Taylor is frowning at me. I cringe lower into the couch cushions, wishing they would swallow me whole. I’m not even sure how the subject came up. One minute we were settling in for another Netflix binge, giant bowl of caramel corn balanced between us, and the next…
“You’re telling me you’ve never been kissed.”
“Please just drop it, Taylor.”
I clench my jaw and turn up the volume, pointedly stuffing a handful of caramel corn in my mouth to stop myself from blurting out anything else. My cat, a fat old tabby named Eugene, swipes valiantly at the food, but I shoulder check him out of the way. I just know Taylor is not about to let this go.
“I don’t believe you,” he snorts. “Pretty girl like you? I bet you’ve got guys lined up around the block.”
“You know I don’t. We’ve been friends forever. You know I’ve never dated anyone.” Lonely and Desperate, table for one…or is that two? Just pull up a chair for Pathetic, and we’ve got ourselves a party.
“That’s not the same thing.” Taylor’s blue eyes are twinkling, his lips curled up in a teasing smirk. “What are you, twenty-five now? It’s not mathematically possible.”
I cringe. He’s really having fun with this. “Well, when you say it like that…”
The smirk slips from his face when he realizes I’m serious. “No, I didn’t mean it that way. It’s just…never? Really?”
“Just forget about it, Taylor. Please.”
I start to push off the couch, but he grabs my hand, stopping me. “Wait.”
“Let me go. You’ve had your fun.”
“Lizzy.” I can hear the apology in his tone. Taylor gently tugs on my hand, and I allow myself to be pulled back down onto the couch next to him. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for it to come out like that.”
“It’s just a little embarrassing, you know?” I shrug. “I never should’ve said anything.”
“I’m glad you did, and I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have made fun like that, I just…never would’ve guessed.”
“It’s not something people typically put in their Instagram bios.”
“Yeah, I can imagine,” Taylor chuckles. “Still, I’m sorry.”
“You’re forgiven.” I snuggle down onto the couch next to him, pointedly pulling the bowl into my lap and away from my plotting tabby with a scowl that I can’t seem to hold onto. I never could stay mad at Taylor.
He leans over and plucks a kernel from the bowl, and my eyes can’t help but follow its path up to his lips as he pops it into his mouth with a crunch. “So, are you just waiting around for the right guy, or…”
I wrench my gaze from his face, even though he tries to hold it. “At first. I guess I wanted it to be special, you know? But now it’s more like waiting around for any guy. And I’m terrified that when it does happen, I’ll be awful at it.” The words are tumbling out faster now, and it feels like a relief to finally be talking about it. “Sometimes I wonder if it would be better if I just had someone I could practice with.”
Taylor is still staring at me.
I feel my face heat. “What?”
“What about me? You could practice with me. If you want, that is.” He swallows thickly, nervously…nervously?
“You don’t have to,” he says quickly. “I just— we already know each other, so it’s not like you’d be kissing a total stranger. Thought it, um, might make it easier for you.”
“You’d do that for me? Really?”
“Any man should count himself lucky to get a kiss from you. They’re an idiot if they don’t,” Taylor says. “Besides, you know I’d do anything for you.”
The butterflies in my stomach are in full flight. Just the thought of kissing him leaves me dizzy. Taylor is my roommate, my friend, but…I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a crush on him. A not-so-small, potentially dangerous crush.
Would it be a mistake to kiss him? Would it make things weird?
I blurt out my answer before I have a chance to change my mind. “Okay. I’ll do it.”
“Yeah.” I sit ramrod straight on the couch, nerves thrumming.
“It looks like you’re about to face down the guillotine. Doesn’t exactly instill me with a lot of confidence, Lizzy. C’mere.” He pulls me a little closer, rubbing his hands up and down my arms. “You’re practically vibrating. Just relax.”
Taylor waits while I take a few calming breaths. His eyes never leave mine, giving me that soft, reassuring smile of his. Hands cradle my face. They’re warm.
“Close your eyes,” he whispers.
I do. I feel the heat of him first, the way his breath brushes my skin as his thumbs sweep across my cheekbones. Taylor leans towards me and I do too, the initial touch of his lips sending an electric thrill down my spine. The barest of caresses, a brush of butterfly wings. They’re softer than I imagined. I melt into his embrace, and I feel him softly hum against my lips before he tilts his head—
And yelps into my ear.
Caramel corn flies as Eugene overbalances and lands in Taylor’s lap, upsetting the bowl and landing with claws bared. I don’t know who’s screeching louder—Taylor or the cat. Taylor somehow manages to dislodge Eugene from his thighs, and the tabby goes skidding around the corner, tail fat.
“I must be out of practice.” Taylor rubs at his legs. “As first kisses go, that wasn’t my best.”
“I hope not. You screeched in my ear.”
He blushes at this, but then his gaze drops to my lips, and I think I might not be the only one harboring a secret crush.
“I just have one question, Taylor,” I say.
“Can we try it again?”
Taylor smiles crookedly, and I lean in to kiss him.
When she’s not writing, you can usually find her working on a home remodeling project or planning charcuterie parties with her sister. A Wisconsin native (hence all the cheese), Kacey currently lives in Virginia with her family. She is working on her first novel.
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