He turns to me and winks, then walks to the oven. “I’ll never do it again, then.”
And it happens again…the silence. Yesterday the silence between us was fine, but for some reason, it’s incredibly awkward tonight. It is for me, anyway. I’m beginning to think I’m just nervous for what the rest of the night holds. It’s obvious with the chemistry between us that we’ll end up kissing eventually. It’s just really hard to focus on the here and now and be engaged in conversation when that’s the only thing on my mind. I can’t stand not knowing when he’ll do it. Will he wait until after dinner when my breath smells like garlic and onions? Will he wait until it’s time for him to leave? Will he just spring it on me when I’m least expecting it? I almost just want to get it over with right now. Cut to the chase so the inevitable can be put aside and we can get on with the night.
“You okay?” he asks. I snap my gaze back up to his and he’s standing across the bar from me. “Where’d you go? You checked out for a while there.”
I shake my head and pull myself back into the conversation. “I’m fine.”
He picks up a knife and begins chopping a tomato. Even his tomato chopping skills are effortless. Is there anything this boy is bad at? His knife stills on the cutting board and I look up at him. He’s looking down at me with a serious expression.
“Where’d you go, Sky?” He watches me for a few seconds, waiting on my response. When I fail to give him one, he drops his eyes back to the cutting board.
“Promise you won’t laugh?” I ask.
He squints his eyes and ponders my question, then shakes his head. “I told you that I’ll only ever be honest with you, so no. I can’t promise I won’t laugh because you’re kind of funny and that’s only setting myself up for failure.”
“Are you always so difficult?”
He grins at me, but doesn’t respond. He keeps eyeing me like he’s challenging me to say what’s really on my mind. Unfortunately, I don’t back down from challenges.
“Okay, fine.” I sit up straight in my chair and take a deep breath, then let all my thoughts out at once. “I’m really not any good at this whole dating thing, and I don’t even know if this is a date, but I know that whatever it is, it’s a little more than just two friends hanging out, and knowing that makes me think about later tonight when it’s time for you to leave and whether or not you plan to kiss me and I’m the type of person who hates surprises so I can’t stop feeling awkward about it because I do want you to kiss me and this may be presumptuous of me, but I sort of think you want to kiss me, too, and so I was thinking how much easier it would be if we just went ahead and kissed already so you can go back to cooking dinner and I can stop trying to mentally map out how our night’s about to play out.” I inhale an incredibly huge breath, being as though I have none left in my lungs.
He stopped chopping somewhere in the middle of that rant, but I’m not sure which part. He’s looking at me with his mouth slightly agape. I take a deep breath and slowly exhale, thinking I may have just completely sent him out the front door. And sadly, I wouldn’t blame him if he ran.
He lays the knife gently on the cutting board and places his palms on the counter in front of him, never breaking his gaze from mine. I fold my hands in my lap and wait for a reaction. It’s all I can do.
“That,” he says, pointedly, “was the longest run-on sentence I’ve ever heard.”
I roll my eyes and slouch back against my seat, then fold my arms across my chest. I just practically begged him to kiss me, and he’s critiquing my grammar?
“Relax,” he says with a grin. He slides the tomatoes off the cutting board and into the pan, then places it on the stove. He adjusts the temperature of one of the burners and pours the pasta into the boiling water. Once everything is set, he dries his hands on the hand towel, then walks around the bar to where I’m seated.
“Stand up,” he directs.
I look up at him warily, but I do what he says. Slowly. When I’m standing up, facing him, he places his hands on my shoulders and looks around the room. “Hmm,” he says, thinking audibly. He glances into the kitchen, then slides his hands down my shoulders and grabs my wrists. “I sort of liked the fridge backdrop.” He pulls me into the kitchen, then positions me like a puppet with my back against the refrigerator. He places both of his hands against the refrigerator on either side of my head, and looks down at me.
It’s not the most romantic way I’ve pictured him kissing me, but I guess it’ll do. I just want to get it over with. Especially now that he’s making such a big production out of it. He begins to lean in toward me, so I take a deep breath and close my eyes.
And I wait.
I open my eyes and he’s so close I actually flinch, which only makes him laugh. He doesn’t back away, though, and his breath teases my lips like fingers. He smells like mint leaves and soda and I never thought the two would make a good combination, but they really do.
“Sky?” he says, quietly. “I’m not trying to torture you or anything, but I already made up my mind before I came over here. I’m not kissing you tonight.”
His words cause my stomach to sink from the weight of my disappointment. My self-confidence has just gone out the window, and I really need an ego building text from Six right now.
He slowly drops one of his hands and brings it to my face, then traces down my cheek with his fingers. I try not to shudder under his touch, but it’s taking every ounce of my willpower not to appear completely flustered right now. His eyes follow his hand as it slowly moves down my jaw, then my neck, stopping at my shoulder. He brings his eyes back to mine and there’s an undeniable amount of lust in them. Seeing the look in his eyes eases my disappointment by a tiny fraction.
“I want to kiss you,” he says. “Believe me, I do.” He drops his eyes to my lips and brings his hand back up to my cheek, cupping it. I willingly lean into his palm this time. I pretty much relinquished control to him the moment he walked through the front door. Now I’m nothing but putty in his hands.
“But if you really want to, then why don’t you?” I’m terrified he’s about to spout off an excuse that contains the word girlfriend.
He cases my face in both of his hands and tilts my face up toward his. He brushes his thumbs back and forth along my cheekbones and I can feel the rapid rise and fall of his chest against mine. “Because,” he whispers. “I’m afraid you won’t feel it.”
I suck in a quick breath and hold it. The conversation we had on my bed last night replays in my head, and I realize that I never should have told him any of that. I never should have said I feel nothing but numbness when I kiss people, because he’s the absolute exception to the rule. I bring my hand to his hand on my cheek, and I cover it with mine.
I’ll feel it, Holder. I already do. I want to say those words out loud, but I can’t. Instead, I just nod.
He closes his eyes and inhales, then pulls me away from the refrigerator and into his chest. He wraps one arm around my back and holds his other hand against my head. My arms are still awkwardly at my sides, so I tentatively bring them up and wrap them around his waist. When I do this, I quietly gasp at the peacefulness that consumes me, being wrapped up in him like this. We both simultaneously pull each other closer and he kisses me on top of the head. It’s not the kiss I was expecting, but I’m pretty sure I love it just as much.
We’re standing in the same position when the timer on the oven dings. He doesn’t immediately release me though, which makes me smile. When he does begin to drop his arms, I look down to the floor, unable to look at him. Somehow, me trying to rectify the awkwardness about kissing him has just made things even more awkward for me.
As if he can sense my embarrassment, he takes both of my hands in his and interlocks our fingers. “Look at me.” I lift my eyes to his, trying to hide the disappointment from realizing our mutual attraction is on two different levels. “Sky, I’m not kissing you tonight but believe me when I tell you, I’ve never wanted to kiss a girl more. So stop thinking I’m not attracted to you because you have no idea just how much I am. You can hold my hand, you can run your fingers through my hair, you can straddle me while I feed you spaghetti, but you are not getting kissed tonight. And probably not tomorrow, either. I need this. I need to know for sure that you’re feeling every single thing that I’m feeling the moment my lips touch yours. Because I want your first kiss to be the best first kiss in the history of first kisses.” He pulls my hand up to his mouth and kisses it. “Now stop sulking and help me finish the meatballs.”
I grin, because that was seriously the best excuse ever for being turned down. He could turn me down every day for the rest of my life, so long as it’s followed up by that excuse.
He swings our hands between us, peering down at me. “Okay?” he says. “Is that enough to get you through a couple more dates?”
I nod. “Yep. But you’re wrong about one thing.”
“You said you want my first kiss to be the best first kiss, but this won’t be my first kiss. You know that.”
He narrows his eyes and pulls his hands from mine, then cups my face again. He pushes me back against the refrigerator and brings his lips dangerously close to mine. The smile is gone from his eyes and is replaced by a very serious expression. An expression so intense, I stop breathing.
He leans in excruciatingly slowly until his lips just barely reach mine, and the anticipation of them alone is enough to paralyze me. He doesn’t close his eyes, so neither do I. He holds me in this position for a moment, allowing our breath to blend between us. I’ve never felt so helpless and out of control of myself, and if he doesn’t do something within the next three seconds, I’m more than likely going to pounce him.
He looks at my lips and when he does, it prompts me to pull my bottom lip between my teeth. Otherwise, I just might bite him.
“Let me inform you of something,” he says in a low voice. “The moment my lips touch yours, it will be your first kiss. Because if you’ve never felt anything when someone’s kissed you, then no one’s ever really kissed you. Not the way I plan on kissing you.”
He drops his hands and keeps his eyes locked on mine while he backs up to the stove. He turns around to tend to the pasta like he didn’t just ruin me for any other guy for the rest of my life.
I can’t feel my legs, so I do the only thing I can. I slide down the refrigerator until my butt meets the floor, and I inhale.
Saturday, September 1st, 2012 7:15 p.m.
“Your spaghetti sucks ass.” I take another bite and close my eyes, savoring what is possibly the best pasta that’s ever passed my lips.
“You love it and you know it,” he says. He stands up from the table and grabs two napkins, then brings them back and hands me one. “Now wipe your chin, you’ve got sucky ass spaghetti sauce all over it.”