Kiss and Not Tell
I pull into the driveway of my house only to see an extra car. I point towards it, questioning. “How many damn cars did you purchase today? Does mom need to take away your debit card again?”
I remember the last time my dad went on a shopping spree and it was not pretty. Sure, the guy’s loaded, but it’s dangerous leaving that man alone with a debit card and a laptop. He’d buy empires and entire companies if left alone long enough. I shudder just thinking about the possibility.
My dad just shakes his head. “That is offensive on so many levels. I am perfectly capable of having self-control, thank you. And as for the extra car, you’ll see.”
The car in our driveway actually looks kinda familiar, but I can’t place where I’ve seen it before. I squint my eyes, trying to get a closer look at the car. Oh, yeah. I’ve definitely seen that sleek car design more than once in my life. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, it belongs to one of my favorite family members.
My eyes widen at the thought of my assumption being correct. “Is it really him?”
My dad gives an all-knowing smirk, lifting his eyebrows at me and gestures towards the front door. I bolt out of the seat as quickly as possible and burst through the door. “Mom?”
Two strong arms bind around my waist and lift me off the ground. I let out a strangled gurgle as the sturdy floor beneath me leaves my feet. Yep, it’s definitely him!
“Happy birthday, Andi!” The familiar rumble of my Uncle Ryan’s voice vibrates from behind me. I twirl around in his arms completely shocked and happy to see him. It’s been forever since he’s visited our house and I missed him so much. My family is smaller than normal ones, lacking grandparents and aunts and uncles. That detail in my life made me cherish the ones who are still with me, no matter how few there are.
I squeeze his form, afraid to let go in fear that he might disappear or say that he can’t stay that long. Naturally, his arms circle around me, squeezing me just as tight. Although he’s known to be mostly distant and the least affectionate person in our entire family, that’s never the case with me. For some reason, when I came along, something changed in him that he only reserves for me. We’ve created this bond that brings out the warmest parts of him, and I love to see his smile. It sometimes feels as if he feels I’m like his daughter and treats me just so. He cares about me and is always up for any conversation no matter the topic.
“What are you doing here?! I thought you were caught up in business!”
“What? Can’t a guy visit his niece on her birthday?”
“I mean yeah, but I didn’t think I was that important. If I were you, I’d rather be traveling than seeing some string bean like me.” I am totally joking about all of this. Family is very important to me and I know just how much they love me. But I also wouldn’t be me without just a hint of dramatics. It’s my number one act and always gets a standing ovation, after all.
My mother comes to kiss me on the cheek. “You are so dramatic! You know very well that, that is not true! Andi, you’re the most precious thing in all our lives, I think.”
They all nod in agreement.
“I dunno, Rose. It would be nice to finally get the tv all to myself.”
“I’m kidding! I wouldn’t trade you for the world.”
“Besides, someone has to make sure you stay out of trouble.” Uncle Ryan ruffles my hair playfully.
“Trouble should be afraid of me. I’m the Queen of Mischief.” I toss my hair over my shoulder, shooting my parents and uncle a devilish look.
“Other than bringing myself and my charming personality, I come bearing gifts as well.” I notice the multiple bags hanging in Uncle Ryan’s hands and dangling from his fingertips.
“Guys seriously? You know I don’t want to make a big deal about this.” Again, this is my downplaying the fact that I want it to be a big deal. Of course, I have to make it seem like I want the opposite so that they’ll actually do what I want them to.
Reverse psychology, people!
“Tough luck, kid. We’re your family, and you’re just going to have to deal with it.”
Uncle Ryan leans over to whisper in my ear, cutting my dad off mid-speech. “I know what game you’re playing, Commander. It won’t work. We know your battle strategies.”
“You may know my plans, Sergeant, but you forget one thing.”
“And what’s that?”
“My father is a sucker for mind games!”
“Um, excuse me, Gossip Girls?! Are we done with the chit chat?” I can’t help but laugh at the frustrated look gracing my dad’s face. I nod my head and try to keep my laugh at bay with my hand over my mouth. “Fantastic. Now, I know you have plans with your friends tonight, but we were hoping her Majesty would grace us with her presence tonight for celebratory shakes afterward at Icy’s.”
“Oh, I don’t know. My itinerary is full as it is,” I say in a British accent while pretending to check my nails. I tap my finger on my lip, scrolling through my imaginary schedule in my mind. “Ah, well. I suppose I could squeeze you in. I guess I’ll have to reschedule dinner with the prince and move brunch with the Duchess to next Tuesday.” My family chuckles at my response, shaking their heads at my splendid performance.
If only my parents didn’t crush my dreams so early, I would’ve made a wonderful actress. I guess Hollywood will have to manage without me, although it most definitely will be a struggle.
My mother comes to my side and gently pulls on my arm. “Let’s go see what you’re going to wear tonight! Hopefully, there will be some cute boys at this party.”
She wiggles her eyebrows and I giggle while following her up the stairs.
I hear my dad yell as we run up the stairs. “Excuse me, but I think the hell not! Over my dead body!”
“We are not through having this conversation, young lady! TBT! To be continued!” Oh, my God. He did not just say that. Yikes, why is my dad so old? It’s like he was created to embarrass me!
I roll my eyes, pushing the door to my room open. My mom lets out a gasp as she takes in my room. “Holy crap, Andi! Did a hurricane blow through here?!”
I chuckled nervously. “Maybe...”
Normally, I’m a very well put together and organized gal, but every once in awhile, I can be a little hectic. I had to go through half of my closet this morning just to find the shoes for my perfect outfit! Sometimes, my stuff just randomly disappears and I have no idea where it goes.
After what my mom complained took hours, but was really just thirty minutes, I emerge victorious with a cute white bikini, an anklet, and dangly earrings. The outfit is more for show than for actual swimming, which is perfect for my role as the birthday girl.
“Dad is definitely not going to be a fan of this one.” I hold the bikini top to my chest, noticing the designated hole in between my breast that gives a little preview.
“Who cares?! You look hot!”
I laugh at her statement before quickly changing into the swimsuit. Once I have the outfit on, my mom sits me in front of my vanity and begins to style my curls. I add a fresh layer of lip gloss and stand once she’s finished, walking over to my bag sitting on my bed. I make sure my tote bag is filled with everything I need, including my lipgloss before my mom sits me down and holds my hands.
“Andi, you’ve grown so much. It seems like just yesterday you were starting your first day of third grade.”
“Oh, yeah. I remember that. I wouldn’t let go of dad’s leg. You kept trying to take my hand and pull me into the school, but I wouldn’t budge.”
“You looked up at me with tears in your eyes, saying, ‘Mommy, please! I wanna go back to my old school! I hate it here!’”
I laugh, reminiscing on how serious I was about that declaration. My parents had transferred me to a different school because they thought that one had a better education system. I was so angry with them because they never even asked me if I wanted to leave my old school and my friends. I’d thought that if I put up a big enough fight, they’d let me go back.
“Do you remember what I told you that day?”
“Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about?”
“No, not that part.”
“Ninety percent of what you said to me that day was scolding. Also, I have a really bad memory, mom.”
My mom rolls her eyes and laughs. “Come on, Andi. Think really hard.”
I pause for a second, recalling the memory once again and search for the answer she’s looking for. “You told me that the world is full of opportunities and that I can’t let how I feel keep me from noticing them. You told me that sometimes in the moment, it might feel like it’s not the best for us, but with a little faith and patience, it can be the greatest thing to ever happen in our lives.”
You know, I might not give her credit for it all the time, but my mother is definitely one of the wisest people I know.
She tucks a stray hair behind my ear. “Exactly. Baby, there’s always going to be something that tries to get in your way and bring you down. It will try to make you forget where you came from and who you are. I just want you to know that whatever happens, you know we love you, okay? And don’t ever doubt for a second who you are and how much you’re worth. Don’t let them win.”
It’s weird she would be mentioning something like this. I know how loved I am and how much I’m worth. I understand that life will try to get me down. But something in her voice made me on edge as if once again she knew something I didn’t.
It’s not the topic itself that’s weird. It’s more of, what prompted her to remind me of this?
“Yeah, mom. I know.”
“Good.” She stands, placing a kiss on top of my head before heading towards the door. “Let’s go and try to sneak you past your dad before he has a heart attack.” She says while gesturing to my outfit.
Grabbing my cover-up to hide the bikini, I follow her out of the room, and down the stairs where my dad and uncle seem to be in deep conversation. My dad’s wildly gesturing his hands, his face becoming a bright red. My Uncle Ryan also seems to be sporting a pissed look as he takes in my father’s words before adding to his argument in a low voice. Whatever they seem to be discussing is clearly not rated E for everyone as they quiet once noticing my mom and me on the stairs.
“Everything alright, Henry?” My mom goes over and gently touches my dad’s shoulder.
“Yes. It’s just—business.” His eyes nervously glance my way before returning back to my mom. It seems as if he’s conveying a secret message to her as she nods her head in understanding not a moment later.
“I hope you guys weren’t talking shit about me.” I place my hand on my hip, playfully eyeing them suspiciously.
My Uncle Ryan bursts out laughing while my mom’s eyes widen before fixing me with a glare. “Andromeda Ross! Language!”
“What?! Dad does it!” I point an accusatory finger at him to which he holds his hands up.
“Your father is a grown-ass man. Well, mostly,” Uncle Ryan jokes, evoking a glare from my dad.
And that’s my cue to leave.
“Alright, I’ll see you crazy kids after the party.” I walk over to them and hug my uncle before turning to do the same for my dad. I give him a kiss on the cheek and almost make it out the door. In my haste to get out the door and what had occurred previously, I’d forgotten to put on the coverup I’d grabbed to cover up my bikini.
“Andromeda Macaria Ross!! What the hell are you wearing?!” My dad screams at the top of his lungs.
Way to be dramatic, dad!
“Uh—sandals?” I nervously chuckle, trying to inch my way towards the door and leave this conversation behind.
“Oh, really? My mistake! Carry on.”
My eyes light up and I begin strolling towards the door. “Great! Thanks!”
“Hold it right there, young lady!”
Oh, come on!
“You think I’m going to give you the chance to walk out of here with your chest on display like that?! I am way too young to be a grandfather!”
Ugh, it was only a matter of time before he noticed. “Daddy, please! I’m practically covered where it counts and it’s super hot outside! Plus, I’m going to be out at the beach. There are people who show a lot more than just a little cleavage there. Luckily for you, I chose a modest look.”
Rolling his eyes, he mumbles, “I’d hate to see the not-so-modest clothes in your closet.”
“Look, I’ll wear my coverup so you don’t have to worry. Deal?”
“Deal,” he grumbles after ten long seconds. He points a finger at me. “Don’t go getting any ideas now.”
“Yeah, right. Like I get ideas anymore.” I pull the piece of fabric over my head, obscuring my “revealing” bikini from sight. I fully plan on taking off my coverup once I hit the beach, but he doesn’t need to know that.
As I begin to close the door, I hear him shout from behind me. “Make sure you’re wearing the necklace we bought you! And don’t lose it!”
I touch the base of my neck to find the beautiful pendant still intact. Phew! I didn’t have this necklace for even an hour and I thought I’d already lost it. Typical me.
Hopping into my new and beautiful ride, I turn on the engine and zoom out of my neighborhood. Safely, of course. At least, that’s what I’m required to say.
I pull into the parking lot of the beach and see Hailey and Ryan standing there like mad women holding some goofy sign with equally goofy smiles. They’re shouting random crap at the top of their lungs and, if I didn’t know my best friends, I’d have said they had a little something extra before coming here. Like, a lot of it.
Man, my friends are weirdos.
But I love them.
Tossing my coverup in the car, I grab my tote from the passenger seat and hear a catcall.
"Damn! Mamacita is looking spicy!”
“You know I do clean up pretty good.” I stick my tongue out and strike several different poses as my best friends cheer me on.
I walk up to them with my arms crossed. “Okay, crackheads. Where to?”
Hailey launches behind me, giggling uncontrollably while hooking a hand over my face. “No peeking!”
These girls are unbelievable. We walk down a flight of stairs until I could feel the sand beneath my tan sandals. “So, is that one of your dad’s cars? I can’t believe your mom actually let you drive it here!”
“Actually, it’s my car.”
“I am one hundred percent serious, Ry,” I laugh before tripping over a rather sharp rock. “Ah, shit! Could we maybe hold on the talking part of this surprise? You know I can never walk and talk at the same time.”
“Oh, right. Sorry!”
Suddenly we stop, and Hailey removes her hand from my face.
A chorus of voices greets my ears as I take in the sight before me. Practically my entire class is standing on the beach, holding signs and balloons that read “happy birthday.” I recognize every face in the crowd due to my active role at our school and with our student body. I wouldn’t describe myself as popular and I never went out for political roles at school, but I was an advocate for their grievances as well as supporting each and every aspect of our unique student body.
They begin to sing “Happy Birthday” loudly and very off-key, with a few actually good singers in the crowd. Our school’s chorus director would die on the spot hearing the hodgepodge of voices, but I appreciated the thoughtful attempt no matter how, the longer they sang, the further they strayed from the pitch.
Oh, my poor ears.
Eh, it’s not like I needed to hear ever again anyway.
After the song ends, people begin to walk up to me for more personal birthday wishes and conversations.
“Thanks for always showing up to our performances, Andi! You’re the best!” Melissa from the Drama club says while pulling me into a hug.
“The Debate Club really appreciates the snacks you always provided us for competitions and practices. We got you a little something to remember us by,” Matt, their captain, says and hands me a birthday gift bag.
I thank him before moving on to members of the National Honors Society, Student Government, Art Club, and the list goes on. Once I’ve completed my rounds, a few of the football and soccer players approach me with a big banner. “Aw, you guys!”
“Thanks for all that you do for us. We love you, Andi!” They yell in unison and rope me in for a group hug. I hear someone start chanting my name and soon everyone joins in. The guys surrounding me decide to launch me into the air and place me onto our lead quarterback, Joshua’s, shoulder.
This, of course, freaked the hell out of me. I need to get my feet back on solid ground pronto.
After parading around our stretch of the beach, I finally got the opportunity to escape and make a beeline for the food table. I love these guys, but there’s only so much attention I can take. As I’m piling my plate sky high, I feel warmth seep the side of my body as someone sidles up next to me. “Great party, Clumsy. Love the bikini.”
I almost drop my plate as I see the guy from this morning standing right next to me sipping some liquid from a red cup. God, he’s so hot.
Agh, snap out of it, Andromeda!
“Are you flirting with me? You’ll have to do a much better job than that if you want my number, pretty boy.”
“So, you think I’m pretty?” He cracks a swoon-worthy smile and chuckles.
Selective hearing much?
“And, don’t worry. I haven’t shown you the best of my abilities. That’s for later.” He shoots me a wink, causing me to drop a cheese cube.
No! My poor cheddar!
“Have I seen you before? You know, other than this morning when you tried to kill me.”
“I can see you’re one for dramatics.”
“So people tell me.”
He shakes his head, a boyish grin gracing his face. “No, we haven’t properly introduced ourselves. I’m Bastian, a friend of Ryan.”
“Oh, yeah? How’d you guys meet?”
“Really? You don’t seem like the type.”
“I have many layers, not all of them on the surface. Although, you’re welcome to look.”
Oye, I don’t know if this guy is attractively arrogant or stupidly sexy. I’m gonna go with both. “I’m Andromeda, but people call me Andi for short.”
He taps his chin, seeming to weigh the two names. Finally, he decides a champion.
“I think I like Clumsy better.” There’s that adorable smile again. I could hear the music startup from the DJ booth, and teenagers start rushing to get into the beat.
Bastian throws back the rest of the content in his drink before shooting me an inquisitive look. He tips his head in their direction. “Wanna dance with me, birthday girl?”
Hell yeah, I do!
Oh, wait. That’s too desperate.
“But I barely know you, sir.” I give him, what I hope is a flirtatious yet challenging smirk.
“Then, let’s get to know each other, Princess.” He holds out his hand, waiting for me to accept or deny his invitation.
Hmm, this could be interesting.
“Sure.” I gently place down my now empty plate. I didn’t even realize I had eaten anything at all. Guess all this partying and flirting made me really hungry. I accept his hand, but not before grabbing another cheese cube and popping it into my mouth.
“You have a big appetite.” I blush at his scrutiny as he begins to pull me towards the dance “floor.”
“Yeah, I’ve got a big appetite, but doesn’t everybody? Besides, why hide something that’s clearly meant to be flaunted?” I can feel the magnificent spark that shoots up my arm as his skin grazes mine.
“Now look who has layers,” he chuckles and I join him.
We reach to where the rest of the party has gathered, and begin to move to the beat. Everyone’s getting into the music in their own way, some quietly shuffling and mouthing the lyrics while others grind and shake on anybody interested in joining them. I personally can’t complain since the rather suggestive song gives Bastian an excuse to grab my waist.
I look up into those grey eyes of his, and I swear I see something intense surface there. His mouth is set in a gentle smirk while his fingers playfully brush my back. Although I have several spaces of skin exposed, Bastian is careful to only touch the material of the bikini.
Ever the gentleman.
Is it possible to feel something for a complete stranger?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying that this is love at first sight. I don’t think that’s exactly my cup of tea. But there’s something about Bastian that intrigues me, draws me in closer to learn more.
The music becomes slower in my ears, and all I can hear is the pounding of my own heart.
Yikes, too much thinking.
It’s affecting my cardiovascular system.
Bastian manages to pull me closer to where there is barely a breath between us. So much for keeping our distance. He’s wearing a navy blue Hawaiian shirt that is completely unbuttoned, his skin meeting mine in a heated kiss. If I tilt my head up ninety degrees, my lips would meet his in a full lip lock.
Wait, where did that come from?
What am I thinking?
I barely know this guy.
This incredibly sexy and mysterious stranger.
No, Andromeda! That’s what he wants you to think! Don’t be like the other girls!
But never have I ever felt anything quite like this with someone. My first reaction when meeting people is to keep them at arm’s length; to keep a wall between us. But something tells me that Bastian will be a mastermind in getting past all of my security checks.
I know what you’re thinking. Why is she entertaining the idea of kissing a complete stranger?
Well, my dear, I do not have an answer to that one at this time.
But we can worry about the details later. It’s my birthday and I fully intend to enjoy every aspect of it, even if that means making out with a complete and total stranger.
I tilt my head to meet Bastian’s eyes. I can see them physically lower to my lips.
He’s thinking about it too.
Or at least, I think he is.
My hands are now curled around his neck, my fingers inches from his hair. His eyes catch on something--my necklace--before traveling back to my lips. Dang it, there goes my knees again.
I can feel my dad’s warning nagging me somewhere in the back of my head, but I stomp it out not wanting it to ruin my good mood. I never get to be reckless with my decisions. I should at least have this one chance. I can worry about dad’s fortune cookie sayings later.
Slowly, he leans into me, barely leaving a breath between us. His chest is sending sparks across my skin, evoking a need from me. The need for me to feel his lips on mine.
Something within me snaps, and I push the rest of the way towards him. His hands tighten on my waist as I clutch his neck. Fireworks explode between us as his lips began to move against mine.
If I had known what I was missing out on, I would have done this sooner.
His kiss is slowly drugging me, making me numb to everything around us except for his lips.
Bastian’s body molds into mine, the music and party forgotten. He draws away for a millisecond only to smash his lips back on top of mine. It’s exotic and foreign, this kiss. Delicious and sinful at the same time. I can feel my body tremble under his touch, my knees ready to give out at any second. The effect he has on me is toxic, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like it. I could so get used to this.
Bastian pulls away, for real this time, his eyes surprisingly bright. My fingers trace his swollen lips as his hands gather in my hair. “Now that’s what I call the best birthday ever.”
“I couldn’t agree more.”
Fuck, my dad is gonna have my ass.
Hmm kissing a complete stranger... 😏
Do you guys think that was reckless of Andi, or do you think no harm no foul?
Does anybody think we’ll be seeing Bastian anytime soon?
What do you think her mom was hinting at during their talk?
What could Henry and Ryan have possibly been talking about?
Again with these questions!