Melissa

Morning came, and I could not be much happier, waking up with Bibi. It was refreshing, and I felt powered up. Maybe they are right when they say that argument is healthier in a relationship.

If Bibi did not confront me yesterday, I would not have released all the anger bottled up in me. First, it was because I failed my exams. I had worked hard, given all I had, but still did not make it to the expected grades, and by that, I missed the chance to get a scholarship.

My biggest desire, and dream, was to attend university and become a great Content Manager & Content Strategist.

But then, all that crashed down, and here I am, working every day, saving so that I can get myself to school. Unlike other mornings where I had to curse for it arriving so soon, this was different. I felt refreshed and energized.

I offered Bibi to accompany her while selling the porridge, but as usual, she refused. I had no choice but to go on with my jobs for the day.

¨There is my handsome Greek god, ready for me with my charms. ” Jessica whistled lowly, rubbing her hands together, a conniving smile on her face as she faced past my shoulder.

Following her gaze, my heart missed a few beats as I turned around. For some reason, excitement and anticipation whirled inside me once my eyes landed on Max, who entered the café

Dressed in simple all-black, which I noticed he wore a lot – even in this cold, he still managed to pull the looks that could make every male bow their heads with shame.

I still could not understand why this man seemed to always have my attention without trying. I thought it had to do with the looks, but I have met quite a share of good-looking men, and none of them got a second glimpse from me.

Then why him?

Ever since we met on the bus, I have been curious, wondering, and thinking about him. Unlike the stories I have read in the novels about the handsome guy looking all dark but hot, Max is nothing like that. In fact, he looked like a prince charming, or better yet, an angel.

He exuded an approachable aura coupled with friendliness with the addition of charmingness. But I knew better than to judge a book by its cover. But then it happened his head snapped towards me, and saw me.

Those beautiful eyes again that always manage to make my heart stop found mine, and without meaning to, I blush immediately.

¨Oh my, he is looking at me! tell me, Mel, do I look sexy enough?¨ Jessicas voice broke through the trance, and I frowned, her words finally registering what she just said.

Taking a good look at her, I frowned even more, seeing how she had already unbuttoned a few buttons of her top. Her massive cleavage was showing off. My eyes trail to her face only to see that she has already retouched her makeup, looking all seductive.

¨Why would you need to look sexy?¨ I asked, surprised at how angry I sounded. Jessica might have noticed it as she opened her mouth to speak, only to be interrupted by Clair, our workmate.

¨Yeah, Jess, whats with all the sudden makeover?¨

¨For that hot hunk, of course,¨

¨You do have a boyfriend, remember?¨ I cut sharply, suddenly having this urge to stop her from going to meet him.

¨Oh, come on, Melisa, yes, I have a boyfriend, not a husband, and with how things are going, the future is uncertain for the two of us. I won sit down and wait for the future to unfold. I might as well have a plan B.¨ My ears almost bled upon hearing Jess absurd words.

There is no way her words sounded like someone who loves her boyfriend to the point of going behind her parents back.

¨Well, don waste your breath. He already has a girlfriend.¨ I blurted those ridiculous words without even thinking, and my eyes went wide before going back to normal. The shocked one was Jess.

¨And how would you know he does have a girlfriend?¨ She asked, crossing her arms across her chest, making her cleavage show even more. When I did not answer, she narrowed her eyes at me.

¨Are you saying all this because you are jealous that he speaks to me more than you?¨ Her question got me off guard as I was not expecting it. Slightly quirking my eyebrow, I asked.

¨You mean talking to you more about getting my number? What is there to jealousy about Jess?¨ As she was also not expecting such a comeback from me, she froze and then looked away in embarrassment.

Serves you right.

¨Okay, enough of your baseless banter. Melissa, go take his order while Jess, some dishes need cleaning in the kitchen. ” Claire broke whatever tension was there with her orders.

¨Wait, why do I need to be the one cleaning the dishes?¨ I heard Jessica complained but only rolled my eyes, picking up the pen and notebook, before heading towards his table.

¨Took you long enough to come, beautiful.¨ Max spoke before I could say anything without even taking his eyes off the laptop.

¨How did you know it was me?¨ I asked, biting my lip to stop myself from smiling at that endearment.

¨And the name is Melissa.¨ I added quickly. Not that I minded being called beautiful, but we were not lovers yet…

Wait, did I just say yet? My eyes went wide at that thought, and I am glad I did not say that loud.

¨You do not like being called beautiful?¨ He asked, finally raising his head to look at me and was again paralysed by his gaze.

His lips curved upward in a smile.

¨You are beautiful, you know.¨ Max said, and my cheeks burned a million times ever since we met.

People have called me many times beautiful but did not have the same effect as this man, it turned my mind into mush, and it felt like ants were tickling my heart.

Get a grip, Melissa. I shouted internally at myself, hoping to get back my bearing.

¨I still prefer my name. That term is quiet…¨ I cleared my throat once I found my voice.

¨You don like it?¨ he cut in.

Hell yes! I loved it, but I was not going to tell him that!

¨Then what about, princess?¨ His voice snapped me out of wool-gathering again, this time causing me to roll my eyes at him.

¨I am way too far from a princess.¨

¨Then beautiful it is, especially when you roll your eyes like that. Aren you afraid they might get stuck if you do it more often?¨ My mouth opens in surprise, but I quickly close it.

Not in anger but feeling bashfulness. I was about to unleash my come back, when he spoke again.

¨And to answer your earlier question, I knew it was you when I did not smell strong perfume. You smell…different.¨ I narrowed my eyes at his statement and asked in curiosity.

¨Different? What do you mean by I smell different?¨

”Unlike your friend who smells like she has taken a dip in perfume, you smell fresh, soothing. Your fragrance is sweet; even if I had not seen the bloom, it couldn be anything but a rose.¨ Despite him sitting while I was standing, his words alone were enough to make me feel like I was locked in a room and it was too hot for me to handle.

How could his words alone burn through my skin, making me feel hot and out of breath? I felt flustered, my legs growing weak, and my hold on the notebook tightened.

This guy is dangerous, despite looking like an angel.

Get a grip on yourself, Mel. I internally yelled at myself. Finally, letting out a shaky breath, my eyes scanned everything in the room, scouring for a distraction to save me from more embarrassment. It then landed on his laptop.

¨Land?¨ Oh! I hated how breathy my voice sounded, but I did not mind as he finally blinked, releasing me from the shackles of his magical words.

He blinked his eyes in confusion, clearly not understanding what I was talking about.

¨The lands,¨ I repeated. This time pointing at his laptop on the table.

¨Yes, what about them?¨ He asked, eyeing me with a mischievous smirk, clearly knowing that I was trying to distract myself.

¨You are looking for one? or you are doing a project?¨ I asked, gripping the notebook hard against my chest.

¨Yes, but it has proven to be difficult finding a good one. The good ones are not for sale.¨ He explained, frowning a bit, and it made me uncomfortable watching his distressed face.

¨I am sure you will get one,¨ I tried to smile, assuring him. But only the heavens knew how much my inside was in a wreck. I looked closely at one of the lands and recognized one.

¨That one on the right looks rich,¨ I said, pointing at it.

¨It does, but the owner does not want to sell it.¨

¨Owh…¨ I trailed, battling with my mind if I should help, but decided against it. Clearing my throat, I asked, trying to sound professional.

¨Should I get you the usual or…¨

¨Please…¨

Without wasting any second, I darted towards the counter without looking back. Giving the chef the order, I stumbled outside the shop and released the breath I did not know I was holding.

I sighed in relief as the cold wind assaulted my skin.

What the heck is happening to me?

Why is he affecting me so much?

They were only words, but aflame

Why is he affecting me so much?

They were only words, but aflame they were against my skin. His voice was like music to my ear, hypnotizing my senses and gripping my soul, igniting my internal engine.

After inhaling breaths to calm me down, I turned around, ready to go back, when I bumped into a wall. I hissed, raising my hand to rub my forehead when I heard someone curse.

Wait. That is not right, the wall was a person, and that person was Max.

What is he doing outside here?

¨Sorry, did I hurt you?¨ He asked, holding both my arms to stabilize me from falling. I gasped in surprise, not expecting him outside.

¨No, no, no…I…I am alright…what…why are you here? I mean, out here?¨ I stammered, trying to get away from his hold, but he did not budge. I looked only to see his eyebrow creased into a frown.

¨Are you alright? You look flustered and sweaty. Are you sick?¨ He asked, concerned as his hand felt my forehead.

¨No, no. I am alright, just tired…¨ I held his arm, intending to remove them from my forehead, when that zing happened again, making me freeze.

All the tension, the sturm und drang, I have been trying to rid off outside, came back tenfold.

I suddenly felt helpless and overwhelmed that I had the urge to cry.

What is happening to me? And why am I so sensitive today?

Looking up to meet his gaze, I swallowed, trying to take a step back, but his hand still caged me, allowing me to move not.

”I am alright. Let go of me. ” I said, and somehow I felt agitated by him. I was about to step back again, but it was too late. Because at that moment, something I dreaded happened.

”Oh! Look at you two, so cute. Finally, I get to meet you! ” A very painfully familiar voice chirped from behind.

”Bibi! ” I whispered, my eyes dilating in horror.

No, this can be happening.

Not today of all the days, please.

But as much as I prayed, I could not escape, not stop the inevitable.

No, Melissa, you have to do something!

But, was there anything that could be done? Unless the world comes to an end this instant or the ground swallows me up.

The description of my so-called boyfriend to Bibi was so detailed that even a blind man could recognize him once he regained his eyes. And my Bibi is no fool not to pick up the similarity, especially when she was so obsessed with me having a love life.

Even after confessing everything in our little argument yesterday still, she did not believe me.

All I could do at present was look at Max with pleading eyes, but only to realize how intimate our stance looked at the moment.

One of his hands held my arm firmly, while the other was in my hand, holding it.

Wow, I am so toast.

”Don panic, please, ” I whispered at him with a pleading look. Max just stared at me, with eyes filled with confusion.

”Its you! ” Bibi repeated, pointing at him. The poor guy just looked at her dazed.

”You are my Habibis boyfriend! ”

Oh God! take me now.

I closed my eyes and wished the ground would just open and swallow me.

”Its you! Of course, those eyes and good-looking just the way she described you. ” She had already pushed me aside, her wrinkled hands, scattered with lines and sunspots, all over max, and I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from laughing.

As much as I knew I was finished, it didn stop the situation from looking funny. The way Max looked shocked, confused, and rooted in his spot, unable to move, was a sight to behold.

His eyes were wide with shock, his gaze darting between Bibi and me, and I had to look away from him, embarrassment burning.

Finally, getting enough space to step back, Maxs face marred with stupor, his lips turning to a scowl.

”Wait, maam. Did you just say boyfriend? ” he asked, his expression changing as if the boyfriend was the worst word ever.

Yeah, I am so done.

”Yes! You are her boyfriend. I am sorry if I haven introduced myself yet. I am just so excited. I have been pleading with my Habibi to let me meet you, but she kept giving me these silly excuses. ” Bibi said.

”Sorry, maam, but I think you got the wrong- ”

”Wrong name. ” I cut him short, holding unto his left arm so tight like my life depended on him.

Which was true.

I was done watching my distraction from the third person point of view and instantly found myself at Hazes – Max – side. I felt his questionable gaze, but I had to save the three of us from the infamy.

”Well, you see, he does not like the word boyfriend. He claims that it sounds childish, right… ” I looked at Max pleadingly, imploring with my eyes that he goes along with my act and I would explain everything later.

”Love, ” I said, but it came out as a question.

Love seriously? Of all the pet names I could think of, it had to be Love?

”Listen, I don … ” I quickly pinched him hard on his arm, making him flinch, but still, my hold on him was firm and tight.

”Come on, love, no need to argue like children because of that name anyway, we are still young, and by the way, you smell so nice, ” I said, with a nervous light laugh, pulling his arm a little bit lower.

”Just play along if you want to save your honour and mine at least, ” I whispered, but he didn listen at all.

”Grandma, I think you… ” he angled his head towards me.

”Grandma? ” Bibi cut him short, her hands on her waist, with a deadly glare directed at Max.

I couldn help but thank the heavens for her saving me from what that man was about to say.

”How disrespectful of you, just because I have white hair gives you the right to call me granny? ”

”So sorry, am so sorry. I didn mean… ”

”Oh silly, ” Bibi waved him away with a soft chuckle.

”Come down, my boy, I was just pulling your legs. ” she continued. I pulled him closer to me again.

”You don get it, do you? If you don play along, you will get the mortification of your life. ” I whispered, again in between my teeth, then let out a shaky laugh for Bibi.

”Oh, where are manners, I haven even asked your name, and Habibi here seems to have no intention of introducing both of us. ” Bibis excited voice reminded us of our situation.

”You can call me Bibi, this girls only shining amour, and you are?¨ Max hesitated for a while that I had to give him another pinch.

¨Maxwell, but you can call me is Max. ” he answered, giving out a nervous smile.

¨Max, such a lovely name for a handsome fella, I must say my dear Habibi has found herself-¨

¨Bibi,¨ I warned, immediately stopping whatever claptrap she was about to rave. Bibi only laughed, waving her hands.

¨Oh you, shy thing, now that you are in the neighbourhood, how about you come and see where your girlfriend stays.¨ Bibi suggested, and my eyes circled in horror.

¨NO!¨ We both yelled, dread filling my being.

”I mean… ” I scratched my head, trying to come up with a solution to cover up our lie – my lie.

”You are right, but maybe next time, Bibi, Max here has a lot to attend to. ” I struggled with my explanation.

”Yes, maam, I am a little bit busy, ” Max added, and I was relieved that he was actually saving me instead of the other way round.

”Too busy for my daughter? ” Bibis attitude shifted a hundred eighty degrees, with her eyes narrowed dangerously at Max.

Poor guy didn even know Bibi was only acting. But I could not intervene as she would notice something was off.

”What do you think of her? ” she cocked her eyebrow.

Wow, her voice was now raising, attracting unwanted attention. I was just glad we were not inside the café.

”What kind of a boyfriend are you? You can even get time for your girl? ” I had to close my eyes and start reciting, Oh Mother of God, save us, sinners.

”Okay, I will join you. I really didn mean to offend you. ” Maxs blurted out, making my eyes go wide in shock.

¨What!¨ I exclaimed, still unable to believe what I heard. Before I could even say a thing, he had already bent down and felt his warm breath in my ear, raising the goosebumps.

¨We really are going to talk.¨

”Great! ” Bibi jumped in excitement as if Max was her boyfriend. She shoved me aside and grabbed Maxs arm, interlocking with hers, leading the way happily while leaving me behind.

Did she just replace me with a stranger?

Oh, it was going to be a long day!

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