.:.You Stole the Kiss Right Out of Me.:.

I cannot believe I'm doing this. Even more, I cannot believe I'm letting them make me do this. There has to be a law somewhere that states what the limits of best friends are. Because there was no way that they could just do this, just like that.

I mean, forcing me to miss soccer practice was one thing. That was fine, seeing as I'd make up for that over the weekend by spending all Saturday at the local park playing with my siblings. I didn't even mind when they'd forced me to skip practice to rifle through my clothes, decide nothing I owned was good enough, and took me to the mall to splurge on a cute outfit. That I was somewhat okay with, despite that I could not stand the shortness of the skirt they (once again) forced me to wear.

But when they arranged a date for me with the captain of the lacrosse team? Nuh uh, that was taking it too far. There were some things I would let my best friends get away with, but this one, I was willing to hold a grudge forever over.

I should have put my foot down. I never should have let them think their friendship could interfere with my life that much. By never saying no to them before, I had given them the strings to my life. They played me like a puppet. And I was always willing to let them.

But not this time. I could not just stand back and watch as they controlled my own life for me.

"I'm not going," I said resolutely, stomping my sandal-clad foot on my carpeted floor. I winced as the fabric of the shoe chaffed against my feet. I knew that feeling, having felt it so many times on the soccer field. There was no doubt in my mind that I'd have blisters to remember this night by.

"Ava," my friend Stacey said as she held up a mascara wand to my eye. I batted her hand away but it immediately came back, poised and ready to stab me in the eye if need be. "Be reasonable. When was the last time you went on a date?"

"Before God was born," I replied instantly, trying to dodge the wand she was aiming at my face. I watched as my two best friends gaped at each other in horror. On the defensive, I shrugged. "So, I've never dated before. Lots of girls never went on a date before. Mara Jenkens, for example."

"But she's a lesbian," Megan countered, packing my cell phone into one of her purses. As I had no purses, choosing instead to carry things around in my messenger bag, she was going to lend me one of hers. "So, she's dated girls. And that means she's dated. While you, dear, have not. Face it, you're gonna have to break out of your shell and choose a boy sometime."

"But Hunter Lars? He's captain of the lacrosse team! You know I hate those guys." I whined, slouching down on my bed. Stacey took this as an opportunity to finally put some more make-up on me. I didn't have the energy to deflect her attack anymore. She'd only come back with more determination. She was an art student, and right now, my face was her canvas and her make-up kit her palate. And once she started an art project, she would not be stopped until she finished. Therefore, my efforts equaled futile. "They always stare at the soccer team when we're warming up."

"Duh. They think you're hot," Megan rolled her eyes as though this was the most known thing since milk coming from cows. "Poor Ava. You're so oblivious when it comes to matters of the infrastructure of the male brain."

As if she were any more wiser than me. She'd only had, like, two boyfriends ever. But then again, that was two more than I'd ever had, so I guess she knew a little something about boys. Me? I knew they liked to play dirty. In sports, nothing else. I was strictly speaking sports.

Stacey was back, this time armed with a tube of lip gloss. "No. Nuh uh. No way, Stace," I declared, rising form my bed and backing away before she could strike. "I am not wearing anything on my lips."

"Why not?"

"Because then he'll think I want to...you know..." They both looked at each other with quizzical expressions and turned back to me. "Kiss him." I said this last part in a hushed voice, but did that stop them from throwing their heads back and laughing their asses off at me? No.

"Ave, dear, that's kinda the point," Megan wiped tears from her eyes.

"Stop it! I mean it, it's not funny!" I was tempted to hurl my soccer ball at them, but, unfortunately, it was in my duffel bag downstairs.

Stacey wrapped her arms around me. "Aw, Ava, kissing isn't anything to be scared of. And it's not like he has cooties. None that we know of anyway."

Yeah. I rest my case.

Crossing my arms, I pouted. "Seriously, guys. My first kiss is something to be cherished and remembered for all time. And I do not want to lose it to Hunter Lars!"

That only made them laugh more. Angry, I turned and left the room, taking Megan's borrowed purse with me. I'd leave them in there until Hunter came to pick me up. As I was leaving, I heard Stacey say to Megan, "Who ever knew that under all that dirt and the grass stains, Ava would be such a romantic at heart?"

I galloped down the staircase, the heavy thuds produced from my stomping expressing just how mad I was. It didn't help that when I reached the living room, Jared Ashby commented, "Whoa. Who let in the home-wrecker?"

That just about did me in. Luckily, this time my duffel bag was right next to the edge of the stairs. I leaned down and grabbed the soccer ball sitting on top of it, and then I unceremoniously threw it at Jared's head.

"Christ! Ava? Is that you?" He easily tapped the ball away from him, and it rolled across the floor. I grabbed it and then stalked over to the couch he was sitting on, glaring at him all the while. "Now, now, Ava. Don't be mad. I think you make a very nice whore."

If it were anyone else, I would've sent my two older brothers after him. But the Ashbys had been long time friends of my parents, and Jared and I had grown up side by side. We weren't close friends or anything, and none of our other friends hung in close circles. But we shared a common love for soccer, although Jared was too lazy to join the school's boys soccer team. And we also loved my mom's Boston cream pie.

That's probably why he was over here. Mom had called Mrs. Ashby to invite her over for some good old tea and pie time, but Mr. and Mrs. Ashby had to go visit some relative of theirs that had just given birth to a healthy baby girl. Jared, being the only child that he was, chose to visit in their stead and eat all the pie he could. Lucky him. He didn't have to miss pie night for a date with the lacrosse team captain.

"All dressed up and no place to go on this fine Friday night, Ave?" Jared asked, his hazel eyes taking in my too-dressy outfit. I tried not to flush, but that was impossible; I only thanked God that my skin was bronze enough from hours of soccer practice to hide the evidence of my embarrassment. Because when someone like Jared Ashby checks you out, you get embarrassed. But not because he's a dork and it's gross. It's because he's cute and he's never looked at you like that before and you get delicious chills down your spine.

Not because I like him or anything. I mean, he's Jared Ashby, close friend of the family. He'd known when I had my first period, courtesy of my mom telling his mom and his mom blabbing it out to everyone between here and Timbuktu. Yeah, thanks for that one, Jared's mom. I think the only thing he didn't know about me was that my favorite bra was the lacy polka-dotted one Stacey and Megan got me for my seventeenth birthday. But ask him what the size of that bra was? Yeah, he'd know it. And once again because of my mom telling his mom.

Mothers are the bane of my existence. At least where Jared Ashby was concerned.

Anyway, Jared has always been cute. With his floppy chestnut hair and pale skin, he was a classic case of the whole 'he's so hot, what girl couldn't resist him' stereotype. He even had a small amount of stubble along his chin and jawbone. And while stubble looked ridiculous on most guys in school, he could pull it off. I was also aware that he had some mighty fine abs on him; I had seen them plenty of times when he played soccer at the park with my brothers and me. Even if his looks weren't good enough for someone, his killer smile would win them over for sure.

It was rumored he was going to be voted Most Likely to be Famous because of Such Good Looks for our senior yearbook polls. Me? I was Most Likely to be Lesbian Athlete. Or I would be, if such a category existed. And if there was such a category, I'm sure Mara Jenkens wouldn't be voted for it. The most athletic I'd ever seen her was chugging down a bottle of Gatorade. So, that left me, the athletic dateless wonder. Or I would've been. Until my moronic friends had set me up on a date with Hunter Lars.

"No, Jared, I do have a place to go on this horrible Friday night," I mumbled back, being careful not to lay back on the couch and ruin the curls Stacey had put in my copper-colored hair. I looked at my the skinny silver watch on my left wrist. "In about twenty minutes, too, actually. He better not be late."

"Who?" He sounded generally perplexed. "And where are you going?"

"On a date. With Hunter Lars." Could I help it if I sounded bitter? Here, I was being presented the lacrosse team captain on a silver platter, and I was desperately trying to fight off puking from sheer animosity. I mean, the lacrosse team? Honestly. I had higher morals than that. What were Stacey and Megan thinking when they chose him?

"Hunter Lars?"

"Yep. Hunter Lars."

"Hunter Lars?"

"Yes, Hunter Lars!"

Jared looked disappointed. "You could've down better, Ave."

"I know." We sat in silence for a moment, staring at the blank tv screen across from our couch.I stared at my reflection in it, scrunching my eyebrows together. Why had I let them talk me into buying this skirt? The green tank top was nice, even if the floral pattern on it was kind of tourist-y. I could still use it when I played soccer on the weekends. But the skirt? It was denim and I do think highly of denim. But it was so low. People could see my legs! No one ever saw my legs. Even when I was on field, I was too fast for people to see my legs. But, look, there they were! Out in the open! Barely hidden by a skirt!

I felt exposed. And right next to Jared, on top of that.

God, this was embarrassing.

The doorbell rang. Great. Hunter Lars is here. I stood up, mentally preparing myself for the awkwardness of this all. Had I not expressed my disgust for the lacrosse team enough to my friends? Were they doing this just for kicks? I wanted this date to be over with already.

It rang again. Maybe if I stalled long enough, he'd go away. But then Stacey and Megan would just drag him back here. Or worse, drag me to him. Ick. Best to just get this over with and then never speak one more word to Hunter.

A warm hand on my wrist stopped me. And suddenly, I was being pulled back onto the couch, only this time I was in Jared Ashby's lap, and his mouth came over mine. Or maybe it was my mouth on top of his. Or--You know what? It doesn't matter.

Because Jared Ashby was kissing me!

And not in that fast paced way that I heard most guys kissed, as though the planet were going to be blown into pieces in two seconds and all of civilization as we knew it was going down. No, he was kissing me like he had all the time in the world, like the world was just beginning instead of ending, and all he had to do in life was just kiss me.

It was good. Really good. The tiny hairs on the back of my neck raised as he held my waist, keeping me in place on top of him. He moved his lips against mine, rubbing them softly and making them part on their own accord. And then he was nibbling on my bottom lip, almost making me go numb with the sensuousness of it all, but then massaging my lips back to life with his own. His breath was hot against mine, and he tasted like Boston cream pie, so I knew that he had already gotten a piece before I had.

That obnoxious doorbell was ringing again. It was enough for me to remember that I was, we were, in the middle of my living room, in an open space where anyone ranging from my friends to my brothers to my parents could walk in on us. And it hit me.

Jared Ashby had kissed me.

Jared Ashby had stolen my first kiss.


As quick as my soccer reflexes would allow me, I jumped off of Jared, grabbed the soccer ball from where I had dropped it, and threw it with all my might at his head. I took satisfaction from the yelp he gave out. And then I ran out of my house, where Hunter Lars was waiting to take me on my first date.

Let me say this one thing. Dates suck.

Okay, now that that is all cleared up, let me tell you how my first ever date went.

Dinner was Burger King. Grease and fat all rolled into one, enough to make me vomit even if I wasn't on a date with a boy who disgusted me. Hunter stole my fries. That was fine. I didn't want them anyway. Also, Hunter drank my Pepsi. That was not so fine, being as that was the only good thing in that horrible place.

The movie was cheesy. And it was even worse with Hunter wrapping his arm around my shoulders and trying to squeeze me any chance he got. Also, he ate my popcorn. And drank my Pepsi. Again.

Was it no Pepsi for Ava night, or what?

He wanted to go down to the lake, to "watch the stars". I almost told him to stick that idea up where the sun don't shine. Instead, I told him to take me home. He kept putting his meaty hand on my knee in the car any chance he got.

When he finally dropped me off at home, I let him walk me to the door. Surprisingly, he asked for a goodnight kiss. I was extremely reluctant at first, but then figured, hey, my first kiss has already been used up, so what's the problem?

I let him kiss me.

And it was horrible. There was saliva and tongue and he was moaning really loud and I felt sick. After finally pushing him off me, I told him we wouldn't be so good together and made him leave. He had asked why I thought that, asked why I stopped kissing him and didn't I think he was an excellent kisser?

And I explained that I did not like him that way, and that his kissing expertise was bad. It just wasn't as exciting as--

But I am so not going there.

At school the next week, Stacey and Megan rounded me up and demanded what had happened. They had called all weekend, but I, knowing they would want to hear details, would not even pick up the phone. Plus, Jared had come over for dinner Sunday night, and, not wanting to face him for fear my anger would overcome me again and I'd break his nose, I hid in my room.

After spilling all about the gory event, they looked guilty for a second about setting me up with someone. For a second.

"Well, that's okay," Megan said matter-of-factly. "Because you've got another date this Friday."

Expecting something like this from them, I did not get as upset as I did when I heard about about Hunter. The first words out of my mouth were, "I swear, if you guys set me up with another member of the lacrosse team, I will shoot you."

"Oh, don't worry. It's Kenny Moore from my painting class this time," Stacey waved my threat off easily, having become accustomed to them over the years.

"An art freak?" I asked, almost as horrified as I had been when I heard about Hunter. "But, we'll have nothing in common!"

"Opposites attract, Ava. Opposites attract." Megan said with a wink as they both walked down the hallway, laughing at my expense as they went.

I wanted to rip out my hair. Not another one! I knew I should've put my foot down the first time this happened! But being the weakling I am, I couldn't. I had let them walk over me for most of my life. That just wasn't going to stop anytime soon, and they knew it. Sometimes I really hated my best friends.

Well, at least Kenny was better than Hunter.

The week came and went in a blur, it seemed. Soon, it was Friday afternoon, and I was done with soccer practice. This time, I had at least managed to stop my friends from making me skip another practice. But that wouldn't stop them from coming over my house later and trying to force me into yet another miniskirt.

But before I could even reach my car, I found Jared waiting outside the girls' locker room once practice was over. He was leaning casually on the wall, whistling a soft tune to himself and nodding at the other girls on the team as they left. Once he saw me, he smirked and beckoned me over with a finger.

Dread filled me. I had managed to avoid him for a full week, even when his family showed up for dinner Wednesday night. I still had no idea how to act around him, nor did I have any clue as to how bring up the subject of that kiss. Not that I wanted to. I mean, awkward to the extreme. And I did not like awkward.

"So," he started after I walked over to him. He started to lead the way to the parking lot and I fell into step after him. "What's this I hear about you going on another date? And with Kenny Moore, no less."

We were in the hallway now. It was empty, as all the after school activities had ended earlier. Us soccer girls had stayed later than normal. We had our first scrimmage in two weeks, and coach wanted us to be prepared. We probably would have stayed late anyways because we were just as determined to win.

I shrugged. "It's all Stacey's and Megan's work. They really want me to start dating."

"That I can understand," Jared copied my own shrug. "But Kenny Moore?"

"Kenny Moore."

"Kenny Moore?"

"Yep. Kenny Moore."

Huh. Deja vu.

"Well, at least he's better than Hunter Lars."

My thoughts exactly.

"Still, you could do better than that, Ava."

"I kno--" but before the word had even left my mouth, Jared was pushing me against the row of lockers lining the walls and kissing me again. He pulled me flush against him, pinning me against the lockers as he deepened the kiss.

His hands wound up in my hair, and he didn't even seem to mind how tangled and windblown it had become after my rigorous soccer training. I know I enjoyed it, especially since it coaxed a soft moan from me. I could feel Jared's telltale smile against my lips, and that only made me kiss him harder. He responded eagerly, removing his hands from my hair to hold on to my waist and hold me closer to him.

And just as I wrapped my arms tightly around his neck, a door closed and I could hear coach snapping at us to get home already, and yeesh, teenagers these days. It was enough to make me push Jared away and run out of the school.

The date sucked. Kenny and I had nothing in common. His kiss was just as bad as Hunter's.

End of story.

The third time Stacey and Megan came up to me, I just knew by the glint in their eyes that they had found me another boy. Before they could say anything, I held up my hands to silence them and said, "Let me guess. Basketball star? Drama king? Student council president?"

Megan giggled and Stacey rolled her eyes. "Noooo," they said at the same time, dragging it out to prolong the suspense I was feeling. They looked at each other and burst out in giggles. When I finally snapped at them to get on with it, Megan waved her hands around and squealed, "Trent Westland!"

And I squealed back. Because, for the first time since they got it in their heads to set me up with every male on the face of the Earth, I was happy. Trent Westland was captain of the soccer team, and with his brooding good looks and smoldering dark eyes, he was the man of my dreams. He was Duke Morcino to my Viola Hastings. I was in love with Trent Westland!

And I had a date with him on Friday.

I loved my friends.

By the time Friday rolled around, I was an anxious ball of...anxiety. And it did not help that Jared was at my house once again. I was starting to get really annoyed with him. Did he have no life? Seriously. Did he have nothing better to do than stalk around my house every Friday night? Wasn't there some soccer game on he could watch? Granted, I would probably be watching the same game, provided I wasn't about to go on a date...

...with Trent Westland!

When Jared saw me impatiently waiting by the door, he raised an eyebrow and asked, "And who is it this time?"

"Trent Westland!" Squeal.

Jared look taken back for a second and then he frowned, "Trent Westland?"

"Yeah. Trent Westland." Wistful sigh.

His face suddenly turned into a scowl. "Trent Westland?"

"I know!" I jumped up, grabbing onto Jared's forearms as I did so.

He steadied me, probably because he realized I would fall over if he didn't do anything to prevent it. One I stopped bouncing around everywhere, I looked up at him to find he was glaring at me. Yes, that's right, he was glaring at me. Like I had killed his most precious goldfish or something.

"Really, Ava," he spoke quietly, all while looking intensely at me. I wanted to look away, I really did, but his gaze arrested mine and paralyzed me on the spot. "You could do better."

And then he leaned down and captured my lips once more. I didn't do anything to stop him. How could I when he was crushing me up against him, holding my arms to my side? And even if I was free to move around, there was no way I would have stopped him. Especially not when he was pressing his tongue against my lips, making them part to grant him entrance.

If anything, I wanted this kiss to last forever. Or at least until I got tired of it. Which I'm pretty sure would be never. It was just so good. It was better than soccer, and that's saying a ton, from a girl so in love with the sport as I am.

But then the doorbell rang, and I was reminded of a similar event only a couple of weeks ago where I had been in my living room, kissing Jared. He let me go and I took the chance to take a step back and just stare at him.

He gave me that wonderful smile of his and held my chin between his fingers. Grazing his lips smoothly, gently against mine, he said once again, "You could do better."

And then he went into the kitchen to go eat some more pie, and I had to leave for my date with Trent Westland.

When I returned home, I managed not to slam the front door shut, even though that was what I desperately desired to do. It was late, so the rest of the house was asleep. But I knew from the car in the drive way that he was still there. Mom had probably let him sleep over, just so he could go to the park the next morning with my brothers and me. She was always letting him do things like that.

He was sitting cross-legged on the couch, looking like he had nothing whatsoever to worry about. Oh, but he did. It was time for the strike of Hurricane Ava.

I picked up a throw pillow off the edge of the couch and whipped it at him. It hit my target point-blank, satisfying the burning anger I was feeling towards him at that moment.

"Ava!" Jared yelped, rubbing the spot where the side of the pillow had hit the underside of his jaw. "What is your problem?"

"You, Jared Ashby! You are my problem!" I picked up the pillow again and began hitting him with it over and over again. Man, that felt good. Die, Jared, die! Fear my pillow of doom and unholy anger. "You stole the kiss right out of me, you jerk!"

And then he laughed at me. He LAUGHED at me!

He obviously had not had enough pillow-beating.

Only, before I could begin beating him again, he pulled me down, laughing, to kiss me. But seeing what he was going for, I stopped him by covering his face with my hand and lightly pushing him away, tearing myself away from him as I did so. "No, no more kissing, Jared. I've had enough. I had the most incredible date with Trent tonight. But when it came to the kiss, it was horrible!"

I jabbed my index finger into his chest, just to make sure my point got across to him. "You wanna know why? Because whenever you kiss me, you steal my ability to think other kisses are good."

"Ava, you're not making any sense--"

"I am making perfect sense!" I hissed, careful not to increase my voice. "Why is it no once else can kiss me and make me feel hot and bothered? Why is is I never get that fluttering feeling in my gut or that rapid heart beat when someone other than you kisses me?"

I stopped talking to catch my breath, and that's when Jared pulled me back into his lap, just like that first night a couple of weeks before. He raised my hand to his lips and gave it a lingering kiss. I'd be lying if I said that that kiss had no effect on me at all. Because it did have an effect. It made shivers run up and down my arm in tantalizing tingles and made my breath catch in my throat. But nothing sent my heart racing as much as his next words did. "Maybe that's because you were meant to kiss me."

I got a good look into his hazel eyes then. And that's when I figured out, "Jared Ashby. You like me."

He nodded as his mouth spread into that killer smile, that one and only smile I had known for my entire life. God, how I loved that smile. Almost as much as I loved him, I suspected. No wonder it was only his kisses that made me feel so terrifyingly euphoric.


"Yes, me."



I wrapped my arms around his neck and leaned into, putting on thoughtful expression. I shrugged my shoulders and said, "I could have done better."

He scoffed and I laughed, pulling him towards me for another kiss. When we separated for air, Jared's smile was teasing. "So I make you hot and bothered?"

On Monday, Stacey and Megan were, in their own words, "dying to know what the the miraculous events of Friday night were". I told them everything about the date, right down to where the kiss had completely sucked. They looked disappointed but before I could tell them my good news, they became excited again.

"That's all right," Stacey declared, giving me a thumbs up.

"Yeah, we already have someone else picked out for this Friday," Megan winked at me.

And before I could explain anymore to them, Jared walked up to me, grabbed my hand and pulled me in for a long, slow, antagonizing kiss. When he let go of me, he turned to my two best friends.

"Sorry, girls. She's already got a hot date for this Friday."

Authoress's Notes: Man, I am on a roll this week, aren't I? Well, here's some random one-shot that just magically appeared in my head one day and I finally finished it! Yayness! Hope you all like it. I was thinking about writing one-shots for Stacey and Megan, too. What do you think?