Never been nerdy, p.21
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       Never Been Nerdy, p.21

           C.M. Kars
 
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  Maybe it’s for the best, now. Maybe Sera took my words to heart and is finally going to get her happily ever after – if those exist.

  The door opens.

  “Took you long enough to show up,” Sera says. Her cheekbones are sharper, her jawline more delineated from the rest of her face. Shit, how long has it been since I’ve seen her? A month? I haven’t been over since they got engaged. Yup, four Thursdays have passed in which I have been hanging out with Dean, and have not found the courage to come and see Sera.

  Bad friend, bad friend!

  “I’m a bitch, and I’m sorry,” I whisper, and look down at my stupid Louboutins. I don’t know why I wore them here. Sera’s got her nerd shirts to wear as armour, but they’re also invitations to making new friends, meeting people who are more like her.

  Me? My armour is pretentious and materialistic and I can see how I’ve attracted the shitty people around me. I’m all about the outer package and I have no substance. I thought I did, but seeing the depth of Dean’s personality through meeting him and getting to know him all over again has opened my eyes to how amazing a person Sera Delos really is, and well, I just can’t compare.

  “Fuck yeah, you’re a bitch,” Sera says, eyes cold and remote. My heart squelches in my chest, and I take in a sharp breath through my nose. I need to be strong now. I need to have courage.

  She’s wearing another one of her shirts that says ‘Trust my rage’, and I have no idea what it’s alluding to. Sera doesn’t look pissed, just disappointed and I hate that look on her face. I’m the only reason for it.

  “Can I come in?” I ask, still unsure if she’s gonna tell me to take a hike.

  Sera backs up a step and I’m not sure if that means a yes or no. “Depends. You gonna start mouthing off when something doesn’t go your way?”

  I stop myself from doing the said mouthing off. Looks like I haven’t dug my hole deep enough yet. “No. I won’t. I just need to get something off my chest.”

  “Then you can come in.”

  “You’ve lost more weight,” I blurt out, noticing that her legs have gotten skinnier underneath her Star Wars leggings and even though Sera’s shirt’s baggy, I can tell where her actual waist starts and it’s way tinier than it was a few months ago.

  “That’s not the only thing I lost,” she says, moving towards the kitchen and opening the fridge. She stoops in there, and I lose her for a few seconds.

  I shake my head, and try to make this easier on her and me.

  “I came to give up my role as the maid of honour.” There, I said it. Can I go home now?

  Sera straightens up and moves to the sink, pinning me with a pissed-off stare that feels like she’s napalming my face. “Oh, yeah? What makes you think you have a choice in the matter? You’re the only family I have left.”

  “What?! You’re not going to invite your parents, your brother? Who’s going to walk you down the aisle?” My mind’s reeling. What the what?

  Sera washes an apple and takes a crunchy bite out of it. She stares at me while she chews, and I hate, hate, hate how much we both feel like strangers to each other.

  “Hunter’s trying to convince me to invite them all, but I only want people there who are going to be happy for me. And they don’t fall into that category.”

  “Why don’t you pick someone else for the job of M-O-H? We both know you don’t want me there that day.”

  She shakes her head and takes another bite, deliberate and slow, like I’m not stepping on hot coals and a bed of nails this whole time trying to figure us out.

  “That’s the thing, K. I never thought this was going to happen to me, and now that it is, there’s no one else I can see being with me that day. So that puts us in a little predicament, let’s say.” She leans onto the counter, all business as usual. Hell, who is this girl, and when did she become such a badass?

  “I want you to tell me what the real reason why you’re acting like such a bitch. The real reason, K, no tip-toeing around it. I haven’t heard from you in a whole month. Dean’s seen you more than I have.”

  I pull in a deep breath. I don’t want to do this right now. Can’t we just skip this part?

  “That doesn’t matter. I don’t want to be your maid of honour, Sera. Pick someone else. Hey, pick Zoe! She’d be thrilled!” I tell her, referencing a friend of mine that I used to work with until I transferred departments. Come to think of it, I’ve lost touch with her the past few months, too.

  Good job, K, alienating yourself was never so easy. Maybe you should call her up, get back in touch. Be a better person.

  “Zoe’s not my best friend. You are. Pick up the slack and tell me what’s wrong.”

  I’m shaking my head, left and right, over and over again. “No. I’ll be bad for you that day. I’ll… I’ll bring you bad luck, I’ll be bad mojo for your marriage. I don’t want that on my head!”

  Sera narrows her eyes. “What bullshit is coming out of your mouth? I know you believe in the whole bad luck thing you think you have but it has no bearing whatsoever on how I feel about spending the rest of my life with Hunter. Could you stop being so fucking selfish?”

  “Selfish!? I’m trying not to be, for once in my life! I’m trying to tell you that I’ll be bad for you that day, that I won’t be a good person to be around.”

  “Because you’re lonely.”

  I shake my head, but the words spear through my heart anyway. “That’s not it, Sera. That’s not it at all. I just don’t want to be there; you’ll be miserable because of me. Trust me on this.”

  “Do you smell that? That’s the continued stream of bullshit that’s ruining my new and improved kitchen.” Sera waves a hand in front of her nose and crinkles it.

  I’m getting nowhere fast. Why can’t she just listen to me and do what I tell her to?

  I take off my Loubis and walk over to her in the kitchen. I don’t know, but she’s holding herself straighter, taller, like she’s proud of herself. The whole transformation has thrown me off – she’s not the person I knew. She’s this new and improved version, the outside now matching the inside and I don’t know how to act with this superhero version of Delos.

  “You’re starting to tickle my rage bone. Stop being a bitch and let me out of this.”

  Sera smirks. “No. Tell me what’s wrong. Then maybe I’ll consider it.”

  My blood races through my veins and my inner furnace is stoked to a fever pitch.

  “Just listen to me, for once. Listen. I don’t want to be at your wedding. I couldn’t stand being there.”

  Silence, golden, pure and heavy silence.

  Then, “Tell me why,” the words are dipped in poison and expelled in frost. Jesus Christ, what have I done?

  “Because I can’t look at the both of you and wonder when it’s going to end. I wouldn’t be able to look at you, all dressed in white, all beautiful and perfect and wonder when the bastard is going to break your heart for good and I’m going to have to fix you.”

  “Keep going,” she whispers, watching me intently.

  “Don’t you know, Delos? In the real world, love doesn’t exist. And you’re going to learn that the hard way, and I don’t want to be there so you won’t be able to blame me when it all gets blown to shit.”

  “I feel sorry for you, K. Really, I do.”

  I shake myself, and take a step back so I don’t slap her. Her feel sorry for me? Yeah, right.

  “I feel sorry for you because you’re just a lonely little shit incapable of voicing your feelings and being brave enough to tell someone you care about them. I know you’re falling for Dean, Katie. You’ve never really fallen out of love with him, after all these years. And that scares the fucking shit out of you,” she tells me, index finger jabbing into my shoulder.

  “That somebody might have a piece of you, that you can be connected to someone in that way freaks you out because of what your mom did to your dad. Well, grow up, K. Grow the fuck up and realize that the world doesn’t revolve around
you, and that love does exist. It’s the only thing keeping me from killing you right now. The only fucking thing.”

  I slap her hand away from me. I’m breathing like I’ve raced with Usain Bolt and won; my hands are curled into fists and I’m clenching my jaw so tight I’m sure it’ll pop out of place real soon.

  “Dean has nothing to do with this. I’m not falling for him! Don’t you think I would know that shit?”

  Sera pushes on my shoulder and I take a step back. Pressure builds behind my eyes, and a switch gets thrown off that makes me go into violent mode. I move to push her back, but she knocks my hand away with her wrist.

  Someone’s been watching too much Karate Kid.

  “You’re being an idiot. You’re not the only person carrying around hurt! You’re not the only person who’s ever felt like shit after a divorce! What gives you the right to make me feel like shit after I lost Hunter’s baby? Who the fuck do you think you are, Katie? God damn it, what’s happened to you? So you’re mom’s remarrying. Who gives a shit?” Sera growls, and her fists are dangerously close up to her face like she’s going to knock me out for real.

  I’m shaking, my muscles just need an order for me to beat the shit out of her. I don’t want to listen anymore. My hands shoot out and grab the fabric of her shirt at her throat. Sera’s hands drop to her sides, and her eyes dare me to do some real damage. I yell in her face and shake her.

  ’m going to explode into a million pieces if I don’t keep this locked down, if I tell her the truth, if I give voice to it.

  But it comes clawing out of me, ripping out my throat and into the air.

  “We weren’t enough! My Dad and I weren’t enough to keep her happy! Don’t you see, you stupid idiot? I’m Matty and Hunter’s my Dad and you’re going to find someone who’s better than they are, who’s healthier, stronger, better-looking, not going to rack up the bills with all their meds. I won’t let you ruin him, Sera. Don’t get married, don’t make this a semi-permanent thing that’s going to fuck Matty up for the rest of his life. Don’t do it, have a fucking heart.”

  Tears start spilling down my face and Sera just watches me, face devoid of any kind of Delos emotion that I’ve been so used to.

  I’ve been keeping the truth hidden, even from myself.

  “You’re a coward, K. A fucking coward. Get out of my house.” Sera says through clenched teeth.

  I let go of her so fast my knuckles crack and I practically run over to my heels and slip them on. I’m out the door in another three seconds and I’m running, running, running, with no real finish line in sight.

  ***

  “Hello?” I croak into my phone.

  My voice is raw from screaming into my pillow, and my ears are sore from blasting my rock music over the earphones so loud. I nearly stopped breathing when my phone buzzed in my hand, but swiped to answer it before I could look at the Caller ID.

  “Hey, kitten. You sick or something? You don’t sound good. Want me to bring you some chicken soup?”

  “No, Dean, I’m okay. I just need to sleep.”

  “Oh,” he says, absolutely crestfallen. He clears his throat. “Well, could you come open your door anyway, my fingerprints are being stripped off from the searing heat of the exceptional meal I made for us.”

  I sigh. I really just wanted to be left alone. “Dean, I’m not in the mood for company.”

  “This doesn’t solve the problem of me about to be losing my fingers all in the name of good food.”

  “Ugh, fine. Just wait a second.”

  I stuff my feet into my Uggs and grab my pink terrycloth robe up off the floor. I know my eyes are probably swollen, but I don’t think I’ve ever cared less about how I looked.

  I unlock my door, and Potter comes whizzing in, no introduction needed. The little guy puts a smile on my face as he zooms into every corner and sniffs for a few seconds only to sprint to the next one and the next.

  I turn to Dean, who looks absolutely amazing in a plain white shirt and a peacoat for the colder weather. Late November isn’t notorious for having snowfall, but it’s been known to happen. His long hair is curling behind his ears and his green eyes are bright and concerned.

  “Do I need a hazmat suit, or can I come in and put this down?”

  I give him a mouth-corner lift and back into my apartment, opening the door wider for him to come inside.

  “I’ll get out of your hair, just let me take everything out of this bag and you can start scoffing as soon as I leave. Potter! Get off the couch, you heathen!” Dean barks, and I whirl around to see Potter, nose glued to the leather of the sofa walking from armrest to armrest. My couch is lower than Dean’s so Potter’s probably flying high on confidence right now.

  “You can stay, if you want Dean. I won’t be able to eat all that.”

  “Leftovers, kitten. Leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch or supper. I just gave you a free meal. No cooking required from your end, and I get to know that my culinary skills are being appreciated.”

  “Dean…” I say, but stop because I don’t have any other words to put after his name. He’s so sweet and kind. What is he doing here with me?

  “Katarina… You know, for next Halloween, since I was working this year, you should dress up as Katarina from The Sleepy Hollow. I could be Ichabod Crane. Downside, only about one in ten people will get it and that one person is Sera.”

  I make a hurt sound at the mention of Sera’s name and Dean looks up sharply, eyes narrowing like my tears are a personal offense.

  “I’m sorry. Let me just go get changed. I’ll be right back. Make yourself at home.”

  Dean clears his throat, and runs his hands through his hair. “You look good. Ah, I mean, just go sit down and I’ll get the plates. Christ, a guy tries to do something nice…”

  I settle myself on my couch where Potter crawls into my lap. Dean comes with food on plates and cutlery rolled in napkins not long after. I feel a bit weirded out that he now knows his way around my kitchen, but shrug it off.

  “Dean, why are you here?”

  “It’s Thursday night hang out. And I thought it would be better over here instead of dog central at my place. Besides, Max is over there with his girlfriend and they’re having a long reunion, if you know what I mean.” He waggles his eyebrows and sets to eating his won-ton soup. Who makes won-ton soup from scratch for fun?

  “Eat up, kitten. It’ll make you feel better, I promise.”

  A spark of an idea. Ludicrous and he’d never do it, but I’m so desperate right now for someone to want me, even if it’s pretend, that I’ll try anything right now.

  “Can you do me a favour?” I ask, setting my food down on my coffee table. Dean was even considerate enough to bring placemats so the wood wouldn’t be torched. Damn it, he’s going to make some girl incredibly lucky one day. I’m going to have to pine from afar.

  “Depends on what you have in mind. I can’t grant you any more wishes than three, and I can’t kill anyone or make them fall in love.” He’s quoting the genie.

  I lick my lips, trying to ignore the nerves. All he can do is say no, but I might die of embarrassment if he does. Yup, just wither away from it.

  “I want you to kiss me like you’re in love with me.”

  Chapter 23

  “No.”

  My shoulders hunch forward, trying to protect the gaping, bleeding wound in my chest. I don’t know why I keep telling him what to do, I shouldn’t have to do that.

  “I’m sorry. I don’t know why I asked that.”

  Liar. You want to feel better and you’re using Dean as a tool, again, to get what you want.

  “Yeah, you do. Give me a chance to want to kiss you and work up the nerve to actually do it, kitten,” Dean says, putting a palm to my face even after all the shit I’ve pulled. “Call me crazy, but there could be something here, and I don’t want to force it, and you’re too raw right now to need me in that way.”

  What the what?

  “Dean, you know I don
t believe in relationships. They don’t work.”

  He shrugs, like what I just told him is nothing more than a minor hurdle he has to overcome rather than the freaking Himalayas.

  “You’ve never been in one, well, other than me. And you know that I’m actually an amazing boyfriend. Look at me, I cook, I don’t mind massaging your feet after you wear those damn shoes all day long, and I’m cool with hanging out at home instead of pissing away my money buying bottles.”

  Being a homebody with Dean sounds absolutely perfect. But it’s a mirage, a joke – it’s just not real.

  “You’re hot, I’ll give you that,” I say, trying to be flippant.

  He can’t be serious. But, what if he is? He knows you can’t give him more, but he wants to go ahead anyway? Is he crazy?!

  “Don’t forget hilarious. But I’m still mysterious as fuck. I live in the shadows.”

  “Dean, you couldn’t be a badass even if you tried. It’s just not in you.”

  He looks at me with surprise. “I basically look like Thor, I don’t know why you wouldn’t call me a badass. You’ve seen The Avengers?”

  I nod. “Sera dragged me on opening night and was making fangirl noises the whole time.”

  “Damn straight. It was an excellent movie. Guardians of the Galaxy topped it, in my humble opinion, but you say something as definitive as that at a comic convention, and there will be blood.”

  “Okay...”

  Dean runs a hand through his hair again, scratches his jaw. “But I’m no Loki. That dude has enough issues to fill the Grand Canyon, but chicks dig him anyway. Why is that, you think?”

  I shrug, not sure where this is going. Not really caring in the end, because I like talking to Dean, I like hearing what he has to say on any subject.

  “I don’t know. Women, talking in broad sweeps of generalization here, like men who are broken – we want to fix them.”

  Sera’s done the same thing with Hunter, even if she doesn’t want to admit it. Shit, I can’t believe I compared her to my mom. I can’t believe I said those things.

 
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