Chapter 8: Five Days Left

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Xavier

With barely a week left before Willow's Winter Bash, I wanted to make sure that Lani and I were really moving forward. I didn't really know how to bring it up though. I didn't want to scare her, or think that we were moving too slow for me or anything like that. I just wanted to...know. I wanted to be sure that we were...going to go for it, for us.

"Why don't you just ask her to be your girlfriend?" Liam asked his voice flat. He'd been staring at his computer screen for over an hour as I'd explained my current dilemma. He'd thought my entire problem wasn't something worth 'fretting' over—his words, not mine.

"What if she's not ready for that? We've been hanging out a lot, but we've really only been on like three or four dates." I said. I didn't want to push her or rush her or make her feel like things weren't moving 'fast' enough.

"Come on man, just talk to her." Liam finally looked up at me, giving me a knowing look. "The only person who can answer your questions is Lani. Stop worrying so much. She'll tell you what she wants." I opened my mouth to ask another question—possibly a stupid one—but Liam stopped me with a shake of his head. "Dude. Just talk to her. Yeesh. If she doesn't know yet, she doesn't know yet. If she wants to move forward she'll tell you. If she wants nothing to do with you, you suck it up like a big boy and try and win her back or leave her the heck alone. Now stop worrying like a little baby and go talk to your girl before you don't even have the possibility of one." At that empowering speech, I turned away from Liam after giving him the Chinese middle finger and walked out of our dorm building.

It was around 4:30 on a Monday, so I knew she'd be home. Hopefully, she was able to talk. I knew Gideon and Iris were usually home around this time as well, bombarding her with questions and complaints and clamoring for her attention. I loved her siblings, but they sure did require a lot of help and personal time. So much so that I was kind of jealous. It was utterly ridiculous to feel that way, but her siblings got to be with her every day without fail. They got to live with her, be with her, talk with her, everything.

As I walked over to her apartment building, taking the stairs to their third floor apartment I considered the possible outcomes to my question. Liam was right in telling me to just ask her, to just talk to her, but the idea that she'd reject me now was suddenly far too daunting than it ever had been. We'd been spending so much time together I felt I knew her, I felt like she'd always been a part of my life...a part of me. She'd even met Liam the other night when we'd had a 'dinner date'. I'd made dinner at my dorm and she'd brought bread sticks. We'd sat around our small table in our dorm room, having a great time. Liam said he was glad that we were finally talking to each other. He'd told me that she was great, and that he really liked her for me. He liked her in general.

Lani had thought Liam was an absolute sweetheart—which I did not tell him— and that he was a big softie under his hard exterior. They got along so well, Lani and I just had to work. Didn't we?

As I reached her door, though, I could hear Lani's voice and what sounded like Gideon arguing.

"What do you mean you've been walking?" Lani's voice was almost an octave above her usual tone. She was definitely upset.

"It's just walking, Lani." Gideon's voice—nearing a deeper tone but still in that puberty stage—rang out clear, showing his growing frustration.

"It's not just walking, Gideon! What if you got lost? What if some guy stole your phone or your wallet or school bags? What then? You can't walk home from school, especially not alone! And you shouldn't have asked Iris to keep it a secret." Lani said, her voice was lower now, but I could hear the stress and worry even from the other side of her closed door.

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