A Kiss in Boston

Romance

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1. A Kiss in Boston

 

Bitter Boston snow covered the ground near Lewis hall, right across from the campus church. Gloved hands hung to the sides of the bodies they belonged to, so close, so craving the warmth, but never touching. Casey smiled over at Caroline’s button nose, so sweetly pink when cold.

“So you don’t need to get anything else?” she asked, her lips a delicate curl at the corners as she looked at him. He could never explain it, but the warm taste of peaches still exploded on his palate from time to time when he heard the soft twang of her northern Atlanta accent. Maybe he just liked to imagine it that way, or maybe it was real, and she was a magical thing.

“Naw, I don’t think I need a sangle thang,” Casey responded, shoving against her lightly. Caroline gave him a look of mock contempt.

“Awright, then. I think I’ll let you take me by my apartment now,” she said, and he wondered if the way her colorfully gloved fingers brushed his hip was a mistake.

“Think you will?” Casey’s fingers were already on the keyring in his coat pocket. There was no question that he would drive her across the bridge to the apartment he tried to lounge in casually each time he was invited, but there was a definite question as to which parking lot his car was actually located in. ‘Real smooth,’ he chided himself.

They had this easy flirtatiousness down, but he wondered when they were going to address the fact that law and med students didn’t usually study together. It couldn’t all be in his head, could it? The way she smiled at him, the smirk in her voice on the phone, the way she said she missed him in text messages less than an hour after they parted. . .

“Yip. I’ve got that Kinesiology exam tomorrow morning. Community comes on tonight, and then I’ve got Sons of Anarchy on DVR, then I’m sure I’ll get caught in a link-loop on the internet for a couple hours, so I better get started right away,” Caroline told him, keeping her eyes and her smile at the dirty snow. “Of course, I do have to find a way to feed myself. . .”

He wanted to offer to bring her takeout from her favorite Thai place, but she had already found his frosty car and was walking for the passenger’s door. Casey sped up and almost slipped in his haste to hold it open for her after unlocking the vehicle with the clicker. Caroline stretched and reached over to crank up the heat as soon as he turned the ignition, and he smiled and whipped off his Sherpa hat. It was so peaceful to be there alone with her, especially when he wasn’t losing sensation in his cheeks. He turned it to her favorite radio station and casually placed his hand on her seat as he looked behind them to back out of the parking space.

“Getting awfully comfortable over there,” he teased.

She winked and nudged his elbow. “You wouldn’t let a lady be cold, would you?”

“Not at all.” It was hard not to say something like ‘sweetheart’ or ‘princess’, even though Casey wanted to badly. God knows he wasn’t much of a ladies’ man, and he was lucky at all just to have a girl like her want to be around him. It was the fear of messing it all up that kept him from trying.

            He stole glances at her light freckles and wondered if the magic hiding behind her eyes would truly shine if he ever got the guts to do something, or if she’d just back away from him and awkwardly excuse herself from his life. Caroline let her seat back, gloves off to fiddle with her cell phone, and perhaps there’d never been a more beautiful sight in the world. The near-wreck confirmed it.

“So,” Casey said. He cleared his throat, turning down her block now. “We’re on for coffee and blueberry scones or whatever the hell in the morning? I think you owe me, miss. You cancelled yesterday.”

“Oh, I reckon so. The bus won’t come across the bridge until around nine, though, so if we meet at the café, we won’t have much time before you gotta go to Con Law,” Caroline said with an apologetic smile.

Casey’s eyes widened. Curse Con Law, he wanted to say.

“I’ll just come and get you,” he offered instead. Caroline’s head tilted to the side and she smiled, lips freshly glossed.

“You don’t hafta do that, Case,” she said, and then they were parked. Casey shrugged, trying his best to look nonchalant. He offered his arm the way his mother taught him to do for nice girls and led her up the stairs of her apartment building.

“No big deal. We’re friends, right?” he asked, swallowing thickly. Caroline’s face fell just slightly, with all the grace of a Southern lady, or what Casey imagined one to be.

“Yeah, we’re friends.” She turned and pulled out her keys. “See you in the morning.”

Casey stood frozen on the salted steps, still eye level even though he was two steps below her now, knowing she expected him to be gone now.

“Hey Caro?” he called. She straightened and turned, expression full of surprise and question, and he pulled her down toward himself. He looked at her for a split second, watching her eyes, silently pleading for permission, and closed the tiny gap between them.

When Casey kissed Caroline, there wasn’t a spark, but a rush of heat that curled around the both of them. Casey supported her with both arms in the firm embrace that proved his theory that she would, indeed, feel perfect up against his chest. There were no cheesy rom-com leg pops or swooning, just two people sharing a warm connection in the middle of Boston in January, and it was better than anything wrought in a Hollywood studio. Caroline hummed softly, as if to say ‘finally’, and the contact blossomed between their lips and spread. Casey threaded his fingers through the thick hair on her crown, surging forward to feel more, and he thought maybe he could taste a hint of peach somewhere in the sweetness of her mouth. He didn’t consider the lipgloss now smeared across his own mouth.

Caroline held onto him through his thick sweater, panting just softly through parted, swollen lips, and stared at him. Casey couldn’t tear his eyes away, and was barely aware of his hand reaching out to feel the silk of her pink cheek. They stood there staring at one another as the steam rolled from grates in the sidewalk bellow and pedestrians passed them by. Mrs. Gonzalez squeezed past with two of her children, muttering softly in Spanish about the young whore that lived in the apartment below her.

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