“Okay deal,” I agreed as I bumped him with my hip, making him lose his stride. I needed any advantage I could get when racing him. I ran as fast as I could. My legs were pumping so fast that I could barely even keep up with them. I didn’t risk losing my concentration to look over my shoulder and see where he was, so I just focused on the finish line and the victory that was just within reach….
Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, he breezed past me and crossed the line. It wasn’t even close; he must have beaten me by a good thirty feet.
I crossed the line too, but we didn’t stop running straight away, we just slowed down to a jog and ran a little longer, then slowed again to a walk. I was completely exhausted; I flopped down to the grass, lying on my back under the shade of a tree, gasping for breath. Suddenly, he flopped down on top of me, his whole body pressing me down into the cool hard ground making the grass tickle my exposed back. Surprisingly he wasn’t heavy so he must have been holding his weight off of me.
He laughed as I tried to push him off, but my body was spent and my muscles refused to cooperate. “I won,” he taunted, shaking his head like a dog and making sweat drip off onto me, plopping on my cheek.
“You always win! Maybe one day we’ll find a bet that isn’t so one sided. I am a girl in case you haven’t noticed, I have shorter legs!” I whined breathlessly.
“I’ve noticed,” he replied with a wicked grin. I pushed him playfully again but he just laughed and smirked at me. “So, about my prize….”
I groaned. “Okay fine. Who? Don’t make it a teacher or something though because I’m not doing that. And I really don’t want it to be a girl!” I grumbled, turning my nose up but giggling at the same time.
“Nope, I’ll make it easier for you than that,” he replied playfully.
I shut my eyes wondering why on earth I had done this in the first place. His bets never went well for me. “Okay, so who do I have to kiss?” I repeated.
I was cooling down now and was actually starting to feel the cold ground and the wind. I shivered and wrapped my arms around his waist, pulling him a little closer to use his body heat. Every inch of him pressed against me as his warmth seeped into me, his hot breath fanned across my face and I smiled as I recognised the sweet scent of strawberry flavoured candy, his favourite. He smiled and wiped the sweat off of my forehead.
Oh God, I must look so sexy right now all covered in sweat - but then again, this was Clay, he saw me like this every day. And I don’t mind his sweat; actually, it made him look hotter when he was all sweaty and breathing heavy. Wait, did I just think that about my best friend? I mentally slapped myself and looked at him expectantly. He was gazing at me with a weird expression. Crap, did he just know what I was thinking?
“Clay? Who do I have to kiss?” I repeated, wanting to change the subject in case he could actually read my mind and knew I just had a weird thought about him and not in a best friend way.
“A proper kiss, with tongues,” he clarified, biting his lip. I nodded and rolled my eyes. I remembered the stupid bet! “Me,” he whispered, bending his head down slowly.
I froze. What? Holy crap, he was going to kiss me! My best friend was going to kiss me! He was about an inch away from me; I could feel his breath across my lips. I was frozen, shocked that this was happening.
Suddenly he moved and grabbed my chin, turned my face to the side and sucked hard on my neck. I giggled at the feel of it; it always made me laugh when he did this. I raised my hands trying to push him off, but he just gripped my wrists and pinned them above my head, and carried on sucking on the same spot. After a couple of seconds he pulled back and looked at it, nodding with a satisfied expression on his face.
“What the hell was that for?” I asked, laughing again.
He looked really pleased with himself. “Just marking my territory,” he answered, kissing my forehead and climbing off of me, pulling me up. We started walking back and he threw his arm around my shoulder. “Are you cold?” he asked.
I nodded in response. “So, that was a joke?” I asked quietly. He didn’t really want me to kiss him, did he?
“Here.” He pulled off his T-shirt and wrapped it around my back to keep me a little warmer. I kept my face forward and tried, unsuccessfully, to keep my eyes off of his glorious body. He had sweat all over his well-muscled chest and I watched a bead of sweat made its way down his abs. Before I knew what I was doing, I reached out a finger and wiped it off, leaving my hand there for a second longer than needed.
Oops! What the hell was that? I gritted my teeth and looked up at him; he had the pained expression back again like outside the locker room.
I smiled weakly. “Sorry, you, er, had a bug on you,” I lied lamely.
“Well thanks for getting rid of it for me,” he said quietly before clearing his throat. “Wanna watch a movie tonight? Get a pizza?” he asked, thankfully changing the subject from the weird chest touching I’d just done.
I smiled at the thought. Heck yeah! I love movie night; I hadn’t had one in over a month. “Yeah, definitely. You bring the ice cream I’ll supply the popcorn,” I suggested, grinning. That was the usual deal.
“I have Paranormal Activity 3. I bought it yesterday.”
“You did? Why did you buy that? You hate ghost movies,” I replied, confused.
He shrugged. “I knew you wanted to see it.”
I sighed happily. I loved my best friend to pieces; he was so sweet and thoughtful all the time. “Hell yeah, as long as you don’t make fun of me if I jump or scream or anything,” I bargained, eyeing him suspiciously.
“Hey, when have I ever made fun of you for jumping at a scary movie?” he asked, faking hurt and squeezing my shoulder.
“Er, let me think! When we watched The Exorcist, or White Noise. Oh, what about the time we watched Shutter. You laughed at me for days about that!” I pouted.
He burst out laughing. “Oh yeah! God, that one was so funny. You should have seen your face. ‘Holy freaking shit, Clay! I’m so scared! Check the closet!’ that was hilarious,” he said, laughing his head off, doing a bad impression of my voice as he quoted my fright word for word. I slapped his bare chest harder than I thought, making a loud slapping noise. “Ouch, Riley Bear, that hurt,” he joked, rubbing his chest but still laughing.
“Oh poor baby, did a big bad girl hurt you?” I teased in a baby voice as I reached out and rubbed his chest where I’d slapped him. His skin felt so soft and warm under my hand that I didn’t want to pull it away. I was enjoying it way too much. I forced my hand away and bit my lip, wondering what on earth was wrong with me today. We were back at the lockers then; I smiled as I made my way to the girls locker room. “I’ll take this home and wash it for you,” I suggested, untying the knot at the back of his T-shirt I was wearing
I started to walk away but he grabbed my hand, making me turn to look at him. “The answer is no, Riley. I wasn’t joking.” He smirked at me and then turned and walked away, leaving me standing there confused.
He wasn’t joking about what? The movie? Not teasing me? I rolled my eyes and headed into the showers not bothering to worry about it, Clay was just too confusing sometimes.
“Hey, Riley, would you like to try out for cheerleader? We have an opening,” a pretty blond girl chirped as I finished getting dressed.
“Um, no thanks. I’m not really cheer material.” I smiled politely, shaking my head.
“Oh, well you know that cheerleaders get to date all the hottest guys. Clay’s on the football team. If you wanted to date him you’d need to be a cheerleader for him to even notice you,” she said a bit harshly.
I frowned at that statement. “I don’t need to be cheerleader for my best friend to notice me, trust me.”
“Best friend, yeah right. I saw the way you two act. You branded him for goodness sake and he didn’t even care. If one of us had done that he would have freaked,” she snapped, sneering at me.
I just shrugged. “That was just a joke; I knew it would make him laugh.” I pulled my hair back into a messy bun again.
Suddenly, she gasped. “What the heck is that?” she asked, pointing to my neck.
I looked over into the mirrors to see a big purple hicky on my neck. “Son of a bitch! This is going to take forever to go. I’m going to kill him,” I whined, touching it roughly, as if poking it would make it disappear.
“Did Clay give you that?” the girl asked with wide eyes. I scrunched my nose up and nodded. That ass was going to pay for this! I was going to wait until he was asleep, then jump on him tonight.
“Wow, I’ve never seen him brand anyone before,” the girl said quietly. “You must be an awesome screw,” she mused, looking at me with wide eyes.
I looked at her, shocked. “He’s my best friend! It was a joke that’s all; I’ve never slept with him.”
Well, that statement wasn’t strictly true, I’d slept with him plenty of times, but I’d never had sex with him. In fact, I’d never had sex with anyone. I’d never done more than kiss anyone really. The girl looked at me, a sceptical expression on her face; she clearly didn’t believe a word I’d said. Then she turned and stormed off, looking like she was close to tears. I frowned, having no clue what I had said wrong.
The rest of the day seemed to fly by. I had fun with Rachel during our other lesson together and we exchanged numbers. I asked her about the girl from gym and she said that apparently Jennifer dated Clay a few times - by that I took it that he’d slept with her a few times - and that she wanted to be with him, but he refused to be exclusive. I wasn’t surprised by that revelation at all, that was typical Clay, no commitments.
When I got home I told my mom and stepdad, Brian, that Clay was coming over tonight and that we were going to order pizza. They were fine with it as always. Clay practically lived at our house. He would stay over at our house every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. He always had done ever since we were little kids.