It was easy for Holly—and probably even easier for Kent—to take her mind of their feuding parents when she was sitting atop Kent's belly, her legs resting on his left and right and acting as balances for the apex of the triangle formed by her torso while his limbs, including the healing right leg, jutted straight outward across the bed. While others may not have found such a position comfortable or the constant necking the two continually perfected with each subsequent session a judicious use of time, this couple managed to make it work.

She didn't blame him for being almost numb from the shock of sharing this experience with a woman for the first time; she, too, could hardly believe that she was actually this close to having sex. His lack of effort at the moment could be forgiven, too, since she was just fine moving her hands up and down and across the upper half of his body multiple times without any reciprocation of such caressing. Soon enough, his entire body would be hers, and vice versa, but for now, exploring said body and contemplating what it looked like underneath those nice clothes of his would suffice. No doubt he was doing the same to her, though as a self-imposed rule he was mostly keeping his hands off and limiting his examination of her to an eyes-only approach.

"All right," Holly said after who knows how many minutes of wordless kissing and stroking. "I cave."

Kent raised an eyebrow at her, and then verbalized this expression: "Huh?"

"Can we take off your shirt?"

"Can we take off our shirts?"

"No, can we take off your shirt?"


"Why not?" she shrugged, tinkering with the buttons near the collar of his blue-striped brown polo shirt. "I want to see you shirtless, Kent."

"And believe me when I say the feeling is mutual," Kent nodded, "but Holly, I don't know why you would." He looked straight across, presumably at his chest, though in their current positions he may well have been sneaking a peek between her legs, not that there was anything to see while she was still wearing her jeans. "I mean, we both know I'm not the most attractive guy."

"If I was looking to get busy with a muscular model of a man," she said with unintended alliteration, which made her smile almost as much as her boyfriend, "I wouldn't be dating you, would I?"

"I suppose not."

"Besides, what have I told you about this self-deprecation?"

"That it's not sexy."

"Right," she said. "You don't need to be attractive, you just need to feel attractive."

"Except, by comparison, you—"

"Ah, ah," Holly stopped him, capping his mouth off with her index finger. "We're not so different. Blue eyes, brown hair, overall average in height and weight, Irish ancestry…and that's just our bodies. This disparity between us is just a figment of your imagination."

"I'm sorry."

"You can make it up to me," she said, as her lips steadily curved upward back into a smile. "By taking off your shirt."

Kent took a deep breath, but she couldn't discern whether it was because he felt bothered, nervous, or some combination of the two.

"Or…I could do it for you?"

"Holly, I just don't feel comfortable getting…naked with you just yet."

"Who's getting naked?" Holly laughed. "I'm just talking about you taking your shirt off! Be proud of your body, Kent!"

"I'm plenty proud of my body…"

"Great! Let's see it!"

"Doesn't it seem to you like all we ever do is make out?"

"What?" she laughed again. "No!"

"Sometimes it does to me."

"Well, that's not the case, and even if it was, why would you be complaining?"

"That's why," Kent replied, pointing upward at her at a 45 angle. "I'm afraid you might be enjoying certain parts of our relationship too much and other parts not enough."

"And you think all this pash is a problem?" she said, using Aussie slang.

Kent shrugged. "Everything in moderation, I say."

"Everything, no exceptions?" Holly smirked. "You do see the irony there, don't you?"

"You know what I mean, Holly," he said with a sigh. He rubbed his eyes, which were probably straining somewhat after looking upward for so long in the path of the light from the ceiling fan. "I can't believe I'm about to say this, but…maybe my dad was kind of right about you."

After what had been said earlier at the dinner table, this thought—she had to remind herself that it was only a thought—rightly made Holly's jaw drop open.

As she gaped at him, uncertain of what to say next, Kent added, holding his arms up in a surrendering position: "I know, I know, it sounds bad…but I'm not calling you a slut or anything. That's not what I mean. I just mean that maybe you're a little too interested in the physical aspect of our relationship and not giving the emotional aspect its due." He sighed, and then she let out her own right along with him. "I don't think someone has to sleep around to be addicted to sex. They can still be that way while remaining monogamous. And it probably works for some couples, too, but if that's what's going on here, between you and me…well, I don't think it'd be good for us."

"Kent, you don't know anything about my mother," Holly said.

"Only what you tell me," Kent replied. "By the way, I'm starting to get a cramp in my side from laying in this position for so long, so—"

"I know, me too," she said, and so she took a minute to crawl off his body while he pulled out from under hers, until they sat beside each other on the bed. Then he took her right hand in his left, signaling her with his touch that he was ready to continue this conversation. "So, my Mum," she said as she looked away from Kent and instead at the boring brown carpet of his bedroom. "It's actually the opposite of what you said: she slept around, but that doesn't mean she was addicted to sex."

"My parents do that, too," Kent remarked, contradicted his previous line of thought even though he'd never stated it as absolute. "They just aren't smart enough to divorce over it, or they just don't care. Probably a little of both."

"Hello?" Holly said. "We were talking about my Mum?"

"Right," Kent said. "Sorry. Go on."

"Anyway, my Mum—Pam, if you really want to know her name, though it feels like my tongue is burning whenever I say it—she cheated on my Dad because he couldn't satisfy her needs. You know…sexually."

Kent's eyes slowly opened to their widest as he experienced the shock of this revelation. "When I told you earlier that I wasn't ready, Holly—"

She saved him from his worry and stopped him in the middle of his sentence by moving her hand up his arm until it rested on his shoulder. "It's okay, Kent." She blushed and smiled and the two then embraced one another. "There's a big difference between not being ready for sex and not being satisfied with sex. And luckily," she said as she kissed his cheek, "you and I are mostly on the same page."

"So I still make you hot," Kent said while she stroked his hair and he caressed her thigh. "That's good to know."

"And do you ever," she grinned. They kissed each other on the lips once more. "Hey, you know what I just realized?"

"Please don't tell me you're ready," Kent said. "Not when we just agreed on the opposite a few short seconds ago."

"Don't be silly," Holly said. "Leave that to me. I just realized that, by telling you about my parents' sexual problems, not only did I expose myself to a series of horrible mental images, I also didn't add any real substance to what should be a serious discussion of our own sexuality."

"What do you mean?"

"It's not just that I'm not really qualified to talk about the details of my Mum and Dad's breakup. It's that what I did tell you was completely generic; any dill could pick it up in a psychology book. I mean, of course one person's going to leave the other if the sex isn't working for them, right?"

"Uh huh," Kent nodded.

"And now I'm just rambling on like a Galah."

"I'm so glad I know what that is without you having to tell me."

Kent and Holly looked into each other's eyes for a minute, and then she asked him, "You up for another round?"

"Bring it on."

"Or take it off," she said as she lunged forward and back onto him, pushing Kent down onto the pillow while she moved her lips across his face and he ran his hands through her hair and down her back.

A minute or so of this revitalizing action was quelled suddenly by Holly's ringing cell phone, which was sitting on Kent's bedside table. Annoyed, she lifted herself back off of Kent and looked at who was calling. With a sigh indicating even greater annoyance, she said, "It's Samara."

"Can't you call her back?"

"I would," Holly said as she flipped open the device. "But you know her. She's persistent." Putting the phone to her while she caressed Kent's chest, Holly answered: "Hi, Samara. What's going on?"

"Well, you answered, Ozzie" Samara replied, "so I'm guessing your mind hasn't been blown away by sex with Bruce."

"No," Holly said, "because we haven't had sex yet, which is more than can be said about you and Cameron."

"So he told you? That's good. Did he mention that I was still naked when I called him?"

Holly turned to Kent, who could hear the voice on the other end of the line clearly due to his close proximity. "No…" she said. "But I think, like me, Kent knows better than to think too hard about anything you say, Samara."

"I'm sure he was thinking just hard enough."

Holly groaned. "What do you want?"

"For you to tell Claire that I gave Cameron a blowjob."

"You're starkers," Holly said.

"Actually, I'm wearing clothes now. The question is, are you?"

"Yes. And starkers also means crazy, which you are, Samara, if you think I'd ever tell Claire or anybody else that." She paused to let this information sink in for Samara—although chances are, it never would—and then said, "It's Thanksgiving. Shouldn't you be with your family right now?"

"I've been hanging out with family all day. That, among other reasons, is partly why I pulled Cameron away from that crowd to eat my pussy. Oh, you can tell Claire that, too."



"I'm not doing that, Samara! Tell her yourself! Or better yet, don't! Do you really think anyone cares what horrible sexual things you and your boyfriend have been doing?" Samara was about to say something, but Holly stopped her. "No! I'm not telling anybody anything! I'll see you at school on Monday, all right?"

"Not if I see you in hell first."

"I'm not the bad guy here."

"You never are," Kent said in a most welcome interruption.

Holly caressed his chest and smiled. "I'm sorry if you feel you're being mistreated," she said to Samara, "but please, don't call me back unless you have something real to talk about. Apples?"

"Yes, Eve," Samara said. "Take a bite, we're all waiting."

"Goodbye. Happy Thanksgiving."

"I've got your Happy Thanksgiving right here."

"I don't think that kind of insult really works over the phone."

"Except you knew that it was an insult, that I grabbed my crotch when I said that, which means that it did work."

"I guess that's true," Holly said with a shrug. "Have a nice weekend." Samara hung up suddenly, before Holly had even finished her goodbye, which served as a reminder of what had just transpired. Holly leaned down to kiss Kent, and after a minute spent moving their hands and lips across each other's faces, she lifted herself back up to ask, "Are we jerks?"

"If nothing else, we're at least the lesser of two evils," he replied, as once again she crawled off his body and he scooted backwards from under hers. "What's wrong with Samara that she thinks she has to one-up Claire at every opportunity?"

"She's been this way ever since her sister died a year and a half ago—while we were still in middle school."

Kent nodded. "Under an elevator, right?"

"At their grandmother's nursing home. While Samara was riding it."

Kent's gaped at Holly, eyes burst open.

"Don't tell me you've never heard the story?"

"I'm not sure I want to."

"I don't blame you. Hannah was just one of a whole bunch of kids to die that day. Remember the drama teachers I introduced you to last month, when I brought you that leftover spaghetti from home and we cooked it in the microwave in their classroom?"

"The Bowman's," Kent said, nodding as he recalled the memory. "Roger and Diane. We wasted that food, too."

"You're the one who lied about your attraction to Claire."

"Heartbreak tends to suppress the appetite. And I was scared to tell you how I really felt. And in any case, we're past that, right?"

"Right," Holly said, and they kissed each other once more before she said, "Anyway, their daughter, Ellie, she also died that day."


Holly put her hand on Kent's shoulder and bit her lip. "Let's not talk about this, okay? It's not a happy story."

"Whatever you say."

They kissed again.

"Where were we?" he asked.

Holly took his hands in hers and put them on her hips. "You were making me randy."

"I love it when you speak Aussie," Kent said as they resumed running their lips and tongues up, down and around their faces.

"Sometimes," she said between kisses, "I wish we were in Australia," kiss, "so," kiss, "I could be turned on," kiss, "by you talking like an American." Kiss. "I'm so jaded."

"We'll have to do something about that." Despite his injured foot, Kent attempted to put himself on top of Holly, and by walking carefully on his knees, he actually managed to accomplish this; however, in their positions, their heads were facing the rear of the bed while her feet neared the pillow. He was just moving his lips down her neck, a sensation that made Holly smile in pleasure and anticipation, but the fact that they weren't yet emotionally ready to go that far, that he wasn't yet fully equipped for such physical exertion with his injury, and that a trio of parents suddenly and loudly pushed open his bedroom door to see them laying there soon put a stop to this moment, which was as close to perfect as Holly had ever been. "Oh," Kent said simply, blushing as both his father and hers looked the two of them. He backed up slowly to allow Holly to get out from under him.

"We're going, Holly," Mark said. After Kent had moved away, she saw that her father had a black eye. Kent noticed this, too, and snarled quietly at his own father.

"Okay," Holly nodded, her face flushed red. She smiled awkwardly at Kent, kissed him on the cheek one last time and told him, "See you at school."

"Sure thing."

She waved goodbye and followed her father down the stairs and out the front door, without either of them saying a single word to Rod or Gina on the way out.

It wasn't until they reached Mark's car, a pale blue sedan, and took their seats inside that the two of them said any more.

"You are never to see those people again!" he ordered her as he started the vehicle.

"Dad!" she gasped.

"Not Kent," he reassured her. "He seems like a great guy, and no one can stop you from seeing him at school anyway. It's those parents of his." He turned to Holly with a scary look in his eyes while backing out of their spot on the street. "Avoid them at all costs."

"That's going to make for a really awkward wedding," she said, a comment that made their stop at the sign at the intersection of Piedmont and La Crescenta avenues much more sudden than it should have been. "Kidding!" she added, knowing that this hadn't been the time for jokes. "I'm kidding!"

"I know," he sighed. "I know, sweetie."


"Her clothes were still on," Rod remarked as Kent walked towards the doorway where his mother and father were standing on his crutches. "I'm disappointed."

Kent tried to contain his anger. "That can be taken two different ways, you know," he said, making a glance towards his mother, who was likely just as unsettled by Rod's comment as Kent was, but too frightened to dare saying anything against it.

"And I mean it in both ways," Rod said smugly as Kent made his way past him and Gina. "That's one sexy girlfriend you've got there, Kent." Kent turned around to face Rod from the hallway, and saw Gina rolling her eyes at her husband's carnal approval of Holly. "I'm not going to lie and say I'm not enticed by what she's hiding under those clothes of hers, because, really, Kent, what straight man, of any age, is going to deny an attraction to a good-looking teenage girl?" He sighed. "Too bad she's a slut."

"Shut up!" Kent snapped at Rod. "Just shut up! You're wrong about her!"

"Kent," Rod said while shaking his head, "when are you going to understand that I'm always right about these things? I didn't become a successful businessman out of sheer luck, you know."

"No," Kent replied, "you did it by eating as many dogs as you could." He glanced at Shelby and Beamer, who were right to be keeping their distance from the arguing family, and then towards his parents, on whom he hoped this unconventional use of the phrase wasn't lost. Just in case it was, he ended the silence he created with a clearer statement of his father's tactics. "You don't care how many people you hurt, as long as you get your way."

"If that was true, would I be protecting you like this?"

"Protecting me?" Kent gasped. "Dad, you just gave my girlfriend's dad a black eye! My girlfriend, who wouldn't hurt a fly and definitely wouldn't go behind my back to hurt me! Honestly, I'll be amazed if Mr. Snow doesn't come back wanting to press charges!"

"Even if he did," Rod said, "you know nothing would ever come of it."

"Yeah," Kent sighed as he walked back into his room to lay down on his bed, alone, with his parents following. "Because god forbid you take responsibility for your actions, Dad."

"You might think I'm being an asshole right now, Kent, but someday that girl is going to be caught cheating on you with another man."

"Go away," Kent mumbled as he put his arm over his eyes.

"And when that day comes," Rod continued, "you're going to want to take me up on everything I threatened to do tonight."

"I said go away."

"It's in her blood, Kent."

"Maybe you haven't noticed this yet, Dad," Kent said with as much restraint as he could muster in his frustration, "but if what you're saying is true, then being an asshole must be in my blood. Notice how she and I are both going out of our way to avoid these so-called fates?"

"Talking to your parents like that isn't what I'd call avoiding being an asshole," Rod said, "but you're a teenager, so I'm willing to let that go for now."

"Wish I could think of something to excuse you for your behavior," Kent said with a casual glance his father's way. With a shrug, he added, "Sorry, Dad. I got nothing."

"Good night." Rod said shortly before he walked away, not to speak another word to Kent on this holiday celebrating togetherness and family.

In his place, Gina sighed and walked over to stand at Kent's bedside, patting him on the knee affectionately. "I know nothing I say will make up for what's happened tonight, honey…but for what it's worth, I'm sorry."

"Thanks," Kent said with a small smile.

"I think she's a nice girl. I'm proud of you, Kent."