“Hey, are you uh, ready to go?” I asked. I was about to go to lunch with Lex and I was still pretty sure this was some kind of crazy dream I would wake from.
“Yeah. Let’s go.” He said.
We walked into the cafeteria before he said anything in response to my explanation of Sloane’s behavior and my curiosity. Walking in the loud crowded room of students gossiping about the latest and guys pushing and shoving in the lunch line all seemed to come to a stop as we were spotted together. I immediately noticed Brittany and her clan of witches sitting closest to the exit. They always sat there so they could be the first in and out of the lunchroom.
I tried not to overheat from the embarrassment of being stared at like a zoo animal. I told Lex to head for the exit that led to the school garden. That was Sloane’s and my spot and I almost felt like I was betraying my best friend for ditching her but I knew she’d understand.
Lex nodded and we headed for the exit only to be blocked by Brittany as she stepped right in front of Lex. She didn’t look pleased as she stood there with her arms folded tightly across her chest. Her knuckles were white from digging her fingers in her arms with rage.
“What do you think you’re doing, Lex? Why are you with…her?” She spat the last word out in disgust as if he were trolling around the school with a stray dog. I felt like I didn’t need to be here for this conversation and thought I’d much rather wait for him outside.
I put my hands up, like the complete dork that I am, and said, “Hey, I really don’t need to stick around for this, ok. I’ll wait for you outside, Lex.” I began to walk passed Brittany for the exit and felt Lex’s cool strong hand grab hold of my elbow. I looked at him with a bit of shock and he shook his head.
“Don’t worry Lydia. This won’t take long.” He looked at Brittany and before he said a word to her, he slid his hand down from my elbow to my hand, folding it into mine. I thought I might just die right there in front of everyone. I forced myself to stay upright in fear of my knees giving out on me. Ok Lydia, keep cool, don’t make yourself look like a complete fucktard.
Lex tightened his grip on my hand and said, “Brittany, get over yourself. We are done. We’ve been done. What I do and with who is none of your damn business. Now get the hell out of the way and lay off, is that clear enough for you?” He looked like he wanted to shove her out of the way himself and honestly, I wouldn’t blame him if he did.
Brittany put her hands on her hips and said, “I’m just trying to save you from the social sabotage you’re about to commit. I mean, look at her, she’s ridiculous.” She spoke about me like I wasn’t even standing a foot away from her. Bitch!
“Why don’t you go take a good look at yourself, Brittany. You’re an ugly person. You’re mean and cruel and all that makeup will never hide that. Now get the hell out of the way.” He demanded.
I was shocked that Lex Gordon was actually here beside me, holding my hand, and standing up for me. This was my first real knight and shining armor experience and I could get used to it. Lex started walking passed Brittany, with me closely behind him, Brittany slightly moved to the side with an expression of someone who’s life just came down in shambles.
Once we were outside, Lex let go of my hand and I was wondering if he only held it to make Brittany jealous. He walked over to the bench by the flowerbed and I followed close behind. I felt uneasiness in the air around us and I wasn’t sure if it was his silence and weird behavior or my nerves.
As Lex sat down he patted the empty space next to him. I awkwardly sat down with my back stiff straight. This was all new territory and I sort of wanted to get this over with before I embarrassed myself far beyond saving.
I watched him as he looked down at his hands, those strong hands of his that just held on to mine just moments before. He let out a breath and looked at me with what seemed to be fear, but fear from what? He placed his hand over mine and held it in a way that someone would when they needed strength; at least that’s what I knew from my trusty romance novels and chick flicks. What do I know about this kind of stuff anyway? I shushed my thoughts just in time to hear Lex speak.
“I’m sure you’re confused and I hope you can see that I don’t care about what people think and…. Well, I like you.” I must have heard him wrong and I couldn’t force my lips to move. Lex Gordon actually likes a nobody like me? I didn’t even know he knew I existed. This person, this very handsome and sweet guy didn’t seem like the Lex from just a week ago. We passed each other in the halls of this school for the past two years and he never even looked my way. I, however, noticed him on many occasions. He acted like an arrogant jerk to pretty much everyone, even Brittany. There was just something about him that really intrigued me, perhaps I always knew there was a different side of him and I guess he chose to show this side to me, but why?
“Um, Lydia? Are you going to say something or are you going to just stare off into space?” He smiled and I couldn’t help but do the same. I could see so much warmth in his expression and it made me feel safe and comfortable.
“I’m sorry, I guess I was lost in thought. I’m not really sure what to say exactly. I honestly didn’t know you knew who I was. Why did you think you had to make up some story about a note just to talk to me? I mean, you’re Lex Gordon, all the girls talk to you without you having to do much.” I immediately cursed myself for what I just said. I didn’t want him to think I would be one of those girls.
Lex is really the only guy I ever liked. I never thought about boys much, besides them being annoying and gross most of the time. Lex just seemed so different from all the rest. He was smart, although he didn’t attend school very much. I overheard a couple of girls from one of his classes saying how the teacher had singled him out but he knew every answer to every question thrown his way. He always has this confidence radiating from him whenever I saw him and in truth, I envied him just a bit. I wish I were that confident.
“Hey, I know we’ve never spoken before but believe me, I noticed you long before this morning. I’ve seen you plenty of times. I know that you keep to yourself and that you only hang with Sloane. I also know that you hold your books close to your chest and you’re always looking down when you walk. I always wondered why you never held your head high, like you’re hiding from something. You’re beautiful and you should never hide by looking to the ground.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I didn’t have the heart to tell him my plans of confessing my feelings for him. I still wasn’t sure I wanted to tell him. I know I woke up with the intent to tell him but being here in this moment with him right in front of me was just too much for me to handle.
I asked the only thing that came to mind at that moment.
“What about Brittany?” He looked at me with confusion.
“Um, were you back there when I told her we were done?”
“Yes, but you two were together for a long time. Don’t you still feel anything for her? Even just a little?” I know I’m not an expert in the love department but they were together for almost a year. Doesn’t that count for something?
“Brittany and I were never meant to stay together. She didn’t care about anything but making the whole school think we were some kind of celebrity couple. I don’t care about popularity and well, everyone knows she does. Hearing her talk about clothes and all the money her parents have got really boring way too quickly. I would be lying if I said we didn’t have fun or that I never cared for her. I just don’t find myself into playing her role anymore. I don’t think Brittany ever even asked me what I wanted. I guess you can say we were just riding the wave and I fell off first.”
“I guess I can understand that. I just…. Well, you seem totally different from your usual self. I, uh—”
“Lydia? How do you know who my usual self is if you’ve never gotten the chance to really know me?”
“I suppose you’re right. So…. Um, what now then?” Nice, Lydia. You couldn’t come up with something better than that?
Lex chuckled and took his phone out from his back pocket.
“Why don’t we start by you putting your number in my phone.” I did as he said and he dialed it so I could save his.
We both got up as the bell rang and I wished we had more time to talk. Well, not that I did much talking but I could definitely listen to him for a bit longer. Lex towered over me and I felt the urge to put my arms around him.
“So, can I expect to hear from you later?” He closed the space between us and brought his hand up to my face and tucked a wild curl behind my ear. I was frozen solid despite the sunshine beaming down on us. Lex brought his face down to mine and I could feel myself get weaker. I closed my eyes as I took in his scent and it made me think of inhaling fresh clean air, laying in a clearing, surrounded by tall beautiful trees. There was something so earthy to his scent and I found myself enjoying it way too much as I remembered him closing in on me. I sent a silent prayer to the universe that my first kiss would not happen here and not a second later, he planted his lips right on my cheek.
The minute he withdrew his lips, my hand reacted like a magnet and glued itself to my face as if to protect it.
Lex smiled down at me and nodded his head to someone behind me. I turned around to find my very annoyed looking bestie standing with her arms crossed about twenty feet away.
Realizing my hand was still resting on my cheek, I quickly dropped it and turned back to Lex.
“I, uh, should go talk to her.”
“Yea. Let her know I have the best intentions.” He asked with a smirk.
“Ok, yea.” I felt so awkward but I felt excitement too. He was a genuinely sweet guy and I was relieved.
Lex walked off as I forced myself not to race over to Sloane and fill her in. My best friend looked so annoyed but I couldn’t hide my smile. I wasn’t about to let her burst my bubble. I reached for my cheek again and I swear I could still feel the heat of his lips on my skin.
“So, do you care to explain what in the world is going on here? Why is he so interested in you all of a sudden? I swear Lyd, if he—” I held my hand up to stop Sloane from going on.
“Listen, I told you I didn’t understand it much myself but… Um, Lex asked for my number and he totally told Brittany off right in front of me!” Sloane laughed at that. She hated Brittany as much as the next girl.
“Well shit… Nicely done Lyd. You landed yourself the hottest and biggest jerk at school. I’m not buying his Mr. Nice guy act but if your cool, I guess I’ll be cool.” She hooked her arm through mine and we headed for our lockers. This is why I love Sloane. She has no filter but she’ll always back me up no matter what.
“So are you going to call him or what?”
“I don’t know, I’m still on the fence about him myself.” I said.
“Well, you’ve been crushing on him for a while and don’t you think it’s weird that all of a sudden he has these feelings he’s been harboring for you?” That last bit stung a little, I know she’s just as shocked about it as I am but would it be so out of this world for a guy like him to like a girl like me?
“What’s that supposed to mean Sloane?”
“Listen Babe, I didn’t mean that in a bad way, ok? Any guy would be lucky enough to have you. You’re totally hot and super smart. It’s just… Well, you know that Lex Gordon is known for sleeping with half the student body and let’s not beat around the bush here, girl. You don’t exactly have a lot of experience in the guy department.” She nudged her shoulder into me as if to silently apologize.
Who was I kidding here? She’s totally right. I don’t know anything about guys. Well, except for Sloane’s conquests but I always stopped her before she went into too much detail. A girl should keep some mystery behind closed doors. At least I think so anyway, even if it’s from your best friend from like, forever.
After Sloane and I parted ways to our classes, the day went by pretty quickly and I hadn’t seen Lex for the rest of the day. I was actually glad because I needed time to think before I bumped into him again. There were still some questions I had to ask him that I hadn’t thought of until now.
When I walked off campus and shot Sloane a quick text.
Hey, I’m gonna walk today, okay?
Alright, babe. Call me later.
You got it.
I was at my house in minutes. It was definitely one of the bonuses of living so close to the school. I walked up to the door and dug into my backpack for my keys. I could hear my parents screaming from outside. I stopped and pressed my ear against the door. I couldn’t understand much but I heard a few words here and there. In a nutshell, sounded like my dad caught mom in a lie.
I wanted no part of that argument and put my keys away. I pulled my phone out and started to dial Sloane but decided against it and pulled up the newest number added to my contact list.
I walked four blocks up to Jamison Park while I continued to glance down at Lex’s number. I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do until I sat down at a bench. I stared down at my phone that felt more like a ten-pound weight in my hand. I decided to settle for a text message rather than set myself up for an embarrassment from hearing his voice.
So, I punched in the message and wished I were way smoother with my approach.
I must have sat at that bench for about ten minutes before my hand buzzed. I was actually afraid to look down. Before I could read the message, my phone started ringing. Holy shit! He’s calling me! Okay, now what? Didn’t he know the unspoken rules of text messaging? If I wanted to call then I would have done that first.
As the vibration became more of a flaming sensation, I quickly picked it up and said, “Hello?”
“Hey Lydia. You didn’t answer my text so I thought I would just give you a call. Is that okay?”
“Uh, yeah it’s fine.” I had to appreciate his interest in wanting to talk to me. Whether it was real or not was something I would have to find out sooner or later.
“Are you busy right now? Do you want to meet up?” He asked.
I wasn’t expecting him to want to get together right now and I wasn’t exactly ready to be alone with him. Being alone with him in a school full of students was one thing but without a friendly bell to save me had me thinking twice about agreeing. Although, today was different, right? I made a vow to myself to stop being afraid of life and I intended on keeping it, one way or another. There was definitely nothing good waiting for me at home and I’d rather be anywhere in the world than back there.
“I’m at Jamison Park. Do you want to meet me here?”
“Sure, I’ll be there in five minutes.” Five minutes didn’t give me very long to get myself together but I didn’t have much of a choice.
“Ok.” I said, letting out a lengthy breath.
My heart sped as I thought of his lips on my cheek and wondered what it would be like to kiss him. I blushed at my own thoughts of being that close when they were interrupted by the crunch of grass behind me. I held my breath as the footsteps got closer.
I exhaled, rubbed my now clammy hand against my jeans and got up. Lex’s smile made my heart feel like it was about to burst. I tried to be casual and placed my hand on my chest as if to keep it from flying out and landing right at his converse sneakers.
“Hey, are you okay?” He said as he walked over to me and pulled me in for a quick embrace. I was taken aback by his boldness and wondered why he continued to be so forward with me like we were old friends. I wasn’t exactly complaining as I nearly melted into the warmth of his hug.
“I’m okay, you got here quickly. That was more like two minutes.” I said as he held my shoulders and took a step back to look down at my face.
“Yea, I was just a few blocks away. So, what are you doing here all alone?” He asked as we both sat down on the bench.
“My parents are having it out with one another. I didn’t really want to walk into that so I came here.” I wasn’t sure why I blurted that out but his kindness and the way he looked at me made me feel as if I could tell him my deepest secrets. I told myself to save those secrets for another time. I didn’t want to scare him off just yet.
“I’m sorry. I know the feeling. Do you want to talk about it?”
“Not really. I just want to stay away until it dies down.”
“Okay, so what do you want to do in the meantime? Why don’t we go into town and grab a cup of coffee?” I kept trying to put the missing pieces together as I looked at this new and improved version of Lex. There was no trace of that arrogant guy that walked the halls. Maybe this was the universe’s way of finally throwing me a bone and showing me his kind side. If this were a new Lex, I wouldn’t mind him sticking around.
“Okay, I’d like that.” I reached for my backpack and he reached for it before I could.
“I’ll take this for you. My car is right down the street.” He said as he tossed m bag over his shoulder.
We made it to his black two door Honda and I thought how lucky he was to have parents that care enough to buy him a car. My parents on the other hand, not so generous. Lex opened my door for me and I wondered if he was always this polite when he was trying to impress a girl. Either way, it was working.
The drive was quite comfortable and I rather enjoyed having his company even if there were no words spoken. The town square wasn’t far so we arrived in less than fifteen minutes. Lex parked close to the square entrance and jumped out before I even had a chance to unbuckle my seatbelt. He walked around to my door and opened it for me.
“You ready?” He said and held his hand out for mine. As I placed my hand in his and let him help me out I thought how unreal this all felt.
We arrived at Coffee Bean Cafe and it seemed like half the town square were jammed inside. The cafe was fairly big with small couches on both sides outside of the entrance. Inside were round table along the walls and large couches placed strategically throughout the middle. There was a small space for the aspiring lyricists to express themselves as people enjoyed their teas and latte’s.
Lex opened the door for me and I walked into the dim lifted coffee shop. The atmosphere in the room was a serene one and I found that I quite enjoyed it. There was instrumental music playing just loud enough to hear but not so that it overpowered the person reciting their work at the mic.
I walked close behind Lex and when we reached the the barista he turned to me
and asked what I wanted. I asked for a green tea and he ordered a vanilla cappuccino with extra whipped cream. We moved to the side so the next person could order and waited for ours.
The barista handed Lex our drinks and I noticed that she leaned in a bit as Lex grabbed them.
“Why don’t we go sit outside?” Lex handed me my tea and grabbed my hand with his free one and led the way out.
We walked out and made our way to sit at one of the small couches. I sat down in the corner, leaning against the arm of the couch wishing it would magically open up and allow for more room. Lex sat beside me so our sides were brushing against each other. I have never been this close to a boy so many times in one day and I wasn’t sure if my body could stand the rush.
I sat there quietly sipping my tea, not really knowing what to say. Lex leaned forward, rested his elbows on his knees and turned his face to look at me.
“You really don’t say much, do you?”
“Honestly, I’m not really used to hanging out with anyone other than Sloane.” I said and hoped it didn’t make me sound like a total antisocial loser. Lex raised an eyebrow and took another sip of his drink.
“Why don’t you have any other friends? Is your crazy overprotective friend trying to keep you away from the world?” He said, playfully.
“Sloane is not like that. She might be a little forward but she’s kind and probably the most loyal person I’ve ever known.” I said.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that, really.”
“I know.” I said, awkwardly. I felt like such a dork. This was going as well as I’d hoped. I put my tea down and leaned back next to him. I leaned to the side just enough so I could look up at him.
He looked at me and his face seemed to relax a bit and I was glad. He seemed so innocent in this moment. I tried not to think too much into what the future might hold for two people who are as different as night and day. What I did know was that I wanted to know more about this new Lex Gordon he claimed to be.
I sighed and wanted to break the bit of tension I seemed to create and decided to ask him about himself.
“So, do you live with your parents?” He looked a little uncomfortable before he answered.
“I live with my mother. She’s never really home because of work so I have the house to myself mostly.” I wondered why he told me that last bit but decided not to sit on that thought.
“What about your dad?” I asked.
“He lives in Arizona with his other family. We don’t really get along.” He said with a hint of anger.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I live with both my parents but my dad travels for work so I don’t see him as much and my mom—” I broke, not knowing what to say about her. She’s a drunk? She brings new guys into our home way too often? Oh yea, he’d love to hear about that.
“Uh, well… My mom doesn’t work so she’s mostly at home,” Is all I could manage to say.
“Do you have any siblings?” I asked. He said nothing, he just shook his head no and looked down at his cup. I had to wonder what bothered him about that question but left it alone.
“What about you? Any sisters as pretty as you?” He teased.
I smiled and shook my head. I could have told him that I did have a baby brother but my alcoholic mother drank and chain-smoked through her whole pregnancy only to give birth to a stillborn. I figured that was probably best kept to myself.
I looked at him and asked, “Can I ask you a question?”
“Why this sudden interest in me? I just don’t get it. You’ve never seemed to notice me before today.”
Lex sat up straight and turned as far as the little space would allow so he could completely face me. He grabbed both my hands and held them firmly in his. I noticed how smooth his skin was against his and how small my hands looked in his.
“Lydia, you have to know that I’ve always noticed you. It’s taken me some time to build up the courage to talk to you but here I am and I’m telling you now. You’re special and I want to be the one to show you that. So let’s get passed that, okay?” He spoke to me with so much sincerity. I didn’t know what to do or say to him. It was strange to hear him speak of me this way but I couldn’t deny the feelings that grew within me. I couldn’t help feeling stupidly shy in that moment and bit my lower lip.
Lex let go of my hand and pushed my curls behind my ear and tracing it with his thumb. He continued to run his thumb down my jawline and touched the corner of my mouth. He stopped there when I let out a breath I hadn’t notice I had been holding. He leaned in closer and traced his thumb across my mouth. I dared not move as he moved from my top lip to the bottom and closed the space between us.
I drew back and remembered where we were when my back hit the couch. Lex placed his hand behind my neck when his lips finally found mine. This is it. Your first kiss, I thought to myself.
Lex’s lips softly pressed against mine and it was as if my lips were not my own. They seemed to know what to do as Lex kissed my top lip, then the bottom, until he brought his other hand to my back and deepened the kiss. My hands had a mind of their own as I wrapped them around his neck. He opened his mouth and I followed suit. His tongue danced with mine and a sigh escaped me.
Lex drew his face back only for a moment and looked at me like I was the only girl in the world. I leaned into him, urging him to kiss me again and he did just that. Sloane was so wrong about the first kiss always turning out to be a disaster. This was certainly no disaster.
I felt another breath escape me as my body felt things I never knew before. Lex brought his hands up to my face and I let my hands find their way to settle on his chest, I playfully tugged at his shirt and he held my face gently but firmly as he kissed me again, taking another breath out of me each time.
Nothing else mattered now. I was blissfully lost in this moment. Whoever he was before, whoever I was before, it didn’t matter.
© Stephanie Cardozo and Stephanie Cardozo, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Stephanie Cardozo and Stephanie Cardozo with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.