“Why do you irritate me intentionally? And please stop following me halfway down the interstate if you hate me!”
Kin’s wicked smile, almost wolfish in appearance, spread across his face like he was so glad I asked. He darted eyes to Ian now standing in the standard male-versus-male stance. “Your boyfriend here could tell you a few things if he’d talk. Having trouble with that still, tree boy?” He gestured to Ian.
Tears spring up out of my eyes. My throat closed up. “His name is IAN! Say it. Not too hard for your pea brain!”
“No pea-sized anything coming from here, babe!” He flexed his hugeness in front of me assuming I would be impressed with the whole package. “You will be mine, Grace. One way or another.”
I hated the reference to Ian and the word boyfriend in one sentence, but was accustomed to it since everyone saw us together all the time. I wondered sometimes if that’s the real reason Caylie had distanced herself from the two of us. I wasn’t dumb. Ignoring the “boyfriend” comment I told him the same words from earlier through gritted teeth very slowly, “Buzz off!”
He huffed and stomped out the revolving Rec Center doors with a finger to his temple aimed my direction. “You have two days tree boy. After that, she’s mine.”
He mumbled loud enough for me to hear, “Parting is such sweet sorrow. Soon!” He turned and said cruelly, “Very soon, Queen of the Damned.”
“Corrosively rude!” I shouted. If you swallow evil words left unsaid, one only harms his stomach. Sir Winston Churchill. I tried to practice this regularly, but Kin was such pure evil. And I never said aloud my profound wisdom-like advice. Who’d liste? Not those who need it.. Add this to my five-alarm fire list of the ten worst days of my life.
Behind me the thin, not much bigger than a matchstick lady, Gladys was showing a flashy curved O with her dentures half hanging out. I recomposed myself enough to tell the ladies I would make sure Ian got me home safe and they could go. They all hugged and left with arms waving to and fro in a hissy with the night’s events. I caught the tail end of Gladys saying, “…when I get my hands on him, I’ll…” and she disappeared halfway out the door. Her friend Helga nodded and responded to Gladys, “She should hook up with the cute one who comes with her. He’s a dreamboat.”
She just called Ian a dreamboat. I stood there watching the door, not wanting to face Ian with all my failure to hold myself together. Ian always seemed to me as if he was older in years than he really was. He was proactive and made it look easy to solve anything.
“Just ignore him. He’s just trying to get to you.” Ian turned me around with a swift, but gentle tug on my arm. I’d been standing so stiff I nearly tumbled into him when he pulled. Like playing the game “Trust” when we were in third grade.
“Sorry!” I said as I stepped on his foot. He just smiled. I silently asked if he would please not smile like that for I can’t focus when he does. He dropped the smile. Hey!
“I’m okay. Years of practice. I’ll just never understand his obsession with me. What happens in two days?”
Ian didn’t comment or answer the question. He picked up my things on the table, placed them neatly in my bag, and gestured for me to go. I watched him do all this and then follow out the door.
The rest of the Rec workers followed behind. After the in house library ladies felt the need to give me their enchanting motherly pep talks to stay away from the one person I tried very hard to stay away from, I thanked them and proceeded to the outer doors.
Through the final front door I reminded Ian, “Saved again, I know!” Not the least bit upset by him doing it, I tried to sound annoyed by waving my hand up flat in the air towards him.
“Do you not want to be saved?”
I turned too fast not realizing how close he was following and ran into him. “Sorry! No! Yes! I mean—“
”Yes!” he stepped back. Dropping my shoulders at not hiding my emotions better, I was too obvious lately. Well, actually I was really good at hiding them from everyone else except Ian. He tipped my chin as a slow grin crept across his face. I gasped at the touch, but stopped it midway biting my bottom lip. “Yes, you want to be saved?” he tipped my head up and down slowly watching my lips. “No, you don’t? Which one?” His hand stayed there tipping my head side to side.
This isn’t how best friends act. He is just teasing me because he’s figured out my heart drops to my stomach every time he’s present. And he touched me. I did the one thing I felt hid my feelings well, I rolled my eyes, shrugged my shoulders, and told a lie. “Yes, I like that you save me from Kin. But no, I shouldn’t always need to be saved. I can take care of myself.”
“Can you?” he simply said.
Anger rose in me, “Yes! Patronizing me doesn’t win me over either. I could have handled him without you.”
He wanted to argue the point, but it wouldn’t help matters. He knew this about me. He shrugged, “You’re right. You’re stronger than I give credit. I was just trying to protect you. Am I…winning you over?”