Abby stared into them, trying not to be obvious about it, but the lips below curved into a sly smile, and she blushed. Those eyes twinkled, showing more than a hint of suppressed deviltry, and one set of lashes slowly lowered as Corina winked at her.
It was too much, and Abby closed her eyes, blanking out the cakes and their friends and the world. She needed to collect her wits; how did Corina do it?
They were the best of friends, unlikely as it might seem. Had they met later, perhaps they wouldn't have bonded, but the preschoolers who discovered they shared the exact same birthday were too young to know how dissimilar their temperaments would become. The teenagers they were now were too close to care.
On the face of it, they were of a kind. Corina was dark-haired and olive-skinned, while Abby had blonde hair and pale blue eyes. But both were tall, for girls, and willowy in a way that drew second glances from boys who saw them. The physical similarities were accentuated by the unwritten code that dictated they and their friends all wear the same types of clothing. Indeed, their two families had noticed a tendency for the girls' wardrobes to oscillate slowly back and forth between the two households.
Internally, they could not have been more different. Not in intelligence, not in attraction to the boys that circled them, not in obedience to their elders, but in spontaneity. Where Abby often felt crushed by the attention focused on her, it seemed to lift up the extroverted Corina; the blonde couldn't understand how the brunette did it.
Abby opened her eyes on the party. She and Corina were eighteen years old, and they were surrounded by friends of both sexes, temporarily freed from the burden -- or support, depending on how one looked at it -- of parental supervision.
Because the two girls were always together, it wasn't possible, strictly speaking, to be a friend of one and not the other. However, if Abby were to make a hypothetical distinction, she was confident nearly all of the teens around them were Corina's friends -- hers only by association. The only person she knew she could depend on looked back at her from the other side of the twin birthday cakes.
What was Corina's secret? Abby wondered for perhaps the millionth time. It wasn't hotness; they'd looked in mirrors more than once and agreed (objectively) they were equally well-equipped to tease boys, although the analysis was strictly academic. Both girls were far more interested in studying the attractions of Justin Bieber (maybe just a little too young) and Justin Timberlake (probably a little too old).
Not that it made any difference in the real world. If they ever did meet one of the Justins, Abby knew Corina would be the one to score an autograph or maybe even a kiss, and Abby would be the one with the shy half-wave standing in the background.
She didn't come from a broken household, didn't have abusive parents or siblings, or any dark memories from her childhood. Maybe it was just DNA that made her an introvert and Corina so outgoing.
It hadn't really bothered Abby until recently. She always had Corina, who knew her as well as she knew herself. The vivacious brunette was always ready to round up a few acquaintances for any occasion that demanded them -- such as an eighteenth birthday party. But Abby had started thinking about the future, and it looked a little less sunny.
She'd be headed to college in the fall. Of course Corina was going to State too, but Abby had started to think it was time to grow up. She was lukewarm on the idea of having a boyfriend, but the idea of starting college without having been on a date or kissed a boy seemed... lame. What would happen if she met the man who was supposed to be the love of her life and was too shy to say, "Hi?"
It wasn't a problem Corina would have. Abby was pretty sure her friend was still a virgin, but if even half of her deliciously scandalous stories were true, chances of that lasting past their first freshman semester were slim. Abby didn't think that Corina was a slut, but she was envious of her friend's casual interactions.
Abby's eyes slid sideways to where Scott was sitting next to Corina; he was the boy of the month. A few minutes earlier, he'd made a teasing allusion to getting both Abby and Corina in bed together. They'd all shrieked with laughter, and laughed even harder after hearing Abby's bitingly clever retort. Everybody knew it wasn't serious.
If Scott had approached Abby in the hallway and asked if she wanted to see a movie, her mouth and brain would have been frozen solid. Most of the time, Corina would step in and cover for her. It was embarrassing.
The blonde looked into her friend's eyes again. They'd talked about it, of course. Corina had even tried setting her up -- twice -- but both times, it had been a total disaster. For some reason, just the thought of intimacy with a boy -- and not even physical intimacy! -- was beyond Abby's ability to process.
She just needed a test run, a little warm-up to break the ice and get herself over the mental block that had bedeviled her for so long. One kiss, just for practice, and she'd know it could be done and be past that awkward first time. Abby knew it couldn't be a boy; that would be totally uncool, not to mention totally embarrassing. There was only one logical candidate.
Corina's lips looked full and glossy. Not exactly inviting, no matter what Katy Perry said. But she wouldn't give Abby shit about it, or not too much, anyway, and she'd understand. It wouldn't get around school that they were lezzies. The only remaining problem was that Abby just couldn't work up the nerve to do it.
At least she wasn't running in circles and gibbering, just thinking about it. There was no way she could just run up and plant one on her friend, but even asking was hard. Abby had tried, more than once, but she'd locked up every time. She couldn't go on putting it off forever!
Now just might be her chance. Abby smiled at Corina and looked down at the cake in front of her, topped by a single candle in the shape of the number "18." The thought was lame, but maybe it would be the mental push she needed. She already had everything else she wanted, anyway.
Abby closed her eyes and wished. She wasn't demanding or unrealistic or egotistical. Only a single kiss, the matter of a minute, to help her get to the life she wanted to live. She wished to kiss Corina, to feel what it was like, to learn how to do it properly, and build her confidence.
The blonde tried to picture it in her mind. It couldn't be just a peck on the cheek, but they didn't have to embrace. Well, maybe a bit of an embrace; otherwise, what would she do with her arms? Abby imagined their arms circling each other, but not pulling too hard. Maybe she should run a hand through Corina's hair?
She'd have to use some tongue. The boys would expect it, and she didn't want to seem clumsy. How did you stick your tongue in somebody else's mouth while they were doing the same to you? The girls in Abby's mental construct obediently parted their lips like in the movies, tongues obviously probing even if she couldn't see what they were doing.
Abby imagined she'd keep her eyes closed, like the heroine, but then changed her mind. Maybe later, but for that all-important first time, she wanted them open. That way she could see what Corina was doing, and emulate it. They'd stare into each other's eyes, seeing the passion simmering in their partner's soul.
Well, in some boy's soul. The idea of Corina crushing on her was laughable, and a little icky. It would be nice if Corina told her she was a good kisser; that would be enough. A single kiss, just for practice. It was a silly wish, a crutch for her shaky self-confidence.
The blonde opened her eyes, pursed her lips, and blew. The flame atop the candle flickered and went out, leaving a tiny wisp of smoke. Abby had seen some of their friends whispering and smiling, so she reached out and pinched the wick between a pair of fingers before it could relight.
Scott laughed out loud; Corina's eyes grew as large as saucers, and she blinked rapidly.
Abby almost panicked. She prayed her face hadn't been too transparent; what if Corina thought Abby was attracted to her that way? It would be horrible! No; it had to be something else. Abby needed to believe that or she'd never get the courage to ask for the kiss. She smiled nervously at Corina, trying to ignore the lump in her stomach.
Corina smiled back at her, and then quickly blew out the candle topping her own cake. Following Abby's lead, the brunette crushed out the smoldering wick before it could relight and steal away her wish. She looked up at Abby.
Hazel eyes, verging on green.
Abby could feel herself falling into those eyes. Suddenly she didn't feel nervous about kissing Corina at all. In fact, she was looking forward to it.
Really looking forward to it. Abby wondered what Corina had wished for. The way her friend kept looking at her was making Abby wet. One kiss, just for practice. After that... maybe they could practice other things together.
Corina blew her a kiss. Oh, definitely. Abby didn't know why she'd worried about it. She blew a kiss back in return. They'd be so hot together, she could hardly wait.