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By:Lulu Pratt & Simone Sowood

"Please. You're hot, you're smart, and you're doing really well for yourself in New York. If anything you should be ashamed of hooking up with me." Zane takes a sip of his beer and looks up at the sky for a moment.

I think about that and shake my head.

"This is exactly why we shouldn't have even started talking about this," I say.

For a long moment, we just look at each other.

And then Zane does it again - he leans in and kisses me. I respond without thinking, parting my lips and running my hand through his hair. Instead of him kissing me, I'm kissing him, not even paying attention to the beer that slipped from my hands or the one that was in his hands.

"Instead of talking about it, let's do something about it," Zane murmurs, and I can't possibly agree more. I slide the tip of my tongue against his lips and he opens his mouth and then he's pinning me to the ground, kissing me hungrily while my insides burst with tingles of excitement.

I let my hands wander over him, exploring the lines of his back, sliding down his chest in the front. I can feel the ridge of his hardening cock against my hip, and the only thing I want is to get his clothes off and feel him inside me again. But we're in the little space between where his parents' house meets my parents' house and I know better than to think we can have sex there.

Even knowing that, though, I give into how hot and heavy things are between us. I let Zane pull up the front of my pajama top. When his mouth claims one of my breasts I wrap my legs around his waist and rub against that hard, hot ridge at the front of his pants. It's almost like we're trapped like that, like we can't stop even if we wanted to, and I know neither of us wants to, just like the night before.

"Harper? Zane!" We fall apart all at once at the loud, sharp-sounding whisper and it takes me a moment to recognize it as my mom's voice.   


"Mom!" I pull my shirt down and try to make my poor, turned-on, kind-of-tipsy brain work.

"What are you two doing out here?"

I very nearly ask her if it isn't obvious what we're doing and stifle a giggle. It's funny, but at the same time it's terrifying that my mom found us.

"We were just talking, having a few beers," I say quickly.

"You're drunk," Mom says, and I look up to see her glaring at me.

"It's not like that's against the law, Mom," I tell her.

"You two were making out," Mom continues.

"That's not illegal either," Zane counters, and this time I can't suppress the snicker the forces its way through my nose and mouth.

"Look, it's late," I say. "Why don't we all go back to bed?"

"You and I are going to talk about this, Harper Polsen," my mom says, and I cringe. If she'd thrown in my middle name I would know for sure that I was in deep shit. But how can I be in trouble? I wasn't doing anything illegal, or even immoral.

"Tomorrow, Mom," I say.

I manage to get to my feet, and start towards the house, barely even looking at her and definitely not looking at Zane.

I have no idea if Mom is going to say anything to Bev, but I'm also not about to have a conversation about my sex life with my mom in the middle of the night. Zane is on his own.

I go into the house and up to my room as quickly as my clumsy feet will let me, and I crawl between my sheets, with the world spinning a little bit around me. I hope right up until I start to drift off to sleep that Mom won't decide to come into my room and interrogate me.



I don't have as bad a hangover the next morning as I used to get sometimes when I went out partying, but I'm definitely glad to have my own bathroom. I take a quick shower, change into some real clothes, and brush my teeth, all the normal things.

And then I can't avoid my mother anymore and I know it. I leave my room, hoping against hope that at least I'm not going to face Mom and Bev and Nolan and Dad, all arranged in the living room or something, waiting to scold me.

Mom's in the kitchen with Dad nowhere in sight, and she looks up when I come in. Her expression isn't very cheerful and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to enjoy whatever it is she has to say, but I know that at this point we might as well talk about it and get it over with.

"Can I at least get some coffee before you lay into me?"

Mom points to the pot, still a little less than half full, next to the sink, and I move about the kitchen grabbing a mug, filling it with coffee, adding some sugar and milk, and stirring it more than it needs before I take my first sip.

"Your father had to run to the office, so I figured we could get this out of the way before he comes back. Clear the air, so to speak," Mom says.

I shrug, since that was more than I'd hoped for, and take another sip of my coffee. I grab a cranberry-orange scone and a napkin, and follow her to the table.

"First of all, I'd like to point out that I'm an adult, and that I wasn't doing anything illegal or wrong last night," I say.

"I'm aware that you didn't break any laws last night. You're over twenty-one. Both of you are single. Technically what you were up to wasn't even immoral," Mom says.

"Here's where the ‘but' comes in," I say, breaking off a piece of the scone and putting it in my mouth.

"I want you to really think about what you were up to, and what you're trying to accomplish," Mom says.

"What I was up to was fooling around with a hot guy, and as for what I was trying to accomplish … " I have another bite of my scone and chase it with a big gulp of coffee. "I mean, I would think that's obvious."

"You're not in college anymore," Mom says.

"I think that's apparent," I tell her.

"You're not in college anymore. You're an adult, and you need to start looking for someone to settle down with," she continues, as if I didn't interrupt her.

I don't really say anything to that, instead just continuing to eat my scone and drink my coffee. I've gotten these lectures before, and I know there's not a whole lot of point in arguing with Mom until she's said her piece.

"I want to see you in a stable relationship with someone who can give you, and your career, the kind of support you need. I want to see you with someone who's serious the way you are and who you can count on to be there for you," she says.

I can't keep letting her talk. I finish the scone and drink a sip of coffee to clear my mouth and set the mug down. "But what if that isn't what I want right now?"

I look around the house. My parents got married right out of college, and Mom already had me by the time she was the age I am now.

"Zane is practically a sibling to you," Mom says, sighing. I cringe at the way she put it.

"Well, if he's practically a sibling to me, he's practically a son to you, however, that didn't stop you ogling him and commenting on how hot he is a few days ago," I point out. The words are out of me before I can even decide whether they're a good idea or not.

"You grew up with him. He's like a brother to you," Mom continues.

"But we're not related," I insist.

"Even if that weren't an issue, there's the fact that he's due to reenlist in a couple of months once his tour of duty is over," Mom says.

I almost wish I'd chosen water instead of coffee. The caffeine is starting to kick in, at least a little bit, and my stomach is not all that happy with just a scone and some caffeine in it.

"What does that have to do with anything? And anyway, he doesn't even know whether or not he's going to reenlist." I stop short, I was going to tell her that her point was moot, since I wasn't even really looking for a relationship with Zane. Why didn't I just say that then?

"There's no future in any kind of relationship with Zane, and fooling around with him like this is going to put a strain on everyone," Mom says.

"How is it going to put a strain on anyone?" I stare at her in amazement. She was somehow making Zane and me doing something together into a whole-family situation?

"Things are inevitably going to get awkward between you and him if you don't nip it in the bud. Then once it becomes clear that there's something going on between the two of you, something that went bad, there's going to be all the awkwardness between his parents and your dad and me," Mom says.

For a few moments all I can do is stare at her. I'm so taken aback by what she's saying that it's hard to even process what it was that she said.

"First of all, I never said that I'm even interested in a relationship with him," I say. I try to get my wheeling and spinning thoughts to focus.

"Look, sweetie, you and Zane are just different kinds of people," Mom says. That comment stirs something in me and suddenly instead of feeling anxious, or annoyed, I'm feeling hurt and angry.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean he's still in that ‘rack ‘em up' phase of his life where his only goal is how many girls he can get with, and all you'll be to him is another notch on his belt," she pauses. "But you're the smart girl, the career-minded girl, the one who's going to really make something of herself. You need to be smart enough not to get all wrapped up in some guy who's just going to forget about you as soon as you're gone again," Mom's voice is consoling, but the words she's saying are just like throwing kerosene on a fire that I'm starting to feel.

"I can't believe this. I really can't. You're basically saying that because Zane is some kind of man-slut, I need to be the sensible one and not do anything with him or …  I don't even know what you think the downside of this is for me, other than that apparently I'm some lonely-heart virgin or something," I say, shaking my head.