A/N: Hello everyone!

Okay, so I've posted this story a couple of weeks ago (I think) with a different title, but I deleted it the next day (I think) because I wasn't altogether confident about it. I'm SLIGHTLY now. So...hopefully, I won't delete this again.

1. This is going to be a short story (I think).

2. But comprised of long chapters, like 3k-word count or more.

3. Entirely told in the guy's point of view.

4. Contains a lot of swear words, so let this serve as a warning.

5. I'm just hoping you'd enjoy.=)


"The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves."
-Victor Hugo

"AURIC!"

I instantly stopped in my tracks, cringing at the high-pitched voice of Bailey.

Must my cousin really shout my name that loud? I bet the whole neighborhood knows it by now...even if houses here are like planets apart.

I turned around and found her skipping like a happy bunny along the dusty landscape, heading toward my way. "What?" I asked annoyingly when she made it in front of me.

"I have some good news for you," she answered with a big smile, her eyebrows shooting rapidly up and down her forehead.

Bailey is so weird I refuse to believe for even just one second we're related.

Why oh why did I ever agree to spend the summer here? Oh, right, I did NOT agree to this. I was sacked, literally, from Miami and shipped to this little dreary town of Milford.

Some kind of parents I have!

So I go to bars every night, what's wrong with that? School's over, summer vacation kicked in; I was just trying to live it up. But what do I get? A punishment?

And no, I'm not just pertaining to Bailey's loud mouth. I had to wake up every day to the smell of chicken crap and the sound of cows moo-ing like there's no tomorrow. And what's up with Aunt Rachel's tower of pancakes that I force to shove to my mouth every single breakfast? Oh, and let's not forget Uncle Fred's podgy feet that reeked worse than cat shit.

I've only been here for three days, and I swear my head's going to fucking explode.

Call me vain, or even nuts, I don't care. I wasn't shipped to some place in this planet, I was skyrocketed to another world.

And let me just repeat that to exaggerate my point: TO ANOTHER WORLD!

But I sigh. A month and a week. That's just how long I'll have to wait and then I can go back to my life. My real life.

"Good news?" I was forced to ask Bailey, who now had linked her arm to my arm and tugged me to the direction I was previously going. When will I get a break from this dork? Goddamit, I sneaked out to get away from her, and yet here still she was.

"Remember when I told you a few days ago that I'd hook you up with my best friend? Well, she finally agreed to meet you."

I looked at her incredulously—eyes wide, mouth ajar, and all that. "Finally agreed to meet me?" I repeated before laughing raucously. If this is Bailey's way of insulting me, she has a very, very long way to learn how to do it. "Girls come to me, Bailey. They worship me. I don't need permission from anyone to have any girl I want."

Bailey playfully messed with my hair. "Aw, don't be too cocky, Jelly Bean."

I cringed at the name she called me with; wasn't any better from the previous ones. Buttercup, Caramel Square, Sugarplum, Cotton Candy. She still mustn't have forgotten that I used to fixate on sweets when I was a kid. I would have openly killed for gumdrops or a Hershey bar and Bailey had never failed to make fun of me for that. But what child didn't want candies or chocolates?

But I've already outgrown that obsession. All those toothaches that didn't allow me to sleep at night had undoubtedly made it possible.

"I swear," Bailey added, "Grace is way prettier and nicer than any girl you've dated back in Miami. She is the real deal. I bet you would want to stay here in Milford forever once you get to know her."

Forever.

Right. Like that shit even exists in the first place.

But I didn't say that. "Okay, let's go find her," was what I told her instead.

I don't like this Grace one bit. But for the challenge, fine, I'd meet her. I mean what could go wrong?

~.~.~

Okay, so I was liking where this is going so far. Bailey brought me to this pub called Cherry on Top, which is not yet open for business given that it was only around 4 in the afternoon. But there was already a small cluster of smoking hot girls on the stage at the farther end of the room, doing warm-up stretches. Their shapely figures, punctuated by those skin-tight leotards, had my eyes religiously fixed on them.

If my judgment's serving me right, the girls were entertainers, particularly of the groin-stirring kind.

Not that I'm complaining, but woah, is this for fucking real? I wasn't aware a small, rural town like Milford could have joints like this. Well, this should make my summer more interesting.

"Hey, Bailey, what-"

I didn't get to finish what I was about to say. The girl was no longer beside me. She had walked off to somewhere near the stage and then disappeared behind a curtain.

I didn't know if I should follow her but I opted to stay on my spot. Anyway, the hot girls were giving me something not to be bored about.

After doing a couple more stretches, a woman in her 40's stood by the stage and started to enunciate commanding instructions to the girls, who all willingly obeyed her. Once she was settled with their formation, a groovy sound blasted from the speakers and they began to dance.

Sensually. Seductively. Sexily.

Yeah, I know they all mean the same thing, but I had to prove my point.

I almost fucking came. Especially when one girl squeezed her pair of D-cup boobs all the while swaying her wide bosomy hips here, there and everywhere. Thank God for Bailey, who I didn't realize had already emerged beside me, and I was saved from the mortification of having to go about the town with a wet crotch.

Another girl stood next to her, though it was somewhat challenging to discern her features because she was partly blocked by Bailey. The only few things I can make out was that her light blond hair was tied up in a messy way—wisps falling at the margin of her tiny face—and there's a thin film of sweat on her forehead that glistened despite the faint light. She was holding a mop with her visible hand, too.

It looked as if she had been plucked right out of doing physical work and didn't have the time to arrange herself.

"May I present to you, drum roll please," Bailey announced, and I rolled my eyes at her theatrics. "Grace Maxwell!" She slightly slid away and threw jazz fingers toward her friend's way.

Only then was I able to fully distinguish what Grace looked like.

She was pretty, no doubt Bailey was right about that. But in a simple, rustic kind of way. Maybe if her skin wasn't so pale and her hazel eyes would bear some emotion other than misery, she would have turned out to be gorgeous.

Still, she wasn't my type. She's a little too dull, a little to goody-two-shoes, for my taste. This will be the last encounter with her, I swear.

Noticing that I have gone silent—and rude—Bailey subtly kicked my shoe, looking at me in a "be a gentleman and introduce yourself to my best friend" kind of way.

"Hey," I forced to say to Grace with a tip of my chin, plastering a pretend smile on my lips (bordering on creepy grin actually), and offered my hand to her for a shake. "My name's Auric. Auric Chadburn."

She stared at me for a while, as if she was searching for something in my eyes. Then seemingly finding what she had been looking for and contented with it, she took my hand. With a small smile of her own, she said. "It's nice to meet you, Auric. But I bet this will be the last I'll see of you, won't it?"

Okay, she's a psychic. Eerie. All the more I didn't like her.

She dropped my hand, hers slithering around the mop's shank that she was already holding with her other hand, mine falling to the side.

All the while I was trying to wrap my head around what she just said, Bailey fretted.

"Wha—what are you talking about, Grace? Of course not, he-"

Grace pat Bailey's arm, putting her off from anything further to say. "It's okay. He's got Carson Eyes."

As if the term was common knowledge to both of them, and as if it was such a horrendous thing to possess, Bailey—more alarmed than ever—quickly turned to me, scrutinizing my face. "He doesn't have Carson Eyes?!"

Okay, what the hell are Carson Eyes?

Grace smiled reassuringly at her, and for a short moment I saw the sadness lifted away. "Bailey, it's okay. Look, I have to go. I'm in the middle of work, alright? I'll see you tomorrow."

"Is she a psychic or something?" I asked Bailey the instant we were out of Cherry on Top. "And what in the world are Carson Eyes?"

Instead of answering, she sighed out loud. I got that she's frustrated and disappointed from the failed meeting but I also needed this cloud of confusion hanging over me to go away.

"This calls for a chocolate-strawberry milkshake!" She spluttered to no one in particular, her index finger thrusting upward. Then she turned to me, grabbed a fistful of my shirt and shook me like a piggy bank. "Will you treat me to a strawberry-milkshake, Candy Canes?"

I pretended not to hear the nickname. "If you swear to answer my questions, I will."

"I swear."

~.~.~

"She's not a psychic." Bailey took a noisy sip from her shake. "She just saw in your eyes that you're not really interested in her. That you're not sincere."

"So she can read eyes?"

"Only of the Carson kind."

"Who the hell is Carson?"

"WHO THE HELL IS CARSON, THAT'S RIGHT!" She just shamelessly announced that to the whole diner. And now that all heads were turned to our table, I strongly felt like digging a hole in my seat and bury myself in there. Must she really say that out loud? "WELL, HE'S A JERK WHO FOOLED MY BEST FRIEND, THAT'S WHO HE IS!"

I took a little time connect it all first. "So when Grace saw I have the Carson Eyes, she believes I'm a jerk, too?"

"Most probably." Bailey smiled ruefully at me. "But don't worry, the lighting at the pub wasn't good so she must not have seen your eyes clearly. We'll meet with her again."

I frowned at her last statement. Shaking my head, I told her, "Don't bother. She's right, I'm a jerk. And I'm not really interested in her anyway."

That night, I sneaked out of the house by climbing down my bedroom window. I planned on going to the same pub Bailey had brought me to earlier. I wanted to see the hot girls' performance as a whole given that I was only able to get a glimpse of it earlier. And then there's also the need to fill my system with booze. It had been days, I deserved a fucking drink as a reward for putting up with all this shit my parents had thrown me into.

Good thing, Bailey, Aunt Rachel and Uncle Fred are all normally early and heavy sack-hitters so I was able to duck out without trouble.

And I don't know how I did it, but I made it to the town piazza on foot. Trust me, I was astonished by myself because the distance from Uncle Fred's house to here was like a hundred miles.

Okay, that was an exaggeration, but you get the point.

At a little past 9:00 in the evening, the piazza was already, creepily, somewhat dark and quiet. I wasn't used to the environment; Miami at this time, the night was just beginning.

I put the black hoodie over my head. I just had to pass by a few more shops and then I'd finally make it to the pub.

Somewhere along that undertaking though, I noticed a couple arguing in front of a closed bookstore. But I could tell even with the girl's back turned to me that she was more distressed in the fight than the guy was. It was obvious that the girl didn't want her arm to be grabbed like that. I slowed my pace.

"Let me go. I'm not going anywhere with you," I heard she said.

Now where have I heard that voice from?

"We need to talk," the guy insisted, his voice rough and commanding. "I need to talk to you, Grace."

Grace.

I stopped in my tracks and pretended to tie my shoelaces. From where I was situated, cloaked under the shadow of a closed flower shop, I was hoping they wouldn't catch me actually trying to eavesdrop on them.

Grace wriggled her arm free from his clasp, but to no avail. "No," she said sternly. "There's nothing to talk about, Carson. Let me go."

But he only started tugging at her.

And that's when I decided to cut in. I scuttled closer to them, my lethal stare training solely at Carson. "If you know what's good for you, you'd let her go, man."

Both heads turned to look at me. Whereas Carson had become a bit anxious at the sudden interruption, Grace was more than surprised to see me.

Almost instinctively, my hands fisted.

I was very well aware that I was new in town. I should not be trying to look for a fight. But if it boils down to that, I was ready to give a blow. Willing, even. Especially when Carson's grip was still hanging onto something that he shouldn't.

My ferocious eyes continued to sweep over at him. Until he finally let Grace's arm go. Then to her, he said decisively, "This doesn't end here, Grace. We'll talk whether you like it or not."

He brushed a painstaking glance at me, as though familiarizing himself with my face. And then he walked away.

I waited for him to be at least ten steps apart from Grace before I ambled much closer to her. "Are you okay?" I asked.

She nodded meekly as she kneaded her arm. I noticed the surprise hasn't still left her features. "I am. Uhm...thanks."

And just like that she began to walk off.

I should be, too. I've done what I could to help her. Plus, I could already see the pub's signage from here, glaring at me, teasing, goading for me to enter.

Ah, hell.

"Hey," I chased after Grace, "are you going home?"

I was able to reach her side in five strides, welcoming my sight with her more-than-before surprised expression. I could certainly attribute that from finding me walking next to her.

"Uh, yes...," she answered. "Yes I am."

"Okay." I nodded. "I thought maybe I should walk you home. Just in case, you know, Carson is still around, lurking."

"You're not asking for permission, are you?"

Perhaps I did sound a little imposing. But it was necessary. "No."

"I see." Grace nodded slowly, coming into terms with my answer. "Okay."

It was a silent, awkward walk at first, and trust me when I say I normally don't have awkward moments with girls. I was one who can always manage to crop up with something to say. And then carry that conversation without any second of dead silence peeking in. So what is happening? Why did my mouth decided not to function tonight?

"I'm sorry for interrupting your plans to go to Cherry on Top."

My astounded gaze swiftly zoomed at her.

She's officially a psychic. For the second time she had read me.

"What?" I let out an uneasy snort. "That's not where I was heading..."

I don't know why I was lying, just that sometimes I'd like to pretend that I'm a nice, decent guy.

"Sure." She nodded as if she was agreeing. "The look in your eyes this afternoon when you were there didn't give that away, I swear."

Okay, so she was being sarcastic. And it's pointless for me to lie now. "Fine. I'm just bored. There's nothing to do here."

"There's always something to do, Auric. Wherever you are."

My eyes naturally squinted at her, trying in my own ability to read her. I couldn't.

But one thing's for sure: she's smart. Gotta give that to her.

"So that guy was Carson, huh-from the Carson Eyes you said that I have?" My tone was a little resentful. I may have agreed earlier with Bailey that I have indeed the Carson Eyes because I believe that I'm a jerk, too, who is capable of fooling someone, but now that I've gotten an up-close encounter with the guy, though brief, I can positively say that I am nothing like him. I would never force a girl to talk to me if she doesn't want to. Much more inflict pain to get what I want.

Grace sighed wearily. "Yes, that's him."

"He's a jerk."

"Yes, he is," she agreed without any hint of vacillation.

"What would have happened if I didn't come?"

"He would have brought me to somewhere private so we could talk."

And the almost empty piazza wasn't private enough for Carson?

"About?" I probed further.

She quickly turned her head to me, looking a little indisposed to provide more than what she had already. "He...he wanted to make sure I'd…I'd keep my mouth shut."

Her choice of words was a little harsh. I wondered if those were the same words that Carson used. "About what?"

I sensed Grace to have become edgy now and I felt a bit guilty for that. I may have grilled her more than I had the right to.

"Bailey didn't tell you?" she asked.

I shook my head. "No. And you know what? You don't really have to tell me. I-"

"Carson tried to rape me."