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It’d gotten late. They had talked more than studied, but he had laughed at her jokes and eaten several of the cookies she had baked just for him. Once even their knees had touched.⁣

She considered that a successful non-date.⁣

“We should do this again soon,” she said as she led him from the kitchen table to the front door. She cringed internally at how desperate that sounded. “I mean, Johnson’s exams are notorious, so…”⁣

“Yeah.” He was shrugging on his coat. “Killer.” He ran a hand through his hair as he met her gaze.⁣

Just slay me right now, why don’t you?

She managed to stay upright as they moved to the porch. The road sloped downhill into the cityscape, so the view from her door at night always looked like Christmas. The lights looked especially magical tonight; she couldn’t help but wish for mistletoe.⁣

He thumped down the salted steps towards his car. “Remind me again how I get back to Elm Street from here?”⁣

Needing a second after being ripped from her fantasy, she tugged her cardigan tighter and exhaled a puff of white breath. “Right. Well, you head down this street towards the city, but you take a right at Edmonds. You’ll know it because the house on the corner is painted the worst lime green.”⁣

Was he smirking at her?⁣

“A-and then you’ll get to Belaire where you’ll turn left, but it forks right away so you’ll—”⁣

Still smiling, he rushed back up the steps, took her face in his hands, and kissed her.⁣

It was so sudden she could scarcely breathe. But as he moved his lips against hers she melted into him. They were so warm and soft, and tasted faintly of cookies. It wasn’t until they parted that she realized her hands were gripping his jacket and her legs were trembling.⁣

“Never mind,” he murmured, his smile crooked and perfect. As it grew, his eyes twinkled. “I’ll figure it out.”⁣

He rubbed his thumb against her cheek before letting her go, whistling back to his car. Her mind raced for a thought but couldn’t find one, so she stood there like an idiot and watched him leave, her lips still burning.⁣

It wasn’t until the car was out of sight that she realized he’d been whistling, “Mistletoe and Holly.”

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