Honorable Mention!

Bard Solstice Challenge #26 - Quoth the Raven, Nevermore


The Enemy Next Door

by Silverwriter01

All characters are mine and mine alone. If they look like anybody you know or think you know its sheer coincidence. This story does contain some violence, foul language, and sexual content. If you don't like any of these, please try your call again.

Synopsis: No one ever said it was going to be easy falling for the girl next door.

Thanks to Michele for trying to tackle the original, to Rosa for editing the revised, and Christoffer for being my cheerleader.

Questions? Comments? Rude remarks? silverwriter01@yahoo.com

Copyright, December 2011. All rights reserved.


I almost wish there weren’t a holiday season. Yeah, I said it. Do you want to know why? Because it’s Christmas Eve, I can’t be with my family, and the woman I love hates me.

Let me start over. Do you know the stories about how a guy falls for the girl next door? Well this is one of those stories except I’m not a guy. So I’m a girl who fell for the girl next door. There are twists to this story as in every story. One twist is that up until a few years ago, I hated her. She was my sworn childhood enemy. Another twist is that I slept with two out of three of her sisters. If you think that’s bad, what would you say if I told you she slept with one of my brothers and both of my sisters?

Right now I’m sitting on my bed writing this story on my laptop in my self-imposed exile. I’ve barricaded my bedroom door and I’m refusing to come out since all I seem to do is ruin everything. I’m kind of starting to wish that an angel would come down and say “You’ve been given a great gift…a chance to see what the world would be like without you” so I could see my life is worthwhile.

Maybe then I could see that I don’t really mess everything up and everything will be alright. This is Christmas. The season of perpetual hope. Though my hope is a silly one.

So where to begin my tale? I guess I should set the setting. Picture a small town with a population of three thousand tucked right between two mountains. North Valley survives off of the wealthy that live in the mountains, small groups of tourists, and the logging companies. It’s a quaint little town that has been home to my family for several generations.

I should explain my family but I’m warning you, it gets quite complicated. My parents’ names are Jacob and Margaret. I have five siblings, which makes a total of three boys and three girls. I’ll go in order so as not to get confused. The oldest of us is my half sister Lily. The next is my half brother Jacob Junior, who everyone calls JJ. There is a five month difference between Lily and JJ.

My parents’ story is like something out of a Harlequin novel. My parents were married to other people. My mom’s first husband took off and filed for divorce not long after Lily was born. JJ’s mother died in childbirth. JJ’s mother and my mother where good friends so when she died, Mom felt it was her responsibility to help Dad with JJ. Some people thought Mom was trying to replace JJ’s birth mother and her place in Dad’s heart. Others thought she was a saint for taking on another child that wasn’t hers. Mom said she never wanted to take the place of JJ’s mother. She just wanted to honor her friend’s memory.

Whenever Dad tells the story, he talks about how much of a mess he was. How he didn’t know whether to be eternally grateful to Mom for taking care of his son or angry because she was doing all the things his late wife should have had the chance to do. He mainly spent most of his time working until he snapped out of his daze. He changed when he learned JJ was talking and he didn’t even know when it had happened.

Dad heard JJ call Mom ‘Mama’ and that changed him. Instead of getting angry that his son was calling another woman ‘Mama’, he realized Mom had become his son’s mother in his way. That she had been more of a parent than he had. So Dad changed his ways. Mom says you had never seen such a loving father after that to both JJ and Lily.

Over the course of two years my parents dated and then married. Mom prided herself on being an independent woman, especially after she was dumped by her first husband, so it took Dad a while to convince her to marry him. The marriage proposal she accepted was something like this, “Hey, what do you say we both be independent together, huh?

Okay, so back to the children. Shortly after Lily turned three, Daniel was born and a year after that my brother Alex came into this world. Two years after Alex, I came along. Here’s my introduction. I’m Jessica Knight, but call me Jess. One year after I was born, my younger sister Taylor came along.

I’ll just do a brief description of my family and I’ll get right back to the story. My Dad’s side of the family generally has dark, unruly brown hair, dark eyes, and they're built kind of stocky.

My Mom’s side of the family has the lighter looks with blonde hair, blue eyes, and slender build.

Lily is the spitting image of Mom when she was younger and JJ is a real leaf of the Knight tree. Daniel is a mixture of the two with very light brown hair and hazel eyes. My brother Alex is a handsome, extremely vain, blue-eyed blonde. Taking after Dad and JJ, I’m not really tall and have dark brown hair and brown eyes. Taylor is another mixture. She has blonde hair and brown eyes.

So back to the story. When I was eleven a new family moved in next door. We really didn’t like having neighbors since we liked playing freely in the empty back yard next door. I have to say my siblings and I were bad children. We could be right terrors. No one wanted to get into a fight with one of us because they knew if they messed with one Knight, they messed with the whole clan.

That’s when she moved in next door, Kristina Morison. Kris moved in with her parents and three sisters. Claire, the eldest, was the same age as JJ. Next came Jennifer, who was a year older than me, and Kris is my age. The youngest was named Lavender though she went by Ender and she was my younger sister’s age.

Kris and I were eleven years old when we met. Alex, Taylor, and I were sitting in the tree house Dad had built us when they pulled up in the car. We were hoping to get a glance at our new enemies.

Taylor exclaimed, “Look! They’re here.”

Alex, who had the binoculars, said, “So let’s see who we’re up against. There’s a mom and a dad. There’s a couple of girls and one looks like a real nerd. There’s also a little boy. I bet he’s a brat.”

I took the binoculars from him and looked for myself. Later I would learn that all the Morison sisters had different shades of green eyes and auburn hair.

Claire, the oldest, had wavy reddish brown hair mixed with strands of gold and sharp, piercing green eyes. Jennifer’s hair had more red in it than brown or yellow and her green eyes were soft and light. Ender’s auburn hair was the darkest of her sisters. It took the sun hitting it just right to see a flash of red or yellow. Her green eyes were dark and grew darker when she got angry.

The moment I laid eyes on Kris through those binoculars I knew right then and there I was born to make her life a living hell. She had a snobby look about her and she was also wearing pink. The tomboy in me hated pink.

Somewhere in the very back of my mind, which was on the cusp of puberty, I noted that Kris was cute. Her auburn hair has the perfect mix of red, brown, and gold blended to perfection. Her eyes shifted from various shades of green. They can go from as dark as Ender’s to as soft as Jennifer’s.

Thinking it over now, cute doesn’t describe Kris. Jennifer could be considered the cute one. Claire, the stunning. Ender, the handsome. Kris could only be called beautiful.

I remember growling after looking at her, “She won’t last half a year.”

Taylor snatched the binoculars away from me and had her turn. We watched them closely to see which rooms they took. Kris and Ender shared a room which was directly across from the room Taylor and I shared. We could see into each other’s rooms if we left the blinds up.

That night at dinner, Dad mentioned the new neighbors. Mom gave us a look to behave. Really she only had to worry about me and Taylor since Alex lost interest when he saw there were no older boys to harass.

Right after dinner, Dad marched us all over to meet the Morisons. Turns out that my dad and Jim Morison were old friends when they were kids and now Jim had decided to move back to North Valley with his family.

Each family lined up like soldiers on opposite sides of a battle field. Dad and Jim took turns introducing everybody and most of my family was surprised to find out Lavender wasn’t a boy. Once she lifted her face so we could see under the baseball cap, we could tell she was a girl.

Our parents tried to get us to shake hands and talk. Claire merely yawned and ignored us. Kris held up her nose at us and I could have sworn she said to one of her sisters, “They’re obviously jealous of my nose. Anybody would be.”

Jennifer surprised me by shaking each of our hands. She did look a little nerdy with her glasses but she was surprisingly confident for someone so young.

Ender went straight up to my then nine-year-old sister and looked her over like she was looking at a bug. She frowned, “You’re too girly.”

Mary Morison gasped at her youngest, “Lavender.”

I might have hit anyone else for messing with my sister, but she was smaller than me. That wouldn’t have been fair. We may have been childhood terrors but we tried to be fair.

Taylor, not one to be put down at all, sneered, “Well, I thought you were a boy, Lavender.”

The next thing we know, Taylor and Ender were rolling on the ground, hitting each other with all their young might. I never saw Ender tackle my sister but she says to this day she did. Taylor, of course, swears she threw the first punch. Ender and Taylor can agree on very few things.

Of course we kids weren’t going to stop them. Dad and Jim jumped in when they realized that and pulled their youngest apart. They were kicking and screaming to get back at each other’s throat. After sending the youngest children inside, Dad looked at Jim and asked, “Do you want something to drink?”

Jim looked over us children, who were glaring at each other and said with a laugh in his voice, “Of course, sir! A fine night for spirits of one form or another, sir!”

From that night on the Morisons were sworn enemies of the Knights. However, I should clarify by saying only the girls in my family had a problem with the Morisons. Taylor and Ender were natural foes. I had already declared my hate for Kris. Lily, who had proclaimed to be too old for childish feuds, took an immediate dislike to the Morison’s oldest daughter, Claire.

My brothers and Jennifer remained neutral, even courteous, to the enemy. As much as I wanted to hate all of the Morisons, I couldn’t. Jim and Mary were great friends of my parents and I could only dislike them for creating our enemies. The battle between Ender and Taylor I found amusing and Claire’s and Lily’s battle I found interesting.

I happened to like Ender, though I never said a word to Taylor, and Claire was neat. She was also very pretty to my young, lesbian mind.

I only hated Kris and I hated her with all of my senses. The six senses—to see, to hear, to taste, to smell, to feel…to be. They all went to hating Kris. I used to go to sleep dreaming of ways to make her life miserable.

The moment I started to hate Kris was at school the next day. She was enrolled in my class and was placed in the empty seat next to me. I guess you could say I started it, but I blame it all on the hoity-toity looks she gave me as she walked in. So when she walked by me, I stuck out my foot. She tripped, but didn’t fall. The glare she gave me could have peeled paint and that’s when our war officially started.

The war started out fairly innocent but soon progressed. During our brief arts and craft break, Kris and I were forced to share a bottle of glue and a pair of scissors. She took the scissors first and took her precious time cutting stuff out. She started gluing while I cut my things out. She then handed me the glue bottle with a sweet, evil smile. When I tried to squeeze the bottle, nothing came out. I glared at her, “You used up all the glue on purpose.”

She merely stuck her tongue out at me and I had to fight not to chuck the bottle at her. That was only the beginning.

When I was ten, I only had two friends I hung out with at school. One was a boy named Jason and the other a girl named Kayla. I wasn’t really popular back then and other kids tended to avoid me. It came from being a terror I guess. So I only had two friends and I was very attached to them. The moment Kris walked into our school everybody was awed by her, especially the girls. When we went out to recess that day, Jason and I went to hang out under one of the trees that we had claimed as our own. I asked, looking around, “Where’s Kayla? Did she get detention or something?”

We looked around and I finally spotted Kayla. She was standing with the group who was huddled around Kris. They were all dying to get to know her better since apparently she was cool.

I saw red so much that I think I saw black. I don’t think I’m exaggerating either since Jason swore later that my eyes went from brown to black. To this day people say my eyes darken when I’m angry.

All I could think was that she had stolen my best friend and that’s when I knew how much I hated Kris Morison. Jason then got an idea. He got an idea…an awful idea. He whispered it into my ear and I smirked.

I should mention that it had rained the day before so the ground was still wet with puddles and slippery mud. Following Jason’s instructions, I scooped up some mud and slung it at them. It hit Kris right on the new white blouse she was wearing. Her eyes went straight to a shade of dark green and I think she saw black too.

She marched right over and hit me with a respectable right cross. I sprang right back up to my feet and tackled her right into a mud puddle. We were covered from head to toe and we squirmed around until the teachers pulled us apart.

I got paddled and she got sent home because she didn’t have a form saying she could get paddled. After I was paddled, I was also sent home because I didn’t have any clean clothes. Once home my mom spanked me again, but I didn’t care. All I had to do was remember the stunned look on Kris’s face when I flung the mud at her and all my pain went away.

While Ender, Taylor, Kris and I were being terrors, our older siblings were getting more popular. JJ was becoming quite the football player and went on to become captain of the team in his senior year. Daniel started dating a lot of girls. It was his boyish good looks and charm. Lily was a popular female jock. When she was a junior, she was already the captain of the girls’ basketball team and the next year she also became captain of the girls’ softball team.

Claire, who arrived just in time for tryouts, became a cheerleader. She was a very nice looking cheerleader if you asked me, or my brothers, or any man in a fifty mile radius. She became captain of the squad in her senior year.

One thing you should know about our high school is that cheerleaders are renowned for their dislike of female athletes and the athletic ladies had a similar feeling about them. It wasn’t a secret that the captain of the girls’ softball team and the captain of the cheerleading squad were sworn in as mortal enemies the moment they became captains. Lily and Claire were well-suited for the job because they already hated each other.

I heard rumors that they had loud arguments that happened everywhere. The arguments only stopped if one was absent. While it never came to blows, it did come down to lots of tricks. The tricks they pulled on each other set records. That is until Kris and I got to high school. Super glue was placed on Lily’s bat and itching powder was put in Claire’s spanks.

After Kris and I got into trouble for fighting at school, we made an unspoken pact. We wouldn’t get into physical fights at school anymore. It was limited to verbal altercations with a few hard shoves when we got off the bus. Our parents started waiting at the bus stop just so they could catch us.

One time I remember our fathers waiting for us. Our fathers weren’t the best at keeping us apart. Dad had been telling Jim a joke, “Then the priest said, ‘You’ve obviously never been neck deep in nuns.’”

Soon both men were holding their stomachs because they were laughing so hard. Meanwhile Kris and I were fighting on the ground. I can’t remember what I had done to tick Kris off but once off the bus, she turned around and punched me with a right cross. It took our fathers a minute to realize they should break us up.

Let me fast forward a few years. Our families’ feud didn’t end. If anything, it got worse. Claire dated JJ for about two months and they broke up badly. JJ had cheated on Claire and Claire cheated on him.

After Claire, Lily, and JJ graduated, they went their own ways. JJ joined the Army and would later go back to college to become a civil engineer. Lily, our pride and joy, got accepted into Yale on a softball scholarship and went on to study medicine. Claire went to State to major in art.

Once my siblings were gone I finally got my own room. I moved into the attic where Lily had been. Kris got her own room too, which was Claire’s old room. I was surprised to find out that I could see directly into her bedroom. I could even see into Jennifer’s room if I angled myself just right. By angled I mean angling the telescope.

I should probably talk about the telescope. I didn’t start out as a peeping tom and the telescope wasn’t mine to begin with. It was Lily’s and she started. I remember coming into her room several times to find the telescope not pointed at the sky.

So by the time Kris and I entered high school as sophomores, Alex was a senior and Jennifer was a junior. Daniel was going to a community college a few counties over and living in the garage because he wanted a place to call his own but also rent free. Taylor, Ender, Kris, and I were keeping up the hatred in Claire and Lily’s absence. You would think it would have settled down, but no. Our parents had long given up on making us friends.

Our school seemed to be separated into three groups. You were for the Knights, the Morisons, or you didn’t care either way. In my year, my group was lacking since Kris was more popular. In Taylor’s and Ender’s year, Taylor was more popular and I’ll explain why in a moment.

If you haven’t guessed, Kris became a cheerleader and I played on the softball team. I was no good at basketball since I didn’t have Lily’s height. Alex played Lacrosse and Jennifer, the neutral sister, remained a nerd but she was a cute nerd.

I never hated Jennifer and I even liked her. She was a bookworm and so was I. I even kept a journal through high school, but didn’t tell anyone since that would have ruined my tough-girl image.

I remember the day I started thinking of Jennifer as a friend. I was still a sophomore and I had Saturday detention for pulling a prank on the cheerleader team. You know what the imagination is? It’s the key to my dark and sinister side that makes my pranks ingenious. The prank I got in trouble for was putting dye into the showerheads of the girls’ locker room. Why, you ask? Wouldn’t that affect the softball team when they went to shower?

The answer is no. Cheerleading practice finished before softball practice did, mainly for everybody’s wellbeing, and they got into the locker room first. I put the dye in while my team was practicing and then snuck back outside. I told the rest of my teammates and we watched as the squad went into the locker room. We waited around the entrance with cameras until we heard the first scream. We dashed inside to find six cheerleaders in various states of dress covered in either red or blue. We laughed so hard that we started crying as we snapped picture after picture.

I will never forget Kris covered in blue dye. I still have a picture of her looking like that. She was storming towards the camera holder, me, looking very blue and pissed off. She had a messy, blue-stained towel wrapped around her that came off when she punched me with her deadly right cross. I may have been in serious pain but I will never forget those blue-dyed breasts. My team and I ran away to live and fight another day as they started hitting us. As much as the team wanted to, I wouldn’t let them post any pictures around school. Some weren’t censored and while mean, I’m not cruel.

I was given detention and I was sent to the library to dust and shelve books. It wasn’t a problem for me. I liked books and Jennifer was there. She was close friends with the librarian and since the library lady wanted to go to her niece’s wedding, she left Jennifer in charge of me.

I found her behind the librarian’s desk with her feet propped up reading a book. When she saw me, she carefully closed the book and looked me over. I was curious to see what she would do since I had painted her sister blue.

She said, curiosity tinting her voice, “I thought Kris left a blue mark on your face when she hit you and I don’t mean that bruise-blue.”

I gently touched my bruised eye, “She did. Still has a mean right cross.”

“So does she still have blue on her?” I asked with a wicked grin.

Jennifer surprised me by laughing, “Yes, in some areas. Rubbing alcohol has gotten off most of it and she’s tried everything to get the rest off to no avail.”

I felt a little remorse for Kris or maybe it was Jennifer’s effect on me. I sighed, “You didn’t hear this from me but rubbing an ice cube on it will make it come off. It takes very cold water so ice works the best.”

She gave me a look of disbelief, “Water made it set. How could it take it off?”

“Warm water sets it. The cheerleaders are always using up the hot water before we get in there so I knew it would work. Really cold water gets it off.”

“That’s ingenious,” Jennifer laughed.

I tried not to blush at the compliment.

Jennifer then nodded to a cart of books, “Let’s shelve those and I’ll let you go saying you put in your six hours.”

I did end up staying those six hours. We spent the whole time talking like old friends. That’s how it went after that. I hated Kris, but I was friends with Jennifer. Kris wasn’t happy but our parents were thrilled.

Kris got even though. She started dating my brother Alex, which boasted her popularity even more. He was extremely handsome with chiseled muscles. It really ticked me off for reasons that weren’t obvious to my teenage mind. Luckily they lasted two months before they mutually broke up. I didn’t like the rumors about Alex taking Kris’s virginity in the backseat of his Jeep. It made my brother sound like a sleaze ball and Kris like a slut. I may not have liked Kris, but I didn’t like her being insulted like that.

Ender and Taylor entered high school the next year. My junior year I became captain of the softball team. We were holding tryouts at the beginning of the semester and I was with coach, reviewing all the girls who wanted to be on the team. A small town lives off of sports.

Coach Campbell sighed, “Whose next?”

We had been trying to find a decent pitcher to replace the one who had graduated. I looked down at the paper and gasped. I was chewing a piece of gum at the time so I started to choke. Coach had to beat on my back before I coughed it up.

“You okay?”

“Ender Morison is up next,” I said, my voice now hoarse. I waved Ender over. She had grown taller than me over the years. Her dark auburn hair was cut level with her shoulders and her green eyes focused wearily on me. She did have the build of a good pitcher.

Coach asked, “What kind of name is Ender?”

I laughed, “The name that saves you from getting tackled like my little sister did after she called her Lavender.”

Ender laughed while Coach shrugged. She had long learned to stay out of prank wars. She ordered Ender to start pitching to the girl trying out for a second catcher position. I was the other catcher and would be starting most games.

Ender was good, really good. Coach and I both knew it and wanted her on the team.

Coach Campbell said, “I’d like Ender to be our new pitcher. She’s got the stuff. So I need to know right now, girls, are we going to have a Knight and a Morison on the same team without there being any trouble?”

Ender and I started at each other. In that stare we acknowledged that we hated each other’s sister and were perfectly okay with that.

I asked, “Are you okay with the cheerleader thing?”

I was referring to the team pulling pranks on the cheerleaders. She flicked a brow at me, “Are you?”

“Excuse me?”

Ender seemed surprised, “Your sister tried out for the squad yesterday. She got in.”

My vision started to darken, “She wouldn’t.”

Ender hadn’t lied. My sister had become a cheerleader. All hell broke loose when we got home.

I had offered Ender a ride home in my hand-me-down Jeep that had been JJ’s and then Alex’s. Even though it was a hand-me down Jeep, I had still been excited to have it. I hadn’t known I was going to get it for my birthday since I thought Alex would take it with to college. Alex, by the way, had gotten into State and was majoring in Criminal Psychology, hoping to become a detective later in life. So on my birthday my dad held out both of his closed fists and said, “Happy Birthday! One of these is your birthday present. Pick.”

I thought it was just going to be cash, which was fine with my teenage self. So in good nature, I tapped one as I teased, “That’s my gift? It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages boxes or bags!”

It turned out to be a set of car keys and I think I squealed. When you’re sixteen, a car is a car. Anyway, back to the story.

When we got home, Kris and Taylor were standing by Kris’s new Civic. Her family wasn’t rich but well better off than mine.

Ender and I looked at each other and we knew the rules had changed. It would be jocks against cheerleaders from now on. Ender grinned, “We’ll have to outwit the fiend with our superior intelligence.”

Kris’s smirk faded when she saw Ender with me. She demanded, “What are you doing with her?”

I gloated, “Say hello to my new pitcher. She’s on the softball team.”

As the Morison sisters glared at each other, I turned to my sister, who was giving me a look as if daring me to say something. I didn’t say anything, I yelled, “You’re a cheerleader? Are you fucking insane?”

Kris paused in glaring at her sister to turn on me, “Lay off, Jess-a-lot. She’s a grown woman, not to mention she’s pretty good at it. Now, Ender, what in the Hell are you thinking? Do you want to be some softball dyke?”

Jess-a-lot was a nickname I had in school after Lancelot.

“Just what is wrong with cheerleading?” Taylor demanded.

My eyes almost popped out of my head, “What’s wrong? What’s wrong? You prance around in short skirts and make a fool out of yourself. That’s what’s wrong. Waving those darn stringy things around and spreading your legs. Now I’m going to have to keep an eye on you so the darn leeches off of you. Plus I’m going to play pranks on you right and left.”

Ender laughed, “Do you think we could paint her ass blue like you did my sister?”

I joined her in laughing while Kris and Taylor glared at us. I said, “No. Never repeat a prank no matter how classic it is. We’ll discuss new ones.”

Kris’s eyes turned as sharp as Claire’s and Taylor looked ready to knock our lights out. The elder sister hissed, “Don’t mind them. They’re just like any other mindless jocks who have tits and wish they had a dick.”

I was starting to see black but lucky for all of us Jennifer drove up in her Civic. She got out of her car and leaned against the door, “What’s going on here?”

Jennifer noted that Ender was sided with me and Taylor was on Kris’s side. She broke into a smile, “Congratulations on making the team, Ender, and same goes to you on making the squad, Taylor.”

“Kris, Jess, behave,” Jennifer added in a firm tone.

“It’s funny. Everybody but my own sister is happy for me. She would rather side with the girl that hates me most. Funny how that works out.”

I rolled my eyes, “Don’t even start on that enemy crap. You’re with Kris, the red-headed Barbie scum who hates me.”

Jennifer sighed at my immaturity but I couldn’t help it. Old habits are hard to break.

Taylor said, tears forming in her brown eyes, “But you aren’t happy for me. You’re ashamed of me.”

With that said tears broke free and she ran off. Both Kris and Jennifer were glaring at me. Ender looked surprised at first and then almost glared at me. I guess it was because she thought she was the only who was supposed to make Taylor upset.

I grimaced when I saw Jennifer’s glare, “Okay, okay. I’m going. Damn green Morison eyes.”

“Okay, now let’s try to deal with our own family,” Jennifer said, looking at her sisters.

I found Taylor in our abandoned tree house. I knew she would be there and I brought a thermos of hot chocolate with me. She was sitting in the corner with her knees drawn up to her chest, “Go away.”

“I brought you some hot chocolate. Not too hot. Extra chocolate. Shaken, not stirred. Just the way you like it.”

I sighed and went to sit in front of her, “Why are you so upset over this, Taylor? You know how I feel about cheerleaders and you knew I wouldn’t like it.”

“Yeah, I knew.”

“Then why are you acting this way? You never cared about what I thought before, so why now? You’ve always done your own thing no matter what I said. So what’s the big deal?”

She shrugged, which irritated me even more. I gripped her shoulders and shook her until she was glaring at me with red-rimmed eyes. I wished desperately for Lily or Jennifer because they knew female emotions better than I did. I mean Lily was athletic, but she was more feminine than me.

I grumbled as I pulled her into a hug. I didn’t understand women even though I was one of them. To my surprise Taylor hugged me back. I said, trying to comfort, “I don’t understand and I’m sure I’m okay with it but I do know I’m happy for you. If this is what you want I’m happy for you. I’m still going to make your life hell though.”

“You do that anyway,” Taylor snorted.

“Well, you and Kris will be planning all sorts of pranks on Ender, me, and my other girls.”

At Ender’s name she tensed. I asked, “What? You hate Ender and now you have another excuse to hate her more. What’s wrong with her being on the team? She’s damn good by the way. Like the way you probably kicked ass doing cheers or whatnot you girls do.”

She seemed to relax but only a little. I pushed her away, “Damnit, Taylor. What’s your problem? What’s up with Ender?”

Taylor stared at the floor, “I feel stupid. I was jealous of her for a minute.”

I was confused. Taylor was jealous of Ender?

“Why? She’s only going to play ball with me and maybe we’ll become friends. I’m already friends with Jennifer. Are you jealous of her?”

Taylor shook her head, “I think I had a little sister moment. Maybe some PMS. I don’t know.”

PMS was something I understood, “It’s okay. You’re my sister, not her. Knights stick together.”

“Together,” She promised as she reached for the hot chocolate.

I couldn’t understand why Taylor was jealous of Ender for the longest time and then I realized I slowly grew jealous of Kris as the year went on. Taylor would brag about how cool Kris was, how she was going to make captain, and how she came up with the best cheers. She adored and looked up to Kris. I was jealous of that. Looking back, Taylor would always look tense and angry when I would rave about Ender. I guess it was a sister thing.

The biggest event of my junior year was developing a crush on Jennifer. It just dawned on me one day that I had a crush on her and I learned she had feelings for me too on perhaps the most embarrassing day of my life.

Before the event that had me storming out of the high school in shame and anger, the cheerleaders and softball players had been going all out the prank war. My team was extremely excited because we had won the regional tournament and Ender had been nominated as best rookie pitcher of the state. Morale was high and we just had to do something extreme.

I didn’t think the prank was harsh but the squad found it over the top. We made a small pamphlet with hand drawn pictures of cheerleaders looking silly or doing stupid things. Our shortstop was a pretty good artist.

It wasn’t so bad, I swear. One picture was of a cheerleader dressed in an old cheerleader outfit. You know the type where the skirts were down to the ankles. Another was of a cheerleader’s head on a muscled guy’s body holding pom-poms. There were only three that were bad and they were the captain’s, Kris’s, and Taylor’s pictures. Kris’s and Taylor’s were only bad because Ender and I couldn’t argue against them or we would look disloyal to the team.

Taylor’s sketch had her head placed on a baby’s body. The baby was wearing a mini-cheerleading uniform while sucking a pacifier. Kris’s was a bit worse. She was wearing her skirt and a very tiny bikini top that tied around her neck. She was holding two softballs where her breasts should be and thrusting them out for all to see. Hey, she was topless when I saw the drawing the first time, but made our artist draw a bikini on her.

The captain’s picture was semi-bad, I will admit. She was bowing on her knees in her outfit. She was kneeling to an armored knight who held a baseball bat out like a sword. There was no doubt who she was bowing to.

So my team and I printed out the pamphlets and left them off all over the school. The squad knew who had done it and we knew payback would be hell. It was a risk we took and the cheerleaders were laughed at the entire day. Taylor and Kris were furious with Ender and me. Taylor actually screamed at me from the top of her lungs and then refused to talk to me for a week.

Revenge came a week later on a Friday. During lunch the captain of the squad announced there was to be a voluntary pep rally in the gym during lunch and invited all students to attend. I don’t know how she was allowed to use the intercom or how she got a pep rally approved, but she made it happen.

I was standing along a wall off of the bleachers with Jennifer and Ender on either side of me. My team was spread out near us. Ender asked as we stared at the group of cheerleaders in the middle of the gym, “Should we be worried?”

Looking at the microphones, project, and large screen slide that was set up I replied, “Yep.”

The squad’s captain, Kimberly, took a microphone, “Thank you for coming out today. As you know, the girls’ softball team has been doing well this year and I think we haven’t given them enough attention. Let’s give them a hand!”

The stands applauded and shouted. My team waved even though we knew something bad was about to happen.

Kimberly waited until the students quieted, “You know I don’t think we know the softball team that well. I’m ashamed of that so we’re here to get to know them a little better. Lights!”

Half the gym’s lights dimmed and the projection started up, “Here’s Rachel Green and she plays third base. I think it’s great she lost all that weight but she had such cute cheeks.”

A picture of Rachel came up when she was younger and much larger. It was obviously a yearbook picture and it didn’t look good. Most of the crowd roared with laughter. With that my team was one by one humiliated by the pictures shown.

Ender and I were last. The screen changed and there was a picture of four year old Ender naked as a jaybird except for a purple cape, “This is our fabulous pitcher Lavender Morison. Isn’t she cute?”

Ender turned red with anger and shame as the stands thundered with laughter. Everybody was looking our way. Even Jennifer seemed upset. That was a private family photo and there was only one way the cheerleaders could have gotten it. I could see Kris and Taylor laughing but they did look a little pale. I was up next.

The lights came back on and the projector stopped. I was confused because I had been rushing through my memory of any embarrassing photos Taylor may have gotten of me. However it seemed they didn’t have a picture of me.

Jennifer placed a hand on my arm, “It will be okay whatever it is.”

Ender, who was still red, nodded.

“Last but not least we have our beloved softball captain, Jessica Knight. I’m afraid we don’t have a picture of Jess-a-lot, but we do have something just as good.

I watched, horror filled, as she reached out to Taylor who handed her a spiral blue notebook. That was my notebook, my journal. The one where I held nothing back, not even my love for women which I had told no one about.

Jennifer and Ender watched as I went from pale to gray to green. Or so they told me afterwards. All I could think about was that my life was over.

Kimberly cleared her throat, “It seems our Jessica likes to write poetry. We’d thought we share an interesting little piece that shows a bit of Jessica’s loft life or lack thereof perhaps.”

She read:

The wings of my heart used to fly free until I saw you.

Until the first time I truly saw you.

I watch you at dawn, at noon, at dusk, at midnight.

I’ve seen you sleep.

I’ve heard you laugh.

I’ve watched you smile.

You captured my heart without even knowing it.

I think will she notice me today?

I think will she notice she holds my heart?

Will you notice my heart no longer flies free?

Will you notice it is your eyes that keep me pinned to the ground?

I care not that people say it is wrong,

Wrong for me to love a woman.

Wrong for me to love at all.

All I want is what’s coming to me.

And I want you.

I can love with all my heart.

It’s just that it no longer flies free

Because you are the one who has captured it.

There wasn’t a sound when she stopped reading. Nobody spoke a word. I don’t know if they were shocked that I, an assumed stupid joke, wrote it or that I wrote it about a woman. I had written I didn’t care about what other people thought but I hadn’t realized I was going to be kicked out of the closet in front of the entire school.

My vision was almost black and I knew that every spare red blood cell had pooled to my face. I imagine my face was a shining red. I couldn’t look at Jennifer, who the poem was about, or Ender. I couldn’t look at my own sister in fear I might kill her in the rage filling up inside of me.

Then I heard someone shout, “Hey! Jess is a dyke! She’s one of those queers!”

Another shouted, “Of course stupid! She’s on the softball team!”

Others counted to shout. Perhaps they were slurs or encouragement, I’m not sure. I don’t quite remember. I started moving towards the cheerleaders before I realized what I was doing. Everybody fell silent as I stormed up to Kimberly. She looked scared for the first time and she backed up a step when I stepped up towards her. I snatched my notebook and microphone out of her hands.

I said, loud and clear into the microphone, “Yes, I’m a lesbian. Or dyke or carpet muncher, queer, lesbo, or whatever you feel comfortable saying. Nice chatting with you.”

I dropped the mike and started walking away. I stopped to look at my sister who was standing beside Kris. Both looked ashamed and a little fearful.

“I’m ashamed to call you my sister,” I muttered to Taylor before walking out of the buzzing gym.

I kept walking until I was outside in the parking lot then I broke into a run for my Jeep. I was so shaken up that I couldn’t put the key into the lock. My hands were shaking and my eyes were blurred with tears.

I jerked as a warm hand covered mine and took the keys. Jennifer said, softly, “Let me.”

She unlocked the door for me while I stood there trying not to cry. She helped me in and went around to get in the passenger seat. She handed me the keys once inside and I took them with a shaky hand. Taking a deep breath, I started the Jeep. I had to get out of there and she didn’t seem to mind leaving.

I didn’t want to be around anyone, especially the girl I had a crush on. However, I started the Jeep and drove out of the parking lot. Embarrassed, betrayed, humiliated, angry, hatred. None of those words could quite describe what I was feeling but they were the closest I could get to it.

I drove automatically and Jennifer remained quiet. I drove for over thirty minutes to a private lake that was owned by one of my dad’s friends. I parked by its side and stared out at the water. I then closed my eyes and leaned my head against the steering wheel. Life looked very grim at that point.

“I like the poem, Jess.”

I jerked, startled. I had forgotten she was there. I couldn’t meet her eyes because I was afraid of what I might see. Damn Morison eyes.

She said, soothingly, “I’m sorry that it was used to hurt you because it was a very nice poem. You have talent.”

“It was about a woman,” I managed to choke out.

“It doesn’t matter. I think that’s why I liked it so much. It’s okay to be gay. That’s shouldn’t have happened though. Everybody shouldn’t have found out like that and they had no right to out you. It’s supposed to be your choice.”

I couldn’t help but laugh weakly. She was being serious and kind, and I just laughed. She gave me an incredulous look.

“Jennifer, it’s a little late but I’m gay.”

She replied easily, “That’s okay. I’m gay too.”

My head spun as I managed to meet her eyes for the first time. She was being serious. I imagined I did my best imitation of a fish for several minutes before I said, “Cool.”

I couldn’t believe I had just said ‘cool’. I was such a moron.

“Yeah, cool,” Jennifer said with a wisp of a smile.

She then asked, “Will your parents be okay with it?”

“I think so. Lily’s gay too you know?”

“Really?” She asked, surprised.

I nodded, “She came out last year. I guess it was something about college that brought it out. They put up a little fuss, but only for a few minutes. They said they were okay with it. I think they’ll be okay with me being gay but you never know how they’ll react to having two queer daughters. I think Mom has already guessed, though.”

“I’ve told my mom and dad,” Jennifer confessed, “I think they’re just glad they don’t have to worry about me getting pregnant like they worried about with Claire.”

I laughed, “That is a plus. You know the whole school knows about it now. In an hour or so the whole town will. I don’t mind them knowing. I just…”

I paused and finished quietly, “I wish it hadn’t been like that. I feel violated.”

Jennifer took my hand in hers and rubbed her thumb across the back of my hand. She said, almost shyly, “Can I ask you a question?”

“You just did,” I said, trying to be funny but feeling suddenly lightheaded.

“Can I ask you two questions?”

“Yeah but I might not answer,” I said, suddenly very nervous.

“Who was the woman you were writing about?”

Silence filled the Jeep. She started to pull her hand away, “I’m sorry. It wasn’t right of me to ask.”

I didn’t know what to do. If she shot me down, it would be a terrible ending to a terrible day. Yet somewhere in the back of my heart I had faith. Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to.

I gripped her hand tighter and whispered, “You. I was writing about you.”

Her green eyes met mine, “Really?”

I nodded, unable to speak.

“I do notice you,” She whispered as she leaned in to kiss me.

Time stood still or perhaps it flew by. Seconds, days, months. They all seemed to pass by in that instant. It was only a short, sweet kiss but it was my first and it was incredible.

We smiled as it ended. We ended up talking for hours, sharing kisses and holding hands the entire time. We talked about when we first realized we were gay.

Jennifer said, “I realized last summer. It was when I went away to the Political Science Summer Convention. I shared a room with this girl and she was smart, funny and cute. We got to be close and then we got really close. We ended things after that. I don’t know why. I prefer to blame Congress. All I knew is that girls were for me after that.”

Jennifer was blushing now and even though I was jealous of the unnamed girl, I couldn’t help but tease her, “So when you say you got really close, how close…”

Jennifer swatted my arm and grinned, “You don’t need to know all the details yet. I’m sure that’s material for another date.”

I was thrilled that she thought we would be dating, “So does this mean? I mean…are we…I like you Jennifer,” I finished lamely.

“I like you too, Jess. I don’t care what people think in town or at the school. If you’re trying to ask me on a date then the answer’s yes.”

I beamed, “You would?”

She nodded with a smile and I asked, “Will you go out with me, Jen?”

She said yes and suddenly my terrible day turned into a great day. I kissed her because I could. With plans to take her out Friday night after my game, we drove back to the high school so she could pick up her car.

Jennifer muttered darkly as we drove back, “I’m going to kick Kris’s ass.”

“For me or for Ender?” I asked, amused that someone was sticking for me.

She smiled, “Both perhaps.”

Jennifer then said, serious, “What are you going to do about Taylor? I saw you say something to her and your eyes were so dark when you left the gym.”

I didn’t want to think about Taylor. She had betrayed me.

I shrugged, “I told her I was ashamed to call her my sister. Kris used a picture of Ender. Everybody has funny pictures but Taylor stole my journal. She got me kicked out of the closet in front of the whole school. I wasn’t necessarily hiding but…she betrayed me. Even if she didn’t know what was in my journal, she had no right to take it, read it, or give it to them. I don’t know when I’ll be able to forgive her.”

Jennifer said nothing but stroked my arm as we drove. I dropped her off near her car, school having been long let out. She wrote her house number on my hand even though we both knew I already knew it. I grinned, “1-800-SPANK ME.  I know that number.”

She elbowed me and then gave me one kiss before exiting the vehicle. I drove home wondering what to say when I got there.

Mom, Dad, and Taylor were waiting in the living room when I got home. I leaned against the doorjamb, ignoring Taylor’s desperate looks asking for forgiveness, “So I take it you heard what happened?”

Mom nodded, flashing a glare at Taylor, “Yes. I know you girls have had your differences, but even your sister agrees they went too far this time. Taylor had no right to take your journal.”

“Well, she did and that’s over with. I guess you should know that I’m gay.”

I may have seemed cool and calm to them when I said that, but I was actually scared out of my mind. I didn’t know what I would have done if they hadn’t accepted my confession. Luckily, I didn’t have to find out.

Mom said, her voice kind, “Honey, that doesn’t mean a thing to us. We still love you.”

Dad nodded and kept reading his newspaper. He dealt with things best by just accepting it and distracting himself while Mom took care of it.

“I love you both too. I’m going upstairs now,” I said, relief filling my every bone. I turned to go but paused, “I think you should know that I’m going out with Jennifer after the game Friday.”

Mom waved her hand dismissively,” That’s okay, honey. Go have fun with your friends.”

I gave a threadbare smile, “No, Mom. I mean I’m really going out with Jennifer Friday night.”

The news was so surprising that Dad put down his newspaper. Taylor let out a gasp, but I was ignoring her. Mom opened her mouth and then closed it again, “That’s okay, dear. Have a good time.”

I went upstairs to the attic. I closed my door behind me and locked it as I heard somebody following me up the stairs. I knew it was Taylor and I didn’t want to talk to her. She knocked on the door and called out to me. I ignored her and put on my headphones to block her out. After a while I assume she went away. I took my journal and looked over it, seeing what they had done to it.

They had marked the pages in colored markers. They wrote nasty comments, circling parts. On the page that contained the poem they read, they had written comments like ‘Dyke’ and ‘Sucks’.

My journal had been defiled and I tossed it across the room. My mind was spinning from the twist of going from a horrible day to a great day.

After a while I took off my headphones and opened my window. I leaned out of it and I could hear shouting. I turned my head to look at the Morison’s house and it seemed like all three sisters were going at it. I wondered who would win.

The next day I walked into school holding Jennifer’s hand much to the cheerleaders’ dismay. Especially Kris’s, since apparently Jennifer had told all of her family about dating me but had ‘forgotten’ to mention it to Kris.

People talked about me all day. I was surprised to find I didn’t care as much as I thought I would. Coach Campbell didn’t ever talk about what happened in the gym but she did clap me on the back when she saw me.

I called a meeting with my team after practice was over to discuss what had happened. I started, “They snuck to a new low yesterday. Really low. But what can we expect? They’re cheerleaders. However, we’re not sinking to their level. You want revenge for what happened Friday then you do it on your own time. I refuse to recognize what they did as a hit against this team. It was personal just like they said. When we pull the wool over their eyes, and trust me we will, it’s going to be good fun. Now who has any ideas?”

After talking it out, we figured out what to do. During the next football game, we sat right in front of cheerleaders and blew spitballs at them. It was childish, but very funny. I shot one right between Kris’s eyes and Ender popped at least a dozen off at Taylor.

Ender held up her straw and fake blew the end of it as if it were a smoking gun. I laughed, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”

My first date with Jennifer happened that Friday. It was like most of the times we hung out, but we held hands and kissed every ten minutes like the new couple we were. There wasn’t much to do in our small town, but we had fun. I was so nervous but I soon relaxed. As first dates go, it was very good.

On the way home Jennifer poked me in the ribs. Since I was driving, I ordered, good-naturedly, “Stop.”

“Make me,” She ordered as she poked me again. I jerked, trying to avoid her tickling finger, “I’ll get you for this I swear.”

As we play fought in the car, I hadn’t realized I was starting to swerve on the road. Nor had I realized there was a cop behind me. That was until the blue and red lights went off.

“Crap,” I cursed as I started pulling over. Jennifer quieted and checked her seatbelt. I could tell she felt bad and I didn’t want our first date to end like this. I teased, “One of us is going to jail…well, it’s not gonna be me.”

Jennifer took me seriously, “We’re not going to jail, Jess, nor will you get a ticket. We’ll probably get a warning.”

I took her hand and said, “Hey, hey. Quit worrying. I’ve gotten tickets before. It’s no big.”

The police officer got out of his car and walked up to the window, which I rolled down. I said, trying to be respectful, “Hello, sir.”

You want a ticket, wiseguy?” The officer barked. I realized too late that the police officer was a woman who apparently didn’t like being called sir.

“I’m so sorry,” I quickly apologized, “It was dark and I…”

“License and registration,” She ordered.

I handed them over and she looked at them for a moment. She shined her flashlight in my face, “Have you been drinking?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Then why are you swerving like a drunk?”

“That’s my fault ma’am,” Jennifer said, leaning over. The police woman shined her light at Jennifer’s face and said, “Oh really?”

Jennifer nodded, “Yes ma’am. I tickled her and I wouldn’t stop when she asked me to.”

The officer gave Jennifer a cold stare, “I’m going to run your license.”

As soon as the woman was gone, Jennifer and I looked at each other. I laughed, “Well, I certainly won’t forget this date. I think she may kill us.”

“I think so too,” Jennifer said, looking in the rearview mirror at the cop’s lights.

To my everlasting surprise, I didn’t get a ticket that night. The officer came back, handed me my license, and warned us to drive safely. I think she was family and knew we were on a date. Jennifer and I still tease each other over that night.

My life remained good for the rest of the year. I aced all my classes and Jennifer and I were at second base and looking to steal home. Softball season and football season ended and our team and the squad dispersed. Each side gave half-hearted pranks after what happened in the gym. We put a goat in the locker room with them and they dyed our white uniforms pink.

There was a downside to school ending and that was Jennifer would be leaving. She was valedictorian of her class and had been accepted into Harvard. My girlfriend was going off to study law and Jennifer wanted to go into politics. I teased her by saying she was too nice to be a politician but I expected her to become nothing less than a Senator.

Jennifer and I knew our relationship was coming to an end. Later we would both agree it was more of a friendship with benefits. I liked Jennifer, found her attractive, and even loved her on some level but I wasn’t in love with her. I think if there had been another lesbian in the area that one of us had really liked we probably would have broken up sooner. Later in life I would realize my relationship with Jennifer spoiled me. I never had a good breakup after that.

We decided to go camping for our final time together as a couple. We would go camping as a couple but leave just as friends. We didn’t tell anybody we were planning to break up, just that we were going camping.

Our parents were reluctant to let us go, but they realized if we wanted to have sex that we didn’t have to go camping to do it. Trust me when I say neither of us had planned to have sex.

Kris was irate when she learned about our trip though I never did find out why. Ender and Taylor merely shook their heads at us. Taylor and I were talking again by that point. She left me a note saying she was sorry every day until I forgave her. It took a few months, but I finally did. After the 60th note, I went downstairs to the kitchen where she was eating breakfast with Mom while they walked some version of The Christmas Carol. Tiny Tim was talking when I walked into the kitchen, “God bless us everyone!”

I walked up behind Taylor and kissed the top of her head, “I forgive you, brat. Now stop with the notes already.”

I swatted her as she told Mom, “I knew she would forgive me if I annoyed her enough.”

So back to the camping story. Jennifer and I took a tent, two sleeping bags, and bags of random stuff. We drove to the private lake where we confessed our feelings to each other. We parked near the lake and spent a fun, sweaty hour putting up the tent. I had to actually chase her down to help me with the tent. When I said we should put it together first, she moved far away. I ordered, “Get back here.”

She ran, “I’m over here you big horse’s ass, come and get me before I call the police.”

I groaned but took off after her. Since I was more athletic I was able to catch up with her after a while. We wrestled briefly and I had to tickle her before she screamed she would help put the tent up.

The tent said it could sleep four which meant Jennifer and I would fit comfortably. One should always divide a tent’s sleep number by two to see how many it will really hold.

It started to get dark earlier than expected and I frowned up at the sky. The weather said it would be sunny with only a small chance of showers. I guess we got the small chance. Jennifer looked up with me and said, “We should probably get inside.”

She was right. We barely had time to get the stuff in the tent along with ourselves before it started raining. It was a soft steady rain that didn’t let up for hours.

I sighed, “So what should we do now?

Jennifer held up a finger as she rummaged in the bag she brought. She came up with a pack of cards, “What should we play?”

“Strip poker?” I asked, teasing.

She made me very nervous when she merely looked up and down my body as she pretended to consider my request. She smiled, “Some other time perhaps.”

I let out a sigh of relief and disappointment, “But there won’t be another time.”

I tried to tease but my words came out serious. There wouldn’t be another time and we both knew it.

She sighed, “I know. Should we talk?”

I shook my head, “Is there anything left to talk about? I mean we’ve had this conversation a dozen times now. Seriously, Jen, I’m not hurt or heartbroken. A little sad maybe. We both knew this wasn’t going to last. Still, I want you to know I’m glad you were my first girlfriend.”

Jennifer grinned, “How many people can say they broke off peacefully with their first girlfriend? And I’m glad you were my first girlfriend as well.”

“But that girl last year…”

Jennifer shrugged and said, “That was a brief thing. We didn’t date. You and I have dated. We’ve gone to dinner, held hands, seen movies, read books to each other, and made out. I think we can say a few years from now we were a very nice couple.”

We decided to play poker. To make the stakes more interesting I said, “Whoever loses a hand has to confess one secret that has to do with the other player.”

She raised a brow and agreed. I lost the first game and confessed, staring into her green eyes, “I’ve always loved the way your eyes look so soft. Like a grassy meadow in the wind or green Jell-O.”

“Green Jell-O,” Jennifer gasped before collapsing into a fit of giggles.

I pouted, “See if I ever try to be romantic with you again.”

She was still laughing as she dealt out the next hand. I won this one mainly because she couldn’t stop laughing. Jennifer thought about it for a moment and then purred, “I’ve always liked the way you look in your softball uniform.”

I flushed from desire, or self-consciousness, or perhaps both. I dealt and won the next hand. She grumbled playfully, “You’re cheating. I think if you tried you could become a very great writer.”

I flushed again. We continued to play for an hour, sharing small secrets. We stopped to eat snacks of chips and cookies. I said, while dumping the trash into a plastic bag, “Okay, this is for the grand championship. Loser has to tell a secret they would never in this lifetime or the next tell to the other person. Okay?”

She agreed and we played. I was feeling confident. I had a full house, queens over tens. I laid my cars down, grinning as if I had just won a gold medal. I’ll be darned if she didn’t lay down four aces.

I protested, “You cheated.”

She laughed, “Don’t be a baby. Now, tell me a dirty little secret that you would never tell me.”

“Come on,” She prompted as I kept pouting. I sighed and started muttering. She leaned forward, “Speak up.”

“I said I can see into your room through my window.

Jennifer swatted me, “I already knew that. You can also see into Kris’s better than you can into mine.”

“But I don’t set Lily’s old telescope pointing into Kris’s room. Much,” I added.

Jennifer gasped at my confession and I was sure she thought less of me. She caught me by surprise when she pushed me flat on my sleeping bag, straddling me, “You’ve watched me?”

I nodded, feeling ashamed, “Yes. But you kept the blinds closed most of the time.”

She didn’t move for several moments. I risked a look up into her eyes and she was staring at me, stunned. It wasn’t the anger or disgust I had feared. She seemed surprised that I watched her. She asked, shyly, “Did you like what you saw?”

Now it was my turn to be flabbergasted. I quickly switched our positions so that I was the one on top and I kissed her with every ounce of passion and desire I had for her. We broke apart several moments later and I said, brushing a strand of auburn hair from her eyes, “Jennifer, how can you not know how beautiful you are? You’re beautiful on the inside and especially on the out. I like to watch you when you are alone in your room and I like to watch you when you are standing beside me. Yes, I liked what I saw and I like what I see now.”

I kissed her again and she eagerly kissed me back. I moaned as she pushed her leg between my thighs. She buried her fingers in my short brown hair, pulling me firmly against her. She then pushed me away.

I sat up in confusion and worry. Those emotions faded as she joined me in sitting up, pulling off her tank top. Her bra soon joined her top. She tugged gently on the bottom of my shirt after giving me a few moments to stare at her in wonder. I quickly tossed off my t-shirt and bra and she pulled me back into a kiss. One, or both, of us moaned as our bare skin met, our breasts pressed up against each other. I let her take the lead since she knew more than I did.

The soft rain continued to drum on the roof of our tent as our shorts and underwear joined our other clothes. Nothing but the sounds of heavy breathing filled the air as we rubbed against each other until it was just too much. I came with Jennifer coming not long after me.

We made love all through the rain and into the night. I awoke in the morning with us both blissfully naked and in each other’s arms. She smiled shyly when she awoke and I kissed her again. We made love slowly and softly for the last time.

Was it the magical, perfect first time everybody imagines it to be? No. There was lots of fumbling and finding out what she liked and disliked. Still, we cared for each other and it felt nice. We packed everything up and with one last lingering kiss by the lakeside, my relationship with Jennifer ended.

Summer passed by quickly. I hung out mainly with Jennifer, Ender, or my other softball friends. Daniel had moved out of the garage during the middle of my junior year and into his own house. He was working on his teaching degree while working part-time at Bryon’s Auto Garage. Lily was finishing up her medical degree. JJ was about to begin a new job as an engineer and Alex was to start his second year at State.

What to say about my senior year? Nothing much really happened that sticks out in my memory. I stayed captain of the softball team and Kris became captain of the cheerleading squad. My senior year was mostly tame. My team won regionals again. Both sides eased up on the prank war. I had college to worry about anyway. I had decided to go to State as Alex and Claire had done.  I left the softball team to Ender and Taylor, of course, took the crown of head cheerleader. Kris followed my sister, Lily, to Yale where she, too, decided to study medicine. I pitied anybody who decided to be her patient.

State wasn’t that bad. I lived in the dorms with Alex, who was a junior in the criminology program. I had to share a room with another woman for the first time in a long time. Bella Towson and I didn’t think we would get along at first. She was a deeply religious Baptist from the South and I was a queer mountain hick. She was always saying profound quotes and her trademark line was, “Keep it holy.”

There isn’t much I can say about my first year at State. I finished up my core classes and finally settled on trying to major in Business Management while taking writing classes as my electives. I played on the softball team at the college for a year but then quit to concentrate on my classes.

I took a quick break for summer at home where Ender and Taylor had graduated still hating each other with a passion. Both decided to go to the community college like Daniel. Taylor wanted to be a registered nurse. Ender didn’t have a clue what she wanted to do but she knew she had to go. Ender’s parents were surprised and disappointed when Ender didn’t go to Harvard, Yale, or even State like her sisters had. Ender hadn’t wanted to go to college and she wasn’t like her sisters.

I finished up my second year and Alex graduated from State. He was going straight into the police academy. Lily was now an intern and JJ had a good engineering job in Boston, near Lily and also relatively close to Jennifer and Kris. Daniel now had his teaching degree and was trying his hand at fifth graders.

Taylor was doing well at college while Ender had dropped out. She had switched to a technical college, learning to be a mechanic so she could work at Bryon’s Garage that had an opening since Daniel started teaching. Her parents were stunned and after several shouting matches they relented.

When I say nothing much happened in college I’m being truthful. Nothing much happened that most college students didn’t go through. I admit I went to several parties, drank more than a few alcoholic beverages, and enjoyed a few women. I did not try drugs. Remember, I had an older brother who wanted to be a cop watching over my shoulder.

I remember the first time I got drunk. It had been at some sorority party and I stumbled back to my dorm room. I collapsed onto my bed and gave a heavy sigh. Bella gave me a look, “I take it you had fun.”

I nodded as best I could. I spied the bag of bread that I had by my bed which I used for sandwiches and grabbed it. I struggled to get it untied for a few minutes before I got it open. Then I stuck a piece of bread in my mouth and lazily chewed. I moaned because it was delicious to my drunken mind.

My roommate said, amused, “Man shall not live by bread alone.”

“Man didn’t have this bread back in the day of Jesus,” I retorted around the bread pieces in my mouth.

She chuckled and watched me from her desk. Once I satisfied myself with bread, I dropped it on the floor. Then I tried to take my shoes off, which turned out not to be possible for my inebriated mind.

“Help me,” I whined.

Ask and it shall be given to you,” Bella sighed as she stood up and helped me take off my shoes.

“Thank you. I’m a sleep-sleep now,” I slurred.

“Well, keep it holy,” She said.

I will lie down and sleep in peace,” I said in retort to her trademark line. Or at least I tried to say that. Bella swore the next day I just grumbled in a different language.

I wasn’t interested in one night stands, but I always seemed to pick up some woman or they picked me up. The first woman to pick me up was at a frat party and she was a junior to my freshman. I learned the concept of safe sex from her, showing me how to use dental dams. They’re not really fun, but its good practice. Bella laughed when I told her about it, “Plans fail for lack of counsel.”

The next woman I slept with was a woman I had been dating a month. We got carried away one night when her roommate was out of town. I didn’t practice safe sex with her because I thought I knew her. A week later I learned she was sleeping with half a dozen women and men on the side. I broke up with her and had to swallow a lot of disgust to be tested for STD’s. Luckily, I was clean. Bella was also thankful I was clean, “Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

So with a few more one night stands under my belt and two girlfriends, the longest lasting 5 months, I reached my junior year. I was doing very well in business management. I was thinking of going back home to work. There were several lumber companies in the mountains and always a few rich people looking to build a big and expensive house.

During my last year at State I swore off all one night stands. I especially swore off having sex with a woman whose name I didn’t know. I suppose you should hear of this tale. It was Halloween and one of my college buddies knew someone who was throwing a masquerade party and she took me along as a guest.

Her exact words were, “Gay masquerade party. Can I persuade you to go?”

I replied, “I am persuaded.”

I went as a knight. No jokes, please. Bella already teased me to no end about it, “Put on the whole armor. I want to see how handsome you’ll look, sir knight.”

I stuck my tongue out at her and Bella said, never one to miss a beat, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

I rolled my eyes, “You’re also straight so you’re getting none of this. Plus I don’t think your boyfriend would approve.”

“Ah, Jason,” Bella sighed, happily, “I am my beloved and my beloved is mine.”

So after I pretended to vomit, I put on my costume. I had a realistic, plastic armor chest plate and a wooden sword. I wore a dark cape and black cotton jeans. Then I placed a black cloth mask to cover my eyes.

I think my jaw unhinged when my friend took us to the party. It was in a mansion. I gasped, “Your friend must be loaded.”

My friend shrugged and once inside I didn’t see her again for the rest of the night. I prayed my costume didn’t look cheap and I was pleasantly surprised to find other guests’ costumes ranging from expensive costumes to some just wearing goggles.

 I wandered around the ballroom where the main party was happening, chatting with some people. It was a great party but with no companion or friend, it was rather lonesome. I stood near the bar watching others with a drink in my hand. I was pleased by the free bar. I watched a woman in a golden eye-mask and a stunning emerald silk gown stroll up to the bar and order a glass of wine. Her body was to die for and I’m surprised my look didn’t melt her dress off of her.

She caught me looking. I fought back a blush and gave her a smile somewhere between sheepish and charming. I stood still as she looked me over from head to toe lingering on certain parts of me. I took the time to admire her in her gown which hugged tight in the right places. I noted she had wavy, golden brown hair and her eyes looked hazel with the golden mask framing them.

She took her wine glass and glided towards me. My desire heightened with each step that brought her closer to me. She stopped a few feet from me and looked me over once again.

She asked, her voice sultry, “Are you here with someone?”

She got straight to the point. I shook my head, my eyes never leaving hers. I asked, my voice flushed with desire as well, “Are you?”

She shook her head. I asked, “Would you care for a dance?”

She drained her glass before placing it on the bar and then put her hand in mine. I led her out onto the dance floor where we were blessed with a slow song. We pressed close to each other dancing slowly. She said, “You dance well, Sir Knight.”

I grinned, willing to play the game, “It must be you, my lady.”

We danced some more and before long we were kissing. I don’t know if it was the drinks I had or the mystery of our masks, but I was getting really turned on.

She asked, moving her mouth to my ear, “Would it offend you if I said I want you to fuck me?”

I couldn’t stop the shiver that went through me, “Not at all. I want to rip this gown off of you and see if your skin is softer than the material you’re wearing.”

She took my hand and led me off the dance floor, “Come with me then, my knight.”

“Anywhere, my lady,” I pledged.

She led me through the house and up the stairs, into some room. My lady locked the door and walked over to the bed. She replied to my curious look, “The hostess is a friend of mine. She won’t mind us using a room.”

She kissed me hard. I growled and pushed her back against the wall. I pinned one of her wrists to the wall and used my other hand to start pulling her gown up. Her free hand was on my neck, pulling me into a harder and deeper kiss.

Once I had her gown up to her waist, I released her other wrist and pulled away from the kiss to look at her. I growled while running my hands through her curls, which I noted were a different color than the hair on her head, “You’re a naughty girl. Coming to a party without panties. I might have to punish you, my lady.”

 She gasped as I slipped inside of her, “Take me. Fuck me.”

“Long and hard. I can do all things,” I promised.

The rest of the night was a blur of several sexual acts. We didn’t stop for a moment to think about protection. Well, we did in a way. When she produced a strap-on from the bedside table we put a condom over it. I muttered while sliding it along her opening, lubricating it up to go deep inside of her, “You do come prepared.”

She gave a breathless laugh, “It’s not mine. My friend mentioned it when she gave me permission to use the room. The rich come prepared and have all sorts of secrets.”

We both groaned as I slipped inside of her.

“Nice, dirty, fun secrets.”

There was one thing we didn’t do that night. We didn’t take off our masks. It was a night of mystery.

I awoke with my arms around my unnamed, masked woman. She still had her mask on and I was surprised to find mine still on. You would think it would have fallen off sometime while we were thrashing around.

She awoke a few minutes after me and stretched. She sat up, unmindful she was naked, and said, “Good morning.”

I sat up as well, figuring it was stupid to be shy after all we had done through the night. I looked around and said when I spotted the clock, “It’s 11:30.”

She looked surprised, from what I could tell behind her mask. She frowned while looking at me, “I can’t believe your mask is still on.”

I shrugged, “So is yours.”

She touched her face and found it still on. She laughed, “It’s probably imprinted on there by now.”

“Can I ask you something?” She asked me, suddenly serious. I nodded and she asked, “Would you like to go out for coffee sometime?”

“Sure, my lady. I suppose we should exchange names and unveil our faces first.”

She smiled, “I suppose so. Shall we?”

She lowered her head to untie her mask and I did the same. We should have never have done that. We should have left it as a night of mysterious sex. Whoever said ‘The truth shall set you free.” was lying. Still, it would all lead me to my future. When I met her green eyes I felt all the blood drain out of my face. She turned equally pale.

“Jessica?” She gasped.


With that we both dove for cover. I rolled out of the bed to find my pants and she dove under the sheets since I had kept my promise about ripping off her gown last night. I managed to get my pants and undershirt on. It was inside out but I didn’t care at that point.

We both stared at each other in plain and utter shock. I ran a hand through my unruly hair, “Jesus Christ, I just slept with Claire Morison.”

“I just slept with Lily’s little sister.”

“I have a name,” I snapped. I hadn’t referred her as ‘the woman who I hate the most in the world’s sister’ or ‘my ex-girlfriend’s sister’. Though all I kept thinking was I had slept with Kris’s sister. I wondered, briefly, why I had thought of Kris and not Jen.

I started fumbling around, looking for my boots. Claire said, almost shyly, “Jess, I would prefer my family didn’t learn of this.”

I shot her a look of annoyance, “Like I want either of our families to know about what happened last night. I would never hear the end of it.”

“It’s not about last night.” She amended, “Well, not just about last night. They don’t know I’m a lesbian.”

I stood up straight, one boot on, as it hit me. The last I had heard of Claire, she was working in an art gallery and seeing a decent man. I gasped, “You’re still in the closet?”

She looked annoyed and angry, “Not exactly. I’m out here in the city. I just don’t want my family to know.”

“But why?” I asked, stupefied.

“They wouldn’t understand and I don’t know how to tell them.”

I had to sit down. The floor did just fine. She looked at me in half amusement and half frustration. I exclaimed, “Claire, where the fuck have you been the last few years? Do you keep in touch with your family at all?”

“What?” She snapped. I shook my head in disbelief, “Jesus Christ, woman. Claire, Jennifer has been out since high school. She was my first girlfriend.”

I knocked her senseless with my statement. She replied, weakly, “Really?”

I nodded firmly. “And they’re okay with it?”

I nodded again. She put her hands in her head and groaned, “I can’t believe my little sister came out before I did.”

I said, finding delight in tormenting her, “I suppose this is a bad time to tell you Ender sent me an e-mail a few months ago saying she had told your parents that she was a lesbian. She said they took it easier than they did about her quitting college to become a mechanic.”

She groaned again, burying her head deeper in her hands, “And Kris?”

I exclaimed, shocked and revolted, “How should I know? I don’t keep up with the Devil’s sexual preferences.”

She started to laugh and I joined her. She teased, “I didn’t ask about Lily, Jess. I was asking about Kris.”

I grinned from ear to ear and said, “Lily’s gay. She came out to our parents when she was 22. She’s a surgeon by the way, if you’re curious.”

“Oh my God,” She replied, “She’s cutting into people? Please tell me they make her use a rubber scalpel.”

Be joyful in hope,” I laughed. She still disliked Lily as I still disliked Kris. I hadn’t even seen her in four years, but I still considered Kris my mortal enemy. Claire obviously felt the same about Lily even though it had to be at least a decade since they had seen each other.

I retorted, “Well, that alien you call your sister is trying to be a doctor as well. I pity anybody who becomes her patient.”

She merely laughed. I said, teasing, as I searched the room for something she should wear, “You know what? I think Lily might have liked you.”

She looked at me in pure disbelief.

“What makes you think that?”

I shrugged while opening up the chest of drawers that was in the room. Claire had been right. The rich came prepared. There were several sets of clothes in the drawer. I pulled out a pair of sweats and a t-shirt that looked like it would fit her, “I think that because I moved into her old room when she moved out. She left me her old telescope. Playing around with it, I noticed I could get a good look into your old room and Jennifer’s. Then I remembered upon several occasions when I had gone into Lily’s room it hadn’t been pointed at the stars.”

All she could do was gape at me. She finally protested, “She was probably just spying on me.”

I shrugged, “Maybe. But, like Kris, I recall that you never closed your blinds. I bet she caught a glimpse or two of you in a compromising position.”

She growled, “That little voyeur, and the same goes for you. Did you spy on my sisters?”

I rolled my eyes, “You know if you looked at Medusa you turned into stone. As for Jennifer, I confess to it. Runs in the family I guess.”

I handed her the clothes and let her get dressed. When we walked out of the mansion I was surprised to have turned out our night of wild sex into a friendship. We did go for coffee but as friends. We still tease each other endlessly about that night. We also went home for Christmas together, where she told her parents she was gay. They didn’t have a problem with it but they were beginning to wonder if they had raised a lesbian household.

Their suspicions were confirmed when Kris came home a few days after Claire and I on Lily’s arm. I guess I should start near the beginning of that tale.

Our parents decided on a party at the Morison’s house since everybody was getting along so well. We had eggnog and appetizers.

Daniel came with his fiancé, who was a teacher herself. To my surprise Taylor, now a RN at the local hospital spent the night not arguing with Ender. It was almost like she was avoiding her. They didn’t share one snide remark. I asked Claire and Jennifer, who had arrived earlier that morning in a nifty suit, “Do you think it’s a Christmas truce or something?”

Jennifer shrugged, “Maybe you and Claire should adopt the same vow and leave Kris and Lily alone when they come home.”

It was weird. All day she kept telling us not to start anything with Kris and Lily. Over and over again. I knew my ex was up to something but I didn’t know what. Since she was hiding something, I didn’t tell her about what had happened with Claire and me. We told everybody we had met in a coffee shop and just started talking like old friends that we weren’t. They bought it though I think our family lawyer Jen had other ideas.

Taylor and I were talking to Daniel’s wife-to-be, Kyla, who we were really starting to like. Claire and Daniel were talking about some painter he liked and Ender and Jennifer were quietly talking in one corner of the room. I heard Jennifer say to Ender, “Don’t be afraid, just believe.

“But what if…” Ender started. Jennifer interrupted her, “Be strong and courageous. Everything will be fine.”

A knock came at the Morison’s door and Jennifer rushed to get it before anybody could move.

“Got a hot date coming, Jen?” I called. She ignored me and got the door. A minute later she came back into the room accompanied by Lily and Kris, who were holding hands. An uncomfortable silence fell over the room.

Mary Morison asked, “Do you have something to tell me, Kristina Catherine Morison?”

Kris actually squirmed under her mother’s pointed glare and at the use of her full name. She fidgeted, “Well, you didn’t mind when Jennifer and Ender told you or when Jennifer and Jessica dated.”

Thank God some things never changed. She sneered out my name with our old hatred.

Mary sighed, exasperated, “I’ve raised four lesbian daughters.”

 “Four?” Kris gasped, looking at Claire. Lily laughed, “Late bloomer?”

Claire gave them an evil glare, “You’re dating that?”

I found my voice and said, sneering at Kris, “Claire, honey, don’t talk about your sister like that. It’s Christmas.”

I heard Mary mutter, “I asked God for a daughter when I was pregnant with Claire. He will give you the desires of your heart. God sure does have a sense of humor.”

Our parents retired to the kitchen. So much for their families getting along, I’m sure they thought. Daniel and Kyla had the sense to join them. Taylor, Jennifer, and Ender didn’t move.

Kris and Lily’s eyes grew large at me calling Claire ‘honey’. I hadn’t meant it that way. You remember Bella? Well, after living with her so long I took on some of her southern accent. I had started saying terms of endearment easily such as calling people honey, darling, doll, and dear.

 “You’re dating?” Kris shouted. Claire snapped before I could deny it, “Yes.”

I flashed Claire a look of surprise but kept it well hidden. I wouldn’t meet Jennifer’s eyes because I knew she would see the truth when the others couldn’t.

To prove it Claire turned and called into the kitchen, “Mom, Dad, Mr. and Mrs. Knight, I like Jess and have been seeing her since Halloween. Is that alright?”

Our Moms called out tired acceptances. Lily shouted at Claire, gesturing wildly, “She’s seven years younger than you, cradle robber!”

I snapped, “Don’t even try and use that piece of crap, Lily. You’re seven years older than Doctor Cheerleader over there.”

“Like keeping it in the family, don’t you?” Kris baited me. She was one to talk of course since she had dated Alex and later I would find out she slept with Taylor.

Claire warned, “Don’t laugh, Captain Daffodil. You must like something in this family because you spied on me though my window for years. Like what you saw did you?”

Captain Daffodil was the nickname Lily had back in high school given to her by Claire.

Lily paled and then reddened at Claire’s words. She was busted. Claire went into a stunned silence. She hadn’t believed Lily had spied on her.

I saw Taylor giving each one of us a long, inspecting look before her gaze settled on Ender. Taylor called out, “Mom…”

Mom interrupted, tired and a little annoyed, and said, “Yes, Taylor, it’s okay if you’re a lesbian. And if you’re in love with a Morison girl then that’s okay too. You have my blessing.”

Everybody in the kitchen laughed. We might have too if we hadn’t seen the serious expression on Taylor’s face.

She called out, half telling her mom and half telling us, “Thanks Mom. I’m in love with Ender. I have been for some time now. We were fighting the other day and I couldn’t help but kiss her because she looks so damn beautiful when she’s angry. She kissed me back. Thanks for saying its okay. I love her, I really do.”

Part 2

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