Saturday, March 14, 2009

Of Mud and Laces

Of Mud and Laces


Jonathan Paul Diaz


Chapter 1: By the River

One sunny afternoon Nadine was walking home from school, this was her daily routine. She was intelligent, assured of honors on graduation day but something was missing in her life. This day she decided to take a different route home and along the way something caught her attention.

Sparkling water from a gentle flowing river and alone the side were red tulips beautifully lined up as if they were forming a fence. Nadine went down the grassy slope towards the river to take a closer look. There was something about this scenery which took away the stress from her daily college life. A few meters away there was a huge tree, its trunk was wide and under it she saw an untidy man leaning half asleep.

For three consecutive days she visited the place and spent thirty minutes just sitting down and enjoying the view. And for three days the man was always there seemingly lifeless. Nadine was curious so she walked towards the man and took a good look at him. His hair was long and curly, he had pointed eyebrows but the rest of his face she could not see for his hair was covering it. The man wore torn jeans, his shoelaces were not tied, but he never wore the same shirt as far as she could remember.

“Excuse me, are you alright?” she asked and the man opened his eyes but did not look at her. “Yes I am, why you ask?” the man replied. “Well you see I was just admiring the flowers over there and I saw you lying lifeless. Are you a homeless person? Have you eaten? Do you need some money?” she asked and the man smiled and laughed a little. “What makes you think I am homeless?” the man again asked. “The way you look” she replied and the man laughed. “You are being judgmental, I am just here probably doing the same thing you have been doing for three days” he told her.

“So you weren’t asleep? You knew I was here?” she asked and the man nodded. “You’re being rude you know, I am talking to you but you are not looking at me” Nadine commented and the man just smiled. “I’m sorry, I’m not just that friendly, or let’s just say I’m the shy type” he said and Nadine laughed. “Okay, sorry to bother you then I have to go” she said and the man closed his eyes, Nadine was irritated for she was being ignored. She was pretty with long blond hair, other men would have stared at her but this man didn’t even bother looking.

The next day Nadine bought some sandwiches and hurried towards the river after class. She went straight to the tree and again the man was there humming a tune. “What’s that song youre humming?” Nadine asked. “Now you’re the one being rude, you’re supposed to start with a greeting, so hello to you” the man replied and Nadine took a deep breath as she got irked as the man got one over her. “Fine, hello good afternoon to you, what is that song you are humming?” she said and the man smiled.

“Close to you, that is the title of the song” he said. “I don’t recall, sing a few lines” she said and the man again smiled. “I don’t know the lyrics, just the tune. I even cant sing so that is why I am humming. If I had a good voice then I would sing it even if the words are not correct, sad to say I don’t so I just hum” he replied and Nadine chuckled. She brought out two sandwiches and handed one over to him. “Here take it, it looks like you have not eaten” she said and the man took the sandwich but did not look at her.

“Thank you” he replied and Nadine sat down beside him and moved her face closer to his body and started sniffing. “What are you doing?” the man asked. “You smell good for a homeless guy” she commented and the man laughed. “You even get to change your clothes daily” she added. “What makes you think I am homeless?” he asked her. “Well by the way you look and I just gave you a sandwich and you took it” she said. “I took it because I was hungry, again you are being too judgmental” he told her.

“So if you are not a homeless person then why are you dressed that way?” she asked as she took a bit of her sandwich. The man remained silent and chewed; Nadine knew she was right all along. “See, you cant even answer my simple question, therefore I am right am i?” she asked. “I am not homeless, I didn’t reply because my mouth was full. Its impolite to talk with your mouth full” the man explained and again Nadine irritated.

“Why do I look this way? Well because I want to look this way” the man said. “Well your style is disgusting and not attractive at all” Nadine commented. “I know, it keeps people away but it’s funny because it seems to have attracted you” the man said and Nadine shook her head. “I wasn’t attracted to your clothes! I was just curious and I thought you needed help” she uttered. “Why? Was I dying?” the man asked and Nadine was really furious, “Just shut up and forget it” she said.

“You look dirty, you are so rude, I don’t even know why I am talking to you” Nadine said but the man kept silent and continued eating. “See that, you are even ignoring me now!” she quipped and the man laughed. “You told me to shut up remember?” he said and Nadine laughed with him. “You’re weird” Nadine told him. “Nope, I’m Jeff” he said and again she laughed. “I’m Nadine” she told him and he faced her for the first time but his eyes were closed. “Nice meeting you Nadine” he told her and Nadine laughed even louder.

“I get it, you’re blind aren’t you? That’s why you would not even look at me” she said. “You have straight blonde hair, you have a pretty smile, and sparkling blue eyes. The orange dress you wore the other day I liked that, oh you have nice legs too by the way” Jeff said and Nadine started laughing again. “So you’re not blind after all” she commented. “Who said I was?” he replied and they both laughed. Nadine got up and stood in front of him, she bent forward and held his face, “So wont you show me your eyes or look at me?” she asked.

Jeff just smiled and kept his eyes tightly closed. “Women are temptations” she uttered and she chuckled. “Open your eyes and show me” she told him and she moved his hair to see his face. Nadine liked what she saw, he was handsome, Jeff slowly opened his eyes and for the first time they stared at each other. “You’re handsome” she softly said and Jeff grinned. “I can see your boobs” he uttered and Nadine immediately stood up and they both laughed.

Nadine sat down and continued on her sandwich, “You’re funny” she said and Jeff looked at her, “You’re pretty” he told her and she blushed. “Kidding aside now, what do you do Jeff?” Nadine asked. “I am a graduating college student” he said and she was surprised. “Me too, what college do you go to?” she asked. “The one nearby” he answered. “I don’t believe you, I don’t see you there” she said.

“That’s funny, I don’t see you there too” he told her and again they laughed. “Seriously, I have never seen you on campus” she told him. “I live inside the campus actually, after classes I come here to get a daily view of life’s disparity” he said and she looked at him. “What do you mean?” she asked and Jeff took a deep breath and looked towards the river. “Nadine why did you come here?” he suddenly asked. “I was attracted by the tulips and water, it somehow removes the daily stress I have to go through” she answered.

“You have been going here for the last four days and tell me what else you have noticed?” he asked. Nadine looked around and she found nothing out of the ordinary. “I don’t know, you perhaps” she said and Jeff smiled. “There are two ways to reach this place, the first one the grassy slope which I assume you take since you have clean shoes. The other way is through that muddy dead river which leads all the way back to the University. Sad to say I found this place years ago using that route but nowadays I take the route you take” he told her and only now did Nadine notice the muddy part of the river nearby.

“So that is why you keep on sitting on that spot since you can see the muddy part” she commented and Jeff nodded. “Beauty is beauty no matter how you look at it but you will appreciate it more if you look at something less appealing. That is how life is, people tend to focus on the things that appeal to them, and the less appealing they ignore. This is diversity, focus on the ugly in order to appreciate the beautiful things” Jeff uttered and Nadine just focused on him, “Just like you, you dress lousy but you are handsome” she said and Jeff laughed.

“So for four days that has been your only great discovery” Jeff said and Nadine looked curiously. “I don’t understand” she replied. “For four days I already know a lot about you, aside from the physical aspect which I suppose everyone knows I know lots of things about you just by observing you” he said. “Me? You have been observing me all this time?” Nadine said in surprise and Jeff nodded. “You barely looked at me and you say you know a lot about me, okay tell me then” she dared.

“You are a person who is persistent. You are often curious and you will never be satisfied until you get the answers” he told her and she was surprised. “You are intelligent, probably graduating with honors. You started going here to relax and get away from it all. Lately you have somewhat lowered your standards since you are sure of graduating anyway. The honors would not mean much since you probably have a trust fund to get you off after you graduate” he said and Nadine was speechless for everything he said was true.

“Now you are beginning to scare me, how did you do that?” she asked as she stared at him. “Just by observing you, the moment you arrived at this place you had a really beautiful smile, a smile of relief. For someone who is really goal oriented, they would not come back here daily and waste their time just to enjoy the view. People usually come to this kind of place to get away from it all” he explained and the more she was intrigued.

“You are right, I can’t believe it but all you said was true” she said and Jeff smiled at her. “All this time all I did was study, i don’t want to brag but my future is secure since I will just be taking over my dad’s company after I graduate. I could have taken another course in another University but I just wanted to fulfill my parents’ wishes, they met in this University and so they wanted me their only daughter to have the same alma mater” she related. “So you’re saying you were forced?” he asked and Nadine shook her head. “Not really, ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be like my dad, I wanted to be with him always and study the things he was doing. I learned a lot from his first hand and maybe I learned a little here in this University. Nothing beats firsthand experience, you can say I am just here for the diploma” she related.

“How about you? Tell me more about you” she said and Jeff sighed. “I am not just here for the diploma, you were right about me being homeless, literally homeless and not just because of the way I dress” he told her and she started to feel sorry. “When I was little we had a big house, they gave me everything I wanted. They were greedy and never contented so my mom moved to another state to earn more. She met another man and they separated, I decided to stay with my father. We were doing fine actually but my father met another woman who turned out to be a gold digger. Everything she wanted he gave her, eventually all the promises he made me…well lets just say I had to live with the lies” he said and the more Nadine felt sad for him. “We had to sell the house, from private school I moved to public school and I knew there was going to be nothing left for me if this continued. I ran away from home, I worked part time and continued high school on my own.

My mom sends a little monetary support, just enough to pay the rent and a little extra for food. Now she still sends but just enough to feed me daily because I have two sisters now” he related and even managed to smile. Nadine didn’t know what to say or do upon hearing his story, so she remained silent for the time being. “So basically with all the data, you just connect the dots and you will get to know who I am” Jeff added and closed his eyes. “Ah, I don’t mean to be rude but how do you pay for college? This University is quite expensive you know” she asked. “Let’s just say I was lucky” he replied and she didn’t inquire further.

“Jeff it was nice meeting and talking with you but I have to go now” Nadine said as she stood up. “The pleasure was all mine Nadine, thank you for making this place more beautiful” Jeff replied and Nadine laughed. “Oh by the way where is your girlfriend?” Nadine asked and Jeff smiled and looked at her. “Nice question, indirect but you will probably get the same answer as do you have a girlfriend?” he commented and Nadine chuckled. “So where is she?” she asked. “I have the same status as you” Jeff said and Nadine raised an eyebrow. “Single” Jeff said and Nadine again laughed. “What makes you think I am single?” she asked. “The way your hands were trembling while you were holding my face, the way you blushed as we stared into each other’s eyes, and the way you asked the question says it all” he explained and Nadine just giggled and patted his shoulders.

Thirty minutes later Jeff enters his dorm room, there were two beds, one on each corner. Laying half naked on the bed closest to the door was his room mate Anthony, a spoiled rich kid who turned the dorm room into a decent hotel suite. “Youre early” Tony said as Jeff walked towards his bed. “Same goes to you” Jeff replied and Tony laughed. “Yeah she just left, you should have seen her man, she probably is the prettiest I ever slept with” Tony said but Jeff didn’t bother listening and got into his bed and closed his eyes.

“Hey, I met a girl” Jeff uttered and Tony stood up and walked towards his bed. “Is she pretty?” he asked. “You can say that” Jeff replied. “So will you be needing this room for yourselves anytime soon? Just tell me so I can give you some privacy” Tony said and Jeff stared at him. “Im not like you Tony” Jeff told him and Tony scratched his head. “Well I am happy for you, I almost thought you were gay” Tony commented and Jeff laughed. “Anyway wanna go get some dinner?” Tony asked and Jeff turned and lay flat on his chest. “No thanks, she brought me a sandwich” he said softly.

“Whoa! Damn your fast” Tony said and Jeff again laughed. “Yeah, she thought I was a homeless guy, she brought it out of pity” Jeff explained and they both laughed. “Well let me just get dressed and don’t wait up for me I will be late” Tony said and Jeff just closed his eyes again and images of Nadine started to fill his mind. “Damn, now I cant get her out of my mind” Jeff mumbled softly.

Of Mud and Laces (e-book)
- complete story
- coming soon

Chapter 2: Laces

Chapter 2: Laces

One Sunday morning Jeff woke up because he felt someone shaking him. “Hey man wake up” he heard the voice of Tony. He opened his eyes slowly and Tony lifted him up quickly. “Hey I need you to go somewhere” Tony said and Jeff looked confused. “Go where?” Jeff asked. “I don’t know, anywhere, I need the room” Tony said. “Come on man its Sunday, let me get some more sleep” Jeff said but Tony stepped aside and there was a girl standing on one corner. Jeff didn’t bother arguing anymore, he stood up and grabbed his clothes and shoes.

Jeff walked towards the door but Tony caught up with him, “Here breakfast and lunch is on me” he said as he handed him two hundred dollars. “I don’t need your money” Jeff shot back but Tony placed the money inside Jeff’s shirt pocket, pushed him out and shut the door.

Tony was a certified playboy, he had no respect for women. He uses his false charm, good looks and fortune to lure pretty girls to sleep with him. Today was simply the worst Sunday morning for Jeff and the only place he could find solace was by the river.

Under the tree Jeff sat and leaned back, it was uncomfortable but he had no other choice. Slowly his eyes were starting to close and the sound of the smooth flowing river was his morning lullaby.

An hour later he woke up to the smell of coffee, as he opened his eyes there was Nadine staring at him. “Good morning Nadine” he said. “I am wondering if you really live inside the campus, if you do then why are you sleeping out here? And yes you were sleeping because I have been here for thirty minutes talking. Thinking that you were again in your silly trance” she told him and he laughed. “Well I do really live inside but today was complicated” he answered and she looked at him curiously.

“It’s a Sunday so what brings you here?” Jeff asked and Nadine sat beside him. “Well I was supposed to go to the library but on my way I saw you. Jeff you don’t have to lie to me you know. Yes we have only known each other for a few days but I can help you find a place to stay” she said and Jeff again laughed. “Honestly I do live in the dorm, I slept there last night but this morning my roommate needed the room that is why I continued my sleep here” he explained. “I don’t believe you. If what you’re saying is true then show me your room” she said and Jeff looked at her. “We can’t go there right now, it’s hard to explain so you just have to trust me on this one” he told her.

“Jeff I am a friendly person, I can be friends with anyone but I hate liars” Nadine said as she looked away. “My roommate woke me up, he told me to go somewhere else because he needed the room” Jeff related. “Just like that and you gave in?” Nadine asked. “There was a girl” he added and Nadine looked at him. “Okay I get it, does this happen often?” she asked and Jeff laughed. “Often is an understatement when your roommate is Anthony Roberts” he said.

“Yeah I’ve heard of him, he is quite popular among girls in campus. How did you end up sharing a room with that guy in the first place?” she asked. “Long story, he gave me two hundred dollars saying breakfast and lunch was on him. Do you want to go eat? I’m starving, my treat” he asked and Nadine stood up and looked at him. “You keep that money; I will treat you for brunch. I don’t want you to react, it’s either my way or I will go to the library” she said and Jeff smirked and slowly stood up. “It wouldn’t feel right” he commented and Nadine raised her eyebrow. “Fine, then I’m going to the library” Nadine told him and started to walk away.

Jeff found himself seated at a nearby diner staring at the menu. For the first time in his life he was able to enjoy reading the food descriptions and not minding the price tag that comes after it. He was ready to order but Nadine suddenly sad down in front of him. “So what are you having?” she asked as she grabbed the menu from him. “I thought you were at the library?” he asked. “I left my notebook at home so I followed you here, I will just have what you’re having” she said and they ordered.

A few minutes later their orders arrived, Nadine was surprised to see lots of food on the table. Jeff felt embarrassed and had his head bowed down, the little table was full of plates of assorted food. “I am going to be honest with you Nadine, I know this is embarrassing but I have been craving for these. So if you don’t mind I have to pig out a little bit. Just tell me if I am grossing you out” Jeff said in a soft voice. “No, its okay, I am going to pig out with you” she said and smiled. Jeff smiled back and started to take a big bite of the huge burger. “Man, so this is what money can do” he commented with his mouth full and Nadine chuckled. She could see the happiness in his eyes as he chewed slowly savoring the good taste of the food. She pitied him and tears were starting to form around her eyes and Jeff noticed it.

“Nadine is something wrong?” he asked her but Nadine shook her head and smiled. “I was just thinking how many dress sizes I would grow after eating all of these” she said. “Don’t worry about it, I will exercise with you. And even if you grow fat I’m sure you’re still going to be pretty” he said as he took another big bite and so she did the same.

After one hour they both could barely finish the last two plates on the table. “Man I really love pineapple pie but I don’t think I could swallow another bite” Jeff said as he leaned back and massaged his stomach. “You seem so happy after eating” Nadine commented and Jeff laughed. “Yeah but the food was just the half of it” he said. “What do you mean?” she asked. “Well, the food was really great just like in my imagination but the happier I was eating in front of a pretty girl. Just like a date but it isn’t” he replied and Nadine smiled.

“Don’t tell me you have not been on a date before” she said and Jeff shook his head. “Nope, never had time for that and didn’t have enough cash for it either” he said. “You really don’t need to spend money for a date. It does not have to be always about food you know. A date could be a simple stroll along the park or spending time together in a scenic place” Nadine told him and Jeff was surprised. “Damn! I should have known that before, but still I was too busy working my ass off or busy studying. I just thought that after I graduate and find a steady job then I could enjoy all the things I was deprived of, just like this. Money can surely buy lots of good food, I’m sure you rich people have these everyday” Jeff said and Nadine again felt sad. She could see the truth in his eyes as he spoke those words.

Jeff asked the waitress for the bill but she said it has been paid. He looked at Nadine and slowly bowed his head. “You should have not done that” he told her. “Jeff please don’t act that way. We both know you need the money more than I do” she told him. “I don’t want your pity” he said softly. “It’s not pity I promise you. I wanted to treat you, it’s just that. Next time I will let you pay but for now don’t let this ruin the good food you just ate” she explained and Jeff sighed.
The two stepped out of the diner, Jeff had his head bowed down as they walked along the street. “Jeff are you mad at me?” Nadine asked. “I was but I am actually happy with what you said” he replied. “What did I say that made you happy?” she asked. “About the next time thing” he said and Nadine laughed. “Yes I promise next time I will let you pay” she said. “Its not about me paying, its about the next time. Next time meaning you would go out with me again” he uttered softly and Nadine smiled.

“So if you say you are happy why do you have your head bowed down?” she inquired and Jeff stood still. “This is how I walk” he answered. “Why? Are you ashamed?” she asked. “No, why should I be ashamed?” he told her. “So it has something to do with you being a shy person then” she said and he laughed. “Nope, if you get the right answer then I will forgive you for your generous stunt a while back” he said and Nadine stared at him and tried to figure it out. She saw his shoe laces and suddenly she had the answer. “You keep your head bowed down so you could avoid stepping on your shoe laces” she said and Jeff managed to smile at her. “I forgive you” he told her and she laughed.

“Hold still, hold my bag for me” she instructed him as she bent down and tied his shoelaces. “I am not a kid you know” he said. “I didn’t say you were” she replied. “You don’t have to do that for me” he said. “I know but I want to” she answered. “Nadine people are staring at us” he said. “Let them I don’t care” she replied. After tying his shoe laces Nadine stood up and they started to walk, Jeff did not have his head bowed anymore but Nadine noticed a different smile in his face. “Why are you smiling?” she asked. “You ask too many questions you know” he replied.

“Yes I know, but why are you smiling?” she again asked. “You don’t like liars so I am going to be honest with you again. I promised myself to never fall in love until I graduate. But if I ever do break that promise she must be the one who is able to notice the little things and make something big out of it” he told her. Nadine was a bit confused and did not understand what he was getting at. “You still have not answered my question” she insisted and Jeff laughed. “It just so happens that person is pretty but she asks too many questions” he said and Nadine blushed and looked away shyly.

“Are you trying to say you are falling in love with me?” she asked. “No” he replied and she was surprised so she looked at him. “No? You weren’t talking about me?” she said. Jeff looked at her with a straight face and smiled, “No I wasn’t. We just met days ago and we barely know each other. You just remind me of the girl I like” he answered and Nadine felt so embarrassed so she started to walk slowly.

“Hey Jeff I have to go home now” Nadine said. “Thank you for brunch, and there is something I want to ask of you” he told her. Nadine stopped and looked at him, “You tied my shoe laces, you have to let me tie yours too sometime” he said and Nadine started to laugh. “Why would I let you do that?” she asked. “Because I want to” he said and they smiled at each other. “What if the girl you like see you doing it? She might get jealous” she told him. “No she won’t” he replied and Nadine pouted.

“Before I go tell me about this girl you like” Nadine said and Jeff turned around and started to walk away slowly. “The girl I like…well you remind me of her…she asks too many questions” he said and he stopped walking. “She even looks like you…I really don’t know her yet because I just met her recently…will she get jealous when she sees me tying your shoelaces? Nah I don’t think so, that would be crazy…getting jealous with yourself is simply crazy” he said and again started walking away.

Nadine didn’t know what to say, all she could do was laugh. She hated liars but this one wasn’t a lie, he could not just admit it straight to her face but he liked her. Nadine couldn’t stop giggling even as her bodyguard had surfaced and a black car came to pick them up. “You seem happy today” her bodyguard told her as he opened the door. “He is different from all the guys I’ve dated” she said as she entered the car. The bodyguard got in front and the car started to drive away.

Nadine noticed her bag was open so she checked if everything was in place. She brought out her notebook and noticed a napkin inserted inside. She opened the napkin and a one hundred dollar bill fell off. “Even though I have not been on a date before, I know that the guy always has to pay…I know this wasn’t a date but more of an eat together…sorry I can’t erase the word date anymore or else it would be messy. So here is the hundred that I owe you. Don’t worry I still have another hundred for our next eat together” a note said and Nadine started to laugh and giggle.

“Hey Fritz, this was the first time I had a date that I didn’t notice you lurking” Nadine said to her bodyguard. “He looked harmless” Fritz replied. “Indeed” Nadine said as once again read the note and smiled. “So miss Nadine was that a date?” Fritz asked and she looked at the note and said

“Yes it was”

Chapter 3: Rags and Riches

Chapter 3: Rags and Riches

One Friday Nadine found herself in unchartered territory, the land of the geeks and book mongers. Tagging along was her best friend, they waited for Jeff to show up. “Nadine we have been all over the campus since Monday but your dream guy has not shown himself. It makes me wonder if he really exists” Maureen told her. “He does exist, but I only get to see him after classes, I have my doubts as well but if he says he is a student here then I believe him” Nadine replied. “Why not ask him to save you all the trouble?” her friend asked and Nadine shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t want him to think that I don’t believe him” Nadine said and Maureen laughed. “So tell me why are you doing this?” she asked. “Confirmation, I do believe him but I need confirmation” Nadine explained. “Well it boils down to disbelief” Maureen said and they both laughed.

A few minutes later the long wait was over, Nadine saw Jeff coming out of the building so she held on to Maureen and shook her. “There he is, look over there the one with the curly hair” Nadine whispered ecstatically. Maureen looked over and was surprised, “Wow! You didn’t tell me was into rock” she commented and giggled. “No I don’t think he is, he just wears that kind of outfit to gain less attention he says” Nadine explained as they watched Jeff stop and talk to a group of guys. Jeff started to laugh and ran his hands over his hair to reveal his face, Maureen started to giggle and grabbed on to Nadine’s arm. “He looks rugged but he is a cutey!” she screeched and they both giggled.

“Quick flash something shiny to catch his attention” Nadine told her friend as she pretended to be reading a book. “I don’t need to because he is looking over here” Maureen whispered and Nadine became excited. “Is he still looking?” she asked, “No, they are all laughing” Maureen replied. Nadine quickly untied her shoelaces and Maureen looked at her curiously. “Why are you doing that again? You have been doing that the whole week” she asked. “Hush, is he looking?” Nadine again asked. “Yes he is and he is looking at your shoes” Maureen said and Nadine giggled but tried to calm herself.

“We have been looking all over this campus for you two, you didn’t attend our meeting” they heard a familiar voice say so they turned around and there stood Anya Watson, the richest girl in campus accompanied by her high class posse. “Hi Anya” the two seated girls said in unison. “Hey Nadine your shoelaces are untied” said Bart, a tall handsome man who was decently dressed. “Excuse me?” Jeff said as he bent on knee and grab hold of Nadine’s shoe laces and started to tie them. Nadine’s face lit up and Maureen started to giggle.

Anya and the rest stared at Jeff and they started to laugh. “My God Nadine, you didn’t tell me you have a man slave” Anya said and the louder they laughed and people started looking their way. Jeff finished tying the laces on both shoes and he looked at Nadine, “Are they tied too tight?” he asked and Nadine shook her head and smiled at him. “He can speak!” Bart commented and again they laughed and giggled. Jeff stood up and bowed at Nadine, Anya poked her finger at his chest and Jeff looked at her. “How much did she pay you tie her shoelaces?” she asked and Nadine wanted to say something but Anya pointed a finger at her so she kept quiet. “She didn’t pay me, I tied her shoe laces because I wanted to” Jeff replied. “So you mean to say you are friends with her?” Anya asked and Jeff nodded.

“I can’t believe you stooped down to such level Nadine, that is so unbecoming of a heiress” Anya said and Nadine wanted to react so badly but she was scared of Anya, in fact everyone on campus was scared of her except one. “Keep your insults focused on me, keep her out of this” Jeff said and Bart moved forward but Anya shoved him away. “I can handle this Bart, I am used to dealing with people like this, and we have a dozen like them at home” Anya said and she again poked at Jeff’s chest.

“Look here, I don’t know how you were able to enter this University but you don’t belong here. Freeloaders like you don’t have the right to mingle with the likes of us, do you understand?” Anya said and Jeff took a deep breath and stared Anya straight in the eye. “How dare you even look me in the eye! Did you not understand what I just told you?” Anya shouted and Jeff smiled at her. “I wasn’t staring at you” Jeff said and Anya got irked. “And what do you call what you’re doing right now?” she asked. “I am looking at nothing” Jeff said and Maureen laughed but Anya looked at her so she stopped.

“You low life! What do you mean you are looking at nothing?” Anya asked and Jeff again smiled at her. “Standing before me seems to be a pretty young lady but my eyes fool me. I look past the physical layer and yet there is nothing I see worth looking at. It’s just fame and fortune speaking to me. Take away those and you end up with nothing, so I am staring at nothing” Jeff explained and Anya slapped him. “And the nothing I stare at suddenly I can feel, makes me want to believe if that ghosts are real” Jeff quipped and Anya slapped him again.

Jeff kept smiling and Bart punched him in the face so he fell down on his knees. Jeff stood back up and looked at Nadine who had a freight written all over her face. “I’m fine” he whispered and he again smiled at Bart. “Fight back you coward! Give me a reason to totally erase your face!” Bart shouted. “Anger begets violence, but I am not a violent person. I am not angry; if I am angry then I am angry at myself. Everything in life is connected and goes back to oneself. I love the little things…” Jeff said but Bart again floored him with another punch to the cheek. Jeff stood up and was visibly shaken, he looked at Nadine and bowed to her.

Jeff started to walk away but Anya ran after him and held out his hand, she took out a pen and scribbled some numbers on his arm. “There that is my number if you need work call me. We need lots of workers in our estate, I’m sure you can fit in perfectly” she said and they all started laughing.

Jeff looked at Nadine who had her head bowed down; he did the same and continued walking away. Nadine wanted to go with Jeff but she was afraid to do so. She has been in Anya’s group for four years and she could remember treating other people the same way. This time it was different for the person she liked was from a social group she once looked down upon. Nadine was not really a mean and discriminate person; she had to do it just to be accepted by her wealthy peers.

An hour later Nadine went to the river and saw Jeff in his sweet spot. She walked towards him and stood still, she was embarrassed to show face him and had second thoughts. Jeff saw her and removed the little twigs on the ground beside him, he patted the ground and smiled at her. Nadine sat down beside him still feeling ashamed of what her peers had done to him. “Don’t worry I am okay” Jeff said and so she calmed down a little.

“Are your people always like that?” Jeff asked and Nadine looked at him. “My people?” she answered and Jeff took a deep breath. “Yeah, your people, the rich and the famous, the kings and queens of the world, are you all like that towards my people?” he said and Nadine felt a little bit hurt but she could understand what his question was all about. “I am really sorry for what happened a while ago. I wanted to defend you but I was really afraid of Anya” she said but Jeff seemed not to listen.

“I just don’t understand why your people have to look down upon us. We are all human beings, the only difference is that you have lots of money and we don’t. I told myself after I graduate I would earn lots of money so I can buy all the things I want. Now, I don’t think I want that anymore because I might turn out like your people which scares me” Jeff said and Nadine just kept silent.

“They don’t have the right to discriminate just because we can’t afford the clothes that they wear or groom ourselves properly like the way they do. Look at me, do you think I like growing this long hair? Having a hair cut is expensive, I’d rather spend that money on food. I don’t buy flashy clothes or branded ones, I buy the cheapest clothes so I just won’t be naked. Do you think I like wearing this tattered jeans? I don’t but I have no choice because this is all I can afford, I have to survive daily so I don’t mind the stares or the discrimination really but there is a point where you just can’t take it anymore” Jeff related.

“So are you mad at me?” Nadine asked and Jeff looked at her and smiled. “Of course not. Everything in this world is connected and revolves around us. If I am mad at you, I am mad at the world. If I am mad at the world then I am mad at everyone. If I am mad at everyone then I am mad at myself. I like myself, so I like the world, and I like everyone” he explained and Nadine managed to smile. “And you like me?” she said and Jeff nodded his head and they both laughed.

“I like you too” Nadine said softly and Jeff held on to his chest. “That’s funny, my heart suddenly started beating faster” Jeff said and Nadine chuckled. “Nadine, what is it like to be wealthy?” Jeff suddenly asked. Ever since she was born Nadine had everything she ever wanted, she didn’t know how to answer him so not to hurt his feelings. “It’s quite dull and boring; you don’t have dreams because basically you have everything. Everyday seems to be a routine that you have to endure all over and over again. The worst part is when you have thoughts of losing everything, waking up one day having nothing left. You feel scared and useless; it makes you greedy, selfish and sometimes inconsiderate. Take away all the riches and you are right, I am probably nothing just like Anya” she related and Jeff sighed.

“Stay rich, you would not want to be poor like me. It’s true our life seems to be easier, we are carefree since we have so little or nothing to lose. The little things make us happy because that is what we only have. We do dream big too but not so often since not being able to achieve those makes us feel worse. Every cent for us seems to be worth millions, and even if we have money to spare we are still scared to spend it for our futures are not secured.

Imagining to have lots money makes us content, it provides us false satisfaction but eventually we have to open our eyes again. At night when we sleep we have to think about the next morning, think about how much money we have left and think about how to get more. Our lives revolve around a small budget, most of the time we just focus on the food to make us wake up the next day and to try again. There is no room for satisfaction, we just have to be contented even if we aren’t” Jeff related and Nadine closed her eyes as she could imagine how hard it was to be him.

“So it’s still better to be like you is all I’m saying” Jeff said and he closed his eyes.

Nadine stood up and stood in front of Jeff; she knelt down and placed her right hand on his left cheek. “Two slaps and two punches, this must be hurting” she said as she caressed his nearly swollen cheek. Jeff smiled and took Nadine’s other hand and placed it on his other cheek. “I know this cheek was unharmed but it’s getting jealous” he said and Nadine laughed. They stared at each other’s eyes and at that moment Nadine wanted to look away but she couldn’t.

“You’re still holding my face” Jeff said softly and Nadine smiled. “It looks like you’re going to kiss me anytime now” Jeff again said and Nadine laughed. “Maybe I will” she replied and Jeff smiled. “So you’re going to be my first kiss?” Jeff said and Nadine raised an eyebrow. “I said maybe” she clarified.

“I think I should close my eyes now” Jeff whispered, “Maybe you should” Nadine replied as she moved her face closer to his. Their lips touched barely and Jeff began to shiver, Nadine giggled and pressed her lips to his and they kissed. It was just a short kiss and as their lips parted each other they both smiled. “I think I should give Anya a call” Jeff said, “Why?” Nadine asked and Jeff started laughing. “So I can irritate her and she could slap me again. My cheeks would hurt and you could touch them again” he said and Nadine laughed. “Touch them? Really?” she said and Jeff grinned. “And so I could have my second kiss” he added and Nadine laughed louder.

“You don’t have to do that” she told him as she once again kissed him. This time it was longer, more passionate as they embraced each other.

At this moment the world of the rich and poor were united, the barriers have been torn down. Under the tree by the river, there was no distinction between rags and riches. Only two individuals embracing and joined by their lips. Love knows no boundaries and love conquers all, and so they say.

Chapter 4: Acceptance

Chapter 4: Acceptance

Nadine and Jeff have been going steady for a month but they have kept it a secret. One Saturday morning Nadine decided to bring Jeff to the clubhouse where she and her peers hang out during weekends.

Upon reaching the tennis court, only Anya, Bart and Maureen were there and only the latter was smiling as Jeff and Nadine approached them. “What the hell is he doing here?” Anya asked as she gave Jeff an evil stare. “Get used to it Anya, Jeff is my boyfriend, we have been going out for a month now” Nadine said. Anya was visibly irked and irritated but she could not do anything. “Fine, don’t let him near me” Anya said as she sat down and enjoyed her iced tea.

“Jeff me and Maureen will go get changed, will you be alright here?” Nadine asked and Jeff took a seat and smiled at her. “I will be fine, they seem harmless” Jeff said and Anya and Bart looked at him. “Now you two be nice to him, do it for me” Nadine told them and she and Maureen proceeded to the locker room.

Anya and Bart stared at Jeff who in return just smiled at them. “I know what you’re trying to do. You are trying to get rich the easy way. You plan to marry her because you know she will be inheriting her father’s company” Anya said. “That never crossed my mind, but in case that happens then I am sure there is what you call a pre-nuptial agreement. I will be the first one to demand for it and state that I am not interested in her fortune, not even a single cent” Jeff told her. “You’re lying, I know you are” she said.

“Well there is thing you call love, and I do love Nadine for who she is and now what she has” Jeff explained and Bart smiled but it quickly faded as Anya looked at him. “Love? What a pathetic excuse to be able to alleviate yourself from poverty. I don’t believe that, there is always a motive and I can see what yours is” Anya reiterated and Jeff just smiled at her. “Don’t mind her, she hasn’t been loved by anyone” Bart said and they both laughed at Anya who was now angry. “Same goes to you Bart, I have never seen you with a date” Anya shot back. “Yeah because he is gay” Jeff said and Anya was shocked and so was Bart.

“What did you say?!” Bart asked as he stood up and moved closer to Jeff. “Sit down Bart, you don’t have to be ashamed of it. Look at me, I am poor and I am not ashamed to be here with you rich people” Jeff said and Bart started to roll a fist but Anya ordered him to sit down. Bart was furious; he slammed his hand on the table and took a seat. “You asshole! I am more a man than you will ever be!” Bart shouted at Jeff. “Bartholomew! Stop it! Do you want to get kicked out of this clubhouse?!” Anya yelled and security personnel started to approach them. “It’s just a misunderstanding, everything is fine” Bart told them so the men stood their ground and slowly walked away.

“You low life what are you trying to do?” Anya asked Jeff but he only smiled at her. “Look, I know being different is tough. The moment I stepped foot at the University I had nothing. A campus full of rich kids with huge trust funds, how can a poor guy like me survive? But so far I have, but it wasn’t easy. Do you think being with you two makes me feel comfortable? Hell no! I am used to the name calling and the discrimination; I eat that for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Am I used to it? Sort of but it still hurts my pride though. Especially when I met you Anya, you simply are the worst. You are very vocal about your hate towards people like me, but I am still her aren’t I?” Jeff said and the two were silent.

“I was contented with being with my kind till Nadine came along. Yeah she is rich like you but far more different when it comes to personality. She gave me a chance, she saw beyond the status barrier. I admit she is pretty but I too saw beyond that, the mere fact that she was able to like someone like me says it all. She accepted me, and Bart someone will accept you for who you are too. You don’t have to hide, you don’t have to pretend. There is nothing to be ashamed of if you are different. That is who you are and if your friends cannot accept you, then they are not your friends after all” Jeff said and Bart bowed his head.

“Bart is it true?” Anya asked and Bart slowly looked at her. “Yeah he’s right” Bart said softly and Anya covered her mouth in disbelief. “We even kissed” she exclaimed and Bart laughed. “Yeah we did and I didn’t like it, but it sure helped my cover story” Bart said and Jeff started laughing. “I swear if you ever tell anyone what you just heard I will kill you!” Anya threatened Jeff but Bart laughed with him.

“How did you know of me being gay?” Bart asked. “It takes one to know one” Anya quipped and she laughed. “The day when she slapped me, I saw your reaction. You bit your lip and your hand tightened” Jeff said and Anya laughed. “Just like that and you knew he was already gay?” she asked. “Not really, I got to observe his actions several times on campus. I’m good at this by the way, seeing who people really are. I used to work at a fast food chain, you see there is this policy that the cooked food could only stay unsold for a few minutes or else it would turn cold and be treated as waste.”

“I was tasked to predict what every customer entering would order; I had a 95 percent accuracy. You see people entering the fast food stored don’t have time to wait, so the moment they enter I should know what should be cooked to save time. So with my accuracy the store was able to save on wasted food. We had a high rate of customer satisfaction; my boss liked what I was doing so he always gave me huge tips. That is how I managed to survive high school” Jeff related.

“This job skill turned into a habit, even when I was not working I would just sit down and observe people. It became a useful talent since I was able to read people, when you are poor it’s a dog eat dog world. The poor turn against the poor just to survive. I was lucky with this talent, I was able to know who to avoid, I would know who was trying to con me and I knew who could be trusted” Jeff added as the two listened intently.

“You saw me several times, for a guy who punched me you should have given me an evil stare but your eyes somehow glowed and you could not look at me for a long time” Jeff said and Bart looked away. Anya was chuckling and staring at Bart, “Alright! Fine, I find you cute” Bart said and Anya erupted in loud laughter. Nadine and Maureen arrived, dress in full tennis attire. “You three seem to be happy which I find really weird. I was expecting fireworks and the like” Maureen said. Nadine took a seat and looked at Jeff who smiled at her.

“What seems to be happening here?” Nadine asked and she looked at Anya. “Jeff outed Bart” Anya said and Nadine and Maureen looked confused. “I am gay and he figured it out” Bart explained and the two were surprised. “And he even finds Jeff cute” Anya added and they all started laughing. “Seriously?” Maureen asked and Bart nodded.

“And I even kissed him one time” Anya suddenly said and Jeff looked at her. “Well I just had to get it out of me” she explained and they both laughed. Nadine could not still believe what she was seeing, a moment ago Anya hated Jeff. “So Anya what gives? Why are you suddenly friendly with Jeff?” Nadine asked and Anya looked at her. “Well he has proven himself” she replied but Nadine was not satisfied. “Proven himself in what way?” she asked.

“I don’t have to explain just be happy that I accept him. Or would you rather like the way I was treating him a while ago? I say he is fine so he is fine, and he definitely likes you I can see that” Anya said and Nadine smiled. “I like him too” Bart said and everyone laughed. “No, don’t take me wrongly. I feel that the burden I have been carrying all this time gone, I feel so free thanks to Jeff. I don’t have to pretend to be this macho man anymore. And I am sorry Jeff for punching you; I just had to be a guy. If only I had opened up years ago I could have just bitch slapped you” Bart explained and everyone was laughing silly.

“Hey Bart, it’s easy to open up to your friends, they can easily accept who you are. It’s not going to be easy when you open up to others. It’s going to be a rough ride I tell you” Jeff said and Bart frowned and bowed his head. “But hey, if you want I can pretend to be gay too. So people would think were just fooling around. And when they get used to it you can drop the real bomb. I can let you fix my hair, we can go play tennis wearing skimpy skirts if you want” Jeff said and Bart suddenly grinned. “You fool! I said I was gay but I never said I was a cross dresser!” Bart snapped and they all erupted in laughter.

Nadine and Jeff took a walk around the clubhouse as the others went to play. “Aren’t you supposed to be playing tennis with Maureen?” Jeff asked and people were beginning to stare at them. Nadine held his hand and smiled at the people, “I don’t know how you did it Jeff but I am really happy that they are okay with you” she told him. “Well they are your friends so I really had to try. I would not want you to be in a position where you had to choose between your friends and me” he explained and she leaned her head on his shoulder. “Well if that ever happened I would choose you” she said and Jeff suddenly embraced her tightly. “Come on I want to see you play tennis” he told her and she laughed.

“See me play or see what’s under my skirt?” she teased him and he laughed. “That’s the additional bonus of watching you play” he said and she kissed him. They went back to the tennis court where Nadine played two sets with Maureen. The clubhouse had strict rules; guests were allowed inside but only as spectators. Even if they wanted Jeff to play the watchers would not allow him to. Jeff was fine watching from the sidelines, he did enjoy lots of eye candy from the three ladies. Bart had no more inhibitions, he screamed and moved lady-like and Jeff was somehow happy for him.

Lunch was Anya’s treat so they proceeded to the French restaurant inside the clubhouse. They took their seats but again people were staring at Jeff. The head waiter approached them and said “I am sorry but I cannot allow your guest in here” so Jeff stood up and was ready to leave. “Sit down Jeff! Is there someone complaining?” she asked. “Apparently there will be, as you can see they are all looking this way madam” the head waiter said. “I want a list of all the people who are inside here, and if you and your staff have problems with my guest you might as well place your names on that list” Anya instructed and the man looked troubled. “That won’t be necessary madam but I have to insist that he has to follow the dress code and we can lend him something more suitable. Sir, if you could please follow me this way” the man said and Jeff followed him.

A few minutes later they were surprised to see a different Jeff. He had his hair tied back, he was wearing a white collared shirt and a black suit. “Oh my God” Nadine said as everyone was in awe by his immediate transformation. Jeff and the head waiter seemed to in a joyful conversation as they were smiling headed back to their table.

“Faites je semble bon? Faites je semble riche?” they heard Jeff say in French. “Oui monsieur” the head waiter replied as he guided Jeff to his seat. All eyes were on him as they could not believe what they just heard. “Le menu s'il vous plait” Jeff said and the waiter handed him the menu, “ici vous êtes monsieur” he said. Nadine and Maureen were giggling, Bart had his eyes fixated on Jeff while Anya had an eyebrow raised in disbelief.

“Ce qui est la spécialité de maison? What is the house specialty?” Jeff asked the waited and Nadine couldn’t take it any longer. “Do you really speak French?” she asked. “Yes I do” Jeff said but Nadine looked at the waiter. “He is quite good madam, he just asked me what was the house specialty” the waiter said and everyone was amazed except Anya. “Okay then say something to Nadine, something personal” Anya dared and Jeff looked at Nadine. “Vous êtes beaux et je vous aime tellement” Jeff said with a soft and serious voice. Nadine smiled and looked at the waiter, “He said you look beautiful and he loves you very much” the man translated. Nadine blushed and looked away shyly, “Now I am really jealous” Bart commented and they all laughed.

Jeff looked at Anya then looked at the waiter, “elle est belle et si je n'avais aucune petite amie je la flatterais” he told him and the man smiled and nodded his head. Anya took the menu and started to read it, she paused and looked at Jeff and replied “je dirais oui immédiatement.” Jeff looked startled and did not expect Anya to know French. He just said she was beautiful and if he had no girlfriend he would court her.

Anya’s response was even more shocking for she said that she would say yes to him at once. The others looked towards the waiter waiting for him to translate, “Are they fighting?” Maureen asked and the waiter laughed. “No madam, that was just a friendly exchange” he said then he nodded and Jeff and Anya who both smiled at him.

After they have placed their orders Nadine moved closer to Jeff and held his hand. “Jeff you are full of surprises, I didn’t know you could speak French” she told him. Jeff grinned and fixed his collar, “Well I think it comes with the suit” he joked and they laughed.

Jeff had a hard time eating since Nadine wouldn’t let go is his hand. He was dining with the rich at their territory and this was a dream he never expected that would happen. “So this is what it feels like to be rich” Jeff commented and everyone just looked at him and smiled.

As the sun was about to set they said their goodbyes, Anya was about to get inside her car but Jeff ran after. “Hey, I want to thank you for standing up for me a while back” he said and Anya smiled at him. She got inside the car and closed the door but she rolled down her window. “What you said a while ago, did you really mean it?” she asked and Jeff smiled and scratched his head and could not answer. “Well I meant what I said” Anya told him and the windows started to roll up, but he managed to her wink at him.

“What was that all about?” Nadine asked and Jeff was surprised to see her beside him. “I just thanked her for today, she isn’t a bad person after all” he said and Nadine laughed. “Yeah, today was a day full or surprises. Bart being gay, Anya accepting you all of a sudden and me realizing that I am really in love with you” she said and Jeff smiled and kissed her.

“You forgot to mention one more thing, one of your friends like me” he said and Nadine suddenly felt anger as she stared at his eyes. “Don’t worry its Bart” he said and suddenly she burst in laughter. “Oh man, he kept on staring at me the whole day. Every time he got close I had to get my fist ready” Jeff joked and the more Nadine laughed.

“Jeff I don’t know French so i will just say this in plain and simple English….I love you”

Chapter 5: The Prodigal Son

Chapter 5: The Prodigal Son

“Nadine, I feel so ashamed already, you always treat me out. Today you spent so much money for our dinner. I honestly feel so small right now” Jeff said as they stepped out of an expensive restaurant in the city. Nadine wrapped her arms around his body and looked at him, “We have been together for three months now, I love you and I love being with you. Could you just forget about money matters when we are together?” she said and he embraced her. “I can’t, I am the guy and I am supposed to be the one paying for stuff like this. I feel so useless” he replied.

“Oh don’t be like that, you are not useless. In fact you put a smile on my face every day. Ever since I met you there has never been a dull day. Please don’t spoil the dinner we just had over an issue like this. Could you just forget the monetary issue and just focus on the wonderful dinner we had together?” Nadine said and Jeff smiled at her. “I just don’t want you to think that I am taking advantage” he said. “For three months you actually haven’t” she replied and Jeff looked at her curiously. “Are you thinking of something else?” Jeff asked and Nadine laughed and kissed him. “Are you holding back or are you not attracted to me?” Nadine whispered and Jeff laughed.

“My, public display of affection! Jeff I never knew you had it in you” they heard a voice say and as they turned their heads they say Anthony with a pretty lady. “Hey Tony” Jeff said but Tony had a surprise look on his face. “Nadine?!” he exclaimed and Jeff looked at his girlfriend. “Hello Tony” Nadine said as she held on tightly to Jeff’s arm.

“Wow, so you are Jeff’s girlfriend, what a real surprise I should say” Tony said and Nadine looked away. “Why do you say that?” Jeff asked and Tony just shook his head and acted innocent. “Oh its nothing, oh yeah Jeff I was wondering if you could…ah you know go someplace else for tonight” Tony said and Nadine looked angrily at him. “Don’t worry he is sleeping at my place tonight” she said and Jeff was surprised. “I am?” he asked and Nadine smiled at her. “He is?” Tony asked with a tad bit of jealousy in his face. “Yes he is, so if you would excuse us our ride is here” Nadine said as a black car pulled over and Fritz stepped out.

Tony could not do anything but look at the two as they boarded the car. Fritz closed the door and stared at Tony who turned around and led his partner away. Inside the car Jeff was nervous and confused. Everything happened so fast that he could not react; he looked at Nadine and saw she was quite irritated. “Ah Nadine, could you just take me to the campus, I’m sure I could find some friends who can let me sleep in their room for tonight” he said. “You’re staying at my place tonight” she said and kept a straight face. Jeff was embarrassed for the driver and Fritz could hear what they were talking about.

“Is it me your mad at?” Jeff asked but Fritz turned and looked at him and signaled him to keep quiet. Jeff sat still as he could feel the anger mounting inside Nadine. She had her fists clenched so he held them and looked at her. “Its Tony right?” he said and Nadine took a deep breath and looked at him. “That guy is an asshole. He used to hang out with us. He was one of us” she said. “Then what happened?” Jeff asked and Fritz again looked at him and shook his head. Jeff understood that something bad had happened so just sat back and caressed her hands.

The car stopped and they all got out, Jeff could not believe what he was seeing. It was a wide estate with a huge mansion situated at the center. Several expensive cars were lined up in front and there were so many trees and flowers all around. “Jeff are you alright?” Nadine asked and Jeff looked at her. “Am I alright? I think you should ask if I am dreaming” he said and she laughed. “Come on lets go inside” she said and she held his hand and led the way towards the door.

The door opened and an old man wearing a suit greeted them. “Good evening Miss Nadine, will your guest be staying with us for tonight?” the man asked and Nadine smiled and nodded. “I shall go prepare one guest room then” the man said and Nadine whispered in his ear. The man smiled and nodded and closed the door behind them. “Wow, this place is huge” Jeff commented as he stood still looking at his surroundings. “Well this is where I live, my room is upstairs” she said and she walked towards the stairs and Jeff followed her.

Nadine was halfway up but she noticed Jeff was still at the bottom, “Come on what are you waiting for?” she asked. “Where are your parents?” he asked. “They are not here, they will be back tomorrow” she said and Jeff started walking up the stairs. Nadine’s room was at the second floor, there were several rooms there and her room was the largest.

She stepped inside her room but Jeff remain outside, “Come on in” she said but Jeff shook his head. “I think you should show me to my room now” he said and Nadine laughed and walked towards him. She placed her hands on his shoulders and stared him in the eyes. “I didn’t let them fix a guest room for you” she said softly and Jeff grinned. “And why did you do that?” he asked and she smiled. “My room is big enough for the both of us” she said and indeed it was.

“Okay I can sleep on the floor” he told her but she brushed her lips against his lips and teased him. “Then I will sleep on the floor with you” she whispered. “You have a big bed, you don’t have to sleep on the floor with me” he told her. “It’s so lonely sleeping alone in a big bed” she countered and Jeff started to laugh. “So if I sleep beside you in your bed you won’t get lonely?” he asked and she smiled. “It won’t, but I’m not sure if we would be able to sleep” she teased and they both laughed.

Jeff sat on her bed and she closed the door. Jeff was nervous and could not keep still. “I can’t sleep with these clothes on, and I’m sure I can’t borrow any of your clothes” he said and Nadine opened her drawer and took out several boxer shorts and shirts and handed them over. Jeff was surprised to see they were his size and they all brand new. “You have a brother?” he asked and Nadine sat down beside him. “I don’t, I actually bought those for you just in case you will be sleeping over” she said and Jeff began to laugh. “Why am I thinking that you planned this to happen?” he said and Nadine shyly smiled and grabbed all the clothes from him.

“I actually did but Tony ruined it, still you ended up here even if it was not according to my plan” she said and Jeff laughed louder. “Okay, so which of those would you want me to wear?” he asked but Nadine walked back to her drawer and returned the clothes inside. “None of them” she replied and Jeff again laughed. “You expect me to sleep naked beside you?” he asked and Nadine flashed and evil smile. “Who said you will be the only one naked?” she replied as she started turned off the lights and started taking her clothes off. A minute later they were under the sheets, they faced each other and embraced.

“You’re trembling” Nadine said and Jeff laughed. “Sorry, it’s my first time being naked with a girl in bed” he explained. “Okay, so how does it feel?” she asked as she pressed her body closer to his. “Soft” he replied and Nadine laughed. “Really then how come I’m feeling something that isn’t?” she teased and Jeff giggled. “You’re teasing me, you have to guide me through this you know” he said and Nadine moved her face closer to his face. “I think I can’t do that, this is my first time too” she said and Jeff was a bit surprised and they smiled at each other. “Wow, so I guess we have to explore then…so where do we start?” he told her. “I think we should start by kissing” Nadine said and their lips locked and their naked bodies intertwined.

The next morning Jeff woke up smiling; he looked at Nadine and was surprised to see her smiling at him too. “How come you look much prettier now?” Jeff said and she laughed and embraced him. “Do you have any regrets?” he asked, Nadine was surprised with his question. “Of course not, I had three boyfriends before you. They never got the chance to do what you did. I really wanted to wait until we got married but I couldn’t resist, and you didn’t disappoint me” she said and they both laughed.

“I really wanted to do better but it was my first so it’s good to hear that you were satisfied” he said and she kissed him on the cheek and her hands started to get naughty. “I never said I was satisfied” she said and Jeff suddenly felt bad. “But don’t worry, you still have the whole day to make me” she teased. “It’s good your parents aren’t here” he told her. “Why?” she asked. “Well if they were here last night they could have heard you moaning so loud” he teased her and imitated her. Nadine burst in laughter as she covered his mouth with her hands. The rest of the day they spent like children teasing and enjoying each other’s company. Several times they turned to adults where they expressed their deep feelings through passionate love making.

Monday afternoon Jeff and Nadine were strolling around the campus and they happen to pass by the so called elite’s hangout. Anya, Bart and Maureen were seated casually and they all noticed a different glow on Nadine’s face. “Hey Nadine you look different today” Maureen said and Nadine giggled and held Jeff’s arm tightly. “Oh my God, you…” Maureen said as she pulled Nadine to take seat and they whispered. The two were giggling, Jeff suddenly felt embarrassed but Bart stood up and held his hand. “I’m taking you offer, come let’s take a walk” Bart said and they walked around campus pretending to be a gay couple.

The three girls laughed their hearts out as they watched the two gleefully walk around. Their hands were swaying and everyone who saw them laughed thinking it was just an act. For Bart it was not an act, this was his first step in telling everyone the truth. Jeff was being a friend and he looked as if he was the gay one.

“I can’t believe it you slept with him did you?” Maureen said and Nadine giggled. “Oh spare me the details” Anya said so the two took a walk as Nadine told her friend all about it. Jeff and Bart returned but the prodigal son showed his face. “Hi guys!” Tony said and Anya quickly stood up and looked at Jeff. “Take a walk with me please” she begged. Bart sat down beside Tony and waived at Anya and Jeff as they took a walk.

“Why do you all seem mad at Tony? Even Nadine acted strange the other night when we saw him” Jeff said. “He used to be one of us, there were lots of people in our group before but because of him only a few of us are left” Anya related. “He is my roommate and all I know is he is a player” Jeff said. “Exactly” Anya replied but Jeff still didn’t understand why he was hated that much.

“Tony hit on all of the guys’ girlfriends. They really beat him up one time but that didn’t make him leave so they guy’s left. We thought he already changed and he made us believe that. He courted me, I almost gave in but he slipped. We learned that he was hitting on all of us girls at the same time. The worst thing he did was tell the whole world that he slept with all of us. Everyone knew he was a playboy so people easily believed him. Some of us admitted sleeping with him, some kept quiet, and some denied but no one believed us” Anya recalled and Jeff felt angry but he knew better.

“I’m sure he didn’t sleep with Nadine” Jeff said and Anya laughed and elbowed him. “I’m sure you are” she replied and they laughed but Jeff looked at her. “Why are you looking at me like that? You think I slept with him?” she asked. “I’m not saying anything, I just looked at you” he explained and Anya grinned. “Or would you like me to show you proof?” she teased him. “That won’t be necessary, I believe you” he said. “Okay but if ever you have doubts I won’t mind showing you” she said and they laughed.

Nadine and Maureen joined Jeff and Anya; from afar Tony and Bart looked on. “What does that guy have that I don’t? I definitely look better and that guy is dirt poor but how come the girls seem to like him?” Tony said and Bart leaned his head on his shoulder. Tony pushed him away and stood up, “What the hell are you doing? Are you gay?” Tony exclaimed and Bart smiled and nodded. “You’re gay?!” he again asked and Bart stood up and faced him. “Yeah! You have a problem with that?” he said and Tony stepped backwards shaking his head. “Stay away from me you freak!” he told Bart.

“You asked why we like Jeff? The answer is simple, he isn’t you” Bart said it straight to his face. Tony sat down and watched Bart join the group, his eyes fixated on Nadine and Jeff. He was angry and very jealous, he looked little of Jeff but at this moment he was someone he could never be.

“I’m going to destroy you” he whispers as he watches the group walk towards the campus exit.

Chapter 6: Two-Face

Chapter 6: Two-Face

One Monday afternoon Nadine went to the river and she was shocked to see a different person sitting under the tree. “Tony have you seen Jeff?” she asked, Tony looked at her and smiled offering a spot beside him. “It’s been a long time since we got to talk, would you want to seat down and enjoy the view with me?” he offered but Nadine shook her head. “It’s okay I would rather stand and wait for him” she replied. “You don’t have to be that cold, I’m sorry for what I have done in the past. Honestly I am trying to change” tony said and Nadine laughed.

“It’s true but that’s the problem no one believes me and I deserve that. I have done so many bad things in the past and I am sorry. What I did to you I did out of anger, I really liked you. You never gave me chance, I know what I did was so immature but I regret what I did and I am really sorry” Tony said and Nadine was silent. She does not want to believe him but looking at him and hearing his words they all seem real and truthful.

“So why only now?” Nadine asked and Tony sighed. “Seeing you with Jeff made me feel so jealous. I thought I was over you but I guess I wasn’t. I don’t want to meddle in your relationship, I just want for us to be friends again. Seeing Jeff, I now understand where I went wrong. It could have been me with you if I was only wiser. I know I did a lot of cruel stuff to Jeff and when he knew about our relationship he wanted to get back at me. He wanted to mock me so he courted you” Tony said and Nadine was a bit surprised. “You are lying” she said and Tony looked at her. “I am telling the truth. Of course you would not believe me now because what is etched in your mind is I am the evil one. Jeff only took advantage; I kept telling him stories about you that is why he knew how to act according to your liking. The result, you and him are together” Tony said.

“Liar! You expect me to believe that? You are a liar!” Nadine shouted and she was surprised as someone touched her shoulder. “What’s wrong?” Jeff asked and Nadine embraced him. “What have you done to her?” Jeff asked and Tony just shrugged his shoulders. “Nadine tell me what he said” Jeff told her but Nadine just shook her head and held his hand. They walked away but Jeff turned back to look at Tony who was grinning at him. “Nadine what happened?” he asked her again but Nadine again shook her head and leaned on his shoulder as they continued walking.

The next day Nadine found Tony again under the tree, this time it was different. He had a piece of paper and he was tapping a pencil on it so she stood closer to him and peeked. “You drew that?” she asked as she marveled at the drawing of a tulip. “Yeah but I didn’t get it quite right” Tony replied. “No, it’s actually good” she said and he handed it to her. “It’s yours, take it” he said and they stared each other in the eyes. “Go ahead take it, I always knew you loved flowers” he told her and Nadine took the piece of paper and looked at the drawing. “Once he sees that he is going to say that he made that, but you would know better” Tony said as he stood up and left her.

Jeff arrived moments later; Nadine kept the sketch and was hesitant in showing it to him. She was scared of what Tony said especially if he was right, she saw him sketch it so it would be impossible if Jeff said that it was his. Nadine saw a different side of Tony, she wanted to believe that he was changing but still she was not satisfied.

For several days Nadine has been acting funny, Jeff was worried so he went to see Maureen about it. “Hey Maureen has Nadine been telling you stuff about me lately?” he asked. “No, why?” she asked. “I don’t know, she has been acting strange lately. Maybe she is bored with me” he said. “Well that happens in a relationship if you do the same stuff over and over again. Try to get out of your comfort zone and say treat her out” Maureen said but Jeff looked at her. “Oh sorry, forget what I said” she told him but Jeff nodded his head. “You’re right, it’s been always her so maybe this time I will surprise her. Do you know her favorite restaurant?” he asked.

“Ah, yes but I don’t think it’s a good idea” Maureen said. “Hey, I know it’s an expensive one, don’t worry I will find a part time job and save up for it” he told her. “Okay, it’s the Lemorange, its expensive there though” she replied and Jeff nodded. “Okay, so now where do I find work” he sighed. “If you want I can loan you the money” Maureen offered but Jeff smiled at her. “No thanks, I want to sweat it out, I want to work hard for this date of ours” he answered and Maureen smiled at him. “You are so sweet, anyway good luck and in case you don’t find work my offer still stands okay?” she said.

That same day Jeff approached Anya and asked her to go for a walk with him. “Anya, I need to ask a favor” he told her. “What do you need?” she asked. “I need a job, a short term job just enough for me to earn two thousand dollars” he said and Anya looked at him. She opened her bag and brought out her wallet. “No, I said I need a job, not a loan” Jeff reiterated and Anya still counted and handed him the money. “Please not like this, I want to earn for it, I want to take Nadine on an expensive date. I know she wouldn’t be expecting it so I really need to earn for it” Jeff said and Anya looked at him.

“I’m giving you an easy way out here take it” she told him. “You don’t get it, I have to work for it or else it’s not going to feel the same. I want to sweat and break bones for the money and in return I’m sure she would be smiling and it would be all worth it” Jeff explained and Anya paused and returned the money inside her bag. “Fine, come to my place this afternoon” she told him. “And I hope you don’t tell Nadine about this” Jeff added and she smiled at him.

That afternoon by the river Jeff and Nadine had a talk. “Nadine, are you bored with me?” Jeff asked and she was surprised with his question. “Of course not, why do you ask?” she answered. “Nothing, I just feel that lately you are lonely even when you are with me” he said and Nadine kissed him on the lips. “That’s not true, I just have a lot in mind especially the semester is about to end. You know school stuff and all those requirements” she told him. “Yeah me too, and after a hard day’s work in school seeing you just refreshes me. It seems that I don’t have the same effect on you” he said.

“Oh Jeff don’t say that, you know that I love and I want to be with you always. Maybe we both have different ways in handling the pressure. I too am happy when I see you, so don’t say that I don’t” she explained. “Nadine, for the next two weeks I might not be able to come here, I have a lot of stuff to do. So I was thinking if we could be together later in the evenings” Jeff said and Nadine looked at him. “What if we both take a break first, lets focus on the academics, now don’t get me wrong, I do want to be with you but look at it this way, we get to miss each other right?” she said and he smiled.

“We can see each other on campus right? We can spend lunch together right?” he asked and she nodded. “So for the next two weeks we both focus on school work, just in time for Spring Break we can get together and you know” she teased and they both laughed. Everything was settled but little did they know there was someone lurking nearby who heard everything.

Jeff proceeded to Anya’s place after parting with Nadine. If Anya had a huge estate, Anya’s family had a bigger one. He was stopped at the gate for his name was not on the list of guests that the family was expecting. After one call by the security personnel he was let in, it took him five minutes to reach the front door of the house and Anya was there to greet him.

Anya was a red haired girl with expressive eyes. She was pretty and only now did Jeff know she had a fantastic figure. “Wow, this is unexpected, greeting me on your underwear” Jeff said and Anya laughed. “What are you talking about? I’m wearing shorts” she replied. “Are you sure? They seem like panties to me” he said as he stared at her long legs. “I was just trying them out, you know Spring break is coming soon so I wanted to prepare for it” she explained.

“So what work will I be doing?” he asked and they took a walk towards the left side of the house and there were twelve luxury vehicles parked nicely. “There, you have to wash, wax and make them look shiny” she told him. “Are you serious? They look sparkling to me” he commented but Anya took a bucket full of mud and splashed it on the first vehicle closest to them. “Now it looks dirty” she said and they both laughed.

“Now I will pay you a hundred dollars per car. So there are twelve cars, so that is good for 12 days” Anya said and Jeff suddenly paused and thought of where to get the rest of the money. “Okay everything you need is here, and I will be supervising you” Anya said and Jeff started to work on the first car. After two hours the vehicle was sparkling again and Anya inspected the car and she was satisfied.

“Hey Anya, after I finish with the twelve cars would you dirty up eight of them again so I can clean them” Jeff said and Anya looked at him. “No, I know you need eight hundred more so I am going to pay you an extra fifty dollars to eat dinner with me and another fifty to spend an hour tutoring me and helping me with school work” she said and he just smiled. “I can do those for free you know” he told her. “Oh so your saying you want to them for free then?” she asked and Jeff laughed. “I really need the money badly but yeah I can help you out on your schoolwork for free, the dinner would be enough payment” he said.

“So that’s going to be a dilemma for you then, and where would you find the other eight hundred dollars?” she asked. “I don’t know yet but don’t worry about it, I’m sure I will find a way” he said. “You really love her do you?” she asked suddenly. “Yeah, I really want to surprise her even just once. I know she understands my situation and she adapts to me but lately I can see she is out of her element. She says it’s about school work but I know she is intelligent and hard working. Even though she won’t tell me the truth I can sense it. Being poor makes you boring since can’t do much really” he told her.

The next day Nadine went to the river even though she knew Jeff wouldn’t be there. She sat down under the tree and a few minutes later Tony sat down beside her. “Here, I wrote you a poem” he said as he handed over a piece of paper. “And why would you write me a poem?” she asked. “I didn’t know what to do with my free period so I thought about you and just started writing it” he said. Nadine read the poem and she liked it, “Wow, I didn’t know you were good at writing” she commented. “Indeed, all you people know is the Tony who is a player, the liar and the no good friend. I can’t blame you since all those were my sins of the past. I’m trying to change, so I want to show everyone a different side of me” he told her.

“I should say I am impressed. First, the drawing and now this? Maybe you are changing” she said. “Yes I am, but there is one thing that I can never change” he told her. Nadine looked at him and he pouted, “I can never change the feelings I have for you” he softly said and Nadine looked away immediately. “Thank you for the poem, I have to go now. If you see Jeff say hi to him for me” she said as she quickly stood up and walked away.

Monday afternoon Tony saw Jeff and Anya leave the campus together. He approached Maureen and asked about the two. “Are they like going steady?” he asked and Maureen laughed. “No, Anya is helping Jeff out. She lets him work at their estate so Jeff could earn money for their dream date with Nadine. Don’t tell anyone I told you” Maureen said and Tony grinned devilishly.

Nadine and Tony were by the river again, he gave her another poem and she was starting to feel at ease with him. “It must be difficult to be alone when your boyfriend is fooling around with another girl” Tony said and Nadine was surprised. “What the hell are you saying?” she asked. “I said what I said” he replied. “Jeff would never do that to me, he is just busy with school work” Nadine told him. “It’s okay if you don’t believe me, I’m just his roommate anyway” Tony added and Nadine suddenly felt ill and suspicious. “I know what you’re trying to do; you are trying to destroy him so you could get back at me. Sorry, I trust Jeff that much and I don’t believe you” Nadine replied.

“Hey, I’m just trying to be a friend here. If you don’t believe me then ask him where he goes every afternoon. Of course he won’t tell you the answer. So ask him if it is related to school work” Tony said and he stood up and left. Nadine didn’t know what to believe, she trusted Jeff but Tony made her even more suspicious. She could a slight pain in her heart and it made her feel worse.

The next day Nadine and Jeff had lunch at the cafeteria; she held on to his hand and looked him straight in the eyes. “Jeff, where have you been going every afternoon?” she asked him. Jeff was a bit surprised but managed to keep his composure. “I can’t tell you, but you will find out next week” he told her. “Why? What’s happening next week?” she asked. “I can’t tell you that either, you just have to trust me on this one” he said. “Jeff are you fooling around my back?” she asked and the more he was surprised. “What made you say that?” he replied. “Well are you?” she insisted. “Of course not, why would I do that?” he said.

“Nothing it’s just a thought. So tell me, every afternoon, what you’re doing is related to school work?” she asked and Jeff paused and looked at her. “Yes it is” he answered but Nadine already was hurt when he paused. Jeff knew she had doubts already so he had to move things faster before he totally loses her.

That afternoon Nadine felts so sad, she sat under the tree and images of Jeff with another girl filled her imagination. “So did you ask him?” Tony asked and she even didn’t notice him arriving. “Yes” she replied. “So what did he say?” he asked. “I think you are telling the truth” she answered. Tony handed her another piece of paper but Nadine quickly placed it inside her bag, “Aren’t you going to read it?” he asked. “I’m not in the mood for reading” she told him.

“Hey listen, whatever happens to you two remember I am always here for you” he said and she nodded her head and remained silent.

Chapter 7: Broken

Chapter 7: Broken

It was the twelfth day and Jeff had just finished working on the final vehicle. He sat down on the ground and stared at the car as Anya sat beside him. “Hey Anya, do you think twelve hundred dollars would be enough?” he asked. “I don’t think so, why are you giving up?” she asked. “I have to, I think she is being suspicious already so I have to act quickly” he explained. “Wait here” she told him and Anya went inside the house.

A few minutes later Anya returned with her driver, butler and other servants. They dirtied eight more cars and Jeff was surprised. “Anya its getting dark I don’t think I would be able to finish them all tonight” Jeff said. “I know that is why we are helping you” she said and he just stood there staring at her. “Anya you don’t have to do this, you have helped a lot already” he said. “Jeff twelve hundred dollars isn’t enough, so get up and start working” she said as she too got her hands dirty.

The next day Jeff was so excited, he looked all over the campus for Nadine. Not realizing the time he felt silly because Nadine would still be arriving so immediately ran towards the front gate and there she was. Nadine was surprised to see Jeff all lively and he even hugged her tightly and kissed her. “I missed you” he told her but somehow there was already doubt on her mind.

“Hey Nadine, are you doing anything tonight?” he asked. “No, why?” she asked. “Okay, after your class go straight home and I will do the same. Wait for my text message okay?” he told her. “But you don’t have a phone” she said. “I’m going to borrow Tony’s phone, I’m sure he would not mind one text message” he said. “Why are you so excited? Tell me what’s going to happen” she said.

“I really can’t, but please trust me. I know you have doubted me for the past two weeks so tonight I will set everything straight. Please wait for my text message, oh does Tony have your number?” he asked. “Yes he does, we have been hanging out with each other for the past two weeks” she said and Jeff stood still and could not believe what he just heard.

“Don’t worry he is just being a friend. So see you later then” Nadine said as she hurried to her first class. Jeff felt uneasy over what he just heard, he knew Tony too well and he could not believe that he was just being friendly.

After classes Jeff took a bath and got dressed. Lucky for him Tony was in the room so he asked if he could borrow his phone. “Wait a minute I’m sending a text message to my mom” Tony said and after that he handed his phone to Jeff. Jeff immediately sent a text message to Nadine and returned the phone. He took a deep breath and made sure the money was in his pocket. He left the room without saying a word and after a few seconds there was a loud knock on the door.

Tony stood up and opened the door and a huge student was there. “Hey man, what gives? Are you being gay or something? What the hell does this message of yours mean?” the guy asked and showed his phone. Tony read the text message, “Meet me at the Lemorange at seven” it read. He got out a hundred dollar bill and gave it to the guy, “Sorry Drake, it wasn’t meant for you, here something to make you forget about this ever happening” he said and closed the door. Tony knew Jeff would erase the message after sending so before he handed over his phone he switched the numbers of Nadine and Drake.

Tony got dressed and sent a text message to Nadine, “Meet me by the river ASAP, I have something important to tell you about Jeff” the message read and he quickly got going.

It was almost seven and Jeff was seated at a window side table inside Lemorange. He was waiting for her, and he was so excited. Near the river a black car pulled over and Nadine stepped out and quickly ran towards the tree. Tony was there standing as he had his head bowed. “What is it?” Nadine asked. “I assume that he made you a promise to send you a text message right?” Tony asked. “Yes, don’t tell me you didn’t lend him your phone” she said. “I actually did, and out of curiosity I read it after he left” he answered.

“But I have not received it yet” she said. “I know because he didn’t send one to you” Tony said and she was shocked and saddened. “Here read it yourself” Tony told her and he showed her the message sent to an unsaved number. “I don’t know who owns that number but maybe you know. Do you recognize it?” Tony asked and Nadine was shaking in anger. She tried to keep calm as she brought out her phone to check.

She went through all her contacts but she didn’t find a match. She punched in the number on her phone and tried to call but Tony stopped her. “Don’t do that, I am sorry Nadine. Jeff is seeing another girl” he said and Nadine bowed her head and Tony quickly embraced her. “Why?! How can he do this to me?!” she screamed as she started to cry. “Hush now, I know it hurts you but I have seen the signs for a long time. I just didn’t know how to tell you since you don’t believe me” Tony said as he flashed an evil grin while he was comforting her.

Across the Lemorange Anya was seated inside her car staring at Jeff who was still waiting for Nadine. “Damn it Nadine where the hell are you?!” she shouted as her driver looked at her. “It has been an hour already madam, maybe you should call his date” the driver suggested. “No, I cannot interfere, maybe she is just late. Let him wait a little longer” she said.

Thirty minutes passed and Nadine stopped crying, Tony wiped her eyes and stood up. “Come on lets go see who the girl is” he suggested. Nadine stood up and shook her head, “No I’m just going to go home. This is too much for me to take in” she said. “No, listen to me; it’s better to know who you are dealing with. Call it closure” he told her and so they got in the car.

Jeff has been waiting for two hours, he was getting anxious but he saw a familiar face. “Anya what are you doing here?” he asked as she took a seat in front of him. “I happened to pass by and saw you alone” she told him and he pouted and bowed his head. “I feel so embarrassed, the waiter has been asking me every twenty minutes and I ran out of excuses anymore. What makes me feel sadder is she isn’t still here. I want to wait until I can but I guess I’m just going to make a fool of myself” he said.

“Wait let me call her” Anya said as she brought out her phone. As she was about to press the call button her phone rang and it was Nadine calling. “Hello, where are you?” Anya asked. “Pass the phone to Jeff” Nadine said and Anya was shocked. She handed the phone to Jeff and saw Nadine and Tony standing beside her car across the street.

“Nadine why didn’t you show up?” Jeff asked as he looked across the street and saw the two. “She showed up. So is this what you wanted to show me?” she said. Jeff stood up and waived at Nadine, “Wait for me, I will explain everything” he said. “Don’t bother, there is nothing else to explain because I have seen everything. I hate liars, I hate you!” Nadine said and she turned off her phone. Tony and Nadine got inside the car and Jeff could not do anything, he tried to call her number but she didn’t pick up.

Jeff sat down and bowed his head, the waiter approached and Anya told him that they were leaving. “No, lets order” Jeff said. “What? Jeff, Nadine already left with Tony and basically it’s my fault because I entered” Anya said. “Anya please have dinner with me, help me save this day, talk to me, eat with me, please I beg you help me save a good memory for this day” Jeff softly pleaded and Anya took the menu. “Please order for me” Jeff said as Anya saw tears flowing down his cheeks.

It actually was a silent dinner, Anya felt guilty for what happened. “Jeff I’m sorry” she said. “It’s not your fault, it was all mine. She told me she has been seeing Tony for the past two weeks. I know he did something to change her mind” he told her and she saw his fists tightening and his face full of anger. After dinner Anya offered him a ride back to the University but Jeff declined. Jeff took a long walk back and Anya followed him in the car. As she watched Jeff take each step her tears started to fall.

As Jeff reached the campus he turned to look at the car and waived, he knew she was trailing him but he never saw the tears she was shedding for him. As the car turned around and left, Jeff walked away from campus and headed towards the river. He didn’t want to enter his dorm room for he was afraid of what he might do to Tony.

Jeff woke up with a cough; his eyes were sore due to the tears that never stopped flowing even when he tried to sleep. “So you slept here” Nadine said and he was surprised to see her standing beside him. “Look Nadine I can explain everything” he said as he stood up and faced her. “Explain what? I saw everything, I just can believe it was Anya, you are worst than Tony” she told him.

“Tony!? You are comparing me to that guy?” he asked and she shook her head. “Actually no, he is better than you. You got what you wanted, so you moved to the next rich girl. That’s your game plan right?” she said and Jeff could not believe what she was saying. “I can’t believe what Tony did to you, he turned you against me” he said. “You think? He is just being a friend. He knew something was fishy so he told me and I listened to him” she explained and the more enraged he was.

“I cant believe you trust him more than me” Jeff said. “Well you were gone for two weeks, so he was there for me. I saw a different side of Tony. He even gave me a sketch and poems daily” she said and she brought out her folder and showed him the sketch and the poems. Jeff laughed and shook his head, “I cant believe that asshole, he stole this from me” Jeff said and Nadine laughed louder. “See, he was right. He said that is exactly what you were going to say. Jeff stop pretending, you can never be like Tony. If you say this was yours then why didn’t you give them to me? No, this isn’t yours, I even saw Tony sketch this, I hate liars Jeff. I hate you and I don’t want to see you ever again!” she yelled.

“That is his?! Are you sure you saw him draw that?! Are you sure?! Then ask him where is the other half of this sketch!!! Go ahead ask him where the other half is!!! Ask him where are the rest of the poems! Maybe he even got hold of my story, go ahead ask him for the story and read it!!!” he shouted back and ran away.

That afternoon Nadine visited Jeff and Tony’s room but only the latter was there. “What a surprise” Tony said as he opened the door. “I want to ask you about the missing half of the sketch” Nadine said and Tony felt clueless. “What do you mean other half of the sketch?” he said as he recalled tearing the page from Jeff’s art notebook. “I don’t know, Jeff told me it was his drawing and he told me to ask you about the other half” she clarified and Tony shook his head. “Just like I told you am I right?” he replied and Nadine sat down on his bed.

“He also told me the poems are his, and he is telling me to ask you about the story” Nadine said and Tony sat down beside her. “So tell me who do you believe in? Me or him?” he asked and Nadine sighed. “I guess it has to be you” she said. “Well about the story, yes I did make a story but the school has it. If you want I can accompany you to the dean’s office to see it” Tony said but Nadine shook her head. “That won’t be necessary, I believe you” she said and Tony was able to breathe a sigh of relief.

“I cant believe I fell in love with a liar” she said. “Well you can confront him later he will be back any minute now. He comes to drop his things and goes back out at this times” Tony said and suddenly she had an idea. “I want to make him feel worse, take of your shirt quick” she said as she started to take off her blouse. “Wow, we don’t have to do this Nadine” Tony said.

“We are not doing anything, we will just pretend we had sex, come on get inside the blanket and don’t you touch me! I am warning you!” she said and Tony laughed and got inside the blanket. The two were in position as Nadine took off her bra to make it more realistic, “Don’t you dare look or touch me” she said and Tony just grinned.

Ten minutes later they heard the door open; Jeff stepped inside and was shocked to see Nadine in bed with Tony. He stood there frozen, his heart was aching and it was about to crumble. “What are you staring at?” Nadine asked and he just shook his head. Jeff walked towards his side of the room. “You want to go another round?” Tony asked and Nadine looked at him angrily. “Come on its just acting” he whispered. “Give me time to rest, I can’t go three successive” Nadine said and they both smiled.

Fifteen minutes later Jeff walked towards the door carrying his full back pack. He turned towards Nadine and smiled, he bowed to her and Tony then he left. As soon as the door closed the two burst in laughter. “We broke him!” Tony said and Nadine was laughing her heart out. “Did you see that? All he could do was smile and bow his head! It feels good!” she shouted and the more they laughed.

“I guess I have to find a new roommate” Tony commented and Nadine looked at him. “Why? Are you kicking him out?” she asked. “No, did you see he left. He isn’t coming back” he replied. “Maybe he just went to the library” she said but Tony laughed. “No, you saw him, he had his backpack full, that’s everything he owns, that pathetic loser” Tony said and Nadine pushed him off the bed. “Turn around and look!” she yelled as she got dressed.

Nadine quickly went to Jeff’s side of the room and saw nothing left. The drawers were empty and there was no trace of any valuables she could recognize that belongs to him. “I told you he got it all in his bag” Tony said as Nadine ran out the door.

She ran towards the river but she didn’t see anyone sitting under the tree. She waited for him, she was feeling guilty. She sat down and started to cry and call out for his name. “Jeff please come back” she whispered as more tears started flowing down her cheeks.

The tree was wide; there was another person on the other side crying like her. He could hear her and he wanted to tell her he was just there but what he saw in the room pained him so much. He just hugged his backpack and cried in silence.

It was already dark, Fritz went to pick up Nadine and she went with him. As the car sped away Jeff followed and walked towards the town. Tony saw everything; he thought that the two have spoken to each other. He walked towards the tree and stared at it.

“I’m not finished with you yet Jeff” he whispered to himself.

Chapter 8: Mud

Chapter 8: Mud

The next morning as Nadine was being driven to school she noticed a fence around the side of the road leading to the river. She had the car stopped and there were barbed wires surrounding the fence. “PRIVATE PROPERTY” the sign board said and below that was the logo of the company of Anthony’s father.

Once inside the campus she tried to look for Jeff and Tony but she had no luck. She tried again looking for Jeff at lunch time but she only saw Anya who she totally ignored. After classes in the afternoon she waited for Jeff but only Tony showed his face. “Hey Tony what the hell is your father trying to do?” she asked and he grinned. “Actually it was my idea, I have plans for that place” he said. “And what plans are those?” she asked and he laughed. “Of course to take out his sweet spot, I know that is where he like to hang out and I saw you two there yesterday” he told her.

“I was there yesterday but he wasn’t” she said. “Oh? That is not what I saw. I saw clearly that after you left he also left the place. So don’t lie to me now, you hate liars so don’t hate yourself” Tony said and she slapped him in the face. Tony was about to slapped her back but Bart threw a punch straight to his jaw which knocked him to the ground. Tony was dazed and could not stand up, “Don’t bother standing up, just crawl away asshole!” Bart yelled and Tony mustering his pride, he crawled away to safety to the delight of onlookers.

“Are you alright Nadine?” Bart asked and Emily stood there beside them. “You bitch how dare you even show your face to me!!!” Nadine screamed as she was about to slap Anya on the face. Bart prevented her from doing so and embraced her. “Stop it Nadine! You two need to talk” Bart told her. “I don’t want to talk to that bitch!” Nadine yelled and Maureen showed up and faced her. “I really think you two should talk” she said.

Nadine agreed so they all sat down on a nearby bench. Anya stood in front of Nadine and stared her in the eyes. “If you don’t want to talk to me, then you just listen” she said and Nadine tried to look away. “Jeff approached me about three weeks ago, asking for a job. He said he needed money so I tried give him but he said he wanted to work for it” Anya said. “He brought out that issue to me first; he was asking why you were acting strange towards him. I told you might be bored so I suggested that he treated you to your favorite restaurant. I tried to lend him the money but he said he wanted to work for it” Maureen added and Nadine looked at them.

“He came to me for help so I let him work at my estate. He cleaned our cars, just to earn enough to treat you on a date at your favorite restaurant” Anya related and Nadine was starting to feel very guilty. “For twelve days he would come to my house and work that is why you don’t see him every afternoon. On the twelfth day he was problematic since he felt he was losing you to Tony” Anya said and all Nadine could do was take it all in.

“He planned everything, he sent you a text message that afternoon so you had no time to react and just go there. He waited for two hours and you never showed up. I felt worried so I came over and when I tried to call you…you called me first and saw us there…you didn’t even bother to listen to us” Anya said and Nadine shook her head in disbelief.

“I can’t you believe you for making up that story to cover up your fault” Nadine said and she stood up and walked away. The three didn’t stop her and just watched her walk out of the campus exit. A few seconds later Jeff stood in front of them, the noticed his shoes were all muddy and he had his head bowed. “Thank you for trying” he told them and he too walked away.

The last day of the exams arrived and Nadine just came out of her final class. She was walking the hall sluggishly and her professor caught up with her. “Nadine, I never saw you like this. Is something bothering you?” her professor asked. “Professor do you know a student named Jeffery Atkins?” she asked and the professor’s face lit up. “Ah yes Jeff, I heard some colleagues speak of him at the lounge” she said. “What course is he taking?” Nadine asked and her professor paused and nodded. “I think it was Literature or something” she said and Nadine’s heart suddenly beat fast. She never asked Jeff what he was taking, and he never told him her course either.

“Professor may I ask why is Jeff famous?” Nadine asked and her professor smiled at her. “That boy has gone through so much in life and he wrote a story telling his tale. The story was not finished yet actually that’s what he said but that incomplete story earned him a scholarship here. I think you should go see their dean. Oh if I could remember he likewise had a poem collection which the university decided to publish as a gift for his graduation” the professor said and Nadine just froze and guilt feelings started to encompass her whole body.

“Nadine are you alright?” the professor asked and she shook her head. “Professor could you please accompany me to his dean, I want to take a look at his work” Nadine said and the professor gladly accompanied her.

Upon reaching the Dean of Literature’s office Nadine and her professor was surprised to see the floor muddy. “Jean, what a surprise, come in. Don’t mind the mud, our top student was here a while ago and I just don’t know why his feet and pants were muddy” the old man said. “Jeff was here?” Nadine asked and the old man looked at her. “Henry this is our top student Nadine, I’m sure you have heard of her” Jean said.

“That’s funny; Jeffrey left something for a certain Nadine Sanders. I think this is for you” Henry said and handed over to her an art notebook. Nadine quickly opened the art book and saw a sketch of her, the other part was missing so she quickly got out her folder and took the sketch Tony gave her. It fitted perfectly, and the result was a sketch of her holding the tulip. She could remember now, the clothes she was wearing on the sketch were the same clothes she wore the first time she visited the place.

She turned the page and another sketch of her wearing the clothes she wore the second day. As she flipped the pages, tears started to fall down her cheek. Only Jeff could have drawn these since he was the only one with her at those times. At the last page was a sketch of her lying in bed beside a man without a face. “This was the last image I had of you. I hope the sketch that you have fits perfectly to the missing page of this notebook” was scribbled below the last sketch. She could not take it anymore; she fell to the ground and sobbed.

Everyone inside the office tried to console her but Nadine cried even louder. She hated herself at that moment; she didn’t trust him and let herself be duped by Tony. An hour later the campus was almost empty because it was Spring break already. Nadine walked out the building holding the notebook close to her chest. Outside were her friends who she did not trust waiting for her. She again cried and everyone hugged her.

“I was wrong, I’m so sorry” she said as she embraced Anya. “Hush now, don’t worry about it” Anya said as she hugged her tightly. The four of them took the back route towards the river to check if Jeff was there. They walked through the mud only to find a piece of paper stuck on the trunk of the tree.

It was a poem for Nadine, all she read was the title and she began to lose control again and sobbed. Bart took the paper and read it aloud, “Farewell, Nadine” he said and Maureen stopped him. Bart folded the piece of paper and placed it inside Nadine’s bag. They all walked back towards the campus comforting her along the way. Nadine didn’t want to leave the campus but it was already dark. Fritz was already there so she gave in and they went home.

Two days after, Anya was ready to go on her Spring Break trip but she decided to stop by the campus and take a last peek at the river. She walked towards the barbed wires and she saw a pair of legs with muddy shoes. She could not tell who it was because the upper body was hidden by the huge trunk of the tree. “Jeff! Is that you?!” she yelled but the body didn’t move.

“Jeff it’s me Anya! Are you okay Jeff?!” she again shouted but there was no response. Anya could not do anything and she even got her hand cut by the barbed wires. Her driver stepped out to help but he too got wounded by the wires. “Is there another way around madam?” the driver asked. “Yes but we have no time for that, can we cut open this fence?” she asked and the driver got back in the car. “Madam please wait for me, I will be back as fast as I can” he said and the car sped off. Anya was worried because the body under the tree was not moving. “Jeff! If you can hear me please move your legs” she yelled but still he wasn’t moving.

Minutes later her driver returned with a huge wire cutter. They got inside and ran towards the tree. Anya fell on her knees as she cuddled Jeff in her arms. He was full of mud all over his body, he looked very weak. “Jeff! What happened to you?” she asked but the driver carried Jeff and they ran back to the car. “We have to take you to the hospital” Anya said as Jeff was lying on her lap. “No…I’m fine…I’m just hungry” he whispered so Anya instructed the driver to head back home.

“How many days have you not eaten?” Anya asked and Jeff just smiled at her. “You still can smile after this?” she asked and he looked at her. “Because I’m tired of crying and having pity on myself” he replied and she almost broke down into tears. “Don’t worry I will take care of you. I will give you a bath and feed you” Anya said just to keep her tears in check.

As soon as they got to her house Anya helped Jeff to the bathroom and started to undress him. “Hey, I said I was hungry and not horny” he told her and she laughed. “You look dirty and you smell I am going to give you a bath” Anya said. “You’re going to see me naked” Jeff said and she looked at him. “Well you’re right, so you bath yourself” she said and she stepped out of the bathroom. Five minutes later she went back inside to check on him, she saw Jeff seated on the tiled floor naked. His head was looking towards the shower head and the hot water hitting his face.

“Jeff what are you doing?” Anya asked. “Hiding my tears…can you distinguish my tears from the water Anya?” he replied. “Bathe yourself now, you might get sick if you stay wet too long” Anya told him. “Maybe later…I feel too weak to move right now” he whispered. Anya took off her clothes and got inside and started bathing him. “Jeff, the other day we went to your spot but you weren’t there, where did you go?” she asked. “I was there…I saw you four…you just didn’t look hard enough…but I was there” he answered. “It was getting dark but honestly there was no one there” she told him. “I was…lying on the mud…I fainted…I tried to get up but I fell back down…I felt too weak so I laid there. I heard you all talking, I was there in the mud…probably where I belong” he said.

Anya embraced him as she could hear him sobbing, “What did I do wrong Anya? Why is it so hard to please people like you? I thought she loved me…then why could she not believe in me? She said I was worst than Tony…am I? She called me a liar when Tony was the one lying. Is it because I am dirt poor that she cannot trust me? I did my best to please her Anya you know that, but why did this happen?” Jeff emoted as he continued sobbing. All Anya could do was embrace him tighter and cry with him.

“Hey Anya are you crying?” Jeff asked. “Yes but you can’t distinguish the tears from the water” she replied. Jeff leaned his head backwards and he was able to see Anya’s face, “The water isn’t hitting you, I can see your tears” he told her and she smiled. “Jeff were you trying to kill yourself by staving?” she asked and he shook his head.

“I went to withdraw from my ATM, my mom sends me food money. The machine said that my account was suspended. I asked the bank but they called the police because someone reported my card stolen. They took me to the precinct for they did not believe me that I was the real owner. They had to wait for the University to open to verify who I was. I got locked up, at least I got to sleep on a bed. When I was released the bank said they needed twenty four hours to get my account back online, I couldn’t even withdraw from the counter” he recalled.

“Why didn’t you come to me?” Anya asked and Jeff bowed his head. “I was ashamed…you have already done so much to help me. So with the loose change I had left I just bought some sweets and candy…I decided to just sleep it off and go back to the bank the next day but I just was too weak to move so I slept again but I was calling out for her. She never came…she never heard me…but you did” he said softly.

“Hey Anya” Jeff said. “What is it Jeff?” she asked. “Breasts are soft” he stated, Anya’s breast were pressing against his back, she knew he was stating a fact since he said so innocently. Anya laughed and hugged him tighter; Jeff giggled and shook his head. “Anya, you better stop that its causing major blood rush to one of my organs” he joked and they laughed together. “That is a natural reaction” she stated and again Jeff giggled. “Yeah I know I’ve been having the same thing for twelve days when I had to wash your cars” Jeff said and Anya laughed louder.

“It’s your fault actually for wearing skimpy outfits and watching me. You know I could have cleaned two cars in a day but I was trying to hide the tent that was forming in my pants half of the time” he joked and the more Anya burst in laughter.

“How are you able to make me laugh after all that you have been through?” Anya asked and turned around and looked at her. “Because this is the only way I can repay you for your kindness” he said softly and Anya smiled at him. Jeff moved his face closer to her chest and Anya froze trembled. Jeff sniffed her and then faced front again, “Anya you smell nice…do you think you can make me smell nice too?” he said. Anya could not believe what just happened, they were both naked and he could have done worse but it was clear he didn’t have any malicious intentions. She just laughed and started to massage his hair to get the mud out while Jeff just sat there enjoying himself.

After the bathe Jeff had no clothes to wear since almost all the contents of his bag were soiled and muddy. Anya lent him a bathrobe and they proceeded to the dining area where a festive treat awaited them. “Anya are you sure it’s okay for me to be here? You’re parents might get mad” Jeff said as he sat down in front of the table. “My parents are never home, they are just here for the holidays. So basically it’s just me” she said. “I see, hey Anya I am so hungry I might not eat according to your proper dining etiquette so please forgive me” Jeff said and Anya laughed. “I don’t mind, would you like me to teach you?” she asked. Jeff looked at all the food on the table and smiled at her, “Can you teach me some other time, right now I just want to eat. Don’t worry I know how to use the fork and spoon” he said. Anya burst out in laughter as she watched Jeff eat to his heart’s delight.

“Ei Anya do you have any male clothes I can borrow?” Jeff said as he finished eating. “Why?” she asked. “Well I need to go to the bank and find a place to stay” he said. “You are not going anywhere, you will stay here” Anya replied and Jeff looked at her. “I cant do that, I need to go find work and I don’t want to bother you. I know you were supposed to go on a vacation. Maybe you can go later once I leave” he told her.

“No, I am not going anymore. You stay here, don’t worry about anything” she said and Jeff bowed his head. “Hey you know what you’re too bossy that’s why people don’t like you. You better tone down a little so they won’t be scared of you. How will they ever know that you are a wonderful person when the first impression they have of you is someone scary” he commented.

Usually when given criticism Anya would get angry but this time she was flattered, “Jeff you can stay here as long as you like” she said and Jeff smiled at her. “Okay, see it’s that easy and you should also smile often. You are pretty but you are prettier when you smile” he told her. Anya blushed and smiled at him, just months ago she disliked the man in front of her but this time everything was about to change.