Trip met Kendall and me for breakfast on Monday morning.
“Did you have fun on Saturday?” Kendall asked him. She was trying to be sly, but I saw through her act.
“Yeah, I did,” Trip said. “Thanks again for inviting me to the party at your parents’ RV.”
Needless to say, Kendall had invited Abby to the party as well. Gina also came by, but she didn’t stay long. She had to meet Jessica, her sorority big sister, for the game itself. (Sorority girls seemed to travel in packs.)
Kendall, Abby, Trip, Drew, and I had a fun time at the football game; UT beat Georgia Tech, 10–7. Afterward, Drew headed off with his ΣΑΕ friends, and the rest of us hung out at Kendall and Abby’s apartment.
Trip and I also ended up studying with Kendall and Abby on Sunday (once again, by Kendall’s design).
“Maybe you and Paul could come hang out with us again sometime,” Kendall said, interrupting my retrospection.
When I returned my attention to the present, it took me a moment to realize that she was talking to Trip. I shot her a meaningful look, which she blithely ignored.
“Sure,” Trip said. “That’d be fun. But…”
“But…?” Kendall prompted.
“I don’t know when I can,” he said. “I’ve got four midterms this week. And I’ve got an English paper to finish.” Then he glanced at me. “Just be lucky you don’t have to take it.”
“Oh,” I said, “don’t think I’m getting off easy. I may not be taking freshman English, but that doesn’t mean I’m not taking any English. I’ve got a paper due in my American Lit. class.”
“You mean you volunteered to take more English than you have to?”
“Sure,” I said. “I’ve gotta have an elective, and it might as well be something I enjoy. Why? What’re you taking for your elective?”
“Accounting,” he said.
“See? I can’t imagine wanting to take Accounting.”
“Well, I think I’m going to minor in business. With all that I want to do, it’ll come in handy someday.”
I nodded. I’d been thinking of getting an English minor, or maybe an Art History minor.
“I kind of stumbled upon my minors,” Kendall said. “I couldn’t decide what I wanted to take—it all sounded so interesting. I’ve always known I wanted to be a psychiatrist, and I wanted my undergrad degree to be psychology, but I also wanted to take English, philosophy, sociology, religious studies, and women’s studies classes. I couldn’t take them all, but I am going to end up with minors in English and women’s studies. On top of that, though, I’ve got to take classes for medical school, like Organic Chemistry.”
“You are entirely too educated for your own good,” I said.
“But I thought you liked smart women,” she said.
“I do,” I teased. “But not too smart.”
Trip and I chuckled at Kendall’s faux-pained look. At that point, the conversation turned to everyday things. When we finished eating, we headed out. Trip walked with us as far as the Humanities building and then said goodbye.
Outside Ayers Hall, Kendall and I stopped for a moment.
“Are you coming over after modeling?” she asked.
“Gina and I were supposed to go to the library together. Why don’t you come with us?”
“I can’t,” she said evasively. “I’ve got a paper to write for Child Psych.”
I wanted to argue with her that she could write the paper in the library just as well as in her apartment, but that wasn’t the point. She simply didn’t want to be around Gina. She knew it, and I knew it.
“It’s quieter in the apartment,” she said, sensing my dark thoughts.
It’s a library, for cryin’ out loud! I thought.
“I’d better get to class,” she said at last.
I kissed her goodbye and then watched as she walked down the back side of the Hill.
With a sigh, I walked into Ayers and headed upstairs to my Calculus class.
After Design class, I headed down to Studio 6. In the hallway, I took out my sketchpad and sat down. I was in the mood for something different from Italy or Greece, so I sifted through my memories. One building immediately sprang to mind.
During our time in Paris, Gina and I had simply explored and enjoyed ourselves. We were in the City of Light, the home of some of the most beautiful art and architecture in all of Europe.
One breezy afternoon—the weather was unseasonably cool for summer—our waiter overheard us speaking English. He was a student at the American University of Paris, he explained, and he was delighted for the chance to speak English. We struck up a conversation, much to the consternation of the maître d’. When we asked what sights we should see, the waiter immediately recommended one. Then he gave us directions. Gina and I thanked him and headed for the Metro.
When we arrived at the Place de l’Opéra, the Paris Opera House, I stood at the end of the street and simply stared. The building was magnificent. At the time, I had no idea what architectural style it was or who had designed it. All I knew was that it took my breath away. Without a doubt, it’s one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.
As my mind drew back to the present, I smiled at the memory. Gina had teased me about my sense of wonder, but I think she shared some of it, and she definitely delighted in my enthusiasm. She had even gone to the library with me after we returned to the U.S.—so I could check out books on all the architecture we’d seen in Europe.
Still smiling, I flipped to a new page in my sketchpad and began to draw. The opera house’s Neo-Baroque façade was incredibly complicated. Vaulted arcades supported pairs of columns, while the columns themselves framed large french windows. A bronze sculpture—patinaed with age—crowned the low dome, and the building’s flanking pediments were topped by still more sculpture.
With the building firmly in my mind’s eye, I drew meticulously, reproducing details I didn’t know I remembered. As I began to shade the arcades, I sensed someone beside me. When I glanced up, Christy smiled at me. I smiled in reply and then returned to my drawing. I could’ve spent hours on it, simply filling in details, but the bell rang before I was half-finished.
“The Paris Opera House, right?” Christy asked.
“That’s The Dance, by Carpeaux,” she said, pointing to my roughed-in sketch of the sculpture at ground level. “He was a French Realist,” she added. “I love his sculpture.”
“I guess I paid more attention to the building than the sculpture,” I said.
“Why?” she asked, genuinely perplexed. “The sculpture is part of the building. One beauty lends itself to another.”
“I guess I never thought of it that way.”
“Carpeaux studied at the École des Beaux-Arts. Didn’t a lot of architects study there as well?”
“Yeah,” I said, somewhat amazed at her knowledge. Then I pointed to my drawing. “This is sometimes called the Garnier Opera House. The architect, Charles Garnier, was a Beaux-Arts student. Lots of famous architects studied there. As a matter of fact, most of the large public buildings in New York and Chicago are Beaux-Arts style,” I finished.
“See?” she said with a grin. “Art and architecture go hand in hand.” As if to illustrate her point, she gestured at the building around us—the Art & Architecture building. “Without architects,” she added whimsically, “artists wouldn’t have anyplace to display our art. And without artists, architects wouldn’t have anything worthwhile to display in their buildings.”
I fought not to grin, but ultimately lost the battle.
“It’s true,” she said.
“You two again,” Siobhan interrupted from the studio doorway.
“Christy tells me you’re an architecture student,” Siobhan said to me. “I thought you’d be an art student,” she added. Then she noticed my sketchpad. She gestured and I let her look at my half-finished drawing. “Impressive detail,” she said. “Christy said you were talented, and she was right.”
Beside me, the blonde shifted nervously, and I felt my face heat.
“Are you a third-year student?” Siobhan asked. “Fourth-year?”
“Actually, I’m a freshman,” I said, somewhat sheepishly.
“Oh, splendid. Then you’re still in the wide-eyed wonder stage. Which architecture professors do you have?”
“Spielman for Intro, Ledbetter for Drawing, and Joska for Design,” I finished sourly.
“I don’t know Professor Spielman,” she said, “but Don Ledbetter is good. And you’re lucky to have Professor Joska.”
I merely blinked at her. She obviously didn’t know Laszlo Joska or his disagreeable personality.
“The university itself is very lucky to have him,” she added.
“Are we talking about the same Professor Joska?” I asked. How many could there be? I wondered rhetorically.
“Oh, yes,” Siobhan said. “He and I came here at the same time. The School of Art did quite a bit to persuade me to join the faculty. The College of Architecture undoubtedly did the same for him.”
“Siobhan’s a world-famous sculptress,” Christy explained. “She’s officially an Artist in Residence.”
“Hold on a second,” I interrupted. I mentally cringed at being rude, but I was dying to know what Siobhan meant by “the university itself is very lucky to have” Joska. So I asked her.
“You don’t know?” she replied.
I shook my head.
“He’s won a number of design awards,” she said. “And he gave up a position at MIT to come here.”
“Hold on, he was a professor at MIT?”
“And he’s a famous architect?”
“Oh, yes. The dean practically turned over UT’s design curriculum to him. In fact, Professor Joska teaches most of the first-year design classes.”
“Most of the— You mean I’ll have him for the rest of the year?!”
“If you’re lucky, yes,” Siobhan said.
I don’t think she understood why I let out a hopeless cry of frustration.
A few minutes later, clad only in my robe, I sat on the stool in the center of the circle of easels. As I stared at the female model’s empty stool, I sullenly pondered my future.
“I can’t fucking believe it,” I muttered.
I was so preoccupied that I didn’t even notice when the female model entered the studio. I wouldn’t have seen much anyway; she simply breezed into the office.
When I looked up, Christy was grinning at me. I didn’t know what she had to grin about, but I tried to smile in return.
“Sorry I’m late,” the female model said as she emerged from the office.
I didn’t even look up as she walked to her stool (although I did notice that she had nice legs and painted toenails).
When she turned toward me, she gasped.
At the sound, I looked up and got the shock of my life.
“Are we ready?” Siobhan asked.
I swallowed hard. When Siobhan held out her hand, I paused for a moment. Then, in a daze, I untied my robe.
“Paul, meet Wren,” Siobhan said. “Wren, meet Paul.”
Holy shit, I railed silently. First Christy, and now Wren.
Why hadn’t Christy told me? For that matter, Wren looked as shocked as I felt, so Christy probably hadn’t told her friend either. When I glanced up at the blonde, her eyes twinkled mischievously. Then she inclined her head, her grin turning whimsical. Finally, she turned back to her drawing, but she never stopped smiling.
Wren shifted and I was tempted to look at her, but I didn’t dare. I already thought she was attractive, and if I let my mind wander, I wasn’t sure I could keep from getting an erection.
In self-defense, I turned my thoughts to something sure to keep my dick limp: Joska.
I wondered how I’d survive—if I’d survive—another two quarters of his hectoring. He wanted me to be perfect, and I just wasn’t living up to his standards.
Well, I thought, screw him. If he wants me to be perfect, I’ll be perfect. I’ll learn everything I can about architecture. And then I’ll show him.
In the past, if I wanted to learn something, I read a book. With Joska, I got the feeling that simple book-learning wouldn’t be enough. Nor would it be enough to create a picture-perfect drawing of anyplace I’d seen.
As I morosely pondered my fate, I came to a sudden and startling conclusion.
I knew what the inside of the Paris Opera House smelled like. I’d felt the travertine blocks of the Colosseum under my feet. I could vividly remember the sun-blasted white of the buildings on the Acropolis.
But that wasn’t enough.
As much as I hated to admit it, Joska was right. I couldn’t sail through life drawing pretty pictures.
How was the Paris Opera House built? It was a marvel of design and elegance, as beautiful within as it was without. Yet it was built on a cramped site, atop a natural spring and an underground lake.
Why didn’t the Colosseum collapse under its own weight? The building was massive, designed to hold more than 50,000 spectators. But it had eighty exits, which could disgorge all those spectators in fifteen minutes. And it was built in the first century A.D.
What had the Parthenon looked like in its heyday? The temple was a perfect example of Doric architecture, but it was also replete with optical illusions, all designed to make the building look even more impressive. The Greeks had known all those little tricks, nearly 2,500 years ago.
As beautiful as those buildings were, someone had purposefully designed them. An architect had created them from his imagination and, more importantly, from his experience.
I was a good artist, and I knew I could draw beautiful buildings. But could I design a stunning building on top of an underground lake? Could I design a massive building, capable of withstanding its own weight, as well as the test of time? Could I design a building to seamlessly combine tricks of light, dimension, scale, and proportion?
Unfortunately, I knew the answers to those questions: no, no, and no.
Then I thought about Professor Joska’s quote from Michelangelo, “If people knew how hard I have to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem wonderful at all.”
I knew how hard Michelangelo had to work, and it did seem wonderful.
I knew that I’d never achieve even a fraction of Michelangelo’s fame, but deep down, I was willing to work that hard. I was willing to set my goals higher than I thought I could achieve. I was willing to…
I looked up suddenly and shook my head to clear it.
Siobhan stood close, holding my robe. Class was over.
Wren looked at me, her head cocked to the side.
Christy’s eyes darted between me and her easel as she feverishly added details to her drawing.
“Are you okay, Paul?” Siobhan asked.
Still staring at me, Wren put on her robe and tied it. In a semi-stupor, I took my robe from Siobhan and donned it.
“Why don’t you use the office first,” I suggested to Wren.
A few minutes later, when she emerged, I was still in my own little world. Without looking up, I walked into the office and shut the door behind me. I got dressed mechanically, my thoughts tumultuous. Then, as I tied my shoes, I came to a decision.
No matter what Joska demanded, I’d do it. No matter how hard he tried to beat me down, I’d keep standing up. No matter how much he criticized me, I’d keep coming back for more.
Surprisingly, I felt as if the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. I don’t know why, but I didn’t really care, either. I knew what I wanted to do, and I was going to do it.
With a headshake at my own reckless determination, I slung my backpack over my shoulder.
I felt good—really good—for the first time in weeks.
When I opened the office door, Siobhan was bidding farewell to Christy and Wren. A moment later, she left. The two girls were halfway around the circle of easels, and they hadn’t heard me open the door. On a whim, I pushed it most of the way closed. Then I stepped out of sight and paused to listen. The girls’ voices were low, but if I concentrated, I could just make them out.
“Why didn’t you tell me the guy was Mysterious?” Wren hissed. “You just said he was cute.”
“I guess it was your turn to be tongue-tied,” Christy said evenly. “And his name is Paul.”
“But if you’d’ve told me, I could’ve done something.”
“Like what?” Christy asked. “Flirt with him?”
I grinned at the teasing in her voice. Then I leaned closer to the door, straining to hear.
“It’s kinda hard to do that when you don’t have anything to hide,” Christy added. “Don’t you think?”
“But still…,” Wren said. “I could’ve made him… I dunno… something. Now I’ll never get the upper hand back.”
“Oh, get over it,” Christy said. “He’s a nice guy.”
“Oh?” Wren countered. “And how do you know that?”
“I’ve talked to him a lot. And he walked me back to the dorm all last week.”
“He’s got a girlfriend,” Christy said. “And he’s been a perfect gentleman. Besides, you know how I feel about Simon.”
“Simon?” Wren mocked. “Simon’s just— Oh, never mind. Forget I said anything. Let’s figure out how I can keep teasing Mysterious.”
“His name is Paul,” Christy said deliberately.
“Okay. Jeez. You’d think you’ve got the hots for him or something.”
“I told you, he’s a nice guy. And… well…”
After a moment of silence, they both giggled.
“He’s really cute,” Christy said.
“And he’s got a great body,” Wren added. “Did you see the size of his…”
At that point, their voices dropped to a whisper.
I leaned forward, desperate to pick up their faint conversation.
As I strained, I felt my arm shifting. I was using a table to brace myself, and it had started moving. In a slow-motion panic, I fell forward. My face hit the door jamb before I could catch myself. My nose flattened and then my shoulder hit the door.
It closed with a distinctive click-clack.
My face hot with embarrassment, I pushed away from the wall and stood upright. For a fraction of a second, I panicked. What should I do? Had the girls heard the door close? Would they realize that I’d been eavesdropping? What would they…?
With an act of will, I took a deep, calming breath. My nose still throbbed, and my face felt flushed, but I had to do something. After all, I didn’t want to seem like I’d been eavesdropping (which is exactly what I’d been doing, of course).
After another deep breath, I swallowed hard and then opened the door.
When I stepped into view, the girls glanced at me. Christy held my eyes and smiled. Wren tried to look coquettish, but when she realized that I wasn’t flustered, she gave up. Fortunately, she didn’t realize that I was too nervous to be flustered. With each step, however, my pulse steadied and my composure slowly returned. When I reached the girls, I had my emotions mostly under control.
“You’re still Mysterious,” Wren said, as if she were trying to convince herself as much as me.
“And you’re still Beautiful,” I shot back.
Christy chuckled softly. Then she looked at me and smiled. After a moment, she hesitantly asked if I wanted to see her drawing.
She had drawn us from the shoulders up, and I could almost feel the emotions as I looked at the drawing. In it, Wren’s eyes were averted, but she seemed to be looking at me on the sly. Then I looked at my face; Christy had perfectly captured my expression of anxiety and sullen frustration. But as I looked at my eyes, I realized that she had also captured a sense of resolve and self-confidence that I hadn’t known was there.
“Do I really look like that?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said softly. “I don’t know what you were thinking, but you became… I don’t know… defiant.”
“About what?” Wren asked, her curiosity overwhelming her desire to remain aloof.
For a long moment, I simply stared at her, wondering how much to tell her about Professor Joska. Finally, I admitted to myself what I’d been thinking all along.
“I guess I decided that I’ll be damned if I’m going to let anyone come between me and what I want to do with my life,” I said with calm intensity.
Later, Gina and I ate dinner together and then studied in the library until it closed. It was almost like we were in high school again, and we enjoyed ourselves (even though we both had our noses buried in our books).
She asked why Kendall didn’t join us, and I made up an excuse. I didn’t like lying to her, but she’d get upset if she knew the truth. Worse, I couldn’t blame her.
When I got back to my room, I lay awake in bed, thinking about my three-way relationship. It used to be hard enough juggling two girlfriends. But lately, I seemed to be doing two separate juggling acts. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t know what to do about it either.
Finally, with a conscious effort, I put Kendall and Gina out of my mind. When I did, my thoughts turned to the Art History girls.
I liked Christy; she was easy to talk to. We had a lot in common, and she was friendly as well. She was pretty, but more importantly, she seemed pretty on the inside. (Gina’s friend Regan was attractive, but I still didn’t like her.)
As I replayed the overheard conversation between Christy and Wren, I wondered who Simon was. I figured he was Christy’s boyfriend, but Wren didn’t like him. Curious.
Wren was still a bit of a mystery herself. She seemed to have a wild streak, much like Gina. I usually liked that sense of adventure, but I reminded myself that I didn’t need another adventurous girl in my life (not as anything more than a friend, at least).
As I thought about Wren’s body, however, I felt my dick swell. Even though I hadn’t spent much time looking directly at her, I did have a good memory. So I closed my eyes and pictured her.
She was shorter than Gina, by about an inch. And like Gina, her breasts were full and round (although her nipples were light brown, compared to Gina’s dark ones). Her stomach was soft and smooth, and she trimmed her pubic hair. Surprisingly, she had the remnants of a good tan (and no tan lines—very interesting). She didn’t have any hard angles or well-defined muscles, but she certainly wasn’t soft.
As I pictured Wren’s body, I let out a soft chuckle. In a way, I owed a debt of gratitude to Professor Joska; if I hadn’t been preoccupied, I would’ve had a tough time keeping my thoughts away from sex. The privacy of my dorm room, however, was a different matter altogether. (Billy’s play was entering the final stage of preparation, and the crew was working all night for the next day’s dress rehearsal.)
Since I had the room to myself, I threw back my sheet and skinned off my underwear. Then I pictured Wren in my mind. I imagined her on her knees before me, her mouth open as I stepped toward her. While I slowly stroked my erection, I imagined her gently kissing the tip.
Next, I pictured her on her back, her legs spread in invitation. In my imagination, her pussy was completely shaved, her lips plump and slick with arousal. I knelt between her thighs and ran my hands over her legs. Then I lifted them and kissed her painted toes. She moaned as I entered her, of course. She was tight, but not too tight; wet, but not too wet.
In the real world, I stroked my dick a little faster and imagined Wren on hands and knees in front of me, her round, firm ass in my hands. She moaned as I slammed into her, and I imagined her breasts swinging with each thrust.
Lost in my fantasy, I stroked myself, my left hand cupping my balls as my right blurred up and down. With my eyes still closed, I imagined Wren begging me to fuck her harder. I gripped her hips and slammed into her, her tight pussy clutching at me every time I pulled back.
A moment later, I felt my orgasm welling up. I imagined pulling my pussy-slick cock from within her and pumping it, aiming it at her ass. Then I pictured an arc of white come spurting over her back. Without opening my eyes, I frantically reached for my box of tissues.
I felt the first surge of orgasmic bliss as my flailing left hand finally found the Kleenex. My muscles tensed up and I completely lost interest in anything other than my climax. Hot splatters of come landed on my chest and stomach. The next spurt followed the first, covering my abdomen with droplets of semen.
After several more gushes, my orgasm subsided and I sagged to the bed. My breathing was heavy and my mouth was dry, but a warm, wonderful feeling radiated from my groin. I’d have to clean myself up sooner or later, but at the moment, I didn’t care.
The next morning at breakfast, Kendall looked at me and I wondered if she could tell that I’d “cheated” on her. It wasn’t cheating, of course, but jerking off while fantasizing about another girl wasn’t something I did very often.
I thought about Susan sometimes, or Stacy, but Kendall knew about both of them. Other times, I thought about buxom Heather, or super-sexy Annika. I even thought about Leah or Erin every once in a while. But Kendall knew about all of them as well.
Kendall didn’t know about Wren. And instead of thinking about something from my past, I was imagining something that hadn’t happened (nor would it, if I had any sense). So while it wasn’t cheating, strictly speaking, I still felt a little guilty about it. It’s irrational, I know, but that’s how I am sometimes.
“Is that all you’re eating?” Kendall asked.
I almost sagged in relief at her question. I didn’t really want to defend my choice of toast and an orange, but I also didn’t want her looking across the table and asking, “So, do you really want to have sex with Wren instead of me?”
“Paul, you need to eat something,” she said. “You work out all the time and you never eat. It’s not healthy.”
“I don’t want to gain the ‘Freshman Fifteen,’” I said as calmly as I could.
“You’re going to lose fifteen pounds if you’re not careful,” she said.
“So? I need to lose a few pounds anyway.”
“No, you don’t,” she insisted. “I love you just the way you are.”
“Isn’t that a song?” I asked, trying to change the subject.
“You know what I mean.”
“Look, you’re not my mother. And I’m not a kid. All right?” When she looked wounded, I apologized. “Listen,” I said, calmer, “I just need to lose a couple of pounds. I’m not doing wrestling workouts anymore, and I gained too much weight over the summer. I just need to shed a little baby fat. That’s all.”
“I worry about you,” she said.
“I know,” I said, taking her hand.
“And I just want you to be happy.”
I’d be happier if I weighed less, I thought. Fortunately, I had the good sense not to say that aloud.
“I’m sorry,” Kendall said.
“It’s okay. I’m sorry I snapped at you.”
She smiled bleakly. “How was modeling yesterday?” she asked, changing the subject.
“It was good,” I said. After a tentative pause, I decided to tell her about Wren. “You’re not going to believe who the female model is, though.”
“Um… what’s her name? Christy?”
I shook my head.
With a frown, she gazed at the table, thinking hard. Then she looked up suddenly, her eyes wide.
“Yep,” I said.
“The other Art History girl?!”
“Her name’s Wren,” I said.
“Like the bird?”
“Mmm hmm. She and Christy are roommates.”
“Oh?” she asked, her expression curious (and a little teasing). “And how do you know that?”
“I talked to them after class,” I said.
“You think they’re cute,” she accused.
I tried to hide my emotions, but Kendall was Kendall, and she saw the truth. I cringed, waiting for her to get upset.
To my surprise, she laughed.
I furrowed my brow in confusion.
“They are cute,” she said. “I told you that the first time we saw them.”
“I remember,” I said, blushing as I recalled the pie conversation.
“So,” she asked slyly, “what’s Wren look like?”
“Why?” I asked, wary.
It was Kendall’s turn to blush.
“Oh ho,” I said. “You think she’s cute too.”
“Paul, not so loud,” she chided urgently. Then she looked around to see if anyone had overheard.
“You do,” I said. “You think she’s cute.”
“Can we talk about something else?”
“Sure,” I said with a smug grin. “Like what? Pie?”
Kendall’s eyes widened.
“I bet some pie would taste good right now.”
“Mmmmm,” I continued. “I’d like to watch you eat some pie.”
“What time’s your football game tonight?” she asked.
“Nice, warm, tasty pie. While you eat some pie, I can fill your pie from behind. You like my pie filling, right?”
“Okay,” I said at last.
“Goodness, is it hot in here?”
With that, we shared a grin at her tacit admission that she was attracted to Wren.
Then I remembered a fantasy of hers. She had mentioned it during our Truth or Dare game with Dennis and Elaine Raeford.
“You remember,” she said, reading my expression.
Her fantasy was for the two of us to meet a woman, someone we didn’t know, and seduce her. Kendall wanted to watch me have sex with the stranger, and then she wanted me to force her to have sex with the woman as well.
At the time, it was a fun fantasy to think about, but I couldn’t imagine it actually happening. First, I had no idea how to go about picking up some random woman—who’d have to be interested in a ménage à trois, no less. Second, I didn’t think Kendall was serious.
Many of her fantasies were just that, fantasies. For instance: she wanted to be tied up and raped, but that was play-acting. I knew she didn’t have any desire to be raped for real. (I suspected that whatever had happened with Big Mistake Guy was akin to rape, and I knew how she responded to any mention of him.)
Then I thought about how she had reacted when she first saw Christy and Wren.
“Are you really attracted to her?” I asked at last.
“Who? Wren? Or Christy?”
“Either,” I said in sudden understanding. Then I read Kendall’s expression. “Both?!”
After a moment’s hesitation, she nodded. “But Wren especially.”
“You think she could be the one that we… you know?”
“I don’t know,” she answered honestly. Then she glanced up, her eyes searching mine. Finally, she blushed and looked away. “It’s fun to think about,” she said softly.
“Yeah,” I said. Then I reached out and took her hand.
It was shaking.
Gina and Susan were the only women she’d ever had sex with, so for her to think about having sex with another woman—for real—it must’ve been serious.
“I’m not… you know… one of them or anything,” she whispered.
A lesbian, I mentally supplied. Then I nodded.
“I just think… you know.”
Once again, I nodded.
“My fear of flying,” she said, smiling thinly.
“And… I want to make you happy.”
For a long moment, we were silent. I squeezed her hand and she smiled in reply. Then she looked up, her eyes full of love. After a moment, she blushed and looked down. She must’ve been thinking about Wren. I smiled to myself.
“So,” she asked, “what time’s your football game?”
With an understanding smile, I let her change the subject.
“Six o’clock,” I said, “versus the Carrick First Floor team. Gina will be there. Maybe after the game we can do something together,” I suggested. “Just the three of us.”
“Okay,” Kendall said quietly.
We finished breakfast in companionable silence and then I walked her to her Child Psychology class. After that, I headed over to the A&A building, where I could hang out for an hour before my Drawing class started.
Once there, I took out my sketchpad and began drawing arcades. With proper support on the ends, an arcade (a series of arches) is an inherently stable structure. The very weight of the building material keeps everything in place, and the lateral loads from the individual arches are spread to the next arch, and so on.
A circular building like the Colosseum was constructed almost entirely of arches, each one supporting the next. Like tiers in a wedding cake, the builders had added layers of arches. And unlike post-and-lintel—trabeated—construction, arches could support a stupendous amount of weight. It’s a very elegant system, as the Romans discovered.
By the time nine o’clock rolled around, I had a page full of arches and vaults. But then I realized that I was still drawing pretty pictures with no substance. So I spent most of Drawing class thinking about how arches and vaults fit into the overall design of a building. I know I probably should’ve been paying attention to Professor Ledbetter, but his lecture was on the importance of proper dimensioning (a fairly dry subject to begin with).
When the bell rang at the end of class, I closed my sketchpad.
“Would you stay a moment, Paul?” Professor Ledbetter asked.
I looked around to make sure he was talking to me. Unfortunately, he was.
“You know,” he said after the other students had left, “this really is important stuff.”
I looked at him as innocently as I could.
He didn’t buy it.
“Um… sorry,” I said at last.
“We really can see all that’s going on from up here,” he said in gentle reproach. Then he turned serious. “If you want to be an architect, this is part of it. It may be boring, but it’s important. God is in the details, you know.”
“Yes, sir,” I said. “It won’t happen again.”
“Good,” he said. “But that’s not the reason I asked you to stay after.”
“No,” he said with an embarrassed cough. “I was talking to Professor O’Riordan yesterday afternoon.”
Professor O’Riordan? I wondered. Who’s he? I don’t have anyone named O’Riordan. “Who?” I finally asked.
“Professor O’Riordan,” he repeated. “She said you’re a model in her Life Drawing class.”
“Um… yes,” he said. “She is a bit less formal.” Then, “She told me about some of your drawings. Do you mind if I have a look?”
“O-okay,” I said. Then I handed over my sketchpad.
He flipped through several pages of doodles: capitals and entablatures, Palladian windows, and a page of nothing but Art Deco ornaments and stylized machinery (I’d been in a weird mood that day). Finally, he turned to the illustration of the Tempietto di San Pietro.
“Ah, Bramante,” he said softly. “This is such a beautiful little building.” Then he turned through a few more doodle pages, nodding appreciatively. When he reached my sketch of the Temple of Athena Nike, he paused. “Another little building,” he said with a smile. “Small, but grand in stature.”
“Ah, now this is a truly magnificent building,” he said, gazing at my drawing of the Paris Opera House. “It’s beautiful.” After a moment, he turned to the most recent page. Then he held it up. “Is this what you were so busy ignoring me for?”
I felt my face heat as I nodded.
He smiled to show me that he wasn’t angry, and then he looked back at the page of arcades and vaults.
I shifted nervously.
“It’s very good,” he said. “But you should put this much energy into dimensioning and lettering.” When I started to apologize, he forestalled me with a gesture. Then he looked at me seriously. “Would you like some helpful advice?”
“Artistically,” he said, flipping to the drawing of Bramante’s Tempietto, “these are very good. Exceptional, even. But they’re just that: artistic. It’s okay to be artistic,” he added. “A client’s first view of your overall design is often your watercolor rendering, and it should be artistically pleasing. But it shouldn’t look like a sketch.”
When he glanced at me to see if I understood, I furrowed my brow.
“Don’t be afraid to use a straightedge or a French curve,” he said. “You’ve got artistic talent, Paul, but you need to hone your skills. And the skills of an architect include precise, razor-sharp lines. These are good freehand drawings,” he said, holding up my sketchpad, “but they’re not architectural renderings.”
“I think I see what you mean,” I said at last.
“Good. Because I can train you to draw straight lines and smooth curves. I can teach you about lettering and even boring old dimensioning. But what I can’t teach is talent like this,” he said, brandishing my sketchpad again. “You either have it, or you don’t. It’s as simple as that. Professor O’Riordan thinks you ‘have it,’ and after seeing your drawings, I agree. But there’s a vast gulf between being artistic and being an architect. Do you understand?”
“Good. Now, as extra credit, to make up for ‘skipping’ today’s class, I want you to take an architectural element—any element you want, no matter how big or how small—and render it. I don’t want a sketch; I want something worthy of an architect. Use the techniques you’ve learned in class, and be precise,” he cautioned. “Remember, God is in the details.”
“Yes, sir,” I said. I certainly didn’t need the extra work, but it would be a challenge, which I’d enjoy.
“I know you’ve got midterms this week,” he said, “so I’ll give you the weekend to work on it. Have it on my desk by next Tuesday’s class.”
“And, Paul,” he said as I turned to go, “you really do need to pay attention in class. You might just learn a thing or two.”
Chagrined, I nodded.
With a smile, he shooed me out of the room.
I got to Art History a little early, but I still sat in the back of the auditorium. The syllabus called for a review, since Thursday was our midterm exam. I wasn’t looking forward to it, but I did need to go over the material.
Christy and Wren showed up predictably late. They giggled when they saw me, and then practically tumbled into their seats. Professor Dubois began lecturing a moment later.
Instead of paying attention to the lecture, I thought about Wren. Because she and I had seen each other nude, things had changed between us. It might not seem like a big deal, but a lot of a person’s sense of security is tied up in her clothes. Without them, Wren had nothing left to hide.
Once I’d seen Wren without her clothes, my attitude changed. If I wanted to, I could imagine the curve of her breast, or the half-hidden shape of her sex. The thing I couldn’t simply call up in my memory was her personality.
Why did she flirt with me? Why was she friends with Christy? Why did she model?
Once I got past the “I wonder what her tits look like” stage, I wanted to learn about her. Consequently, I wasn’t flustered when she turned and gave me a sultry look.
“Christy tells me you’ve got a girlfriend,” she whispered, leaning close.
“Is she the pretty brunette we see you with in the morning?”
I nodded again.
“How serious are you?” she asked.
I turned and silently gazed into her hazel eyes.
“I mean, could I tempt you away?” she asked.
“Would you want me if you could?” I asked coolly.
“What do you mean?” she asked, taken aback.
“If I were the kind of guy who’d cheat on his girlfriend, would you really want me?”
“That’s not what I asked,” she said defensively.
“But it’s what you meant.”
“It is not.”
“Suit yourself,” I said.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means,” I said, leaning close, my voice level, “that I’m not going to jump at the first beautiful body that comes along. You’ve seen my girlfriend; she’s gorgeous, and I love her. So, no, you probably couldn’t tempt me away. But if you’d like to stop this high school prick-tease shit and talk to me… well, that’s tempting. I mean, you seem like an interesting person.”
She sat back, stunned.
“Besides,” I added, “it’d be nice to talk to someone from home.”
“Home? What do you mean?”
“Christy told me you’re from Dunwoody.”
“I’m from Sandy Springs,” I said.
Her eyes widened.
“So we’ve got more in common than Art History and modeling,” I said. Then, with a roguish grin, I leaned close to her again. “And by the way, you are beautiful.” When she blinked incredulously, I continued. “But even though you’re a knockout, you’re still not going to tempt me away from my girlfriend with your body alone. You’d better use your mind too. Even then… I don’t know,” I finished with a theatrical shrug.
Flabbergasted, she sat back. Then she looked at me again, her eyes wide with disbelief. I don’t think she’d ever been told no before.
“What’s the matter, Wren?” Christy asked with a wry grin. “Tongue-tied?”
When Wren didn’t answer, Christy and I shared a smile. Her blue eyes twinkled when I winked at her.
With that, I sat back and felt my lips quirk up in a smug grin.
Even though I was looking at Professor Dubois, I didn’t hear a word she said. My heart was racing and I felt ten feet tall. Without a doubt, saying what I had was one of the coolest things I’d ever done.
After the intramural football game—which we won—I joined Kendall on the sidelines. Then I motioned Gina over to us. The girls weren’t exactly being friendly to each other, but they weren’t scowling either. They had both taken a little persuading, but they agreed to try and fix things. (Additionally, I hadn’t had sex with either of them in several days, so they were probably a little horny. I felt like a cad for manipulating them, but I wanted to hedge my bets.)
Trip knew that I was going somewhere with the girls, so he started organizing an impromptu after-game party. As planned, I begged off, telling the guys that I had to study. Trip neatly diverted their attention, which gave the girls and me a chance to slip away unnoticed.
I really did have to study, but I also wanted to spend some quality time with Kendall and Gina. Together. I didn’t know how to fix things, but if we were together, that would be a good start.
“Do you mind if I use your shower?” I asked Kendall when we reached her apartment.
“Sure,” she said. She looked like she wanted to join me, but she didn’t ask.
Fifteen minutes later, I emerged from the bathroom, scrubbed, shaved, and refreshed. I paused for a moment and then followed the sound of Kendall and Gina’s voices to Kendall’s room.
“Hi,” Gina said.
“Feeling better?” Kendall asked.
I nodded. They were sitting on Kendall’s bed, and seemed to be getting along, which was good. I closed the door, shed my towel, and reached for my change of clothes.
“What do y’all wanna do?” Gina asked.
“Mostly, I just want to spend some time with you two,” I said. “But I also need to study for my Design midterm.”
“We can go to the library,” Gina suggested.
“I guess,” Kendall said.
“I’ve got a Chem. test on Friday and a Bio. test on Monday. So I’ve got lots of studying to do,” Gina said. Then she turned to Kendall. “How about you?”
“I’ve got an O. Chem. exam on Friday,” Kendall said.
“Organic Chemistry, right? What’s that like?”
“It’s horrid… and it stinks,” Kendall said, wrinkling her nose. “I’ve smelled things coming out of the O. Chem. labs that I don’t ever want to smell again.”
“Is it hard?” Gina asked.
“It’s a lot of rote memorization,” Kendall answered with a shrug. “It’s basically a pre-med ‘weed out’ course.”
As Kendall and Gina started talking about their chemistry classes, I smiled to myself and slung my backpack over my shoulder. When the girls forgot to be annoyed with each other, they got along just fine. By the time we reached the library, they were making plans to quiz each other for their chemistry exams. I didn’t know how long it would last, but I was happy with the return to the way things used to be. I smiled to myself and held the door for them as we entered the library.
The main floors of the building had several large areas devoted to tables and chairs, but many of the smaller sections were almost private. Kendall suggested a part of the library that saw little traffic: the philosophy reference section. It was tucked into a corner of the building, and had only one table and four chairs.
When we got there, the study area was deserted. So we sat down, opened our books, and got to work. After two solid hours of studying, I leaned back and rubbed my eyes.
“Okay,” I said. “If I go over these design paradigms one more time, I think I’m gonna go crazy.”
“Be glad you’re not memorizing the properties of alkali metals,” Gina said.
“You think that’s bad?” Kendall asked. “Wait till you get to stereochemistry and classification of isomers. Yuck.”
I looked at my watch—it was after ten o’clock. The library closed in a couple of hours, but I was tired of studying. When I stood up to stretch, the girls decided that stretching wasn’t such a bad idea, so they stood as well.
When Gina laced her fingers together and thrust her hands above her head, her shirt rode up, revealing her midriff.
“Cute,” I said with a nod.
As she lowered her arms, she grinned at me. Then she grasped the hem of her shirt and flipped it up, flashing her bra-clad breasts.
“I dare you to take off your shirt,” I said.
Since we were in an isolated part of the library, she grinned and pulled her shirt over her head.
Kendall looked around nervously, but she also looked a little excited.
“How ’bout the bra?” I asked.
Gina arched an eyebrow and then reached between her breasts to release the catch on her bra. It fell open and she shrugged it off.
“And the skirt?”
“Paul,” Kendall cautioned.
“We’ll hear if anyone’s coming,” I said, although I wasn’t entirely sure that was true. It was a library, after all, with thick carpeting and lots of sound-absorbing books.
Gina bit her lower lip for a moment. Then, with a challenging look, she unzipped her skirt and let it fall to the floor.
“If we get caught, they’ll kick us out of school,” Kendall said.
That seemed to spur Gina on, and she hooked her thumbs in her panties before I could even ask. Instead of lowering them, however, she looked at me.
I lifted an eyebrow in question, but she simply cocked her head to the side, as if asking what I wanted her to do.
When I waggled my eyebrows at her, she smiled and lowered her panties.
“Next,” I suggested to Kendall.
“Paul, I can’t. What happens if someone sees us? They’ll call the campus police.”
Instead of replying, I gestured for Gina to come around the table. When she did, I pulled her close. Then I reached for Kendall and pulled her against me as well.
“I want to fuck you both,” I said, my voice pitched low. “Right here, in the library.”
Kendall squirmed anxiously, but Gina merely smiled in anticipation.
I kissed Gina quickly, feeling her pulse race.
She put her hand on my crotch and cupped the bulge of my erection.
When I broke the kiss with Gina, I turned to Kendall and kissed her as well.
As I did, Gina unzipped my pants and pulled out my erection. Then she sank to her knees in front of me.
I continued kissing Kendall as Gina began sucking me.
“At least sit down,” Kendall said when we broke the kiss. She was flushed, and her breathing had quickened. “The table will hide what we’re doing,” she explained.
With a nod, I pulled my cock from Gina’s hungry mouth. Then I hooked a chair with my foot and dragged it close. As soon as I sat down, Gina returned her lips to my manhood. Before Kendall sat, I stopped her.
“Take off your panties,” I said.
She looked around nervously, but then reached under her skirt. After a moment of fumbling, she tugged her underwear down her long legs.
“And your shirt,” I said.
She shook her head.
“Then take off your bra.”
She looked at me pleadingly, but I reached under her skirt and “persuaded” her by stroking her damp pussy.
With her shirt still on, she unhooked her bra and drew one shoulder strap through her sleeve and down her arm. Then she repeated the maneuver with the other strap. Finally, she tugged the garment from beneath her shirt.
I chuckled silently; we were accumulating quite a collection of discarded clothing.
With an eager smile, I pulled a chair next to mine and nodded for Kendall to sit. Between my legs, Gina took my cock as deep as she could, clamping her lips around the middle of my shaft.
When Kendall leaned in to kiss me, I reached behind her. Then I lifted her skirt and cupped her bare ass.
“Put your hand on Gina’s head,” I said to Kendall when we broke the kiss. “Direct her while she sucks me.”
After a moment’s hesitation, she moved her hand to Gina’s bobbing head.
“Do you remember when Gina taught you how to suck my cock?” I asked.
Kendall’s face flushed as she nodded.
“You’d never done it before,” I recalled quietly, “but you’d read about it.” When she nodded, I kissed her again. “You scraped me a couple of times with your teeth, but Gina showed you what to do. Do you remember?”
“Yes,” she breathed. Then she held me tight as I reached between her cheeks and started playing with her pussy.
“Gina wanted you and me to be happy together,” I said. With all that was going on—and where!—I couldn’t believe I was giving Kendall a lecture about how much Gina loved her. “She taught you how to make me happy,” I continued. “Would she do that if she didn’t love you?”
Kendall shook her head and then kissed me again. Her hand still rested atop Gina’s head, and I indicated it with a glance when we broke the kiss.
“Push her down,” I said. “Make her take me as deep as she can.”
Gina heard me, so she plunged her head down and wrapped her lips around my shaft. Then she gently sucked, her cheeks caving in and caressing the sides of my cock.
“Oh, God,” I groaned. “That’s nice.”
Gina moaned around my cock as she slowly pulled back, her lips dragging along my length.
“I wanna fuck her,” I said to Kendall. “And while I do, I want her to lick your pussy.”
Kendall started to protest, but my finger on her clit convinced her not to.
“Sit on the table and spread your legs,” I told her. Then I looked down at Gina. “Stand up and turn around. Sit on my cock.”
In a moment, we changed positions. I put my hands on Gina’s hips as she reached between her legs to guide my shaft to her opening.
With a whimper, she lowered herself onto my hard-on. She was hot and wet, and I slid into her easily.
“Lift your skirt,” I directed Kendall. “Show us your pussy.”
She put one foot up on the table and I shoved a chair toward her so she’d have someplace to put her other foot. When she spread her legs, her pussy spread open, revealing her pink inner folds.
With my hands still on Gina’s hips to steady her, the darker girl leaned forward and began sucking Kendall’s clit. I lifted Gina’s hips and then she started moving on her own, gently bouncing atop me, my cock impaling her each time she sat back.
“Lift your shirt,” I said to Kendall. “Play with your nipples.”
At that point, I was too far gone to worry about anyone discovering us. We were in a seldom-used part of the library, and we were trying to be quiet, but a librarian or another student could still happen upon us at any minute.
Instead of worrying, I concentrated on the feeling as Gina’s pussy glided up and down my shaft.
For five or ten minutes, we moved together, soft moans and whimpers occasionally breaking the silence.
“Stand up,” I said to Gina with a pat on her ass. “I want to fuck Kendall.”
She moaned, but lifted herself off me.
“Suck her nipples while I fuck her,” I said to Gina.
Then I eased into Kendall’s tight pussy. Since Gina had been fingering her, it only took me two thrusts to completely bury my length inside her. She moaned softly when my hips ground against her pelvis. Then she moaned again as Gina latched onto one of her nipples.
For the next several minutes, I simply plowed into Kendall, her pussy gently contracting around me. With my free hand, I played with Gina’s pussy from behind.
Finally, I pulled out of Kendall, my erection shiny with her juices.
Gina didn’t need me to tell her to drop to her knees. She knew what I wanted as well as I did, and she was more than happy to comply. As she sucked me, I felt my orgasm welling up.
I pulled Kendall toward me and kissed her fiercely. At the same time, Gina went into overdrive, sucking my cock while she pumped her fist around the base, driving me toward release.
A moment later, I groaned into Kendall’s mouth as I filled Gina’s. Spurt after spurt gushed over her tongue, and she swallowed it greedily. When I finished coming, she sucked my still-hard cock, nursing it and savoring the taste.
When I looked down, she was playing with her pussy while she sucked me. Kendall was still hot and ready as well, but it would take me several minutes to recover. (I was hard enough for Gina to enjoy sucking me, but I wasn’t nearly hard enough to fuck either of them.)
“I want you two to sixty-nine,” I said to Kendall.
“Mmm hmm. I wanna watch you go down on her. I wanna watch you make each other come.”
“Oh, God, yes,” Gina panted.
I arched an eyebrow at Kendall.
I reached between her legs and teased her clit.
“Please, Kendall,” Gina begged. “You know you want to.”
I kept playing with Kendall’s pussy until she gave in.
“I just know we’re gonna get caught,” she said ruefully. “And then they’re gonna kick us out of school.” Then she gazed at me. “I can’t believe I let you talk me into this.”
In spite of her words, she stood and moved over Gina, who was already on her back. As Kendall knelt over the darker girl, I pulled a chair over. Then I sat down and stroked my semi-hard cock.
In a moment, the girls forgot I was there. For several long minutes, they tongued and sucked each other, whimpering softly.
Gina came first, crying out softly as she did. When her orgasm subsided, she paused for a moment, her breathing heavy. Then she opened her eyes and smiled up at me.
A moment later, she resumed sucking Kendall’s clit. The taller girl groaned softly and hung her head. With Gina’s skillful lips and tongue at work, Kendall didn’t hold out long. When she climaxed, she shuddered and gripped Gina’s hips to steady herself.
Still in their sixty-nine, both girls panted from the exertion.
When she recovered enough to move, Kendall threw her leg to the side and rolled upright. After she did, Gina sat up. Kendall’s knees were red, from the carpeting, but she flashed me a sated smile.
Before I could tease her about her reluctance, we heard someone coming.
“Quick, hide under the table,” I hissed to Gina, who was still nude.
As she did, I lunged across the table to retrieve her clothes and underwear. Kendall straightened her skirt and top as I snatched her underwear from the table as well. Frantically, I threw the bundle of clothes at Gina.
I could hear the person drawing closer, the jingle of keys heralding their arrival.
Kendall hastily sat down and tried to compose herself.
I reached for a chair and then pulled it to the table. I had just sat down when a librarian came around the corner.
“The library closes in fifteen minutes,” she said.
As she turned to go, she stopped.
Had she heard us? Had she seen Gina? Could she tell that we’d been having sex?
My heart raced, and I frantically tried to come up with an explanation.
In growing panic, I watched the librarian’s nostrils flare. She sniffed the air once, then twice. When she furrowed her brow, I almost leapt up to explain. Instead, I smiled as innocently as I could. She flashed me a look of reproach, but didn’t say anything.
“Fifteen minutes,” she stressed.
As she turned to leave, I sagged back in my chair and quietly let out my held breath.
When the librarian was out of earshot, I pushed my chair away from the table and motioned for Gina to come out from under it. With the bundle of clothes cradled to her chest, she crawled toward me. When she emerged, she sat back and shook her head in disbelief.
A moment later, I realized that my dick was still sticking through my fly.
It’s a good thing I didn’t jump up to explain the situation, I thought wryly.
Then I glanced at Kendall. Her hair was in disarray, and her braless nipples threatened to poke through her shirt. To make matters worse, her face and chest were flushed.
I could only imagine what I looked like.
The librarian must have known what we’d been up to, but without catching us in the act, she didn’t have the nerve to say anything.
We looked at each other for a few moments in stunned silence.
Then Gina started giggling. A moment later, I laughed as well. Kendall tried to maintain her composure, but the absurdity of the situation finally got to her and she laughed right along with us.
If anyone had seen us at that point—three laughing, half-naked idiots—they would’ve thrown us under the loony bin.
On Wednesday, Christy, Wren, and I walked back to the dorms together after Siobhan’s class. Christy shared her bag of carrot and celery sticks with us, and we talked about life in general. (I also learned their last names: Christy Carmichael and Wren Hilliard.)
Wren still didn’t quite know what to make of me, and I was having fun keeping her off balance. I obviously didn’t lose my cool when we modeled together, and even though I had finally taken a good look at her body—including arching an eyebrow when she “accidentally” flashed me a shot of her pussy—I didn’t react predictably.
In reality, I’d spent most of the class thinking about my Faulkner paper. My eyes were open, but if I actually thought about Wren, I knew I’d get a hard-on. So I mentally wrote the closing paragraphs of my paper. Wren didn’t know that, of course, so my lack of reaction to her body drove her to distraction.
To my surprise, Christy seemed to be enjoying Wren’s confusion as well. The girls were obviously good friends, but I think Christy liked seeing Wren get a little payback.
When we reached Morrill, Wren turned toward me.
“Okay,” she finally asked in exasperation, “what is up with you?”
“What d’you mean?” I replied (as innocently as I could, of course).
“No, I don’t,” I said.
“Why did you walk back here with us?”
“It seemed like the polite thing to do,” I said.
She threw her hands in the air.
Christy merely grinned.
“And I like talking to you,” I added.
“But…,” Wren stammered.
“But I don’t react the way other guys do?” I prompted.
“I’m not like other guys,” I said evenly.
“So… what? Are you gay or something?”
To her surprise, I actually laughed.
She looked at me skeptically.
“I like girls,” I assured her, still chuckling. “Trust me, I like ’em a lot.”
Christy covered her mouth to keep from laughing at her friend’s expression.
“But I’m not going to turn into an idiot every time I see a good-looking girl,” I continued.
“But you used to,” Wren half-whined.
“That was before I got to know you,” I said. I tried to hide another grin, but I just couldn’t.
With her hand still covering her mouth, Christy’s eyes grinned right along with me.
Wren simply huffed. Then she looked at Christy and flashed an accusing look.
Christy tried to compose herself, unsuccessfully.
“You are impossible,” Wren said to me. Then she whirled around. “And you’re just as bad,” she said to Christy. “I’m going upstairs.”
“Bye,” Christy said to me, her eyes twinkling with mirth.
I think she was enjoying herself as much as I was. I don’t know what had come over me, but when I’d gotten over my initial awkwardness with Wren, I’d done it with a vengeance.
Things are finally back to normal with Kendall and Gina, I thought. More or less.
Maybe that was my source of newfound coolness. I didn’t want to over-think things and ruin it, though.
As Wren disappeared into the dorm, Christy looked back and waved.
With a smile, I waved in reply.
She was chuckling as the door closed behind her.
After dinner, Trip and I got together to study. Luke and Tara were in his room, and Billy was at the theater (the next night was their play’s opening night), so we had my room to ourselves.
About eight o’clock, the phone rang.
“Hello?” I answered.
“Hi,” Gina said.
“What’s going on?”
“Trip and I are studying,” I said. “I’m gonna ace that Design exam if it’s the last thing I do.”
She chuckled. “That Joska guy’s really gotten under your skin,” she said. “Just like that wrestler in high school. What was his name?”
“No, the one you didn’t like. Um… Emmett something… Emmett… Carstairs,” she said at last.
The arrogant prick, I thought.
“That guy’s the reason you started taking wrestling so seriously,” she added.
“Well, I did like wrestling itself, but you may be right.”
“I’m right,” she said with certainty. Then she chuckled good-naturedly. “I know you, and I know how you hate losing.”
“No kidding,” I said.
“Anyway, that’s not why I called,” she said.
“Oh? What’s up?”
“Regan’s birthday is Monday, but on Saturday, her boyfriend’s having a surprise party for her at his house. It’s gonna be a birthday party, but he’ll also have the football game on TV. So, do you wanna go?”
“Yeah. It sounds like fun,” I said.
“It’s gonna be so cool. Anyway, I asked if I could bring someone else too.”
“I thought it’d be kinda nice if you, me, and Kendall could go together. I mean, except for the other night in the library—which was really cool, by the way—we hardly get to do anything with each other. And since things are starting to get back to normal, I thought…”
“Yeah,” I said. “That sounds cool. Do you want me to call Kendall?”
“No, I’ll do it.”
“Anyway, I’m sorry I can’t talk longer, but I’ve gotta go. Regan and I have to meet our big sisters at Panhellenic.”
“No problem,” I said.
“Remember, though, it’s a surprise party, so don’t tell Regan.”
“I’ll be sure to keep my mouth shut the next time I see her,” I said facetiously.
“You know what I mean, silly,” Gina said, a smile in her voice.
“Oh, rats, I’m running late. I’ve gotta go,” she said. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
When I returned to my room, Trip looked up.
“Kendall?” he asked. “Or Gina?”
“Gina,” I said.
“How’re things going with the three of you?”
“Pretty good,” I said. “I mean, things seem to be getting back to normal.”
“I still can’t believe you’ve got two girlfriends,” he said. “Most guys’d be lucky to have one.”
“Well, two girlfriends pose their own set of… oh, let’s call them ‘challenges.’”
“Anyway, Gina’s best friend’s boyfriend is throwing a party this weekend, and Gina invited me and Kendall.”
“Sounds like fun,” he said.
“It should be,” I said. “On that note,” I added, changing the subject, “what’s up with you and Abby? I think she likes you.”
“Yeah,” he said flatly. “Kendall’s really playing matchmaker, isn’t she?”
“Sorry about that.”
“I like Abby,” he said with a shrug, “but that’s just it… I like her. You know?”
“I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I don’t wanna date anyone right now. It’s not her, it’s me,” he said. For a moment, he sat in pensive silence. Then, “I guess I’ll have to talk to her sooner or later.”
“Do you want me to ask Kendall to back off a little bit?”
“If you don’t mind,” he said. “I mean, I can let Abby down easy. We’ve got a lot in common, and I do like her, but just as a friend.”
“I’ll say something to Kendall,” I said.
“Thanks,” he said. Then he lifted his textbook. “But if I don’t learn this human sciences stuff,” he said, “it’s not gonna matter. Joska will kill me with a kinetic energy strike from lunar orbit. Or worse.”
“I’m serious. Help me out with this stuff,” he said.
“What’re you hung up on?”
“I understand the natural light part, but this texture thing has me completely back-asswards.”
“Okay,” I said, “here’s how it works: texture breaks up the light and reflects it differently, which means that when people perceive it…”
We were still studying at midnight, when Billy came home. He looked dead tired. Trip glanced at his watch and then started gathering his books.
“Thanks for letting me use your desk,” he said to Billy.
“No problem,” Billy said. “You’re welcome anytime.”
“Breakfast tomorrow with you and Kendall?” Trip asked me.
“I’ll be ready at six forty-five,” I said.
With a nod, he headed back to his own room.
Without saying a word, Billy got undressed, collapsed into bed, and turned out his light. I turned out the overhead light, but left my desk lamp on. Then I stripped down to my shorts. I needed to get some sleep, but I decided to do a couple of sets of curls before turning in.
In the weeks since I’d started working out again, I’d managed to get my bench press back up to a respectable three hundred pounds. Luke and Jeff no longer worked out with us, but Trip was a dedicated partner. He couldn’t lift as much as I could—not even close—but that didn’t stop him from offering good-natured taunts to encourage me.
After my curls, I stood in front of the mirror and simply looked at myself. Then I struck a couple of bodybuilder poses, flexing my shoulders and chest. At a noise, I turned, but Billy looked like he was asleep.
With my side to the mirror, I studied my stomach. I needed to lose a few pounds, which would eliminate the thin layer of fat on my midsection. Since I wanted a bodybuilder’s washboard abs, I decided to do several sets of sit-ups and crunches.
Finally, I decided to take a quick shower and then try to go to sleep. Without thinking, I shucked off my shorts and kicked them into the corner. I glanced at Billy, but he looked sound asleep, so I grabbed my towel and padded into the foyer.
After my shower, I didn’t worry about wrapping my towel around my waist. Billy was asleep, and even if he weren’t, I didn’t think he’d have a problem with me being nude for the few minutes it would take to brush my teeth and get ready for bed.
It was after two when I finally turned out my light. I was asleep within minutes.
The Art History exam was a breeze. Christy, Wren, and I talked about it as we walked back to the dorms. We all thought we’d done well.
When I got to Kendall’s apartment, we both had work to do. She had to finish her Child Psychology paper and I had to type the final draft of my American Literature paper (I still hadn’t figured out how to use my computer’s word processing program, Jeff’s offer for help notwithstanding).
Kendall and I spent the afternoon proofreading each other’s papers. When I went to work out with Trip, it was a welcome relief from Kendall’s “Cognitive and Logical Development Stages” and my own “William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County.”
Trip and I did a light workout, because we had an early-evening football game versus the ΣΑΕ team. The intramurals were open to all on-campus organizations, but this was our first game against a fraternity team.
Unfortunately, the ΣΑΕ guys were a lot better than we were, and they beat us 21–7. We were lucky to get the one touchdown, which came on a screen pass from Trip to T.J. I took out the nearest tackler and then T.J. yelled at me to block for him. Without thinking, I started sprinting toward the end zone. T.J. was right behind me, easily matching my pace.
With me running interference, we weren’t the fastest pair on the field, but I easily knocked aside the two ΣΑΕ defenders who tried to intercept us. After I cleared the way, T.J. whooped and then sprinted around me, intent on the end zone. When he scored, he spiked the ball and then pointed at me.
“Kick ass, Loverboy!” he shouted exuberantly. “That was fuckin’ awesome!”
Unfortunately, the ΣΑΕ defenders shut us down after that. We got the ball three more times, but didn’t make a single first down, and they ran out the clock before we could make anything happen.
That was a preview of Three Minus One - Summer Camp Swingers: Kendall Series Book 3. To read the rest purchase the book.