Carson Jennings is not the kind of guy who falls in love.

He just isn't, okay? It's not his fault that the ladies love him. Why should he subject himself to the humiliating task of pursuing some girl, when a bunch of much more accessible girls are launching – well, maybe not exactly launching, it's more like seductively exposing – their hot bods at him with just one glance from his piercing blue eyes?

Who even came up with that, anyway? Carson isn't so sure if he wants anyone to describe his eyes as piercing. He feels a little bit like they're portraying him to be a sex-aholic hawk with large claws protruding from his eye sockets, which, quite frankly, is not an attractive image. It's actually kind of scary. Do people think of that when they see him?

This is rather unsettling.

Carson slowly raises himself to a sitting position in his bed. He's reluctant to leave it and the feathery softness of his Egyptian cotton bed sheets. Plus, there's a leggy red head lying right next to him stark naked. And he kind of wants to have sex with her.

Well, this is quite the dilemma. Should he stay and rouse Leggy Red Riding Hood from her slumber so he can satiate his manly urges? Or should he go to the mirror to make sure that there are no hawk-like features marring his devilishly handsome face?

Groaning inwardly, Carson realizes what he must do. He just has to check. What if there really are claws jutting out from his – apparently piercing – blue eyes?

Besides, sex with Leggy Red Riding Hood isn't really all that mind blowing. When she comes, she makes a funny sound that reminds him of geese honking. It's a definite turn-off.

After grabbing some plaid boxers and tugging them on, Carson stumbles over to his bathroom and stares at his reflection in the mirror. And, well, he doesn't want to toot his own horn, but damn! Carson Jennings really is one fine male specimen. Midnight blue eyes, dark brown hair, a strong jaw, and a straight nose . . . can this guy be any sexier? And, with further inspection, he realizes happily that he does not remotely resemble a hawk.

See, now this is exactly why Carson Jennings, who is most likely more gorgeous than Zeus himself, doesn't have to fall in love. In fact, it would be a crime to fall and love and commit to a life of monogamy. What about all those lovely women who fantasize about him ripping his shirt off and taking them right there, on the kitchen table? It's Carson Jennings's job to indulge all those women.

So, really, Carson is doing the female population a favor by not falling in love. Wow. He is such a saint.

Carson jolts suddenly when his cell phone begins to ring shrilly from his kitchen. He races over and muffles the sound with his hand before looking at the caller identification. He's about to press the Send button and curse out whoever decided to call him so early in the morning (because calling Carson Jennings at eleven in the morning on a Saturday is practically a crime against humanity) when he sees the name of the caller.


Suddenly, Carson's heart is pounding so hard he's afraid it might just slam a hole in his chest and fall out of his body with a nasty splat onto his cold, mahogany wood floors.

How strange.

Especially because the caller has a man's name. Thankfully, for Carson's sanity, the caller is most certainly not a man. In fact, she's a very beautiful woman named Joanna Preston with long blonde hair that smells like mandarin oranges and tantalizing pink lips that are almost always screwed up in a scowl whenever she sets her eyes on Carson.

Carson always found Joanna to be rather intriguing. When they met, she punched Carson in the arm, which, though he will never admit it, really, really hurt. See, Carson likes to think he's a smooth operator because he always goes around calling beautiful women by their beautiful names. And usually when he does this, women giggle and blush, and Carson immediately knows that he has reduced yet another dignified woman to a quivering puddle of girl parts. So, Carson called Joanna Preston by her full first name, earning him a punch in the arm that made his ego retreat into a dark corner of his mind and weep relentlessly for three days straight. Okay, so maybe he deserved that punch, because right before calling her Joanna, Carson tugged on a lock of her smooth blonde hair. But it was only because he felt like burying his face in her mandarin orange smelling hair really, really badly, so he had to compensate, obviously.

Carson had never had a woman punch him before (except for his sister and his mom, but they hardly count as women since he'll never sleep with them, no matter what Freud and his Oedipus complex say). In fact, Joey's punch was so surprising that once Carson's ego recovered from said punch, it fell over with shock. Women, if you hadn't noticed, love Carson Jennings. And Joey Preston is definitely a woman. So why isn't she in love with him already?

Clearing his throat, Carson hits the Send button and says in what he hopes is a very mature, not-hung-over voice, "Hello?"

"Hey, Jennings, it's Joey." She sighs heavily into the phone, making Carson briefly wonder what her breath smells like. "Can you do me a favor?"

"What do you need?" Carson asks, wondering what kind of toothpaste she uses.

"It's just my cat, Bartolomeu." She pauses, and Carson can almost imagine her pushing her hair out of her face and scrunching up her hazel eyes. "Something's wrong with him. I'm afraid to touch him because I hate dead things and he might be dying and I don't know why, but I just thought of you. This is really stupid. Sorry, just forget I called."

"No, wait!" Carson squeezes the phone, praying that she hasn't hung up. "I-I can help you. My parents are big cat people."

Okay, so that was a total lie. Carson's dad has severe allergies so the only pets his family could own without giving Frank Jennings an asthma attack were ones without hair. So Carson has only ever owned fish, which he killed before the fish even made it to the fish tank because he accidentally dropped the bag and he couldn't scoop them into the tank quickly enough.

But Joey doesn't really need to know that.

"Are you sure?" Joey asks hesitantly, but Carson can hear the underlying tension in her voice.

"Yeah, I'll leave now. Just tell me your address," Carson says, running back to his room to grab some clothes. While he admits that he isn't hard on the eyes, he doesn't think Joey or Bartolomeu will appreciate him showing up in yesterday's boxers.

After jotting down Joey's address onto a napkin, Carson ends the call and dresses quickly. Then, just as he's about to leave, he remembers that Leggy Red Riding Hood is still sleeping. Rather messily, Carson would like to add, due to the puddle of drool quickly forming under her mouth (Carson makes a mental note to charge her for water damages if she ends up flooding the place with saliva). Not wanting to deal with her when Joey – and Bartolomeu, of course – needs him, he rummages through his desk and finds a piece of paper onto which he had drawn a poor depiction of Shrek. Crossing out his doodle haphazardly, he quickly scribbles a crude note onto the back of the paper.

I went out (obviously) to help one of my friends. Sorry. Don't wait around for me because I don't know when I'll be back. Just remember to lock the door when you leave. Thanks. –Carson.

Carson folds the note in half and lays it onto the pillow he had been occupying earlier this morning. As he runs downstairs and hops into his car, his heart starts hammering again. Carson is pretty sure that his whole chest is going to fall into his lap if he brakes too hard, but he doesn't worry about it for too long, because, as he's driving away, he's wishing that he had placed a bucket under Leggy Red Riding Hood's mouth to save his Egyptian cotton sheets.

Yeah, he'll definitely have to send her an invoice for the water damages.

Carson Jennings isn't a fan of cats. Maybe it's because he never had cats when he was a kid. But it's probably because when he was thirteen, he went to his girlfriend's house and her cat jumped on his head. Said cat was not de-clawed. Said experience was painful. And traumatizing.

Cats are just so sneaky. They kind of remind Carson of ninjas. Fluffy, adorable ninjas. With razor sharp claws that could slice open his arteries and leave him to die.

Carson really isn't a cat person.

When Carson leans down to pick up Bartolomeu, the cat just kind of collapses in his arms. Carson feels a lot like he's holding a bunch of overcooked spaghetti noodles. Is that normal? Because Carson isn't quite sure that it is. In fact, he thinks the cat might be dying. But he's keeping his trap shut, because he doesn't want to upset Joey, and also because he doesn't know squat about cats.

"Hi, Barty," Carson says, feeling awkward.

"What did you call him?" Joey asks, sounding only slightly abrasive.


"His name is Bartolomeu." She smiles sadly.

"Yeah, but look at this little guy." Carson shifts Barty in his arms so he's cradling the lethargic kitten like a baby. Okay, so maybe this cat isn't so bad. But maybe all dying cats act like this. "He's not a Portuguese explorer. He's a baby."

"Maybe he dreams about being a Portuguese explorer." Joey walks over and scratches behind Barty's ears. "I don't know what's wrong with him. He just lies on the floor, sleeping all day. That usually means that they're going to . . . die, right?"

Due to Carson's severe inexperience with animals, he has no idea what cats do before they die. For all he knows, little Barty might start seizing and foaming at the mouth before keeling over. Hopefully no such thing happens because then Carson would most likely throw Barty in the air and flee the scene screaming like a little girl. And he can't let Joey see that because the Carson Jennings that she knows is probably just as manly as Hercules, if not more so. In fact, the manliness of Carson Jennings is so similar to the manliness of Hercules that Carson might just be Hercules's reincarnation.

Minus the crazy part.

And the Twelve Labors.

And Carson's father, to the best of his knowledge, is not Zeus.

But other than that, Hercules and Carson are practically the same person. Really.

"Let's take him to the vet," Carson says in a voice not unlike James Bond's. The situation does seem like a mission to him. Sure, there are no armed assassins or daring stunts that might result in death. But there's a beautiful girl – Joey Preston – and a supremely good looking fellow – Carson Jennings, of course – so it's close enough.

As Carson speeds (well, he's only going forty-three miles an hour, which really isn't speeding that badly. But Carson can't drive like a maniac at ninety miles an hour because if he gets pulled over by the cops, it'll be mighty embarrassing for him to explain that he was pretending that he was James Bond on a mission. Carson is twenty-nine years old, after all) down the street to the veterinarian's office, Joey looks at him from the passenger's seat with her mesmerizing hazel eyes.

(See, now why can't Carson's eyes be mesmerizing? Why do they have to be piercing? He knows people describe them as piercing because when he was pouring himself a cup of coffee one morning at work, he overheard two of his former girlfriends talking about him. And he distinctly heard them say that he has piercing blue eyes. They said it nine times, exactly. Carson counted.)

Carson's heart starts to slam against his ribs again, and his throat goes dry. His hands, which are beginning to get clammy and sweaty, tighten over the steering wheel so his knuckles turn white. Carson really hopes that Joey can't hear his heart beat so abnormally fast because he doesn't want her to get the wrong idea. She might start thinking that he's halfway in love with her. Which he isn't.

Oh, he so isn't.

Maybe he's a quarter of the way in love with her. Yes, that's it. But, you do realize, that being only a quarter of the way in love with someone is hardly love at all. It's actually more like. . . .

Interest. Yes, Carson Jennings is merely interested in Joey Preston, like the way you're interested in a book. See, he read the excerpt, and he liked what he found, so now he wants to borrow her.

With the option to renew her.


"Oh, that's the place, over there," Joey points.

Carson swiftly pulls into the small lot, expertly avoiding potholes so he won't disturb little Barty, who's sitting in his carrier in the backseat.

As Carson is about to get out of the car, Joey stops him and quietly says, "Wait."

At this point, Carson's heart is hammering again, which is making him a tad suspicious. He might have a heart condition, because he's pretty sure this is not normal. He should probably make an appointment with a cardiologist before he drops dead of a massive heart attack.

But Carson's suspicions of his probable heart problems are at the back of his mind, because at the very forefront, Carson is thinking, yes, yes, yes, Joey wants me!

Carson somehow controls his hands, which are just itching to run through the golden waterfall of Joey's hair because he doesn't want to seem overeager. So instead Carson settles for a sultry, "Yeah?" with a smoldering look.

And just as Carson is about to close his eyes, lean in, and kiss the hell out of Joey Preston, Joey says in a choked voice, "If Bartolomeu is dying, would I be a horrible person if I had him euthanized?"

"Oh," Carson says in surprise. Talking about euthanasia is such a mood killer. "Well –"

"Because I don't want him to be in pain if he's going to die of whatever anyway." She swipes at her eyes discreetly. "But I would feel like I'm murdering him."

"Joey," Carson says softly. Suddenly, Carson's hand is moving of its own accord and wiping away a tear making its way down her smooth cheek. "You won't have to make that decision. Because no matter what the outcome is, I'll help you take care of Barty."

"I just feel like this might've been my fault." She closes her eyes and sniffles. "He's only a baby. He shouldn't be sick. I must've done something wrong and made some stupid mistake that's going to cost him his life."

Reaching across her, Carson opens the glove compartment and pulls out some Wendy's napkins for her to blow her nose. Then he shoots her a playful grin. "The only mistake you made was giving him that awful name."

She laughs and pushes him lightly. "You're such a jerk, Jennings."

"Let's just get Barty inside so we can criticize your naming skills later," Carson says, pulling Barty's carrier out of the back seat.

Breathing in fresh air, Carson happily notes that his heart has returned to a normal rate.

But he's still going to see a cardiologist.

Sometimes Carson's too nice for his own good. Well, except for that time this morning when he left Leggy Red Riding Hood the note on his ogre drawing. And that other time last week when he bought the last loaf of bread at the supermarket, even though that little old lady was totally going for it. And yesterday, when he didn't hold the elevator for some fat guy, who probably later had to take the stairs and henceforth suffered an aneurysm due to over exertion. But other than that, Carson is just a gem, especially right now, since he's suffering several battle scars from helping out the love of his life.

Wait, he didn't mean that. Carson merely meant that he was helping out . . . yeah, there really isn't a way to explain that.

But that still doesn't mean that Carson is in love.

Just in case anyone was wondering, you know? It might ruin his rep.

"Sorry about your arms." Joey actually sounds genuinely apologetic as she wipes the crimson blood oozing from the scratches in Carson's arms.

"Don't worry about it. It doesn't hurt at all." Carson shrugs his shoulders nonchalantly, even though he's kind of hyperventilating on the inside, and not because of Barty's scratches or the sight of blood.

Joey's touch is sending little electrical shocks through Carson's body, up through his arms, and straight to his brain, frying all the neurons and screwing up the delicate web of chemical processes. At least that's what Carson thinks. Why else would he be thinking crazy things like love and being in it with someone? Yeah, Carson's been in love before. But not with women. With sex? He's still in love with it. With himself? There's no question. With his first car? Okay, not his first car. That was a bad example. Carson's first car was a metal deathtrap that somehow transported him places only if driven under thirty miles an hour. And if Carson drove over thirty miles an hour or if he drove for longer than forty-five minutes, the engine would combust, and Carson would have to take out an old, ratty umbrella to beat the fire out. So Carson hated his first car. It was so not a ladies magnet, as he so obviously is.

But back to the point. Carson doesn't fall in love with people. He falls into a month-long (at most) interest with them, and then he sets his sights on a new person to be "interested" in. So why is he so hung up on little Joey Preston?

Maybe, Carson reasons as she continues to blot at the several scratches on his forearms, Joey is a practicing Wiccan, and she's performing voodoo rituals to make him fall in love with her. Yes, that must be it. Joey never hated Carson! She was always obsessed with him, and decided that she needed to find a way to keep Carson all to herself, so she proceeded to perform all sorts of rituals and sacrifices to make Carson fall under her spell.

Well, at least Carson realized Joey's devious plotting before he married her.

"I feel so relieved." Joey sighs happily and dumps some antiseptic on Carson's wounds. "I seriously thought that Barty was dying."

Carson resists the urge to put his arm around her, and not just because he might stain her pretty yellow shirt with his blood. She's a practicing Wiccan, after all. Carson, while pretty nonchalant on the religious front, doesn't really know if practicing Wicca beside his Wiccan (and admittedly beautiful) wife is all that high on his to do list. In fact, that one isn't there at all. He definitely would've remembered something about Wicca.

"How do cats even get upper respiratory infections anyway?" Carson asks, feeling mesmerized as he watches Joey's hands bandage his arms.

"No idea. You should ask your parents. Didn't you say that they're experts on cats?"Joey finishes bandaging Carson's arms and gently places them back in his lap. "Ask them, and tell me when you find out. Barty is my first cat."

"Right." Carson gives an uneasy laugh and scratches the back of his neck, feeling a little warm and uncomfortable. He wonders if she knows that he lied about his parents being cat people thing. She is a practicing Wiccan after all. And probably a stalker. It's a shame really, because Joey Preston is so pretty. She would've made a good wife.

Not Carson Jenning's wife though. Just a wife in general. Carson isn't getting married. He's going to be a 'playa-4-lif.' Yes, lif. He and his best friend wrote it when they were four. They also happened to be against the letter 'e' at the time because it's the fifth letter of the alphabet, and they were boycotting anything that was fifth or had to do with the number five. They were rather angry that they were still four years old and not five, hence the boycotting. They were under the impression that pretending that the number five didn't exist obliterated said number from existence. See, it's perfectly logical when you think about it.

Carson shifts around a bit more, feeling awkward. He's kind of hoping that Joey will invite him to stay for dinner because he doesn't want to go home in case Leggy Red Riding Hood didn't get the hint and skedaddle on out of his house. Plus there's also the chance that she drooled so much that she unintentionally drowned herself. And that is not something Carson wants to deal with. Corpses and drool always make him lose his appetite. Not that he ever dealt with the former. But he seriously doubts anyone thinks about mom's meatloaf if there's a corpse in the room.

Besides, Carson thinks he's earned himself a free meal. Honestly, he rushed away for Joey and her kitten, drove them to the vet's office, drove them home from the vet's office, and served as Barty's scratching post for a full five seconds. Carson is pretty sure that screams undying gratitude. But he'll settle with a free meal. If only someone offered it to him.

Because really, why does Joey think he's hanging around? Just to admire her beauty? Well, okay, he doesn't exactly mind, but he'd like a little grub. You know, it's a good thing Carson wasn't considering marrying Joey Preston. Because she'd be a terrible wife. Carson's not asking for a buffet (though he wouldn't mind one). Just a simple meal –

"So I'm making chicken stir fry for dinner tonight." Joey walks into her kitchen. "Wanna eat with me?"

"Sure. Need help?" Carson grins, following her into the kitchen.

All right, all right, he takes everything back.

There are times when Carson really hates himself. The times are few and far between, but they do happen.

Like that time in kindergarten, when he was too afraid to ask the teacher to go to the bathroom because he didn't know where it was, so he proceeded to pee in his pants, hoping no one would notice. It wasn't his best idea. Nor was it very covert. Especially since he happened to be standing in the middle of a large yellow puddle with wet spots on his jeans.

Then there was that other time, right before he started sixth grade. He wanted to look supremely cool (Carson didn't even really have to make an effort, but he was a little overachiever, even as a young eleven year old), so he decided to give himself a haircut. It wouldn't have been so bad if he had used scissors instead of his mother's razor blade. Carson didn't make the best first impression on the first day of school, to say the least.

And then in the summer before his senior year of high school, he went to visit his grandmother who lived in a little private community dedicated to the elderly. Carson's brother dared him to go skinny dipping at three in the morning in the community center's pool. Carson Jennings isn't the type of guy to back down from a dare, so of course he did it. It went rather well until a raccoon stole his clothes, so Carson had to run back to his grandmother's house stark naked. Not that Carson is afraid to show off anything down there, but it was just kind of wrong since Carson burst through his grandmother's door in all his naked glory just as she sat down with some ice-cream. While Cheaper by the Dozen was on. Carson and his grandmother don't talk about that moment.

And now, Carson truly despises himself. Because after having dinner with Joey, which was rather pleasant in case you were wondering, he finally went home. And he opened his door to find that Leggy Red Riding Hood did, in fact, leave. But first she took some Sharpies she found in his office, and drew an ogre on the wall that stretched from the ceiling to the floor. This ogre also had a large penis on his forehead. And she wrote Carson's name on said penis. Then she wrote, "ASSHOLE" and an arrow pointing to Carson's name, which, Carson would like to remind you, is on a penis. On an ogre's forehead.

Then she proceeded to write an array of swear words all over the rest of his walls, his cabinets, his furniture, and his plasma screen television. What a bitch.

Carson didn't really know what to do. And frankly, he was kind of scared that she really didn't leave, and that she was waiting for him in his room or something as equally creeptacular. So he just turned around, locked the door, and went back in his car, which, to his relief, did not have a drawing of an ogre with a penis on his forehead.

So that's why Carson hates himself. And why Carson is currently on his way back to Joey Preston's house. He's not going back to Joey's because he's in love with her. All his friends are . . . getting coffee. For several hours. They're coffee addicts. Extreme ones that need coffee twenty-four hours a day and subsequently spend those hours in coffee shops.

Like Carson said earlier, Carson Jennings doesn't fall in love, and especially not with women who are practicing Wiccans. Yeah, so Carson likes the way Joey's hair smells, and the way her laugh is all dorky sounding, and the way that she has that 'I-don't-need-a-man-to-be-happy-attitude.' And then there's also the thing where she makes up impossible scenarios, like she did during dinner, that just crack Carson up. But there are things he certainly does not like about Joey Preston. Like the way she makes him feel when she touches him, all tingly and nervous. It makes him think that he might actually care about her, even though he doesn't. He's just interested in her.

And that's only because she's a practicing Wiccan, so . . . he doesn't love her. End of story.

"You left a strange woman alone in your house?"

Carson nods.

Joey quirks an eyebrow. "And then you were surprised when you found out she trashed your house?"

"Well, yeah," Carson says after a moment of hesitation. He briefly considered telling her about the excessive drool, but decided against it.

"Jesus. You can be a real idiot sometimes, Carson." Joey walks away and Carson follows her quietly.

Joey opens a door and Carson follows her inside. He stops after walking several steps into the room.

Her bedroom.

Barty is sleeping in the middle of her queen sized bed, stirring slightly as they walk in. She has deep royal purple blankets on her bed and a large smiling bumblebee settled in with her pillows. Several picture frames hang on her walls. One is a family portrait – she has two sisters. Another is larger, a compilation of frames. Carson presumes that they are pictures of her friends. He doesn't expect to see a picture of himself on the wall, but somehow he still feels sad when he sees that there isn't a picture documenting his part in Joey Preston's life.

He suddenly comes to a realization:

Carson Jennings wants to be a part of Joey Preston's life.

As Carson stands in Joey Preston's room accepting his revelation, Joey turns around, startled.

"Jeez, you're such a creeper." Joey crosses her arms over her chest. "I didn't know you were following me. What if I came in here to masturbate or something?"

Okay. Now, Carson really can't deny it. After hearing her say that . . . Carson is pretty sure that he's in extreme like with Joey. Which some foolhardy idiot might describe as love. But Carson's a realist. That's how he figured out that Joey Preston is a practicing Wiccan, after all. See, Carson is one smart cookie.

"Hey, you wanna masturbate, go right ahead." Carson shrugs his shoulders passively. "I don't judge."

Joey rolls her eyes and heaves a thick comforter out of her closet. It has a floral pattern.

"You're sleeping on the couch tonight, buddy, so don't get any ideas," Joey says, glaring slightly.

"Don't look at me. You're the one we've gotta watch out for since apparently you masturbate all the time," Carson says, following her back into the living room.

"It was just an example, Jennings. I don't masturbate all the time."

"So you masturbate some of the time?"

She throws the comforter onto her plush black couch. "You are insufferable."

Carson is about to point out that she didn't deny that she masturbates some of the time when something inside him just changes. Maybe it's the way the light behind her makes her golden hair glow ethereally. Maybe it's the way her pajama pants are sitting low on her hips and her shirt is just a few inches too short. Or maybe it's just the fact that Carson Jennings has finally admitted that he's in . . . extreme like with Joey Preston.

Carson really doesn't have the time or patience to figure it out, so instead he reaches out for her face with both hands and kisses her. And with the way her hands are running up and down his chest, Carson is pretty sure Joey likes it. Well, Carson doesn't really want to brag but he is a rather good kisser. Okay, so he's an amazing kisser. There are times to be modest, and this is certainly not one of them.

Especially because things are getting pretty hot and heavy. Carson's hands are roaming, rubbing sensual patterns into Joey's soft skin. Their bodies are pressed tightly together, and then they're moving until they hit a wall. Carson braces his hands against the wall and leans down, trailing butterfly kisses across Joey's jaw and down her neck. Her hands go under Carson's shirt and swiftly lift it over his head.

"Carson," Joey sighs, running her fingers through Carson's thick black hair.

Carson takes Joey's face in his hands, taking in her flushed cheeks and hazel eyes, dark with desire. But before he can continue kissing her, he finds himself doing something incredibly stupid.

"Joey, I think I'm in love with you," he whispers huskily.

"Huh?" Joey asks, blinking.

The statement surprises Carson as well. "Oh, shit, I can't believe I just said that." Carson disentangles himself from Joey and covers his face with his hands, groaning.

"So I wasn't hallucinating. Carson Jennings just said the L word to me, right?" Joey asks, looking incredibly smug.

Carson groans again, running a hand through his hair. "Hey, can we not get all girly about this?"

"Listen, I was just trying to make sure I wasn't imagining things. You're being the drama queen here."

Carson narrows his eyes slightly. "So . . . you're not going to obsess over it?"

"Does it look like I'm obsessing?" Joey rolls her eyes and pulls her top down, which had ridden up slightly during their activities.

"Oh, well, fine then." Carson leans in to continue kissing Joey, but he pulls back abruptly. "Hold on a second. Don't you have anything to say to me?"

Joey laughs. "Now who's being girly?"

"Hey, if we're gonna do this, I think you should admit your undying love for me sometime around . . . now." Carson looks up from his bare wrist and gives Joey an expectant look.

"I'm not a 'grand gesture' kind of girl." Joey smirks, and places her delicate, girly hands on her hips.

"I'm pretty sure I made the grand gesture about forty-something seconds ago," Carson says, crossing his arms across his chest coolly and smirking.

"That was your grand gesture?" Joey snorts with laughter.

"What was wrong with it?" Carson asks, sounding defensive. His eyebrows furrow with silent worry. He always thought he was a pretty suave guy.

"Well, after your 'profession of love' you said, 'Oh, shit, I can't believe I just said that,'" Joey says in a high pitched voice akin to that of a chipmunk's. "Last time I checked, there was no swearing during grand gestures."

"Okay, first of all," Carson holds out one finger for emphasis, "my voice is not that high. And second of all, I was reinventing the grand gesture. The whole flower petals everywhere and scented candles burning and Barry White crooning love ballads in the background thing is so overrated. Besides, hasn't your grandmother ever told you that the simple things in life are often the best? My grandma said that to me all the time. Literally. She said it every time I saw her. So why don't you just appreciate it, huh?"

"Fine, whatever," Joey rolls her eyes.

"Yeah, I'm still waiting on some reciprocation here." Carson reaches forward to tug on a lock of Joey's hair.

"Oh, fine, you big ego maniac baby. Um," Joey looks up at the ceiling, searching for the right words. "You're hot."


"Are you making fun of my grand gesture?"

"That was your grand gesture?" Carson asks incredulously. "At least mine had the word love in it!"

Joey grins maniacally. "You're really hot."

"That was not any better."

"You are such a little girl, Jennings," Joey says, putting her arms around his neck and pecking him on the lips.

Carson grins and leans in, kissing her again. "I am actually a very manly man who can seduce women with just one glance."

"With your hypnotic blue eyes, I assume?"

Carson stares at Joey in amazement before kissing her again. "Now that was a grand gesture."

"So you consider grand gestures to be compliments of your specific features?" Joey asks smirking again.

"Pretty much, yeah," Carson lies.

He decides not to let Joey in on his little insecurity. Because Carson Jennings, to the outside world at least, doesn't have insecurities.

So, okay, maybe Carson Jennings is the kind of guy who falls in love. And perhaps he is the kind of guy who can commit to a life of monogamy (after his run-in with Leggy Red Riding Hood, this is no longer a difficult feat). And maybe he's even a cat person (as long as Barty doesn't start jumping on his head, everything will be okay).

But Carson Jennings does not, repeat, not have piercing blue eyes.

Just saying.

Woot woot! Done!

This was a small change from what I usually write. It's still incredibly puerile and it's still lacking deep meanings that make readers ponder life. But it's in third person. I found it fun to write from this point of view, which surprised me since I usually find third person to be impersonal. But I liked it.

The plot is kinda weird, and I'm not over the moon with how Joey and Carson finally got together. But I've been working on this thing for almost two months because I never get time to write anymore, and I just kinda wanna get it out there.

Carson entertained me a lot, and I'm hoping he'll entertain you :D

Until next time, my lovies!