A Perfect Ten

Page 2

Thank God she spun away and ran off both times (though there were—dammit—tears in her eyes) before I could react. I probably would’ve fallen to my knees and apologized, or hugged her, or some crap. And I definitely would’ve finished that kiss I hadn’t let her start. Who knew what would’ve followed, but I’m sure it’s something her brother would slaughter me for even thinking.

I had to bring out the big guns after that. She was Noel Gamble’s one and only sister; I could not fuck her. No matter what. I needed to take drastic measures to keep her at arm’s length. I needed to...okay, fine. Fuck. I just needed to be me. Not really so drastic once you think about it, even though it probably seemed that way to her.

So I let her have the full intensity of Ten. I stopped watching what I said when she was around, and I let all my base, disgusting thoughts bleed out of my mouth like I usually did. I stopped smiling at her, stopped paying her special attention with little courteous things like holding doors open for her or asking her how her day went. I completely stopped being a nice guy. I backed off and pretty much ignored her, unless I could think up something crude to say in her direction. I made sure to chase other women when she was around. And I felt like shit every night I lay in bed, unable to get to sleep, because I’d relive every awful thing I’d done to her that day.

No matter how deeply my actions bothered me, though, it didn’t stop me from making her hate me and killing any soft feelings she’d ever had for me.

It should’ve been easy to accomplish. Everyone who knew me understood how fast I could piss off a woman.

But nothing about Caroline has ever been easy.

That’s the curious thing about temptation. It festers and grows. You feed that bitch enough and she morphs into craving, and then craving turns into obsession. Pretty soon, nothing in your life is as important as that one thing you want but can’t have.

I wanted her and I couldn’t have her, so I fed the temptation, I flooded the craving, I would’ve fucking nursed the obsession from my own tits if I could’ve. I made sure I got little doses of her here and there. Except something incredibly enlightening happens when you spend enough time in one woman’s company. You start noticing shit about her, little useless crap that actually begins to mean everything, like how she brushes the hair out her face—even if there isn’t any in her eyes—whenever she’s unsettled, or how she chews on the end of a pen during class whenever she’s listening to something that captures her attention. You learn all her different laughs and know what each one means. You learn what pisses her off the most, or what makes her the happiest. You discover how smart and witty and sarcastic she is, and that her mind is almost as dirty as yours. You see how passionate she becomes when she defends those she loves, and you start to fall. Hard.

So, this is my Pathetic Loser’s confession: I am Oren Tenning, and I have fallen. Hard.

Damn, I can’t believe I just admitted that about a girl I’ve never even kissed, much less fucked. But I’m almost out of tricks here. I know I need to keep on keeping her away, except I’m getting desperate. I want her so goddamn bad.

It’s my own damn fault, really. I could’ve and should’ve turned her off of me for good by now. It’s just that every time I think I’ve finally done something that will make her hate me forever—something she’ll never forgive me for—the panic sets in. I can’t bear the thought of her hating me and never forgiving me. So then I have to go and do something to ensure her forgiveness.

She always forgives me, too, even though she shouldn’t. But I love that about her, that sweet, beautiful, over-forgiving, dirty-minded heart of hers. And so I keep plowing down this destructive path, knowing good and well I’m running myself insane, and probably her too.

Something’s gotta give soon or I’ll explode...most likely inside her.

I just hope it doesn’t end up with me dead at the hands of my best friend.

“Ooh, he’s cute. Caroline, don’t you think he’s cute?”

I sighed as Blaze—and yes, she’d given herself that name—shoved me in the arm for like the tenth time in the past five minutes, almost making me upset the glass of cola I was nursing.

“Yeah,” I said, not even bothering to check out the newest hottie she’d spotted. “He’s...adorable.”

Usually, I was all for checking out anyone within my age range who possessed a Y chromosome. But tonight, I was anti-Y, so freaking anti-Y that I’d rather throw a vat of flesh-eating acid on the lot of them than check out one of their annoying, irritating, cute smiles, or asses, or packages, or pecs.

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