Cameron always denied a side of herself that Jasmine unlocks on a bonfire lit beach.
|Cameron focused on the dying fire, watching the way it twisted and danced in the dark of the night, completely lulled by the beauty and soft malice it carried. Trent, drunk and obnoxious, stumbled past her, kicking sand into her lap and giggling hysterically as he chased after a barely dressed sophomore coed.
“Jerk,” she hissed, holding up her hard lemonade and dusting her lap off as best she could without getting to her feet. She didn’t want to stand up. . . honestly, four of these lemonades in and she didn’t think she could even manage. She tilted her head back and closed her eyes, listening to the drunk laughter of her classmates and the soft lull of the ocean waves kissing the sand.
When she opened her eyes, Jasmine, a stunning young woman with creamy brown skin and warm, brown eyes, sat across from the fire; holding her gaze. Cameron shifted a bit uncomfortably under the heat of those brown eyes and glanced around as if she might be looking at someone else.
Her teeth flashed white as she called out, “Do you mind if I sit next to you?” She didn’t wait for a response, but rose and flopped in the sand next to Cameron; some kind of fruity alcoholic drink in her hand.
“Um, hi,” Cameron grinned nervously. Jasmine did not hide her bisexuality and it made Cameron quite uncomfortable. Not because she disapproved, but because some part of her longed to open up as Jasmine did. If she denied it, she could pretend that she was everything her parents expected of her.
Things were getting too deep and Jasmine hadn’t even said “hi” back. Cameron took a swig of her lemonade, time to get more drunk and quit questioning things about herself.
Jasmine watched her swallow the alcoholic beverage and asked, “Can you even stand?”
“No,” Cameron laughed, “But isn’t that the point?”
“I guess if you want to pass out in the sand,” Jasmine shrugged her shoulders and took a sip of her own drink. They both watched the fire for a few silent moments.
Jasmine broke the silence first when she turned to Cameron, “Why are you out here? I didn’t think you liked even half these people.”
“How do you know who I like or don’t like?” Jasmine had the good grace to look down at her hands and grin sheepishly.
“I, I pay attention to things like that,” she admitted, “especially when the person interests me.”
“I interest you? Why?” Cameron looked over at Jasmine’s pretty face and her stomach flopped. She definitely felt smashed and a part of her, a very large part, wondered if Jasmine’s lips were as soft as they looked.
Jasmine held her gaze, her brown eyes sparkling with light from the bonfire, “You’re fascinating. You’re obviously smart and funny and you have such. . . confidence. I’m shocked you don’t have more people sitting in the sand by you.”
“That asshole, Trent, kicked sand on me. I don’t suppose that counts, does it?” Jasmine laughed and shook her head. She leaned back on her hands, one casually falling over the fingers of Cameron’s right hand. Cameron looked down at their hands touching, white and brown overlapping; blinking her eyes and feeling a little giddy.
When she looked back up, Jasmine watched her intently and she knew that the beautiful girl was judging her reaction to the contact. Cameron grinned and threw back the rest of her lemonade.
“You’re not even sitting straight,” Jasmine laughed.
“I’m not? I guess that explains why I feel like I’m weaving,” Cameron let her off kilter weight pull her flat on her back, “I never drink. I’m too much of a lightweight.” Jasmine lay down next to her and they stared up at the flickering stars.
“Not me, I’ve drunk some serious heavyweights under the table.”
Cameron turned her head and looked at her, “Really?” It was difficult to imagine Jasmine, slender and athletic, drinking people under the table.
“No, not really, but it sounds cool. I don’t drink very much either,” she admitted and flashed another brilliant smile at Cameron. Cameron don’t know what possessed her but she suddenly closed the tiny distance between their faces and kissed Jasmine. It was an awkward peck and she pulled back, giggling.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what got into me,” she put her hands to her face to hide her blush, “I’m really drunk.”
“I didn’t mind,” Jasmine whispered. When Cameron looked back at her, she was still smiling but her eyes were serious. Cameron’s belly flip flopped again and she felt like she could be busted at any moment for the impure thoughts running through her head. . . but she wanted to kiss Jasmine again.
Jasmine rolled on her side, bracing herself up on one elbow and leaned in towards Cameron. Their lips touched again, electricity crackling between them. Cameron felt Jasmine’s hand touch her cheek ever so softly. If Cameron’s head was not already spinning, she would have sworn that Jasmine turned her world upside down.
When they broke apart, Cameron once more noticed how beautiful Jasmine’s brown eyes were. She whispered, her words slurring a bit, “You have the prettiest eyes.”
“You too,” she leaned back in and kissed her again, just a quick peck before she rolled on her back.
“I’m not a lesbian,” Cameron suddenly spoke up.
Jasmine shook her head, “Neither am I.”
“But, I like kissing you. I like you,” Cameron wrinkled her nose, the alcohol making her brain fuzzy. Did that mean she was a lesbian?
Jasmine sat up so she could look at her better, “I’ve never believed in defining our sexualities. In the end, why do you need to label yourself because of who you care for? I like you because of who you are, not because of your gender.”
Cameron sat up too, but instantly regretted it when her vision swam, “I’ve just never thought of myself as anything other than straight.”
“So?” Jasmine asked, “Do you feel “straight” when you kiss me?”
“No, I feel drunk,” she smirked. Jasmine turned her gaze into the fire and her expression looked sad. Cameron instantly felt guilty; she didn’t mean to hurt her feelings.
She looked down at Jasmine’s hand in the sand and wordlessly tangled their fingers together, “Sorry.” Jasmine didn’t say anything, but looked down at their hands and back up at Cameron. Her eyes sparkled, but Cameron couldn’t tell if it was the fire dancing on the dark brown or if those were unshed tears.
Deciding suddenly she didn’t care, she leaned forward and tasted Jasmine’s lips again. Cameron pulled away only to lean her forehead against hers with her eyes shut.
“I don’t know what to think about all this. I’ve never allowed myself to admit out loud that I like you,” she whispered, “My parents are. . . strict about who I can and cannot like. So, I’ve always just shoved everything down.” Jasmine detangled their hands and Cameron felt her arms wrap around her in a warm embrace. She returned the gesture.
“My parents disowned me, so I understand,” Jasmine explained.
Cameron pulled away and looked at her, “They disowned you?”
“Yeah, said that I was unnatural and that someday, I’d outgrow this stage of life. I would pick boys or girls to love though they said, if I picked girls to never call them,” Jasmine laughed, but it wasn’t the easy laughter from earlier. It was a dark cynical sound.
Cameron’s stomach ached at the thought of her parents disowning her. Her parents loved her; they wouldn’t cut her out of their lives just because she wanted to date a girl . . . would they? The thought terrified her, but now she admitted to interest in Jasmine, she didn’t want to go back to pretending.
“Are you still too drunk to walk?” Jasmine asked as she slowly unraveled her arms from around Cameron and pulled away. Surprisingly enough, whether it was the fear of being disowned or simply the alcohol working its way through her system, Cameron didn’t feel nearly as drunk.
“I think I’m actually good,” she smiled and Jasmine stood up. She extended a hand down to her and Cameron took it firmly, allowing the young woman to pull her up. She weaved a bit on her feet, but Jasmine looped an arm around her waist, helping steady her.
They picked their way around other beach partiers, either passed out or drinking themselves to that point. Nothing like spring break to convince the college students to push the limits. Once they were clear of the others, Jasmine let her walk on her own.
They walked silently, feeling the sand against their bare feet and listening to the waves that eroded the beach to the right of them. The glow from the bonfire faded and their eyes adjusted to the moonlit beach. They didn’t need to say a word, for the silence between the two of them was casual. Somehow, this all felt right.
Cameron snuck a sideways glance at Jasmine and saw the profile of a strong, young woman. She’d been shunned by her family because she wasn’t afraid to pursue her happiness. She loved without prejudice, questioned the accepted norm, and made Cameron reevaluate her own stance on love.
In her mind, she couldn’t help but label everything before her. Up until this point, she’d always considered herself straight. . . no, she always wished herself straight. Life would be so much easier if she could just accept what she was supposed to be, but she’d never been happy like that.
As she told Jasmine, she was not a lesbian. Admittedly, looking at her life from an objective point, she knew that girls attracted her more, but she still liked boys, too. Personalities intrigued her more than physical attributes and now that she recognized that fact about herself, all sorts of little things in her life made sense.
Jasmine suddenly tapped her playfully with her hip, disrupting her train of thought. Cameron stumbled wildly to the side and glared at Jasmine.
“Oh, is that how it’s gonna be?” she laughed as she regained her balance and promptly hipped Jasmine back. Jasmine stumbled into the icy cold spray of the ocean and gave a sharp squeal before running back out. She ran over and pushed Cameron, her white teeth glowing in the dark.
They pushed each other back and forth, laughing and occasionally even managing to dodge the advances. Eventually though, Jasmine and Cameron fell to the sand together, the dark girl on top. They grinned breathlessly at each other, suddenly aware of how quiet the air was around them. It was just the two of them.
Jasmine leaned down and kissed Cameron, her lips compelling her to move her own mouth in response. She raised a hand to Jasmine’s curly hair and tangled her fingers in it, pinning Jasmine’s head to hers. Her skin felt as if it were on fire, the nerves tingling from head to toe. She loved kissing, but this was the first time she’d ever felt so alive during a make-out session.
Jasmine pulled back just a touch and looked down at her, “So, does this mean you’d be my girlfriend?”
Cameron leaned forward so that she spoke into her lips, “I thought you didn’t like labels.” Jasmine smiled against her before kissing her deeply. When she pulled away again, Cameron sighed.
“You didn’t answer me,” she arched a defined eyebrow at her.
Cameron pulled her hand out of Jasmine’s hair and caressed her cheek, “You and your labels. You don’t want them, but now you’re insisting I define what this moment is on the beach.”
She pulled away and sat upon her knees, “Cameron, I understand not wanting to decide if I’m relationship material right now but. . . is it something you would ever seriously consider or am I barking up the wrong tree?”
Cameron burst out laughing, but stopped abruptly at the pained expression on Jasmine’s face. Jasmine was baring her soul, and here Cameron was, laughing at her. She didn’t mean any offense, but given a few hours ago, she would have said she was barking up the wrong tree.
She closed her eyes and listened to the quiet rush of the ocean and Jasmine’s breathing, her own heartbeat. No one ever made her skin tingle with a kiss and she knew Jasmine was kind albeit a bit outspoken from class. She seemed genuine and open minded, willing to show Cameron how to embrace a side of herself she’d kept buried deep away, forever hidden from the light of the world.
She didn’t want to pretend anymore, she wanted peace in her soul even if her parents disapproved. Her eyes flew open and she stared into Jasmine’s expectant ones before she said, “I would like to try the whole girlfriend thing, just forgive me if I don’t know what to do. I mean, this is kind of new for me.”
“Well,” Jasmine leaned forward again so that her lips hovered above Cameron’s, “kissing is always a good thing to do.” Cameron loved the taste of Jasmine, the way she knew exactly how she liked to be kissed and how her body felt pressed against hers. She knew she made the right choice; be true to herself.
When the returned to the embers of the bonfire, they held hands and carried their chins proud in the air. Cameron cringed, prepared to be teased for her obvious relationship with Jasmine, but no one gave them any notice. At this point of the night, pretty much everyone was involved in their own thing, even if that meant only passed out in the sand.
They sat back down in the original place, staring at the dying remains of the fire. The coals glowed in lovely shades of dark orange and red, winking at them as a gust of wind would stir them briefly back into life. Cameron leaned her head against Jasmine’s shoulder and sighed. What an unexpected way to usher in spring break.
Jasmine laid her head on hers and whispered, “It’s not as scary as you think it is. We’re just two people starting a relationship, nothing more.” Her words terrified Cameron, for though she knew they were true, she also knew that not everyone believed that way. It didn’t matter to many that their relationship should only be the business of hers and Jasmine, they wanted an input in who they could care for.
But, feeling the heat from Jasmine’s body against hers and the way she made Cameron feel comfortable with herself; she was confident in being willing to take a chance with her. One day at a time, until perhaps, it developed into something strong enough to withstand even the harshest critic and weather the cruelest storm. A smile lit her lips as she gazed into the glowing embers of the bonfire, Cameron would not hide who she was ever again.
Word Count: 2509