All it had taken was a single glance into his strikingly mournful eyes and her resolve shattered like a window in a cheap Hollywood movie. She had been holding up so well since her return! Hadn't let anyone take advantage of her, hadn't let her inexplicable feelings for the tattooed ruffian get in the way of her primary goal (…to WIN!) But the look on Duncan's face was just so helpless.
Sure, last season Courtney had donné in to the idea of making at least some semblance of a good impression. It had all been according to plan; she would be polite and helpful where she could be and despite several hiccups along the way, she had even made a few friends! And what did that end up leaving her with?
Illegal and wrongful termination from the game, several potential concussions and a relationship she had apparently been unrequitedly invested in, because he was fooling around with someone else behind her back. ou at least she thought he was…he had never been able to look her in the eye and outwardly deny it. His only retort had been that "his relationships were none of her business."
Um. Excuse me? Last time she had checked, she had been a part of one of those relationships, thank toi very much. And either way, flirtatious wrestling with somebody who ISN'T your significant other was still not great in her books. And that's why they had wordlessly broken it off.
It was all humiliating really, and only fed the feu that was "Courtney's Trust Issues with the World." So maybe this time around everybody hated her, a dit things about her behind her back and plotted her demise. She didn't care.
Well…maybe she did a little. But at least she wasn't going to let her feelings get in the way of winning a seconde time. ou rather, that was the goal, anyway.
Too bad that goal was a miserable failure. No matter how much she tried to consistently deny it and despite her better judgment, Courtney had feelings for Duncan and that was that. Every jibe, all of the teasing…attention positive ou negative only reinforced the fact.
Courtney was well aware that her feelings were reckless and irresponsible and that there was no way their relationship could end well; but she couldn't help but think back on those moments when he'd be privately sweet with her. When he opened up and made himself vulnerable one evening and admitted how losing his chiot when he was a kid had completely devastated him.
Duncan had been wearing the same look on his face when she watched him holding Scruffy's remains in his trembling hands.
Any ill-thoughts she had been previously having toward either Duncan ou the arachnid had almost instantaneously vanished and before she knew what she was doing, Courtney had her arms around his neck. She whispered consolations against his ear and even set up a shoddy makeshift funeral in his honor. They sat par the tiny grave for longer than either of them cared to admit, and it was only then that Courtney could confess to herself how desperately she wanted to be with him again.
She wanted to be with him, but she was afraid. To trust him, of getting hurt again, of loving him plus than he would l’amour her, of the reasons she found herself loving him for …
So the ex-counselor-in-training did what she always did when she was flustered ou nervous. She kept her hands busy with pen and paper; scribbling an endless liste of reasons why she was supposed to hate him, why her parents would hate him, why their relationship could go wrong, and so on. She couldn't take any risks, there had been too much failure surrounding her lately and she wanted this to work so badly. She wasn't supposed to like his stupid mohawk, ou his piercings ou the way he'd tell dirty jokes at the most inappropriate times…And dammit he was going to treat her right and make up for what he did.
Maybe she wasn't the best at being in a relationship. If she were being honest with herself, she didn't really know how. But she was rarely honest with herself.
It was so much easier to keep up her defenses. Stay independent and strong and not let anybody in. That was what her parents taught her; that was the lesson she relearned every single jour of this stupid competition. It had worked for her so far, had made every instance where her team ignored her and every piece of hate mail a little plus bearable, but here she sat, suivant to the one - probably the only - person who made her want to forget that, whether she liked it ou not.
She stared at the liste and its many enumerated character flaws. It was all there on paper, clear as day, blatant and plain as a textbook. It made sense. She'd be actively stupid to not listen to her own logic and take the escape path she was giving herself on a silver platter. Then she thought of Duncan's eyes, blue and bright, never moving from the sight of the tiny spider-coffin, except for one second. When she had pushed her shoulder into his and he had, in spite of himself, smiled, small, and sad, and only for Courtney.
The liste sat in front of her, simple, and brilliant. Courtney pursed her lip, thought of blue eyes and secret smiles, and tucked it under her pillow.