Walking so slowly.
I've finally completed the procedures and gone through security check once again.
There's less than an hour until my next boarding, and I'm eager to find a quiet corner to rest.
In the not-so-spacious aisle, I gaze downward at the unfamiliar man's shoe heels in front of me, silently urging him to move faster, pleading for him to hurry up; I'm getting so dizzy, almost on the verge of collapsing.
Just as I step into the bustling and crowded airport lounge, I hear the man in front of me exclaim to his companion in surprise, "Look at those young people. Are they players from the White Wolves?"
"Absolutely, that blond one is Dylan. With so many big-built guys, if they're not from the football team, what else could they be?"
No wonder the lounge is so noisy right now. It turns out we've run into the football team here for summer training, and they're also flying back to the M state.
The man blocking my way suddenly sounds excited, "And what about William? Have you found William?"
"Is it the one in the black short-sleeve? The guy surrounded in the middle?"
His companion hasn't recognized William either, but they subconsciously look toward the center where the guys are, "He's facing away from us, we can't see his face."
Upon hearing this, I lift my gaze to the source of the commotion. It's like an impromptu game of hide-and-seek, racing to see who finds William first. Unlike a bingo game, though, there's no reward for being the first to find him.
The burly players occupy the seats in front of the boarding gate, their various t-shirts mingling with the dress shirts of business people.
Their youthful exuberance is on full display. And at the center of the lively whirlpool of guys is...
Before I can make out his face, my phone vibrates simultaneously, indicating that I've received a new message.
I divert my curious gaze and open the message, abruptly ending the game of searching.
Coincidentally, the White Wolves are the football team of the university I attend.
However, at this moment, I choose to avoid them and find a spot to rest at a distance from the boarding gate.
Compared to the seats outside the boarding gate, it's much quieter here. Apart from a few passengers reading books, there's also a guy with a bucket hat pulled down over his face, sleeping.
I take a seat a couple of spaces away from him. Because of the tranquility and my major in journalism, I listen attentively to the news playing on the airport screen.
Coincidentally or not, it's talking about the White Wolves football team from ST University having a two-week summer training here.
"As we all know, since last year, William has consistently been the starting quarterback for the White Wolves. And after the team's championship earlier this year, he has become an absolute cornerstone, leading the team to the finals and winning the MVP without any dispute."
The big screen shows footage of the White Wolves' training over the past two weeks.
In the small box at the bottom left corner, a sports reporter speaks confidently, and the blonde, blue-eyed female host across from me smiles and nods in agreement from time to time.
"What makes William stand out is his incredible accuracy in passing, formidable arm strength, broad vision, and precise judgment of the situation.
Most notably, his ability to handle pressure is outstanding. Even under intense pressure, he can still achieve a passing success rate of over 80%. This statistic is quite remarkable."
Countless praises and compliments from men about William flood the airwaves, and I can't help but agree, despite being a mere football outsider who has only watched a few games.
At three in the afternoon, the scorching sunlight forcefully and greedily pours into the lounge through the windows, seemingly determined to fill the waiting area with its heat.
"Hey, coach treats." A figure runs up to me, greeting the guy with the hat, and the newcomer holds a cup of iced orange juice.
Listening to the sound of ice cubes clinking inside the cup, I'm already feeling parched and can imagine the wonderful sensation of that icy drink.
And at the same moment, the guy beside me finally takes off his bucket hat, revealing a handsome and charming face—it's none other than William, the one that passerby was desperately searching for just moments ago.
Enviously, I watch as William takes the orange juice.
I can guarantee it must be perfectly cool and sweet, undoubtedly a refreshing relief from the heat.
Subconsciously, I swallow hard, my reaction drawing the attention of the two guys beside me, especially the popular William.
He looks at me with a hint of amusement, a smile playing at the corners of his lips. ...
Oops, how embarrassing.
I avert my gaze; there's nothing to envy, I can buy one too.
Except I'm currently lugging a shopping bag full of blankets and odds and ends, along with a small suitcase by my side, and the store is at the other end so far away I can barely see it.
I don't have the endurance of a football player, capable of running errands with a weary and uncomfortable body just for a cup of orange juice.
I'm not William either, so important that someone has to run all the way here to bring him this refreshing gesture of thoughtfulness, and he mustn't delay, mustn't let a single ice cube melt more than it has to.
After reminding William to keep an eye on the boarding time, the errand guy finally leaves. Immediately after, the cup of iced orange juice is unexpectedly placed in my hand.
I don't look at William, but instead turn to look at the retreating figure of the guy who ran off.
Then I bite down on the straw, and my mouth is instantly filled with sweetness.
"Why didn't you reply to my message?" My phone vibrates once again.
"There's no communication glitch; you can come up with some other excuse on the spot."
The stifling heat in my body is quenched by the juice, and I sigh in contentment. William gazes at me biting my moist lips around the straw, his throat tight. "It's best if it's a reason I can accept."
Putting on his bucket hat, he keeps his eyes scorchingly fixed on me from within the shadow of the brim. "I was counting seconds waiting for you."
"I was just busy earlier."
I gesture for him to take stock of the situation; it's clear that my hands are occupied.
Half a cup of tangy iced orange juice goes down, and I finally feel some relief from the discomfort in my body. It seems I was suffocating in the heat.
"I mean, this whole week, you haven't replied to any of my messages."
I'm at a loss for words. At the beginning, I did reply, but after Monica saw and asked if I had a boyfriend, to which I truthfully replied no, she then asked if there's someone I like because why else would I be glued to my phone all the time.
I hesitated for a second and was immediately bombarded with questions about his character, his family background, and I had no choice but to play dumb and brush it off. How could I dare to reply to his messages after that?
William gets up and moves to sit beside me. "Alice."
The man wears a loose-fitting pure white short-sleeve shirt, revealing sun-kissed and healthy wheat-colored arms that have been taken care of by the sun for the past two weeks. He exudes a fresh fragrance that irresistibly draws people closer, squeezing me against the armrest.
"There are so many empty seats, why don't you move over a bit?"
William acts as if he hasn't heard, his strong arms affectionately and dominantly wrapping around my slender waist. The depths of his dark gray eyes flicker with fire.
If this weren't an airport, I'd expect that his next move would be to kiss me. His palm presses me even harder into his embrace, while his other hand anticipates my attempt to cover my lips and guides it away, keeping me from avoiding his advance.
But there's no escaping it; he can be quite rough sometimes.
No, it's not just sometimes, this man is always like this when it comes to kissing.
"Tonight, at my place?" His enchanting voice resonates in my ear.
Nervously, I look around, pushing away the handsome face that's leaned in close and shoving the half-full orange juice back into William's hand.
I can't make it any more obvious; he needs to cool down more than I do.
"Watch the distance; they're not far from us."
"Don't worry, Harris went back two days ago. The others here don't know you."
Harris is the team's wide receiver and one of William's closest friends. Compared to the other two, Dylan and Gary, who are well-built but simple-minded, Harris is very smart and attentive.
"But that's not the point." I say, "I don't want to remind you every time, but William, we agreed that our relationship must remain hidden from everyone."
William gazes at me.
With a somewhat sulky expression, he retreats to his original position and innocently touches the tip of his nose, "Am I that shameful?"