buckets of self confidence

With a taste of your lips

Lutteoficweek Day 6: „You’re offering to give me a kiss if I buy your shitty fundraiser popcorn. Well, in that case…”

Planned a bit over 1k words, now it’s 2.2k words and I have no idea how this happened but it’s my favourite prompt. And a big Thank you to @maybe-tiika for proofreading!

Matteo had no idea why he allowed Gastón to drag him to this movie night in the first place. A regular movie night would have been just fine, but what person in their right mind went to their university on the weekend, movie night or not? Shouldn’t he be spared from this place at least on the last two days of the week?

“Gastón, this better be fun as you promised or else I’ll get you a dictionary for your birthday”, he announced as they entered the campus.

“A dictionary? Why?”

“So you can look up the meaning of the word fun, of course.”

A grin slipped on the other boy’s face. “I wonder if you are seriously mad for seeing this place on a weekend day… or are you actually just bummed because your little moon declined to come with you?” Matteo sent him a grim look, hoping it’d be enough to shut him up. “She didn’t decline.”

Gastón only laughed more. “Really? Then I guess she shrunk in size over the past week – hey, is that her in your pocket or your phone?”

For a second, Matteo considered to leave him standing there and just go home. With Gastón in this kind of mood, this evening could only get worse.

“Haha, very funny. She told me she had plans for the weekend, so I didn’t ask.” At that, his best friend stopped, hands theatrically clasped over his mouth in shock. Or at least, pretended shock. “No way! Hand me my calendar”, he demanded, “I need to mark the day Matteo Balsano is too scared to ask a girl out!”

“I’m not scared”, Matteo argued right away. Him, too scared to ask Luna out, what a ridiculous concept. (Except maybe there was some tiny, tiny truth to it, since this little girl messed with his body and soul. Never had he felt anything like this before.)

They walked into the hallway, where Matteo’s attempts to defend himself turned out to be pointless. As soon as Gastón discovered Nina, he didn’t listen but walked off, his best friend completely forgotten. “I guess I see you there, then?”, Matteo shouted. Then he looked around, hoping to find someone he knew, someone to pass the time with. And when he did, he suddenly didn’t mind being in this place on a Saturday anymore.

She barely had turned her back around to check on the popcorn machine when a voice she recognized too well appeared behind her.

“If this isn’t my chica delivery trying to save the world again. What is it about this time?”

She whirled around to face him, only to find a grin on his lips. Of course he was grinning, that’s what Matteo Balsano was constantly doing around her, along with throwing around teasing comments like they were waiting desperately to get out of his mouth.

“Climate change”, she replied, “You know, saving the polar bears.”

Matteo’s eyes discovered the baby bear on her t-shirt, right below her chest and relief washed over her since those fundraiser t-shirts were always too big for her. Thinking how it’d look on her if the shirt fitted just a little bit tighter and how he’d look at her… it was too much.

“So, this is what you were planning to do this weekend?” The question surprised her. “You seem oddly interested in my weekend plans lately.” Maybe she imagined the way his face fell before he answered.

“Well, how am I supposed to save or help you if I don’t know what you’re up to?” She shrugged. “Fair point, chico fresa.” However, she was unable to shake the feeling – and the hope – there was more to it than he wanted to admit.

With one hand, Luna grabbed a half-filled bag of popcorn and waved it in front of Matteo’s face. “You could help me right now, you know.” His fingers already in the bag to steal some popcorn, he replied: “How? By buying popcorn? I’ve heard worse things.”
“You’re impossible”, she complained but laughed as his chuckle turned into a grimace. “I take it you don’t like salty popcorn?”

Matteo took a step back, the disgust visible in his expressions. “Don’t like it? This is the worst popcorn I’ve ever had! I’m sorry, chica delivery, but I think I’ll pass this time.”

“Isn’t this important to you?”, Luna pouted, if only to make him stay some more moments. “Oh, it is”, he said, sweeping a rebellious curl out of his face, “I just don’t see why I should ruin my taste buds because of it.”

She sighed. Around them, more and more students walked towards the lecture hall in which the faculty had set up the big screen. The movie started soon and she had to focus again on selling popcorn, not on flirting with a cute Italian boy. Luna knew she should let him go, she knew it, but she hadn’t seen him in the last two days and the curl fell back into his face, distracting her and he gave her a dizzy sensation in her stomach that felt good. In a weird way, but good nonetheless.

“Are you really that serious?”, she gave it one last shot. All she got in return was an offended: “Luna, please, this isn’t sweet at all!” Matteo paused, almost thoughtful. Then, he winked at her, causing her knees to tremble. “And you know how much I like sweet things.”

“I could kiss you.”

The words left her mouth too quickly. In fact, even her own brain took some time to catch up. However, when it did, her words hit her hard. By the surprised expression on Matteo’s face, she wasn’t the only one.

“Excuse me?”

“Uh, well, I mean, I…”, she stuttered. Her whole face heated up like a wildfire. “I said I could kiss you? Only if you buy some popcorn, of course!” Luna seriously doubted this made the situation any better, any more bearable, but it was the only idea she got to save herself.

Matteo returned her stare for a few seconds. His huge brown eyes drew her in, made her forget about the world and she blamed them and that stupid sexy wink for her verbal outburst. If only she knew what laid behind them, what he was thinking…

A mischievous smile spread on Matteo’s lips and he leaned closer. Her heart skipped a beat. “One bucket of popcorn, then.”

“A bu… a whole bucket?”

“Of course”, Matteo stated, back to his usual confident self, “For the polar bears, right?”

Her fingers were slightly shaking as she handed him the bucket. Too much embarrassment rushed through her veins to look at him. Surely, he smirked, like the chico fresa he was, and fought back a stupid comment and what had she done?

“Hey, Luna”, he called for her attention. She tilted her head until her eyes met his. The smile he gave her was too much, too bright. Too troubling for her heart. “I can’t wait to try it.”

Half an hour after the movie had started, Luna still struggled to believe she had offered Matteo a kiss. Matteo Balsano. A kiss. Why hadn’t she kept her mouth shut?

Not that the thought of kissing the chico fresa was a horrible one, though. On the contrary, recently she indulged in that fantasy many more times than she cared to admit out loud. It happened during lectures, late at night under her blanket or during one of his hugs, when he pulled her a centimeter closer than necessary. And every time she went through the same physical reaction: her mind drifted far, far away, the butterflies in her stomach awakened and spread out through her body until the feeling reached her fingertips.

It didn’t help either that Matteo constantly turned around to her. Sometimes he had a smile on his face, sometimes he winked at her and sometimes he just gave a long, longing look out of these dark big brown eyes.

I can’t wait to try it.

If he kissed like he teased, the chances of her surviving that kiss were humiliatingly slim. By the stars, he knew how to drive her crazy.

The credits rolled, the lights slowly got brighter and Matteo found it impossibly hard to stay on his seat. He fidgeted so much, Gastón already rolled his eyes at him. But Luna’s words played in his head, back and forth, until he no longer thought of anything else. I could kiss you.

Automatically, his head turned around to search for his small chica delivery and that’s when his best friend had enough. “Oh, please, just go to her, you’re like an overly excited puppy and I can’t handle this any longer. Why are you even that excited? I thought you two already talked earlier.”

“I’m not a puppy”, Matteo muttered, having only listened half-heartedly. “Right, you’re a wolf”, Gastón said, now smirking. With a glare at the moon outside, he howled.

“I can’t believe I still call you my best friend.” The other boy laughed again, “I’m sure, deep down you know it’s funny too. And you haven’t told me yet what you are so excited about… did something happen that you might want to tell me?” Right that second Matteo discovered Luna, knowing the timing couldn’t be any better. He jumped up. “I’m sorry, I can’t, she promised me something earlier and I have to go now, see you later!”

He pretended he didn’t see how his best friend wriggled his eyebrows before he walked towards Luna.

“So, chica delivery, I’m awaiting my order.”

She jumped at his sudden appearance behind her. Perhaps she should have known better after she lost sight of him in the crowd. He occasionally managed to startle her like this, like it was some hidden talent to silently sneak up on people. Noticing the impatient sparkle in his eyes, her knees began to tremble already.

“You already got your popcorn”, she stammered.

“Mh, we both know I’m not talking about popcorn.” His gaze dropped to her lips, inspecting them as if they were a masterpiece in an art museum. Carefully, his hand reached out to her and brushed a loose strand behind her ear.

She felt her lungs working hard in her chest, pumping and burning, and she felt her lips curling up to form a smile. She felt her brain shutting down too. She was all feelings now.

At least she was until someone peaked over Matteo’s shoulder and howled so loud, they both shrieked up and snapped out of it. However, that person was gone as quickly as they had walked in on them.

“What the… was that Gastón? What was he doing?”, Luna asked while Matteo only rolled his eyes. “Basically he’s doing what he does all the time: bad jokes.”

She already hated herself for this, but if she wanted at least a bit of privacy, they needed to leave this place. “Okay, maybe we should go somewhere quieter”, she suggested, intertwining their fingers. She tried to blend out the sharp breath Matteo drew in. (Unsuccessfully.)

“A storage room, nice. A little bit cliché though, don’t you think?”

“Oh, shut up.” Despite the dimmed lights, Luna registered Matteo’s smirk. It was impossible to miss and so stupid she felt the urge to wipe it away. Why did he have to make this harder and more mortifying than it already was? “You could make me”, he whispered.

It’s just a kiss, she told herself, knowing it was a blatant lie. Just a kiss, no big deal.

Slowly, she raised her hand and rested it on his neck, pulling him closer. He gladly followed her silent demand, eyes closed, the smirk gone. His breath tickled her skin. The dizziness in her stomach went off the charts.

And then she lost her courage.

She lost her courage and simply pressed her lips against his cheek, a quick peck, before she broke away.

He blinked in confusion. “Wait, what?”

Frozen, she stared at him. She felt afraid, so horribly afraid, even if it was Matteo. Maybe because it was Matteo. The chico fresa, who had done this before and who didn’t freak out at the thought of kissing someone he liked. (And she liked him. So much.)

“This is how you treat me for buying the biggest bowl of popcorn you had?”

Her eyes got stuck on the curve of his mouth. “I…” A clump in her throat prevented her from continuing.

“Luna, I’m sorry, I really am, but I can’t accept that.”

Matteo leaned in, his grip strong and stable on her waist, with his lips finding hers and she stopped thinking. She stopped thinking because the sensation of his mouth moving gently on hers, of his hands pulling her closer, was overwhelming.

Looking for support, she grabbed his shirt, causing the delicate fabric to wrinkle, before her hand wandered to his cheek. In response, he brought her closer, so close she was all wrapped up against him, so close she felt his heart beating, no, racing in his chest.

He tasted a bit salty from the popcorn (and she got it, she preferred it sweet too), but there was something else too – something that lingered in his lips as they danced over hers, that delivered her straight to heaven.

I can’t wait to try it, he had told her, but Matteo didn’t kiss like he teased at all. He kissed her like he meant those words, driving her crazier now than their banters ever could. And Luna wanted to kiss him like this for the rest of her life. No matter if he bought popcorn or not.