Chapter 4: Of honesty, green shirts and mystery men

After they'd spent a night a part the tension between Frankie and Nicole had vanished completely. So, the pair of them ventured into school together the next day and headed off to their respective classes like always. Nicole, however, was on a mission.

Usually, when she was traveling down the hallway and headed to her second PE class of the week, Nicole would curse the moron that had arranged for to the few PE classes she had to be first thing in the morning. This time, there was only one thing on her mind.

She was going to corner Emily in the girl's locker room before PE and discover why, exactly, she had lied.

Filled with a sense of purpose, Nicole skipped through the gym doors and straight into the girl's locker room. She was earlier for this class than normal and therefore the room was occupied with so many changing girls that it looked quite a bit smaller.

"Excuse me," Nicole spoke politely and hurried past several girls, elbowing one in the side when side when she didn't move quickly enough.

"Emily," she called as she turned down the aisle of lockers where she knew the dark-skinned girl would be.

"Hey, Nicole," Emily greeted with a smile and pulled up her shorts, "You're here early."

"Yeah," Nicole nodded and made her way towards the other girl with her hands on her hips, "I wanted to talk to you."

"About what?" Emily asked, tucked a stray strand of black hair behind her ear and bent down to tie the laces of her shoes.

"You lied."

"Yeah," Emily chuckled and decided to play the oblivious role, "and anybody who says they never have is lying."

Nicole cast her friend an exasperate look and twisted the dial of her lock. She wasn't in the mood for jokes.

"You said you had to walk your dog!"

"I can't pick up on the message you're trying to send me," Emily sighed and crossed her arms.

"You can't have a dog."

By now, Nicole's locker had been successfully opened and the girl was pulling out her routine baggy pink t-shirt, dark blue sweat shorts and runners.

"Why not?" There was a smirk on Emily's face now.

"Because your mother's allergic!" Nicole sighed and began to change. She was slowly losing her patience with Emily's oblivious attitude.

"My mother's allergic to bees, tics, yeast, dogs-

"That's the one!" Nicole exclaimed and slipped off her jeans.

"So?"

"Quit playing games," Nicole rolled her eyes as she pulled her shorts up and tightened the string, "You lied about having to go walk your dog because you wanted to get out of my house."

"What's your point, Nicole?" Emily shrugged and sat down on a nearby bench. By now, the locker room was quite a bit emptier then it had been upon Nicole's arrival. Therefore it had expanded to its original size.

Nicole looked at Emily in surprise, her mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water. Had she really just admitted it? She'd actually wanted to get away from her?

Emily laughed, cleared her throat and then wore a thoughtful expression. It looked like she was choosing her words carefully, "I wanted to leave you and Frankie alone. You know… So you two could resolve your… uh… differences."

"It only got worse after you left," Nicole sniffed and replaced her casual t-shirt with her gym one.

"Really?" Emily looked surprised.

"What?" Nicole hissed out angrily, spinning towards Emily with her hands on her hips, "Did you think that we would just kiss and make up after you left? Where do you get off being so conceited? You weren't the reason we argued, you know."

"I really prefer to be called proud instead of conceited," Emily looked up at Nicole with a pinched look on her face. It was as if the other girl was having a difficult time refraining from bursting out into laughter.

"Whatever," Nicole punctuated the single word with an enraged snort and bent down to tie up the laces of her shoes. How dare Emily look at her that way; as though this was all one big joke?

"I'm sorry," Emily giggled, "I don't mean to laugh."

"Oh, right," Nicole shot the other girl an annoyed look, "you're trying so hard."

"Alright, alright," Emily took some time to sober up, "I'll tell you why I left you and Frankie alone."

"Alright."

"Well," the dark-skinned girl chuckled, "it's so obvious that you two have the hots for each other and I knew I wasn't helping the natural process of hormones along by imposing on the two of you… so I left. There. Simple."

Simple?

Nicole looked at her friend like she'd grown another head. It. Was. Not. That. Simple. Period.

"Holy shit," the brunette groaned and, both shoelaces tired securely, stood up with a sigh, "I don't know what everybody around here smokes and I seriously hope I never find out."

Emily burst out into a fit of giggles again.

"Don't be stupid, Nicole. The general consensus is that you are Frankie's lobster. Hands down."

"No," Nicole shook her head and smiled at the 'Friend's reference, "You see… we could never… I mean –uh- Frankie's not the go-getter type. "

"Ah," Emily nodded as though she understood, "but, just because he doesn't initiate the contact doesn't mean he wouldn't like some loving. Nic, you could always start it, you know."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Don't play stupid."

"I'm not!" Nicole, frustrated, threw her hands up into the air and stared at Emily with a disbelieving look on her face, "I can't start anything, Emily."

"Why not?"

"I'm terrified, that's why!"

"Of what? That'll he reject you?" Emily snorted, "Trust me, babe, that isn't going to happen."

"I'm not interested in Frankie," Nicole rolled her eyes and collapsed onto the bench beside her friend with a groan, "I'm just… scared of-

"What?"

"Well," Nicole sighed, "I was going to tell you but, seeing as how I can't get a word in edgewise-

"No," Emily interrupted again and shook her head, "I promise that I'll let you talk."

Nicole gave Emily appointed look that clearly said; 'You had better not' and then started her explanation, "There's only a few circumstances where I would be, you know, inclined to start a relationship. Circumstance 1; if I had genuine lovey-dovey feelings for the guy (Frankie is just a friend! Why do I have to keep defending our relationship?) Circumstance 2; there is no circumstance 2."

"Can I ask one question?"

"Sure."

"Why is there only one circumstance?"

"Because… I'm not very confident when it comes to relationships," Nicole paused and Emily had to wave her hands to encourage the other girl to continue, "A few years ago I was dating a boy who was two years older than me… and I really loved him, at the time, or at least I think I did, and well, when I told him I wasn't ready to sleep with him he dumped me. I was crushed."

"So, you're scared of getting hurt again?"

"I know," Nicole groaned and buried her face in her hands so that her next sentence came out slightly muffled, "It's stupid. It was so long ago, after all. I should be over it… but I'm not."

"Yes, it is stupid," Emily nodded in agreement, "but understandable."

"Gee. Thanks," Nicole rolled her eyes and nudged her friend in the shoulder.

"I meant it, Nic," Emily laughed, "It's understandable."

There was a pause then, a comfortable pause that neither of them wished would end. Everything was simple now; it all made sense. However, while they may have felt the same, the thoughts that were running through both girls' heads weren't similar in the least.

Nicole hoped that Emily would just leave everything alone now.

Emily thought that it was up to her to catapult Nicole into a healthy relationship. It would take some time, work and craftiness but there was absolutely no stopping Emily Pebane when she had set her mind to a task.

"You just need to meet the right guys, Nic," Emily said with a wink.

"Right," Nicole groaned and buried her face in her hands.


The bell for second period had rung minutes ago and Frankie was only just collecting his books from his locker. The thought of being late for his next class didn't weigh much on his mind. In fact, Frankie sometimes tried to be late. There was no better way to waste his day.

With a binder tucked under one arm, the blonde boy reached for his calculator with the other. Perhaps he could try and get lost again. The moment he thought it Frankie chucked the idea out the window. He had his suspicions that Mrs. Lee wouldn't swallow that excuse for a third time.

"Hey," a loud, booming voice called from behind him. Frankie jumped and spun around to face whoever it was. He blinked in surprise when the familiar form of Harley Dennis stalking towards him. Frankie double-checked to make sure he didn't have a kick-me sign stuck to his back. When the results came back negative he turned back to face Harley with an uncertain smile on his face.

"Hey, man," Harley greeted Frankie kindly, "You remember yesterday right?"

Yes, he did. Frankie winced mentally. The scene wasn't something he'd planned on recalling anytime soon. He nodded in answer.

"Uh, well," Harley continued on, grinning even wider, "That chick you were with? Nicole? Yeah, well, I always see you two together and I was wondering… Do you two have a 'thing'?"

"Why?" Frankie asked in slight surprise. He couldn't bring himself to consider all of the reasons a big guy like Harley Dennis might have for asking such a question.

"I was going to ask her for her number," Harley grinned broadly, "The girl's a babe. I'd do her, but, she doesn't seem like the cheating type so I wanted to ask you first. You know, in case she'd be a waste of my time."

A waste of his time? Nicole? A waste of his time?

Frankie glared at Harley through angry, narrowed eyes. He couldn't bring himself to tell the truth. There was no way he was going to give somebody like Harley the 'go-ahead' with Nicole.

"So…" Harley penetrated the silence when Frankie failed to answer him immediately, "You aren't fucking her, are you?"

Frankie fought to keep the fists at his sides still.

"She's my girlfriend," he finally spat out and then, after realizing what he'd said, prayed that Nicole never found out.

"Oh," Harley's face fell for a moment and the boy rubbed his chin before opening his mouth again, "How is she, then? In the sack, I mean?"

"Fine," Frankie answered stiffly, growing steadily angrier every time the idiot in front of him decided to speak.

"Wahoo," Harley beamed and clapped Frankie on the shoulder, "I bet she's better than you say. I mean, seriously, a girl with legs and tits like that would be an adventure. I'm jealous, man."

"Whatever," Frankie snapped and, pissed off, shoved Harley's offending hand off of his shoulder, "I've gotta go. You know how it is… Clark's going to tear my ears off if I'm late again."

The blonde boy didn't give Harley a chance to reply before he pushed passed him and hurried down the hallway.


It was hours later and the evening sun was just beginning to set. Nicole sat on the old, tattered blue sofa in her sister's attic bedroom. Her mostly forgotten homework was propped open in her lap while she talked animatedly with Jaclyn about things girls generally like to chat about; men, shoes, food and the events of the day.

"I told Emily about Scott today," Nicole told her sister while absently chewing on the end of her pencil.

"Who's Emily?" Jaclyn looked up from her spot on the bed, where she'd been carefully debating on whether to where a low-cut, cleavage showing green top or a wine-colored top with long, flowing sleeves with her cute denim mini-skirt. Mentioned articles of clothing were spread out neatly in front of her. She was preparing for a date.

"A friend, who was trying to push Frankie and me together," Nicole shrugged and continued her toothed assault on the defenseless pencil.

"How does that make her any different from all of the other people who've been trying to set you two up?" Jaclyn queried and chewed thoughtfully on her bottom lip. Her usually curled hair was up in a messy bun and her glasses sat low on her nose. The normally stunning brunette looked like an aging librarian.

Frankie, who she was sure felt nothing but physical attraction for her older sister, wouldn't have been very intrigued by the site. Nicole smiled wistfully at the thought.

"I actually like her," Nicole shrugged, "and I knew that she wouldn't leave me alone if I didn't at least give her a reason."

Jaclyn smiled, "You did a damned good job of keeping all of the Scott drama hidden from the rest of the kids at school. I remember the way nobody could guess why the two of you broke up… After all, Scott had just finished praising your sexual prowess."

"You know that I didn't sleep with him," Nicole hissed and, looking very much annoyed, chucked an eraser at her sister, "I was fourteen."

"Ouch!" Jaclyn groaned exaggeratedly when the eraser made contact with her side. After a bout of laughter, the girl sobered and smiled kindly at her sister, "I know. I'm proud of you."

"Yeah," Nicole sighed and crossed her arms, "Then the bastard ran off and fucked my best friend. I should have guessed it would happen, really. Alicia couldn't believe it when I told her the reason we'd split up and later practically paid him to let her suck his dick."

"I never did like her," Jaclyn wrinkled her nose and gestured for her sister to come closer. As much as she loved the girl, Jaclyn couldn't even begin to count the number of times she'd heard this story. It was old and pointless. In the end, it only managed to make Nicole bitterer.

"Try this on for me," Jaclyn ordered and tossed the green top at Nicole who'd stood up from the couch.

"Why?"

"Because we look alike and I want to have a better idea of what I'll look like in it."

"That's ridiculous," Nicole scoffed and stared at the itty bitty top in her hands, "I'm loads curvier than you are. Why not just look in the mirror?"

"Don't be stupid," Jaclyn rolled her eyes, "I can't see my ass in the mirror."

"My ass is bigger than yours," Nicole snapped but changed into the shirt anyways. It was a snug fit and not at all what she was used to. However, after appraisal from her sister and a glance in the mirror, Nicole had to (grudgingly) admit that she didn't look too terrible in it.

"I'm so jealous," Jaclyn hissed, "Look at the way you fill it out! Damn. Why couldn't I have boobs like yours?"

"I've got mother's genes," Nicole said simply and blushed, embarrassed by the attention. Even at fourteen, her friends and Scott had insisted that they were her best asset. Now, sixteen, Nicole couldn't help but blame them for her past pain. After all, Scott wouldn't have noticed her, a lowly grade eight student, if it hadn't been for the unusual size of her bosom. They were a nuisance.

The phone rang downstairs. The girls glanced at each other, expecting the other to get it. Mr. and Mrs. Beck had gone to the local bar with a small group of friends. So, there would be nobody within close range of the phone.

It was too far.

"You're closer to the door," Jaclyn laughed and collapsed onto her bed, "You can keep my shirt, by the way. It'd be a crime for me to wear it now."

"Thanks a lot," Nicole rolled her eyes and rattled down the attic ladder at top speed, dumped the shirt in her own room and then made a mad dash for the phone.

"Hello?" she puffed into it and made a mental note to buy phones for levels one and two of their larger than standard-sized home.

"Nicole?" It was Emily.

"Hey, Emily," Nicole smiled and settled down into a chair at the kitchen table.

"What took you so long to answer the phone?" Emily laughed, "I was about to hang up."

"I was in the attic," Nicole shrugged and, dressed in only a purple bra began picking at the lint in her belly-button.

"Okay," Emily sighed, "I forgive you."

"I don't believe I said I was sorry," Nicole laughed.

"Slut," Emily said the word in an exaggeratedly vicious, would-be insulting kind of way.

"Yeah, yeah, I know," Nicole smirked, "What do you need, Emmy?"

"I've got a double date set up for you, Anthony and me," Emily chanted playfully on the other end, "That is, if you're up to it."

Nicole stifled a groan of complaint, "What's he like?"

"His name's Ren. He's a friend of Anthony's. I've met him a couple times, tall, dark-haired and handsome. Seemed friendly enough."

"He seemed friendly?" Nicole scoffed.

"Don't judge him before you've met him," Emily stomped her foot on the ground, "He hasn't done anything wrong."

"Yet."

"Come on," Emily insisted stubbornly. It was clear to Nicole that the other girl wouldn't go down without a fight.

"Why?"

"It's just one date. You don't have to like him or see him afterwards… and I'll be there too. What could go wrong?"

Visions of a dozen possible scenarios ran rampant in her mind's eye.

It was just one date.

"Okay," Nicole whispered and let her eyes flutter shut. She couldn't believe she'd just agreed to a date, with a mystery man, of all thing.


Butterfinger's Notes:

I'm so sorry this took so long to get here. I've been incredibly busy and, because I was sick at home today, I actually found the time to finish this chapter to my liking. At first, I had a lot of trouble finding drive for this chapter… it was so lacking in certain areas and seemed to be too long. Tell me what you think. Eternal love to all reviewers.

Eternal love to: Lindy, Miss Meowmicks, chosenchick16, Remington, irishbri, Dirty.Laundry

Dirty.Laundry: Well, it is kind of starting in the middle of things. After all, Nicole and Frankie have history and back-story. It doesn't make sense to start a story like this from scratch. That's all I can say right now, I'm afraid. Or else I'll give away important plot things. :B

chosenchick16: Thanks for letting me now. When I have the time I'll go back and edit the mistakes.

Miss Meowmicks: They're already enrolled in school, aye. Don't worry. We'll meet Sam and Philipina soon. Everything will make sense then. ;D

Lindy: I'm so sorry you were disappointed with the length of chapter three. Haha. I'll try to feed you and everybody else more. 3 I don't mind spamming. It's wonderful to hear everything reviewers have to say.