Winter break started the day after Dallas had confronted Raine. Natalia hadn’t even bothered to go to the semi-formal. At least now with winter break, things became more relaxed in the house. The first few days Natalia slept in. She had managed to persuade her brother to go out for dinner on Wednesday simply because she wanted to stay home and sleep, and of course watch a few movies.
“Hey, what are you up to?” Derek asked as he entered the basement. Natalia was curled up on a couch watching ‘Death Race’. “Watching movies.” She told him. “Haven’t you seen that one before?” Derek questioned her. “Yea, except I like watching it.” She told him. Natalia paused the movie and looked up at her brother.
Derek had taken off his jacket and was hanging it up. “You do know that I brought new movies?” Derek asked her. “No, where are they?” She asked him. “Over there on the side of the table.” Derek went and got them. He sat beside his sister. “Where’s Dallas?” Derek asked her, as Natalia shuffled through the movies. Natalia looked up from the pile. “I haven’t seen him. I think he would have died in shock if I asked him to watch movies with me.” Natalia snickered. Derek laughed. “I’ll go find him. Pick out a good movie for all of us to watch.” Derek left Natalia to find Dallas.
Dallas was in his room. He had finished the last of his exams earlier that day. He hadn’t seen much of Natalia in a few days. He had been studying for his courses. Next term he would be going through the training camp for the Toronto Football Club. It was so close, it was his last shot. Every time he thought about it, he got nervous.
Dallas had settled on his bed with two books to read. He had been waiting to read ‘The Up and Comer’ and ‘The Promise of a Lie’ both were by Howard Roughan. Now that he had nothing to worry about he thought it was the perfect time, and it would keep his mind off Natalia.
Someone knocked on his door. For a minute Dallas couldn’t stop himself from hoping it was Natalia, and then when Derek peered in, Dallas could feel the disappointment brewing in him.
“Hey. Do you want to watch movies with us?” Derek asked. Dallas thought about it. He put his book aside. The book could wait till later. “Sure.” Dallas climbed off the bed and joined Derek. They both walked down stairs. “I’ll bring the pop corn and junk food. Just grab a few drinks from the fridge, will you?” Derek asked. Dallas nodded. He went over to the fridge and pulled out some cans of Coca-Cola.
Dallas and Derek headed to the basement together. “Did you pick out a movie, squirt?” asked Derek. “Yea, it’s all set up. We’re watching ‘Fast & Furious’.” She told them. They all settled down to watch. Dallas was sitting next to Derek. Natalia was seated away on his other side. At times, Dallas was watching her reactions more than watching the film.
Strange, why am I just staring at her? He wondered to himself. It was as if he were compelled to just watch her. She never noticed, not once did she turn to look his way. He was grateful for that.
Once the movie ended Natalia headed upstairs for her room. It was late, tomorrow they would all be going out for dinner. “Night!” She called from the steps as she headed up. Dallas waved to her, while Derek told her good night.
Dallas stayed behind to catch up with Derek. They had been pretty busy for the last few days, with Dallas having exams and Derek staying late to work.
“So, how’s everything going?” Dallas asked his friend. “Lately, it’s been a nightmare. Christmas time comes and everything starts to turn into a rush.” Derek told him. They were quiet for a moment. “I heard you punched Raine.” Derek told him. “Really? Natalia told you?” Dallas asked. “No, some of the guys were talking about it during soccer practice last night.” Derek told him. “Oh.” Dallas muttered. “So why did you?” asked Derek curiously. “Why did I what?” Dallas asked. “Why did you hit him?” Derek pressed.
Dallas was quiet a moment. “You know how he was going out with Natalia?” Dallas started. “Yea…can’t say I was thrilled.” Derek replied. “Well he broke up with her…in front of the school…” Dallas mumbled. “He WHAT!” Derek said loudly. “Yea…but that’s not the worst bit…he was talking about it with his friends…and he only asked her out to get even with her for his girlfriend Marissa. They wanted to hurt her.” He told Derek quietly. “I’m going to kill him.” Derek muttered darkly. “Don’t worry…I got him. He was laughing about it…so I socked him in the nose…can’t say I was sorry.” Dallas reassured him.
“When I see him…he’s dead…” Derek was beside himself. “Did Natalia hear what he said?” Derek said remembering why he was so angry. “No…I don’t know…maybe her friends told her, but she wasn’t around when the guys were talking.”
“Thanks.” Derek told him. “Don’t worry about it.” Dallas said, and he meant every word of it. He would have done anything for Natalia. “So does she know you like her?” Derek asked after a few moments. “I don’t think so.” Dallas told him, truthfully. “Well just be careful with her.” Derek warned him. “You shouldn’t worry…she doesn’t think of me as anything but a friend…or less than that most of the time.” Dallas told him with a grin. “You never know.” Derek told him.
Snow kept falling as Wednesday arrived; Natalia went out and help shovel the driveway. Dallas had been shovelling for a while. Natalia had decided to help out. She was bored anyway.
“Need help?” She asked, walking outside. Natalia was wearing a long black woollen coat. She had put on matching mittens, and wore a black ‘Santa Claus’ style hat. “Not at the moment, nope.” Dallas told her, his face was red from the cold wind whipping against it. “Suit yourself…” Natalia muttered.
If he wants to be macho, he can, she thought to herself. Natalia decided to check if the snow was packing snow. She made a small snow ball. It was packing snow! She couldn’t help herself. She made the snow ball bigger. Dallas’ back was turned; he had no idea what she was up to.
Natalia decided to take advantage of the moment. She threw the snowball; it hit Dallas squarely between the shoulders. Natalia couldn’t suppress her laughter. It was when Dallas dropped the shovel to the ground that Natalia ran.
“You’re going to get it!” Dallas told her. He had a grin.
“You’re going to get it.” Dallas told Natalia. She had been clever to have hit him when his back was turned to her. He hadn’t even realized how much of a target he was when she had stepped outside.
Natalia had run to the backyard in an effort to hide from him. Dallas left the shovel right where he had dropped it and picked up some snow as he walked along the path of footprints leading to the backyard; shaping the snow in his hands.
As he reached the backyard, he saw Natalia try to make a run for it. She tried to run behind a shed. Luckily Dallas was too quick for her. He aimed for her legs and hit his target. “Ah!” He heard Natalia exclaim. Her pants were covered in snow. Dallas knew he couldn’t let up now. He aimed another one, and another one. They hit her on the front of her jacket and on the arm.
Natalia didn’t give up, she had snowballs ready for him. One landed right in his face. “Sorry!” She apologized. It had been his mistake. He had tried to duck but the ball of snow had caught him full on. The next one hit him on the back. “I deserve a concession for that hit.” He complained to her. “Yea?” She asked. She threw another one. It missed. “That’s your concession, I missed my target.” She told him, she was grinning.
That was it. Dallas decided to go in for the kill.
Natalia had been getting easy shots at Dallas. He stumbled in the snow, and she hit him with another ball. She had bent down to grab some more snow when she heard a growl. She looked up in surprise.
Dallas was running at her. She didn’t have time to move away, she stood there rooted in place by shock. Before she knew it he had grabbed her and they both were lying on the ground covered head to foot in snow.
“Looks like I win!” Dallas told her. She watched him slowly get up. He offered her a hand in getting up. Natalia shook her head. She lay in the snow, watching Dallas brush off the snow from his coat and pants. He shook his head, trying to get the clumps of snow off his hair.
Natalia decided to make a snow angel. She moved her arms and legs. She loved the feel of the snow. It may have been cold but something about it was comforting…just like swimming in a lake or pool was. As she finished, Natalia held out her hand. Dallas had stayed, watching her effort.
“If you wanted out, you should have said so.” Dallas told her with a grin. She gave him both her hands, and he lifted her up. Dallas brushed the snow off of Natalia’s hair, and hat. He brushed down most of her coat.
Natalia was still feeling mischievous. She had a clump of snow in her mitten covered hands. “You missed a spot.” She told him, smartly. Dallas looked puzzled. “Where?” He asked her. She sprinkled the snow over him. “There, there, and there.” She pointed out. He was smiling at her.
Snow had begun to fall, as they stood there facing each other. Natalia could see Dallas’ snow covered eyelashes, from where she stood. His light brown eyes held warmth in them. Not for the first time, Natalia felt drawn to him.
She couldn’t help herself. Natalia leaned in, Dallas met her. She could feel the cold wet snow, as their lips met. He was still warm. She wouldn’t have complained to stay like this forever, she thought.
Soon enough, he gently ended the kiss. As he brushed some more snow from her hair, his hand lingered there for a moment. She noticed he hadn’t worn any gloves or mittens. His hands were red from the cold. “We should go inside, you’re all red.” She told him softly.
Quietly they headed down the path leading to the driveway. They both headed inside, the shovel lying forgotten in the snow. Natalia watched as Dallas hesitated when they reached the door. “I should finish this.” He told her. Natalia didn’t want him to, but she nodded. “Here wear these.” She took off her mittens, and hat. She placed the hat on his head and handed him the mittens.
“I’ll make some hot chocolate…to warm up.” She told him, as Natalia headed inside. Once she had closed the door, Natalia wondered why she cared if he was cold. Since he had stayed with her that night, it was like the balance she had wanted to keep had been destroyed…or tilted in his favour. The equilibrium she had fought for was shifting, leading her to him. It’s not right, I need to stop this…Natalia thought, and she knew she was steadily losing this battle. Why did it feel so right?
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