I didn't see much of Cathy that week. She was working the whole dress thing with Ginnie. I heard Ginnie had a date, too, but I was too wrapped up in my own relationship to ask questions. That probably sounds selfish, and it was - but honest. Thursday, though, she begged me to come with her as she thought she'd found the dress she wanted, but she wanted my opinion.
"Why? I don't like dresses," I stated. Repeatedly. This didn't faze her, and that is how I found myself waiting in a chair outside the women's dressing room. Brandon and I had been together every night so far, and I wasn't thrilled to be missing out on more time with him. To be fair, though, I am my own person, so I didn't need to be with him at all times. I just kind of wanted to.
Cathy exited the room and spread her arms, turning in front of me. The fabric was some sort of off white with a quilted pattern and some frilly things attached that, I suppose, women like.
"The taffeta really makes this one stand out. What do you think?"
I looked at her critically and shook my head. "It looks like you're wearing a tablecloth with crepe paper stapled to it."
She paused and looked down her nose at me. "It's not crepe paper. Jerk."
"Why do you bring me to these things? I don't know crap about dresses!" I said with bubbling laughter as she menaced me.
"Because! Ginnie is no help! She wants me to wear something with vertical stripes to make me look thinner, but he already knows I'm not a twig!" She smoothed her hands over the fabric. "You really don't like it?"
I shook my head. "Not as a dress. Why don't we take a look at what they have?"
"I have two other dresses in back. I just liked this one best, but I guess now that you say it, it does look sort of...."
"Table cloth-ey?" I asked.
Glaring at me she said, "Old fashioned. Sit!"
I sat and shook my head. My phone vibrated. Checking I saw Brandon had texted me a picture of him, catching Zack in the background holding up ties. Helping her with a dress can't be worse than helping Zack with a tie.
I chuckled. Why do people think we know or care about fashion?
I know! The only stereotype we fit is being smoking hot!
I grinned, but put the phone down as Cathy came back out. She had on a dress that had no shoulders and stopped just above her knee. There was a frilly bit running around the edges, top and bottom, and a diagonal connecting frilly bit from upper to lower edge.
"Wow, Cath. This one is a total improvement."
"Really? Or are you just trying to go home so you can suck on your boyfriend's face some more?"
"It's quite the improvement," I said with a smile. "Brandon is helping Zack with ties, so he's not waiting for my kisses at the moment."
"Ginnie is so jealous," she said to me as she turned to look in the mirror. "I guess she scared off the freshman. She wants you to write a poem about how Brandon's abs feel."
I burst out laughing, covering my mouth. She grinned at me and turned in the mirror, examining the dress. "So, you really like it?"
"I do," I said, still smiling.
"What's he like?" she asked, turning to me. "Brandon, I mean. What do you guys do?"
I smiled at her, but I could feel how it wasn't a mirthful smile. It was indulgent and filled with tenderness as I thought of him.
"We talk the endless talk that the great poets waxed, well, poetic about." I looked up at her. "Last night we drove outside of the city and lay on the hood of his car, staring up at the stars and talking. I've never done that with anyone."
"That sounds unbelievable. I thought he was just a jock," she said quietly.
I tilted my head. "He actually hasn't mentioned that once. He wants to be an architect."
"Sounds special." She paused and frowned. "I know this is all new, but he sounds too perfect. Is he?"
I rolled my shoulders and looked away before curling my mouth into a smile. "There are two minuses I can think of."
"And they are?" she asked, sitting down next to me.
"Well, the night we drove to look at the stars? We were talking the whole way, and I could listen to him all night - seriously. I love the sound of his voice. But then he tried to be romantic."
"Oh no!" she said and pit a hand on mine. "He can't do romance?"
I laughed. "It's not that. He tried to sing me this little song and..." I looked at her and started to giggle. "He can't sing. Not even a little."
She covered her mouth and rocked back in giggles. "Oh no! Did you laugh? You didn't laugh!"
"I tried! I held it in at first, but...I just couldn't!" I said and giggled some more.
"Aww, poor guy," she said as she calmed down.
"He was a little put out, at first. But then I started trying to sing back to him, and...you know I'm no choirboy. The look of horror on his face...." We both burst out laughing.
"What's the other thing?" she asked, still chuckling.
I rolled my eyes a little and heat rushed into my cheeks. "Well, I was waiting for him to get cleaned up before the drive, right? So I'm hanging out in his room, sort of checking things out."
"Wait, so what's the room like? Like, what does the room say about him?" she asked excitedly.
"Well, my mom would say he's a slob like me," I said as I smiled at her. "He's got posters of bridges and buildings that look pretty freaking cool, to be honest. He has all these metal models of bridges and famous buildings scattered around. As I'm walking I stepped on his jersey, probably from the game the other day." I leaned forward. "You know how in movies they always talk about how someone's clothes smell like the person? Women are always sniffing men's shirts or something?"
"Yeah?" she asked, leaning forward and attentive.
"So I picked it up, looked to make sure no one would catch me, and I sniffed." I leaned back. "Mother of God, that boy stinks! That thing was rank!" I burst out laughing at her expression of shock and then she started laughing with me.
"I don't think you're supposed to smell sweaty stuff!" she said between her giggles.
"Now you tell me!"
"Okay, okay," she said as she held up a hand and mastered her laughter. "So only because Ginnie will ask...the abs. Up close. As good as they looked on the field the other day or trick of the afternoon sun?"
I looked at her steadily and let a smile grow on my face.
"Seriously?" she asked, squealing a little.
"Well, I did mention he was getting cleaned up? No shirt when he came back and if you think the abs looked good, if you pair them with his chest? God Damn!"
We leaned toward each other, once again giggling a bit. "So, what are you wearing to homecoming with this stud?"
I shrugged and smiled. "Shirt and tie, maybe some jeans or khakis. Why?"
She looked at me in horror. "Jerry! You can't!"
I frowned in confusion. "Why not?"
"Wait here," she said as she went into the dressing room, presumably to change into her street clothes. I glanced down at my phone, wondering. I texted Brandon. B, what are you wearing to homecoming?
Moments later he texted back. Looking for a jacket to match my tie. I was going to ask if we should get cummerbunds?
I frowned. It seems he was going a little bigger with this than I expected. Cathy came out of the dressing room with her chosen dress draped over her arm.
"Okay, look. It's a fall dance, so you have to go with dark colors. Let's find you some black slacks and a bright white shirt, and then...."
I should probably mention that I hate shopping. I'm a hoodie and jeans kind of guy, certainly nobody's fashion plate. Cathy, on the other hand, thought shopping was a gift from God. She tore through the men's department like a typhoon. I had to admit the bill wasn't that bad, considering all the things she ended up finding. Oddly, I was grateful I'd had to house sit a few weeks ago because I had all that money handy now to shop with. Of course, that house-sitting job had been the catalyst for a bunch of things. I'd never tell anyone else that, though. First my mother would think she was right to send me and then I'd get stuck there again.
"I'm not sure," my mother said and glanced at my father.
"Mom," I said with a sigh. "Seth and Zack will be there. They're straight. I'm not asking to stay over so I can sleep with my boyfriend. It's a group hangout, not an orgy."
"Did someone say orgy?" Cal asked, poking his head in the kitchen.
"Yeah," I said with a snort. "Mom and dad are confusing me with you."
"Actually," my father said, "we aren't stupid. An over-night gives you plenty of time to run off and do the sorts of things that scare the neighbors. We also aren't stupid enough to think we can control you so that you never have these experiences. I'm not sure we'd want to if we could." He paused and looked at me pointedly. "Our concern comes from you going from a relative loner to wrapped around this boy's finger in the space of a few weeks. We don't really know anything about him, besides that you kissed him in fourth grade."
"Okay, and I get that. But I'm not asking to go away for a weekend. Zack has a game night on Fridays. They all live close by. Seth and B tend to stay over more often than not. Zack is just including me. We'll all be in the same room. His parents will be there." I sighed. "Would you please trust me when I say I'm not going over there for a shot at sex with B?"
My mother glanced at my dad and then back to me. "Yes. I hope there won't be anything that happens that you'll regret."
"Late night blow jobs always make me sad the next day," Cal said from the other room.
"Noted," I said with a sigh. I went upstairs and tossed some shorts and a tee shirt to sleep in plus my toothbrush into my school back pack. I grabbed a clean work shirt and pants, and I was all responsibly ready. I arrived just as Seth was entering the house, so he held the door for me. We headed downstairs and joined Brandon and Zack. There were the usual challenges made and threats to destroy, and then they tricked me by putting in a fighting game I'd never played.
I protested, of course. I didn't know the moves or how to make them happen, and sweet revenge was had on me for my thumping them soundly the prior weeks. We pooled together to order pizza, and then relaxed into a movie while we ate. The movie was some horror thing and I admit we all jumped and made some vague, less-than-manly sounds. Some of us more than others. I didn't know Seth's voice could go that high.
We broke out the video games again after the movie, and that went on for quite a while. I helped Zack drag over a couple of air mattresses while Seth and Brandon settled whatever grudge they had at the moment on screen.
"The love seat folds out into a bed," Zack told me. "You and Brando can have that."
"No!" Brandon said, his voice warbling with humor. "J, he is playing you. You think he's sounding nice, but that mattress is like sleeping on rocks!"
"Zack?" I asked and raised an eyebrow.
"That mattress is crap," he admitted. "But it's also a double. The air mattresses are single and I'm not sleeping with Seth. He steals the covers."
"That's nothing compared to the way you fart in your sleep!" Seth retorted.
"And you?" I asked, draping my arms around Brandon's shoulders. "What bad habits do you have while you sleep?"
"He talks," Zack said in a deadpan tone. "Oh, J. Right there, J. Don't stop, J."
"Dick," Brandon said with a laugh. "I do not."
"What about you, Jer? Bad habit in your sleep?" Seth asked.
"I'm told I snore," I admitted. They all groaned. Jerks.
Once Brandon and Seth called the game, Zack put another movie on. We changed for bed and brushed before settling in. Brandon and I sat up a bit, leaning on the pillows and cuddled into each other.
"Don't let me fall asleep like this," I told him quietly, my eyes already feeling heavy and my body relaxed.
"Because you won't sleep well. You can't be comfortable in this position," I said.
"Why don't you let me worry about how comfortable I am?" he asked and squeezed me lightly. I shook my head and dragged us both into more of a lying down position. I placed my head on his chest and breathed in. The jersey was clearly an outlier. The warmth of his chest beneath me, the rhythmic rise and fall of his chest and the steady beat of his heart were like an opiate. Soon, I was asleep and dreaming of lying under the stars with Brandon. We must have been in a desert because there were no buildings, just the wide night sky filled with glittering stars. A complex feeling of completeness, of peace and comfort and...I'm not sure what else, filled my senses.
It brought to mind the feeling that I was where I was supposed to be, where I belonged. If Brandon was right, maybe I'd felt this before with him, as a child. It wasn't sexual, it was deep in my soul - where it attached to his.Previous Chapter