A/N: Lyrics from Jesse McCartney's "Take your sweet time"
Between my three best friends, I guess they covered just about every cliché there is. Alice claimed the nerd-nerd cliché; Casey snatched the tormented-emo-silent musician – happy go lucky girl cliché. Come tomorrow, Annie will be penning down the "happily ever after" in her bad boy – good girl cliché.
One guess who has been the bridesmaid for the past two weddings? That's right, I am about to marry off my third best friend whilst I, the matchmaker remains ironically pining and single. To top things off, Annie and Dan had invited the whole high school for their pre-wedding party as a very fitting end for this golden high school couple. After the past years, most people had mellowed and are less extreme in their characterization. I mean, you don't see the Goths dripping black tears into the punch or the nerds waving their text-book flowers around do you? Looking around the ballroom, there was one person who did not change though. Him.
Of all people, I had to have a crush on golden-boy Jared Hortin for the past eight years, and counting. I'm not pathetic! I'm just a wee bit too…devoted.
He stood with the rest of the ex-Jocks clique in all his golden-hair, blue eye glory. Standing with Alice, Casey and Annie, I angled myself so that I could look at him through the corner of my eyes for the first time after a long while, trying to be more discreet in my 'admiration'. I slipped into my lala-land with white clouds gathering beneath his feet and a halo shimmering above his lightly spiked hair and this sparkle when he smiles and…
"AND is it just me, or is Eve still hopelessly crushing on a certain someone?"
I turned and shot Casey a look that could pulverize her into a melting pool of poo. Alright, maybe I can melt her makeup a little.
"I do not crush anyone!"
The three shared knowing, secretive looks and chorused "Okay, we believe you!" ending with cohesive giggles at the same time.
That was way creepy.
Annie flounced away to look for Dan, leaving a trail of fairy sparkles in her wake. She placed her hand lightly on his arm and reaching up, whispered into his ear with a mischievous smile. My eyebrow raised itself as Dan gave her a little frown and wagged his finger in her face. But one little pout from her was his undoing and he sighed resignedly before grinning at her and elbowing someone. My eyes followed his elbow up the arm and met the pair of blue eyes that I had dreamed of every other night.
They were staring at me.
I looked away, feeling baboon-buttocks like blush happily staining my face. If I had known, I would have saved on the blusher. Feeling daring, I stole a look at him. He was smirking at me. Do I have something on my face?! I raised a hand self-consciously to touch my face and a frown creased his forehead before he turned around, finally sparing me from the embarrassment. But as luck would have it, a beautiful love song…I mean stupid love song started to play.
"May we now invite all couples to join Annie and Dan on the dance floor?"
Thanks, just place a huge, big, red "X" on the forehead of those suffering in single hood. Talk about discrimination.
I watched helplessly as Casey and Alice were led away by their husbands and felt myself instinctively shrinking into the background. After all, I had eight years of practice. I tried to tune out the rest of the surroundings, and only dimly registered a loud "GO," coming from the jocks. I looked up in time to see Jared stumble from the hard push someone gave him before he took a deep breath and stalked in my direction. It is scary how much faster my heart started to beat.
A girl can hope, you know. It's what keeps us alive.
But the faint glimmer of hope was crushed as quickly as it rose. And as he neared me, I stepped aside to allow him to pass. A confused look passed his face, before he took a step in my direction. Resolutely staring down at my shoes, I took a step in the other direction. A chuckle escaped him, and he stood in front of me again. He tipped my head up, and after making sure that I was looking at me, he asked.
"Can I have this dance please?"
I could only gingerly nod my head, before placing my trembling hands into his and letting him lead me out into the dance floor.
Take your sweet, sweet time
Cause I'll be here, when you change your mind
The hand that I placed on his shoulder was numb. As I stared up into his smiling eyes, it was not the chorus of angels singing in the background that rung in my ears, it was the haunting stretch of silence, of rejection that stunned the heart.
She smiled happily to herself and sniffed at the box before skipping down the corridor. Though, as she neared the locker room, she slowed down hesitantly and inched forward silently, stopping right beside the door.
"Hey Jared! Just wondering, have you ever noticed any girl who has a serious crush on you?"
"Dan, there are too many. Which one do you mean?"
"How about, have you ever noticed Annie's best friend, Eve?"
There was a long silence and she squeezed her eyes shut, praying for the answer to the question she was about to ask.
"Do you like her?"
"She's not my type."
She kept her eyes shut, knowing that she would start crying if she opened them. But she released her hold on the box and it landed with a soft thud.
"Did you hear that?"
She ran away without a single glance back, not wanting to be caught eavesdropping. In her hurt and hurry, she had clean forgotten about the box.
Awhile later, Jared stepped out of the locker room and noticed the dented paper box on the floor with his name on it. He picked it up and debated upon opening it. A loud chorus of "aww" and guffaws erupted from the locker room.
"Dan! I hate you!"
"Dude! You're one lucky man. I wish my girlfriend made me basketball cookies too."
"Can I have one?"
"Nope, it's for me and me only. But I'm not sure if it's non-poisonous since Annie's cooking is…yeah. But since it looks quite good, I guess Eve helped her."
Jared opened the box. Two big muffins lay in it. One, shaped like a basketball with "good luck" written in frosting. The other, covered in red strawberry jam, shaped like a heart with the now smeared words, "Will you go out with me?"
The only word that went through his mind was "crap".
I will never stand in your way
wherever your heart may lead you
I will love you the same
I waited for this day for eight years, but not like this, never like that, never out of pity. When I looked up, he was staring at me with a contented smile on his face. I guess if your friends will finally get off your case, you will be happy too. I stopped moving and he looked confused and concerned.
"Look. I'm really sorry about this. I don't know what Annie or Dan or anyone else blackmailed you with or if Casey threatened to chop off your vitals in her cheery way or if Alice threatened to dump some odourless, tasteless warfare chemical into your drink. I'll go and scold them later! And it's really nice of you to dance with me even though you don't really want to. I'm sorry you had to go through this torture. So…I'll leave you alone now."
He was stunned, and for a long moment, he could only open and close his mouth as he tried to speak.
"It's okay, you don't have to explain. I understand."
And being the coward that I am, I walked away.
Have you ever seen a predator stalk a prey? I thought that Alice forcing me into that lacy white gown in the morning was bad enough. But you should see that scary, determined, feral glint in the former's eyes and note that I'm-still-young-and-I-have-lots-of-things-I-have-yet-to-do look in the latter's eyes? I wish I could say that I could make all flower power girls proud and say that I am the predator, but face it.
He's running after me.
Before you think that this is cute, it's not. Try running around in three-inch heels and a bridesmaid gown trailing the ground that you have to hitch up in order to avoid falling on your face. Well, it is not running precisely, in the hundred meter sprint sense, but in the trying to merge into the crowd and pretending to be part of the flower arrangement sense. Long story, don't ask.
Watching Jared's face was like watching a billboard broadcasting his mood. It turned from mildly amused, to highly amused, to slightly bored, to mild annoyance to extremely irritated.
"Eve! Stop running away from me!"
Oh right. See if a mouse would stop when the cat tells it to. After a while, he gave up chasing me and instead, stalked purposefully towards the stage where the emcee was cracking the lamest jokes. I breathed in relief and sank into a seat beside Annie. When I looked up at the stage, Jared was holding onto the microphone, looking supremely at ease and smug
When all attention was on him, he cleared his throat dramatically and continued. Drama King.
"As all of you know, Annie and Dan got together in high school. But most of you don't know the pain that came before that, trying to get Dan to confess."
Dan blushed a deep red and tried to slide down in his seat while the audience chuckled. It was true though, the lengths he went to trying to maintain his bad boy image. I would know. I glanced up again, waiting for Jared to continue embarrassing Dan, but instead of a teasing look on his face as he looked at our table, it was a serious one directed at me.
"But now, I am done helping Dan or rather, as he must be thinking now, ruin him. I helped him confess, but I never did help myself."
Great, confess to your lover now, and in my face. I must admit, that is a really good way to force me to give up forever.
"I knew she had the hugest crush on me"
I so do not like where this is going.
"But I never dared to tell her. Every time she stared at me, but failing terribly in her attempt to be discreet, I knew that I should be creeped out but instead I would be strangely shy and happy that she noticed me. And then, one day, I accidentally hurt her and she stopped looking. I was devastated but I didn't make a move. Even after we graduated, I thought that I could forget her, but I never did. So Annie and Dan, I'm sorry for stealing your limelight today, but since she kept running away literally and figuratively, I need to do what I should have done a long time ago."
He jumped down the stage and sauntered towards me. I tried to run away but for the first time, my legs were frozen. He bent down to my eye level, and cupped my face in his hands.
"The answer is yes."
Guess who caught the flower toss?
If you wait long enough, if you look hard enough, you will get your cliche one day...