“Name’s Carter,” he informs me.
“Too late. I’ve already been calling you Deuce.”
He looks at me like I’m crazy and I point at his shirt.
“It’s Carter,” he says again.
I shrug. “Okay, Deuce.” I watch his jaw tick. He hates it. Perfect. There is only one way to beat an asshole at his own game. Be a bigger asshole. I hate doing it because I don’t like to play games but I learned early in life sometimes you have to play them to survive.
“You going to tell me your name?” he asks.
“Nope.” I grab the door he’s holding and yank it closed before he can shut it for me. I watch him stomp around the front of the car. All six foot four inches of his handsome self. If I had to guess his height I would say that I’m pretty close. He isn’t handsome. I was mistaken when I described him before. He is beautiful. He has the kind of face you see in magazines.
“Where do you live? I’ll take you home,” he offers.
“Taco Bell,” I repeat.
“You do not live at Taco Bell.”
“Just drop me there.” I sigh. He glances into the back seat, his eyes going to my backpack and duffle before coming to me. His eyes roam over me. My body heats as he takes me in. I shut that feeling down immediately. I’m not in a place to even think about a man that way. Especially not one who’s a dick.
“I make better tacos,” he says as he pulls out of the parking lot, heading in the opposite direction of Taco Bell. Or at least the one I know of. I don’t say anything to that. I remain silent as I watch the landscape through the window. I’m enjoying the quiet. I put on a tough façade for Carter but inside I’m fragile. My head is throbbing and my ire is growing by the second. The world hasn’t been the kindest to me but that’s not his problem. Well, it wasn’t until I climbed into his car.
“I can’t fucking believe I’m browning hamburger meat at ass o’clock for some random chick who decided that eating my food and sleeping in my car was okay.” I slap a bag of lettuce onto the counter. Fortunately for the waif, tacos are one of about five foods I’ll eat.
“I told you to drop me off at Taco Bell, not be a Taco Bell,” the waif chirps from the bar stool. She’s wearing my old practice jersey and it’s nearly swallowing her up. I can see her head, a lot of her throat and then nothing so it shouldn’t get me heated and my dick shouldn’t be hardening into a half chub, but it is. I blame the post-game adrenaline rush.
“You can’t be a restaurant.” I tear open the bag and dump the shredded lettuce into a bowl. Out of my produce bowl, I grab two tomatoes and start chopping.
“It looks like a restaurant here.” She hops off the bar stool and wanders over to the window that overlooks the car park. “You have a whole parking lot out there. There are one, two, six garage doors. How many people live in that thing you call a house?” She points to the main building—a fifteen thousand foot brick Tudor that my dad had built for my mom after their second remarriage. To this day I’m not certain whether he gifted it as a way to apologize or drive her away because she only spent a few nights there before flying off to Paris. She’s currently in Greece, I think, with her latest lover—some duke or prince or something. He’s about two years older than me. Family get-togethers are awesome. I smash my knife against the tomatoes too hard and have to grab a fresh one. I’m making tacos, not salsa.
“There are four people in the house.”
“Four.” She’s dumbfounded. “In a house that big? Why do you live in this place then?” She waves a hand toward the interior of my loft that stretches across one of two garages.
“Because I’m an adult.”
“You’re a high school student.”
“I’m nineteen, which is an adult.” Age doesn’t matter in determining adulthood. There are people in their forties, like my mother, who are not adults. And then there’s me, who has been taking care of myself since I could tie my own shoes. I toss the chopped tomatoes into another bowl and turn back to the meat. It’s almost done. “Do you know how to run a microwave?”
“I’m not five,” she grouses, pulling herself away from the window and coming back to the kitchen.
“You look like it,” I retort. It’s a good thing that I’m standing in front of the stove so she can’t see how my body is responding to her in my jersey because otherwise she’d know I’m lying. If my hard-on doesn’t deflate, I’ll have to intentionally burn myself on the pan or some shit like that. I’m not used to this. My dick doesn’t react unless I want it to react. Unlike other guys, I don’t let my pecker make decisions for me. I’m in charge. I glare down at the bulge in my sweatpants. Get it together, Carter. It’s a girl. You’ve seen girls before. You’ve seen girls in bikinis and short skirts and no clothes on. One jersey-wearing girl should not get your blood pressure up.