Kiss Cam(6)

By: Kiara London

Jasper’s parents are divorced, but he lives exclusively with his mom, who works a thousand and one jobs while going to school for a business degree. That’s why we mostly film at his house. It’s empty and we can be as loud as we want. I know Jasper wishes his mom was around more, though. I can’t really blame him. He’s alone a lot, and that’s why I tend to stick around.

When Lenny’s gone, Jasper disappears into the kitchen and I settle into the overly furnished living room with my backpack and make myself comfortable.

“Dr Pepper or Fanta?” Jasper yells from the kitchen.

“Dr Pepper!” I call back, and pull out my calculus homework. I’m shit at numbers and Jasper’s good at them and willing to help me with my math homework in exchange for history refreshers.

A moment later, Jasper enters the room with a bag of chips and two cans of Dr Pepper.

“Hey, did you get problem seven? I don’t think Mr. Wright even taught us how to solve this,” I ask him as soon as he sets the snacks beside my feet on the coffee table. My fingers work around one of my strawberry-blond curls as I stare at the problem in frustration.

“I don’t know. Let me check.” He sits down next to me heavily and digs through his backpack stretched open beside his legs.

I tap my pencil against my lips and frown at my textbook, thinking how this problem is too hard to be on the upcoming test.

“Hey,” he says suddenly. “Did we mention next week’s question theme, earlier?”

I shrug. “I don’t know. Maybe not. We’ll just answer random questions next week. No biggie.”

The pout in his voice is evident when he says, “It’s more fun with a theme.”

Dropping my pencil in my textbook, I glance up at him incredulously. “It’s a recipe for disaster.”

“What?” He pulls a notebook from his backpack and flips it open, not paying me any attention. “Because this time we kissed? So?”

“It doesn’t bother you?”

He finally looks up, but slowly, skeptically, his brown eyes zipping across my haggard expression. “No? I thought we were past this. . . .”

“Our viewers won’t be,” I state bluntly. He lets out a breath and reaches for his soda to sip before answering.

“They know how we felt about it. Remember? No sparks.”

“And that was true, right?” I clarify, now moving my schoolwork from my lap to make room for the bag of potato chips. If he lied about that, I don’t know how I’m going to handle the situation. My gut says not well.

“Duh,” he replies, and takes a large gulp of his soda. “We could kiss again and I’m pretty sure I’d still feel the same way about it—not that you’re a bad kisser or anything, well, not that what we did could even be considered a proper kiss. But, yeah.”

“It was an awkward situation,” I add, and shove a couple of chips into my mouth to let the crunching fill the silence. He nods and reaches across me for my textbook to look for the corresponding problem to the answer in his notebook.

After a few moments, he suddenly dumps the books onto the coffee table and grabs the bag of chips from my hands. “Want to make sure?”

Frowning, I roll forward and reach for the chips. “What are you talking about?” I groan when he pulls the bag away from me.

“That there’s nothing there—you know, feelings?” Like before, he’s uncharacteristically calm about the subject. His eyes remain steady on mine; there’s no involuntary charm. It’s Jasper being serious.

“I’d rather not find out,” I admit, because once upon a time fourteen-year-old me had a crush on Jasper Lahey, and eighteen-year-old me would rather not find out if it still exists. I’m sure it doesn’t. We’ve grown too close for those kinds of feelings to blossom. My reluctance is based on the idea that this could create wiggle room our friendship probably doesn’t need.

“You aren’t curious?” he asks me.

I laugh a little at the absurdity. “Curious? Jas, bad things happen when friends experiment.”

“Not if we do it right.” He shrugs and then bumps his leg against mine. “So, what do you say? Want to make sure?” The usual playful twinkle is in his eyes when he says this, and I know I’ve got no choice but to give in. Now it’s like a challenge to prove I’m wrong about experimenting.