Never been nerdy, p.8
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       Never Been Nerdy, p.8

           C.M. Kars
 

  I swallow whatever spit I have left in my mouth, then squaring my shoulders, I get down to business. “I want to apologize.”

  I knew he looked familiar, but the beard, the long hair and the weight gain have completely changed his face. I never would’ve known it was him in a million years.

  Dean shakes his head. “You apologized for that already. My head’s fine, and I’m not dizzy anymore. No harm done. Just watch where you’re going next time.”

  I pull up the sleeves of my jacket, and plant my feet shoulder-width apart. The whole stance screams immovable object while my insides feel like a stack of teetering rocks. Be a grown up. Spell it out for him.

  “I’m not talking about that, Dean.” He keeps frowning at me. Fucking asshole isn’t going to make this easy. I pull in a sharp breath. “I don’t know why you’re playing dumb and making this more difficult than it needs to be. I’m talking about high school.”

  “High school?” he asks, and I’m ready to start throwing shit at his head.

  Why is he being such an asshole now? Well, maybe DiNovro, it has something to do with what you did to him? Maybe he wants to see you work for it?

  Ugh. “Yeah, high school, Dean. When we used to go out. Remember?” My arms flop about and my purse nearly decks him in the shoulder. If he wasn’t so tall, I would’ve beaned him in the kisser. Stop playing dumb. Stop it. Just fucking stop.

  “Jesus Christ, dude, it was ten years ago! Eleventh grade? Am I jogging your memory now?”

  Dean shakes his head, a look of utter puzzlement pasted on his adorable face. This isn’t going well, and my ship is sinking in flames without the possibility of Coast Guard rescue. His shoulders slump forward, and he looks tired, so tired. “I don’t-”

  He’s doing this on purpose, I know he is. Fine. I’m not going to be humiliated.

  “Oh, yeah?” I hiss, and drop my bag. I stomp towards him, eating the distance between us. Those eyebrows of his pop high again as I haul on his shirt and say against his mouth, “How could you forget about this?”

  I kiss him like I’ve only ever kissed him - with everything I have.

  Chapter 8

  His big hands span across my waist, thumbs hitting me under my breastbone. No matter what I do, I can’t hide the steady, driving rhythm of my heart. Dean still affects me, even after all these years.

  Just surrender to it. Let it happen. For once in your life, just let yourself enjoy the moment.

  Just when I realize that his mouth isn’t moving under mine, a hesitant sweep of his tongue makes me shiver. His hands tighten around my waist, ten pulsing stars somehow burning me through my coat, through my sweater and t-shirt, somehow calling to my skin.

  Holy Christ, he’s doing it to me again.

  Ice twists into my heart, throbbing along my veins. Oh God, what am I doing? Why am I doing this with him? La brutta figura – keep your poker face up. Prove your point, and get the hell out of here.

  I rock back down to serious-land, pulling away abruptly. My breathing is nowhere near normal, and when I lick my lips, I get nothing but Dean’s taste, pulling me back, back, back to high school when I was a completely different person. I never want to be that girl again.

  Dean’s mouth glistens, and I watch him lick away my taste. It’s really fucking hot in here, I’m half-ready to start stripping.

  I want Dean, I want him to kiss every inch of me, to nibble me in those places he found out ten years ago drive me wild. I want him to clutch at me because I’m slowly destroying his willpower; I need him to whisper my name as he spills inside of me.

  God, I missed him. I missed him, and I didn’t even know it. I didn’t even know he stayed in town. This has got to be the curse’s fault, too. All my bad luck is catching up with me.

  His wide-as-fuck shoulders make the room hunch down so he’s the focal point. The dogs are long forgotten in the no man’s land that has Dean’s bed in it.

  “You… You can’t do that. You can’t come into my home and use that fucking mouth on me again,” he growls, nostrils flaring.

  Rocket launchers erupt in my brain, and my shoulders start creeping up towards my ears. So that’s how we’re going to play it? Play ball!

  “Yeah, right. I ruined your day by laying one on you. Please,” I wave away his mock-anger. Since when did a guy not like it when a hot female wanted to fool around? “And… it looks like somebody remembers who I am?” I stare down pointedly at the tenting in his sweats, and make sure he sees me licking my lips.

  He’s changed so much. I’ve changed so much. What the hell does that mean?

  Dean doesn’t necessarily look pissed off at himself, but the way his mouth screws up tells me he’s probably verbally abusing himself in his head. He runs a hand through his hair, making it all ruffled and disorderly. He gives the hank of hair an agitated tug and starts rubbing at his eyes.

  “You always did tend to make my blood pressure skyrocket,” he sighs, now pinching the bridge of his nose. Cold, wet noses prod at my naked feet and I jump in my skin. Looking down, three pairs of doggy eyes are staring up at me with nothing but trust and hope and everything in between. “Just come sit on the couch.” He waves his arms in the air, like all of this is completely nuts.

  I watch his big body move towards the kitchen, watch him bang his cupboards closed and glance down to look at the reactions of his dogs. One starts whining, eyes pinned to his head, while the littlest one clearly knows who is the princess here and worships me, going in circles around my ankles. I think I’m going to like him best.

  “What can I get you to drink? I got water, orange juice, cream soda and a couple of left over Heinekens which I don’t recall buying,” he calls out, head and the rest of his body sticking out of the fridge. The damn counter blocks my view of his muscled ass that would be lovingly outlined by his sweats. A girl can’t always get what she wants.

  “You still drink cream soda?” I ask, picking my purse up off the floor, and watching it bounce lightly on the couch cushion. My heels make those womanly sounds against the flooring, and every sound is like a tightening of my will, an extra ounce of power and control. I know what’s going to happen here, and what I came for, I’m going to get.

  Except Dean’s never been a team player and you know it.

  Dean pours me a glass of water from the bottle, frosting up the surface. I watch him painstakingly pour himself the cream soda, putting the stuff up to the brim, waiting for the bubbles to settle.

  “This stuff’s better than coffee. It’s got enough sugar to keep me flying for a solid hour before I need a nap. Not that sugar is in any way a difficulty to get, but you know what I mean,” he says, handing me my chilled glass.

  I gulp down some water, which has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Dean is still on my tongue and I need to get rid of him ASAP.

  He looks at me a second too long, and his cheeks get all pink. The stupid color has some sort of direct link with my vagina, and everything between my legs wakes up and demands attention.

  Jesus Christ, he didn’t even do anything to me!

  I’ve been told I’m a slow burn, but this guy’s completely screwing with my internal temperature. My nipples pebble hard enough that my entire body shivers with the reaction, causing me to teeter on my stilettos and have to compensate by taking a tiny step forward.

  A canine yelp echoes about Dean’s apartment and I feel like a total shit. The little Yorkie looks up at me like I did nothing wrong, like I never even skewered his little paw with my stupid heel, his entire body shaking in tandem with the tail wagging. Black beady eyes look up at me like I’m the greatest person in the world and baby teeth the size of grains of rice peek through his mouth when his pink tongue lolls out.

  I crouch down and let one of my hands cover his body, and get whimpers and shakes, and little licks over every inch of skin that belongs to my hand.

  “Who’s this little dude?” I ask, grateful that I can keep my eyes on another species entirely rather than lo
ok up Dean at this height. Reminds me too much of the first time I was on my knees with him looking down at me. Reminds me too much of what it was like, how easy it was to be with him.

  Suddenly Dean’s in my space, knees cracking as he crouches beside me, one hand tented in front of him. The other two dogs come barreling into his side, jumping on him until Dean falls flat on his ass.

  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so attractive in my life.

  The guys at work are nothing but sleaze-balls with a shiny and expensive veneer in the form of suits, ties, and expensive shoes. I’ve heard the stories about some of them, and I just end up judging the rest with the same brush. The pretty exterior is perfectly coiffed, and impeccably dressed – a representation of what could be, if only you don’t look too closely.

  Dean’s flat on his ass on the ground beside me, in a ratty shirt and rattier sweats, with his three dogs now surrounding him, dishing him love and affection and all he does is laugh and smile and give them bear hugs.

  My breath comes in a painful inhale, somehow crushing my ribs, spearing into my heart. All four heads swings towards me, assessing me. The dogs look away first, content to enjoy the company of their master, while I just watch helplessly and get swept away by memories I thought I had burned away with time and enough denial that they’d never be remembered.

  Dean thumps the German Shepard on his flank, the dog barking in what I hope is happiness, or else Dean’s going to miss a very important part of his anatomy that I’m partial to.

  “Katie, why are you here?” He tilts his head to the side, and his voice has gone soft and quiet. The kind of voice that makes you want to trust whatever that person has to say. The kind of voice that makes you believe in the impossible.

  I lick my lips, and ignore the way his eyes zero in on the movement.

  “I… I wanted to know if you would like to do me a favour…” Fucking shit, it sounds so stupid coming out of my mouth like that. Who lets me make my own decisions? I’m going to kill Sera – she should have kept me locked in her love-nest.

  “Me? Do you a favour?”

  I frown. “You don’t need to emphasize the ‘you’ part so much, alright, Carter? I get it. I’m the last person you wanted to see knocking on your door. Let’s move it along, shall we?”

  Dean gives me a lazy shrug. “You’re the one that came here. You’re also the one who hit me with your car. Seems like I’m not the one owing favours.”

  I lift my hands, palms out. “Just hear me out. I need to make it up to you, what I did, all those years ago.” If my voice sounds stilted and a little unsure, Dean keeps his trap shut about it.

  Good man.

  “You have made it up to me. By forgetting you ever existed for ten years, until I had the unfortunate opportunity to be hit by your car.”

  My head snaps up. “I said I was sorry for that.”

  Dean shakes his head slowly, disbelieving. “I saw what you were doing, Katarina. You were looking in your mirror, and you didn’t even see me.”

  I clench my fists tight enough that my knuckles crack. He did not just go there.

  “Hold the phone, Carter. You telling me you saw me not looking at the road, and you still decided to cross the street? Have you lost more brain cells since the last time I saw you?” I yell, straightening up from my crouch. I love being taller than him, I love making him feel small.

  Dean plants his hands on the floor behind him, leaning his weight back. He looks up at the ceiling either for deliverance or divine intervention. He was an atheist back in high school, but I notice he’s wearing a crucifix around his neck on a delicate gold chain – the kind a woman would wear.

  Oh.

  “Are you with someone?” I ask.

  Dean snorts, and his eyes cut to me. I know what those eyes look like when he’s inside me.

  “Never were one for subtlety. Don’t know why I would think ten years would change that about you.”

  I roll my eyes, cross my arms over my chest, rock my weight onto my left hip. “Still waiting for an answer over here.”

  “What do you care?”

  I sigh. All this has become so exhausting. I just need some good luck in my life – it shouldn’t be this hard to get what I want. It really, really shouldn’t.

  “I kinda want to know because if you’re expecting another girl to come up here, and I’m here, well, I’m not in the business of making another female question if her man is cheating on her. Was that okay enough of an explanation or should I look for easier words to use?”

  It takes two blinks for Dean to stand upright in his rightful place where he completely towers over me. But I know I can mesmerise him into leaning down, down to close the distance between us and drive him wild. I’ve always been able to do that, and I don’t think that’s changed, no matter what his girl situation is.

  I just know where the line is.

  “I would never do that. If you knew me at all, you would never even think that of me. I have more respect for the girl I love than that.”

  Ouch, I’ve been maimed! I grunt like I’ve been hit. ‘The girl he loves’ he said. That used to be you, until you went ahead and fucked it all up.

  I nod slowly, since he is making sense.

  “Shit, Katarina, just tell me what you want from me. My show starts in ten minutes,” he says, looking down at his watch that is definitely not a grown up watch, “and you’re making me nervous. I gotta put the popcorn in the microwave and feed the kids.” Dean taps the face of his watch like the thing’s about to detonate.

  All nerds are the same. They can’t wait to escape reality and get lost in a show. Typical Sera Delos and now Dean Carter behaviour. Why am I surrounded by nerds? How come nobody wants to join me in grown-up land?

  “I go by Katie. Get used to it.”

  Dean’s eyes get frosty again, and I want to kiss him to make that look go away.

  “You’ll always be Katarina to me.”

  I huff out a breath and mafioso glare at him. “Program your number into my phone, Dean, we’re going to be seeing a lot of each other over the next little while.”

  Dean takes a step back, and the dogs move in the space between us, walking into to each other and around us. “Why in hell would I do that?”

  “Because you want to help me out; it’s your good guy nature to want to help a damsel in distress.”

  “You’ve never been in distress, even when you thought you were,” he says with complete conviction. Big bastard believes it, too. My mouth pops open and lets the draft in. “Here, give me your phone. I’m going to do the right thing here, and we’re going to meet up Monday, after you’re done work, and we’re going to get this over with. Against my better judgement, I’m going to let you make it up to me.”

  Shit, I didn’t actually think he was going to want to help me out. My persuasion skills must have hit sociopath status. Go, me?

  He bypasses my phone code – Jesus, is he the next Danny Ocean? And why does that make me hot? After he’s done adding his number into my phone, he hands it back to me hard enough that it smacks my palm. I give him a quick call so he now has my number, too. No excuses.

  “Keep your phone close. I’m gonna text you the coordinates where I wanna meet up.”

  My turn to be surprised. “What? Coordinates? I hate to tell you, G.I. Joe, but I’m definitely not pulling out a map to figure out where the hell I’m going. We’re going to meet up in the city, like normal people, and grab a bite to eat, because food is awesome.”

  I don’t know why he thinks he’s in charge all of a sudden. And I did want to apologize by doing something nice for him. He’s gone and taken all of my plans and tossed a hand grenade at them. Who’s chasing who? Who’s in control?

  “Oh, really? So that’s what’s going to happen, is it?” Dean asks in his soft voice again. His gaze gets more intense, rooting me to my spot which is somewhere in the middle of his living room, glasses still in our hands. Shit, I should just pour my water right over me
, the guy’s got me having quarter-life crisis hot flashes.

  “Bullshit. You can’t wait to see me.”

  Back to reality, I think, Dean. “Yeah, I’m going to be one of those chicks, waiting by their phone for the asshole on the other line to find a precious moment to send me a text. You’re fucking dreaming, Carter. Ten years hasn’t changed much, has it?”

  This is not how you make it up to someone. Shut up!

  We shouldn’t delve too much into our pasts. High school was high school. It should basically be a get out of jail free card. I mean, everyone’s an asshole during those years. There’s nothing anybody can do about it. Except be like me and grovel ten years later so my bad luck can turn around.

  “Ten years is a long time,” Dean practically whispers, backing me, well, backwards. I’m probably going to trip over a dog, and break my tailbone or something, or worse hit a wall so hard my boobs will concave, when his palm snakes behind me and settles where my wings oughtta be.

  “Ten years is a long time to stay the same, and I think you’re the only one guilty of the fact. I know you came here to play me and I know you wanted it to play out like this.”

  Maybe I did. Hell yes, I did!

  Fuck, where did he get this confidence? I’m melting inside, a swirling mass of girly hormones and my eggs are screaming ‘Pick me! Pick me!’

  Dean leans in close, enough that the air he moves out of his way to get close has me twitching like I’m being struck with mini bolts of lightning. The center of my legs throbs, an ache that needs friction and filling and there’s a perfect candidate standing oh-so-close to me.

  He’s going to kiss me. He’s going to kiss me…

  Instead, Dean drops a feather-light kiss on my cheek, and fists my coat at my back, like he could be struggling for control. Yes, lose control!

  “I’m nobody’s chump – not anymore. Might be a good idea for you to remember that.”

  With that, he ushers me out of his place where I’m left standing, staring stupidly at the door.

 
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