Turns out, we do not like crawfish. Luckily, they had chicken strips on the menu. We both like chicken, apparently.
“We should write that down somewhere,” she says, walking backward down the middle of the street. “That we hate crawfish. I don’t want to have to go through that awful experience again.”
“Wait! You’re about to…” Charlie falls on her butt before the rest of the sentence can make it out of my mouth. “Walk into a pothole,” I finish.
I reach down to help her up, but there’s not much I can do about her pants. We had finally dried off after the rain from earlier today, and now she’s soaking wet again. This time from muddy water. “You okay?” I ask, trying not to laugh. Trying being the key word here. Because I’m laughing harder than I’ve laughed all day.
“Yeah, yeah,” she says as she attempts to wipe mud from her pants and her hands. I’m still laughing when she narrows her eyes and points down at the mud puddle. “Charlie says sit in the pothole, Silas.”
I shake my head. “No. No way. The game is called Silas says, not Charlie says.”
She arches an eyebrow. “Oh, really?” She takes a step closer to me and says, “Charlie says sit in the pothole. If Silas does what Charlie says, Charlie will do whatever Silas says.”
Is that an invitation of sorts? I’m liking flirtatious Charlie. I glance down at the pothole. It’s not that deep. I turn around and lower myself until I’m sitting cross-legged in the puddle of muddy water. I keep my eyes on Charlie’s face, not wanting to witness the attention we’re probably attracting from bystanders. She swallows back her laughter, but I can see the pleasure she’s getting out of this.
I stay sitting in the pothole until it even starts to embarrass Charlie. After several seconds, I lean back onto my elbows and cross my legs. Someone snaps a picture of me in the pothole, so she motions for me to stand. “Get up,” she says, glancing around. “Hurry.”
I shake my head. “I can’t. Charlie didn’t say.”
She grabs my hand, laughing. “Charlie says get up, you idiot.” She helps me to my feet and grabs my shirt, pressing her face against my chest. “Oh my God, they’re all staring at us.”
I wrap my arms around her and begin to sway back and forth, which is probably not what she was expecting me to do. She looks up at me, my shirt still clenched in her fists. “Can we go now? Let’s go.”
I shake my head. “Silas says dance.”
Her eyebrows crinkle together. “You can’t be serious!”
There are several people stopped on the street now, some of them taking pictures of us. I sort of don’t blame them. I’d probably take pictures of an idiot who willingly sat in a mud puddle, too.
I unclench her fists from my shirt and make her hold my hands as I force her to dance to non-existent music. She’s stiff at first, but then she seems to let the laughter take over the embarrassment. We sway and dance down Bourbon Street, bumping into people as we go. The whole time, she’s giggling like she doesn’t have a care in the world.
After a few minutes, we come to a break in the crowd. I stop twirling her long enough to pull her to my chest and sway softly, back and forth. She’s looking up at me, shaking her head. “You’re crazy, Silas Nash,” she says.
I nod. “Good. That’s what you love about me.”
Her smile fades for a moment and the look she has in her eyes causes me to stop swaying. She places her palm over my heart and stares at the back of her hand. I already know she’s not feeling a heartbeat inside my chest. It’s more like a drumline in mid procession.
Her eyes meet mine again. She parts her lips and whispers, “Charlie says…kiss Charlie.”
I would have kissed her even if Charlie didn’t say. My hand wraps in her hair a single second before my lips meet hers. When her mouth parts for mine, it feels as though she punches a hole straight through my chest and makes a fist around my heart. It hurts, it doesn’t, it’s beautiful, it’s terrifying. I want it to last for eternity, but I’ll run out of breath if this kiss goes on for just one more minute. My arm wraps around her waist, and when I pull her closer, she moans quietly into my mouth. Jesus.
The only thing I have room for in this head of mine right now is the firm belief that fate absolutely exists. Fate…soul mates…time travel…you name it. It all exists. Because that’s what her kiss feels like. Existence.
We’re momentarily jolted when someone bumps into us. Our mouths seaparate, but it takes effort to free ourselves from whatever hold just took over. The music from all the open doors along the street comes back into focus. The lights, the people, the laughter. All the external things that ten seconds of her kiss just blocked out are rushing back. The sun is setting, and nighttime seems to transform this entire street from one world to another. I can’t think of anything I want more than to get her out of here. Neither of us seems to be able to move, though, and my arm feels like it weighs twenty pounds when I reach for her hand. She slides her fingers through mine and we begin walking in silence back toward the parking lot where my car is.
Neither of us speaks a word the entire walk back. Once we’re both inside my car, I wait a moment before cranking it. Things are too heavy. I don’t want to start driving until we get out whatever it is we need to say. Kisses like that can’t linger without acknowledgment.
“Now what?” she asks, staring out the window.
I watch her for a moment, but she doesn’t move. It’s as if she’s frozen. Suspended in time between the last kiss and our next one.
I buckle up and put the car in drive. Now what? I have no idea. I want to kiss her like that a million more times, but every single kiss would end just like that one did. With the fear that I won’t remember it tomorrow.
“We should go back home and get a decent night’s sleep,” I say. “We also need to make more notes in case…” I cut myself off.
She pulls on her seatbelt. “In case soul mates don’t exist…” she finishes.
During our drive to Silas’s house, I think about everything we’ve learned today. I think about my father and how he isn’t a good human. Part of me is scared that being a good person is inherent. I’ve read enough about how I used to be to know that I didn’t treat people very well. Silas included.