Beth Greene had never kissed someone on New Year's Day.
All the boyfriends she's had have always ended up somewhere else when it turned to midnight. She'd went to parties with friends, seen them all kiss their partners (or each other) once the ball dropped. Beth was always slightly jealous of the cute couples that have experienced what it's like the kiss at the start of the new year.
So this year she decided she'd get her kiss.
Their father never allowed them to have too many people over during these time. But this year he was off at some farming thing in South Carolina, leaving the farm to the girls.
Maggie decided that instead of going to someone else's party, she'd throw her own. Beth knew this probably wasn't the best idea, but there was no way she'd convince her sister to change her mind.
Maggie invited a bunch of her friends. Beth knew some of them, but only their names and little about them. There was more than 20 people who showed up, which doesn't sound like much but it felt crowded to Beth.
She stuck to the walls whenever she walked around, avoiding confrontations. She could be a very friendly person, but she was intimidated by the amount of strangers in her house. Beth didn't mind it, but she'd rather avoid Maggie's friends. Some of them were a little wild...
Beth sat in the dining room, in a chair pulled from the table to the corner. She sipped on her cup of fruit punch and watched everyone milling around and chatting wi each other. There was alcohol but she decided to stay far from that, in fear of upsetting her dad. (Though her sister had different plans regarding the drinks.)
Beth noticed a man standing alone in the corner across the room from her. He had long hair and a scruffy beard. His leather vest and dark clothing offset him from the rest of Maggie's upbeat friends. He had a cup in his hand that he took sips from occasionally, he observed the party with intense eyes.
Beth didn't know why, but she wanted to talk to him. She stood up and navigated her way through people who crowded the dining area. Beth walked up and stood a couple feet away from him. She leaned against the wall and took a drink from her cup, not sure what to say to him.
She glanced up at the tall, mysterious man. He seemed to be a few years older than her sister and up close, he was quite attractive. Strong features and clear eyes. Beth had to stop herself from staring.
"Can I help you, girl?" He said without looking at her.
"I saw you standing by yourself, thought you might want someone to talk to." She replied.
"I saw you sittin' by yourself over there, didn't think I needed to introduce myself to you just 'cause you weren't talking."
His words sounded bitter, yet his tone remained even. Beth looked up at him and studied his face for a moment. His expression gave nothing away about his mood.
"I'm Beth. I live here, this is my sister's party." She wasn't sure why she kept trying, but she did.
After a few moments of silence he responded. "Name's Daryl. I was dragged here by my brother. Don't care much for parties."
Beth smiled. "Me neither. I'd rather spend New Years's with a couple friends."
Daryl shook his head. "I'd rather not celebrate it at all, not a fan of holidays."
"Why's that?" She pried.
"Just never have been." He shrugged.
Beth nodded. She took another sip from her cup and looked back out at the party.
"You're old enough to drink?" Daryl asked curiously.
Beth laughed. "Nope, this is just punch. I'm nineteen." She tipped her cup toward him so he could see the contents.
"Thought you looked kinda young." He looked her over.
Beth blushed under his gaze. "Nineteen isn't that young, I'm legally an adult. How old are you?" She questioned.
Daryl chuckled. "Old enough to call you young, that's all you need to know."
Beth rolled her eyes playfully. "I'm sure you aren't that old."
"Doesn't matter." And just like that he dismissed the conversation, turning away from her and focusing on some spot in the crowd.
Beth didn't know why, but she felt drawn to Daryl. She wanted to talk more, to get to know him. He wasn't like most of Maggie's friends, and she liked that about him.
"So you said your brother brought you here. How does he know Maggie?"
Daryl shrugged. "Don't know much about his personal life, probably from some party or somethin'."
"Oh. So you don't know her?" Beth was desperate to keep a conversation going.
"Nope, don't know nobody here except my brother."
"Well and me now." Beth smiled.
"You don't know me." Daryl ended his sentences with such a finality. He didn't seem like a very outgoing person.
But still Beth kept on. "So what do you do for a living?"
"Don't do nothin'."
"You must do something, don't you have bills and stuff to pay for?"
"Yeah but I don't got a job that I do for a livin'. Just some piece of shit position I was offered at a garage." He took a sip of his drink.
"So you work on cars?"
"Yeah, for now. Puts money in my pocket but I'd rather not be there forever."
Beth nodded. "I'm sure you'll find other work if that's such a bad job."
"Not that it's bad, I'd just rather do somethin' else with my life." Daryl said.
Beth laughed lightly. "I definitely understand that. I want to get off this farm and make something of myself. But daddy is sure set on me taking over here." She sighed and set her half empty cup on a table before crossing her arms and leaning against the wall.
"Could be worse. Farm work ain't too bad compared to other family businesses. Especially since ya grew up here."
Beth looked up at him, surprised to find him finally looking back at her. "Guess you're right. I still plan on leavin' though, heading towards a big city maybe." She said. "I wanna be a singer."
Daryl laughed. "A singer huh? A farm girl with some big dreams there." He sounded amused, which slightly irritated Beth.
Her hopes had always been to make something out of her singing. People always looked down on it, but this was her dream and she planned on making sure it happened.
"Just 'cause I'm a farm girl don't mean I can't have big dreams. It's better than just giving up and staying here my whole life." She stated.
Daryl tipped his head. "You make a point there, girl."
Beth smiled, glad she'd made him change his tune about the subject. "So do you-"
Her sentence was cut off by the sound of people counting down loudly in the living room.
"20! 19! 18! 17!..."
The ball was about to drop, signaling the beginning of the new year. Beth caught Daryl's eye roll at their excitement. But she was grinning happily. She might not be counting down, but she was still excited for the new year.
"10! 9! 8!..."
Beth remembered the goal she had set for herself this New Year. Since her and Jimmy had broken up, she'd need to find someone else to kiss to fulfill her plan.
"5! 4! 3!"..."
Beth glanced at Daryl, who was intently staring at the contents of his cup. She smiled.
She'd made her decision.
"2! 1! Happy New Year!" The people on tv and in the living room cheered.
Beth didn't miss a beat. She stood on her toes and placed her hands on his cheeks. She leaned up to kiss his lips.
Daryl tensed up and was frozen under her touch. Beth was afraid she'd overstepped her boundaries and that he'd be grossed out that she kissed him. Anxiety filled her chest and she was just about to pull away when she felt arms snake around her waist.
Daryl began kissing back, careful not to spill his drink on her. His lips were slightly chapped and rough, which Beth surprisingly enjoyed.
Their lips locked and unlocked, moving against each other slowly and carefully. As if afraid to hurt the other. Beth slid her arms around his neck and stepped a bit closer to him. She could feel his body heat through their shirts as she pressed against his chest.
The noise and excitement of the party, still buzzing around the two, was background noise to Beth. She drowned it out, focusing all her emotions and energy into this one sweet kiss. Her first New Year's kiss.
After a few moments, that felt like a lifetime to the both of them, Beth pulled away. She sank back down to stand flat-footed. Her arms still wrapped around his neck. Daryl's still rested on her lower back. Beth looked into his deep blue eyes.
Both were silent, just staring at each other with their bodies still pressed close. Thinking over what had happened so suddenly. It was probably the most real kiss Beth had ever experienced, if she was to be honest.
Daryl came back down to Earth and remembered they were still at a party, at Beth's house where her sister could see even. He pulled his arms away from her and stepped back. Beth put her arms down to her side and instantly looked to the floor.
Beth felt her face start to burn. She was never spontaneous or brave, but she was glad she'd mustered enough up of both to kiss Daryl.
"S-sorry... Just, it's New Years's and all..." Beth said softly, trying to explain herself.
Daryl cut her off before she apologized further. "No, s'fine. I don't mind."
Beth looked up at him and smiled. She was glad to see the corners of his mouth twitch up slightly as a response. It was as good as a smile to her.
They resumed conversation as normal and continued chatting the rest of the night. By 3 am, most of the guests had begun leaving. Daryl's brother (whose name was Merle, Beth discovered) came over and collected his little brother.
Beth was disheartened when Daryl went to leave, urging his drunk brother outside. But he surprised her yet again. After Merle had stumbled out the door grumpily to wait, Daryl came back to her.
"I don't have no fancy phone like you probably do, but here's the number to the garage. If you ever wanna talk again. I had a good time." He mumbled out slowly.
Beth smiled at his obvious nervous (though he tried to hide it, she could see right through). She happily accepted the card with the number to his work.
They said their goodbyes and before Daryl could walk away, Beth leaned up and kissed his cheek softly, then smiling at his shock.
"I had a good time too Daryl, I hope I can see you again sometime."
Daryl nodded. "So do I."
He seemed so uncomfortable with the situation and the sweet talk, so Beth let him leave to take his brother home.
Beth was happy. She had finally gotten her New Year's kiss.
But she also opened the door to a new and possibly very interesting friendship. Her year was off to a great start, for once.