Mutual Benefits – Chapters 11-15

Amateur

Chapter Eleven

It was a miracle that the memories of that second date didn’t make me fail all of my finals. School should have been the first thing on my mind, but it came at a distant second place, after Morgan, and the time we got to share together at the movie theater. Any time I wasn’t texting her, I was thinking of her. Kevin of all people reminded me that I should study for the finals, though Mother also was glad to give her two cents as well.

That said, I tried to be humble but I wasn’t delusional – I was fine. Finals were a breeze. At his point it came down to “which scholarship am I going to earn” rather than “am I going to pass?” I wasn’t worried. I wasn’t Taylor.

Taylor…

We hadn’t really talked since that night. She was really mature and self-aware in the moment, but knowing Taylor, there was a full possibility that after she dropped me off at home, she decided she was angry at me for “The things I made her say” or whatever and decided to work from that point outwards, deciding what I did wrong after already deciding that I was wrong for something. Wouldn’t have been the first time. Either way, it was clear something was up. After I finished my third final, I waited outside the classroom for her, just to debrief or something. When she exited – about a full hour after me, to boot – she just looked shocked that I was there, then stopped making eye contact with me and walked away.

I wasn’t sure if she was mad at me, or if she felt guilty, or if she was weirded out that I waited for her or something. Maybe all three. Maybe none. I didn’t know, and… the ‘cool guy’ follow-up would be to say I didn’t care, but I did. Taylor may have had her bad streaks, but I cared about her in some way, and I certainly cared about how she did. Her well-being in Data Management class was my baby too, and I wanted to see it through to the end, but… maybe I was right. Now that she didn’t need my tutoring, I was useless to her.

It definitely showed that I was bummed out and dragging my feet when I went back to my locker. Taylor may not have been the most important person in my life anymore, but… that didn’t mean it had to be all or nothing. If I was never going to see her again, that would have been a bummer. If this was the last I’d see of her… well, I would have missed her.

“Yo, Quinn.”

I turned around to see Joel walking up to me, with a purpose. Instinctively, I cringed. I couldn’t help it. Was this Taylor’s last action? She told him some lie about me, or worse, the truth? This was something I wouldn’t miss at all – the drama, the bullshit, the never-knowing.

I recovered when I didn’t feel immediate pain. I opened my eyes and saw Joel smirking slightly in a cocky way, clearly amused by my little cringe. “Y-yes?”

“I got a thing I wanna talk about with you. Walk with me,” he asserted.

“W-what is it?”

“Walk with me, dude,” he replied emphatically.

I gulped. This was not going to be good. I closed my locker, locking it, leaving one of my books in there but not daring to refuse Joel, or do anything that looked like refusing him. “Where are we going?”

“Who cares?” he replied with this faux easygoing voice, the kind jocks used in public to people they pushed around. “We’re just gonna go somewhere where no one else can disturb us, alright?”

I looked around. The hallways were practically empty. Taylor finished her final considerably later than most students, and almost everyone just went home afterwards. It’s not like I couldn’t have gathered attention by shouting “fire” or something, but I knew that if Joel was trying to look for a place to “talk to” me one-on-one, he was going to find one.

Maybe it was my active imagination, but I was shaking. Joel was assertive, strong, and most importantly, completely charming to the people of the school. If anything happened, he of all people could easily get away with it.

Eventually he led me into this hallway with no lockers in it and shrugged. “This’ll do,” he remarked out loud. “All the classrooms could have teachers marking finals. You know. Witnesses.”

That was confirmation. I was fucked.

Joel didn’t break eye contact, taking his backpack off and reaching into it. “Alright, so you already know where I’m going with this I bet…” he began.

He could have just hit me in that one hallway while I was at my locker and spared me the torment. I bit down hard on my tongue, waiting for the second part of his sentence.

“…but we’re still in the hallways, so we’ll keep this quiet. You got any more notes? How much for chem?”

I paused for a few seconds. My teeth released my tongue. “Huh?”

“Like, y’know…” he made a motion with his hand, rubbing his fingertips together, the symbol for money. “Chem’s my weakest subject. You got any chem notes? I’ll pay.”

“That’s what this is about?!” I couldn’t help asking.

He looked at me like I was dumb. “Um, yeah. Why, what else would I bother ya with?”

I shook my head. “Sorry, finals must be getting to me,” I replied, my voice still shaky. “I had chemistry first semester, but my notes are at home.”

He shrugged and gave another cocky smile. “Hey, that works. How about this – I drive ya home, and I can wait in the parking lot and you go get ‘em? I’ve been a, uh, a bad student – I got jack squat to work with.”

I chuckled nervously. “Haha, I see… Well, if you’re offering me a ride home, and I don’t need them anymore, I don’t mind doing it for free.”

“No shit?” Joel asked, his grin widening. “Quinn, you’re a pal! I’m glad I met ya!”

He accompanied his comment with a friendly slap on the back. It hurt a lot.

***

Hey, im hanging out at the gym after todays final. Want to come with me?

I stared at my phone, puzzled. What good would I do to Morgan at a gym? It didn’t seem like she’d be available to talk and it wasn’t private or anything, but it was an excuse to see her, so I shrugged and texted her back, agreeing and setting a time and place in the school to meet her.

The final itself was pretty easy, like the rest of them. Physics was a bunch of memorization; the better you could remember formulae, the better you did. The rest was just seeing the calculations through. The fact I breezed through my classes when they were structured like that told me both why I was good at things like math and science, and why I was always so confused around Morgan and Taylor.

After waiting around for Morgan to be done her final, we met in the intended hallway, shared a polite chaste kiss, and started to make our way outside.

“So, the gym, huh?” I asked.

Morgan looked at me as she walked, expecting me to go on. When I didn’t, she piped up. “What?”

“Oh, I’m just, I’m just wondering what we’re going to do there.”

She giggled at my question. “Well, I was planning on working out,” she said with a slightly weirded-out expression. “As crazy as that sounds.”

“…I think I don’t understand the concept of hanging out,” I admitted. “Doesn’t it make more sense to work out, and then hang out with friends or, y’know, me, afterwards? Since at that point you’re not burdened with working out.”

Morgan smiled with understanding. “It’s just nice to have someone else there,” she explained. “Just going to the gym is like just doing work. Sometimes doing work with other people around makes it enjoyable.”

“But aren’t you distracted?” I asked. “You’re doing stuff with the machinery and… yeah.”

Morgan gave me a contained smirk. “You could always watch me be distracted,” she offered.

“The whole time? I’d feel like a creep,” I honestly replied.

Morgan shook her head but kept her smile on her face. “Okay then, let’s settle. Half the time you look at me. The other half… did you bring a book to your final or something?”

I shook my head. “I’m not really reading anything right now anyways.”

“What do you do for fun then?”

“Um, in public? I don’t go out in public a lot, but… I guess I play my 3DS sometimes on the bus.”

“Your what?”

“It’s like a handheld video game console.”

She shrugged and stretched her arms. “Okay, then we can swing by your place and pick it up on the way. You play for half the time, then the other half you look at me.”

I chuckled and grinned at her. “Am I supposed to understand you, or are you being deliberately… strange?”

“Was that supposed to be a compliment?” she immediately shot back.

My smile faded. “Did it come across hurtfully?”

“No, don’t worry. I’m being… this is my way of being flirtatious.” She let a beat of silence pass between us, then her smile resumed, albeit playfully. “Since we both know you won’t be.”

“How would I even be flirtatious?” I asked.

“How…?” Morgan gave me a weird look.

“Yeah. How. Pretend I’m a socially awkward dork and you’re my first ever girlfriend, and that I have no experience flirting.” We’d stopped walking by now, even though we were close to the carpark exit. “What would you say I should do?”

“Well, there are many ways to flirt, Quinn,” she replied.

“Yeah, but I want to flirt the way that makes you feel the best.”

She smiled. “Well, there you go, you just did it,” she replied softly.

I shook my head. “Aren’t you popular? You could date literally any guy and all of them know how to just talk to you, and you go for me and act like I did something huge when I give you a weird awkward… thing like that.”

“Have you ever thought that I wanted to date you because of who you are, not despite who you are?!” Morgan asked, with a surprising amount of heat to her voice.

I remained quiet for a while, processing her answer. I felt like the biggest baby in the world, because the more I thought about it, the more I felt my eyes start to water. I wasn’t even sad or anything, it was like… shock tears or something. I rapidly turned away from Morgan and faced the wall.

I could hear her come up behind me. “Hug me. Do something. I don’t need to see your eyes,” she ordered.

“Give me a sec,” I immediately replied, breathing in and out a few times. I turned around and obliged her, giving her a hug which she accepted. “You’re really nice to me.”

“You’re really honest with me, and I like the nice things you say,” she replied with an earnest tone.

I pulled back from the hug and leaned in to kiss her. We closed our eyes and let a single slow kiss pass between us. Even so, time stopped. It felt like my soul was being dragged out of my body, swirling around with hers in a whirlpool, then slowly making its way back into me. We both smiled slightly as the kiss ended.

“I like that you did that,” she told me quietly. “Please stop telling me to stop liking you though.”

“I don’t mean it like that,” I admitted.

“I don’t care. It’s not fair to either of us when you say it. No girl likes hearing it, and it only makes you more unsure of yourself to hear yourself say it. If you want to see things objectively, who benefits from you saying it?”

“Well, that’s not really objectivity, it’s more l-…”

I stopped myself as I saw Morgan’s eyelids lowering. I recomposed myself and cleared my throat. “No one,” I admitted. “It’s a defence mechanism.”

“It’s a bad habit,” Morgan corrected me. “And not to suck my own dick, but I’m patient. Is your next girlfriend going to stick around when you do this pity party every few times you hang out?”

‘Next’ girlfriend? That was a Catch-22 if ever I saw one. Answering her would be like admitting there was going to be a next, but questioning the phrasing of ‘next’ would have been too bold. I had to not reply at all.

“What do you mean, next?” I asked, unable to stop myself. Thankfully, Morgan only winked in response. Not knowing what else to say, I started to walk for the doors and Morgan followed, no doubt a small smile on her face.

I realized once we got outside that I didn’t quite know which car to look for, though Morgan was happy to show me the way. After catching up to me, she gestured off towards the end of the carpark, where an idling car sat with a certain someone inside.

“Taylor? We’re going with Taylor?” I couldn’t help but blurt out.

“You know I don’t drive. You really couldn’t figure it out? Gifted kid,” she teased.

I stayed rooted to the ground for a few seconds. Something inside of me, weirdly, did not want to get into the car with Taylor, even though I’d done so more than a dozen times at this point, several with Morgan.

That said, what was I going to do, just stand there forever? I blinked a couple of times, regaining my composure, and walked forward with purpose, catching up to Morgan and greeting Taylor with a simple wave.

It was hard to tell if Taylor was completely nonchalant with me, or was trying to communicate with me less than usual because she was trying to prove a point or something. To be fair, she and Morgan were clearly close friends, and I guess I was some guy until a short time ago, so of course they were closer, although I shared a bond with her that Morgan clearly didn’t. I shuddered to think about that.

“Can we stop by Quinn’s on the way there?” Morgan asked when Taylor began driving. “He’s got to pick up his 3DS.”

“Um, why? Does he need it?” Taylor asked.

“He’d feel better with it, and his place is on the way, isn’t it?” Morgan continued.

“I… guess…” Taylor replied, dragging out each word, clearly inviting further comment on why her words were so pained. When no one did, she just huffed. “I just don’t get why he’d need it.”

“He doesn’t,” Morgan replied, cool as a cucumber. “I’m just asking you to stop by his place so he can get it. We’d appreciate it if you did. If you can’t, let us know.” She was, evidently, an expert at talking to Taylor. Taylor merely shook her head slightly and kept on driving, and a minute or so later, she was at my place.

I didn’t wait for either of them to so much as turn around and look at me. Within seconds I was flying out of the car, running inside, hoping that if I was quick enough, Taylor would like me more or something.

It was hard to tell if I had pissed her off or something, but, that was Taylor for you. It really helped having Morgan there – it was like having a giant neon side that said “if you were in the wrong, I’d be mad at you too, so relax.”

As soon as I was in the apartment, Mother spoke up. “Ah, who is… Quinn!” she exclaimed, turning around from sweeping the floor. “How was last final?”

“I think I did well, Mother!” I tossed behind me, running to my room and searching below the bed, quickly finding my 3DS.

“Today was physics?” she continued.

“Yeah!” I nodded, trying to communicate as wordlessly as I could that I was frazzled and needed to leave.

Luckily, she noticed quickly. “Where are you going? School is done. Do you have work today?”

“No, I’m off today. I was actually hoping to – I’m going to hang out with Morgan.”

“Morgan? Your girlfriend Morgan?”

“Yes Mother, my girlfriend.”

“And not Taylor, your girlfriend Taylor?”

I groaned. “I’m not dating two people, Mother.”

Mother smiled at me. “You fooled me, Quinn. It seem like you fool yourself too.”

I don’t know why, but that comment made me stop thinking about leaving and just stop.

Mother nevertheless continued. “Your girlfriend can wait. You need to tell me about your final! No arguing.”

I glanced over at the sink and remembered how, like me, Mother hated doing the dishes. “If I can leave right now, I’ll do all of the dishes when I come home, Mother. All of them.”

That made Mother stop in her tracks, then slowly break out into a smile. “This was too easy, Quinn. Your girlfriend is going to walk all over you when she gets to know you!” She paused. “Gàn ba! You’re standing there, staring at me, I didn’t realize I’d raised such a soft boy.” She gave me a knowing smile, then made the ‘shoo’ motion with your hands.

I knew I’d come to regret it later, but I smiled back at Mother and left, thanking my lucky stars. The only person who had grown more accustomed to my lack of a social life than me was Mother, and it was clear she was still in shock from me evolving from Loser to Not Quite a Loser.

When I got back to the car, Taylor gave me a look. “What took you so long?”

“My mother. Thank whatever deity you worship that you haven’t met her.”

“Thank wha…?” Taylor asked.

“He thinks his mom is scary,” Morgan clarified, then turned back and smirked for me.

I cringed. That couldn’t have boded well for my sexual congress with her. I couldn’t help but look away, which I’m pretty sure caused her to chuckle. Taylor ignored the both of us and piped up. “So I can go to the gym now, right? No more stops?”

“Go, bitch,” Morgan laughed, still enjoying the moment. “Is Joel going to be there?”

“Ugh, no,” Taylor grumbled. “The dick cancelled on me last minute. Why do you think I’m so pissed off?”

As if she could read my mind, Morgan looked at me again and raised her eyebrows up and down. She was clearly milking my situation as best as she could.

I was silent for the rest of the trip, and only thought to say something when we were in the lobby of the gym.

“Don’t I need a membership or something to go in?” I asked Morgan.

“Is this your first time going somewhere with Taylor?” Morgan asked me playfully. “Only went back to her place, never thought to ask her out, huh?”

“I thought to ask you out, though,” I countered with a smile.

She smiled back. “Watch this.”

I turned to see Taylor practically saunter her way up to the counter. “Heyyyy Grant,” she practically purred.

A fit white young adult looked up from whatever he was reading. “Oh, hey Tay. Good to see you again. You and Morgan again?”

“Actuallyyyyyyy, we were wondering if we could let a friend of ours in with us this just, just once. Is that cool?”

Grant looked over at me, then back to Taylor. “That guy? You sure he’s ever been inside of a gym before?”

I hadn’t, so I guess I had no right to be insulted at that, even though Morgan thought to murmur “sorry” towards me.

“Gym rules, I can’t let anyone in without a membership. He can buy one now though.”

“Oh, please?” Taylor whined. “I don’t wanna pay for a whole month for him, couldn’t you make an exception just this one time?” She put on her best pouty voice.

“Can’t he just wait out here or something? What is he, your boyfriend? You got a boyfriend now?”

Taylor gave a sultry laugh. “No, silly, of course he’s not my boyfriend, Grant! You know I wouldn’t do that to you,” she purred as if they were sharing an in-joke. “He’s just a friend. I’m still single for you.”

I immediately looked at Morgan with eyebrows raised. She met my gaze, but didn’t say anything.

I looked back at Grant and saw that behind the façade, Taylor was getting frustrated things weren’t playing out in her favor. “I won’t use any of the equipment,” I offered. “I’m just here to be company for Morgan and, uh, Taylor here.”

Grant looked back towards Taylor and sighed heavily. “You’re gonna get me fired one of these days.”

“For this or for the… y’know…?” Taylor teased him. “We haven’t been caught yet, have we?”

Grant rolled his eyes. “Whatever. Don’t cause me trouble. Go on in.”

“You’re the best!” Taylor practically shouted enthusiastically, then walked past him to the changerooms.

Morgan and I followed, with Morgan waiting until after we were out of earshot to tell me, “Don’t get the wrong idea, she and Grant haven’t done anything. She just likes doing that with guys who like her.”

“She still implied she was single for him when she’s not,” I countered.

“Believe me, that’s more about Grant being an asshole than her,” Morgan replied with a distrusting tone.

I didn’t really have anything to say to that, so I left it there. Morgan and Taylor went into the girls’ changeroom while I awkwardly walked through the guys’, then awkwardly waited in the gym on the other side for the girls to come out.

The gym was loud and echoey, with a really high ceiling and fans keeping the place a little cooler than I’d like. There were mirrors everywhere and the whole place smelled like plastic. I definitely felt out of place and the girls could clearly tell when they made it into the gym, judging by their laughs when they looked at me.

I decided to own it. “I’m surprised I had to tell him I wasn’t going to use the equipment, huh?”

Morgan chuckled, as did Taylor. “Oh, Quinn,” Taylor giggled. “Come with us! We’re doing the bikes first.”

Morgan turned to her friend with a cocked eyebrow. “Nope, I’m doing the machines first. Finish with light cardio, reps first.”

“Yeah, because the best time to do cardio is after you stretched yourself sore like a rubber band.” Taylor rolled her eyes.

“You’re just scared to use the machines,” Morgan practically sang.

Taylor eyed her friend curiously, her eyes flickering back and forth to me. “Are… are you trying to look good in front of your new boyfriend?” She turned to me. “Quinn, she normally starts off with cardio like me. She’s just trying to look good for you.”

“She doesn’t need to, she already looks good to me…” I said with a shrug.

Interestingly, as if they never argued at all, both girls ‘Ooh’ed at my comment. “He’s quick, he’s quick…” Taylor congratulated me, nodding, with Morgan saying something similar at the same time.

“Well, just so we don’t split up, we can do cardio first if you really want to,” Morgan conceded.

“And I do,” Taylor finished proudly. “See that, Quinn? She puts on a good show for you, but she listens to me.” She spun around towards the bikes and flipped her hair dramatically as she began to walk towards them.

“You are such a bitch,” Morgan laughed as she chased after her friend, slapping her on the ass, earning a yelp from Taylor. I turned pink and looked around the gym – either no one noticed or this was just common gym behavior from them, because nobody seemed to care.

I followed them and found some kind of nearby bench behind the bikes, watching the girls mount two bikes next to each other. They started pedalling, and as much as I did not want to look like a creep, I had to admit, I had a front-row seat to one of the nicest ass shows in the whole damn country.

Morgan’s ass was smaller albeit a little more visibly toned (my guess was her talking about using the stretch machines wasn’t just a lie for me), but it was an incredibly close contest, plus, I certainly wasn’t minding Taylor’s ass being bigger. Seeing both asses moving delicately back and forth as their legs pumped and pumped on the machines was getting my breathing just as quick as the two on the bikes. Suddenly I had completely forgotten that my 3DS was even in my pocket.

I thought about how much I missed feeling up Taylor’s ass when we had our little study sessions, as well as realizing I was going to get to have Morgan’s in my hands soon if I played my cards right. I was like a deer in headlights for most of this, and I chastised myself for even wanting it in the past, but it was clear that Morgan wanted me to want it, right? She’d be happy to know I was getting hard, sitting here, thinking about the next time I could make out with her and squeeze her ass cheeks in my hand.

Thanks to my daydreaming, I didn’t exactly have to ask. Not one minute into their Tour de Ass, Morgan glanced back at me and immediately broke into laughter. “I knew it,” she laughed to herself. “Hey Tay, we’ve got a peeper.”

I blushed and looked away as Taylor joined in on the laughter. “You’re so easy, Quinn,” she laughed alongside her friend. “Can’t resist looking, huh?”

I shifted around. “I’m just looking at you while you two exercise, to keep you company. It just so happens that you two have your backs to me. It’s just where the bench happened to be.” I turned more pink as I talked.

Taylor’s smile got bigger as I tried to explain myself, and her eyes flickered down. “He’s hard.”

“Oh, he’s definitely hard,” Morgan readily agreed, her tone jokingly implying it was obvious. She turned to me. “If it’s so embarrassing, why don’t you get on a bike instead? Or even just stand up and walk around a bit…”

I practically whimpered. “I promised the receptionist I wouldn’t use any of the equipment…”

Both girls broke out into giggles again. “God, I can’t believe you, Quinn…” Taylor jokingly chastised me, beginning to pedal yet lifting her ass above the seat so I could clearly see her butt moving from side to side, each cheek moving back and forth, showing off how big yet how fit her ass really was.

Morgan grinned at the situation. “What do you think, Quinn? Don’t act like you weren’t staring at it before.”

I had no clue what to do in this situation, so I just buried my face in my hands as the girls kept laughing.

Morgan couldn’t resist continuing. “We’re going to give him a heart attack, Tay.”

“Maybe we should get him a membership after all. That way he can’t stare at our butts and maybe he can get one like mine.”

“Ooh, I can get behind that. Quinn with a nice ass.”

“Yeah, I bet you can ‘get behind it,’” Taylor joked, and the two laughed and laughed. “What do you say, Quinn? Wanna come here with us more often? Get a nice ass for Morgan?”

“Get a nice ass?” I repeated cautiously, pulling my face out of my hands.

Morgan winked at me. “I like my boys with nice bums. Sue me. I haven’t even seen your bum yet.”

Both girls stared at me, smiling, waiting for me to answer. I coughed nervously but figured I needed to not take it so seriously. “Um… you can look but not touch?” I offered as a joke, and the two took it, laughing gently.

It was crazy to think about how mere days ago these two were furious at each other with me being the central plot to their little drama and now here they were, laughing and shoving their butts in my face. Although I certainly wasn’t complaining.

***

Was this a date? I had no clue. Taylor was here, so that made it weird, but Taylor had this natural charm to her where sex was more easily brought up around her than when Morgan and I were alone. And, in hindsight, it suddenly made more sense operating under that train of thought that Taylor and I also ended up doing what we did at our study sessions.

Either way, even with me nervously pushing back, it ended up with us driving to Morgan’s house. It’s not like we had school tomorrow – finals were over, and Morgan and Taylor wanted to celebrate. As for me, what could I do? My driver was dead-set on bringing both of us to Morgan’s, and was clearly having none of it when I bashfully told her I should get going soon.

I internally snickered when Taylor dragged me inside and I saw Morgan’s parents for the first time. They were exactly what one pictures when they’re told to picture the most stereotypical white man-woman couple. Even their names were straight out of some kind of “this is the Nuclear Family” 50s period piece – Art and Celeste. Art and Celeste Jones. Perfect.

“Oh now, who’s this?” Celeste piped up with that kind of middle-age energy a parent has when their kid brings home a friend, especially a friend of the opposite sex. “Morgan, do you have a new friend?”

Morgan seemed more nervous than I’d seen her in a long time. The last time I’d seen her this flustered was before she told me she liked me. “Um, so, mom and dad, this is, uh, Quinn. He’s… my boyfriend.”

Both Art and Celeste paused, though Art quickly recovered and gave a warm yet confused laugh. “Boyfriend, huh? Did you ever think about telling us?”

“We haven’t been together long,” Morgan defended herself, still very flustered.

“Long enough that you wanted him to meet your parents,” Taylor countered.

I heard a “Ha!” to my left and glanced over to an open-concept living room with Morgan’s brother hanging out on the couch, doing something on a laptop, clearly listening in. Judging by the grin on his face, he was clearly loving something about this. Taylor was grinning back at him, clearly already acquainted with him.

Morgan continued nonetheless. “Now that finals are done, I was wondering if Quinn could just hang out for the night. We won’t be too loud.”

Celeste looked at Art with a classic ‘concerned parent’ look, then looked back at us. “Morgan, sweetheart, I’m not sure if your dad and I are too comfortable with a boy staying over in your room. If you could-”

“Oh, I’ll be here too, Mrs. Jones!” Taylor piped up. I didn’t know whether to feel relieved or annoyed. It was clear she was sticking up for us, but on the other hand… I kind of wanted some alone time with Morgan, and it was almost more annoying to know that Taylor could probably guess that. Still, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten any alone time with Morgan in this house regardless.

“Well…” Celeste turned to Art and they murmured to each other a bit, then they turned back. “…Okay. You three have fun. Congratulations on finishing your finals.”

Morgan smiled politely at them. “Thanks, mom.” Without another word, she thundered up the stairs, with Taylor following close behind. Meekly, I followed, astonished how little her parents cared about talking to her. No real discussions about the finals, no discussion about how they clearly weren’t comfortable with me here without some kind of caveat… Morgan even dropped a “boyfriend” bomb on them and they didn’t even talk about it. Maybe Crystal was right, maybe a lot of this was culture shock.

Morgan and Taylor were so quick to get to Morgan’s room that I almost missed them, and would have had to guess which room was hers. When I got there, I found them giggling and on the bed together, looking over something on their phones.

Morgan smiled at me and patted the bed next to her when I arrived, but Taylor barely acknowledged my existence. After she tore herself away from her phone, she looked under the bed and grabbed some kind of blueberry vodka, with ‘Triple Eight’ on the label. I was looking at her, but Morgan went back to her phone.

“This stuff – Morgan! – this stuff is the good stuff I was talking about, trust me. Locally made, Arin raves about it – trust me.” Taylor sported a grin and started to open it. “Are you ready to become a man, Quinn?” she teased.

Thanks to the gym visit, I was getting more comfortable with their joking. “I’ll stay a boy. None for me, thanks.”

“You don’t know what you’re missing. Cups,” she ordered at Morgan. Morgan went to her closet and pulled out a few red plastic cups, handing me a third one.

“Just in case you change your mind,” she told me, and shrugged. “Or if you want some water. I think there might be other stuff downstairs too.”

“Thanks,” I told her as Taylor poured herself a ‘glass,’ then Morgan.

“Fuck finals!” she toasted, holding her cup in the air.

“Fuck finals,” Morgan chuckled, toasting to her. The two attempted to down as much of the vodka as they could, though Morgan quickly recoiled and came up sputtering. “Jesus,” she muttered.

Taylor, though, kept downing the drink, drinking slowly but nearly downing half of the cup. Morgan shook her head, watching the scene before her. “I have no fucking clue how you do that…” Morgan murmured slowly, coughing once or twice from the drink she just took.

Taylor shrugged at her, then looked at me and winked. “I’m just talented,” she said simply. “You may not like it, but like… I’m good at this shit.” The two laughed.

I was starting to feel weird and out of the loop, so I decided to say something – anything – to stay relevant. “Do you drink a lot, Morgan? The last time I saw you drinking was in her basement.”

Not the greatest thing to bring up since that was an awkward time for us, but I think Morgan knew I was just trying to stay in the conversation. She shifted her body from Taylor to me. “Nope, I really only drink with her and Crystal and Milo and the gang.”

“And Lexi,” Taylor laughed. “You literally only forgot Lexi.”

Morgan simply laughed back, then resumed talking to me. “I think it’s pretty clear I don’t have a lot of experience with this kind of stuff. Not as much as…”

“…Not as much as me,” Taylor said proudly, filling up Morgan’s cup. “Okay, you gotta drink all that before thirty minutes.”

I peered into the cup. The vodka only went halfway. “…Half a cup in thirty minutes?” I asked. “Why doesn’t she just down it immediately?”

Taylor turned to Morgan. “He’s so cute,” she cooed patronizingly.

Morgan turned to me, holding the cup to my face. “Here. Smell it. You don’t have to drink anything, but do me a favor and just smell.”

Hesitating, I took the cup, and sniffed. The smell was halfway between glue and poison. I couldn’t even smell the blueberries. “Ugh,” I instinctively retched.

“Yup,” Morgan smirked, taking the cup back. “That’s why.”

When I was a kid, my small exposure to alcohol was usually in TV shows, portraying alcohol as this amazing drink adults couldn’t resist. So many characters loved it so much, and I figured it was because it tasted so good and happened to get you drunk. Now I was almost confused. “Does it taste as bad as it smells?”

Morgan side-eyed me, almost putting the cup to her lips. She smirked. “It also burns going down too. Za zdorovie!” She started drinking it slowly, matched by Taylor.

Taylor nearly finished her cup, setting it down violently and shivering, before breathing through her mouth a few times. “I think I need to, like, slow down,” she commented sickly.

Morgan didn’t return, still drinking. It was clear she was trying to match Taylor. Slowly, she did, finally coming up for air, clearly putting on a brave face yet feeling the same way. “Why, what’s wrong?” she asked, pretending like it didn’t even faze her.

Taylor shook her head with a smile. “You bitch.”

“What’s wrong? I thought you were good at this shit,” Morgan replied with a sing-song tone to her voice. I recognized it from the last time she drank with Taylor that I saw. Still, I grinned and waited for Taylor’s reaction.

“You suck,” she laughed, filling up both cups to the halfway point. “Okay, both of us set it aside. You’re not gonna look sexy when you’re, like, barfing all over Quinn.”

Morgan looked at me with a little smile. I smiled back and shrugged. “You stayed with me through worse,” I joked and she giggled, turning back to Taylor.

The two of them talked for a little while, mostly about finals, getting to see friends over the summer, and not having to see people they hated ever again. High school girls were kind of characterized as hating other girls, at least in my experience, but it seemed like in this group at least they were way more preoccupied with hating boys. Girls were usually mentioned in the context of plans and parties they were going to. Boys were just badmouthed, apart for a few lucky exceptions, myself included.

It was clear that after a bit, the drinks started to take their effect. I recognized a few of the telltale signs in Taylor’s performance, but the big giveaway was Morgan. The tipsier she got, the more she leaned in to me, until a full half hour had gone by and the girls resumed their drinking, with Morgan practically using me as her standing pillow.

I started playfully pushing back against Morgan, watching Morgan move back and forth like a sitting ragdoll. She eventually turned to face me, doing one of those exaggerated and big neck movements to shift her head that drunk people did. It looked like the drink was hitting her fairly hard. She was looking at me through half-closed eyes, but for the first time, not in a disapproving way.

“Hey,” she murmured cutely in a soft voice. A higher-pitched voice, one I’d never heard from Morgan before.

“Hey,” I responded with a light chuckle. “Having fun?”

“Mmmmmyes,” she replied simply, throwing herself lightly at me. I did my best to catch her and as I did, she lightly kissed me on the lips.

“Get a room,” Taylor quipped.

“We did, we’re in one. You’re just here too,” Morgan fired back, turning her body back to Morgan. “Weird how the school slut is coming after me for this shit.”

“I am not the school slut!” Taylor protested, drinking from her cup after. “Not my fault I have more experience with guys. Men just fling themselves at me. You’d better hope you can contain Quinn over there.”

I laughed nervously, knowing that with our history, this subject matter could get ugly quickly.

Luckily, Morgan didn’t really seem interested in taking the bait, if that was bait. “Oh my God, Taylor, listen. So, Quinn and I went out for our second date at the movies, and we totally did the thing.”

“Oh my God, really?!” Taylor instantly got into it, whatever ‘it’ was. “Tell me all about it.”

“Okay, so, I got the good seats…”

“The ones with the sound,” I added proudly, just happy to contribute where I could. Both girls gave me some kind of look.

“Sound…?” Taylor asked.

“Don’t listen to him. Anyway, so he just sat there and watched the movie for, like, thirty whole minutes before making a move.”

Taylor looked at me approvingly and raised her glass to me. “Always such a gentleman, Quinn,” she muttered approvingly, taking a sip. I looked back at her with confusion.

“He’s on me after I kiss him, maybe once, and oh my fucking God Tay, his hands went -” She paused, turning to look at me. “I’d really like to tell Taylor about this. Just Taylor. Could I, please?”

I couldn’t help but smile in disbelief at her. “Um, yeah, go ahead, we’re in a unique situation,” I managed, truthfully not knowing where my comfort levels were at but realizing this, for whatever reason, meant a lot to her.

She turned back immediately. “His hands went under my shirt! We’re making out and I’m on his leg and he actually grabbed my boobs first and – ugh! When I got home I, like, immediately masturbated.”

I blushed, knowing I had an effect on Morgan but not quite that much of an effect. Taylor nodded approvingly. “Sounds like the Quinn I know,” she joked. “You know who taught him how to be effective at grabbing them, right? You’re, like, welcome, Morgan.”

Up until this point it was clear Morgan and Taylor made peace with the past but Morgan couldn’t hide the look on her face after Taylor made that comment. As the sober one in the room, I suddenly became aware that I probably should have spoken up in Morgan’s honor but before I could, Morgan took about a shot’s worth of her vodka and turned to my ear, beginning to whisper.

“Could I, like, make out with you in front of her, would that be cool?”

I paused. “…What?” I finally whispered back.

“She gets like this, and just, actions speak louder than… y’know? C’mon, if you want to I think it would be really… I think it would get to her.” She smiled drunkenly at me.

“Can you consent like this?” I asked worriedly. “You’re drunk.”

“Quinn, we literally made out before when I was sober. This is fine,” she clarified. “That stuff only applies to new stuff.”

“It’s new to make out with an audience,” I countered.

She grinned. “Got me there. No, look, it’s fine, just, hand me that water bottle over there.”

“Why?”

“My mouth is gonna taste terrible, and you don’t want that,” she whispered, smiling. I smiled back. Always so considerate.

“Hello? Can I be part of the conversation too?” Taylor asked, annoyed, as I handed Morgan the water. She took a drink, swished it around her mouth for a bit, then swallowed, winking at me.

She turned back to Taylor. “Sorry, you wanted to continue talking about you doing shit with my boyfriend?”

Taylor lowered an eyebrow. “Aww, are you jealous?” she asked in a mock baby voice with faux concern.

“Are you?” Morgan asked her then turned around and attacked my mouth with passion. It was clear that in her drunken state she was sacrificing technique for eagerness, so as the sober one, I had to pick up the slack and make up for it, even in my state of slight shock. I kissed her back, my eyes remaining open in the sheer surprise of what was going on, long enough to see Morgan extend an arm behind her aimed at Taylor, flipping her off as she kissed me. I had to control myself not to laugh into Morgan’s mouth as I accepted the situation and slowly got into it, kissing Morgan back and allowing her tongue access into my mouth.

At the beginning of our kiss, Taylor scoffed and gave a small chuckle, but I noticed I didn’t hear anything else from her. Frankly, I didn’t care. I didn’t get to make out with Morgan since the movie theater, so we made up for lost time. Morgan was very motivated to enjoy me and the alcohol meant that she wasn’t holding back at all, kissing me and beginning to move her hands up and down my shoulders romantically yet hungrily. I was a bit more hesitant but soon I was mimicking her movements, moving my hands up and down her body too, remembering to keep it as safe-for-work as possible.

Apparently that wasn’t a factor for Morgan. Mid-kiss one of her hands began travelling lower and lower until she found my rock-hard cock. As soon as her hand made contact my body jerked automatically and she broke off the kiss, taking her hand away from it. We looked into each other’s eyes for a bit in shock but after a few seconds her gaze softened and her hand slowly returned to my cock, tracing its tent in my pants.

I gazed back towards Taylor, which was enough to make Morgan remember that there was a third party in the room. She stopped teasing my dick and looked back at Taylor, with what I could only imagine as embarrassment in her eyes.

Taylor had a small smile on her face, her eyes glossed over yet still clearly looking at us. When she saw whatever expression Morgan was giving her, she waved it off. “Whatever, I’ve seen it before,” she said in what tried to come across as a confident voice. In reality it was a little shaky, like she had to clear her throat. “Just have your fun, who cares. I’m cool with it if you are.”

Morgan looked back at me, eyes still half-closed, and a little unfocused. I clearly looked a little uneasy. “We don’t have to,” she whispered cutely, in that higher-pitched voice of hers.

“I’m more worried about you,” I answered honestly.

“I want this. A lot,” she admitted, blushing a little. “I don’t care what else is here… you’re here. And I’ll stop anytime you ask me to.” She looked down at my dick and shuddered. “This wasn’t how I was picturing it, but…” She looked back up at me. “I kinda don’t want to wait anymore.”

I was losing my resolve more and more by the second. My gaze softened and I found myself slowly nodding at her to continue. Gleefully, her hands resumed its journey, travelling up from my leg this time. She got down on her knees and knelt before me as I sat on her bed, mesmerized by the sight. Her breathing was quickening. Her chest was rising and falling. She groped the outline of my cock and boldly grabbed at it, truly feeling me in her hands for the first time.

She stared at it openly, transfixed, experimentally grabbing at it and moving it back and forth. She looked up at my eyes and smiled a content little smile. I couldn’t help smiling back, and nodded at her. She bit her lip and continued, moving her hand back and forth, trying clumsily to jack me off over my pants. It wasn’t working that well, but the sight alone had me pulsing and throbbing, so that was definitely counting for something.

I was still a little nervous in this situation – hell, I would have been nervous if we were alone doing this – but I wanted to do this, for her. It was clear Morgan was more eager when she was drunk, but also more daring. She stood up straight on her knees, pulling me by the shirt down, into a deep kiss, thoroughly enjoying what she was doing. She was thoroughly enjoying me. When the kiss ended, she was blushing more profusely, her breathing a little quicker, as she slowly, delicately, almost teasingly, began to play with my fly. Biting her lower lip again, she looked into my eyes, searching for approval.

Fondling me over my pants was one thing, but this was another entirely. My first thought was to look at Taylor. Expecting a look of bewilderment, I was surprised instead to find a look of… intent on her face. She wasn’t even looking at me, or at least, not in the eye. She was clearly staring between my legs, but once she saw I was looking at her, she tried to smoothly transition to looking away, but she did it in the most awkward way possible, staring out the window instead like she hadn’t noticed me. As I kept looking at her, she maintained her stare out the window, but started to blush.

I looked back at Morgan and just stared, my heart thumping in my chest, as she pulled out my cock, inch by inch, looking it over. She smiled back up at me with her half-closed eyes. “I love it,” she practically whispered, beginning to jack me off.

I threw my head back and moaned instantly, a little louder than I’d hoped. Taylor definitely heard. I had to contain myself or I’d cum instantly. Morgan, teasingly, moaned back, causing me to look back at her with a horny smile on my face.

“This is so fucked, you guys,” Taylor’s dry voice broke the tension between us.

Still pumping my cock with her hand, Morgan turned to Taylor and shrugged. “You didn’t stop us,” she told Taylor with her sing-song voice. “I even saw you staring at it. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you miss this and you want to do this almost as badly as I do right now.”

Taylor laughed as if she was being challenged. “Big talk, slut. It sure seems like you’re the one that wants me to do something right now.”

Morgan raised both eyebrows at Taylor and smirked confidently, leaning back a bit. Taylor stared at Morgan for a bit, then at me, and got up, moving over to me and taking my dick in her hand, looking over at Morgan. They met eyes and began giggling, with Taylor starting to pump me.

I should have liked it. I really wanted to like it. From the moment Taylor got in on it, it started to feel… off. Wrong somehow. Morgan wasn’t objecting, but that didn’t change anything to me. I don’t think I was uncomfortable because of Morgan, I think… this was a me thing. This was a thing I didn’t want.

Within a minute or two of Taylor taking over, I had started to go soft, even while she was doing a good job jacking me off. She frowned in concentration but kept going, making me realize that I would have to speak up. I cleared my throat and said, “Uh, maybe we could do something else now…”

It was like a spell had been broken. Taylor looked up into my eyes and maintained eye contact for about a second before looking away from me and taking her hand off of me immediately. Morgan’s eyes got big and there was a recognizable look to them – guilt. Unmistakably guilt.

Taylor, of course, was too human for guilt. “I was just doing what it seemed like we all wanted,” she began. “It was, like, pretty clear to me. I don’t know what you guys were trying to do, but like, this is not on me if you can’t keep it up.”

“No, it’s fine. Nobody’s fault. Let’s just… hang out instead or something,” I replied as I awkwardly shifted my pants back up. “I did really enjoy it, but yeah. Just a little weird for me, that’s all.”

“Well, I think that-”

“And if it’s cool, I’d rather we not talk about it. I’m not mad, I just want to move on. Now, preferably,” I said, with a gentle tone, but still a meaningful one.

Taylor paused. “Well, what do you want to do?” she asked, moving back to the bed. “Just talk until we drive you back?”

“Taylor, we both drank way too much for that to even be an option,” Morgan spoke for the first time since my objection. She too went back to the bed. Her guilty expression, however, hadn’t changed. “He’s going to have to sleep over.”

Realization struck me. Mother was going to have my hide. “I’ll need to call my mother,” I muttered.

“Um, okay, so go do that… I’m going to talk to my parents.” Morgan stood up, wobbling a bit but keeping her footing. “They’re not gonna be happy, but like… we don’t have a lot of options.” I had a sneaking suspicion she wasn’t heartbroken to get out of the room as soon as possible, if the lingering guilt on her face was any indication. Within seconds, she was out of the room.

I pulled out my phone and dialed my home’s phone number, thanking goodness that it wasn’t too late in the night. While I was dialing, I heard Taylor sigh twice, then she spoke.

“Are you not attracted to me anymore?”

For a second I didn’t even remember I had a phone in my hand. I stared at the ground, my mind blank except for the lingering thought that she just asked that, and I was going to have to answer her. I considered lying, but realized that wouldn’t get me anywhere, so I answered with as much honesty as I had in me.

“I… am. Sexually, I… yeah, I still am. I am still sexually attracted to you. I just… never envisioned… that a relationship… could even be like this. This is my first relationship, and… due to its unique nature, I… don’t know how to proceed. I literally don’t know how I’ll feel about something like this until it happens. I’m learning about myself with everything we do. So, so far, what happened in the gym was okay. Whatever just happened now… at least in this point in time, that was too much. It’s a little weird for me to do this stuff in front of someone else, but I think I am still sexually attracted to you.”

Taylor gave a small smile and a nod in response to what I said, clearly doing her best to take it in. I finished dialing and put my phone to my ear. As I did, hearing the phone start to ring, I saw Taylor slide over to me, bring her hand over to me, and hover it above my crotch. She stopped, and looked at me for approval.

At first I was confused, but quickly it dawned on me that this was an ego thing for her. Not even in a negative connotation. It seemed silly, but this was important to her. I may have been the one with the dick, but… this was clearly more about her than me. Understanding that, I shrugged, doing my best to look nonchalant, and nodded. Equally nonchalantly, she began to rub my rehardening member, doing her best not to be too rough and make the phone call awkward.

Mother was absolutely baffled at me explaining my situation, and needless to say, not amused. It was almost nice to have Taylor’s, um, “company” as Mother switched over to Mandarin and began yelling into the phone.

“You are telling me there is no other option?! Quinn, if you know they are getting drunk, you take responsibility! You tell them, ‘no, I need to come home!’ Like you promised! How can I trust you when you lie to me, Quinn? And don’t think I don’t see what you are doing! You tell me I can trust you won’t be irresponsible when you sleep over with your one girlfriend Morgan and your other girlfriend Taylor, and both of them are drunk?!” Taylor was within earshot of the phone and could likely vaguely hear Mother’s voice, so I was eternally grateful Mother was choosing to admonish me in Mandarin. Otherwise I would have had some explaining to do for that ‘other girlfriend’ comment.

Of course, I had no solution to give her, and nothing to offer but my apologies, so eventually, Mother had to accept that. She grumbled about this not being the end and a “serious talk” we’d have to have when I was back, then she wished me a good sleep and hung up. I sighed and laid back on the bed with my eyes closed, and Taylor’s hand on my crotch.

“She seems like a handful,” she mumbled.

“You’re one to talk,” I quipped to her.

I heard the door open and guessed Morgan walked in. If nothing else, if anyone else walked in, I would have felt Taylor retract her hand. In true Taylor fashion, in front of my girlfriend, she kept groping me.

I opened my eyes and looked at Morgan, who was smirking at us. “You two are so weird.”

“We all are,” Taylor purred, retracting her hand. I got up and kissed Morgan, and Taylor got up and closed the door as the gentle kiss got heavier until we were making out for the second time that night. What a fucking life I was living.

Chapter Twelve

I was never going to have a threesome with Morgan and Taylor. That much had become clear. In fact, the more the three of us hung out and sexuality was inevitably introduced, the more sure I was that I wanted to distance myself from the entire topic. And yet… something inside of me couldn’t stop her. It couldn’t stop her when we were alone, and it couldn’t stop me when we were all hanging out together. That had to end.

It was clear it was only going to end on Taylor’s terms, which definitely complicated the process. Taylor, it seemed, felt one way about me one day, and another the next. Morgan brought stability. Taylor brought spontaneity. I brought…

…What the hell did I bring? To either of their lives. It was all well and good that Morgan gave me the whole ‘I like you because of who you are’ speech, but it didn’t really convince me. I wasn’t anything. I felt… blank. Boring, like a piece of paper with no writing on it or something. I definitely wanted to be someone for Morgan, she was beginning to inspire that in me, but it still felt like only a beginning.

It was around six in the morning when I woke up. The other two were probably passed out. I left to sleep on the couch around the time their alcohol started to wear off and Morgan urged me to go to bed and skip what Taylor got like when she came down from peak drunkenness, whatever that meant.

I couldn’t sleep, so I did what I do best when I can’t sleep, and put some pants on and paced back and forth, eventually deciding I needed water in my system.

I couldn’t help but smirk when I saw their fridge. They had one of those rich suburban family fridges with the water tap in it. I quickly found a glass and helped myself to their water, opting for the ‘cool’ tap, since the fridge was kind enough to ask. Unfortunately, I nearly choked on it when someone turned the corner.

“Good morning,” Morgan’s brother told me in a quiet voice as he walked into the kitchen. Like me, he wasn’t wearing a shirt, though he was clearly more secure about that fact than I was.

“Hello,” I said, I think the first word I said to the guy. He had blond hair, dirtier than Morgan’s, and some matching facial hair to go with it. Like his sister, he was fairly good-looking, and naturally intimidating. He sported a pair of trendy glasses, and clearly shared Morgan’s habit of going to the gym.

I didn’t know why, but I was incredibly nervous.

“So,” he began, getting some orange juice out of the fridge. “You’re Quinn.”

“Yes,” I replied uneasily, wanting to cut the tension with ‘you’re observant’ or something but not knowing how that would go over.

“My sister’s boyfriend.”

“Is that okay?” I asked. I felt my cheeks get hot after I asked.

He gave me a weird look that slowly broke into a smile. “Yeah. Yeah, it’s okay. Relax. It’s just the only thing I know about you so far.”

“Oh. Well, I go to school with Morgan. I know her because I tutored Taylor in math.”

“You know her from Taylor?” he asked, clearly with some kind of purpose.

I felt my cheeks get hot again. “Um, yes…” I mumbled.

“Hmm, interesting,” he remarked to himself. “Well, Quinn, my name is Doug. It’s nice to finally get to meet you.” He nodded diplomatically.

I nodded back. “Nice to meet you, Doug,” I told him. “Is this like a thing you do often? Like, do I need to know the rules to date your sister or something?”

I didn’t know if what I just asked was bold or anything, but Doug smirked like I just told him a joke. “Maybe if you were someone else. I don’t get bad vibrations from you. You kind of look… is it okay to say, ‘shy?’” Seeing me shrug and nod, he continued. “Then yeah, shy.”

“I’m not very popular,” I pointed out. Doug just stared at me. “Morgan is.”

“Ah, I see,” he commented lightly. He took an apple out of a bowl and took a bite of it. “You’re a lucky guy then, if I remember Hazelwood’s cliques as well as I do,” he said with a mouth full of apple.

“More like I don’t get why she picked me,” I said dejectedly.

“Ooh, pity party. Aren’t you a cheery one,” he jeered. “I won’t be able to tell you what Morgan’s type is if that’s something you’re looking for.”

“Why not?”

“Because Morgan barely ever tells mom and dad that she has a ‘boyfriend.’ She goes on dates, but she’ll only ever go on three dates with a guy, maximum, dump him, and feel weird ever calling him a boyfriend while doing it. So, clearly, whatever her type is, you mean something to her.”

“Okay,” I digested slowly. “That does make me feel a little better. But she did tell Taylor about guys doing stuff with her before. You know, not date things, but-”

Doug held up a hand. “Can I assume ‘not popular’ can also mean ‘socially awkward?’ Is that a fair thing to assume here?”

“Um, yes, it can.”

“Great, thought so. Gonna give you a freebie lesson here: Don’t tell a girl’s brother she’s done anything sexual, especially out of a relationship. It’s weird.”

“Oh, sorry,” I backed down immediately.

Doug raised his eyebrows at me. “Huh. Thought you were going to push back a little on that. You’re a hard guy to read.”

“Did we ever know each other in high school?” I asked. “Or even go at the same time or something?”

“Nope, first time I’m seeing you. I’m twenty-five.”

“Oh.” I let silence fill the air. “I’m sorry about saying that thing I said earlier.”

“I trust you’re more romantic and sensitive with her,” he told me dryly with a smile.

“I want to be. She thinks I am… sometimes.”

He shrugged. “Then you’re good.”

“I just feel like-” I stopped mid-sentence when Taylor stumbled into the kitchen. She practically spilled into it. Her hair was messed up, her eyes were, at most, a quarter open, and she had this look of perpetual pain on her face.

“Good morning, Taylor,” Doug practically sang with a smug face.

“Go fuck yourself,” Taylor answered. “Quinn, get me some water.”

I scrambled to get another glass. “Sounds like you went harder than cider,” Doug observed.

“Triple eight,” Taylor answered. “Quinn!”

“Yeah, that doesn’t mean anything to me,” Doug continued as I filled the glass and handed it to her.

She drank the whole thing before answering. “Vodka,” she spat out, handing me the glass. “Fill it up again.”

“Vodka? And you’re looking like this? Hope you didn’t throw up,” Doug said flatly.

Taylor shook her head, taking the glass I filled again. “I didn’t. Morgan did.”

“Wait, Morgan threw up?!” I asked with urgency.

“Keep it down!!” Taylor said quietly yet with urgency.

“Yeah, this – I’ll handle this, Taylor – our parents don’t know about this kind of thing,” Doug said to me in a patient voice.

“But, she’s my – I need to go see her, is she awake?” I replied, still worried for her.

Taylor’s arm stopped me. “Quinn, you’re sweet, but Morgan has specifically asked not to see you this morning.”

“She… what?” I felt my heart sink. What the heck did that mean?

“You’re going to give the guy a heart attack, Taylor, he’s clueless! Lead more gently!” Doug barked. “Yo, Quinn.” He whistled at me as one does to a dog to get my attention. I slowly turned to him. “She’s embarrassed and thinks she looks terrible. She doesn’t want her boyfriend to see her in such a state. It’s a code of honor thing. She doesn’t want you to see her at her worst, that’s all. It’s not about you. It’s an insecurity thing.”

I stared back and forth between the two of them, confused, no noise except for a muffled sound of throwing up occurring from down the hall. Was this a code of honor thing? Maybe I was socially oblivious, but the code of honor kind of sucked. Wordlessly, I got a third glass out of the cupboard, filled it with water, and marched up the stairs and down the hallway, this time ignoring Taylor’s arm before going.

Finding the washroom down the hallway was easy; it was clear Morgan started throwing up before she made it to the toilet. The smell was… I ignored the smell. Gingerly, I took the last few steps into the washroom, hearing the sound of Morgan sniffling and… possibly crying softly. It was hard to tell. She was hunched over the toilet, occasionally dry-heaving, looking a bit like a mess even from the back.

I didn’t have much experience with alcohol. In fact, I didn’t have any. But I knew at a basic level what alcohol did, and tried to think hard about what she’d be going through, and based what I told her on that.

“It’s me. No need to turn around if you feel bad or anything. I brought you some water, it’ll be on the sink.” I let the glass settle on the porcelain sink with a ‘clink’ to demonstrate. “I just didn’t want you to be alone or feel too bad to see me. This could, uh, happen to anyone, and I don’t want you to feel bad.”

I let my words sink in. Morgan didn’t turn around, and it was really hard to figure out if I made the right call or the wrong one. Eventually, she got some toilet paper and wiped her mouth with it, throwing it in the toilet and flushing whatever was in there. Slowly, she turned around and faced me.

She looked a little worse than usual, sure, but… she was my girlfriend. And despite her pained expression and puffy ‘I’ve just been crying’ eyes, she was smiling at me. “Thank you for checking up on me, Quinn,” she told me softly. “Can you give me a second to just freshen up?”

I had an idea. “Yeah,” I told her, looking underneath the kitchen sink. Sure enough, sme all-purpose cleaner and paper towels greeted my eyes. I grabbed both and headed out of the washroom, determined, even being bold enough to shut the door behind me. While Morgan was in the washroom, I cleaned up any mess I found on the ground. By the time I was done, Morgan had just gotten out of the washroom, smelling overwhelmingly of mint.

“Oh my God, Quinn,” she commented, only then realizing what I did. “Why did you do that?”

“Because I figure this situation was terrible for you and I wanted to help my girlfriend?” I felt my heart rise in my chest. Something about calling her my girlfriend made me happy. The way she smiled when I said it made me more convinced.

“You are the fucking sweetest person,” she told me, grabbing my hand and holding it in hers.

“Oh, be careful, I still haven’t washed my hands since using the cleane-”

“I’ll be okay, I’ll take the risk,” she told me sarcastically. “This was, uh, really embarrassing for me. I’m sorry you had to see me like this.”

I stared at her, somewhat confused but also somewhat understanding. “Morgan, this was just you in a tricky situation. I don’t get why I would want to not see you right now. If I hear you’re not doing well, that should make me want to help, not stand by.”

“I don’t want you ever questioning why I like you again,” she laughed. “Can I kiss you? I brushed my teeth. Really thoroughly. I’d understand if you didn’t want that.”

“I do want that,” I told her, and as a gesture, I was the one who brought her in close. I was the one that brought my lips to hers.

I was happy to find that she did a good job; I tasted nothing but mint. We started off tame, but ended up passionately kissing each other in the doorway to her washroom, quickly going from sweet and kind to a sea of teenage hormones. When we broke off the kiss, despite her clear hangover, Morgan was looking at me with lust and vitality in her eyes.

“Do you have to go immediately?” Morgan asked. “Because I think a guy that is willing to be that helpful is pretty… sexy, and I want to show you how much I appreciate you.”

I smiled. “I think Taylor is my ride, so she’s the one that needs convincing,” I told her. “Or Doug. Whoever can give me a ride. I don’t mind staying a bit longer and…”

“And…?” Morgan teased.

“And,” I told her with a grin. She got the message and walked off down the stairs, leaving me in the hallway chuckling.

I couldn’t resist listening in on whatever conversation they’d have, though. I wasn’t above that. I tiptoed over to the banister and leaned over, closing my eyes and listening in.

“No,” Taylor’s flat voice met my ears. “Maybe try thinking of someone else for once. I’m hurting too.”

“Doesn’t that work though?” Morgan asked. “You can sit here and drink water, recover, do whatever you want. I just want to see him for a few more minutes.”

“Can I ask why you like him?” Doug interjected. “You’ve turned down guys that have more charisma in their left nut. How much chemistry could you possibly have if he just answers ‘um, yeah’ to everything?”

“Where the fuck did that come from?!” Morgan demanded.

“Woah, woah. Didn’t realize I had to like any boyfriend you bring home immediately.” Doug’s tone got sour.

“Taylor, help me out here,” Morgan pleaded.

I heard Taylor sigh. “He can be a sweet guy. Misguided, but sweet. Not really boyfriend material, but…”

“Not exactly a ten in the looks department either,” Doug dryly added. Ouch.

No one spoke for a bit. “You’re driving him home, Doug,” Morgan told him after a while, in the angriest voice I ever heard her use. “And you’re both going to be a lot fucking nicer to him from now on, and if you don’t, don’t bother fucking talking to me either. Taylor, go the fuck home if you’re going to be such a baby.” I could hear her stomping back to the stairs and tiptoed back to the hallway, grabbing the cleaning supplies again and pretending to go over the floor again. I looked up after positioning myself in time to see Morgan coming up the stairs.

“Oh, hey,” I casually said. “How’d it go?”

“Did you hear anything?”

“Nope, I was busy here,” I lied.

She broke into a sweet smile, as if nothing had happened. “Oh! We’re all good,” she lied back. “Doug was happy to offer you a ride home if Taylor decides she wants to go home soon. Her head is really hurting, so I wouldn’t blame her.”

“And how’s your head, are you alright?” I asked, standing up.

“I’m… yeah, I’m okay,” she replied uneasily. “Can I say something weird? It’s just on my mind right now.” She started to head into her room.

I followed. “Um, yeah, sure. What’s up?”

She closed the door behind us. “So, if we ever do break up…”

“I don’t like where this is going.”

“I wouldn’t like it either, but this is just a thing I want to say about you. I know high school does this whole totem pole thing, and a lot of people can make you think or feel you’re on the bottom.” She fidgeted with her hands. “If you were ever single, just… don’t presume that someone taking pity on you is being nice to you. It’s okay to have value in yourself. You’re really sweet, and you see the good in people a lot. I don’t like the idea of you getting taken advantage of by some toxic girl.”

She sat down on her bed, and I sat down beside her. I couldn’t help smiling. “Is this toxic girl Taylor?” I asked.

I wanted her to smile with me, but instead, she just frowned. “I think you know the type at this point,” she admitted quietly. “Quinn, I think we’re more alike than I wanted to admit when I first met you.”

“You have a duty to protect others, but you feel escort as though you get taken advantage of yourself?” I offered. “You hate being walked on, but it’s kind of hard to stop when you’re used to just helping people?”

She looked into my eyes and smiled. “Either you’re really perceptive, you’re psychic, or you did hear some of the stuff we said downstairs, you liar,” she playfully accused.

“If I said I was psychic, would that make you impressed enough to give me a kiss?” I joked.

“This one’s a freebie,” she laughed, leaning in. Gently, I met her lips with mine and gave her a kiss. Despite the pain she was in, she relaxed and melted into the kiss, giving a small appreciative moan as our lips met.

Slowly, we pulled away from each other. “Yeah, I lied,” I admitted. “I thought it would be awkward to tell the truth.”

“I understand,” she told me simply. “She pisses me the fuck off sometimes.”

“And Doug?”

“Complicated,” she answered simply. “I’ll just say that he feels like age always gives you wisdom.”

“I think you’re kind of wise beyond your years,” I admitted.

She gave me a look. “Quinn, come on.”

“No, I’m serious! You have a lot of emotional intelligence,” I told her. “He seems more… bro-y than you.”

“You’ll get on his good side soon, I’m sure.”

“After you threatened him,” I quipped. “Besides, it’s true, I’m not a ten on th-”

“Shut up,” she barked at me. “Just shut up. There’s no such thing as objective looks. It’s not impossible for me to find you attractive. It’s not impossible for you to be attractive. You’re fucking attractive, Quinn. There’s no number on the looks chart. It’s not even a thing. I just look at you, and I think, ‘wow, it’s Quinn. I want to date him. I want to kiss him.’ Is that so unbelievable?”

“See? Emotional intelligence,” I insisted.

“Admit I find you attractive,” she ordered, quickly adding, “Physically. Don’t weasel out.”

“Do I get to admit I’m not conventionally attractive when I say it?”

“Only if I get to point out that ‘conventional’ doesn’t mean a fucking thing.”

“Morgan, despite not being conventionally attractive to many, you find me attractive. You find me physically attractive.”

“Quinn, ‘conventional’ doesn’t mean a fucking thing.” We shared a giggle. “There are people, lots of people, that would never find Taylor attractive. There are lots of people that wouldn’t find me attractive.”

“Well, they’re not here. I am,” I told her, moving in close to her face.

She smiled slightly. “Hot.”

I kissed her gently, then looked into her eyes. “Morgan,” I began. “You’re such a kind and giving person. I want to give back to you. What can I do that would make you happy?”

Her eyes got misty, and she didn’t say anything for a bit. “I… really liked hearing that. Even just hearing that,” she shakily said.

I smiled at her. We were more alike than I had realized. Realizing I had already talked the talk at this point, I internally grimaced at the realization that I had to take initiative again, although I’d gladly do it for her. “Lay down,” I gently said.

She gave me a curious look. “What for?”

“It won’t be as romantic if I tell you what I plan on doing.”

She looked nervous. “I’m kind of an overthinker. Is what you’re going to do-”

“We’re not going all the way,” I chuckled. “And I’m going to remain clothed.”

She smiled and blushed, looking away. I read her mind. I turned her head back to me and gave her another gentle kiss, before pushing her on both of her shoulders, letting her flop on top of the bed. Trying to be as graceful as possible, I climbed on top of her, kissing her lips over and over, slowly going down to her neck.

She closed her eyes and sighed when she felt my first kiss on her neck. I went from polite chaste kisses to passionate open-mouth kisses, until we got to the point where I was definitely going to leave marks.

It was clear that Morgan’s neck was a sensitive spot. She kept moving around as I kissed her neck, to such an extent that I began to worry if I was hurting her or something. And yet, every time I tried pulling up from her neck to check up on her, her hand would find the back of my head and pull me back down. Clearly I was doing something right. Armed with this information, I pressed on, kissing and biting her neck, feeling her body flush and practically grow hotter with her passion.

As I kept kissing and biting her, my hands once again found their way over her shirt, then under. I decided not to grab anything or be too sudden with my movements – it was easy to forget, but she was probably hurting right now, with her hangover and all. I made slow sweeping motions up and down her body, paying attention to when she’d react and which areas my fingertips were grazing when she reacted. Apart from one area where she was clearly just ticklish, I had tried to commit to memory the areas she particularly seemed to like and ‘mapped’ her out. Once I did, I retreated my head, moving it down to her torso, lifting her shirt. Morgan’s cream-colored torso greeted my eyes, along with a bra that looked too tight on her body. I wondered if today was the day I was going to truly let her body breathe.

I smiled and looked into Morgan’s eyes. I was still as nervous as always, but it was fun to try and keep up some confidence around her. I wanted to be confident for her. “You’re really sexy,” I said in a low voice.

She smiled back. “What are you going to do…?”

In answer, I lowered my head to her stomach, kissing around the areas where I saw her react before. While she wasn’t reacting as strongly as she did when I kissed her neck, Morgan was still sighing happily and enjoying the attention on her. Her boyfriend was showing her how much he appreciated her body. Every inch of skin was being appreciated. I could feel her hips start to move, and her pelvis start to grind the air.

Boldly, my one hand moved down to cup her pelvis. I didn’t move in and start roughly manhandling her, I just kept my hand over her, perhaps massaging her with the slowest motions possible. As soon as she felt me make contact, her head went up and she looked right at me, her mouth in an ‘O’ shape of shock. It was interesting – she was both inviting me, and yet completely floored whenever I went for it. She didn’t look uncomfortable, but she did have her eyebrows together. It was like fear, but… clearly eager. It was sexy. It was like I was claiming her, and she was all too eager for me to take her.

I felt my smile broaden as my eyes never left hers and my hand began to rub her pussy over her pants in a more pronounced way. The heat instantly went to her cheeks, and she hung her head back, reaching for a pillow and pulling out over her face. She moaned into the pillow – I’ll never forget the sound of her moan. It was guttural, eager, hungry. The moan of a girl in heat. The moan of a girl who needed to appear proper and motherly to her friends in public, but deep down, really loved being a good little girl in the bedroom.

“Pants or bra,” I heard myself growl.

She slowly lifted the pillow off of her face, looking at me. “What?”

I was too human and shrank back a bit at her asking me to repeat myself. “Uh, I said… pants or bra. Remove one… if you want.”

She lowered an eyebrow and smiled slightly. “Say that again with the confidence you had the first time.”

I chuckled and cleared my throat. “Be a good girl,” I told her. “Pants or bra. Remove one.”

Her smile got bigger, and her smile wasn’t the only thing in the room doing that. “Yes, sir.” I throbbed hearing that. I got off of her and she sat up, winking at me. “I saw you’ve been staring at my breasts before,” she began, putting on this sensual voice for me. “I want to see just how much you appreciate them when given the chance.”

“I would lo-”

She held up a finger. “Nope, no words,” she playfully told me. She pulled off her shirt fully then reached behind herself, unclasping her bra. Teasingly, she held the cups on her breasts with one hand as she moved the straps off her shoulders, moving her chest in a circular motion, teasing me. With the other hand, she beckoned me forward.

I dumbly walked ahead, giving her a look that made her giggle. “Are you falling for me, Quinn?” she teased.

“God, I fucking hope so,” I answered. “You’re perfect.”

She lowered an eyebrow and smiled cockily at me. “Shut up and kiss me,” she said, her voice full of lust. She grabbed me by the shirt and pulled me with her free hand into a passionate, almost desperate kiss, with me eagerly kissing her back with just as much passion. Her arms snaked around my back, pulling me in closer, and my hands pulled her into me with just as much passion, going up the smooth skin of her back, eventually landing on the back of her neck, giving it a gentle squeeze. She moaned into my mouth at the sensations.

As we parted from our kiss, I realized the significance of her hands being around my back: she wasn’t holding up her bra anymore. I couldn’t help but overtly stare at the second pair of breasts I had even seen in my life. She was perfect. Kevin was right, her breasts were huge, almost deceptively so; I was happy I hadn’t noticed up until now, because it would have been a major distraction. I think seeing Morgan’s boobs for the first time really solidified for me how much I liked boobs, but only if they were Morgan’s. They were perfect. She was perfect.

I wasn’t slow or delicate like I was before. I was on her within seconds. I was licking, sucking, kissing, and doing everything I could to make her moan for me. I wanted to spend hours on those beautiful tits of hers.

I was so fast, she giggled and stroked the back of my head. “Easy, easy,” she gently told me. “It feels the best for me if you’re… delicate to start.”

I felt my cheeks warm. I even had lessons from Taylor at my disposal, and still I rushed in and looked like an amateur. It was embarrassing, but I could also understand it: the need was too strong to pretend to want to go slow.

“I’m sorry,” I confessed. “I just want you so badly… I rushed it.”

She looked at me, confused. “There’s no need to apologize, Quinn,” she quietly told me, a smile on her face. I went back to her breast, being more careful this time, giving her all the oral attention I could muster. I felt her nipple getting hard with every lick and suck I gave her. I couldn’t tell what she tasted like, but whatever it was, I liked it, and I wanted more.

“You’re so sweet, Quinn…” she moaned as I pleasured her. “I hope… we keep doing this… I need to invite you over more… I need to please you…”

Just getting to play with her nipples was more than enough for me. Getting to feel her nipples harden, her breathing quicken, and her skin getting hotter with each passing minute was enough to keep me hard and throbbing.

I wasn’t sure how long we kept it up, but it was a good thing we were relatively quiet, because after a long and happy while pleasing her, we heard a knock at the door. I felt Morgan’s body instantly stiffen, and I raised my head, looking urgently at her.

She looked back at me and made a motion with her hands indicating for me to keep quiet, then waited.

Unfortunately, the knocker persisted, then spoke. “Hey Morgan, Taylor already left, and I’m going in half an hour. There won’t be anyone here to drive Quinn in a bit, if that’s still an issue. I’ll be downstairs.”

Morgan waited until she heard footsteps fading away, then she collapsed back onto the bed. “Shit,” she complained in a disgusted tone.

“We should probably pick this up another time, shouldn’t we?” I asked.

Morgan got back up and looked at me with a determined face. “If we had any other option, I’d take it,” she whined. “For now…” She pulled me in and gave me a passionate kiss, which slowly but surely transitioned to me on top of her, both of us slowly grinding against each other, with her topless all the while.

Eventually, we came up for air, and I saw that same lusty eyes-glossed-over look from the theater. “We’d better hang out real soon,” she complained.

I smiled and got off of her, letting her grab her bra. “I guess I’m free for the summer, as long as my parents…” I trailed off. Mother was going to have my head on a platter, wasn’t she? It was easy to brush the consequences to the side when it was last night and facing her seemed so far away, but now… I was going to get driven back to her, very soon.

Morgan used the silence I created and filled it. “Actually, there’s a party coming up in a few days, a kind of ‘fuck school, summer’s here’ party. I was already going but I bet I could get you invited. Would you like to be my plus one?”

I chuckled nervously. “I don’t know if I’ll even be able to go to anything this summer if my parents don’t let me,” I honestly admitted. “Mother is probably going to be really angry at me for today as it is.”

She put on her shirt and gave me a quizzical look. “Didn’t you literally just say the opposite?” she asked. “If you don’t want to go, you can be honest with me…”

“I just thought about my Mother now, and how she’s going to react to what I just did,” I explained. “She’s going to tell me to stay home.”

“Just tell her no, Quinn. You’re an adult.”

“It’s not that simple. Please just trust me that I’ll do everything I can, but I can’t promise anything.”

She walked over to me and shook her head. “If I don’t get to see you all fucking summer…” She trailed off and gave me a passionate kiss. “…and the last time I saw you, you got me this wet…” Another kiss. “…I’ll never forgive you.”

“So no pressure,” I joked.

“I want you to know exactly what you’re fighting for,” she joked back, before giving me one last kiss.

***

I breathed heavily, looking at our apartment’s front door. This wasn’t going to be fun. Steeling myself, I walked in, seeing Kevin cleaning the countertops. When he saw me, he broke into a small smile.

“Hey Quinn!” he declared in an overly loud voice. “Welcome back!”

I stared daggers at him as Mother came into the kitchen from the other room. She walked right in front of me and folded her arms.

“You can leave, Kevin.”

Mandarin. Awesome. This was going to be great. Kevin really liked to play both sides of the whole “good guy that just wants to help his brother” shtick, especially since he was clearly disappointed when he walked away – no doubt wanting to see whatever showdown would occur.

Well, I wouldn’t let that happen without as much damage control as possible. I cleared my throat. “I didn’t know that Morgan would want to see me as long as she did, and by the time I realized what was going on, both she and Taylor had drank enough that they shouldn’t have driven.” It was at that moment that I realized I totally could have asked Doug, but like hell was I going to point that out now. “That doesn’t excuse my lack of preparation, and for that, I’m sorry.” I lowered my head, understanding the disrespect I’d shown her.

After she didn’t say anything for a while, I slowly raised my head. Mother had the same unchanging expression on my face. Upset, but… it was hard to tell if she was angry, sad, or both. “Quinn,” she said in an uncharacteristically quiet voice. “You keep telling me that you are going to do one thing, then I keep finding out later on that you do another. Do you not trust me?”

I sighed. “Mother, sometimes these things surprise me as much as they surprise you. I keep finding myself doing new and weird things.”

“Staying out and sleeping over at someone’s house is something you’ve never done before,” she observed.

“That’s what I mean,” I replied, doing my best to sound like I was agreeing with her, not arguing. “I never did it before, and I never had any intention to do it, but by the time I had realized what was happening, it was too late.”

“Let me guess, your girlfriend has already invited you to do something else.” Mother’s gaze was intently on mine.

Cards on the table. “Yes,” I admitted.

“A party or something?”

She was perceptive. “Yes, that’s correct.”

She sighed a long sigh. “You will go,” she simply said.

“Excuse me?” I couldn’t believe it. Mother’s personality practically revolved around her saying the opposite of that.

“Do you think this never happened with Kevin?” Mother asked me. “I know, because I am your Mother, that telling Kevin ‘no’ only meant that when he does it he comes up with some excuse, and you would do the same. I know these things, Quinn, I know, sometimes you don’t tell me the truth.” She was smiling, but with a slightly threatening smile. “Xiètiānxièdì, I had two children so I can see why!”

“Why…?” I had trouble keeping up.

“I can see this could be my fault,” Mother admitted. “I’d rather you and Kevin be honest with me than feel like lying. You two are the only kids I have and I don’t want you and your new girlfriend to suffer because I did love wrong.”

“Mother, you didn’t do love wro-”

“Bìzuǐ! Do not argue with me.” Mother’s tone was firm, yet kind. “You are eighteen now, Quinn. Your Father and I will talk with you more later, but you will live life by your rules. Just as long as you have rules. We do want you to be happy, Quinn.”

I smiled and stepped forward, giving Mother a hug. “Thank you, I appreciate this,” I told her warmly.

“You will thank me by being honest with me and not lying anymore,” Mother told me, clearly convinced I had lied last night or something. “And by doing the dishes.”

I chuckled. “Yes, of course.”

Satisfied, Mother walked away, going back to her room. Eagerly, I whipped out my phone and texted Morgan, letting her know that I could come to the party (and making no small deal of the fact that I dodged the bullet). This clearly wasn’t me getting off scot-free, but I would gladly take it.

***

It was a god damn pool party. Morgan was wise to wait for me to agree to go with her hours before dropping that little bomb on me. Even though I was convinced to bring my trunks, I was determined to keep my shirt on the entire time, thank you and goodbye.

The sun was blazing and I knew nobody there, but there were a few upsides. Number one, this was the first out-of-school event (or any event, come to think of it) where Morgan and I were operating as a visible couple to our peers, and getting that visibility was kind of exciting. Number two, I definitely didn’t have a friend group present, so I was hanging out with Taylor’s friend group, which meant a lot of eye candy. A bit ago that wouldn’t have mattered to me, but after getting acquainted with Taylor and especially Morgan, I could suddenly see what all the fuss was about.

I figured that parties were this event where everyone talked to each other and if someone didn’t know who you were they’d grill you about who you were and why you were there, but to my utter relief, no one outside Taylor’s friend group gave an absolute shit about me. I was happy to just stay by Morgan’s side and make light conversation with her friends and her the whole time.

Unfortunately, that plan didn’t last very long. A few minutes into sitting down, Morgan got up and stretched. “Okay, pool time,” she announced to the group. She took off her sunglasses and looked at me, outstretching a hand. “Are you sure you don’t want to join me?”

I blushed. “I’d rather keep my shirt on, if that’s okay,” I mumbled.

“Prude,” Morgan joked. “I’m sure you look very handsome with your shirt off.”

If Taylor were there I’m sure she would have said some snide comment about me with my shirt off, but since Joel was at the party and hanging out with his buddies, Taylor was glued to him like a lovesick little puppy. Every so often I’d look in their direction, on the other side of the pool, and it was clear it wasn’t an act – she’d be sitting on his lap, or standing next to him with her arms wrapped around his torso, or just looking longingly into his eyes while he talked with his friends. She was clearly smitten.

“Maybe you’ll find out next year,” I joked back. Morgan grinned and stuck her tongue out at me childishly before heading off to the pool area, leaving me with Lexi, Crystal, and Milo.

Not that they even noticed me there. “Okay, Jake,” Crystal declared to Lexi.

“Nope, fuck that. He had one chance with me and he fucking blew it.”

“Eric,” Milo contributed.

“Ew! Green eyes? Next.”

“Jackson?” Crystal replied, her voice hinting that she was giving up hope.

“Okay, you know what?” Lexi replied immediately. “I will admit, now that he’s come out of his shell, he’s way hotter than I thought he was…”

“Yeah, you called him ‘ugly’ like last month,” Milo interrupted.

“Shut up – but, he’s still like ‘older brother’ cute, you know?”

“Ummm…” Crystal surveyed the crowd. “Quinn. Pick a guy.”

“Huh?” I snapped to attention.

“Pick a guy for Lexi to say no to,” Milo quipped.

“Fuck off,” Lexi replied. “Quinn doesn’t even know anybody’s name, why are we asking him?”

Crystal shrugged. “Maybe that’s, like, even better,” she reasoned. “No bias. We’ll just ask him to point out the best-looking guy here.”

Crystal’s reasoning seemed to work; all three pairs of eyes found their way back to me. “Um, okay,” I replied, shrugging and chuckling in slight discomfort. I surveyed the crowd and found a tall boy with really emotive eyebrows and figured, girls probably like guys where you can tell what they’re feeling. “How about him?”

“Um, pick another one, Quinn,” Milo mumbled.

“Why? You asked me t-”

“Because that’s Mitchell.” Milo gestured towards Crystal. “Remember the nudes thing?”

“Oh. Oh my god, I’m sorry,” I blabbered.

“Don’t be,” Crystal waved me off, shooting a look towards Milo. “I’m not a baby. It was my dumbass mistake.”

“If your ‘dumbass mistake’ was trusting a boy, why are we trying to find more if they’re all going to act like that?” I asked.

“A-fucking-men,” Lexi agreed.

“Yeah, agree with him, you slut. You still wanna get dicked down before the end of the party,” Crystal argued.

“I know, it sucks.” Lexi pouted. “Why can’t women have dicks? That would make everything so much easier.”

“Some do,” Milo pointed out.

“Oh, shut up,” Lexi dismissed Milo.

“Thomas?” Crystal asked.

Lexi snorted. “Fuckin’ Thomas? I’d rather fuck Quinn.”

“You wish,” I mumbled annoyedly.

The gang looked at me, surprised that I of all people came back with that. “Hey, look at that. Welcome to the group, Quinn,” Crystal replied, slapping me on the leg. Lexi didn’t say anything, but just stared at me, less than amused.

No one said anything for a bit, until Lexi stood up. “Fuck it. I’m going for a swim. Let’s go, Crystal.” Crystal, all too eager, let Lexi pull her up, and the two were off, clearly leaving their dream of getting Lexi’s booty call behind.

“Looks like we’re in the same boat, Quinn,” Milo dryly noted.

I nodded for a bit, before realizing I didn’t get it. “Wait, how so?”

“We both can’t go swimming without taking our shirts off.”

I stared at him. “Why can’t you…?”

He rolled his eyes and gestured towards his chest. “Because I still have boobs, genius.”

“Oh,” I awkwardly replied. “S-sorry.”

Neither of us said anything for a bit. We just took in the sounds of the party with me occasionally waving to Morgan and Milo occasionally taking sips out of his lemonade can. Eventually, he cut the silence. “Can I make things more tense between us?”

I looked at him weirdly. “Oh, please do,” I sarcastically replied.

“Why haven’t you cut Taylor off yet?”

The question caught me by surprise. I felt like sinking into my chair. “Is this really the best place to have a conversation like this?”

“Yes,” he flatly said. “It’s better to have a talk about this in public than in a private place. Less people are listening.”

Popular people had the weirdest logic on the planet. Public stuff was more private. Pick your theater seats based on sound. That said, I was willing to play his game. I sighed and let my tongue roll around in my mouth, thinking about my answer.

“It’s complicated,” I began. “You may have noticed I’m bad at… asserting myself. Even when I want something. Especially when you know as well as I do that Taylor has a habit of not taking no for an answer, and espe – wait, how much do you know?”

“Everything,” he coolly replied.

I stared at him in exasperation for a bit. “Okay,” I weakly conceded. “So yeah, especially when she doesn’t take no for an answer, and especially especially when Morgan is completely okay with it.”

Milo took another sip of his lemonade and looked me dead in the face. “And how okay is Joel with it?”

I frowned and looked away, but kept up my sense of humor. “Joel is right over there, go ahead and ask him, have a ball.”

“I see him. Right there, near the barbecue, his girlfriend latching on to him like he supplies her oxygen,” Milo replied.

“The same girlfriend that orchestrated this, and lied to me and him about it,” I argued. “Milo, I’m a third party to this. You know what I think? I think you’re only going after me because you know you can’t do a thing to convince Taylor to change or even make her feel bad about this, so you’re just guilt-tripping me instead. If you know everything, you know how complicated it is, and you know how I didn’t ask for, or cause, any of this.”

“It doesn’t make your compliance any less bad,” Milo argued back.

“Yeah, well… what can I even do at this point? I’m as bad at changing Taylor’s mind as you are. If she pressures me, and I can’t do anything to stop it…”

“Pressures?” Milo repeated.

“Poor choice of words. She isn’t forcing me against my will, but-”

“Then you have willpower. If you have any say at all, use it. Make it all stop. It’s that easy, Quinn.”

“It’s not that easy and you know that,” I replied, finding my power voice.

It came out a bit louder than I wanted, so to prevent further eyes on us, Milo shrugged and went back to his drink. I followed suit, awkwardly looking at ‘that thing over there.’

Eventually he spoke again. “I’m not getting anywhere by pussyfooting around, so listen good. You put your foot down, or Joel finds out.”

“And how’s he going to find out?”

“I’ll tell him.” Milo’s tone was even.

Adrenaline rushed through me. Fear adrenaline, like he already told him. “And who will that help?”

“It’s the right thing,” he simply replied.

“I don’t think it is,” I said flatly.

“I don’t care,” he replied.

I sighed. “How long do I have?”

“Just go and tell hi-”

“Yeah, Milo, if that’s your plan, you’re not taking into account that I maybe got fucking comfortable talking to people like a month ago. Give me a damn deadline that’s not ten seconds.”

“Alright, alright, jeez,” he replied. “Twenty-four hours.”

“So this is the way it is?” I asked.

“It’s the way it has to be,” Milo reasoned.

***

God answers all prayers, and on this blessed day he gave unto Lexi some blond boy. I watched the two of them disappear up the stairs and gestured towards her. “She was looking for some guy to have sex with all night,” I whispered to Morgan.

Morgan didn’t bother to whisper back. “Welcome to Lexi,” she replied, taking a sip from her Palm Bay afterwards. “If it has to do with sex, she’s interested, either to get some or to hear all about it.”

The sun was setting, so those of us who were left moved inside. It wasn’t as crowded as the pool party was, but there were still a good twenty-to-thirty people there, and a few of them had broken off to do stuff in other rooms. Three guesses what.

I watched Morgan take another sip. “I thought you said you didn’t drink that often,” I observed.

She donned a completely serious face. “Is it making you uncomfortable?”

“Oh, no, god no, sorry,” I apologized. “I was just noticing. If you’re more comfy with it now, go ahead. It doesn’t bother me at all. I’m… yeah. I’m sorry.”

Morgan’s serious look melted into a smirk as she watched me turn pink and blabber. “C’mere,” she purred, bringing me into a kiss that, given we were surrounded by people, lasted way longer than I thought it would.

A lot of the guys in the crowd started whooping and hollering to embarrass us, which caused my eyes to open mid-kiss. I saw Morgan was flipping them off, not missing a beat as she kissed me. As soon as the kiss was over, she diverted her attention to the crowd. “Jealous?” she taunted.

I could only chuckle nervously, looking around. This was still new territory, even if I didn’t talk to anyone I didn’t already know at this party. I looked around to see Taylor and Joel walking off towards another room, and shivered as I thought of Milo’s words.

“Did I make you uncomfortable?” Morgan asked, looking at me.

“Huh?” I whipped my head around to face her. “Oh. No. Um, I…” I looked around us. “Something happened, but I can’t just say it in a crowd like this.”

She nodded. “Let’s go to the kitchen.”

She pulled me up by my hand and off we went. The kitchen was… was the term ‘open concept?’ It wasn’t a lot more private than the living room we were just in, since we could clearly see it from the kitchen, but if we kept our voices low it would do, since no one else was there.

Morgan started pouring herself a glass of water. “Water’s on, go ahead and talk,” she whispered.

I nodded. “Earlier, I was talking to Milo. He’s fed up with what he thinks he knows. He doesn’t like what you, Taylor, and I are doing. He threatened to tell Joel if we don’t tell him.”

The water started overflowing from the cup. “…What?!” Morgan blurted, giving me a sharp look.

I gave her a nervous nod. She grunted. “Why the fuck does he always have to…” She swiped her cup from the sink, and started looking for Milo. I shut off the water and followed her.

She walked with purpose, so I didn’t catch up to her before she found Milo. “Yo. I need a sec with you,” Morgan informed him, breaking up his conversation with some girl. He seemed pretty rattled that Morgan would interrupt like that, but accepted the situation and walked off with her.

“Someone stole your girl,” some beefy guy built like a tank teased me.

“She’ll be back,” I replied, thinking I was stating a fact, but the tank guy just politely laughed like I made a quip.

“How’d you snag that one, anyway?” he pressed on. “Ben’s been trying like all year, and the best he did was finger her after a game. And she never called him back after that.”

“Fuck off,” some other guy who had a body like Crash Bandicoot sneered from behind him.

I was too busy trying to get that visual out of my head to respond for the next few seconds. “Um, I wouldn’t say I snagged her,” I replied. “We just happened to develop feelings for each other, I guess.”

Tank guy just stared at me for a few seconds, then rolled his eyes and went back to his group. I guess somehow I said something wrong. Even though I was practically dead center in the room, crowds formed around me. It was sweet of Morgan to invite me here, but it was painfully clear how unlike the others I was. If only I had Kevin’s schmoozing ability, I may have at least talked to a few people and got the ball rolling or something.

After a few minutes, Morgan re-emerged, though Milo wasn’t in sight. She was clearly pissed. Upon seeing someone I could actually talk to, I briskly walked up to her.

“Hey,” I began. “What did he say?”

“He said he’s a fucking asshole,” Morgan grumpily replied, uncharacteristically mad. Even in a crisis she usually had a calm demeanor to her; this was the first time I saw her this upset. “I need another drink. And we’re going soon.”

“Is there anything I need to kn-”

“Quinn, if you could not, I’d really appreciate that,” she told me, only bothering to stop walking as she spoke to me, continuing to walk away after. Did I do something wrong? Was she mad at Milo, or at me?

Or both…?

***

Morgan didn’t calm down until she got home. I felt a responsibility as her boyfriend to be there and help her calm down, though I let her (and Doug, since he asked) know that I unquestionably had to be home tonight. Even with Mother’s speech, I didn’t want to bite the hand that fed me.

Luckily, with Morgan, myself, and teenage hormones, calming someone down is easy. It just meant a prolonged session of making out. Even so, it was clear that Morgan was wound tight.

“Y’know, we could have just had a nice fucking time,” she complained as I kept kissing her neck. “I don’t even just mean at the party. We were stopping, so I don’t get what it even helps to threaten to tell him now.”

I stopped kissing. “Well, Milo was threatening to tell Joel because he doesn’t think we’re actually stopping,” I pointed out.

“Don’t make me pissed at the guy that’s kissing my neck,” Morgan half-joked, half-threatened. “We’ll have to stop and then no one will be kissing my neck.”

I cracked a smile. “What a tragedy.”

“Right?” Morgan’s smile copied my own. “Milo just likes to control stuff. He gets so sure that his version of events is, like, what is definitely going on, and he doesn’t like to sit back and wait for shit to get real.”

“Can I ask what happened in your conversation that made you so upset?” I asked.

She rolled her eyes. “He gave me the same ultimatum. He told me to tell Joel or he would.” She looked to the ground and shook her head. “I don’t get it. I was here when Taylor tried to… you know. Do that thing with you. I saw how you reacted.”

My cheeks burned crimson.

“That was clear as day. It’s as good as done. I…” She stopped mid-sentence, and looked at me. “Wait, no. I’m dumb. You’re right here. I’m presuming a lot of things about you while you’re right here. I need to leave this up to you.” She looked at me expectantly.

“That was a lot,” I mumbled.

“Yeah, sorry,” she conceded.

“I… do want to cut things off with Taylor,” I admitted. “But I need to be aware of myself. I’m bad at telling her no when she wants me. You saw us when you were there, but when she and I are alone…” I stopped, realizing I was about to tell my girlfriend how attractive her friend was.

“She’s persuasive, and clearly hot. Tears are out, Quinn, remember?” she reminded me.

It was still weird, but okay. “Right,” I conceded. “Well, yeah, that’s it. Every time I’m alone, or with you, or even all three of us are together, it’s easy to tell her no, or it seems easy, at least. But when she and I are alone… she kind of corners me.”

Morgan sighed. “Yeah, that sounds like Taylor,” she admitted.

“And it’s definitely naive to just say, ‘oh, well then, I’ll just never hang out with just Taylor again.’ That will definitely happen at least once more.”

“If you don’t want it to, it doesn’t have to,” Morgan simply said. “Remember, we’re really close. I can make sure I’m always there when you’re hanging out with Taylor if you need a lifeline.”

I smiled at her. “I thought you said the tears were out.”

“Well, number one, it’s clearly a you thing at this point. If you don’t want to do anything with her, but can’t resist her, it sounds like I’m doing you a favor,” she reasoned. “Number two, it’s becoming too complicated. I’m allowed to change my mind. Number three, uh, please don’t use my own ‘tears are out’ thing as a gotcha. It doesn’t feel good.”

“Okay, sorry,” I admitted, and leaned forward and kissed her.

“I can offer you this lifeline, but at the end of the day, this is a choice you’re going to have to make for yourself,” she softly added.

“I know,” I admitted. “I’m going to make an effort. It’s just so complicated with the Milo telling Joel thing.”

“I’ll handle that part,” Morgan confidently added. “I can probably get him to back down, especially since this stuff sounds like it’s over anyways. Milo is just trying to invent drama. He won’t go through with it, I’ll make sure of it. I have around eighteen hours after all.” We shared a laugh. “Once he sees he’s making things worse if he does it, not better, he’ll stop. I know how Milo works.”

“Okay, I trust you,” I replied.

“So, what’s the plan?” she asked. “For the night.”

“It’s up to Doug more than anything, but I can stay for a little while longer,” I admitted. “I should get back tonight, but… maybe we can finish what we started last time I was here?”

Morgan smiled a little devilish smile. “And how were you planning to do that?”

I shrugged meekly. “If you wanted to take things to the next level, I would enjoy… y’know…”

“I don’t know, Quinn,” Morgan replied, keeping up her smile.

I sighed. “Isn’t it less sexy if I tell you beforehand?”

“Mm-mmm, sometimes it’s more sexy,” Morgan disagreed, shaking her head, still smiling..

“W-well, if you wanted to… if you were comfortable taking our relationship to the next level… I’d feel comfo- I’d enjoy… oral… on you?”

Morgan’s smile got bigger as she watched me struggle through my sentence. At the end, she pulled me into another kiss, clearly liking what she heard. I kissed back, shyly at first, but finding my passion and power quickly after. Before long, I was the one grinding against her as we made out on her bed, listening to Morgan’s little moans and feeling her little squirms as we got more and more into it.

At some point, the both of us knew the time was right. I wanted to make her feel good, and she was all too happy, especially after the stressful day, to receive.

As I got off of her, she blushed. “Is it okay if I keep my shirt on?” she asked.

“Um, of course,” I replied. “Why wouldn’t it be?”

“I know guys like my breasts, but sometimes I just… get weird about it.”

I half-chuckled. “Then absolutely, keep your shirt on. I’m about to pleasure you. The last thing I’d want is for you to feel uncomfortable,” I said as if it were obvious.

“Quinn, you don’t know how many guys would be upset at what I just said, believe me,” she replied.

“It sounds like they didn’t respect you very much,” I countered.

“It sounds like you’ve once again discovered why I chose you,” she teased.

I blushed and smiled. She smiled back as she hopped off the bed and blushed herself, sliding her pants down her legs.

If I thought seeing my girlfriend’s boobs for the first time was a great experience, seeing her pussy was magical. Enchanting. I suddenly couldn’t wait to be inside her. Everything, from her slightly puffy lips to her visible wetness to her cute little patch of pubic hair decorating her vagina looked perfect. She shyly stood before me, modeling what I was about to eat.

“You’re so beautiful…” I murmured.

She bashfully smiled, and got back on the bed, spreading her legs. “Thanks, Quinn,” she quietly said.

No more words were exchanged. They didn’t need to be. I approached her, taking in everything about her. Her beauty, her scent, her… vulnerability. I didn’t know if it was wrong of me to think this, but something about seeing the confident Morgan, blushing and open and willing to be taken advantage of… it was really sexy.

Remembering what I had been taught before, I went slow. My tongue explored my girlfriend, exploring and licking around the sensitive areas, not willing to dive in just yet. Clearly, Morgan was eager, judging by the way she was already squirming and whimpering. Gently, teasingly, my licks transitioned into kisses. I started kissing along her folds, finding and kissing her lips, then her clit. Each kiss was incredibly gentle, and yet, each time I made contact, I felt her thighs tense up.

Her thighs were so beautiful, toned yet soft. All of her was beautiful. I loved seeing her little clit, beautifully woven into the top of her little slit. I loved the little jumps she made whenever I made contact. I loved the way she deeply moaned and ground her hips into my face the first time I lapped at her slit. Taking this as a sign, I made lapping at her slit my default action, listening to her cooing and whimpering as I did so.

I experimented with using the muscles in my tongue, sometimes making it longer and thinner, sometimes trying to make it wide and flat, just lazily licking up her slit. Morgan seemed to prefer the wide flat tongued approach, and appreciated my efforts. Before long I had gotten into a good groove – licking up her slit, relaxing my tongue and making it flat and wide, occasionally making the lick longer so it could brush up against her clit.

I could feel her shiver whenever my tongue made contact with her clit. Her little moans and outbursts were helping reinforce the notion of how much she was enjoying it.

“Oh yes, Quinn, just like that, you’re so good, oh my god, don’t stop, please don’t stop…” she begged in a high voice. I certainly wasn’t planning to. I kept going, grabbing her hips, enjoying the look on her face whenever I got an opportunity to look up. Her skin was getting hotter again, and she was unable to keep still. Her passion for me was driving her wild. I couldn’t wait to actually fuck her.

I was also grateful she preferred my lapping at her slit instead of the more complicated procedures Taylor preferred, since this meant my tongue wasn’t cramping. I had no idea how long she lasted, but it was pretty damn evident when she was close to the edge. Her moans got loud – a little dangerously loud if she didn’t want her parents to know what we were up to – and she was grabbing bunches of her bedsheets and immediately letting go, her arms practically in a blur, her hips grinding into my face, eagerly pushing my tongue against her slit.

And yet, my motions were still gentle. She was the tide pushing into the beach and I was the gentle shore, just lapping and kissing away, occasionally giving her a surprise with a slightly stronger lick that landed on her clit.

“F-finger me too…” she begged. “Please, fuck, please, Quinn. Finger me. One finger will do, don’t m-make it too fast…”

I listened intently, and did exactly as she instructed, inserting a finger slowly into her and pumping away as my tongue continued its work on the north end of her slit. When her orgasm came, I could practically feel it rippling through her. It started right where my tongue met her clit, and spread out like a pulse of pure energy, warming and tingling the rest of her body, setting off a chain of fireworks across her whole self.

It was beautiful. The look of pure bliss on Morgan’s face was an absolute delight. She was, luckily given the loudness of her moans, a silent orgasmer, and the way her face looked when she came, she could have visited Heaven for all I knew. Her eyes were closed, her mouth stuck in an ‘O’ shape, her hips moving on their own to milk every drop of pleasure out of the experience, until finally, she came back to Earth. Her body sank down into the mattress, her mouth eventually closed, and her eyes fluttered open.

I gently removed my mouth from her pussy and wiped my face. My handiwork looked back at me – her pussy was soaking wet, some of her pubic hair was matted with her juices and my saliva, and I could practically see her lips throbbing and pulsing.

I smiled at her, and laid beside her. She smiled back, weakly, and took another thirty seconds to fully recover before she kissed me passionately.

She immediately pulled back from the kiss with a look on her face. She smacked her lips a few times. “…Huh,” she replied. “…Okay, not as bad as I thought.”

“Hey, I liked it, but maybe I’m biased,” I joked.

She grinned and kissed me again, this time moving past the initial taste, and we enjoyed each other in her post-orgasmic bliss.

“You’d better be ready for the blowjob of your life,” Morgan panted after our lips parted, giving me an almost manic smile. “Because holy shit, you earned it.”

I smiled back, hesitating when I felt my pocket vibrate. It vibrated a few times while I was eating Morgan out, but obviously, a guy that pauses eating his girlfriend out to answer a text message doesn’t have a girlfriend for very long. Now that we were transitioning, I was willing to take a look at what I had missed on my phone.

Four missed calls, seven text messages. All from Taylor. I didn’t know whether to smirk or grimace. “Taylor,” I simply told Morgan, showing her the history. “Like I said, really hard to say no to.”

She chuckled slightly. “Hurry up and answer her,” she replied. “I’m sure you would gladly say no to her for this.”

I chuckled back, opening up my text messages. As I read them, my smile swiftly disappeared, quickly replaced by a look of worry, then outright fear. I felt the color drain from my face.

Morgan caught on immediately. “What is it?” she asked, most of the humor gone from her voice too.

I scanned the messages one final time to confirm to myself, then looked at Morgan with urgency. “Milo didn’t wait. He’s told Joel everything.”

Chapter Thirteen

Whatever Morgan and I had planned to do that night, it was thrown away. Swiftly, it was replaced with the both of us gathered around Morgan’s phone, FaceTiming with a blubbering, panicked Taylor.

“I don’t know what he’s going to do,” Taylor cried over the phone. “I’m such a fucking wreck.”

“We’ll get through this. Being as calm as you can will help you so much,” Morgan instructed in her stern tone she took when she was taking control. “Take deep breaths.”

Taylor nodded, her jittery face coming through our video feed. “This is so fucked. Why the fuck did Milo have to do this?”

Morgan and I exchanged looks. Morgan turned back to the phone and sighed. “Earlier at the party, he gave us an ultimatum,” she began. “He told us to tell Joel ourselves or he would. He gave us twenty-four hours.”

“So… so it was your fault?!” Taylor’s voice gathered heat.

“Stop that right now,” Morgan ordered with a flat voice. “Don’t piss off your only allies. He went back on his word and told Joel within eight hours.”

“Don’t fucking talk down to me!” Taylor rasped from the other end. “You should have told me immediately!”

Morgan turned to me. “Grab my pointer finger if she ever gets too much. I’ll hang up on her,” she dryly and emotionlessly whispered to me. She turned back to the phone and cleared her throat. “You were always at his side at the party. We never had the chance. We would have told you when we had a plan. Remember Milo caused this shit, not us.”

“Can I ask… why Milo caused this shit?” I interrupted. “Like, yeah, there are shades of gray happening here, but what we did really doesn’t affect Milo.”

Taylor sobbed for a bit but Morgan remained silent, letting Taylor speak. “Milo just fucking does this,” she exasperatedly replied. “Do you need an explanation for every little thing, Quinn?”

“This time, yes, I’d like one. We’re in the weeds because… what? He wanted to play vigilante?”

“Honestly, that’s basically it,” Morgan answered. “Milo just likes getting involved. He always wants to be the main character. He gets to decide what’s right and wrong.”

“I don’t get why a person would do that when it doesn’t affect them,” I replied.

“Then, sorry, you don’t understand drama yet,” Morgan flatly replied. “So maybe you should take notes. People do this. He implicates his friends, he feels superior, he also gets ahead because his friends got taken down a peg. It’s not that hard to understand, and you’re slowing us down by asking why.”

I looked at Morgan, a little hurt. She sighed and said, “This is a stressful time. I need you to just nod when stuff happens. Asking why and trying to pretend it shouldn’t have happened doesn’t help.”

I looked to the screen to see Taylor wasn’t saying anything, agreeing with Morgan through her use of silence. Frowning, I sat back as Morgan continued.

“What has Joel said to you?”

“He hasn’t said anything,” Taylor replied. “Like, nothing. Milo just let me know that he talked to him. I’m too fucking scared to say anything to Joel right now.”

Morgan sighed stressedly. “Okay,” she conceded.

“I’m thinking, like, I shouldn’t say anything until Joel talks to me. I do not want to bring it up first. Maybe he’ll just want this whole thing to go away.”

“I agree,” Morgan replied emotionlessly. “I don’t think it’ll just go away though. It never just goes away. So, Milo told you? How’d that go down?”

“If I could punch him in his stupid fucking face, I would,” Taylor growled.

“I know the feeling,” Morgan replied. “We can’t let him think he can just get away with this shit. Let Crystal and Lexi know.”

“Okay,” Taylor agreed.

“Just the important stuff,” Morgan insisted. “Anything that will make them get on our side. Leave out the dumb shit, lie if you have to. Last thing we need is for them to take his side.”

“Um, duh, I fucking know,” Taylor replied with an annoyed tone. “Then what? Wait for Joel to blow up?”

“Wait to see what he does, either to you or in public. Damage control mode, Taylor,” Morgan seemed to remind her, as if that was a phrase they practiced time and time again. I still said nothing. “And no more seducing Quinn. Even if I’m in the room.”

“Um, I didn’t want to have sex with him anymore anyways,” Taylor replied in a weirded out voice.

In response, Morgan just shifted the camera to just show me on screen. I was already in a foul mood, and Taylor’s reply didn’t help. “Oh, go away,” I bitterly told the camera, not sure which girl I was talking to.

“Keep me in the loop, Taylor,” Morgan said in a quiet voice. “I love you but I want to stop talking.”

“Love you too, girl,” Taylor replied. “Thank you so fucking much for having my back on this.”

With that, Morgan turned off the call, headed for the bed, and faceplanted on top of it. Still feeling upset at a few things that happened there, I remained in my corner, scowling away. Neither of us spoke for what felt like minutes.

“You were out of line,” I finally said to her.

She took her face off of her pillow. “You were asking pointless questions and being naive,” she replied. “We didn’t need that.”

“I’m not a child,” I replied.

“Children keep asking ‘why’ over and over. Milo’s a dick, Milo did a dick move, you don’t need to know why.”

“I’d like to!” I protested. “It concerns me. This is literally a rumor or whatever about me.”

“What would it solve knowing every little intricacy?” Morgan challenged me, now sitting on her bed. I was sitting on her floor. She had the high ground. “Like, actually, what would it solve? Are you planning on mapping him out? Figuring out the magic thing to say that’ll make all this go away? You’re so… obsessive, Quinn. You don’t need to be.”

“Obsessive?”

“You keep obsessing over weird things. You obsess over this idea that I can’t possibly like you. You obsess over why a thing happens when the rest of us are trying to figure out where to go from here. You obsess and overthink and it just gets so old so fast,” Morgan complained.

My breathing quickened. “I… well… that’s not fair,” I weakly replied.

“That’s another thing children always say,” Morgan noted.

“Stop! Just stop it!” I almost shouted. “Stop calling me a child!”

Morgan stared at me for a while. “I’m really stressed with all this. I’m probably going to get caught up in this too, you know. Just because I’m dating you. You and Taylor are reaping what you sow. I have to deal with this too when I didn’t actually do anything wrong.”

“You just told Taylor to lie to her friends. You can’t say you’re doing nothing wrong,” I countered.

“To cover up a mistake you two made, I told Taylor to do what she was going to do anyway,” Morgan replied with a huff. “And I’m doing it to help her, and you. It’s so tiring.”

“If I’m not worth it, then break up with me, why don’t you?” I replied angrily, feeling my cheeks getting hot.

“Don’t be dramatic,” Morgan replied calmly. “If this is you breaking up with me, just say that. But I’m not breaking up with you just because you aren’t immune to drama and cheating.”

It felt weird for her to say that. I really wanted to fight her on that last point; it felt like I wasn’t involved in cheating at all and happened to be sucked into that world. But in a weird, unfair way, what Morgan was saying wasn’t untrue. I just stared at her, my chest rising and falling in anger.

“Are you breaking up with me?” Morgan asked.

“No,” I grumbled.

“Good. That would be a really dumb way for this to end,” she replied.

“Do you have to do that?” I asked.

“What?”

“The ‘I know everything and will explain to you how it all works’ thing,” I replied, standing up and walking over to the bed.

She scooted over to give me some room, eyeing the floor. “What are you talking about?” she asked quietly.

“You say these, like, absolute statements. It’s not like you’ll say you think I’m not helping, I’m just ‘not helping.’ You’ll even explain how dumb a certain method of breaking up would be.”

“It was a joke. I was trying to lighten the mood. I’m just not very funny, I guess,” Morgan replied in a defensive voice. “I’ve always talked like this.”

“I’ve always wanted to find out why people do what they do.”

“Yes, but that was exhausting me.”

“Well, the way you talk down to me is exhausting me,” I reasoned.

She huffed. “I’ll try to stop myself if I see myself doing it,” she replied quietly.

I nodded. “I’ll try to save the backstory questions until after we’ve solved stuff.”

She nodded, and we didn’t say anything for a long time. After a bit, Morgan slowly lowered herself onto me, her head ending up on my chest. Neither of us said anything, but eventually, she looked up at me right as I looked down at her. We both chuckled softly, and before we knew it, we were shyly kissing each other.

Our lips parted and our eyes fluttered open. She slowly removed her head from my chest and grabbed her phone, groaning to herself. “This fucking sucks,” she grumbled.

I sighed in response, checking my watch. “I should probably talk to Doug soon,” I told her. “I think we both could do with some alone time anyways.”

“Yeah, probably,” Morgan replied, looking at me and giving me a hesitant smile.

***

“So you two understand our situation?” Morgan asked Crystal and Lexi.

“Maybe if you get me a McChicken, yes,” Lexi joked.

“Lexi, can you focus for one minute?” Morgan all but barked.

“Yeah, yeah, we get it,” Lexi dejectedly mumbled.

“It’s gonna be hard to get the group together after this one,” Crystal whined. “And summer just started! Whatever the fuck happened, it better have been worth it.”

“The best way to beat it is to let Milo know it hasn’t affected us,” Morgan reasoned, looking around the McDonald’s we were in, as if he could be there. “The sooner he sees how little power he has, the sooner he’ll stop his little games.”

Crystal’s eyes lit up with an idea. “We could just go back to calling him Sadie, just for a week, see if-”

“Absolutely not,” Morgan immediately replied. “Crystal, I’m disappointed in you.”

“It was just an idea,” Crystal mumbled, sitting back in her seat.

“Where’s Taylor, anyway?” Lexi asked.

“With Joel,” Morgan clarified. “She’s barely left his side for the past twenty-four hours.”

“Like an obedient puppy,” I mused.

“Whatever works,” Morgan added. “Okay, fuck it, I want more, I’m getting a McDouble. Lexi, w-”

“McChicken!” Lexi reminded her. “You still owe me for last time.”

“I paid that back, but whatever,” Morgan huffed. “And for the cute one?”

Morgan turned to look at me, followed by Crystal and Lexi. I turned to Morgan and smiled. “Didn’t you already ask Lexi?” Morgan and I shared a giggle. “Um, maybe my own McDouble. Thanks, s-sweetheart.”

“Nothing more romantic than getting fat together,” Crystal remarked flatly. Morgan flipped her the bird as she walked off, leaving me with Crystal and Lexi. “Nah, but seriously,” Crystal continued. “You two are really cute together.”

Lexi ignored Crystal and Morgan, and gave me a knowing smirk. She liked it when anyone called her cute. “Thanks, Quinn,” she sang.

“Anytime,” I replied. As annoying as her joking exterior could be, I actually found Lexi surprisingly easy to get along with. She tended to act up in crowds, but if you could engage her in what felt to her like a one-on-one, she actually was a pretty fun person. “So, speaking of, how did you and that blond boy get along at that last party?”

Lexi rolled her big blue eyes. “Sucked,” she answered annoyedly. “He had no idea what he was doing. Went way too fast, way too rough, and was only interested in cumming and going.”

“Coming and going?” I asked.

“C-U-M,” Crystal clarified.

“Oh,” I replied. “Sorry to hear that.”

“So am I,” Lexi grumbled. “Just once I’d like to get a guy that knows how to fuck. Or is at least nice about it. Taylor got Joel, apparently he has one of the biggest dicks in the school.”

I rolled my eyes. Lexi was, if nothing else, Lexi. I sipped away at my unsweetened iced tea as Lexi continued.

“…And Morgan got to have Quinn, who is a fucking gentleman and ate her out even though she never blew him!”

I instantly choked on my tea. It took a good few seconds to clear my throat. Lexi looked a little surprised at my reaction, but Crystal just gave me a ‘here we go’ face. “…What?” I finally asked with a little heat.

“No? Am I wrong?” Lexi asked innocently.

Right on cue, Morgan came back with a tray of food, and I looked up at her. “Who are you telling about our sex life?!” I asked with a little more anger to my voice than intended.

Morgan shot Lexi a look. The normally stubborn Lexi just turned pink and shrunk down in the presence of Morgan. Morgan herself just sighed. “I was tired, I was talking about you, and it slipped out. It was just to Lexi and Crystal. If you want I can try to keep it more private.”

Crystal broke into a smile. “Damn girl, you gave in really easily!” she commented. “Is Quinn some sort of secret super dom or something?”

“Yeah, handcuffs and blindfolds,” I joked as Morgan sat down. “No. We just both know when something upsets the other. I don’t see why a couple talking out things that upset them in a healthy way means she’s whipped or something.”

Crystal rolled her eyes. “Cheesy,” she remarked.

“I dunno,” Lexi softly said, staring longingly at us. Morgan gave me a kiss on the cheek as she handed me my food. “I think it’s kinda sweet. Like, we want a guy that’ll dick us down, but Morgan and Quinn are just vibing as a couple already. No drama.”

Morgan chuckled. “We get our fair share. Remember, Milo’s not here right now for a reason.”

“A reason you won’t even fully tell us,” Crystal added.

Lexi, as usual, was only focusing on her point. “How did you do it?” she asked.

I paused, looking from side to side, realizing that she was asking me. “Huh? How did I do what?”

“Everything. How did you get Morgan, how did you know she was so… like, how did you figure out how to communicate as, like, a couple so quickly?”

I blushed a little and scratched the back of my head. “Honestly, she got me more than I got her,” I confessed. “She came to my work a few times and I-”

“You work? Where?” Lexi asked.

“GameStop. So she came into my work and kept asking about stuff.”

Lexi turned to Morgan and gave her a mischievous grin. “You don’t even like games!”

Morgan simply gave her an all-too-innocent smile in response, then began to eat her food. We all dove in, not saying anything for a bit.

“I just wish I had what you have,” Lexi bitterly mumbled after a bite.

“You’ll get there,” Morgan replied. “Honestly? Maybe you need to slow down. Stop chasing after guys and letting them come to you.”

Lexi scoffed. “Yeah, because guys just fucking love me,” she replied, continuing her bitterness.

“They should!” I decided to weigh in. “I mean, you’re bubbly, you’re not afraid to be yourself, and…” I turned to Morgan. “I assume it’s okay if I compliment her looks?”

Morgan gave me an ‘Oh, Quinn’ smile. “Of course it is,” she replied. “I mean, we’ve discussed stuff like that already.” She gave me a wink with the eye that was facing the booth, away from the two girls.

My smile faded. What was she saying? We definitely didn’t discuss rules for complimenting her friends. The closest thing to that was… She definitely didn’t mean that.

Her smile slowly faded, noticing mine was gone. Quickly, I turned back towards Lexi and lowered my head towards my food. “You’re, uh, y’know… v-very pretty.”

“Ouch,” Lexi replied flatly. “It sounds like it hurt to force yourself to say that one.”

“I was about to say,” Crystal laughed. “If you’re gonna lie, don’t be, like, obvious about it.”

“I’m still nervous telling people they’re pretty,” I lied coolly. “Still a nerd at heart, I guess. You know how the stereotype is with nerds around girls.”

“I thought you hated the stereotypes,” Crystal noted.

“I hate them because they’re true,” I joked. “Sorry, Lexi. I meant it. You’re really pretty, and you’re, y’know, very… attractive. You’d make any guy happy if they just got to know you, but high school guys are too shallow for that. I call you cute a lot, I’m not just saying that.”

“You’re a sweet guy, Quinn,” Lexi replied. “It fucking sucks that you’re taken.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” I replied, turning back and kissing Morgan on the lips like our weird moment didn’t happen. “And hey. Morgan took a chance on me. I wasn’t exactly popular. Who knows, maybe you’d be surprised if you went for a guy outside of your normal friend circle. If he’s cute, go for it. So what if he’s in… choir or something?”

“If he’s in choir, he’s either gay or way too into himself,” Lexi commented.

“Well then don’t go for the choir guys, I guess. I hope you get what I’m saying.”

“Yeah, I do. Thanks, Quinn,” Lexi replied with a slight smile. She was clearly still down in the dumps a little, but that couldn’t be helped. I reached for my burger again, when I felt a vibration in my pocket. I shouldn’t have cared too much, but now that Talyor, Joel, Morgan and I were in a bit of a situation, I made a habit of checking my phone whenever it went off. If Taylor had an update for us, time was of the essence.

It wasn’t from Taylor. It was from Morgan.

I think the only thing that turns me on more than you being assertive is you supporting my friends. I cant wait until were alone ❤

I turned to Morgan and gave her a sheepish, no doubt goofy smile. She smiled back, subtly snaked her hand down to my leg below the table, and sexily squeezed my inner thigh.

***

It was weird, coming home and not needing to account for my actions. Mother was true to her word, actually putting effort into not caring about where I went and when I’d be back. I adhered to her ground rules, but out of nowhere, she just gave me freedom.

“I’m home!” I bellowed, feeling confident. Crystal drove us home and Morgan and I spent the ride back kissing in the backseat. I wasn’t sure how much PDA we could get away with around her friends, but to be fair, I was given a weird first impression of how much they could take when Morgan gave me a handjob in front of Taylor.

“Ah, Quinn,” Mother commented as I practically danced into the kitchen. “You have fun with Morgan?”

“I did!” I answered chipperly. “We went out with her friends and got food.”

Mother stopped and looked at me. “What kind of food?”

“Fast food,” Kevin’s voice rang from the living room. “McDonald’s, correct me if I’m wrong.”

“You weren’t even there, how would you know?” I shouted back.

“I got a nose for this stuff. I can smell you from here,” he laughed.

“Yeah, well, ditto. Take a shower,” I grumbled. I turned back to Mother, ready for it.

“Do you know the kind of food they serve you at a place like McDonald?” she began. By the time she was finished talking, the sun was visibly closer to setting. At the very least Kevin was kind enough to jump in and debunk her points when she mentioned the pink slime. “Besides,” she finished, “you always say the food here is better anyway.”

“I do, and it is!” I acknowledged. “It’s more like… a social contract.”

“A what?”

“A social contract,” I repeated in Mandarin. “If I’m there they want me to eat the food there.”

“Oh,” she said simply. “Seems dumb. They didn’t make the food, some pimply minimum wage-earner did. Peh.” She walked off as if the conversation was over. That was as close as it ever came to understanding with Mother.

With her out of the way, I walked over to the living room couch and sat down. “You’re an asshole,” I began with a grin.

“My day? Oh, you know. This and that,” he replied smugly. I watched him play his video game for a while until my phone vibrated with a text from Lexi. I began talking to her more than him.

I stopped when I heard him chuckling. “You still hold your phone up to your face when you text, like a nerd,” he pointed out.

“I am a nerd,” I countered.

“You certainly took my advice to heart for someone who hated it so much,” he mused, still looking at my phone. “You put yourself out there and now you’ve fully integrated yourself into Taylor’s group.”

“It’s kind of a non-option when you’re dating one of them,” I replied.

He shook his head, partly at me, partly at his character’s untimely demise. “The things you think of as non-optional are things their boyfriends never even consider,” Kevin coolly replied. “It’s why they like you and actually text you and shit.”

“Come on, dude, that’s giving me too much credit, I got lucky,” I said uneasily.

“How many times have you seen Joel hanging out with the group?”

A shiver ran up my spine when I heard that name. I would have liked to have felt the full gravity of his point, but I was too busy thinking of how easily he could beat me up.

Kevin took my silence as acceptance. “There, yeah, see?”

“Are you trying to tease me about being a good boyfriend?” I asked, annoyed.

“Um, no,” he flatly replied. “I’m teasing you because you still hold your face up to your phone when you text, like a dork.” He slapped my phone from behind to prove his point. It instantly hit my face.

“Ow,” I complained. “Let me see how you text then. I’m sure Mr. Popular has soooo many text messages to answer.”

He gestured around. “This is how I text,” he told me. “Keep ‘em on their toes. You see this pocket?” He pointed to a bulge in his pocket. “Inside this pocket rests about seventeen messages, all eagerly waiting a response from…”

I waited a bit with half-lowered eyelids. “…You?”

“Bingo. Yours truly. The one and only. Anticipation, Quinn. People wanna talk to me, and I let them know that it’s not gonna be so easy.”

“But… what about if you really want to talk to them too? If Morgan messages me, I want to know what she said and I want to say something back.”

“So, you’re in what we in the biz would like to call the ‘idealistic’ izmit escort bayan stage of texting,” Kevin began. I grinned in disbelief. Much like with Mother, the sun would be a lot closer to setting by the time he had finished his speech.

***

“Like a fuckin’ truck,” Crystal finished as we walked into Morgan’s house.

“What an idiot,” Morgan replied lowly, shaking her head.

“Was he okay?” I asked.

“After what he did to me? I didn’t ask,” Crystal replied with a vindictive tone. She flipped her hair past her ear and paused. “But yeah, I texted him like an hour later. Not, like, ‘I miss you’ text him. Just regular text him.”

“You still tried to go out with him like two weeks later,” Lexi pointed out.

“Lexi!” Crystal practically whined. “Can you fucking keep quiet about anything I tell you?”

“It doesn’t help that you all talk so loud you give Godzilla a run for his money,” Doug quipped from the living room.

“Hey Doug!” Crystal sang, not even caring about his dig. If I understood her, or even people, correctly, she seemed to have a major crush on him. She and Lexi quickly moved over to him.

They left just Morgan and myself giggling and looking at each other as we heard the inevitable ring from the living room. “Hey, hey, knock it off, I’m trying to play here!”

Morgan and I took the opportunity and stole a kiss. It turned out Crystal had a limit, and she wanted us to cut it out with the “high levels” of PDA around her. Lexi never complained though – probably too busy being jealous of us.

“You got two hot girls coming up to you, and you can’t even pause your stupid game?” Lexi’s annoyed voice rang.

“It’s Bloodborne, you can’t pause,” Doug angrily responded.

Morgan instantly rolled her eyes when she saw my attention spike. “Bloodborne?” I asked quickly, and walked over to view the screen. Sure enough, he was playing my favorite game, and struggling, though to be fair he was at a hard part and he had two girls clamoring for his attention.

Morgan caught up to us and clapped her hands once. “Alright bitches, let’s go. Doug’s off-limits anyway.”

“You don’t own him, you can’t speak for him!” Lexi playfully replied.

“Doug’s off-limits,” Doug repeated. “There, you heard it from me.”

“Deadbeat,” Lexi angrily name-called.

“Child,” Doug replied, with a suave smile. This was a game to him, and by he looks of both of their faces, he knew how to get under Lexi’s skin without her even coming close to getting under his. “Besides, you could do better than a deadbeat like me.”

“I’m starting to think not,” Lexi replied, a hint of genuine sadness to her voice. She got up off the couch, waiting for Crystal, and turned to me. I gave a sad, lipless smile at her, and she gave me the same smile back.

While Crystal attempted to keep talking to Doug, I turned back towards Morgan and leaned in close to her ear.

“I don’t mind to imply or rush anything, but-”

She turned to me and kissed my nose, giving me a chastising smirk. “I know I promised it would be just us tonight. I’m working on it,” she clarified. I smiled in return. Hanging out with her friends was fun, but… but to be frank, Morgan was hot and I wanted to fool around with her.

“C’mon, you two,” she turned back to the other girls, going so far as to grab Crystal by the wrist. “Time to go.”

“You just want to be alone with Quinn so you two can spend some alone time together,” Lexi complained.

“No we don’t,” Morgan lied, reassuring her.

“Jealous?” I asked, speaking at the same time as Morgan.

Morgan, in response, gave me a bit of a shocked face that quickly turned into a half-smile. “You are getting too confident too quickly, mister,” she chuckled. “Anyway, out.”

It took a little more convincing for the others to leave, but once they did, Morgan shut the door and sighed. “They’re a handful sometimes,” she said simply.

“I guess,” I chuckled. A beat of silence passed between us and I glanced off towards the stairs. “So, should we…?”

Morgan gave me the same half-smile. “Too confident, too fast,” she repeated. “Actually…” she continued in a teasing voice. “I was thinking of spending some time with Doug first. Care to join us on the couch?” She gave me a wink as she walked past. I could only laugh and join her.

Soon, the three of us were on the couch, idly chatting and watching Doug attempt to beat the Orphan of Kos, one of the most challenging boss monsters of the game. Something inside me wanted to dislike Doug, but…

“You’re okay, Doug,” I said out of nowhere.

I didn’t register that he’d just died to the Orphan and my comment came across as sarcastic. “You know what, fuck you, he’s harder than he looks,” Doug replied in the heat of the moment. He cleared his throat and chuckled a bit, as if to let me know he didn’t mean anything.

“Oh, Quinn knows Bloodborne,” Morgan told him, nuzzling into me. “It’s the game he plays the most often.”

“You are so hot when you listen to me,” I quipped and gave her an innocent kiss.

“Yeah, I’m training you to be hot in the same way,” she quipped back.

“Hey, I listen to you!” I protested.

“I know, I know, I was just joking, just kidding around,” she soothed me. “Hey, I’m going to get a drink. Like, a ‘drink.’” Either of you want any?”

Doug got to a safe point in the game and turned to us. “Uh, is that a good idea?” he asked. “Is he staying over?”

I turned to Morgan. “I probably can’t stay tonight of all nights,” I told her, then turned back to Doug. “But it’s summer. I actually kind of like walking home. If you want to drink, have fun, no need to give me a ride home.”

“You sure?” he asked me, fully serious. “I don’t want to leave you in a bad situation.”

I shrugged. “I’ll be sober anyways, so sure, why not?”

“Hey, cool.” He turned to Morgan. “Surprise me.”

Morgan disappeared into the kitchen while I watched Doug play. “So you’re really good at this game, huh?” he asked.

I nodded, then realized he couldn’t see me nod. “Yes.”

“So why aren’t you bossing me around and backseat gaming me?” he asked jokingly.

“Because my brother does that to me all the time and I hate it,” I honestly answered.

Eyes on the screen, Doug started laughing a low, slow laugh. “Yeah, alright,” he eventually said. “I hear ya.” With that, Morgan reappeared from the kitchen, putting two glasses of orange juice down onto the TV table in front of us.

“Screwdriver,” Doug observed. He took one of the glasses and took a swig. “I said, ‘surprise me,’” he added jokingly.

Morgan just stuck her tongue out at him, took a swig from her own drink, and cuddled back into me. Around half an hour later, the glasses were empty and the drinks were starting to take effect – Morgan’s hands were getting a little more adventurous, and Doug was making more and more preventable mistakes. Luckily, he was also getting into it, so we could get bolder and bolder on the couch next to him.

My lips detached from Morgan’s, both of us looking each other in the eyes, trying not to make a sound, both with our lips and Morgan from her throat. Below a blanket we’d found, my hands also got a little adventurous (though nothing too crazy in front of her brother) and occasionally the sounds of dying Fishmen would drown out a small whimper emitted by Morgan.

Right around the time I got up the confidence to whisper in Morgan’s ear if she wanted to take this to her room, we heard an “ugh” from Doug, coupled with the setting down of the controller on the table. Instantly, my hand retracted from inside her shirt but stayed under the blanket, trying to play it cool.

“You alright?” Morgan asked, a little hazily. I smirked at her. She smiled shyly back.

“I just fuckin’ suck at this game, man,” Doug replied dejectedly. He eyed me and his head made exaggerated movements from the controller to me, back and forth. He was clearly as much of a lightweight as his sister.

“Alright, Quinn. Here ya go,” he told me, as if he was holding out until I was ready or something. He passed the controller to me.

“Yeah? You want me to beat the Orphan for you?” I asked.

Doug chuckled and closed his eyes. “If you can,” he simply said.

I shrugged meekly. “Okay.” I felt around the controller with my hands – a little sweatier than I was used to, but I could make it work.

Morgan pulled me back and whispered in my ear, “You’d better beat it on the first try,” teasingly.

I smiled back at her. The harder the boss, the more time I dedicated to learning it, inside and out. And bless her, even though Morgan had no idea what was going on, she was enjoying this power play between her brother and myself.

My smile got bigger when I got an idea. “Hey Doug.”

“Yo.”

“How many blood vials do you think I’ll need to beat the Orphan of Kos?” I asked innocently.

“Like, all twenty?” Doug answered, confused.

“Okay,” I simply replied.

Morgan audibly giggled as Doug understood where I was going with this. “Oh, no way, dude. Come on. You can’t play me like this, he’s one of the hardest bosses in the fuckin’ game.”

Doug, especially drunk, was hesitant. He seemed to play Bloodborne like any other Souls game. But Bloodborne was fast and demanded you to be faster. It was calculated and demanded you out-calculate it. It favored the bold. From the moment I entered the arena, it was like the living room faded from around me. There was no Morgan or Doug anymore. There wasn’t even a Quinn. There was only the Orphan of Kos and its Hunter.

The world went by in a blur for the next few minutes. I wasn’t even sure how many. All I knew was that my reflexes told me what buttons to hit and my eyes practically never moved from the center of the screen, seeing from the corner of my eye the movements made and how I needed to respond. I didn’t regain consciousness until after I heard the telltale groan of the Orphan falling and the Kos Parasite appearing onscreen.

I exhaled, as if for the first time, then regained my sense of self. “So, how many blood vials did I use?” I asked Doug, half-bragging, half genuinely unsure.

“Two,” Doug muttered in disbelief. “Jesus. You know how to play, I’ll give you that.”

“I was aiming for zero,” I admitted. “I guess I don’t really use your build much, so-”

“Alright, alright,” Doug cut in, snatching the controller back. “You got your time to brag.”

A little nervous given his reaction, I sank back to the couch seeing Morgan give me a look. I knew that look well – Morgan liked when I put on little displays like this. Less ‘Bloodborne,’ more ‘showing Doug up,’ but she was definitely giving me the ‘fuck me’ eyes.

Enter, stage left, who fucking else. Right when Morgan and I were about to kiss, we heard the front door slam and Morgan immediately looked back in bewilderment.

Doug was less fazed. “Who is it?” he called.

“It’s me,” Taylor’s tired voice ran through the hallway.

At the sound of Taylor’s voice, Morgan’s head snapped back into place, a look of pure frustration and nothing else on her face. Without even looking at me, she pushed the blanket off of herself and got up at the couch to meet Taylor, who was already walking past the hallway.

“Hey Doug – oh. Hey, Quinn.” She began her sentence with, granted, no enthusiasm, but at least energy. When she got to me, her voice went all quiet. I didn’t even know which look I should have been giving her at that moment.

“Hey Tay,” Doug replied.

In a voice barely audible enough for me to hear, Morgan told Taylor, “Hey, it’s good to see you, but uh…” She hugged Taylor politely to complement her point. “Could this wait? I kinda wanted to be with Quinn alone tonight.”

Taylor, not gifted with subtlety, answered with a regularly-volumed voice. “No. I need to talk about Joel stuff with you. You need to know.” She slowly turned to face me, and just looked at me. Morgan turned and looked at me too, then back to Taylor. “I think… Quinn should know too?” Taylor continued, with a lot less confidence.

“And this can’t wait?” Morgan asked.

Taylor shook her head no and, winning Morgan’s approval, motioned for me to come upstairs with them. I sighed, said my goodbyes to Doug, and followed the two of them into Morgan’s room.

“Okay, so what is it?” Morgan asked in a borderline impatient voice.

“So,” Taylor began, waiting for me to shut the door. “This is about Joel.”

“Yes, we know it’s about Joel,” I cut in. “You said that at the door.”

Taylor looked at Morgan, probably expecting Morgan to defend her, but deflated like a balloon when she saw Morgan’s face reflecting mine. She sighed angrily. “Okay, so basically, Joel doesn’t believe Milo, I think.”

“What?” both of us asked at the same time.

“Like, I think this is okay,” Taylor continued, as if that’s all we needed to know.

“What do you mean, you ‘think’ he doesn’t believe him?” Morgan asked.

Taylor started fiddling with her hair. “So, like, Joel was high when Milo told him, and I think he, like, thinks it’s a joke. Or thinks he doesn’t know if it’s a joke.”

Morgan had to deal with the confusing details and the reality of the drink hitting her harder by the minute. “Wait… he told you this?”

Taylor nodded enthusiastically. “He went up to me and was telling me, like, how he doesn’t think Milo is funny, and how pathe- no offense, how pathetic Quinn is and stuff.”

“Yeah, who could possibly take offense to that?” I sarcastically grumbled, pacing around the room. “This doesn’t sound like it concerns me. Can I leave?”

Morgan looked back and forth from Taylor to me, eventually stopping with a cold look at Taylor. “Yeah, Taylor, you need to stop pretending his feelings don’t exist,” she told Taylor in a cold voice, a voice I didn’t think Morgan had. “He’s had to deal with so much bullshit.”

“And I haven’t?!” Taylor erupted. “Do you want me to tell you what happened or don’t you?”

“You could have sugarcoated it, or even implied he was wrong for saying that,” I shot back with a louder voice than I expected. “You could have defended me, whether it was with him or with your own friend group half the time when I started hanging out with you more regularly. You could have treated me like more than just your plaything.” At this point my voice was barely above a growl. “You could have chosen not to order me to crawl.”

Weirdly, none of my accusations seemed to hit her hard until the last one. The last one broke her. She started breathing more rapidly, although I couldn’t tell if it was anger or trying to stop herself from crying.

Morgan reacted to my final words immediately too. “Crawl? What do you mean, crawl?” She turned to Taylor. “What does he mean, crawl?”

Taylor said nothing.

Morgan turned back to me. “Is this a metaphor or-”

“It’s literal,” I answered.

Morgan’s look of concern deepened. “We’re discussing this afte-”

“No. That’s between me and Quinn,” Taylor said, her first words since my outburst.

I waited until Morgan turned back to me. “We’re discussing this after she leaves, yes.”

“Quinn, what are you doing?” Taylor asked. “Trying to look like the tough guy for your girlfriend?”

“If you don’t think what happened was wrong, you should be fine with me discussing that with her,” I simply answered.

“I think it was private,” she sharply objected. A beat of silence passed. “Defending you would have made it look more like Milo was right, and Joel was, like, believing nothing happened.” She paused. “He looked for you on Facebook and Instagram later. I saw it. He couldn’t find you.”

“I don’t have a Facebook,” I replied. “Or an Instagram.”

“Don’t tell her about the crawl thing,” Taylor quickly spoke. “Please. I won’t do it again.”

Another beat of silence passed. Taylor’s eyes were definitely welling up now.

“The fuck is going on?” Morgan asked.

I had a theory. “She thinks this is the one thing that, if you knew fully about it, would make you consider actually leaving her,” I answered. “For some reason, she thinks this is the thing.”

“All the more reason I should know about it,” Morgan replied darkly.

“I was just curious about – I got too carried away with something. If you talk about it I’m fucking leaving,” Taylor continued.

I studied her face. “Why do you think this is the one thing…?” I trailed off, looking from one girl’s face to the next. I felt like I didn’t have every puzzle piece here. Or I did, but I just didn’t get why.

I thought about Morgan’s words from earlier on in the week. Obsessive. Don’t get obsessive. You don’t always need to know why.

I shook my head. “You know what? Forget it. This conversation is going nowhere. Let’s move on. So Joel thinks it’s a lie, but clearly has his doubts if he was trying to look me up online. What’s the next step?”

Taylor sniffled a little. “Well, like, first of all, I don’t think I should talk to you or be seen with you anymore.”

I threw up a hand and began pacing again. “You really enjoy this, don’t you?” I asked rhetorically.

“I never said I liked it,” Taylor admitted. “And I’m sure if it’s the group it’s fine. If we’re in a group it’s fine. More than fine, since you’re Morgan’s boyfriend.”

“Which means I’m going to have to lie about how open we were, in case he asks me,” Morgan noted, even while tipsy. “He might see me as the only neutral third party.” She cleared her throat and nodded. “And what happens after that?”

I stole a look at Taylor. “I think it’s become abundantly clear there’s not going to be an ‘after that’ for us, huh Taylor?”

The first tear. The first convulsion. The dam broke. Taylor was crying. Taylor’s cute chipmunk face was twisted into bitter pain, and I was standing there, looking down on her, trying not to feel sorry for her. God damn, did she ever make it difficult.

Morgan felt sorry for her first, moving in for a hug, which Taylor accepted. I sighed and quickly followed. “Anything I can get you?” I asked annoyedly, crossing and uncrossing my arms.

Taylor turned to Morgan. “Ha-have y-you been dri-inking?” she asked.

“Yes,” Morgan admitted.

“Can… can I…” Taylor mumbled.

Morgan looked at me. It probably was not a good idea to drink alcohol to help with sadness, but I wasn’t sure whether it was wise to voice that here. She looked back at Taylor. “Look, Tay, I get that this is hard for you, but Quinn and I wanted one night, just one night where we could-”

“I won’t butt in,” Taylor protested. “I can s-sleep on the couch, and you and Quinn could have the bed…”

“I won’t be staying tonight,” I interjected.

Taylor looked at me with sad eyes. “You’re leaving.”

“He was already planning to,” Morgan helpfully pointed out. “He’s okay walking home. He says he likes it. It’s why Doug and I felt it was okay to drink.”

“Are you lying…?” Taylor asked innocently.

“No Tay, we’re not,” Morgan reassured her. “I’ll get you a drink, okay?” She got to her feet, somewhat unstably, and leaned on my shoulder. “Watch over her,” she whispered to me.

“How?” I whispered back, but Morgan was already leaving. I waited until she was out of the room, then squatted down to look at Taylor.

Watch over her, my ass. I had Taylor alone, and wanted to make good use of it. “Why is it so scary if Morgan knows about that in particular?” I asked. I didn’t always have to know why, but here, I think I earned it.

Taylor looked up at me and sniffled a few times. “Sh-she cares a lot…” she began, realizing I wasn’t going to let up. “About… the people she… loves most.”

I stared at her for a bit, the cogs coming together. “You’re worried she likes me more than she likes you at this point,” I pieced it together, barely above a whisper.

Taylor didn’t say anything. She just stared at me.

“And if you took advantage of me, even if I went along with it, she’ll side more with the person she likes more,” I concluded, standing back up. “And it’ll be easier for her to cut out the one she likes less.”

I could see Taylor’s chest heaving. Something I said clearly resonated.

Against all odds, this was the moment I actually felt sorry for her. I shook my head slowly. “Jesus, Taylor, you’re damaged. That’s not how this works at all.”

Taylor didn’t get a chance to answer. Before she could, Morgan popped back into the room with two drinks, one clearly more full than the other. She gave the full one to Taylor and sat on the bed, keeping the other for herself. Understanding something transpired while she was gone, she turned to look at me.

I turned to the door and shut it, then gestured to both of their drinks. “Take a drink,” I ordered both of them. They looked confused, but complied. I let a few seconds of silence hang in the air before looking at Morgan.

“When Taylor and I were fooling around-” I began, cut off by Taylor making a sound and moving towards me. I held up a finger and paused. “Taylor, one more interruption and I leave right now I’ll call Morgan at a random time and tell her the whole story. And believe me, I’ll be more generous telling it while you’re here.”

Taylor hesitated, then moved back, never saying a word.

I slowly lowered my finger and looked back towards Morgan. “When Taylor and I were fooling around, neither of us knew what we wanted. She was experienced, and I wasn’t. It began under the guise of her teaching me, but it kept evolving. Eventually, Taylor found out she liked not being the one told what to do, for once. She used me – no, that’s not fair – she used the sexual stuff we were doing as an outlet to get back at her asshole boyfriends for never treating her well. She wanted her control back. So she was in control, and kind of… dommed me, I guess. At its most extreme, she’d sit at one end of the room and order me to crawl to her, to… you know… eat her out.”

I let some silence pass. Both girls looked at each other, but said nothing. “I always went along with it,” I continued. “At the time I didn’t see anything wrong with it. After the fact, I felt so embarrassed and ashamed about it… I felt like it was unfair to do that to me, when I was just learning what sex was. It felt like she was taking advantage of me, even when I was saying yes.” I paused, and looked at Taylor. “And I think I’m not the only one that feels bad about it in hindsight.”

You could hear a pin drop in the room when I paused. “The bottom line is, I learned about sex from Taylor. But I’m learning about communication, love, and healthy sex… from you.” I turned to Morgan, then back to Taylor. “Because… I’m not too sure Taylor has learned any of that stuff from a boyfriend in the first place.”

Taylor was crying again, but crying silently. I walked over to her and put a hand on her shoulder, waiting for her head to rise. It took a full minute but her gaze rose to meet mine. I didn’t have a sympathetic face; I wanted my words to speak for themselves. “I’m not angry at you,” I told her. “I’m angry at everyone that did to you what you did to me. But it doesn’t mean I forgive you.”

I got up and turned to Morgan, who clearly looked some kind of angry at Taylor. “But also, this isn’t your sin to forgive,” I told her. “She’s scared that if you knew, you’d walk out of her life forever. She thinks there isn’t room for both of us in your heart.”

“Quinn…” Taylor managed.

“I know what I’m doing,” I told her. “On some level I get it. I feel like you do now, Taylor, constantly. I always feel like I crossed boundaries but never knew it before. I’m an overthinker. An obsessor.” I looked Morgan in the eye. “Sometimes it has its benefits.”

“I guess I didn’t think that was a benefit that could apply to both of us,” Morgan replied jokingly with a dry throat. “I’m allowed to be upset at Taylor.”

“Yes, but only I get to forgive her,” I clarified. “What she did, she did to me. You care about me, but you care about her too. I want to get over this with her on my own terms, even if you’re only helping.”

Morgan looked down and sighed through her nose. “I don’t like it…”

“You don’t have to.”

“But okay. If that’s what you want,” Morgan acknowledged.

None of us said anything for a while. Eventually I turned to Taylor. “Do you want to say anything?” I asked.

She had finished her drink by now. “I don’t want to s-stop talking to you, Quinn,” she admitted. “Just… please, believe me. And I don’t want to lose you, Morgan.”

“I would have gotten angry, maybe even had a talk like this,” Morgan objected. “I never would have left you.”

I gave Taylor a smug look and she chuckled through her tears. “Shut up,” she told me, shoving me playfully.

That was the last thing she said directly to me that night. Shortly after, Doug went to bed, so the three of us went downstairs to the couch, and the two girls made small talk until Taylor fell asleep – surprisingly quickly, actually. Once it was clear she was asleep, Morgan motioned with her head to head back to the bedroom.

“What a soap opera,” she commented.

“Yeah, no kidding,” I replied. “I’m, uh, sorry for the big preachy speechy over there.”

“It’s not healthy to apologize for your feelings, Quinn,” she replied, moving in for a hug. “Are you okay?”

“Oh yeah. I have been for a while. It felt wrong, but… you know, it wasn’t violating. Not everything that feels bad is rape or something,” I replied. “I would certainly not say Taylor raped me. And she seemed to care about consent too. She just… yeah. Control.”

“Yeah,” Morgan replied. “I assume that topic has… really turned you off, huh?”

I smirked. “Any reason why you’re asking?” I asked with a twinkle in my eye.

“Well, I… Morgan huffed. “Yeah, I’ve gotten blueballed like seven times tonight. Sue me.”

I pretended to think about it. “You know, I bet it would be really easy to get me back into the mood if you wanted…”

“You sure you’re okay?” she clarified.

“Are you? You’re… you’ve been drinking.”

“Shut up, we both know I wanted you all to myself tonight since I was sober,” she replied.

“Yeah, well…”

“Well nothing.” She moved in for a kiss which I gladly accepted. Instead of the kisses being tame at first, Morgan demonstrated how desperate she was this evening, showing me that she really did want me this badly for hours. She moved in for the kill, using her lips and tongue to do battle with mine, passionately grinding herself up against me as our teenage hormones let loose with each other.

Shivers of excitement ran down my body as I felt my girlfriend grinding against me, and they only amplified when Morgan broke off the kiss and whispered in my ear, “I want to please you tonight… I want to give you a blowjob.”

“A-are you sure?” I asked, nervous. She stopped grinding on me and looked me in the eyes, biting her lower lip and nodding. She looked so beautiful like this. The most beautiful girl in the school. And she was grinding up against me, eager to suck my cock, moaning into my mouth. I was so fucking lucky.

“Oh, Morgan…” I was moaning as her kisses went from my lips to my cheeks, right down my jawline and neck.

She moaned back, when she could, when her mouth wasn’t busy. She continued kissing down my body, over my shirt, before we both decided with a chuckle that that was dumb and removed my shirt, as well as opening my fly, making my pants more easy to access.

Once my pants were open, she paused. “Would you like my… my boobs out for this too?” she asked, a cute little drunken slur still on her tone.

I smiled in decision. “Actually… bottomless,” I answered, gesturing to her pants. “I have a feeling at least one of us is going to be fingering you after this.”

“Mmmh, I like that answer,” she purred, already working her pants off. Pretty soon, her unshaven slick teenage cunt was staring me straight in the face. Even from my eyes’ distance away, it was clear just how aroused she was. It helped significantly that she matched my look of lust with a look of her own. She wanted me. My dick ached and pulsed in my pants, and she only grew wetter and wetter.

Without another word, she sank down to her knees, with me getting in front of the bed, sitting down on it. Our eyes met as she pulled my dick out of my pants, and we just smiled warmly at each other, like a good couple. A power couple.

Once my cock was freed, she tore her gaze away from my eyes to look up and down my shaft. She was looking at it like it was the best dick in the world. I was stupid to doubt myself. I was focusing on the wrong things.

Morgan was a girl I could feel good obsessing over.

Still being tipsy, she did not start with subtlety, to the point of making my sensitive self almost jump with the sudden, borderline painful sensation. She hungrily licked me from the base to the tip, and finished off the lick with a gentle kiss at the end, which gave both of us a giggle. She licked again, moaning as she did, and then again, more eagerly. Before long the licks ended with bigger and bigger kisses, and it took a short amount of time for that to become her making out with my dick.

The feeling of a talented pair of lips on my cock was indescribable. I get that I’d experienced blwojobs before, but Morgan felt like a whole new experience. The amount of passion and teenage hormones probably didn’t hinder anything. I couldn’t hear it, but I felt myself talking, possibly babbling, as Morgan played with me. She didn’t try to stop me, she didn’t try to shush me. Hell, I think at one point she switched to a handjob and just… listened.

Her mouth skills were definitely something to be admired, as if I didn’t know that from kissing her. I wish I lasted longer than I did, but to be fair, she was clearly good at this and I felt feelings for her I realized I had never felt for a person before. I could feel every nerve in my body tingling, and a wave of anticipation washed over me, like I was going over the hill of a roller coaster or something. I felt my body start to lose control, and my limbs shook. Morgan was noticing, and was really trying to make a good effort to go the last ten yards, which was definitely rewarded.

Sparks clouded my vision. I was cumming inside Morgan Jones’ mouth. Holy shit. My girlfriend. My sweetheart. This was it. I made some vivid (and probably incoherent) sounds, my body spasming, my entire body lighting up like a firecracker on… well, on New Years.

“Oh my Godddd Morgan…” I moaned. “Fuck, you’re amazing.”

Morgan waited until the time seemed right to pop her mouth off of my dick and breathe through her mouth again. Tears were running down her eyes, but she was smiling. Happy. We both were. She got her partner to climax, like I did with her. Wasn’t it a wonderful thing?

“I’m so happy I’m with you…” I said, just above a whisper, cradling her cheek. It seemed weird to get sentimental with cum leaking from the corners of her mouth and tears streamed down her face, but from the smile she gave me back, I knew it was a sentiment we both felt. I could have stayed like this forever. We hopefully could stay like that forever.

In that moment, everything – Taylor sleeping downstairs, paranoid Joel, controlling Milo… all of it was secondary. What mattered the most was us. We were here, we were real, these feelings were real, and nothing was going to stop us.

That said, we were more than expecting a couple of… complications to pop up along the way.

Chapter Fourteen

I examined myself in the store mirror. The letterman didn’t really suit me, but there had to be a jacket that would, against all odds, make Quinn Shen look cool.

As odd as it was, Milo’s little stint kind of brought Morgan and I even closer together, especially since no shit had hit the fan yet. At least, I thought it did, but maybe she felt differently. Though, if she did, she was doing a terrible job of showing it.

“Ooh, that looks so good on you!” she practically sang, eyeing my reflection in the mirror and hugging me from behind. “Tell me you’re going to get this one.”

“Really? This one? You think this is cool?” I asked, unsure. “I don’t think the letterman suits me.”

She cocked her head and gave me a puzzled smile. “Letterman?”

“Is this not a-”

Morgan burst into snickers. “Babe, this is a bomber jacket.”

I blew a raspberry. “Bomber, letterman, letterman, bomber. How am I supposed to know?”

“A letterman has a letter. Man,” she teased.

“Really?”

“Mhm! Riiiight… here…” she said lightly, teasingly, while drawing a delicate circle around my chest. I looked down at her head, right near my shoulder, and she smiled and gave me a kiss. Satisfied, Morgan let go and went somewhere else, allowing me to re-examine myself in my bomber jacket. After a few more seconds, I decided against the jacket and rejoined her, finding her fiddling around some shirts.

“Where’s Lexi?” I asked, noting the one person we came with wasn’t with us.

“She likes doing her own thing,” Morgan replied, not looking away from the shirts. “But to be honest, I think she hopes she’s going to have a meet cute with some hunky sales assistant who’ll sweep her off her feet or something.”

“What’s a meet cute?”

“It’s, like, what people think of when – it’s like meeting someone cute for the first time, and you both can tell instantly that it’s going to be a thing.”

“Sounds sappy,” I chuckled.

She turned back to me and winked. “Yeah, I’d rather have what we have too,” she flirted. “So, what’s the verdict?”

“Death sentence,” I replied, taking the jacket off. “It’s not doing it for me. I think I’m just destined to dress like a nerd.”

Morgan gave me a laugh with another confused expression. “It was your idea to come here,” she replied, taking the jacket. “I told you, if you didn’t want to dress like I do, you don’t have to.”

“Yeah, but, I dunno, I want to make an effort. We’re doing everything together, I don’t want to… make you lose street cred or something,” I replied, shrugging, feeling myself get more introverted by the second.

“Did I say I was losing my street cred?”

“Well, no, but-”

“Hmm, odd. I wonder where you could be getting that impression then,” she replied quickly, her tone losing emotion. I knew what that tone meant.

“Okay, okay, I’m sorry for presuming. I just… assume that I’m a… you know, that I…” I looked away, scratching my head in nervousness.

I didn’t catch her response as I looked off to the left, finding some other racks. “Hey, what about this?” I asked in excitement, walking towards a display of jackets.

Morgan followed, looking them over. “This just looks like more bomber jackets,” she lightly protested.

“Yeah, but these look kinda neat,” I replied, picking one up and looking at the label. “I thought so: Harajuku style. They kinda look like a rapper or something might wear them.”

“Gonna drop some bars?” I heard Lexi joke near us.

“Check it out, Lex,” I replied quickly, putting it on. It had a neat pattern on it, with some explosive Harajuku-looking graffiti on the front. I posed in an over-the-top style for them. “So Morgan, what do you think?”

“Yeah, it looks good too!” Morgan said. “Do you want these because it’s, like, more your culture or something?”

I gave her a look. “Harajuku is in Tokyo, Morgan.”

She threw up her hands. “Oh great, now I look racist.” She laughed at her own comment, and I joined her. Quickly, I ran to the mirror, and examined myself.

“Oh yeah,” I told the duo, “I’m feeling this.”

A weird part of me felt excited. Like, I wore plain clothes and hand-me-downs and stuff for most of my life. But this was something I was going to buy for myself, something that made me look good, with my own money that I got from my job. More importantly, something that made me feel like I wouldn’t be embarrassing my girlfriend, even though bringing that up wouldn’t score me any points.

“You look great, babe,” Morgan told me supportively, without a smile, although that could just be because we weren’t alone.

“It’s a cool look, Quinn!” Lexi added happily.

“So after this, can we swing by the Sunglasses Hut or whatever they have here?” Morgan asked. “I gotta get some new ones for summer. My old ones fucking broke.”

“They got some near the food court, I saw them when I was going to the washroom, but I dunno if it’s Sunglasses Hut,” Lexi added.

“Ooh, fuck, washrooms. Speaking of, I’m going to go. Can you two wait here for me?” Morgan asked. She didn’t even wait for our answer before walking off. My eyes followed her. God damn, she had a great butt.

I admired myself, not used to the guy staring back at me, for a few more seconds. After a bit, I eyed Lexi. “So, the washrooms, huh? Did you find a guy to go there with?”

“I wish,” she grumbled.

“Morgan thought you were trying to find a cute sales associate to seduce,” I added.

“It would be cool if the world worked like that,” she replied dryly. “I’m alone, Quinn. Always will be.”

“You won’t be alone, Lexi, come here,” I coaxed her, bringing her in for a side hug as I continued checking myself out. “We’re eighteen, we’ve got so much time it’s crazy. What if you find the love of your life in college? All the waiting will have been worth it.”

Lexi hugged me back, sliding her arm up my back, letting me know with her hand that she appreciated it. “Can I say something, like, maybe weird?”

“When do you not?” I joked.

“I’m just saying… if you weren’t dating Morgan, I totally would… y’know, accept it if you asked me out.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle, and let her go from the side-hug. I saw it coming a mile away. Lexi would date a gym bag if she could, and plus, out of the three girls in the group I connected with (I was still working on Crystal), Lexi was the only one where any theme of sexuality and romance didn’t come up out of nowhere. She and I were close, there was no doubt, and she was boy-crazy. She was bad at hiding her feelings.

“You’re bad at hiding it,” I replied.

“You’re not mad at me?” she asked incredulously.

Lexi may have been easy, but there were worse things to be. It felt nice, and almost confidence-boosting, knowing three of the girls in the group had some kind of drawing to me. All the more reason to dress less like a nerd. I was leaving that life behind. “Well, it’s not like anything is going to happen,” I told her. “You wouldn’t want to hurt your friend and I’m with her. And truth be told, you’re pretty cool, Lexi. If I wasn’t dating Morgan… who knows?”

A silence passed between us. I dryly giggled and added, “But if you try to break us up, it’s off.”

Lexi giggled back, just as dryly. “Well yeah, duh,” she replied. “You’re a cool boy, Quinn. I’m glad I got to, you know, know you better.”

“If it’s the looks that are doing it, I do have a twin,” I joked again.

“Eww, fuck no. Not Kevin,” she insisted.

“What’s wrong with the guy? He’s charismatic, he’s got connections, he’s-”

“Slimy, that’s what he is,” Lexi added.

“Hey, honestly, be careful. He’s my brother,” I said with a more serious tone.

“He just comes across as more, like, desperate. Fake. Like he’ll do anything for the time of day, I dunno. It feels like he’s there just to get what he wants from people and leave.”

“He has his… own version of empathy,” I replied thoughtfully. “Not unlike Taylor, actually, now that I think about it. Hell, she’s more of the ‘I just want something’ type, not to gossip.”

“Real talk, I totally thought you were…” Lexi trailed off, looking around to see if Morgan was on her way back. “I totally thought you were dating Taylor or at least fucking her before you started dating Morgan.”

I was taken aback, hopefully not for the reason she thought. “M-me? Dating Taylor?”

“I know, it’s crazy, but there was something about your energy together… like, for the longest time, I thought there was something there.”

Wow. Look at Lexi. She had more going than I gave her credit for.

“Of course, it was, like, super obvious after that you were just helping her to get closer to Morgan,” she continued.

I turned to her and grinned. “Is that what you think happened?” I challenged her.

She grinned back. “And that confirms it,” she told me. “It can be our secret if you want. I just can’t believe it fucking worked. You. With her. She, like, doesn’t date anybody, Quinn.”

If I knew one thing about Lexi, it was that if she believed in something volatile, even the truth, it could spell trouble. If she believed in something harmless, well… there were worse things than to just…

I nodded. “Our secret,” I repeated, letting a pause pass. “But yeah, I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”

It was only after the conversation finished and Morgan rejoined us that the gravity of what Lexi said truly hit me. Did she have a crush on me, or did she just make this offer to every guy that got close enough with her? Did I cause this by calling her cute…? Was I making a mistake?

***

“Calling my friend ‘cute’ isn’t cheating on me,” Morgan laughed as we laid out her purchases in her room. “You’re so paranoid.”

“I have my reasons to be,” I defended myself as I looked over the sunglasses I bought. They matched hers. I wasn’t about to tell her that Lexi gave me the “If you weren’t with her” speech, but I could tell her everything else.

“Why, did she blow you or something?” she asked as a joke.

“No, of course not! I’ve remained faithful t-”

“Shut up,” she laughed, kissing me. “Honestly, I’m glad that you can be friends with my girls and not be weird about it.”

“What’s weird?” I asked.

“Well, for starters, having sex with them and not telling me about it.” She let a beat sink in. “And hey, you got over your weird phase there, so that’s all good.”

I felt my cheeks redden, and let out an uncomfortable growl.

“For second, believing guys and girls can’t be friends without something sexual going on between them. Believe me, so many guys I thought were good would be, like, proud of how they’re not friends with any other girls, as if every girl is someone I could lose to or something.”

“And you win against all of them anyways,” I replied, grabbing her around the waist and kissing her neck.

She lightly moaned, pushing her butt against my crotch. She lost herself for a few seconds, rubbing her ass against me, then pulled herself out of my grasp. “Hey. Parents are home. Keep it together,” she half-joked. “Anyway, speaking of, you wanna come to Crystal’s tonight?”

“I thought it was girl’s night,” I replied.

She shrugged. “They all okay’d you, even Milo, and he’s not a girl either, so fuck the rules,” she replied. “If you’d rather not, that’s cool.”

My tone turned to mild disappointment. “And when you say, ‘all of them…’”

She read my thoughts. “Yeah, Taylor is a no-show,” she replied in an equally bummed voice. “Sorry, Quinn.”

“You know if I said no she’d happily be there,” I replied, only realizing the implications once my words sank in. “Is that why you keep asking me? So that you can tell Taylor if I’m not coming?”

She sighed. “Look, Quinn. You’re important to me, but so is she. These are her wishes. If she doesn’t want to see you… Yeah, that sucks, but what can you do?”

“So that’s a yes,” I grumpily observed.

“It’s a yes.’’ She paused, then sighed again. “If you’re not coming anyway, I want to see her. I miss her. I’m asking you first, that’s got to mean something. Milo is cool with you now, that has to mean something too.”

“‘Cool with me,’” I replied, making air quotes. “In that ‘I’m not cool with you’ way.”

“Welcome to Milo,” she replied.

“Sometimes the politics of your group are exhausting,” I mumbled.

“I don’t disagree,” Morgan replied, starting to hang up her clothes, but stopping once she saw how much it was affecting me. Slowly and tenderly, she gave me a kiss. “Do you want a little break from them? Maybe I could hang out with you and your friends for a while.”

I chuckled sadly. “Morgan, I don’t have a friend group. I have a circle of people I sat with at lunch, maybe, but I won’t ever see those people again. You actually have a friend group. I have, like, Kevin, and…”

“Yeah, I wouldn’t like to hang out with Kevin if that’s okay,” Morgan mumbled.

“Did he poison half the school when I wasn’t looking or something?” I asked.

“He’s just one of those brown-noser types. Clings to the most relevant one in the room and leeches. It’s weird. I get you’re his brother and I’m sure he has other good qualities, but… I’m someone he thinks has power, so he’s kind of draining as a person.”

“I feel like you should give him a chance out of school, especially when you’re dating his brother,” I told her seriously. “I can accept if he rubs you the wrong way, but your whole group kind of… they’re all mean to him, and it gets a bit much when I have to constantly hear that when I keep getting nothing but, ‘I don’t like how he acts.’”

“We can have this conversation another time when I’m more ready,” she told me. “Anyway, did you need a break from my group?”

I huffed. “No,” I admitted. “They’re a bit much too sometimes, but they’re basically my friends too at this point. Though maybe I can skip out on Crystal’s so you can see Taylor or something. Just, uh, you know… say hi to her for me.”

“It’s bothering you,” Morgan said nurturing, stopping again. We both were sitting on the bed by this point, and she was stroking my cheek.

“Of course it is,” I told her. My cheeks were welling up. I felt like a lame-o. “I mean, she was the first person I was ever intimate with like that, and I knew what we had wasn’t going to last forever, but just… it feels… weird now that we’re not having sex and she just pushes me away like I’m nothing.”

“You don’t mean weird, don’t say it,” Morgan supported me.

I looked at her. “It hurts,” I admitted, blinking the tears away.

Morgan pulled me close and we hugged for a little bit. After the hug finished, we shared a short kiss. Morgan softly chuckled. “It’s kind of funny, isn’t it? You get maybe the one girl in the school that’s cool with you doing stuff with her hot friend, and it all goes to shit. That’s Taylor for you.”

I collected my thoughts for a bit. “I miss her, but if I’m being honest, I’d rather have just you. She’s too complicated, and you… with you, it feels like everything I’ve been missing in my life floods back to me with every second we spend together.”

Morgan gave an uncharacteristic smile. “Holy shit, Quinn, that’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard,” she said in an unusually high voice. She kissed me over and over again, clearly overwhelmed with what I said.

I had no idea why she reacted so strongly to that of all things. Clearly my social skills still needed sharpening.

***

“Boom!” Lexi celebrated as the ball took down all nine pins. She turned back to the group. “Eat my entire ass!”

“You granny-bowl,” Crystal dismissed her. “I could get a zero and still win.”

“Points are points!” Lexi protested, sitting back down, snuggling up to me. “Back me up here, Quinn.”

I shot Morgan a look. I wanted to be as impartial as possible towards Lexi after knowing what I knew, but I think Lexi took the fact I didn’t fully shoot her down a little too optimistically. Unhelpfully, Morgan just looked on coolly.

“You two make a cute couple,” she chirped as Milo stood up, his turn approaching. He did his ceremonial dance, grabbed his favorite blue ball, and tossed it down the aisle with the grace of a seasoned professional. Instant gutterball, no points.

“I swear to God I’m good at bowling,” he mumbled as he sat back down. He saw Lexi plastered to me and his expression turned to annoyance. “Can you cut that out? He’s in a relationship.”

“With me, yeah,” Morgan replied emotionlessly, turning to him. “I’m cool with it. Got something to say?”

He stared at her for a long time before his expression softened. “Sorry,” he admitted. “I guess the competition is getting to me.”

“The loser just buys the wings, it’s not like you’re not playing for the Nationals,” Crystal laughed.

“Is there a national bowling team…?” Lexi wondered, still snuggled up against me.

“Alright, give me some room, I’m getting too hot,” I told her, trying to keep some humor to my tone.

“Yeah you are,” Lexi giggled back sexually.

“Lexi,” I replied with some heat, and she moved off. I gave Morgan another look before she got up and grabbed a ball. I turned to Milo and figured a change of conversation was in order. “How are things, you okay?”

“I’m fine, I’m fine,” he assured me – or himself. “Just a lot going on.”

I figured it wouldn’t hurt to be genuine. “For what it’s worth… I’m glad we’re talking again.”

He gave me a side eye, then eyed Lexi, then back to me. I rolled my eyes and did my best to tell him with my expression that whatever he was feeling about the Lexi situation, I was feeling it too.

Unhelpfully, despite zero attraction being present between us, Crystal was beginning to learn she could tease Morgan with me too. Anytime that Lexi grabbed on to one side, Crystal would jokingly grab on to the other, just in time for Morgan to turn around from whatever she was doing or whatever.

“Spare, more like ‘spare me,’” Morgan mumbled, turning around to see Lexi latched back onto me, with Crystal’s head on my shoulder. “Boy, you two really want to see me jealous, don’t you?”

I was honestly more worried about what this was doing to Milo than Morgan, especially since Crystal and Lexi didn’t know exactly what flames they were stoking here. Milo and I clearly made some kind of peace, but… it was an uneasy peace.

After the first game, the girls all went to the washroom, which just left Milo and myself. He clearly took the opportunity, and as soon as they were gone, leaned over to me.

“I don’t know either,” I preemptively told him. “I know what it looks like, and we didn’t plan this, and there’s nothing going on there. Lexi is just Lexi, and Crystal likes teasing Morgan. I do really feel bad about what you’ve told me, and… and I know, okay? Please, just… please.”

I stared down at the floor for a bit, then looked at Milo, who was just viewing me with a smug yet weirded out smile. “I was going to ask you to pass the chips.”

“Oh.” My cheeks got hot. “Uh, yeah, here you go.”

“It seems to be affecting you more than me at this point,” he observed. “I thought we were behind that stuff now, but you’re holding a grudge.”

“I bet Joel is holding a grudge too,” I defended myself.

“See? It affects you,” he replied, cool as a cucumber.

“So it doesn’t bother you when Lexi and Crystal do their… thing?” I asked.

“Why would it? Both of them are single, Crystal is clearly doing it for a joke, and your girlfriend is right there,” he reasoned. “It’s like you think I only told Joel to punish you.”

“But I-”

“Quinn, we really shouldn’t be having this argument here,” he interrupted. “If you still have hangups… give me your phone. I’ll give you my number, you can text me or call me or whatever. In private. Okay?”

“I don’t think I should,” I replied uneasily.

“Well, you’re my friend, so I’ll give you my number anyway,” he replied warmly. “How’s that?”

“Okay…” I replied slowly. “Okay. Friend. I like that.”

“Can I be gross?” he asked.

“Uh… sure?”

“This group is like a case of irritable bowel syndrome. Shit passes right through us, it could happen anytime with no warning, and the only thing we all can do is live with it.” He gave me a playful shove. “If I didn’t enjoy spending time with you, I wouldn’t be hanging out with you.”

“I don’t get how you can say that after-”

“Text me, Quinn,” he reminded me.

“No, but, this doesn’t, like, it does not compute. You seemed angry with me, now it’s like nothing happened.”

“Yeah, after a whole week. Imagine that,” he quipped. “I can pretend to be angry with you if that helps. I just felt a way, and now I’ve gone back to feeling my normal way. The event has passed. The feelings have passed. If you’re talking about what I said to Lexi, that’s just me keeping her behavior in check. I do it all the time with her. Ever since middle school, in fact.”

“I guess… I guess I feel things deeply.”

He took a swig of his soda. “That’s gotta suck in this group.”

I chuckled. “You’re telling me.”

“Well, okay. Quinn, I didn’t mean anything by it. People were told, but to me, that had to happen. I don’t want it to affect how I see you, is that good enough?”

“Well, now Taylor won’t bother being in the same place as me…” I trailed off. “It hurts.”

“Yeah, but, that’s not my fault. Taylor was planning on cutting things off with you for a bit. I didn’t only approach you, you know.”

“What?!” I asked in disbelief. Taylor definitely never told me this! What else was she hiding from me? “What did she say? Tell me everything!”

Milo sighed. “It’s great how I told you I’d rather call you about this, and you just ignored me.” He glanced at the washrooms and leaned in to me. “Okay. You know about the party at the Love’s place?”

“Wyatt Love? Yeah, I heard about it.”

“Right. So, everyone who’s anyone goes to that party. Go to it.”

“I was already planning to. Morgan’s going. She really wanted me to go.”

“Great!” Milo leaned back, as if the problem was solved.

“…I don’t get it.”

“It’s a party. A big one. Taylor will be there. If she refuses to talk to you, she can’t ignore you there. Just… be tasteful. Joel will be there too. Get it?” he asked, an expectant look on his face.

“So… you can’t tell me everything?” I asked exasperatedly. “I’d really like you to.”

Milo smiled. “Whenever I’ve told someone everything, it fires back in my face. So no, I’m shutting up if that’s cool.”

As weird as it was, in the moment it seemed Milo was… understandable. Cool, even. I feel like I could have been him if shings swung another way or something. “Okay, I understand.”

“Can I ask for some info though? In exchange for my info,” Milo piped up, eyeing the washroom again.

“Weird way to phrase it,” I replied slowly. “What’s up?”

“Lexi. She’s real cute, isn’t she?”

“Um, yeah…” I replied uneasily.

“You two have been making real good friends since you got into our group, huh?” he pressed on.

I shrugged meekly. “I guess you could say that.”

“Did she give you one of those, ‘if you weren’t dating my friend’ speeches?” he asked.

“Does she give those to every guy friend she has?” I asked worriedly.

“Nah, not all,” Milo replied coolly. “Some. Some, for sure.”

“I would never do anything against Morgan’s wishes,” I added quickly.

“Relax, relax, I know,” Milo soothed me.

“Okay,” I exhaled. “You don’t miss much, do you?”

“I miss nothing,” he replied. “Nothing but net.”

“It was nearly ‘nothing but gutter’ in the last game,” I replied.

Milo smiled at me. “I’m gonna murder you next game,” he replied.

“Bring it on.”

***

The first time entering the Love house – yes, people insisted on calling it that – was like getting hit with a wall of sound. Apparently Wyatt and his older brothers were famous for throwing parties, so even though I didn’t know the guy, Morgan was going to be there and insisted I would be there too. From the noise, half of the school was there with us, notably the popular half.

Thanks to the other parties she dragged me to, I was finally getting used to a few familiar faces, and they got used to me too. After Morgan and I parted to mingle, I found my closest male friend, apart from I guess Doug, I had made through Morgan. “Hey, Thomas.”

“Yo, Quinn, what’s happening?” he asked, giving me a fist bump. “You just get here?”

I looked back to the living room. We were in the kitchen, but it was kind of an open concept type of house, so it was easy to see a lot of the house from any one point. “With Morgan, yeah,” I replied, gesturing to her in the living room, chatting it up with some hunky guy.

“Man, if I saw my girl talking to Arin that close, I’d fucking punch his lights out,” Thomas observed, looking at her.

“Do I look like I can punch anyone out, d-dude?” I asked, stuttering my way through ‘dude.’ I hadn’t fully worked out the nicknames and terms of endearment or whatever people used with each other.

The guys with us gave a polite half-chuckle at my comment. “Maybe not, but hey, I dig the jacket. Way cooler than a fuckin’ tux.”

I wore a suit jacket to the last party Morgan dragged me to, and because she found it cute that I chose it, she didn’t correct me. I was the main attraction of the whole party, in a ‘zoo animal’ sort of way. “I told you, former nerd. I don’t know what to wear to parties.”

“Well, you’re getting better at it,” he replied.

“Speaking of, who the hell is Wyatt? I’ve never actually met him,” I continued.

“Wyatt? Tall guy, baby face. Ginger as fuck.” Thomas whirled his head around, looking for him. “He’s probably in his room with some girl. The dude doesn’t stop flirting. It’s why he even has these parties.”

“So he lives up to his name, huh?” I asked. When Thomas just gave me a blank expression, I pressed on. “You know… Love… Wyatt Love…”

“Yeah, welcome to grade six, dude. That’s a good joke,” Thomas replied condescendingly. “None of us ever even thought of that before.”

“Whatever, man,” I shrugged it off.

“Anyway, if you want a beer… yo Mitchell, where’s the supply?”

A douchey-looking guy with dark hair replied. “Keg’s already floated, but Calvin’s gone off to get some more. I think there’s a cooler on the deck, but you’ve gotta get it yourself. First two are free, then you gotta pay. That’s usually Love policy.”

“Wait, Mitchell?” I repeated, knowing that name.

“What’s up?” he asked.

“Were you the guy that dated Crystal this year?”

He laughed to the group. “Yeah, fuck was that ever a mistake.” He turned his attention to me. “You hang out with her a lot, right? You’re fucking brave, man. She’s so-”

“You shouldn’t have sent her underage nudes around the school.”

He stopped in mid-sentence. “Is that why you came here, to start shit?” he asked with some heat. “Time and place, man. Butt out.”

“Yeah, time and place, Quinn. Not at a party,” Thomas added. “No need to white knight for her.”

“She was really upset by that. I hope you haven’t done that with anyone else,” I continued.

“Wasn’t this like five or six months ago?” one of the guys chirped.

“Who even is this guy?” Mitchell asked Thomas.

“Quinn, not cool. Just… lay off the offense, we’re here to have a good time. We got some dirt on your girlfriend too, but that’s in the past. I think you’ve been hanging around the girls too much if you get what I’m saying,” Thomas replied.

“I just wanted to say that. It felt important to say,” I half-mumbled. I did feel cringey, but at the same time… I wanted to say it.

Clearly none of the guys were as affected by my words as the girls usually were. They just stood around, taking sips of their beers, clearly not impressed with me. “Maybe you should go say hi to some other guys or something,” one of the guys suggested.

I sighed through my nose. “I just wanted to say that, that’s all.”

“We get it, dude. You said what you wanted to say. Now why don’t you fuck off? Go get a beer, loosen up.” another guy piped up.

I stood dumbly for a second or two. “See you later, Thomas,” I finally sighed as I walked past them. I had no regrets saying what I said, and maybe it wasn’t right to bring up an old wound like that, but what was I going to do? Not defend my friend? I had to say something.

Despite not planning on drinking, I wandered out onto the deck anyway. It was a quieter part of the party, and of course, sitting on the cooler was, who else, Taylor Wise.

I looked at the ground as soon as I saw her, but it was clear she already saw me, and for whatever reason, wasn’t at all pretending to look anywhere but at me since I arrived. Joel was nowhere in sight, so at least I knew she wasn’t… planning anything? Would she do that?

“Hey,” I awkwardly began.

She gave me a polite smile but didn’t respond in any way beyond that.

“It’s nice to talk to you again,” I continued. She still didn’t reply, so I pressed on. “Right, yeah, sorry. I heard you were thinking of cutting me off even before it hit the fan, huh?”

Taylor’s smile faded. She still said nothing.

I coughed nervously. “Do you mind if I grab a, uh, drink out of there real quick?”

She just stared at me, finally speaking. “I really don’t want to give up my seat. I’m comfy here.”

“Come on, don’t be difficult,” I protested.

“I could say the same to you,” she quietly replied. It wasn’t a defiant voice; if anything it was weak.

I opened my mouth to reply but nothing came out. I looked around in exasperation, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw Joel, from inside the house, watching me like a hawk eyes its prey. No evil, no malice, but steely determination, never blinking. I was clearly already making scenes since I came here – I hadn’t really done anything but that. Without another word, I sighed and walked away, trying to avoid Joel’s gaze as I worked my way back into the house.

Parties were weird beats when I first got introduced to them, and needless to say I had a slow start with this one, but I eventually got into the groove. After a few awkward encounters, I had a fun time watching an already-too-drunk guy named Jackson attempt (and fail) the whole “pull a tablecloth off a table without moving the plates” thing, which launched into an enthusiastic conversation with the guys crowded around him. Thomas was there, and he seemed okay with me, though he seemed to keep his distance more than other parties.

Afterwards, I found out there were video games in the basement, and I was set. Unfortunately, the Love family seemed to grow up with Nintendo and not Playstation, but nobody’s perfect, and I attempted to have the best fun I could with Super Smash Brothers and Mario Kart instead of my usual choices. By the time I’d gone upstairs to find some water or something, I’d played a few rounds, watched a few others, and even made a few new friends.

Halfway through filling my cup with water from the sink, I felt some hands around my waist. I smirked. The arms felt too low to be Morgan’s.

“Hey, Lexi,” I replied, not even looking at her yet. “Having fun?”

“Mmmmh,” she moaned into my jacket, moving drunkenly back and forth. I laughed, paused, and handed her my water, figuring she needed it more than me. After getting a second cup for myself, we made it to a couch in the living room, and after taking a long drink, she started going off about boys.

“Thiss par’y iss’a best one, like, oh my god, like…” Lexi was chanting in this high-pitched voice, eventually flopping down on my shoulder. The other couch was occupied with some couple making out, which I couldn’t help but stare at. It was a guy and a girl, and she was sitting on top of him, stopping just shy of grinding on top of him, both of their tongues visible if you watched long enough. On some level, I was disgusted, but on another… I was reminded of the movie theater. I missed Morgan. Where the heck had she gone off to? Well, I guess I went off to the basement, so I couldn’t be blamed.

Lexi was also watching the couple with interest. Audible interest. She was practically whining watching them, no doubt her own hormones getting the better of him. “You know wha’ fuckin’… fuckin’ sucks?” she shouted over the music in the living room.

“What sucks?” I asked.

“Fuckin’ Jacob is a no-show!” Lexi complained. I smirked. Jacob was Lexi’s most consistent ‘dick appointment,’ as she called them. Some lucky sophomore guy that looked and acted like a senior. No doubt he could get any girl he wanted, but he came with quite the appetite to every party he went to, so at this point, Lexi sought him out. The fact she clung to me in the kitchen was basically her way of confirming he either left the party early or was a no-show at this point.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” I joked. “Well, hey, you’re at a party, there are boys everywhere. Look at them!” I gestured to the couple. “That could be you. Just go out and… be bold!”

Lexi gave me a tired look. “Easy fer you ta’ fuckin’ say,” she slurred. “Girls jus’ fall into yer lap.”

“Well, a girl, but I guess I understand,” I replied with slight confusion.

“No, like, doin’ stuff with both Morgan and Taylor!” I froze as soon as she brought Taylor’s name up. “Like, I know iss like, jus’ blowjobs an’ eating her out ‘r whatever, but like… fuck, I would kill for that!!” She kept moving her arms around exaggeratedly as she spoke, but it wasn’t her hands she was slapping me in the face with at the moment.

Who the fuck…? Clearly this was recently told to her, otherwise she never would have said what she said to me at the clothes store. Milo. It had to be. For whatever reason, Milo felt the need to stick his neck out again. No one else even could have told Lexi. Without another word, I got up and started marching around the house with purpose, looking for Milo.

On the second floor, I found him, making out with some goth-looking girl against a wall. The wall was lined up with couples making out, like some sort of weird hazing ritual, but luckily, Milo was at the beginning of the line, so it was easy to see him in the crowd. The music was quieter here, so with a well-timed cough, then a “Milo,” I managed to get him to look up.

“Um… what?” he asked impatiently.

“Can we talk?” I asked annoyedly.

“Yeah, no,” he flatly replied.

“Lexi knows about the… Lexi knows stuff she shouldn’t,” I told him angrily.

“Good for Lexi,” he replied dismissively. “Can you leave me alone?”

“Did you tell her everything?” I demanded.

“I didn’t tell her anything, go ask her who told her. She won’t say me.” He stared me down for a few seconds. “If you’re angry, it’s not with me. This moment is kinda big for me. You can text me later, but… please?”

I calmed down, digesting his words. “Okay… okay. Sorry.”

“It’s cool.” He turned back to the goth girl he had pinned against the wall. “Where were we?” Without another word, the two resumed making out, forming one organism connected at the lips. He grabbed her leg and moved it around his waist, shoving his pelvis into hers. I shook my head and looked away, going back down the stairs.

If it wasn’t Milo, there were only two options, and I didn’t like either one. Actually, there was a third option – more people knew about Taylor and myself than I thought – and I didn’t much like that idea either.

My cup was empty, and I was nervous. Not knowing what else to do, I went to the kitchen, resolving to find Morgan once I had something more to drink. Sadly, the universe had other plans for me, as I didn’t notice until the sink was already running that there izmit sınırsız escort was only one other guy in the kitchen. Joel Lowry.

“Hey, Quinn,” he awkwardly piped up.

“Hi, Joel,” I replied, trying to keep my voice low and casual, though I knew it was shaking. “Enjoying the party?”

“Yup, are you?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“That’s good,” he replied, looking off.

“Anything… anything cool going on?” I asked.

“Nope, just living, just… y’know, living…” he trailed off. “You?”

“I mean, I’m here, yeah,” I replied. I was dying. “You okay? You seem… is something wrong?”

Joel looked back at me from wherever he was looking before. Eventually, he replied, “Nah, just tired. Might go home a bit early. You know, with Taylor.”

“I’m sure she’d appreciate that,” I replied, immediately not knowing if that was a faux pas or something.

Luckily, he seemingly wasn’t the hotheaded type. “I guess, yeah,” he flatly replied. “I’m gonna go look for her. Later.”

I breathed a sigh of relief as he left, taking a big gulp of water. It could have gone a lot worse, but that wasn’t fun. I had fun playing games in the basement, but this party was just a recipe for disaster. I shouldn’t have come to it.

Feeling woozy, I went back to the same couch again and plopped back onto it. Lexi was gone, but Crystal was within eyeshot, dancing to the music. So she was here too. I wondered if she saw Mitchell or something. I alternated between people-watching and resting with my head back on the couch until I felt something touching me.

I looked down to my lap to see legs being draped across my hips, resting at the edge of the couch. Sexy, confident legs. I looked back towards the source of those legs to see Taylor, sitting on the couch directly facing me, giving me a look I couldn’t quite place.

She leaned in close, smiling in a weird way. “Tonight’s the night,” she told me.

I paused. “What’s tonight, what are you talking about?”

Taylor’s smile only got bigger. She leaned in closer, and whispered in my ear, “Think of me when you do it.” she retracted, squeezing my shoulder as she gave a final smile, then got up and walked away as if nothing happened, leaving me feeling like a bundle of emotions.

Did that mean what I think it meant? But… I hadn’t seen Morgan all night. And we weren’t even at her place. And… think of Taylor? If it meant what I thought it meant, that was bold of Taylor. Like, uncalled-for bold. I remained on the couch, almost like I was under a spell this time. Something about what Taylor said affixed me to the couch, even though Crystal and eventually Milo came and went from the area around the couch. Eventually, Morgan came into view, and, uncharacteristically for her in public, smiled at me.

“Hey babe,” she greeted me, grabbing my hand and pulling me up. “Could I talk to you about something real quick? Nothing bad.”

My heart started pounding as I stood up. I felt my jeans getting tighter. This could be it. Either my imagination was running wild, or Taylor was lying, or… this was it. “Yeah,” I breathlessly told her as she led the way, guiding us both upstairs.

The wall was still adorned with actions of passion, with the flavor of the day being making out. It was an almost bizarre display of teenage passion, and I could do little but mindlessly follow Morgan’s lead as I was guided beyond the wall of lust, as we made our way to a hallway with several doors. I was throbbing by the time we passed the final couple in the hallway, and it wasn’t because I was being a voyeur.

She got to a door with a green label on the handle, and gingerly removed the label, opening the door and leading me in. She flicked on the lights and I could quickly gather this was a guest room or something. I looked around the room until I heard her close and lock the door, then looked at her in slight shock. Blushing, she smiled at me, this huge, nervous kind of smile.

I started breathing more heavily. After all this time. After making out, grinding, and performing oral on her over and over… “Tonight’s the night, huh?”

She was almost welling up, still smiling at me. “You felt it too, huh?” She practically ran forward and kissed me with such passion, I nearly fell back onto the bed.

I gave her a few kisses, then pulled away. Her crotch met mine, and she could definitely feel how hard I was. “But… here?” I asked. “Not at your place?”

She shook her head. “Parents are always there. Doug’s there. Doesn’t feel… big enough.”

I scoffed. “Yeah, speaking of…” I blushed. “You’ve been with-”

“Sssh,” she soothed me, reaching down and beginning to fondle me. “You’re everything I want. And I want you tonight. Right here, right now.”

I gazed into her eyes as she began to jack me off over my pants. “I want you too, Morgan,” I moaned.

“I want to be your first time,” she moaned back.

“I can’t imagine it being anyone but you,” I… said. Truthfully. I think. I shook my head slightly. The last thing I was going to do was debate hypotheticals at a time like this.

She smiled. “I’m so happy, Quinn,” she told me quietly, kissing me again. We got ourselves comfortable on the bed, barely stopping before trying to take up as much of the queen-size bed as we could, our tongues wrestling with each other. Our hands all over each other. My dick aching and begging to be set free. It wanted her. I wanted her. And tonight, I was finally going to claim her, after so long.

Morgan was a smartly dressed girl, but tonight she went with a long skirt and a cute blazer to match, and it was my pleasure to peel both off of her. I had eaten her out and worshiped her breasts enough times to make disrobing her easy. I could even get her bra off with one hand, something she found particularly sexy for whatever reason.

She was all too happy to reciprocate, taking my jacket off, then my t-shirt, then insisting on admiring my body before removing my pants and socks, giggling as she watched my cock throb and throb inside my underwear.

“You’re always so eager,” she murmured.

“You’re always so attractive,” I shot back.

We resumed making out with our underwear on, which led to me kissing and sucking her neck while working my hand inside of her underwear. I rubbed her clit in circles and lightly bit her neck, listening for her little moans and feeling every little squirm and spasm. Morgan was so eager for my touch, so needy. I would occasionally slow down and remove my head from her neck to look her in the eyes. She matched my look of desire with one of her own. She wanted me. She wanted me badly.

Eventually, both of us got up and removed our underwear, feeling the time was right. I smiled as I saw some of her juices clinging to her underwear. She was more than glistening, she was excited. I was going to get to fuck Morgan’s beautiful pussy. That was my fucking girlfriend right there, eager for me, begging for my cock inside her.

She bit her lip as she looked my body over, her eyes transfixed on my cock just as much as mine were on her pussy. “You look ready,” she commented, noting my precum.

“I could say the same for you,” I pointed out, making her smile again.

Her hands didn’t paw at my cock. Her eagerness didn’t outshine her experience. She knew exactly what she wanted, and she wanted me. “I don’t want to wait any longer,” she begged, grabbing a condom from the table. “I want you inside me.” She was moaning. “Please!”

I chuckled in desire, taking the condom and opening the package. I probably could have studied a bit more when it came to condoms, but after looking it over a bit, it was clear. Unravel from the outside-in. Easy.

I unraveled the condom on my dick and she watched for every second, with a soft delicate smile on her face. “I can’t believe…” she mumbled. “She looked up at me happily. “I’m so happy we’re finally doing this.”

My dick jumped. She was so sexy yet so… cute. Morgan Jones, the hardass of the group, the girl from the group most used to intimidating and being the assertive one, was being cute for me. Something about that made having sex with her so much sexier for me.

We got into position – missionary, to be specific – and kissed tenderly a few more times, before I lined my dick up with her slit, rubbing it up and down a few times. The condom was lubricated and her juices were definitely making things easier, but still, I couldn’t help but prolong it, almost out of nervousness.

Morgan was moaning, almost unconsciously. “Oh fuck, Quinn, I can’t wait, I’ve wanted this for so long,” she moaned. “Please, fuck me. Claim me.”

I nodded, grabbing myself by the shaft and easing it in slowly. Morgan started panting more heavily once she felt me enter her, and quivered when my pelvic bone met hers. I stayed there for a bit, the both of us looking each other in the eyes. I blinked a few times, feeling my eyes getting moist. She saw and gave a giggly exhale, smiling and pulling me down by the neck to kiss me. She hugged me, bringing me down to her shoulder, so we couldn’t see each other’s eyes, and whispered, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, yeah I am,” I admitted. “Just… feeling a lot.”

“Me too,” she told me softly. I pulsed inside her, and she panted in response. “Quinn, I… I love you.”

I felt my body tense, then release. My muscles contracted and released, like I was crying. She hugged me tighter as I realized I probably was crying, but it wasn’t like a sad cry. This just… felt so good. I was in heaven, with the one girl I truly wanted. Even with my tears, I started slowly moving my hips back and forth, and Morgan started moving her hips in tandem with me.

This was it. My first time. With Morgan. No judgment, even with me crying, just love and acceptance. This was the best thing, this was amazing. I was so happy. “I love you too,” I whispered back, and began to pump my hips in earnest and fill her with myself, learning on the job just how amazing sex felt, even with the condom on.

It was truly amazing. I wanted to do it every day. I wanted her every day. Morgan was making me go crazy, and even though I couldn’t see anything with the tears in the way, I was dedicated to making sure she enjoyed herself as much as possible. I picked up speed, going from slow gentle lovemaking to animalistic fucking.

Even with the condom, it was still my first time, and I became all too aware that I got close annoyingly quickly. Just as I started to truly fuck her, I started to slow down, and compensated for the slowing down with purposefully deep, rough strokes, as if it was my plan from the start. Eventually, the tears stopped enough that I could resume making out with her, also giving me a few precious seconds to recover enough to continue fucking her, and at a fast enough pace that Morgan was feeling ravaged, and claimed, just as she wanted.

And I wanted to claim her. Morgan’s little squeaks and moans were accentuated by every decision I made. As I took in the pleasure of the moment, I would grab her hair and experimentally yank, or bite into her neck a little harder than usual, or surprise myself with something like that. Each time, I wasn’t told off, but rather rewarded, each time with a guttural submissive sound I’d never heard Morgan make before.

“Fuck, I really like that…” Morgan moaned. “I… never… liked that… before…” She opened her eyes and they were practically rolled back into her head. “But… I think… I like it… with you…”

Hearing her say that spurred me on, and a thought I never thought would be mine popped into my head. “Do you trust me?” I breathed into her ear.

“Yesssss…” she purred.

“Could I try something… risky with you?” I asked, my voice quivering.

“Fuck yes,” she practically squeaked. “Worst I can… say is… stop doing it…” She was super into this, and clearly eager to see what I thought of. Clearly, she was less scared of it than I was, which only gave me more confidence to try it.

Here went nothing. Throwing caution to the wind, I wound my arm back and slapped my girlfriend across the face. Shock painted her entire face, accentuated by the long, thick thrusts my cock was giving her. She slowly closed her eyes and took in the feelings.

“That was…” she began in a small voice. “Wow, Quinn, I- fuck. Do it again. Sir.”

Holy shit. I had to slow down again just due to the shock alone. It was so hot. My assertive queen bee girlfriend, begging for me to slap her face again. And I was not about to disappoint her. Deciding to be fair to both sides of her face, I wound my other hand back and slapped her again, immediately getting rewarded with a low moan from her.

“Fuck yes, I’m your little bitch…” she moaned, to herself. Damn, she was a little freak.

Even though it was our first time, we experimented like that the entire time. I learned a few valuable things – don’t hit too close to the jaw or the ear, different angles for the palm or fingers being the contact point, supplement with kisses. It was so hot, and watching Morgan’s cheeks get redder as I kept fucking her was the hottest thing in the world.

I think we both knew when my orgasm arrived. My muscles stiffened, I started getting faster and I leaned away from slapping her and back into crying mode, with her coaxing me the whole time.

“You going to cum? Do it, babe. Do it, Quinn. Cum for me. Fill me. Flood me.”

Tears streamed down my face and I roared as I shot what felt like dozens of spurts into the condom, imagining filling Morgan up. I saw stars, both from exhaustion and feeling like Morgan was my key to the universe. She moaned and stroked up and down my arms as I unloaded inside her, with my roar eventually subsiding. I collapsed on top of her, with her stroking my hair.

Eventually, I got the strength to hoist myself up, looking into her eyes and breaking into a goofy grin. “S-sorry for crying,” I managed.

She kissed me deeply. “Do not apologize for what happened,” she ordered. “That was wonderful. The best first time I’ve had with any guy. I’d take the guy that cried over any other guy. No one made me feel half as good as that.” She paused and bit her lip. “And no one ever made me actually like getting slapped before.”

“Really?” I wasn’t exactly some expert at it. Hell, I was a novice who had a weird idea in the moment. How did I…?

Overthinking. Morgan said it felt good, so it felt good. I smiled at her, and kissed her again. “Can I say the thing I said while we were…?” I trailed off.

She laughed. “We said a lot of things there, Quinn,” she pointed out.

I nodded, and blushed. “I love you, Morgan,” I said emphatically.

She smiled. “I love you too,” she replied, kissing me again.

Taylor would have been disappointed. I didn’t think of her at all until after we were both fully dressed again.

***

I was shocked to find Kevin still in the living room when I stumbled back into the house.

“Hey, Kevin,” I practically sang to him. I was on Cloud Nine. The rest of the night was spent with Morgan, and I loved every second of it. “Are Mother and Father asleep?”

“Yup, they are,” he replied in a low-energy voice. “How was the party?”

“Amazing,” I replied honestly. “How was your night?”

He sighed, and turned to me with a morose smile, pausing his game. “Y’know Quinn, I really am so happy for you that you turned yourself around,” he began. “But man. I look at you, how you’re getting invited to parties and stuff, and I just… did I do something wrong?”

“What do you mean?” I asked, my tone losing its jovial nature. I sat down next to him, and he unpaused.

“Well, you didn’t care about getting in,” he noted. “You just happened to tutor one girl, get with her friend, and suddenly, you got an in to the Love party. I’m just feeling bummed, I guess.”

“Trust me, you didn’t miss much. Most of it was just needless drama and bad feelings,” I replied earnestly.

He laughed. “We both know that sounds up my alley,” he replied. “I dunno. I’m happy for you and all, but I can’t help but…”

I felt bad about it, but I broke into a grin. “Are you jealous of me?” I realized. “Oh, how the tables have turned.”

“I just feel like I dedicated myself to the wrong allegiances is all,” he noted. “What do you think? I mean, you’re kinda past me in the food chain at this point. You could even say I helped you. So, got any advice for me?”

I opened my mouth, then closed it. I thought to myself for a bit and let myself speak. “Well… I don’t think I could help you, but my friends could,” I began.

“How do you mean?”

“Well, when I was shopping, I talked to Morgan and Lexi about you.”

“Aw, they don’t count, they don’t like me,” he butted in.

“Well, exactly,” I pointed out. “They think you… saw high school as this… transactional thing. Like, it’s too much about allegiances, and not enough about people. They saw you as this brown-noser who wanted connections, and thought that whenever you felt you could benefit from being around them, they felt drained to be around you.”

“Like I’m a parasite? Jeez. And what did you say in my honor?” He asked, his mind on the game.

“I… don’t disagree,” I said gingerly. He paused the game. “Like, I get why they would feel like that. Maybe they need to see you as a person, not a businessman of clout or something, but I think you’ll need to put in effort too.”

Kevin looked at me for the longest time. “That’s how you see me?” he asked, clearly emotionally affected.

“It’s how they see you, and it makes total sense why they see it,” I corrected him. “They’re wrong, but… you could care more about them too.” I got up. “Maybe I could put in a good word for you and get you invited to a party or something, but if you want to be invited back, that might depend on how you treat people. Like people? Or like transactions.” I stood up. “Is it okay if I go to bed? I had a long day.”

Kevin watched me trudge off to our room. I hoped I hadn’t gone too far, but I really did want to see things get better, and this seemed like the best way to go about it. Before I got out of earshot, I heard Kevin call, “Quinn!”

I turned around. “Yeah?”

He looked at me with this half-mesmerized, half-offended smile. “…Who are you?” he asked with a lilt of humor in his voice.

I smiled back. “Changing, I think,” I joked back.

His smile got bigger and lost its offended look. “It suits you,” he replied back. “Morgan must be, uh… quite a girl.”

“She really is,” I replied, then turned back to walk to my room. That night, I’m pretty sure I hadn’t stopped smiling until after I fell asleep.

Chapter Fifteen

“Wow, you really hit her?” Taylor asked me, smiling in shock.

I nodded and looked down in slight embarrassment. Our legs dangled over the ledge as we talked, sitting side by side. “Yeah. She seemed to like- wait, I shouldn’t be telling you this.”

Taylor rolled her eyes. “Quinn,” she began. “Trust me, she’s told me a lot more.”

“Well, she liked it… rough…” I began hesitantly, rewarded with a nod. “And, I… don’t know… some part of it felt good to keep going. I just wanted to… I mean, yeah. I just wanted to.”

“Huh. Wow.” Taylor’s gaze was straight forward, not on me.

“What?”

“It’s nothing, it’s just…” Taylor trailed off, her voice getting softer. “I got exactly what I wanted.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, my voice gaining defensiveness. “What did you ‘want?’”

“Remember what I whispered to you, right before?” she quizzed me.

“I didn’t think of you until after we were fully clothed afterwards,” I asserted, telling her the truth.

Taylor just shook her head. “Quinn, you don’t get it. You weren’t hitting her.”

I stayed silent.

“You were hitting me.”

I awoke, breathing heavily, and immediately curled into a ball. For Kevin’s sake, I tried to keep any noises I could have made to a minimum, but I could feel myself shaking. I never shook before, even at my most upset.

She had to go and put the thought in my head. And I had to go and do that. Taylor really won here, didn’t she? At least Morgan cared. Fuck, Morgan never didn’t care. Why couldn’t our first time be normal? Why did I have to go and… and… be my own Taylor like that?

***

“I’m really sorry our first time was like that.”

It wasn’t the most romantic thing to blurt out while we were spooning, but it had been on my mind all day and we had just found our first comfortable pool of silence to lie in.

Morgan adjusted her head, but since she was being the little spoon, she couldn’t look me in the eyes. “Like what?”

“Do… do I really need to spell it out?” I asked gently.

She sighed. “Quinn, all guys don’t last long their first time. Don’t worry too much about it. We’ll practice and we’ll get better at it.” She stroked my clothed thigh up and down as she said her last sentence, trying to reassure me.

“Oh wow, I do need to spell it out,” I replied shakily.

“Oh shit,” Morgan replied immediately, realizing she assumed wrongly. “I’m sorry.”

“No, it’s fine. I meant the… hitting thing.”

She didn’t say anything for a while, then shifted so she was looking at me. I could see the seriousness on her face. “What’s wrong?”

I sighed and looked away. “I think that-”

“Look at me while you talk,” she asserted.

“No,” I immediately replied. “This is difficult. I can’t handle both looking at you and saying it.”

“Okay,” she agreed. “Go ahead. I won’t interrupt.”

“I think that… I feel as though… the weirdness between us reached… a kind of apex during our first time. And I don’t mean, like, between you and I. I mean the whole group. How we got together, the friends, Taylor, everything. And-”

“Okay, can I interrupt just once?” she asked.

“Well, you did,” I replied grumpily, wanting to carry on with my point.

“Just, real quick. What’s an apex?”

“Oh, it’s like the big point, the climax of a story, the peak.”

“Okay, that’s all I needed to know, go ahead,” she replied quickly.

“So, anyways… um… right, so it reached an apex, and I kind of regret the choices I made in hindsight. I, uh…” I shut my eyes. “I had a dream last night where Taylor and I were talking. I don’t know if this is good that I’m even telling you this, but in the dream Taylor let me know that when I was hitting you… I was actually hitting her.”

I paused for a long time. Enough time that Morgan felt the need to finally say something. “Well… you weren’t having sex with her. You were having sex with me.”

“No, you don’t get it,” I responded. “Like, I was hitting her. I was angry at her or something. Like I’m still angry for… feeling used. Even though I wanted it back then, just knowing how good we have it now, I think I felt angry at her, and I took it out on you, and you don’t deserve that, and I’m really sorry Morgan…” I couldn’t help it. I was crying again. My face hit the bedsheet and Morgan’s hand went to the back of my head, supporting me.

“Can you still hear me if I talk?” she asked in an emotionless voice.

I nodded into the blanket, still sobbing.

“Okay. This is a lot to process, but first, I think you’re overthinking it a little. We were in bed, I was responding to you being a little rough with me, you wanted to keep making it bigger. I think that’s normal for – please don’t take offense to this – a novice at sex. I get it if you feel weird about that being our first time. I definitely feel weird about it too. I didn’t dream about Arin telling me some ultimatum or something.”

“Who’s Arin?” I asked into the blanket.

“A fucking asshole,” she answered plainly, with no emotion. “An ex. Well, an ‘ex.’ I don’t wanna talk about him. Forget I said his name. I did think our first time was odd, but I also didn’t think it was, like, dangerously odd.”

“I hit you!” I protested, lifting my head up to look her in the eyes.

She raised an eyebrow. “I know. I felt it, you know. And you know what I felt? Care. Quinn, you didn’t slap me hard, you kept asking about what felt the best, and you’d occasionally stop to cry and call me beautiful.”

I felt my cheeks go red. “Uhm…”

“You’re adorable, Quinn. And I like you that way. I don’t know how toxic you felt you were, but you weren’t. Maybe this is my fault, since I have more experience. I should have insisted our first time be more vanilla, but you were enjoying yourself, and I-” She mumbled something I couldn’t hear.

“What was that?” I asked.

She rolled her eyes. “I like when you dominate me,” she replied with a huff. “I like being dominated, and I especially like having a guy who’s emotional but also, like, rational in the real world, then he feels comfortable being a different guy and dominating me in the sex world.”

My tears had stopped by this point. “We probably should have had this discussion before our first time,” I admitted out loud.

“I actually don’t agree,” she replied. “Quinn, we can’t have a debrief before every big event we share together. You will need to learn that as we do more as a couple. It’s okay to be spontaneous, and you know what else? It’s okay to regret. Maybe you don’t like slapping me, because it reminds you of Taylor or something. Though, I’m, uh, not going to say that isn’t weird. I didn’t like hearing that you made it about her afterwards.”

“It’s not that it reminds me of – I…” I paused. “Forget I ever said that part.”

“I don’t think I can. It’s probably going to be on my mind a bit more,” she replied.

“So is Arin, but you asked me to forget him, so I’m at least going to pretend like I forgot,” I replied boldly.

She smirked slightly. “Alright, you got me there,” she admitted. “Anyway, you can slap me if you want. I enjoyed it.” She blushed. “You actually have really good technique for a first-timer. But if you never slap me again, I’ll understand.”

“I think I just wish I could have my first time with you all over again,” I admitted.

She cupped my face in her hands. “You can’t,” she softly told me. “It happened already. You experienced it, you hopefully enjoyed it, and you learned about yourself from it. You can live with that, right?”

I smiled, though sadly. She saw the look in my eyes and let go of my face, turning away. “Look, I’m really trying here. I tell you it’s okay to do it and it’s okay not to do it. I don’t get what else you want from me. I don’t have a time machine.”

“I don’t know what I want,” I admitted.

“I don’t think that’s true either.”

“Well, since you know me better than I know myself, why don’t you tell me what I want? I blurted out. She turned back, hurt in her eyes, and I immediately caved. “Sorry,” I mumbled. “I don’t like being told my feelings. I don’t like being… spoken for.”

Neither of us spoke for a bit. “I can tell you a theory I have for what you want, and you can tell me if I’m right or wrong,” she added quietly. “If that’s okay with you.”

“Yes, that’s okay. I’m sorry for raising my voice,” I replied, just as quietly.

“You want us to pretend to have our first time all over again and make it more normal and less violent. Am I close?”

I paused to consider my own feelings and slowly gave a big dumb sheepish smile. “You’re, uh, dead on,” I admitted.

She didn’t smile though. “I don’t want to do that,” she told me flatly. “I’m okay if our second time is more vanilla or whatever the term is, but I don’t want us to pretend our first time didn’t happen. It’s childi- no, sorry, not that, but it’s unrealistic. Let’s just accept that we did stuff, even if that stuff made you realize you want to do other stuff. Painting over stuff like that is exactly what leads to the exact kind of drama you keep complaining that our group does.”

She let her words breathe for a bit, though when she saw I didn’t reply, she continued with, “and rightfully so. I don’t mean to say, like, ‘stop complaining about our drama,’ I’m just saying-”

“No no, I get you,” I said in a calm voice. “It’s a fair point. I, uh…” I stared at her for a bit, and she stared back intently. “Fuck words,” I concluded, moving in for a soft kiss. With her first smile in too long painting her face, she accepted it, kissing me back.

After a few kisses, I pulled my face back and smiled at her. “I really care about you, Morgan,” I told her meaningfully.

She gave me a playfully confused smile. “I know you do, Quinn,” she told me with a laugh, as if it was obvious. “I care about you too.”

“I just… I dunno, I just feel really strong right now,” I admitted, blushing a bit.

“You feel strong?”

I giggled in nervousness. “Like, for you.”

She smiled back. “You really want that second time, don’t you?” she asked, the grin still on her face.

My blush only got redder. “I mean… it’s been on my mind…” I admitted.

“Remember when we were first starting to talk to each other, and I said I’d like that, but I’d like you to…?” She trailed off.

Initiate. I did remember that. “Crazy how that was only a few months or so ago,” I admitted softly.

“If that,” she agreed.

My blush was definitely not gone. I smiled despite myself. “Hey, uh, kiss me,” I replied with faux confidence.

She giggled and leaned in, with the both of us kissing passionately from the get-go. It wasn’t even anything we said, but just what we felt. Both of us felt so comfortable with each other. It felt so right. In no time at all, we were both lying down, with me on top of her, making out with deep need and desire. If we weren’t making out, I was kissing and sucking on her neck, no doubt leaving marks, and grinding up against her, while Morgan panted, occasionally whimpered, and lightly ground back.

As my passion grew, the little voice in my head that told me to do more grew as well. I became bolder and bolder, eventually biting down on Morgan’s neck between kisses and licks, until eventually I heard, “Ah! Easy,” from her.

Even though I kept kissing her neck, I realized I was quickly falling into the same trap. I wanted to do more, and grew too desperate to do something physical.

I smiled. That’s why I slapped her. It was this primal need to do more and be more physical. It had nothing to do with Taylor. I slapped her because it felt physical and primal, and I did it on autopilot. I just liked Morgan so much it made me go into overdrive. I had my answer, and it was a good one.

I came back up from Morgan’s neck and smiled at her, clearly more enthusiastically than she expected, because she chuckled and raised her eyebrows.

“What’s up?” she inquired.

“I’m just so happy I’m with you,” I told her, not wanting to bring this, or especially Taylor, up during our foreplay. I felt tears come to my eyes again. “You’re just really beautiful, and I’m really happy.”

A tear fell to her shirt. Her eyes followed it and looked at the stain, and both of us looked at each other and started laughing. “Could you get off of me a sec? If you’re going to get this all wet, I’m going to take this off,” she said, ending her sentence with a little teasing lilt to her voice.

“Well, if that’s your reasoning, then you should probably take off your pants too,” I quipped at her.

“Ha, nice,” she replied, giving me a sly sideways smirk. “Well, since you seem to want me to…” She started taking her pants off, then hesitated. “But then again, why am I the only one taking stuff off?”

I grabbed the hem of my shirt and began taking it off. “Oh, you want me to match you?” I teased. I raised my shirt just a little, feeling a little silly, but nevertheless, showing off my abdomen to her.

Even while taking off her pants, she looked intently at me. “Mhm,” she hummed teasingly. “I do.”

Slowly lifting my shirt, I decided to tease her back. “I’ll get the shirt, but why don’t you help me with the pants?” I asked with fake innocence.

Morgan smiled and shook her head in an ‘Oh, Quinn’ way at me. With her pants now off, she walked slowly up to me, the both of us shirtless, and slowly sank to her knees. She reached out in front of her, and trailed her eyes up from my fly up to my face. I looked back at her and felt her hands at the front of my pants, leisurely groping me without making any attempt to touch my fly itself.

In response, I gripped her head with both hands and, improvising, scratched behind her ears. At first she gave a confused chortle but quickly changed her tune.

“Woah,” she purred. “That actually feels super nice.”

I lightly scratched and petted behind her ears for a bit longer and she closed her eyes, enjoying the sensation, as her hands happily massaged my growing cock. Before long, I was at full mast, with Morgan eagerly aware of this fact. She opened her eyes and popped open my fly, smiling and moving my pants and underwear down to my ankles with zero subtlety.

“Get them off,” she told me with a wink, getting up and going back to the bed.

“Now look who’s ordering who!” I noted. “Your bra and panties are still on too.”

“And whatever will you do about that, Quinn?” Morgan asked me, getting on all fours on the bed, facing away from me. Teasing me, she wiggled her butt at me as I kicked my pants to the side.

Deciding that her subtlety and attention to pacing should be rewarded and matched, I practically leapt forward, yanking her underwear down like a prankster, only pranksters didn’t stop to appreciate the person’s pussy after doing so.

I’m sure Morgan expected me to fuck her immediately when she got on the bed, but clearly, from her moaning as soon as my tongue made first contact, she was not complaining. Something about eating her out from behind was so hot, and I couldn’t resist the temptation to start jacking myself off when I got really into it and was practically burying my face between her cheeks, savoring every lick almost as much as she was.

“Hey!” I heard her practically moan. “I see you. Hands off, that’ll be my job,” she joked. I would have smiled if my mouth wasn’t already busy. Morgan was the type of girl gifted with the perfect pussy – picturesque, inviting, and visibly excited. She even tasted better than Taylor, my only other frame of reference. I figured pussy was pussy, but nope, eating Morgan’s even just felt better on its own, though that paled in comparison to the person it was a part of. I would have eaten Morgan any time she wanted no matter what she tasted like, and it helped that her taste didn’t put me off at all. In fact, I bet I learned to love the taste, but that was because the taste was reminding me of Morgan.

My love, Morgan.

I retracted my face, not being able to wait any longer, and readjusted myself. “From behind?” I asked huskily, starting to rub my dick against her labia.

She paused. “Actually…” she trailed off, flipping herself over. She moved so her back was on the bed, and smiled at me. “It would be nice to see your eyes, if that’s alright,” she cooed quietly. She looked so excited and happy there. I thought about the Morgan I met, the serious joyless girl who never smiled. Now, she smiled all the time. For me.

God, I felt so strongly for her. Smiling back, I aligned myself with her help and slowly slid in, feeling her walls close around me. It felt right, it felt like I was truly whole. Truly a person. She completed me.

I breathed with difficulty, thrusting my hips back and forth slowly a few times to accommodate us. “You… are so amazing…” I managed, my eyes closed, now very aware of what Morgan talked about. I was crying and felt the urge to babble.

“Could you open your eyes and look at me?” she asked, her own breathing labored. “I like seeing this…” I opened my eyes, definitely feeling a tad embarrassed, but less so when I saw her eyes.

I didn’t know if it was sympathy or something affecting us both, but her eyes were misty too. Upon seeing I’d noticed, her smile got bigger. “Yeah,” she confirmed, both of us chuckling to one another, even with me still thrusting in and out of her. I saw her shed a tear and it streamed down her face at the same time my second tear hit the skin of her neck. It felt comforting to see.

“You’re such a crybaby,” I joked, and the two of us laughed again. “But yeah, are you okay?”

“As okay as you are,” she murmured back with a smile. I leaned down and kissed her, gathering speed in my thrusts. Before long we were moaning together and both working our hips in a perfect harmony, my hands too occupied holding my body up to even think about thrusting.

I thought that I would get self-conscious from looking her in the eyes, but something made it really… okay. Nice, even. We never looked away except for brief periods where we’d readjust or she would close her eyes and throw her head back for a bit or something. Apart from that, we just enjoyed each other’s company, and enjoyed the sounds, smells, and looks of each other.

She was magical. I didn’t feel weird for crying anymore. Now it just felt sweet. Right. And even though we didn’t get super heated and physical like last time, it felt just as passionate. We still worked up a good rhythm and I was probably giving it to her as fast and deep as last time, but it felt more tender, more coupley. Interestingly, it made the other sex also feel more valid in retrospect.

I could see myself enjoying getting physical with her knowing she enjoyed it, like we were roleplaying as more extreme people or something. But I also really loved this. And I didn’t have to choose a preference. We were living in a world where we could choose how we felt and I could slap her, or I could tenderly give it to her and kiss her or something. I was in heaven, and based on the sounds she was making, so was she.

Too quickly, I could feel my balls tightening and my dick get more sensitive in that way I recognized. I started panting harder and did my best to warn Morgan, then opened my eyes and realized that I totally did not put on a condom. With zeptoseconds to spare, I pulled my dick out of her and immediately began shooting my load right above her pussy, with her still reacting from the sharp and jarring force of me exiting her to notice immediately.

A flash of pain then anger ripped through her eyes, until she adjusted and looked at the pool of cum on her. “Oh fuck!” she gasped in realization. “We were – you were -”

“I am so sorry, I totally forgo-”

“No no, I’m sorry, I forgot to-”

We spoke over each other for a bit, panting, then let out a soft chuckle together. “We both forgot,” Morgan asserted.

“Yeah,” I replied.

“Good thinking pulling out when you did, I guess,” she replied. “Most guys would not have realized that. And I bet most of the guys who would have realized that would have wanted to cum inside anyway.”

“What?!” I replied in genuine disbelief. “B-but you’ve outlined that you don’t want me to cum inside you! That’s like a hard line for you. I felt bad for forgetting the condom in the first place! Who could be so selfish and just say fuck your feelings like that?”

Morgan grinned tiredly at me. “Hey look, it’s why I’m dating you,” she replied smugly, closing her legs and rummaging her middle finger in the pool of cum I shot on her. Winking at me, she brought her finger to her lips and slowly licked it off.

I nearly moaned. “Wow, fuck,” I mumbled.

“I can’t believe it,” she mused, looking at her finger. “You were inside me. Nothing between us. God, that’s sexy.” She realized the words she was saying and sat up, at least as much as she could without letting the cum pool run down her stomach and make a mess on the bed. “But, like, we need to be more careful. No offense, hope you enjoyed that, we shouldn’t do that again for a while.”

“Oh yeah, of course,” I readily agreed. “But, uh… wow. You… feel good.”

“You feel good too,” she quickly replied. “Fuck, now I know how good it feels. This almost sucks.”

“Hey, it’s about to run down your stomach,” I pointed out, gesturing to my deposit on her skin. “Do you want a towel or something?”

“Uh, yeah, sure, thanks,” she replied. Quickly, I got up and got one for her, and watched her wipe it off while standing over the bed, looking at her.

“You are so sexy,” I murmured. “And so beautiful.” I turned away. “Fuck.”

She chuckled. “Careful, big guy, you’re starting to sound obsessed,” she teased. “You need to control yourself when I come over for dinner, you know.”

The dinner. Fuck. I forgot about that. Mother demanded Morgan needed to come by for dinner soon and that she was tired of only hearing of her and never meeting her, and Morgan being Morgan, she readily agreed with my mother the first time I brought it up. I wasn’t sure if I was more terrified of Mother disliking Morgan, or of them perfectly getting along. And every day, that moment of Morgan meeting Mother was getting closer and closer. I groaned, raking my fingers over my face, looking away from her.

She heard me and chuckled. “Hey, I’m looking forward to it. You met my parents like a dozen times. We nearly got caught by them onc-”

“I remember, thanks,” I cut in, feeling myself blush.

“Hey, if they’re home now, we’re probably going to get the talk tonight,” she pointed out. “I told you doing anything at my place is a risk. Frankly I wish we could have done it today. It’s high time we started hanging out at your place more.”

Given her disdain for Kevin, I was amazed she was looking forward to coming to my house even once, let alone more often in general. Though, of course, it wasn’t Kevin I was worried about.

***

The entire time we drove to my place from Morgan’s was valuable. I couldn’t waste a single second. Anything I didn’t tell her could have been ammunition my family could use against us.

“…And unless you have a really good reason, like an allergy, don’t refuse anything they serve you,” I continued. “The rudest thing you can do in Chinese culture is deny food that has been cooked for you. Like, you could spit in someone’s face and it would be less rude.”

“Alright, alright,” Morgan soothed me. “But I serve myself anyway, right?”

“Everything but the tea,” I confirmed, nodding.

“Is there going to be a test on Monday?” Morgan joked. I could hear Doug laugh from the front seat.

“Trust me, it’s important to know this sort of stuff up front,” I insisted. “Okay, so, you know the stereotype about the Chinese mother? You know, like, the overbearing, really-cares-about-the-rules, strict Chinese Mother?”

“I know, I know, I won’t be stereotypical,” she said with a relaxing voice. “I get that your mother isn’t actually like that.”

“Oh no. She is. She one hundred percent is,” I quickly and emphatically said, while Morgan’s face turned to bafflement. “Like, this particular stereotype? Totally true. Painfully true. Like, she’s the mom the stereotype is based on.”

Morgan smiled at me and adjusted the button-up shirt my parents insisted I wear for the day. “That’s fair for you to say, you’re their son, you would see your parents like that,” she replied calmly. She gave me a serious look and added, “And let’s be real, I can handle her. You know me.”

“God, I hope you can,” I replied.

***

I was a bit nervous bringing Morgan into our apartment in the first place. Morgan came from one of those white affluent families that owned a home. The kind of home that had white walls and things made from wood on the walls, and towels everywhere. And the home always smelled like air fresheners. I had no clue what our place smelled like, but it probably smelled like our home cuisine with low notes of cigarette smoke from the building.

To her credit though, when she walked in I didn’t detect even an accidental look of belittlement or snootiness, at least not until she looked at Kevin. It lasted for less than a second, and she swiftly recovered, smiling at him as he quickly made himself the first one to greet us.

“Morgan!” he greeted her, attempting to go in for a hug, which Morgan quickly made into a handshake. “Good to see ya. Been hearing a lot about you from, uh, Quinn here. Only good stuff of course.” Finishing the handshake, he glanced at my shirt and snorted a laugh. “Nice shirt. Who made you dress in it?”

“Go to hell, Kev,” I told him with a mostly annoyed tone, though I could appreciate the humor. I probably would have told him the same thing.

“Already here, and Morgan, may I say, welcome to it. Fifth circle, if you’re interested.” He looked off to the hallway. “I think Mother and Father are in their room, I’ll go let them know.” He gave my shirt a once-over again. “And seriously, bit late to make her think you’re gay, don’t you think?” He slapped me on the shoulder then went down the hallway.

Morgan watched him leave, then looked back at me, releasing a giggle when she saw my face. “Hey,” she said to get my attention. “For what it’s worth, he tried putting the moves on Crystal last year and failed miserably. You got a girl from our group, and he didn’t.”

“He didn’t hurt her, did he?” I immediately asked. “Like, he was respectful, right?”

Her look turned to one of bewilderment. “How do you always care so much?” she asked, half surprised, half in admirement.

“I care as much as you. You’re just better at tastefully hiding it,” I replied. She might have smiled, but my parents turned the corner, and rightfully, her attention was on them.

Mother put on a big politician smile for Morgan as soon as she saw her. My dad also put on a polite smile, but stayed more silent than my bombastic mother.

“Ahh, Morgan!” She turned to me. “This is Morgan, yes?” I nodded, and she turned back. “It is so good to finally meet you!” She extended her hand.

“Mrs. Shen, it’s good to finally meet you too,” Morgan replied, gladly shaking her hand, though I was nervous if she was gripping too tight. Morgan shook Father’s hand too, being equally gracious to him.

“Ah!” Mother held her arms up in glee. “We were so happy to hear you were coming… we got a little something for you!” She quickly darted into the kitchen area and produced a box of green tea. “We did not have time to wrap it, I’m sure you understand…”

I swallowed hard. Did Morgan remember what I told her?”

“Oh no Mrs. Shen, I couldn’t possibly accept this…” Morgan replied in an almost overly gracious voice.

I exhaled quietly. She did remember.

Mother shot me a look, clearly getting what was going on. “Ah, did Quinn here train you what to do?” Holding the box in one hand, she used her other hand to dismissively wave at the air. “Bah, come now. No need to be such a měiguó guǐzi, there is no need to be so formal.”

Kevin and I shot each other a look, and Father seemed surprised too. Luckily, Morgan was the only one that didn’t understand the extent of what Mother had said, though, it was clear she was waiting for someone to fill her in. You could hear a pin drop at that moment.

“Uh, Mother…” Kevin butted in. “That’s not really a… that’s not something you should say,” he said, as delicately as possible.

Mother, interestingly, had a warm smile on her face, as if she just said anything but what she just said. “Ah, come now. It was a joke! Come now, you take it, yes? It’s getting heavy. We can pretend you declined twice like Quinn here taught you.”

Morgan was clearly caught off guard, but recovered quickly and took the box, with both hands, thanking her. “It’s very kind of you, Mrs. Shen. And, of course, I got something for you too.”

Morgan reached into the bag she brought along and produced a small package of her favorite candies, wrapped in red. The red wrapping was my idea, as was the necessity of getting the host a gift, but the candy was entirely Morgan’s idea, and credit to her, she didn’t question it, but came up with the idea immediately.

Mother’s eyes scanned over the package, and she smiled slyly. “You listened well when Quinn told you what to do,” she told Morgan as if it were a joke.

Morgan shrugged, still holding the gift. “He told me a few things to keep in mind, but I just wanted to show thanks.”

“And should I play my part and refuse the gift a few times?” Mother asked in her usual tone.

Morgan shrugged again. “If you’d like.”

“Well! In that case, I could never accept, no,” Mother said with theatricality.

Kevin had slid over to my side at this point. “DEFCON what? Three? Two?” he joked.

“You ever seen her act like this?” I whispered back.

“No, but I never brought my friends with benefits back to the house, so I guess this is a first for her,” he replied, half-jovially, half-serious. By the time we looked back, Mother had accepted the gift, and their conversation had progressed some.

Just in time for her not to notice our whispering, Mother turned to me. “She is very polite, very polite!” she said happily, probably missing how rude she herself was being in the process.

“Yes, I’m very lucky,” I replied earnestly.

“Mm, yes yes, very lucky,” Mother replied hurriedly. “Come, help set the table.”

“Morgan, perhaps you, uh, be so good to come to the living room?” Father asked. He knew slightly less English than the rest of us, and never spoke English if he could help it, but clearly wanted to put on a good front for Morgan, possibly especially after Mother’s… interesting choice of words. It was actually sweet to see him take initiative like that, and I could hear them chatting as I set the table.

Father was actually the more lenient and less traditionalist of our family, and I could hear him asking Morgan a few things about school and marveling, instead of belittling, any differences from his own time in high school, though Kevin would occasionally cut in to point out his own high school experience was like Morgan’s, and that Father already knew most of these things. I snuck a few looks at Mother and didn’t see any genuine bother on her face – I couldn’t tell if she was being passive-aggressive, or if something else was going on.

After the table was set, Mother wanted to put the finishing touches on a few things, and I was encouraged to go to the living room and be with Morgan. She, no surprise, was being quite charismatic, and clearly won Father’s approval, as well as Kevin’s, though Kevin, for better or for worse, could see the good (and the use) in anyone.

The only thing that brought me out of the conversation was the vibration of my phone. Frowning in confusion, I took out my phone to see what had set it off. It turned out, Lexi sent me a text.

Hey cutie 😉

The first thing I felt was nervous. Morgan was right next to me. What would she have done if she saw?? I didn’t want to glance in her direction! Shit, here of all places too! Fuck! What if she got the wrong impression? Hell, what if she got the right one?

Thinking with the speed of a supercomputer, I decided to calm down and own it. I loudly sighed while looking straight at the screen, in a way that definitely would have captured Morgan’s attention. Knowing she saw the message, I glanced up at her with half-closed annoyed eyes.

Coming the closest to smiling since she arrived (aside from smiling at my parents out of politeness), Morgan gave me a shrug. “She sounds needy tonight,” she joked. “What a shame you’re occupied, guess you can’t keep her company.”

There was something in Morgan’s tone I couldn’t quite place, though of course Kevin also had his own opinions about what she said. “Who’s needy? What?”

“A friend of ours,” Morgan replied coolly. “Oh right, you know everyone. Lexi. She messaged him asking if he was busy today.”

“Ah,” Kevin replied. “Well, guess we should call the dinner off so you can see her, huh? Well, goodbye Morgan, good seeing you.”

“What?” Father asked, looking around.

“Kevin is making a joke about me leaving to spontaneously hang out with another friend,” I explained to Father in Mandarin.

Father still looked confused, albeit for different reasons now. I looked at him, then at Kevin, then back to my phone, then at Morgan.

It was going to be a long night.

***

Morgan tapped the table as Mother refilled her tea. It was downright impressive how much she remembered to do. I told her all of those things hoping she’d remember maybe a tenth of those things. I guess I got so used to Taylor not remembering much that Morgan was a breath of fresh air. Not that I should have compared the two, at anything. Ever.

“So, Morgan,” Father began with a new conversation. “How much money do you make?”

Morgan’s eyes slightly bugged at the suddenness of the question. As much as I coached her, I guess “be ready for bluntness” wasn’t on my bingo card.

“Um, I’m actually between jobs now,” she replied, kind of quietly. “I just finished school after all, and I move to college in the near future, so it doesn’t make sense to look for a job just to drop it in, like, a month.”

Father nodded along, understanding, or at least pretending to. “Ah, I see, very good,” he commented.

“Now, you’re lucky,” Kevin replied casually. “I already had a job, so I probably gotta stick with it all the way until I’m outta here. I could have opted to enjoy my summer, but there were a few, uh, extraneous circumstances of a maternal nature that hindered the likelihood of such an occurrence.”

I glanced over at Mother, who was eating her food. Kevin played his cards well.

Morgan nodded. “I get that. I have a few similar circumstances, though they seem to be more… predictable.”

“Predictable, yes,” Father replied, nodding along. Bless him. This was probably the most he talked all month. “Ah – you said you were going to college? What were you thinking of doing?”

Here we go, I thought to myself. “Kinesiology,” Morgan replied.

Father stared at her blankly. “Studying human movement,” she embellished, and Father’s look only got more confused.

I took over. “It is the study of how our bodies move, so she will probably end up with a career related to fitness or health sciences,” I told him in Mandarin.

“Hey Quinn,” Morgan told me patiently. “I got it, don’t worry.”

Mother smirked at Morgan when she heard that. “Ah, Quinn,” she piped up. “I thought I raised you better to speak over your girlfriend!”

I didn’t even know what to say. “You did, Mother. I’m sorry,” I replied, my brain on default.

“Thank you Mrs. Shen, but it’s not that big a deal,” Morgan replied, also with a new tone. “Quinn and I communicate openly like this all the time. We tell each other our feelings as they come, and we both try to adjust our behavior as best as we can.”

Kevin snorted a laugh and made a whipping sound and gesture in his seat between bites.

Morgan dropped her chopsticks to her plate in thought, never looking at Kevin, never losing her faux thoughtful tone. “Y’know, if I think about it, some people might think that’s a bad thing that we do, but I suspect those people are just teens that have never been in a healthy relationship before.”

Kevin immediately lost his humorous look.

“It’s actually really nice. He’s helped me grow a lot as a person. He’s helped me with a few bad habits I never even knew I had,” she continued. “But if I did it in a weird way this time, I’m sorry, Quinn.”

I smiled at her. “Nah, you were fine, s-sweetheart,” I replied, only nervous because I was calling her that in front of my family. “I love that you’re so thoughtful like that, and I like hearing your feelings. It’s why I trust you so much.”

“What is this, a therapy commercial?” Kevin asked with annoyance. “You’re making a point. We get it.”

“I don’t get it,” Father added.

“Bì zuǐ,” Mother grumbled, then smiled at Morgan. “It is nice you both are so happy.”

“Thank you!” Morgan replied with a warm tone but no smile. “I think it’s nice too. I’m really lucky.”

When she went to reach for her chopsticks to resume eating, Morgan accidentally bumped the table. “Ah, bù hǎoyìsi,” she said, as casually as anything, with perfect pronunciation.

Everyone looked at her, then at me. My mouth was hanging open in disbelief. I never taught her a word of Mandarin.

***

“So this is your room, huh?” Morgan asked as she looked around. “It’s cozy.”

“You know what I need to ask you,” I replied, closing the door.

Morgan whirled around to look at me, an innocent look on her face. “Me?”

“Who taught you to say sorry like that? I sure didn’t,” I pressed on.

She shrugged. “You know. Just one of those things.”

“What was that you said at dinner about open communication?” I asked humorously.

“Ooh, good move,” she teased back, a small smile on her face. “Remember how I went to the bathroom right before dinner? I Googled it.”

“Okay, so… why?”

“I wanted to have a few small things memorized in case I needed to say it.”

“What do you mean by ‘needed to say it?’”

Her voice dropped to a whisper. “I just wanted to have something I could hold over your fucking mom.”

A triumphant smile grew on my face, but Morgan just rolled her eyes. “You win, she got under my skin, I’ll admit it,” she said bitterly, still whispering despite the closed door. “I mean, what? Was I not being polite?”

“I told you, I’m pretty sure it’s just a… a ‘she’s not Chinese’ thing.”

“We’re in America. Like no one here is Chinese. You’re not Chinese,” she insisted.

“Well, yeah, but that’s how I view it. She views it as, ‘we just happen to live in America.’ But under her roof…”

“The landlord’s roof,” she corrected me.

“Wow, thanks – she rules, and she rules by tradition. I think she was expecting you not to respect things at all so she could gloat.”

“So… I take the time to learn all of the polite things to do, so she points out how I learned them from you and didn’t, like, know them inherently, and gloats anyway?!”

I shrugged. “Basically. Welcome to the family.”

“Ugh,” Morgan complained, flopping down onto my bed. “At least Kevin was nicer than I expected. And hey, I put in effort too.”

I smiled. “That was you putting in effort?”

She looked at me and lowered an eyebrow. “That was me putting in effort but also matching whatever level of positivity he gave me with my own,” she asserted.

“You’re cute when you’re mad,” I teased.

“If I’m so cute, kiss me,” she countered.

I chuckled and walked over to the bed, pulling her up by her shirt and kissing her. We softly kissed for a few seconds and broke away, with her looking around the room.

“I couldn’t ever fucking imagine sharing a room with Doug,” she said with disgust. “Where’s your privacy?”

“Very non-existent,” I admitted. “You just get used to it, I guess.”

“Well, I don’t, but I’m a may-go gooitsee,” Morgan joked lightly.

I turned pink. “Yeah, sorry about that.”

“Don’t be. I have no clue what it means. I can guess. Maybe don’t tell me though, it’s probably best that I can only guess,” she replied flatly.

“Anyway, yeah, usually Kevin is in this room with me, and he’s almost always in the house, or at least he was until he started working,” I finished the thought.

“So how do you… you know…?” Morgan made a vague jacking off motion.

I chuckled. “Blunt.”

“I’m full of surprises,” she quipped.

“Um, to be honest, I really didn’t start until this year,” I answered honestly. “And when I did start, I had to plan around when Kevin had plans. I know he started way before, though. I used to, uh, catch him, and-”

“Gross. TMI,” Morgan urgently cut in, pushing me away with her hand. I laughed, then joined her on the bed. She pulled out her phone and started to casually text, so I awkwardly did the same, realizing that I only texted Lexi back a few times. “Oh, right,” I murmured aloud.

“What?”

“Oh, just, Lexi. She asked what I was up to and I kiiinda forgot to answer.”

I could hear Morgan chuckle in her throat. “Get ready for her to be pissed with you for the next four hours.”

“Great,” I replied. “And I swear I’m not imagining it, she’s being way flirtier with me lately. Like, I know you don’t see it as a big deal, but I feel like I should communicate with you about this. It’s, like, to that extent.”

Morgan put her phone away and sat up on the bed. “Yeahhhh,” she sighed. “Remind me, we need to have a talk about that when we get back.”

“So you’re finally going to talk to her about it?” I asked.

“…So if I had something to say, would here be the best place to bring it up?” she asked me.

“Um, if you’re going to phrase it like that, yes, I’m just going to worry until you tell me,” I admitted. “We can take the chance that Kevin has his ear against the door or something.”

“Yeah, fair enough, that’s my bad,” she casually said, getting up off the bed and stretching. She walked calmly over to the door and opened it super quickly in one swift motion. Upon seeing no Kevin, she shut the door, satisfied. “Can’t be too careful.”

“Honestly, I don’t blame you.”

“Okay, so…” She sat back down on the bed and drummed her fingertips on her thighs in thought. “Lexi… Lexi approached me already about whether it was cool with me if she could, y’know, do stuff with you.”

“She what?!” I asked, taken off guard. “Wait, she what?!”

Morgan only nodded.

“And… wait, I’m just finding out about this now?!” I threw up my arms, now angry. “Why is it everyone keeps asking everyone but me if I can be their, like, personal plaything?!” I only realized after saying it that Lexi did in a way ask me, at the clothing store, but I had too many opportunities to tell Morgan that, so I had to just let it be. It would have been too awkward, if not outright suspicious, to only bring it up now.

“She was drunk-”

“Big surprise,” I interrupted annoyedly.

“Hey, stop,” she asserted, then paused. “She was drunk and admitted her feelings to me in a very understandable way. She said she’d never want to take you from me but admitted she wanted to see what you were, you know, ‘like,’ but knew you’d never do anything outside of a relationship. I… was drunk too, so I may have admitted that you did casual stuff with someone else before we got together.”

“So you’re the one who told her about Taylor!” I accused her, more loudly than I should have.

She looked at me weirdly. “No, I never said Taylor. What do you mean, ‘you’re the one?’”

“Oh. Uh, sorry,” I admitted. “I guess she put the pieces together. At the party she told me she was jealous of what I did with you, and with Taylor.”

At that sentence, Morgan looked away, but only for a second. She looked back at me and coughed in discomfort. “Anyway, she asked me, and I thought about it. Trouble was, I already admitted the casual thing also happened during our relationship, so it would have made her feel bad to say no without a reason.”

“You could have just said no,” I pointed out. “It would be weird of her to question your feelings.”

“People do it all the time, whether it’s weird or not,” she countered. “Do you not even care whether you have my blessing to do something with her or not?”

“No, I-” I paused. For whatever reason, I paused. “I mean… you… you really love making our relationship so sexually complicated, don’t you? Okay, what did you say?”

“I said that I’m okay with it being in our friend group, but no one else. I just… don’t mind it,” she said, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

I paused again, getting up from the bed and pacing. “…What’s the endgame here? Are you trying to get me a harem or something?”

“A harem?”

“Like, a group of women who all have sex with me.”

She shrugged. “Sweet deal, isn’t it?” she asked with humor and yet a deadly serious tone.

“But what do you get out of this? I don’t get it.”

“Overthinking, Quinn,” she pointed out. “I don’t need to get anything.”

“But if you don’t, this all seems one-sided. It makes me uncomfortable.”

“So then tell Lexi no!”

“But then I’m the one disappointing her! You’ve shifted the burden onto me!” I protested.

“Do you see now why I asked if arguing here was the best idea?” she asked with heat.

“Yeah, I do!” I replied back with as much heat. We both paused. “So that’s the boundaries of our relationship, huh?”

She nodded. “I’m okay with you doing stuff with our close friends. I think, with anyone else, it would be weird.”

“Well,” I replied, “I don’t think I’m attracted to Crystal, and I’m not gay so I’ll pass on Milo.”

“So you’re considering not just Lexi but Taylor still,” Morgan coolly noted.

“…Fuck.” I felt completely defeated. I moved back to the bed and sat back down onto it, slumping. I felt Morgan’s hand supportively rub my back.

After a while, I spoke again. “So, do you – fuck, I don’t know – do you want it to be reciprocal? Like, your friend group for me, my friend group for you?”

“Well, you don’t really have a group of friends that got close to me, so it’s not the same.”

“I’ve got Kevin,” I offered jokingly.

“Fuck no,” she immediately replied. We both laughed quietly. “I’m happy just being with you. I’m okay with it being monogamous with my side and polygamous on yours.”

“I think that would be ‘polyamorous.’ Or ‘polysexual.’ ‘Poly,’ maybe,” I thought out loud.

“Whatever.”

“I don’t know. Would you seriously be okay with me sleeping with Taylor?”

“No,” she immediately replied, “but that’s only because of the Joel thing. It’s still nuclear hot, and you’re smart enough to know that would be dumb. But if it helps, as long as they’re together, no blessing from me.”

“Yeah, I don’t need you telling me that to know it’s a bad idea,” I admitted.

“I figured.”

“And Lexi?”

“Yeah, I already told you, yes,” she replied, putting her head on my shoulder. “She’s-”

“Lonely, yeah,” I admitted sadly.

“And clearly there’s something there,” she noted flatly. “Nothing that would replace me, but… something nice.”

“…I don’t get you,” I admitted.

“You don’t have to.”

“No, but until I do, I think this is only going to make me feel uncomfortable. I think.”

“That’s okay,” she replied supportively. “But I want you to know it wouldn’t affect me one way or the other. I guess I’m just built different.”

“Not like the other girls?” I asked her jokingly.

“Oh fuck, I’ve turned into that bitch,” she added. “Anyway, I feel like you think this is a test or it actually would affect me or something. If it’s purely for you, by all means, don’t do it. But it’s an option, and clearly you’re not a hundred percent decided either way, are you?”

I didn’t say anything, and slowly pulled out my phone, turning it on. A message from Lexi greeted me.

Are u busy this weekend? I found a new bubble tea place. U down?

I stared at my phone, then at Morgan, then back to my phone, and sighed.

_______________________________________________

Author’s Note: Thank you for taking the time to read this story, especially if you have read all fifteen chapters. That’s a lot. There’s one more installment of five chapters, coming soon! I hope you enjoyed these five.

These stories were made possible in part by the generous donors at patreon, dot com, slash BashfulScribe. If you’d like to support my work, get some cool perks, and help these stories come out faster, please consider supporting my work. Once again, thank you all for reading! Votes and comments, in any direction, are enjoyed and appreciated.

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