Chapter 32:

Connie Capperman: Introduction Part 2

New Leaf!

A couple of seconds passed… I could tell… this is going to turn into an awkward situation. I mean, there was a prolonged silence between us. I should start a conversation… But what do I talk about? Hm… What’s something we equally know about that we can talk about? Um… This mall? No, it’ll be more like I’m asking questions and he’s answering… T-The weather? I mean, that’s a common conversation starter, right? No, that’s lame… We can talk about Ren… But… I barely know about him. It’ll be more like I’m asking questions about him when I should actually get answers from Ren himself…Bookmark here

Connie moved to the seat in front of me.Bookmark here

“So Carmyn, how are you?”Bookmark here

Connie started. He didn’t seem to be as energetic as when we first met — but he still radiated a welcoming vibe.Bookmark here

“O-Oh, I’m good, thanks…”Bookmark here

“Good, good…”Bookmark here

He nodded. He then propped his elbows on the table and laid his head on his intertwined fingers. His pose and face… His friendly demeanour was still present, but why did I feel more intimidated? I was more nervous than how I’d feel upon meeting a stranger for the first time. Bookmark here

“Camryn, are you feeling a bit nervous right now?”Bookmark here

Did he read my mind?Bookmark here

“E-Eh? N-No, not really…”Bookmark here

“Kid, you don’t really have to hide it. I mean, it’s totally fine if you are. Anyone would feel a bit nervous upon meeting a stranger — especially if it’s a maniac like me! Anyway, you can rest assured and sedate yourself.”Bookmark here

“I see…”Bookmark here

Why was I feeling nervous? Well, I just met him so it’s understandable. But my level of anxiety was high, and it wasn't his posture that contributed to the majority of the intimidation… And he has such a kind and welcoming demeanour, so why? Hm… I don’t know why, but his inclusiveness made me withdraw a bit. Overall, I felt that it was too much for me. Overly friendly? Like how someone would be slightly on edge about someone who was lightening the mood in a mundane situation — it made no sense.Bookmark here

“Ah, Ren’s such a great guy...”Bookmark here

I nodded in a reinforcing manner.Bookmark here

“Y-Yes!”Bookmark here

“I know, right? So helpful… so respectful… You live with him, right?”Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah… I’m living with him…”Bookmark here

“I see…”Bookmark here

Connie adjusted himself and sat up straight.Bookmark here

“I’m repeating myself a bit, but you really are lucky, right? To have met someone like Ren… to have met someone so compassionate…”Bookmark here

“Y-Yeah… I’m grateful.”Bookmark here

He spoke slowly with pauses… He said that I didn’t have to be so nervous, but it was a bit hard to do so with how he was talking.Bookmark here

Connie leaned towards me.Bookmark here

“And I’m happy for you. I heard the basics from Ren about your painful past and I’m sorry you had to go through that. But now, you have Ren… and I’m happy for you…”Bookmark here

“T-Thanks.”Bookmark here

Connie leaned even further towards me. He was right beside my ear like he was about to whisper something.Bookmark here

“And… stay happy, okay? It’ll be hard, but I know you can do it...”Bookmark here

W… W-What? A confused look grew on my face. “Stay happy”? What did he mean by that? Stay happy… That is something that I constantly told myself in the past. Whenever I was being put through a crucial situation, I always told myself to cheer up. It’ll get better… If you overcome this, you will be able to do anything… Was Connie’s request just a motivational throwaway comment? No, it couldn’t be. I mean… it felt so mysterious… but significant.Bookmark here

Connie pulled back from me.Bookmark here

“Sorry kid, I’m being cryptic and weirding you out, huh? Sorry, I’m just…”Bookmark here

He shrugged.Bookmark here

“Ren’s such a great guy!”Bookmark here

“Um…”Bookmark here

“Meh, you can forget everything I said — I mean, it was just deep-sounding nonsense. A-Anyways, it’s not good if your first impression of me is a strange one, right? Let’s change the subject.”Bookmark here

“O-Okay…”Bookmark here

I didn’t really helm this conversation, but I suppose it’s fine. Connie brought up various general topics such as the city. Our conversations helped in improving my vision of Connie, but I couldn’t help but still feel a little wary of him… Hm… I guess as time continues, I’ll become more comfortable around him…Bookmark here

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After a few minutes, Ren came back with a plastic bag containing styrofoam containers holding our food. Connie went back to his seat diagonal from me, and we ate our food. My food was delicious. I’ve prepared these types of dishes at Ren’s condo before so I knew the general taste — I guess the familiar option won over the new flavours. But the food served by these restaurants were a billion times better than anything that I can make. Sure, I felt a little bummed, but that’s to be expected — a large food chain will always beat the teenage girl with zero cooking experience. And I’m not the most invested in cooking so it was fine.Bookmark here

When we finished, we got up from our seats.Bookmark here

“Ah, how delicious! Hey Camryn, what d’you think about your meal?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, it was great. One hundred times better than anything I’ve attempted to make.”Bookmark here

After our conversation, I think I was a bit more laid-back with Connie.Bookmark here

“That so? Excellent — I paid, so it’s excellent knowing that it was worth it. How about you, Ren?”Bookmark here

As he was picking up our shopping bags, Ren turned to Connie.Bookmark here

“Yeah, it was good.’’Bookmark here

“Really?”Bookmark here

“Er, y-yeah…”Bookmark here

“Fantastic!”Bookmark here

Ren said he enjoyed his meal, but why was Connie a little bit doubtful?Bookmark here

“K Ren, I gotta get home — the missus will be all over me if I’m late!”Bookmark here

He’s married, huh? Wait, isn’t that a bit too young. Wait, no, I suppose it’s average.Bookmark here

“So where are you heading now? Home I assume?”Bookmark here

Yeah. We have no other business to attend to, right?Bookmark here

“We are going to Authen-Berry. Camryn said she wanted to try some after dinner.”Bookmark here

Eh? No, we don’t have to… I wanted to tell Ren that we didn’t have to, but after he declared we were getting it, I didn’t think that I should.Bookmark here

“A-Authen-Berry, huh? Ah, that’s great!”Bookmark here

He seemed a little surprised when he said that.Bookmark here

He also turned to me.Bookmark here

“Camryn, the drinks there are great! Anything specific you want?”Bookmark here

“Huh? You’ll pay?”Bookmark here

“Course not! This dinner was enough, right? And I’m not the rich one out of all of us!”Bookmark here

“R-Right… Um… Do they serve… chocolate?”Bookmark here

“Oh? Yeah, the chocolate milk tea. It’s not bad and you’ll mostly taste the chocolate.”Bookmark here

We can get that, huh? I was excited. But… At the same time, I was a little ashamed. Again, I felt guilty and selfish…Bookmark here

Ren raised his hand at eye level.Bookmark here

“Camryn, I will buy this for you — don’t worry about the other things...”Bookmark here

Through his smile, Connie looked slightly puzzled. Bookmark here

“Connie, we should be going now if we want to catch the subway back.”Bookmark here

He nodded.Bookmark here

“Alright! Well Ren, Camryn, I’ll be going now. See ya!”Bookmark here

“Yeah, see ya!”Bookmark here

Connie walked away, waving his hand.Bookmark here

Ren and I turned to each other.Bookmark here

“You want chocolate milk tea, right? Sure, let’s get some… And seriously, do not worry about things like price.”Bookmark here

I nodded.Bookmark here

You know, I should just concede and let Ren buy this treat for me. I mean, if he’s taking care of me, then there’s no drawback to letting him, right? And, he said that he’d serve me. Also, if Connie was right about how he’s the wealthiest out of all of us, then there’s no harm, right? Hm… I suppose. But even so, it still felt a little odd… Bookmark here

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