Never been nerdy, p.22
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       Never Been Nerdy, p.22

           C.M. Kars
 
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  “That just sucks for all of us well-adjusted dudes. We’re not broken enough, and we’re not rich enough for the upper crust.”

  “Upper crust?”

  Dean smiles at me, but it’s really nothing more than placating. “Women like you, kitten, who have everything. You’re independent, like goddesses that look down at the rest of us. You don’t need us, and that’s a scary thing.”

  “What are you saying?”

  “I was in love, once. It ended; she wanted something more, something better, and I don’t begrudge her that. I just wish somebody would tell her that perfect doesn’t exist, and that money isn’t everything.”

  “I’ll tell her! What’s her name?! I’ll call that bitch right now!”

  Dean shakes his head, grinning. “So you do care about me... even if it’s just a little bit.”

  I freeze. Have I been so transparent? “No, no I don’t.”

  Deny, deny, deny. It’s what you’re good at.

  “You’re a cool guy and I enjoy hanging out with you.”

  “Yeah, you do. I’m awesome. But you still don’t know my deepest and darkest secret.”

  “You’re secretly a ninja assassin?”

  Dean shakes his head, and the way he swallows nervously has unease creeping along my skin. “Nothing as cool as that. This is really hard for me to say...”

  Realization hits me with the force of a Mustang hitting a brick wall.

  “Oh my God, you’re really actually gay! You’ve been lying this whole time, and letting me maul you!” I’m burning red. The guy can’t even appreciate a good pair of breasts and that’s upsetting, but whatever.

  “Shit, I’m not gay, kitten. I want to fuck you, but I’m not an animal, and my dad raised me better than that.”

  My whole body gets inundated with want, and my breathing picks up a notch. “Shit...”

  “I want you, kitten, I don’t think I’ve ever stopped. Not completely, anyway.” He brushes some hair behind my ear, so gentle, so careful. My heart does weird things in my chest, and I have to swallow past the tightness in my throat.

  “Like I said, you’re not ready for this yet. Even if you seriously want it from me.”

  “You’re being a tease, and playing mind games. I don’t like that.”

  Dean smiles, kissing the tip of my nose. “You’re beautiful, and bossy and I fucking love that. But if we want to go ahead with this, with a ‘you and me’, we need to go careful. I’m a forever kind of guy, and you don’t believe in it. I’m up for the challenge of trying to convince you, though.”

  “Dean... I’m going to hurt you, maybe not today, or tomorrow, but I will end up hurting you and have to leave you behind. I’m going to hurt you when you least expect it and when it matters most.”

  Dean stares through me and I’ve never felt so alone, so useless. His eyes get brighter almost, and for that split second our gazes meet and it’s like he can see through every single cell I have, every secret, every thought.

  “What makes you think I’m going to let you hurt me like that again? Because I’m going to make our time together so epic, so awesome, it’s going to be the best time of your life. I promise you that.”

  “People change, Dean!” I yell, panicked. My breath comes in hard and fast and this is so important, more important than work, more important than my family, then what happened to my parents. He needs to understand.

  “People change and then they realize they want different things, they want different people ten, fifteen, twenty years from now. I don’t want to do that to my kids; fuck, I don’t even know if I want kids!”

  Dean smirks. “That’s okay. Kids are a huge responsibility. I mean, the boys take up so much of my time, and having a human kid is super hard. I’d rather you lavish your attention on me a hundred percent of the time.”

  My mouth pops open, and I just stare at him. “What aren’t you understanding? I’m going to hurt you, just like last time.”

  “I think the reaction I would get now from women and me being only in my Star Wars boxers would be entirely different from back then. Of course, there’s only one person I want looking at my Star Wars boxers and she just happens to be sitting right next to me.”

  “You’re making me angry.”

  “Bruce Banner kind of angry?”

  “I understood that reference.”

  He smirks, and rubs his mouth with his hand. “Then you know that what you just said is also a reference.”

  “You lost me.”

  “Awesome. Let’s watch Galaxy Quest.”

  I push at his big body, settled on my couch. Potter makes a sleepy sigh noise in my lap and I’m careful to keep my weight even on the couch so I don’t give him a heart attack mid-sleep.

  “You have to leave. Potter can stay.”

  “Oh, I see how it is, keeping the dog over me. I’m offended. Truly. I might have to go on a quest to win your love, slay a dragon. Do you know of any dragons around town?”

  I’m shaking my head, just keep doing it until maybe this will all make sense.

  “We’re already doing couple-shit. So eat up, and gimme your remote so we can get this flick started.”

  “What if I don’t want to watch Galaxy Quest?”

  “Then I’d have to ask you what else you have in mind.”

  I narrow my eyes at him, trying to puzzle all this out. What is going on here?

  “Are you trying to be sexy?”

  “Is it working?” he grins.

  “Not completely. You’re trying too hard.”

  Dean nods like this makes sense. “So you like me cute and cuddly and just being little ol’ me?”

  “Yeah, I mean… maybe…”

  Dean grins and moves in to give me a kiss on the cheek. I move my face faster than the speed of light and get our mouths connected for a glorious few moments, feel the heat pool in my lower belly, my panties suddenly too abrasive against my most sensitive skin.

  Dean groans, a deep rumbling sound coming out of him, almost like a cat’s purr. He somehow leans in closer, pushing me back against the armrest, moving forward, over me – just where I need him to be.

  Until a panicked Yorkie yelp crash-lands the whole thing and we’re both two feet apart now, breathing hard enough like we’ve just been saved from death by drowning.

  “I’m sorry,” he says, and I notice he’s blushing. I eye the way his back and arm fill out the fabric of his t-shirt, the plain white cotton a beautiful complement to his skin. I wonder how many bench-presses he can do by using me instead of the barbell. I’m betting at least a hundred.

  “You have nothing to be sorry for. I started it.”

  Dean’s body tenses up, like he’s waiting for the gunshot to get him to start the race. “Potter, come here. C’mon boy, come over here,” Dean coaxes with a soft voice.

  Potter curls up in a tighter ball and promptly closes his eyes and falls asleep in my lap.

  “You’ve been dog-blocked.”

  “I wish this was easier with you. I wish you’d just believe me.”

  I swallow, and keep my attention on the TV.

  Tim Allen comes on screen with an absurd mullet haircut, and I try to listen to the words, the dialogue, try to completely forget that a Viking is sitting next to me, and he’s asking me the one thing that I cannot give him – my heart.

  He doesn’t know I don’t have one.

  ***

  “Katie,” Dean whispers, nudging me awake.

  I’m an old lady, I fell asleep halfway through the movie. Potter lets out a whimper from my lap and gets up, hopping down onto the floor, emitting another high-pitched whine, basically begging to go outside.

  “I’ll be right back,” Dean says, kissing me on the cheek. I try to sit upright, trying to convince myself that I need to stay awake, that I need to do something important – like tell Dean that this will never work.

  I just pass the hell out, again, and wake up to Dean whispering in my ear, murmuring soft words that snake their
way into my consciousness and wake me up.

  “I just want to sleep, why are you waking me up?”

  I can hear the smile in Dean’s voice, but I try not to react to it. I want to go to sleep, not pay attention to the world around me and lose the battle with unconsciousness.

  “You have to lock the door behind me when I leave. How are you going to do that all the way over here?”

  It’s futile, trying to keep my eyes closed. “Are you just going to keep talking? I don’t like the talking,” I mumble, and Dean laughs. I can’t help but smile when I crack my eyes open. Shit, he really is beautiful, and it’s not fair.

  “You can just sleep here. I can’t summon up the strength to even get to my bed. I’m going to sleep here. Go ahead and use the bed. Good night,” I murmur, eyes drifting closed again.

  “Yeah, I’m going to sleep in your bed while you sleep here.”

  Why must there be a conversation right now, of all times? Jesus Christ, shut up, Dean! Did I say that out loud? He’s still babbling, so that would be a no.

  “You have a king-sized bed. I’m actually going to fit!” Dean says, holding me in his arms. I didn’t even realize I was weightless and airborne, just thought I was dreaming of flying away, away, away.

  “Screw that, I’m sleeping here with you tonight,” Dean says. He gently lays me down on the bed, undoes the covers and scoops me back up again to settle me underneath them. I shiver at the coolness against my skin, and Dean helps me take off my robe, only to hiss like I’ve sliced him to tiny bits.

  I groan in the form of a question, but Dean just clears his throat and after a few seconds, I hear clothing being dropped to the floor, and then a dip in the bed. I should do something about this.

  I’ve finally, finally gotten Dean in my bed, and I’m too exhausted from these past few days to do anything about it. I’m sick of the crying, and at least in my dreams, I can pretend and imagine a better life where I’m a better person, where I’m not so angry, and maybe in this imaginary paradise, I can convince myself that Dean loves me.

  And just because in dreams, anything can happen, I somehow manage to love him back.

  Chapter 24

  The following Thursday Dean’s not his usual self. His voice sounds off, dead almost, and I have to practically beg him to talk to me. Sera’s still not talking to me, and that stings, but I’ve convinced myself that it’s better this way, better for all involved.

  It’s also the day when Russia leaves a panicked voicemail on my phone, begging me for news. That asshole can stew in it; I’ve got more important things to do. Why can’t he just go after Sera himself, why does he need my help?

  Sack up and make yourself heard, and all that shit.

  “Hey, Dean?” I ask him over the phone, walking to my car after work. The hour has changed and it’s the last week of November, and instead of dusk being a friendly reminder that the day is ending, seven pm is pitch black like the bowels of hell.

  “Yeah?” Man, even his voice sounds tired, just pure exhaustion, and… hollow.

  “We don’t have to hang out tonight, if you don’t want.” I’m pretty sure I just won the Academy Award for best fake-calm, since everything inside me is pulled taut, waiting for his answer.

  Maybe he’s finally come to his senses. Maybe he doesn’t want to waste his time with you anymore. Maybe he wants somebody normal…

  Tamping down on my anger is hard to do, and I nearly scratch Roxie, fumbling for my keys with shaking hands. My anger always gets me into trouble, and while my luck hasn’t been so bad lately, maybe I shouldn’t tempt fate.

  “Actually, maybe you can come with me. I’d like it if you came with me.”

  My heart does jumping-jacks and if it had a voice it’d be squealing, sounding very much like Sera.

  “Okay, I’ll come pick you up. I might even let you drive,” I say, hoping it will somehow cheer him up. I’ve never heard him sound so out of it before, there’s no intonation to his voice, no Deanness. Something’s wrong, something’s really wrong.

  “Nah, I know how you love her,” he says, sounding a little bit more like himself. “Max is already there with his girl, so we’ll meet them there. Do you mind picking up something to eat? I don’t feel like cooking.”

  Sirens wail in my head.

  “Sure, Dean. I’ll come get you and we’ll pick something up on the way, okay?” I ask, trying to sound reassuring. I’m frowning down at my hand, ready to get my key in the ignition, sitting on the freezing cold leather seats of my car.

  “Alright, I’ll see you in a bit,” he grunts, and I wonder what the hell is going on. I stop myself from calling Sera, from trying to figure out if they spoke with each other, if she knows what’s going on.

  Oh, yeah, I dissolved that friendship and I’m stuck going it alone. Just like it’s always been.

  I drive like an old lady to Dean’s, partly because I’m trying to figure out what to do about making him feel better without sex involved, and partly because I’ve been more vigilant when it comes to driving since I hit Dean last month. I mean, now that it’s happened, there’s more of a chance it will keep happening, and this isn’t a game of Grand Theft Auto.

  I pull in front of his building, wondering if I should call him to come down, or double-park and hoof it up, but he’s actually making his way down the outer stairs and he looks worse than grim.

  Shit, this is going to suck.

  He’s also dressed in that black peacoat and he’s got, shit, shit, shit, a suit on. His hair looks wet even from this distance, and he’s wearing glasses, the frame silver and not those typical hipster glasses. He also looks like he hasn’t shaved in a week, and the unease I thought I had rationalized away on my drive over comes back with the force of a tsunami.

  This is so going to suck. What’s happened that’s got him looking like that? Did one of the boys die?

  I gasp when the thought ticker-tapes its way through my mind, and I didn’t think I could have tears in me for the death of a dog. But Potter, Kal and Pongo never hurt anyone and it all seems so unfair if they were to die. There’s so much shit in the world and it doesn’t make sense that the good is slowly being siphoned away.

  Dean gets into the car without saying a word.

  So this is how it’s going to go. Should I say something? What if it’s true, what if one of the dogs is dead?

  “Hi,” I say, keeping my voice low. I turned off the radio because he looks like he can’t take the music right now.

  “Hey, Kat,” he says, giving me a half-hearted wave. I want to smile, I want to laugh at the sight of it, because that’s Dean, being dorky and awkward but there’s something else I don’t know about yet and I don’t want to do something wrong.

  “Just tell me where to go.”

  Dean grunts, and gives me a sign to go straight. I follow his directions until he verbally tells me to find a parking spot. My hands are glued to the steering wheel and I really don’t want to get out.

  Cemeteries skeeve me out. I don’t like the idea that I could step on someone, no matter what stage of decomposition they’re in.

  I get out slowly, trying to keep calm, trying to do something for Dean when all I want to do is ask if I can stay in the car. I swallow down the creepiness factor and round my car, somehow forgetting how to walk and bumping into the nose. Really?

  Dean waits for me, looking through me again, but he’s holding out his hand, waiting for me to grab it.

  Oh, boy. Dear Virgin Mary, please help me help him. I’m going to need all your help on this. Amen.

  He twines our fingers together and I try not to think about that.

  He walks us into the cemetery, keeping pace with me by shortening his Viking strides. If he were feeling alright, he’d probably make a joke, but I’m grateful right now that the gravel path is packed well enough that I don’t feel like I’m going to snap an ankle in my heels, and the cold hitting my stockinged legs has me shivering.

  The sky’s the color of ink, with ti
ny grain-of-sand-sized stars peeking through. The cemetery’s pretty well lit from the streetlights, and they somehow added potlights to the main path, lighting our way.

  I squeeze Dean’s hand because this feels too much like a shitty horror movie.

  His hand stays limp in mine, and the misery coming off of him has me swallowing past the tightness in my throat.

  Christ, what is wrong with him? Who are we going to see?

  “He’s over here,” he says, indicating with his chin that we need to turn right.

  I keep my breath even as we walk onto the grass and I start sinking into the ground, and have horrible thoughts of decaying corpses’ dead, dead hands jutting through the earth to snatch at my ankles. I put all my weight on the balls of my feet after that, and stare dumbly at the only other couple, uh, two-person-group standing in front of a pristine white tombstone.

  This is a family thing. What the hell am I doing here? But… Dean wants me here, for some crazy ass reason.

  “Hey, bro,” the dude says, letting go of his girl’s hand and moving towards Dean. The younger Carter brother moves forward but checks himself when he sees me, and Dean isn’t letting me go.

  “Hey, kiddo,” Dean says, voice flat and devoid of his personality.

  “Hi,” I say, letting go of Dean’s limp hand and sticking it out for a shake. Dean’s younger brother, Max, takes it and gives it a one-two pump then drops my hand. I can’t tell in the shitty lighting, but the overall Carter-gene resemblance is so there. Although Dean still tops him by a couple of inches, and for some reason, that makes me want to shake my ass.

  So stupid. Can’t you see he’s in pain?

  Yeah, well, I don’t do well with heavy emotions. That’s Sera’s specialty. I just end up getting pissed and saying stupid shit that I’m too chicken shit to say otherwise.

  “I’m Max,” younger brother says, and reaches back for his girl’s hand. “This is my girlfriend, Anna,” he introduces us, and I shake her hand. I cringe when she gives me the tips of her fingers and jellyfish holds my hand with zero authority.

  I shouldn’t judge, I shouldn’t judge.

 
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