Home > A Love Letter to Whiskey(6)

A Love Letter to Whiskey(6)
Kandi Steiner

Out of pure familiarity, of course.

“You surviving over there?” he asked, sipping on the red slushy he’d purchased at half-time. “I know all this organized fun can be torturous.”

“You’re totally judging me for my lack of school spirit, aren’t you?”

“Only a little bit.”

I sighed. “And all this after I promised not to judge you for your musical taste. You don’t play fair, Jamie Shaw.”

He moved his straw around, a smirk crawling up on his lips. “You have no idea.”

I narrowed my eyes, ready to ask what the hell that meant when the cheerleading squad started up a new cheer. Jamie’s eyes found Jenna’s and he zeroed in on her, sexy smile in place, their eyes staying connected the entire time as she moved. I watched her too, mesmerized by her flawlessness. Seriously, I’d yet to meet another person more beautiful than her — including Jamie. She just dazzled.

When the cheer ended, Jenna blew Jamie a kiss and he grinned as she turned back toward the field, her short skirt twirling with her.

And then, he turned back to me.

“So are you involved in any clubs or anything?”

My cheeks heated. “Okay, seriously, don’t laugh, because what I’m interested in and what Jenna is interested in are completely different.”

“I’m not comparing you.”

I chewed my cheek at that, noting the sincerity in his eyes. “I’m in Debate Club. And Interact.”

He barked out one, loud laugh. “Of course you’re in Debate Club.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?!”

Jamie laughed harder, his hand coming down on my knee as he doubled over. I tried not to feel the burn through my jeans. “Nothing, it just makes sense. You and that mouth of yours.” He removed his hand, but now his eyes were on my mouth he’d just mentioned, and I could barely breathe.

He sniffed, looking back out at the field. “What is Interact?”

“Basically a community service club. I want to beef up the resume before senior year, you know?”

Our team scored and everyone jumped up, cheering loudly, Jamie and I a little delayed. We shared high-fives with a few people around us and watched Jenna perform a toe touch jump before settling back in on the bleachers.

“Yeah, you told me how you want to go to school in California, but what exactly do you want to go to school for?”

I stole his slushy then, pointing the straw at him before taking a sip. “You’ll have to get in line to get the answer to that question, right behind my mom.”

Jamie snatched the slushy back and immediately took a pull, which made me realize we’d shared a straw. I couldn’t figure out why that made my stomach flip. “Can you share a little insight with the back of the line, at least?”

“I just don’t know yet. I’ll probably go in undecided, take my general education requirements and figure it out from there. I love to write, but I also enjoy the objectivity of solving a math problem. I get amped up over public speaking but I also take solace in the quiet hours spent on a solo project.” I sighed. “I just think it’s stupid to narrow down my options. Is it so bad to be passionate about more than one thing?”

He tilted his head. “Not at all. I think that makes you rare.”

“Great. Rare. Like a steak. Sounds like when my mom used to tell me I was ‘special.’”

Jamie laughed. “You are. You’re unique, B. I like that about you.”

My breath got stuck somewhere beneath my chest bone and I inhaled deeply, tucking my hands under my thighs and pulling my knee from where it touched his. It was suddenly too much, and I focused instead on where the cool metal of the bleachers touched my skin.

“What about you? You have it all planned out, don’t you?”

“Kind of. I mean, for me, it’s always been sort of easy. I want what my dad has, you know?” His eyes were bright, animated. “I’m not sure if I told you or not, but he’s an accountant, owns his own firm in Fort Lauderdale.”

“You don’t say?” I acted surprised.

Jamie sat a little straighter, talking with his hands. “He started that firm when he was twenty-six, B. Twenty-six. Can you imagine?” He shook his head. “It almost went under twice, but he fought for it, and now he’s one of the best firms in town. I want to continue that, work for him until he hands it over to me, work even harder once it’s mine to keep the reputation he worked so hard to build. I want to meet the love of my life, marry her, fill our house with kids and do what I need to do to give them everything they need.”

“You want those things? Or does he want them for you?” The other team scored a touchdown and the crowd around us booed, halting the conversation for a moment. When the noise died down, Jamie continued.

“I want them,” he said with absolution. “I love what my dad has built with my mom, what they’ve both done for me and my two sisters — Sylvia and Santana.” He shrugged, and I watched a single strand of his hair fall out of place and onto his forehead. “I’ve worked at the firm for three summers now and I love it. I’m good at it. I don’t know, it just makes sense for me, I guess.”

“It must be so comforting, to know what you want the way you do.”

He swallowed, his eyes focusing on the game and not on me anymore. “Sometimes it’s harder than you think. There’s always this fear that even though I may know what I want, I may never actually make it a reality.” Jamie glanced at me then. “Sometimes it’s more complicated than just wanting something and making it happen.”

I nodded, at least I think I did. He was looking at me in that way he did, and when that happened, I couldn’t be sure I was actually moving the way I told my body to.

“I think you’ll find a way.”

He smiled, an easy smile, one that erased the tension of that moment. “Thanks, B. I think you will, too.”

We ended up winning the game, twenty-four to fourteen, and Jenna sprinted off the field and into Jamie’s arms at the sound of the final whistle. He picked her up easily, swinging her around before kissing her to a collective “aww” from those in the stands who witnessed the movie-like moment. It was that kiss that stunned me back to reality, the reality where Jamie was my best friend’s boyfriend. Jenna turned to me next and I slapped on a smile as quick as I could before she wrapped her arms around me.

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