mockingly and nodded, but, as he did so, his fists clenched and unclenched at his sides. And even though Michael was smiling, his body language was confrontational, almost as if challenging Drew to do or say something to oppose him.

Finally, Blake's interference broke the tension. "Drew, Michael, what do you guys want to drink?"

Drew named a drink, while Michael shook his head. "I've still not finished my last one. It's lying outside, in the garden. I'm just here to ask Kaaya to join us there." He turned to me and offered me a smile and a hand.

Drew turned to me and studied me, as if seeing me for the first time. He then watched with keen interest as I accepted Michael's hand and grabbed my drink with the other and walked with him in the direction of the garden.

Normally, I would have denied Michael, but seeing his angry exchange with Drew had made me reluctant to disagree with him in front of the boy.

Author's Ramblings:

I realize that the last few updates have not been as frequent as the initial ones. But, since this is my first novel-length story, I'm suffering from random spouts of writer's block. And instead of tackling the block head on, I tend to ignore the story for a while and then return to it, to re-read all that has been written, before constructing any more.

So, please, bear with me. Since I'm currently in the flow, I'm going to attempt to write some more, and get ahead, so that the next few updates are more frequent.

Meanwhile, this chapter, like the last one, is longer than usual, to make up for the delay. Hope everyone likes it.

As always, thanks to all of you who have been reading, and a special thanks to everyone who reviewed.

Anonymous Reviews' Responses:

Zoe: Hello Zoe. I'm glad you found the last chapter cute. And I feel absolutely awful that you had to wait so long for an update. Hopefully, the next few updates will be more frequent. Meanwhile, here's Chapter 11. Hope you like it. And thanks for your review.

P: Hello. Thanks a lot for reading and reviewing the last chapter. I hope you enjoy this one as well, despite its lateness.