Authors: Katie Kacvinsky
Tags: #Romance, #Young Adult, #Chick-Lit, #Contemporary
He stares at me. “What woman doesn’t?”
“True, that’s not very original. What else does she like?”
“Sleeping,” he says. I wait until he gives me something to work with. “All right—my dad used to surprise her with a bottle of wine. That always made her day.”
“Red or white?”
“Red. I think she likes Shiraz or something.”
We walk out to my car and I wonder out loud how we can get her a bottle, and Gray smiles.
“Maybe we should settle for chocolate,” he says.
We drive back to Dylan’s aunt’s house and I follow her inside.
The interior is as immaculate as the outdoor landscape. It looks like an art museum, cluttered with statues, paintings, and sculptures. Dylan walks me around the living room and introduces me to plants she named: Ivo, Ivy, Ivan, and Yvette. She points out her red backpack on the floor is Ruby.
“You have a naming fetish,” I inform her.
She tells me she names everything. Even her freckles. She turns her arm over and introduces me to two freckles close to each other on her forearm, Blake and Stacey. She claims they got in a fight with a third freckle, Meredith, farther up her arm near her elbow. I don’t encourage the conversation any further.
We slump down on the leather couch and contemplate what to get my mom. Well, she contemplates what to get my mom. I contemplate kissing her. I strategically sat down close enough that our arms are touching. My calf brushes against hers. It makes my entire leg heat up.
Now. Do it now, you chump. Kiss her.
My eyes slip down to her lips and then back to her eyes. It’s a way of asking permission. But she’s oblivious. She’s not even looking at me.
“I want to get her some wine,” she says with a determined nod. I sigh, because we are on such completely opposite missions right now. I pull my fingers through my hair.
“Why do you want to get her the one thing we can’t buy?”
“Because she’ll never suspect it’s from us. It will be a completely random surprise, and those are the best kind.”
I look around the room. “Does your Aunt Dan have any wine?” I ask. We head to the kitchen and search her aunt’s refrigerator and pantry with no luck.
Dylan paces back and forth in front of the counter. “We could steal it.”
“That’s a phenomenal idea,” I say.
She stops pacing and looks at me. “Really?” she asks.
“Sure. Getting arrested would be the perfect surprise for my mom. I think it would really raise her sprits to think her last living child is a closet alcoholic with a criminal record.”
“Good point. Well, then we need a pawn,” she decides.
“Somebody to do the work for us. Do you know anybody who’s twenty-one?”
I raise my shoulder and tell Dylan it would be a little rude to call friends I haven’t spoken to all year just to ask them to go on a booze run for me.
“Then there’s only one other option.”
I look back at her plotting eyes. Uh-oh.
“What’s that?” I ask.
Twenty minutes later I’m sitting
on Dylan’s aunt’s king-size bed while Dylan changes in the most gigantic walk-in closet I’ve ever seen. I glance around the bedroom, the size of an entire floor of my house. Everything in the room is decorated in blue and gold colors. Even the carpeting has flecks of sparkling gold in it. I wonder what man would ever willingly allow this kind of carpeting in his house. Maybe her husband was gay too, I decide.
“Where is your aunt, anyway?” I yell.
“She’s in Vegas for a few weeks,” Dylan shouts back through the closed door. “Don’t worry, she wouldn’t care if she came home. She’s pretty laid back.”
Dylan opens the closet door and walks out with a silly, lopsided grin on her face. I stare at her and bust up laughing. She managed to find a denim jumper. It looks like it was designed in the early eighties and it’s short on her, falling at midcalf to expose her scrawny ankles. She’s wearing a white turtleneck underneath it. The jumper balloons out around her, actually making Dylan look frumpy. She found some brown stockings with little pink cats on them, and she’s wearing brown leather sandals with bows on the top. A beige leather purse with a braided strap hangs off her shoulder. She looks forty.
“Unbelievable,” I say.
Dylan grins and turns to view herself in the full-length mirror. She hops up and down and claps her hands. Next comes the hair and makeup, she informs me. I follow her into the bathroom and we search through the drawers until we find an old basket of cosmetics. I watch Dylan apply bright red lipstick to her mouth, smudging some on her teeth, on purpose, and coating the outside of her lips too.
“This is what the tacky old ladies in Scottsdale do,” she points out. She dusts her cheekbones with dark pink blush and adds a few moles to her skin with a black eyeliner pencil. She pulls half of her hair up in a barrette and finds some pearl earrings. It’s beyond professional. And hilarious. And adorable. I think I love this girl.
Dylan sticks maxi pads on her shoulders underneath the turtleneck (to my nauseating observation) to give her temporary shoulder pads. She also stuffs socks in her bra to give her “mommy boobs.” I shake my head with admiration.
“It’s go big or go home,” she tells me.
Or get caught and go to jail,
I want to add.
She finds an old pair of tortoiseshell sunglasses and puts them on.
“What do you think?” She turns to face me, and I feel like I’m looking at my Aunt Mildred.
“You need a frump,” I suggest.
“A front gut,” I say, and pull a hand towel off the ring. I hand it to Dylan and tell her to stick it in her underpants. She gives me a questioning look and shoves the towel under her dress. We both crack up at the sight.
“I look pregnant,” she says as she checks out her curves from the side.
“Yeah, maybe it doesn’t work.”
We drive downtown to the only grocery store
where I think we have a chance to pull this off. It’s an Asian food market and a popular spot for underagers to test out their newly acquired fake IDs. I park the car at the side of the store where no one can see us from the entryway and Dylan lifts down the visor to use the small mirror. She puts on a fresh coat of lipstick and smacks her lips together.
“Just admit it,” she says, and gives me a sideways glance. “How bad do you want me right now?”
I sigh like it’s absolute torture to be sitting next to her. “Denim jumpers get me so hot,” I say.
She opens the car door and shuffles toward the entrance. A minute later, I walk in after her. I can’t pass up seeing this performance firsthand. The market’s small—not much larger than a convenience store. Dylan wanders through the aisles, whistling, and stops occasionally and picks something up to pretend she’s shopping. She swings her giant grandma purse and casually saunters over to a small selection of wine.
I watch Dylan approach the checkout counter out of the corner of my eye. I grab a pack of gum and get in line behind her. An Asian woman behind the counter scans her items. I look away and it takes every ounce of discipline I have to keep a straight face. Dylan’s buying a can of tuna, a carton of eggs, and a bottle of red wine.
She flips through an
magazine and greets the cashier with a loud hello. Leave it to Dylan to strike up small talk while she attempts to break the law. I have to admit, she’s fallen into character.
“My husband’s watching the game with the boys tonight, so I finally get some alone time. And I’m celebrating!” Dylan says as she points at the wine.
The cashier chuckles and nods. They both laugh, apparently sharing a moment only two older domesticated women can appreciate.
I bite my lips together, waiting for some slip-up. But before I know it the cashier is asking me for sixty-five cents and Dylan’s out the front door. I hand the woman my change and meet Dylan in the car. She has a calm look on her face while she adjusts the socks in her chest.
I sit down in the car and stare at her like she’s some kind of superhero who just released her powers.
She takes her sunglasses off and smiles, her lipstick wet and shiny. Why do I find her hot right now? That’s just wrong.
“It was almost too easy,” she says.
I start the car and we pull away. “Tuna, eggs, and wine?” I say. “I think that’s the most random purchase in Asian food store history.”
Dylan shrugs. “I don’t know,” she says. “I wanted to be inconspicuous. I thought it would look weird if I just bought alcohol, so I tried to imagine what else a forty-year-old would buy.”
I shake my head and tell her its genius. Dylan signs a card to my mom that we picked out earlier that day in Scottsdale. We agree to leave the card and bottle on our doorstep. I pull up to my house, knowing it’s too early for my mom to be home, and Dylan glances around to make sure no one’s looking (not that anyone would ever recognize her). She quickly sets the wine down on the front steps and sprints back to the car all hunched over like she’s trying to duck under shotgun bullets.
A woman sprinting in a denim jumper. You don’t see that every day.
“Okay,” she says as she shuts the car door. “I seriously need to get out of this.” She yanks on the tight collar of her turtleneck. I nod and silently agree she needs to get out of it. I want to offer to help.
We drive back to Dylan’s house and she changes into a pair of sweatpants and a tank top. She spends almost a half hour in the bathroom, trying to scrub off her makeup. I lie on her aunt’s bed and watch television, thinking about the day, coming down off a bittersweet high. I yell out, asking Dylan how she’s doing. She yells back that the makeup won’t come off. I get up and tap the bathroom door open to find Dylan standing there, frowning at her reflection in the mirror. The costume’s gone and there’s this beautiful girl standing in front of me. Her freckles are there again, her golden eyes. I can’t take my eyes off of her. I can barely swallow. She sulks, blind to my buckling knees.
“I know,” she says, and stares at her lips. “They’re still pink.”
I take a step toward her and reach out to take the warm, damp washcloth from her hand. It has smears of makeup all over it. I stare down at her soft lips, puffy from all the scrubbing, and hesitantly run my thumb across them. I feel Dylan shudder when I touch her. Or maybe it’s me. I hold her face in my hand and look in her eyes and she offers me the smallest grin, and that’s all I need. My eyes fall back to her lips. They look warm and soft and inviting.
My heart’s pounding.
I close my eyes and lean down and press my lips against hers. For how skinny Dylan is, for how lanky and strange and goofy and hyper, kissing her is a totally different experience. She slows down. But it makes my insides speed up. Her mouth is smooth and sweet and confident.
She takes her time. It makes me crave more.
She opens her lips and touches my mouth with her tongue and it invites so many feelings to pour out of my mind and pump through my veins until my chest burns with something I’ve never felt before.
Whatever it is, it’s real and it’s terrifying and mystifying and even though my eyes are closed I can see showers of light.
I wrap my arms around Dylan and melt against her and I swear to God I could kiss this girl forever.
Tonight, one relentless question invades my mind:
When can I kiss her again? It’s all my brain cells want to focus on: That Kiss. That Kiss should be a new Hallmark holiday. A celebrated annual event. It was that good. I want to know what she thought of it. I don’t need a play-by-play review. But That Kiss ended too soon and left me wanting more. And more and more.
I want to do something special for Dylan. I could buy her a gift, but I know she doesn’t want material things. She doesn’t wear nice jewelry. And I don’t buy flowers. That’s one gift I refuse to spend money on. I’m not going to hand over hard-earned cash for something that dies in a week.
I could take her out to dinner. Maybe to one of those trendy fusion restaurants (what that word means exactly is a mystery to me, since
just sounds like a combination of the words
nothing to do with food, so what am I missing?). But I doubt Dylan owns the right clothes for a fancy restaurant.
So, how do I surprise someone like Dylan? Get her a pet gecko? No, she’d just set it free after an awkward photo shoot.
Then, when I least expect it, inspiration strikes.
Gray picks me up after class,
and when I get in the car he announces he has a surprise. There’s someone he wants me to meet—that’s his only hint. After twenty minutes of failed attempts to pry any details out of him, we pull into a long strip mall parking lot. As soon as I see the sign for the Humane Society, I scream and open the car door before we’ve come to a complete stop. I jump out of the seat and race for the front doors, but Gray catches me in mid-sprint and holds me back.
“Wait,” he says. “It’s not what you think.” I squirm to get out of his grasp and squint up at him.
“What do you
” It’s the first time he’s ever heard me whine, and it makes him laugh.
“I’m not getting a dog,” he says. “My parents would kill me.”
I frown and look between him and the entrance.
“We’re just renting one for the day,” he warns me. “That’s it. So try not to get too attached.” We both know that’s impossible.
I grab his hand and pull him toward the building because we’re wasting time. A woman sitting behind the front counter greets us when we walk in, and Gray gives her his name.
“Oh, that’s right,” she says with a nod. “You’re here for Boba.” Gray explains to me that when he called earlier, he specifically said he didn’t want a little dog, or even a cute one. He wanted the dog that needed the most love. The underdog of the dogs.
“There’s no doubt that’s Boba,” the receptionist says.
After Gray signs a few papers and shows them ID, Boba’s brought out to us. The back door swings open and Boba shuffles drunkenly in, all two hundred pounds of him. His sloppy tongue swings out of his mouth, narrowly missing the white tiled floor. If dogs can smile, this one’s beaming, his droopy gums exposed in a slimy grin. His breaths come out in winded snorts. Gray asked for a dog that needs love, but this one looks like he just got dragged off his deathbed.