Candy & Kisses

Chapter 7

By Dabeagle


The rest of the week was calm in comparison and I fell into a pattern: I bailed early from watching the football behemoths with Cathy and Ginnie in favor of guy, I guess. I did notice that some of the other guys were attractive - I'm not blind. None of them had that special something, though. I spent evenings at home, but I was now texting with not just Cathy and Ginnie, but Zack, Seth, Brandon, Malia and Amy. It was like I'd suddenly been planted in a garden of friends and we were all in bloom at the same time. I kind of wanted to go hang out with Brandon, but I wanted him to ask. I didn't want to tell him to ask me, but I would soon, if he didn't get some balls.

We rode in the multi-colored mobile for the week, but the questions about any progress being made got old. I was glad nothing else happened, but wanted to know who did it so we could lay it to rest.

Zack invited me to come over Friday for game night again, and I quickly realized that Seth and Brandon had teamed up against me - probably because I'd thumped them both last time. We actually got pretty rowdy, enough that Zack's dad actually came downstairs and raised his voice a little because we were too loud to hear him telling us to calm the hell down.

In an effort to appease his dad, Zack put a movie on and we settled in on the couch and wing chair. At first it was a little uncomfortable as I hesitated over exactly where and how to sit. Brandon finally did a little something and put his arm up as if welcoming me to lie on him, and I snuggled in under his arm. It wasn't meant to be romantic, I don't think, but until I got far enough into the movie that it became my focus, I was intensely horny. Afterward, though, it was pretty comfortable.

When the movie ended I was loathe to move, but it was late and I open Saturday mornings.

"Man, my leg fell asleep," Brandon said as he moved after I sat up. He winced and started to rub his right leg, which had been trapped beneath us both.

"Why didn't you say something?" I asked, my words elongated by my stretching.

"You were comfortable," he said, as if it were the most obvious thing. What was I, a puppy? No one moved if their dog was sleeping on them. It's a fact. Still, it was nice, so I kept my tongue to myself.

"I better get home," I said.

"What? We're all staying," Seth said around a yawn. "It's Friday."

I looked around in question and Zack smacked his forehead. "Sorry, J. I'm just used to it. Friday game night and sleep over is kind of the norm around here. I forgot you wouldn't know. Can you call home? Sack out here?"

"Um, no. I open tomorrow morning. Thanks, though," I said, my heart spasming at the idea of curling up with Brandon all night. I wouldn't fucking sleep, that was for damn sure.

"Next week, then," he said with a sleepy smile. "You owe me a rematch and we'll pass out here."

"Sure," I said uncertainly.

"I'll walk J out," Brandon said.

"And suck his tongue out of his head," Seth teased. Brandon opened his eyes wide and nodded his head like a big old nerd. I laughed at him.

Once outside he walked me down to my car. I leaned back against the side and held my hands out toward his. He came to me willingly, and placed his lips gently on mine. It occurred to me that Amy was right, in a sense. Although there was no possibility of classifying his kiss as bad, it was an appetizer. Chum in the water, if you will, as he tried to lure my own kiss from me. Could I stoke one from him? Rather than giving in to my instincts, I responded with the same gentle motions he was making, our mouths working soft and warm against each other. I wanted him to kick it up a notch, so I ran my fingers through his hair, settling in behind his head and nudged him toward me with my fingertips.

Got him. His tongue pushed against my lips and our merry dance of intense kissing began in earnest. This time he leaned against me, pinning me between the car and his body. It was thrilling, the simultaneous feelings of being trapped and wanting to escape, and of wanting to stay caught. When he pulled back, panting, I felt conquered. I had the impulse to follow his retreating lips, and I did briefly, nibbling for a moment. He let out a small chuckle.

"I could kiss you all night," he said and ran his fingers across the side of my face and through my hair.

"I can give you five more minutes," I told him with a smile. He shivered in the cool night and I wondered if his nipples were perky like Zack's. "I'll take mercy on you, since you're cold, though."

"Sweet torture," he said with a laugh and another shiver.

"Do you dance?" I asked suddenly.

"I can shuffle my feet in such a way that some people are fooled into thinking I can dance," he said and smiled widely.

I wanted him to ask me to this dance. I wanted to see if he was actually invested in this thing, or if this was just me riding his apology for all it was worth. Well, no, it had to be more than that - he said he thought I was cute. He said all kinds of wonderful things in the car the other night. So, no being coy, but not asking him to be my date, either.

"So. Are you going to ask me to homecoming?" I asked, mentally holding my breath. Would a dance be too much? Two guys at the dace, that would draw attention. No hiding from all our 'peers'. Oh. He was giving me the look again, the one that was way the fuck past beautiful.

"I'd love to," he said and grinned widely.

"All right, then. So. I better, um, go," I said awkwardly.

"Why are you nervous?" he asked, and shivered again.

"Go inside," I said. "I can see your nipples."

He glanced down at his shirt like a nerd and back up at me. "You're looking at my nipples?" he asked playfully.

"Yep. Going to look at your ass as you walk back to the house, too," I said. I clamped my mouth shut. Shit. How did my loins get control of my mouth?

"Oh, are you now?" he asked as he started to back up. "I guess that's fair, I've checked yours out a lot." He stopped and smiled at me. "A lot."

My lips twitched in a smile, my mind struggled to wrap itself around the idea, and my cock swelled with, um, pride. "Perv. Goodnight."

"Goodnight, J," he said, and then sighed as he turned and went inside. True to my word, I watched his butt as he walked away. It was kind of dark, but still, it's the principle of the thing.


Early shifts at fast food places are a mixed bag. Sometimes you get people who actually want this crap early in the morning - people getting off an overnight shift or stopping while on a long drive, for instance. Outside of that, it can get pretty quiet and the manager on duty ends up running back and forth between the front counter and trying to inventory things, make a schedule, run reports and all kinds of stuff like that. Since I'd been there for a while, I was usually stuck with some of the inventory duties while we were slow. I didn't get a dedicated counter person until eleven when Seth clocked in.

"Hey, Jer," he said, as he peered around the corner at my station.

"What's up, Seth?" I asked.

"Just another Saturday, slaving for some money," he said in a bored tone. "Did you do the science sheet? You have Finnigan, right?"

"Yeah," I confirmed. "I did it after school on Friday. I don't like homework hanging over my head all weekend."

"Jesus, you sound like my dad," he said with a snicker. "Did that whole thing make sense to you? I had some trouble with the second section."

I nodded my head. "Took some extra digging. Instead of putting it in the text of the chapter, it's in those little breakout things on the sides. You know what I mean?" The books had small boxes outside the normal paragraph with extra facts or points of interest. Normally that didn't affect the homework, but this time it had.

"Seriously?" Seth groaned. "I read that chapter, like, seven times. I call bullshit."

I chuckled at him. "Did you ask Malia to homecoming?"

He snorted. "She told me we were going. I don't make any decisions on my own, brother," he said with a laugh.

I considered that for a minute as a customer approached. I wonder if Seth is acting the way Amy claims Brandon is? My desire to ask the question, or some form of it, got steamrolled by a load of old people on a casino bus - no idea if they were coming or going. Probably coming back from the casino and all they could afford was our stuff. We stayed steady right up until my shift ended at three. I clocked out but lingered by the office door until Seth was free.

"Seth. Mind if I ask you a personal question?"

He shrugged. "Sure, I guess so. What's up?"

"I was just curious. You said Malia tells you what to do? Were you serious?"

He smiled. "A little. It never hurts for her to tell me what she wants to do, you know? I probably would have asked her about the dance, but she was pumped for it so she said so. Why?"

I wrinkled my forehead in thought. "I'm just trying to figure out Brandon."

"Oh, he's simple. Just tell him what you want. The most decisive thing I've ever seem him do is ambush you after practice!" he said with a laugh. "If you seriously want to know about him, like what he wants, you'll have to ask him directly. He's horrible at saying stuff, sometimes." He paused for a second and then said, "Probably why it took him forever to come out, actually."

I smiled reflexively. Customers came in and I waved goodbye before heading home to get the burger stench off me. I wasn't sure what to make of the information, but it was tumbling around in my head. How could I know what Brandon wanted if he was just going to wait for me to say something and then agree with it? Why was he doing that? I didn't want him to be whipped. I was enjoying the time with him, but I also wanted him to talk to me about what was important to him. Over the course of the week the shock of his expressing that he liked me had worn off and I was ready for some realness.

I think he was right, though. We did fit. I felt good around him. Not at peace, like, I could fall asleep. I felt...what? Good seemed like a bad word to use. It's like nice. How are you? Nice. Good. Weak, flabby, crappy words that really didn't say much. A lot of the other words that came to mind when I thought of him weren't exactly flattering. Nauseous, for instance. Like my insides had turned to water. Like someone was clamping my heart and filling my chest with helium all at once. Was there a word for that?

One thing was for sure, I wasn't going to find out here. I flipped to my conversations and went to the last one from Brandon. I had yet to assign him a name in my phone. I wasn't sure why that was.

Me: What are you doing?

My mind stayed mercifully blank as I waited for him to reply. My foot hung off my bed and I started to bounce my leg, enjoying the odd feeling of the extra weight on my ankle on the rebound. I got frustrated and called him. After four rings it went to voice mail. No personalized message. "B. Call me," I said and hung up. I wandered downstairs in search of a snack. Being around all that processed crap made me crave fresh stuff, so I raided the fruit drawer for a banana and a peach.

"Hey," my mother said as she breezed into the room. "We should talk about your math grade."

I raised an eyebrow. "What about it?"

She turned and crossed her arms. "Really? What about it?"

I shrugged and gave her a mystified look. What the heck was she talking about?

"A 93? You crossed over a 90 for the first time ever in a subject you loathe and you can't tell your mother?"

"Um," I said, surprised I'd done so well. She wasn't kidding that I hated math. "I guess my mind was somewhere else?" She smiled like she knew something. I narrowed my eyes, and in a suspicious tone asked, "What?"

"I'm just wondering if you're more like me or your father," she said demurely. My mother doesn't do demure, so something was definitely up.

"In what way?" I asked, aiming for nonchalant. I think I failed; I took a bite of my peach to cover.

"So. Do you feel, lately, can't breathe? Like your chest is just stuck and solid? Or do you feel like your guts are churning, almost like you feel sick?"

I stopped chewing to stare at her. She grinned. I hate when she's ahead of me. My phone buzzed, but I ignored it for the moment. I finished chewing and swallowed. "Why?"

"You tell me which one you feel, and I'll tell you why you do."

I stared at her. Was she going to tell me? I mean, honest to god, will I have a word for this mess? "Stomach. So what?"

"Ah, crap. You're like your father," she said and slapped her leg.

"Mom," I said in a serious tone. She smiled at me and crossed the room, cupping my face in her smaller hands.

"Oh, Jerry. You're falling in love, silly."

"What? No!" I said and started to laugh.

"I know these things," she said, trying for a mysterious tone, but failing completely.

"Whatever," I said with a chuckle as I sauntered out of the room with my remaining fruit. I bit into the peach and pulled out my phone, thumbing to the new message. It was awkward so I swallowed and put the peach back in my mouth to hold it and use both hands. The message was a picture of a shirtless, sweaty Brandon beside a lawn mower. The fact that I had food in my mouth was why I suddenly had drool running down my chin. Probably.

I headed to my room and hit the dial button on the way. He picked up on the second ring.

"J," he said. I guess that was the extent of his greeting.

"Saturday your chore day?" I asked lightly.

"Have to get some extra bucks for our night out at the dance. If I'm taking you dancing, I'm freaking taking you dancing," he said and laughed. My stomach twitched.

"Okay if I come over?" I asked. It was better than telling him to invite me over. Right?

"Absolutely!" he said and I heard the happiness in his voice. I pulled on shoes, combed my hair once more and bounded down the stairs.

"Mom! Okay if I head over to Brandon's?"

"Will you be home for dinner?" she asked.

I glanced at the clock. "Probably not. Is that okay?" I asked.

She emerged into the hallway. "Sure. Have fun, baby," she said and smiled at me.

"Mom," I whined. "Don't be weird. I'm not falling in love."

"Stomach or chest?" my dad called out from the living room.

"Stomach!" she replied, smiling at me. I rolled my eyes.

"That's my boy!" Dad called out and I decided to leave this foolishness here where it belonged. I lusted after Brandon, no doubt, but love? Come on. I nearly had the door closed when it stopped and opened again, making me lose my grip on the doorknob. I turned to see my mother framed in the doorway, looking down at me as I had already started descending the steps.

"Jerry. Falling is a lot of fun. Enjoy it." She smiled again and then closed the door. I walked to my car and wondered about what she'd said. Was it possible? Was I falling, but not yet there? I knew I wasn't in love - couldn't be. But was I headed there, falling as she'd said? Maybe.

Brandon's parents seemed nice. His father opened the door to me and seemed to know my name, though we hadn't been formally introduced at the vandalism event. His mother smiled at me in an odd way, like she was taking my measure somehow. They pointed me up to his room and I went up, finding him pulling on a shirt and his hair wet from a shower.

"Oh, you're going to wear a shirt? I'm okay if you don't," I said, teasing. Mostly.

He turned and laughed softly. His tanned skin really popped against the white tee shirt and underwear. "I'm hungry. I thought maybe we could get something? Figure they'll want me to wear a shirt."

"Maybe. Or maybe they'll give you a discount if you don't," I said. Jesus, I am shit at flirting.

"Would I get boyfriend points?" he asked as he pulled a pair of jeans from a dresser drawer and pulled them up his legs.

"What are those?" I asked as I sat beside him while he pulled on socks.

"Boyfriend points? I can save them up and turn them in so I can be your boyfriend," he said and looked at me with a nervous look.

I studied his face. How had I stayed angry so long? Was it because I'd wanted him to myself? Was it that simple? Was I actually falling? Who wouldn't fall for that face?

"Is that what you want?" I asked.

His expression slipped into disappointment, much like it had in the car. I wasn't sure why, but I was going to push the issue, now.

"Brandon, I'm confused. That seemed like a straightforward question. Why do you look like...I don't know. What is on your mind?"

He nodded, seemingly to himself, and let out a shuddering breath.

"Brandon, I need you to tell me where your head is at. I like romance and all that, but you need to understand-"


"-that I need you to be clear, to tell me what you want from this, from me. I don't want any more misunderstandings, no more trying to-"

"Yes. It's what I want."

"-read signals or any of that foolishness. I need it to be clear for me and if you can't say it one way or another, then I don't know what to do."

He turned quickly, knocking me back on the bed, and covered my mouth with his. It was just like when he pressed me against my car, the duality of wanting to be released and relishing being caught. Except this time, he wasn't going to get cold and back off. I turned my head and opened my mouth, the delicate notes of our magnum opus once again engaged and rushing toward a distant crescendo. His clean scent filled my nose, his damp hair tickled my forehead and I could feel the texture of his tongue as it ensnared, caressed and released my tongue before starting the dance again. I became aware of his hardness pressed into my leg, which only served to remind me of my own turgid state.

"Bran - oh! Okay, whoa!" his father said from the open doorway. Brandon pulled his face from mine, but with no urgency. I looked wide eyed at Brandon and his face had a beautiful blush, yet he was smiling. He was not backing off, even with his father in the doorway.

"Sorry, Dad," he said without looking at him, or looking sorry in the least. "I was explaining something to my boyfriend."

"Ah, right. Well. Doors open. Uh. You're going out?"

Brandon looked down at me and crinkled his eyes. "Are we?"

"Erm. You wanted food, right?" I asked, suddenly unsure of myself and unable to bring myself to look at his father.

"I do," he stated.

"I...guess we're going out, then." We stayed like that, looking at each other. His father cleared his throat.

"All right. See you in a bit, then. Enjoy your dinner," he said and wandered back down the hallway. At least I assume he did. I was still looking up at Brandon. It was strange. I was laying flat on his bed - a firm surface. Yet, perhaps my mother was right. Maybe I am falling.

"We should go. My dad will come back if we don't," he said without conviction.

I reached up and ran my fingertips over his cheek and into his hair. "My boyfriend," I said, trying the words out. My stomach flopped, perhaps only held in place by Brandon's weight on me.

He did that more-than-beautiful look again. It suddenly occurred to me that I cause that look to happen. Me. Huh.

Brandon stood up suddenly and pulled me up by my hand. "Do you care what we get for food?"

"As long as it's not burgers, no," I said truthfully.

"I'm getting a craving for Mexican. Will that work?" he asked as he slipped into his sneakers.

"Yeah," I said. "Whatever you want."

We headed out, a giddy excitement bubbling between us. Once we were on our way, I took his hand. He glanced at me, smiled a bit, but said nothing. That was okay.

"So you heard about Hunter and Julie, right?" I asked.

"How his peen was getting traded around school? Yeah."

"It was such a disappointment," I said with a sigh. He laughed and I grinned, looking at him. "I don't know how he puts up with Julie."

"I hear it's because she's hot as fuck, not that I'd know," he said with a laugh.

"Hunter, though. He's awfully pretty," I said, teasing him again.

"He's okay," he replied with a shrug. He glanced at me. "You trying to make me jealous already or something?"

"No, just talking gossip," I said, uncertainly. What had been my point in bringing that up, exactly? "Why? Would you really get jealous?"

We pulled into the parking lot and Brandon turned the car off. He turned in his seat, squeezing my hand. "Yes. Did you hear me? Yes. Mentioning another guy is cute on our first official day of being boyfriends...unsexy and you must be trying to make me jealous."

"Well. He's not as pretty as you," I offered.

"Better," he said, rolling his hand as if asking for more.

"Okay, fine, you're the prettiest one of all, Cinderella!" I said with a laugh.

He shook his head at me, smiling. He glanced out the window and groaned. "Look how packed it is."

"Want to get it to go? Go back to your house?"

"Good idea," he said with enthusiasm. We climbed from the car and, as soon as he was close enough, he took my hand. We actually walked into a business holding hands. I was slightly offended no one seemed to notice. It didn't take a huge amount of time to get our food, but the seating wasn't any better by the time we did, so our plan to go back to his place was still solid. We talked idly on the way, just about general things like food we both liked, people, school. Nothing meaningful, just passing the time easily.

Once inside Brandon called out, "I'm home. J and I are going to eat in the back!"

I think he was surprised when his father popped out of the living room. He looked sort of disheveled. Sort of breathing...oh. Oh, dear God.

"Bran! We thought you were going out for dinner!" his dad said in a big old voice.

Brandon glanced at me uncertainly and then looked back at him. "I decided to keep J to myself, tonight. First date as boyfriends and all."

"Oh, right, right," his father said, moving with nervous energy. His mother appeared, smoothing her slacks and smiling.

"Boyfriend! Wow, how handsome!" she said, smiling too widely.

"Okay. You guys are freaking me out. We're going to go eat, now," Brandon said in a spaced out tone of voice. I nodded at them and tried to smile as I followed Brandon toward the back of the house.

"Doors open, guys!" his dad called out in that overly cheery voice.

"Same to you!" Brandon called back and I snickered. He looked at me with a grin and laughed as well.

The back room turned out to be a room with a TV and video games with a couch and loveseat, very similar to Zack's basement room. We set our bags on the coffee table and sat beside each other on the couch. Brandon checked his phone, hit his screen a few times and music filled the room.

"Nice. I was hoping not to watch TV while we eat," I said.

"Are you not into TV?" he asked as he unwrapped his burrito.

"I am, sometimes," I said. "If the TV is on I just eat my food without even tasting it. Probably because I'm so visual."

"So if I get naked you can't eat?"

I raised an eyebrow at him and he burst out laughing. I grinned. "Might be tough," I admitted. We talked music and TV shows between bites. In a way, this too was like eating with my family. At the pizzeria it had been the buzz, the chatting, the vibe. Here it was the relaxed intimacy of sitting side by side, eating messy food and chatting about whatever came to mind. It was easier than it had any right to be, considering where he and I were three weeks ago. It got me to thinking about his theory that we were circling back around to each other, some parts of us realizing we belonged together before others. That brought me to my mother and her question, and what she thought she knew.

"Hey. Weird question," I asked as I put my own burrito down and licked the sour cream off the side of my hand.

"Best kind, in my opinion," Brandon replied.

"Okay, so...when you look at me, what do you feel?" I asked, suddenly feeling stupid.

He pushed his tongue up inside his lip, maybe chasing a stray piece of burrito. "You mean, like, just sitting here or when we kiss or what?"

I shrugged. "Whichever."

I pulled on the wrapper of my food, just as something to do with my fingers. I pinched a piece of olive from the wreckage and popped it in my mouth. I finally looked over at Brandon, who seemed to be waiting for me to do just that.

"Sometimes, I feel like I can't breathe. Like my chest has cinder blocks on it. That's right before we kiss, when you get this look in your eye that says I'm about to totally get wrecked. Then, it's like...glowing from the inside out." He paused and swallowed. "How about you?"

"I..uh," I said, stumbling. According to my mother's statements, he was falling in love with me. That would be...legendary. "My stomach gets kind of...sick. I mean, uh, queasy. Heart beats a little hard. Like, you know, a sledgehammer."

He waited a beat and then asked, "And when we kiss?"

Heat flashed in my chest and climbed quickly into my face. I cleared my throat. "I, uh, kind of think of it like a dance. It's, like, there's music and we seem to know the steps to take. It's pretty amazing, to be honest."

We grew quiet, returning to what remained of our food before bagging the trash. Brandon offered a drink and I accepted. He departed and returned with two bottles of soda and sat down beside me. I can't say I'm surprised we trailed off into safe things like food and drink. How do things not get weird when you admit these strange, wonderful things are going on inside you?

I took a drink and then let out a snort. "You know, when we first walked in and your dad was clearly a little flustered, I was afraid we'd walked in on him with a...mistress or something."

Brandon's jaw dropped and then he absolutely howled with laughter. It eased tension in me and I chuckled along to his obvious entertainment.

"Oh, man, J," he said between chuckles. "That was hilarious. My It just couldn't happen. That would have been a fucking shock though, I give you that." He started giggling again. "Can you imagine? Our first official date is destroyed by my dad cheating in the living room?" He was off laughing again and I couldn't help but join him.

"Well, I guess we put a damper on their make-out," I told him.

"As long as they don't disrupt mine," he said and curled his arm behind me. I chuckled as we leaned back into the couch. "So J, tell me. Did you really hate me for the last, what, eight years?"

I shifted uneasily. "Kind of half-and-half," I replied.

"I really am sorry, J," he said softly.

I glanced at him and smiled. "I know." He started sliding over to lay back and he pushed and pulled me to get my back to the couch and my head on his chest. He started to stroke my hair. Although it had been kind of awkward and silly getting into this position, I had to admit it felt damn nice.

"I guess I was a late bloomer. I started noticing guys around seventh grade. There was that guy at camp I mentioned. I had a few little crushes, but I kind of kept coming back to you. Mentally."

I started and tilted my head to look up at him. "What?"

He nodded, again blushing just a bit. "But, just like when I was younger, I couldn't figure out how to handle it. I kept it to myself, and did my sports and homework. But...the memory of someone wanting to kiss me never faded." He chuckled and said, "There were a few half-hearted attempts to cure myself, but I finally stopped trying when this girl, Judy, had a pack of M&Ms to share, and I said no. I remembered someone else loved those and used to share with me."

"I'm amazed you remember that. Cal remembered and I don't," I said. "I wonder why I don't really remember that?"

"It was probably just natural for you. Or, you felt hurt enough to not want to think about it," he said. "J?"


"What do you dream about?"

I gave him an arch look. "What sort of dreams we talking, here?"

He grinned crookedly. "I'm interested in all of them. But this second, I want to know what moves you. What do you want to do after high school?"

I sighed and said, "I'm not sure. I had thoughts of trying to be a writer, or maybe a graphic artist. Something creative." I turned to look down on him. For literally years I had thought of kissing him. Well, sex with him, mostly. I never dared to go too far down the hand-holding, relationship path. God damn, if he didn't look perfectly fucking kissable right then. "Right now, all I want is this."

There was a deep satisfaction in kissing Brandon. I still felt the nerves in my stomach, a tightness in my chest and my heart gaining beats per second. When my lips were connected to his, all those things suddenly felt correct. This mix of emotions - excitement, desire, passion, lust and love - they all fed into the pulsating, gyrating, pure excitement of being with him. My whole being stated emphatically that this was how it should feel when kissing him. It made me think this is what it must feel like to ride a rush of adrenaline.

I shifted and put my face next to his and tried to still myself. I closed my eyes and focused on feeling him beneath me, the warmth and solid feel of his body. He had one hand in my hair and the other doing small circles on my back. Letting out a breath I said, "What do you dream, Brandon?"

"I want to be an architect. To design buildings and bridges." He paused and stilled his hands. "Maybe a home for me to share with someone."

I had a sudden, stupid thought that I could be someone. That someone. We moved a little during the few hours I was there. Made out some more. Shared a few secrets and showed each other our hearts. It was terrifying, exhilarating and I'd do it again, no question. It was only interrupted once, by my phone.

"Can't talk, Cathy. I'm on a date with my boyfriend," I said, smiling down at Brandon.

"Oh? Brandon got the balls to make it official? Nice catch, by the way. Maybe you can feed him."

"Yes, he is," I said and smiled down at Brandon's look of curiosity. "And how do you know I didn't ask him out?"

"Please, the guy you didn't include in your top four because, why? You didn't want me to know? He was too hot? What?"

"See you in the morning, Cath," I said and disconnected.

"And what was that?" he asked, his eyebrow arched.

"Cathy being Cathy," I said, but got no farther as he dug his fingers into my ribs and I jumped, yelping out a surprised laugh.

"Hey!" I protested, but it was lost as he kept asking me what the call had been about and then tickling me before I could answer.

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