I examined myself in the store mirror. The letterman didn’t really suit me, but there had to be a jacket that would, against all odds, make Quinn Shen look cool.
As odd as it was, Milo’s little stint kind of brought Morgan and I even closer together, especially since no shit had hit the fan yet. At least, I thought it did, but maybe she felt differently. Though, if she did, she was doing a terrible job of showing it.
“Ooh, that looks so good on you!” she practically sang, eyeing my reflection in the mirror and hugging me from behind. “Tell me you’re going to get this one.”
“Really? This one? You think this is cool?” I asked, unsure. “I don’t think the letterman suits me.”
She cocked her head and gave me a puzzled smile. “Letterman?”
“Is this not a-”
Morgan burst into snickers. “Babe, this is a bomber jacket.”
I blew a raspberry. “Bomber, letterman, letterman, bomber. How am I supposed to know?”
“A letterman has a letter. Man,” she teased.
“Mhm! Riiiight… here…” she said lightly, teasingly, while drawing a delicate circle around my chest. I looked down at her head, right near my shoulder, and she smiled and gave me a kiss. Satisfied, Morgan let go and went somewhere else, allowing me to re-examine myself in my bomber jacket. After a few more seconds, I decided against the jacket and rejoined her, finding her fiddling around some shirts.
“Where’s Lexi?” I asked, noting the one person we came with wasn’t with us.
“She likes doing her own thing,” Morgan replied, not looking away from the shirts. “But to be honest, I think she hopes she’s going to have a meet cute with some hunky sales assistant who’ll sweep her off her feet or something.”
“What’s a meet cute?”
“It’s, like, what people think of when – it’s like meeting someone cute for the first time, and you both can tell instantly that it’s going to be a thing.”
“Sounds sappy,” I chuckled.
She turned back to me and winked. “Yeah, I’d rather have what we have too,” she flirted. “So, what’s the verdict?”
“Death sentence,” I replied, taking the jacket off. “It’s not doing it for me. I think I’m just destined to dress like a nerd.”
Morgan gave me a laugh with another confused expression. “It was your idea to come here,” she replied, taking the jacket. “I told you, if you didn’t want to dress like I do, you don’t have to.”
“Yeah, but, I dunno, I want to make an effort. We’re doing everything together, I don’t want to… make you lose street cred or something,” I replied, shrugging, feeling myself get more introverted by the second.
“Did I say I was losing my street cred?”
“Well, no, but-”
“Hmm, odd. I wonder where you could be getting that impression then,” she replied quickly, her tone losing emotion. I knew what that tone meant.
“Okay, okay, I’m sorry for presuming. I just… assume that I’m a… you know, that I…” I looked away, scratching my head in nervousness.
I didn’t catch her response as I looked off to the left, finding some other racks. “Hey, what about this?” I asked in excitement, walking towards a display of jackets.
Morgan followed, looking them over. “This just looks like more bomber jackets,” she lightly protested.
“Yeah, but these look kinda neat,” I replied, picking one up and looking at the label. “I thought so: Harajuku style. They kinda look like a rapper or something might wear them.”
“Gonna drop some bars?” I heard Lexi joke near us.
“Check it out, Lex,” I replied quickly, putting it on. It had a neat pattern on it, with some explosive Harajuku-looking graffiti on the front. I posed in an over-the-top style for them. “So Morgan, what do you think?”
“Yeah, it looks good too!” Morgan said. “Do you want these because it’s, like, more your culture or something?”
I gave her a look. “Harajuku is in Tokyo, Morgan.”
She threw up her hands. “Oh great, now I look racist.” She laughed at her own comment, and I joined her. Quickly, I ran to the mirror, and examined myself.
“Oh yeah,” I told the duo, “I’m feeling this.”
A weird part of me felt excited. Like, I wore plain clothes and hand-me-downs and stuff for most of my life. But this was something I was going to buy for myself, something that made me look good, with my own money that I got from my job. More importantly, something that made me feel like I wouldn’t be embarrassing my girlfriend, even though bringing that up wouldn’t score me any points.
“You look great, babe,” Morgan told me supportively, without a smile, although that could just be because we weren’t alone.
“It’s a cool look, Quinn!” Lexi added happily.
“So after this, can we swing by the Sunglasses Hut or whatever they have here?” Morgan asked. “I gotta get some new ones for summer. My old ones fucking broke.”
“They got some near the food court, I saw them when I was going to the washroom, but I dunno if it’s Sunglasses Hut,” Lexi added.
“Ooh, fuck, washrooms. Speaking of, I’m going to go. Can you two wait here for me?” Morgan asked. She didn’t even wait for our answer before walking off. My eyes followed her. God damn, she had a great butt.
I admired myself, not used to the guy staring back at me, for a few more seconds. After a bit, I eyed Lexi. “So, the washrooms, huh? Did you find a guy to go there with?”
“I wish,” she grumbled.
“Morgan thought you were trying to find a cute sales associate to seduce,” I added.
“It would be cool if the world worked like that,” she replied dryly. “I’m alone, Quinn. Always will be.”
“You won’t be alone, Lexi, come here,” I coaxed her, bringing her in for a side hug as I continued checking myself out. “We’re eighteen, we’ve got so much time it’s crazy. What if you find the love of your life in college? All the waiting will have been worth it.”
Lexi hugged me back, sliding her arm up my back, letting me know with her hand that she appreciated it. “Can I say something, like, maybe weird?”
“When do you not?” I joked.
“I’m just saying… if you weren’t dating Morgan, I totally would… y’know, accept it if you asked me out.”
I couldn’t help but chuckle, and let her go from the side-hug. I saw it coming a mile away. Lexi would date a gym bag if she could, and plus, out of the three girls in the group I connected with (I was still working on Crystal), Lexi was the only one where any theme of sexuality and romance didn’t come up out of nowhere. She and I were close, there was no doubt, and she was boy-crazy. She was bad at hiding her feelings.
“You’re bad at hiding it,” I replied.
“You’re not mad at me?” she asked incredulously.
Lexi may have been easy, but there were worse things to be. It felt nice, and almost confidence-boosting, knowing three of the girls in the group had some kind of drawing to me. All the more reason to dress less like a nerd. I was leaving that life behind. “Well, it’s not like anything is going to happen,” I told her. “You wouldn’t want to hurt your friend and I’m with her. And truth be told, you’re pretty cool, Lexi. If I wasn’t dating Morgan… who knows?”
A silence passed between us. I dryly giggled and added, “But if you try to break us up, it’s off.”
Lexi giggled back, just as dryly. “Well yeah, duh,” she replied. “You’re a cool boy, Quinn. I’m glad I got to, you know, know you better.”
“If it’s the looks that are doing it, I do have a twin,” I joked again.
“Eww, fuck no. Not Kevin,” she insisted.
“What’s wrong with the guy? He’s charismatic, he’s got connections, he’s-”
“Slimy, that’s what he is,” Lexi added.
“Hey, honestly, be careful. He’s my brother,” I said with a more serious tone.
“He just comes across as more, like, desperate. Fake. Like he’ll do anything for the time of day, I dunno. It feels like he’s there just to get what he wants from people and leave.”
“He has his… own version of empathy,” I replied thoughtfully. “Not unlike Taylor, actually, now that I think about it. Hell, she’s more of the ‘I just want something’ type, not to gossip.”
“Real talk, I totally thought you were…” Lexi trailed off, looking around to see if Morgan was on her way back. “I totally thought you were dating Taylor or at least fucking her before you started dating Morgan.”
I was taken aback, hopefully not for the reason she thought. “M-me? Dating Taylor?”
“I know, it’s crazy, but there was something about your energy together… like, for the longest time, I thought there was something there.”
Wow. Look at Lexi. She had more going than I gave her credit for.
“Of course, it was, like, super obvious after that you were just helping her to get closer to Morgan,” she continued.
I turned to her and grinned. “Is that what you think happened?” I challenged her.
She grinned back. “And that confirms it,” she told me. “It can be our secret if you want. I just can’t believe it fucking worked. You. With her. She, like, doesn’t date anybody, Quinn.”
If I knew one thing about Lexi, it was that if she believed in something volatile, even the truth, it could spell trouble. If she believed in something harmless, well… there were worse things than to just…
I nodded. “Our secret,” I repeated, letting a pause pass. “But yeah, I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”
It was only after the conversation finished and Morgan rejoined us that the gravity of what Lexi said truly hit me. Did she have a crush on me, or did she just make this offer to every guy that got close enough with her? Did I cause this by calling her cute…? Was I making a mistake?
“Calling my friend ‘cute’ isn’t cheating on me,” Morgan laughed as we laid out her purchases in her room. “You’re so paranoid.”
“I have my reasons to be,” I defended myself as I looked over the sunglasses I bought. They matched hers. I wasn’t about to tell her that Lexi gave me the “If you weren’t with her” speech, but I could tell her everything else.
“Why, did she blow you or something?” she asked as a joke.
“No, of course not! I’ve remained faithful t-”
“Shut up,” she laughed, kissing me. “Honestly, I’m glad that you can be friends with my girls and not be weird about it.”
“What’s weird?” I asked.
“Well, for starters, having sex with them and not telling me about it.” She let a beat sink in. “And hey, you got over your weird phase there, so that’s all good.”
I felt my cheeks redden, and let out an uncomfortable growl.
“For second, believing guys and girls can’t be friends without something sexual going on between them. Believe me, so many guys I thought were good would be, like, proud of how they’re not friends with any other girls, as if every girl is someone I could lose to or something.”
“And you win against all of them anyways,” I replied, grabbing her around the waist and kissing her neck.
She lightly moaned, pushing her butt against my crotch. She lost herself for a few seconds, rubbing her ass against me, then pulled herself out of my grasp. “Hey. Parents are home. Keep it together,” she half-joked. “Anyway, speaking of, you wanna come to Crystal’s tonight?”
“I thought it was girl’s night,” I replied.
She shrugged. “They all okay’d you, even Milo, and he’s not a girl either, so fuck the rules,” she replied. “If you’d rather not, that’s cool.”
My tone turned to mild disappointment. “And when you say, ‘all of them…’”
She read my thoughts. “Yeah, Taylor is a no-show,” she replied in an equally bummed voice. “Sorry, Quinn.”
“You know if I said no she’d happily be there,” I replied, only realizing the implications once my words sank in. “Is that why you keep asking me? So that you can tell Taylor if I’m not coming?”
She sighed. “Look, Quinn. You’re important to me, but so is she. These are her wishes. If she doesn’t want to see you… Yeah, that sucks, but what can you do?”
“So that’s a yes,” I grumpily observed.
“It’s a yes.’’ She paused, then sighed again. “If you’re not coming anyway, I want to see her. I miss her. I’m asking you first, that’s got to mean something. Milo is cool with you now, that has to mean something too.”
“‘Cool with me,’” I replied, making air quotes. “In that ‘I’m not cool with you’ way.”
“Welcome to Milo,” she replied.
“Sometimes the politics of your group are exhausting,” I mumbled.
“I don’t disagree,” Morgan replied, starting to hang up her clothes, but stopping once she saw how much it was affecting me. Slowly and tenderly, she gave me a kiss. “Do you want a little break from them? Maybe I could hang out with you and your friends for a while.”
I chuckled sadly. “Morgan, I don’t have a friend group. I have a circle of people I sat with at lunch, maybe, but I won’t ever see those people again. You actually have a friend group. I have, like, Kevin, and…”
“Yeah, I wouldn’t like to hang out with Kevin if that’s okay,” Morgan mumbled.
“Did he poison half the school when I wasn’t looking or something?” I asked.
“He’s just one of those brown-noser types. Clings to the most relevant one in the room and leeches. It’s weird. I get you’re his brother and I’m sure he has other good qualities, but… I’m someone he thinks has power, so he’s kind of draining as a person.”
“I feel like you should give him a chance out of school, especially when you’re dating his brother,” I told her seriously. “I can accept if he rubs you the wrong way, but your whole group kind of… they’re all mean to him, and it gets a bit much when I have to constantly hear that when I keep getting nothing but, ‘I don’t like how he acts.’”
“We can have this conversation another time when I’m more ready,” she told me. “Anyway, did you need a break from my group?”
I huffed. “No,” I admitted. “They’re a bit much too sometimes, but they’re basically my friends too at this point. Though maybe I can skip out on Crystal’s so you can see Taylor or something. Just, uh, you know… say hi to her for me.”
“It’s bothering you,” Morgan said nurturing, stopping again. We both were sitting on the bed by this point, and she was stroking my cheek.
“Of course it is,” I told her. My cheeks were welling up. I felt like a lame-o. “I mean, she was the first person I was ever intimate with like that, and I knew what we had wasn’t going to last forever, but just… it feels… weird now that we’re not having sex and she just pushes me away like I’m nothing.”
“You don’t mean weird, don’t say it,” Morgan supported me.
I looked at her. “It hurts,” I admitted, blinking the tears away.
Morgan pulled me close and we hugged for a little bit. After the hug finished, we shared a short kiss. Morgan softly chuckled. “It’s kind of funny, isn’t it? You get maybe the one girl in the school that’s cool with you doing stuff with her hot friend, and it all goes to shit. That’s Taylor for you.”
I collected my thoughts for a bit. “I miss her, but if I’m being honest, I’d rather have just you. She’s too complicated, and you… with you, it feels like everything I’ve been missing in my life floods back to me with every second we spend together.”
Morgan gave an uncharacteristic smile. “Holy shit, Quinn, that’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard,” she said in an unusually high voice. She kissed me over and over again, clearly overwhelmed with what I said.
I had no idea why she reacted so strongly to that of all things. Clearly my social skills still needed sharpening.
“Boom!” Lexi celebrated as the ball took down all nine pins. She turned back to the group. “Eat my entire ass!”
“You granny-bowl,” Crystal dismissed her. “I could get a zero and still win.”
“Points are points!” Lexi protested, sitting back down, snuggling up to me. “Back me up here, Quinn.”
I shot Morgan a look. I wanted to be as impartial as possible towards Lexi after knowing what I knew, but I think Lexi took the fact I didn’t fully shoot her down a little too optimistically. Unhelpfully, Morgan just looked on coolly.
“You two make a cute couple,” she chirped as Milo stood up, his turn approaching. He did his ceremonial dance, grabbed his favorite blue ball, and tossed it down the aisle with the grace of a seasoned professional. Instant gutterball, no points.
“I swear to God I’m good at bowling,” he mumbled as he sat back down. He saw Lexi plastered to me and his expression turned to annoyance. “Can you cut that out? He’s in a relationship.”
“With me, yeah,” Morgan replied emotionlessly, turning to him. “I’m cool with it. Got something to say?”
He stared at her for a long time before his expression softened. “Sorry,” he admitted. “I guess the competition is getting to me.”
“The loser just buys the wings, it’s not like you’re not playing for the Nationals,” Crystal laughed.
“Is there a national bowling team…?” Lexi wondered, still snuggled up against me.
“Alright, give me some room, I’m getting too hot,” I told her, trying to keep some humor to my tone.
“Yeah you are,” Lexi giggled back sexually.
“Lexi,” I replied with some heat, and she moved off. I gave Morgan another look before she got up and grabbed a ball. I turned to Milo and figured a change of conversation was in order. “How are things, you okay?”
“I’m fine, I’m fine,” he assured me – or himself. “Just a lot going on.”
I figured it wouldn’t hurt to be genuine. “For what it’s worth… I’m glad we’re talking again.”
He gave me a side eye, then eyed Lexi, then back to me. I rolled my eyes and did my best to tell him with my expression that whatever he was feeling about the Lexi situation, I was feeling it too.
Unhelpfully, despite zero attraction being present between us, Crystal was beginning to learn she could tease Morgan with me too. Anytime that Lexi grabbed on to one side, Crystal would jokingly grab on to the other, just in time for Morgan to turn around from whatever she was doing or whatever.
“Spare, more like ‘spare me,’” Morgan mumbled, turning around to see Lexi latched back onto me, with Crystal’s head on my shoulder. “Boy, you two really want to see me jealous, don’t you?”
I was honestly more worried about what this was doing to Milo than Morgan, especially since Crystal and Lexi didn’t know exactly what flames they were stoking here. Milo and I clearly made some kind of peace, but… it was an uneasy peace.
After the first game, the girls all went to the washroom, which just left Milo and myself. He clearly took the opportunity, and as soon as they were gone, leaned over to me.
“I don’t know either,” I preemptively told him. “I know what it looks like, and we didn’t plan this, and there’s nothing going on there. Lexi is just Lexi, and Crystal likes teasing Morgan. I do really feel bad about what you’ve told me, and… and I know, okay? Please, just… please.”
I stared down at the floor for a bit, then looked at Milo, who was just viewing me with a smug yet weirded out smile. “I was going to ask you to pass the chips.”
“Oh.” My cheeks got hot. “Uh, yeah, here you go.”
“It seems to be affecting you more than me at this point,” he observed. “I thought we were behind that stuff now, but you’re holding a grudge.”
“I bet Joel is holding a grudge too,” I defended myself.
“See? It affects you,” he replied, cool as a cucumber.
“So it doesn’t bother you when Lexi and Crystal do their… thing?” I asked.
“Why would it? Both of them are single, Crystal is clearly doing it for a joke, and your girlfriend is right there,” he reasoned. “It’s like you think I only told Joel to punish you.”
“Quinn, we really shouldn’t be having this argument here,” he interrupted. “If you still have hangups… give me your phone. I’ll give you my number, you can text me or call me or whatever. In private. Okay?”
“I don’t think I should,” I replied uneasily.
“Well, you’re my friend, so I’ll give you my number anyway,” he replied warmly. “How’s that?”
“Okay…” I replied slowly. “Okay. Friend. I like that.”
“Can I be gross?” he asked.
“This group is like a case of irritable bowel syndrome. Shit passes right through us, it could happen anytime with no warning, and the only thing we all can do is live with it.” He gave me a playful shove. “If I didn’t enjoy spending time with you, I wouldn’t be hanging out with you.”
“I don’t get how you can say that after-”
“Text me, Quinn,” he reminded me.
“No, but, this doesn’t, like, it does not compute. You seemed angry with me, now it’s like nothing happened.”
“Yeah, after a whole week. Imagine that,” he quipped. “I can pretend to be angry with you if that helps. I just felt a way, and now I’ve gone back to feeling my normal way. The event has passed. The feelings have passed. If you’re talking about what I said to Lexi, that’s just me keeping her behavior in check. I do it all the time with her. Ever since middle school, in fact.”
“I guess… I guess I feel things deeply.”
He took a swig of his soda. “That’s gotta suck in this group.”
I chuckled. “You’re telling me.”
“Well, okay. Quinn, I didn’t mean anything by it. People were told, but to me, that had to happen. I don’t want it to affect how I see you, is that good enough?”
“Well, now Taylor won’t bother being in the same place as me…” I trailed off. “It hurts.”
“Yeah, but, that’s not my fault. Taylor was planning on cutting things off with you for a bit. I didn’t only approach you, you know.”
“What?!” I asked in disbelief. Taylor definitely never told me this! What else was she hiding from me? “What did she say? Tell me everything!”
Milo sighed. “It’s great how I told you I’d rather call you about this, and you just ignored me.” He glanced at the washrooms and leaned in to me. “Okay. You know about the party at the Love’s place?”
“Wyatt Love? Yeah, I heard about it.”
“Right. So, everyone who’s anyone goes to that party. Go to it.”
“I was already planning to. Morgan’s going. She really wanted me to go.”
“Great!” Milo leaned back, as if the problem was solved.
“…I don’t get it.”
“It’s a party. A big one. Taylor will be there. If she refuses to talk to you, she can’t ignore you there. Just… be tasteful. Joel will be there too. Get it?” he asked, an expectant look on his face.
“So… you can’t tell me everything?” I asked exasperatedly. “I’d really like you to.”
Milo smiled. “Whenever I’ve told someone everything, it fires back in my face. So no, I’m shutting up if that’s cool.”
As weird as it was, in the moment it seemed Milo was… understandable. Cool, even. I feel like I could have been him if shings swung another way or something. “Okay, I understand.”
“Can I ask for some info though? In exchange for my info,” Milo piped up, eyeing the washroom again.
“Weird way to phrase it,” I replied slowly. “What’s up?”
“Lexi. She’s real cute, isn’t she?”
“Um, yeah…” I replied uneasily.
“You two have been making real good friends since you got into our group, huh?” he pressed on.
I shrugged meekly. “I guess you could say that.”
“Did she give you one of those, ‘if you weren’t dating my friend’ speeches?” he asked.
“Does she give those to every guy friend she has?” I asked worriedly.
“Nah, not all,” Milo replied coolly. “Some. Some, for sure.”
“I would never do anything against Morgan’s wishes,” I added quickly.
“Relax, relax, I know,” Milo soothed me.
“Okay,” I exhaled. “You don’t miss much, do you?”
“I miss nothing,” he replied. “Nothing but net.”
“It was nearly ‘nothing but gutter’ in the last game,” I replied.
Milo smiled at me. “I’m gonna murder you next game,” he replied.
“Bring it on.”
The first time entering the Love house – yes, people insisted on calling it that – was like getting hit with a wall of sound. Apparently Wyatt and his older brothers were famous for throwing parties, so even though I didn’t know the guy, Morgan was going to be there and insisted I would be there too. From the noise, half of the school was there with us, notably the popular half.
Thanks to the other parties she dragged me to, I was finally getting used to a few familiar faces, and they got used to me too. After Morgan and I parted to mingle, I found my closest male friend, apart from I guess Doug, I had made through Morgan. “Hey, Thomas.”
“Yo, Quinn, what’s happening?” he asked, giving me a fist bump. “You just get here?”
I looked back to the living room. We were in the kitchen, but it was kind of an open concept type of house, so it was easy to see a lot of the house from any one point. “With Morgan, yeah,” I replied, gesturing to her in the living room, chatting it up with some hunky guy.
“Man, if I saw my girl talking to Arin that close, I’d fucking punch his lights out,” Thomas observed, looking at her.
“Do I look like I can punch anyone out, d-dude?” I asked, stuttering my way through ‘dude.’ I hadn’t fully worked out the nicknames and terms of endearment or whatever people used with each other.
The guys with us gave a polite half-chuckle at my comment. “Maybe not, but hey, I dig the jacket. Way cooler than a fuckin’ tux.”
I wore a suit jacket to the last party Morgan dragged me to, and because she found it cute that I chose it, she didn’t correct me. I was the main attraction of the whole party, in a ‘zoo animal’ sort of way. “I told you, former nerd. I don’t know what to wear to parties.”
“Well, you’re getting better at it,” he replied.
“Speaking of, who the hell is Wyatt? I’ve never actually met him,” I continued.
“Wyatt? Tall guy, baby face. Ginger as fuck.” Thomas whirled his head around, looking for him. “He’s probably in his room with some girl. The dude doesn’t stop flirting. It’s why he even has these parties.”
“So he lives up to his name, huh?” I asked. When Thomas just gave me a blank expression, I pressed on. “You know… Love… Wyatt Love…”
“Yeah, welcome to grade six, dude. That’s a good joke,” Thomas replied condescendingly. “None of us ever even thought of that before.”
“Whatever, man,” I shrugged it off.
“Anyway, if you want a beer… yo Mitchell, where’s the supply?”
A douchey-looking guy with dark hair replied. “Keg’s already floated, but Calvin’s gone off to get some more. I think there’s a cooler on the deck, but you’ve gotta get it yourself. First two are free, then you gotta pay. That’s usually Love policy.”
“Wait, Mitchell?” I repeated, knowing that name.
“What’s up?” he asked.
“Were you the guy that dated Crystal this year?”
He laughed to the group. “Yeah, fuck was that ever a mistake.” He turned his attention to me. “You hang out with her a lot, right? You’re fucking brave, man. She’s so-”
“You shouldn’t have sent her underage nudes around the school.”
He stopped in mid-sentence. “Is that why you came here, to start shit?” he asked with some heat. “Time and place, man. Butt out.”
“Yeah, time and place, Quinn. Not at a party,” Thomas added. “No need to white knight for her.”
“She was really upset by that. I hope you haven’t done that with anyone else,” I continued.
“Wasn’t this like five or six months ago?” one of the guys chirped.
“Who even is this guy?” Mitchell asked Thomas.
“Quinn, not cool. Just… lay off the offense, we’re here to have a good time. We got some dirt on your girlfriend too, but that’s in the past. I think you’ve been hanging around the girls too much if you get what I’m saying,” Thomas replied.
“I just wanted to say that. It felt important to say,” I half-mumbled. I did feel cringey, but at the same time… I wanted to say it.
Clearly none of the guys were as affected by my words as the girls usually were. They just stood around, taking sips of their beers, clearly not impressed with me. “Maybe you should go say hi to some other guys or something,” one of the guys suggested.
I sighed through my nose. “I just wanted to say that, that’s all.”
“We get it, dude. You said what you wanted to say. Now why don’t you fuck off? Go get a beer, loosen up.” another guy piped up.
I stood dumbly for a second or two. “See you later, Thomas,” I finally sighed as I walked past them. I had no regrets saying what I said, and maybe it wasn’t right to bring up an old wound like that, but what was I going to do? Not defend my friend? I had to say something.
Despite not planning on drinking, I wandered out onto the deck anyway. It was a quieter part of the party, and of course, sitting on the cooler was, who else, Taylor Wise.
I looked at the ground as soon as I saw her, but it was clear she already saw me, and for whatever reason, wasn’t at all pretending to look anywhere but at me since I arrived. Joel was nowhere in sight, so at least I knew she wasn’t… planning anything? Would she do that?
“Hey,” I awkwardly began.
She gave me a polite smile but didn’t respond in any way beyond that.
“It’s nice to talk to you again,” I continued. She still didn’t reply, so I pressed on. “Right, yeah, sorry. I heard you were thinking of cutting me off even before it hit the fan, huh?”
Taylor’s smile faded. She still said nothing.
I coughed nervously. “Do you mind if I grab a, uh, drink out of there real quick?”
She just stared at me, finally speaking. “I really don’t want to give up my seat. I’m comfy here.”
“Come on, don’t be difficult,” I protested.
“I could say the same to you,” she quietly replied. It wasn’t a defiant voice; if anything it was weak.
I opened my mouth to reply but nothing came out. I looked around in exasperation, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw Joel, from inside the house, watching me like a hawk eyes its prey. No evil, no malice, but steely determination, never blinking. I was clearly already making scenes since I came here – I hadn’t really done anything but that. Without another word, I sighed and walked away, trying to avoid Joel’s gaze as I worked my way back into the house.
Parties were weird beats when I first got introduced to them, and needless to say I had a slow start with this one, but I eventually got into the groove. After a few awkward encounters, I had a fun time watching an already-too-drunk guy named Jackson attempt (and fail) the whole “pull a tablecloth off a table without moving the plates” thing, which launched into an enthusiastic conversation with the guys crowded around him. Thomas was there, and he seemed okay with me, though he seemed to keep his distance more than other parties.
Afterwards, I found out there were video games in the basement, and I was set. Unfortunately, the Love family seemed to grow up with Nintendo and not Playstation, but nobody’s perfect, and I attempted to have the best fun I could with Super Smash Brothers and Mario Kart instead of my usual choices. By the time I’d gone upstairs to find some water or something, I’d played a few rounds, watched a few others, and even made a few new friends.
Halfway through filling my cup with water from the sink, I felt some hands around my waist. I smirked. The arms felt too low to be Morgan’s.
“Hey, Lexi,” I replied, not even looking at her yet. “Having fun?”
“Mmmmh,” she moaned into my jacket, moving drunkenly back and forth. I laughed, paused, and handed her my water, figuring she needed it more than me. After getting a second cup for myself, we made it to a couch in the living room, and after taking a long drink, she started going off about boys.
“Thiss par’y iss’a best one, like, oh my god, like…” Lexi was chanting in this high-pitched voice, eventually flopping down on my shoulder. The other couch was occupied with some couple making out, which I couldn’t help but stare at. It was a guy and a girl, and she was sitting on top of him, stopping just shy of grinding on top of him, both of their tongues visible if you watched long enough. On some level, I was disgusted, but on another… I was reminded of the movie theater. I missed Morgan. Where the heck had she gone off to? Well, I guess I went off to the basement, so I couldn’t be blamed.
Lexi was also watching the couple with interest. Audible interest. She was practically whining watching them, no doubt her own hormones getting the better of him. “You know wha’ fuckin’… fuckin’ sucks?” she shouted over the music in the living room.
“What sucks?” I asked.
“Fuckin’ Jacob is a no-show!” Lexi complained. I smirked. Jacob was Lexi’s most consistent ‘dick appointment,’ as she called them. Some lucky sophomore guy that looked and acted like a senior. No doubt he could get any girl he wanted, but he came with quite the appetite to every party he went to, so at this point, Lexi sought him out. The fact she clung to me in the kitchen was basically her way of confirming he either left the party early or was a no-show at this point.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” I joked. “Well, hey, you’re at a party, there are boys everywhere. Look at them!” I gestured to the couple. “That could be you. Just go out and… be bold!”
Lexi gave me a tired look. “Easy fer you ta’ fuckin’ say,” she slurred. “Girls jus’ fall into yer lap.”
“Well, a girl, but I guess I understand,” I replied with slight confusion.
“No, like, doin’ stuff with both Morgan and Taylor!” I froze as soon as she brought Taylor’s name up. “Like, I know iss like, jus’ blowjobs an’ eating her out ‘r whatever, but like… fuck, I would kill for that!!” She kept moving her arms around exaggeratedly as she spoke, but it wasn’t her hands she was slapping me in the face with at the moment.
Who the fuck…? Clearly this was recently told to her, otherwise she never would have said what she said to me at the clothes store. Milo. It had to be. For whatever reason, Milo felt the need to stick his neck out again. No one else even could have told Lexi. Without another word, I got up and started marching around the house with purpose, looking for Milo.
On the second floor, I found him, making out with some goth-looking girl against a wall. The wall was lined up with couples making out, like some sort of weird hazing ritual, but luckily, Milo was at the beginning of the line, so it was easy to see him in the crowd. The music was quieter here, so with a well-timed cough, then a “Milo,” I managed to get him to look up.
“Um… what?” he asked impatiently.
“Can we talk?” I asked annoyedly.
“Yeah, no,” he flatly replied.
“Lexi knows about the… Lexi knows stuff she shouldn’t,” I told him angrily.
“Good for Lexi,” he replied dismissively. “Can you leave me alone?”
“Did you tell her everything?” I demanded.
“I didn’t tell her anything, go ask her who told her. She won’t say me.” He stared me down for a few seconds. “If you’re angry, it’s not with me. This moment is kinda big for me. You can text me later, but… please?”
I calmed down, digesting his words. “Okay… okay. Sorry.”
“It’s cool.” He turned back to the goth girl he had pinned against the wall. “Where were we?” Without another word, the two resumed making out, forming one organism connected at the lips. He grabbed her leg and moved it around his waist, shoving his pelvis into hers. I shook my head and looked away, going back down the stairs.
If it wasn’t Milo, there were only two options, and I didn’t like either one. Actually, there was a third option – more people knew about Taylor and myself than I thought – and I didn’t much like that idea either.
My cup was empty, and I was nervous. Not knowing what else to do, I went to the kitchen, resolving to find Morgan once I had something more to drink. Sadly, the universe had other plans for me, as I didn’t notice until the sink was already running that there was only one other guy in the kitchen. Joel Lowry.
“Hey, Quinn,” he awkwardly piped up.
“Hi, Joel,” I replied, trying to keep my voice low and casual, though I knew it was shaking. “Enjoying the party?”
“Yup, are you?”
“That’s good,” he replied, looking off.
“Anything… anything cool going on?” I asked.
“Nope, just living, just… y’know, living…” he trailed off. “You?”
“I mean, I’m here, yeah,” I replied. I was dying. “You okay? You seem… is something wrong?”
Joel looked back at me from wherever he was looking before. Eventually, he replied, “Nah, just tired. Might go home a bit early. You know, with Taylor.”
“I’m sure she’d appreciate that,” I replied, immediately not knowing if that was a faux pas or something.
Luckily, he seemingly wasn’t the hotheaded type. “I guess, yeah,” he flatly replied. “I’m gonna go look for her. Later.”
I breathed a sigh of relief as he left, taking a big gulp of water. It could have gone a lot worse, but that wasn’t fun. I had fun playing games in the basement, but this party was just a recipe for disaster. I shouldn’t have come to it.
Feeling woozy, I went back to the same couch again and plopped back onto it. Lexi was gone, but Crystal was within eyeshot, dancing to the music. So she was here too. I wondered if she saw Mitchell or something. I alternated between people-watching and resting with my head back on the couch until I felt something touching me.
I looked down to my lap to see legs being draped across my hips, resting at the edge of the couch. Sexy, confident legs. I looked back towards the source of those legs to see Taylor, sitting on the couch directly facing me, giving me a look I couldn’t quite place.
She leaned in close, smiling in a weird way. “Tonight’s the night,” she told me.
I paused. “What’s tonight, what are you talking about?”
Taylor’s smile only got bigger. She leaned in closer, and whispered in my ear, “Think of me when you do it.” she retracted, squeezing my shoulder as she gave a final smile, then got up and walked away as if nothing happened, leaving me feeling like a bundle of emotions.
Did that mean what I think it meant? But… I hadn’t seen Morgan all night. And we weren’t even at her place. And… think of Taylor? If it meant what I thought it meant, that was bold of Taylor. Like, uncalled-for bold. I remained on the couch, almost like I was under a spell this time. Something about what Taylor said affixed me to the couch, even though Crystal and eventually Milo came and went from the area around the couch. Eventually, Morgan came into view, and, uncharacteristically for her in public, smiled at me.
“Hey babe,” she greeted me, grabbing my hand and pulling me up. “Could I talk to you about something real quick? Nothing bad.”
My heart started pounding as I stood up. I felt my jeans getting tighter. This could be it. Either my imagination was running wild, or Taylor was lying, or… this was it. “Yeah,” I breathlessly told her as she led the way, guiding us both upstairs.
The wall was still adorned with actions of passion, with the flavor of the day being making out. It was an almost bizarre display of teenage passion, and I could do little but mindlessly follow Morgan’s lead as I was guided beyond the wall of lust, as we made our way to a hallway with several doors. I was throbbing by the time we passed the final couple in the hallway, and it wasn’t because I was being a voyeur.
She got to a door with a green label on the handle, and gingerly removed the label, opening the door and leading me in. She flicked on the lights and I could quickly gather this was a guest room or something. I looked around the room until I heard her close and lock the door, then looked at her in slight shock. Blushing, she smiled at me, this huge, nervous kind of smile.
I started breathing more heavily. After all this time. After making out, grinding, and performing oral on her over and over… “Tonight’s the night, huh?”
She was almost welling up, still smiling at me. “You felt it too, huh?” She practically ran forward and kissed me with such passion, I nearly fell back onto the bed.
I gave her a few kisses, then pulled away. Her crotch met mine, and she could definitely feel how hard I was. “But… here?” I asked. “Not at your place?”
She shook her head. “Parents are always there. Doug’s there. Doesn’t feel… big enough.”
I scoffed. “Yeah, speaking of…” I blushed. “You’ve been with-”
“Sssh,” she soothed me, reaching down and beginning to fondle me. “You’re everything I want. And I want you tonight. Right here, right now.”
I gazed into her eyes as she began to jack me off over my pants. “I want you too, Morgan,” I moaned.
“I want to be your first time,” she moaned back.
“I can’t imagine it being anyone but you,” I… said. Truthfully. I think. I shook my head slightly. The last thing I was going to do was debate hypotheticals at a time like this.
She smiled. “I’m so happy, Quinn,” she told me quietly, kissing me again. We got ourselves comfortable on the bed, barely stopping before trying to take up as much of the queen-size bed as we could, our tongues wrestling with each other. Our hands all over each other. My dick aching and begging to be set free. It wanted her. I wanted her. And tonight, I was finally going to claim her, after so long.
Morgan was a smartly dressed girl, but tonight she went with a long skirt and a cute blazer to match, and it was my pleasure to peel both off of her. I had eaten her out and worshiped her breasts enough times to make disrobing her easy. I could even get her bra off with one hand, something she found particularly sexy for whatever reason.
She was all too happy to reciprocate, taking my jacket off, then my t-shirt, then insisting on admiring my body before removing my pants and socks, giggling as she watched my cock throb and throb inside my underwear.
“You’re always so eager,” she murmured.
“You’re always so attractive,” I shot back.
We resumed making out with our underwear on, which led to me kissing and sucking her neck while working my hand inside of her underwear. I rubbed her clit in circles and lightly bit her neck, listening for her little moans and feeling every little squirm and spasm. Morgan was so eager for my touch, so needy. I would occasionally slow down and remove my head from her neck to look her in the eyes. She matched my look of desire with one of her own. She wanted me. She wanted me badly.
Eventually, both of us got up and removed our underwear, feeling the time was right. I smiled as I saw some of her juices clinging to her underwear. She was more than glistening, she was excited. I was going to get to fuck Morgan’s beautiful pussy. That was my fucking girlfriend right there, eager for me, begging for my cock inside her.
She bit her lip as she looked my body over, her eyes transfixed on my cock just as much as mine were on her pussy. “You look ready,” she commented, noting my precum.
“I could say the same for you,” I pointed out, making her smile again.
Her hands didn’t paw at my cock. Her eagerness didn’t outshine her experience. She knew exactly what she wanted, and she wanted me. “I don’t want to wait any longer,” she begged, grabbing a condom from the table. “I want you inside me.” She was moaning. “Please!”
I chuckled in desire, taking the condom and opening the package. I probably could have studied a bit more when it came to condoms, but after looking it over a bit, it was clear. Unravel from the outside-in. Easy.
I unraveled the condom on my dick and she watched for every second, with a soft delicate smile on her face. “I can’t believe…” she mumbled. “She looked up at me happily. “I’m so happy we’re finally doing this.”
My dick jumped. She was so sexy yet so… cute. Morgan Jones, the hardass of the group, the girl from the group most used to intimidating and being the assertive one, was being cute for me. Something about that made having sex with her so much sexier for me.
We got into position – missionary, to be specific – and kissed tenderly a few more times, before I lined my dick up with her slit, rubbing it up and down a few times. The condom was lubricated and her juices were definitely making things easier, but still, I couldn’t help but prolong it, almost out of nervousness.
Morgan was moaning, almost unconsciously. “Oh fuck, Quinn, I can’t wait, I’ve wanted this for so long,” she moaned. “Please, fuck me. Claim me.”
I nodded, grabbing myself by the shaft and easing it in slowly. Morgan started panting more heavily once she felt me enter her, and quivered when my pelvic bone met hers. I stayed there for a bit, the both of us looking each other in the eyes. I blinked a few times, feeling my eyes getting moist. She saw and gave a giggly exhale, smiling and pulling me down by the neck to kiss me. She hugged me, bringing me down to her shoulder, so we couldn’t see each other’s eyes, and whispered, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, yeah I am,” I admitted. “Just… feeling a lot.”
“Me too,” she told me softly. I pulsed inside her, and she panted in response. “Quinn, I… I love you.”
I felt my body tense, then release. My muscles contracted and released, like I was crying. She hugged me tighter as I realized I probably was crying, but it wasn’t like a sad cry. This just… felt so good. I was in heaven, with the one girl I truly wanted. Even with my tears, I started slowly moving my hips back and forth, and Morgan started moving her hips in tandem with me.
This was it. My first time. With Morgan. No judgment, even with me crying, just love and acceptance. This was the best thing, this was amazing. I was so happy. “I love you too,” I whispered back, and began to pump my hips in earnest and fill her with myself, learning on the job just how amazing sex felt, even with the condom on.
It was truly amazing. I wanted to do it every day. I wanted her every day. Morgan was making me go crazy, and even though I couldn’t see anything with the tears in the way, I was dedicated to making sure she enjoyed herself as much as possible. I picked up speed, going from slow gentle lovemaking to animalistic fucking.
Even with the condom, it was still my first time, and I became all too aware that I got close annoyingly quickly. Just as I started to truly fuck her, I started to slow down, and compensated for the slowing down with purposefully deep, rough strokes, as if it was my plan from the start. Eventually, the tears stopped enough that I could resume making out with her, also giving me a few precious seconds to recover enough to continue fucking her, and at a fast enough pace that Morgan was feeling ravaged, and claimed, just as she wanted.
And I wanted to claim her. Morgan’s little squeaks and moans were accentuated by every decision I made. As I took in the pleasure of the moment, I would grab her hair and experimentally yank, or bite into her neck a little harder than usual, or surprise myself with something like that. Each time, I wasn’t told off, but rather rewarded, each time with a guttural submissive sound I’d never heard Morgan make before.
“Fuck, I really like that…” Morgan moaned. “I… never… liked that… before…” She opened her eyes and they were practically rolled back into her head. “But… I think… I like it… with you…”
Hearing her say that spurred me on, and a thought I never thought would be mine popped into my head. “Do you trust me?” I breathed into her ear.
“Yesssss…” she purred.
“Could I try something… risky with you?” I asked, my voice quivering.
“Fuck yes,” she practically squeaked. “Worst I can… say is… stop doing it…” She was super into this, and clearly eager to see what I thought of. Clearly, she was less scared of it than I was, which only gave me more confidence to try it.
Here went nothing. Throwing caution to the wind, I wound my arm back and slapped my girlfriend across the face. Shock painted her entire face, accentuated by the long, thick thrusts my cock was giving her. She slowly closed her eyes and took in the feelings.
“That was…” she began in a small voice. “Wow, Quinn, I- fuck. Do it again. Sir.”
Holy shit. I had to slow down again just due to the shock alone. It was so hot. My assertive queen bee girlfriend, begging for me to slap her face again. And I was not about to disappoint her. Deciding to be fair to both sides of her face, I wound my other hand back and slapped her again, immediately getting rewarded with a low moan from her.
“Fuck yes, I’m your little bitch…” she moaned, to herself. Damn, she was a little freak.
Even though it was our first time, we experimented like that the entire time. I learned a few valuable things – don’t hit too close to the jaw or the ear, different angles for the palm or fingers being the contact point, supplement with kisses. It was so hot, and watching Morgan’s cheeks get redder as I kept fucking her was the hottest thing in the world.
I think we both knew when my orgasm arrived. My muscles stiffened, I started getting faster and I leaned away from slapping her and back into crying mode, with her coaxing me the whole time.
“You going to cum? Do it, babe. Do it, Quinn. Cum for me. Fill me. Flood me.”
Tears streamed down my face and I roared as I shot what felt like dozens of spurts into the condom, imagining filling Morgan up. I saw stars, both from exhaustion and feeling like Morgan was my key to the universe. She moaned and stroked up and down my arms as I unloaded inside her, with my roar eventually subsiding. I collapsed on top of her, with her stroking my hair.
Eventually, I got the strength to hoist myself up, looking into her eyes and breaking into a goofy grin. “S-sorry for crying,” I managed.
She kissed me deeply. “Do not apologize for what happened,” she ordered. “That was wonderful. The best first time I’ve had with any guy. I’d take the guy that cried over any other guy. No one made me feel half as good as that.” She paused and bit her lip. “And no one ever made me actually like getting slapped before.”
“Really?” I wasn’t exactly some expert at it. Hell, I was a novice who had a weird idea in the moment. How did I…?
Overthinking. Morgan said it felt good, so it felt good. I smiled at her, and kissed her again. “Can I say the thing I said while we were…?” I trailed off.
She laughed. “We said a lot of things there, Quinn,” she pointed out.
I nodded, and blushed. “I love you, Morgan,” I said emphatically.
She smiled. “I love you too,” she replied, kissing me again.
Taylor would have been disappointed. I didn’t think of her at all until after we were both fully dressed again.
I was shocked to find Kevin still in the living room when I stumbled back into the house.
“Hey, Kevin,” I practically sang to him. I was on Cloud Nine. The rest of the night was spent with Morgan, and I loved every second of it. “Are Mother and Father asleep?”
“Yup, they are,” he replied in a low-energy voice. “How was the party?”
“Amazing,” I replied honestly. “How was your night?”
He sighed, and turned to me with a morose smile, pausing his game. “Y’know Quinn, I really am so happy for you that you turned yourself around,” he began. “But man. I look at you, how you’re getting invited to parties and stuff, and I just… did I do something wrong?”
“What do you mean?” I asked, my tone losing its jovial nature. I sat down next to him, and he unpaused.
“Well, you didn’t care about getting in,” he noted. “You just happened to tutor one girl, get with her friend, and suddenly, you got an in to the Love party. I’m just feeling bummed, I guess.”
“Trust me, you didn’t miss much. Most of it was just needless drama and bad feelings,” I replied earnestly.
He laughed. “We both know that sounds up my alley,” he replied. “I dunno. I’m happy for you and all, but I can’t help but…”
I felt bad about it, but I broke into a grin. “Are you jealous of me?” I realized. “Oh, how the tables have turned.”
“I just feel like I dedicated myself to the wrong allegiances is all,” he noted. “What do you think? I mean, you’re kinda past me in the food chain at this point. You could even say I helped you. So, got any advice for me?”
I opened my mouth, then closed it. I thought to myself for a bit and let myself speak. “Well… I don’t think I could help you, but my friends could,” I began.
“How do you mean?”
“Well, when I was shopping, I talked to Morgan and Lexi about you.”
“Aw, they don’t count, they don’t like me,” he butted in.
“Well, exactly,” I pointed out. “They think you… saw high school as this… transactional thing. Like, it’s too much about allegiances, and not enough about people. They saw you as this brown-noser who wanted connections, and thought that whenever you felt you could benefit from being around them, they felt drained to be around you.”
“Like I’m a parasite? Jeez. And what did you say in my honor?” He asked, his mind on the game.
“I… don’t disagree,” I said gingerly. He paused the game. “Like, I get why they would feel like that. Maybe they need to see you as a person, not a businessman of clout or something, but I think you’ll need to put in effort too.”
Kevin looked at me for the longest time. “That’s how you see me?” he asked, clearly emotionally affected.
“It’s how they see you, and it makes total sense why they see it,” I corrected him. “They’re wrong, but… you could care more about them too.” I got up. “Maybe I could put in a good word for you and get you invited to a party or something, but if you want to be invited back, that might depend on how you treat people. Like people? Or like transactions.” I stood up. “Is it okay if I go to bed? I had a long day.”
Kevin watched me trudge off to our room. I hoped I hadn’t gone too far, but I really did want to see things get better, and this seemed like the best way to go about it. Before I got out of earshot, I heard Kevin call, “Quinn!”
I turned around. “Yeah?”
He looked at me with this half-mesmerized, half-offended smile. “…Who are you?” he asked with a lilt of humor in his voice.
I smiled back. “Changing, I think,” I joked back.
His smile got bigger and lost its offended look. “It suits you,” he replied back. “Morgan must be, uh… quite a girl.”
“She really is,” I replied, then turned back to walk to my room. That night, I’m pretty sure I hadn’t stopped smiling until after I fell asleep.
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