What kind of present was this? Yes, I knew she liked Brian. Is that why she was here? To break my heart? Some gift.
“But for now, just for tonight, I want you to pretend that he doesn’t exist. I want you to pretend that it’s you and I who are in love.”
My heart went from not beating to pounding hard. I was sure she could hear it because it was making me deaf. Did she just say what I think she did?***
“You want me to pretend we’re in love?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Because your first kiss should be from somebody who loves you.”
Before I could do more than blink, Katie’s lips were on mine. Softly at first. Just a gentle, chaste kiss that left the door cracked with the possibility of more. And there was more. Katie’s mouth met mine and in that moment we fell back on the bed, kissing ferociously. My eyes were blinded by the fireworks going off in my head, and my heart left for cloud nine. When I tentatively wrapped my arms around Katie, she settled in and we kissed the night away.
When Katie left a few hours later, she kissed my cheek on her way out. “Happy Birthday, Billy.”
Kissing Katie like that did weird things to me. I fell in love with her even more, if that was possible. I knew Katie liked someone else, but for all she wanted me to, I just couldn’t find it in myself to want anyone other than her.
When Katie graduated high school and went off to college, we didn’t talk as often. She’d sometimes drop by school and take me to lunch, or come by the house on the weekends and say hello. We’d talk, catch up, and it would be like old times again. Until she left, and then it might be days or even weeks before I’d hear from her.
I knew things were really changing when it was three months that passed before Katie called me one day, out of the blue. She was in town and wanted to go to dinner. I met her at our favorite place and she waved me over to her table. I hadn’t taken three steps before I saw the ring on her finger and froze.
My heart crushed like a beer can. Even though I knew it had to happen someday, I was in no way prepared for it now. In fact, I’d come to dinner in the hopes of asking her if we could be roomies when I graduated high school in a month. There went that idea.
She got up and came over to me, grabbing my hand, and led me back to the table. Once we were seated, she confirmed what I knew. She was engaged to a guy, and wanted me to walk her down the aisle. Not only that, but it was to be in a few months.
“Why the rush?” I asked.
“We don’t see any point in waiting.” She was bubbling over with joy, and I couldn’t refuse her.
With a feeling of stabbing myself in the heart, I agreed to do what she wanted. Katie’s gleeful hug was tighter than any had been since my sixteenth birthday. I was making her happy. Then she turned the subject to me.
“Have you started dating anyone?”
“Not really. I’ve gone out a few times, but it never goes beyond a date or two.”
She saw right through me, in the way she always did. I could see she was both touched and annoyed when she replied.
“Billy, you have to let me go. I’m about to get married. I’m going to be off having a family and making a life. Sure, we’ll be friends. I promise you we will, but you need to make your own life too.”
“Sure, I’ll get right on that.”
“What is it about me, Billy? Ever since we were kids, you’ve held tight to your feelings for me. Have you ever tried letting them go?”
“No.” I looked away, unable to meet her eyes.
Studying the bad art on the wall, I studiously ignored her now.
“Billy, look at me.”
Not wanting to make a scene, I looked. My heart stopped again. She was beautiful, and she was happy. She was getting the life she wanted, while I was ruining her moment.
“I’ll try.” I told her.
“Don’t give me that.”
“I will. Maybe I’ll bring a date to your wedding.”
“Billy, have you ever made love with someone?” The sudden change of subject caught me off guard.
My cheeks instantly flushed crimson. The fact I was eighteen and still a virgin rankled. I’d been saving myself for Katie. I knew it was a wasted notion and all, but still it was my notion and one I held on to. She took my embarrassed silence for an answer. The subject dropped there.
Or so I thought.
It was while was driving me a ride home, when suddenly she turned into the parking lot of a motel.
“Is this where you’re staying?”
Katie ignored me, parked the car in the temporary spot by the registration desk, and then disappeared inside the building without another word. Ten minutes later she was back in the car with an envelope in her hand.
She was silent as she drove around back behind the motel, then parked.
“Come with me,” she ordered, her voice breaking on the last word.
I did as I was told, and got out of the car. She then took me by then hand and led me to a room. Producing a key card from the envelope, she used it to open the door, then pulled me inside. I was thoroughly confused.
“Damn you, Billy! Why did you have to do this?”
“Do what?” My confusion was growing by the second.
© 2016, Tim Hillebrant. All rights reserved.
The author has granted WritersCarnival.ca, its affiliates and syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.