Never been nerdy, p.2
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       Never Been Nerdy, p.2
 

           C.M. Kars

  “This thing got me to and from high school.”

  “I’m sorry?” I shrug, hoping that’ll make him lose the sad look. It makes him look tinier somehow, and way too familiar.

  He glares down at me from his towering height, and something inside me wants to snarl and spit back at him. I straighten my shoulders and raise an eyebrow.

  “Well, good thing it wasn’t your noggin then, uh?” I smirk. “Look, collect your flotsam, and let’s get out of here. I’m gonna take you to the hospital and they’re going to make sure your brain hasn’t gone to mashed potatoes.”

  He makes a grossed out face, all puckered lips, and screwed down eyebrows. The look strangely reminds me of Sera trying to beg Matty to eat some broccoli. I wonder how old he is.

  Shit, if he’s less than twenty-three, I’d be dealing with an insecure little man-child. But then again, every man I know hasn’t graduated from horny-idiot-teenager yet either.

  “Why would you put that image in my head? Mashed potatoes, the greatest food in the world, and you compare that with my cortical condition?”

  I stuff my hands in my trench coat, and cock a hip out, feeling the slightest pinch in my toe cleavage. Pain is beauty. I want to smack my forehead all Homer Simpson like, but you know, I’d leave a red mark on my head and ruin my make-up. I settle for a little growl and crack my jaw left, then right. I look back at my car, then back at the giant.

  “Could you just get in the car so I can drive you to the General? It’s not like they’re waiting for your highness to arrive so the doctor can especially see you.” That nose, that jaw… they’re bugging me. The precise shade of his eyes. I think I know this guy. But he’s looking at me like he doesn’t recognize me, either. Rather than get caught in that awkward dance, of ‘yeah, remember me? We used to…’, I shrug off the weak feeling of deja-vu.

  Fuck it, it’s been a long week, and I need to sleep. Wine first, then a solid five hours so I can do research tomorrow for my meetings on Monday morning.

  He looks down at the hood of my ‘Stang again with regret, shakes his head and gets into the passenger seat. I quell the urge to snap the locks in place and laugh once I’m seated inside.

  “This is a sweet ride,” he says, and that voice… Am I going crazy?

  A tickle of memory is just out of my reach. I’m sure I’ve seen him somewhere.

  And I got a couple of hours wait at the Emergency to hopefully get reacquainted.

  Chapter 2

  Once we’ve been registered and everything at the emergency department, we take two opposite seats and commence the countdown to boredom. At least I do.

  So, I didn’t think this through. Strange guy, with a totally strange way of talking; add in one quarter cup of social anxiety by the way he’s fidgeting and running his fingers through his hair, fold in the eggs whites, and you have one undercooked conversation that tastes like shit and it’ll give you the runs.

  I go through my phone, answering quick e-mails for work – seriously, do people even read the shit I send to them in the first place? – and go through my texts. Russia’s sent me one that he needs to ‘talk to me’, and I have an inkling about what he’s going to want to say. Yeah, not ready for all that drama, so I’m gonna ignore that for now.

  The Viking clears his throat, and since it’s so quiet in the waiting room, it feels like it’s the uncomfortable sound a microphone makes in a silent auditorium – awkward.

  I glance up from my phone and pin him with a look that clearly says gimme two more minutes. He raises an eyebrow, and gives me a stiff nod. Yeah, like I needed your permission.

  Glancing back down at my phone, I send off a text to Sera, wondering if she wants to keep me company after I explained the whole situation and that yes, I’ve gone and ruined our Friday night get-together, just us girls. She’d been texting me all week with the toothy emoji, telling me just how excited she was for tonight.

  All because I needed to check my reflection one last goddamn time. Well, your lipstick was smudged.

  I palm my phone and stuff it in my coat pocket then sit in uncompanionable silence with the giant.

  “Hi,” he says, sitting across from me, rubbing at one eye. Not sure if that’s the one with the contact in or not. Oh, well.

  I give him a chin lift like I’ve seen all the SAMCRO dudes do on the show, and then feel stupid because my Dad would hit me upside the head if he could see my manners right now. Of course, Dad doesn’t come out of the house much anymore, and that’s a moot point.

  “I think it’s better if we start talking, no? Otherwise, we’re both gonna go crazy and start climbing the walls.”

  I nod at his wisdom, then skitter my glance away from him. Shit, I momentarily forgot how freaking cute he is. I don’t think he holds a candle to the badassness and sheer panty-moistness factor that Hunter MacLaine has, but this guy has caught my eye, and while I’m here, I’m going to secure my prospect.

  “How are you feeling?” I ask, because well, I did hit him with my car, and even if he seems all fine and dandy, I’m not sure what the MRI is going to show.

  “Not too bad. Got a whopper of a headache, though. Feels like my eyeballs want to bust out of my skull by way through my nasal passage,” he says. It takes a second for the visual to hit my brain, for me to really understand what he just said, and the way his mouth pops open in a little O of surprise has me wanting to grin.

  He runs a hand through his hair again, then drops it to his lap. I watch him straighten his shoulders, completely dwarfing the hospital chair, and the wall at his back. I think, back in the day, they could’ve used him to plough the fields instead of an ox. He does that funny throat-clearing thing again, then sticks out his hand for a shake.

  “I’m Dean, and thanks for not splitting my head open,” he says, not sarcastically but with a genuine thank you. Just like that, I feel like utter shit, and try to calm down all my awesomeness.

  I did hit the guy with my car, and scramble-egged his poor brain.

  I free my hand from my phone – my phone! – and put us palm to palm and do the whole business handshake thing.

  You can tell a lot about a person by their handshake, especially as a woman. Man to man, I’m not too sure what goes on there, other than trying to convince the other guy that your dick is larger than theirs.

  Man to woman is a whole other ballgame. If the guy’s truly a dick supreme, he’s going to make you feel skeevy when you grab a hold of his hand for a business shake, like, your very flesh will crawl even if the fucker isn’t doing anything but trying to get a glimpse down your blouse. Woman to woman can either be extremely friendly or bullshit. I’m still trying to navigate my way through that minefield.

  But Dean holds my hand with authority and a respect I can feel through my fingers and up my arm. Even all my guy friends, Eli, Josh, Alex and Russia, don’t shake my hand like that. I’m a bro, and a potential piece of ass with a shelf life if they don’t find anyone in the next five years to settle down with and get married to, and it comes through in their handshake. Dean pumps my hand up and down, then let’s go of me quick and easy like he’s been practicing the art his entire life.

  Huh.

  My phone makes a dying duck sound as it vibrates against the arm of the chair through my pocket and I actually jump in my seat. I’ve never been skittish, nor have I ever been absorbed so much in a meaningless conversation that I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings. Dean just made me forget about my phone and no one has been able to do that in a very long time. Shit, even his name is familiar, but that could just be the whole Supernatural thing Sera’s always talking about.

  “Sorry,” I say, getting my phone out. I feel my face split into a wide smile as Sera has sent me a picture of Matty, my almost-nephew, blowing me a kiss. Sometimes, looking down at that kid’s face, yeah, I can see myself wanting kids, but that’s another conversation to have with myself on another day. Her text is laced with concern.

  First off, you okay? Second off,
is the dude you hit okay, or did he Man of Steel contort Roxanne? Thirdly, I’m coming to see you – should be there in twenty minutes.

  “Got a good text...?” Dean asks when I look up. Then I have a seizure of an epiphany, poor dude doesn’t know my name!

  “I’m Katie, the psycho bitch who hit you with her car. And broke your skateboard. And may or may not have given you a concussion.”

  Dean bites his lip, then runs his fingers through his hair again, bringing all my attention to his humongo bicep. Pretty sure it’s half the size of my face. He catches me staring, and when I give him my sauciest smile in return, the guy blushes! Blushes!

  Dean shakes his head, looks down at his feet, and stretches out his long legs, so ours are almost touching under my seat, where my ankles are crossed. Woah. I don’t mind him invading my personal space, and I’d rather it be sooner rather than later. He must be an awesome cuddler, just snuggling you all up.

  “Katie your full name, or is it short for something?”

  I nod vaguely, shrugging. “I was named after my grandmother Catarina, Katie’s my version of it.”

  “Cool.” He nods, and looks away from me, holding his hands together on his lap.

  This is the most awkward conversation I’ve ever been in, and I’m not a social hermit. And it is just me, or does he suddenly seem nervous around me?

  Hot for me kind of nervous, or is it something else?

  “Uh, want me to grab you some coffee? Maybe a little something to eat?” I give him a look from head to toe and seriously wonder what it would take to feed this guy – probably a quarter of the grocery store. Miiiii.

  “Actually,” he says, looking up at me as I’ve stood up. “That sounds really great. Just gimme a sec-”

  I place my hand on his thick ass wrist to stop him from going into his back pocket. I shake my head. If his wrist is that thick, I can’t imagine what kind of monster he’s hiding in his jeans.

  “I’m going to pay – it’s the very least I can do.”

  Dean nods at my wisdom and the offending hand gets put back in his lap, waiting patiently for further instructions.

  “I’ll be right back,” I say, and grab my purse and head to the cafeteria.

  ***

  When I get back, there’s another chick talking to him. Well, that was fast.

  She’s wearing dark wash jeans that used to be tight on her and a pair of Chuck Taylors that I’m sure aren’t the ones you can buy at Foot Locker; her hair’s down in waves all the way down her back, and she absently starts braiding it while she talks to Dean. She’s got a huge smile on her face, and pushes her glasses up her nose twice as I make my way over to the pair with a tray of coffee in my hands, and three paper bags filled with twenty-dollars-worth of goodies.

  “Hey Sera,” I say, coming up to them.

  “Here,” I tell Dean, giving him the tray with the caffeine. “I got regular coffee. Sugar, milk and cream are in the tray, just grab whatever you want. Food’s in the bags.”

  Sera Delos gets up, a blur as she gets in my face and thank the Virgin Mary I gave the coffee away or else her boobies would have seriously gotten third degree burns and I’m sure that would have made Hunter very sad.

  She gives me a tight hug, and I realize how much I’ve missed her these past few weeks. I might even go as far as saying I missed the nerd references, too.

  “Hey, buddy,” she says in my ear, then lets me go. “Missed your face. I was keeping Dean company while we waited for you to bring coffee. You neglected to tell me that the dude you hit name’s Dean,” she practically squeals and I hear Dean actually chuckle. Wow, Sera’s here five seconds and he’s laughing, and all I’ve gotten is a smirk.

  Are you jealous?

  “Hey broski.” I smile at her, taking my seat opposite the pair while she takes hers. She smiles at Dean like she would smile at one of the guys, and they’ve been friends for the past six years. How does she do that?

  “I see you’ve met Dean.”

  She gives me a toothy grin again at the mention of his name, so much so that her cheek muscles look like they’re straining. I love Sera, really, but sometimes, getting happy over the stupidest things can get a little tiring.

  Dean looks at her like he’s known her forever; they’re so comfortable together, just sitting there on the chairs, sort of facing one another. I feel like a third wheel, when I’ve never ever been one. This is very freaking strange and I don’t think I like it.

  Sera gives him a quick grin. “Really sorry she hit your giant head, bro. Especially since she was going to be coming over to my place for girls night.”

  “Hunter and Matty still out for the night?” I ask, for some reason trying to reinforce the fact that Sera is taken.

  She turns to me. “Yeah. They went for frozen yogurt, and a movie. I packed Hunt with an arsenal in case Matty’s sugar goes out of whack. He looked like he was going to war or something,” she laughs, then looks over at Dean. He doesn’t really look any different, but there’s a tightness to his shoulders that I’m sure wasn’t there before I mentioned MacLaine and his kid.

  That’s a victory for me.

  I listen to them chat for a while, until we all find out we live blocks, literally just blocks, away from one another, and I’ve gone and half-convinced myself that Dean’s in love with my best friend.

  I squint at the pair of them, not really listening to the conversation. I’m exhausted, and I hastily slurp some coffee after putting in my customary eight sugars in the inky darkness. I sit more comfortably in the chair, crossing my legs, and when I’m not even a blip on Dean’s radar, well, I’ve come to two conclusions.

  He’s gay, or he’s infatuated with Sera. Again?! How is she winning all these hotties?

  Shit. MacLaine isn’t going to like this. At all.

  Dean’s name gets called on the intercom, and with the greatest amount of politeness does he excuse himself from our collective presence and go into the exam room across the hall. Sera gives me an A-OK sign with finger and thumb and makes big eyes at me. All it does is make her look slightly deranged.

  “What’s with the crazy eyes?” I ask, tilting my head toward the exam room door not five feet away from our seats.

  “I think he likes you,” she says, and I startle myself with a full-fledged laugh. I cover it up quickly, because you know, emergency waiting rooms aren’t supposed to be happy places, peeps being sick and traumas coming in.

  “Right, sistah. He likes me. Who has he been talking to all this time, hmm? Not me. I think he loves the way you fangirl over the sound of his name.” I grin at her.

  She waves away my words with a hand. “Right, he was looking at me, when we’re both here. Uh-huh.” She fiddles with her braid, and stares at me. “How are you doing, buddy? What’s new and exciting?”

  I should be asking her this question. I’m not the one who moved out of my old place and into Hunter’s apartment. I’m not the one whose full-time job has just become to be a mom to an awesome little boy. I’m not the one who has to juggle the health complications of said two people. She’s got enough new and exciting for the both of us.

  “Nothing, nothing. Shit’s been real busy at work. My phone’s been destroyed with work e-mails, and I’ve got my boss so far up my ass, he’s worse than a fucking colonoscopy,” I growl, the annoyance and anger of the past week rising up and overtaking me.

  Damn it, I just really wanted some wine and chocolate ice cream and a geeky movie tonight. It probably would’ve been one of the Harry Potter’s and I would have been so okay with that. I just wanted to relax.

  The fucking curse does that to me – especially with a week’s worth of shit, and being ragged on for doing my job more exceptionally than any other ham in the company, I got the whole malocchio, bad luck crap that makes it even worse. Like this wonderful way to end a shitty week – sitting in the emergency room, nearly killing a hottie.

  I just feel... so down all the time. Like I can’t get my legs underneath me, like
no matter what I do, I’m stuck in the same place, in the same job with the same fuckheads that gossip, gossip, gossip, and nothing ever gets better or worse, just stays the same. Everything’s just blah.

  I sometimes end up alone in my apartment on Friday nights, wondering what it would be like back at Sera’s place with Matty running around, or all three of them, passed out on the couch, each snuggling one another in a chain, having fallen asleep in front of the TV.

  Right now, my eyes are gritty, and I slurp more coffee. I end up yawning anyway and passing it on to Sera.

  “I’m glad you called me,” she says around her yawn, then wiping the tears from her eyes when it’s over. She’s wearing her shirt that says How do you like them apples? Yeah, Good Will Hunting would have been a good choice, too, tonight. I’m so down for a younger and hotter Matt Damon, especially with that accent. Yum.

  “I would have blown my brains out from boredom otherwise, buddy. Not that I was inviting you to a party or anything fun, so kudos to you for actually showing up,” I laugh, and stifle another yawn. Shit, I’m so tired. Forget about snagging Dean’s number, as soon as he’s given the go ahead, I’m going back home to sleep the next twenty-four hours.

  But you need to be up early…

  “I think Dean’s still into you. Couldn’t you tell?” The way she says feels more than forced.

  I shake my head. When will she ever learn? “Let’s not go there, Delos. You’re blind and oblivious to that shit. Especially when it comes to you and guys.”

  Sera blushes for some odd reason. I rub my eyes carefully with my free hand, trying to keep the eye-shadow from smudging. I try to hold back another yawn, but the asshole wins.

 
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