Maddie picked up the extension and waited for her brother to hang up. “Hello?”
“Hey,” it was Clayton.
“Weird being home, huh?”
“Very. My mom is still in freak mode. She doesn’t want me to go next summer. That’s okay, Dad is on my side.”
“Same here. She’s been yammering in Spanish for the last three hours. Dad finally opened a bottle of wine to calm her down.”
They laughed quietly.
“I miss not being able to kiss you goodnight,” Maddie said.
“I’m going through withdrawal. That’s why I called. You promised me something.”
“I did?” she feigned innocence.
“You did. So, I’m asking again….”
There was a click as someone picked up the phone upstairs.
“Robby, off!” Maddie said, knowing it was her little brother.
“You know what I’m asking,” Clayton said. “And I’m totally fine with waiting until you’re ready. But I wanted you to know I’m thinking of you.”
“I miss you.” She paused. “Can you sneak out later?”
“In about twenty minutes? That way, the mini-monster will be in bed and can’t rat me out.”
“Our usual spot?” he asked.
“I’ll bring the Dr. Pepper.”
“I’ll bring the Pringles.”
It was nearly 11:00 when they met up in Maddie’s backyard. Their destination was her princess playhouse that her father built for her sixth birthday. Clayton hopped over the fence after handing the sodas to Maddie. His kiss made Maddie breathless.
“I needed that,” he murmured. “I’ve missed you.”
“I’ve been going through Clayton Withdrawal,”Maddie admitted. “The entire time my mom was griping about our trip, all I could think about was you.”
“For real?” Grinning, he walked her to the playhouse and opened the door for her.
The house was full sized with a vaulted roof and a loft. More than once, Maddie and her friends had spent the night out there, telling ghost stories. The furnishings had changed over the years. Gone were the tiny chairs and toy appliances. They had been supplanted by a full sized desk and chairs. There was an old mattress in the loft. Maddie vacuumed it every few weeks and kept the place dusted. It was her private retreat. She and Clayton had spent many hours here talking.
“This place brings back a lot of memories,” Maddie said as she popped open her soda can.
“Yup. We had our first kiss right over there,” Clayton said, pointing to the far corner of the room. “I about had to tackle you to get it.”
“What can I say? I was terrified.”
“No, of getting pregnant. You know how my mom is. She always told me that if I kissed a boy, I’d have a baby.”
Clayton chuckled. “Well, not entirely true.”
“Well, duh, I know that now.”
“I don’t just wanna kiss you, Mads.”
“I know that.” She smiled, taking his hand. “Soon, I promise. I want this too. I want you to be my first.”
“You’ve always been first with me, Maddie.”
They kissed a long time, the snack forgotten. Much as Clayton wanted it to progress, he sensed Maddie wasn’t ready. It was enough for now. He was patient and confident that when she was, he would be the one she turned to.
“I love you so much, Clayton. It feels so good to say that after all these years.”
“Maddie, I can’t even remember a time when I didn’t love you.”
“Me too, Clayton. You were my first and best friend. You took me to my first dance, gave me my first kiss and now, you’re my first love.”
“And you’re mine too. My first—and only—love.”
© 2015 Dellani Oakes