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In the Most Peculiar Ways

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Ten Out of Ten:

Regina lackadaisically flips through the slick pages of a magazine, eyes rolling each time a customer leaves after hitting on Ruby while she rings up their items or charges their card for the gas they're going to pump.

She doesn't mind though, the girl practically brings it on herself by starting the flirtation with the men, and sometimes women.

"I give that one a seven," Ruby whistles, flopping down onto the wooden stool beside Regina. It's a game Ruby plays with each attractive customer that leaves the store, rating their asses on a scale that Ruby created.

They're behind the counter, business slow at the gas station today. It's the middle of the afternoon, her free day from classes at Clemson University, and while she'd rather be laying by a pool working on her tan, she's trying to work as much as possible to save money.

She wants to go to Europe this summer with her friends, Mary Blanchard and Haley Tinkerton (Tink, for short), but her mother refuses to help out in any way. Cora, who she refuses to call mother now that she's old enough to get away with it, is rolling in money, has been for Regina's entire life—some large sum she inherited from Regina's grandfather—but has cut Regina off completely since she came to college. She's not entirely sure why, but she assumes it was because of her decision to study graphic design instead of business like Cora wanted her to.

"Yo," Ruby snaps her fingers in Regina's face, bringing her back to reality. "What's your score on that one?" She points to the man in the parking lot that had just left their store. Regina sighs, rolling her eyes once more.

"You know I don't like playing this game, Rubes."

With a snort, the girl with long brown hair and bright red streaks in it tells her, "Too bad! I'm bored, and we're slow, so therefore, you have to play."

Regina tilts her head to the side, cutting her eyes to Ruby dramatically as she huffs in resignation, "Fine…" Her eyes scan to the man who is climbing into his truck, eyes taking a perusal over his physique and landing on his rear. "I guess a seven, like you said."

The other girl scoffs, murmuring something about being a cop out before hopping from the stool and meandering to the back room to do some inventory.

Regina continues to flip through the pages of the magazine, skimming articles about celebrities and their newest love interests. Growing bored of the monotonous gossip, she pushes it aside, reaching into her bag that's tucked under the counter and grabs her sketchbook.

Slipping the pencil from the spiraled spine, Regina opens to the next blank page, sketching out a design for her upcoming assignment in school. They have to envision a beach house, and as she begins adding in details of the open concept and doodling the furniture into its rightful place, she gets lost in her own little world.

She looks up every few minutes to check the store, but as the ceiling fan blows a blessedly cool gust of air onto her heated skin, and the radio scratches in the background, she dreams of being anywhere but here. It's only the beginning of April, but South Carolina is already hot, scorching by mid-afternoon some days, and she can't wait to get away this summer.

"Milady?"

Regina's brown eyes snap up from where she'd been staring off into the distance, dreaming of her summer in Europe.

The British accent draws her attention, and she smiles, her breath catching in her throat when she makes eye contact with the man before her.

"Y-yes," she says, standing from her stool behind the counter and clearing her throat. "How can I help you?"

He chuckles lightly, almost as if she wasn't supposed to hear it, and a smirk quirks the corner of his mouth as he looks down at his items on the counter.

Right. Shit. He's just wanting to check out.

"Oh," she laughs awkwardly, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear. She'd straightened it this morning, but with the humidity coming in each time someone opens the door, it's started to curl. Looking at the guy, she flips her hair all to one side with a, "Right."

Fuck. This guy is really cute. Sandy blonde hair, blue eyes, a bit of scruff, and oh hell, dimples that could make any girl melt on the spot.

She slides her sketchbook out of the way, back behind the box of lottery tickets that stay perched on the counter for customers to choose from. The stranger's blue eyes flicker down, clearly trying to take a peek at her drawing as Regina picks up his items—an energy drink, some Reese's cups, M&M's, and a handful of granola bars—and rings them up, eyes flicking up to his between each item. "Going on a roadtrip or are you just really hungry?"

Her eyes squeeze shut and she shakes her head. Damn it, that was a stupid, and kind of rude, thing to say. Her nose scrunches as she apologizes, chuckling softly.

The man laughs, assuring her it's fine. "My mates and I are driving to Lake Hartwell for the weekend," he explains, and Regina is lost to his voice. It's so soothing, so sexy, and as she stares into his eyes, trying her damndest to listen, she can't help but float into her own little world imagining that she's the one going to the lake with him instead. "... by the lake for a few days."

"Oh," she stammers, blinking rapidly. Unsure of exactly what he said, she grins, adding, "That sounds lovely."

Standing there, she bites her lip, smiling softly at the man. He smiles back, those damn dimples drawing her attention, but before the moment can go on any longer, Ruby comes out from the back. "We need to order more—oh," she greets coyly, coming to stand beside Regina. "Hi." Regina doesn't even need to look to know Ruby is giving him her sultriest smile; she can tell just from the way the girl practically purred out her greeting.

"Hello there," the man chuckles, looking back to Regina.

Ruby bumps her shoulder to Regina's inconspicuously and gives her a wink when Regina looks over at her. "I'm Ruby." She holds out her manicured hand, and the handsome stranger obliges, looking from Regina to Ruby as he takes her hand in his.

"I'm Robin," he states, moving his hand from Ruby to Regina's. "Robin Locksley."

She stares at it, briefly, but reminds herself to snap out of it and shake his hand.

"...And this is our resident Evil Queen," Ruby tells him jokingly, smirking as she points to Regina.

It's a nickname she's acquired over the last two years of working here all because she refuses to rate customer's asses with Ruby and is a bit rude sometimes when their boss, Mr. Gold, demands she come in when she isn't scheduled. Wouldn't anyone, though? The guy is a jackass and expects her to somehow be at work at the same time she has class. It's ridiculous.

With a roll of her brown eyes, she looks to Robin from across the counter with a cock of her head. "I prefer Regina."

He smiles then, one that she thinks, somehow, is reserved just for her, and she feels as if the cold exterior she usually keeps up is slowly melting away just by looking at this guy. What the hell is wrong with her?

A beat of silence passes, Regina and Robin still gazing into one another's eyes, so Ruby clears her throat, "Uh, so," she looks down at the register, telling Robin, "your total is $10.58."

"Oh," he coughs, blinking as he draws his eyes from Regina to Ruby, smiling politely. "Of course." He hands Regina his card, and after processing his payment, she hands it back.

The tips of their fingers touch as she passes the plastic back to him, and she feels as if a jolt of electricity just whizzed through her whole body, a feeling she's unfamiliar with but wants to feel again.

He must notice it, too, because his head tilts, a shy smile growing on his lips.

"Well, ladies," he announces after another weighted moment of silence passes between them and takes his bagged items, "it was lovely to meet you."

His blue eyes, that she thinks she could get lost in forever, make contact with hers as he says it, and she beams, biting her lip as he turns to go.

"So," Ruby drawls, wapping Regina on the ass playfully, "I give it an eight."

Regina chuckles, still lost in her thoughts as her brain traitorously makes her say (in the dreamiest, love-sick school girl voice she's ever heard come out of her own body), "Definitely a nine."

Ruby's eyes widen as she looks to Regina, a smile bigger than she's ever seen on her face before as she squeals out, "Atta' girl!" and high fives Regina.

Robin spins to push the door open with his rear, and when he does, he catches Regina's eyes, a laugh bubbling out of him as he says, "Aw, and here I thought I'd at least get a ten outta ten."

He winks, and Regina's mouth falls agape, completely embarrassed that he'd heard their conversation.

"Well," she huffs, a bout of confidence bolstering up inside of her, "no one's is perfect."

He grins, and his eyes narrow, pretending to peer over the counter. "I'd bet yours is a ten, no doubt."

Robin looks to Ruby, sending her a wink as well before turning to leave.

Ruby chortles, head falling back as she pats Regina on the back. "I like him!" she exclaims, picking up her clipboard and making her way back to the stock room to finish inventory.

Regina brings a hand up to her face, covering it and groaning at what an idiot she'd been.

The one time she plays along with Ruby's stupid game, the guy hears her. And not just any guy, a cute guy. Ugh.

Her eyes are still closed when she hears someone clear their throat. Looking up, her eyes widen when she sees Robin standing before her. "Oh, uh," she looks around, making sure she hadn't forgotten to bag an item. "Did you forget something?"

He smirks, a lopsided thing that makes only one dimple pop, and he nods. "Yeah," he hands her a small piece of paper, adding, "to give you my phone number."

She does a double take, not used to anyone being so forward, but she grins as she takes it, a timid giggle bubbling up from out of her. "Oh," is all she can think to say as she peers down at the numbers in front of her.

"If you'd like," he says, tapping on the counter, "you can text me. I'll be free all weekend out at the cabin so I can talk whenever."

She worries her lips as she tries to contain the megawatt smile growing. She can feel the lick of heat making its way up her body and onto her cheeks, and she just knows they're pink by now, if not red.

His smile fades as she just looks at him, and he stumbles over a, "If-if you want to, I mean. No pressure. I was just—"

"No!" she blurts, probably a bit louder than necessary, and they both chuckle. Her eyes sink closed as she inhales, then opens again to look at him. "No," she says more calmly, exhaling sharply, "sorry, I didn't mean to not say anything."

He shrugs, assuring her it's fine. "I don't normally do this, but," his hand reaches up, rubbing at the back of his neck. She can see his skin growing redder by the moment, too, and she grins. "My buddies are in the car and encouraged me to come back in. Knew I wouldn't shut up about the gorgeous girl at the gas station all weekend if I didn't."

She blushes at the compliment, and gives him a soft smile. "I'm glad you came back, then." She glances over to his car sitting in front of the store, then back to him. "I'd hate for you to lose friends over this."

He chuckles, murmuring that he wouldn't mind, and god, she cannot stop smiling like a little school girl.

Regina folds his number, tucking it into the back pocket of her jeans, before reaching to the cash register and printing out a blank receipt. She jots her number down as well, telling him, "I get off at five. You can text me anytime after that."

Robin takes the paper, staring at it as if it's the most precious thing he's ever possessed, then places it in his pocket. "And I shall. That, I can promise you."

With one last dimpled smile, he turns, adding a quipped, "I'll open the door with my hand this time so you two can watch my ass better this go 'round."

Ruby bursts out laughing from behind her, and when did she come out from the back? Ruby waves goodbye, shouting across the store that she hopes he comes back to see them soon.

With a cheeky, "Oh, I will," and a wink, Robin finally leaves. For good this time. Until two days later, when his camping trip with his buddies is over, and they stop to fill up.

She and Robin had been texting the whole weekend, and when her shift is over that night, he picks her up from her apartment and takes her to dinner, chuckling as he breaks the ice by twirling her around and proclaiming with a whistle, "definitely a perfect score," that makes her laugh.

The evening is lovely, and she has to say, to have started out as just an ass-rating, he has completely impressed her; he's a ten out of ten in more ways that just his physical appearance, and as she lets him kiss her goodnight at her front door, she thinks, just maybe, Ruby is on to something with her game.

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