Chapter 18: Devi to the rescue

Etta was mad. Disappointed too. And slightly embarrassed.  But mostly mad.

“As it turned out, the prince I thought I kissed was not really a prince after all. At least not for me. Maybe I should just kiss you, what do you say, Louis?”

At first, she was mad at Dante. Or she wanted to be. But she knew it wasn’t really his fault – people couldn’t decide what to memorize. It wasn’t like he did it on purpose.

Besides, Dante was still visiting them regularly for his music lessons and Etta found it impossible to stay away from him. Getting a chance to be around him and not taking it… still felt like a terrible waste. Everytime she saw his face or made him smile or simply heard him ringing the door bell, it made her heart flutter like there was a humming bird trapped inside her chest  – and she was getting addicted to the rush.

Dante was not helping, either. Clueless about what he was doing to her heart and mind and her whole existence, he started scheduling his lessons with Devi more often. And what was even worse (or better), he hanged around their house longer after each one of them.

They were never up to anything fancy. Mostly he watched her cook dinner and although she never persuaded him to help with preparations, he always happily helped with eating.

Dante: “If I could sing like you can cook, I would be a plumming rock star by now. Seriously, Etta, people need this. People need your food. You’re committing a crime by keeping this to yourself.”

They also talked a lot. About school and after school plans, about music and football and food. About their families, too. Etta told him some embarrassing childhood stories about Amon and Dante regularly shared the craziest family histories with her.

D: “So, my grandfather, Don, never married grandma Dina. He actually married her mom! But not before he had an affair with grandma’s sister Nina. And he also got all three of them pregnant – while they all lived in one house!”

Etta: “Hm, I’m pretty sure you’re making this up.”

D: “Oh, come on! I’m not creative enough to come up with something that plummed up. Too bad grandfather left before my mother was even born. He sounds like a fun guy to hang out with. He could probably teach me a thing or two.”

E: “Yeah, like how to get chlamydia.”

D: “Holy plum, someone’s been paying attention in sex ed, huh?”

Sometimes, he played a few songs for her while constantly making fun of his lack of skill, although that joke was getting less and less funny every time, since Dante’s playing was actually getting better rapidly. He usually played some sappy love song from the 80s, because they had easier chords, as he explained.

Etta didn’t mind. There were only very few things in the world she found more mesmerizing than Dante at that point of her life, but singing Dante was definitely one of them. The lyrics were often so suggestive that Etta was sure he chose them on purpose to torture her.

“I wanna know what love is.”

“I want you to show me.”

Etta to herself: ‘Oh, I’ll show you right now, boy.’

Still, it was a strangely pleasant torture. Too bad it was always over when Amon came home, since Dante was only sticking around until Amon showed up and then they headed out together. But Etta was grateful for every second. The boys were already seniors in high school. Soon, they would graduate and leave and her few stolen moments with Dante would end forever. She just couldn’t afford being angry at him, when their time was so limited.

So instead, the poor girl was mad at herself. She was mad for being so naive, for letting herself hope that someone like Dante could ever be interested in her. He was the most popular guy in their school, a talented athlete and musician and also the most handsome person she has ever seen. He could have any girl he pointed his finger at.

‘Why on earth would he choose me?’

It was hopeless. She knew it. But no matter how much she fought it, she couldn’t get rid of those feelings. On the contrary. Few weeks went by and Etta realized that what was once a pure physical reaction changed  to actual affection. She cared about him. She cared about his well-being, she cared about his daring dreams, she cared about his heart, simply because she knew now he had one, no matter how hard he tried to hide it with his playboy manners and indifferent attitude.

She cared about him. And it was almost unbearable.

But Etta was not the only one to notice the change.

Devi: “Hmmm, I feel like we should talk.”

E: “What? Why?”

D: “Dunno! I just feel like we should. It’s been awhile since we talked. I feel like talking to you.”

E: “You’re being weird, Devi.”

Etta was suspicious, but her aunt just winked at her like it was no big deal.

D: “Aren’t we all, from time to time? I have an open air concert in the park tonight. Wanna come?”

After Etta’s hesitant little nod, she smiled brightly.

D: “Awesome! Let me change to something more comfortable and we’re good to go.”

Etta was glad she came. Watching Devi perform was energizing and uplifting. She knew Devi was highly skilled and talented musician, she had heard her practice many times before. Daily. But seeing her perform, seeing the energy she poured into her music was a totally different experience.

Afterwards, they sat to eat veggie burgers Etta prepared for them and after a very brief, pleasant small talk, Devi looked at her niece knowingly:

D: “Etta, I know you better than you think. I can see something’s troubling you. So if you feel like talking about it, I’m right here.”

Etta sighed. She did feel like talking about it, she just didn’t want anyone to know that such a ridiculous matter was troubling her. It was such a petty thing in the grand scheme of things, after all.

Etta: “So…there’s… this one…boy….”

It sounded even worse than she imagined it and Devi’s badly hidden ‘I knew it’ look didn’t help.

E: “Geez, don’t give me the look, Devi.”

D: “Sorry. Go on.”

E: “Okay, so there’s this boy and he is… he’s kinda terrible. He swears a lot and he doesn’t take school seriously. He’s unpredictable, frustrating, immature, even reckless sometimes. And he’s also a bit of flirt.”

D: “And let me guess – you can’t stop thinking about him.”

E: “Pretty much. Tell me, Devi, have I lost my mind?”

E: “Because I DON’T want to like him! I’ve never intended to feel this way, it’s just… I think I also see someone else beneath all that. And that someone is… unlike all the other boys I know.”

D: “I see. And how does he feel about all this?”

E: “How should I know? It’s not like I can go and ask him…”

D: “Why not? Maybe you should. It might be a relevant piece of information for him.”

E: “Well, I’ve tried, but… It’s hard. I mean, he’s way out of my league.”

D: “First of all, the ‘league’ is made up high school plum. And second of all: of course it’s hard. Being vulnerable and exposed is the hardest thing, my sweet. But don’t let your fear hold you back. If you love someone, there is no possible harm in saying so.”

E: “No possible harm? But what if…”

D: “Only a psychopath would feel anything but pleased to hear that someone finds them attractive, Etta. At worst, he doesn’t feel the same and you’ll be exactly where you are now – not with him, right?”

D: “But at best, he does feel the same and he’s  scared to tell you, just like you are.”

“And if that’s the case – it would be a waste of  a possibly great love story, don’t you think?”

8 thoughts on “Chapter 18: Devi to the rescue

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