I lied to Eliza about hitting Toby. My hand still stings from the force of the slap and I’m torn between feeling good and bad about it.
My head still throbs and I feel like sleeping. I’m not really sure if that’s a good thing or not because sometimes if concussed people fall asleep, they don’t wake up.
I honestly don’t want to die.
Amelia talks to me, not really expecting me to talk back for which I am grateful. She has a lovely voice, thin and sweet like honey. She talks about her day with Eliza and how she flirted with some innocent boy to get a mandarin. She talks about how Eliza was worried about me but most importantly, she talks about how she wants to punch Toby.
Too late. I hit him already.
When the tent unzips, I want to bury myself further into the blankets. God knows what Eliza’s done to him. Probably hit him on the head with a tin or something.
“What do you want?” Amelia asks icily and I frown, face still in my pillow.
“Hello to you too.”
Forget Toby. When I get my hands on Eliza, she’s going down.
I’m hoping Amelia will kick him out, but he whispers to her something I can’t make out and don’t really want to.
“Alice?” Amelia pats me on the back. “I know you’re not asleep. I’m just stepping out of the tent for a minute, okay?”
No. Not okay.
I don’t say anything as she leaves and mentally prepare for the onslaught I’m probably about to get.
Hearing Amelia’s mattress shift as he sits down, I take a deep breath and say,
“Jackson says no boys in this part of the tent. He’ll kill you.”
“I doubt it,” Toby snorts and I turn my head to the side so I can look at him through my hair.
He looks worn out, sweaty and kind of confused. His knees are drawn to his chest so he can rest his chin on them as he glances around the room, refusing to look at me.
“You look awful.”
It’s not much of an insult, but a good one for me anyway. He chuckles as his gaze lowly travels over my body.
“You’re one to talk.”
“Yeah,” I push the hair away from my eyes so I can sit up.
“Whoa,” he quickly plants his hands on my back and I flinch away out of habit. “Oh um… sorry. Just like back down, will you?”
“Fine,” I grumble. I hate seeming weak. “Why are you here? What did Eliza say to you?”
“She told me you were crying.”
The cow. I’m so going to kill her.
“I hit my head pretty hard.” It’s only a half lie.
“So I heard,” he scoots even closer and I make sure to stand my ground.
His hand flutters to the back of my head. His fingers tease my hair, brush strands aside until he can get a good look at the back of my head.
He lets out a low whistle and I blush.
“You have one massive egg. Maybe you should go to the nurse station.”
“No,” I shake my head and wince at the throbbing it causes. “It’s not that bad.”
“Bad enough you cried? Tough girls don’t cry over injuries.”
He lies down on Amelia’s mattress so he too is on his stomach. He looks at me right in the eye, but his eyes aren’t filled with the anger that usually sits there.
Instead they seem sort of soft.
“I’m sorry for bullying you.”
“Okay,” I say quickly.
“I’m sorry for being mean.”
“I’m sorry for hurting your feelings.”
Just stop already.
He looks like he’s about to say more, but I quickly put my hand in front of his face.
“It’s okay. Really.”
“No it’s not,” he frowns. “You’re a strong girl. Don’t ever let a man like me shove you around.”
Is that a compliment?
“Yes,” he answers my thoughts. “That’s a compliment. If you ever let me give it to you again, I’ll… I don’t even know.”
He looks crestfallen and I have to laugh.
“Okay, but maybe you should make an effort not to be a pain in the butt? That would help a lot.”
“I hereby swear that I will not be a pain in the butt,” he smiles and holds up his pinkie finger. “Pinkie swear?”
“I hereby swear I won’t let a pain in the butt like you push me around,” I wrap my finger around his and shake.
“That was easy,” he grins. “Eliza said you would easily forgive.”
“Did she?” I ask sarcastically. “I hate her.”
“No you don’t,” he smirks. “You’ll forgive her, just like me.”
I open my mouth to say more when Amelia sticks her head in.
“My dad’s coming. He won’t be impressed to find you here.”
“Okay,” he pushes himself up. “I better go.”
“Bye,” I turn my face back into the pillow, trying to hide my smile.
I peek at him again.
“I have something I’d love to show you some time in the future, if you’re willing.”
“What is it?”
“It’s a surprise,” he grins. “When I can, I’ll let you know.”
Amelia scampers in, looking frantic, to shove him out.
“Go! You’ll get me in trouble!”
With that, Toby disappears.
Martial arts. Where do I start?
For the first week, I was in utter pain. I got paired up with a guy about fifteen who could kick with enough power to send me falling to the floor. Now, thank God, I can stand my ground and even get in some kicks and karate chops myself.
Eliza, whom yes, I have forgiven, does a softer version called Tai-kwon-do. She says it’s more suited to her since in mainly involves tricky hand moves and twists that can throw your enemy across the floor.
We once tried to fight each other in the cavern after a particular shopping day and ended with us both on the ground. Since karate uses your hands and legs and tai-kwon-do is about stopping attacks, Eliza managed to flip me a few times. On a particular flip, I somehow managed to kick her in the stomach, causing her to fall as well. The kick was hard enough to wind her and I was too tired to get up.
My concussion soon disappears for which I am grateful. I can manage a whole day of work and exercise without needing a nap. Eliza still asks every morning if I’m okay and I wish she’d stop. It honestly wasn’t that hard of a fall.
Toby’s attitude towards us both improves immensely. There are times when he’ll say something venomously and all I’d have to do was glare at him, causing him to shut up.
He hasn’t told me anything about the surprise yet and I find myself getting anxious over it for some reason. Since our shopping trips are now quite lovely, I find myself wanting to spend more and more time with him.
Amelia’s noticed, of course and constantly reminds me with a glint of her eyes every time Toby turns up. I think she’s right about him being epileptic. How else can someone go from being really polite to a pain?
I find myself wanting to know more.