CHAPTER TWELVE: Pavement Confessions

Gabe was silent, his hands still wrapped around mine. I looked at Charlie's towering figure as Gabe and I stayed seated on two stools. I could see Gabe looking at Charlie from my peripheral view. It took me a while before I hurriedly took both hands off of the cup, making Gabe let go as well.

"Charlie!" I said, surprised. I stood up, leaving Gabe clueless. "What are you doing here?"

Charlie's dark eyes were unpredictable but I knew he was questioning the situation. His eyes darted from me to Gabe then back to me. He looked at the chocolate on his hands and gestured forward, as if showing me.

"I was gonna buy this," he said. For a second, I wondered when Charlie ever started to like the chocolate I loved. He never really liked it. "On second thought, I don't want it." He placed the chocolate bar on the shelf right next to him despite that it didn't belong there.

"Oh, okay. Oh! This is Gabe. He's my neighbor," I said, gesturing towards Gabe, who stood up.

"Hey," Gabe greeted, extending a hand.

"Charlie," Charlie said, shaking Gabe's hand.

I looked down and asked God why I was placed in this situation, not that either of them knew what my situation with them was. I simply felt uncomfortable.

"So, yeah, see you in school?" Charlie asked.

"Yeah, see you!"

Charlie left without buying a thing. I sat back down as soon as I heard the bells near the door ring, giving me a sign that Charlie left.

"A friend?" Gabe asked with a smooth smile on his face, as innocent as ever.

"Yeah, we sit next to each other in class," I answered with my heart still pounding.

"I see. Are your hands warm now?" he continued to ask.

I was almost going to give him a smile until what he asked reminded me of what just happened and what Charlie stumbled upon. "It is," I said, dropping my hands down to my lap. I asked myself whether it was a good idea to bring it up and ask him what the hell that was, but I wasn't that kind of person.

The night ended with him walking me home and my mind was everywhere to the point that Gabe had to catch my attention every now and then.

"Julia?" he asked with his cold and comforting voice.

I snapped back to reality with a, "Oh! Yeah?"

"Are you okay? Am I boring you with my stories?" Gabe asked with a shy smile that made me smile back.

"No, silly!" I chuckled and slightly nudged him with my elbow. "I just have a lot of school stuff in my head."

"A lot of deadlines?"

"Pretty much," I lied. I was really thinking about how Charlie saw Gabe holding my hand and how Gabe was holding my hand. The thing about my situation is, although Charlie said he's crazy about me, I feel like nothing's really happening between us. We're stuck somewhere or he made me stuck somewhere while he flirted his way back to his ex, while Gabe is just being Gabe. He tells me nothing about his feelings and I don't want to assume he feels anything either so asking has never been an option. I sighed.

"You seem stressed out," Gabe said as we walked right to my house. "Get a lot of sleep and take good care of yourself." He placed a hand on my head with a smile and the gesture made me feel somewhat like a child with my heart fluttering around my chest.

"So Gabe's a thing huh?"

It was the first thing Charlie said the second I sat on the chair next to him. The question kind of sparked something in my head.

"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked, placing my bag behind me.

"Are you guys a thing?" he asked with a smirk and that smirk wasn't the kind that'll melt my heart but the kind that would make me switch seats with someone else.

"Well, are you and your ex a thing?" I snapped back.

Charlie looked at me as if his face was asking, "seriously?" in rhetorical sort of way. I shrugged and we just stopped talking altogether up until classes ended, which was extremely immature of both of us but my pride was bigger than me so I was determined not to talk.

I went straight home after school, to work on homework and start the projects that weren't even due 'til two weeks from now.

Hey, are you home?

My phone lit up with a single text from Charlie after dinner.

"Yeah. Why?" I replied.

"Can you come out for sec? I'm right outside."

My heart skipped a beat and I ran towards my window and he was really there, sitting on the pavement with his back facing me. I ran back to the mirror to check if I look, at least, presentable and then ran downstairs. He stood up the minute he heard the door open and he looked down right when I reached him.

"Can I talk to you for a bit?" Charlie asked. I nodded before sitting down on the space next to where he sat. "I'm sorry about the tone I gave you this morning."

"It's okay."

"No, it's not. I was just pissed, I guess. I don't know what's happening between us," Charlie continued without looking at me. "I told you I'm crazy about you and I see you walking and holding someone else's hand. And I don't mean it in a way that you should have been only with me but I mean it as you could have told me so I would've moved on."

"Moved on? You did move on though. You had more PDA with your ex than Gabe and I, which by the way, isn't a thing," I explained.

"Ex? I didn't even want her back. She just came but I told her I'm already into someone." I watched Charlie sigh deeply before he continued to speak. "Come on, I thought it was already understood how much I like you. I really like you, Julia. Man, I constantly want to be around you."

Everything he said was so sweet but a lot to take in that I was completely silent the next few minutes. I just didn't know what to say.

"Say something," Charlie whispered as he faced me and took my left hand onto his. "Please say something.