"Hey Amber," said Ella's voice behind her, "what's your favorite kind of chocolate?" This was the strangest question her best friend had ever asked her. She spun in a whirlwind of confusion and faced her friend.
"Lindt," Amber replied, slightly befuddled. "Why do you need to know?" Ella's face seemed to freeze up in a state of panic.
"Uh... well... y-you see, Amber..." she stuttered as she tried to find a reasonable answer. "We're taking a poll in Journalism and want everyone's feedback... Yeah, that works." Amber rolled her eyes, not bothering to investigate further for the real reason. Mike, their friend, walked through the halls, his deep brown eyes scanning for the two friends. Once he caught sight of them, he rushed over.
"Hey, you two," he said, ruffling his brown hair. "So how's it going?"
"Fine," the girls said in unison. He eyed Ella with a look that made Amber extremely suspicious.
"So, Ella, did you find my research?" he asked slowly, trying to help her get the hint.
"Research? You said that you would find the information for biology!" she screamed at him. He slapped his head and sighed in indignation. He stomped off to his next class. Ella thought about it for a while and replied with a loud yell down the stairwell:
"Oh yeah! I know what should be her gift! I just asked her!"
The next day, Amber arrived at her seat in history with a trio of white boxes tied in red ribbon sitting on her desk. In front of the presents was a small note on a small piece of white card with gold edges. It read:
I hope you like your gifts and that you realize how much you mean to me.
May, a girl who sat next to her and was extremely jealous of her, snickered and said, "Looks like you have a secret admirer. I just don't know who would be so idiotic as to like you, of all people." Amber didn't care about that annoying comment at the moment. Instead, she sat, wondering who could have given her these gifts. She set them on the floor to open during her break.
She walked to Ella's locker with the gifts in her shaky hands and put them on the ground at Ella's feet. All Ella could do was stare.
"So," she started, "whatcha got there?"
"Presents," Amber said in her usually calm voice. There was something off in it. It sounded almost sad and scared. Mike walked over to them and stared at the boxes with wide eyes.
"Are you going to open those?" he asked. She looked up and nodded. That was the most obvious thing to do.
The first present that she opened was, ironically, a small box of Lindt truffles. Her mouth started to water and she licked her lips. If she decided to eat them in front of her friends without offering, she would look like a pig. Plus she wanted to open the others, so she gave the box of truffles to Ella, who gazed at the truffles with a strong hunger.
The second was a hand-drawn portrait of her. It looked almost exactly like her. Whoever liked her really spent time looking at her. At the bottom was a small caption that read:
A girl of pure innocence, with deep, big eyes the color of dark chocolate. A wavy waterfall of a blackish-brown silk tumbling down her back. Skin tanned to perfection. She can make anyone smile, laugh, and she cares. She doesn't sin, except for one she has done to me. She stole my heart.
Amber sat on the floor staring at this masterpiece. "Take a look at this," she said to Mike, and handed him the picture. He looked down at Ella, who was sitting with Amber and the now open box of truffles, a quarter of them already eaten. She took a glimpse of his face and giggled in a way that said "I have a secret."
The third present was a silver pendant. It had her initials on it: A.S. There was also a tiny heart on the back of the oval disc, made of a little sapphire blue gem. She gazed at it and thought it a beautiful treasure. Mike sat down behind her and took the edges of the chain. "I'll put it on you if you want." He clipped the ends together while she held her hair up in a ponytail. He stood back up with a partly pink face. Amber blushed a light pink herself.
"Thanks, Mike," she said, embarrassed. He nodded, not daring to look her in the eyes. She looked at the necklace and the picture that Mike was no longer holding. She also glanced at Ella, who was wolfing down truffles by the handful. "I wonder who got me these," she pondered. Ella and Mike shared a quick, fearful stare and looked back at Amber.
"I do to," Ella said, with a harsh tone of seriousness in her voice.
The day before winter break, Amber kept at this strange idea. She tried to focus on what the gifts meant. The chocolate, she assumed, meant her sweet personality. Plus it was her favorite kind of candy. The portrait displayed her physical beauty. The silver necklace, she guessed, could have meant the pure and beautiful soul she had.
"Who could care about me this much?" she said out loud, while passing some sophomores, who stared at her in puzzlement. She knew her friends cared about her. So did her teachers. There wasn't a guy in the school who could care for her. She couldn't steal a guy's heart even if she put her whole mind to it. Then she remembered. Mike was probably the only guy who could care about her that much. This was all so confusing, because even though she could tell from the signs, she started feeling this desire tugging in her heart for him as well. She saw him walk past and grabbed his shoulder. They stood, facing each other in the empty hallway, quite awkwardly, until she started to speak.
"Mike," she said, their eyes meeting and locking in an embrace only they could feel, "I love you too..."
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