99 Cents to Get You Off the Fence

It has come to my attention that there might be a few (million) people who have not read Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks: a love story, yet. I understand that there might be one or two people who just don’t want to read a love story, but what about the other nine hundred and ninety-eight hundred thousand? Since my book is highly rated (a 4.5 on Amazon) I can only assume that price was keeping all those people on the fence. 
Today, I fixed that problem.
Starting today, and for the next two weeks, the Kindle version of my first novel will be priced at only 99cents. 
Yep, I’m having a sale. Because I really want you to read the first book before the second (which, you may have heard, comes out on November 2nd). 
So, share the good news. If you’ve already read Burnouts now is the time to tell your friends to grab a copy for themselves. Share on Facebook, tweet about it, Pin it on Pintrest, Tumblr it, Linked me in, and Google plus the news, spread the word. Buy a few gift copies and get your Christmas shopping done early. Because, nothing says Merry Christmas like Burnouts, Geeks and Jesus Freaks under your Christmas tree.   

www.amazon.com/dp/B00IN8ZDJ0  click here to get your copy now.

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Left Behind – Popstars, Friends & Lovers: a dreamer’s tale Chapter 2

Last week I posted chapter one, New York from MG’s point of view. I’m continuing the countdown to the November 2nd release date today with chapter two. It’s a first look at Steve’s life post high school and post MG. He’s starting to see where he doesn’t want his life to go, but he has no idea what he does want to do. 

Enjoy and remember that you can preorder your copy of Popstars now on Amazon and it will be delivered to your Kindle on November 2nd.

Chapter 2

Steve’s afternoons with Carrie were the highlight of his week. Since his dad refused to get a phone for their apartment (“Don’t want anyone to call me”) he had to just hope he would see her pull up in Ben’s jeep on Tuesdays and Thursdays at three.
They watched reruns together, she brought him food from the restaurant where she worked, and being around her reminded him of high school, and MG. There was no way to justify how much he missed MG. She was never really his girlfriend so she never broke up with him, but she left him behind, just the same. Now she was in New York, with her mom, chasing some dream of big money and a big life. And he was here, hanging out with her best friend, clinging to the way he had felt when he was around her. 
His dad wandered into the kitchen, which could easily be seen from the living room. He and Steve worked the night shift together at Tricon, so he was just getting up and, as usual, he hadn’t bothered to put pants on. 
“Put some god-damned pants on,” Steve yelled. He had to tell him this every time Carrie was coming over. 
“Why? That lil cutie comin’ over again?”
Steve glared at his dad. It almost seemed like he wanted Carrie to catch him in his underwear. Like she’d be interested in some sorry-assed, middle-aged man. Steve looked at his dad, slumped over the door of the refrigerator, searching the contents for anything edible. He was tall, lean, and lanky; just like Steve. And like his son, he was also a lot stronger than he looked. Steve had seen him heft some seriously heavy boxes at the warehouse. But time and bad living was definitely taking a toll on him. He had blotchy skin on his face, some from too much sun, some old scars. His hair was starting to recede from his forehead, particularly on the sides. And he had the nastiest smoker’s hack when he woke up, like now. Coming up empty on his search of the fridge, he scoured the cabinets, lungs rattling, working up to a vile-sounding coughing fit. 
Steve snubbed his own cigarette out in the overflowing ashtray on the floor next to the couch. “Her name’s Carrie and she doesn’t want to see you in your underwear.”
“How do you know? She smiled at me last time she was here.”
Shit!Sometimes his old man just drove him insane, maybe because they were too much alike. At one point in time, Jim Shrader was a charmer and a flirt and a ladies man. Then he met Steve’s mom, his waterloo. He fell hard for her and was actually thrilled when she got pregnant their junior year of high school, the result being Steve’s older brother, Tony. To this day he kinda wondered if Tony really was his full brother. They were nothing alike, in looks or personality. He wondered if his mom had just decided Jim Shrader was most likely to marry her. A marriage that lasted all of ten months before she bolted, leaving Jim with a newborn. The other thing Steve never understood was why his dad took her back five years later, when she had Steve then left again. His best guess was that his mom was a drug addict and Jim thought he could save her, or she was reformed briefly, or something like that.
Not that he would ever know those answers. Neither he nor Jim was much for talking. They were both so laid-back they could be home together for days and never say more than two words to each other. Yep, him and his dad, two mellow-assed saps for women. It depressed the hell out of him how much his life was starting to look like his dad’s.
Carrie knocked on the door. Steve pleaded with his eyes for his dad to go in his room. Jim reluctantly complied. 
“They were out of chicken fried steak, so I got you meatloaf.”
She spoiled him. She went out of her way to do things to make him happy. With her boyfriend Ben away at basic training, it was like she needed someone to dote on as much as he liked being doted on, so it worked.
“Meatloaf’s great, thanks.” He held the door then closed it behind her.
“I grabbed a bunch of plastic forks and knives from the take-out bin too.”  
The first time she showed up with a meal for him they had to look under the couch for one of the three forks he and his dad owned. It took a lot of hot water to get the gunk off it. She had been bringing plastic utensils ever since. 
“Good idea.” He dropped his voice a little. “My dad’s here and awake, so let’s just go in my room.”
Carrie set the bag containing his dinner on the floor and plopped on his mattress, which sat on the floor. Her Swiss-themed uniform skirt poofed out in a circle around her. Steve shut the door, retrieved the bag of food, and propped himself up against the wall, sitting on his pillow, to eat his meatloaf.
“You will not believe what I heard today.”  Carrie lay down, her head on his out-stretched legs. This was something new, touching each other—nothing sexual, just touching in some way, filling the gaping affection void in both their lives. 
“Rat-boy got busted.” Rat-boy was their nickname for a kid from their class who, well, had a rat face. He opened a pizza place right after graduation, but everyone knew it was a front for his drug dealing. 
“Fuckin’ moron, probably sold to a cop.”
Carrie smirked and nodded. “If he names names, would you be in trouble?”
Steve popped another chunk of meatloaf in his mouth and shook his head no. He never bought from Rat-boy because he was a stupid fuck who cheated his way through high school. He doubted he’d changed much in the seven months since they graduated. 
Carrie rolled onto her back and picked at a torn cuticle. Steve finished his dinner. He set the plate on the crate he used as a side table, almost knocking the card off of it. It was a graduation card from MG and her mom, the only one he got. He set the card upright again. 
“Are you going out Friday night?” It would be New Year’s Eve, 2000. People were going crazy all over the place with big parties or fears of the world ending.
He shrugged. “Party at Chuck’s house. I might go. You?”
“Probably just stay at Casey’s and hang out with her and Gina.” Carrie looked up at him and smiled. “So tonight I’m gonna party like its 1999,” she sang. Steve chuckled softly and tugged at a tendril of her hair that was lying across his knee. He stretched and grabbed an ashtray with a half-smoked joint in it. He lit it, held the smoke in his lungs then blew it away from Carrie. 
“I definitely thought life after high school would be more exciting than this, didn’t you?”
He shrugged.
“Is this what you want to be doing? Ten years from now?”
He shook his head. “But I don’t have a fucking clue what else I could do.” He thought about his old man. Twenty-five years at Tricon, hefting boxes, moving crates, night after night.
“What do you say we just take off, start driving, see where we end up?”
He smiled at her. “In what?”
She smirked. “Good point.” Neither of them owned a car. He used his brother’s motorcycle while Stony was in jail and Carrie was using Ben’s jeep while he was in basic training. 
Carrie thought about asking him where he would want to go, if they could just take off, but she pretty much already knew the answer, New York.
     
On Friday night he thought about staying home ‘til his dad showed up with a bunch of his buddies and some rank looking women around ten o’clock. They gave him a beer and a shot of some nasty sweet liquor before he set off on foot. Chuck’s house was only three blocks away so he could walk there and not worry about getting too wasted and driving home, but he had to make a stop first at the gas station pay phone five blocks in the other direction.
He was still shaking off the cold from walking so far, standing in the doorway between Chuck’s living room and kitchen, when she approached him. The party was so loud there was no reason to attempt conversation. She held a torn-off piece of plastic plant over her head and looked at him with anticipation and waited. 
His eyes questioned if he was supposed to know her or know what to do.
“It’s mistletoe,” she shouted.
He chuckled. He wasn’t one hundred percent sure what mistletoe looked like, but the leaf over her head probably wasn’t it. He had to give her credit for creativity. She was kind of cute – petite, brown hair that hung to her shoulders, and a slightly crooked front tooth that she was not afraid to show when she smiled. He still shook his head no. She looked at him with sulking eyes, then walked away to try her mistletoe trick on someone else. 
A half hour later he was standing in the back yard, freezing his ass off, sharing a joint with a few people when she appeared again. She joined the group, standing next to him. She took a hit when it came to her, then said, “You’re Steve Shrader, aren’t you?” when she passed it to him.
He nodded his head while he took a hit then passed it to his left. “Do I know you?”
She laughed a nervous laugh and wrapped her flannel shirt tighter around herself. “No, but I was here before, a long time ago. I met a girl who told me you’ve got amazing fingers and a magic dick.”
Steve choked on the smoke in his lungs and started coughing and laughing at the same time. There was only one girl who would do that, MG. Fuck if she wasn’t trying to make sure he wasn’t alone after she was gone. He shook his head. “Yeah, well the girl who told you that is a pathological liar.”
She boldly looked him right in the eyes. “Yeah, well, I heard it from more than one girl.” 
She stuck out her hand like she wanted to shake his. “I’m Amanda.”
He moved his beer to his left hand so he could shake hers. Just as they touched the countdown started from inside the house. “Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.” Amanda moved in close and tilted her head up, her look daring him to turn her down. He couldn’t be an asshole and leave her hanging at midnight on New Year’s Eve. He leaned down and touched his lips lightly to hers. She snaked her arms around his neck and pulled him lower and deeper into the kiss. He dropped his nearly-empty beer and rolled with the momentum, wrapping his arms around her, sliding his tongue into her mouth, feeling for the cute, crooked front tooth. She went on tiptoes, sliding her body up his along the way, hoping she would feel him getting hard for her. He was. That was all the incentive she needed. She broke the kiss and took his hand, pulling him toward the front of the house. “Come on.”
He followed willingly, smiling at her boldness. “Where we goin’?”
“My apartment.”


Not In a New York State of Mind–Chapter 1

We are half way thorough October and counting down to the November 2nd release of Popstars. Today we catch-up with MG, post-high school. She’s moved to the big city with her mom where things are not going as she planned. 

Some of this chapter comes from my year of living in New York, when I coined the phrase,”It’s like living in a pen of nervous poodles on speed.” Most of this chapter, however, is from MG’s perspective, a Middle-American, suburban girl who’s ideas were painted by too many episodes of Sex and the City and Friends.

Enjoy the chapter and don’t forget you can pre-order an ecopy of Popstars, Friends & Lovers: a dreamer’s tale on Amazon now. One click now and it will arrive on your Kindle or Kindle app on November 2nd.

Chapter One

“Talk for me.”
“What?” MG thought she was ready for this interview, but this? What the hell did he want her to say?  
Last night she had done her nails three times until she got it perfect, not that she would be doing nails, but how the hell do you prepare for an interview to be a receptionist at Manhattan’s hottest nail salon. She desperately wanted and needed this job. 
Four months ago, when she first moved here, she would have laughed at the idea of prepping for this interview. Hell, four months ago she would have laughed at the position and the salary and never even put in an application. Not now. The Big Apple was kicking her ass and beating her down ‘til she was almost begging to be considered to answer phones.
She blamed it all on Friends, not her friends, the TV show. Sure, move to New York, get a cool job, live in a big-ass apartment, date hot, rich guys … uh, no. The thing was, even if she had known what it was like here, she would have come, because moving to Manhattan was her mom’s dream and where else was she really gonna go. 
When her mom had brought up the idea it sounded so cool. MG pictured herself, her mom and her best friend Carrie sharing one of those big, beautiful, old apartments with hardwood floors and huge windows that looked over the skyline. They would get exciting jobs at Calvin Klein or Ralph Lauren where they would meet people who would invite them to parties with the rich and famous. She and Carrie would make sure everyone (especially the bitches) back in St. Louis knew that they were livin’ large. She even had a plan (that she didn’t tell Carrie about) to meet and get a date with Edward Burns. She knew he lived in New York and being seen in a gossip mag on his arm would be the ultimate fuck-you to everyone who treated her like trailer trash in high school.
Now she was here, without Carrie, in a small, ugly apartment where she slept on a pull-out couch and had no room of her own. No one welcomed her with open arms and a job at Calvin Klein. She never made it past going in their flagship store. She had worn her CK jeans and tee shirt (that she totally overpaid for at the outlet mall) and was soaking in the rich-smelling air when a giraffe of a sales girl looked her over like she was Daisy Duke come to call. Her wheat-blonde messy curls suddenly felt more like a rat’s nest, her size-ten body a balloon and her favorite Chuck Taylors felt more trashy than funky. There it was again, that sting; that unsaid ‘what are you doing here, white trash?’ She had skulked out of the store. 
It also turned out that Edwards Burns didn’t exactly live right around the corner from her. New York City was much bigger than she’d imagined.
Right now she had no idea what to say to this mafia-looking dude she was interviewing with. Talk for him?  She started with, “Uh, hi, I’m MG.” And she smiled at him and batted her eyelashes, giving him her signature flirt-stare with her soft brown eyes.
He didn’t seem to notice. In fact he was busy typing onto a tiny keyboard on his Blackberry. It seemed like everyone here with any money had one. If she got this job her first paycheck (or first five) were going toward getting one of those.
“Where you from, MG?” He stressed her name like he thought it was odd, and it did sound odd in his heavy New York accent.
“St. Louis.”
He kept typing, seeming to ignore her, so she added, “My mom and I moved here in June.”
He breathed out a sigh of frustration and MG thought he might not like her already. Fuck, she couldn’t win for losing. How could she have screwed up this interview that fast?  
He dropped his phone on the manicure table in front of him. “Alright, you got the job.”
She needed to close her mouth and not look so shocked, but she had almost given up hope of hearing those words. 
“If I find out you’re not from St. Louis, and you covered up a Jersey accent with some acting classes, you’re out on your ass, you understand?”
So much became clear to her in that one sentence. It was her accent, or lack of one, that was getting her this job. Time to talk some more. “Umm, yeah, I understand. Not a problem. I really am from St. Louis. I was born and raised there and I just graduated high school.”
He looked at her like she needed to stop talking. She shut up. 
“MG, what the hell kind of name is that? What’s it stand for?”
“Mary Grace.”
He looked like he might laugh (might). “Seriously?  That’s a Catholic-school-girl name. You got one of them Catholic-school-girl skirts too?”
The way he said it made her think he might have another business making films featuring young girls in Catholic-school-girl skirts. 
“That’s not gonna work. Grace, you’ll be Grace.” He started typing again on his Blackberry. “In two weeks, I’ll order you a shirt with Grace on it. We’ll see if you last that long.” He stopped typing and looked at her. “’Til then you wear a white polo, black skirt, and heels. You come to work with your nails and toes painted, and don’t do it yourself. It’ll look like crap. We’re not doing it for you here, so get it done somewhere. Understand?”
MG nodded. Damn, he talked fast. Everyone here talked fast. 
“Show up on Monday at eight. Krystyna will show you around.”
She nodded again and thought about answering him but he was already up and out of his chair. He was out the door before she could get out of her seat. Everyone moved fast here too. She felt like she was trapped in a pen of nervous poodles on speed.  
     
A job! She finally had a job! Her excitement lasted all of ten or fifteen minutes before the reality of her current situation set in. She just landed a job that paid minimum wage (woo hoo) where she would schedule appointments for, not hang out with, the richest women around. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. She had always had better luck with men. Except for Carrie, Gina, and Casey, she had never gotten along with other girls. Her best friend was a guy, or he had been before the whole love thing, and her leaving without saying goodbye thing …
It was telling that her best day in New York City so far had her wanting to cry, and she never cried. She felt so stuck. Her life here sucked in a way she never imagined it could, but it’s not like she could go back to her friends in St. Louis. Her mom and only home (couch) were here. And she had acted like a totally stupid bitch before she left anyway, bragging to everyone about how cool her life was going to be while they died a slow death in boring, old St. Louis. 
And then there was Steve … she had just left him hanging. He had been her best friend in so many ways and she loved him. But she never told him, because if she did she might not have left, and then she would be stuck back there, in some minimum-wage job, kinda like she was here. She blew out her frustration and pain and started walking the fifteen blocks back to her apartment. 
Lunch was another bag of the candied nuts from a street vendor and a coffee with lots of cream and sugar. It was cheap and the combo of caffeine and sugar would keep her going for a few hours. At least her checks from the nail salon would buy more groceries. With their savings running low and no commission checks for her mom yet, they had been living on the cheap. Just the smell of ramen noodles was starting to make her gag. Her visions of a Blackberry faded into grocery sacks of food. 
She sat on a bench on the edge of a little square park near their apartment, watching the office workers pour out of the high rises to catch a little sun and fresh air on their lunch hour. There was a mild breeze and the drone of conversations was making her drowsy. Her head flopped back and she jerked it up with a start. No one seemed to notice her falling asleep, but she feared someone would if she nodded off. That would be the highlight of her NY life; mugged on a park bench because she was wiped out from too little sleep and food.    
Then it started… again. At about one-thirty, when the lunch crowd thinned out it started behind her right eye, this horrible sharp pain. It felt like someone stabbed her in her temple with a pencil. Aspirin didn’t do much for it. When she had one of these god-awful headaches last week she took four aspirin and still had to lay with her head on their cool bathroom floor tile for hours. At least the apartment would be quiet. Her mom was putting in long hours learning the ins and outs of New York real estate.
     
Amber looked at the proof sheet of headshots. Wow, it’s amazing what a really good photographer can do. She looked sexy and expensive. The photos could probably work for an escort service or selling apartments. She filed that idea away as a back-up plan should she fail here. 
The New York realty firm she worked for, The Brighton Group, definitely had better resources than the one she had left in St. Louis, but they also had higher expectations. Right out of the gate her sales quota for her first quarter was four times higher. Then again, the apartment she was hoping to list this afternoon could cover half that quota. She was swimming with the big fish in a much bigger pond now, and she loved it.
She felt as energized as she did when she started selling houses after her second divorce. Adversity fueled her. Being single, again, with a child to feed fueled her. She had no regrets about letting go of her life lines in St. Louis (namely her married boyfriend, Vin) and letting her fears push her to succeed again.  
Speaking of her child … poor MG. She hated to see her struggling so hard. She kept telling herself that MG would be fine once she got a job and made some friends. Her daughter was an irresistible, beautiful ball of fun; there was no way the Big Apple was going to beat that out of her. Once they got some money coming in they could go out and have some fun, get to know their new home; shopping, Broadway shows, museums. Right now it was nose to the grindstone to get those checks. 
Amber marked the three photos she liked best and popped the proofs into an inter-office envelope to send to her boss, Art. She pulled a mirror from the center drawer on her desk and went to work fixing her makeup so she would look as much like her sexy head shots as possible. Her new realtor campaign wouldn’t do much good if no one recognized her from the pictures. 
She made a quick stop in the bathroom to adjust her dress before she headed out to look at the possible new listing. Technically the dress was too small, but it was the only size on clearance and hence the only one she could afford. Her hips were straining at the zipper now, but another month or two on a “we have almost no money” diet and the designer dress would fit perfectly. 
It was four-twenty when she left her office. The downtown streets were already filling up with afternoon commuters that would bring everything to a crowded crawl in the next hour. She checked the time on her cell phone and debated how long it would take her to reach the apartment by subway versus how much it would cost her by cab, if she could get a cab. The subway won. Visions of her and MG running out of food before her first commission check put power in her walk to the station.

Win a Signed Copy of Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks: a love story

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

Burnouts, Geeks and Jesus Freaks by Karen  Gordon

Burnouts, Geeks and Jesus Freaks

by Karen Gordon

Giveaway ends January 12, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Popstars Prologue & Burnout Books

So many things are happening at once in my little corner of the indie publishing world. Let me start with two big announcements.

And:

Finally, as promised, I will start posting chapters from Popstars, Friends & Lovers: a dreamer’s tale today. I’ll be posting one each week until the big day, November 2nd.

Today, the prologue–a little step backward into Burnouts, Geeks & Jesus Freaks:a love story. This is the scene where MG, Steve and all girls go to junior prom together. Only this time it is told from Steve’s perspective. 

As always, I want to note that my work is intended for readers age 17 and older because there is sexual content and cursing. 

That said, enjoy the prologue.

Prologue

Junior Prom, 1998
They all piled into the limo, ready for food and a reprieve from the stares and drama that had been prom. Steve scooted across the bench seat to make room for his dates: Carrie, Casey, Gina, and MG. Casey wanted the window seat so she crawled over his lap, almost kneeing him in the balls on her way.
 “Case, jezus!” He doubled over, protecting himself.
Her look of surprise said she hadn’t really noticed who she had just climbed over.
Gina and Carrie arranged themselves on either side of him, popped off their high-heeled shoes and draped their legs across his to rest their feet. He unconsciously grabbed their toes and started rubbing, causing both of them to moan in ecstasy. But his mind was on MG, kneeling on the rear facing seat with her butt squarely in his field of vision while she gave the driver directions to the all-night pancake restaurant.
At least fifteen different guys must have come up to him tonight and high-fived or fist bumped him for having four dates to prom. Fifteen guys who normally never talked to him but probably talked about him as a burnout, drug addict, loser. He’d never considered himself the smartest guy, but he was sure as shit smarter than them when it came to girls.
It started when he was fourteen. Girls started coming on to him, usually older ones. That was the summer he grew five inches and towered over all his friends at a gangly six feet tall. That was also the summer that his dad stopped making him get his hair cut. Women of all ages couldn’t seem to keep their hands out of the dark brown waves.
Desiree was sixteen and lived in his apartment complex. She gave him his first joint and first kiss and he was hooked. He loved everything about both, especially the way they made him feel. Having grown up with only his dad and brother, girls were exotic to him and he couldn’t get enough time hanging out with them. He wanted to hear what they had to say, study their bodies, taste them, smell them, make them smile. Desiree and her friends taught him how to do just that in a way that guaranteed they couldn’t get pregnant. He had hours and hours of oral lessons from his first girlfriends. When he met MG he volunteered to teach her, then Casey, then Gina (though they never got that far). He’d be happy to go over the finer points with Carrie too if she ever asked.
“Don’t stop!” Carrie moaned and he went back to rubbing her feet. Casey took off her shoes and stuck her feet on his lap too. He rotated rubbing Carrie’s, then Gina’s, then Casey’s. MG’s were notably missing.
 
     
The tough-looking night shift waitress at Paul’s Pancakes flirted with him. She teased him about what he had to keep four dates happy then passed him her number on the back of the check.
Gina saw it first when she grabbed the check to divide the total by five. “So, who do you think this is for?” She joked as she held it up to show the others. They all smirked at Steve.
He shrugged off his innocence. “What?” There was no jealousy in the group. If he wanted to call the waitress he could. But that was the problem too, there was no jealousy, especially not from the one he wanted it from.
MG wiped the last of the syrup from her plate with her finger and licked it off. Steve watched her with rapt attention. Try as he might he couldn’t give up the hope that she might really care, that he hadn’t majorly fucked up when he told her that he loved her. He breathed out his frustration and looked away. Carrie caught him and gave him a small smile of understanding. She had it just as bad for her neighbor Ben as he did for MG.
He thought back to the two weeks when he had lived at MG’s house. His older brother Tony (better known as Stony) had come home wasted and beat the crap out of him. When he got to a pay phone the only person he wanted to call was MG and she didn’t hesitate to drive in a snow-storm and come get him. Then she took care of him, well, her and her mom. She put Hello Kitty band-aids all over him and made him laugh through his pain. She made stupid airplane noises and fed him soup because he could hardly move his shoulder and his lip was too swollen to eat solids his first day there. She fell asleep, spooned against him, watching movies on the couch in her upstairs TV room. He even stayed through Christmas. She bought him fingerless gloves and a hat, and her mom spent way too much on a new leather jacket for him. Best damn Christmas he could ever remember. Best two weeks he could ever remember. He wanted more of it.
But he fuckin blew it. Somewhere in the middle of telling her about his memories of his step-mom, he told MG that he loved her. He meant it, but he should have kept his mouth shut. Ever since then, they were still friends, but … it just wasn’t the same. She barely touched him anymore.
     
After pancakes they were all back at MG’s house where Steve was sprawled on the couch in the upstairs TV room. He had changed out of his tuxedo and was waiting for the girls to finish changing. It was past two a.m. and he had really had enough for the night, but MG insisted they needed to stay out all night. He slumped over the plump arm of the soft chenille sofa. Gina came in and flopped across the giant bean bag chair, looking like she had had enough too. Carrie and Casey both stretched out on the carpeted floor, sharing one of the big floor pillows for their heads.
“Don’t go to sleep,” he warned. “She’ll drag your ass down the stairs and out the door.” When it came to fun, MG was determined. If she wanted to stay out all night, they would all stay out all night, even if she had to drag them kicking and screaming.
But MG took too long to get ready (nothing new there) and they were all breathing deeply, sound asleep, when she came in the room.
“Come on you guys,” she pleaded to the silent room, then gave up when no one stirred and pulled a pile of blankets from the hall linen closet. Through half-open eyes Steve watched her drape a blanket over Carrie and Casey, then Gina. He closed his eyes when she sat on the coffee table in front of him, wondering what she would say or do if she thought he was asleep. She reached forward and twirled some of his wavy hair around her finger. She had been doing that ever since they met sophomore year. It made his hair stand up and her laugh.
He was half on the couch, one leg still on the floor. She laid the blanket over him and leaned in and sniffed his shirt when she tucked it around his neck. Hopefully smelling his cologne (not that he owned any). He had stopped by Walgreens to use a sample on his way to her house.
His heart lurched when he felt her climb over him and under the blanket and snuggle into his back. Her arm wrapped around him and burrowed into a warm spot against his chest. He opened his eyes and swallowed, willing his traitor heart to slow down before she could feel his reaction to her, that stupid hope he worked hard to keep buried. In his mind “Love Sucks” by the Addicts played in a loop ‘til he fell asleep.