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Authors: TJ Klune

Tell Me It's Real (9 page)

BOOK: Tell Me It's Real
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“Ix-nay!” I hissed at him. “Ix-nay!” I didn’t know why I resorted to Pig Latin right then. It just seemed like the thing to do.

He ignored me as he scowled at Sandy. “You should apologize.”

Sandy’s eyes narrowed. “Listen, pretty boy. You better back the fu—” He caught himself and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. When he opened his eyes again, Helena was gone from them and he smiled weakly at me. “You okay, baby doll?”

I nodded, wondering what the fuck was going on that Vince was trying to be my knight in shining Versace while my best friend had backed down from a hissy fit when his alter ego had been looming heavily in his eyes. This was turning out to be a very weird Monday.

And, oddly, I couldn’t help but notice how Vince’s hand on my shoulder tightened at the words “baby doll.”

“Okay,” Sandy said, picking up his bag that was really a purse, but we pretended it wasn’t. “I’ll tell you what. I need to go get some fresh air before lunch is over, so I’m just going to start walking back to work now. You going to be okay?” A certain wickedness returned in the curve of his lips.

I nodded, unable to open my mouth to beg and scream for him to not leave me alone with a masturbatory fantasy (not that I’d gone that far… yet). I could tell when he saw the words I wasn’t saying but ignored them regardless. He slid his man bag (
Your stupid purse!
I thought savagely since he was leaving me behind.
Your lady’s purse, you big homo!
) over his shoulder and looked at Vince, still standing with his hand on my shoulder, the grip even tighter. “Thank you,” he said quietly. “For helping my friend.”

He nodded, a tentative smile on his face.

Then Helena returned in full force, rising up out of the dark. She stepped over, moving like smooth liquid, her hips rolling. The change was startling. “But,” she said in a deep growl, “you do anything to hurt him? Sugar, I will tear you apart until your insides are on the outside. We understand each other?”

Vince’s eyes widened just a bit, but he nodded, his jaw tightening. I wanted to ask which one of them was going to piss on me first, but then I realized two things: first, they probably wouldn’t even hear me as they were too focused on each other; and two, I was not into watersports. Why would you let someone pee on you to get you off? That’s so fucking gross!

Helena seemed to be appeased like a volcano god receiving a virgin sacrifice and went back to sleep. Sandy leaned in and kissed me on the cheek, lingering maybe just a little bit longer than normal. He pulled away with an audible smack of his lips, gave Vince one more look, and turned, walking away with a perfect swish to his hips.

And then I was alone with Mr. Yes Please himself. Me. Paul Auster. With Dimples.

I was just a bit nervous, to say the least.

Okay, okay. So. First things first. Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh! Second thing: I should probably say “thank you” for saving my life. Say it and then follow it up with something funny like… okay. Spinach joke. Spinach joke. Shit. Um… Oh, I know! What do anal sex and spinach have in common? If you’re forced to have either as a child, you won’t want it as an adult. Holy fucking Christ. What the fuck is wrong with me? There is no way I can make a spinach/molesting joke! I am a monster. Think of something else. Think of

“Thank you,” I mumbled, not able to think of anything else to say.

Vince looked at me. He was taller than me, maybe by an inch or two, so he had to angle his eyes down. His big brown eyes. His pretty, huge brown eyes that looked like chocolate. I realized I was standing far too close when I could feel his breath on my face and I could see my reflection in his irises. I had a deer-in-the-headlights look on my face, and apparently a little piece of spinach still on my lip. I looked away and not very discreetly wiped my face with my hand.

“What’d you say?” he asked.

I cleared my throat. “I said thank you,” I tried again, a little louder. “You know. For helping me to live.”
didn’t sound overtly dramatic. Like at all.
“Erm. What I meant to say was, you were pretty fast there. You know, with your hands.”
Oh great. Now you’re calling him a whore.
“Er. What I meant to say was you have chocolate eyes.”
Shut up! Shut up!
“And do you know what anal sex and spinach have in common?”
For the love of God, close your fucking mouth!

I closed my mouth.

He stared at me.

I took a step back and he dropped his hand. I wondered if I should inhale more spinach so I could actually choke to death so I’d be put out of my misery. It would be so much easier than standing here in front of him and having him think I was bursting from my cocoon as a mentally disabled giraffe. I turned to pick up my phone and wallet, wanting to get the hell out of there. I couldn’t believe it’d gotten this far. I felt punchy and maybe my eyes burned a bit. I didn’t know. I just wanted to leave.

“Paul,” Vince said, his voice kind.

“What?” I grumbled.

“Where you going?”

“Back to work. I have work to do.”

“Wanna have lunch with me?”

I would have your babies if you asked.
“I’m kind of busy.” That, and the fact that I suddenly couldn’t get the image out of my head of that twinkie Eric grinding up against him or of Bear Dude grabbing a handful of his ass and Vince seeming to enjoy it while I hid in the shadows of my tower.

“Paul,” he tried again.

“What?” I snapped at him. I was
outside my comfort zone. I didn’t talk well with people I didn’t know, and even worse, hot guys I didn’t know. I felt awkward, and I’d already made an ass out of myself in front of him. In addition, my best friend had queened out and basically threatened to disembowel him if he hurt me, like we were dating or something. Talk about embarrassing.
He probably feels sorry for me and wants to make me his project.

He looked kind of glum. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to,” he said, almost pouting. He saw me watching and unbelievably, stuck out his bottom lip and sighed forlornly, playing the hurt up so well that Helena would have been proud.

“Oh, no,” I told him. “You don’t get to do stuff like that, looking the way you do. That’s not fair.”

He grinned. Dimples returned. I wanted to poke them. “And how do I look?” he asked.

I rolled my eyes. “I’m not going to feed your ego. Your obvious narcissism looks good enough for the both of us.”

“My what?” he asked, his smile never fading, but a look of confusion coming over his eyes.

“Never mind,” I muttered.

“You know,” he said, turning serious, “there’s a saying that once you save someone’s life, that you’re responsible for it. It’s an old… African chant.”

I gaped at him. “African?”

He nodded. “From Africa.”

“That’s a Chinese proverb. Not an African chant.”

“What’s Chinese?” he asked, further confused.

“What you said about saving someone’s life. That’s Chinese.”

He shrugged. “I don’t speak Asian. I want to go there, though. One day.”

“To Asia?”

He nodded.

“Where in Asia?”

“The Asian places,” he explained, dead serious. “I’ve always wondered if the fortune cookies taste different there.”

Kinda what I thought. Very, very pretty, but not exactly bursting with brains. I didn’t know if that made me feel better or not. “Fortune cookies,” I said slowly.

He nodded. “You know, those cookies that have the little pieces of paper in them? Sometimes they just give you numbers for some reason, but other times you get ones that say things, like, ‘Your beauty helps make the world go round.’”

“You got a fortune cookie that told you you’re beautiful?”

He nodded. “It was kind of weird, but I just rolled with it. I seem to get those a lot for some reason.”

“Maybe because you’re beautiful?” I blurted out, unable to stop myself.

Vince grinned at me and blushed a little. So unfair. “You think I’m beautiful?”

I winced. “That wasn’t what I meant to say.”

“Oh, so you
think that.”

I blushed. “It’s not… ugh. Shut up.”

His smile widened before he narrowed his eyes and scowled toward the front of the restaurant. “Was that your boyfriend?” he growled.

The conversation felt like the equivalent of whiplash. “My what now?”

“That guy. Who kissed you. That you spit on. You seem to do that a lot, by the way. Was that your boyfriend?”

?” I said incredulously. “No! Er. No. That’s my best friend. You’ve seen him before. We’re not dating. We’re not together. I mean, we tried it once, but it didn’t work out. I kissed him yesterday just to make sure, and there was nothing.”

His scowl turned to me. “You kissed him yesterday?”

“Yeah. Dude, you know him already. You’ve seen him before.”

“What?” He looked adorably confused again, and I hated myself for using words like
to describe him. I was pretty sure I was about to flop my vagina on the table.

“That’s Helena Handbasket.”

“The drag queen?”


“But… he looks so
as a man.”

I shuddered. “Don’t let him hear you say that. Helena will come out before you know it, and that bitch is fierce. This one time, some big leather daddy tried to start some shit with him, and then Helena came out to play, and the daddy ended up on his knees with a collar around his neck, apologizing to Sandy, who held him on a leash. They ended up dating for two weeks, but then it ended because Sandy figured out she wasn’t meant to be a Dom.”

He watched me for a moment, looking for what, I don’t know. I couldn’t read the expression on his face. I didn’t know if he was still with me or if something I’d said had confused him. I felt like a jackass then, at least a little bit.

And then he spoke, and I understood that he wasn’t confused per se, he was just still stuck on a point a few turns in the conversation back. “So
you have a boyfriend?” he asked. “Or a partner or whatever?”

I started getting nervous and shy again, but I allowed myself a brief moment to feel awesome about myself when I realized I’d been having a conversation with him for, like, five minutes. Even if I’d told a pedophile joke, it seemed to be going better than I ever thought it would. This, of course, caused me to shut down just a bit further.

I looked down at my feet. “No,” I mumbled.

,” he said, sounding extraordinarily relieved. “Can I take you to dinner?”

“Uh. What?”

“Din-ner,” he said slowly, as if I was stupid. “Can. I. Take. You. Out?”

I was starting to get defensive. “Why?”

His brow furrowed. “Because I want to. Don’t you want to go with me?”

“Guys like you don’t go out with guys like me.”

He looked me up and down as if trying to figure out what I was talking about. I wasn’t wearing my nicest dress clothes, but I thought I looked okay this morning. But standing next to him now made me realize I probably looked like a homeless albino who found these clothes in the sewers. “What’s wrong with you?” he asked finally. “You sick or something?”

“Sick? What? I’m not sick.”

His eyes widened, and he looked around quickly before leaning forward to whisper, “You
gay, right?” He was sort of pensive at this.

“Way gay,” I reassured him. “Like, super gay. I fart and rainbows come out.”
Oh, crap.

He rocked his head back and laughed, a delicious sound that was deep and gravelly. I wanted to lick a line up his exposed throat, but I didn’t think the rest of the restaurant wanted to see that. Besides, I didn’t think he’d want it, either, even if he was presently confusing the shit out of me.

“Can you please ignore what I just said?” I asked desperately. “I don’t fart. Ever.”

He shook his head, wiping the tears from his eyes. “You said it, so it’s out there, man. You are something else. I knew you would be, right when I first saw you.”

“You did?” I squeaked, unsure if that was a good or bad thing.

He smiled a lazy smile that screamed insane possibilities. “So… dinner?”

And then it hit me, what this probably was, and I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it before, or even thought of it, especially with the fact that he was at the club with Darren and his group, the biggest bunch of assholes in the history of the world. They were such pretentious pricks that I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten he was there with that group to begin with.

“You’re Freddie Prinze Junioring me, aren’t you?” I accused him, slight anger in my voice.

“I don’t even know what that means,” he reassured me, not perturbed in the slightest.

I scowled at him. How could he
know? Then I realized that not everyone knows the things that go through my head, so I had to give him the benefit of the doubt. “Freddie Prinze Junior? The actor, probably the greatest one of his generation? He was in that movie
She’s All That.

He shrugged. “Never seen it.”

“Whatever. In the movie, he’s a cool popular jockish dude who makes a bet with his cool popular jockish friends that he can turn the most unattractive girl in school into prom queen. He only asks her out because he’s an asshole, at least at first. Then the girl goes through life-changing things for him and gets to go to prom with Freddie Prinze Junior, but she finds out about his bet and he realizes too late that that he loves her. She breaks up with him because he shouldn’t have made the stupid bet to begin with!”

“I thought you were thirty?” he asked me, baffled.

he would bring that up. “I
thirty,” I said with a sneer.

“Then why do you want to go to prom?”

prom?” I asked, throwing my hands up in the air. What the fuck was he talking about? He was
missing the point.

BOOK: Tell Me It's Real
2.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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