the conversation you had with ailee made you feel uneasy.
you walked back to your apartment with your mind still drifting on how you are going to face ailee tomorrow after what she told you.
you opened your door with your keys. you turned the lights on, and an unexpected figure in your couch freaked you out.
"gosh. you scared me!" you said, seeing krystal on your couch with her legs crossed.
yeah. you forgot she already has the key to your apartment.
"what took you so long?" she asked.
"i... uh... had a quick meeting with ailee in the library regarding the project."
"quick meeting? amber, it's already quarter to seven. your last class ends at four in the afternoon, right?"
"yeah. but ailee and i finished the outline of the project. we lost track of the time."
"lost track of the time?" krystal looked sceptic. "you could've at least texted me. did you enjoy talking to her?"
"well, at first i thought she was boring," you said, trying to be honest with your answer. "but it turned out that she's okay."
she rolls her eyes. "that's not the right answer, amber."
"ahm... my phone's dead. sorry. i wasn't able to text you," you said, which was the truth. "we just talked about the project. don't worry."
"oh. so, you enjoyed talking to her..."
you opened your mouth to speak but didn't continue because you don't know what the 'right' answer is.
"well, we didn't really talk about other stuff," you said. "it's purely about the project."
"are you sure?" asked krystal. you nodded right away. "were you nice to her?"
you creased your forehead. "shouldn't i be nice to her? she's my project partner."
krystal rolls her eyes again. "tsk. wrong answer."
"umm... what do you mean by nice?"
"nice, like how you were treating hyojung before?"
"ah. no. no. of course not. i've reserved that now for my girlfriend only."
krystal's lips tugs up a bit but she repressed it. "are you sure?"
"you better, or else that ailee girl will be dead."
you laughed, but you felt the sweat coming off your forehead at the same time. you don't think you should tell her about what ailee told you earlier.
krystal shifted her crossed legs over the other. "you better be careful around her. that girl has a crush on you."
"hm? how did you know...?"
"i just know. it's too obvious," she said, giving you her dagger looks. "you seem to be aware that yourself. did she already confess to you?"
"no," you said, shaking your head hard. "i just found it out from you. don't worry. i'll be sure to be careful around her."
krystal brought her hands to her temples and massaged it. "aish. just as i thought, i would have to endure a lot of girl-problems with you."
you went to her and bent down on the floor. "hey. there's no need to worry. i am behaving well. i promise."
"it doesn't matter," said krystal, giving her hands willingly to you when you held them. "i trust you, okay? it's just that i don't trust those es around you. and i bet that ailee girl is still smiling ear-to-ear in her room until now for having a library date with you. ugh."
you smiled. the jealous krystal in front of you looks cute.
"i can tell her about us, if that will stop you from worrying," you suggested.
krystal stared at you. you could sense that for a second that she thought it was a good idea. however, reality kicked in again.
"no. it's too dangerous for you."
"you're worrying too much. kai can't beat me, you know."
"i know he can't. it's not what i'm worried about," she said, looking down at your hands playing with each other. "i'm worried about your studies, your scholarship. you can't just throw it away because you beat a good-for-nothing-overly-vain-spoiled-brat. he's not worth it, amber."
"i know... i know..."
"just promise me you'll avoid him..."
"i already promised you that."
"i need an assurance again, amber."
"okay. okay." you kissed the back of her hand. "i promise my princess to stay out of his way. is that okay now?"
she finally smiles. "good."
"how long were you waiting here?" you asked.
"gosh. i'm sorry," you said, kneeling up to hug her. "are you hungry now?"
she nodded against your chest. "what's for dinner?"
"i'll cook anything the princess wishes..."
krystal looks away first, as if thinking, and went back to look at you. "mmm. let's do your favourite."
"do you know what my favourite is?"
"aside from pringles? still trying to find that out."
"this is my favourite," you said, touching her lips with the tip of your finger. "i've been thinking of these all day."
krystal's face drew a sweet smile. "you're kidding me..."
"i'm not," you said, biting your lip as it felt dry already with the talk you're having.
"hmm... trying to seduce me, huh?" she moves her face closer to yours.
"i can tell it's already working." you smirked before holding her cheek and kissing her.
the next day, the professor gave you the whole class time to sit in with your partners and discuss the project. the seats were arranged so that the partners are facing each other.
since ailee and you are already done with the draft, it took you just a few minutes to furnish it. and now, you have another hour to pretend you're still discussing.
"so, how was your evening?" started ailee while she's sketching something on her notebook.
"i had a great dinner," you said, taking a last look at your draft. "how about you?"
"same. i woke up early today though. i guess i'm excited for this class."
you looked up at ailee, wanting to ask her why, but you were afraid she might give another weird answer. you gave a nod instead.
"by the way, do you have time to go to the library this afternoon?" asked ailee. "the book we need is not available for borrowing at the moment due to limited stocks. we might need another library session today."
"no prob. i'm free," you said, glancing at your watch. "but maybe until six only. i got errands to do."
krystal's last class ends at five in the afternoon and it'll take her probably an hour to go home first to change before going to your place again. you need to make sure you get home before she does.
"cool!" ailee looked excited again. "i'm sure we'll cover a lot later."
you were glad ailee busied herself back to sketching whatever on her notebook. it's not that you don't want to talk to her, but you have to be extra careful because you don't want krystal to think you are being too nice.
"what's wrong with her?" whispered ailee, like she's talking to herself aloud.
"huh? who?" you asked.
"that krystal girl. i don't know if it's just me but she keeps looking at our direction."
krystal was seated at the back row with sehun. you know she strategically picked the chair facing you so she could watch you and ailee from there.
"maybe she's observing everybody. i glance at other groups too from time to time..." you said.
"maybe..." ailee was convinced for a second until she spoke again, "no... she's really looking at us..."
you turned to look at krystal and she gave you that look which means she's guilty of whatever ailee is accusing her.
you went back to your notes, sweats forming on your head.
"see? did you see that?" ailee was more surprised this time. "she didn't even look away when you looked at her!"
"she wasn't looking at me..." you lied.
"no. she's looking at us, at..." ailee paused, "... me."
you gulped. you were not expecting krystal to do something like this because she's the one who badly wants to keep your relationship secret.
but what is she doing now?
ailee finally went back to her notebook. "you know what, amber, i have a feeling she has a crush on you."
you almost choke on that. "you're just overthinking. haha."
"i'm not. i can tell because she's giving me that look."
"what kind of look?"
"the look jealous girlfriends give when someone is flirting with their lover."
"hahaha... you have a good imagination..."
. what is krystal doing?
"i'm not imagining things. i am serious, amber."
"nah. you're just overthinking," you said, playing it cool. "by the way, what's that thing you're doing on your notebook?"
gladly, ailee bought your attempt to change the topic. "just a few hand letterings..."
"wow. may i see that one?"
ailee immediately pulled the notebook against her chest. "nope. it's not done yet."
"i just want a peek." you insisted.
"promise me you won't laugh."
"i promise," you said, feeling successful for finally changing the subject.
"okay!" ailee gladly turned the notebook and your eyes widened when it revealed an artistic lettering of your names combined: 'amlee'.
everyone turned their attention to the back row when a loud sound of a book falling on the floor disturbed the tiny whispers in the room.
"sorry... sorry... the book fell..." said sehun, who seems to panic at the stares aimed at them. he picked up the book and sat back on his chair.
you saw krystal mouthed, "i'm sorry, it slipped from my hand" to sehun. you waited for her to look at you but she didn't. she's wearing that tigress face on with her hand tightly clenched.
jeez. this isn't going well.
krystal didn't get the chance to kill ailee as the bell rang sooner. after that, she and tiffany transferred to their next class right away.
ailee said the lettering was the design she thought for your project cover. you told her it's a nice idea and what she's done is really artistic but your professor might prefer something simple. gladly, she agreed.
you went straight to the library after your last class. it took you about thirty minutes to locate the book, only to discover that someone hid it by placing it on the top part of a wrong shelf.
"it's not nice to keep a book to yourself," you grunted. "other students need this too. they should share."
as you were about to reach for the book, ailee stopped you. "wait!" she said. "let's see if i can reach it."
"huh?" feeling weirded out, you observed ailee. "is it just me or you seem to be a bit taller today?"
ailee, who's tiptoeing to reach the top shelf, stopped and said, "i'm wearing heels today." she lifted a foot to show you.
"oh, nice," you said, uninterested. "what for? to reach books on high shelves?"
"you silly!" ailee laughed and hit your arm.
still smiling, you watched ailee tiptoed again with all her might. her fingertips are barely touching the spine of the book. she pushed harder and was able to get a hold of it, pulled it out and...
"whoa..." ailee accidentally twisted her ankles when she landed, making her lose her balance.
your instincts kicked in right away. "hey, be careful there," you said, holding onto her. "we don't have time to arrange all the books here in case you knock these shelves down."
instead of responding, ailee was staring at you, open-mouthed.
"you all right?" you asked.
ailee's face turned pink. you are not sure but you think you felt her heart thumping.
you turned your attention to the voice and, out of shock, you immediately let go of ailee, making her almost lose her balance again.
"are you guys going to use that book?" asked krystal in monotone. sehun also appeared after her.
ailee finally regained her composure. "yes. it was hard to find it. someone kept it at the top."
krystal's eyes traced up the shelf and went back to ailee. "okay. are you going to do your research too?"
"yeah. do you guys want to share? we don't mind. right, amber?"
since you couldn't make out any word, you nodded.
krystal gave you her icy glare before saying, "we don't mind too. we need that book anyway."
. you're dead.
you couldn't focus on what you were doing. you keep stealing glances at krystal and sehun whose busy reading the book you are sharing.
sehun seems to be a real nice guy. he's very polite and careful around krystal. and compared to the other guys in your class, this nerd is studious. you feel safe krystal got paired with him instead of other boys.
"hey, amber, we could add this one too," said ailee, pointing at the book she's reading.
krystal looks up at you while sehun discusses his ideas. you read what ailee showed you, making sure none of your body parts is touching.
"you're right. let's jot down the name of the author and the title of this book so we could add it to our references," you said.
"oh yeah! way to go! we can finish this project soon," said ailee.
"the sooner the better," you said, going back to your book.
there was silence on your end and it was only krystal and sehun who are talking now, discussing their topic.
"oh. by the way," said ailee, reaching for your wrist. "i remember something i saw here a while ago. i'm not sure where..." she kept on flipping the pages while recalling where she read it.
you sat there, overlooking ailee's book, forgetting the fact that her hand is still glued to your wrist.
"tell me when you find it," you said, pretending to have an itchy head so you could remove your hand from ailee's.
"are you okay?" you heard sehun ask.
"i just have an itchy throat," said krystal with a little smile.
"that's a symptom of getting colds," said sehun who looked worried. "let's buy meds after this?"
"that's unnecessary," said krystal, smiling sweetly this time. "i'll just have a fresh lemonade at home and i'll be okay."
"are you sure?"
"don't worry. thanks." krystal tapped sehun lightly on the shoulder.
that was just a simple friendly tap. however, you felt uneasy as sehun's blushing face revealed what's on his mind.
you are certain he has a crush on your girlfriend.
your attention was diverted back to ailee when she showed you her notebook. "hey, amber, could you check my notes for a moment?"
you scanned her notes and was surprised by what she had written:
'did you see that? that sehun guy is finally in his puberty! he's got a crush on krystal!'
you wrote 'yeah. it's hard not to notice' and gave the notebook back to ailee. "there you go. i've made some corrections."
ailee pretended to be researching the book and jotting down notes. she pushed the notebook back to your side. "how about that?"
'it's easy to notice that krystal has a crush on you too. want proof?'
you replied with 'no. not necessary. let's just go back to researching so we could go home early.' before pushing the notebook back to her.
instead of keeping quiet, ailee proceeds with her plans of teasing krystal. she shifted closer to you, pretending to read the book you were looking at, her hand on your shoulder.
that instantly caught krystal's attention.
"i need to pee," you said, standing from your chair. and before ailee could speak another word, you were already far from them.
to your surprise, something seemed different after your quick tour to the washroom.
ailee was back to reviewing the books. sehun and krystal were now writing notes. the funny thing is ailee acted cautiously around you and was silent until the end of your research.
what could've happened while you were gone?
your research session finally ended. ailee said goodbye to you after reaching the school's gate. krystal's car was there too, waiting for her. you and sehun separated ways after that.
a car stopped on the side of the road as you walk back to your apartment. the window on the back seat rolled down, revealing krystal.
"jump in," she said.
you hesitated at first, knowing her mom is inside too. but then krystal made a gesture to make it quick so you hurried inside.
after closing the door, you were relieved to see a man driving the car instead of her mom.
"let's go first to her apartment. she needs to pick up some clothes first," krystal told the man.
"all right, miss krystal."
you turned to krystal. "get my clothes? where are we going?"
"my house," said krystal casually, busy arranging her things inside her bag. "mom had an urgent out-of-town trip this afternoon and will be back monday night. she asked me to bring you over so we could stay at home instead."
"oh. cool." you don't know what exactly to feel. you are excited, yes, and nervous too. this is the first time you'll visit krystal's place.
it was just a dream a long time ago and now it's happening.
"i'm sure that ailee girl will now stop acting flirty around you," said krystal, leaning her weight on you. she looks relaxed now compared to earlier.
"you did something?" you asked.
krystal smirked, a naughty one. "i knew what she's trying to do, and i'm pissed each time she does that."
"after you left, i just couldn't help myself anymore. i need to warn her or else i might kill her."
"you told her about us?"
krystal shook her head no. "but i told her you have a girlfriend from the other university which is a close friend of mine."
you nodded. "that's a good idea. she really behaved after that, right?"
"well, it's not because of that. i told her my friend asked me to watch over you and report any girls who are trying to flirt with you."
"and you told ailee you will tell your friend about her?"
"something like that," said krystal, still smiling victoriously.
you know that smile meant something. "what exactly did you tell her?"
"not that much," she said, playing innocent. "but i informed her the last time i reported a flirting issue, the girl involved couldn't go to school for a week."
krystal kept laughing all the way to your apartment.