I’ve been waiting patiently for Six’s flaws to stand out, but so far I can’t find any. Granted, we’ve only interacted with each other for a collective three or four hours now, so hers may just be buried deeper than other people’s.

“So you’re a middle child?” she asks. “Do you suffer from middle-child syndrome?”

I shake my head. “Probably about as much as you suffer from fifth-child syndrome. Besides, Hannah is four years older than me and Chunk is five years younger, so we have a nice spread.”

She chokes on her drink with her laugh. “Chunk? You call your little sister Chunk?”

“We all call her Chunk. She was a fat baby.”

She laughs. “You have nicknames for everyone,” she says. “You call Sky Cheese Tits. You call Holder Hopeless. What do you call me when I’m not around?”

“If I give people nicknames, I do it to their faces,” I point out. “And I haven’t figured yours out yet.” I lean back in my seat and wonder myself why I haven’t given her one yet. The nicknames I give people are usually pretty instant.

“Is it a bad thing you haven’t nicknamed me yet?”

I shrug. “Not really. I’m just still trying to figure you out is all. You’re kind of contradictory.”

She arches an eyebrow. “I’m contradictory? In what ways?”

“All of them. You’re cute as hell, but you don’t give a shit what you look like. You look sweet, but I have a feeling you’re just the right mix of good and evil. You seem really easygoing, like you aren’t the type to play games with guys, but you’re kind of a flirt. And I’m not judging at all by this next observation, but I’m aware of your reputation, yet you don’t seem like the type who needs a guy’s attention to stroke your self-esteem.”

Her expression is tight as she takes in everything I’ve just said. She reaches to her glass and takes a sip without breaking her stare. She finishes her drink, but holds the glass against her lips while she thinks. She eventually lowers it back to the table and looks down at her plate, picking up her fork.

“I’m not like that anymore,” she says softly, avoiding my gaze.

“Like what?” I hate the sadness in her voice now. Why do I always say stupid shit?

“I’m not how I used to be.”

Way to go, Daniel. Dumbass.

“Well, I didn’t know you back then, so all I can do is judge the girl sitting in front of me right now. And so far, she’s been a pretty damn cool date.”

The smile spreads back to her lips. “That’s good,” she says, looking back up at me. “I wasn’t sure what type of date I’d be, considering this is the first one I’ve ever been on.”

I laugh. “No need to stroke my ego,” I say. “I can handle the fact that I’m not the first guy to ever express an interest in you.”

“I’m serious,” she says. “I’ve never been on a real date before. Guys tend to skip this whole part with me so they can just get to what they really want me for.”

My smile disappears. I can tell by the look on her face she’s being completely serious. I lean forward and look her hard in the eyes. “Those guys were all fucktards.”

She laughs, but I don’t.

“I’m serious, Six. Those guys all need a good kick to the clit, because dinner-talk is by far the best part of you.”

When the sentence leaves my mouth, the smile leaves her face. She looks at me like no one’s ever given her a genuine compliment before. It pisses me off.

“How do you know this is the best part of me?” she asks, somehow finding that teasing, flirtatious tone in her voice again. “You haven’t had the pleasure of kissing me yet. I’m pretty sure that’s the best part of me, because I’m a phenomenal kisser.”

Jesus Christ. I don’t know if that was an invitation, but I want to send her my RSVP right this second. “I have no doubt being kissed by you would be fantastic, but if I had to choose, I’d take dinner-talk over a kiss any day.”

She narrows her eyes. “I call bullshit,” she says with a challenging glare. “There’s no way any guy would pick dinner-talk over a good make-out session.”

I attempt to return her challenging look, but she makes a good point.

“Okay,” I admit. “Maybe you’re right. But if I had my way, I’d pick kissing you during dinner-talk. Get the best of both worlds.”

She nods her head, impressed. “You’re good,” she says, leaning back in her seat. She folds her arms over her chest. “Where’d you learn those smooth moves?”

I wipe my mouth with my napkin, then set it on top of my plate. I lift my elbows until they’re resting on the back of the booth and I smile at her. “I don’t have smooth moves. I’m just charismatic . . . remember?”

Her mouth curls up into a grin and she shakes her head like she knows she’s in trouble. Her eyes are smiling at me and I realize I’ve never felt like this before with any other girl. Not that I have it in my head that we’re about to fall in love or we’re soulmates or some shit like that. I’ve just never been around a girl where being myself was actually a good thing. With Val, I was always trying my hardest not to piss her off. With past girlfriends, I always found myself holding back from all the shit I really wanted to say. I’ve always felt like being myself with a girl wasn’t necessarily a good thing because I’ll be the first to admit, I can be a little over the top.

It’s different with Six, though. Not only does she get my sense of humor and my personality, but I feel like she encourages it. I feel like the real me is what she likes the most and every time she laughs or smiles at the perfect moment, I want to fist bump her.

“You’re staring at me,” she says, breaking me out of my thoughts.

“So I am,” I say, not bothering to look away.

She stares right back at me but her demeanor and expression grow competitive as she narrows her eyes and leans forward. She’s silently challenging me to a staring contest.

“No blinking,” she says, confirming my thoughts.

“Or laughing,” I say.

And it’s on. We silently stare at each other for so long, my eyes begin to water and my grip tightens on the table. I try my hardest to keep my eyes locked on hers but they want to stare at every inch of her. I want to stare at her mouth and those full, pink lips and that soft, silky blonde hair. Not to mention her smile. I could stare at her smile all day.

In fact, I’m staring at it right now so I’m pretty sure that means I just lost the staring contest.

“I win,” she says, right before she takes another drink of her water.

“I want to kiss you,” I say bluntly. I’m a little shocked I said it, but not really. I’m pretty impatient and I really want to kiss her and I usually say whatever I’m thinking, so . . .

“Right now?” she asks, looking at me like I’m insane. She sets her glass back down on the table.

I nod. “Yep. Right now. I want to kiss you over dinner-talk so I can have the best of both worlds.”

“But I just ate onions,” she says.

“So did I.”

She’s working her jaw back and forth, actually contemplating an answer. “Okay,” she says with a shrug. “Why not?”

As soon as she gives me permission, I glance down at the table between us, wondering what the best way to do this would be. I could go sit with her on her side of the booth, but that might be invading her personal space too much. I reach in front of me and push my glass out of the way, then scoot hers to the left.

“Come here,” I say, placing my hands on top of the table as I lean toward her. She must have thought I was kidding by the way her eyes dart nervously around us, taking in the fact that we’re about to experience our first kiss in public.

“Daniel, this is awkward,” she says. “Do you really want our first kiss to be in the middle of a restaurant?”

I nod. “So what if it’s awkward? We’ll have a do-over later. People put way too much stock in first kisses, anyway.”

She tentatively places her palms facedown on the table, then pushes herself up and slowly leans in toward me. “Okay, then,” she says, following her words up with a sigh. “But it would be so much better if you wait until the end of our date when you walk me to my front door and it’ll be dark and we could be really nervous and you could accidentally touch my boob. That’s how first kisses are supposed to be.”

I laugh at her comment. We still aren’t close enough for me to kiss her yet, but we’re getting there. I lean forward a little more, but her eyes leave mine and focus on the table behind me.

“Daniel, there’s a woman in the booth behind you changing her baby’s diaper on the table. You’re about to kiss me and the last thing I’ll see before your lips touch mine is a woman wiping her infant’s ass.”

“Six. Look at me.” She brings her eyes back to mine and we’re finally close enough that I could reach her mouth. “Ignore the diaper,” I command. “And ignore the two men in the booth to our left who are swigging their beer and watching us like I’m about to bend you over this table.”

Her eyes dart to the left, so I catch her chin in my hand and force her attention back to me. “Ignore it all. I want to kiss you and I want you to want me to kiss you and I don’t really feel like waiting until I walk you to your porch tonight because I’ve never really wanted to kiss someone this much before.”

Her eyes drop to my mouth and I watch as everything around us disappears from her field of vision. Her tongue slips out of her mouth and glides nervously across her lips before it disappears again. I slide my hand from her chin to the nape of her neck and I pull her forward until our lips meet.

And holy shit, do they meet. Our mouths meld together like they used to be in love and they’re just now seeing each other for the first time in years. My stomach feels like it’s in the middle of a damn rave and my brain is trying to remember how to do this. It’s like I suddenly forgot how to kiss, even though it’s only been a day since I broke up with Val. I’m pretty sure I kissed Val yesterday, but for some reason my brain is acting like this is all new and it’s telling me I should be parting my lips or teasing her tongue, but the signals just aren’t making it to my mouth yet. Or my mouth is just ignoring me because it’s been paralyzed by the soft warmth pressed against it.

I don’t know what it is, but I’ve never held a girl’s lips between mine for this long without breathing or moving or taking the kiss as far as I can possibly take it.

I inhale, even though I haven’t taken a breath in almost a minute. I loosen my grip on the back of Six’s head and begin to slowly pull my lips from hers. I open my eyes and hers are still closed. Her lips haven’t moved and she’s taking in shallow, quiet breaths as I remain poised close to her face, watching her.

I don’t know if she expected more of a kiss. I don’t know if she’s ever had a peck last more than a minute before. I don’t know what she’s thinking, but I love the look on her face.

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