Author: jeepers09 PM
Kris thought she was meeting her boyfriend's brother. But she found out she already had, and he'd given her the best kiss of her life. One-shot.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance - Words: 4,035 - Reviews: 25 - Favs: 49 - Follows: 6 - Published: 05-14-09 - Status: Complete - id: 2673014
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Kris blew out a big breath, trying to calm her nerves, without even realizing it until Brian took her hand and squeezed it. "Don't be so terrified," he laughed. "It's just my brother."
"I know, but it's the first time I'm meeting any of your family," she reminded him. "And the way you always talk about Travis, I feel like... I don't know..." Of course she knew. She was afraid that if Brian's brother didn't like her, Brian might start re-thinking things. She shook her head. He wouldn't do that. He was the nicest guy she'd met in... too long.
The PA system announced the arrival of Flight 1062, direct from Chicago, and Brian stood anxiously, craning his neck to see past the crowds of people waiting in the terminal lobby. "I wish they'd let us wait at the gate again. It was more fun that way." He sat again, disappointed. "Hard to believe I haven't seen him in almost two years."
Kris rubbed her hand on his leg, the one that was bouncing anxiously up and down. "That's what happens when you pick a college in California and he picks one in Chicago."
"Still. Two years." He jumped up again as more people came past the security barrier, and Kris smiled watching him. They'd obviously been close, and she thought it was cute to see him this excited. All the way to the airport he'd been talking about Travis. Things they'd done in high school, trouble they'd gotten into together. Travis was popular with girls, Travis was athletic. Travis was majoring in engineering, full scholarship. Travia held the state record in the 100 meters. Or was it the 200? Maybe it was because Travis was the youngest, she thought, but she'd never heard the least bit of jealousy or competition in Brian's stories.
He reached back and pulled her to her feet. "There he is." Kris took another deep breath, her eyes scanning the crowd, but Brian was already stepping forward into the throng and grasping his brother in a bear hug. She stood on her toes, but the crowd of arriving travelers and the loved ones greeting them had blocked her view. She couldn't see them at all, not until Brian appeared again, leading someone toward her, his face one big smile.
"And this," he announced proudly, stepping aside, "is Kris."
The curious, welcoming smile she glimpsed on Travis's face disappeared the minute he got a good look at her. He stared at her blankly, his forehead creasing in confusion. Kris's heart started pounding, but she tried to smile past her dismay and stuck out her hand. "I'm happy to finally meet you." But her hand just dangled there as Travis stood unmoving, and she saw him look over at Brian as if he didn't understand. But Kris understood perfectly. It was obvious that he was wondering what Brian was doing with a girl like this. Brian was frowning at his brother, subtly nudging his arm, but Kris dropped hers quickly, before the situation could get any more awkward. She felt tears come to her eyes and blinked fast. She wouldn't cry, wouldn't feel any more stupid than she already did. Instead she set her mouth into a smile that she didn't feel. "Ready? Let's go." And she stepped out, leading the way toward the exit doors.
Brian grasped Travis's arm firmly as they followed her fast retreat. "What's wrong with you?" he whispered angrily.
"What do you mean, what's wrong with me?" Travis answered.
"Standing there looking at her like she's a big disappointment. I can't believe you! If that's how you're gonna act, you might as well head back home right now." He released Travis's arm with a rough push. "You almost made her cry. And I've never seen her cry, not once." He strode ahead, jaw clenched as he tried to catch up to her, and Travis stepped up his pace to keep up. Then Kris turned and signaled to Brian that she would be just a minute and disappeared into the ladies' room.
Brian moved over against the wall and leaned back against it, scowling at his brother. "So, what's it gonna be? Do I put you on a plane or what?"
Travis raised his hands apologetically. "Look, Bry, I'm sorry. I didn't mean anything. I was just... surprised."
Travis shifted uncomfortably on his feet. "I don't know."
"You gonna keep acting like an idiot around her? Because if you are..."
"I'm done," Travis said, shaking his head. "I'll be charming from here on out, I swear."
Kris stared at herself in the mirror. She'd known the tears were going to find their way out whether she liked it or not, so she'd ducked in here to let them have their way. Now she wiped her eyes and sighed at her reflection. Look at her. No wonder Travis had reacted that way. Brian was so handsome, and outgoing, and she was... plain. Plain old ugly, she grimaced at herself. She'd failed the test, without even opening her mouth.
She turned on the cold faucet and splashed her face, then wiped it dry and turned away from the mirror. Might as well get this over with, she thought, and stepped out the door.
Brian pushed away from the wall as she came out. "Ready?" he said cheerily as he reached out and took her hand.
Walking together this time, they headed for the exit, and Travis fell into step beside Kris. "So..." he said awkwardly, catching Brian's prodding glance behind her back. "You go to UC with Brian?"
"Did you grow up here?"
Sheesh, he thought in frustration, help a guy out here. So he'd blown the moment, and she obviously had no idea why. He saw Brian look over again and stepped forward to get the door, holding it as they went through and stepped outside. "That's right, Brian told me. You grew up in Chicago, right?"
"Kinda funny that I live there now, where you grew up, and you're out here in my neck of the woods." This time he got no answer at all, and he caught Brian's eye and shrugged. He was trying to talk to her. In fact, he really wanted to talk to her, but not like this, and not with Brian right there. Because even though he didn't know how in the world he was going to bring it up, he'd recognized her right away.
It wasn't far to Brian's car, and before he could say anything Kris had climbed into the back seat. Travis and Brian exchanged a look over the roof, then got in. Brian took control of the conversation then, chatting casually with both of them, asking Travis about how school was going, trying to draw Kris in with comments about Chicago, but she responded only with short, quiet sentences. Thank goodness his house wasn't far away. Brian unlocked the door and pulled Kris inside leaving Travis to get his bag from the trunk. "You okay?" he asked gently, putting his hands on her shoulders and making sure she looked him in the eye.
"No you're not. Don't pretend."
She pulled away. "Your brother's here, and you're excited to see him. I'm fine. I was thinking... maybe I'll head on home - "
"No, Kris." He caught her hand. "Stay, and we'll grill out just like we planned. The burgers are all ready and everything. I don't know why he reacted like that, but he's a good guy. Really." He laced his fingers with hers. "Try again. Please?"
Kris looked up at him, hating the worry in his eyes, and she nodded and gave him a smile, and saw his relief.
"Thanks," he said softly, leaning down to give her a sweet kiss just as Travis came in the door and stopped short.
Brian grinned down at her, gave her another kiss, then moved away. "Get used to it, Trav. I kiss her every chance I get." He took Travis's bag. "Lemme put this away for you and wash up while you start the grill. It's already on the patio, ready to go." He left them and headed down the short hallway to the guest room, and Travis and Kris stood there awkwardly.
"Well. Guess I have a job to do," Travis said, rubbing his hands together and heading for the back door.
"I'll get the meat," Kris offered, heading for the kitchen, and when she had gotten the platter of meat from the fridge she snuck a look out the back window. What would she do if he hated her? What would happen with Brian? He loved his brother, and she couldn't come between them. She either had to make this work, or... or...
"Hey, Kris?" Brian came up behind her and caught her in his arms, giving her a squeeze. "I just realized I forgot to stop for the soda on the way home."
"Want me to go get it?"
"No way," he grinned. "I'd give you the keys and you'd never come back." He looked over her shoulder out the window. "Seriously, though. You won't leave if I leave you alone here with him for five minutes, will you?"
She smiled, wishing she'd thought of it first, then felt guilty. "No. I won't leave."
"Good. One more kiss and I'm outta here." He got his kiss, then dug in his pocket for his keys. "Be right back. Pepsi or Coke?"
"You know me."
He backed away, smiling. "Yeah, I do."
Travis heard her come out the door and dared a glance. Kris smiled and gestured toward the grill. "Almost ready?"
"We've got burgers and brats. What'll you have?"
"One of each would be great." Travis looked back toward the house. "Where's Brian?"
"On a soda run. He'll be right back."
"Oh." Well, this was his chance then. He steeled himself, not sure if he was doing the right thing. "So, can I talk to you for a minute then?"
"You are talking to me."
He gave her a look. "I'm serious." Her tension was obvious, and he knew just how she felt. Well, no, he was way more nervous than she was.
"Okay. What do you want to talk about?"
"You ever been to Billy-Bob's, on 59th?" He shook his head. "No, scratch that. I know you have."
She frowned. "What are you talking about?"
He set down the tongs he was holding and turned to face her. "Last March you were in Chicago, and you went to Billy-Bob's. You and a bunch of other girls."
Kris looked confused, nodding. "It was Melinda's birthday, my sister. I was home on spring break, and she was turning 21. But..."
"Think about it." He watched her, looking intently at her, and he saw her eyes change when it hit her.
Her hand rose to cover her mouth, to hide her dismay, and her voice was a whisper. "That was you."
"That was me."
She started to turn away, but he caught her wrist. "Don't run off. Not again."
She shook her head, her eyes squeezed closed.
"I went after you, you know. But you were gone, and I didn't know which way you went."
He smiled wistfully. "You didn't recognize me, I could tell. My hair's shorter now. And you'd told me your name was Kristin, so when Brian talked about Kris I didn't even think... But the minute I saw you today, I knew."
She looked away. "I thought... I just figured you looked familiar because I see Brian's pictures, on his bookshelf there's one of the two of you... ohhh crap."
"You said that already." He realized he was still holding her wrist, and he let it go. "So what do we do now?"
"Nothing. It was one dance, a year ago, for pete's sake."
He snickered softly. "It was two dances, and one really incredible kiss."
"It was a mistake."
He shrugged and picked up the tongs, poking randomly at the coals. "You took off like a shot. I figured you had a boyfriend, or a fiance or something. But I also knew you couldn't have faked a kiss like that." He looked up at her again. "You felt it just like I did."
"No." She backed up slightly, her face reddening. She was lying, and he knew it. And she knew that he knew. They were still staring at each other when the door creaked and Brian stepped out.
"Hey, guys. Is ev- " He stopped in surprise when Kris turned and pushed past him into the house.
"I gotta go. I'll call you later."
"What? Krissy, wait!" He started to go after her, but instead he turned back to his brother, his face furious. "What did you say to her?"
Travis poked at the charcoal again while his mind raced for an answer. But Brian grabbed him by the arm and spun him around to face him, and the tongs went flying.
"WHAT DID YOU SAY TO HER?"
"Nothing!" Travis shouted back. "I mean, I said... aw, dammit, Brian!"
"Fix it." His brother's voice was cold. "I just might love her, and I'm not gonna let you mess it up."
"Fine. I'll fix it."
"How?" Travis gestured toward the house. "She's long gone by now."
Brian shook his head. "Wrong. She walked here. Out the front door, turn left. You're Mr. Track-and-field. Catch her."
Kris was halfway home, those stupid tears streaking her cheeks again. She'd blown it now for sure. Who knows what was going on back at Brian's? Travis was surely telling him the whole story, probably laughing as he explained why she'd run out like a scared little girl. Telling him she was the kind of girl who would make out with a perfect stranger, when nothing like that had ever happened to her before. She hadn't even known Brian then, not really. But of all the people in the world for her to have kissed, why did it have to be Travis? Why, God?
They'd all seen him looking at her that night, trying to look like he wasn't, and her friends teased her and pushed her to ask him to dance. But before she could get up the nerve, he was there doing the asking. And with all the encouraging eyes on her, she'd said yes. What could one dance hurt? They talked a little, speaking loudly to be heard over the music, and they seemed to click right away. He was cute, sure, but when the dance was over she was going to thank him and go back to the table and that would be it. Except when the fast song ended and a slower one began, somehow he'd taken her hand and kept her there, and before she realized it they were dancing again, close. He hadn't let go of her hand; in fact, he'd taken the other one too, and by the time the song was halfway over he'd wrapped her arms around his neck and had his lightly around her waist. And his eyes... they just kept... looking. Really looking, as if he could see deep inside her. So deep that she could feel it all the way to her toes. Before she could see it coming, he was kissing her, and it was a kiss like you'd see in the movies. A gentle, lingering, knee-buckling kiss. A kiss that made her heart pound with the rightness of it. And then the music stopped, she'd opened her eyes and he was there staring down at her, looking as shaken as she felt, and for a moment neither of them moved. The club, the crowd, the noise were all gone and there were only the two of them, and he reached for her again. Just then the next song started with a crash of drums, and she'd jerked herself away and took off. Like she was doing now. Running away. Like she'd done when she moved halfway across the country for college, like she'd done as a child when things got too intense. It was her best thing.
She didn't realize she'd stopped walking until she heard the footfalls behind her. She turned to see Travis, slowing his run to a walk, breathless and windblown. She thought about running herself, but she knew he would follow her and she knew she couldn't outrun him, so she braced herself and faced him. "What?" she demanded.
"I'm sorry, okay?" He came up to her and started to reach out, but stopped himself and rubbed the back of his neck instead. "I shouldn't have done that to you. You didn't remember, and I should've let it stay that way."
"Too late now."
"No kidding." He bent at the waist to catch his breath, then looked around them and pointed to a low stone wall at the corner. "Sit with me a minute?"
"No. I don't feel like sitting." She crossed her arms over her chest, realizing from his amused look that she was acting like a child, and let her arms fall to her side again with a resigned sigh. "Okay, fine." They walked to the wall and he pulled himself up, and she followed, careful to leave plenty of space between them. "Say what you want to say so I can get away from you."
"Jeez. No need to be rude."
Ashamed, she opened her mouth ready to fight back, but he sat there grinning at her, teasing, and the words disappeared and her mouth closed itself.
"I know," he conceded, dropping his head shamefully. "You thought I was rude first, and I probably deserve it. I just couldn't believe it when Brian moved out of the way... and it was you. My brain went numb for a minute, I think."
"That's completely stupid."
"Maybe it is." He kicked his feet against the wall a few times, then he met her gaze and shrugged helplessly. "I'll do whatever you want, Kristin. I'll go back to Chicago early if this is too wierd for you, or I'll stay away from you... or I'll just, I don't know, be your boyfriend's brother and we can get to know each other and maybe be friends. You tell me what you want me to do, and I'll do it."
Kris stared at the ground, thinking. It was tempting to tell him to go back to Chicago, to solve the problem so quickly and easily. But of course, it wouldn't solve it, not really. Brian had been so excited for her to meet his brother, and for his brother to meet her. And now he was probably back at home, alone, the big day gone to hell, confused or angry or... disappointed. Now, Travis was trying to smooth things out, and the ball was in her court. Her thoughts were all jumbled, especially with Travis so close beside her. She didn't even know him - how could he shake her up this way? She inched herself a little further away. "I don't know what I want."
"Then let's start with door number one." He turned his body toward her, and the space felt small again. "You want me to leave town?"
Kris hesitated, knowing what her answer had to be. "No. I don't want to let Brian down. He wants you here."
"But you don't, do you?"
"I want him to be happy. And he wants us to be friends." She looked up at him. "Do you think we can?"
Travis studied her face, and he wanted to say no. No way could he be friends with this girl, not when he was dying to touch her, to kiss her, to stay on this stupid wall for hours and just talk to her. He'd been so sure she'd felt the same insane attraction he did that night, but she was never going to admit it. And did it matter any more? He closed his eyes against the struggle in his head, then opened them with a sigh. "Sure. Why not? It's worth a shot, anyway. So we should go back and eat a burger, and try just talking like normal people for a change?"
She smiled. "I guess that'd be good start."
"Okay then." He rubbed his sweaty palms over his denim-covered thighs once or twice, then jumped down from the wall. He held out a hand to help her down and, to his pleasure, she took it and let him steady her landing. But then he found he couldn't let go, and their eyes met with something like an electric shock and held.
"Oh, hell," he breathed. "This isn't gonna work, is it?"
She couldn't look away either. "I don't think so."
He pulled her toward him with a groan and his mouth found hers, and it was like that first kiss all over again. When he finally let her go he stepped away quickly, running his hands through his hair as if he had to keep them busy so he wouldn't touch her again. "God, Kristin. I can't do this." He took several more steps away. "I dreamed about you after that night. And now here you are, I found you, and I can't..." Two more steps, and his eyes were anguished. "I'm sorry... I'll leave tomorrow."
"Don't." She hadn't known the word was coming, but there it was, out and hanging between them.
"I don't know why not. Just don't." Somehow her feet moved toward him, and in a heartbeat he was crushing her in his arms again, kissing her with more passion than she could ever remember feeling. And she was kissing him back, just as fiercely. The feelings she'd felt for the first time, the only time, back at Billy Bob's were flooding through her again. She pulled away from his kiss, and he grabbed her shoulders hard. "Don't run," he demanded breathlessly.
"I won't." She buried her face against his neck, feeling his heart pounding as he held her tight and stroked her hair.
"So, now what?" he asked finally.
"I break up with him." she said softly.
"He knows, you know." Her head jerked up in surprise, and he smiled down at her. "About my dream girl and our one fantasy kiss. I told him the day after it happened."
He shrugged. "It was important."
"He'll hate me."
"He'll hate both of us. But only at first." He reached out with one finger and stroked her cheek. "I don't suppose you've got a couch I can sleep on tonight? I may need a place to crash."
"How can you be so calm about this? This is your brother!"
"How do you know?"
He bent his head and kissed her again, a soft kiss of reassurance. "He told me to keep looking for her. And he said if I ever found her, don't let her get away again."
She stretched up for another kiss, not understanding how he affected her this way, only knowing that he did. "And?"
He smiled contentedly. "And, he was right. Never again."