“Of course not.” he said in mock sympathy and then laughed when I gave him a look. Then suddenly, I realized that the sound of rushing wind in my ears was gone. I looked around and saw that we were in a clearing, complete with beautiful surrounding trees changing their colors and a gorgeous pond with a little beach.
“We’re here?” I said breathlessly.
“You like it?” he asked, letting me get on my feet. I took a few steps forward, my eyes bugging out at all of its beauty.
“It’s perfect.” I said, still breathless. I looked at him and he smiled, taking my hand and hugging me.
“This is our secret little hideout.” he said in my ear and I sighed out a laugh.
“So, how do we do this?” I asked and he leaned away from me.
“Well, I’ve been thinking about that.” he said.
“And?” I said.
“And, I could use some help. I mean, it’s kind of hard to know what to do when you’ve never done this. And what I am doesn’t make it any easier.” he said, looking down.
“What you are doesn’t make this a bad situation.” I said. “Just be calm.”
“So, any ideas?” he asked as we walked to the small beach in front of the pond.
“Well, what did you come up with?” I asked. We sat down and Connelly started throwing rocks into the water.
“I thought that it might be better if you stay as stone still as possible and then I could do it, but that’s no fun for you. And then I thought that maybe I could stay still and you could kiss me, but then I don’t know if I could keep still afterwards. And that’s basically it.” he said, looking at the sand.
“Well, what about what you were doing when my parents walked in on us? What about that?” I asked. He was quiet for a moment.
“Well, that could work. I mean, when that happened, I wasn’t thinking about how dangerous it could be, which really was stupid on my part. But all I was thinking about was kissing you and how amazing it would feel.” he looked at me.
“Well that’s it!” I said and he gave me a confused look.
“What’s it?” he asked.
“What you did this morning. That’s why you would have kissed me if my parents hadn’t walked in. That’s the key. You weren’t thinking about all the other stuff so you weren’t nervous, which made you calm.” I said.
“No, you don’t understand. I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing and what was going on and that’s why I didn’t hear your parents coming. That’s dangerous!” he said.
“Well then don’t do that. Just don’t think about it too much so you’re not so nervous and so sure that something will go wrong.” I said.
“I don’t know.” he said, looking away and grabbed a handful of sand, watching it fall between his fingers.
“You want to at least try?” I asked, desperate for it.
He looked back at me, nervous and scared. “Well, which one do you think is most likely to work? We’ll do that one.” I said, determined to motivate him. We were going to kiss today, no matter what it took.
“Even if it takes your life?” he said and looked at me with a mixture of sadness, anger, fear, and nervousness. I looked down for a moment, knowing that Ivan was telling him what I was thinking, but I didn’t lose my determination. I didn’t care. I was going to kiss him. I knew we could do it. I knew we could.
“Fine then, if you’re that sure. Maybe some of your confidence will rub off on me.” Connelly said, leaning back on his arms nervously. I smiled and rubbed my lips together, making him smile.
“So, which one are we doing? Who’s going to be the stone?” I asked.
“I am, but maybe for safeties sake, we should stand up. In case anything happens, I could run away.” he said the last part like it was tough and shameful to admit.
“Okay.” I said and as we stood, I came to realize just what I was getting into. This was a very important and scary moment. I could live or die in the next few minutes, depending on how he reacted. I was suddenly terrified, but tried not to let it be known to Connelly.
It’s alright, Kota. We’re all on standby. If anything goes wrong, we’ll be there in a few seconds. In fact, Sue and I aren’t that far from you right now. Ivan’s voice said.
You promise it’ll be okay? I said.
You know I can’t do that. But I can promise you that I know Connelly won’t hurt you, even if things do go wrong. Ivan said and I felt his support.
“You ready?” Connelly asked, looking at me nervously. I took a deep breath and nodded.
He smiled softly at me and held out his hand. I smiled nervously and took it, taking his other one as I stepped in front of him. I looked into his cherry red eyes, so soft. They pierced through my eyes to my soul. His hands were tense as I held them and I could feel my own shaking a little, but he rubbed them in assurance.
I reached up a hand to brush his face and as I did, his eyes tensed slightly. Then, as slowly as I could, I leaned in towards his lips, him growing tenser ever second, until it finally happened. My lips brushed his lightly, and then slightly pulled away, but when nothing bad happened, I brought them back and kissed him.
There were sparks as soon as our lips touched and something filled inside of me I didn’t even know was empty. My emotions shot through the roof while my control went out the door and I kissed him again, putting my hand on his cheek. But then I heard rumbling and leaned away from him so I could see his face. The sound was growling and it was coming from him, getting louder and louder until it was thunderous.
He was looking at me in the same way he had in the theater, his eyes not cherry any more, but instead blood red. I took a step back, scared to death and tears sprung up, knowing that I had messed up. I had lost control and messed up what could have been a good turnout. I looked at him tearfully and said, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to— I’m so sorry.”
“No.” he said.
He looked at me in the oddest way, taking a little bit of the fear away. He looked down and his face was full of concentration and determination. “No!” Connelly yelled, outraged, and then he disappeared into the woods.
“Connelly!” I called after him, but it was too late and I fell to my knees, my legs giving out. I put my head in my hands and sobbed.
Kota, we’re on our way. Ivan said and then a few minutes later, arms enclosed around me. I looked up at Ivan and then put my arms around his neck as he stood me up.
“Where is he?” I asked, my face pressed against his neck and shoulder.
“This might not be the right time.” he said, knowing that I wanted to go see him.
“Then when is?” I asked.
“I don’t know.” he said and hugged me tighter. We stood there for a while just holding each other, until Ivan said, “I have to get back to Sue.”
I let go of him and stepped back. “Thanks.” I said.
“You’re welcome.” he said. He smiled and brushed my cheek. Then he kissed me on the forehead, hugged me one last time, and disappeared. When he was gone, I noticed that the rest of his family was here and was suddenly embarrassed. I wiped away the rest of my tears and looked down, ashamed of what I’d done. They probably thought I was the worst person in the world.
I was just about to turn around when someone said, “Not true.” I turned back around and saw Aubrey walking towards me, her face just as sad as mine. She came to stand beside me with her hand on my shoulder.
“We would never think that.” Amelia said, coming over too and putting an arm around my shoulders.
“I don’t deserve your forgiveness. I should’ve kept better control of myself.” I said.
“You’re absolutely right.” Mira said, looking at me aggravatedly as she walked over. “Do you have any idea what you’ve done? What kind of danger you just put yourself in? What you’re putting Connelly through because of your stupidity?” she said, her eyes full of hatred for me.