The $500 Kiss

Submitted into Contest #179 in response to: End your story with a kiss at midnight.... view prompt

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Fiction Romance Teens & Young Adult

It was late at night on my twentieth New Year’s Eve. I was wearing the gorgeous rainbow sequin dress that had all my friends in a hoot at my birthday party back in July, as well as my largest hoop earrings. Predictably, the reactions from the same people at this party were a wee bit less enthusiastic, but no one had looked at me like I was ugly. Especially the one friend whom I had invited first and foremost.

As he stood in the corner by himself playing on his phone, I kept looking down at the three bracelets on my wrist so he wouldn’t see me and think I was staring. This guy, whom I’d known since seventh grade and who had never been mad at me since, was still as cute as ever, but he didn’t seem to want to return my looks.

“Still waiting, Clara?”

I turned around. It was Vanessa and the rest of the uninvited Trio of Queens.

“How did you get in here?” I asked. “You weren’t invited.”

Vanessa didn’t blink. “A friend of a friend thought we might like to drop by. And we certainly agree; I want to be sure that you owe me 500 bucks in 12 minutes.”

I quickly turned to the living room clock. Holy shit, it was already 11:48!

“Don’t even think about lying, honey,” Vanessa snarled. “Jason already told us he hasn’t kissed you. So, tick tock.”

As Vanessa turned to the punch bowl, my heart sank. Having not gotten Jason to kiss me since she made me make that bet during Thanksgiving break, I’d had the backup plan of lying, which made me almost forget about everything. But now she’d gotten to him! Making that bet was the dumbest and most un-Clara thing I’d ever done. I had no choice now.

I had to find a way to nicely ask Jason to kiss me. I figured I’d find a way if we were alone upstairs.

“Hey, Jason?” I asked as I approached him.

“Yeah?” He looked at me in the half-friendly, half-cute way he always looked at me.

“Can we talk upstairs?”

“About what?”

“I want to ask you something, but not in front of everyone else.”

“Uh…OK.”

Jason followed me upstairs as I went into a large bedroom.

“Is…is this your parents’ room?” he asked, giving me a bewildered look.

“Yeah, but it’s not where I want to talk to you,” I reassured him. “Keep following me.”

I opened the curtains to reveal a sliding glass door that led to a balcony. As I slid open the door and we stepped out, Jason was clearly impressed by the awesome view of the neighborhood. I couldn’t resist gazing at the moonshine on his face that almost made him look like the man in the moon. His all-black outfit provided a contrast that made him look oddly even more pretty.

“This is a great view, Clara,” Jason chuckled. “Do you ever sleep in here when your parents are out of town?”

“Well, no,” I answered, embarrassed but unwilling to lie. “I’ve asked them before, but nope.”

“Bummer.”

“So Jason, um…did…” I closed my eyes as hard I could and inhaled. “Did you wonder why I wanted to bring you up here?”

Jason raised one eyebrow. “Well…you wouldn’t tell me downstairs, so…”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Obvious. Well…I just wanted to say that…that I’ve had way more fun than I’ve had in a long time being in classes with you.”

“Really?” Jason asked, biting his lip. “Thanks, Clara.”

“And I guess I wanna say…I think you…”

Hello, lovebirds!

I turned around and found my best friend, Sheila, and over a dozen others watching us from the hall. Except for the Trio of Queens, who were standing on the stairs with their arms crossed, the others were standing in a semi-circle around Sheila.

C’mon, Jason! You know you love her! Let’s see that first kiss!

KISS! KISS! KISS! KISS!

I couldn’t believe it. Sheila, and everyone else, was chanting for Jason to kiss me. I was so shocked that I couldn’t figure out whether I truly wanted him to kiss me right now or not.

Jason looked at me like his life was in danger before dashing back inside and into my parents’ closet.

I knew that Sheila was a big cheerleader for me to get a boyfriend, but this was just too much. I stomped up to the doorway and let out a brutal reproach.

SHUT UP!” I bellowed, and waited for the echo to stop. “Stay right there. Be quiet and don’t move until Jason and I come back.”

With that, I slammed the door and put a chair against the knob.

As I headed for the closet, I cringed at the sounds of snickers and groans. Hearing people express shameless schadenfreude like that just makes me so mad.

I went into the closet and, after fishing through my dad’s collection of leather jackets, I found Jason sitting in the corner, his face buried in his knees.

“They’re onto you, Clara,” he said as he peered up at me.

“Onto me?”

“I know you’ve been flirting with me, Clara,” Jason said as he squeezed his knees in his arms like he was his own security blanket. “Your friends know it, too. They heard Vanessa tell me about you wanting me to kiss you, so…”

“You mean you know about the…”

“The what?”

Shit, he didn’t know that much. “The…fact that I love you?”

“Yeah, and so they’ve been nagging me to do it. I told them I don’t want to, but they won’t stop. They told me that I’m not being a real man.”

“Oh…well, if…if it’s not mutual, then…”

“No, no! It’s not that I don’t like you or anything, it’s just…I like you, too, Clara. You’re the first person close to my age I’ve ever had as a friend. And…I think it’d be great if we could be more than that. But I’ve always known that if I’m gonna fall in love, it’ll be with a girl who told me she loves me first.”

“Oh. Well, I do love you, Jason. So do you want to do something about it?”

“Yeah, but I…I hate how I’m a guy and I still have to do it. I’m sorry.”

“Sorry for what?”

“I…I love you, Clara. There I said it, I love you. But I can’t do it, I’m not gonna do this just because it’s the ‘guy’ thing. I don’t do things just because they’re ‘guy’ things. Sheila even told me that I’m not being a real man, and…”

“What?! Sheila said that?”

“Yeah. I told her she was wrong, and I’m not gonna take that back. You’re pretty and you’re sweet, and I do love you. But…I can’t do it.”

I fell silent as I searched for words. Jason had told me before that he didn’t like how it’s always guys who ask girls out, but I never would have thought a guy could hate it to the point of refusing to do it. But there was no way I misheard him in this tiny closet. I sighed and said what I could.

“I think I get it. It’s stupid. And you’re not less of a man for believing this. I really wanted you to kiss me tonight, but…you know what? I have an idea.”

I held out my hand to Jason, who just stared at it.

“What?” he asked.

“Come with me.”

“Would you just tell…”

“Trust me, it’ll make everyone happy.”

He took my hand and I pulled him up and out of the closet.

“Everybody to the living room!” I announced as we swept out of the room and down the stairs.

Everyone gathered on the couches as Jason and I stood in front of the clock, which was now at 11:57.

“Ladies and men,” I announced, eschewing the G-word that Jason despised, “I know that many of you wanted to see some romance tonight. Well, I’m not going to leave anyone disappointed, with three possible exceptions.”

I looked at the Trio of Queens, who were on the stairs. Vanessa looked like she was going to explode from a toxic combination of sweetness and debt. But I wasn’t finished talking yet.

“Jason here is someone who has taken my heart and done something great with it. He’s made me realize that the man of my dreams is someone who isn’t like Prince Charming. He doesn’t want to date someone unless she asks him out first, but he refuses to believe that makes him any less of a man. He’s strong, and that’s exactly what I need in a man. But Jason?”

“Yeah?” Jason said, starting to blush.

“I still really want you to kiss me. And from the look of things, it seems to me there’s only one way for both of us to get what we want.”

I wrapped my arms around Jason’s hips and gazed sharply into his eyes as I turned around and dipped him. I didn’t flinch at his grunt of surprise; the twinkle in his eyes proved he wasn’t embarrassed. And as soon as he grinned, I closed my own eyes, knowing that he knew what he had to do.

I felt his hands clasp the back of my neck and his lips rise to mine. The world fell silent for about twenty seconds before the clock and the crowd before us went loud.

A week later, I still haven’t gotten my half-G from Vanessa. But that wouldn’t be nearly enough to pay for the love Jason and I share.

January 07, 2023 00:34

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1 comment

Jeannette Miller
17:06 Jan 09, 2023

Brian, I like the premise of the story of teens making a bet they could get a boy to kiss them. Both of your characters are shy which definitely leaves you with a challenge of helping them get together naturally. I think you're on the right track; although, the dialogue might need a bit of polishing. A good first submission. Welcome to Reedsy!

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