Chapter 10 - The Dance and the Memories
It was the day of the Grad Ball. Nina decided not to go, so she just sulked the whole morning in her room. Well, she have decided to go a few months before, but because of what Brent did, she decided not to attend the Grad Ball. She doesn't want to see him and Ashley together, because it will only add insult to the injury. "I guess its better this way..." she said to herself. "At least I won't make a fool of myself..." Even if she wants to attend, she didn't have any formal dress to wear. The last time she checked the pink dress she wants to buy for the Grad Ball, it was already sold. Whoever got that dress, she is one lucky girl.
She opened her drawer and took the blue, velvety box Lainey gave her a week ago. She could still remember their conversation when she gave her this box.
"Why would he give this to me?" she asked Lainey after explaining to her that the gift came from Brent. "I have nothing to do with it... you might as well hand it to Ashley!"
"But Brent told me to give it to you, not to Ashley!"
Nina stared at the blue box that Lainey's holding, wondering why would Brent give her a gift. "Is it a peace offering? But the last time I checked, he's still mad at me!" she thought. "Come on, Nina... don't make it hard for him. If you can't forgive him, at least take this gift..." she heard Lainey said.
Deep inside, Nina felt happy that Brent gave her something that would make her remember him, even after she graduates from High School. But, she have decided that after she graduates, she will leave the past behind her. "I'm sorry, Lainey..."
"Please, Nina... just take this. Just pretend I'm the one who gave you this, not him..." Lainey persuaded.
Nina smiled at her, and took the box. "OK... but I will not open this box OK?"
Nina still stared at the blue box, and was deep in her thought when she heard someone knocked at her door. "Come in," she said. It was her father. "Hey dad!" she said as her dad entetred her room. "I thought today is your school's Grad Ball. Aren't you going to attend?" he asked. Nina smiled, and shook her head. "I have no plans, dad..."
"Too bad, you'll be missing half of your life... May I know why my daughter won't attend the Ball?"
Nina sighed. She wanted to tell her dad the reason why she doesn't want to attend, but she felt like her dad won't understand her. "I... I just don't feel like it..." she said. Her dad gave her a doubtful look. "Really? Or is it because of that young man who used to come here?" he said, pertaining to Brent. Her parents have already met Brent before. It seems that her parents were very impressed with Brent, and dotes on him. "Ever since you got hit by a car, he never visits you here anymore. Care to tell me why?" her dad asked.
Nina just lowered her head, and didn't answer her dad's question. "I really admire that guy. I remember how panicked he was when he called us about your accident. When we got there, he even asked permission if he could stay with you until the next morning so that me and you mom can rest for a while..." he dad told her.
Nina was surprised with what her dad told her. All this time, she's blaming him for the accident that happened to her, but the truth was, he stayed with her until her parents came. He stayed with her until she's OK. She could feel the tear at the corner of her eye. She tried to keep it from falling. "If there's one man who I want you to be with, Nina, it would Brent. I do hope things will turn out fine between the two of you." Her dad said before he left her room.
The moment her dad left her room, she slowly opened the blue box that Lainey gave her the other day. She smiled when she saw the snowflake pendant inside it. It was the same pendant that she was looking at when she accompanied Brent at the mall. She carefully took it from the box, and stared at it. "How could you know I've always wanted this, Brent?" she thought. She looked at the box again, and she saw a piece of paper tucked inside the box. She took it, and began to read what's written on it.
I saw you staring at this lovely necklace the last time we went to the mall. I was trying to find a perfect gift for you, but I'm scared that you might not like it so I bought this instead. I hope you liked it.
There are a lot of things I wanted to tell you, if you would only give me a chance. There are a lot of things that I want to explain, but I guess it's too late now. You hate me for all the things I've done to you. I just had the courage to give this to you, because I know that if you leave school without having this, I might regret it for the rest of my life.
Nina, I'm sorry for the pain I've cause you for the past months. If you only knew what's inside my heart, maybe you'll understand why I did the things I did before. You will always be an important person in my life, and even if I don't see you anymore, you will always be in my heart.
Reading his letter made Nina miss Brent a lot more. She could feel the tears rolling down her cheeks as she read the letter. She could feel his sincerity in every words that he wrote on that letter, and she could feel how sorry and sad he was with what happened. If she had only given Brent a chance to explain and if only she didn't tell him how she hates him, their relationship wouldn't be like this, but maybe it's not yet to late to patch things up with him.
She was still staring at the pendant when Nina heard a knock on the door. "Come in..." she said in a loud voice. It was her friends. "Nina!" All of them shouted as they entered her room. Nina was surprised to see her friends. "Hey, I thought you guys need to prepare for the Grad Ball? Why are you all here?" she asked. "Well, since you won't attend the Grad Ball, we decided to go here so that we could fix ourselves. I hope that's OK with you..." Millie said. Nina gave them a faint smile. "Of course it is, but you'll only make me feel envious..."
"Hey, you can still come!" CJ said. "Maybe we could hit the mall and find you a dress..."
"Thanks, CJ, but no, thanks. I'd rather stay home than go to the Grad Ball..."
They all smiled at her, and gave her a big hug. "Don't worry, you're with us in spirit!" CJ said. Then, they all laughed. After a while, Nina's mom entered her room, bringing large package. "Nina, sweety... someone sent this to you..." her mom said as she placed the package on her bed. "Who sent this?" she asked. Her mom just shrugged her shoulder. "It doesn't say in the package." she said. After that, she left the room, leaving the girls wondering who sent her the package.
Well, everyone's thinking who sent Nina the package, except for Lainey. She knew who sent the package, and it's a secret that she's keeping from her friends. She promised Brent that he won't tell anyone about their plan.
The Brent gave her Nina's gift, he told her that he has another request from her. "Please make her come to the Grad Ball..." he said. Lainey shook her head. "I really give up, Brent! I tried to persuade her, but she's made up her mind. She really don't want to go..." she said. Brent just sighed and turned his back on Lainey. "Too bad... I was planning to propose to her on the Grad Ball... I thought you could help me, but I guess it won't really happen..." he said, then he started to leave. Upon hearing that, Lainey followed him and agreed to his plans. "Fine! I'll help you..." Lainey said. Brent looked back at her and smiled. "But, I don't think she have time to change her mind..."
"If it's the dress and the shoes, don't worry, I already bought it for her. I have arranged everything. All you have to do is make her come to the Grad Ball." he explained. Lainey was surprised to hear that it was Brent who bought the dress that Nina was dying to buy for the Grad Ball. "You bought the dress? The pink dress that Nina's been saving up for?" she asked in bewilderment. Brent nodded his head. "Don't worry, everything's been taken care of. Just do your part..."
"But how did you know?"
Brent just gave her a devilish smile. "I'm a good stalker, am I?"
"So, Brent finally sent the dress..." she thought as she watched Nina open the package. "Wait..." CJ said in a loud voice. Everyone looked at her direction "What if it's a bomb?" she said. "Who in their right mind would kill a 16-year old kid, CJ?" Millie asked. "Well, we don't know... terrorists?"
"If they will send me a bomb, it should be ticking. But I didn't hear any sound on this package." Nina said.
As she finished cutting the tape around the box, she lifted the lid and was surprised to see it's content - it was the pink dress that she wanted to buy. It also came with the shoes and the corsage. "Wow..." all of them said in awe, as Nina lifted the dress. "Well... I guess I can go to the Grad Ball after all!" she said. She looked inside the box, and she saw a note. She took it, and began to read it. "'See you tonight' Hmmm... Who will I see tonight?" Nina said. "Maybe it's your secret admirer!" Millie answered. "Or maybe it's Brent!" CJ exclaimed.
Nina smiled when she heard Brent's name. It could be Brent that sent her the package. He's so full of surprises... but is he really the one who sent it? "Well I guess I have to come to find out who sent this. Let's get ready for the Grad ball!" Nina exclaimed.
After they got dressed for the Grad Ball, they decided to go to the living room. They were surprised to see Leon sitting on the couch at the living room, waiting for them. He wore a black suit, and seems like he's also going to the Grad Ball. "Leon?" Lainey said. "What are you doing here?" Nina asked him. Leon stood up from the couch and smiled at them. "I'll be your chaperon that's why I'm here!" he said. "Chaperon? We don't need one! We're big girls!" CJ said.
Nina's starting to think that Brent has got to do with what's happening today. First, the dress, then Leon. Will he show up at the Grad Ball. "I forgot... he's Ashley's date tonight..." she thought. If Leon was sent to be their chaperone, would that mean that Brent asked him to be her date?
"Tell me the truth, Leon..." Nina said as she walked towards him. "Did Brent asked you to be my date? Did he felt guilty for ditching me on this day?" Leon just smiled at her. "Maybe... maybe not. You have to find it out yourself." he replied. After that, he looked at his watch, then turned to the girls again. "We have to get going, or you guys will be late for the ceremonies." he said. The girls were left with no choice but to follow him, and ride with him to the hotel.
Nina stared outside the car window as they drove to the hotel. There are a lot of things that's bothering her. What will she do if she saw Brent? Did he gave the dress and the shoe for the prom? Will Brent say hi to her when they bump into each other? Inspite of it all, she's wishing that she would see Brent standing at the entrance of the hotel. He would smile at her as she help her get out of the car, and he will escort her to the Ball.
Well, the first two parts happened. The moment they arrived at the hotel, the saw Brent standing outside, smiling as he watched the car stop. He looked dashing in his black suit. Nina smiled to herself. She was waiting if Brent would help her to get out of the car, but suddenly, Ashley appeared, and clung into his arm and they walked inside the hotel. The smile on her face slowly disappeared, and she sighed. "I guess not all dreams can come true..." she thought.
Leon opened the door, and helped the girls out. He took Nina's hand, smiled at her. "I'm your temporary escort for tonight." he said. SHe gave him a confused look. "Temporary?"
"You'll find out later..."
They went inside the hotel, and took their seats at their designated table. They watched and waited until the ceremonies are over, and watched people dance on the dance floor. Leon and her friends asked her if she wants to dance, but she declined. "I'll just watch from here." she said. Nina looked at her friends as they crazily danced.
"Would you like to dance?" she heard someone say from her back. When Nina turned around, she saw Brent standing in front of her, smiling. Nina didn't know what to react. She panicked when she saw him. She never thought Brent would approach her and aske her to dance. "I... uhhh... I..." she stuttered. "Please?" he said. Nina smiled and took his hand.
As they walked towards the dance floor, the music changed from upbeat to slow. They stopped in the middle of the floor and faced each other. She put her left hand on his shoulder as he held on to her waist and held her hand. The music began, and they slow danced. Nina was trying to avoid his eyes, but she can't help but stare into his eyes. Brent, on the other hand, stared into her face, wishing that time would stop and they could be together this way for a very long time. It seemed that they're alone, that they didn't notice that most of the crowd were watching their every move.
Maybe the girls around them are envious, because Nina got to dance with the school heart throb. Even Ashley, who's supposed to be his date, didn't had a chance to dance with him. Things seemed awkward between them, and they were silet the whole time. After all the things that's been said and done, they both felt scared to speak up, scared that they might hurt each other again.
"It's time to announce the King and Queen of the night," they heard the emcee said. All the student listened eagerly as the emcee announced the winner. "The king of the night is... Brent Romero!"
Everybody cheered as Brent walked up the stage. One of the teachers put the sash on him, and the other teacher placed the crown on his head. Ashley, on the other walked towards to the stage, waiting for her name to be called. She's happy the Brent became his date. Now that he's the King of the Night, no one else would fit to be the Queen of the Night except for her. "And now, the Queen of the Night is..." the emcee paused. Everybody was gasping and holding their breaths as the emcee announced who Brent's queen will be. "Ms. Nina Mendoza!"
The spoltlight lighted on her, and everybody's attention is on her. She was shocked when she heard her name, so shocked that she couldn't move from where she's standing. Before she knew it, Brent's already in front of her, reaching out his hand to her. "I believe they called Nina Mendoza... and I believe your name is Nina Mendoza." He said smiling at her. Nina took his hand, and he accompanied her to the stage.
After they put the crown and sash on her, another ballad played in the background. As they were about to dance, Ashley sneaked up on Nina, and pushed her away from Brent. "You're not supposed to be the queen. I am the queen, you hear me?" she shouted at her. Nina fought back and pushed her as well. "I hear you, but sorry you're not the queen!" she shouted back at her. Ashley was about to slap her, when Brent gripped her hand and stopped her. "Stop it! You have no right to hurt her!" Brent said as he tried to stop Ashley from attacking Nina. Ashley looked up at him and smirked. "So, I don't have the right to hurt her, huh? Fine!" she said, then she reached for a glass of juice at the nearest table. She threw its content at Nina, but Brent blocked Nina so the juice was thrown at him. After realizing what she did, Ashley's face became apologetic. "I'm sorry, Brent... I really am..." she said in a low voice. "Actually, you have not right to hurt her, or throw drinks at her. Do you have an idea how much her gown's worth?" he shouted at her.
He turned around to leave as he took Nina's hand. After a while, he paused and faced Ashley again. "By the way, you have to pay for this suit as well." he said. After that, he and Nina left the Ballroom.
Nina waited for Brent outside of the men's john. They walked out from the ballroom after Ashley made a scene, and she told him to clean up his suit. After a few minutes, Brent went out of the john. "Sorry to keep you waiting..." he said. Nina smiled at him. "It's OK."
Brent took her hand and lead her outside the hotel's mini-park. They took a seat at a bench that's facing the fountain. "Finally, we're alone..." Brent said as he sat beside her. He looked at her, and smiled. She smiled back at him. "Is there something that you want to tell me?" Nina said. Brent nodded his head and took a deep sigh. "So where should I begin..."
"You can try to start from the very beginning..." Nina said.
Brent looked back at her, and held her hand. "I'm sorry for all the things I've done to you..." he began. "I'm sorry if I'm bullying you, or something. I don't regret it because it made you who you are right now... the truth is, I did that so that you would learn to fight back and stand up for yourself. Once you graduate, you're going to face the real world, and you have no one to depend on but yourself..." he explained. Nina looked up at him as she listened to him explain. She realized that he meant well by his previous actions. And he's right. Right after they graduate, she and her friends would have to part ways. She can't always depend on her friends to stand up for herself. "Thank you..." she said in a low voice.
"I'm sorry to break my promise..." he continued. "The truth is, I never broke any of it." Nina looked up at him again and gave him a confused look. "Ashley lied to you about the date. I never agreed to be her date. Yes, I came with her here, but I used her so that I could go here and see you again..."
"So if you came here to see me, does it mean that you're the one who sent this gown and shoes?" Nina asked. Brent simply nodded his head. "What you didn't know is, I followed you around. You and Lainey went to the mall, and you saw that dress and shoe. I heard you tell her that you're going to save up for these..."
Nina smiled again. "Yes, I did..." She was touched with what Brent did. She never thought he would buy the gown and the shoe so that she could go to the Graduation Ball. "Right after you saw the dress, I bought it immediately. And it was worth it... just seeing you prettier tonight, everything is worth the pain..." he said. Nina could feel her cheeks blush with his compliment. "And about your birthday... it's really my fault. I went to the mall because I forgot your gift. After that, the girls from my class soft of abducted me. I was able to escape when they all went to the john..."
"But I saw you with Ashley that day!" she said defensively. "She pulled me to the cinema. She took my phone and turned it off. That time, I wanted to kill her, believe me!" Brent explained. Nina laughed when his face's expression turned really mad. "I went over at your house, but you're not yet home, and I tried calling you but you also turned off your phone..."
"That's because I didn't turn the lights on because I was so mad at what you did!" she exclaimed. She crossed her arms, and turned her back on him, acting like she's mad at him. "Hey, I bought you a gift! Guess you didn't like because you're not wearing it..."
Nina looked at him again and smiled. She took the necklace from her pouch and showed it to him. "I didn't wear it because I want you to put this around me..." she said. Brent smiled at her as she took the necklace. He stood up and wore the necklace around her neck. "I love it..." Nina said, as she fell the snowflake pendant from her neck. "I'm glad you did..." Brent said.
After that, Nina stood up and took Brent's hand. "Let's go back inside... you're supposed to dance with the queen, remember?" she said. But Brent didn't move. "Is there something wrong?" she asked. "Nina, there's something else I want to say..." he said in a low voice. Nina let his hand go, as she hear him out. "I'm not really good with this... but I guess it's worth a try..." he began. "I... I... I..." he stuttered. Nina just looked at him as he sturggled to speak. "Brent?"
"Nina... I love you..."
Nina could not believe what she heard. "Did I just hear him say 'I love you'?" she thought. "I'm not really good with courting girls but please give me a chance and I'll try to do everything right... I'm not asking for an answer right now, but will you give me a chance?" he asked.
This is a dream that she have always wanted to happen, and it's happening right before her very eyes. She can't deny that even after all the things that happened between them, she's still in love with her dream boy. Nina smiled nervously, trying to find the right words to tell him that she feels the same way. "I... I... well... maybe..." she stuttered. "Maybe?"
"Hey! You surprised me with what you said. I don't know what to say!" she shouted at him. Brent laughed at her. "What's funny?" she said as she gave him a pout. "The word maybe is as good as a yes... so you just have to say yes, you know" he snapped. "Why are you bullying me again?" she said like she was about to break down. Brent smiled at her, and hugged her tight. "I'm so sorry, I won't bully you again... I promise..."
"Well then... OK. I love you to, Brent Romero. School heart throb." she answered.
Well, it's Brent turn to be surprised. "Really?" he said. Nina just nodded her head. Brent smiled, and kissed her on the lips, and as they kissed, the fireworks adorned the night sky, celebrating the love of a nerd and the school's heart throb...