Twister's face was inches from Reggie's. Her heart beat quickly as she saw his eyes glance at her lips. He put his hand on top of hers and started to lean closer. Everything in her wanted to give into him, but she forced herself to speak.
"Twist," she whispered, causing him to stop with his lips so close to touching hers. "We said we wouldn't."
He sighed softly and nodded his head, leaning back enough to give a foot between them. "I know."
"I want to," Reggie said, grabbing a hold of his hand after he had tried to move it. "You know I want to." He nodded again and she continued. "I just don't want to mess things up between us."
"Yeah," he said, looking disappointed.
"And I'll be starting college in a few months. And you'll need to focus on your senior year to keep your grades up."
He smirked and rolled his eyes. She had been trying to convince him he was going to get into college but he was reluctant to agree.
"I can only imagine what Otto's reaction might be," she kept presenting her arguments, really to convince herself more than to convince him. It wasn't working very well.
"Probably whomping me."
"See? So it's better than we don't—" she started in a teasing voice.
"It would be worth it," he said quietly, changing the tone. "It's just been hard, you know? This past week, trying to just be friends, it's just been really hard.
"Twister," she looked into his eyes pleadingly. "You know how much I want—"
"Please don't," he cut her off. "I'm sorry. It just makes it worse. Knowing that you want it too and not being able to be together."
There was silence for a while. Reggie didn't know what to say. It was better if she didn't argue.
"Are you hungry? Maybe we could head to the Shack and get some dinner," she changed the subject, hoping that seeing her dad and Tito might make him happier.
"I think I'm gonna just head home, actually," he said, standing up.
"I'll see you later, Reg."
"Right, later," she said as she watched him walk away.
When she got home, she went straight to her room. She sat on her bed, grabbing a picture from her nightstand. It was of the four of them, but she focused in on Twister as she stared at it. She sighed and fell back on her bed, looking up at the ceiling as her mind raced. She hated hurting Twister. But this was for the better. What if they did start dating and then they broke up? Their friendship would be ruined, the group would never be the same. She couldn't imagine not having him in her life. On the other hand, there was graduation night. Her mind replayed the scene from the previous week as it had done so many times before.
A WEEK EARLIER
She heard a knock on her bedroom door.
"Reggie?" Twister's voice called.
"Your dad was looking for you. I think they're ready to do the cake," he said and she noticed him look at her dress. "Wow, you look great. I mean not that you didn't before."
"Thanks," she smiled. "Otto crashed into me and spilled his drink all over my other dress. I was actually debating on wearing this one today but I wasn't sure if it was too tight. You think it's okay?"
"Yeah, it's— you look amazing."
She blushed. "Have you gotten some good footage?" she asked, looking at the camera in his hand.
"Pretty good so far. Hey! This is perfect! I can finally get some of you!"
"What? You missed that whole receiving-my-diploma scene?" she teased.
"You know what I mean," he said, turning the camera on. "I haven't gotten any one-on-one with you. Everyone's been wanting to talk to you all night for some reason."
"For some reason," she repeated, laughing.
"Come on, interview with the graduate," he said following her with the camera. "How does it feel to be out of high school?"
"I'd feel better if I didn't have the paparazzi chasing me down," she teased him, holding a hand up to the camera lens.
He swatted her hand away. "Come on, the camera loves you."
"Or at least the camera-man does."
She said it jokingly, but the mood of the room shifted completely once she did. Twister was silent. His face was bright red. He lowered the camera, clearly trying to figure out how to respond.
"Oh, I didn't mean—" she started, trying to backtrack but she was interrupted as the door opened.
"There you are!" Raymundo said. "Come on, we're about to cut the cake!"
She spent the rest of the party trying to talk to Twister but wasn't getting much of a chance. Between all the people trying to congratulate her and what she was pretty positive was him trying to avoid her, she had barely seen him since they left the room. After scanning the inside of the house for a while with no luck, she walked outside. There were still lots of people out there, chatting around the grill as Raymundo put more burgers on. Finally, she spotted him. She managed to get over to where he was sitting without getting caught up in more conversations.
"Hey, can we talk?" she asked.
"Um," he hesitated. "Sure."
"Maybe somewhere a little quieter though," she said, walking around the corner of the house as he followed. There were still more people and she was losing hope of finding a place where they could actually be alone. "Maybe..." she trailed off as she fought her way through the hedge. This had been easier to get through when they were kids. He followed her through, coming out with dirt on his shirt that she tried to brush away.
"You have some, uh," he pointed at her hair to indicate the twigs sticking out which she pulled out. she was fairly sure he would've gotten them for her if it hadn't have been for the awkward note they left off on.
"So, about earlier," she started, trying to find a way to phrase it. "When I said, you know, I didn't mean..." she was finding it a lot more difficult to talk about it without using her previous phrasing. "I just... didn't want to make you feel..."
She kept trailing off, unsure of what else to say. She had wanted so desperately to talk to him but now she wished she had taken the time to plan out what she was going to say. She assumed both of them were probably blushing, which made her thankful for the dark of the night. Twister didn't respond. She thought about trying to talk more but what would she even say? She just stood there, letting the awkwardness wash over her for a few seconds until she noticed Twister's hand reaching up and resting on her face as he leaned towards her. Before she knew what she was doing, she was moving towards him, closing the kiss. Their lips moved softly, gently together. When they parted, it was just barely. She could feel his breath making her lips tingle as he softly spoke.
"You were right."
All she wanted in that moment was him. She quickly pressed back into him, wrapping her arms around him and kissing him hard, desperately needing to feel his lips against hers.
As she laid in bed, reminiscing, she tried to fight the strong desire to go to Twister's house right then. She wanted to tell him she had been stupid and just wanted to forget all that she had said. But it wasn't stupid; it was practical. She thought back to the morning following their kiss. She had thought about it and what it might do to their friendship, so she went to his house with a plan. She was going to simply tell him that while it had been an amazing kiss and she did have strong feelings for him, she didn't think they should be together. There was too much that could go wrong and his friendship was so important to her that she didn't want to risk ruining it. She thought after presenting the facts, Twister would understand and agree. When she saw him, he was beaming. He greeted her happily with a kiss. It was a lot harder than she had expected. When she finished explaining, he looked so sad. He said he understood where she was coming from but it didn't take away from the disappointment she saw as she looked in his eyes. And now she had done that to him again. She felt like she needed to talk to someone about all of this but she couldn't talk to Twister without upsetting him. She didn't really want the news getting around either, so she couldn't talk to Trish or Sherry. Maybe Sam.
She got up and went to his house. His mom answered the door.
"Hi Mrs. Dullard, is Sam home?"
"Sam!" She called in her shrilly voice.
"Hey Reggie, what's up?" he asked walking towards the door.
"Hey. Um, I just had something I wanted to talk with you about."
"Sure," he said with a knowing look.
They went to the living room and Reggie looked over to make sure his mom had left. She wasn't sure how to start so they didn't talk for a little while.
Finally, Sam spoke up. "It's about Twister, isn't it?"
"Is it obvious?" she asked.
"Not to Otto. But you've both been acting weird all week, especially with each other. So what happened?"
"We kissed," she admitted.
He didn't seem surprised. "You don't seem very happy about it."
"It was great. It was just a mistake."
Reggie went into the same spiel she had given Twister about why it wouldn't work.
"And I know he's thinking about how we have all summer together but then what about when September comes around? I'll be an hour away, he'll be busy with school too, and what? We just see each other on weekends? Try to make it work?"
"It sounds like you're scared," Sam said plainly.
"What?" she asked indignantly.
"You're coming up with a bunch of excuses that are preventing you from giving him a chance."
"That's not true," she argued. "I want to be with him. I'm just trying to be realistic."
"You don't have any substantial reason not to go out with him. You're just coming up with possible scenarios where things could go wrong." Reggie started to object but Sam continued talking before she could. "Think about it. 'Otto would be upset.' First of all, you don't know if he would be upset. I think most people have expected you two to get together one day. Second, he's your brother and Twister's best friend. If he's upset, he'll get over it."
"Well, Otto was never really one of the main issues—" she started.
"Okay, so then the college thing. Reggie, you and Twister have been best friends all your lives. Do you really think an hour of distance is going to change that?"
"It might," she was getting frustrated with Sam. "Especially if we were dating. It would make it harder to be apart."
"The main thing was you didn't want to mess up your friendship, right?" Sam asked and continued after Reggie nodded. "Well, I hate to tell you this but your friendship has already changed."
"That's just because he gets upset every time I try to talk to him about it," she said defensively.
"He is sensitive," Sam acknowledged.
"And I always liked that about him but it just makes it hard to know what to do in this case. I don't know how to get us back to where we were before."
Sam gave a frustrated sigh. "Reggie, you can't. You kissed. Things have changed. You can't just pretend that didn't happen."
Reggie was getting very annoyed with Sam and she could tell he was getting annoyed with her too. "Fine. Well thanks for talking it over with me," she said impatiently, standing up to leave.