Never been nerdy, p.5
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       Never Been Nerdy, p.5

           C.M. Kars

  Holy fuck, Delos just gave him a don’t-fuck-with-me stare and didn’t even blush. I blink a few times just to make sure I didn’t imagine it. Heh. Maybe MacLaine is good for her after all.

  “He’s diabetic. He can’t have a brownie, it’s going to make him sick, alright?” Sera says through clenched teeth. She angrily swipes some of her baby hairs around her face away from her face and behind her ear. She looks back at Matty, and ignores Dean.

  Time to pounce.

  “C’mon,” I tell him, putting a hand around his giant bicep and giving a little squeeze. If he asks, I’ll tell him the truth – he’s male and I’m female and I wanted to touch, and maybe even lick, but we’re in public, and society makes up all the rules.

  “I’ll buy you that brownie.”

  Dean lets me semi-drag him away from a still-crouched Sera and a Matty who looks like he’s going to start crying. There’s a line to order, so Dean and I have time to get to know each other a little better. Just enough time for us to exchange phone numbers.

  Except he’s distracted, and he’s staring through the board of chalk-written espresso beverages instead of trying to make a decision. He frowns and even that pinched part between his eyebrows is cute.

  “That really sucks,” he mutters, almost to himself, almost like he forgot I was standing next to him. When I give him a smile to say, yes, I’m still here. He frowns down at me from his massive height.

  “Poor kid’s diabetic. And I acted like a tool. Thought she was giving him shit because of the whole fat content thing, or she didn’t want him to get hyper or something.”

  I shrug, struggling for words, something I usually never have a problem with. I understand the logistics of diabetes.

  I get that some bodies have jerk pancreases that either stop working entirely or work so little they might as well give up entirely and stop being wastes of space. That causes shit to happen in the body and these people have to inject themselves, if they don’t have to take oral medication, to deal with food and regulate blood sugars. Conceptually, I get it. The theory is there on Wikipedia, but seeing Sera deny Matty a piece of chocolaty goodness is cruel.

  “Yup,” I say, trying to make the word sound smart. I hate sounding stupid; it’s one of my pet peeves. That and assholes answering their phones when I’m trying to have a conversation with them.

  Dean shakes his head and stuffs his hands in his pockets, hunching his shoulders in. The whole movement makes him lose about four inches so he’s not so freakishly tall anymore. I watch him kick the carpeted floor with a sneaker, and his hair falls forward until I can’t see much of his face.

  We pass an awkward silence waiting for the people in front of us to order. I’m about to turn around to ask him what he’s doing this weekend, if he wants to go for a coffee or something inane like that.

  I got distracted by his awesome manly jaw, and his nose with the little bump at the top, and the way his chin seems to jut out a little, and he orders his food and a coffee without me understanding the words, and I’m diving into my bag and trying to pull out my wallet while the cashier is giving me the stink eye for not being ready with the money already.

  My heart trips up a beat in my chest as I fumble with my wallet in my hands, trying to get the zipper open so I can delve in and get some cash, when Dean grabs one of my hands, his hand warm and callused enough to give me goosebumps, all while getting money from his own wallet.

  He looks down at me after paying, and states the obvious. “I said I wanted a book. Not for you to feed me.” His whole body jerks like he’s tased himself, and mashes his lips together, all while looking down at the floor. It’s infuriating that I can’t see his face. What’s going on in there?

  We turn around to grab some seats, move towards Sera and Matty who’ve saved us a spot at a round table with four chairs. Dean sits next to Sera, with me on Dean’s other side and Chicken Little in between, whose legs are swinging so fast and hard, he’s hopping in his seat.

  I watch stupidly as Dean leans into Sera, close, holy fuck, kissing close and whispers in her ear. My eyes get big and my mouth drops open. Sera’s looking at the table, an intent look on her face. When she looks up her eyes meet mine, until she focuses intensely on the table again. I don’t know what’s happening.

  All I know is I’m throwing out signals better than a deaf person that I am free and available.

  But nooooo, Dean looks like he wants my best friend. The best friend of mine who couldn’t get a guy if her life depended on it; even if a naked man was standing in front of her – she wouldn’t believe that the hard-on was for her.

  You’d have to be fucking stupid not to see that Dean, the fucking Viking I had dibs on, wants to get in Sera’s pants.

  I’m electrocuted with shock, and can’t get my tongue unglued from my mouth. Absently, I feel my whole purse vibrate, and get my phone out without it going to voicemail.

  It’s my mom.

  Could this day get any worse?

  Chapter 5

  I don’t want to answer the phone. Hell, I don’t need to answer the phone right now. There’s a hot guy sitting next to me, and yeah, while I don’t have his full attention right now, I’m about to. But then, Mom’s just going to keep calling, and calling, and calling…

  I make the hard decision and decide to pick up the phone – not before securing a position far away from the table, wandering through book aisles beside the Starbucks.

  “Hello?” I say, heart thumping hard enough like I ran up a flight of stairs. I really don’t want to be dealing with my mom’s hysterics right now.

  Really really.

  I’d volunteer for a root canal without novocaine, or hey, I’d even sit through a hundred animated movies Sera has put on her bucket-list for us to watch. I’d suffer social ostracization – that might not even be a word – but I’d do it, be a leper to humanity if it meant I could somehow convince my mom to stop calling me to complain about her life – especially after she ruined ours.

  “Cara, how come you don’t answer when I call you?” Welcome to Italian 101 – mothers guilt trip like nobody’s business.

  I grit my teeth, and smile at a cute guy who just passed me by. I don’t turn around and let him look his fill of my ass. Some people just aren’t as considerate.

  “Yeah, Mom, I purposely look down at my Caller ID and ignore your phone calls whenever it’s you.” Busted. “’Cause that makes sense. I’m busy, Mom. All the freaking time. I don’t do it on purpose.” Fuck yeah, I do.

  Mom humphs into the phone with so much drama, it’s like I’ve cut off a limb and she’s lying there bleeding, complaining to me how much it hurts on the phone, instead of calling 9-1-1.


  “Sometimes, I think you do, Katarina. Sometimes, I think you do. You like to blame me for what happened, even after all this time.”

  I inhale a quick breath through my nose and almost end up sneezing. Jesus, this curse of mine won’t even let me be a complete badass bitch without ridiculing me.

  I’m not going to take the bait. I’m so not. I’m going to turn my metaphorical head and look the other freaking way! Averting eye contact and all those passive aggressive tactics that I know how to use so very well when it comes to family.

  “Is there something you wanted?” I ask, blowing hair out of my face. Turning, I look back at Sera and Dean talking with one another, Matty bouncing in the seat, legs swinging. Even though he’s not allowed to have sugar, the kid’s running on some other kind of high.

  Shit, I was right before, Sera and Dean do look like they know each other, like they’ve been the best of pals longer than she and I have.

  Dean’s watching Sera with an intensity I’ve only ever seen in the way that MacLaine looks at her. No man’s ever looked at me like that, like they almost can’t wait to see what comes out of my mouth next, how my face is going to change with whatever emotion I’m feeling. Dean likes Sera, even if he doesn’t know it yet.

  And that fucking p
isses me off. More than I thought it would.

  Then again, she could be telling something utterly and completely crude.

  Yeah, right. This is Sera we’re talking about.

  Some prey you lose in the pursuit of conquest. Bad luck happens to be one of the reasons, which is my middle name. The wind changes, the guy doesn’t take a liking to you right away, and timing is everything. But I’ve never been told no before, never been not even the entertaining of an idea; I’ve never not been a prospect.

  I’m not sure I like being second best.

  “I want you to come to the rehearsal dinner on Friday. Malcolm’s kids will be there, too, and I would love for you to be there as well.”

  Where’s the fucking fallout, ‘cause I’m sure sure my Mom just bombed me right from the fucking sky. For some reason, I feel the throbbing in my half-twisted ankle, worsened by the unnatural angle it’s at due to my fabulous shoes.

  “I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I say, although I’m not too sure how I did it. Maybe I got something funky in my DNA that lets me deal with shit when I don’t want to? Maybe. Maybe I’m just stronger than relegating all my good attributes on fictional reasons and own them instead.

  “It’s actually a really bad idea. We both know I’m not going to keep my mouth shut, and good ol’ Mal is going to take offense and lock himself in a room to sulk and cry fake-ass manly tears. Besides, weren’t you two just going down to the city hall-court-whatever and sign a paper? Why is there a rehearsal dinner all of a sudden?” I’m breathing quicker now, like you do after a heavy make-out session.

  Mom sighs heavy and long, letting me know how very much of a disappointment I am. Well, fuck that. I didn’t ask to be part of that fucked up trio. I won’t play third wheel to my mom’s new husband, especially when I can’t stand the fucker.

  “Why can’t you do this for me? I’m not asking you to cut off your leg and bake it, Katarina! I want you to come and meet Malcolm, formally, and the rest of his family! How is that so bad? Why is that so bad?”

  I blow more hair away from my face, and start twirling it around my finger. Shit, I’m going to tangle the hell out of it.

  “Mom, I don’t want to do this now. I’m out with friends and I don’t want you to ruin my Saturday. I’ll call you later,” I say, having zero intention of doing so. Not dealing with this shit today. Big nope.

  “You’re always out with friends, always working! When is it time for me, Katarina? When do you get to spend time with your mother?” Her voice cracks a little, just a tiny tremor that means Armageddon is about to happen.

  I’ve never seen my mom cry, a proud face, or la brutta figura, has always been important to her. Keeping up appearances is what’s important; believing you’re okay when you’re anything but. I guess that’s why I got so good at it; I had the very best teacher.

  I stare down at my toes, admiring the line of my leg. With them on, I’m almost 5’9” - model-short, but the word model is in there!

  “I don’t have time for this,” I say, only then realizing that my grip around my phone is tight enough to ‘cause some serious electrical malfunctions. “I’m going to call you later. I’ve got to go. Bye, Mom,” I rush out, hanging up on her. I’m going to pay for that – she’ll probably give me the silent treatment until I tell her yes, but that’s not a bad thing.

  Radio-silence from my mom would be absolutely spectacular.

  I walk back to the table my little gang is sitting at, feeling an unfamiliar churn in my belly when Dean laughs at something Sera said. She grins up at him, then looks down at Matty after he’s tugged her shirt and starts whispering in her ear.

  Sera’s taken, she shouldn’t even be able to walk in on another chick’s dibs like that. It goes against all the rules in the universe. I called him - I shotgunned his body for me only, and besides, what the fuck would MacLaine think of this cozy behaviour?

  Shit. I’m being a whiny high school bitch that has nothing better to do with her life. But for some odd reason, I think it’s going to take a while for me to get over Dean, and I don’t know why.

  “What’s so funny?” I ask, settling myself next to Dean, crossing my legs so he can have a nice long look at how great they are as my super skinny jeans hardly leave anything to the imagination.

  Sera turns to me, smiling, showing off her perfect teeth that didn’t need three years of dental-shaping torture. To this day, I’d like to hug every poor kid who’s ever gotten braces.

  “Nothing at all. Sera was telling me some stories from high school,” Dean says, then a look passes between the two of them, and I’m wondering why it sucks so much that I’m not in on the joke.

  I keep that mysterious smile of mine on my face, looking deep into Dean’s eyes, wishing I had some secret magical powers that Sera’s always reading about in those books of hers, so I can have him under my will. Hell, I need some sex really badly, and I’ve never met a guy who objected to it either – especially from me.

  “What kind of stories?”

  Dean drops his eyes from mine, and starts working his brownie out of the brown paper bag the cashier gave him. Guess we’re being un-environmentally friendly. I can roll with that as long as we get to roll each other.

  “Just embarrassing shit from way back when-”

  “No, Matty, don’t-” Sera says, reaching for Matty, who’s tried to scramble on top of his chair, all the while pointing at Dean.

  “Bad word, bad word!” he yells, and several people’s heads swivel to look in our direction. I give them a queenly wave, telling all the mortals without saying anything to get back to their own fucking business – haven’t they seen a kid acting stupid before?

  “What? What did I do?” Dean’s eyes are big again, his eyebrows high on his forehead and he has a piece of brownie sticking to the corner of his mouth.

  I’d bet that would taste sweet.

  His lips have parted, and he swallows hard enough that his Adam’s apple does this intriguing dance in his throat, one where I’ve gone and been mesmerized by the simple movement.

  Wow. I need to fuck somebody soon. I’m losing it. Who the hell gets entranced by somebody’s throat?

  Sera pets Matty’s head and fishes out a quarter from her pocket. Guess she’s realized if the kid is around me, I’m bound to slip up. I swear way too much, mostly because I enjoy it. I love telling people to fuck off in my head, and I love saying it out loud.

  I’ve got a potty mouth, and to some, it sounds like I’m uneducated. I’ve got the college degree in marketing to shut that down real fast. Besides, swearing is good for the soul. Keeping pent up anger inside is bad for you – just watch Anger Management.

  “Matty gets a quarter every time we say a bad word. He likes bubble gum from those machines, which are getting more and more impossible to find, by the way. I’ve lost a fortune to this little guy,” she says, ruffling his hair.

  “Christ, I thought something sh…schnitzel happened. Oh man, I don’t even know what I just said,” Dean huffs out a little laugh, and I find myself smiling along at the sound. “Jeez, kid, you freaked me out.”

  Matty shrugs and holds up his quarter in the air like it’s a gold medal, and he’s the only one on the podium, waiting for thousands and thousands of people to sing the national anthem back to him. This kid – equal parts cute, equal parts arrogant as fuck. I guess we all were, once upon a time.

  “What about you, Katie, you lose a small mountain of gold ‘cause of him?” Dean asks me, stuffing some more brownie into his mouth. Never have I wanted to be a piece of chocolate so bad.

  I flash him a grin, and ignore Sera nodding at me with too much enthusiasm; she looks like a bobblehead. “I got a jar of quarters stashed at my place whenever he comes over. I’m not good at keeping it clean and G-rated.”

  Something flickers over Dean’s green eyes, like the color could have shifted shade a bit, and I know he’s not here with me anymore. He’s gone far back, maybe into some sort of memory that my words tri
ggered. I need him present, I need him here now. How else am I going to give him my number?

  “Thought so,” is all he says, and it’s my turn to frown. I look at Sera who’s chewing on her bottom lip and doing everything she possibly can to not look at me.

  I don’t bristle, but I do school my features. There’s something going on here, some sort of undercurrent I can feel but can’t see. Sera’s in on it, too, and I’m not sure what she has in store for me.

  Doesn’t matter. I’m ovulating and I’m fucking horny. Any dick is a good dick at this point. Plus side, I don’t have to drink a quarter of the Jack bottle to get myself ready to fuck this guy. He’s easy on the eyes, and his muscled thickness has me excited and he hasn’t touched me yet!

  “When’s Hunter done today?” I ask, not sure why. I know the guy works construction, and lately he’s been working overtime, pulling weekend shifts since it’s almost triple time. With winter approaching construction workers are stuck at home twiddling their thumbs and watching money go bye-bye.

  Sera straightens in her chair, and a calm smile spreads across her face. She’s been smiling a lot lately. Before Hunter, she was always thinking, thinking, thinking, stuck in that head of hers, replaying all the bad shit that her parents ever told her.

  After, well, I can tell she’s gotten out of her head a bit, enough that she’s more present in the moment. More in the here and now, and for that I’ll always be grateful to MacLaine. Even if the ‘overtime’ he’s doing on weekends is just another way of saying he’s doing the deed with that skankerella Aly. I’ll castrate him if he is.

  But nothing lasts forever, and that would be a good lesson for Sera to learn. Before she gets it in her head that she wants to marry this guy, and become more of a full-time mom than she already is.

  I should say something, that’s what a good friend would do. Yeah, I’m going to open my mouth about all this shit he’s pulling on her. And hell, she can have Dean if she wants, if it’s going to make her feel better after the truth comes out.

  Just not here. Not with Dean looking all geeky-hot with his stammering and eating a brownie like no guy I know would eat it. Hell, the guys are comfortable enough to devour that kind of food in front of me or Sera, but there’s a sort of shame in it, like they’re supposed to be grown up and not want these kinds of things.

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