Paige Ch. 01byHeyItsDani©
The first day back to school after summer vacation is always filled with a bit of anxiety, infused with both tentativeness and excitement. The beginning of my senior year was no different. I arrived at school and spent some time catching up with people I'd not seen since the end of May, saying hi to friends, and scoping out the handful of new students we invariably get each year. It's always interesting to see who's changed over the summer, and to see what the new blood looks like. I had just turned 18 and was looking forward to a year of being at the top of the social structure of the school.
As I made my way through the building I could pick out only a couple of new kids, both of whom appeared significantly younger than me. It seemed as if there was to be no one to get excited over during my last year in high school. That changed when I walked into my new homeroom classroom.
Sitting in the back of the room was a gorgeous, exotic-looking girl I'd not seen before. I couldn't place her ethnicity, but she definitely stood out in a school with 600 students, all but about a dozen of whom were white. When she noticed I was looking at her, she shot a quick smile my way. I returned the favor.
At 7:30, Mrs. Wilson, our homeroom teacher, made a few announcements and then began taking roll. As she went down the list, she mentioned a name I didn't recognize; I assumed it was the new girl. When she was done figuring out who was in the right classroom and who wasn't, she proceeded to introduce the new girl to the class.
"I'd like to introduce Paige to the class. She's 18 and comes to us from Hawaii. Her parents just moved to the area and she'll be spending her senior year with us here at Jackson Hole High School. Everyone welcome her to JHHS when you get the chance."
I turned around and looked at Paige, and had just enough time to think to myself, I certainly will welcome her, when Mrs. Wilson continued...
"Danielle, I've assigned you as her mentor since your class schedule is almost identical to hers. Show her around, let her know how things work here, and make sure she gets all her stuff in order." Our school had a policy of assigning a mentor to new students to ensure their transition into the school was relatively painless and trouble free for them (and the school). I drew the lucky straw on this one, it seemed. "Paige, Danielle has been here for years, and she's very experienced." There were a couple of muffled giggles behind me; I rolled my eyes at the immature little fucks.
After sitting through the litany of changed rules and policies for the new school year, it was time to head off to our first class. I hurried back to Paige to introduce myself. "Hi, there. I'm Danielle, or 'Dani' as most people know me. It's very nice to meet you. Welcome to Jackson High, and for that matter welcome to Jackson. Coming from Hawaii to Jackson Hole must be quite the scenery change for you." Her dark brown eyes were absolutely gorgeous, and she had a smile that would brighten any room. Her lithe figure reminded me of a long-distance runner. I was instantly infatuated.
She extended her hand to meet mine. "Hi, Dani. Thanks for the welcome. It has been quite a culture shock for me, yes. It's a lot cooler here for sure, and there seems to be a serious lack of beaches," she said, chuckling.
"Yeah, we got rid of our oceanfront property several million years ago from what I understand," I said with a wink, making an obscure, but hopefully humorous reference to the geological history of the area. "Our first class is AP English. It's just two doors down, so let's head that way." We left homeroom and headed down the hall to Ms. Craig's classroom. She'd been teaching English at JHHS since the school opened 10 years ago, and was the only English instructor most of us had known during our entire tenure at the school.
"So what brings your family here to Jackson?"
"My dad is a regional sales manager for an international real estate brokerage firm. He was responsible for the Pacific region, but they promoted him to cover the western U.S. The position is based here in Jackson, so...here we are."
Over the remaining few minutes before class started, we talked some more about her move. I took out a campus map and explained where everything was, and what she needed to know about navigating the hallways in the building. She had a few questions of her own, and I tried to answer them as best I could. Once we got school minutiae out of the way, I decided to find out more about my new friend.
"Did you have a boyfriend in Hawaii? Or maybe a girlfriend?" I long ago made it a point never to presume heterosexuality in anyone. Paige's head cocked ever so slightly and she raised an eyebrow. Clearly, she waswas caught off-guard by the nature of my question.
"I had to leave a boyfriend behind, yes. We'd been together for a couple of years, and it's been...pretty tough."
"I bet. Wow." I let it drop at this point. I knew she'd play that question over and over in her head, and I sure didn't want to depress her by making her think about the friend she'd left behind. Besides, my gaydar wasn't going off with her at all, so I didn't sense that she had any real interest in girls. Yet. And I didn't want to scare her away right after we'd just met.
We had four more classes before lunchtime arrived. "You're welcome to sit with us at lunch, Paige."
"Thank you. And thanks for being so welcoming."
"She's just checking you out." Samantha, one of my closest friends, had joined us in the hallway as we walked to the lunchroom. Paige's confused look spurred Sam to continue. "Dani likes girls. Like, you know, really likes girls. Boys, too, but she's got a sweet spot for girls."
Paige turned to look at me. I grinned and continued walking toward the stairwell that led down to the basement where the cafeteria was already bustling with the 200 or so students who packed it at this time of the day. My two cohorts followed me.
We snaked our way through the lunch line, and then headed out to sit at the same table my friends and I had claimed as our own for the past three years, right next to the window overlooking the courtyard. I introduced our new classmate to the rest of my crew, almost all of whom I'd known since our elementary school days.
When we were done with lunch, I took Paige on a tour of the rest of the building. Our earlier conversations had clearly left an impression on her. "So you like girls, huh? Like...sexually?"
"Yes, I do." I intoned, unapologetically.
She seemed lost in thought for a moment. "You don't seem...gay."
"I'm not. Like Sam said, I like boys and girls, both. I'm bisexual." Semantics aside, I was quite proud of the fact that I fell for the person, and the gender they presented as meant little, if anything to me.
"So you've actually had sex with another girl before?"
"That's kind of a personal question, don't you think?" I said teasingly. Paige took me seriously, though.
"Oh, damn, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to pry, seriously."
She'd clearly become comfortable enough with me to ask such an intensely personal question. "Don't worry, it's not a big deal, seriously. I was just messing with you." I giggled, and a look of relief came across her face.
"The answer to your question is yes, though. And it's fucking incredible." I silently mouthed the "fucking" in a faux attempt to suggest shame at even mentioning the word. As she'd come to know soon enough, I'm known for my potty mouth.
Paige's questioning told me a couple of things. First, she wasn't put off by the idea of lesbian sex, and second, she had at least some latent interest in me. Otherwise, she wouldn't have been asking questions. Noted.
"Is it much different than sex with a guy? I mean, other than the obvious difference?"
I turned to face Paige and moved in closer to her so that our faces were less than a foot apart, primarily so that no one else would hear what I had to say, but I also wanted to see how she'd react to me getting up close and personal with her. It didn't seem to faze her in the least. "It is different. Girls are softer than guys, they like to kiss and cuddle for hours at a time, and they tend to have a lot more stamina. They smell different. And they have completely different approaches to the physical act of sex. It's actually hard to explain, really. It's something that must be experienced to be understood in my opinion." I let the conversation die at that point and there was a brief moment of silence.
Even though I'd only known her for about five hours, I decided to get a bit bolder. "Have you ever kissed a girl, Paige?"
"That's kind of a personal question, don't you think?" Turnabout was fair play it seemed, and though I could see a hint of blush in her face, she was clearly playing the mischievous little minx.
I broke out into a huge grin. "Touche. Well done." Clearly, she was going to be fun to spar with it seemed.
"I have, actually. I've made out with a friend, in fact. We were dancing at a party at a club and we both had a bit of alcohol in us. We got really close dancing and we both just kind of leaned in and kissed each other. When we got home we were still a bit buzzed so we made out. But that was it. It never went any further, and we've never talked about it since." I noticed her eyes had shifted their focus from my eyes to my lips, a sure sign that she was at least wondering what it'd be like to kiss me.
"That's too bad."
"What, that it never went any further?"
"Well, yeah, that, too, but mainly that you never talked about it again." My comment seemed to genuinely befuddle Paige. "So do you think you have any interest in actually being with a girl?"
"Oh, my gosh, Samantha was right wasn't she?" The grin returned to Paige's face.
I just smiled and pointed down the hallway. "Your next class is in the room at the last door on the left, just before the stairwell there. You'll have to brave Calculus on your own, sadly. But Mr. Hobart is one of the coolest teachers in the school. You'll like him. I have study hall next period, and then I'm headed home, so I guess I'll...see you tomorrow morning." I paused for a second. "Give me your phone."
She handed me her phone and I entered my cell number and hit the SEND button, then quickly canceled the call. "There. You have my number. If you need anything, anything at all, if you get lost in the building, or whatever, feel free to call me." I handed the phone back to her, turned around and walked to study hall in the band room. When the dismissal rang 45 minutes later, I headed out to my car and drove home, congratulating myself on not having made a move too quickly. Paige was intelligent, witty, had a great sense of humor, and seemed rather outgoing. And she wasn't afraid to come right back at you if you teased her about something. Exactly my type of girl.
Tuesday morning I got to school a bit late, but in plenty of time to get to homeroom before the late bell rang. I wanted to sit by Paige, but the seat next to her was taken. I asked the guy sitting there to swap seats with me, and he agreed. Reluctantly, but he did get up and move. He'd probably arrived early specifically so he could get a seat next to the pretty newcomer, too. I hated to burst his bubble, but such is life.
"Good morning. You survived Calculus, it seems."
"Yes, I did. And you were right, Mr. Hobart is awesome. He makes the class fun, which is hard to do with calculus."
We discussed a variety of other random things until Mrs. Wilson began taking roll. At one point I put my hand on Paige's to stress a point in the conversation we were having. She glanced down at our hands and then back at me with a slightly unsure look. I pretended not to notice and let my hand linger for a couple more seconds, then withdrew it and carried on as if nothing had happened. The rest of the day passed without me so much as mentioning anything related to romance or sex. I was going to let her bring it up or wonder if the day before had been merely an anomaly.
Over the next several days, Paige and I began to hang out together after class, and spent long hours in the evening on the phone with one another. We talked about a variety of things: boys, girls, the scenery around Jackson, hiking, school, families, etc. She seemed to be interested in getting closer, but I wasn't going to rush anything.
I watched her fend off advances from several of the boys, including the captain of the school's basketball team, widely recognized as the school's most eligible guy, having been rendered single courtesy of his long-time girlfriend dumping him over the summer for an as yet unknown reason. I took this as a sign that she wanted to see what happened with us before she just jumped into the scene to find a boyfriend, or maybe even another girlfriend. Since she was new, literally every boy that wasn't attached (and a few who were) was fawning over her vying for attention. All to no avail. And while we had a couple of girls in school who were known to prefer the fairer sex, neither of them would dare approach Paige as long as it was known I was interested in her. And of course, my hanging out with her continuously broadcast that message unambiguously.
When we were together, I began to notice that she'd brush up against me, or her hand would touch mine, all seemingly accidentally during the course of our going about our daily routine. Having done much of this myself in the past, I recognized what she was doing and I was enjoying being on the receiving end of the attention rather than the one doling it out for a change.
There were several times where I had the urge to give in and kiss Paige, but I didn't want her first serious kiss with another girl to be in the girls' bathroom, in a musty stairwell, or a hurried "we don't want to get caught" peck in the hallway. I wanted it to be memorable for her in a positive way, regardless of what eventually transpired between us.
My friends soon began to take notice of the seriousness with which I was pursuing Paige. "Dude, you are crushing hard. I've never seen you act like this over anyone before."
"Is it that obvious, Sam?" If she was bringing it to my attention, it must be pretty noticeable. "She's just got a certain something about her, a certain kind of sexy innocence that really drives me wild. And when she smiles, it just...makes me melt inside. But you're right, it is a major crush. I'm still not sure she'd even go for a relationship with another girl, though." I sighed.
"Well, she hasn't pushed you away with as close as you've gotten to her so far, that's for sure. And for what it's worth, I think you two would make an absolutely stunning couple."
"You really think so?" Sam nodded her head in the affirmative as we pulled into her driveway.
Even my parents, or at least my mother, took note. "I've noticed you spending a lot more time on the phone these days. A boy at school piqued your interest?"
I stopped making my ham sandwich just long enough to look up and give her an ever so slight smile, but didn't say a word.
"Ahh, it's another girl, isn't it?" I had come out to my parents the previous year when I had started dating my first real girlfriend. They never seemed bothered by it, and in fact, often liked to tease me. My mother had even confided in me that she had an interest for a woman she met in college, though she never acted on it. She knew where I was coming from.
"Do I know her?"
"No. She's a new kid, her family just moved here from Hawaii. She's really awesome, though. You'd totally like her I believe."
"Hawaii? That's quite a radical change of scenery." I spent a few minutes giving her the background on Paige and why I was so smitten with her, then finished packing my lunch and went on about my business.
Things continued to progress with Paige. On our third Friday at school, I asked if she'd like to stick around and head over to the football game the school was having with our regional archrival. After checking with her parents, she accepted my offer. We helped several other students decorate the school's main entrance foyer for the fall until it was time for the game.
As we walked over to the football stadium, talking about dumb, random bullshit, I let my hand fall next to hers, and then slid it down the inside of her wrist and into her hand to interlock our fingers. My heart stopped beating for a few milliseconds while I awaited her reaction. Would she be okay with this or not? If not, I might have destroyed a budding relationship. Just about anyone who's ever entered into a new relationship knows this feeling. You want to take that next step, but you just don't know if the person you're interested in feels the same way. I hate that uncertainty, but wouldn't trade it for the world. My tummy was so full of butterflies I thought I was going to throw up.
She didn't pull her hand away. I held it for a brief second, and then brought it up and pretended to be examining her life line. "Looks like you're in for a long life, if you believe in that sort of thing."
I felt her turn to look at me, so I turned my face to meet her eyes. Neither of us said a word, but the ear-to-ear smile on her face told me what I needed to know. We started to move into one another to kiss, but the school cheerleading squad came running by with their entourage in tow, interrupting any chance I had of sealing the deal at that point. We continued on to the stadium and my heart resumed its regular rhythm, though the butterflies remained. We spent the entire game joined at the hip. Afterward, I took her home and walked her to the front door.
As we exchanged a bit of good night banter, I noticed again that she kept looking at my mouth. I sensed that if I didn't take action she was going to, even though that just didn't seem to be her style. I started playing with her hair, then placed my hands on her hips and leaned in close enough to allow my lips to linger a hair's breadth from hers, just for a couple of seconds to see if she was going to pull away. She didn't.
Her scent was intoxicating, erotic. I could easily have spent an hour there breathing her in. When our lips finally met, her kiss was soft but aggressive, and not the least bit tentative. I've yet to find anything that gets my juices flowing like that very first kiss with a new lover, especially with someone who's as into you as you are into them in that very moment. It's one of the most magical feelings imaginable.
"God, you really know how to kiss," I whispered as I kissed my way down her cheek. I'd grabbed her hair gently and began kissing my way around the side of her face and behind her ear, my absolute favorite place to be kissed. I've never known a girl who didn't melt when kissed there, and I wanted to leave an impression. Based on the little exhalation of air from her mouth, I think my plan succeeded.
As we stood alone that cool night on her front porch, with just the faint light of the one bulb next to the front door illuminating us, all I could hear was the heartbeat in my chest and the interplay of our breathing patterns as we continued teasing each others' mouths with our own. At that very moment, there was nothing else in the world except the two of us.
Thus began what would turn out to be an interesting year for the both of us.