The Feather Kiss
“I don’t understand how you could do this to me,” Kate said, sifting through racks of costumes.
She hadn’t said more than a few words to me since I revived from my own shock to take her to the mall. “Sorry, Kate. I know how the two of you don’t get along.”
“Of course we don’t get along. He ran me over at the prom. I was in the hospital for a week. That is not something I will soon forget. How could I love someone who is more concerned about his current love interest than his own sister? I just can’t believe you stooped to join his list of sluts.”
“Now wait a minute.”
“I know. I’m sorry,” she said, raising her hands in defense. “You’re not a slut. But you can’t deny that the extensive list of women he’s been with is nauseating.”
“True,” I mumbled. I didn’t like to think about the scores of girlfriends he’d had. Someone as handsome as Brett Porter did not sit on the sidelines. He was in the fray of the party. And he had partied hard in his day. For that matter, maybe he still did. I’d have to talk with him about that. He needed to carry this farce into his social life too, or Kate would never believe it.
“Why didn’t you tell me you were dating him? I thought we were best friends. We’re supposed to tell each other stuff like that. I told you the very first time I laid eyes on Baker.”
I looked to Kate with sympathy. “I didn’t trade you in, Kate. You’re still my best friend.” She snorted and I smiled. She was comical when it came to accepting confessions. “You hate him most of the time. I thought you’d fly through the roof if I told you. I never dreamed he’d ask me to marry him.”
A smile tugged on my lips at my words. Technically I asked him. I dipped my head and pretended to sift through costumes. She looked up at me with that calculating gaze. I tried to force away the blush that wanted to spread on my cheeks.
“What about this dress? You could be a stunning mid-evil ghost in this one.” I held up the black, lace dress in front of my face.
“I’ve decided to go as something a little more modern. Perhaps a pirate or a fairy.”
“I can’t imagine Baker will want to go as a fairy.”
“He’d do it for me,” she said, returning her attention to the rack of costumes. “Did Brett talk to Mom?”
“I don’t know. We weren’t planning to tell anyone about our engagement yet. You caught us off guard.”
Kate snorted again, then pulled a face. “I still can’t get the sight of you kissing my brother out of my head. At first I thought it was a cruel joke. It’s not like it was an impassioned kiss. You probably didn’t even enjoy it, and I’m sure he didn’t. His lips were hardly even touching yours.”
“Perhaps you caught us before we had a chance to make it good.”
She stopped; then shrugged.
“Come on, Kate. Get over it. We are going to be sisters. Can’t you be happy for me?”
“I’d be happier if it wasn’t Brett.”
“He’s not so bad. He’s changed.”
I could feel the goofy look on my face as I thought of Brett and all the things he made me feel. I honestly felt like some love sick girl, in love for the first time. I knew it was just his kiss. I didn’t love him and I didn’t really like him. I just started thinking he was the same as when I first met him. I felt giddy and silly then, that must be where my feelings stemmed from now.
“I don’t understand you, Lydia. You have just as much reason to hate him as me. What made you change?”
I stopped. I didn’t want to lie. I didn’t know how many lies I could keep track of. “I don’t know. Maybe if you just give him a chance, you’ll see that he’s changed.”
“Hmmm. I guess I will try. But not for him. I’ll do it because I love you. I just hope he doesn’t destroy your heart.”
“Oh, look at that dress over there. It’s like a milk maid.”
“A milk maid? Really?” She went over to investigate. I hoped we could move beyond the topic of Brett, but I was certain she’d bring it up again. It was in her nature to dwell on things she didn’t understand.
An hour later, Kate still hadn’t picked out a costume and I didn’t see one I liked either. So we decided to head down the street to Dale’s Diner. We ordered some ice cream and found a table when my phone rang. I reached into my purse and looked at the caller id. I groaned.
“Hey, handsome,” I said, holding it up to my ear. “You have impeccable timing.”
“Hey, Babe. You and Kate still costume shopping? Find anything yet?”
“Nope. I’m tempted to go as a beach babe with a surfer hunk.”
Kate looked at me and rolled her eyes. I tried to smile and be happy while I talked.
“I’m game.” I heard him chuckle. “Where are you?”
I put my hand over the mouth piece and whispered, “I’m going outside so I can hear.”
Kate looked ready to be ill. “Please do.”
I smiled. If nothing else, this farce would be entertaining.
Outside, I started talking again. “You and I need to talk. Kate’s asking all kinds of questions about us. We need to get our stories straight.”
“Fine. Do you want me to meet you at Dale’s or back at your place?”
“I’ll text you when we leave and you can meet me at home. I think Kate needs some time. I’m afraid we may be rushing her. If we are at home, she’ll be able to escape.”
“Liddy, I’m not doing this to spend time with you. I’m doing this to spend time with Kate.”
I growled at the low blow. “I thought we agreed no insults.”
“That’s the truth.”
“I know,” I ground out. How I had talked myself into thinking favorably of him was a mystery. I’d almost begun to like the idea of being engaged. Until now. “If you want Kate, you’ll have to trust me on this. She’s struggling and not ready yet. You have to show her how much you care for me before she’s willing to risk her own heart.”
He blew into the phone, probably to annoy me. “Fine. Let me know when you leave.”
“Try to be happy when you come over, or she won’t buy it.”
I snapped my phone shut and walked back into Dale’s Diner.
“How’s my brother?” Kate asked when I returned.
“Fine. He’s coming over later.”
“Ugh. Really? He never came over before. Come to think of it, I never remember you going to see him either.”
“I see him after work or class, a lot. I didn’t want to worry you, so we don’t spend much time together when you’re home. I’ll sometimes see him when you go out with Baker.” The lies rolled easily off my tongue and I hated myself for them. Think of what you’re trying to accomplish for Kate, I told myself.
“But you always said you went to bed early, or did homework, or watched a movie.”
I hoped the look on my face implied that I had used those lines as a cover.
“You are so maddening!” Kate squealed and I cringed. People looked over at us but she didn’t notice. I sunk in my seat.
The waitress brought our ice cream and I took a huge spoonful of my Butterfinger blizzard. Mmmm. The smooth ice cream and crunchy candy was just what I needed right now.
“Was he too cheap to buy you a ring?”
I looked up at Kate and then at my hand.
“You’re wearing your mother’s ring. Was he too cheap to buy you your own?”
“No. I wanted this one. He wanted to buy my something bigger. You know how Brett is. He has the money for it, but I wanted this.”
Kate nodded. I could tell something was still bothering her, but I didn’t know what it was.
“Spit it out, Kate. I don’t want you moping around all the time. I want you to be happy for me. Tell me what’s bugging you so we can be friends again.”
She looked at me, water filled her eyes. “I wish I had known. And I had my heart on getting married first. I am older.”
I squelched the desire to laugh at her asinine remark. “You still might, Kate. We haven’t set a date.”
“I know.” She wiped at her eye. “I just feel like I won’t be as important to you anymore. You’ve been my best friend since we were girls. You’ve always been there for me. I know how Brett gets when he’s got a girl. He won’t let you spend time with me anymore, I just know it.”
“He doesn’t get to make that decision. I do. If he tries to steal me away from you, I will call things off. I will never leave you.”
Kate sniffled dramatically. I handed her a napkin.
“Thanks,” she muttered and blew her nose. “What are you guys doing tonight?”
I shrugged. “I need to talk to him about a couple things, but we don’t have any plans.”
“Let’s do a double date. What do you say?”
“Tonight? It will be late when we get home and I have to work in the morning.”
I smiled. Brett would love it. “You’ve got yourself a deal.”