Sunday, April 22, 2012

Chapter 16: Mr. and Ms. Environmentalist

Chapter 16: Mr. and Ms. Environmentalist (Wattpad)

“You’re crazy!” I hissed as he calmly stalked to the sugar apple tree on my right. It was beautiful but I can’t really appreciate how just pretty it is because of Travis. He just lost his mind!

“What are you doing?!” I continued hissing through clenched teeth. He ignored me – that was expected but it still made my temper snap – and now he stood in front of the huge specimen, his arms crossed, no doubt deliberating on how to climb up. I scanned the vicinity quickly and rushed up to him, getting hold of his elbow and tried to dissuade him.

“If you got caught, I won’t cover for you. We just helped them! You’re so… stupid!” He didn’t even budge; he just smiled at me and said in a lilting voice, “Don’t tell me you’re not going to join me.” My jaw dropped. This situation is entirely ludicrous. I can’t climb up there! First thing, I don’t even know how to climb and secondly, well. Secondly, I just can’t!

“There isn’t even any reason to climb up there! You’re insane as hell.” It was clear that his mind was set even before he turned to me and said, “There isn’t any reason not to do it.”

“Idiot! You are so – ” he started getting hold of the trunk and positioned his foot on a rock nearby and heaved himself up. I was speechless. I can’t help stomping my foot in bottled up irritation, “Get back here, Travis!” He only laughed and looked back at me, “Why are you whispering?”

I sighed and scowled. This isn’t a bloody adventure! If someone sees up and reports, I don’t know what the hell I should do. He was already sitting on the tree, on a spot where two sturdy branches sprout from the trunk. One branch was higher than the other and he used it as a bar to keep himself properly balanced. I think he’s seven or eight feet from the ground, and that’s rough estimation.

“Come up here, Avery.” He offered me his free hand but I didn’t pay the slightest attention to it. I swept a frantic glance on the nearby sparse area between the trees and hissed, panicked, “Not so loud! I knew you were trouble from the beginning – ”

“Just climb up, use that rock over there.”

“You’re insane. And what’s the hand for?” he chuckled at my question and swung both of his feet, “For you. Climb up. Come on, I’ll give you space.” He started scooting to the side, inch by inch and left enough space between him and the tree’s main trunk. If he seriously thinks I’ll go up there, he needs therapy.

“I don’t climb bloody trees. And get back here, Travis. If you fall down, I won’t catch you.” 

He was still swinging his feet and he looked at ease with himself, “I was counting on that. Why don’t you get up here so we both fall? That way, your conscience stays clean.” I released a worn-out sigh. He’s worse than Harvey and Nique put together – my twin cousins. Twin cousins who wreak havoc at every opportunity they got. 

And they’re coming over on Saturday.

I groaned out loud. Just talk about timing. Travis seemed to be worried and tried to change my mind one more time, “The view is pretty.”

I just pursed my lips and crossed my arms so tightly that it probably looked glued together. I frankly couldn’t care less. He didn’t give up just yet and held out his hand again, “Come on, Avery. Come up here with me?”

“Don’t use that mushy tone with me.” He laughed jovially and replied, “I wasn’t using any tone. Just come up and I’ll help you.” He extended his hand.

“What good would come out of this nonsense? Please illuminate my mind, because I really can’t see anything.” He looked at me strangely and said, “Don’t you do things just for fun? Because you want to?”

“I do. For my sanity, please just go down – ”

“Give me an example?” he asked.

I took a deep breath to calm myself down. Okay, I told myself, No way in hell this guy would give up. I bit my lip. I’ll just talk him through it – I won’t climb that tree.

“Example of what?”

“Things you do for fun.” He shrugged, finally letting his arm rest at his side while the other remained clutching the upper branch. Bloody things I do for bloody fun. I gritted my teeth, “I bake cookies – ”


I stared up at his face, eyebrows pitched up and lips slightly parted. He looked surprised. “What’s with me baking cookies?” I asked in mystification.

“Nothing. I just didn’t expect you much as the kitchen type.” Then he became brighter – if that was even possible; he must be radiating sunlight himself. He said, “We should bake together sometime.” Dreadful images of the coming weekend flashed before my eyes: me baking in the kitchen and everyone from our small clan coming into our home and Travis magically appearing on the doorway. 

If Travis came personally to the house I will bake the cookies and myself.

I cleared my throat and said, “Yeah, sometime.” Sometime equals to not the weekend, right? Right? Right. “Please get down. It’s hard to keep my head up while talking to you, you know.”

“Then get up here. Please? I don’t bite.” He outstretched his hand yet again.

“I told you I won’t. What the hell is it with you and rule-breaking?” I wondered out loud. He retorted, “What’s with you and too much devotion to the rules?” he didn’t give me a chance to speak, “I’m not committing a crime here. Just get up.”

“No.” I said the word as harshly as I could. He didn’t even let me speak back there! Aaargh. This guy’s instinct for male domination goes back a long way. 

“Please?” he put his hands together in a pleading gesture and I can’t help myself, “Don’t do that. Hold on to something or you’ll bash your head down here.” One eyebrow of his came up and he said, “Aww. I love you, too.”

“On second thoughts, you’re free to commit suicide right about now.”

He laughed louder, his teeth glistening, “Avery, I was just teasing. No need to be so touchy. Just come up here, will you?” I scratched my head and bit my lip. “Arguing with you, Mr. Warner, gets tiresome.”

“Then don’t argue.” He simply stated.

“So, I just what?” I said sarcastically, “Climb up there?”

“Yeah, that’s all. Simple, isn’t it?” he grinned and then spoke in a thoughtful voice, “Unless you don’t know how to climb up. You do, don’t you?”

“Of course I do.” I automatically responded defensively and then I realized my mistake too late. He already had that devious grin on his perfect face and he said patronizingly, “Of course you do. You’re my genius. Silly me.” He paused but carried on in a single beat, “Why don’t you show me?”

I gritted my teeth together for the hundredth time and confessed, “I lied. I don’t know how. I never had, happy?”

“Marginally.” He nodded, “You can try now, I’ll teach you.”

“No, thank you. I appreciate it, but no.”

“It’s not like you not wanting to learn new things. Topics inside the classroom, no problem – straight As, not to mention the creepy thing you have with the calculating earlier. But outside? Now, that’s the million dollar question.” He tapped a finger against his chin for emphasis. 

I snapped.

He wants the adventurous Avery, fine. I’ll give him more than climbing pathetic trees.

I stepped forward and settled my foot on the nearby slab of rock, making sure I was stable while holding on the main trunk of the tree. I heard Travis’ laugh and I saw his offered hand next to my head. He said, “Grab hold. I’ll heave you up.”

“If you let go, I’m going to drag you down with me.” I threatened as I placed my free hand on his warm one. I felt goosebumps creep along my arm and I heard him say, “Deal. Come on up. I got you, love.” 

I blushed inexplicably and he heaved me up with my other arm around the trunk and my free foot on a particularly low branch. I twisted my torso around and sat on the sturdy branch next to him. I immediately held the upper branch for ensured balance, much like he was doing, and I tried to forget the whole ‘I got you, love’ nonsense. 

He smiled at me, “See? That wasn’t so hard.” Instead of answering, I pursed my lips and looked down, willing myself not to trigger my phobia to heights. I scooted closer to the main trunk, enough to feel my side pressed against it. Travis – the complete idiot – inched closer and I was now sandwiched between him and the trunk. Great.

“How long do we have to stay here again?” I asked. “Your call. We’re not so high up from the ground, but high enough.” He pointed to the fountain obscured on the other side of the gravel path, between the trees. “It looks prettier up here.” 

“Uh-huh. Prettier.” I muttered absently, trying not to let my fear show. I can’t look down. I’m practically frozen like a block of ice, which is not good. 

“Hey are you acrophobic?” he asked, sounding surprised. I just swallowed and nodded, not an eager for an elaboration any more than I could handle. He chuckled uncomfortably, “I have a fear of spiders, not that it matters. Why didn’t you say anything to me?” he now put his spare arm around my shoulder.

“You were pushing.” I whispered.

“Still, you should’ve said something in the first place.” He insisted as he moved more closely to me. I said without sparing a thought, “You can squish me if you want. I don’t care. I really don’t want to feel empty air around me at the moment.” He laughed slightly in my ear and I shivered. He moved even closer. 

“Better?” he said.

“Yeah,” I nodded, “Though, I think I’m still losing contact with reality.” 

“Why don’t you avoid looking down so you won’t feel the nausea or whatever the hell you’re feeling?” he reasoned out to me. I took a deep breath and looked up at the canopy of trees above our heads and instantly felt worse.

“No…” I bit my lip, “Didn’t work.”

“Oh, uhm…” he shifted his weight uncomfortably and tightened his hold on my shoulder – whether he was aware of it, I don’t know – and then he said, “Why don’t you tell me some trivia? Like, about polar bears, penguins, or something?”

“The body of a jellyfish is 99% water.” I blurted out without thinking. This seemed to distract him, “Really?” he said, eyes wide, “So what happens when they’re on land?”

“They die and rapidly disappear as the water in their body evaporates.” 

“Wow.” He said. “They’re like ninjas.” 

“Did you know penguins know how to fly millions of years ago?”

“No way.” He said, his eyes getting wider, “They’re swimmers.”

“Go ask the encyclopedia back home.” I felt my heartbeat slow down and I calmed down remarkably. He asked, “You recovered yet?”

I nodded slightly and responded, “Sure, I’ll survive.”

“Err, not that it’s bad, but why do you look frozen?”

“Huh? Oh, right. Yeah. Right.” 

Then without warning, he shook my shoulders. “Bastard!” I screamed, “If I died right there, I will haunt you forever.” I faced the tree trunk. “That would be interesting.” He said. I felt his chin on my shoulder and the goosebumps started again.

“Can you please evaporate?”

He laughed out loud and his breath tickled my neck. This is bad. This is very bad. When I felt him pull back, a cold wave of relief washed over me, “That was out of line.” I told him and I turned around. His face was overcome with curiosity and he was pursing his lips. My brow creased.

“Travis, you okay?”

“Can I ask your permission?”

“For what? I don’t have anything with me right now.” I reminded him in case he gets any ideas.

“Can I kiss you?”

I almost fell off the tree had it not been for the higher branch where I put my hand on. Travis said, “Whoa, careful – ”

“”Please don’t tell me I head what I think I heard.” I said, looking at the dead center of his eyes. He shrugged, smiling lopsidedly, “Just this one time?”

“You did it before. And what if there’s a paparazzo around?” This is not happening. I’m on a bloody tree with him. That in itself is too much for the ultimate power of reality. Maybe extraterrestrial beings had infiltrated the Earth to the point that the person in front of me – who’s very close to me – was actually an alien which has hidden or invisible gills, and maybe scales to match – 

“You look hit my lightning. I just want to kiss you and I’m not an alien.”

“Who said you were?” I muttered innocently. Did I just say my thoughts out loud? That’s ridiculous. 

“I heard you murmuring, Avery.”

Right. It was ridiculous. 

“I think we should get down now.” When he didn’t look convinced, I added, “It’s getting a bit dark.” My voice was feeble and his hand came up and cupped my face.

“Uhm…If somebody sees us…” he came closer to me and closer until I felt my head bump against the trunk.

“This is a joke, right? I’m dreaming, most probably…” he’s so close to me now that the tip of our noses touch and I saw his eyes shine from a smile. He said, “You’re nervous.”

“You’re out of your mind.” 

He laughed lightly and replied, “Yes, I am.” He tilted his head to the side and leaned even closer. “Uhm… we should…probably…get down, don’t you think?” My chest heaved as his other hand got mine and he placed it on his neck. More of this, I would surely die. I’m serious. He’s so close to me. I can’t even breathe. He smiled, showing his perfect set of white teeth. He didn’t even move back; he just stayed there. This is fucking ridiculous! It’s not fair – I can’t even breathe, for the love of God. I said with my uneven voice, 

“You’re torturing me. Go away.” His eyes gleamed from my remark and he raised a sexy eyebrow, “Do you want to torture to end?”

“Yeah…Go, now.”

He chuckled quietly and instead of backing off, he leaned an inch more and his lips caught mine. My heart stopped and all thought were zapped from my mind. He kissed me softly, his hand coming up to my hair to keep me in place. Then the kiss became different. His kissing turned deeper, his lips coaxing my mouth to open but they remained sealed shut. He bit my lower lip and my next breath drew in sharply.

“Stop that.”

“What? The biting thing?” he said in a rough one and he bit my lower lip yet again and murmured, “I think it’s nice.” Before I could respond, he kissed me again, pushing me over the edge of my sanity. I released a sated sigh against his perfect lips and he chuckled. I looked at him and he said, “See? Not that bad at all.” He looked at me and pursed his lips hungrily. He said, his gaze darkening,

“If I’m not mistaken, you’re more than up for round two.”


On a nearby tree invisible from view, the lone paparazzo silently took picture after picture. He couldn’t stop grinning. Money! he thought with relish, and he could already see the headlines, The son of the president of Gedi Institute with his one and only love or something like that. He didn’t care. All he knows is that huge magazine companies would be clamoring for his pictures. He smiled wider.

Today is heyday.


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