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Going Under

Georgia Cates

Page 12


  What did I really even know about Jessie Boone? He came from Collinsville, which meant he was probably poor. If his prior address didn’t prove it, his junked out truck did. His family was probably uneducated, which meant they most likely didn’t encourage him to succeed. I bet he’d be the first person in his family to graduate from high school.

  And how could I be attracted to a smoker? I had always found it to be so nasty and skanky, but something about the way he held a cigarette between his thumb and index finger when he put it to the side of his full lips was so incredibly sexy. What was wrong with me? I wished he smelled like smoke because I could find that unappealing, but he didn’t. His fragrance was clean and masculine, yet woodsy, and it made me want to lean in closer for a deeper smell.

  It would be Gretchen enjoying the way he smelled tonight, not me. In fact, I was sure she would be wearing his fragrance all over her entire body before the night was over.

  Fourth period zoomed by and when the bell rang, I realized I had spent the entire class thinking about Jessie and how he would spend the evening with his date. I did the same thing in last period and when the bell rang, I practically ran to meet Payton at my locker.

  “Payton, are you ready to go?” I pleaded. “I really need to get out of here. ”

  She stood carelessly at her locker while I was dying. “I’m ready. Do you still need me to drive you by the dealership to pick up your car?”

  “Yeah, we’re using it for the music tonight at the bonfire. ”

  “Love it,” she sang. “That means we get to pick the music. ”

  I waited forever while Payton grabbed the things she needed from her locker and we walked to her car, meeting up with Jessie on the walk to her car.

  “Hey, Claire, will I be seeing you at the bonfire?” Jessie asked, with a smirk on his face, almost like he knew the anxiety he was causing me.

  I wanted to give him a simple reply, but just like the day we met, I felt the words forming on my tongue and I was powerless to control what rolled off next. “Well, I guess that all depends. ”

  “On what?” he laughed.

  “If you spend the whole night screwing Gretchen then you won’t see me at all, but if you only spend part of the night screwing her, then you might get to see me the free part of the night. ” The minute I started talking, I realized how jealous and rude I sounded, but it was too late because it was out there. Shit. I couldn’t even look at him now.

  “Have I done something wrong, Claire?” he asked, all innocent like.

  I shook my head and looked away from him as I regretfully answered, “No. You haven’t done anything wrong. ” And he hadn’t because we had no relationship and he didn’t have any type of obligation to me. He was free to be with whom ever he wanted and I wasn’t.

  “Like you said, I won’t see you if I decide to screw Gretchen all night, so in case I do that, let me tell you now to have a great time,” he antagonized. I wasn’t sure if he realized the effect of his words on me, but I strongly suspected he did and that’s why he was pushing me so hard.

  I couldn’t speak for fear I might vomit. He knew all the right buttons to push to make me furious, jealous and nauseated at the same time.

  Payton and I got in her car and she said, “Claire, he wants you to ask him to ditch Gretchen. It’s so obvious. ”

  She was so obsessed with the plan, but she failed to see the effect he had on me. I looked over at him waiting in his truck parked next to us. I wanted to get out and scream at him to not be with Gretchen tonight. When he looked at me, I knew he was waiting on me and all I had to do was say the words for him to dump her.

  I put my hand on the door handle nervously, but hesitated as my heart was beating out of my chest. If I walked over to him right now, I was a goner for sure because I was no longer thinking strategy.

  I closed my eyes and said, “Just go. ”

  “You’re blowing the plan, Claire. What is wrong with you?”

  I couldn’t open my eyes to look at him. “I just need you to get me out of here. Now. ”

  Payton couldn’t make heads nor tails of my reaction. I played it off like I got nervous about the plan because I was afraid he would see it on my face. I told her I still wanted to go through with it so I wouldn’t tip her off as to how I was really feeling.

  After I spent the afternoon on the edge of hysterics, I picked Payton up and drove toward Harrison’s, listening as she explained the change in our plan. “I’ve thought of a way to salvage the plan. If he’s going to the bonfire with Gretchen then he plans to get laid tonight, but I’ve come up with a plan to keep him from getting any action. I call it The Coitus Hiatus. ”

  Payton could be on to something. I liked the sound of that plan.

  “You get him to think about being with you by telling him that you’re into him but you need some time to think about the situation with Forbes. The Coitus Hiatus maneuver comes into play when you tell him that he can forget about anything between the two of you if he touches Gretchen’s slide to unlock button because you don’t do The Penivore’s leftovers. ”

  Damn, this girl was good, but there could be one flaw.

  “What if I don’t see him before he gets with Gretchen? That slut puppy is fast. ”

  “We’ll get there first, so you have to make sure you get to him before she has a chance to drop her panties. ”

  “I don’t mean to insult your skills of deception by asking, but can you keep Forbes occupied while I talk to him?” I asked.

  “Not a problem. I can keep Forbes and all of his pals tied up with the funnel for a while. In fact, I could probably get Forbes to funnel a few beers so you can be free the rest of the night if you want me to,” she suggested.

  Payton with a funnel and a crowd of guys was dangerous business because she had a way of getting guys to do anything she wanted. “I don’t need you to kill them with alcohol poisoning. Just keep them busy for a little while. ”

  “You know I can’t stand Forbes, so we’ll see, but it’s a fact that I can’t be charged with anything if he does it himself. Either way, I’ve got you covered,” she promised.

  “Thanks, I think. ”

  We were some of the first ones to arrive because we were in charge of the music and we saw that Harrison’s brother had come through with the kegs as promised and I didn’t know who was more pleased with the presence of alcohol-me or Forbes and Cooper.

  I looked around, but didn’t see Gretchen or Jessie and Payton said, “Relax, it’s still early. They won’t get here until a little later, so you’ve got plenty of time. ”

  “Got time for what?” Forbes asked as he came up from behind to wrap his arms around me. He leaned around and kissed my neck and I felt nothing exciting when he touched me. If I was being honest with myself, I never had. When we were apart, I didn’t long to be with him and that fact told me everything I needed to know about my relationship with him.

  I wondered what my parents would think if I broke up with Forbes. I hadn’t really dated other guys, so they had never had the opportunity to dislike anyone I chose for myself.

  Forbes handed a red plastic cup filled with beer my way. “Here, let’s get this party started. ”

  “It’s a little early to get started with the drinking, don’t you think? If we start now, we’ll be wasted before nine. ”

  He raised an eyebrow at me and said, “Precisely. ”

  It might not be a bad idea to get a little loosened up before Jessie got here to prevent myself from freaking out like I did earlier today, so I took the beer to calm my nerves a little.

  Forbes eyes lit up like he had hit the jackpot and said, “Now, that’s what I’m talking about. Check out my girl, Coop. I told you she wasn’t a princess. ”

  I felt my heart jump into my throat and I said, “Why did you call me that?”

  “Uh, I didn’t call you anything. In fact, I said you were not a
princess. There’s a big difference in calling you a princess and saying that you aren’t one. What’s the big deal about being called a princess anyway?”

  He put his cup to his mouth, taking a large gulp, and I realized it was only a coincidence that he had used Jessie’s nickname for me. “Nothing. Forget I said anything. ”

  “You’re being a little weird tonight. Does that mean you’re nervous about something?” he asked, clearly hopeful tonight would be the night he got what he wanted from me.

  He had no idea how nervous I was, but unfortunately for him, it had nothing to do with having sex with him like he planned. I was no fool. I knew pushing the beer on me was a ploy to hopefully loosen me up, then loosen my panties down.

  Jessie coming along didn’t really alter my feelings toward Forbes. I couldn’t remember a time when I ever felt like I was in love with him. He met everyone’s expectations for me, but I was sick of living my life for everyone else and their expectations. Tonight was the first night of the rest of my life. For the first time ever, I was choosing to make myself happy.

  13 Friday Night Lights


  Damn. Talk about a total let down. For a minute, I almost thought I had Claire ready to jump out of that car to tell me to ditch Gretchen. She looked so close, but then reality set in and her anti-slumming senses returned.

  Claire needed a gentle push in the right direction, or maybe a hard shove, and I was prepared to give that to her. It was probably wrong to use Gretchen in the process, but something told me that this wouldn’t be the first time she had been used and cast to the side. I wasn’t so sure she minded it all that much. In fact, I kind of wondered if she could be into the whole masochist thing.

  I arrived at eight, but not because I wanted to be on time for Gretchen. I wanted plenty of time to show Claire what she was missing by not being with me.

  I winced a little as I became aware that the luxury convertible parked in the middle of the field pumping out music belonged to Claire. Man, it was easier to feel a little bit more confident when I didn’t know she drove a car that cost more than the trailer I lived in.