Don't Stand Under The Mistletoe With Anyone Else But Me
Jessica Wakefield had to fight to hold back a laugh. Lila Fowler, beautiful rich heiress, had never sounded so much like a normal teenager in all the time she'd known her.
"All boys, or just one in particular?" Jessica asked her friend knowingly.
Lila glowered and slumped back against the wall of the alcove to which she'd tracked down her best friend.
"What was his name? Ed? Ted?"
"Fred. Fredrick James Austin the III," Lila corrected her. She snorted. "Or at least that's what he said."
"He's toast, huh?" Jessica asked, passing Lila one of the triple chocolate chip – with walnuts and rum – cookies on her 'Happy 2005' blue and silver speckled party plate. It seemed Lila couldn't throw a party at her mansion without having some big blowup with one of her boyfriends. Attend one, occasionally, but if she was hosting…
It was the kiss of death for any relationship she might be involved in.
"Yup," Lila agreed, biting almost savagely into the cookie. The rush of chocolate-laced endorphins entered her system quickly, however, and soon she deflated. Swallowing, she said, "I overheard him talking to one of his jerk buddies. Apparently he seems to think that I'm easy and he'll have me in bed before dawn."
"What did you do?" Jessica asked eagerly, knowing from the smile on the brunette's face that it must have been good.
Lila smirked. "I kneed him in the balls and told him that I'd become a lesbian before I ever slept with him."
Jessica chuckled and took a sip of her punch.
Lila sighed and leaned back against the wall, staring at the ceiling as if she could find the answers to all her problems written on its surface. "I just don't get why guys…why they always want…more, you know?" she asked finally.
"Sexually, you mean," Jessica clarified.
Lila nodded sullenly. "I mean, what's wrong with wanting to care about someone before you…get intimate with them?"
Jessica blinked. "Nothing…" she said slowly. "But I never thought I'd hear you say something like that out loud."
Lila snorted and quickly polished off her cookie before reaching for another one. The plate balanced on the small table tucked in their little niche was quickly emptying of the chocolate morsels. "Even I, Lila 'Rich Bitch' Fowler want someone to love me, Jess," she said quietly.
Jessica's heart went out to her friend. "You'll find him, Lila," she reassured her friend.
"I don't know," Lila said. "I mean, we're twenty-one, Jessica, and I have yet to find a guy that doesn't just want to get into my pants."
"There are plenty of guys that don't just want to have sex with you," Jessica argued.
Lila snorted. "None that are attracted to me," she countered.
Jessica winced. Lila was pretty much right on that count – if guys liked her, they wanted to have sex with her. Of course, it didn't necessarily follow that if they wanted to have sex with her, then they liked her…
Which made it doubly worse, Jessica supposed.
"Maybe you should follow up on your threat," Jessica suggested jokingly, downing another cookie as she did so. Lila was munching her way through them at a pretty fast clip and she was still hungry, so though she'd best eat them while they were still available.
Frowning, Lila asked, through a mouthful of cookie and chocolate crumbs, "What threat?"
Jessica shrugged. "Well, you told Fred that you'd become a lesbian before you slept with him, right?"
Lila nodded slowly, a dubious expression on her face.
Jessica chuckled and said, "Well, why not try girls?"
Lila's eyes went wide, causing Jessica to laugh louder. Her laughter died out, however, as she really thought about what she was saying. It had always been there in their friendship – an undercurrent of attraction that Jessica had written off as them being as close of friends as they could get without being sisters, something that sprung from knowing someone almost as well as you knew yourself, but without any familial connections – but she'd never really given much consideration to actually following up on it.
Now, however, with three cups of spiked punch and a dozen chocolate walnut rum cookies rushing through her veins and making her giddy…
Well, you were supposed to kiss people on New Year's Eve, right?
"That's…actually not a bad idea," Lila said at length.
Jessica blinked. She hadn't really been serious in her suggestion – and even if she had been, she hadn't thought Lila was the kind of girl who'd do something like that.
"I mean…not that I've ever thought about it before," Lila stated firmly.
"Of course not," Jessica agreed, fighting the urge to giggle. Lila 'Boy Crazy' Fowler, a lesbian? Perish the thought.
Although…maybe she has latent bi tendencies, an impish little voice spoke up from the back of Jessica's mind.
"It couldn't hurt to try, anyway," Lila said, frowning slightly, the glazed-over look in her eyes signifying she was lost in deep thought. "I mean, I will never understand how boys think, but I have personal experience with how girls think…"
"True," Jessica agreed.
"And if nothing else, I wouldn't have to worry about my reputation. This is Sweet Valley; any girl who likes girls will most likely still be in the closet."
Jessica made a faint noise of agreement. Lila's taking this half-assed suggestion of mine really well…
Jessica frowned slightly. Almost too well, in fact.
"And…" Lila said, voice trailing off as she ducked her head.
"And?" Jessica pounced on that hesitant word.
Lila's shoulders shook, and Jessica thought for a moment that this whole evening might have been too much for her, that she might be crying. But when Lila raised her gaze, Jessica saw mirth in the brunette's eyes instead of tears.
Lila burst out into peals of laughter at the worried look on her friend's face. Through her giggles, she gasped out, "I…I can't believe you…you thought I was serious about that, Jess!"
Jessica groaned and slumped back against the wall. She should have known Lila was pulling her leg. Disappointment filtered through her veins and she wondered why that was. She couldn't have really wanted Lila to consider her as a prospective lover…
Lila had finally started to calm down by the time Jessica had decided that while it had originally been just an off-the-cuff idea, yes, it did hold some appeal. She was currently in-between boyfriends at the moment, and she thought their friendship was strong enough to handle a possible sexual relationship – or the dissolution of one, if things didn't work out in that respect.
If nothing else, Jessica knew she could trust Lila. It wasn't that she trusted Lila because she didn't know her all that well – on the contrary, she knew Lila through and through, just as well as she knew Elizabeth. Which was why she trusted her. Lila may have been a conniving bitch at times, but Jessica had always felt safe with her.
Jessica wondered sometimes if Lila felt the same way about her. She had a feel the answer was a resounding 'Yes.'
"I never knew you were so gullible, Jessica," Lila was saying when Jessica finally came back to herself. She laughed lightly. "I mean, you couldn't really think I'd go for something like that…" She shot the blonde a skeptical look. "You don't…do you?"
Jessica shrugged diffidently. "I don't know… I mean, I don't really think it was a bad idea…"
"Well, maybe not a bad idea, but definitely not a good one." Though Lila didn't seem too sure of herself on that point. She had an odd expression on her face – one that Jessica only remembered her wearing when she wanted Jessica to talk her into something.
She couldn't…could she? "Lila, do you…" Anything else Jessica might have said was interrupted by shouting. The partygoers had started the ten-second countdown to the New Year.
"TEN!" came the shout. "NINE!"
Jerking her head around at the rise in noise, Jessica caught sight of something out of the corner of her eye – something left over from the Christmas party Lila had thrown the previous weekend.
A reckless impulse suddenly made itself known. Should I? Jessica asked herself.
Ah, screw it. Since when I have been a bastion of self-control?
Grabbing Lila's hand, Jessica tugged her over to stand beneath the mistletoe that was still hanging from the molding at the top of their alcove. "Lila, I wasn't kidding," she said, knowing she had only five seconds to get everything out before her timing would literally be off. "I mean, I was, but it was like serendipitous, you know? An accident that had a good ending?"
"And I don't know if this is a mistake, but I have to at least try…"
As the teens gathered in the Fowler mansion shouted out, "ONE!" Jessica pressed her lips to Lila's. The brunette tasted of chocolate and rum punch, and there was a strange hesitancy to her stillness as her raspberry-glossed lips remained immobile against the blonde's.
And then all of a sudden the cheers of the other students were a roar in their ears along with the blood rushing through their veins and Jessica was gasping for breath because she'd lost hers in the most infuriatingly wonderful kiss she'd ever had the fortune to be a part of.
One hand carding through soft brown strands of hair, Jessica stared at a point on the wall over Lila's shoulder, unable to look her – hopefully still – best friend in the eye. "Lila?" she asked timidly.
Lila let out a shuddering breath and looked up at Jessica from under thick sable lashes. Her cheeks were flushed and there was an expression on her face like one might get after they'd just had an epiphany…or twelve. "Wow…" she breathed.
Jessica giggled, giddy that her friend didn't seem to hate her for what she'd done. "Wow? Just…wow? That's all you have to say?" she teased.
Lila blushed scarlet at letting her feelings show so plainly. She never did anything without calculating the odds first.
Except with Jess, a little voice whispered. You never have to worry about how she'll see you. You can be yourself with her… You're safe with her. Heartened, Lila looked up into Jessica's ocean blue eyes, looking for and finding her long sought-for acceptance. "I…maybe I was too hasty when I rejected your idea," she admitted. "Maybe…we could…try?"
She sounded so uncertain Jessica couldn't help but pull her into a reassuring embrace. "Yeah, that sounds good," she breathed huskily. She cleared her throat and smiled bashfully. "But, ah…don't let any other girls catch you under the mistletoe, okay?" She gave a lighthearted chuckled to offset the seriousness of the sentiment.
Lila giggled and nodded. "Deal, Jess."