“Why wouldn’t we?” Silas asks.
I take the seat I am offered and stare up at the three of them.
“You punch a guy, throw over a couple of tables and wonder why you shouldn’t come back?” the boy says, along with a laugh. I think he’s Annie/Amy’s boyfriend by the way he looks at her—like they’re in on something together. Life, maybe.
It’s how Silas and I look at each other. Except we really are in on something together.
“You acted like an ass,” she says.
“Amy,” the spare boy says. “Don’t.”
I want to know more about this person Silas punched.
“He deserved it,” I say. Amy raises her eyebrows and shakes her head. Whatever she’s thinking, she’s too afraid to say it, because she turns away. I try her boyfriend next. “Don’t you think so?” I ask innocent-like. He shrugs. Goes to sit next to Amy. They’re all scared of me, I think, but why?
I order a Coke. Amy’s head snaps around to look at me when she hears.
“Regular Coke? Not Diet?”
“Do I look like I need to drink diet?” I snap. She shrinks back. I don’t know where that came from—honest to god. I don’t even know how much I weigh. I decide to shut up and let Silas do the detective work before I offend someone again. He drops down next to Amy’s boyfriend and they begin to talk. The music makes it impossible to eavesdrop, and Amy is doing her best not to look at me, so I people-watch. People…they all have memories…know who they are. I’m jealous.
“Let’s go, Charlie.” Silas is standing above me, waiting. Amy and her boyfriend are watching us from across the table. It’s a big table, I wonder who else is coming to join them and how many of those people hate me.
Out of the restaurant and back onto the street. Silas clears his throat.
“I got into a fight.”
“I heard,” I say. “Did they tell you who it was?”
I wait and, when he doesn’t offer the information, I say, “Well…?”
“I punched the owner in the face. Brian’s father.”
My head snaps around. “What the hell?”
“Yeah,” he says. He rubs the scruff on his chin thoughtfully. “Because he said something about you…”
“Me?” I get a sick feeling in my stomach. I know what’s coming, but I don’t know what’s coming.
“He told me he was giving you a job as a waitress…”
Okay, that’s not so bad. We need the money.
“Because you were Brian’s girl. So I punched him, I guess.”
“Yeah. That kid—Eller—told me we needed to leave before Brian’s dad called the cops.”
“The cops?” I echo.
“I guess Brian’s dad and my dad have worked together on some stuff. He agreed not to press charges last week because of it, but I’m not supposed to go back there. Also, Landon has been calling around, looking for me. Apparently my dad is wondering why I left practice. Everyone’s pretty pissed about that.”
“Oops,” I say.
“Yeah, oops.” He says it like he doesn’t care.
We go back the way we came, both of us quiet. We pass a few street artists I didn’t notice before. Two of them look like a couple. The man is playing the bagpipes while the woman draws pictures in colored chalk on the sidewalk. We step over the drawings, both of our heads down, examining. Silas takes out his camera and snaps a few pictures while I watch her turn a few lines into a couple kissing.
A couple kissing. That reminds me.
“We need to kiss,” I say to him.
He almost drops his phone. His eyes are big when he looks at me.
“To see if something happens…like in the fairy tales we talked about.”
“Oh,” he says. “Yeah, sure. Okay. Where? Now?”
I roll my eyes and walk away from him, toward a fountain near a church. Silas follows behind. I want to see his face, but I don’t look. This is all business. I can’t make it into something else. It’s an experiment. That’s it.
When we reach the fountain, we both sit down on the rim of it. I don’t want to do it this way, so I stand up and face him.
“Okay,” I say, coming to stand in front of him. “Close your eyes.”
He does, but there’s a grin on his face.
“Keep them closed,” I instruct. I don’t want him to see me. I barely know what I look like; I don’t know if my face contorts under pressure.
His head is tilted up, and mine is tilted down. I put my hands on his shoulders and feel his hands lift to my waist as he pulls me closer, between his knees. His hands slide up without warning, his thumbs grazing my stomach and then making a quick swipe along the underside of my bra. My stomach clenches.
“Sorry,” he says. “I can’t see what I’m doing.”
I smirk this time and I’m glad he can’t see my reaction right now. “Put your hands back on my waist,” I command.
He puts them too low and now his palms are on my ass. He squeezes a little, and I smack his arm.
“What?” He laughs. “I can’t see!”
“Up,” I say. He slides them a little higher, but slowly. I tingle down to my toes. “Higher,” I say, again.
He takes them up a quarter of an inch. “Is this—”
Before he can finish his sentence, I lean my face down and kiss him. He’s smiling at first, still in the middle of his little game, but when he feels my lips, his smile dissolves.
His mouth is soft. I lift my hands to his face and cup it as he pulls me tighter, wrapping his arms around my backside. I’m kissing down and he’s kissing up. At first, I expect to just give him a peck. That’s all they ever show in the fairy tales—a quick peck and the curse is broken. We’d have gotten our memories back by now if this were going to work. The experiment should be over, but neither of us stops.
He kisses with soft lips and a firm tongue. It’s not sloppy or wet, it moves in and out of my mouth sensually as his lips suck softly on mine. I run my fingers up the back of his neck and into his hair, and that’s when he stands, forcing me to take a step back and change position. I do a good job of hiding my gasp.
Now I’m kissing up and he’s kissing down. Except he’s holding me to him, his arm wrapped around my waist, his free hand curled around the back of my neck. I cling to his shirt, dizzy. Soft lips, dragging…tongue between my lips…pressure on my back…something pressing between us that makes me feel a riot of heat. I push away, gasping.
I stand there looking at him, and he looking at me.
Something has happened. It’s not our memories that have awoken, but something else that makes us feel drunk.
And it occurs to me as I stand here, wanting him to kiss me again, that this is exactly what doesn’t need to happen. We’re going to want more of the new us and we’ll lose focus.
He slides a hand down his face as if to sober himself up. He smiles. “I don’t care what our real first kiss was,” he says. “That’s the one I want to remember.”
I stare at his smile long enough to remember it, and then I turn and walk away.