Unraveled, p.16
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       Unraveled, p.16

         Part #3 of Woodlands series by Jen Frederick
Page 16


  I drove over to my parents’ house and walked into the kitchen by way of the garage, ignoring the stepladder that leaned up against one of the garage walls. Too short, I told myself. Wouldn’t reach to the top of the green felt. Adam’s house had a pool and he’d invited the staff at Gatsby’s to come several times but I’d always turned him down. I was going to pull out a swimsuit and take him up on that standing offer to swim.

  Upstairs I looked at my sparsely populated closet. I had my sketchy overall shorts that Bitsy had decreed would make a farmer embarrassed, a few skirts, and a couple of pairs of jeans. I pulled out a skirt—the short circle skirt that Bitsy had wanted me to wear to lunch with Carolyn and David. I remembered wearing it during a summer festival when Will had come home from Basic and before he took off to Alaska to jump out of planes onto mountains. Wed stayed out downtown all night drinking surreptitiously from beverages Tucker had bought for us. Will and Id gone out to the reservoir, where wed made love in his car. It was one of the better sexual experiences Id had with him. I was excited he was home, so excited that I didnt care what we sounded like or that we were doing it in a car and that there were other cars parked up there doing the same exact thing.

  Of course that was before the cops came and told us all to go home. Thats when Will said we should just get married and that I could move to Alaska with him and then we wouldnt have to "fuck in a goddamn car. " Wills mouth had turned filthy at Basic. I told him that wasnt going to happen. I was going to Central in the fall and would stay with my parents. Will huffed and wed argued and then hed gone to Alaska. I visited him a couple of times and each time, he begged me to marry him. When he got the call to go to Afghanistan, I called him right away and told him to come home and that Id marry him. I think Id half hoped that if we got married he would magically not deploy, but that didnt happen. Id waited too long and wasted so much time here, and for nothing. I’d dropped out of Central when he died, and all Ive been doing since is marking time. Like knitting one never-ending chain and never tying off.

  Id never had to suffer the indignities of wondering if some guy liked me because Will had always liked me, so the feelings of uncertainty I had with Gray were new. In some weird way, I liked that. Besides, I wasnt going over to Adams house to see Gray. No, I was going to see if I could borrow a ladder. And should Gray be there with his shirt off, looking sweaty and delicious, it was just a coincidence. I smiled mischievously to myself and pulled on the green skirt. It still fit perfectly. Underneath, I slid on the bottoms of an old red bikini. On top of the swimsuit top, I pulled on one of Bitsy’s long tanks and a loose-fitting midriff shirt. I had the choice of some grungy flip flops or canvas sneakers. I choose the sneakers.

  "What is going on?"

  A sharp voice behind me made me jump as I was shoving my feet into the sneakers.

  "Jesus, Bitsy, why are you skulking around like a burglar?"

  "Why are you wearing my shirt?"

  "Im going for a walk. "

  "Its ninety degrees out, and youre going for a walk wearing a skirt—and is that mascara you have on?"

  I fought the instinct to shield my face from her penetrating gaze.

  "Oh my God. Does the guy Mom said you were crushing on live around here?” She ran to her bedroom and started rummaging through her closet. There were no secrets in my life. I threw up my hands.

  Chasing after her I yelled, “You’re not coming with me. ”

  "Did you go out with him? Is that what you were doing the other day? You went out with a GUY?" Bitsy virtually screamed the last part.

  "Im right here. ” I tapped my ears to check that there was no damage to my hearing.

  "Youre avoiding the question," she yelled at me.

  "Fine, yes, Gray is staying over at a friends house. "

  Bitsy gaped at me and then pulled me in for a hug. “Gray? His name is a color? Wait, I don’t care. I’m so happy for you. "

  "Why?" Bitsy’s energy was making me smile, making me release my pent up hopes about this afternoon.

  "Because, youve decided you havent died along with Will. "

  I didnt have much of an answer to that so I just finished tying my shoes. “I love you, Bit by Bit,” I said and let myself out of the house. Bitsy’s groan echoed through the door and I couldn’t stop smiling.



  BUILDING THE SLIP AND SLIDE had taken a couple of hours. The house had a long, fairly steep drive. Wed gone out this morning to the sporting goods store and bought seven king size air mattresses and several tent tarps, and a kids bouncy house was in the process of being inflated at the bottom of the drive. The big motor required to inflate it was making it hard to hear, even at the top of the hill.

  "You do this before?" I asked Bo as we surveyed our work. The mattresses had been laid end-to-end and covered much, but not all, of the drive. The pressure of one end of the mattress on the other was to keep them in place, like a stacked set of blocks. The tarps, which would ordinarily go beneath a tent, were stretched tautly across the top of the mattresses. Bo, Finn, Noah, and I had worked in pairs to drive in the stakes to hold down the tarps while Adam and Mal, the other two roommates, had made sure that the bouncy house was set up securely down at the base of the hill.

  "Nope. " Bo flipped the hammer in his hand. "Haul up the hoses. " Wed also had to buy to extra hoses to make sure that we could hoist one to the top of the drive. The bill for all the supplies was astronomical, but Adam had paid without a blink. Bo told me in the car ride back that Adams dad would think this was the best possible use of his money. I shrugged. Not my dime—and it did look fun as hell. Wed also bought a couple of gallons of baby oil.

  Bo threw one at me. "Time to lube up. Im sure youre familiar with this. "

  "Oh I am," I replied. "I always apply lube. Its the only way any chick can take my monster cock. "

  "Is that the pick-up line youre using now? Because it seems like youd end up disappointing them when you get home. "

  "No girl has ever left my bed unsatisfied. That’s probably something you dont know a lot about. "

  "If you have to use lube, then Im worried you dont know what youre doing in bed. "

  "Dont worry about me. Im using lube because Im going places no man has gone before. "

  "Youre fucking their earhole?"

  "Bo, I thought for sure wed taught you a few things when you were in the service, but now it seems like you dont know your earhole from your asshole. "

  "Thats not what AnnMarie was saying last night,” he said smugly.

  "Actually, AnnMarie told me that she didnt realize dicks were longer than her hand and wondered if mine was bigger than average. " I squirted more baby oil on the tarps. "I told her no, that you were just really small. Poor girl. Good thing she isn’t required to do a lot of math. ”

  Bo threw down his gallon container with a roar and dived across the mattresses and tarps to get at me, but Id slicked the tarp with oil and he went sliding down. I bent over and laughed so hard I cried as he kept trying to climb up to get me and I kept squirting him with baby oil. Noah put an end to our fun when he came over with the hoses and sprayed us all down. I jumped onto the tarp belly first and rammed into Bo and gravity took us both to the bottom where we commenced wrestling.

  Adams shout to the top of the hill made me pause and look up. Bo took the opportunity to hit me. "Dammit, Bo, always when Im not paying attention?"

  "Pay attention then. " He shoved my head down onto the tarp and got up. "One of these days youre going to fall hard for a girl and shes going to break your ever-loving heart. "

  "Been there, got the T-shirt. Never going back," I said as I popped up. Adam was hailing Sam. I ran up to the top of the hill, stripping off my oil-and-water-slicked T-shirt. I wasnt trying to look good for her—okay, maybe a little. I was panting and out of breath when I got to her, but I beat Adam by about ten feet.

  "Sam, hey, long time," I said and rubbed the s
hirt on my oil-slicked hair. She reached up. I thought she was going to run her hands over my head, and I dipped my head forward in anticipation, but she didnt touch me. Instead, she drew back and showed me a blade of grass that must have stuck to my head when I was wrestling with Bo.

  “Are you and Bo always fighting?” It wasn’t really a question but an observation, as if she’d encountered this type of male friendship before, and I suspected she had with Will. Before I could answer, though, Adam and the rest of the crowd had drawn level with us.

  "Sam," Adam said, drawing Sam in for an easy hug. "Im glad you stopped by. Finally taking me up on one of my offers. ”

  This sounded vaguely sexual and I frowned at Adam. He said he had no claim on Sam. Adam caught my stare and rolled his eyes. “Loosen up” he said silently. Rolling my shoulders, I tried to let go of the tension that had taken hold.

  “How’s Finn doing?” Sam asked. Finn’s grandfather had died earlier in the spring.

  "Hes doing okay. Hell be glad to see you. I think youre the one person who gets whats going on in his head. ” Adam took Sam by the shoulder and started walking her down the incline. The rest of their conversation was hard to hear as they merged with the larger crowd of people whod gathered for an impromptu Friday pool party. I guess it was summer and no one had to work.

  "Turn that frown upside down, Princess. " Bo crept up on me. "She turn you down?"

  "No. " I said curtly.

  "I keep telling you to save the lets go out for blood tests until after the second date. "

  "Youre an asshole, you know that right?"

  "But a hot one,” he replied.

  "If AnnMarie wasnt watching us right now looking like shed stab me if I started whaling on you, Id have my boot so far up your ass youd be feeling it in your throat. "

  "I love it when you talk dirty to me. "

  "How is it that you screwed half the western seaboard and still came away clean?" I asked.

  "Dunno, lucky, I guess?" Bo shrugged, unconcerned. Then he turned to me. "I was lucky. I know this. I shouldve been more careful and I admire that you take care of yourself and the girls you sleep with. It shows that youre far more decent than I am but I also think you use this whole STI and cheating thing as a way not to get involved. So you dont want to get involved right now? That’s all good, but dont do stuff to shoot yourself in the foot. Youre better than that. "

  A heart-to-heart from Bo. My screw ups must have been more obvious than Id wanted. "Lets talk about Noah and what his chances of winning his upcoming match are. "

  "Sure, dont want to talk about your feelings, thats fine. Just know that Im getting it regular because I know what Im talking about. "

  "Bullshit, you fool. " I shook my head in mock disgust. "Youre getting it regular because AnnMarie didnt see me first. "

  Bo grunted but we were back to our regularly scheduled insults which meant all was right in our world. That Sam hung out with Adam and Finn and looked happy and relaxed didnt bother me at all. That she came by and made casual small talk with me like there wasnt an electrical current that passed between us didnt faze me. That she looked hotter than a Sports Illustrated model in her two-piece bikini that showed off a pretty impressive set of legs, a perfect gap between her thighs, and a small-but-juicy rack didnt cause me to have to go inside and jack off in the bathroom. I just did it because thats what guys do. They jerk it while fantasizing about girls that they couldnt have, but wanted so goddamned bad.

  I leaned my head against the bathroom door and then carefully cleaned myself up. “Gray Phillips, you are a stupid son of a bitch,” I declared to the mirror. Bo was right. I’d been fucked up bad by a girl and it was ruining me. After my impromptu bathroom session, I wasnt sure I was relieved or discouraged that Sam was still there. I found her in the kitchen and all the jerking in the world wasn’t going to solve my problem because I could feel a semi rising in my shorts just looking at her.

  “Sam. ” She jumped at my over-loud voice.

  “God, you scared me. ” She gave a nervous little laugh. Everyone else was still outside and for once, we were alone.

  “About earlier,” I started but stopped when she raised her hand, palm facing me.

  “You know what. It’s fine. I can see by the crowd that you have plenty of coffee offers to choose from. ” She waved her hand, gesturing toward the front lawn where people were still making use of the makeshift slip and slide.

  Coffee? Shit man, she was still upset about two fuckups ago, not the most recent one. I blew out a big breath. There was a mountain of apologies and explaining I was going to have to do to make this right.

  “No, there was no rejection the other night,” I said firmly. The only way to salvage this was to make sure she understood that I still wanted her. “It was a delay. The coffee wasn’t in the right mug. I needed a different mug. ”

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