Suave and Klutz
He had kissed two of my best friends, and he'd kissed me while he was still in the process of breaking up with an acquaintance of mine. He was probably the biggest flirt I knew. He was funny, sweet, good looking, and definitely charming. While most guys instantly turned me off, something about him always got my attention, no matter how far I should have run from him. I'm pretty sure he knew all of this to be true, and he also knew that I liked him.
Well, actually, he didn't know that he was right about that. He just accused me of liking him in that flirty way of his every time his arms wrapped around me in one of our flirting sprees. He'd hold my hand and comment on how cold I was, and I'd proceed to tell him that cold hearts pumped cold blood, and, therefore, I was cold all the time. But he would always insist that I had a huge heart, full of desire for him.
Oh yes. He was quite full of himself.
But I suppose he had his reasons to be. After all, he had a possessive ex-girlfriend who would murder any girl who looked at him. He had my girl friends to giggle at all of his jokes. He had my guy friends to look up to him, trying to be as charming and flirty as he was. And he had me thinking about him more than I should and wanting him more than I'd ever wanted anyone.
I could see him with one of our good guy friends, Adam, that day at the park. Adam was sitting on a bench, talking, while the two guys passed a basketball. I approached them as casually as I could, hardly daring to breathe for fear of doing it offensively.
Adam waved to me and called out, "Hey, Klutz!"
I smirked and waved back.
He saw me just before I reached him, and that huge grin of his lit up his face. I was seriously in love with the way his perfect eyes sparkled. Tossing the basketball to Adam, he came to my side, enveloping me in a crushing hug that may have been just a wee bit sarcastic.
Sarcasm was one of our things.
"Darling!" he cried out. There was that sarcasm that I was talking about. I rolled my eyes and shoved at his chest, trying to break free of his hold. But anyone who looked at his arms and then mine would see that his were much, much stronger than mine. "What brings you here? Your love for me?"
"You're insane," I scoffed. Realizing I wasn't breaking free, I decided to just enjoy being in his arms. Besides, despite the warm, sunny day, I was as cold as usual, and his body heat warmed me quickly. I vaguely noticed Adam disappearing, leaving us alone. I'd have to subtly thank Adam for that one later. "What's with the affection here, buddy? I thought you were mad at me."
He smiled. There was something truly sexy about that smile, and I never could decide just what it was. It was ridiculously hard not to smile back, but somehow I stood my ground and kept a neutral expression. "Nah. You know I can never stay mad at you, even though you are pretty mean to me."
"Only in retaliation," I insisted, giving him my sweetest smile. I knew he hated it when I said that; it was part of the routine.
Whenever he rolled his sparkly eyes, his tongue always seemed to brush over his lower lip, and just as his tongue slipped back into his mouth, that smile would break out over his face. That's what he did just then. "Come on. I never had to be mean to you until you were mean to me."
"You tripped me in front of everyone," I reminded him flatly, watching while his smile turned into a teasing grin. "And you made everyone laugh about it, and now nobody knows my name anymore because—"
"Because you're a klutz," he laughed, taking the opportune time to nudge my ribs with his fingers.
I squeaked at the tickling sensation and then glared at him. "Don't do that!" I caught his hand just before he started fully tickling me, but he used his hand to pull me closer to him, putting a tight grip around me.
He smelled of his familiar scent, a concoction of soap, shampoo, and deodorant, but I could smell traces of his cologne also. There was no better smell in the world. And there was no better feeling than his arms. Yeah, I was pretty much in heaven.
"You know I love you, Klutz," he said softly. His face was roughly two inches from mine, and I swear that his voice so close to me sent chills all over my body. But I'd kill him if he noticed and said anything about it. He leaned in even closer. I was fairly certain he wanted a kiss. "You still love me too, right?"
Pulling back, I scrunched up my face in displeasure, but he wasn't buying it for a minute. He proceeded to very tenderly kiss my cheek. I couldn't stop my smile, but I sure wanted to stop his knowing smirk. "Yes," I snapped, shoving away from him, but his hold was still too tight to break. "Yes, yes, yes. I still love you. But you're going to suffocate me if you don't let me go."
He shook his head sadly and released me from his arms. Darn. My mouth always ran faster than my common sense. Needless to say, I regretted snapping at him, but I more regretted the fact that now I'd have to apologize, and he'd probably make me admit that I actually liked being in his arms. I hated him.
I opened my mouth to bullcrap an apology, but he suddenly moved to the bench where Adam had been sitting. Without invitation, I followed behind him and sat down next to him. He glanced at me, I looked back at him, and neither of us said a word. We just sat there for several minutes, looking around and then back at each other. I thought I saw him very nearly smile at one point, and I was ready to call him on it, but he spoke before I could.
I scowled. "Hmmm?"
"I'm sorry." I looked at him oddly, and then he continued, his mouth quirking. "It's not that hard for you to say."
There were really only two options for me. One: admit that I was sorry and be sweet to him. Or two: defiantly argue with him. As I previously mentioned, my mouth is sharper than my senses, and I royally proved it by sprouting off at him.
"I don't know why I'm the one who always has to be sorry," I declared, crossing my arms. "It's not always my fault, you know. If you didn't provoke me, I wouldn't have to get mad at you half as often."
Unquestionably, there was a smile playing with his lips. "Is that so?" he murmured, apparently trying to hide his amusement. He inched closer to me on the bench and slipped his arm around my lower back, letting his hand caress my side.
I nearly died.
Meekly, I answered, "Yes."
"I'll be sorry this time then." There was a definite pout on his lips now, and he'd taken on a condescending tone. It was one he used often with me, and it always made me laugh, much to my dismay. "If it'll make you happy, Klutz, I'll take the blame."
Laughing, I took his free hand in mine and smiled up at him. I was actually impressed with my own ability to be pleasant instead of callous. From the surprised expression on his face, I gathered that he was too. But instinctively he began to caress my hand, rubbing warmth into my forever cold skin. "Thank you. You're a giver."
There went my sardonic mouth again, and it caused him to do that thing where he licked his lip and rolled his pretty eyes and made me all but fall at his feet. His tone was still condescending as he declared, "That's how much I love you." Smiling, he brushed his hand against my cheek. "Feel like showing me some love, Klutz?"
I had to laugh at that. "Not particularly," I heard myself answer, even though my mind was screaming that I'd just missed an opportunity to kiss him. I really did love his kisses. As a consolation prize for my psyche, I brushed my lips against his cheek faintly, almost teasingly. "Unless that counts."
"It'll do," he replied, still smiling. Sometimes I hated that smile. Couldn't he have just taken the opportunity to kiss me then? The hand that had brushed my cheek found its way to my hair, which he stroked for a moment as he watched my face. "But you know what I like better."
I groaned and pushed his hand away. This time my mind didn't even argue. I mean, seriously, he was making me feel like his whore now. Maybe Adam and the other Klutz-callers were right about me having serious mood swings, but the negative thoughts about him hit me like a rush. During our first kiss, he'd technically been leading another girl on, and even now I wasn't sure if he'd broken things off with her completely. He'd kissed two of my best friends and brushed them right off, and then there was that situation where—
His strength had kept me pressed against him, and his male ego had given him the notion to kiss me. Well. There wasn't much I could do about that. So I kissed him back for like half a second and jerked away. By standing up, I'd put some distance between us, and now my glare was for real. Nobody jerked this Klutz around.
"All right, Suave, all right." He made a face at my protest, but I kept going. "That was so uncalled for! You can't kiss me when I'm mad at you. It doesn't work that way." Haughtily, I tossed my hair and offered him a mocking smirk. "A real gentleman would ask permission before he kissed me anyway."
"A real gentleman, huh?" Using his athlete's quickness, he was on his feet and resting his hands on my hips before I could move away. "Klutz, we talked about this one. You said yourself that you like a little rebellion, and you know I'm nothing but a rebel, baby."
Crap. He had me there. I slyly slipped an arm around his neck and let my other hand rest on his bicep. Man, his arm muscles were to die for. Grudgingly, I gave him a little nod. "Well…that may be so, but you can piss me off faster than anyone I've ever met in my life."
He simply grinned. "I'm flattered. I've seen you get pissed off at everyone in a room in less than two minutes. To think that I can beat that…I must be good."
"You must be cocky," I countered, though I admired the sparkle that the sun put in his eyes. His grin widened, and I went on, "So from now on, I'm going to be super nice to you, way nicer than you are to me. Then you'll have to be nice to me, and I won't be able to get mad at you anymore. Yes. I'm going to prove my niceness and say that you don't anger me the most at the same time, just to take you down a peg."
Scoffing, he shook his head. "We've had this bet before, Klutz, and yeah, you managed to win, but if we gave it another go, I'd own you." I fondly remembered our bet; it lasted a month. Each time one of us did something mean, we earned a point, and the one with the lower score proved to be nicer. I think the score was thirty-seven versus forty-two. "I only lost that bet because you put duct tape over your mouth."
"That really hurt!" I whined, and we both laughed. With the tension broke, we simply admired each other for a few minutes. It was nice, honestly, to just be in his arms, but a part of me was still dwelling on negativities. "Where did Adam go?"
"I told him to go away." Although he'd replied without hesitation, he must have regretted saying it, for a blush crept into his cheeks. I was very well accustomed to the frequent blush I put on his face, and yet I found it endearing every time—so endearing, in fact, that I forgot my previous negative focus.
"You told him to go away?" I laughed lightly and rolled my eyes. "You know, I happen to be very fond of Adam. Maybe I wanted to talk to him instead of you."
He scoffed. "Uh-huh. That's why you didn't mention him before now and why you're letting me hold you right now." Darn. He had me again. "I'm not that stupid, Klutz. Everybody knows you love me best."
That wasn't entirely true; on my list of favorite people, he may have been in the top ten or even five, but he certainly wasn't my number one. I didn't have to tell him that though. "You're right, of course," I replied sweetly, giving his bicep an affectionate squeeze. "Why would I want anyone else when you're around?"
Surprise flickered into his eyes, but I knew he'd caught the sarcastic inflections in my voice. "You want me so bad." He smiled arrogantly, and I couldn't suppress my desire to roll my eyes grandly. It didn't faze him though, not a bit. "You know you do."
"I enjoy patronizing you," I offered, but he just raised his eyebrows. "Never be too sure that I don't prefer Adam over you. He's a sweet guy."
That got me a smirk from him. "Maybe, but he's not your type." He led me back over to the bench, where we sat down close beside each other. Our arms were touching. "You like challenge, Klutz, and there's no challenge with him. There wouldn't even be a chase."
Okay, now that surprised me. Since when was he so insightful about me? I'd always thought I kept my mind and soul hidden very well. "But Adam's sweet," I insisted, poking his shoulder to make my point. "He never argues with me either."
"And that's exactly why he's not your type." A slight blush was reentering his cheeks, and while I thought about pointing it out, I decided not to. I just admired it instead. If I had to admit it, I'd say that his blush was pretty sweet. "You can't handle niceness all the time, and that's why you like me."
I blinked. Since he already knew me so well, I put down my guard and let him into my mind a little. "Well…you're right in a way. I can't handle niceness all the time, and I do thrive on challenge, but…" He was studying me, so I studied him back, wasting about thirty seconds. "Some people present too much challenge."
"You think so?" His voice was softer than usual, and his face was veering closer to mine. His scent was stronger. There was now nothing on my mind but him. "Never be too sure about that. You're smart, but even you can't always know what's on someone else's mind."
Tipping my head a little, I stared deeply into his eyes, which were probably my favorite of his features, even though he had some awesome forearms too. "I'd know if someone else would tell me." My voice was equally as soft as his, and I saw a smile forming on his lips. It took every ounce of self-restraint that I possessed to keep a sarcastic comment from following.
"Telling would take away the chase, wouldn't it?" he questioned softer, touching my cheek with his fingertips gently. I could barely breathe. "And you like the chase too much for anyone to do that."
He amazingly knew me too well. It was as if he knew how I'd enjoyed flirting with Scott until Scott wanted to start dating. It was as if he knew that my casual fling with Holden was great until Holden wanted to make it official. He'd somehow sensed that I balked from commitment, but he hadn't sensed how I'd commit to him. He was the exception to everything. I was a serious flirt, yes, and I loved it, but with him…it was more than flirting. Despite everything I knew about him, I could see myself being with him willingly and actually enjoying it.
I just couldn't see myself telling him that.
He and I jumped apart and looked in the direction of the voice. The distance we put between us happened so fast that it seemed automatic. I squinted in the sunlight and saw a flock of our friends approaching, baseballs, baseball bats, and baseball gloves in tow. Apparently they were ready for a game. It was, after all, the reason we'd all gathered at the park that day.
The group of about twenty surrounded us, flanking our bench thickly. Their voices were cheerful, and I even heard myself engaging in the conversation. I heard his voice too. Just like nothing had happened, we were teasing our friends and goofing off like we normally did with them. Everything was suddenly normal. Our bodies weren't touching, and my hands were cold again, but things were normal.
I was joking with a few of the guys and a couple of girls, but I could feel the glare I was receiving from his ex-girlfriend, the one who would murder any girl who looked at him. She hated me. But I was only susceptible to her glare for a few minutes, for he was talking to one of my best friends—one of the girls that everyone knew he'd kissed. The ex-girlfriend's glare was then repositioned, and I went on joking with my little group. I felt a hand against mine, and when I looked over, I saw Adam. There was some sympathy in his non-sparkly eyes, though I didn't know exactly why. All I knew was that Adam's clutching hand didn't warm mine like his did. My fingers remained cold, as if stubbornly knowing that Adam's hand wasn't the one I wanted.
Friendly catcalls filled the air that afternoon as we played baseball. He and I had been made team captains, but that was standard, really. Our dominant personalities always put us in charge, no matter what game we were playing. We were always elected team captains, and we always took it in stride. To our group of friends, he and I were opponents, but the ones closest to us, such as Adam, knew that it was our stubborn prides that were opponents. Because of pride, neither of us could admit the truth to each other.
Naturally, since he was our school's baseball star, his team won, thanks to his better coaching and strategies, not to mention his killer homeruns. But I received my own sweet victory when we were leaving the park. After the game, he and I shook hands to show good sportsmanship, and my icy hand instantly responded to the warmth of his.
"Good game, Klutz," he whispered dimly, as if not to draw attention to us.
I smiled faintly. "You too, Suave."
Our hands were still entwined as he smoothly kissed my cheek. I returned his smile sadly, and we broke apart. He mingled with his teammates, and I consoled mine, but within five minutes, all of us had merged back into one big group, making things normal once more.