The answer sent thrills through my belly.
It was obvious that he was flirting with me… and brazenly, at that.
But I struggled to keep the upper hand.
“It’s the wrong question,” I said.
“Oh? What’s the right question?”
“What does an individual woman want? Women aren’t all the same. They don’t want the same things.”
“Well… what do you want?”
Oh my God.
I was melting at the sound of it.
And then my roommate spoke up.
“I know what Shanna wants,” Shanna slurred from her bed. “Shanna wants to get laid.”
Then it hit me how much of a bitch I was being. She’d gotten this guy; she’d brought him back; and here I was, stealing him away from her.
Me, with a boyfriend.
Well, an ex-boyfriend… who would probably be my boyfriend again within 24 hours.
Time to bail.
“I should leave you two,” I said, and moved to go.
Derek put out his hand. “No – stay. We’re having a very interesting conversation here.”
“About the Wife of Bath,” I gently mocked him, totally not believing him.
“And the Wife of Bath’s tale. And the deeper meaning.”
I arched an eyebrow. “About what women want.”
“About what one woman in particular wants. So?”
I paused and looked him square in the eyes. I had to be careful – I could have gotten lost in those beautiful green depths so easily…
“Why do you care?”
He shrugged. “Why shouldn’t I?”
“I don’t go around asking random people I meet what they want.”
“Well, people aren’t all the same,” he said with a sly smile. “They don’t all want the same things.”
Okay… using my words against me like that? Pretty clever.
I grinned. “Touché. But before I tell you… what do you want?”
“Right now, I want to find out more about you.”
It was so obvious he was flirting with me.
And any casual observer would think I was flirting with him.
Maybe I was.
My stomach twisted a little, and I got a little afraid.
Afraid that I was flirting…
…afraid that I liked it…
…and maybe, just maybe, a little afraid that if I opened up too much, I might get hurt.
“So… what do you want?” he continued. “Specifically, what do you want out of life?”
I brushed my hair behind one ear, looked down at the floor, and gave my standard answer. “I want to be a journalist.”
“That’s cool,” he said in a positive but laidback voice.
I looked at him out of the corner of my eyes. “Is it?”
“I think so. What kind of a journalist? I mean, do you want to run off into warzones, or write for a city paper, or – ”
“No, I want to write for magazines. I want to do a whole lot of different things, go different places… live life to its fullest. And I figure it would be great to get paid to do it.”
“Yeah?” I asked, a little shyly.
Why the hell did I care what this guy thought about my life’s dream?
I don’t know… but for some reason, I did.
“Yeah,” he nodded, completely sincere.
He frowned the tiniest bit. “What?”
“I wouldn’t have thought you would think that was cool.”
“I just don’t see you thinking journalism would be that interesting.”
“Hunter S. Thompson was one of the coolest people ever. He was a journalist. A great journalist.”
“A gonzo journalist,” I added, pretty much throwing in the only thing I knew about Hunter S. Thompson, except that he wrote Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas.
“Yup,” he agreed. “For the greatest music criticism magazine in the world.”
“But, you have to admit,” I said, “he is arguably one of the coolest people who ever lived.”
“I don’t think I’m quite going to live up to that,” I joked.
“Don’t give up so soon.”
I laughed. “Yeah… okay…”
“What’s so funny?”
“I didn’t think I was going to get a pep talk on ‘journalism is cool’ from Mr. Rock ‘n Roll.”
“Just because I’m Mr. Rock ‘n Roll doesn’t mean I can’t think other people’s dreams are cool.”
He said it in a friendly tone, but also with the tiniest bit of rebuke… like I was only judging him by his appearance, and being an ass about it.
And he was absolutely correct.
“You’re right,” I agreed grudgingly. “Sorry.”