Crashing Into Her

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Minutes later, having secured an early morning flight, a free hotel stay, food vouchers, and the promise of a check for 300 percent more than the price I paid for my original ticket, I drag myself back through the main terminal and follow the signs to ground transportation. I’d still prefer to sleep in my own bed tonight, but getting bumped off a flight apparently has many perks if you ask for them; amusing the gate agent responsible for doling out those perks probably helps, too.

I send a quick update to Tori and Ashley. The latter responds with a combo of thumbs-up and heart-eyes emojis. The former sends a two-word reply: Hang on. In the meantime, I hustle behind a dozen or so people waiting for cabs.

Tori sends a longer text a minute later:

Anthony’s at the airport. He just dropped off my parents and Bianca. They’re heading to NYC for sightseeing. He can pick you up outside the terminal and take you to the hotel. Says he’s coming around again and will look for you. Ok, Carter’s giving me some serious side-eye. Going on airplane mode. Love you.

A heavy weight settles in my belly when I finish reading her message. Shit. Tori’s cousin—I’ve secretly dubbed him the square root of Thor—is the last person I want to see. My hand flies to the unruly strands on my head. Argh. This hair travesty alone is spiking my blood pressure, which doesn’t bode well for him. When I’m not at my personal best, I’m more irritable than usual, and judging by our interaction this weekend, Anthony’s very presence makes me cranky. This should be fun for everyone involved.

It isn’t long before he finds me. In truth, I spot him first and duck my head, giving me a minute to watch him as he rounds his rental car and surveys the line, his eyes hidden behind silver lens aviators that are pure overkill given that sunset is fast approaching. To me, a white T-shirt and jeans typically read basic; on him, they add dimension to his appearance, emphasizing the assured, relaxed way he carries himself. And although I’m aware there’s no correlation between the size of a man’s hands and the girth of his penis, I still glance at his long fingers—for pseudoscience. The man’s an eggplant emoji, for sure.

He shouts to get my attention, his smoky voice pulling my mind out of its permanent residence in the trash bin. “Eva! Over here!”

The woman in front of me twists her upper body around and meets my gaze. “Dayum. Are you Eva?”

Stifling the urge to laugh, I nod.

“No offense, but I’m considering stealing your identity,” she says.

Ha. Imagine how she’d react if I told her he’s a Hollywood stunt professional. She’d probably shank me. “No offense taken, and yeah, I know what you mean.”

Because yes, there’s no denying the man’s physical gifts: broad shoulders, dark brown wavy hair that’s a smidge too long for my liking, and full lips that probably predispose him to better-than-competent-kisser status. He’s a mishmash of muscles and scruff, but in a refined package, like the construction worker in a music video who struts around with manicured hands, spotless jeans, and a single, perfect streak of dirt across his cheek. All of this means Anthony takes up more than his fair share of physical space in my mind’s eye, not because he’s huge—although he is big considering my five-foot-two frame—but because there’s so much to absorb when I look at him that I trick myself into giving him a larger blueprint. Oddly, no single trait stands out from the rest; rather, it’s the totality of the man that holds my attention hostage. Free me, damn you.

It’s been this way since I met him a few days ago. In that moment, the idea of a hookup planted itself in my brain, an unfortunate and all too common occurrence when a sexually frustrated woman gives up on pricks but still wants dick. But then Tori warned me against pursuing him, explaining that he’s “emotionally unavailable,” whatever that means, and I grudgingly backed away. In short, bitches before itches. Still, the thirst is strong with this one. Until he opens his mouth, that is.

Since I can’t ogle him forever, I step out of line and give him a weak wave, readjusting the strap of my bag across my body.

He saunters over to meet me, a lopsided grin broadcasting that he’s poised to say something annoying. “Philadelphia decided it couldn’t handle you either, huh?”

And this is the crux of the problem: He speaks. What I wouldn’t give for a roll of duct tape. I’d use it on his mouth and anywhere with a surplus of hair. His crotch, probably. “Ahhh, so that’s what happened. You decided you couldn’t handle me.” I scan him from his head to the tops of his derby shoes. “Makes sense. I spy a lightweight.”

Folding his thick arms over his impressive chest, he takes a step back and tilts his head. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Why the hostility, Eva? I thought we were friends.”

“We’re acquaintances, not friends, and I’m good with that.”

He pouts at me and runs his index finger from his lower eyelid down to the hollow of his cheek. Sad face. I press my lips together, refusing to laugh at his antics even though that’s exactly what I’d do if our roles were reversed. When he gets no reaction from me, he lowers his arm and sighs. “Not interested in being my friend because . . . ?”

I give him a halfhearted shrug. “Not sure, exactly. You just rub me the wrong way.”

He leans in and waggles his eyebrows. “Teach me how to rub you the right way, then.”

The epiphany smacks me upside my head: Anthony’s my male counterpart. As evidenced by the swagger, the self-confidence—in his case, it’s overconfidence—and the mouth that must have the last word, no matter how inappropriate it may be. There’s only room for one of me in my life, however, and if I were looking for someone to balance out my ridiculousness, this man would fail miserably. On one end of the spectrum is a shy, quiet type who’ll cower in the center of my tornado; on the other end of the spectrum is someone like Anthony, who’ll grab the funnel with his bare hands and swing it around in the hopes of wreaking even more havoc. Neither one will do. Well, given my abysmal track record when it comes to men, no one will do.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t extract a little fun from the situation. So I drop my bag, round the front of his rental car, and hop onto the hood, resting my feet on the bumper and spreading my legs wide. Waving him over, I say, “You want to learn how to rub me the right way? Go ahead. Break me off a little something right here and show me what we’re working with.”

I raise my face toward the sky and close my eyes. A woman somewhere in the vicinity cackles. Car horns blare with impatience as drivers try to navigate the airport traffic. Anthony, however, doesn’t say a word. I drop my head and open one eye to sneak a peek at his reaction. But he’s not in my line of sight. Someone else is, though—and the scowl on his face suggests he isn’t friendly at all.

Fuck me sideways twice.

From CRASHING INTO HER. Copyright © 2019 by Mia Sosa.