Saturday, September 3, 2011

chapter twelve

There’s nothing left of the macaroni & cheese when we’re done.  Kristen lays next to me in the grass, not touching, just full and still.  Instinct tells me she’s a little shaken from her encounter with Allison.

“Sorry about before,” I say again, rolling onto my side.  Lots of people are laying and reading or sunning around us and I think they’ve stopped paying attention.

“I can stick up for myself.”

“I know.  But that girl - I really don’t remember her.  Just when I think what’s done is done and maybe I can do better... everyone loves to remind me I was an asshole.”

Kristen rolls a blade of grass between her fingers.  She’s on her back, knees bent.  There are tiny freckles across her nose.  Her brow crinkles as she considers my words and weighs them against what happened to her - which I still don’t know mch about.  Emotions flicker across her face so quickly I can’t keep up, then one hand comes up to shield her eyes from the light.  Of all things, she looks sad.

“She only came over here because you’re Patrick Kane.”

I shrug.  It’s true, but that’s also the only reason she ever came around in the first place.  If anything I’m kind of used to that now.

“Doesn’t mean I’m allowed to forget her.”

Kristen nods, tearing that blade of grass into two strips.  “How do you know if someone ever likes you for you?”

That is the million dollar question - or in my case, multi-million dollar.  And one of the reasons I never gave anyone the chance to really like me at all.  But now I want someone to like me: this someone.  The only way I know is if I still want to act like New Me.

“I know when someone doesn’t like me,” I try.  “She usually ignores me during dinner.”

Kristen keeps her eyes down but smiles.  I scoot in closer.  

“Then she leaves at the first chance.  In terror.”

She nods like this makes perfect sense.  I move another inch.  

“And if she runs away in the middle of a kiss, I know there’s no hope.”

Kristen drops her hands, closes her eyes and laughs.  A pink blush creeps into her fair cheeks and she shakes her head a little at the silliness of it.  In just a few days we’ve managed to make quite a few memories.

“So how would I know if someone did like me?”
I think I’d wait all day for her, but I’d probably only make it thirty seconds.


Or kiss him.

Those are the options.  So with one hand I pull Patrick down and press his lips right to mine.  His chest follows until he’s mostly laying on top of me.  If I wasn’t so overwhelmed by cuteness I’d probably have my pants off by now.

Patrick lifts his head and smiles down at me, like I just gave him what he was asking for.  We could be the only two people for miles.

“So you do like me?” he pretends to sound confused.

I want to joke, say I guess he’s alright for now, but my mouth is busy with a dopey, infatuated grin.  That earns me another kiss.

“Wait, are you sure?”

I kiss him again, then ask, “You know how you can tell?”

Patrick shakes his head no.

“You didn’t actually buy me lunch.”

He drops himself on top of me like a dead wight and groans loudly.  We’re an amped-up pile of arms and legs, giggling.  Patrick smells like laundry detergent and soap, like sunshine.  I would have pegged him as a cologne kind of guy.  I lay there, one hand holding the small of his back, just breathing him in.  Slowly but surely, I am letting him in.

“Kristen,” he whispers, his face turned away.


“As much as I enjoy laying on top of you....”

I burst out laughing again, roll him off and try to untangle myself.  He goes right over onto his back, smiling like the Cheshire Cat.

“We could go somewhere else.”

“I have to go back to work!”

He closes his eyes like he has all the time in the world.  “I thought you quit before.”

“And miss going back there now?  When the entire world is talking about my surprise lunch date?”

He cracks one eye.  This has been so public since the baseball game, the zoo, today with my office and the park.  He’s trying to prove all at once that he can spend time with one girl.  He wants everyone to know.

“Too much?” he asks.

I shake my head no.  It’s a lot, and not something I really bargained for, but the upside is clear.  If people are talking about Patrick when this season starts, they’ll be saying only good things for once.

“If it gets too much will you tell me?”

There’s genuine concern in his light blue eyes.  Patrick is used to the spotlight, but he’s not numb to the criticism that comes with it.  He clearly remembers how it can burn.  I take too long to answer and he rolls back onto his side, getting closer to me.

“Hey, I mean it.  I make it a joke because this of shit follows me around.  But that doesn’t mean you have to.  Some of the guys - lots of ‘em - hide their girlfriends and wives from it.  You’re out there now, so the news is over and we could stop being so...,” Patrick looks around the park, “public.”


It’s out before I even think about it, and for once my gut reaction is right.  

“It’s not... ideal, but it’s okay.  It’s part of your life.  I know that you need to change your image a little, and if people see you like this they’re going to catch on pretty quick.  After all, even I’m pretty convinced.”

The look on his face could break my heart.  It’s the most boyish he’s looked since we met, like a kid who just got a big hug.  His smile is tight with emotion - athletes let out a lot of things that regular guys keep inside.  His good hand pulls mine open and laces our fingers together.  Patrick lifts those clear eyes up to mine and I finally admit to myself that I am in serious trouble here.

“I knew it,” he says softly.

“Knew what?”

Patrick’s regular smile is back.  “You do like me.”

I put my arm around Kristen and she nestles into my side as we walk back toward her office.  She’s late getting back from lunch.

“Want me to apologize to your boss?” I offer.

She snickers.  “I think I’m already off the hook.”

We stop at the corner where an hour ago she ran away from me.  She keeps one arm around my waist as I turn my chest in to face her.

“See you for the birthday party?”

I want to see her tonight, of course.  But it’s been kind of a big day and she might need a minute.  Plus if I’m near her and it’s dark out, my body is going to start playing beer pong with hormones.  We are on our fifth date.  That is an excruciatingly long time for me to wait.  I’m not sure I can be responsible for myself much longer.

“Yeah, tomorrow night,” she says.  Maybe it’s a long time for her too.

“I’ll call you later.”  

She lifts up slightly and offers me her lips for a solid, easy kiss.  It’s comfortable.  If anyone saw us now, they’d think we were a couple.

“Bye babe.”  I can’t resist saying it, or swatting her butt and she walks away.

Walking through my office after lunch is fun.  As if someone hit the mute button, everyone goes silent when I swing through the door.  I am probably smiling like a fool.  Then they all turn and pretend to be really busy. I hear instant message windows popping up all over the room.  My boss Teresa appears.

“So.  Is that a thing now?”

She’s ten years older than me, married and very cool.  When Tyler did what he did, she was incredibly understanding.  I took long lunches when the crying came, and left early more than once.  Teresa looked out for me and made it work.

“Uh, maybe.  Could be.”

“Patrick Kane.”  She says it like it’s a condition she’s sad to hear I have contracted.

“He’s really different, not like he used to be.  He’s changed.  You’d like him.”  And that is me, talking a hundred miles an hour, defending Patrick’s honor.  Which he never had before five days ago, as far as I’m aware.  Teresa raises an eyebrow.

“I mean,” I take a breath, “he knows that he got himself into trouble, and he wants to grow up a little.”

She shrugs.  It’s going to take more than that to convince her.  “Well, if you trust him, then it doesn’t matter if I do.  He did get pretty hot though.”

“AMEN!” shouts a voice from a few cubes down.  We all laugh.  Radio Kristen is on the air.

Teresa taps my filing cabinet door.  “Just be careful, okay?”

I promise.  I am in no rush to relive dry heaving over the toilet after finding my boyfriend mid-fuck with another girl, unable to unclench my fists to hold back my own hair.

She’s back to her office before she adds, “And if you bring Toews around here, I’ll promote you.”

I try anything to stay busy for the rest of the day - physical therapist, grocery shopping, I even sit on the deck and read a magazine.  Then I call a friend to go to a movie, just to get away from the itchy trigger finger that wants to call Kristenr every ten minutes.  Not until I’m safe in my house after nine o’clock do I pick up the phone.

“Hey,” she answers.  I can hear her smiling.

“What are you doing?”

“Painting my toenails.  I have a date tomorrow night.”

Old Me sends a message to my brain like closed captioning: with her legs locked around your waist, you won’t see her toenails.

“Who’s the lucky guy?”

“Don’t you watch the news?  Don’t you know who I am?” she says, laughing.

“Oh, you’re with that Kane fool.  The one with all the partying.”

“Eh,” she scoffs.  “You’d be surprised.”

I am fairly dying.  I lay back on the couch, my feet over the arm, picturing Kristen in very small shorts and possibly a bikini top, painting her toenails.  One foot rests on the edge of the bathtub.  Her hair is in pigtails.  Music plays in the background and she shakes her perfect little butt gently to the beat.  My body pulses so hard with desire I stifle a groan.

“Uh, not that surprised,” I admit.  

I can’t get the image of her out of my mind.  My pants are getting tighter by the second.  New Me knows that waiting is key: the more you wait, the more you win.  But Old Me is so horny he could chew through a wire if that wasn’t what supplied the porn.  Kristen and I are going at the perfect pace, but I would really like to blow through a few stop signs.

“So, is this Kane guy good looking?” I ask.

She tells me yes.  “He’s kinda grown up these days, very manly.”

“Good kisser?”

Kristen pauses.  This conversation is about to go where we were headed in the park when I had to climb off her.  If she’d been wearing a skirt, I might just gone for it.  Even now, just a month or so from the last random girl I went home with, you’d think I had been in the desert forty days with no water.  Please be thirsty, I think.

“He is a very good kisser.”

Earlier today, groping against that building, Kristen gave my thigh a pretty good warm-up.  I know she’s feeling this delicious, essential frustration too.  But Old Me needs to stir shit up a little.

“And he’s good in bed?”

Please don’t let that be too far.

“I, uh, I wouldn’t know.  Not yet.”

I groan out loud.  I could probably have jizzed in my pants if I’d been a little more ready for the turn this phone call has taken.  Look at me, how pathetic.  She could read a cereal box and I’d be humping the sofa cushion. I have to break the game.

“Hey Kristen?”


“Is there a 1-900 number I could call you back on?”

Her laugh is muffled, like she put her face down in a pillow.  Oh my God face down in a pillow...

“It’s a website actually,” she says.  “You have to sign up by the month.”

I’m laughing now too, in frustration and in relief that we can joke about this.  She’s not immune to the current that runs between us and she is definitely coming around.  Kristen may have run away today, but she came back in a big way.

“You’re killing me,” I tell her honestly.  “I’ll pick you up at seven tomorrow.”

She puts on her best husky phone sex voice.  “Goodnight Patrick,” she purrs.

I feel it right down the fly of my pants.  “Oh my G....” but she’s already hung up.


  1. Oh my right! This story is getting deliciously juicy and even more entertaining. You've managed to create a Kaner lover out of me. Well done, and can't wait for more!

  2. Wooo this is getting HOT! "and if you bring Toews around, I'll promote you!"... haha
    I'm loving this - something I hate to admit since I usually can't stand Kaner. I would love you to do a goofy Bobby Ryan story please :)