Sam looked down as sadness crossed his face, “I guess we were just two different types of people, she was two years older than me, she never let me forget. She always said I was too immature for her, but then again, she needed to lighten up.” His sadness turned to anger the more he thought about it, and his hands balled up into tight fists. As soon as he felt Mercedes scoot closer to him, his hands relaxed a bit, as if he were coming back to reality. As Mercedes describe her perfect guy, he relaxed with each quality she listed, except for the last one. “I’m all of those…except the whole changing thing. I’m a constantly changing person, because I’m always trying to fix myself. I could be 50 different people, I always accustom myself to the Samuel Evans people might like better.” He actually felt his heart opening up a bit, he liked it, because Mercedes actually listened.
Sam didn’t even have to think about the question, he knew exactly what is was. “I know it sounds nerdy, but I wish I tried harder in school, I didn’t want to be that smart kid like I was in middle school, and I regret it because I could’ve been noticed more, had more connection with the big people. I wish I could’ve expressed my talents more. I see all these people being accepted for their music abilities and that could’ve been me, but when they ask if I’ve even been in choir or in a musical performance class and I say no, they just shoo me away.” He stayed quiet, thinking it over. “What about you?”
Mercedes placed a hesitant hand on his back and started to rub slowly. It was like… instinctual for the diva to want to console him, ease the pains of his past. She had always prided herself on being a good listener— someone who was there for anyone who needed her. Unfortunately, that had a way of blowing back up in her face, but she was determined not to let that happen in this case. Ignoring his ‘I’m all of those’ comment that seemed to suggest something that Mercedes couldn’t quite put a finger on, she continued. “Who are you now, Samuel Evans? Who you want to be, or who you think I want you to be?” she asked quietly. Of course, she wanted him to be the person he wanted to be, but she had just stated that. He could’ve been trying the whole time.
"Because you need to just be yourself. That’s how you sort out the people who stay in your life. If they’re still there after they find out exactly who you are and don’t make fun of you for it, or don’t care that that’s who you are— those are the ones you want to keep. If they can’t be happy unless you’re who they want you to be, they’re not going to ever be okay with you you really are.” Pulling her other hand back from his back to her lap, she explained. “They’re going to keep wanting more out of you, Sam. And one day, it’ll just be too impossible to keep up with their version of you and they’re going to just walk out of your life. Those aren’t the kind of people you want around, Sammy. Choose people who are going to embrace your awesomeness.” She didn’t know when she had started calling him Sammy, but it just felt natural, so she went with it.
Taking a chance, she leaned her head onto his shoulder., tilting her head up to look into his eyes for a moment. ”You want to be a musician?” Her smile reached her eyes, which were excited. “It doesn’t matter how much experience you have. If you have the talent and the soul, someone will notice. Obviously, not now because we’re lost in the middle of nowhere, but still… Don’t give up, Sammy. Perserverance.”
She took a few moments to gather her thoughts about how she was going to answer the next question. Her focus turned to the sand as she finally spoke, “My biggest regret would be…” her voice drifted off. She didn’t know if she could tell him… well, exact details anyways. She continued in a soft voice and prayed he didn’t ask for more details— she would probably give it to him if he did, but she hoped he didn’t. “Putting a little bit too much trust in some people.” There it was. She didn’t give an explaination or sugar coat it, it was just… out there now. Before he got a chance to ask more, she took her turn. “What did you want to be when you were little? I mean… what did you aspire to be when you grew up?”
“Dang, Brad Pitt gets all the ladies!” He laughed softly. Baking wasn’t exactly a “guilty pleasure” but it was something he was embarrassed about. Maybe it did help win over a couple of girls, but it wasn’t something he bragged about. Especially since all the guys teased him about it.
No boyfriend? There was no way someone couldn’t have been interested in Mercedes. Sam was pretty positive that when Drake wrote “You with all those curves and me without no brakes” he was thinking about Mercedes. And her smile, it was like perfection. It was the type of smile that was contagious and spread to others. “Oh..” he said, unsure of how to rid of the awkwardness. “Well, I guess me and this girl just stopped getting along. She seemed very annoyed of me, so I told her we should stop talking for the weekend, to take a break, and it ended up going on for like…forever.” He smiled a bit. He actually liked this girl, but she didn’t seem too interested. Sam swore he wouldn’t open up too easily to someone like that again, but he seemed to be going back on his word right now. “Well..” he said, thinking. “What is your ideal guy?”
"Her loss," Mercedes shrugged nonchalantly. With a smirk, she added, "Not sure who could get annoyed with such an awesome guy, but… I guess it must’ve been for the better. Someone who’s going to be 100% committed to just loving you and being by your side is waiting out there for you to come into her life." It was a little weird, talking to him while her heart yearned for her to tell him that she could be that someone, but after past events, she wasn’t going to put her heart out there first again just so it could get stomped on, without knowing how they felt about her. "Yup… just need to find a way off this island first."
She moved in a little bit closer to him, this time on purpose. They had come out here to challenge Sam’s cuddling skills and the last time she checked, that meant being close enough that they were at least touching. And that was at the very least. Looking up at him, she struggled to find his answer. After a few moments of silence she spoke up, voice just above a whisper, “Funny, charismatic, charming, sweet. He’s got to like me for who I am… and preferrably stick up for himself and not change— or pretend to change— who he is just so people will like them. He needs to be comfortable with who he is and I think it would be wonderful if he would share that with me and let me be a part of that…” she drifted off. Hopefully all of those applied to him. She wasn’t exactly sure… she hadn’t known him that long and frankly, this was the first time she had spent some one-on-one time with the hunk.
In the same soft tone she continued with her next question. “Whether it’s something you did, or that someone else did, or how someone reacted to something… What’s one thing you regret most in your life?”
“Oh come on, don’t put yourself down. You’re not ugly, I really don’t see what race has to do with anything.” He stabbed back at her, if there was one thing he hated it was someone who had a low self esteem. It was okay to be self-concious about a few things, but Sam thought everyone needed confidence, that even if someone puts you down you have to stand back up. “I mean, everyone makes fun of me because I’m white, with dark brown hair. So I decided to dye it blonde, because it suits me…no?” He said, flashing a small wink towards Mercedes. That’s how it’s done, whether he’s self conscious about his skin color, he can always bring himself back up.
Sam thought long and hard about any “guilty pleasures” he might have. He starred hard into the fire, trying to think of everything and anything that might be good. “Uhm, I like to cook….like…I used to own one of those magic oven things when I was little…but it was blue! Not pink.” Sam looked away, pretending to be starring at a tree so Mercedes wouldn’t see him blush of embarrassment.
Now was the time to get personal, if Sam just told Mercedes that he owned a Betty Crocker oven when he was a kid, he wanted to know some personal stuff about her too. “Why did your last relationship end?”
Mercedes deadpanned, turning her full attention to the boy beside her. “I never said that I thought that, that’s just what I’m sure he was thinking at the time.” Okay, so that was a lie. She thought that too. But what good would it do her to break her facade and tell him that? None at all. She rolled her eyes dramatically at his tiny ego trip, raising a hand to ruffle his faux blonde hair, “Uh huh, sure white boy. You’re the next Brad Pitt.” A small giggle escaped her lips as her eyes met his for a short moment before she looked down.
"Nothing wrong with a man who knows his way around the kitchen," the dark-skinned diva said, a serious look on her face. "It’s sure to earn you points with the many girls you’re sure to snag once we get back." For some reason, that statement hurt. Of course it was true… the man was smokin’ hot. He’d be swarmed by girls when they got back— if they got back. “You shouldn’t feel ‘guilty’ for having that pleasure.”
Now it was Mercedes turn to look away. It wasn’t like this was anything new— she’d spent years explaining about her non-existant boyfriends to unconcerned family members at the family reunions, but to have to explain it to this man who she barely knew… well, it was a bit embarrassing. She refused to look at him as she answered, “I’d have to have a relationship before it could end.” Not even bothering to think of her own question, she added, “What about you? Your answer has to be far more interesting than mine.”
“Amateur?!” Sam said shockingly. “I’m no amateur!” When in fact he was, but he was always good at acting. He didn’t want to get too personal too quick, but Mercedes’ question was leading in the right direction.
Most embarassing thing? Sam pondered the question for a second, trying to think of something good, but not too embarassing. He had found it.
“Well, it’s more like a series of embarrassing things. We had this maid at my house, named Laura. I was about 7, she was so gorgeous. Everyday when I played outside I would pick a sunflower and give it to her before she left, and I told her she was as bright as the sun, or something like that. It was really weird. Then one day she quit, because she was having a baby, and I cried for a good week.” Thinking of an embarrassing story off the top of your head is hard, but that was as far back as Sam could remember. “Okay, my turn.” He thought for a second, trying to think of something even more sinister and evil than Mercedes’ question. “Have you ever had a creepy crush on someone? Like where you would write them notes and never caught the hint?” He was sure she had a similar situation to his Laura story.
"Pfft." Mercedes scoffed, a playful smile still gracing her face. "The only thing worse would’ve been to ask my what my favorite color is." Scanning Sam’s face, she saw no hint that his answer would be a lie and listened to his story intently. As much as this was about learning more about her crush, it was also sort of a test to see what kind of a guy her new friend was.
A small hand quickly found its way up to cover her mouth, muffling the sound of her quiet laughter at his story, recovering when he asked her a similar question. Her eyes dimmed for a second before she caught her diminishing facade. “First and last time this happened.” She started, thinking back to the unforgettable day. She didn’t think it was quite what Sam was looking for, but… it was the first and last time she had ever tried to purposely get a boy’s attention. “He was one of my brother’s best friends. He used to flirt with me all the time— looking back now, it was all playful jabs at me. Like, ‘let’s pretend someone could actually be interested in the chubby black kid for a moment just to see what would happen’. Except, I was naive back then and actually believed he meant it. I spent months writing the boy poems— not exactly love poems, but it hinted at how I felt. Turns out, he’d been going home and laughing at my stupidity with his friends.” To save them from the grim mood it could’ve turned into, she made a joke about it, “I can’t disagree with him there. Only someone as stupid as he made me out to be would ever be interested in that imbecile.”
Keeping the mood lighter, she continued with their little game. “My turn, lover boy,” she mocked him jokingly. That story could become ammo for so much in the future. “How about…” Her eyes scanned the distance as she tried to come up with her next question. “What is your biggest guilty pleasure?”
Crap. Sam was hoping Mercedes would ask the first question since he had no idea what to ask. But he might as well start with knowing who this girl is. “What is your full name?” A pretty straight forward question, but Sam always thought ahead. And whenever he was angry, he always included middle names.
He didn’t know how exactly to lead up to getting her to answer his question, of who she liked, but he just hoped all of this would lead in the right direction. He noticed Mercedes scooting closer to him, and he didn’t mind too much, after all, this fire wasn’t providing enough heat. He leaned back and put his arms behind his head as he laid on his back and looked at the stars. He patted the ground next to him, suggested her to lay next to him. Closing his eyes, he waited for a response.
“Amateur,” she muttered playfully under her breath, just loud enough that he could hear her, rolling her eyes for extra emphasis. “Mercedes Patrice Jones. My turn.” An evil grin spread across her face. There had been a moment when she thought that he was so innocent that she should maybe keep the hardcore questions to herself and take it easy on him instead. Then she realized that this was an opportunity to get to know more about her crush— an opportunity that she refused to give up just to play fair.
"Hmm.." Mercedes tapped her pointer finger on her chin, feigning a devious, devilish grin as she pretended to think long and hard about her question. She turned to look him in the eye, knowing the reaction that accompanied his answer would let her know if he was going to lie his way through the questions or be truthful. "What is the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you? Ever."
Sam noticed the hesitation in Mercedes answer. Maybe it was him, but either way he still had no confirmation of it. There was nothing he could really say the awkwardness, all he really wanted to do was to get it out of her. To say “Hey, I like you too”, but why? He hardly knew this girl, they’ve talked a bit but not that much. Besides he had kissed Rachel, who was still lost in the woods. But even Rachel had admitted that they were nothing.
The first thing Sam had to do was build trust with this girl, that way she could open up. He was unsure how though, these things usually do not happen over night. “Do you want to play 20 questions to pass the time?”
OKAY, 20 questions. Really? Dipshit.
He squinted his face hopng she wouldn’t realize how stupid he sounded.
Amusement found its way on Mercedes’ face. 20 questions? He really wanted to play 20 questions with her? Granted, he probably didn’t know what he was getting himself into, but still. He was going to wish he hadn’t suggested it. The corner of her mouth turned up into a smirk as she raised an eyebrow at him. “Okay then, Blondie. Twenty questions. You can go first.” She offered, knowing it was only fair to let him begin if she wasn’t going to go easy on him.
Unconsciously, she scooted a little closer to the male. If she was aware of it, she probably wouldn’t have let it happen, but it was automatic. Besides, if they were going to be sharing secrets, it would do neither of them any good if the others could hear them— even if they were supposed to be asleep further down the beach.
“That does sound pretty dang comfortable, now you’re just hurting my pride!” Sam said playfully. There really was no way to compete with a stuffed animal. He knew what it was like, he had his own stuffed animal, an otter named Max. Sam knew this small talk wasn’t doing anything, so he might as well find out a little more about Mercedes. “So, who’s this guy you havea crush on? If you don’t mind me asking.”
Whether is was him or not, he didn’t want to be shot down or be too over confident when it came to this. He smiled a bit, trying not to make things too awkward between them, and then he stared at the stars and waited for her answer.
Mercedes threw the blonde her best “Bitch, please” look. She wouldn’t tell him, even if he wasn’t the object of her affections. Guys were last on her list of people to trust with her feelings— her past was a great example of the reason why. “Oh, no. I… can’t tell you that.” She looked down at her hands which were placed gently in her lap. Damn her girly emotions for making her nervous and embarrassed in front of him. Thank God for the dark color of her skin, otherwise he’d probably be witness to the furious blush that was heating her face.
The diva glanced back up at her crush, whose eyes were skyward. “It doesn’t really matter, now does it?” She tried to cover up the pain in that question, but failed. Her feelings could never be on her side for once, could they? No. They had to do their best to make it obvious that something was wrong. It didn’t matter who she had a crush on, because he was so… utterly attractive and sweet, that she doubted she was anywhere near being in his league.
Oh boy, what did I get myself into? Sam thought as he waited by the edge of the woods with a clear shot of the camp fire, but he was hidden away. Sam wasn’t the relationship type of person, nor did he like Mercedes, so why did he agree to this? He wasn’t the type of guy to lead girls on, maybe to flirt around, but never be such an asshole. There was something there though, something tell him to agree to this. Maybe the fact that they are two totally different people is a bit frightening. How exactly is one supposed to just cuddle anyways? Should there just be a talk to lead up to it?
He stayed leaning against a tree, waiting for Mercedes to walk towards the camp fire. Sam hated being first, it was always so awkward. Being the first one to arrive, you’re unsure what to do with yourself. As he saw Mercedes nearing the camp fire, he started walking forward. As Mercedes sat down, he came up besides her and took a seat next to her. “Hey there,” he said softly, trying not to frighten her.
Mercedes looked up towards the source of the voice. Seeing Sam, she put on her masquerade of ‘fearless diva’ and a smile and greeted him back. “Hey, Mr. Big Shot,” she teased, trying to lighten the atmosphere. She had no idea how this was supposed to work, but she figured a friendly mood would be a good place to start. “So… what’s this I hear about someone on this island being a better cuddler than Elsworth?” She smirked, bumping him gently with her shoulder. “I should warn you, though… soft, fuzzy, eight tentacles? You’ve got a lot to live up to, Mr. Evans.”
With her divatude mask on tightly, her nerves slowly started to melt away. Something about pretending not to be vulnerable had a calming effect on her. She didn’t know how it was going to work once they got to the point of their meeting as she could be self-conscious about her body… especially when the person who’d be pressed against her curves was Sam. But it didn’t do her any good to worry about that now. She was here, it was going to happen unless he backed out, and there was nothing she could do about it. Shortly, she wondered why she had even agreed to it, but it was too late for regrets. So instead she just put on a smile and just hoped for the best.
Mercedes Jones was nervous, to say the very least. She didn’t expect Sam, her crush of all people, to be the one offering to take Elsworth’s place. She also didn’t expect to not quite care how arrogant he seemed to be about being the best cuddler. If there was one thing Mercedes couldn’t stand, it was arrogance. Damn. She must’ve been in deeper than she thought.
It was almost dark and even though she didn’t really specify a time other than “tonight” to cuddle with him by the fire, she was still pacing back and forth on the plane. They weren’t anything but friends and Mercedes knew that they probably wouldn’t be more than that. He had clearly stated that he wasn’t a relationship guy… after she had seen him kissing Rachel shortly before she got lost, of course, but still… Maybe she just wasn’t his type. She wouldn’t be surprised if he preferred skinny ass white chicks to her— everyone else did. It still didn’t do anything to help her nerves.
This was going to be awkward, Mercedes just had a feeling. Cuddling with the only guy she was interested in on the island who was only doing this to prove that he was “the best cuddler, hands down” just screamed awkward. Not to mention, she’d probably embarrass herself a million different ways before it was over. She hadn’t done this with anyone at home, let alone anyone she was stuck with until they finally got rescued— whenever that would be.
Taking in a deep, shaky breath, she finally headed out towards the fire. Might as well get his over with. Slowly, her legs carried her closer to the warm glow. With Sam nowhere in sight, she let out the breath she didn’t know she was holding and sat down in the sand close to the fire. He seemed sure about proving himself right, so there was no doubt in Mercedes’ mind that he would show up eventually. It was just a matter of how long he’d have her on edge, anticipating what was to come.