Readers! Hello and Happy Holidays! Thank you for all your reviews and patience with this story and me. It is no exaggeration when I say that your reviews keep me all the more motivated to continue. I told you all that I would continue this, despite the long updates! With long updates come long chapters, so I hope you all enjoy Chapter 7! You're in for a ride on this one. Again, thank you for all the support. Enjoy!
A Whole Latte Love
TK stared at his brother intensively, eyes burning with strong curiosity, anger and fear. He knew himself that he wasn't ready for the answer, but he had to know. There was no way he was going to leave without the answers he seeks for now. Matt stared back at him in complete shock—as if he got caught red-handed stealing out of the cookie jar. His expression then softened into a much more subdued one, looking much more aware of the seriousness behind TK's question. Matt sighed and leaned on his side against the wall.
"Davis is Kari's boyfriend," Matt responded just as abruptly as when TK asked his question.
Boyfriend. Somehow that word echoed uncomfortably in his head like a distant siren. He saw this coming. That answer was already what he assumed before he even asked. But actually hearing it as a legitimate proof to validate his assumption was devastating. TK felt a disgusting feeling at the pit of his stomach. The closure he desired from finding out the truth did not suffice the way he had hoped. In fact, it was far from satisfying. The truth wasn't sinking in and it was then TK realized that it was because he did not want to believe it.
Matt sighed again, "Look, man. I—"
"Boyfriend?" TK spat out in exasperation, interrupting Matt, "Why didn't you tell me?"
The guilt on Matt's face grew more obvious, "I just didn't want to crush your spirits. You seemed so happy. I'm sorry…"
TK let out an annoyed, sarcastic laugh. "Oh, so you thought that you knowing that the girl I fell in love with has a boyfriend and not telling me about it isn't going to crush m spirits at all? Are you serious?"
"I'm sorry, TK. I just really didn't know how to tell you," Matt sounded defeated.
"This is ridiculous," TK breathed out, temper rising, "Do you even know how much of a fool I feel like right now? You should have told me once I told you I loved her in the first place so I could've just stayed away and avoided all of this!"
"I doubt you would've stayed away anyways!" Matt shot back in his defense, just as annoyed, "You claimed you already loved her so knowing about Davis wasn't going to change anything!"
TK's temper grew once he realized that Matt's annoyed expression wouldn't leave. TK looked at him stupidly—he was supposed to be the annoyed one here!
"So that was your reason for not telling me? So that I could just continue chasing after a taken girl like an idiot? Matt, c'mon!"
TK's voice started to rise, and he knew that was just going to trigger Matt's anger as well, considering being yelled at was one of Matt's biggest pet peeves. It just triggers an angrier Matt who just ends up saying things ruthlessly and without consideration. But there was no turning back now. Matt glared icily.
"Dude, you're overreacting. Are you really even in love with her? It's been like, what, less than a week since you've met her? It's probably just a phase. Get over it."
That pushed TK's buttons. His patience and temper control was long gone. "Don't you dare tell me that this is just a phase! You don't know how I felt these past few days I spent with her. She made me feel so…so special and happy in ways you could never understand and now it's just gone."
TK let out a deep breath and finished sadly as he felt his last sense of dignity slip away, "All gone."
Silence overcame the two brothers; both of them not having enough will power to speak up. TK leaned back against the door behind him and closed his eyes, as if trying to ease a headache. Matt couldn't help but stare. His previous flames were at last dying down, and the realization and guilt of what he said finally got to him. Matt walked up to his little brother and put a hand on his shoulder. TK opened his eyes and stared at Matt questionably and dully. Matt sighed apologetically.
"I'm sorry. That was out of line," Matt started, releasing his hand, "You know how I get. I'm sorry for not telling you, bro. I really am. It's not the easiest thing for me to do, seeing how much in love you were…"
"That's why you should have told me right away," TK then mumbled, feeling almost, if not fully, embarrassed, "When I wasn't in too deep yet."
"You're right, I'm sorry," Matt apologized again, then leaned on the wall beside him, "I was just hoping you could've gotten her to like you back before you found out about Davis, to be honest."
TK then turned his head towards Matt and looked at him in great confusion, "What are you talking about?"
The home phone then began to ring, disturbing their conversation. Matt gave his brother a sad smile and one last pat on his shoulder.
"Must be the landlord. The rent is due soon."
With just that, Matt drew back his hand and entered the kitchen where the phone rang. Matt's smile just then made TK ponder. It was a smile full of everything but happiness. It was a smile full of pity—pity for him. "What does he mean? Hoped that Kari would like me before I found out about Davis?" TK thought. By Matt's last smile, it surely wasn't anything good. Deciding to set that issue aside for the sake of having one less thing to stress over, he walked into his room and sat down on his bed in complete exhaustion. He has never felt so emotionally drained, and the day was not even half way over yet. He couldn't recall the last time he was ever this stressed over a girl; perhaps because this was the first time. TK groaned loudly, overwhelmed with all these alien feelings. Boyfriend. A boyfriend! Kari, the girl of his dreams, has a boyfriend. Kari, the girl he's been trying to impress and shamelessly sweep off her feet, was taken. "How did this happen?" TK thought stupidly, yet desperately, to himself, "How did I not know?" It clearly wasn't obvious that Kari had a boyfriend, given the way she acted with him. Taken girls are usually not as witty and slightly intimate as she was…"Are they?" he questioned. He shook his head, getting even more confused now with Kari's actions. "If Davis were to see the way I hung around Kari…surely she would've minded that or at lease be a little comfortable that her boyfriend might see…but she was the one who…ugh!" TK was getting nowhere near completing the puzzle. All he got was more unanswered questions and possibly a stronger headache.
"Why didn't she tell me?" he thought out in a whisper.
"Maybe because we didn't get around to that topic," TK continued in his mind, assuming so more as a question than a statement, "I mean, we've only known each other for three days. Why would she tell someone she just met about her personal life? I'm in no place to have asked her either." He ruffled his hair in annoyance. "But she didn't make it obvious that she was taken! I would've asked if she did. In fact, any sane man would've sworn she's single with the way she acted. Overly-friendly and…" TK stopped his thoughts, suddenly feeling extremely guilty for even daring to think poor of Kari. There was nothing bad about her, not even the slightest. He refused to believe that Kari was at wrong. Despite her upfront actions, there was something that always seemed so pure about the way she acted with him, the way she smiled, the way she laughed, and the way she touched him. It all just seemed so innocent, as if she herself wasn't aware of how slightly clingy her doings were. The moment of possible truth then hit him: "What if it all seemed like nothing to her because I'm the only one who feels the connection?" His heart sunk. The only logical assumption he made all day just had to be a heart wrenching one. Worst yet, it seemed more likely to be true the more he thought about it. Kari's clinginess and contagious attitude must genuinely just be who she is. It's probably all in her usual character. There's no girl like her, after all. If anything, she probably treated everyone that way. The reason she didn't find anything uncomfortable was because she doesn't feel the connection he does. She doesn't share the same feelings he has. "Meaning," TK finally concluded sadly, "I'm the only one at loss here." TK sighed and laid back onto his bed, eyes fixed numbly at the ceiling. "Of course she doesn't feel anything. She has Davis."
Thoughts of Davis then started to cloud up in his mind, much to his dismay. He recalled the time they first met. It was in front of Kari's café, where he had bumped into him. TK remembered how ridiculous he felt for feeling so uneasy and insecure when he saw Davis walk into the café because he thought Davis would fall in love with Kari. TK twitched, realizing the irony. "I knew there was something about him," TK thought, "Geez, what were the odds?" The image of Davis and Kari together saddened him. It was basically his paranoia that came to life. The girl he loved was in love with another man, and he played the oblivious, poor boy catching feelings. He briefly thought about how their relationship is, considering Kari never spoke of him. TK thought back to the time he ran into Davis the second time. It was at the mall in the men's restroom. TK closed his eyes in annoyance once he realized how near he was with the couple each time he encountered Davis. His memory of their conversation was very vivid, given TK's hidden ability to remember what he and other people talk about. They had spoke about girls, he recalled, and Davis showed him the bracelet he bought for his girlfriend—"or Kari," TK corrected bitterly—because of an argument. TK sat up, now curious and shamelessly pleased with the idea of Davis and Kari being in a quarrel. "It must have been some big argument to flash her with an expensive gift as an apology," TK judged, "He almost sounded like he bought it just for the feud to end. How materialistic of him. Even I know how to properly apologize to a girl. She did tell me she was simple to please. But then again…"
TK let out a defeated grunt and flopped back onto his bed. He doesn't know Kari enough to clear things up. Hell, he doesn't know her at all. No matter how much he judges Davis, no matter how much he questions Kari, and no matter how many times he tries to justify the actions of this mess, it wasn't going to change the fact that Kari is Davis' girlfriend and not his. The nasty, confusing feeling of loss tainted his hear.t It angered him. "Dammit," he thought pitifully, "Why do I feel like I lost her when she wasn't even mine to begin with?" The empty feeling just felt so real He did lose something: his chances. A light of hope then lit up. "Just because I can't date her, doesn't mean our friendship is over…" That once hopeful light immediately shut off. Suddenly he realized the burdens of being just friends with the girl he loves. A girl he loves that has a boyfriend, for that matter. Never having experienced anything like this before, he didn't know quite what to do. He didn't know what he was supposed to do in situations like this. He was torn between wanting to stay away and never wanting to leave her. While he was fully aware that staying away could save him the trouble of even more heartache, he just couldn't find the power in him to do so. He didn't want to leave her. "Leave her and what? Continue life as strangers?" he thought, mad at himself. He even told her that he couldn't picture his life without her. He sighed. There was no turning back now. Memories of Kari started to fill his mind. Her smart mouth, witty attitude, her dangerously beautiful smile, her adorable expressions, her hugs, her touch…"God," He sighed again, "There was no turning back EVER." Kari had too much of a toll on him for him to just leave. His heart suddenly felt heavy. He took a deep breath. He understood what the pain was. Despite of Davis, he was still in love with her.
He was still in love with Kari.
"TK?" Matt called, peeping his head into TK's room, "Can I come in?"
TK sat up and nodded, "Sure."
Matt walked in and sat beside him, "You alright?"
"I've been worst," TK admitted, thought unsure if that was entirely true, "I'll survive."
"I'm sorry again," Matt said with sincerity, "Hey, let's go out. Clear your mind, or we can just hang out if you don't want to talk about it. Beats staying at home to sulk, "I'll drive."
TK blinked, surprised at his brother's request. He thought for a moment. Matt was right. Anything was better than sitting in his room wallowing in self-pity over a girl. He also saw this as a chance to get more closure on the situation. TK nodded and grabbed a jacket off the ground before standing.
Almost an hour has passed since the two brothers left the apartment, and they were still on the road. TK eyed Matt, who was driving. He hasn't said a word to him since they got in the car, but Matt's curiosity was too obvious. He looked like he was ready to combust with questions. "He's probably unsure if it's okay to ask," TK assumed. He sighed and decided to break the silence.
"Where are we going?" TK asked, initiating the small talk.
"A bar in the next town!" Matt replied excitedly, sounding too relived for the conversation, "Their happy hour lasts all day today and I thought we'd bond over some beer and burgers. It's been a while."
"But you're driving," TK stated, not comfortable with the idea of Matt drinking then driving, "Did you bring me so I can drive you home again?"
"Beer for you, burgers for me," Matt laughed, "It's about time I'd play the designated driver. Plus, you need to take a load off. It'll be my treat."
TK couldn't help but laugh along, memories of him picking up and caring for a drunken Matt coming to mind, "I guess. It really has been a while."
"That's the spirit!" Matt grinned, then eyed TK briefly before focusing back on the road, "So…how are you? Better?"
TK chuckled, now fully aware of what Matt really wanted to talk about, "Yeah. It just caught me off guard, is all."
"How'd you find out?" Matt asked eagerly, "About Davis, I mean. Give me the whole story."
"I told you, remember? I bumped into him at the café. Then I ran into him at the mall the other day. He recognized me and he showed me a gift he bought for his angry girlfriend. It was a bracelet. Then I saw Kari wear that exact bracelet today. You know the rest."
After TK finished his vague summary of what happened, the heavy heart sensation suddenly came back to him. The memory of TK seeing and even feeling the bracelet on Kari's wrist was very vivid. The look on her face, the sharp feeling in his chest, the way the bracelet somehow mocked him—it all stung. TK let out a deep sigh and carried on. There was a chance to finally talk about it. He might as well finish what he started.
"I don't know, man, " TK said, slumping in his seat a little, "Maybe you're right. Maybe this is just a phase. I'm way too over my head on this one. I mean, how can I be in love? I barely met her. I don't even know this girl."
"Do you really believe that though?"
"That you're not in love with her?"
TK paused. He didn't know quite how to answer that question because he didn't really know the answer himself. All he used to believe was that he was in love with her. There was nothing that could've convinced him otherwise. He couldn't even bring himself to actually say that he wasn't. However, "I can't love her," he thought in obvious despair, "It's not right." TK shook his head.
"I can't be in love with her," told TK, revealing his exact thoughts, "It just wouldn't be right."
"Just because you can't be in love with her doesn't mean you aren't," Matt nearly snorted, "And there's no rule saying you can't be in love with her either. It's okay!"
"What part of loving another guy's girl sounds okay to you?" TK asked in slight annoyance before exhaling sadly, "I feel like I lost her."
"But you didn't lose her?" Matt said slowly in confusion. It sounded more like a question than a statement.
"I mean, I feel like I lost my chance," TK explained more clearly, though in a numb manner, "Which feels like the same thing."
"But you didn't lose your chance either," Matt replied just as slowly, sounding even more confused with what TK was saying. TK twitched—now he was the confused one!
"What are you talking about?" TK asked, puzzled at how Matt didn't comprehend, "I DID lose my chance."
"No, you didn't…"
"I'm not going to go after a taken girl, dude!" TK nearly spat, now annoyed, "I'm not going to butt in other people's relationships. That's so low."
Matt let out a deep breath, ready to explain himself, "I'm just saying that you did not lose her or your chance at all. You're still her friend, aren't you? There's a chance that she'll be the one to fall in love with you."
"So you want me to make her fall in love with me?" TK asked, baffled.
"No, that's not what I'm saying," Matt clarified, "Just be yourself. Again, I'm just saying that if you can't be her boyfriend, just be her friend. You'll never know what will happen."
TK stayed quiet for a moment to piece together what Matt was trying to explain. The question of whether or not he should leave came back to haunt him. While he was beyond certain that he'd hate more than anything to leave her side, he questioned if he had the power to stay. He had only heard it before in movies, but now he was really starting to understand the idea that there really was no greater pain than seeing the one you love, love someone else. TK rested his head against the window; mind and heart weighing heavy with emotion. Everything was just so alien to him. TK never felt like this prior to meeting Kari ever in his life. He couldn't stand it. "…But," TK thought as his senses got back to him, "If I could've avoided these damn feelings by never meeting her, I wouldn't have ever taken that chance." He didn't regret meeting her. The idea of never meeting Kari pained him. He'd rather bear the struggle of knowing her than not knowing her at all; she already meant that much to him. TK groaned. He felt even more unsure than before.
"I don't know," TK sighed, "That still doesn't seem right."
"Suit yourself," Matt shrugged simply, though with a smug smirk on his lips.
Before TK could comment on that sudden smirk, Matt pulled into a parking lot of a rather large and flashy bar called Digi's Pub and Grill. He examined it briefly. It looked familiar. Although, he picked up Matt form countless bars before so it was no surprise that it looked familiar to him. Matt parked, unbuckled, and grinned at his little brother.
Once in the bar, the smell of barbeque, burgers and beer immediately surrounded them. As emotionally distressed as he was, TK couldn't help but be both distracted and tempted by the aroma. He felt famished for not eating all day, so the smell was definitely alluring. They both decided to sit at the bar, which always seemed like the chosen spot whenever they went to a pub together. Matt ordered the food along with a soda for him and a glass of fine beer for TK. The drinks came first, and TK took a sip. The bitter, cold taste was almost unfamiliar, given its been a while since he last drank. He considered himself as one of the guys who drink only on occasions. TK took another sip and the strong taste started to become more tolerable. He then thought about the food and why it was taking a while to arrive. All of a sudden, an image of Kari flashed into his mind. TK felt his body freeze and his face grow warm. "Why did I think of her?" TK thought, bewildered, "W-wasn't I just thinking about food?" Before he knew it, even more thoughts and images of Kari started to cloud up in his head. What's worst, Davis came to mind as well. Kari's smile. Davis. Kari's laugh. Davis. Kari's touch. Davis. And just as abruptly as the thoughts came, a disturbing image of Kari and Davis embracing intruded his mind. TK twitched in obvious annoyance and discomfort. He took a large gulp of the beer and when he tried to gulp again, the glass was already empty. He stared stupidly at his glass and then at Matt, who was laughing.
"Their beer must be delicious. You already finished it!"
TK glared, his face full of distress. Matt flinched at TK's cold stare. It took a moment, but Matt realized the reason for his brother's grumpy face. He let out a chuckled sigh and raised his hand towards the bartender.
"Another signature beer on the rocks, please."
"How do you know Davis?" TK cut to the chase, disregarding the fact that his brother ordered him a second drink, "What's he like?"
Eager to engage in conversation, Matt answered, "He's an okay guy, I guess. I don't really talk to him, so I don't know much about him. Tai doesn't really approve of him."
Matt's face fell a bit. It looked as though he remembered something important. He even looked a bit bothered, if TK wasn't mistaken. But before TK could ask, Matt spoke up again, "I met him almost a year ago. He and Kari had just started dating then. Tai was so mad he—"
"They've been dating for almost a year now?" TK interrupted childishly, "Geez…"
"Yeah, he's her first boyfriend too," Matt replied, "He asked her out after Kari came back from…."
Matt paused, suddenly looking very worried. TK raised a brow. It sounded like Matt stopped himself from saying something he wasn't supposed to say. TK's eyes lowered, smoldering his brother. He wasn't I the mood for any more secrets.
"From?" TK persisted, "Spill it out, Matt. I've had enough of not knowing anything."
"Don't tell anyone I told you," Matt warned, "I'm not even supposed to know. Tai just told me himself out of trust, so I expect the same."
"Got it," TK replied, more curious now than he was impatient.
Matt took a deep breath before proceeding, "She ran away that time. No one knows where or why, besides Tai. She was gone for about two weeks. Three? I don't remember. But when she came back, Davis asked her out. She had been very vulnerable to him at that time. I've never seen her so emotionally unstable and lifeless at the same time. That's really all I know, though. Tai didn't go into much detail with me. I don't think he wanted to."
TK just stared, heart once again heavy. That was more than what he bargained for. He thought he didn't know who Kari was before, but now it was a whole other ball game. "She ran away?" he thought in confusion and concern, "Emotionally unstable? But she always seems so happy…" He then remembered the conversation he had with Yolei earlier in the day, where Yolei told him how insecure and negative Kari could be. Now he couldn't help but feel incredibly worried about her. His urge to run out of the bar and go find her was too strong, but not as strong as the common sense holding him back. He had to know more.
"Is she better now?" TK asked, voice a bit small.
"I'd like to think so," said Matt honestly, "I mean, it seems like she's doing fine these days. Must be because of her café."
"Didn't she just open that up though?" TK asked, more serious.
"Yeah, it was a fast process actually," Matt said, eyes fixed on the waiter bringing in their food, "Everything happened in just a matter of a few months. The idea, the blueprint, the construction, the opening—everything."
The food arrived, distracting Matt form what he was saying. However, TK's appetite seemed to cease and vanish. Suddenly, he didn't feel hungry for food anymore after being thrown all those shocking news. Instead, he was hungry to know more. "If she started to feel better because of her café, does that mean she's only got better just a few months ago? Has she still been hurting before then?" TK's face then scrunched in suspicion, "But she's been dating Davis for a year. Does that mean she still wasn't completely happy even when she got with Davis? Isn't it Davis' job to make her happy? How does a café make her more happy than her own boyfriend?" He then got heated. "But then why'd she run away?! Why was she unstable? Is she completely fine now? Is she really better? She always seemed so strong-minded and happy before. Maybe she's been hiding it this whole time." His heat died down, but soon came in a very depressing aura. "Or maybe she is genuinely happy now and that Davis coming into her life played positive role on helping her get better…maybe he healed her. And that the café just made her happier…" Once again, the heat fired back up. "But that still doesn't mean I can't be her friend! If anything, this just gives me more of a reason to stay! Stay to be a good friend and…dammit!" Now the dilemma of staying friends with the one he loves found its way back into his mind. He just couldn't escape anything! TK let out an annoyed groan. Before he knew it, he had once again finished his last gulp of his second glass of poison. He was already raising his hand for the bartender before the glass even escaped his lips.
"Hit me again."
A seventh glass and a half devoured burger later, TK sulkily rested his head on the hand balanced sloppily by his elbow. TK felt his brother's stare, but he felt too lazy and too buzzed to acknowledged it. Matt playfully ruffled his brother's hair and laughed.
"Your good to beer ratio is beyond off, bro!" Matt chuckled, though with worry, "Never drink on an empty stomach—that's Drinking 101. You should know that."
"Sorry I'm not as knowledgeable on alcohol as you," TK mumbled sarcastically, still not facing him.
"Actually, beer has only 4% alcohol compared to most alcoholic drinks," Matt laughed proudly, "You're lucky we didn't order any hard liquor. You wouldn't be able to handle, Mr. Light Weight!"
TK just stayed quiet, too annoyed with Matt's worlds. Matt's voice started to sound more like gibberish each passing second. His laughter even rang a bit painfully in his head. But he was able to pick up Matt asking, "Are you okay, though?"
"Yeah," TK managed to say before groggily getting up, "I'm going to use the restroom."
"Want me to come with?"
"Nah, I'm good."
TK started to walk towards the restroom with even a cloudier mind than before. Although this time, it was filled with dark clouds of numb emotion as opposed to painful logic. Images of Kari were blurrier in his head, much to this relief. He sighed, still feeling helpless. No amount of alcohol could distort how beautiful Kari is to him, even if it was a blurred vision. The sight of her contagious smile brought a smile to his own. There was just no escaping her. TK leaned against the wall, unable to balance his wear mind. He grew a bit dizzy; now he regretted not finishing his food. He leaned back his head, closed his eyes, and took a deep breath.
"What am I going to do?" TK quietly groaned.
"For starts, you should move out of the way. You're blocking the door to the restroom!" called a girly voice, startling him.
TK opened his eyes and before him stood a no doubt beautiful girl, with golden, curly locks and strikingly noticeable green eyes. She was a bit taller tan Kari, though the heels she wore could question her true height. She wore tight jeans ad loose blouse along with those heels. TK raised his brow slightly. It was a bit flashy for a day at a burger bar, but he was in no pace to judge. She also sounded and looked foreign despite her fluency in Japanese—French? Italian? He wasn't sure. But what he was sure about was that despite her obvious beauty, Kari was still much, much more beautiful to him. Kari's beauty outshined all, and now this girl's presence just made him think of Kari even more A stupid, smitten smile soon formed on his lips.
"Hello? Earth to blondy! What are you grinning about?"
"H-huh?" TK snapped back to life, though with his grin still smugly planted on his face.
"So are you just going to stand in front of the girl's restroom all day or?" the blond girl asked with humor, "Are you like playing body guard for your girlfriend in there or something?"
"No, I'm not!" TK responded a bit bitterly as he leaned off the wall. The word 'girlfriend' hit him like a bullet. "Sorry for getting in your way."
TK just realized that he snapped. His temper levels were not as stable when he was under the influence of alcohol. He didn't mean to, but the word just threw him back into undesired thoughts. He figured he might as well leave now before he made an even bigger jerk out of himself. But before he could, the girl spoke up.
"Are you alright?" genuine concern in her voice as she asked, "You've obviously be drinking. Heart break?"
"Close enough," TK answered automatically, alcohol catching up to him.
"Close enough?" she repeated, mocking him, "You're either heart broken or you're not."
This girl reminded him a lot of Yolei, sarcasm and mockery and all. It made him laugh. Words came out o his mouth before he even noticed.
"I am heart broken. I am one heart broken son of a gun over a girl I fell in love with at first sight only days ago. Days ago!" TK realized how ridiculous he sounded and then laughed another stupid laugh at both the situation and himself, "I'm sorry. I don't do usually do this."
"I can tell," the girl laughed along, "I'm sorry for your situation. Love gets the worst of us, sometimes. It happens." She then extended her hand, "My name is Catherine, by the way. I'm new in town."
"Catherine," TK repeated with a grin, her name rolling off his tongue, "That's a cute name. Kari's a cute name too. A very beautiful name, actually."
Catherine snickered, "Oh so this Kari is the culprit, huh?"
"Culprit of my heart," TK snickered back, now incapable of controlling his drunken words, "I love her. But she doesn't love me. She loves him."
By 'him', he meant the dirty mop at the corner that he sloppily pointed at as he said so. Catherine laughed again, but before she can say a word, TK took a strand of her long hair and put it to his lips. At this point, he had no sense of control. His mind was blurred, his heart was broken, and Catherine's beauty was dangerously tempting.
"Maybe it's because they're both brunette," TK sighed, inhaling her scent, "Maybe Kari doesn't like blonds."
"Don't be ridiculous—" Catherine started but was halted when TK gently put his thumb on her chin and slowly raised her face towards his.
"Maybe you and I should date," TK said quietly with hoax, "Since we're both blond."
Before he was even aware of what he said—a moment of panic striking once he did—their lips met. He didn't know who went in for the kill first, but once he was in, there was no escaping. Soon both were just two people carrying away in deep intimacy, lost in a lustful, broken bliss filled with nothing but damaged spirits and vanished dignity.
"A month?!" Yolei yelled in shock, causing Kari to jump in her seat as she drove.
"Yes, Yolei. A month," Kari clarified, annoyed, "And can you please not yell while I drive? It's frustrating and it makes me nervous."
"You're the frustrating one!" Yolei whined, "I can't believe you haven't spoken to TK in over a month! Please explain everything because I will not let it go until I understand."
Kari sighed in defeat, knowing she was never going to escape this topic. It was enough that Tai kept bugging her about it, but now her best friend was in on it too. And she was more than aware that when Yolei says she will not let it go, she definitely means it. Kari decided now to explain everything just to avoid any more questions in the future.
"In my defense, I did text him like two weeks ago," Kari said, then she slightly frowned, "He just never responded."
"What?! What a jerk. What did you say?"
Kari paused before responding. "Nothing, really. I just said hello and asked how he was doing. Maybe just got too busy to respond. It happens," Kari shrugged, "I don't want to bother him either, so I didn't bother to text him anymore after that."
"Busy? No right guy is busy enough to not respond to a text after a whole damn month," Yolei spat out in annoyance, "What could he possibly be doing?"
"Well, I actually ran into Matt last week," Kari said, suddenly remembering, "I asked him how TK's been, and he told me that TK's been busy with this one internship. I don't remember what it was, but it's fine. It must be important."
Kari's face fell as she recalled the moment. Matt looked sad when she asked him how TK was doing, which was odd since he was happy throughout the conversation before she asked. It was almost as if he was hiding something, or retraining himself from telling her something that might sadden her It hurt her feelings a little. "Is TK really avoiding me?" she thought sadly, "The last time I heard from him was—"
"When was the last time you guys ever spoke?" Yolei asked, as if she was reading her mind.
"That day he dropped off the dresses."
"You're kidding!" Yolei said, surprised, "That's when I last saw him too. Did anything happen?"
As much as Kari didn't want to, she recollected the memories of that day. She remembered his concerned expression when she fell. She remembered his confused expression when he saw her bracelet. She remembered his hurt expression when they parted ways. Kari felt a tightening feeling in her heart. That guilty reaction of wanting to hide Davis from him found its way back to her. Knowing that Yolei was still waiting, she sighed.
"I don't know," Kari replied, not being able to find any other words.
"Do you miss him?" Yolei asked curiously.
It took a moment before Kari responded, "Of course I do. I mean, he was fun to be around."
"Do you think he misses you?"
An instant blush came across her cheeks when the memory of TK's first text to her came to mind. That text was very dear to her, despite that it was collecting dust in her inbox. Not only was it her first text from it, it also contained the first photo they ever took together. He had texted her saying he missed her after their first "date", yet he didn't seem to contact her since then. However, that didn't change the fact that he once did miss her. Kari smiled sadly before answering:
"I'd like to think so."
"Do you have feelings for him?"
Kari broke a bit too hard at the stoplight, startled with Yolei's question. Sure Yolei was already bombarding her with blunt questions, but she didn't expect that at all. She took a moment to look at Yolei with confused eyes, but then she was surprised to see Yolei staring back at her with the dullest of expressions. It made her uncomfortable of how Yolei could ask her such questions. Kari looked back towards the road and cleared her throat.
"Why do you ask questions like that when you know I have a boyfriend?" she asked, slightly offended.
"Well, you're giving me answers as if you like him, even though you told me you didn't," Yolei pouted unapologetically.
"So admitting that I miss him and hoping that he misses me means I like him?" Kari snapped childishly, "That's something any sane person would say."
"Sane," Yolei mimicked, rolling her eyes at the word, "I'm just saying that it's noticeable that you haven't been yourself lately. Sometimes, I catch you at work dozing off or staring at the door majority of the time as if you're waiting for him or something," Yolei then sighed sadly, "You just seem more distracted and…unhappy. It makes me worry. So I'm sorry about the questions. I care about you Kari, is all."
Kari was stuck between feeling bad for snapping at Yolei and embarrassed that Yolei not only caught her staring at the door at work, but also guessed the correct reason why. She'd be in complete denial if she were to say that she was completely fine. Kari had to admit that she ahs been indeed more distracted the past couple weeks since the TK incident. A depressing aura started to surround her. She hated thinking about TK, because it only made her miss him more and feel more helpless because she couldn't do anything about it. She sighed and smiled yet another sad smile.
"I know. I'm sorry. Thank you for your care, but really, I'm fine," Kari said, trying to sound as reassuring as she can, "I've just been tired. There's just so much to take care of these days."
"If you say so," Yolei replied, still not convinced but much to Kari's surprise, she didn't pester on…or so she thought, "So how are you and Davis?"
Kari's heart winced at that question. Somehow, she suddenly found questions about TK to be more tolerable than this. She really didn't want to talk about Davis. Not because of the fact that talking about Davis made her uncomfortable—though it did sometimes—but because she really didn't have anything to say about him. There wasn't much to talk about with their relationship despite their constant arguments over the same issues. But Kari new well enough not to talk about it and open a whole new can of worms. Her face fell at the term 'same issues'. A month has passed, yet the couple still argued over Kari's jealousy problems when it came to his 'friends'. She frowned. "Maybe it is me," she thought, blaming herself, "Maybe I am too clingy…" Noticing that Yolei was still waiting and not wanting Yolei to get suspicious, she cleared her throat again and answered in a very dull and subtle manner:
Literally seconds after she answered, she already found herself slowly parking in front of Yolei's house. Kari couldn't help but finally feel relieved that she can final drop off Yolei; now she didn't have to answer any other nerve-wrecking questions she may want to ask. The moment she parked, Yolei reached over and gave Kari a tight embrace.
"Love you, K-Star," Yolei said sweetly before releasing, "I'm always here if you want to talk. Don't push yourself too hard, okay?"
Kari smiled and told her 'okay' as Yolei smiled back and stepped out of the car. Yolei got to her house and waved good-bye one last time before entering. As hard as it was to keep up with her, Kari was beyond grateful for Yolei's friendship. She never sugar coats anything, which Kari both appreciates and fear at the same time. She was Kari's wake-up call in most situations. Kari glanced at the time on the car's clock. 5:15 PM. "Hm. It's still pretty early. Feels like we just got off work hours ago," she thought, raising a brow, "I might as well go grocery shopping now. I've been prolonging it way too long." She reached over for her phone that was in her purse. "Good thing I saved the grocery list on my phone…" She unlocked her phone, found the list and scrolled through. As she did so, she couldn't stop the memory of the text she sent to TK from getting in her head. Her fingers froze on the screen as she thought about it. "Had he really been that busy?" Kari thought, sadness and doubt overwhelming her. Much to her frustration, she found herself going through her text messages to find his name. She tapped his name and instantly popped up their conversation. Although, Kari wouldn't call it much of a conversation, given that it was just two messages. The first text was TK's first message with the photo, followed by her message to him that stated:
Hey! It's been a while. I feel like I haven't seen you in ages…I hope you're doing okay. We're having a tasting event at the café tomorrow if you'd like to come! Don't worry it's not for coffee! It's for cake, and who could say no to free cake? LOL. Well, hope to see you there. Take care =)
Kari nearly rolled her eyes at her message. She now realized how weird she must've sounded to have texted him almost a paragraph. A simple 'hello, how are you?' would've sufficed. And the happy face in the end—What was she? A promoter? Kari sighed. She knew she used the event as an excuse to talk to him. The week after the incident where she hadn't heard from TK at all mentally damaged her. The days waiting for a contact, the stressful nights thinking over what she may have done wrong, missing him dreadfully all the while in between—it was torturous. She still felt guilty. She felt like she deserved it. There was no way she could forgive herself for that sad look she saw in TK's eyes. If there were ever a look so sad, it would've been his. Kari winced. "I must've been really bad to him." Yolei's question then came to mind: 'do you have feelings or him?'. Kari started up her car and started driving towards the market before resuming to her troubled thoughts. Obviously if she feels guilty for hurting him and if she years for his attention, then must have a special place in his heart. "But what IS he to me?" she thought desperately, "Why do I feel this way? Why do I miss him so much? Why do I feel so lonely when he's not near?" She let out a loud whine. "How can I feel this way when I barely even know him? I've literally only hung out with him once or twice, for Pete's sake! So why do I…this way…with him…" A painful assumption then hit her: "Maybe he just forgot about me." The thought of being forgotten became painful. Unexpectedly, she felt a wet sensation slowly travel down her cheek. Her eyes widened in utter shock.
"What the heck…" she mumbled, using one hand to harshly rub away her unwelcomed tears while the other stayed on the wheel, "Why am I…ugh."
Fortunately for her, she was nearing the parking lot of the market. She quickly pulled up into a parking spot, parked, and stared dully ahead. Within seconds, she felt a tight feeling in her throat and before another tear could fall, she covered her face with both hands and let out a shaken breath.
"What's going on with me…"
Two or so long minutes later of sitting in silence, Kari was able to pull herself back together. She removed her hands from her face and was glad to see that it was dry. Knowing that she as able to stop her tears gave her back a little sense of pride. Kari grabbed her purse, got out of her car and walked towards the market. She got out her phone as a reference for her grocery list so she can get through the errand quicker. The list consisted most of milk, sugar, flour and eggs. She grabbed a basket and went on her way. About ten minutes and a heavy basket later, her groceries were all complete. She shifted up the basket in her arms and sighed, "Knew I should have just got a cart." As Kari made her way towards the registers, she noticed she was in the candy aisle. One candy bar caught her eye: the cookies and cream chocolate bar. And much to her luck: it was the last one left! Kari smiled giddily as she reached over to grab it. "Finally something going right for once!" However, she had thought too soon. The moment she grabbed the candy bar, someone else had already grabbed it on the other end. Bothered that the only thing that made sense was getting snatched away from her, she looked up towards the victim with an annoyed, grumpy face. But that expression soon vanished when she realized who it was. Her heart pounded harshly. Blond hair, blue eyes. It was him. It was TK.
No wards were able to find their way to her voice. Their eyes locked, but the made no sound or movement. She was speechless and motionless; completely frozen. Her widened eyes matched his own. He, too, looked just as surprised and incapable to say something. Their eyes still remained fixed on each other's, as if lost in the depths of their being. Kari's heart started to race. The nerves were kicking in. She hadn't seen him in so long. She had so much to say to him, but now she couldn't find the words to speak. She didn't remember. She couldn't remember. She was too overwhelmed with finally seeing him again. All the troublesome emotions she tried to avoid found its way back to her. She didn't quite know if she was happy to see him, sad that he's been avoiding her, or scared to talk to her. Perhaps it was all three. Kari had to snap out of it. The more she prolonged not saying anything, the more difficult it would be to interact with him later. Nerves still getting the worst of her, she managed to let go of the candy bar and let out an awkward laugh.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to grab it from you," Kari said with her heart pounding.
"No, it's fine!" TK replied, also looking like he came back to his senses, "Here, you probably want it more than I do…"
"Ah, no it's okay!" Kari exclaimed nervously, "It's yours. Keep it."
"Are you sure—"
"Y-yeah, don't worry about it!" Kari interrupted quickly without meaning to.
Kari's nervousness was getting more and more exposed by the second. She was speaking too fast and she couldn't control it. Her nerves were making her miserable. The vibe between them was just so awkward; she didn't know what to do. Her eyes drifted away. She couldn't face him. The longer she stared at him, the more she felt as though her heart was going to explode. To her dismay or relief—she didn't know which—TK spoke up.
"So…you like cookies and cream?" TK asked randomly, sounding just as shy.
"Huh?" Kari blinked, looking back up at him, "Oh…Yeah. They're my favorite."
"Really?" TK lit up with the smile Kari missed so much, "Mine too!"
"Oh my gosh, how funny! Something we both like for once," Kari chirped. His smile was contagious. She was relieved that a normal conversation started to emerge.
"Haha, yeah," TK said as his smile cooled down a much calmer one, "So how have you been? It's been a while."
"I've been okay," Kari lied, purposely disregarding that even TK knew it has been a while, "Just busy with the café and all. Same old, same old. How about you?"
TK didn't answer right away. Kari stared, confused. He suddenly looked more nervous than before. Nervous and…sad? Scared? Kari couldn't quite put her finger on it. But whatever it was, it didn't seem pleasant. It started to make her more nervous. Thinking that TK was about to share some bad news of how he's been, she opened her mouth to consul him with words of comfort, but he spoke up before she had the chance to.
"I have a girlfriend now, so I guess it's been a bit different for me."
It was Kari's turn to be silent. Her world stopped and froze again. Out of all things she was expecting him to say, that one was the least expected. She felt that heavy feeling in her heart again. But now it seemed heavier. Heavier with agony, with disbelief, with shock, with fear and with jealous. It hurt. She didn't even know why she felt those horrid emotions in the first place when TK was just a friend to her. Her eyes slightly widened. The moment of truth then stabbed her right through her heart: TK wasn't just a friend to her. The question Yolei had asked finally got its answer. She does have feelings for TK. There was no denying it at this point. Kari liked him, and it just had to be until someone else took him away from her for her to realize it. Her heart clenched at the realization. He has a girlfriend. A girlfriend! A feeling of loss came to her senses, and it just drew in more confusion. "Why do I feel like I lost him?" Kari thought in excruciating sadness, "He wasn't even mine…" She felt his stare and noticed that she didn't respond yet. She wanted to talk. She wanted to congratulate him. She wanted to shower her support. But no words came out. She still couldn't find the power to speak. "Smile, you idiot!" Kari cried out in her thoughts, "Say something!" However, the more she tried, the more it hurt. It felt forceful; forcing herself to be happy for him when she wasn't. She wasn't happy for him, and it was then she realized how bad of a friend she really was. Suddenly, TK broke the silence and disturbed her thoughts.
"Listen, Kari, I'm—"
Hearing TK's voice was too much to bear. She forced out a smile and interrupted, finally being able to say, "Haha, wow! I haven't seen you in a month and now you have a girlfriend! That's great news. Congrats!"
She finally looked up at him and smiled, but everything she felt was the complete opposite of what she told. It hurt to smile, and she did not want him to notice the pain behind it. But the longer she held the smile, the more she couldn't take it. It just hurt. She wanted to vanish more than anything. But once again, TK spoke.
"Thanks," he said, though his voiced sounded small and his smile also seemed insincere, "How are you and yours? Your boyfriend, I mean?"
Kari just stared. She never once told him about Davis, or that she had a boyfriend. She didn't mean to not tell hi; it just never came up. But, "How does he know?" she thought. Immediate assumption of Matt telling TK came to mind first, but somehow TK finding out about her boyfriend through her bracelet seemed more logical. TK wouldn't have seemed so shocked about the bracelet if it weren't. "Does he know it's Davis, though?" she thought in slight panic. A hard thud occurred in her heart at the thought of Davis. Suddenly, the memories of their arguments came to mind, just as they did when Yolei asked. There was really nothing positive she can say, and it was at that moment when she felt the loneliest. Her smile became faint.
"Good," she answered, not being able to hide the obvious sadness in her voice.
She decided to use the same answer because nothing else cam to mind. Kari knew now that she had to leave. There was no point in staying. The only thing she was getting out of their conversation was that she a bigger fool than she thought. But before she could start her good-byes, a voice came in from behind them.
Kari and TK turned towards the voice. What came pouncing towards them was a blond girl with long, curly golden locks wearing a long-sleeved dress ad boots that were perfect for the last week of Fall. The girl's eyes shined for miles. She was gorgeous. Kari then realized what was coming at her. Her heart skipped a beat. She said a little prayer in her head, hoping that the girl was not whom she thought it was. Her heart started pounding painfully. Her nerves came back, causing her to panic. Before she could make more of the situation, the blond girl reached them and immediately linked arms with TK, also taking him by surprise. Kari froze. The girl looked at Kari, revealing more of her beautiful green eyes, and blinked.
"I was wondering where you went! I was looking all over for you," she told TK, though her eyes were still fixed on Kari, "Who may this be?"
Kari looked at TK, her eyes asking him the same question. TK caught Kari's glance and the moment their eyes locked, she noticed the same sadness in TK's eyes that she saw before. He looked nervous; uncomfortable, even. She knew then the answer to her unspoken question by just looking in his eyes. Kari wasn't ready for all of this. It was all happening too fast. She braced herself once she hearted him start to speak.
"Catherine, this is Kari," he said, a bit uneasily as he broke their gaze, "Kari, this is Catherine. My…girlfriend."
He sounded hesitant at his last words, but that didn't change the fact that it was said. At this point, she didn't how to react. The truth was literally standing right before her very eyes and there was nothing she could do about it. No more assumptions, no more guesses. That Catherine was her. That was his girlfriend. She found out all that she needed to know. What pained the most was when TK looked away from her as he answered. It was as if he didn't want here there. That thought clenched at her heart and the feeling of loneliness started to drown her even more than before. Catherine then spoke, startling her senses.
"Hello, nice to meet you!" Catherine smiled, as she held out her hand to her.
"Nice to meet you too," Kari stared at her dazed and shyly shook her hand. Her voice was quiet.
Catherine's hands were soft. She felt them as Catherine squeezed her hands gently. Though her hands were warm, the sensation that traveled through her was cold. That caused Kari to fully face her and look at her in closer perspective. Beyond her obvious beauty, she noticed something different. There was a strange gleam in her eyes. It looked mischievous, like an eye full of secrets. And if Kari wasn't seeing things, she could've sworn she saw a slight smirk on Catherine's pink lips. But before she could get any more thought, Catherine released her hold and straightened.
"Your hands are so cold!" Catherine laughed kindly, "You should dress more warmly. It's almost winter! That's a cute dress you have on, though. I like your apron, too!"
Kari looked down at her outfit and blushed in embarrassment. She totally forgot what she was wearing! She shifted her basket to carry in front of her, as if to cover her.
"Ah, thank you," Kari said bashfully, "I just got off work and I left my jacket in the car."
"Oh, I see! I was going to say that you were dressed too cute for just groceries!" Her voice was just as beautiful as he looks, Kari thought. Catherine spoke again, "Where do you work?"
"Just a café," Kari replied, growing even more uncomfortable with their conversation.
"A café?" Catherine asked excitedly before turning to face TK, "Hon, we should totally go!"
Kari winced. Hon. She felt beyond awkward being in the presence of their nickname calling. The idea of TK coming into the café with his girlfriend wasn't so pleasant either. "They must've been dating for a while for them to be calling each other names," pondered Kari. Another question then popped in her head. She knew asking this would stir more heartache, but she had to know. It was the last thing she needed clarified. Her heart was already a mess, so there was no point holding back now. Kari went for the kill:
"So how long have you guys been dating?"
TK's gaze suddenly went right back to her, his eyes wide. Kari felt his stare, but did not stare back at him. She couldn't. Instead, she looked at Catherine, who just looked right back at her with a smile.
"A little over a month now!"
Kari stared at her appalled. That was not what she expected to her. What she did expect was to hear that they've been dating for a year or something and that TK just never got around to tell her about it, given their short meets. "But a month?" Kari thought, more baffled now than hurt, "The last time I ever spoken to him was last month, though…" Realizations the started to flow into her head. "So does that mean he dated her right after meeting me But they could've already been talking before he met me…Is this why TK hasn't been talking to me? Because he's busy with his girlfriend? Did Matt lie to me? Was everything he told before just…" Kari felt weak. He couldn't bring herself to say that everything TK told her before were just lies. Memories of her and Tk's date came to mind. Everything he said to her sounded so sincere: I really can't imagine my life without you. Nothing made sense. Somehow, TK ignoring her for his girlfriend just didn't seem right. He did not seem like that kind of guy. But then again—her face fell at this recall—she knew nothing of him.Her heart was stabbed with her final thought, "Maybe he really did forget about me." She couldn't take it anymore. If she stayed any longer, she was going to explode and it wasn't going to be pretty. Kari quickly bowed and didn't look at either of the two once she straightened up.
"It's getting late—I really have to get going," Kari aid as kindly as she could, "I have more errands to run."
"Oh that's no problem! Sorry for keeping you!'" exclaimed Catherine, as if speaking for both herself and TK, "Hope to see you around."
Kari nodded and shifted the basket again. It was getting heavier under her numb arms. Suddenly, a flash of courage struck her. She didn't know what came over her, but somehow she found enough strength to look back at TK and give him one last sincere, yet painful, smile. Their eyes immediately locked.
"It was nice seeing you again, TK."
And with just that, she turned away and walked towards the registers. Kari found herself walking faster as time past and before she knew it, she was already by the exit. She wanted to leave desperately. She didn't want to stay in the same building as those two. The burdens were just too heavy on her shoulders. Without giving it a second thought, she carefully placed her basket by the banana stand that stood by the exit and quickly made her way out. Just as quickly, she got into her car, started it up and drove off. It was like an adrenaline rush. Her nerves started to calm down as she drove, but it was to the point of emotional numbness. She couldn't feel. Her eyes stayed fixed on the road and her mind as blank. Everything that happened just felt so unreal. She tried to process it, but her mind wouldn't let her. Instead, she just drove on with only the sound of the outside world to keep her company. Five minutes later, her quiet ride home soon came to and end as she pulled into the driveway of her home. Once she parked and turned off her engine, immense emotions crept back into her like venom. All the images she wanted to forget flashed repeatedly in her mind: seeing TK, TK looking away, meeting Catherine, Catherine's beauty, the way they looked together—it just wouldn't stop. The feelings that came along with the images struck her like daggers. The embarrassment, the guilt, the nervousness, the jealousy, and the depression she felt started to pour down on her like icy water. She couldn't avoid it. Kari reached her limit. It wasn't until she rested her head on the steering wheel when the harsh, shameful tears started to hopelessly fall and when her dignity finally scattered into the pieces of hope she once had.
The pain he saw in her eyes were real. Insanely real that it was noticed at first glance. She looked so different. So thin, so pale, and so…fragile. The light he usually saw in her was dim, if not dead. He watched her walk away from him and Catherine, still in a daze over her last words: It was nice seeing you again, TK. There was indeed some sincerity in her voice, but that was probably the only positive thing he could pick up. Besides that, she just sounded so hurt. "But why?" TK asked himself in extreme worry, refusing to let it go, "What happened to her? Why does she…Did I…How did this…?" So many questions rang in his head. He was getting a headache just listening to his own thoughts. But the headache pain did not compare to the one rising in his heart. He hadn't seen or heard her for a month until that moment, and that definitely was not how he pictured their reunion. He couldn't get her pained expression out of his head. Her voice had been so small when she spoke to them; so small and so vulnerable. Vulnerable. That word echoed in his head. It sounded familiar. He then recalled what Matt told him the day they were at the bar: She had been very vulnerable at that time. "Has she returned back to that stage?" TK wondered, concernedly. He suddenly started to feel bad. Guiltiness started to build up in is system. There was no denying that he felt as though Kari's pain was because of him. Never before has she stared at him with those sad, lost eyes. There was no way she could give him such a look if it wasn't meant for him. He felt ashamed. He knew himself what he had done wrong, what he was doing wrong, rather. He knew that he ad avoided her since the bracelet incident, and he shamefully knew that if he hadn't ran into her now, he would've continued avoiding her like the coward he was. He couldn't stop thinking about how broken she looked. "Had she been like that all this time?" he thought, angry at himself, "If I hadn't noticed now, would she still be like that?" The idea of Kari still going on in pain like that made him sick to the stomach. Not only had he avoided her, he avoided her when she tried to reach to him. Kari's text came to mind. She wanted to see him. Maybe she wanted to talk, or maybe she just wanted to spend time with someone to ease her stress. Whatever the reason was, he could never know because he never responded, again, like the coward he was. Realizing that he could have potentially helped her out made him feel even guiltier. "Dammit," he thought, ashamed, "What kind of friend am I?" He thought he accepted the role of being her friend instead of her lover, as Matt had once suggested, but he realized now that he wasn't near a friend to her at all. He shut her out of his life without even knowing it, yet he expected for things to be all right between them when they reunite? He felt like a fool. He was a fool. TK couldn't find the strength to forgive himself; the guilt was just too overpowering. He didn't know all the reasons for Kari's distress, but he was more than certain that he was one of them.
"So, that's Kari Kari, huh?" said Catherine, snapping him back to life.
"H-huh?" stuttered TK, as if just awakened. They were already in line to pay.
"You were quiet and distracted while we were shopping," Catherine explained before revealing a humored grin, "She is a lot prettier than I imagined. I had to picture her myself, since you never spoke about her. How is she doing?"
"She's doing alright," TK managed to say, recalling Kari's words, "Just busy with work."
"I see. How are her and her boyfriend doing?" she asked, as if she knew what they talked about.
TK looked at Catherine funny, confused with her question. He hadn't given much thought about Davis—not as much as Kari anyways—but that soon changed when he remembered Kari's simple, yet troubled, answer from when he asked:
"Good," TK replied dully, using Kari's exact answer.
Catherine just replied with an 'Okay, that's cool' before resuming her attention to the varieties of gum on the shelves as they continued waiting in line. TK engaged in deeper thought of Kari's answer. Good. For some reason, it sounded really insincere when she said it. Kari's eyes did most of the talking, and there was no hiding the grief that was shown when she answered 'good'. Her eyes told the complete opposite. Anger started to build up in him bit by bit. Not just anger towards him, but also towards Davis. He expected more from him for dating a very beautiful and kind girl. He expected Davis to make her happy. "Does he even know Kari is like that?" TK thought bitterly, "She looks so broken. He must be blind to not see that she's in pain. Shouldn't he be doing something to make her feel okay through it all? Kari is going through something, isn't it his job to make sure she's happy? She looked much more alive when I had met her, and they were still dating at that time…" A vicious fire then lit in him. "Did we do something to her? Did something happen between them? Did he hurt her?" The assumption drove him mad. Despite his cowardly ways, Kari was still very precious to him. There was not a day where he did not think of her. Everyday he hoped that she was doing well in her life, and to find out it was the other way around was heart breaking. He saw the girl of his dreams wither away in hopelessness right before his very eyes .TK winced internally. Now he was certain he had felt no greater pain than this. He was disappointed in himself, angry at Davis, sorry for Kari, and what was worst—he looked over at his girlfriend—Catherine just made it all the more uncomfortable.
The thought of Davis came back to mind. The angry fire still hasn't died down. "Did he hurt her?" TK thought, feeling more resented towards Davis. He thought back to the time Davis told him about the bracelet he bought for Kari. It was an apology gift for making Kari mad. "What kind of argument needs that kind of gift as an apology?" he again asked himself. He tried to think about how Kari may have acted prior to meeting Davis that day. She still seemed fine then, with the happy and witty attitude he adored. He tried to remember their conversation. They were talking about how he won his bet for correctly guessing the mystery latte. He then remembered what he had seen on Kari's arm that same moment: a bruise. His eyes widened. It was a bruise that she told him it was because of falling on the floor, but that must've been a lie. (A/N: Refer to Chapter 2). He didn't even buy it from the first time he heard it from her. That bruise was far too big to have been caused by falling on the floor. Suddenly, he felt himself grow cold in shock. "It can't be," he panicked as his anger rose. Everything Davis told him was starting to fall into place. Davis hit Kari! Not only did he hurt her in an emotional sense, but he also hit her. TK's nerves were going crazy. "He hit her! THAT's why he bought her such an expensive gift…" He couldn't find any other explanation for it. Of course Kari would restrain herself from revealing something as personal as that. He felt his hands clench into fists. "That asshole. I swear, I'm going to—"
Catherine's voice interrupted his devious thoughts. He snapped back to reality as if her voice was the extinguisher to his flames. He looked at Catherine. She was already carrying the grocery bags. Apparently they already paid and TK was too distracted to notice. She raised a brow at him.
"Are you alright?"
"Yeah," he said quickly, not wanting her to notice his distress, "Do you need help?"
"Yes, please," she replied, handing him over some bags, "Thank you."
TK just nodded as he took the bags. They walked towards the exit, engaging in small talk as they did. He found it a bit difficult to listen to what Catherine was saying when the wrong thoughts were flooding his mind, but he didn't want to drag her into this by allowing his true emotions to show. That would be chaotic. He knew better than to tell her about all of this; she wouldn't understand. Once they made their way to the exit, TK's foot accidentally pushed aside—and almost pushed over—a basket that was in his way. He looked down and stared at the basket that stood right by the exit and near the banana stand. "Who would leave their basket here?" he thought in slight annoyance. He then noticed what was in the basket. In it were flour, eggs, sugar and a carton of milk that was bound to rot in the sunlight that it was under. It looked vaguely familiar. It then got to him. It was Kari's basket! He remembered briefly glancing at it before they spoke over the candy bar. "Why did she leave it here—oh." TK twitched with a humored and pained grin of how stupid he was to not realize it in the first place. It came to him that Kari must have just run off after she bid her goodbyes and not even buy her groceries. "You're killing me, Kari," he thought in exasperation as his worry for her started to increase. The idea of her driving with such heavy emotions scared him. "Dammit. Why didn't I—"
"You want some bananas?"
Catherine's voice startled him once again, actually making him jolt backwards a little. She looked at him with a confused expression before she let out a small laugh.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you," Catherine giggled, "You just looked so focused on the bananas. Do you want some? We can buy it now while the line is still short."
He stared back at Catherine in a daze. She was smiling at him with a smile so oblivious that he started to feel bad for her. There she was, the one he claimed as his girlfriend, standing there completely unaware of his thoughts that were overflowing with another girl. TK recalled how hard it was for him to introduce her to Kari earlier. He couldn't help but feel unfaithful, yet he couldn't stop the thoughts of Kari from coming into his head either. It just came in naturally, as if thinking about her was his second nature. It might as well be, considering how protective he was over her. But that was the thing that stabbed through him the most: he cared more of Kari than the girl before him. Not that he didn't have any sense of care for Catherine—because he really did care about her, one human being to another. However, it took Kari walking away for him to realize that the one girl he truly wanted to be with and care for was her. That clarified his guilt with Catherine. He was guilty for loving another person while being with her. After a month of being in denial and spontaneously getting with Catherine, he finally realized the ultimate truth: he was still in love with Kari. He was still in love with Kari, and the only place he wanted to be at was with her.
Catherine stopped in her tracks and turned around to face him. They were already outside. TK gave her a soft smile before speaking, hoping that his pitifulness didn't show through.
"I'll just take you home from here," TK requested, "I just remembered I have some stuff to finish, if that's alright with you…"
Catherine just stared at him and stayed quiet for a moment Her eyes were filled with surprise from the sudden change of plans, but they were also very calm. Without having to ay anything, TK could already tell that she understood. Catherine gave him a smile. It was a smile so bittersweet; TK himself couldn't help but feel apologetic. Catherine nodded.
"What do you mean you can't make it?"
"I'm sorry, babe! Things just got so busy at work and I can't leave now," Davis explained apologetically, "Boss will have my head."
"I thought you requested this day off," Kari said sadly, her voice getting quieter as she held the phone closer to her ear, "It's our anniversary."
"I know, I know. And I'm REALLY sorry, Kari. But I definitely will make it up to you, I promise," Davis aid, his tone getting softer, "I won't do this again."
Kari had to fight the urge to roll her eyes at that overused phrase. This event only happens once a year; of course it's easy to say that he won't do it again. Kari used her free hand to rub her forehead. A headache was coming along and she wanted now to end the conversation. Talking to him was just making it worst and she honestly saw that there was no point to continue bickering because they were going nowhere with the conversation. Kari just let a long sigh.
"Okay, it's fine," she rushed, feeling suddenly drained.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Davis asked, very concerned, "You know I have no power over this."
"I know. I'm fine, Davis. Really."
"I'll make it up to you, I promise." He said again.
"I love you, Kari. I'll see you tomorrow."
And just like that, the conversation was over. Kari slowly removed the phone from her ear and let out another long sigh. She felt exhausted; more mentally than she ever did, if anything. Kari glanced at the window and saw the night skies. It was beautiful. What a shame to have it go to waste, she thought. She looked at the mirror that was by her and frowned in an annoyed manner. She was already dressed for the occasion, which was supposed to be a nice dinner out. Kari almost felt stupid in her long, chiffon pink maxi skirt and white blouse that she spent an hour in frustration trying to find and put together to wear. She removed her beige, loose fit knit cardigan and slumped in her vanity's seat exasperated. Even thought she wasn't surprised that Davis bailed—since she was used to it—she couldn't help but feel a little disappointed that out of all days, he flakes on their anniversary. "He could've at least told me sooner," Kari thought, irked at the act that she had been the one to call him first, "Did he forget?" Kari felt her body go still at that word. Forget. Her earlier guess of TK forgetting about her haunted her once again. Kari laughed at herself bitterly. "First TK, and now Davis." She then brought her legs up, held them close and rested her head on her knees. She gazed at the ground lifelessly, starting to once again feel the emotional numbness from before. Running into TK, meeting his girlfriend, Davis canceling their plans—so much had happened over the last couple hours and Kari was just to exhausted from it all. It was hard to keep up. It was like running an emotional marathon. Kari's body weakened. The fatigue was catching up to her. She felt her body grow more sluggish and relaxed by the second. She knew sleep was going to take her and perhaps that was just what she needed: a temporary escape from reality. But she couldn't stop the final thought that floated it's way back into her mind before the peak of slumber: "I must be really easy to forget about."
Kari jolted up, nearly falling out of her seat from the sound. It was the doorbell. "Who could that be?" Kari wondered as she stood up, "Maybe Tai forgot his keys again?" Kari grabbed her cardigan before she left her room and put it back on as she walked towards the door. She was sure that she wasn't expecting any visitors, and then she remembered that Tai was working over-time, so it couldn't be him. As she unlocked the door and pulled it open, she then realized that she should have peeked through the door hole first. But it was too late. She opened the door and before her stood the guy she least expected.
It was TK. He looked down at her. His face was slightly flushed but still all the more serious. His gaze was intense. She couldn't move. She felt frozen on the spot as if it was his deep, blue stare keeping her grounded. Her heart started to race not just because of being in his presence, but also because of how handsome and calm TK was able to look in such a strange situation. She grew nervous and more confused on why he came. She was torn between actually wanting him here and desperately wanting him to leave. She didn't know how to face him. She didn't know what to say. The old feeling of once having so much to say to him just vanished. She finally had the opportunity to say what she's wanted to tell him, but him physically being there made her forget her words. Kari was tongue-tied. Feeling like her heart was at her throat, she found it difficult to speak. Fortunately—or unfortunately, Kari couldn't tell—TK broke the silence.
"Can we talk?"
AH! Readers, I'm please to say that this marks my longest chapter! Did you love it? Dread it? Either way, I want to express my gratitude that you read it! I want to clarify one important thing as well, before I continue on: Davis did not hit Kari, but TK believes he did. I've still been getting messages about why I'm making Davis an abuser, but he is the complete opposite. In fact, you will be getting a better insight on Davis' character in the upcoming chapters; maybe even the next! He is very important and he is far more than just the inconsiderate boyfriend the story is making him to be. So please stay tuned. More secrets are to be revealed and I am beyond excited to present it.
Also, I don't know if much Digi fans caught this, but Catherine is actually the French girl that made a very short appearance in season 2. I remember her getting kissed on the cheek by Tai and TK, and I've always dreaded her as a kid (I actually still do) because she interfered with my ships (Taiora and Takari lol!). So I guess you can say me using her as a minor antagonist calmed me down haha.
Anyways, I want to again thank all the people who actually take the time to read my story. I can never express enough how thankful I am, especially for everyone's reviews. Your guys' reviews are actually what keeps me all the more hyped to continue working on this story faster, so please keep reviewing! (wink wink wink) I've already started my draft for the next chapter, so I will do my best to update much sooner. Thank you again for all of the love. Til next time!