Monday, November 23, 2009

Chapter 22

I stood in front of my closet and perused my options. What did one wear on a dinner cruise? I’d immediately thought about a simple black strapless Ralph Lauren dress I had with a white sash around the waist then shook my head. We were going to be out on a boat on the water and it would probably be windy. That meant I needed some sort of jacket or wrap to wear over it. Maybe I should just wear a nice shirt and pants. No, I can’t wear pants on a dinner cruise. Dammit, this sucked. At this rate my hair was going to air dry before I’d even picked out what to wear.

Sidney and I had returned from my hometown a couple days ago. He’d spent just about the entire car ride back to Cole Harbour trying to talk me into joining his friends and family with him on the dinner cruise to celebrate day one of him having the Stanley Cup. I’d balked at it every time he asked telling him he deserved to enjoy it with the people who’d known him back when he’d won it, and had been supporting him for years. He wouldn’t hear it and said that it just wouldn’t feel right if I wasn’t there. Eventually I gave in.

I looked down at Bauer and asked him what I should wear. He tilted his head to the side like he was telling me he had no idea either. I sighed and went over my options again. Despite the fact that I was much more comfortable in pants and a shirt, I ended up choosing the Ralph Lauren dress and a black wrap in case it got cold and paired it with a pair of black open toed heels.

I spent the next 45 minutes getting ready. I wasn’t sure I’d ever spent that long on hair and makeup before in my life. That just wasn’t my style. Even so, for some reason, I wanted to look perfect tonight. I looked at my smokey eyes, red lips, and softly curled hair and smiled. Maybe I should make myself up like this more often.

I grabbed a clutch and threw some stuff in just as I saw headlights sweep into the driveway. I gave myself one last glance in the mirror before running out and getting into Zara’s SUV. I smiled at Walker, Caden, and Valerie as I got in. I was about to ask where Wesley was when I heard a voice come from the trunk behind me.

“Jesus, Misty, you look hot.” I laughed as I turned and smiled at Wes.

“I’m not sure whether to be flattered or offended by that,” I joked.

“You’re always hot, but this is different. You’re fucking hot now,” he returned. I laughed again.

“Wait until Sidney sees you,” Walker commented. I gave him a strange look.

“What do you mean by that?” I asked. I watched as Zara and Valerie rolled their eyes at me and the guys exchanged looks with each other.

“Don’t worry about it,” Caden told me. I let it go, not exactly in the mood to go where this conversation looked to be heading.

The car pulled into a parking lot a little while later. We all filed out of the car and made our way towards the ship. We were joking and laughing as we gave our names in order to board. Wesley wrapped his arm around my shoulders as we made our way inside to where others were standing and talking. I immediately started searching for Sidney once inside. Wesley laughed next to me.

“He’s in the corner,” he told me knowingly and pointing. I looked in the direction he was pointing and saw Sidney talking to a small group with the Cup sitting next to him. “Go on,” Wesley urged. I gave him a sheepish smile before walking in Sidney’s direction.

I took a deep breath and then slowly made my way through the growing crowd of people. I smoothed my dress probably a good 50 times and fluffed my hair another 50 in the short distance that had been between us. I was nervous and I didn’t like it. Christ, Misty, it’s just Sid. Relax.

I was almost to him when he turned and his eyes locked on mine. He halted mid-laugh and his smile faded when he saw me. What was wrong with him? Did I look that bad? Sidney’s reaction to me was obvious to everyone he was talking to and they all turned in my direction. I felt suddenly self-conscious with all eyes on me. I gave them a small nervous smile as I forced myself to finish the walk to them.

“Hey,” I greeted quietly. Sidney just stood there without saying a word. I had time to shift from one foot to another and still he said nothing.

“It seems that Crosby here has forgotten his manners. I’m Maxime Talbot, but you can call me Max,” the attractive guy next to him said, holding out his hand. I smiled at him and shook his hand.

“Ah, the game 7 hero. I’m Misty Fontana.” The rest of the group introduced themselves and still Sidney said nothing.

“So, Misty, how do you know this jackass?” Max asked me, jerking his thumb in Sidney’s direction. My eyes shifted over to Sidney and I saw his expression hadn’t changed much.

“I dumped coffee on him accidentally a couple of months ago. He was nice enough to forgive me,” I told him.

“When a beautiful girl does something like that, any sane guy would forgive her,” Max replied with a smile.

“Hey, Sidney, your grandmothers are here!” I heard Troy call from behind us. Sidney gave a small smile and a nod to me before walking away to follow his father. I watched him walk away, wondering what the hell was going on.

“Can I get you a drink?” Max offered, wrapping an arm around my waist. I smiled and nodded. I was going to need a drink to deal with Sidney if he was going to be like this all night. Maybe I shouldn’t have come afterall.

Sidney walked away from Misty to follow his father and wanted an anvil to fall out of the sky and land on him. He was a jerk. Why the hell hadn’t he said anything? He hugged both of his grandmothers as he thought about it. He hadn’t said anything because he’d been stunned into silence. Misty looked incredible.

When he saw her walking in his direction he’d lost all capabilities to think. He’d been mid-conversation and suddenly couldn’t even remember what they’d been talking about or even who he’d been talking to. His mind was just a jumbled mess the moment he’d seen her. He wanted to tell her how beautiful she looked, but his brain wasn’t sending the message to his mouth. Even as he heard Max introducing himself to her he still couldn’t form words. He was lucky he’d understood what his father had said. Now he looked like a royal asshole.

He made his rounds and talked to everyone on board as the ship pulled away from the dock. Even as he tried to concentrate on them his eyes kept finding their way to Misty. Every time they found her she took his breath away. It was a struggle to think of anything but her.

Then he slowly realized that every time he saw her he saw Max as well. He recognized all the signs as soon as he focused on it. Max was hitting on her. Goddammit, why did all his friends hit on her? First Jack and now Talbot. Of course it had to be the two guys who had the most success with girls too. Those motherfuckers.

Jealousy raged through him as he watched Max snake his arm around Misty’s waist and saw that she didn’t pull away. He should have said something earlier. Maybe if he’d said something Max would have left her alone. Now he could do nothing but watch since he had to make sure to make time for everyone.

“Dude, you’re an idiot,” Walker managed to tell him at one point. He couldn’t agree more.

When it was time to sit down for dinner Misty sat at a table far from him and right next to Max, who seemed to have attached himself to her hip. Sidney clenched his jaw when he saw that Misty didn’t exactly seem to mind. When dinner was over and the ship was headed back he finally broke away from everyone and made his way over to Misty, who for once was without Max.

“You look beautiful tonight,” he told her. She turned and looked at him in surprise, her eyebrows lifted.

“Thank you,” she said with a small smile. She sounded unsure.

“I’m sorry about earlier, I’m just not used to seeing you like this. It took me by surprise,” he explained. She furrowed her brows together as she thought about that.

“Yeah, I guess this look just doesn’t work for me,” she said glancing down at herself.

“No, it does. It really does,” he assured her. She gave him a real smile for the first time and he returned it. “Let me introduce you to some people.” She nodded and he took her by the hand and led her around the ship. She joked and laughed with everyone and they all seemed to love her.

The ship docked and his group of friends and family began to file off to head home. Tomorrow was another day and another celebration. Sidney had to say goodbye to everyone but he made sure to catch Misty before she left. He made sure to tell her again how amazing she looked and told her he’d see her tomorrow at his house.

The next day he was busy running around and talking to everyone who came to his house for the party. He didn’t even know when Misty had gotten there, only that at some point he had turned around and she was standing there talking with Max with a drink in her hand. He started to make his way over to her, but was called away for something else. By the time he was done, he couldn’t find her.

When he did see her again she was carrying a tray of food outside and replacing an empty one with it. As he talked with some of his family he kept an eye on her and saw her do the same thing with a few more trays. He finally broke away and made his way over to her. She turned to him and smiled after arranging some food around.

“Hey!” she called to him.

“What are you doing?” he asked. She shrugged.

“The food was running out,” she said simply, like it was her job to replace it.

“Did someone put you up to this?” he wondered. She shook her head.

“No, I just saw that it needed to be done and your family deserves to enjoy this day instead of working on it.” Was she serious? She was doing it on her own because she saw that it needed to be? They talked for a few more minutes before he was pulled away once again.

The next time he saw Misty she was sitting at a table with his two grandmothers. As he watched she listened to them talk, laughed along with them, and chatted away. She even looked like she was having a good time doing it. He noticed that she kept getting up and bringing back plates of food and drinks for them so they wouldn’t have to get up and deal with the crowd of people themselves.

As the day wore on they hardly talked, but he was always aware of what she was doing. She had basically overtaken the job as the hostess so that his mother, who had been doing it, would be able to enjoy the day. Misty was running back and forth making sure everyone there had anything they would need.

He couldn’t even begin to describe how amazing that was. She was doing it on her own with a smile on her face. He found himself realizing that he would probably never find another girl who would do this for him and his family without a complaint. God, she was perfect.

He walked inside for a break from the crowd for a moment and found Misty in the kitchen doing something at the counter. He saw Sam and Bauer standing at attention, wagging their tails as they watched her. Sidney realized that she was feeding them dinner. Even with everything going on, she hadn’t forgotten about them.

“Thanks for doing that,” he said, walking over to stand next to her. She glanced over and smiled.

“I figured their food was better for them than the scraps they’ve been getting all day from everyone,” she joked. “Why aren’t you out there mingling?”

“I needed a break.” She gave him an understanding look before she placed the dog bowls on the floor. Sam and Bauer immediately rushed to their dinners.

“Do you need a drink?” she offered, grabbing a bottle of water for herself. He shook his head. Then he put an arm around her waist and placed a kiss on her temple.

“Thank you for everything you’ve done today.” She didn’t have a chance to respond.

“Sidney?” Troy interrupted them. He turned to see his father standing in the kitchen looking at the two of them. He looked like he'd witnessed the kiss and he was not very pleased about it. Sidney dutifully followed his father outside to continue to mingle.

Hours later almost everyone was gone, and the few that were still around were currently inside scoping out a place to crash. He stood at the end of his dock staring out at the water, grateful for some peace and quiet. He was thankful for these past two days, but they had been exhausting. He heard someone walk up behind him and turned to see Misty.

“I’m tired,” she said when she stopped next to him. He just nodded as they stood there in silence for a while. At some point she rested her head on his shoulder and he put his arm around her. They stood like that for a while until he felt like he was going to pass out.

“I have to get to bed,” he told her. She nodded and followed him inside. She grabbed a blanket and started to settle herself onto the couch. He wasn’t having any of that and grabbed her hand, leading her up to his room. They’d slept together before so he wasn’t letting her sleep on a couch now.

“Misty, I know I already said this a little earlier, but thank you. I don’t know why you took over today, but I know that I and my entire family appreciated it. My mom thought she’d be too busy to enjoy today, but you made it possible for her to. Thank you.” She smiled at him and wrapped her arms around his neck.

“Congratulations,” she whispered to him.

She slowly began to pull away, her arms just sliding down from his neck. He caught her gaze and fought the urge to kiss her. Then she did it again. He still wasn’t sure if it was on purpose, but she licked her lips. He lost the battle and pressed his lips to hers. She returned the kiss and he backed her up to the bed where they fell back, with him on top of her. She cuddled up to him when they were spent and he fell asleep with her in his arms.

“Good morning, sleepyhead!” a voice yelled out, causing both he and Misty to bolt upright in bed. He looked over to see Max standing in the doorway. Max’s eyes went wide in surprise before he grinned. “I guess I should say sleepyheads.”

“Max, really?” Sidney grumbled as Misty pulled the sheets tighter around her.

“What? We have to go.” Sidney glanced at the clock and knew he was right. The Cup was leaving this morning and he had to accompany it.

“I’ll be right down.” Max closed the door and Sidney got out of bed and got dressed. “You can stay here and get more sleep if you want,” he said to Misty.

“I have to get Bauer outside anyway. I’ll talk to you later though.” He nodded before walking out of the bedroom and heading downstairs.

“Good for you!” Max called out when he got down there.

“Don't even,” he shot at him as they walked out the door.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chapter 21

Sidney opened his eyes and glanced down at Misty. She was still asleep with her head on his chest, and his arm wrapped around her. He also noticed that they were both still completely naked. He squeezed his eyes closed as he remembered last night. What the hell had he been thinking?

He knew what he’d been thinking. He’d wanted Misty, simple as that. He’d thought about it before yesterday, but he hadn’t really seriously decided to go for it until she kissed him at the fair. It may have been an accident, but he couldn’t get the memory of her lips on his for that brief second out of his head. He’d just wondered what it would be like to really kiss her. They’d managed to pretend it hadn’t happened, but internally he couldn’t forget.

When he’d woken up and realized that he’d pulled Misty into him in his sleep he’d decided that they really needed to talk. He had to tell her that he was starting to develop feelings for her. He wasn’t sure how that was going to pan out with her recent revelations, but he couldn’t go on pretending they were just friends until he knew how she felt about him.

He’d started to bring up the kiss so he could bridge into it, but then he’d made the mistake of looking right into her eyes. He forgot everything he was going to say when he did. He’d struggled to force his brain to function when she’d licked her lips. He didn’t know if she’d done it on purpose or not, but it had been game over. He’d given in to his desires and kissed her.

When she didn’t pull away, and instead had kissed him back he felt relief. Maybe that meant she felt the same way. Then she’d pulled away. When she started talking he realized that he just couldn’t hear what she had to say right now. He wanted to choose the words, make it quick and as painless as possible so he didn’t have to be humiliated.

When he’d said to her that he knew she was going to tell him that they were just friends, he’d been hoping against all hope that she’d disagree with him. He silently begged her to disagree with what he said, but she hadn’t. She’d repeated it. And he’d felt like someone had knocked the wind out of him.

Every hope he had of maybe someday having a relationship with her when she was ready was thrown out the window. She just saw him as a friend and that was that. Even so, he still wanted to know what it would be like to be with her. He figured this was his one and only chance and so he’d gone for it. And it had been better than he could have ever imagined. He just hoped now as he looked at her asleep in his arms that she wouldn’t resent him for it. The last thing he wanted was for things to be awkward between them.

He heard a deep intake of breath come from Misty and then she cuddled into him a little more. He watched as her eyelids fluttered a few times before slowly opening. Even though he tried to tell himself to relax, he felt his body tensing a bit. Now he just had to wait to see what her response would be. She looked up at him with wide eyes like she’d just remembered what happened.

“So how about last night?” she asked, immediately closing her eyes and wincing like she couldn’t believe she’d just said that. He couldn’t help but chuckle a bit to himself. “I’m sorry, was that really inappropriate?” He couldn’t hold it in this time. He let out a laugh.

“Inappropriate, no. Unexpected, yes,” he told her. She gave him a smile before sitting up, pulling the sheets up with her to keep herself convered.

“So do we talk about this or just let it awkwardly stew?” she asked. He shook his head with a smile. If there was anything he knew about Misty, it was that she was always going to surprise him and make him laugh.

“Which are you leaning towards?” he returned. She bit her lip and looked up at the ceiling as she thought about it.

“I’m thinking we should probably talk and I should probably be dressed for it,” she replied.

He agreed and turned his back to her to grab his shorts off of the floor next to him. He took longer than necessary so that she could grab her clothes and get them on before he turned back around. Despite the fact that he’d seen her naked last night, he wasn’t sure how she felt about being naked in front of him right now. It was tough not to turn and take a peek, but he managed to be good about it.

“So,” she started looking around the room as she sat Indian style on the bed.

“So,” he repeated leaning back against the headboard. It was probably a little bit selfish of him to force her to be the one to start talking, but it had been her decision to do it and he didn’t exactly relish the thought of being the first one to speak.

“I guess all I want to know is if you think things will be weird between us now,” she said.

“I don’t want them to be,” he replied. She nodded and was quiet for a moment.

“I mean, we’re two adults who are completely capable of making decisions and dealing with them after right?” she asked.

“Right,” he agreed. She fidgeted with her hands like she was nervous about something.

“I hope this doesn’t sound weird, but I can’t lose you.” Her words surprised him and his eyebrows shot up in shock. “Somehow in the past two months you’ve become my best friend and I really don’t want to lose that because we slept together.”

“It doesn’t sound weird because I feel the same way,” he told her in relief. She smiled over at him.

“Good, then it’s settled. We’re fine. Everything’s fine.” It sounded more like she was trying to convince herself than stating it. She then looked right at him. “Is it going to happen again?” Her question took him aback. He wasn’t expecting her to ask that and he didn’t honestly have an answer. If it was completely up to him then hell yeah it was going to happen again, but it was a little more complicated than that.

“Do you want it to?” he asked curiously. She heaved a large sigh and narrowed her eyes at him. What had he said wrong?

“Why do you always do that?” she shot at him, sounding a bit miffed.

“Do what?” he sincerely wondered.

“Answer questions you’re not completely comfortable with with another question so that the onus is off of you?” Dammit, she’d caught him. No one had ever called him out on that ever in his life. Leave it to Misty to be the one who did.

“I’m sorry,” he apologized. She didn’t say anything and he figured he was waiting for an answer to her first question. “Honestly I have no idea because I don’t know how you feel about it.”

“I don’t know either,” she muttered. They sat there in silence for a while mulling over things. “I guess it’s kind of silly to worry about shit that hasn’t happened, huh?” He smiled and nodded.

“I guess so,” he agreed.

“Okay, well, we should go pick up Bauer. I feel awful ditching him with my parents every night. Especially since tonight was supposed to be the only night I did,” she said standing up from the bed.

“What’s going on tonight?” he asked.

“It’s Evanne’s birthday tonight. The reason I came home, remember?” He did now. He got out of bed and they both got ready to leave. There were still some lingering questions in his head about everything, but he doubted they were going to be figured out today.

Sidney and I spent the afternoon with my family. He and Nick were getting along really well now that Nick had actually met him. My parents also seemed to like Sidney as well. Of course, they weren’t meeting him thinking he was my boyfriend, and that changed things. I felt another shot of pain when I thought about that. Sidney would never be my boyfriend.

I think the reason that we stayed with my family all day was because of last night and this morning. I knew that we were going to be okay with each other, but I think we were grateful to have other people around us for the moment until we could both get our heads back on straight. At least that’s how I knew I felt.

All five of us took Bauer out for a long walk through the woods behind my house. There were numerous trails winding in all different directions back there and it was a beautiful day out. As soon as we were away from the roads I let Bauer off his leash and we chatted as he sniffed around.

He laughed as I relayed stories about getting lost and ending up miles away from home because of a wrong turn. He laughed even harder when I told him about the time we’d gotten caught up in a rain storm and the path we’d taken had been washed out and we had to wait the storm out until a friend’s father drove out on his four wheeler to lead us down another path.

When we got back to the house it was time for us to head back to the hotel and get ready for the night. It seemed like the walk in the woods had cleared the air and we were back to laughing and joking around with each other on the car ride back. We took turns in the shower and then got ready next to each other in the bathroom.

“Misty!” I heard Evanne cry out when we walked into the designated restaurant for dinner.

A smile broke out over my face and I ran over to her, wrapping her in a hug. Evanne was my best friend from home and the only one who hadn’t stopped talking to me while I dated Zeke. She’d never liked him, but she’d loved me more than she hated him. She was more like a sister than a friend.

“Happy birthday, Evie!” I said to her during the hug. We broke apart and she glanced over at Sidney. “This is Sidney. Sid, this is Evanne. No matter how many times you hear me call her Evie, don’t call her that. I’m the only one who can get away with it.”

“And I still hate it,” she joked as she shook his hand. “It’s nice to meet you. Misty’s told me a lot about you.”

“And the same to you. Happy birthday,” he told her. We sat down at the table with the others and I introduced Sidney to everyone.

It was like we hadn’t missed a beat being apart for the past two months. Evanne and I were in rare form that night. She was the funniest person I knew and she always said the same thing about me. When we were together everyone around us took notice. Forget the sweet Lucy and Ethel references we’d heard from people all our lives. We were more like Thelma and Louise. Trouble followed us everywhere. We liked to think of ourselves as "smooth criminals."

Somehow during dinner I’d managed to talk the bartender into give us a couple of free rounds of shots. Okay, not somehow. Evie and I shamelessly flirted with him until he agreed. It was just how we were. No one was safe when the two of us set our minds to something. After dinner was over we piled into the limo that had been rented for the night and headed out.

We spent the night barhopping because most places will give out free shots for a birthday. I’m not sure we paid for drinks most of the night. Sidney fit right in with my friends from home. On more than one occasion Evie made sure to tell me that she loved him. I couldn’t help but smile at how well he fit in with us. Even though he wasn’t nearly as crazy as we were he still managed to come out of that shell of his.

When the bars closed the limo brought us all home one by one. I gave Evie a long hug goodbye when we were dropped off knowing that I wasn’t going to see her again before I went back to Cole Harbour. I promised to call her once I was back and then Sidney and I went inside.

As we got into bed that night I was glad to note that there was no awkwardness at all between us. In fact, he gave me a kiss on the cheek before turning over and falling asleep. While the pain of knowing nothing would ever happen between us was still there, I was also happy that nothing had changed.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Chapter 20

When Sidney woke up the next morning he was alone in bed. He looked around but didn’t see Misty anywhere. His thoughts went back to last night and everything she’d said to him. He was still in a bit of a state of shock at it all. He just couldn’t believe that anyone would ever have to go through something like that. Who in their right mind would treat a girl that way?

He wished more than anything that Misty had never had to experience that kind of pain. Even so, he knew where she was coming from now. He understood why she’d run away to Cole Harbour to get away from everyone and be on her own. She needed to prove to herself that she was strong enough on her own and didn’t have to depend on anyone else.

He admired that. He admired that she could go through something so horrible and come out like she had. She may not currently believe it, but she was the strongest person he knew. And he was grateful that she’d trusted him enough to tell him all that. It just made their bond even stronger knowing that he was the only person she’d ever trusted enough to divulge that to.

Just like he couldn’t forget what she’d told him last night, he couldn’t forget how she’d felt in his arms. He was stunned when she’d asked him to hold her while she fell asleep, but he didn’t mind. In fact, he found he enjoyed it far more than he should have. He’d held her long after she’d fallen asleep, unwilling to let her go. It was probably the only chance he was going to have to do that, and he hadn’t wanted to let go.

Obviously at some point he had, because she was no longer lying next to him. He wondered where she was and got out of bed. He walked out of the bedroom and felt a breeze. He noticed that she was sitting out on the balcony and had left the door open. He walked towards her and saw her looking out over the lake with a cup of coffee in her hands.

“Morning,” he greeted her. She jumped a little at the sound of his voice. He expected her to look disheveled and exhausted, but when she turned to him she had a large smile on her face and her eyes had never been so alive.

“Morning,” she returned.

“How are you feeling?” he asked, taking the seat next to her.

“Great. That was the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had,” she told him. He looked at her in surprise and disbelief. Was that possible?

“Seriously?” he questioned skeptically.

“You wouldn’t believe how much better I feel after getting all of that out. It no longer weighs on my shoulders, ya know?” He nodded, but remained surprised.

Misty was one of a kind. No one in their right mind could relive those kinds of things for the first time and wake up the next morning feeling ‘great.’ He considered calling her bluff, but he knew just by the look in her eyes that she was telling the truth. He smiled back at her when he realized that without knowing it, he may very well have helped her overcome something no one else could.

“So what’s the plan for today?” he asked. She shrugged.

“We should go to my parents for a bit. I’ve gotta get Bauer anyway. We can figure it out from there,” she suggested. He agreed and they took turns showering and getting ready.

When they were both set to go he started to drive to her parents’ house. Partway there she told him to take a detour. He did as she asked and found himself driving into a school parking lot. She showed him the elementary, middle, and high school she had gone to, which were all located on the same campus. Then she showed him the fields where she’d played softball and the track where she’d ran.

It was nice to see where she’d spent all her younger years and he laughed at some of the stories she told. He’d parked and they’d gotten out to walk around a bit. She jokingly started running the bases on her old softball field. He couldn’t believe his eyes when she slid into home. She got up laughing, and he was laughing at her.

He couldn’t help but think again how amazed he was with her bounce back after last night. This was the same old Misty only he felt something different. He’d never noticed it before, but now that he knew about her past he could blatantly see it. Now she was carefree. This was truly who Misty really was.

They got back into the car and finished the trip to her parents’. When they pulled up her mom opened the door and Bauer came bounding down the front steps. He jumped up on Misty and she knelt down to pet him. Then they made their way inside where they had lunch and hung out for a bit.

Then her mother told them about the county fair. Misty’s eyes lit up and a smile spread across her face at the news. She practically jumped up from her seat on the couch and jumped around the living room in excitement. Then she looked at him and told him he was in for a cultural experience. After getting her parents to agree on babysitting Bauer another night, which wasn’t hard to do, they were back in the car and she was giving him directions.

We pulled into the large field that served as a parking lot for the fair. Sidney parked the car where the attendant motioned for us to and we got out. I watched where I was stepping out, but I didn’t warn Sidney in time. The groan told me I was too late to warn him about the puddles in the field. Even if it hadn’t rained in weeks, there always seemed to be puddles in the tire tracks left in the field.

We walked up to the front gate and paid our admission before walking in. I grinned as I looked around at the people at the fair. We were in the country here. While my hometown was decently populated, you didn’t have to go far to reach farm country. Here we were standing right in the middle of it.

I led Sidney in the direction of the barns where we walked through looking at the prize winning cows farmers were showing off. I’m not sure Sidney had ever seen anything like that before in his life and I simply laughed at the expression on his face. After looking at the cows we moved on the horses, then to the pigs, and finally to the chickens.

“You’re kidding me with this, right?” he asked as we looked at the roosters and geese wandering around the barn.

“You think this is bad?” I led him away from the barns to the arena for the tractor pull. He covered his face with his hands and sighed.

“Where have you brought me?” he asked, a hint of a smile playing on his lips.

“I told you that you were in for a cultural experience. Come on, it’s fun!” I exclaimed, linking my arm with his and pulling him to where all the food was.

We walked through the building housing all the homemade maple syrup and similar products, testing samples and buying maple candy. Usually I didn’t like maple anything very much, but for some reason when you got it at the county fair it tasted like heaven. After we were through with that we grabbed some corn dogs and sat and watched the pig races.

We jokingly bet with each other which pig would win the race and cheer them on. I’m not exactly sure how Sidney picked his favorites, but I simply went with which pig in the heat was the cutest. After we had our fill of the racing we made our way back to where the food was. We had a little time to kill before they opened the amusement rides so I sat down at a table.

“I can’t believe you convinced me to come here,” Sidney joked. I gave him a light slap on the arm.

“You’re having a blast. Admit it,” I pressed.

“Never,” he said defiantly. Then I spotted my favorite part of the fair.

“Pickles on a stick! You have to get us pickles on a stick!” I exclaimed pointing over to the stand.

“Pickles on a stick? Really, Misty?” I gave him an annoyed look and he put his hands up in surrender. “You are a human garbage disposal.” Then he walked over to the stand to get us pickles on a stick. There was a line, so I knew he’d be a few minutes.

“Now what’s a pretty girl like you doing sitting by yourself?” a male voice asked. I looked to my left to see a guy standing there smiling down at me. He was wearing overalls and a white t-shirt and was a little bit overweight.

“I’m just waiting on some food,” I told him. He sat down across from me at the picnic table. Oh boy.

“I can’t believe anyone would want to leave you by yourself. If you were my girl I’d never let you out of my sight.” I smiled at him and decided to entertain him for a bit.

“I’m sure anyone who could claim to be your girl is lucky,” I responded. His grin grew.

“How would you like to be that lucky lady?” he asked.

“Aw, see, now I don’t even know your name,” I told him. He held his hand out to me.

“I’m Cal,” he introduced himself. I took his hand and shook it.

“I’m Misty.”

“What do you say, Misty. Care to escort me around the fair for a bit?” Before I could respond Sidney appeared with two pickles on a stick.

“I’d love to Cal, but I’m not sure how my boyfriend would feel about that,” I said glancing up at Sidney. Cal looked at Sidney who was now sitting down beside me.

“You’re her boyfriend?” Cal asked, sizing him up. Thankfully Sidney had picked up on what was going on.

“Sidney,” Sidney introduced himself holding his hand out. Cal simply looked at his hand and then back to me.

“Sid, this is Cal,” I introduced them. He gave Cal a wary smile and handed me my pickle on a stick. “Thanks for this, puddinpop.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were spoken for. I’ll let you two be. It was nice to meet you, Misty.” Cal got up and walked away.

“Puddinpop? Misty, what the hell?” he asked with a roll of his eyes.

“You think that’s bad? I’ve got more where that came from. Honeybunny.” Sidney groaned and got up from the table.

“Okay, enough,” he commanded.

“Aw, too soft for ya, Sugarbuns?” I asked.

“Would you stop? It’s embarrassing.” I laughed and took a bite out of my pickle. God, they were good.

“Don’t you want to eat your pickle on a stick, muffinface?” I asked, raising my voice.

“Are you going to do this all night?”

“Not all night. Schnookiekins.”

“I’m walking away now.” He turned from me and started to walk away.

“But, sweetiebear!” I called after him.

“You’re unbelievable!” I shrugged and laughed.

“I’m out. I promise.”

I linked my arm with his and we ate our pickles on sticks as we continued to walk around the fair. Not long after, the rides started going as the sun began to fall. I talked Sidney into going on some of the rides with me. After getting off one I noticed Cal standing there staring at us.

I was a little creeped out, but I wanted him to really think Sid and I were a couple so he’d leave us alone. Our arms were linked like they had been most of the day as I dragged Sidney from place to place and I went up on tip toe to place a kiss on his cheek. Just as I did he turned his head and my lips connected with his.

We were both stunned and pulled away immediately. All thoughts of Cal were gone as my lips tingled from touching Sidney’s. He looked down at me in surprise and I realized I had to explain what had just happened. Even so, it took a moment for my brain to move from thinking about the feel of Sidney’s lips on mine to what I had to say.

“I…I’m sorry…I was just trying to kiss you on the cheek. Cal was watching us. You just turned,” I stuttered out. Sidney nodded but didn’t say anything for a moment. I bit my lip nervously and I watched his gaze move from my eyes to my mouth.

“It’s fine,” he finally said. Desperate to avoid the awkwardness now surrounding us, I made a joke.

“I bet Cal doesn’t believe we’re dating anymore after that,” I said with a nervous laugh. It was true. The second our lips had touched we’d basically repelled away from each other. In response to my half-hearted attempt of a joke Sidney slid his arm around my waist and placed a kiss sweetly on my forehead and smiled.

When we’d had our fill of the rides we made our way back out to the car. We’d managed to move past the accidental kiss quickly and continue to enjoy our night. Now as we were driving home in silence I couldn’t help but think about it. I was reliving it over and over as my stomach flipped and flopped at the memory.

We got back to the hotel and watched some TV before getting into bed for the night. Before falling asleep I noted that we were almost as far away from each other in the bed as we could possibly be. I woke up at some point in the middle of the night to see that that was no longer the case. I was facing Sidney and his arm was around my waist. Our faces were only inches from each other. When had that happened?

The memory of his lips on mine flooded my brain again. His mouth was just a few inches from mine and I wanted so badly to feel it on mine once more, only this time for longer than a fraction of a second. Just as I was thinking I needed to move away from him, he pulled me in tighter. My forehead bumped his and it woke him up.

“I’m sorry,” he apologized when he realized that he’d literally pulled me into him.

“It’s okay,” I assured him. I noticed that he hadn’t let me go.

“Misty, about earlier tonight,” he began.

I waited for him to continue, but he didn’t. He just stared into my eyes. After a moment I was practically squirming from being held onto so tightly by him with his mouth just inches from me and his eyes staring so intently into mine. I’m not sure if it happened because one of us initiated it, or because it just did, but his lips were suddenly on mine.

I half expected him to pull away when he realized what was going on, but he didn’t. Instead he deepened the kiss, and I let him. I wrapped an arm around him as the kiss became more intense. Soon he’d shifted so that I was partially underneath him. I couldn’t think of anything but his touch and how good he tasted.

The kiss became more desperate as we continued and Sidney shifted completely on top of me. His hands made their way down to the hem of my shirt and I shuddered when I felt his fingers trail across my stomach. As I felt him start to lift my shirt off I suddenly panicked.

“Sid, wait,” I whispered. He paused and pulled back a little to look at me. “This doesn’t…I just want-“

“I know. We’re just friends, that’s it,” he said cutting me off.

That wasn’t what I was going to say and to be honest, I was a little hurt. He didn’t have any feelings for me at all. He just wanted to be friends. I’d actually wanted to tell him that I didn’t sleep around and with the exception of that one night on Canada day I’d never slept with anyone I hadn’t been dating.

“Yeah, right. Just friends,” I agreed, holding back what I was really feeling about the meaning behind those words. Even if I hadn’t been exactly ready for a relationship at that exact moment, I would have loved to have known that maybe someday when I was ready something could happen between Sidney and I.

“Do you want to stop?” he asked. I was conflicted. I really really didn’t want to at all. I wanted to feel him, but I didn’t want to screw this friendship up.

“I don’t sleep with people I’m not in a relationship with,” I replied. I wasn’t outright denying him, but God did I want him.

“You’ve always said you have exceptions to your rules,” he whispered.

He was right, I did, and I was going to make this exception. I lifted my head and pressed my lips to his, telling him to continue. If he didn’t have feelings for me, I at least wanted to know what it was like to be with him just this once.