The 2nd Kiss - Part 1

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A/N: Thanks to Luce2young for the Spanish help this chapter.

A/N: Thanks to Luce2young for the Spanish help this chapter

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Liam Santos.

I stared at his name on the screen wondering why. Why?

Why was Liam sending me a friend request? If he wanted to make up, why was he doing it this way? I looked to see if he had sent a message with some sort of explanation or excuse as to why I should pretend like nothing had happened between us. Like he didn't mysteriously show up at my house, then snatch his arm away and glare at me when I tried to ask him why. He'd never apologized for that. For anything.

He had sent a message along with the request. I opened it with a pounding heart.

Liam: "Hey. How are you?"

That was it.

Slowly, I found myself shaking my head.

No. No.

He could not do this. He should be apologizing. And, fuck, even if he did apologize, I didn't want to be friends with Liam. Even if I wasn't in love with him anymore, if he was still the boy I grew up with, I still loved him. Was it even possible for that brotherly love to not turn romantic again? Was he wanting us to be as close as we used to be? So, what, I accept his friend request, we make up, then in a few years, I end up standing beside him at an altar as he kisses his new bride? Even if he didn't expect to be as close but wanted to be friendly, was I supposed to sit here and like his photo posts with his girlfriends when they appeared on my feed? If I got a boyfriend was I supposed to not cringe anytime Liam liked one of my couple photos?

No. Fuck that. Whatever the reason Liam wanted to be Facebook friends, it was self-serving. I was better off without him. I deleted his request and message, and along with it, his existence from my mind.

Three weeks later, I received another friend request. The sender's name caused my jaw to drop. Kareem Shawar.

And we had mutual friends including... Malcolm? I immediately messaged Malcolm telling him Kareem had sent me a request and asking since when were they Facebook friends and WHY?

Malcolm replied: "omfg Alex. Kareem got cute. I think I have a new thing for boys with glasses. But no that's not why I added him. He's cool? Are you mad?"

Unlike Liam, Kareem hadn't exactly done anything wrong to me. It was true that he didn't do much in trying to maintain our friendship after mine with Liam ended. In his defense, neither had I. And even when it was known throughout the high school that I was gay, he wasn't hostile despite the fact that I'd technically feigned who I was all throughout our friendship in middle school. He knew I was gay, but he was still requesting to be Facebook friends. Other people from high school I hadn't really been friends with but who hadn't been rude back then had sent me requests on Facebook since graduation. With all that considered, I accepted Kareem's request.

I waited for my decision to blow up in my face, but it didn't. Kareem liked my occasional posts, even the one about the LGBTQ+ anthology I was helping put together for a collaboration between the club and English department.

I ignored the comment sections of Kareem's posts though, knowing that he was friends with Liam. I did not want to cross paths even online.


Winter break rolled around and I went back home, wondering if Liam had given up or would go so far as to show up at my door. Time passed uneventfully, so I assumed he'd given up.

For Christmas this year, we stayed in London. My tía had just gotten over pneumonia and we thought it best if she kept the traveling to a minimum. My uncle, aunt, and cousins were coming to us instead. Our house wasn't big enough to bed all of eight of us, so they'd be staying in a hotel (thank God). Mr. and Mrs. Alvarez had taken a vacation elsewhere and wouldn't be coming.

"I invited my friend from the YMCA," my mom told me Christmas morning after we'd returned from church. I was helping her cook the dishes we hadn't finished last night. With my recovering tía banned from the kitchen, we were behind schedule.

"A male friend?" I asked, raising an eyebrow. Everyone deserves love no matter what their age, but I'm not going to pretend like my mother's words weren't shocking.

"¡Ay no! Me rindo con los hombres."

I nodded. "Does she speak Spanish?"

"Es una mujer blanca que aprendió español. But your aunt is coming, so we'll speak English, okay? You don't have to worry."

I pouted. "I wasn't worried. It's just every time you adults start speaking nothing but Spanish, I feel like you're being sneaky." I gave my mother a sideways glance.


"Yeah―" The doorbell cut off my reply and I heard the door creak open. It was my cousins and their parents finally having arrived back from the church. Perhaps they'd made a pit stop. "No talking about me in Spanish," I warned.

"Estás siendo tonto," she replied dismissively, but I knew very well that they did talk about me in Spanish when they thought I wouldn't know.

With my aunt now there, I had more help replacing my quick-handed tía in the kitchen. If it had been any year before last year when I was outed, my uncle would have scolded my mother for letting me, a man, be in the kitchen. This year, no one uttered a word.

Late afternoon, the doorbell rang again and I assumed it was my mom's friend just in time for Christmas dinner. "I've got this, Mom," I told her, taking the oven mitts out of her hand. "Go greet your friend."

Someone had already answered the door and I heard a little girl's voice exclaim, "Tía Rosa!"

"Okay," my mom agreed as I opened the oven.

"Ohh! Liliana!" my aunt called back warmly in the foyer.

As my mother left the kitchen, she told me, "Come greet them too when you get that out." 

"Be gentle, Lily!" a man's familiar voice warned.

Lily? And that voice...

"Ouch!" I hissed and yanked my arm back as the oven grate seared my knuckle. I fumbled with the hot dish and in trying to save it from falling, singed the back of my hand. "Shit!"

"Alex!" My aunt quickly crossed the kitchen to where I stood clutching my hand. "Are you okay? Put it under some cold water!"

Liam's little sister. Liam's dad. The white Spanish-speaking friend my mother mentioned was then Liam's mom. And so...


My muscles went rigid as I felt his body heat hovering behind me.


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