Chapter Five

My night at the sports bar ended with me throwing up all over Nathaniel Dean. It was so humiliating. What made it worse was that my best friend, Vi, was too drunk to even care. She was practically laughing like crazy the whole time. Nate seemed too shock at what happened. He stood up from his seat and walked away. "Nate, I'm sorry!" I tried to say, but he didn't even look back. My heart sunk as I watched him find his way into the rest rooms.

I had the attention of everyone in the room. Just like earlier today, I tried to not let their piercing looks bother me. I was about to bolt out of the room when a gentle hand grabbed my shoulder. I turned around to see a pair of familiar blue eyes. They were so like Nate's, which made me feel even worse. How could I have thought of him that way?

"Hey, let's get you washed up." She said in a soothing tone. I could only follow her as she led me to the restroom. "In case you're wondering, I'm Ciara. I'm Nathaniel's sister."

"I'm Lyla." It was all I could say. I wasn't even sure if she heard me.

When we arrived at the restroom, Ciara helped me clean up. It surprised me how motherly she seemed to be. She even used her own handkerchief to wipe away some of the mess I got all over my shirt. I told her it wasn't necessary, but she insisted. I couldn't help, but notice how angelic she looked. She moved gracefully even if the situation didn't call for it. Whenever she spoke to me, it was always in that gentle tone. I even started crying in front of her. Today was just too much of a rollercoaster ride. I made a fool out of myself twice. Why couldn't things work out for me today?

"Hush now." Ciara said. To my surprise, she gave me a hug. She patted my back soothingly.

I didn't know what to say. All I knew was that I was grateful for her kindness. It was something really rewarding after today's events.

"I can take you home." She offered.

"Oh, no. You've done more than enough." I said.

"I insist."

When we left the restroom, I noticed that Vi was still too busy talking with Chris over some drinks. I decided not to bother her, so as not to spoil her fun and because I sort of felt bad about what happened a while back. Thankfully, I didn't bump into Nate as well. All I had to deal with was the questioning looks that everyone was giving me. When Ciara and I were about to exit the bar, someone caught her attention.

"Leaving so soon, Ciara? You're supposed to enjoy your birthday!" The man said.

I felt horrified when I heard this. Not only was I taking advantage of Ciara's kindness, but I also ruined her own birthday party. She must've noticed the worried expression on my face because she suddenly said, "It's no big deal, Lyla."

It was though, and I couldn't help but feel even worse.

A few days passed and I barely went out of our apartment ever since that night. Vi and I didn't talk so much either. Maybe she felt guilty about what happened. I wanted to tell her that it was okay, but I also didn't want to talk about that night again. I hoped that this little rift between us would heal on its own soon.

It was almost noon, but I was still curled up in my bed. I didn't feel like doing anything today. There was also something that in the back of my mind that kept bugging me. That night, when Ciara took me home, she told me something. It's been bothering me so much.

"I think you should stay clear of my brother, Lyla. He's not who you think he is." Ciara told me this just as I stepped out of her car. Before I was able to ask her why, she gave me a smile and said, "Hey, let's hang out sometime. You take care, okay?" Without waiting for me to answer, she drove off.

I kept on wondering what Ciara meant when she said that.

Curiosity finally took the best of me because I found myself making my way to that basketball court again. I didn't know if I should've been surprised or anything, but I saw Nathaniel Dean again. He was having a one on one with another girl. I rolled my eyes at the sight of him guarding that girl. Is she your sister too, Nate? I snorted. I tried to imagine myself in that girl's place. I was like that too, probably. I must've been smiling like an idiot when I played against him. I was right all along. Nathaniel Dean is a womanizer. He uses basketball as a way to flirt with girls. He must've won and broken a lot of hearts just by doing that. It's a good thing he didn't get mine, I thought to myself.

As I walked away, my eyes started to get teary. I stubbornly wiped them away. Or did he? I let the question hang in my mind as I continued walking. I didn't even know where I was headed. I was deep in thought when I heard a beep behind me. I turned around to see Ciara in her white car.

"Hey, Lyla! Are you busy today?"

"Um, not really."

"Perfect! Why don't you come with me to the mall? I have a few errands to run."

I thought about it for a moment. I wasn't really going to do anything today, so I might as well just tag along. After all, Ciara seemed like good company. "Alright." I said.

When Ciara mentioned errands, I didn't think she actually meant shopping for clothes and shoes. Apparently, she was having a party with some of her friends tonight and she didn't have anything to wear. I felt out of place in the dress section. I couldn't even remember if I even owned one. This is the reason why I felt so confused every time Ciara would ask me about which color looked better or which design she should pick.

We spent a lot of time going through the racks until she finally found something she liked. I was ready to head to the cashier when she stopped me.

"We're not done yet." She said. "We haven't found one for you."

"What?" I asked in surprise. "I don't have any money. Besides, where would I wear it to?"

"It's on me, Lyla." Ciara took my hand as she led me to the racks of clothing once again. "You're coming with me to tonight's party."

"B—but!" I tried to protest.

"Oh, you must. Think of it as a way for making it up to me for what happened at the sports bar."

I froze. I didn't have anything else to say. I guess I had to play along with her.

"I love sports, but I'm not into the sort of places that Nathaniel loves to go to. This time, I decided to throw a party my own way." She winked at me as she handed me a white dress. "Try that on, okay?"

I felt self-conscious as I walked into the restaurant with Ciara. I didn't feel as if I belonged here. People were dressed formally. Some were chatting with glasses of wine in their hands. Others were on the dance floor, swaying to the music of a classical band. It really didn't help when everyone's attention turned towards our direction. I silently prayed that I would look unnoticeable while walking with someone was beautiful as Ciara. I allowed her to walk a few steps in front of me. She kept her blonde hair up this time. Even if she was wearing a black dress, she could still pull off looking angelic.

I looked down at my own dress. It was basically a short white dress. I felt more exposed than usual because it was tube. Ciara had let me borrow a gray belt that had an ornate flower buckle that went around my waist and a pair of silver heels. I felt pretty uncomfortable because I could barely breathe and at the same time, I was having trouble walking properly.

I was relieved when Ciara and I finally took our seats. I was just munching on some things that a waiter called "hors d'oeuvres" when a young man sat beside Ciara.

"Hello Ciara."

"Hello Carter."

"I just wanted to know who your lovely companion is."

I was shocked when I realized he was talking about me. I averted my gaze.

"Her name's Lyla. You wanna ask her for a dance?" Ciara smiled at me. "Go on."

"B-but I'm no good at dancing!" I said.

"I'd be happy to teach you." A voice said. When I turned to the direction of the voice, I saw Nate. He was wearing a black suit. It felt weird to see him in something formal. I hate to admit it, but it fit him well. He had his hand outstretched towards me. I was about to place my hand in his when I suddenly remembered what happened a few days ago and what happened in the court earlier. He's not who you think he is. Ciara's warning kept ringing in my head. I felt torn, but I knew what I had to do.

I stood up and looked straight into those blue eyes of his. "I'm sorry, Nate. Carter asked me first." Carter immediately took his place beside me and offered me his hand. I still had my eyes on Nate when I took Carter's hand. I smiled at him.

"Sorry, Nate. Maybe you can have the next dance." Carter said. With that, I let Carter lead me to the dance floor. I felt somewhat triumphant because I was able to turn him down. Another part of me felt disappointed. I couldn't understand it, really. After ditching me the other night and treating me like just another one of his potential targets, I somehow wanted to dance with Nathaniel Dean.

A/N Please leave a comment if you're following this story. Thanks a lot for the support.