Wren stared at him.
He stared back.
She stared right back, except harder.
Finally, the corners of Colton’s eyes crinkled, and the smallest giggle escaped his mouth. Realizing what he had done, he quickly covered a gasp with his hands.
“S-sorry! That was not me laughing at the fact that you are laying in a hospital bed,” Colton apologized hastily. “I-I laugh when I get nervous.”
At this, Wren’s cross expression softened a bit. Shaking her head in a friendly manner, she replied, “Nah, you’re okay. I’m not offended. I am, however, wondering what in the world you’re doing here.”
Wren tilted her head and raised an eyebrow at Colton, leaving him stiff as a board and at a loss for words.
An inkling of red creeped down to his cheeks from his ears.
“I, uh, came to visit youa�� to see if you’re okay,” Colton mumbled lamely.
Wren was skeptical. “Listen, Colton. If this is some type of sick joke just for your amusement, you can drop it right now. I know what you said to me in the restaurant was also just for the purpose of you and your friends getting a good laugh. I’m done with you teasing me.”
Colton’s face dropped. He hurriedly tried to make amends, but Wren turned her gaze away. “No, no, no, no, no. None of that is true, Wren. Wren. Wren, look at me.”
Wren looked at him.
“I don’t know where you’re coming up with such crazy ideas that I would go out of my way to make you feel bullied,” Colton continued. “In fact, the opposite is true. I want to make you laugh. I want to make you smile. I want to make you see that I’m not teasing you.”
This made Wren’s head hurt. None of this makes sense, Wren thought to herself. Colton is probably just kidding to make me feel better.
Or to make me less mad at him, so he feels better about himself.
If he wanted to make me smile, why didn’t he just try being nice to me?
Why did he have to go through all that trouble of sticking to me like super glue in math class, following my seat wherever it moved?
Am I just bad at reading signals?
She pressed on. “Why are you always trying to sit next to me in math just to bug me then? Why did you pull a prank on me in the restaurant and ask me out as a joke?”
“Wrena��” Colton hesitated. “That wasn’t a joke. I was being serious, but then you looked confused, so I tried to play it off as a joke so I could save us both an awkward conversation. As for math– why do you think I always try to sit next to you? I want to be near you so I can talk to you. I’ve literally had a crush on you since freshman year.”
This caught Wren off guard. “What?!!“
Colton looked appalled. “Why is that surprising? Could you really not tell?”
Wren shook her head, staring blankly at him– the same way she did just twenty minutes ago when he walked into the room for the first time.