He broke our locked gaze. “I’ve never really known why,” he spoke after a pause.
“Why I hate you so much. You’re beautiful and bubbly and lovely and I hate you.”
Smiling to myself, I traced my fingers across his jawline, lifting his chin back up so our two shades of blue locked once more.
“You hate me because you can never have me.”
S let out a small sigh of a giggle, “we both know that isn’t true.”
I moved in closer to him. S had such a bright face. Bright sky eyes framed with unkempt silken chocolate and a white smile genuine and harsh all at once.
“Isn’t it though? I loved you with every existing inch of my heart, and you brushed me away. Not because you didn’t love me too, because you can’t stand the sight of me. I am free and cunning and attractive and spunky and so full of life. I am everything you’re not.” I leaned in, brushed my lips against his ear and felt the chocolate tickle my cheek. I whispered: “here I am standing, you can look at me and want me but you can never touch me.”
S pulled back and his eyes flashed with stripes of anger. I half expected him to keel over in tears, half expected him to slap me. He did neither. I felt his arms wrap around my little waist, and suddenly his lips were on mine. It was unexpected and inappropriate and everything I ever wanted. I felt myself give, love flowing out of my mouth and fingertips and sparkling all over his body. I felt S give nothing. He really did hate me.
Tears of rage filled my eyes. I wanted to shove him off, to punch him, scream for him never to speak to me again. But I couldn’t. I needed the moment. His lips and hands on my waist and pulsing breath wrote poetry to me, answering every question I’d ever had about what having S would be like. The experience filled my heart and drained my head, and there was little oxygen that high up to where I couldn’t breath.
Then S’s hand went up to the nape of my neck, tangling his fingers in my hair. Just like how Hayden kissed me. The black-haired image gave me strength, the anchor to pull me out of the high that had taken me over. Thrusting my hands against S’s chest, I ripped myself away from him. S turned away before I could catch his expression.
“How dare you.” My voice was gray and full of thunder.
S shrugged. “I wasn’t stopping you from leaving, you’re the one who kept it going.”
I tried to shake the clouds from my head, but I was so turned around. “Why the hell did you do that?”
“I wanted to know what it was like.”
The fury coursing through my veins began to quell. S was the same as I. We wanted each other just as much as we were repulsed by each other.
He left without another word.
I left the dance studio without really realizing it. The situation that had unfolded in there had boggled me into a daze. I had touched K without really feeling her at all. I knew what she had meant now.
The tingle of her lips remained on my skin, despite the fact that I had felt no sparks. It had been such a strange sensation, as though I was giving and she was not.
I turned the corner to where the studio lockers lay, their meeting forming the mini hallway where I could take refuge from everything but my swirling thoughts. I had kissed K. And more importantly, K had kissed me back, if only for a short time. I hated her and I loved her and I wished that she didn’t exist. And tomorrow I be forced to dance with her.
Shit. How could I possibly dance with her? My legs would shake and her hands would quiver and every single person in that auditorium would know what had happened. The electricity would be too strong. I could always call in sick, but that would give her the automatic victory. That would let her win.
I laughed to myself. All of that and I was still concerned with who “won.” Hadn’t she already won? Hadn’t I given her the victory she craved when I kissed her? Maybe not. Maybe if I pretended that I never happened and if I go back to lying to my friends and sneering at her in the hallways she wouldn’t have truly won. I could still win if she thought she had lost.
Running my fingers through my hair, I pushed my head back against the wall at my internal struggle. I needed to go home.
I stopped my car next to the gym owner’s office, since I could see the team having a meeting before they were released. Hayden strolled out of the office, worn out and sweaty as usual. He gave me his usual happy-go-lucky smile and wave, I guess he couldn’t see the estranged terror etched into my face through the windshield.
“Hello, love,” he said as he climbed into the passenger seat.
“Hi.” Still nothing out of the ordinary, couldn’t he smell the cologne on me?
“How did your dance rehearsal go?”
“Fine,” I evaded giving more details with “how was your lacrosse practice?”
“My knee is acting up again.”
“I’m sorry.” My voice cracked, I choked on the words. Hayden noticed this time. His arm wrapped around mine, and he kissed the top of my head. His voice lowered several pitches and he kept his head bent to mine, asking me what was wrong. My heart tore in half. I loved him so much, so which was worse? I wanted to hide the truth, to protect him from the pain. He didn’t deserve to hear the awful thing I had done. But could I really leave him in the dark? After all the honesty, all the tears and smiles, all of the violet nights and periwinkle days, and the walks on the beach and the fancy restaurants? Could I let him live a lie?
“S kissed me,” I blurted out before my mind could debate any further. Hayden froze.
“We were practicing and we started talking and things got bad, we were both angry and then he just kissed me. And for a moment I kissed him back.” He looked so hurt. “But I love you. I love you and not him. He’s mean and cocky and awful and terrible and I hate him.”
“Did you… Feel anything when he kissed you?”
It felt good to be able to be blatantly honest: “From him? No.”
S was parked next to us, unnoticed until that moment. I didn’t know how much he had heard through our opened windows, but it was enough to make him duck his head and drive off into the evening.