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It was officially my birthday. I was going to be eighteen and my mother decided to leave on a business trip so she didn't have to admit she had an eighteen-year-old son. I was not surprised in the least. I was surprised when Mark suggested I have a small party. Invite a few friends over and have pizza or something. It was so... so normal.

I loved the idea and asked my new friends. Did they say yes? Of course they did, it was free food. I invited everyone from Emily's group of friends and a couple random people I talked to in other classes. I figured if they wanted to show up and make more friends, even better. By the time I was done showing people into my house, there were about twenty teenagers.

Mark had William spread out a buffet table in the next room to mine and kept it filled with the usual garbage that teenagers like to eat, as well as some healthy-ish things. Like veggies and dip, cheese and crackers, finger foods basically. My den room was ground zero for the most chaos, then the spare bedroom with the food took the next most damage.

We were loud. Our music was loud, our conversations were loud, and someone fell down the stairs with a plate of food. They were okay, nothing broken or anything, it was just loud. I felt badly for Mark and the staff having to put up with us. I saw Maria almost have a heart attack when she tried to refill the food and saw the floors.

Steph and Eric had a food fight with the popcorn when no one was looking. Charlie spilled his drink in the den by my desk and someone tried to blot it with my towels in the bathroom. My lamp was missing its shade and my bathmat was just missing. I had a great time. Even if I ended up passing out in a pile of Cheetos on the floor at six o'clock in the afternoon after everyone split.

The floor crunched under me when I sat up and looked around bleary eyed later. I smacked my lips a few times, grossed out by the stale taste in my mouth. I got up, dusted myself off, and made my way to my own bedroom in search of a toothbrush. After a quick brushing, I felt a little more human. I changed into a rather tame pair of pajamas and went in search of sustenance.

The spare room was empty and cleaned. It looked like they only left my den alone so I could nap. That was a nice gesture on their part. I smiled and waved sheepishly to William when I got downstairs. He wished me a happy birthday and went back about his business, probably to let someone know I was awake and they could start cleaning.

I meandered into the kitchen and our chef pulled out a wrapped plate with sandwiches. I was happy to grab a couple of them onto a plate and pour myself a glass of milk. It was much healthier than my lunch had been. He made some pretty incredible combinations too. Turkey with apple and brie, sliced pork with pepper sauce, and my favourite egg salad with celery and carrot chunks mixed into the mash.

I rubbed my gut in satisfaction and wondered where Mark was hiding. Maria gave me a hesitant look before telling me he was in his office. That made me curious. Why didn't she want to tell me he was in there? I wandered over to the room and stared at the closed door for a second before knocking. I waited a good minute before he responded.

"Come in." He called out. I opened the door and he wasn't sitting in his desk chair. He was over in one of the chairs by the fireplace and had a glass in his hand. That surprised me. I am not sure why it did since he was of legal age to drink. I just had never seen him drink before. Now that I thought about it, he probably needed one more than most people.

"Hey. Just wondering what you are up to." I strolled in and pulled the other chair over in front of the fireplace. It was cozy, and I stretched my feet out towards it. He shrugged and swirled the gold liquid in his glass before taking a sip.

"Just sitting. Having a drink. Thinking." He mumbled a bit. Most likely he wasn't too drunk or anything, just seemed... a little tired. I felt bad again.

"I'm sorry. Were we too loud today?" I asked him gently. He shook his head with a smile.

"No it was fine. Just what a party should be. Did you have fun?" He asked me with a tilt of his head. I nodded and grinned ear-to-ear.

"I had lots of fun." I replied. He pursed his lips.

"Did you get everything you wanted?" He raised a brow when I hesitated. I tried covering it up with a cough, but I was blushing too much for him not to know I was thinking that I didn't.

"Hmm, yes and no?" I tried. I couldn't meet his eyes. He was in a prying mood though.

"Why yes?" He prodded. I cleared my throat and thought about the best way to say it.

"Yes because I had my first party. I got a couple awesome gifts from my friends. I had fun with them and woke up with Cheetos stuck to my butt." I replied. That made his snort in laughter and I hoped he would forget what he was doing.

"Why no?" He finally asked me. My answer stuck in my throat. I didn't want to lie. I couldn't just say because I didn't get you, I wanted to kiss you, or something along those lines. That would make it strange between us, and I cherished the comfort of being around him. I just stared into the fire, smiling sadly to myself. "Greg?"

"I can't answer that. I would be tempted to lie to you, so don't ask me." I rebuffed his pushing. That thing growing in my chest felt like it was squirming. I gasped at the warm touch of his finger tips against my chin and my eyes flew to his. He was only inches away from me, and whatever was in that glass didn't smell so bad on his breath.

It was like apples and spices. Warm and fruity. I blinked and looked down at the reddish lips, damp and lush only inches from mine as he licked them nervously. I wanted to taste them. Forget romance or timing, I just wanted to lick them to see if they tasted as good as they looked. I wanted my first kiss to be over with. I wanted to be an adult who could steal him away from my mother.

"Why no?" He whispered. Watching me closely. I grabbed onto his shirt tightly, threateningly if this was another time and another sort of situation. He swayed close to me and I said it.

"Because I didn't get everything I wished for. Not yet." I breathed. I felt his hand wrap around the base of my neck and gently stroke the skin. I shivered and was reminded of my dreams. What if... what if they weren't dreams? Could I just lean forward? Would he stay still... or move away? Let's find out. I shifted towards him, and he didn't move.

My untrained mouth connected with his curiously. My eyes shut in nervousness. I didn't know what I was doing really. His lips were warm. It was a really sweet kiss as it was, and perfect for a first time. He didn't exactly respond to me, but he didn't pull away or freak out either. He just let my lips move a little against his and stroked my cheek as I pulled away.

"There. Now I have everything." I said with a grin. He smiled back at me and tucked a strand of hair back from my face.

"I'm glad. Now I'm going to leave. We will talk about this, just not tonight. I need to get some sleep, think about this, and sober up a little. Okay? Why don't you head to bed too." It was more of a demand than a question. He exhaled a breath near to a sigh. He had dismissed me, but I didn't feel hurt or rejected. I appreciated that he let me enjoy the glow I was feeling from his lips.

"Okay. Goodnight Mark." I replied. He got up and paced to the door.

"Goodnight Greg. Happy birthday." He answered. I heard him walk out and close the door behind him. I sat back and stared at the flames. I had kissed my stepfather. I had kissed the man my mother was married to, but I couldn't feel guilty. She fooled around on him, ignored him most of the time and had no idea what a treasure she had.

I knew. I was pretty sure that every moment of kindness had been leading up to this moment. The instant I realised that I was in love with him and willing to risk my future to be with him. Now I just had to figure out how to convince Mark that I was the right person for him.

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