Never been nerdy, p.10
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       Never Been Nerdy, p.10

           C.M. Kars
 
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  “I saved the damsel in distress. Do you know what that means?”

  Damsel in distress, my ass. I would’ve handled it. “What?”

  “I get food. You’re buying.”

  Chapter 10

  We go to La Belle Pro’s where we get steamies and glorious poutine with enough gravy to make a soup out of. Dean puts mayo and ketchup on his hot dogs, I all-dress mine up minus the onions.

  Never know what I’ll be using my mouth for later.

  “Cheat meals are the best meals,” Dean says, as he chews and the cheese curds make squeaky noises against his teeth. “Fuck, this poutine. If it was a woman, I’d marry it in a heartbeat.”

  I chew on my forkful of poutine more slowly than the way he’s wolfing down his portion of it. Looks like I’m going to have to buy us some more. Shit, if I had continued to date Dean a million years ago I guarantee I’d be broke by now just in food bills alone.

  “So, how was your day?” he asks, looking down at the poutine with lust and longing. Now if he can only look at me like that. “Other than that douchebag trying to put moves on you, I’m hoping it was good.”

  I nod. “Yeah, it was good. You?”

  “Oh, I didn’t have work today. Mondays and Thursdays are my days off.”

  “That must suck balls,” I say in sympathy. I shovel another forkful of poutine into my mouth then start chowing down on my steamies. I don’t know how they make their hot dogs so good, they just do.

  “Yeah, Katarina,” he smiles at me, one cheek chipmunk-full. “It sucks balls.”

  I nod absently, concentrating on my food.

  I’ve just come to the sudden realization that I don’t excel at small-talk. Put me in a business setting and I can tell you which stocks sound like good ideas because of my hours of research. Put me in the office and I know what I’m about, I know what I’m in charge of and what gets sent up to the big guy upstairs. Put me in front of Dean eating hot dogs and sharing poutine and I don’t know what the fuck to do.

  Usually all small-talk ends when I get to kissing a guy, you know, ‘cause we’re using our mouths for other things. Besides, I never get passed the ‘hey’ part once he lets me into his apartment. I never need wine to relax and I’m sure as hell not nervous when I’m about to start licking and sucking certain male parts of my partner’s anatomy.

  “What’s got your eyebrows scrunched together?” Dean asks, finishing up the last of his four hot dogs. I’m kinda jealous he gets to eat so much, and I have to nibble it over here like a freaking lady.

  “How come you were waiting for me at work? I thought we were going to meet at my place.” I was thinking no such thing, but now that my brain has decided to put it out there, seems like a good question to get an answer to.

  “A little birdie told me where your office was so I figured I would drive over there and we could drive back to your place if you wanted to get changed, or whatever.”

  I mull this over, chewing slowly. “This little birdie’s name is Sera, isn’t it?”

  “Bingo,” he says and cocks his index finger and thumb into a gun and shoots me. He’s really cute, especially when I don’t want him to be. “So I drove myself over and ‘lo and behold, that dickhead was coming after you and I thought my heart was gonna stop. Then I went He-Man on him, praise Grayskull, and stopped that little shit in his tracks.”

  I raise an eyebrow. “Oh, really? He-Man, huh? You and Sera should be best friends.”

  Dean leans back in our booth, the tomato-red vinyl making a sliver of an appearance on either side of him. He’s wearing a bomber jacket and his long hair brushes the collar. Want burns me up inside but I’m trying to listen what he has to say. We are in public, after all.

  Dean waves down at himself. “Can’t you see the resemblance? I’m huge like Prince Adam, except for the blonde hair. I’m not really into the whole leather strap thing across my chest, though. There’s gotta be some epic nipple chafing going on there. But I do have a replica of his sword back at home,” Dean pops a smile that has little kid written all over it.

  You’re going to hurt him again. You know this is a bad idea. You’ll destroy him all over again and he doesn’t deserve that.

  I nearly choke on my hot dog, and end up thumping my chest to make it go down. “You telling me you have a sharp object back at your place? What about your dogs? Why would you have that lying around?!”

  Dean tilts his head to the side and takes a long look at me. I wipe my hands from all the glorious grease and feel the hot dogs settle into the pit of my stomach. Blaugh.

  “First of all, it is hanging on my wall and has been superglued there, well, practically anyway. Secondly, I don’t leave the boys lounging about the apartment – they stay in their cages when I’m out.” His whole explanation feels like it’s a duh. “But I’m touched that you care.” He then palms his heart, and taps it a few times.

  I don’t remember him being this theatrical. If he ever was. Or maybe I just didn’t see him clearly enough.

  “So, Katarina. Want to tell me why we’re here? Other than me saving your life and you having to buy me food. Let’s get it over with.”

  And so it’s come to this. Pretty sure I’ve heard that somewhere. Sera would probably rattle off the movie title, scene and year it was made. God, they’re like each other’s perfect fucking match. MacLaine can never meet Dean. Not ever, ever. He’d kill him on principle alone.

  “I want to have hot and sweaty sex with you.”

  Dean chokes on the swig of water he just put in his mouth. He starts hacking in his fist and I’m caught in a flash of panic so deep I’m frozen to the spot. He bangs his fist on the table and with another forceful cough, the color of his face goes away from the reds and back to its normal hue.

  I notice other people staring at me like it’s my fault he choked. Guess they’re right, but what’s with the judgemental stares?

  “Shit, that mouth of yours is going to get you into trouble.” Dean says, voice all rough and hot and sexy.

  I grin. “Is that a promise?”

  He rears back and plasters himself closer to the vinyl and as far away from me as possible.

  “I just saw my life flash before my eyes and you want me to promise to treat you like a bad girl.”

  It’s getting hard to breathe. “Only if you do it right.”

  Dean shakes his head in disgust. “I’m not going through that again, Katarina. You’ll have to kill me first.” There’s something in his eyes that looks like desolation, but what the hell do I know?

  “Fine. We won’t have sex. Although it would make this whole making amends thing a whole lot better. You sure you don’t want to have sex with me?” I ask again, trying to persuade him.

  Dean rubs his forehead like this is a hard decision. “What making amends thing? I need you to explain yourself. You have the bad habit of talking and assuming everyone knows what the hell is going on.”

  I shrug, take a slurp of my Diet Pepsi. “I want to say I’m sorry.” My shoulders hike up closer to my ears. “I need to make up for what I did. It wasn’t right.”

  I watch Dean tap his fingers along the table, bumping out a song. “It was a long time ago. I’m over it.” Yeah, like you looked to be so over it back at the bookstore.

  I plant my elbows on the table and cross my arms. Time to go big or go home. “Look, it would really mean a lot to me if I could make it up to you,” and get some good luck flowing my way, “and then I’ll leave you alone, I swear.”

  “What’s in it for you?” he asks, mirroring my crossed arms and elbows on the table. Maybe to the outside world we look like a couple about to kiss. The truth of the matter is, we’re the furthest thing from it. I don’t do relationships and Dean doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to deal with a few one-night stands. Then again, he is a guy, and what guy says no to some no-strings-attached pussy?

  “Karma restoration.”

  Dean nods like this is important. “I smell a plan here, but your perfume’s
got my brain buzzing so I’m going to call it a night. Thanks for the steamies.”

  “What the hell, Dean? You sit that ass right back down or I will take this plastic fork and carve pieces out of you.” How am I supposed to make it up to you if you won’t let me?

  Dean has the audacity to smile at me. “Alright, princess, you got me. Don’t stick me with a fork! No! Don’t do it!” he whisper-screams, hands up and waving around. “This is like the scene with Spider-man and the thief who killed Uncle Ben in The Amazing Spider-man. Pretty hilarious if you ask me.”

  Pressure builds in my head and that damn eye-twitch is back, throbbing, throbbing, throbbing.

  “Hey,” he says, pointing at it. “You might want to get that looked at. You’ve got a vein that’s blown up on the corner of your eye, too.”

  “Shut up. Shut up, Dean! Get the hell out of here before I commit murder,” I say through clenched teeth. I resist kicking him in the shin but only barely. This is not going to be easy. But I need all the good luck I can get!

  He grins again, and I swear I hear the blood wooshing around in my ears. The world’s colours have gone a funny tinge of blood, too.

  “Have lunch with me tomorrow, Dean. I’ll buy you food. Just… you have to forgive me.”

  I show off my impeccable smile, and narrow my eyes when he starts laughing.

  And with that he vacates the booth, taking a piece of my sanity with him.

  ***

  I let myself into my apartment and turn the lights on. There aren’t any furry bodies to come and greet me like a long lost friend, or beady black eyes that have some affection for me just because I’m home.

  I’m bone tired, and it’s only nine-thirty. I slip my heels off and fling my coat onto the back of my couch. It flops over and falls into the living room, a dark stain on the pale floor. The whole color scheme pisses me off… it’s too coordinated.

  Huffing out a breath, I move to my iPod dock and pull it out with a set of earphones I keep beside it. I stuff them in my ears and put it on shuffle, moving towards my living room so I can shut the curtains. Turning the volume up enough to cause some damage, I kick at my discarded stilettos and start angry rock dancing, stuffing my iPod into my skirt pocket.

  I punch the air like it’s Liam’s face; I kick his imaginary balls until I can almost feel the flesh giving way. I dance and dance and dance. Before long I’m sweating, my hair’s completely out of its ponytail and flying around my face like dark snakes snapping with my anger.

  I spin and spin and spin, letting the world blur around me all while The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” bass rips through my veins and claws at my heart. I pound my feet into the ground once I hit center, dropping on my knees and hitting the pale fake-ass floor with my balled fists.

  I’m breathing fast now, but I have to keep moving, I just have to.

  I get up from the floor and hurl myself onto the couch, hitting the leather with both feet so I can jump up and almost-punch the ceiling.

  When I hit the ground again, I let the momentum bring me forward so I can summersault and end up whacking my shin into one the legs of my living room chairs. The pain ignites something inside me and a growl leaves my mouth. I jump up, viciously kick out only this time it’s Dean I’m fighting, Dean and his smile, his unruly hair and the way he makes me want to throttle him and kiss him at the same time.

  His specter dodges every single one of my kicks aimed at his balls, feints left and lands a palm on my heart. I keep running forward, through this mirage and use one foot to climb up the wall and change direction into my living room.

  I want to tear this place apart, start from scratch. I want to shred the leather on my couch, I want to tumble the glass dining room table and watch it smash across my floor. I want to toss a grenade into my bedroom, blow up all the stark white and sterile. I want to throw my flat-screen across the room and make a bonfire out of it to burn all my clothes.

  Then the music changes and this rage I have inside of me leaves with the last few notes of the song. And what I hear next brings me to my knees.

  The violins sing their song, and my heartbeat slows down as I settle on my ass on the floor, staring without staring at my locked door. It’s The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony”. The words keep me still, they pierce me through, until I can’t take it anymore.

  I yank the earphones out and slide my iPod across the room, trying to catch my breath. I don’t need to hear that.

  I shove myself off the floor and into my bedroom, grabbing some undies and a sleep tank into the bathroom. When I get in the shower and somehow some of my tears get mixed in with the soap suds on their way to the drain, well, there’s something wrong with the water content and not me.

  There’s nothing wrong with me.

  There’s everything wrong with me.

  When I get into bed after blow-drying my hair I see there’s a message on my phone – a voicemail.

  I wanted to call you, Katarina, and say that I pulled a dick move. My dad taught me to never leave a lady sitting alone, especially after having shared a meal, so that’s on me. I’m sorry about that. I wanted to let you know that I’ll be seeing you tomorrow and I’m looking forward to catching up. I don’t really care what your endgame is, Kat. If there is an endgame other than karma points. I… You know what? I’ll see you tomorrow. Sweet dreams, princess.

  I listen to Dean’s voicemail two more times before passing out.

  ***

  I can’t focus once I’m in my office.

  Coffee is absolutely useless in keeping me alert and awake, and the triple chocolate muffin sugar high died about twenty minutes ago. My brain is mush. I’m trying to set up my report in Excel, but the numbers are dancing in front of my eyes, mocking me.

  I rub my temples and almost jump out of my chair when a hand comes down on my shoulder.

  “What?!” I say, swivelling around in my chair to pin the culprit with my death-stare. “How did you get in here? We’re supposed to have security guards for that kind of thing!” I screech. “Jesus, Dean, shut the door, would you?”

  Dean does as he’s told then moves towards my desk, plopping down a brown paper bag with grease stains all over. The smell coming off of it is nothing short of heavenly.

  “You were supposed to take me out to lunch today, but since you’ve been ignoring my phone calls and texts, well, I figured the food should come to you instead.”

  “I completely forgot about it. I usually work through lunch,” I say, the pull of the scent of food strong enough that my stomach lets out a howl of anguish.

  “Oh, well, I’ll leave it here, and meet you after work.”

  He moves to get up off my office chair, but I’ve got a hand wrapped around his monster wrist. Dean stops moving and settles back into the chair opposite me.

  “Thank you,” I say. “It smells delicious. Sorry about the MIA phone thing, I’ve been really busy. I should’ve re-thought my whole taking you to lunch plan, but then you bailed, and I got pissed and that’s that.”

  “No problemo,” he says, squirming in the chair. The thing isn’t made for someone of his size.

  I grab the brown bag and tentatively open it, just for steam to hit my face. “What’s in here, anyway?”

  Dean clears his throat like he’s going to announce a prince or king. “You’ve got a hamburger with grilled eggplant, tomato, lettuce and avocado. There’s also have in there butternut squash fries, and for dessert a chocolate danish.”

  My mouth is watering. I swallow to make sure I don’t drool. I also want to climb on top of him and kiss him senseless in gratitude, but I don’t think he’d enjoy that as much as I would.

  “Where did you get all this? I don’t know of anywhere nearby that makes this kind of stuff,” I say, tearing open the bag and unwrapping my aluminum-wrapped burger.

  Dean clears his throat again, and I pin him with a look. “I made it. I made all this for you.”

  I close my mouth before taking a big bite of my bu
rger and set it down with a strength of will I had no idea I had. DiNovro for the win! “Dean, come here.”

  “What? Is there something wrong? Shit, did the hamburger bun get too soggy? I swear I booked it over here and had to bribe the guard with the second chocolate Danish I originally packed.” He flashes me another grin. I have an intense urge to nip his cheek and make him smile even wider.

  Dean gets up off the chair and moves around my desk to look down at my food. His eyebrows are scrunched together and his eyes get all the details of my meal without finding anything wrong.

  “I want to give you a kiss,” I say quietly. Dean’s knuckles flash white as they spasm on my desk. I get up slowly, not wanting to scare him away.

  “I don’t think that’s a good idea, princess. I… I smell like grease.”

  “That just means I want to eat you up, too.”

  He’s so adorable. His eyes have gone wide, and his mouth pops open in surprise. His tongue comes out to lick his mouth, all but making want to do nothing else but kiss him forever. But he’s shaking his head, and his hands have banded around my upper arms.

  “Just to say thank you,” I say, making it obvious that we’re not going to be making out on my desk – although that is one my fantasies. “Just to say thank you for being nice, when the tables should be turned around. I should be doing something nice for you. So let me give you a kiss.”

  Dean’s mouth firms up and he gets a look of deep concentration on his face. Without me being ready for it, our lips touch feather-light and then he’s gone, sitting back in his chair, opposite me and my desk.

  I take my seat, ignoring the pooling of heat between my legs, or the way my mouth tingles where he just lightly brushed his lips against mine. He always knew how to drive me crazy.

  Always, always.

  When I look up, Dean’s cheeks are pink, and he keeps clearing his throat and fidgeting in the chair. His pants do look uncomfortably tight. I snicker and get down to eating the delicious meal he’s prepared for me.

 
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