"Morning Mal," Max nodded at me as he shuffled in. He looked like he'd just woken up, taken a shower and ran all the way to the restaurant. I frowned at him. "Do you know that I had to cover for you again?" I informed him tersely. "I had to tell Greta that you were at the hospital to give something to your mom. What if she had called me out for it, huh?"
He raised an eyebrow at me as he put on his apron. "Did she call you out for it?"
I scowled and turned back to mopping the floor. "No, but what if she did?"
"Then you would have told her a cleverly thought up lie," he shrugged. I shot him a murderous look which he returned with a dazzling smile. "Because you're a good friend, Mal, and that's what good friends do."
I scoffed at this. "Good friends don't call their friends by a random other name just because they feel like it," I muttered under my breath, turning away.
"Sure, Mal," he replied amiably.
I rolled my eyes. "I don't even know how you survived so long without me. What did you do before I started working here for the summer?"
"Mainly snuck into the kitchen and pretended I'd been there the whole time," he said airily, heading to the kitchen to take up his station at the salad section. "By the way," he spoke up again, stopping the door just before it was about to shut on his face, "did Greta say anything about changing the name of the restaurant?"
"What, Fuk Mi?" I said without thinking and then scowled as Max burst into laughter. "Shut up asshole. And she doesn't want to change it. Apparently the words have some deep meaning in Japanese for sushi and she doesn't want to 'lose her roots by getting rid of such an inspirational name'."
Max choked back another giggle. "Well then," he said, letting the door shut slowly. "I'm glad I don't have to man the counter. Can't say the same for you, Mal."
I sighed. Unfortunately Max was right. As much as I hated the kitchen same as my mother – which is the main reason my sister Elsie learnt how to cook in the first place – I would rather be there than at the counter where I was the butt of all sex jokes by the customers. It was especially horrible when I had to answer the phone. The line, "Hello, this is Fuk Mi, how may I help you?" wasn't a kind line at all. And no matter how many times I mispronounced it into 'Fook Mi' instead of the vulgar alternate, the jokes would not end.
I shall hate Greta for the rest of my life for this humiliation she was putting me through.
At ten o'clock sharp, the restaurant started to fill up. There were a few public favorite restaurants in Oakridges, and unfortunately (for me at least) Fuk Mi was one of them. Maybe it was the hilarious (for them) name, maybe it was Chef Satsuya's genius sushi rolls and cashew and shrimp salad. More likely the second but I liked to think that the world was just sadistic towards me.
There were quite a few regulars so I didn't greet them. They just walked in, went to their tables and waited for their food while I yelled back their usual orders to the kitchen staff. Thankfully there weren't many newcomers today and the ones that were there were all girls so their reaction to the cursed greeting was just a pitying smile.
"Hello. Welcome to Fuk Mi." I said blankly as another girl came in and joined a forming group. I wondered if there was some kind of party going on there. It seemed that Max was thinking the same thing because he poked his head out of the kitchen and looked over there. "Shit," he said furtively. "You don't think they're having a girl's night do you?"
I rolled my eyes. "And what if they did? You can't come out here, or Chef is gonna skin you."
He turned to look at me reproachfully as Chef Satsuya called him back inside. "Maybe you can get their numbers for me?" he said hopefully. I laughed in his face.
"Not a chance Salad-boy. Now get back in the kitchen!" He stuck his tongue out at me and retreated, yelling back at Satsuya as he did so. I sat around, continued to listen to my music in boredom. This was the worst part about Saturdays: it was a slow day and it was effing boring.
In a few minutes, however, the counter phone rang and I picked up, trying to sound enthusiastic. "Hello, this is Stacy at Fuk Mi, how may I–?"
"Stacy?" my mom's voice came through, sounding suspiciously hyper. I broke off, staring at the phone incredulously.
"Mom? What are you doing, calling on the restaurant phone?"
"You won't pick up yours, honey, so I called here."
"My…" I looked around. "Oh yeah. Greta has a new rule that we can't keep our cell phones with us. Sorry, I forgot to tell you." No need to mention that it was because of me that the rule had to be enforced. What? It got boring at the sushi restaurant! I hastily continued. "So what do you want Mom?"
"Nothing," she said airily. "I was just thinking about going to the pool with a couple of friends and was wondering when you'll be home."
I narrowed my eyes. "What friends?"
"Oh, just people from here and there Stacy, don't worry about it."
"Mom," I said warningly. "Do not tell me not to worry about it, especially after your debacle at the supermarket last Monday. Do you have any idea how much talking I had to do to get you out of that mess?"
"Oh, honey. I know. But I'm feeling down and I just wanna have fun today…"
"You have fifty papers to check!" I exclaimed in exasperation. "Your supervisor already called me twice to remind you! And god knows what you'll do at the pool when I'm not there. You are not allowed to go Mom."
"Oh, Stacy, don't be like your sister…"
"Trust me; I'm starting to see why she was always so frustrated with you. You are not allowed to go Mom, and that's final. Do you understand me?"
"Do you understand me? You're not going. I have to go now, there are customers coming in." I put down the phone cutting off her protestations to greet the customer. It was another regular however. He hung around to chat awhile and then moved off as the phone began to ring again.
"Hello, this is Stacy at–"
"Honey, I just talked to your father and he thinks that it's perfectly fine that I go."
"Mom! No! I said no, okay? And you can coerce dad into saying anything, so what he says doesn't go. You are not to go!"
"I am not going to argue about this Mom." I hung up again. Max sauntered out of the kitchen again, an apple in his hand, and saw my incensed face. "What's wrong pickle-butt?" he asked, plopping down on to the counter and taking a bite out of his apple.
"Oh god, don't as–" The phone rang again. I picked it up, not even bothering to say the greeting. My mom's voice came through again, this time whining.
"Stacy, really honey, don't be so stubborn about this. I'm a grown up. I can take care of myself."
"Oh really?" I said sarcastically. "Then why couldn't you handle the police station on Tuesday by yourself?"
"Well, the officers were being ridiculous; it was just a harmless drive…"
"You were drinking and driving Mom. That's illegal."
"Well, there are very few drinks at this party. I'm sure they don't even have beer or anything."
"No Mom. You. Are. Not. Going."
"No Mom, for the last time, NO!"
"Oh for goodness' sakes!" This time, it was her who hung up. I replaced the receiver, glaring at the counter top. Max was still sitting beside me and he raised an eyebrow as I sighed in vexation and plopped down beside him.
"What," he said, "was that about?"
"My mom wants to go to the pool and drink there."
Max laughed. "The only person who's more irresponsible than you: it just had to be your mom, didn't it?"
I groaned. "I fully understand now why Elsie was always so stressed all the time. I don't even know how she used to handle the school crap and get such perfect grades and handle mom without waking up in the mornings screaming. I'd go mad."
"Yeah, well, your sister's kind of a genius," Max commented airily. I shot an amused glance at him. Max was the younger brother of one of my sister's best friends. His brother was a rebellious teenager, characterized by his Mohawk. That was probably why few people knew his real name and most knew him as Frankie the Mohawk. Max was like a puppy form of his brother: not that rebellious but always doing these little things that made people burst out laughing and the teachers (or anyone in authority really) want to throw things at him. And Max had always had a little crush on my sister. And since he was a year younger than me, the age difference was something like four years.
"She's taken, dude," I reminded him. Max turned to stick his tongue out at me again. "I know that," he said. "I don't like her that way anymore."
"Sure," I replied merrily, giggling when he scowled. He'd just opened his mouth to say something sarcastic most probably, when the phone rang again. I picked it up in frustration.
"Mom, when I say no, I mean no!"
There was a short pause at the other end. I realized with a horrified jolt that it wasn't my mother on the other end. "Oh crap," I breathed. "I'm so sorry; I thought you were someone else…"
"Stacy?" I stopped stammering when I recognized the voice.
"Johnnie?" I said in surprise. "What…?"
"Your phone was off. And there's something… important that I need to talk to you about."
"Oh." I was effectively bamboozled. The entire summer that I'd worked at Fuk Mi, not once had my boyfriend even come to eat there, forget calling. If my cell phone was off, he'd just wait until I got home and then called me or come over. "Um… okay then. What is it?"
He hesitated, and in that short space of hesitation I heard a low voice on the other end egging him on with a soft 'come on, do it'. I waited curiously. "Stacy…" he started saying and then paused again. He continued, "Look Stace, there's a lot of things I need to discuss with you. We need to talk. As in, talk."
I felt a sudden chill of dread, but then shrugged it off. Why would those words mean anything to me? So what if they were the danger words? Maybe it didn't apply to this conversation in that way. "Sure, let's talk," I replied breezily. "So what do you want to talk about?"
"Us," he said immediately. "You. Me. Us."
"What about us?" Shit. They did mean something after all. Shit, shit, shit.
"Stacy… Maybe you haven't noticed it much, but we've been… not really connected the past few weeks. I feel like there's this distance between you and me…"
"Distance? Johnnie, I don't know what you're talking about." Maybe if I play dumb, he'll take the hint and shut up.
"Stacy, come on. You never pick up when I call, you're always out with your friends, you don't talk to me like you used. I don't like coming over to your house anymore, I don't feel like hanging out like we used to. There's something wrong."
"I know, okay? But maybe that's just with our lives, not our relationship. There's a lot of stuff in my life right now" lies "and I'm just busy so much" lies "but I know if we just… if we just… I don't know… work on it or something…"
"Stacy I think we should break up."
I took a breath. "What?" I said finally.
"We should break up. This isn't working."
"No, Johnnie, come on, don't say that. We can make it work; we can work on it ourselves. We can…"
"I don't like you in that way anymore Stacy." This time, I was stunned into silence. I couldn't say a word and could only stand there as he kept going. "I've been trying, but it's not the same anymore. I just…" he sighed. "I'm sorry Stacy. I like someone else now."
I found my voice. "Johnnie," I choked out, "please tell me you didn't cheat on me."
"I didn't!" he gasped, upset. "I swear Stacy! I wouldn't do that to you Stacy, you know that! But that doesn't mean that the feelings aren't there. I'm really sorry."
I tried one last time. "Johnnie, please listen…"
"I can't Stace. I have to go. I love you, bye." There was a click as he hung up and then a long beep sounded in my ear. I simply sat there, shocked, as my co-worker looked at me concernedly and shooed off the incoming customers.
"Mal?" Max called me softly. "Stacy? Honey, what happened?"
I looked at him, my eyes unseeing. "He… he broke up with me."
"What? Johnnie?" Max asked, startled.
I nodded, my eyes filling up with tears. Max immediately reached over and tugged me into his arms, letting me bawl into his shirt. "It's okay Stacy." He said soothingly, rubbing my back as my tears soaked his shirt. "It's okay, I'm here."
There was only one thing I could think to that.
Yes but he's not.
"You need to stop hiding, Stacy, and hang out with your friends!" Kirsten said exasperatedly.
"You know I hate to agree with her, Stace," said Janie in a more moderate tone. Kirsten scoffed and I could almost hear her rolling her eyes. "But I think Kirsten's right. We're your friends. If you're not going to come out of the house, at least let us come over."
I sighed. I knew that this would happen if I had a convo with both of them. I mean, I could handle one of my best friends at a time, but two against one is always unfair. "I just don't want to be seen right now," I protested one last time.
Janie and Kirsten both scoffed at the same time. "Stacy, we were the ones who cleaned you up after our first loss against the Stone bitches cheerleading squad*." Janie said matter-of-factly. "And after the Stone captain was found making out with your crush of that time."
"Yea, Stacy. Girl, we've seen you at your worst and we ain't gonna stop now." Kirsten added her bit.
I sighed. "Fine," I said grudgingly. "When are you coming over?" Even then, their triumphant squeals made me smile. We decided that they'd come over for movies tomorrow since Janie had her summer job today and Kirsten would be with Max, doing something or the other.
I decided to spend the rest of the day on my computer. Facebook was safe since I'd deleted Johnnie and blocked him a week ago, the day he broke up with me. In any case, there wasn't much to see except a few condolences wall posts. I logged out and went on to Tumblr and 9GAG. Maybe some laughs and gifs would make me forget my miserable life.
I was in the middle of my two hour long 9GAGging when my mom poked her head into my room. I looked over at her guilty face, and immediately stood up. "What now, Mom?"
"What?" she said innocently, sauntering over and sitting on my bed. "I didn't say anything."
"Yeah, but I know you've either done something stupid or are about to."
"Honey, it's nothing really. So why didn't you tell me that you and Johnnie broke up?" she asked, looking at me sharply. I looked at her, startled.
"Who told you that?" I asked.
"Johnnie," she said dryly. "I'd called him over to ask him if he could come over and fix our TV set again because that thing that happened with the channel-jumping was broken again, and he said that he couldn't because you two were no longer together. Why didn't you tell me Stacy?"
I avoided her gaze. "I didn't want to."
"Oh honey." She sighed, reaching over and pulling me into her arms. I snuggled my head into her shoulder. "You know, I might be slightly irresponsible" I refrained from scoffing "but I'm still your mother. I wish you'd come to me with these things."
"There was nothing to say, Mom," I said, my voice muffled by her shirt. "I mean, what was I going to do, say that Johnnie and I broke up because he liked someone else now?" I bit my lip. "I didn't want to waste anymore tears on him."
"Well, at least I would have known why you'd locked yourself into the house the past week," she said. "I even called up Elsie to figure out what was wrong and she told me that either you got fired or you broke up with your boyfriend." I laughed.
"Elsie knows me better than I thought."
"Of course," Mom said with a reproving tap on my nose. "She's your sister."
"Mmm." I snuggled into her shoulder again until I caught a whiff of something. I pulled back and looked at her. "Mom. Why do you smell like burnt bread?"
The guilty look was back on her face. "No reason…I might have been trying to bake a chocolate cake to cheer you up though…"
"Oh no, Mom! I told you to stay away from the kitchen!" I got up quickly and sprinted downstairs. The kitchen was a disaster. It would be, since my mother had been there. Of the two of us, at least I knew how to handle machines right. But my mother and the kitchen went along just as well as a skunk and perfume.
We were in the middle of cleaning Mom's mess up when the doorbell rang. Mom looked up eagerly but then went back to work as I sent her a murderous glare. I dropped my wiping cloth onto the kitchen counter and went to the door. When I opened it, I saw the last person I would have expected to see.
Matt Horan. 19 years old. He was somewhat of an acquaintance. I knew him through Johnnie, since some of Johnnie's friends were friends with some of Matt's friends. I'd talked him about five times in my four years of high school in the same school as him and they were two minute conversations at the most. He was probably farther than the peripherals of my life since he wasn't normally the type of person that I'd get to know or make friends with. He was a computer geek and a total bookworm whereas I was – or used to be – a cheerleader and part of the drama group. The only thing we had in common was that we were the only ones in our senior class to have applied to UY, Russeboro, and gotten in. The only thing that I would find remotely attractive about him was that he was on the school swim team and one of our fastest and most skilled swimmers. In conclusion, he and I weren't related in any way.
Hence my surprise at seeing him on my doorstep.
"Hi?" My greeting came out as a question. "Can I help you?"
"Hi." He said. He seemed slightly uncomfortable to be standing there and he kept looking over his shoulder. I looked too but there was nothing and nobody there. He looked up and met my eyes; it gave a bit of a jolt. His gaze was strong and confident and I wasn't used to that. I was used to being the one in control and I definitely didn't expect bookworm Matt to be so confident. "I'm Matt," he introduced himself.
I smiled faintly. Guess he didn't remember meeting me only a year back. "I know. I'm Stacy," I offered in return. He smiled too, his nervousness seeming to melt away.
"I don't think we've met before but, my friend Harry used to be friends with, um, Johnnie…" He blushed a little as he said my ex's name. I sighed; I guess I should've known that our break up was known by now.
"We've met," I replied shortly. "Can I help you?" I repeated my earlier question.
"No," he said. "I mean…" he sighed. "This is a really awkward thing to be asking you. But, my friend Goyle is having a pool party at his house and I was wondering if you'd like to come?"
I raised my eyebrows at him. "Excuse me?"
"You can bring your friends," he hurried on. "I mean, if you think it'll be awkward or anything."
"Um." I didn't really know what to say to something like that. I was too busy trying to figure out his motives.
"Hey. Just think about it," Matt said his voice a little gentle for some reason. I smiled coquettishly.
"I'll think about it," I promised. He flashed me an uncertain smile before handing me a paper with the address for the party on it. I didn't need it; Goyle was one of my friends too. But I didn't tell him that as he gave me the paper and sauntered away. I looked down at the hastily scribbled address. Even in haste, Matt's handwriting was smooth and bold.
I looked back at the way he'd left. I wondered if his personality was like his writing.
The party was on Saturday.
Goyle's house was big by Kinsley student's standards. His parents were rich but they preferred to send him to a normal school like Kinsley rather than a rich kids' school like Oakridges Academy. So, Goyle had the largest house of all the kids of the senior grade and most of the 'big' parties were held at his house. I suspected that this party was a way of celebrating our last summer together without being to sappy or nostalgic.
"This is by far the weirdest thing you've done," Kirsten said as she and Janie followed me across Goyle's lawn and into his house. I was dressed normally in a bikini with a dark over shirt and boy shorts on. Kirsten had opted for wearing a dress with a suit underneath and Janie was just wearing jeans and tank top since she hated water and wasn't going into the pool at all. I turned to grimace at her as we pushed through the crowd.
"Why?" I asked, once she was within earshot.
"Why?" she asked in disbelief. "Come on Stace, you know why. You haven't been out of your house for a week since your break up and it took me and Janie, your best friends, about three days to make you say yes to letting us come to your house. And now, just because some boy you hardly know asked you to come to a party, you agree to it?"
"By far the weirdest thing you've done," Janie agreed, grouping closer to us as we came out to the back of the house where the pool was. There seemed to be about thirty to forty kids at the place already, so the crowd was kind of pushy. We made our way to a more breathable space by the pool.
"You know," I said, turning around to narrow my eyes at my friends. "You two have been agreeing a lot more than usual. And it's usually when you're ganging up against me. What is up with that?"
"Hey, you're like the glue that holds this little trio together," Janie retorted. "Be happy."
"Oh fuck you."
"I knew you wanted to, babe."
I rolled my eyes, settling into one of the magically free deck chairs. Kirsten and Janie shared a deck chair, Janie too busy reading a book – yeah, at a party – and Kirsten keeping an eye out for anyone good-looking. I simply settled into sun-tanning and smirking whenever some guy whistled appreciatively.
However Kirsten broke the comfortable silence between us just as I was about to settle into sun-induced sleep. "Hey Janie," she said, prodding said girl on the arm. "Isn't that the guy you like, Harry?"
Janie's reaction was almost as immediate as mine. We both sat up and followed Kirsten's gaze where a dark haired boy was talking to a girl in a white bikini. He was wearing red glasses and blue swim trunks with a clashing green army striped shirt. Janie looked at the girl inquisitively for a while but then went back to staring avidly at the boy.
"Really, Jane?" I drawled. "Not even concerned about competition?"
"Oh please," she waved her hand in a shoo-shoo motion, "She's not even close to Harry's type."
"And you are?" Kirsten asked slyly. Janie gave her a shut-your-sarcasm-before-I-do-it-for-you glare and went back to reading her book, occasionally peeking over the top to keep an eye on Harry.
"I don't understand why you won't just ask him out," I mused. "I mean, you said you've talked to him a couple of times, haven't you? Since he already knows you then it wouldn't be weird or anything."
"Yes. It would. Because he only knows me because his best friend was my lab partner in sophomore year." When she said that, she glanced at me significantly with a small smile on her face. I took no notice, taking it for one of Janie's 'I challenge you!' looks.
"That doesn't matter though. I think you're just avoiding the problem."
"Whatever. None of your beeswax anyw–" She stopped talking, her eyes widening at something. Kirsten and I followed her gaze again, this time to the pool. Kirsten's mouth turned into a small 'o'. I was just speechless.
"Not possible," Janie murmured.
"Isn't he supposed to be a geek?" Kirsten thought aloud, her voice a little awed.
"He is," I nodded, my eyes trained on my object of interest. Who it turns out, is Matt Horan himself.
He was coming out of the pool, and it literally felt like one of those movie scenes where a hot guy comes out of the pool all wet and sexy with every girls' eyes on him. With Matt, the only thing different was only a few girls were looking at him. And I was one of them.
I never noticed how attractive he was.
His brown hair was plastered to his forehead, hiding a bit of his dark eyes that had stared at me so boldly that day. But it wasn't his face that attracted my attention. It was the lean muscles that seemed to almost ripple when he flexed. It was his toned stomach and his confident stride. And the fact that he had spotted me and his lips were curving into a sexy half-smirk.
"Maybe I was wrong about geeks," I said significantly, my eyes trained on Matt as he walked towards me. I saw Janie and Kirsten exchange smirks as I continued, "Maybe they all have inner sex-gods."
"I'd say," Kirsten drawled as Matt came to stand in front of us. He glanced towards my friends first, nodded and brought his eyes back to me. "Hey," he said amiably. His former nervousness seemed to have vanished now that he was standing in front of me half-naked. "I'm glad you could make it."
"Hi," I smiled coquettishly, tilting my head to the side a little. "Thanks. I hope you don't mind but," I gestured towards my friends, "I brought a few pals of mine. This is Kirsten," Matt smiled at her as she nodded her acknowledgement, "and this is–"
"Janie," he finished for me. He then greeted her, which she returned with familiar enthusiasm, before turning back to me. "We were lab partners in sophomore year," he explained in answer to my raised eyebrows.
"Really?" I drawled, my eyes narrowing on my best friend who was currently stifling her sniggers. "How come you didn't inform me of this Janie?"
"I didn't think it was important," she replied with a wicked simper. "I think I'm going to go get something to drink. Kirsten?" They walked off, leaving me to glare daggers at them. I was so getting that girl back.
"Anyways," Matt said, bringing my attention back to him, "I'm glad you came. I was afraid that you wouldn't come and then I'd have to explain to my friends that I didn't lie but was rejected instead." He glanced back over his shoulder with a small grin. I followed his gaze to where a pack of guys were sitting and watching us. I looked back at Matt.
"Was I a part of some bet?" I said, my voice thin but dangerous. Matt looked alarmed. "No," he shook his head energetically. "No way! My friends just thought that I was too much of a coward to actually ask you out." It seemed the last few words had accidentally slipped out because as soon as they were said, Matt's face turned red and he started stuttering. "Not that I'm asking you out, I mean you and Johnnie broke up just a week ago, I mean I'd have to be a douche to ask you out so soon after… but I mean that doesn't mean I wouldn't…just not so soon and…"
I laughed and cut him off. "It's okay, Matt. I get it. I'm actually kind of glad you brought me out to this party."
He stopped stammering. "You are?"
"Yeah. I mean, I would have spent the rest of the summer holed up in my room if you hadn't brought me out. I mean, I have to get over Johnnie at some point right?"
"Yeah," he said slowly. Then his face brightened with a smile. "I'm glad to be of service then. See, I wasn't so sure about telling you to come here so soon after… after…" He didn't get to finish the sentence as a loud voice cut over his shouting out a name.
Matt and I both froze. He turned his eyes to me, begging, while I turned my eyes towards the source of the sound.
I saw him first. He was surrounded by a pack of guys holding beer bottles, like he normally is, and he looked much the same as I last saw him. Same old mussed brown hair, condescending smile and sympathetic looks here and there. He was walking the same way even, all suave and like he didn't have a care in the world. And then I saw her.
She was blonde, like me. However, unlike me, she was 5'10 tall, graceful and had an imperious look on her face wherever she gazed. She, frankly, looked like a model from Elle and I had no doubts that she was someone from Johnnie's Gender and Art class. She looked the type.
I could see why Johnnie wouldn't want to be with me after meeting this Aphrodite.
I didn't know what my feelings were, really, when I saw them but I knew that I had to get out of there and fast. There was this pressure building inside of me that felt like it was about to burst out through my mouth and eyes. And I had to move before it burst out in public.
So I did the last thing I would have ever done in a normal situation. I turned tail and ran.
I was hoping no one would follow me as I ran around the corner of the house, thankful of the fact that I still had my over shirt on and wasn't running away in a bikini – that would have been an awkward conversation with any passerby. But my hopes were dashed when I heard the soft padding of footsteps following my own. I stopped in my tracks and my stalker bashed into me.
"Shit." He righted himself and me quickly, his hands going to my shoulders to steady me. Matt gazed into my face concernedly and began talking really fast.
"Stacy. I swear to God, that I didn't know they were coming. I would never have asked you to come if I did. I promise you Stace, I didn't know, please believe me–" I slapped my hand over his mouth before he could continue groveling. He simply stood there and watched me. I didn't say anything just yet though. The pressure was still inside of me but I knew I had it faintly under control now. In any case, we were far away from prying eyes. I took a deep breath to steady myself and met Matt's eyes straight on.
"I believe you. I just need to get out of here." Matt nodded but as he opened his mouth to say something, there was a burst of noise and a bunch of guys turned the corner. Before they could see either me or Matt, I had sprinted into a dark alley, dragging Matt with me.
After a few minutes the sounds had subsided, but neither Matt nor I said anything. I took another deep breath and tried to focus desperately on anything else. Anything other than my ex and his new girlfriend.
A picture of Matt coming out of the pool came into my mind, and along with it came all the feelings from earlier. Appreciation, desire, attraction and yeah, a little bit of lust. I opened my eyes, still breathing shortly.
Matt was standing in front of me, leaning towards me a little, with a gentle look on his face. I glanced down and saw his hand hovering near my shoulder; he snatched it away almost as fast as I looked. I looked back at him, meeting his eyes again, the pressure building higher and higher. I couldn't keep it in for any longer. I took another deep breath, closing my eyes, the picture of Matt still in my mind. "Stacy?" Matt's voice made me open my eyes the same time his hand tentatively touched my forearm.
I didn't know what made me do it, really. I just did what I felt like doing, and at that point I knew it was the right thing to do. So I moved forward and pressed my hands onto his stomach, burying my face into his chest. I guess Matt had been thinking along the same lines as me, because he wrapped his arms around my waist soon after. I wanted to cry out into his shoulder but I didn't, I wouldn't. Instead, I let the pressure inside of me control my lust for Matt. I reached up and kissed his neck.
He went rigid under my lips but he didn't push me away. I took this as a positive sign and kissed my way up to his jaw. He sighed, and his arms went lax around my waist. He moved his face to look at me, and I think both of us looked down at each other's lips at the same time, because the next thing I know, I'd pushed Matt against the wall and started kissing him furiously.
And man, could that kid kiss. He was possibly the most skilled kisser I'd ever experienced. I felt slightly embarrassed by the sounds he dragged out me. I mean, even Johnnie had never turned me on like he did.
Pretty soon, it was me who was pushed up against the wall. My right arm was tight around Matt's neck and so were my legs around his hips. Matt had opened my over shirt and it was now hanging loose at my sides, his hands roving gently on my bare skin. My fingers threaded through his hair, explored his chest, his face, as he kissed me. The brief spats of seconds when we pulled away for breath, both of us were panting. And then we merged together again, the kisses urgent and fast.
I pulled Matt's bottom lip into my mouth, sucking it in a way that made him moan softly. I smiled against his lips, my mouth curving along his. I pulled away again for short second, taking short breaths. "Oh, damn Matt." I whispered, resting my forehead against his.
The words were like a dam to the flow of our thoughts. I opened my eyes the same time that Matt let his arms fall away from my waist. He set me on my feet before moving at least a yard away from me. I leaned against the wall, feeling tired and excited. I studied Matt: his hair was mussed and tangled, his mouth was pink and puffy and his swimming trunks had lowered so much that it was now hanging on simply by hugging his hips. Matt followed my gaze and pulled his trunks up with a slight cough. I knew that I probably looked a lot like him and maybe a little more compromised. I pulled my bikini straps over my shoulders and buttoned up my over shirt quickly without looking at Matt.
He was the first one to say anything. "Stacy, I…" He stopped, looking awkward. So I said it for him.
"That was unexpected." He looked at me. "But not necessarily bad," I added.
"No," he said softly, as if to himself, "not necessarily bad."
I took a breath. "Matt, I really–"
"I can't be that guy," he cut me off quickly. I stared at him. "What guy?" I asked finally.
"I can't be, you know, the rebound guy," he said, avoiding my gaze. I stared at him, the words sinking in slower this time. But when it did, it was I who avoided his gaze. Great, first my boyfriend breaks up with me, and then the guy I have the hots for rejects me. This has been such a great summer before college for me!
"Oh." I said finally, not knowing what else to say. "Okay then, I guess I understand…"
"No you don't," he said hastily. "Look Stacy, your reputation kind of precedes you, and I know you have this… need after you break up with someone and I jus–"
I interrupted him this time. "My reputation precedes me?" I said my voice thin and dangerous again. "And what reputation is that, may I ask?"
"I didn't… I mean…" But he couldn't take his words back now.
"Fine," I said, laughing humorlessly. "I get it. Someone told you somewhere that Stacy Norton is a slut and sleeps around with guys to get over her exes. And you just want to 'protect' yourself, is that it?" He simply watched me, as if knowing that whatever he said would be futile. Smart as well as good-looking. How wonderful.
"Great. Since my reputation precedes me, I suppose I'll just save you all the trouble, shall I?" I continued my fury building. Matt took a step towards me, his face aggrieved. "No, Stace please, you don't get it…"
"Don't call me Stace," I spat out before turning my back on him and stalking away. And then I sprinted before he could even start to follow me.
The tears spilled out a bit later than I expected.
"This is ridiculous," Max whined. "You were holed up in here for a week after you and Johnnie broke up, and now you're doing the exact same thing because some guy you made out with rejected you?"
"Wow, nice way to put it Maxie," Janie said caustically as Kirsten hit him upside down his head. "Yeah jackass," she said as Max glared at her like a puppy. "Don't you know how to be tactful?"
That sentence was almost as funny as the fact that this was Kirsten saying it. I sighed and that brought all three of my friends' attention back to me. Max opened his mouth to say something again but Kirsten beat him to it.
"Stacy," she said softly, hugging me closer to her on the sofa. "Even though Max put it totally wrong," she sent a glower his way, "he is kind of right. You barely know this guy and what you know of him shows you that he isn't worth this angst."
"I know," I sighed. "That I don't know him. That's what's making me even sadder."
"Why?" Max said puzzled.
"Because," I answered, "although we don't know each other, he made me feel something that I've never felt with anyone before, not even Johnnie. Especially not Johnnie," I added, turning my face away from my friends.
I knew that they wanted to ask me exactly what that was, or at least Max did, but they didn't say anything to that. And even if they had asked I wouldn't have been able to explain to them why exactly I was letting that kiss with Matt get to me like this.
It was just that, when he said those hurtful words "your reputation kind of precedes you, and I know you have this need after you break up with someone", he hadn't said it in a hurtful way. But even if he didn't, he made me want to…
Well, he made me want to be someone other than that person with that reputation.
I knew that whatever he heard was probably right. I did have a reputation for sleeping – or, well, almost sleeping. Janie and Kirsten never let me get out of hand – with guys after a serious break up. It was my way of not feeling alone and worthless or alone and guilty after a break up.
But the way he said it…
"Stacy?" Max nudged my arm as the doorbell rang. The four of us looked towards the door of the living room – where we were – at the same time and in an automatic manner yelled, "Not it!"
We all looked at each other.
"I said it first!" Kirsten and Max said at the same time and then glared at each other sullenly. "No, I did," Kirsten said before Max could say anything, "You know I did Max. You were after me, by like a second."
Max glared at her some more but then slumped back and conceded. "Fine."
Janie and I looked at each other. "Well, I don't know about you but…" I started.
"Isn't me," Janie interrupted smugly. "I said it less than a second after Max and you were the latest to react anyways."
"Oh come on!" I protested. "Less than a second? How can you even prove that?"
"I don't need to prove. You know the rules, Stace, if it's a general consent then it goes."
"Your word is not a general consent Janie."
"Okay, fine." She turned to the other two. "All who figures that I said 'not it' before Stacy say aye."
"Aye," Max said readily.
Kirsten looked from Janie to me with a contemplative expression. I begged with my face but then she turned serious and I knew that it was over. "I heard Janie's voice first," she said. "That might be because Janie is possibly the loudest ass I will ever meet," she got a kick for that, but she just shoved Janie away, "but still. Stacy's it."
"Ugh." I got up with a grimace. "I hate being the glue."
"And we love you too!" sang the three idiots as I walked into the hallway to the front door. That made me laugh and I was giggling when I opened the door. "Hi–"
I stopped mid-greeting. It was Matt.
For a minute or two, we just stood there staring at each other. I took in his appearance. I hadn't seen him in a week, but he didn't look any different. He was wearing khaki pants and a dark blue Halo T-shirt. There was a Nike wristband on his left wrist. He looked casual, like he was going to some friend's house to play some videogames.
I, on the other hand, probably looked a mess. I hadn't showered in two days, and I was still wearing my pajamas. I'm pretty sure boy shorts with ducks on them and slippery black tank top is not the most flattering attire. Matt however wasn't checking me out like any normal boy would if he caught you in your sleeping clothes. He was staring straight into my eyes with that bold, challenging gaze that made you either want to run or sink into the ground.
I was the one who moved first. I stepped back into my house and was about to shut the door. Matt, however, was too fast for me, and he stopped the door from closing by putting a hand and a foot out to block it. "Wait," he said, holding the door almost closed.
I sighed. "I don't want to throw you out Matt," I warned him. He simply looked at me.
"I know," he said quietly. "But I need you to hear me out."
I hesitated. Both our heads moved as Max's voice floated towards us from the living room, calling, "Stacy, who is it?"
I called back quickly, "No one" before stepping outside and closing the door behind me. "One minute," I said in warning tone, folding my arms and leaning against the door.
Matt took a deep breath and started to speak but before he could say anything, my name was called out. "STACY!" I flinched and hurried back inside, shutting the door in Matt's face. My mom came down the stairs calling me still. She was dressed only in her underwear and bra.
"Mom!" I gasped, rushing forward and pushing her back up the stairs. "What are you… where the fuck are your clothes?"
"Stacy." Mom frowned, trying to struggle and turn towards me. "Stacy, what are you doing?"
"Trying to make sure you don't embarrass me anymore," I said through gritted teeth as I finally got her onto the second floor. "Stay here."
"But Stacy, wait. We need food. Your dad and I are hungry."
I rolled my eyes. "Does that have any relevance with your current attire? Couldn't you have put on clothes before you came down? I have friends over."
"Well, I was just coming down for a second." Mom frowned. "Your dad and I are having s–"
"OKAY!" I slapped my hands over my ears. "I do not need to hear the rest of the sentence Mom. JUST GET BACK INTO YOUR ROOM AND DON'T COME OUT UNLESS IT'S IMPORTANT."
She pouted but stalked back into her room. I ran downstairs; ignoring my friends' amused stares, and went out again. Matt was still standing there, to my surprise.
"Sorry," I said awkwardly. "My mom."
"I know," he smiled a little. "She was my teacher in kindergarten."
"What?" I looked at him, surprised. "Really?"
"Yeah. I was in the blue section. I think you were in the red."
"Yeah I was." We fell into a silence. I'm not sure if it was awkward or not but I knew that I wanted it to end. I cleared my throat. "So. What were you saying?"
Matt looked away, apparently feeling embarrassed. "Right. Um." He sighed and started again. This time, however, it was one of my friends who interrupted him. Max pushed his head out of the window on the porch, causing the two of us to jump and stare at him. He stared back, giggled and hopped back inside. I glared at him. "MAX!"
"What?" he looked at me innocently. "I was curious. I wanted to see who it was."
"Right." I glared at him even more furiously. "Just get back inside." He winked but did as I asked. I turned back to Matt, who was rubbing the back of his neck, obviously feeling awkward with all the interruptions. I sighed and said, "Look, Matt, I'm sorry, maybe you should just…"
"No," he stopped me. "I'm gonna say what I came to say. I didn't mean to call you a slut," he reddened but kept going. "And I didn't mean for my words to come out the way they did. All I meant was that I knew that you had a way of using guys to cope with your hurt. I just didn't want to be one of the guys you used and forgot about the next day."
I stared at him as he paused, glancing up to meet my eyes for a second. Then he bulldozed on. "What I wanted to say was, I want to be different. I don't want to be a rebound because I want to last longer than that. I just… what I'm trying to say is…" he paused and then said the rest hastily and without taking a single breath, "I like you Stacy. I've liked you for a very long time, even while you were dating Johnnie, and maybe when you're ready, I would like to date you."
This time, I full out gaped at him. At first, I thought I heard him incorrectly. But when he just kept quiet and continued to look at me hopefully, I felt my heart thudding against my chest so hard I could practically feel its sound in my ear.
I did the stupidest thing I could have done. I opened the door, went inside, and slammed the door shut, leaning against it.
"Oh my god." I breathed. "Oh my god. Oh my god. OH MY…"
"God?" I looked up to see Janie, Max and Kirsten crouching beside me. "What the fuck are you doing Stacy?"
"I… he just told me that he… I just… What?" I said weakly, rubbing my face. Janie rolled her eyes but Kirsten grabbed my hands and glared at me.
"Are you effing stupid? The guy just told you that he liked you and that he doesn't think you're a whore, and you slam the door on his face? Stacy, HAVE YOU TAKEN LEAVE TO YOUR SENSES?"
"I was shocked."
"YOU DON'T SLAM A DOOR IN A GUY'S FACE AFTER HE TELLS YOU HE LIKES YOU, EVEN IF YOU'RE FUCKING SHOCKED."
"I know, ugh!" I face-palmed myself. "I'm so stupid. He's probably gone by now, I'm so stupid!"
"Actually," Max said from the window, making the three of us look up at him. "He's just walking down the path right now. He's not gone yet."
My friends pushed me out of the house. I stumbled, looking at the closed door, bewildered, before turning and watching Matt walk away. His gait was slow and I could tell that he was disappointed. I called out to him.
He turned around, his eyes widening as he watched me rush towards him. I came to a stop in front of him.
"Did you mean that?" I asked him quickly. "Did you mean what you said?"
He looked at me seriously. "Every word."
The cheesy line didn't bother me. Instead, I felt lighter and happier than I had in two weeks. "Then I have a confession to make. I like you too. But I'm not ready."
For a second, his reaction was much the same as mine. He simply gawked at me. But then, his lips curved into a smile and he said softly, leaning his face down, "I can wait."
I smiled back and for a few moments we just stayed like that, smiling at each other. Until my mom's voice shouted out from above us, "Well, what are you waiting for? KISS." We turned – or at least I did. Matt simply looked up – to see my mom hanging out of one of the second floor windows, her bedroom window, still undressed and watching us avidly. I face-palmed myself again, turning red, as Matt chuckled.
"Still as crazy as I remember," he said, making me turn towards him again.
"Crazier, trust me," I said darkly.
"Well," he said significantly, stepping closer and pulling me closer gently by the waist. "Crazy or not, I think we should oblige her."
"Are you going to kiss me because my mom told you to?" I laughed.
"I think it'd be a creative reason to tell my friends, no?" he chuckled too, our faces nearer. "I kissed Stacy because Stacy's mom told me to."
"Mm, creative," I mumbled out before he kissed me and then I forgot about everything but the fact that damn he was a good kisser.
He pulled back and kissed me on the cheek before walking away again. But just before he left, he turned back and smiled. "Call me when you're ready."
Oh I will.
Author's note: Hi again! This is the second one shot that I've written. Like I said in another author's note, it has very little to do with the song Stacy's Mom. I just gave that name because Stacy's mom is one of my favorite characters and the name was too much to resist. In any case, again character pics will be up in my profile unless FP decides to keep the ban on links. Then, we'll just have to do without :(
*The Stonies are girls from an all-girl school in Oakridges called Jennifer Stone. The Stonies are usually at war with the girls from Kinsley, mainly because of all inter-school scandals with the boys and girls. Hey, whatcha gonna do? Teens will be teens.