feminine curves, and she was maybe an inch shorter than Erin’s five-foot eight.
She wore tight jeans and an old band T-shirt that was a little snug, accentuating the perfection that was Melanie Winters.
In that moment, I knew I would never be the same.
Erin cleared her throat.
“Um, Melanie, this is my brother, Daniel.
Daniel...Melanie.” She gestured between the two of us, but it was unnecessary. I was already on my way down the stairs. It was as if there was a magnet drawing me to her.
Even if I had tried, I couldn’t have walked away. I reached for Melanie’s hand, not to shake it but to hold it in mine.
The warmth of her skin traveled through my body. It was relaxing, but exciting at the same time.
Melanie looked at our hands, then back to my face and smiled timidly. “Hi.” The sound of her voice sent a shiver rolling through my body.
“Hi.” I smiled back, still unable to look away.
“So, Melanie, are you hungry or anything?” Erin sounded cautious, almost awkward.
Melanie glanced at me, pensive, before slowly withdrawing her hand. “Sure.”
For the first time in my life, I felt empty as I watched her walk away, trailing Erin through the door and into the kitchen.
Not quite willing to return to my room, I dropped onto the couch, picked up the remote, and flipped on the game I’d been watching upstairs. Melanie and Erin’s voices carried through the thin barrier of the kitchen door, muted, yet distinct of each other. Erin’s laugh was hearty, substantial, while Melanie’s came soft and gentle, though not inhibited or shy. She sounded comfortable. Quietly confident.
It took me about five minutes to decide I was hungry, too.
Silence fell over the kitchen as I stepped in.
Melanie and Erin turned to look at me from the small breakfast table where they ate potato chips and drank soda. Melanie’s face spread into a warm smile.
God, she was so beautiful.
I held her gaze for a moment before I shook myself out of it and walked across the kitchen to get something to drink. I could feel her eyes on me as I leaned into the fridge and grabbed a soda, and they met mine when I turned to face her, unfailing as I took two steps toward the door.
I knew I should, but I just couldn’t leave the room.
“Erin.” I looked at my sister, my eyes pleading, hoping she would understand that I was asking her to leave Melanie and me alone.
She did. “I’m supposed to be at work at five. I should get ready.” She stood up, looking awkwardly between Melanie and me. I flashed a thankful smile.
Melanie stood as if she were going to leave.
I almost panicked.
“Can you stay?” My voice came out sounding desperate.
What looked like relief swept over Melanie’s face, and she nodded.
“I’ll see you soon, Melanie?” Erin asked as if she were trying to gauge what Melanie wanted.
She turned to my sister, giving her a hug. “Yeah, I would like that. Thank you for inviting me over.” Her voice was soft and kind, sincere. Erin grinned at us, her eyes glinting with approval and just a little smugness as Melanie stepped to my side.
No doubt, I was going to hear it from my baby sister later.
The door swung closed behind Erin, leaving us alone.
I stood inches from her, staring into the warmth of her green eyes, feeling emotions I’d never felt before.
This time, she reached for me, her hand moving to grasp my index finger.
I closed my eyes, trying to make sense of what was happening between us.
My eyes flickered open to find hers studying my face as if she were memorizing every line. I intertwined our fingers, squeezing her hand, telling her without words that I felt it too.
I held onto her hand as I led her out of the kitchen and up the stairs, sneaking glances back at her to make sure she was real.
We spent the afternoon in my room just getting to know each other.
I learned she was fifteen and would be sixteen in April, ten months younger and a grade behind me.
I hung on her every word as she told