Never been nerdy, p.7
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       Never Been Nerdy, p.7

           C.M. Kars
 

  Sera pulls in a deep breath, and squeezes Matty close to her. The kid doesn’t seem to mind one bit. “What happened ten years ago, huh? Think back.”

  Thinking it’s some sort of nerd trivia, I answer, “Was it the first episode of Supernatural?”

  Sera shakes her head. I’m getting tired of playing this game. “I give up. Just tell me.”

  “Fine, spoilsport. We were in high school.”

  Oh. “So? What’s that have to do with Dean?” Dean, Dean, Dean…?

  Sera frowns at me. She’s giving me four, and trying to make find the answer by adding a half to three point five, instead of two and two. She’s looking for something specific out of the mundane, I can tell by the way her eyes are wide, imploring me to remember a detail, a certain day…

  I scowl at her. “This shit’s like playing Connect Four without doing any of the connecting.”

  I look up to the ceiling, and send up a quick prayer for patience. “Just tell me. I’m not remembering anything you’re needing me to remember.”

  “Dean? Anything ring a bell with Dean?”

  “How many times do I have to say it, what do Dean and high school have got to do with each other?”

  Sera’s eyes actually well up, and she does this thing that I’ve only ever seen MacLaine do.

  She looks through me, like I’m a ghost, like I’m a veil that’s obscuring her vision. It might be even scarier than Dean’s dangerous voice.

  “What? What’s the matter? What did I do now?” My hand jumps out, and I grab her by the shoulder, squeezing, offering what little comfort I can. “Sera?”

  Delos’ nose has gone bright red, and she mashes her lips together – something she does to keep them from trembling. She leans her head back, something I’ve seen her do a million times to keep the tears back and away from their escape route. How many times, I wonder, did she have to cry to learn that nifty trick?

  She blinks a few times, shakes her head, and rubs one side of her face against her shoulder.

  “Katie, how can you not remember any of the shit you pulled?”

  I shrug. “So, I liked to dress slutty back then. So kill me. Everyone was doing it, and I wanted to show off my ta-tas after the years it took to get them just the right size.” I slump when that look on her face isn’t erased. Shit just got real. “That’s not what you’re talking about, is it?”

  “Nope. Not at all.” Sera pulls in a deep breath that turns into a cough. “Dean’s last name is Carter.”

  Dean Carter. Dean… Carter. Dean? Carter?

  Oh, butt-fuck. No… no, it can’t be. That dude moved away. He said he was moving away after graduation!

  Why in hell don’t people do what they say?

  Who the hell looks like that after ten years? He’s unrecognizable!

  “Yeah, Katie. He’s that Dean. The very one whose life you made a living hell after you destroyed him. Looks like fate has a funny way of throwing you two together, again.”

  “What the hell is that supposed to mean, Delos?”

  Her face is downright woebegone. “Means the bully’s gonna get what’s coming to her.”

  Chapter 7

  Goddamn, motherfucking curse.

  It just takes the cake. Dry spell, dry spell, dry spell – a woman has needs, you know – she sees the perfect candidate for some hot, sweaty sex, but nooooooo my curse has to have gotten in the way.

  This is just great!

  Fate has a weird fucking way of showing up at the most inopportune moments.

  “I don’t believe this.” I rub my hands over my face, growling when I realize I’ve got bits of mascara under my eyes. “I really don’t believe this.”

  Sera whispers something in Matty’s ear, lifts him up and puts him back down on the couch. Matty loses the hands at his ears and grabs hold of the remote, pressing the play button so Chris Evans in all his skinny-kid glory takes up their TV screen.

  I get waved over into the inner sanctum that is Sera and Hunter’s bedroom. I half-expected it to be painted black, have some sort of doom-and-gloom theme because MacLaine can be worse than Darth Vader.

  The only reason why I let him hang around my best friend is because of that time he begged me to meet with her at Alex and Teresa’s engagement party. The guy was almost on his knees and I read something in his face that led me to believe he was going to be good to her. And I’ve never seen her happier, and that’s the only reason why I’ve let this continue.

  Sera waves me over to the bed, and I sit on the very edge of it, legs out in front of me crossed at the ankles.

  MacLaine can draw. It looks to be pencil and maybe some charcoal but the shading is exquisite, and he can capture someone’s emotions with a few lines on paper. I smirk when I see Sera has become his muse.

  “You were really mean to him, K,” Sera says, voice all-matter-of-fact. She could be reciting the Guinness World Book of records instead of helping me relive my stupidest moment.

  I rub my face, not caring of all the black particles landing underneath my eyes. I’ll just look like a raccoon for the rest of the night, ‘cause really, who am I going to impress? Not Dean, and MacLaine is taken and only has eyes for my best friend. Which is the way it should be - I’m not meant for the long haul, I’m not meant for relationships.

  But I hurt Dean, all those years ago, hell, it’s almost ten years now that I was the Queen Biatch in high school, and I had erased that time from my memory. I had forgotten about him.

  Even then, I had an eye for trouble, for trying to exert my control on anyone and anything I could. I studied hard, I did all the extracurriculars - mostly because I didn’t want to go home and hear my parents go at it with the yelling and throwing of plates, and try to bring me in on the arguments. Hell, I was just a kid, you know? My world was black and white and not this shitty grayscale where shadows are everywhere.

  Ugh. When did life get so freaking complicated? And hard?

  “Yeah, trust me, I know. I really know how bad I was. I don’t need to be reminded. Too bad we don’t have a hot tub time machine. Or a DeLorean.”

  I look up for some odd reason, trying to gage Sera’s reaction. I’m not one hundred percent of what’s there – is she disappointed, disgusted with me? Yeah, well, I’ve disappointed half my family because I’m not the one who’s married and popping out grandbabies to not-so-much carry on the family line. Stupid, it’s all just so stupid.

  “He might hate you.”

  “Thanks, Captain Obvious. I hadn’t noticed that. He shot me down like I was a UFO trying to beam up earthlings in front of the Pentagon. It’s a damn shame. He was going to be a bag and tag, and then see you never.”

  Sera shrugs. “Maybe he knows your M.O. Maybe he didn’t want to be another one of your conquests.”

  “They’re not conquests,” I sputter, then shut my mouth. “I’m not looking to add types of dudes on a list and strike them off. I like having sex, and I won’t apologize for it.”

  Sera’s frowns at me. “Did I ever give you that impression? I wish I was more like you, you know. I wish I had more experience; I wish I didn’t care so much.”

  Red flag, red flipping flag!

  “Uh, is there something you wanna talk about, Delos? I’m all ears.” I cup my hands behind my ears and flap ‘em out like Dumbo. She gives me a quick grin but her heart’s not in it.

  Bummer.

  Sera sighs, then shakes her head. There’s something there, and I don’t want to prod too deeply and make the tears come gushing out. I hate it when she cries; it makes me feel so helpless. I can’t control her tear ducts, no matter how many times I swear at them in my head. They don’t listen to me, and I really hate when people and things don’t listen to me.

  Life would be so less aggravating if people just listened to me.

  “I’m good. All I’m saying is if you plan on going after this guy, be good to him. Dean was really sweet to me in high school; he seems like a decent guy now. They’re so many assholes out there, you
know? Why screw with one of the good ones?”

  I cross my arms over my chest, and squint over Sera’s shoulder and see one of Hunter’s sketches of her face. I don’t know why she can’t see it, her own beauty, the way she smiles, the way she makes the room feel a little warmer, the lights a little brighter.

  Well, wasn’t I blind to it, too? Maybe I didn’t do enough, maybe I didn’t tell her often enough how great she is. I just took it for granted that she’d always be a shining light for me, always be there when I needed her.

  Maybe I’m just not that good of a friend to her after all.

  “You okay, Katie? I didn’t mean anything by what I just said. I… I just don’t want to see Dean hurt. He’s super cool, once you get to re-know him, as it were.” Sera scrunches her nose at me. I feel like a grandparent trying to pinch her cheeks.

  Why is it when we find something cute, we need to squeeze it, bite it? Humans are freaking weird.

  “No… No, you’re right.” See? You didn’t burst into flames! “You’re absolutely right about this. I was different back then, I was a lot angrier. I know it isn’t an excuse-”

  Sera reaches for my hand and squeezes it. Ah, fuck. I don’t want to do this. Not now.

  “Listen to me, please,” she says. She squeezes my hand harder with her nerd-strength and I have to look into her face.

  Damn, I feel… hollow, empty. I’m a machine, an automaton, running on fumes. I’m tired all the time, no matter what good food I shovel into my mouth, or how many kilometres I run on the treadmill. I could sleep for years on end and be perfectly happy. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

  “Yeah?”

  Sera’s eyes are big, like she knows whatever she’s going to say is going to hurt worse than soaking a fresh wound in rubbing alcohol. “Your parents were fighting constantly. We were graduating high school, starting cegep in a few months and all that was a huge time of change. We were all scared. We were supposed to decide what programs to go into and we were expected to stick with them, none of this changing program shit that everybody else was doing, remember? You were watching your parents’ marriage fail, Katie, how else were you supposed to feel? Safe, secure and fraking happy?”

  I move to pull away, but she’s holding my hand tight, like she was expecting the move. Clever, Delos. I’m ecstatic that she doesn’t let me go.

  “Whatever happened between you and Dean is none of my business. All I remember was one day you were together, the next day you weren’t, and I didn’t know why. I swear, you’re sick one day in high school, and it seems the whole world falls apart.” She sighs.

  “I’m the stupid one for not asking, for not supporting you through that, either. I was just caught in my own misery and couldn’t look past that, so I’m sorry I’m such a jerk.”

  I pull my head back. She’s just gone and said the stupidest fucking thing. “Delos, are you serious right now? I knew what you were going through, alright? I know all the shit your parents pulled, and how much it hurt you. Why would I hurt you even more with my pain? Why would I do that to you?”

  Sera chews her lips, and looks down at our hands. It’s my turn to give them a squeeze. “We both need to be better, Katie, for each other, for the rest of our lives. We need to listen to each other and support each other better.” She pulls in a breath through her nose and looks up at the ceiling again. Holy hell if those tears make an appearance, I might just start crying, too.

  “Look, you want to hook up with Dean, that’s fine. He’s a dude after all, and really, I have no idea how he had the sheer force of will to deny you. My small mortal mind cannot comprehend it,” she snorts.

  “Yeah, yeah, Sera.” I wave off her pseudo-compliments. “I’m not sure I’m going to see him after tomorrow,” I say, giving myself a determined nod, like giving myself an A-OK on the plan I just came up with is really going to help any.

  “What’s happening tomorrow?”

  “I’m going to go apologize to him tomorrow. The fucking Viking has probably been sitting on his pain for ten years and really can’t move on without my apology and giving me his subsequent forgiveness.”

  Sera blinks at me, nice and slow. “You did not just say that.”

  “Of course I did. It came out my mouth, didn’t it?”

  Sera puts her face in her hands and shakes her head.

  “Dude, of course I’m not going to say that to him tomorrow!”

  Sera splits her fingers open, the better to see me with. “Ugh. I hate your poker face. It defies the laws of physics.”

  “Ha! MacLaine defies the laws of physics.”

  Sera gives me a small smile, settling her hands in her lap. “He does. He really, really does.”

  She doesn’t say anything about the weird little episode we had before. MacLaine and her are having problems? It’s time for me to swoop in and save the day. Only when she’s ready. You can’t save the kitten stuck in a tree if the stupid thing is still on the ground.

  ***

  “How the hell did you find me?” Dean asks. At least he had the decency to buzz me in. The last D. Carter wanted me to do tricks of the sexual variety to let me up to his apartment. Lucky for me, I could tell from the voice it wasn’t my Dean.

  The elevator was taking too long so I decided, against my better judgement, to climb up a hundred and five flights of stairs to get to Dean’s apartment in my Brian Atwood’s. The poor things were not meant for this kind of exercise, I’m sure of it. As for me, my breath is only slightly out of whack, and the warmth at the base of my neck reminds me that my hairline is going to start sweating really soon.

  Before Niagara Falls hits, I decide to get my shit in gear. “Do you remember me?” I ask, frowning. That’s totally not what I wanted to say. I really didn’t need to sprint those stairs. I’m fit enough, there’s no reason to need to prove it to myself over and over again. Damn, I could go for a giant chocolate cookie right now. That seems like an excellent idea.

  “Yeah, you’re the one who hit me with the pony.”

  Typical. Just typical. Now he wants to play games?

  Dean’s pretending not to remember me. Okay, that stings somewhere in my chest cavity, but I’m not going to dwell on it. I’m the one who made your life hell in the eleventh grade, and you gave me your virginity. Remember now?

  God, he’s freaking hot. His big ass shoulders block the whole doorway and his long hair is kinda scrungy looking but I like it. Suddenly, I can’t wait to see him in a suit with his hair like that; the whole juxtaposition might just cause me to go into heat.

  “Roxanne… Her name is Roxanne.”

  Christ above, he crossed his arms over his chest. Oh, he did it on fucking purpose, too. He’s gotta know what’s going on here, the whole spicy salsa vibes that are jumping between us – means sex is going to be uh-mazing!

  For some reason, he keeps frowning at me, and even his crinkly forehead is adorable. It’d probably all I’d see when I’m riding his face. Heat flash; call 9-1-1 ‘cause I am ablaze! I snort at my thoughts, and watch Dean’s eyebrows pop high.

  “Can I come in? So I can do this properly?” I ask, feeling my stomach rumble. Maybe he’ll feed me once I get inside. Food, real food. I can snack on his body later.

  “Fine, come on in.” Dean waves me through into his apartment and the smell hits me, then the noise. Oh my God!

  “As you can see, I’ve got a lot of roommates, so watch where you step. Don’t want them yelping over bruised paws.”

  “What the hell is this? You running a puppy mill in your apartment?”

  Oh, shit. Green ice. Yup, his eyes are green freaking ice, and they’re deadly, and scary and really hot at the same time. I wonder what his eyes would look like when I kiss the shit out of him.

  “Yeah, I’m hoarding female dogs here, and making them breed non-stop because I’m human and I think that gives me a right to treat animals like shit. Yeah, that’s fucking exactly what I’m doing,” he growls. His clenched jaw ticks off the time, and he loo
ks away from me like I’ve gone and made him look at something ugly.

  Well, I’m not here for that. Really, I’m not. I’m here for the good karma. Enough good karma and the bad luck will have to go away. Plus, it’s the right thing to do – apologize to him for being a stupid kid back then. If his forgiveness entails me riding him until we both collapse, well, who am I to argue?

  Dean’s just making it really hard to concentrate. Even sweats look good on him. Bastard has them on low, like I’ve seen MacLaine do. It’s like they’ve been talking and have decided that this one strategic move by hulking males will turn us females into putty.

  I’m still mad that it’s working - flawlessly.

  “How come they’re so quiet?” I ask, marvelling at the three dogs, maybe puppies, since I’m not sure if they’re fully grown yet. Dean has a German Shepherd, a Dalmatian and a Yorkie - all looking at me, all lying down in Dean’s bedroom (I think). They’re tails are wagging super-fast, so much that their bodies shake with the movement.

  “Because I’ve trained them that way. And for being my good boys, you all get a cookie,” Dean pronounces, going over to the kitchen pantry and rifling through for some dog treats. The dogs follow his movement with their dark eyes, and start panting.

  I take a peek at Dean’s place, taking in the huge grey sectional in the living room, the flat screen mounted on the wall, enough of a decent size to watch a UFC fight on, or some NFL.

  And the bookcases. Shit. He’s got four of them stacked side to side along the far wall. I mean, he could’ve put a painting there, or something, but the things are completely overcrowded with paperbacks and hardcovers. Even from this distance, the spines have been cracked many times over; he reads – a lot.

  Oh boy, he’s changed completely, or I never even knew him at all.

  Dean comes into the living room and hands each one a cookie; they all take it carefully from his fingers. I watch them chow-down with what looks like doggy delight. Then Dean looks at me with intense laser focus; the kind that destroys countries and eliminates cataracts.

 
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