Shirley didn't care - or perhaps, wasn't even aware - of how quiet Shane was being. She went on being her chatty self, asking him this and that, and didn't seem to mind his simple answers.
"If you say you're okay, then you must be okay," Shirley stated but reached out to touch his forehead.
Shane was surprised and jerked back upon feeling that hand on him. His eyes looked at her like a deer caught in headlights.
"Why?" Shirley looked at him innocently, "What's the matter? Why is your face so red? You said you had no fever?"
She pursed her lips and frowned, thinking hard, "But you really don't feel like you have a fever."
She looked at her hand then her eyes lit up, "I know! My hand must be warm."
So, under Shane's shocked and frozen self, he saw her coming closer and before he knew it, she had placed her forehead on his.
"Hmmmm," she said under her breath and Shane gulped, feeling that warm breath on his face. He closed his eyes tight, not daring to move.
"Nope, no fever," Shirley declared, sitting back on the chair, "So strange."
Shane started breathing heavily, putting his hands to cover his face as he said, "I'm fine, I'm fine! I just like porridge!"
"Oh!" Shirley said with a smile, "Why didn't you say so?"
Shane felt like he could faint.
Don't get him wrong.
He wasn't having a crush or anything like that, but it was the mere fact that someone came so close to him so unexpectedly that he was affected badly.
Shane is an introvert.
To be more specific, he is a social and anxious introvert.
There are four types of an introvert: social, thinking, anxious and restrained.
A social introvert is the typical definition that one would think an introvert is. A person who either prefers to socialise in small groups or for the more severe ones, not even a group. They prefer solitude, such as staying home to read a book rather than going out as they feel awkward and self conscious among people.
A thinking introvert is a newer concept. It basically means that one tends to be introspective, thoughtful and self-reflective. They are capable of being lost in an internal fantasy world. In other words - they daydream a lot. Thus, following from this, naturally, they would not like to be in a social setting.
An anxious introvert seeks out solitude because they are not very confident in their own social skills. This anxiety would still be felt even when they are alone as they think of social gatherings. They tend to think back, and to turn over and over in their minds things that might, or could, or have already gone terribly wrong.
Restrained introvert is basically one who is reserved. They tend to think hard before they speak or act and it may take a long time before they are able to.
Actually, introverts are a mix of all of the above though one can be more dominant than the other.
In Shane's case, it was more of a dominant mix of social and anxious introvert.
He was awkward and self-conscious around people and he would be anxious over what could have gone wrong.
For example, just now.
He had been uncomfortable and nervous when Shirley suddenly came close to him. He suddenly started thinking rather negative thoughts, especially when he had jerked back.
Did she think that he was repulsed by her? She was only showing him concern, yet, he had practically jumped back. So he forced himself to stay still but the closer she was, the more awkward he felt.
And more scared.
What if she fell on him and he pushed her back in fear? What if she got hurt? What if he jerked up and hit her and hurt her? What if people started laughing at him for his reactions?
The thoughts went round and round in his head and he nearly broke into a sweat. Actually, he already was sweating but he did not realise this. He was just too focused on trying to breathe normally despite the way his heart seemed to want to beat out of his chest.
When Shirley finally sat back down, he felt such relief that he almost fell off the chair. Which then set out another round of anxiety.
Alex noted Shane's weird reaction to Shirley but he didn't know what could possibly be the matter. He had pegged Shane to be one who was extremely shy, but wouldn't you say that his reaction was a bit over-the-top?
Though puzzled, Alex finally disregarded it after seeing Shane managing to calm himself down and started eating his porridge again. It was just something Shane would have to overcome himself.
✿ Author posts on WN and neovel ✿
That night, it was quite a party at Ali's house.
Ali's family was rather large as he had six sisters, who, in turn, had a lot of children after they got married. That, and added to the fact that it was in their culture to always have family gatherings, entertaining, or having a large dinner party was quite common.
Which was the prime reason why Sofiya, Ali's wife, decided that the celebration should be held at her home. She was used to it and more importantly, the help was quite experienced in this matter.
In the large dining hall reserved for such gatherings, the adults were at one table while the kids were at another. There were several nannies on hand to take care of the younger children in another corner of the dining room, so the hall was quite lively and homely at the same time.
All of the Elite Five were present for this mini celebration, and not just the parents of the kids who went to school.
There was Kayla (or Kay as she is known), Kyle's twin sister, with Joseph, her husband who was younger than her. They do not have kids yet and have been looking at options to either adopt or go for fertility treatments.
Xing Han, Kyle's best friend, was also present with his husband, Nitocris - who happened to be Kyle's 'brother' as the latter's mother married Master Shifu. At the moment, they were in the process of getting kids through surrogacy.
However, as Nitocris just happened to be the King of the Underworld, he did not want any of their children to have his seed. He was adamant in this for he felt that there was too much darkness in him to pass on to future generations. Thus, all of the surrogate women would be implanted with the egg of a donor that had been fertilised with Xing Han's sperm.
So currently, the house was filled with the children of Kyle, Ali, and Sam.
"I can't imagine that your eldest children are now old enough to go to school," mused Kay.
"Time does fly fast, don't you think?" Kyle agreed, looking at his kids at the nearby table.
"Quite a haul you guys have there," Nitocris said with slight jealousy. Images of little Xing Han, his sunshine, filling the house was something he was eagerly looking forward to.
There were Alex, Aurora, Ziad, and Fleur who were seven years old.
Followed by Jared (5 years old, Sam's son), Quill (3 years old, Sam's daughter), Ariel (2 years old), and finally, Trevor (1-year-old, Sam's son).
"They're mostly Sam's and Betty's," Kyle pointed out, "What's more amazing is the fact that you really named your kids after flowers."
Kyle put up his fingers, counting one by one, "Jared is 'Rose' in Hebrew, Quill refers to Jonquil, the hardy spring flower while Trevor is Shatrevar, the Persian word for flower."
"Trust you to note that," Sam said with a push of his glasses up his nose.
Kyle gave a lopsided grin, "So two more before the factory closes?"
Sam smiled and said, "Yes, yes. I promised Betty. If it was up to me, I'd stop when we reached 40 years old."
Everyone stared at Sam like he was insane.
They were only in their mid-20s right now, so if it had been up to him, then he would be having 12 kids.
"My God, Betty!" Xing Han said with a gasp, "Poor you. Next time, if Sam gets to be too much, just tell us. I'll have Cookie here teach him a lesson."
Nitocris smiled lovingly at his husband upon that declaration and nodded while the others shivered a bit. No matter how many times they heard it, hearing 'Cookie' being said out of that innocent mouth to refer to that dark person beside him just didn't fit.
Kyle was the only one that was unfazed by it as he was as cold as 'Cookie' whenever he became Ice.
"So!" Sam said, cutting Xing Han off before he could go on a tirade scolding him, "After the sixth, I'll have a vasectomy as that is considered to be safer. I would not want Betty to have to take the risk."
"Good," Xing Han said, "At least you have a conscience."
Then he paused, before adding, "Using a condom doesn't feel as nice anyway."
Types of introvert: https://www.thecut.com/article/apparently-there-are-four-kinds-of-introversion.html
So, a recap on the family structure and some revelations on Sam's kids. hew hew hew.
Thank you for the votes and comments. Stay safe!