Joel and Carrie Ch. 12byJoeDreamer©
It was the perfect summer morning. I saw Robbie and Tina sitting at a table outside the local restaurant we agreed on and smiled. It was good to see them. Carrie and I were meeting them for lunch today because they were going on vacation to England for a couple of weeks and we wanted to say goodbye. They saw me and smiled, but their expressions changed to concern when they realized I was alone.
"Where's Carrie?" Tina asked. "How is she?"
"She's doing better," I replied, not really sure if I was correct. Okay, that wasn't completely true. Carrie was doing better, but she still wasn't herself. I was hoping that getting out today would help. "She'll be here in a couple of minutes. She needed to stop across the street and return something for her mother first. " They both looked relieved.
"Good," Robbie smiled. "I was afraid she decided not to come."
"You know Carrie better than that," I said. "She'd never let you two disappear without saying goodbye." That wasn't quite the truth, at least not since what happened with Tara. It took quite a bit of cajoling on my part as well as her parents to get her out of the house. "Although, I'm glad you decided to come without Stephanie and Gwen. They are an interesting pair."
"Interesting?" Robbie snorted. "I have never met two girls so constantly horny in my life!"
"And you love every moment of it," Tina laughed, but then grew serious and looked at me. "But I understand why you're happy they're not here. They can't seem to accept Carrie's refusal to join in with their fun again."
"It's not something I'm thrilled about either," Robbie said, but then quickly added when he realized how it sounded, "But mostly because of the reason. You two are our best friends and I want you to be happy. If that entails never sharing the kind of fun we're talking about, then so be it. I can accept that as long as it makes you both happy."
"Me too," Tina said, squeezing my hand in support.
"I've missed you two," I said, meaning it, but only smiling half heartedly because of my concern for my girlfriend. "Carrie's never been the type to care about what people think, but losing Tara's friendship really shook her. It's been almost a month since the big blow up at Francine's and she's only just starting to come around. It doesn't help that Jill still hasn't come home."
"How are you doing?" Tina asked, stressing the word 'you'.
"Good," I answered, but I could tell that neither believed me. They knew me too well. I was lucky to have friends like them and I knew it. I forced myself to smile as I added, "It's not all bad news. Carrie's getting along with her parents once more and I'm getting to know a side of my father that I never guessed. Would you believe we're actually becoming friends? He can be pretty funny at times."
"Your father? Really?" Robbie asked in surprise. I understood. Pop was generally quiet when my friends were over. He could be quite intimidating without even realizing it.
"Really," I laughed. "Work is going well too." I'd taken a job at a camp this summer and it ended up being far more enjoyable then I expected. "I like working with kids. Who knew? We just got done with the first session of camp. I have a week off before we start the next one."
"Lucky you," Robbie sighed. "I just got fired from my job."
"You fired?" I asked in surprise.
"Well, my boss wasn't thrilled when I asked for two weeks off considering I only started working a month ago," he replied. "But how often do you get a chance to go overseas?"
"Your parents must have loved that," I said, shaking my head.
"Don't ask," he groaned. "But honestly, it's all for the better. I hated that job!"
"He's counting on keeping the job he had up at school," Tina put in. "It pays surprisingly well. If he does, then he really doesn't need the summer job. Of course, if he doesn't get it back..." I knew Tina was teasing him. So did Robbie, but he reacted anyway.
"My boss promised a spot for me next term," Robbie interjected.
"Of course she did," Tina said pointedly. "She has a thing for you."
"Who doesn't?" Robbie joked. Tina rolled her eyes.
"You have quite the ego there."
"And whose fault is that?" he asked rhetorically, leaning over and kissing Tina briefly.
"Do you think you two are really ready to go to England with Stephanie and Gwen?" I asked, changing the subject somewhat. "I mean, those two..."
"Sure," Robbie grinned.
"I think he's hoping that England is full of nymphomaniacs like Stephanie and Gwen," Tina sighed, but then she smiled and shook her head. "I'm actually looking forward to some site seeing. I've always wanted to travel."
"It will be a blast!" Robbie grinned. I shook my head. He was obviously still thinking about Stephanie, Gwen and possibly some of their friends.
"Just be sure to come home when you're done," Carrie smiled as she joined us. I was so amused by Robbie and Tin's conversation that I hadn't noticed her crossing the street. She took a moment to kiss both of them on the cheek before sitting. "We'll miss you." I hid my smile. She obviously meant it despite how difficult it was to get her to come.
"Don't worry," Robbie replied. "We will. Honestly, I'm surprised I got Tina to agree to go. I was afraid she wouldn't leave her mother alone for the two weeks."
"I am worried about her," Tina sighed. "But she insisted we go."
"Has she started dating yet?" Carrie asked as the waitress took our order.
"No," Tina replied. "Anything but. It's one of the reasons why I agreed to go. Mom hasn't gotten any better since I came home. In fact, I think she might be a little worse. We wouldn't be going if she hadn't convinced me that she just needs some time to herself."
I had a feeling that I knew what might be bothering her mother. Bridgette wasn't stupid and Stephanie and Gwen weren't the most circumspect coeds in the world. I was willing to bet that Bridgette knew exactly what Tina, Robbie and their English friends were doing. The poor woman probably had no idea how to cope with it all.
"On the other hand," Tina continued. "I'm afraid that leaving her alone will only make things worse."
"Do you want us to stop by while you're gone?" Carrie asked. "To make sure everything is okay?" It was so like the old her to offer, but still it surprised me because of how she'd been acting the last couple of weeks.
"Thanks! I'd appreciate it," Tina smiled. "I'm sure she'll like some company after a couple of days and she's always liked you and Joel."
"Don't worry. We'll keep an eye on her. Maybe I'll even see if I can set her up with Joel's father," my girl said thoughtfully. Tina frowned and Carrie laughed. "Oh, I know you don't think they're right for each other, but both of them could use to get out and have some fun, even if it's just as friends."
I watched Carrie as she spoke and smiled. She was sounding more and more like herself. This lunch was working out well. It was time Carrie got out and about.
Two hours later we left our friends with them promising to send a post card from England and us promising to keep an eye on Tina's mother. It was a good afternoon. Possibly the best we'd had since coming home from school.
"I don't feel like going home yet," I said as we got into the car. "Is there anything else you want to do?" I held my breath while Carrie thought for a moment.
"Let's see if we can track down Jennifer," she finally said. "I've talked to her over the phone and she seems to be dealing okay with what happened, but I want to see her to make sure she's okay."
"That's a good idea," I said, unable to hide my grin. The last few weeks were tough. I hated seeing Carrie upset, especially when there seemed to be nothing I could do to make her feel better other than just be there. To see her smiling once more without any traces of the pain or weariness she'd carried with her since losing Tara as a friend was heartwarming.
Twenty minutes later we were at Jennifer's front door. We rang the bell and her mother answered. She was clearly surprised to see us. I held my breath wondering how she'd react. The last time I saw her Jennifer was trumpeting to the world that she, Brian and Tara all took part in 'The Summer Orgy', as people around town were calling it. I was pretty sure that hadn't gone over well with her.
"Carrie! Joel!" the woman said with surprising warmth. "So nice to see you. Jennifer's in the living room watching television." I guess it went over better with her than I thought.
"Hello Mrs. Madden," I smiled tentatively.
"I go by my maiden name these days, Hawkins," she said. Her tone remained warm and friendly as she ushered us in. Whatever pains she went through with her divorce, they were obviously in the past. "I wanted to thank you two. Ever since you've become Jennifer's friends she's been much happier."
"We're lucky to have her as a friend, Ms. Hawkins," Carrie said. "She's one of the best."
"My daughter is certainly loyal," the woman laughed ruefully. "I just wish she were quieter about it. It's been an interesting couple of weeks."
"So, you're okay with what happened?" I asked in surprise. I never pictured Jennifer's mom as so open minded.
"At Francine's?" the woman asked. "Yes. I'm glad she stuck up for her friends. I could have wished it was in a more private setting, but so be it. In regards to last summer, honestly, I'm not sure how to feel."
"Well then, thanks for welcoming us despite your concerns," Carrie sighed. "You'd be amazed at how some people have reacted."
"I heard from Jennifer," the woman said, shaking her head. "Why don't you go say hi? I'll get some ice tea."
"Sure, thanks," I smiled, watching her go. Jennifer's mom seemed like a nice woman. I noticed her hair was the same pale blond as Jennifer's, but her eyes were blue where Jen's were brown. She was attractive if not quite as beautiful as her daughter. On the other hand her breasts were quite a bit larger than Jen's. They both had the same ass. All in all, a very attractive woman.
"Maybe we should introduce your dad to her," Carrie said, obviously on the same wave length as me. "She's not a redhead, but there's something about her."
"Play match maker later," I snorted, shaking my head. "Let's go find Jennifer."
"Okay," Carrie laughed.
The moment Jennifer and my girl saw each other they both smiled and hugged. The loss of Tara had obviously made my girl reevaluate all of her friendships. It seems that Jennifer was moving up quite a few notches. I was happy for them both. Jennifer and I exchanged a hug as well.
"So how are you, really?" Carrie asked as the three of us sat down on the couch. The television was still on, but Jennifer lowered the volume before answering.
"I'm good," she replied, meeting Carrie's gaze and letting her judge for herself. My girl nodded slowly after a few seconds.
"Any regrets?" I asked.
"Not really," she said slowly. "I've lost some friends over it, but that's their problem. Some people look at me oddly and whisper, but I can deal with that. Honestly, the worst part is that some guys seem to think that I'm a slut that will sleep with anyone since I took part in 'The Summer Orgy'."
"Really?" I asked in surprise. I guess it made sense in a sad sort of way. That didn't stop the news from angering me. Jennifer was a friend. "Do you want me to talk to anyone specifically?" She saw my expression and smiled. Pop wasn't the only one who could be intimidating when necessary.
"It's kind of you to offer, but you can't threaten every jerk out there," Jennifer's mother said as she walked in and placed the tray of ice teas in front of us.
"I can in they're hurting one of my friends," I replied, meaning it. Ms. Hawkins looked at me oddly for a moment before smiling slowly.
"Carrie, you're lucky," she said, turning to my girl. "You found one of the good ones. Those aren't nearly as common as you would think."
"Just hope that he's not one of the ones who start out good and end up being a jerk," Jennifer said, staring off into space. I frowned in confusion, but her mother understood.
"That's not really fair," she said gently. "Your father cheated on me and you have no idea how angry it makes me at times, but he was a good father to you. The truth is that our divorce was coming for a long time."
"Mom, I don't want to talk about it now," Jennifer sighed. It sounded like it was an old argument.
"Your sister has forgiven him," Ms. Hawkins continued. "Julie is over there right now probably having a great time. I know you're mad at him, but he is your father. You can't keep avoiding him forever."
"Watch me!" Jennifer snapped. Her mother sighed and shook her head, but let the topic drop.
"Are you two hungry? I can make some sandwiches," she offered.
"We just finished eating," I smiled. "But thanks anyway."
"You sound like you've gotten past your divorce," Carrie said with that thoughtful look.
"I am," the woman smiled. "Life is too short to hold grudges."
"Are you dating yet?" my girl asked and I shook my head. I knew where she was going with this and I wasn't sure how well Jennifer's mother would take it.
"Why? Do you have someone in mind?" the woman laughed, sounding a little embarrassed as she tried to play it off as a joke.
"Actually, I do," Carrie replied. "Joel's father is single. I think you two would hit it off."
"Oh dear!" Ms. Hawkins said, swallowing the end of her laughing. "I'll have to think about that. I don't really know John that well."
"I bet he's a nice guy," Jenifer put in. "He raised Joel by himself and look how good he turned out."
"Gee thanks," I said, trying to make it a joke, but I'm sure I was blushing.
"Does your father know that Carrie's trying to set him up?" Jennifer's mother asked.
"They joke about it," I replied with a shrug. "But I don't think he realized that Carrie takes it as a serious mission."
"He's a good guy," my girl offered. "And he's been alone too long."
"Call me old fashioned, but this is a little too weird for me," Ms. Hawkins finally said. "I'll think about it, but I doubt anything will come of it. I don't like being setup on a blind date."
"It's your decision," Carrie said. "But I have a feeling about you two and my feelings are almost never wrong."
"They really aren't," I said when Jennifer's mother looked at me.
"Oh dear," she laughed nervously, and then jokingly added, "Do you really want me for a stepmother?"
"Wait," Jennifer grinned. "Would that make what happened between Joel and me last summer incest?"
"Jennifer! That's terrible!" her mother cried. "I think it's time I leave you three to yourselves. I'm going out for a bit. I'll be back in a few hours. Have fun. It was nice to see you both again."
"You too," Carrie said. "And don't forget you promised to think about Joel's father." The woman shook her head, but then nodded as she disappeared through the doorway.
"That's a surprise. I thought mom was staying in today," Jennifer said thoughtfully. "We were picking through our old movies just before you came by. I don't think she was planning on going out at all, much less for a few hours."
"I hope we didn't chase her away," I frowned. "She didn't have to leave just because we visited."
"Of course she did," Carrie disagreed. "At least as she sees it. She knows we're Jennifer's friends. She also knows that we've been a bit more than just friends."
"You mean you think she left so that the three of us could..." I began in surprise, but Jennifer cut me off.
"No way!" she cried. "My mother is cool, but not that cool!"
"Why else would she leave?" Carrie asked confidently. Jennifer thought for a moment before shrugging and shaking her head.
"I don't know," she said. I saw her expression change before she continued. I tried to cut her off because she was smiling sexily and I knew what she had in mind, but she spoke before I could stop her. "Of course, it seems a shame to make her leave for nothing. We could..."
"No," my girl answered, a little too quickly. "We don't do that anymore." Jennifer was no dummy and she could tell she'd made a mistake. Her eyes darted to Carrie in concern.
"I'm sorry for bringing it up. It was selfish of me. It's been a while, but that's no excuse." My girl took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
"Actually, I think that's a fair excuse," Carrie said, surprising me. "And don't think I'm not tempted, but I can't."
"Why not?" Jennifer asked, but then laughed when she realized how it sounded. "I'm not still trying to get you into bed. Honest!" She grew serious and added, "I'm just curious. You've never really explained why what happened changed everything."
"It didn't change everything," Carrie said slowly. "But it did let me see that there were real repercussions to what we were doing. I guess I always knew it, but losing Tara's friendship made it sink in. I realized how what we were doing affects so much more than just us. My parents lost friends. I think my father's company lost some business."
"Really?" Jennifer asked in surprise.
"Oh, not enough to matter," my girl replied. "Daddy could retire tomorrow if he wanted to. He works because he honestly likes what he does."
"I wonder if mom's having any issue at work," Jennifer frowned in concern.
"I wouldn't worry about it," I smiled. "You're mother can obviously take care of herself."
"Yes, she can," the pale blond smiled slowly. "I asked her if I caused her to lose any friends when I opening my big mouth and announced to the world that I took part in 'The Summer Orgy'. She told me that she lost most of those types of friends during the divorce. The ones she has left aren't going anywhere."
"I'm glad for her," Carrie said with a sad smile. "I always thought that any friends I lost over what we were doing weren't worth keeping, but Tara was different."
"For what it's worth, I think it upset her almost as much as it did you," Jennifer put in. "I think it was her parents and Brian who forced her to end your friendship."
"I know," Carrie sighed. "And that only makes me feel worse. I didn't want to do anything to put Tara through something like that."
"You know," I said in annoyance. "We didn't force anyone to do anything they didn't want to. Tara's a big girl. Hell, she's been involved from the beginning, even before me. I don't think it's fair that you're taking the blame for everything that happened."
"He's right," Jennifer said. "And let's be honest, most of us would do it all over again given the choice. Do you think Deane and Maria regret what happened? It's how they finally realized what they meant to each other."
"And it's made Robbie and Tina's relationship even stronger," I put in. "We've brought a lot of people together."
"You sound like you miss it," Carrie said with an odd expression. I took her hand and looked into her eyes.
"I miss a lot of things about those times," I said with careful honestly. "I miss the sight of your sexy smile when you're in the middle of seducing someone. I miss how you look at the peak of passion. I miss the feel of you in my arms after you're completely spent from one of our crazy parties. Sure I miss it, but only because you're at the center of all of it."
"But you two have those things even without adding partners." Jennifer frowned when neither of us immediately responded. "Or do you?"
"We do," I answered slowly, but then admitted reluctantly, "Just not recently." Carrie had taken what happened with Tara badly. She hadn't turned cold or anything. She just wasn't her usual passionate self.
"I really haven't been good company recently, have I?" my girl said thoughtfully.
"Don't be silly," I said quickly. "Of course..."
"No I haven't," Carrie interjected with a shake of her head. She took my hand in hers and added, "And I'm sorry. I think you're right. I'm letting what happened with Tara get to me too much. I can't dwell on it forever and I certainly don't want to lose you and what we have together because of it."