Sixteen kisses a novella, p.6
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       Sixteen Kisses: A novella, p.6

           Kelly Oram
 
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  A stern voice snapped me out of the moment. “That’s enough. Break it up.”

  We pulled apart, gasping for breath, and turned to the teacher frowning at us. I didn’t know him, and he was already writing out detention slips. “No more inappropriate displays of affection, you two. Detention is right after school in the theater.”

  I sighed as the teacher walked away, leaving Dom and me with one last disapproving frown. Dom turned to me with a smug smile. “I told you it’d be hot.”

  There was no denying that, so I nodded, accepting the truth. “Definitely hot.” Then I smacked his arm. “You got us detention.”

  “Worth it. Besides, detention could be really fun now.”

  Dom wriggled his eyebrows at me, grinning wickedly. I groaned and shoved him. “Stop. Don’t make it weird.”

  Laughing, he slid his arm around my waist. “Happy birthday, Cass. Lunch is on me today.”

  “Sweet. I want pizza.”

  “You got it.” He plopped a quick kiss on my head, then disappeared into the cafeteria.

  As soon as he left, another arm fell around my shoulders. Eli propelled me forward into the cafeteria. The look he shot me both annoyed me and made me blush. “So, you and Dom, huh?”

  “No.”

  “You sure? Because it really looked like you guys—”

  “We’re just friends.”

  “Does Dominic know that?” Jared muttered behind me.

  I was so embarrassed that I lost my temper and glared over my shoulder. “We’re just friends.”

  I felt bad for snapping at Jared until he held his hands up in surrender and laughed. “All right, Little Cass. All right. Believe me, I’m not complaining about that.”

  I stumbled to a stop, cheeks flaming and eyes popping out of my head. That was flirting. Blatant flirting. Seeing my shock, Jared laughed again. “I’ll see you after school,” he said, and left me with a parting wink.

  As I stood there, watching him stride confidently across the cafeteria to his normal seat with my brother and their senior friends, Eli let out a low whistle. “So…definitely not Dom, then.”

  My shoulders hunched. The embarrassment was never-ending today. “Shut up, Eli.”

  Eli laughed. “It’s cool, Cass. He’s an all right guy.”

  I was so surprised by Eli’s easy acceptance that I forgot to deny his accusation. Or maybe I didn’t deny it because I didn’t want to. Then again, maybe I was just too shocked by this whole situation, and I simply couldn’t keep up anymore.

  “How come he didn’t kiss you? You already reach sixteen?”

  I didn’t realize Eli was talking again until he elbowed me. “What?” I asked.

  “Jared,” He said. “The guy’s clearly interested. How come he hasn’t kissed you? He’s got the perfect excuse. Unless you already got all sixteen of your kisses.”

  He hadn’t kissed me because I’d been an idiot and told him no when he’d offered. Not that I was going to explain that to Eli. I shook my head. “Dom makes seven.”

  “Seven.” Eli nodded. “Not bad. All that kissing worked up an appetite yet?”

  Grateful for the change in subject, I flashed Eli a wide grin. “I’m starving. Dom’s getting me birthday pizza.”

  Eli’s jaw dropped. “What? I said I was going to buy you lunch for your birthday! That jerk stole my idea!”

  “Nice.” That was so Dom. I felt bad for Eli, though, so I said, “Well, there’s still the chocolate pudding to think of. I can’t have birthday pizza without chocolate pudding.”

  Eli laughed. “Very true. Birthday pizza without cafeteria pudding would be a tragedy. I’m on it, birthday girl.”

  Aw, my friends were seriously the coolest. “Awesome. Thanks.”

  “You’re welcome.”

  Before taking off for the lunch line, he surprised me with a quick peck to my lips even though he’d told me earlier he wasn’t interested. At my questioning look, he shrugged. “Couldn’t resist. Halfway there, Cass. Happy birthday.”

  Half my lunch break was gone and I had detention, but I had free lunch and was surrounded by the best friends in the world. Life was good. Still, as I sat there joking with my friends about my crazy day, my attention kept drifting across the cafeteria to Jared. I was surprisingly disappointed that he hadn’t joined me for lunch even though he’d never sat with me at lunch before.

  I pulled my gaze away from him, and back to my food, when a chocolate Hostess cupcake on a napkin was placed in front of me. Kolby, who was sitting directly across the long rectangular lunch table from me, was still pouting, but gave me a grudging smile and said, “You can’t have a birthday lunch from your friends without cake. And because you’re the coolest friend I have…”

  Kolby stuffed a candle in the top of the cupcake, and lit it with a lighter. I was shocked. Lighters were big time no-nos at our school. Seeing my surprise, Kolby’s pout turned into a real smile and he said, “I’ll even risk suspension so that you can make a wish.”

  As he lit the candle, my chest tightened up. Seriously, it was a stupid vending machine cupcake and I was about to cry over it. Selena, on my left, and Victoria, on my right, both put their arms around me and led our group in the Happy Birthday song. When they finished and it was time to make my wish, my eyes flicked across the room again. Jared was already looking my direction, and caught me glancing his way.

  I was so busted. Jared totally knew what I was thinking. I knew he did, because his lips quirked up into the tiniest, almost secretive smile. Blushing, I quickly looked back to my cupcake and blew out my candle. My wish didn’t change, even though Jared knew exactly what it was.

  Everyone cheered, and I was turned into a Cassie sandwich as Selena and Victoria each kissed me on my cheeks. “That’s nine and ten!” Rylin said. “Only six more to go.”

  As I waited out my best friends’ sloppy cheek kisses, I met Kolby’s eyes across the table. He stuck his bottom lip out and gave me the most pathetic puppy-dog eyes I’ve ever seen.

  I cracked. The poor guy. I’d been so mean to him all day, and he’d turned around and risked suspension for me. I loved the moron. I truly did. I had no desire to kiss him, but he’d earned it. “Oh, all right. You win, you big baby. Kiss me.”

  I stood up and leaned over the table, puckering my lips. Kolby’s face lit up and he let out a whoop when he realized he had my permission. “Oh, hell yes!”

  I expected antics of some kind—this was Kolby, after all. I did not, however, expect him to climb over the table, push Selena out of the way, plop down backwards onto the bench next to me and pull me into his freaking lap.

  “What the—Kolby!”

  “Are you ready to have your world rocked, baby?”

  I was not the only person to laugh at this, just the only one lucky enough to get Kolby Sanderson’s tongue in my mouth. He didn’t give me any warning, and his mouth was on mine so fast it made me dizzy. Then he kissed the crap out of me. When his hand dropped and lightly brushed against the side of my chest, I returned the gesture by giving him the world’s biggest titty twister. He let go of me with a yelp and grabbed his sore nipple.

  “What the hell, Sanderson?” I climbed to my feet and wiped my face, glaring at him. “I said a kiss. Not a whole freaking make-out session. And don’t even try to pretend that boob graze was accidental!”

  “What?” Kolby gasped as if offended. “I can’t believe you think I would—” He laughed at the look on my face, and quickly caved. “Okay, fine. Maybe there was a slight graze. Barely. But, come on, we both know you’re never going to let me kiss you again. It was my one opportunity. I had to make it count.”

  I snorted. “Mission accomplished, jerk. You ever even think about touching my boob again and I will email that video I have of you from the fifth grade to the entire school.”

  Kolby’s eyes narrowed. “You wouldn’t.”

  “Don’t think so?”

  Kolby went through an imaginary girlfriend phase in fifth grade. I have a picni
c he had with his “date” caught on camera. He feeds her strawberries and everything, but the kissing part is my favorite. He swore me to secrecy years ago, but it’s always made excellent blackmail material.

  Kolby held up his hands in surrender. “Fine. The boobs are off limits from now on.”

  My brother appeared from out of nowhere. “Damn right they are. Don’t ever touch my sister’s chest again. Don’t ever look at it. Don’t ever even think about her like that, or I’ll kill you, bro.”

  I slapped my hands over my face. My brother did not just talk about my chest. “Oh, my gosh, Ben. I can handle myself.”

  He frowned at me. “So I’ve heard. Is there anyone in this school you haven’t kissed yet?”

  Was he seriously harping on me for the kissing? It wasn’t even my fault. It was his friend who started it, and he himself had been teasing me about it this morning. The jerk gave me breath mints for my birthday, for heaven’s sake. He was so not allowed to get on my case about this. “I haven’t kissed your best friend,” I snapped. “Can you say the same to me?”

  Ben sucked in a sharp breath through flared nostrils and, behind me, Selena choked on her food. Kolby started pounding her back while she coughed. I felt a little bad for outing her. She must have really not wanted anyone to know about her and Ben because she hadn’t even told me what happened between them yesterday. She hadn’t breathed a word about it. Her not giving me the juicy details of her love life was a first.

  But I didn’t technically spill the beans. I just hinted enough to make my brother mad, and it worked like a charm. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he ground out through gritted teeth.

  Standing up straight, I folded my arms over my chest. “Then I don’t know what you’re talking about. There are a hundred guys in this cafeteria I haven’t kissed yet.”

  Before Ben could give me some snarky, macho, overprotective big brother reply, Scott Williamson stepped up beside him and said, “Want to make it ninety-nine?”

  My pulse spiked. Scott Williamson had just offered to kiss me.

  Scott. Freaking. Williamson.

  Scott was…well, he was beautiful. Hot, gorgeous, yummy, drool-worthy. He wasn’t a jock. At least, he didn’t play on any of the school athletic teams. But he obviously worked out. He was going through a program to become a firefighter, and, let me tell you, he’d be the kind of fireman that would make girls set fire to their homes just so that he’d have to come rescue them. He was destined to be on a wall calendar someday. The guy was the most popular guy in school because he was so hot. And he was offering to kiss me.

  “Dude! That’s my little sister.”

  “I know. She’s a little hottie.”

  His eyes came back to me, and he smiled. I sighed. Dreamily. He chuckled and stepped closer. Ben moved closer, too, stepping in Scott’s way. “She’s sixteen.”

  Scott’s smile grew. “I heard.” To me, he said, “It’s your birthday, right?”

  Since I wasn’t capable of producing any coherent words, I simply nodded.

  “Have you gotten all of your birthday kisses yet?”

  I shook my head.

  “Well, honey, it’s your lucky day. You’re cute, and I’m in a charitable mood.”

  I started to grin, and then blinked. Um…excuse me? Did he just call me a charity case? I snapped out of my ogling and realized that his smile wasn’t so much dreamy as condescending. He was hot, but he obviously knew it. That kind of made him less hot.

  “Not happening, Scott,” Ben said. “Her lips are done.”

  “Shut up, Ben. I can speak for myself.”

  I didn’t need some kiss from a guy who thought he was God’s gift to the world and considered kissing me an act of charity. I also didn’t need my brother fighting my battles for me.

  Ben glared at me, misunderstanding my intentions. “You’re done with this game, Cassie. Melissa Videla? Do you have any idea how many guys have been talking about you today? I’m going to have to put you in witness protection after this.”

  “That wasn’t my fault! She kissed me. I didn’t see it coming. That’s been happening all day. People just keep kissing me. If you want to blame someone, blame Jared. He’s the one who gave everybody the idea.”

  Ben threw his head back and groaned. “Whatever. Just sit down and stop making out with people.”

  I wanted to punch him for bossing me around, as if he had a right to tell me what to do, but it wasn’t worth the headache. “With pleasure. I am all kissed out.”

  Truth. After Kolby’s attack, I’d been kissed enough today.

  Scott took my hand before I could sit down. “That’s because you haven’t been kissed by me yet. I saw your last kiss and—” He turned to Kolby with a smug smirk that pissed me off on Kolby’s behalf. “No offense, but you need to up your game. Let a real man show you how it’s supposed to be done.”

  Wow. He was so full of himself. Kolby didn’t say anything—because random sophomores don’t question Scott Williamson—but I could see that Kolby was hurt. He didn’t deserve the insult. Yeah, he’d been a little too overzealous, but the kissing hadn’t really been that bad. Not nearly as horrible as I’d expected it to be, at least. I rolled my eyes at Kolby, letting him know that I wasn’t buying what Scott was shoveling, and was glad to see the corner of his mouth twitch up into a smile.

  I was still having a silent conversation with Kolby when Scott’s arms slipped around my waist. He pulled me close and grinned down at me. “Are you ready for your first real kiss?” Yes, I thought, but I seriously doubt you’re going to give it to me. In fact, I doubted he even knew what a real kiss was.

  “Prepare to be amazed,” he said as he lowered his mouth to mine.

  If this kiss turns out even half as good as Asher Pepin’s, I’ll be shocked.

  As Scott kissed me, with the entire B Lunch crowd watching on, I heard the sighs from all the girls who would have killed to be in my shoes. And then, there was my brother’s disgusted grunt and muttered curse words as he stomped away. I also heard the grumbles from the guys around me who weren’t all that impressed with the show. I had to side with the guys on this one. Not impressive.

  In truth, Scott was super hot, but his kissing skills were lacking. Not that I had a ton of experience, but I’d seen enough action today to get a wide range of kisses. I’d say Scott’s kiss was about a three on a scale of one to ten. Not gross, but less than stellar. It was a little wet, and a little too forceful. Not that he was forcing anything on me; he just wasn’t paying attention to me. He was in his own world, completely oblivious to my physical cues that I wasn’t feeling it, and definitely didn’t want to make this a French kiss. It was like he was just doing his thing and assumed that was all he needed to do.

  Yeah, no thanks.

  He missed my first attempt to end the kiss, so I had to use a little force to pull back. When I did, he was all breathless and his eyes had to refocus. Wherever he’d gone when kissing me that got him so worked up, he hadn’t taken me with him. I got the feeling kissing was kissing for him and the girl was interchangeable.

  Too sure of himself, Scott didn’t notice my lack of enthusiasm. “So how was that?” he asked.

  “It was…” How to answer that question? There was no need to be brutal, humiliate him, or make an enemy. “Enlightening,” I finally said. “Definitely a learning experience. Thank you.”

  Maybe he wasn’t very bright, either, because he didn’t pick up on my sarcasm. “Glad I could help,” he said, with a smile, and then walked back to his lunch table, accepting fist bumps and high-fives from his buddies and winking at girls.

  My friends, however, weren’t so clueless. “Enlightening?” Eli asked, laughter in his voice.

  I shrugged, but cracked a grin. “As in, I just learned the difference between confidence and arrogance. Confidence—sexy as hell. Arrogance—not so much.”

  Selena gasped in a hushed tone as if I’d spoken sacrilege. “Are you saying he’s a bad kisser?


  “I’m not starting that rumor. I’m just saying I can see why he’s between girlfriends. I’m all for the Scott Williamson wall calendar, but I don’t need to sign up to be his girlfriend.”

  “Ooh, a wall calendar,” Selena said with a dreamy sigh while Rylin scoffed. “If you don’t want him, I’ll take him.”

  I grinned at her. “He’s all yours.”

  The rest of lunch, and all of biology, managed to pass blissfully uneventfully. But, as the bell rang at the end of class, my lab partner, Jace, stood up before me, tugged on my hair, pulling my head back, and surprised me with my next kiss. He tasted minty fresh, as if he’d popped a handful of Altoids before he decided to dive-bomb my lips, and I was seriously grateful for the mints my brother had given me this morning. I’d munched like half the container after lunch just to be safe.

  After he ended the kiss, I looked up at him with my driest expression. “Really?”

  Still holding my hair captive, he grinned down at me. “Sorry. I had to. I’ve got a test next hour. I needed the kiss for luck.”

  He let go of my hair and walked me out of the room. “You realize that was my thirteenth kiss, right? Wouldn’t that be bad luck?”

  I laughed at his startled expression, but he quickly buried his superstition and shook his head. “A kiss from Cassie Caldwell has to be good luck no matter what number it is.”

  I snorted. “If you say so. Good luck on the test.”

  “Thanks.”

  As he disappeared down the hall, I called out to him, “It’s not my fault if you fail!”

 
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