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   Chapter 13 Even the Sun has Secrets

Cuddle Application By Anna Rae Characters: 16737

Updated: 2018-01-10 14:34


"Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain't going away."

~Elvis Presley

~~~

The empty coke cup makes a tsss-tsss noise as I drink out of the straw, pulling at liquid that's no longer in the cup. Oliver pops a fry in his mouth, nonchalant, but I'm not about to take my chances with those devil potatoes after what happened last time.

I shift in my seat at the picnic table, tapping my fingernails on the painted wood.

Oliver still isn't speaking.

I huff and pull at the straw. It makes a sttt-saw noise as I push and pull it in and out of the cap.

"So, " I begin slowly. "Who did you say Neck was, again?"

I pull at the strap of my romper, not sure of what to do with my hands.

Oliver grabs a few more fries. "Kid from boarding school. I'd hardly call him a friend. Got in all sorts of trouble."

I try to remember the conversation from before and pick out my questions. "Is he the reason you transferred to Helaci in - what year was it?"

"Beginning of sophomore year, " he says, not meeting my eyes during the entire conversation. "So over two years ago."

Neck's face pops into my memory again. The way he smirked at me as Oliver dragged me away. I didn't exactly get warm and fuzzy feelings from the guy.

"Hmm, " I murmur, questions popping into my head from all directions. "He seemed like a pretty hard core guy."

Oliver looks at me, leaning back in his seat to study me with his eyes. He blinks. I copy. His demeanor has changed from mysterious and nonchalant to careful and inquiring.

"You know, " he starts slowly, "there's quite a few things you don't know about me."

I cock my head. "Obviously. I just realized you existed a few weeks ago."

I spin the coke cup in my hands. The ice knocks against itself inside.

He laughs. "I mean, there's things that no one really knows."

He pushes the carton of fries to the side and puts both elbows on the table, cracking the knuckles of both hands

"Not even your friends?" I ask, eyebrows rising slightly. I'm trying to sound vaguely uninterested, like I don't really care but am just engaging in small talk, but really I want to knock his head against the table until all the memories come out so I can find out exactly what he doesn't want me to.

"I don't really have friends, " Oliver replies.

My face contorts. "Of course you do. You're like the star quarterback or something."

He smirks like I'm some sort of joke. I frown. A kid in the distance screams as he's hauled down an incline by a cart that's barely connected to the tracks, and I'm reminded of where we are. The fact that we're sitting in the middle of the carnival rides instead of actually riding them.

"What do you call the people you hang out with, then?" I ask.

He thinks for a moment, scratching his chin. There's a little bit of stubble. "My audience."

My eyebrows shoot up this time, not even taking their time to climb up my forehead. "Audience? Sounds a little conceded, doesn't it? Perhaps a bit full of yourself?"

He smirks, a half smile. "Not in the slightest." I give him a look. He sighs. "I, Oliver Manning, am merely putting on a show. They watch as a prance around, a character with lines, and they're mesmerized, too sucked into the show they barely realize the storyline isn't real."

And now he's lost me. My face looks as upside down and contorted as the clown's face on the poster taped to the wall of the Bumper Cars.

He reads my face and laughs. "I told you, there's things you don't know about me. Now would you like to sit and ask questions or keep riding more rides?"

He seems thoroughly done with the conversation, and it's clear Neck is no longer a topic on the calendar of events.

"That depends, " I say. "Will you answer the questions?"

A breeze blows his messy hair back and it feels like we're not surrounded by the entire town's population. It feels like there's just a boy and a girl, talking.

"No I will not, " Oliver finally says, standing to his feet.

"So, " I respond, grabbing the cup and leftover fries and heading to the trash can, "Merry-Go-Round or the Twister?"

?♀??

I wiggle my toes and the green blades of grass tickle my bare feet. Patchy clouds tumble under the sun, a slow motion strobe light of bright and dim, warm and cool. There's the faint sound of the waterfall to the north, and I breathe in the smell of fresh air.

"So, you didn't kiss?"

I fall onto my back in the grass and watch Cora pace across the rocks. "No, Cor, we did not kiss."

Lina plops down next to me and sections off a part of my hair, beginning to braid it.

"That's stupid, " Cora groans. "We followed you around the whole time and didn't see a single juicy scene." She stops at the highest boulder, and turns to Lina and I, accusatory finger pointed straight at me. "You know how many other things I could have been doing today? You know how many guys wanted to take me to the fair?"

Lina laughs and the braids her red hair's been weaved

a doorframe, the brass knob digging into my lower back.

The boy started to kiss me, and I could taste the alcohol on his lips just like the alcohol that was shielding my mind.

His hand started to go up my shirt, and the coldness of his fingers shocked my brain. I realized what was happening, and I didn't want it.

"N-no, " I stammered out, but my tongue was slow and tired and didn't want to work. I tried to push against his chest, but he took it as a sign I wanted more. He started kissing down my neck. "No, " I tried again. "Stop."

But he wouldn't. I felt him reach behind me and turn the doorknob. My eyes widened and I met the stare of another guy down the hallway. His eyes were the most captivating emerald color, and his messy, dark hair fell to his shoulders. I got caught staring at him for a moment until I felt the door behind me push back. The boy kissing my neck was pushing me in.

Panic pushed it's way into my veins and pumped itself through my body. "Help, " I managed to say to the dark haired boy before I was enclosed by the darkness of the room.

I don't remember what happened next, but the dark haired boy appeared in front of me, and then I was in the passenger seat of my car and he was buckling the seatbelt for me. And then I was in my driveway, and he got out of the driver's seat, came around the side of the car, and walked me to the door. I fumbled with the set of keys in my pocket, dropped them, and he picked them up. I swayed and he put an arm under mine to support me.

"What's your name, " I think I muttered drunkenly.

He stuck a key into the lock and opened the front door. "Oliver."

And then I was in my bed, still in my party clothes, eyes drooping shut.

Oliver.

The memory comes back to me like a repressed dream. How could I have forgotten?

Oliver had been right - I did know him. But it wasn't because he was my brothers best friend, it was because he'd saved me from a night that could have been a lot worse than it was.

I sit up in bed, too quickly, wait for my head to stop spinning, and look at my alarm clock. 3:48 AM. The memory came to me while I was sleeping, and so did the events surrounding it.

So much time was repressed from that year of my life. Molly was sick, my parents walked around like zombies; life didn't feel like a life anymore.

But how could I have forgotten the boy who saved me from my own foolishness?

I pull out my phone, start a new text message, and type in the contact, "Oliver."

I want so much to say something but I didn't know what. The words can't come to me, the letters forgotten.

Who could say he even remembered it? Who could say he even remembered it had been me so long ago?

I delete the message.

I lay back down.

I stare at the ceiling of my bedroom until the sun peeks through the curtains and slowly, bit by bit, lights up the room.

For not the first time, I find myself thinking about Oliver's smile. His eyes slide into my memory, the piercing green color of them, and his lips are a topic I can't seem to get sick of.

And I realize, much too late, that maybe I don't have to think about whether or not I want to be with Oliver. Maybe I've already made the decision.

Maybe, unbeknownst to me, I've already started falling for him.

And maybe, just maybe, I didn't want to stop.

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