Chapter 59: The Sidekick and Stargazing
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‘Her intentions were shortsighted but They weren’t bad on purpose. MC needs to give her a second chance!’

‘Whether it was her intention or not, Erika bullied him and has kept secrets from him twice now. I don’t get how some of you can be so forgiving…’

‘The girl learns from one mistake only to repeatedly make another. How utterly clueless. I’m leaning toward forgiveness since she isn’t a horrible person. She’s just an idiot. (Something I can relate to since I also used to be an idiot in high school lol)’

‘Drop her!’

‘It’s tough because I really like both of them. I think MC should wait to see if Erika reaches out and tries to mend the relationship. If she doesn’t, it’s obvious he needs to let her go. If she does, it’ll still be difficult because that trust is gone and forgiveness isn’t gained in a single day, but maybe there’s still a chance they can talk it out and slowly build it again. I hope there is.’

There were more comments buried underneath these on my web novel, but I didn’t care to dig any deeper. This was the most comments I had ever received on a chapter; that did little to lighten my mood.

I rolled out of bed, careful to avoid knocking off my suit and dress pants hanging over the edge. Those would have to be hung up soon. Otherwise, my mom was going to throw a fit. My feet hit the wooden floor, and I threw on a random pair of pants and a shirt from my closet before trudging down the stairs. I was intent on distracting myself by mindlessly watching some tv until I had to meet up with Nora later.

My sister met me at the bottom of the stairs, tapping a package in her hands against the railing. When she noticed me, her hands went still and she held the wrapped package out to me. “I forgot her name, but that girl shoved this in our mailbox. Told me to make sure you got it.”

“You shouldn’t be talking to strangers, Bonnie.”

“She wasn’t a stranger. She’s the one who bought me that giant starfish.”

Rika? She was the one who dropped this thing off? I accepted the package from my sister, thanking her as an afterthought. Rolling it over in my hands, I couldn’t help but notice how crumpled up the brown paper was, stuck together with bundles of scotch tape. In her typical fashion, there was no indication of who it was for or who sent it. Had my sister not been there to talk to her, I would’ve been much more cautious about opening this monstrosity.

Ripping into the package, some of the brown wrapping fell to the stairs, pieces of tape not far behind. I held the glasses case in my hand, and absentmindedly, I began to clean up the mess I made. Bonnie poked at the black case before ripping it out of my hand and unzipping it. A pair of glasses sat proudly in the center, the folded arms overlaying the red felt. “Why’d she get you that? Eyes going bad in your old age?”

I flicked her forehead. “Course not, squirt. I’m as young and fit as ever.”

She smacked at my hand in retaliation. “Why then?”

I could only continue to stare at the glasses, the memory of us in the mall flooding back.

"I think you'd look dashing in them."

The way she pushed them on me and giggled when I put them on. How embarrassed I was when she sent that embarrassing photo. How I continued trying to ignore her at school, yet her persistence won out in the end. Eventually, she became someone so important to me, that it was hard to imagine her not being a part of my life.

I exhaled deeply, taking the glasses from my sister's open palm. Her attempt at an apology was by no means perfect, and I was still pissed, but it was a start.

I ruffled my sister's hair, much to her displeasure. “Dunno. She must like buying our family gifts or something.”

____________

The cool breeze caressed my face, making me wish I had brought my scarf. Instead, I contented myself with Nora's hand on my arm, her hot breath on the side of my neck. I shuffled a bit, splaying the edge of the blanket, but focused my attention upward. Above us, the stars twinkled, a clear sky allowing them to shine brighter than usual. Not to be outdone, the moon stood bold, casting a pale light over us and the hill we were on.

We had driven out toward the lake after dinner, settling on a place close to where the fireworks display had taken place. It turned out to be a perfect spot, having a nice view of the stars and no one else around. Though, that probably had more to do with the fact that it was Sunday night than anything else.

I leaned into Nora, my back to the warm body behind me. She rested her head on my shoulder, her hair tickling my skin. I sighed softly, closing my eyes, relishing the feel of Nora pressing up against me. She spoke, her voice gentle and almost hushed. "I had no idea you liked stargazing."

"Well, I figured it was only natural we'd go from star-crossed lovers to lovers under the stars."

It was quiet for a moment, only the sound of our breathing and a car passing by interrupting the silence. Then her raucous laughter interrupted it. "Honestly, I don't even know what to make of you anymore. From gloomy to one of the smoothest talkers I know."

"Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"

She grabbed my hand and placed it against her sternum. Her hand kept mine pinned down, and I could feel her racing pulse. "You tell me."

I could feel myself blush, pulling away. "You're just as bad as me."

"I guess that makes us perfect for each other."

Once again silence fell over us, but my own heart was hammering in my chest. Doubt was creeping into my mind, but I had to do this. It would be fine; there was no reason for her to say no. I just needed to ask. I turned to her, my hands clasped and voice quivering. "Nora–"

"Zachary–"

"Go ahead," I said.

She toyed with the ends of her hair and nodded. "How about on the count of three we say what we wanted to?"

Taking a deep breath, I waited for her countdown.

"3..."

I swallowed a lump in my throat.

"2..."

It was now or never.

"1..."

"Will you go out with me?"

I could only sit there in stunned silence. The last thing I ever imagined was her asking me the same exact thing. Although, I guess I should have expected nothing less from her. She was the one brave enough to put herself out there the first time. Why would it be any different now?

Nora was also the first one to respond. "Of course, Zach."

"I promise I'll be good to you."

She sealed my lips with her own, kissing me softly, then leaning back. "You already are."

We locked lips again, and I greedily leaned into her; the stars could wait until later.

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