"The Superkiss" from Ryan’s POV
As I waited for Jamie to come back with lunch, I took one last sniff of myself. I was all zesty-fresh. After her comment about her heightened sense of smell I’d scrubbed every inch of me twice, had a heyday with the mouthwash, and splashed the tiniest molecule of cologne on. I’d probably be paranoid about how I smelled for the rest of my life now.
A minute later pepperoni, onions, and garlic overpowered the scent of Irish Spring. Jamie was back, and the pizza she set down in front of me looked and smelled like a work of art. Where in the world had she found this? Definitely not here. I would know if pizza like this existed anywhere even close to the Sacramento metro area.
“I’m telling you, best pizza in the country,” Jamie said, smiling proudly at my obvious excitement.
“This looks amazing! Where did you get this from?”
“This little town in Illinois.”
I blinked. Did she just say Illinois? “You mean that state clear on the East Coast?”
“Well, technically it’s the Midwest. Did you sleep through geography too?”
I was too stunned to care where the state of Illinois fell on a map. “Whatever. I just meant that it’s not exactly around the corner.”
I picked up a slice of pizza. I was almost afraid to eat it because the thought that it had been cooked a thousand miles away seemed to make it priceless. But it looked seriously good, so I got over the shock and just enjoyed the fact that dating Jamie Baker had some sweet perks.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the impossibility of Jamie as I ate slice after slice of her Illinois pizza. By my fourth piece I simply had to voice my amazement. “I can’t believe you just went all the way to Illinois.”
“It is kind of surreal sometimes when I think about what I can do.”
Kind of surreal? That’s an understatement if I’ve ever heard one. If only I could do the things she could.
“I wish I had powers too. How much fun would it be if I could just go tromping around the country on a whim and still be back in time for dinner? I’d be at Miami Beach all the time. Or New York.”
My mind drifted off into a hundred different possibilities—places I could go with Jamie if I had powers too. Things we could do together. And it was all be that much more exciting because it would be our little—okay huge—secret. I wonder if I could get my hands on a radioactive spider.
I was imagining us alone on a beach in Cabo by the time Jamie pulled me from my daydream.
“What?” I asked.
Her cheeks instantly went bright red. Could it be that she was mentally on that beach in Cabo with me? Before I could ask her what color her bikini was, she cleared her throat and said, “If I could take you anywhere with me, I’d take you to the Grand Canyon, not New York. Best sunsets on the planet.”
Not a beach in Cabo, but still. I’d take it. In fact, the Grand Canyon had never sounded so good to me. Romantic sunsets, a billion stars in the sky, me, Jamie, and not another soul around for miles and miles… Hey, she could even still wear the bikini if she wanted. I wouldn’t discourage her.
“We’ll plan a trip sometime.” I was already hashing out the details in my brain. “You’ll just have to go by plane like us mere mortals.”
She groaned, and I laughed. I knew she’d appreciate that one. “Like you mortals?” she said. “Oh, please! Shut up and eat that last piece.”
I have to tease her about the superpower thing as much as possible because to her being different the way she is feels like the end of the world. But it’s not really. If I had a truckload of toxic waste to douse myself in, I’d juice myself with some power lines in a heartbeat just to prove it to her.
“Can I ask you a question?” I blurted suddenly.
There was one thing that had always bothered me about Jamie’s story, and every time I considered finding a vat of toxic waste to bathe in I felt desperate to ask it. Apparently now was the time.
“But you have to promise not to freak out.” This conversation was sure to upset her, but it was too late now.
“Okay,” she said slowly.
I kicked myself. I’d already put her on edge and I hadn’t even asked the question yet. “I was just wondering…” Suddenly I wasn’t sure I could ask.
“Well, I was just thinking about how you got your powers.”
I gulped. How exactly is the best way to bring up the subject of her dead boyfriend? “I was just wondering why… Derek”—it was hard to say the guy’s name—“didn’t end up like you.”
My stomach turned to knots as I watched the blood drain from Jamie’s face. “I don’t mean to pry,” I said gently. “It’s just that, well, if it was the waste from the truck combined with the electricity that gave you your powers, then shouldn’t Derek have gotten them too, instead of… you know…”
My voice trailed off. I hated bringing up such a painful memory. The last thing I ever wanted to do was hurt her, but it just didn’t make any sense, and if we really wanted to get to the truth behind her powers, then I needed to know.
Jamie looked terrified, but she’s tough and I knew she could handle it so I waited expectantly and was eventually rewarded.
“Derek wasn’t in the car when the truck hit me. He wasn’t sprayed with the chemicals, just electrocuted.”
I guess it made sense why he didn’t get powers then, but I was still confused. “What was he doing if he wasn’t in the car with you? Where was he?”
“We were coming back from this place we liked to go to sometimes. An old bridge over a big irrigation canal hidden in the middle of a cornfield.”
My thoughts came to an abrupt stop. I felt like I’d just taken a baseball bat to the gut. She’d been out in the middle of a cornfield with the guy? Alone?
“It’s a nice quiet place for stargazing.”
I’ll bet it was. And I’ll bet this Derek guy was paying really close attention to all those stars.
She said something else then. Something about beating him back to the car, but I was having a hard time paying attention because another thought had now occurred to me. Exactly how far had she gone with her last boyfriend?
I’d always assumed Jamie was somewhere on the pure side of the scale—not, you know, as white as snow or anything considering how she’d straddled my lap and kissed me senseless in front of the entire school—but she was shy enough with me that I doubted she’d been much further than a good makeout session.
Jealousy is a rare feeling for me. I was caught off guard by the severity of it, and I really didn’t like it. It seemed stupid to be jealous of a dead guy, but Jamie was really, really broken up over him, and if she’d been sneaking off to cornfields with him...
Had Jamie actually loved Derek? Had she given herself to him? If so, that sucked. It was bad enough having to compete with a ghost, but if their connection had been that deep, then she was a lot more hurt than I realized, and all my attempts to push her into a relationship with me were probably only making things worse.
For a moment I felt completely sick to my stomach. What if she couldn’t get past him? What if there was no way to win her heart? What if her heart was too broken?
I was working up the courage to ask her if she’d loved Derek when she broke the silence. “Can I ask you a question?”
I was surprised by the request, and so relieved to be stopped from asking what was probably the stupidest question I could ask that I nodded happily. “Sure, anything.”
“What’s the story with you and Becky? Why haven’t you guys ever gone out?”
I was completely blindsided by the question. Weren’t we just talking about the death of her first lover? How in the world did Becky get into this conversation?
“Um…” I was so startled that it took me a second to even remember what she’d asked me. “Well, actually we did for a while. Kind of. If sixth grade counts.”
Suddenly I was transported back to the sixth grade and Becky’s twelfth birthday. My parents were having the mother of all fights, so I snuck out and crashed her sleepover. Her friends had forced us into a closet saying I needed to give her a birthday present before I could leave. I smiled at the memory. “She was my first kiss.”
Jamie’s quiet “Oh” brought me back to the present, and, a little too late, I put all the pieces together. “You’re not worried about Becky, are you?” I asked.
Maybe Jamie wasn’t as hung up on her last boyfriend as I’d thought, because she looked disappointed by the idea of me being interested in Becky. That frown was seriously the best thing that had happened all day. As long as there was even a tiny spark of interest from Jamie, that was all I needed. She’d just given me the opening I’d been waiting for.
“There’s nothing like that going on between us anymore,” I said. “There hasn’t been for years and years. I promise you, Jamie, you have nothing to worry about.”
Jamie made a face I couldn’t decipher.
“That’s exactly what worries me though, Ryan—the fact that there’s nothing going on. Becky is so pretty, and aside from how she feels about me, she seems really nice. You obviously care a great deal for her. She could be the perfect girlfriend for you. That’s something I could never be. You deserve the things she could give you, all the things I can’t.”
So that was her game plan this time? Pull the we-can’t-kiss card and point me in the direction of another girl? Did she really think she’d be able to get rid of me so easily?
Nice try, Jamie Baker, but I don’t think so.
I was about to laugh at her but then I noticed tears in her eyes. Apparently this wasn’t another of her measly attempts to scare me off. She was serious!
I was simultaneously horrified that she thought I’d be better off with Becky than her, and thrilled that she liked me enough to be upset because she thought she didn’t deserve me.
Suddenly desperate to make Jamie understand exactly how much I wanted her, I leapt out of my seat and pulled her into my arms. “But she can’t be you,” I promised. “Don’t you understand that you’re the one I want? You. Not Becky or Paige or any other girl that may or may not be able to make out with me. Just you.”
I was so serious that I nearly shouted it at her. I had to make her understand. Ever since the day she’d kissed me there was no other girl. What girl at Rocklin High could compare to her?
I’m not just talking about her superpowers either. Jamie didn’t play games the way girls like Paige did. She didn’t care what anyone thought about her. She wasn’t stupid, and she challenged me like no one else ever has.
Jamie was the most amazing person I’d ever known. And since she’d raised the bar to impossibly high standards, she was just going to have to buck up and be mine. I wasn’t going to take no for an answer.
“No,” she whispered as if she’d read my thoughts. “You shouldn’t want me, Ryan.”
Jamie pulled herself out of my grasp and took off around the porch to the front of the house. But she was moving at a regular human pace. If she wasn’t going to disappear at superspeed, then I wasn’t going to let her go. I caught her by the wrist just before she made it to the front porch steps and tugged her down onto the swing with me.
“Oh, no you don’t,” I said. “You are not running away from me this time.”
“No!” I said and trapped her in my arms.
She strained against my grip, but the girl had superstrength and speed. Not to mention she could zap me silly. If she really wanted to go, she could have.
“If you don’t want to be with me because you’re not ready for another relationship or you don’t like me that way, then that’s fine,” I said. “I can respect that. I could even deal with the excuse that you’re just too scared. That’s a lame excuse, but it’s one I could live with. What I can’t live with is you playing the martyr because you don’t think you’re good enough for me, understand?”
Jamie didn’t respond, but she stopped fighting me. I waited until I was sure she wasn’t going to bail and then let her go. Her whole body sagged like she just given up some big internal fight. I took that as an okay to pull her against me. Surprisingly, she sank into my side and let me hold her.
I let out a breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding. I think I even sighed a little. There is nothing like the feeling of having Jamie in my arms, and she doesn’t let me keep her there nearly often enough.
Taking advantage of this miraculous opportunity, I kissed the side of her head and slipped my arm low around her waist. For the briefest moment my fingers brushed her skin along the hem of her shirt. It was enough to make my brain stop processing logical thought. My other hand quickly found her stomach. The simple touch made me shiver.
“Ryan,” Jamie said with a sigh. It was a warning. Jamie never used to let me get within a foot of her, but she’d slowly been giving in an inch at a time until once or twice I’ve actually been allowed to make physical contact. She always ends it too quickly though.
“Shh,” I said, cutting her off before she found an excuse to put some distance between us. “We’re just going to sit here for a minute.”
I took my fingers off her skin and had to lace them together to keep them from roaming. If they did, Jamie would kill me. Literally. And quite possibly on purpose.
I hated that I could hardly ever touch her, but I knew she kept me at a distance because she was scared of hurting me. I was grateful that she was at least trying to learn to control her power. Being patient was near impossible, though, so I had to remind myself that she’d never lasted this long before.
It’s a rare instance when Jamie really, truly lets her guard down, but it’s those moments that keep me fighting for her. She’s like chasing a dream, something magical and impossible, but when she lets me touch her I’m reminded that she’s real.
Her vulnerable side makes her seem more human. She becomes someone I can relate to, someone I can protect. She becomes someone I could see myself falling for, and the scariest part about that is that that doesn’t scare me.
After another minute Jamie relaxed again. I unlocked my hands and started trailing my fingers lightly up and down her arms. I knew this could flip her dreaded ice queen switch, but I was unable to help myself.
Jamie’s skin has this unique quality of feeling alive. When she’s upset you have to watch out because touching her is going to bite you, but when she’s relaxed? I can’t fully express how amazing it feels to touch her.
Her skin warms to the touch and feels tingly. Something about her energy literally draws you closer, like a magnetic pull. It causes an almost uncontrollable craving.
My hand moved to the narrow strip of her stomach exposed between her shirt and jeans, and she gasped. It was a good gasp. It was a this-feels-incredible gasp. It pushed my control over the edge. I needed more of her. Now.
Her response was breathless. “Hmm?”
“No,” she whispered even though her body shuddered with desire. She wanted this as much as I did. I was sure of it.
“You’re ready,” I said, bringing my face down to her neck. “If you can handle this, then you can handle just one kiss.” I nudged her jaw up a little, brought my lips to her ear, and whispered a desperate, “Please?”
She didn’t say anything, but she wasn’t freaking out yet either.
I moved more slowly than I ever had in my life, giving her all the time in the world to stop me, but she wasn’t going to.
My heart was hammering. I’d wanted this for so long. I couldn’t believe I was finally going to get it. I held my breath as I lowered my lips on to hers.
When we touched something inside her cracked. Her resistance shattered. It was like our first kiss only so much more. She fell into the kiss as if propelled by an invisible force.
It was sensory overload. I could feel and taste her unbridled heat and desire. It worked with my own need to create an explosion of passion that I thought only existed in cheesy girl novels.
But then on top of that there was the magical electricity that was uniquely Jamie. It washed over me like a tidal wave of energy that brought me to life in a way I’d never felt before.
Jamie noticed my hair standing on end and started to pull away, but I was so not going to let a little static end this kiss. “No,” I said, gripping her tighter to me. “No, it’s okay.”
To prove my point I crashed my lips down on hers again with everything I had in me. This kiss had been a long time coming and I was going to make sure she’d remember it for the rest of her life.
My senses heightened. I could hear things more clearly, taste and smell things I couldn’t before, and most of all I could feel everything like it was being blasted at me with hurricane force.
After I don’t even know how long my body was filled to the brim with energy. I began to shake and felt Jamie panic in response. She pressed her hands to my chest, but, unfortunately, it wasn’t to feel me up. She pushed me back, trying to break our connection, but she wasn’t thinking clearly and accidentally sent be flying.
As I flew through the air I was on such a high that I felt as if the world around me was moving in slow motion. My senses were still in overdrive and the pain of the impact when I hit the ground was so intense I couldn’t breathe. Whatever. Small price to pay for that experience.
Seriously, Jamie Baker = Best. Kisser. Ever.
I sat up slowly sure that something was broken. I should have been dead, or at least hurt. Jamie had thrown me so far I swear I was half way to the highway, but, miraculously, I was fine—just a little stiff.
Then my eyes fell on Jamie and I wondered if I didn’t have a concussion because I was seeing things. She looked like she’d stepped straight out of an X-men comic. She was standing on the front steps of the cabin looking like the ice queen version of Storm. Her hair was whipping all around her like she was standing in a tornado, except there wasn’t any wind, and her eyes were glowing. It was the first time I ever looked at her and truly saw her as a superhero.
She looked dangerous and powerful and so freaking hot, but she also looked seriously freaked out. Something was very wrong. Her entire body started shaking like it was trying to explode.
When I screamed her body jolted and then lightning came shooting out from her hands. I ducked and could feel the heat of the electricity pass over my head. I don’t even want to know how close it came to blasting me into oblivion. Especially when I heard it crash into a tree behind me with an explosion so loud it rattled my insides.
I shouted Jamie’s name again, scared that she was hurt, but not only was she just fine, she was screaming like I was the one in danger.
I looked up where she was pointing just in time to see death coming at me at full speed. A huge pine tree was falling and there was no way I cold move in time to get out of the way.
My hands came up instinctively, but before I had time to assume crash position, and cover my head, I was actually holding the two-foot think trunk in my hands. I’d caught the tree! I was holding a freaking tree above my head! Granted it probably wasn’t as heavy as my truck, but no way could a regular human do what I was doing at the moment.
Jamie and I stared at one another for a moment, equally stunned, but then I felt my lips spreading in idiotic proportions on my face. I didn’t know why or how, but I definitely had superstrength!
Say it with me: AWESOME!
Testing the theory I flexed my arms and gave the tree a little push. Much like Jamie had just flung me, I tossed the tree half a football field into the forest.
I smiled at Jamie again and then laughed. “That was freaking awesome!”
I started to get up slowly testing the muscles and joints that still felt stiff, but before I got all the way to my feet Jamie collapsed and I forgot all about any possible injuries I might have.
I ran to her and just as I went to scoop her up her eyes fluttered open and the blood drained from her face. “”No! Wait!” she screamed, but it was too late.
I now knew how Timmy felt in Jurassic Park when the T-Rex’s fence turned back on with him still on it. I imagine it’s a lot like a TV dinner feels like—completely cooked from the inside out. FYI? I sucks. A lot.
I was pretty sure the shock was going to kill me. And just when I’d joined the ranks of superheroes! That sucks. But as I blacked out, there was only one thing I thought about. Kissing Jamie Baker? So worth it!