Gee, Thanks Mom!

By BDLong
xxx-fiction-story-disclaimer-top2

I should be honest upfront. My family is wealthy. I don’t like to think of us as super-duper rich, but I’ve never had to worry about a thing in my life, so maybe we are. It’s nice, but sometimes it can make things awkward, especially when making new friends. Take the house, for example. It was my first year at university. Instead of living in the communal dorms like a normal student, my parents insisted that I take over the family “cottage” that sat nestled in the hills overlooking the town. I put “cottage” in quotes because it was a house. Despite my separation from campus, I had managed to make a friend, Miriam, and had been to her family’s house, which looked like a cottage compared to my new home.

Ostensibly, my parents put me in the cottage because, although not famous, my family name was known in certain circles, and they were concerned that other students or staff might try to take advantage of that fact. I’m not stupid, though. My isolation was to keep me away from the common rabble, especially boys. After university, the plan was obviously to marry me off to the son of another wealthy family. I had seen it happen to family friends, male and female, and the thought of it happening to me made my skin crawl.

Luckily, my parents placed no restrictions on my female friendships, which was why Miriam was riding in the sedan’s passenger seat as we pulled into the car stable on the south side of the house. As she climbed out of the car, the massive steel gate at the front of the property creaked, and she watched it close.

“Come on,” I said, embarrassed. Her family home had bars on the windows and doors to keep people out. Mine had a half-ton steel gate in front and a seven-foot-high brick wall around its two acres, and if I hadn’t had a car, I would’ve thought they were meant to keep me in.

She turned and looked at me with her dark brown eyes, but I refused to meet them. This had been a bad idea. More than anything, I wanted Miriam to see me as just another girl, but bringing her to the cottage had shattered that illusion in an instant. I turned and walked down the pathway that led from the house’s side to the rear entrance. I used the front door as little as possible because there was no real good place to put one’s shoes in the front foyer. There was also a silver-and-crystal chandelier that I wanted to avoid. The gate had been enough for now.

As we approached the back door, I felt Miriam’s eyes on me, and I turned my head briefly enough to catch her quickly looking away. Had she been checking me out? I almost tripped over my own feet. Was that what this was all about to her? I hoped not. I’d hate to disappoint her. I didn’t feel like I was her type.

Looking at my reflection in the French doors, I saw a skinny blonde girl dressed in an internationally preppy style. A light blue blazer covered a white cotton blouse, and a brown tweed skirt rested its hem just above my knees. For October, it was unseasonably warm, and the blazer had been a bit much. I had opted for white tennis shoes, even though they didn’t really match my outfit as well as I’d have liked, because I had left the house only to pick up Miriam. And, speaking of the devil, I caught her checking out my butt again in the reflection. But what was there to check out? I mean, I’m not flat on either side, but I’m not particularly well endowed either. Oddly, I’d never felt self-conscious about my body until now.

Maybe that was because Miriam is rather well built. She’s no cartoon, but as I got the door open and turned around to kick my shoes off in the entryway, I found myself stealing a quick envious glance at her and hoping she wouldn’t notice. Her skin was the color of hot cocoa, and her black hair, unlike mine, which was straight and stopped just above my shoulders, fell to her shoulder blades and had been knit into dreadlocks and decorated with cowrie shells that clicked together in rhythm as she moved. She had a single gold ring in one nostril and a few that climbed up each ear. She wore a surplus army jacket three sizes too big and open in the front, under which was an aqua tank top that popped against her darker skin. Her black jeans were ripped at the knees, though I couldn’t tell whether this was by design. Her tank was tucked into her jeans and revealed more meat than I had, but also more muscle. Miriam also had faded black army boots that she struggled with only when the laces became tangled. She bent over briefly, and I inadvertently caught a glimpse of her cleavage. I didn’t feel excited by the view, but I didn’t feel anything, either. Weird, I thought and turned away before she saw me looking.

“You can put your bag by the door,” I said, heading further into the house and hanging a right into the kitchen. “We’ll take it upstairs later when I give you a tour. Want something to drink?”

“Uh… sure,” she said, setting her bag down and following me.

I was already rooting around in the refrigerator by the time she entered. She sat on one of the stools at the kitchen’s center island. “Don’t get too comfortable,” I said. “We’re going outside.”

“We are?” she said, uncertainty—and, oh my god, was that irritation?—in her voice.

“I mean,” I stammered. “We can. Go outside; that is. If you want.”

Miriam laughed, and I blushed. I was already confused, and now it felt like she was making fun of me. “Whatever, girl,” she said. “It’s fine. It’s your home.”

“What do you want to drink?” I said, trying to change the subject. “I’ve got water, juice, wine (rosé and white), and beer.”

Miriam laughed again. “Your parents let you drink?”

“Not as such,” I said. “I just don’t think they care either way.”

“Mine don’t let us,” she said, “so I don’t really know anything about it. I’ll have what you’re having, I guess.”

I pulled two beers from the fridge and turned around. Miriam’s face didn’t have a mocking look I expected, so I relaxed a bit. “Let’s go,” I said.

“You look like you need to relax before we start studying,” she said.

Yeah. That was the reason she was here. I was so preoccupied I had almost forgotten. “That’s the idea,” I said.

I led Miriam through the rear section of the house and out the northeast door, and I heard her gasp. Right. Of course. I waved her onward and led her down the narrow path to the pool area. The large flat paving stones were cool and smooth against my bare feet and felt amazing in the late October heat.

The pool area, surrounded by a short picket fence meant to keep animals out, was mostly open to the elements, and a half-dozen long chairs lay around the long edges of the rectangular pool. At the northeast corner, farthest from the house, was a hot tub, partially enclosed by a wooden gazebo, the walls of which had obviously been built so that anything happening in the hot tub was hidden from the house. I had long ago convinced myself that whatever shenanigans my parents had gotten up to had been a long time ago and that the tub had been cleaned many times over since then. Because that was what had happened, it had to.

“Jesus,” Miriam said.

“I know,” I said.

She laughed again.

“Why do you keep laughing?” I asked, wincing as I realized how much I probably sounded like an unfeeling robot.

“You, Dee,” she said, calling me by the short version of my name, Daniella, she had been using since the first day we met. “You’re all wound up and shit about your house. You embarrassed?”

“A little,” I said, sitting on a long chair and putting my beer on my knee. “Wouldn’t you be?”

“Hell no!” she said, still laughing, smiling. And then she frowned and looked at her bottle.

I offered my hand, and she handed her bottle back to me. In a trick I’d learned in boarding school, I braced both bottles against each other at the caps and popped both of them off simultaneously. As I handed hers back to her, she grinned.

“What?” I said.

“I just figured,” she said. “You know?” I shrugged. “You know,” she tried again. “The way you look … and how, um, awkward you can be around the other art kids. I figured you were super preppy. Just don’t see a lot of girls do shit like that. It’s, like, you’re a different person almost. Isn’t what I expected is all.”

“Good,” I said, trying unsuccessfully not to blush.

For a while, after that, we were quiet. There was a lot to unpack from that conversation, and I think we both just took some time to think and relax. She was right—about my awkwardness, at least. I really wasn’t comfortable around the other students in the art program. Probably because they were all meant to be there. I was just taking art history as a general education requirement. My parents, Mother, in particular, would never brook any dallying in the arts. But that wasn’t the only reason I felt like an outsider. The cliché would be to say that these were the people my parents warned me about, but they had never done that. They hadn’t bothered, probably out of the presumption that they needn’t have. These were the people my family referred to in the lowest possible terms, and every time I was around them, I could hear in my head the words spoken around the dinner table. And yet, I envied the other students.

I was so lost in my own thoughts that I almost jumped when Miriam set down her beer, stood, and went to sit next to the pool. Rolling up her pant legs, she stuck her bare feet in the water and sighed. I went to join her, and when I stuck my feet in the pool, I knew her sigh had been one of relief.

“This is nice,” she said softly and laid herself down on the pool deck.

“Yeah,” I said.

“You’re nice,” she said.

“Ye—what?!”

Miriam laughed, her belly shaking and her feet splashing. “You’re too easy,” she said.

This time, for whatever reason, I didn’t feel like she was making fun of me. Bending down, I splashed her with a little water from the pool. She yelped and kicked her feet, which only ended up splashing us both. I laughed in delight. I was finally beginning to let go. Maybe this wasn’t going to be such a bad weekend after all.

And then I heard the squeak of the front gate open followed by the sound of Mother’s SUV, the one she used to transport large antiques.

“Shit,” I said, feeling my happiness fizzle out.

“What’s wrong?” Miriam asked.

“Come on,” I said, standing and straightening my clothes. “Hurry.”

Miriam did as I asked, and I guess it was because she heard the urgency in my voice. We scurried back through the house’s rear door, and I had Miriam unpack the art history study materials from her bag and then take the rest upstairs. Maybe she dealt with a version of this bullshit at home, too, because she didn’t waste time with questions. While she was upstairs, I spread the books and notes out on the dining room table and did my best to make it look like we hadn’t just been goofing off.

I saw a shadow on the other side of the front door’s frosted glass, and I went to open it.

“Oh, thank you, dear,” Mother said, stepping past me. She wore a beige pantsuit that was no doubt tailored specifically for sudden heatwaves in late autumn. She always had a plan. And she had one today. “How is the house?” Not. How are you? Of course not.

“Fine,” I said, following her to the kitchen, where she poured herself a glass of rosé. “What are you doing here?”

“Why, I come bearing gifts, of course,” she said as if said gifts were for me and not her somehow.

“Really,” I said, following her again toward the front door.

She turned. If she had had hair like mine, it would have spun out to the sides, but hers was cut short, all business. Of course. “Dear, you really are such a grouch,” she said. “Here I am, giving to my only daughter, and what do I get in return?”

“Sorry, Mother,” I said, the only sort of sorry.

“Hi, Mrs. Hamilton!” Miriam leaned on the upstairs banister and waved down into the foyer. Mother’s inviting smile remained, but I felt the room turn cold. Now I really was sorry.

My friend skipped down the stairs in her bare feet, and I saw Mother’s eyes go to the hemp bracelets she wore on her ankles. Miriam must have seen my expression because she slowed to a more cautious pace. Mother extended a hand, and Miriam took it gently and curtsied slightly. Mother’s eyes softened instantly. This was the respect she deserved. “And who might you be?” she said, not completely threateningly.

“Miriam, ma’am,” the girl said, keeping her eyes on Mother. “I’m in your daughter’s art history class, and she was kind enough to invite me up here to study.”

“Well,” Mother said, “at least she’s making friends. She can be terribly moody.”

“Nonsense,” Miriam said. “Your daughter is a delight. I can see where she gets it.”

“I’m also standing right here,” I said.

“Of course you are, dear,” Mother said, barely turning her head in my direction. “Well, Miss Miriam, it has been a pleasure.” And then she checked her watch. “Down to business,” she continued, more to me this time. “I have to meet up with your father in two hours. We have an investor’s meeting, and then we have to meet up with the, ugh, Callaways for a week on their yacht. An entire week, can you believe it? What a nightmare. Anyway, come.”

She started the door, and Miriam and I followed. I tried to make eye contact with Miriam, but she had her gaze fixed on Mother as if she were a cobra that might strike at any moment. She had good instincts. In the driveway in front of the house was the black SUV, and in the back were two large dark shapes, obscured by fogged glass. Mother went to the rear and opened the door, and down jumped two large dogs: a Rottweiler and a Shepherd.

“Mother, what—” I started but was not allowed to finish.

“For your protection, dear. They’re guard dogs, not pets,” Mother said. Of course. “Now listen: they have been trained by experts and have come at no small expense, so treat them well.” She pulled from the SUV two large flat cardboard boxes. “These are their houses. They’ll sleep in these, outside in the car park. They are only to come into the house in emergencies, and they know this. Here,” she said, handing me a folded piece of paper, “is a list of their commands. And here,” she added, handing me a whistle on a lanyard, “is an emergency whistle. If you need help or do something they shouldn’t and aren’t following commands, blow this. It will bring them to attention. Keep it with you at all times.”

As she finished speaking, the Rottweiler had approached Miriam and bumped her hip with his big, anvil-like head. She staggered a bit but scratched him on the head. “Hey, watch it,” she said.

I checked the command list. “Mother,” I said. “This is all in German.”

“You don’t need to be fluent to memorize the words on a piece of paper,” she said. “Now, I have to go. Spend some time building those dog houses. They’ll need somewhere to sleep tonight. Oh, and before I forget,” she said, ducking back into the back of the SUV and dragging out not one but two giant bags of dog food. “This is special food. You can order it online when these two bags are empty. Use the blue card to pay for it so we can lump it in with our business expenses.”

“Right,” I said. “Of course.”

“Excellent,” she said. “Well, that’s all for me. You girls take care of those dogs.”

As she drove off, Miriam, the dogs, and I stood there watching the gate close.

“Wow,” Miriam said after a minute.

“I know,” I said. I don’t know why, but I was on the verge of tears. It wasn’t the first time Mother had displayed just how little she cared about me, nor was it the first time she’d done it to me in front of a friend, but it stung this time.

In silence, we moved the food indoors and dragged the doghouse sets over to the car park. According to the instructions, construction was simple, but in practice, the design was elaborate. About a half-hour into construction, we had one mostly built, and Miriam wiped her brow.

“I’m gonna go to change into some shorts,” she said. “It’s too hot.”

I nodded. Having long ago stripped off my blazer, I was still feeling hot, but I wondered how much I was still angry at Mother. I stopped working for a moment, and that’s when it hit me all at once. Kneeling there in the car park, hot, sweaty, and humiliated, I just started crying not quietly but in body heaving sobs. And I had become so consumed that when Miriam touched my shoulder, I nearly shrieked. One of the dogs, the Rottweiler moved a little closer, but when he (oh, yes, it was very obviously a he, as was the Shepherd) saw this wasn’t a problem he could fix, he sat back down.

“What’s wrong?” Miriam said. I looked at her, and she said, “Right. Is she always like that?”

“Not usually that bad,” I said, tears still flowing but sobs subsiding as she put an arm around me. “Only when I try to make friends.”

“What the fuck,” she said. “Doesn’t she want you to have friends?”

“I don’t know anymore,” I said.

“Well, what does she want?”

It was there in that hot, miserable car park that I filled her in on what I figured my parents had in store for me after graduation. It was the first time I’d told anyone anything so personal, and I shook with fear and relief as I did it. And when I was done, I buried my face in her shoulder and let her hold me. Eventually, I gathered myself together and raised my head. I expected her to look awkward or uncomfortable, but she just smiled back at me.

“I bet this seems stupid,” I said. “Rich people problems.”

Her fingers brushed a few disheveled locks of blonde hair away from my face and said, “It’s not always that simple. That’s just life, Dee.”

I could’ve kissed her for that. Should’ve. But I noticed the dogs just staring at us. Weren’t they supposed to be patrolling or something?

Miriam noticed too, and said, “Big help you guys are.”

I laughed in relief and wiped my eyes. It took a while to get myself back into working shape, but eventually, we got the second doghouse built and scooted it over next to the first.

“Hope you guys are happy,” I said and then turned to Miriam. “I don’t know about you, but I could go for a swim.”

Miriam hadn’t brought a swimsuit, but I was pretty sure we had something in her size. Mother, as I said, always had a plan, and that included keeping a few extra items of clothing around for potential guests. So, I led Miriam back inside and upstairs to one of the guest bedrooms. We had been digging around in the dressers for a few minutes before I realized I didn’t know her size.

“What’s—” I started but felt awkward again. “What’s your size?”

“Eight,” she said. “Sometimes, ten.”

I shook my head. “I mean…” For some reason, I felt weird about saying it, so I cupped my own breasts over my blouse and jiggled a little to drive home the point. And then I realized that I would’ve been better off just using my words.

Miriam broke into a fit of giggling that she couldn’t stop, no matter how hard she tried. At first, I turned red, but the longer her giggling went on, the more infectious it became, and I soon found myself laughing along with her. It had been a ridiculous thing to do, but it felt kind of good to not take myself so seriously for once.

“32C,” said eventually, when she could breathe again.

I dug through another drawer. Skirts. Another drawer. Ties. Really, Mother? Finally, I found a drawer full of swimwear. Personally, I was hoping for something more modest, but the first thing I dug out was a bright yellow two-piece. It wasn’t exactly a bikini, but it would show off a lot more skin than I thought she (or I) might be comfortable with. I set it on the carpet and kept digging, but Miriam picked it up and held its pieces against her body.

“This’ll do,” she said.

“Are you sure?” I said. “I could find something less… less.”

She snorted and grinned. “Ain’t nobody around,” she said. “Besides, what do I got to be shy about?”

“Point taken,” I said, my eyes focused on the floor.

There was a bathroom attached to the guest bedroom, so while she went in and got changed, I went down the hall to my own room and the similarly attached bathroom to change into my own suit, red with small white polka dots. I chose it partly because it was similar to Miriam’s, and I didn’t want her to feel like I was more dressed than she was. Mostly, though, I chose it because it was my favorite suit. It fit well, which was unusual. My bottom size was somewhere between a four and six (I mentioned I was a little skinny, right?), and my breasts were 28, but somewhere between an A and B. Finding bras that fit me comfortably was difficult enough, but going shopping for swimwear was like finding Carmen Sandiego.

When I came out of the bathroom, Miriam waited for me by the door to my bedroom. I stopped abruptly—too abruptly, actually, because the corners of her lips turned up. “Fits perfect,” she said and turned and a slow circle. It really did.

Once again, I led the way through the house. As I stepped outside, I nearly leaped out of my skin. The dogs were sitting at attention on the grass, just off the small patio. Their stare made me deeply uncomfortable, and then I realized: the whistle. Quickly, I stepped back inside, shut the door, ran upstairs, grabbed the whistle from where I’d left it on the bed, and returned.

“That’s just creepy,” Miriam said. “How’d they even know we were coming out this way?”

I shrugged, trying to ignore my misgivings. “Mother said they’re trained well,” I said, hoping that answered the question. I opened the door and stepped out, and Miriam followed, shutting the door behind her. We still had a few more hours of daylight left, and I really wanted to spend it at the pool, so again, I shoved my worries aside and started down the path to the pool. As we went, the dogs flanked us and kept pace, the Shepherd a little ahead, the Rottweiler a little behind. When we got to the pool, I unlatched the gate, ushered Miriam through, and latched it behind us. I didn’t doubt that these dogs could clear the fence if properly motivated, but they seemed content to leave us be. In fact, when I made a shooing motion to them, they trotted off like normal dogs. I shrugged. Weird.

For an hour or two, I can’t be sure, Miriam and I splashed, floated, and swam, talking about university, our families, and even quizzing each other on the art history material we were supposed to be studying in the first place. As it turned out, despite our different upbringings, we both had a lot of the same worries, top among them not having control over our lives. She was worried that she’d end up stuck in a boring college town with no prospects, and I was worried that my family would basically sell me out to the highest bidder like a prized mare. We also shared an interest in art and had similar tastes in music and movies. One thing that set Miriam apart, however, was her confidence and forwardness.

“You’re pretty,” she said as we rested our arms on the pool deck. “You know that, right?”

“Sure,” I said, not really believing it. I mean, I knew I could be seen as desirable. Boys in high school had made that abundantly clear. But to high-school boys, a loaf of bread was desirable, so I hadn’t put much stake in their opinion. Now, I may have mentioned this earlier, but I’m no dummy. When Miriam said I was pretty, I knew what she meant, but I didn’t really know what to make of it. Still, something in my tummy stirred, and I started to feel warm.

“I mean it,” she said.

“I know you do,” I said. That sounded cold. I didn’t mean it to sound like that. “But, um, how?” I added. “Like, what do you mean, exactly?”

She hadn’t stopped smiling at me, and I was wondering if there was any possible way I could upset her. Not that I wanted to.

“Just like…” she seemed to be looking for the words. “Like the way you carry yourself. You know who you are. It’s like you got it all figured out.”

What? Was she kidding? “You’re joking,” I said.

She chuckled a little. “I mean, no,” she said. “No one’s got it all figured out. Except maybe your mom—that woman makes me afraid.”

“Join the club,” I said.

“I just mean, you carry yourself well,” she said. “And forget today, right? Today’s been kind of a shit show for you. But you’re normally not as awkward as you think you are.”

“Well, thanks,” I said. “So that’s what’s pretty to you? Feigned confidence?”

She grinned a little. “Sure,” she said. “That and a cute little butt.”

I felt a pinch on my butt, yelped, and let go of the wall. For a second, I sank, but when I emerged, sputtering, she was right there, just inches from my face, laughing and holding onto the wall, trying not to sink. I started laughing, too, but mostly because I was nervous. This girl, this amazing, beautiful girl with perfect skin and a smile that shone like the sun, was hitting on me. I had no idea what to do. Was it possible that I could be into girls? Oh, Mother would kill me.

“And I do love that smile,” she said and then kissed me. I melted.

It would be a good death.

I must have blacked out for a second because she pulled away far too soon. She looked at me, inquisitively. “Yes?” she asked. “No?”

“Yes? No?” I parroted back.

“Dinner?” she said with a chuckle.

“Right,” I said. Food was the furthest thing from my mind. “Yes?”

“Cool,” she said, pulling herself from the water. The sun was starting to go down, and the air was getting a little chilly, but only enough to make her skin prickle.

I followed her out, and we spent a minute toweling off. She was looking at me, I knew, but for reasons I can’t explain, I tried to keep my eyes off of her. Instead, I looked around for the dogs. The Rottweiler was standing maybe a hundred meters away toward the south side of the house. The Shepherd was standing near the door closest to us at the northeast corner. They were both staring at us.

“I wish they wouldn’t do that,” I said.

“Do what?” Miriam said.

I pointed to the Shepherd, but he had found something to sniff. The Rottweiler, too, had busied himself studying a spot on the grass. “Huh,” I said. “Never mind.”

Once again, the dogs escorted us as we went between the house and the pool, and I got the feeling that Miriam wasn’t the only one watching my butt. I gripped the whistle with a tremendous sense of unease, but I wasn’t about to say anything about it because I thought I’d sound paranoid. When we reached the house, however, I locked the door and looked out the glass panes. The dogs sat for a moment, their eyes on us, and then went about their business.

Rather than cook, we decided to order pizza. There was one place in town that would send a driver all the way up to the house, so while Miriam went to change out of her swimwear, I called the shop. When I was done, I went to my room and changed into some sweatpants and a loose-ish flannel shirt. It would be time to study, and I concentrated better when I was comfortable.

When I returned downstairs, I saw that Miriam felt the same way, though what she found comfortable was baggy flannel pants and a t-shirt that was almost big enough to be a tunic. The sun was just going down, and I realized I should probably feed the dogs. I excused myself and fetched the two big bowls that had come with the doghouses. I filled them up in the kitchen, grabbed the whistle, and left through the rear door.

The dogs materialized immediately. I had gotten about halfway to the car park when I got a weird feeling. I looked down, but the dogs were just staring expectantly up at their food bowls. Right, I thought. Of course, they’re staring at me.

I set the bowls down next to each of their houses and said, “Are you boys hungry?” They wagged their tails in response, and I relaxed a little. Maybe my misgivings were because I was rarely comfortable around new people, and these dogs were certainly new and unexpected. But, then, they were dogs. Mother said they were well trained, and I had a whistle and a list of commands, which I reminded myself to take with me when the pizza guy arrived. What could go wrong?

I looked down at their tags for their names. Max was the Shepherd, which made sense, I guess. But the Rottweiler was called Arthur. Kind of a weird name for a guard dog, but whatever.

When the dogs began to eat, and I saw to it that they had water, I headed back inside, waiting until I had disappeared around the side of the house to turn my back on them. I walked quickly, but it didn’t matter. Despite my misgivings, they hadn’t pursued. Still, I locked the door and gave a second glance back through the glass. Nothing. I really was getting paranoid.

I found Miriam in the living room. She had the art history texts piled next to the coffee table and had put our class notes on top. For a few minutes, we got down to business, and then the intercom beeped. I hopped up and ran to the door. Pressing the button, I said, “Hello!”

“Pizza,” the delivery guy said, sounding moderately stoned.

“Ok,” I said, pressing the button to open the gate. “Drive up to the front door, but stay in the car. We have new dogs.”

“Uh… ok,” he said. “Sure thing.”

I grabbed the list of commands and the whistle and opened the front door. Sure enough, the dogs had flanked the car, and the pizza guy, who I recognized as being a younger guy from my former high school, sat firmly in the driver’s seat looking sufficiently intimidated.

I looked at the list. “Max. Arthur,” I said. They turned their heads toward me. “Komm her.”

They instantly left the car and came to my side. Damn, it really worked. I was impressed. Granted, that was an easy command; I could’ve said the same thing in English.

The pizza guy popped his door open a crack. “Can I come out now?”

“Setzen,” I said. The dogs sat. Ok, good. Now came the part where I hoped I didn’t screw up the pronunciation. “Bleib,” I said, drawing out the word as I would in English as I stepped away from them and toward the car. I turned to the pizza guy and said, “Yeah, it’s ok.” They stayed with not even a muscle twitch as the guy got out of the car.

“Hey,” he said.

“Hey,” I said.

“You speak German?” he asked.

I snorted. “No way,” I said, holding up the paper with the commands. “How’d you know what language it was?”

He sniffed. “My great-grandma spoke it,” he said.

“Neat,” I said.

“Yeah,” he said. “But she died when I was ten.”

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“It’s ok,” he said.

My eyes went to the cubicle soft case of pizzas in the back seat of his Honda, and when he saw me looking, he jerked as if someone had surprised him. “You ok?” I asked as he tried to open the rear passenger door.

“Yeah,” he said, finally yanking the door open. “It just sticks sometimes.” He pulled our pizza out of the case and handed it to me.

I handed him the cash and said, “Keep the change.”

“Thanks,” he said. His eyes went to the dogs again, and I followed his gaze. They weren’t watching him. They were watching me. “See you around, I guess.”

“Yeah,” I said. “See you.”

With that, he got back in the car and drove away. On the way back inside, I felt the dogs watching me. When I was back inside, Miriam was waiting by the door.

“Those dogs are seriously weird,” she said.

“I know,” I said. “But they’re obedient, at least.”

Dinner was unceremonious. We ate in the living room and grilled each other on the study materials. We got a lot done, which surprised me because the longer we went on, the more difficult I found it to concentrate. I could remember dates and names, artists, and movements, but I also remembered the kiss in Miriam’s company. Soon, it’s all I could recall.

Eventually, I had to stop, feigning fatigue. It’s wasn’t even that late, only nine o’clock, so I asked her if she wanted to watch a movie.

“Sure,” she said. “What’d you have in mind?”

I didn’t know, and it didn’t matter. I just needed something to get my mind off the kiss. I didn’t know what to do about it. Had she expected me to reciprocate? Was it a friendly kiss? She had commented on my butt, though, which I felt her watching as we climbed the stairs again.

 

Continued on the next page (link below).

xxx-fiction-story-disclaimer3

 

*This story has been edited to fix spelling, punctuation, & basic grammar, but the narrative and plot have remained the same. Just remember, even with the limited editing we do, it doesn’t always mean the flaws in a story are always fixed.

One comment

  • chef71

    What a good story. Thank you for posting all of it enjoyed.

    Reply

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