Never been nerdy, p.15
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       Never Been Nerdy, p.15

           C.M. Kars
 
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  “All this anger you’re holding onto is not healthy, ‘lina,” she says, and I wait while she orders a drink and gives the waiter a wink. My zia never got married, she played the field and she’s still playing the field. “Your mother has her faults but so does your father. You’re being blind to the full story.”

  “Don’t. I’m not drunk enough for you to talk bad about my dad. He loved her, the idiot, and look where that got him. Utterly fucked. And now, these two are getting married? That didn’t work for her the first time, what the hell does she think is going to happen the second time around? She’s so stupid,” I say into my glass, knocking back another swallow. I don’t even know how many it’s been.

  Do I even care?

  “That’s my sister you’re talking about. Niece or not, I’m going to have to kick your ass.”

  I choke on my drink, and find it hard to concentrate. We might have an ‘are you talking to me?’ argument in two seconds, and for some reason I find that hilarious.

  Yes! Drunkenness achieved!

  I giggle, snort, and clap my hands over my mouth while looking at my aunt with blurry eyes.

  “Yeah, right. You can’t take me. I’m invincible!” I screech, raising my arms in the air knocking cutlery to the ground in an aching chime that grates on my nerves. Even that’s freaking hilarious.

  Malcolm’s all up in my grill, he’s ugly face twisted into something like fury. I like this me, hiding behind maybe four or five drinks. I like this me a lot. I don’t care – here, I’m safe.

  So I grin at him, wave hello just like Mom wanted me to.

  “You’re embarrassing me and your mother,” he growls, breath reeking of scotch straight up. “Stop acting like a fool.”

  I look at my Mom whose face is completely twisted into disappointment. I’m her fucking kid, and she’s looking at me like that? Like I don’t belong to her anymore?

  Well, I thought I couldn’t hurt anymore, so bottom’s up. Shit, I have no new glass in front of me. Where the fucking fuck is the waiter?

  “Well, you know what, Mal? You embarrass me. You too, Mom. What the hell are you doing with this asshole?”

  Why weren’t we good enough? What was so wrong with Dad and me that you couldn’t take being with us anymore?

  “You know what? I’ve been here long enough, and I’ve seen all I care to see. Have a nice fucking wedding. Mom, I hope you trip down the aisle – I’m only sorry I won’t be there to see it. Arriverderci, motherfuckers!”

  I peace out, wobbling on my feet. I still have the wherewithal to call a cab, and wait only a few minutes outside to get in and give directions.

  When I get to my destination, I hobble up the stairs after paying the cabbie, and as luck would have it (I have my luck back!), some jerk is holding the door open for me and I smile with what I hope is gratitude.

  I get up to the fourth floor and frown down at my hands with my keys. I don’t recognize this door. Oh, man, where the hell am I? I blink stupidly at the door number, staring hard at it.

  Before I can decide which direction I should go or where the hell I am, the door opens and Dean comes out with a garbage bag in one hand. Three dogs are loping around in the background and the whole thing makes me want to smile and puke and cry at the same time.

  My face feels like it cracks, and I don’t realize I’m crying until Dean just stares at me, his mouth tight and his eyes boring into me, maybe to search for the good in me.

  “I don’t know what happened to me Dean. I- I- I don’t know what happened to me…” I sob, trying to cover my mouth.

  Chapter 16

  Dean’s expression rivals a certain deer-like creature caught in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle. Oh yeah, been there, done that. He looks like he’s never been presented with a crying woman, and I don’t mean the prettiest of tears that glisten like beads of crystal.

  I mean snot and mascara runs that make me resemble a certain scavenger with a striped tail. Looking bad is the furthest thing from my mind right now, in fact, with all the alcohol swimming in my veins, I’m not sure how I came to be here, or why I chose to.

  Dean Carter hates me, and I’m not exactly in the frame of mind to deal with that right now.

  Or maybe that’s exactly what I need, a giant fucking wake-up call, because that’s what it feels like. It feels like I’m so low nothing will ever convince me of seeing daylight again.

  Dean ushers me inside his apartment with all the delicacy as if I’m a grenade that he doesn’t know is dead. Three different whimpers cut through the silence of my stupid heels clicking against his floor, followed by swishy tail movements. Man, I could use some canine affection right now – instant anti-depressant.

  “Gimme a sec, I’ll be right back,” Dean tells me, voice all quiet and soothing enough that I hiccup and nod back at him. Right, he was going to take out his trash.

  Dean closes the door, but I’m stuck staring at his flat-screen nestled in a giant bookcase where every single inch and crack is crammed full of the stuff. He’s got DVDs and some comics, too, but the space is mostly dominated by books, tons and tons of books.

  I never knew this side of him, or I didn’t care to know. After all, Dean was my distraction from my home life, and everything centered around us getting hot and heavy. I don’t think I ever knew what his favourite food was, or hell, who he roots for when the Canadiens play. I haven’t even met his parents, or his younger brother – I mean, I think he has a brother, the younger part I’m just guessing.

  The tears won’t stop, and this awful pain in my chest is a continuous ache that makes it hard to breathe. It burrows deep inside of me, winding its way into my fingers and toes, until every inch of skin is a slice of pain. I want to crawl onto Dean’s couch and sleep forever – I could do with never waking up again.

  The alcohol in my system makes my steps uneven, and with the three dogs winding their way around me, over and over again, it’s really a miracle I make it to the couch and plop myself on it. My dress is riding up my thighs, like really riding up, but I don’t care. Not like Dean wants me that way anyway.

  My eyes flutter closed, and one hand drops to the carpeted floor in Dean’s living room. It gets attacked with slobbery puppy kisses, and my mouth twerks up a bit. I feel like absolute shit, just miserable down to my bones and soul, and a happy lick from a dog who doesn’t know how much of a shitty person I am, well, it takes away the sting of what happened tonight.

  Just a little.

  Oh, God, what have I done?

  The door opens, and if it’s an intruder, I should just wave him over and have this all over and done with. It’s only Dean, coming in to the living room, and crouching low so we’re somewhat at eye-level.

  I can’t keep my eyes open, but he looks...sad. Did I make him sad? Does he not want me on his couch, in his apartment? Hell, I bet he wishes he had some permanent neurological damage after I hit him with Roxie.

  Dean blows out a breath, and his green eyes bore into me once more, like I’m the missing vital piece to a code he’s trying to figure out. That, or I’ve got something on my face, like awful ruined makeup and he can’t look away at the train-wreck I’ve become. More tears leak out of my eyes, and I’m too tired to brush them away.

  Let him see, what’s the point of hiding anyway?

  “I shouldn’t’ve said what I said. I got angry, and stupid shit came out of my mouth, and I’m sorry, Kat. I’m sorry I said those things.” Dean hangs his head down in shame, and it’s a struggle to keep him straight in my gaze. I’m so tired now, just so, so tired.

  I hum, end up clearing my throat. “You were right, you’re right about me, Dean. I’m... I’m not what I was.” I sniff hard, brushing more tears off my face.

  God, my chest hurts, my chest really hurts, and my throat burns and I wish this was all over, I wish I didn’t have to feel like this about everything. I wish I was stronger, I wish I was better at coping with this shit.

  I wish I didn’t care at all.

&n
bsp; Dean looks at me, and moves his hand, so, so slowly, and pets my hair, slow and steady, and it makes the ache in my chest crack even wider, splitting me open even further until I’m sure, so sure, there’s all of me spilling out, and I have nothing left to hide, and nothing left to shy away from – it’s all there for him to see.

  I sit up a little, covering my face with my hands, and end up curling in on myself, not caring if I show my ass to him, lying sideways on the couch.

  “I’m an awful person, Dean. I know what I am, I know I’m like that, and everybody else does, too. No one gets hurt, but today... Today was a bad day.” I hiccup through it all. Dean gets up and walks away from me – that makes me sob harder until I start hyperventilating and can’t get some air into my freaking lungs.

  “It’s okay, I’m right here,” he soothes, handing me some Kleenex. I wipe quickly at my cheeks, and cringe when they come away all black.

  “Ugh, how-how-how can you even look at me right now?” Deep inhale. “I’m-I’m disgus-sss-ssss-ting.”

  Dean smirks while I try to get my breathing under control. He gently takes the tissue away from me and starts wiping my tears away from himself. Why is he being so gentle with me? I don’t deserve it.

  “You and I have different definitions of disgusting. Beautiful woman breaking down in front of me not caring what she looks like and zombies eating brains in full dental detail are two very different things,” he says, still using his quiet voice on me.

  “I really am sorry about what I said. I’d like to say I was momentarily possessed by an asshole, but you know I wasn’t.” He sighs and continues wiping at my cheeks.

  “I thought it would make me hurt less if I hurt you, you know? Man, humans are some fucked up creatures. I mean, we go from thinking embarrassing thoughts that happened ten years ago day after day after day,” Dean pulls in a sharp breath, “then I get hit by a car by the very person who gave me those embarrassing thoughts for me to dissect and piece together and try to repress as much as possible. And it fucked me up – high school fucked me up.

  “It took me a long time to realize I was good enough of a human being to move on with my life and stop living in the past. So I did, I got a job I love, and I surround myself with things that I love. I’ve got three best friends who are shit-ass crazy to see me every time I come home, and I thought I was okay. Turns out I’m not, never was. And I wanted to take that out on you and I’m sorry.” Dean pulls in a deep breath, then comes to sit beside me on the couch, helping me sit up.

  “Can you forgive me?” he whispers, and puts his arms around me, so my face is all smushed up against his chest, and his heart beat is the most comforting sound I’ve ever heard.

  “There’s nothing to forgive,” I say, trying to make myself stop crying. “D-D-Dean...” I gasp, “I’m going to ruin your shirt, maybe-”

  “Contrary to popular belief, even as a man, I do know how to operate my washer and dryer, thanks. But you’re sweet. How about we catch some old reruns and stop the crying? Something hilarious will work,” he tells me, and sets out by using his impossibly long arms to snag the remote from his coffee table and going through the channels.

  The I’m sorry gets stuck in my throat. I owe him a sincere apology for what I did when I was younger. God, was he really thinking about it all this time? Going over it, over and over again? I deserve to have Malcolm as my step-father, and his asshole kids for step-siblings.

  I deserve for Sera to never speak to me again. I deserve to be left all alone and to rot with my anger and selfishness and misery.

  “My parents were fighting all the time,” I whisper, hiccupping every so often, now. “And you were a distraction – a really good distraction. You made me happy at school, and you made the times after-school like little pieces of heaven.”

  Dean shushes me and puts the volume louder. He strokes my hair, undoing whatever style to it there was left, and sinking his hands into my scalp and massaging. There he is, still giving me pieces of heaven.

  I open my mouth, and don’t say, You told me you loved me, and I knew nothing about love but what I saw at home. I saw how my parents loved each other, how they fought and threw things and yelled, and screamed, and there were tears. And then my Dad told me I was just like my mother, I was just like her. Then I found out she was cheating on him, and I kept my mouth shut like a good little girl, hoping that by me keeping her secret, she’d stay with me, that she wouldn’t leave me behind for another family.

  And you Dean, well, I couldn’t do that to you. I couldn’t make a fool of you like my mom made out of my dad. So I had to end it – in the worst way possible – so you’d hate me. If only I knew how much, I wouldn’t’ve done it. I would’ve lied and told you I loved you, and the relationship would eventually fizzle out like all of them do.

  And I have this curse hanging over my head, my bad luck poisoning everything I do. I hope it does, or else that means the poison is me, and you should run, very, very far away, Dean.

  You need to keep away from me. I don’t want to hurt you again.

  Dean laughs, a sexy rumble under my ear, and I’m moved around on his body with his movements. We’re watching The Big Bang Theory and Sheldon said something hilarious but I missed it, saying without saying the words that absolutely need to be said. Dean needs to know how very sorry I am, how much I wish I could take it all back. He needs to know that I couldn’t give him anything more – I don’t have a heart to give; I made sure of it.

  It’s just a divorce, you’ll tell me, Dean. And I’ll tell you: it’s just a lie – marriage and love are just lies so we don’t have to face the loneliness without someone holding our hands, even if we hate the person we’re with. It’s all just bullshit – and you deserve better than that.

  You deserve so much better, Dean, so much better than me.

  Dean continues to stroke my hair, lazily, like he’s forgotten he’s doing it. His chest rises and falls underneath my ear, his heartbeat drowning out the dialogue. I could stay here forever.

  What’s the fucking point? What’s the point in pretending? What’s the point of staying with a man and your daughter for so long and then ripping them apart when you upgrade? What’s the point of love at all?

  If I could, I would love you, Dean. I think I would.

  Dean rumbles another laugh, and my eyes flutter closed, still in half-awake, half-asleep mode, listening to Sheldon and Leonard going at it. They really are the main couple of the show – everyone else is there for kicks.

  I tumble into sleep slowly, with Dean still petting my hair, and for a second, I can imagine what it’s like being cared for.

  I can see why so many people would kill to have it.

  ***

  I jolt awake when something cold and wet squeezes between my neck and shoulder, followed by hot breath and tiny licks. That doesn’t feel like a human tongue.

  I struggle to open my eyes, but they feel like my eyelids have been exchanged for lead traps, and no matter what I do, they stay closed. Little whimpers come to my ear; when I move fully onto my back, leather creaking, and get more licks over every inch of my face.

  The urgency of the whine has me sitting up, head swimming with pain lancing its way behind my eyeballs and into my brain that I let out a likewise whimper and clutch at my head to keep it from blowing to pieces. Oh, God. Why, why, why did I do this to myself?

  Because alcohol makes you into SuperBitch and you needed your A game last night.

  A yip feels like a whip’s cracked, and pain sears my ears and jackhammers my skull.

  Fantastic, I’m going to have a mother of a hangover.

  I get up on unsteady legs, and thank God that I don’t feel nauseous or that the room is staying in its non-spinning state. So far, so good.

  “Come,” I say, voice rough like I’ve been running it over sandpaper. “Let’s go outside,” I say to the little prince, and scoop him up into my arms. No sign of the other two yet, and I’m going to make my getaway when I can. I fumble
with Dean’s lock, the freaking thing goes against logic and when I finally get it open, I stumble into the staircase and take the stairs as quick as possible before I get puppy urine all over me.

  Sunlight spears my barely-open eyelids, and I let Tiny down with a groan. Fuck, I wish I brought my shoes or a jacket, the concrete beneath my feet is numbingly cold, and the crisp late-October air is doing things to my nipples and making goosebumps appear all over my bare arms and legs.

  Great, now I’m going to catch a cold because I’m too hungover to think straight.

  Mom would be so proud.

  I cross my arms tight over my chest, and try to erase any memory of last night. I willfully keep my mind blank and concentrate hard on Tiny taking a pee, followed by winding, winding, winding and popping a squat to pull a number two. Great, I’ve got no bag, and it’ll be just my luck if a police dude or the city comes by and sees me without one, and wham! Three hundred dollar fine.

  I jump from foot to foot, shaking in the morning air, and whisper encouragement until the little guy comes trotting towards me, mouth open, and tongue out like he’s smiling at me for a job well done. Well, it is the little things that are supposed to make us happy - or so I’m told.

  I scoop him up again, smiling when an older man holds the inner door open for me and bolt upstairs, in time to let myself into the quiet apartment. Dean had left me on the couch to sleep, and I’m assuming he’s in his bed right now, catching up on some Z’s.

  I look around for my heels, but they’re not where they’re supposed to be, meaning, sitting beside Dean’s sneakers. I frown and twirl around, giving my stomach a jolt, and pull in deep breaths so I don’t start puking everywhere.

 
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