Breaking Masks

by Dabeagle & Josh Aterovis


Chapter 12


I walked in and darted over to the window overlooking the street. Jake was on the sidewalk, looking up at the building. I smiled at him, but I guess he didn’t see me, as he turned and started walking up the street. I watched him go, his slender frame in the spotlight of a streetlamp. His hair sparkled in the soft glow of the streetlight, and still glimmered a bit when he left its glare. I sighed as he disappeared from view. I should have asked him to stay. How can I possibly sleep tonight knowing he’s out there?

I grinned to myself and walked back towards my hamper, unbuttoning my shirt as I went. Jake and I had a few things in common, like our unconventional families. I knew there was something he wasn’t saying though, but I could wait. He’d told me more than he had to already, enough to show he wants something to happen. That started a little gnawing of nerves in the back of my mind, but I relished the fact that I had a golden opportunity for something real. I grabbed a soda from the fridge and went back to the window to stare at the spot where Jake had been only moments before. My eyes and thoughts drifted up the street to where the streetlamp’s glow had made him stand out in grand fashion. Funny, he looked so natural in a spotlight.

After a while, I moved to the couch, still running our conversation over and over in my head. Jake and I really did have a lot in common, from our parents to not finding someone to whom we really felt connected. I blushed as I recalled how I’d neglected to fill him in about how I’d been watching him from the first time I saw him that day coming out of the admin building, let alone orientation or the bookstore. No sense making a complete fool of myself!

I put the unfinished soda in my fridge, and decided I should at least try to sleep before getting up for work. I took one more glance out of the window, hoping to see him coming back, like they always do in the movies where they always stand under the window and toss small stones to get the person’s attention. Then they say sweet things, and maybe they run off together. Finally, I went to bed, still thinking of Jake and feeling as though I couldn’t be happier than to know he was interested in me, even if all we did was talk all night—especially after we had talked all night.

* * *

Max and I opened Saturday morning, and Mike wandered in a few minutes after we arrived. I got the initial round of coffee pots going, and Mike set up cups for easy reach. Max sipped her hot chocolate and stared at Mike’s ass whenever he wasn’t looking. I wonder if I did that with Jake. I don’t think I had ever stared at his ass. Now that I think about it, I wonder exactly what his ass is like. I made a mental note to check it out the next chance I got.

People began to wander in and soon we were balls to the wall busy. “Assholes and elbows” my dad used to say, so many people it was positively chaotic. Jake showed up just after the initial rush. He hadn’t taken the time to check himself in the mirror and whatnot, and he looked all rumpled and cute. I made him a coffee before he got to the counter. Max bumped me and told me to take my break, so I brought the coffee out to Jake, meeting him halfway across the store.

“You look like you need this,” I said to him. I was unable to hide the smirk as one eyebrow went up.

“You trying to tell me I don’t look good in the morning?”

“I think you look kinda cute, all wrinkled and half awake.” I smiled back at him as we sat at a table. The tide of people had slacked off and I felt comfortable in speaking that way to him in public. He placed his hands on the sides of the cup, inhaling the scent, and looking as if the smell of coffee was the best thing that had ever entered his nostrils. I had a flash in my head, years from now taking pleasure in making his coffee in the morning, breakfast in bed for his birthday or our anniversary. I think I could spend a lot of time waking up to that expression.


I realized Jake had opened his eyes and seen me staring at him while I was lost in all these silly, domestic thoughts.

“Nothing, Jake. How’s your coffee?” I asked.

“Perfect. Just what I needed.” He took a sip and smiled at me.

“So what are you doing today?”

“Laundry. I’m almost out of clothes.”

That would be a tragedy, I thought with a smirk.

“What are you doing today?”

“Laundry, too. There’s a place a couple doors down from my building. I may have to pry Nick out of his apartment too.” I winked at Jake. “Steve left sometime early this morning.”

“How do you know?”

“I heard him fall down the stairs.”

“You what?”

“I heard this crash, and it woke me up, so I poked my head into the hallway, and there was Nick rushing down to help Steve. I guess too much sex makes you unsteady on your feet.” I sniggered at the remembered sight of Steve and Nick.

“Are you speaking from experience?” Jake asked with a smirk.

“I’m not that kind of boy,” I said flippantly, but I knew my cheeks were showing my embarrassment.

“What kind of boy are you?” Jake asked suggestively. I guess the coffee had hit the part of his brain that picked on me.

“The kind that doesn’t kiss on the first date.”

“How many dates do I have to go before that happens?”

“Well, I haven’t even been asked out for the first time,” I said looking up at the ceiling, feigning being cool and collected while my heart pounded in my chest. I was amazed he couldn’t hear it.

“What? That cozy, intimate dinner for eight wasn’t enough?” Jake laughed.

“Nope,” I giggled. “Dinner for two would qualify though.”

“Well, I don’t have a place for us to go and I don’t really know any restaurants, but wherever you want to go is fine with me.”

“Well, I know this little second floor walk up with a pretty decent cook,” I said. I couldn’t believe I was being so forward! I’m sure my cheeks were crimson, but damn it, I wanted to see him again.

“Kody, are you asking me out?” Jake teased.

“No,” I replied as I stood up to go back to work, “I’m telling you dinner is at seven. Be there if you’re hungry.”

“What’s on the menu?” he called as I walked away.

“You want to know, be there at seven!” I called back. My father would kill me if he saw how I was acting, but Jake as coming to dinner at my place tonight and that was all that mattered! Now, the only thing left to do was figure out what I was going to cook...and how to make it!

* * *

“So let me get this straight, you were flirting with him, and it got out of control, and now you don’t know what to make him for dinner?”

“Your words, not mine,” I said while loading the washing machine. I just knew asking Nick for help would come at a price, but his ribbing had already worn thin.

“Wow. I mean, I’ve done some things to get in guys’ pants before, but I always had a plan!” He chuckled and I glared at him.

“I’m not trying to get in his pants, just so you know,” I muttered as I fed quarters into the slot and started the machine on its first cycle.

“Why not? Jake is pretty fine if you ask me. If you weren’t interested, and I wasn’t with Steve, I’d be trying.”

“Because, I want more than a one night stand!”

“Down, Simba! I was just saying that he’s hot. I guess I don’t understand why you aren’t interested in what he’s packing.”

“It’s not that I’m not interested, it’s just…” I sighed before sitting down. “I want some thing real for my….for my first time. Okay, I said it. Are you happy now? I am virgin—a fucking sexual loser. All right?”

“Whoa, calm down, man! I’m sorry, I didn’t realize all that. I just assumed someone that’s as cute as you had some experience, that’s all. I didn’t mean anything!” Nick soothed and I sat still, embarrassed.

“I just don’t want to mess this up. I mean, I don’t know if it’ll work out or not, but Jake likes me and I like him, and I want something more than a night of sex. I really want something…romantic.” I trailed off into a whisper.

“Kody, that’s cool man. There is nothing wrong with that. Listen, let me tell you something about me. I was in love with a Jake once too, so I know how they can twist you up in knots.” He smiled at me as I looked into his face.

I waited in silence for him to continue. He took a deep breath and leaned back in his chair before starting.

“Jake was awesome, funny and smart, and he really loved me. He still does, and I love him too, but he loves Greg more and I had to let him go. I went through a phase after Jake and I broke up, after I came here for my freshman year. I gave a new meaning to the term bed-spread!” My eyes must have been wide because he laughed at my expression before continuing. “I think I’ve really found something with Steve though. We sat up all night and talked, drank coffee, and actually slept together without any bodily fluids changing addresses. The strange thing was I woke up and felt good about that. I felt good like the last time I slept with my Jake. So I guess what I am trying to say is I respect what you’re feeling with Jake, and what you want to try and build. But if you want a recipe, you came to the wrong guy. I screw up mac and cheese!”

I chuckled at him and went to the soda machine for something to do. I felt nervous, but I was always embarrassed if my lack of sexual experience came up. It wasn’t something you’re proud of unless you were a True Love Waits fanatic. I walked back to my seat next to Nick and plopped down with my soda.

“Seriously, Kody, I think it’s cool you want the right guy. I hope Jake is it. I know my Jake was the right guy for me, and I don’t regret anything. I know other people that just gave it up while they were drunk, and they did regret it. You can’t get that first time back. So stick to your guns, man.”

I hadn’t expected him to agree with me, and I chewed on that for a minute. I really wanted to make the right choice. I wanted to follow my heart and not just my loins. I wanted mind, body and well as head. I felt a flash of guilt at that, but there it was. I did want to have sex, but I was determined after having so many romantic misadventures that I would do this right. Still, for all my thinking, I was pleased Nick backed me up, a little moral support if you will.

After my last load of laundry was done, I headed upstairs to get my stuff put away and make an embarrassing phone call. I dragged out putting the socks away and folding my underwear. I don’t know anyone else that folds their underwear. Charlie practically rolls them into a ball and squeezes them in a drawer. I hung my shirts and put the pants away before hunting up my phone card and dialing home.

“Thank you for calling the Java Script, how can I help you?”

“Hi, Dad. It’s Kody.”

“Hey buddy! How’s everything in the great northeast?”

“Going pretty well. Classes are okay, all except Economics, which is so boring I can’t even tell you.”

“Yeah, I hated Econ too. Boring stuff. You’ll have to buckle down to pass that one, Son.”

“Yeah, I know. I’m calling for a reason this time, though. I need a little help, Dad.”

“What’s up?”

I felt my cheeks reddening already, but I was committed now and plunged ahead.

“I have a date tonight and I need to know how to cook something impressive but not too hard.”

“Oh, I see. You’re cooking dinner?”

“Yeah, I am.”

“Who is this guy?”

“It’s Jake, the one I told you about the first week of school.”

“Oh, Kody, you can’t be serious?”

“It’s not what you think, Dad. It turns out he’s gay, and he’s interested. We met up at this free concert last night, and we walked in the park together and talked, and he’s really nice, Daddy, and he said he liked me too.” I felt like a small child, almost afraid my dad would forbid this guy to come into the house, my apartment, three thousand miles away.

“Well, you’re on your own now, Kody. I can’t tell you what to do,” Dad sighed. “I hope it works out this time.”

“I hope so too, Dad. He’s been really sweet so far, and we have some stuff in common.”

“Like what?”

“Well, like the fact we are both out at home. We are both from single parent houses, ‘cept I’m sure his mom is a little more feminine than you.” I giggled.

“Laugh it up. What else?”

“Jeez, I dunno,” I thought to myself, “Neither of us is into the drinking or party scene really. We like the same music, sort of. The band at the park played a really good song. I wonder if that would be, like, our song?”

“So! Did he kiss you yet?” I wondered to myself if dad was a little uncomfortable with me and Jake. Well, of course he is, he can’t be here if something goes wrong.


“Okay, I guess not. That’s good, means he didn’t do anything else either.”

“Dad! That is so not funny,” I grumbled at him.

“Well, I guess you’re trying to get to his heart through his stomach, huh?”

“No, I’m trying to get a date since I told him I don’t kiss on the first date!” I felt as if the embarrassment clearly showing in my cheeks could have lit the room—and then some.

“So we are trying for a first kiss?” Dad chuckled.

“Yes, Dad, we are. I want him to kiss me, and then I want him to take me to the couch and kiss me some more, and then I want him to find the bottle of lube and the condoms I stashed in the coffee table drawer, and—“


“Well, you make it sound so dirty!”

“I do not. I was just curious. You go so whole heartedly into these things. I just don’t want him to take advantage of you. I can’t stop it from happening though, so I hope you are right about this boy.”

“I am, but I need a recipe, Dad! I’m supposed to cook dinner tonight!”

“Okay, alright. Let’s see...You have a pen and paper? Copy this down then.”

* * *

I walked down to the bus stop and caught one that goes to the Price Chopper on Delaware Avenue. The place was crowded, but I darted in and out of aisles with the list Dad had given me. I was making Coq Au Vin, a French chicken dish with a cream sauce. I had borrowed a dry white cooking wine from Nick, who was plainly happy to be rid of it.

I grabbed some garlic and onions, chicken and a few spices before catching the bus home. I started working quickly, following the directions as best I could and praying I didn’t do anything majorly wrong. The chicken was browning and I started cutting up the big ass onions. Holy shit! My eyes were watering like crazy. I’d always thought that was some kind of old joke. I washed my hands and my eyes began to clear once out of range of those venomous onions.

Oh shit! The chicken was only supposed to get browned, not deep fried! Oh, damn it! This was looking more and more as though I’d have to order a pizza. After rescuing the chicken, which maybe wasn’t as bad as I’d thought, I put it and its sauce in the oven. As I started to fry the onions, knuckles rapped on my front door, and Nick popped in.

“Damn, something smells good in here! Can I come over too?” He smiled as he walked over to me.

“I am not slaving over a hot stove to get my first kiss from you, mister!” I said as I tried to make light of my situation.

“For just one piece of that chicken, I’ll clean your tonsils, Kody!” Nick chuckled and made a mock attempt to kiss me. I just laughed and pushed him away.

“No, this is for Jake. Make your own dinner.”

“But I can’t cook, Emeril!” he whined at me while sitting down at my small kitchen table.

“What, I look like a chef here? Bam!” I giggled as I slammed the frozen veggies on the counter to break them up from their icy slumber.

“Well, it smells good, whatever it is.”

“I am so nervous. In Home Ec, I once made these muffins that smelled so good...until you actually tried to eat one.” I shot Nick a meaningful glance before continuing, “I put in salt instead of sugar. They tasted like a big, fluffy salt lick.”

Nick howled with laughter and I smiled at him. The story was true enough, what I hadn’t told him was that after I knew how bad they were, I gave one to my math teacher. I’d hated that bastard.

Nick and I chatted aimlessly while I cooked, then I asked him to watch the stove while I took a shower. As I was leaving, he asked if he should pick my clothes out again. I stuck my tongue out at him for his efforts.

After showering, however, I really did wonder if I shouldn’t get Nick to pick something for me. I settled on a tight black button up and jeans that were somewhat snug in the back. I pulled on my anklets, and put on my Jake & Co underwear—for good luck. I didn’t plan on him ever seeing them, not tonight anyway.

I walked out in my stocking feet to the kitchen where Nick was putting the lid on the vegetables. The rice was simmering and everything was just about set. I grabbed some nice plates from the cabinet. Once, they might have been part of a big set, but these two orphans were all that was left at the Goodwill store. I put some paper towels down as napkins and a battered butter tray with chipped salt and pepper shakers. I grabbed two bowls and two thin tapered candles from the top of the fridge and my catch-all drawer respectively.

I lit each one, dripping candle wax in the bowl and then seating the candles on the hot wax. After blowing them out, I left them to cool in place.

“Do you think he’ll notice that all this stuff doesn’t match with just the candlelight?” I asked Nick worriedly. I slowly adjusted the table cloth as I realized there were more threads than I remembered dangling at the fringes. I readjusted the setting once the offending strings were hidden on my side of the table.

“I’d be surprised if he notices anything after he sees you, Kody.” Nick smiled at me. “I saw the looks he was flashing you. I think you are pretty safe in getting noticed tonight.”

“Flattery will get you nowhere. Okay, get out! Jake will be here soon and I need to finish things up here.”

“Okay, good luck,” Nick said. He paused and pecked me on the cheek. “Jake’s lucky, don’t you forget it.” Then he was gone. I tried to settle my nerves and finish getting things done around the apartment, like picking up dishes from the living room, empty chip packages off the coffee table and my shoes from in front of the couch.

I had this old lamp that was red fading to white with gold leaves glued to it. It was interesting because it had two bulbs, one on the top where the main source of light was, and one on the inside of it where you could have a nightlight type of glow. I set the lamp on its dim setting and eyed the room critically. Well, it looked better draped in shadows, more as if things went together.

I went back into the kitchen and waited for the chicken to finish. I also checked the rice and veggies, deciding I should put them in bowls for the table. I was so nervous. Why was I so nervous? We had talked already, I knew he liked me! There was no reason to be acting like a ninny!

I put the veggies on the table, and as I turned to get the rice it occurred to me that the veggies would get cold if he wasn’t on time. I couldn’t serve a cold dinner to Jake, but what was I supposed to do with it in the meantime? Shit! Why was this so complicated? I really shouldn’t have to go through all this to get one kiss from the guy who already told me he liked me. Maybe I should just lay one on him as he came through the door and get it over with! Maybe then my nerves would settle down!

I grabbed a pot top and placed it over the veggies, then proceeded to do the same with the rice. I glanced at the clock and noted it was five after seven. What if he didn’t show? Oh my god, that would be disaster! Jake wouldn’t do that, would he? Maybe I had been too forward this afternoon. Maybe he didn’t like that. I was consumed by a paralyzing fear of Jake not coming for dinner, and had a nasty image of giving the whole thing to Nick. Just at that moment, when my panic was turning to despair, there was a knock at my door. So help me god, if it’s Nick he’s going back to his apartment in a body bag!

I quickly lit the candles and dashed to the door, pausing at the mirror to check and see if my hair was still okay. I grabbed the door handle and took a deep breath before trying my best to open the door smoothly. There was Jake wearing a dark blue button up shirt with the top few buttons undone. The dark blue set off his eyes and made them seem brighter. His hair hung down to caress each side of his face, and his black jeans gave him a rock star look.

“Kody? Helloo?” He waved his hand in front of my face and I started suddenly as I was brought back to the real world.

“Hi Jake, sorry, you just…you look...really nice,” I said. I swallowed all the other terms that came to mind, in case they were too forward. I am almost certain edible would be considered too forward.

“Thanks, you look pretty nice yourself,” he smiled and stepped into the apartment. I noted a small curl at the edge of his mouth as he took in the room.

“You really set a romantic mood, Kody.”

I almost said it was to cover the mismatched furniture, but I then realized that having a romantic atmosphere was better for getting my first kiss.

“Glad you like it. Dinner is ready, if you are.” I ushered him into my little kitchen and pulled out a chair for him. He grinned at me and sat down in the proffered chair. I put a trivet on the table and opened the stove up to get the chicken out.

“Mmm, Kody, looks good. I mean, smells good!”

I realized I was bent over in front of him as I removed the chicken. Thank God I didn’t drop it out of shock! I set the chicken on the stove and half-turned to look at Jake. He seemed quite amused by all of my preparations, a cute smile sitting on his face. Well, that’s all right I guess, as long as he’s pleased. I put the chicken on the serving plate and brought it to the table.

I served him his chicken on a bed of rice, and added some of the sauce from the pan. He still had this slightly amused look on his face. I was shooting for something more than amusement. I really hoped this wasn’t all just for his amusement. Maybe I just needed to try a little harder.

He murmured his thanks as I set the main course down on the trivet and spooned him some veggies. I then took my seat across from him and put some food on my plate—but not too much! I didn’t want him to think I was a pig. Am I over-thinking this? Maybe.

“So…dig in,” I said with a smile. He grinned at me and forked a piece of chicken, which was tender enough to break away from the bone easily, and popped it in his mouth. I waited for his response, praying it was good, and also praying he wouldn’t pull that horrible routine he did when I suggested he try my favorite coffee.

He must have taken pity on me. “Hey, this is good!” he said. I smiled in relief, finally able to eat a bit myself.

“I called my dad this afternoon for a recipe,” I admitted. “I realized after I got home I didn’t know what I would make for you.”

“Take out would have been fine with me. This is more than I expected.”

I just smiled and watched him eat, extremely pleased with myself that I had made a good impression. He wasn’t mine yet, I knew that, but I also knew that he was mine to lose. I just needed to keep showing him I had some value, and then I would have a chance to keep him—maybe for a long time.

“What are you smiling at?” he asked.

“I was thinking about you…in ten years.” I grinned at him as his jaw dropped open a bit. It was over the top, but it was worth it to catch him by surprise. I giggled at him.

“Ten years, huh? What did I look like?” Jake grinned, rising to the bait.

“Handsome...and well fed.” I giggled again.

“You trying to say I got fat?” he pouted.

“No, you get plenty of regular exercise.” I flashed an appraising look at him. My father would kill me if he could hear me. In fact, I was beginning to embarrass myself. Better change the subject. “So is life at college everything you thought it would be?” I asked.

“It’s starting to look better,” he said, giving me a meaningful look, “but it didn’t start out that way. I wanted a fresh start, new place and all, and I got that, but I was a little lonely at first. Then this chick Becca tried to pick me up the first few days I was here. She turned out to be a real piece of work. She was really persistent and eventually I had to turn her down, but she showed me where the Morning Rush is, so in a way I guess she did something good.”

“Oh, so that was the girl I saw you with,” I commented without thinking.

“When did you see me with her? She only took me there once and I don’t remember seeing you.” Jake sat looking at me with this unreadable expression, and I began to squirm in my seat.

“Do I have to answer that?” I asked sheepishly.

“Well, no...” Jake toyed with his food. “...but I think you should.”

Oh, this sucked. I had to open my big mouth. He was slowly finding out I had been watching him for a long time, completely smitten. He would think I’d stalked him if I told him how often I saw him and just stopped in my tracks. Wouldn’t he? Better to be honest, I guess, than try to hide things from him.

“Okay, I was walking down to the shop, and you two were up front by the window. She was flirting, tight shirt and no bra, and you were sitting there with your...” I choked on the words. Jake simply raised an eyebrow and I muttered out the rest. “...with your legs spread in baggy jeans.” I knew I was cherry red. I could be Rudolph the Red Faced Fag for Halloween this year! I’d never been so embarrassed!

“I had…I had no idea.” Jake said quietly. I couldn’t bring myself to look at him. “So, when did you first see me, actually?” he asked. I looked up at him, not sure what he was getting at.

“The day we had orientation,” I confessed. He gave me a quizzical look and I sighed. May as well finish filling in the blanks. “You came running out the door from the admin building, and I was opening the door as you were coming out.”

Jake appeared to be in thought and I started to forget I was supposed to be embarrassed.

“I first remember you behind the counter at Morning Rush, but I kind of remember almost mowing someone down on my way to orientation. That was you?” He asked. I merely nodded in response, feeling dumb for having said anything.

“I think…” Jake appeared to be in thought again, and then smiled what could be called shyly at me before continuing. “I think I really noticed you the day I tried your favorite way of making coffee. You have a beautiful smile.”

Now I knew I was as bright as a red beacon, but I also had a very, very large smile on my face.

“See? There’s the proof,” Jake chuckled.

“Eat. Your food is getting cold,” I replied, still smiling at him.

“Yes, Mom,” he laughed and resumed his meal.

We finished eating with comfortable conversation, Jake telling me about surfing, and me picturing him on his his wetsuit. We discovered I liked sports a lot more than he did, and that he had a passing interest in video games. He told me more about his best friend, Killian, and how they met. I could tell their bond was deep. He smiled the whole time he talked about Killian.

I could feel the pain Jake still felt when he spoke of Killian as his first love, and I admit I was the tiniest bit jealous, but Jake was pretty firm about there being no future outside their extremely close friendship. I was suddenly ashamed of myself and thankful for Killian. He was Jake’s most loyal friend and confidante, and I had a feeling that if someone didn’t measure up in Killian’s view as an appropriate match for Jake…Well, I hoped I would make the cut.

Jake asked for more details about my family, and I filled him in on Dad and Charlie. I told him how Charlie had been asking about whether I was going to ask Jake out or not, and he just smiled. I wondered if he’d had a similar discussion with Killian. My curiosity was killing me on that. Who did he confide in? Then I realized that Roy seemed to know an awful lot. What does that mean? Where does Roy fit into all this anyway?

“So, um,” I began. “I know this is probably none of my business, but I am guessing Roy is your confidant here, since you have no access to Killian?”

Jake chuckled before replying, "I don't know if I'd say confidant. Roy's just always there these days, so I talk to him. Sometimes it's almost like talking to myself. He's an okay guy though. I wish I could talk to Killian more, but he's really busy. He's a private eye and he's on a big case right now."

“Oh, I guess that must be tough on you since you guys are so close,” I said. I felt sympathetic, but I also wondered how close they really were. Or maybe I just didn’t rate a call to the best friend. I hate when I do this to myself. Self doubt seems to be something I store in bulk, for just such an occasion.

“That’s the great thing about us, we don’t have to see each other all the time to know the other cares. We can not talk for a long time, but when we see each other it’s like no time has passed at all. You’d like Killian, I think.”

“I hope I get to meet him, especially if he’s so important to you,” I replied with a smile.

“You know what’s funny? I think he’d say the same thing about you.”

I was feeling pretty damn good right then, and I don’t think anyone could blame me. I had this gorgeous guy in my house, I didn’t burn dinner, and we were getting to know each other. But the best part was...I liked him. I liked spending time with him, not just staring at him and wondering what he looked like under his clothes. He could make me laugh, carry on a good conversation, and we seemed to have some real chemistry.

Life is good.

I noticed his glass was empty. “More Coke?”


I stood to get his drink and felt a small tug near my waist. Too late I realized it was because the tablecloth was stuck to my belt buckle, caught by loose threads. The same loose threads I had carefully put on my side of the table so he wouldn’t see them. I turned quickly and reached for the main dish as it toppled past my grasping fingers, followed quickly by damn near everything on the table.

So there we were in the kitchen, Jake at the table, fork in hand, and the rest of the meal on the floor at my feet.

Life sucks.

I sadly bent down to pick up the remnants of what had been a great evening when I noted Jake bending down next to me. As we picked up the dinner, he started giggling a bit. After a few seconds, I was unable to resist joining him.

“You know,” Jake said as he wiped up the chicken sauce, “this seems familiar.”

“Yeah, you and me cleaning up my messes.”

“I was going to ask you out that day.”

I stopped and stared at him. “You were?”

“Yeah. That’s the day you smiled at me the first time.”

We were both kneeling on the floor, the mess between us, our eyes locked. Strangely, for me, I held his gaze without becoming embarrassed. It must have looked silly, dinner on the floor and us staring into each other’s eyes. He smiled at me, and I returned it. He began to lean forward hesitantly. It’s about to happen! He was getting closer, his face less than a foot from mine. I leaned in slightly, my lips parted. Suddenly, he lurched forward, crashing into me. The next thing I knew, I was looking up into his face in surprise, on my back with his chest on mine. In retrospect, I think he must have overbalanced and slipped on the sauce.

He started to giggle. I joined him and soon we were laughing loudly, lying on my kitchen floor in the remains of dinner. He looked down into my face and the laughter slowly faded away. He leaned in slowly, resting his lips on mine, soft, warm and fitting perfectly against my own. I kept my gaze on him. I wanted to remember every detail. He began to lift away, a cloud of self doubt in his eyes. I slid one arm behind him and placed my other hand on his neck. I gently pulled him towards me. The feel of his warm, smooth skin registered in my mind as his hair brushed across my face, tickling my cheeks.

His lips met mine once again with a renewed sense of purpose. There we were, entwined, my first kiss on the kitchen floor, holding a boy I was sure I was falling head over heels in love with, lying in the mess of my cooling dinner. I knew I’d never forget my first kiss!

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