"And ye shall seek and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart" Philippians 29:13
“A job?” my dad said. It was the next morning at breakfast. I had gotten up extra early, wanting to make sure I showered and got dressed before either of the twins came out. Just thinking about last night, the look Amanda gave me, was enough to make my legs quiver like jelly.
“Yeah,” I replied, “I’ve got nothing to do in the afternoons except lounge around here and I know how much you love that. You spent the whole summer trying to get me outside.”
Dad raised his eyebrows and nodded in acknowledgment. “Fair enough,” he said, “What about homework?”
I raised an eyebrow. “Please.”
He laughed. “All right, all right. Well, if you want to start tossing around applications, go right ahead. Nothing much is open to kids your age except retail, though.”
I poured syrup over my pancakes. “So, what, government internships are closed to me?”
“Before you work for assholes, you have to sell to assholes.”
Mom gave him a scathing look. “Honey!” she snapped.
“Sorry, dear,” he said, returning to his paper.
“There’s nothing wrong with retail,” she said brusquely, “You have to start somewhere. Where were you thinking about applying?”
“Gamestop,” I said.
Dad almost choked on his coffee as he laughed. “I should have seen that one coming a mile away. Anything else?”
“Not unless they reject me.”
“Jack, try to consider additional options. If you have to work at someplace like McDonald’s for a little while—”
I shuddered. Yeah, if I got desperate enough, I’d look into fast-food but I’d like to think I could aim a little bit higher (no offense if you’ve had to work it, but it wasn’t quite my ambition yet).
“Just so you know,” dad said, “If they have multiple applications, they’re going to look for the people who have work experience over those who have none.”
I shrugged. I felt confident enough in my knowledge of games and systems hardware to warrant a little more consideration than your average kid who just wanted to claim he sold videogames. There was a little bit of that, too.
“All right,” dad shrugged, “But school and homework come first.”
“I know,” I replied, standing up and putting my empty plate in the sink.
“Whoa,” mom said, looking from my plate to me, “Hungry much today?”
“Yeah.” The truth was I didn’t want to be stuck at the breakfast table with the twins, especially Amanda. I had gone to bed, terrified that she had seen me at the keyhole, but as I woke up I reasoned that it had been a coincidence or, if she had seen me, she couldn’t prove it. Still, having to sit with them and, God forbid, talk to them was not a recipe for success.
“Alan and Amanda should be down in a minute, if you want seconds,” mom said. Can women read minds? It’s a phenomenon that has yet to be fully explored.
“I got some reading I want to do before school. I’ll see them when it’s time to leave.” That thought was also not appealing but at least it was a short ride.
As I walked up the stairs, I heard the twins’ door open and feet come out into the hallway. I swore silently and crept up the last few stairs, peering over the landing. Amanda, in her bathrobe, had emerged, but she wasn’t making her way to the bathroom. Instead, she walked to my room and rather rudely opened the door. No knock. She peered in for a moment and, not finding me, backed out and made to turn around. I ducked down beneath the banister, praying she’d go straight to the bathroom and not try to find me downstairs.
The bathroom door opened and closed. I sighed with relief then scurried as quickly as I could to my room and shut the door. If Amanda was going to start barging in on me whenever she felt like, I’d definitely need to be out of the house more.
I had left my phone on the table and picked it up to find I had a new text. I hoped it was from Kayla but opened it to find it was from Joe. I glanced across the gap between our houses into Kayla’s room. It was still dark. Oh, well, I was usually just getting up about this time. She was probably still in bed.
I checked the message.
Joe: Okay, Jack, I think I’ve found a way to deal with Craig that doesn’t involve you doing anything ‘compromising’ or some shit.
I sighed and squeezed my eyes.
Me: Joe, dude, am I going to have to just give you a recording of me saying, ‘Don’t do anything’ over and over?
Joe: No, seriously, man. It’s a good idea. It might be a GREAT idea.
Me: All right. What is it?
Joe: I’ll tell you when you get here.
Me: Why not now?
Joe: Anticipation is the spice of life.
Me: That’s variety, dumbass.
Joe: Whatever. See you at school.
A good idea? So far, their ideas amounted to little more than giving Craig a couple well-reasoned arguments: left fist and right fist. Still, I couldn’t deny that anything that could save Kayla from Craig was something I wanted to pursue.
Did I want to pursue it? I had been really adamant this far about being hands-off but now…maybe it was just the fact that he hurt me. I touched the bruise lightly and it twinged with pain. No, it couldn’t be for me. I didn’t want to get back at him for me. It had to be for Kayla. And he’d already started making some blunders. He wasn’t being as suave as he normally was, probably because I was always around. Maybe that’s what I needed to do: hang around more so he was distracted. Kayla was certainly noticing the cracks in his routine.
The light came on in Kayla’s room. Remembering what I saw last night, I waited beside the window for a moment or so before looking. Thankfully, she was dressed. Well, in pajamas anyway. She was wearing a black tank-top that exposed her midriff and what looked like boxer shorts. Her hair was falling freely around her shoulders and, in that moment, I was convinced I’d never see anything so beautiful. I loved it up, especially with that hair-bow, but down…her hair was like a waterfall, cascading down around her shoulders and framing her gorgeous face as perfectly as any frame could. And this was after getting out of bed! I’d love to see what it looked like after she showered and washed it.
I’d like to see her in the shower…
Ugh! I tried to push those thoughts out of my head. Maybe it was the twins but…I can’t start thinking about her like that. I’d like to but if my motivation is the chance to see her in her birthday suit then I might as well start calling myself Craig 2.0.
She seemed to be looking for something. She started pulling apart her blankets until she picked up her phone. A few seconds later, my phone buzzed.
Kayla: Rise and shine!
Me: You know, if I get to wake up to this every morning, I might start enjoying alarms.
Kayla: Waking up to what?
Me: You texting me :)
Kayla: Awwww :)
Me: How did you sleep?
Kayla: Okay. Still thinking about last night. :/
Me: Good thoughts?
Kayla: Idk. I mean, he’s sweet and all, but…
Me: You can say.
Kayla: I just feel like all he does is compliment me. It’s nice but he’s started repeating stuff he’s already said.
I knew she was smart!
Me: Complimenting you?
Kayla: Yeah. And just how I look. Either that or he’s talking about stuff he wants to do.
Me: Like…? (Oh, please don’t say that it’s stuff he wants to do to you!)
Kayla: Oh, stuff he wants to do at school and after school and what a great future he has and blaaaaaaaaah
I laughed at that, mostly out of relief.
Me: Lol what about you? What do you want to do after school?
Kayla: I want to be a vet.
Me: No kidding?
Kayla: Yeah! I love animals! When you come over, you’ll have to meet Tori.
Me: Who’s Tori?
Kayla: Look out your window.
I looked out the window and saw Kayla standing there, a big grin on her face and a small cat in her arms. The cat was clearly flustered by being picked up but what I noticed was the fact that Kayla was still in her sleeping attire. I also noticed that her stomach was flat and toned. I hurriedly looked up to see her give her cat a kiss on the head then put her down. She waved to me and I waved back with a smile.
Kayla: She’s adorable. I love her so much.
Me: She’s really cute. And so is your cat. ;)
I looked up to see Kayla blush bright red and try to keep herself from laughing out loud. She looked up at me and blew me a kiss.
Kayla: Omg, if you keep making me blush like this, I’m going to look like I have permanent sunburn!
Me: So you’ll be a scarlet woman?
Kayla: Ohhhhh, Mr. Harrison, I dare you to call me that again.
Me: No thanks. I’ve grown attached to my balls lol
Kayla: I bet.
Me: I’m sorry it wasn’t a great time last night.
Kayla: It’s okay. The food was good.
Me: You should try my mom’s sometime.
Kayla: I’d love to! I wish I could come over after school…
Me: Craig already have plans for you two tonight?
Kayla: Not that he said but I’m sure he will soon.
Me: Well, anytime. You’re always welcome.
Kayla: Thanks, hun. Guess I better go get ready. Blahhhhh
Me: Blahhhh yourself.
I dropped my phone and gave her a last wave through the window before she closed the curtains. Today was off to a good start, something I hadn’t had in a little while.
“So how’s the simpering pixie?”
I jumped and spun around to see Amanda standing in my doorway, arms folded under her breasts. She was still wearing her bathrobe, though it was now slightly open down the middle so the edges of her breasts were visible. Her folded arms also had the effect of pushing them up and out so they looked at least two sizes bigger than they normally did.
“The girl you’ve been drooling over for the past two days,” she snarled, her blue eyes flashing anger.
“What’s your problem?” I asked, “You haven’t even talked to her.”
“Oh, is that what I’m supposed to do? Talk to her? Why don’t you just have her over so we can bond over Barbies and nail polish and fucking boy bands?”
“What’s wrong with you?” I snapped, “Kayla is an awesome person and you’d really like her.”
“I bet. You obviously do.”
“Yeah, I do.”
“And I bet it’s great that her bedroom is right across from yours so you can go peeping anytime.”
Her emphasis on the word ‘peeping’ poured ice water down my spine. I shuddered, remembering how she had looked straight at me through the keyhole last night. My hesitation caused her to smirk knowingly. Oh, fuck…
“How long were you standing there?” I tried to rally, tried to push the conversation somewhere else.
“You must have seen her at her window, otherwise how could you know that was her bedroom. So I ask again: how long were you standing there?”
Amanda started to walk slowly towards me. Were her hips swaying? I tried to keep my eyes at face-level. “The whole time. You’re bigger than you think you are.”
“Just because you can’t see me when you hide on the staircase doesn’t mean I can’t see you.”
Oh, fuck me with a pitchfork.
“Did the kiss she blew to you get you hard?” she asked innocently.
“The fuck?! Amanda, get out of my room!”
“Do you want some privacy?”
“To take care of your cock?”
She didn’t stop walking towards me and now stood only about three inches away. Her blue eyes were sparkling with something like mischief. She hadn’t showered yet so I could distinctly smell what I guessed was her sex smell: tangy sweat mixed with wet linen. I hate to say it but I did get a twitch in my pants.
“Or did you take care of that last night?”
“I’m going to count to three.”
“Oh, and speaking of privacy and last night…” She leaned close to my ear, so close that even the breath through her nose tickled my eardrums. “…I know you saw.”
I was frozen in place. Her words effectively drained ever functional motor skill I had, leaving me like a horrified statue. The effect wasn’t lost on her and she smiled before kissing my cheek, flicking the skin with her tongue before he lips made contact. She kept her smile as she left, making sure that her hips swung like a Newton’s Cradle.
She had seen me. She knew that her and Alan’s relationship was no longer a secret. And yet, why did I feel like that one who was up shit-creek? Amanda was planning something. Somehow, even though I wasn’t involved in any way, I was going to be the one paying for this.
You know what? Don’t fuck me with a pitchfork. Just cut off my balls and leave me to die.
Kayla was, yet again, stuck at the end of her driveway, looking both ways for Craig. And, sadly, she was not wearing her hair-bow. “Again?” I said, slowing down in front of her.
“Yep,” she said shortly. She didn’t look sad. She looked pissed.
“Do you want—”
“Yes, I do,” she said, walking around the car. Amanda heaved a huge and very obvious sigh so I gave her a sideways glare. She gave me a sultry wink and I quickly looked away.
Kayla had my passenger door open and was tossing her backpack in when Craig came screeching to a halt right next to my car. He looked just as pissed as Kayla but was trying to keep it in control. “Babe, I’m here,” he said.
“You were supposed to pick me up ten minutes ago,” she snapped, “That’s when you told me to be outside.”
“I’m sorry, babe. The traffic around here sucks. I gotta drive, like, twenty minutes to get here. I would have texted you but there were cops around.”
There was so much bullshit in that statement I hardly knew where to begin. “You live five minutes away,” I said.
His eyes threw daggers at mine as he said, “That’s without traffic, Jack. And I’m trying to talk to my girlfriend, not to you.”
Kayla folded her arms. “At least he can be on time.”
“Babe, I’m sorry! Look, I wasn’t going to say anything, but I was late because I was trying to plan out something special for us to do tonight.”
“Craig, I have homework to do! We can’t hang out every single night!”
“Babe, look—” Have I mentioned yet how annoying it is that he only has one pet name for her? “—I would never leave you hanging unless I absolutely had to. Trust me, it will be worth it tonight. I’m really sorry, okay?” He got out of his car and pulled her into a hug. She stayed tense and then slowly put her arms around him and hugged him back.
I looked down at the wheel. It was too depressing to look at. Alan actually reached over the seat and patted me on the shoulder.
“Come on,” he said, taking his arms from around her but keeping his hands on her shoulders, “Jack needs to get to school.”
Kayla looked back at me and I could tell she was wavering on the decision. The last thing I needed was for Craig to make her feel even guiltier so I handed her her backpack and said, “See you in homeroom.”
“See you there, Jack,” she said, smiling a little.
I drove off, watching in the rearview mirror as Craig escorted Kayla to the passenger side door and helped her in. I didn’t think his ‘gentleman’ act was carrying much weight anymore but Kayla was too sweet to ditch him just because he was late picking her up. But why would he be purposefully late?
“Douchebag,” Alan snarled, “Twice in a row and I guarantee tomorrow will be number three.”
“Probably,” I replied, distracted.
“And both times when she’s about to get in! I swear, it’s like he’s just waiting at the corner or something until she opens the door.”
It hit me like a sack of bricks to the head. That’s exactly what Craig would do. She still gets a ride from him, on his terms, and I get a good ‘fuck you’ at the same time. Son of a bitch, I hate this guy.
“Well, she’s still with him,” Amanda said with a smile in her voice, “So she must not mind it.”
And that was the danger right there. Kayla was smart, very smart, but if she felt like she just had to accept his crap then Craig would get what he wanted with no resistance. Maybe Joe actually did have a good plan. I could only hope. I cared about Kayla, not because I wanted to date her, but because the thought of her being hurt wracked my heart with sadness and I’d never forgive myself if I just let something happen.
“Okay,” Joe said, eager to get his ‘brilliant’ idea out in the open, “I know you don’t want to spill the beans to Kayla…for some reason.”
I twisted my mouth. He had a point; even my justifications felt weaker, especially after this morning. “Yeah?”
“What about all the other girls? What if one of them told her?”
Actually…that wasn’t bad. In fact, it was a great idea. With just one problem… “How many girls did Craig work through last year with none of his previous conquests stepping in?”
“Fair point. I thought of that. What if we asked one of them to tell her?”
“But that’s us getting involved!”
“At some point, you’re going to have to, man,” Joe said, getting a little irritated, “If you care about this girl, you might have to let her get mad at you if you’re going to protect her.”
That was something that had been nagging at me from the beginning. I knew, if I really cared about her, I’d risk her anger if it meant helping her. Even if it meant…possibly not being able to date her. My heart sunk. It was the right thing to do. Which also meant it was the hardest thing to do.
Joe put a hand on my shoulder. “You okay, man?”
“Yeah,” I replied, leaning against the wall, “But it might still be worth having someone tell her first. So when I tell her, it won’t shock her so much.”
“At some point, she’s going to ask you why you waited so long. What are you going to say?”
I rubbed my forehead. What had been my reasoning? That I didn’t want to ruin her first relationship here while he was still being a good guy? He was rapidly losing that title. “I didn’t want to ruin something that she…I didn’t…I didn’t want to ruin a relationship she was happy in.”
“But she wouldn’t have been happy in it eventually,” Joe replied reasonably, “And you knew that.”
God, I was feeling horrible now. “Fuck me…” I said, putting my face in my hands.
“Hey, hey, man,” Joe said easily, “Calm down. I just wanted to make sure you knew where this was headed.”
Joe might have been a goofy meathead most of the time, but he wasn’t stupid. Occasionally he would pull this wise sage stuff on me and it blindsided me every time. Why hadn’t I planned for the consequences? Jesus.
“I have to help her,” I said, “You’re right. It doesn’t matter if she gets pissed at me.”
“You’re a good guy, Jack. Who do you want to tell her?”
That was a problem. I knew almost all the girls he had been with mostly by name and face, not personally. It would be weird if I stopped them and asked them to tell Kayla what he had done with them. I mean, yeah, about a dozen girls telling her the exact same story would be convincing but the last thing they’d probably want to do is relive what happened. It hurt enough already. I needed someone I knew beyond a ‘Hello, my name is…’ tag. I needed…
The exact person I needed walked by. Jessica Wilson. Yes, Craig had actually managed to get with Jessica Wilson. Don’t ask me how. I wouldn’t discount a deal with Satan. And, more than any other girl, she was pissed by it. Craig went around blabbing about how he had gotten with the Queen Bee of high school and had her begging to put his…well, you get the idea.
“Hey, Jessica!” I called, catching up with her.
She turned and gave me a smile. “Hey, slugger,” she said, “Not planning on putting your face in the way of any more dodgeballs, are you?”
I blinked. “How did you…”
“Know? My brother’s in your class. Ted.”
Ted was Jessica’s brother? “I didn’t know that.”
“Well, how many Wilsons live in the area? How could you have known? He drives separately from me and is too nervous to be seen with me at school. We’re technically twins, in name and nothing else.”
Cripes, another set of twins? And here was me thinking it wasn’t that common. “Wow,” was all I said.
“Wow, indeed,” she said. I got the distinct impression she knew what I was going to ask, especially if Ted had told her everything. She was looking at the bruise on my cheek. “That was Craig, huh?”
Her face twisted and for a moment, I thought she was going to scream. But then she controlled herself and relaxed. “So what did you need?”
Now that it came to it, I was almost too tongue-tied to ask. I took a deep breath and said, “Craig is dating a girl named Kayla. She lives next door to me.”
“What a coincidence.”
“Look…I hate to ask you this but…you know what happened with you?”
Her face twisted again and I knew instantly that I had phrased that wrong. “Yes…” she said in a voice that suggested I needed to get to my point and fast.
“Kayla’s really, really sweet and smart and nice and…she doesn’t deserve what happened to you. Do you think you could…you know…tell her what happened to you and to the other girls he was with?”
She didn’t say anything. She just looked at me. Feeling awkward, I pressed on. “I know it won’t change what happened to you and I hate, hate, hate bringing it up. I’m really sorry. But…look, I really like Kayla and I don’t want her hurt. Can you just talk to her? She’ll believe it more from you than from me.”
Why, indeed. How could I put it so I didn’t sound like a complete coward? “What proof do I have? None of the other girls has told her anything. I doubt they know about it. Or want to know about it. Please, Jessica, I’m begging you.”
The word ‘begging’ actually seemed to surprise her. “Wow,” she breathed, “It’s that serious?”
“You have no idea.”
She chewed her lip in thought. I had always thought she was hot but right now, with my thoughts on Kayla, Jessica could have easily slipped into the gray mass of ‘other girls’. “Okay,” she said finally.
I wanted to do a backflip. “You will?” I said, grinning like an idiot.
She actually laughed at my face. “But I won’t do it for free.”
And the balloon of joy suddenly caught a leak. “What…I mean, do you want me to pay you?” There goes the last of my cash. I really needed that job.
“No, no,” she replied, dropping her voice, “I won’t tell you what it is right now. Just be ready to pay up when I come to collect.”
Despite the nervous twitch in my stomach, and the little man screaming in my brain that it was a BAD IDEA, I nodded.
“Good,” she said brightly, as if I had just asked her to loan me a pen, “I’ll get on it when I can. See you later, Jack!”
She flounced off. Jesus, what was she going to ask me to do? Be her chauffeur for the rest of the year? Do her homework for her? Whatever it was, her tone had suggested that it would be substantial.
Joe could tell something was bugging me when I came back to him. “You okay? How did it go?”
“She said she’ll do it.”
“Great! Why do you look like she asked for your dick in return?”
“She might as well have. She says I owe her but she won’t tell me what she wants. At least not now.”
“Damn, dude. What do you think it is?”
I shrugged. Honestly, I didn’t want to think about that. I had two classes with Kayla today, and homeroom, and Craig was in both of them. Nothing could happen while the teacher was talking but I’m sure he’d find some way to humiliate me in front of her. I hated feeling like Kayla was the ball and prize in some game Craig and I were playing. I tried to console myself by saying I was trying to protect her, and I was, but the feelings I had for her…the fact that I wanted to date her as well…
I knew this thing could explode at any second and I didn’t mind getting caught in the blast as long as she was safe.
Once again, she had beaten Joe and me to homeroom and she brightened considerably when she saw us. “Sorry again about this morning, Jack,” she said shyly.
Joe gave me a questioning look and mouthed, “This morning?” I waved him away.
“It’s okay,” I said, sitting down behind her, “At least he showed up.”
She shrugged ruefully. “I told him the next time it happens, I’ll just get a ride with you. He didn’t seem happy about that.”
“He doesn’t like me much.”
“He thinks you’re competition, probably.”
“Me.” She said it so coyly that I almost giggled.
Instead, my mouth decided that the first statement that popped into my head should fall out without being analyzed by my brain first. “Am I?” Oh, shit. I wanted to clamp a hand to my mouth. If I had that dagger from Prince of Persia, I would have rewound the last few seconds.
She didn’t answer. She just smiled and reached over to brush some stray hairs off my forehead. “He won’t tell me what he has planned for tonight. It better not be as late as the last two nights.”
“You thought about just telling him you have homework to do?”
“Three strikes and he’s out. I’ll start deciding our dates.”
I was disappointed, mostly because, even after everything that had happened so far, she would still be willing to date him even if he fucked up tonight. Which he most likely would. I hoped Jessica would get in touch with her soon.
Her face suddenly took on a crestfallen look. “What’s wrong?” I asked.
She leaned forward and motioned I should do the same. Her hair smelled wonderful and I had to grip my knee so hard it hurt to make sure I didn’t audibly sniff it. That would be attractive.
She took a couple deep breaths and said, “He kissed me again before class.”
I wanted to throw up. That same feeling I had from last night was back again, only much stronger this time. I actually started to feel light-headed, like in a bad dream when you desperately hope that you’ll wake up in the next couple of seconds. “And?” I said, “Was it any better?”
“It was horrible,” she shuddered, “He tried to add some tongue and…” She looked like she was going to be sick before I would.
On reflex, I took her hand that was resting on my desk. “I’m sorry,” I said.
She squeezed my hand and said, “Am I doing something wrong?”
“No way!” I said, a little louder than I wanted to, “You’re amazing!”
“How do you know?” Her eyes actually twinkled a little as she said it.
“Because…I…I mean, you’re amazing in general. So your kisses should be amazing, too.”
New resident for Lame Lines Junction! Kayla was laughing but not at me, thankfully. “Well reasoned, Jack,” she giggled, “Thank you.”
I was blushing horribly but managed to grin. “Kayla, there is nothing wrong with you. How you like yourself is the way you should be.”
I was still holding her hand and she suddenly let go. I was afraid, for a second, that she regretted holding on for so long, but she fished into her backpack and drew out a length of green ribbon. “Can you help me?” she asked, handing me the ribbon.
“What’s it for?” I asked.
“My hair, silly,” she said, slightly exasperated, “You said you liked my hair-bow. So I will allow you the honor of tying it.”
Joe later told me that I swelled so large, I looked like a balloon. “It will be my honor.”
“Yes it will,” she giggled.
Her hair was already tied back so I just had to tie the ribbon around the slim black tie that was already there. I made sure to give it plenty of length in the loops and the tassels. She turned back to me, the hair-bow making her beauty even more radiant. The same punch-to-the-gut feeling I had when I first saw her came back full-force.
“Better?” she asked.
“There’s no ‘better’ with you, Kayla,” I said, my mouth again giving the middle finger to my brain, “You’re always at the top. But…well, you kind of broke through the ceiling now.”
She turned away quickly but it did no good; her blush reached to the back of her neck. Joe started making kissing noises again and I resolved not only to show his mouth shut but his nose as well. “Thanks, Jack,” she said quietly.
“No problem,” I replied, captivated by how well the hair-bow complimented her gorgeous hair. It sounds mushy, and it probably is, but it’s the truth. I was captivated by her more and more.
Too quickly homeroom flashed by and Kayla and I had to part ways for a period. History flashed by, a jumble of names and important events and some chapters we had to read and some terms we had to define. I glanced at the sheet of terms to be defined, had most of them written in my head instantly, and forgot about it. I wasn’t slacking or being lazy; if I wanted to pay attention, I would, no matter how easy the class was for me. But I wanted to think about Kayla. I wanted to revel in how good she made me feel and, if I can be slightly immodest, how good I made her feel in return.
I wanted to hang out with her outside of school. The big obstacle was Craig but he couldn’t monopolize her time, not without spoiling the illusion he was trying to create. Kayla was already starting to pick up on the repetition of his lines. Even if she and I were just hanging doing homework, that would be fine with me. Anything. Something about being around her just made me feel good, like I didn’t have to pretend to be someone else. That she was fine and happy with me just being me. I’ve heard that line said in so many ‘motivational’ speeches and handouts but now I was starting to get it.
History was over way too slowly and I beelined for Biology, hitting my chair just as Kayla and Craig walked in. Kayla took her seat next to me but Craig didn’t take his at the table behind us. “Hey, Jack,” he said, “You mind moving?”
I looked up. “What?”
“Well, I wanna be able to sit next to my girlfriend.” He injected the last word with just the slightest emphasis. Fuck you too, Craig.
“I think we’re supposed to stay where we were on the first day,” Kayla said.
“Well, it’s just the second day. You really think he’ll notice?”
“If she’s fine, I’m fine,” I said, pulling out my textbook.
“Jack, seriously, man. Just be a help and take my seat.”
“I’m good where I am.”
His jaw was working furiously. I actually thought he might take a swing at me and I would have welcomed it. “It isn’t that big a deal, man.”
“No, it isn’t,” I agreed, opening my notebook and copying down the date for my notes.
Craig continued to burn a hole through me but finally gave up and slammed into the seat behind us. His glare was filled with so much hatred, it was like Superman’s heat vision on the back of my neck.
Mr. Norton came in and class began proper. We started taking notes on the different classification systems, a simple enough subject to start on, and it would have been a perfectly fine class had Craig not spent the majority of it flicking little bits of paper at the back of my head. Every time one hit me, I tensed up in fury but kept myself under control. If I had gotten a nosebleed from holding myself back, I wouldn’t have been surprised.
Homework was assigned, the bell rang, and Craig was on his feet, Kayla’s hand in his, and hurrying toward the door. Her backpack wasn’t even closed all the way and she was struggling to keep up with him and keep stuff from flying out. She tried to catch my eye before she disappeared out the door but Craig was moving too quickly. I swept up the small mountain of torn paper and threw it away.
“Nervous tick?” Mr. Norton asked, watching me brush off the remaining pieces into the trash can.
“More like a rash that won’t go away,” I replied. He looked confused but seemed to decide he didn’t want to pursue the topic anymore. I was thankful for that.
English was much the same as history, with the bonus of a break for lunch forty minutes in. I met Joe by the cafeteria. “Any word from Jessica?” he asked as we got in line.
“Nothing yet,” I replied, “I doubt she’ll be able to during school hours.”
“Shit. Sorry, man.”
“It’ll happen,” I said, looking over at the table Kayla and Craig would sit at when they got their food.
Joe and I didn’t talk much as we ate. I think he realized I needed some time to think. And some time to digest the school spaghetti, which wasn’t bad but had a bad habit of sitting like a rock in your stomach. Occasionally, I would glance over to where Kayla and Craig were sitting. It looked like Craig was involving Kayla more in his conversation, but it also looked like the price of that was getting interrupted every few seconds.
“Do you really think she’s worth it?” Joe asked, breaking into my thoughts.
“Kayla. She’s great but do you really think she’s worth dealing with Craig’s bullshit?”
“Yes.” I didn’t even need to think about it.
Joe blinked and grinned at me. “Sounds like you’re hooked.” To be honest, I’d been hooked since the second I saw her and everything else I learned about her just made me like her more.
That lightened up our moods and we were having a lively chat about random stuff until Craig and Kayla came up to empty their trays. Before I discuss what happened, I need to lay out how the cafeteria was set up. Basically, you had about five ‘long’ tables that were really about three rectangular tables set end-to-end. You had a few of those individual tables set against the back corner, closest to the lunch lines. Scattered throughout the rest of the cafeteria were smaller circular tables that could seat maybe five or six students. The trash cans were lined up down the middle of the cafeteria to make them easily accessible to everyone. The table Joe and I were sitting at was right next to one of those trash cans.
The two of them were aiming for that trash can. Kayla was smiling at me and I knew she wanted to chat with me, but Craig’s shoes caught my attention. The laces were undone on both. In a heartbeat I knew what was going to happen and knew I could do nothing to stop it. Craig stepped on his shoes, slipped, and hurled the remnants of his meal into my face. A generous portion of spaghetti, sauce, and mashed potatoes splattered across my face.
“Oops,” he said, straightening, “Sorry about that, Jack.”
My face was burning so hot with rage, I could have recooked the spaghetti that clung to it. With shaking hands, I took my napkin and began to wipe my face.
“Craig, what the hell?” Kayla shouted, then tried to help me, “I’m so sorry, Jack.”
“Don’t worry about it,” I muttered, fighting to keep my voice level. Joe was visibly straining at the leash to tip Craig head-first into the trash can.
“It was an accident,” Craig said, shrugging, “I didn’t notice my shoelaces were untied.”
Even Kayla didn’t buy that one. “They were tied when you sat down,” she snapped.
He shrugged again. “Guess I didn’t do it tight enough.” He walked away, carrying his and Kayla’s trays to the cleaning line.
Kayla was still helping to wipe off my face. “I’m fine,” I said, taking her napkins and doing it myself.
“That was bullshit,” she said (again, somehow she made swearing cute), “What the hell is wrong with him?”
“A lot,” Joe said. I shot him a warning look.
“Jack, I don’t care what my parents say. I’m coming over to visit you tonight when Craig drops me off. And it will be before eight, I promise.”
I didn’t know how she could promise something like that with His Assness as a driver, but it still made me feel good. “Thanks, Kayla,” I said, “I’d love that.”
She smiled. “See you next period.” She walked straight past Craig, who was waiting for her at the cafeteria door. He attempted to put his arm around her but she slipped away from him and kept walking.
“That her?” Jessica Wilson stood next to my chair, watching Craig attempt to catch up with Kayla.
“Yes,” I said.
“You’ve got some spaghetti behind your ear,” she said, pointing. I pulled it out and threw it in the trash can. “I saw what Craig did. After that, I’d almost consider talking to her for free.”
“Would you?” I asked hopefully.
She smiled and wagged a finger. “I said ‘almost’. I will get my payment.” The bell rang and she twirled away to rejoin her posse.
“You’re right,” Joe said, watching her, “I’m worried for your balls, too.”
English finally ended and I made my way, gratefully, to Math and the final period. Joe met me halfway there but saw I wasn’t in a talking mood. I was trying my hardest not to let Craig get to me, for him to dig his own grave with Kayla, but self-control can only go so far. I wanted to fight him, believe me, to get Kayla away from him, but that’s also what he wanted. So he could pretend I was the aggressive one. I’d be okay not dating Kayla but it would tear me up inside to have her not want to be my friend.
Kayla entered Math a good twenty seconds before Craig did. She gave me a sympathetic look. Craig gave me a pissed-off look. He sat down next to her and leaned forward. “Babe, talk to me.”
“Or what? You’ll drop food on me, too?”
“It was an accident. Seriously. I didn’t know about my shoes.”
Craig leaned around her and looked me square in the face. “Jack, I swear, it was an accident. I didn’t mean for it to happen and I promise it will never happen again.”
I looked at him steadily. “It’s all right. I’m not mad.” Which was true. I had gotten over being mad a while ago. I was volcanically pissed off by this point, especially at the smile that kept tugging at the corners of his mouth.
“See?” he said to Kayla, “He can forgive me.”
She rolled her eyes but seemed to relent, at least a little. She probably still didn’t believe him but, like me, probably thought there was no point in dwelling on it since it was already done. He put a hand on her arm and she let it stay there.
Kayla looked less distressed than she had the first day during class, mainly because of the help I had given her the day before. We were given worksheets that tested our knowledge of what we had gone over on the first day, plus a little teaser of what was to come. It wasn’t anything too out-of-line; if you had read and done the problems you were supposed to, they wouldn’t be a problem. But that’s where a lot of students got a kick in the pants. You couldn’t slack off, even at the beginning of the year.
Craig kept whispering to Kayla whenever he could. I couldn’t hear what he was saying but his tone of voice suggested he was trying to soothe her annoyance with him. She kept her eyes on her worksheet the whole time. I smiled at the thought of Craig’s growing desperation. He was firebombing at this point.
Class ended with more equations to work on and Kayla refused to leave with Craig until I was ready to go with them. I looked over at Joe, who gave me a thumbs-up. “So what is this special thing you have planned for tonight?” I asked Kayla.
“Still don’t know,” she said brusquely, “Craig is keeping it a surprise.”
“I’ll tell you in the car,” he said, sliding his arm around her shoulders and pulling her in for a hug. She went but only half-heartedly returned it.
Outside, Craig left us to go get his car. “You okay?” I asked her.
“Yeah,” she said slowly, “I told him that he was on thin ice after that stunt at lunch. I haven’t heard ‘I’m sorry’ so many times since my last boyfriend encouraged me to read 50 Shades of Grey.”
“Haven’t read it.”
“You’re a richer human being because of it,” she growled, “And if Craig tries to drag me to the movie they’re making of it…”
Seizing the opportunity, I asked, “What kind of movies do you like?”
“All kinds,” she said, thinking, “If I had a favorite…it would probably be…Groundhog Day.”
“I love that movie!” I said, “I have it!”
“Awesome! You collect movies?”
“Not really. Just a few. But that’s one of the ones I have.”
“We’ll have to watch it together sometime.”
“After homework, of course.”
She looked at me as if affronted. “Well, as long as you do it, it shouldn’t take too long.”
I narrowed my eyes at her. “If I’m doing your homework too, I’m not doing it for free.”
“Not for free?! How can I possibly pay for your services?”
We both blushed when she said that. “You know I’d never make you do that, right?” she said, “I’ll do my own homework.”
“And I’ll be there to give you a hand when you need it.” She squeezed my arm in thanks. The yard work over the summer had given me some decently-toned arms and her hand lingered a second longer than it needed to.
“KAYLA!” The two of us, along with about fifty other students, looked over at Craig, who was waving her over.
She sighed. “Maybe I did prefer the horn,” she said. She turned to me. “I promised you I would be over tonight and I will.”
“Barring an Act of Craig?”
She laughed and said, “Barring an Act of Craig.” She waved and headed to Craig’s car.
My phone buzzed. I pulled it out to find I had just received a message from dad.
Dad: Your mom and I are going out tonight with some friends. We’re getting dinner and then going out to a show. There are a couple pizzas in the freezer. If the house burns down, you’ll get a two hour head-start.
Me: Won’t be too bad, since I’ll have the car.
Dad: And I have the license plate number. And no booze.
Me: Wouldn’t dream of it. Love you!
Dad: Love you too, buddy.
“Hey, guess what?” I said when Alan and Amanda had joined me.
“You’re finally paying back the twenty bucks you owe me?” Alan said. That’s a very long, very complicated, and very boring story. Long story short, I don’t.
“No. Mom and dad are going out tonight so we have the house to ourselves.”
“Awesome!” Alan said, looking meaningfully at Amanda. Normally, I would have thought this just meant they had more reign to torture me with their Devil Twins act but my new knowledge of their relationship made the implication far more disturbing.
I, however, was looking forward to having Kayla over later, without parents around. Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents and trust them completely with Kayla, but there’s a freedom in not having to go through the obligatory, “So when are you two going to hook up?” part of bringing a girl over. Amanda might be a problem but she’d be too busy with Alan…hopefully.
Oh, whatever. I was going to be an optimist. Alan and Amanda would be busy with their own stuff and I be having my time to just relax and hang with Kayla.
Few things shock me into silence. Seeing Kayla for the first time did. Joe showing me a handmade wood sculpture of my house, complete with accurate dimensions and details of the interior rooms did. Being given a PS3 and a stack of ten games for Christmas, as one single gift, did. And seeing Craig dropping off Kayla at her house just seconds after we got there did.
I was pulling into our driveway when I saw someone pulling into hers at the same time. I thought it might be her parents, who I still needed to meet, but I was stunned beyond belief when I saw it was Craig’s Chevy. And Kayla was getting out without Craig making a fuss. The hell was going on?
I parked on the right side of the driveway (we had a two car garage and I didn’t want to block dad’s side, since they would have taken his car), popped open the garage, and said, “There’s a couple pizzas for us. You can get them started.”
“Gee, thanks,” Alan said, “Would your majesty like it sprinkled with unicorn powder too?”
I ignored him. Kayla saw me watching her and waved me over. I crossed our lawn, hearing one of the car doors slam with the sound like a falling pipe. Amanda. What was I going to do about her?
“Did he change his plans for tonight?” I asked when I was standing in front of her.
“No,” she said, looking like she still couldn’t believe she was dropped off while the sun was still up, “He’s taking me to a club. I’ve got an hour to get ready.”
“So your homework was a non-issue for him?”
“I told him and he just told me to do it this weekend,” she said unhappily, “If he gives me any freaking time to do it.”
“Which means tonight…”
“No!” she said vehemently, “I am not staying out late. I told him seven at the latest or I was going to get in trouble again.”
“If you want to get out of there, call me, okay?”
“I will,” she sighed. I had known some couples who didn’t see eye-to-eye most of the time but I’d never seen anyone as miserable as Kayla was right now. I almost suggested breaking up with him but decided she didn’t need her other guy friend sounding like an asshole too.
“Look, we don’t have to do homework tonight,” I said, “Maybe we can just hang? Just relax and watch a movie or something.”
She smiled. “That sounds great. I gotta go get ready.”
“Sure. Text me before you leave?”
“Well, you have to tell me how I look so I expect you to talk to me face-to-face.”
I grinned. “More than happy too.”
“Thanks,” she replied, tossing a smile at me as she turned and walked to her house.
“What are your parents going to say?” I called after her.
She punched in the garage code and called back, “They work until late. God willing, I’ll be back by then.” She waved one last time and went inside.
It was only then that I remembered something that had bugged me at first but I hadn’t noticed: we didn’t have any clubs near our area. Even the urban area of our town only had bars and a…ahem…gentleman’s club. For a cold, horrifying second, I thought maybe that was where Craig was bringing her, but he couldn’t. Even he wasn’t stupid enough to do something like that…hopefully.
Alan and Amanda were surfing channels when I came in. “Did you put the pizza in?” I asked.
“I was going to,” Alan said, not looking at me, “But then I realized I’d rather have you do it.”
I knocked the remote out of his hand and fled when he made to come at me. I know they aren’t exactly coming off as siblings-of-the-year, but I really did love the two of them. Amanda was getting me worried but I loved her all the same. Just…you can’t really tell a teenage sibling you love them and have it not be awkward. Especially if they are the same age as you.
Secluded in my room with a can of Coke, I considered popping in a game but couldn’t get up the enthusiasm. Maybe it was because I didn’t want to get too into it before Kayla left. I smiled, flattered that she wanted my opinion on how she looked. “Amazing,” was going to be my response anyway. I couldn’t imagine anything make her look less gorgeous than she always did.
I wondered if she was changing now…
I looked over toward the window, then turned back, slamming my fist into my knee. No. No no no. I shouldn’t. I looked again. Erotic curiosity was driving me. It wasn’t like I wanted to peep for my own enjoyment. Yeah, I thought she was sexy, but she wasn’t just a pair of tits balanced on an ass. All the same…those were gorgeous.
“Shit,” I hissed, getting up and pacing. Every time I turned toward the window, I seemed to get a little closer. Finally, I found myself at the edge of the window and fighting to hold myself back. She had let me see her in her pajamas, after all.
That’s different than seeing her in her bra and panties! another voice shouted in my head.
It was a desperate struggle, my respect for her privacy fighting against morbid curiosity. I’d love to say the respect won out but…well, a sixteen-year-old boy’s interest in women is hard to refuse. I still feel awful about it and can only justify it by saying I was young. No excuse, but there you go.
I told myself I would take one quick peak, no more. Even if I could see something, I wouldn’t continue to look. I’d shut my blinds and go on the computer or something. I should have shut the blinds anyway but they were on the other side of the window. I held my breath, praying she wasn’t looking in my direction, and glanced around the edge.
My breath exploded in relief. Her curtains were shut. I sagged onto my beanbag chair, putting my face in my hands. I really needed to stop this habit. First, looking in on Amanda and Alan, which Amanda now knew about. If I started trying to look in on Kayla, and she saw me…I didn’t want to lose her. I rubbed my face, trying to rid myself of that urge to look.
My phone buzzed in my pocket. I took it out to find one new text from Joe.
Joe: Anything from Jessica yet?
Me: Nope. She said she’ll move on it when she’s ready.
Joe: Hope it’s soon.
Me: Me too.
Joe: Any word on what she wants in return?
Joe: Damn, dude. You okay?
Me: I guess. What you doing?
Joe: Me and Brad are chilling. Wanna come over?
Me: Gotta stay home. My folks went out tonight and Kayla is planning on coming over after Craig drops her back off.
Joe: So she’ll be back around ten tonight?
Me: She promised it would be earlier.
Joe: Oh, I trust her. I don’t trust Craig Cuntface.
Me: Neither do I.
Joe: Keep a good watch, man. Hit us up soon.
Me: I will.
I just sat in my beanbag chair, thinking about everything. So many things I could have done differently. So many things I wanted to do. I sighed and rubbed my face again. It was only three days into the school year. Jesus.
I must have been sitting for longer than I thought, for my phone buzzed again with a message from Kayla.
Kayla: I’m ready. Come over.
Me: Be right there.
I bounded down the stairs, my enthusiasm making my steps echo like cannon shots. “You burn your room down?” Amanda asked, coming to check on the noise.
I pulled on my shoes. “I’m going next door for a sec.”
Her face darkened. “Why?”
“Because I feel like it.”
She looked so disgruntled that I couldn’t help sticking my tongue out at her as I closed the door.
I knocked on Kayla’s door, taking a happy moment to imagine I was knocking so that I could take her out on a date. She opened the door and, well, normally just looking at her made me want to take her out on a date. The sight of her now forced the words halfway up my throat, where Common Sense caught them.
She was dressed in a long red dress with a black blazer draped around her shoulders. The midriff of the dress was patterned with shiny beads and bordered by ruffles. The dress ended around her calves and my eyes slid along her gorgeous legs (did I mention those were gorgeous too?) to the shiny black chunky heels around her gorgeous feet. Yes, I repeat myself, but the English language hasn’t made an adjective strong enough to describe how she looked. If I could turn ‘Kayla’ into an adjective, that would be as close as I could come.
She had said nothing yet, clearly waiting for my opinion. Her hands were clutched around a small, green purse and she twisted her foot back and forth, biting her lower lip. She was so adorable. I tried speaking and ended up flapping my lips soundlessly a couple times before my vocal chords woke up. “Amazing,” I squeaked. I cleared my throat, trying to make it sound casual, and repeated: “Amazing.”
“Really?” she said, sounding pleased. She had put on some makeup as well. Not too much, but enough so that her eyes were sharper and her cheeks rosier. She had also put on some lipstick so her already-kissable lips were now begging mine to close the gap and meet them.
“Absolutely. You’re more beautiful than usual.”
She giggled, blushing. “Why, thank you, Mr. Harrison. Perhaps you’d like to steal me away tonight.”
“Yes,” I said on reflex, not kidding in the slightest.
I knew she recognized my seriousness and, for a moment, she seemed ready to agree. She collected herself and smoothed out the hem of the dress. “I don’t know how much dancing I’ll be doing in these shoes,” she said, “But I don’t have a huge selection.”
I made a loud, disbelieving sound and she glared at me. “Something to say?” she asked, folding her arms. It had the same effect as on Amanda: her breasts were pushed up and out. But Kayla’s breasts were so much larger and fuller that its effect on me was not only immediate, but stronger. I squeezed my legs together, begging my erection to go down.
“Good,” she said, brightening again.
I caught a whiff of that perfume that she normally wore and I finally couldn’t take it anymore. “What is that perfume you’re wearing?”
She frowned. “Perfume?”
“Yeah. I noticed it at school. It smells amazing.”
“I don’t wear perfume.”
“If you’re going to be lumping me into some stereotype…” She raised a fist.
I knew she was kidding but the sight was still enough to make me stammer, “N…no! Never! Of course not! But then, what is that smell?”
“I don’t know. I put on deodorant but I haven’t worn perfume in a while.” She blinked, figuring it out at the same moment I did. “Are you saying I smell like this normally?”
“Yes,” I said, then quickly added, “It smells wonderful.”
She blushed again. She leaned forward and gave me a peck on the cheek. The scent became stronger as she leaned in. I caught a fruity fragrance but what stuck out for me was the hint of something else that put me in mind of roses; a light but intoxicating smell that made my sinuses tickle a little while caressing them at the same time. If I use the word ‘gorgeous’ to describe the smell (which I should), I’m going to have to start paying royalties to whoever came up with the word.
A car horn blared behind them. I turned and saw Craig’s Chevy parked along the curb. He was glaring at me with his usual bile. Had he seen what she did? Maybe. It could have just been his normal hatred of me.
“Gotta go,” she said, notably less enthusiastic than before.
“Promise you’ll text me if you need to?”
“I should be back in a couple hours.”
“Don’t worry, Jack,” she said, smiling at me, “I will if I need you.” She crossed her lawn and got into Craig’s car. Craig, I saw, had not bothered to go the extra mile with his clothes; he was still wearing what he wore to school. What a guy. I watched them drive off, praying that she would be home early. Not because she promised to come over afterwards; just so I knew she was safe.
Videogames still didn’t hold much interest for me. I picked up the controller and almost immediately set it down. I looked around my room for something else to do. My computer didn’t promise much in the way of entertainment. My books had all been read at least five times and none were making a strong case for a sixth. None of my few movies were jumping out at me. I leaned back in the chair and my eyes rested on my boxing gloves hanging from a hook in my closet.
I had taken up boxing as a hobby a couple years ago. I never actually did much with it beyond punch a bag, but it was a good stress-reliever and, at the moment, I needed one. I changed into my workout uniform, strapped on my gloves, and went down to our workout room in the basement. It wasn’t much: a treadmill, an elliptical, a set off dumbbells, a bench-press rack, and the punching bag. I took a light swing at it and just the feeling of hitting something solid felt good.
For the next hour, the bag swayed to and fro as I gave it a merciless beating. I had only meant for a fifteen minute workout at most but the more I punched, the more my frustrations boiled to the surface. My fists were flying on reflex, smacking into the bag with painful force. I was panting raggedly, my muscles on fire as I punched again and again and again. Craig’s face kept floating into vision, grinning at me sadistically. No matter how hard I punched, no matter how fast my fists flew, no matter how much sweat coated my face, it wouldn’t go away. And that fury only fueled my workout more.
I didn’t even realize an hour had passed until I finally collapsed, gasping for breath and drenched with sweat. My limbs were quaking and I didn’t even try to move for a further five minutes. I was finally able to pull myself shakily to my feet and tug off the gloves and knuckle wrappings. My knuckles were scraped and bruised but by now were too callused to be shredded by a simple workout.
I grabbed my phone and clicked it on. No new messages. I frowned. Sure, it had only been an hour but I had kind of hoped Kayla would send me a text letting me know she was okay. I sighed and wiped my face with a towel. She didn’t have to report to me, after all. Still, I worried.
It was only when I got upstairs and took a good, deep breath that I realized something else: I stank. Like, little green stink-lines coming off my body stank. If Alan or Amanda caught a whiff, I’d never hear the end of it. I slipped off my shoes silently and glided up the stairs, listening hard. I peeked over the landing and sighed with relief when I saw their door was closed. I could only guess what was going on behind the door but if they were distracted, all the better.
In the bathroom, I put my phone on the counter and quickly stripped, the stench becoming worse as more skin was revealed. I stepped into the shower and reveled in the cleansing sensation as the warm water wicked away the sweat. Yes, even after a workout, I preferred hot showers. Rejuvenation and all that.
I was soaping up my body, feeling the stink wash off with the soap suds, when I heard a knocking on the door. “Occupied!” I called. Seriously, why even knock? They could hear the shower going.
The door opened. “Hey, what the—” I pulled back the curtain to find Amanda standing in the doorway.
“Enjoying the shower?” she asked innocently.
“I’d enjoy it more if you would beat it,” I snapped, closing the curtain. I didn’t hear the door close so I looked out again. Amanda was playing with my phone. “Amanda!”
She dropped it. “Sorry,” she said unconvincingly, “No word from your dream girl yet?”
“None of your business.”
“Need some help washing?”
“No. Beat it!”
She shrugged and flounced off, swinging her ass much the same way she had that morning. I growled and returned to washing myself. I was feeling relatively cleaner but Amanda had gotten me in a foul mood again, meaning I’d have to spend even more time in the shower. I liked showering but hated when I was forced to use it as a form of therapy.
Finally, I was feeling calmer and was able to step out and towel off. I gave myself a sniff. Not exactly rosy but at least I didn’t want to puke now. I slid on my boxers and grabbed my phone and the workout clothes that still smelled like a toxic biohazard. I had to hold them at arm’s-length to tolerate the stench.
I peeked out into the hallway, just in case Amanda was still waiting for me. Their door was closed and, guessing what they were doing, I slid along as quietly as I could. My bare feet didn’t seem to be as effective wearing socks did and every tiny squeak of the wood floor seemed to scream, “Jack is sneaking around!”
As I drew closer to their door, I could hear a loud slapping sound coming from inside. I knew what it was. At this point, there was no reason to wonder. I was level with the keyhole when the old curiosity struck. I immediately knocked it back but it was replaced by a new question: how did Amanda know I was outside when I looked in? I didn’t make any noise, at least not that I knew. Was it just a lucky guess or was it an every time sort of thing?
“Fuck,” I muttered as I knelt down and peered through the keyhole.
Alan was positioned behind Amanda, gripping her hips and slamming into her with a sound like clapping hands. His eyes were screwed shut and his hands were gripping her waist so hard, veins were popping out in his arms. Amanda was on her knees and elbows, rocking in time with his thrusts. Her breasts were swaying back and forth, the nipples just barely brushing the covers of the bed.
Her mouth was opened and she was panting, but her eyes were locked right on the keyhole…right on my eyes. Her mouth curled up into a grin and she started moaning louder, slamming back into Alan’s thrusts, sending ripples down her ass every time their groins met. Shit, she’d seen me again! How did she do that?!
I got up in disgust and walked away. I had hardly taken three steps when Amanda’s voice rang out, “Oh, yes, brother. Pound me with that big cock! I know you love feeling it in my pussy!” Even odds which ‘brother’ she was talking to.
I buried the stinky workout clothes in my hamper and checked my phone again. No messages. Shit. And it was already seven. She’d been out for almost three hours. Double shit.
I opened my laptop and searched for online applications for Gamestop. They had templates to fill out, but you had to drop them off in the store. I printed one out, filled in the blanks, and sat it on my desk. I checked the clock again. It had only taken ten minutes. And still no message from Kayla. Now I was really worried.
I sent her a text.
Me: Hey, Kayla, hope you’re having fun. Message me soon.
I turned on my PS3 and loaded up Skyrim, but couldn’t even lose myself in the fun of dragon-slaying. I played a further ten minutes, sluggish time that was not elevated by the game, before I looked at my phone again. No message.
I opened my phone, loaded up her contact, and hit ‘call’. It rang five times before it went to voicemail.
“Hey, this is Kayla! Leave me a message!”
“Kayla, it’s Jack. Hey, where are you? Give me a call back when you get this.”
I tried playing again but was so distracted and worried I soon shut it off and began pacing again. A light swept across my window and I looked out to see a car pulling into Kayla’s driveway, but it wasn’t Craig’s Chevy. Their garage opened and the car, I think it was a Honda, glided in. Now her parents were home and she’d probably get in trouble again. God damn it, what the fuck was Craig doing?!
My phone buzzed and I almost tripped diving for it. I opened up the messages eagerly but, to my incredible disappointment, it was a message from my dad.
Dad: Hey, Jack. Your mom and I are going to get a hotel room tonight. We’re going to be out later than expected. See you in the morning. Remember what I said about burning down the house.
I had neither the energy nor the desire to trade barbs with my dad right now. I was halfway tempted to go over to her house, introduce myself to her parents, and express my concerns. After what had happened the past two nights, I didn’t think I’d have a problem convincing them that something was wrong.
The door to my room swung opened and I whirled around to find, shit, that Amanda was leaning against the doorway, one leg curled up and a hand on her hip. “Hey, Jack,” she said smoothly.
She was dressed in a matching set of lacy red underwear: a strapless bra that barely came above her nipples and a thong that was more string than fabric. She walked in and turned around to close the door, making sure to bend at the waist so her thong-clad ass stuck out in my direction.
I realized I was still only dressed in my boxers and I made a dash for my dresser. Amanda beat me to it and leaned against the drawers, one finger stuck in her lip. “You weren’t planning on getting dressed, were you? I like the way you are now.”
Wait…was she trying to… “Amanda, get out,” I said, trying to keep my voice steady, “I need to get dressed.”
“Do you have to?” she asked with a pout, “I’m comfortable like this.”
“Well, I’m not. Now move.”
“But then how are we going to play?”
She was. Good God above, she was trying to seduce me now. What she was doing with Alan was one thing, I didn’t give a shit, but she wasn’t coming after me next. “I’m not in the mood to play anything,” I snarled, “Get out. I asked you nicely.”
“There was no ‘please’ so how could it be nice?”
“Please move and please get out of my room. Please.”
“That’s better. And no.”
This was getting really annoying now. “Where’s Alan?” I asked, “Why don’t you go play some more with him?”
“He’s taking a bath,” she sighed, sidling up next to me. I tried to shift away but she had me trapped against my bed. “He always takes such a long time in the bath.” She grinned up at me with a twinkle in her eye. “Which gives us some time together.”
She pushed me onto the bed with surprising strength and I scooted back against the wall as she tried to straddle me. My mind was racing. I finally blurted out, “You can’t! Mom and dad will be home soon!”
“No they won’t, you little fibber,” she giggled, “They sent me a text saying they’d be out until tomorrow morning. We have all the time we want.”
“I don’t want to!”
“But I do.”
She gripped my shoulders painfully and straddled my waist, resting her pussy on my dick. She started running her hands around my chest and arms. “You’re pretty well cut,” she remarked, “Alan could stand to gain a little more muscle.”
“Thanks for the compliment but if you don’t get off me and leave, I’m going to kick your ass.”
“You can do whatever you want to my ass,” she whispered, leaning forward so her tits were in my face. I heard a smack and her eyes rolled up sexily. “Oh, my ass needs punishing.”
“Your ass needs to fuck off!”
She pushed hard on my shoulders and I was pinned against the wall. Damn, she was strong. I would have fought back harder but my muscles were still exhausted from my workout. “Jack, this is going to happen,” she said seriously, “So just try to enjoy it.”
She leaned down and started to kiss my neck. It tickled a little as her lips pressed and caressed the skin beneath my jaw. One of her hands slid up to run through my hair and her bra-covered breasts pressed into my naked chest. She licked up my neck and gently traced my ear with her tongue.
I was still too stunned to move. Worse still, my body was starting to react to what she was doing. I wasn’t going to do anything back. Hell no. But my fucking cock decided to wake up and stiffen beneath her thighs.
“Ohhhhh,” she moaned with a giggle, looking down at my crotch, “Someone’s enjoying this.”
“Amanda,” I said, trying and failing to push her off me, “Please stop.”
“But he doesn’t want me to,” she said, lowering her thong-covered pussy on my crotch, “And it would be rude to not give him some love.”
She started rubbing her pussy on my dick, keeping it in time with her licking and kissing. I could feel the contours and shape off her pussy through the thin fabrics of our underwear. Even in the thong, her pussy lips spread around the shape of my cock and began sliding up and down so it felt like my cock was being stroked by a very small hand. Her pussy was soaking as well, a warm and wet feeling that made the sliding feel even slicker.
She pulled her head back from my neck and looked me deep in the eyes. I tried again to push her off but she grabbed my arms and shoved them against the wall. I resolved to work out more…if I got out of this alive. She brought her face down and I tried to twist mine away but it was nowhere near enough. Please, God, help me! I thought
God must have heard my prayers. Just before her lips touched mine, my phone rang.
We both looked over at my phone but I recovered first. I managed to throw Amanda off me and seized my phone. Kayla was calling me. Amanda grabbed me from behind but I threw her off and onto the bed. I crawled on top of her, sitting on her to pin her to the bed and placing one of my hands over her mouth.
I answered my phone. “Kayla!” I said.
“Hey, Jack…?” Something was definitely wrong. There were tears in her voice.
“Kayla, what’s wrong? Where are you?”
“Jack…can you come get me please?”
Amanda was struggling. She was beating at me with her hands but my position meant that I had the strength. Eventually she stopped trying to hit me and instead started caressing my body with her hands. Her tongue darted out of her mouth and started licking my palm and it was a struggle to focus on Kayla.
“Of course!” I said, “Where are you?”
“Some place called The Old Gin Rummy. I don’t know exactly where it is.”
Oh, shit. “I know where it is. I’ll be right over, okay?”
“Please…just get here quick.” She was trying to hold back sobs and it broke my heart.
“I’ll be right over, sweetheart. I promise.” I hung up and got off Amanda, tearing open my drawers to find something to wear.
Amanda sat up, looking furious. “Sweetheart?!” she snarled.
I ignored her, tugging on some jeans and a T-shirt.
“She’s not going to do anything for you, you know that, right?” Amanda snapped, “I’m willing to let you plow me until you can’t move.”
“No thanks,” I said, grabbing my keys and my wallet.
“What is wrong with me?!” she shouted, pounding her fists on my mattress like a little kid.
I turned at the door and glared at her. “You’re my sister and you’re psychotic,” I responded, “I’d go on but I have more important stuff to do.”
The Old Gin Rummy (yes, it’s really called that) was not technically a club. It was a bar that had been around for almost a century and had only had the ‘club’ part of it attached in the last couple of years to facilitate more business. It had also gotten a reputation for attracting skanks and druggies, not the really nasty kind you’d find in inner-city bars, but bad enough that someone like Kayla would find it uncomfortable, if not unbearable. Craig was pulling a real dick move bringing her there, but it was somewhat understandable; he was still underage but his cousin worked as the bartender and he often bragged that he never had to worry about getting supplied.
If he was trying to get Kayla to drink…For Craig’s sake, he better be well out of sight when I got there.
The bar was situated in the urban center, a good ten minute drive from my house. I got there in five, courtesy of a lax police presence and a disregard for a couple red lights. I pulled up out front, seeing the usual crowd of college-age wastoids and wannabe hipsters hanging around out front while the strobe lights inside flashed different colors to the beat of the music.
I pulled out my phone and called Kayla again. “I’m here. Where are you?” I asked.
“Around back, in the alley,” she replied. She still sounded like she was crying.
I pulled around back of the bar and saw her standing at the entrance of the alley, her dress wrinkled and scrunched and her makeup streaked by tears. She fell into the seat beside me, her face hard and fierce as she tried to hold back more tears. “Please take me home,” she said in a voice fighting to stay steady.
“Of course.” I pulled away from the bar, glancing around once for Craig.
“He’s not there,” she said shortly, “And, I’m sorry, but would you mind if we were quiet for a little bit?”
I nodded again. The last thing she probably wanted to talk about was what had happened. If she wanted to tell me, she could do it when she was ready. I drove away from the bar, deciding that I would adhere a little closer to traffic laws on the way back.
We had been driving for about five minutes, hitting nearly every single red light we came across, before she spoke, “When we got there, he asked me if I wanted a drink. I told him that we were underage but he said his cousin could hook us up. I still didn’t want anything. He drank two beers before he pulled me out on the dance floor. It was nice dancing at first but he started getting wild, trying to get me to grind with him and anyone else nearby. I told him I didn’t want to and he said I should get up on the stage and dance for everyone. I told him no again and he started to get annoyed and told me I could just stand against the wall if I didn’t want to have fun.”
She wiped her eyes and took a few shuddering breaths. “Guys kept hitting on me and he didn’t do anything about it. All he wanted to do was drink and try to get me to drink too.”
“Are you okay?” I asked. A stupid question, yeah, but I wanted to say something so she wouldn’t have to keep thinking about what happened.
“I’m fine,” she said, “No one hurt me and no one tried to grope me or anything. But he just seemed to lose interest. It’s like he didn’t want me with him anymore.”
That was a familiar sentence, but usually came after he had his way with his target. “You have everything from your purse, right?”
“I checked. Yes.” She was silent for another couple of minutes until she said, in almost a whisper, “When he made out with me, it was like being attacked by a dog that had beer-breath.” She shuddered. I just heard the part where she said Craig had made out with her and that familiar boulder crushed my innards and my teeth ground together so hard I was convinced I would break them.
“So what happens now?” I asked. I wanted to ask, “So are you going to dump him?” but decided to use at least a little tact.
“I don’t know,” she said, wiping her eyes, “If I’m going to break up with him, I’m going to do it in person. But…I don’t know, I’m just too angry to think right now. Maybe in the morning…” Even she didn’t seem to think he could talk his way out of this one.
Trying to cheer her up, I said, “Well, at least you know not to go back to that place anytime soon.”
“Oh, God, no!” she said, disgusted, “Just thinking about it makes me pukish.”
“If you’re going to puke, roll down the window. This is vintage vinyl.”
She glared at me. “I’ll puke wherever I feel like, thank you very much. If I decide to paint you with a puke-brush, you better be happy I chose you to create a masterpiece with.”
I laughed. She laughed too and seemed to ease up a little bit. “Well, if you need to, let me know. We’ll figure something out.”
She stared at me for a second, then placed a hand on my shoulder. “Thank you, Jack,” she said quietly.
“Of course!” I said. I really should be thanking her for calling when she did but that tidbit of information was not important at the moment.
She checked her phone and said, “I’m sorry about not texting you earlier. Craig was very insistent on keeping my attention. My parents called too. Shit, what am I going to say to them?”
“That you were in a bad situation that you had no way out of.”
She tugged her blazer a little closer around her body. “Would it be okay if we didn’t go into the details?”
“We?” I asked.
“It’s about time you met my parents. I mean, if we’re going to be hanging out more, they need to put a face to your name.”
I would have liked to meet her parents under better circumstances but hey, maybe saving their daughter from an asshole would make a decent first impression. One hopes, anyway.
I parked in her driveway and hurried around to open the door for her. She smiled at me and said, “My, you’re polite.”
“Well, I may not have taken you out but I’m bringing you back home. You could probably stand to have some courtesy shown tonight.”
“Jack, you have no clue how right you are.”
The porch light of her house came on and the door banged open. Whatever I expected her father to look like, it wasn’t what came storming from around the corner, death in his gaze. Her father must have had Samoan blood or something to be so huge. His arms were bulging with muscle and every step he took seemed like it would crack the pavement underneath his feet. His hair was buzzed short, making his eyebrows seem extra large. At the moment, they were two thunderbolts the met right on the bridge of his nose.
He pointed a giant finger at me. “Are you Craig?” he boomed, making my bones rattle.
I was so intimidated by him that I fumbled for a response, but Kayla saved me: “No, dad, this is Jack. He lives next door.”
Mr. Hannigan blinked a couple times, each blink releasing a little bit of his anger. “You’re Mike and Hannah’s kid?” he asked, his voice suddenly very polite. I nodded cautiously, still aware that he could probably throttle me with two of his fingers. “Well, it’s nice to finally meet you!” he boomed again, this time with gentility. He shook my hand vigorously. I have fairly big hands but mine almost disappeared in his.
“Nice to meet you too, sir.”
He frowned again. “Why did you bring her home? Where’s Craig?” Saying Craig’s name made the thunderbolts reappear on his forehead.
This time it was Kayla’s turn to fumble and for me to make the save. “Craig’s indisposed. Kayla called me to come pick her up.”
“Honey, why didn’t you call us?” her father said, “We would have come right away.”
She still hesitated. I stepped in again, “I happened to be in the area and she texted that she needed a ride. It was no problem.” She flashed me a grateful smile.
“Then thank you, Jack,” her father said again, shaking my hand, “Kayla, I think we need to talk about this problem with time you seem to be having.”
“I know, dad,” she said, looking down, “But can we talk about it tomorrow? I’m not really up for it right now.”
He saw the look on her face, heard the tears in her voice, and didn’t press the issue. “All right, honey. Say goodnight to Jack then go to bed, okay?”
“I will,” she said, smiling up at him with tears in her eyes, “Soon.”
He smiled at her, nodded at me, then went inside. I turned to her. “Are you going to be okay?”
She nodded, brushing her eyes. “I just need to go to bed. This night has just been…so fucked up.”
“I won’t argue that.”
“And thanks for covering for me,” she said, looking up at me, “I didn’t know how I was going to explain where I was.”
“You were at a club,” I said, “No big deal.”
“Well, I’m still Daddy’s Little Girl so…” She twirled her finger in the air. Suddenly she pulled me in for a tight hug. My arms went around her by instinct and we just held each other for a minute. Her heels made her about eye-level with me and our cheeks rested together. “Thank you,” she whispered.
“Anytime,” I whispered back.
She drew back, keeping her hands on my shoulders for a couple seconds longer, then turned to her house. I watched her go inside, where she turned around one last time and waved at me. I waved back. Then the door closed and she was gone.
I let out a long, low sigh. What a night. I turned back to my house, praying that Amanda had decided to go to bed. What the hell was I going to do about her? Now she was after me for some reason. What the fuck…
My phone buzzed suddenly and I pulled it out to discover a text from Kayla.
Kayla: Thank you for being the most wonderful guy ever. <3
I smiled at that. It felt nice to do something good for her. And now Craig was officially on the shit-list. Maybe I wasn’t going to need Jessica after all.
Thinking about my plan dampened my spirits. Once again, I felt like I was manipulating stuff just as much as Craig was. He was doing a perfectly fine job of fire-bombing himself. He didn’t need any help from me. But, if he somehow talked his way out of this…No, there was no way. Kayla wasn’t stupid.
All the same…
I spun around and walked to my house. I couldn’t think about this anymore tonight. Craig was in trouble and I was going to do everything to make sure that he didn’t retaliate. I realized, with a slight jolt, that she wasn’t the only one he would come after. He’d be coming after me as well.