Do best friends really come before boys?
Stolen Heart
CHAPTER
22
The real story behind this mask
The doorway is unlatched to Adonis. Immediately after I spot his face, my self-assurance is killed. His hair is exemplary,supposing that is the correct word to describe it. His face is....wait? Shy?
“Hi.” I breathe out, managing to throw a smile in.
“Hey...” Adonis rejoins, gazing at me with utmost attention for..what seemed like a lifetime. I gawk back, with discomfiture. He took no notice, persisting in gazing at my hair and face. On the verge of clearing my throat, Adonis shakes his head, meeting reality.
“Come in.” he welcomes, throwing the door wider to allow me inside.
“Everyone’s out shopping for ingredients for tonight’s dinner. Apparently, my Dad and Mum are planning something special to eat.” Adonis raises his on fleek eyebrow in sarcastic amusement.
“I’m sure they’ll be back soon.” I slip off my black Huaraches,following Adonis to our daily assignment area.
We take our seats at the table within awkward silence.
“OK....shall we begin?” I propound,setting out all our work on the table. He nods in confirmation and we begin in quiet. Habitually, the two of us hold a civil conversation on life at school,life with friends and life,in general terms.So far today, it is not the case. Neither of us say anything. Comm’on Dominique, break the awkward silence.
“So...” We both say in unison. We briefly laugh before he invites me to speak.
“What exactly are your parents cooking tonight?” I ask with a smile.
“I’m guessing lasagna as we are low on ingredients for that. We make lasagna a little differently to the traditional way.” he notifies me. I slowly nod.
“How is the project,on your part, coming together?” I put forward in attempt to establish a conversation.
“Coming together well.” he replies. I simper,slightly.
“When is this due for again?” he asks.
“Tomorrow. But there’s nothing to worry about- it’ll be finished by then.” I assure. He nods .
My hair falls upon my face. This is my cue to prettily sweep my hair in a backward motion.
“Your hair looks different.” he states. Wow(!)I feel so flattered(!)
“Thanks to my hair stylist, Chloe”. I remark.
“How did she do it this time? Took you to a hairdresser blindfolded?” Adonis mocks.
“She may have added some “moisturizing” product into my hair. Perhaps included some highlighting product,of some sort, like the last time, to draw attention to my “blonde” highlights . To cause my hair to thicken and enlarge in volume, you’d have to brush it, so she probably undertook that. And...um yeah.” I expound,to fill the sound silence within the house. He nods, interestingly.
“They should be back any minute now....” he trails off. I nodded once more. For the length of my visit, I am in no doubt that I have nodded ten times in one conversation.
“I won’t be able to stay for dinner. Before I came here, I had eaten. Sorry! If I’d known your parents were arranging a special meal I wouldn’t have eaten before I came along.” I apologize, in detail.
“No worries. At least I can eat it.” he reasons. I bob my head.
“Dominique...basically the lads said....that you like me.Is that true?” Adonis asks,bluntly.I thought he would never ask(!)
I sigh “You must have many queries, concerning what you’ve heard.But Adonis... Can we please fulfill this project first?” I request,focusing my attentiveness back onto work.
“No.” he asserts.
“What did you say?” I venture.
“No. Why are you changing the subject? I just asked you a question,can you answer please(?)” Adonis declares in a disrespectful intonation.
“Why are you asking when our project is currently incomplete? This Science project is due TOMORROW and if we do not receive the recommended grade required, it has a dramatic effect on our groupings for the rest of the school year,college admissions,university applications and admissions. Is that seriously what you want?!”I counter back.
“I.DON’T REALLY CARE.” Adonis spells out.
“I have the feeling you don’t. In fact, you don’t seem to take any interest in your education, whatsoever.This is for your future too!” I harshly affirm.
“Yeah,that’s right goody-two shoes,I don’t care about my education. Why should I? It’s People like you, get to all the places you want and gifted everything you need,ANYWAY. This school doesn’t even cater for dropouts like me. SO don’t even worry about it, I won’t get anywhere in life. But you don’t care about that. You only care about me dragging you down with me-“
“What?! That is ludicrous! Of course I care! If I didn’t,why am I sitting here, exerting my efforts in this project if I didn’t care about you succeeding? You’re not dragging me down,Adonis. You are a bright kid... you just don’t perceive it. Also, I would like to address where you’re wrong. It’s people such as YOURSELF who snatch up our spots in society,people who have a voice ,stand up for what they have confidence in. I understand the whole school dropout system because...” I trail off,gingerly.
“Because of what?” he snaps, face tempered.
“It’s...complicated. I can’t explain myself right now. “ I aver,eyeing extensively around the room.
“Ah JUST...tell me the truth. Do you like me like that?” Adonis exhorts.
“Why are you asking?!” I ask,uncomfortably.
“Apparently,Chloe was asking questions about me as well. Why?” Adonis pressures.
“I don’t know. Why haven’t you asked her that?” I avow with assertion.
“In fact, why is she asking questions...not to me but to ENZO?!” he repeats.
“ I have to go.” I imply, diving for my bag,hurtling to the door. I was impulsive. The aggregate of sitting in the room, Adonis interrogating me for an answer,felt excessively unbearable. I couldn’t bring myself to confessing “Yes I do,Adonis”. I suffered the feeling of being powerless in managing the situation. My usual pacific poise vanished, replaced with heavy anguish . Close to unlocking the door,Adonis seizes hold of my wrist,jerking me backwards. This concluded in him and I being surprisingly close, his face glowering down at me. I gulped.
“You’re not going anywhere until you tell me the truth.” he growls.
He’s close behind me in order to avoid me going on the run.We take the chairs at the table,yet again. I clutch a piece of the task to sidetrack myself from his eyes.
“Now...tell me what happened.” he demands.
“Adonis...all she asked was what was your last school, acceptable for her because those who are new to the school tend to be asked the question-”
“Yeah but she didn’t ask ME, she ask my man, Enzo.” he interrupts.
“So?” I shrug.
“Yeah, to me it seems she’s been on the q about me to other people. If someone was doing that to you, would that be right?” he questions. He has a point but what am I even supposed to say? It’s not like I told her to ask questions.
“What does it matter to YOU, if she’s gossiping about you? In fact, I fail to apprehend to moral of the conversation so I’m moving aside from the topic.” I vindicate.
“I don’t care if she’s gossiping about me. I’m just saying it’s not even her business to be asking personal questions. I don’t even know her like that and she’s chatting to MY boys,asking them questions,without my consent?” He shakes his head.
“OK. Your point is...?” I defend Chloe.
“Tell your friend she best not be sticking her nose up in my business again or I’ll contact my gang and get them to raid her house.” Adonis asserts.
“Also, what is this business about you liking me?Adonis states, confidently.
“Nothing...” I trail off.
“No seriously, is what Enzo tells me true? Do you truly like me?” he checks. I don’t know what else I could say.
“I can’t say.” I gulp, my cheeks prickling in temperature.
“Why not?” he contends.
“ I think we all got confused. I didn’t mean I liked you in THAT way.” I lie.
“So you’re saying that they’re lying?” he conjectures.
“No. I’m not-”
“So you did say it?” He interjects.
“I’m not saying that either. I’m saying everyone was confused by the circumstances.”
“Apparently it wasn’t just them that heard you say that. The whole class practically did.” Adonis ventures.
“Well they heard wrong.” I fabricate. Oh gosh. Dominique, I just deceived everyone .
“So you don’t like man like that?” he assures. I’m not lying anymore.
“Are you complete with those set of uncut papers? Can we talk about this later-”
“No. If you know me, you’ll know that I don’t like playing games and I like people being upfront with me. If Enzo and bloods are lying to me, I truly need to know. I don’t like my trust betrayed as I’ve been through _ _ _ _ you can’t even relate to -”
“I do understand!” I burst out. “I’m like you.”
“Did you just say I like you or I’m LIKE YOU?” Adonis asks.
“I have endured what it is like under pressure with popularity and gangs because I was a part of that life.” I admit.
“You know Jordan’s gang,right?The Tears?” I question.
He nods “Yeah. How do you know Jordan and his gang name?” I raise my eyebrow.
“Because I used to be a part of his gang.”
“You? NOO WAY! No. I actually don’t believe you.” Adonis shakes his head in incredulity.
“ I was. All of this happened in primary. My dad ,mother and I previously live in a smaller house,downsized to ours now, in Strongmill. Life was salutary; my parents were faring well, a younger sibling on the way. The majority of articles within our life,at that point, were running smoothly. This was up until my dad had a affair with a Antigen woman. Typical man,he was. I could not grasp the concept of what he did as matters with mum were decent,so I anticipated . They undertook a divorce,so and so, when I was 5, my life was revolving. I grew indignant and resentful at first towards my parents because they ruined my life. Slowly but surely, my emotions had slipped into school,causing me to go off the rails,at 5. Throwing chairs about,picking fights-I thrived to be brutal and savage.I shouted at teachers, kicked my teaching assistant,actually. From then on, I had no respect for authority and I didn’t care who I hurt as long as they felt my pain. As late as when they did, I didn’t stop. With my mum frequently being called in,I spent weeks in classrooms for “time outs” and at some point I received a detention at 5 which is actually absurd. I was near exclusion till Year 2 came around. I carried on disregarding authority and pupils. One day, I’d been out on the street as my mum had asked me to buy some milk from down the road,a distance of two minutes without crossing a road. I did,encountering a bloke who yelled a racist remark ,directed to ME because I’m mixed race. I mustn’t mention his words as they were immensely foul. I recognized him and he’d seen my mum before,yet he proclaimed a racist comment.For that reason, I fought him-punched him kicked him,swore at him(I picked up swearing from my dad)beating him with the milk!” I take a moment to laugh,prior to recounting the story:
“When I’m complete , this guy ends up with a bloody nose and black eye.By the time anyone spots him, I’m out of the shop,bumping into Jordan. At the time,Jordan must’ve been 10,going on 13 and I was 6.Supposedly, I may have deceived him as older. He expounded what he saw me do, complimenting me. He declared we are ought to meet the following day outside the same shop. Being the naiive 6 year old I am, I turn up-”
“Weren’t you scared?” Adonis interrupted.
“No.Even if he was intending to kidnap me, I were not feeble,regardless of my age. I could fight him as well. So we meet; he asked me to shoplift an item from a shop which I successfully did. Impressed by my work, he took me on board and I became part of the gang.He considered me as older than my actual age, allowed me to listen to their roadman music, to swear -I laughed with his scary,older friends,making jokes-I was only 7,by the way and back then, I didn’t find them intimidating at all. As of then, my mum came to the realization that she lost me. My mum tried and tried to retrieve hold of that daughter at four who was bright,funny with a beautiful personality. But by then, my conscious was taken for good and I couldn’t escape my gang. If that wasn’t extreme enough, I even consumed alcohol and smoked unlawful drugs. I had no friends at school so they was no one apart from my mum and dad,attempting to steer me in the right direction. It’s not that my family on my parents’ side lacked in concern;it’s more like there were other issues amongst themselves. I was throwing away my future,being in gangland. I was extremely young,east to manipulate- Jordan knew that. Nonetheless, other gang members including Ackel,Achachi and Caneek were frightened I would snitch them up. I of course never did. Eventually, due to my very frequent absences and my attitude, the school excluded me,right before Year 2 SATs. I skipped the SATs and continued life as a gangster.This stopped in Year 4 at my new school, locally. Chloe had attended my new school and the one thing she mentioned to me caused me to desire serious improvement on my life. Her words were..._you’re angry_ .Yeah I know, how can saying two words modify a person altogether? Personally, it had been the way it was said which influenced me...” I rake my hand through my hair in an act of feelings. Particularizing the story, recalled evocations of the past. “I was choleric.Chloe was right. I had been angry at the world for placing me in such a bunkum situation. For five days long, I missed school as well as The Tears. I didn’t arrive home either for five days. The local authority were searching for me. I was starving,cold and dirty,close to death. All along I was in the park’s forest, reflecting all my actions and feelings and just...my life. In due course, I gave up hiding and visited a local library to use the computer to contact Jordan via email,clarifying my leave from his gang because I was too frightened to confront him in person. The librarian recognized me from the posters of me and approached me. She was gentle towards me and talking to me with ease,which I’m not used to,being in a gang and all. She was the first person to ever ask me “How do you feel?”. No one has ever asked me that or cared enough to ask because I’m that dropout,ghetto kid that no family wants to associate themselves with. Everyone had low expectations for me. They saw me being the lowest in life because I had a voice. I had the audacity to challenge their authority and push their buttons.They thought I was disruptive and did not have any concern over my education. I say it’s not being disruptive,it’s being productive.” I say,staring into space,disturbed emotionally.
“Anyways, the librarian listened to how I was feeling.She advised methods to cope with my temper.One of which was reading. Reading books which counterbalance my ....intensity. She said she had no option but to call me in...but until the police came to collect me, read a book. During my moment in the library, I searched online for books, correlating with characters with anger troubles and so fourth. Later on,I persuaded my mum to order the book for me which I read. After five days, my mum saw me for the first time and she hugged me so tight I thought I could collapse. I considered the librarian’s advice and begun reading books. I’d read the whole day. No one bothered me. I didn’t undertake any work. All I ever did since then was read. I read when I was angry. I read when I was sad. Every time I felt like answering back to a teacher, I would pull out my book and read,as proof of my self-control. That’s all I did. I quietened down in class, attracted lesser attention towards myself. I switched up my reading to non-fictional books,revision booklets for SATs,GCSE books I saw lying around my house. I read everything. That’s how I became smart. I read too much because I was constantly outraged. I was afraid. I was perturbed. I was suffering and losing control of myself. Books helped me recover...” I tremble. Adonis rests his hand upon my shoulder when I come to the realization that I’m crying.
“During my recovery, my mum gradually worked on ameliorating my education.Following a month of enhancing all the education I missed out , she sent me to take the 11+ exams which surprisingly, I passed. Books helped me so much, I passed the 11+ examination for this school. My plan then was to start afresh. Be good. Have self-control. To continue reading and recovering. I kept on reading until the age of 15,when I discovered this writing club for teens which I used, to write about my sentiments. The teen club leader expressed how mature and comprehensive my writing was,she started entering me into competitions and so fourth.This resulted in my decision to take English Lit for A-Levels which I now deeply regret. To equalize my self-control with my age,I moved to studying. I study a fair amount daily for the goodness of my composure and close attention to school life as I do not wish to put my mum through the same thing again,especially since I’m older now. It’ll tear her in two. I know it will. I never used to care about my education and where I’d get in life. That had been my lowest point in my life. It’s when you care about something...” I trail off.
“You realise then how much it means to you and how much you need it.”
“Wow.” Adonis exhales, his face aroused by my story.” I would’ve never expected that kind of life from you at such a young age.” He explicates.
“FIVE YEARS OLD?Oh my gosh!” He gasps, clasping his hand to his mouth.
“Bad gyal turn good!” He jokes. I laugh.
“Adonis...you’re the first person I have ever spoken to about this since it all happened.” I say,staring intensely into his jungle eyes in affliction from the story.
“Come here.” he says, luring me into a hug. Then I realize, I’m hugging Adonis. The one and only Adonis and I’m hugging him!
“It’s okay now, you’re better now.” He soothes me. I embrace and savor the hug while it remains.
“Right.” I put forward, dropping out of the hug, “ Are we also complete with the project or would you like me to stay longer to help you finish the ending outcome?”.
“Oh yeah! If you don’t mind.” he accepts, briefly rubbing his hand on my back, in comfort.
“Would you mind if I use your bathroom?” I ask.
“Sure,go straight down and it’s on the left.” He nods.
I make it to the bathroom, noticing washed off mascara on my face. I clean this up,striving to beautify myself. I cried in front of Adonis.From then on, I begin to register my feelings for him. Fortuitously while narrating my life story, I sensed I could place my trust with him,without motive. On the other hand,perhaps he was freaked out and baffled as to why I would divulge my life story to him. Honestly, I’m here for a project. That’s what I came here to do and I’m leaving here with that intention achieved. I flush the toilet in pretense and wash my hands.
“Could you hold where my hands are please?I just need to glue this tab down.” Adonis requests. For a split second, my hand comes into contact with his. At that moment,our eyes meet. I slide mine away with a friendly grin. He glues down the tab.
“There’s a few more tabs which need gluing before the bear model cell diagram is achieved!”
“Finally!!” I sigh.
“How do you..er find this school so far?” I ask him, holding together four tabs with one finger while he applies glue.
“It’s super strict. A quarter of the things I could get away with at my old school I cannot get away with it here. The sanctions at this school is surprisingly harsh.” he comments. I laugh.
“The workload is a great deal,can you agree?”
“Yeah!”
“A-Levels set work is beyond endurance?” I remark.
“Yes, for real!” he agrees
“Even in YR7, I couldn’t even occasionally misbehave because it was all so intense.” I express. he nods.
“So...are you going on the trip tomorrow?” I question, in thought. Yes,I like where this conversation is going.
“What trip?” he asks in confusion.
“The day trip to the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.” I respond.
“Oh. Is it a History club trip or something?” he dismisses, addressing himself to the edges that require glue.
“No. It’s a compulsory trip,organized by the Science department. It’s tomorrow, you know.” I explicate.
“Tomorrow? Oh. No one told me about this and anyways I don’t even care. I don’t do school trips.” Adonis rebuffs.
“You don’t do school trips? “I repeat.
“Yeah.”he disregards
“I anticipate Enzo and the others will attend, though.” I retort.
“Oh. Well...I don’t have a slip so...?” he trails off in ignorance.
“I have one!” I propound,presenting Adonis with the permission slip, derived from my bag.
“It’s free, so price shouldn’t be a concern. I expect we are leaving school at 9. Yeah... You should come...” I trail off, a grin glides onto my face.
“I rather pass.” he dismisses,passing the slip back to me.
“No, go! Enzo presumably want you there for street cred and unless you do not go...in all probability, you’ll receive an hour detention, as our school IS overly-strict.” I over-exaggerate.
“Just because I don’t want to come on some dead trip?This school’s so extra!” Adonis groans.
“Don’t care,anyway. I’ll get my mum to talk to the school on the phone.” he determines,laying back in his eat. He fixates the final tab into place!
“Although, won’t the school just tell your mum that the trip is COMPULSORY?” I counter.
“I’ll tell my mum you have to pay to go.” he counteracts.
“Alright then. Whatever you settle on is none of my business. In case you change your mind, the slip is here.” I encourage,resting the slip of paper on the table.
“Oh! Is the presentation settled?” I note to Adonis.
“Only one way to find out.” he regards,logging back onto this laptop
“How was your old school?” I blurt out.
“Um...ok? That was random.” he remarks,furrowing his brows,baffled.
“I was contemplating back to what you said about how a quarter of the things you did at your old school, you won’t even get away with at Bridgend.”I unfold.
“So...what did you do at your old school?” I interrogate.
“Um...GCSEs?” he frowns.
“You know I didn’t mean it like that.” I rejoin.
“Nothing much. Basically did the same thing here,there.” he replies.
“Oh. Did you like it there?”
“Yes. My life was at that school. It wasn’t my first secondary school,actually but it was the one that felt closest to family.” Adonis reflects.
“Oh so how come you left?”I challenge.
“It’s a long story.” Adonis relieves himself.
“Tell me.” I insist. Will I conclusively hear the answers Chloe has convinced me to search for?
“Erm,actually the presentation isn’t complete.” he verifies.I sigh aloud. The presentation took us into the middle of evening. By then, him and I were virtually enervated. At this point, I predominantly wished to learn about Adonis’s previous time at Abelene,succeeding in heading home and giving way to my bed.
“Adonis...” I begin “What I told you today, I would prefer if you kept it among yourself...” I adjure.
“Yes,sure. You’re better now,right?” he validates me, resting a assuring hand upon my shoulder. I nod. But secretly,I’m not. At that moment,the door is opened to the apprehension of Adonis’s parents and Cyrena.
“Adonis...” his mum utters a sentence in Greek,Adonis answers back in Greek. Adonis’s mum enters the living space with bags of shopping.
“Would you like me to help with that?” I propose.
“Dominique!” she exclaimed in her Greek accent.
“Hello,hello! How-za are you?” She pronounces. I respond with a simple “I’m alright, and you “, lending his mum with a hand into the kitchen. Being the first time I’ve seen the kitchen,it’s patently humorous how the rooms, and corridors are of Greek-styled designed architecture whilst their kitchens and bathrooms are fabricated in a Caribbean fashion. The kitchen and bathroom are painted a light tropical blue shade,tiled with light blue and ivory white.The floor being Ivory White Indian Slate Tiles. The shelving and cupboards match with the walls, a timeless clock on the feature wall and a substantial fan,in the center of the ceiling. I favor their kitchen more than my own.
“I like your kitchen.” I compliment aloud. Cyrena beamed at me,in appreciation.
“You ACTUALLY took your time!” Adonis postulates.
“You mentioned taking your time but I thought you were joking with me...” Adonis trails off,awkwardly clawing at the back of his hair.
“Why would we be joking?” Adonis’ dad contends, pulling a face at Adonis.
“Right. Who’s hungry?” Adonis mum asked.
“Um,sorry to alter your plans but..I have already eaten elsewhere. Although, if you wouldn’t mind, I could take some food back for home...” I suggest.
“Yes of course. It won’t take too long if you all step in,including you Dominique.” Adonis’ mum proclaims. With all my remaining vitality I assisted Cyrena with creating the pastry for the lasagna,in the corner of the kitchen while Adonis was conjuring up the sauce over the top,Adonis’ mum was making the mince to go inside and his father was aiding everyone by cleaning up our mess,gathering needed ingredients and so fourth. Meanwhile, I held a conversation with his sister...
T0 be continued

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Chapter 23

Can I look back if I’m so far ahead?

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