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Chapter 38

From the outside of Mike’s restaurant, Ariel was nonchalantly walking about, until she turned into the restaurant and whipped the door wide open. Her hunt for Mike had just begun, but too bad that the only person in the restaurant at that time of night was Joe.

“Hey?” Ariel asked Joe, but only got a cold look. “What are you doing here?”

“What does it look like?” Joe responded unemotionally.

“Where’s Mike?” she asked, twirling her body to and fro. “I thought he’d be working tonight.”

“I sent him home,” he said as he busied himself by wiping off some crumbs off a table.

“You sent him home!” she said in disbelief. “Why would you do that?!”

It probably was just stress, but Joe was in no mood to explain anything tonight. He had already used up all his energy from convincing Mike to leave work for his own sake and well being. Apparently, Mike has divulged his entire life into the restaurant.

“He was overworking, so I sent him home,” Joe lowly answered, with a hint of annoyance in his words, before taking a seat.

Truthfully, Joe couldn’t stand looking at Ariel anymore… because right after, he’d be thinking of kissing her. Before, even the time when he gave his coat and umbrella, he had been fine with their friendship. But the more he thought about it, the more nervous he became. Now, as she stood in front of him, his heart began to palpitate faster and harder, making him want to throw up. Damn it, why did she have to be so perfect for him?

“I really needed to talk to him about Rainie, though,” she pouted before taking a seat by him. “We need to think up of a plan to get them back together!”

Unfortunately all Joe ever heard was the word “together” besides looking at her curvy red lips pucker into a deep pout. Oh God, Joe thought. She really shouldn’t have pouted at him…that was one of his weak spots. He rolled his eyes up to the ceiling as if he was asking God why he made her so damn cute. And the fact that she was now sitting so close to him…what’s next, have her pulling his arm in a weak and vulnerable manner?

“Help me think of something, Joe!” she huffed, as she pulled his arm.

“OH GOD!” he yelled to the sky with a bit of sorrow in his eyes, before slamming his face onto the table.

Taken aback by his strange behavior Ariel kept going. “Fine, you don’t have to think, geez. So lazy! Are you Ok?”

“I’m fine, just needed my head to be bashed in,” he answered lowly.

“Perhaps we need to get them to anonymously meet together,” she thought out loud. “Oh, we’ll say we’re going out together alone, but then secretly have them…”

“Please stop talking…” he muttered lowly as his head still faced the table.

Even the sound of her voice hitting the air was sending shivers down his spine.

“Hey…” she firmly poked his arm. “No need to be this rude. If you want some ice for your head, all you had to do was ask.”

“Just, please stop talking…” he garbled under his straining breath.

“OH!” she yelled out loud.

“ARIEL!” he sighed.

“I’m sorry, but I have to tell you,” she said excitedly pulling his arm.

Why God, he asked to himself? Just shoot him now and get it over with.

“I still have your coat and umbrella,” she suddenly said.

Quickly he sat up with furrowed eyebrows. Did this mean she kept it?

“I haven’t cleaned it yet, so just wait a while before I give it back,” she replied sweetly.

What does that mean, he thought to himself. Did this mean she wanted to keep it longer so she could have something of his for her very own? Was she holding onto it whenever she felt like snuggling up with something warm at night? Or was it because she thought he doesn’t wash his own things so she needs to do it for him…

“OH GOD!” he repeated before slamming his head back down on the table. “I’m turning into MIKE!”

“It’s ok,” she comforted him by patting him on the back a couple times. “Even though I don’t know what you’re talking about or, thinking of, I can tell that you’re going crazy.”

“You have no idea…” he mustered.

“Ugh,” she sighed. “If only Mike and Rainie could have been together forever. They were so perfect for each other. Now I wonder if anyone could find true love.”

“Uh-huh,” he mumbled.

“Well, it’s not like it can happen to us,” she abruptly mentioned.

Snapping out of his fantasy world, Joe sat right back up again with the same expression he had last time.

“What?” he said frankly. “You mean, ‘me and you’ or…”

“I meant individually, of course! Please,” she scoffed. “We’re way too close. It be like you dating Mike! Well if Mike ever turned into a girl, that is.”

Suddenly Joe felt the twinge of his heart slowly dissipate. Perhaps she was right; maybe his feelings are just for a friend, not a lover. Besides, for him to start a relationship with her would certainly be forbidden by Mike. She’s Rainie’s best friend which loosely meant she was public enemy number one. If he went out with her…he’d go to hell for sure! Feelings for Ariel: 70%.

“I mean we fight more than any normal couple, and we haven’t even begun dating!” she laughed. “If there was a chance between us, we’d probably kill each other before nightfall.”

That’s right, Joe thought. They were just close friends and his feelings are perhaps just a stupid little crush developing out of friendship; it happens all the time when you spent so much time with another person. And, she was right about them fighting a lot and bickering. Their relationship would never work. As he nodded in agreement, his heart became less and less attached to her. Feelings for Ariel: 40%.

“And seriously, whoever gets to be your next girlfriend has got to be insane! To go for someone like you? I’d have to be strapped down to a rock and glued down with cement!” she laughed harder.

Total feelings for Ariel: 0%.

“OK!” he suddenly said getting out of his chair. “You can leave now!”

“Oh, c’mon!” she giggled, walking towards him, hoping that she wasn’t too harsh. “I was only joking.”

“Well, if anyone ever becomes your boyfriend, assuming that he is human and alive, I’d be surprised if he lived to his next birthday before committing suicide,” he said bluntly.

“HEY!” she screamed, taking offense. “Lucky I won’t ever become your girlfriend or my head would explode every time your mouth opens.”

“Ha! Like that would ever stop me in my pursuit to make your head explode!” he joked with a smirk.

“See…” she smiled a bit. “I told you we bicker too much. Just like good friends would.”

“Yeah,” he nodded with a smile of his own. “Friends; I can live with that.”

“Good, now help me with this Mike and Rainie situation!” she begged. “C’mon I really need your help!”

And at that very moment, where she opened her eyes wide like a little baby and pouted so hard, Joe felt his heart explode to a million pieces. She pulled on his arm and waved it back and forth with ease.

Total feelings for Ariel: OH GOD!

“I’m so going to hell for this,” he muttered aloud before doing the unthinkable.

Swiftly, Joe grabbed Ariel by the lower back and arms and swung her around to dip her body low before pressing his lips onto hers. As he continued to kiss her, his body went numb and he had to use all his strength to lift her back up to end it.

“WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT!” she screamed right after, with bulged eyes.

OK, perhaps he shouldn’t have acted so impulsively. He really was turning into Mike. Joe tried to explain himself as fast as possible but his limbs went weak and his mouth dried up quickly. It was time to let the cat out of the bag; finally he would be able to say his true feelings.

“I want to commit suicide!” he suddenly spat out.

“WHAT!!!” she screamed.

“NO! That’s not what I meant! I mean I want to be the guy who commits suicide!” he continued to say.

“What!!!!!” She repeatedly said amidst all the confusion.

“NO! NO! I mean I want to be the guy who commits suicide because of YOU!” he repeated.

“WHAT?????” she screamed even louder.

“I WANT TO BE YOUR BOYFRIEND!” he finally said.

Ariel had the most dumbfounded expression on her face just as he said that.

“Why is it that Mike can do these types of things and get away with it and I can’t!” he childishly said. “You think I like being the uptight, reasonable one who likes to think practically? I can’t help it! I like math! I like things straightforward and steady. But how come I can’t act crazy for once in my life! I want to be able to jump off a building once or twice in my life. I want to be able to kiss the girl that I like out of complete idiotic reasons! I WANT TO BE THE CUTE ONE!”

The whole time he was nonsensically babbling, Ariel couldn’t help but laugh at his antics. To think that this whole time he was the same man who first treated her so roughly and with no sympathy, it just blew her mind that he wanted to be adorable for once.

“Um…I…” she began to say in fits of laughter.

“Are-Are you laughing? YOU ARE! You’re laughing at me!” he shouted at her.

“I’m…so sorry,” she giggled, as she covered her mouth from fully busting. “Really, really I am, but this is just TOO SWEET!”

“WHAT!?” Joe screamed. “This isn’t funny!”

“Ok, ok,” she said, composing herself, biting her lip, breathing heavily and trying not to look at him.

“HAHAHAHAHAH!”

“I take it back,” he said quickly. “Forget it; I don’t want to be your boyfriend anymore.”

“Wait, wait a minute,” she said grabbing onto his arm before he left. “I’m sorry; I promise I’ll stop laughing.”

“Forget it, miss laughs-a-lot!” he mocked her. “There’s nothing you can say to make me like you again. I’m completely over you!”

“I stopped!” she smiled with a hint of laughter in her lips. “How can you like me one second and not like me so suddenly? C’mon stop being such a baby!”

“I am not a baby, I am a grown man!” he bellyached. “Nothing you can say will make me like you again!”

He headed for the door to lead her out and left her standing alone in the middle of the restaurant with her arms folded and smiling like a fool.

“You’re cute,” she said sweetly. He stopped in his tracks and turned around with a small frown. “You’re adorable!”

“Out,” he continued to frown, as he pointed outside the door.

“Make me!” she giggled.

“You think I won’t make you…” he threatened as he ran towards her.

As they playfully chase after one another, Ariel and Joe could feel the calm night air breaking out of its silence to hear the humor and romance running around inside the brightly lit restaurant.

 

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