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This is a five-chapter series, which I hope will come out Monday through Friday. The first and last chapters are much bigger than the middle chapters. Enjoy!
“You want me to do what?” I asked my sister Kaitlyn in surprise.
“Please, Brandon. Please date Joanna for the summer.” Joanna was her long-time best friend. “I think you’ll have a great time together, and she really needs to date a better class of guy. It would mean so much to me.”
I knew I should have suspected something when Kaitlyn had baked my favorite cake this afternoon. She had waited until I had eaten a big slice before asking. “Joann is nice, and I like her, but we’ve never clicked. And she can find a boyfriend quite easily on her own.”
Kaitlyn sighed. “Yeah, she can, but she always finds the wrong kind of guy.” I knew what was coming. “The good-looking, super-confident guys with a lot of money that turn out to be jerks. The last one really did a number on her.”
“What did he do?” I did like Joanna as a friend, and I didn’t like hearing a guy had hurt her.
“He introduced her to coke.” Kaitlyn’s anger rose as she spoke. “Then she caught him cheating on her; he apologized and said it was a terrible mistake; she took him back; and when she caught him cheating on her again, he totally blamed her for his cheating.”
My jaw dropped. “How could it be her fault?”
“She had gotten flabby; she wasn’t giving him enough sex; she was just using him for the coke, and he had wised up.” Kaitlyn had counted off on her fingers as she had gone through the list. “All bullshit, but it’s destroyed her self-confidence.”
“Asshole.” I hated guys who treated girls like shit.
“Exactly. He’s the worst guy she’s dated, but she keeps dating losers like him. That’s why I want you to date her for the summer.”
I stalled by asking, “Do you know the difference between a porcupine and a BMW?”
Kaitlyn give me a little grin. “No.”
“With the porcupine, the prick is on the outside.”
Kaitlyn laughed. “Too true. At least it’s been too true for Joanna.” Kaitlyn frowned slightly. “Look, Brandon, I know you two have never clicked, but just for the summer, could you do it? It’s not like you’ve got a lot of other options, do you?”
I had broken up with my last girlfriend a little over a month ago. In the three years since I had graduated, I had lost touch with most of my friends from high school. I didn’t know a single girl I could ask out now that I was home for the summer. I liked Joanna, and I’d love to have a girlfriend for the summer, but…
“Even though I have a lot of fun with Joanna when she’s with you, I’ve never been able to keep a conversation going with her when it’s just the two of us.”
Kaitlyn said, “It’s because you intimidate her.” I snorted. “Seriously. She’s always had a big crush on you. She would talk with me all the time about you. I think she’s wanted you to like her so much she’s never been able to relax around you. I think you’ll have a lot of fun with her once she gets used to being with you.”
I had always suspected Joanna had a crush on me, and what Kaitlyn said sounded plausible. Why not give her a chance?
But before I could say anything, Kaitlyn said, “How about this, Brandon; the three of us will go out. If you’re having a good time, then act like it’s a date. I won’t mind being a third wheel.”
That was an interesting idea. “What about Paul?” Paul was Kaitlyn’s boyfriend. As Kaitlyn and I attended the same university, I had met him briefly a couple of times. He lived three hours away and would be visiting on weekends.
“I don’t want to double-date. When Paul’s here, I want to be totally focused on him. But during the week, you, Joanna, and I could go out.”
“I’d be up for the three of us going out,” I added to keep expectations reasonable, “No promises, but I’ll give Joanna a chance.”
* * * *
Tuesday, Joanna was waiting outside of her apartment building. I hadn’t seen her in a long time as she could only afford to go to the local community college, but she looked as good as I remembered her; black hair that came down below her shoulders, dark brown eyes, dark eyebrows, dark lashes that boldly stood out against her light olive complexion, and lips on the thin side that formed a pretty smile when she saw us pull up. She was wearing a white tank top that showed off her nice upper body. Her tits were on the small side but fit her slim figure. Sexy legs extended below her light blue shorts. Joanna had played volleyball in high school and had had a firm body. She wasn’t in that same shape, but she still looked damn good to me. How a guy could call her flabby was beyond me.
Kaitlyn got out of the passenger seat and got in the back seat so Joanna could sit next to me. When Joanna got in the car, she said, “Hey Brandon. Long time, no see.”
“Ditto. You look great. Are college and work treating you well?”
“I love my job. School’s okay. Classes are too easy, and there are some spooky kids in my classes.”
As casino siteleri I headed towards the mall, Joanna told me about her college experience. On the way, my phone rang. When I checked it, I saw that the Caller ID was “United States,” so I sent it to voice mail.
“Who was that?” Joanna asked. “The girl you’re going to go out with after you drop me off?” She tried to make it sound like she was teasing, but it was too barbed and insecure.
Not a great start to a date. “This girl who works at a furniture store. She keeps calling me even though I’ve told her time and time again that all I was looking for was one nightstand.”
Kaitlyn snorted and then cracked up. Joanna joined in laughing, and the tension diffused.
We went to the mall, had dinner, and shopped for a while. As I expected, Joanna and I didn’t talk much directly to each other. Instead, she and Kaitlyn would talk, and I’d jump in occasionally; or Kaitlyn and I would talk, and Joanna would jump in occasionally. Still, it was a lot of fun.
We went to a movie, where Kaitlyn had me sit in the middle. About halfway through, Kaitlyn jabbed me in the ribs with her elbow, and I took that as a hint to hold Joanna’s hand. When I took it, Joanna gave my hand a squeeze. After the movie was over, we walked hand-in-hand as we exited the theater.
On the way to my car, Kaitlyn asked, “How about I drive, and you two sit in back?”
I looked at Joanna, who nodded. “Okay.” I reviewed how the date went, as we continued walking to my car. I had had fun, but only because Kaitlyn was along. I decided tentatively that I’d like to go out with Joanna again, but only if Kaitlyn went with us.
Kaitlyn said, “How about we go back to our house?”
Joanna said, “Your parents are probably getting ready for bed.”
Kaitlyn replied, “They’re always happy to see you.”
I suspected that if Joanna went to our house, Kaitlyn would push for her to spend the night with me. It was way too early for that. “Let’s take Joanna home.”
Kaitlyn gave me a look that could have melted paint as I gave her my keys. I held the door open for Joanna to sit in the backseat, and then went around the car to join her. We held hands on the drive back to her apartment while we talked to Kaitlyn about the movie. When we got to her apartment building, I got out, opened the door for her, and gave her a goodnight kiss. Kaitlyn moved over to the passenger seat, and I got in behind the wheel.
Kaitlyn said, “You could have done more.”
I raised my hand in a what-were-you-expecting? gesture. “Maybe I could have, but I’m fine with how the evening went. I had a good time, and we had no awkward moments.”
“It’s that…she’s agreed to be your girlfriend for the summer. You didn’t give her a chance to be.”
“We’ve gone on one date. It’s too early to talk about her being my girlfriend.”
“I asked you to date Joanna for the summer. The whole summer. That’s what you agreed to.”
“What? No.” I shook my head. “I didn’t agree to her being my girlfriend for the whole summer. I only agreed to go out with her. One date at a time, and no promises as to how long I’ll date her.”
“Well…I want her to go to the lake with us. And that’s in five weeks.”
Dad’s family owned a cabin on a lake five hours away from us. It was a small, three-bedroom place that in years past we visited several times each summer. This year, because of my job, we’d only spend one full week there.
“Is Paul going to the lake with us?” I asked.
“Yes. Mom and Dad have already approved it. And I can tell you from personal experience it’s no fun being single at the lake when your sibling has their significant other.”
Yeah, it had sucked for Kaitlyn the last two years. She had had to go with my parents in the evening when they had taken a walk to give me and my girlfriend privacy.
“Maybe Joanna won’t want to go to the lake.”
“She’s already asked for the time off.” Joanna had gotten a job at an insurance office after high school and had gotten Kaitlyn a job there for the summer. “I’ve convinced her that she needs to get used to having a good guy as a boyfriend, so she’s ready to be your girlfriend. That includes sex.”
I laughed. “Because I’m a good guy, I’m not going to push her to have sex before she’s ready.”
Kaitlyn flashed me a you’re-an-idiot look. “She’s ready. If you had taken her to our house, you could have made love tonight. She loves sex, and she’s hot for you.”
I shook my head in amazement. “Well, I’m not ready to have sex yet. I feel like I’m still getting to know her.”
Kaitlyn snorted. “She’s been my best friend for six years. She’s been constantly at our house that whole time. You’ve spent lots of time with her.”
“I’ve known her as your friend but not as someone I was interested in. I need to warm up to her.”
I didn’t know what Kaitlyn wanted from me. I had told her upfront that I wasn’t wild about Joanna. Just because she had talked Joanna into that it’d canl─▒ casino be a good experience to have me as a boyfriend didn’t mean it’d work well for us to jump into bed together. I wasn’t looking for sex; I was looking for a relationship in which sex happily fit. It takes time to build that kind of relationship. How could Kaitlyn not understand that?
* * * *
The next day was the first day of my summer job; one Dad had gotten me at a golf course where he regularly played. I was going to be working eight-to-five, Wednesday-to-Sunday.
After work, I went home and cleaned up for another night out with Kaitlyn and Joanna. When I got in the car with Kaitlyn, she asked, “How was work?”
“Okay. I spent the morning driving golf carts from the barn to where golfers drive off in them. Once things slowed down there, I went with a groundskeeper to trim bushes on the course and to haul trimmings. For the last two hours, I drove golf carts from where the golfers drop them off to the back side of the barn, washed them off, and put them away. My boss told me to run whenever I went to or from the barn, and I did.”
“Sounds like a lot of running.”
“A lot of hard work. I’m tired. You and Joanna are going to crush me tonight.”
We picked up Joanna and went to play tennis. Kaitlyn and I had been on the tennis team in high school and Joanna had learned to play from hanging around with Kaitlyn. Joanna and Kaitlyn were on one side and I was on the other. Facing them both, I couldn’t help noticing the contrast between the two. Both were pretty, but in very different ways. Kaitlyn had lightly-freckled pale skin, brilliant blue eyes, and honey-brown long hair that was braided into a ponytail. She was much curvier than Joanna, with broader shoulders, an ample bust and a little wider hips. I enjoyed watching both of them bounce around the court. I was the better player, but I was tired and had to cover more court so they won 6-1, 6-2, 6-1.
Afterward, the three of us sat down at a picnic table close to the courts. I held Joanna’s hand while we talked. After five minutes, Kaitlyn said, “I’m going to go for a walk.”
Once Kaitlyn was out of earshot, I asked Joanna, “So what do you think of us dating?”
“If Kaitlyn hadn’t pressured you into doing it, I’d be loving it.” She shrugged her shoulders, implying she wasn’t loving it. “But she’s right that I need to date better guys and all the girls you dated while I was in high school said you were a really good boyfriend.”
“They told you that?” I asked incredulously.
“Yeah. Well, all the girls you dated were good friends of mine!”
I thought back to the girls I had dated. They had all been friends of Kaitlyn, which made them friends of Joanna as well. “Well, I can’t help it that my sister kept bringing home girls I got along well with.”
“But you never got along well with me.” It was a statement of fact.
I needed to turn this around. “I wasn’t the type of guy you were looking for and I didn’t see any point in giving you unwanted interest.” I had said that matter-of-factly, but then I said more positively, “We’re getting along fine now.”
I leaned forward and kissed Joanna. She smiled and her eyes twinkled. I waited for her to initiate the next kiss. She did, and we kissed gently for the next few minutes.
I asked, “How’s your mom doing?”
Joanna sighed. “She’s dating another loser and I’m afraid she’s getting close to inviting him to move in.”
“Why is he a loser?”
“He’s like so many of the guys my mom has been involved with ÔÇö can’t commit to a relationship. He’ll live with Mom for a couple of years and then drift on out. Mom’s saying ‘This time it’ll be different’, but it never is. At least I’m old enough that he doesn’t have to pretend he’s going to be my dad. I hated that.” It must have been tough having father-figures appear and disappear. “But if he moves in, I’m moving out.”
Joanna’s body language was weird. When Kaitlyn had been with us, she had been relaxed and had talked light and carefree. Now, she was tense and uneasy. It was like she felt that she had to say something about her mom because I had asked, but she wasn’t comfortable talking to me about her.
I asked, “Where would you move to?”
“I don’t know. Kaitlyn and I have talked about subletting a place for the rest of the summer. I told her that I didn’t want her spending money on rent just to help me, but she said Paul’s not comfortable with staying at your parents’ so he’d probably help with the rent if we got a place.”
“Why isn’t he comfortable staying at my parents?”
“Because it’s weird. What parents let their kids have people spend the night with them?”
I was a little surprised by her question. “Don’t you know the story behind that?”
“Vaguely. It had something to do with Chelsea.” Chelsea had been one of my high school girlfriends.
“Well, it really starts with my two cousins, Piper and Reagan.”
Joanna searched her memory. “I don’t ka├žak casino think I’ve met them. Kaitlyn hasn’t mentioned them much.”
“They’re much older than her. Piper is five years older than me, and Reagan is two years older. We’d do things with them at the lake house during the summer, but we were never close because of the age difference. They’re my dad’s brother’s daughters and my dad’s brother’s family used the lake house like we did until Piper’s summer before her senior year in high school.”
“What happened then?”
“Piper had a serious boyfriend. My aunt and uncle were planning on spending two weeks at the lake house, and she didn’t want to be apart from him that long. Her family forced her to go, and she whined and moped the whole two weeks. When she graduated from high school, she moved in with her boyfriend and hasn’t been to the lake house since.”
“Ouch!” said Joanna sympathetically.
“It gets worse. Summer before Reagan’s senior year, she had a serious boyfriend and didn’t want to go to the lake house. My aunt and uncle said she could bring her boyfriend to the lake house, and she seemed fine with that. But then my aunt and uncle wouldn’t give her and her boyfriend any privacy. Reagan wanted to sleep with her boyfriend, and her parents said no. Reagan and her boyfriend fought with my aunt and uncle the whole two weeks. Once Reagan graduated from high school, she moved in with her boyfriend and hasn’t been to the lake house since.”
“Double ouch! Do your aunt and uncle still go to the lake house?”
“Well, after a rough couple of years, everyone seems to have patched things up. They’re going to the lake house for a long Fourth of July, and my cousins will be there with their boyfriends.”
I nodded my head. “It is. My parents have been really upset about the situation. Kids pull away from their parents, but I don’t think any parent wants their kid to pull away that hard and that fast. My parents sure don’t.” My parents loved spending time with Kaitlyn and me. “So that’s the background. The summer before my senior year of high school, I’m dating Chelsea and I don’t want to go to the lake house for two weeks.”
“That must have frightened your parents. They’d seen that horror movie twice already.”
“They knew it was coming, so they were prepared.”
Joanna crinkled her nose. “But you went, didn’t you? I went with Kaitlyn that summer, and Chelsea didn’t come.”
“Yeah. I went because my parents offered me a deal: if I went to the lake house that summer and continued doing family trips; then when I turned eighteen and became an adult, they’d respect my right to have privacy with my adult girlfriend. That meant I could have girls spend the night and take them to the lake house with me.”
“So you forced them into letting you have girls sleep over?”
I made an unhappy face. Joanna’s face fell, like she was kicking herself for saying something that made me unhappy. “I wouldn’t say force. If they had said I had to go to the lake house, I would have moped a little but I wouldn’t have taken it as badly as Piper did. But my parents didn’t want to risk it. A lot of other parents give my parents grief for the deal, but my parents push back with that they think they are more involved with my life because of it.” I smiled. “I like it. I don’t have to pretend I’m not having sex with a girl, and I don’t have to struggle to find someplace where we can be alone. I wouldn’t bring a one-night-stand home, but I’m not a one-night-stand kind of guy. I don’t know if I would have come home for the summer without it. It’s worked so well for me that my parents gave Kaitlyn the same deal.” Joanna nodded in understanding. “My parents seem to genuinely enjoy it when Kaitlyn or I have someone spend the night as they want to get to know well the people we’re dating. So there’s no reason for Paul to feel uncomfortable about staying at our house.”
“I’d find it uncomfortable. And he’s got a lot of money. His dad owns a good-sized business and puts a LOT of money into Paul’s checking account each month. Paul is working for his dad for the summer, so he has even more money. I think that’s his main appeal to Kaitlyn ÔÇö he spends a lot of money on her.”
Joanna wouldn’t look at me when she talked. When she was done talking, she’d sneak a peek at me. I wished she would be like she was when Kaitlyn was with us.
“Yeah. Don’t get me wrong ÔÇö she’s not dating him just because he spends a lot of money on her. He sounds very sweet. She loves him; not I-want-to-marry-him love but I-really-want-to-see-where-this-goes love.” Joanna paused and sneaked a peek at me to gauge my reaction. “If Paul won’t help with the rent, Kaitlyn said she’d tried to convince your parents to let me live with them. She’s such a great friend. Has Kaitlyn told you we’re going to get an apartment together in the fall?”
This was big news. “No.”
“I got a big raise at work for my one-year anniversary, so I can afford to change schools now instead of waiting another year. Everything had seemed set until Mom said something about her loser moving in.”
I squeezed Joanna’s hand. “I wish you luck.” We weren’t far enough along in our relationship for me to offer more than that.
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