I kissed a boy once.
It had been my first time. It was supposed to be that moment I had always dreamt of. I’d spent years imagining the epic swirl of blissful, tingling delight that would accompany the experience. Instead, it turned out to be a major disappointment.
Not so much for me... but for him.
Yes, I kissed him. And instead of fireworks exploding around us and our eyes locking in shocked pleasure, he dragged his hand across his mouth, gave me a pathetic smile and took a step back. I thought I’d died. This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. A kiss is what was supposed to awaken a man’s feeling, right? He was supposed to realize just how much he’d been missing out on by depriving himself of me all these years.
Instead, he acted as though the kiss solidified everything he’d already known to be true about me. I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t his type. I was a regret that he couldn’t wipe from his memory... or his lips.
“I’m sorry,” he had murmured, closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose. “I shouldn’t have let that happen.”
“Why?” The question had dropped from my lips without any thought. Honestly, I’m glad it did. As much as I’d dreaded his response, I’d also needed it. I had to know what was so awful about me that something as simple as a PG kiss could have disgusted him in such an obvious way.
“I just—” He’d cut himself off, tilting his head back and breathing heavily into the sky before finding my eyes again. “I just don’t... I don’t feel that way... about you.”
“Then how’d we get into this situation?” I’d challenged, tucking my hair behind my ear and leveling my gaze with his.
His eyes had narrowed, shoulders rotating back so he was standing at his full height. “Are you saying that I’m responsible for you kissing me?”
“No,” I’d answered casually, slipping my hands into the pockets of my dress. “It seemed pretty mutual. Besides, it’s not as though I lunged at you. There was plenty of opportunity for you to stop this and you just let it happen. So yes, you are partially responsible. Because, unlike you, my feelings do exist.” I shook my head in disappointment. “Maybe you should be a little more aware of your own actions before you start giving kisses away to girls you care nothing about.”
And then I’d pivoted on my heel and sauntered away with head held high, shoulders confident, and heart shattered.
That was nearly five years ago, and since then, I’d sort of created a game with myself. A challenge. I refused to let rejection scare me away from boys. So, instead, I started searching for it. If I expected rejection, then I couldn’t be disappointed when it happened.
Might also be how I managed to snag the title of the school slut. Not my greatest accomplishment, believe me. Especially since my V-card was still in tact (and planned to remain that way). Somehow, people didn’t care about reality though. They cared about having something bigger than their own issues to talk about. Maybe I should view it as charity. I was sacrificing my own reputation as a means of helping others feel better about their own screw-ups. What a joke!
It’d never been that big of a deal to me. Crushes were painful but nothing I couldn’t handle. Being turned down would dampen my mood for a couple hours and then I’d brush off the negativity and get back out there.
Because suddenly, I didn’t want to be rejected. Not by Bryson Andrews anyway.
He was my friend. Well... sort of. He was part of our friend group. We’d chat on occasion but never made any kind of effort to hang out outside of our circle. I’d always been attracted to him. Kind of hard not to be when he’s the walking definition of hot!
I don’t use that word often, but it’s fitting for him because that’s how I feel anytime he’s around. Like I’m in a sauna — suffocating in the heat but somehow enjoying it all at the same time. Dark hair, hazel eyes, and a kindness that seems to ooze from his very pores. I’ve never seen him upset. I’ve never seen him mistreat anyone — or anything, for that matter. He doesn’t go to parties because he doesn’t want to have to lie to his coaches about drinking and losing sleep. He’s honest... sometimes maybe too honest. If you know you look like crap but you’re looking for flattery, he’s not the guy to go to for an ego boost. He’ll call it like it is. Too much make-up? You look like you haven’t slept in seven years? Got oregano stuck in your teeth? You smell funky? He’ll be sure to let you know.
Maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to him. Our bluntness binds our souls.
I once heard him tell a girl that her perfume reminded him of his grandma’s funeral. Though, to be fair, she’d basically begged for him to elaborate when he’d casually told her it wasn’t his favorite scent. I have no doubt that bottle was trashed the second she got home. And we all secretly thank him for his lack of a filter.
I’ve only got two close friends: Cooper, and Chloe. But since Cooper is friends with Bryson, Randell, Adam, and Adam’s tumor of a girlfriend, Izzy, we all tend to hang out on occasion. I’m okay with the arrangement because it allows me to have more encounters with Bryson without having to look like a creep who’s anxiously seeking ways to ask for a pencil, or the time, or something else totally unnecessary.
“Earth to Everly!”
A pair of fingers start snapping in front of my face and I blink my attention away from Bryson who’s laughing with a soccer buddy down the hall.
“You’re seriously so obvious,” Chloe sighs, following my gaze to where the entire soccer team lingers waiting for the bell to ring.
Turning around, I resume rummaging through my locker as I ponder her words. “Not that obvious,” I mutter to myself, peering over my shoulder briefly for another glance.
Chloe slaps my shoulder with a chuckle and I grin to myself as I slip my notebook into my bag and slam my locker shut.
“You’ve liked him for years,” Chloe tells me, and I give her a sarcastic “I had no idea!” gasp. “Why not just tell him already?” She continues, ignoring me. “It’s not like he’s going to spit on you or laugh in your face.”
I roll my eyes as I slide my bag onto my shoulders. “I’d almost prefer those responses to the one that I know he’d give.”
“Which is...?” she prods, waving at someone at the other end of the hall.
“Ooooh, right.” She nods slowly. “The soft blow. Yeah, I’d much rather have a punch to the gut rejection than a sweet ‘sorry’.” She laughs to herself. “You’re such a weirdo, Ev.”
“Yes.” I agree. “That’s been mentioned on occasion, but I do enjoy the constant reminders.”
She grins up at me once before giving my shoulder a farewell squeeze and disappearing into her first period classroom. I continue on down the hall, past the hoard of soccer players — my eyes only darting toward Bryson long enough to see that he’s not watching me — and then take the stairs to the third floor where Cooper’s waiting for me.
Cooper is... well, he’s different. Not at all the type of person I ever thought I’d hang out with. We met in Middle School. He was a total math geek but also a freakishly good swimmer, and he tended to pick his nose when he didn’t think people were watching. Thankfully, he’s grown out of that grotesque habit, but he’s still an annoying mix of smarts and athleticism. I think he only befriended me because he saw me slip on the tiled pool floor once and he thought I’d bring him great amusement with my clumsiness. I freakin broke my baby toe that day, and while I cried in agony, he cried in hysterical laughter. I wanted to hate him, but then he showed me the video that he’d managed to capture of my fall and I couldn’t deny it. It was funny. I didn’t even realize my face could get that ugly, but his video proved it. I was an ugly crier.
The prospect of working on my fitness crosses my mind as I crest the top of the stairs in a heaving mess, but quickly dismiss it when I spot Cooper leaning against the opposite wall eating an orange like an apple.
“You’re sick,” I tell him, barely even surprised by his odd behavior.
“Thanks.” He smiles before taking another bite and then angling his head to launch a seed into the nearby trashcan. He misses.
We enter Biology together and find our seats. As usual, Cooper riffles through his bag until he finds two granola bars and tosses one on my table.
“Thanks,” I mutter, barely glancing his way. This is our normal routine. He’ll feed me and I’ll humiliate myself for his entertainment — though, not on purpose. On occasion, I’ll share a PopTart with him, just to keep things fair. The goals of true friendship.
“Did ya hear that Brittney’s taken now?”
My head swings sideways to give Cooper a look. “Well, yeah,” I nod. “She’s gorgeous. It was only a matter of time.”
“So,” he defends. “You’re gorgeous too.”
“I know that,” I respond, running a hand over my smooth brown hair with a teasing glint in my eyes. “Your point?”
“Just sayin’” he shrugs, fiddling with his now empty granola wrapper. “Being attractive doesn’t automatically win you a boyfriend.”
I groan. “Are you going to rub my singledom in my face forever? I can’t help it that nobody’s good enough for me. They just can’t handle all my gloriousness.”
“Or maybe they can’t handle all your conceitedness,” he counters as the teacher stands from her desk and calls for the class to “sit down and shut up.”
I smile into my fist before taking a bite of the granola bar in my other hand. Cooper knows I’m not conceited. I just happen to be one of the few females in this school who’s confident in herself. There is a possibility that I could be gorgeous; I just don’t try. And I don’t try because I’m entirely too lazy. If a man is going to love me, he’s going to love me in my “almost” natural state. By that I mean, I still shave and put on deodorant; I just don’t go out of my way to impress people. Especially men.
Unfortunately, that’s a choice I might come to reconsider very soon.
Okay... first thoughts?
Honestly, it took me a few chapters to really start to love writing this story, so I won’t be surprised if you all aren’t totally captivated yet. I promise it will get better (very soon). Hang in there! ;)