Stupid AN: Buddy book dot com is written that way because deletes anything that looks relatively like a URL. Also, page breaks will not work.


The Way to a Man's Heart is Clearly Food Analogies

By Devonny Auriel



"I'm telling you," she said, "he's really hot. I mean, like, smoking hot. Not that he smokes or anything, 'cause he's not that type of guy—"

"So you know what type of guy he is from that brief, oh, ten seconds you talked?" I asked.

Cait rolled her eyes. Apparently ten seconds was enough time to know every detail of the "major hottie" she met in Economics. Excuse me if I don't sound thrilled at the idea of Cait finding the biggest wonder-boy since Robert Redford, (Who was – I may say – the best catch of the 60's) but every day she comes into class rattling on about this new guy she met. And every time, every time, she tells me to look him up on buddy book dot com.

"What happened to Mi-chel?" I asked, adding an accent onto his name.

She wrinkled her nose. "Ugh. He told Melissa that he doesn't like black girls. Can you believe that jerk?"

"No way!" I poked her skin. "If I was a guy I'd stare at you all day. When I squint my eyes you look like a fudgesickle." Cait stared at me like I was crazy. I tried to defend myself. "That's a good thing! It makes me want to lick you all over—"

She slapped her hand over my mouth, effectively silencing me. "Sometimes, Belle, I wonder if you realize what comes out of your mouth."

"I can't help it," I shrugged, pushing away her hand. "I really like fudgesickles."

Cait gave me one last look before rolling her eyes. "Anyway. This one is different. I can feel it. Not only is he super smart, but he's super classy. He always comes into class with a suit on. A suit!"

Hip hip hurrah. Someone better tie me to my seat because I'm about to jump for joy. Not. A suit? Really? I don't know why girls find them so attractive. Unless the guy's a six-foot five, muscle clad Don Juan, he just ends up looking like a little boy trying on Daddy's clothes. I much prefer my guy to be wearing a black t-shirt.

Well . . . I would if I had a guy.

The teacher stopped our discussion from going any further by silencing the class. Cait turned to me, grabbing the pen near by and lowering her voice.

"Here." She popped off the cap of her pen and grabbed my hand. "When you get back to your dorm, look him up online. I swear to Aphrodite, who knows beauty, that you'll be swooning too."

Before I could tell her to write his name on something that wouldn't potentially kill me by leaking toxins into my skin, she scribbled his name down. I stared at the pink ink, imagining it sinking down under my skin and into my blood stream. Any minute now I'd have pink ink rushing through my body. I'd be leaking poison. I wonder if my pee would be pink…

"Look him up!" Cait insisted.

I told her I would but I had no intention of doing so. First, there's no point. Even if he is a major hottie, what does that do for me? It's not like I would ever score a handsome guy with my less-than-stellar looks. When Cait and I stand next to each other it's like looking at a woman and a child. She has all the right curves in all the right places, and I have grapes for boobs.

(I also come up with terrible analogies often relating to food. And guys love analogies. So see? There you go. I'm screwed.)

So unless a guy was really into pre-pubescent boys then I won't be getting his phone number.

And second of all Cait claimed him. I really don't want to become enamored with a guy when I know Cait has first dibs on him. Wouldn't it be the most awkward thing if she was like, "Oh, hey Belle, don't you think he's hot?" and I go, "Oh yeah, totally. His buns are like fajitas straight from the kitchen. Smoking hot!"

The answer is yes. Yes it would be incredibly awkward. And I just told Cait I wanted to lick her all over, so I think I filled my awkward quota for the day.

The rest of class passed by uneventfully. I kept looking out the window, eying the beautiful weather. It was not often when the sun comes out in Seattle and I was anxious to soak it up.

Finally the bell rang. I shot out of my seat and waved goodbye to Cait. She yelled after me, something about a party, but I held up my hand up to my ear and signaled for her to call me.

My university campus is terrible in the winter, but wonderful in the Spring. Some idiot decided to make everything outdoors. (In the rainy capital of the world) Tables, benches, food-stands, you name it. We even had a few outdoor classrooms. (Granted, those were for the science classes, and the geology majors love it, but they ruined my winter coat. Thus construction equals stupid.)

Normally I curse their existence, but not today. In the blissful weather I was going to lay out on the row of benches and eat my lunch.

Unfortunately it seemed that every other student had the same idea as I did. Almost every bench was full, with the exception of one at the end. There was a guy sitting on it reading a book. I debated going to the cafeteria to eat, just to avoid the potential small talk, but the guy was immersed in his book. I doubted he would want to discuss the weather and what classes I was taking.

I sat down on the bench, as far away from him as possible. He didn't even look up at me. Perfect.

I grabbed my lunch out of my bag. The name Cait wrote on my hand gleamed up at me. I'd forgotten about it. I licked my thumb and pressed it against the name, trying to rub it away. My attempts went unsuccessful, and Andrei Rodygina still owned my hand.

Permanent ink. Curses. I was starting a new job today, and some how I didn't think they'd be fond of my doodling. I groaned.

My noise alerted the man next to me of my presence. He looked up, a bit startled, as if he never noticed I sat down. I threw my arms into the air and shrugged. His eyes moved towards my hand before narrowing to his nose.

"Why is my name written on your hand?" He asked.

I glared at him. "Uh, it's not."

What a cocky asshole. Why would I have a random stranger's name on my hand? First of all, that's just creepy, and second, I would never write on my hand. It's unprofessional and disgusting. I mean, do I have to go through this all over again? Leaking toxins. Poison. Pink pee!

He reached out his arm and pointed to the top of my hand. "Right there. It says Andrei Rodygina."

I blanched. Ah shoot.

"No," I said, trying to save face. "I don't know what you're talking about."

He looked over his shoulder, as if he was hoping to lock eyes with someone and say "This girl is cuh-raz-ey!" The nearest bench of girls did not return his sentiments, however. The blond one tossed her hair and winked at him.

"She totally thinks you're checking her out," I said.

The guy, Andrei, apparently, turned back to me and sent me a dirty look. Realizing that I wasn't going to get myself out of the situation scotch free by simply denying the existence of the name, I switched tactics.

"Perhaps you have caught me pink handed. It's true. I do have that name written on my hand." I stuck my finger forward, barely jabbing it into his shoulder. "But how do I know you're Andrei Rodygina?"

He looked dumb-founded.

"I rest my case," I slid back a few inches and folded my arms.

"Do you want me to get my ID out?" He stuck his hand into his back pocket and pulled out an old, leather wallet. "Look! It says right there. Andrei Rodygina. That's my picture next to it."

I rolled my eyes. Can't this guy take a hint? Obviously I didn't know who he was, so was it that important to figure out why I had his name on my hand? Plus, what was I supposed to say? My best friend said you were a total hottie and I should look you up online? Uh, no thanks.

I decided to stay mum and ignore him completely. I didn't need to explain myself to a stranger.

Andrei leaned in closer. "You're a stalker, aren't you?"

Okay, so maybe I should have said something.

"No!" I gasped. Stupid Cait and her wandering eyes. "It's not my fault that you're good looking!"

His eye twitched. It took me a moment to realize what my statement implied.

"Oh, no, it's not that I think you're good looking," I explained. He looked offended. "Not that you aren't. I mean, you have very nice Russian-eyes. And I like your nose. Although it does look like you've gotten into a fight recently. Someone break your nose?"

Andrei stood up and ran his hand through his hair. "Okay, forget it. I'm done with this conversation. Find someone else to stalk, because I'm not into that sort of thing."

"Well sor–ry," I mused. "Oh! Shoot! I'm not stalking you!"

"Whatever," I pulled his book bag over his shoulder.


He ignored me for the most part. When he had walked about five feet away he suddenly paused. I thought maybe he would apologize for being a glass of buttermilk after you've brushed your teeth (Sour. Get it? Hah hah.) but I wasn't so lucky.

"It's not good to write on your hand," he said over his shoulder. "The ink can be poisonous."

"I know!" I shouted. God, did I ever know!

Andrei practically ran off. I didn't notice he was wearing a suit until his coat tails were flapping up and down with each step he took.

"Cait has bad taste," I muttered. "Who wears a suit in this day and age? That was so 1960's."

I jumped in my seat when my butt began to vibrate. Or, should I say, my cell phone in my back pocket was vibrating. I pulled it out and flipped the screen open. I was hoping for a text message, or perhaps even a call from my mom, but it was merely an alarm I set for myself. The words, "Work" flashed across the screen. I shut the alarm off (Not before bobbing to a few beats of ABBA.God, they're catchy.) and packed up my things.

As I walked up the huge hill to my dorm my mind slipped to my new job. I was working as a secretary in this small law office. I'd never have gotten the job if not for the fact my uncle was the head lawyer. The paralegal assistants would handle all the difficult filing, most likely I would be given the jobs such as making coffee or writing news letters about the company picnic. But hey, it paid twenty dollars an hour. I'd eat coffee grounds for that much money.

My uncle specifically told me to dress nice. No jeans, all my clothes had to be ironed, and my hair needed to be put up. I tried explaining to him that there was little I could do with my – dare I say spunky – short hair besides pull my bangs to the side with a clip, but he told me to just deal with it.

My uncle is my mother's brother, which makes him a traditional Filipino. Like my mother, he doesn't like my unique clothing and home-cut hairstyles. The first time he saw me after I came home from college he nearly dropped his chicken adobo when he saw my faux-hawk. My mother had long-since given up on me being her typical Filipino-daughter, blaming my dad and his German heritage.

It was a little frustrating to have your relatives mourn your existence, however, and I've kept my hair and outfits at a relatively sane level since then. Still, the fact that my hair was cut short in the back yet longer in the front puzzled him.

Speaking of the devil…

"'ello?" I answered.

"Where are you?" A shrill voice from my phone asked.

"In my dorm, why?" I tossed my bag onto my bed and grabbed a banana from the shelf. Ah. Potassium at its finest.

"You were supposed to be here five minutes ago!" My uncle said.

I looked at the clock on the microwave. According to it, and the time on my cell phone, I still had an hour to get to work.

"Uncle, please tell me this is not another situation where you change times on me and expect me to be able to read your mind and find out by myself, right?" I turned the phone on speaker and set it on the desk.

As I pulled on my shirt and started changing into my work-outfit he yelled into the phone.

"I sent you an email three hours ago that you needed to come early!"

I mussed up my bangs, trying to get the curl on my bangs to look at bit more in tact, then grabbed for the cherry Chapstick in my purse.

My voice was a little muffled as I smeared the Chapstick on my lips and tried to talk at the same time. "I'm in classes from nine to two. It's two-ten right now. How on earth could I have seen that message in time to be at work an hour early?"

"Just get here!"

I heard a small click, then the light on my cell phone died. He'd hung up on me. Stupid bastard.

Never less I didn't want to be too late on my first day of work, so I quickly grabbed a grey vest from my closest and slipped into my black stilettos. Those babies took me from five foot to five foot four. Hurt like hell, but I was that much more intimidating. I was out of the door a split second later, purse and banana in hand.



"There you are!"

Right as I opened the door to the law office my uncle bombarded me. He grabbed onto my arm and dragged me over to a small desk.

"This is where you work," he snapped. "Answer the phones, page them through to me. Unless I don't want to speak to them! Or if it's your mom."

We both laughed at his last statement before getting serious. "How do I know who you do and don't want to talk to."

"Intuition," he said simply. "Now go get me a coffee from downstairs. Black. No sugar."

He sped off before I could ask any more questions. Either he was incredibly busy, or he just didn't want to talk me. It was irritating, but I didn't really feel like chit-chatting with him. Plus, any dire questions I needed to ask I planned on sending straight to the mystery-hot-guy.

Have I forgot to mention this sweet perfection? Silly me. He's only the hottest thing since sliced bread.

Supposedly, at least.

I have yet to meet him, but my instinct says he's gorgeous. For one, Anita, my uncle's para-legal, said to me on my interview that if she were twenty years younger, she'd totally try to get with him. But even better, when my uncle heard her suggest I go for him, he blew up and said I wasn't allowed to go near the poor boy.

Thus, he is obviously hot.

I tried to come up with questions to ask him as I walked downstairs to get coffee. I could ask him how to transfer phone calls, or how to put callers on hold…oh! Or even better, I'll ask him what kind of candy he likes. Then I'll put it out on my desk in attempts to lure him in. Hopefully it was jelly beans. I carry around a small bag in my purse. The flirting could commence today, even.

The coffee stand was stationed in the middle of the building. My uncle wasn't the only attorney stationed here, there were at least five different lawyers, plus a budding amount of therapists, and to save money they all decided to pool their money and get a communal espresso stand.

I was reaching for a mug when my hand bumped into someone else's. They immediately groaned.

"I don't write on my hand often," I began, knowing it was going to be some old geezer criticizing me for my note-taking.

"How about stalking? You do that often? Because you seem quite good at it."

That sparked my interest. My eyes shot up, at least eight inches, and centered on my arch nemesis. Andrei. What was he doing here?

"What are you doing here?" I asked.

He gestured to his outfit. "What does it look like? I work here. What are you doing here? Did you follow me all the way here from school?"

"Don't be so cocky," I slammed the mug under the machine and pressed the power on. After a heavy rumble, the espresso machine let out a shrill and puffed to life. "You're not the only one who works here you know."

"Then who do you work for?" He asked.

"Marciel Cabiles," I snapped.

Andrei's eyes narrowed further. "That proves it, you are a stalker."

"That proves nothing!"

"It proves everything, because Mr. Cabiles is my boss," he watched as I plopped two sugar cubes into the coffee. "And see! If you were really getting his coffee you'd know he doesn't like sugar in it."

"You're such a dumbass," I chided. "If you'd pull your head out of your ass for one second, you'd realize that not everyone on earth is in love with you. My name is Belle Cabiles. Sound familiar?"

"Mr. Cabiles doesn't have any children," Andrei said.

"No duh," I pulled another mug out and filled it with more coffee. "I'm his niece. My mom is his sister."

"Then you wouldn't have the same last name—"

"And poor me, my father ran out on my mom when she was pregnant, so it seemed pointless to tack on his last name when we have no connection at all," I finished.

Andrei fell silent for a second. I thought I had finally beaten him, perhaps only by pulling the angst-card, but he said, "You are still making his coffee wrong."

I smiled smugly. "Wrong again. Even though my uncle asks for no sugar, he really wants sugar. That's why he keeps packets of it in his desk drawers. He wants to seem tough by drinking it straight, but he can't stand the stuff. I make his job just a little bit easier for him."

I couldn't tell whether or not Andrei believed me because I turned on his heels and walked off. I told myself I didn't care, but there was that nagging voice inside my chest that wanted me to follow him until he admitted he believed what I said. But, alas, I was currently trying to convince him that I wasn't in love with him, and stalking him might not help.

So instead I muttered under my breath the entire way back to the office about men and how ridiculous they look in suits. The latter part was overheard by Andrei when I sat down in my chair. He looked up from his desk (Which was in plain sight of mine, unfortunately.) and sent me a dirty look.

I tried to soften the blow. "I have candy."

"That only works with little children," he said sourly.

"So you should be naively running towards me," I grabbed the tin can of jelly beans from my purse and shook it. "Mmm. Hear that? It's the sound of heaven."

"There's only one candy I like, so unless you that's it, then I'm not interested," he said. He was shuffling through his desk, looking for something.

"What's your favorite, then?" I asked. It gave me a flashback to my earlier day dreams. This situation had reversed itself. Before I wanted to know the mysterious hot-guy's favorite candy in an attempt to attract him to me like bees to honey. Now I wanted to know only so I could avoid supplying the sugar concoction at all costs.

Andrei looked up from his desk for a split second. "Jelly beans."

"Dammit!" I slammed the can down on my desk.

Andrei straightened up in his seat, alarmed. My uncle opened his door and poked his head out, glaring at me.

"Jezebelle! What did I just hear you say?" He growled.

I fiddled with my fingers, feigning innocence. I eyed the cup of coffee sitting on the edge of my desk and grabbed it.

"I said…the dam of coffee has been broken. Rejoice! You can be supplied with caffeinated goodness again," I brought the mug over to him and batted my eyelashes.

Uncle looked suspicious, but with the smell of coffee wafting into his nostrils he must have decided my potty mouth was not an issue of the day to tackle. He snatched the mug out of my hand and disappeared into his office once again.

I was walking back to my desk with Andrei turned around in his chair, staring at me with an incredulous expression.

"Your name is Jezebelle?" He paused. "Like the whore of Babylon?"

Oh. Wow. Like I've never heard that one before. Luckily I have gotten used to this witty tidbit being brought up, and found an amusing way to counter it.

"Mmhmm." I held my hands out, gesturing at my body. "Want a shot at me?"

It wasn't until I saw his jaw drop open that I remembered our predicament. Ah. Right. Perhaps offering sexual intercourse to the guy who thinks you are stalking him may not be the wisest of ideas.

"Oh. Oh God. No. I'm just – I mean – uhh—" I began to spatter off nonsense. Andrei turned around and started walking towards the back room. I yelled after him. "I was kidding!"

He waved his hand before slapping it over his eyes. I chose to be dense and not understand what that meant, although I had a feeling it meant he thought I was crazy.

I flopped into my chair and spun it around several times. When that got old I pushed on a lever below the seat, satisfied to find out it controlled how high or low my chair could go. I raised it up several inches, glad to be able to see the entire computer screen.

While I was playing solitaire I felt my desk vibrate. Grabbing my cell phone from the counter next to me, I flipped it open and read the new text message. It was from Cait.

Party tonight at my place. Please come. I want to hear about work.

I snorted and muttered, "I bet she just wants me to bring booze." The curse of being the first of your friends to turn twenty-one.

I wouldn't be bringing her any alcohol, but I figured I could go to the party. There's nothing I love more than drunk people, I fit in well with them. Not that I'm consistently drunk, but because I'm frequently told to "lighten up on the booze" when I'm perfectly sober. People these days. You can't dance to Cindi Lauper in long underwear without everyone assuming you're wasted.

The rest of the day passed slowly. Andrei eventually came out of the back room but he almost completely ignored me the remainder of the day. When there was only an hour left of my shift I walked over to his desk and touched his shoulder.

"Oh, gosh," I hissed.

He turned slowly towards me, as if he was expecting the worst. "What?"

"Man, your shoulder is cold," I touched it again and chattered my teeth. "Brr. It's like pulling out a freezer-burned microwave pizza."

Andrei's mouth dropped open. "Are you insinuating I'm giving you the cold shoulder? With a pizza analogy?"

"Would you have preferred TV dinners?" I asked innocently.

The corner of his lips twitched. A peculiar feeling bubbled in my chest. It had almost been eight hours since I first ran into Andrei, and not once had I seen him smile. Well, that's not exactly true. I was watching him a little earlier, while he was scanning the internet, and I saw him smile. (Probably porn.)

But this was the first time I had made him smile. (Or at least made him have to try hard not to smile.) I couldn't tell whether it was a sense of accomplishment, or the dimple that appeared on his cheek that made me excited.

"What are you grinning about?" Andrei asked.

I blanched. "Porn."

Damn it.

"Not me looking at porn," I quickly amended.

He scratched the side of his head, "Do you think about other people looking at porn frequently?"

"No, no, just—" I quickly bit my tongue. I waved my finger in front of his face and squinted at him. "Oh no. No, no. I'm not going to talk myself into an awkward situation again."

"You scare me," he said without missing a beat. "Your brain. And your mouth. They don't function correctly, do they?"

I leaned on his desk with one hand and looked towards the ceiling. "Maybe I was dropped as a baby?"

Andrei stood up from his desk and patted my back. "Yeah. Let's hope so."

A small tingle went down my back. I wiggled, trying to rid myself of the sensation. True to form, it took me a split second to realize I probably looked ridiculous doing this. God must have pitied me, however, because Andrei had turned around and missed my small seizure.



"Bye Uncle!" I snatched my coat off the back of my chair. "I'll see you tomorrow!"

My uncle popped his head out of his office. "Aren't you coming to dinner tonight?"

I slipped my arm through my coat and frowned apologetically at him. "No, sorry. I know it's Family-Friday but I can't make it this time. Next week."

"Next week we won't be serving any lumpia," he muttered, slamming the door.

"What's lumpia?" A deep voice asked behind me.

I turned around and jumped an inch. Andrei was closer than I anticipative, and despite knowing he was a perfectly safe guy, it was still intimidating for a tall, dark-featured man dressed up in a Russian-mafia coat to be leering over you.

"O-only the best food in the entire world," I said. "They're like egg rolls. Except Filipino."

"Is that what you are?" He opened the door and held it for me. When I didn't move he sent me a dirty look.

"Yes," I squeaked, scampering through the door. "Well, half at least. And you're Russian."

Her mouth was set into a firm line. "No."

I stared at him suspiciously. "No? No offense, but your eyes and nose give you away. They're distinctly Russian."

"Or distinctly Ukrainian," he muttered.

"Ah…" I suddenly felt very awkward. Way to look ignorant, Belle.

"Don't worry about it," he shifted his bag over his shoulder. "It's hard to tell unless you know the languages."

"Do you speak Ukranian?" I asked.

Andrei paused. "Er…No."

I rolled my eyes.

"I mean, I speak a little. Enough to get by. But I can't read or write it." He suddenly lowered his voice and put on an accent. "But aye do 'ave good ahk-cent."

I laughed. "That is a nice accent. Sounds authentic."

"I know, right?" He grinned. I noticed a dimple on his left cheek, but not his right. "It's from church. Everyone there has an accent. I think I'm the only one born in America."

I couldn't think of anything witty, intelligent, or even weird to respond with, so I said nothing. Andrei kicked a stone on the ground and laughed.

"Sorry. No one takes interest in heritage these days. I always think of interesting things to say if prompted, and I figure I'll only say one phrase at a time, but no one asks. So the first time someone does, I say it all," he said.

I stuffed my hands in my pockets. "No, it's cool. Most people know nothing about where they come from. It's always interesting to hear stories. All I can talk about is food."

He scoffed. "All you ever talk about his food."

"That's true." I grinned. "Are we having a normal conversation?"

"Don't worry, you'll ruin it soon enough," he said dryly.

We walked and talked for fifteen minutes before I realized we were both going in the same direction. Normally this wouldn't be peculiar if I was going back to my dorm, as I knew he attended the same college as me, but we were going in the opposite direction. I opted to go straight from work to Cait's party, and her apartment was several miles off campus.

Andrei must have noticed this as well, because he stopped in his tracks.

"Do you live this way?" He asked.

I shook my head. "Not even close."

A strange look covered his face. It wasn't quite suspicion, more like he was suddenly had an epiphany he wasn't too happy about. When he opened his lips to speak I held up my hand, knowing what was coming.

"I am not following you!" I shouted.

"I never said you were," he pointed out.

"But you were going to."

He pushed his hair out of his eyes. "Then where are you going?"

"A party."

"But I'm going to a party," he said.

I placed my hands on my hips. "Are you honestly insinuating that I could not be invited to a party, let alone the same party you are going to?"

He looked me up and down. Any other day I would have loved for a good looking guy to check me out head to toe, but Andrei made it an exception. Instead of looking at me with a small quirk of his lips or saying "Oh baby you look fine!" he set his eyes into a firm glare and examined me as if I were a defective toy.

"That doesn't seem like a party outfit," he commented.

I looked down at myself. I thought it was a cute outfit. A grey pencil skirt that sat high at the waist and cut off at my knees, with a basic white work shirt under a dark black vest. Not to mention my awesome stiletto shoes that cost me an entire paycheck.

"It's not cut down to here," he stuck his finger out and pointed to a spot a few inches below my chest. "And that skirt is about one foot too long."

"Not everyone dresses like a total skank to parties, Andrei," I snapped. "Plus. Look what you're wearing. A suit. That's hardly party-attire either."

"I have a change of clothes in my bag," he said. To prove his point he reached into it and pulled out a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. "See?"

I squinted and leaned in towards him. "Is that a black t-shirt?"

"Yeah, why?"

I looked up at him. First his favorite candy is jelly beans, now he wears black t-shirts? What we he doing, trying to be my perfect man?

I stepped back, my eyes narrowed. "I'm watching you."

He looked bewildered. "Excuse me?"

"I know what you're doing, and I don't like it," I wagged my finger. "I don't like it one bit."

Andrei threw his hands up into the air and walked past me. I strongly debated yelling, "Yeah, you best walk away!" but for once in my life I kept my mouth shut. I patted myself on the back before racing up to catch him.

"How do you know Cait?" I asked.

Andrei looked confused. "Who?"

"Oh my God," I rolled my eyes. "You don't even know the name of the girl's party you're attending?"

"Oh you mean Caitlin." He pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket. I peaked over his shoulder and read it. Written on it was an apartment number. "I have a class with her. I don't know her that well. You?"

"She's my best friend," I answered. "And you're lucky I'm with you, because that's not her apartment number. It's 3B, not 3C."

He crinkled the paper up and threw it at my head. It bounced off the middle of my forehead and landed on the ground. How dare he! Paper is only biodegradable in factories, not on the streets!

Andrei noticed the horrified look on my face and reluctantly picked it up.

"I wouldn't have minded if I missed it, to tell you the truth," we were nearing her apartment building now. "I'm not really a party-guy."

That didn't really surprise me. I don't look at Andrei and see a guy who would be an avid beer pong player. Something about him seemed a bit more…sophisticated.

I decided to tell him that.

"You look like the type of guy who would go to dinner parties held by a friend. Not the kind where there's a big pot of spaghetti and everyone eats and does tequila shots off of the French bread—"

"Who does that? I've never heard of anyone doing that. You can't even do that, it would soak into the bread!" Andrei interrupted.

I ignored him. "I mean the type of party where everyone dresses in suits and sips champagne and discusses politics. And you eat shrimp cocktails and rant about Republicans."

"You think I'm a political guy?" He looked amused.

I scratched the back of my head. Despite the smirk on his face, I suddenly felt very awkward. "Well, you look smart…and you wear a suit to school. A lot. So I've heard. Not witnessed!"

"Uh huh." Andrei changed directions and ducked behind the back of an apartment. "I only wear it when I don't have time to change before heading to work. You know your uncle. He's stingy on dress code."

I rubbed my arms, trying to warm them up. "So you're not political then?"

Andrei began unbuttoning his jacket. "Not particularly. I'd much rather watch a movie then a presidential debate, to be honest."

"Same here," I admitted.

Andrei grunted in response, pushing his jacket into his bag. I was going to ask him what movies he was into, when he began unbuttoning his shirt. My eyes felt like they were bulging completely out of their sockets.

"What are you doing?" I hissed.

He looked around. "Changing?"

I tried to avoid looking at his bare stomach when he pulled the shirt off. Perhaps if I he had said he liked jolly ranchers, not jelly beans, I might have been able to resist, but I kept imagining the cherry-flavored candy beans rolling off his stomach, and then I just had to see if they would get trapped in a massive six pack or if they would fly straight down like kids on a slide.

They wouldn't get stuck. Not to say that he was scrawny. Andrei did have some muscle definition. But nothing like the models you see in raunchy magazines.

I slammed my face into the side of the apartment and groaned.

"What?" Andrei asked, his voice muffled by what I can only pray was his shirt going over his face.

"Nothing! Nothing at all!"

Truth be told, Andrei had once again placed himself on my "Ideal Man" list. For some reason or another, I have never been a fan of muscles. I know every normal girl should find herself drooling over a six pack and ripped biceps, but I'm just not one of them. I love tall and lanky.

I turned from the wall and gasped.

"Andrei! What the hell!"

He stepped back, confused. "What?"

"Why are you wearing different pants?" I shrieked.

Andrei looked down at his jeans. "I changed? You weren't looking. I seized the opportunity."

"What if I had turned around? What if I had seen your…your…" I began to sputter, just thinking about it.

"My, my, my…my what? You think I go commando or something?" He shoved the rest of his clothes into his bag and swung it over his shoulder. "You would have only caught a glimpse of boxers."

He brushed past me and starting walking towards the stairs. I chased after him.

"You just stripped in front of me," I said. "Don't you feel dirty?"

"You should feel worse for staring," he muttered, walking up the stairs.

I gaped. "I did not!"

"You even drooled."

Oh what a liar!

"I admit I might have stared for one quick second, any normal person would do that out of shock. But I certainly did not drool!" I yelled.

Andrei abruptly turned around, surprising me. I stumbled back, slipping on the stairs. He grabbed my wrist firmly.

"Relax Jezebelle. I'm kidding." He patted my cheek.

I face grew warm and I wasn't sure why. All he did was pat my cheek.

"Everyone calls me Belle," I said as we reached the top of the stairs.

"I like Jezebelle," Andrei said.

"Belle." To convince him even further I reached out and pressed the doorbell. "Like this. See? Bell. Belle."

"I like imagining you as a whore better," he said, winking.

My mouth dropped open. I couldn't help it. I probably looked un-lady like, and I'm sure it wasn't attractive, but still.

"I can't tell if that was a compliment or an insult," I said. "Or you trying to show me that I'm not the only one who says crazy things."

"It was me—" before he could finish the door opened.

"Andrei!" Cait's face lit up into a big smile. Her eyes flicked over to me and her expression morphed from happiness to confusion. "And…Belle?"

Huh. Why did she look so blue? And why did she keep looking back and forth between us – ohh my god that's right!

I had completely forgotten about Cait's crush on Andrei. The only reason I was talking to him this much was because she wrote his name on my hand. I felt like a horrible friend. Here I was, thinking about how he fit my perfect man list, when my best friend was thinking the same thing. I pressed my hand to my heart, surprised that it suddenly felt very heavy.

"Oh, we work—"

I interrupted Andrei quickly. "We arrived at the same time. I take it this is your friend you were telling me about?" I held up the back of my hand.

"Yeah, this is him. Andrei, this is my best friend Belle. Belle, meet Andrei," Cait introduced us with the appropriate hand motions.

Andrei looked completely confused. "No, it's okay—"

"Nice to meet you Andrei," I grabbed his hand and shook it forcefully. "If you'll excuse me, I need to freshen up."

I darted through the door before he could ask anymore questions. I made a bee-line for the bathroom, fully intending on telling the truth to Cait and Andrei. I pushed through a crowd of people hanging around the door, annoyed to see the party this full already. I pounded on the door, hoping there wasn't anyone puking inside.

"I need in!" I yelled. Three years ago I would have felt rude, but the one thing parties have taught me was to be very direct about using the bathroom. Especially with girls.

"You want to die?" A girl asked from inside.

"I have to pee," I insisted.

I heard the toilet flush. It was followed by the sound of running water. A minute later the door swung open. The girl wasn't very tall, but she towered over my measly height by more than enough inches to intimidate me.

"Happy now?" She asked, brushing past me.

I could have said something snarky in return, but I didn't feel like getting in a fight tonight. Not when I felt bad already.

When the door was firmly locked I turned towards the mirror and patted my hair down. I reapplied my eyes with black liner and smeared a bit of lip gloss on my lips. The result was decent enough, but the amount of time it took was not. I had only been in the bathroom for thirty seconds, and I knew it was not enough time for Andrei to get lost in the party.

Instead I sat down on the edge of the tub and put my head in my hands.

"Don't worry about it Belle," I said under my breath. "Just because he got you flustered a few times doesn't mean you've fallen head over heels. Remember that he's off limits and you're fine. There are plenty of other jelly-bean loving, t-shirt wearing, perfectly muscled boys around."

I slapped my fist into my palm, feeling very determined.

"Alright. Time to go find yourself an ever hotter man!"

I opened the door of the bathroom just in time for a guy to run in and puke into the toilet. I plugged my nose and raced out of the bathroom.

Oddly enough it made me hungry.

I ventured over to the kitchen and found an array of chips on the counter. My hand instinctively shifted over to the salt and vinegar, but a slap to my hand stopped me.

"Ouch!" I looked up at my tormentor. "Wha—at?"

Cait was standing with her hands on her hips, a fierce expression on her face. She reached for an apple and slid it into my hand.

"You better be implying that I put this down my shirt and pretend I have boobs," I gestured to my relatively flat physique. "Or one boob, I guess. Hey! Are you calling me fat?"

"I love how the most obvious option comes last to you," she drawled. "No, I'm not calling you fat. I'm merely directing you to foods that won't give you bad breath. Guys would much rather a girl with apple-breath than vinegar."

"As if I'd be kissing anyone tonight," I muttered.

My mind flashed to an image of Andrei leaning down towards me. I shuddered and pushed the stupid thought out of my mind.

"Are you sure?" She leaned against the wall and fiddled with her fingers. "You came with Andrei didn't you?"

I dropped the apple. It fell on the ground and apple juice squirted onto my leg.

"What? No way. I told you, I just ran into him—"

"He told me you work together," she interrupted.

I winced. Stupid Andrei. Had I not given him a very penetrating glare that implied he not say anything? Perhaps I wasn't as intimidating as I thought I was.

Cait's face broke into a smile.

"Jeeze, Belle, why are you looking so worried? I'm not going to get mad at you over that," she swept the apple off the ground and chucked it into the trash. "I just wanted to know why you felt like you needed to lie."

"Oh." Cue to mental sigh of relief. "I just – well. I didn't want you to think there was something going on between us. It was all coincidence."

"It's cool. And, I mean, Belle, it's not like I'm in love with the guy or anything," she blushed. "I just think he's cute."

"Oh believe me, I am well aware of your opinion of him!" I shoved my hand in her face, displaying his name. "He thinks I'm in love with him, you know."

She rolled her eyes. "He only had good things to say about you."

My heart skipped a beat. "Yeah? Like what?"

"We only talked for a second," she eyed me suspiciously. "He just said you work together and that you were pretty cool. And he said you had a weird obsession with food analogies. I thought we decided you weren't going to be vocal about that!"

Caught in the act. Shoot. Chalk down that as another reason to kill Andrei. "It was only once! Or twice tops! I can't help it. The food. They call to me!"

"Whatever," she grabbed a bottle of tequila and poured a small glass. "If you talk to him, put in a good word for me, alright?"

She tipped the glass back and downed the shot. When her attention was focused on me I gave her a firm nod.

"You can count on me, Cait."

Cait nudged me in the shoulder and winked. "That's my girl. Now go get some hottie's number so we can double date!"

She disappeared around the corner before I could put down her idea. My eyes trailed to the tequila bottle and I found myself severely tempted.

"Don't cave, Belle," I told myself. "One shot and you're out for the night. And you might need it even more later."



An hour later I was bored, lonely, and still hungry. I wanted to venture back to the chips that were calling my name, but I couldn't get the mental image of Andrei kissing me out of my mind. I figured it was better safe than sorry. I had kissing on the brain.

That is how I found myself a participant in a game of spin the bottle.

I know what you're thinking. You're twenty one. You're at a college party. What are you doing playing spin the bottle? I haven't played that since I was fourteen!

And you're right. Spin the bottle is lame. And, thinking back, the last time I played I probably was fourteen. But there was nothing else to do, and this delightfully drunk girl was so friendly. She kept calling me and telling me they saved me a spot. How could you say no to that?

I was introduced to everyone but it went by in a blur.

We all sat in an oblong circle on the various chairs and couches. The drunk girl threw her hand towards the bottle and spun it, screaming as she did so. It landed on a cute petite girl tucked into the couch. She laughed nervously and tucked her short hair behind her ears.

"What do I do?" She asked.

"Ri-LEY!" The drunk girl was speaking two octaves too high for my liking. "You gotta' spin the bottle again, and then whoever it lands on, you either have to kiss, or play the nervous game!"

"Okay," she leaned down and spun the bottle. It landed on a tall guy sitting next to her.

He put his arm around Riley's shoulder and squeezed it. She smiled back nervously.

"This is perfect, Riles," he let go of her shoulder, "you get to start it off with your friend. It's a perfect way to ease yourself into party games."

She looked uncomfortable. "No offense Logan, but I don't want to kiss you."

"We'll play the nervous game now. I always win at this." He grabbed her hand and placed it on his knee. "Just do it. It's only as awkward as you make it."

Riley rolled her eyes and took a quick swig of beer from her cup. "Oh alright."

Everyone cheered her on as she slid her hand up his leg, repeatedly asking, "Nervous now? Nervous now?" Each time Logan answered "No" with a cocky grin and she would go higher.

She was at the bridge of his man zone when she stopped. "You nervous?"

"Are you nervous?" He countered.

I watched with partial amusement as they both screwed up their faces in a sort of intimidation tactic. Before either of them had a chance to back out, the drunk girl grabbed Riley's hand and shoved it forward.

Riley's hand probably only grazed the guy for less than a half second, but the air changed quickly. Logan sat up completely straight, and Riley's hands rushed to cover her mouth.

The next three sentences came out in quick succession.

"Oh my god I'm so sorry," she gushed.

"You didn't do it." Logan cracked his neck.

"Yeee-AHH!" said the drunk girl before she kissed the guy next to her.

Riley and Logan both quickly stood up from the couch and left in opposite directions. The empty space on the sofa was filled immediately, and I was surprised to see Andrei sitting across from me.

"What's going on here?" He asked, his eyes trailing to me.

I shook my head and mouthed "Get away" but it was too late. Drunk Girl swayed up to him and leaned over, attempting to kiss him. Andrei jumped up from the couch, and seizing my chance, I grabbed his hand and pulled him away from the group of people.

"I take it that was not a political discussion?" He asked.

I shook my head. "Anything but. You did, however, just miss an awesomely awkward moment."

He grabbed my elbow and pulled me into a corner. I must have looked startled because he waved his hand in the air with a shrug and said, "It's just too loud over there."

I tried to act cool. "'s all good." I instantly realized that I did not come off cool.

Andrei didn't notice. "Why did you lie to your friend about us not knowing each other?"

Oh no.

"I mean, it's one thing to deny that we came together. I'd be fine with that, because well…it's not like we came together, like a date. It's just that we walked here together."

Oh no, oh no!

"But the introduction? Was that really necessary?"

Andrei totally backed me into a wall, figuratively and literally. He was standing in front of me, blocking the escape to the rest of the party, while my back was pressed firm against the wall. No escape.

"Cait thinks you're cute!" I blurted. "What was I supposed to do?"

He rolled his eyes. I should start keeping track how many times people roll their eyes at me.

"You worry too much," he tapped the side of my head with his knuckle. "We were completely innocent."

My hands were roaming the wall, searching for something to do. If the wall were a person, I'd be charged with sexual harassment. Andrei's eyes trailed down to my hands and he laughed.

"What are you doing?"

"Feeling awkward," I admitted.

He placed his hand above my shoulder and leaned towards me. My breath caught in my throat and my heart sped up. For the first time that evening I was completely convinced it was due to fright, not Andrei.

Okay…so maybe it was 50/50.

"Jezebelle," his voice dropped again. He seemed to do this whenever he was trying to intimidate me. "Do I make you feel awkward?"

"Only when you act like a creepy pedophile," I tried to slip around him but he pushed me back gently.

"No, I'm being serious." He leaned down. I felt his breath on my ear. "You've been acting increasingly and increasingly strange all day. Skittish. Less judgmental. And you don't deny stalking me as much."

"You don't accuse me of stalking you as much," I shot back.

I gave myself a mental pat on the back for that one. Way to be clever in a time of complete and utter terror, Belle!

"What on Earth are you thinking about?" He muttered. "I swear, every time I watch you, you drift off and you have the weirdest expressions."

"You watch me?" I yelped.

Andrei stiffened. "No. I mean, occasionally. The amount a normal person looks at another normal person."

"Right." I couldn't think of anything else to say.

His hand dropped from the wall and I felt a warm touch against the small of my back. It took me a second to realize that it was his hand.

"Listen, I don't really like Cait. I mean, she's a nice girl but—"

"Oh, my god." His touch sent a wave of fire throughout my whole body. What was wrong with me? I needed to get out of the room. ASAP. "I think I left the iron on."

He gritted his teeth, "Jezebelle—"

"Got to go!" A group of people were walking towards us. I seized my chance and ducked under Andrei's arm and slipped into the crowd. I thought I heard him yell my name again but I ignored it. I needed air. Fresh air.

I pushed my way through the crowd and onto the balcony. Thankfully it was relatively empty, save for a tall guy leaning against the railing smoking. Normally I avoid cigarette smoke like the plague, because who wants second hand smoke, you know? But anything was better than being stuck in a corner with Andrei.

The guy looked over at me and nodded. I awkwardly jerked my head back towards him and said, "Hey."

"Need a light?" He asked, holding out a small silver box.

I gasped, appalled. "Certainly not."

He snickered. "You sound like my girlfriend. Always telling me to quit."

That was when my eyes trailed down to his arm. Peaking beneath his t-shirt was a small patch.

"I see that nicotine patch is doing wonders for you," I drawled.

He wasn't given a chance to respond. The sliding door opened and a girl with auburn hair stumbled out. She stared at the guy, then let her eyes slide to the cigarette in his hand.

"Peter!" She shouted.

Without missing a beat Peter shoved the cigarette towards me. "No means no, Donna. God. You know I'm trying to quit."

I dropped the cigarette. "Say what?"

Peter wrapped his arm around the girl and kissed the top of her head. "Come on, Dev. Let's go back inside."

The girl narrowed her eyes. "You smell like smoke. And her name isn't Donna! She's in my photography class!"

The guy pulled her back inside, muttering lies and excuses under his breath. I waved to their retreating figures, making a note to introduce myself to the girl next class. I didn't know many people in photography yet, and now I had an easy topic to small talk about.

I felt a small tug at my hair. "What are you doing out here?"

I jumped back, startled to see Andrei. "What are you doing out here?" I countered.

He rolled his eyes and leaned up against the balcony. Andrei stared at me, his eyes firm, but thankfully not set in a glare. I rubbed my arms, feeling self conscious, and started backing towards the door.

"Well, good seeing you," I said.

He grabbed onto my arm and pulled me back towards him. "What was that about in there?"

I bit the inside of my cheek to keep calm. "What are you talking about?"

"You. You freaking out on me. I touch your back and you act like I molested you."

He had yet to let go of my arm, and the heat from his hand radiated into my skin. I tried to concentrate on what he was saying, but the intense warmth made it difficult.

"It was just hot in there," I said.

"Will you just talk to me normally?" He ran his hand through his hair. "Just for one second. I need to say a few things."

I clenched my fist and forced a natural expression on me face. "Okay."

"I know Caitlin is your best friend, and I get the message that she's into me. And she's a great girl, but I don't see her like that. So would you please stop acting like you can't touch me or talk to me?"

"Girl code," I whispered. "Not that I want to touch you."

"Well just talk to me like before. Back in the office. Or on the way here." He shrugged off his coat and held it out for me. "You cold?"

"No," I whispered, but my breath turned to fog and gave me away. "It doesn't matter. I'm fine."

He shoved the coat in my arms. "You don't have to wear it. Just hold onto it in case you get cold."

"I barely know you," I said. "You can't get mad at me for not talking to you when I've known you for one day. What if I just don't like you?"

"You don't like me? Is that so?" Andrei stepped forward and rested his finger tips on my cheek. "Your responses say otherwise."

I jerked away from him. "Aren't you cocky?"

"You interest me," he said. The blunt statement took me by surprise. I hardly had time to blush before he continued on. "At first I thought you were weird. And then it turned to amusement. And now I find myself continuously searching you out, hoping to see you do something different."

"Do I keep you on your toes?" I joked.

"Yes. I like that." He took another step towards me. I was feeling a sense of dai ja vu from just minutes previous. It scared me. "Please just act normal around me."

Any other girl would have let him kiss her in a situation like this. We were outside, alone, and he was saying some-what romantic words. (I must admit I've never had someone tell me they like me because I'm weird. It's usually along the lines of "You hot. Me man. Make out, now." I usually just say "Okay".)

But I kept thinking back to Cait. And how good a friend she's been the past couple years. She was my first roommate and I had such a hard time making friends. And despite everyone in our dorm thinking I was crazy, she would take me to parties and introduce me to her friends. Slowly I began to fit in and make my own friends. I'd be nowhere without her help.

So until she moved onto another guy, I just had to turn off my feelings for Andrei. Simple as that.

"Fine," I said. I shoved the coat back into his arms and patted him on the head. Feeling like I should really drive the point home, I pinched his cheeks. "I'll be completely normal."

He grabbed my wrist. "Jezebelle—"

"Belle," I said firmly.

I walked past him and slid through the door. I didn't turn back to look at him, because I knew I'd be tempted to keep talking. Instead I searched the crowded apartment for Cait. If I could just talk with her for one second, I'm sure it would snap me back into my senses.

My eyes scanned the room. There was a crowd in the corner dancing, and a bunch of people playing beer pong, and Mi-chel was in the corner making out with some girl who looked like Cait, and then there was the chubby, insecure girl in the corner munching on my salt and vinegar chips—


My eyes snapped back to the couple making out. It was definitely Michael Saunders, resident playboy and jerk. I recognized that dirty beanie anywhere. But the girl with her lips suctioned to his face looked an awfully lot like Cait.

I slapped myself in the face.

"No way," I whispered.

Cait would not make out with Michael. Wasn't it just this morning that she told me he wasn't into black girls? Even if shewas wasted, Cait would not take back someone who dissed her like that.

But still. Look-a-like-Cait had the same outfit, same hairstyle, and save butt that I've come to know and love.

"Would you look at that," a voice said from behind me.

I turned to see Andrei starting at the same spectacle as me.

"That's not Cait," I insisted. "Someone dressed up as her."

"No, that's definitely her," his eyes trailed downward. "Yep. That's her ass. I'd recognize it anywhere."

"For serious?"

"Yeah. She's got a great ass," he admitted.

"I know, right?" I slapped my hand to my forehead. "Wait! Why are we talking about this? Caitlin!" I yelled her name loud enough to be heard over the music.

She broke away from Michael and grinned sheepishly at me.

"Cait! What the hell!" I pointed at Michael. "What are you doing with him?"

She pushed her hair behind her ears and grinned. Her expression looked so gleeful that I almost regretted pulling her away from him, but then I remember it was Michael.

"I know what you're thinking," she began.

"He's an asshole!" I shouted. "You said he wasn't into you because you were black. That's total jerk-wad material!"

"No, no, I totally misunderstood the situation," she held up her finger towards Michael, signaling that it would only be a minute. "He came up to me tonight and asked me out, and I was like, 'Oh, so now you like black girls?' and he was like, 'What are you talking about?' and I was like—"

"Spare me the dialogue and get to the point where he's not a jerk," I said.

"Long story short, Melissa lied. I guess she has a total crush on him and knew he liked me, so she made up some bogus excuse to make me mad at him."



See, normally I would assume that Michael was a dirty, filthy liar, and tell Cait that he was probably just horny, but it was Melissa we were talking about.

Total whore, if you know what I mean. She's like garlic. Goes with everything.

I lowered my voice to a whisper, "What about Andrei? I thought you liked him?"

Cait paused. "Who?"

"Oh, great, you forgot about him already?" I used my thumb to point behind me. "That guy?"

Cait's face lit up with recognition. She let out a giggle and waved her hand. "No biggie. I think he's more into you than me anyway. Now, if you'll excuse me…" She scampered back to Michael.

I stood there, dumbfounded, watching the two make out. After a minute Andrei slid next to me and poked me in the back.

"I don't think we need to watch this," he said.

"I can't look away. I just can't." It was true. For some reason or another, my body felt stuck to the ground. Then Michael slid his hand up her thigh and I instantly looked away.

"Ew, ew, ew, get out, get out, get out!" I yelled, pushing Andrei away from the couple.

"Do you want to just leave?" He asked.

I nodded. "Please."

Andrei led me outside. I walked numbly down the stairs, still feeling quite shocked. Cait was back with Michael? Eesh. They better not make out in front of me 24/7.

"Do you feel relieved?" Andrei asked.

I paused on the last step. With the extra inches, we were almost the same height.

"Relieved?" I echoed.

"You don't have to follow your girl code anymore, right?" He nodded towards the apartment. "I take it she doesn't like me anymore?"

"You are off her radar, that's for sure," I mumbled. Perhaps it would be best not to tell him she completely forgot who he was.

"Let me take you out, then," Andrei said. "What are you doing after work tomorrow?"

Excuses swirled through my head. Pie eating contest. Suit fitting. Long board lessons. They stopped abruptly when an image of Cait and Michael kissing flashed through my brain again.

I didn't know why I felt the need to back out of a date. Cait gave me the okay. There was nothing stopping me from acknowledging my ever-growing attraction for him. And he was apparently interested in me. So why was I hesitating?

I didn't need to wonder very long. My shaking hands gave me away. I was scared out of my mind.

"You're going out with me tomorrow," Andrei said. "You don't have a choice."

"Long board…contest," I mumbled.

"Liar." He tossed his coat around my shoulders and buttoned it up. "We can discuss what to do at work tomorrow, alright?"

"I'm an extremely good long-boarder," I began to babble. "I hold the record for the fastest race in Washington! Seven gold medals!"

"You'll be fine," he said. "I'm going to call you a cab, alright? I live just a few blocks down from here, and I don't want you walking alone."

He walked to the side and pulled out his cell phone. I stared at him the entire time, a fierce look on my face. When he came back I was going to tell him that there was no way I'd be going out with him tomorrow.

Before you label me as crazy – or, well, before you decide that my particular brand of crazy is not the good kind, let me explain.

He cannot just say that we're going out. Andrei has to ask me. Because that's just what you do. He'll come up with some cutesy way of asking me out, hopefully with a clever food pun, like, "How 'bout you and I marinade in the hot tub for a bit and see if we can't make ourselves a delicious pot of love stew!" and then I would agree instantly because nothing is hotter than a man who has a way with words.

"Cab should be here in a few minutes," Andrei said.

"I am not going out with you!" I shouted.

He was taken aback by my intense proclamation. I'd like to think the extra five inches the steps gave me added to my intimidation factor.

"And why not?" He asked.

I rolled my eyes. "You are so unromantic."

"I thought girls liked guys who were forward. Guys who take charge." He took a step closer to me. "My sister always complains that men these days are too shy. Are you saying you want me to beat around the bush?"

"No. I'm saying I want you to seduce me with food puns!"

"I thought you were into analogies?" He laughed afterwards.

"No, no, no," I sighed dramatically, "men are into analogies. Women love puns."

"Is that so?"

He took another step forward. I narrowed my eyes. This was suspicious. Why was he coming so close? And why did he have a gleam in his eye?

"Yes." I placed my hands on my hips. "Nothing is hotter than a clever pun. It's a natural fact."

"You see, personally, I get more turned on by the girl itself," he was still inching closer to me. "There's nothing I like more than a girl who keeps me on my toes. I'll never know what she's going to say next, because everything she says is bat-shit crazy."

"How is that a turn on?" I knew he was referring to me, but even I could not understand why someone would think my verbal blasphemy could be attractive.

"It just makes me wonder what she kisses like. If she does everything else unlike anyone I've met, then how is she going to kiss? Will it keep me on my toes?"

I was suddenly very aware how close his lips were to mine, and how easy it would be to kiss him. I swallowed the nervous lump in my throat and he chuckled.

"What are you thinking about, Belle?" He asked.

"Vinegar chips," I answered automatically.

The grin on his lips died and his voice dropped, "What?"

"Yeah. Salt and vinegar chips. I'm just thinking that Cait was right. I'm really glad I didn't eat any," I whispered.

Andrei still looked confused, and perhaps a bit annoyed, but I wiped any expression off of his face by kissing him.

He responded quickly, reaching his hands out to my waist and pulling me close. We kissed like this for some time, me subconsciously holding onto his black t-shirt, and him with his thumb brushing against my hip, until a flash of headlights filled my vision.

Andrei grabbed me around my waist and hoisted me from the stairs to the ground. I was still feeling a little breathless from the kiss, and I clutched onto the back of his shirt to steady myself. He led me over to the car and opened the door for me. As I sat down, he handed the driver a few bills.

"Andrei?" I asked.

He leaned into the car with a grin. "Yes?"

"Tell me a pun. Anything. It doesn't have to be great. Something about food preferably." I looked up at him. "Please?"

He paused for a moment. Then he bent down and whispered into my ear, "Delquinto's Deli. Meat me there tomorrow."

I scrunched up my nose. "That was terrible."

Andrei laughed, and the breath on my ear sent goosebumps up my arms. When he noticed this he chuckled again.

"Fortunately for me, I think you've realized that there's a better turn on than puns," he said.

And of course he's right. Damn.



AN: Weirdest one shot ever? Possible. Weirdest character? Yeah.

I'm not sure how I feel about this one-shot. I love the first half, but I'm unsure about the second half, but I've been working on this since May of 2008, so I've decided that I'm just going to post it, and if people like it, they can like it, and if they don't like it, then I hope they will tell me what doesn't work so I can know what to change.

I'm trying to do this thing where I'm going to link all of my one-shots into one world. For example, this one-shot featured a brief cameo from the couple of my other one-shot, Get Mad, Baby. There's also a scene in the party with another couple that I plan on writing my next one-shot for. I want to have these inter-connecting stories.

Anyway, tell me what you think. I'm up in the air on this one. I'm not sure how the humor will go over, because I have a particular sense of weird humor, and I don't know if the rest of the world would think it's funny.

And this one-shot is dedicated to one of my best friends Velva, who is the inspiration for Belle. Also to CPT Funk, who I have made read it several times since May of 2008 and boosts my ego by telling me I'm funny.