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January 5, 2006

They say honesty is the best policy. But if I tell him I have a boyfriend, he’ll stop offering me his seat. And I’m definitely not standing in that crowded bus…

Chapter One

As always, going out of the cinemas has a way of making a person feel momentarily disoriented. Like going from one world to another. Of course, if you would think about it in a figurative way, it is. The movie you watched is one world and real life is another. And like what everybody says, real life is a whole lot more complicated. At least the movie world is scripted and you are merely an observer with nothing to do except sit.

Rachelle Harlow and Nick Cleveland had barely stepped out of the cinemas that Sunday afternoon before they saw someone point a finger toward them and whisper to her friends. If you can still call it a whisper even if you can hear it from eight feet away.

“Oh my, it’s Rachelle Harlow! Her new swimsuit photos are all over the school’s online forums. It must be really nice being tall and skinny. You get to be a model at such a young age,” the shortest girl among them exclaimed. “Who’s the guy with her? I haven’t heard anything about a new boyfriend.”

“Isn’t he Nick Cleveland? Her best friend?” the girl who pointed told her three friends. The others all nodded upon recognizing Nick’s blue eyes, six feet two inches of perfect muscle, rugged features and blond hair that seemed to be highlighted with darker shades depending on the light.

The girls giggled. “Yeah. It could only be him. People say he’s the only guy who can be seen going out with Rachelle Harlow without her kissing him in public,” another girl said, this one taller and a bit thinner than the others.

“You think he’s actually gay?” the short girl said.

“Everyone says so,” this statement from the only red-haired girl in the group. “The boys from the football team told the cheerleaders who told everybody that he’s never got a girlfriend. Can you imagine that? He’s hot, he’s Quarter To Five’s new pianist and he’s one of our school’s top students. How could he not have had a girlfriend? Not even a fling. Nothing at all. One cheerleader even said that when she tried to corner him into a classroom, he ran away.”

“Are you sure?” the girls asked their friend in unison, astonished.

“Uh-huh,” redhead said smiling with a glint in her eyes. “Some people even call them The Homo and The Slut. It would make a good movie title, right?” she finished laughing and the others joined in.

“You good-for-nothing bitches! I’ll ki—ow! What are you doing?” Before she could say anything more and start a very ugly scene, Nick grabbed her wrist and pulled her away from the bigmouthed foursome.

Neither of them spoke while Nick dragged Rachelle out of the mall and across the street towards their favorite hangout. Although, it’s obvious that Rachelle has yet to forget what the two of them heard. She was even struggling to get out of Nick’s grasp just so she can go after those girls who ran off the moment she said ‘You good-for-nothing’.

They arrived at Heartlake City’s Central Park. Nick continued until they were seated at one of the benches located near the man-made lake’s shore, away from most people. He raised his right hand in a gesture that told Rachelle to relax and breathe. At this time of day, the park is usually filled with families of different ethnicities who are now considered Heartlake nationals.

Heartlake City was originally a clump of land located somewhere in the Pacific and was recently discovered by French wine experts, developed by American industrialists and currently inhabited by a mix of Europeans, Americans, Africans, Australians and Asians. If one had wished for the world to be united, a visit to this country, as small as Singapore, would make the idea seem real.

The state got its name from the heart-shaped lake located at the center of the entire land. It was as if the developers decided that the lake would signify peace and love among the world’s different nationalities. Nobody argued the fact that the country attached the word ‘City’ to its name. Everybody thought it would be better than merely calling it ‘Heartlake’.

Its current head-of-state is a French monarch, one of the wine experts who discovered the land. However, the monarchial aspect of their government is more a status symbol that the land is like a small kingdom. In all truth, the state has defied rules (and maybe common sense) by also having an elected president who is the actual and functioning leader of the republic government of Heartlake City. An odd way to govern a young country, but that’s how everyone agreed to do it.

It took Rachelle all of ten seconds to recall these facts from her History class before she stood up and launched her tirade at Nick. “You shouldn’t have dragged me all the way here! Didn’t you see how those girls looked at you? I’m going to punch their noses and pull all their hair out of their heads if I ever see them again. See if I don’t.

“They’re hypocrites, that’s what they are. Not to mention horribly stereotypical. They don’t even deserve to be in the same school as you!” she said, her ears red with anger.

“You forget they called you a slut.” When Rachelle’s face turned red as well, Nick realized too late that he should be trying to calm his best friend instead of making her angry all the more.

“Yes! That! And do you know? The only reason they called me a slut is because the guys they like want to date me instead of them! They know exactly how hot I am that they decided the only way I could have attracted all those guys is because I was out selling myself! Can you imagine that? Me? Sell myself for favors?” Her voice was getting louder and louder with each word that Nick felt the urgent need to make Rachelle relax immediately or they’ll get everybody staring at them.

“Yes, yes. We both know that everything they said about the two of us isn’t true. And that’s what’s important. We don’t even know who they are exactly and I would appreciate it if you’d calm down so I won’t have to cover your mouth while dragging you home later on,” he told her matter-of-factly.

She counted to ten then took a deep breath. “Okay. Sorry for shouting. I wasn’t angry at you.”

“I know that. Anyway, it’s almost time for dinner. Are they expecting you home? Or would you rather we have dinner together?”

Those words, ‘dinner together’, made Rachelle look at her best friend’s face. She sat down and looked straight ahead at the lake.

“Why do you think we never dated?”

Nick’s head suddenly snapped to his right where Rachelle sat. He spoke slowly. “What are you talking about?”

She looked at him wonderingly. “My parents say that every time we’re standing together, we look like an ideal couple.” She turned completely to him and said, “What if we just do what everybody thought we should do and actually go on a real date?” She was getting excited and almost clapped her hands with delight. “We can go out, tell everybody we’re a real couple and all that Homo and Slut issue would stop. It’s a good idea, right? Right?” She was already standing by the time she finished.

“Hold on, Rach. You want to date me?” Nick asked, feeling incredulous.

“Why not? We look good together, we have fun together, and you’re my best friend. If we become a couple, I wouldn’t have the usual problems like another woman or vices because I know you won’t have anything to do with that. And I’m pretty sure you’ll be faithful,” she smiled at him.

A few seconds passed. Of course she wouldn’t date me because she likes me, much less love me.

The two of them have been friends since they were kids. They met right there in Central Park when Rachelle tripped on her feet running after her brother. He was by the shore studying the birds while eating his cotton candy. He helped her get up and walk back to her parents and since then, Rachelle had always treated him like he’s her brother.

They’ve been friends for so long that falling in love with him would probably never occur to her. It shouldn’t have happened to him but he was not able to help it. They were paired up in their biology class and were to dissect a common house lizard when his feelings were revealed to him. She was prying open the lizard’s skin so they could see its internal organs when its arms suddenly moved in a desperate effort to get away. Rachelle shrieked and dropped their lab equipment.

“Aaaaahhh! Nick! It’s still alive! It moved! Nick!” she cried while gripping and shaking Nick’s elbow. Everyone in class stopped what they were doing to check what happened with Rachelle.

“I know what happened, Rach. I was right beside you, remember? Of course it’s still alive. We were instructed to make it sleep, not kill it. And you didn’t have to shout,” she calmed a little but still looked a little shocked. “Unless of course, you want my eardrums shattered,” he finished with a smile.

She smiled in return. And that was the first time he noticed her dimples. His heart started beating loudly. And then, he noticed that her green eyes shine when her dimples show. Louder. When he tried to look away from her eyes, he ended up looking at her dark brown hair and thought how soft it looks. He longed to touch it. He’s not having a heart attack, is he?

And then just as he was about to raise his hand to do just that, he snapped back to reality. Rachelle has already calmed down and the class is starting to go back to order. He looked at his best friend again and decided that he probably imagined what happened to him. Or dismissed the idea that it was probably just a normal reaction of a teenage guy to a teenage girl. A part of growing up.

But he was never really able to shake off his reaction that time and up until now, her smiles could still elicit the same thing from him. He’s in love with his best friend. Her sisterly treatment of him, however, made him wary of the idea of ever telling her. He got used to hiding his feelings not only from her but also from everybody else.

And now, she’s telling him to go on a date with her.

“No. I don’t think that’s a good idea. You said it yourself. We’re best friends. And unless we’re in love with each other, and I don’t think that’s the case, becoming a real couple will only complicate things.” He looked away and pretended to study the birds creating ripples in the water. It wouldn’t be good if she sees any hint of his true feelings in his eyes. “Besides, I refuse to be your tenth ex-boyfriend,” he said with a smile but with finality.

She sighed. “I guess if we’re actually destined for each other, we should have dated long ago,” she laughed. “Okay, forget that dating idea. It really was stupid. Come on. I’m hungry and my family knows I’m with you. They expect you to feed me.” She pulled Nick up so they could start walking to the nearest Burger King for dinner.

*

Twenty minutes after they left, a girl stumbled into the bench Rachelle and Nick vacated and cried her heart out. When she was about to leave, she found a simple, brown notebook.

***************

First off, you’ll notice that I changed my working title. Figured the new one, “A Playgirl’s Secret Diaries”, would be more fitting since I originally wanted to call this story “The Diaries”.

Anyway, here’s Chapter One, and please tell me what you like and don’t like about it. I’m never good at criticizing myself (unless it’s obvious) so I really need your help if I’m going to improve my story.

Assuming there are readers who had simply stumbled into my blog and you don’t want to or can’t comment here, just email it to me: raine030@yahoo.com

Thanks for reading!

P.S.

I was supposed to publish on Sundays but since it’s done (or I think it’s done) already, I decided to share it with you on a Wednesday. 😀

Please check the page/tab for this story to read the rest of the story. 🙂

Prologue

 

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