Author’s Note: This is a favorite flashback of mine. I couldn’t resist writing it, and it was one of the first ones I wrote for this story.
“Hannah dumped me. She says I kiss like a wet fish.”
Enya snorted, unable to stop herself from laughing. He glared at her, and she kept on laughing. She couldn’t help it. This was priceless. She knew she’d told him not to come to her when Hannah broke up with him, but if that was the idiot’s reason for it, well, Enya was going to laugh about it for a long time. Hannah was so stupid. She should have known. “You’re water. Of course you’d feel wet somehow. I’m surprised you don’t smell like fish and all that anyway.”
Cress gave her a dark look, and Enya wanted to laugh some more, but she had to stop herself when she saw hurt in his eyes. She’d heard him defend Hannah before, but she hadn’t realized how serious he was about their relationship. “You… You really liked her, didn’t you?”
He shrugged. “None of us has any business mixing with normals. I shouldn’t care.”
“That doesn’t mean you don’t.” Enya knew he did. He cared a lot more than he should. Always.
He lowered his head. “I wish I didn’t. I know you don’t like her, but she was different with me. She’s… nice. Sweet and kind and nothing like us. We’re all screwed up by what we can do. She’s not. I envy her that.”
Enya shrugged. She did her best to keep herself normal, unlike the others. Cress was probably the worst of them, as much as he knew about what he did and how he did it, the way he seemed so much like his element most of the time. “Well, it could be worse. You could kiss like Sherwin. He sucks the air right out of you.”
Cress frowned. “What would you know about that?”
She stiffened. She hadn’t meant to tell anyone about that. It was still humiliating, the way he’d used her when they were younger, the way he’d abandoned her this time. “Nothing.”
Cress sighed. He always knew when she was lying. “I know you won’t listen, but… you shouldn’t get involved with him. I don’t have the right to tell you that, but I know things about him, and maybe he’ll grow out of it, but right now, he’s just… selfish.”
She pulled her knees up against her chest. She was aware of that. He hadn’t even bothered to get a new girl this time. He’d just let her go after her family died, afraid she’d kill him next. “Yeah, I know. It’s already over. Don’t worry about it.”
She felt Cress’ hand on hers and looked up at him. He gave her a slight smile as his touch soothed her. She almost smiled back, but then he spoke. “It was cruel of me to think it, but if we all kiss like our elements, then yours should burn. That would almost have been what he deserved.”
She was torn between laughing in agreement and the horror of the idea. “I’d never be able to kiss anyone if that was how it worked with me. I’d kill them.”
“No, you wouldn’t.”
“I’d hurt them.”
“Not all of them.”
She froze. “What… I… This—Cress, you’re not really thinking about kissing me right now, are you? You wouldn’t. Even if I was burning people and someone attuned to water was the only person I could have, that wouldn’t mean that you’d have to do that.”
“No one said I had to.”
She nodded, glad that was over. She didn’t need to cross that line with him, too. Bad enough what she’d done with Sherwin. She didn’t want to think about how stupid she’d been—again. She closed her eyes, and then she felt Cress’ hand on her cheek a second before his lips were on hers, and she wanted to pull away but at the same time, she didn’t.
How could Hannah have thought he was like a wet fish? Ever? She was such a moron. No, he was a refreshing drink on a hot day, one that Enya just couldn’t get enough of, and she didn’t care if she drowned. She wanted to drink all of him.
He sat back, and she stared at him, trying to summon words. He fidgeted. “Not like a wet fish?”
“Good.” He rose, putting his hands in his pockets. “I’ll… Um, I’ll see you around.”
“So that was just an experiment?”
He turned back to look at her. “I… Well, you… It’s not like you’re interested in me, are you?”
She never had been before, and she didn’t want to let that kiss change anything. Cress was different. He was better than the rest of them and off-limits to the screw up, not that she’d thought about him that way until now. She wanted her ignorance back. “No.”
“Then… it was an experiment. I figured you were in a position to know what was good and what wasn’t, since you have a bit of experience, maybe more than I do, so… We’ll just leave it at that.”