"This is just a little idea that grew into a whole backstory sort of thing. I'm not all that happy with the end result here, but I've very little confidence in my ability to write anything at all 'romantic.' I still really like Maeve though."
“Oh, Ciar,” Ms. Clarke sighed. “Button up your shirt!”
In answer, Ciar buttoned the buttons his sleeves, but made no move to fix the buttons that on the front of his shirt. He was of course wearing a t-shirt underneath it, but his guardian didn’t seem any less displeased by that fact. She took these open house party things very seriously. Ms. Clarke shook her head in disappointment before turning around to survey the crowd of people in the center of the party room. Ciar had already had to fight through that crowd to find his isolated little table. He had no plans to move. Ms. Clarke’s face lit up as she finally spotted the person for whom she’d been looking.
“Maeve!” she greeted, causing a young girl in the crowd to turn towards her. The teenager then proceeded to walk over to Ms. Clarke, Ciar watching her carefully the whole time. He smelt a setup.
“Hello, Miss Clarke,” the girl said politely. “Thank you so much for inviting us.”
“’T’was my pleasure, dear,” she replied. “Do you know many people here?”
“No, not really,” Maeve shrugged. “But I don’t really know many people outside of school.”
“Oh aye,” the woman sighed. “Ciar here is in the same boat. Isn’t that right, Ciar?”
The boy looked up at Ms. Clarke in annoyance, but she continued, “I’ll bet you two probably have a lot in common, eh, Maeve?”
“I can’t really say,” the girl said nervously as she glanced at Ciar. “Hi there.”
Ciar simply nodded to her in reply. At least this girl wasn’t knowingly involved in this scheme.
“Well, I’ll just leave you kids to your own devices,” the woman said as she began to walk away. “I know you don’t want to be talking to a boring old adult like me.”
Ciar and Maeve watched Ms. Clarke as she walked away and then they turned to each other. Maeve let her shoulders slump and muttered, “Well, that was subtle.”
Ciar smirked briefly at her comment before turning his gaze to look at the ceiling. Subtlety was so not Ms. Clarke’s strong suit. The woman was always trying to make Ciar hang out with “other kids his own age.” It was usually really annoying.
Maeve stepped over and took a seat, not at Ciar’s table, but at a neighboring table so they were still beside each other. Her gaze was fixed on the rest of the party, so Ciar took a moment to really get a good look at the girl. Her hair was brown and haphazardly tired up in a messy bun. Her completion was fair and her eyes were light green and devoid of any of the sparkles that the other girls at the party were wearing. She was dressed in a very simple purple dress and green sweater so she looked rather casually dressed for the “semi-formal” event. As if to drive that point home, the girl tucked her feet under her chair and Ciar could now see that she was wearing black sneakers rather than heels.
“Your parents drag you here, too?” she asked at last, not bothering to turn her gaze from the party.
“Sorta,” Ciar replied, turning away from her again.
“I’m missing the season finale of MPB: Swords for this,” she sighed as she rested her chin in her palm.
Ciar nodded, though Maeve probably couldn’t see him.
“So, what was your plan for surviving the party?” she asked, turning part way to look at him again.
Ciar sighed long and heavily before answering, “To sit here.”
“Probably smart,” she replied. “I thought I could get lost in the crowd. I should have known that I’d get caught.”
“That’s Miss Clarke,” Ciar agreed as he noticed the woman standing across the room pointing not so subtly towards him and Maeve as she talked with her friends.
“How do you know her?” Maeve asked.
Ciar sunk a couple of inches down his chair. “Legal guardian…” he muttered.
“Whoa,” Maeve replied as she too noticed Ms. Clarke across the room. “That’s gotta be…interesting.”
He could only scoff in reply, which made Maeve smile briefly.
The two teenagers stayed silent for a few moments after that. Ciar took up counting the chairs at each table to avoid glancing over to Maeve. She never glanced back though, so what was the harm?
“There’s a small telly in the office,” she said suddenly. “We could make a break for it.”
Ciar turned to Maeve, hoping that there would be some sort of joking expression on her face, but there was none. She had meant it.
“Unless you actually enjoy Ms. Clarke’s far off company,” she joked as the gossiping woman continued to talk about them.
Ciar turned and just caught Ms. Clarke as she turned her gaze away from him. Was the woman hoping to catch him and Maeve smiling and laughing like a couple of idiots?
“You’re serious?” Ciar asked. He always gave his guardian a hard time, but he never actually went as far as to disobey her or break into her office.
In answer, Maeve smiled again and then got up from the table to head for the nearest door out into the hall. Ciar found himself getting up from his table and following after her. Ms. Clarke did seem to take notice, but she didn’t bother to leave her group of friends.
They darted off into the main lobby and then through the door into Ms. Clarke’s office. There was in fact a small television sitting on an end table by the window. It was a portable clunky looking model, but it was probably good enough for watching MPB: Swords.
Maeve turned it on and started flipping through the channels for the crime drama. Then she pulled up a couple of chairs and sat down eagerly. Ciar sat down beside her in the other chair and the girl suddenly giggled mischievously. Ciar was a bit taken aback, but the girl quickly composed herself. She probably wasn’t as much of a sneak as she had led him to believe.
The show started and the two of them watched it in silence. During the commercial breaks Maeve would nod to him excitedly or gasp at the twist in the plot, but other than that they didn’t really do much more than watch. Halfway through the episode they heard someone talking out in the lobby. Maeve turned the television off and quickly rode her swivel chair back into its place at the desk. Ciar got to his feet and watched as the girl looked around frantically for a place to hide.
He quickly ducked into one of the niches beside the door, the one that would be blocked when the door was opened, and waved for Maeve to follow him. He’d used this hiding place many times before while Ms. Clarke was working.
Maeve ducked into the niche with him just as the door swung open and Ms. Clarke stepped inside. The two teenagers were as silent as possible, not even daring to breath. Ciar was holding Maeve by her shoulders to keep the girl from accidently stepping on his feet. She smelt kind of like vanilla.
After a few seconds of glancing around, Ms. Clarke disappeared back through the door. The two fugitives stepped back out into the open and Maeve sighed with relief. “You don’t think she’s worried about us do you?” Maeve asked a bit guiltily.
“There’s only fifteen minutes left,” Ciar shrugged.
Maeve gave him a quick smile and then went to turn the television back on. They went back to watching the show just as they had before, except now Ciar couldn’t help stealing glances at Maeve when she wasn’t looking. Her bright green eyes complimented her sudden and brief little smiles so well. It was also nice that she didn’t constantly smile. It felt more sincere how it just came and went.
Before he had even realized that MPB was over the credits were rolling. Maeve turned off the television and leaned back in her chair with a satisfied sigh. “I’m glad they didn’t leave it on a cliffhanger this season,” she approved.
Ciar nodded, though in truth he had kind of spaced out for the last few minutes of the show. “So, shall we make a reappearance before your legal guardian decides to send out a search party?”
Ciar found that he really wouldn’t mind going back to the party if Maeve was going to be there. He wouldn’t mind at all. In fact, he figured that any place might be more tolerable with her around. She didn’t complain about his attitude or his unbuttoned shirt. The two of them could…
Ciar stood up from his chair and quickly made his way to the door. What was he thinking?
Maeve jumped to her feet and followed after him. “I’ll go first,” he said, not bothering to turn and look at her.
“Okay,” the girl conceded.
Ciar then went out into the lobby and closed the door behind him. Instead of heading back to the party he went straight out the front door and down the street. It was a long walk from the main building to the other end of the villas where his house was, but couldn’t exactly ask Ms. Clarke for a ride. It couldn’t be more than seven minutes away. It just felt far because he was wearing his stupid dress shoes. Maeve had had more sense than to wear fancy footwear.
Ciar shook his head, not wanting to think about Maeve anymore. She’d probably never think of him again anyway.