"So, do you feel cheap?" Brenda asked.
"Well, two dates with two different guys in less than twenty-four hours."
"Does Dan know you had a date with someone else yesterday?"
Chris shrugged. "Not directly, no. I told him I had plans with someone. I figured there was no sense saying anything for a first date. There's no telling I'll see either of them a second time."
"You don't think so?"
"Who knows? Erik knows why Mike and I broke up, I didn't tell Dan. I didn't want him to think I was a complete idiot."
"You don't care if Erik does?"
Chris sighed. "He got beat up because of me, Brenda."
"You mean because of me."
"It doesn't matter. That night. You. Me. Either way. I guess I owed him the truth. I could've left some of it out, I guess, but without telling him why we stopped in the first place he wouldn’t have understood how Sara got out of the car to begin with."
"I suppose you have a point. At least he knows you're not easy."
"I'm not sure that's a selling point."
"Maybe it is," she shrugged. "Not all guys are like Mike Toddwell, Chris."
"Speaking from your vast amounts of experience."
"Well, okay, no, but I listen at school. So do you. You have to. Not all guys pressure their girlfriends to have sex."
"Do you listen to the same conversations I do, Brenda? Because most of them seem to revolve around partying and getting laid."
"Well, sure, if you listen to the guys. It's their girlfriends you have to really listen to. Unless they're all lying and doing it. Sesame I can believe."
"God, I still can't believe he was with her. And he fed her the same lines! Really? He saw me as no better than her? Last week I was mad, but now that I've had more time to think about it I'm not mad."
"Well, no, I'm insulted. Come on. Okay, maybe thinking he was the one was the wrong thing to do so fast, but it's not like I just met him. I'd seen him around Aaron for years. I guess I figured he wouldn't do anything wrong with his friend's sister. He has a little sister, you know?"
"Right," Brenda agreed, seeming to see Chris' point.
"God, I'm lucky I didn't sleep with him, I probably would have caught syphilis or something. Can you imagine?"
"Well, just take it slow with Dan and Erik. It's our senior year and our last summer before college. Have fun, you don't have to make a choice between them, or either of them, right away you know."
"I know. I'll see what happens. If I learned anything from Mike that's it, I was too quick to fall in love."
"Do you think you really loved him, though?"
"I loved the guy I thought he was not the jerk he is, but I see how easily I was fooled. I'm not going to let that happen again."
"Good. Whoever it is, Erik and Dan have their work cut out for them it would seem."
"Maybe it's you who owes me for last weekend not the other way around."
Chris laughed. "Maybe you're right."
"I'm just glad you're not moping about Mike."
"Good. I told you he wasn't all that."
"You did. I'm just sorry I wasted so much time on him."
"I know. You had to listen to me talk about him. Did you know about Sesame?"
"Not about her specifically, no, but I heard things," she shrugged.
"Why didn't you say something?"
"I wasn't sure. What was I supposed to do? Tell you I'd heard he was a playboy. What if he wasn't? What if they were just rumors? You wouldn't have listened if I didn't have proof and I didn't want to be the one to break your heart."
"I guess I understand that."
"At least you're talking about college again."
On the way home Wednesday, Chris thought over what Erik had said while they were eating pizza. Her parents assumed she would go to college and Chris had sort of, too. Until she started dating Mike and then she started wondering what the point was. Erik had a valid point, though. She had to be able to support herself because, well, anything could happen.
"I looked through some catalogs Thursday with Mom."
"If you go to Lake Forest we could request one another as roommates."
"It'd be better than a total stranger."
"I don't have any doubts about having you as my roommate. I just don't know what I want to do, Brenda."
"What did you want to do before Mike? Besides, that's what your freshman year is for. You take classes that interest you and decide on your major from there."
"Mom called on Friday about taking a tour."
"Of Lake Forest?"
"And you waited until now to tell me?"
"I've been kind of busy."
"What does your mom think about you having two dates in one weekend?"
"She didn't say much. I think she's happy to see I'm not moping about Mike, too."
"I'm not sure he noticed."
"He didn't notice two different guys picked you up?"
"You know Dad," Chris shrugged. "He just doesn't pay attention to things like that. He met Mike once or twice, but that was only after he'd picked me up a few times. I'm not sure what he thought of him."
"So, you had dinner with Dan."
"No," she said with a shrug. "We went to Baskin Robbins for ice cream afterward and then to a park and sat on the swings for a while and talked."
"You went to Baskin Robbins twice?"
"You'd better be careful; you'll gain fifty pounds if they both keep taking you there."
Chris laughed. "I know! Although Erik and I walked around the zoo so much Saturday that I don't think the ice cream mattered much."
"I haven't been to Brookfield in years."
"I hadn't either. It was fun."
"A little cold."
"Hmm, he didn't offer to keep you warm?"
"Well, he held my hand."
"Surprised me, too, he doesn't seem like the hand holding type. The thing that was so nice about it, it wasn't so crowded. I remember going there as a kid during the summer and it was packed so you never got to see the animals or exhibits very well. Or if you had a good spot you were pushed out of the way after like two minutes."
"So, plans to see either of them again?"
"He said he'd call this week."
"At least neither of them was a jerk."
"No. They were both very nice."
"Who's the better kisser?"
"Well, it's a natural question. I know you kissed them both at least once."
"I don't know yet."
"You don't know yet?"
"No! It's not something I want to talk about."
"Because I don't know!"
She did kind of. Dan was a good kisser, but he was so polite about it. Not that there was anything wrong with that, but after Mike she was a little unsure about someone seeming so polite. Clearly, Mike's politeness was all an act. To what end, she wasn't sure beyond getting her to have sex with him. Erik was probably right that he was softening her up until she caved in, believing he was too good to be true. Truth was she'd kind of had a crush on Mike as a little girl when Mike and her brother Aaron were on the same baseball team together. When he'd asked her out she couldn't believe it because as they'd grown up and gone to high school and college Mike and Aaron hadn't really stayed friends.
Erik kissed her like he really wanted to and maybe wanted to do more. It should bother her that he wasn't afraid to convey that attraction in his kiss, but she kind of liked it in an odd way. He didn't try anything else, but there was something about it. Letting her know that things were in her hands but he had no qualms about tempting her a little bit. More honest.
He hadn't kissed her ear or anything last night as he did on Wednesday. His hands hadn't even gone anywhere but her face and neck. He hadn't worn gloves, even when they were walking around the zoo, and she couldn't help but notice in addition to how large his hands were they were kind of rough. She'd never been close to anyone who did things with their hands so it had been a first for her.
"You really don't think I'm a bad person?"
"Chris, you're not a bad person. You just broke up with someone who lied and cheated. You have two guys interested in you. I don't think either of them would blame you for seeing what was out there for a while before you decide."
"I guess. I've just never done anything like this."
"You never had the chance to before! Take advantage of it, Chris. God, two guys competing for you. Enjoy the attention."
"Aren't you seeing Aaron Parker's younger sister?" Chad asked Mike.
Mike popped the top on his beer and shook his head. "Why?"
"I saw her over the weekend."
"And your point is, Chad."
"She was with guys."
"She has friends."
"No, she looked like she was on dates with them."
"Yes. I was visiting Cin at work and she came in both nights."
"Yes, is that not just what I said?"
"I'm not really sure what you said."
"I'm telling you, man, she was on dates with two different guys."
"You obviously saw wrong."
"So you are seeing her then?"
"I was," he said softly.
"I thought so."
"Yeah, she, uh, saw me out with someone else."
"When was this?"
"Well, she's obviously recuperating quickly."
"And I'm telling you that you saw wrong. Chris Parker would never go out with two guys at a time. She'd probably think she was going to burn in hell just for thinking about something like that. Judging by her reaction to seeing me with Sesame, there's no way it's occurred to her that settling down isn't the normal way of things. We're animals, Chad, we're not supposed to be monogamous. One man, one woman. Whoever thought of that crap is a sadist."
"You're lucky she didn't tell Aaron."
Mike scoffed. "As if Aaron could do anything about it."
"Oh come on, you had your eye on her for years. I remember the few times we were at parties at his house. You telling me someone did that to your little sister you'd just sit back?"
"Leave her out of this. Aaron doesn't know. Chris and Aaron don't talk much. Besides she's hot, I'm not blind. I had no way of knowing she was a prude. Believe me, I tried, too, nothing worked with her."
"She didn't seem very prudish this weekend."
"In the middle of Baskin Robbins?"
Chad shrugged. "She seemed like she was having a good time both nights. I don't know. I paid more attention than I probably should have because I thought she was with you. She didn't recognize me I guess, because she said hi to Cin but nothing to me."
"Anyone we know?"
"No, never seen either guy before. The one on Saturday night sat next to her, had his arm around her chair and everything. They shared their ice cream."
"How romantic," Mike said.
"What's so wrong with her?"
"Nothing, Chad. I'm not the type to settle down. I swear she was ready to pick out china patterns. It wouldn't surprise me if she was already paging through bridal magazines."
"There are worse women to think about settling down with than her. Man, did you see this month's issue of Playboy?"
Mike chuckled. "Yeah, I've seen it."
"I couldn't believe it. If I didn't know she wasn't eighteen I'd swear it was her."
"Christ, Chad, I couldn't get my hand under her shirt and you think she's going to take her clothes off in front of a camera."
"Well, I just thought I'd tell you I saw her I didn't know you weren't still with her."
"Nah, it was over last weekend. I'm still not sure how she caught me. She showed up with these kids at the restaurant I was supposed to take her to downtown. I never pegged her for the type to do that. Talk about clingy and crazy."
"Maybe she suspected you were lying?"
"Yeah, well, still more than I need to deal with. Too much baggage and emotional investment for little to no return."
"Come on, she's seventeen."
"When was the last time you had a case of blue balls, Chad?"
"Well, I've been with Cin forever so I don't remember."
"Try going weeks with no action. I shouldn't have to deal with that. Believe me Sesame made sure that wasn't a problem for me that night. I wasn't ready to call it quits with her, but I'm not a monk. If she wasn't going to put out I had to find it somewhere."
"You know not everyone has to have sex all of the time."
"Yeah, well, maybe they just don't know what the equipment they have is meant to be used for. If we weren't supposed to have sex we wouldn't get hard-ons."
"You're unbelievable sometimes, you know that?"
"So I've been told. She's nice, pretty even. She was just too serious for me. And the no sex thing. Christ, dates at nice French restaurants. Prom. All this shit she wanted to do with no reciprocation."
"But if she hadn't caught you out with someone else you'd still be seeing her."
"And this happened last weekend?"
"Well, I'm just wondering. Has it occurred to you that maybe you weren't the only one looking elsewhere."
"You think she was cheating on me? Don’t be ridiculous."
"Well, maybe not seeing anyone else, but her eyes had to be open in other directions. How else does she come up with a date with two different guys the weekend after breaking up with you? She had school all week, neither looked as if they're in high school. You say she was serious about you."
Mike shrugged. "Who knows? I don't know what women like her think. Good luck to those guys, though. If I knew who they were I'd warn them away from her. Biggest waste of my time."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com