November was slowly fizzling out, and I found that I was enjoying myself. I hung out with Sam every night for a few hours or so, and I'd even had Amber over twice. I discovered that we had a great deal in common and thought that we could be great friends. Gill had only tried to talk to me once, asking if Sam and I were dating now; after that, it was like there was a wall separating me from that part of myself.
December was coming up fast, and the whole school was abuzz with talk of the first formal dance of the year: Snowball. I surprised myself, realizing that I was actually looking forward to it.
It had taken me much longer than I thought it would to finish my painting of the pier, now that I had a social life again. It was turning out really well, though. I had one square left to paint, where I was unsure if I should add a boat or not. While Sam was over one Saturday night, I asked him what he thought. He was sitting on my bed, flipping through my iPod while I stared intensely at my easel, strands of hair in my face because they wouldn't stay in my pony-tail.
He pushed himself up and came to stand behind me. "I think you should add a bright yellow yacht."
"Ugh!" I turned to face him. "Not a chance." Before he could stop me, I smeared my paint brush across his face, a dark navy streak on his cheek.
He cocked his eyebrow, eyes narrowing. "You really wanna do that?" Grinning, I sealed my fate by trying to get his other cheek and run, but he caught my wrist and bent it until I dropped the brush in his hand. He now held my paint brush with one hand, and both of my wrists with the other, and smeared paint in a circle around my face, on my nose, under my eyes. The paint was colder than I expected.
I struggled to break free, and succeeded with one hand and grabbed for the brush. "Don't! You're gonna drop it on my carpet!"
"No, I won't," he laughed, but put the brush down all the same. Since somehow he had a grip on both of my wrists again, I stood on my tip toes and tried to rub some of the paint onto his face. "Oh, you did not just try that," he growled. My forehead just barely reached his cheek, but I was still able to get some paint on his face. I grinned, giggling at my small victory, though short-lived.
We wrestled like this for a few more minutes, laughing all the while, until he had me pinned against my one clear wall. We were both breathing hard, but he had barely broken a sweat. "Fine, you win."
He nodded. "I know. And for the record, I think you should keep the waters clear. No yellow yachts."
"Good." I held his gaze for what seemed like forever, trying to catch my breath. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed my clock. "Holy crap," I said. "It's almost eleven. You should probably go soon." He nodded, and I could feel his reluctance to let the moment end. Finally, though, he let go of my wrists and took a step back.
"Get some sleep," I said, hugging him, careful not to get paint on his shirt. Before I even thought about what I was doing, I reached up and kissed him. My initial reaction was shock, and I tried to pull away, but Sam wasn't having any of that. He leaned in and our lips met again.
When Gill was sober, he was a fair kisser. But this, with Sam, was totally new for me. He made my whole body tingle and go numb, burn and feel cold all at the same time. When I finally relaxed, my lips parted, fingers knotted in his hair, holding his head closer to mine while his did the same.
The kiss lasted for a short forever, until Sam pulled away, his hands on my shoulders to put some space between us. He stared at his feet, and I stared at him, my heart pounding. I couldn't find my voice, let alone the words to say. Finally, he looked up at me. His eyes were brighter than I had ever seen them, as if this whole time he hadn't really been alive until this moment in time.
I wanted to say something, but Sam put his finger over my lips to stop me--not that I actually would have been able to speak. I didn't know what to do, or say, and I just stared helplessly at Sam, hoping he could see the question in my eyes. What did this mean?
He cupped my face with his hands and kissed me one more time; this one was less fierce, more sweet. His lips were so soft...
And then, before I could react, he whispered "Good night," kissed my forehead, and was gone.