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Chapter Three

February 4, 2008

The key to a guy’s heart is not a key. It’s a hammer. You have to hit him hard on the head.

Only models can still look fresh, clean and beautiful after playing a tiring game of tennis. The last time Grace tried to play, she got exhausted after running around the court for twenty minutes. And her entire appearance was so disheveled that she might as well have been doing strenuous exercises for more than an hour. Rachelle Harlow, apparently, is not only beautiful and sexy but also athletic. I must have been sleeping when God bestowed all kinds of beauty upon the women of the world, Grace thought unhappily.

Guys who were attending club activities had stopped to watch when Rachelle started playing against the Tennis Club’s president. It was actually rare for Rachelle to stay behind long after school hours. She wasn’t part of any club and she was often scheduled to do pictorials even during weekdays. So there really was no reason to stay except that she probably likes hanging out with friends instead of going home immediately after class.

Grace walked over to a far corner where only a few people had gathered. She decided to wait until Rachelle is no longer being surrounded by her many friends and admirers before she actually talked to her. She had known this teen model ever since she got into St. James Academy four years ago. This young lady had always been admired by the boys, and the girls either love her or hate her. She was popular not only because she is a model but also because her brother is the vocalist of a famous Heartlake band, Quarter To Five. The siblings are often thought of as royalty as far as St. James high school is concerned. Quite a different level from other students. No, a really different level from others. If Grace is a normal human being, she’d put those two in the gods and goddesses category. Right where she placed Nick Cleveland.

Now, why do her thoughts always seem to wander towards that mysterious guy these days? She knew of Nick Cleveland for as long as she knew Rachelle Harlow. No one in campus (except maybe, Rachelle and Matt Harlow) knows the real person behind that mysterious façade. Even the guys from the Judo Club where he belongs don’t seem to know much about him. Or maybe, he swore everyone to secrecy about his personality. Either way, Nick Cleveland is an unsolved puzzle. Therefore, all kinds of rumors about him circle the school almost every day.

The worse by far, would be that gay issue. Girls have been trying so hard to catch his attention for as long as Grace can remember. However, none has ever succeeded. And so, people had speculated that maybe he prefers guys rather than girls. This, in her opinion is just plain rubbish.

One look at Nicholas Cleveland and the only word that stays in your brain is “gorgeous”. He’s not necessarily beautiful or even handsome in a smooth, perfectly sculpted way but his ruggedness has a way of piercing through all beauty standards. It must be his eyes. He looks so tough physically but his eyes have an angelic softness in them that makes you think that he would never hurt a single soul. A contradiction that makes him all the more mysterious.

This was what had drawn Grace to him right from the start. She knows he would never notice her. But somehow, she had always wished for it to happen that she ended up confused about possible relationships with other guys. She would think that maybe this guy would be the one for her but her standards are always Nick-biased and the guy would often come up short. Logic tells her one thing but her heart says another. Oh, the problems of a teenage girl.

*****

     The people around Rachelle are starting to disperse. Grace waited until the last one had said his goodbyes before she started walking towards the owner of the brown journal. She caught her just before she entered building where she was probably on her way to the girls’ locker room to take a shower.

“Hi, Rachelle. You probably don’t know me but I’m Grace Enriquez,” she said, extending her right hand.

Rachelle smiled in recognition and shook Grace’s hand.

“Hello. And I do know you. You’re from the St. James Chronicles, right? I remember you with Haley when she did a feature article about me.”

“Oh. That was more than a year ago. And I was merely assisting our features editor. You still remember?” Grace said with disbelief.

“Yes,” Rachelle said with a small laugh. “I thought you were one of the production assistants and I asked you to watch over my bag. It was only when I was talking with Haley that I found out you were actually her associate editor. I apologized and you said it was alright,” she narrated while leading the two of them to one of the nearby benches.

Grace smiled, remembering. “I see. You must have a very sharp memory.”

Rachelle shook her head. “Nope. Not really. It’s just that you’re quite easy to remember. Especially since I also thought that you would have been a great model if you were taller. Long, black hair and amber eyes have a certain appeal after all,” she said, looking at the other girl with admiration.

Grace blushed. “Oh no. There’s no need to say that,” she said, embarrassed. Grace was only five feet four inches and never in her life had she thought herself beautiful. Pretty maybe. But nothing more than that.

Rachelle laughed. “There’s no need to be embarrassed about that. We girls should always think of ourselves as the most beautiful creatures ever made. If we don’t, who will?” she said with an arch of her right brow.

Grace decided then and there that she liked Rachelle Harlow. Probably more than she could like the entire female population of the graduating class.

“Anyway,” Rachelle asked while trying to wipe her face with a towel, “I heard Haley’s editor-in-chief now. So have you been promoted too?”

“Yes. I took over Haley’s job,” Grace said with a hint of pride.

“Wow! Congratulations. I read the Chronicles once in a while and I know that you are a group of superb writers,” she said, still smiling.

A few tendrils of Rachelle’s long hair had broken loose from her ponytail and she is starting to look a bit uncomfortable due to her sticky clothes. Model that she was, she still tried her best to hide her discomfort. Grace noticed however and she figured the time for chitchat is over.

“By the way, I was in Central Park last night,” she said, taking out the brown notebook from her bag, “and I found this under the bench.”

Rachelle turned to look at what she was holding, and was not able to move. She couldn’t believe it. Her journal! She had called the park’s lost and found office during lunch break but no one had surrendered any brown notebook. She got a bit depressed about it but she was still hoping someone would bring it back to her. After telling the office to call her if they ever got a report, she hung up. So this is why there was no report. Grace had found it and decided to return it herself.

She took the journal with unsteady hands and clutched it to her chest. And then, she threw her arms around a surprised Grace because she couldn’t help it.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” she said, hugging her journal’s savior tighter.

“Easy,” Grace told her. “I guess that diary is really important to you, huh?” She got out of Rachelle’s bear hug.

“Yes,” she exclaimed. “More than all of my photos combined. Oh my god!” she shook Grace with her excitement. “How can I repay you? Is there anything I can do? Just tell me, please.”

“You don’t have to do anything. It’s not like I saved your life, anyway.”

“Of course you did,” Rachelle took her hand. “If this journal went to the wrong hands I wonder what would have happened to me,” she laughed. “I’d probably be the center of all embarrassment by now. A laughingstock. So you see, you did save my life.”

“Well, I guess that’s a different way of looking at it,” Grace replied.

After a short pause, “I read a sentence or two but that’s about it,” she said, feeling the need to tell the truth.

“That’s alright. I’m glad you told me.” Rachelle stood up and gestured for Grace to do the same.

“I’ll just take a shower and get out of my sweaty clothes but can you please wait for me at the school lobby? I want to treat you to something,” she shrugged. “It’s the least I could do. Ice cream maybe?”

Grace thought that Rachelle would insist on it no matter what so she smiled and agreed. “Ice cream, it is.”

*****

     They had their ice cream at a nearby shop and an hour had passed before Rachelle noticed that it’s getting late. Before they knew it, they had talked about almost everything St. James-related and even some personal matters that they felt were safe issues to disclose to each other. Rachelle’s journal had not only been brought back but with it came a new friend.

Rachelle doesn’t have girlfriends similar to Grace. Most of her friends were also models or the partying, wild and reckless type. Girls who have a similar description as Grace—short, simple and ordinary by society’s standards—seem to either openly hate her or completely avoid her. She doesn’t blame them though. She thought that had she been like them, she would probably have done the same. This made her admire Grace a lot more. Her new friend was probably as uncomfortable as she was during the first few minutes of their meeting but she was brave enough to step out of her comfort zone to talk to someone who is completely out of her league.

She stopped walking and turned to Grace. “Thanks for bringing my journal back to me,” her eyes softened as she took both of Grace’s hands, “and for being my new friend.” She smiled.

Grace is not used to being called a friend by someone like Rachelle and she almost took her hand away. The sincerity she saw in Rachelle’s eyes, however made her believe that they could really be friends.

“You’re welcome. I feel honored to be your friend,” she said, squeezing Rachelle’s hands as a gesture of comfort and friendship.

They continued walking along the sidewalk on their way to the train station. Not five minutes have passed however, when someone tried to pull Rachelle’s left hand—the one holding her phone. Thinking it was a snatcher, she reacted immediately by raising her curved right arm in an attempt to hit the man’s face using her elbow. Grace thought the same thing and decided to use her bag as a weapon to hit the man on the head. He was fast enough to dodge Rachelle’s elbow by moving a bit to his left but since Grace was there and ready to use her bag, he had not completely avoided being assaulted by these two eighteen-year-old girls.

The man tried to cover his face to keep from suffering any injuries due to a handbag being pounded on him. When he found an opening, he took hold of Grace’s wrists to hold her still. She tried to get away and when she couldn’t, she tried to kick him.

“Stop! Stop it, Grace!” Rachelle shouted over the noise and tried to pull her away from the man. “He’s not a snatcher.”

“What?” Grace cried out, adrenaline still rushing through veins. She turned to face the man, ready to hit him again. “He tried to take your—” She finally saw his face and froze.

What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Nicholas Cleveland barked.

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

Chapter Two

Chapter Four

Just to let everyone know, I don’t really do any kind of editing before I post the chapters in here so if you see anything wrong, please tell me. Thanks! 🙂

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