As Noelle hurried down the avenue, taking long strides,the only things on her mind were, one: the tongue lashing she wanted to give to Ryan Reece for depriving her of yet another night’s worth of sleep and, two: telling Danielle– once and for all – to get that crazy idea of hooking her up with him out of her head!

The sound of footsteps approaching fast behind her interrupted the somewhat violent thoughts.

“Hey, Good-lookin’! Wait up!”

Noelle sighed and quickened her pace. She did not have to look around to know who that voice belonged to. After all, that smooth, sultry sound was part and parcel of why she was late.

“Hey, Noelle!” He called out again. “It’s me – Ryan Reece! Slow down, girl!” He jogged and caught up with her. “You really know how to give a brotha a run for his money, uh, Sweet Thang?” he grinned, staring down at her with his devastating eyes.

“What are you, Ryan Reece?” Noelle spat, glaring at him. “A stalker?”

His smile got even wider. “Only for you, babe! By the way, you’re looking great today.”

Noelle glanced down at her school uniform. “I’m in my u-ni-form, Ryan…the same one I wear everyday! The same one that all the other girls at Halfway Tree Academy wear eh-ve-ryday! What’s so great about it?”

“You’re the only one who makes it look sooo hot!”

Noelle felt her heart swelling with pride despite herself. Lord God now! He thinks I’m hot!

As she felt her cheek grow warm with the rising blush, she sent up a prayer of thanks to God for blessing her with dark-brown complexion. She was glad that he could not see the effect he was having on her. “Really now?” she said, trying to act as though she did not care.

“Yeah, girl,” Ryan insisted. “You are too fine. I swear you have gotta be God’s greatest gift to men!”

Noelle’s eyebrows rose appreciatively but she remained speechless. At that moment, she was unable to form any coherent thought least of all one of her usual caustic remarks.

chasing noelle

Ryan capitalized on the opportunity when she did not reply. “So, Noelle, are you always this late for school?”

“Are you always this late?” Noelle shot back, defensively. She couldn’t very well tell him that the reason she was late was because thoughts of him had kept her up all night.

Ryan shrugged his broad shoulders and made a slight face. “Well, believe it or not, I couldn’t sleep last night cause you were running a marathon through my mind!”

Noelle’s pulse rate quickened and she almost tripped over a crack in the sidewalk as they turned onto the main road.

WHAT! Is this dude serious! “Really now?” she heard herself say again.

Ryan laughed softly. “You seem to say that a whole lot. What? Don’t you believe anything I tell you?”

Noelle stopped short and straightened to her full five foot six height as she placed her hands on her hips. “As a matter o’ fact, I don’t!” she glared up at him. Wow! Him tall, eh!

Ryan came to a stop as well and looked down at her with a big smile on his luscious lips. She was even more attractive than he had thought initially. Her face was a feminine heart shape and she reminded him of a younger, darker version of the popular American singer, Ashanti. “But what reason have I given you not to?” he wanted to know.

“None. But –”

“Nuh-oh!” Ryan held up his hand. “No buts, Baby-Cakes– just gimme a straight answer!”

Noelle gaped at him for a steady five seconds and then her assertive nature kicked in. She glared up at him, looking directly into his eyes despite the disarming effect they were having on her.

“Okay, fine!” she hissed, her voice full of venom. “I thought it was obvious that I don’t – like – you! And I don’t know yuh from Adam so I don’t trus’ yuh! An’ since I don’t like, know or trust you, then I can’t be-lieve any – thing – that – you – say!”

Ryan shrugged, shook his head and looked unconvinced. “How do I know you’re not lying about that?”

“Trus’ mi, Missa Man!” Noelle said firmly. “I’ve never been more honest in my life!” Lord, forgive mi!

“Okay…but why don’t you like me if, as you say, you don’t know me?”

The unexpected question caught her off guard and for a second or two she was rendered speechless as she gaped at him, a sitting duck. Then, because she could not think of anything else to say or do, she cut her eyes at him and summoned the skills she had acquired thanks to the Drama Club. “Oh, whatever!” Noelle threw up her arms and started walking again, glancing at her watch. “It’s 8:30! I have to go!”

Ryan’s counter-move was, again, unanticipated. He reached out and grasped her wrist gently. “Come on, Noelle…all I’m asking for is a chance.”

She exhaled, heavily, for his hearing still she was quite taken aback by the fact that he was pleading with her.

“Will you go to a movie with me tomorrow!” he asked, as she shook off his hand and proceeded to dash across the road to the Bus Stop.

As she reached the opposite side, a route taxi slowed to a stop at her feet.

“One an’ drive! Half o’ tree, Schoolahs?” the driver leaned across the steering wheel of the white Nissan wagon and peered at her expectantly.

Ryan was jogging across the road towards her now. “Whadduya say, Noelle? I promise. You won’t regret it!”

Noelle hated herself for what she did next. “Get a life!” she hissed a fraction of a second before she jumped into the vehicle.

Ryan laughed and knocked the side of the car as it started moving. “Keep that up, babe! I love challenges!”

* * *

Copyright (c) Mandisa M. Parnell 2014


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