Kara didn’t seem to mind. She knocked one of them playfully on the shoulder. He didn’t look like her boyfriend, but they all looked alike to me. Dumb and soft. What drove me crazy was these guys thought they were so tough. They thought because they threw around a ball with some other guys and won a few games that they were the shit. I’d love to sign them up for one month at any one of the foster homes I’d so very much enjoyed growing up. They wouldn’t last a week.
Kara didn’t notice me, so I sat like a dumbass behind the wheel of my truck waiting. I wasn’t going to climb out and fetch her like a damn dog. I thought about leaning on the horn but she was bound to look over soon. As soon as she took her eyes off of that guy in the letterman jacket.
He was all chin and grin, that guy. A sheltered girl like Kara probably thought he was a real stand-up guy, the kind of man who’d hold doors open for you and shake your father’s hand. I knew better. I knew what he had going on in his head right now. With Kara standing next to him in that tiny cheerleading skirt, he was probably half-hard already wondering how quick he could talk her out of dating his buddy old pal Bruce and spend some time with him so he could bend her over and bury himself in her, deep.
Because that’s how guys were. It’s how I was, and any other healthy American male standing next to a girl with her porn star body. Girls like Kara, though, they thought about roses and poetry and wedding rings. She had no idea what she was really playing with.
She dropped a book she was holding. A guy scampered to pick it up, of course, but she leaned over to get it herself. Bent over, ass up in the air, that tiny skirt barely covered a thing.
I leaned on the horn.
Startled, Kara looked up and saw me. Her month dropped open a bit, surprised. Pissed off, I motioned to her to get into the goddamn truck. She rolled her eyes and turned her back to me, taking a few slow steps toward the truck while she still talked a mile a minute to a couple of girlfriends.
I leaned on the horn again.
Huffy, she turned toward me and finally made her way over. She fumbled with the door handle as she still held her books. A gentleman would have leapt out and helped her, carrying her load while also holding open the door. I stayed put until she figured it out herself.
“What are you doing here?” she asked as she slid in on the cracked leather seat. Duct tape had worked for a while. Now the edges peeled through. It wasn’t the first time I’d had a girl in my truck. It was the first time I’d wished it were nicer. I didn’t like the feeling.
“Your daddy asked me to pick you up,” I grumbled, pulling us into gear.
“I could have gotten a ride with a friend.”
“Yup, that’s what I said. But someone wasn’t answering her phone.”
“Oh.” Her perfect lips formed a pout and she searched around in her purse for her cell phone. She fiddled with it while I pulled out into the street. Good, maybe she’d do that the whole ride.
“So he sent you to get me?” The question seemed to answer itself, me sitting next to her and all, so I let it sit there in silence. I pushed a button on the dash and popped on the radio. Some country crooner came on pouring his heart out over the girl of his dreams. I punched it off.
Kara crossed her legs, her skirt riding up, her creamy thighs bare. I cleared my throat. The air felt thick and hot.
“Well, thanks. But you didn’t have to honk the horn,” she complained.
“You should have run on over the second you saw me.”
“Is that how all the girls are with you, Declan?”
“That’s how good little girls are when their ride shows up to take them home from school.”
She pouted. “I could have gotten a ride with a friend.”
I shrugged. “Like I said.”
“What?” she asked.
“That was not nothing.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You snorted. Do you have a problem with Bruce?”
“Why would I have a problem with… what’s his name again?” I knew full well but I liked getting under her skin.
“Bruce. He’s the mayor’s son.”
“Ooh. That’s a big deal.”
“It is.” She sat up tall and pissed off. I liked it when she got all huffy.
“This is a real big town.” I kept it dry and cool.
“It is a big deal to be a mayor. It’s hard work.”
“Mmm-hmm. All that hand shaking and baby kissing.”
“It’s more than that.”
“You’re just jealous.”
“I’m not your sugar. And yes you are jealous. What, do you think you could be the mayor of this town? Not likely.” She huffed back down into her seat.
I had no idea why, but that last part stung. No way would I ever want to be a mayor of a two-bit town like this. I had bigger plans, all of which involved bigger cities and a lot bigger money. But still.
I kept my eyes on the road up ahead, my hands on the wheel at 10 and 2.
“I’m sorry.” Her voice like honey, sweet and warm, dripped over me. She put a small hand to my bicep. It felt good there. “I didn’t mean that, it came out wrong.”
I shrugged. “I don’t care.”
“I know you don’t.” She pulled away.
The gas light popped on. Shit. With this truck, once the light came on you were out. Normally I paid close attention to that kind of thing. Today, Harlan had sprung his favor on me and I’d been too agitated to think much ever since. That was the problem with girls like Kara, they got inside your head. Add it to the list of reasons to keep her as far away from me as possible.
I turned into the next gas station. After I hitched up the pump to the tank, I headed in to buy a soda. I needed to cool off.
When I came out, I got a show. Kara in her cheerleading outfit, washing my windshield. Reaching across real far with the squeegee, bending over my truck. What. The. Fuck.
I wasn’t the only one who noticed. Some guy with his gut hanging over his belt had his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth, too, standing there staring at Kara.
That girl had no sense in her head.
“Give me that.” I strode over, took the squeegee out of her hand and plunged it back into the water next to the gas pumps.
“I was just trying to be nice!”
“Get in the truck.”
She did as she was told while I hooked the nozzle back up. She had no idea what she was playing with, what kind of fire would rain down on her if she kept waltzing around like that, teasing and taunting, offering up what men couldn’t have. Someday soon, someone would lose patience with that shit.
I revved the engine too hard once again, peeling out of the gas station.
“What’s wrong with you?” she asked, like I was the one with the problem.
“What’s wrong with you?” I barked.
“What are you talking about?”