AT THE END -- Afternoon
The power of Florida's early Fall sun was evident by the considerable warmth the pool water managed to hold; the feel of the water, lapping softly against her neck as she stooped in the shallow end, was quite nice. The languid movement of it relaxed and reassured her body, gently rocking it back and forth. Eyes closed, Ella allowed her arms to float at her sides. For just a moment, she could imagine she was the only person in the world, could escape the harsh recollection of what had just happened—ignore the fear of what lay ahead, the waves of humiliation that still crashed over her body. It was like a nightmare: you wake up, thinking that it's finally over, that you can go get a tall glass of milk, a handful of cookies, and dismiss as so much bullshit the horrible dreams your subconscious mind just subjected you to—
And then reality comes crashing in. The hands, suddenly on her shoulders, large and demanding—they were real. The feel of his knees, bent slightly, as they slid behind her thighs—oh, those were real. The bulk of his chest pressing against her back, the length of his erect penis nestling between the cheeks of her ass—all undeniably real.
"Hey," he whispered, "how's it going?"
His voice, whispered inches from her ear... that was real, too.
Ella felt his hands move down her arms and underneath her buoyant breasts, squeezing them firmly under the water, mashing them together.
It was all very, very real...
CHAPTER 1 -- Aftermath
It seemed impossible to think that she could overcome what had happened, the night in the closet or the lunch hour on the exam table—and yet she had, if not overcome, at least reached an uneasy truce with those ill-fated occurrences. These lurid events, seared forever in her mind, were forced into a dark, unused corner, safely away from conscious thought. There were two reasons for this: one, she threw herself into everything, all the way, staying so busy she just didn't have a spare moment to waste thinking about something she could never change. Two, her dreams... that was a place she couldn't escape, a place where no amount of busy-work or studying or running or anything else could serve to push away the intruding memories of what had transpired only a few short weeks ago. The nightmares... at least, once awake, the nightmares faded—and at least the nightmares kept the daytime ponderings at bay.
Ella's life, such as it was, divided by the uneasy compact between conscious thoughtlessness and subconscious preoccupation, settled into a comfortably predictable routine. She continued her diligence with respect to her studies; started running four or five days a week; had cheerleading practice three days a week; and, of course, had football games every Friday night, where the Key Biscayne football madness encompassed her life for a few short hours.
Her studies were exemplary, as always. Nobody hit the books harder than Ella Sanders. Running was something she started the day after Dr. Tarsal came to the campus, it was a way she sought to escape, ever so briefly, into a world of pure physical exertion—and she loved it. In no time she was running 20 miles a week and had been for just over a month now. The mental impact was one thing—the physical impact was something else, her body had trimmed up very nicely in the last few weeks, adding some lean muscle and melting away pounds of stubborn baby fat around her waist.
The guys at Key Biscayne JC certainly agreed. She was no longer the slightly pudgy, big breasted cheerleader that everybody watched walk by, she was now the smokin' hot nerd that never wore makeup and never dressed up—because she didn't have to. And they didn't just watch, they fucking STARED. Naturally, she was mostly oblivious to all the newfound attention.
As for cheerleading—that was quite the success story, as well. Ella was punctual, practical, and devoted. The cheerleading crew was the picture of efficiency: a well-oiled machine executing each drill and movement at both practice and games as though they were engineered for it. It seemed that the night of the first game had never happened, which was exactly the way Ella wanted it. She went out of her way to avoid social settings with Jenny or any of the other cheerleaders and instead focused on arriving at practice on time, flawlessly delivering all her cheers and routines, and leaving as quickly and quietly as possible. Even her new uniform had been a wonder, for it fit her perfectly. Still, there were a few catcalls at the games, but Ella did her best to ignore them. It seemed a few of the home fans wanted a repeat of the now legendary Topless Cheerleader show.
Of course, it was easy to cheer for a winner. Key Biscayne was now 7 -- 0, a defensive juggernaut racking up impressive wins behind the play of blistering defensive pressure and the calm, collected decision making of star quarterback Stone Moore. Stone was a maniac, a one-man wrecking crew who single-handedly put defenses on their heels with his incredible speed and innate sense of where every defender would be on any given play.
Ella was relieved that Stone, Stu, and Ricky had seen fit to give her a wide berth since the events of the night following the first game. She was glad for the time it gave her to devote solely to school, running, and practice. She figured it must have all been 'typical' cheerleader initiation—albeit an initiation she very much disliked. She assumed all the cheerleaders had gone through it, so she sucked it up and managed to compartmentalize those events (along with the dreadful physical she had endured) in a distant corner of her brain, tucked away where she could try to let them just fade away...
Chapter 2 -- Practice
Thursday afternoon was a normal practice day. Jenny Thompson stood before the other six members of the cheerleading squad, hands on her hips. Her face was very serious—almost as if someone had died. Suddenly, her eyes brightened and the blonde bombshell smiled.
"Ok, this is the bye week, so no game tomorrow night. We're taking today off—" scattered small cheers could be heard for the extra downtime, "—and having practice at my house on Saturday morning, 10am sharp. As you all know it'll take about an hour or so to go through all the routines, and then... barbecue! Daddy will be there, cooking everything up for us, so it should be lots of fun! Anybody have a problem with that?" Jenny asked, looking at Ella meaningfully.
None of the others objected. Ella considered it briefly; her natural inclination was to refuse, but if Jenny's father would be there, she supposed it would be all right. Besides, it was an early-morning practice, and everything had gone fine for the last six weeks. She shook her head slightly and said, "No problem."
"Excellent! See y'all there."
As the girls dispersed, Jenny made a b-line to Ella. "Will you need a ride, Ella? I could come pick you up if you need a lift, or I'm sure you could hitch a ride with one of the others. I think Anna stays just off campus, she could probably hook you up."
"I... well, yeah, I think so. I usually just hoof it around, or ride my bike, but your place is kind of out there—"
"Yeah, on the island, I know," said Jenny, interrupting Ella briskly. "Tell you what, I'll give you a ride to my house after classes are done tomorrow and you can stay over—"
"NO! I mean, uh, that's ok, Jenny, I think I'll see if I can hitch a ride with Anna."
Jenny's nostrils flared slightly. This girl had the impertinence to actually raise her voice at Jenny Thompson? Jenny breathed deeply, counted to ten. She had played her part, for fucking EVER, making sure Ella wasn't too skittish to come over on Saturday for the practice and what would follow, but still, she could only take so much.
"Ok, ok, fine. I'll talk to Anna, make sure y'all get there on time. Now, for the important question: what do you want off the grill on Saturday?" Jenny asked, grinning playfully. She did her best to continue playing the part of the dutiful cheerleader captain, at least until Saturday. After that, all bets were off.
"I think just a burger would be great..."
The clock was ticking down towards 10:00 am. Early October temperatures—Indian Summer was more like it—were still plenty high in south Florida, 84 degrees already with an expected high approaching 90. Accordingly, all the cheerleaders were clad in shorts and a tight t-shirt as they formed up in Jenny's spacious backyard. Jenny noted Ella in particular—little blue shorts, a plain white American Eagle t-shirt that she filled very nicely, and little red New Balance cross trainers. Her nipples poked noticeably out of the shirt, perfectly centered on the large orbs that shifted to and fro underneath. It was quite a change for the usually mousy, unassuming girl Jenny saw on campus every day. Ella's soft brown hair was pulled up into a ponytail—it had grown out all year and now hung almost three inches below her neckline, meaning she had to pull it back and put a band on it during physical exertion if she wanted to keep it out of her eyes. Jenny had to admit Ella was a striking presence now—which made things all the better.
"Great, we're all here! Now let's get started..."
Jenny was all business. She ran the crew through their paces, demanding the highest possible level of execution on each routine. Soon enough she had them sweating as they ran routine after routine, bounding back and forth, lunging, leaping, shaking, and belting their way through the whole cheerleading repertoire.
Jenny's face flushed in sudden pride as she admired the results of all the hard work every single member had put in—including Ella. While Ella had definitely been the weakest link in the beginning (a link Jenny had only taken on after much convincing by Mr. Anderson), she had quickly advanced, moving past mere respectability to become one of the two or three best cheerleaders on the squad—at least, in terms of the game-day routines.
Naturally, there was a lot more to cheerleading than what transpired on the sidelines during the game, but Jenny begrudgingly admitted to herself that Ella had at least mastered that part of her role. Ella had been introduced to the other part of being a cheerleader on the night of the first game—not to mention the rumors Jenny had heard about the doctor visit on campus that had left a visibly shaken Ella wandering the halls the rest of the day—and was now ready for further indoctrination into the other role she was expected to fill.
Returning her attention to the task at hand, Jenny addressed the squad.
"Ok, before we all hurt our arms patting each other on the back and talking about how great we are, let's do it all just one more time..."
Several of the girls groaned audibly, including Ella.
"Ready, and go..."
Finished, in varying stages of exhaustion, each of the cheerleaders was sweating profusely. Practice was finally over.
'I hope I dressed ok,' Ella thought, bent over, hands planted on her upper thighs. She had gone to pains to wear something she thought would put her 'in' with the other girls. She was tired of always looking different, kind of nerdy—ok, very nerdy; she recognized that part of being a cheerleader was being in the 'in' crowd, even if only superficially so. She should at least look the part, even if all she was interested in was showing up at practice and running through the games so she could get that block on her Junior College resume checked off. Looking down at her sweat-soaked clothing, she added, 'Not that it matters when you sweat like a dog.'
Ella looked around at the others, noted with satisfaction that several of them were quite winded. She felt like she could go again. Running, that was the reason. Shaking her head slightly, she still couldn't believe how easy running had turned out to be—and the resulting endurance, power, and stamina really helped on the field.
The combination of running and drilling at cheerleader practice had another effect—it toned her body in ways that made all the other girls jealous. She was practically chiseled, from head to toe, a classic beauty with the 'big rack' and flared hips so many of the fellas were just dying to get their hands on. Guys would stop when they saw her running on campus, turning their heads and dropping their jaws as she scampered by. Many of them wanted to ask her out, to at least say hi—but didn't, did nothing in fact but watch her run out of sight and then return their attention to whatever it was they had been doing. For some, it was intimidation; it was her cheerleader status, her beauty that said 'Don't even try.' For others, it was as simple as a single Stone Moore sentence: "Keep away from Ella Sanders."
When Stone talks, people listen.
Elated by her performance, Ella couldn't help smiling as the others broke up and headed over to the pair of picnic tables that were positioned by the swimming pool—
'Eek,' Ella thought, 'the swimming pool!' She hadn't thought to bring a suit. All she had was a dainty old one-piece anyways, from a year ago, which meant she certainly couldn't have fit into it even if she had remembered to bring it. She steeled herself to the offer she would surely get (and decline) to use one of Jenny's suits. Everyone else quickly grabbed their bags and headed through the big sliding glass doors at the bottom deck of the house, lining up outside the changing room so they could don their suits.
All but Jenny.
"Ella, where's your suit?" she asked, one eyebrow arched expectantly.
"Ah, well, I forgot it, Jen. It's alright, I'll just skip—"
"Ha! No way! You gotta change, babe, it's a fuck—" she caught herself, realized her father was manning the grill. She lowered her voice: "It's a pool party, you're gonna get wet and you need a bathing suit. Look, I have something you could wear. Your boobs are only a little bigger than mine, it will fit just fine, you'll see," Jenny coaxed, trying her best to ease Ella's mind. "Besides, you're sweaty as hell, we all are."
It didn't work.
"Really, it's fine, I'm good, Jen."
"Ok, suit yourself," Jenny said stiffly, and quickly turned around. She purposely strolled up to her house and through the sliding door, slamming it shut behind her.
Ella sat at one of the picnic tables nursing a diet Coke as she watched Jenny's father tend the grill. He was very efficient, stacking burgers, steaks, and chicken neatly on the top rack before they were done, timing it all so they would finish at just about the same time. He was focused on his work, which Ella admired.
'It's all about the details,' Ella thought to herself. 'Why, I bet—'
Just then, an ice-cold bucket of water landed squarely on Ella's back. She gasped and bolted upright, stepped sideways and turned around, searching for whoever had just doused her. She hunched up her shoulders, bowing her arms out in a pitiful attempt to escape the frigid water that drenched her back, her hair, and was now soaking even the front of her t-shirt, which was plastered to her like a second skin. The icy water hardened her nipples uncomfortably and sent goose bumps scurrying all across her arms and shoulders.
Anna blind-sided Ella, driving her shoulder into Ella's ribs, pushing her towards the rapidly approaching pool. Anna moved like a linebacker, driving her feet into the soft grass. She had a mission: dunk the bitch.
Ella reached around, trying to find something on Anna she could get her hands around, but Anna was wearing only a slim bikini. Ella's hands slid harmlessly off Anna's tanned, oiled body.
Anna and Ella fell wickedly into the water, arms entwined. There was a racket in the shallow end of the pool where they struggled mightily with each other, each trying to get some kind of leverage on the other. Finally, Ella managed to get Anna in a headlock, grunted with satisfaction as she pushed Anna's head under the water a moment. After a few seconds, she let her back up. The others were roaring with laughter, even Mr. Thompson, who had looked away from his work at the grill long enough to admire the sleek physiques of his daughter's cheerleading friends.
"What happened, Anna?" someone asked, chuckling.
"I guess you'll be needing something to wear," Mr. Thompson chimed in dryly, nodding Ella's way. Shaking his head slightly he returned his attention to the sizzling grill.
Ella decided it was all in good fun, smiled and said, "Yeah, about that suit..."
Chapter 3 -- Barbecue and Horseplay
In the spacious downstairs bathroom, Ella dropped the towel that was wrapped around her long body and looked at her reflection in the mirror.
'Why don't any of them talk to me?' she wondered to herself, not for the first time. It was rare, the times like this, when she looked at her body and saw herself the same way everyone else did. True, she had very little time for guys, and certainly no time for any of the jocks (who seemed to be the only ones interested in her), but now none of the other guys even talked to her. Only Donny, who had approached her in the library that one day a few weeks back and asked how things were going, had made any attempt to talk. The next day he had a big shiner over his left eye. Before she could walk up and ask him what was wrong, he'd quickly gathered his things and practically run away, never even looking back. She hadn't seen him since.
Shrugging, Ella thought, 'I look good,' as she admired the smooth, supple lines her body reflected in the full-length mirror. After careful consideration of her milky white skin, she resolved to get more sun next summer. Even nerds should be a little tanned in south Florida.
The small pink bikini lying on the counter grabbed her attention and her thoughts went back to the time, six weeks before, when she first put on the ill-fitting cheerleader's outfit. She chuckled. "Yeah, what a winner that one turned out to be," she whispered, shaking her head, "I hope this one is bigger." She took hold of the pink bikini Jenny had given her to wear—and was surprised to find that it would probably fit okay. The cups up top seemed large and full, and the bottoms were of a regular cut that should cover most of her tush. She had been prepared to complain, to ask if Jenny had anything a little more conservative, but thought to herself that this suit actually looked like it would cover more of her body than any of the others' suits. Anna's was scandalous; you could actually see part of her areola poking out around her top! This one Jenny had given her almost looked tame in comparison.
Quickly Ella shrugged into the bikini, noting with some satisfaction that the bottoms fit as comfortably as they looked. The top, while a bit tight around her torso, also fit fairly well, mostly covering her ponderous breasts. She didn't like the little snap in the back, it was hard for her to reach back and fasten, but that was a minor quibble. Both top and bottom were somewhat thin—her dark, pronounced nipples and wide, round areola were just barely visible beneath the semi-translucent pink material. Her ample bosoms, while fully covered, seemed intent on escaping confinement, jiggling and wobbling impressively against the thin cups. Mildly concerned, Ella grabbed her American Eagle t-shirt and pulled it on over the bikini. She was taking no chances.
'There,' she thought, 'that should take care of that.' Grabbing a towel she headed outside, hunger tickling her belly.
Mr. Thompson addressed the cheerleaders: "Ok ladies, I've got a one o'clock tee time, so I'm leaving all of this," he motioned his hands in a wide open gesture, "for you. All I ask is you follow my two house rules. One, be careful. Two, don't go anywhere if you, ah, indulge. Jennifer," he said, turning his attention to his daughter, "there's a reception with Judge Roberts after golf today, so I won't be home until really late. Make sure these fine young ladies all follow my rules, ok dear?"