Second Kiss by Chelsea M. Cameron


  “Do you remember that sleepover when we ate one pizza each?” she asked as I worked on my second slice. I couldn’t hold back a smile.

  “My mom was convinced we’d hidden it somewhere or threw it in the trash.” We could both put away our share of pizza, even when we’d been kids.

  “And then we polished off the garlic bread in the middle of the night,” she said and I laughed. “So much garlic breath.”

  That made me think of another night and I could feel my face getting red.

  “Are you seeing anybody?” I blurted out. Why. Why was I like this?

  “Not anymore,” she said, her face falling even more than it already head. She put down her slice of pizza and looked off into the distance.

  “I’m sorry,” I said. I was really fucking this up.

  “It’s okay. It happens. What about you?” Her eyes landed back on me and I felt myself blush again.

  “Oh, um, no. Not for a while.” I’d dated here and there but couldn’t seem to keep a girlfriend. I’d get into something and then I’d find something wrong with her and then sabotage things. My last relationship had only lasted two months. I’d sort of given up on dating, to be honest. At least for right now. There were plenty of queer girls that came into the café, but since it was a small town, I’d either dated them, or dated girls who had dated them. New, shiny girls didn’t come around that often. Except now, but Molly wasn’t into girls.

  “Here’s to being single and ready to mingle? Or however that goes,” she said, holding up her drink. I clinked my glass with hers and it finally seemed like we were going to be able to converse without it getting too awkward. She asked me about where I’d gone to college and that was a pretty safe topic, so we talked about that for a while until we finished most of the pizza.

  “Guess I can’t put it away like I used to,” she said, looking forlornly at the last two small pieces that neither of us could cram in our mouths. I was pleasantly buzzed by this time, so I was feeling a little less on edge about the whole thing.

  “Shame,” I said. The waitress came to ask us if we wanted dessert and we both declined. This night was going to end soon and I still didn’t have answers.

  “Do you . . . do you want to get coffee or something?” I asked, and I sounded just like her the day before.

  “Oh, okay?” She didn’t seem sure, but the waitress split the bill and then Molly ended up telling me that I should take the rest of the pizza, so I reluctantly did.

  “I can drive,” I said, nodding to my car.

  “Sure,” she said, getting in the passenger seat. I was glad I’d recently cleaned. Not that it would matter. She had to remember I was kind of a slob.

  I ended up taking her back to the café. Sometimes I came in extra early to start on the bread and rolls and so forth, so it wasn’t unusual for me to be in the bakery at all hours.

  “Is this okay?” she asked as I punched in the alarm code and turned the light on.

  “Of course,” I said, walking through the back and turning on lights here and there. I went out to the front and turned on the lamp next to one of the couches.

  “I’ll make some coffee,” I said, motioning for her to sit down. She did, heaving a little sigh.

  “Is there anything else you want? There’s a few pieces of cheesecake back here from today,” I said, going back to the bakery section.

  “I wouldn’t object to cheesecake,” she said, and I couldn’t help but smile at that too. She looked so pretty in the low lamplight.

  Don’t fall for a straight girl, Daisy. That was literally the first rule of being a lesbian.

  I filled the coffee pot and pulled out the cheesecake, adding two slices to one plate and then dolloped some whipped cream on top with shaved chocolate pieces. I couldn’t half-ass anything that I’d made myself.

  “This is a really cool place,” she said and I realized she’d gotten up from the couch and was checking out some of the vintage posters and pictures. It was pretty damn obvious from the walls that this place was gay as fuck. I wonder what she thought about that, but she hadn’t asked any questions yet.

  “Yeah, I like it,” I said, wondering if I should just break down and tell her that I was also gay as fuck. I hadn’t really figured it out until college, so there was no way she could have known when we were kids. Unless I’d been broadcasting lesbian-ness, but I was pretty sure I hadn’t been.

  The coffee spit into the pot and I filled two mugs, set them on a tray, and added forks and the plate of cheesecake.

  We sat on the couch together, sipping coffee and eating the cheesecake. I couldn’t deal with the silence, so I got up and put on some music, shuffling through the station that the café subscribed to. It had a lot of Tegan and Sara on it. I skipped to something a little less gay.

  “I missed you,” Molly said when I sat back down. She wasn’t much for blurting things out, so I was taken aback.

  “You did? I must have missed all those phone calls and messages,” I said. I sounded like a bitch, but I thought I had a right to be.

  “I know,” she said, putting down her fork. “I tried. So many times, and I know that’s not an excuse, but I did miss you. I did. I begged my parents to let me come back and see you, but . . .” She trailed off. Oh. I got it.

  “They didn’t want you staying friends with me,” I said and her face got red as she nodded.

  “I know that’s not an excuse, but ugh!” She put her head in her hands.

  “We were kids,” I said. Why was I comforting her?

  “I know, I know. I tried. I tried and my parents messed with my head and then I thought that you hated me because I’d moved and I got all wrapped up with all these thoughts and then I felt like it was too late.”

  It pretty much was. I stabbed a bite of cheesecake and shoved it in my mouth. Not my best, but she didn’t need to know that.

  She reached out and grabbed my hand.

  “Is it too late?” My fork clattered to the floor in surprise and I looked down at our hands, clasped together.

  “Is what too late?” I said. I’d completely blanked out and lost all sense of what was happening because her touch was making my skin buzz. As quick as she’d made the contact, she whipped her hand back and folded her fingers together in her lap.

  “Is it too late to fix things with us?” Her voice was so quiet I almost couldn’t hear it.

  I opened my mouth to answer. But what was the answer? Could we fix things? I had no fucking idea.

  “I don’t know,” I said, because it was the truth. I couldn’t give her an answer. This was all too much. My brain was scrambled and I couldn’t get rid of the feel of her touch. I reached down and picked up my fork. I’d have to get another one. Molly hadn’t touched her cheesecake yet.

  “Well, can we try at least?” Her eyes were big as she looked up at me and I saw echoes of the girl I’d known, grown now into one of the most beautiful women I’d ever seen. And she just kept getting prettier the longer I sat with her. This was going to be a problem.

  “I guess so? I don’t really know. Can I think about it?” I asked. I could see the hurt in her unbelievably blue eyes. Had they always been that astonishing color? Yes. They had. I remembered trying to mix paints and capture the color in art class, but I’d never gotten close.

  “Sure,” she said, putting on a shaky smile as she picked up her fork. I got up and grabbed another one as I tossed the floor fork in the dishwasher.

  “This is really good,” she said when I sat back down. I was glad I’d put music on, because if it was silent it would have been even worse. We finished our cheesecake without talking anymore, as if neither of us was sure what to say or how to move on from everything. So many years of silence.

  “Thank you,” she said as she set her fork on the empty plate. She’d always been graceful as a kid, probably due to her ballet classes, and that hadn’t changed. God, she was so beautiful. We stood and she leaned forward, as if she wanted to give me a hug. I guess I leaned too be
cause then her arms were around me and my arms went around her as if they’d been waiting to do that for hours. Maybe they had. I breathed in the scent of spicy perfume. Not quite cinnamon, but similar. Shit.

  I pulled back as fast as I could because I just didn’t want to let myself melt into a hug with her. Too much. Too soon. I couldn’t handle it.

  “Thank you for tonight,” she said as I tidied everything up and then set the alarm before we left so I could drive her back to the pizza place to get her car.

  “You’re welcome,” I said and she gave me another little smile that made my heart flip over in my chest. We stood together in the parking lot and stared at one another. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I just waited and then she leaned in and hugged me again. It was just as powerful. My arms wanted to hold her and didn’t want to let go. But I forced myself to unclamp from around her and let her go to her car.

  “See you later?” she asked as she unlocked her door.

  “See you later,” I said.

  Three

  “You’re awfully distracted today,” Anna, one of the waitresses, said as she leaned over the counter while I was elbow deep in bread dough. It was two days after my date and I was trying to lose myself in the morning rush.

  “Am I?” I said, looking up into her deep brown eyes which somehow worked with her currently light lavender hair. Said brown eyes narrowed.

  “You know you are. Tell Auntie Anna what’s wrong.” Haha. She was about a year younger than I and worked part time at the little library in town and did publicity for authors on the side. Her dream was to move to New York, but internships didn’t pay the bills.

  I bit my lip and unstuck my hands from the dough. To tell her or not to tell her . . .

  Anna was good with secrets and she was pansexual, so she’d completely understand my feelings about Molly since she’d dated girls before. And guys. And people who weren’t girls or guys. The gender (or lack thereof) of the other person didn’t matter for her. “Equal opportunity,” she said.

  “Come on. Take five and talk to me sweets.” I wondered if Jen had put her up to this. She’d asked me about the “date” (that wasn’t a date) and I’d given her vague details. Maybe she thought Anna could pry them out of me.

  I sighed. It would really have to be five minutes because I had to get this bread into pans and into the oven before the yeast went nuts.

  I scraped the excess dough off my hands and scrubbed in the sink before Anna and I snuck out back. Jen was out for the morning and Sal liked to come in late, so we could pretty much get away with anything. Not that we would. Sal and Jen were the best bosses I’d ever had.

  “So, tell me about the girl,” she said, slouching into one of the lawn chairs. This was one of those times when I wished I smoked so I could have something to do other than cross my arms and tap my foot to avoid conversation.

  “There’s nothing to tell. She was a friend, she left, she came back, we ate pizza, I made a fool of myself, we ate cheesecake, she went home.” There was a little more to it than that. Molly had texted me a few times, and I hadn’t texted her back yet. Wasn’t there some sort of rule that you had to wait three days after? Oh, that was for a date. Still. It was a thing.

  “Uh huhhhh,” Anna said, crossing her arms and raising one eyebrow.

  “Shut up. It wasn’t like that. Just because I’m a lesbian, doesn’t mean I’m attracted to every girl.” She snorted.

  “Yeah, just because I’m pansexual doesn’t mean I’m attracted to everyone alive,” she countered. I rolled my eyes. “And I’m not saying that because she’s just another girl. She’s the girl. The one that got away.” Now this was getting ridiculous.

  “She’s not the girl. She’s a straight girl who I was friends with when we were kids. And then she left and didn’t keep in contact and now I guess she wants to atone for it, or something. I don’t know. I think she’s got some guilt. Whatever. It’s not my problem. I doubt I’m ever going to see her again.” Anna put her hands up.

  “Okay, okay. If you say so. But I think you’re going to be eating your words.” She got up and patted my shoulder.

  “Just let me know if you need some Auntie Anna advice.” Yeah, that was hilarious. Anna had just had a disastrous breakup with her boyfriend. In the café. In front of everyone. But she was such a good waitress and everyone loved her, so she could pretty much get away with murder.

  “Thanks,” I said, waving at her and then holding up one particular finger. She blew me a kiss.

  *^*^*

  I didn’t eat my words, if that was even possible, but Molly did show up later that day. As if she’d heard us talking about her and had decided to come and ruin my day.

  This time Anna was the one who came and got me and said that, quote “a hot girl is asking for you.” I dusted myself off because I knew it would be Molly. Who else would it be? I emerged from the bakery and found her sitting at one of the little corner tables nursing a cup of tea out of one of our huge mugs. Seriously, they were the size of bowls. You needed two hands.

  She blushed when I took the seat across from her.

  “Hey,” she said. “I hadn’t heard from you so I figured I’d stop in because I knew you’d be here.” Curse my inevitable predictability. When I wasn’t at Violet Hill, I was pretty much at home. Sleeping. Because I spent most of my life here. Pathetic, but at least it was my life and I was in charge of it and I didn’t have to answer to anyone. Well, except my mom, but she didn’t count. I would always have to answer to her. I could be fifty years old and still answering to my mom. Because I would “always be her baby.”

  “Yeah, coming here was a pretty safe bet,” I said as Anna came over with one of our vegan sandwiches and a fruit salad.

  “Thanks,” Molly said to Anna, who gave her a wink.

  “You’re welcome, sweetheart.” Anna flirted with literally everyone. She couldn’t help it. Sometimes we joked about the fact that we’d never hooked up for some reason. I just wasn’t into casual hookups. I had a hard time separating sex and relationships. But if that worked for her, then go for it.

  Molly blushed, which surprised me, but it was probably just from embarrassment. I gave Anna a look and she just smiled her sweet smile. Freaking Anna.

  “So, what are you doing here?” I asked as she picked up her fork to get started on the fruit salad.

  “I wanted to see you. I . . . um, hadn’t heard from you so I figured I should take a chance. Because you said you’d think about being friends and I hadn’t heard anything.” Oh, right. That. I was kind of hoping that she would just never contact me again and then I wouldn’t have to deal with it. Ever.

  Honestly, I didn’t know if I could handle being friends with her. Between the tingles I got when she hugged me, to the distance and the awkwardness, I just didn’t think my life needed this complication. Sure, it was a loose end, but I just . . . I didn’t think I could do it. I liked my life the way it was. I didn’t feel like shaking it up, thank you very much.

  But then I looked up at her and I could just see that she wasn’t going to let this go. Like that time she decided that the two of us were going to put up a hammock in her room instead of her bed. It didn’t go well. There was a lot of plaster damage. I told her before we even started that it wasn’t going to work. And then it didn’t work. Molly hadn’t given up until we tried, though.

  “I’m guessing by the look on your face that you’ve thought it over and you don’t want to. That’s . . . that’s fine. I just wanted an answer. That’s all I wanted.” Her voice broke just a little bit, and damn that hurt. She was hurting and now I was hurting. I didn’t want her hurting. Even though I was still smarting from the fact that she hadn’t bothered to contact me for eight years.

  “That’s not . . .” I started to say. “I mean . . . I don’t know, Molly. I mean, I guess we can try it? I mean, we were friends then, so who’s to say that we can’t be again?” I guess we at least owed it to our past and to each other to give it a shot. And I knew s
he wasn’t going to let it go. Even though part of me thought it was going to be a disaster, I was going to say yes. I guess.

  I was a big girl and I could put on my big girl panties and be friends with her. Just friends. I could do it. I hoped.

  “Really?” she said and the joy that bloomed on her face made me ache. She really did want this. You couldn’t fake an emotion like that and I knew she wouldn’t. She wasn’t some stranger trying to get something out of me. Hopefully next week she wouldn’t ask me for money. I didn’t think she would. This was Molly. The girl that I’d spent so many nights with, cuddled up in the same bed. Who I’d whispered all my childish secrets to. Who I’d shared everything with. Once. Could it work again?

  I guess I was going to find out.

  I found myself smiling back at her and trying to ignore the way my blood warmed at the look on her face. She wasn’t smiling at me in that way. She was a friend smiling at another friend. Nothing more.

  “I should probably get back to work,” I said, glancing back at the bakery. I had cupcakes to frost and pizza dough to roll out.

  “Oh, right, of course. You’re working.” She blushed a little and ducked her head. If she got any cuter, I wouldn’t be able to stand it.

  “I’ll talk to you later? I’ll be sure to text you back, promise.” She bit her bottom lip and I thought I was going to die. I was seriously catching feels and this was going to be a huge problem.

  “Okay,” she said. “We’ll talk later.” Now I was the one blushing as I stumbled back to the bakery and tried to screw my head on straight. I mean, at least try not to think about Molly in a non-gay way.

  Good luck with that, Daisy.

  *^*^*

  She waved goodbye again when she was leaving and a few minutes after that there was another text from her asking if I wanted to hang out after I got off work. Since I didn’t have anything better to do (besides watching old episodes of The Great British Bake-Off), I said that I’d meet her at my apartment about an hour after I finished work. So I could shower and make sure I didn’t have a ton of flour under my fingernails.

 
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