Author's Note: Sorry for the hiatus! I'm busy with school, so I won't be able to update as much anymore until holidays, but this story is by no means over, or anywhere near it! Also, I apologize that this chapter is so short, but again, I don't have a lot of time to write. I'll work on that, though! Thanks for all your reviews, please keep them coming. :)
It was as if a million things had occurred at once.
Cam's mouth felt as though it had been perfectly made to slant onto my own, and the warmth from the blood pumping fiercely through our faces radiated with a force I was sure was greater than the sun itself. He held my waist with his hands ever so softly - it almost tickled. It felt as though the moment would never end, and I could by no means ever comprehend how I was that lucky. The gorgeous man who had saved my life was now claiming me as his own, and I loved it too much to think about anything else.
Until I remembered that we were surrounded by a plethora of various villagers, both from Bluebell and Konohana.
My eyes widened and I tore my lips from Cam's. My face turned an even deeper shade of brick-red as my eyes met Kana's; he wore an expression I had never seen before - it was almost a look of confusion. I had no idea what to make of it, however, as it faded almost immediately and he, along with the remaining Konohana villagers, trudged dejectedly back down the mountain in embarrassment and shame.
Howard and Laney's jaws had dropped as they observed the situation. I was suddenly interested greatly in my shoes and my eyes refused to meet anyone else's.
What if they don't think I'm good enough for him? I worried as paranoia took over. The thought repeated itself several times in my head until I couldn't think of anything except for Cam, and how he might have just been kissing me as a joke, and how he didn't really like me, he couldn't…
"Lillian?" I heard someone whisper. I looked up to see a wide-eyed Laney frowning slightly.
"Yeah. Sorry about that," I mumbled, my face still hot and my palms sweaty.
"Sorry?" she replied abruptly. For a split-second, I thought she was angry. Then, her pursed lips burst apart into a grin. "Two of my closest friends are together! Why, what are you sorry about?" she asked with a high-pitched giggle. "And on top of that, we won the cooking festival!"
I felt a huge weight disappear from my shoulders as Laney wrapped me in a hug. I could have Cam and Laney. Then, I fully comprehended each and every word she said, and informed her that it was just a kiss - "I don't think that necessarily means we're together, Laney."
"Of course it does. Here, that's exactly what it means," Laney smirked. "Unless you don't want-"
"How could I not?" I interrupted her with a gargantuan grin plastered on my flushed face. "Where did Cam and Howard go?" I inquired as I noticed their absences. "Made a run for it?"
Laney laughed. "Howard's probably so excited that Cam showed emotion for someone. He's usually just working all the time. He must've been bottling up his feelings for you this whole time! It's so romantic!" she exclaimed, clasping her hands together and looking wistfully into the distance, awfully near to where Ash, Cheryl, and Jessica were standing.
"I think you should go kiss Ash," I whispered as quietly as humanly possible.
It was Laney's turn to blush. "No way. It has to be in the moment," she insisted. "If I kissed him now, Cheryl would throw a hissy-fit."
"Good point," I responded. "Let's go congratulate Jessica!"
Before Laney could protest, I grabbed her arm and dragged her towards the small family.
"Good job on your pudding, Lillian," Ash said with a grin that was almost too wide. "And on your congratulatory gift from-"
"Ash!" Jessica scolded her son, but smiled nonetheless. "You're shaping up to be a fine cook, Lillian."
"Thank you," I said after a moment of composing myself, my face painted in a new shade of scarlet. "Good job, Jessica. I'm sure your apple pie was great. It looked so delicious!"
"I made another one, you know, for the after party! Let's hurry up and go to the Town Hall before it gets cold!" Jessica suggested.
"I'll race you!" Cheryl screamed playfully at Ash, and the two began dashing down the mountain as Jessica shook her head and followed, leaving Laney and I with my pony, alone on the mountaintop.
"He didn't even talk to me," Laney noted despondently. "What did I do wrong?"
I hadn't noticed anything save his fake grin at the mention of the kiss Cam and I shared, and couldn't understand why Ash would ignore her. "He was just busy. Cheryl chased him away before he had a chance to say anything. It must be because she knows he likes you," I deducted as we mounted Luna. I couldn't think clearly - whenever I shut my eyes, all I could see were the flecks of gold mixed with the emerald green in Cam's almond-shaped eyes and the feel of his soft lips meshed with my own. The fluttering in my chest was relentless.
Laney shrugged and changed the subject back to Cam and I. "Since when do you have the hots for him?" she asked with a sly grin.
"Since… Forever," I admitted. "Since I first saw him. When he saved me."
"It'll be a great story to tell your children," Laney joked.
"I'm afraid he doesn't read into the kiss as much as we do," I said honestly.
"I'm afraid you're wrong, sweetie," Laney chuckled. "He cares for you. I can tell. I know him better than anyone, I think."
"Tell me something I don't know about him." I was desperate to know everything there possibly was to know about Cam.
"Let me think…" Laney hummed quietly as we rode Luna slowly down the mountain. "He doesn't talk a lot, but you know that. Howard is the closest thing he has to a parent, but not a blood relative. We were together for most of my childhood, but he left for school for a few years here and there. He knows French. His favorite color is purple. He has a soft spot for cats-"
"Cats?" I asked with a shiver. "They give me the creeps-"
"Don't tell him that," Laney chortled. "Kidding! I'm sure it'll be fine. He just likes to leave food out for stray cats sometimes."
"That's so sweet of him," I sighed.
"He hates chocolate," Laney informed me. "Remember that."
We rode the rest of the way to the Town Hall in silence. Laney must have known I could hardly concentrate on anything else with the mental images running through my mind.
Cam kissed me.
It still felt irrational and unreal and impossible and insane and imaginary and infinitely unlikely, but it had happened.
We entered the Town Hall after tying up Luna and were greeted by thunderous applause and a firm handshake from Rutger.
"I cannot thank you enough, Lillian, for your valiant efforts in today's cooking festival. And to you, Laney, for being her mentor. Both of you will be rewarded!" Rutger announced, and before I could protest, Rutger presented me with a medal and a boxed set filled with different cooking utensils in front of the entire village of Bluebell, who eyed me with a mixture of pride and envy. To Laney, he gave a new apron and tablecloth. She was trembling with joy and shock, and Howard pulled her into a tight embrace. I watched as she joined the crowd and was congratulated by Ash, who patted her on the back.
"Thank you so much," I said to Rutger gratefully. "This means a lot! It was such a pleasure to represent this amazing village. Everything's so perfect." I blushed fiercely as I felt tears rush to my eyes.
The next thing I knew, I was being ushered to a table, and everyone sat and indulged in the delectable food that had been placed in front of us. I was too overjoyed to pay attention to what it was or who I was sitting with. Soon, music was playing, and I had drunk enough grape wine to lose what little coordination and dignity I had, and I didn't care that I had broken a promise to myself, and I couldn't think clearly, and everyone was dancing and singing with me, and I should have been embarrassed but I didn't care for some unknown reason, and Cam had to grab me to ensure that I wouldn't trip several times throughout the night, and Laney hugged me as she cried from happiness, and it was one of the few times in my life I had truly felt at home.
Bluebell was my family.