Sebastian’s head tilted to the side and his nose brushed mine, and I knew I was breathing then, because I sucked in a shallow breath. Was he going to kiss me? Harder this time? Deeper?
He suddenly jerked his head back, and before I knew what was happening, I was on my butt, in the grass beside him. We weren’t touching anymore. I started to speak, to say what, I don’t know. My brain had completely stopped working.
And then it struck me—what had happened.
Sebastian hadn’t kissed me.
I kissed him.
I kissed him and...and for the tiniest moment in the history of all histories...I thought he was going to kiss me back. That was how it felt.
But he hadn’t.
He’d dumped me onto the grass beside him.
Oh my God, what had I done?
My heart lodged somewhere in my throat as a thousand thoughts rushed through me all at once. I opened my mouth even though I had no idea what to say.
Sebastian jumped to his feet, his face pale and jaw hard. “Hell. I’m sorry.”
I snapped my mouth shut. Had he just apologized for me kissing him?
He swiped his hat off the ground and pulled it down on his head. He wasn’t looking at me as he took a step back. “That wasn’t—It wasn’t supposed to happen, right?”
Slowly, I lifted my gaze to his. Was he seriously asking me that? I had no answer, because it wasn’t like my lips had slipped and fallen on his. Drawing in a shallow, burning breath, I focused on the bright green grass. My fingers curled into the blades as his words sank in.
A sharp slice of pain lit up the center of my chest, flowing into my stomach like a thick oil spill, coating my insides.
“I, uh, I forgot I’m supposed to meet up with Coach before dinner,” he said, turning sideways. “We’ve got to head back.”
That was a lie.
It had to be.
He wanted to escape. I wasn’t stupid, but damn, that hurt, because I couldn’t remember a time when he’d ever wanted to run away from me.
The pain in my chest moved up my throat, choking me. A prickly heat hit my face as deep-rooted embarrassment welled up.
I was going to face-plant in the lake and just let myself sink under.
Numbly, I pushed to my feet and wiped the grass off my shorts. We didn’t speak on the way back to the Jeep, and oh God, I wanted to cry. The back of my throat burned. My eyes stung. It took all my willpower not to break down right there, and my heart ached in a way that was far too real for it not to have cracked open.
Once inside, I buckled myself in and focused on taking deep, even breaths. I just needed to hold it together until I got home. That was all I needed to do. Once I got there, I could curl up in bed and sob like an angry baby.
Sebastian turned the Jeep on and the engine rumbled to life. The radio kicked in, a low hum of words I couldn’t make out.
“We’re...we’re okay, right?” he asked, his voice strained.
“Yeah,” I said hoarsely, and cleared my throat. “Of course.”
Sebastian didn’t respond, and for a few seconds I could feel his gaze on me. I didn’t look at him. I couldn’t, because there was a good chance I would start crying.
He shifted the Jeep into Drive and pulled off onto the road.
What in the world had I been thinking? Never once had I acted on anything I felt for Sebastian. For the most part, I played it cool. But now I’d kissed him.
I wanted to rewind time.
I wanted to rewind time to feel those brief seconds again because I was never going to get the chance to feel that again.
I wanted to rewind time and not kiss him, because it had been a big, huge mistake.
I knew that our friendship, our relationship, would never be the same.
* * *
By Wednesday morning, my temples ached and my eyes hurt, but I actually hadn’t cried yet. I thought I would, especially when I’d barely been able to force down the bread-and-onion-filled meatballs at dinner last night. Mom had noticed, but I sidestepped her questions by saying I wasn’t feeling well after the early practice in the morning. Later I couldn’t even read. I just lay in bed, curled on my side, and stared at the balcony doors, pathetically waiting for him to show up, for him to text—for something. Anything. And there was nothing.
Normally that wouldn’t have been a big deal. We didn’t talk every day during the summer. But after what had happened at the lake? It was different.
The burning in my throat and the stinging in my eyes were there, but the tears never fell. Sometime in the middle of the night, I realized I hadn’t cried since...since everything with Dad. Somehow that made me want to cry even more. Why couldn’t I let myself cry?
All I managed to do was give myself one hell of a headache.
Thank God I didn’t have practice on Thursday, because I would’ve ended up with another well-deserved lecture. After Mom left, I crawled back in bed and stared at the cracked ceiling, replaying everything from the lake, right up to the moment things went south.
The moment I kissed Sebastian.
Part of me wanted to just pretend it didn’t happen. That had worked before.
I still pretended my Dad didn’t exist.
But when I woke up on Thursday morning after no late-night visits from Sebastian and no missed texts, I knew I had to talk to someone. I didn’t know what to do or how to handle this, and it wasn’t likely to suddenly come to me. So I’d texted the girls that morning, saying I needed to talk to them. I knew they’d understand the urgency when they saw I didn’t give a reason.
Abbi and Megan came as soon as they could, and I knew Dary would’ve, too, if she’d been in town.
Megan sat on my bed, her long legs tucked under her and her blond hair loose, falling over her shoulders. Abbi was in my computer chair, looking like me—like she just rolled out of bed and grabbed a pair of oversize sweats and a tank top.
I’d already given them the rundown of what had happened, assisted by the package of Oreos Megan had brought along. I may have eaten three or five while I talked. Okay, ten. Even so, I was still planning on murdering the leftover spaghetti and meatballs after they left.
“I just want to say, I’ve always known you had a crush on Sebastian,” Megan announced.
I opened my mouth, not sure how her weekly lecture about finding my future baby daddy could have anything to do with me having a crush on Sebastian.
Megan continued, “Since I’ve suspected you’ve had a huge obsession with him for a while now, I kept giving you my weekly lecture in hopes you’d admit it.”
I did not understand her thought process. At all.
“Obviously, I guessed it, too,” Abbi said. “I mean, the last we talked, I even said something.”
“It’s no big surprise you broke up with Andre,” Megan added. “You wanted to really, really like Andre, but you couldn’t, because you really, really like Sebastian.”
True. I had wanted to really like Andre, and I had liked him. It just... My heart wasn’t there, and it was probably the dumbest reason ever for sleeping with him, but I thought that if we took our relationship to the next level, then maybe it would change how I felt. It hadn’t and that had been the wake-up call to end the relationship.
I started walking back and forth in front of the closet. “Why didn’t you guys say something if it was that obvious?”
“Figured you didn’t want to talk about it,” Megan said with a shrug.
Abbi nodded. “You don’t like to talk about anything, really.”
I wanted to deny that, but...it was true. So damn true. I was the same way with Sebastian. I was a listener, not a talker. I could spend hours thinking about something but never giving voice to any of the thoughts.
“But let’s move past that for now. I’m so confused,” Megan said. “You said he made this noise—and I know what kind of noise you’re talking about. And that he held you. Kind of sounds like he was into it.”
My hands opened and closed at my sides. Full of restlessness, I continued to pace in front of my bed. “I don’t get it either. I mean, I really don’t know what I was thinking. Everything was fine. He was being his normal self and we were fooling around—”
“Fooling around?” Megan asked, and when I shot her a look, she threw up her hands. “Look, I’m just trying to make sure I have the full picture here.”