Even though I was frozen in place on the seat of the Ferris wheel, my mouth curved into a warm grin.
"You like me?" My voice quivered and I licked my lips, hoping to get a taste of Talen's Chap Stick from them.
"Yeah," Talen chuckled a bit, rubbing the back of his head. "I thought I was straight before I met you."
My eyes widened and I straightened up a bit.
"Seriously? I... I turned you?!"
Talen laughed and wrapped his arm around me as the Ferris wheel came to a stop part way to the ground.
"Well, when I first met you, you were just so cute, what with the red cheeks and the way you were so terrible at making stuff up."
My face flushed in embarrassment at the memory.
"And the more we hung out, the more I couldn't stand to be away from you. You were the only person who could make me smile and laugh like that, besides my brother. And I fell for you. Pretty hard, actually. So... what I'm trying to say behind all this corny shit. Will you go out with me, Gage? Can we be more than friends?"
I was at a loss for words, my mind spinning. I couldn't believe what I had just heard. Talen actually wanted to be with me. He felt the same as I did. Tears came out of nowhere, filling my eyes as my bottom lip quivered. I wrapped my arms around Talen's waist as my shoulders shook, feeling so overwhelmed with happiness.
"You're crying?" He whispered, sliding his hand up and down my back in consolation.
"S- Sorry," I stuttered, smothering my face in his shirt. "You just made me so happy when you said that. I didn't mean to cry."
I sat up, smiling widely and wiping my cheeks with my sleeve.
"And yes," I giggled. "I'll go out with you."
Talen grinned and leaned forward, kissing my forehead gently.
"I'm glad," he chuckled, running a hand through my black hair. I laughed, somewhat nervously, and looked down, my pink cheeks darkening.
"I thought you said you weren't gonna go all sentimental on me."
Talen's grin widened and he ruffled my hair.
"Sorry," he smirked. "You just have that effect on me."
I laughed and punched him, playfully, as he wrapped his arms around me.
As the Ferris wheel came to a stop for the third and final time, Talen grabbed my hand and pulled me off the ride, pushing through the dense crowd.
"Are we going to go on any more rides?" I asked him, staring at our entwined hands.
"Well, I already got what I wanted so it doesn't really matter to me. What do you wanna do?"
I couldn't see the front of his face but I knew Talen was smiling. My eyes lowered and a small grin crept over my face. I just wanted to jump for joy and squeal like a little girl. I seriously had not known Talen liked me more than a friend. I was so oblivious sometimes.
Talen stopped short, causing me to run right into the back of him and we both stumbled forward. His hand wrapped around me, steadying my frame, as I glanced over my shoulder, AJ and Cain running up to us through the crowd. AJ's eyes were wide and his breathing jagged as he stopped before me, as if he'd just run the whole park. He bent over with his hands on his knees, out of breath and looked up at me, his forehead creased in panic.
"Dude, what's up?" I asked him, tilting my head in confusion.
"Your mom's here," he huffed, pointing toward the crowd. My heart began racing full speed and I stared toward the crowd, trying to spot her. I pulled away from Talen and drew my hood over my head.
"Shit, what is she doing here?" I hissed as I saw my mother speaking with some of our neighbors.
"Dunno," AJ mumbled as I turned my back towards the crowd. "But we have to get outta here. You're screwed if she sees you."
I nodded in agreement as Talen grabbed my hand again. I looked up at him in surprise as he tightened his grip, staring straight ahead. He glanced over at me, his lips forming a half smile, making me want to kiss him again, to feel those soft lips against mine.
"Talen," I smiled warmly and squeezed his hand as AJ gasped, elbowing Cain in the side.
"Yeah, I see it," Cain grimaced, shoving AJ away from him. "They're holding hands. Woop-dee-doo. We all knew it was bound to happen sometime."
"What's up with you? Grouch ass," AJ mumbled, crossing his arms and looking away.
Now that's the AJ I knew, I laughed to myself as Talen loosened his hold to interlock his fingers with mine.
As we piled into the car, Talen pulled his cellphone out of his pocket and stared at its screen, his eyebrows furrowing.
"Shit," he muttered, flipping the phone shut and glaring out of the windshield as he tossed it into an open compartment beneath the CD player. I stared at him, an eyebrow raised in confusion.
"What's wrong?" Cain asked, leaning forward in the seat behind me.
"My boss just texted me saying his bartender called in sick and that I need to come into work tonight."
"What's wrong with that? You love your job."
"Yeah, but some drunk puked on my outfit the other night and now I need a new one."
"Ew," I scrunched my nose up and stuck my tongue out. "You got puked on?"
"Aww," Talen chuckled. "I'm clean. Don't worry. The guy was drunk as hell and he fell off the barstool so I walked around to help him and well..."
Cain scowled and fell back against the cushions.
"Well take me home first," He snapped, crossing his arms. "I hate shopping."
"Yeah, same here," AJ muttered. "The only good stores at the mall are Hot Topic, Spencer, and GameStop."
"True that," Talen's brother agreed, glaring out the window.
"Fine," Talen sighed. "I'll drop you guys off before I go."
I stared at the hazel-eyed man and smiled warmly.
"I'll go with you," I grinned, pulling my legs up and wrapping my arms around my knees, burrowing my face in my legs, a slight blush forming on my cheeks. "I don't want to leave yet," I whispered under my breath.
After dropping off Cain and AJ at their respective houses, Talen and I sat in silence as he drove toward the mall. I glanced over at the black-haired man, his eyes watching the road ahead of him. It wasn't an awkward silence, though. It was more… thoughtful. Whenever we were together, we always talked or joked about stuff. We were never just silent. And right then, in the lack of noise, I had the chance to just stare at my… my… my what? Were we together… officially? I know Talen had asked me if we could be more than friends and I had answered with a 'yes,' but I didn't know if it was right to call him a boyfriend so early into the relationship. I didn't want to make a stupid mistake that could mess this all up.
I looked up at Talen as he stifled a laugh.
"You alright there? You look like you're gonna kill someone."
I tilted my head and smiled a bit.
"Maybe I am," I giggled. "Maybe I seem innocent but really I'm this crazy, mass murderer that escaped the psych ward. "
"Well, I know that's definitely not true," Talen laughed. "Two reasons. One, you're way too cute to be a murderer. And two, murderers don't giggle."
"I don't giggle!" I blurted, my cheeks darkening and my spine straightening.
"Yes, you do."
Talen chuckled as his hand shot out and began tickling my stomach. I gasped and threw my head back, laughing hysterically.
"Admit it!" Talen said, laughing evilly. "Admit to the almighty Talen that you do giggle!"
I shook my head and tried to push his hand away as his fingers danced on my shirt, causing my laughing fit to get worse.
"I- I'll never- aah- confess!" I gasped, between hysterics, gripping Talen's hand in an attempt to stop his game.
"Come on!" Talen snickered, moving his squirming hand to my side, where I was even more ticklish. "You know you do!"
"Fine!" I gave in; panting heavily as Talen slowly pulled his hand away, grinning. "I- I confess!"
"Ha, I knew I'd win," A hazel eye winked at me as I blushed tremendously and covered my stomach. "And now I know you're ticklish."
"Great," I said, sarcastically. "You're gonna have fun with that."
After parking in the mall's lot, we got out of the car and trekked toward the entrance.
"I haven't been here in a while," I whispered as we walked in.
"Really? I come here all the time," Talen said sticking his hands into his pockets and letting his eyes wander. "Here's the store I usually buy my bartending outfits."
Talen turned into a store, the sign spelling "BUCKLE" above the entrance. I walked in and allowed my blue eyes to peruse the space. I stared in awe at the unusual style of clothes they had there. Stopping by the clearance rack I inspected the clothes, thoroughly, raising my eyebrows in admiration.
"Rich boy," Talen said, making me turn around to see him with an outfit in hand. "Come on back, I want your opinion on this."
I nodded and followed him toward the back of the store, into a small hallway with fitting rooms on each side of the corridor. The lanky man walked into the largest room at the end of the hall and shut the door behind him. I stood there for about 5 minutes before Talen swung the door back open, where he paused in the threshold.
I gawked at the black-haired man. His outfit involved a white, collared shirt, the sleeves rolled up just past his elbows, and an expertly knotted tie tucked into a black, leather vest. The red, skinny jeans were incorporated nicely with his worn down converse shoes.
"So?" He asked, spinning around so I could get a better look at him. "What do you think?"
"Y- You look… so hot—I mean… you look good."
Talen smirked, putting a hand on his hip.
"Oh, did I hear something else in that stuttering sentence? Someone sounds nervous."
"I- I'm not," I muttered, looking away.
Suddenly, Talen's hand grabbed me by the arm and yanked me into the dressing room, the door shutting loudly in my wake. Soft lips came in contact with mine as I was shoved against the wall, his gangly body pressing against me. I could feel my heart beating hard in my throat as I wrapped my arms around Talen's neck, entangling my fingers in his long hair. We slid to the ground as we kissed, our lips never breaking apart. My hands crept over his chest, beginning to unbutton his vest as one of his arms snaked around my waist, resting his hand on my lower back as he put his other hand against the wall next to my head to keep himself propped above me.
"Gage," He whispered, pulling away to fill his lungs and then re-connecting our lips. His tongue entered my mouth slowly as I pulled off his vest and tossed it to the side. I gasped quietly as his hand edged under my shirt, his cold fingers making me shiver slightly as they came in contact with my bare skin. Just as Talen began pulling my shirt over my head, the intercom came on, making us break apart quickly, Talen jumping to his feet.
"BUCKLE WILL BE CLOSING IN 5 MINUTES. PLEASE MAKE YOUR PURCHASES NOW."
We stared at each other for a moment, our breathing heavy and uneven. Talen ran a hand through his now messy hair and smiled in amazement.
"Wow," He breathed as I pushed myself off the floor. "That was…"
"What?" Talen furrowed his eyebrows at me. "I was going to say 'incredible' but… crazy works too?"
"Think about it," I laughed. "We just had our first, heated, make-out session in the dressing room of a clothing store."
Talen threw his head back, snorting in amusement.
"So wait," He chuckled. "You said 'our first make-out session.' That means we'll be having more?"
I blushed massively and stared at the ground.
"I- If that's what you want," I whispered, awkwardly.
"Silly Gage. It's not just the kissing I want. It's all of you."