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Never been loved, p.18
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       Never Been Loved, p.18

           C.M. Kars
“Maybe you shouldn’t pulverize your napkin,” she tells me, smoothing out my fingers and I’m not holding paper anymore, but the flesh of her fingers instead. “I’m really happy you’re letting me read to him. Thank you.”

  C’mon, man, say something intelligent. Do something. Anything. She’s on the same page… I think.

  I watch her put the mandatory space between us, but I flip my hand over quick enough and get our fingers wound together, making sure she can’t pull away from me, not now, not when there’s so much to do.

  “As long as you promise to stay after he goes to bed. We need to talk.” Right, give her ultimatums, idiot. But she snorts, and then hides the sound behind her hand, cheeks glowing red. The kid adds his laugh to the mix, and I can’t help it and follow suit.

  “That was adorable,” I say, kissing her knuckles, like some prince or some shit, but Sera seems to like it by the way her mouth parts, and a breath comes whooshing out of her.

  “Why do keep kissing her hand, Daddy?”

  Busted, MacLaine. You’re in trouble now. How are you going to explain this?

  “I’m showing her respect, buddy. I like Sera. I want her to be my girlfriend.”

  “I don’t get it,” the kid says, frowning at me.

  “When I do this,” I tell him, grazing my mouth against her knuckles again, “I’m saying I like her.” I’m probably doing all this wrong.

  “Is it like when Peter kisses Wendy’s hand?”

  “Yeah, buddy. That’s exactly it.” Anything to get him to stop talking about it, anything to get his attention away from me and Sera together. Fuck, I don’t know if there’s a ‘together’ yet.

  “I think I understand.” Matty nods a couple of times, then looks at me like he’s filed away that info for later. “Daddy, can we go to the park now? You said after supper we could go. Sera, wanna play soccer?” he asks her without waiting for my reply. The kid knows how to get what he wants all the time.

  “Pffft. You don’t want to play me, buddy. I’ll kick your little bum,” Sera says, getting into it. Most girls would probably knock it off, having to play with a little kid, but she’s all for it. She even blows air on her knuckles like she’s hot shit.

  Well, she is.

  Matty looks to Sera, then smacks his hand down on the table, all pissed that she used a synonym for ass. “I thought you said a bad word. So? Wanna play? I bet Daddy’s better than you!”

  The challenge has been issued, and all Sera does is look over to me and say, “I’ll kick your bum, too. Game on?”

  She shouldn’t be allowed to play soccer dressed like that. How am I going to concentrate on the ball when I’d be looking at some particular female parts of her body? “You’re playing dressed like that?” I ask, looking her up and down, rubbing my mouth with a hand. My jeans are uncomfortably tight, and I have to think of corpses to get myself to calm down.

  “I’ll show you and your boy how a lady can kick gluteus!” She shrugs. “I’m trying to avoid losing quarters.”

  I keep rubbing my mouth, more slowly now. “Game on, then. When I kick your...bum, even in those fine clothes, we’re going to talk, aren’t we?”

  I watch her fidget, running her hands over that fucking skirt, not looking at me behind the curtain of her hair. Then she tells me what I want to hear.

  “Yeah. We’ll talk. But not before I score a hat-trick!”

  Chapter 17

  She has skills, I’ll give her that, but Christ, she doesn’t play fair. She just had to roll her skirt up, just fucking had to.

  Her long hair is flowing in the wind, distracting me with its vanilla frosting scent, and she keeps laughing and pulling these moves that got me having to physically use my brawn to keep her from shredding my ego. Not that I’d mind.

  Matty gets into it, too, practically trying to break her leg when he fans the ball and tries to get it away from her. I call a penalty kick ’cause in whatever game you’re playing there have to be consequences, and the kid needs to learn that, sooner rather than later.

  Still makes me feel like a shit, though, especially when he gives me that wounded look that reminds me so much of my sister.

  But the kid notches his chin up and gets in net, and stares down at Sera like he’s willing her to miss. Sorry kid, that’s not going to happen. Consequences and all that shit.

  I don’t know what I’m doing half the time – I don’t know how to be a parent. The way I was brought didn’t help me none. I have no pointers from my mom and my dad’s been long gone for a while. So yeah, I have no idea what I’m doing.

  But I don’t think it’s impossible to figure out.

  Kids nowadays, well, ninety percent of them are little shits, lack respect and don’t know their asses from their elbows. Matty’s not going to be like that – he’s going to grow up to be the man I could never be.

  It’s not a hardship to step close to Sera, to watch the wind play with her hair, the sun turn it bright. And Christ, that skirt, rolled higher up on her waist so I can see her bare knees – she has scars on both of them, maybe battle wounds from an overactive childhood. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.

  I’ve known Sera for only a short while, but it sure as hell didn’t take long to tell that she’s extremely kind, maybe too kind. She’s going to want to miss. Staring at her profile, I catch her eyeing the far post, and not the angle where the ball should get in the net, either. Nah, she’s going to miss on purpose, because that’s who she is.

  I’m not going to let her.

  I step in close, her ass almost flush with my dick, the thing pulses, practically waving ‘hello, nice to meet you’ in my jeans, and I get my mouth on a sweet spot on the side of her throat, feel the pulsing of her vein and her sharp intake of breath.

  Now I’m thinking of a bed, and her and me in it.

  It is not cool to be sporting a stiffie in the middle of a kid’s park. Get that shit under control, man. Now!

  My scheming plan worked; Sera actually scores a goal, and Matty starts going mental. The kid keeps kicking the ball in the net, screaming incomprehensibly. The hole in my chest blows open wide to swallow me whole, and I move over to him, speaking to him softly.

  “Matty, Matty you have to stop what you’re doing, before you hurt yourself. Come here.” Jules’ kid lets himself get corralled by my long arms, and closer to my body.

  The kid’s face is crumpled until his features have twisted in agony. At four years old, Matty knows there’s something wrong with him, and sometimes, he crashes into the wall that are our limitations of what we can do. Until the careful dieting and watchful doses of insulin aren’t enough anymore.

  Until every little thing, just like a goal that was scored on you in a game of pick-up soccer is enough to destroy the very foundations on which you stand. Because that’s all it is in the end, a game of pretend, our lives – pretending that we’re normal, that we’re healthy – when we are not. And that the kid has to learn that at such a young age has enraged me since we found out he was diabetic.

  This shouldn’t be happening, not to him, not to me. Why can’t the scum of the earth get sick? Why do they get to keep breathing the same air as I do and continue to hurt people?

  Gritting my teeth, I pull the kid in for a hug, and while I’m not used to giving hugs, I know he needs it.

  What I wouldn’t have given for my dad to have hugged me when I was a kid. Shit, if the old man showed up now, and really looked at me and hugged me while thumping me on the back, I might disgrace myself and bawl my eyes out.

  Matty sobs harder in my shoulder, and I’m all too aware of Sera looking down at the pair of us, probably disgusted by our mutual weakness. I keep rubbing his back, keep lying to him, telling him it’s okay, when it sure as shit is never going to be. I hug him tighter until he settles down, sniffing a wad of snot, and angrily wiping away his tears.

  He lets me carry him back home, with Sera following behind us. The kid’s a mass of arms and legs, like a live blanket thrown over half m
y body, but I don’t mind. Not when it’s this important. I don’t want him to ever feel alone when he confronts his sickness, not like Mom left me alone, not like Jules did – until it was too late.

  In the elevator, just when I’m about to let Sera down easy, just when I’m about to say goodbye to this queen of a chick, Matty pops up with a request.

  “Sera? You’re still going to read to me, right?”

  “If that’s what you want, Matty. I’ll be over soon, okay?” Sera says.

  Ding, ding, ding! The round is over and the last man left standing is the kid.

  Stepping off the elevator, Sera goes to her place, while I unlock our door and set the kid down. He takes off his shoes slowly, unwinding the shoelaces and the perfect bunny ears I made this morning – the kid’s not looking at me.

  “What’s up, Matty?”

  Still undoing his laces, he mumbles, “I really like Sera, Daddy.”

  “I do, too, kid. Now, let’s get you cleaned up so Sera can read to you, yeah?”

  “That’s a good idea.” He nods at me like I’ve surprised him.

  Sera knocks on the door fifteen minutes later, wearing sweats and a huge t-shirt that I don’t have a chance to read since I’m concentrating hard on not staring into the abyss that are her tits. She holds up a book at me and grins, moving past me into the kid’s room.

  I lock the door, and move to my bedroom, lying down on the bed to hear her read to him. I frown at the kid’s questions – he’s got about a million of ’em, interrupting the story – Sera doesn’t even get annoyed, her voice stays calm while she answers him. Matty even freaks out when some cat turns into a human, and makes Sera stop reading only to ask a shit-ton more questions. I’m grinning, alone in my room, and I have no idea how it got on my face.

  You’re cracking up over some girl. Really, man? Is this what’s in store for you?

  Yes. Yes it is.

  I keep listening to Sera read, and then head out slowly to shut off all the lights. I peek into Matty’s room, stare like some fucking creep in the darkened hallway, watching Sera and Matty’s heads close enough together you’d think they were Velcro’d with both their faces in the book.

  Finally. The kid’s asleep. Amen.

  Sera shuts off the light and I hear her freeze for a few seconds, getting used to the dark. I do this shit to keep my eyes sharp, a personal test, to check if my eyesight’s getting worse in the dark. I’ve had diabetes for ten years, and a major side effect is the steady loss of vision without control over my sugars.

  It’s like I’m waiting for my eyes to fuck up, just waiting to give up on life, to stop work, to stop providing for the kid. I hate that about myself, this constant need to make sure I’m okay, and it sure as hell isn’t a surprise that I’m not.

  I’m not good for Sera. She doesn’t need to fall in love with a man that will inevitably go blind and forget what she looks like.

  This is so fucked up. Everything is just so fucked up.

  “Why don’t you close Matty’s door, and you can turn on the lights?” she whispers, gasping when I close the fridge door. I slowly reach out for her hand, feel her jump at the contact.

  You’re not a vampire. Chicks don’t dig being sneaked up on.

  Damn it, I just want to be close to her. She makes me forget what I am. So I move closer, half-expecting her to scream her lungs out when my lips graze her ear, half-expecting her to knee me in the balls again.

  You’re a sick bastard if you’re smiling thinking of that. Maybe I am.

  “I need his door open so I can check on him during the night. And I do it to test my vision. I force my eyes to get accustomed to the dark.”


  The world is a darker gradient of grey and I can barely make out her face. Her face, though, is probably confused, and this is a subject I don’t want to get into. I want to kiss her tonight, I want to taste her and make her forget what I am, and make her believe that I can be more. Talking about fucking impending blindness will not do that for me.

  “Your sugars, right?”

  Ah, shit. She knows. She knows everything.

  I can’t help myself; I kiss the soft roundness of her cheek, and linger for a second too long. The invisible band squeezing my chest hard enough to kill eases up a little.

  “I forget that you know all this already. I love that I don’t have to explain any of this to you.” Fuck, I do.

  In the dark, I hear her slow intake of breath, and it rattles and shakes as she lets it out. Sera could be afraid of being alone with me.

  “Are... are you dressed?”

  “Hmmmm,” I groan against her ear, moving even closer to her heat and her sugary smell. I’ve moved my hands to her waist, whether to keep her in place, or keep me standing, I’m not sure. “Do you want me to be?”

  “Holy Tardis of Gallifrey!”

  What the fuck is that?

  “You better be wearing at least sweats or I will leave this apartment right now!”

  Oh, yeah, she’s nervous. Be cool, and don’t blow it.

  I laugh - because who says this shit? – hugging her close. Deciding she’s going to need her space if I’m going to win her over, I move us to the couch and blindly grab for the remote, turning on the tube.

  “See? I’m wearing sweats.” I’m not dangerous. I’m not Lord Voldemort or a Death Eater. The fact that I know what they are is your fault, Sera.

  Shit, she’s checking me out and being obvious about it. I can’t tell if she’s blushing, though, with the blue glow of the TV.

  I want to see if she blushes in other places, too.

  Dead puppies. Maggots. Squirming maggots!

  “I think you should put a shirt on, too.”

  “No way. I like the way you look at me.” I grin.

  “I don’t like the way I look at you. Please, for the love of Castiel, please put on a shirt for me.”

  I look down at her but she’s staring at Die Hard like it’s more important than what we’re doing.


  “I’m... uncomfortable.” She sounds… uncomfortable. Obviously, genius.

  I snort. “Baby, I’ve been out of the game for a while, but the way you look at me, you’re not uncomfortable, are you?” Please tell me I’m reading the signs right. This is all bullshit if it’s not what I think it is. I can’t be reading it that wrong.

  “I think you’re so bloody beautiful, I’m wondering what you’re doing here on the couch with me, when you have Alysha on the backburner. And that makes me uncomfortable.”

  I grinned at the beautiful part, even if a man doesn’t like being called beautiful, it’s still a plus. My mouth dropped that act real fucking quick when all Sera did was force-feed me the truth. I exhale through my nose, and try and think of a way that I can explain my situation to her.

  She’s going to see the ugly part of me and turn tail. It was too good to be true, man.

  “I guess I deserve that.”

  “Yeah, you deserve it!” She’s flaring at me full on now, her eyes are fierce and her mouth is moving fast. Her hands get in the mix and physical harm looks like it’s going to happen tonight.

  “You’ve been with Alysha a long time, am I right?”

  I nod.

  “The whole tossing her aside thing is more than freaking me out. Beautiful guys like you, they use and destroy girls like me. And if you can toss aside Alysha when she’s clearly that gorgeous, I’m wondering what’s in store for me.”

  Girls like her? What the fuck? No. She doesn’t get it.

  “Baby, you’re not getting it. The question isn’t if you’re good enough for me, looks-wise, personality-wise, what the fuck ever, but whether I’m good enough for you.” I clench my jaw tight, and my hand’s on the back of her neck making sure she can read my face. I don’t like being told what I do, especially when I don’t do it.

  “Then prove it to me. Prove to me that I’m good enough for you.”

  With fucking pleasure, baby. But I need
to go slow with you, turtle-slow.

  “I thought I was doing that, Sera. You think Aly even says hello to Matty, you think she talks to him about Batman and Superman? Yeah, right. She can’t even fucking deal with my sugars let alone the kid. You think Aly plays with him? Christ, Sera, did you see how he asked you to play soccer? I don’t even do that, and you’re a stranger. That means something to me. From where I’m sitting you’re more than good enough. And I haven’t even started on the killer body you have.”

  She looks like she doesn’t believe me.

  “Speaking of the soccer game - why did you bloody kiss me when I took my penalty kick? I ended up scoring and I made him cry. I was going to miss.”

  I nod. Changing the Subject 101. “You don’t think he would’ve known that? He’s four, not an idiot.”

  “But he cried! And it’s my fault!” Sera actually looks… hurt. Fucking shit, I want this girl in my bed… now. Wait, what did she say?

  “Sera, that’s a lesson he has to learn. He has limitations, he needs to know that he can’t push his body like everyone else can.”

  “But he’s four! Can’t he learn that lesson when he’s forty-five or something?” She waves off her hand into the distant future.

  “This isn’t what I really wanted to talk about.”

  “Oh-kay... I’m still pissed at you.”

  This whole conversation is a master ping-pong game I can’t hope to win. My strategy is shot to shit, and she’s spinning me around in circles.

  Just answer her like a normal dude would.

  “Are you pissed because you messed up? Or is it because I kissed you and you lost your concentration?” I gamble, and slowly move my hand so it’s resting on the side of her face. She freezes in my gentle grip, but I can tell she’s not going to give up.

  “They’re one and the same, Hunt.”

  “No, baby, they’re not and you know it.” Christ, I can’t stop touching her, touching her cheek, trailing my thumb along the bone. Her smell is driving me fucking insane. “We’re going to take it slow, as slow as you want to go. I don’t want you running.”

  Good man, lay it all out there. Let’s see what happens next. Who wants popcorn?

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