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Perfect Couple


Page 57


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"Ha," I said. "Tia, take that off. Switch." Carefully we pulled the dress over her head without dislodging the pins. I would have plenty of free time to sew it for her at home now that I wasn't the yearbook photographer, I thought ruefully. Kaye slipped on the next dress, which only needed to be altered to fit her athletic A-cup.
"I don't know," I said, carefully pinning the bust seam. "I had so much fun with Brody today, but I still have misgivings about what happened last night."
"Why does it have to be perfect?" Tia asked. "Why can't you just enjoy him while he lasts? It's not like you're going to marry him."
Marrying Brody had never entered my mind. But now that Tia had brought it up, the idea didn't sound too bad. I asked, "Do you know you're not going to marry Will?"
"I could marry Will," she acknowledged. "He's endlessly entertaining. Except I'm never getting married."
"Oh," I said in protest at the same time as Kaye voiced my thoughts: "Will is more traditional than you. He'll get married to somebody, if not you."
Tia said, "I will cut a bitch," and she sounded upset, like she was actually picturing Will dumping her because she wouldn't commit.
"Calm down," I said. "Who knows? You might change your mind. Anyway, you have years of dating before it's an issue."
"God knows you don't have to hurry things along because you're saving yourselves for each other," Kaye said. "I don't know about Will, but you took care of your end of that a couple of years ago with Sawyer."
"Excuse me, but you took care of your end a couple of years ago with Aidan," Tia pointed out.
"But I'm with Aidan," Kaye said. "You were never with Sawyer."
I interjected, "I just had this huge argument with Brody last night about who he was with. You two are giving me flashbacks."
Tia talked right over me. She asked Kaye, "What is this obsession you have with Sawyer?"
I figured Kaye would explode, but she didn't. She asked softly, "What do you mean?"
"I mean, lately you're always bringing up what I used to do with Sawyer and being judgmental about it. Do you have a crush on him?"
Now Kaye sounded outraged. "No! I'm going to marry Aidan!"
"We know," Tia and I chorused. Kaye had shown us a picture of her wedding dress in a magazine. In tenth grade.
"But that means you'll be with one guy your whole life," Tia said. "Before that happens, maybe you need a little sample of someone else. Like Sawyer."
Kaye muttered, "No, thanks."
"It's good stuff," Tia said. "Right, Harper?"
"We didn't kiss much, but it wasn't bad," I said appreciatively. "I mean, yeah, I enjoyed my sample ."
"I'll bet," Kaye said, with surprisingly little scorn in her voice. She cleared her throat. "Anyway, Harper, the one thing I worry about with you and Brody is that he's so much more experienced than you. You hardly dated before this year. You never even had a date for homecoming."
"True," I said, not quite able to edit the glee from my voice. This year I would have a date for homecoming. My date would be the star football player. He would give me the traditional corsage, which would be too bulky for me to wear while I was photographing the game, so I would pin it to my camera bag. After he won the game, we would go together to the homecoming dance, and it would be the best night of my life.
So far.
"He doesn't make me feel inexperienced when I'm with him," I said. "It's not like I've tried to stay alone and innocent all this time. I've just been searching for the wrong kind of guy. I thought I wanted a funny, artistic guy. A successful guy."
I'd meant to describe Kennedy. But when Tia furrowed her brow, perplexed, and Kaye sat back, I realized they seemed to think I was talking about Will and Aidan.
I shook my head and went on, "It took the senior class electing us Perfect Couple to show me what I really wanted, and that's Brody. An athlete with a sense of humor I don't quite understand, who plays dumb sometimes but who's book smart and sensitive when he tries, with impulse-control issues that get him in trouble."
"Yeah!" Tia cheered. "I told you the day of the elections that he would be better for you than Kennedy."
Kaye shook her head. "Just be careful that it's the good kind of trouble."
* * *
Brody parked his truck at the edge of Granddad's private beach. Several hundred yards away, on the public section of the beach, we could see the yellow flag flying. That meant medium risk in the high surf. We waded into the ocean with our surfboards under our arms.
Hours later, completely exhausted and tingling from exertion, I floated on my board and watched a lifeguard haul down the yellow flag and hoist a red one. Two red flags would have meant the surf had gotten so rough that the beach was closed to swimmers. One red flag meant the lifeguard eyed us resentfully and only wished we would get out of the water so she didn't have to save our asses later.
"Do you think we should go to shore?" I asked Brody, who was floating on his board beside me. The sunset was beautiful and violent behind him, with strange clouds stirred up by the approaching storm. The bright pink light smoothed the ugly purple bruise on his side, courtesy of Friday night's game.
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