Sweaters. Sweaters really are kind of frustrating. They’re either too itchy or not warm enough. I think I’m allergic to wool. And at a certain point every cardigan looks the same. I look at the three sweaters in my hands and decide then and there to be done with my sweater shopping. Because sweaters aren’t vaguely interesting. Or because it’s been fifteen minutes since I last saw Pacey, twenty since our last kiss, and thirty since I flashed him.
But I’m not obsessed. I don’t spend all day dreaming his blue eyes. Or his smile. I never hear his deep voice echoing in my ear after he’s spoken. I don’t care about the way he looks in his jeans, pirating sips of Jen’s coffee, while listening to whatever Jack is telling him. And I’m certainly not standing in the store window looking at Pacey under the pretense of being in love with a pink sweater that vaguely resembles a poodle. Oh wait I am. Jeez. Maybe I should send Pacey to get another buzz cut. His hair is growing back and I spend too much time thinking of ways to casually run my fingers through it. I need some flaw to focus on, but as hard as I try even his attempts at annoying me wind up seeming extremely attractive. I want him. All the time. And I’m losing my mind.
“Joey, don’t tell me you want that sweater. You’ll look like a muppet.”
“Jen! No, I found, I found my sweaters,” I stutter, pulling my eyes from Pacey’s lips. He’s licking foam off of them with his soft pink tongue. Oh hell.
“Did you just pick these blindfolded? They’re not even the same size. Not even close. Are you extra small or extra large Jo?” Jen waits, rolling her eyes a little. She has a displeased pout and I suppose I’m not playing “shopping buddy” very well today. Not like I ever have, but I want to try, I do. If my boyfriend would just keep his tongue in his mouth I could too. “Earth to Joey. Do you want to play popsicle this winter?”
“Maybe,” I mumble staring back out at Pacey. What could Jack be saying to keep him out there so long? Nothing ever happens to Jack. Okay, now I’ve crossed into total bitch mode. And Jen is staring again, waiting for a real answer. Maybe I should tell her I’m intent on freezing to death, I’ll risk hypothermia just to make sure that when I’m around Pacey there is a better than average chance his hands will make contact with my skin. Maybe I should ask Jen how I can politely ditch this shopping expedition, get Pacey away from Jack, and further explore what was started on our mini golf date earlier. How about “Will you excuse me, Jen? I need to suck my boyfriend’s tongue now.” Nice, direct, polite. Now if I can just work in a “please” and “thank you” somewhere. Hmmmm. Right.
Outside the store, Pacey smiles at Jack and laughs. He gets a mischievous look on his face, says something, and Jack laughs, shaking his head, and looking somewhat afraid. What are they up to? Jen. Think. Sweaters. Sweaters. “I’m sorry Jen, my mind was elsewhere. Can you excuse me, please. I really think I need to....well....” taking a deep breath I decide I really can’t go the route I want to take, “I need your help. I’m a dunce at sweaters and I’m breaking out in hives with all this wool.” Jen smiles a little and nods her head over to some other clothing racks. Here we go. I try to shake thoughts of Pacey away and follow Jen.
Minutes later I’ve forgotten Pacey as I watch Jen model the Ugliest Sweater on Earth in her best runway manner. She raises a delicate arm extending it with “attitude” and then does a quick pivot step, which almost causes her to ram into a small child. She then displays the sweater from the back, totally oblivious to the angered blonde mother muttering something about “a big truck” as she leads her child away from danger.
The runway act is ruined when Jack sneaks up behind Jen and grabs two of the multicolored pom poms that adorn the sweater. She lets out a high pitched squeal of surprise as she falls into Jack’s waiting arms. Jack laughs and rights Jen’s unsteady feet.
“Jack!” Jen yells, shoving him back a good yard. “That was mean.” She scowls all kindergarten-esque. Meanwhile, Jack is still batting at the pom poms, right at the small of her back, and then stepping away quickly with a “I didn’t do it” look on his face. “Jack stop,” Jen orders moving away from him, hands on hips. “I’m not speaking to Jack McPhee anymore,” she announces, turning to me. She throws some more stink eye Jack’s way. He’s pouting now, his lower lip jutting out mournfully, but his eyes are alight with barely concealed amusement.
“Silent treatment, huh?” I take a moment to ponder this, trying to appear serious. “Is it forever Jen?”
“No, just until he apologizes on his hands and knees. And begs. Lots of begging.” Her smile grows wider at the thought.
“Maybe he should do a song and dance too,” I suggest, ever so helpfully. “Or write an ‘Ode to Jen’?” Jack’s smirk fades and he sticks his tongue out at me, as his expression starts to take on a little hint of fear.
“I’d like to see him sing and dance,” Jen replies thoughtfully, “that might be fun.”
Jack’s had enough now. “Jen, come on, I’m sorrrrrweeeeeeee....but if you try on such ugly things, how can I help it?”
“I was modeling for Joey,” Jen says and I give her a little shove. Just as Jen and Jack start trading mocking glares, I find my thoughts drift back to Pacey. I begin to wonder what Jack did with him. And just as I’m about to verbalize that thought I feel strong arms wrap around my waist, pulling me in close. Pacey kisses my neck softly before saying a word.
“Jo is not wearing that monstrosity,” he declares, eyebrows raised.
“No, I’m not, but I wouldn’t be saying much ‘King of the Hawaiian Shirts from Hell’” I smart off.
“Point taken M’lady.” Pacey lifts my hand and brings it to his lips, in an overexaggerated fashion.
“Pacey.” I feel my cheeks flush and my hand tingles. And I’m still pressed firmly against his chest. I can feel it rising with each breath he takes. I can feel his heartbeat vibrate through my back straight into my chest. I take a deep breath, trying to focus on Jen, who is holding up a few more sweaters for me, now forcing Jack to model them. Jack is laughing and attempting to display the woolen frocks, hands a la Vanna White, feet on tip toe, hips swinging back and forth like Deanna Durben in her “vamp” roles. And Pacey laughes, his breath tickling my ear. Wow. His hands rest on my stomach, his thumbs tracing circles on my shirt. The fabric is too thick. Darn sweater. And again I wonder why I can’t just wear little camisoles all year round. Pacey’s here. He’s my very own area heater. And right now he’s heating up my neck, my stomach and pretty much everything else as the sensations travel through the nerves in my body. Trying again to look at Jack and Jen, still busy showing me sweaters, I redden at the thoughts running through my head. Or the fact that my nipples are hard against my clothing. I check to make sure it isn’t noticeable. Maybe a sweater isn’t such a bad thing.
“Jo?” He asks quietly. He places a wet kiss just behind my ear. “Sweetie?” Another kiss on my cheek. Jack and Jen are staring at me, waiting for something. And then I can’t see them. Pacey waves his hand in front of my eyes. “Joey, Earth to Joey....”
“Huh?” I turn to Pacey, my eyes a little glazed. I shake my head a few times and try to focus on his clear blue eyes. They’re so blue. And his lashes are so long. His mouth is so soft. I shake my head again and blink my eyes a couple times. “What?”
“Jen wanted to know which of the two sweaters she held up you wanted to try on.” He smiles, biting his lip a little, obviously trying to keep from laughing directly in my face. “But if you’d rather play space cadet, we can just sort of hold them up to you and let Jack decide which ones to buy.”
“No thank you.” I look away from Pacey and randomly point at the sweater nearest to me. “I’ll try on that one.” And everyone starts laughing again. What now? I look at the sweater and moan in defeat. It’s the ugly pom pom sweater. Damn. Can I shrivel up into a little ball and die now? Please? I look up at Pacey, helpless and near tears I’m so frustrated.
“Jo, try on this one for me. Kay?” He whispers, smiling gently. He kisses me full on the lips, his tongue touching mine briefly, and hands me a soft blue sweater he grabbed from Jen. “Mmmmm....” he murmurs as he breaks the kiss.
“Thank you Pace.” I sigh, relieved. As I turn to head to the dressing room, I see Jack and Jen exchanging weird looks and winks. I won’t even try to understand that. Then I see Jack stride over to my boyfriend and grab him by the arm, pulling him away from us. “Pacey?”
“We’re going into the men’s section,” Jack states firmly, holding a squirming, angry Pacey by the arm. “See you later girls.” And with that he drags Pacey away.
I turn to Jen, who is smiling like a Cheshire cat, and glare, my eyes narrowing. “What are you doing?”
“Watching you try on sweaters. Get a move on if you want to cuddle up with Pacey anytime soon.” And she leaves for the dressing room with a pile of sweaters. And I follow with my the sweater Pacey handed me, determined to speed through this and go spend some quality time with Pacey alone. I hate sweaters.
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