"Asshole! Stop texting before you kill someone!"
Yes…those were my first words on Valentine's Day. Not exactly the most romantic phrasing ever, considering they were being said (screamed, actually) to my future boyfriend. But when you see where I'm coming from, they make perfect sense.
Most of the people I know call me rude. Actually, they call me Melinda Irwin, since that's my name and all, but you get what I mean. I tend to…overreact, let's say, to a variety of situations. It runs in my family. My older sister Miranda flipped out on her boyfriend a lot – before he became her boyfriend.
And here I was flipping out on Trey Johnson, before I started dating him. And if you want to know why, you ought to hear the story from the beginning.
It started out as an ordinary day, and I'm not saying that to be cliché. It really was an ordinary day to me, even though the male half of the population was probably spending the morning fretting about impressing the women in their lives, and the women were probably spending the morning wondering how they were going to be impressed. I, however, could care less about Valentine's Day, and since my parents and older sister weren't even in the house this morning, I didn't have to worry about empty wishes either.
I did, however, have to worry about the lack of cheese for my lunchtime sandwich. With the three other people in my family gone with their respective cars, I had no choice but to walk to the grocery store. That annoyed me. Plus, I was hungry and it was cold outside. Not a good combination for someone as easily irked as me. My goal was just to get inside the store, buy the cheese, and come home. The first two parts of that plan fell into place well. The third part, however, was a bit delayed.
After buying the cheese, I exited the store with nothing more exciting than a mumbled curse word about the weather. But moments later, a loud screech and blasting music found me cursing a little louder. I whipped my head around to see a bright red pick-up truck speeding towards me, the driver not even looking up at the road because he was more focused on the cell phone in his hand. Now his blatant disregard for the safety of others was in itself annoying, but the loud music, rolled-down window, only-one-hand-on-the-steering-wheel posture was enough to tip me over the edge.
Hence my first words of the day.
"Asshole! Stop texting before you kill someone!" Now, this was actually screamed just to vent my frustration, not to actually get his attention. But somehow, even though his concentration was divided between the road, his phone, and the music, he still managed to hear me. Next thing I knew, he slammed on the brakes and by some evil twist of physics, ended up right next to me. Like, right next to me.
"What did you say?" he asked, turning down his music. I quickly recalled that maybe what I said was a bit obnoxious, but then again, what he had done was obnoxious too. So we were even. I didn't have to explain myself.
"I said, 'asshole! Stop texting before you kill someone'," I clarified, though I knew he hadn't asked because he didn't hear. I turned to glare at him, but I was met by a very amused expression.
A very hot, amused expression. I blinked.
"You think I can't handle texting and driving, sweetheart?" he asked me. I noticed vaguely that he was wearing a white wife-beater, and his nicely muscled arm was hanging casually out of his open window. It was a very attractive sight. Though it was rather cold outside for such…
Wait…had he just called me sweetheart?
"Yes, I did," he responded. I gasped. I hadn't meant to say that aloud. My sister Miranda had that same issue as well. We were a lot alike, and this was the kind of situation in which I wish we weren't.
"Well, you shouldn't text and drive. You could die," I said blatantly. The young man in front of me chuckled, and I noticed his broad shoulders as they shook with his amusement. He had very nice shoulders, with smooth, tan skin. It matched his dark hair very nicely.
"You are something else," he finally said when his laughter subsided. When I just stared at him, he offered his hand to me. "Trey Johnson. You are?"
"Something else," I answered, ignoring his hand. "Like you said." There was something creepy about introducing myself to a guy that just pulled up beside me after I insulted him.
Trey laughed again and extended his hand closer to me. "Seriously?" he probed. I sighed. His hand looked very warm, and his expression was very calm and inviting. And the fact that he was attractive didn't help my weakening resolve.
"Melinda Irwin," I said, giving in and taking his hand. It was a nice handshake, warm and soft, and I didn't realize that my hand had been so cold this entire time until I felt the heat from his skin.
Trey frowned. "You're freezing!" he remarked.
"Yeah, blame the weather," I said. I noticed that Trey hadn't let go of my hand, but before I could react, he tightened his grip and pulled me closer. With a strangled gasp, I crashed right into the door of his vehicle, and his hand had moved to my upper arm. My widened eyes stared into his chocolate brown ones.
"Come inside; it's warmer." Trey's voice floated over my face, and I realized that I was actually leaning through his window.
"Um." All sorts of alarm bells were going on in my head, warning me against getting into a car with a stranger, even an attractive one. However, the intelligent part of me that usually listened to those warnings was strangely absent, and all it took was a small smile on Trey's part for me to nod.
Trey let go of my arm and leaned over to the other side to unlock his passenger side door. I hurried around the front of the truck to get inside. As soon as I slipped into the seat and closed the door, the warmth completely engulfed me. Now I understood why Trey was so comfortable even in his sleeveless top.
"Where to?" he asked. I stared out the front of the truck, avoiding eye contact with Trey. All I really wanted to do at the moment was get back home and put an end to this weird situation. I mean, I just willingly climbed into the truck of a stranger because he asked, with my only justification being his attractiveness. Even my sister had to be forcefully dumped into her boyfriend's car when he first asked to take her out.
What was wrong with me?
"Uh…" I stammered. I suddenly realized that going back home would not put an end to this situation – it would only make it worse. I could not just tell Trey where I lived.
"Have you had lunch yet?" Trey asked. I held up the bag I had twisted around my wrist, glancing over at him as I did so.
"I was going to," I replied. I stiffened as he made eye contact, but he quickly shifted his eyes to peer inside my bag.
"Cheese?" he asked. I nodded slowly.
"I was going to make a sandwich." Wow, lame conversation alert. Trey leaned back and frowned. A moment later, he shrugged and turned to the wheel, shifting the truck into drive. I was confused.
"Wait, where are you taking me?" I asked. Trey smiled lightly.
Moments later, true to his statement, I did see. And what I saw was the Subway restaurant right as we pulled up to the drive through. My mouth opened wide and I cursed my lack of words as Trey ordered two Sandwiches-of-the-Day, putting extra cheese on mine with a grin in my direction. My vocal cords didn't recover until after the warm sandwich was placed on my lap, unwrapped and waiting to be eaten. At first, I noticed that we were now parked a few feet away from the Subway. And then, I spoke.
"You bought me lunch," I squeaked. Trey nodded.
"Thought I'd save you the trouble," he said.
"But I bought cheese!" I protested. I shook my bag for extra emphasis. Trey laughed.
"Now you can use it for something else," he said. "Plus, it's Valentine's Day. You shouldn't be spending it eating alone." Something about that statement irked me, and I blurted out a retort without thinking.
"What do you mean alone? My boyfriend was coming over for lunch!" Now, I'd like to make this clear that this was a big, fat lie. I had only ever had one boyfriend, if he could even be called that, and we only went out last year twice. But for some reason, I pictured him now, determined not to let Trey think I was some V-Day loner. Which is funny, because just a few hours ago, I could care less about the day.
I watched Trey's face go from temporary shock, to confusion, to a blank stare in a matter of a few seconds. He was in the middle of taking a bite of his sandwich, and he swallowed slowly before setting it back down on the paper spread across his lap.
I suddenly realized how horrible it sounded to say I had a boyfriend when Trey had invited me into his warm car and bought me lunch. But then again, he had been horrible enough to suggest that I was going to be all alone on Valentine's Day (though that was probably true), and so we were even once again.
"You have a boyfriend?" he asked. I nodded. The sandwich felt heavy on my lap all of a sudden. Trey nodded slowly.
"I see," he said softly. He looked at me once and I held my breath. He then wrapped up his sandwich and tucked it into the space between our seats before shifting his truck into drive. What had started as a weird but pleasant encounter now turned awkward quicker than I could react. And really, it was all my fault. How rude of me.
"Trey," I started, but he made some sort of weird coughing noise. I shut up quickly. A minute later, I tried again.
"Trey…" I paused and pressed my lips together. Trey hadn't bothered to ask me for directions to my house, and I noticed why. We were back at the grocery store. I guess he intended to let me walk home. In the cold.
"Yes?" he asked. His tone seemed blank, and I realized that it was because he had been all flirty earlier. Now he sounded pretty apathetic. I cringed.
"Do I have to walk back home all by myself?" I asked softly. I felt rather pathetic at the moment, and I realized this was the side I did not share with my sister. While she would do her best to retain her high-and-mighty attitude, I tended to just deflate when crushed.
"Ask your boyfriend to pick you up," Trey answered. Was it just me, or did he say the term boyfriend rather acidly. I resisted the urge to laugh. What boyfriend?
"The one you mentioned earlier, unless you have several hidden up your sleeve? I suppose someone as cute as you would attract many guys. I guess I fell for it too."
I blinked. Cute? Oh. My. Goodness. Now I felt like the epitome of horrible. And wait…
"Did I say that aloud?" I asked. Trey's profile looked confused, though I couldn't be sure because he made a great effort not to look in my direction.
"What are you talking about?" he asked with a sigh. He didn't wait for an answer. "Anyway, are you getting out or not? If you want to wait for your precious boyfriend, I'm sorry but you are going to have to do it outside-,"
"Trey, I don't have a boyfriend!" I cried. And I realized how ridiculous that felt, having to assure a stranger. I mean, I've talked with him for like ten minutes. Why the heck did he care so much?
Why the heck did I care so much?
"You…don't…have a boyfriend?" Trey asked, the words dragged out painfully slow. I nodded.
"Yeah, I don't," I said. I lied because you made it sound like I was some sort of loner. Wow, that felt awful to admit. But I would never say that aloud.
"What? What did I say?" Trey asked, turning to me, his voice brimming with concern. I looked at him in confusion before I realized, ironically, that I had said that sentence out loud.
"Damn!" I hissed. "That was totally not meant for your ears!"
"Well, apparently I said something that was not meant for yours, so we're even," Trey said. I blinked. Wow, that sounded a lot like something I would say. Strange.
After that, the two of us stayed silent for a good while. Finally, Trey smiled.
"Eat your sandwich," he said. I realized my lunch was still on my lap. I looked at it.
"I will," I replied. "Back at my house." I looked over at Trey and an idea crossed my mind. "And you should join me."
Trey's eyebrows shot up. I stared back, though I really wanted to look away. I was pretty sure I was blushing at this point, but there was something about Trey…I don't know. Something about Trey that made me think that this was something worth pursuing.
Trey smirked, and I raised an eyebrow questioningly.
"So you actually didn't lie," he said. I narrowed my eyes as Trey put the truck in drive and rolled out of the parking lot.
"What do you mean?"
Trey grinned. "Your boyfriend is coming over for lunch after all." I shook my head, about to argue that I had no idea what he was talking about, until it suddenly made sense what he said to me.
And then I blushed at his forwardness. "Really?" I asked, not quite sure exactly what to say. "Well, he should have warned me about that."
Trey smirked, turning into my neighborhood as I pointed out the intersection. "Well, I'm sure he would have texted you if he could, but he's driving."
I grinned. "He'll need my phone number for that." I indicated the two-story brick house to our left and Trey stopped the truck. However, I didn't get out right away. Trey didn't move either.
"True, you should give him that," Trey agreed. "And while you're being so generous, you can throw in a kiss. I'm sure he won't mind." He turned to me, his dark eyes sparkling mischievously. I hadn't even noticed that his hand was now lightly resting on mine, but it didn't feel out of place.
I smiled. "We'll see about that."