What do I do?
She felt the strength of his hands, wrapped firmly around the small of her back. She wanted to pull away at first, but as he held her firmly against him, but the desire to part from him melted away. It wasn’t as if he were gripping her too tightly so that she couldn’t move; but that her body wouldn’t move. She was transfixed by his gaze and the obvious intent to call her bluff. She looked sheepishly back over her shoulder.
His mom’s seeing all of this…
“That’s right. She’s looking…” He smiled. “You can give up any time now, Mike… Say you’ll stop, and I’ll stop…”
“You wouldn’t…” She whispered. “You don’t have the balls to kiss me…”
She felt herself mouthing the words, but she didn’t mean any of it. She hoped silently that he wouldn’t see through her –that he wouldn’t see how much he was affecting her. She fought with all her strength to keep still, lest her body tremble against his.
He leaned even closer. Mike shifted in his embrace, but did not pull back. Her lips parted, revealing a wicked smile underneath. “You won’t…”
She hoped desperately that he would back away on his own. Close to him like this, she was powerless against the feelings surging in her chest. Was she challenging him because she wanted him to kiss her?
Oh God… I don’t know… I wa—
His lips touched hers, and electricity shot through her entire being. Her hands moved on their own, squeezing his upper arms as they kissed. Her heart was racing and she felt as though it would burst if he were to stop. She was embarrassed and excited at the same time. She realized that she’d provoked this entire exchange by not backing down.
Did I want him to kiss me?
She closed her eyes, squeezing his arms and tilting her head as she kissed back. His embrace was not too rough and once he committed to it, it wasn’t sheepish, either. It was perfect. She felt an involuntary shiver where his hands touched the small of her back, and she found herself arching it as he kissed her, pressing herself closer to him.
Stop this, Mike… You’re going too far…
She didn’t stop. She found her hands moving up his arms and neck to his face as she continued to kiss him.
Please stop this… Paris… Don’t let me do this…
She tangled her fingers in the loose curls around his ears, clutching the sides of his head. Her breathing became slow and heavy as she got lost in her own emotions. Paris kissed back with eager tenderness, and she felt as though she was powerless against her own feelings.
Paris pulled away from her. Perhaps he sensed her growing apprehension. Eyes of concern stared back at her as she realized there were tears streaming down her cheeks. Flushed with embarrassment, she tried to look away.
“I’m so sorry... I think we went a little too far…”
His words snapped her attention back to him. Paris looked as if he was horrified at his own actions. Ever the gentleman, she could tell instantly he felt as though he’d overstepped some invisible line.
“Don’t you dare…” She stammered weakly. “Don’t you dare apologize to me… I was there, too…”
Her legs felt wobbly again and she tried in vain to catch her breath. She was glad that he held onto her –she didn’t feel like she could stand on her own at that moment.
Paris started to pull away from her in his embarrassment. She inhaled sharply and grabbed his arms, stopping him. “Don’t let go of me.” She protested.
She wiped away the tears from her eyes, quickly, hoping to regain some small measure of her composure. “That was… unexpected…”
“You’ve gotta gift for understatement…” He replied.
She looked up at him while still holding on to his arms. “I’m sorry…” She added. “I didn’t mean for things to go this far… I guess we’re going to have some explaining to do with your Mom…”
“It’s too late for that. By now, half of San Diego knows… I guess we both let ourselves get carried away.”
He relaxed his grip slowly, taking great care to let her get her feet under her properly. He still looked worried when they finally broke apart.
She mulled over what to say to him. So much had changed so quickly that she was at a loss for anything to say.
I want to kiss him again…
The realization startled her. Before either of them knew what happened, she raised herself on her tip toes, and kissed him full on the lips. Paris didn’t have time to react, but the instant her lips touched his, he responded. Indeed the feel of his kiss was as sweet as the first, and she held onto the moment as long as she could. They parted slowly, looking at each other in mild astonishment.
“It wasn't a mistake… I wanted more than anything for you to kiss me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.” She admitted.
Paris looked stunned. “Since when?” He asked.
Mike lowered her head when she spoke, still clinging to him fiercely. “The mall… That whole day was special. I liked feeling like I had you all to myself. You made me forget everything and I don’t want that feeling to go away. It isn’t so confusing when I’m with you. When you’re not here, I get scared that I won’t have you. So I did it. I was hoping that you would see through me so I wouldn’t have to say it out loud.”
The words surprised her coming out, and she felt her cheeks flush with newfound embarrassment.
“Mike…” He said quietly. She put her hand on his chest, stopping him from saying anything further.
“—I wasn't calling your bluff, you know. I wasn’t faking. I wanted to kiss you so I pushed for this without thinking. At that moment I didn’t want anything else… I closed my eyes and kissed back because I wanted to...”
Paris looked at her in stunned silence. She continued, unashamed.
“I’m afraid… I look at you and I see my friend, who I’ve always known and loved, but I have these feelings now –and I can’t let go of them. I don’t know if I can be a girlfriend, but I won’t give you to anyone. I don’t want to share you with anyone else. I did it and I didn’t think about how it would make us feel afterwards. Now I can’t take it back, and I don’t want to lose you, but I don’t know what to do now because it’s too late to take it back –“
He caressed the side of her face and pressed a finger against her lips to stifle her outburst.
“Mike, stop talking...” He said, softly cutting her off. He lifted her head with his finger and kissed her again, halting her in mid sentence. His lips were tender and soft, while at the same time she felt that nothing could break his grip.
“You just caught me by surprise, Mike –that’s all. I honestly didn’t think that you felt that way about me.” Paris had a way of cutting her off that was commanding and sweet at the same time. His voice soothed her, and his presence had a way of making her take notice of him as if he was the only one there.
“I thought… I just thought I was in the friend zone… that’s all.”
She nodded mutely. Outwardly she was embarrassed that she’d let her emotions get away from her again. Inwardly, she was happy that he stopped her. With Paris, she didn’t feel so out of control when it came to dealing with the conflicting thoughts and feelings inside her. She found herself clutching his hand tightly in her own, without remembering having done so.
Holding hands, the two of them began to walk slowly down the sidewalk towards her house. Each step taken seemed to bring out more anxiety as if she were literally stepping into her own future. He held her hand firmly while they walked together.
“I’m scared.” She said. “I don’t know what to do or how I should be.”
“Are you kidding?” He replied. “I’m the one that should be terrified… You’re whole family’s gonna kill me.”
She squeezed his hand involuntarily at the thought of telling them what happened. “Can we please not tell them? …Not yet… I don’t think I could face them, yet. I can’t even look you in the eyes right now…”
“All right... But you tell me what it is that you want, Mike… ” He said. “You have to tell me clearly what the boundaries are, and what you want, or else I’m just flying blind.”
When he asked her this, she began to tremble all over. Her hands felt clammy and she balked at the thought of saying it aloud. “It’s too embarrassing…”
“Look at me…” He said.
It startled her that his voice had such an effect on her. She did as he asked and looked up at him. Paris seemed even taller now, but her anxiety slipped silently away from her upon looking at his face.
“Tell me what you want, Mike…” He said.
“Hold my hand …when I need it” She said quietly.
“Is that all?” He asked.
She looked to the side out of embarrassment. He squeezed her hand, urging her silently not to look away. She turned back to him.
“Is that all?” He asked again.
“…You’re making this so hard.” She said in duress.
“Is that all, Mike?” He asked again, not letting her squirm out of it.
“Kiss me…” She blurted out. “Please don’t make me say anything else. That’s all I can do… I’m not even sure I can do that…”
Paris kindly relented, smiling. “I don’t think we need to go any further than that.”
Without warning, her legs came to a complete standstill. She let out a heavy breath, still trembling and with a voice that sounded small and thin, looked down and said to him:
“Please... don’t hurt me…-"
Paris turned to look down at her, quizzically raising an eyebrow. She felt his eyes on her, but was unable to meet his gaze at that moment. She was not used to having to admit to her own frailties, but now faced with the reality and prospect of love, she did her best to speak openly.
"I know you wouldn’t do that on purpose-- but I’m not steady… I don’t know what I’m doing and I don’t have any confidence as a girl."
Somehow she managed to look up at him. She knew that she needed to look at him in order to convey the weight of her feelings. More than anything, she needed him to understand she wasn't playing a game with him. When her eyes met his, she could see his look of concern and it made her feel confident enough to continue.
"I’m afraid I’m going to mess this up… Dr. Rigby says I should try to stay true to my feelings. I tried to hold them back but I couldn't stop thinking of that other girl the other day. The thought of you with someone else --I don't like it at all. I tried to hold back, but when you came close to me, I couldn't think of anything else. But now that it's out-- I'm afraid of losing you... God, this is so hard... Please... Please don’t laugh at my feelings. I couldn’t take it if it came from you…”
When the words finished spilling out, she waited. It felt as though each second was like an hour. Paris's eyes never wavered from hers.
He hugged her tightly and she closed her eyes. She couldn’t stop shaking, but Paris was warm and steady. He seemed to know she didn’t want him to say anything, so he held on until her trembling stopped. When she finally got herself under control, he smiled and said nothing, offering his arm. She took it and the two of them walked home together in blissful silence.