It was in between classes and I was hanging around in front of the lockers. To pass the time before my next class, I decided to look at the photos I had taken of Dae. I didn’t hear Veronica and Radika as they walked up behind me and peered over my shoulder so I was startled when Veronica exclaimed, “Who’s that?”
“My boyfriend, Dae,” I told her. Inwardly, I sighed. The cat was out of the bag now.
“Really?” she sounded incredulous.
“Let me see,” Radika said. She looked at the photo. “How old is he?”
“Why would a twenty-eight year old guy be dating a high-school senior?” Veronica asked. She turned to Radika. “I bet you he isn’t her boyfriend.”
“Maybe he’s some model whose image she got off the Internet,” Radika suggested.
“And now she’s passing him off as her boyfriend.”
I stood there shocked and staring at them. How could they think that I would do something as ridiculous and desperate as that? Frustrated, I showed them a photo of Dae and me together. It was one of me sitting on his lap and him nuzzling my neck while I was looking into the camera with a big smile on my face. I loved it when he nuzzled my neck. It tickled and thrilled me at the same time.
Veronica stared at the photo with her mouth wide open. “I don’t believe it,” she exclaimed.
Radika looked at me. “How did you manage to snag a handsome guy like him?” she asked.
I glared at her. “Am I am ugly duckling or something?” I demanded. “Is that why you can’t believe that I could attract a guy like him?”
“Look at him,” Veronica said. “He’s handsome and very polished while you’re…you’re not his type at all.”
“Do you know what his type is?” I retorted.
Veronica shrugged. “I don’t,” she admitted. “But, I doubt that you’re it.”
“I’ve always had a thing for Asian men,” Radika said, her eyes lingering on Dae.
“Me too,” Veronica said. “Especially when they look like him.”
“Yes,” Radika agreed. She was practically drooling over him. Grimacing, I closed the image and slipped my cell into my bag. “How come he’s dating you instead of an Asian woman?” she asked.
I wondered if I should tell them that he was engaged to an Asian woman but broke it off because of me. I decided not to. It wasn’t any of their business. The only person who knew that Dae was once engaged was my grandmother. “If he wanted to date an Asian woman, he would have done so,” I said. “But, as you can see, he wanted to date me instead.”
“How did you meet him anyway?” Veronica asked.
“We met one afternoon when I went for a walk along the South Bank of the River Thames. He was there alone and he came over to me. He introduced himself and we talked for a while and then, he asked if we could meet again the following day. We did and then, we began seeing each other regularly. And now, we’re dating.”
“Lucky you,” Radika remarked, sounding envious. “Why can’t I meet guys like him?”
“How come you never told us about him before?” Veronica asked.
Before I could answer, Radika exclaimed, “That’s why you stopped hanging out with us. You were hanging out with him instead.”
“Have you and he–you know…?” Radika gave me a knowing look, her eyes wide with curiosity.
I didn’t answer. It really wasn’t any of her business.
“He isn’t going to marry you, you know,” Veronica said. “You’re from two different cultures and I’m sure his family won’t approve.”
“I agree with Veronica. He’s going to end up marrying a woman from his own background.”
“He loves me,” I informed them resentfully.
Veronica looked at me as if she felt sorry for me. “Maybe he does but it wouldn’t matter in the long run. He will end up choosing culture over love. Enjoy your relationship while you still can because there’s no future for you with him.”
I couldn’t stand any more. “I’ve to go or I’ll be late for my class,” I said tightly. Grabbing my bag, I turned abruptly and walked away. Some distance away, I paused to glance over my shoulder. They were still standing in front of the lockers, talking. They were probably talking about me and marveling that a handsome and polished guy like Dae would be dating someone like me.
I thought they were my friends. I guess I was wrong. With friends like these, I didn’t need enemies.