Never been nerdy, p.16
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       Never Been Nerdy, p.16

           C.M. Kars
 
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  Did somebody say puke?

  I worry about the state of my stomach until, out of the corner of my eyes, a giant beast comes lumbering to me, hair all over the place, eyes not seeing me, and roaring until it crashes into me and tumbles us to the floor.

  Chapter 17

  “Ah, shit, shit, shit. I’m sorry, I forgot you were here!” Dean yelps, pawing at me in the darkness.

  “I’m sorry, Kat! Can you breathe?! Want me to get off of you?” he asks, an edge of panic to his voice, like his serious massive weight broke me into a million pieces.

  Once my lungs inflate again, I’ll let him know I’m okay. I just need a minute, because holy hell, does this feel amazing, having him on top of me like this. My vagina has officially taken over, even if I need some crazy amount of oxygen right about now.

  Dean realizes how very almost-naked he is; I can tell in the dim light coming through the window of early morning. He’s wearing nothing but boxers, and I feel every single inch of him pressed up against me.

  While my vagina does the hula dance, or maybe even that dance that Lydia does when Gina Davis and that other Baldwin dude make her float in the air at the end of Beetlejuice, my headspace is all over the fucking place, and I really don’t want him looking at me right now.

  I’m a mess, and feel like I’ve been dipped in hot candle wax and peeled until pieces of skin have come off, and then I’ve maybe even rolled in an endless stream of razors. My head’s pounding, and my mouth’s a replica of sandpaper.

  “Dean,” I whisper, voice rough from the morning. He squints down at me, and for some reason, places his hand on my cheek, thumb dipping under my chin and tilting my head back so I’m forced to look at him even though it’s the last thing I want to do.

  Dean Carter sees things that other people don’t, very much like Sera does. Maybe it’s their constant reading, noses always in books that give them the ability to read between the lines when there are no lines, or when the lines are on someone’s face. To him, I’m an open book, and it’s hands down the scariest place to be – where someone sees all of you.

  I wish I could see more of his face, or do something to get him to realize that I’m pinned underneath him – and what the hell is he going to do about it?

  It just doesn’t matter anymore. I know I’m too much trouble to chase after, I know what I am. I’m exactly like my mother and I’m going to rip him to shreds. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, or five years from now, but I have her DNA running through me and that shit’s real.

  I’m going to destroy him with my own selfishness and I can’t do that. I won’t do that.

  “Why are you being so cool with me?” I leave my palms flat on the floor, and get puppy kisses on my ear.

  “Potter!” Dean’s orders, and the littlest furry prince yips and goes to a place away from where I’m concentrating on the Viking on top of me. Dean sighs, but continues to practically straddle me. Weird thing is, I have no inclination to press my advantage further. I need to turn my ass around, and leave him alone.

  “Well, short-answer is ‘cause I’m one of the most awesome people you will meet,” he nods at himself, all high and mighty. My mouth threatens to smile but I tell it to pipe down. It can’t be that easy for Dean to make me smile, not when I feel like this.

  “Long-answer’s gonna take some time. Maybe even a whole breakfast and walk around the mountain,” he says, waggling his eyebrows.

  He really is beautiful – all broad chest and shoulders, muscles in all the right places. But I don’t deserve to want him – I’m cursed to have all the Liams in the entire world just so we can use each other. Dean is something else entirely, and there’s a very feminine, heroic part of me that wants to find out what exactly that is.

  Truth is, I’m fucking terrified of what this means. I know what a shit I am, but I flap my mouth and words come out painted in self-confidence. I show the world what I want it to see of me. They don’t know about my jamming sessions at home where I go a little crazy and usually cry myself to sleep.

  My life is nowhere near what I expected it to be.

  That bitch didn’t hand me lemons, but pelted me so I now have to find a way across a finish line that I have no pinpointed location for. I’m sick of my life, and I haven’t even started it yet.

  Tears hit the backs of my eyes, and I decide that I’m not going to feel sorry for myself. I’m going to get over this, and I’m going to do the right thing by telling Dean to fuck off and leave me alone and to get the hell off of me.

  “Sure,” I say instead, swearing in Italian in my head. “That sounds like a plan.”

  ***

  Mont-Royal is the mountain that Jacques Cartier in 1534 stuck a cross on and claimed the whole entire land in the name of France. Today, there’s a giant metallic cross structure thing that lights up at night and can be seen even from the suburbs if the lighting’s right.

  It has several paths to get from the very top to the bottom, and there are always some really cool people and critters coming together to enjoy nature. I haven’t been here since I was a kid, and I forgot how breathtaking the view of Montreal can be from the viewpoint.

  Sure, we’re not as recognizable as freaking New York City, but we hold our own, and it’s my town, the place I grew up in, and it has a certain magic for me, even if I have to squint really hard to even catch a glimmer of it.

  Dean parks his car in the lot, and fishes in his cup holders where enough change sits to be able to pay for a hundred bucks worth of crap. He holds up a toonie with such pride, holding it to the light and squinting at it like it’s a nugget of gold.

  I’m holding my French Vanilla from Tim Horton’s, and slowly sipping it before my hunger takes over and I chug it down, because you know, it’s a freaking French Vanilla.

  I don’t know why I told Dean I would come here. I guess I like to torture myself.

  “You coming, or what? I mean, I guess you can stay in the car, but I’d rather you come for a walk. The air’s gonna do you good, I promise,” he tells me, after opening my passenger side door.

  He drove me home so I could change out of last night’s outfit, and I grabbed a pair of sweats, shoved my hair in a ponytail and scrubbed my face without really seeing my reflection.

  My Uggs hit the ground and I lever myself up out of the car, happy that the world has decided to keep on spinning at its regular speed.

  I can do this. It’s just a walk, not a marriage proposal. But I bet he’d do something huge and ostentatious because that’s how he is. He’d tell everybody he was getting engaged. Shit, what the hell am I doing here?!

  “Come on, short stuff,” Dean says, smiling, with a tilt of his head towards the entrance. Swarms of couples and families, most of them with pets, trudge upwards onto the path, all of them laughing and smiling. “The kids aren’t going to wait all day.”

  The amount of howling that came out of the three of them when they saw him going for their leashes, you’d think we cut off all their legs and maimed them.

  “Here, grab Potter. He likes you the best, hell if I know why.” Dean flashes me another grin, taking the sting out of the words. I feel the corner of my mouth quirk up, and I do grab the little Yorkie, who looks up at me like I just made the world a better place for him, and him alone.

  But shit, did Dean have to name him Potter?

  Potter moves hard against his leash, practically cutting off his own air, and I have to stumble to keep up so I don’t kill him by accident. Just like I almost did to his owner. Ah, life, and its not-so-hilarious ways of sticking it to you.

  “Do you come here often? With the dogs, I mean?” God, what a stupid way to start a conversation. I sound like every fucking asshole trying to pick up a hotter girl at the bar.

  Do you come here often? Really? You need to stop the drinking, K. Seriously.

  Dean’s got the other two, one in each hand, and looks down at me with a weird expression.

  “I try to come here as often as I can. The boys need th
e walk, and I like walking, so, it’s all good. Just watch out for the squirrels. I swear those little shits expressly taunt every canine on this thing just to mind-fuck them.”

  I snort into my French Vanilla, which doesn’t taste good coming from your nostrils. Potter yips and looks back at me all, come on, come on! There are smells out there I don’t know of yet!

  Potter makes me want to get a dog of my own.

  “So, what’s happened in the last ten years, Kat?” Dean asks, and something stabs me in the heart. So we’re going to start here.

  “Went to Concordia, got my B.Comm with a major in marketing and minor in management. The more I think about it though, Montreal isn’t the place for me if I want to make some serious money. Toronto’s looking like the better idea right now, but I’m too chicken shit to actually do it.”

  “Huh. I wouldn’t’ve pegged you for business. Shit, I never would’ve called that in a million years.” Dean makes me sound like what I studied was a bad thing.

  I frown. “Every business needs a manager, so why the hell not me?”

  Dean shakes his head, then winds his giant hands around the leashes, keeping the boys closer to him. I still don’t know their names.

  Doesn’t matter. Today is the last day you’re going to see him. Be polite, show your manners, and peace out.

  “That’s not what I meant.” Dean blows out air. It comes out in a white puff that dissipates into the bright sky. “I just remember you really being into health and fitness, thought maybe you’d pursue that.”

  “Yeah, and have to wear yoga pants every single day while training people? No, definitely not for me.”

  The gravel crunches under my feet, along with whatever dead leaves that are past their pulverization date. I look up at Dean, mentally tracing his near-perfect profile. Nobody should look this good, at least not to me. Not to anyone. He should be put on a shelf, in a glass case and people can only admire him from afar.

  Then again, they’d be missing out on the pure sexiness of his voice, even if he does say stupid things with it.

  “Yoga pants are God’s gift to straight men,” Dean throws out there, making everything all awkward. Mostly because I’m incredibly aware of him, and wish something could come of this when it just won’t.

  “What about you?” I ask, but I can tell he’s either thinking something really interesting, or imagining my ass in yoga pants. Most probably me in yoga pants.

  I grin, and it’s like I haven’t done it in years, it feels so odd on my face.

  “After high school I decided to go to culinary school. Now I work as a sous-chef, and I kick ass at it. Nah, but seriously, I make really good food. I’m thinking of taking specialization in chocolate, though. I think it would be cool to say I’m a chocolatier. It rhymes with musketeer, and I wanted to be d’Artagnan when I was a kid.”

  “How did you even know who d’Artagnan was?” I mean, I don’t even know all of their names, only that there are three musketeers and the whole ‘all for one, one for all’ shit.

  Dean shrugs, pulls back on the German Shepherd. “C’mon, Kal, we gotta walk so you can go home and sleep the rest of the day away, you lucky bastard.”

  “Kal?” I ask, but I’ve been friends with Sera too long. I know who Kal is. “What’s the other guy’s name?”

  “This,” Dean pulls on the Dalmatian’s leash, and the guy barrels into our circle with a doggy grin. “Is Pongo. He hasn’t found his Purdy yet, but we’re hoping to change that. I’m going to need to move in a bigger place if this guy decides to save 101 puppies, but you know, that can be arranged.”

  I shake my head at him. Does he even listen to himself?

  “You know any broads that have female Dalmatians? Pongo and I would be much obliged.”

  I grin again, and this time it’s more natural. “No, but I’ll keep a lookout. I promise.”

  “I’m keeping you to that, this guy is lonely. He even tried to persuade me to hook him up on the canine equivalent of e-Harmony.”

  “And how did he do that?”

  Dean frowns at me, then chews on his lip. Wow. “You never had a dog growing up? Not even after high school?”

  I shake my head. “Mom was allergic. Dad was heartbroken. He grew up with three or four back in the village. In Italy, before my grandparents dragged him here.”

  Dean nods like this makes a lot of sense. We pull up to the view-point, a mock-stone mezzanine where on side leads up to a chalet that shows the sprawl of the city. From up here, it looks almost pretty, almost promising. Nobody has problems and the streets are dotted with thousands and thousands of lives.

  I’m not sure what made me believe that I was important, that I needed to be the center of attention, that I was better than anyone else. I don’t know if it was some fucked up version of a coping mechanism or what, but shit, I haven’t been nice to many people who put up with me.

  I’m going to have to fix that.

  Starting with Sera. Jesus Christ, what the hell possessed me to say those things to her?! And her, pregnant! That’s bad mojo for the baby!

  “I can smell the self-pity from here, Kat,” Dean says, voice floating down to my height as we look out over the city.

  “I’m just realizing how much an asshole I am. It’s humbling.” I shrug, and get a yip from my ankle area. Potter looks like he needs to be picked up. I know the little shit is conning me, but really, who can resist a face that looks at me like that – like I’m the best thing to ever walk the planet?

  Dean clears his throat. I can’t tell if he’s struggling between wholehearted agreement or strangled laughter. My cheeks start to burn and I chew on my lip. I am an adult. Mood swings do not become me.

  Oh, yeah? What the hell do you call last night? And you being such a dick to your so-called best friend?

  My inner voice needs to learn to keep her trap shut. I’ve got enough to deal with right now.

  “I want you to know that everything I did to you back in high school, I thought it was a way of making myself feel better. But that’s what bullying is, right? Kids who hate themselves so much they need to put others down. That’s what I did.”

  I look out at my city and wonder if I could ever leave this place, if I could leave behind all the bad memories, and some of the good. The answer’s yes. Maybe it’s time for a fresh start.

  “My parents were fighting all the time, and my Dad was being mean to me. Just constantly ragging on me, every little thing I did wrong, I was yelled at for it. I mean I was working part-time and trying to finance my social life, and every fucking little thing I did wasn’t good enough, it wasn’t right enough and it wasn’t his way.”

  I watch my breath puff out in a white cloud. I scratch Potter behind the ears, and get little tongue licks on my cheek.

  “I was angry at him, at my mom. I was angry at everyone because they didn’t know how bad it was at home, how much I looked forward to going to school, to get away from it all. And then there was you.

  “I thought I loved you, Dean, really, I did. But I was just a dumb kid, and it looks like I break my toys when they’re not so attractive to me anymore.” I wait for Dean to start yelling, or throwing his weight around, hell, even to find the first guy who gives him the wrong sort of eye-contact and start going to town on his face.

  Dean’s just quiet and still beside me, like a mountain in a raging hurricane. The dogs are quiet, too, and are sitting on either side of his legs. Shit.

  “I’m... I’m not going to make excuses. I was feeling shitty about myself, about my parents and I took it out on you. And I thought your pain and embarrassment was going to make me feel better, make me feel powerful. It didn’t, it just made me feel worse. Especially when I would see you day after day in class, looking at me like I’d ripped your heart to pieces.”

  I’m done for now, I think. Dean’s still impersonating a statue beside me, and I stare down at the city without really seeing it.

  Fuck, if I had just acted differently all those years a
go. If I just was more patient, kinder, sweeter. If I wasn’t so angry about what Mom did to Dad. Maybe if I didn’t keep my trap shut when I saw her and Malcolm fooling around. Maybe if I didn’t hope against hope that it was just a one-time fucking thing between the pair of them.

  Should I get out the violin?

  I don’t know why I’m still so pissed off. I don’t know why I’m still so bitter about it. I had watched my dad grovel to my mom, begging her to choose him, to stay with him. I was disgusted at the same time I felt such a crazy hope that I thought I would soar above the clouds, only to come crashing back down when my mom laughed in his face. That’s when I knew, that no matter what, love and relationships are just not for me – not when I can break someone like that over a promise made twenty something years ago.

  “Fucking shit, you’re going to do this now? While we’re out here?” Dean waves, sweeping his arm over the entire mountain. He then rubs his face with that hand, dragging it along his features and something happens where he looks about ten years younger.

  I shouldn’t’ve said anything, but then again, I’m an asshole, and he has to know that.

  Dean growls, then violently stuffs his hands in his pockets, the colored leashes leaking out like octopus arms. He shakes his head, then looks at his sneakers, mumbles something to himself, then looks back at me.

  “What happened?”

  I shrug again, looks like it’s all I can do. My chest is comprised of raw meat, and swollen-sore. “I caught my mom cheating on my dad. Thought it was a one-time thing, so I kept my mouth shut for almost three years. She’s now marrying that piece of shit. Rehearsal dinner was last night.” Now it’s my turn to look anywhere but at Dean because I’m absolutely positive he’s judging me, and that hurts a hell of a lot.

  Dean blows out a puff of air, and I get a whiff of his coffee breath. “That doesn’t sound...fun.” He clears his throat again. “How about we walk and talk?”

  I nod at him, and set Potter down. The little guy jumps in place, then spins real quick like he’s trying to catch his tail. He’s beady black eyes almost smile at me, before darting forward, trying to smell and taste everything at once.

 
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