Author's note: This came out of no where. Read if you dare.
It was always so fascinating to observe the creativity of the teenage mind. That was only the tip of the iceberg. Their attitude was riveting with absolutely no regard for authority – you could tell with the way they carried themselves. Obviously there was only one clique that could pull this off and be worshipped for it; they just begged to be watched.
They reminded her of Gossip Girl but without the exaggerated drama. Their clothes – creativity, like she said – was a different matter.
"Why are you just standing there?" Lisa muttered and hip checked her to the side. "I want to go home!" Her sister did a complete one eighty when she didn't move immediately and made a grab for her arm. "Quickly! I don't want anyone to see that you're picking me up."
Amelia rolled her eyes, and turned away from the picturesque group. A little because she needed to teach Lisa a lesson, but mostly because she was beginning to feel like a stalker. "Relax, will you? I can't wait for you to grow up and realize how foolish you're being." She muttered that last bit under her breath, and then louder, "Besides, you should get on your knees and thank me. You're the one who totalled your car."
Lisa glared sullenly but said nothing else.
Oh the life of summer vacation. In all honesty Amelia didn't mind playing chauffeur to her slightly spoiled and incredibly ungrateful seventeen-year-old sister. To be fair, she was only like this when Amelia decided to give Lisa a hard time, usually through amazingly easy methods.
"What did I tell you about wearing that in public?" Lisa hissed when she gave a proper overlook of her attire. The horrifying note in her voice couldn't have been more sweet. "You look awful. We need to go. Now!"
Lisa was wearing the school uniform, but Amelia had to say it looked particularly fetching on her without being indecent. Then again, Lisa exuded a sort of alluring disposition that made her look glamorous in a ratty shirt and nondescript shorts. Meanwhile, Amelia currently sported her worn-out shirt with her university's name across her chest and jean shorts that had paint splattered in random areas, suggesting more of an accident in the daycare than designer material. Let's not mention her used-to-be-black Keds.
"I was studying," Amelia said with an amused grin.
"Of course you were. It's summer vacation and you decided to take two classes. You disgust me."
"I was bored!" Amelia declared. "You can't expect someone to stop cold turkey from six courses to absolutely nothing."
"You have a job!"
"And nothing else the rest of the day! Just get in the car, your people are staring."
Lisa listened to Amelia for once. Lisa ducked into the black BMW that used to belong to their cousin, and just as Amelia reached for the handle, a loud piercing whistle made her hand stop midair. Quizzically, she turned her head, and suppressed a groan when she met the sight of four teenage boys, all equally gorgeous and handsome in their own right.
"Lisa," she said loudly enough for her sister to hear. "Your friends have something to say to you."
"What?" Her muffled voice cleared as she rolled the window from the driver's seat. "Oh."
Amelia glanced between Lisa's suddenly frosty stare and a boy who looked like his ego deflated slightly at the less-than-welcoming reception. Still, those brown eyes and lean body even made Amelia look twice. Too bad she had an aversion to teenagers.
The fact that she was twenty-going-on-twenty-one probably had something to do with it. Hiding her grin, she stepped aside. "I'll be over there." She pointed to the Starbucks across the street. "Call me when you're done." She jogged across the parking lot, shoving her hand into her pocket for the bill she left the other day. The line was long with the majority being the students who were just let out of class, and the place was packed. Still, she got behind a particularly tall red head chatting on her cell phone and checked her phone for the time.
"I remember you."
The voice startled her, and as she whipped around, her eyes caught brilliant gleaming hazel eyes that reminded her of burning wood. It was one of the four boys, but this time he was alone. His dark chestnut hair looked windswept, and his skin was the perfect ivory shade without a sight of blemish. Amelia realized she was staring.
"I'm sorry?" The line moved forward and she followed.
He copied her movements. "I said I remember you." When her quizzical look only intensified, he smiled and continued with, "You went to this school."
"Oh. Yeah, I did." She studied him more closely, but she couldn't place him anywhere in her memories. Then again, she scarcely paid attention to the younger grades and their drama. He definitely looked like he towed around his fair share of drama, and Amelia was less judgemental out of the jungle she called high school, but Eastwood Prep had its fair share of drama associated with the beautiful. Probably genetically programmed in them or something else beyond her understanding.
"I'm Harvey Warren."
She reached forward to shake his hand. "Amelia Fairview." She cleared her throat and looked away from his perpetually amused gaze. She cued in the awkward silence, and pretended to check her phone. Soon, the uneasiness from his relentless stare made her open her mouth again. "So, I take it my sister and your friend have a problem?"
"Lisa can get pissed," he said with a shrug. He nodded to the moving queue and she eliminated the space. "Jesse's in love with her."
Amelia smiled. "Yeah? That's nice."
"What're you studying?"
Strange guy, she thought, watching him look at the name printed across her chest. Only a few beats later did she realize he was staring at her breasts and she was letting him. Face burning, she turned to the side inconspicuously. Brilliant. Flustered by an eighteen year old. "Astrophysics," she managed to say. He let out a low whistle and she laughed at the exaggerated look of reverence on his face. "What are you planning on getting into?"
"I don't want to tell you now. It doesn't sound as great as 'astrophysics'."
Amelia merely smiled. "I promise you, it's just a thinly veiled attempt of grandeur to hide how torturous it really is."
"In that case, art." To her pleasant surprise, a pink tinge spread across his gloriously handsome face, along with a slow smile that unexpectedly made her stomach feel like she fell into a pit. "But mostly business."
"You look like a business kind of guy." With a newfound curiosity, she gazed at him. "Art and business? That's not something I hear often."
"You know how it is," he said vaguely. "You want to do something, but your parents insist on the other."
"I'm sure it won't be bad," she said, reverting to her soothing maternal voice. Her friends liked to remind her she had an unnatural strong maternal instinct, and it kicked into gear when she thought someone was in distress. "Maybe after first year you can talk to them again, because you've actually done it. So if it makes you completely miserable, have a nervous breakdown and blame it on the program."
She was only partly kidding, but the way his face lightened made her wish she was the funny kind of girl that could make people laugh with a single comment. At that thought, she mentally face-palmed, thanking God that it was her turn in line to order.
"Java chip frap," she said anxiously. "Amelia," she said, when asked for her name. A hand suddenly clamped her wrist when she reached to hand her bill, and a deep gravely voice from behind her said,
"Make that two. Thanks."
Almost in disbelief, she watched Harvey pay for her drink. Twisting her head, she gazed up at him with raised eyebrows.
"I'm paying you back," she said firmly.
His teeth flashed. "How about a rain check?"
Against her will, she smiled and shook her head amusedly. She forgot how suave teenage boys could be. The guys she hung around were more inclined to see her as an older sister because of the way she fretted over them.
"You're very nice to strangers," she told him as they waited for their drinks. "Thank you, by the way."
"I wasn't kidding about the rain check."
At this Amelia had to laugh. "Is this the usual way you make friends? I have to say it's effective."
"Isn't it?" He crossed his arms over his chest, and Amelia tried to keep the pleasant smile pasted on her face, instead of checking him out like she wanted to. "You don't remember me at all, do you?"
The words threw her off, and made her feel guilty, even as she furrowed her eyebrows in concentration. "I don't," she said finally. "Remind me?"
"If you've forgotten, I don't think I want to remind you," he said, an inkling of a teasing tone in his voice. "You took the blame when I got into a fight with Nick Deleon because you knew I'd lose my spot on the soccer team if coach found out. Somehow you got Nick off the hook as well."
As he told her, she began to remember until the whole scene flashed through her head. She stared at him, agog. "Harvey Warren?" she said in disbelief with new found meaning. "You were… I mean…" She gestured furiously to half her height and her eyes shot to his hair. "Wow," she finally said. "I'm stunned."
He grinned. "I look good, huh?"
Laughing, she swatted his shoulder playfully. "You were a cutie. You still are."
"Why, thank you. I've always thought you were pretty."
Amelia grinned, despite the warming of her cheeks. "I'm in ratty shorts and a washed out shirt. You know how to make a girl feel great."
A lazy grin lifted his lips, and Amelia couldn't help her gawk when he obviously, and crudely, gave her a once over. Her right hand was throbbing before she even knew it.
"Ow." He laughed, but made no move to caress the abused area. Probably didn't hurt at all. Amelia scowled as she cradled her throbbing fingers. "That's not a reaction I usually get. I apologize, I admit I may have wanted to see your reaction."
Her name was called out along with his and she quickly snatched her cold, sweet beverage. It was only a brief moment of hesitation until she sighed and pivoted to face his wide smile. She couldn't help her suspicious glare, but didn't address his out-of-place happiness. "Thanks again for the drink. Maybe I'll see you around."
"Maybe," he called to her back, and since he couldn't see, she smiled to herself as she pushed the door open.
"You know, I never thought I'd run into you on campus," a deep voice said behind her, and Amelia felt her heart jump to her throat as she turned her head slowly. It was strange to see Harvey Warren out of his perfect school uniform and in casual clothes. Not that it lessened his glamour. Even in a nondescript sweater and shorts with sweat making his longer hair stick to his forehead he managed to make heads turn. He pulled his earphones and took a step closer.
She couldn't stop gaping. "You go here?"
He glanced around, and casually said, "Yup."
Amelia forced herself to act normal. She shifted the books in her arms and they moved to the side to allow others access to the sidewalk. "I guess we did end up seeing each other," she muttered, mostly to herself, but didn't mind the smile that crossed his face. "Wow. So how do you like it so far?"
"You have no idea how many times people have asked me that."
"I'll bet." She giggled at the look of mock-pain on his face. "Tell me anyway."
"It's different," he said. "Definitely different. I know I hate the dorms, so I'm looking for a place off residence. I'm not even waiting for the next year," he scowled. "My room mate's a dick."
A surprised laugh escaped her. "Poor Harvey Warren. What about your classes?"
"I like it, surprisingly." He gave a slight smile, and his eyes seemed to gain a new kind of focus. "Were you headed somewhere?"
"I was just heading home to drop these off before lunch." She shifted again, and abruptly felt off-balance when he swept them out of her hold. "Hey!"
"I'll walk you," he said easily, taking lead even when he had no idea where she lived. She jogged to his side, not bothering to hide the fact that she was scrutinizing him. He glanced at her once, but other than the quirk that tugged his lips, he said nothing. It left Amelia disconcerted, but she wasn't going to be the first one to venture into awkward territory willingly.
"Thanks," she said as they neared her apartment and made a grab for her books. Then the words were coming out of her mouth before she could stop them: "Do you want to have lunch with me?"
His eyes lightened, her face burned, but all he did was side-step her reach and walk around her. "I thought I was going to have to invite myself over at that rate."
Amelia choked on her embarrassment and laughed breathlessly. This guy. "I see you're as confident as ever."
"You wouldn't take meek guys seriously."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Instead of answering he steered her to the entrance, and she let it go. She was merely repaying him for the beverage that summer and for walking her home. At least that's what she told herself as she opened the door. She could hardly believe she invited him in at all, and she had to turn her face away in case she was red. This was beyond ridiculous, she told herself firmly. He's a potential friend, and it doesn't matter how good looking he is.
She jolted from her thoughts and frowned at him. "Sorry?"
"You're giving me a look," he said with his own strange expression.
"Nothing," she said a little too hastily, and her eyes narrowed when a knowing look began to creep into his face. "So what do you want? I'm either for stir-fry or pasta right now, but you can pick. Are you thirsty?" She couldn't help her fussing over him. It was second nature, and only amplified when it was in her home. She grabbed her books and his bag, dropping it on the coffee table as she nudged him to sit.
"It doesn't matter," he said, and started to rise to help, but she gave a firm push, and told him he was the guest and he should let her play host. The amused look on his face was too cute for words so she beat it to the kitchen before she began to fluff his hair or something and pinch his cheeks like her Grandma would.
And there she went, shoving him into the friend zone. They could've had cutesy moments of cooking together where she would sneak longing, seductive glances, only to find him doing the same. Amelia smiled dryly at the image and let it go. He was four years younger than her, but here she was, being a massive creeper and fantasizing about him.
For the next two hours, she made sure to dote on him like a mother would, just to chase away these ridiculous feelings.
Sadly, Amelia was pretty much doomed from the moment he said hello. Harvey Warren proved to be a suave charmer, and the fact that he backed off and obliged her decision as her friend, he proved to Amelia just how magnificent he was. He walked her to her classes; he bought her medicine and soup when she was sick; he bought her a dozen cupcakes. That pretty much sealed the deal. He was good humoured and his love for art made her think he was so much more adorable than she originally thought.
And, okay, he looked good in suits, which he had to wear frequently because he was in the business program.
But it didn't matter because she doted on him like every other guy in her life, and like every other guy, he's accepted it. For once she wished he would surprise her by insisting his feelings, but the fact that she was like a mother probably killed any chance at sexual feelings. Not that he had any for her, because she's seen the sexpots that hung around him.
Her life was depressing.
A masculine hand with a cup of coffee appeared before her eyes. "What's with the glum face?" Dennis Hudson passed her the coffee and took a seat in front of her. Amelia smiled gratefully, thankful for the distraction from her school work. "I was watching you from the line. I usually have to tear you away from that textbook."
"It's because you don't understand the torture I'd have to go through if I don't love this material," she joked, and took a sip to gather her thoughts. "Nothing, I've been here too long." She glanced around the café she normally frequented to get a bit of work done before her lab and sighed. Dennis was her lab partner and friend ever since freshmen year during frosh week when she accidentally spilled her can of pop on his lap. And forever spent trying to get back into his good graces, which turned out to be easy, because he was a sucker for her home-cooked meals. See? Potential love story, doomed from the start. She even had the urge to fix his popped collar, but knew he'd throw a fit because that's how it's supposed to look. Yeah. For teenage boys.
"Is it because of that guy you keep staring at when you think he's not looking?"
"Dennis!" she hissed, lowering her head instinctively. "What on earth are you talking about? I'm just looking at the time."
"What?" he hissed back. "Obviously I'd notice this because if you're interested, he must be special."
She practically dropped her loose leafed papers in her haste to get away, but Dennis merely stood with her and grabbed her coffee.
His hand was outstretched to her in an annoyingly smug manner.
"Here you go," he said.
"Die. I'm not baking you that cake."
"What? That's just cruel! I bought the ingredients and everything." He was working the puppy dog look, and she felt her resolve breaking. Not that she had much of it anyway. "I even looked up how to do the icing so you wouldn't have to do so."
She spun to give him her best intimidating glare, but he merely twisted his handsome features into an even more pathetic look until she found herself sighing.
He was grinning before she even opened her mouth.
"Hey, man, Amelia was just talking about you."
Amelia belated realized he was peering over her head, and it felt like lead was in her stomach. When was the last time she felt like this? High school? Like a condemned person, she slowly turned around and saw Harvey behind her, eyebrows raised quizzically, a slight questioning smile forming on his lips.
She was going to bake that cake, all right, and shove it up Dennis' nose where it belonged.
"Hi." She even managed a smile for his girlfriend holding his hand. "Hi, Lorraine." The pretty blonde smiled warmly. "How are you two?"
"Not bad." Lorraine playfully nudged Harvey. "He was helping me with some math homework, which I heard you spent agonizing hours trying to teach him."
"Hey, it wasn't hours," Harvey exclaimed, but winked at Amelia. "Besides, this is like a second language to her. I was the one who had to suffer through death threats and disappointed glares."
They all laughed, and Dennis politely introduced himself when Harvey gazed at him. They left at the same time, and when they separated, Dennis sighed.
"Shit, Amelia, I'm –"
"Don't," she said, hating the way her voice caught in her throat. She avoided his eyes because her own were stinging. Which was stupid because it wasn't like she loved him or anything. It was a silly crush driven by her fantasies – not because she genuinely adored Harvey as a person.
"Amelia –" But all he did was put an arm over her shoulders and hugged her to his side.
It was beyond ridiculous, playing hide-and-seek with Harvey, but she couldn't stomach the thought that she was actually in love with him. What kind of person did that make her, if she were to willingly force her presence on him – knowing her own feelings – when he had a girlfriend? Surely she'd drop signs – subconscious ones – but signs nonetheless.
She finally worked the nerve up to visit him when she heard he was sick, but Lorraine was already there, and she didn't want to subject herself to… whatever awkward moment awaited her there. She merely left her home cooked soup, medicine and cough drops in her capable hands and went to study for the quiz the next day she knew she'd ace.
"I heard what you did," Harvey smiled from the other side of her door. "I came here to thank you."
She stepped aside to let him in. "You couldn't have sent me a text message?" she suggested mildly, but was partly serious. She hasn't showered yet and she was in the middle of cooking, so she had her most unattractive clothes on because she couldn't find her apron.
"How am I supposed to send you these cupcakes through text?" He brandished the white box with that handsome grin of his and walked to the kitchen without another word.
Amelia face-palmed on her way after him.
"Thank you, sweetheart," she said with a small smile as she patted his shoulder. "You shouldn't have. That home cooked chicken noodle was already sitting in my fridge. I didn't make it for you or anything."
He merely smiled tightly and dropped his bag on a chair.
"Hungry?" she said absentmindedly as she checked the oven.
There was a long silence until he said, "Why didn't you stay?"
Quizzically, she turned her head but he was studying her lab manual on the table. "Sorry?"
"When you came the other day. I was awake, you know." He gazed at her. "I heard you talking to Lorraine, but you didn't come in."
"Oh, I had somewhere to go right after," she answered easily. "Besides, I did think you were sleeping. I didn't want to disturb you."
He looked upset when she glanced at him, but his face turned neutral when he realized she was staring. "Right."
She had a pretty good radar for distress, and with the way he was running his hand through his hair, she'd have to say there was something on his mind. Amelia abandoned the oven and tried not to fuss over him too much. Behind him, her hand hovered over his head, behind his neck, over his shoulder… where the hell was she supposed to comfort him? She settled for his arm just as he turned to face her quizzically.
His face smoothed over. He did that a lot when he was thinking, or he didn't want to tell her something. In fact, its frequency had increased the past few weeks, so Amelia sat next to him. Maybe he wanted to share something he's been keeping to himself, eating at him inside.
"I'm not a mind reader, Warren."
"It's…" He closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. He looked almost annoyed. "It's nothing. I just wanted to be around you for a while."
Her heart warmed. "Not a problem. I know when to shut up." With a slight grin, she stood. The rest of the evening was spent lazily eating their dinner and dozing in front of the television to a bad film Harvey loved and Amelia hated. The credits just began to roll when she opened her eyes and felt something leaning against the top of her head, and she giggled to herself.
"Don't move," came his lazy, deep gravely voice that made her face flush like a teenager. "I'm comfortable."
"Well what about me? I have a rock on my head."
"I resent that."
She smiled. "Here, I'll move so you can lie down comfortably. Your neck must be stiff."
All of a sudden as she started to rise, his arm clasp around her waist, and anchored by his weight, fell sideways on the couch. It was an awkward, uncomfortable position, only because she was extremely aware of his hard body against her back, and if she shifted, she could feel the rise of his chest as he inhaled and exhaled slowly.
"I can't believe you," she finally sputtered when he said nothing.
"I told you not to move." The smile was clear in his voice. To her absolutely astonishment, she felt him pull her closer and his chin rested easily in the juncture of her neck. She could feel his warm breath against her skin.
Obviously she was dreaming. This was a dream; Harvey wasn't a touchy-feely kind of person. Okay, maybe he was, but not with her! Not like this! It took everything in her not to scramble to her feet, because that would be a dead giveaway. I mean, friends lied down friends like this, didn't they?
Okay, obviously not guys, unless they liked each other, but this wasn't like that. Girls and guys just had that easy-going flirty… kind of… relationship. It was just chemistry, but it didn't have to mean anything. Besides, Harvey was sleepy, and she smelt pretty damn good -
If she took a shower, which she didn't, so it wasn't that. Probably because she made a good bolster.
… Why the hell did girls think so damn much? Disgruntled, Amelia rolled her eyes at her thoughts.
"If you're this sleepy, maybe you should go home," she finally suggested, unable to take the heat of his body against hers without exploiting it in… well, anyway. "Or I could grab you a blanket and a pillow. Or you could take my bed, it's really comfortable. The mattress is firm but not too firm." She was rambling.
"Shut up," he murmured against her ear and threw a leg over her own. Her face was approaching temperatures of the sun. "This is nice."
"Y-yes, of course." Why was he doing this to her? "Well, since you've made yourself comfortable… I'm going to take a shower now." She removed his limbs from her body as mechanically as she could and tried her hand at a warm, big-sister smile. Would've worked too if he didn't look at her with those bedroom eyes.
This wasn't right. Her smile turned tight and she whirled on her heels. "I need to get laid," she muttered as she turned the corner. By someone she didn't fuss over. Someone who stood on equal ground with her.
It didn't matter though. It was just a nice thought.
These freaking heels will be the death of her.
Her lab partners' best friend, Sun, immediately sent her a quelling look, as if hearing her thoughts of escape. "You need to get out more. Dennis told me that you've been pining -"
"Pining! Tell him to shove it where -"
"- and besides the fact that I'd get you so drunk you won't remember whoever this is, I haven't had a girls' night out with you in centuries!" She crowed loudly, thankfully drowned by the music and chatter by the bar. Amelia smiled, despite herself. Well, it was true they haven't seen each other in a while, but Amelia also knew Sun was reaching the brink of her sanity with Dennis and his oblivious tendencies. Sun was also stubborn, so she didn't quite understand why seeing Dennis with other girls bothered her so much. Amelia chose to wisely stay out of it.
"Isn't that Dennis over there?" Amelia pointed out mildly, probably not at the best time before he'd just leaned over the table to listen to whatever his date was saying, and her body language couldn't have been more clear. Sun was already stomping to the bar by the time Amelia turned. "Oops," she muttered and hurried after her.
"Do this with me," Sun demanded, practically shoving the lemon into her hand. She had six little shot glasses lined up, and Amelia opened her mouth to reprimand her - only to have her shove a slice of lemon into it.
"Sun!" she coughed and glared, only to have her smile mischievously. "Fine."
Three shots and a lot of other lovely alcohol later, Amelia finally dragged Sun away from the bar and onto the dance floor where, hopefully, she was able to get Sun to… dance the alcohol out of her system. It proved to be difficult to keep her in one place.
"This is great!" Sun shouted gleefully to Amelia, who was busy glaring away someone who tried to grind against her ass. "We should do this more - oof! - more often!" Sun stumbled again and righted herself against Amelia. "Let's get another drink!"
"No!" Amelia shouted, and tried to cover up. "Um… let's go cool off! And then I'll get you another drink." Yes. Water.
Sun happily agreed (she was a happy drunk) and grabbed her hand, heading to the patio. With a start, she saw Dennis smoking against the railing, and discreetly tried to pull Sun back, but even drunk, she was quick.
"Oh, look, it's Dennis," she sang, and smacked his shoulder his greeting as he turned around in surprise. "How are you this fine evening?"
"Sun." His face relaxed into a smile and gave her the customary rib crushing hug. Then he stopped. "Are you drunk?"
"Yes," Amelia countered, and smiled when Dennis looked over at her for the first time. "Hi, Dennis. She needed some fresh air."
"Yeah." He frowned at Sun who was busy trying to stay still in one spot. "What the hell are you wearing, anyway?"
"A dress," she retorted. "Amelia said it looked good."
"It does," Amelia said.
"It's indecent," Dennis immediately shot back, even though it looked fine to Amelia, and if it was fine to her, then it should be fine with Dennis. But then again, while it covered Sun's rather buxom figure, it did wonders for her long legs, which was still cut tastefully mid-thigh.
"Your date's boobs are ready to smother me," Amelia said mildly, "and that dress barely covers her butt."
Sun assumed the position of a haughty female… only to sway and be clasped to Dennis' side.
"That's different," Dennis said defensively. "Sun is… and what she's wearing isn't… I mean -"
"Makes sense," Amelia said sagely, to which Dennis glowered, and Sun muttered, "I think I'm going to be sick."
Her humour disappeared and Amelia immediately reached for her friend, but Dennis swept her into his arms. "I'll handle this," he said tightly, scowling at Sun. "Will you be alright by yourself?" he asked Amelia.
Amelia could barely keep herself from swooning at the situation. "Not a problem! I'm not drunk," much, "I'll just be… around. My cell's on me." Only when they disappeared to the washroom did she realize that her cell phone was in Sun's clutch. Crap.
Oh well. Amelia made her way to the bar, and against her better judgement, had a few more drinks. She knew she'd reach the point where her bladder would burst and her stomach wanted to come out from her mouth, but her high tolerance came in handy for times like these.
She tried to pretend she was alone at a bar, sulking over a dramatic life event. You know, like the ones in those movies. She even hunched in her seat, while her feet in those pumps throbbed like a sonovabitch.
Now she just needed someone to say to her, "Bad day?"
And she's reply with, "Bad week, is more like it."
She peeked under her eyelashes for a friendly but concerned bartender, but the bartender this night looked like he hated his job and his life in general, so she supposed her lonely role-playing wouldn't amuse him if she dragged him into it. So much for stereotypes.
Maybe she could try her hand at seduction and have a nice person pay for her drink.
…No. Or maybe…
Her eyes swept her vicinity, and noticed all the couples around her. Well at least she played some sort of stereotype. The lonely single drinking her woes away, hypothetically, if she had woes. She wasn't even lonely. She was just single.
What the hell was she even thinking? It was the alcohol.
"I thought it was you."
She looked up and saw Harvey. Well what a coincidence. According to clichés, the main male lead was supposed to be angry she was alone at the bar, but observing the smile on his face, he wasn't. How disappointing.
"Hi," she said, and motioned to the empty seat next to her, which he took. "What're you doing here?"
"Probably the same reason you're here."
"Girls' night out?"
"…Okay, no," he laughed, "I got dragged tonight." He made a show of looking around her. "Where's the plural to your girl?"
"Drunk, in the washroom with a friend," she explained. "I forgot my cell phone was with her, so I'm waiting until they come back." She slanted a look at him. "Who are you with?"
"Friends," he shrugged. She glanced around, but didn't see anyone waiting for him. She smiled instead and took a gulp of her drink to ignore the prickling awkwardness on her skin. Ever since that evening in her apartment, this weird feeling she had whenever she was around him skyrocketed until she realized she couldn't handle it. It was too intense, and it annoyingly clouded her common sense. Of course it wasn't anything to him; he didn't even mention that night.
Sometimes the way girls overanalyzed their lives were annoying as hell. She wished, at times like these, she was insensitive.
Absentmindedly she glanced at him, and nearly choked on her drink when his eyes met hers. It was the most intense look she's ever received from anyone, and it made her feel warm in places she'd rather not be warm for a guy four years younger than her. She didn't know if she was just using that excuse now, because older girls have been with younger guys since the beginning of time, but to Amelia, it felt like a violation of her sense of self. She wasn't that kind of girl. She was the maternal one; the one they went to when they hearts were broken so she could make them a nice meal and watch a movie with them because they would never ask a guy friend to do so.
And now freaking Harvey Warren was looking at her like he wanted to take her to his bed.
She had to retreat. Now.
"Oh," she said as casually as she could, but ended up choking. "I see them. I'm going to…" She shot to her feet, winced at her throbbing blistered, and smiled at Harvey, who was suddenly smiling at her. This feeling of intimidation was foreign and she didn't know how to handle it. "I'll see you around."
"Alright," he said, swinging around in his seat to watch her leave. "Amelia!"
She winced, but quickly schooled her face and looked over her shoulder. "Yes?"
"You're a terrible liar."
She didn't know what to say to that, or to that inviting look on his face, or to the way he was just casually leaning against the counter, almost daring her. Before she knew it, her features slanted into a ferocious scowl and she gave him her most dirty look of life. What did he think he was doing, come hither-ing her? If she had a rock, she'd throw it at his head.
"I'm an excellent liar," she let him know. "Don't tell me otherwise!" She flounced away, and only when she was staggering to her room later that night did she realize how stupid he made her look.
"I can't believe I agreed to this," Amelia muttered viciously under her breath, trying not to flinch or scratch her boob like she wanted to. "I mean, I know I was bribed, but this doesn't feel like it's worth it at all."
"Shut up and just smile," Harvey ordered through a fake smile as the photographer bossed them around for the final picture. When they were released, Amelia breathed a sigh of relief and let the pressure of the camera roll off her as he photographer walked away. This business banquet was quite fancy, she was surprised to see, unlike the associations she was involved in, which were… not as fancy. She was wearing her blasted heels, for Pete's sake.
Harvey's arm curled around her waist, and she let him because she agreed to be his date for the night. It didn't make much sense to her, his reasoning, but she figured she'd agree to so the poor boy would stop talking in circles. He was adorably nervous, and if she didn't fear his death glares, she would bring it up.
"So," she said, glancing at the pretty girls who smiled enthusiastically at Harvey from across the room. "Remind me why you didn't just ask one of them? Then you wouldn't have to come to New York with me." She brightened at the reminder at what she coerced him to do in return for this night, which wasn't bad at all. Still, she didn't have to make it easy for him. "Or maybe you actually cared what they thought and you didn't want to stammer in front of them?"
She giggled behind her hand as he scowled, the faintest of pink on his cheeks.
"Can you let it go?" he said. "You make me nervous."
She laughed. "I'm glad."
He opened his mouth to say more, but a group of his friends approached. Amelia was content to step back and observe him interact. The way his lips curled into a faint smile. How he stood. He was funny, sweet, and endlessly curious, especially about her work. Sometimes he would come over just to sit with her as she studied, reading one of her textbooks. She had a lot more fun explaining the concepts and learning at the same time, then her studying alone in the library study room for hours on end.
His arm tightened around her waist, and automatically she looked up quizzically, only to see him smiling at someone she missed. There was nothing special about the moment. He didn't say anything life altering, or no one pointed out the epiphany she should've had weeks ago, but for some reason, was only going through it now.
She was in love with Harvey Warren. It only took her the thousandth time to see him smile for her to realize? What the hell was this? She almost wanted to run through a wall from the intensity of her realization. What was she supposed to do now? She couldn't dismiss it anymore. It wasn't the same as liking someone. She was genuinely in love with him as a person.
Amelia wanted to cry, laugh and cuss at the same time.
"Sorry about that," Harvey said apologetically as he led her away. "I know you're hungry, too. They're serving dinner in a few."
Amelia forced a smile. "Great!" Her eyes darted anywhere, everywhere, all around except on him. Okay. This… was… doable. She just needed a game plan. Obviously she couldn't have him drive with her to New York now. She'd probably do something stupid like jump him. Or even worse, make him break off their friendship.
He looked at her curiously. "Are you okay? You look more fidgety than usual."
Amelia laughed it off, but perhaps she made more of a cackling sound, because his lips twitched, and people were looking at her like she was psycho.
She cleared her throat. "Just hungry." She settled in her seat with an inaudible sigh and tried not to look like she'd rather be somewhere else, which was too hard because she did like to be near Harvey, but the fact that she knew he definitely didn't feel the same way dampened her frenzied mood. Even though he and Lorraine weren't dating, she still noticed the girls he was around. Speaking of…
"Hi, Harvey," a brunette chirped. Her glossy hair was in a high ponytail that swished every time her head moved and her green eyes were lined with kohl. Amelia thought she was very pretty, and from the way he looked at her, Harvey did to.
"Hey Pia." Harvey then gestured to her and made an introduction, to which Amelia smiled warmly at the friendly grin on Pia's face. They quickly fell into a conversation about their last presentation together and their group members, and Amelia tried hard not to listen, which wasn't hard because she could tune out on demand. Instead, her eyes wandered over the room. It wasn't until she felt Harvey's hand on her thigh that she snapped to attention.
"I'm sorry?" Amelia said quizzically.
"I was just impressed that you managed not to die of complete boredom." Pia laughed. "I mean, did he really bribe you to come?"
Amelia relaxed. "It's more of a two-way deal," she said. "I get something out of it. Besides, I'm not having a bad night." Amelia nudged Harvey. "It helps that my date is a complete gentleman."
"I see." Pia regarded him questioningly. "So you didn't ask her?"
Amelia turned to Harvey quizzically, but he just shook his head.
"Ask me what?"
Pia smiled apologetically. "Oh, no. I was talking about…" she trailed off, darted a quick glance at Harvey who merely pretended to be interested in his watch. "Never mind. I'll talk to you two later, okay?"
Amelia watched Pia practically run, and eyebrows furrowed, she turned to Harvey. The dishes were being served, but she couldn't shake the feeling that she should know something about the exchange.
Well there was no point in beating around the bush. "Who was she talking about?"
She would've dropped it if she didn't notice his deliberate gestures that screamed he was brushing her off. He'd reached for his glass of water and drank until she looked away. He probably wasn't thirsty, and she hoped he had to pee a lot during the evening. Sighing, Amelia turned to her plate and thanked the waiter.
"You know," she grumbled, "I thought we were past petty secrets in our relationship."
"It's not petty," he said. "It's… you wouldn't understand. Just drop it."
Amelia could not believe what she heard. Slowly, she turned her head. "I wouldn't understand?" she checked. His jaw tightened and he shoved the pasta into his mouth. Wrong choice of words, he realized. Good. Still, she was going to chew him up. "You do realize who you're talking to, right?"
"I do," he said, "and I stand by my words. Hell, I realize exactly who I'm talking to, and that's how I know I mean it when I say that it's nothing." He gazed at her seriously. "Let it go, Amelia. You don't need to know."
For the first time, she felt furious at Harvey. How dare he presume that she wouldn't understand? She was the most understanding person she knew! She could blend in with everyone - understand - sympathize if anything! - and he was telling her that she wouldn't understand?
But then she stopped, and the fury was slowly replaced with something more icy and heavier that made its way from her stomach and up her chest. What if… she was the presumptuous one? Thinking that he considered her as close a friend as she did he? Well. He didn't. This wasn't just about that secret. He could've brushed it off jokingly, like he always has. Instead, he sprung up defensively, like she was a prying stranger. Like he didn't know her well enough by now that she wouldn't take offence; instead, it felt like she was so thoroughly dismissed that it took a while for the cheek it set in.
At that revealing thought, everything came crashing down. This wasn't important to him, she realized. Whatever was happening between them. The looks, the late-night conversations, the insanely nice gestures he had. It didn't mean anything, because he was just that kind of person - someone who did it for anyone - for any girl.
Amelia didn't realize that she thought she was special until she knew that she wasn't.
This epiphany hurt a thousand times worse than the first. And what was worse, she couldn't exactly ignore the hurt grabbing at her chest.
"Fine," she managed to fake-grumble. Then she smiled brightly when he glanced at her with a small frown. She suspected her eyes were glossy so she quickly looked across the table. "I was just being nosy, as usual."
"You weren't -"
"It's fine," she cut him off, smiled at him without looking into his eyes, and shoved food into her mouth. They couldn't exactly talk after that with all the guest speakers and presentations going on, and by the end, Amelia was too hurt to do anything, really. She couldn't believe all this stemmed from a stupid comment, but it still didn't erase reality. Hopefully she wasn't too bad of an actor tonight. She even laughed at some of their god-awful jokes.
Amelia cringed at the thought.
"Thanks for coming," Harvey cut the silence of his car.
"Not a problem."
"Sorry about the last presentation." He laughed uncertainly for a moment, and darted a glance at her. She kept her eyes firmly on the window. "I didn't know it'd be that bad. If I did, I would've grabbed you and ran."
Amelia forced a chuckle. "It wasn't that bad. He was good humoured, at least," she shrugged. "It takes a lot of courage to get up in front of people. Probably why I didn't take business," she added thoughtfully.
"Hey, it can't be as bad as me asking you out tonight."
The wounds smarted in her chest. This was ridiculous, she thought a little desperately. Just because she wasn't as close as she thought she was, doesn't mean she wasn't his friend at all! She was just feeling sorry for herself that she was finding reasons to hurt. It was stupid and annoying, and she just wished she was alone right now, just so she could screw her head on straight.
Too late did she realize she didn't reply.
"Amelia?" he said quietly. "About what I said earlier…"
Amelia wanted to hit her head against a wall. "Forget about it, Harvey. It was your business, not mine, and I shouldn't have attacked you like that. It was stupid."
There was silence. What could he say to that, anyway?
He walked her to her door even when he didn't need to, and stood silently at her side as she rooted for her keys. This was weird. They didn't have unnatural silences like these, but it was late, and she figured she could brush this night off as nothing.
"Well," she turned her heel to smile at him. "Good night. You drive home safely, okay?" Instinctively she reached to ruffle his hair and smooth it back, but halfway from raising her arm, she stopped herself.
Dear God, she was almost as bad as her mom. With an apologetic roll of her eyes, she smiled at him again and stepped into her apartment.
She felt like a giant creeper. Here she was, cowering behind her desk in the corner of the library with her textbook in front of her face… as she peeked over across the tables at Harvey who'd walked in an hour ago. Her first thought was to greet him, but he wasn't close enough, and her ass was sleeping, so moving would only provoke hysterical giggles due to the blood rushing back to its respectful place.
That, and they haven't exactly spoken in a few weeks. There were texts here and there. The hi-bye kind of thing as well, but Amelia now realized her self-proclaimed hermit life was a result of her bruised ego, and she should be the one to initiate a conversation.
But that was easier said than done, especially when he hasn't replied to the last of her six text messages. Not that she checked frequently. Still, she felt like a giant ass, because this wasn't how she treated people - her friends. Even if Harvey didn't return her feelings, it didn't mean he deserved this kind of treatment. She was a horrible, horrible bitch.
So there she was… staring at him across the room… trying to find the courage inside her that didn't exist. A hundred different excuses sprang to mind that it wasn't a good idea, right now, the top reason being they were in a library and it was silent enough for everyone to hear her likely rejection of friendship as she tried to mend this… rift.
…Screw it, she'll do it tomorrow.
Just as her head began to slither back behind the desk, she caught sight of his stretch, and only when he lifted his head did she notice how haggard he looked. He lifted his cup of coffee, only to frown and place it back on the table.
She fought the urge for about a minute before she found herself putting her things away and standing. Quietly, she went through the shelves to avoid being seen in the open area, and tried to ignore the voices in her head that told her just to suck it up. She was the older one, and here she was, acting like a twelve year old.
The trip to Starbucks took ten minutes tops, since it was… okay, practically across campus, but she walked really fast, so she wouldn't miss this one time she could make herself feel less of a bitch without actually… revealing herself.
To her luck, his desk was empty. Probably the washroom, and with a quick glance around, she didn't see him anywhere, so she walked briskly to his table, placed the coffee there (ignored a quizzical look from a nearby girl)… only to back-pedal and told her to let Harvey know that this drink wasn't poisoned, and it came from Lorraine.
On her way home, she pondered the chances of her taking a drink she just found on her table.
…Probably zero. Maybe she should've thought this through.
She must be stupid.
"I must be stupid," she muttered, shifting uncomfortably on spot, before sighing heavily and just knocked on the damn door. She managed to slip into his residence and hunt for his room, prepared to apologize for her stupid behaviour that was, really, causing her more harm than anyone else. It didn't have to go back to the easy-friendship they had (though it'd be really nice if it did), but she couldn't continue on with this… guilt for freezing him out when it wasn't even his fault! It was hers! She was so angry with herself she almost whirled around to stalk away.
Her heart was racing in her chest, and she could almost feel the relief of the release of this heavy feeling. Seconds ticked by, and she impatiently pounded against the door. He was not going to ignore her when she was finally here. She'd say her piece, and then leave. Hopefully he stopped her to let her know that all was well, but she wasn't holding her breath.
The door swung open, and Amelia blinked.
A dishevelled blonde pulled at what looked like Harvey's shirt. "Hi -" she yawned, "oh, excuse me," she smiled sheepishly. "Sorry, um, for my… appearance. Are you here to see Harvey or Diomedes? Dio's out for a run, and Harvey's in the shower."
"Oh," she heard herself say. "No, sorry, I have the wrong room. Thanks."
She was stupid.
Well, what should it matter? Why did she even freeze - what, just because she saw, first hand, that he's sexually active? Amelia tried hard to swallow through the lump in her throat, but she could barely continue to walk. She plopped on one of the benches in front of his residence to catch her breath, to get a grip on herself, because she was being ridiculous.
If this is how it felt to have your heart breaking, she didn't understand why people wrote songs of the magnificence of being in love. It hurt like a bitch.
Then again, she mused, trying to catch her breath, sad songs were written about unrequited love. And that's what it was, wasn't it? God, it sounded like some kind of virus. I'm infected with unrequited love - so sorry, currently unable to function due to spontaneous tearing and chest convulsions. She snorted a laugh through her tears.
"I thought girls hated to cry in public?"
Her eyes flew open, and she jolted in her seat. Harvey stood several feet away, catching his own breath, with a white towel slung over his shoulders, dressed only in a pair of black shorts. Her eyes desperately clawed its way to his face, but the image of his contracting abs were burned into her mind. Wonderful.
"I wasn't crying," she immediately denied, even as she wiped away her tears. "It was allergies. Allergy season," she added to his vacant face, which immediately came to life with a roll of his eyes.
"If you say so," he droned.
"I do." She stared at him looking at her. Her emotions were on the fritz, and she didn't know exactly what to feel, with him standing there, but it felt like an out-of-body experience as she stood and blurted, "I'm sorry."
And then she was rambling, didn't know her own train of thought, and only caught words like, …being stupid… pride… hormones… dramatic and girly… not your fault at all… was a huge bitch… and let me take you out for dinner. Or buy you dinner, we don't have to go out.
To which he exploded back with, "Can you just stop it?"
To which she blinked, and wondered exactly which part of her apology went wrong. Probably the execution. She was rambling.
"You know what?" he said, squaring his shoulders and marching to her. She had to look up. "I really hate it when you do that."
Her eyebrows furrowed. "Do what?"
"Assume." He gazed down at her, as if she was supposed to know what he meant, until he realized he was practically talking to a wall. "You pulled away because you thought I was just another stupid young freshmen who needed to be doted on. At the banquet, you assumed what I wanted to keep a secret from you was a reflection on our relationship - well it is," he muttered angrily, "but not in the way you think. You just assumed I slept was Bernice!"
Amelia could only blink. "Well, didn't you?"
"Even if you did, I don't think whatever I think matters," she felt duty-bound to point out.
Harvey's jaw clenched, and she could see the vein in his neck popping out. "Well," he said tightly, "it does."
Amelia rubbed her temples. She was so confused. "Okay," she said slowly. "So you didn't sleep with her. And I apologized." She looked at him quizzically. "You heard my horrible attempt at apologizing. I really am sorry," she repeated nervously, just to make sure it didn't go over his head, or he didn't get the main message. "You didn't deserve my awful bitchy attitude."
The fire seemed to die out and his shoulders slumped. "Yeah," he said, and cleared his throat. "What was that about, anyway?"
Crap. Vaguely she'd thought she could just blurt out her 'sorry!' and probably beat it without having to explain herself. Obviously she didn't think of an alternative.
She glanced around for a probable escape route, but sadly, found none. "I was just moody. I took it out on you." Couldn't exactly say: I thought you weren't my friend, and it really hurt that you'd dismiss me like that.
Well, she could, because that's how she felt, but she wasn't ready to face that yet.
He crossed his arms over his chest, and Amelia sighed. She wasn't much of a liar, anyway. "Look… I… Well, the bottom line is it really hurt, and maybe I jumped to a few conclusions, but it wasn't far off the mark." She bit her bottom lip. Probably shouldn't have said that. "I'm sorry."
"What do you mean?" he said immediately. "What were these conclusions?"
"You don't have to sound so patronizing," she grumbled. "I just thought - well, you know that I consider you a really good friend." God, this was torture. She'd rather do anything else but this. "And… Look, can I just buy you dinner and forget this whole thing?" she said almost desperately.
"No." He took another step to her, and successfully invaded her personal space. "You've been weird around me," he accused. "You've avoided me, you do so stupidly nice gestures you think are slick - but you turn around and treat me like a kid!" Frustrated, he ran a hand through his hair. "You're sending these mixed signals, and when I think I've got you figured out, you go and freeze me out, or make me soup when I'm sick."
"I don't do it on purpose," she said after a pause. "I mean… the soup, okay, I did."
"It's four years, Amelia," he said. "Not twenty. Even then I wouldn't care."
She gazed at him, agog. "You'd date a girl twenty years younger than you?"
He ignored her digression. "Why are you so hung up on numbers? If we like each other then shouldn't that be enough?"
"No," she said just as a point of argument. "I like my professors. I like my dad's best friend. That's nothing. You can't even begin to compare -"
"Well what about love?" he said sharply. "Would you lay down the social norms then? If I told you I was in love with you?"
Amelia felt like a fish. Excuse her while she picked her jaw off the ground.
"That…" she rubbed her temples. "…changes things."
"Not really." He was still scowling at her. "It's been this way for a while, but you were too busy pushing me away to realize that I wanted you."
"What the hell," she said incredulously. "Are you blaming me that you didn't have the guts to tell me?"
"Having the guts?" He looked like he wanted to shake some sense into her. "You think I didn't tell you because I didn't have the guts? Have you met yourself? You're the most close-off person I know!"
"Hey!" She was shouting now. "I'm the most open, understanding, honest - okay, not recently - but even then you can't blame me! You have all these girls around you like moths to a flame - I couldn't even begin to compete!"
"You never had to compete," he practically yelled. "If you looked at me for one second, you'd realize I was yours from the beginning!"
"Well you didn't have to be so bloody subtle about it." Amelia felt like she was spitting fire; she was that angry. "Does it look like I can read minds? I've been looking at you for weeks, Harvey, and if I picked up on that obvious clue, then I wouldn't be out here, crying!"
Amelia wasn't a violent person, but right now, she wanted to charge at Harvey Warren.
Harvey looked equally pissed off. "What are you trying to say?"
Wasn't he the one that practically called her oblivious? "Really?" she said incredulously. "You didn't pick up from my obvious hint just by looking at me that I loved you? Who would've thought? Because it was so damn obvious!" she shouted. She didn't have the patience to mock him, so she just yelled. She couldn't hit him, so she had to get away from him. "Look, I want to inflict pain on you, but since I can't, I'm going to cool off. Let's talk when you realize where you went wrong."
Fuming, Amelia stalked away, belatedly realizing the crowd they attracted in front of the residence. In fact, there were heads poking from the windows. Brilliant.
Suddenly, the ground disappeared beneath her, and a scream slipped past her lips. The same time she opened her eyes she became aware of the arms around her and the bare chest against her arm. It was all she could do to keep from smacking him or attacking him to the ground.
"What," she gritted through her teeth, "are you doing, exactly?"
"You piss me off," he said casually, and the first spark of panic she felt in her chest was when she realized he intended to lock them in a family washroom until… until what? She didn't want to find out.
"We can be pissed off at each other from a distance," she suggested. "In fact, that's how I believe it usually works."
Harvey smirked, just as the door clicked shut. To her astonishment, she was shaking not from nerves, but from anticipation.
"Believe me," he said quietly, reaching for her, "I'm angry at you." And then his head dipped low and his lips skimmed the outer edges of her ear. Suddenly the room was one hundred degrees hotter, and his hand beneath her shirt didn't help at all. "How long?"
"Um…" He'd pressed against her and his lips were currently sucking the juncture of her neck. How the hell did he expect for her to answer? "H-How long… what?"
His lips curved against her skin. "How long have you been in love with me?"
"What is this," she gasped when he bit her lightly, "are you trying t-to get me to feed your ego?"
"Not really." Eyes sparkling with joy and mischievousness, he deftly pulled her shirt off her body. She gasped when her back hit the cool wall behind her. "I just wanted to see how long I should punish you for keeping it a secret."
"Keeping it a…" Blood flooded her face as he expertly removed her bra and lowered his head. "You don't… have to -"
"How long?" he demanded.
"Weeks. Okay, months."
He pulled away, playfully frowning down at her. Flushed, she gazed up at him, and watched as the laughter slowly faded to leave a solemn look.
"I do love you," he said quietly. "I'll prove it to you, every day, until you believe me. Then I'll do it again, every day."
Amelia reached forward and cupped his jaw in her hand. Then she smiled. "Sounds like a threat."
He pulled her flush against his body, looked at her right in the eye, and smiled. "Oh, it is. Consider what I'm about to do next as a warning, in case you don't believe me."
She could've ran, but he would've caught her. Amelia never stood a chance, but she figured she was okay with that.