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“…And Then…I Kissed Her”

 

By: Jamie Sommers

 

Email: jamiesommers23@hotmail.com

 

Rated:  P/G 13 (for language)

 

Synopsis:  Landon Carter just got sentenced to do the spring play, but he needs help with his lines and Jamie Sullivan has agreed to help him on one condition…he had to promise not to fall in love with her. 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 14:  At Last

 

 

 

“Hi.”  She was beautiful.  No…more than beautiful…stunning…she took my breath away.

 

“Hi.”

 

We stood there staring at one another until her father prompted me to give her the flowers, “Landon?  Did you want to stand there with those all night or were you planning on giving them to Jamie?”

 

“Oh…oh yeah,” I chuckled.  “These are for you.”

 

“Thank you.” 

 

‘Oh God…there’s that sweet thank you.  I could live the rest of my life listening to that soft sweet voice.’

 

“You’re welcome.”  I watched as she buried her face in the flowers and looked up at me with those amazing eyes.  “Um…should we get going?”

 

“Sure.  Daddy?” She turned towards her father and asked him to put the flowers in water for her then kissed him good night. 

 

‘Lucky bastard.’

 

“We walked side by side down the path until we reached my car, then I opened the door for her and walked around to my side of the car.  ‘Jamie, I hope I’m doing the right thing here tonight.  I hope you like what I’ve got in store for you.’

 

I made reservations for dinner at a place my mom had suggested.  It was sort of fancy, but comfortable.  Nothing too extravagant.  Jamie’s not really the extravagant type.  Our drive there was somewhat quiet, both of us nervous, both of us unsure of what to say.

 

“Would you like to…”

“Why don’t we…”

 

We both laughed.  “We sure have a habit of doing that don’t we?  Talking at the same time I mean.”

 

“Yes, we do,” she giggled.  “What were you going to say?”

 

“Oh…I was just gonna say that if you want to turn the radio on you could.  What were you going to say?”

 

I watched as her smile lit up her face.  “I was going to suggest that we listen to some music.”

 

“Oh.” I paused before saying, “This is crazy.  I mean…it’s just that…” I wasn’t sure what I was trying to say.  For some reason I just couldn’t get the thoughts from my mind to make their way to my voice box.

 

“I know what you mean.  It’s like…we’ve never had a problem talking before and now…”

 

I parked the car in the parking lot of the restaurant and said, “it’s like…things are different now.”

 

She just looked at me and said, “Yes Landon, they are.”  After a moment she confessed, “I’m glad I asked my father’s permission to go out with you.”

 

“What?  You asked your father’s permission?” I was a bit confused at her admission.

 

“Uh huh…right before I called you I asked him and I was really surprised at how quickly he said yes, but for some reason he did.”

 

“Well, I may be able to shed a little light on that.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“I uh…I sort of asked his permission too.”

 

“You did?”

 

“Yeah.  That’s okay right?  I mean that I asked him and all.”

 

“Yes,” she said absently.  “It’s more than okay.”

 

I walked around the car and opened the door for her extending my hand to help her out of her seated position.  I fully expected her to remove it when she stood up, but she didn’t.  In fact she threaded her fingers through mine as though she had done it a million times. 

 

We both looked down at our joined hands and smiled.  “Is it okay if I hold your hand?” she asked.

 

“Yeah.  I’d like that.” 

 

“Me too.”

 

I was lost, so lost.  Her eyes were sparkling.  Her skin was glowing. Her hair blew gently in the breeze and me?  Well, I was so much in love with this woman that I was having a very hard time breathing let alone moving.

 

“Landon?”

 

“Huh?”  I didn’t move.  I just stood there holding her hand and smiling into her eyes.  Those beautiful eyes and those lips…I wanted to kiss them…so damn much.

 

“I’m not sure but I don’t think they’ll serve us if we don’t go to a table.”

 

“Oh…”  ‘Dumb Landon.  Very dumb.’  “Yeah, we better go.”

 

We walked in hand in hand as they led us to an outdoor area.

 

“I can’t believe you asked my father’s permission.”

 

“It’s no big deal…he was cool about it anyways.”

 

We sat down at our table as the waiter asked us if we’d like a beverage.

 

“Sweet tea please?”

 

“Make that two.”

 

“This restaurant’s really nice, are you sure this is okay?”

 

“Don’t even worry about it, okay?”

 

“Okay.”

 

“Choose whatever you want.  So…what’ll it be?”

 

The waiter returned with our drinks and gave us the nightly specials.  I could see Jamie’s apprehension when she listened to him recite them.

 

“…Frutte de Mare which is a combination of various seafood selections in a light marina sauce served over angel hair pasta for $24.95.  Duck ala Orange served with wild rice pilaf and steamed asparagus for $22.95…”

 

Her eyes were getting bigger as she listened and I knew she was feeling a bit guilty over the cost of the entrées.  The server stood diligently waiting for our choices and kindly suggested, “Why don’t I give you a few minutes to decide?”

 

“Thank you.  That would be great.”

 

The minute the waiter was away from the table Jamie leaned over and whispered to me, “I would’ve been happy with burgers and fries at the diner downtown.”

 

“I know that, but I wanted to take you here.”

 

“But Landon…”

 

“Jamie, I wanted to do this for you.  Please…just…” I sighed making every attempt to get her to relax.  “Jamie, seriously…don’t worry about it.  It’s okay.  Let me do this for you okay?” Looking down at the table I was shocked to see her fingers threaded through mine.  ‘When did I hold her hand?  I don’t know.  All I do know is that it feels good…right.’ 

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“I’m positive.” 

 

Without realizing it, I lifted her silky smooth hand up to my lips placing a gentle kiss against her fingers.  ‘I hope that wasn’t a mistake.’  The look on her face was one that was difficult to read.  I didn’t know if she liked it or not.  “You okay?”

 

“Huh?” 

 

“I asked if you were okay.” ‘Maybe you moved a little too quickly for her Landon?  This isn’t just any girl you know.  Take it slow.’  I released her hand and laid it down on the table immediately picking up my menu in order to ease the tension.

 

“Oh, um… Yeah.  I’m fine, just unsure of what to order.”

 

“Well what do you like?”

 

“Anything really.  I’m not too picky.”

 

“Great.”  It was a relief to know that she was going to try and enjoy herself.  “Well let’s take a look.  How about Rack of Lamb?”

 

“Mmm…nuh uh.”  I watched as she made the most adorable gesture I’d ever seen.  Her nose squinted up and her head shook back and forth in a childlike motion. 

 

“Okay.  No lamb.  Duck ala Orange?”

 

“Uh…”

 

‘Obviously not her entrée of choice.’  “Okay forget the duck.   How about the Hasenpfeffer?”

 

“What’s that?”

 

“It’s rabbit made with…”

 

“Oooh…I don’t think so.”

 

“Veal Picatta?”

 

“Mmmm…no thank you.”

 

‘I’m starting to see a pattern here.’  “Let me guess…no cute food?”

 

“Cute food?”

 

“Yeah.  If it started off cute, you don’t eat it.”

 

“I guess I’m a little more picky than I thought, huh?”

 

“That’s okay.  I don’t mind.  All right.  Let’s stick with the ugly animals.  You got any objections to chicken?”

 

“No,” she giggled.

 

“How does Cranberry Harvest Stuffed Chicken Breast sound?”

 

“Sounds perfect.” She bestowed upon me one of the most charming smiles I’d ever seen just as our waiter walked back up to the table.

 

“Have you made your decision?”

 

“I think we have.  Jamie?  Uh…Jamie??”  It was no use.  She was staring at something but I couldn’t make it out.  It looked like she was looking at one of the waiters. ‘Maybe she knows him from church or something.’  Well that’s what I hoped anyway.  ‘He’s kinda good looking Landon.  Maybe she…’

 

“It looks like the young lady is entranced with our dessert selection,” our waiter chuckled.

 

‘Pheeeew…dessert tray.  Thank God.  For a minute there I thought she was entranced with the waiter.’  “Yeah. I guess she is.  Well I guess I’ll order for her.”  I placed our order and watched as Jamie’s eyes followed not the young, handsome waiter, but the tray he was holding.  Her eyes never seemed to leave it.

 

“My favorite is the peanut butter pie.”

 

“Huh??” 

 

“I said my favorite is the peanut butter pie.”

 

“Oh.  I’m sorry.  It’s just that…”

 

“Don’t be sorry.  I enjoyed watching you.”

 

“Watching me?”

 

“Your eyes lit up the minute he brought that tray into view.  It was…cute.”

 

“Cute?  My drooling over dessert was cute?  Well wait till you see me demolish one of those chocolate things.  You won’t think I’m so cute anymore.”

 

We took advantage of our time alone to get to know one another. Our likes, dislikes and pretty much everything we could think of. 

 

Her eyes glistened as she described portions of her favorite movie, Shining Through.  “That these two people could find love and hold onto it through all of that chaos, not to mention the end when he saves her…drags her over the border and then he…”

 

“Wait!!  Don’t tell me!  I just may want to see it someday you know.”

 

“Oh.  Sorry.  I just get caught up in it sometimes.  I’ve seen it a hundred times at least.”

 

“Sounds like a good movie.”

 

“Oh it is!  It really is.  You’ll have to see it sometime. Maybe… Maybe you’d like to come over one night and watch it with me?”

 

“I’d love to…on one condition.”

 

“What’s that?”

 

“You have to come over to my place some night and watch my favorite movie.”

 

“Deal.  Uh…what is your favorite movie?”

 

“The Terminator.  Talk about a great flick.  There’s violence, blood, guts and…well…it’s a classic guy film.”

 

Her laughter bubbled up from within her, “I wouldn’t expect anything less from you Landon.”

 

I thought about the movie and how she might actually like it because of the love story between the two lead characters when…“Now that I think about it…maybe we should pick a different movie?”

 

“Why?  I can watch ‘guy’ movies Landon.”

 

“Well yeah, but this one…uh…I mean…I uh…”

 

“What?”

 

“I forgot that there was a scene where…um…you know.”

 

“There’s a sex scene?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Oh.  Well in that case…maybe we should pick a different movie.”

 

“How about the Die Hard trilogy?  Classic movies!!  Bruce Willis kicks some serious as…butt and now I’m gonna stop talking about movies before I put my other foot in my mouth too.”

 

Her laughter bubbled over as we continued to talk throughout the meal. 

 

“…you had to see the look on his face.  It was priceless.  Then he says, ‘you’re really messing with a robot’s groove.’  I wish you had seen him.  At the time I really didn’t laugh, but now that I think back on it…”

 

 “…he tried so hard to convince her that you were the wrong choice.  ‘But Miss. Garber, even Landon says he’s naturally bad at it.’  Finally Sally says to him, ‘just give it up Eddie.  It’s a lost cause.’  I couldn’t help but laugh when she said that because not two hours earlier you were at my locker begging me to run lines with you.”

 

“I wasn’t begging you.” 

 

She tilted her head to the side as though she were saying, ‘yeah right Landon.’

 

“I wasn’t.”

 

“Mmmm hmmm.”  She crooked her head even more and said in a singsong voice, “Doesn’t Eddie Zimmerhoff deserve the best.”

 

“Okay…so I was begging you.  BUT!  It worked didn’t it?”

 

We laughed all throughout the remainder of the meal until dessert arrived.  ‘Well, guess I don’t exist anymore.’  I took a bite out of my cake and watched as she devoured her peanut butter pie.  ‘You’re wrong Jamie. You’re still cute.’  I left my dessert untouched opting to take in her innocent actions and childlike grin as my after dinner treat.  Our waiter returned once again and Jamie reluctantly handed over her dessert plate thanking him in that sweet voice of hers. 

 

She looked around and I watched as her eyes landed on the dance floor.  ‘Please don’t ask me to dance.  Please don’t ask me to dance.  Please don’t ask me to…’

 

“Would you like to dance?”

 

‘Shit!’  “Uh…sorry.  I don’t dance.”

 

“Me neither, I mean… not usually in front of anybody.”

 

‘Now what’re ya gonna tell her?  Hey, here’s a thought.  How about the truth.’  “Well, no, I mean I… I don’t, at all, as… as in… I can’t.”

 

“Everybody can dance.  Come on, you can’t be that bad.”

 

‘You’ve never seen me dance.  There’s no way I’m dancing.  No way on God’s green…’

 

“Please?”

 

‘Oh don’t do the puppy dog face…come on…not the pouty lip too.’

 

“For me?”

 

‘Son of a…’ I have no clue how she talked me into it all I know is that one minute I’m letting my dinner settle and the next I’m stepping on her toes.

 

“Oof!”

 

‘See what I mean? Way to embarrass yourself Landon.’  “Sorry… told you I was bad at this.”

 

“But in all fairness you did warn me right?”

 

“That’s right.”  I was certain she thought I was some kind of dork or something, but she didn’t.  She actually made a joke out of my inability to dance and relaxed in my arms. I felt at ease with her.  Like we were really getting to know each other.  I thought about what was in store for us in the night ahead and it made me wonder if I could make her number one come true.  ‘Probably, but first you gotta find out what it is.’  “So… what’s number one on your list?

 

She shook her head slowly back and forth and I knew I wasn’t going to get it out of her that easily.  So I decided to let her in on my number one.  Well, it was my number two actually, but I didn’t think telling her that my number one was making all of her dreams come true, appropriate first date conversation.  “Okay… uh… number one on my list is getting out of Beaufort.”

 

“Mmmm… I don’t think getting out is gonna be your problem.  It’s more like figuring out what you’re going to do when you get somewhere.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“I mean you can do anything.” 

 

At first I wasn’t quite sure what to make of her comment, but then she smiled at me like…like she actually believed I was capable of achieving anything.  I was stunned.  No one, not even my mother ever believed in me that completely before, yet she did. 

 

“Landon?  You okay?”

 

“Yeah.  I was just thinking…we’ve got a long night ahead of us and only a few hours to get it all in so…we should probably get going.”

 

“Oh.  You sure you’re not just trying to get out of dancing?”

 

“Nope.  Not at all.  It was my pleasure ruining your shoes this evening Miss. Sullivan.”

 

“Well, the shoes aren’t the problem.  It’s the toes that are irreplaceable.”

 

##

 

“Thank you for dinner Landon.  It was delicious.  I’ve never eaten in a place like that before.”

 

“No.  It was my pleasure.  I’m just glad you liked it.”

 

“I loved it.  Especially the pie,” she said with wagging eyebrows and a slight grin.

 

“Well next time I’ll just take you to Marie Callendar’s for dinner.”

 

“Marie who?”

 

“Marie Callendar.  It’s a restaurant that specializes in pies.  We’ll start off with her Peach Tarts as appetizers.  For dinner we can have the Dutch Apple Pie ala mode and for desert…”

 

“PEANUT BUTTER PIE???”

 

“Actually I was thinking we’d try the Heath Bar pie, but if you want to stick with peanut butter…”

 

“NO!  No.  Let’s try the heath…Landon?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Uh…why are we at the school?”

 

“Oh, well…you’ll see.”  I parked the car in the parking lot close to the field and we walked towards the baseball diamond. 

 

“Is there a baseball game tonight?”

 

“Nope.”

 

“Then why are the lights on?  And why are we here?”

 

“I told you…you’ll see.”  I could sense the anticipation bubbling from within her.  I turned to see her face when we got within viewing range of the diamond.  It was a mixture of excitement and curiosity. 

 

The baseball diamond was completely empty but for an elderly man holding a bat, ball and glove on the pitcher’s mound.  “Landon.  I wasn’t sure if you were still coming or not.”

 

“Hey Lou,” We walked directly up to him and I shook his hand.  “I’d like you to meet Jamie.  Jamie this is…”

 

“Hello Mr. Washington.  How’s Mrs. Washington doing?”

 

“Oh she’s doing just fine Miss. Jamie.  And how’s your papa?”

 

“He’s fine sir.  Thank you for asking.”

 

“I take it you two know each other.”  ‘No wonder Lou agreed so readily when I told him my plan.’

 

“Well yes.  Mrs. Washington used to baby-sit me when I was younger, but…how do you two know each other?”

 

“Oh…well…uh…”

 

“We worked together for a bit when Mr. Landon here got sentenced to janitor jail.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“Lou here showed me the ropes on the first day.”  I really didn’t want to get into the whole Clay Gephardt thing so I immediately changed the topic.  “So Lou…do you have everything?”

 

“Yup.  Most certainly do.” He bent down to retrieve the bat and handed it to me. 

 

“Great.  Thanks Lou.”

 

“No problem.  Now I’m gonna make myself scarce while you two play a little ball.  If you’ll excuse me Miss. Jamie.  Landon.”  With a nod of his head he disappeared.

 

She said her farewell to him and then turned towards me and asked, “Do you always play baseball on your dates?”

 

“Only if the girl I’m dating has a dream of hitting a home run.”

 

“Oh Landon.”  Her eyes immediately filled with tears.

 

“Now this is supposed to be fun so no getting all…girly on me okay?”

 

“Okay.” She grabbed a hold of the bat that I held out for her and said, “So what do I do?”

 

I walked her to home plate and taught her how to take her stance.  “Put one foot here and one foot here.  Good.  Now wrap your hands around the bat…” Once I got her settled into a comfortable position I suggested that she take a few practice swings.

 

“Oooof,” she called out as she swung the bat and it went flying down the third base line.  “Whooops.  Guess that wasn’t supposed to happen huh?”

 

“No,” I tried not to laugh.  “Let me help you out with that.”  I picked up the bat and watched as she took her stance once again.  “Okay…now…uh…” I stood behind her and wrapped my arms around hers, shadowing her form.  My hands covered hers and I whispered hoarsely, “Now…just…ahem…swing.”  Her hair caught in the breeze and blew across my face.  I was completely entranced by the scent, the feel of it.  ‘Jasmine.  It smells like Jasmine.’  Just then she swung the bat in perfect form and knocked me to the ground. 

 

“Oh Landon! I’m sorry!”

 

“No.  Don’t be,” I stood up and dusted myself off.  “That was great.  Now do it again without me helping.”

 

“Okay.”  She began to talk to herself under her breath, “Arms up, elbows out, bat just above the shoulder, feet apart, and……… Ooooof!”

 

‘There goes the bat again.’  I jogged down towards third base and called out as I made my way back, “If you can hit the ball as far as you can throw the bat…hoooey…Mark McGuire watch out.”  I stood behind her again for a few more swings, only this time I didn’t lose my train of thought in her hair. Okay…I did, but I didn’t fall this time.  She seemed to be doing fine while I was helping her, but it was when I stepped away that she would release the bat.  This time it flew directly towards the opposing team’s dugout.  “You know what the problem is?”

 

“Well if I knew that Landon, I wouldn’t be throwing the bat now would I?” She chuckled.

 

“Yeah I guess.”  I ran my hands down my thighs attempting to dry my sweaty palms and said, “You don’t have a shimmy.”

 

“A shimmy?”

 

“Yeah…you know.  A shimmy.  All the great ones do.  Here,” I took the bat from her and said, “you go over there and I’ll show you.”  I began to wiggle my hips and twist my feet into the dirt in a classic baseball pose.  “A shiii…meeeee” I swung with all my might and I must admit, even I was impressed with my form.

 

“Mmmkay,” she said with a serious face.  “I think I’ve got it now.”

 

“So…you think you’re ready to swing at a few?”

 

“Yup.”  Her look of concentration reminded me of the day I asked her out.  The seriousness.  It was as though all of her thoughts were focused on the task at hand.  “Let’s do this.”

 

I walked to the pitcher’s mound and picked up the ball and glove.  Turning towards her I was just about to call out to her, but I stopped dead in my tracks and smiled.  She was talking to herself and then… ‘Holy… Now that’s a shimmy.  “Okay.  Here we go.”  I threw some balls to her and she missed more than she hit, but she had fun.  We both did.  We laughed and joked and on more than one occasion I had to jog down the third base line for the bat, but all in all it was a good time. 

 

“You two almost finished up?”  We heard Lou’s call from the opened gate.

 

“Oh, sure Lou.  We’re done here.”  Lou had done me a huge favor by setting all of this up and I didn’t want to take advantage of his generosity.  “Thanks…”

 

I began walking towards home plate when I heard Jamie’s protest, “NO!  Not yet Landon.  Please?  Just one more?  Please?”

 

“Do you mind Lou?” I asked him with pleading eyes.

 

“Nah,” he said with a wave of his hand.  “In fact…why don’t you take two Miss. Jamie?”  He settled back against the fence and watched her.  I could see him try to cover his laughter when she did her ritual. 

 

She talked to herself for a few seconds, did her shimmy and then she’d nod her approval for me to pitch to her.  Only this time she took a while longer when she had that internal conversation with herself.  She seemed to be talking to herself forever and just when I thought I was going to lose my train of thought by watching her wiggle she nodded a slow and steady nod.  I pitched the ball to her and saw her squint her eyes closed and swing with all of her might.  The resounding crack caused her to open up her eyes and we all watched as the ball soared into the air down none other than the third base line.  ‘Holy cow, it’s going into the outfield.’ We watched the ball start to flounder towards the outside of the foul pole when I began to chant. “Go fair…go fair…go fair…NO!”  ‘There’s no way in hell that…hey…God?  Please.  Please let it go fai…’ it was at that very moment that one of those nor easterners that North Carolina was famous for blew in and we all three watched her ball not only miss the foul post but soar just over the fence.  “Holy…”

 

In the distance I heard a silent, “I did it.”  Then it progressively got louder, “I did it!  I DID IT!! I DID IT!!!

 

Lou began to make a whooping noise just as I screamed out in delight, “Run your bases Jamie!  Run your bases.” 

 

She began her trek in a quick and hurried pace but once she touched first base she slowed down to a steady gallop.  Her smile lit up the night sky and I could see the reflection of tears on her cheeks.  I stood on the pitcher’s mound and watched her round the bases in glee.  When she got to home plate she threw her head back and jumped with both her feet onto it while letting out a joyous, “YES!! Number 34!!!!!” 

 

Her head was still thrown back when I arrived at home plate to meet her.  Replete laughter echoed from her throat up to the heavens.  “You did it!”

 

“I did it!”  She finally lowered her head to face me.  “I did it.” She stepped closer towards me and took a hold of my hand, “thank you Landon.  Thank you.”

 

‘Jamie, I love you.’  I could hear it’s resounding cry through my head, but my lips didn’t seem to move.

 

“Thank you,” she continued.  Turning towards Lou she said, “Thank you so much for doing this Mr. Washington.  I don’t know how I’ll ever thank you…either one of you.  This was just about the greatest moment…” she trailed off and I could tell she was getting choked up again.  “Mr. Washington?  Would you mind if I used the restroom to get cleaned up?”

 

“Not at all.  Come with me Miss. Jamie. I’ll let you in.”

 

I stood by the car waiting for her. In the distance I could see her speaking to Lou and then turning towards me.  She stood with him for a few minutes then lifted up on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek.

 

‘Lucky bastard.  Is everybody getting one of those tonight but me?’

 

“Hey.”

 

“Hey.  You ready for the next part of our date?”

 

“You mean there’s more?” she asked in utter surprise.

 

“Of course there’s more.  You didn’t think this was it, did you?”

 

We had a long drive ahead of us and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to keep her occupied the entire time.  I knew that she would start questioning me once we had been in the car for a while so I tried to keep her mind occupied with conversation.

 

“Boy I couldn’t believe it when that ball flew over the fence.  I mean…wow.”

 

“Impressive aren’t I?”  She giggled.  “Honestly I couldn’t believe it myself.  I never in a million years thought I was capable of anything like that.”

 

“Geez, I’m not capable of anything like that.  It was really impressive.”

 

“Well I had a good teacher.”

 

“So…can I ask you something?”

 

“Sure.”

 

“What’s your number one?”

 

She laughed and said, “You don’t give up very easily do you?”

 

“Nope.  If I had then I’d be making this drive on my own.”

 

“Where are we going anyway?”

 

“What’s your number one?”

 

“Oooooh…that’s blackmail.”

 

“Nope, that’s bargaining.”

 

“Well I’m not gonna tell so you might as well just give in and let me know where we’re going?”

 

“Nope.”

 

“Come on.”

 

“So…how about those Yankees?”

 

“You’re incorrigible, you know that?”

 

“So I’ve been told.”

 

I was sure she had given up on the interrogation but then she casually asked me again, “Where are we going?”

 

“Just hold on… you’ll see.”  We drove for about ten more miles and then, ‘we’re here.’  I jumped out of the car and practically ran to her side of it.  “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, let’s go.”  I grabbed her hand and started running with her in tow.

 

“Where are we going?”

 

“Run!”  We stopped in the middle of the road and I said, “Okay… uh, stand there.”

 

“All right.”

 

“Put one foot there, and one foot there.” I pointed to the specific spots in the road.

 

“Okay. You’re acting like a crazy person, what’s going on?”

 

‘She’s doing it.’  “Okay, right now, you’re straddling the state line.”

 

“Okay…?” 

 

‘You don’t get it do you Jamie?  Let me explain.’  I turned and pointed towards the sign that said, Welcome to Virginia.  “You’re in two places at once.”

 

It took her a moment before the realization hit her.  Her smile matched the one she had earlier when she landed on home plate only this time she didn’t jump onto a base; she catapulted herself into my arms.  “Ahhhhhhh…”  I lifted her up and spun her around in a circle before setting her down directly in front of me.  We wore matching smiles as our fingers linked.  I rested my forehead against hers and looked into her eyes. 

 

“Landon,” she whispered.  “I don’t know what to say…”  She pulled her head away from mine and put her arms around me in a close embrace.  The hair on the back of my neck stirred as she sighed against my ear, “Thank you Landon.  Tonight’s been the best date I’ve ever had.”

 

##

 

I looked at my watch as we got into the car and realized that we still had about an hour and a half before she had to be home.  ‘Just enough time to do this next thing and I know just where to do it.’ 

 

“So…where to now?”

 

“Nuh uh.  Not telling.”

 

“Oh no Landon.  Now what??”  She faced forward and then turned quickly towards me causing her hair to whip around into her face.  Strands of it got caught in her mouth and my fingers instinctively reached towards her lips brushing the tendrils away. 

 

‘Jamie.  Oh God I want to kiss you so badly.  Do you have any idea what it is I’m feeling right now?  How badly I want to…’

 

“…not gonna take me to a tattoo parlor are you?”  Her laughter brought me out of my reverie. 

 

“No,” I shook my head.  “Your father would kill me if I did that.” 

 

I drove back toward Beaufort to the dock where my family used to go fishing when I was a kid.  I parked the car in the middle of the parking lot, intent of finishing up the last of my surprises for her.

 

“Uh…Landon?  Why are we stopping?” Her eyes were going through varied emotions.  Scared, timid, questioning, excited, but never untrusting. 

 

“Well there’s one more thing I want to check off of your list for you before the night is through.”  I reached into the glove compartment and pulled out the assortment of temporary tattoos. 

 

There were some women in this world that were meant to wear tattoos and other’s that just made them look…well…cheap, but Jamie… I knew that hers would be perfect on her.  It needed to be something that radiated innocence as well as happiness. I held the various choices in my hand at the store and knew, just knew which one it should be.  It had to be.  Butterfly.  In my head, I could see it’s soft and colorful wings spread out across her shoulder blade and hoped with all my might that she would see that in her mind too.  “Okay…butterfly, rosebud orrrrrr…star.”

 

She shook her head and replied, “you choose.”

 

‘I was hoping you’d say that.’  Without a moment’s hesitation I said, “Butterfly.”  I put the others down and asked her nervously, “Soooo…where do you want it?”

 

I watched, as she looked her body up and down with a flirtatious pout, trying to determine the perfect spot for it.  In a way I desperately wanted her to choose the spot that she did, but in another way, I wanted her to avoid it.  When she whispered, “here” and pulled her dress sleeve down to reveal a flawless shoulder, my mind started going into overdrive. 

 

‘You have no clue how sexy you are do you Jamie?  Don’t think about it Landon.  Just think about the tattoo.  Yeah… the tattoo on her bare shoulder.  God, if you’re up there, please help me out here.’  I pulled the plastic film off and laid the application against her smooth skin. 

 

For Mother’s Day last year I had bought my mom a dozen roses and a few of the petals fell off in the front seat of my car.  When I picked them up to toss them into the trash I felt the silky texture of them and thought to myself that it was probably the softest surface I’d ever feel.  Silky…smooth.  I was wrong.   ‘Rose petals pale in comparison to your skin Jamie.’ 

 

I pressed the wet napkin against the paper appliqué and made every attempt to count to thirty in my head like the directions said, but it was no use.  Our eyes met over her bare shoulder, our lips lifted in a gentle smile and my mind screamed out for the hundredth time that night, ‘I love you.’  I tried counting again, ‘17…22…19…awww screw it…30.’  I pealed away the corner of the paper to reveal the tattoo it left behind.  I couldn’t say a word; all I could do was stare at the blues and reds of the butterfly’s wings fluttering across her porcelain skin. 

 

I leaned down to place a kiss against the tattoo that I had just applied and at the last minute chickened out, opting to blow against it instead.  This insatiable feeling, a desperate need to touch her, to feel the warmth of her skin underneath my own, consumed me.  My hand ran down her back, fingertips trailing lightly against the smooth surface.  My heart was racing as our eyes locked onto one another’s.  Once again she blessed me with her beautiful smile and I knew that this feeling going through me wasn’t just your run of the mill high school infatuation.  I was completely in love with her.  I loved her so much it hurt inside.  There was an ache in the pit of my stomach that had been there since the day I saw her sleeping on her porch swing when we were running lines together.  I tried to no end to snap out of this spell we were under telling myself, ‘you shouldn’t be doing this Landon.  You shouldn’t be touching her this way.  Yeah, and she shouldn’t be looking at you this way either.  Oh Jamie please stop looking at me like that.  Those eyes.  God.  Those eyes and those lips.  So full, pink… Just kiss her Landon.  No.  No.  If I do that then she’s gonna think that’s what I had planned all along.  To get her in my car and just…just…no.  Fine then if you’re not going to kiss her you definitely need to get out of this car.’  “You wanna take a walk?” 

 

After the briefest hesitation she whispered, “Yes.”

 

We got out and walked hand in hand down the wooden boardwalk.  “When I was five or six my family used come here and we’d go fishing off the docks.  Sometimes we’d rent a boat and go out for the whole day…” I trailed off, lost in memories of happier times.

 

“It’s beautiful.  Sometimes I wish I had opportunities to do things like that with my parents but…”

 

“Yeah.  I guess it’s hard for you huh? I mean with your mom being gone and all.”

 

“Sometimes, but then other times I think that this is the way God planned it so there must be a reason for it.”

 

“You really believe that don’t you?  That God lays out some sort of path or something?”

 

“Yes, I do.”

 

“Hmmmm…”

 

“How can you see places like this, have moments like this… and not believe?”

 

“You’re lucky to be so sure.”

 

“It’s like the wind, I can’t see it… but I feel it.”

 

“What do you feel?”

 

“I feel wonder and beauty.  Joy.  Love.  I mean…” her eyes were glowing brightly, I could see the excitement within them as she said, “It's the center of everything."

 

As I looked at her I wondered if her skin felt as soft as it looked. Could she tell that I was in love with her? Did she know? I needed to tell her. I needed to feel her. I needed to… “I might kiss you.”

 

“I might be bad at it.” Did she really believe that?

 

“That’s not possible.” I stepped closer towards her and lifted my hand to cup her cheek.  Our heads moved in one slow fluid motion, our lips joined.  'So soft...Jamie...' Her lips were so delicate, full. ‘Those lips... I’ve never tasted anything so sweet.’ The flavor of chocolate and something else lingered on them. I could tell she was holding her breath, she didn't know what to do, I wanted so badly to tell her, just open up to me Jamie. Please let me in, but it was too soon. ‘Jamie…I love you.  I love you.’ I knew the moment I pulled away that I had to tell her. "Jamie." 'Just say it Landon. Tell her. You know you want to.' I felt the slight smile creep up on my lips as I told her, "I love you." 'Please say it back. Please say it back.'  My admission of love was met with silence and an uneasy feeling tingled up my spine.  “Now would be the time to say something.”

 

“I told you not to fall in love with me.”

 

I didn’t understand what she was getting at, but then it came to me.  So many obstacles were in our path.  Her father, my friends.  Would this love I felt be strong enough to carry us through?  At that very moment I was convinced that it would be.  I loved her enough for the both of us.  She didn’t have to say anything for me to know that she felt something more than just friendship for me too.  I leaned in and kissed her again.  First her lips, then her forehead. 

 

Our fingers clasped and our foreheads pressed against each other’s.  “Landon…” she whispered.  “I’m scared.”

 

“Of what?”

 

She just looked at me with tears spilling over her eyelids onto her cheeks shaking her head slowly from side to side.

 

“Jamie, I promise I’ll never hurt you.  I’ll never leave you.  I love you.  I mean it. I…”

 

“Shhh…” she pulled her tear-streaked face back and laid her fingers against my lips to stop me from speaking, but I kissed them instead.

 

I lifted my hand up to take hers away from my mouth and we just looked at each other.  I placed a light kiss against her forehead again as we stood within each other’s space. Her knees bumped my own as I let my lips linger against her brow. 'I want to kiss you again, so damn badly.' I had to. I couldn't help it, I just needed to feel her press her lips against mine. I needed to be close to her.  'You'll have the rest of your life to kiss her Landon.' I knew this to be true. Deep within my heart I knew, I would spend my life...my after life loving her, cherishing her...kissing her. My lips were still lingering across her forehead and in that one kiss, that one little kiss; I suddenly felt...beauty, joy, wonder...love. 'She's the center of everything.' I let my hands wander up to cradle her face...and then...I kissed her.

 

 

 

The End (WOW! Sniff, sniff.  It’s over L )