“Enough of that.” Raven snatched her phone back from Aya’s hand when she saw her friend’s face start turning green again. “Staring at the photo won’t change anything,” she muttered gruffly.
Aya still couldn’t speak. She was just too hurt and confused, unable to understand how in a matter of mere hours, her world had been completely turned upside down.
“Why don’t you try calling Minato?” Raven suggested.
“What for?” Aya whispered. “I mean, the photo says everything there is to say---”
“Do you honestly believe that?”
Aya took a deep breath. Think, Aya, think. She might not have known Minato for long, but she’d also like to think that she wasn’t so stupid as not to know when a guy was a jerk for real. This photo with Cissy was definitely a douche move, but like Raven pointed out – was it truly the kind of thing Minato would do?
Her fingers trembled as she called Minato’s number, but the call never pushed through. Either he was out of range – or he had deliberately switched his phone off.
“Don’t make any assumptions,” Raven advised. “Wait until recess break. You could try going to his class then. Okay?”
Aya gave her friend a weak smile. “Thanks for keeping me from going crazy.”
Raven squeezed Aya’s hand, saying simply, “You’d do the same thing for me, too.”
The two of them deliberately waited for first period to start before returning to class. By that time, everyone’s attention was firmly on the teacher, and so no one had any chance to wonder why Aya’s face looked a little pale.
When the bell for their fifteen-minute recess break finally rang, Raven – seeing that Cissy seemed determined to head towards their direction – quickly dragged Aya out of her chair so they could run for the door.
Unfortunately, this immediately backfired with the two of them bumping into a human wall.
Raven and Aya glanced up.
It was Minato.
He was gorgeous as ever, but before Aya could utter a single word, his jade-green eyes swept past them dismissively just as they heard Cissy let out a giggle from behind them. “Miss me already?”
Aya’s heart broke as she watched Minato’s lips slowly curve into a sexy smirk. “What do you think?” And he walked right past her, as if she was completely invisible.
Aya and Raven met up with Luc for lunch, and one look at Luc’s grim expression told Aya that their other friend already knew what had happened. News sure traveled fast, she thought dully, where popular kids were concerned.
“We need to think of a plan,” Luc murmured under his breath.
Raven nodded approvingly. “Exactly what I was thinking of.”
Aya was bewildered. “A p-plan?”
“It’s clear she has something on him and----” Luc paused. “Wait. Don’t tell me---” His tone was incredulous. “Are you serious? You actually fell for Cissy’s act?”
“Of course she didn’t. Only an idiot---” Raven broke off when she noticed Aya’s blank look. “Aya, really?” She let out a groan. “It was so obvious that Minato was faking it.”
“I’ve seen how that guy looks at you,” Raven said dryly, “and trust me, it wasn’t the same way he was looking at Cissy. He doesn’t give a shit about her, but she’s just too much of an airhead to realize it.”
Hope blossomed inside of her, but Aya was terrified to give it free rein. “You really both think Minato was playing along with her for some reason?”
“Wyndham’s in love with you,” Luc said simply, “and I don’t think he’s the type who falls in and out of love so easily.”
Aya squirmed uncomfortably in her seat. “But he’s never really said the words…”
Raven rolled her eyes. “He’s a guy, Aya. I know hearing ILY would be nice, but these days, most guys simply don’t see the need for it.” Her tone became rather pointed at the end, causing Luc to raise a brow.
“I just don’t know if I can believe that,” Aya mumbled. “I mean, if you think about it, Minato and Cissy make a better pair. It’s never really made sense for him to fall for someone like me---”
“What do you mean someone like you?” Raven was exasperated. “Stop belittling yourself.”
“I’m just being realistic,” Aya protested.
“If you really want to be realistic, then how about you try thinking of the situation objectively,” Raven retorted. “Do you honestly think that the whole time Minato was with you – he was faking it?”
Aya slowly shook her head. Minato was the type to think faking was a waste of time. If he had lost interest in her at any point, he would have dumped her then and there.
“If he wasn’t faking it, then do you think he could’ve been dating Cissy behind your back?”
No. Aya shook her head again. That wasn’t Minato’s style either, which meant…
When Aya finally lifted her gaze, both Luc and Raven did their best to suppress their smiles upon seeing the fierce expression on their friend’s face. She looked like a cute little puppy ready to do battle and defend the big bad wolf from a vulture, and it was just too adorable for words.
“You guys are right,” Aya declared. “It’s not like Minato to do something like this, so it’s more than possible Cissy’s making him do it.”
“That’s the spirit,” Raven cheered.
“Have you tried contacting Minato?”
“I couldn’t reach him earlier, but I’ll try calling him again…” Aya’s heart thudded against her chest as she tried to call Minato once more, but it was just as before, and she had to struggle to contain her disappointment.
“I’ll try asking around discreetly,” Raven said after a moment, “see if maybe Cissy’s let something slip.”
“I’ll do the same,” Luc averred. “Meanwhile---” His tone gentled as he addressed Aya. “Just keep trying to call Minato and don’t let this get you down.”
Thursdays were the one day of the week that students of Sacred Heart Academy lined up out in the courtyard to sing the national anthem. This time, however, no one had their eyes on the flag. Instead, everyone was looking at Cissy and Minato, the two of them once again together and the former clinging to the latter like a vine.
Aya was torn between running away in tears and charging towards the two to break them apart. Minato was hers. Hers. He was the love of her life, the guy she had crushed on for years, the only guy who had touched her in ways that she knew she could never bear have any other man touch her.
So why was he with someone else?
To distract herself, Aya started singing in her mind. Min’to, do you love me, are you joking, say you’ll never ever leave from beside me…
And surprisingly, the trick worked, and in spite of the pain in her heart, Aya found herself smiling, not realizing that by doing so she had caused several people to turn her way.
First, there were Luc and Raven, and because both of them knew Aya very well, the two was certain that Aya had thought of something incredibly silly to distract herself.
Second was Cissy, furious and disbelieving, knowing that the smile on the other girl’s face was genuine. Damn her. How had she the strength to actually smile like that even when Cissy already had Minato with her?
Third was Wind, his gaze hard, and his jaw clenched as he stared at the only girl who had near captured his heart. I warned you, Wyndham. It was not his style to make trouble between couples, but since the other guy was now with Cissy, that meant he no longer had to restrain himself.
And finally, there was Minato, whose handsome face became expressionless as he watched Wind make his way to Aya.
Sorry for the delay. > . < It's from this chapter onwards that we're veering away from the original plot of the story, which - albeit something I still love - was 100% much more suitable for a shoujo manga rather than a steamy new adult novel like this.
The plot originally included a BEAUTY PAGEANT, with lots of slapstick comedy scenes and, well, let's just say it might be a little too juvenile for most of you.
Anyway, it will take me a bit more time crafting each chapter from here on because of the change in plot (the essence is the same, but with new scenes). Anyway, keep your fingers crossed I'll be able to update with a new chapter sometime this week!