My Birthday Gift


It was my last summer before I left home for good. Of course, I didn’t know that then. I just thought I’d be going off to college and then coming back home for the summers, just like my older sister and her friends did. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be welcomed back. But, that is a story for a different day. The bad memories are better left alone. It’s the good memories I want to concentrate on today, the memory of the day of my birth.

“Hey there, birthday girl. What are you doing out here all by yourself?”

Laura had let herself into the backyard so many times over the years that Sophie, our large chocolate lab mix, didn’t even greet her with more than a slight chuff and a few wags of her tail. As my sister’s best friend walked through the privacy fence’s gate, the early summer sun lit her up and picked out the reddish highlights in her dark curly mane. It was the late eighties and big hair was in.

I would have thought that I wouldn’t react much to Laura’s unexpected arrival either. After 15 years or more, you’d think that I’d be used to her. But, lately, whenever she walked in, my skin seemed to catch fire while my insides turned to ice. I had to concentrate to be able to talk to her properly. My palms turned sweaty. It didn’t make any sense to me, but I found that I kinda liked it.

I liked watching her walk into the pool area as well. Her electric blue bikini top was peeking out around the edges of the sparkly beige gossamer tank top she was wearing. Her cut-off denim shorts accentuated the slight swell of her hips. The way the fabrics clung to her twenty year-old curves mesmerized me. Laura was only two years older than me, but what a difference those two years seemed to make.

Tearing my gaze away from her gorgeous body, I tried to form a coherent sentence.

“Uh, well, I guess I’m alone. I mean, Sophie’s here. And you’re here now. So, maybe I’m not really alone?” I cringed at the slight squeak in my voice.

Did I mention that thinking around Laura was difficult? She smiled at me and it felt like my heart had stopped. Shaking her head, Laura continued her questions.

“I mean besides me and Sophie, you silly rabbit. Where’s your sister Jennifer at, where’s your Mom and Dad?”

Laura sat down sideways on the lounger next to mine, her knees almost touching the side of my leg where I had it stretched out as I lay there reading my book. If I moved just a little bit, I could “accidentally” brush her skin with mine.

I had already dressed in my swimsuit that morning, anticipating a lazy swim later on, after the sun had warmed up the water in the pool just a little. Of course, I didn’t fill out my little black bikini as nicely Laura did her blue one. But, I had caught one or two boys looking my way when I had gone out to the lake with my family a couple of weeks back. Their stares did not excite me the way even a spare glance from Laura could.

The thought of touching her skin sent a thrill through me, but it seemed like a bad idea. After all, I’m sure she’d just move away. So, I stayed where I was and pretended to go back to reading my book while throwing off a short answer to her last question.

“At work. They’re all at work Starzbet today.”

“On your birthday? That’s not very nice.” I snuck a peek around the pages of my book at the slight frown on Laura’s face. The sunlight on her face emphasized her naturally rosy cheeks. Or maybe it was just really well done make-up. I was too young at that time to tell the difference.

“So, when will Jennifer be back?”

Giving up the ruse, I put my book down. It’s not like I could concentrate on reading anyway. I was better off concentrating on what my mouth said.

“Today’s Jennifer’s long day, so she’s actually at work for the entire day today. She won’t be back until this afternoon sometime, just before Mom and Dad get home.”

“So, you’re here by yourself?” I could have sworn we’d just covered that, but I guess my first answer was a little confusing. Luckily, the more I talked to Laura, the easier it got.

“Yep, just me and Sophie.”

The dog raised her head at my mention of her. I thought Sophie might get up, but she just looked at me, waited to see if I said anything more about her, then lowered her head again, going back to her mid-morning snooze. Laura adjusted the way she was sitting on the lounger and her right knee barely grazed the outside of my left thigh. I felt a jolt of electricity spark from where our skin met right down to the very center of me and I had to learn how to breath again.

“So, I guess they all forgot that it was your birthday today, huh?”

I saw Laura’s mouth move, but couldn’t wrap my head around her words. “I’m sorry, what did you say?”

The small grin that had been teasing up the corners of Laura’s perfectly pink lips widened a little and she moved her leg away again. I shivered slightly with the after shocks. But, at least I was able to breath and think again.

“I asked if they forgot it was your birthday, Candi.”

I shook my head, both as an answer and to help clear out the cobwebs. “No, they remembered. It’s just that nobody was able to get the day off today.” I tried my best to imitate my dad’s gruff voice. “‘Bills have to be paid, you know.'”

Laura chuckled at the familiar line. Encouraged, I plowed ahead.

“We’re having a little family party here tonight. Uncle John and Aunt Susan are coming around. There’ll be cake, and ice cream, and everything. You’re welcome to come as well, Laura. I mean, you may as well be family.”

Laura winked mischievously at me and raised an eyebrow. “I’ll have to look at my planner, Candi. I’m a busy girl, ya’ know.”

I couldn’t tell if she was serious or not, but there was a twinkle in her eye that made me think it might be a joke. Then that spark melted away and was replaced by a look that was more serious, more intense. The sun was still shining on her face, but I could have sworn that Laura’s pupils got larger instead of smaller as I would have expected in the sunlight. The contrast between their darkness and the smoky grey-green of her irises was wonderful to see.

“Actually, I was hoping I’d find you alone, Candice. I have a gift for you, but it’s not really the sort of thing I can give you with anyone else around.”

Her eyebrows drew together and Starzbet Giriş she seemed to consider something. Suddenly, Laura stood up and stretched her arms over her head, shaking them out a little as she lowered them back down again.

“Hey, do you want to go for a swim?”

The sudden switch in topics threw me for a loop. I didn’t really want to go swimming yet, not before the water had a chance to warm up more. On the other hand, a good dose of cold water might be just the remedy I needed to get rid of the lingering cobwebs that were left after that brush of her knee on my leg.

I was confused on so many levels. Why should a simple touch from someone I’d known virtually my entire life have so much of an affect on me? What could she possibly want to give me that my family couldn’t see? Why had she switched the subject so abruptly?

To say I was a little naive at eighteen was putting it mildly.

I sprung up out of my chair with the speed of youth and pretended that I actually wanted to go in the water.

“Sure, I could go for a swim.” Hopefully, my false enthusiasm and the goofy smile I plastered on my face were convincing.

I guess they must have been, because the next thing I knew, Laura was stripping out of her glittering gossamer top and the blue jeans shorts, revealing her matching electric blue bikini bottoms and the light sprinkling of freckles that the beginnings of her usual summer tan had not yet covered. The sight of so much of her bare skin froze me to the spot I was standing in. Surely my own skin must have been bathed in flames.

I just stood there, frozen in place, until Laura broke the spell by yelling at me playfully and splashing water up at me from her position on the steps of the pool.

“Come on, slow poke! You’re already dressed for the water. You should have been in this pool before I was, Candi!”

Oh, yeah. We were going swimming. I’d almost forgotten.

Sophie groaned to herself as she begrudgingly got up and moved to the other side of the pool. Apparently, she must have been caught by some of Laura’s spray. Either that or we were being too loud for her and were disturbing her slumber. In any case, I’m sure she thought of us as a couple of recalcitrant pups.

I managed to move as well and finally made my way over to the steps. Of course, it’s hard to get into a pool without getting wet, but I tried to, taking my time as I slowly descended into the pool. Cold water was really not my favorite.

But then the notion of trying to impress Laura with my diving skills popped into my head. I should have known better, but once the thought was there, it seemed like a good idea. I went from tiptoeing into the water to trying to run and gracefully dive into the pool.

Of course, that didn’t work out very well. Instead of doing anything graceful at all, I ended up tripping over my own feet and had to save myself by pretending to have purposefully belly-flopped into the three foot deep water.

“Are you okay, Candice?” Laura stood there in the water that just came up to her waist, her hair and top half still dry. She looked both concerned and amused.

Coming up out of the water, I shivered Starzbet Güncel Giriş and tried to pull my short wet hair behind my ears. Dark brown strands of it kept getting in my eyes.

“Yeah, I’m fine, Laura. Just figured I’d jump right in and be done with it.” I tried to turn the flop into a joke. “Didn’t want you to beat me at getting in over your head.”

“Oh, I had you beat at that a long time ago, girlfriend!” With that Laura dove in herself, much more artfully than I had done.

She came up just a foot or so in front of me, stood up, closed her eyes, and tilted her head backwards, letting the natural force of gravity pull her long, wet hair back away from her face.

Laura was close enough that I found myself fascinated by a certain bead of water as it made its way down the side of her neck and then followed the natural curve of her collar bone. From there, the glistening drop slowly trickled down into her cleavage, leaving me staring at Laura’s firm, round breasts. The paleness of them contrasted beautifully with the two small wet triangles of electric blue fabric they were encased in. As I watched, I could see Laura’s nipples hardening beneath the cold cloth. I think I may have licked my lips, but I’m not really sure.

“So, about that birthday gift I have for you, Candice.”

Oh my God, how long had I been staring? Shaking my head, I forced myself to meet Laura’s gaze. The twinkle in her eyes from earlier was back and she was grinning so wide that the dimples she usually tried to hide were actually showing.

“Have you ever been kissed, Candice?” The serious look from earlier seemed to be coming back again as well. Laura started walking towards me, her eyes focused on mine, her pupils fully dilated. I went from not being able to form a proper sentence to babbling almost incoherently. The closer she got, the worse I seemed to get.

“Um, no, not really. I mean there was this one game of ‘spin the bottle’ at my friend Jessica’s house last winter. She was having a birthday party. I don’t think she got the rules right. And anyway, I’m not sure if that counts. It was pecks on the lips mostly. At least my kisses were. So, I don’t think that really counts at all. Especially since most of the kisses I had were with other girls. So, um, no. I think the answer is no.”

By the time I finally finished talking, Laura was mere inches away from me. I could feel the heat radiating off her body. Even after the dunking in the pool, I found myself enveloped in a scent that was uniquely hers; roses and patchouli and a hint of orange blossom. I knew I must be wrong, but it seemed like it was my mouth she was focused on instead of my eyes as I had thought. “So, you’re not averse to kissing girls, then?”

If I had thought my skin was on fire earlier, then by now it must surely be burning to a crisp. I lost the ability to form words altogether and just shook my head instead.

Laura closed the last little bit of distance between us and I suddenly found her face directly in front of my own. Her lips were close enough that I could see the little flecks of glitter that were part of her lip gloss. I know I licked my lips this time. I just couldn’t seem to help it.

“Happy birthday, Candice.”

With those words, Laura slid her hands along my chin and up into my wet hair, pulling my own face even closer to hers. Involuntarily, I closed my eyes. And then I felt the most amazing softness as Laura’s lips met mine.