Chapter One (Part Three.)
She didn’t know why, it was just one of those impulsive decisions she sometimes made, but she looked at Luke, and asked, bluntly, “Can I draw you?” At first, he looked taken aback, but when Angie explained about her coursework, and proffered her sketchbook, he smiled.
“Let’s make a deal. If I can draw you better than you drew your friend here,” he suggested, indicating to the earlier drawing of Ethan, “Then I get your number. If not, I pay for the meal, and you can draw me for your course work. Sound fair?” Angie weighed it in her mind. What were the chances that he was better at art than her? And she really did want to draw him… whether she had promised Ethan or not.
“Game on.” She handed Luke her sketchpad and pencil, and looked him in the eyes. Whether Luke knew it or not, she was testing him. It was hard to focus when the subject of your gaze was staring directly back at you, and she was trying to make Luke’s job harder – perhaps because she was worried about the outcome of their bet. Minutes passed, and Angie found her eyes reading every bit of Luke, from the way that he looked at her, down at the paper, and back again, as if making sure he’d seen correctly, or the way he tilted the paper rather than his hand position. She saw his brow furrow in concentration, and she felt herself blush as his eyes met with hers. He was handsome, there was no doubt about it, but there was also something strange, alluring even, about him, and the way that everything about him was just so perfect. Just thinking about it made her shiver…
“I’m done.” Luke’s voice broke the atmosphere of concentration. He pushed the sketchpad back across the table. Bracing herself, Angie looked down at the drawing in front of her. There was no competition – all previous confidence that she had in herself vanished in a split second. It was purely lifelike; every graphite line was the same as the real Angie, the non-paper Angie. Pouting, she folded her arms. She had so wanted to draw him… “So, what do you think? Have I won?” Luke’s tone was triumphant – you could tell he thought he’d won.
Angie unfolded her arms and ripped a page out of her sketchbook. Scrawling her number on it, she pushed it across the table. Unable to keep the scowl on her face for much longer, she asked Luke, “So… how come you’re so good?” Luke leaned in closer, as if he was about to tell her a massive secret.
“Practice.” She rolled her eyes. As if he could tell she wasn’t satisfied, he continued, “Plus I just happen to be incredibly talented. Oh, and I wouldn’t bother yourself – I’m older than you anyway.”
“How old are you?” Angie’s voice was demanding, and it was as if she was desperate to reassure herself that it was alright for him to be better than her.
“Seventeen,” Luke replied. Angie smiled. He was within her range. Result, she thought silently to herself.
“Not that much older than me, I’m sixteen.” She had forgotten about the art now; that was the strange effect that Luke had on her. It was merely a competition now. “What school do you go to?”
“Notre Dame. What about you?” That was weird, thought Angie. She’d never seen him before at her school – that was where she went, too.
“Same. How come I’ve never seen you before?” Luke tapped his nose, as if it was a secret, but then told her anyway.
“Well, technically I don’t go there yet. I’ve just moved here, I transferred from Italy.” Ah. It made sense now. “At least I have one friend now,” he joked, waving the piece of paper with her number on. “Don’t worry, I will call you!”
Pulling himself up from the booth, he threw a tenner on the table. Angie made a look of protest and tried to shove the money back at him. He had won the bet, she should pay. He wouldn’t have it. “So, how are you getting home?” Luke’s voice was light, but you could catch a hint of concern if you were as good as Angie was at analysing people.
“Taxi, I guess. I can’t drive, and Ethan had to go home, y’know, because he got sick.” Luke made a look of distaste, but he wiped it off as quickly as it came. Too late; for Angie had already noted it.
“You OK with accepting lifts from total strangers?” Luke joked. Angie paused for a moment, in thought.
“Well… seeing as I’m not counting you as a stranger, I guess that would be fine.” She smiled, appreciatively at him.
“Well I’m glad I have moved up the social ladder from stranger. If you’d like to follow me, my vehicle is this way.” She followed him past Ethan’s battered Mini, without giving it a second thought, into a narrow side street. A gleaming motorbike proudly mounted the curb, and Luke gestured to it with a flourish. She must have looked worried, because Luke reassured her that it was perfectly safe. She thought he said that he was perfectly safe, but maybe she misheard him.
“Hop on board,” Luke said, grinning, as he handed her a helmet. Before she jammed it on her head, she checked her phone briefly for messages. There was a text from Ethan telling her that he was taking the day off, and to make her own way to school. Turning her phone off, she pulled the helmet onto her head, and swung herself onto the back of the motorbike. She felt strange sitting at such close proximity to a boy other than Ethan, and she gripped Luke’s shirt cautiously. The bike let out a snarl, as it juddered into life, and she flung her arms tightly around Luke’s waist. She wasn’t sure if he noticed how tightly her thighs were squeezing against his, but one thing that she didn’t notice was when they finally arrived back at her house. She had told him where it was, and thankfully he already knew the area, so she hadn’t needed to prove to him how bad she was at giving directions. She stayed there, on the back of the bike, arms wrapped around Luke, inhaling his scent; sandalwood and something slightly spicy, until he nudged her. Embarrassed, she clambered off the back of the bike, and thanked God it was dark. She’d been thanking God a lot lately. She pulled the helmet off her head, and Luke reached out and hand a smoothed it down. God, this was going fast, she thought. She’d never had any need to look at anyone other than Ethan, before, and now… Well Luke was certainly something special. Catching her eye, Luke smiled at her; an understanding smile. Good. He wasn’t going to kiss her. That would be too soon – and ruin the special time that they’d had.
“I guess you need a lift tomorrow, to school, if Ethan’s ill?” Angie was taken aback – had he seen the text message from Ethan? She dismissed it instantly – he was probably just presuming that Ethan would be ill… It wasn’t like he had seen her phone – he had been fiddling with the bike. Smiling, she nodded. It would be nice for Luke not to be alone on his first day – and nice for her, too, not to be alone without Ethan.
“Sure. That would be great. Oh, and don’t be late!” Angie smiled, and stood kind of awkwardly until Luke climbed back onto the motorbike. The door opened, and her mother’s friends spilled out onto the drive. Luke raised a hand, indicating goodbye, and drove off. Angie sighed, and stood still, watching him go, until all her mother’s friends had left.
“Who was that?” Madeline, Angie’s mum, called. “What you doing with men on motorbikes?” She giggled, which irritated Angie. Her mother was so immature sometimes.
“Luke. He’s a friend. He saw that Ethan went home sick so he kept me company. He gave me a lift home and he’s picking me up for school tomorrow.” Without waiting for her mother to reply – no doubt make another immature or sarcastic comment – she climbed up the cream stairs to her bedroom, where she collapsed on her bed.
Reaching over to her bag, she pulled out her sketchbook. She ran her fingers over the drawing of her, tracing the lines, and she sighed. She wished she could draw as well as that – she would get Luke to show her how. And of course, she still wanted to draw him. The only other thing, Angie thought to herself, is how would Ethan react? Neither of them had ever had relationships – they’d never needed to – and now, well, Luke seemed nice. Angie’s kind of nice.