The Jedi's Sister

The Hillsboro High School Alumni Association sponsored a gathering every year on the Friday night of Thanksgiving weekend. The idea was that people home for the holiday would have a chance to see old friends at the gathering held in the banquet room of The Bullpen Tavern.

Artie Cromwell was among those who showed up this year to share old memories and current events while hoping a few faces not seen in a while would make an appearance. He was standing in the banquet room with several other alumni leafing through old yearbooks and looking at photo boards while classic music played on the stereo.

Artie looked up to see Roxanne Bosnell strolling through the door with her old high school friend Judy Turner who looked ten years older than her actual age.

A grin lit up Artie's face and he slid across the room to greet his best friend's Kid Sister. "Roxanne!? Holy Crap! How the hell are you?"

Roxanne was momentarily taken aback but when she realized who it was she smiled contently. "Artie! It's so great to see you! I'm fine, how are you?" She asked, giving him a hug.

"I'm okay," Artie smiled. "Christ, I haven't seen you in forever!"

"Yeah, I don't get back much," Roxanne smiled.

"How's life in the big city and all that?" Artie laughed.

"She's living with an actor!" Judy chimed in proudly.

Roxanne threw her friend an annoyed look. "You weren't supposed to tell anyone," she complained.

Judy shrugged indifferently. "The guy's on television!" She bragged.

"Nobody cares, Judy," Roxanne said uncomfortably.

Artie smiled. "Judy does!" He said.

"Yeah," Roxanne said with embarrassment and Artie couldn't help but grin, happy to see that Roxanne hadn't changed that much.

Her long blonde hair was now curly and barely to her shoulders but she was definitely within her cheering weight (and looks!). She was wearing skin tight designer jeans and when she opened her winter jacket Artie saw that she was wearing a firm fitting pink sweater underneath. She was also wearing designer boots.

"You look great," Artie let her know.

"Thanks," Roxanne smiled. "You do too."

"Liar," Artie laughed, knowing that he had put on weight since their high school days. "But at least my hair still looks good," he joked.

Artie still wore his jet black hair long and styled even though a few strands of gray were beginning to appear on the sides.

"Come on, Roxy, there's plenty of people to see," Judy complained.

"Yes, be sure to mingle," Artie said as he gestured around the room. "Plenty of people to see."

"Oh, I don't know if I'll even know anybody," Roxanne feared. "Everybody's forgotten me, I'm sure."

"I haven't," Artie replied.

Roxanne blushed before Judy dragged her off to meet other people. Artie watched The Jedi's sister disappear into the crowd and he smiled sadly. It had been more than twenty years since they graduated from high school and he hardly saw her after that. Roxanne went off to college and rarely came home, moving to New York City to pursue an acting career that never panned out and she ended up working for a talent agency as a recruiter, scout, and casting director.

Artie attended a Division Three college on a basketball scholarship, got his degree in communications, played professional ball in Europe for a year and then bounced around the Continental league for a couple of more years before giving the dream up, coming home, and going to work for his brother who owned and operated a transportation business. Artie mostly drove transport vans to airports and other locations, although he put his communications degree to good use by writing and voicing the company's radio advertising and volunteering as an announcer for local high school basketball games. He was also an assistant basketball coach for a local youth league.

Artie found himself watching Roxanne as the night unfolded There were several classmates attending as well as other people from that era and Roxanne was chatting with several of them (mostly the girls she cheered with and fellow student council members).

Artie played high school sports and now, twenty years removed, it was about his only claim to high school fame left. That's mostly what he shot the shit about with the other alumni guys as they stood around the room with beers in their hands remembering glory days of old.

Roxanne eventually made her way back to where Artie was standing with Slap O'Malley and a couple of other guys from the basketball team.

"Buy you a drink?" Artie offered when he noticed Roxanne's hands were empty.

"Sure," she smiled. "A glass of wine would be great."

Artie escorted The Jedi's sister to the bar feeling much older than he really was. He was twenty-five pounds over his playing weight and his knees were killing him from years of athletic abuse. Roxanne, on the other hand, looked the same as she did in high school. "So, who's the actor?" Artie teased as he handed Roxanne a glass of red wine.

"Nobody you'd know, probably," Roxanne smiled. "He's not as big as Judy likes to make him out to be."

"What's his name?" Artie asked as the two slipped into a private corner of the room away from the others.

"His professional name is Maxum Wilcox," Roxanne replied. "I know him as Chris."

"Isn't he that guy who played the insane cop on Flesh Eaters?"

"Oh, so you do know him," an impressed Roxanne laughed. "I didn't know you were into that stuff."

"I don't think a flesh eater deserves you," Artie joked.

"Well, he gets steady work, he's financially independent, and he says he loves me," Roxanne remarked. "What more could I ask for?" She added with a tone of sarcasm in her voice.

"So this is the lucky guy who ended up with you?" Artie said with envy.

"For now," Roxanne muttered. She glanced at him. "And you? Any flesh eaters in your life?"

"Not for a while," Artie sighed.

"You know, there was a time when the whole school thought we were going to end up together," Roxanne reminded him.

"To bad we didn't," Artie sighed.

"Well, I was stupid not to go out with you," Roxanne told him.

"Really?" He asked with surprise.

"You were best friends with my brother, Artie," she said. "I thought it would mess stuff up but now I realize The Jedi could have cared less what we did."

"I wish we knew that then!" Artie laughed.

"Oh well," Roxanne said with a shrug.

But deep down she wished she knew it then too. Artie was the only guy she ever really wanted even though she dated other guys in high school. Her brother The Jedi was a Navy Seal these days and he was a great ball player in the day but Artie was even better and got more of the publicity.

"So, where's the flesh eater?" Artie wondered. "Too big for Hillsboro?"

"Basically," Roxanne growled. "I thought for sure he'd want to spend Thanksgiving with me but he was on one of the Macy Day floats and then he was going to the Nebraska college football game today with some of his friends."

"Hillsboro would have been more fun," Artie grinned.

"That's what I thought!" Roxanne laughed.

"How was your Thanksgiving?"

"Haven't been home for one in a while so it was nice even if my family is still crazy," Roxanne admitted. "I didn't make it to the game though."

"It was pretty cold," Artie replied. "But at least we won this year."

"And your Thanksgiving?" She inquired.

"Gorged out as always," Artie smiled. "My mother still puts it on."

"We went out." Roxanne made a face. "I could have done that in New York!"

"I wish I had known you were here," Artie replied. "I would have invited you to our spread."

"I would have come in a heartbeat," Roxanne said.

"You and your mom still at odds?" Artie guessed.

"It's what we do," Roxanne frowned.

"I bet she's disappointed you're not married with five kids," Artie laughed.

"Don't you know it," Roxanne exclaimed, rolling her eyes. But then she sucked in her breath. "Of course, now that we're getting to be a certain age I have to admit that I'm starting to wonder if I should have done exactly that."

"Does the flesh eater want kids?"

"He already has two," Roxanne revealed. "I'm not sure if he's interested in any more."

"Oh, right, wasn't he married to that underwear model?"

"You had to bring that up?" Roxanne moaned, putting her hand on her meaty thigh. "I couldn't fit into a pair of her panties if I fasted for a year."

Artie laughed. "She always looked anorexic to me."

Roxanne nodded. "What about you? No little Arties running around?"

Artie shook his head no. "My biggest regret is I never got to coach my own kid."

"Sorry," Roxanne replied. "But maybe you'll still get your chance."

"The clock is ticking, Rox."

"I know," she agreed sadly.

"How 'bout your Dad?" Artie wondered. "How's he doing?"

"Hanging in there," Roxanne replied. "His second wife died, you know."

'Yeah, I heard," Artie replied. "I was sorry to hear that."

"Thanks," Roxanne replied. "She was good for him."

"You are too," Artie told her.

She smiled sadly. "Sometimes I think I should just move back here," she admitted.

"Why don't you?" Artie asked.

"I couldn't wait to get out of here, Artie," she said. "Now I'm supposed to slink back?"

"You don't have to slink back," Artie laughed. "You could ride in on your white horse proudly and happily, the conquering heroine ready to do battle."

"The Jedi is the hero in the family," Roxanne said.

"You are too," Artie assured her.

"I'm not sure if I could live in the same town as my mother," Roxanne said. "She drives me crazy." She peered at Artie. "You still like living here?"

"It's a great town," Artie replied.

"You still hold the school point record in basketball? Roxanne asked.

"Na," Artie laughed. "Some kid named Ben Brawkley broke it a couple of years ago."

"Oh, rats," Roxanne said. "I was so proud of you for accomplishing that feat."

"At least my name's still up on the banner," Artie grinned. "Underneath his though!"

Roxanne stared at him for a long minute. "It's really fun talking to you like this, Sir Arthur" she beamed.

"Maybe you should be talking with some of the others," Artie suggested.

She waved her hand in a dismissive fashion. "I already did. They had to get home to their husband and kids! We can hang out if you don't mind."

Artie nodded. "I don't mind at all." He was grinning like the old days.

"Do they still call you 'Sir Arthur'?" She asked.

"Na," Artie told her. "That went away as soon as I stopped playing."

"It was the best nickname ever!" Roxanne laughed.

"Your brother's 'The Jedi' was pretty good too," Artie replied. "He sure could work the magic on the court."

"I miss him when he's so far away," Roxanne admitted.

"Somebody's got to save the world," Artie replied with appreciation.

"I just don't want him getting killed doing that stupid Navy Seal macho stuff," Roxanne worried.

"He knows what he's doing," Artie assured her.

Artie knew he never would have been the basketball player he was without The Jedi by his side. The two players complimented each other on the court, knew each others moves and style. The Jedi led the league in assists every year, always willing to set Artie up for the great shot.

Artie's monopoly on Roxanne's company was interrupted by a wave of late arriving alumni attendees and he patiently stood listening to Roxanne chat with some girls both from a few classes ahead of them and behind them in school. He said hello to a few husbands he recognized and shared a long conversation with former basketball teammate Hen Mcdonald but the alumni association had only reserved the banquet room until ten o'clock so the gathering began to thin out as the evening went on.

Judy made a return appearance after spending most of the time with a pack of party girls in the corner of the room and she was obviously feeling no pain.

"Okay, Roxs, time to go," Judy announced, her deep red hair falling across her face.

"Already?" Roxanne asked with disappointment.

"If you want a ride with me, yeah," Judy grumbled. "I've got to go walk the stupid dog."

Roxanne glanced at Artie. "Can I get a ride with you?" She asked hopefully.

"Sure," Artie replied happily. "No problem."

"Really?" Judy asked with disapproval.

"It will be fine," Roxanne replied with annoyance. "Don't worry about me. You go ahead Judy, I'll see you tomorrow."

Judy looked suspiciously back and forth from Roxanne to Artie. "She has a boyfriend," Judy growled to Artie.

"I know," Artie replied. "It's the first thing you told me."

"She lives in New York City," Judy reminded him. "That's where her life is."

"Thank you, Judy," Artie replied.

"She's sleeping with a famous actor," Judy pointed out.

"For Christ sakes, Judy!" Roxanne protested. "Give it a rest."

"Fine," Judy said in a huff, turning and leaving the banquet room.

"She wants my life," Roxanne explained sadly.

"I don't think her divorce went particularly well," Artie agreed.

"She was so much fun in high school," Roxanne sighed. "Now she just seems bitter and angry."

"Life doesn't always turn out the way we expect," Artie remarked.

"Did it for you?" Roxanne wondered. They were sitting at the near end of the bar now that the place had cleared out as more of the alumni attendees left.

"I gave it my best shot," Artie replied.

"Just like me with acting," Roxanne remarked. "It didn't take all that long for me to realize I was just another number."

"I could have kept bouncing around playing for whatever independent team would take me but I knew I wasn't going anywhere either," Artie said.

"So you came back here," she said.

Artie nodded. "Sometimes I'm not sure if I should have."

"Sometimes I wonder if I should," Roxanne said.

"Seriously?" Artie asked hopefully.

She shrugged. "I'm not sure if I'm doing what I really want to be doing."

"With the flesh eater you mean?"

"Not just him," she sighed. "My career. My life. But then I spend two days with my mother and I ask myself why I'd ever come back!"

"You wouldn't have to live with her," Artie reminded her.

"Maybe I should move in with my Dad and help him out," Roxanne considered.

"You're really not happy in New York?"

She nodded. "I feel tired. And I miss small town life."
"Is that why you came home for the holiday?"

"I thought it might be fun," she said. "And tonight has been. I haven't seen most of these people since we graduated."
"It's great seeing you," Artie told her with a wide grin.
"Why are you smirking like that?" Roxanne asked with a laugh.
"No reason," he answered innocently, refusing to take his eyes off of her.

Roxanne sucked in her breath. "I miss being popular, don't you?" She asked as she glanced at a photo on the wall of Artie making a terrific basketball shot and her in her cheerleader outfit and pom poms cheering him on in the background of the big game.

"Not really," Artie replied.
"Not even a little?" Roxanne asked seriously.
"You stayed away, Rox," he said. "I came back. I'm a used to be."

"That's better than a never was," she sighed.

"You were never that," Artie said.
"That's how I feel sometimes."
"High school was a long time ago," Artie stated. "You can't go back."
"I wish I could," she admitted sadly, finishing the last of her wine.

"Another?" Artie asked, gesturing to her empty glass.

"You'll have to go out into the main bar," the pretty twenty-something year old bartender informed him. "We're closing this room down in a few minutes."

"Oh," Artie said, glancing around and becoming surprised to realize that the banquet room was almost empty except for a couple of the alumni committee members who were packing up yearbooks and taking down the decorations.

"Do you want to go out into the bar?" Artie asked Roxanne.

"No, I think I've had enough," she replied.

"Okay," Artie said with a touch of disappointment in his voice. "Well, I'm your ride so I'll take you home."

They thanked the few folks left in the room and Artie escorted Roxanne out of the bar.

"My car is in the lot across the street," he told her.

Roxanne glanced back at Beano Field, the old ballpark that The Bullpen Tavern was actually part of. "Did you ever wish you played there in the Serguci League?" She asked.

"There came a time when I had to pick a sport to focus on," Artie said.

They had reached the curb on the opposite side of the street and they both turned back to take in the sight of the old ballpark looming in the dark.

"Once I went with basketball I had to play in the tournaments and summer leagues and that was it for baseball," Artie explained.

"Remember when we used to go there as kids?" Roxanne asked.

"Your Dad played amateur ball into his forties," Artie smiled.

"That's one of the reasons my mother divorced him," Roxanne sighed. "But he was a good player, wasn't he?"

"I'll take in a game now and then on a nice summer night," Artie said.

"I really miss that part of growing up here," Roxanne said. "New York City has a lot of things but it doesn't have Beano Field."

"Come on, it's cold out here," Artie said, taking her by the arm.

She was reluctant to go and Artie had to pull her along. He led her to his car and once they were inside he turned the engine on and got the heater going.

"What's going on, Rox?" Artie asked.

She was looking straight out the windshield of the car staring at the ballpark that was now directly in front of them.

"What do you mean?" She asked blankly.

"All this homesickness talk and wishing you could go back in time and all that stuff," Artie said. "Did something happen with the flesh eater?"

"Nothing's been happening with the flesh eater for a while now," she sighed. "He's so wrapped up in his career and being Maxum Wilcox and all that fake stuff. And lately I've been feeling like I've been living a fake life too. That I'm supposed to live in New York City even though I've come to hate it. That I've become really good at a job I've really come to hate too."

"So now Hillsboro looks a little more inviting than it did when you left?"

"I didn't realize what I was giving up," Roxanne admitted. Then she glanced at him. "Is that why you came back?"

"Where else was I supposed to go?" Artie asked.

"How come you never took yourself seriously?" She wanted to know. "You were one of the best players around here ever."

"I guess it all kind of overwhelmed me," Artie said in true honesty. "So I relied on my terrific personality instead," he added with a mocking grin.

"You lost that by sixth grade," Roxanne teased.

"So, your Mom's house?" Artie asked as he put the car in gear and drove out of the lot now that the car had warmed up.

"God, I don't want to go back there," Roxanne sighed. "I was with her all day today doing the Black Friday thing. I'm all mom'ed out. I'm sure she'll want to know who I saw tonight and all that."

"Well, your Dad's then?" Artie asked.

"No, he's in bed by now," Roxanne said. "I'd hate to disturb him."

"Judy's?" Artie guessed.

"She'll just ride my ass for hanging out with you," Roxanne groaned. "No thanks." She threw him a look. "She never forgave you for liking me more than her, you know."

"Where are you going to stay then?" Artie asked with confusion.

"Where do you live?" Roxanne asked, giving him a look.

"Billy Sanderson's old house," Artie revealed.

"Really?" Roxanne laughed.

"Remember that mother in law apartment they built on the side?" Artie asked. "I live in it now. The Sandersons are long gone, of course, but the new owners needed a renter and they got me."

"I'll go there," Roxanne announced.

Artie was surprised by the self-invitation but he wasn't about to argue. He was lonely and Roxanne's return to his life (however temporary) was like a breath of fresh air. He was embarrassed by his situation – working as a driver for his brother and living in a mother in law's apartment while Roxanne was a woman of New York – but he wasn't going to let that stop him from spending time with Roxanne again.

Roxanne never treated him the way most did back when he was the local sports celebrity. He was her brother's pal, a friend of the family, and a sparring partner for her to banter back and forth with in good fun. He missed that.

Roxanne reminisced about the times Artie used to give her rides back in high school until they reached the Sanderson house (now owned by the Girards), a brown ranch and Artie's apartment was built off the far end with its own entrance and a side porch. He was allowed to park in the driveway which had a space paved to the side for his vehicle. There were still lights on inside the Girard side of the house as Artie walked Roxanne to his door.

Roxanne was surprised at how generic the inside was when she stepped into Artie's apartment. There was a small kitchen with a breakfast counter, a fair sized living room area, and a bedroom off of that, along with a bathroom. A door off the living room led to a hall and the Girard side of the house. The place was clean and tidy but surprisingly devoid of personality or identity. There were a few landscape portraits on the wall but that was about it. The living room had a large entertainment center and a desk with a computer on it, a lazy boy chair and a sofa.

"Where's all your sports stuff?" Roxanne asked, glancing around.

"In boxes in my parents' cellar," Artie replied with a shrug. "It's irrelevant ancient history now."

"It was a big part of your life!" Roxanne protested.

"Was," Artie agreed.

She raised an eyebrow but didn't respond. "Nice place," she said instead.

"Thanks," he said, knowing she was just being polite. The apartment felt more like a hotel suite than his personal home.

Roxanne took off her coat and tossed it on the lazy boy. She kicked off her boots and took a seat on the couch. "Am I being too forward?" She asked, giving him another look.

"You want something to eat?" Artie asked. "A snack or something?"

"Got any booze?" She asked.

"Brandy," he replied.

"Hit me," she smiled.

Artie went into the kitchen and returned a moment later with two shot glasses and the bottle of brandy. He placed all three on the coffee table in front of the couch and took a seat next to Roxanne before filling the two glasses, handing one to her and taking the other for herself.

"You never even drank beer in high school," Roxanne recalled.

"I was pretty square," Artie admitted, taking a sip of the brandy.

"I always thought you were pretty cool," she smiled.

"So, has anybody here met the Flesh eater yet?" Artie wondered.

"My mom met him in the city before," Roxanne said unhappily. "Now she's convinced that he's my meal ticket and the answer to my problems of being a woman approaching forty without a man in her life. She thinks a wealthy successful actor is good enough for me. She never thought I'd ever marry the right guy." She peered at him. "I always though that we'd made an awesome couple."

Artie blushed. "Maybe back then," he agreed. "Trust me, now you're way better than I'll ever be. You're better off with the flesh eater."

"I doubt that," Roxanne said.

"Don't you care about what your mom thinks?" He teased.

"Have I ever?" She asked sarcastically.

"Not that I recall," Artie grinned.

"I haven't lived here for awhile but it's easy to see that Hillsboro is still the same small quaint town it's always been," Roxanne observed.

"Including the town gossip," Artie warned.

"What, you think Judy will make a big deal out of this?" She asked. "Oh, that reminds me."

Roxanne dug her cell phone out of her pocket and punched in a key.

"Hello, Mother," she said, giving Artie a smile. "Hey, it looks like I'm spending the night with Judy so don't wait up, okay? Very nice. Lots of people. Okay. Mom, I really can't talk right now. Tomorrow. Alright. 'night."

She ended the call and put the cell on the coffee table next to her shot glass which she refilled.

"I thought you said one glass of wine was enough," Artie remarked.

"It was," she said. "For The Bullpen!"

"Still lying to your mom?" Artie asked.

"Do you want me to call her back and tell her where I really am?" Roxanne asked, reaching for the cell.

"No, no, that's okay," Artie said, grabbing her arm and stopping her from taking the phone. "How come your mom never liked me, anyway?" He pouted.

"Because you were better than The Jedi," Roxanne answered. "You were the one getting all the headlines."

"Now he's a war hero and I drive vans," Artie pointed out. "I think your mom can get over it now!"

"She never gets over anything," Roxanne told him. She downed her second shot and refilled her glass.

"Go easy on that stuff," Artie warned, still nursing his first shot.

"Was that your only dream in high school?" Roxanne wondered. "To be good at sports? To play basketball?"

"What else was there?" Artie shrugged. "I wasn't smart like you."

"Didn't you ever dream about me?" Roxanne dared to ask.

"Sometimes," Artie confessed.

"Why didn't you ever tell me?" She asked with annoyance.

"You were my best friend's sister," he reasoned.

"You could have any girl in the school anyway," Roxanne sighed.

"I didn't want just any girl," Artie remarked. "Besides, you dated other guys."

"They were my consolation prize," she said sadly.

"I didn't have the guts," Artie said awkwardly.

"I know," she sighed. "Look, it's understandable," she said with a brave smile. "We've known each other since we were kids. You were always hanging out with The Jedi at my house. You were practically family even though my family was kind of screwed up. I know we were just friends but that doesn't mean I didn't have feelings for you."

"Same here," Artie told her honestly.

She looked at him with sad eyes before nodding with understanding. She took in a deep breath and gave him a resigned smile. "I really came back here to see you," she admitted.

"I'm glad you did," Artie replied. "I was hoping you'd show up."

"I thought you'd be married by now," Roxanne told him.

"Never found the right one," he said. "And I'm not exactly Sir Arthur anymore either so that's reduced my marketability," he added sarcastically.

"You'll always be Sir Arthur," Roxanne said knowingly.

"Does your Mom still have all those cats?" Artie asked.

"Well, not the same ones," Roxanne laughed. "But yeah, she's got six or seven still. God help us when she dies and me and The Jedi have to clean the house out and find those cats a home."

Roxanne's cell phone rang. She leaned over and answered it. "Oh, it's you," she said and at first Artie thought it was the flesh eater checking in which might have been slightly awkward.

"Hey, I told my mother I was staying with you tonight so be sure to cover for me if it comes up," Roxanne said and Artie knew it was Judy.

"Never mind who I'm with," Roxanne smirked, tossing Artie a look. "No, I'm safe. Yes, I know what I have. Yes, I respect Maxum, Judy. Chill out, please."

A wave of guilt swept over Artie as he listened to Roxanne talk with Judy. She did belong to another guy so what was he doing sitting with her late at night in his apartment?

"Did you call for any particular reason?" Roxanne was asking. "So," she said after a pause to listen to Judy's response. "You're basically checking up on me."

There was another long pause. "Fine. Whatever. Okay." Roxanne ended the call and turned the phone completely off. "Since when do I answer to her?" Roxanne asked with annoyance.

Artie let out a short laugh. "You don't."

"It's not as if we've remained that close over the years," Roxanne complained.

"I'm not sure if Judy's the one to be giving you ethics advice anyway," Artie offered. "She was the party queen back in the day."

"She never attended a party she didn't like," Roxanne agreed.

"Or met a guy she wasn't opposed to sleeping with," Artie added. "She's just pissed because she's home alone with a couple of kids while you're free to do what you want."

"She never had a chance," Roxanne sighed. "She was already pregnant when we graduated. She didn't get to go to college. She never left Hillsboro. Her marriage ended."

"See, you leaving was good," Artie said.

"I knew there was no way I could stay in Hillsboro and give up a college education," Roxanne agreed. "And you were off to college and basketball stardom."

"Hardly," Artie groaned.

"And The Jedi was off to the Naval Academy most likely never to return," Roxanne said. "I couldn't stay here alone with my crazy mother. I always wished you would have asked me to go with you but I knew you never would so I left and never looked back."

"You would have resented me if I dragged you through Europe on the pay I was getting and then bounced you through the northeastern Continental League while I clung to a fading dream," Artie said.

"Maybe," Roxanne agreed. "But leaving wasn't easy for me although with time I stopped thinking about it and tried to live my life."

"And now here we are," Artie realized.

"I knew you'd never invite me over here tonight," she said, making a face at him. "So I invited myself."

"Why?" Artie asked.

"You have to ask?" Roxanne groaned.

"We both moved on with our lives, Rox," Artie pointed out.

"Have we?" She tested.

"You sure you'll be able to forgive yourself if you stay tonight?"

"I'd have no regrets, Artie," she assured him.

You've been gone for twenty years," he reminded her.

"Seems like yesterday," she joked.

"Your mom really won't like me now," Artie sighed.

Roxanne laughed. "I wouldn't worry about it. My mother's crazy, remember?"

"Maybe I should drive you to your mom's," Artie suggested nervously.

"No you shouldn't," Roxanne said sternly.

"I've often wondered if I would've been better off staying away," Artie admitted. "Better to be a distant legend than a local has been."

"Things happen for a reason, Artie," Roxanne told him.

"You look the same as you did in high school," he let her know.

"I sort of feel the way too," she noted with a sly grin. "I still have the same stupid crush on that dumb basketball player."

Artie smiled. "You always were crazy."

Roxanne stared at him. "I was happy too," she said quietly. "Lately, not so much."

"Roxanne—" he started but then he caught himself.

"What?" she asked hopefully.

Their eyes locked but then Artie broke from the gaze. Roxanne wasn't going to let him get away with that so she leaned in and kissed him.

"I'm glad you still have the crush," he whispered through the smooch.

"I missed you," Roxanne said, giving him another kiss.

Artie smiled contently as he wrapped his arms around her waist. "You really are beautiful."

"Thank you," she replied in a whisper as she kissed him one more time. "Everything suddenly feels right."

"It does," he agreed.

"Are you happy, Artie?" Roxanne worried.

"I am now," he replied.

"Are we going to get naked tonight?" Roxanne giggled as she took another shot of brandy.

"If you keep knocking those down we will," Artie remarked.

"You can't know how many times I wanted to jump your bones," Roxanne sighed.

"I remember The Jedi's birthday party," Artie replied.

"Oh yeah, I would have launched that night if my mother hadn't come home!" Roxanne laughed.

"Another reason she hated me," Artie groaned. "Finding me in your room both of us in our underwear….."

"Twenty more seconds and you would have seen everything!" Roxanne giggled.

"I almost cried," Artie admitted.

"I always knew I was with the wrong guy," Roxanne said as she fell against him and welcomed his embrace nestled together on the couch. "But whenever you came over to hang out with The Jedi and teased me about stupid stuff I knew you were the guy. And when I cheered for you and watched you play I knew you were the guy. And when we graduated and went our separate ways I knew deep down you were the guy and I knew it was too late. I cried a lot."

Artie brushed his hand through her curly hair. She looked at him. "Did you ever think of us that way?" She wanted to know.

"I do now," he said.

She focused on his face with fascination. "We should have done this a long time ago," she sighed. "God I wanted to be with you," Roxanne moaned.
"I wanted to be with you too," Artie revealed.

Artie drew her close and their lips met again in a warm happy and contented kiss. It lasted longer this time and when they pulled apart and looked at each other they both had smiles on their faces.

"Can we adjourn somewhere more comfortable?" Roxanne asked.
"Yes," Artie said.
Roxanne got up from the couch first and looked back at Artie with a huge grin on her face. "I've been waiting for this moment forever."

Artie lifted an eyebrow as he stood too. She took him by the hand and led him into his bedroom which was as tidy and orderly as the rest of the house, the bed neatly made.

"Did you know you were going to have company tonight?" Roxanne asked.

"I fantasized that all of this would happen just as it is happening," Artie admitted.

"Good," she smiled, shaking with excited anticipation.

"Are you willing to risk everything for this, Roxanne?" Artie asked as they stood at the foot of the bed eyeing each other.

"This should have happened years ago, Artie," she replied knowingly. "Now it's finally going to happen and I don't care about the consequences. This is what I want."

Artie put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her tight, hugging her hard.

"I feel safe in your arms," she whispered.
Roxanne wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him tightly to her, kissing him more passionately than ever before.

"Do you remember the first time we kissed?" She wanted to know.

"Under the mistletoe when we were fourteen," Artie grinned.

"I thought maybe you put your sister up to that little prank," Roxanne giggled.

"No, that was all on her own," Artie smirked. "I paid her ten bucks later though!"

Roxanne laughed with delight. "I would have paid her twenty!"

They sat on the edge of the bed as if they had choreographed the move and they continued to embrace as their desire spilled out unrestrained.

"Your heart is beating so fast!" Roxanne exclaimed as she felt it racing in his chest against her breasts.

She pulled back and tugged on the old Hillsboro Hurricanes sweatshirt he had worn to the alumni gathering and then watched with contentment as Artie pulled it off over his head. She put her hands on his chest and felt his heart beating and she didn't resist when Artie pulled her pink sweater off over her head.

He ran his fingers through her hair as he leaned in unfasten the clasp of her bra. Roxanne nodded and smiled her permission and Artie felt his hands tremble as he finally got the bra to release and fall from her chest, finally revealing her breasts for him to see.

"Just as I imagined," Artie smiled as he looked at her breasts and then up into her eyes.

He gently ran his fingers over her nipples which were already stiff. She jetted her chest out and Artie leaned in to taste her womanly mounds gently sucking on each nipple which caused her to moan as she buried her hands in his thick hair.

Artie pushed Roxanne back so that she was lying on the bed and he stared down at her, admiring her topless beauty.

"This is as it should have been long ago," she told him as she unsnapped her jeans and effortlessly tugged them down her shapely legs, leaving only her blue-hued underpants as her cover.
"I'm not getting naked alone," she purred, reaching her hand out to grab his belt buckle.
"May I join you?" Artie asked, a wicked smirk on his face.

"You'd better!" She threatened.
Artie kicked off his shoes and removed his jeans as she watched with adoring eyes. He tossed aside his tee shirt and then lay beside her on the bed while gathering her into his arms and exploring her waiting mouth with his tongue. Roxanne gladly stuck hers in to his mouth and she began to suck on his tongue. Their kisses deepened and strengthened as they locked jaws and sucked face and made out like the teenagers they wished they were and felt like again.

Roxanne grabbed the waistband of Artie's underwear and slid them down his legs watching with anticipation as he finally for the first time became revealed to her.

"Oh wow," she said with lustful approval when she saw what she had been waiting for years to see.
Artie grinned as he pulled down Roxanne's panties to expose her secret before falling on her and holding her close, kissing her with anticipation as they rocked together on the bed embracing, clutching, touching, feeling, exploring and enjoying each other. After a while of such bed Olympics, Artie lifted himself up and looked into Roxanne's eyes to see her desire reflecting back at him.

"Lets," she whispered happily, her eyes watered with joy as she arched her back in anticipation of what was about to happen and they both knew that nothing would ever be the same again. "I'm yours," she promised.

"And I am yours," he vowed.

Roxanne's eyes showed no signs of reservation, hesitation, or doubt. She traced her finger along his jaw line before planting a soft kiss on his lips and then she kissed him harder. She moaned into his mouth and he moved his hands around to her rump and smoothly guided his body down to settle firmly between her legs.

"Finally," she smiled.
Their lovemaking lasted hours, from a slow start to a frenzied pace as the years of frustration erupted with delightful passion and went on through this long awaited incredible night. They clung to each other as they rocked their bodies in sync as if they had been lovers for years and when it was finally over in the wee hours of the morning they lay naked on the bed, curled into each other and cuddling as they savored every second together.
Roxanne rubbed her hand along Artie's chest and abdomen as they lay exposed on the bed. Artie couldn't resist once again cupping her breasts one more time and lightly flicking one of her nipples with his thumb.

"I'm glad we waited," Roxanne told him happily.

"Really?" He asked with surprise.

"We know what we're doing now," she giggled. "We made love instead of just having sex like we would have if we did this when we were sixteen. I've got to tell you I've never experienced an orgasm like the one I did tonight," she said happily. "It's as if my body kept that one in there just for this moment!"

"I'm glad," Artie said, leaning over and kissing her again.

Roxanne wrapped her arms around his neck and held him tight against her and they stayed that way for most of the night.

They both had Cheshire cat looks on their faces when they awoke in the morning. They had somehow made it under the covers during the night and now they were snuggled under the blankets as the mid morning sun tried to force its way through the closed blinds of the window.

Roxanne rolled over so she was lying on top of Artie and she folded her arms across his chest, resting her chin on her hands and staring into his eyes as her naked breasts pressed against his sternum and she could feel him come to life below, his greeting rubbing against her leg.

"No regrets?" He asked with worry.

"Are you kidding?" She laughed. "None whatsoever!"

"What are we going to do now?" He asked.

"I was thinking breakfast at Johnny C's," she grinned.

"And after that?"

"I'm not sure yet," she admitted.

His stiff excitement had found its way inside of her and they slowly made love while they chatted.

"Stay in Hillsboro," Artie pleaded as he looked into his eyes.

"I think I pretty much ended that debate, don't you?" She asked as she gently moved her hips with his. "But I can't live with my mother."

"Move in with me," He suggested.

"You'd have me?" She asked as her breathing became heavier and shorter, her body reacting to his stimulation.

"Yes," he assured her. "You're the one I've been waiting for. I just didn't know it until last night."

"From zero to sixty just like that?"

"We'll take things slowly," he vowed.

"There's nothing slow about this, Artie," Roxanne said, trying not to moan as she felt the excitement building inside her.

"It's just a twenty year delay," he said as his breathing started to become labored too.

Roxanne smiled as she stared into Artie's eyes. "You're the one I want to be with," she said.

"You're the one I was meant to be with," Artie groaned.

And with that they climaxed together with shouts of joy and happiness.

When Roxanne recovered fro their second round of lovemaking, she threw the covers off and rolled off of him, once again revealing her nudity for him to see.

"Let's take a shower," she said as she jumped from the bed and Artie gladly chased her into the bathroom.

The Hillsboro High School Alumni Association once again sponsored the gathering of alumni on the Friday night of Thanksgiving weekend in the banquet room of The Bullpen Tavern.

Artie and Roxanne were among those who showed up to share memories and visit with old friends while leafing through yearbooks and looking at photo boards with classic music played on the stereo.

"Where's Madeline?" Judy asked when she got her old friend Roxanne alone for a few moments.

"My dad is watching her for a few hours," Roxanne smiled. "You know, I'm pretty she was conceived last Alumni weekend!"

"She had to be," Judy agreed. "You went back to New York that Monday, quit your job, packed up your life, and came home."

"And with Artie's help, I got my job with the WGRN sales department and we moved in with my Dad."

"I can't get over how great Artie looks," Judy remarked as they watched the former basketball hero shooting the breeze with some of the guys.

'He's dropped thirty pounds since last year," a proud Roxanne replied. "He joined an over-forty basketball league too. I made him bring out all his old trophies and awards and they're proudly displayed in the family room now."

"And what does your brother The Jedi think of all this?" Judy wanted to know.

"He returned home from an extended deployment and his reaction to finding his sister and best friend living together was classically anti-climatic," Roxanne laughed.

"Why? What'd he say?" Judy wondered.

"'I thought you guys were going to do it years ago'!" Roxanne smirked. "Then he said 'What took you so long!?'"

Judy and Roxanne exchanged looks and then burst out in laughter.

"It would have been nice if he said that oh about twenty three years ago," Judy remarked.

"That's okay," Roxanne replied. 'It was worth the wait."

Judy nodded with agreement. "I was wrong, you know," she said.

"About what?" Roxanne asked.

"Maxum. Artie. You. I've never seen you happier."

"I've never been happier," Roxanne grinned.

"Me either," Judy smiled. "It's been so great having you back. I feel like we're kids again."

"You're looking good," Roxanne told her.

"I stopped feeling sorry for myself," Judy admitted. "I'm not drinking so much these days. You're dragging me to yoga and The Panther's Gym and I'm not eating a bag of potato chips everyday anymore. All because of you."

"I'm just The Jedi's sister, Judy," Roxanne remarked.

"You're so much more than that, Rox," Judy smirked. "Just ask Sir Arthur over there. He'll tell you."

Just then Artie looked at them from across the room and Judy gave him a friendly wave with a beaming smile.

Roxanne smiled happily. "I meant The Jedi's sister in a good way," she said.