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I ended up running late for Kendra and Kyle’s party. It might have been intentional on my part. I just didn’t want to face Nick after we shared that kiss this afternoon. Just thinking about it gave me butterflies in my stomach. There was no way Nick could make me feel this way. It was just because I hadn’t kissed a guy for a long while. God, I sounded pathetic. I was a beautiful, intelligent woman. I didn’t need a man to tell me that.

The party was in full swing when I entered the backyard. Kendra and Kyle were mingling with the guests, but Kendra spotted me and excused herself from Nick and some girl that I assumed was his date.

“Where have you been? You’re never late for anything.” Kendra stared at me.

“Oh, Celeste called me, and I couldn’t get her off the phone. You know how she goes on and on about AJ.” I smiled as I lied to my best friend. I hope that she would buy my BS.

“That’s funny since Celeste called me to congratulate me on my engagement not to long ago. What gives?” Kendra sipped her wine.

“Nothing.” I looked away and saw Nick dancing with his blonde bombshell. Why was I feeling jealous?” “Nothing is wrong.”

“Oh, it’s Nick. What happened today? He said you left pretty quickly this afternoon.”

“Ummm…..I got laid off from my job, so I was upset. Nickkindakissedme.” I mumbled the last part.

“Excuse me? Did you just say what I thought you did?” Kendra asked while shaking me.

“Stop. Yes, Nick kissed me this afternoon.” The waiter came past and I grabbed a glass of wine.

“And you enjoyed it and got weirded out, didn’t you?” Kendra laughed at me.

“It’s not funny. Sure he’s a great kisser, but there’s nothing going on. He was feeling sorry for me.” I explained more to myself than my best friend. The thing was I didn’t believe what I was saying.

“Sophie, I think you and Nick like each other a little more than you like to let on. He doesn’t just kiss anyone. From what Kyle has told me; Nick hasn’t been in a serious relationship for over a year.”

“Yes, but he’s still dating and hooking up. Look at the woman he’s with today. She’s beautiful and sexy. I’m neither of those things. Why would Nick want me?” I giggled unsurely.

“Just because he brought a date doesn’t mean anything. Kyle also told me Nick hasn’t gotten any in the past six months.” She gave me a hug. “I’m going to go socialize. Go talk to him.”

I watched Kendra walk away. I drank the rest of my wine in one swallow. It was liquid courage for me, but I still wasn’t going to talk to Nick. I was embarrassed for running away this afternoon. I wasn’t a little girl anymore. It was easier to avoid him.

Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like talking to anyone. I just wanted to be alone. I made my into the pool house. I looked around trying to make sense of what Kendra told me. I guess it didn’t matter what she told me about Nick. I didn’t have feelings for Nick. Sure, I didn’t hate him as much as everyone thought I did.

The closing of the door caught me off guard. I turned around and saw Nick standing there. “What are you doing?”

“I wanted to talk to you.” Nick moved closer to me.

I was nervous and smoothed down my dress. Usually I was ready to make a smart comment, but tonight nothing would come out.

“Soph, you look beautiful tonight.” He placed a loose strand of hair behind my ear.

“Nick, don’t.” I backed away from him.

“Why are you afraid of me?” He sat down on the arm of the couch.

“I’m not afraid of you. I just don’t like you.” I responded sharply. There was no reason to be mean, but I couldn’t let my guard down when it came to Nick.

He looked taken aback. “You could have fooled me with the way you kissed me back this afternoon.”

“Nick I was vulnerable and you played with my emotions.” I started pacing. Which is what I did every time I was nervous. Why was I letting him make me feel this way? I needed to stay in control.

“Don’t make me laugh.” He scoffed. “You know you liked it. That’s why you ran away.”

“I hate you. You always think you know everything.” I huffed and puffed.

“Just stop it, Sophia. We aren’t in middle school anyone. I don’t understand why you’ve hated me all these years.” He moved in front of me to stop my pacing.

“You wouldn’t get it.” I tried to move away, but Nick held my arms so I couldn’t leave. “Let go of me.”

“Not until you tell me the truth.”

“Fine you want to know the truth.” I was irritated, but I was going to give it to him. “I’m still mad at you because you didn’t want to kiss me when we were playing spin the bottle in middle school, and then you told everyone you wouldn’t kiss a girl like me.”

I watched Nick’s expressions. I thought for sure he was going to laugh in my face. I waited and not a sound came out of his mouth. He eyed me carefully, before he began to speak. He lessened the space between us. In fact he was so close I could feel his breath on my skin. It gave me chills.

“Sophia. Oh, Soph. You got it all wrong.” His hands moved my waist.

“But I heard what you said.”

“I was thirteen. I had the biggest crush on you. Back then I was stupid and immature. I was afraid to kiss you.” Nick’s head moved down to mine. His lips grazed mine in a quick peck. I sucked on his bottom lip not wanting the smoothness of his lips to disappear from my own.

We got lost in each other. The things I was feeling I never had before. It was like my body was awakening. I couldn’t believe Nick Carter was making me feel this way. I stepped back from him.

“We can’t do this.” I started to panic.

“Why not? We have good, no we have great chemistry.” He gave me that trademark smile.

“I’m not going to be like every woman and sleep with you because we have so-called chemistry.” I would not be one of his little groupies.

“You aren’t like them.” Nick took my hands and placed in his. “I think I still like you. I think you like me, too.”

“What makes you say that?” I raised an eyebrow at him.

“Because I see it in your eyes. I felt in the way you kiss me.”  He placed a kiss on my nose. “I think we need to see where this chemistry leads us.”

“What about your date?” I questioned.

“Veronica isn’t my date. She’s an ex-girlfriend of one of my buddies. We walked in together, but that’s it.” Nick moved his hands from mine and ran one finger down my arm causing me to shiver.

“Nick I’m not going to sleep with you. I’m going to head back to the party.” I spun around and walked out of the pool house.