Authors: Tellulah Darling
Tags: #young adult, #friendship, #love, #funny, #romantic comedy, #fiction, #sex, #teens, #male protagonist, #coming of age, #contemporary, #comedy
I resist the urge to hum as I get back into my new clothes. I keep the new bra on for a sassy flash of purple.
It’s not that I gave Sam a hard-on because I’m sure that the right gust of wind can do that. Although he was very sweet about Jeremy. Nope, it’s that I really am going to go out there and show that dinklord what he’s lost.
I exit in time to hear Jeremy say to Sam “When did she…?”
He trails off. The second time I’ve seen him at a loss for words. Except this time it’s because my ass is fine, not because he wants to dump it.
“Jeremy! How are you?”
They both spin at my cheerful voice. I sidle up to them, a bunch of colorful lingerie spilling from my fingers.
I thrust them into Sam’s arms so I can hug Jeremy.
“You know,” I say, ending the hug, “those first après breakup social run-ins can be so awkward. But this is just…”
I trail off because I’ve noticed Jeremy’s stare of confusion at me. Like I’ve been possessed by an alien.
I turn to Sam for help but he’s busy frowning at my lingerie.
“…Delightful,” I finish lamely.
I slide my arm through Sam’s. He jerks his head up. I’m not sure what his problem is but I’m not going to worry about it now when the upsetting of the ex is going so well.
“We’re all adults out shopping,” I continue. “Jeremy and Leslie. Me and Sam.” I squeeze his arm.
“You and Sam?” Jeremy repeats. “Are you two?”
I laugh. “I haven’t slept with Sam…”
The “yet” is heavily implied.
“Great chatting,” Sam mutters. He stuffs the lingerie back into my arms and strides briskly toward the cashier.
I give Jeremy a little wave over my shoulder and catch up quickly.
“Smoking hot and avenged,” I whisper happily.
“Excellent,” he says in the opposite tone of voice.
I refuse to let his mood get to me. I’m really happy with my makeover and I guess it’s pretty obvious because when I get home later, my mom takes one look at me and practically bursts into tears.
“Oh. My baby. Look at you.”
“Um, thanks, Mom.” I’m torn between major embarrassment and childish delight that my mom likes it too.
“You’re so happy. I’ve been so worried about you moping around after that stupid Jeremy. And now…” she sighs, a smile on her face.
“But what about how I look?” Yes. I’m fishing.
“Hon, you look gorgeous.”
I perk up.
“I mean you always look beautiful to me.”
“But now, I feel like you’re just shining through in your beauty.” She plants a big kiss on my head.
I know I’m not supposed to care what she thinks. But I do. Mostly.
I give her a hug. “Well, I couldn’t have done it without you and the good people at MasterCard.” I return the credit card she so generously gave me.
She looks like she might cry again so I quickly say, “Want to see what I bought?”
We take my packages upstairs and I try on my new armor for the chasing of boys.
The next day, after a brief stop at Rachel’s so she and Ian can admire my new look, Sam and I head to the
Great Paragliding Pair Up
It’s mostly college students but there are a handful of high schoolers like us there to go paragliding. Well, I am. Sam’s feet do not leave the ground. The boy has an awful fear of flying.
Sam zips his jacket up tighter against the wind on the hill and motions around us. “This is the perfect environment for you. First, you’re a paragliding fiend so you’re already in your element. Yes?”
“Yeah,” I reply doubtfully.
“Second,” he continues, “the point of this is for singles to get to know each other. There’s context. I know you like context.”
“Very good, Sam. But now that I have my extreme good looks, which proved so effective on Jer, I can just run with any natural conversations that get struck up.”
“Terrible idea. Just for you, as a special limited time offer, I’m going to share the Sam Cruz patented
Three Step Guide to Backseat Success
“I am not having sex in a car.”
“Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.” He leers at me with a wink.
I roll my eyes.
“Besides, that’s just the catchy product label. It’s guaranteed to work anywhere.”
“I do not want sex in a box, I do not want sex with a fox…” I begin, then frown. “Maybe the fox. Of the human variety.”
“You do want sex here and there, you do want sex everywhere,” Sam concludes.
“Funny,” I concede. “Gimme the steps.”
“One at a time. First up is the Falco Dax.”
“Huh? Didn’t you have a dog called Falco?” Then it hits me. “That’s your porn name. There is a difference between dominant empowerment and porn star.”
“It’s not porn. It’s step one. Falco Dax is the guy to channel. The ultimate charmer who walks into a place and knows he’s shit hot. He’s confident. He owns it. He’s sex on a stick. And he can get anyone.”
Sam fixes me in his gaze. “Open up your mind and channel Falco.”
A sandy-haired guy with a freckled cuteness smiles a hello. Sam subtly motions for me to talk to him, mouthing “Falco” at me.
“He might have been smiling at you, you know,” I point out, but Sam crosses his arms, shutting down the suggestion.
I’m nothing if not a diligent student so I attempt my assignment, putting a swagger in my step as I walk.
Sam stops me with his hand on my shoulder. “Falco is not some goombah who needs to adjust his junk. Now take it up a serious notch here. Be cool.”
He demonstrates an easy-limbed stride that actually does seem pretty confident.
“Like this?” I start my walk.
“That’s a penguin.”
I adjust my stride.
One more try.
“Use your hips, woman. You’re lurching from side to side.”
I stop dead. “You’re stressing me out.”
“House or wild?”
“Jungle,” he says exasperated. “Go Falco while the sun shines.”
Cutie smiles again at my jungle cat approach. I hope he’s smiling with me, not at me.
“First time single, long time glider?” I ask. It’s the best I can do.
“Sadly,” he replies, “long time single too.”
I take note of his T-shirt visible under his open jacket, featuring Calvin and Hobbes as Han Solo and Chewbacca.
“Great shirt,” I state. “Except as sidekicks go, Hobbes in his natural state is a billion times cooler than Chewie.”
He frowns and looks down at the image.
Test. He thinks
is: a) okay, b) the greatest film ever made or c) not a tale but the guiding truth. If B or C, then even for casual hooking up, I’d have to cross him off the list. Between the guys in my honors classes and those in the environmental movement, I’ve had that film shoved down my throat more times than I can stomach. There’s not enough sex appeal in the world that can overcome that obsession for me.
He grins. “I agree, but Calvin’s just a kid so we gotta cut him some slack for his fantasies.”
Passed with flying colors.
And just like that, we’re having a conversation. It’s fun. And yes, even a little flirty.
I see that predictably Sam has found a willowy redhead, but I’m happy for us both.
The next half hour passes really quickly. Marcus, my
Calvin and Hobbes
guy and I are having an awesome time. I don’t remember talking this much in forever. It makes me realize how much Jeremy dominated everything.
I expound upon my current point. “It’s a basic signal of attraction. The female tosses her hair, allowing her to expose her armpit and releasing pheromones. That draws her prospective mate in.”
“Uh… That’s complicated,” Marcus says.
“Not really. See what happens is—”
“Back in a second, okay? I’ve got to check something.”
He takes off. Sam arrives.
“What did you do to him?”
“Nothing. We were talking.”
“You were lecturing,” Sam admonishes. “Poor guy looked like there was going to be a quiz. You completely intimidated him.”
“Did you flirt at all? Did you embody Falco?”
Sam looks doubtful.
“I encouraged him to talk about himself. I laughed at his jokes.”
“But for the other twenty-eight minutes?”
To my total shock, I see Marcus walking with some petite brunette. He says something to her. She looks at me and as she passes says “Wow. She sounds really smart.”
Said as if I have leprosy and punctuated with a giggle.
Fuck me. It’s happened again. Here I thought I was the lead object of desirability but I got blindsided by a midget who wriggles her nose when she talks. Probably to access brain function.
“This isn’t going to work,” I tell Sam.
“Fine. Cave. Pretty sucky scientist to bail as soon as results aren’t as expected.”
“Like I’ll fall for your pathetic attempt at reverse psychology.”
“Okay. You’re a big chicken.”
He clucks at me. “You can stick to your comfort zone and dry up till your enchanted garden shrivels from drought or stick with me and have girls like her dying of envy.”
I hear the brunette giggle again. I won’t lie. It grates like nails on a chalkboard. “Promise?”
“Swear. Go do your crazy pretend you’re a bird thing. You’ll feel better.”
The redhead arrives. She places her arm on Sam and smiles warmly at me. Oh man. What did he tell this one?
“I hope you don’t mind if I steal your brother.”
Brother? “He’s all yours.”
“It’s sweet how worried he is about you after your breakup.”
Pimping my tragedy for a hook up? Sam knows I’m going to kill him, but he also knows that I won’t bust him so he’s looking pretty smug.
“Sam’s the best. And I’m so glad he has someone to take him through his first flight.”
“Flight?” Sam looks green just talking about it. “Uh. No. I don’t paraglide. I just came to support Ally.”
The redhead claps her hands in delight. “A first timer.”
“Total virgin,” I say sweetly. This entire conversation is cheering me up.
Sam glares at me. “Thanks but no thanks.”
Redhead squeezes his hand. “I promise to take very good care of you. I’ll be gentle.”
Sam grins. And that’s the moment I know he is totally screwed. Because a lifetime of habit kicks in and he can’t resist her.
“I’m sure you will,” he says, allowing himself to be led off.
It’s cruel but I have to watch.
Maybe I won’t be the one with the worst afternoon. Fingers crossed.
I’m vaguely aware of Alicia clipping something onto me, but mostly all I can feel are her hands running over my chest.
Our flirting is so blatant, I’m surprised Ally doesn’t feel like a voyeur, watching us from her nearby viewing point.
Alicia places her head on my shoulder. “Feel good?”
I lean back, putting our bodies in contact. “Excellent.”
“Great. Now, all you have to do is run down this slope, take off, and fly.”
Huh. She wasn’t just saucily feeling me up. It hits me that I’m now harnessed into a tandem paraglider in front of her. That chilling realization must mean…
I finally, truly look at the view in front of me, dropping off sharply into nothingness. I go pale as I realize that there is only a few feet of land between me and the blue void.
I’m going to spew.
“Gorgeous,” Ally sighs happily.
I shoot her an “are you stupid?” look. It’s my worst nightmare.
“Wait. We’re really going to? No. I don’t think so.”
“Count of three,” Alicia says briskly. “One, two—”
I blackout before she hits “three”.
Later at the bowling alley, I mimic the crunching of Alicia’s wrist to a highly amused Rachel and Ian, who sport matching vintage bowling shirts.
“Apparently, I landed full-on dead weight on top of her wrist and broke it,” I explain.
“That’s when the ambulance arrived,” Ally adds unhelpfully.
“You’re loving this, aren’t you?” I ask her.
She beams at me. “He was out cold at that point.”
“I, for one, am impressed with Sam’s dedication to the pursuit of shagging. Going so far he’d jump off a cliff,” Ian teases.
“No, honey,” Rach corrects him. “The real strategy was to faint, causing bodily harm to this poor girl who he could then nurse back to health. Sam, you are a twisted genius.”
“Finished busting my balls? I was a helpless victim hypnotized by her hot looks.”
“You’re a big boy,” Rachel scolds. “You could have used your words.”
“He just wanted to chat up the scrummy girl,” Ian agrees.
“At least no one giggled at you,” Ally says. She’s still sensitive about the brunette.
“No, they were too busy filming me for YouTube,” I shoot back.
Looking back, it was kind of ridiculous how far I let this go. What can I say? Me dog. Her female.
I eye the ten-pin formation at the end of the lane, then heft my bowling ball, racing forward on my tiptoes like Fred Flintstone. I let the ball fly.
“Sti-rike!” I call out in my best Fred voice.
The ball rolls into the gutter. I pretend to pout.
Ally shoots me a consoling smile. “Your optimism is adorable, but face it. Flintstone physics don’t work in our world.”
“Ye of little faith. One day I’ll do it and who’ll be laughing then?”
Rachel gets up to take her turn. Probably the only girl who bowls in a pencil skirt, but she manages to make that whole Vegas Rat Pack vibe work for her, so what the hell. She lets her ball go just as a giggling bunch of six-year-olds traipse by.
I recognize their chaperone. Nikki: a freshman drama major who’s elevated looking hot to an art form. Also one of the rare exceptions to the “want more” rule.
With Nikki, I barely got my pants on before the lights were on and the door open, awaiting my exit. Bless her.
“Wow.” Ian has seen Nikki.
“Where?” Rachel cranes her head. “Ah.”
“That’s allowed?” I may have to give Rachel more credit.
“Sure,” she says. “If looking is a threat, the relationship has other problems.
“Huh.” Then it occurs to me. “Nikki is perfect for our first lesson.”
“I thought paragliding was our first lesson,” Ally says.
“Yes, but you failed it. Nikki is Falco personified.”
“Are you speaking English?” Ian asks me.
I ignore him to speak to Ally. “Watch and model your behavior on hers.”
I head toward Nikki with the others following at a discreet distance.
I catch up with her at the snack counter. Ally, Rachel, and Ian pretend to scan the vast choices of soggy nachos and chocolate to cover their shameless eavesdropping.
I just hope Ally doesn’t pull out a notebook. Not out of the realm of possibility.
I put my hand on Nikki’s arm. “Nikki. How are you, sexy?”
She gives me a total cocktease smile and my body responds.
“Sam Cruz,” she purrs in a throaty voice. “Been a while. But I’m very good.”
Judging by the blood rushing away from my head, yes, she is.
“Glad to hear it,” I reply. “I was thinking we should get together, but you have a bad habit of blowing people off.”
“Only the deserving,” she says.
“Good things come to those who wait?” I ask cheekily.
“Baby,” she murmurs, “it’s gonna be like Christmas.”
“Aunt Nikki,” a high-pitched voice pipes up, “why does he get Christmas early?”
We look down at the scruffy kid tugging on Nikki, a pair of knotted bowling shoes in her hand.
“I’m really, really good,” I explain to the little girl.
Nikki just laughs. She unties the shoes and hands them back to her niece.
The girl turns to me. “You like presents? I rip mine open.”
I keep my tone rated G but my answer is an R for Nikki. “I unwrap them slowly.”
“I hope there’s a little sumthin’ under the tree for me,” Nikki responds, totally getting it.
“Why?” the kid demands. “You haven’t been good. You’ve been mean all day.”
Nikki turns the girl around toward her lane. “Shoes. Now.”
The girl scowls at her, but seeing the look on Nikki’s face, leaves.
I wait until the kid is gone before adding “I’m a firm believer in the spirit of giving.”
“Even if I’ve been naughty?” Nikki asks.
“Especially if you’ve been naughty.”
Nikki rewards me with a very feline grin.
It’s so on.