Sitting alone in the courtyard, I was oblivious to the merriment going on inside the ballroom. I contented myself with picking off the petals from the flowers I found immune to the winter chill.
"I'm over him, I'm not over him. I'm over him. I'm not over him." I repeated to myself softly, almost inaudible, as if it was a mantra.
I must be such a pitiful sight. A young lady all dressed and made up for the ball, staying away from said party, a frown marring her features all the while.
I didn't want to ruin anyone's fun, that's why I'm out here.
The only thing that's keeping me from crying is pride. I'd never allow anyone to see me vulnerable and helpless.
You must be wondering how I ended up here, when everyone else is dancing, enjoying themselves to their heart's content.
I came upon this place by accident; I was walking mindlessly no particular destination in mind.
I was alone, again.
Someone is meant for you in this world, whoever you are, wherever you may be. Whoever made that line must have never been heartbroken. It's stupid how love can change people.
If that line were true, then why was I here all by myself? Am I the only exception in this big, bad world?
No one wants to live life alone.
I don't believe in fate, I don't believe in destiny. Should I also stop believing in love as I stopped believing in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy when I was a kid?
It's all lies, fabricated by someone with too wild an imagination.
Cue my bitter smile accompanied by a single teardrop.
Nothing was going my way.
Lady Luck has left my side. Not like she's ever been on my side.
Have I told you that Liam Moore, hottie extraordinaire, asked me to the Winter Formal?
I had nothing against him so it was all good and well.
But I felt nothing for him; I didn't even think that he knew my name let alone ask me to the Winter Formal.
And besides, no girl in her sane mind would turn down an invitation from Liam to the Winter Formal. Especially when no one else asked you.
Who would have known that he was only playing with me? Using me to win a bet?
You don't know how humiliating that was.
I slapped him in front of everyone who cared to watch the little drama unfold.
I willed the tears not to fall, so I couldn't embarrass myself even more.
He stopped laughing, they all stopped laughing. No one ever raised a hand to the Liam Moore.
They were stunned to silence. And so, I ran.
Like Cinderella I escaped the ball, difference was, there was no Prince Charming to come running after me.
I expected no one to come after me, and I was right for once.
I looked up, brushing the hot tears away, just in time to see the snow fall to the ground.
A soft smile made its way to my face.
Winter has and always will be my favorite time of year. It's the time when snow covers all the lands, turning it into a fairytale wonderland.
Beautiful, magical, and romantic.
The world must feel for me, crying frozen tears on my behalf.
Letting the cold embrace me, I opened my arms, welcoming the numbing sensation. A sudden chill overtook me.
I didn't want to leave yet, I wasn't ready. All I wanted to do now was to forget.
And to add on to everything, Brent and I haven't spoken in a little over a year.
It hurts knowing that he hates me.
I don't know what made me reject him when I clearly reciprocated his feelings. I knew that I loved him; I wasn't some storybook heroine in denial.
I didn't want to get hurt. I didn't want to be just another girl in his collection. I wanted to be someone important to him, someone that actually meant something to him. But I guess, that's too much to ask.
I think that's part of the reason why I wanted to stay only as friends with him. No matter how many girlfriends he had, or how many girls he sleeps with, it was me who he always came back to.
Once a player, always a player, so the saying goes. I'd be willing to give him my heart and just about my everything but he'd never feel the same.
Was it worth it? Was a taste of a relationship with him be enough to overpower the heartbreak that would inevitably come next?
We all know that getting hurt is inevitable whenever you take the chance to love. I was too much of a coward, I know that now. or maybe, I was too afraid to risk everything and settled for what I knew to be safe.
From what I heard, Brent went to the Winter Formal alone. He knew all too well the chaos all his fan girls would make if ever he brought a date.
I speak from experience, having been on the receiving end of it once or twice before when he had to ditch his date.
Speaking of which, before I fled from the ball, Brent had been dancing with random girls. A girl to his front, another at his back and two on either side.
I guess it's my own fault that I feel hurt and betrayed. I allowed myself to feel, that's why.
"I'm sorry." I said to no one in particular. Who on earth would be here save for me, myself and I?
I rubbed my hands together, trying to make my body feel the least bit warmer.
And so, there I was. The runaway princess, unnoticed and forgotten.
One again, I gazed at the beautiful night sky. Calm and serene in its entire midnight splendor.
The snow fell.
Someone laid a tuxedo jacket over my shoulders.
"Do you want to die of hypothermia?" he, I'm pretty sure the speaker was male, chided me. The concern in his voice was unmistakable.
I turned around, only to gasp when I saw who it was.
Like all clichés with cat and mouse chases, he found me. Brent found me.
I lost no time in hugging him. My arms instantly wrapped around his waist, I truly did miss him.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." I repeated over and over. I willed myself not to cry.
Brent kept his arms at his sides, tensed. Cautiously he moved to hug me back. It was unlike all our other hugs, it was uncomfortable and awkward.
His touch was hesitant, cautious.
"Come on, let's get you inside." I nodded, words failing me.
Maybe there was still hope, for him and I. For us, together. As friends.
As if on cue, all the memories came rushing back.
The feel of his lips on mine, fireworks. Tingles wherever he touched, electricity. The way our bodies fir together perfectly as if made for each other. The fire burning within, passion. Pulses pounding as one, undeniable attraction.
"I'm sorry." I repeated once more, glancing at our fingers entwined with each others. To an outsider, it would seem as if we were lovers.
If only. If only.
I laid my head on his chest, breathing in his familiar scent. He laid a chaste kiss to the top of my head.
An act of friendship.
One would find it rude to interrupt such an intimate moment.
If only that were the truth.
"Keep saying sorry and I promise you that I won't ever forgive you." His voice held a light teasing tone, it was clear that he had already forgiven me.
I smiled in relief.
Everything would be alright. It'll work out for the best. At least, I hoped it would.
He helped me to my feet, showing me his rare chivalrous gentleman side.
We walked in silence, his hand in mine. I didn't know where we were going, and yet I didn't think I cared much about it. I trusted him.
All that mattered that moment in time was him and I, together. Even if only for this one brief instant.
"Remember when we used to ice skate on the lake behind grandmama's house?" I mused.
He was leading, I was following.
We were walking into a long hallway with doors on either side.
It was richly furnished and very, very grand. I should have known better to expect any less of a 5-star hotel.
"Where are we going? Aren't you going back to the dance?" Curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought it back.
"We aren't going to keep running away from the inevitable, Blanche. You can't escape me anymore." That was his only answer.
It failed to calm my racing heart, beating faster by the second.
Love does that to you.
I studied his God-given features. His dark hair was tousled, some of it covering his beautiful baby blues. His jaw was set, full lips set in a line.
The white tuxedo he wore accentuated his body perfectly.
I squeezed his hand, urging him to look at me, to return my smile.
He was, rather is, my first love. And first loves never die, am I right?
But maybe, I'll get over him. And then, someday, he'll fade into a faraway memory of my first love that I once thought to be unrequited.
Nothing is for sure, but I do know that he will always have a special place in my heart.
"I love you." I whispered, not knowing if he could hear.
It seemed as if he did since Brent picked up his pace. He tugged at my hand, making me match his speed.
Soon enough, we stopped in front of a cherry wood door. Why he chose this one, I don't know.
He opened the door with a key I failed to notice he carried, only to push me inside.
With an audible click, he locked the door shut.
We stared at each other, eye to eye. Eyes guarded, neither revealing anything, not one backing down.
He was the first to break the silence that had enveloped us.
"Repeat what you just said." I winced at his tone.
I loved him and now, he hated me. It was ironic, it was cliché. I felt stupid. I wanted to turn back time.
"I. Love. You." I emphasized each and every word.
His face hardened.
"Déjà vu, don't you think? Only the roles have reversed." I didn't like his tone. It was foreign to me, and I prided myself in the fact that I knew him best.
"if that's how it is, then fine. Take out your frustration on me. Hit me, scream at me, kick me. Don't you dare hold back. I know I deserve it all and more." I owed him at least that much.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I readied myself for whatever he would throw at me.
Expect the unexpected, mama always told me.
Brent gripped my shoulders and kissed me. It was soft, sweet and oh-so-gentle. It ignited all the suppressed emotions in me.
I lost control of my tears; they slid down my cheeks unheeded.
Why wouldn't he be rough with me? Why wouldn't he give me a reason to hate? To forget all about him for the rest of my life?
He pulled away, kissing away my tears with light feathery kisses.
"Ssh… don't cry. I didn't mean to make you cry." He whispered to me soothingly, as if he were the one who wronged me.
When in fact, it was I.
"Why? Why?" I cried out.
He didn't answer me; I took it as my cue to continue speaking.
"Why are you being so nice to me? I don't deserve you! I don't deserve it! I know that I broke your heart and trampled on the pieces. I lied to you, I pushed you away!" I shoved him away, I didn't want to be comforted by him. I wanted to cry alone, to be with my miserable self. I'm pathetic. So, so pathetic.
"because I love you. Isn't that enough of a reason? I love you Blanche. I love you Blankie. Je t'aime. Te amo. Vi amo. I love you. I forgive you." He murmured again and again as he nuzzled my wet cheek.
My eyes met his. Gold meets blue.
This was my second chance. Mama always said that second chanced don't always come your way but when it does. You're not supposed to let it escape. And I planned to do just that.
I dared to press my lips to his, waiting for some sort of reaction.
It was immediate, I felt him smile.
"Thank you, Brent. I love you. But what is this supposed to mean?" as much as I hated to ruin the moment, it was necessary.
"You're mine and I'm yours. You love me and I love you." Love was shining in his eyes, his love for me, and all the world could see.
"I love you, Brent. I have always and will always love you." And I meant every word.
I love you is a question and an answer. It's a promise. It's everything and nothing all at once.
It can make or break you.
It had that much power.
Someone once asked me what I thought came after happily ever after.
And you know what I said?