CHANEL

“Chanel, you’re a lifesaver!”

My best friend, Cassandra, hugged me before she came barging into my house with what seemed like a battalion of her classmates.

“Cass, come on!” I tried to shrug her off, but her grip was firm. “Come on, girl, you know I hate being touchy-feely. Let go!”

“I just love you for this,” Cass said. “Thank you ever so much, bessie!”

Her mood swings are nothing short of legendary, I swear. Just yesterday, she was pulling out her hair in panic, asking the gods for a place where she and her group mates can practice for their drama presentation. Fortunately, I live alone, so of course I offered my place to her.

Let me introduce myself first. I’m Chanel Courtney Chua. My friends simply call me Chanel. I’m 17, 5’5”, slender, with long black hair worthy of shampoo commercials, and a figure that the next whatever-country’s model would kill for. I’m half-Chinese, independent, and living alone in the big city. Oh, and I just love the color pink.

Cass pulled out her classmates into my living room and started the introductions.

“Bessie, meet my group mates. This is Bianca, Jake, Ria, Luke, Ivy, Cholo, Yael, and Kean,” she said, pointing out to her friends one by one. All of them flashed me grateful smiles as Cass called out their names.

“Thanks, Chanel.” Bianca said. “Don’t worry, we’ll be very careful, and we won’t make a lot of noise.”

“Come on, guys. Don’t be strangers! You’re all welcome to use my space,” I assured them. “So, tell me about your project.”

It turned out that the group was working on the mortal-enemies-turned-lovers angle, which was turning out to be a fad nowadays.

“Lead roles will be played by Bianca and Kean,” Ria explained, pointing to a pretty long-haired girl and a quiet, brooding guy.

I perked up at the name. “Sorry, did you say Gian?”

“Chanel! It’s Kean, not Gian!” Cass said, rolling her eyes. “Honestly, girl, stop thinking of your boyfriend for a second.”

I flashed my best friend a sheepish grin. “Sorry, bessie. I just miss my boyfriend very much.”

The group aaaaw-ed at my antics, and I gave them a smile before going out to prepare drinks. In the kitchen, I smiled as I thought of my boyfriend, Gian Kirby Mercado. We’ve been friends forever, and we’ve been in a romantic relationship for over three years. We’d soon be hitting the four-year mark, and I just couldn’t help but feel great for that.

I was so lost in my daydream that I bumped into somebody on my way out, spilling the drinks all over the floor... and on the person I bumped into.

“Oh my gosh, I am so sorry!” I gushed as I immediately tried to help him up. It was Kean, the silent, broody guy who’s been throwing everyone a mixture of bored and dirty looks since he entered my place.

“What the hell!” he exclaimed. “Are you blind, stupid, or both?”

“Excuse me?! What’s with the attitude?! I just said I’m sorry!”

“Well, your sorry’s not going to dry my clothes now, will it?” he snapped before walking away.

Oh my God. Seriously? I have never met anyone as rude as this person! This guy’s fast making it on my no-list.

Cass came running down the hall. “What happened?” she asked as she pulled me up.

“I bumped into Kean. He chewed me out and walked away.” I picked up the drinking tumblers on the floor. “Is he really that much of a jerk?

“Oh, no!” Cass exclaimed. She gave me an apologetic look. “Sorry, Chanel. Kean’s just really quiet and broody.”

“Oh yeah? Well isn’t that awfully cute,” I said, my sarcastic side showing up.

Cass and I cleaned up and prepared another batch of refreshments. When we went into the living room, everyone was giving me apologetic smiles. Bianca told me not to take it personally because that jerk treats everyone the same—pretty much like molasses and fungi. He was known to be quiet, and someone who kept much to himself and listened to music most of the time. The one thing I couldn’t quite stomach was that the broody guy’s actually the college heartthrob. Ivy even said that girls flock outside his classrooms and follow him all over the campus. On top of that, he even got his own fans club!

Like, seriously? That face? Well… yeah, the face was okay, more than okay. But with that attitude, aren’t girls turned off? He’s like the rudest person in the planet! Cass told me that girls dig that thing, though. I couldn’t believe it, but well, to each her own, I guess.

“So, are you girls part of the fans club?” I asked.

At this, Cass gave me a cheeky grin. “Well, all of us like him. He wouldn’t give us the time of the day, though. He’s such a snob!”

“He’s a good guy,” Yael interrupted. “I think he just wants to keep to himself all the time.”

The group apologized for Kean’s behavior again, and I didn’t want to make them feel bad about it, so I waved it off and let bygones be bygones. They continued with their practice, and I continued with my daydreaming.

Kean sounded like Gian, and they’re both a bit snobbish, but other than that, they’re worlds apart. Besides, my Gian’s not really a heartthrob—the only heart that throbs whenever he’s around is mine.
And oh my God, that’s like, seriously cheesy.

I left them to their practice and went up to my room. A few hours after, Cassandra was calling out my name in frustration. I guess somebody got on her nerves. I walked out of my room and hurried towards the living room, but I bumped into someone again.

Lo, and behold! It was Mr. Grouch again. What is up with me bumping into him, of all people! I muttered an apology and rushed away before another altercation could take place, but he stopped me with an odd question.

“What’s your perfume?”

“Uh… what?” Did I miss something in there?

“What’s your perfume?” he asked again, indignantly.

Attitude check! Ugh, seriously! “Angel’s Breath. Why?”

“Nothing.” And then he walked away again.

I will not be affected. I will not be affected. I will not be affected…Aaaaaaaaaaargh! That guy! I have never met anybody as frustrating, moody, broody, and rude as he is! He’s the world’s greatest jerk!

Cassandra called out for me, for like, the thousandth time, so I shook off my exasperation at the jerk and rushed to my best friend. When I got to her, she was pulling her hair in frustration because of Kean.
Of course, it’s Kean, I thought. Getting on everyone’s nerves must be his talent. I kept my thoughts to myself and just raised an eyebrow in question.

“What’s your problem? He’s right there,” I said, pointing at him, looking bored with life, as always.

“Well, he wasn’t, a few minutes ago,” Cass huffed.

“And what have I got to do with him?”

“Well, he wasn’t, a few minutes ago,” Cass huffed.
“And what have I got to do with him?”

“Can you please watch over him and Bianca here?” Cass pulled at her hair again. “I swear, I cannot watch over everyone at the same time. Ria and Luke, you’re supposed to be in love! Cholo and Ivy, I feel nothing at all! You’re supposed to move the audience with your love story, and you just stand there with the emotional capacity of a lamppost! And Bianca and Kean! Ugh! Don’t get me started! Bianca’s having trouble tapping into her emotional pool because Mr. I-Have-No-Emotions here’s not acting as he should, and when I call him out on it, he walks out!”

I bit my lip to stop a laugh from coming out. I swear, Cassandra’s going to blow a blood vessel by the time the practice was over. Taking pity on my best friend, I agreed to watch over Bianca and Kean’s scenes. A few minutes into the practice, I finally understood what’s gotten my best friend’s nerves into a twist. A zombie could express far more emotions than this idiot!

“Kean!” I cried out. “Feelings! You’re supposed to be lovers! You’re supposed to be in love!”

“Hey, brat, I’m trying my best!”

“Well it’s not good enough!” I shot back. “Try harder! Internalize, dammit!”

“Jeez! You’re worse than Hitler!”

“Excuse me?! What did you just say?”

“I said,” he bit out, “you’re worse than Hitler!”

“Well, sorry if I can’t be satisfied by your mediocre performance!” I snapped. “You’re so awful. I swear your audience is going to die of boredom five minutes into your scene!”

“Well, if you’re so good, why don’t you do it?” the jerk dared.

“Is that a challenge?”

“Are you a chicken?”

“Hell, no! Bring it!”

“You bring it!”

I cast a glance at everyone in the room, who was looking at Kean and I as if we turned into squids right in front of their eyes. “Cassandra,” I called out. “Play the background song.”|

Cass yelped out in surprise before doing what I asked her to do. In a few seconds, the heartbreaking melody of a sad song filled the room, pulling me into the scene.

“What do you mean, you love me?” I suddenly spat out, letting out my frustrations with every word.

“You can’t love me! I can’t love you! I hate you!”

“Just that?” Kean snapped back. “Is that the only reason why you won’t let me love you? You hate me?”
I stared at him long and hard, my eyes boring into his. Funny, I didn’t notice until now how brown his eyes were. They were so deep, like two pools of melted chocolate. I stared harder at him, allowing my character to take over me.

“Yes,” I whispered, “I hate you.”

“Let me love you,” he pleaded, his eyes boring into mine.

I tried to imagine how it must’ve felt like, not being able to love someone because hate overruled every emotion, even love. I tried to imagine how frustrating it was to want to love someone, but not being able to because the past was just too painful.

Tears streaked down my eyes. I didn’t dare blink. “No, I’m sorry.” I turned around and started walking away.

Imagine my surprise when suddenly, I was pulled harshly into a warm, solid chest. Kean’s arms were tight and firm around me, his embrace swallowed me whole.

“No,” he choked out. “No, don’t walk away.”

The room suddenly broke out into wild applause, snapping me back into reality. Kean suddenly released me and gave me a puzzled look. After what seemed like a lifetime, he walked away.

Okay. What the hell just happened?!

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