Chapter 7

Do you how it feels like when you sip in an aromatic coffee and realize that there is no sugar in it at all? That was almost the way I felt when I walked into the cafeteria along with Hunter. If not for the fact that I was almost at my wit's end that he was holding my hand and was leading me into the cafeteria, it was the stares and gasps we received that ticked me off. This was official. Almost the entire female population hated me right now and there was no way that I could undo it. No way.

It all started with Hunter's decision of suddenly and abruptly being nice to me and bringing me back to the guys. I was suspecting Thomas as the main reason, but you can never trust Hunter. He was the most unpredictable guy that I had ever seen. On top of letting me sit with him and the others and let me ogle at him as much as I want, (I'm sure that he didn't agree for the latter but it is okay to assume), he was also willing to forgo Ray's dislike towards me and entertain me as an equal along with the others.

The moment when he held my hand and began dragging me out of the class room he pulled me into, I was sure that rumors began to spread. He didn't let go of my hand even once and didn't pay attention to all the murmurs which were happening beside us. People seemed to automatically give him way to walk by and he just did without thinking twice. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy that short span of bliss, but then, the consequences were nagging in the back of my mind. I didn't want my life to become a Mean Girls' sequel.

As soon as we walked to the table that the guys usually sat on, I spotted the person whom I didn't want to come to face. It wasn't Ray. I saw him everyday even though I didn't want to. It was the person who was sitting beside Ray looking like the perfect match to him. Long brown locks flowed down her shoulders to her waist, a small frame, shorter than me, and all the cute features which one could never find in me. All in all, she made me feel guilty about marrying him even though it was unknowingly.

There was another girl sitting beside her looking as pretty as her, but my sole concentration was on the way she was sticking herself to Ray in an elegant way, which seemed a little too hard to achieve in reality. How could someone stick to someone else in an elegant way? Ray was distracted from his girl as soon as we arrived and stiffened when he saw me there and even more when he saw Hunter hold my hand. I felt like as if I were watching something which was forbidden for me to see. I knew that Ray had a girlfriend all too well. I knew that he was serious about her. I one day even caught a glimpse of her in his phone, but then why was I feeling so suffocated when I finally got to see them in reality?

A partial reason of why I began to make new friends and accept their lunch invitations was because unknowingly I heard Thomas talk about Ray's girlfriend's arrival from a trip. I didn't know why I did that myself, but I felt like my time with him came to an end when I heard that his girl was back. Somehow the feeling of me being an intrusion planted itself into my mind and before I knew it, I began avoiding them altogether.

Now that I was there and was seeing everything in reality, it felt all too different. As soon as Ray's eyes landed on our joined hands, an unfamiliar instinct took over me and I shrugged off Hunter's hand off mine as if it staying there would become something bad.

"I was just leaving," I forced a smile and tried turning back, but Hunter held my hand again and pulled me to his side.

"You aren't leaving anywhere. You are sitting with us," he said with an air of finality and made me sit beside him. Ray's girl and her friend gaped at us, but I could let them slide because I had a difficulty in trying to pull myself together when I was stuck so close to Hunter.

"Who is she?" Ray's girl asked with her honey sweet voice as she looked at me.

"Just a nobody," I said and turned to Hunter, "let me go?"

"Hey! Little Angel!" Dylan bellowed and Thomas jogged behind him.

"Angela! I thought you ran off somewhere yet again!" Thomas cried. "Ah, thank God that you are back again! I missed you so much all these days that you were gone! There was no fun at the table at all!"

"Come on, stop it," I forced a smile towards Thomas.

"Tommy, you never said something this sweet to me ever!" Ray's girl gave him a once over.

"Uh, he was just exaggerating," I looked at Ray and saw his still stiffened face. "I should really take my leave now."

"No, sit down. If you are their friend, then you are mine too-"

You wouldn't say that once you know that I am married to your boyfriend.

"- by the way, I am Marilyn Buxom, Ray's girlfriend and she is Beatrice Brooks, my friend. And you are?"

"I am Angela Juliet Marlow, Thomas' classmate. Nice to meet you."

"Is it so? Then how come I have never seen you before?" She questioned me and I fidgeted a little more.

"I transferred here recently," my eyes met Ray's, "due to a few family issues." Ray looked away and I could swear that he looked a tad bit guilty.

"That's okay. Let's be good friends from now on, okay?" She forwarded her hand and in the nervousness of the moment, my hand hit a soft drink bottle and it spilled all over Marilyn.

"Oh my God! I am so sorry!" I apologized and she squealed and got up from there, wiping her now stained white skirt.

"It was a limited edition skirt! What do I do now? It is all spoiled!" She cried. "I don't even have clothes to change into!"

"Why don't we exchange our dresses? I will take yours home and will wash it till the stain goes away!" I offered.

"You really don't expect me to wear that hideous outfit, do you?" She gasped. "You are doing this on purpose, aren't you? To mock me in front of everyone?"

"I- Really- What?" I looked at her bewildered. Wasn't she being nice to me just a moment ago? What came down to bite her ass?

"I knew it!" She screamed and ran away with her friend in tow. The entire cafeteria stared at me in silence, as if I had done a great crime.

"I didn't-" I looked at Thomas and Dylan. "I really didn't mean to do that."

Ray sighed and walked out of the cafeteria, the same way that Marilyn went. Hunter just shrugged and sat down, taking a slice of pizza which was left on the table. "This is still edible," he said as he chewed on, "wanna try some?" Thomas and Dylan joined Hunter silently and began checking their phones. "You should sit down as well," he said glancing at me.

I looked all around me and saw stares from every corner. "I'd rather be away from this place," I shuddered. "I will go and apologize to her now."

"That wasn't really your fault," Dylan said. "You can sit down and have something here."

"But still, whatever happened was because of me. I should just go and apologize once. Even Ray looked quite pissed at me. I should apologize to him as well."

"Don't try so hard, Angela. You don't have to go and apologize to anyone. She was just over reacting, by the way," Hunter said and pulled me down to a chair.

"Well, no shit there," I mumbled but Thomas heard it and snickered. Involuntarily a smile crept up on my face and I chuckled too. "But then, I need to at least apologize to Ray. He would have felt bad seeing his girlfriend like that."

"He can do without an apology. He's seen this kind of drama way too many times to feel anything."

"Why are you being like this to your friend?" I asked Hunter. "Why did you even pull me out here? I could have just sat somewhere far away from here and have avoided this scene!"

"Why should you sit far away?" He asked calmly. "Do you forget your first friends so easily?"

I was taken aback by his question. I never really expected Hunter to say these words to me. Ever. He considered me a friend after a long time and I had a feeling that I should work hard to protect that. I gaped at him for a while until he sighed and rolled his eyes.

"I'm sorry," I blinked. "I didn't mean for you to think that way."

Hunter smiled, "I thought so too."

When we were done with our lunch, probably feeling a stronger bond with Hunter, I ran into Marilyn again. She was with a bunch of girls who were looking way too dazzling and glittery. I forced myself to not act blinded and went close to her. She was in another dress, which looked too much like another limited edition, with her entire make up redone. One could never suspect that a scene like that took place in the cafeteria.

"Marilyn?" I called and the entire bunch turned towards me looking like predators. I mentally shrunk back by the sheer force of their stares, but managed to stand where I was.

"Oh, it is you. Feeling happy that you ruined my day?" She asked with a sneer on her face.

I liked Dylan's sister better than her.

"I'm really sorry about what happened earlier. That was purely unintentional and I hope you can forgive me. In fact, I will even get your dress cleaned so that you don't feel bad about it anymore."

"You will get my dress cleaned?" She laughed humorlessly. "You think you can afford that?"

"What I am trying to say is-"

"Don't try to act so nice with me. I am not like the guys to fall for that innocent facade. So, whom are you trying for?"

"What?" I asked incredulously.

"Tell me honestly. You should have liked someone in the group, that is why you are here acting like the damsel in distress. So, who is it? Hunter? Thomas? Dylan?" She asked with a straight face. "Don't even think about Ray, because he is already mine."

When I didn't reply, Beatrice, the girl who was with Marilyn earlier, piped up. "Surely it is Hunter? I saw you guys holding hands and all."

The other girls with them gasped.

"He held her hand?" A girl gaped in disgust.

I sighed. This was getting way too boring. Hearing the same thing over and over made Hunter feel diseased, not wanted. What was with him holding a person's hand? It is not like he has some kind of skin disease!

"Yeah, yeah. He held my hand. You have a problem with that?" I asked, utterly annoyed. I didn't wanna come across these kinds of girls ever. This was worse than getting married to that good for nothing Ray. I thought he had better taste at selecting his girlfriend. But it goes as they say- Love is blind.

Definitely blind.

More like senseless, in his case.

"Look at how she is talking!" Beatrice gawked at me.

"You better learn how to give respect, girl. Remember that you are still a junior," Marilyn growled right in front of my face. It kind of stunk like salad, but I chose to ignore it, being the bigger person that I always am.

I took a step back and smiled, "my bad for not realizing that you don't know what respect is. Thanks for letting me know, anyway. Toodles!" I waved and started walking away from there. As I walked, I came across Ray, who stopped right in front of me as he saw the bitch troop behind me, all throwing glares like sharp daggers.

He narrowed his eyes and asked, "what happened here? Why are you all gathered here looking like this?"

I turned back to see what kind of an explanation Marilyn would give, but was shocked to see her. Her expression took a complete 180. She looked so shy and demure; the perfect example of a maiden with grace. All the sneers and growls were gone and were replaced with smiles and blushes. I gaped at them with my mouth open wide, not believing that this much change could happen in a mere second.

"I kind of forgave her for her mistake earlier today," she lied with her sickly sweet voice. "You know that I can't hold grudges against people whom you are friends with, right?"

I regretted not being able to give a tight slap across her lying face. It pissed me off even more when he slightly smiled at her and diffused the situation by going along with her. All in all, where we were finally in the car and were on the way home, it got harder to control my temper.

"You really think that I did it intentionally?" I asked him as we parked in front of our house.

"Whatever it is, I think that it is good that she finally forgave you in such a short span of time," he shrugged and opened the lock of the house.

"Forgave me? So you do think that it was my fault!" I yelled. I didn't like being pointed at when I did no wrong.

"I don't care about whose fault that is," replied Ray. "All I care right now is, don't make too much of trouble when you are around us. I really wouldn't appreciate it if you got into Marilyn's way."

"Really?" I looked at his sarcastically. "Ever thought about the consequences where she is the one who would get in my way?"

He chuckled, "are you in your right mind? Why in the world would she want to get in your way when she has plenty of other things to keep her occupied?"

"I'm just saying," I shrugged and them mumbled, "she must be jealous of me, after all."

"You said something-" And the door bell cut him off.

Almost three weeks of undisturbed house life was finally cut off and we were currently in the state of panic. I ran to the closed door and looked through the peep hole. It was Marilyn and the other guys. They looked too cheery to my utter distress and I ran towards Ray and clung onto him as if he was my only hope.

"They are here! All of them are here!" I cried, clinging onto his coat.

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