TWENTY-ONE

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Nick and I had known almost immediately that there was something between us. We had met through mutual friends during a birthday party for Sydney, a girl in one of my classes who I haven't really spoken to since. She had gotten known Nick through being a cheerleader, but I had gotten to know him after witnessing him spilling a drink all over his shirt.

     It was not one of his most graceful moments and at the time, I had questioned how good his hand-eye coordination was despite playing wide receiver. The party had been a casual one, the kind that people hold when they just want to see their friends and wanted to drink, but didn't get plastered. The weather was just starting to warm up so I'd decided on wearing a dress, a decision that it didn't take long for me to regret since goosebumps were covering my arms and legs. I was hanging out in the kitchen, which felt like the warmest room in the house. Nick had been walking through with an empty plate, probably to get more food, and a cup. I was never really sure what he had tripped on; we had laughed about it even months after it had happened, with him arguing there was nothing wrong with tripping over his own feet.

     "Are you okay?" I had asked, after getting over my initial shock of witnessing someone trip, and realized I should probably help him. I walked over, looking at the result of his actions on his cornflower blue shirt. He had laughed, his chuckle sounding uncomfortable. When he turned to me, I realized his cheeks were pink and there was something so charming about the moment, witnessing this huge football player who was over six-feet tall blushing from embarrassment.

     "I'm fine. Just an idiot, I guess," he said and let out another laugh. He grabbed a few napkins from the table and rubbed at his shirt.

     "Trying blotting." I walked closer and he gave me a curious look. "Lightly touch it. Rubbing it will only make it worse."

     He looked at the brown stain on his shirt and to my surprise, he did what I offered. As I watched him desperately trying to clean his shirt, with him looking up at me and smiling every once in a while to say no, this really doesn't bother me that much, I got a feeling and just knew it would become more.

     There was little question as the day went on that our conversations would extend beyond Sydney's party. We spent nearly the entire rest of the day together and things fell into place, with us realizing how much we had in common and how good it felt to be around each other. As the party was winding down, I'd had a brief moment of concern, realizing I might've just been being optimistic.

     But I stuck around for him.

     Eventually, we were one of the last five or six people at the party but Nick and I were still settled into chairs on the back porch that overlooked trees and a stream. It was serene in a way like I had never known.

     I looked over at his profile, taking in the way he looked so serious when he didn't have a smile on his face but the way his lips had a slight upturn to them. He kept his dark hair messy in a way that made it hard to resist running my hands through them. I had never considered myself particularly soft or romantic, but Nick turned me into just that.

     Our first kiss had been about a week later, when we were finally able to hangout again. We had made the whole thing sound casual, but there was nothing casual about the fact it took me hours to get ready and the fact that I was so nervous I could hardly function. It was a generic date at best – just going out to get ice cream – but I didn't want it to ever end. Nick had finally made his move toward the end, when we walking back to his car. His lips had tasted like chocolate.

     We were nearly inseparable after that point, our feelings for each other cemented after one date and a kiss. Sometimes I wondered if we had made it all happen to quickly, but I also felt like there'd never been any other way for us to go.

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