December 2, 2023

๐Ÿ’œ TALES
OF
THE
HEART ๐Ÿ’œ

๐ŸŒบ Chapter 23๐ŸŒบ

The three of us have decided to grab our dinner in a classic restaurant in Paris. The waiter leads us to our table, a round one with three chairs.

Once we settle at it, Nevaeh gasps in delight as she scans the menu. “They have cheeseburgers.”

Max rolls his eyes. “We’re here at a classic restaurant in Paris, and you’re going to order a cheeseburger?”

Nevaeh pouts. “Come on, Max. You love it too.”

I’m still watching their interactions with wonder. Indeed, they seem close.

“What would you like to order, Miss?” the waiter asks me, while my eyes are glued to the picture of salmon risotto on the menu.

“I’ll have a salmon risotto, and…” I pause, scanning the lists of the drinks. “Iced lychee tea, please.” I smile.

The waiter nods, jotting down my order before turning to Nevaeh.

Nevaeh lets out a long sigh, as if she’s still contemplating what to eat. “I guess I’ll order the drink first. I’d like to have…” she falters, and a few seconds pass in silence, her eyes still not leaving the menu.

After about ten seconds without her decision, Max says to the waiter in an annoyed tone, “One sweet tea for her.”
Nevaeh snaps her head toward Max, who rolls his eyes again.

“What?” Max shrugs. “You always take forever scanning the drinks just to order a sweet tea in the end. Every. Single. Time. Whatever the food is. Dammit, Nevaeh, why did you even bother to look at the menu?”

Nevaeh scoffs, earning a chuckle from Max, who suddenly stands up.

“I’m going to the restroom. It’s a cheeseburger and Coke for me.” With that said, he walks off, leaving the two of us with the waiter.

Nevaeh sighs again. “I’ll have a cheeseburger too.”

“Very well,” the waiter says. “The burgers are customized. How would you like to have it?”Nevaeh’s mouth drops open.

“Oh.” She flips the pages of the menu again, and realization crosses her expression as she finds many options to customize the burger.

“Well then, I’d like my burger with beef, cheddar cheese and gluten-free bun. With mixed greens and tomatoes. The sauce would be ฦแปฅลฅลฅermilk ranch, and please add this sauteed mushrooms for me,” she says. “And french fries.”

“Alright.” The waiter quickly jots down everything she says. “What about the other one?”

I’m thinking that Nevaeh would wait until Max comes back from the restroom, but then she says, “For him, it would be a burger with beef… and pepper jack cheese… and whole wheat.” She taps her finger on her chin, biting her lower lip.

“Please include mixed greens and sauteed red peppers, and for the sauce… It would be the barbeque one. As for the fries, it’s the same. French fries.”

The waiter jots down the order again, nodding a few times.

“And he’d also like to have smoked bacon as an extra topping, please,” Nevaeh adds.

“Noted,” the waiter says. “Thank you for ordering. Please wait for a while until the food is delivered.” He’s about to leave when Nevaeh calls.

“Wait, no pickles for him, please,” she urges, as if she just forgot that important part. “And please make the smoked bacon really really extra, like, a lot.”

The waiter nods again before finally leaving.

And I’m at a loss for words.

Just in time, Max arrives back at our table, flopping into his seat. “Did you order it?”

“Yeah,” Nevaeh says before explaining the details of his order, and Max nods in approval.

“Perfect.” He smirks.

My heart sinks, and I wonder why. This is a simple thing, but it hurts me to know that I don’t have any single clue about what Nevaeh was saying.

I know that Max loves cheeseburger, but I didn’t know that he prefers pepper jack to cheddar cheese. I didn’t know that he likes sauteed red peppers in it. I didn’t know that he hates pickles and that he has a huge craving for smoked bacon.
And I’m not happy with that.

I’m so confused. Am I really not happy with that, or with the fact that Nevaeh knows all of it?

Even Max knows about her habits. It seems like they know what’s inside each other’s minds without having to tell the other about it.

“So how was the field trip?” Nevaeh smiles, resting her chin on both of her palms.

“It was cool, wasn’t it, Luna?” Max says, snapping me out of my trance.

I’ve just realized that I’ve been staring at Nevaeh longer than I should. “Oh, yeah. It was great.”

“Luna practically mastered the galleries as well as their masterpieces, especially the paintings,” Max says. “She loves them. She’s really good at painting.”

Nevaeh’s eyes widen as she stares at me with amazement. “That’s so cool. I’ve always wanted to be able to paint, but I แนขลซรงฦ™ at that.” She laughs — her laughter sounds so angelic.

I give her a soft smile. “I’m not that good, actually. My brother is the real artist.”

Max shakes his head at me, his stare firm as he mouthes ‘No ,’ as if telling me that I was entirely wrong, but then he shifts his attention back to Nevaeh.

“You haven’t told me how you managed to get here,” Max says.

Nevaeh huffs. “What do you think? I’ve got Dad’s permission.”

Max raises his eyebrows, throwing her a lazy stare. “Right. What tricks did you use this time?”

She scoffs, crossing her arms on her chest.

“Well, even though Dad knew that you’d moved from Australia to New York, he still didn’t allow me to move from Texas so that I could attend Royal Heights as well. I kinda gave him an ultimatum. You know, at this point, he would accept anything as long as I don’t leave the house.” A devilish smirk creeps on her lips.

I listen to her every word, not missing how my heart drops when I hear that she was planning to attend our school after knowing that Max had moved there.

“When you talked to me on the phone a few days ago while I was speaking with Sienna, you said that you would have this field trip in Paris, and I got so excited.”

She grins. “I always wanted to visit this city again, but Dad seemed quite busy these days. Besides, I wanted to have a vacation where I could explore this city
freely without him always worrying about me for every little thing.” Slight irritation fills her voice, but the smile on her face lets me know that she loves her Dad very much.

“I begged him to let me fly here to see you and have a little vacation as a weekend getaway,” she continues. “It’s supposed to be no big deal, because I just had to skip one day at school. Then I promised him that I would drop Royal Heights.”

Max raises one of his eyebrows and says to her in a mocking tone, “And you managed to convince him?”

Nevaeh shrugs, a hint of proudness in her voice as she says, “Come on, Max. He definitely allowed me to come here because he knew that you would look out for me. So, hell yeah, I did manage to convince him.” Her smile is so big, from ear to ear.

My mouth hangs open, my thoughts going crazy inside my mind.

Navaeh wanted to move to our school, all the way from Texas, the moment she knew that Max had come back from Australia.

She’s close to Max’s family. Well, at least I know that she’s close to Sienna.

Even though Nevaeh’s dad didn’t allow her to move to New York, he trusts Max to take care of her.

I swallow hard, the horrible feeling stirring inside my heart becoming worse.
Why am I feeling like this? I shouldn’t have this kind of restlessness.

Nevaeh and Max are really close. They’re best friends, perhaps.

But then, what if they’re more than best friends? What if they are a thing, and all this time, they couldn’t be together because of the long distance between our country and Australia?

What if this is the moment for Max to introduce me, his close friend– Right, am I his close friend? I guess so — to his significant other?

Max chuckles, shaking his head in disbelief after listening to Nevaeh’s explanation, while she just giggles.

And I am lost. Completely lost.

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