After the night Edward drives us home, he kind of gives me space. He’s not avoiding me, but he’s not pressing to spend time with me, either. And I’m pathetically grateful, because everything inside of me is all out of whack. As I’d followed him up the stairs to our bedrooms, my legs were like jelly, all wobbly. But he’d just turned at his door and gave me a beautiful smile that made me feel like I had a horde of butterflies in my stomach, then left me staring at his closed door.
I had vivid dreams that night, dreams that starred Edward as a kind of alien presence. I knew him, but I didn’t. His face, his smile, his body—those were the same. But his eyes, his voice and his touch—what he did with them, what they did to me—those were what woke me up, sweating and gasping and tingling.
And I couldn’t help but wonder if he was feeling those same tingly feelings I was. Did he know what they were? I couldn’t ask, I was too embarrassed. Maybe I was imagining the whole thing, the long stares, the touching?
Was he as confused as I was? I wished, oh how I wished I could talk to him about it, but I didn’t see how I could. Maybe this tingling thing was supposed to happen, maybe it was normal. And maybe it wasn’t. Maybe there was something horribly wrong with me, something that I wouldn’t want to speak of because I’d be sent to the loony bin.
I did a lot of pillow screaming that week.
. . .
As soon as the thought occurred to me, I blurted it out to Rose before my brain could catch up. “Would you mind if Emmett taught me how to kiss?”
Rose and Alice both sat up in their patio chairs to look at me as I covered my face with my hands.
“Say what?” Alice asks.
Crap! Why had I said that?
“He hasn’t even kissed me yet,” Rose says.
I lowered my hands. Time to own up to this idea. Oh, Great Googly-Moogly, give me courage.
“Uh, well, I’m turning sixteen this year … and I have to be kissed before I turn sixteen, you know? I don’t want to be sweet sixteen and never been kissed, do you?”
She huffs. “I’m not. Riley’s kissed me lots of times. But I haven’t even kissed Emmett yet, Bella.”
I groan and put my face back into my hands. I knew this was a bad idea. “You can go first,” I say hopefully, my voice coming out muffled.
“Why does it have to be Emmett?”
“Who else am I going to ask? Emmett knows I don’t feel that way about him, so I figure we’ll just kiss and things will go back to normal.”
“What about Jasper?”
“Jasper hasn’t kissed anyone. Me even asking him would rock his world, and not in a good way. I don’t think even Sprock could save him from dying of embarrassment.”
“But … Emmett?” Alice asks. “Ewwww.”
“Emmett knows what he’s doing—he’s kissed lots of girls. I want someone who knows what they’re doing. I don’t want my first kiss to be a disaster.”
“Why not? Most first kisses are,” Alice says.
I spin to face her. “Have you been kissed?”
She squirms and studies the freckles on her arms. “Once. It was awful. His breath stank, his mouth was too wet, and our noses kept bumping.”
“Sounds like a first kiss dream come true,” Rose sang.
“No, it doesn’t,” I tell her, even though I know she’s being sarcastic. “Well? What do you think? I can’t be the only one of us who turns sixteen and hasn’t been kissed.”
Rose considers me through slitted eyes. I know I’m asking for a lot—after all, she likes Emmett. But she also knows Emmett and I do not have the hots for each other, and so there will be no hurt feelings or confusion over who he should like just because of a kiss.
“Please? Just one little eensy-weensy kiss?”
“You owe me,” she says.
“I will. I do.”
She settles back in her chair and crosses her arms. “I’ll ask him tonight and let you know what he says.”
I let out a sigh of relief. “Deal. But there’s one thing … please ask Emmett not to tell Edward about this.”
Rose and Alice break out in laughter.
“What?” I ask.
“If Emmett says no, that’ll be why, you know,” Rose says to us. “Nobody wants Edward mad at them.”
“He won’t get mad,” I say. “I just … it’s none of his business. So ask Emmett to keep quiet about it, okay?”
“This is so weird,” Alice says. “And disgusting. I wish I hadn’t heard this conversation.”
I lean over to her chair. “Don’t worry. We won’t tell you when the action is going down.”
. . .
It takes some convincing by Rose, which hurts my feelings, but eventually Emmett agrees to meet us at her house Thursday at noon. It’s his lunch break, so he has to make it quick.
We’re in the bathroom brushing our teeth and primping at 11:45.
“You’re going first,” Rose says. “And I’m timing you, chicky.”
“How muth time I got?” I ask with toothpaste in my mouth. My first kiss is going to be minty fresh.
“Two minutes,” she says. “No, less than two minutes. If you kiss him for two whole minutes, I will kick your ass.”
I spit out the paste and snicker. “How could I ever kiss someone for two minutes?” That long kissing stuff only happens in the movies. I couldn’t understand wanting to press my mouth against someone else’s for more than it took to peck them.
Rose pats my back. “You are so naïve.”
Which burns. I don’t want to be naïve anymore. Once I’m kissed, I won’t be.
Emmett shows up wearing a stock boy’s blue apron and an infectious grin. “Okay, which one of you princesses is first? Let’s get this kissing show started.”
“I’m first,” I say.
“I’ll make you a sandwich,” Rose says. And then she stands in the doorway looking at us.
“Are you going to watch?” I ask her.
Yikes, please don’t let her watch.
She starts. “Oh. No.” And she flees.
Emmett leads me to the couch as Rose starts slamming drawers and cabinets in the kitchen.
“Are we French-kissing?” he asks me.
My eyes get big. “No. Let’s keep our tongues to ourselves.”
He chuckles, then scoots close to me so our knees are intertwined. Whoa. I’ve never been this close to a boy before, except for Edward.
“Close your eyes,” he says.
“But I want to see,” I say.
“You want to watch me come at your face? You’ll go cross-eyed.”
I close my eyes. Lick my lips. Purse them. Then open my eyes to find him watching me with a look of glee on his face.
“You’re supposed to be kissing me now,” I say.
“Stop being so funny then.”
He pulls me to him mid-word and presses his mouth semi-gently against mine. My nose scrapes his whiskery cheek. I feel the sensation of warm breath and moist lips. It’s soft. His mouth is soft, I didn’t know it would be so soft. It’s nice, except I’m afraid to breathe.
I pull back. “How am I supposed to breathe?”
“You just breathe like normal,” he tells me. “Try again.”
We cock our heads in opposite directions and push our mouths together again. And again, I’m surprised by the touch of his lips, and I inhale deeply. I press harder against his mouth like he does mine, and I exhale. Our lips kind of drag against each other, and I inhale again.
Then I pull back. “Okay. Okay.”
Rose is standing in the doorway with a funny look on her face and a plate in her hand.
“So that’s kissing,” I say.
Emmett smirks. “What we just did is the mechanics of kissing. That’s all.”
“Well, what else is there?”
“There’s lust,” he says emphatically. “Passion! It’s like what we just did times a hundred.”
“I don’t get it,” I say.
He rubs my knee, then squeezes it and makes me jump. “Oh, you will, grasshopper. One day, you will.”
Am I defective?
When it’s Rose’s turn, I sneak a peek around the kitchen door frame and ohmigod! Emmett is lying on top of her on the couch. She’s got her hands in his hair. And they’re squirming and shifting and moaning.
I must make a sound because they break apart abruptly. And they’re all red-faced and breathless and look like they’ve been yanked out of a dream.
“Now that’s working up an appetite,” Emmett says and grabs the sandwich off the coffee table.
. . .
I watch Never Been Kissed in the basement that night to try and understand what I’m missing. When Josie gets to the part where she’s describing the perfect kiss, I repeat the scene over and over.
That thing, that moment, when you kiss someone and everything around you goes hazy and the only thing in focus is you and this person, and you realize that that person is the only person you’re supposed to kiss for the rest of your life, and for one moment you get this amazing gift, and you want to laugh and you want to cry because you feel so lucky that you found it, and so scared that it will go away all at the same time.
And I’m sitting there on the couch trying to understand what it means, and everything goes hazy as my brain shuts down, and I want to laugh and I want to cry because what if I never find that gift she’s talking about?
I don’t get it.
“What don’t you get?”
I jump at Edward’s voice. He’s standing at the end of the couch looking at me with a grin on his face.
“Did I say that out loud?”
“Yeah. So what don’t you get?” And he sits at the other end in such a way that he’s giving me his full attention.
How do I even begin to explain this?
His eyes flick to the TV and back to me. “What, kissing?”
My shoulders slump. This is going to be so embarrassing. “Not just kissing. A great kiss, a gift of a kiss, the kind that … er … makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time.”
He’s laughing before I even finish.
I bite the bullet. “Have you ever kissed someone and wanted to laugh and cry afterwards?”
Edward tilts his head back and scratches his chin. “Ummmmm. No.”
“Well, according to Josie Geller, you haven’t found the only person you’re meant to kiss for the rest of your life then,” I tell him.
He shudders. “I hope not. Who wants to be stuck kissing just one person for the rest of their life?”
I point to the TV. “Josie Geller. Here, let me play it for you.”
And I play him the scene. He watches it with his lips all twisted and with skepticism heavy in his eyes.
“That’s a bunch of crap,” he tells me afterward. “Something some woman made up.”
“It’s not true?”
“Hell no. Kissing is just … kissing.”
Disappointing, but at least I can understand that. “Got that right,” I say dryly.
Which is a mistake and I want to eat my words as soon as the last vowel falls.
“What do you know about it?” His eyes are sharp and dark and unrelenting as he looks at me.
I backpedal fast. “Not as much as you. Hardly anything, really.”
“But you know enough to have an opinion.”
I shrug. “Well, yeah. Doesn’t everyone?”
He snorts. “Not unless you’ve been kissed.” And then, “Have you been kissed?”
My face is red. Can I count Emmett’s kiss as a real kiss since I didn’t feel anything?
“Just … a little.”
“Just … a little? What does that mean? Have you been kissed or not? It’s a yes or a no question, Bella.”
“Uh. Can we talk about something else?”
“Ugh. Okay. Yes, I’ve been kissed. But I don’t think it counts because I didn’t feel much of anything.”
He leans closer to me and my red face. I’m starting to sweat. “What did you think you’d feel?”
I don’t know. “That … thing.”
“Passion. Lust. The hazy gift.”
He’s cracking up.
“It’s not funny, Edward.”
His laughs finally die down. “So who kissed you?”
“Um, no one.”
“No one you know,” I correct myself.
“And it wasn’t a good one?”
Gah, why does he want to know this? “Not really.”
“Why? Did his breath stink? Did he slobber all over you? Try to stick his tongue in your mouth?”
“No. No! It was an experiment. Plus, I don’t want to turn sixteen without being kissed.”
“Hah, hah, hah!”
He’s all but rolling on the floor now. I stand and head for the stairs, but he reaches out and grabs my arm, then pulls me back on to the couch beside him. It takes a while, again, for his laughter to die down. I try to cross my arms, but he won’t let go and his arm mashes my boob.
“I’m sorry,” he breathes between chuckles. “I’m sorry.”
“Glad I could entertain you,” I growl. I hate feeling like a little girl next to him. “So how old were you when you got your first kiss?”
I gape at him.
“Gross! She was in high school, Edward!”
He shrugs. “She kissed me.”
“So … you’ve kissed a lot of girls then?”
He shrugs again.
“And you like it?”
He grins at me. “Yeah, I like it a lot. Didn’t you?”
“I just basically explained why I didn’t. So … girls like it when you kiss them?”
He rolls his eyes at me.
“Do they moan and grab your hair?”
“You’ve been watching too much TV,” he says.
“Is that a no?”
Suddenly, he tackles me and pushes me onto my back for a tickle attack.
“Do you want references?” he asks as he digs his fingers into my waist.
I try to buck him off of me and he falls against my chest. And then we still, gasping and just looking at each other.
“Do you want me to kiss you?” he asks.
My heartbeat starts ripping through my whole body. Do I want him … to … kiss … me?
I’m frozen. I can’t speak. I can’t even move, except for my eyes, which drop to his mouth. Edward has a good mouth, wide and full. As I stare at it, my own mouth begins to water and I have to swallow. In the silence of the room, it’s loud.
He doesn’t ask again, just looks down at me. When it seems that I’m not going to answer, he begins to back away.
“Yes,” I gulp. “A fast one. Okay?”
“A fast one? What if I don’t do fast ones?”
“It has to be a fast one, or else I think I’ll die.”
He grins, then it slowly fades as his eyes drop to my mouth, and I’m suddenly very conscious of my mouth. It’s hanging open and my lips are dry. Maybe I should lick them. When I do, I see his eyes get darker.
“I’m just going to touch your lips with mine,” he says. “Just a little.” His eyes flicker between mine and my mouth, as if to gauge my response.
He doesn’t close his eyes until he lets his nose touch mine in an unexpected gentle caress. And then my eyes close as his lips come softly, gently against mine. Heat immediately fills my body from the inside out like a giant wave so powerful that I gasp at it. Edward’s mouth raises from mine as he gasps back, and then his lips are slanting across mine harder, hotter, and his tongue is sweeping across my bottom lip. In surprise, I wrench my mouth away and his lips move to my cheek.
“It’s okay,” he whispers. “I won’t put it in your mouth.”
His chest is warm and hard against the palm of my hands, and my fingers curl into his shirt as he turns my mouth back to his and presses his lips against me again.
“Fast,” I whimper against his mouth.
He cups the back of my head in one of his hands and tilts my face one way, then the other as he drags his mouth back and forth against mine, and it’s too much, it’s too much, and I push him away with a cry.
Both of our chests are heaving, but Edward recovers much faster than I do.
“So,” he says with a cocky grin. “How did that kiss compare to the other one?”
Is he kidding? “I think you know,” I say. “You about singed my hair off.”
He pushes himself up. “I think you electrocuted mine,” he says and grabs at the wild waves on top of his head.
I giggle. He does look like he’s been electrocuted. And as I watch him leave, I think he’s walking like he was, too.
. . .
Kissing burns 6.4 calories a minute. Between the two of them, they just burned 20.