what if the words in a book could take you to another place - literally?
Secret
CHAPTER
16
Chapter Sixteen ~ Tasmin
Tasmin didn’t really know what to do for the rest of the night.
She tried to follow Natalie’s lead. She acted as her shadow, smiling at anyone Natalie said “hi” to, walking wherever Nat wandered off to. To be honest, she didn’t really know what she was doing. She knew the names of a lot of the people at the party, but wasn’t sure whether any of them knew that she even existed. Tasmin wasn’t the kind of person who piped up and introduced herself.
After a while of walking around and nibbling at various kinds of party foods, Tasmin decided that she needed to get some fresh air. The upbeat music was suddenly getting very annoying and the bright, colourful lights seemed to be hurting her eyes. She felt herself yawn.
Natalie had been talking to a group of girls from her chemistry class for at least twenty minutes now. They all had either unnatural-coloured hair, or hair streaked in colours like blue, pink and green, and were wearing shoes that were so high in the heels their ankles looked as if they would snap at any moment. The girls were dressed in clothing that looked as if they were showing as much skin as possible. Tasmin cringed.
She tapped Nat on the shoulder. Her friend spun around.
“I’m just going to go to the bathroom, okay? I’ll be right back.” Tasmin told her.
Natalie nodded, smiled, and then turned around and continued chatting.
Ashton’s house was huge.
She didn’t actually need to go to the bathroom, but even if she did, Tasmin thought that she would probably get lost on her way.
She walked down a packed hallway to what looked to be some kind of lounge. There were only a few people in there, and Tasmin felt as if she could finally breathe. All of a sudden, she spotted a door to her right. Maybe it was a bathroom. Her throat was getting a bit dry, and a drink of water sounded nice. Tasmin hadn’t wanted to drink anything from the tables of food, just to stay safe. The door was slightly ajar, so Tasmin walked over and opened it up.
It was not, in fact, a bathroom, but a set of stairs leading down into the darkness. A basement, Tasmin thought.
She felt around for a light switch. There was a rope hanging from the ceiling, and she pulled it. A small light bulb began to glow from above her head, and she could only just see the bottom of the staircase.
As she walked down the stairs, she began to worry about Natalie. What if she got into some sort of trouble? It would mess up her entire plan. Her trail of thought began to lead, once again, to what would happen if Tasmin didn’t succeed. “Stop thinking like that, Tasmin,” she warned herself. “You are going to stop the car crash. Keep thinking positive.”
At the bottom of the stairs was a door, with a knob that was just slightly loose. Once she opened the door, she could see that a light was on inside.
It was a large-ish room, with a treadmill, exercise ball, weights, and other machinery that belonged in a gym in one corner, and a couch with a blanket that seemed to be thrown over a bunch of cushions in another. There were about half a dozen cardboard boxes stacked on top of each other on one side of the room, and a small T.V. with two video game consoles set in front of it. The room looked as if it hadn’t been used in a while.
Tasmin looked over to the couch in the corner. Her eyelids seemed to grow heavier. She didn’t know why she was so tired. Were you even supposed to get tired, even if you weren’t in the real world? She yawned, and stretched her arms. It didn’t matter. She was exhausted.
She walked over to the couch and sat down on the blanket, which had been thrown over what seemed to be a pile of cushions, putting her feet up with her. Suddenly, the blanket jumped up. Tasmin uttered a cry of surprise. The blanket, which seemed to have come alive, threw her off the couch. She landed on the floor with a loud thud.
“Wha - what?” Tasmin turned around, facing the couch.
A boy was sitting bolt upright on the blanket, staring at her. He had a book in one hand, and a look of astonishment on his face. Tasmin realised that the blanket hadn’t been thrown over a pile of cushions - it had been thrown over him.
“I’m so sorry,” Tasmin said, standing up. “I didn’t realise you were in here. I thought...”
“It’s okay,” the boy said, grinning. “You just scared me. It’s not every day a pretty girl comes and sits right on top of you.”
Tasmin blinked twice. She didn’t know which was more shocking - that the boy wasn’t shouting at her in anger and calling her an imbecile, or that he had just called her pretty.
“I’m Ethan,” he said, holding out his hand.
“Tasmin,” she replied, shaking it. She scanned the boy. He was wearing skinny jeans with white converse, as well as an undone, button-up, checked, collared shirt with the sleeves rolled up thrown over a white T-shirt. He had sandy blonde hair that had that just-got-out-of-bed look, which just complimented his flawless complexion, which was topped off with a pair of large, black glasses. Tasmin realised her mouth was hanging open, and quickly shut it. “I’m sorry for sitting on you.”
Ethan laughed and sat back down on the couch. After a moment’s silence, he quickly said: “You can sit here if you want.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to get back to your reading? I honestly don’t mind if you want to be alone. I should be getting back anyways - ”
“No, no, Tasmin it’s fine. Come on, sit back down. I promise I won’t push you off again.” Ethan insisted, with another smile.
Tasmin obliged, and sat down next to him. She kicked off her boots, and brought her knees up to her chin, wrapping her hands around them. She looked at Ethan, who was still holding his book. “Is it a good book?”
He shrugged. “It’s all right.”
“What’s it about?”
“Dragons, knights in shining armour, beautiful princesses, palaces, magic - that kind of stuff,” he said.
“Ah, you mean like a fantasy novel,” Tasmin said, nodding. “I love those. They make you...travel into another world that’s entirely different from your own.” She blushed. You weren’t meant to say dorky stuff like that in front of cute boys.
“I’ve never really found them that interesting, actually,” Ethan said, frowning. “I like books that talk about this world. It’s much more interesting.”
Tasmin tried to understand what he meant by that, creating a long pause in the conversation. She cleared her throat. “This is a weird place to be reading a book, isn’t it?”
He shrugged. “I’ve never really liked parties. It’s all too...I dunno - stuffy. So many people in one place, doing lots of stupid things. I came down here ‘cause I needed some...fresh air.”
Tasmin stared at him, shocked. He had just stated exactly what was on her mind.
“Are...are you a friend of Ashton’s? I don’t mean to be rude but...do you go to our school? I’ve never really seen you around, so sorry if you do...”
Ethan waved his hand in the air. “No, I don’t go to your school, don’t worry. I’m not really a friend of his, just a...passers by, I guess.”
“I don’t really like parties, either,” Tasmin said. “I mean, it’s not like I’ve been to an awful lot of them. This one is the wildest I’ve been to by far. I’m just so awkward, I guess. I know almost everyone’s name who’s here, because it’s pretty easy to memorise faces and match them with names at my school, but I don’t even know if anyone here knows I exist.”
“I’m sure that’s not true,” Ethan told her. “You seem like the kind of person who stands out like a rose in a garden of weeds.”
Tasmin felt her cheeks burning. “Are you...here with anyone?”
The boy shook his head. “No, I’m not. I don’t know anyone here, either. That’s part of the reason why I’m down here.”
“I wish I wasn’t such an introvert,” Tasmin sighed. “I’m just shy, and “wild” isn’t really my style. Parties just aren’t my thing.”
“I feel you. I’m that kind of person that seems really shy and introverted when you first meet them, but once I get to know someone I’m an entirely different person. I’m just awkward around everyone except my friends.”
“I wish that was the case with me. You see - everybody’s first impression of me is that I’m shy and quiet and all of that stuff. But even after you get to know me...I’m still the same person. I mean, I wish I could say that on the outside I’m shy and introverted, but really I’m a fun person who has been kissed before, loves parties and knows all the tricks in the book - but, to be completely honest, my outside is equivalent to my inside.”
“You’ve never been kissed before?” Ethan raised an eyebrow.
Tasmin laughed. “Is that the only thing you took out of that long, deep speech I just made?”
This time it was Ethan’s turn to laugh. “No, it’s not. You know - you don’t have to be an extrovert to be a fun person. And most certainly not a fun person who has been kissed before.”
Tasmin looked at him. Her heart skipped a beat, and suddenly she felt like she had to say something.
“Well...it must be easy for you.” She said.
“What must be?”
“Kissing.”
“Why would kissing be easy for me?” Ethan grinned.
“Because you’re a guy.”
“And what difference would that make?”
“It makes all the difference in the world! I mean, isn’t it so much simpler when you get to decide when to kiss a girl?”
“That’s so stereotypical, Taz. Girls can kiss a boy whenever they like. They don’t need a guy to decide that.”
Tasmin smiled. “Actually, you might be right. It’s probably a much better kiss when the girl starts it.”
“Hey, hey - I never said that. Kisses where the boy starts are always better.” The boy argued.
“That’s not true.”
“Yes, it is. Besides, how would you know? You don’t have any experience.“ He laughed.
“I don’t need experience to judge that.”
“You know what? Kisses are better when the boy starts it, and I’ll prove it.”
By the time Ethan’s lips were pressed against hers, Tasmin didn’t even have time to come up with a rebuttal. In fact, she didn’t need to, because he had made his point - the kiss was better than anything she had ever imagined. There was nothing, just his hand on her cheek, and her lips against his.
Ethan pulled away slowly, and Tasmin opened her eyes. She hadn’t even realised they were closed.
“See?” he said. “I would say ‘I told you so,’ but I don’t want to ruin the moment.”
Tasmin just smiled.
As the three girls walked out of the house and up the front steps, Tasmin could hear Thalia rambling on about her night with Ashton Harvey. Apparently they had talked for at least two hours, and by the end of it, Thalia had given him a kiss on the cheek, and he hadn’t objected. Thalia had walked out of the party with a smile on her face and Ashton’s number in her phone.
“What about you, Tasmin?” Natalie asked. “You look pretty darn happy tonight...what exactly happened after you left to go to the - what was it again? Oh yeah - bathroom?”
Tasmin laughed. “I...made a new friend,” she said.
Natalie and Thalia pestered her for the entire car ride home about the gender of this new “friend” Tasmin had made. But Tasmin didn’t give them any details. She was too busy reliving the kiss over, and over again.
Tasmin felt her eyelids drooping as soon as she walked into her bedroom door. Her last thought before collapsing on her bed was that if her plan didn’t work, Ethan won’t even know who she is.
And then she woke up.
She was sitting at her desk.

Keep Reading

Chapter 17

Chapter Seventeen ~ Leylina

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