Rock Candy Kisses(6)

By: Addison Moore



Tristan stuffs his hands in his pockets and sways back on his heels, examining me with an uncomfortable gaze.

“Hey, Annie?” I read his lips easily, and I’m thankful he’s speaking at a normal speed—that he’s speaking to me in general. “Do you have a boyfriend?”



* * *



“So what did you say?” Marley spins into her reflection and runs her fingers through her flaxen curls one last time. She’s spent the last half hour wielding a gold-barreled curling iron with a hairstyling vengeance. She’s sprucing herself up at a manic pace, getting ready to head out to the Black Bear in just a few minutes. She’s begging me to go, but I keep refusing. The way my day is headed, I think it’s best to shut my eyes and mercifully put this twenty-four hour interval to an end.

I cringe at what came next. Well… I show her my phone. Marley doesn’t sign, but I can read her lips just as good as she can read the notes from my phone most of the time. I may have said yes.

Her pouty pink mouth falls open. “You lied?” Marley is your typical beautiful blonde with big ocean blue eyes that rival my own. And, unlike Johanna and Courtney, Marley has treated me just like anybody else right from the beginning. Maybe that’s why I felt so close to her from the get go. Marley has been a life raft to me ever since move-in day. She’s acclimated well to life at Whitney, so much so that she already has her own section in the school newspaper both the online version and the tree-slaughtering one. Her column, Sex and the Coed, has raised a few brows on campus, but, for the most part, she’s engrossed the masses. She said she needed a catchy title to get everyone’s attention. Her articles are mostly about fashion with the odd sex tips thrown in for good measure. Pairing the perfect jeans with a blowjob seems strange to me, but I grew up under a rock compared to everyone else, so I just go with it.

I type as fast as I can. I guess I did lie. But, I swear, I didn’t mean to. My head was just all over the place today. Something happened this morning that sort of spooked me, and it was all downhill from there. I show her my phone.

“What happened?” Her concern grows as she leans in. The light catches her sticky gloss, and her lips shimmer like a tiny galaxy of stars.

I may have got in the way of a moving vehicle. I cringe.

“Annie!” Her hand flattens over her chest. “I’m sorry, I should have been there for you.” She pulls me into a hug and rambles out a warm stream of words right into my shoulder before pulling back. “I knew I shouldn’t have let you go out that door alone this morning.”

It’s fine, really. Baya and Bryson tried to walk me to class. I close my eyes a moment envisioning what my brothers would do if they knew about my brush with a chrome fender followed by my brush with all out lust for the boy who saved me. Please don’t say anything. I thought my biggest challenge would be bikes and skateboards. I had no clue a freeway ran through campus.

She plucks the phone from my hand and pounds out a note.

It’s rare, but I’ve seen cars and trucks. Be careful. Her lips twist. I won’t tell but only under one circumstance.

I shrug in lieu of a written response. Marley and I are working out the kinks in our communication barrier quicker than I thought possible. In a few short weeks, Marley has managed to feel like the Whitney Briggs version of Kaya—not that Kaya could ever be replaced, just multiplied in a very sweet manner.

“Come to the Black Bear.” She bites down on her lower lip, a devious smile hedges up the sides. “Or when your brothers ask why you didn’t show, I might just have to spill everything.”



* * *



The Black Bear Saloon vibrates with an energy all of its own. I’ve been to a couple of parties with Marley, mostly on “the row” where the sororities and fraternities line the streets. The party scene seemed like a fun idea in theory, but it’s near impossible to read anybody’s lips in dim lighting, and I felt bad for Marley every time she tries to transcribe a conversation for me. I agreed to come to the Black Bear but only if she agreed to hang out with some of her other friends while I took pictures. I figure what better time to start cataloging my collegiate experience than tonight. Besides, I’ve been meaning to take a few cute couple shots of Baya and Bryson, and of my brother, Holt, and his fiancé, Izzy. Holt is Bryson’s fraternal twin, but only the discerning eye can tell them apart.

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