#Chapter 37: A Walk in the Park
“It’s nice outside. Will you go on a walk with me?”
As if my heart wasn’t already racing enough, it felt like it was going to burst out of my chest when Enzo asked me to go on a walk with him. I hesitated to respond, wondering if this was some horrible prank concocted by Lisa. But he seemed genuine, and I was curious to see what he wanted to talk about. Maybe he would tell me that he decided I wasn’t his mate and that he would leave me alone now.
Maybe he would tell me that werewolves and talking skeletons weren’t real, that all of this was just a joke and that my skeleton bodyguard was just a normal guy wearing a costume. It was unlikely, but wishful thinking never hurt anyone, right? “U-um… Sure,” I responded, still clutching my bag tightly.
Enzo smiled a real, genuine, handsome smile that made my heart skip a beat. I couldn’t deny that he was handsome.
“After you,” he said, stepping out of the way and gesturing down the stairs. We walked across the quad and toward the entrance to the little garden that was located between the two dormitory buildings. Other students sat on the benches in the sunshine as they studied, read books, and chatted with friends. I liked to come here often in between classes to get some fresh air and look at the flowers. Right now, there weren’t as many flowers since it was autumn, but the fallen leaves on the ground and the fall decorations still made for a nice atmosphere.
Our shoes crunched on the pebbly trail
as we walked together in silence for a bit. I continued to clutch my bag
nervously while Enzo walked casually
with his hands in his pockets. Eventually, he stopped under a large cherry tree and turned to look at me. I swallowed, unsure of what was to come.
Enzo stared at me with his soft brown eyes, which practically sparkled in the sunlight, for a few moments before speaking.
“I really like you, Nina,” he said
softly, taking a step toward me.
I swallowed again and unconsciously took a step back, not knowing what to say. Wasn’t he back together with Lisa? This had to be a prank, and a mean one at that! What had I done to deserve this sort of treatment, other than to be so silly as to think that the school heartthrob Enzo Rivers would ever genuinely like me?
Enzo stopped and looked at me with a furrowed brow, cocking his head a bit
to the side.
“Aren’t you going to say anything?” he said. “You do like me back… Right?”
I blushed and looked down at my feet, biting my lip as I tried to come up with a response. If this interaction was being recorded from somewhere in order to humiliate me some more on Twitter, I wanted to choose my words carefully.
Finally, I looked back up at Enzo again and my heart sank when I saw his painful expression. His normally stoic face, with his sharp jawline and stern eyebrows, was soft and sad now. I realized then that this wasn’t a prank. It couldn’t be. He did really like me.
But he had slept with Lisa, and there was a hickey to prove it.
“I can’t,” I replied, choking up a bit. “I
know you left the other night to be with
Lisa. And I saw you after the game with her, and I saw your hickey. I won’t be
with a playboy who can’t even commit to me for ten minutes.” Enzo’s eyebrows knit together for a
moment, but then a smile started to
spread across his face.
“You really think I left you the other night to sleep with Lisa?” he asked, chuckling a little.
I nodded and frowned. “Why else would you have just suddenly run away in the same direction as her and disappear for the rest of the night?” I said.
“Because,” Enzo replied, glancing over his shoulder and lowering his voice, leaning closer to me so no one would hear, “there was a shifter out there. I had to take care of it.”
My eyes widened. “That close to the
party?” I said, temporarily forgetting
about Lisa. “You don’t think it was coming for…”
“I don’t know for sure,” he replied. ” But considering how the appearances of shifters in the area generally seemed to be localized to wherever you are at the time, it’s becoming pretty obvious to me that they’re coming for you.”
“But… why?” I asked.
Enzo shrugged. “I’m still trying to
figure that out.”
There was a bit of a silence between us. A couple of students walked by holding hands, talking about what to do after class today. For a moment, I wished it could be that simple for me; to just be able to openly hold hands with someone and casually talk about dinner plans, without all of the werewolf drama.
“So,” Enzo finally said after the students walked past, “what do you say? I really like you, Nina. I want you to be my girlfriend.”
My heart skipped a beat, partially
from excitement and partially from
“You say you didn’t sleep with Lisa,” I said quietly, looking at my feet. “But I saw your hickey. Even if you’re not sleeping with her, you’re sleeping with someone. I may not be the prettiest girl on campus, but I do have some self esteem, and I won’t lower myself enough to let a player interrupt my studies.”
Enzo went silent again, then let out a
“Look at me,” he said quietly. I hesitantly looked back up at him to see him pulling aside the collar of his shirt, where the massive hickey had been earlier. I had been so big and dark that there was no way it would have healed by now, but it was gone.
“I never slept with anyone,” Enzo said, sounding a bit ashamed. “I thought that… I don’t know. I thought that if I used some makeup to put a fake hickey on my neck, you would get jealous and want to choose me.”
“Choose you?” I asked incredulously. I felt hurt and manipulated, and released my death grip on my bag to fold my arms across my chest.
“I saw you talking to someone after the game the other night,” Enzo said. ” I wanted to know if you would choose me over him.”
“So you lied to me?” I asked. “Do you realize how manipulative that sounds?”
Enzo looked down at the ground and didn’t say anything for a few moments. “I know it was stupid,” he said finally.” But I only did it because I really like you. And I want you to be mine so badly.”
“Maybe you should learn that you can’t always get what you want, Enzo,” I replied quietly as tears welled up in my eyes. He snapped his head back up to look at me with that same painful expression on his face.
“So this is a no, then?” he asked.
I shrugged. “I don’t know. I like you too, but… I think it’s best if we just stay friends for now,” I said. “A relationship would be toxic between us. You can’t deny it.”
As if a switch flipped, Enzo straightened himself and stuck his hands in his pockets, nodding. “Okay,” he replied. “You’re right. Friends. I’m okay with that, so long as we can at least be… that.”
I could tell that he wasn’t actually okay with it, but it was a relief to hear him agree with me and not threaten to kill me like K said he would. With a sad smile , I stuck out my hand to shake his.
Friends I said.