And as promised (though off schedule like always) CHAPTER 6!
I learned what to say and what not say around Sam very quickly. Sometimes it was hard for me, because I’m such a strong-willed person, but I tried my hardest not to piss him off. I didn’t really like when we argued, because it was always about the dumbest things. Sometimes I’d be talking to one of my friends on the phone and he’d call and I wouldn’t answer. Sometimes I would be talking to a teacher after be school and be late by like five seconds to the car. In every situation it would be something stupid, so I started going along with delusional thoughts, just to prove that he was being absolutely ridiculous.
* * *
“Go talk to him then. I don’t fucking care!” Sam yelled as I got out of the car with a slam.
“I will! You know why? Because he’s my friend!” The guy I was going to talk to? Collin. Of course it was Collin. Sam was so jealous of Collin all the time. I was working on a project with him, so I had to cancel some plans with Sam and he got pissed, telling me that I was choosing Collin over him. As if I would do that. Like I’ve told him a dozen times, “I’m not interested in him!” I screamed, walking away from the Impala and directly towards Collin. If Sam was going act like a crazy asshole, then I was going to feed it to him with a spoon.
He screeched off and I waved to Collin, who was just staring at me, wondering if he should dare even speak to me. “Uh, he’s not going to come back and break my nose again, is he? It just finished healing.”
“Oh god no, he’s just being an asshole like usual.”
We started walking towards the library, because we had a free period to work on the project.
“Why do you put up with it?”
“Because he’ll get over it and I love him and he loves me.”
“He has a funny way of showing it.”
“It’s just Sam being Sam. It’s fine; we’ll kiss and make up later. He’ll realize he was being a jerk and apologize and hopefully buy me my afternoon cup of coffee.”
“You argue with him for coffee?”
“No. I argue with him to prove that he’s being stupid. He’s always thinking that because I’m doing a project with you, that I’m going to like instantly fall in love with you and leave him.”
“He’s that insecure?”
“I don’t even know why. He’s perfect.”
“Um… perfect includes yelling?”
“He’s a little feisty, I like it.”
He shook his head and smiled at me. “You’re delusional.”
“I’m in love, I’m allowed to be.” I frolicked.
At the end of the day, I was sure to be right. Right before Collin left me at the curb to wait for Sam to pick me up, I said. “I guarantee that he’ll have a coffee for me.”
“Seriously? You can guarantee this?”
“Yes, and I bet he’ll get off my back about you if you come and talk to him.” Now he looked at me like I was crazy. He gestured to his nose.
“Does ‘just healed’ ring a bell?”
“He has no reason to punch you. But if you make it clear that you don’t have any interest in me, just mention that you have a girlfriend, he’ll get off my back and he’ll never hurt you again.” Which he did have a girlfriend; after the party, I introduced Collin and one of the girls that was staring at him, Lily. They hit it off right away and had been going out for two weeks since the party.
He sighed and stared at the road, thinking. “I am only going to do this because I don’t want you to get yelled at anymore.”
“You are a good friend.”
Sam pulled up a few seconds later and got out of the car; coffee in hand. “I told you,” I said quietly to him. Then I called, “Hey babe!” and went up and kissed him for a good minute. This was so he knew that I wanted to tell everyone I was with him. He looked at me and handed me the Dunkin Donuts coffee coolata, which is exactly what I wanted. “I’m sorry about this morning, I overreacted again. I’m such an ass, forgive me?”
I kissed him once. “Of course I do,” then I turned to Collin. “Now Sam, this is Collin, my study buddy. Collin, this is Sam.”
Sam gave him the once over and stuck his hand out. “How’s your nose?”
“Finally healed.” He shielded it and then shook his hand.
“Yeah,” Sam put his hand behind his head awkwardly. “Sorry about that. Sometimes I get a little crazy about this girl.”
“Well, she’s crazy about you. I swear you’re all she can talk about.” Collin, you are a good man. Thank you.
“Really?” he eyed me suspiciously and nodded.
“Yeah, whenever we study, she’s always like, ‘Sam this, Sam that. Sam’s perfect.’ Sometimes I get sick of hearing it, but I’m glad she found someone like you to yap about.”
Now he was just stroking Sam’s ego, and it was working. Sam beamed and actually guy shook with Collin. Like they were buddies since kindergarten.
“Maybe you guys could double with me and Lily sometime?”
“Lily?” Sam asked.
“Collin’s girlfriend.” I nodded.
“Yeah, dude, anytime. Just hit us up.”
“Cool, have a good day guys.”
“You too!” I waved and took Sam’s hand as we headed to the car. When we got in Sam said, “He’s kind of handsome, right?”
“Not as handsome as you.” I assured him. I had to agree with Collin, Sam was really insecure and I didn’t know why. Maybe it was because of his upbringing. His dad worked all the time, so maybe he didn’t receive enough praise as a kid. My parents worshipped Tara, and I’m fine.
“I missed you today.”
“I always miss you.”
“But you were mad at me.”
“Of course I wasn’t.”
“You seemed mad to me.”
“Well, I was, but only because sometimes I don’t understand you.”
He pulled up to the curb of my house and we got out. We walked inside and mom wasn’t home, so we headed upstairs and left the door open. Haley was in her room across the hall. “Why don’t you understand me?” he asked.
We sat on the bed and lay down on my freshly made bed that my mom must have cleaned today before work. This meant that my dad was making her mad or something was wrong. They probably had an argument over how much money he was losing in poker again. Dad had periods of winning, and then major periods of losing. During those times, everything was pretty tense. I probably would be staying in my house even less than I usually did.
I rolled on my stomach so I was head was resting next to his stomach and traced my fingers in his palm. “Because I still don’t understand why you seem so… insecure about losing me.” I thought he would have lost it when I mentioned he was insecure, but he surprised me by sighing and actually agreeing.
“I’ve never had anything in my life for long. Dad’s job made him move a lot before he got the position here. So whenever I’d start to make friends, we’d leave. And I didn’t understand why they would just leave me all the time, so I’d always end up feeling lonely and disappointed and that it was my fault. I learned to get used to the feeling, but as I got older, I started asking him why we couldn’t stay in one place. My mom thought it was unhealthy for Tyler, Katie, and I to be moved around so much. So, when we finally moved and stayed, I felt maybe I had done something right. But in the back of my mind, there’s always that possibility that I’m going to fuck things up and move away or something; leaving you behind.”
“You were little, how would that be your fault? And why would that make you afraid to lose me?”
“Because things usually don’t stay around for me. The band was like the first thing that made me feel like I belonged somewhere. I didn’t fit into college, so I dropped out and moved in with the guys. And now, you-“he took my hand this time and played with it and brought it to his mouth to kiss it. “Came along and shook everything up. I’ve never been in a relationship for more than a month, let alone five. It’s the second longest commitment I’ve ever been in, and I don’t want to fuck it up. I can’t fuck us up.”
“Sam,” I said quietly, staring up at his eyes. “You can’t be perfect; you’re going to screw up. But it’s fine. I love your imperfections.”
He didn’t look convinced. “Really?”
“Yes, but if you’re scared all the time of messing stuff up, you can’t be yourself. When you’re acting insecure and jealous, you’re not yourself. I miss my old boyfriend.” I murmured. He pulled at my hand until I could be face to face with him. His eyes were sincere, and they were warm.
“I will try my absolute hardest,” he purred, pulling into me a deep kiss. He intertwined his fingers in mine and let them stay this way for a while, never letting go. “I love you,”
“I love you too,” I cooed. He tugged gently at my lower lip with his teeth and I got closer to him as he tried to open my mouth to explore. When he did, his tongue was gentle and soothing against mine, and I felt completely at peace with him. I wrapped my legs around his and let him pull me on top of him so my hands were braced against his chest. It was quiet, and I could hear his heartbeat against mine.
Someone cleared their throat and watched as we turned awkwardly towards them and saw Haley in the doorway, standing with my laundry basket in her hand. We sat up and she stood, wide green eyes in shock, “Um, mom left this for you,” she stammered. She handed me the basket and tried to get out of there as fast as she could. “Haley,” I called. “Your room, right now.” I turned and put the basket on my bed next to Sam, who was just sitting with his arms behind his head, legs crossed at the ankles. “Want me to attempt to put these away?” he asked.
“You want to help me? Yes, go ahead.” I kissed him and motioned across the hall. “I’ll be right back.”
He pulled at my wrist and kissed me, inhaling sharply through his nose. “What are you going to say?”
“Don’t do what we were doing, don’t tell your friends what we were doing, don’t try to explore any of what we were doing.”
He nodded, pursing his lips in a satisfactory way. “Sounds good.”
I went into her room and sat on her bed with her. She looked at me uncomfortably. “Uh, Haley… what you just saw…?” she nodded. “Don’t do that, okay?”
“Why would I do that?”
“I don’t know. Maybe your friends…”
“Everybody’s doing it.” She agreed.
I shook my head and sighed, “Why are twelve year olds acting like whores?”
“My birthday’s next week.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, why are seventh graders acting like whores?”
“I don’t know. The internet? Tv? Everybody talks about it.”
“But it doesn’t mean you have to. I’m seventeen and I’m just getting into this…”
“Sex.” She said. “We had a class about it, Brooke, its okay to talk about it.”
“And yet this conversation still remains incredibly awkward.”
“Well it doesn’t have to be. Mrs. Monroe says that sex is a natural thing and as long as you’re safe…”
“Yeah, for adults. You’re in middle school! Who the hell is this teacher and where can I go bash her brains in?!” I exploded. “Listen to me; this is serious shit you’re getting into. You’re not going to get an STD or pregnant at thirteen, or I swear I will never talk to you again.”
“All the guys are so nice about it…”
I got up and yelled, “I’ll be right back.” As I walked across the hall into my room and slammed my door.
“So, you’re having the sex talk.” Sam said, clearly amused.
“I don’t even know how to talk about this with her and to get it clear through her head that having sex isn’t a good thing for her. We’re not even doing it, and I love you and you love me, it’s like… her teacher is saying it’s okay to go around and start screwing people?!”
Sam laughed, “Did she say she wanted to have sex?”
“No, she said ‘why would I do that?’ I mean, I know she’s smart and strong willed to not fall into this awful trend, but come on! I just don’t know how to explain it.”
“Can I try?” he asked.
“You want to have the sex talk with my sister?”
“It’s the responsible thing to do, right?”
“Well yeah I guess so. If she becomes a poster at school for sexting, I think I might just kill her.”
“Then let me talk to her.” He suggested. “I think I know a way.”
“Kay,” we both walked across to her room and sat on her bed. She rolled her eyes. “I just told you I didn’t want to have sex and you’re still going to lecture me?”
Sam tried, “Look, I know it’s weird. Everybody’s doing it and shit? Not true. Guys lie. Girls say they’re doing it to fit in. But you know what? It all sucks. Until you find someone that you know and trust and love, sex isn’t something to play around with. Guys will tell you they love you to get in your pants. Trust me; I did it when I was in high school.”
“Did it work?” she asked.
I knew he didn’t want to answer this with me around, because I stared at him like, ‘did it?’ and then it would be a ‘so how many girls have you slept with?’ kind of thing. “You better not be doing it now.” I remarked, waiting for his answer. He rolled his eyes.
“Of course not. Otherwise, I would have told you I loved you after the first date and tried to get in your pants then. Look, I’m still trying to get in them, but I know that we’re going to wait because that’s the responsible thing to do.” It was like he was giving us both a lecture now. “And it’s different, because there’s ‘I love you. Let’s go make out,’ and ‘I love you, let’s go listen to music,’ like I do with you. Trust me, Brooke, if I wanted to be in your pants, I would have been there by now.”
Haley just looked at us, disgusted. “Ew,”
“See? You’re gross out. Boys are gross. They will say anything. They’ll lie. Just stay away from them until you’re at least eighteen, okay? As an older brother and a guy I can assure you that it’s not worth it to be labeled slut at thirteen. Guys might like you because you’re easy, but when you get to high school and you’re the only one the boys will touch because you’re clean, you’ll thank us. Kay?”
She just nodded in horror. “Don’t have sex. Message received.”
“Good,” he got up and went back into my room. He climbed on my bed and gestured for us to go back the way we were but I wasn’t having it. “So… who was she?” I asked nonchalantly, looking around my room at all my autographs so I wouldn’t have to look at him.
He sighed and dropped his head on my pillow with a thud. “You’re seriously going there?”
“I’m just curious…” I let my voice trail off.
“No, you wanted to be the first.”
“Well, of course I did. But I still want to know who she was.”
“She was no one.”
“Wow; that must have been embarrassing, having sex with no one.”
“Brooke,” he held my arm and forced me to look at him. He had disapproving eyes. “It’s not important. I don’t really even remember.”
“How old were you?” I was going to ask these little questions until I got my answer. I was stubborn and he knew it. This time, I was going to win.
“You seriously want to know?”
“I want to know who I’m competing with.”
“It’s not a competition. There wouldn’t even be a competition. She was just a girl I met when I went to school in Georgia. It was at a party; I was fifteen, scared shitless and she was experienced and took a small interest in me for about fifteen minutes. I just wanted to get my first time over with.”
“So then… who’d you lie to?” I scooched closer to him and crawled my fingers up his arm so he couldn’t resist.
“If I tell you the rest of my past sexual experiences, will you promise never to bring it up again?”
I nodded, but he wanted to make sure. “Seriously, never again. It’s stupid, I was an asshole, and I would never do this to you.”
“Okay, I promise. Cross my heart and hope to die.”
He took in a deep breath and told me, “She was this poor freshman when I was a junior and all of my ‘friends’ knew she was tough to break, so they dared me to get her. It was the only time I ever had an actual group of friends at school, because we stayed there the entire year. I worked my damn hardest. I sent her flowers, took her out, and within a week, told her I loved her. She gave in really quickly after that and I just… stopped talking to her. I didn’t want to see her. She called and I never called back. My friends all worshipped me, but I swore I would never do it again. I was such a dick.”
I nodded, taking it in and asked. “Any others I should know about?”
“Just when I went to college I went to a party and had my first and last walk of shame. And when we first formed the band, I only hooked up with a few girls. Nothing more.”
He looked down, “Yeah…four. But it’s not something I’m proud of. And, trust me, if I could trade every single one of those experience for five minutes with you, I would.”
I asked for it, so I didn’t know why it was hard to hear. “Babe, thanks for being honest.”
“Can I honestly say I really want to get in your pants now?” he joked.
I smacked him and laughed. “Just kidding,” he grinned, pulling me down to kiss him again. Soon we were like before, only my door was closed this time and we weren’t so… quiet. It was frantic and hot in my room very fast. This time, our interruption was my cell phone ringing Anna’s ringtone ‘It’s raining men,’ non-stop. “You need to get that?” he asked, throwing off my sweater and my shirt.
“No, I’ll let it go to voicemail; continue.”
It started ringing again. “You sure?”
“Its fine,” I peeled off his shirt and threw it against the wall. I knew we weren’t going to go all the way home yet, but hooking up was fun. Especially with Sam. He learned quickly what I liked and didn’t like and made sure to let me know the same. Everywhere he touched was like fire. His skin was warm and his smell just put me over the edge in love-land.
After the fourth time it rang, I answered and yelled into the phone “Jesus, what the hell do you want?”
I hadn’t noticed that it wasn’t ‘It’s raining men,’ anymore, but my ringtone was now, ‘I wanna dance with somebody,’ “Excuse me, young lady, that is no way to talk to your mother.”
Sam looked over and laughed at me while he threw his shirt back on and lifted my hair from the back of my neck, kissing my neck. I waved him away, he was distracting me.
“Now what’s going on?” she demanded.
I was giggling because he was kissing my sweet spot, so she had to know I was lying. “Are you with Sam?” This wasn’t a question, this was an accusation.
“No, well yes, we’re studying.”
“It doesn’t sound like you’re studying to me.”
“Well he’s helping me study…”
“I want him over for dinner tonight.” She said.
“You heard me. You’ve been spending all this time with him and I’ve barely met him once. Your father took the day off to spend with me, so he’ll be ready for a dinner.”
“Um, I think he has band practice.” Sam shook his head no, because we both knew they didn’t have band practice on Tuesdays, it was their night off from practice, shows, or working. They had changed their schedule, because during April, before April vacation, we had always gone to a show Tuesday and that’s why I stayed over all the time, making Tara freak out before. Now, the boys were juggling making a better cd that they could sell when they did bigger venues, which meant they were playing less small gigs and finding more large ones, which meant they also had to work to pay for the cd and not having as many gigs. It was getting complicated.
“Well, tell his friends that they’ll have to practice without him, because I want him over for dinner.”
“They can’t practice without a drummer.”
“I know he’s over there right now, and you’re probably in your room, and your door had better not be closed. I don’t like that you’re lying to me all of the sudden, Brooke. So, either he comes over for dinner tonight, or you’re not going to see him until he does.”
“What? Mom, you can’t not let me see him.”
Sam raised his eyebrows into a straight line and mouthed, ‘what’s going on?’ I gave him the one minute finger and listened to my mother’s ridiculous words. “I am your mother and I can do what I want. It’s your choice. And don’t think I won’t know that you’re sneaking out to see him. I know you haven’t been over to Anna’s in a while, and that’s something we’ll discuss later.”
“Mom, you’re being unfair.”
“Brooke Natalie Zamrock, I don’t care if I’m being unfair. Tara’s gone and I’m not going to lose you too. I don’t want to resent the boy, since you clearly have feelings for him, but until I meet him formally, you will be locked in your room,” she ranted. I could tell she was really sad and started to cry over the phone. I just responded quietly, “Okay. I’ll see what I can do.”
I hung up the phone and went to open my door just in case mom was coming home soon. “What was that about?” he asked.
“What are you doing tonight?”
“Not band practice, that’s for sure.”
“How do you feel about another family dinner?”
He grimaced. “Well what’s the deal with her?”
“Um, you either come over for dinner tonight or I can’t see you.”
“Well,” he laced his fingers through mine again and cupped my face in his palm, kissing the tip of my nose. “Since I’m not gonna kiss and diss again, I might as well meet the parents.”
“And apparently my dad’s in a good mood today, so be half yourself and half like you were with Tara.”
“We just talked about being myself.”
“Well, put that on hold for just a few hours.”
“I don’t have a nice shirt to wear.”
“We can borrow something of Brian’s. You’ll have to leave some stuff over here for times like this. I’ll even let you have a drawer.” I mocked him. “I have to call Anna back anyways.”
Before I did, Sam grabbed his phone and started punching. “What are you doing?” I asked.
“I want to see what my ringtone is. Are they personalized for everyone?”
My phone started ringing. ‘I want to hold your hand.’
He just beamed.
* * *
My mom was right; dad was in a chipper mood. He even wore a shirt without stains in it. And it was even a button down. Dad was tall and had gained some weight all around his body, but he wasn’t fat. Now that he had shaven and actually looked sober, he was actually pretty handsome. I only looked like my mom because of her hair and her face shape, other than that I had dad’s green eyes and dad’s nose.
Sam had borrowed one of Brian’s blue plaid button downs. Apparently, these were the only types of dressy shirts he liked to wear. Long sleeved ones were too formal, and the three quarter sleeved ones were nice but not too warm. My opinion: he couldn’t wear longer sleeves because if he did, they would burn right off. Anyway, he looked nice and parent approval worthy. It was a weird feeling, being home before my parents and waiting for them to show up for dinner. Apparently, when my mother said, “He’s coming over for a family dinner.” She meant, “I’m bringing KFC for dinner, Sam had better like chicken.”
So, when the car pulled into our driveway and my parents walked to the door, I answered and said, “How nice of you to join us children,” taking the bag of chicken and putting it onto the table (that Sammy helped me set). Sam stood in the middle of the room with his arms clasped his hands in front of him. “Mom, dad, this is Sam; Sam, these are my parents.”
He shook my parents hands and we all sat down at the table for dinner time. “So, Sam,” my dad said. This was also weird; my dad rarely ‘spoke’. Usually he was complaining or mumbling about beer or moaning about poker. “I have heard… oh wait, I haven’t heard anything about you. Please, enlighten me.”
“Okay… I graduated from the same school Brooke goes to two years ago.”
“Um, I realized college wasn’t quite for me right now, so I moved in with the members of my band, and we do weddings like Tara’s and we do shows here and there whenever we can.”
“Are you any good? I mean, the wedding stuff was good, but back in the day I was really into music, and I don’t want my baby girl in a band that sucks.”
“Dad!” I exclaimed, shocked that he would have even said that.
“It’s cool Brooke,” Sam assured me. “I wouldn’t say we’re the shit, but we’re pretty good. We’ve been writing more and more of our own stuff.”
“What’s it about?”
“Honestly, half of them are about your girl here,” Sam found my foot and played with it under the table. I must have blushed furiously, because my dad just clapped his hands together and smiled.
“So you really like her?” dad asked.
Sam pursed his lips together and nodded. “Yeah, she’s pretty fucking incredible.”
Dad stood up, “Well, Diane, he seems okay to me, I don’t know why you worry so much. I like him,”
“I worry because she’s been lying.” She said.
“He’s not going to hurt her, leave them alone.”
“John, she’s been staying over his place! Do you know how wildly inappropriate that is?”
Dad scratched his chin. “Hmm,” he thought. “If I recall, we had Tara a year before them.”
“And that’s what I worry about!”
I backed away from the table quietly and motioned for Sam to go with me. They were arguing now, so they wouldn’t even notice if we disappeared into my room for a while. Sam brought the rest of his chicken up with him and ate by my desk while I sat on my bed and watched him. He was so cute when he ate, because when he chewed, his eyes scrunched up in pure joy if he liked it. “So… that went well,” he said in between bites.
“That was short-lived.”
“Short and sweet; he likes me.”
“Well… tough for her then. I’m not going anywhere. I’ll just have to win her over.”
“Yeah.” Then I added, “Do you like that chicken?” I asked this because he was enjoying it so much; it was kind of like he was making out with it.
“Mmm, mm, mm, mmm.” He licked his fingers and came over, attempting to kiss me with a mouth full of chicken. I screamed, “Gah! Ew, Sam! Get away from me!”
He didn’t give up. He tried swallowing and kissing me, but there was just chicken everywhere. It was so gross. “I love you,” he chicken spoke. I ran into my closet and held the double doors so he couldn’t get in. “I’ll come out when you’ve finished your chicken!”
I swear, he took his time eating, making all of his food enjoying noises. “Mmm, wow, this chicken is sooo good.”
When he was finally finished, he forced the doors open and was looking at me, all hungry eyed. “We should get out of here.” He said.
“I’m perfectly fine playing hide and seek with you here.” I said.
He shook his head. “The littlest things amuse you.”
“Yeah, you do.”
For the rest of the night, we just waited for my parents to stop yapping at each other like Chihuahuas. We sat on my bed, doing absolutely nothing but sitting and lying down and holding each other’s hands. When my mom came upstairs, she was probably surprised to just find us chilling and not having a huge make out session. Yeah, as if I would do that with my door open with her and dad downstairs…
“Um, Sam, I think it’s time for you to go.”
“Okay,” he shrugged his shoulders. I would’ve walked him to the door, but my mom clearly wanted to talk. He leaned down and kissed me quickly on my bed, “Bye babe.”
“Bye Mrs. Z,”
Before she said anything, I put my two cents in. “Mom, I don’t care what you think about him. I love him and he loves me. I’m not going to disappear like Tara did, because I’m not getting pregnant anytime soon and I’m not getting married to Sam anytime soon. Right now, he just feels right for me. I like everything about him; I even love his jealousy and his temper. So, no matter what you say, I won’t stop seeing him.”
She just looked at me like all mothers do and cried, clutching onto me. “I know baby, I know.”