I'm playing with my recurring character, Cady.
I stared longingly at the Snapple and aspirin on the counter of the convenience store. The twenty-something guy in the blue smock behind the register didn't seem to care much about my plight. Just repeated, "Yeah, you're short 1.50" as he shuffled the three dollars in his hand for effect.
"I realize that," I gritted out. My head was in the middle of hammering out a full-fledged symphony. I checked my pockets hoping that I could will two bucks into existence to no avail. I sighed and said, "Forget the Snapple and just give me the aspirin."
"Don't do that. I've got it," a familiar voice said.
I caught Lucian out of the corner of my eye and felt torn between happy to see him and utterly humiliated. I bit down on my lip and nodded in order to keep from saying something mean and unnecessary. I bit down even harder, tasting blood on my lip, when strange sensations burned across my skin where his hands brushed up against me as he moved to the pay cashier.
He offered me a dazzling smile, the type that reached his eyes and made the midnight blue coloring seem so bright. He handed me the plastic bag and it gave me the opportunity to get a good look at him. His jet black hair was wet and pieces clung to his forehead. He was wearing his usual cargo pants and tee-shirt attire, but it looked good on him, and despite the lighting in the store, his creamy skin made him look almost ethereal.
Everything about him hit me in waves in a way I wasn't used to. I had liked guys in my time, but this just seemed to good to be true. In my life, that usually meant he tortured small animals for fun.
Lucian squeezed my shoulder and said, "You look like hell, Cady."
I wanted to roll my eyes, but it would've hurt too much. "Is this how you woo all the girls? Swoop in to save the day and then insult them?"
He winked and said, "Only the special ones."
I shrugged. "Rough day."
"Well, I'm glad I could help, even in such a small way."
My body betrayed me and I smiled. What was it about this guy that turned me into this girly-girl that I never was before? "You're a regular knight-in-shining-armor. Thanks."
"You almost sound like you mean it."
I met his gaze. He always had this amused flicker in his eyes. I was both jealous and suspicious of anyone who could take on life that way. I wasn't sure what to do or where this was going or if I even wanted to go along for the ride, but at the same time, I couldn't imagine never seeing Lucian again. And how sad was that? Some girls require wining and dining, but my heart can be won for a bottle of aspirin and a Snapple.
"I'd invite you out for coffee if you didn't look about ready to pass out on your feet. Can you get home okay?"
"Are you sure?"
"I'll be fine," I replied. I realized I was still smiling like a crazed loon and skirted around him to make a getaway. Our hands brushed against each other and I felt my face flush with heat and I wondered if his lips felt as soft as they looked.
I think I hit my head harder than I originally thought. When I swayed clumsily on my feet, Lucian was there to steady me. I couldn't help but notice he smelled like soap and a peppermint. Oddly appealing. I shut my eyes and said, "I'm okay, really."
"I'm helping you home. I promise not to tell anyone that even you occasionally need help. Please tell me the other guy looks as just as bad," Lucian replied, leading me out of the store.
I shrugged. "It's a long story."
"It always is with you."
I nodded. I wasn't used to this type of closeness with anyone, let alone a guy that made everything go blurry around the edges. I was torn between making a run for it and enjoying the warmth and safety of his arm draped around my shoulder. I knew what I should be doing. Lucian was a potential complication and those never boded well.
"What can I say? I'm an enigma."
"Well, you're definitely something."
I chuckled, despite the pain that thrummed through my veins. "Right back at you."