Chapter 1

The guy at the table one over from where I was sitting was really starting to annoy me.

As if I wasn't already mad because my laptop kept choosing to either freeze up, cut completely off, or go completely black and force me to hold down the power button (unhealthy, I know) to completely reboot it, this guy and his friend were talking, but he was talking extremely loud, loud enough for the whole place to hear his side of the conversation. I never even heard his friend say a word. Most of us were here, in the Paperback Cafe, the coffee shop/hang out/study area of my favorite book store Bookends, for the free wifi and to study in peace and mostly quiet (the muzak could get annoying, and since it was the beginning of November they were already playing Christmas music, but none of the good stuff). I understood that people were going to talk to each other, but I had in my earbuds and was trying to watch Netflix and/or listen to music louder than the cafe had playing, and I could still hear him.

I suppose this would have been the ideal night to go one more block down to Starbucks, but at Starbucks I felt obligated to buy something even if I was just there for the wifi. Here, the baristas around the counter couldn't see everyone sitting down, and it was a bookstore too, so even though they had a buy one get one free coffee deal for two hours every night you didn't necessarily have to buy anything.

It wasn't even the loudness. That I could handle. His voice was just really annoying. It was nasally and high pitched (I pretty much convinced myself he was gay, and having multiple gay best friends, I have a pretty decent gaydar). And I knew he was talking about me to his friend when his voice got quiet, because whenever my computer went berserk again I would look over at the counter where the baristas were blending frappuchinos, because the prominent smell of coffee was greatly tempting me but I had no money, so I was trying to contain myself.

He must have got the wrong message and thought I was looking at him and checking him out (NEVER). Because when I FINALLY got my computer to come back up and Netflix to load so I could finish the last two minutes of my movie in peace, someone plopped down in the arm chair next to mine and said, "Are you okay?"

It was him. I wanted to roll my eyes, but I'm not a mean person. "Fine. My computer just keeps freezing." I had no choice but to talk to him now because my computer had frozen once again and if I just stared at the screen I would seem socially awkward, which I wasn't. I just didn't tolerate people bothering me when I was clearly in the middle of something. He was just lucky I wasn't doing homework.

I didn't understand. I just had the motherboard replaced in the spring. My laptop obviously had a deathwish, because it was obviously doing this because it knew this person wanted to talk to me.

"I can look at it and maybe fix it. What kind of computer is it?"

"Dell." Maybe if I just gave one word replies he would leave me alone. Don't get the impression that I'm not friendly, I am, as long as you're not being a thorn in my side. Plus, how creepy is that? My life was not a Taylor Swift song, "On a Wednesday in a cafe, I watched it begin again." No. I could relate to my fair share of her lyrics, but this guy was obviously trying to start something and I was way too busy and had way too many high standards for a relationship.

"Oh. Never mind. I don't know much about Dells."

"Cool." I wanted to ask why he had abandoned his friend at that table over there. That was really rude, and if the situation were reversed and I was the one going to hit on a random guy, my friends would either come with me or I'd go right back over there after the initial confrontation.

He leaned over the arm of both his arm chair and mine so that he was all in my air space, and looking at my computer screen, which I again found really rude and way too intrusive. I was so close to punching him.

Then, while I browsed Facebook because you never knew what would pop up on Tumblr, he stared at my face and continued staring. He was already close enough to my face, and he wasn't even attractive. I know looks aren't everything and I'm not that shallow. He had curly light brown hair, which wasn't a trait I was picky about, and golden brown eyes with freckles and a crooked nose as if he'd broken it many times. But the voice was something else. If I can't see myself falling asleep to your voice because it's annoying or even girly, that is a problem. I kind of felt like saying, "You're gay, why are you here creeping on me?" but then I would be the rude one and that wasn't me.

"Has anyone ever told you you have the most gorgeous eyes?" he asked.

"Yes, but thanks anyway."

It seemed that the only guys that ever hit on me were the creepy desperate ones. There was one, the only guy I was ever head over heels in love with, but he didn't feel the same way. And the super cute guy that worked in the shoe department at the store one over hit on me and my friends whenever we came in, even though we never bought anything because it was way expensive. But even since middle school the only guys who pursued me nonstop were the ones who I would never consider dating, the ones who would text me every hour no matter how many times I ignored them, the ones that asked me out over and over no matter how many times I said NO. I was sick of it. I just wanted one relationship with a normal guy who would flirt but also play hard to get, one guy I could flirt back with where I would have to PLAY hard to get instead of actually being completely serious and hard to get. I still wasn't completely over the one guy I had that kind of relationship with no matter how much I told myself I was.

I never understood this. I was pretty and attractive, I knew that-well, when I made myself presentable, but not really tonight. I did not straighten my hair so it was a frizzy bird's nest (and I really wanted to dye it dark brown again, but that was only a minor detail), I only put on eyeliner-and in a moment of stupidity the raccoon-eye to boot-instead of my normal all-over makeup to make my skin not pale and cover the left over acne scars-my new acne treatment was working against breakouts, but the scars from my high school years were still there- and dark circles under my eyes (and of course bronzer to make my nose look smaller)-and normally I sucked in my just-a-little-pregnant-looking belly and wore flattering clothes. Today I was only wearing a Hello Kitty t-shirt that was slightly too small and skinny jeans, and in the position I was sitting my belly was visible. But when I tried, I was gorgeous (mostly. I tried to see myself that way, because I used to be really self-conscious and had hated everything about myself at one point). So why had I only been hit on by a few sexy guys, but only asked out by the creepy stalkers?

And when I say stalkers, I wasn't exaggerating. One guy was so bad I couldn't sleep at night because I thought I'd look out my window and see him standing there watching me.

And the one super attractive guy that had the best personality ever and that I actually got along with didn't want to wait until we could date and ripped my heart out, but no other guy had ever compared to him since.

"No, seriously," he continued. "You have the most gorgeous eyes I've ever seen." This seemed like something out of a Sarah Dessen book, except we were in a cafe instead of a dealership, and Dexter was a cute kind of annoying and not plain creepy. But that would make me Remy, and I was starting to feel a lot like being coldhearted.

"Well, thanks." I continued looking at Facebook, then switched to Tumblr. Go away, go away, let me watch my shows on Netflix. How annoying can you get?

Now he was looking at my computer again. "I'm Mark." He stuck out his hand. I didn't want to be impolite, so I shook it.

"Kiera." I don't wanna be a priss, I'm just trying to be polite, but it always seems to bite me in the... the song ran through my head. So so relevant.

"Nice to meet you, Kiera."

I pretty much tuned him out after that. He asked me about my interests, and I would reply naming a few of my favorite bands or shows or animes, then he would go on about how he just got out of a relationship a month ago, how he just bought some-probably illegal-weapons (supposed to impress me ostensibly), how his friend thought he was trying to move in on his girl, but why would he be here talking to me if that were the case? And wasn't it just fate that we would meet here like this? (No. You should have stayed with your friend, who at this point, about an hour after this Mark character sat down beside me, hitched a ride from someone else and left. Rude.) And he loved to cook and I should come over to his house next week and he would cook for me. I would pretend to listen to all this, nodding and yeahing at appropriate moments (because I was a counseling major and that's what I did) and inserting small comments when he gave me room to talk. It was inching on two hours now, and since it was obvious I wasn't going to get to finish watching my stuff, I wanted to leave so bad.

"Here," he handed me his phone. "Put your number in." Ask me for my number, yeah you put me on the spot. You think that we should hook up but I think that we should not.I had a strict rule about giving certain guys my number: don't. The creepy ones always texted day and night. But I have trouble saying no to people, even people I don't really like and even if I knew I would totally regret it. So I put my number in. "I'll text you right now so you can have my number. And you have beautiful eyes. You're probably sick of hearing that by now."

"Nope," I said, because compliments were always a self confidence boost, no matter who they came from. "Except I look like crap today because I didn't put makeup on." My phone vibrated.

"No you don't. Girls don't even need makeup. And you have a great figure." Yeah, now instead of my eyes staring at my D-cups no doubt. Not to mention my baby fat that was hanging out.

Hello you have pretty eyes. Oh dear God. Yes, yes I was sick of it.

"Got it," I said, turning my attention back to my laptop as he continued on about college and tattoos-I had one, he had none-and how he wanted one really bad and how we should go get one together because I wanted another one and-"You look pretty busy," he said, finally noticing my disinterest.

Stupid me, I said, "I'm listening."

"So do you have plans tomorrow night?" My heart didn't jump at the thought of seeing him again like it did with the guy who worked next door. In your case? I always have plans.

"Actually I'm going to the movies with a friend tomorrow night."

"Well I could keep you company and maybe make the movie a little better." I doubted that.

"We'll see."

"Just text me and let me know when y'all are going. I get off work at 5 tomorrow night."


"My mom is texting me. I should go."

"Yeah me too," I said as quickly as possible. Thankfully I didn't have to work in the morning so I could stay up late and sleep in.

"Well, I'll walk you out to your car." Great. He seemed like a nice enough guy. He could be a good friend, but that was obviously not what he was after. And I didn't mind guys hitting on me, but basically planning our wedding and the number of children the first time you lay eyes on me? I sighed.

It was pretty frigid outside, but I said nothing as I led the way to my small beat up car. "Bye."

"'Night," he said, and-the awkward cherry on top of the whole awkward cake-leaned in for a hug. I could not get out of there fast enough.

Let me know if you want me to continue!