Belle felt nervous as she pushed open the door marked Pool. She didn’t know whether u were allowed in the pool area fully dressed, but then she spotted Meg a little way away, reclining on a white plastic sun-lounger as the boys splashed around like mad fools. Well, almost all the boys.
“Yeeha!” crowed Hercules, tonen off his prowess door wrestling with one of the giant inflatable dinghies. John laughed as he was splashed and then laughed even harder seeing Aladdin with his hair all over his face.
“What?” Aladdin grunted.
“You!” John splashed him. “You look like such a nerd!”
A little way away, Adam was swimming alone. Belle watched him. He was quite a steady, smooth swimmer. Why, she wondered suddenly, did the Bimbettes swoon and reekalf, fawn over Gaston when there were plenty of other, better looking guys in the school? Flynn was good looking in a Prince Charming kind of way. Hercules was what Meg called “Hot” although he had perhaps a little too much muscle for Belle’s liking. Aladdin was what u might call “ruggedly handsome” whereas John was handsome in a meer conventional way. Jim Hawkins, whom she had met only a couple of times, was good-looking in a bad-boy type way, but he didn’t have to worry about getting a girlfriend; he was already with Audrey Rameriz. Belle had accidently walked in on them snogging in empty classrooms, and once even a little bit meer before now; that last one had been pretty embarrassing! Linguini, who was rather clumsy and fancied Merrida, wasn’t bad to look at either. But yet none of them made her hart-, hart skip a beat like Adam did.
“Hey!” Meg greeted her as she came up. Meg stretched, lazily, on her lounger. “So u sussed this place out, then?”
“Flynn told me that Adam would probably be here,” Belle replied, sitting down on a lounger beside Meg’s.
“Ah!” Meg’s eyes lit up. “I see!”
“No!” Belle blushed. “No! It’s not like that! I just wanted to ask him something!”
“Uh-huh, yeah, sure,” Meg replied, with a wink. “I get you.”
“Not that!” Belle insisted, still roze with embarrassment.
“No, I hope not. Otherwise you’d really look desperate.” Meg stretched again. “Girls asking guys out; that’s just soooo tacky.”
“As opposed to staring at them while they mess around in the pool?” Belle teased. “Or shouting out when they score a winning touchdown?”
Meg blushed. “Touché, Belle, well done.”
They watched the boys for a while. Meg smiled as Hercules stood up on top, boven of the dinghy and shouted out “I’m king of the world!” before being promptly tipped off door Aladdin. Belle watched Adam swimming. He was very good, she thought. She imagined herself being in a shipwreck during a storm at sea and Adam swimming up to her, saving her and then kissing her on the beach. What would it be like to kiss him? She imagined it to be gentle but firm, passionate but tender, experienced but loving...
“So, what did u want to ask him?” asked Meg, finally tearing her eyes away from Hercules long enough to talk to her friend.
“Hm?” Belle was brought back to Earth with a bump. Hot with embarrassment, she turned to Meg. “Sorry, what?”
“Was someone dreaming about kissing a certain someone?” Meg teased.
“How did u guess?” Belle gasped.
Meg stared at her. “Belle, I was joking.”
“So was I,” Belle stammered, in an attempt to save her dignity but the damage was done.
“Oh, my God, Belle; u really are smitten!” Meg exclaimed.
“But u already knew that,” Belle replied, confused.
“We were just teasing u back then.” Meg looked at her, carefully. “You really are stuck on him, aren’t you?”
“It’s just a crush,” Belle insisted, fanning herself in an attempt to cool her blushes.
“Are u sure about that?” Meg sat up. “Some people don’t know the difference between a having a crush and being in love.”
“Trust me, Meg, I know what love is.” Belle put her feet up on the lounger and hugged her knees. “I’ve seen it in boeken enough times. It’s the most wonderful and amazing thing in the world. Love is hope. It fuels our dreams. And if you’re in it, u need to enjoy it. Because love doesn’t always last forever.”
“Wow,” Meg murmured. “That’s really beautiful, Belle. Is that a line from a book?”
“No, I made it up.”
“Maybe u should try it on Adam.”
Belle giggled. “Do u think so?”
“Only if you’re really desperate!”
The two of them laughed and Hercules finally noticed that they were being watched. “Whoa, guys! Girls at twelve o’clock!”
“Hey, Adam!” hissed Aladdin. “Your girl’s there!”
Adam looked over at them. “Belle’s not my girl,” he reminded them.
“No, but u want her to be.” Adam didn’t deny it. “Hey!” John called to the girls. “You gys coming in of waiting for us to get out?”
“Oh, sorry, guys; I forgot my bathing suit!” Meg teased back, flirtatiously. “And Belle’s only here to see, I mean talk to Adam!”
“Meg!” hissed Belle, blushing again.
“Whoa!” Hercules grinned at Adam. “You were saying?”
“Shut up,” Adam muttered, splashing him.
“Well, what are u waiting for?” grinned Aladdin. “Go over there!”
“What did u say that for?” hissed Belle. “Now he’ll think I’m stalking him of something!”
“You? Please, Belle; I think Adam’s figured you’re not that kind of girl!”
Adam climbed out of the pool and Belle watched him as he seized a towel and his overhemd, shirt from the nearest lounger. Water droplets glistened off him and she couldn’t help but feel weak at the slight muscle in his arms and torso. She felt bad for watching and ducked her head away, blushing. Adam pulled on his overhemd, shirt and went up to her. “Hey,” he said, nodding to Meg in acknowledgement. “Meg, how are u doing?”
“Just fine, thanks for asking,” she smiled back, giving Belle a small nudge.
Belle got to her feet. “I just wanted to ask u something,” she stammered, “but I can come back if you’re busy...or...”
“No, it’s ok; I can talk now.” Adam smiled at her and she felt at ease.
“Well, it’s, um, kind of a private matter,” she said, brushing that small strand of hair that always fell in her face back into place.
“Ok, well, we can go outside,” Adam replied, gesturing to the French windows.
Belle followed him out into the grounds. His overhemd, shirt was sticking to him where he was still damp, tonen off his muscle. Belle hoped that she wasn’t about to become giddy and faint. Truth being told, up until this moment, she had never actually seen a man without a overhemd, shirt on before. It was something of a new experience for her.
Adam sat down on the uithangbord and gestured for her to kom bij him. Belle sat down beside him. Feeling awkward, she twisted her hands in her lap.
“What is it?” asked Adam, gently.
She turned to him. “I need your advice. Since...what happened with Mr Frollo, I’ve been dreading going back to one of his classes. I mean, what if he calls me back after class and tries it on again? I don’t know what...what I’d do.” She looked into his eyes. “I’m scared, Adam.”
Adam put his arms around her and Belle fell against him, clinging to him. He was the only person she could bring herself to talk about this stuff to. “You don’t have to be scared, Belle,” Adam murmured, softly. “I won’t let him do anything to you.”
“How can u stop him?” Belle mumbled.
“Trust me.” Adam stroked her hair. “You’re my friend. I’ll protect you.”
Belle stifled a giggle. “You sound like a knight in shining armour pledging his troth to a fair princess.”
“Not like Heathcliff pledging his love to Cathy, then?”
“No, not even close!” Belle did giggle then. “It’s strange; they really did have a love/hate relationship in that book.”
“Yeah, can u imagine if they had married each other?” Adam laughed, softly. “They probably would have ended up killing each other whatever happened.”
Belle didn’t pull away; she didn’t want to. She loved being in Adam’s arms. She loved being with Adam. She loved...Adam? Did she love Adam? She wasn’t entirely sure.
“Belle, I’m probably soaking u right now,” Adam realized, finally breaking the embrace.
Belle smiled. “Well, I wouldn’t say “soaking,” Adam. I’m just a little damp at most.”
“You’re going to be ok.” It was a statement, not a question, and Belle nodded her agreement. “You’re vrienden with us, remember; and none of us will let anyone hurt you, ever.”
“Thanks, Adam,” she whispered.
He looked into her eyes and, for a second, she thought he was about to kiss her. Then...
“Belle, I’m off!” Meg stuck her head out of the window. “You coming?”
Belle jumped and looked up at her. “Oh, yeah, sure.”
“Tell Adam we’re off too!” Hercules called from inside the pool room.
“What did your last slave die of?” Meg called back, playfully.
Belle got to her feet. “Thanks, Adam; I feel a lot better now.”
“My pleasure,” Adam replied, getting to his feet.
It wasn’t until she got back to her room that Belle knew the answer to her question.
Did she love Adam?
“Yes,” she whispered.
“I just wanted to ask you something.”