Chapter Three- Damn, Hell, and Other Four-Letter Words.
Janessa's Point of View
"Last time I saw you, you were a tiny grasshopper, and now you're a- what do grasshoppers turn into, bro?" Hoisting his duffle bag over his shoulder, Kameron stepped up onto the front porch steps, a radiant smile on his handsome face, like everything was good, like we really hadn't seen each other since I was a 'tiny grasshopper.' Whatever the hell that meant.
With a derisive snort, Deshaun said, "You're thinking of caterpillars and butterflies." He shook his head disappointedly as he fished his phone out of his pocket. "The state of education in our country."
"Fuck you," Kameron laughed good-naturedly, bumping his shoulder against Deshaun's as something stirred in my stomach at the sound of his laugh. I need to get my life together. But before I did that, I had to admit to myself that Kameron was looking good AF. When I saw him at the MLB game, he had been wearing shades and a baseball cap most of the time, so I hadn't been able to get the full Kameron Wallace effect. But today, glasses off, the sun hitting him just right and making his skin glow, fitted t-shirt accentuating his arm and stomach muscles, stubble on his face highlighting his strong jawline- I sucked in a bracing breath. You are not like this, Janessa. As I was struggling to keep a poker face, because Kameron was the last person I could have possibly expected to be on my doorstep, he turned his attention back to me. "So, what, you haven't seen me in five years and I can't even get a hug? I really feel the love, B.B. Banks."
An annoyed groan spilled out of my mouth as I bristled like an angry seagull. "You know I hate that nickname."
"I do know, that's why I use it," Kameron replied, his eyes sweeping down my body before travelling up to my face, and for a second, I almost swore he could see through my clothes.
Hot blood rushed to my cheeks and I tried to shake off the uneasiness that was steadily building in my body by snarkily saying, "Five years hasn't changed you."
"It definitely changed you."
Okay, now why was he licking his lips slowly (and sexily) as he said that? My eyes bulged, and I mentally fanned myself. Dear Lord, that shouldn't have been that hot. What was going on?
Almost as if he was just noticing the barefaced foolishness of what was happening, Deshaun glanced up from his phone, his eyes rapidly flicking from Kameron to me. "Yo, man, why you looking at my baby sis like that for?"
A bit late, brother. Stop with the selfies and pay attention next time!
"You're so predictable," Kameron chuckled, stuffing his hands into his pockets. He dragged his eyes away from my face to look at Deshaun, who was glaring at him with a mock scowl on his face. "Square up if you're that tough."
Raising up his bag of beers, Deshaun replied, "Let's settle this over a beer."
Typical boy shit.
"Arm wrestling?" Kameron queried, almost as excited as a kid before Christmas. His green eyes lit up with joy, and in that split second, I remembered how tight Deshaun and Kameron had been, and how Kameron's move had crushed them both.
Nodding, Deshaun said, "Just like old times."
"I'm down." Removing his hands from his pockets, Kameron folded his arms across his chest and I promise I wasn't ogling his defined muscles, covered in golden honey colored skin, as well as multiple tattoos. "Just a fair warning, my arms got bigger."
Boy, did they.
As Deshaun scoffed, "They don't call me the Flex King for nothing," Kameron shot me a sly glance and I dropped my lecherous gaze to my feet. Busted.
"Let's get it, Flex King," Kameron snickered. "Nice seeing you again, Ness. It's gonna be a fun summer."
I slapped a hand over my face. "Oh, God."
Narrator's voice: It was not going to be a fun summer.
I pressed myself against the door as Deshaun pushed past me, followed by Kameron. "Yo, actually, let's get those beers cracked once we unpack," Kameron said to Deshaun as they stood in the foyer.
"Sounds good to me," Deshaun nodded, running a hand over his sponge twisted hair. "I hope mom put my favorite sheets on my bed."
I let out a snort of laughter. "You are such a child, Shaunie! I'm supposed to be the baby of the family."
"Yeah, well, 'baby of the family', wanna help me unload my car?" Deshaun asked, an indulgent grin turning up the corners of his lips.
Not I, said the cat.
"I'm still vacuuming Kameron's room."
Kameron, who had been looking down at his phone, looked up at me and my heart fluttered. Hormones, why are you betraying me so? "Am I staying downstairs, in my old room?" he asked excitedly. I nodded, not trusting myself to speak. "Nice! I'll meet you down there."
"Not if I can help it," I mumbled, almost to myself, and tore off downstairs. My heart was racing as if I had just run a track meet, and I melted over the seatback of the lounger for a second, trying to recalibrate myself.
Why was this happening to me? This was a storyline straight out of those goofy romances Shelley and Brandon loved to watch. It had no place in my life! Shit like this only happened to ditzes like Kaylee, my cousin Roxsi, and the biggest ditz of all, Deshaun.
And Kameron may be cute, but he's still a jock, and your brother's best friend.
Shaking myself from head to toe like a wet puppy, I picked up the vacuum and started vacuuming the rec room floor, lost in my thoughts. I was just getting into the groove when abruptly, toned arms wound around my waist and I was pulled back into a solid, warm mass of chest. My mouth went dry as I inhaled the clean scent surrounding me. Fresh laundry, a sprinkle of cologne- my weakness in a guy.
Not this guy, Janessa!
"So, you're really not gonna say hi?" Kameron's voice vibrated through me, and the short hairs on the nape of my neck stood to attention. "Or even a thank you for not telling your brothers about the MLB thing?"
It was so lucky (for me) that he said that, because my head was nestled comfortably against his chest and his hands had slipped over mine, warm and calloused. But when he spoke, outrage burst through me, and I shook myself free, turning off the vacuum before spinning around to confront him.
Waving a finger in his face, I hissed, "Oh, no way. If you're gonna hold that over my head, I'm gonna hold a press conference right now and tell them myself."
Never threaten Janessa Banks with an exposé. Only Janessa Banks exposes Janessa Banks.
A laugh. "Would you really?" He gazed at me curiously with those damn x-ray eyes.
"You know I would," I replied, tossing my head defiantly.
Running a hand thoughtfully over the scruff on his chin, Kameron said, "Yeah, well, if they find out, I'll be fucked so why don't we just keep it between us? Never bring it up again?"
Now this sounded more like a conversation I was willing to have. Gone were the charged glances and the sexy lip licking. This was more like the interactions Kameron and I used to have back in the days.
"That sounds like the sanest thing you've said since you got here," I said, heaving a silent sigh of relief, even though that twinkle in his eyes... that twinkle suggested things that I didn't want to think about.
He gave a half smile. "I need to step up my game."
"Thanks for not telling anyone, though," I tacked on as an afterthought.
With Leroy gone, Kameron had been the missing link, the wild card. I was grateful that he was as keen on keeping the kiss cam a secret from my family as I was.
We may not be in the same library, but we're definitely on the same page.
"No problem." He reached up to scratch under his wool hat. "Imagine how awkward this vacation- hell, this living situation- would have been if anyone knew that we kissed?"
His eyes dropped to my lips as he spoke, which was ironic, because mine dropped to his, before I caught myself and stared fixedly at the lamp sconce to the side of his head.
"Did you know it was me?" The words came out in a rush, and I swallowed convulsively, waiting for his answer.
Staring at me in a distracted manner, Kameron asked, "What?"
"At the game," I clarified. "When you came to sit by me."
Kameron shook his head almost immediately, the diamond studs in his ears catching the light. "No. I haven't seen you in years, and I've been pretty busy."
"Winning Olympic gold must make you forget about your friends."
Oh, crap. I said that out loud.
Kameron pressed his lips together, suddenly more serious than I'd seen him thus far. "I fell off, I admit," he said, his voice low and apologetic. "I'm sorry."
"Don't apologize to me, why are you apologizing to me for?" I asked, trying to play it off like I hadn't just singlehandedly pulled a me move and shifted all the energy in the room with an inappropriate comment.
Groaning, Kameron pulled his wool hat off his head and twisted it between his hands. Oh, what a jerk. He looked even better without the hat on, his loose curls messy. "I don't know, dude, isn't being on a kiss cam with your best friend's baby sister the kind of thing you'd apologize for?"
"Not so loud," I ground out, taking a step towards him. Thank God Deshaun was still upstairs, because if he even caught wind of this conversation... "And that's all behind us."
Even though somehow, I knew he'd bring it up again.
The way he said it, all slow, husky and deliberate, made a tingle leisurely snake its way up my spine.
I swallowed hard. "Yeah! Like you said, we'll never bring it up again."
"I said that?" Kameron tapped on his chest in a 'who, me?' gesture and I sighed. "I'm regretting it, because I'm loving making you all flustered."
He stepped closer to me, bottom lip drawn between his perfect teeth, and I almost melted.
"I'm not flustered at all," I protested, as the pulse in my neck sped up.
Kameron chuckled. "Your body language is telling like a motherfucker."
Another step towards me and I wiped my sweaty palms on my pj pants, struggling to find a quick repartee. "Oh, shut up."
Not my proudest moment.
I stared up at him as he gazed down at me, my eyes wide and glazed over. This wasn't real. None of this could be happening. "Kameron..."
"Look at your face!" Kameron started laughing, pointing at me as I belatedly realized that the troll had just been trolled. "I had you shook."
He beamed down at me, the corners of his eyes crinkling as I shook my head doggedly. "Not even!" I exclaimed derisively.
"Trust me, any repetition of the kiss cam is coming from you," he said smoothly, making my breath catch in my throat, because that was definitely not what I wanted. Nor was it going to happen.
Peevishly, I said, "Didn't we just- this is bringing it up again, Kameron!" I lowered my voice as I heard thudding from above my head. Deshaun. "I can promise you that there will be no repetition of the kiss cam."
The words hung heavily between us as we looked at each other, me with complete disbelief on my face, Kameron with a raised eyebrow and a cocky grin on his.
My mouth opened, and, unthinkingly, the words flew out. "Are you flirting with me?"
"What do you think?"
I don't wanna know.
Luckily, a reply flew into my mind, and I grasped it. "Okay, so you're deflecting. You're cute when you're delusional."
"I think I'm cute 24-7, but thanks," Kameron said, and I rolled my eyes because he had responded exactly how I thought he would.
"I'll give that remark all the attention it deserves, and if you're thinking that it deserves absolutely none, you're correct," I said, clenching my hands into fists as Kameron burst out laughing.
Wiping his eyes, he spluttered, "You're snarky as fuck, B. B. Banks. I think we're gonna get along great together."
That's exactly what I don't want to happen. For reasons.
Oh, crap, I said that out loud.
"We're gonna have a great summer, Nessa."
Accusingly, I glowered at him. "You said that before." Kameron opened his mouth to respond, but I careened over him. "Your definition of fun differs from mine, because we're going to be living together under the same roof for two months, and that doesn't scream fun to me."
"Why?" Although his face was serious, Kameron's eyes flashed with humor. Irksome. "Is it gonna be that hard for you to resist me?"
My lips parted as I gawked at him, unable to compose myself. "Why the hell would I have to resist you?" I heard myself squawk. Okay, at least my unconscious brain was taking the reins, because I was drawing a blank. "You're not my type."
"I've heard that many times before," Kameron answered , an arrogant smile turning up his lips. "It's always fun to prove people wrong."
I put my hand up, palm first. "Okay, stop right there. You're making this into something it's not, and I don't know why." In a whisper, just in case Deshaun burst into the room because he's been awful quiet in the past few minutes, I added, "It was only a five second kiss."
What a kiss though. Ol' soft lips. Mamma mia.
"I thought we weren't allowed to mention that."
I massaged the bridge of my nose, exhaling deeply. "Look. You're best friends with Deshaun."
"Yeah," Kameron nodded.
"You're staying at his house," I continued.
Smirking, Kameron said, "I know."
"You kissed his baby sister."
Another nod. "That's true."
"You know Deshaun and how my brothers get when a guy is around me. Even when I was 13," I said, hoping that he was seeing the point. There was no way that continuing this- whatever it was- was going to fly around my brothers.
Cocking his head in my direction, Kameron said, "Uh huh."
"So stop this," I almost pleaded, gazing up at him beseechingly.
Stepping so close to me that I could see the freckles on his nose, Kameron said, "I'm not doing anything, Ness. You got a wild imagination trapped in that pretty head of yours." Before I could stop him, he tapped a finger against my forehead, and I swatted it away. "Like I said, any repetitions of the-."
"I'm out of here," I announced, scooting around him like I was crossing someone in basketball. His laughter followed me as I stormed upstairs.
Deshaun was in the kitchen, putting pizza into the oven. He straightened up as he heard me thudding up the basement stairs. "Wanna beer?" he asked, holding out a can towards me.
"No!" I exclaimed, running upstairs to my room.
This called for a Brandon, Kaylee and Shelley conference call.