WHY I WON'T FALL FOR YOU

a 10 Things I Hate About You story

From Sarah Rose Serena


"You're a Little Touched"

If only I was above all this teenage nonsense. Hormones and awkwardness and displaced hostility… Sometimes I want to scream. I just want to disappear into a black hole and scream my friggin' lungs out, till my chest gives out and my throat burns like fire. It helps. No matter what adults tell me, it does help. It's called venting frustration. Look it up. When you can't use your fists to make you feel better, use your voice. That's my motto.

Sure, I'm a hostile person. Most of the time I am pretty pissed off for really no rational reason at all, just the way I am; I'm just irritable. It makes it tough to deal with me. I understand it, I do. I don't give a shit. But I understand.

So I like to lock myself up in my room with Les Paul? With closed eyes and a devoted spirit I can almost forget the world exists, forget all my regrets and grievances. Forget why I am now a perpetually angry girl... woman—feminist—whatever. The point is: I didn't use to be like this. It just happened, due to a stream of seemingly coincidental and not completely unconnected events. Like Mom's death. Like my heart when it got stomped on by an insensitive yet not especially special boy. Like when my typically thick skin was ridden with insecurity due to a certain heart-stomping. I play until my fingertips and/or my voice gets raw, whichever happens to occur first.

And due to this little habit, I sometimes sink into the melancholy of it and forget my necessary sanctuary as my companion. As a result: I find myself being mocked after a certain leather-clad 'sheep in wolf's clothing' catches me humming to myself.

Yes, I swear I had no idea he was behind me, listening to me as I hunched over my notepad and worked on the lyrics to a new song, humming away to myself, complete with the tempo head-bob, so lulled into complacency that my walls had momentarily been forgotten to be guarded.

I'll admit to my inner self (occasionally) that I have finally met someone who has an uncontrollable and completely un-ignorable effect on me. I had lasted so well with my thick hide and comforting misplaced hostility to keep people at bay, trapped on the outside of the drawbridge to my defensive castle wall, with guards posted at every entrance. It was helpful. It was necessary. In moments of retrospect I realize that I had hardened, somewhat sadly, over the years, over the experiences. But those moments of self-pity normally never lasted longer than 50 seconds. And then we move… and a very mysterious, very infuriating stranger comes careening to a dangerous halt seconds before driving his pretty motorcycle right through my open car door, and preceding to glare menacingly at me, as if it were my fault he hadn't been looking where he was going!

The second time we saw each other wasn't any better. One of our first meetings was when I was eating lunch in the quad. He was littering—not the best way to go about impressing me. I went to pick up his trash and toss it into the bin which was right beside us, when he did it again, pointedly challenging me. Man, was I pissed. I turned to pick it up again and issued a scathing remark, and you know what he said to me?

"Maybe I just like watching you bend over."

But that wasn't even the worst part. Typically at that point I would have been nauseous and violent. But when I turned to glare down at him, as he relaxed in the grass, leaning back on his elbows, looking up at me with that lazy smirk, I didn't feel sickened. I felt… I wanted to… God, it was horrible. It was definitely a defining moment for me. In my defense though, I did kick the trash bin over on him in revenge. So I wasn't completely a lost cause at that point.

But it was just another step in the downhill path I would be taking since meeting him.

My walls effectively began to crumble, unnoticed by me of course.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm rambling. I'll simplify.

It all seemed to have started with this…

I sit at a picnic table in the quad at school, during lunch. The tray of what I am sure is inedible waste material I plan to protest sits at the opposite end of the table, untouched by me—because I like to think of myself as somewhat sane. The sun is bright and blinding. I consider taking my hair down, which is done up haphazardly, just to provide a curtain from the harsh light. But I don't bother. It's too hot. And there doesn't seem to be any wind today, because we suddenly woke up with Arabian weather instead of the gratingly steady temperatures of mildness.

It was daydreaming weather. And I just couldn't manage preventing my mind from straying away from the task at hand. I come back to the paper, white and too clean and mockingly empty. Mostly because I just tore out the page that was scribbled all over and threw it away from me with a frustrated growl. I tap the end of the pen against the paper. Thump, thump, thump. Ooh, ooh, yeah. "Angie Baby," I half murmur, half hum. The pen thumps harder, slower. My brow knits as I stare into purity. Hopeless, I think.

Just as I am about to pitch the pen angrily across the quad I'm startled away from my writer's block of purgatory.

"That melody's familiar," someone murmurs into my ear, too close for comfort. The warm breath caressing the exposed skin at the nape of my neck has hackles rising along my spine instantly. If I was a dog, my scruff would be spiked. As it is, the fair hairs on my arms crackle with static and goose bumps emerge.

I spin in my seat, scowl securely in place as I squint up through the sun at his back. He's tall, so much taller than I originally gave credit. My gaze goes up from his stupid combat boots, follows the line of his lean legs, and the subtle lines detectable from under the dark t-shirt he's wearing, and finally lands on Patrick Verona's amused face. But it's not the amusement, or even his intensely gleaming eyes that are on me, that I bristle at. It's the cockiness in his smirk.

"For the record: stalking is illegal in all fifty states," I warn testily.

He chuckles with a shake of his head and plops down beside me on the bench. His elbows are propped behind him on the table and his neck is twisted while he focuses on me. "I'll make a note of that," he promises.

"What do you want?" I sour. Tapping the pen erratically now, no beat at all. I try to ignore the butterflies of nervousness fluttering in my gut. There is a tilt to his head that warms something low and deep inside me. I try to ignore that too. Hopelessly.

"What makes you think I want something?" he challenges, his dark brow rising at me. The smirk had faded a few sentences ago, but there is a subtle quirk to his lips that is sexier than the smirk. Sexy? No. Never mind. I shake my head.

I look at him: 'really, genius?' my face says. It's a common look for me. My face is used to it. "Can I help you with anything in particular? Perhaps an electrocution...?" Where's my taser?

"Oh." His face does something that reminds me of a sneer, but it passes so quickly I'm not quite certain. Then his eyes and lips flash suggestively. "I figured you for a kink kind of girl," he whispers lewdly.

I grimace at him. My hand comes up, the one without a pen (sadly), and aims a smack at him. He dodges smoothly and looks excited. The hit and miss burns my face red. I try again, for my pride's sake. But his long fingers wrap around my wrist and hold me still. I glare. He smirks. "You're enjoying this way too much," I mumble, frowning at him, our arms raised in impasse.

"What can I say?" he shrugs. He leans in and smiles conspiratorially at me. "Your skittishness gets me all riled up." The way his voice is low and husky makes it sound like so much more than it is. Sharp tongued sparring. Banter. It's a game. To him. And to me… mostly.

I yank my arm from his touch, ignoring the way the pleasant warmth had lanced out through the contact spot and radiated up through the rest of me. I keep myself from arcing back from him, on principle alone. It's not that I like the nearness. It's not because I can see the flecks of warm golden in his molten eyes at this range. It's definitely not because of a million other unimportant and irrational reasons that flit through my head at the most inconvenient times.

He watches me, like always, and critters skitter along my skin. I blush in discomfort. I can feel it heating my cheeks, moving down the hollow of my throat and spreading out between my breasts, coloring my collarbone, connecting the fair dots. Images of his lips following the reddening path flash through my head, making me angrier. At him or me, who's to know? But the look in his eyes says he knows what I'm thinking, knows the heat is pooling between my thighs.

I think of Dad. His many lectures of the evilness of sex and all that lead to it, including hormones and lust and bad boys with eyes that can burn right into you and haunt your dreams, much embarrassingly admitted to one's self yet never, ever, ever said aloud. I think of Daddy: my dad the OB/GYN. I think of the birthing videos he forces me and Bianca to watch once a month. The mess, the stickiness, the pain, the screaming, the cursing, the ripping and tearing of a woman's most sensitive area, the look on said woman's face is a look of unadulterated horror. I'll never forget it.

It quells the warmth spreading through me, let's me meet Patrick's stare again with a level head and a stony expression. I am not affected by you, my eyes tell him.

Maybe he can see that I'm lying, or at least how hard I'm trying. But maybe he can't. I shrug and pull back as if suddenly growing bored. It's hard work, especially since he keeps staring. My eyes glue to the blankness of the white paper. The pen rests carelessly aside it. I carefully pick it up, as if such a simple task takes concentration, and delicately hover it over the paper, sinking back into the frustration of writer's block.

Out of the corner of my eyes I watch Patrick's gaze jump intently from my face to the notepad then back to me again. There's tension here, growing studiously stronger as the seconds of stillness pass. It takes all my willpower and an abundance of stubbornness to pointedly ignore it. He opens his mouth, and I brace for impact.

"Verona," someone purrs from behind us.

I give myself whiplash. He turns leisurely to regard the bottle-blonde with an abundance of chest and a lack of clothing. The way her eyes cling to him makes me want to barf. Or smack her, just on principle. Girls like her grate against my feministic nerves. It is personal, my dislike for this type of person. It has nothing to do with him.

I swear.

"Are you ready?" she demands impatiently, cocking a hip and crossing her ankles. My eyes dart down to the impractical and painful-looking heels adorning her pedicure-ridden feet. I don't even bother to repress my eye-roll.

Patrick cocks an eyebrow and looks at her like he's trying to remember whether he's ever met her before. I try not to snicker. I don't succeed. But at least I turn my head and hunch in on myself, so it's kind of masked. I guess. He shoots me a conspiratorial look before turning back to her with his suave-smirk perfectly in place. "Hm," he made a sound. I guess Miss Bimbo doesn't warrant any articulation, not that I really think she'd appreciate it. With a sigh, Patrick's body flexes out of its relaxed posture beside me as he glides to his feet fluidly. I hate that he has grace on top of it all. Me? Well, that's best left unevaluated.

With no more than a casual glance over his shoulder at me, Patrick flings an arm loosely over Miss Bimbo's shoulders and waltzes away lazily. I watch him go. I can feel myself glowering at his back. What is it about bad boys with danger lurking beneath the surface that lures so many hapless girls into that deadly trap? Not that I'm hapless, not by a long shot. I mean… not that I'm being lured into any traps. No. That's most definitely not happening, and never will.

Before I can launch into a train of thoughtful misery I redirect my seething to the blank paper and pen. It's really easy. It just pours out. Writer's block completely forgotten, pen touches paper.

Reasons Why I Won't Fall For Patrick Verona:

1. His smart-ass smirk

2. His mocking "You're obsessed with me" broodiness

3. His derogatory laugh

4. His deep-throated voice

5. His slouching shoulders

6. His leather jacket

7. His motorcycle

8. His watchful gaze

9. His infuriating and so painstakingly fathomless stare

10. His lingering hands (especially when aforementioned hands are lingering all over random bimbos)

11. His…

I scratch furiously at the line in my notepad, leaving angry indents on the white lined paper. If I don't limit myself to ten I'll be at this all day. I huff out an aggravated breath and blow a stray strand of hair out of my face while glaring down at the paper. The written words stare up at me, mocking me and my infuriation. Why am I always so fixated on that guy? He was right, goddamn him. I am obsessed.