Authors: Tellulah Darling
Tags: #young adult, #friendship, #love, #funny, #romantic comedy, #fiction, #sex, #teens, #male protagonist, #coming of age, #contemporary, #comedy
Ian looks impressed. “Cracking.”
“A stellar performance on both sides,” Rachel agrees.
I glance over at Sam and Nikki, my lesson clearly forgotten in their hormone parade. “You think they have DVDs?”
Surprisingly, Sam does return to us. I’m guessing Nikki is busy with the rugrats that evening but has promised him future delights since he seems pretty pleased with himself, whistling cheerfully.
The four of us make a quick stop for cat food because apparently Sam really does have a cat, then head to my place to hang out and watch a movie.
Mom is racing around transferring items from her daytime purse to her nighttime one because she’s meeting Dad downtown for a date.
“Don’t eat me out of house and home,” she scolds cheerfully.
“Aunt Elise, got any diet root beer?” asks Rachel.
“Check the laundry room. It’s not cold though.”
“Got it.” Rach makes a quick trip off the kitchen to the laundry room for her diet caffeine fix.
Mom shakes her head at Sam drinking straight out of the juice container. “Glass, Sam. Now. You know better.”
He stops mid-chug and looks up guiltily. “I was going to finish it.”
“Not cool, kiddo. What were you, raised by wolves?”
“Yeah, you. Foxy lady.”
“Ewww!” I groan loudly.
Mom thinks it’s hilarious. “You’ll be glad when you look as good as I do one day,” she tells me. “Now play nicely and have fun. I’m off to get my husband drunk and have my way with him.”
“Moooom!” I’m horrified.
Mom grins. “That never gets old. Bye kids.”
I rock in the fetal position for a bit.
Rachel returns with some pop cans. “Oh grow up. Be glad you got the sister you did for your mom. At least she’s got a sense of humor. Mine could make lemonade with that sour face of hers,” Rachel complains.
She has a point.
“No dissing Elise.” Sam is really protective of my mom. I know he’s thinking that I should feel lucky I have her. And I do. I just don’t want to know about her and Dad’s sex life. I prefer to think I was a result of In Vitro. A miracle of science.
“Have fun with Nikki earlier?” I ask Sam.
“She’s a fun girl,” he retorts. “Enough with the chit chat. Show me what you got.” He rips open a bag of chips, his eyes on me.
I take a deep breath and shake out all my tension. Everyone watches. It’s almost comical.
“Here goes.” I smile mysteriously at Sam.
He nods in approval. “Nice. Good start.”
“Mmm, not where I’d go, but alright,” he mutters through a mouthful.
“Could work,” Ian offers.
I keep winking, aware that I must look like I’m caught in a spastic loop but I can’t stop. There’s dirt in my eye or something and it’s driving me mad.
I scrunch up my face and sharply shake my head, hoping that might help dislodge it. Damn contacts.
Sam freezes in mid-reach for more chips. “Quit it, you’re freaking me out.”
“Oh good,” Rachel adds. “It’s not just me.” She takes the bag from Sam and dumps the rest of the chips into a bowl for all to share.
I want to tell them to shut up. That I’m not a total psycho, it’s just that I’ve got what feels like a nail grinding into my eyeball.
“There’s. Something. In. My. Eye.” I manage to grit out.
I jab my finger into my eye and rub it around. Sweet relief. It’s gone.
I blink at Sam.
“Your eye looks a bit dodgy,” Ian offers, snagging Rachel’s diet pop.
“Because it’s the size of a golf ball and red?” Sam replies.
“Focus,” I order. I concentrate, holding a picture of Falco in my mind. “You know. I think maybe the problem is that Falco needs to be a she.”
Sam looks aghast but I revamp my vision.
“Much better. I can be Falca no problem.”
“No. You cannot call her Falca,” Sam insists. “You’re killing me.”
“What the hell are they on about?” Rachel mumbles to Ian.
“You’re right. I can’t.” I let Sam have his moment of relief before destroying it with relish.
“Falcalita. Latinas are uber sexy.”
And this Falcalita is going to need a bold move to wipe the memory of the eyeball away.
Aha! I lean forward, stroking my cleavage. It’s perhaps not as smooth a motion as I’d like, but I feel it does convey the general idea. Trampy come hither.
“I’m so hot,” I breathe.
Sam, Rachel, and Ian trade alarmed looks.
“Are you having an allergic reaction?” Sam asks.
I slam my hand down on the counter. “I’m flirting!”
“I’ll get an antihistamine,” Rachel offers, opening cupboards to look for medication.
“New tactic,” Sam says.
“With bullet points? Maybe graphs?” I ask hopefully. Improv is evidently not my strong suit and if I’m to have any hope of becoming hot stuff, I need specifics. Lots of them.
“Since I’m not sure I want to know what kind of graphs Sam could possibly come up with on this subject,” Rachel begins, “Ian and I will go pick something off Netflix for us to watch.”
“I’m fascinated,” Ian protests.
Rachel whispers something in his ear.
“Take your time,” he assures us and follows her with a stupid grin on his face.
Sam watches them go. “Think I might skip the film,” he says.
“Yeah. Me too. So?”
“I guess I could give you a breakdown on step two,” he suggests in a doubtful tone.
“With detailed explanations?”
“You sure you can’t just go with the flow?”
I look at him like he’s stupid.
Sam caves. “Yes. With detailed explanations.”
School the next day is great. I’m the bright, shiny new toy of interest in the hallways due to my makeover.
Jack, head meathead of the football team, holds the front door of the school open for me while totally checking me out.
The guys in my honor classes are tongue-tied. Even Max, Jeremy’s douchebag best friend, is awkward around me, instead of mean.
The power has shifted.
I. Love. It.
We honors kids have our classes pretty concentrated up in this one wing on the second floor. We’re even on our own lunch schedule, which means Sam and I don’t see a lot of each other at school.
It also means that Sam hasn’t seen me yet in this particular outfit, which on a scale of one to ten puts me at a fourteen with its amazing cleavage showingoffness. So I’m excited to meet up with him at Delish Dish after classes.
Behind the counter, Matt chats with Rosie, a feisty senior and regular patron.
He glances at me as I enter, slide off my coat, and head for our usual booth. Sam is there, texting.
“Doesn’t Ally look lovely, Rosie?” Matt asks.
Vic, an elderly curmudgeon, and another regular, pipes up from the booth next to ours. “She looks damn sexy.”
“Quit it, guys. I’m blushing.”
I grin at Sam, who has glanced up as I slide into the booth. He just stares at me, grim.
“I didn’t see you buy that one.”
“No. Rach went back with me later to add a couple more things. Don’t like it?”
“They’re clothes.” He shrugs in a “whatever” way.
“Glad I’m not trying to impress you. Everyone else seemed to love it.”
“Goody for them,” he mutters and shifts in his seat, like he’s pinched his testicles in his underwear.
I throw an exaggerated leer his way. “What’s next? Wild animal sex?”
Not even a smile.
“You can do better,” Matt says, frowning at Sam as he deposits two coffees on our table.
“Not Sam. Someone else. I am a modern woman owning my sexuality.”
Rosie swings around on her stool. “Make sure he gives you an orgasm,” she orders.
“Do all you old people have your hearing aids turned to eleven?” Sam fumes. “This is a private conversation.”
I smile in apology for his appallingly bad manners but Sam stares pointedly until they turn away.
“Fries, Matt,” he grumbles.
“Please,” I correct.
“Please,” he repeats.
“Me too, please,” I add, glowering at Sam for his general assholishness which is definitely unlike him. He doesn’t respond.
Fine. “What about that breakdown?” Maybe I can distract him back into a good mood. “What’s step two?”
“The Grover Bailey.”
“You mean the Abra Renfrew,” I reply. “I want a girl.”
Abra was the name of my favorite cat so I figure Sam won’t bother fighting it.
“And Abra Renfrew is who?” I ask for clarification.
“The kitten with a whip,” Sam replies smoothly.
“I like that, but it sounds somewhat vague. Elaborate.”
“Abra Renfrew is the sister who controls the play. Once she’s owned both her own sweet self and wherever she happens to be, she then uses every situation to her advantage. There is nothing she can’t make work.”
I frown. “That doesn’t sound very scientific.”
“No shit, Sherlock, since it’s not a result of a five-year intensive study.”
I motion for him to continue. “Commence breaking down.”
“Recognition, disinterest, come hither, flirtation, and invitation.”
“This oughta be good,” Vic chuckles.
“Go on,” Rosie says.
I try not to laugh out loud at their blatant nosiness because I know it’ll irritate Sam more, but come on. It’s funny.
Under the weight of everyone’s stares, Sam reluctantly starts.
“‘Recognition.’ Brief eye contact. Slight smile. Let him know you’re aware of him. Followed by ‘disinterest.’ You. Don’t. Care.”
“So being friendly?” I ask.
“Absolutely not. You are the million-dollar jackpot, not some cheap carny prize. Act accordingly.”
“Aloof and desirable,” I affirm.
“Well, you know. Desirable is a relative term. Leaving a lot to the imagination can be desirable. Wearing a turtleneck. A long dress.”
“I always did like a glimpse of a well-turned ankle,” Vic offers.
“You also liked it when women couldn’t vote. ‘Come hither?’ Sam?” Rosie prompts. She glances at him with fond amusement. “Don’t leave us hanging,” she says. “This is fascinating.”
Sam looks like he’s about to give her the finger but instead mimes tossing his hair. He shoots a sly sideways glance at me.
Okay, that’s kinda hot.
Matt comes out with our fries in time to catch it. “Do that again, baby,” he says. “I get all shivery.”
“First time it’s free,” Sam replies. “Second time you gotta pay and you can’t afford me.”
Matt looks mock insulted.
“‘Flirtation,’” Sam continues. “Now you may speak. But only about superficial and preferably sexually innuendoed topics. Nothing you’re actually interested in.”
“So don’t be me,” I mutter, dousing my fries in ketchup.
“Crazy, right?” Sam steals the ketchup away. “So, really, why would you want to do this? You have a great personality and you should let it shine. Dazzle them with all those fun animal facts at your fingertips.”
Enough is enough.
“Sam,” I say sternly.
“Don’t be you,” he agrees, sounding resigned. “This isn’t a meaningful connection of the minds, if you get what I mean.”
“A child would get what you mean. ‘Invitation?’”
“Get up and leave, but throw a look over your shoulder,” Matt offers.
Sam nods. “That works. Anything that gets you out of there. And remember, you can always leave alone. There’s no shame in a nice quiet evening.”
“You got written copies?” asks Vic. “I could use it for Bingo night.”
“Unless it comes with a map and detailed technical instructions, it wouldn’t help you, you old coot,” Rosie tells him.
Vic scowls and turns away.
“That sounds like fun, Ally,” Rosie tells me.
I nod, enthusiastic.
Sam is tight-lipped. Seems the veritable master is having issues with his creation.
Too. Freaking. Bad.
Abra Renfrew is in the house.
Ally looks off-the-charts hot and it’s killing me. Death by blue balls.
I’d gotten cocky about my mental well-being where she was concerned after that initial makeover shock. At paragliding she was hidden under a helmet and layers of warm fleece. Afterward, I had my hookups with Alicia and Nikki to distract me. And Ally’s “show me what you got” disaster set her back several stages in the hot race.
But today? In that top?
I can’t get home to take a cold shower fast enough.
I race down the hallway and collide with some woman coming out of our bathroom. Wearing the same top as Ally. And while she stretches it out a hell of a lot more, she doesn’t look half as good in it.
“You must totally be Greg’s son,” she beams at me. “I’m Alexa.”
“Hey. I’m Sam.”
Not bad, Dad. Obviously she’s my dad’s latest “girlfriend.” Since they only tend to last a couple dates, the quotes are a must.
Alexa has blond hair, blue eyes, big tits. My dad’s standard. And if she’s like the rest, she’s probably in her late twenties, which is pretty good for my forty-five-year-old dad.
“Sam.” My dad comes out of his bedroom, shrugging into his jacket. He’s got dark hair and blue eyes and is always laughing. Ladies love him.
Dad slings an arm around me. “Alexa, you met my boy?”
“He’s like a mini you.”
Now all I can picture is Mini Me from
. Not a great look.
“The kid is a rock star with the girls.”
I step away from my dad. This is just awkward. For him mostly. “Okay, Pops. Run along.”
Dad grins at me. He knows what I’m thinking. Then he points at me. “Really proud of this guy.”
“You should be.” Alexa takes Dad’s arm, “accidentally” managing to press her chest against him. “He’s a cute one.”
“Well. Homework to do. Nice meeting you,” I tell Alexa.
With a jaunty salute my way, Dad and Blondie leave.
Got to hand it to him. The guy’s still got it.
Of course thinking about Dad and Alexa makes me think once more about Ally in that top and, abracadabra, I’m hard again.
I sigh and go take that cold shower.
An hour later, Ian is over and we’re attempting to make dinner with whatever we find in the kitchen.
I’m filling Ian in on what happened with Ally, which is complicated by the fact that he’s being a pussy and keeping his hands over his ears.
“Like a sister, mate,” Ian says. “Don’t want to hear this.”
I hand him a chopping knife, forcing him to lower his hands. “How do you think I feel? I’m not supposed to get hard over her. It’s Ally. My best friend since forever. She’s not even a girl to me.”
“Apparently she is,” Ian shoots back, slicing cheese for the grilling of bread.
I get the mustard out of the fridge. “I feel like the creepy relative. There I was with one of the most raging—”
“Hey, Uncle Bad Touch. Shut it, already. Don’t want to know.”
“Over and over again,” I groan. “Is this gonna happen every time I help her score guys? I’m gonna get turned on myself? I can’t go there.”
Ian shrugs. “Tell her she’s on her own.”
I throw some butter in a heated pan and watch it sizzle, thoughtful. “She’s not ready to be on her own. All of this remains theoretical.”
“Except the hot part,” Ian adds unhelpfully.
“Yeah. Thanks.” I stick the sandwiches in the pan. “Except that. Alright. Here’s the plan. She’ll get her first success and then I don’t have to be around that part of her. She can go back to being regular Ally for me.”
“She better. I have a knife and I’m not afraid to let Rachel use it,” Ian says, pointing it toward my groin.
“If she doesn’t, I’ll use the damn thing on myself.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled Ally cleaned up so well. But my entire life, I’ve sorted girls into two different categories: chicks I wanted to hook up with (the urges started young) and females that were just friends or teachers or people’s moms or whatever.
And it has nothing to do with looks. I’ve slept with girls who wouldn’t be considered conventionally pretty but who had a spark. Maybe they had a great laugh or sexy walk, but whatever it was, there was an instant attraction.
Then there was Ally. More than just a friend. The friend. I couldn’t remember her not being in my life and I couldn’t see my life without her. She just is. A category all on her own.
So suddenly seeing her as not just female but spark-worthy is head tripping me big time. I don’t want to sleep with her, because first and foremost she is still Ally, but my brain is identifying her as a female I
want to sleep with.
You can see how it can mess with a guy’s mind.
It’s like realizing your parents have sex. You love them as your parents but you sure as hell don’t need to think of them getting it on. Certain categories are supposed to be set in stone.
“Sam!” Ian’s sharp call brings me back in time to save our sandwiches from burning.
The kitten, who I kept because I couldn’t risk her being put down if I took her to an animal shelter, jumps on the counter.
“There really was a cat,” Ian muses.
I snap my fingers. “Attila, down.”
Instead, she licks a corner of one sandwich.
“That’s yours,” Ian says, grossed out.
“You think?” I reply, setting the plate on the floor.
“Are cats supposed to eat that?” he asks.
I shrug. “No idea. This is new territory for me.” I look at Attila, happily nibbling away at the grilled cheese, and pull out two slices of bread for my new sandwich. “As long as everyone’s happy, I can’t see the problem.”
After dinner, I ask Ian if he wants to go out. There’s always some kind of party happening in a rented club or warehouse.
But he’d rather be with Rachel, so I call Ally up and tell her to get dressed. No time like the present to kick that little bird out of the nest and let her fly. Or at least master controlling it. Get one step closer to the end of the insanity.
I head for this nondescript building that used to be a rave staple. The glow stick bunnies and oxygen-huffing boys have moved on but the space has kept the great DJ’s and lack of a liquor license.
Outside, musclehead bouncers get off on deciding which teen gets let into the skanky box and who has to wait like a nobody.
Of course I get in, no problem. I’d like to think it’s because of my cool charm that will pull girls into the club like a magnet, but the free movie vouchers I give the bouncer occasionally probably help.
The techno music is loud and bass-heavy but only a few people are dancing. More are chatting or, more specifically, scoping each other out, because the night is young. And the crowd is horny.
Ally has texted me that she’s already inside. I figure it’s a good sign she got in on her own, because her old look would have had her waiting outside until she froze. I scope the room out for her.
Whoa. Where did she get that dress? It’s red and there isn’t very much of it. I see Rachel written all over the thing and curse her for getting involved.
Ally is perched unsteadily on a high stool at a small table, legs crossed, which look about ten miles long in her heels.
I take a deep swig of Coke then hold it up to her as a sort of cheers.
She smiles and waves enthusiastically.
Take two. I shake my head and make my way over to her table, weaving through a giant clique of girls who have just started dancing.
I escape with only minor jostles and get to her, only to find to my shock and dismay that Etienne is there, chatting her up.
I have no problem interrupting. “You’re not supposed to wave,” I tell her. “You need the definition of ‘disinterest’ tattooed on you?”
Ally makes a dismissive gesture, sure of herself as usual. “In my opinion, coy yet approachable will work better than disinterested.”
“First, that wasn’t coy,” I tell her “and second, when you become the expert on pulling the opposite sex, we can try it your way.”
I face Etienne. “What are you doing here?”
He shrugs. “I called your house. Your father said where you were. This is your friend, Ally?”
He sounds genuinely surprised and I realize they’ve never actually met. “Ally, Etienne. There. Now bye-bye.”
Big shocker, he ignores me. “She is loveliness incarnate. Why do you always speak of your friend “old” Ally? Sam, you are really a douche.”
“‘Old?’” Ally asks. “Is this how you get women? You insult them and they fall to your feet in a masochistic heap?”
“The roofies help,” Etienne adds.
I elbow him sharply. “‘Old friend,’ asshole. Not old. Etienne has a tenuous grip on the language,” I explain to Ally. “And reality.”
“Allow me to buy you a drink,” Etienne charms. “Better yet…” He pulls a flask from his jacket and uncaps it.
“That’s so sweet.”
I can’t believe her. I shoot her an incredulous glance and she gives me a “what?” shrug. I guess she’s trying to stay with the program.
“No,” I say. “It’s disruptive.” Could he be more annoying right now?
“Tequila?” Etienne motions at the flask. “The worm is especially potent.”
“Actually,” Ally says, “that’s a myth. It would violate all kinds of laws in Mexico if there were really worms.”
“I had one once,” Etienne disagrees.
“No. What you probably had was a butterfly larva found in some types of Oaxacan Mezcal. The worm in Mezcal isn’t even a traditional element in—”
“Fascinating,” I cut in. “Now try again. Like you actually mean it.”
“I mean it,” she protests.
“Because nothing says do me like ‘I’ve had worms.’”
Ally turns to Etienne, only to find him scoping out her chest.
“Hello. My eyes are up here.”
“I’m aware,” he replies.
“The only interesting and environmentally appropriate trivia,” I continue bringing her back on topic, “is the many ways Tab B fits into Slot A.”
She ignores me some more. Doesn’t matter. If she keeps going like this, she’ll lose him soon enough and then we can focus.
Ally snaps her fingers under Etienne’s nose. He finally looks up.
“There. That wasn’t so hard was it?” She plasters on a fake smile that still makes her look annoyed.
Etienne shoots me a glance. “She’s kidding, right?”
I shake my head. “Nope.”
Etienne looks appalled. Some blond in a purple tutu passes by and smiles at Etienne. He follows her.
“Son of a bitch,” Ally swears. “Fine. What now?”
“You scared off a Frenchman. I’m stymied.”
She stares at me skeptically then points out an average-looking guy flailing around in a sad approximation of dancing. “Maybe I could start lower on the food chain.”
“Your first time as ‘evolved owning your sexuality’ Ally does not involve bottom feeding. Nor does it involve accessing your inner Bill Nye.”
Ally sticks her tongue out at me then surveys the room.
We see an uptight girl chat up some sour-looking Republican who looks bored and a ditzy looking trendazoid staring wide-eyed up at two frat boys, who seem to be doing all the talking. She touches them a lot and they’re falling over themselves to impress her.
Neither approach is right for Ally, in my opinion, but she needs to figure some of this out on her own, so I leave her to her own devices and head back to the bar area to get a refill.
Coke in hand, I sweep through the room like I own the place.
Given the flirty looks shot at me by girls, I do.
As I recognize some faces, I realize that not everyone here is a high school senior. There is, in fact, a pretty good representation of my favorite college delights.
Before I can pick out which morsel to go for, I accidentally bump into a pixie-like girl.
“Sam,” she says, surprised.
Shit. “Hey gorgeous,” I cover, having no clue what her name is. “Good to see you again.”
I lean in and kiss her cheek.
“You too,” she replies. “I haven’t seen you since…”
She waits for me to finish. She’s good.
But I’m better.
I whip out my phone. “Hang on. My fat fingers mangle the keyboard but I’m not letting you leave without getting your info.”
I hand her the phone. She reluctantly takes it and starts entering her contact info.
“How’s school going?” I keep the small talk going long enough for her to enter her name and number.
“Great, actually. I made the Dean’s list.”
“You totally deserve it.” I take the phone back and surreptitiously glance at it.
“You know, Hannah,” I continue, “you’ve done something different since I last saw you.” I check her out. “Hair?”
She touches her hair. “Um, it’s shorter now.”
Hair. Always a safe bet. “It looks great,” I assure her.
She looks at me oddly and I can tell she’s confused about whether I really remember her. Which I don’t, but why upset her.
“I almost didn’t…” I trail off at the sight of Ally, throwing me a totally sexy grin. Huh?
“…Recognize…” I try to focus but lose it again as Ally twirls her hair and blinks adorably before looking away.