Always Meant Something to Me
"Did you tell Kristie Carlson that I'm wearing your underwear?"
The door to his university residential hall room was barely open before I threw these words out accusingly at the occupant. He froze in the act of towelling his hair dry, clearly having just come out of the shower.
It was so like him to have pulled a crumpled pair of jeans on, but have left his torso naked, a move designed to make girls swoon that he had no doubt picked up from those stupid manly magazines he always read. You know the ones that run competitions picking Australia's best boobs and have pages dedicated to readers' favourite scabs?
I was not put off, however, my eyes didn't stray even once from his face to his bare chest…honestly!
"Okay," He said slowly, pulling the towel off his head and holding it loosely in one hand, not caring that it left his hair sticking up in all sorts of crazy directions. "Return question, are you, in fact, wearing my underwear?"
I went red, which matched nicely with the fact that I was seeing red.
"You know I am," I snapped. "That's not the issue here."
"It isn't?" He made a big show of looking bemused, but he was fooling no-one. "So, basically what you're accusing me of is telling the truth?"
"There's telling the truth and then there's deliberately telling the most gossipy person we know something that should be kept private," I clarified hotly, adding, "You stupid prick," At the end for good measure.
"So you're saying I shouldn't have told her all about the hot sex we had last night either?"
"Jimmy!" The horrified shriek erupted from the white hot core of my humiliation and, in the next second, my hand had whipped out and grabbed his towel from him. "You…complete…and…utter…arsehole," I gasped, battering him ineffectually with the towel. "How…could…you?"
"Hey, ow!" Jimmy backed away as a couple of my blows actually landed, but I followed him, too overcome with rage to identify just how badly my 'stay away from Jimmy' plan was working out this week.
"Seriously, Gen!" He was laughing now as I surged forward and delivered him a neat bop on the head with the twisted towel, it had no affect on him other than to make him laugh harder and fall backwards onto his bed. Unfortunately I still had too much momentum moving forward so I toppled with him, landing awkwardly on top of him, my skirt riding up.
"I was kidding." He grabbed my still flailing hands and pulled me down even closer. "I didn't say anything to her about us having sex."
"Just that I'm wearing your underwear? Yeah, you're a true gentleman," I snapped sarcastically. "Let me go."
"No, you'll just hit me again." I hated the stupid way his eyes crinkled when he was laughing, it was not, I repeat NOT, endearing like so many people seemed to think. And what was a guy doing having such long eyelashes? They were wasted on him, totally wasted. I bet he didn't even appreciate how hard most of us girls had to work to get that dark and long look.
"You're staring deeply into my eyes," He commented suddenly and I frowned, the reaction totally instant whenever I heard his voice. "Are my deep pools of light, sea green entrancing you?"
"You need to lay off the romance novels," I tried to look superior, something very difficult to achieve when straddling your high school nemesis and flashing him his own Mr Tickle boxers. "Look in a mirror, your eyes are just plain green."
"No way!" He objected. "I have it on good authority that my eyes are a light sea green."
"Whose good authority?" I demanded. "Helen Keller's? I've known you since you were 16, moron, and your eyes are most definitely dark green."
"Maybe they're just darker around you, did you think of that?" He smirked and I groaned as I realised what he was implying.
"Darker eye colour equals desire, right? Oh haha." I tried not to notice as he shifted the position of his hands so that his fingers were entwined with mine, Jimmy was best handled by ignoring him. Then again, the fact that I was sitting astride him on his bed, wearing his underwear and holding his hands should probably be taken as a fairly blatant sign that my strategy wasn't working.
"Come on, Jimmy, let go." I tried to pull my hands away, but he held on tighter and grinned his cheeky grin at me as if we were playing. "Don't make me hit you again." I warned him.
"Hey, I know the danger still exists, that's why I've got your hands," He pointed out.
I flashed him a sickly sweet smile and shifted one of my knees slightly towards his groin.
"Let me go, or you sing soprano."
"You're a cruel woman, Genevieve." He reluctantly let me go and I clambered off him immediately, pushing my skirt down as I went.
"Cruel to be kind," I shot back. "The longer I'm in your company, the more likely it is that I'll do you some lasting damage."
"More lasting than your grip upon my heart?" He asked dramatically, sitting up and gripping his chest.
I rolled my eyes and turned to leave only for him to jump past me and flatten himself against the doorframe, blocking my way.
"Oh what now?" I groaned. "What do you want, Jimmy? Your underwear back? Fine!" Blushing, but determined to make the point, I reached up under my skirt and tugged at the silky material underneath. The boxers were very loose on me so they came down easily, the seemingly innocent face of Mr Tickle appearing from under my hem, making me feel a bit like I'd corrupted him. "Just for the record," I muttered, "An awkward situation like this could be avoided if, in the heat of passion, you could stop yourself throwing your partner's knickers out the window."
"I guess that's the point of the heat of passion," He unashamedly watched me as I stepped out of his underwear, "you can't stop yourself doing things like throwing your partner's knickers out the window."
"Well here," I thrust the underwear at him. "You have yours back, I hope I'm just as fortunate and someone will return mine at some stage."
He took the boxers into his hand and then the dopiest expression crossed his face and he still didn't move out of the way of the damn door.
"Jim?" I demanded.
"What?" He shook his head as if he'd forgotten momentarily that I was there. "Sorry, I just experienced one of my number one fantasies. I could swear that this girl I'm totally in love with just took off her underwear and gave it to me."
"She gave you your underwear," I reminded him brusquely, adding quickly, "And you're not in love with me. We had a very nice night last night, but you shouldn't read any more into it."
"Could you be more prissy, Gen?" He laughed lightly and, I could tell, falsely. "Are you going to offer me a cup of tea and remind me we really shouldn't be talking like this without a chaperone?" Although he was doing a good job hiding it, I finally seemed to have annoyed him and I was perversely glad; his anger I could take, the never-ending cheeriness was more difficult.
"A chaperone would be pretty redundant considering I'm standing here going commando after a wild night of pre-marital sex with you, wouldn't you say?" I cocked my head and raised my eyebrows hoping to maintain his irritation with me. The more wound up he got, the more likely it was he'd allow me to leave; he might actively encourage it even.
"Well, that," He agreed, annoyingly unperturbed by my teasing, "and also that this isn't exactly the first time we've been in this position."
"James Alexander!" I exclaimed in outrage, "What are you saying? I've never gone commando before!"
He chuckled, a sound so different from the laugh he'd put on a second ago. This sound wrapped around my chest and squeezed, making me feel breathless. I think I preferred the fake 'meant to annoy Gen' laugh, frankly.
"I get one fantasy and then have another one destroyed." He heaved a melodramatic sigh, obviously completely over his moment of annoyance. "But, no, that's not what I meant. I meant that this isn't exactly the first time we've had the awkward morning after talk."
"This isn't the morning after talk," I said quickly. "It's 12.30 in the afternoon."
"Well this would have been our morning after talk if you hadn't snuck out while I was still sleeping." Was he being pointed? I think he was! For heavens sake!
"I thought men were supposed to like it when their one night stands disappeared without any expectations about a continuing relationship?" I complained, throwing my hands up in exasperation. Men! You just couldn't win.
"Maybe if it was a one night stand, but what are we up to now, Gen? Our tenth night stand?"
No, it couldn't be…could it? I did some quick arithmetic.
There was that first time in high school, a proper first for both of us, if you get what I mean, then the time at the beach party, not to be recommended, I still winced from the chafing that had occurred when you put nakedness, sea and sand together. I continued to cycle through the memories; upstairs at that Amanda girl's party, his cousin's pool (also not a good idea, chlorine is about as unromantic as it gets), my residential hall room, his residential hall room, Maddie's tent at the bush party, back at home in my room, and then the last two times had been in his room again.
God, it was ten.
"Ten times in four years, though," I tried to soften the impact. "Mathematically that's only, like, two and a half times a year."
"Still not what you'd call 'just the once' though, is it?" He persisted.
"So, what's your point?" I asked hotly, uncomfortably aware that having the other person in a conversation know that you have nothing on under your skirt severely weakened your standing in the discussion. "We've slept together more than what could be traditionally construed as a one night stand, so what? We're sort of friends type people," I cringed at my awful explanation of what we were to each other, but ploughed on quickly, "and sort of friends type people can have sex multiple times without it meaning anything."
"They can, can they?" He wasn't so much blocking the door now, but rather leaning cockily against it regarding me with amusement, smug bastard. "I guess nobody forwarded me the guidelines on being a 'sort of friends type person' then because it's always meant something to me."
I gaped at him speechless. Surely he didn't mean…?
Obviously I knew Jimmy didn't exactly find me repellent, the constant flirting and 'grab any chance to get me in bed' attitude gave that away no problems. But then he'd always been like that, I just assumed that that was the way he was. I'd certainly never thought our, apparently just a little over biannual, get togethers had meant something to him.
"So that's why I'm always up for it." He shifted slightly, finally betraying that he was at least a little bit human and, therefore, uncomfortable at my long, and obviously horror filled, silence. "What's your excuse?"
I tried to come up with something, I honestly did, but, still reeling from his words, I couldn't think what to say. I mean, he did have a point. Why did I keep falling into bed with him?
"I…don't know," I finally answered feebly and he narrowed his eyes, clearly dissatisfied with my answer.
"That's weak, Gen." He chastised me, but I could only shrug.
"Well, what do you want me to say?" Was I coming across as a completely heartless bitch? Probably, but maybe there was some truth in that. I'd worked hard to come across as cold around Jimmy, it wasn't easy, but years of practice had aided me in my mission. You see, if I wasn't cold with him…well then things like last night happened.
He regarded me for a moment and then straightened, an alarming look of purpose coming into his eyes.
"Right," he said decisively, "I'm going to try something." He moved forward towards me and I took an automatic step back.
"What are you going to do?" I asked, suddenly strangely nervous.
"Just a little experiment," he explained, adding when my face betrayed how not reassured I was by that explanation, "It won't hurt, I promise. Just hold still for a moment."
Deciding that, after my not so great reaction to his announcement that sleeping with me meant something to him, I probably owed him one, I did as he said, standing stiffly with my arms clamped down by my sides as he stepped closer once again.
Never breaking eye contact with me, he reached up and ran the back of one of his hands lightly across my cheek, before letting his fingers trail down and drift across my neck and the skin exposed by the loose neck of my top. I managed to keep my face blank during this, but my body gave me away as I shivered slightly and little goosebumps appeared where he had touched me.
Seeming satisfied with my response he moved closer still, so that the simple act of breathing in pushed me against him and I could feel the heat from his bare chest pulsing on the exposed skin on my arms.
I opened my mouth to make some comment about the invasion of my personal space, but it was just at that moment that he decided to grasp me by the hips, yank me to him, and kiss me.
It was a deep kiss, aided by the fact that I already had my mouth open, and also, I think, because Jimmy seemed to have some sort of point to prove. It quickly got to the stage, however, where I didn't care why his mouth was pressed so hotly against mine just so long as it stayed there.
My hands rose of their own accord, roving up and down his bare back as I pushed myself up harder against him. He swallowed the little moan that I released from the back of my throat, but I felt his lips curl up into a little smile against mine so he'd definitely heard it.
Just as I was about to start tugging him back towards the bed, however, his hands clamped down on my shoulders and he pushed me firmly away, breaking the kiss. As I pulled in a surprised breath at having our contact so suddenly and brutally taken away, he pressed his forehead briefly against mine, as if resting, and then stepped back.
For a moment we just stared at each other, breathing heavily.
"So," he ran a hand through his already rumpled hair and smiled his lopsided smile at me, "I think it's fair to say that it's not a lack of physical attraction to me that keeps our time together to an average of two and a half times a year. You obviously find me very sexually appealing."
I was still recovering from the kiss, but even so I couldn't let a comment that arrogant slide by unchallenged. "Excuse me?" I choked, but his grin only widened.
"Do you want me to prove it to you again?" He enquired, making as if to pull me against him all over again.
"No," I said firmly, holding my hands up as if to ward him off. "I get it, you've made your point, I'm attracted to you." I blushed as I admitted to this, feeling strangely more embarrassed by saying it out loud then proving it by basically mauling him when we'd kissed.
"So I guess it's just my personality that puts you off?" He asked and I scowled at him.
"Yes, precisely," I said sarcastically, definitely not going to fall into the pity trap he'd set.
"Well what am I supposed to think?" He questioned a tad defensively. "You enjoy having sex with me, but if you ever have to spend any time with me fully," he stopped, his eyes drifting down towards my skirt, "or, I suppose, partially, clothed you go all skittish."
I squirmed at this accurate assessment, hating being called out on something I didn't even understand myself.
"It's just that we're so different," I tried to explain, then, warming to my theme, my voice strengthened. "Seriously though, Jim, think about it. You threw my knickers out the window, you own Mr Tickle boxers and all through grade 11 and 12 you were the class clown, the funny one who got his kicks out of tormenting me. But me? I always ensure my windows are firmly closed before sex, I hate cartoons and all through high school I was the spock who was just trying to get the best marks she could and avoid you at the same time."
"Mr Tickle doesn't come from a cartoon." He spoke mulishly, but I could see that I'd finally gotten through to him, although, as bloody usual, he wasn't quite prepared to concede the point yet. "And what if I said I'm a firm believer in 'it's just crazy enough to work'?"
"I'd believe you," I said fervently, "but, see, that's just it, I stop after 'it's just crazy.'"
The room was suddenly filled with an awkward silence, the situation suddenly thrown into stark relief. He was a joker, I was focused on the serious side of life, he wanted us to work as more than a string of one night stands, and I was positive that it couldn't.
"I'm sorry," I said eventually, then, for once being the one trying to force a lighter note into the situation I added, "I should go and, you know, put some underwear on and stuff."
"You could always borrow a pair of my boxers." He smiled a little half smile and I forced a laugh as I shook my head.
"Oh no, that's exactly what got us into this mess in the first place. I think, from now on, I'll stick to my own underpants, thank you very much."
"Ah well, Mr Tickle is always here if you need him." For some weird reason this comment made tears spring to my eyes and I had to swallow hard to get rid of the lump in my throat as I replied,
"I appreciate that. Now-"
"Let me guess, you should go?" He finished for me as he finally moved out of the way of the door.
"Yeah," I raised my hand in a feeble wave of goodbye, "see you around, Jimmy." I tensed as he moved, but he was only reaching forward to hold his door open for me. I nodded my thanks to hide the fact that it felt weird leaving without him trying to stop me again, almost…disappointing?
I gave myself a hard mental slap as I exited and he let the door shut behind me. Could I be any more fickle?
I set off down the corridor and tried to convince myself I'd made a lucky escape. Jimmy drove me bonkers most of the time and we really weren't compatible, anyone could see that. He'd thought it was okay to tell Kristie Carlson that I was wearing his underwear for goodness sake!
Letting out a loud groan I startled some other guy on his way to his room, but I didn't care. It didn't matter how many ways I tried to convince myself that leaving Jimmy's room like that had been a good idea, a hard knot had formed in my stomach and I felt kind of nauseous.
Walking quickly down the stairs, I emerged out into the sunlight and straightened my back. Right, I was homeward bound, for a long hot shower and a long hard talk with myself about sleeping with guys who were reading more into the situation than I was.
Going down the path alongside the residential hall, however, something fluttering up on the outside of the second floor caught my eye. Shielding my eyes against the sun I stopped and looked more closely.
It was a piece of pink material, caught on the very edge of someone's window, stuck fast enough that it was able to wave cheerily in the wind without flying away.
Oh God, it couldn't be, could it?
I peered closer.
Thrown out from Jimmy's third floor window they had obviously only travelled down one floor and were now dangling in plain sight, a merry reminder of last night's activities.
My heart did a funny little flip flop as I stared up at what was usually such a private piece of clothing displayed there for everyone to see. And then, standing there on the footpath, I suddenly burst out laughing.
How could I pretend that Jimmy and I wouldn't work because I was too serious for him when my bright pink knickers were stuck outside some guy's window cheekily waving to everyone who passed below?
Come to that, what was I doing standing out here on the pavement laughing like a loon at my own pair of underpants when I could be upstairs with the guy who turned me to jelly every time he touched me?
Whirling around, my feet were already moving before I'd made the conscious decision to go.
Thundering back up the stairs I'd just gone down, I whizzed past the guy who I had surprised with my groan less than a minute ago, receiving another strange look for my troubles.
"Jimmy!" I threw open his door again, revealing him sitting on his bed, head in hands. He looked up, saw me, and his face went through this incredible transformation from dark to light.
What other impetus did I need?
As he stood up, a question forming on his lips, I threw myself at him, babbling stuff about how I was sorry and that he'd been right about me when he'd called me a stuck up cow all those years ago when we'd first met.
He wrapped his arms tightly around me, ignoring my apologies, and pressing his face into my hair, seeming to have, stupidly, already forgiven me.
"It's alright," He tried to reassure me as I found that I just couldn't stop the flow of recrimination towards myself.
"No, it's not! I mean what was I talking about? 'I make sure my window is firmly closed before sex'," I mimicked myself, "what does that even mean?" I realised I was shaking, but they were the happy shakes full of relief at finally letting go of my self-inforced control around him so I gave myself over to them. "I'm just so used to arguing with you that once you said that stuff about it meaning something I immediately wanted to take the con position."
"Con is right. You're a con artist Genevieve Taylor." He leaned back and smoothed my hair away from my face, looking at me seriously, "You almost had me convinced for a moment there that you really didn't give a shit."
"Come and look at this." I pulled away, wanting to ease my overwhelming guilt by making him understand my quick about-face. Grabbing one of his hands between both of mine I dragged him over to the window and pointed down to the one below his, complete with my mind-changing underwear.
"Ha, look at that." He moved behind me, putting his arms loosely around my waist. "Do you want me to go down and ask the guy to reach out and get them back?"
"No," I turned my head and kissed him quickly on the lips, amazed at how easy and good it felt to do that. "Let them stay there as a timely reminder of how stupid I've been." I smiled at him coyly. "As long as you don't mind some other guy having your girlfriend's knickers hanging outside his window."
"My girlfriend?" He stopped nuzzling my neck abruptly and moved away, looking down at me warily. "Who said anything about you being my girlfriend?"
The balloon of happiness in my stomach suddenly deflated.
I knew it! I knew Joker Jimmy would do this. I couldn't believe I'd allowed myself to think that he…
My heated thoughts were cut off, however, when his face split into a wide grin and then he laughed loudly.
"God, being your boyfriend is going to be so much fun!" He grabbed me again and planted a smacking kiss on my forehead. "Promise me you'll always be that easy to stir up?"
"You are hilarious," I said sarcastically, embarrassed at how easily I'd been duped and accepting the sobering reminder that it was going to take a while before I fully trusted Jimmy not to suddenly reveal his feelings for me to be some big joke. Which reminded me…
"If I'm suddenly supposed to believe you're this nice guy who was just waiting for me to open my eyes and see what was right in front of me and all that, answer me this: why exactly did you tell Kristie Carlson that I was wearing your underwear?"
"Ah," He looked suddenly sheepish. "You're going to yell at me again, aren't you?"
"I don't know," I said, a dangerous note coming into my voice, "am I?"
"Okay, look," he held me at arms length and looked at me seriously. "I woke up this morning having had a brilliant time with you the night before and you were nowhere to be seen. All I get is this message on my International Business tute notes saying 'I've borrowed a pair of your boxers as you threw my underwear out the window, I'll return them soon.' And, I'll admit it, I was pissed. Every time you'd managed to slip away from me and pretend nothing had happened, but I'd had enough this time. So I gave Kristie a call, I know her room is across the hall from yours and she's got the biggest mouth going so there was a pretty good chance she'd run into you and tell you what I'd told her. My thinking was that you'd get all steamed and come thundering in here to bawl me out." He raised his eyebrows pointedly and I let out a strangled choke of half laughter, half outrage.
"So, let me get this straight, you spread it around that I was in your underwear just so I'd come and talk to you? For Gods sake, Jimmy, haven't you ever heard of the telephone?"
"Yeah, and would you have come if I'd just called you up?" He demanded, eyeing me critically.
"Probably not." I conceded the point reluctantly.
"So all's well that ends well," He said triumphantly. "Now then, what should we do to celebrate?" He waggled his eyebrows significantly and I burst out laughing even as I felt a tingling start deep in my belly.
"Oh, I'm sure we'll think of something." I allowed him to lead me over to the bed, but then stood there confused as he suddenly pulled his mobile out. Holding up one finger in the time honoured 'wait, just a sec' gesture, he put the phone up to his face and began to speak.
"Kristie? How're you going? I'm just calling to keep you updated. Yeah, rumour-wise I thought you should know that Gen's not wearing my underwear anymore. You see, she's not wearing any-"
"Jimmy!" I made a mad grab for the phone and we fell together onto his bed, for the second time in an hour.
"Now she's just pushed me into bed with her, yeah, you better start spreading that around…" He kept talking, fending me off until I finally grabbed his phone only to see that it had been turned off the whole time.
"I hope I don't have to keep using Kristie Carlson to get you into bed," He smirked, as I threw his mobile off the side of the bed in disgust. "It just seems a bit elaborate."
"Yeah, and you hate elaborate." I said sardonically. "Tell you what, though," I smiled as he leant up and ran kisses up my throat, "We'll keep her number on speed dial, just in case."
Well...that's what you get when you have a Sunday afternoon to yourself and you're sitting in a room with Mr Men curtains! Obviously I don't own Mr Men and all that jazz, Mr Tickle comes from a set of books I grew up with.