Although there was nothing different with Crystal in the way she carried herself, Ryan couldn’t help but suspect that something changed within her. It was as if her confidence grew over the summer break, making her prettier than the sunset. Her hair was also cropped to a length that fell below her ears. When she walked past him on her way out after the tutorial ended, he observed that a smile crept on her lips at something on her phone.
He kept his breathing steady as he exited moments later. Her conduct made him jealous, even worse than when he saw her in chatters with their mutual course mate last year. It was eating him that she barely cracked a smile in his presence yet her face was now coated with exuberance. Her demeanor confused him more than he wanted to admit. He thought that the summer break was long enough for him to simmer over his impression of her. Sure, he admired her professionalism and her honesty. Unbeknowst to her, he arrived at this conclusion that she knew how to wriggle her hips and have fun outside campus after stalking her Instagram and Twitter accounts for an insight into her life. A particular picture posted to her Instagram a couple of weeks ago - before the commencement of a new semester - irked him to the point of annoyance. There was nothing to incriminate either one of them but he felt himself turning green with envy. It was a framed photograph of her and another guy - whom Brendan reckoned was a friend from college or a university peer - at a Christmas event. Each of them held a glass of alcohol and had their hand on each other’s waists while they grinned for the camera. What was worse, for him, was that there wasn’t any accompanying caption to distinguish if these two were lovebirds or close friends. No matter how much it irritated him, he wasn’t a buddy of hers.
When Tracy caught up with her over the weekend, Crystal looked as if someone dragged her through the lower levels of Hell and back to Earth in one day.
“How was the first week of classes?”
“Ugh, Trace, I don’t know.” Crystal shook her head. “Don’t even get me started.”
Tracy raised an eyebrow as she sipped her long black. “Why, what happened?”
“Do you know who I bumped into in one of my tutorials? Ryan. We’ve even collaborated for a group presentation again.”
“You don’t sound enthusiastic about it. If you analyze it from a different perspective, it’s good that you two are working together for another time. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that it’ll increase his chances of being closer to you, if that’s his ultimate wish, but there’s a sense of familiarity and trust between you two. You don’t have to chase him down North Terrace with a hammer, shooting requests for him to pull his weight. He wouldn’t have to do the same either.”
“Tell me something. How’s the fellow’s conduct? Still the same? Or, has he changed?”
“Well, based on what I’ve noticed today, he’s… softer now. He seems approachable, like he’s lowered his guard towards me. His eyes are friendlier and no longer suspicious of my presence.” Crystal gulped her flat white. “So yeah, I guess that means there’s a change.”
“Only time will tell, my dear.”