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Secrets of the Heart Chapter Two

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He watched her as she entered the building, her hood over her head and her hands in her pockets; how he longed to hold those hands and warm those delicate fingers. He was sitting alone on the seat in front of the building's somewhat over-sized window, something he had done many times, but this time it had new meaning, this time he would talk to her. He peeked through the window, seeing her walk swiftly, yet gracefully, to the back of the room. There she sat in a booth that was nearly isolated from the rest. He nearly swooned and looked away, running his fingers through his hair. Ryan Crowe sighed in frustration as his heart began to race and a blush quickly spread across his skin. He willed it away, but, as usual, his efforts were in vain. Oh, come on, why does she do this to me, he thought. He looked into the window again, ignoring the many eyes that looked back at him, and saw her push the vase in front of her to the far side of the table. Then came a sharp pain in his forehead, which relieved itself quickly, and he shrugged.

Ryan looked away again, admiration filling his very soul. He was infinitely fascinated by her, and he just had to talk to her, to be close to her, but he knew how she felt about him: she thought that he was a monster, an evil, ridiculous person to stay away from. He felt ashamed to know what they did to her...it disgusted him to his very core. He balled his fist, furiously pressing his nails into the skin of his palm. If I could just talk to her, she would see that I was sorry for what they did to her, that I wish they would burn in H*ll, that I loved her...

"Yes, I will talk to her, I must," he mumbled to himself. He stood up and walked to the door, his heart thumping again in his chest. He couldn't understand why he was so nervous about this, this simple task: go in, apologize, if she wanted him to stay, then stay, if she wanted him to leave, then leave...and yet, the thought of talking to her made him extremely nervous.

Nevertheless, Ryan entered the cafe, looking only at her the entire time, admiring her yet again. Every time she was near, he did this, observing her every move; this was, admittedly, obsessive in a way, but he couldn't help it, she was just so alluring. He walked towards where she was sitting, his feet moving the rest of him, almost gravitating to her. When he reached her, he breathed deeply, yet silently, through his nose, calming himself.

At that point, she turned around. Ryan fought the tenacious urge to pull her up into his arms and kiss her as Carina Kale looked at him and sighed. It's now or never, he thought. You can do this.

"Hello," he said. He could hear his own nervousness in his voice, and took another deep breath. "I'm Ryan." He shifted his wait onto his other leg and brushed his hair from his face, just another quirky thing he did around her. "What's your name?"

"I'm Carina," she said, a hint of sarcasm in her voice. Ryan detected it, and his heart sank a little. He knew that this would happen, that she would be annoyed at him for approaching her, but he just had to; he realized that now. He hid his irrational disappointment with a smile, and was surprised to see her blushing. Oh my god, she's blushing! She's actually blushing! He smiled wider, happy at her reaction. Carina turned back around.

For some reason unknown to him, the people at the table next to him scowled at each other, telling one another to shut up before scoffing when they wouldn't. Ryan moved away from them, strolling in front of her and sitting down at her table.

As he did so, he felt a light pressure in his head. He furrowed his brow and shrugged. Focus all of your attention on her, do not worry about anything, or anyone, else. He heard her groan. Am I really that annoying?

"What's wrong," Ryan asked her. Please, please don't say me. Please...Carina just shook her head and looked down into her lap. He looked at her for a minute, studying her, but had to look away; she was distracting him from the task at hand.

"Ryan," he heard her mumble. He'd never heard her say his name before, and, however illogical within reference to what he wanted to say to her, he felt slightly electrified at the sound. On the other hand, he could hear even more annoyance in her voice, and was disgruntled again. "What do you want?"

'What do you want?!' Oh, I knew this was a bad idea, he thought as his expression became solemn. I shouldn't have done this, I shouldn't have talked to her, god, why did I decide to do this?! He looked at her, and he started to remember. That's why I wanted to talk to her, this beautiful person in front of me. I love her.

"Honestly, I just want to talk to you," Ryan said. OK, that's a start...

"Why would you want to do that," Carina asked. She sounded surprised to him, and Ryan blushed deeply. Oh, come on, again?!

"It's just that," Ryan continued. "I really wanted to apologize." Please, don't tell me it sounded as foolish out loud as it did in my head, he thought.


"No, Ryan," he heard Carina say. D*mn it..."I won't accept it. What you and your little...friends...did to me was unbearable. I did not deserve it, and now you just waltz in here and act like everything is just fine and dandy, expecting me to forgive you..."

Ryan looked up at her, leaning in towards her and putting his hands on the table. He was expecting her unwillingness, yes, but he did not expect her to forgive him. She needs to understand. I have to tell her the truth. Say it, just say it..."Listen to me. That was not me. I didn't do those things, no matter what you heard at school." Ugh, school, he thought. I could never go back after doing this..."Please, you must believe me, I didn't even know about it until after, and I would never, ever do something like that to you. I..." Come out with it, come on! "I care for you much too much to even think about hurting you." Close enough. Why couldn't I say it? He felt his love for her, his affection, but he couldn't understand why he couldn't just tell her how he felt.

He watched her as she folded her arms across her chest and leaned back away from him. Oh, great, now she's all defensive...stupid, stupid, stupid! Ryan braced himself, preparing for her wrath, and was right for doing so; after a moment Carina replied almost furiously "Ryan, I want you to take your apology and shove it up your--" she stopped talking almost instantly, her eyes going blank and her body stilling.

Suddenly, he was hit with an excruciating pain that ran up his arm and shot into his forehead. He fell upon the floor, curled up in the fetal position and screaming. He closed his eyes, and it was as though he was looking through someone else's eyes: he seemed to be walking down a near isolated sidewalk, and his 'virtual' self turned his head around, seeing two hooded figures following him. He broke into a run, but he heard the figures behind him following suit. He was knocked upon the ground.

"This is what they did to me," a voice said. He was blinded by something, and he felt the same pain in his arm again, but it lasted much longer. "This is how much it hurt." He tried to scream, and he heard it, but it sounded distant, as though the sound was coming from far away. He felt himself drifting, like he was floating like a feather down a dark hole...


Ryan's eyes snapped open, his heart pounding in fear. He looked around, and was surprised to find himself sitting back in the booth. Carina was in front of him, her expression normal.

What just happened, he asked himself. Am I hallucinating? It seemed so real...Maybe I was daydreaming? What if...

"Ryan, would you just go away and leave me alone," he heard Carina say. "Please, just go away."

Go away? No, I can't...but if she really wants me to..."Do you really want me to?"

She nodded, and his heart sank. "OK, I'll leave," he told her. He got up and walked towards the door, tuning out the whispers people spoke as he passed. He knew that he would have to talk to her again, but the very thought made another blush spread throughout him; he walked out of the building and got into his car, his heart pounding in his chest yet again.

--------

"Alexei," Ryan called as he entered his apartment. There was no answer, and he was sad, but not at all surprised, to find that his roommate, Alexei, was not home. He's probably out with Annabelle again, he thought.

Just then, as if in response to his thought, he heard a soft voice in a room a little farther from him. Or not..."Alexei, is that you," he called out again. No answer. "Alexei!"

"Yeah, man, it's me, chill out, what're you, afraid or something?"

Phew, I thought I was hallucinating again..."No, I was not afraid, I just hate having to say your name more than once for you to respond, you know that. Annabelle, are you in there too," he asked.

Alexei emerged from the room, towing Annabelle behind him. Her hand was over her face, and he could hear her giggling behind it. "Hi, Ryan," she said between chuckles.

"Hi, Annabelle, I'm guessing that your day is going well." He looked at Alexei, who nodded. Annabelle slapped him playfully on the arm, and Alexei responded by laughing and kissing her full on the lips. Ryan tried to disregard the feeling of envy that arose within him, but he had to look away, turrning his gaze to a spot on the floor.

He heard them pull away, and he looked back up, a blush spreading across his skin. He forced a smile on his face as Annabelle let go of Alexei's arm, waved goodbye to them, and grabbed her keys before walking out the door, closing it behind her.

"So, how'd it go," Alexei asked him.

Ryan sighed. "It went bad, huh? Aw, man, don't worry, she'll come around. In the meantime..."

"No, I will not go out with Annabelle's sister, sorry," he said. He was tired of Alexei suggesting he found someone else, not that he would ever tell him that.

"Oh, come on, do this for me, Belle said that if I got you to go out with her, she'd pay me back."

Ryan laughed a little at the desperateness in his friend's voice, and shook his head, 'no.' "Like I said, I'm sorry, but Carina is the only one for me. Unless she happens to be her long-lost-identical twin, then it just isn't going to happen, ok?" Alexei nodded. "Good. Now, what's for dinner?"





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