My Mixtape

1. I like the way you're not afraid

You got the world planned in your mind

People say you cannot do well

They don't know a friend like you.…

She's leaving me.

It's all I can think as I watch Sam look through the cardboard box of things that she left over my house or that I borrowed or things that were once mine but somewhere along the line became hers.

She's leaving.

Realistically, I always thought I would be the one to leave because Sam's always had issues with school and homework and authority but when we got to high school she was recruited onto the field hockey team, after punching out that asshat Randy Miller, and she found her calling, a place where she could let loose and clobber people for a purpose without getting suspended.

It gave her a reason to, at the very least try in school, motivation, something she's always lacked despite having an IQ far higher than she'd ever let on. Her SAT scores are enough to show that, out doing me and Freddie.

Not that I mind, really, because it's sort of amazing seeing Sam be productive and in less trouble but I hadn't been expecting this.

"I totally forgot about this…" Sam mutters, sitting cross legged in the middle of my bed while she pulls on a knit cap with earflaps. I smile at her from the carpet and she grins back, pulling the sort of ugly hat over her hair. "How does it look?"

"It looks good." I murmur and she winks at me before diving back into the box.

It turns out she's, like, an amazing field hockey player. So amazing that colleges have been offering her full rides at every turn.

I always thought that I would be the one going away to college and that Sam would be here when I got back but it turns out I was wrong because I'm staying in Washington and going to the University of Washington with Freddie and Sam is going to California.

California, the land of earthquakes and movie stars.

It makes my eyes water and my stomach hurt just thinking about it because she's leaving me.

"Hey, what're you thinking about?" Sam asks, grabbing my attention and when I look up at her she's wearing a fake handlebar mustache from the box. "You're super quiet."

"I'm just thinking…" I sigh honestly, picking at my pale lavender carpet absently. "It's gonna be weird not seeing you every day." I know that its going to be more than weird, its going to be painful and hard but I don't say that part.

"It'll be okay." Sam reassures because that's what she does, everyone assumes that I'm the one that takes care of her in our friendship because I keep her out of trouble and out of jail but its only half true because Sam takes better care of me than anyone can. She's strong and she so sure about important things and I just need her around. "Everything's going to work out."

"Are you excited to be leaving?" I ask and she licks her lips thoughtfully, though the gesture is odd due to the mustache.

"No, I mean, yeah it's exciting but I don't want to leave you." She says pulling out a few CD's before dumping them back in the box. "I'm gonna miss you."

"I'm gonna miss you too." I choke out and god, I can't believe she's leaving. I wipe at the tears burning my eyes and when I look up, Sam is watching me with blue, clear eyes.

"Don't worry, Carls. We'll call and email each other and before you know it summer will be here and it'll be like nothing ever changed." Sam mutters softly.

She's wrong. Things will never be the same.

Sam pulls her eyes away slowly, digging through the box some more before holding up the tee shirt and tossing it to me. "Keep that."

I frown, catching the shirt that smells just like Sam. "Why?"

"Something to remember me by." She says simply and I clutch the shirt to my chest stupidly, It's not like I could ever forget her.

"I'm not gonna forget you, Sam." I sigh sincerely and Sam just gazes at me for a minute in a way that's confusing and a little scary because I don't know what she's searching for when she looks into me like that and I don't know why it makes my stomach do that slow churn.

I swallow once, twice, to make the stomach thing stop and it feels like I need to say something, something important but I'm grasping for words that I can't reach.

"I could never forget you." I continue instead and she gives me a sad smile.

"I know." Is all she says, stretching her long legs out and pressing a socked foot against my hip and I grab her toe, pulling a little.

It's silent for a while, I watch her poke around the box some more while words run through my head over and over. "Don't leave me." "I need you." "Please" and I'm watching her as more time slips by and soon she's going to be out of my life for the next four years at least.

"Hey, remember when I put this in Mrs. Briggs' desk?" Sam asks, holding up the rubber snake I confiscated from her mere moments after said incident. "And she got scared so bad she peed a little?"

That was cruel." I chastise even now, years later, but Sam just gives me that fierce, proud grin.

"Cruel but hilarious." Sam offers and I roll my eyes, reaching up towards her ankle and hooking my fingers in the cotton of her sock, drawing it down and off of her foot and tossing it away. She wiggles her toes absently but doesn't look up from her box.

She pulls out a stack of stapled papers, the edges curling just a bit with the bright red 'A-' on the front, scribbled just under Sam's name.

Her first high school 'A' that was just as much work for me when I had to force Sam to study as it was for Sam but in the end it was worth it because Sam came hurtling into the apartment, jumping on the couch and waving it around until I took it from her and put it on the refrigerator with magnets shaped like bananas and pears.

She drops it back in the box with a smile, eyes finding mine for a moment.

"So I should probably get going. I haven't even packed or anything yet." She exhales, flexing her naked foot a little and sliding the box with her name written in my handwriting and thick black marker to her side while she glances around for her sock.

"Sam?" I whisper, watching her find her sock in the fold of the blanket before she looks up at me expectantly, pulling it back on her foot.

"Yeah, Cupcake?" She asks, eyebrows arching under her cap and lips tipping upwards under her mustache.

"In case I never said it, I'm really proud of you." I whisper and Sam peels the mustache from her face slowly.

"I love you, Carls. You know that right?" She asks so seriously and it leaves me oddly staggered because of course she loves me and I love her. We're best friends.

"Yeah, I know." I rasp and she smirks, leaning forward to place the mustache over my lips and I grin at her stupidly as she smoothes it into place, her fingertips skimming my lips.

"Goodnight, Kiddo. I'll see you tomorrow." She beams standing and leaving and I watch her go silently, even though she forgot her box.

2. Nobody said it was easy

Aww, It's such a shame for us to part

Nobody said it was easy

No one ever said it would be so hard…

"I'm gonna miss you, Sam." Spencer says into Sam's hair, hugging her tightly and Sam's arms flail a little bit. "And I know when I open the fridge…and see all of that uneaten food…" He hiccups a little while Sam continues to struggle to breathe. "That's when I know I'll miss you the most." He wails with one last squeeze.

"I'm gonna miss you too, Spence." Sam manages to choke out, slapping her hands against Spencer's back as his tall frame nearly swallows her. "Almost as much as I miss oxygen right now."

Spencer gets the hint, finally releasing her and wiping at the tears in his eyes, "They grow up so fast!" Spencer half yells, half sobs to innocent people passing by. "They just…grow up so…so fast!"

I watch Sam give Spencer an affectionate pat on the shoulder while he presses a fist to his mouth, overcome with emotion before turning to face Freddie and her blue eyes are glassy with tears as she shifts her backpack on her shoulders and Freddie smiles sadly at her a little bit and I've always been a little bit in awe of how they can communicate the serious, important parts of their friendship with a look and a smile, always a smile.

"Benson." Sam smirks, one eyebrow arching as she extends her hand towards him. "It's been a pleasure."

He takes her hand quickly, "Likewise, Puckett." He grins, shaking her hand before pulling her into a hug and I look away to blink away the burn of tears in my eyes because turning into a broken, sobbing mess in the middle of the airport would be bad but then there's a ripping sound and Freddie's yelp.

"You gave me a wedgie." He cries, standing on his toes in obvious discomfort.

"Yeah, I did. No charge." Sam laughs proudly and then she's turning towards me, smile melting from her face and then I do turn into the broken, sobbing mess in the middle of the airport.

She hugs me, warm and solid, even as her arms slide around my waist and her chin hooks over my shoulder while I cry brokenly into her ear. She hugs me tight and tells me that everything is going to be okay, over and over and over so many times but it won't make it true.

"I'm gonna miss-miss you so much." I choke out, "How am I gonna…?How am I supposed to…?" function, breathe, live.

I'm not sure how long we stand there, with people passing by and Freddie and Spencer watching but then Sam is pulling out of my arms even though I'm grasping and clutching, her smile sad and her eyes red.

"You gotta go, Sam. You'll miss your plane." Freddie whispers and she nods without looking at him.

"I'll call you when I get there?" She swallows and I nod, best I can, tears still flowing freely like they might never stop.

"Okay." I croak and with that Sam turns, her shoulder of her blue tee shirt darkened from my tears, and I watch her leave me.

3. Hello

it's me again.

It's three days now

that you've been in my dreams

and I don't know, I guess

you've just been on my mind

I don't know, I guess

I think about you all the time…

I rush into my dorm, kicking the door shut behind me as I shrug off my book bag and proceed to dump everything out on the floor before dropping to my knees on the carpet to rifle through the pile of stuff for my ringing phone.

"Hold on. Hold on." I mutter urgently because Sam and I have been playing phone tag with one another for the past three days and she left a voicemail telling me she'd call back on this day at this time and I can't miss her again.

I find my phone wedged in the pages of a notebook. "Hello? Sam?" I blurt pressing my phone to my ear tightly. "Sam?"

"It's about time." Sam laughs, bright and clear over the line and I sit back on my heels at the warm feeling that settle over me. "I almost forgot what you sounded like."

"I'm sorry, I've been so busy." I smile, brushing my hair out of my face and standing only to move and drop down on my bed.

"You're telling me, though your voicemail have started a very intense, complicated relationship." Sam sighs over the line and I wonder if she's lying down too, remember when the two of use would stretch out on my bed on lazy afternoons after school. "Apparently, college is hard work and you have to try and junk."

I sink into bed a little and soak in Sam's low voice.

"Weird." I chuckles.

"I know, right?"

We talk about insignificant things for a while, school and classes and a story with far too much detail about how one of Sam's teammates broke her leg in three places.

We talk until we're all caught up and all I can hear is Sam's slow even breathing and it reminds me of home.

"You were in my dream last night." Sam whispers out of the blue and something in my chest hiccups.

"Yeah?" I breathe curiously, twisting onto my side because it feels good to know Sam thinks about me because I think about her all the time. I miss my friend.

"Yeah." She exhales and it sounds like she's moving too. "Well, its like the third time you've been in my dreams this week."

I rub my neck a little, where I'm inexplicably blushing red hot. "Is it that a dream where I'm hunting you and trying to make you eat cauliflower?" I ask, "Because if so, I think you might need to see a psychologist or something 'cause I don't think that's healthy."

"No, it wasn't that nightmare." She laughs softly.

"So, tell me about it." I breathe closing my eyes and I can picture her, loose, long limbs draped over her bed.

"What?" She exhales.

"Tell me about the dream." I repeat easily and for a second she just breathes, in and out, over and over.

"Um…no." She says after a moment and I frown, can feel the slight furrow in my brow.

"What? Why not?" I question around a laugh. "Was it a sex dream?" I laugh but there's silence over the line and then suddenly nothings all that funny. I open my eyes and blink up at the ceiling.

She laughs a little, nervously. "You wish."

And for some reason those two little words make me pause.

"Carly?" Sam asks tentatively and I swallow hard.


"I think…" and then Sam's words are completely cut off by my roommate, Jackie, hurtling into the room.

"Carly, have you seen my Psych notes? I've got a quiz today I cannot fail and I can't…" She trails off, dark hair falling into her face and her dangling earrings jangling as she rifles through her desk. "I need them!"

"Jackie, I don't know where they are." I bite out because I know that Sam was about to say something important, could hear it in her voice.

I watch Jackie nearly flip over her narrow bed in the desperate, noisy search for her notes and I stand quickly, heading into the bathroom and closing the door behind me. I don't turn on the light because when the light comes on so does the fan and it'll be too much noise because I need to hear Sam right now.

"Sam?" I croak, sitting on the sink and pressing the phone tight to my ear while she breathes and I listen and wait… "Sam?"

"Carls, I gotta go. I'm already late for practice." She blurts because that was definitely not what she was going to say and something that feels like hope is suddenly gone and I drop my head forward slowly in what may be disappointment though I'm not sure at what.

"Okay." I manage, pressing my lips together for a moment, "I love you."

"I love you too, Carls."


Is it still me that makes you sweat?

Am I who you think about in bed?

When the lights are dim

and your hands are shaking as you're sliding off your dress?

Oh, God…

I wake up, gasping into my pillow and my hips pressing into the mattress, chasing after a phantom touch and I groan.

This is getting ridiculous.

I slide onto my back in the dark and throw my arm over my eyes, taking a moment to breathe through the aching tightness. The nape of my neck is damp with perspiration and I can taste sweat when I lick my lips before swallowing and trying to will away the heavy, throbbing pulse between my legs.

It doesn't work. In fact it hasn't worked for the past week.

I sit up, throwing the blankets off of my legs because my entire body is slick and I feel like I'm crawling out of my skin, I can't stand still.

This is the last time, I tell myself over and over, muttering it under my breath quietly even as I push my blankets down around my hips with fumbling hands, checking to make sure that Jackie's bed is empty even though she said she wasn't coming back from her boyfriends until tomorrow. This is the last time because I'm not one of those people that needs to do this a lot, in fact, it's only on rare occasion that I do actually do do this.

Except for this week. This week is the exception.

I shift in bed, sighing and squeezing my eyes shut before I slide my hand against my stomach, my breast and I feel like I'm on fire.

They say that everybody does this and I'm sure its true, I can hear a muffled buzz coming from Jackie's bed some nights, but I would be mortified if people knew that I did it. I wonder if Sam does it.

I work my hand into my pajama pants, pushing my hand quickly between my legs and I don't know if its because I want to hurry up and get it over with or its because I can't help myself.

It feels good, really good, like amazing and my mind stumbles over images and scenarios until it finds its way back to the dream that's the cause of all of this.

Pale, pale skin and long lines.

Blue eyes and slender hands.

And its Sam, I know its Sam and I squeeze my eyes tighter and think about something else, anyone else, boys with abs and biceps and muscles but my mind keeps reverting.

Long blonde hair and the way my name sounds on her lips sometimes.

It's over, I'm gasping and rocking against my own touch, my legs are shaking and everything inside of me is clutching and grasping and it takes a moment for me to get my bearings.

This is the last time.

I'm going to go to sleep and in the morning everything will be normal and I won't feel like I do now, this is just a phase.

I tell this to myself over and over too, just like the past week, as if its going to be that easy.

5. I remember the time you drove all night

Just to meet me in the morning

And I thought it was strange

You said everything changed

You felt as if you'd just woke up...

"Sam, what're you doing here?" I breathe in disbelief because when I called her 11 hours ago, sobbing and crying over the stress, and pressure, and the three tests with failing grades marked on them sitting on my desk, I hadn't expected her to drive all the way up here just because I told her that I wished she was here, that I needed her.

I probably should've known better because if there's one thing Sam is, it's impulsive in the best and worst ways.

"I seem to recall a frantic phone call telling me you need me." She whispers, lips curling like she might smile but she's too tired to. "So here I am."

"I was just having a mental breakdown." I laugh weakly, my eyes still red and burning from the crying I did right before I fell asleep. "You didn't have to come all the way up here."

"Carls, when I get a hysterical phone call from my best friend, I come. What else are friends for?" She says dismissively and I grin at her, clutching at the door stupidly while she stands in the hallway with no bag, just the clothes on her back. "So?" She asks, lifting her eyebrows. "Are you gonna let me in or am I gonna have to sleep in the hall."

It's the first time I've seen her and months and he looks different, I notice. Different but the same.

The Californian sun has made her hair a little blonder which in turn makes her blue eyes just that much brighter, even considering the purpling ring surrounding her left eye but her hair still curls the same way against her shoulders and her eyes still have that mischievous slant to them and I'm still grinning as she brushes past me into the room.

"How'd you get the black eye?" I ask quietly, glancing at Jackie, who is tucked into bed and snoring lightly as I follow Sam to my empty bed. My eyes catch my alarm clock and I see that its just after 4 am.

"Reading." Sam says simply, dropping down on my bed like its hers too and the rolling, queasy feeling I get watching her pull off her shoes isn't all bad.

"You got a black eye from reading?" I laugh in disbelief, sitting down beside her and she sort of smells like she's been driving for 10 hours but not in an entirely bad way.

"Well, I was trying to study in the library and this stupid kid wouldn't stop whistling." She says gesturing with her hands a little and I smile at her.

"So you fought them?" I ask incredulity and Sam shrugs easily.

"It made more sense in the moment." She admits.

I roll my eyes, "It's funny how that is."

Her shoes are off and we're both climbing into my narrow bed without another word, face to face and the way her breath flutters against my chin and neck is familiar and makes me dig my nails into the mattress.

"So, what's going on Carls?" She asks even though she must be exhausted after driving hours just for me.

"I don't think I can do this. This whole college thing." I admit softly with a frown. "It's hard and I'm failing."

"Carls, you're one of the smartest people I know and I know that you can do college." Sam whispers and her words are simple but needed and tension is easing already in my chest. "If I can do it, all the way in California without the one person that's always believed in me, then I know you can do it."

"I assume you're talking about Freddie." I joke because Sam just being here, in my bed, with me, makes me feel a million times better.

"You are so not hilarious." She mutters and her eyes look tired but happy. "But I missed you a lot and you know I'm here for you anytime you call."

"I know. Thank you for coming, Sam." I say softly and she just beams wearily at me, reaching out to lace her hand with mine, before rolling onto her back and taking my hand with her.

"So, I dunno if you noticed but I've been working out…" Sam starts and I have. I have. "Feel." And with that she presses my hand to her stomach. Her super flat, super strong stomach and my nervous system jumps unexpectedly at the contact.

"Oh my gosh, you're like Demi Moore in that movie." I hiss, smiling at her and Sam nods.

"I know, right!"

I keep my hand pressed to her stomach for a moment, my fingertips finding the shallow lines of abdominal muscles and I frown a little, twisting my fingers free of hers for a moment before curling my hand around her side and urging her back on her side.

Her jean legs slide against my bare ones and I know this'll stick in my brain.

"Are you tired?" I ask and she just nods but her eyes are staring into mine and I swallow as a feeling, an urge that is new but a little familiar pushes into my chest.

I want to kiss her.

I want her to kiss me.

And the thought scares me, it terrifies me but not in the way it should. I'm scared because it looks like she might and I hold my breath as she shifts a little closer in the dimness.

"Sam." I breathe her name but then suddenly a light is clicking on and I'm pushing myself up.

"Carly?" Jackie yawns, "Who's your lady friend?"

6. You're gonna hate me when I tell you everything

You're gonna question whether you really know me at all

You will revisit every smile, and where it fit into the day

"Carls, can you please just call me back…?" Sam's voice hiccups a little like she's crying and I swallow hard and jam the phone tighter to my ear. "I don't know what's wrong or what I did but can you just please…please call me back?"

The message ends and I close my phone and tuck it into my fist for a minute as I lean my forehead against my steering wheel.

Her voice is sad and soft as I play back the latest message in my mind and I'm not upset or mad I'm just…

There are things, feelings and emotions and urges that are swelling inside of me when I think about Sam and the way it makes something in my chest ache is scary.

Sam and I are best friends but these feelings are definitely not something I should be feeling for her and Jackie keeps giving me looks like she knows something and dropping not so subtle hints and I'm so…

I haven't talked to Sam in almost two and half weeks and I miss her and not hearing her voice at night makes it harder to sleep for some reason but I needed space and answers and I couldn't just figure all of this out with Sam in my head though lately she's rarely not on my mind.

But either way, I have my answer.

Because tonight I went out with a boy, Lyle Evans, who has warm brown eyes and always smiles at me when we pass in the hall.

The date was normal, dinner and a movie, and we talked about normal things and it was just so…monotonous.

It made me think about time Sam and I went to the movies and a series of fairly spectacular events involving Sam, a cup of Peppy Cola and a cell phone, caused a theater wide riot. The memory made me smile and I'm sure Lyle thought it was because of him.

I'd kissed him after, because I wanted to just be normal and not different in anyway but it didn't matter because I didn't feel anything besides lip to lip contact. Unfortunately, that empty feeling wasn't enough for me to decline his invitation up to his dorm, not even when I saw him slide that hair scrunchie over the doorknob because apparently I was out to prove something.

Something I couldn't.

And all I have to show for it is a soreness between my legs and a hickey on the nape of my neck.

I lift my head slowly, peering at the phone for a moment before flipping it open again and finding Sam's number because I don't know what else I to do. I tried to prove to myself that what I felt for her wasn't anything more than friendship and couldn't, succeeding in only making myself completely miserable and sort of a trollop.

It's late and her phone rings so many times that I don't think she's going to answer but then there a soft click and a slow breath.

She doesn't greet me, just whispers "What did I do?" into the phone and I squeeze my eyes shut, dropping my head into the steering wheel.

Jesus, what am I doing.

"Nothing. You didn't do anything." I whisper and she just breathes for a moment.

"So why have you been avoiding me?" She asks softly and I imagine her buried under blanket and tousled and I lick my lips.

"I'm so sorry." I murmur, "I just needed some space to think."

She's silent for a moment before speaking. "Okay. So, I assume you figured something out since your calling me." Sam points out like maybe she knows and I nod to myself.

"I did." I confirm and she makes a soft noise in her throat. "I had a date tonight. With a guy in my dorm." I mutter and I don't know why I'm telling her this but it feels like I just need to.

"What's his name." Sam asks wearily, I wonder if she's just playing along.


"That's a stupid name."

"I know." I sigh, "He took me to dinner and a movie."

I hear Sam shift, the flutter of blankets audible through the phone. "Did you have a good time?"

"No." I answer honestly.

"Did you kiss him?" Sam asks, her words catching and I inhale slowly.

"Yes, I did."

"Did you have sex with him?" She asks softly and I swallow hard, nodding before I just say it.


And then there's silence so deafening that my head throbs and I have to jam the phone against the side of my head just to hear her shallow breathing.


"I have to go." She exhales softly and I bang my head against the horn.

"Sam, please don't…" I plea but she cuts me off with the soft click of her hanging up on me.

7. We used to laugh, we used to hug, the way that old friends do.

But now, a smile and a touch of your hand, Just makes me come unglued.

Such a contridiction, do I lie or tell the truth. Is it fact or fiction,

Oh the way I feel for you…

My fingers slip around Sam's slim wrist, her skin hot against my thumb and my heart pounding in rhythm with her pulse under the pads of my fingers, as I pull her through the throng of fancily dressed people and I can feel her reluctance in the lean of her body, of the squeak of her sneakers on the marble floor but it doesn't stop me. Instead I just pull her harder and when Freddie gives me a confused look, tugging at the bow tie of his tux, I ignore him and continue to yank Sam away from the crowd of people attending Spencer's fancy gallery opening until we enter a dimmer room behind the red velvet rope.

"You didn't tell me you were coming." I say breathlessly, as if our relationship hasn't degenerated from late night phone calls to awkward texts and IM's and it's my fault because I knew what was happening to our relationship even if she hasn't realized it yet and I was the one hell bent on snapping it, on breaking it apart around us because it was weird and not normal, even though I'm not sure that's what I wanted.

"Well, its not like I could miss Spencer's big fancy art show." She shrugs and I blink at the muscles that move with the gesture, muscles that weren't there initially but came from field hockey and hard work. I look away for a second, glancing past the velvet rope and through the open doorway at Spencer, in his faux tux tee shirt, and I'm swelling with pride the entire time.

When I look back, Sam is looking at me, blue eyes glowing even in the dim light because of the dark blue dress she's wearing with tiny, tiny straps that I just want to touch and blue and black checkered low top sneakers, blonde hair just this side of messy and she's never looked so grown up and childish simultaneously.

"I'm so sorry." I blurt suddenly and Sam doesn't even flinch, totally accustomed to my explosive tendencies, she just licks her pink lips and raises her incredibly expressive eyebrows.

"For what?" She questions softly and I step closer, my heels click clacking loudly on the marble floor.

And I'm not even really sure but I do know that whatever is happening to our relationship, however its evolving, I did stupid things to try to stop it because I'm confused and scared but I'm realizing that I don't really want it to stop it.

"I miss hearing your voice and I miss talking to you and I miss you, so much." I blurt, tears stinging my eyes and Sam steps forward too, sneakers squeaking in a memorable way, grabbing my wrist before sliding her fingers into mine and squeezing tight.

I squeeze back, hard, palm pressed to hers, because I want her to feel that shock, that jolt, that I get now when we touch.

Sam pulls me into a hug, holding me tight when I teeter on my heels just a little because of the way my heart is pounding on the back of my tongue and Sam smells nice and soft like fancy soap.

"Don't you feel it?" I mumble, dropping my forehead against hers and even though I'm peering at her pretty face, her eyes are squeezed shut. "The way things are changing between us?"

Sam just breathes for a moment, her breath fanning against my lips and I swallow hard in a vain attempt to control the butterflies jetting around in my guts. "It's scary." She mutters weakly and I nod in agreement.

"Yeah," I agree with a laugh and then Sam's eyes are opening and she's screwing her mouth up in that way she has, like she's considering and contemplating then she tips her chin and hooks her fingers in the material of my dress at my waist.

She doesn't kiss me but I wish she did, think about leaning in and doing it myself but then she's taking a deep breath and pulling away slowly

8. I'm feeling it comin' over me

With you it all comes naturally

Lost the reflex to resist

And I could get used to this

"…and there's blood everywhere and she's screaming and crying and I'm like, get over it. Ya know what I mean?"

I make frown, weaving my way across campus in an attempt to get to class on time, shifting my bag on my shoulder. "No, not really."

"Okay, think of it like a wishbone and you know how it snaps in half?" She starts and my stomach gets a little queasy at the analogy but the warm sound of her voice makes me tuck the phone closer to my ear.

"Sam?" I laugh, interrupting her unnecessarily graphic story and she stops.


"I miss you, a lot." I sigh and for a minute there's nothing, just the sound of her breathing over the background noise of a man giving her coffee and I stop walking, leaning against a nearby pillar.

"I miss you too." She finally whispers like she wanted to say something else. "And that is why I think you should come to California."

"California?" I question, pushing off of the wall and heading towards my class again.

"Yeah, there's sunshine and beaches and people with perfect teeth." She says like she's dangling a steak in front of a dog and I can't help but grin. "What more could you possibly want?"

"Will you be there?" I ask, licking my lips and this time she answers quickly.

"It can be arranged."

Her words make something, something warm and tingling, rush over me and great waves and I could get use to that feeling.

9. I tried to warn you

That this would be the kiss that counted

The one that mattered

My life before me undone

This would be the kiss that counted ...

California is bright.

The sky is cloudless and open and the sun beams down hard, warming everything and defying things like time of the year and seasons and other things that all other states have to abide by.

It's the best consecutive five days of my life.

It's also the most confusing five days of my life because when Sam introduces me to her teammates and friends they don't really know who I am, except for Sam's roommate, Natalie. Natalie shakes my hand and calls me the pretty girl from the pictures and the late night phone calls. She says she's heard a lot about me with a completely knowing smile and emphasis and when I glance at Sam she's doing her angry blushing thing.

It's confusing because its just like normal, we hang out and see movies and eat way too much junk food and talk and laugh but it's the little things that are bewildering and different.

Sam pays for our movies and food and Sam never pays and she spends a lot of time watching me like I'm a stranger or a pod person between familiar conversations.

And I get it because whatever's happening is new and strange but sort of the still the same. It's the same except when we walk through the city at night she's wearing my sweatshirt and I'm holding her hand with both of mine.

Sam is stretched out on her bed, taking up most of the already scarce space, her feet hanging over the edge while I sit on the floor, holding a bowl of popcorn away from Sam because I'd actually like to have some halfway through the movie we're watching on her small television.

But its not like I could tell anyone what was going on in the movie because Sam's fingers have decided to play with the hair at the nape of my neck and its making my heels dig into carpet. I lean into her touch a little bit, letting her know that this is okay while I mull over how much I want her to kiss me. How much I want to kiss her. How I'd gratefully take either one of those things. But Sam is being careful, treading lighter than I've ever seen her because I think she knows exactly what would happen if we kissed.

That it would change everything and start us on a new, terrifying path but I want that, I'm ready and I can only hope that she is too.

I turn to face her, setting the popcorn down on the floor and Sam looks at me expectantly.

"Hey." I smile and she gives me a confused smile, eyebrows dipping just a little.

"Hi." She murmurs and her eyes skim over my face far less curious now as I lean in a little bit, licking my lips and try to keep my heart behind my ribs.

"So, I think I'm going to kiss you now…" I start and Sam's mouth quirks up a little. "Is that alright?"

"Yeah." She exhales and I'm leaning in and she's meeting me halfway and my heart gives one last leap before I kiss her soft lips.

I knew this was the kiss that counted. That would make something new or break something old and I was right. As her tongue slides past mine I know I was so right.