A Little Romance

Heart of12379719-crop.pngthe Beholden.

A Little Romance

by Melanie Brown

Copyright  © 2014 Melanie Brown

Stephen was just helping a friend with homework. And then he revealed a secret.

I sat there smiling into the mirror as Mom ran the brush through my long, dark brown hair. We do this almost every night before I go to bed and have been since my sister left for college. She’s never said as much, but I know Mom wanted another daughter. Until after Dad died, I never let on that I wanted Mom to have another daughter as well.

I watched Mom’s face as she continued to brush my hair. Her smile and the faraway look in her eyes showed me that small moments like this meant a lot to her. I remember seeing the sad and wistful expression she’d wear when my sister Liz would say she was too grown up to bother having her hair brushed by Mom. After Dad died in a very tragic oilfield accident, I stopped getting haircuts and started dropping hints to Mom that I didn’t mind doing girlie things with her.

At first she joked that I was just weird, but slowly she’d start to help me wash my hair, or try to keep my eyebrows under control (I seemed to have inherited my dad’s rather wild eyebrows), and even letting me get my ears pierced. And finally, the first weekend after Liz had left for college half-way across the country, in a fit feminine fun, Mom painted my toenails. Things escalated from there.

And now, after school, on weekends and whenever possible, Mom lets me change from Stephen to Stephanie. Mom loves having a daughter to fuss over again and I love being able to express myself as a girl. And while she enjoys having Stephanie around, Mom ultimately feels I’ll grow out of my obsession – that this is just my way of dealing with Dad being gone. I’m not so sure.

“So, how did things go with Charlie tonight?” asked Mom, breaking the silence. “Any break-throughs?”

Charlie was a school friend. He’s a rather large guy, even for high school and on the football team of course. The coach practically got on his knees to beg Charlie to play. He’s also someone the bully’s are afraid of. Anyway, Charlie has a real tough time understanding math. He’s not a typical dumb jock. Math just seems to elude him for some reason. So three times a week, or less, depending, he comes over to my house for tutoring. He’s getting better at it and it makes me happy to know I’m helping him.

And I have a confession. I have a small crush on him. Maybe not so small. I feel really strange saying I think he’s cute and sometimes I find myself staring at his muscular frame. He’s the only guy I’ve ever crushed on. I’ve dated a few girls and that was fun. Dad was always talking about the day I find some nice girl, settle down and raise a family. I won’t say I’m going to abandon Dad’s dream, but I can’t deny that I enjoy Charlie’s company.

I looked up and smiled at Mom as she glided the brush once more through my hair and said, “I think we did. He’s finally getting an understanding of factoring. He’s been really struggling with Algebra.”

Mom made one final sweep of the brush though my hair as she said, “That’s good. He’s such a nice boy. Always so polite. It’s so sweet of you to help him.”

With a shrug I grinned and said, “Well, I kinda owed him after he saved me from being beaten up that one day.”

Jon, a jerk and a bully at school who’d pestered me for years was trying to push me into a fight after school. With several of his friends gathered around, Jon had painfully grabbed me by my long hair and swung me to the ground. He kicked me once and called me a sissy. That’s when Charlie stepped between me and Jon. Charlie told Jon that if he wanted to kick me, he’d have to go through him first. Jon grinned, backed away and said he was kidding and it was all in good fun and then turned and ran.

Mom said, “Well, that was certainly very nice of him.”

Grinning, I said, “He told me later he only did it because he thought I was a girl. Now, to cover his mistake, he helps all victims of bullies when he sees it going on.”

Mom said, “Well, regardless of the reason, he’s doing good deeds. Come on. It’s past your bed time.”

*          *          *

“Hey, Charlie!” I said with a smile as I opened the front door.

Charlie just gave me a shy smile and said, “Hey, Stevie. I’m here for my lesson.”

I said, “Come on back to the den and let’s get started.”

Charlie followed me down the hall to the back room Mom always referred to as the den. There was a long coffee table in front of the couch where we usually spread out papers and books. A desk in the den was also where the computer was located. Charlie always brought a thumb drive with his favorite songs for the week that I’d plug into the computer.

I sat down on the couch as Charlie set his book bag on the coffee table and dug around in it for a few moments. He finally pulled out his Algebra book, spiral notebook and some pencils and then sat down right next to me. I mean right next to me. I smiled to myself as I opened his text book to the page marked with a piece of paper between the pages.

“Which ones are you having trouble with?” I asked.

“Even problems, two through thirty,” Charlie said he opened his spiral notebook.

I frowned as I looked over at him and said, “That’s the whole assignment, isn’t it?”

Looking sheepish, Charlie said, “Yeah. I’m just not getting it.”

Catching a long strand of hair hanging in my face and moving it behind my ear, I said, “Well, let’s see what we can do, shall we?”

As I studied the first problem, I noticed out of the corner of my eye Charlie looking at me. It wasn’t the first time. I smiled and looked over at him and his eyes darted away.

“Everything okay?” I asked.

“Sure. Why?”

“Nothing,” I said. I went back to studying the Algebra problem.

After a few moments, Charlie said, “I’ve always been curious. Why do you grow your hair so long? Honestly, you look like a girl.”

I put the pencil down and turned to face Charlie and said, “You don’t like my hair?”

Charlie put his hand up defensively and shook his head. He said, “Oh, no. I don’t care how long your hair is. If you were a girl, I’d say your hair is very pretty, actually.”

“So if I was a girl, you’d like my hair?” I asked.

His face turning several shades of red, Charlie said, “If you were a girl, I’d say something like, I really love your hair. But, you’re not a girl.”

Grinning, I said, “So, you don’t love my hair then.”

Looking frustrated, Charlie said, “Since you’re not a girl, no. I’d never tell a guy I loved his hair.”

Playing with him further, I said, “So, you’d prefer I was a girl?”

Looking serious, Charlie said, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I wish you were a girl. Or I mean, that I was being tutored by a girl. I…I don’t get to talk to girls much.”

Surprised, I said, “Really? I always thought you’d have to beat girls off with a stick.”

Charlie shrugged and said, “Yeah, they talk to me, but my brain turns off and I just go blank. I just can’t talk to girls.”

I said, “You don’t have any trouble talking to me.”

Laughing, Charlie said, “You’re not a girl. I mean, you look like one, but you’re not.”

Before I could stop myself, I blurted, “I can be one.”

Charlie stopped laughing and furrowed his brow at me. “You can what? What do you mean?”

I didn’t know how I was going to extract my foot out of my mouth. I said, “You said you wanted me to be a girl.”

Scooting away from me on the couch a bit, Charlie said, “I said I wish I had a girl tutor. All I said was I thought your hair was pretty.”

I shook my head so my hair would cascade around my shoulders. I smiled and said, “Thanks. You really think so?”

“This conversation is getting weird,” said Charlie. “And that thing you did just now…you looked just like a girl.”

Taking complete leave of my senses, I said, “Can I show you something if you promise not to go running screaming into the night?”

Looking worried and raising an arm in a defensive manner, Charlie said, “I’m really not interested in seeing your dick.”

I laughed and said, “I’m not either. And that’s not what I meant. I’m just curious what you think. I’ll be back in about ten minutes.” Something in my head just snapped. I was so tired of hiding who I was.

I ran back to my room, my emotions in a swirl. I wanted so bad for Charlie…well everyone really, to see who I really am. I knew if I asked Mom, she’d advise against it. I knew if I stopped to ask myself if this was a good idea or not, that I’d chicken out. Charlie said he wished I was a girl, right?

I didn’t have time to get too elaborate. I jumped out of my pants and boy t-shirt. I was already wearing panties. As quickly as I could, I got into a bra stuffed with gym socks and slipped a pink tank top over my head. I stepped into a denim miniskirt and readjusted the position of my bra again. I topped off my look with a pair of silver hooped earrings.

I then ran into the bathroom. I’d put on make-up enough times now that I didn’t really have to think about how to wear it. I didn’t have time for a really good job of it, but I quickly smoothed on some foundation and brushed on some powder and blush. Some mascara and lip gloss and I was done. I studied myself in the mirror for a minute to make sure I was presentable.

As I left the bathroom, I looked down at my feet. I hadn’t bothered with shoes. My toenails were still pink from my Mom putting polish on them over the weekend. I walked slowly back to the den where Charlie was looking at a YouTube video on the computer instead of doing his homework. He turned as I entered the den.

His eyes widened as his jaw dropped. Knitting his brow, Charlie said, “What the fuck? Stevie? Is that you? What the fuck are you doing?

I made a questioning gesture with my arms and said with a nervous smile, “Do you like? Meet Stephanie, your new math tutor.”

“Wha…wh…what are you doing?” Charlie almost yelled. “Why are you dressed like a girl for chrissakes?”

I sat primly on the couch next to Charlie, who then moved a few inches away. I said, “You said you wished I was a girl!”

Looking at me as if I’d just arrived from Mars, Charlie said, “I didn’t mean I wanted you to literally turn into a girl! I meant I wished you, generically, was a girl, not you personally.”

I frowned slightly, now feeling very awkward and stupid. I said, “You said I was pretty and that you wished I was a girl. I thought you would like this.”

“You’re twisting what I said,” Charlie said, growing angry. “I said I thought your hair was pretty if you were a girl. This has gotten weird. Maybe I should go now.”

Tears welled up in my eyes as I said, “I really thought you’d like me this way. I see you looking at me when you don’t think I’m looking. While checking your work, I’ve noticed several times you’ve smelled my hair!”

“It smells nice,” said Charlie.

“Do you ever smell Raul’s hair?” I asked, rubbing a finger under my eye to wipe away a tear. Raul was Charlie’s lab partner in Science class.

Charlie frowned and said, “You don’t smell guy’s hair!”

“Aha!” I said. “You see?”

Frowning deeper, Charlie said, “I think it’s time for me to go.”

I said, “I’ll be dressed like this tomorrow when you come over to prep for your big math quiz on Thursday.”

Charlie put his hand on the knob of the front door and said, “Maybe I’ll just get another tutor.”

Feeling defeated, I sighed, “You said you wished I was a girl…”

Opening the door, Charlie said, “A real girl. Not some…some fugitive from a day-time talk show.”

I stood there for a minute, staring at a closed door.

Mom walked up behind me and ran her fingers gently through my long hair. She said, “I’m sorry, honey. I don’t think doing this was a good idea. You should have asked me first.”

Still staring at the door, I said, “I don’t get it Mom. I know it was a surprise to him, but still. He sits close to me…our legs touch. He looks at me. He smells my hair. He even said he wished I was a girl.”

Continuing to stroke my hair, Mom said, “I think you scared him, sweetie.”

“Scared him?” I asked. “How?”

Mom smiled at me and said, “He likes you. You’re a friend. He’s picked up on some of your girlie cues. And now you’ve confused him. You made him uncomfortable.”

“I didn’t mean to,” I said, while I stared at the closed door.

*          *          *

I stood there and stared at the closed door as the doorbell rang a second time.

“Stephanie!” called out Mom from the kitchen. “Can you get that?”

I reached for the door knob, but stopped short of touching it. I’m dressed as a girl. What if it’s one of my school friends? Oh yeah, I don’t have any. What if it’s one of Mom’s friends? Would they recognize me? The doorbell rang a third time. I heaved a huge sigh and opened the door.

Standing in front of the door, holding a single rose in his hand, was Charlie.

“Charlie?” I said shocked to see my friend after he avoided me at school all day.

Extending the arm he was holding the rose with towards me, Charlie said, “Hi Stevie. This is for you. I’m sorry I got mad at you yesterday. I just got confused. Seeing you dressed as a girl just made me uncomfortable.”

I took the rose from him and sniffed it. I said, “Thank you. Come on in.”

“Thanks,” said Charlie. “I was afraid you’d be mad at me and not help me get ready for the math quiz.”

I smiled at him and said, “Don’t be silly. Of course I’ll help you.”

“You look nice, by the way,” Charlie said.

“Thank you,” I said with a smile. I had taken more time with my make-up and was just dressed in girl’s jeans and a t-shirt. I couldn’t tell if he was just trying to be nice or he meant it. Did it even matter?

I pointed towards the den and said, “Why don’t you go set up your tunes and get your study guide out and I’ll be there in a minute.” Charlie nodded and walked down the hall towards the den.

I went into the kitchen and held up my flower to Mom. I said, “Charlie’s here. Look what he gave me!”

“How lovely,” smiled Mom. “It looks just like the roses in my garden.”

“It’s beautiful,” I said. I went over to the kitchen drawer and pulled out some scissors. I cut the stem short and slid the stem behind my ear and then bounded down to the den.

I sat on the couch right next to Charlie and said, “Thanks for coming back to let me tutor you. I was afraid you wouldn’t.”

Charlie adjusted his position to be a few inches away from me. He said, “You’re a good tutor and I need to pass this quiz to stay in athletics. Don’t read too much into it, okay?”

I looked down at my hands and hoped I wasn’t showing the hurt I was feeling. Maybe he wasn’t accepting me as Stephanie. Well, I was committed to helping him get through this quiz. Maybe this was going to be my last time to tutor him. I really don’t know what I was thinking. I have a crush on Charlie, but I really shouldn’t have hoped he’d feel the same way. I’m just another guy to him. And now I’m a guy pretending to be a girl. I guess I should be thankful that he didn’t spill the beans about me at school. I took a deep breath and picked up his text book.

The tutoring lasted about an hour which was a little shorter than normal. It went well. We both seemed to get past the awkwardness of me being dressed as a girl, but Charlie kept his distance. And on a positive note, I had high confidence that he was ready for his quiz.

Charlie picked up his text book and notes and stood up. He looked at me for a few moments and flashed a weak smile. He said, “I need to go. Thanks a lot for your help. I had no chance to pass and now I think I at least have a shot.” He hesitated few moments before saying, “That flower looks nice in your hair.”

I smiled back at him. “Thanks. And you are very welcome for the help. I’m always happy to help you with math or anything I can.”

He nodded and started to turn. He said, “See ya at school.” He walked to the front door and left.

*          *          *

I didn’t see Charlie at lunch. That’s not all that unusual. Sometimes he goes with his friends off-campus to eat. But I usually do see him between classes. Not necessarily talk, but I see him going to and from class. I’m sounding like a stalker…

I was on my way to my last period class when I heard from behind me in a loud whispered voice, “Stevie!”

I turned around there was Charlie hurrying up to me. He took a breath and said, “Guess what, Stevie? I passed the quiz! Thanks to you, it wasn’t even hard.”

I smiled broadly and said, “Cool! I’m happy you passed it! I knew you would!”

“I wouldn’t have without you tutoring me,” Charlie said. “And that uh, brings me to my next thing…”

“Oh? You need tutoring on something else?” I asked.

Looking a bit flustered, Charlie said, “Well, that to. But what I wanted to say…um, was uh, was uh…tomorrow, Friday is Valentine’s Day and as way of saying thank you, if Stephanie, uh isn’t busy, do you think she’d be um interested in uh…”

My eyes widened as I sucked in my breath and a cold tingle flowed through me. I said, “Are you asking me out?”

Charlie waved his hand in a downward motion and said, “Shhh! Pipe down, will ya? Not you…Stephanie!”

Grinning like an idiot, I said, “I’m sure Stephanie would love to go out with you.”

Charlie smiled and said, “Thanks. After all her hard work to get me through the quiz so I can stay in athletics, I thought it was the least I could do. Is six thirty okay?”

Smiling, I said, “Six thirty is fine. I’ll…um…she’ll be ready.” He just said ‘all HER hard work’. I just stood there, all numb, happy and gooey inside.

“Great. See ya,” said Charlie as he turned to head for his next class.

I’ve just been asked out on a date. I never in my wildest dreams would have believed that.

*          *          *

I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, posing and turning and rechecking my make-up. As soon as I’d gotten home, Mom started working on my hair and it now framed my face and cascaded about my shoulders. My large hoop earrings flashed as they caught bits of light. I hoped I had everything securely tucked away.

I wanted to be dressy, but not too much so since I knew Charlie probably wouldn’t even change out of his school clothes. The dress had a white top which did a good job of hiding the fact that I didn’t have any boobs and the black skirt was very short and very tight. The three inch strappy sandals really helped me feel feminine.

“Don’t you think that dress is a little too short, honey?” asked Mom.

I shook my head and said, “No. This might be the only time a boy asks me on a date. I want to be as girly as possible.”

Mom grunted and said, “Dressed like that, you’re likely to have a parade of boys knocking on the door.”

I laughed and said, “And that’s bad how?”

The doorbell rang.

My stomach started doing flip-flops. “Oh my God, Mom. He’s here!” I turned in front of Mom and said, “Do I look okay?”

I could tell she was about to tear up as she said, “You look gorgeous, honey. So pretty.”

The doorbell rang again. I ran to the door and took a few deep breaths. As I reached for the doorknob, I thought, oh my God. I’m going on a date. With a boy. As a girl.

“Hi Stephanie,” said Charlie. He smiled broadly as he said, “You look really great. Um, these are for you. Happy Valentine’s Day.” In one hand he held a small vase with a dozen roses, not from my Mom’s garden this time and the other hand held a box of chocolates. Thank God it wasn’t a five foot teddy bear.

I took the items from him and said, “Thank you! Please come in. And you look great too.” I was shocked. Charlie had washed and combed his hair, shaved, put on a pair of Dockers and a button down shirt. For Charlie, that was like wearing a tuxedo.

“Hello, Charlie,” said Mom walking up from behind me. “Don’t you look nice!”

Charlie blushed slightly as he said, “Thank you Mrs. Palmer.”

That’s when I noticed Mom had her small digital camera in her hand. She said, “Excuse me for being a mom, but I want to get a picture of you two. Stand there by the door. I want to get one with your flowers and candy, Steph and one without.”

I leaned in close to Charlie and smiled. Charlie smiled nervously while Mom got her pictures. “You two look adorable!” Mom said as she snapped a few more shots.

Trying to rescue Charlie, I put the candy and flowers onto the small table in the foyer and said, “Well, we probably should be going.”

Mom said, “Have her back by eleven.”

I said, “Mom!”

Charlie said, “Yes ma’am. I will.”

I closed the door and we started walking to Charlie’s car. He’d even washed it. I’d be willing to bet that even the half-eaten cheeseburger that has been riding on the back seat floorboard since last August had been removed.

Charlie held my hand as we walked to his car in silence. He opened the car door for me and held it, then closed it after I was seated. I could get used to this.

After he got seated himself behind the steering wheel, Charlie turned towards me, his eyes scanning me up and down. He said, “You really do look absolutely awesome, Stephanie. Really awesome!”

I smiled and said, “You can stop drooling now.”

Charlie grinned sheepishly and said, “Oh yeah. Sorry. But I just wanted you to know that you’re right up there in the top five most awesome girls I’ve ever dated. That even includes the hooker in Tijuana my dad got me for my sixteenth birthday.”

Forcing a smile, I said, “I’m honored.”

Charlie started the car’s engine and we slowly pulled away from the curb.

Charlie said as he moved his car through traffic, “Have you seen ‘Take me back to Constantinople’?’

“The latest Tommy Kincaid movie?” I said looking over at him. “No. I’ve been wanting to.”

Charlie smiled and said, “Good, ‘cause that’s where we’re going.”

As Charlie parked his car at the mall where the movie was playing, I had a sudden thought and apparently I thought it out loud. “What if someone from school recognizes me?”

“What?” said Charlie as he turned off the ignition. “Oh, I don’t think you should worry about that. Nobody is going to recognize you. Nobody is going to associate the beautiful Stephanie with Stevie.”

“I hope you’re right,” I said as I opened the car door. “It’s me either way.”

Again Charlie took my hand and led me across the parking lot to the mall entrance. Inside the brightly lit mall I could see a line already starting to form and if I had to guess, it was for the movie we were going to. As we approached the entrance where dozens of kids gathered, I suddenly became extremely self-conscious. I had never really been in public as a girl before. Not like this. Guys don’t think too deeply, but would girls accept me as one of them?

I stopped before crossing the last segment of the parking lot. I could recognize several kids from school. I suddenly got cold feet.

Charlie tugged on my hand and said, “What’s up, Steph? We need to hurry and get in line so we can get a good seat.”

I just stood there, frozen. I said, “I can’t do this, Charlie. I thought I could, but I can’t. Bottom line, I’m a guy in a dress. This is so different from being in my house.”

Charlie frowned at me. He said, “You’re the one that showed me this side of you. You accepted my invitation to a date. You’re as pretty or prettier than any girl we’re going to run into. Where did that confident, gorgeous girl I picked up go? I mean, I’m the one that should be worried the most. But trust me, nobody is going to say ‘Hey Charlie, why are with Stevie in a dress?’”

I took a deep breath and said, “I guess you’re right. It’s just that everything just got real.”

Charlie smiled and said, “Come on. Let’s go watch a movie. And admit it, you’ve got a crush on Tommy Kincaid.”

“You’re right,” I said honestly. “And I’m very jealous of that girl he’s dating.”

Still holding my hand, Charlie led me through the crowd of other teenagers hanging out in front of the mall entrance. A couple of kids, two boys that I recognized as being on the football team approached us and one said, “Hey Charlie! What’s up, dude?” Both boys turned their eyes onto me and wore sappy grins on their faces.

Charlie said, “We’re going to see ’Take Me Back to Constantinople’.”

“Great time travel flick,” said one of the boys. “We just got out from it.”

The other boy, looking at me said, “Who’s your friend?”

Charlie grinned from ear to ear and said, “This is Stephanie. Sorry guys, but we need to get in line.” He tightened his grip on my hand and started to pull me away.

Laughing, the boy who asked about me said, “Hey! Does she have a sister?” Charlie just waved him away and we passed through the mall entrance.

As we got in line, Charlie smiled at me and said, “See? Those two clowns know Stevie, but they didn’t know you.”

I glanced around me as I said, “I don’t think guys look that deeply, but I guess you’re right.”

No sooner had I said that, than three cheerleaders from school walked in our direction. I’ve seen them drape themselves on Charlie as well as the other guys on the various teams they cheer for. Worse, they were all part of a clique at school of the most obnoxious girls.

“Charlie!” squealed Ashley as she ran her fingers down his arm. “Whatcha up to? And who’s your…friend?” She cast a withering glare at me.

Charlie put his arm around my waist and pulled me closer and said, “Stephanie and I are going to see ‘Take Me Back to Constantinople’.”

Ashley leaned in closer and said, “I don’t remember seeing you around school, Steph-a-nie, even though you do look familiar.”

Charlie said, “Oh, she doesn’t go to Hamilton.” Our school was named for President Alexander Hamilton. And yes, we’ve all been made painfully aware Hamilton was never a president.

“With so many to choose from, you go outside the school for a date?” Ashley asked.

Charlie frowned and said, “I can date anyone I want, Ash. Steph’s a great girl. She’s smart, she’s beautiful and she’s not some stuck up bitch!”

Ashley scowled and turned away from us and said, “Come on, girls. Let’s go talk to Jared over there. At least he’s still on the team.”

As they walked away, one of the other girls frowned at me and I could hear her say, “What is she? In the seventh grade?”

Ignoring her comment, I said, “Charlie, you’re still on the team, right?”

Charlie absently ran his fingers through my hair and said, “Of course I am. I passed. Who cares what that bitch thinks.”

We took a few steps closer to the ticket window and I said, “Didn’t you date her? I thought you liked her?”

Shaking his head, Charlie said, “I dated her a couple of times, but I never really liked her. Dating her was more of a status symbol. I’d rather date a real girl like you. Um, well, you know what I mean.”

I laughed and said, “No, Charlie. What do you mean?”

Frowning, Charlie said, “I just said it. A girl that’s smart, beautiful and not a stuck up bitch.”

We finally got our tickets and snacks without running into any more kids from school. I offered to pay for my ticket and popcorn, but Charlie reminded me that I was his date and that the evening was his treat. I really did feel odd having someone who wasn’t Mom pay my way.

Charlie led us to what he thought would be good seats. We were a bit early and knowing my luck, we’d soon have people sitting right in front and right behind us. And just as the lights went down, sure enough, the seats in front and behind filled up.

As the movie progressed, I put my head on Charlie’s shoulder and he held my hand. I slowly drifted into heaven. Just knowing I was wearing make-up, nail polish, earrings, a dress, panties, a bra, heels and perfume and holding hands with a cute guy made me feel all girly and squishy. I closed my eyes, which admittedly is a dumb thing to do in a movie, and smiled to myself. If I could have done it, I’d been purring. It was the best movie ever and I hardly remember any of it.

We were the last ones to leave the theater, which meant we were the only ones to see the one minute clip setting up the obvious sequel. Charlie had grumbled some, but I always insist on staying to the last frame, just in case there’s a clip at the end.

“That was a pretty good movie,” said Charlie as we exited the theater and headed out of the mall. “Better than I thought it would be.”

“I thought it was great,” I said. “It was very romantic.”

Charlie smirked and said, “Along with explosions, car chases, machinegun fire and general mayhem.”

“There’s that too,” I said as I tightened by hold on his arm.

*          *          *

Charlie drove his car up onto the driveway and parked. I have to admit, it had been a wonderful evening. Throughout the whole evening, I had no trouble imagining Charlie as my boyfriend. I’ll give him credit, he certainly went above and beyond to treat me like a girl, from holding my hand to helping me out of his car to helping me be seated at the restaurant.

I was really surprised that Charlie took me to Olive Garden for dinner. While it’s a chain and not the fanciest place in town, it must have been a budget buster for Charlie. It was crowded with other Valentine’s dates, but we didn’t mind. I was expecting to go to Taco Bueno across the street from school.

Overall, it was a great, almost romantic evening that I could easily get used to.

“Well, we’re here,” announced Charlie as he opened his door. I felt disappointed with him getting out of the car as I had fantasized about doing some serious necking in the car. But from his point of view, making out with me probably never really entered his head. He knew I was a guy, after all.

He opened my door and extended his hand to help me out. With awkward silence, we walked to my front door. We stopped in front of the door and I turned towards him, my eyes turned shyly to the ground. He took both my hands in his.

“I had a great time, Stephanie,” said Charlie.

I looked up at him, looking into his eyes and said, “Oh, me too, Charlie. Thank you so much for taking me to a movie and dinner. I really enjoyed it.”

Charlie smiled back at me and said, “I’m glad. And thank you for helping me pass the quiz.” He paused a few seconds, and then said, “You’re an awesome girl, Steph. You really are. I kinda wish, well…you know…well, anyway…” His voice trailed off.

I said, “I hope we can do this again, sometime.”

Charlie gave me an embarrassed smile and said, “That’d be great. Well, it’s eleven o’clock. I should go. Good night, Stephanie.”

I said, “Good night, Charlie.” I just stood there looking at him.

Charlie nervously stood there looking at me. He seemed to come to a decision and bent down towards me. I started to tingle with anticipation and then he kissed me on the forehead. I guess that was really more than I could reasonably expect considering the circumstances. I gave him a little smile and looked down and started to turn towards the door.

Charlie touched my arm and I stopped. I looked back up at him and he bent down again and this time, his lips touched mine. He pressed into me only a little, pulled away slightly and looked deeply into my eyes, before brushing his fingers against my cheek and sliding his fingers up into my hair and then pressing his lips against mine again in a sweet, gentle kiss. I absolutely melted.

Charlie slowly pulled away and in almost a whisper said, “Good night, Steph. Happy Valentine’s Day.” Without another word, he turned and got back into his car and drove away. I stood on the porch and watched as his car disappeared around the corner at the end of the block. I continued to watch for many minutes after he was out of sight. I just stood there dreamily, letting the warm glow of my first ever kiss from a boy wash over me.

I prayed with all my heart that it would not be my last…

*          *          *

The End

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