“Why are you hiding from me, Michael?”
Tina, the campus darling and the head cheerleader, rushed quickly to keep in step with her boyfriend. She had been looking for him since he disappeared from the weekend party they attended.
“I am going to school,” he said, adjusting his knapsack slung on his shoulder. “You should do the same.”
“I nearly went crazy looking for you,” she held his arm to slow him down. “You should have told me you’re leaving.”
“It’s not my party, Tina. Yours.”
“You’re my boyfriend. You’re supposed to be there.”
“Correction. I am just for show, remember?”
Tina did not want their deal mentioned always. In reality, it was her ploy to snare him to a genuine relationship.
“I am in love with you, Michael.” She swallowed her pride and stated it for the first time, a feeling she had never spoken of truthfully with her past boyfriends.
“That’s not part of our agreement,” he said, painful to her ears. “Rowena is my girl.”
“She is not here,” she raised her voice, envious of her. “She won’t be coming back!”
Michael did not want to argue with her. It would be useless to explain to her why he kept hoping.
“Tina, you’re beautiful and popular. Why waste your time with me? I am a nobody.”
“I fell for you,” she confessed. “Isn’t that too difficult to understand?”
“Remember when we first met, in grade school? I can still remember your words.”
“Grow muscles,” she recalled. “But that was a long time ago.”
“Rowena was there, too. She told you pointblank that you’d regret rejecting me.”
She remained silent. If she could turn back time, she would do it right there and then.
“We can continue the charade for as long as you want. I will help you.” Michael was conciliatory. “But please, do not ever, ever say that Rowena is not coming back. That’s not negotiable.”
“Michael, I can wait,” she won’t surrender. “If you can wait for her, I can wait for you.”
“That sounds unfair to you, Tina. You should be happy, too. There will be someone for you out there.”
“Well,” Michael was stumped. Her list of former boyfriends included the who’s who in the campus. “You’ll know when you meet him.”
“Why make it complicated?” she mused. “You are already my boyfriend. Let’s make it official.”
Michael laughed. Tina would not be the most popular around if she did not possess an armory of guile and wile. She was Rowena’s exact opposite.
“Tina, give me a break. Or just break up with me, officially. You’ll discover how many men will line up at your doorstep after they hear that you dumped me. If you want, I will do the routine of chasing you around to show how devastated I am.”
“Michael, I am serious,” she confided. “I won’t embarrass you again. Just give me chance. I am willing to change just for you. I will leave everything behind.”
“Tina, please!” he pleaded. “Rowena is coming back. I don’t want to hurt your feelings.”
She sobbed, the rejection clear as day.
“You will find your man. You just learned what real love is.”
“Did I?” she was confused.
“Love is not all happiness. It is pain, sacrifices, loyalty, hope and all the emotions rolled into one.”
“Will I ever find someone like you?” Tina accepted the kerchief Michael offered to wipe her tears.
“I believe you will,” he affirmed. “I am not extraordinary.”
“You sound as if it is too easy,” she smiled for a change.
“The last time I checked, girls choose first, boys wait for girls to choose.”
Tina has recovered. She was a changed girl because of Michael.
“Let’s break up!” she proposed. “I don’t want Rowena jealous of me.”
Michael pinched her cheek. “That’s what I like to hear!”
(to be continued)