by Clara Howard ’19
Sam’s pretty sure there are times when she hates him. He is, after all, the most frustrating guy she’s ever known. Everything she says is cause for a salty comeback, and God forbid she stumbles over her words since he pounces on every mistake that she makes.
But then he grins at her and one of his replies destroys any anger as she completely dissolves into laughter, and she remembers why and how she’s falling for him. He may be incredibly infuriating—there’s surely some cosmic reason his initials are B.S. since he’s full of it—but he’s also just as funny and just as kind.
Don’t get her wrong, he’d heartily deny that last adjective since he does, after all, have a reputation to protect. But there’s no denying that he’s kind and loyal and honest, and though he revels in his punk-rock, bad boy image, she knows at his core he’s also an old-school gentleman.
(But damn, does he hide it well.)
She steals a glance at him and has to smile. He’s arguing (as per usual) some finer point of the card game they’re playing, his voice closer to shouting than is strictly necessary in the not-so-crowded basement they’re in.
She meets her friend’s eyes from across the room and rolls her own as the argument only gets more intense. Soon enough the arguing will turn into good-natured insults and they’ll finally be able to get back to the game, but no one really cares enough not to wait for it to happen. Plus, he almost always leaves everyone in peals of laughter anyway, so there’s no motivation to stop him.
She’s about to join in the argument and make some sort of retort when someone else beats her to the punch.
“Oh my God, we get it. Babe, just drop it so we can finish the freaking game already.” Her voice is deeper than you’d think, with a slight rasp that makes her sound like she still hasn’t fully woken up yet. Her pale-blonde eyebrows rise as she flings a card down on the table, not even bothering to hide her annoyance.
“This’ll be good,” the hostess whispers to Sam, sounding exasperated even though Sam knows she thrives on gossip.
“What do you—”
He turns then to his girl, the heat of the argument still alive in his flushed cheeks and glowing eyes as he tells her that he’ll freaking drop it when he proves this guy is freaking wrong.
And hot-damn because she does not appreciate that response. Her eyebrows shoot sky-high as her smoker’s voice sounds out an indignant “Excuse me?”
The response is silence, both from him and the room, with only the music faintly playing in the background.
Sam’s eyes get wide as she watches her glare at him, staring him down until he starts almost physically drooping. The only indication he’s angry is the tightening of his jaw as he looks at her, and there’s an unmistakable promise of “We’ll talk about this later” in his eyes before he breaks contact. The rest of the room is held in a tense silence, everyone holding their breath as though waiting for a bomb to go off. Sam’s almost positive that the easy camaraderie in the room’s been disintegrated, but then he opens his mouth and she remembers that he can diffuse just about anything with his sarcasm.
“Sam, you gonna play your card or you just gonna keep staring at my beautiful face?” He looks up at her and his green eyes flash in challenge.
The part of her that loves him aches right now, but it’s that same part that has her taking the bait to help him save face in front of their friends. She scoffs and flips through her cards. “Get over yourself, Siegel. The only reason I was staring at you was because I was wondering if you were ever going to realize you’ve had chocolate on your chin for the past hour and a half.”
His hand shoots up to his face as the group laughs, and just like that the chill dissipates in the room. People left and right are throwing their cards in, trading jokes and stories and insults like normal. He’s still a little stiff as he sits in his chair, and she’s slumped down on the couch, glaring at her cards with what Sam assumes is more than just your average resting-bitch-face.
She glances at him one more time and feels her heart skip a beat when she notices him watching her. He sends her one of his small, soft smiles and thanks her with his eyes before sliding his gaze elsewhere.
Sighing, Sam falls back against the arm of the couch she’s sitting in front of, cursing her stupid heart as she fights the desire to be anywhere but there.