Monroe, Present

Sawyer would have never done this. She thinks anybody who would do something like this is just disgusting.

Luke Matthews was lying next to me in my bed, naked, tracing lines with his fingertips all over my body. He was pretty much done breathing heavily, but was not done about saying how amazing it all felt.

"I know," I muttered for the third time into his chest. I had learned many tips and tricks along the way, from Edwin Stevens last month, to Zeke Hollenbeck last week. And yes, maybe all of this began the summer before eighth grade with Dane Wellens at camp. Just because he was going to be a senior in high school—the same as Sawyer—did not make it wrong. I knew it was a fling. And to have lost my virginity before my five-years-older sister was not a bad thing.

(She did lose her virginity a couple of months later, but that is a story for another time)

"So," Luke started, looking up into my brown eyes with his blue ones. "Maybe we could, you know…"

Ah, crap. I knew what this meant. He would either want this to be a regular thing, or he would want to be in a relationship. Either or, I did not want any part of it.

I heard the sound of footsteps up the stairs, and my mom shouting, "Monroe! You ready to get going?"

Thank God, I thought, sighing in relief. A reason to not answer Luke's question. But a second later and…

Double crap.

"The closet!" I loudly whispered as I pushed him off of my bed, shoving his clothes into his arms as he backed into my closet. "Stay quiet."

I closed the door and grabbed my robe, tying it tight around my body. As I sat down on my bed and my mom opened the door, I noticed the used condom on my floor and, without any other idea on what to do, covered it up with my foot.

"What, Mom?" I asked, taking my mind off of the squishy, slimy feeling under my right foot. I am so sorry foot.

She looked at my body, naked except for the robe. "I guess you aren't ready."

Oh. We're supposed to go pick up Sawyer from the airport. "I, uh," I feigned a yawn. "I think I want to take a quick nap and take a shower."

"Well, alright," she said, looking around my room. "And maybe you could clean up in here a little? She does have a friend coming, too."

"Of course." I smiled at her, hoping she didn't know I was hiding a boy in my closet.

As she left, I waited for the sound of the garage opening and closing to move. I waved out the window as the car went out of the driveway and down the street, and then peeled the disgusting thing off from under my foot.

Disgusting.

That's what Sawyer would think of me. I thought of this as I pulled now-dressed Luke out of my closet and down the stairs. Once outside, I locked the door behind him and watched him go from our driveway to his car two houses over.

I trudged back up the stairs and decided to work on some homework before Sawyer got home. I had to keep up the good girl image.


Sawyer, Present

"Two medium Very Berry smoothies, please." I slid the guy behind the counter ten dollars in wrinkled bills.

He pressed buttons on the cash register and then put money in and out of it. "One seventy-nine is your change. Have a smoothie-licious day." He ripped off the receipt and gave it to me, as well.

I walked over to the pick-up side of the counter, and tapped my fingers against a napkin holder. The blenders whirred as I turned around, looking at all of the people. A short lady, walking hand-in-hand with a man easily a foot taller. An older man, carrying what I presumed to be his grandson. A business-type guy in a suit, walking fast while on his cellphone.

"Two Very Berry?" a girl behind the counter asked, and I turned around nodding, grabbing them from her. "Thanks for stopping by."

Taking a sip of one of the smoothies, I walked towards the bathroom that Julianne had gone into. She started walking out of it just as I approached it.

"I hate airport bathrooms," she said, wiping her wet hands on the thighs of her jeans. "Is one of those for me?"

I handed her the one I hadn't been drinking out of. "It's your fault. You refused to go to bathroom on the plane. You're not going to get sucked out."

"I have my irrational fears, you have yours." She took a long sip out of the smoothie. "Let's just go get our bags. Sooner we get them, the sooner we can get back to your house and get some sleep." We picked up our carry-on bags and followed the baggage claim arrows.

Julianne and I met two years ago, right before the end of our junior year of college. Since it was right before final exams, I decided to hang up some flyers to tutor so I could get some extra money.

Do you need help studying for your sociology final?
Are you a freshman, sophomore, or junior?
Then look no further.
Contact Sawyer Cunningham
Ten dollars/hour, five dollars/hour after two hours

Below that information, I put my cell phone number and email address. I knew it was basic, but I had to handwrite all thirty fliers. I was not planning on being creative. And the fliers did help; I made almost four-hundred dollars in those two weeks, and almost a hundred of it came from Julianne.

At 11:55 at night, just before I was going to go to sleep (I had someone to tutor at seven in the morning), I received an email notification on my phone. Since the subject was Socio Tutoring, I decided to open it, but would reply in the morning.

Sawyer—
I know this is super-last minute, but I need help. I know I'll fail this exam if I don't get it. I would appreciate an all-day study session tomorrow (the day before the exam). And I'll pay ten dollars for every hour.
Please. Please help.
Julianne Ferris

I rolled my eyes. If anyone was this screwed at this late notice, there was no hope. However, I would just get paid to tutor; I don't assure any grades. That's on them. And the person I would be tutoring would only be for an hour. Against my better judgment, I decided to email her back.

Julianne,
Meet me in the campus library at eight. I'll be tutoring someone at seven, but it should probably be done by then. If you're a kind soul, please bring coffee or donuts. It'll be a long day.
Sawyer

The following day, Julianne and I studied for nine and a half hours, going over everything from the course. And it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be; I hadn't tutored a lot of juniors, so it was good review for me.

When exam time came around, I did excellent, but looking back at Julianne when I was done worried me. As she was erasing, it looked like she was going to rip a hole in the exam. She did end up passing, but just barely.

"How do you think they'll react?" Julianne asked, getting off the escalator to get down to baggage claim.

I took a deep breath. "No idea," I replied, looking at a digital screen, telling us which conveyor belt will have our stuff. "But Monroe knows, so hopefully that'll take some of the load off." After learning we would be at Belt 3, we went over there.

As soon as she came into view, my mom started waving at me, a huge smile on her face. Dad turned around, and smiled. I looked around for my little sister, but she was nowhere to be found. And ever since she got lost in an airport in Nashville a few years ago, I doubt she would have wandered off.

Well, I thought, this should be fun.


Emails Between Audra and Sawyer Cunningham, Three Months Ago

From: Sawyer Cunningham
Recipient(s): Audra Cunningham
Subject: Coming home!

Hey Mom,

I can't believe I'm almost done in Europe. A year goes by too fast, but I do miss you guys a lot. I have taken a bunch more pictures since last time, so make sure to check out the attachment. (That's the little button at the bottom that says "Download Attachment", next to the thumbnails of all of the pictures.)

So I have a question. One of the girls on this trip, Julianne, has been a really good friend for the past couple of years, and since we're planning on getting an apartment together, maybe she could stay with us for a few weeks? I don't know if the guest room is still a transformed art studio, but she can stay on the cot in my room if that's the case. She's the one in the picture of the Eiffel Tower with me.

See you really soon. I love you.
Sawyer

Sent: 11:12 am

From: Audra Cunningham
Recipient(s): Sawyer Cunningham
Subject: re: Coming home!

Sawyer,

Those pictures are just lovely. But are you wearing enough clothes? It looks very chilly. I know you're a big girl now; it's just a mother's habit.

Your father and I have been discussing if Julianne can visit, and we think it would be fun. And you two will be sharing an apartment. Just remember living with friends will not be all that it seems.

Monroe seems indifferent about the whole thing. She's been acting not herself. Maybe school troubles? Boy troubles? Maybe you being around will get her out of her funk.

Love you sweetheart,
Mom

Sent: 6:42 pm

From: Sawyer Cunningham
Recipient(s): Audra Cunningham
Subject: re: re: Coming home!

Mom,

Thanks for letting Julianne stay for a while. But there's something you should know.

Mom… I…

Julianne and I…

I think she's…

We've…

This is so hard. I didn't think it would be this hard. Maybe it'll be easier in person.

Saved to Drafts: 9:39 pm


Instant Messaging Between Monroe and Sawyer Cunningham, One Month Ago

Sawyer: Hey! We haven't been on at the same time in a loooong time.

Monroe: While I sleep, you explore fancy places. When you sleep, I'm doing homework.
Monroe: But you're right, we've only been emailing, and not for a while. What's up?

Sawyer: I just really needed to talk to you, M. How do you feel about Julianne staying with us?

Monroe: Juli…Who?

Sawyer: Mom didn't tell you?

Monroe: Maybe? I don't know. I spend a lot of time in my room as of the late.

Sawyer: I've heard.
Sawyer: Well, I need to talk to you.

Monroe: About what?
Monroe: Julianne?

Sawyer: Yeah. About Julianne.

Monroe: What about her?
Monroe: Wait… She doesn't snore, does she?

Sawyer: What? No!
Sawyer: We've… Um… Kissed…

Monroe: Good, because I cannot be interrupted by snoring every night. I like my sleep.
Monroe: Really?
Monroe: Do Mom and Dad know?

Sawyer: What do you think? She wouldn't let us have boys—whether they are just friends or not—stay over if one of them wasn't home. Do you think she'd let my girlfriend sleep under the same roof as me?
Sawyer: All I've said is she's a really good friend.

Monroe: I see, I see

Sawyer: All I'm asking is that you don't tell them and let me do it when I'm ready. If all goes well, I can cover it up while we're at home, and just say it was something we figured out once we move into an apartment.
Sawyer: Okay?

Monroe: Okay.
Monroe: Love you, sis.

Sawyer: You too.
Sawyer: Goodnight.