The Gentiles

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“Would you do the honors, nymph?”

It took me a moment to realize he’s speaking to me. I was in a daze, as if I was an audience for a magazine photoshoot. I shake my head. What the heck am I thinking?

“What was that?” I ask with irritation coating my voice. Way to be obvious. I should have been more patient but this guy messes with me real bad.

The corner of Abe’s pink lips remained turned up and I’d like to curse the boy for being so cocky. “Undress me, Callie.”

I almost just about choke on the air I inhaled. Did I hear that right?

“What?” I coughed, not quite wanting to give in to the idea that Abe just asked me to strip him off his clothes.

The guy had the nerve to look smug. “You said you’re here to help me,” he placated in a condescending tone. “Well, I need your help to remove my shirt.”

He’s lucky I’m a master of tolerance or I would’ve backed out on my words and walked out the door. Really. Boys and their dirty minds. I felt as humiliated now as I always was whenever Jared would make a sex joke and I wouldn’t get it.

It hurts my ego. I hated not knowing.

But this. Abe is pretty upfront and telling. He doesn’t coat his words to confuse what they might meant to other people. My stomach did a strange flip as it registers in my brain that Abe says what he meant as much as he takes what he wants.

Simple as that. Real and genuine. Unapologetic.

Begrudgingly, my fingers made their way to the buttons of his black shirt, shaking a little as I stumble one after another, until finally, I reached the collar and the last one popped open.

Meeting his gaze, I felt even dizzier than I had seconds ago, making me realize how my breathing had been reduced to shallow ones the whole time I was concentrating on my task. An understanding passed through me from the gravity of his stare. His eyes were searching in contrast to the tension of the muscles of his body, his back straight as a pole, face marred with an unpleasant scowl. But he still looked beautiful.

Raggedly gorgeous with the visible wrinkles and faint scars. Why is my hand itching to trace every line on his skin? Aching to discover if the roughness that I’m seeing translate to the real complexion once I feel him?

Careful not to graze him, I carefully slide his shirt off his broad shoulders, wary of the way he strategically maneuvered his arm so as to not stretch it too much. There is a dark trail of hair on his lower abdomen. Thick and fine against his navel, disappearing at the band of his pants.

I was not able to have a good look at his torso last night, too focused on the task of playing a surgeon, and it’s not like I’d deliberately check him out. Right now, he’s just too close for me to ignore the glistening bronze of his skin and the strong stretched out muscles underneath it. He’s not bulky, just lean but one can see that he works out. Whatever it is he’s doing, if he keeps it up, he’d be huge as Johnny Bravo in no time. I just hope he doesn’t forget leg day so his bottom half wouldn’t look as toothpick-y as that narcissistic cartoon character.

“Careful, Callie.” It’s a warning and my head snapped up to find his eyes turn a darker shade than usual. “You better close that pretty little mouth or I might think of it as an invitation.”

Mortified, I hastily smacked my lips shut, gaze bouncing around the room to avoid his. I can feel his stare burning through me, making my heart run a race in my chest.

An invitation? What does that even mean?

Confused as I was with his words, there is no denying the way he’s making me feel. Not quite uncomfortable, just unfamiliar and… warm. All over.

“Let’s get you cleaned up,” I diverted, scrambling to get the things I need. “By the time I finish, I want you to have made up where you’re taking me for dinner.”

I don’t know where the courage to say that came from but with Abe, words just freely flow out. Maybe it’s the way he’s like, being unfiltered and never shy, and it’s rubbing off on me.

Thirty minutes later, I found myself inside Abe’s car once again but this time, we aren’t driving away from the city. We are driving towards back it, to a restaurant or someplace Abe has chosen for dinner.

He gave me a bit of hell after I cleaned him up, saying he didn’t ask me to do it and now I’m asking for dinner as a payment. Truth be told, I don’t care for that. I just don’t want to go home yet. Not when I’d be alone by myself. The whole school must be at the afterparty right now. It’s the senior’s last game, of course they’d celebrate their win big time. I wish I’m as brave as I am with Abe in that gymnasium and stood my ground. I wish I’m brave enough to go to the party with a straight face, pretend to have fun with Fely and Jared while the sight of the couple I dread to see is visible from my view.

That crushing thought was crushed by my stomach grumbling.

Abe chuckled. “Just a couple more minutes and we’ll be there,” he assured me. His eyes slid to me; an amused smile had one side of his lips quirked up.

“I didn’t wat lunch, okay?” I mumbled, crossing my arms on my chest and looking out the window to hide my heating face from him. A growl made me look back at him, however.

“What the fuck, Callie.”

I was surprised with the sudden animosity. Abe is not shy showing off his mood swings as well. He could go from hot to cold in seconds and just like that hitting me with a whiplash.

Instead of being scared, though, I felt my own ire rise up. “What did I do?”

I sounded like a spoiled brat whining to her parents when they reprimand her for something she so obviously had done but is still trying to deny. The only difference is that, I didn’t do anything wrong. So, really, what did I do now?

The car sped up for a few seconds, the force sending me flat against my seat. “Abe,” I gasped, almost inaudible. But he heard me.

He slowed down, parking on the side of the road. He didn’t turn the ignition off but kept his hands on the steering wheel with a deathly grip his knuckles turned white. I just stare at him, waiting. If I give him some time, he calms down on his own. He knows how to control his emotions by himself, something I am envious of.

With a deep breath, he turns to me. “You shouldn’t skip a single meal.”

I stare back at him, dumbfounded. That loss of control was for me? He got upset because I didn’t have lunch?

I swallowed hard, feeling my throat constrict. Touched heavily by his concern, I am just as much as intimidated by his reaction. He has no business caring about me like that. I didn’t know the intensity of which his feelings might get and I can’t say I’m not affected by it.

Nodding my head, I force myself to hold his gaze. To show him I understood, that I will do what he says. “Okay,” I say softly.

His fingers relaxed on the steering wheel and he sighed. He reached out to me, and while before I today I would have cringed away from him, I leaned into his waiting hand. He cupped the side of my face and smirked.

My gut tightened and I noticed the warm spread throughout me again.

“Alright,” Abe says as he returns to the road. “Don’t want to keep the nymph waiting.”

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