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Chapter 28

“…Is it sunup already?” Joe said straining to open his eyes. “Ariel, wake up.”

It was morning and Ariel and Joe had just woken up after a night of sleeping beside Mike’s door. After everything that had happened yesterday, the brief moment between the reality and the dream had never been sweeter.

“mmm…” Ariel drowsily said, with her eyes still shut tight. “Five more minutes.”

“C’mon,” he said nudging her arm. “I’ll carry you to bed if you’re still tired.”

“No, I’ll wake up, I’ll wake up,” she mused as she snuggled closer to his arm.

“I meant now,” he said with a yawn.

“You’re even sleepier than I am,” she repeated softly, hugging his arm like a doll. “Let’s not move for a few more minutes.”

“Is your nose feeling better?” he asked, remembering that she had previously hit her nose on the bath faucet the night before.

“Hmm?” she hummed silently going back to sleep.

“Let me see your nose,” he said lifting her chin, slightly, with a finger. “It doesn’t look too bad. I doubt anything is broken. Oh and I forgot, I got something for the pain when I picked up Rainie.”

“Rainie?” she asked, still drowsy.

“Yeah,” he nodded.

“RAINIE!” she screamed suddenly.

Quickly Ariel sprung up from the ground and started pounding on the door. She suddenly roared into reality and realized that they were blocking the doorway the whole night…which means Rainie and Mike were locked in the room- THE WHOLE NIGHT!

“RAINIE!!!” Ariel screamed. “Rainie! Are you alright?”

“Hmm,” hummed Rainie from the other side of the door.

Slowly the door creaked open and Rainie appeared disheveled and still asleep. She had on oversized pajamas and was rubbing her eyes pretty callously, desperately trying to see who was talking to her.

“What happened?” Rainie whispered with a smile.

“What’s with the noise?” mustered a very drowsy Mike, who placed his chin on top of Rainie’s shoulder.

“YOU!” Ariel angrily said to Mike, ignoring Rainie. “You ought to be ashamed!”

“Ashamed?” he inquired deeply. “I’ve never been ashamed of anything in my life.”

“You had a girl in your room the whole night, UNSUPERVISED!” Ariel argued.

“Hey!” Rainie scolded Ariel. “This is my boyfriend you’re yelling at, mind you. We have every right to be in a room all night unsupervised. Besides, we weren’t doing anything.”

“Nothing?” chimed Joe from behind Ariel. “You didn’t tap that?”

“JOE!” Ariel yelled in pure shock of his reaction.

“I’m sorry, Ariel, but it’s too early to think straight and ask appropriate questions!” Joe whined. “Besides, aren’t you at least a bit interested to know?”

“NO!” Ariel screamed.

“Hush little Suzy, and let mommy and daddy talk for a second,” he said to Ariel, quickly pushing her aside and going straight to Mike. “So like nothing happened?”

Mike shook his head lightly with a sincere expression plastered on his face.

Joe asked again, “Really?”

“Really,” Mike answered. “We just got tired after talking a bit and confessing some stuff…”

“Wait, wait a second,” Joe interrupted. “What did you say? Confessing?”

“Oh Rainie and I both said we loved each other,” Mike beamed.

Joe held his shock to himself before he asked another question.

“Did you say it first or her?” Joe said, probing for more answers.

“She said it first,” Mike replied, pointing at Rainie.

“Ok we’re good then,” Joe sighed, patting his hand onto his chest. “As long as she said it first, it’s ok.”

“Why is it ok as long as she said it first?” Ariel seriously asked, discontinuing their conversation.

“Jesus! Were you always behind me?” Joe asked, startled by the daunting tone in Ariel’s voice.

“What did you mean by that, Mr. Cheng?” she asked sternly, ignoring his fright.

“Nothing,” Joe quickly muttered as he shook his head back and forth.

“You’re gonna regret saying anything,” Ariel answered back in a threatening tone.

“I didn’t say anything!” Joe defended.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Ariel grumbled under her breath.

Quickly she took Rainie’s arm and dragged her into the bathroom.

“Hey!” Rainie screamed. “Where are we going?”

“We need to talk.”

Stiffly, Ariel locked the door behind her and turned around to see Rainie still a bit unconscious and sleepy. Ariel was the only one in the house who was feeling any emotion at this time as everyone was just dead tired and lethargic. She still had a number of things that roamed her mind continuously and one of them was Rainie and her friendship. Were they no longer best friends like Rainie said before?

“What did you want to talk about?” Rainie asked with a small smile.

“Are…are you…” Ariel muttered in between her fright.

“Am I what?” Rainie asked again, rubbing her head with a free hand.

“Are you still my best friend?” Ariel asked softly.

“WHAT!?” Rainie screamed, straining to hear what Ariel said.

“I asked,” Ariel began, a bit stunned at Rainie’s sudden outburst. “Are you still my best friend?”

“Yeah,” Rainie said, furrowing her brow and nodding her head as she thought carefully. “Why do you ask?”

“Why do I ask?” Ariel repeated with a scoff. “You tell me! You’re the one who ran into Mike’s bedroom after crying to me that we weren’t friends anymore.”

“When did I say that?” Rainie asked out of pure ignorance.

“Geez, did Mike drug you or something, what’s wrong with you?” Ariel said bitterly.

“OH!!!!” I remember,” Rainie said, jumping up and down from excitement. “Sorry Ariel, everything sort of ran out of my memory of yesterday except for the bit where I was in Mike’s room.”

“PLEASE,” Ariel waved her hands from side to side. “No details…”

“Well…I’m sooo sorry for anything I said to you. I was upset because…”

“Because?” Ariel asked, gesturing for more information. “Don’t stop now, you just regained consciousness.”

“Because…” Rainie repeated hesitantly. “Now don’t get mad Ariel.”

“Why would I be mad?” Ariel asked with a frown.

“See! You’re mad!” Rainie said pointing at her frown.

“I’m not mad! I’m confused. Very, very confused,” Ariel replied.

“Well,” Rainie answered nervously. “You remember that I said I was getting married?”

“Yeah?” Ariel nodded.

“I’m supposed to marry Peter,” Rainie said slowly and calmly.

And like a boulder dropping on a pea, Ariel’s heart dug deep into the pit of her stomach.

“Peter?” Ariel asked softly.

“Are you mad?” Rainie asked wincing at what Ariel would answer.

“Do I look mad?” Ariel answered back with the exact same expression she had on previously.

“I don’t know, I can’t tell,” Rainie responded. “You look like you just had some really bad asparagus.”

In fact, Ariel’s soul was dying little by little. She couldn’t hate her best friend for being forced to marry the man whom she loved for so long. It was fate that was being unfair. Gradually, Ariel’s shaking palm reached her mouth and her knees gave way to the floor.

“Ariel!” Rainie yelled back as she barely caught her best friend’s drop. “Oh don’t cry, don’t cry. After all those times he hurt you, you still cry this badly for him.”

Of course, after hearing that, Ariel only cried harder and louder.

“Oh, geez,” Rainie sighed. “It’s not like I’m GOING to marry him!”

“But…” Ariel sputtered weakly. “You have to.”

“No, I don’t,” Rainie responded, shaking her head. “I am not marrying him.”

Ariel took herself off the floor and stared at Rainie in astonishment.

“What are you saying?” Ariel softly asked.

“I’m saying,” Rainie began, as she took Ariel’s hand into hers. “I’m telling my father the truth about me and Mike. I’m going to be with the man I love and my father is surely going to accept Mike. I mean, who wouldn’t? He’s so cute!”

“Are you crazy?” Ariel screamed, shaking her best friend from the shoulders. “He’d never approve!”

“If not, then he can go marry Peter himself, because I’m not” Rainie said with a shrug. “It’ll all come together in the end.”

Rainie patted Ariel on the shoulder and led her outside the restroom where the two boys were still talking about the night before.

“So, nothing?!?” Joe inquired again.

“Oh hey ladies,” Mike smiled, as Rainie and Ariel got out of the bathroom. “Everything ok?”

“Everything is fine,” Rainie answered as she wrapped her arms around him. “But I’m still sleepy.”

“How about you, Ariel? Still mad at me for keeping Rainie in my room?” he shyly asked.

“No, I trust you,” she responded with a small smile.

“Let’s go back to sleep,” Rainie pouted to him.

“K,” he replied back.

As they headed back to the room, the door shut behind them leaving Joe with a solemn Ariel. Gently, he rubbed her shoulder to snap her back to reality.

“Are you Ok?” he asked.

“She’s marrying Peter,” she scoffed.

Quickly, Joe busted into fits of snickers and giggles.

“Peter?” he repeated, in between his laughter. “OH dang! That sucks for you!”

“Are you…you are laughing at me!” she screamed.

“This…this is…it’s too much!!” Joe laughed, as he held his stomach and waved his hand from side to side.

“Thanks, for your sympathy. It’s nice to see you laughing at me,” she said sarcastically.

“C’mon you have to admit, it’s funny,” he chuckled.

“I’m not laughing,” she said, shaking her head lightly.

“You’re best friend is marrying you’re ex boyfriend!” Joe laughed. “That’s funny!”

“It’s not…it’s not funny,” she replied trying not to laugh, with a small smile etching off her face. “Stop laughing at me!”

“It’s just so sad!” he said right before busting out in a hysterical laughter. “It’s too sad!!”

Ariel started biting her lip to hold in her laughter, but she couldn’t keep it in. Slowly, but surely, she was able to find hilarity within her sadness. Perhaps because Joe was making light of such a situation fueled her, but she couldn’t help but chuckle along with him. Something that was so beyond her imagination had occurred and yes…it was hilarious!

“See you’re laughing,” he smiled at her. “It’s too unbelievable not to find it funny.”

“Shut up,” she joked with a smile and pout, as she finishing up her chuckle.

 

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