“Why hasn’t Carmen met Paula?”
I can’t help but rub in a little. I mean, two years without meeting the rents? It can’t be that serious…
Spencer’s still a little frustrated that I’ve figured it out. I can tell by her tone and the fact that she deflects.
“Because I don’t talk to them anymore.”
“You mean not often…?”
I’m pushing it, I know, but there’s really no reason to try and color inside the lines this late in the game.
“I mean at all,” she says nonchalantly. “If they can’t accept me and Carmen, then I refuse to put either of us through that bullshit.”
Wow… I didn’t see this coming. I know that Mrs. C’s a right bitch, but there’s also Mr. C to consider. He doesn’t deserve to lose his daughter because he’s married to the beast.
Besides, Spencer loves her family. Family is something that’s so… fundamental to her.
Has four years really made her this jaded?
“Is Carmen okay with that?
I just don’t get it at all. Spencer would never give up, especially on her family. That’s just not who she is.
“It was her idea.”
“But they’re your family, Spence. No one should make you choose between them…”
I hadn’t meant to say it, or at least not quite so accusingly towards Carmen, but I did, and now I’ve really pissed her off.
“Carmen is good to me and I’m not going to put her through that. She doesn’t want to meet them anymore than I want to do that to her. She suggested that we just stay away, and I agreed.”
I’m utterly flabbergasted.
How could the sea-witch try to cut her off from her family? It’s not like they’re the Manson’s. They love Spencer, even if some of them are prejudiced. But more than that, Spencer needs her family. How could anyone claim to love her and try to do that to her?
I can’t even believe this…
“Spencer, did you do that for you or for Carmen, because that’s just not like you.”
The tears are back and I realize that I may have just sunk the last nail in my coffin. I just can’t stand to see her so… caged, maybe even controlled.
“That’s between me and Carmen. Besides, you left your family without a word. You don’t have any right to judge either of us.”
I feel my hackles rise. She has no idea why I left. Sure, I could have done it better, been more forthcoming, but why hurt everyone like that?
“I think you should just go,” she says in frustration. “It was foolish of me to think that…”
She doesn’t finish, she just shakes her head and stands, ready to escort me out. But I haven’t said what I need to say, what I can’t find the words to explain.
I grab her arm as she tries to shove past me and pull her to a stop.
“Let go of me,” she orders. “You don’t have the right to touch me.”
I let go, but this isn’t over. “I’m not leaving until I say what I need to say, Spencer.”
She throws her hands up. “Then say it already!”
I swallow my ire harshly and gesture to her chair. She huffs a little before relenting and retaking her seat, and I do the same.
This time, she’s all business. Her shoulders are straight, her spine is rigid, and her arms are crossed.
“Well…,” she says impatiently.
I exhale and try to find a starting place.
“Do you remember prom?”
Do you remember all that talk about rites of passage? Well, I was about to have one, and while I’d have never admitted it to Spencer, I was actually kind of excited about this one.
Prom: pretty dresses, corsages, romance, excruciatingly painful shoes that were so worth it anyway, and lots and lots of after party sex.
What wasn’t to look forward to?
Only one thing: Paula Carlin.
I was nervous as Christine, Kyla, and I approached Spencer’s house. I didn’t want to go anywhere near that door, but Mr. C had insisted that we all be present for pictures.
He’d better get copies, because Mrs. C would probably burn some of them later.
I mean, she’d calmed down since we’d been found out on the road. I still couldn’t believe that a flat tire was all that it had taken to stop us. But in the middle of nowhere, young, and stranded, well…
Honestly, I think that Spencer had just been homesick. She’d needed her family, so at the first sign of trouble, she’d called her dad and that had been it. But that had been okay, because I understood that about her.
And, Mrs. C had just been so happy to get Spencer back that she’d managed to stop trying to change Spencer, at least overtly. She sort of just barely tolerated me now and got in jibes on Spencer when she could.
I was no longer the favored and trusted friend, the sister that her daughter never had. I was something stepped in to be scraped off. And while her opinion didn’t matter to me at all, I still didn’t want to deal with it, not tonight.
Tonight was to be my night with Spencer fulfilling one of her girly, childhood fantasies. I had to keep reminding myself of that. That’s what I was doing here. I was here for Spencer, so I could put up with Mrs. C for a little bit.
We stepped up to the door and Christine hit the doorbell before looking over at me with a dour expression. I laughed. She didn’t like Mrs. C any more than I did at this point. I’d come to find out that Mrs. C had called her and informed her of the atrocity that was my love for Spencer. Well, Christine hadn’t cared and that hadn’t gone over well with Mrs. C. Long story short, they’d argued, Christine had ripped her a new one, and now she was on Mrs. C’s ever widening bigot hit list.
I sort of loved that about Christine. I mean, she’d still grounded me for running away, but she’d not only understood, she’d stuck up for me. I really did luck out with her.
The door was answered by Glen, who just grunted and left it open. I rolled my eyes and we both went inside. Spencer wasn’t down here yet so I watched as Glen and Madison posed for Mrs. C’s camera finger.
I was a little floored to see that he was wearing a skirt and high socks. I mean, he was upset by the fact that Spencer was gay? Whatever. He apparently took after his mother more than I’d initially thought.
Ultimately, he didn’t care that Spencer was gay or hurting, or that her soul was in danger of hell fire. He just didn’t want it to affect his social standing, which was laughable. He’d already graduated; he didn’t have a job, and he was dating a high school senior.
He was a loser…
He was an ass…
Nothing new there.
“Ashley,” Mr. C called out brightly as he strode over to give me a bruising hug.
He stepped back and held me at arms-length, whistling low as he smiled.
“You look ravishing,” he grinned out rakishly.
“Thank you,” I smiled shyly.
“And you,” he crouched down to Kyla. “You’re looking very grown up.”
She beamed a smile at him and I sighed. Kyla was still pissed at me. She hadn’t said a word since I’d been home.
Mr. C stood and touched Christine’s arm. “I’m so glad that you came.”
Christine just nodded politely. Mr. C had apologized to her for his wife’s behavior, but she hadn’t held it against him. She was a woman of few words and she didn’t hold a grudge. I decided that I liked that about her as well.
There was another knock at the door and Mr. C excused himself to answer it. The three of us moved out of the way as Chelsea, Aiden, and his date, Sasha, were admitted.
I’d only met Sasha once before. She was the same skank who’d ‘accidently’ blabbed her mouth to wrong people and gotten us all in trouble for Spencer’s surprise party several months ago. And I could believe that it was an accident. She was just that stupid. Her eyes were vacant, devoid of all intelligence, and she liked to use and upward inflection on all of her sentences, as if everything was a question. I almost couldn’t see what Aiden saw in her, but then he was Aiden. She was hot and easy. That was it, pure and simple.
Clay collected Chelsea and they posed in front of Mrs. C’s camera, but my attention was diverted to the stairs as Spencer came gliding down like a goddess descending from on high. Her hair was pinned at the base of her head, accentuating the long lines of her neck. Her shoulders were bare but for two very lucky, very thin straps that scooped to reveal a tantalizing amount of cleavage. The satiny blue of her dress whispered across her slender ankles where it split, revealing legs that seemed to go on forever.
Was it hot in here?
If I’d had a collar, I would have tugged at it.
I wasn’t sure if we’d make it to the hotel room and I was entirely okay with that.
She grinned shyly as she approached and I met her sparkling eyes, only further accentuated by the color of her dress and the floating tear drop at the hollow of her throat.
“Wow…,” was all that I could say.
She took one of my hands in hers and seemed to drink me in with her eyes.
“I’ll say…,” she replied.
Christine cleared her throat and I snapped out of it, fumbling with the corsage as I attempted to fit it over her wrist. Spencer giggled, and easily slid a white carnation on my wrist before leaving a tender kiss on my knuckles. Twining her hand in mine, we faced the group to take pictures. Mrs. C was nowhere to be seen and I breathed a sigh of relief.
“Alright, all together now.”
Mr. C waved enthusiastically to get us all grouped together before lifting the camera to his smiling face.
“Okay, on the count of three, everyone say cheese.”
I slid my hand to the small of Spencer’s back.
Spencer’s arm found my shoulders and she pressed in tight.
I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. I was quite literally stunned. She was smiling shyly and biting her bottom lip, and I felt jealous. That was my job…
I leaned in and kissed her. It was chaste and warm and sweet, the kind of kiss that makes you close your eyes and melt.
I registered the flash of the camera and broke away a little dazed. Mr. C chuckled, Glen looked furious, Kyla was grossed out, and the rest of the group looked awkward.
Spencer grabbed my face and smooshed my cheeks together, and to a chorus of snickers and giggles, another flash nearly blinded me.
I was indignant, but it didn’t last long. Next thing I knew Spencer was hanging from my neck and kicking her leg in the air for another picture.
I couldn’t help but laugh, but I’d had enough humiliation for the night.
“Okay, okay,” I said, disentangling myself from her and pulling away from the group.
She beamed at me, grabbing my hand as we all filed out through the door, Mr. C calling out for us to be safe as we went.
Aiden held the door to the stretch Humvee open, and we all found an incredibly comfortable spot to couple up for the ride.
Of course, almost immediately, the sun roof was opened and Glen was giving us all a decent view of London and France as he stood up and hung his head out of it like a dumb lolling dog.
“Glen, sit down,” Madison chastised, but of course he didn’t listen.
Aiden karate chopped him in the back of his knees and crumbled him to his ass, and we all laughed at him.
He pulled himself back up into the seat next to Madison with a huge grin on his face. His hair was crazily windswept and I found that I couldn’t face forward because most guys aren’t used to wearing skirts.
Speaking of which…
“What’s with the skirt, Glen?”
He glared at me. “It’s a kilt, not a skirt.”
Aiden snickered. “It looks like a skirt.”
I beamed at him.
“Well, it’s not. And if you were cultured, you’d know that.”
“Yeah, because you’re so sophisticated, Glen,” Spencer tried.
Glen turned up his nose at her. “What’s the matter, Spencer? I thought skirts were your thing.”
And that pissed me off. It was one thing to be an asshole to me, but Spencer didn’t deserve that.
“Glen, come on, man,” Clay jumped in.
Spencer, however, played it off with a shrug of her shoulders. “I do enjoy a nice skirt. Easy access.”
With that, she placed her hand on my thigh and snuggled in close to give me a steamy kiss that left me blushing.
“Damn, dude,” Aiden said. “She just owned your ass.”
Glen’s head swiveled. “Dude, what’s wrong with you?” He gestured to us. “That’s fucking disgusting.”
“Glen, please just stop,” Clay tried again.
“That’s bullshit, and you know it, Glen,” Aiden responded. “I know for a fact that you look at lesbian porn.”
The air sucked out of the cabin as if someone had hooked up a vacuum to the sun roof. No one said a word as they processed entirely too much information. I felt my stomach churn at the thought of Glen liking porn because, well, it meant that he wasn’t a eunuch.
That was not a world that I wanted to be a part of.
“Wait a minute,” Sasha interrupted the silence. “Are you two, like, together?”
Everyone just stared at her dumbfounded.
I mean seriously…
“How does that… like, work,” she asked with genuine interest.
Spencer immediately placed her hand over my mouth to keep me from further confusing her with small, monosyllabic words. I considered drawing her a few pictures since I couldn’t speak, but I didn’t have any crayons…
From there, the car ride was continued in silence. Madison had her arms crossed over her chest and wouldn’t even look at Glen. Glen was slumped in his seat and brooding, legs spread wide. Aiden and Sasha were making out. Chelsea and Clay just stayed quiet; they were the smart ones.
Spencer and I leaned our heads together and fought over who loved each other the most.
We were so pathetic.
When we arrived at the High School, we filed out of the limo and immediately split off. I was thankful. Our group could be entirely too exhausting. We posed for a few photos under the Blue Devil branded archway and then took to the dance floor. Spencer was such a spaz with upbeat tempos and I could laugh for hours just watching her obliviously do her thing.
The slow songs were almost my favorite. I mean, who doesn’t like pulling in tight and just swaying with a hottie? But my favorites were the sexier beats. Spencer had absolutely no rhythm, but she could definitely grind, and man, was she ever. She had this way of kissing my neck and teasingly drawing close to my mouth without actually giving me any satisfaction.
And that sent my pulse racing.
Everything about her sent my pulse racing.
I felt unreasonably hot.
And then she had the best idea ever…
“Ash…,” she breathed in my ear. “I need to use the bathroom.” She leaned back, wrapping her arms around my neck and playing suggestively with the hair at the nape of my neck. “You want to come with me?”
I didn’t have to think about it and I couldn’t really make words, so I just took her hand and started to drag her. She giggled when I tripped and stumbled. I was a little light-headed, but I wasn’t deterred. Once inside, I pulled her into the handicapped stall, slid the lock in place, and found myself pressed against the door.
I took her face in my hands and pulled in for a searing kiss that left me breathing heavily. My head was swimming and I could barely stay on my feet, but Spencer positioned her leg between mine and continued her assault, moving down my neck.
“God, you’re so hot, Ash.”
“So are you,” I said, feeling a flush and a flutter in my stomach.
“No, Ash, I mean-“
I pulled her up and attacked her mouth again, the very blood in my veins boiling.
She broke the contact and put her hand to my forehead.
“No, I mean it. You feel hot.”
Her hand felt cool against my overheated skin and I closed my eyes, leaning hard against the door. My head was still swimming and I thought that I might collapse.
“Ash, I think you’re sick…”
Her voice sounded like it was under water and my stomach roiled. I lurched on instinct for the toilet and heaved violently into its porcelain depths.
Somewhere in my mind I registered my hair being tenderly held away from my face and the gentle stroking circles on my back, but I was nearing the point of passing out.
“Dad,” I heard somewhere in the fog. “I need your help. Ashley’s really sick.”