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His name was Blake…

‘Blake’, it just seemed to fit him for some reason…

I don’t know why.

It’s insane how one cute boy can suddenly make you so crazy that a girl can find herself putting her own reflection in the mirror through such scrutiny. Something about his untouchable beauty just makes everything about me just look and feel so wrong! You know? My hair, my lip gloss, the miniature amount of make up that my mom will allow me to wear…ugh, even my boobs feel like they’re off center today…not that they were all that big to begin with. Way too small to get a sexy boy like Blake to ever notice me the way that I would really want him to. It’s not like I’m one of those girls that gets intimidated by boys who are starting high school and seem, like…they’re on a whole other level or something. He’s a year and a half older than me. So what? That doesn’t mean that he’s totally out of reach, right? I mean…he’s SO nice to me whenever he comes over to visit my brother, Connor. Like…not just in a, ‘Oh, you’re my best friend’s baby sister’ kind of way…but nice like…like…

…More. You know?

Sighhh….he’s soooooo cute! It’s hard for me to make any sense out of how cute he is.

I really do think that he likes me, though. I think he’s just scared to say anything because stupid Connor is always in the way of us sharing a few affectionate moments together. That’s all. I know that I’m only twelve, and I can’t WAIT to get these stupid braces off of my teeth so I can smile at him without worrying about whether or not I’m going to blind him with the chainsaw level of heavy metal in my freakin’ mouth…but if he would just give me a chance, I could make Blake soooo friggin’ happy! Omigod! We’d be so perfect together! I just know we would.

I think I’m in love. Like…seriously in LOVE! And I don’t even know how to handle it. It almost hurts, but…I don’t want it to stop hurting. Does that make sense? This is so weird, I swear.

My besties, Amy and Chelsea, came over super early this bright Saturday morning because they both knew that this was my special day, and they wanted to be there to witness it. This was my big chance to finally talk to Blake, one on one, and maybe get him to be…like…I dunno…

…My boyfriend, I guess?

Hehehe, omigod! I get so many CHILLS inside when I even think about that! Like…being able to kiss him and stuff. Hehehe, it’s hard to keep from trembling when the thought crosses my mind. But, more than that, I just want to finally make a real effort to just get him to notice how much I like him today. I doubt that I’m ever going to get a better chance than my brother’s big 14th birthday party at Cheesy Pete’s. I mean, he invited a lot of people, but since our mom and dad are paying for everything, they pretty much have to be there too. And there was no way that Connor was going to get out of inviting me and my friends to the festivities. So he can roll his eyes all he wants, it’s not going to stop us from showing up. And it’s not going to stop me from flirting with his best friend either. So while all eyes are on Connor and people are showering him with vast amounts of attention from every corner of the party…I’ll be looking for my golden opportunity to get Blake alone and maybe give him some much needed attention of my own. I just hope that everything goes as well as I’m expecting it to.

“He’s so fucking HOT!!!” Chelsea squealed, sharing the bathroom mirror with me as we tried to get ourselves together. “He’s so blond, and so sweet, and he has the BEST ass that I’ve ever seen on a boy! I swear, Blake makes me super moist whenever he’s around!”

Amy was like, “Put a lid on that shit! You know that he’s Karen’s boy, first and foremost. She called dibbs months ago.”

“THANK YOU!” I answered. “Don’t you bitches ruin my big day! Hehehe! I want to get closer to him and just…I want him to know how much I am SO in love with him! You know???”

“Good luck with that.” Chelsea was trying to highlight her lashes when she said it, but I could swear that she was deliberately trying to discourage me from telling Blake how I really felt about him just so she could slide in and take him all for herself. I totally hate when she tries to pull shit like that. She’s still one of my best friends, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t recognize the heartless opportunist in her sometimes.

“All I know is…once you get him to be all yours, you’d better let us hang out with you guys.” Amy grinned. “Just so we can stare at him in awe from time to time and just…bask in his golden blond sunlight for a little while. That’ll be enough for me. Totally.”

“Not me.” Chelsea smirked. “I want a hug or something every now and then. Just so I can know what it’s like to hold a hot boy bod like that against me for a little while. It must be magic.”

The three of us giggled to ourselves, but I felt my breath get caught in my throat when I suddenly heard the doorbell ring. “OMIGOD!!! Is he here? I think Blake’s here!”

Both Chelsea and Amy told me to hurry up and go see him, all while focusing intensely on finishing up with their make up and teasing their hair, hoping to look just as good for him as I did. Maybe even better. God, I’m going to HATE them if they end up looking better.

No…no wait…

I’m not going to get all insecure and weird about this. I’ve got a decent amount of self control. I can do this. It’s not like I’m going to burst out with some kind of awkward love confession the second I open the door. This kind of thing takes time. Expertise. I’m going to finesse him a little bit first. A couple of smiles to start, then maybe a few compliments or hints throughout the morning. And then…once I get a chance to emotionally detach him from my stupid brother and get him alone? I’ll ask him if he wants to talk for a bit. Just him and me. And then…?

Hehehe, I’ll work my way towards finally telling him everything that I’ve always wanted him to know. About how much I feel all queasy and slippery inside whenever he smiles at me. Or, like…how hearing his voice, or seeing him look me directly in the eye with that chocolate brown gaze of his makes me want to faint. I want to tell him how awesome it was to have him sleepover at our house a few times, or to look across the dinner table and see his sweet lips consuming a hot slice of pizza with us. Hell, I might even tell him how I felt dizzy for a whole week just because he accepted my friend request on Facebook. I just…I want him to KNOW, you know? He’s been so special to me for so long…I can’t imagine being head over heels in love with anyone else at this point.

I hurried towards the front door, opened it up, and….wow. Omigod! There he was. Blake was standing right there in front of me, his natural sugary scent of vanilla and honey being blown into my house from an early Spring wind. He was so…so…wow. He was even hotter than normal today. And it’s not like he ‘dressed up’ really special or anything. He just looked radiant in whatever casual attire he decided to throw on that day. Actually, I take that back. Blake was too damn pretty to ever look casual. I don’t think he could downplay his sex appeal if he tried. God, why is he so damn HOT???

I nearly melted into a helpless puddle of giggles when he first smiled at me. “Hey, Karen.” He said. Oh God…I’m literally SHAKING right now!

“Hey…hi…ummm…hi…” I said, my voice trembling in his presence. “S’up, Blake…?” I think it came out as a whisper, but I could hardly focus long enough to truly gauge the sound of my own voice.

He was holding this small gift for my brother in his hand. Blue and yellow wrapping. Connor’s favorite colors. With a big red bow on the top of it. “I know I’m a little bit early, but I thought it would be cool to hang out for a little bit before we headed out.” He said.

“Uh huh…” I gasped dreamily. “…Oh, I mean…come in. Yeah. That’s…that’s cool.”

And Blake smiled at me…AGAIN! Did you see that? Omigod, he’s so sweet!

“Thanks!” He said, and stepped inside. But before I could say much of anything to him, or even get my thoughts together fully, my stupid brother, Connor, came rushing into the room to steal Blake’s interest away from me. Like…completely! What the HELL, man???

“DUDE! S’up?” Connor said, and they shared one of their usual ‘one handed bro hugs’ with a smile before Blake showed him the package he brought with him. “What’s this?”

“You didn’t think I was going to come to your birthday party empty handed, did you?” Blake grinned.

“What the…? You didn’t have to get me anything for my birthday, dude. That’s totally uneccessary.” Connor told him.

“I know, but…I kinda wanted to. I thought it might be cool to do a little something extra this year.” Awww, see what I mean? Blake is, like, the Superman of sweet boys!!! How cool is he right now?

“Hehehe, well…thanks, I guess.” Connor said, a slight blush in his cheeks. And their eyes connected for a brief moment before Connor remembered that I was standing right there watching. His smile faded a bit, and he immediately started pushing Blake towards his bedroom to keep me out of their little friendship moment. “C’mon. I’ll open it in my room. Let’s go!” They both got so excited all of a sudden, but me? I was left having to watch my sweetheart disappear into another part of the house where I wasn’t allowed. Connor has always violently defended his private space when it came to his baby sister coming into his room. Trust me when I say that I’ve learned my lesson whenever it came to knocking on that bedroom door. It’s so not worth the emotional, and sometimes physical, abuse that comes from Connor keeping me away from his cherished sanctuary. Even MOM knows to keep out of there unless it’s an emergency of some sort. Or…you know…laundry day.

But I noticed Blake turning his head slightly to look back at me as he was being dragged away. He gave me a little wave and a smile, and that seemed to strengthen me right away. He LIKES me! Look at how he takes the time to wave at me as they go off to be by themselves! That’s a clear sign that something else is going on there. I can just tell.

I slowed down my pace as I walked past Connor’s room, hoping that I could just maybe catch a bit of their conversation. I wonder if Blake ever talks about me. And what does Connor tell him if he does? He probably teases him or something. He’s such an ASS! I perked my ears up, but I didn’t hear anything coming from the other side of that door. It might as well have been one of the four foot thick walls at Fort Knox as far as my biggest crush ever was concerned. Maybe it’s too early for me to start making moves just yet. I should wait until the party. Which works for me, seeing as I’ll finally get a chance to straighten my thoughts out and figure out exactly what I want to say to him. Not that all of those well thought out plans aren’t going to run and hide in the back of my mind the second Blake gets close enough for me to reach out and touch him with my bare hand.

Suddenly, my bedroom door down the hall swings open, and Amy and Chelsea come charging out, looking like they’re getting ready to go to a nightclub or something. “Was it him? Where is he?” Chelsea asked out loud.

I tried to shut them up by putting my fingers up to my lips, but they were already skipping down the hallway like a couple of K-Pop fans on a severe sugar high. Amy was like, “What? What’s going on? Omigod, are they in there right now?”

“SHHHHH!!! You guys…!!!” I whispered loudly, but a second later, my brother snatched his bedroom door open and glared at us with the most annoyed look ever created.

“What are you doing?” He snarled.

“Nothing. We were just going to the kitchen. That’s all.” I said, hoping that he wouldn’t take this opportunity to truly humiliate me in front of Blake.

Both of my friends looked over Connor’s should to see Blake sitting on the foot of my brother’s bed, and they smiled and waved at him, ignoring Connor completely. “Hi, Blake!” They said. Ugh! They’re not really helping me to make this look ‘casual’, you know?

Connor rolled his eyes, and looked over his shoulder to call out to Blake. “C’mon, dude. Don’t mind them. They’re just being weird. Let’s get those sodas.” Blake stood up and as he started approaching the doorway, I felt my stomach fluttering again. He’s so pretty.

He seemed to be blushing a little bit again, and he smiled at us, having to practically squeeze his way past us in the hallway. “Excuse me, you guys…” He said softly. Omigod, I think all three of us sighed in unison when we heard him speak. His voice, like…lulls you into a hypnotic trance sometimes, you know? It’s like…verbal romance. It just hits you in the feels, especially when he says anything with a smile.

Why can’t my brother be as nice as Blake is? How are they even friends? Seriously.

They were walking towards the kitchen, and I could feel Chelsea and Amy giving me a series of excited pushes to get me to follow them. I felt my feet stepping forward, but I would much rather have been running away in the other direction. I could have the biggest crush in the whole WORLD on Blake…but the truth of the matter is…that boy just downright TERRIFIES me in more ways than I’d ever want to admit! Geez!

We entered the kitchen, and Connor opened up the fridge to grab two root beer bottles from the bottom shelf. Ice cold. He grabbed one for himself and gave the other one to Blake, causing him to say, “Oh man, your mom buys the glass bottles? That’s awesome.”

“I know, right?” Connor said, pulling open a drawer to get a bottle opener and pop the caps off of both of them. “I love drinking root beer out of an ice cold bottle. Something about it just makes it taste so much better.”

“Agreed.” Blake smiled.

With me, Amy, and Chelsea, practically stalking them silently from the corner of the kitchen, I tried to somehow involve myself in the conversation. “Yeah. I think so too. It’s kind of cool, drinking it like that. It’s the best.” Blake gave me a grin, and I had to hold my breath to keep from whimpering out loud.

“Too bad, Squirt.” Connor smirked. “You’ll have to wait until Mom goes back to the store to grab some more. These are the last two.”

“Wha…? You drank them all???” I said.

“No. I had two of them, and then you had two of them, and now I’m sharing one with Blake. That’s the whole six pack. Chill out.” He told me. “You can have most of the next one if you want. I don’t mind.”

I could have been upset, but I didn’t want to frown up my face in front of Blake. I was a bit too concerned with looking good for my delicate little butterfly of a future boyfriend to stress out about my brother drinking up the sodas in the fridge. You know?

But then…omigod…

Blake hadn’t even taken a sip out of his root beer yet when he held his hand out and said, “It’s ok, Karen. You can have mine if you want. I’m not really all that thirsty anyways.”

Do you have any IDEA how hard it was for me to keep from squealing like an overly obsessive fangirl at that very moment??? He was actually giving ME the last cold root beer in the house! Maybe boys don’t really pay attention to these kinds of things, but Amy and Chelsea knew what a major gesture that was! And they had to move close and hold on to one another as they saw me step forward to take the ice cold bottle from Blake’s delicate fingers. I was trembling sooooo badly!

“Hehehe…thank you, Blake!” I said, trying to keep myself conscious as my fingers almost touched his on the outside of the bottle.

“It’s cool.” He said, and when my face turned a super deep shade of red, he smiled at me and I, legit, became worried that I was going to WET myself, right there and then. How can he DO this to me so easily? He likes me! I KNOW he does!

Connor just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Suit yourself. No biggie.” Then he tried to lead Blake back to his room again. “I wanna open my present. Hehehe, you went through all of this trouble to wrap it and everything.”

“A present isn’t a present without at least a little bit of mystery, right?” Blake giggled. And as soon as they both walked out of the kitchen, all three of us shared a high pitched, ‘dog whistle’, whimper before trying to shake the jitters away and rushing to follow behind them. Oh God..what if I can actually get Blake to DATE me??? How fucking incredible would that be? I don’t want to come on too strong, but…FUCK! I want him to be mine! All mine! I really do!

Amy and Chelsea were practically ‘hockey checking’ me up against the wall trying to follow my brother and his best friend to his bedroom. Geez! They’re so obvious, sometimes. It’s embarrassing.

That’s not to say that I didn’t rush to keep up and follow right behind them myself, of course. But I felt like a geek for doing it.

I half expected Connor to slam the door in our faces to keep us out as usual, but was surprised to see him scurrying over to grab his gift off of the bed without thinking about much of anything else. The rest of us made sure to stop right there in the doorway, with me in the back, peeking over Amy and Chelsea’s shoulders, as Connor began ripping the paper off of the slim box in his hand. His eyes widened, and this huge smile broke out on his face.

“Dude! Are you SERIOUS???” He gasped, and Blake giggled timidly at his response. “‘Monkey Blowtorch II: Revenge Of The Skater Kid Cannibal Orphanage’“!!! This game isn’t even supposed to be out until APRIL! How did you get a copy?”

“Hehehe, my Uncle’s got a specific hook up. A guy that he works with…his wife has big elctronics connections in Japan, so…”

“Omigod, Thank you! This is awesome!”

Blake blushed. “Now, this prototpe is in Japanese, but it’s got English subtitles. It should still play the same, but if it has any glitches, they’ll probably let you download the updated version when it gets its official release.”

My brother looked up at Blake, and Blake looked back at him, and then Connor said, “I love it. Thank you, soooo much.” And the boys moved forward to give each other a rather emotional hug. I could hear Chelsea and Amy sigh out loud to themselves as my brother wrapped his arms around Blake’s neck, and Blake’s arms snaked their way around his waist, maintaining a meaningful embrace that almost made me jealous from bearing witness to the overall intimacy of it. Blake’s so sweet. Everything about him is pure magic, you know?

It was then that we heard our mom calling out to us, carrying a cluster of helium filled balloons and a few gift bags full of presents. “Let’s get it together, you guys. We’re supposed to show up fifteen minutes early to get ourselves set up with everything.” It was only then that Connor let his best friend go. It almost looked as if he was going to stand right there and hug him all day if we didn’t have somewhere to be. It was one of the few times that I’ve ever seen my brother seem so…’tender’. You know?

I mean, maybe a little vulnerable at Grampa’s funeral, and that one time when I was bedridden with the chicken pox…but that’s about it. Weird.

We all got ready to go, with Blake offering to carry Connor’s birthday cake out to the minivan in the driveway. I wish I could have sat next to him on our trip over to Cheesy Pete’s, but there was no way that Connor was going to give up that seat without a fight and a struggle that just wouldn’t be worth the hassle. I wasn’t worried though. I was going to get my chance today, all in good time. I was sure of it.

Now…Cheesy Pete’s is a place that serves awesome pizza, and it has all of these rides and arcade games and stuff. It’s usually pretty busy, and it’s super fun when you go there with your friends to hang out on the weekends. Every teenager in the area loves this place, and there’s no way that anybody walking into that place for the first time couldn’t figure out why. The moment we stepped through the door, we were surrounded with an entire symphony of bells and whistles and alarms and bright colors from every direction. Little kids running around. Bigger kids running around. Adults, who would probably be running around too if they weren’t worried about spilling their drinks from the bar. And laughter. Tons and tons of random laughter.

We were greeted almost immediately and taken to our little party room to set up the tables. No particular theme, really. I think my brother just wanted to have a good time. Connor and Blake immediately got their chosen spots right next to one another at one of the tables in the room, and Chelsea, Amy, and I did our best to get as close to them as we could without actually sitting at the same table. Connor had a lot of friends, and all of them were invited to pop in today and become a part of the party. No room for his baby sister at the big boy’s table, I suppose. Not to mention the fact that my parents didn’t seem too keen on having to censor themselves too much around a trio of tweener girls either. Which worked out just fine for me. I wasn’t looking forward to hearing a bunch of adults talk about…whatever it is that they think is so important all the time, either. But I did regret being so distanced from my number one crush. That part kind of sucked.

Connor’s friends began showing up about twenty minutes later. Jordan with the really sexy abs, and Gary with the super tight butt. Then the twins Eddie and Freddie with the bright blue eyes and the dark brown hair. The only thing more exciting than seeing a boy that cute…was seeing two of them at once. I swear, it was like seeing a real life special effect from a movie. Hehehe! My brother has the cutest friends ever. How did he even find them all? Amy looked like she was getting short of breath as they kept pouring in, little by little. Seth, with the floppy emo fringe, and Dougie with that really cute, blond, hair flip of his. I think he had about ten or twelve other people show up, and by the time the server brought us our pizzas and pitchers of soda and fruit punch, my besties and I were sitting in a virtual tsunami of hot boy flesh. Every boy was cuter than the last, and we just couldn’t help to feel a little bit flushed by all of the eye candy overwhelming us all at once. Yikes! Connor needs to invite these boys over to the house more often. For sleepovers! Like he does for Blake all the time.

We ate our pizza and shared some laughs together. We sang happy birthday to Connor and had him open presents and his birthday cards in front of everybody…it was actually a really cool party so far. We got free credits to play all of the video games in the arcade, and as soon as we cut the cake and had a slice…they opened the door to our party room and set us free to gobble up as many video games as we could in the amount of time that we had left.

This is my chance! There were so many people occupying Connor’s immediate attention, I should have no problem, whatsoever, getting a shot at appealing to his genuine heart and finally having enough space for him to maybe tell me how he feels about me, and vice versa. I mean…this could be IT, you know? I laid in my bed on sooooo many nights, unable to sleep, wishing that I had the words to put together to express my never-ending fascination with everything that he is. He’s more than just cute. He’s…he’s Blake, you know? One of a kind. That ONE special four leaf clover in an entire field of ‘average greens’. I just want to take this opportunity to see if he could maybe like me too. That’s all I want. Just a few minutes. Come on, Karen…make this happen!

As everybody split up and walked around the arcade, I kept following Connor and Blake around to see if some lucky coincidence could somehow pry them apart for a couple of seconds so I can make my move. There were a few times that I saw Chelsea trying to snake her way in and flirt with Blake when she thought that I wasn’t looking, but I wasn’t really worried about her. Not today. Sure, Blake would blush a little bit and he’d be polite to her…but Blake is polite to everybody. And he’s kind of shy, more times than not. So the blush is, like…his natural reaction to almost everything. Even my brother makes him blush a bunch of times, and they’ve been best friends for a long time now. She’s just wasting her time. Ugh! I may need Amy to run some interference for me and get Chelsea out of the way long enough for me to get my big ‘I love you so much’ speech together in my head.

And then it happened…

Connor and Blake were getting ready to play some one-on-one air hockey, but my mom asked Connor to help her take some of his birthday presents out to the minivan in the parking lot. I wasn’t expecting that! I wasn’t prepared!

“Hey, Karen!” Connor said. “You wanna play Blake in some air hockey for a minute? I’ll be right back!”

Omigod, omigod, omigod!

I could feel myself trembling as I approached the table, with Blake giving me the same smile and boyish blush that just…makes me so weak inside whenever I see it. “H-H-Hey…” I giggled, nervously. Connor gave me a weird look at first, wondering what I was so giddy about, but he didn’t think too much into it.

“You ready, Karen?” Blake said softly.

Connor patted me on the shoulder and told me, “Be careful. He’s good! You’ve gotta watch out for this guy.” And he left us to play together, with me shaking so bad that I could barely hold on to the air hockey paddle without tossing it across the room.

I’d love to say that we had a competitive game going where Blake only beat me by a few last minute lucky plays…but that wouldn’t be the truth. He CREAMED me! Seven points to my two. And that was only because he accidentally scored a point on himself without knowing it. Causing us both to laugh.

Sighhhh…Blake has the cutest laugh.

I think he caught me staring at him for a moment, and he seemed to get a bit nervous right away. I felt like this was my golden moment. There wasn’t going to be a better chance for me to go for it than what I had right now.

“Say, would you like…” He started.

“Blake, I…” Oh no! I didn’t time that right! We were talking at the same time! Arrrgh!

Blake got quiet, and he said, “What were you saying?”

“No! It’s ok. You go first.” I said, my voice trembling at the thought of him maybe saying something first and saving me from taking this massive leap of faith all on my own.

“It’s ok. You go. Hehehe, sorry…” He said. “Go ahead.”

Ahhhhh! Don’t scream! Do NOT scream!

“I was thinking that…I mean…” I started to fidget uncontrollably at the thought of saying the words, ‘I really like you a lot, Blake’. I kept feeling like I had to somehow pile up a bunch of words and phrases together before the big reveal. Maybe a short history lesson about how long we’ve known each other, and a few flirty comments about how amazingly CUTE he is…and then, once all of that is out there in the open, and I’ve buttered him up just enough…I can tell him that I’m totally, head over heels, in LOVE with him! And it won’t seem like such a shock to the system. You know? “Blake…I…”

“BLAKE! Dude, we’re all gonna get a Laser Tag game going! You in?” How the fuck did Connor take all of that junk out to the minivan and get back in here so fast? How long have I been standing trying to fight off a bad case of the wiggles?

“Hell, yeah! I’m definitely in!” Blake replied. Awwwww….NO! Dammit! I took too long, didn’t I? “Is everybody else coming?”

“Yep! They’re all on their way to the arena, come on, let’s roll!” Connor grinned, then he looked at our air hockey score, and he snickered out loud. “Damn, Karen! I told you to watch out for him! He slaughtered you!”

But Blake…always the gentleman, said, “She let me win. I know she was faking.” Connor wasn’t buying it, but when Blake winked at me as a signal to keep my mouth shut, I knew that my heart couldn’t beat any harder without completely shutting down and leaving me dead on the floor…right here in the middle of Cheesy Pete’s.

Connor kissed me on the cheek, and said, “Come on! You joining us for Laser Tag?”

“Yeah. I guess.” I said. And Connor started to walk away, but I held on to Blake’s arm and asked, “Were you…ummmm…I mean, you were gonna say something? Right?”

He was like, “Oh! Yeah!” Blake said. “I was going to ask if you wanted me to grab you a lemonade slushie from the counter. I was gonna pay for it. I figured we could both have one.”

“Oh…” I smiled. I wish it was something more…’romantic’, but…it was still really sweet of him to offer.”

“That would be cool.” I said.

“Ok. Well, let’s hit up Laser Tag first, and then we’ll go over and grab a couple. Just you and me. K?”

It re-energized me all over again, my face turning red as I tried to find enough strength in my knees to keep from falling over. “Ummm…m’kay…”

We all went to the arena off to the side of the Cheesy Pete’s arcade, and the whole party was pretty much all squaded up and ready for war. Everybody got their vests on, laser tag guns in hand, and then we were separated into teams. You can’t imagine how honored I was when Blake chose me to be on HIS team against my own brother! Omigod…he is SO in love with me! I’m not giving up on this! I don’t care if it takes me the rest of my life, I’m going to get that boy’s heart in the palm of my hand eventually.

The countdown began. Connor was on the green team, and me and Blake were blue. Amy joined my brother’s team, but Chelsea decided that she didn’t want to get sweaty, so she didn’t play at all. Fine with me. Hehehe, the further she is away from my Blake, the better.

Everybody spread out, the music started, the lights went out, and everything was so dark that I could barely see well enough to keep from running into a wall. But that was beside the point. All I wanted to do was find Blake and stick to him like glue for the rest of the game. Hehehe! I’m not the kind of girl to get super competitive when it comes to stuff like this, so it didn’t bother me when I kept getting tagged over and over again from the opposing team. I mean, it was FUN and all…but where the heck did Blake run off to? There was this whole maze and flashing lights and glow in the dark paint…but I couldn’t find my angel. It got to the point where I had forgotten about the rest of the game entirely and just started walking around, looking to see if I could find my crush again. I had been away from his immaculate beauty for too long. I was going through some severe withdrawal here.

I saw Gary rush past me, shooting me in the center of my chest with a laugh as he ran off to score even more points off of his next victim. I’m sure that Freddie and Eddie had both tagged me a few times each too…but then again…I could barely tell them apart in the light, much less in the dark. Where was Blake? We’re teammates! He’s got to be in here somewhere.

I think I wandered around every corner of that place for two or three minutes without catching a glimpse of my sweetheart. And then…

Waaaay in the back of the Laser Tag arena…I happened to see the sparkling green glow of the opposing team standing in some protected dark corner. No doubt, a ‘camper’ who just stays in one place and picks off all enemy targets whenever he sees them running by. I mean, whoever it was, they weren’t even moving. If I was going to score a decent amount of points in this game, I was going to get them right here. Hopefully chasing him off to give my team a touch of an advantage. Hehehe!

I crept closer, and tried to find an angle to shoot him from. But as I got closer, I noticed that there was a blue vest glowing in the same corner. Wait…but I was on team blue. Why are they both hiding out together? And…

…Why are they standing so close together like that?

I moved a bit closer. There was so much chaos and music and running around going on at the time, I doubt that I had to use much stealth at all to get close to the two players in the game. They were close. Like…vest to vest kind of close. And when I was able to see them from a different angle, I recognized the sunshine locks of Blake’s boyish blond hair being highlighted by the glow of his Laser Tag vest.

Suddenly…without warning…my head began to spin wildly with a dizzy feeling that I had never experienced before. It started off as an extended moment of utter confusion, but as more of the details of what was happening here came into focus…that confusion began to melt away. Devoured, bite by bite, by the realization that I was witnessing something that I was totally not prepared for.

They weren’t playing a game of Laser Tag. They weren’t even sharing a friendly birthday hug. My big brother was, literally, KISSING his best friend on the lips! I could see it! They were totally making out right in front of me, and they were enjoying it so much that they didn’t even realize that they had been caught.

Oh God! I mean, like…oh GOD!

Is my brother GAY???

Wait…wait…

Is BLAKE gay???

Nooooooooo!!! What the fuck is going ON here? What is…? How is…? When did…?

My brain couldn’t process what it was seeing…but my heart could. And it began to suddenly fill up with blocks of lead, weighing it down with emotions of disappointment and regret as I saw the two of them tongue kissing and rubbing their hands all over each other with a passion that, suddenly, explained a lot about how close they’ve been since they first started hanging out together.

It explained why they always locked the bedroom door, or why Connor never wanted me around, or…why they just seemed so damn happy together all the time. Like…ALL the time!

What the hell? I’m so heartbroken right now…

The game came to an end a minute or two later, and everybody walked out of that arena with a huge smile on their face. Most of them out of breath. They immediately rushed over to the scoreboard to see how they did, but I didn’t. I don’t think I even cared anymore. I was too busy trying to keep my wounded heart from dropping down into the pit of my stomach and making me sick with rejection.

How could I not have figured this out before now? Before my deepest emotions got all tangled up in…whatever this is.

Please, don’t get me wrong. If it turns out that my brother is gay…then that’s cool. Despite our bickering and frequent conflicts, I love Connor. And I know that Connor loves me. It’s just a little unexpected, that’s all. I just…I can’t really fathom…

Ugh…it’s hard to explain, I guess.

As we were all looking at the scores, Gary was the first to see Connor and Blake’s scores and say, “What the hell were you guys DOING, bro! You two were, like, in last place? Were you even shooting in there or what?”

Connor and Blake looked at one another and laughed. Connor said, “Well, it’s my birthday. So I feel like I won, either way. Hehehe!”

I felt the pain of seeing Blake blush again and add, “Yeah. Me too.”

Sighhh…he loves my brother, doesn’t he? Just look at them. I can tell.

I think that Chelsea was the first one to see the sour look on my face when I came walking out of that Laser Tag arena. It’s not like I was going to cry or get angry or…whatever. I just wish…

Goddammit…

…I wish it was me.

Both Chelsea and Amy walked over to ask me what happened, and I used all of my remaining energy to just hide the pain of seeing Connor and Blake together, standing just five feet away from us. I won’t lie…it hurt. I mean, it really hurt! And this is before the shock of the situation had worn off yet.

Awwww, he was the first boy that I ever fell in love with. He really was. Why does Connor get ALL the good fortune all the time! It’s SO not fair!

Amy asked me, “So what happened??? Did you get a chance to talk to him?”

Chelsea adding, “What did he say?”

With a sigh, looking back at Blake as he walked up behind Conner and hugged him, lightly resting his chin on his shoulder. Nobody else really noticed how ‘touchy feely’ they were with one another, but…then again, I never noticed it before a couple of minutes ago. So much other stuff makes sense now.

I looked at my besties, and I just said, “I didn’t get much of a chance to talk to him. But…it’s Connor’s birthday. That’s what he’s here for. Maybe I’ll get a chance some other time.” I hope I didn’t let my sadness break through my lame mask of artificial normality when I said it.

They both moved in and gave me a hug. The physical contact almost caused me to burst into tears, but I held them back. I didn’t DARE let those tears take over and embarrass me in public like they wanted to.

“You’ll get him next time, hon.” Chelsea said.

“Yeah. It’s not over until it’s over, Karen.” Amy added.

But it was over. Wasn’t it?

This wasn’t me just competing with some other girl from school. This wasn’t just me being envious of Chelsea talking and flirting with Blake, even though she KNEW that I liked him first. And this wasn’t just another obstacle in Amy’s constant flow of optimism and hope. Blake was existing in a whole other world as far as my deepest affections were concerned. A world that would probably never understand what’s so great about me in the first place…no matter what I do to prove myself.

I mean, to be honest…is there anything to prove?

Anything to achieve in the long run?

Blake lightly tapped me on the shoulder, with my brother standing right next to him. “So…what’s up? Do you still wanna go get that slushie or what?” He said.

Blake is soooooo SWEET!

Feeling a bit disheartened, I said, “No, thank you. Honestly, I think I changed my mind.”

Blake seemed confused. “Really? Because I’m buying, if you really want one. Cheesy Pete’s slushies are delicious!”

As cute as he was, that beautiful face of his almost blinding me with its boyish radiance as I fought to look him directly in the eye…I decided to turn him down. “I’m cool. You guys go ahead. You can give my slushie to Connor if you want.”

Connor brightened up, “Are we talking slushies here?”

Blake looked at me, and smiled. But then he directed his attention back to my brother, and I realized that letting him go was, pretty much, my only option at this point. Blake shrugged his shoulders and asked him, “Whaddyasay? Lemonade slushie?”

“Score! I’m down!”

The two of them were getting ready to head towards the counter for their frozen treat, but I approached Connor at the last minute, and I gave him a tight hug around the shoulders. “Happy birthday, big brother…” I said, sniffling a bit.

He leaned back and asked, “Are you ok?”

“I’m fine. Everything is…it’s just fine.” I assured him, and that’s when Blake took a hold of his hand and dragged him away to go spend some more private time together.

Well, if it’s ONE positive thing that I can say about my brother, Connor…it’s that he has an excellent taste in boys. He really does.

I watched them walk off together and I just…I wish them well. I’m sure that there will be this big ‘coming out’ fiasco in the near future where he feels the need to ask permission to simply be who he is in front of me and our parents. But for now, I guess he wins. And BOY, did he win big with a hottie like Blake.

Ugh…my heart!

This HURTS!!! It really does!

Does Connor have any idea what it’s like to find somebody cool, and sweet, and SUPER attractive…but then have to come to terms with the realization that you can’t ever ever EVER have them because they’re attracted to an entirely different gender???

Oh…

Oh wait…

Yeah. I guess he does.

Shit. Well, this side of the equation totally fucking SUCKS! Just so you know!

Maybe one of his hot friends is available. At least there’s enough of them to go around. Heh…might as well start over again from square one, right? Like I said…my brother has an excellent taste in boys! They can’t ALL be gay, right?

Alright then…Plan B…

Chelsea…Amy…? Let’s get a team together and see what we can come up with. I’m not leaving here without some kind of ‘win’ today. Believe me.

Just wait until *MY* birthday party! Now that will be an event! You just wait and see.

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