I am Devotee

What I really wanted to do was jam the damn thing into his eye.

“Quit staring.”

Maybe I would just snap it in two and take out both of his pretty little eyeballs in one fell swoop.

“You’re being a creep again.”

Okay. What I really, really wanted to do was repeatedly stab his retinas to shit, throw my scalding hot coffee in his generically handsome face, and call it a night. But that would be a such waste of five dollars.

So instead, I twirled the wooden stir stick through my drink one last time before gently setting it down atop the napkin. “And you’re being a dickhead,” I countered calmly, raising my voice just enough for the next table over to hear. “Again.”

“He’s not even your type.”

I slapped my palm against the tabletop. It wasn’t that loud. I have really small hands.  “Oh, and what exactly is my type?” My head whipped back and I narrowed my eyes at him. “You?”

“Jesus Christ, don’t make a scene,” he sighed in exasperation, climbing right up onto his high horse. “Just relax, will you?”

“Then just drop it, will you?” I hissed back through gritted teeth.

“You’re way out of his league, babe,” he continued with a self-righteous smirk. As if I was supposed to accept that as a compliment or something. “Just saying.”

“I’m not your babe.” I rolled my eyes. “And don’t start lecturing me on that socioeconomic bullshit again.”

“The guy has a mohawk,” he scoffed disdainfully. As if certain hairstyles were some sort of punishable crime against humanity.

“I think it adds character.”

Character?” He chuckled, in the sarcastic way that only a well-seasoned douchebag with a stick shoved the entire way up his ass could chuckle. “He’s covered in tattoos, for fuck’s sake.”

Matching his smug smile with one of my own, I imitated a fainting spell and crooned, “Oh, I just love tattoos.”

100% true.

That earned me a less-than-civilized snort. “Since when?”

“Since I decided that I might convince him to show me exactly where all of his are,” I purred suggestively, taking great pleasure in the anger contorting dickhead’s modelesque features.

Slamming a fist down on the table, he stood up. It was pretty loud. He has really big hands.

“Jesus Christ, don’t make a scene,” I mimicked in my sweetest, most patronizing voice. “Just relax, will you?”

Dickhead simply stood there, towering over me in silence. He was either trying to be intimidating or was wracking his pea-sized brain for what to say next. Neither seemed to be working all that well for him.

“You’re embarrassing yourself right now,” I giggled quietly, craning my neck to look up at him with a satisfied grin. “Just saying.”

He started to vibrate. Like a frickin’ Rabbit Habit with brand new batteries. Not that he was ever getting anywhere near where I’d happily put a Rabbit Habit…

“You’re fucking insane,” he growled at last, the corner of his mouth curling up derisively, making an otherwise attractive face unbearably sickening to look at. “Do you really think he’ll still want in your pants after he finds out that you’re a fucking creep?”

Oh, wow.

I laughed out loud. I couldn’t help myself. The irony was just too much to take. “Well, you already know that I’m a creep,” I reminded him cheekily. “And you still want in my pants.”

“Fuck you.”

“Thanks, but I’d rather not.” I shrugged nonchalantly, letting my eyes drift back to sexy tattoo guy. “I’d much rather fuck some of the sexiness over there.”

And that is the surefire way to get rid of any man. You don’t argue with him or yell. Being loud isn’t the key. Because you can’t possibly wage a volume war and expect to win against men. They kind of have us beat in the vocal cords department.

Quietly attacking their ego is the key.

Egos are like Jenga. You simply have to remove that one strategic block near the bottom and the whole stash comes crashing down. The bigger the ego, the higher up the man sitting on top of it, and the further down he has to plummet once it’s deflated.

Given, it wasn’t the prettiest thing to watch, albeit entertaining. I mean, he sort of stormed out while throwing the male equivalent of a hissy fit. The whole thing was a bit contrived, really. Not to mention, he spilled my precious coffee during his melodramatic exit.

But hey, at least he was gone, right?

It took me three trips to clean up the mess left behind by dickhead. Okay, I could’ve easily done it in two trips, but sexy tattoo guy was situated next to the trash can. So I stretched it into three.

I literally spent the next ten minutes circling his personal space. Like a predator in the wild. Or a stalker in real life. Maybe dickhead had a valid point about the creep thing after all. I was going to get myself arrested.

Except he didn’t seem to notice me. Not even when I “accidently” bumped into his table. I didn’t do it gently either if the residual twinge stinging my hipbone was any indication.

It was highly disappointing.

Honestly, I was getting so desperate for ideas that the thought even crossed my mind to orchestrate a direct collision in order to gain his attention. Too bad he was tucked up against the wall, so I would’ve had to dive over the table and tackle him for that plan to work.

I seriously considered it, though.

And then, when I had just tossed my final handful of coffee-stained napkins into the trash and was hopelessly attempting to drum up any plausible excuse for a fourth visit…

“Why don’t you just ask?”

I froze and slowly turned toward him, wide-eyed.

His hands were cradled around a coffee cup, fingers laced together. Steam was gently rising up through a small hole in the plastic lid.

“I’m sorry.” I attempted to ignore the butterflies fluttering in my stomach and smiled politely, despite the fact that he still wasn’t looking at me. “Did you say something?”

His gaze remained downcast. He simply said, “T12.”

I must have misheard him. Or been daydreaming. Or hallucinating. “Pardon me?”

“Paraplegic,” he clarified in a matter-of-fact tone. Calm. Cool. Composed.

The deep hum of his voice sent a cascade of shivers down my spine.

“I crashed my motorbike doing a backflip I’d done a hundred times before.”

My mouth went dry in an instant. I grabbed onto the backrest of the empty chair for support because sure enough, my knees buckled beneath me.

He was all sorts of gorgeous up close. And deliciously covered in tattoos. Even sexier than he had looked from across the room. The I’ll-wait-for-you-to-get-out-of-prison-no-matter-how-long-it-takes kind of sexy.

He was the leaner type of muscle too. Sinewy. Dangerous. Like he’d been doing chin ups in a jail cell for God knows how long, and could wield a loaded gun with his eyes closed and both hands tied behind his back. Yeah, you heard me right.

A simple black t-shirt proudly showcased full sleeves adorned with awe-inspiring artwork, which seamlessly tapered off into the spaces between his knuckles. Intricately woven designs wrapped fluidly around his well-defined arms. They were a perfect canvas for the breathtaking scenery.

Skyscape. Trees. Foliage. Birds. So many birds.

An endless array of different species. All mid-flight. Completely free. Every last one.

His body was an avian sanctuary. He was an avian sanctuary.

A pack of swallows flew out from under his collar, sweeping gracefully around the column of his neck to nestle behind his ear. I wanted to follow their path with my lips, trace it with my tongue…

“T12 complete.”

Leaning forward onto his elbows, he finally peered up at me with the bluest eyes that I’d ever seen in my entire life. They were as clear as the perfect spring sky and as icy as the frigid air on the coldest day of winter.

“That’s what you wanted to know, right?”

I can’t remember if I answered him. Or if I even managed to nod.

“Is he your boyfriend?”

I blinked. Frowned. Blinked again. “What?”

“The guy who was being an asshole to you earlier. Is he your boyfriend?”

I swear, I almost hugged him. I said almost. I’m not a creep. Instead, I shook my head. “No. That was just dickhead being an asshole.”

If he was amused, it didn’t show on his face. “You call him dickhead?”

“I call it like I see it.”

Nothing showed on his face. Stonewalled. “Sit.”

I slid down into the seat even before the monosyllabic directive had a chance to dissipate from the tip of his tongue. I could’ve sworn that he quirked an eyebrow. Ever so slightly. But it was probably just my imagination.

“So…” he began.

The words tumbled out of my mouth automatically, in a hurried rush of air, “I like your tattoos.”

“Thanks,” he replied casually, before countering with, “I like your necklace.”

My heart thrummed in my chest. “Thanks.”

Can it be? Is it possible? No, it’s not possible. What are the odds anyway? Like a million to one, right?

Gathering up every last ounce of courage that I could possibly muster, I whispered tentatively, “Do you know what it means?”

After an agonizing stretch of silence, he slowly began to nod, his arctic blue irises never once releasing me from their frozen depths.

The intensity was staggering. And mesmerizing. Like magic. Or a drug. A magical drug. I couldn’t look away. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t even blink, much less think. And I sure as hell couldn’t breathe.

Who can remember to breathe when you have somebody else staring into the deepest, darkest corner of your soul?

And then, just as I was about to pass out cold from a sheer lack of oxygen…

Sexy tattoo guy broke into the faintest hint of a smile, which coincidentally just happened to produce the world’s sexiest pair of dimples.

He was most certainly a magical drug and I was most definitely going to be a junkie. I could feel it happening already. The addiction had taken hold and I was powerless to stop it.

“I really like your necklace.”

The low, husky murmur of his voice tingled right down to the tips my toes. Among other places along the way. Reaching up, I fingered the cursive silver lettering that danced across my collarbone, suspended on a delicate sterling chain. It read…

Devotee.

I AM SUPERMAN