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CHAPTER THREE

It's amazing how exhausting flying can be. You sit in the airport, then sit in a plane, and you somehow end up dog-tired. I had changed from my khaki skirt and black t-shirt that I had worn to dinner into a pair of grey jersey knit shorts and a thin pink tank top, not bothering to take off my black bra. I was sitting in my cabin with the radio on softly (after I'd finally found Atlanta's good classic rock station), and just about to doze off while reading a book, when there was a knock on the door that startled me back awake. I answered the door, and saw Isaac standing there with his hands behind his back and a flashlight at his feet. He was wearing a white tank top with a green plaid shirt over it, khaki shorts and sandals. His wavy hair was slightly messed up, but I could tell he had just put on cologne, probably to cover up the bug spray smell. "Hello, may I come in?"

"Sure," I said, moving out of the way so he could enter the cabin.

He was carrying two wine glasses and a bottle of Riesling, my favorite wine. "Just a couple of old pals and a bottle of wine, sound good?"

"Yup," I nodded. I suddenly noticed that he looked nice and I certainly didn't. "Sorry about my clothing, if I'd known you were coming over..." I felt very self-conscious about the obvious black bra under my tank top, and folded my arms over my chest. "I'll be right back," I said, ducking into the bedroom and threw on the black t-shirt I had had on earlier in the day.

I came back in, and saw him pouring two glasses of wine for us. I chuckled a bit when I saw the wine label. "You never forget anything, do you?"

"Well, remember when, after I turned 21, I asked you what wines were good, and you recommended this? Guess I always remembered it was your favorite," he shrugged sheepishly.

We sat down on the couch and propped our feet up on the small coffee table, the breeze from the ceiling fan just hitting us a bit. I kept the screen door on the cabin open; it was June in Georgia, after all, but we still sat close. We spent about an hour catching up on what had happened to us, re-telling stories we had exchanged via email, harmlessly flirting, and emptying the bottle of wine. And of course, he asked the question everyone had seemed to be asking me in the past few months. "So, are you seeing anybody?" he asked, trying to be casual.

I rolled my eyes, but answered anyway. "Nope. I mean, I'm ready to start dating again, but just haven't found anyone worth it. I went out to a bar on the Landing with a couple pals about a month ago, and all I got out of it was a drunk frat boy grabbing my ass and telling me he'd been wanting to do that all night."

Isaac asked, "And what did you do?"

"I turned, saw it wasn't anyone worth my time, said, 'What the fuck are ya doin'?' and pushed him away. Of course, he was pretty drunk, so he just fell right down." Isaac laughed so hard he spit wine out his nose. "Now, that's attractive," I commented.

"Sorry, just laughing at your wonderfully calm Irish temper," he laughed, wiping his face on his shirt.

Just then, a figure appeared at the cabin door. I didn't have the porch light on, hoping to not attract any more bugs, and couldn't see who it was. "Who's there?" I asked, getting up.

"REDRUM," said the shadowy figure in an affected voice, standing far enough away on the porch that I couldn't really make out who it was, but he was tall. I grabbed my flashlight and shone it right in his face. It was Zac, and he fell to the ground screaming, "My eyes! My eyes! Make it stop!"

I opened the door and let in the most obnoxious of the Hanson brothers. "Hello Zac," I said as I gave him a hug. "Didn't get to tell you earlier, I like the hair."

"Thanks," he said as he lifted me off the ground and twirled me around (making my head spin a little), instinctively kissing me on the cheek. He put me back down on the ground and flopped down on the couch next to Isaac. "Where's my wine glass, bro?"

"Sorry, there were only TWO," Isaac replied, hoping his brother would get his hint that I was just beginning to get myself.

"Oh, yeah, sorry, don't want to interrupt the adults, and whatever it is adults do," Zac said mockingly. "I just wanted to say hello to my old pal, the coolest babysitter ever."

"I wish you'd quit referring to me as 'the babysitter'...but was I the coolest?" I asked, sitting on the other side of Zac.

"Yup. Much cooler than Marie or Tina. I remember you reading bedtime stories to me all the time, and wrestling with us, and playin' in the treehouse, and letting us eat junk food sometimes. I know Ike always liked you, right?"

"Shut up," Isaac said under his breath, pushing Zac on the shoulder.

"So, Ree, how did that kiss go? I've been dying to ask you for years."

"Huh?" I asked, drunkenly accessing my memory banks.

"The one you practiced on Ike for," Zac said proudly.

Isaac's face turned redder than it already was from the heat and the alcohol. I sat there in shock. I smacked Zac in the shoulder, called him a little shit, and leaned over to ask Isaac, "Did you tell him?"

Before Isaac could even speak, Zac said with a smirk, "Nope, Taylor told me all about it during a game of Truth or Dare a couple years ago. He snuck into the kitchen to get some juice right after you tucked us in that night. He saw the whole thing from the kitchen. Ike didn't know we knew, didja, bro?" He smirked at his older brother, and quickly looked at the non-existent watch on his left hand. "Ah well, look at the time, gotta get my beauty sleep! My work here is done!" he said quickly as he got up and left before either of us could tackle him.

Isaac and I sat on the couch in silence for what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only a minute. I broke the silence by chuckling a little, which got Isaac laughing. We were both sitting on the couch, laughing, but weren't quite sure at what. I spoke first. "Wow, I'd almost forgotten about that one."

Isaac said, "I hadn't."

"Really?"

"Nope. I mean, how many 7-year-olds could brag they'd been kissed by a 13-year-old?"

"But...you didn't tell--"

"Never told anyone. And I thought nobody else knew about it. I understand Tay keeping quiet, but I'm amazed Zac kept his mouth shut about it for this long. You?"

I scrunched up my nose...I had broken our pact. "Yeah...I let it slip once." Isaac's eyes widened. "Don't worry, all those involved were sworn to secrecy...I was with a few of my friends in grad school, unwinding with board games and a lot of Rolling Rock after midterms of our last semester. We had one of those 'If' books, and the conversation was all over the place, and Dan, one of my pals, asked what our deepest, darkest secret was...

Tamara, Jeff, and Annie had already divulged their secrets, and now it was my turn. I took the last swig out of my third beer and blurted out, "When I was thirteen, I practiced kissing on my eight-year-old neighbor." This was greeted with snickers and hoots. "No, seriously..."

Dan said, "Ah, there'd better be a good story behind this one, Ree."

"There is, I guess," I said, grabbing a handful of pretzels. "I was a freshman, and this really hot junior had just asked me to homecoming. I'd never been on a date or kissed a guy or anything, and when I asked my best friend at the time what I should do, she told me I needed to practice on someone. I had nobody else to practice on, and I was going over to babysit him and his younger brothers that night, and she suggested I practice on him. So I did."

"How'd you manage that one? I know how squeamish I was around girls when I was eight," Jeff commented.

"I bribed him with ice cream and some of my babysitting money from that night," I explained. I added, just for my own sake, "No tongues, just a few pecks on the lips."

Tamara hadn't said anything, but I could tell that through her drunken stupor, she was madly trying to process something in her head. She finally spoke, "Ree...is it who I think it is?"

I replied, "Yes, Tam, it was my neighbor, Isaac," hoping she would not know any better and leave it at that.

Linda had begun to describe her secret when Tamara, staring at me but not seeing me, muttered, "Isaac Hanson?"

"What?" I said nervously, hoping nobody else heard her.

She crawled over to me, coming closer but talking louder. "Your first kiss was Isaac...Hanson--OH...MY...GOD!!!" She collapsed on to me, leaning into me and laughing hysterically; I was glad she wasn't this obnoxious when she was sober.

"Who's Isaac Hanson?" asked Annie, as I sat in silence.

I knew I wouldn't have to answer, that Tamara would do it for me. "He's the oldest kid in that music group Hanson, you know, 'MMMBop', from last summer?" I buried my face in my hands, not sure whether to laugh, cry, or puke, but I sure as hell was blushing uncontrollably.

"Your first kiss was with someone famous?" Annie asked.

"Yeah...he wasn't famous then, geez, why is this such a big deal?"

Dan said, "I didn't even know you knew them."

"Yeah, I do, I lived next door to them for years. They moved to South America for a couple years, but kept the house, but shortly after they moved back, I started college, so I wasn't around as much even though I was just at OU. But yeah, I babysat them, and I still get letters and emails from them, and I kissed one of them, yes," I slurred.

Linda laughed, "Anything else we should know?"

"Just ask your little sister, I told her everything!" I joked, referring to Linda's sister Jane.

...and I told them about the kiss. I didn't have any other deep, dark secrets to tell, sorry."

"Don't worry, it obviously never made it on the pages of Teen Beat. So, how was that kiss with that guy?"

"Ah, what was his name? Yup, Joey Mitchell, one of the best-looking guys in school. And he knew it. I found out later he'd asked me because my cousin Mark told him to, and he owed him a favor. He picked me up with my pal Ester and her date, Art or Andy or something like that, and we went to dinner, which was fine, and then we went to the dance. What started out as a magical night ended up horribly, because he had heard that Anita Roderick had just been dumped by her college boyfriend, and was looking to get laid that night to get even. Why would he stay with a measly freshman who hadn't even kissed a guy when he could get a sure thing with a slutty senior? I sat on the bleachers and cried the rest of the evening, and I could tell I was cramping Ester's style until they dropped me off at my house. So yeah, I never got that kiss from Joey. It didn't happen until a few weeks later, when Ron Thornsberry asked me out one day at school, and we ended up making out under the bleachers during a football game that night, with several other couples under there, too, doing the same thing. That relationship lasted about a month, I broke it off when I figured out all he wanted was to make out and more. Not quite the magic I was expecting, but..."

"But wasn't I technically your first kiss?" Isaac asked, a bit of hurt in his voice.

I sighed. "Well, Ester had this theory that practice kissing didn't count as your real first kiss, but in hindsight, and taking into consideration the people involved, I'd much rather say my first kiss was with you." I looked right into his eyes, not believing I had just said that out loud. Maybe it was the wine, or maybe it was that I hadn't kissed anyone in over a year, but I suddenly was aware of Isaac, looking very good, with a little extra cologne now mixed with clean sweat, next to me on the couch, in a private, secluded cabin, on a hot summer night. On one hand, I couldn't get past that this was little Ike, who I babysat for about 2 years, fought with him over bedtimes, eating his vegetables and cleaning his room, read him bedtime stories, played Junior Monopoly with, and all that other babysitting stuff. On the other hand, here was Isaac, a very obviously grown-up, very attractive man in front of me.

I also noticed that he was looking right at me. Before I knew it, our faces were drawn together like two magnets, in a soft, gentle kiss. "Mmm," Isaac breathed once we broke apart. "I've been wanting to try that again for twelve years," he said, our faces still quite close. "Feels like you've learned quite a bit."

My hand reached to the back of his head, playing with his curly hair. "Yeah, thanks. I've got some more tricks up my sleeve though," I replied teasingly, drawing him closer to me and kissing him again, this time with exploring tongues and hands. I had no clue why I was doing what I was doing; the alcohol was my first and only explanation. We broke apart only after we were startled by the sound of someone stifling a laugh and running away from my cabin. We both looked out the window behind the couch to see what we could only assume was Zac running away, looking back at the cabin, and falling with a wonderful THUD after tripping over a branch.

We looked back at each other, not saying anything for a bit, just smiling. Isaac got up and first broke the silence with, "Well, I really should be going, it is kinda late, and there's a lot to do tomorrow, " he said, putting his hands in his pockets like he was hiding something.

"Yeah," I agreed, rising off the couch, although I sure didn't sound like I wanted him to leave, and I didn't. I walked him to the door and asked, "Do you want me to rinse out the glasses?"

"Nah, don't worry about them, I can pick them up tomorrow." We stood facing each other near the door, neither one of us quite sure what to say.

I have bold streaks occasionally, and I blurted, "Did you set up this evening? The wine and all that?"

"Huh? Oh, no, I just knew you liked wine, and wanted to catch up with you. You're my friend." He must've thought I was accusing him, and continued, "I didn't come over here just to seduce--"

I shut him up with another kiss, starting out gently but growing more passionate than the second one we had shared. As he pressed his body against me, I realized what he had tried to hide by putting his hands in his pockets. "Are you sure?" I asked coyly. "I don't mind, you know."

Isaac laughed, his arms still tightly around me. "Well, the thought had crossed my mind, but I swear, that wasn't the main reason I came over here. You believe me?" he asked with a twinkle in his eyes.

"You haven't heard me complain, have you?" I asked. We both laughed a little. "You really should go though, it is late, and um..."

"Yeah, I'd better go." But neither of us moved. Isaac finally pulled me closer and hugged me tightly, kissing the top of my head.

I knew he should go, but didn't want to push him away, but I let go of the hug first. "What time do you want me over there tomorrow?" I asked, trying to be casual.

"Um, I can't remember, I'll just send Mom over to get you." He leaned in for another kiss, which I purposely made a short one. "'Night," he said softly.

"See you tomorrow morning," I said with a smile, leading him to the door. As he walked out, I watched him from the door. I could easily see him as he used his flashlight to navigate his way back to his cabin, which was not very far. During that short walk, he looked back at me three times.

I stood in the main room of the cabin for a few minutes, trying to process what had just happened. I hadn't had any physical contact since Jamie, and that had seemed like forever. Kissing Isaac had stirred up physical feelings that I hadn't felt in quite a while. My whole body ached since Isaac walked out the door. I was tired, but couldn't go to sleep right away. I moved the radio into the bedroom, turned off the lights in the main room, and decided to leave the wine glasses and the empty wine bottle for the morning. I turned on the radio again, still softly. I had always thought of Isaac as a little brother that turned into one of my best friends, but I'd never thought of him as anything more. He was the sweetest guy I'd ever met, so grounded even after all the fame, and in the past several years had grown from an awkward adolescent just learning the guitar to a musical powerhouse, and damn good looking. Those beady little brown eyes had turned into soulful, sparkling, mature eyes, and his smile, straightened by braces, was gorgeous. Thankfully, he had cut his wavy blond hair (I had told him repeatedly that I hated it longer), and for the past few years, it had been in various lengths of a shorter, curly style, that begged for a woman to run her fingers through it. And I had. That night. When we kissed. For real this time.


On to Chapter Four
Back to Chapter Two


Copyright ©1999-2006 Winona Patterson.