Alison and I sat on the side of my bed while some old movie played on the TV. She, I think, was actually watching it, but I couldn’t focus on it. All I could seem to do was sneak glances over at her.
I really like her hair like that. The stereotype was that men never noticed what women did with their hair, but I noticed everything about Alison. I’d liked her hair when she’d had it long for a while, too, but this, I think was my favorite style. There wasn’t much I didn’t like about Alison, though, was there? As long as I can remember, she’s been the only girl on my mind.
The door opened and my step-father, Carter came inside. He smiled at the two of us. “Hey, guys. Are you hungry? Haddie is going to make dinner.”
Immediately, my mood dimmed. “Yeah, sounds good, Carter,” I muttered.
Alison smiled brightly at him. “Yeah, I’m hungry. Thanks.”
I watched him leave and turned to look at the TV again. I liked Carter, I really did. He was a great guy and actually pretty cool to hang out with. I’d just like him better if he wasn’t with my mother. Because that right there was the problem. Alison was Carter’s younger sister. Now that Mom and Carter were married, that made Alison and I related. By marriage only – something I personally didn’t care about – but others sure cared about it.
Hahaha, oh, she’s your aunt now, Joshua! I don’t know how many people had said something similar to me.
“So, did you see that thing in the caf today?”
I looked over at Alison, coming out of my thoughts. “You mean when Brent made that scene over his ex?”
“Oh, my Watcher, yes!” Alison laughed, a lovely, throaty sound. “They weren’t even together for very long, but you’d think they were together from the cradle!”
“Well, she broke his heart.” My voice lowered as I looked at her. “You can’t just turn off passion.” I leaned in a little closer, partially unconsciously but partially because I wanted to.
She looked up at me from under her lashes. “They weren’t in love,” she said softly.
“They might’ve been.” I tilted my head closer to hers. Maybe if I just kissed her cheek…
Suddenly, a blush suffused her face and she leapt to her feet. “You shouldn’t do that. I forgot about something I need to do at home. I’ll stay for dinner another night.”
“Alison, wait – “
She fled the room before I could get another word out.
“Damn it!” I scrubbed my hands over my face. Why couldn’t we just be together?
Unable to stand being cooped up inside any longer, I got up and went downstairs. Nora was in the living room with her nose in a book, but she didn’t pay me any attention. From the kitchen, I could hear Mom and Carter talking quietly. I purposefully kept my eyes on the front door because I really just didn’t want to see Carter’s face right now.
I left the house and started to walk. At this time of the evening, the street was quiet, leaving me alone with just my thoughts. How ridiculous was it that I was a senior in high school, and I’d never had a date? Alison was the only girl I could think about. I didn’t really even look at the other girls. Weren’t you supposed to be married for like twenty years before you were this whipped?
I didn’t see how it could be such a big deal that we were related by marriage. We’d met when we were kids before Mom and Carter even did. We were both nearly teenagers by the time they got married. It’s not like we were raised as family. It shouldn’t be weird for us to be together. We, at least, would be age appropriate. Mom and Carter – not so much.
I circled back around to the house and dropped down onto the porch bench. Why was this so messed up?
I went upstairs with Josh after school. By now, I felt as at home here as I did in my parent’s house. For years, I’d been coming over here to hang out with Josh and Nora and to see my brother. Since I entered high school, I came home with Josh most days before going home. We’d sit and do our homework and hang out together. I spent more time with him than anyone else. And why shouldn’t I? He was my best friend.
He’s more than that.
I ignored the voice at the back of my mind and sat down on the bed next to Josh. I couldn’t help but remember the day before. He’d been looking at me so intently. Like he’d been half a second from kissing me. I wasn’t going to think about that. No more thinking about what happened yesterday. It was all in the past.
“Yeah?” I looked up at him, about to ask him for help with my geometry homework, only to go very still. He was giving me that intense look again.
“Look, I’m just going to say it.” He paused for a moment and took a breath. “I like you, Alison. I really like you.”
I wanted to say I like you, too, Josh but even I wasn’t sure in what way exactly that I meant it. I bit my lower lip, willing myself to look away from him, but my eyes wouldn’t budge. “I can’t, Josh. I’m your aunt-in-law or something. It’s weird.” Legally speaking, I didn’t even think we were allowed to get married. “It’s just too weird,” I said again. Part of me really wanted to tell him how much I also liked him, but first, how would that help anything? And second, my feelings were so confused that I wasn’t sure if I really did have feelings for him.
Lips. They were on mine. In a half a heartbeat, we went from talking to his lips on mine. The kiss was both gentle and electrifying. I sighed softly – a very different sigh from before – and leaned into it. Just for the briefest moment. Then I pulled away and shakily stood up.
“No, Josh,” I said in a choked voice. “It’s just too weird. We can’t date.” That wasn’t quite the whole truth, but it was whole-adjacent. I blinked back tears and virtually ran out of the house.
As soon as I got home, I ran upstairs and dropped down onto my bed, burying my face in my hands. A few tears slipped down my cheeks now that I was in the privacy of my own room. Why couldn’t things just be simple, I thought to myself in despair.