"Come on, Jasper!" Edward yells as he races along the path.
I do my best to keep up, but even though I'm a little older and taller, he's always been faster than me and quickly disappears from my sight. I stop and listen for the sound of his footfalls, but all I hear are the familiar sounds of the forest. We've been coming here since we were little kids and I know the woods between our houses better than any other place in town. A frog croaking catches my attention before it leaps in the air and lands in a puddle with a quiet splash.
"Edward?" I call. "Which way did you go?"
"I'm up here!" he replies.
He keeps talking, telling me he found something really cool to show me, and I follow his voice up the hill. The path is wet from this afternoon's thunderstorm, but I forge ahead. The slick bottoms of my Converse give me no traction against the slippery trail and I trip and stumble over loose rocks, scraping my palms.
"Jasper?" Edward calls, sounding a little worried.
"I'm coming," I huff, wiping my muddy hands on my jeans before reaching the fork in the path where my boy is waiting for me.
"Hey, look!" Edward says, pointing to a fallen tree. All thoughts of climbing to the top of the hill are forgotten as we scramble to one side of the trunk.
"Cool! Let's see if we can make it across without falling," I suggest, skinned palms forgotten.
We look across the trunk and Edward bites his lip nervously.
"I don't know, Jasper," he says. "Look at the bark. It's all wet and slippery from the rain."
We're going to be freshmen in high school next year and it seems like Edward and I don't come here as often as we used to. Today, I want to make the most of it. Besides, I know there's a group of boulders on the other side of this tree trunk and it's the perfect spot to stop and tell Edward what's been going on with me lately. I'm nervous, but excited too. I just hope I know Edward as well as I think I do, or things are going to get really weird.
"Nah, it'll be fun! Look, we're not even that high up," I encourage. "I'll go and then you can follow me."
I step out onto the log and gingerly walk across. Waving to Edward, I tell him to come on already, but to watch out for loose bark near the middle. He takes a deep breath followed by a few hesitant steps, and I tell him it won't be as scary if he doesn't look down. At first I think he's going to make it across, but then he bends and grabs the tree trunk with both hands, sitting down with a leg on either side.
"Edward?" I ask. He doesn't even look up at me and I mentally kick myself for forgetting he's still a little afraid of heights. Before I know it, I've walked back across and meet him in the middle.
"Here," I say, offering him a hand up. "I'll walk across with you."
Eyes downcast, he shakes his head. It's then that I notice his breathing is a little ragged and I immediately lower myself down onto the log, mimicking his position. He scoots closer until our knees are touching and absentmindedly picks at the mossy bark.
"Sorry, Jasper," he murmurs, cheeks rosy with embarrassment.
"Nope, it's my fault. I forgot about the heights thing," I say casually, reaching for his hand, trying to get him to relax a little.
"Your hand's all messed up," he says, hesitantly running his fingers over the scrapes on my dirty palm.
"I slipped," I whisper, flipping our hands over to trace his instead.
For a few minutes, we swing our legs back and forth, our feet knocking together more often than not. My friendship with Edward has always been a little different than with the other guys, but now that I've figured out why, I want to touch him all the time. Every once in a while, he looks up at me and gives me the shy smile I like so much. I don't know how he manages to look so hot in a wrinkly button down shirt, but he really does. His hair is a little sweaty and his eyes are bright, even as the blue-grey of dusk starts to settle in around us. I'm surprised when Edward glances down at my mouth, but when he licks his lips and then drags his teeth across the bottom one, I lean in.
I've never kissed anyone before, but I know I'm going to kiss Edward, if he'll let me. I really hope he lets me. I'm just about to ask him if it's okay but then his eyes close and he tilts forward too. Closing the distance between us, I press my lips to his. I feel him suck in a little breath and then he's kissing me back. We're both hesitant at first, not really knowing what to do. His lips are soft and warm and they feel really good, so I press a little harder and he does too. Scooting even closer, he throws one leg over mine, steadying himself with a hand on my thigh. When I put my hand on the outside of his knee, Edward makes a little sound that causes my fingers to grip him tighter and my tongue to peek out and lick his lip.
It gets a little wet and messy after a while, noses bumping and teeth crashing together, but kissing Edward in our forest still feels pretty perfect. We kiss until I need to catch my breath, and when I start to pull back, Edward huffs in frustration.
"Wow," I whisper and he nods quickly in agreement.
Edward's cheeks are flushed, and his lips are red and puffy and shiny from our kisses. We stare at each other with silly grins on our faces until I can't resist leaning in for more.
"Hey, Edward?" I ask when we finally separate. "What were you going to show me today anyway?"
"Doesn't matter, Jasper. This is way better," he answers and kisses me again.