Chapter 11

"Really? This is your idea of a good time?" Garrett was huffing and puffing, trying desperately to keep himself in an upright position.

"Why? Are you not having fun?" Melanie tossed her head over her shoulder and looked behind her into Garrett's eyes. She was bent over in front of him. "Is the view not to your liking?" she giggled.

Garrett's face turned red again, only this time not from exertion. "Um, that's not it." He turned away from Melanie's behind and repositioned his arms. "I just haven't played Twister in a while and it's kind of hard to do with only two people."

Melanie, feeling flirty and a little naughty, grinned back at him again. "Two people play Twister alone all the time. They're just usually naked when they do it."

Garrett lost his balance and fell over, looking sheepishly up at Mel. "You know just how to throw a guy, don't you?"

Melanie laughed and stood up straight, holding out a hand to him which he took. She pulled him to his feet. "What can I say? I like to win."

They held hands for a moment, staring straight into each other's eyes. Garrett pulled his hand away first and ran it through his hair. "Um, so now what? The movie can't be over yet"

Melanie turned away. She wasn't sure what to do. She wasn't even sure why she had forced him to come down to their old rec room and play Twister in the first place. To break the ice? To give him a chance to make a move? "I dunno. What do you want to do?"

Kiss you, Garrett thought instantly. Then a wave of guilt washed over him; Ryan would be mad if he knew what Garrett was thinking about his ex. So he settled for a shrug and a smile. "Your house, your rules."

Mel smiled softly at him and turned her attention back to the game cabinet. "Well, let's see what we've got."

Garrett felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. It had been doing it for the last few hours but he hadn't bothered to check because of work and then being with Mel. Since she seemed pretty engrossed in making a new game selection, he pulled it out and flipped it open. Two missed calls and about five text messages from Ryan. He hadn't left a voicemail, so it must not have been too important, but Garrett thought five texts seemed a little extreme, so he opened the first one.

Out with Erica. What do I do?

Erica? Mel's friend? Garrett thought to himself. What in the world?

The next one was a little less cryptic. Thought she hated me, but she actually is smiling.

The next one made Garrett laugh to himself. OMG, dude…I think she's flirting with me…

There was a gap in messages for about an hour and then two similar texts asking Garrett to call him as soon as he could. He looked up at Mel. "Hey, um, Ryan called me. Do you mind if I call him back really quick?"

Mel smiled. "Go ahead. I'm still debating between Battleship and Operation."

Garrett smiled and went into the small bathroom a few feet away. He dialed Ryan's number and waited for him to pick up.

"What the hell took you so long? I've been stalling for like an hour" Ryan sounded anxious and nervous.

"Stalling what?" Garrett was nervous. Maybe Erica had been toying with him to do something mean to Ryan.

"She wants me, man. Like really wants me. I'm in her bathroom, off her bedroom, in her house. And it's freaking me out because for so long she was such a bitch to me so I'm like scared it's a trap."

Garrett stifled laughter. "Um, do you really care if it's a trap?"

"Well, mini-me doesn't, I'll tell you that much. But it just feels so weird. I mean, she says she's only using me because she's lonely or whatever, but she's Mel's best friend. It just feels off."

"Look, I see no problems with you enjoying yourself. So what if it's a trap? It's not like it's going to hurt things between you and Mel; you're just friends now. And she does want you and Erica to get along. Maybe just go with it."

Ryan did some deep breathing on the other end of the line. After a few minutes, he responded, "Yeah, you're right. I mean, she's making it pretty clear that she doesn't want a relationship or anything. So, no big deal. Okay. Yeah. I can do this. Thanks, bro."

The line went dead and Garrett took a minute to get himself together. He left the bathroom and returned to the rec room where Melanie had The Game of Life already set up.

"What happened to Battleship and Operation?" he said, smiling as he took a seat on the floor across from her.

Mel wrinkled her nose. "Battleship was missing some pieces and Operation needs batteries. This one was right on top and I know it has everything because my dad likes to play it on Sundays when the whole family's here."

Garrett accepted the car she held out to him. "Hey, blue's my favorite color."

Mel flushed. "Yeah, I know. That's why I saved it for you. Usually, I'm the blue car. It pisses my brothers off to no end." She cleared her throat. "So, is everything okay with Ryan?"

Garrett laughed. "More than okay. He and Erica are hanging out."

Mel's mouth dropped open. "My Erica?" Garrett nodded at her and she sighed. She was silent a few moments. "You know, that makes a lot of sense actually. She didn't talk to me for like a week when I first started dating Ryan. I thought she was mad because she thought he was stupid or something, but she must have liked him all along and was just upset with me for dating him." Mel smiled up at him. "Strange how things work out, huh?"

Garrett's heart sped up in his chest. Every time the girl turned her smile on full blast he almost toppled over. Did she have any idea what kind of power she had over him?

"Mel, can I ask you something?" Garrett started fidgeting, moving his legs, picking at lent on his shirt, anything to avoid looking up at her.

"You can ask me anything, Garr Bear," her voice was soft and full of affection.

"Would it be inappropriate if I…" he looked up at her and his voice trailed off. She looked so beautiful, sitting there with her hair falling around her face, her eyes wide open in expectation, and her lips a little glossy from the chapstick she'd been applying earlier.

"If you what, Garrett?" Melanie pressed softly, leaning a little bit further onto the table in front of them.

Garrett swallowed hard, then gathered his courage. It was now or never. "If I kissed you?"

Melanie's smile widened. "It's about time."

Garrett stopped short for a minute than laughed out loud. "That's a yes, right?"

"That's a heck yes."

Garrett got on his knees and leaned across the table, meeting Mel at about the halfway point. He placed his hands on either side of her face and leaned in slowly, letting his lips softly brush hers. Her response was instant and she kissed him back just as softly as he kissed her. He was reminded of the time when Ryan had shared that he'd kissed Mel for the first time: She's a great kisser; it's like she knows what you want and she gives it to you. I think every guy she'll ever kiss will fall head over heels for her…

Garrett pulled back first and looked down at her face. Melanie's eyes were still partially closed and her lips were still parted. He smiled softly at her and rubbed his thumb across her cheek. "I've been wanting to do that for a while," he murmured huskily.

Melanie's eyes fluttered open lazily and she grinned up at him sweetly. "Why didn't you?"

"You know why." He removed his hands and slid on his knees over to her. "I didn't want to upset Ryan."

Melanie folded herself into his arms. "I know. Me neither. You can't help who you fall for, though."

Garrett nodded and lowered his head onto hers. "We'll work it out. I mean, if you'll have me. I know you've got a bunch of guys fawning all over you, but I'd-"

Mel placed a finger over his lips and looked up at him. "Shh. I want you." And she was sure of it. Now if she could only find a way to tell Caleb.