"I decided I had nothing better to do. A man can only be a beach bum for so many hours of the day before people begin to think he's a sloth. And besides, I was beginning to burn a bit."
"I highly doubt you work at avoiding any of the seven deadly sins."
"Well now, Freckles, that would mean you've been thinking about what type of man I am."
"I've wondered about everyone here."
"Why? We know who the handcuffs belonged to. So, what's to worry about who's who?"
She shrugged slightly. "Why did we survive?"
"You don't think you deserved to?"
He sounded surprised and she took her eyes off Jack and Hurley who were picking up the makeshift golf course and looked at him. "Do you?"
"Of course, Sweetness. If it was my time I wouldn't be standing here."
"You believe that?"
"Does it really matter what I believe? You're going to think what you want anyway."
"I think you care about what people think more than you want to admit. That's why you came here today."
"I came here because a little bird told me it was advisable to play well with the other kiddies in the sandbox."
"So just like that you decided to join us?"
"Just like that," he said with a smile.
Even unshaven he was nice to look at. She sensed that the affect he had on her was no secret to him. He probably had that affect on all the women he smiled charmingly at. And that bothered her. She hated thinking like a jealous wife, but could not help it. How many others had he rendered weak in the knees with nothing more than a kiss?
"Are you saying you didn't really want me to come?"
"No, I did." She turned her attention back to Jack and Hurley, the course and clubs collected now. "I'm glad you came."
"Your boyfriend's not."
"He's not my boyfriend."
"It sounds like the lady does protest too much."
"I'm not," she said with a shake of her head. She brushed some hair out of her face and sighed. Why was she defending herself to him? "Jack is nothing more than a friend."
"Leave with me then."
She scoffed in disbelief at his question. "Why? What would that prove?"
"It would prove you don't care what he thinks."
"Then start walking beside me, Sweetness. I've about had my fill of taking part in the neighborhood social hour."
"You didn't talk to anyone but me."
"You're the only one worth talking to."
"You don't know that. If you tried to get along, went out of your way to be remotely pleasant."
"But I'm not a pleasant man."
"I don't think that's it."
"I'm about to turn around and walk back to the beach, Sweetness."
"Why won't you hear me out?"
"I'm not in the mood to be psychoanalyzed."
"I'm not. I'm just saying."
"You're saying that I'm not what I seem, that there's more to me than the tough, heartless guy that everybody but you seems to see. Maybe they're right and you're wrong. Did you ever think of that, Freckles?"
The normally emotionless windows to his soul flashed with a whirlwind of emotion in that moment and Kate could not help but take a step back. Too late she realized what she had done and the hurt in his eyes told her that he noticed it, too.
"No," she said sternly hoping to correct the damage. She meant it. No one held onto a letter for close to twenty years who was as heartless and tough as he led people to believe. She believed that it was an act. She had no idea how to get him to stop acting.
"Bye now." He turned and walked away from her.
She had not thought he would really do it. She glanced to Jack and Hurley who seemed to be waiting for her. Why her? Why were they waiting? They would be heading back to the caves and she was going to the beach. Unless they were hoping she would change her mind and come with them. Not likely.
"Just let him go. He's not worth it anyway."
"Worth what? Are you suggesting he's worth any less than the rest of us?"
"He wants to be left alone, so let him."
"Why not? What is it going on between you two?"
She clenched her jaw. "There is nothing going on between us," she said through gritted teeth. "Why does everyone assume I'm every single guy's girlfriend?"
"Maybe by the way he talks about you."
"And you believe him? You don't believe anything else he says."
"I see the way he looks at you."
"You look at him, too."
"Because I'm the only friend he's got, Jack."
"And I don't think he's someone you need to be friends with."
"Well, it's a good thing you're not my father," she said and walked away, following the path that would lead her to the beach. To Sawyer.
She did not have to walk far to catch up with him. He leaned against a tree with a blade of grass between his fingertips, slowly tearing it apart as if he had no cares in the world. He knew she would follow him and she smiled slightly at the realization that he waited for her.
"Worried I won't make it without an escort?"
"I don't worry much about you, Sweetness."
"That would mean I think on you and that'd please you a little too much I reckon."
"Got that right, Sweetness, and don't ever forget it neither."
"You're so busy reminding me every chance you get that I'm inclined to believe you aren't."
He smirked then, placing the now mangled blade of grass in between his teeth and bit down after swiping his tongue along the length of it. There should not have been anything sensual about the gesture, but Kate could not help but stare at his mouth. His smirk turned into a full blown smile and she knew he was aware of her thoughts.
"Stop it," she said, brushing her forehead with the back of her arm.
"What you're doing."
"What am I doing?"
"Never mind," she said, waving her hand dismissively as she began walking in the direction of the beach. It was his turn to be the pursuer rather than the pursuee.
"Why can't you just say it?"
"Sawyer, there's nothing I feel the need to say right now. I'm glad you came up there. It'll go a long way to people forgetting about the inhalers incident."
"I'm not worried about it."
"So you say. Now."
"Why can't you admit that you want to kiss me again?"
"Because I don't."
"Then why were you focusing on my lips a minute ago?"
She groaned in frustration and stopped walking, turning to face him. "All right, I wanted to kiss you. Does that make you feel better?"
"Do you want to kiss Jack?"
"What?" she asked in disbelief. "What kind of girl do you think I am?"
"Just asking, Freckles. No need to get all uppity with me."
"I'm not even going to answer that."
"You already did."
"Never mind, Sweetness. Just keep walking."
"Aren't you coming with me?"
"I like the view from back here."
"You're impossible," she said, throwing up her arms in defeat. She was never going to win with him. She gave an inch and he pushed for a mile. She had admitted she wanted to kiss him. What more did he want from her?
"So I'm told."
"I'll bet," she said sardonically as she turned to walk again. She tried to ignore the fact he was probably watching her at that very moment. How was she supposed to ignore it when she wanted him to look?
He had asked her about Jack. Would she have stayed at the beach if she wanted to kiss Jack? She had not stayed at the beach because of Sawyer. Jack was an attractive and nice man, but for whatever reason there was no spark. Her mother had told her stories of "the feeling". She never believed it existed. If it did she had apparently been passed over for it happening to her. Or at least she had thought so.
She looked over her shoulder at Sawyer and smiled at him. She was getting an idea of what her mother had talked about. The feeling. Was that what this was? What would happen if she did not act on it? Would it go away? Was there an expiration date on "the feeling"? Was "the feeling" always two ways or could one person have it and the other feel nothing? How was she supposed to even know how it felt?
Before she could think about it, she began to run to the beach. "First one there gets to come up with an idea of what to do tonight." The minute her decision had been made, the words spoken she felt relieved. It was almost like something had been weighing heavy on her heart and was finally set free.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com