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We ran from Tom Foss' house: out the window, down the stairs. We ran around the building's corner before Declan grabbed my arm, pulling me flush against the wall and out of sight. Both of us were breathing hard and I took deep breaths, trying to calm my respiratory system.

My body was thrumming, blood pounding in my ears. Adrenaline. It was something I'd experienced during the basketball game, but not like this. There was excitement and tension in the air but they were dampened by something else. I'd noticed this feeling once before: the night Declan had climbed through my window after the accident. Fear.

I tasted iron in the back of my throat.

"Hey, you okay? Kyle?"

Declan's hand rested on my shoulder. I could feel the weight and heat of it and it somehow kept me grounded. I looked at him and nodded.

His mouth was open and he kept staring. Confused, I cocked my head to the side questioningly, but tried to offer what I hoped was an encouraging smile. The flavor in the air had changed, though the adrenaline was still there.

Declan's other hand came up, it too coming to rest on my shoulder, and his grip tightened. He widened his stance, pupils dilating.

All of this I catalogued in the second before his lips landed on mine.

It was a firm pressure and at first I simply stood there, unsure of what to do. Then I realized I'd seen this before. At that party. In Josh's magazines. Nicole and Stephan. This was a kiss.

I knew then what to do. Or at least the mechanics. I'd never kissed before—that I could remember—so I followed Declan's lead. With my hands at my sides, I pressed back. When his tongue traced my lips, a flash of pleasure ran through me. I was so grateful it wasn't painful like the flashes I seemed to have trying to listen to others, that I sighed, opening my mouth.

The warm and wet tongue that slipped into my mouth made me realize that had been the goal all along. I was passive once more as Declan explored my mouth, but understood quick enough to return the moves. A noise that sounded painful expelled from him and I almost pulled back, but it seemed that wasn't the case as he only drew me in closer.

Tongues twisted, teeth clicked, lips pressed soft, yet rushed. It felt both weird and good. I wondered what had brought it on, but started having troubles thinking straight when one hand moved from my shoulder to my hair and brought us closer still. I felt warm and happy. Content. I was beginning to feel as I had at the pool that day...

When he finally pulled away after exactly forty-seven seconds, Declan's breathing was even more uneven than before and I was thinking about grapefruit.

"Kyle...that was..."

Declan seemed to have issues getting words out between breaths and he wasn't looking at me. His hands dropped to his sides and he leaned back against the wall, letting out a large sigh.

He eventually turned to look at me. I was still confused as to the 'why', though not the 'what', anymore.

"You know, we can't...I can' one..." He shifted now, looking very uncomfortable.

"What's wrong?" I asked. I had the great desire to kiss him again, but when I moved forward, he put out a hand to stop me.

"We can't tell anyone," he whispered.

"Why not?" Again, I was confused. Why couldn't we share this?

"'s just not done."

"Yes, it is. I've seen people kiss a lot. You and Lori. Nicole and Stephan—"

"That's different." His tone was harsh and frustrated.


"They're married. It...I can't explain it. But we're—we’re just friends. And sometimes, things happen between friends that others wouldn't understand."

I studied his expression for a moment. Golden hair, long angular face. I conjured up the worst flavor of grapefruit I could imagine as he seemed sincerely distressed.

"Okay," I said slowly, "I won't tell. Do we have to be married for people to understand?"

He let out a laugh. "No way. I like you well enough and all, but not that much. Besides—" He seemed prepared to continue, but he looked at me strangely and seemed to change his mind.

Right then I wished instead of x-ray hearing, as Josh called it, that I had x-ray mind seeing. Reading. Maybe I'd understand more if I could see it as others did. Know what people didn't say.

I put that aside for another time. I had one question, though.

"Can we do it again?"

Declan's face lit with a grin and I grinned back, hoping that was a good sign.

"Sure, Kyle. Maybe sometime. But right now, we have bigger things to worry about."

He grabbed my wrist to start me moving and then we were both running again, towards his car and away from Tom's home.