This drabble has been brought to you by my current obsession with Skin Wars. Loved the prompt (and all your prompts! You have a gift, LOL).
Meet (not so) Cute
her phone again Caroline bit back a curse (because swearing to yourself was
just asking to be looked at like a mental hospital escapee – and she did not
need the silent judgement of random strangers right now). But she was late and she hated it. Punctual was Caroline Forbes’ middle name, usually, but
the Gods of public transportation had a vendetta of some sort, and her bus home
had been almost ten minutes late.
crowded. And inhabited by several people with questionable taste in fragrance,
and no idea how to apply said fragrance subtly, leaving her with a bit of a
way off the bus, she’d raced to her apartment, rushed through getting ready,
only managing the barest hint of makeup, popped a couple Tylenol, and was now
speed walking to work.
was frazzled, and cranky, and focused on the time on her phone’s screen, rather
than on where she was going. Truly, a recipe for disaster. She’d just reached
the building where the Gala she was serving at was being held, and she had less
than sixty seconds to get to the back entrance and slip inside. Caroline took a
corner quickly, and her shoulder slammed into something, someone, as it turned out, causing her to stagger slightly before
she caught her balance.
to the person she’d just barged into, a flurry of apologies on the tip of her
tongue. The person, a man who did not
share her qualms about the judgement of strangers, if the creative string of profanity
spilling out of his mouth was anything to go by.
she could blame him. Since he’d been carrying a large, square, case, and her
crashing into him had caused him to drop it. Various little brightly colored
tubes and brushes, things that looked like makeup sponges, had spilled out,
scattering and rolling across the pavement.
had frozen, seeing the mess, and clapped a hand over her mouth.
The man had
crouched down, and was gathering up his belongings. He cast irritated eyes up
at her, and some part of Caroline’s brain noted that he was very attractive, full lipped and blue
eyed. And then he spoke, ruining all that handsome. Because while the accent
was also appealing, the tone and
words he used were definitely not, “Well? Are you just going to stand there dithering?
A little help, sometime this century, would be much appreciated. Since your
clumsiness and lack of attention caused this.”
dropped her hand and narrowed her eyes into a glare. Sure, he had a point but
was being such a dick about it really necessary? “Look, I’m sorry. I’m running
care, sweetheart,” he gave her a once over, eying her white shirt, black pants
and pulled back hair dismissively, “I’m sure your evening plans are
scintillating. It is tax season, perhaps you’ve a hot date with a calculator?
But some of us have actually important engagements, so be a dear and pick up a
few things, would you?”
jaw dropped at his nerve, “Excuse you, this is a uniform, you jackass. Rest
assured, that out of it? I’d blow your mind.”
He raises a
brow at that and looks at her once more, lingering a little longer in the chest
area. And yeah, ordinarily that would piss her off but she’d kind of invited
it. Also, let him eat his heart out because the odds of her ever giving him the
time of day after this were slim to none.
just about to say something else, but Caroline’s so done with him so she cuts
him off, “Now, I am sorry for running into you. But it was an accident. And
yeah, Emily Post and my southern upbringing say that I should help you. But you’re
a douche and I have somewhere to be. So bye.”
spun away from him, sort of wishing her hair was down, because a toss of her
curls would have made her badass exit slightly more satisfying, and stomped
gives Caroline an unimpressed look when she rushes into the kitchen, but waves
Caroline’s apologies away with a grudging, “Just don’t let it happen again, and
get to work!”
falls into the rhythm of set up easily, methodically laying out cutlery. She’s
just retrieving the place cards and seating chart when one of the newer girls
intercepts her. April’s sweet, a bit shy, and currently the color of a ripe
tomato, “Caroline! Could you please, please, please, take this tray into the
models? They’re… naked.” The other girl’s eyes had darted around, her voice
dropping to a whisper on the last word. And Caroline did remember something
about ‘living art’ being a part of this event.
mental shrug, she trades April, emphasizing that the seating chart must be
followed exactly, and heads down the
hall April had indicated. Balking at a little nudity wasn’t exactly Caroline’s
style and April was always up for a shift trade so Caroline figured protecting the
other girl’s delicate, Pastor’s daughter, sensibilities was the least she could
a polite, customer service smile, Caroline quietly slips into the room and
begins arranging the food. She sneaks peeks as she does so, though no one pays
her much mind. There’s six models, two are fully painted and coiffed, standing
somewhat awkwardly in the center of the room. Caroline can’t really blame them,
going first would have to have sucked as there’s not much they can do without
smudging off the paint that covers them.
help but study them briefly, surprised by how beautiful, and weirdly tasteful
the work is. They’re naked but it’s somehow not in your face or salacious at
four other people in the room, two on the far side that she gathers are hair
stylists, and they’re busy with two of the models, gluing what looks like
fabric leaves and beads onto tall, elaborate up-dos.
two models are standing on stools, being painted by the artists, both of whom
have their backs to Caroline. One’s a diminutive woman with pink hair, the other
a man with dark blonde curls and very nice shoulders, displayed in a light grey
shirt. And it’s him she ends up paying attention to. Something about the way he
moves (and the way he fills out his jeans…) keeps drawing her eye back to him.
She wonders for a moment what it would be like to be the girl being painted, to
have all of the attractive stranger’s focus on her bare skin.
fantasies at work were probably a no-no but Caroline’s imagination would not be
denied. Hey, she’s been single for months now, and this was primo fantasy
as he steps back, surveys his work for a moment, before he seems satisfied, and
offers his hand to the model to help her down. He says something quietly and
the model laughs, in a distinctly flirtatious way.
works fast, or the hair stylists are behind, because he seems at a loss for a
moment, before he turns and notices her.
wants to slap herself for being such an idiot. Because the guy she’d just been
ogling appreciatively is the same asshole she’d run into earlier. Really, the
painting paraphernalia should have had her making the connection immediately.
But no, she’d just spent a solid five minutes having dirty thoughts about the
corded muscles in his forearms and his probably dexterous fingers (because artists
totally had those, right?)
waste because she had no desire to ever
speak to him again.
little voice that sounded distinctly like Kat pointed out, none of said dirty
thoughts technically involved conversation…
recognizes her immediately, and shoots her a grin, before striding over, “Fancy
meeting you here, love.”
wonders how polite she has to be. He’s not technically a guest, right? He’s the
help at this thing, just like her. So she ignores him, pointedly gathering the
various garbage that unwrapping the food had produced, and makes to leave.
sidesteps around her quickly, and put himself right in her path, “Come now, don’t
be like that. We had a little spat, I’m over it.”
lets her expression show exactly how unimpressed she is with that startling
lack of apology for his earlier jerkitude.
slightly, and she gives him a fraction of a point for reading her “I am very
displeased” signals better than a past boyfriend or two, “I apologize for
snapping at you. You weren’t the only one who was late to a work commitment,
shifts her weight, slightly, crosses her arms, “I was going to say sorry, you
know. And help you pick up your things. You just didn’t give me the chance.”
“I know, I
know. It was unforgivably rude. But this is technically my first job of this
sort. The money’s very good and I was already worried that being late meant I’d
fucked things up and I took it out on you.”
looks back at the painted models, “Well, I know zilch about art but I think you’re
a little shy, and so different from the arrogant man she’d met outside.
Caroline finds herself warming to him. Just a smidge.
The other artist,” he nods to the pink haired woman who was just finishing up, “kindly
covered for me, and I felt like a prick immediately after you left.”
have,” Caroline sniffed, “The outfit’s terrible on purpose. And I wouldn’t be
caught dead in it unless I was being paid. I’m supposed to basically be
furniture at these things.”
softly, “As if that’s possible. But I suppose the wives would be quite
perturbed if their husbands paid too much attention to the beautiful woman
serving the food. Because even in a room full of gowns and jewels I’m quite
sure my eyes would be drawn to you.”
at the compliment, feels her face heat, at a loss for how to respond, cursing
him for being charming and crazy hot. How was she supposed to hold a grudge
against all of that?
attention is caught by the final two models shrugging out of their robes, “Ah,
duty calls. My name is Klaus, by the way. Have I acquitted myself sufficiently enough
to earn your name, love?”
Caroline,” she finds herself replying.
he repeats it, slowly lingering over the ‘L’ in a way that she shouldn’t find
hot, “it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Would you consider going out
with me, once this event is over? I’ll be around for touchups and such, and can
wait for you to be finished? I know a great twenty four hour place that has the
best pie you’ll ever have.”
Caroline asks incredulously.
shrugs, scratches absently as some dried paint on his wrist, “I find that I
quite like your sharp tongue, love. I’d like to talk with you some more, but it’s
up to you, of course.”
about it,” Caroline tells him, unwilling to cave quite so easily. She’d loathed
him an hour ago, after all.
But, as a
person who didn’t always make the greatest of first impressions herself maybe,
just maybe, she could give him a shot?
thinks about little else the rest of the night, thankful that she’s done this
job enough to muddle through on autopilot. She’s too busy to speak to Klaus
again, though she catches his eye a few times. He smiles at her, sometimes
commiserating, because somehow he’d picked up on the strain dealing with so
many people used to their whims being catered to always caused her to feel, and
sometimes he seemed just genuinely happy with her presence, however fleeting,
as they passed one another.
few smiles Caroline had avoided, still confused as to whether she liked him or
not. Then she began returning them. At first tentatively, then more genuinely
as the night wore on.
been true to his word, and when she’d exited the back entrance he’d been
leaning against the building, hands stuffed in his pockets. Caroline regarded
him for a moment, came to a decision. She pulled the elastic out of her hair
and shook it out.
kind of mesmerized, and what girl didn’t like that?
you offered me pie? Now, I have very high standards for that particular food,
so fair warning, I doubt I’ll think
it’s the best ever.”
pushed himself off of the wall and waited for her to fall into step with him, “Challenge
accepted, love. And if it’s not, well then I guess I’ll have to keep trying.”
The pie was
pretty good, but the conversation had been better. And when Klaus offered to
walk her home, Caroline accepted. And when his fingers had brushed hers, she’d grabbed
his hand and hadn’t let go, and if both of them smiled like sappy idiots at
least no one was around to notice.