This didn't turn out exactly like I had wanted it to, but oh well. Anyway, tomorrow's my birthday and I wanted to have it posted before then! Enjoy! I'll probably post a new chapter of "A Smile Like Yours" within the next day or two, so check back!
"Corny," she said his name, and coughed softly. "What are you doing here?"
He smiled easily at her.
"May I come in?" He asked again, and she stepped aside for him to enter, her eyes watching as he stepped into the house. She studied the flowers in his hand, and he held them out to her casually. "Here, these are for you. Happy Birthday."
She took the bouquet into her hand and studied the flowers intensely before looking back up at him.
"What are you doing here?" She asked the question again.
"I just wanted to make sure you were okay. I heard some of the things your mother was saying to you on the way out of the studio. I thought maybe you were tied up and gagged." She studied him with cold eyes, and then turned to walk down the hallway, letting the flowers fall onto a small end table. He followed her into the living room and sighed loudly. "They're going to die if you don't put them in water."
She glanced toward the flowers, and mumbled something under his breath.
"What was that?" He was still standing, holding the small covered pan, and she looked up at him.
"I said that as soon as my mother sees them they're going to die, anyway. She kills everything she comes in contact with." Including her spirit. She frowned at the flowers for another moment, and then disappeared. When she returned, she had a small vase full of water, and slipped the flowers into it. Even if her mother did throw them out as soon as she saw them, there was no point in just letting them die. She studied them after she placed them on a side table. "Thank you."
She let herself fall onto the couch, and he placed the small pan on his lap as he sat neatly beside her.
"You know, Amber, no one should have to be alone on their birthday." Not even the ice princess herself.
"That's not the way my mother sees it," she let herself answer him, and knew that if, for some reason, her mother were to come home right now, they would both be in more trouble than she could stand to think about right now.
"Yeah, well…" She knew that he was trying to think of something to say to her in return, without admitting any of the detestation he felt for Velma. She wished he would say something awful about her right now; it would open up the flood gate for all of the vicious things she herself wanted to say. "Your mother operates by her own convictions."
They sat in silence for a moment, and she turned her face away from him, inadvertently turning her head just enough so that the cuts scaling the length of her jaw were visible to him. He tsked softly, and she glared back at him.
"Wow. Shelley really cut you up, huh?" There was a hint of amusement in his voice, and it made her angry again suddenly. Her eyes flashed with rage.
"I'm really not in the mood to hear it from you, Corny. If you have nothing better to do than make a mockery of me, you can just leave." Her wounds were throbbing now, perhaps from the simple reminder that they were there, and they were ugly.
"I'm sorry," his voice came quietly a moment later, "but, Amber, you really should have gone to a doctor. They look like they might get infected."
"It's fine," her voice was cold, and she crossed her arms over her chest. "I don't need a doctor. I've learned to heal by myself." She spoke the words, knowing that there were two connotations for them, and hoped that he hadn't picked up on that fact. She heard him move on the other side of the couch, and he picked up the small container he had brought with him, sitting it on his lap.
"I just…" he let himself hesitate as she watched his fingers pull back the aluminum foil. "I had a hunch you might be here alone, so I made you something." He held the small round cake out to her, and she studied its imperfections, with white icing dripping down the sides and the way it caved in slightly in the middle. She wanted to laugh at its ridiculous appearance, but the pain in her heart stopped her. He sat it on the couch between them, and licked a dollop of icing from his finger as she studied the desert.
"I can't eat that," she found herself saying the words, though it wasn't what she wanted to say. Even now, when her mother had abandoned her on the biggest day of her life, her voice was in the back of Amber's mind, chiding her for even being tempted to taste such a fattening treat. "My mother would make me exercise for a year just to work off one piece."
She pretended not to notice the disappointment in his eyes, but he was back quickly, his lips curving into a smug smile.
"Just one little bite," he urged her, and she could practically feel her taste buds begging her to give into him. She let her tongue dart out to lick her lips, and felt a smile pressing onto her face, even though she had tried her best to disguise it as a simple look of indecisiveness. She heard her stomach growl, and he did too, because he looked at her.
"You're hungry, Amber." He said it like she couldn't tell. She nodded in spite of herself.
"My mother was supposed to take me to this amazing French restaurant she's been talking about for years." She could feel her mouth watering just thinking about the amazing menu her mother had described to her. "Of course, you know how that went." She saw his eyes drop from the corner of her eye, and he smiled softly at her.
"Just take a bite. One little bite." He was pleading with her now, and she was enjoying it.
"Okay," she nodded along with her words, and started to reach her finger out, just to taste some of the creamy icing that had been spread onto the lopsided cake. He pulled it away quickly before she was able to touch it.
"Wait," he disappeared for a moment, and she sat dumbly, listening as she heard him rustling around in the kitchen. He joined her again a moment later, holding the cake carefully in his hands as he made his way over to her, the fire of eighteen candles flickering over his face as he sat it down on the coffee table in front of her. "If we're going to do this, we have to do it right." He raised an eyebrow at her. "Now, Miss Von Tussle, let me treat you."
She wanted to wrap her arms around him and kiss him, thank him for making her feel so special when everyone in the world had forgotten about her. Of course, she didn't. She couldn't find it in herself to do anything but smile sweetly at him.
He used a fork to cut off a small piece from the side, and promptly raised the utensil to her pink lips. She watched him carefully, and when the fork was close enough, she opened her mouth and he slid it in. The sweetness filled her mouth instantly, and she tried to remember the last time she'd had a piece of cake that tasted half as good. She let out a quiet moan of pleasure, and closed her eyes as she let herself savor the moment. When she looked at him again, he was smiling at her.
"Thank you," she said, and she meant it. He nodded, but didn't say a word. She let her fingers slip down to the cake, and swirled her finger over the creamy icing on top before bringing her finger to her mouth and letting her tongue lick it clean. She sighed again, and looked at him. "Really, thanks. I mean it."
"I know you do," he smiled softly at her, and then dug the fork into the cake again, this time lifting it to his own mouth and licking it clean.
"You make a mean cake," she smiled as she watched him, and he nodded in satisfaction.
They ate in silence for a few moments, and passed the fork back and forth between them, each taking their turn in licking the icing away. He mumbled something, and she turned to look at him. His eyes fell upon her abrasions, and she let her hand touch her cheek softly, forgetting that they marred her otherwise perfect skin. She flinched at the pain it caused to surge through her, and he didn't pretend not to notice. He stood up, and withdrew into the bathroom for a moment, returning with a small tube of cream and a damp cloth.
"I know you're going to protest," He spoke the words as he came toward her, and began to twist the cap off the tube, "but I don't care. You're going to get an infection if you don't clean your wounds." He held his hand against the top of her blonde head and used his other hand to dab her cheek with the soft rag. She groaned in objection and tried to pull away from him, but he was stronger than her, and she couldn't move from his grasp. She started to curse at him before she realized that he wasn't hurting her. As much pain as her injuries had caused her when she herself handled them, his touch was comforting. It was almost healing. She let herself lean into his touch, pressing her cheek slightly against the cloth, just as he pulled it away from her face. He squeezed some white cream onto his finger and brought it to her cheek, spreading it gently over her wounds. His gentle caress made her sigh inwardly, and a soft breath escaped through her sticky lips. He smiled gently at her as he finished smoothing the ointment on her face.
"There, that's better." He wiped his hands on the cloth, and folded it before laying it on the coffee table.
"Yeah, much," she sighed, trying to fight the tingling sensation in her belly that had began when his fingers had brushed her soft skin. She suddenly wanted him to touch her again; to use his fingertips to stroke even more sensitive parts of her body. His fingers stroked her cheek again, dancing dangerously close to the curve of her lips. She suddenly wanted to kiss his fingers, to take them into her mouth and-
He stood up suddenly.
"You know, that cake wasn't as filling as I thought. In fact, I'm starving." He stood staring at her, and she watched him blankly. "Let's go get something to eat."
She blinked at him.
"Corny, I can't, my mother-"
He laughed at her, and she furrowed her brows at him.
"You're telling me you've never lied to your mother before?" He dug his hands into his suit pockets, "I happen to know that is a lie."
She already knew that she was going to say yes before she spoke, but she wanted to make him wait for her answer.
"I don't know," she grinned coyly up at him, "I'm a picky eater. I have expensive taste."
He smiled back at her, reaching for her hand. She reached up, and he took her fingers into his slowly, bringing her knuckles to his mouth to place a soft kiss on them.
"I know this amazing French restaurant you'll just love."
She had completely forgotten about the scratches running down her face, or the fact that her mother had broken her heart. Suddenly, all that mattered was that this was the first day of her eighteenth year, and Corny Collins had just asked her on a date.