Welcome to the Stereotypical World of Romantic Clichés
by Cheryl White
Eighth Cliché: Fever
"I don't have anything to say to you," I whispered, detaching myself from his grasp and turning away.
That didn't fool me.
"Please," he begged, his words laced with hurt.
Why was he hurt? I mentally scoffed, and feeling my temper rise dramatically, I quickened my pace. In my current emotional state, I'll blow up. I know it.
And I know myself too much to allow that to happen.
Realization struck as I kept moving, and it didn't help the jumble of emotions I was feeling. In fact, it heightened it.
I wasn't just pissed at their terrible behaviour; I was upset.
Upset with Lucas. Upset with myself. Upset with the whole situation I'm in!
How could I have thought that he wasn't such a bad person? After everything that I've gathered about him, I still actually –
My lapse of judgement disappointed me. Most especially when I thought back on how I landed myself in this mess.
Note: Shut up when temper starts rising.
What's even more frustrating is the slight pressure I was starting to feel behind my eyes. The hitch in my breathing. The shaking of my hands. The need to just... get away.
I spent the whole thirty minutes before class started under a tree in the usually uninhabited part of the field.
Where no one could see me cry.
It's been two days since the whole terrible episode, and Wednesday passed torturously slowly.
Lucas and I haven't talked to, eaten with, or even looked at each other.
I'll admit: It hurt. I mourned for his loss. I actually missed him annoying the hell out of me every day.
But at the same time, it climaxed my frustrations. How could I be so stupid?
How could I actually miss him?
Feeling the recently-all-too-familiar pressure behind my eyes, I struggled to put myself together. I stopped in my tracks for a moment and ended up standing idly in the corridor, next to one of those wide windows they place so that you can see the field outside.
I immediately became entranced with the rain, and for a few moments, I just stared outside, alternating my attentions from the heavy pouring outside to the tiny droplets of water sliding down the window.
Classes have finished, and it was that afternoon when the rain started pouring down so heavily. I released a sigh, rubbing my arms with my hands to warm them up. I should've brought a jacket today, but then again, I would have never guessed that it'd be raining this hard. It was bright and shiny this morning!
I sighed, feeling the gloom of the rain seep into my emotions once again.
I shook my head. No, I can't think about this. I have another problem to deal with: How was I going to go home?
I'd usually ride with Molly, Amy, or Collin, but on the days that I don't (i.e. today because I have a group assignment to work on this afternoon in the library), I take the bus.
But the bus stop is about a two mile's walk away from school.
Realizing that worrying about this now wouldn't get me anymore, I turned my attention back on making my way to the library.
This is going to be a looong afternoon.
It would be completely untrue if I said I've finally thought out a solution to my how-to-get-home problem.
Biting down on my lip, I was standing under the shaded area outside our high school building. I felt deaf just standing there; a little numb too. The terribly cold rain was beating down on the sidewalk so hard now, I'm sure I wouldn't sense anyone's approach until they've grabbed me from behind and stuffed me into a garbage bag.
Which probably would have happened, except Lucas didn't have a garbage bag.
"Hey, sweetie," he greeted, his tone that of forced casualness, his arm around my waist, pulling me against him.
Of course, by reflex, I smacked him away and complained, "Ew, Lucas! You're all wet!" Immediately pulling at my clothes in a vain attempt to dry them out quickly, I scowled at him.
This is the part where he's supposed to grin at me shamelessly, but instead, he looked down awkwardly.
Right... Ever since that... incident, things haven't been right between us.
I don't even know how he mustered the might to greet me so casually though. Maybe... he missed me, too? Maybe he just wants to forget about what happened and put things back to normal...?
I internally smacked myself. There goes my stupidity. Again.
It's so pathetic how I'm affected by all this. He's doing a pretty damn good job too.
Taking in his wet appearance, I made an effort to break the ice. You just gotta hate the awkward silence. "What happened to you?"
He shrugged. "Football practice."
"And then it started raining," I supplied.
"Mhmm." At this point, he was leaning against the wall, arms crossed. "Why are you still here?"
"Had something to do in the library," I replied shortly, avoiding his eyes as I said it.
Cue awkward silence.
Oh gosh, I wanted to bury myself in a hole. I hate awkward silences. They're just so... uncomfortable.
"Why are you all wet then?" I asked, trying in vain to break the tension. "Shouldn't you have already taken a shower or something?"
"I'm just a little wet," he said, and in response to my raised eyebrow, he added, "Besides, the showers are in the gym building."
Which was on the other side of the school, connected by a thin walkway that's most probably flooded by now. Right.
"You should at least change," I suggested. "You could get sick, walking around, dripping wet like that."
He looked at me cockily, something that was so Lucas I felt a little bit better. "I don't get sick."
Crossing my arms, I snapped, "Of course you can get sick; everyone can get sick! Now, go and change, you lazy bum." My jaw was set, and I pointedly jerked my head towards the building.
He rolled his eyes. "It's no problem, Naomi. If you're really that worried about me, why don't you do it yourself?" His expression was sly as he stepped towards me.
"That makes no – " I stopped myself, the implications of what he said finally dawning on me. I couldn't help the flush that rose from my neck. Okay, maybe it's not such a good idea that Lucas is slowly turning back to normal.
This, of course, sent him laughing and teasing me about my innocence. I ignored him for the straight three minutes, instead trying to find a way out of my current dilemma.
Lucas can be such a terrible distraction.
Even if we were supposedly fighting.
I cursed the part of me that was actually glad that the weirdness was slowly dissolving.
It's not like I want an outright confrontation. I just... want everything to be alright.
Yeah, I know. It's not right, blah blah. Letting him get away with it, blah blah. Supposed to be pegging him down from his high pedestal, blah blah.
Yet strange feelings make you do strange things. Trust me; this is far from normal.
Maybe I can turn a blind eye this time. I might actually just be overreacting, you know? I do have that tendency to get a tad bit too conservative sometimes. It's just my naturally old fashioned self.
"So," he spoke up, his arms crossed and his grin anticipating, "how are you getting home?"
"I'm working on it," I grumbled, refusing to meet my eyes. In case you haven't noticed, in response to Lucas' constant provocations, my pride tends to get worse.
"Alright then," he said lightly, pulling out his car keys and jiggling them tauntingly. "I better get going then. It's getting late." He made an obvious move to check his watch. "It's way past four. There's still school tomorrow – lots to do. See you tomorrow, Naomi." He flashed me an evil smile and turned away, pulling out a thick jacket from his backpack and holding it over his head.
I can't believe I'm doing this, but it's now or never.
"Want to give me a ride, bud?" I pleaded after him, batting my eyelashes.
Smirking, he turned around slowly. "What did you just call – ?"
"Sweetie," I quickly amended through gritted teeth.
If possible, he smirked even wider. Evil, evil man. "Yes, sweetie? Is there something that you need?"
By the way his eyes danced, I knew he was enjoying this. Oh, gosh. There goes my dignity.
"Can you please give me a ride home?" I asked softly.
"Hm," he mused. "That wouldn't be a problem. But – " There's always the catch, I thought wistfully. " – I hope you'll forgive me."
He quickly took my hand in his, the humour on his face completely gone. He looked at me with serious eyes – really looked at me, as in, straight into my eyes. The first time he's done it since the incident. I swallowed the bulk in my throat and held his gaze.
Yup, there were absolutely no traces of humour in his face.
"We were just being stupid that morning," he explained. "We're always like that; you know how it is. And I know that doesn't sound great, but it's true. It's just – We – Well, it's not something..." He sighed. "It's wrong, and you're a perfectly good person, who wouldn't accept whatever excuse I'll have to give." Rubbing the back of my hands with his thumbs, he regarded me nervously. "Which is right because there is no excuse... I was wrong; I admit it. I'm sorry."
I sighed a bit. I certainly didn't expect this. I mean, he looks completely sincere. It will be okay if I...
But the game...
"I didn't mean to make you upset," he said in a low voice. "If I'd known, then I wouldn't have done it. Well, actually, I should have guessed that you'd react that way, but it's not like I expected you to jump in the scene... Oh, still it was wrong... Shit, I'm rambling." And then he started running his hand through his hair, his other hand still holding mine. "Just – Naomi, I'm sorry."
I softened at his words.
Pushing aside my garbled thoughts, I nodded. "It's okay." Unable to stand the terse atmosphere, I jokingly added, "As long as I can get a ride."
He chuckled, and I knew everything was cool. For now.
"C'mon, let's go home."
Lucas was absent the next day. And the day after that.
Which led me to my current position. Friday afternoon.
Outside Lucas' house. With a load of homework he has to do. Plus a thermos full of my signature get-well-soon soup.
I sighed. What the hell was I doing?
Sure, the teacher sent me to give him his homework, but the soup?
Seriously, Naomi! Just as I was smacking myself internally, pacing around in front of Lucas' simple home, the door opened, and I realized just how crazy I must've looked, wandering outside someone's house with a backpack, extra bag, and heavy thermos.
It was a kind-faced, plump lady, somewhere around her forties, who approached me. "May I help you, dear?"
"Oh, uhm, is Lucas home?" I asked, cocking my head to the side. He actually has a maid?
She smiled nicely. "Of course. Are you his friend from school?"
Girlfriend, I wanted to correct, but thought better of it. Knowing Lucas and how he reacted to my brother's knowledge of our situation, he most probably didn't mention our relationship to anyone in his house.
Not that it would matter, anyway. It's actually easier this way.
Which is why I shouldn't think too much on it, I thought forcefully as I felt my heart sink.
"Yes," I replied. "I just came over to drop off his homework – "
But her eyes landed on my thermos, which was full of hot soup, and with a knowing smile, she said graciously, "Why don't you come in?"
"Oh," I exclaimed softly. "I-It's okay; I wouldn't want to intru – "
"It's no problem, dear," she said, waving me in. "I'm sure there are things you'd like to give him yourself."
I opened my mouth but closed it, unsure of what to say, but eventually, I stepped into the simple-looking house. It was such a... how do I say this... male home.
There were no unnecessary decorations anywhere – just simple, modern furniture. And even though it may not look it at first glance, I could tell that the Sherwood family is considerably well-off by the quality of their furniture, all of their gadgets and other belongings, the presence of a maid, who's most likely paid by the hour...
"Uhm..." I shifted rather awkwardly as the lady entered the kitchen.
"What's your name, dear?"
She smiled wholeheartedly. "That's a beautiful name. You can put your bags over there, Naomi, and Lucas' room is upstairs, down the hall, first door on the right."
I smiled back, not feeling all that awkward anymore. "Thank you." Putting down my backpack, my eyes landed on my thermos. "Excuse me?" I called after her, and she turned to me patiently. "Uhm, well... Actually, I..." I bit down my lip, my fingers drumming nervously on the thermos, unsure of how to get my request across.
"Yes, dear?" she gently prompted.
"You see... I heard Lucas is sick, and, uhm, well..." My eyes automatically darted to the thermos, and she got the hint.
"You prepared something for him?"
I flinched a bit, thinking that it was a bit too... "Uhm, yeah," I replied weakly.
"And you don't want to give it to him yourself?"
I nodded slowly, nervously.
She giggled. "No worries, dear, I've been there." She was smiling again, and it warmed me inside. "But are you sure you don't want to give it to him yourself?" she asked kindly.
I shook my head.
Taking the thermos from me, she promised, "Then I'll make sure Lucas returns this to you properly."
"Thanks." Glancing uncertainly towards the stairs. "I better..."
She nodded, and I walked silently to Lucas' room, carrying the bundle of work he has to deal with.
I knocked shyly at first, my heart hammering against my chest. Oh goodness, what's with me? When there was no response, I tried a little harder. Again, nothing. Knocking on the door more steadily, I heard the ruffling of sheets and the sound of someone shifting on the bed.
"Lola, I told you not to disturb me 'til dinner," came Lucas' voice. It was groggy and tired, which was unusual, considering how confident and cocky he is most of the time. Not to mention irritating. But now, he sounded like a tired little kid. "I'm sleeping," he grumbled, and it sounded like he turned to his side on the bed.
Letting myself in (spontaneous of me, I know), I retorted, "Obviously, you're awake, and seeing as I've brought you the assignments you've missed, you ought to drop that grouchy attitude of yours."
And then he fell off the bed.
Yes, the Lucas Sherwood fell off the bed.
Cue maniacal laughter.
Actually though, it was more of this weird convulsion, after which he, in his tangled up state with his bed sheets, tried to turn around abruptly but got caught in the mess (of pillows, sheets and, random belongings) on his bed and tripped over the edge away from me.
Which was totally smooth.
"Dammit, Naomi," he muttered, picking himself up as leaned against the wall, doubling over in laughter. I couldn't help the violent shaking of my shoulders as ruptures of mirth rose from my tummy.
He was about so say something else, but I raised a finger to stop him, silently telling him not to speak until I finished laughing. Which, of course, disgruntled him even more.
"Har har," he said humourlessly, straightening up with as much dignity as he could. He changed expressions so quickly that my laugh trip was caught off. "I hope I didn't worry you too much, sweetie. I'd at least like to hear that you've gotten some sleep the past few nights."
I rolled my eyes – it was almost instinct at this point – and crossed my arms. "To even think I'd spend good hours of sleeping time to obsess over you in worry. Anyways, I just came here to give you your homework." As if to emphasize my point, I held up the folder of his assignments.
He grimaced and motioned for me to give it to him. As in, to go over to him and give it to him.
I cocked an eyebrow in response.
"Just hand over the folder, sweetie; isn't that what you came here for? Unless," he added, smirking, "homework isn't the only thing you came for." He patted his bed suggestively.
"You wish." I scoffed, not moving.
"Very much so." Once again, I rolled my eyes. When I didn't move, he teased, "C'mon, Naomi, what do you think I'm going to do? Pounce on you the moment you're in arm's reach?"
"I wouldn't put it past you."
"Your trust in me is very comforting. Now be nice to the sick."
"How about I just leave the folder on your desk and leave you to rest?" I suggested, suddenly reminded that he is sick. At least, sick enough to not go to school.
Unless he's just playing hooky, which wouldn't make sense because I don't think Lucas Sherwood would voluntarily stay in bed most of the day and allow himself to be taken care of by his nanny.
"Nah, I'm feeling better now," he said quickly. "Lemme look at the stuff I missed."
"I think you should rest a bit more," I said, my gentle tone surprising even myself.
"Aw, concerned?" he teased cockily before insisting, "Gimme the folderrr."
I sighed in submission, walking over to him. "Here," I said, handing him the folder. I caught a mischievous glint in his eye, but it disappeared as soon as it appeared – had I not been looking at him properly, I would have never noticed it.
"Thank you," he said graciously, taking on an unfamiliarly polite tone.
It felt awkward just standing there as he skimmed through the notes, and so after a moment of hesitation, I sat down next to him on the bed. He raised an eyebrow at me for a split second before turning back to his notes.
I never noticed this serious side of his, I realized as I took in his determined expression. I guess all I really did see of Lucas was his confident and cocky self, the evil jerk self – and just recently, I supposed, was his uncertain and remorseful self. But I've never seen his I'm-serious-about-school self until, well, now.
And it's actually... awing. For one thing, I never exactly expected it from him. And for another, there's just this thing about responsible guys that appeal to me, the guys whom you know have... a future. Someone stable.
Now that I think about it, sure, Lucas would attend parties, get drunk, and sleep with a bunch of girls, but not once had I ever seen him get sent to detention (threatened to, yes, because of his attitude; but actually sent, never), or make up some stupid excuse for not submitting a requirement in class, or get into any trouble for failing a test.
My respect for him immediately went up a couple of notches.
"Done awing at my beauty?" he jibed, smirking at me.
I scoffed and automatically retorted, "I'm not awing at your beauty."
This made him look amused. "Oh? Then what else about me were you awing at now that you've realized I'm more beautiful than Mr. Goody Two Shoes?"
For whatever reason, I flushed, and I was internally kicking myself when my words came out in stammers. "I-I wasn't awing at y-you! W-What I s-said, well, I-I was j-just humouring you! Yeah, that's it! And I never said you're more beautiful than Collin," I ended huffily, a eensy bit satisfied that I managed to regain my composure in the last sentence even though I could still feel the heat in my cheeks.
"Right," he said, his tone thick with disbelief. "And technically, sweetie, you just did."
He winked at me, and sensing the movement of his arm, I immediately got up.
"Okay then, I've delivered your homework; I better get going before Dillon starts jamming my inbox and call history," I said, checking my phone. 6 messages.
I sighed, feeling a pang of guilt. I'm supposed to be home right now.
Before I could even walk two steps away from the bed, Lucas yanked me back down on it and stole my phone.
Did he just – ?
Facepalm. Of course he just stole my phone!
That was a stupid thought, and it slowed down my reflex significantly. By the time I got the sense to retrieve my phone, he had already inputted his number in it and called his phone with it.
Right. He doesn't have my number. So much for a "boyfriend".
"Satisfied?" I said, plucking the phone out of his grip.
"Not really," he admitted, his eyes – intentionally? – glancing at my lips.
I got up. "See you tomorrow."
And with a small wave, I left.