For complete disclaimers see part 1.

Note: If you haven’t seen the movie "Boys On the Side", this part does contain spoilers for it.

If you’d like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am, or that I royally suck, feel free at:



Kim Pritekel & Alexa Hoffman

(combined) Part 7 & 8

"Come on, Andi. Just listen. Please?" I looked at her, those blue eyes that had been beckoning me for months now, that full lower lip sticking out in a pout. I stared at the lower lip, then up to the eyes again, and finally nodded. How on earth could I possible refuse that? "Yay!" Haley clapped her hands together, slid the CD into the player, and pushed play.

"So, what is this again?" I picked up the jewel case and turned it over, reading the song titles.

"This is called ‘A Little Bit of Heaven’."

"She’s kind of cute," I said absently.

"Who, Linda Eder?" Haley asked, pointing to the CD in my hand. Realizing what I’d said, I slowly looked up at her to see she was smirking.


"Good. I think she is, too. Her voice, though. That’s what I fell in love with. And," she took the CD case out of my hand, "she’s a Minnesota native."

"Wow. That’s cool. So how did you hear about this chick?" I laid back on the floor, staring up at the ceiling in Haley’s basement. We were coming off of Spring Break, our last official day before the weekend where we’d be getting ready to go back.

"I first heard her on my ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ soundtrack. God, I love that show." She sighed, eyes staring off into space as she thought back.

"I’ve never heard music from a musical before, and don’t really care to."

"Andrea Littman! I’m surprised at you." I glared at her for using my full name. She hit play on the stereo then laid next to me, her leaning on her elbow, looking down at me. "Did you have fun this week?" she asked. I smiled and nodded.

"Oh, yeah. I had no idea I could spend so much time with one person, you know?" I looked at her to see she, too was smiling.

"Yeah, I know what you mean. I’m really glad I didn’t go with Kelly and her folks to ski."

"Yeah? Why?" I needed to hear what I hoped would be the answer.

"Well," she brushed some hair off my forehead with her fingertips, tickling my skin with the soft touch. "I wouldn’t have been able to spend so much time with you, now would I?" I shook my head. "You have such gorgeous hair, you know that?" Again I shook my head. "Well, you do." She looked at me for a few minutes more, my stomach roiling at the up-close attention.

Since my championship, we had become even more closer, impossibly so. Haley was so attentive to me, always talking with me, even in school she’d hunt me down from my usual isolated haunts, to chat or to give me a hug. I’ve even had to kick her out of my house so she could go out with Kelly. I had realized back in December that I had been very wrong, and didn’t want to put her in that kind of position again. She meant too much to me.

"So, what do you think?"


"Linda." Oh, yeah. I stopped thinking, and listened. The voice that came over the speakers was clear, powerful, yet feminine, sounding something between Barbra Steisand and Judy Garland, at least what I remember Judy Garland sounded like singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." The music was fast, lots of brass instruments, but it wasn’t as bad as I’d figured it would be. Classical music really wasn’t my forte, except maybe a few composers, like Beethoven. He was delightfully deep and dark and foreboding. My kind of guy.

"Well, it’s actually not that bad."

"Not that bad?" She hopped up to her feet, hands on her hips. "Listen to that angel!" She pointed at the stereo, her eyes closing as she began to sway to the music, which was almost like a tango, but jazzy. As Haley sang along, her body still moving, I sat up, grinning as I watched her dance around the room. "Come on! Up, up, up!" She grabbed my hand, yanking me off the floor, nearly slamming me into her as she pulled me over onto her make-shift dance floor.

I felt odd, not real sure what to do as I watched Haley move her body in ways I had no idea you could move your body. Her hips swiveling, arms waving in the air, her face lit up.

"Come on! Dance."

"Nah, that’s okay." I waved her off, turning to look at the couch.

"What? Why?" She moved so she was standing in front of me. "Dance."

"Eh, I don’t know how." She stopped moving, her brows drawn.


"I don’t dance." She stared at me, then a slow smile spread across her face, as she reached for me again, tugging at me. "No, Haley, no, no, ugh!"

"Okay, now just follow my lead." Haley began to really move as Linda sang higher and higher, the music coming to an absolutely insane pitch, which actually made me want to move, to glide, to follow Haley in a world all of my own making. But, I still didn’t know how. So, I watched her. She wore her flannel pants that she’d basically lived in over the last week, and a tank. I was converting her to the joys of the tank. The way they left you so free to do whatever, while still covering the finer points.

As she danced, it rode up showing her stomach, the smooth skin twisting and turning with the muscles underneath.

"Come on, stud. Eyes up here." I looked up to see Haley grinning at me, her hands behind her back as she wiggled her shoulders. I think I must have to turned the shade of red that matched her pants perfectly at being caught staring at her.

Damnit, Andi. You moron. That had been happening a lot, lately, and I couldn’t stop or explain it. But, in my defense, Haley didn’t seem to mind. The hell with it. I wanted to let go.

I jumped up in the air, letting the sudden burst of energy take me over, and flow through my body. I felt good, damn good. I was young, and didn’t need to act like I was too good for this.

"Yeah, go, girl!" Haley twirled, her feet tapping out the beat as she worked it, and worked it good. Her hips began to thrust out, her hands running up her sides, and on up to the air. I kept my body a little more compact, but still had a hell of a good time. "Tell me this isn’t fun?" she panted between moves. I nodded vigorously.

"I admit it. It’s a blast. Good workout, too." Haley rolled her eyes.

"Only you."

The song came to an end, and we both fell to the floor, a pair of tired, panting bodies.

"Wow. I love doing that." Haley rolled over to lie next to me, her head on my shoulder. I had never known someone who was so affectionate before. Even more so than my mother, and I just didn’t think that was possible. Before Haley, I had never hugged anyone outside my family before.

She pushed herself up and looked down at me. "Ready to play?" I nodded, an instant smile coming to my face. She hopped up, and helped me to my feet as we both headed to the piano. Early in the year, true to our word, we both had begun to teach the other our own special little talent. "Did you want to try and play that piece again?" She turned to look at me as she put the cover up on the piano as I grabbed the remote to turn off the stereo. Linda Eder was fun, but there was no way I was going to let her shake my already thin maestro confidence with her talent. "Sit." Haley patted the piano bench, and I obeyed, finding a comfy spot on the hard, smooth wood.

"No laughing this time, huh?" I looked up at Haley, who stood next to me. She smiled down at me.

"Okay. Fair enough. That means you can’t laugh when I try and flip you, either." She pointed a finger in my face, which I quickly batted away.

"Yeah, but,"

"No buts about it, missy. Fair is fair."

"Okay, okay." I stretched my fingers, shaking my hands to loosen them. Haley put the music in front of me.

"You remember the beginning, right?" I nodded.

"I think so. God, I suck at this."

"No, you don’t. You’ve actually learned faster than any other student I’ve ever had." I looked at her.

"You’ve taught before?" She nodded.

"For a little while I would go to the elementary school and teach the third graders. Unfortunately, it got to where I just didn’t have time for it anymore. You know, soccer and track, and everything."

"Oh." Learn something new everyday. Part of me was slightly bummed that I wasn’t the first person she had ever taught. It was stupid and irrational, but still in my head.

I studied the music for a moment, trying to get everything clear in my head, get into my head what all the notes were, and where they were on the keyboard, and then began to play. The song was easy enough, but I still hadn’t mastered the art of playing the piano quite enough to play at normal speed on some songs. Well, usually the first go-round. Haley was a wonderful teacher, patient and kind.

Sometimes during the time we spent together, I wondered how she was so popular, yet I totally understood. I mean, she was sweet, genuine, and gorgeous. Well, the gorgeous, yeah, I mean those pompous asses would pick her up in a heartbeat, but what about the rest? She wasn’t like her friends, wasn’t mean or got off on other people’s pain. Though to be honest and fair, I had yet to see anyone really do anything that shitty, other than Jimmy. And, well, we’d already established what a horse’s ass he was. One day at school Heather had even come up to me to thank me for driving her home those couple of times, and she had even remembered, or someone had told her, when I had helped her out on the side of the road when she’d been sick after Brad’s party.

That had meant a lot, though at the time I played it off. Perhaps there was a bit of snobbery in me too; after all, I hadn’t wanted anyone to see me talking with her. I wonder why that was? I had decided against giving it any serious thought, just in case I didn’t like what I would come up with.

Either way, Haley had come to mean a great deal to me in the months since we’d first become friends, and for the first time in my life, I cared about what someone else thought of me. If she didn’t like something about me, or that I had on, or that I did, I nearly killed myself to try and rectify it.

It scared me.

I closed my eyes as my fingers made their steady, yet slow, way across the keyboard. Even though the song wasn’t being played at full speed, I was really letting the sound get inside, fill me with a peace that nothing, other than Tae Kwon Do, had ever been able to do. Even my work at the lab failed to fill me with such a feeling of accomplishment. I was creating that music, it came from my work, my fingers.

That was a cool feeling. Totally satisfying.

I finished the song, my eyes slowly opening to find Haley leaning against the top of the piano, her cheek being held up by her hand, staring at me.

"What?" I suddenly felt extremely uncomfortable for some reason. I felt like I was being dissected where I sat. She shook her head.

"That was beautiful, Andi. I think you got it." She stood, that soft, gentle smile still on her lips. She almost looked wistful.

"Thanks. But I’m still not up to par, or speed, for that matter." I rubbed my hands together, my fingers not near used to that sort of workout, yet. Haley shook her head.

"Oh, no, I mean, yeah, you started off kind of slow, but you caught up in no time. You did a wonderful job." I could see the sincerity on her face, and hear it in her voice, and I was suddenly filled with joy. I had pleased her.

I smiled.

She glanced at the clock above the TV. "Well, want to start heading on over to your place? That storm is supposed to come in tonight, and I don’t want to get stuck in it."

"Haley, I live like ten minutes away." She looked at me, and shrugged.

"I know. But I want to get settled into your place for the weekend."

"Okay." I closed the piano cover, and stood, following Haley toward the basement stairs.

"Oh," she reached over to the stereo speaker, and grabbed the stack of CDs there. "I really want you to hear more of Linda’s stuff." I rolled my eyes.


Haley quickly stuffed clothes into her overnight bag so it bulged.

"My god, Haley. How long do you plan on staying?" I grinned, sitting on her bed.

"Well, you know, I figured I’d just move in with you." She glanced at me over her shoulder. "I mean, hell, we’ve been together every day for the last two months anyway, right?" She smiled with a wink. "I figure it’s going to be really, really cold this weekend, and if you’re mom is anything like mine, keeping the damn heat so low you feel like you’re about to freeze to death, I’d be prepared."

"Okay." I stood, and walked over to her dresser, seeing my Christmas gift to her displayed proudly on a little mirror. The blown glass piano with gold-tipped feet and bench, was beautiful, the lid of the grand held up by a tiny glass arm. Every key was accounted for, the black keys also tipped with gold.

"I love that, you know," I heard, said low in my ear. I could feel Haley’s body heat behind me. "That was the most beautiful, thoughtful gift I’ve ever received." I turned to look at her, seeing her eyes pinned on the tiny glass instrument in my hands.

"Thank you. I’m very glad. When I saw it, I immediately thought of you." I smiled sheepishly, feeling stupid for admitting it, but wanting her to know that my heart had been in the gift.

"I felt like a real schmuck, just getting you that book on Beanie Babies." She took the piano from me, looking at it.

"Why? I found some in there that I had always been looking for. Plus, you did buy me four babies from it." She shrugged, setting the glass figure carefully back onto its mirror.

"I guess."

"Come on, you. I love the book, and absolutely adore the beanies." She stared at me, her smile growing.

"Good. Come on." She tugged the bag’s strap over her shoulder, tossing her Koosh ball at me. "You can hold the sacred Koosh."

"Wow. I feel so honored."

As we headed out to my car, it had already started to snow, but only lightly. There really wasn’t any new accumulation on the ground.

"Must have just started." Haley stared up into the sky.

"Yeah. That’s what I was thinking, too." We climbed into the car, turning the heat on full-blast as the night was cold, bitter cold.

I pushed the button for the automatic garage opener, glad my car wasn’t going to have to sit out in the snow all night. They said the storm should blow out by the beginning of the week, so Haley and I had decided to just chill out at my place until Sunday, when she’d go home to get ready for school to start. Her last semester. I tried not to think about it, but I knew it was inevitable.

"What are you thinking about?" I turned to see Haley, the door open and her leg out, but staring at me. I just stared back, not completely hearing the question, my own mind screaming at me too loud. "Thoughts? You? Just now?"

"Oh." I turned the ignition off, and pulled my keys out. "You, graduating."

"I know. It’s coming." She turned to look at the garage wall ahead of us, a smile on her face as I imagined she thought about the end of her high school career. What a sweet thought. Kind of. Then the smile slowly melted away as she turned back to me. "Are you going to come?" I nodded.

"Of course." She smiled again.

"Good. I really want you there, Andi."

"I will be."

We got all of Haley’s stuff, and headed toward the inner door that would lead to the kitchen.

"Where’s mom?" I asked Chris, who sat at the small table, eating a sandwich. He had grown so much in the last six months, his voice now deep, full of teenage boy attitude. He was handsome, and even though I hated to admit it, looked a lot like our father.

"Work." He took a large gulp of his milk, then stuffed the rest of his dinner into his mouth.

"I thought she was supposed to be off tonight?" I was bummed. We had made plans to pop some popcorn, and her, Haley and I watch a movie together. My brother shrugged as he stood. He had gotten so tall, his body beginning to fill out from the lanky, scrawniness of a boy to the muscular, filled out, hairy body of a man. Almost overnight.

"That sucks." Haley muttered, heaving her heavy bag further up her shoulder. Haley and my mom were almost closer than my mom and I were. I was glad that they got along so well, though. If Haley was going to be here so often, it certainly made things easier.

"See you later, freak." Chris put his dishes in the dishwasher, and hurried out of the room.

"Where are you going in this weather, Chris?" He stopped at the bottom of the stairs.

"You must be kidding me if you think I want to spend the weekend with you guys. I’ll be at Brian’s." He hurried, noisily, up the stairs just as I head a car honk outside.

"Good. Get rid of him. Pain in the ass." I turned to Haley. "Well, want to try and find a good movie on, anyway?" She smiled and nodded.


* * *

The movie was coming to a close and Haley leaned against me, silently crying as her eyes were riveted to the screen. I wasn’t quite crying, as I was doing my damndest to hold it in. Robin was going to die soon, Holly finally getting out of jail and her and Abe getting married. Jane took care of Robin as she got more sick, the AIDS finally taking over.

As the movie came to an end, Jane finally deciding to go on to California after Robin’s death, Haley clung to me, her entire body shaking with her sobs, the bag of popcorn long forgotten.

I caressed her hair, not saying anything as my own tears welled up in my eyes. God, what a touching movie. ‘Boys On the Side’, who would have thought?

"She really loved her all along, didn’t she?" Haley hiccupped, pulling away to look at me. I nodded.

"Yeah, I guess so." I brushed some damp hair away from her eyes, smiled gently at her. "That movie really got to you, didn’t it?" She nodded, burrowing her face into my chest.

"I’ve never really liked Whoopie Goldberg until this movie," she mumbled, wrapped her arms tighter around me.

"Yeah." I stared at the screen as Melissa Etheridge sang ‘I’ll Take You With Me’ during the credits. I had never heard that song before, but then, I had only heard a few of hers.

"Oh, that was just so sad." She sat up, scrubbing at her eyes and nose with the cuff of her sweatshirt sleeve, then turned to me, all puffy-eyed. She was so adorable. "Can we bake?"

The smile froze on my face as I tried to compute the total change in subject. "Huh?"

"Baking. I really feel the need to bake." She rubbed her hands together, those ever-present wheels turning at full speed.

"Sure. I imagine we have a cake mix or something around here. Come on." I stood, figuring Haley would follow suit. I looked at her to see what the problem was.

"Robin will never be able to bake again." She looked up at me, her blue eyes almost electric, and certainly vibrant, from the crying.

"Aww," I reached down and grabbed her, pulling her up to her feet to take her into a hug. "It’s just a movie, Haley."

"I know." Sniff, sniff. "But somewhere out there, there really is a Robin."

"God, you’re adorable."


"Huh?" I stopped. Oh, shit. Had I said that out loud? "Well, I mean, you know, how literally you’re taking the movie, and stuff." She pulled away from me, a bright smile on her face.


"Sure. Baking?"

I glanced out the window next to the door as we made our way to the kitchen.

"Holy shit! Look at this, Haley." She came up beside me.

"Whoa." In the two hours we’d been downstairs, at least one and a half feet of snow had fallen, and it was still coming down. We looked at each other, then without a word, headed to the kitchen.

I looked through the cabinets, praying that there would be some sort of baking thing in there. I really didn’t want to try and start something from scratch.

"How about this?" I turned to see Haley kneeling in front of the Lazy Susan, reading the back of a Betty Crocker cake. Bingo!

"Great. What will we need?"

"Um," she turned the box over in her hand. "Looks like just three eggs, a cup and a third of water, and a half cup of vegetable oil."

"Check, check, and check. Let’s do it."

We worked together, getting all the ingredients we’d need, and a bowl, spoon, and measuring cups. I measured everything out as Haley stirred it all in. She stared into the mix, looking thoughtful.

"Do you think that Robin was gay all along?" She looked at me.

"From the movie?" She nodded, putting some muscle into her stirring as I had everything in that needed to be. "Well, I don’t know." I thought as I threw the egg shells into the trash, wiping my hands on my sweats. "I guess so. Maybe just a love, instead of a sexual thing, you know?"

"So, you don’t think had things been different that she and Jane would have slept together." I shook my head.

"No, not really."


"What about you?" Haley put her spoon down, and grabbed the can of Pam spray to grease the cake pan. "I’m not sure. I don’t really see them together in that way, either, but I don’t see anything wrong with it." Pan generously greased, just as the box instructed, she poured the mixed batter into it, and then carried it over to the oven as I hopped up onto the counter and watched. I was surprised by the addition to the conversation, but went with it.

"Neither do I. I mean, when that miniature golf chick was flirting with Whoopie Goldberg’s character, it didn’t bother me at all. I mean, go Jane." Haley hopped up on the counter next to the stove, and smiled at me.

"No kidding. I really liked Jane, but Robin, I thought she was really interesting. I think she would have driven me nuts, all her little quirks, but she was cool. Pretty, too. Who played her?"

"Mary-Louise Parker."

"And how do you know that?" Haley cocked her head to the side, a smile on her face. I shrugged. "I thought you don’t really follow movies that much?"

"I don’t, but I’ve liked her since I saw her in ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’."

"So that’s where I’ve seen her. Huh. I wondered." She grabbed the spoon from the mixing bowl, began to lick the batter off it. I watched, nearly drooling. I loved raw cake batter. Just like cookie dough. Yum. "Want some?" I nodded, she smiled. "Come and get it."

I hopped off the counter, my eyes on the spoon the entire time, watching as Haley’s tongue came out of her mouth, licking the tip of it until the metal was clean and shiny.

"Here." She drug her finger along the inside of the bowl until her entire index finger was covered in the batter. She held her hand out to me. I just stared at it, not sure what to do. "Come on, my finger is clean, really." But my thoughts weren’t.

I leaned in, and tentatively poked my tongue out, touching the very tip to the tip of Haley’s finger. She was grinning at me.

"It won’t bite, there, stud." I pulled away, glaring up at her. "Come on, you know you want it." I looked into her eyes that were narrowed, challenging. What are you doing, Haley? I took a step closer, my eyes still on hers. I felt the need to meet the challenge, even though I’m sure it was only me who was playing the game.

I opened my mouth and wrapped my lips around the offered finger, running my tongue up the full length, gathering the sweet, rich batter as it went. I took it slow, sure to get every single bit. Haley watched me, her eyes darting to my mouth, back to my eyes, and then back to her newly cleaned finger.

"Well, I guess you did want some."

* * *

We laid in the dark, the electric blanket on nearly high as it seemed the snow was seeping through every single nook and cranny. Well, the cold, anyway. I was tremendously glad to have Haley’s body heat next to me; I basked in it.

As I stared up into the dark ceiling, pulling the covers up closer around my chin.

"What would you do for a million dollars?" I asked, turning to look at where I knew Haley was laying. I heard her yawn quietly.

"Hmm. Let me think." She paused. "I’d blow the president."

"Haley!" She chuckled, reaching over under the covers to slap my leg.

"I’m only kidding. I guess I’d run naked through New York City."

"Really?" I turned so I was facing her, holding myself up on my elbow.

"Well, I guess I’d have to give that one more thought. I mean, a million bucks would certainly be nice, but, you know."

"Where would you stop?"

"I wouldn’t do anything that cost me or my family their dignity. You know? I wouldn’t sleep with anyone, or anything."

"So I take it any likelihood of a future career as a high-priced hooker is out, huh?" I asked, grinning.

"Why? Looking for some fun, big boy?" I could feel her eyes on me, though I couldn’t see any part of her. I had closed my blinds and curtains on the windows to keep as much cold out as possible.

"Ha ha." I could hear her low chuckle. "So you wouldn’t even kiss someone for that much money?"

"No. You?"

"Oh, God, no. I think it would take a lot more than money to make me kiss anyone after my experience."

"Did he hurt you, Andi? I mean, it was consensual, right?"

"Oh, yeah. He may have been a jerk, but he wasn’t a rapist."

"Oh, good. I would have had to go and cut off his dick, and I really didn’t want to go back out in the cold." I smiled, touched.

"You’d do that for me?"

"Oh, yeah. If anyone hurt you? Sure."

"So would I."

Again, I felt her eyes on me. "I know you would, Andi." We were quiet for a bit, listening to the snow outside. Such a strange sound. I don’t think people often realize that snow makes any sound, like rain is known for it. You always hear that in song lyrics, rain beating on the roof, or whatever. I liked the sound of snow, and knowing it was out there. It always made me feel safe, like I was blanketed in.

"If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you go?" I asked, rubbing my feet together, trying to warm them up.

"Where would I go. That’s a good question. I really haven’t been many places outside the US, other than Mexico and Spain."

"You’ve been to Spain?"

"Yup. Family trip when I was fifteen. I guess I’d have to say Australia or France."


"Well, Australia is beautiful, and I love the French language." I chuckled.

"That’s certainly an interesting reason to want to live in a country."

"Well, fine, then. What about you?"

"Canada sounds nice. I’d want to stay somewhere with this kind of weather."

"The cold and snow?" I nodded, then realized Haley couldn’t see me.


"Huh. Interesting." Another yawn filled the room, this one loud, meaning business.



"Me, too. Goodnight, Haley."

"Night, Andi."

* * *

I winced as I felt something crawling up my arm, but was too deeply entrenched in my world of darkness to really care. There it was again getting further up, now it was on my upper arm. My mind showed me this picture of a massive, hairy spider, come in from the cold. Its little eyes, all hundred of them, looking for a nice place on my skin to bite into, or to lay eggs.

With that thought, my eyes popped open, and my hand began to frantically swipe at the Jaws of spiders. Instead all I felt was rubber, and all I saw was a laughing Haley.

My hand on my chest as I got myself back under control, I glared at her.

"That was fucked up."

"I’m sorry." She laughed, trying to keep it in, but to absolutely no success whatsoever. "What was the deal? It’s was only this." She held up her Koosh. I looked at it, imagining the little, limp spines on my skin, and I glared up into Haley’s eyes again.

"That was still fucked up. I hate spiders."

Haley looked at her beloved Koosh, then at me. "You thought Frank, here, was a spider?" I didn’t answer. "Oh, Andi, I’m sorry. I was only playing with you. I wanted to wake you up." I didn’t dare want her to know that I was deathly afraid of the eight-legged little bastards. I would just have to shake this off. She grabbed me in a one armed hug. "I’m sorry."

"It’s okay." I smiled at her, then looked toward the window to see that the blinds and curtains had been opened.

"Oh, you will never believe this." She jumped off the bed, and pulled my by the hand to the window. I looked out to see a veritable North Pole. Everything was covered, and I do mean everything. The neighbors car across the street? No. There was only a radio antenna left of the little Honda.

"My god. Where did this come from?"

"I have no idea. I got up earlier to go to the bathroom, and this is what I saw. I bet you there’s over four feet out there."

"Oh, easily. Wow." The entire neighborhood was white, no color anywhere. I hadn’t seen anything like it in quite a few years.

"Maybe we should turn on a radio or TV. It’s still snowing."

"Shit, my mom." I hurried over to my phone, and dialed up the hospital. "Can I speak with Theresa Littman, please? Thanks." The receptionist put me on hold, where I got to listen to cheesy elevator music, warped versions of classics or pop hits. Haley began to get dressed, pulling on the warmest clothes she had.

"This is Theresa."

"Hey, mom."

"Hi, honey." She sounded so tired.

"Have you looked outside?"

"I haven’t had time. We’ve had car accidents coming in all morning, one guy has already died from freezing in his car. Honey, I have no idea how long I’ll be here, but I can’t imagine I’ll be home today, or maybe even tomorrow. Christine quitting really messed us up here."

"Okay. Well, I’d say you’re better off to just stay put, anyway. There’s like four feet out there, and it’s still coming down."

"Oh, jeez. Where’s Chris? Is he still at Brian’s?"

"Yeah. He left last night."

"Okay, honey. Do me a favor and call over there, tell him to stay there, please?" I could hear her being paged in the background. "Oh, I have to go. I love you, and you guys stay inside."

"Okay, mom. I love you, too. Be safe."

"I will. Bye." Before I even got a chance to tell her goodbye, the phone was dead.

"Is everything okay?" Haley asked, brushing out her hair. I hung the phone up.

"Yeah. They’re just really busy in the ER today. Some chick quit last week, so she’s probably stuck there for the weekend."

"Oh, wow."

"Well, I don’t know about you, but I am starving." I found a thick pair of sweats and sweatshirt, and pulled them on, freezing in the tank and shorts I had slept in. "Do you like eggs?"

"Oh, yeah." Haley said, following me downstairs. I searched until I found the eggs, a block of cheddar, and a package of turkey breast lunch meat. "Um, didn’t you say eggs?" she asked, leaning against the counter, watching me.

"Yup." Grabbing a knife from knife block, and began to cut up the meat, and shave off pieces of cheese. "How many?" I held up an egg.


I turned back to my cutting board.

"So, what do you want to do today?" Haley asked, coming over to stand by me, watching me.

"I’m not sure. I wouldn’t mind getting out into that stuff." I pointed toward the window above the sink with the knife.

"The snow?" I nodded with a silly grin. "You like to play in the snow?" Again the grin. "Oh, Andi, my hero! I love to play in the snow. I’m so excited." She clapped her hands together, walking over to the sliding glass door that led to the backyard, pushing the vertical blinds aside to look out. "Wow." She breathed. "I can’t believe we got so much."

"Hey, there’s a radio on top of the fridge. Switch it on, will you?"

"Sure." Haley turned it on, and all we got was static. "Hmm." She turned the tuner around, trying to find any station that would work. "Oh, here’s one."

"Yeah, if you understand Spanish."

"True." She continued to try and find something, anything. "Shit, Andi. Everything must be out."

"Try AM."


I looked at her, just as she turned to look at me. "Crap. We’re a bit isolated." She grinned at me, nodding.

"Yeah, I’d say so. Cool by me." She walked back over to me as I began to pour my creation into the skillet that I’d already put on the burner of the stove. "Oh, that smells good."

"It is good. Reach into the cabinet above the Lazy Susan, and grab two plates, will you?" She did as I asked, and I began to dish up breakfast.

* * *

"Are you sure we’re not going to freeze our asses off?"

"No, I’m not sure. But we’ll have fun doing it," Haley said, zipping her coat, which clashed mightily with the flannel pants she wore, and tennis shoes. Her feet were much too large for any hiking boots I might own, so we had to make due. "Ready?"

"Yup." We both pushed together to open the screen door against the massive weight of the built-up snow. "Damn. It’s not budging."

"Yeah. We may have to go out through the garage door."

"One more push; we’ll have to open this door at some point, anyway."

"Okay. On three. One, two, push!" We put all we had into it, our feet digging into the rug that covered the tile of the entryway, the material bunching up under us, making us slide.

"Yeah, no. This isn’t going to cut it."



The garage opened with much protest, as the mechanical parts were near frozen.

"My god, look at that." There was a wall of snow all along where the door had once been, five feet high and higher in some places. "Hey, I could make a tunnel through that." As I spoke, the parts began to crumble, falling in large chunks onto the garage floor.

"Or not."

"Ready?" I looked at Haley to see that adorable smile on her face, a smile like I imagined she looked at five years old. I nodded, and with a scream, we ran, plowing into the wall of snow, falling onto the driveway, disappearing face first into four feet of snow, which thank god was frozen on the lower layers so we only actually fell in a couple feet.

I scrambled to get out of my self-made snow grave, but trying to not disturb the shape of it. As I stood, I realized Haley was doing the same. I laughed as I looked at her, her face covered in a thin layer of white powder, stuck in her dark eyebrows, her bangs stuck to her forehead.

She also laughed at me, as I figured I looked exactly the same. I looked down at myself to see that the entire front of my jacket was caked with snow, and my pants were already soaked in front. Yeah, this would be a short play time. I figured it wouldn’t do well to end up my mother’s next patient, suffering from frostbite and hypothermia.

I reached down to brush off my coat when SMACK! Suddenly the world turned white in my left eye.

Looking over at my laughing friend, I saw the evidence of the white dusting on her right glove. She was trying to look innocent, but of course had about as much success as Clinton.

"You want a piece of me, Corregan?" Hands on my hips, I looked at, well, hand on my hip as the other one picked snow out of my eyelashes.

"Is that a threat?"

"You want it to be one?"

"You got it, Littman. Or should I say, Littleman." I glared.

"Okay, that was lame."

"It was, wasn’t it?"

I didn’t answer, instead I began to form my own snowballs. "Start making ‘em, Corregan. I used to be the pitcher in our neighborhood softball tournaments, so be warned." Haley looked at me, looking impressed.

"Very nice." She gathered a huge mound of snow, began to pack it between her palms, making it rounder and rounder. "Well you know what?"

"What’s that?" I started on my fourth snowball. Since the snow was nearly to my waist, it was quite handy to just set my ammo right next to me.

"I still play softball."


"Pleh!" I spit the snow out that had landed square in my mouth, the coldness stinging against my reddened skin. "Oh, you are not a nice person." Grabbed the largest of my bombs, and got a nice, solid hold on it. I looked at her, me the picture of determination.

"Okay, Andi. I’m sorry, that wasn’t fair." She held her hands in front of her.

"Nope, no it wasn’t."

"I don’t have anymore snowballs ready." She gestured to the empty snow in front of her.

"Nope, no you don’t." I lifted my leg over the snow to take a step forward. Haley began to move, too. This would probably be the slowest chase in history, like running under water. I grabbed the rest of my snowballs, putting them in the crook of my left arm, and began to fire. Haley tried to get away from me, even with much longer legs, she was having a hell of a time. Score! The largest of the snowballs smacked her right in the neck.

"Oh man, that’s cold!" she cried as she grabbed the shrapnel, trying to get it off her bare skin. Fire number two!


Only got an arm, but that’s okay.

We continued on our slow but sure chase around my driveway and front yard, each of us taking our well-placed, yet extremely high, steps through the snow. No one was really getting anywhere of consequence, though Haley did have some space on me because of her longer legs. But that was okay, I still had snowballs.

"Ah!" Before I knew it, Haley disappeared completely from sight as she fell. Phoof! Nothing but an outline of her sprawled body.

"Haley?" I hurried over there, well, if one can hurry in four feet of snow, and saw her laying face-up, staring into the gray sky above, then her eyes traveled to me.

"Wow. Snow is so soft. Just like a bed of feathers."

"Are you okay? You’re talking like Lazareth, back from the dead."

"Oh, yeah. I’m fine. Cold and stuck, but fine." I reached a hand down to her.

"Come on. I think it’s time we went in. The snow is coming down faster, and I can’t get my car out to take either of us to the hospital." Haley grabbed my hand, and I pulled her up with a groan. Finally on her feet, we headed back into the house, both drenched from head to toe.

"My god, I’m so cold." She stood in the middle of the kitchen, her arms wrapped around herself, teeth chattering.

"Come on. My mom has a Jacuzzi in her bathroom"

"Ohhhhhh. Nnnice." She smiled, her teeth still sounding like little jackhammers. We hurried up the stairs, tugging at sopping clothing as we went, leaving a trail to my mother’s bedroom. Finally standing in just our underwear and bras, I got the hot bath started, the jets not far behind.

"I don’t have a bathing suit for you." I looked at Haley, who was looking longingly into the steaming water.

"Like I care." She climbed in as she was. I watched, my eyes following her body as a little more of it dipped into the heated depths. You’ve played sports, and have seen other girls undress in front of you before. You have seen other girls undress in front of you before. You have seen other girls undress in front of you before.

Shaking myself out of my confusing reverie, I also climbed in, dressed only in underwear and bra. The water almost felt as though it was boiling as my cold skin screamed at me. Oh, but what a way to be boiled.

I sat, holding my breath as I became acclimated. Haley sat across from me, her head back against the blow-up pillow, her eyes closed as a slow, soft moan escaped. I looked at the curve of her long neck, the way it spread into smooth shoulders with very defined clavicles, and just the very top of her cleavage in her bra, which may as well have been see-through because of the water.

"God, this is bliss." Blue eyes opened and settled on me. "Will your mom mind we’re in here?" I shook my head.

"I use it all the time." I did everything I could to avoid looking anywhere on Haley that I shouldn’t be. I was so afraid that one of these days she would catch me, or though she had caught me many times, ask me about it. What if she did? I didn’t have an answer for her.


"Yes, Haley?" I had closed my own eyes to enjoy the feel of warmth spreading throughout my entire body. I kept them closed as I waited for her to speak.

"You know the movie we watched last night?" I smiled.


"Would you ever do that?"

"Die of AIDS? Sure."

"Nut." I felt water being thrown at me, and I grinned again, but opened my eyes to look at Haley. "I mean, you know, be a lesbian."

"Well, it hasn’t really been in the career track packet that I created with my school counselor, but sure."

"I’m serious, Andi."

"Okay, okay."

"Would you ever be with a woman?" She looked at me, her hands weaving under the water, making the hot water flow and ebb to me.

"I guess I’ve never really thought about it." Yeah, what a lie that was. I looked away from her, pretending to play with the water.

"I have." My eyes shot up to look at her. She was looking over my shoulder, seemingly lost in her own little world.

"Haley, are you,"

"Oh, no. I mean, I’m into guys, but it’s not something that I look down on, or anything, you know? I believe in doing what feels good at the time, trying everything. I mean, our differences are the spice of life, right? Why be bland?"

"Yeah, I guess. I can understand that." I ran a hand through my hair, plastering it all away from my face. "Have you ever done anything with a girl?" Haley shook her head.


"Why not?"

"Guess the right situation never came along. Would you ever kiss a girl?" I looked at Haley, and saw that she was being honest with me, and just talking, so I may as well be honest with her.


"Really?" She smiled. "Would you do anything else?"

"Like have sex?" She nodded. "I don’t know."

"Well, I mean, your experience in that wasn’t great with a guy, maybe you’d enjoy it more with a woman. Maybe you should try it someday."

"Maybe I should." Certainly not the first time the idea had come to mind. And I doubted it would be the last. "What about you? Would you have sex with one?"

"Well, I’m not sure about a one-on-one sort of thing, but like in a threesome? Oh, yeah."

"So, you’d have to have a guy there, too?" She shrugged, flicking the surface of the water with her fingers.

"That’s what I’m most comfortable with. What I know." I nodded.

"Fair enough. I could see being in a threesome." I stared at a shampoo bottle on the side of the tub for a moment before I looked at Haley again. "So, what would the circumstances have to be? I mean, like you and two strangers, or you and two friends?"

"Well, I have no problem with having sex with friends. Did I ever tell you about my first time?" I shook my head. "Well, you know who my buddy Tommy is, right?" I looked at her, stunned.

"Tommy Gauna? Gay guy, Tommy?"

"Hey, he’s my friend."

"Well, come on, Haley. The guy is so obvious."

"Well, anyway, we were sixteen, and decided we both wanted to see what all the fuss was about, so, well, we did it."

"Oh my god!" I laughed, still stunned, and a bit jealous.

"Yeah, a detail of my life few know about." She smiled, relaxing a bit more as she slid down in the water so that only her head was above the surface. "So, I guess you can tell I don’t have a problem with having sex with friends. It’s certainly not something I like to make a habit of, though."

"So, would you do a threesome with strangers?"

"Hmm." She thought for a moment. "I would prefer to know the woman, that’s for sure." She stopped, then her eyes landed on me. "Like you, for instance." I pointed to myself.


"Sure. You’re gorgeous, sweet," her eyes dropped to take in what belonged to me below the water’s surface. "Sexy." I looked at her, stunned all over again. She thought I was gorgeous and sexy? She must be joking. Never mind what she was talking about doing.

"Well, um, wow. Not sure what to say."

"You don’t need to say anything. I didn’t say it to get a response from you. I just think you’d be my ideal if I ever decided to try it."

"Well, can I be honest with you?" To hell with it.

"Please do."

"You’d be mine, too." Haley’s face slid into an easy, sensuous smile.

"Really?" I nodded. "Well see that? We’re perfect for each other." She winked. "And, I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to prune, so, can we get out?"

"Sure. In the mood for a lesson?" Her face broke out into a huge grin as she nodded.

"Yes, ma’am, Sunbae Nim."

I quickly got out of the tub, afraid to hear anymore, and afraid I wouldn’t be able to control myself or my tongue and say something that we’d both regret. I, for certain.

Changed back into sweats and tanks, we headed to the basement, and my practice mats. Haley had a been a wonderful student, very observant, and willing to try anything. Obviously that willingness extended to far more than I had realized.

"I figured today we’d start working on more offensive moves for you. So far you’ve done very well in defending yourself, but what about when it comes to your being the aggressor?"

"Sounds great." Haley smiled as she started doing the stretches I had taught her. Once we were both stretched, Haley took her position, bowing to me, and then we began.

I taught her how to attack, how to come at me to disarm me, or if it came to it, kill. Haley listened, and was very observant. I was quite impressed, as she managed to nearly get a few good licks on me. I wasn’t keeping my guard up as well as I should have been, I guess not figuring she’d catch on so fast. If she ever continued the teachings, someday she’d make a wonderful student.

In a few of the moves, we had to get awfully close, Haley’s body against mine, her breasts against mine, and there wasn’t much material separating hers from mine. I felt horrible, taking my little guilty pleasures where I could.

While blocking a punch, I realized she wasn’t paying the attention to it that she should, and I was able to turn the table on her. I grabbed her by the arm, spinning her around, and pinned her against the wall, my arm across her throat.

She was breathing heavily from both the exertion, and the surprise. Our bodies were less than a hair apart, her breaths matching my own as we stared each other in the eye.

"I think you missed that loophole," I said, my voice low and throaty from the action.

"I think you’re right," she said, her voice just as low, but breathy. God, if I could have gotten away with keeping her pinned there all day, I would have. But there was no reason, so I let go.

Haley rubbed her throat and shook her head.

"Wow. I never even saw that coming." I took many steps away, needing to physically get some distance away from her. I had never felt anything so intense, needing to touch her, wanting her to touch me. What was this? It couldn’t mean anything.

"What do you say we stop for today?" I ran my hands through my hair, trying to stop them from shaking.

"Okay. That sounds good. Damn, that was a good move." She walked over to me, putting her hand on my shoulder. "Got any more of those?" She smiled, crooked and meaningful.

"Ah, no. Not really." I smiled, sweet and innocent, still shaken from the intensity of my previous feelings. Previous, hell, they were still running through me like the blood in my veins, and just as hot.

"I need a shower." Haley walked over to the wet bar and grabbed a few pieces of paper towel, wiping her face and neck. "Gross."

"Go ahead. You can use the shower in my mom’s room, I’ll use the one in mine."

"Will there be enough hot water?" she asked, wiping under her hair on the back of her neck.

"Oh, yeah. That’s one thing we have; an excellent water heater." I sounded like such an idiot, nearly babbling to hide my unease.

"Okay. That sounds good. A shower."

I stood under the spray, letting it fall over me, cleansing not only my body, but my mind, too. This was ridiculous and there was just no way of ever doing anything about this want, for so many reasons. I could never risk losing Haley’s friendship. I’d rather drool in private for the rest of my life, then find release and lose her. Not to mention my family. It would kill me if I ever made my mom ashamed of me. She had done everything she could to make sure Chris and I were happy and well taken care of. She deserves no less from me.

I shook off all the old feelings and curiosities, deciding that today, right now, this minute, was a new beginning for me and Haley. She was my best friend, and I wanted it to stay that way. Surely she did, too?

I turned the water off, just as it was about to start getting cold on me. I wondered if Haley had managed to get a hot shower, too. I dried myself off, rubbing my hair vigorously with the towel so it all stood on end, then began to dress in flannel pants and a sports bra. I looked around the bathroom, realizing I had forgotten my sweatshirt in my bedroom. Damnit.

A burst of cold air blew into the steam-filled bathroom as I stepped into the bedroom, heading toward my dresser.

"Hey." I turned to see Haley walking into the room, fully dressed in flannel pants and a tank, brushing out her wet, tangled hair. "Nice. New outfit?" She grinned. I looked down at myself, feeling very vulnerable in my half-state of undress. I was so tempted to cover myself with my arms. Yeah, explain that one, Littman.

"Why, yes. It’s in Eddie Bauer’s summer collections."

"Hey, if you were the model, I’d buy it." I rolled my eyes and opened my drawer, looking quickly for something to put on. "Yah!" Fingers began to dig into my ribs and sides. I slapped at the hands, but it did nothing, just made my laughter bubble up even worse until I had tears coming down my cheeks. "Uncle!"

"Why are you shouting ‘uncle’?" Haley asked, her fingers traveling to see where else my ticklish spots were.

"Isn’t that supposed to make you stop?"

"Why would it? I don’t much care about your uncle." Okay, so I’d have to stop her myself. I managed to get myself turned around so at least I had some semblance of control. One of my hands tried to peel Haley’s off me while the other tried desperately to find any sort of ticklish spot on her. Nothing seemed to work.

"Damn, woman! Aren’t you ticklish anywhere?"

"Only one spot." She said, baring teeth as she moved down to my thighs. Oh no, not my thighs. I tried to grin and bare it, not letting on that I felt like I was being killed slowly. Finally the tickling won over, and I burst out laughing, giving up my fight against her.

We fell to the floor, and I found my will rekindled when she recoiled from my accidentally brushing my finger along the bottom of her left foot. Could this be the magic key?

"Ugh! Stop, stop, stop!" Score!

I dug in to Haley’s feet with all my might, bringing her to tears as she squirmed on the floor, laughing, crying and begging me to stop.


"Yes, yes! God, just please stop." I took my fingers away and sat up, leaning my back against the side of my bed. She took several deep breaths, and finally got herself together, looked at me. "Damn you." I grinned, patting the space next to me. She scooted back until she was next to the bed.

"What do you say to a PlayStation game?" I looked at her, still panting from the attack. She nodded.

"You got it."

* * *

The sun would be going down soon, which made the house that much colder. The snow had let up quite a bit, and I figured it would stop all together by tonight.

"How the hell do you beat this guy?" Haley asked, staring at the screen that had YOU LOSE across it.

"Very carefully."

"Yeah, thanks for the tip. Come on, stud. Let’s see you beat him." She tossed the controller to me, and I grinned.

"Gladly." I hit start, and began on the same level of Mortal Kombat where Haley had been. I began to chew on my lower lip as the bad guy came on the screen, and I thought of what strategy I planned to use.

I had played this game so many times, and had already beaten it once, so there was a serious disadvantage for Haley. She sat beside me, watching with wide-eyed excitement as I brought the guy to his knees.

"That was so cool!" She looked at me, a whole new respect in her eyes. "How did you do that?"

"Hours and hours of practice." I admitted.

"Want to play against each other?" I looked at her.

"Are you nuts?"

"Yeah, pretty much. But, we should do it like this, since you have had hours and hours of practice, and I’ve had a half hour of play total, the best of three. But here’s the thing; you have to win all three, and I only have to win one game."

"Okay. What do we win?" She shrugged.

"I don’t know. Guess that’s up to the winner."

"Works for me."

"Game on. Oh, but wait."


"I need my Linda."

"Oh, lord." Haley jumped up and grabbed one of her Linda Eder CDs, and stuck it in the stereo.

"Much better."

The game started, and it was obvious who was going to win this one. Feeling cocky, I decided to show off a little, blowing her guy out of the water.

"Damnit, Andi!"

"Temper, temper." I set my controller down and looked at her.

"That’s only one. You have two more to go."

"You got it."

Two games, and bloody defeats later, I looked at my opponent again. "Pay up."

"Okay, okay. What do you want?"

"Hmm." I put my finger to my chin, tapping as I looked around as I tried to decide what to have her do. Then I thought about the brownies my mom had made yesterday. "Hold that thought." I stood, and quickly ran upstairs, bringing a plate of the treats back down with me.

"Oh, yum." Haley smiled, rubbing her hands together.

"Yeah, you’ll say yum. You, my dear, have to shove three of these squares into your mouth, and eat them. They all have to go down. Got it?" She looked at the brownies, then at me.

"Simple." She grabbed one, easily stuffed it inside her mouth, grabbed another. That one took a bit more thought to shove in. I chuckled as her cheeks bulged like a chipmunk.

"One more." She sighed, grabbing a third, and, using some pretty impressive ingenuity, got it in there with the other two. For a second I felt bad, as she looked like she would puke them all up, her eyes bulging, trying not to gag. I smiled as I watched her try to slowly but efficiently chew enough to be able to get some of it down.

Finally, all three were swallowed. Haley opened her mouth and stuck out her tongue to show me. I clapped.

"Very impressive. Shall we continue?"

"You got it. I’m going to get you for that."

"Just try it."

You played hard, Andi. You played hard. No matter how many times I told myself that, I still couldn’t believe Haley had beat me. At my own damn game!

I looked at her, waiting to see what horrific task she’d have me perform. She looked at me, chewing on her lip as she decided.

"Okay. Follow me. Oh, and lose the shirt." She stood and headed for the stairs. I looked down at myself, brows drawn in dread and confusion.

Haley stood at the garage door, her finger on the electric opener.

"What are you doing?" I asked, looking out into the front yard, which was a light blue from all the snow, and the falling sun.

"It’s not a matter of what I’m doing, but what you’ll be doing. Soon." I stripped my shirt off, immediately starting to shiver. "Okay. You have to run out to the street and back."

"Like this!?"

"Yup. Like that." She looked down at me, then to my face and smiled. I took several deep breaths, trying to get myself ready, and praying that my nipples would not freeze into rocks and fall off.

I ran into the garage, and hopped over the snow wall, and made my way through the freezing snow, made somewhat hard by the rapid drop in temperature, so it was easier to run along the top couple layers of it. I screamed as I hit what was normally the curb, and turned to head back. I was so damn cold I could cry.

Haley was laughing when I got back, holding my sweatshirt for me. "Come here, you." I was shivering so bad, my teeth felt like they’d break from chattering. I clung to the warmth of the soft material of the sweatshirt, glad when Haley closed the big garage door, then the door to the house. "You okay?" she asked, and I nodded.

"Rrround th, th, three." She chuckled, and we headed downstairs, though somehow by the grace of Satan we were right back upstairs within ten minutes.

"Hmm. Let’s see," Haley, smug as ever, looked around the kitchen, looking for that perfect stunt for me to perform this time. She opened the cabinet above the fridge, and called out in joy. "Okay. Come here, Andi."

"Yes, mom."

"Now, now. No sore losers."

"No, just cold ones."

"Well, I think this will help warm you up." She showed me the bottle of Vodka that she held, and I shook my head.

"Unh-uh. I don’t drink."

"Come on. It’s a dare, Andi. Be a good sport." I sighed and nodded.

"Fine. If I die, you get to explain why." She smiled as she grabbed the shot glass I handed her. I watched with dread as she poured the clear liquid. Never in my life had I done a shot of anything, and really didn’t want to start now.

"Here you go. Just down it all in one shot, and you’ll be okay."

"Bottoms up." I raised the glass in salute, then down it went, burning a nice path all the way to my toes. I coughed, nearly dropping the glass. Haley took it from me, and put an arm around my shoulder, rubbing the back of my neck.

"You okay?" I nodded as another coughing fit attacked. I took several deep breaths, feeling a weird heat rising all the way up to the roots of my hair. "How are you feeling?" she asked, looking at me with concern.

"I’m okay. That stuff just really sucks." Haley smiled, nodded.

"I know. You should see your face, it’s so red."

"Great. Come on, you. I’m going to go," I reached out to grab the counter. "Whoa."

"You okay there, stud?" Haley grinned, grabbing my arm to steady me.

"Unh, huh. Just peachy keen." I grinned, already feeling the effects of the strong liquor. "Come on, so I can kick your ass."

I hurried down the stairs, nearly falling down the stairs, in my haste to beat Haley and have her do some stupid monkey trick like I was having to do.

Ten minutes later, Haley turned to me. "You happy now?" I grinned and nodded.

"Oh, yeah." I stood, and looked down at her, looking her over. She stood, her eyes on me.

"Okay, what’s going through that brain of yours?"

"Follow me." I hurried up the stairs, back to the kitchen, and turned on the backyard light. It was dark now, but the light illuminated the entire yard.

"God. What do I have to do?"



"I want to see you in just your skivvies and bra."

"Well, Andi, why didn’t you say so earlier?" She looked at me, giving me one hell of a sexy smile as she removed her flannel pants and tank, then her socks. "So? Now what?" looking at her, standing before me like that. Oh, the things that went through my brain, especially since the Vodka was already in there playing.

"Now I want you to run out back, do a full snow angel, and come back."

"Like this?" She indicated her lack of clothing. I nodded. "Oh, you are cruel. Okay." She took several deep breaths, readying herself.

"Just think of yourself as an honorary member of the Polar Bear Club." I grinned. She glared at me, and headed to the sliding glass door, unlatching it, then opening it. The cold blew in, chilling you to the core.

"Here I go." She ran out, and I ran to the living room, grabbing a blanket from the back of the couch. Haley was screaming obscenities at me as she did her snow angel, then popped back up out of the snow, and ran back into the house. I immediately felt horrible, as she was blue, and her teeth were chattering far worse than mine had been after my stunt.

"Come here." I quickly wrapped her up in the blanket, holding her to me to give her some of my body heat, and began to rub her arms and back. "You okay?" She nodded, but was still shaking. "Come on." I grabbed her clothes, and pushed her downstairs, sitting her on the hearth of the fireplace. I flipped the switch, and the gas fireplace whooshed to life.

"Oh, that feels so good," she moaned, basking in the warmth.

"I think we should stop, now." I plopped down on the couch, my head still doing cartwheels on me.

"No. One more try. I’ve got to beat you one last time," she said, beginning to gain some semblance of a normal color.

"You sure, Haley? It’s getting late,"

"No. I want to play one more time."

"Okay. Your call. Just tell me when you’re ready."

"Load them up, chief."

I stared at the controller in my hand, trying not to break out into an all-out grin, but it wasn’t working too well.

"I don’t get it!" Haley looked at me, the blanket barely around her shoulders now after that intense, winner take all, three rounds. "Even slightly looped you still manage to beat me. It isn’t fair."

"Rules are rules, Haley, and you made the rules."

"I know." She tossed the controller to the floor and stood. "Okay, what now?" I could tell she was frustrated, but still enjoying herself, so I thought I’d have her do something amusing.

"Come on. Grab your clothes." She did, and we headed up stairs to my mom’s bedroom. "What do you think of cheerleaders?" I asked as I opened my mom’s closet door.

"I like them just fine. Kelly’s a cheerleader."

"Well, good. Then you’ll feel right at home." I brought out my mom’s cheerleading outfit from college, and tossed it at her. "The skirt may be a little short as you’re taller, but other than that, it should fit okay."

Haley looked at the outfit in her hands, then up at me. "What, do you have some sick fantasy about cheerleaders?" She raised an eyebrow, and I grinned.

"Not exactly. I want you to do a cheer for my winning the final game of Mortal Kombat." She chuckled, then began to dress in the uniform.

"I can’t believe I’m doing this." She muttered, then looked at me once she was fully dressed. I couldn’t help my snicker. She looked so funny, barefoot, with the pompoms hanging lifeless at her sides. The skirt was a bit short, but showed her legs off nicely, and the shell of the uniform was a tad loose as my mom was a bit larger on top. "I’m telling you right now, I feel like a complete ass."

"Duly noted."

"So?" She stood, crossing her arms in front of her chest. "What shall I do for you, ma’am?" She grinned, raising an eyebrow.



"I want you to do a cheer for me; for my victory." She chuckled, looked toward the window.

"Don’t worry. This is a second-story window, and I don’t imagine there’s much in the way of activity in the streets."

"Okay, okay. Let me think for a sec." She tucked her bottom lip in, and began to chew on it as she thought. I thought she looked adorable. "Okay." She lifted the pompoms up over her head. "A-N-D-I, PlayStation queen, PlayStation queen. A-N-D-I, makes you gamers want to cry. Yaaaaaay, Andi!" She yelled out and jumped around, kicking her leg into the air, then the other one, like a can-can girl. I was dying laughing by this point. Though the Vodka had loosened me a bit, I was still quite aware of hilarity when I saw it, and I had just witnessed it.

Haley put the pompoms down, and walked over to me, sitting on the floor against the wall, still laughing, about to slump over onto the floor.

"So how was that, stud?" She knelt down, a smirk firmly in place. I held up my hand, giving her the thumbs up. "Well, I’m glad you’re pleased. But," she tossed the pompoms to my mom’s bed. "I think my cheerleading days are over." She sat next to me, then lowered herself so she laid on her side, holding her head up with her hand. I slid down so I was laying on my back, staring up at the ceiling.

"Did you have fun today?" I asked, glancing at her. She nodded.

"I did. You?"

"I did." She sighed as she stared down at me.

"I really like you, Andi. You’re so different from anyone I’ve ever known."

"Thank you. You’re certainly a lot different than I ever thought you’d be, and I can definitely understand why you’re so loved by all of Winston." She cocked her head to the side.

"Oh?" I nodded, wondering if perhaps I shouldn’t have said that. "And you?" Oops.

"Well, I think you’re great. Far exceeding any expectations I had of the popular crowd." I used to my fingers to emphasize the word popular. I still couldn’t get that word out without it sounding bitter and distasteful to even my own ears. Hopefully just my own ear.

"Did you mean what you said earlier?" she asked, her voice lowering to a more quiet, almost intimate level.

"I don’t know; I said lots of things earlier."

"Well, hopefully you meant everything you’ve said." I glared up at her, she smiled. "But, I meant about me being who you’d sleep with, should you ever be with a woman."

"Yes." I didn’t hesitate, tired of lying.

"Have you ever wondered what it’s like to kiss a woman?" she asked, her eyes briefly glancing at my mouth, then trailing back up to my eyes.

"Yes. It’s crossed my mind." Almost like they had put a spell on me, my gaze fell from blue eyes, down a straight nose, and finally settled on full lips, still moving as Haley continued to talk, her pink tongue licking across straight, white teeth unconsciously.

"Me, too. Women’s lips look so soft, and usually full." She reached toward me with her hand, trailing a finger over my bottom lip. "I love your lips. The bottom one is so full. It looks so kissable." She smiled.

"Um, well, maybe we could find out?" I looked up into her eyes, hoping she wouldn’t laugh at me, and that she was being serious and not trying to goad me into doing something, then laugh at me. I didn’t think this was the case, though.

Blue eyes fell to my mouth, then looked into my eyes again. There was something there that I couldn’t quite read, but if I had seen that look in my dreams, I would have taken it for desire.

"Okay." She said quietly, still looking at me. Was she worried about the same thing I was? Did she worry I’d be cruel? Before I could ponder that question any further, I saw her leaning in a bit closer, her arm reaching across me to balance her self on her hand, placed near my shoulder. My body was vibrating, for so many reasons. I was nervous, could not believe what was about to happen, and oh yeah, I really wanted this.

Soon there was barely any space between us at all, the tip of her nose teasing mine, then teasing my cheek as she got even closer. I could feel her breath, so hot on my face, her body heat immense. I felt just the barest touch of her breast against mine as she adjusted her body, not fully laying on mine, but resting against it, her arm still taking the biggest brunt of her weight, her other hand playing with the hair that laid around my head on the carpet. My arms stayed glued to my body, my hands clasped on my stomach.

Soft, almost tickling me, her lips teased, almost shy in their advance. I tried holding my breath so I wouldn’t all out pant. I didn’t dare want her to guess my excitement level, or my nervousness.

"You can breathe, Andi," she whispered against my mouth. It sent shivers through my body, and I exhaled in a small, quick puff of air. The lips came again, softer than I ever imagined they’d be, almost stroking mine, her bottom lip pushing against mine. My fingers began to dig into themselves, craving the feel of her skin, her hair, anything.

Both lips were on mine now, pushing, yet gentle, tentatively seeking the best place to rest. I didn’t know what to do, should I move my lips to kiss back? Should I just lie still? The lips pulled away a bit, and my mind screamed out in protest, my lips trying to hold on to what they craved, but the softness quickly returned, bringing with it a little more pressure.

One of my hands found its way out from between our bodies, and rested on Haley’s shoulder, warm and soft next to the scratchy material of the cheerleading outfit. My fingertips barely touched the skin, rubbing, just brushing. I felt a shiver run through Haley’s body, and I smiled inside with satisfaction. This gave me a bit of confidence, and I pushed back with my mouth, opening my lips just a bit, just enough to capture her bottom lip between mine.

Haley lowered her body a bit, lowering her weight to rest on her elbow now. I could feel her breasts against mine completely. My god, they were so soft. I had no idea. She moved her head a bit to the side allowing more room for exploration, her lips following mine, opening to capture more inside, and to allow the softest, warmest, most sensual feeling of her tongue, barely touching my top lip, tasting. At the sensation, my fingers dug into her shoulder a bit, messaging the skin, and moving up, along the cheerleading shell, and then the warmth of her neck, so soft and smooth.

No wonder men loved women so much.

Finally my fingers found themselves in her hair, brushing it from its dark halo around us, pushing it behind her shoulder, running my fingers down its long length.

This seemed to get Haley going as I felt that tentative tongue from before finding its way into my mouth, searching, soft, gentle caresses. To my surprise, and arousal, Haley moaned, long and unbelievably sexy. God, I wanted to moan, too, but didn’t dare. My tongue met hers, and they slid against each other, Haley’s breathing coming faster with each caress.

"Hang on, man. I gotta get my stuff."

I froze, my heart stuck in my chest when I heard my brother’s voice downstairs. Haley must have heard it to, as she stopped, lifted herself and listened.

"Shit. Chris is home," I whispered. She pushed to her feet, pulling the shell over her head, and pushing the skirt down her legs as she scrambled to get her clothes on. I ran over to the closet, and put the uniform on its hanger, stuffing it into the closet, then grabbing Haley’s hand as we ran for my bedroom. I heard Chris’ footsteps on the stairs just as I closed my bedroom door, leaning against it.

I heard him barge into his room, rummaging around for God only knows what. I looked at Haley who stood by my dresser, staring at the wall that connected Chris’ and my room. I wondered what she was thinking. All I knew was that my body was still thrumming.

There was a knock at the door. I stepped away from it, and opened it to see my brother standing there with a bag over his shoulder.

"Tell mom I’m staying at Brian’s again tonight."

"Sure. You guys be careful. How did you get home?" He shrugged.

"Just walked. Plows haven’t been out yet, but they probably will be by tomorrow."

"Cool. See you later."

"Later." I closed the door again, and listened as he hurried down the stairs, and the front door slammed.

"Well, at least he got the door to open." I turned to see Haley grinning.

"Yeah. No kidding." She walked toward me, and I could feel my pulse begin to race all over again.

"Feel like a movie?" she asked. I nodded.

"Yeah. That sounds great."

The basement was warm as I had forgotten to turn the fireplace off, so I turned all the lights off, and unhooked the Play Station game.

"Do you have anything particular in mind?" I asked as I flipped through the channels.

"Oh hey, it’s Meg Ryan." Haley said, pulling her feet under her on the couch.

"You a fan?"

"Who isn’t?" She grinned at me.

"Good point. I like this one, ‘You’ve Got Mail’."

"Me, too." The movie was nearly half over, and Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks’ characters were beginning to like each other and hang out. "I hope I find a love like that someday." Haley sighed, sounding wistful.

"Yeah. I want to get comfortable. Come on." I tugged at her shirt as I stood and walked over to a closet, grabbing two beanbag chairs, and dropping them on the floor in front of the fireplace. "Stay warm, and watch the movie."

"You’re so smart," Haley said as she flopped into one of the chairs, moaning.

"I try." I sat next to her, watching the movie with my eyes, but my mind wasn’t into it. I had only one thing on my mind, and Meg Ryan and Tom Hands had nothing to do with it. I wanted so badly to touch Haley. She sat not six inches away from me, but I felt like we were miles apart. God, how to get back what had been stolen when Chris had come home.

My brows drew once I realized the background noise was gone, and the room had gotten darker. I looked to see that Haley had turned the TV off, and when I turned to look at her, to ask why, I saw her eyes boring into me. I swallowed hard. For some reason the old adage ‘watch what you wish for,’ was roaming around in my brain.

She said nothing, just reached her hand out, and I put mine in it. She squeezed my fingers gently, rubbing her thumb over the back of my hand.

"So soft," she said, barely a whisper. I watched our hands, the dancing flames of the fire bouncing shadows around our fingers, throwing a golden hue on everything. My eyes trailed up to Haley’s, not surprised to find I was meeting her gaze. Her eyes were turned nearly transparent in the firelight, the shadows clinging to all the curves of her facial structure, broadening her brow just a bit, turning her hair a deep red color.

She scooted closer to me, wisps of her hair tickling my nose. She smiled as she ran a hand through her hair, pushing it all behind her shoulders. There was a silent communication between us, almost as if our eyes, bodies and senses could say it all. I felt absolutely no need to speak.

Haley’s face came closer, her eyes closing as it did. I followed suit, bringing my hand up to touch the fire-warmed skin of her neck, the underside of her jaw. I felt her lips brush against mine, then trail lightly down the side of my cheek to my ear where she kissed the top, then whispered,

"You’re so soft, Andi. I could touch you all night." I shivered, my eyes closing, mouth opening as I felt her lips finding their way back to mine, tenderly taking my bottom lip between hers, tugging playfully.

I fell back against the beanbag, Haley falling with me until she settled against me, scooting her body even closer until every inch of her touched me. My fingers traced her ear, running a fingertip along the edge of it, feeling the soft, delicate skin, then running along her throat, feeling the texture of her face, and finally finding our mouths that played, teased each other. I took a deep breath as I felt Haley kiss each fingertip individually, then taking my hand and kissing my palm before returning to my mouth.

My hand went on the move again as Haley’s tongue began to trace my lips before dipping inside. I flattened my hand out on her back, the thin material of the tank not able to hide the immense body heat that radiated from her. I felt her spine, the muscles in her back moving as her body settled even closer to me, and further down.

I sucked in a breath as I felt Haley’s hand on the move, too. She ran her fingers through my hair, brushing my hair up and away from my scalp, sending a whole new set of shivers down my spine. She sighed, content, into my mouth, her tongue tracing the bottom of my top teeth, and searching for my own tongue, which eagerly met hers, caressing, rubbing. Her hand slid out of my hair, and found my neck. She began to massage the muscle where my shoulder meets my neck, causing me to moan for the first time.

The hand continued to move, squeezing my arm through the thickness of my sweatshirt. Of all days for me not to wear a tank. I wanted to feel her hands on my skin, craved what I knew the sensation would be.

I reached down, took her hand, and guided it to the hem of my sweatshirt, rubbing my hand up and down her arm to encourage her. She got the point, and her fingers gently dug their way under the heavy material, and I couldn’t help it as I pushed even further into Haley’s body when I felt her fingers touch the bare skin of my side. I slid my hand down her arm, and found my way to the bottom of her tank, the fire within calling to my hands. I swear I heard a sizzle as I touched her skin.

I felt the smooth, flatness of her belly, the muscles underneath moving and seizing with my every touch. I flattened my hand, allowing my palm to feel everything, sliding my hand up a bit, feeling just the bottom edge of Haley’s bra. My hand stopped when I felt soft pressure on my hand from above the tank. My hand lay where it was.

God, never in a million years did I think it would be like this to kiss a woman, have them kiss me and touch me. Never had it been like this with Rick, regardless of how bad an experience it had been. I had still been turned on with him, turned on enough to go through with it. But this, this was a whole new ball game.

My lips left Haley’s as I wanted to taste her skin. I kissed around her face, her eyelids, nose, forehead, and made my way down to her neck, unbelievably warm and soft. I buried my lips in it, opening my mouth and ran my tongue over the softness, tasting the saltiness. She pushed her head back, exposing her long neck to me, giving me permission. I brought up a hand, running my fingers all up and down her skin, trailing my nails down her throat, making her moan, and her breath quicken.

Part of me wanted so much to go on, to see what Haley had to offer, but the more logical part of me, the frightened part of me, knew that this would go no further this night, and I was glad for it. I started to feel real fear for the first time in all this, fear what we were doing, and lack of confidence in my own ability.

With one final kiss to Haley’s neck, I pulled away. Her eyes slowly opened, and she looked at me.

"Are you okay?" she asked, her voice throaty and deep. I nodded, laying my head down on her chest.

"I think maybe we should get some sleep." I lifted myself up to look in her eyes. "What do you think?" She looked at me for a moment, running her fingers through my hair, then nodded.

"I think so, too." She leaned up, giving me the softest, sweetest kiss on my mouth, then hugged me to her.

We both stood, and I switched off the fireplace. Haley grabbed my hand, and without a word, we made our way through the dark and up the stairs to my room. Quietly we got ready for bed, and I slid between the covers, moving over as far as I could to the edge. I wasn’t sure what to think, and so figured giving Haley her space would be the right thing to do.

I guess I was right.

Haley got into bed, and immediately turned on her side, her back to me. I stayed where I was, staring up into the dark. Then I felt soft skin touch my arm, and a hand grab mine. She tugged, and I turned on my side, scooting up behind her, my arm around her side. With one final sigh, I fell asleep.

* * *

With a deep breath and a sigh, I opened my eyes. All the way from darkness to the light of reality, I could feel the warmth next to me, all along my entire body. Haley laid on her back, her head turned away from me, breathing slow and even. I was on my side, so I lifted myself up to my elbow, started at her profile. So beautiful.

I brought my hand up, reached over and touched her cheek with my fingertips, feeling the soft, smooth skin. I could not get enough of touching her, knowing she was really here.

Running my fingers over, I traced the lines of her face, down the bridge of her nose, over her lips, and down her chin to her throat. She moaned, snuggling in closer to me. Her head turned so I was looking into her face. She puckered her lips. Smiling, I brought my fingers around her mouth, then brushed them across them. She scooted closer to me, her lips still puckered. Getting the picture, I bent down and gently brushed my lips against hers.

"Mm, what a nice way to wake up," she mumbled. I smiled.

"I aim to please." Her eyes slowly opened, focusing on me. "Morning."

"Morning. How did you sleep?"

I had noticed where Haley’s tank had ridden up in the night, exposing half of her stomach. I took my hand from her neck, and began to run my nails back and forth over the bare skin.

"Not bad. How about you?" I watched my own hand, almost mesmerized by the movement.



"What are you doing?" I looked up into half-lidded eyes, a lazy smile on her lips.


"Uh huh, so I see. And I slept well. I had some pretty comfy pillows." Her eyes fell to my breasts, then back to my eyes. I smiled, still playing with the skin of her stomach, reveling in the reaction of tightening muscle.

"Well, I’m sure you did. Were they better than a Koosh ball? Too bad I didn’t have the same comforts."

"They were much better than my Koosh, and luckily I had to foresight to sleep a little further down."

"Not far enough." I looked at her, challenging her with my eyes.

"Well, I never," She put her hand to her chest with a dramatic sigh.

"So you said." She stared at me, her eyes unreadable. "I’m surprised at how soft they are." She looked at my breasts again, reaching her hand over, the backs of her fingers brushing against the outside of my left breast. "I always knew mine were soft, but I guess I just never thought about someone else’s, you know?" I nodded, not able to do much more than that.

She took her hand away, and I was able to breathe again. I opened my eyes and looked at her.

"So, tell me; how far would you go?"

"Now?" I nodded. "Hmm. I’m not sure."

"Would you take anything off?" She looked down at herself, then at me.

"Andi, I don’t have much on. Two articles of clothing, and I’m done." I laughed.

"Hey, works for me." She glared.

"What about you?"

"I’d take my shirt off." She looked at me, then down at my breasts, then up into my eyes.

"I dare you." Without another word, I sat up and reached back to grab the back of my tank, and whipped it over my head. Haley stared at me, her mouth open in shock, then her eyes trailed down to look at me. Never in my life had I ever had such a feeling of confidence or power. Any modesty I may have had this time yesterday, was gone. Right now all that mattered was the way I made Haley react, and I ate it up like a drug.

I laid back down on my side, letting Haley look all she wanted to. She brought a hand up, using one finger to trace the lines on my stomach, brushing her knuckles along my ribs. I closed my eyes, never knowing that anything could feel so good. Even just Haley’s warm breath on my over-sensitized skin sent my flying.

Slowly, I rolled back over onto my back, wanting to give her as much room and skin as I could. The fingers slowly made their way around my abdomen, spreading out to rub over a large area. Needing more, I reached down and grabbed Haley’s hand, bringing her fingers to the side of my breast, letting her feel the roundness. I left her hand, and the fingers continued to feel, tracing the shape, running underneath the breast, between, then to the other one.

My breath began to quicken, my body tingling all over the place, and dying for more. I could tell Haley was being equally affected as her breath on my neck came in quick puffs. Her fingers made their way onto the breast itself, tracing a circle around the nipple, but torturing me by not going close enough to it.

"Goddamnit, will you just touch it!" With a growl, I grabbed Haley’s hand again, placing it flat on the hard nipple, groaning at the touch. I heard Haley suck her breath in.

"So hard," she whispered. I opened my eyes to see that she was looking at me with huge eyes that narrowed just as quickly as desire seeped in. I grabbed her behind the neck, reached up, crushing my mouth against hers. She moaned into me as I pushed her to her back, my hand on her bare stomach, aroused by the feel of my own naked breast against my arm.

She reached up, burying her fingers into my hair, pushing me further into the kiss. My fingers began to explore further, wanting more, needing to feel more.

I broke the kiss. "May I?" I tapped the skin of her upper stomach. Without a word, she reached down, and pulled her shirt over her head, throwing it to the floor. My eyes bulged, and my immature mind couldn’t keep the thought out that that hottest, most popular girl in school was lying in my bed, half naked. Wow.

My hand went to her breast, feeling the unbelievable softness of it, so smooth and warm to the touch. Her nipples were rock hard, and I placed my hand over her entire breast, feeling that hardness against my palm. I moaned, heat shooting straight through my body to parts south.

My mouth watered, and before I knew what I was doing, I leaned down, taking that nipple between my lips. Haley’s body arched into me, a loud groan escaping her. Her hands grabbed onto my head, fingers burying themselves into my hair. Her entire body began to move, her hips trying to find purchase on anything.

Suddenly I found myself being pulled up to a hungry mouth, and my body being pulled on top of her. I thought I would come right then and there, as soon as our breasts touched, nipples rubbed together.

"Oh, god, Andi," she rasped, shoving her hips up into me. I pushed back into her, looking for blind pleasure as I spread my legs a bit, needing to find something to rock against, needing release that the kisses failed to give.

"Andrea? You awake yet? I need you to help me shovel the driveway! I can’t get into the garage."

"No, no, no," my mind screamed as I jumped away from Haley, still breathing hard, trying to bring my brain to some sort of order. I could hear my mom moving around downstairs, and knew she’d head straight for my room.


"Yeah, hang on!" I yelled, probably far too harsh. My body was buzzing, and I wanted to cry. I heard chuckling, and looked to see that Haley had gathered herself up, covering her chest with the blanket.

"Your family." She shook her head. I wasn’t quite sure what humor she saw in this situation, because I certainly failed to see it.

"Fuck." I muttered as I found some clothes. I tugged a sweatshirt over my head, and looked at Haley. God, she looked so beautiful sitting there, the morning sun coming into the room to fill it with light, bright from all the whiteness outside.

"I’ll help you." She got out of the bed, quickly finding her own clothes, and turning her back to me as she dressed.

We sat in the Jeep in front of Haley’s house, snow all around. The plows must have come through early this morning, though driving was still slow going. Neither of us had said much since this morning. I felt afraid, not sure where the safe footing was.

"Well, I guess I’ll see you at school tomorrow." She turned to me, smiling.

"Yeah. Sounds good." I smiled back. She leaned over and kissed me softly on the cheek.

"Thanks, Andi. Goodbye," she whispered, her hand already on the handle of the door. I smiled, nodded.


I watched as she got out of my car, grabbing her bag from the backseat. She looked at me from the open door, her face unreadable, then turned and closed it, making her way to her house. With a sigh, I got the Jeep in gear, and headed home.

The house was quiet, mom heading straight for bed after a long weekend. I headed to my room, turning the stereo on, and sat at the computer, intending to play some Literati.

The music began, and I realized that Haley had left one of her Linda Eder CDs in it.

I listened to the words:

In a very unusual way, one time I needed you.

In a very unusual way, you were my friend.

Maybe it lasted a day, maybe it lasted an hour.

But somehow it will never end.

I brought my hands up, burying my face as the tears fell.

* * *

I walked through the next couple of months like a zombie, going through the motions. Haley and I had begun to drift further and further away from each other until it felt like she was a distant call, sometimes heard in the night, but not loud enough to show me my way home.

Fear had completely overtaken me after that weekend after spring break. I took the blame upon myself, a little girl playing in a woman’s world that I wasn’t ready for. What would my mom say? What would I say? My future was so bright, laying out before me, and I was watching my best friend walk away. I was allowing it.

I had stopped eating by locker number 218, and had pulled out of the tutor program.

I had taken it too far, and things should never have progressed how they had. When I would see Haley in the hall at school, and I always looked for her, though I knew I’d never talk with her, she met my gaze, staring at me, always looking as though she had something to say, but neither of us could ever speak.

The snow was clearing out as spring came along, melting quickly into summer. The graduation buzz was all that was heard at school, senioritis striking quick and swift. If only it were my turn, and I could leave Winston and everyone in it behind. And the memories.

I walked by the gym, seeing all the seniors getting fitted for their gowns. I knew Haley was in there somewhere, though there were so many kids, who knew where?

"Hey." I stopped short, startled. I turned to see Haley standing by the girl’s bathroom, the door not even fully closed behind her.

"Hi. I see you guys got your gowns." She nodded, smiling weakly.

"Yeah. Kind of exciting."

"I bet. That’s great. Um, congratulations."

"Thanks. Andi,"

"Look, I have to get back to class. I had to drop something off in the office. So, um, I’ll see you later."

I hurried on, not looking back.

* * *

I locked my car, feeling the bulk of the small disposable camera in the pocket of my cargo shorts. The seniors were all lined up at Winston High School’s stadium. All the bleachers were filled with proud family members. The stage was set up with important faculty members already seated.

I hooked my fingers through the chain link fence, just wanting to get a picture, wanting something to remember her by. The school’s symphony started playing the traditional commencement march, and the seniors marched onto the field. I searched for her, wanting to see her face on such an important day. I felt the lump that had been in my throat for the last two months, grow even larger as I spotted her, her face glowing with pride and happiness in her dark blue gown, mortar board with the red tassel hanging down.

Grabbing the camera from my pocket, I raised it to my eye, and snapped the shutter.

* * *

Tears streamed down my face as I sat on my bed, legs curled up under me, the camera laying beside me. The words played in my head as they played on the stereo.

Maybe it lasted a day, maybe it lasted an hour.

But somehow it will never end.

In a very unusual way,

I think I’m in love with you.

In a very unusual way, I want to cry.

Something inside me goes weak, something inside me surrenders.

You’re the reason why, you’re the reason why…



I grabbed the remote, pushing stop. The stereo turned itself off, and I turned back to my bills, writing out checks to everyone and their brother.

Knock, knock

"Come on in, Erin. It’s open." I yelled. The back door opened, and I heard footsteps across the hardwood floor. Arms sneaked around my neck, and warm lips placed a kiss on my cheek.

"Good morning."

"Hey you." I reached up, hugging the arms, a smile on my face.

"What are you doing? Are you ready?"

"Yeah. I’m working on my checkbook." My girlfriend sat in the chair across the table from me. "You know, sometimes I feel like I’ll never get this house paid off. They raised the taxes again. Vultures, I tell you." She smiled.

"I know, baby. You know, we could be paying on just one house," She let her sentence drop off. It took everything in me to not sigh in irritation. I looked into hopeful brown eyes.

"Erin, we’ve talked about this." She sighed, patting my hand.

"I know. I’m sorry. Guess I just figure one of these days." She smiled. "Are you ready? Come on. I know you don’t want to be late to see the sacred Linda Eder. What is this? Your third concert?"

"Fifth, but who’s counting." I grinned, and closed my checkbook. "Let’s go." I stood, scooting my chair under the table, and grabbed my car keys and the tickets, following Erin back out the way she’d come in, locking the door behind us.


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