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Joss & Matt

in General edited November 2015
Matthew pulled to the front of Kate’s home – the girlfriend in waiting. He could feel his bicycle rumble to a halt at curbside and put a foot down to stabilize both his and Joss’s weight. The man whistled, running hardened hands through his wavy, light brown hair. “This is ridiculous; your girl lives here?”

The home sat upon a sprawling green hill. It was colonial in style, with the first floor covered in brick facade and the floors above it in white siding. Gorgeous white six-panel windows, framed by blue shudders, allowed a view into the cream-colored interior along with two individuals sitting in the living room – talking and laughing. Matt’s hazel eyes moved towards the entrance way. A white portico was supported by two thick iconic columns, housing a red craftsman door with a brassy knocker.

Every detail appealed to Matt, and he half-smiled in a wistful manner as he leaned back upon his bike and folded his arms over his chest. “It’s really fucking pretty, like… something kind of out of a movie, you know, Skyscraper? Was this shit in Mad Men?”

What Matt didn’t say, and what he hoped had been guarded by his silly demeanor, was that this was the sort of home he always wanted to grow up in. When he was just a kid, Matt would walk home with his older siblings from school and pause in a thoughtful way before a house like Kate’s. He would dream up a whole different life in a whole different time and for a moment he would not have to imagine the war zone of a household he grew up in.

“So you good? You all set, then?” Matt asked, his head tilting slightly as he rubbed at one of his shoulder blades.
  • Matt pulled off his helmet, running his hand through his hair, and Joss turned his head. As usual, Matt was narrating everything, always having to verbalize every thought. It felt odd, these two different parts of his life converging. He realized he didn't like it. He never should've asked Matt to bring him here. What if she came out and wanted to talk to him? Worse yet, what if Kate realized she liked Matt better than himself? That would probably happen. Everyone liked Matt. Joss was just biding his time until someone better came along for Kate.

    "Yeah," he agreed quietly after he slipped off his own helmet. "It's nice." He was well aware of the discrepancy between his girlfriend's house and his own, even though they sort of lived in the same neighborhood. Joss lived on the edge of the neighborhood—the part that was dragging everyone's property values down. Joss realized after a moment that Matt was staring wistfully at it, because he was silent for about four entire seconds. After a moment, Joss swung his leg over the bike, standing. He tucked his helmet under his arm. He was going to have to explain that to Kate—why he had his own fucking motorcycle helmet. It was awesome, and he loved it, but now he was going to have to tell Kate allll about his new friend, and that was just gonna feel weird. He wasn't sure why, but he knew it would.

    The younger man nodded. He didn't want Matt to leave. He wanted to get back on the bike with him and go someplace else. Go nowhere. He didn't want to go inside Kate's house, knowing full well what she wanted to happen in there. "All set," he repeated. "Thanks." When Matt slipped his helmet back on, Joss gave him an awkward little wave, then turned to walk up the front steps. She greeted him at the door with a hug, asking who'd just driven off on the motorcycle. "My coworker gave me a ride. I borrowed a helmet," he replied in answer, only half of which was true. He stood ramrod straight by the door, helmet clutched at his side. She looked at him with those bright eyes—that open, kind expression—and he felt his tensions ease the tiniest bit. Still, he didn't move to take off his jacket.
  • Before turning his bike around, Matt watched Joss travel to the door. He wanted the door to open as well. There had once been a time he watched another older brother of his, Gary, get mugged by neighborhood rich kids who thought it would be fun to go slumming – and poor Gary was a sitting duck, just standing at his friend’s door. They came out of no where and slaughtered him.

    Kate looked beyond Joss for a moment, her hazel eyes following him down the block. She couldn’t see much in the way of any characteristics but the girl half-smiled at her boyfriend as she pulled him inside. “That was really nice of him,” she calmly remarked, her voice a little gravely. “So… does that mean you’re making some friends at work?” She went to shut the door, standing there with her hand upon the knob for a moment – it lingered there for too long and it made those wide eyes of hers flicker with something that couldn’t be rightfully read.

    Kate was many good things, but sometimes she could be uncharitable in covert ways. She liked to drag her teeth over issues and find ways to turn bitterness into humor. It never really worked; it all came out as vindictive and mean. The girl did this when she wasn’t sure how to communicate with Joss and it looked like this was going to be another one of those darkly humorous – borderline cruel – moments until Kate’s father, Matsu Sato, walked into the room.

    He wasn’t very imposing, of medium build and height, but it was his eyes – eyes like Kate – that did most people in. They were intense eyes and darker, angrier almost. He was a friendly man but stern. Kate blamed it on the fact that he was a Japanese immigrant, another slightly mean and uncalled for joke.

    “Hey Joss, good to see you!” The man reached forward to take Joss’s hand in a firm shake, “you two hanging out?”
  • ValVal
    edited November 2015
    Joss let out a nervous little laugh at her question. How should he answer that? Was Matt even his friend? He guessed he sort of was. Joss didn't mind accepting that as fact, but maybe Matt didn't feel that way about him. Matt was just being nice, because he was a nice guy. Joss realized he hadn't answered the question. "Uh. I guess?" he answered. He didn't know if it was the correct answer or not, but they were interrupted by Kate's father. He wasn't a very big guy, but still, as usual, Joss was intimidated by him. Joss's long, slender fingers felt like they were in a vise when Kate's father shook his hand. "Yes, sir," he answered obediently, his cheeks flushing slightly. Even as the tallest person in the room, he felt very, very tiny.

    Kate's dad gave them a knowing look—not a look of warning, but something gentler, before excusing himself, leaving the two lovebirds alone. Joss stood there, still in his jacket, still holding his helmet. He didn't want to start any kind of transition. He noticed there was a smudge on his glasses, but didn't move to fix it yet. Choosing his words carefully, he asked, "So, uh, how was your day?"
  • “It was a day.” Kate responded, glib in her sense of humor as she gently tried to pry the helmet from under Joss’s arms. She didn’t like the way he was holding onto it - it reminded her of how a baby holds onto something for security. She took his hand and pulled him towards the stairs. “I didn’t get into a fight with the stepmonster at all, so I would classify that as an okay kind of day, huh?”

    The girl grinned, her lush lips peeling back over a set of pearly white teeth. Kate then pushed back her chestnut brown hair, shaking it out a little to reset it. She wondered if Joss liked when she did that. Joss never told her what he liked most about her – not even in terms of personality. Kate was aware that she wasn’t the easiest person to get on with; sometimes she could be so sarcastic that she actually came across dour. But Kate was also hyperaware of her kindness and her enjoyment in simple things; it made her easier to get along with.

    Didn’t Joss like that, too?

    “What did you do today? Was work a bear?” Kate inquired, tugging him further inside and closer to the stairwell that faced the entrance of the home. She wanted him to talk, damn it. To open up and discuss things with her – simple things, for all she cared. Just fucking say something.
  • He knew, of course, that nothing could ever stop Kate from getting her way, and she responded with her typical brand of sarcasm as she wedged the helmet from his grasp, setting it to the side. "Yeah. Haha," he said in response, with no real conviction. Sometimes Joss wished he had a "step-monster," at the very least, to take some of the heat off him. To Joss's knowledge, his dad hadn't been interested in a woman since his mother.

    She reached for the arm of his jacket, pulling him in the direction of the staircase. No hope of just chilling in the living room, then, with all that open area. They were going straight up to her bedroom, because this was Kate, and she had already decided what she wanted. And she probably assumed that's what Joss wanted, too, because that's what normal 17 year-old boys wanted. All of them.

    "Work was good," he answered, briefly happy to think back on it. He wasn't the type of teenager who just wanted to sit in his room and be lazy all day—of course there were those moments, but he like doing useful things. He liked accomplishing tasks and being efficient. And he liked playing the guitar because it gave him something to do with his hands. She opened the door to her room, and he shoved his hands in his pockets, trying to look at anything—the floor, the pictures on her dresser, the ceiling fan—anything except the bed. "I think they're gonna start giving me more hours," he added, which was something that made him happy—more money was good, of course, but also he had an excuse to be away from the house that wouldn't get him in trouble.
  • Kate pulled him deeper in the room, towards her queen-sized bed. The room looked like something straight out of P.B. Teen – all the furniture and colors were well-coordinated. There were even academic and athletic awards littering the scene – something that seemed to be the very antithesis of what Kate stood for. She downplayed and hated everything, so to see her lacrosse awards up or her academic metals was… odd. The inviting lilac color also didn’t do much to reaffirm that this was actually her room either, nor the family photos of her and her much older sister, Jasmine, that hung on the wall.

    It was her space, but it wasn’t.

    The space belonged to the house, the memories to her family, the awards to her step-mother… none of this was for her or what she wanted.

    She didn’t demonstrate this, though, and instead occupied the role in the same way the she occupied the house. The girl tugged Joss closer, her hands warm and her eyes inviting despite the slight trepidation in her features. This was natural, because Kate had confided to Joss that she was a virgin months into their time dating. This was admitted in near shame, with tears welling in the girls’ eyes, as though it had been some sort of shortcoming.

    Joss never made her feel bad about it.

    “Why are they going to give you more hours?” The girl inquired delicately, a finely groomed eyebrow arched over one of her almond-shaped eyes. “Wait, what does more hours entail though, Joss?”
  • Joss felt like a horse being led into a stall as Kate pulled him further into her bedroom. He didn't resist, but he wasn't exactly running into her arms, either. She had such a girly room, he always felt a bit weird in it, like he wasn't supposed to be in there. Like a box of tampons would fly out and attack him, or something.

    He just needed to get over himself. He knew guys who would die to be in this situation right now. And here he was, trying to avoid it. Wanting to talk about work. It was the most interesting thing in his life right now, which was pretty pathetic, actually. To his relief (and subsequent shame of said relief), she asked more questions about work. "They're gonna give me more responsibility," he explained. "I helped re-organize the stock room? And my boss asked if I wanted more shifts. Because I guess he liked that."
  • “You’ve totally got that a-type vibe so I get why. You’ll probably keep that place so ridiculously neat,” Kate added, kicking off her sneakers and folding her legs under her as she sat upon her bed. She barely weighed enough to wrinkle the floral duvet. “I mean, is it even busy? Do you get a lot of people… like, looking in to buy like… guitars? Is that a hot-ticket item?”

    She gave a knowing grin, that damnable eyebrow still raised in an almost antagonistic manner. She wanted him to bite back, to play with her a little.

    Kate patted the place next to her, moving to the edge of her side of the bed. She knew how stiff he got – in a woefully literal sense, everywhere else but the portion she was most invested in – and was trying to lull him with sensible conversation. This was also something that her friends had told her about. Things that helped them ease them into a sexual encounter they weren’t sure if they wanted to have. Why not apply this logic to Joss?

    “I mean, would you even want to stick around there?” Kate continued on, watching him carefully. “Like, don’t you want to do more? We never talk about this shit because who wants to, but like… do you want to take on a second job or whatever?”
  • Kate got comfy, toeing off her shoes and sitting on the bed as she asked about what the guitar store was like. He nodded. "Mostly guitars and strings, yeah. Acoustic, especially," he answered, still glancing around. The carpet. Her stocking feet before she tucked them underneath herself. The dust ruffle on the bed. "Some people take lessons," he said, refraining from mentioning that the teacher was the one who'd given him the ride over here.

    She patted the bed next to her, and his jaw tightened. It wasn't as if Joss and Kate had never made out, or anything. It'd just all been pretty innocent before, and with the way she kept dropping hints, he knew she was going to try to take it further this time. He wasn't ready, and he hadn't had the guts to tell her. He did sit, however, his hands were still shoved into his pockets, and his feet were cemented to the floor. It was too hot in her room with his jacket on, and the bed dipped with his weight when he sat, making her body shift toward his just a bit. He wasn't looking at her, but he could feel her gaze on him. He was suddenly self-conscious of his face—he had a zit forming on his chin, and he'd noticed earlier in the bathroom mirror at work that he'd missed a couple spots shaving.

    He shrugged, his pocketed fingers digging into his thighs a bit. "I like it," he answered simply. "It's not hard, but I get to learn stuff," he said vaguely. He didn't like thinking about "more." His job at Stairway to Heaven had been the best thing to happen to him since—well, he couldn't remember. He was defensive of the place. "I don't wanna do anything else, I dunno..." he said, trailing off, not quite sure how to answer her question. Or what she was even asking. Joss was smart, but female subtlety was something he'd never quite mastered. "It's cool working in a music store. And more hours means more money, so."
  • Kate watched him do this with cool eyes. She didn’t like how he wasn’t facing her. Was talking about work too difficult for him? The teen took a deep breath to center herself – she was just as nervous as him about all this. She wasn’t even sure if she wanted it, really, but she knew she had to get it over with. And who knew what would come? Maybe this would break the glass wall of their relationship. Joss never let her come closer than he wanted her – it was painful for Kate because she really liked him.

    The girl sat up with minimal effort and crawled to the edge of the bed, swinging her legs over the side and placing her body very close to Joss’s. She then proceeded to lean against his shoulder, nuzzling into the coat and taking one of his hands free from his pockets.

    “Which guitar do you prefer?” Kate asked, her voice low. She played with his long fingers – one of her own slender ones brushing over his joints and then his knuckle. She let him feel the softness of each of her finger pads – they grazed his flesh dangerously. “Do you give the lessons? And what are you learning? Other than how to give more time away…"
  • ValVal
    edited November 2015
    He and Kate got along—of course, they had their moments of miscommunication, but typically he wasn't so nervous around her. He never quite felt comfortable at any given moment, but the matter of their respective virginities was on the table, so it didn't matter what they talked about. He knew what Kate wanted. Still, despite the situation, it did comfort him when she grabbed his hand. Not so much the scooting closer and resting her head against his shoulder, but the fingers intertwining did relax him a bit. He did like to busy those, and her reassuring fingers felt nice in his. His fingertips were terribly callused from the frets of his guitar, and her hands were soft.

    He let himself smile at the question, despite the fact that he knew her motives. He liked talking about guitars, and music. Kate wasn't stupid. "Electric," he said, his tone bordering on mischievous. He knew it didn't suit his personality, but when it came to guitars, for Joss, the louder, the better. "I like a Telecaster. They've got a twangy sound." His thick eyebrows threatened to touch one another at her next question, however. "Oh, no. I'm not good enough to teach." He'd never played for her, but she should know that he couldn't bear the burden of showing someone how to do something he could barely do himself. He wanted to be on stage one day, sure, but he always saw that as like, something that would happen in a decade or so. It would take him at least that long to muster the nerve, if ever. He pulled his other hand from his pocket and flicked at the black hair band around his wrist. His hair wasn't long enough to need one, but sometimes Kate did, and he liked having something to play with idly. "I learn new chords. Songs. The best way to string up." His hand felt stiff, even with Kate's tender ministrations, but the conversation was doing the trick of relaxing him a bit. "You don't... like it that I'm taking more hours?" he guessed.
  • LouLou
    edited November 2015
    Kate was happy this was going okay. She had theorized so many ways it could go wrong. Most typically ended with Joss flying off the bed and out of the house. She took a deep breath to steady herself and continued playing with his hands, massaging them in her way. She always liked his hands – hers were on the smaller side and they just fit.

    For a while, things were touch and go with Joss, but then one day Kate felt a millisecond of what love must have felt like. She was so consumed by Joss that her heart began to pound so quickly and there was this… warm emanation inside of her body? It was difficult to describe, but essentially it was comparable to wanting to hug someone and never letting them go – just fusing together to become one. She wanted to ask if Joss felt it too, but their communication never took them that far.

    “Which guitar do you have? Not a Telecaster, right? Why don’t you ever show me any of the music you play?” Kate nearly whispered to him, turning her head to admire his profile. She loved his jaw and jawline. A finger reached up to trace it. Kate was an artist by trade but rarely got to practice it; there were too many other goals her family had for her to accomplish.

    She always wanted to draw that jaw.

    The girl ignored the rest of what Joss was saying. She leaned across his lap, her torso stretching as she placed a hand upon one of his laps for support. Her hair fell over her shoulder, separating them like a thin veil – Kate’s expression couldn’t be seen, save for the soft puckering of her lips as she reached her nightstand. She clicked her iPod to life and chose a song.

    She pulled away from the stand, but before passing Joss all together, she paused before his face. She stared at him for a moment and smiled softly. “You like this*?” She whispered, her face looming closer.

  • He could tell she was trying to be gentle, in her own way, and even though he knew what her end game was, she also knew how to soothe him. At least, as much as a person like Joss could be soothed. His hands were tired, from the work and the guitar playing and, admittedly the bit of gaming he'd done before work.

    He liked it when she asked questions he could answer factually. Those were so much less stressful to answer. So little hinged on his response. "No, I've got an Epiphone. It's like, the poor man's Gibson. Gibson is to Epiphone as Fender is to Squier. Fender's who makes the Telecaster. I got the Epiphone before I realized I wanted a Telly." This was about as wordy as you'd ever find Joss, but his words became more tense as she reached across his lap, fingers splaying over his thigh. Her pinky very nearly grazed a very private part of him, which remained dormant despite the coquettish way she leaned across him. "I—I'm still not very good. And it's a pain to carry my amp around. I usually just leave it at work." There was no way he'd ever be able to play it at home, but he didn't mention that. She switched on a song, the volume low, asking if he liked it. Her face hovered inches from his. If she tried to kiss him, she would taste Watermelon Nerds.

    Joss smelled her shampoo. He swallowed slightly, then nodded. "Yeah," he said honestly. They didn't always agree on music, but Kate had decent taste in music. She could usually find something they both agreed on. "It's good." He licked at his dry upper lip, then realized that given their proximity, it looked like an invitation. He opened his mouth to say something, then closed it, realizing he had nothing. He knew she was going to kiss him. He liked kissing her, he just wasn't sure about everything it was going to lead to tonight.
  • Kate smiled a little before moving in. She parted his lips with her tongue and could feel the warmth of his lips on hers. There was a delicateness in the way Kate kissed, an indelible vulnerability that she refused to project outwards but one would always remember tasting. Kissing Kate was like kissing a whole different person and no one had complained yet.

    To make herself more comfortable, Kate changed positions – she brought a leg over his, straddling him. The way she lowered her body onto his would have alluded to more expertise in this realm, but Kate impressed herself which was motivating enough to kiss a little more intensely.

    Two thin hands reached up to touch the lapel of Joss’s collar, gripping hold in a way that demonstrated to him that she wanted him to take it off. She was resting her weight on him now, another Kate signal requesting that he lay back.

    If Joss wasn’t going to make any moves towards what was going to happen, Kate would take control. She came from a family of strong women – some stronger than others. There was part of her that always wanted to be this in-control, to lead rather than to follow. It was in this moment that the desire was actualized.

    “Come on, Joss,” the girl breathed, pulling back in a way that made her crave that warmth – that glimpse into a future of ‘love’. “Take it off.”
  • Kissing, Joss could do. It was just, all the stuff with his hands he wasn't sure about. He enjoyed the soft, wet movement of their tongues against one another, but he couldn't quite suss out where to place his hands on her body. He'd touched her breasts before, but only over her clothes, only one at a time, and only at her own urging. She straddled his lap, and a sharp breath engaged his lungs, but he made it as quiet as he could. The way her hips pressed against his had him nervous, but he tried to concentrate on the kissing. The kissing. The kissing.

    She pulled at the collar of his jacket, trying to make the kiss more intense, and he began to internally panic. She was getting aggressive. He could barely handle her on his lap, let alone all this forcefulness. She was so intent on this—he wasn't quite sure she was even horny. She was just determined. He didn't want this—wait, was he sure? Had he just convinced himself he didn't? It was so hard to tell. He had a pretty, willing girlfriend who was so ready to take his clothes off. Why was this even a debate in his head? Why was he so afraid? "Okay," he said lamely, moving to shrug out of his jacket. He didn't shove it to the side, instead, he let it fall behind his back. In his T-shirt, he suddenly felt too chilly. His fingers barely brushed her thighs. "Are you okay?" he breathed, hoping that she wasn't. Hoping that they could just watch TV or something. Hoping that she wasn't ready, like him.
  • LouLou
    edited November 2015
    Kate sat up on Joss’s lap and smiled. Her lips were a rosy color from their kissing and she wiped at her mouth with her arm before taking a deep breath. Kate enjoyed the way he looked here. How the light from the nightstand shaded his face in all the right places. She saw that jawline again and visibly shuddered.

    That was when she did it.

    The teen crossed her arms and pulled her light knit sweater over her head. As it came off, her hair gently swooped over her thin, defined shoulders. What Joss was left with were a set of small but perky breasts that complimented her body. She had allowed Joss to touch them before, and enjoyed when he did – he was grand with his hands, really – and now he would get to see them in all of their glory. That was what he had wanted, wasn’t it? What the boys at school would want? What Abnu Dithari had asked to see before Kate and Joss had started dating?

    Wasn’t this the pinnacle of enjoyment for young men?

    These questions would have to wait to be more concretely answered. Kate, for now, was content with tossing her shirt to the floor and returning her focus to Joss. Focused hands moved to his waste where she splayed her fingers and played with his t-shirt. Kate bit her lip and tugged it up ever-so slightly, revealing a slice of peachy flesh and the cut of Joss’s hip-bone. Her narrowed eyes widened when she realized how that one, small glimpse of Joss’s body stirred that sliver of warmth inside of her… how she wanted to expose more of that flesh.

    “I’m okay,” Kate whispered, her voice low and gentle – different than what his ears would be attuned to.
  • ValVal
    edited November 2015
    Oh, god. God. She was already half naked. He expected there to be a bra, for some reason. Didn't girls usually wear bras? Her breasts were just—right there. Naked. He'd never seen real boobs before, not in the flesh, anyway. They were nice, he supposed. He had no frame of reference. His friend Anthony had told him about sex with his girlfriend—how great her breasts were (except he called them tits) and how good it felt to be inside a girl. Joss was paraphrasing. He knew how good it felt to come, of course, but he just couldn't imagine what it would feel like to... be with a girl. He made a small whimpering noise in his throat, but probably not for the reason she might have thought.

    What was he... supposed to do with them?

    When she finally responded, her voice was low and sultry. She was a woman on a mission, her fingers beginning to hitch up his T-shirt. The song changed—it was something softer now. The Helio Sequence... he recognized it. He was holding his breath, and she was staring at him like he was supposed to be doing something. Tentatively, he cupped her breast. It was soft, and he felt her nipple hardening against his palm. It was... sort of fascinating and terrifying? He couldn't tell if he liked it. "Uh. Does that... feel good?" he asked quietly.
  • Kate was getting impatient.

    She watched him try to figure out a next move and her eyes narrowed out of confusion. Weren’t men supposed to know how to do this stuff? Wasn’t it like second nature to them?

    Her eyes narrowed as she tried to figure out what she could do to be subtle, but perhaps subtlety wasn’t working in this instance. The girl sighed and it came out in a frustrated tuft of air. She placed her hand over his and began to work the breast, clasping his hand in a teaching manner but the actions were too stern, too rough. “Like that, Joss. Like that.” She whispered to him, brows furrowed. It didn’t even feel good at this point, but Kate was trying so hard – trying not to lose the spark.

    As she continued to teach him, Kate proceeded to bite her lip and adventure closer to Joss’s waist. Her fingers ran down his pelvis, nimbly latching onto his button. The girl was hoping this was right – her anxiety was creating this dull white noise in the back of her head. Her friends had told her that the first time was always the worst. There was fumbling, there was pain, there were odd sounds and sharp breaths and a desire to not only bathe but wash one’s sheets. But once that was done – once that was out of the way – an unspoken union of flesh was achieved; one that Kate knew she wanted to take part in.

    She wanted to understand that. To feel that. Joss was her best friend – in ways that surpassed communication. They didn’t need to talk about pseudo-intellectual things to enjoy each others company or philosophize on their futures – other than of the immediate variety. Kate wanted what her mother and father once had. She wanted what her older sister rejected.

    Kate took a deep, shuddering breath. She bit her lip as she worked the zipper on his jeans. Her heart longed for an eternity of that warm spark; that flicker of love flooded through her mind and she could only hope that it exceeded beyond the temporarily limited pleasure of sex. She wanted Joss to know this without communication – in the way he knew so much else about her.
  • He had touched her breasts before—and she had seemed to like it—but never had they gone this fast, and never had he even seen her partially naked. Once, she had changed her shirt in front of him, half-turned away from him but almost in a simultaneously self-conscious and teasing way. He'd caught a glimpse of her bra and quickly turned his head, staring very intently at the light switch on the wall until she'd rejoined him, fully clothed, on the bed. He liked lying on the bed with her, watching movies or listening to music and talking about albums, maybe kissing a little. Why did they have to take it further? Just because everyone else was doing it?

    Heat flooded his cheeks at her narrowed eyes, the way she placed her hand over his and kneaded her breast for him, slight annoyance in her tone when she told him that this was the right way. He couldn't even fondle a breast correctly. His dad was right—he was hideously ill-prepared for life. He was a child. He pursed his lips, trying to think of something else as he studiously did what Kate had instructed him to do to the soft pillows of flesh on her chest.

    When her hands ghosted across the hem of his shirt, he thought she might be about to remove it, but instead, she went straight for the zipper on his jeans. His sharp intake of breath echoed hers, not out of excitement, but fear. Joss wasn't aroused yet. Not in the way that really counted. In more ways than one, he was just not ready for this. Still, out of a combination of obedience and trepidation of angering her, he allowed her to slip his jeans down his thin legs and onto the floor. At some point in the process, he'd moved his hand from her breast, and his fists were now balled nervously at his side against the comforter of the bed. Right now, Kate was just as determined as she'd been the day she'd asked him out—there was resolve in her eyes and her actions. More than anything, he just wanted to put his pants back on, her to slip her sweater back over her head, and for them to talk about the album they were listening to. He wanted her to talk about her day, or whatever, while he quietly listened. He was just looking up at her, dumbly, his expression one of pleading panic, mouth slightly agape. Maybe his expression could communicate more than his mouth ever could. But at the same time, did he want it to? What was worse, having Kate break up with him? Or going through with this? What if he was awful at it? What if neither of them liked it? What if it hurt—not just her, but both of them?

    What if nothing was ever the same?
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