“Hey Cassidy!” My friend, Mira smiles at me. “Come on in!”
“Thanks!” I responded, stepping inside. The apartment is already teeming with life. There are lots of smiling people, but there aren’t so many people that I’d describe the apartment as crowded. Everyone’s talking, laughing, and seems to be having a good time, yet I can still hear “I don’t want a lot for Christmas” playing in the background. I don’t normally enjoy parties. They’re loud and obnoxious, and there must be something about me because everyone who pukes always seems to be aiming for my shoe. But this party seems so perfect that for a second I think I’ve stepped into a movie. A feeling of relief washes over me and I’m glad Mira was so persistent on my being here.
“I’m so sorry but there’s a problem with the TV I have to deal with. After all, it isn’t New Years if you don’t get to watch the ball drop.” Mira jokes. She motions to a lanky guy with black hair standing behind her. “Dick here will get you set up with your partner.”
“My what?” I say, my confusion falling on deaf ears since she’s already started heading towards the TV.
“Hey, I’m Dick,” The lanky guy says stepping towards me, reaching out his hand.
“Cassidy,” I respond, shaking Dick’s hand.
“So your partner will be Will. He’s the-”
“I’m sorry, but what do you mean ‘partner’?” I interrupt. I don’t mean to be rude but ‘partner’ seems like the kinda term that dictates an explanation.
“Mira didn’t tell you?” Dick asks. I shake my head. He closes his eyes, takes a deep breath, and grumbles“I swear that girl is going to be the end of me.”
“Okay,” He restarts. His tone is upbeat, but his posture screams “uncomfortable” and his eyes look like those of a man who’s having an anxiety attack. “You know the whole ‘you must kiss someone at midnight’ thing? Well, Mira hates it. She feels like it puts unneeded pressure on everyone. But she also knows that she can’t stop people from kissing at midnight since, to put it delicately, all humans are too horny for their own good. So it’s tradition that everyone is paired up and-”
“THIS IS A SWINGERS PARTY?” I gasp, wide-eyed.
“No. NO. God no. They’re solely a partner for you to kiss at midnight. You don’t have to have… but of course if you want to- I mean,” Dick drops his head, defeated.
“So, I get a partner that I’ll kiss at midnight. But that’s all I’m expected to do.” I say, trying to help him out.
“Yeah. But if you’re uncomfortable with it your partner, Will, is a really nice guy and we can probably work something out.”
“That’s okay. It’s just a kiss, right?” I smile. I’m far from a slut, but I’ve lived enough to know that one kiss isn’t that big of a deal.
“Exactly!” Dick laughs, much more relaxed. He turns around and calls “Will, can you come over here?”
I see a tall man with broad shoulders smile and start to walk towards us. He’s clean shaven with a strong jaw. He has brown hair, green eyes, and even though he’s wearing a sweater you can tell that he’s well built. In a word- damn.
“Will, this is your partner, Cassidy,” Dick explains, motioning towards me. “I’ll let you guys get to know each other.” Dick steps away and I see him head towards Mira. I chuckle to myself at the thought of how that conversation is going to go.
“Hey,” Will smiles, “How are you?”
“I’m okay,” I smile warmly. “You?”
“Well, to be truthful, I’m kinda peeved that they’ve chosen to play Christmas music despite the fact that Christmas is over. But since that’s the worst thing I have to say about this party, I guess I’m okay, too.” Will finishes thoughtfully.
“You don’t like Christmas music?!” I gasp.
“I do. I just don’t like hearing it out of season. Reminds me that Christmas is over, ya know?”
“I guess you have a point.” I reply.
“Wanna drink?” Will says, motioning to the drinks table.
Two glasses of wine later, Will and I are joking around with a few other guests.
“So I’m under the mistletoe with my crush, right? And he leans down to kiss me, and we close our eyes, and the next thing I know, he’s sticking his tongue up my nose.” One girl, Sharlene, recalls laughing.
“Oh god, first kisses suck.” One guy, Shawn declares.
“No way, first kisses are such an awesome experience.” Another girl, Tina objects.
“I’m with Tina on this one. First kisses can be awkward, but they’re still a happy memory.” Will says.
“Nah, I’m with Shawn. They’re just too damn awkward!” Sharlene scrunches her nose.
“What do you think, Cassidy?” Tina asks, turning to me to break the tie.
“I don’t know. I’ve never had much luck with kisses in general.” I shrug.
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know. It just seems that every guy who I’ve ever had the ‘pleasure’ of kissing doesn’t have a tongue so much as they have a slimy, spasming eel. Not to mention that most of them were in need of either lip balm or a mint.” I shake my head at the memory of all the awkward encounters I’ve had over the years.
“God, I hate how much I can relate to that.” Sharlene grimaces. Everyone agrees.
“I guess it’s a good thing you got paired up with Will,” Tina says, “He’s one of the best kissers here.”
“Nah,” Will replies, shrugging off the compliment.
“Bull. I’ve seen the way you kiss, and I may be straight, but I know skill when I see it.” Shawn jokes.
“There’s only one way to settle this!” Sharlene giggles, “Kiss her Will.”
I feel my face heating up. I knew I was going to have to kiss him and I don’t think it’s a big deal, it’s just that this is really abrupt. Plus, everyone is staring at us. I don’t like being the center of attention in general, much less be the center of attention while I’m kissing a guy I only met a couple hours ago.
“It’s okay, New Years is only an hour away. I can wait.” Will jokes before bending down and whispering in my ear, “But just so you know, you look gorgeous when you’re blushing.”
My blushing intensifies and I stare at the floor as Will grabs hold of my hand and gives it a squeeze. I can tell everyone is looking at us, but a few minutes later it seems everyone’s forgotten and the conversation continues on like normal.
“We got the TV working!” Mira yells excitedly, motioning to the now working TV.
“Guess those robotics lessons paid off, huh?” Will smiles at Mira like they have some inside joke.
“Oh shush!” Mira hits his arm as she smiles. “How are you enjoying the party Cassidy?”
“I’m having a great time!” I smile.
“Sorry I forgot to tell you about the whole ‘partner’ thing. I’ve just gotten so used to throwing this party this way that I guess I forgot.” She giggles.
“Wait, you didn’t know about the whole couples thing before showing up?” Will asks, shocked.
“It was quite the surprise.” I giggle.
“A good surprise?” Will asks, nudging me.
“Hmm.” I try to come up with something clever to say as I put on my best contemplative expression. “I guess we’ll have to wait till midnight to find out.”
Will smirks at me confidently.
“Get a room,” Mira laughs before walking off to talk to some of the other guests.
Before long everyone’s staring at the TV chanting “10! 9!”
“Ya nervous?” Will asks, pulling me so close that I can feel the thumping of his heart.
“No,” I whisper, smiling up at him.
“3! 2! 1! HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
He pressed his lips against mine softly, gently sucking on my bottom lip. I inhaled deeply, loving the smell of him, the feel of him, the taste of him. Nothing would come of this, but to this day it was one of the softest, most tender kisses of my life. I’m glad Mira was so persistent on my being here.