Against better judgement

Kara-Lynne lives in New York City as a writer for People Magazine. Fresh out of college, writing for People has never been the job of her dreams. She's hardly given thought-provoking assignments and when Kara's given the task to publish a story on popular, pretty-boy and charming 'love expert' Ryan Barre, she expects it to be a simple assignment. However, she realises very quickly that things are far from simple with Ryan.

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5. Subject, object

"You're my assignment," she said matter-of-factly, twisting her fork around the slippery strands of spaghetti. "I'm supposed to learn what I can and write an article about you." Kara wiped her lips with her napkin and took a sip of her iced water.

Ryan laughed, amused. "I think I've just been objectified." He drank some of his sparkling water and chewed into a crispy sweet potato fry, wiping his fingers on his napkin afterwards.

Kara looked at him from behind her glasses and squinted. "Now you know what it feels like."

He leaned in. "If that's what you think I do even after my explanation earlier, I hope that you're a better writer than a listener." 

Kara slurped her spaghetti silently. She licked her lips then took out her phone to start an audio recording. "Go on then," she dared, placing her elbows on the table and resting her chin on the back of her hand. "What was it like growing up in England?"

Ryan returned his attention to her. "It was...cold. My sister and I are three years apart so I looked up to her for most of my life." He flashed his charming grin. "That's where I got most of my dating advice from actually."

"An early start for the British Casanova, dare I say?" 

He scoffed. "Furthest from it, actually. I was a late bloomer. I was scrawny all throughout secondary school. Never popular with the girls who were much more interested in my other classmates who had clear skin, beautiful hair, manicured nails and parents who made them the brats they were." His hazel eyes turned to his plate and he picked up another fry and dipped it in ketchup. "Anyway, my sister's dating advice," he laughed, "was only put to use after I graduated secondary school and had finally worked up the courage to ask one of the girls if she wanted to go to prom together."

"Must've been quite a big deal."

"I felt like I was going to be sick," he chuckled, staring at his palms. "I'd had a crush on her and my palms were dripping wet as I walked up to her." He caught Kara staring at him and he cleared his throat, wiping his hands on his napkin. "She ended up ditching me when the most popular kid in class asked her but the booze at prom made up for it."

Kara pursed her lips. "Why'd you want to be a dating expert?"

Her eyebrows were furrowed, her forehead creased. She was leaning slightly into Ryan, clearly engaged in the conversation. She hadn't touched her plate of spaghetti but her necklace was at risk of being drenched in tomato sauce. He reached over and held it in his hands, causing her to look down. 

"It's pretty. Didn't want it to have a bath with the spaghetti," he smiled. She leaned away and tucked her necklace into her shirt. "I didn't want to be one," he admitted. "It just kind of happened. I wanted to be a teacher when I was younger. In some ways, I still kinda am," he chuckled under his breath before looking up at her. "Now, my turn to interview you." He pushed his plate away and put his folded arms on the table, his eyes fixed on hers.

"What was it like for you growing up?" 

She put down the fork with which she'd been using to push a short strand of spaghetti around her plate. Kara smiled sadly, took a deep breath and exhaled. " It was fine. My sister's 10 years younger than me so I was alone for a while but I had friends." She took a sip of her drink. 

Ryan waited expectantly for more but she averted her eyes to the serving counter. "I wonder what ice cream flavour they're serving today," she murmured. Before she could decide, her phone screen lit up, the vibrations audible against the table. "Yeah?" Kara listened intently. "Sure." She put the phone in her bag. "No time for dessert. I gotta bring you back to the office." 

"What for?" he quizzed, smoothing down his clothes after he stood up. 

"Not sure yet." Her head was on a swivel as she assessed the traffic. "Do you wanna walk off more calories?"

He thought about being stuck in a cab and opted for the scenic route. A playful smile found his lips as he watched Kara's auburn hair swaying in the wind and he quickened his pace to match hers.

 

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