I’ve been watching her.
Truth be told, I’ve had my eye on her ever since she moseyed her fine-looking ass through the door. Which I realize sounds pretty damn suspect, but hey, what the hell did you expect me to do?
She’s the one who started it.
From the very first moment that she sat down across from Asshole, she zeroed in on me with the precision of a sniper scope. Hell, I could practically sense the laser sight – you know, that red dot? – aimed right between my eyes.
As for Asshole? Well, I’m guessing that he’s actually her ivy-league boyfriend. But it’s blatantly clear that he’s also an asshole.
Trust me, I know my assholes.
When you look the way that I do, there tends to be a lot of smiling to your face and snickering behind your back. Therefore, it’s only natural to develop a sixth sense for gauging others. You learn to trust your gut, not because you want to but because you need to. Out of necessity. A survival tactic, if you will. Your instincts become sharply honed. Like the blade of a fucking samurai sword.
So yeah, I’ve developed a knack for spotting assholes from a mile away. Which is infinitely better than spotting them from a half-mile away, right? Hell, I can even spot them two towns over sometimes. It all depends on the degree of asshole.
And let me assure you, this particular dude was a high-ranking asshole. Top caliber. A purebred. Through and through.
Of course, I didn’t jump to conclusions about Asshole. That would’ve called for a Pot-meets-Kettle type of scenario, and I’m not a fan of such introductions. In fact, I’m a firm believer that hypocrisy should be avoided at all costs.
It wasn’t until the loser slammed a fist down on the table and stormed out like a petulant child that I took the liberty of capitalizing the A in Asshole. Although, it was a damn good thing that the lucky bastard left when he did because I was just about to go over there and kick his fucking ass. And don’t think for a second that I wouldn’t. Or couldn’t.
Because I could. And I sure as hell would.
Anyway, she’s been staring at me nonstop. Non-fucking-stop.
And she’s beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous. Almost completely out of my league.
But not quite.
Not quite prim and proper. Not quite immaculately groomed by upper class society. Not quite hopelessly brainwashed by the masses. Not quite aspiring to reach the bring-home-to-your-judgmental-blue-blooded-silver-spoon-feeding-parents standard.
With that said, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to discover that her mother was indeed the president of a homeowner’s association and her father a well-respected politician. Or maybe the chief of police.
I sure as hell hoped not. Or else, I was bound to get myself killed at some point.
But yeah, she certainly did look the part. And played the role like a champ. Polished. Presentable. Perfect. Fucking perfect. It was one helluva convincing act. I had to give her that much.
However, underneath that carefully constructed exterior, I could tell that she was a damn wildcat just waiting to pounce. A firecracker just waiting to ignite. A volatile stick of dynamite just waiting to explode. Hell, I might very well blow myself up attempting to handle her. Because I knew that she was a dangerous amount of C4 crammed into a tiny little package.
There was one thing that gave her away. One thing that she couldn’t hide. One thing that betrayed her otherwise flawless cover. Only one thing…
They were as black as the dead of night.
And yet, I had never, in my entire life, seen such dark eyes with such light in them. Bright with rebellion. Blazing with fire. Blinding with reckless abandon.
God, she was fucking gorgeous.
And did I mention that she was staring at me?
But then again, people always stared at me.
I just happen to be the type of guy who warrants an excessive amount of staring.
Society dictates that you profile strangers based solely on your first impressions of them. And unfortunately, mine raises some common red flags. It issues a clear warning to scoop up your small children protectively. Cross the street to the other side. Shake your head in disapproval once you’re out of harm’s way. Once you’re at a safe distance from danger.
I’m probably one of the very few people in a wheelchair to still elicit that kind of reaction. Which is both flattering and downright ridiculous at the same time. Sure, I might look a bit intimidating and I am a pretty quick fucker, but I’d make for a terrible perpetrator. Seriously. Just stop and think about it for a second. If I were chasing down my hypothetical victim and she ran up a flight of stairs…
I’d be shit out of luck.
So, I haven’t a clue as to why anyone would perceive me as a significant threat.
Maybe it’s because I possess a superpower.
You heard me right. I’m like Captain-fucking-America. Now don’t get too excited. I only have a singular power and it wouldn’t have been my first pick. Personally, I would’ve chosen the ability to fly. Yeah, I definitely would’ve chosen that. I mean, who doesn’t dream of flying, right?
Too bad I wasn’t given a choice.
I’m not complaining though. Most people aren’t blessed with any special abilities at all. At least not the Stan Lee type stuff that comic books are made of. Plus, it’s still really fucking impressive…
I’m capable of generating force fields. Massive force fields. Like Luke Skywalker does. Kind of. Sort of. Well, not really.
I’ll never be a Luke.
I’ll always be an Anakin.
Either way, I seem to have this permanent barrier of energy built up around myself. Where no one steps foot within a certain radius and crowds never fail to part like the Red Sea did for Moses. Well, maybe not. Okay. Definitely not.
I’ll never be a Moses.
Bad analogies aside, the point is that she’d somehow managed to render the damn thing completely useless. Or perhaps she was simply immune to its defenses altogether. Whichever the case, it sure as hell didn’t have any effect on her. Because she crossed over into my personal space like nothing at all. Fearless. Circling me like I was her damn prey.
And God, I wished that she would just go in for the kill. Put me out of my fucking misery.
But she didn’t.
She did, however, hipcheck my table so damn hard that the impact sent some scalding hot coffee splashing onto my forearm. It would likely leave a mark. I didn’t care. The idea of being branded by her didn’t bother me one bit. As for her attention-grabbing stunt? It wasn’t necessary and I’m willing to bet that her perfect little hipbone was now hurting like a bitch.
Still, she didn’t utter one word to me. Not a single peep.
You know what people should do more often?
Why the hell do people always assume so much about so many things of which they know so little?
Well, I suppose that’s why they’re called assumptions. I suppose that’s why it’s called human nature. I suppose that’s why most people are just assholes.
I didn’t get the feeling that she was an asshole, though. She was too fucking beautiful to be an asshole.
Okay, that sounds just plain stupid.
I’m not an idiot. I realize that there’s no shortage of beautiful assholes roaming the Earth. I’ve come across my fair share of them. Asshole (her tantrum-throwing boyfriend) was a prime example. There are a shit ton of ugly assholes out there too, not that it makes a lick of sense to me. I mean, isn’t being an ugly mother fucker enough? Why would you want to be painful to look at and painful to deal with?
Regardless, she was anything, everything but painful to look at and I got the distinct impression that she wouldn’t be all that painful to deal with either.
Besides, something else had caught my attention. Reeled me in like a catch of the day. Hook, line, and sinker. So…
“Why don’t you just ask?”
She startled. Froze. Then slowly, gradually, painstakingly turned toward me.
I didn’t move a muscle. Instead, I stared down at the paper cup cradled in my palms, watching the steam gently rise up through a small hole in the plastic lid.
“I’m sorry,” she replied, at last, her voice quivering slightly with anxiety or anticipation. It was hard to determine which. “Did you say something?”
And me? I still didn’t look at her. I’m not sure why. Maybe I just afraid of being wrong. Maybe I was just acting like a pathetic fucking pussy. Because if she was completely out of my league? If she did reside in a different galaxy altogether? I didn’t really want the memo.
Without glancing up, I simply said, “T12.”
“Paraplegic,” I stated matter-of-factly in a calm, cool and composed tone.
I volunteered the next part automatically, simply because I’ve been conditioned to do so. When I don’t clarify, nine times out of ten, people (who obviously watch too many movies) default to some generic act of violence, typically involving a bullet wound or shanking. Apparently, I look like someone who deserves to be gunned down, or at the very least, stabbed repeatedly by a rival gang member. Or by another prison inmate.
Just for the record, I’ve never belonged to a gang. Or been shot. Or shot another human being. Or even been arrested.
“I crashed my motorbike doing a backflip I’d done a hundred times before.”
Her body reacted in an instant.
And I knew. I fucking knew. There wasn’t even a shred of doubt in my mind. She was brimming with excitement. Nervous as shit, but excited nonetheless.
With a small sigh, her dainty hands gripped the backrest of an empty chair across from me, and then…
And suddenly, I found myself in purgatory. Torn between heaven and hell. Because her eyes traveled across my body, burning an agonizing path right through every last square inch of me that she touched while taking in the scenery. The skyscape. The trees. The foliage. The birds.
Yeah, I’m covered in birds, okay?
Not a single skull and crossbones in sight.
Her eyes caressed them with such tender appreciation that I fully expected each and every traitorous creature to tear itself right from my flesh in a desperate attempt to get closer to her.
To fly free.
To fly home.
I wouldn’t blame them. Hell, I couldn’t blame them. I was on the verge of unraveling too. And by the time that her torturous gaze drifted to the pack of swallows curving around my neck, I was coming undone at the fucking seams, spiraling into oblivion…
I swallowed hard and spoke first. Before it was too late to speak at all.
“T12 complete,” I murmured huskily, leaning forward onto my elbows to finally gaze up at her. And Jesus Christ, she really was beautiful. Gorgeous. So damn breathtaking that I nearly growled like a savage and grabbed for her. Thankfully, I managed to hold my shit together and ask, “That’s what you wanted to know, right?”
She nodded, although I’m not entirely convinced that it was a conscious decision, as she looked to be dazed and confused. A deer in the headlights.
“Is he your boyfriend?”
Blinking once, she frowned slightly. Then blinked again. “What?”
“The guy who was being an asshole to you earlier. Is he your boyfriend?”
Her eyes lit up like the fourth of July. I swear to God, I thought she was about to dive across the table and tackle me. I was hoping that she would. Sadly, she didn’t. Instead, she just gave her pretty little head a shake and answered, “No, that was just dickhead being an asshole.”
It took every last drop of willpower I possessed to not chuckle at that. Hell, it took every last ounce of self-control to not reach across the goddamn table, drag her into my chest and kiss her fucking senseless. Sadly, I didn’t. Instead, I queried evenly, “You call him dickhead?”
“I call it like I see it.”
Yeah, I wanted her. I needed her. I had to make her mine.
She immediately slid down into the seat. Before the concise directive even had a chance to leave my lips.
“I like your tattoos,” she interjected, the compliment coming out in a whispered rush of air.
“Thanks. I like your necklace.”
I did. A whole-fucking-lot.
“Thanks.” After a long pause, she continued tentatively, “Do you know what it means?”
My eyes never once left hers. They didn’t need to. I didn’t need to look down. Because I already knew what it said.
Simple. Bold. Unapologetic.
I stared at her. Long and hard. Finally, I began to nod. Slowly. Deliberately. Because yeah, I knew exactly what it meant. I knew exactly what she was. I knew exactly…
Who she was.
What I didn’t know was how the hell I’d ever find my way back to civilization again. Because her obsidian eyes were like a beacon. Leading me into the shadows. Pulling me into the darkness. Dragging me into the depths of night.
A seductress. An enchantress. A damn sorceress.
Like a siren, she called to me.
Like a moth to the flame, I went.
And fuck me, but she had the prettiest smile on the face of this godforsaken planet. I just couldn’t resist anymore. It was impossible. I grinned back like a lovesick fool. Because she was so fucking beautiful that I’d already fallen under her spell.
“I really like your necklace.”
Reaching up with a small hand, she traced the tip of one slender finger along the cursive letters gracing her delectable collarbone…
“I’m really happy to hear that.”
Her soft purr coursed through my veins like a paralyzing venom.
“So, what’s your name?”
“Or should I just call you sexy tattoo guy?”
And she’s my fucking kryptonite.