This was it.
I was finally going to do it.
The moment I had waited for my entire life had arrived (Okay, maybe not my entire life, but you get the point).
Tonight I was finally going to kiss Devon Stiener, and there was absolutely nothing standing in my way. I had been madly in love with my geeky lab partner for nearly the entire year, and I'd finally decided something needed to be done. Drastic action had to be taken.
I had carefully constructed this party so that he would be an eligible guest (even though everyone else knew he was off-limits), and had even invited a few of his friends so that he wouldn't feel out of place. For the kiss to happen, he actually had to be at the party, after all, so I'd covered all my bases. He had his friends, I had mine, and I'd made sure to supply his favorite chips (black pepper and sea salt… don't ask) and soda. For some reason, he didn't like fizz, so I'd purchased an extra orange soda that I'd let sit out all night so that it would be all syrupy and decarbonated by the time he arrived.
And if you're wondering how I know all of that, don't ask. I have my stalkerish tendencies, but let me tell you, Devon Stiener is an open book. I didn't even have to stoop to spying on him at lunch. He ate his chips and drank his soda during class every day, so all I had to do was casually glance over at the labels. That can hardly be considered stalking, right? I had to work a little harder to find how who his best friends were, but the science geeks kind of lump themselves together – it hadn't been very difficult.
That first day of chemistry, we'd had to mix a bunch of chemicals I'd never heard of before. I couldn't pronounce half the names, but Mr. Sims, our teacher, promised none of them were dangerous. I wasn't sure I believed him, because I got some on me at one point, and could've sworn it had burned a hole through my sweater. Devon had assured me that the hole had been present before we'd begun mixing the supposedly harmless chemicals, and the fact that he'd even noticed was enough to distract me for the rest of the hour.
I'm not really sure what it was that drew me to Devon in the first place. The rolling backpack was a major no-no for anyone with any social standing, and I'd tried to replace it on more than one occasion. I'd "accidentally" spilled acid on it during class once, but Devon had gotten more excited about the acid's capability to melt fabric than he was upset over it ruining his backpack. The next day he'd come back with the hole amateurly repaired, and I hadn't tried that again. I had, however, left him anonymous Jansport backpacks at intervals throughout the year, but to this day, I have yet to see him use one. He really likes his rolling backpack, and I've just come to accept that as one of his odd, yet adorable nerdy traits.
It hadn't taken long for my tiny nerd-crush to turn into a full-blown infatuation. The kid was thin as a rail, and needed some serious fashion advice, but you couldn't help but like him. Devon had this way of making you laugh, even if you had no idea what was supposed to be so funny. He listened to horrible music, and had this obsession with mint gum (rumor has it, he chews three packs a day) that I found rather odd, but he was probably one of the nicest guys I'd ever met. He was one of those guys who would hold the door open for you, or offer to carry your books for no reason. His mom still packed his lunch, and he always offered me his extra brownie, which I had never once turned down, even though I was allergic to chocolate. I had them all stashed in my locker, and even though I couldn't eat them, I smiled every time I glanced up at that tiny shelf.
Angela, my best friend, loved to make fun of me for obsessing over someone as adorably geeky as Devon, but I just couldn't help it. Hadn't she learned anything from all those cheesy romance movies she made me watch? You can't choose who you fall in love with. She was dating our school's basketball star, and I was in love with my lab partner. Big deal.
"As captain of the cheerleading squad," she liked to remind me, "you're supposed to be dating jocks. So unless you plan on giving your nerd lover a major makeover..."
But I would never consider it. In khaki pants, a red button-up shirt, polished leather shoes and thick black glasses, Devon Stiener came complete with that rolling backpack and enough knowledge to fill an encyclopedia. I think every girl has had her crazy nerd crush, and I was in the midst of mine. If Devon wanted to wear dress pants and silk shirts every day, I wasn't going to stop him.
"It's all part of his charm," I'd tell Angela. She'd roll her eyes and laugh, but it would shut her up for a few days.
I guess I was supposed to be dating the captain of our football team, considering I was our head cheerleader. Brad had asked me out on numerous occasions (though I think Angela had something to do with that), and I'd turned him down every time. Muscles and shoulder pads just didn't do it for me. After three years on the squad, I was still single and pining after my geeky lab partner. Don't ask me how or why, because I couldn't tell you. All I know is that the way he mixes dangerous chemicals really turns me on.
As I glanced around my basement, which was quickly filling up with teenagers in skimpy clothes, my eyes immediately found my target. Devon was sitting on the couch, hands folded neatly in his lap, discussing the new bunsen burners the school had purchased. I couldn't help but smile as I listened in. He had a cup of de-fizzed soda on the coffee table in front of him, and I patted myself on the back when I saw he'd also snagged the bowl of black pepper and sea salt chips. It was just as well, since nobody else seemed interested in eating them.
It was lucky I was the one hosting the party, because it gave me an excuse to wander over and say hello. Smiling cheerfully, I dropped down onto the couch opposite Devon and his friends.
"Hey, guys! Having fun?"
They all nodded happily, munching on the precious chips they'd procured, or sipping juice from plastic cups.
"This is really nice, Ashley. Thanks for inviting us," Devon replied, grinning.
"Oh, no problem. We're going to start playing games soon. Are you guys in?"
The girl on Devon's right shook her head, and one of the other boys graciously bowed out, but Devon shrugged and stood up.
"Sure, why not. What kind of games?"
Oh, if only you knew. "Apples to Apples, Twister… maybe spin the bottle."
I heard Devon giggle beside me, and nearly had a heart attack.
"Really? I've never played spin the bottle."
"Well, you will tonight," I assured him, though I knew that game wasn't on the agenda. Seven Minutes in Heaven was, though, and I had it rigged so that Devon and I would be alone in that closet. I was such a genius.
After two rounds of Apples to Apples, which Devon surprisingly won, Angela and I glanced at each other and nodded briefly. It was time to put my plan into action.
"Okay, everybody," Angela called, standing up and raising her hands, demanding everyone's attention. "New game. Who's up for a round of Seven Minutes in Heaven?"
Devon leaned over and whispered in my ear, "What's that?"
But Angela was already holding up the big bowl of names we'd filled out earlier. I knew for a fact that every single sheet in there either had my name or Devon's on it, and I was trying to hide my smug smile.
"Ashley and Devon, you guys are first," Angela announced, pointing at the two of us.
Devon looked confused, but he followed me up the stairs and into the hall closet. It was dark, so I couldn't see his face, but he sounded nervous when he finally spoke.
"So, uh… what, exactly, are we supposed to be doing?"
I couldn't help but smile at his naivety. "You never played this game when you were younger?" I asked.
"Nope. I played solitaire, mostly."
Oh my gosh, he was too adorable for words.
"Okay, well, here's how the game works. You draw two people's names out of a bowl, or a hat, or whatever. If it's two guys, or two girls, they have to go into the closet and exchange a secret. If it's a guy and a girl, they're supposed to kiss… or something," I finished lamely. Now that we were actually in the closet, my idea didn't seem so brilliant. What if he didn't want to? What if I'd made a horrible mistake, and he was gay?
"Oh, is that all?" came Devon's voice from somewhere very close by.
Is that all? What's that supposed to mean?
"If you wanted me to kiss you, you didn't have to go through all this trouble," he added mischievously.
"I didn't," I protested, maybe a bit too quickly. "It's a random drawing-"
"And only our names were in the bowl. You should've chosen a container that wasn't see-through," he laughed.
I made a mental note to punch Angela in the face when the night was over.
"It's probably a good thing you can't see me right now," I finally said. "I don't think I've ever been so embarrassed."
I felt humiliated, having my plan backfire on me, but the fact that Devon was still laughing made me feel a little bit better. At least he hadn't tried to run out on me yet.
"So," he said after a while, "what now?"
"I don't know," I said, a little breathless. I knew what I wanted to happen, but I couldn't read Devon. Not in the dark, not when he was taking this all so lightly.
"Do you have anywhere I could put my gum?" he asked casually.
I couldn't help but laugh. The tension in my shoulders slowly faded, and I reached into my pocket for a napkin, or a piece of paper to hand to him. I wasn't surprised when I pulled out a slip of paper with his name on it; the light coming from beneath the door was just enough to illuminate the object in my hands. Silently, I handed it over.
Devon got rid of his gum, and shoved the wadded up paper into his own pocket before I felt his cool, minty breath on my cheek. My skin tingled, and I froze. I'd been waiting for this moment for so long that I wasn't sure what I was expecting.
But when I felt two lips gently caressing mine, I wasn't disappointed. I'd been afraid Devon would have no idea what he was doing, but my nerdy crush was definitely more experienced that I'd given him credit for.
When we came up for air, I heard him chuckle. "How'd I do?"
I grinned. "Divine."