A/N: This chapter might really suck and I'm sorry but I've been so loaded with school work that I havent had the time to actually sit down and write a great chapter. The next one though. It'll be great.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”
― Dr. Seuss
To say I was bored was the biggest understatement. Everyone left me alone and I just sat at the kitchen table idly strumming my fingers. I sighed and decided to pick up the small book with the bright colors. I admit I was a little intimidated by it at first with the big pictures on the cover and everything but I just grabbed it and opened.
I tried making my own words to match the pictures but none of it was making sense. I groaned, frustrated, and slammed the book closed. I settled on a nap because it took me a good few hours to figure that book out and it tired me out.
By the time I woke up it seemed to be early afternoon. I decided to shower so I grabbed a few of the clothes Niall said I could use and went to bathe. My hair, a red wavy mess, took longer to wash than my body did. I was glad though because now I felt clean. Really clean. No signs or dreams of Alpheus and it's nice.
I was brushing through my hair when I heard the front door shut. "Arethusa! I got home as quick as possible." I smiled, knowing it was Niall. "I sort of ran here," he chuckled, breathily. I heard his steps then there was a knock to the bathroom door. "You in there?"
I smiled and opened the door, "Hey."
"Hey, so are you ready? I'm kind of exited to teach you all of this. Gives me a chance to play teacher."
I bit at my lip, "I'm actually a bit nervous now because of that book-"
"Oh yeah, how was the book? Did you like it?"
I frowned, my lip jutting out, "Cats can't fit in hats."
Something close to the biggest grin spread across his face. "So you read the words?"
"No, I kind of got it a bit when he came out of the hat."
"And that's fine. Come on, I grabbed a journal and we can start with some writing. That okay?"
My cheeks tinged. Somehow his sincerity brought unknown emotions. I nodded.
"Try adding another line," he encouraged. I nodded, breathed out, and wrote the line. "And that's an M."
I smiled, "It's like an N." "Yup, just with another line."
I finished up all the letters in something called "the alphabet", it made me proud. Niall made sure to tell me their sounds and practice them as I wrote them.
"Okay now let's try your name. With the letter pronunciations I taught you, which letters do you think go in your name?"
I circled an A, R, and an E. I frowned and started to bite at my lip when I didn't know what came next.
"Here," Niall whispered, clasping his hand around mine and having me circle the T and H, "these two make the 'th' sound."
I flushed a bit, his hand still on mine. "Can you...uh. Can you show me the next one?"
In all reality I got the hang of it. I knew what letter gave each sound to my name but having him help me this way comforted me. He had his hand laid on mine and his fingers guiding mine a certain way. I loved the feeling.
"And done. Good job."
I looked at him through my lashes and softly smiled. He looked at me too and seemed to now get the sense of how close we were. The air between us was warm and thick and I felt a longing inside of me waiting to burst. I slightly leaned over, hesitant, and pressed my lips against his. It was a soft, fuzzy, feeling that lasted less than a second. I once again looked into his eyes to see them hooded. His lips were parted and his brow furrowed. He brought his thumb up to his bottom lip and swiped it. He licked the tip of his finger, "Is this syrup?"
My eyes widened and I stammered across my words, "W-what makes you say that?"
"Uh, because it's on my lip."
I felt my cheeks tinge and I used the palms of my hands to try and hide it. "I'm sorry."
"N-no, don't be. It just surprised me. Did you just make that when you...uh."
"It's maple," I quietly mumbled, looking down at my lap. "We have these...pheromones th-that we give off."
I started to ramble on about different types of nymphs and their pheromones. I was humiliating myself. "I just got a bit overwhelmed because I really wanted to kiss you but I-..." I picked at my fingers and squeezed my eyes shut when I felt tears forming. "Oh, I'm so embarrassed."
I clumsily got out of my chair and quickly made my way out of the kitchen. I plopped down on the sofa and unfolded the blanket to lay it over myself.
"Arethusa, it's fine, really." Niall's voice was reassuring as he stood at the living room entrance.
"I would like to be alone," I mumbled, wiping at a fallen tear.
I was quiet throughout dinner and getting ready for bed. I tried reading that book again and could only get a few words. It was frustrating. I tried pronouncing it out loud but still couldn't get it.
I twisted around on the couch to see Niall once again at the entry way but this time holding a small, less colorful, thin, book.
"The Giving Tree."
I cracked a light smile at the reference and held my hand out to take.
"It should be a bit easier to read," he shrugged, walking over to me and handing it. I expected him to smile and tell me I could do it but what I didn't expect was for him to sit next to me and say, "Go on, read it."
"But what about the cat book?"
"We'll read that another day."
So I read the book and it got me all types of emotional. By the end of it I was sniffling and wiping unwanted tears. "That's so sad."
"Yeah, it's a bit sad but let's think of the bright side."
"You know, trees really want to help you? They love to give you things like their fruit and maybe some unwanted branches. They enjoy pleasing you."
"And they've told you this?"
"They can't necessarily talk but I can feel it. That's why, after a while, their properties fall. They're desperate for you to take them. Not take them for granted and cut them down but take what's given."
I was wiping at my eyes when I felt Niall's hands nudge mine away and replace them with his. In the next second I felt his lips against mine. A small gasp escaped my lips. I didn't know where to put my hands so I just leaned in closer to him and rested them on his legs. It was innocent, with both of our lips slightly puckered enough to touch the others.
When he pulled away I bit at my lip, fighting and failing to conceal my reddened cheeks.
He lightly laughed at my struggle. "Spell it."
"Kiss. Spell it."
"Uh," I smiled at the randomness of it and breathed out as I thought. "K-I-S."
He leaned his forehead against and laughed again. He pecked his lips at the corner of mine, "S. K-i-s-s."
"Oh," I giggled. "That was my first."
My eyes widened, "Really?"
"I'm glad, for the first time, I'm not the only one."
"Maybe we should go into my room in case my mum comes."
"Isn't Greg in there?"
"He's asleep. Come on."
He helped me up and before we started to move I placed my hands on his shoulder and used them to get me up on my toes. I quickly kissed him and shyly smiled. "Thank you, Niall."
He was a bit lost for words but just shook his head instead, a grin plastered on his face.
A/N: Tried to make this quick update because the other day was bae's birthday and we should all get a nice gift for watching him grow. I also wanted to let you guys know that yesterday I got the results of a scholastic national writing competition and I won a silver key award! So that's exciting. Next update will be in a week and please be patient because this story is only gonna get better.