A feeling I would have loved to get a taste of, even at a time like now. The satisfaction of beating my cocky ass best friend in a game of categories would have done wonders for my ego. My dignity. Categories was our friendship-made game we indulged in every morning to establish the hottest joggers ranging from one—being unattractive—to ten—was irresistible. However, I had yet to win a match. Particularly, because I was up against an impressionable ladies' man aka know it all.
A lung full of oxygen was sucked through my lips then released into short puffs. The light sea breeze tickled my skin and ruffled my hair, cooling my body of the heat it generated. I stretched out on the wooden bench, my head tilted to the sky while continuing my relaxing assault of the slight wind.
I've always loved how magical the sky was. How it appeared in the mornings was my favorite. It could transform from an endless blackness to a blend of red and orange, then decided on a pure blue with fluffy white clouds. As my dad always said, the transformation reminded him, no matter how bad the past was, every morning is a chance at a fresh start. A new beginning to explore all the adventures the world had to offer. A chance at a future filled with happiness.
My lips curled at his philosophy. My father was my idol while I was growing up. His wise doctrine was a guide I used in my life. I was never the only person to adore him. All his students admired him and loved his lectures. I could remember when I was younger, he would boast how his past student would visit him and tell stories of how his words helped them in the working world. I often cherished those times.
A few more joggers trotted past. Most had earphones plugged in their ears with grim faces while others chatted with other runners. On a mission. The desire to keep fit was prominent in their features.
I cocked my head to the side, ready to follow suit, but paused when a voluptuous blonde came jogging up ahead. Sandy blonde hair was bonded at the top with a pink scrunchy while the remaining cascaded down her back. It bounced with poise and elegance against her glowing tan skin. A pair of white earphones plugged into her ears. The pink sports bra she wore hugged her breast, pushing them upwards, showing off her cleavage. My eyes trailed down her flat stomach, passing over her button navel. Down to her pink and black Jordans, attached to her like a second skin, broadcasting her every curve. The last touch to her outfit was a pair of pink and white sneakers.
This girl reminded me of a supermodel cruising down the runway. As in one of those popular movies where the desirable actress performed in slow motion at her entrance.
"Amazing," I whispered.
"Nah, I give her a seven," was the lazy response that found my ears.
I tore my eyes from the blonde to glare at my best friend of sixteen years. "What! Seven? You can’t be serious?” Shifting, I looked back at the beauty. "Look at her, Derek. She's so much more than a seven. She's more like a...a... nine... ah nine and a half if you ask me."
His gaze flickered to the blonde before it returned to me. Two tiny lines pinched between his brows. "That's why I never asked you."
I rolled my eyes, finishing it off with a pout.
Of course, he would not let me have this one. The fact he was right was too awful to bear. Again.
Letting out an audible sigh, he explained, "Besides, I think you should be the one to look at her. She's so coordinated in her pink. Girls like those only want perfection, and another name for a perfectionist is a crazy bitch." His fingers grazed his chest. “Trust me. I should know.”
Crazy bitch? Was he serious right now?
I twisted to give a rebuttal, but he continued in haste, "Plus, Greg, the catcher on our team, crashed with her a few times. And boy, did he have stories."
Another eye roll was expected for that one. Those damn jerks! Those jocks were douche, no pun intended. And that was precisely why I stayed single. Too many immature morons were walking around at our college. A girl could never tell these days.
Though Derek was the captain of our college baseball team, you would think he would be more mature. That he would set certain rules. However, he did not. If anything, he was worse than the average jock.
My attention was brought back to Miss Number Seven Blonde. My gaze followed her perfect posture as she strode down her supposed runway. Somehow, she reminded me of…
"But, sometimes I'm a perfectionist, " I whispered.
Mind you, I was not the type to be color-coordinated, but I tended to want everything to go a certain way.
His snort annoyed me. "Yeah! Hence the word crazy bi—"
I shoved him before he got a chance to complete that preposterous sentence. My mental health was far from crazy.
Chuckling, he slid off the bench and stood above me. Just in time to catch category seven blonde showing off her cute plump pink lips which were curled in a sweet smile.
"Hi, McKenzie," she cooed in a sing-song voice.
Too bad, Derek shrugged, nodding in response as she jogged past. Now, I just couldn't help the eye roll that followed. Again.
"One day when you do that they're just going to roll right out of the socket," he proclaimed.
I flipped him off and pushed to my feet. "When you stop giving me a reason to do it, then you won't have to worry about my eyes falling out."
Trouble was his middle name. I doubt he'd be able to stop anything.
Blue-green eyes widened. His eyebrows raised, creating lines on his forehead. “Me?”
“Yes, you. You think because you’re hot, it’s your given right to be an asshole,” I replied with air quotations.
Which was true. The bastard knew how attractive he was and used that superpower against others. Like a modern-day villain. Yet, the more he rejected us, woman, the more came running in. Never once had any stopped long enough to notice the red flag floating above his head.
A cocky grin appeared on his lips. “You think I'm hot?”
“Oh, God.” Here we went. Yep, that was all his brain ciphered from what was said.
Snickering, he stared after the blonde. “Look, she’s not my type, okay?”
I cocked my head to the side, my brain struggled to sieve through the crap he uttered. “What exactly is your type?”
I doubt it was. Which was sad in a way.
He pinched my nose. A sharp pain rippled through the spot. “The type that doesn’t talk back.”
I slapped his hand away, rubbing the sore spot. “Funny, I didn’t peg you to like the mute type.”
He sighed. His hands clasped. Eyes fluttered. “I wish. It sounds like heaven. No complaining. No being told what to do. No having to listen to pointless conversations. And the list goes on and on.” He then wiggled his eyebrows. “I’m having goosebumps just thinking about the sex.”
Ugh! What a perv. The morning kept getting better and better.
“You know that can be considered as rape, right?”
“Shut up!” A large hand covered my face.
A squeal passed my lips as I pushed him away.
Derek shook his head then stared ahead at the inviting waves at Zuma Beach. "Maybe later we could get together and ride some waves."
Yes, that was a wonderful idea. Ever since we moved to Los Angeles for college, surfing has become a part of our lives. One of the many activities we did together. But…
"Ah, no, you can't. That’s against the law of baseball season. Most importantly, don’t forget you have a sex date with Ms. Hooks.”
"Lisa," he corrected.
Who cared? "Sorry, Lisa. Still, her name is Ms. Hooks. Even if she's your girlfriend she's still years older than you are. You know the term called a cougar," I finished with a sweet smile.
He groaned, walking away. "She's just a few years older."
My strides quickened in an attempt to match his pace. "You mean like sixteen years older. In the real world that's not classified as a few years."
It was his turn to roll his eyes. As if his previous comment hadn’t applied to him. “Whatever, she sure as hell doesn't act like she's that age," he grumbled.
Say what now? Ehew! Now that image was stamped in my poor brain.
My fingers grasped my shoulders, hands crossed at my chest as I held back a shudder. "Just remember your play date today with Ms... ah, Lisa."
"Yes, Mom," was his sarcastic response.
Yep, a total jerk. I didn't know why I kept perfecting his schedule like his assistant. We both knew what would transpire when he visited Ms. Hooks. Yet, I was the one who seemed to remember these things.
I hissed my teeth and started jogging.
As if the universe was playing a sick joke on us, there Ms. Hooks came trotting towards us. I stopped in my tracks, blinked several times to ensure she was real.
We had run this stretch for over two years, and never once was she spotted jogging here before. Sure, she lived in Malibu, but didn’t she have a personal in-house gym? I twisted to ask Derek that and more but realized he was no longer close by.
He, too, had a startled expression on his face. Seconds later, he recovered and strode towards her, never once giving me a backward glance. A reaction which should not have affected me. Yet, my heart plummeted to the bottom of my stomach.
Over the past few years, I’ve seen Derek interact with girls, even girlfriends. Yet, something about this one didn’t sit right with me. The feeling was not just jealousy. He had passed through more women than I could count. The need to want him to get all the experience he desired never faulted. Yet, this time my insides curdled at the mere thought of Derek with her.
At the sight of him, a huge smile grew on Ms. Hook's lips. She stopped and he walked up to her. Seeing her in person for the first time, the tabloids had not done her justice. Black hair which was normally caressing her shoulders was up in a messy bun, advertising her round face. Even though she wasn’t wearing makeup, it appeared as if she did. Plucked eyebrows had the right amount of hair to shelter her eyes yet displayed refinement. Even from a distance, it was evident her thick lashes were long and natural. Snow White had nothing on her compared to those lips of hers.
Ugh! Why was she so pretty?
I couldn’t help but wonder if that was Derek’s idea of a Category Ten Jogger. She wasn’t clothed in the hottest designer outfit nor color coordinated. Yet, by looking at her, she was the definition of beauty. Effortless charm.
Her gaze swept her surroundings, and I pretended to stretch. I presumed Derek said something and the wind carried her laughter to my ears.
God, I wondered what they were talking about. I hated not knowing. I shouldn't care. The sad truth was I did. In a pathetic way.
Her slender fingers rested on his bicep. Green fingernails winked at me. She stepped closer to him, and I froze. Any pretentious action on my part was forgotten. Those fingers crawled further up his arm. My eyes narrowed, wishing I could have seen his face. She took another step towards him. My heart skipped a beat.
Was she going to…
That bitch! Not two minutes into a conversation and she was ready to jump his bones.
Of all the many girlfriends Derek had, I've never seen him this intimate with any of them. Heck, I still never wanted to see it. Sure, he flirted and touched his past girlfriends, but never an actual kiss or anything to taint my mind. My brain knew I would never be able to forget it. I would never be the same again.
With that being said, I could not take my eyes off the couple in front of me. I slid my tongue across my dry lips, awaiting her next move. By the end of the thought, she was on her toes. Up. Up she went. Closer, nearer to his face. My breath hitched. Her eyes drifted close and… and…
Derek shuffled back, slapping an imaginary insect from above her head. Her eyes flashed open, and she stumbled on her feet.
Ha! He didn’t kiss her. Take that, you beautiful hag.
In my excitement, I almost jumped for joy, giving away my position.
Derek glanced in my way and I studied the sky. A proud smile danced on my lips. When my attention returned to the couple, she was planting a kiss on his cheek. That was when it became clear she was trouble.