I could tell my college life was going to be a real rollercoaster ride. Not a dull moment, nope.
After all, it'd be hard to feel bored when you've taken up stalking as a hobby.
Oh, don't get me wrong. I wasn't one of those girls you'd see hiding in trees or camping on the lawns or sneaking into houses to steal the boxers of the guys they're 'in love' with. Of course not! Gosh, I was way more subtle than that.
I guess I hadn't been subtle enough, though, because my target was currently staring at me across the room. And – well, would you look at that! Was he laughing at me?
Though, he did look really good when he was being this happy. He was one of those guys who only looked slightly better-than-average with a straight face, but when he smiled – wham! It was like a sledgehammer swung down out of nowhere and hit you right in the heart.
For me, anyway.
And he had the bluest eyes I'd ever seen. Honest to God – they were this beautiful shade of ocean blue that I could see from miles away.
Alright, so that was an exaggeration. More like just half a room away. Their blueness was still unbelievably striking, though. That, coupled with the way his entire face lit up when he laughed, was almost enough to pull me across the room, place myself next to him, and introduce myself.
Just almost, mind you.
I wasn't that crazy yet.
I looked at him again. He'd stopped laughing and was instead focused on something his friend was telling him. The leftover remnants of a smile were still playing on his lips. I was probably staring a little too hard, because when his eyes suddenly flickered to the side, they caught mine. I froze under the onslaught of that blue gaze and he grinned.
This boy was enjoying my admiration a little too much. Egoistical, much?
Still, I supposed he looked good enough to warrant such a healthy ego. His eyes were so… blue. I hoped that was his real eye color, because if it wasn't, I was going to be so pissed.
Considering how I had already decided to nickname him Blue Eyes.
Speaking of whom had turned back to his friend while I was pondering the intricate mysteries of his blue eyes. He was so not interested. If he had been, he would've come over to introduce himself already. Not that I'd expected him to. I was just having fun admiring his beautiful eyes. That was all.
"Gah," I said, mostly to myself, because let's face it – the only reason I was sitting on the couch checking out cute blond-haired, blue-eyed guys was because I was at a party alone. Who went to a college frat party alone? Actually, don't answer that. The main question was not why I'd gone alone, but why I was still alone.
Maybe it was the rabid stalker gaze I was fixing on Blue Eyes. I was scaring people off.
Diagnosis was the first step to finding the cure for the sickness. Or in my case, the solution to my aloneness. But first, I needed a drink.
A couple tequila shots later – okay, I lied, I only had one measly shot – I was living it up as the center of attention of the party. Alright, so that wasn't really true. I had a tendency to make myself sound a lot more exciting than I really was. Still, I had met some nice new people and done a fair bit of flailing about on the dance floor.
Maybe it was fate, maybe it was pure coincidence, but after the room had stopped spinning, I stepped out to "get some fresh air" – yeah, right, like there was any fresh air in a city like this – just in time to catch Blue Eyes heading off with his friend.
It was definitely the tequila and the subsequent four cans of beer acting up, because I wouldn't have done something like that if I'd been dead sober.
I followed him home.
That sounded wrong. No, I didn't so much as "follow" him as stalk. And it wasn't so much "home" as the dorms. But on the whole journey back, I was ten paces behind him and his friend.
Whenever one of them glanced back, I would hide myself behind the nearest lamp-post or telephone pole. In my inebriated state, I figured I was doing a pretty good job of hiding myself from them. The truth was, they probably knew exactly what I was doing the entire time. Even so, they made no move to stop me.
I probably puffed up Blue Eyes' ego rather nicely that night.
They let me follow them for as far as the main entrance of Halls of Residence Fourteen. In retrospect, it was a good thing that I chose to follow them rather than anybody else, because I ended up outside the dorms right beside my own block. Not that I'd realized that then. I was too busy trying to keep upright and in the shadows while watching the two of them enter their block.
There was the sound of the metal gate opening and I was mentally congratulating myself on a stalk well done when something happened to send my satisfaction down the drain. Blue Eyes paused in the act of walking just long enough to turn back and shout, "Good night!" Then with a flash of the smile I was coming to associate with him, he was gone. The gate clanged shut but I could still hear the sound of their laughter.
Sobering up all of a sudden, I sank to the ground. Well. Gosh. That had been embarrassing. I was never going to drink again, not if it drove me to do stupid things like following the first cute boy back to the dorms. Hopefully, I was probably never going to see him again. The school campus was huge, after all. What were the odds?
As it turned out, the odds were very much against me indeed.
For some reason, Blue Eyes started popping up everywhere I went. I saw him on my way to class. I saw him on my way back from class. I saw him at the in-campus grocery store; on the campus shuttle bus; in the cafeteria… Everywhere.
And every time my eyes met his – by accident, I swear, by accident – he would smile at me, as if he thought I was stalking him and was amused by it.
When I told my roommate, Rachelle – who conveniently also happened to be my best friend – about him and my stalking experience that first night, her reaction wasn't what I'd been expecting.
"What kind of a stalker are you," she demanded, "to not even have a picture of him!"
This just went to show you never really knew a person, even after five years of friendship.
I stared at her. I'd been expecting an eye-roll at the very least, and an outright lecture on how stalking was for desperate girls who couldn't get a date – which I definitely wasn't so stop stalking random guys already! – at the very most. Not… this.
"What?" She shrugged, "You've got me curious!"
"I met him first!" I felt the need to clarify.
And here came the familiar eye-roll. Finally. I was just starting to worry my best friend's brain had been eaten by an alien. "Now you're just being childish," she sighed.
"I'm serious!" I insisted, resisting the temptation to stomp my foot and further proving her point. "I met him first, alright?"
She looked half-amused, half-irritated. "I'm not interested in him, Beth! Just curious as to what kind of guy it takes to have someone like you in such a twist."
"Oh. Good." I was basking in satisfaction that my best friend wasn't interested – that way – in Blue Eyes until I picked up on what she'd said. I scowled. "What do you mean, someone like me?"
She smirked. "Nothing. It's just that you have such high standards, I was beginning to think you were a lesbian!"
I threw a pillow at her. Trust my feminist best friend to make my interest in someone of the male persuasion sound like an insult!
It probably wouldn't have gotten much further than that if it hadn't been for the Bus Incident. Even though that was the name I christened it with, the Bus Incident really had very little to do with buses of any sort. I only call it the Bus Incident because it had happened because of the bus. Sort of.
See, I'd been waving to one of my friends aboard the shuttle bus driving by and walking backwards when I'd run straight into a warm body.
Imagine my surprise when I turned around, apologies on my tongue, only to come face-to-face with none other than Blue Eyes.
He looked at me and did a double take. "Oh, God," he said. "You're Stalker Girl!"
Well, would you look at that. He had a nickname for me too!
"You recognize me?" I said, with a little bit of wonder. Before I realized that I'd all but confessed to stalking him with those three words. Gosh. I should've feigned ignorance and escaped as soon as I could have.
I blamed it on those blue eyes of his. A glance into them and I would end up doing stupid things.
Stupid, stupid Beth.
"Who wouldn't? You're suddenly everywhere I go."
His expression as he looked down on me was a mixture of a smile and a frown. It was like his facial muscles couldn't agree on what they wanted to do. Which was really a waste, because when they weren't disagreeing like this, his features made quite a pleasing picture. Although his nose seemed a little too sharp. But he had really nice cheekbones and a firm jaw-line.
And I realized I'd been staring again.
"Uh," I said, flustered. He'd been saying something before, hadn't he? "Right. Sorry for running into you like that. And sorry for that… other… night."
He laughed. There went my heart again.
I was saved from going into a cardiac arrest from prolonged exposure to his smile when he abruptly frowned and dug around in his pocket to fish out his cell phone. He glanced at the flashing screen and said apologetically to me, "Sorry, but I need to take this."
Belatedly, I realized his phone had been vibrating. He'd put it on silent mode, which explained why I hadn't heard any ringing. I wondered what his ringtone sounded like.
"It's fine," I said, watching as he turned a little away from me to answer his phone. Staring at his back view, I wondered if this was the time to politely make my escape. It wasn't like I needed to stick around––
Wait a minute. Was that… Russian?
All thoughts of escape vanquished, I pounced on him – metaphorically, of course – the moment he hung up.
"Was that Russian? You speak Russian? That's so cool!"
"It was German," he said dryly.
"Oh," I waved off my mistake. I liked German too. And French, and Italian… He looked a little wary but I didn't let it get to me, "You speak German? Are you German?"
"I'm half-German," he divulged, smiling just the slightest bit. I could tell he didn't want to stand here and continue listening to my crazy chatter, but manners were preventing him from walking away. Aw. Must've been the European blood in him.
"Really? I'm half-Asian," I said proudly, then paused. Half-Asian didn't sound almost as cool as half-German did. Huh.
"Really?" He was frowning a little bit now, looking skeptically at my almost-black hair and almost-black eyes. I decided I didn't like it when he frowned. "Are you sure you aren't the whole thing?"
"No! I have an American last name, see?"
"I don't see," he said slowly, when I didn't further elaborate.
"Chase," I revealed. And I stood beaming at him.
"Right. And your name is?"
"Beth Chase?" He raised an eyebrow, but he was smiling again. I guess my name did sound quite odd when put together.
"My full name's Elizabeth," I said, "Elizabeth Chase sounds much better, don't you think? But Elizabeth is such an elegant name, it doesn't suit me at all. I want a name that's lively, fun and spontaneous! So I go by Beth."
"And Beth is such an exciting name?"
I pondered that. "Actually, the name Beth reminds me of a librarian. Or Beth from Little Women. Quiet and shy. Not my kind of person at all."
He looked amusedly exasperated. "You…" he closed his eyes briefly, as if trying to dredge out that elusive word from the back of his mind, and settled on, "are confusing."
"And you really have the most amazing eyes I've ever seen," I said.
Oops. Verbal diarrhea.
He was smiling, though. I supposed he found my obsession with him – with his eyes, rather – amusing. "Thanks," he said, said eyes dancing when I looked into them.
Without quite knowing how, we found ourselves heading to the nearest bus stop, where we spent the next hour sitting on the benches and getting to know each other. I found out that he was in his sophomore year, a Business major, and one of the nicest guys I'd ever had the fortune to meet.
"I have to go," he said eventually. "I have a class at four."
"What do you mean at fo–– Oh crap! It's four!" I scrambled for my bag. "I have a class at three thirty!"
He grinned. I'd come to realize he smiled a lot. "Oops." He stood up along with me, flicking a cursory glance over the textbook I'd taken out. What? It'd been weighing down my bag! It wasn't like I was trying to look studious or anything. So that, you know, he wouldn't think I was only good at stalking. "Psychology 101? Fun."
"It gives me an excuse to do crazy things," I said cheekily.
He raised his eyebrows. "Like stalking guys you've just met?"
I lifted my chin. "I could say it was a social experiment for my thesis paper."
He laughed. "You could."
Hugging the book to myself, I adjusted the strap of my bag and hesitated. "So… will you be here again tomorrow?"
He eyed me suspiciously, even though the impact of it was reduced by the twitch of his lips. "Why? Are you going to conduct your 'social experiment' on me again?"
I grinned. "Maybe."
I was kidding, of course. I was. Really! Sort of. Probably.
He was there again the next day. And the day after that. Not on Friday though; he told me on our Thursday meeting that his Friday schedule was so packed, it was insane. And of course he was never free after six at night. I had a feeling he led a life much more exciting than mine. He was always out with his friends.
But he didn't seem to mind that I was monopolizing a little bit of his time almost every day. It wasn't much – on Mondays when our schedules clashed horribly, we only had time for a hi-bye sort of passing greeting – but it was enough. I did wonder why he was willing to take the time out to talk to someone he considered a stalker, but never brought up the topic.
I didn't want to know if it turned out that he was conducting a social experiment of his own on me.
On our third meet-up, I realized we'd never formally introduced ourselves to each other. At that point, I figured it would've just been weird if we went through the whole handshaking routine now, so I let it go. He'd given me his name the day we'd met, but I was so used to referring to him as 'Blue Eyes' that I hadn't put much effort into remembering his real name.
Well… Hadn't it been Shakespeare who'd said, "What's in a name?"
Besides, I wasn't sure Blue Eyes remembered my name either. He just kept right on calling me 'Stalker Girl'.
On one hand, it was cool that he had a nickname for me. On the other… let's just say I wasn't too psyched about being reminded of my stalking episode every time I spoke to him. But of course, he would never let me forget it.
Two weeks after we'd first started talking to each other, I walked into the small café on the peripheral of both of our school buildings only to be greeted with a, "Stalked anyone else today?"
He grinned at me as I sat down at the table. It'd become something of a joke between us.
I raised my eyebrows in response to his greeting. "Of course! There was this guy with the purple hair, this guy with the red Mercedes, and another one with the most gorgeous shoes ever. You're lucky I even managed to fit you in."
He feigned hurt. "So I'm just another appointment to you?"
"Shh!" I widened my eyes, glancing from side to side as if to check for eavesdroppers. Then I lowered my voice and leaned in, "You're not supposed to know."
He laughed out loud. "You're crazy."
Half an hour and a cup of iced latte later, I was a little drunk on coffee. Looking into his eyes for thirty minutes straight had nothing to do with it. I swear.
"I don't know why people always say Asians have creaseless eyelids. I have creases in my eyelids. And we don't have slits for eyes, either!" I locked my eyes with his to prove the point. But gosh, the blueness of his eyes was so distracting.
Alright, maybe I'd just been searching for an excuse to stare into his eyes.
"You're half, aren't you? Maybe you don't count."
I was indignant. "I do count! I look more like my mom than my dad, anyway." I paused, then thought of something else to raise as evidence, "And Mom has creases in her eyelids too! Where she came from, about eighty percent of the people there – and they're fully Asian – have creased eyelids. And I've been there – they really do."
There was a little silence as he digested what I'd just said. I hoped he wasn't one of the people who subscribed to such stereotypes. I don't assume every German has blue eyes, do I?
"Alright," he said after a while, "and remind me why we're talking about eyelid creases again?"
I frowned, trying to recall. "I think it started with me complimenting your eyes."
A corner of his mouth tilted upward. "As usual."
"Then I started complaining about my boring brown eyes."
"They're not boring," he interjected. I knew he was just being nice.
"They're so dark they look black!" I grumbled. "Black's boring."
"They're so dark I can see myself in them." He looked straight into my eyes and smirked. "That's interesting."
I started laughing. "You narcissist!"
We stared at each other, smiling.
"We digressed again," I realized.
He lounged back in his seat, raising his cup to his lips before he remembered that it was empty. It had been empty for a while. I smothered a giggle. "We have the craziest conversations," he said.
"That's why being with me is so much fun," I grinned at him.
He laughed, but didn't dispute my claim.
By the fourth week, we'd gotten close enough for him to share his women's troubles with me.
Or rather, his troubles with just one girl in particular.
In chick flicks, this was the part where the boy confessed his love for the girl by referring to a hypothetical mystery girl. The girl would get jealous and upset, until the boy revealed that she was the one he'd been talking about all along.
Maybe it was idealistic, but a part of me was excited by the possibility of Blue Eyes' mystery girl being myself when he first started talking about her.
"So… There's this girl." He was staring into the distance, smiling a little.
"You like girls?" I teased.
He laughed. "Am I supposed to feel insulted?"
"Nothing wrong with homosexuality," I said.
"Nothing wrong with it," he agreed, "but I'm straight. Sorry to disappoint."
I frowned. "Do I look like a dude to you?"
He swept an exaggerated gaze over me, "Hmm…"
I giggled. "Ass."
He smiled, but I could tell he was itching to go back to the original topic. I decided to help him out.
"So… about this girl…"
"Yeah." The tips of his ears looked a little red. "So… well… There's this girl I like."
"Yeah?" I tried to look casual. I could hear my heartbeat pounding in my ears.
"She's beautiful… and generous… and funny, and… I… Sometimes I feel like she's too good for me." As I gaped at him, he cleared his throat and tried to reassert his masculinity. "I mean, she's hot. I want to… you know."
Wow. He was so in over his head.
He straightened up suddenly. "I've never told anyone else about this. My friends would laugh their asses off if they found out I'm being such a wimp over a girl."
"No worries, bub," I drawled, "Aunt Beth is here to help."
He chuckled a little. "Okay, so, she's awesome and I want to ask her out. But it's gonna screw up our friendship if she doesn't feel the same way, you know? So… yeah… I don't know."
"So you want to know how to win her over?"
"Something like that. Yeah."
"That's easy," I said. "Just ask her straight out! How could anyone resist your blue-eyed charm?"
He looked worried. "And if she doesn't feel the same way?"
"She will," I said confidently.
He smiled. "And you're so sure how?"
I shrugged, unwilling to make the first move. "Of course there's always a risk involved. But if you don't take that risk, you're never going to know, right? I guess the question you have to ask yourself is, is she worth taking that risk?"
He stared at me for a long moment, before a grin spread across his face. "Yeah. I guess you're right."
I laughed. "I sounded like a commercial or something."
He nudged me playfully. "Thanks for the pep talk, hey. Coffee's on me this time."
I pretended to bat my eyelashes at him. "Gosh. I need to counsel you more often then."
He acted offended. "I do not need counselling!"
"So he says," I said in an undertone.
He flicked an empty paper cup at me. "I heard that."
Then we went on another one of our tangents. But I couldn't stop wondering what I'd done wrong. Hadn't I given him enough openings?
Or maybe, I admitted to myself with a sinking feeling, the hypothetical mystery girl in this case wasn't so hypothetical after all.
When I showed up for our usual meet-up the next Thursday, there was a girl sitting at the table with him. As I slowly walked towards them, I observed that his entire body was turned towards her and his whole face was lit up.
An inexplicable heaviness was building up at the back of my throat.
I was about two steps away from them when he finally looked up and noticed me. "Hey, you're here!" He grinned and I couldn't help feeling a flash of resentment for this blonde bombshell beside him, who could make him smile so giddily.
"Hi," I said as the two of them stood up to accommodate my arrival. The girl smiled a little shyly at me. I stared at Blue Eyes, willing him to get on with the introductions. I would say hi politely, smile at them, and, after an appropriate amount of time, calmly leave.
"Maddy, this is Beth; she's…" He trailed off, as if he had no idea how to categorize me. And I admit; it hurt. Even the label 'friend' – heck, even 'a stalker I've been talking to for five weeks now' – would've been better than nothing.
I smiled brightly at Maddy. "I'm the girl who stalks him because of his pretty blue eyes."
Maddy looked slightly confused, but she smiled back. "Nice to meet you, Beth."
"Right," Blue Eyes cleared his throat, cutting in before I could confuse the poor girl even more. "Stalker Girl, this is Madeleine – or Maddy, really. She's… she's the one I've been telling you about." His gaze was so bright and hopeful, willing me to make the connection.
And I did.
I think that was the moment I felt that little bit of hope in my chest shrivel up and die. Obviously, I'd been thinking too highly of myself. Gosh! Imagine fantasizing about being the girl he was head over heels for – what were the chances of that happening, right?
I looked at Maddy again. She was beautiful, taller than me, blonde… and she seemed really nice. Gosh. She was exactly the kind of girl Blue Eyes would fall in love with. Looking at them standing side by side, you could tell they were made for each other. She came up to his chin – the perfect height to lean against his shoulder or whatever else couples liked to do. She was perfect for him. Not to mention, he was probably halfway in love with her already. I couldn't get in the way of that.
Not that I would even want to. I mean, the only reason I'd started the whole stalking business was because I was attracted to Blue Eyes'… well, blue eyes, right? And there were tons of people in this country with blue eyes. No big deal. I could find a replacement stalkee in no time.
"Nice to meet you too. Well, I gotta go. There's a mountain of work awaiting my… tackling… no, that sounds weird… awaiting my tackle? Oh, whatever," I stopped and drew a deep breath. The two of them were staring at me as if I'd suddenly sprouted antennae. Blue Eyes was opening his mouth to say something, but I overrode him when I said as cheerily as possible, "Guess I'll see the two of you around!"
Then I turned tail and ran.
I should've known Blue Eyes would track me down eventually. He was persistent like that. I'd been trying to avoid him for the past five days and was, for the moment, quite successful in my endeavors. Until he appeared out of nowhere while I was heading for tutorial.
I mentally cursed my past self for letting him know I had Psych 101 at three-thirty on Tuesdays.
"God, you are one hard chick to track down. Where have you been for the past week?"
"I'm not a chick. I don't cheep," I mumbled lamely, trying to walk past him so that I could continue on my merry way. "Hey, can we have this conversation later?" Try never. "I have a class to get to."
"What's wrong?" Before I knew it, he had placed himself squarely in my path. And – dare I say it – he actually sounded a little angry and hurt. "Why are you not stalking me anymore?"
I was trying my hardest not to look up into his eyes. They would hypnotize me, I knew. I laughed, but it came out sounding a little false. "I'm not sure your girlfriend would be too pleased about that."
"What?" He sounded a little confused now, "I really don't think Maddy would mind. She knows we're just friends."
Oh. "Con-congratulations," I managed to choke out in a fairly normal voice. "Guess you finally asked her, huh?"
"Yeah." His tone had lightened considerably. I could tell he was smiling. Just the thought of her made him smile. Man, this girl was good. "Thanks for that, by the way. You really kicked my ass into action." He laughed.
I bit my lip so hard I was sure there'd be teeth imprints by the time I was done. Here I was, head bowed and battling tears, and he had the nerve to thank me for his successful relationship?
In that moment, I hated him so damned much.
"You're welcome," I said, and tried to push past him again.
"Hey, what's the rush?" He grabbed me by the wrist, stopping my escape. "What's wrong? I just gave you the go-ahead for stalking me."
Gosh, why was he so persistent? Did my stalking give him an ego-boost or something? Was that why he wanted to keep me around? So that I could pump up his balloon of a male ego?
Thanks, but no thanks.
"Yeah, about that," I said, on a whim, "I've been meaning to tell you. I've found someone else to stalk, so I won't be bothering you anymore."
His grip on me fell away. "What?" His voice sounded odd all of a sudden.
"Yeah," I made to sound like I was giggling, even though I'd never felt less like it in my entire life. "You mean I forgot to tell you? He has the most amazing––" Oh, gosh, most amazing what? I could hardly talk about eyes again. I cast a panicked glance around and spotted some random guy with large white headphones… My savior. "––headphones. And he's a musician, isn't that cool?"
There was a small silence, and then, "Oh." The odd note in his voice had been replaced by sizzling anger. "So that's all I am to you? Some guy to entertain you for five, six weeks, until a cooler replacement comes along?"
"Out with the old, in with the new," I said loftily, knowing this would make him go away. And that was what I wanted. Right?
I could literally feel the disgust in his glare. Without another word, he turned and walked away, out of sight, out of my life.
I did an about-turn and went back the way I'd come from. I didn't feel like going to class anymore. I was a little sick from the heat, I supposed. The sun was shining particularly intensely today, after all. It had nothing to do with the crushing sensation in my heart. And the tears leaking down my cheeks were just an early symptom of some kind of heatstroke. I'd be fine after a few hours' rest.
Of course I would be.
The Thursday night two weeks later saw me moping around the room watching chick flicks on my tiny laptop screen and bingeing on my favorite comfort food – mashed potatoes. What? We couldn't all subscribe to clichés! Plus, I didn't really like chocolate anyway.
I would've been content to continue on this way for the rest of the year, but Rachelle was getting frustrated with me. "Oh my God," she said when, slamming into the room at midnight, she caught sight of me sitting morosely on the bed with the huge tub beside me. "It's been two weeks! You're ruining your life!"
Moping around the room could hardly be constituted as 'ruining my life'. I still made sure I went for tutorials and finished my assignments on time, after all. I told her as much.
She didn't agree, judging by the way she ignored me and barreled on. "He's just a guy. Get over him, already!" Someday, I would tell Rachelle that her consoling skills sucked. Someday.
"But I don't want to get over him!" I wailed dismally, startling both her and myself with the sudden outburst. "I want to get with him."
Alright, so I'd finally admitted it.
She gave a long suffering sigh. "Then why on earth did you feed him all that drivel about a new guy? For goodness' sake, that made you sound ten kinds of fickle."
"He already has the perfect girlfriend," I muttered.
Rachelle snorted. "Nobody is perfect."
"Well, she is."
She hit me upside the head with a pillow. "Again, nobody is perfect! And if he would choose another girl over my awesome best friend, he is an idiot. You're better off without him. You don't want your children to be mentally-challenged, do you?"
I couldn't help cracking a smile. A very small smile, but one nonetheless.
"You're right… Who needs him, anyway?"
But my heart still wasn't convinced.
It took another month before I could gather up enough courage to take my usual route again. It was the route that required me to walk past the Halls of Residence Fourteen on the way back to my own dorms. I'd been taking detours so that I wouldn't have to pass by Blue Eyes' block and risk running into him, but it was raining heavily that day and I didn't have any energy to take the longer route. Besides, I reasoned, the chances of running into him in this rain were close to none.
He'd once told me he hated being out in the rain. I could understand why. He was the sunshine kind of boy.
Therefore, I was understandably horrified when I rounded the corner and saw him standing outside the gates of Hall Fourteen. He was by the lamppost I'd hidden behind that very first day I'd followed him back to his dorms. I was considering ducking back round the corner and heading another way when he turned and caught sight of me.
He made no move to acknowledge my existence, just stood staring. Hardening myself against the way my heart had started thumping, I put one foot in front of the other until I was an arm's length away from him.
He continued to stare unsmilingly.
Well, this was awkward. I winced at the chilly reception I was receiving. I probably deserved it, considering my last words to him.
I would speak to him, I decided, and if he didn't reply, I would leave.
"What are you doing out in the rain like that?"
His reply was slow in coming, but it came. "Thinking."
I couldn't hide my disbelief. "I thought you hated the rain?"
He stared at me but didn't respond. I shifted awkwardly, "You want my umbrella?"
"What's with the one-word answers?" It wasn't like him to be so sullen. Against my will, I was starting to worry.
I couldn't stand this anymore. "Look, I'm sorry for what I said the last time. I didn't mean it. I was just…" I couldn't possibly admit that I had been jealous of Maddy. He was suddenly looking at me with more interest than before. I changed the subject.
"How's…" I choked on the next word. Hoping it hadn't been too obvious, I cleared my throat and tried again. "How's Maddy?"
He was silent for so long that I almost thought he wasn't going to reply. Just as I was getting ready to walk off, he said lowly, "We broke up."
I almost fell over in shock. "Oh. I'm sorry." His standing out in the rain made sense now. He was probably heartbroken. I felt so bad for him that I couldn't find it in me to feel happy that he was single again.
He was looking at me steadily. "Is that all you have to say?"
"What are you talking about?" What else did he expect me to say? Was he trying to blame his break-up on me?
He pinched the bridge of his nose. "Never mind. I just thought… you… never mind." He turned away.
I watched him go. Or at least, I'd thought he was going to leave, but after a couple of steps he swung back around and fixed me with a blazing glare. He looked like he'd just thought of something that had pissed him off and resolved his determination at the same time.
"You. Listen." He spoke harshly, stabbing a finger in my direction. I stared. His hair was drenched and hanging limply in his eyes – those beautiful eyes that were now darkened with anger – and he was apparently about to unleash his full wrath on me, but the only thing I was thinking about in that moment was that he could still make my heart beat faster even when he looked like a drowned rat. And that he was going to catch a cold if he stayed out in the rain like that.
I took a step forward. "You want my umbrella?" I offered again, holding out said object.
He ignored me. It seemed that whatever he wanted to get off his chest was more important than getting out of the rain. "You," he said. "You are the total antithesis of my dream girl."
"Did you really just say antithesis?" I asked, in an unimpressed way. He would never have guessed that inside, my heart was breaking all over again. "Methinks someone's taken one too many thesis papers to the head."
"And you say crazy stuff all the freaking time," he added, looking at me pointedly. "You are so random. You never stop talking. You drive me insane! And you're so fickle – you go around stalking any guy who happens to be attractive enough to catch your interest. Who cares if someone has pretty eyes or amazing headphones? You're so superficial!"
It was like a dam had suddenly burst. The transition from his few-syllabic replies to this stream of accusations was so sudden, it shocked me.
I slowly retracted my hand until the underside of the umbrella was touching the top of my head. That way, he wouldn't be able to see how close I was to tears. It was fine if he didn't like me. He didn't have to go all nasty like that.
Maybe I had been superficial. Maybe I'd only been attracted to him because of his beautiful eyes and brilliant smile – at first. But as the days had gone by and I'd gotten to know more about him, what I'd fallen for was his personality. He could have freakish rainbow-colored eyes for all I cared – I would still feel the same way about him.
I turned around and made to leave. I didn't have to stand here listening to the boy I liked insult me to my face.
"And you're always running away," he continued behind me, his voice softening now. "Whenever something bad happens, your policy is to escape first, think later. When will you learn that you can't keep running forever? Maybe if you stick around till the end, for once, something good might happen."
I whirled around, now angry enough to be uncaring of the tears in my eyes. "What the hell!" I shouted at him. "Just because you got dumped doesn't give you the right to come here and lecture me on my flaws! So I'm not perfect like your dream girl, okay, and I'm sorry for that! I'll leave you alone, okay? You won't have to see me ever again!"
He was glaring at me. It seemed to be the only reaction I was capable of getting out of him since I'd run into him that afternoon. "What the hell are you talking about!" He snapped. I turned around again, but this time he moved fast enough to push himself in front of me, into the small space under my umbrella. Well, not exactly under, because he was too tall for it to fit directly over his head.
Even so, he was still close enough to make me freeze up.
"You're running away again," he said, in a lower tone of voice. He took the umbrella from me, holding it up higher so that the spokes wouldn't poke him in the eye.
"What are you…"
"I didn't get dumped," he interrupted. I was about to congratulate him and make a run for it when he continued, "I broke up with Maddy."
"Huh?" I croaked. His steady gaze was freaking me out. "Gosh, there must be something wrong with my hearing, because I could've sworn you just said you broke up with Maddy…"
"Wha–– Why? But you're halfway in love with her!" A train of thought hit me out of the blue, something I had read in some kind of girly magazine, "Is this, like, a guy thing where you get freaked out when you fall in love with a girl? And you have to 'distance yourself' to preserve your masculinity?" I glared at him. "Well, don't! She's the best thing that could ever happen to you! Don't jeopardize your happiness because of something stupid like this."
Because, ultimately, the most important thing was for him to be happy. And Maddy would be perfect for that. I'd seen how he could break into a smile simply at the thought of her. She was perfect for him.
He looked astonished and slightly horrified. "What?"
"Your feelings aren't going to go away even if you run from them, you know," I said.
The glare was back on his face. "Boy, do I know that," he muttered darkly.
"That's why you should go back to her. Tell her you made a mistake, that you can't live without her," I said, nodding wisely.
His expression darkened further. "Don't go putting words in my mouth!"
"I know it sounds a little icky, but girls like that sort of thing," I informed him. "You have to be romantic sometimes. She'll be delighted."
"Okay, how 'bout this," he paused, then took a deep breath and said, "Beth… I made a mistake. I can't live without you." Then he grimaced. "Damn it, there goes my dignity."
I ignored the pang in my heart. "Right. Now replace my name with hers and you're set." I made to walk past him, but he stopped me by grabbing my wrist with a growl.
I jumped. His fingers were ice cold. He must've been freezing out there in the rain.
"For the love of God, would you just let me finish!" he exclaimed in exasperation. "I broke up with Maddy one month ago. I broke up with her and I have no intention of going back to her." I opened my mouth to argue, but he quelled me with a scowl. "Let me finish! I broke up with her because I discovered too late that I don't feel that way for her anymore. There's someone else I––"
"God, could you be any more fickle?" I cut in, giving him a withering look. "And you have the nerve to come lecture me on my fickleness?"
He dealt me a look of irritation. "I can tell you're never going to let me finish what I want to say. So I'll just fast-forward to the end."
"It's not my fault you––"
"Beth Chase," he said, in a voice that very effectively drowned mine out, "I like you."
Before my brain could even digest the words, I started shaking my head. "No. You can't just change your mind like that."
"Says who?" He sounded disgruntled.
"Says…" I flailed around wildly for an answer and settled for, "it's just common sense!" And when he didn't look the slightest bit convinced by my argument, "She makes you smile!"
He looked confused. "What?"
"She makes you smile," I repeated. "I've seen the way you talk about her. Just thinking about her makes you smile. She makes you happy! I'm like… the antithesis of your dream girl." That statement of his still stung, even when I was the one quoting it. "You don't smile at me. You glare at me."
He glared again now. "Only because you're being such an idiot!"
I glared back. "Sorry for being an idiot then! Not everyone can live up to the standards of your dream girl."
He ran a palm over his face, looking like he would like nothing better in the world than to strangle some sense into me. Then he exhaled loudly. Once. Twice. Thrice. The third time was the longest yet.
"Stop sighing!" I snapped. I didn't like it when he looked so obviously frustrated. I also didn't like it that I was the reason he was so frustrated.
"If you don't feel the same way, just say so." The confidence he'd had was slowly starting to melt away and he was gaining a sort of wounded-puppy look. It made him look so vulnerable I would've given anything to get that look out of his eyes.
"I––" I bit my lip, "Dammit, are you blind?"
He stared at me. "Does that mean…"
"I've liked you for a long time now," I admitted grudgingly. Gosh. Mushy scenes like these really weren't my cup of tea.
I wasn't even completely sure I liked tea, come to think of it.
"Stop digressing," he said, as if he could read my mind. I was about to ask him when he added, warily, "It's that look on your face."
"Oh. Okay – wait. I have a look?"
"Stop digressing," he growled.
"Fine." He didn't have to get all huffy about it.
We stared at each other. I detachedly mused that the rain was lightening up.
"You were confessing your feelings for me?" he prompted after a while, presumably unable to stand my blank stare anymore.
"Uh," I said, "I thought I was done with that."
"What?" he asked incredulously. "That was it?"
"It was still longer than yours," I pointed out.
"Only because you kept cutting me off!"
"See, you're doing that glaring thing again!"
"You're being ridiculous."
"I am not," I muttered mutinously. I glared at the wet ground, at our shoes. He was wearing Converses that were completely drenched. Gosh. I was starting to feel bad now.
He was speaking again. "Now that we've established we both like each other…"
I looked up to see why he'd trailed off just in time to feel his lips land on mine.
It was… the coldest kiss I'd had so far. Not in terms of passion, but temperature. His lips were so cold that when they touched mine, I jumped at the shiver that surged through my body as a result. Then he tangled a hand in my hair and pulled me closer to kiss me properly, and I forgot about all the cold for a little while.
It wasn't the most passionate, or the most perfect, or the most skilful kiss I'd ever experienced. And I'd never understood all that hoo-hah over kissing in the rain; I'd never found it particularly romantic, just very wet and uncomfortable. But this kiss, right here, right now, with the right guy – it surely was the best I'd ever had.
I discovered I was also drenched by the time we both ran out of breath and pulled away. He must've dropped the umbrella at some point. I found that I didn't really care. I would stand out in the rain for an hour if that was all it took to feel this way, to have him look at me this way – all of the time.
"So…" I found myself whispering, as if speaking any louder would shatter the perfection of that moment. "Where do we go from here?"
"Let's start from the beginning," he suggested. He used his left hand to lift mine and put it into his right. Once his large hand had closed over my smaller one, he shook it and said, "Nice to meet you, Beth. I'm Logan."
Then he smiled, that brilliant smile that had captured my heart from the very first day. And now, with both of us standing in the rain, frozen to the bone and dripping wet, it still had the ability to warm me to the tips of my toes. His blue eyes were warm – I hadn't known such a cold color could be so warm – as he said, "I think you're the most amazing girl I've ever met. Will you be my girlfriend?"
As it turned out, he didn't need any advice on how to win a girl over, after all.
Author's Note: So! Another one-shot. The character Blue Eyes (or Logan, as his name turns out to be) was inspired by this real guy I've been seeing around campus... a lot. He has the bluest eyes and the most amazing smile and I get the feeling he thinks I'm stalking him (which I am not. There's this thing called a complete coincidence). And he always laughs at me whenever we happen to meet and he catches me staring. But enough about me.
Certain parts of this story are based off true incidents... Although I have to admit that last scene is completely fictional. Sadly. Oh, well!
Anyway, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. Please review :)