Entering the house, Nathan immediately removed his shoes and socks.
Nathan comes from an average-income household. His mother was a housewife and his father was a policeman.
In the country of Muwin, religion plays a major role in society, making it a conservative country.
There are two religions that dominate this country, Trinity and Iklas.
In the northern part of the country, Trinity is the most popular religion. Meanwhile, at the South is Iklas.
Between the two religions, Trinity is the lenient one when it comes to traditional gender roles.
The place where Nathan's place is at is a small city called Latif city which is located in the center of Muwin.
His parents' religion is Iklas. Although neither of them takes religion seriously, just the right amount, when it comes to attitude and practices, they more or less lean more on the Iklasian side and the culture of South Muwinians.
"Nathan, is that you?" a female voice called out from the living room.
It was his mother.
"The food is already cooked. Just serve yourself."
Nathan's mother was busy watching TV.
He went to the kitchen to have lunch.
Nathan doesn't mind serving himself and eating alone. He prefers it and is used to doing things his own way anyway.
However, when his father is at home, his mother presents herself as a perfect housewife and they eat together as a family.
As for his father, he rarely comes home. On the rare occasions that he does come home, aside from eating together, the only time he interacts with Nathan is when he's disciplining him which can be very physical at times.
The reason why his family is like this, Nathan isn't exactly sure why, but he could speculate the cause. One time, one of his relatives "accidentally" told him that his father and mother were forced into an arranged marriage by their parents which is a common practice in the religion of Iklas.
After washing the dishes, he immediately brushed his teeth and head to his room to change into civilian clothing.
He then went to the living room.
"Mother, I'm going now."
His mother, who was watching TV, looked at Nathan.
"Where's your uniform?"
"We're just going to practice for graduation this afternoon and my teacher said we could wear civilian clothes if we want," Nathan said with a straight face and no hint of nervousness could be seen on him.
His mother pulled out some cash in her pocket.
"Be sure to come home before 6:00 pm. Your uncle and aunt along with your cousins just arrived yesterday from Womania and are staying at a hotel. They want to have dinner with us tonight."
'From Womania? If it's my uncle and aunt from Womania, that would be Amir and Aena's parents.'
Nathan took the money from his mother's hands and immediately headed to the front door to wear shoes and head out.
Nathan closed the gate when suddenly someone tackled him from the side.
Nathan was closed to 6ft and was muscular, while the person who just tackled him was smaller and thinner. Because of that, the person wasn't able to push him down.
It was Karen.
She had her long black hair tied into a ponytail and was dressed in civilian clothes: white shirt, blue jeans, and rubber shoes.
Nathan, on the other hand, who had short hair, was wearing a slim-fit black shirt, gray jeans, and black shoes.
Seeing her trying to push him to the ground, Nathan was about to grab her shoulders but stopped when his hands were only just a few centimeters away.
He dropped his hands.
"What are you doing?"
Karen let go and backed away.
"There question here is: Where are YOU going?"
Nathan raised an eyebrow.
"What are you talking about? I'm going to school."
With a smug look on her face, Karen said, "If there's anything I know about you, you hate being rushed and told what to do. And plus, you like to do things at your own pace."
"What does that have to do with me going to school?"
"We still have 35 minutes left before we have to go to school and you're not the type who likes to go to school early, especially if it's just for something like graduation practice. So will you tell me where you're going?"
Nathan shrugged his shoulders.
"People can change, you know."
He turned and started walking away.
"Let's wait for Vincent and Nikki then. We still have 35 minutes anyway."
"I'll pass on that."
"Oh well, you leave me no choice," said Karen and she took a deep breath. "MRS. MAKHAD, NATHAN IS GOING TO CUT CLASSES. HE'S --"
Nathan immediately turned back, rushed to Karen and covered her mouth.
He leaned over and harshly whispered, "What are you doing?!"
Karen removed Nathan's hand that was covering her mouth and leaned closer to him as well.
"You're going downtown to watch that new sci-fi movie, aren't you?"
Smelling the minty scent coming from her breath, it was only then Nathan realized that their faces were so close that their lips were only an inch away from locking together, causing him to blush.
He immediately distanced himself and looked away.
"No, I'm not."
Nathan closed her mouth once again.
"Okay, okay, okay. You win. What do you want?"
"Take me with you."
"Come on. It's been a while since you and I went out alone anyway."
Hearing that, Nathan's heart started to flutter madly and soared into the sky.
"And plus, I get irritated whenever I see Vincent chasing that woman around like a puppy. I'm going to watch that movie and spoil every detail to Vincent. Wahahaha~!"
Hearing this, Nathan felt like his heart was ripped apart and was quickly falling from the sky.
However, he didn't show any negative emotions on his face. He maintained his every day bored expression that Karen and Vincent were familiar with.
"Just so you know, I won't have any extra money to buy for snacks if I'm going to pay for you ticket," Nathan said.
Karen immediately grabbed onto his arm. "No problem. I have enough money here to buy us snacks and even ride a taxi around the city. Let's go!"
She dragged him.
Karen came from an average-income household as well. But compared to Nathan's family, both of her parents had jobs and were working for the government.
Nathan and Karen were already inside the cinema and watching the movie.
When they were already half-way of the movie, Karen got bored and fell asleep. But before sleeping, she told him to make sure to watch the movie carefully and so that he can tell her what happened on the way home.
Nathan already expected this to happen which is why he didn't invite her in the first place. He knew that she preferred to watch movies about love or comedy.
As for Vincent, lately, he was busy courting Nikki so he didn't invite him.
"Karen, wake up."
Nathan was nudging her shoulder.
The movie already ended and the lights were on.
As for his opinion about the movie, it was mixed. He liked it, but at the same time it also felt lacking – one of the reasons would be that he wanted more scenes of the alien speaking and talking about the truth of the universe and its lifeforms.
"Hey, wake up."
Karen opened her eyes and looked around.
She stretched before standing up.
"Yeah, come on."
Nathan started heading out and she followed suit.
"Where are we going to do next?"
Nathan checked his phone.
Their class usually ends up at 4:30 pm and he arrives at home by around 4:45 pm to 5:00 pm before going out again at 6:00 pm to go to the gym.
"Go home," Nathan answered.
"Well, I can because my uncle and aunt from Womania along with their children are coming to visit. I'm just going to tell my mother that we were dismissed early."
"Amir and Aena."
"Oh, it's been a while since I've seen them. Is Amir still dating that woman who won the title of Ms. Latif two years ago?"
"How should I know?"
"You guys are cousins, right? I heard that boys like to talk about women when they're together so you should know."
"You know that Amir and I barely speak with each other. Plus, who told you that?"
Nathan always felt weird hanging out with Amir. Aside from the fact that Amir was 2 years old than him, the people that he hangs out with are too classy for him that he couldn't relate with them. One time, he played outdoor basketball with Amir and his friends, they put on lotion before playing. Sure, they were concerned about getting a sunburn, but at least do that in private.
"I read it in a magazine and on the internet. Oh, I forgot, you don't care about getting a girlfriend. In fact, I've never seen you flirting with a woman before."
Nathan didn't answer and wanted to face-palm.
Karen wrapped her arm around Nathan's arm and they continued walking.
"Hey, I can't go home right now."
"You can go to school and join in the practice. There's still so much time left."
"Are you crazy?"
Karen punched his arm.
"I didn't force you to come with me, remember?"
"Let me stay are your place for the moment."
"Nope, you talk too much."
"Don't worry, I won't touch your porn collection inside your laptop."
"If you're going to leave me here, I'm going to tell on you."
"Sometimes I can't tell whether you're smart or just dumb. You do realize that that would also burn you, right?"
"Nathan, come on, don't go home and accompany me. Oh, tell me about the movie."
"The movie that I just paid for us to watch?"
"I bought snacks, right? I'll buy you snacks again."
Nathan let out a sigh.
"Okay, but I'm going to order a lot."
Karen, who was still holding onto Nathan's arm, suddenly stopped walking, causing him to stop as well.
Karen had her head down and her gaze cast on the floor.
"Nathan… does Vincent know that I have feelings for him?"
Nathan's expression jumped from shock to dark and then to concern. But in his eyes remained a hint of jealousy.
'I guess this smokescreen game that we've been playing for years will come to an end very soon…'
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