The Cost of Love

cost of love

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It was the day of my graduation, and I’d invited my closest group of friends over to the house to celebrate the end of high school. We’d all had a good time talking, eating, dancing, laughing, and watching movies. Most everyone had left the party by 11:00 p.m. except for a couple of friends who were passed out asleep on the floor in sleeping bags in the living room. Luke and I were sitting on the loveseat in the dark watching TV.

“So how does it feel to be a high school graduate?”

“Fucking fantastic!” I said, with a big smile.

“High school is the best. Sometimes I wish I could go back.”

I made a face. “Are you serious? I would never want to redo high school,” I said shaking my head.

“You say that now.”

“No, trust me. I will not miss high school. I fucking hated it and I’m so glad it’s over with. I can’t even believe I went to prom. What a waste of time and money that was.”

“You know, I totally would have gone with you if you’d asked me.”

I laughed. “Why would I ask you? Besides, I think Manny got his feelings hurt that I didn’t ask him. Honestly, though, I didn’t think he’d want to attend some stupid high school prom at his age. I mean, he’s twenty-two years old. I guess I was wrong.”

“Well, at least there was nothing to be jealous of. You took Mason, who happens to be your gay best friend,” Luke pointed out. “It’s not like you invited Casey.”

I reached over and pinched him. “Jerk!” I laughed. “I should have never told you about him.”

He laughed. “It was quite interesting to see it all in action tonight. Casey and Manny were glaring at each other all night.”

I rolled my eyes. “They were not.”

“Yes, they were! Ask Heather or anyone else who was here tonight.”

“Whatever,” I said, hoping that I wasn’t blushing.

“And how does it feel to have two guys fighting over you?” He teased.

“It’s not even like that,” I argued.

He shook his head. “I know what I saw.”

“Trust me, you’re wrong. Casey doesn’t — it’s just not that way with us,” I said, though I couldn’t help wish it were true that Casey was jealous, given my feelings for him the last couple of years.

“If you say so.” I could feel him looking at me as I pretended to be interested in whatever TV show was on. “Seriously, had I been the one to take you to your prom, we would have had fun.”

“I doubt it. It was pretty lame. Mason and I tried to make the best of it, but it wasn’t like it was a night to remember. At least I had an excuse to dress up, though. That was fun.”

“Yeah, I heard you looked hot.” I looked away and blushed.

“From whom?”

“From Manny. Who else?” I’d forgotten that Manny had stopped by before we’d left for prom to say hello. Honestly, I think he’d really stopped by to check to make sure that I was still taking Mason and not someone else more heterosexual.

“Well, you know me. I never wear make-up or dress up, so it was kind of like being queen for a day. It was nice to feel… pretty, I guess,” I admitted.

“Julie, you are pretty. You don’t need all that stuff. You look great the way you are. And I actually like that you’re the kind of girl that doesn’t have to carry her make-up bag everywhere she goes.”

It embarrassed me that I was blushing again, and I refused to look in his direction and continued to keep my eyes on the TV. As we sat there in silence, I noticed that our knees were touching and that we were actually sitting closer together — definitely closer than we had been when we first sat down on the sofa. I could feel him staring at me again as I looked down at my hands, the tension thick in the air, and when I finally managed to look back at him, he looked at his watch.

“Well, it’s getting pretty late. I should probably get going.”

I hadn’t expected that, and tried to hide my disappointment. “Oh… okay. Yeah, I guess it is getting kind of late.”

“Unless…” he started to say, then placed his hand on my knee, and I felt a chill go down my spine.

“Unless what?” I whispered.

“Unless you wanted me to stay a little longer.”

“Do you want to go?” I asked, leaning my face a little closer to his.

He shook his head. “No,” he said, and before I could say anything else, he brushed his lips against mine so softly. He pulled back a little then, like he was waiting to see what I would do, our lips still just centimeters away.

My mind was on overdrive. I’d been thinking about this moment for months. It was happening right now. But I hesitated, knowing that this was probably a really bad idea. Manny was Luke’s friend. But no matter how much I knew that it was probably a big mistake, I pushed Manny and everything else out of my mind until all that was left was the tingling sensation I felt throughout my body. I hadn’t ever felt that with anyone else, and I wanted so badly to hold onto it.

I next found myself crashing my lips against Luke’s. I pulled myself up, straddled his lap, and shivered as I felt his hands reach around my back and run through the back of my long hair, before giving it a gentle tug at the base of my neck.

It was our first kiss, and the beginning of trouble.

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