After a few more kisses the breeze off the water turned chilly and I began to feel a little self-conscious about making out in public. Kelly reminded me about my Microbiology midterm tomorrow so we regretfully packed the blanket and the remainder of the cookies in the backpack and headed back toward home.
Once we hit the walking path, Kelly reached out to grab my hand. It felt so natural and right, I stopped short, pulling him in for another kiss. My hands combed through his hair, which the lake breeze had tossed into soft curls. On tiptoes, I pressed my lips to his and felt his arms circle around me, one hand to the small of my back, and the other sliding up between my shoulder blades, pressing me closer. When we broke apart, breathing heavily and arms still wrapped tightly around each other, I felt such a feeling of euphoria that I couldn't help the joyful giggle that bubbled up my throat.
Kelly leaned back so he could look me in the eyes. "Something funny?" He asked dryly.
"No," I shook my head, "I'm just really happy."
Kelly's eyes darkened with an intensity I've never seen before and he pulled me closer still for another kiss that was so passionate it made my toes curl. One hand was buried in my hair, and the other was pressing against my back, crushing me against his chest. When the kiss ended, I wasn't ready to pull away from him, and it seemed that Kelly felt the same, as we stood, frozen in place, foreheads pressed together, lips almost close enough to touch.
"Wow," Kelly breathed after a few moments.
"Yeah, wow" I murmured.
"This was a really good idea," he said, "even if it did take us way too long to get here." His voice was husky.
I nodded, my forehead still pressed against his, not trusting myself to speak.
Kelly stooped to pick up the backpack he'd dropped and once again grabbed my hand. Together, we crossed Lakeview Drive and started walking up University Avenue. Five blocks later Kelly darted into his house to retrieve my backpack and we continued down the street.
Our pace slowed as we drew nearer to my house. "So…" he began, when we reached my front step. I looked down at my sandaled feet, suddenly feeling shy. I felt his hand on my cheek, gently turning my face up to his. I felt his soft lips lightly brush mine and heat immediately blossomed in my chest. My hands raised of their own accord to grab onto the front of his shirt, pulling him closer. The kiss deepened, but ended too soon. Kelly pulled me closer for a hug and I felt him kiss the top of my head.
"I'll call you tomorrow morning before work, OK?" He murmured against my hair.
"So you're not coming in?" I said, not able to keep the disappointment out of my voice. "You can come in if you want."
"I'd love to come in, but I don't think I'd ever leave. Besides, I've got work and you've got a midterm." He was making sense, and it was probably for the best that we each had a little space to process this new arrangement. Kelly handed me my backpack and squeezed my hand as he stepped away, waiting until I had opened my front door before heading back down the street toward home.
Bright early-morning sunlight streamed through the gauzy curtains on my windows. My sleep had been deep and dreamless and I stared up at the ceiling trying to recall what day it was. Moments later, I shot up in bed, remembering everything; the study session cut short, the walk to the waterfront, sitting under the maple tree, and the kiss. The kisses and cuddles and fireworks that curled my toes. Kelly and I are…what are we? I wondered. I touched the tips of my fingers to my lips; still swollen from his kisses and aching for more. Whatever we were, I definitely wanted more of it.
My thoughts were interrupted by the chirping of my cell phone, stuffed into one of the pockets of my backpack. I jumped out of bed to find and answer the phone before it went to voicemail.
"Hi," I recognized Kelly's voice and my heart skipped a beat. "Did I wake you up?"
"No," I started, heading back under the covers of my bed. "I was lying awake and thinking about this hot date I had last night."
"Hmmm," Kelly murmured, "I had a hot date last night too."
"Where are you," I asked, "Have you left for work yet?" My bedside clock displayed 7:42.
"Yeah, I'm in line at the coffee shop – it's my turn to buy. Oh, hang on, I'm up." I waited patiently, listening as Kelly ordered coffees for himself and his coworkers. "So…" he was back on the line. "Can I see you tonight? After your exam?"
My heart flipped over and I struggled to keep my voice even. "Sure, yeah," I started, and then gave up trying to play it cool. "I'd really love that." I finished.
I could hear the relief and the smile in his voice. "OK, how about dinner? I'll pick you up at your house around six and we'll walk downtown."
"OK, that sounds great." I was already looking forward to it. "Have a good day at work."
"Study hard. You've got to get into a good graduate school and become a mad scientist and discover the cure for cancer…or multiple sclerosis."
"…or concussions." I added.
After we said goodbye I lay in bed a little longer, starting up at the ceiling thinking about last night. I had been totally shocked when Kelly had admitted that he wanted to kiss me, though I don't know why. I had been thinking the same thing.
Purposefully I threw the covers off me and jumped out of bed, heading downstairs after a quick trip to the bathroom. I wondered absently if any of my housemates were up already. Usually everyone slept in until they absolutely had to get up.
I wandered into the kitchen to find Melanie sitting at the table sipping from a coffee mug. She was dressed for work at the lab, reading a thick typed document with a highlighter in hand. She looked up when I entered.
"Hey Gabs, you're up early." She said absently, turning back to the document.
"Yeah, I feel too wired to sleep," I said as I poured myself a cup of coffee from the pot, adding a bit of milk from the fridge. When I sat down across Melanie I was startled to see her bright green eyes staring at me.
"Mmm hmm," she murmured knowingly, eyebrows raised. "Spill." She shut the document and clicked the highlighter lid closed definitively.
I feigned innocence. "Spill what?" But I couldn't keep the smile off my face. And I was no match for Melanie's experience interviewing research subjects. She knew when anyone had something to hide. Piercing me with a stern glare, she resolutely crossed her arms across her chest. And waited.
"Ugh, Ok!" I laughed. "So Kelly and I…" I realized I still didn't have an answer for what Kelly and I were. Did we need to be something? Was he my boyfriend? I shook my head – I absolutely despised that word. Would it still be OK to just continue to call him my best friend? I finally decided to forego giving him a label. "Kelly and I kissed last night." I said simply. I felt my cheeks straining from my huge grin.
"Oh, Gabs!" Melanie squealed, clapping her hands together, ignoring my pleas to keep the volume down. She jumped up from her chair and ran around the table to capture me in a big hug. "Tell me everything!" She demanded, stopping to refill her coffee mug on the way back to her chair. Apparently she was hoping for the long version of the story.
I sighed. It was practically impossible not to get caught up in Melanie's enthusiasm. She vibrated at a higher frequency that anyone else I knew, and she had the uncanny ability to lighten the mood of a room just by entering it.
Where to begin? "Well," I started, "we walked down to the lake, we talked, we kissed." I knew I was teasing Melanie by keeping it so succinct. I braced myself for the myriad of questions that were sure to come.
"Oh Gabs, I'm so happy that you're with Kelly. You like him, he likes you, that's how it's meant to be…" she said dreamily, chin in her hand. "Those lips…I'll bet he's a good kisser."
"Well, yeah, he is actually…" I replied.
"And that messy hair you just want to run your hands through it…" Melanie's eyes were starting to look a little glazed.
"Uh, I think I did that too…" I was confused – did Melanie have a thing for Kelly?
"You just want to rip that nerdy t-shirt off and throw him down on the floor…"
"Melanie!" I yelled, incredulous, "That's my boyfriend you're talking about!"
Melanie snapped to attention, nose wrinkling in confusion, then eyes wide as she realized what I'd said. "No, no, no, Gabs," she said, reaching across the table to pat me on the arm. "I wasn't talking about Kelly, I was…" she sighed, head hung in defeat. "I was talking about this stupid idiot jerk that I work with."
I was shocked. Melanie having guy trouble? Guys flocked to Melanie like moths to a flame. Most of her energy was spent rejecting their advances. "Ok," I planted my chin in my hand, attempting to replicate Melanie's trademark glare. "Your turn to spill."
"Oh Gabby! It's just this grad student I work with at the lab. He's so brilliant! But he totally doesn't know I even exist…well, he knows who I am because we work together…but he's like, the absentminded professor and I just want to rip those glasses off and grab him and …ugh!" She buried her head into her arms and continued ranting. "…and I just hate him because there's no way he's ever going to look at me, and I can't help lusting over him," She raised her head from her arms, mouth twisted in a look of defeat. "So I lust him and I hate him…I lust-hate him."
I was at a loss for words. If Melanie was having difficulty getting a guy to notice her, what was the world coming to? "Uh, maybe he's gay?" I suggested, but Melanie shook her head.
"No, he can't be. He doesn't have that cool alternative-sexual-orientation-thing going on." She straightened up, pasting a wry smile on her face. "Gabs, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to just hurl this on you. I'll work it out. I just need to get him out of my system." She began packing up her papers, getting ready to head to the lab. "I'm going to be late for work…not that Mr. Oblivious will notice."
She stood up, hefting the strap of her messenger bag over her shoulder and headed for the door, pausing just before she was through the threshold, shooting her dazzling smile my way. "I'm really happy about you and your boyfriend."
So that's the end of Gabby and Kelly's story, I hope you liked it. I'm working on a story about Melanie right now, and I'm just rounding the corner on the fourth chapter. I'm finding her lots of fun to write (she speaks in italics a lot), so hopefully she'll be lots of fun to read too. I expect to start putting Melanie's story up (for now, tentatively titled Someone Like You) in a few days.