Taking one look at his face, Claire hopelessly dropped her head and combed her fingers through her hair, chastising herself for even glancing in his direction.
Everything about him was perfect.
An ache turned at the pit of her stomach. She knew full well that there would be no chance in hell that someone with a face like his would even glance in her direction. Her focus was intently fixated on the steady curve of his long fingers as he brought the beer mug up to his lips, taking a long draw with his eyes closed.
He looked intelligent.
And he was built like Adonis.
She dejectedly smiled to herself, emerging herself once again into her drink, seething with jealousy at whomever that dark stranger fell in love with. Claire could almost see him draping his arm around the perfect curve of a beautiful women's shoulder, or smiling at his lover with the flawless hairpin curve of his lips, or turn his green eyes on his lover's face.
All Claire wished, as she sat alone at that small bar with her lone drink, was to be lucky enough to be able to chart his pale blue veins and to get lost in the constellations of that stranger's green eyes. She wanted to be able to run her fingers down his bare arms and into his hands.
But she was never that lucky.
She stared at the her reflection against the amber liquid in the glass, thinking about how she just wasn't pretty enough or smart enough or good enough to ever merit the attention of such a stranger who was perfect in every single way. He was so perfect, in fact, that simply thinking about him in such an innocent, displaced way had her squirming in her seat, wishing she had enough self-control to get up and leave instead of torturing herself in his presence.
Smiling to herself in a moment of weakness, Claire gathered her jacket, threw a generous twenty dollar bill on the counter, and began the walk of shame and self-resentment toward the front door. She slid into her jacket, bundling herself up for the onslaught of snow.
"Goddamn," was her muted reaction to the white blanket just outside the window. "I don't want to walk home in this."
Despite the unwillingness to step out into the compromising weather just outside the door, Claire slowly pulled on her gloves, bracing herself for the wave of cold air that would soon envelop her. As she reached for the door handle, a hand stopped hers halfway.
"You need a ride?"
Claire turned her neck just far enough to see his jacket, then lifted her eyes to his, swallowing down whatever disgusting heat that swelling up at the pit of her stomach at the sight of the same stranger she was so enchanted with. Lips parted, ready for a response, Claire realized a little too late that she hadn't run it through her brain first.
"That'd be great. Thank you."
What the actual fuck, she bit her cheek hard, chastising herself for the second time that night for melting into a puddle.
But when he smiled. Oh, when he smiled…Claire was quickly reminded how in love she was with him in the few minutes that she had spent in his general proximity.
"I'm Dean," he said loudly over the sound of the roaring wind, taking her by the elbow and guiding her toward the snow-caked black Impala parked a little way into the parking lot.
She shivered as she sat in the passenger's seat, watching as Dean started the engine and turned the heat all the way up for her sake. "My name's Claire."
A fire was stroked in her belly when he smiled again and pulled the vehicle out of the parking lot. "Tell me if I'm wrong, but do you always walk through blizzards just to stare at guys over a glass of beer?"
Claire grit her teeth under an embarrassed grin. "Was I that obvious?"
"Mmm," he mused, "a little bit."
"I'm sorry," Claire laughed even though she felt the red in her cheeks rise up to her ears.
"Don't be sorry," he was shaking his head vigorously and insisted. "I mean, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't coping a look at you every now and then too."
Claire laughed and tried to look as distracted as one could appear staring out the window at a blizzard. "Lucky me."
He glanced over. "What was that?"
"Oh, nothing," she dismissed with a mischievous grin, sliding her reddened fingers out from the gloves that were counterproductive from the cold. "Nothing at all."
A moment of silence lapsed over the course of seconds into minutes and the only sound that broke the silence and settled into the air between Claire and Dean was the sound of Chicago humming through the speakers. She instructed the route towards her modest little abode, cutting the directions short so he wouldn't have to look at the eyesore that was her cabin.
"You live alone?" There was concerned curiosity in his tone that Claire swore that she would never forget.
She nodded, bracing herself with one hand against the dashboard when the Impala came to a halt ways from where her cabin sat over a frost-covered river. "I never was lucky with men."
Dean stared at her for what seemed like years, eyes squinted as if he was studying her every facial feature as the seconds ticked by, waiting for her to break under his intensity. Though it didn't take long for her to break eye contact with him, her face getting as red as her hair, Dean continued to watch and continued to admire her every movements.
"Maybe that can change."
"Yeah," she chuckled and intertwined her middle and pointer finger, "here's hoping." Claire fumbled with her gloves and was halfway through thanking him for his kindness when she stopped short and took a deep breath, realizing just how fast she was talking and how intently he was still watching her.
Oh, great. Great job, Claire. The guy of your dreams just drove you home and you sound like a nineteen year old after half a glass of wine.
"Sorry." The word tasted bland and overused as it rolled off of her lips. "I wish I had something to give you in return for driving me but my cabin isn't exactly warm and my wallet isn't exactly full."
"Don't worry about it." He brushed it away, leaning over to rifled through the glove compartment for a business card. "Hey, I can't say I'm too happy leaving you alone here in the middle of a blizzard, but if you need anything call me."
"It says your name is Burt Aframian on this card."
Dean didn't skip a beat to justify. "It's really my partner's card. The phone number is still good though. Promise."
Biting down on her lips, still reading and rereading the 3.5 by 2 inch business card, Claire nodded and swung the Impala's door open, placing one booted foot down onto the bed of snow. "Thanks again."
He smiled and tilted his chin upward.
Though disappointed in the lack of acceleration of such a situation, Claire hiked up to her cabin with a chest full of happiness simply from being so close to Dean. No, she didn't get to run her fingers down his arms and she didn't get to chart his pale blue veins but she did get to be lost in the constellations in his eyes in the fifteen minutes that she got to spend with him.
It was more than enough for her.