Reggie looked up when she heard a knock at her bedroom door. For a second, she worried it was Twister until she heard Sam call out, "Reggie?"
"Come in," she said, sitting up on her bed.
The door opened and Sam shut it behind him, walking over to her desk.
"Okay, what's going on?" He said it in a no-nonsense voice. Of course, he had realized something was up. How could he not? She couldn't tell him but could she really avoid telling him at this point? She knew he wouldn't take any of her excuses but she tried anyway.
"What do you mean?" she asked innocently. He shot her a glare and she caved. "I did something really stupid."
"How did you know?" she asked incredulously.
"Please. You tensed up the second he and Otto walked in and you ignored him the whole time you two worked on those sausage balls."
She winced. "You noticed that?"
"Don't worry, Otto and your dad were clueless. So what happened?"
She flopped back down on her bed, looking at the ceiling. "It's so embarrassing." Sam waited for an answer and she sat back up. "Swear you won't laugh, okay?"
"The week before last, I had this dream," she couldn't believe she was saying this, "about Twister."
"Romantic dream, I'm guessing?"
Reggie nodded. "It made me feel, I don't know, weird."
"Dreams certainly can mess with your mind."
She continued. "I thought if I just saw Twister, things would go back to normal."
"But they didn't," he concluded.
"I started having all these feelings and then, it was like someone else completely took over my body and I couldn't control it and... I kissed him."
Sam smiled and she didn't know what to make of that as a reaction. She was expecting him to be shocked but he didn't look it. "And then..." he prodded.
"Nothing. I left right after and we haven't talked since."
"He didn't say anything?" Now Sam seemed a little surprised.
"I didn't let him. I wouldn't take any of his calls and eventually, he just stopped calling."
Sam nodded in understanding. "So now he thinks you don't want to talk to him."
"I don't," she said adamantly. "It was completely mortifying. I can't even imagine what he thinks of me now."
"Probably that you regret kissing him and want nothing to do with him."
"I just wish things could go back to normal," she laid back on her bed. "I don't know why I kissed him."
"Because, Reggie, you like him," Sam said bluntly. "And you need to talk to him about this instead of hiding from him."
She knew Sam was right. She hadn't been fair to Twister by avoiding him. Now, she had to figure out what she was even going to say to him. She expected him to come back with Otto but he didn't. Otto told her he had said he was supposed to do dinner with his family. She wondered if he would be coming back over that night but Otto ended up going out to meet up with Kaylie and Reggie was pretty sure Twister wasn't going to come over to see her. Not that she could blame him; she hadn't exactly been making him feel very welcome.
The next day, she kept looking around the corner at the door, hoping for him to pop in. She had dedicated the day to helping her dad and Tito with the dinner, so it wasn't like it would be a good time for them to talk. Still, she wished he would come over. Now that Sam had convinced her to actually have this conversation, she just wanted to get it over with. At fifteen till six, she heard the doorbell ring. I'll get it, she said, wiping her hands on a rag before running to the door. Even though Twister always let himself in, she knew his parents would want to be polite and ring the doorbell. When she answered, it was just Mrs. Dullard, holding two tinfoil-wrapped casserole dishes.
"Hello, Reggie. Happy Thanksgiving."
She tried not to look disappointed. "Hi, Mrs. Dullard. Happy Thanksgiving. Uh, Sam and the others are in the kitchen."
"Thank you," she handed Reggie the casserole dishes and Reggie followed her back to the kitchen to set them down. She was startled at the sound of the doorbell ringing again and almost dropped one of the dishes. She quickly put it on the table and rushed to get the door. When she opened it, the Rodriguez family was standing there with Twister and Lars behind their parents.
"Hello, Reggie," Mrs. Rodriguez came in for a hug. "You look very nice."
She looked down at the outfit she had changed into half an hour ago: jeans and a nice top. It was way more casual than their family; Reggie noticed the boys were both in button-down shirts and khakis. She knew from previous years that they didn't get a say in that.
"Thank you," she told Mrs. Rodriguez as Mr. Rodriguez nodded towards her, his hands full of stuff they brought.
"Hello, Reggie. Thank you for having us."
Lars followed his dad into the kitchen to set the food down and he and Reggie exchanged a quick glare. Twister avoided eye-contact with her as he walked in.
"Hey," Reggie said in what she hoped had been a welcoming-enough tone.
"Oh," Twister looked up in surprise. "Um, hey."
"Oh, good, you're here!" Otto said, pulling Twister away before Reggie could say anything else.
Dinner seemed to last forever. She listened as the adults talked to one another on one side of the table while Otto, Sam, Twister, and Lars talked on the other side. She occasionally joined in but didn't say much for the most part. It was usually just Otto and Lars arguing every year anyway. Twister didn't jump in with Otto as much this year as he had done in the past. Otto sat between her and Twister, which was nice because it meant she didn't have to worry about eye-contact with him during dinner. She heard her dad and Tito laughing hard as they told one of their old stories, which was promptly followed-up by Mrs. Dullard telling them that she really should get going but thanking them for the lovely dinner. Mr. and Mrs. Rodriguez followed her lead, standing up to excuse themselves as they thanked Raymundo for the meal.
"Do you need any help cleaning up?" Mrs. Rodriguez asked.
"Don't worry about it, Sandy," Raymundo said. "We'll take care of it."
"Okay, thank you again," she said, going to get her dishes back from the kitchen. "Maurice, are you coming with us or staying?"
"Um," he looked around.
"You should stay," Reggie told him.
He looked at her in surprise. "Okay, yeah. I'm gonna stay."
Reggie kept waiting and waiting for an opportunity to talk to Twister. First, they helped with clean-up, then Otto wanted them to all hang out in the living room (being completely oblivious to the fact that anything was happening.) She could tell Sam was looking for a way to try to help her and Twister have some time to talk but he wasn't able to find anything that worked. For the past week and a half, Reggie had been so worried that she was going to get stuck alone with Twister and now it was all that she wanted.
"Hey, Twister, can I talk to you for a minute?" she finally said as Otto was setting up a video game.
"Yeah, sure," he stood up and followed her to the deck.
As they walked away, she heard Otto mumble to Sam, "what's that about?"
"Oh, man. I don't even know where to start," she leaned against the edge of the rail. He waited for her to continue. "I guess 'I'm sorry' would be a good place."
"Reggie," he said, taking a step forward. "You don't have to-"
"No," she cut him off. "I do. I, honestly don't know what came over me that night. It was a stupid mistake and I'm just sorry it ever happened."
"Oh," he said and she could tell he looked a little hurt. "Okay. I guess that makes sense why you dodged my calls."
Despite her conversation with Sam, she wasn't telling him how she felt. She didn't know if she wanted to. Now that she was here with him, it just seemed a whole lot scarier. But Twister deserved the truth. She took a deep breath as she prepared to tell him even though everything in her was trying to prevent her from doing so.
"I think I might be a little confused right now, actually," she confessed.
"That's why you didn't want to talk to me?" he asked.
"Sort of, yeah. It's just that, um," she swallowed. "I'm sort of maybe starting to have some feelings for you that aren't totally platonic."
She smiled. "It means I might like you as more than a friend."
Twister didn't respond. He took a few steps forward until he was inches away from her. He looked at her deeply before cupping her face and kissing her. The feeling of his lips sent a jolt through her body; they danced with hers, carefully and tenderly. It was better than anything she could've imagined. She wanted to stay this moment forever, and they did for a long time. She didn't realize how much of a build-up this had really been between them until that kiss.
"Wow," she took a deep breath when they had finally broken apart.
He smiled at her as he breathed heavily as well. "Still think it was a mistake?"