Smoke & Stars

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Dinner went well, you think. That’s not strange, though; Chloe’s mom is nice, and you get along well with most people. Still, you’re not afraid to admit you were a bit nervous. Good with people or not, this was your first official meet-the-parent dinner.

Chloe was surprised when you told her that. She’d figured you’d have met tons of parents, but you told her that you weren’t really the type of girl people brought home. She’d winked and said she’d bring you home any night.

(You’d laughed, but you wondered how serious she was.)

Joyce had been all too eager to meet you. It gave you the impression that Chloe didn’t bring friends home very often, and that made you feel special. Even more so because dinner had been Chloe’s idea in the first place.

But talking to parents was nerve-wracking. You knew you should just try to be yourself, but you also wanted to impress her. You think she could tell how anxious you were, because she gave you this smile every time Chloe wasn’t looking. It did help set you at ease, but mostly you credited Chloe’s fingers entwined with yours under the table for that.

Idly, you wonder if Joyce had noticed that as well. You don’t think she’d mention it if she did–not until you were gone, at least.

Beside you, Chloe offers you a drag of her cigarette. You take it from her and inhale, holding the smoke for a few seconds before letting it out into the night air. She reaches out to take it back, so you take another quick drag before handing it over. She’s silent for a long moment, and you watch her smoke fade into the stars.

Finally, without looking at you, she says, “I think she likes you.” A sense of relief washes over you, even though you’d inferred Joyce’s approval on your own. Hearing it from Chloe was just better somehow. But you give her an easy grin, like you weren’t worried at all.

“What, like that’s a surprise? Who doesn’t love me?” You prop your chin on the back of your fingers and bat your eyelashes. She rolls her eyes, but she’s smiling too, and you wish you could make that smile last forever.

“You’re so full of yourself,” she remarks, like she doesn’t expect you to be anything but.

The two of you fall into another comfortable silence. Normally, you’re not too fond of the quiet (and you know Chloe isn’t either) but with the roof rough under your palms and the few visible stars standing stark against the night sky and your best friend sprawled beside you, it doesn’t feel so oppressive. In fact, it almost feels good.

You lean over and snatch Chloe’s cigarette back to erase that almost.

You keep your eyes closed as you take a long drag, then another. When you open your eyes again, you’re starting to feel the effects of the nicotine, and Chloe’s pouting at you. You grin again, because she’s cute, and because your head feels lighter now.

She sticks her tongue out at you as you let her take the cigarette, and you wiggle your eyebrows in response. She shoves your shoulder playfully.

Then you’re leaning back and just breathing. You can feel part of her right arm brush against your left as she scoots a bit closer, and it makes your breath catch in your throat for just a split second. You almost hope she doesn’t notice. When you look over at her, she’s put the cigarette out and her arms are folded over her stomach. She’s staring at the sky, looking almost serene, which you think is strange for her. Your Chloe is always angry at the world. You think you want to see her like this more often.

She turns her gaze to meet yours, and there’s this look in her eyes when she realizes you were staring at her that you can’t quite place. And then you’re kissing her, and it’s not your first, but for that moment, with your hand in her blonde hair, you wish it was.

The kiss itself isn’t anything special (you can tell that it’s definitely her first) but you don’t care, because you’re kissing Chloe, and it’s not even in one of your ridiculously self-indulgent daydreams. And she’s kissing you back. Or maybe she initiated it, you honestly don’t know.

You bite her lip gently as you pull away, just to hear her breath hitch, and watch her eyes flutter open slowly. A grin spreads across your face just as a look of awe crosses hers.

“Wow,” she breathes, and you can’t help but feel proud of yourself for leaving Chloe Elizabeth Price speechless.

“Well,” you murmur, “at least I’ve already met your mom.” And maybe it’s a bit presumptuous of you, but she’s laughing as she touches her forehead to yours, so you don’t think it’s unfounded. Your fingers lace themselves together, and part of you wonders how far you can make it with her.

The rest of you is saying you can chase down forever with her around.

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