You can't decide whether money changes things or not; it does. You can decide, however, whether it changes things for better or worse.


36. Thirty six

A week later, it's my birthday. Alex and I are sitting at my lunch table, waiting for my friends. It's the first time we've seen each other today because we've been in different classes but it's so nice to see him. His friends still don't know about us but they're on a different lunch period to us and anybody who sees us and thinks of saying something probably knows better than to spread rumors about Alexander Logans.

It's a tradition between my friends and I that whenever it's one of our birthdays, we give the birthday girl her presents at lunch. I don't know why we decide to do it in the middle of the day rather than the start, it's just a thing we do. About five minutes into lunch time, the three of them walk into the cafeteria with presents in their arms and grins on their faces. Alex spots them at the same time I do. It occurs to me that I didn't tell him it was my birthday when I see the confused smile on his face. 

"What's with the presents?" he asks as they all rush over to the table. 

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" they all exclaim, dumping the presents on the table and laughing as they sit down. 

"It's your birthday?" Alex turns to me, eyes wide. "Kay! Why didn't you tell me?" 

I shrug. "I didn't think it was a big deal."

He sighs and then smiles at me, kissing my cheek. "I'll be back in like half an hour."

I frown at him as he stands up and grabs his bag. "Where are you going?" 

He just grins, leaving the cafeteria. He doesn't come back for the rest of lunch time at least, and I don't see him around school for the rest of the day. I don't hear from him until seven o'clock that evening when he sends me a text:

Sneaking into your room at about eleven tonight. Is that cool?

I glance at my dad. He's already looking tired so I figure he'll be asleep by eleven. I reply:

Yep. So you're being awfully casual about the fact you left school in the middle of the day and went missing for seemingly no reason.

He replies:

Haha. I think you'll find, I was getting you a present.

I reply:

It's not a car is it? Please tell me you didn't get me a car. 

He replies:

Hahaha no I didn't get you a car. All will be revealed. 

Dad goes to bed at nine and a couple of hours later, Alex is climbing through my window. I've been on my bed, sticking things in a scrapbook but I get up and hug him tight. Even though I wasn't worried about him earlier, it's so nice to have him back here. He hugs me back, chuckling. 

"Hey." he murmurs, kissing my cheek and pulling away. He pulls out a little red, velvety box and smiles at me. "Happy birthday."

I smile at him, taking the box and opening it. I feel a little breathless when I see what's inside. It's a ring, a little gold ring with a pink gem on the top of it. 

"The gem is Morganite. It's a symbol for prosperity and..." He trails off and I look up at him. He's blushing a little and he clears his throat.  "And, uh, love." 

I have no idea what to say so I pull him into a hug. He hugs me back. I guess he isn't that great with words when it comes to things like this but he doesn't have to be. I understand him completely. He kisses me softly and gently and it occurs to me that we haven't ever kissed like this before. Everything's always been a rush, everything's always been a 'we have to spend time together now before going to our different lives'. This time we have time for nothing but each other. 

"Thank you." I smile up at him. 

"You're more than welcome." he kisses my cheek.

And then the night turns into us joking about how I was speechless for once in my life and how for someone so arrogant, he sure shut up then and we're messing around and joking with each other again and the special moment is gone but just because it's gone, doesn't mean it never existed. The fact that it happened is what matters. We're lying on my bed a few hours later, the ring on my ring finger but on my right hand. I hold my hand above us, admiring it. 

"It's so pretty." I say. 

"It is." he says, turning his head and looking at me. "I spent ages in that shop trying to figure out which one to get. Opal was tempting and so was Amethyst. But I liked the Morganite the best."

"I think you made the right decision." I smile. 

"There was also Alexandrite which tempted me because you know, it was clearly named after me, but I thought you'd think I was a bit arrogant so..." he jokes and I laugh. 

"I cannot even imagine you with the slightest amount of arrogance." I tease.

He chuckles. "I was considering diamond as well but I thought it was a bit obvious."

"Oh yeah, god forbid you get me a diamond ring, I'd hate that." I joke. 

"Yeah I thought you would." he laughs and then glances at the clock beside my bed. "It's four in the morning."

I groan, laughing. "We're screwed for school tomorrow."

He smiles, kissing me before getting up. "Night Kaya."

"Night." I squeeze his hand and then he's climbing out of the window and driving back to his house. I can't help but notice how unnatural it feels to still be here in my room when he's driving away. I can't not want to go with him. But even though Alex has changed me, I'm still the kind of person who is scared of getting in trouble and likes to follow rules. So instead of following him, I just think about how good it feels to have somebody I want to follow everywhere.

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