I sat on my bed with my back against the headboard and my ankles crossed.
"Do you mind?" Levi asked holding up the photo album he'd found on my bookshelf.
"Bring it here," I said patting the spot next to me. Levi sat beside me, put the album on his lap and opened it. The first few pictures were of me in my Christmas dress when I was six.
"I remember that dress," Levi said with a sideways glance and a smile. "Tucker said you looked like a…"
"…fat apple." I laughed. "I was so angry with him for that. I loved that dress." I ran my fingers over the picture. The dress was crushed red velvet with poufy arms and ruffled lace. Black patent leather shoes with a one inch heel had completed the outfit. I'd been so happy with those shoes—they were my first pair of heels.
We flipped through a few more pages until Levi stopped at a picture of me, him, and Tucker on Halloween. We'd been eight. I was dressed up as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Levi was the Cowardly Lion and Tucker was the Tin Man. It'd been my mom's brilliant idea to dress us up like that and as soon as Mrs. Corbin heard of it she'd jumped on board with it. Talk about embarrassing.
"Wow. I'd forgotten about this," he said staring at the picture. "Do you remember that year you begged us to dress up as the characters from The Little Mermaid?"
I buried my face in my hands and giggled as I nodded. "Oh, god, I think that picture's in there too." My Little Mermaid phase had been a tough one. Even though they hadn't said anything I knew my parents were ready to strangle me. They'd humored me though and re-painted my room to look like the ocean and indulged me for a little while by calling me Mermaid Ali. It wasn't until I refused to participate in anything unless Levi and Tucker dressed up for Halloween with me that my parents put an end to it. They conceded to the Halloween costumes on the condition that I give up the mermaid obsession.
"Here it is." He pointed to the picture.
I peeked at it through my fingers and cringed. I was dressed as Ariel, of course, and Levi was King Triton while Tucker was Prince Eric. "I'm so sorry I did that to y'all."
"No reason to be sorry," he said turning his chocolate brown eyes in my direction. "We'd have done anything for you back then Ali. Hell, we still would.""Thank you." A lock of hair fell across his forehead and without thinking I reached up and brushed it back. I noticed Levi's eyes darkened slightly and my breath caught in my throat. My body became instantly overloaded with a mixture of emotions: happiness, excitement, uncertainty, fear, and lust. I let my hand fall from his face and cleared my throat. Why did things suddenly feel so awkward?
**** Coming Summer 2013 from Entranced Publishing ****