Hello again,

— this is something new.

 Under the watchful cover of a Georgian spring moon, two pairs of eyes flashed brightly in the darkness, looking into one another with a tone that could be only loving.

“I’m telling you,” she started with a giggle, “I am getting so old I can’t remember your name, much less mine!”

The sly graze of his eyes in her direction signaled her unfortunate play on words. Damn it, she scolded herself, rolling her eyes at his next words with a shake of her head. Too easy.

“I’ll make you remember my name,” Josh spoke at last, moving his hand from where it rested comfortably on her stomach to the top of her right shoulder. In the dark, Amanda raised her eyebrow but it was lost to the pitch black, so she could only giggle to relieve her nervousness. Even when his words have the most carefree meaning behind them, it still made her spine shiver; one day, one hour, maybe even tonight, there was going to come a time where he was serious, and a rebellious (big) part of her couldn’t wait for it. She couldn’t wait for him to ooze that cocky confidence that he hid deep in himself, knowing that the little girl inside her waiting to be tamed would eat it up.

“Uh-huh,” she muttered so that she didn’t have to verbally respond, but her body turned sideways toward him, and her feet brush against his ankles. It was touching him, smelling the boy scent off his skin and clothes and feeling what it felt like against her fingertips – that is what she loved the most. It would also be the memory she clung to most once he was gone.

A few stray pieces of hair fell onto her face as she moved, and he touched two fingers, sweeping them up and behind her ear, to tuck it back into place. Soft sighs escaped from both their breaths at the same time. He was the one to laugh this time.

“You’re hair’s gotten longer,” Josh mused, rubbing the ends of a strand between his fingers gingerly before laying it back on her shoulder. His proximity and his breath softly moving just below her neck was making her heart jump and smack against her ribcage, but Amanda remained silent, even as he brought two of his fingers down against her side. Her reflex was to shy away from a man touching anywhere near her stomach or legs, but this was Josh; he said he loved her, and she had finally allowed herself to believe that maybe he was telling the truth. This wasn’t going to be another screw up. This was her Josh, and he was tied into too many aspects of her life now for her to feel that self-conscious around him.

His hand flattened out against the dip in her side again before it moved up and over her hip, and curled gently around her upper thigh. As it moved, he rubbed in small circles slowly, creating a massaging effect that did wonders to her comfort level. She wanted to kiss him. But with her eyes closed, her mouth perched in a near purr after his hand began its path, she could neither see or sense him.

Kiss me, her body said. Her hand wrapped over his bicep, squeezing a little, as his hand dropped lower down her thigh, only grazing the inside near her knee before it pulled back up to her hip. Amanda wasn’t sure about his breathing, but she was so sure that her own was beginning to sound like panting. Not that he would mind that, she though playfully, and that idea made her open her eyes.

His bright blue eyes were moving over her face thru the dark lighting of her room, looking at her hair spread out on her pillow, and the lower lip that was caught painfully between her teeth. She’d once told him it was a nervous habit – did he remember that?

She gulped.

“What are you thinking?” she asked nervously, scooting her torso even closer, and maybe moving her hips just a little bit closer to his too. One of her feet moved up his ankle and settled her calf between his. It was intimate. It was nerve-wracking.

Josh shrugged, smiling in that way she loved so much that showed all his teeth. It wasn’t just his smile she loved. He had become the sole beneficiary to her romantic interest, and she could feel her mind and heart both falling in love with him.

“I was just thinking how much I love being here right now.” His left hand cradled the side of her face briefly and dropped down to her neck. It forced most of the silent breath of her lungs. “How much I like being able to just lay here with you without all the motives and drama outside.” Both their eyes flicked toward the ceiling, where her mom and step-dad lay side-by-side, grouchy and oblivious to any real concept of love between them. It was sad, really, but she could think of nothing else but him when he was connected to her by so many points of skin. Her tank top suddenly felt like nothing, her drawstring pajama pants like high-cut shorts that left nothing to the imagination.

“I love you,” she whispered, emboldened by his presence. His breath did that little stutter thing that made her think she might have done something right, and his eyes closed for a second. Feeling even more brave from his lack of response, she pulled herself up so that they were more face to face. After so many months, there was nothing that separated the two of them but a few wisps of air. Amanda brought a hand up to each side of his face and smoothed her thumbs across his cheekbones.

“Hey,” she said softly. When his eyes opened, she continued, “Believe me?”

He needed to see it, to see the love that shone in her eyes when he wasn’t even around. He needed to understand that she didn’t see him as he saw himself – as something undeserving of the things she wanted to give him – because when he was gone he needs to know without a drop of doubt that someone out there thought he was beautiful, funny, crazy, and loved him for all of it.

There was clear hesitation in his voice when he mumbled, “Sometimes…”

She shook her head.

“Please believe me.”

And with a breath that smelled entirely of him, she pushed forward and swept her lips up against his.