"All love that has not friendship for its base, is like a mansion built upon the sand."

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Chapter Four

"What, Nal? He was dangling you in front of me and you…" His words echoed in her head as she walked from eighth period to her locker, but this time she welcomed the memory. From experience, he didn't seem like the jealous type, but then again, when had he ever made sense to her.

Although, being jealous of Izz was a lost cause, it wasn't that he was ugly; he just wasn't the type of guy she wanted. She wanted a person who had a passion that never ceased to amaze her. The type of person who loved just as deeply as she did, who always kept her coming back, and who's smile eclipsed all other light, and-

The thought skittered to a halt as her eyes fell to the hall in front of her. There Will stood, leaning on a wall opposite a group of lockers. Two girls were walking past him, glanced over and started to giggle to each other. As they passed Nal, they paid no attention; just spoke in high whispers, saying words like "hot", "cool", and "cute".

But just as the girls paid no attention to her, he paid no attention to them. It made her spirits lighter. And there they were. Only there was too much distance for her liking.

Since a few months ago she had stopped letting her feelings for him really show, not wishing to push him to a direction he did not want to venture toward.

Of course, Nal knew the truth, that she still loved him dearly. As much in love with Will Navin as the day she had realized it, if not more. What choice could she have made, really?

Love did not come without consequences, and Nal's was to suffer with the fact that she loved her closest guy friend. Losing him, in any form, would be too painful.

As her mind whirled, her legs had carried her to him. Had he waited here, knowing she would come by? They're eyes met and he regarded her silently, his deep brown eyes making her anxious.

Those two girls were wrong, dead wrong. Words like "hot" or "cool" or "cute" could not do him justice. They had absolutely no idea, no girl did. His lips parted, showing some of his straight, white teeth.

"You deserve more than an apology from me. But this is all I can think of at the moment, so I'm sorry… I guess I shouldn't have acted that way, as if you're mine. We both know you aren't," he paused, purposely looking at her. He spoke the truth, to say the least, "I was angry because not only did Izz remind me, but you did as well."

She tried not to feel her heart constrict. He doesn't mean it; he doesn't know what he's saying. Her mind was racing, running back in time to the end of August last year, when he told her what she never wanted to hear.

His voice was that tone, the exact tone his voice had been when he had first apologized to her. It made her resolve fly out the window and her knees feel like jelly.

"So, I'm sorry," he wasn't just apologizing for this morning. He sighed, blinked, and then looked down at her, his eyes once again having that prickling intensity. She could not stop the shiver that ran down her spine,

"I-It's okay," she stammered, unsure if the answer was sufficient, "It doesn't make much difference who puts their arm around me, I don't like them, or Izz, for that matter," she snuck a glance, seeing his eyes still on her she glanced away, focusing on the lockers beside them, "And I'm sorry for saying you were overreacting…"

He smiled lightheartedly at this, which she could not help but return. Her train of thought shifted ever so slightly, the words came out before Nal knew what she was saying, "In seventh today, I ran into your teammates, Dessen and Phillips," he turned fully toward her, his attention re-caught, "they didn't say much, but I have a question."

His eyebrows lifted, "About what?"

"Dessen called me 'the girl'. What did he mean?"

His cheeks grew darker, and a tan hand flew to his mouth to cover an uncomfortable cough. Still, he looked straight at her,

"They call you 'the girl' to get under my skin about our relationship." Her eyes visible widened and this time, she blushed. He chuckled, unable to help himself.

Will then grinned crookedly, his embarrassment easily forgotten and the air between them growing comfortable. He always got a kick out of messing with her, and she always pretended it bothered her. When in actuality, she loved it.

In the next few seconds, he acted with speed. The boy reached out a hand, enclosing his palm against her lighter arm, -noting the contrast- slowly pulling her near until their bodies were much closer. Tentatively, yet quickly he wrapped his arms around her in an embrace.

It never took long for her to retaliate, but he never hugged her with two arms, this was a first. Needless to say she was surprised, but she rather liked it. So, she did what people do in those situations and returned the hug, putting her own arms around his torso.

The scent of him invaded her sense of smell rather quickly, taking into account that he was around eight inches taller. Nal could not put a name to his scent, just that it was extremely soothing and even a bit maddening.

Surely this was not good, getting too close. But the way his arms were locked around her, it made her think something different.

Her eyes snapped open, not even knowing they had closed, and pulled free of his grasp. She took a couple steps back, her hand flying to her mouth, to try and repress words.

Will's eyes widened in obvious shock, yet took a step forward, longing to take her by the arm again. As his hand reached out, she said something so inaudible he shouldn't have been able to hear it,

"No," he reared back, her protest like a slap to the face, "you'll only regret it later."

"You think I'll regret it?"

"I know you will"

"Well, you're wrong. I'd never regret you." Dark brown eyes widened in pure surprise, but a second later her gaze dropped to the floor.

"And in a few months, you'll forget and/or deny those words. And I'll be alone, again, as if we never existed. Because to you, Will, we don't," her voice was ruefully soft and she did not look up once.

If she had looked up, she would've seen the flurry of emotions that adorned his imperfect face, the shock, hurt, the anger, but most of all the soft expression that won over all other emotion.

"Nal, look up," he murmured, wanting her attention. Her head shook, not complying. Well, then… His hand once again reached for her, but to put two fingers underneath her chin in an effort to grab her attention.

She still didn't meet his eyes, terrified of what she wouldn't see. His touch was tingling, yet she forced herself not to feel the longing that could cloud her reasoning.

"Please, look at me," he pleaded, putting raw emotion into his voice. He seldom let this type of emotion into his voice or his stare, fear and desperation. As far as she knew, he didn't know what those two feelings were.

Her eyes slid to him and what she saw was more than she had ever been shown. Her breath caught, her heart felt like it was being squeezed by an invisible hand, and her vision looked hazy.

Those orbs of bright brown were desperate, his eyebrows furrowed, his lips parted ever so slightly to show his teeth clenched, yet he looked… He looked…

"Why are you looking at me like that?"

"I don't like seeing you this way," he replied, his hand traveled upward to move against her cheek ever so slightly. "And Nal, I was serious."

"About what…?" She asked. The girl could not focus with him so close, his fingers dancing across her face.

"I would never regret you. I may have not been willing to try before, but regretting anything, especially you, is something I won't do. I care and feel too much to do so."

And with that, Nal looked him the eye. His expression slid into a smile, and he once again pulled her close. Only this time, he knew she would not pull away.