December 5, 2023


🌺 Chapter 24🌺

Today, there’s no schedule for the field trip — we are allowed to go sightseeing. Nevaeh has this idea to go visit the Eiffel Tower.

After we have lunch in a restaurant with a splendid view of the entire city, we step into the park near the Eiffel Tower.

Nevaeh’s laughter echoes in my ear as she whirls around, recording a video for her Instagram story. She looks so happy, and a sigh leaves my lips.

My mind was debating whether I should spend today with her and Max, because I didn’t want to be the third wheel.

She’s here to spend a vacation with Max — they might haven’t seen each other for a long time because of the long-distance — and I don’t want to be a fly on their wall.

“Watch where you’re going, Nevaeh. You don’t want to bump into people while doing the silly video,” Max mutters, shoving his hands into his P@ŋts pockets as he walks past me, approaching her.

Even though he might be a little harsh sometimes, but I can see how much he cares about her.

Nevaeh laughs after she finishes taking her video, and excitement fills her voice as she asks Max what he thinks about it. Max doesn’t say anything as he stares at her phone, but he nods in approval.

Now that my eyes dart on the two of them standing close together, I realize that I haven’t seen anything more beautiful.
Nevaeh is beautiful and sweet. Joyful. Lively.

Max might seem a little bit intimidating for anyone who meets him for the first time, but he has such a good heart. Besides, he’s hot and everything a girl desires.

They are perfect for each other.

I swallow another lump in my throat.

Now that this feeling keeps torturing me, I realize how foolish I am for looking at Max in the way that a friend shouldn’t do. And for having this kind of feeling that a friend shouldn’t have.

He has done so much for me, and I’ve crossed the line, thinking that there’s something between us.

Come on, Luna. How could you be so greedy? How could you be so stupid?

When I approach them, Max picks up a call. “Mom,” he says, walking off to a less noisy area. “Nevaeh? Don’t worry about her. She’s with me.”

My heart sinks a bit. Even his Mom cares so much about Nevaeh. That’s good for her, because Max’s family is one of the loveliest people.

I shouldn’t feel like this.
I shouldn’t be sad when everyone is happy.

While Max is speaking with his Mom, I can only stare at his back, watching as he walks away. It’s when Nevaeh calls me that I’m snapped back into reality.

“Luna?” Her brows furrow as she stares at me with concern. “What’s the matter? Are you okay?” she asks. “You look pale.”

I abruptly shake my head. “No, I’m okay. I just remembered something important,” I stumble upon my words, blurting out anything I can find in my head. “But it’s no big deal. It’s nothing urgent.”Her face falls.

“I’m sorry that I wasn’t being thoughtful when I suggested coming here. Do you want to go somewhere else? Is there any place–”

“No, no,” I quickly cut her off. Damn, Luna, why do you have to make her worried? “I love it here.”

Nevaeh sighs in relief before a warm smile touches her lips. “Well then, let’s take a lot of pictures.” She giggles, gesturing for me to take a spot in the park that has the perfect background of the Eiffel Tower. “I’ll take your pictures first.”

Since I have to play along to hide my feelings, I hand her my phone and stand in front of her, plastering a smile.

“Say cheese,” she says before snapping a picture of me.

She’s so nice. One would be a fool to not love her.

After she snaps a few photos of me posing in front of the Eiffel Tower — there are not many different poses because I’m a terrible model — I turn my head, only to find Max already standing nearby, watching me with a look that can only be described as… adoration.

Not again. Not that look again. It’s one of the reasons why my mind messes with me. Max and I are nothing but friends. I shouldn’t have Ɓụťťerflies going crazy inside my tummy.

He has already got an angel by his side.

“Here you go, Luna.” Nevaeh smiles, handing me back my phone. “The pictures are really pretty. You’re so pretty.”

My cheeks heat up. Her compliment makes me blush. It’s really something to have a beautiful girl like her say that to me.

“I’m gonna go buy some drinks,” she says.

“Do you need anything?”

I shake my head. “No, I’m good. Thanks, Nevaeh.”

While she walks off, Max strides toward me. Once he halts in front of me, a smirk creeps on his lips. “Let’s take a selfie, shall we?”

He takes out his phone and snaps a few selfies of us with the background of the Eiffel Tower.

My heart thuds as I feel his body close to me. I can smell his masculine signature scent. These days, it’s the scent that feels like home for me.

But it shouldn’t be. Max is someone else’s home. Not mine.

I shouldn’t even be here to ruin their moment.

I hold my breath as Max pulls me closer to him, still taking our selfies, his hand on my waist, my head against his chest.
I must be dreaming, because I can even feel his heart beating hard against his ribcage.

Why? It thumps so wildly — it’s crazy.

When I spot Nevaeh walking back toward us with a can of soda in her hand, I abruptly push Max’s chest that he stumbles back. He looks startled, and a frown touches his lips.
I can only look away.

“Damn, this drink tastes so good when you’re thirsty.” Nevaeh sighs in contentment after gulping her soda. Her phone beeps, and when she checks it, she squints at the screen.

“This guy is persistent,” she mumbles, making me raise my eyebrows in question. “I shouldn’t go to any party, should I?”

“Party?” Max’s voice echoes before I can even comprehend what Nevaeh was saying. He sounds alert.

“Yeah.” Nevaeh shrugs, her eyes still on her phone, reading the message from whoever has texted her. “There’s this guy who sat next to me in the airplane, and he asked me to go to his party tonight. He celebrates with his friends–”

“You gave your number to a stranger?” Max cuts her off, sounding pissed.

Nevaeh finally looks up from her phone, rolling her eyes at Max. “He’s not entirely a stranger. We talked on the plane. He’s from Texas too, but he’s studying here in Paris. Jesus, Max, I’m allowed to have friends, am I not?”Max’s jaw tightens.

“Nevaeh, he could be some jackass. A 16 years old girl flying alone from the states to Paris for a vacation? Damn, you’re a Fůçƙing perfect prey. He could even be a criminal.”

Nevaeh glares back at him. “I know, okay? I know how to be cautious. I’m not planning to go to his party. I’m not that clueless. Have you watched that movie starring Liam Neeson about traffic in girls? God, I’m not looking forward to that.”

I swallow. I remember that movie, and chills run through my body from thinking about how those things can happen to many girls. It can happen anywhere.
Max still looks very much unhappy, eyeing Nevaeh with a skeptical look.

“You shouldn’t have given him your number in the first place. He can track you from one call–”

“Max,” Nevaeh snaps. “You’ve watched too many thriller movies. You start to sound like my Dad–”

“Nevaeh,” Max hisses. “I’m being serious. Block his number.”

Nevaeh’s eyes widen in shock. “What?”

Max steps forward to snatch Nevaeh’s phone out of her hand, but she immediately retreats. “Okay, fine,” she shouts. “Gosh.”

She blocks the guy’s number and shoves her phone back into her sling bag.

“Happy now?” Nevaeh rolls her eyes again, putting her hands on her hips. “You don’t have to be overprotective. You never changed.”

Right. It’s just Max’s nature to protect a girl.

He never changed, she said. Max has always cared about her. I can see clearly that he loves her.

And I curse myself again at how selfish I am to ever think of him as someone more than just a friend.

I flop myself into the bed, still wearing my bathrobe after getting out of the shower. Today’s sightseeing has been tiring — the energy in my body seems to have been drained out. Thank God we’ve decided to take a rest for a while in the hotel.
My heart is tired too. It’s tired of Max. It hurts every time I see the two of them together.

It’s even more painful than what I felt when I first saw Tyler and Mikaela together. How is this possible?

Being the third wheel indeed feels horrible, especially when you have a strong feeling toward one of them. I wonder if this is what Rory felt every time she spent time with me and Tyler.

Perhaps, this is my karma, after all.
How am I going to face Max after this? Would my heart be able to suppress all these feelings inside me?

One thing for sure is that I won’t spend time with them anymore tonight, for dinner or whatever it is, because I want to give them quality time.

My phone, which now lies on the bed, rings. I lean over and see Mom calling me, so I press the speaker on.

“Hi, sweetheart,” Mom’s voice echoes in the air, filled with excitement. “How’s Paris?”Hearing her voice brings a smile to my face. “Everything is great here,” I say even though something else is definitely bothering me. “It’s such a beautiful city. I went sightseeing today.”

And so I tell her about how I’ve spent my day, leaving Max out of it, because if it ever reaches Dad and Aiden, they will go ballistic. As for Nevaeh, I just tell Mom that she’s a new friend that I’ve recently grown close to.

“That’s wonderful,” Mom says, sounding happy for me. “Have you got any plans with her again tonight?”

I sigh, my heart sinking again from thinking that I have to get myself out of the picture. “Not yet.”

“Well, I might have something for you two,” she says, making me wonder. “Do you remember my best friend, Harper Jones?”

“Yes. Of course, I do, Mom.” Harper Jones is a famous designer, who is close to Mom. She has designed bags that are specially made for Mom.

“I’ve never seen her again for quite some time because of our hectic schedules,” Mom says. “She’ll be having a fashion show tonight in Paris, which she has invited me to, but you know that I can’t be there because I have a show to judge here.”

Okay. I’m starting to get the idea.

“She will be so happy if you come to see her. You can bring Nevaeh to her fashion show,” Mom says in a cheerful tone. “But, of course, you don’t have to do it if you’ve already had another plan, honey. I was just wondering if you could go there on my behalf.”

“I’ll do it,” I say straightaway. “I miss her too. I’ll go to her fashion show tonight.”
Harper is one of the nicest people on earth — she used to dress me up when I was little, and a smile touches my lips as I remember that moment.

I’ll go alone. Nevaeh and Max will be spending time together tonight.

God, why does my heart break just because of that thought? My vision even starts to become blurry with tears.
You can’t be like this, Luna. You can’t.

“Oh, sweetheart, that’s wonderful,” Mom exclaims with delight. “She would be thrilled to hear about this.”

After chatting for a few more minutes with Mom, we end the call, saying ‘ I love you’ to each other.

I’m about to check my wardrobe to find what I’m going to wear later when my phone buzzes again.

Max has texted me.

📱Max: What are you doing tonight?

📱Me: I’m going to meet my Mom’s friend. She’s in Paris now, and we haven’t seen each other for quite a while.

📱Max: What time? Do you need a ride?

His question makes me type a reply so quickly.

📱Me: No, it’s okay. She will pick me up.

Yes, I lie.

A minute passes, and there’s no response from him. I shouldn’t do this, but my curiosity kicks in that I type the question lingering in my head.

📱Me: What about you? What’s your plan tonight?

📱Max: I’m just going to send Nevaeh to the airport. She’s going back home tonight.
That information startles me, making me frown.

📱Me: Why so soon?

Max: Tomorrow will be her Dad’s birthday.

📱Max: As much as she wants to spend her weekend in Paris, she wants to spend time with him tomorrow.

I see. Nevaeh is such a family girl. I would do the same if I were in the same situation, though.

A sigh leaves my lips as I get out of my bed. Then again, my phone beeps, but instead of Max’s text, I see Aiden’s.

📱Aiden: I’ve heard from Mom that you’re going to Harper’s fashion show.

Everything that I tell Mom indeed travels fast into Dad’s and Aiden’s ears. There can’t be a secret in our house.

📱Me: Yup. That’s right.

📱Aiden: Be careful. No after-party. Don’t forget to go back straight to the hotel after the show.

I shake my head in disbelief, thinking about my protective big brother.

My, oh my. Roger that.


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