Kissing Cassandra Ch. 00byfartfalcon©
Author's note: I would like to thank my editor, honeywldcat, for all her help and advice! Check out her submissions!
Korey heard his doorbell ring. He muted the TV and moved his laptop onto the coffee table. He guessed it was going to be a sales person, probably inquiring about shampooing carpet or some sort of solicitation. As the door opened, his suspicion escalated to confused anger.
He moved to shut the door in her face, but she stopped him with her hand on the door.
"Wait, please?" she begged.
Crap. "What do you want?" he asked, exasperated.
"May I come in?" she asked.
He thought about it. He could just say no. It would probably be the smart choice, the easy choice. But Korey knew taking the easy way out always had consequences. He was sure she was here for a damn good reason. He moved out of the doorway.
He had made a foolish promise to her years ago, when they were best friends. Korey still intended to honor it. He was just way too nice for his own good. Other than that, she was nothing to him and he wanted nothing to do with her. At least that's what he told himself.
* * * *
Ten Years Ago
Korey met Bethany in high school through an odd series of events that Korey thought of as fate. His dad had just started dating a lady who Korey didn't particularly like, mostly because she wore way too much of her smelly perfume and talked way too much on her cell phone. Not that there was anything wrong with talking on a cell phone; that just wasn't his dad, he didn't even own one. After coming home one Saturday from a date, his dad mentioned that they had passed a trading card shop while walking downtown. He said there were people playing in tournaments and even people playing on the side walk. Korey and a few of his friends had picked up a few card games over the summer, but Korey hadn't even fathomed tournaments or playing other people outside his group of friends. He told his dad he wanted to go next Saturday.
After about a month and a half, Korey and everyone else at the shop considered him a regular. On one random Saturday, Korey noticed new people walking into the store. It was a guy and a girl who looked like twins. They talked to the tournament coordinator then went back outside. An hour later the girl was seated across from him in round one of the tournament.
"Hi, my name's Bethany." She held out her hand while giving him a smile.
"I'm Korey. It's nice to meet you." He managed to say, while squeezing her hand and attempting to return her dazzling smile.
Why is a girl playing this card game? Why is her tongue blue? Why is her hand freezing? Maybe she's an alien or something?
Shaking hands before the start of the match was definitely new, most opponents didn't even introduce themselves. Then again most opponents were guys. As they shuffled their cards, she reached under the table to sip on her bright blue slurpee and asked her brother for some dice. Korey put his game face on and won the match in two straight games.
"I can't believe you beat me with the Forbidden One!" She huffed, but then smiled at Korey, "Good luck next round!"
Korey smiled back, "Thanks, good game."
After the tournament was over, she walked over to him, "Rematch?"
For the next few weeks Korey and Bethany faced each other in one tournament or another. She complained about facing him in the tournaments every week, but Korey figured it was just because he beat her most of the time. They would always challenge each other in between tournaments.
Korey started to look forward to Saturdays more to see and talk to her, than to win tournaments and play cards. She laughed at his jokes and at the faces he made when people around them said stupid things. He liked the fact that he could be his own dorky self and the fact that she enjoyed his company and his personality.
Valentine's Day was coming in a week and he debated about getting her a little gift. One day after school he walked into the local candy store to try and find something suitable. He eyed some long-stemmed heart-shaped lollipop flowers, but after much deliberation, he decided to take the safest route and not get her anything. He really enjoyed her company and didn't want to mess it up. He "liked" her, as they said back in high school. She hadn't dropped any hints that she felt the same way, so he felt like he was making the right decision. For Korey, such a hint would have had to be nothing less than a flashing neon sign. He would rather enjoy her company as friends than have it be awkward if she didn't feel the same way.
Valentine's Day weekend rolled around and at the end of that Saturday Bethany handed him a thickly folded square of paper, "See you next week." She smiled and walked out the door. It felt like the note was burning his palm. It had his name on it in orange, her favorite color at the time. He pocketed it and waited for his dad to pick him up so he could read it at home.
Korey unfolded the square of paper as fast as he could without ripping anything. She had the text stretched sideways along the length of the paper instead of the width and she had colored an orange background with colored pencil. The note sort of babbled on in the way only girls can do. Her spelling was atrocious, but the slang and shortcuts she used seemed to make the note more personal than sloppy. He read it over and over. It started and ended with "Happy Valentine's Day!!!!" but the body was really about stuff they normally talked about. She did mention that she was hoping to hang out with him more in the near future.
Korey felt bad he hadn't given her anything in exchange, but he was hopeful that maybe she felt sort of the same way as he did. And at least now he had a reason to give her the candy without her getting the wrong idea if she didn't feel the same way. He typed up his own note, apologizing profusely and wishing her a Happy Valentine's Day.
At the end of the next Saturday he surreptitiously handed her the candy flowers with the note and apologized in person for good measure.
"Oh! Thanks!" She sounded really surprised, as if she hadn't really expected him to get her anything. She flashed her smile at him, "See you next week!"
* * * *
Korey looked at her to see if she had changed her appearance at all. She was still tall, but he hadn't expected that to change. He had always been a sucker for tall women since going out with her. She was wearing her black hair down and it was still probably a few inches past her shoulders. She was still strikingly beautiful and it looked like she wore barely any make-up. Her dark brown eyes looked sad and he could tell she was trying to guess what he was thinking. The only piece of jewelry she was wearing was a necklace, a shiny "B" hanging from it. Oddly enough, that used to be his favorite necklace of hers. She was wearing a dark blue blouse that hugged curves she did not have the last time she was in his life. His glance lowered to her skin tight jeans, which looked like she would have to spend minutes wiggling into or out of. They stood awkwardly in the entryway looking at each other. He had only seen her dressed to impress a few times before and his anger was almost overwhelmed by other feelings.
"So do you still go to that sushi restaurant we used to eat at all the time?" she asked tentatively.
He made a face, "Why?"
"Ok, this was a bad idea...I should go." She confessed as she turned away from him.
"Wait!" His hand shot out and grabbed hers. He did his best to ignore the electricity shooting up his arm from her warm hand.
"I just wasn't expecting to ever see you again and I'm reacting badly." He explained, "I'm sure you wouldn't be here if it wasn't for a good reason."
He saw her shudder slightly and heard her sniffle. She tore her hand out of his grip and went for the door.
She unlocked the top lock of the door and tried to open it, but was unsuccessful because she didn't pull hard enough. She then unknowingly relocked the door and tried tugging even harder. She was clearly crying against the door, so Korey pulled her into a hug and she collapsed against him in a fit of sobs.
"It's ok. I forgave you a long time ago. Besides, it's not like we haven't done this before." Korey said.
That last remark inadvertently caused more sobs and Korey decided to just hold her and not say anything else substantial. After a few minutes, Korey felt Bethany compose herself with a deep, even, inhale and exhale. He released her and they sat down on the couch.
"Damn door never did open properly." She said, trying to lighten the mood, "I wish I were here, not wanting something from you and I wish this wasn't the second time you've had to forgive me," she said somberly.
* * * *
Ten Years Ago
Korey sort of expected things between him and Bethany to go back to normal after they exchanged their Valentine's Day gifts. The next Saturday was the same old; tournaments and hanging out in between games, except for the fact that at the end of the day Bethany handed him another letter.
When Korey got home that evening, he jumped onto his bed with the letter in his hand and eagerly opened it. The letter was hand written this time, on binder paper, and folded into thirds. The letter started off talking about the stuff they normally talked about. It soon evolved into things they really didn't discuss in the confined space of the card shop, silly trivia like favorites and middle names. She asked him a bunch of questions and clearly indicated she wanted to continue trading letters. Korey thought the letter writing was awesome, he could get to know her even better and it gave him an excuse to think about her during the week. At the time, he didn't realize that Bethany would also be thinking about him and getting to know him better.
Their relationship intensified after they exchanged phone numbers. Korey enjoyed writing letters to her and reading her letters to him, but hearing his crush's voice on days other than only Saturday was even better. He really did not understand how Bethany could talk for an hour and a half. Conversely, Bethany did not understand why Korey barely talked at all. Korey enjoyed listening to her ramble and offered up his opinions and views as much as he could. If she caught him "not talking" she would completely stop talking and force him to talk. If he couldn't come up with anything, she would hang up on him.
"I have a crush on someone." Bethany confessed, during one of their phone calls.
Korey's interest piqued, "You do?" he asked.
"Uh huh..." she slow rolled.
"Hmmm..." No use beating around the bush, "So who is it?" Korey asked.
"I don't know if I should to tell you..." she teased.
"Oh? Why not?" Korey continued, becoming quite interested in this little game of hers.
"Because, you know him!" She giggled excitedly.
Korey quickly made a mental list of the guys they both knew, which was limited to people at the card store. His heart leapt up into his throat. He was the only guy she hung out with regularly. He always had her laughing and smiling.
Could she really have a crush on me?
He tried really hard to not assume it was him, just in case it was some other guy.
"So have you told him?" he pressed, fishing for information.
"Not yet. I'm not sure if I should tell him." she said.
"Why not?" Korey asked, wondering if she was actually going to tell him or not.
"I'm afraid he'll hate me," she explained.
"Why would he hate you?" He sort of knew what she meant, things did tend to get awkward if Korey told someone he liked them and they didn't feel the same way.
But who wouldn't like her? She's amazing.
"That's what boys do when you tell them you like them." She paused thoughtfully, "I think you know who it is."
"I really don't know. Just tell me!" Korey laughed, unwaveringly.
He thought there was no point in getting his heart broken by assuming or guessing it was him. Korey always took the safe route.
"It's you. I like you." She finally blurted.
Korey exhaled a breath he didn't realize he was holding and took a moment to let it sink in.
She likes me!
"I like you, too." He knew she could hear the smile in his voice.
"Really?!" she said excitedly.
"Yes, really." he reassured.
He swore he could hear her grin, too. They both paused to absorb the confessions that changed everything.
* * * *
Bethany had her head on Korey's shoulder and she was leaning against him. He had forgotten over the years how much he missed her. But that was then and this was now, he needed some answers.
"So what's up? Are you ok? In trouble?" Korey asked.
"I'm ok. I'm so sorry." She said sincerely, "I'm not in too much trouble, but my parents are moving and I need a place to stay."
Her phone chimed, "I need to get home. I have a paper that's due tomorrow."
"Ok. We're doing a sushi thing, so we can talk in depth?" Korey asked.
She gave Korey her new cell phone number and they walked to her car. Korey wondered what he was getting himself into.
Author's Note: Thank you for reading! This is my first story, don't be too harsh. Sorry it's so short! I enjoy both feedback and constructive criticism, tell me what you think. Don't forget to rate!