tagNovels and NovellasTime for School Ch. 14

Time for School Ch. 14


Chapter 14 - Elizabeta

Note: All characters in this story involved in sexual situations are 18 years of age or older


Elizabeta sat down on one of the pool's many lounge chairs. She reached down into a small canvas bag on the ground next to her and pulled out a bottle of suntan oil. She then reclined onto the chair and began to apply the oil to her arms.

"You're putting suntan on?" I asked with a slight smirk as I sat on the chair next to hers. "Aren't you tanned enough?"

"Of course not," she casually remarked. She then glanced over at me and grinned. "You can use this after I'm done with it."

"Nah, I'll pass," I replied with a slight chuckle.

She sized me up with an unimpressed look. "You could really use it."

"But then you wouldn't recognize me," I playfully countered.

She laughed. "Good point, papi. I need to put my sunglasses on just to see you."

I smirked and shook my head. "Very cute."

She playfully stuck her tongue out at me while putting on a pair of sunglasses. She then made herself comfortable and laid back on the chair.

Of course, I couldn't help myself from gazing over at her body beautifully shimmering in the sun. She was so lovely and enticing in that relaxed pose she was in. I then saw a smile creep across her lips.

"See anything you like?" she softly asked.

"You caught me," I replied with a cheeky grin. She turned her head to me.

"You're being pretty honest with yourself lately," she remarked. "... I like that."

"Honesty is the best policy, right?"

"Damn right," she replied. "You better not lie around me."

"I wouldn't dream of it," I said, deciding to recline on the chair myself. She continued to keep her gaze affixed to me for a moment while I calmly gazed up at the blue sky.

She then spoke up. "Speaking of honesty ..."

"Hmm?" I curiously uttered, turning my head to her.

"I want to be honest with you about something," she said while rolling onto her side towards me. She certainly had my attention with that remark. "Back in middle school, when we used to hang. ... I used to have a small crush on you." My eyes widened a bit in intrigue. "I feel like a real perra for admitting that to you since I don't feel the same way now. ... I still think you're an awesome guy to hang with, though."

"Thanks," I said with a smile. It was always nice to be complimented, especially by someone who's usually as tough as her. Now that I thought about it, she'd never really been open with her feelings with me before. I thought it was only appropriate to return the favor since the mood was already set. "I think you're pretty awesome, too."

The two of us grinned at each other for a moment before she calmly rolled onto her back and rested her head on the lounge chair once again with a content sigh. It must've been pretty relieving for her to get that off of her chest. I had been learning that myself with the numerous times I'd professed my otherwise well-kept feelings over the past couple of weeks. I found myself eyeing her body once again before deciding I might as well get something off my chest, too.

"I want to tell you a secret," I said. She quickly turned her head to me.

"Oh, shit," she said with upset in her voice. "Please don't tell me you're actually gay."

"No," I quickly rebuked with a slight grin. I knew she was screwing with me, especially since she laughed right afterward. "You get right to the point, don't you?"

"It's what makes me so adorable," she innocently replied. "So, what do you want to tell me?"

"All right, now don't freak out," I said, causing her to become quite serious, "... but I can freeze time. Like, stop it completely."

She was silent at first, her jaw hanging down slightly. She then began to chortle, followed by a loud, boisterous laugh. I just laid there and smiled, waiting patiently as she got the initial skepticism out of her system.

"Damn, that was a good one," she said between laughs. "You had me going there, papi. Nice job."

"I'm being one-hundred percent serious," I calmly replied. Her eyebrows quirked curiously.

"Sure you are," she said with a smirk.

This always seems to happen, doesn't it? It's like people can't just believe a guy when he tells them he has a surreal superpower. Well, I was going to have to make her into yet another believer.

With the blink of an eye, everything around us came to an instant halt. Elizabeta curiously rubbed her ear and looked around when all the sound suddenly died out.

"What the fuck?" she wondered aloud. "Did everyone drown? Why's it so quiet?"

"I stopped time," I said, causing her to turn to me with a disconcerted look. "Well, you didn't believe me, so I figured it was better to show you." She continued to stare at me until I sighed and smiled. "Come on," I said as I sat up and got to my feet. She took of her sunglasses and put them away before cautiously getting to her feet as well.

I led the very skeptical Elizabeta over to the group of people that were hanging out by the deeper end of the pool. She suddenly gasped upon seeing them immobile. Even the ripples in the water around them were still in place. She just stood there in confusion.

"What...?" she uttered. "No way. This can't be for real. You told these people to do this."

I shook my head. "Try to move something," I told her. "Anything, like a chair or a table or something."

Elizabeta curiously reached out to the nearest chair and immediately found it was very solidly in place.

"This is ... what the ..." She quickly moved from chair to chair, realizing every one of them was as immovable as the last. "Holy shit," she quietly remarked as she looked at me with startled eyes. "I can't even think right now."

"It takes some getting used to," I casually replied.

"How do you even get used to this?!" she shouted as she walked back up to me, almost confrontational. I took a step back in surprise. "Holy shit, you're like one of those crazy-ass comic book guys that do shit like this all the time like it's normal!"

"You want to sit back down?" I calmly asked.

"Yes!" she exclaimed, panting as she'd become flustered.

I nodded and calmly led her back over to her lounge chair which she plopped down and laid upon with all her weight. Luckily for her, I had made it so the stretchy straps on the chair were still mobile. Obviously a detail as miniscule as that didn't even cross her mind. She seemed pretty dazed by what was happening.

I sat beside her for a few minutes, watching her as she blankly stared up at the sky. Once she finally got her bearings, she looked over at me with a shake of her head.

"Well," she spoke, sounding much calmer than before, "that's the last time I won't take you serious."

"Are you okay?" I asked with a slight smirk.

"I'm sitting in the middle of ... fucking 'time-stop world,'" she remarked before sarcastically adding, "Yeah, I'm great!"

I nodded. It was easy for me to understand that this was really overwhelming for her. I'd placed her in a situation she wasn't anywhere near ready to digest.

"I can turn it back to normal if you want."

"No," she quickly replied. "I can handle this. You seem pretty cool about it, so ... I'll be cool, too."

She inhaled and exhaled slowly, almost as though in a meditation. I smiled, trying not to laugh.

I then told her, "It's just that you were, you know, being honest with me about how you used to feel about me. So, I decided to be honest with you ... with this."

She let out one last quiet sigh before opening her eyes to look at me.

"How did you even do this?" she asked with concern. "Did you fall into nuclear waste or some shit?"

"I wish I had an explanation," I said. "I just woke up one morning and ... I could stop time."

She shook her head in disbelief. "What the fuck," she remarked, baffled. She then took a moment to think the situation over. "You could totally do anything you want, though. You could, like, ... go rob stores and shit and nobody would ever know."


"You could rob a bank!" she exclaimed. "Holy shit, you could run in there when the safe is open and just take all the money you want! Or you could go into people's houses and just act like you own the place. Damn, that's awesome. You can have any house you want as your own."

I was a bit taken aback by how eagerly unlawful she would've been.

"I don't want to do any of that stuff, though," I quietly replied.

"Damn," she said, sucking her teeth. "I would do that shit in a second. Literally, I could stop time and then be at the bank like a second later." She then took a good look at me. She thought for a brief moment before smirking. "You've always been way too honest, though. ... I like that about you. Seriously."

"Thanks," I replied, grinning a bit.

She jokingly remarked, "I guess that's why you have this power and I don't."

"I don't know why I even have it," I replied. "But I want to make the best of it."

Elizabeta then sat next to me and I scooted over a bit to accommodate her. We smiled at each other for a quick moment before she stared up at the sky.

"Not even the clouds are moving," she remarked, causing me to look up as well. "This is some crazy shit."

"Yeah, it is pretty crazy," I said as we looked at each other again. "But, like I said, I've gotten used to it."

Suddenly, her eyes lit up as she was struck with an idea. "Hey, if time is stopped and we're the only two who can do stuff ... doesn't that mean we can do anything we want?"

"Well, yeah. I'm not going to help you break into someone's house, though."

"Damn, he's on to me," she joked, the two of us sharing a chuckle. "Actually ... I was thinking that you and I could totally keep messing around like we did a little while ago."

Now, my eyes lit up. "Oh, you want to mess around with me?"

"Hell yeah, I do," she replied as she edged closer to me, looking at each other with a couple of eager grins between us.

And then, she placed her hands on my shoulders and leaned in towards me to share another kiss.

We took the time to let our lips got more acquainted with one another. She sighed happily, quickly straightening her back when I put my arms around her. She put a hand behind my head, insistently pulling me closer to her. I was a little surprised by her gall, but this was Elizabeta I was dealing with. I happily went with the flow as she moaned and shoved her lips as deep as they would go into my own. We were pretty much sucking face at that point. I couldn't complain at all, though. Not with how wonderful her soft, plush lips felt clamped around my own.

After a short time of deep, aggressive making out, Elizabeta's lips loudly popped as she pulled away with a deep sigh. Both of us took a moment to catch our breath and just stare longingly at one another. She then grinned and giggled in the small reprieve between kisses. I knew she was getting excited when she shifted even closer to me. She brushed my cheek with her other hand, starting to gaze much more deeply at me with those bright, jade eyes of hers.

She whispered, "All those old feelings I had for you. ... They're starting to come back."

Needless to say, I was thrilled to hear her say that. To think that she had the hots for me was elating. I didn't get to enjoy that feeling for very long, though. She eagerly shoved me back onto the lounge chair with both hands, grinning happily as she crawled atop me and quickly kissed me for a brief moment. As I let my legs lay flat on the chair, she sat up on my lap. Her eyes were lit up with an ambitious desire, purring softly as her oiled hands rubbed my chest and stomach in infatuation.

I laid back and watched Elizabeta reach behind her back, untie her top, and toss it aside. She then took my hands and placed them over her bare breasts. I wasted not a second before I began massaging them deeply, drawing a quick moan of pleasure from her. She kept her hands upon my own, idly grinding her crotch against mine, her jaw hanging as she panted in excitement. She amazed me - I had to let her know that.

"Elizabeta," I spoke, "you turn me on so much."

"It goes both ways, papi," she softly replied with a huge grin. "You're so fucking hot..."

I grinned a bit at her remark. I couldn't have imagined I'd ever hear those words spill from her lips - it was music to my ears. Her hands slid up my arms, coming to a rest on my shoulders. She moaned deeply as she grinded harder on me, all while I mashed my fingers deeper into her soft breasts. I was so very, very hard by then and I was certain she knew that as she rhythmically rubbed her sex along the length of my penis.

"I want you to fuck me," Elizabeta panted. "I want you ... to be my first." My eyes widened a bit in amazement. She was a virgin, too? I didn't think it could've gotten anymore amazing. "Do me, papi. Do me..."

Listening to her plead with me for sex was a rush like I'd never felt before. I knew there was no uncertainty within her; no point in asking if she wanted to back out. There definitely wasn't any in me, either.

"Well, since you asked so nicely ...," I replied, trying to be cute in the midst of our heat.

She grinned for a brief moment before leaning in to let our lips unite in a wet, sloppy kiss. As I put my arms around her back, both of us were already starting to sweat. In the midst of our wild kiss, she placed her feet by my head to pull her tiny swimsuit bottom down her thighs. I helped in removing the garment which was heading right for my face. Our kiss broke for just a moment as I yanked it down her ankles and then tossed it aside.

Elizabeta's posture gave me a good glimpse of her bare pussy for just a quick moment. It also gave me a good idea of just how flexible she was. Folded up like an accordion atop me, she suddenly dove in for my neck like a hungry vampire out for blood. We both moaned softly as she kissed around my neck. She then latched deeply into my flesh and sucked hard upon it in a way that made the air escape my lungs and drop my jaw in awe.

It was the first time anyone ever gave me an actual hickey. Though startling, I couldn't say I didn't like it.

She grinned, happy with herself as she leaned back to take a look at the mark I knew she'd left there upon my neck. I didn't have time to reflect on what it looked like before she placed her feet on the ground and slid back to just above my knees. She grinned mischievously at me as she slowly, steadily pulled down my bathingsuit and freed my elongated, pulsing manhood. I helped out once again by kicking it aside once it was past my knees.

"Oh, shit," she breathily remarked as she stared at my erect penis. "You're so hard..."

"Can you blame me?" I teased.

Her grin spread even wider as she looked at me for a moment. She turned her attention back to my shaft, cupping her soft, oiled hands around it and began to slowly stroke me in both hands. I laid back with a lustful sigh and let her take care of the work for the time being. She panted with increasing excitement, unable to look away from my fleshy rod. I groaned sharply when she wrapped one hand very tightly around it, jerking me hard. That pressure was incredible, drawing deep groans and sighs of pleasure out of me. She swallowed hard, running her free hand through her hair. Her bright eyes stared, almost unblinking, down upon my sex. She'd started to tremble with anticipation.

"God ...," she breathed. "I'm so wet right now. ... I want you so bad ..."

I strained through the pleasure to reply, "It goes both ways."

Elizabeta couldn't wait any longer. Our eyes locked for a moment while she maneuvered her thick folds over my penis, which she continued to grip tightly. I was more than welcoming toward her impatience. She panted, eager, while grinding the underside of my shaft between her swollen petals. Both of us moaned together in response, sitting right there on the verge of unity. Her panting was so intense by the time she slowly guided the tip into her hungry opening.

My jaw dropped and I groaned intensely as her tight muscles began to pull me inside of her belly. She moaned and bit her lip as she focused all of her attention into impaling herself upon me as gently as possible. Helped along by the suntan oil and her fluids, I slid with ease into her heat. She gasped sharply as we both felt the stretchy barrier break around my entry. Her walls contracted so hard around me, making that first moment inside her so much more excruciatingly pleasant.

Elizabeta planted her hands firmly on my chest, while my own hands traveled up her thighs and sides. She began to move her body up and down my manhood in a slow, jerky rhythm. I sighed sharply, holding onto her hips as her muscles sucked and contracted around me. She panted heavily, her eyes staring intensely into my own. Her facial expression looked as if to say 'this is really happening.'

"Ohh, my god," she moaned. "I had no idea this would feel so good..."

"You don't have to tell me that..."

She snickered briefly before letting her jaw hang down, panting and moaning as her hips bucked a little harder and more rhythmically. We bounced in time together, thanks in part to the stretchy straps of the lounge chair absorbing the full impact of our weight. I watched her trembling body bouncing up and down upon me. She shimmered like a bronze goddess in the stale sunlight. I was still very content to letting her do all the work. It was a tense relaxation.

Elizabeta's inner muscles settled down for the most part, keeping a tight grip around my very sensitive organ. We moaned at each other, both of us squirming as pleasure flooded our young bodies. My toes were very firmly curled from the relentless state of bliss she was keeping me in. It was the first time I'd ever been rode upon. Not being in control of the pace made it harder to keep my climax in check - especially with how amazing it felt to be inside of her.

Elizabeta, that rogue girl that always had foul mouth and a temper that I'd always found so oddly enticing. I was really sharing the intimate passion of sex with her right at that moment in time.

"Aii! Aii!" she began exclaiming whilst hungrily shoving her hips down upon my own. The plastic of the chair creaked as she panted and perspired profusely. Her body snaked and jerked her head back several times, panting hard and crying out in ecstasy. Then, she looked down at me, her eyes filled with lust and enthrallment.

"Ohh, fuck...! I'm cu-cumming, Anthony!"

I found myself unusually spellbound by that statement due to the piercing gaze in her bright green eyes. She then squeezed them shut, groaning loud, biting down on her lip as her body rhythmically slammed down and quaked hard against me. We both groaned in astonishment until she slowly ceased movement and sound, hunching over and grabbing my shoulders tight. I watched her open her mouth wide, a silent cry escaping her lips, her face twisted into an expression of strained pleasure. Elizabeta's body jerked hard a few times as she gushed fluid down my shaft, finally letting out a long, drawn-out groan of relieved ecstasy.

I calmly sat up, putting my arms around her. In her daze, she managed to do the same to me, letting her teeth rest in the meat of my shoulder as she groaned and panted heavily to catch her breath. After a moment, she slowly looked up at me, her eyes sparkling in amazement.

"I'm not done ... yet," she softly said. "I know you ain't, either. ... I want you to ... to give it to me."

"With pleasure," I quietly replied, much to her excitement.

We shared a brief kiss as I hooked an arm underneath her butt. I carried her off with me as I got to my feet, not letting the union of our sex break just yet. Making love in the water had always been a huge fantasy of mine. Now that I had the chance, I couldn't help but take it.

She was completely willing to go along with me for the ride as I neared the the pool. I immediately made the water mobile again just as my feet touched down on the steps. I made sure not to make the people residing in it mobile as well. I got down into the water just enough to cover our lower bodies.

There, I gazed into Elizabeta's eyes with an eagerness that tacitly told her to hold on tighter to me - which she did. I then resumed our rhapsody as I began to rhythmically push my hips into her own.

"Oh, yes!" she remarked in awe. "God, I wanted you to fuck me for so long...!"

Just hearing her say that invigorated me enough to really start shoving the entire length of my shaft inside of her belly. She threw her head back, the corners of her lips curled into a wide smile as I happily thrusted away into her.

I held her a little tighter, both of us carelessly making love almost in front of the frozen spectators. The entire body of water reverberated all around us with each eager punch of my hips into her own. The splashing and our mutual voices in euphoria only got more wild with my increasingly intense pounding. We panted together, lost in glorious ecstasy, our bodies a mix of sweat, water and sun oil.

"Yes, Anthony! Yes! Give me that cock! Ahh~!"

I was nearing the edge of my climax. I started to walk towards the steps, both of us emerging from the water. Her body clung tighter to me in response, and I started giving it to her as deep and as fast as I could. I should've been able to hold out longer, but I was so very turned on that I didn't want to hold back. Her tiny body writhing and crumpling against me, her intense squeals and that gorgeous look in her eyes every single time she looked at me all within the otherwise prohibited confines of the pool - I was overwhelmed by it all.

"Ohh, yes!" she cried. "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! You're the best!! You're the best in the whole world!!"

I groaned and panted hard, drilling into the depths of Elizabeta's tight walls with reckless abandon. Her body tensed and twisted, the incessant hammering of my hips helping her to reach her climax for a second time. She let out a loud, rapturous cry that told me everything I needed to know about how incredible it was for her. I couldn't wait any longer in the midst of her own orgasm. I quickly pulled out, shuddering and exhaling sharply as I used a hand to ejaculate upon her darkly tan flesh.

She couldn't help but watch my moment of splendrous satisfaction. Her body continued to convulse while she stared in amazement at the sight of me spilling my hot seed all over her chest and belly.

And then, our bodies slowly began to relax. Both of us were exhausted. Our jaws hung down as we panted heavily. A few moments later, I looked up at her, and she looked up at me. She panted quietly, both of us grinning at each other after a job well done. She then closed her eyes and rested her head on my shoulder. I sat down on the top step, letting her sit down across my thighs, her legs draped over my own.

"I don't want to move at all from here," she quietly said. "Please ... don't make me move. I feel so ... comfortable right now."

"We can stay here for as long as you like," I replied.

"Good," she replied, settling in deeper into my shoulder with a smile. "If you said anything other than that, I would've killed you." I grinned, always charmed by her attitude.

I watched the deep ripples in the pool coming to a slow halt. The water was also settling down after our turbulent commingling. She held firmly to me, continuing to slowly squirm in delight as she rode out her post-coitus high. Her dark, wet hair was messily tossed all around her face. It was so refreshing to see her in such a serene, fragile state.

Elizabeta looked up at me. Her green eyes sparkled from the aftershocks of a mystifying experience.

"Are you okay?" I asked.

"Yeah," she whispered. "I'd say I'm pretty damn good." I grinned and nodded.

"Good. Why don't we go get showered?"

"Sounds good."

I held her hand as we slowly got to our feet together. Once we stepped out of the water, her legs suddenly wobbled a little bit. We both laughed quietly as I held her up with an arm around her waist and headed to the outdoor showers. We both pulled down on our respective chains to let the water wash down upon us. We sighed happily, unable to stop staring and grinning at one another. The physical elements of our union may have been washed away, but the memory would certainly remain forever.

Afterward, we both headed back to the lounge chairs to put back what little clothing we had on our bodies. I couldn't help but notice how unusually quiet she was. It wasn't like the loudmouthed Elizabeta I was so accustomed to. She continued to carry a sparkle of wonder in her eyes as she tied her swimwear onto her body.

"Are you gonna say something?" I curiously asked.

She quietly laughed, adjusting the cups of her top. She gave her response in the form of a kiss. We wrapped our arms tightly around one another, engaging in a deep, meaningful kiss. It lasted a good couple of minutes. Neither of us felt like we wanted to stop.

Once it finally did, she sighed happily as she looked up at me.

"Mmm, the way you kiss me feels so good...," she remarked.

"It goes both ways, Elizabeta," I replied with a sly grin. She chuckled.

"You know, there's a reason why I've been calling you 'papi' for a little while now."

"Why's that?" I asked, genuinely curious of that.

"It's because ..." she trailed off before turning away with an embarrassed grin. "It's so stupid."

"Come on, tell me," I prodded. She sighed heavily, shifting her eyes back at me as she smirked. She thought about it for a moment before explaining further.

"I really ... wanted to fuck around with you, ... like we did just now." I found that quite surprising. "I wanted to do it with you for a while. Even if it was just for ... five seconds, ten seconds - cause I didn't expect you to last longer than that." I grinned and shook my head as she laughed. "But I've just actually been really horny for you. I dunno why, maybe I was just curious. I'm satisfied with what we did, though. I don't regret it at all."

"Neither do I."

After another intimate yet brief kiss, the two of us then sat down on our respective chairs. She reached out and grabbed my hands, if nothing else just to hold them for a little while. I reciprocated and held hers. We must've sat there for several minutes, our hands holding, just smiling and laughing at points. It was like satisfying a great, mutual need for us both. I think she was just relieved she finally went through with it. I know I was. Then, she looked up again at the motionless clouds.

"So," she spoke, "how long can you make it stay like this?"

"I never really ... timed it or anything. But I assume I can make it stay this way forever."

"Forever, huh?" she asked, looking at me once again. "You don't want to live in a world like this forever, right?"

"No. It's really not very fun at all."

"Good," she said with relieved sigh. "I don't want to miss a second with you."

I grinned from ear to ear. "Listen to you being sentimental," I teased her. "It's so cute."

She frowned angrily. "Shut up, pendejo."

"Now that's more like it," I replied, laughing as she shook her head in annoyance.

I then brought her hand up to my lips and kissed it gently. She smirked at me.

"You're a sweet guy," she remarked. "It's ... nice to have someone like you around who doesn't have to stomp around acting like a prick like most of the guys in school. Refreshing, you know?"

"You're a breath of fresh air, too," I said, piquing her interest. "You don't feel like you need to act girly to be a girl."

She humphed in amusement. "Damn right," she replied. She then sighed heavily as she took another look around our static surroundings. "Well, I just got kind of ... 'timesick.' You think you can turn this shit back to normal now?"

"Sure," I nodded. "You and I should probably lie down on the chairs like we were when I stopped time."

"... It's so weird," she said in disbelief as she laid down on her chair, "to hear you actually say you can do that and to know ... that it's for real."

"Yeah, it's pretty insane," I stated as I, too, laid back on my chair. "But it's my new normal."

"I guess, after that talk we had, better you than me. After all, I'd just use that power to fuck with people. You use it to actually fuck people."

I shook my head and reiterated, "Very funny." She chuckled in response.

Then, after the two of us had taken our places laying back down on the lounge chairs before I resumed time once more.

"Wow," was the first thing uttered from her lips. "I never realized how noisy it was out here."

"You get used to it," I replied with a casual shrug. She then looked over at me, smiling with such enthusiasm like I'd never seen before from her.

"Thank you ... for one hell of a time," she said. I nodded to her with a smile of my own. "Now, I'm exhausted as hell. I think I'm just gonna sunbathe for a while."

"And I'll probably just going to burn," I replied, calmly getting to my feet. "Better get some pool time in while I still can."

"Have fun. Just swim where I can keep an eye on you, young man."

We both grinned once more at each other, both of us very satisfied after everything we'd shared together.

I decided to do a few laps around the pool, all while getting in a few glances over at Elizabeta. She looked quite happy and content laying there, looking so beautiful once again glistening in the sun. At the same time, I looked around at the few people that were hanging around at the pool. I couldn't help but feel quite cheeky knowing that Elizabeta and I pretty much had sex right in front of them. Of course, they had no idea what we'd done which made it so much more satisfying.

The sun was starting to get a little too high for my wimpy skin to deal with. And so, I stepped out of the pool, casually walking by Elizabeta to get my towel. As I dried myself off and put my shirt and sandals on, I walked back up to her. She looked as though she was in the middle of a very pleasant nap.

"Hey there," I said, awaking her from her slumber. "Don't burn now."

"Coming from you," she weakly replied with a groan. "What time is it?"

I glanced over at the wall clock hanging on the awning. "About one-thirty."

"Damn," she remarked as she sat up. "I should get going. My mami's gonna be on that balcony soon, yelling at me to come up anyway." She collected her belongings and stuffed them into her bag. She then got to her feet and slung it over her shoulder.

"I'll walk you to the elevator."

"Wow," she jokingly remarked in amazement. "How gentlemanly of you. Why don't you just carry me there, too?"

"I can do that," I said with a shrug. "You only weight about two pounds anyway."

"You're a dick," she replied, playfully punching my arm. She then put an arm around my back, prompting me to do the same.

I opened the door into the building for her and followed her inside. We headed toward the elevators, where she called for one to head up. She then sighed as she turned to me, smiling, placing her hands on my shoulders.

"That was really amazing, papi," she remarked, both of us grinning. "I can't believe we really did that with you ... for my first time. I don't know if I should be shocked or happy about that."

"Well, I'm happy. Isn't that all that really matters?"

She quietly laughed before hugging me tightly around my neck, grinning as she rested her head on my chest. I held her in return, both of us settling into a warm embrace. I calmly stroked the length of her long, dark hair as she sighed again.

"I'm glad that you're my friend," she quietly spoke, surprising me once again with that tenderness I was not used to hearing from her. "I meant all the stuff I said to you earlier."

"Same here."

"Oh," she said, looking up at me with a smirk, "so you really think I have boobies that fit perfectly in your hands?"

"Of course!" I responded, shaking my head in bewilderment like that should've already been common knowledge. She laughed and pulled my head down to meet hers. We shared a brief kiss just before the elevator door opened. She pulled away from me, keeping her gaze on me as she walked backward into the elevator.

"See you back in school, then," she said, holding the door open.

"You definitely will," I replied with a nod. "And my arm will be ready to be your punching bag."

She laughed. "Bye, Anthony."

"See ya."

The elevator doors closed and I was left alone once more. I smiled to myself as I calmly strutted away, departing for home feeling a million times better. It was by far the best trip to the pool I've ever had.

After I got home, I took a good look in the bathroom mirror at that hickey Elizabeta gave me. She went all out -- that thing was really noticeable on the lily white canvas that was my skin. I didn't think there was any possible way for me to conceal it apart from wearing a turtleneck or putting a huge bandage on it and pretending it's a scrape. Then again, I could wear it and show it off proudly like a medal of manliness. But I shrugged that idea off. I wasn't hankering to brag over it.

There was still the issue of dealing with the thing, though. I curiously held my hand over the bruise, imagining what it would look like without it there. As I took my hand away, my eyes widened in surprise. The bruise had begun to rapidly heal right before my eyes until it was no more.

I stood there with my jaw firmly on the floor for a good few moments. I calmly poked at the spot where the hickey once was to confirm that it was, in fact, gone. I would've thought I was going crazy, but with everything that had happened to me over the past couple of weeks, nothing seemed impossible anymore. Just then, I heard Brandon's words echo in my head after my jaw had quickly healed up from the initial fight with Jason.

'You're like Wolverine with that healing factor,' he'd said to me. My lips curled into an enthused smile.

"Cool," I muttered to myself.

I sighed happily and then headed into the shower to wash the rest of the chlorinated water off of my body. All the while, I couldn't help but think about Elizabeta, how great she'd been, and what she'd be up to for the rest of the winter break.

The next week was like a dream come true. It was all the pleasantness of being at home, playing video games and talking to friends that I could handle. I was totally relaxed. It caused me to feel reinvigorated and refreshed. I had all the time I'd been hoping for to really soak in the huge shifts in my life like I'd been planning to do. I had begun to feel as though my new powers were merely an extension of my thought process somehow. It became as natural to me as breathing when I'd blink time on and off again. Fortunately enough, I didn't encounter any strange visits with the black-clad mystery men. Probably because I didn't stay in the time-frozen void for very long.

I got more in touch with the other, strange powers that I hadn't quite used as often. The super-strength thing didn't seem like it was that much of an issue. I attempted to lift up my bed, but had no luck. Normally, I wouldn't have been able to lift something as heavy as that. I was a little baffled at first, but then I gave it another try. I imagined that the bed weighed nothing, and that I had more than enough strength to lift it up. In doing so, I flawlessly lifted it up high over my head - with one hand, even. I grinned, pretty dang enthralled over seeing the dusty underside of my bed frame. This was going to make moving furniture a breeze from now on.

A day later, I sat down and practiced my ability to materialize things before me. At first, I couldn't think of what to summon forth. So, I shrugged and started going with the first things that came to mind. I held my hands out and closed my eyes to focus on my current object of desire. The heft of glossy paper weighed down in my hands. Once I opened my eyes, a cheeky grin immediately spread across my lips. I was now the proud owner of the current December issue of Playboy magazine.

What can I say? I just can't help myself.

Gena Lee Nolin nude? I had no idea who she was, but I was not above happily looking at her in her birthday suit. It was totally worth it, if for nothing more than the wide eyes and the big, enthused grin on my face. As I began to flip through the pages, it occurred to me that I didn't even necessarily need to know all the details of what it was I was trying to conjure up. So long as I had a general idea of what I wanted, it would appear before me in its entirety.

To be honest, I had no idea if what I was doing was considered stealing. I don't think there was any law against using superpowers to get something for free. However, I didn't feel like becoming a Playboy collector. So, I closed my eyes again and imagined the magazine gone. In an instant, it was.

I then summoned a handful of random objects: a pillow, a taco and a mint condition holographic trading card. I drooled at the sight of its perfection and glory. But then, I got an overwhelming sense of guilt. There was no sense in just making these things appear. Sure, I wasn't exactly 'stealing,' per se, but what fun is there in just being handed everything? As much as it pained me, I gave a heavy sigh and tossed the card away, causing it to vanish in mid-air. The pillow was next. The taco, however, I was more than willing to eat.

Hey, it was lunchtime and I was hungry.

Over the next few days, I conjured and dissipated random items until it also became like second nature to me. I figured if I have the ability to do it, I might as well be good at it. There was also my ability to seemingly sense danger, but, being the usual tame person I was, there wasn't much danger around to sense. Nothing to practice with in that regard.

Christmas came and Christmas went. Then there were the celebrations for New Year's Eve. I decided to stay out late on the beach to watch people light their fireworks and shoot them into the air. There was a slight mishap with someone's roman candle where it tipped over and caused one of the fireballs to eject straight at my face. That was when the danger-sensing came in handy. With instinctive reflexes, I bent backwards to avoid the oncoming glow of yellow fire. The two guys that had lit the candle shouted in terror and immediately buried it into the sand.

"Nice move, dude!" one of them called out to me before proceeding to cuss his friend out. I just buried my hands in my jeans pockets, shook my head and walked away from that awkward scene. I hated to think what could've happened if it was someone else other than me as the unintended target of that fireball.

I was quite ecstatic watching the big ball drop on TV. Just like that, we were in 2002 - a new year had begun. I could only imagine the possibilities that awaited me in the new year with my cool, new powers. The only new year's resolution I had was to keep on using my powers responsibly. Maybe, just maybe, I could use my powers for the 'greater good.' Maybe, just maybe, I could really become a superhero. But would I actually want all of that attention? Being the top story on the news, reporters flocking to my home, the questions they'd ask, government inquiries, the superhero-like collateral damage that could be caused. ... Yeah, probably not worth it.

I did have one, far more tame thing to be happy about. The 2nd of the month was Tamara's birthday. Of course, I had already been invited, and that felt really nice.

After getting some shut-eye for the night, I headed to the mall to get her a present. I wasn't too keen on what she was into, so I decided to use some of my saved-up money to buy her a really nice, pink blouse. I knew she liked wearing pink, and so I hoped that she'd favor my present. I had it gift-wrapped by the store - they even put a little bow on it. I wrote my name on a little tag that stuck to it and sighed proudly at the sight of it.

I then spent the day mentally preparing for the party. It was the first time in a long time I'd been a girl's birthday party. Even though we already knew each other, I still wanted to make a good 'first impression.' I must've spent about five minutes standing in front of the mirror, practicing what I would say to different things and how I'd look saying them.

And then, it dawned on me. I didn't need a script set up in my head -- I just needed to be myself. After all, it had gotten me pretty far as of late. It could also be a good chance to see just how well I do reacting off the cuff some more. I inhaled deeply and puffed my chest out. I just needed to have the confidence in myself, and I was certain everything would work out well.

The big day had arrived. I took a shower, put on some of my good clothes and looked myself over in the mirror. Then, I remembered that it was a pool party and slapped my forehead - I had to completely change my outfit. I went with a pair of shorts over my bathingsuit and a t-shirt I put on some sunscreen, slipped on my sandals, threw a towel over my shoulder and looked in the mirror once again. I sighed and shook my head in disbelief at how I had completely forgotten what set-up Tamara's party was. Clearly a good start so far.

I grabbed Tamara's present and headed outside to wait for the city bus. It was a nice day, just a few clouds around, and subtly cool out. I was sitting on the bus bench across from an old lady. I casually glanced over at her, realizing that she'd been staring at me. She gave me an uncomfortably interested smirk which parted back her wrinkly cheeks as she looked me over. I quickly faced forward again, staring off into the distance, whimpering nervously and hoping that bus would come quick.

My hopes came true as, just a couple moments later, the bus slowed to a stop before us. A handful of people got off from the back exit while the old lady slowly made her way up the steps. I had the sneaking suspicion that she was putting on a show for me by wiggling her broad hips as she stepped up. I covered my face in both hands, shaking my head and wishing that this was not happening to me.

Fortunately enough, the old woman took a seat far in the front of the bus, while I sat somewhere in the middle. I slouched far down, keeping some guy's head in-between the line of sight of myself and her. That was a reprieve I never thought I'd ever have to be thankful for.

The ride there wasn't a long one. Tamara didn't live too far away from me. The public bus was so much quieter and tame than the school bus. It actually made me appreciate the endless chatter a little bit more. If the school bus was like this every morning, I'd probably be asleep by the time I got to school.

I pressed the little yellow strip on the wall to call for a stop once I was nearing her home. I had to admit, I was a little bit nervous about making that 'first impression' I'd mentioned earlier. However, I sighed sharply and nodded. I just had to remember my confidence and have fun. Once the bus stopped, I made a mad dash for the back exit, avoiding all eye contact with that salacious old woman. Once I was firmly planted on the sidewalk, the bus began to roll away.

I was at the main road that led down to a small neighborhood of houses. I strolled down the sidewalk, reading each house's address in search of Tamara's. It was surprisingly quiet for a time when all the kids were still out on break. But then, I was certain I was getting close to her house when the silence gave way to music, laughing, loud chatter and yelling. I smiled a bit as I walked up to the front door. As I rang the bell, I could only hope her friends were open to newcomers.

The door quickly opened and I grinned as Tamara greeted me with a surprised gasp. I couldn't help but quickly notice that she was wearing a bright, pink two-piece. I knew she liked pink.

"You came!" she exclaimed as she happily hugged me.

"Well, yeah," I replied, hugging her back with one arm. "I'm not going to leave you hanging on your birthday."

"Come on in," she said, stepping to the side as I headed on in the house. "We've got chips, and dip, punch, and all sorts of stuff." She closed the door behind us, and I placed my present on the nearby table that had a handful of them stacked up already.

I turned around with a smile as she looked me over.

"You look like you're ready to hit the pool," she remarked with a grin.

"You did say it was a pool party," I playfully reminded her.

"And it is!" she happily exclaimed. She took me by the wrist and led me to the open sliding glass door. "Come on, I'll show you the pool."

I smiled at how vivaciously bubbly she was already. Along the way, I noticed a rather portly black guy sitting at the table of snacks and really going to town on them. He was wearing regular clothing like he had no interest in any sort of pool activities. I decided to take the initiative to try and be friendly toward Tamara's friends and try to fit in a little better.

"Hey," I greeted him as we passed by. He just glanced at me with disinterest before turning back to the snacks. Well, that could've gone better.

Tamara led me out to the open backyard with the in-ground pool nearly filled to capacity. We both came to a stop as she prepared to introduce me. I was happy that she had so many friends, but I just kind of stood there with a mildly nervous grin. I realized that literally every one of her friends were on the complete opposite end of the skin color spectrum from me. It was hard for me not to immediately feel like the odd one out.

"Hey, everyone," she spoke up, getting the attention of most of them. "This is my friend, Anthony. Anthony, my friends. I've known most of them since I was little."

I smiled and reverse-nodded and grinned to them. "'Sup," I casually said. I think one of the girls waved to me for a brief second before they all went back to what they were doing. That wasn't helping the outcast situation I was having.

"Don't worry," she said as she turned to me. "They're actually pretty cool. They'll see that you're cool, too, once you hang out with us for a little while."

I shrugged. "All right. Sounds simple enough."

"Would you like to chat for a bit? I bet they'd warm up a little bit if they see us talking."

"Absolutely," I eagerly replied. She quietly laughed and then led me over to a small table with a couple of chairs and a large umbrella in the middle. She took a seat, and I followed suit on the chair across from her. I glanced over at the other kids playing around in and around the pool before turning back to her.

"So, January 2nd, huh?" I asked her. "Must be nice not to have your birthday on the craziness of New Year's."

"Yeah," she replied with a smile as she, too, looked around at the others. "My parents always joke that I'm an 'almost-New Year's baby.' It starts getting eye-rolling after a while."

"Is that why they're not here?"

"They decided to be super-cool and thought I was responsible enough to handle my own party. And, of course, I totally am."

"It's nice, though," I remarked. "You have a lot of friends. That doesn't suprise me, though."

"Why's that?"

I then let my mind take a backseat as I replied, "Because you're beautiful."

She was stunned by the sudden compliment. "Anthony ...," she muttered in surprise.

"A beautiful person, I meant," I added, trying to make up for that stumble. I don't even know why I said that. Although I did mean it, I didn't mean for it to just slip out so suddenly. "Sorry, didn't mean to make things weird."

She smiled warmly. "It's fine. You're really sweet. That's the whole reason I wanted you here."

I nodded to her. "Glad to be here, then."

"And I'm so glad you are here," she replied with an unexpected sense of playfulness in her voice.

Just then, I got one of those tingly extrasensory senses and it immediately put me on high alert.

"Hey, white boy!" one of the boys in the pool exclaimed. "Catch!"

The foam football shot like a bullet trained on my face. I lifted a hand in an instant and caught the ball perfectly before it was going to nail me between the eyes. My reaction was so calm, like it didn't even faze me. Everyone watching was completely shocked at the inhuman speed of my reaction. I immediately realized I needed to play this one off as nothing more than a fluke.

"Oh, ow!" I exclaimed, letting the ball drop and roll away as I weakly shook my wrist. "Man, that nearly broke my wrist! You gotta give me more warning next time!"

The same boy scoffed as he grabbed the ball once it rolled near him. "Stupid ass white kid," he muttered.

I calmly turned my attention back to Tamara. "I think your friends don't exactly like me."

She sighed heavily. "I was a little afraid this would happen."

"Why's that?"

"Well...," she trailed off for a moment, awkwardly gazing at the ground. "They're my friends, sure. But ... they're more of friends of--"

"Tamara!" a shrill voice exclaimed from inside the house. Tamara's head was blocking my view so I couldn't see who it was. "Why the hell you didn't tell me the party start at eleven?!"

Oh, crap. I knew that voice from anywhere. The pitch had shifted a little bit, but it was unmistakable.

"Hey, Latisha," some of them greeted her as she playfully strutted past them. She was wearing the exact same, pink two-piece as Tamara was. I didn't know if that was intentional or just a really odd coincidence.

"Hey, girl!" Latisha squealed as she shared a one-armed hug with Tamara. "Happy birth--"

And that was when she spotted me.

"Oh, hell no," she remarked, placing a hand on her hip. "I thought you was joking about inviting this little midget."

"Latisha...," Tamara quietly chided her friend.

"Actually," I spoke up with a playful smirk, "I think I'm taller than you now."

Latisha didn't like me talking to her in the least. "Boy, shut the fuck up! Ain't nobody talkin' to you!"

And suddenly it occurred to me why everyone else, despite having never met me, was so hostile toward me from the get-go.

She was shorter than Tamara, but she certainly made up for that by having a mouth twice as big. In a way, she reminded me of Elizabeta. Unlike Elizabeta, though, I never found any redeeming qualities in Latisha. She was just ... unpleasant to be around. There was no sense of cheeky enjoyment with her like there was with Jennifer, no willingness to just ignore me like Lila used to - she was just venomous toward me. I had honestly hoped that, after middle school, I would never see her ever again. She'd gone to a different high school than Tamara and myself, which was heavenly since I didn't have to worry about her exasperating attitude lurking around every corner.

Latisha was already giving me the stink eye from speaking just one sentence to her. I figured it was best if I kept my distance.

"Well," I spoke as I got up from the chair, "I'm gonna go get a soda or something."

"Yeah, good," Latisha quickly said, just as quickly taking my seat. "Don't come back." I shrugged it off.

"I'll talk to you in a little bit," Tamara politely said to me. I nodded to her and headed off toward the kitchen.

There, I found the same guy still snacking away on chips to the point where they were almost gone. It was only when I walked past him to pluck a soda can out of the ice cooler on the floor did I realize he was quite heavy. I began to wonder if he actually came for the party or just for the snacks. I honestly thought he could've been the life of the party if he did a few cannonballs into the pool.

I cracked open the soda and poured its contents into a plastic cup before taking a sip. The two of us glanced at each other. I nodded to him, but he just looked away. Despite how much he was brushing me off, I was curious enough to engage a conversation with him.

"Let me ask you something," I said, getting right to the point. "You heard about me through Latisha, didn't you?"

"So?" he asked with a mouthful of food.

"You don't believe whatever she said about me, do you? I mean, we don't even know each other."

He frowned at me. "Why the fuck do you care?"

"That's a good point. I could just ignore it and move on. But I was at least hoping to get a fair shake with you and the others. I mean, it's Tamara's birthday party. Might as well have everyone get along for her sake, right?"

"I guess, whatever," he casually replied with a shrug.

"Cool," I said with a smile and a nod. I guess it wasn't too impossible to get these guys to at least be neutral toward me. "Hey, can I grab a handful of those chips?" He responded by subtly grabbing the bag and turning it away from me. "That's cool, too, I guess. I'm not really that hungry anyway."

I decided to take my leave. I knew better than to get between a man and his potato chips.

With my cup full of soda, I stood at the entrance of the sliding glass door. I narrowed my eyes as I watched Latisha get up from her seat and walk over to one of the boys sitting at the edge of the pool - the same one that threw the football at me. He casually spun the ball in his hand as she leaned down and whispered something to him. She then briefly pointed in my direction, causing the boy to look up at me for just a second before looking away. She then smiled as she walked away and took the steps down into the pool.

That wasn't suspicious.

At the risk of walking into some kind of trap, I headed back out onto the pool deck to take my seat across from Tamara again now that Latisha was away. She smiled in relief to see me again.

"Hey," she greeted me. "Glad you didn't decide to leave."

I shrugged as I placed my soda cup on the table. "It's your birthday party; not hers. Of course I'd stay. Even if I am pretty much in enemy territory."

"I'm really sorry about that," she said with concern in her voice. "I didn't think she'd still be this angry at you. I'll try to talk to some of my friends and see if I can get them to lighten up a little. I just want everyone to have fun."

"I tried telling that to your friend in the kitchen," I explained. "He seemed like he wasn't too interested in holding a grudge against someone he didn't even know."

"Tommy? Yeah, he's pretty tame. He'll probably spend the whole time in the kitchen until him and his brother leave."

"Hey, look, I'll do my part, too." My statement piqued her curiosity. "I'll go around and just introduce myself and see if any of these guys and I have stuff in common."

"That's a great idea!" she happily exclaimed. She then took a moment to look me deeply in my eyes. "You know, the whole time I've talked to you this school year, you've been mostly ... quiet. I really like the fact that you're opening up more and talking to people."

I chuckled. "Some people are just a lot easier to talk to," I replied with a grin.

She giggled softly. "Well then," she said, eagerly rubbing her hands together, "let's get to it."

Tamara and I got up and went in our separate directions. Both of us were determined to make this party work for her. I really didn't want her to be upset, especially on her birthday. I was more than willing to throw out as many olive branches as necessary. ... Even with Latisha, if it came to it.

My first target was the boy with the football. The couple of kids he was talking to in the water both swam away as Tamara started talking to others on the opposite side of the pool. It was a perfect opportunity for me to have a chat with him.

"Hey, man," I greeted him. "Nice throw earlier. You thinking about trying out for the football team?"

"Yeah," he casually replied, watching Tamara. "Coach says I gotta get my grades up, though. Can't all have straight-"A"s like smart little white boys." He then looked me over and humphed. "Too bad you're too small to try out for the team, though."

I couldn't help but smirk mischievously. "I'm the biggest slacker you've ever met, man. I'd just as soon sit around and do nothing than do homework."

He chuckled. "Sounds like you got a problem then."

"We all gotta make improvements," I remarked, glancing over at Tamara before looking back at him. "Hey, look. It's Tamara's birthday. I figure whatever Latisha has said about me to you doesn't really matter as long as Tamara's happy. What do you think?"

"I guess," he replied, almost begrudgingly.

I nodded confidently. "All right, then. I'm not such a bad guy when you get to know me."

"Yeah," he offhandedly spoke as if he wasn't even listening to me. I then noticed him looking in Latisha's general direction. Just as I glanced over at her, she had already turned away and began walking out of the pool to talk to Tamara some more.

"Hey," he said to me as he clapped the ball between his hands. "You wanna throw the ball around a bit?"

I was still a little bit suspicious that he actually wanted to play, but I couldn't just say 'no.' Not with Tamara's party hanging in the balance.

"Okay, sure," I replied.

"Hey, y'all!" he called out to the others in the pool. "I'mma play some catch with the white boy!"

I already didn't like where this was going. I had the sinking feeling that what I said to him did not get through at all. That was reaffirmed when I looked over at Latisha and saw her smirking knowingly at me.

He hopped into the pool and then faded back to just in front of the other kids.

"Ready?" he asked. I stood at the opposite end of the pool from him.

"Hit me," I replied, hoping he wouldn't take that invitation literally.

He threw the ball very hard, launching it well over the reach of my arms and into the wooded area behind the house. I stood there, stunned for a brief moment, before looking at him with an unimpressed gaze. That's when the group laughing ensued.

"Of course," he remarked, "the stupid-ass white boy can't catch."

That was such a blatantly obvious attempt to rile me up that I didn't even bother replying. Latisha was hysterical, covering her mouth as she walked away. Unfortunately, I wasn't quite done with football boy.

"Man, stop standing around!" he shouted at me. "Go fetch my fuckin' ball! That's all your little ass is good for anyway."

I replied with a forced grin and a sarcastically pleasant tone, "I'm going." I turned around, my expression immediately turning to annoyance as I began to walk away. This was for Tamara and so, I was willing to take the brunt of being the laughingstock for a little while.

"Wait," Tamara said, catching my attention. She quickly jogged up to me before looking back to the others. "I'll go with him."

The boy was really not pleased with that idea. "What the fuck you need to walk him into the forest for!?"

"Well ... I know the woods better than he does," Tamara replied, almost as if she was looking for an excuse. "Be right back!"

"Hurry the fuck up!" he commanded.

"Come on," she softly said to me with one of those irresistible smiles of hers. I grinned back and happily followed just behind her.

"Dude's probably retarded," I overheard one of them say.

"Don't listen to them," she said to me as we began to walk out of the backyard. "They're just trying to get on your nerves."

"I know," I said, following her lead through the trees. "Latisha's done a pretty bang-up job of turning everyone against me."

"I don't know what's gotten into all of them," she softly remarked in disbelief. "They're just ... so hostile now."

"It's okay," I reassured her with a hand on her shoulder. She quickly turned to me. "Like I said, it's not their birthday party I came for." She smiled happily. We then came across the neon-colored football resting atop a bunch of fallen leaves.

"Here's the ball," she said, bending over briefly to pick it up and then tossed it to me.

"At least I caught it this time," I joked. She giggled in amusement.

As I turned to head back to the party, Tamara suddenly stopped me.

"Wait," she quickly said, causing me to turn back around. She looked at me with a nervous gaze which had me curious. "I want to ... just thank you for being so great. You could've left at any time, but ... you decided to stay. For me."

"Of course," I replied with a calm smile. "I want you to be happy, Tamara."

"I want you to be happy, too, Anthony ..."

She surprised me as she then placed her hands on my shoulders and leaned in to introduce her lips to my own. I wasted not a moment before holding her in both arms. She responded happily and did the same. The two of us were instantly pulled into the magic of our kiss, deepening it into something more warm and passionate. She sighed quietly in content, our heads moving up and down as our lips danced around one another. She was so eager to keep going and to keep pressing forward. It wasn't long before the initially innocent kiss turned into a heavy make-out session.

I stroked the silky skin of her back, all the while keeping that damned football held tightly in my other hand. She began to softly moan with an eagerness and attraction for me like I'd never seen before. She brought a hand up to my face, stroking and caressing it with her fingertips - being careful not to let her fingernails scrape my skin.

We then pulled away for a moment to catch our breath. She grinned with a beaming elation, giggling happily as she stroked my face and moved down to my chest before wrapping both arms around the back of my neck again.

"That was great," she quietly said.

"Wow," I breathed. "That was great. It was also pretty ... unexpected. Where'd that come from?"

"I just wanted to thank you for being so amazing today," she sweetly explained. "Just like ... every other day."

She was so beautiful. That smile of hers had lit up my day more times than I could count. Sharing that moment of warmth and tenderness with her was an unforgettable moment. I wished I could hold her forev--

"Hey!!" the same boy exclaimed from the pool. "Did you find the damn ball yet?!"

What a buzzkill. Both of us sighed in defeat as we turned back to each other, both of us flashing a smile.

"Let's head on back now," she quietly said to me. She then raised her voice to respond to him. "Yeah! We found it!"

He replied, "Hurry the fuck up, then! Damn!"

I wasn't really finding his personality very cute anymore. I'd begun to question whether or not the people at the party actually were Tamara's friends. I mean, I don't think she was lying when she said they were, but their loyalties seemed to lie with Latisha. At the very least, they just weren't very dependable or forgiving with Tamara. Not even Tamara herself trying to get the others to lighten up on me had any effect on them. As we walked back onto the pool deck, I knew there was only one way I was going to get any peace at the party -- and that was to go straight to the source of conflict.

"Here," I said, surprising him as I hurled the ball at him. He quickly caught it. "You can play with your ball without me. I'm going into the house."

"Yeah, you do that," he uncaringly replied, watching me head inside.

I found Latisha hanging out with the chubby guy in the kitchen. Just as I appeared, she spotted me and sucked her teeth in dismay.

"I'll see you later, Tommy," she said. She then sized me up before walking past me.

"Oh no, you don't," I said as I suddenly grabbed her by the arm. Needless to say, she was very shocked.

"What the fuck you doing, white boy?! Get off me!"

"You and I need to talk -- now," I insisted as I pulled her further into the house. She growled and followed me, not quite finding the strength to pull away. Tommy sat there and casually watched us while scarfing down more food.

I'd never been rough with a girl like that before, but desperate times called for desperate measures. I led her into a hallway with no one around and let go of her arm.

"The fuck do you want?" she angrily spoke as she pulled her arm away and rubbed it.

"You and I need to call a truce," I sternly said.

"A truce? What are you, stupid or something? I don't like you, and I never will."

"You don't have to like me," I explained. "I don't like you at all either. But this is Tamara's party and right now she's really upset because of how everyone's acting."

"Then fucking leave!" she shouted. "That was the whole point - to get your skinny ass out of here."

"If I leave, it's going to ruin the party for her," I said. She scoffed and folded her arms across her chest, turning away from me. "You can scoff all you want. But Tamara really wants me here and she really wants me to be able to get along with the rest of her friends. I can do that and play nice for a little while longer, but you have to as well." She slowly looked over at me, realizing I was being fairly reasonable. "Do you care about Tamara or not?"

"Of course I do, stupid ass."

"Then do it for her," I said. She thought it over for a moment before sighing and waving a hand at me.

"Fine, whatever," she resentfully agreed. "I'll truce with you or whatever."

"Good. Now I need you to call off your goon squad out there and get them to back off."

"I can't do that," she casually said.

I was confused. "Why?"

"Because," she said before nervously shifting her eyes away. "... Most of the shit I said about you was really bad. Like -- really bad."

"How bad?"

"... I made up shit to make you look like the white devil." I sighed and let my head fall in defeat. "Look, I ain't apologizin' for shit, okay? Them boys out there will happily kick your ass, and I hope they do it. You've been a piece of shit to me forever."

I frowned as I looked up at her again. "People change, Latisha. I'm not the same kid I was in middle school."

"Oh yeah?" she asked with a ton of skepticism in her voice.

"Would that same kid pull you aside and talk to you ... reasonably like I am right now?"

She rolled her eyes and shrugged. "One example doesn't mean you're some all-new hot shit. What's your point?"

"The point is I care about Tamara. I want her to enjoy her birthday and be happy, if just for one day of the year. Put yourself in her shoes."

Her expression softened up. "... Yeah, I guess I can see it that way. But I wouldn't be friends with some crazy ass white boy like she is."

I took a deep breath and sighed heavily. "Look, for what it's worth ... I'm sorry about the stuff I did to you. I never got to actually ever say that to you, but yeah, I did do some really stupid and annoying stuff to you. I regret doing it and I did nothing but cause problems for everyone. I carry around a lot of guilt for that. I really am sorry and I do hope that maybe one day you can forgive me and have both of us let go of this grudge." She seemed genuinely surprised by my words. I knew it was a speech she would've never imagined she'd hear from me. "I'm gonna go back out there now."

"Yeah," she quietly replied, watching me as I walked away.

Just as I stepped outside, there was a ruckus going on. Football guy was rallying the troops behind him in an argument with Tamara. It didn't look like it was going to end well, either.

"Fuck that!" he exclaimed. "We want him out!"

"Please, Darrell!" Tamara pleaded. "Can't you just be cool for a little while longer?"

"Either lil' whitey leaves or we leave!"

I knew it was time to make my final stand.

"I'm right here!" I shouted as I approached the pool. "Why don't you talk to me instead?"

"Man, shut the fuck up, white boy!" Darrell responded. "Ain't nobody like you here anyway!"

"This is Tamara's party!" I shouted, getting heated. Tamara looked at me with worry in her eyes. "I don't even think you're her real friend if you're gonna act like this!"

"Who the fuck are you, white boy?!" he yelled as he started to march over to me, only to be held back by some of the others. "Huh?! Step to me, little boy! Step to me right now so I can flatten ya' ass!"

"Stop it!!" Tamara screamed in a way I never imagined I'd hear from her.

Everyone immediately fell to a hush as tempers began to die down. Darrell scoffed and shook his head before turning away. I sighed and quickly collected my things before heading for the front door. Tamara immediately followed me into the house in a panic.

"Anthony, wait!!" she exclaimed as she grabbed me by the arm. She had so much sorrow in her eyes, like she was on the verge of crying. I blamed myself for her sadness.

"I'm sorry," I softly said to her, trying to calm her down. "I should probably just go."

"No!" she insistently exclaimed. "Please don't go! I want you to stay. ... You're my special guest, remember?" I felt incredibly guilty for wanting to leave. All she wanted was for me to be there at her party and to have a good time. I couldn't even manage that. I just wished things had turned out better for her. She then took my towel from my hands and placed it on the table by the door. I stared at her in confusion before she gently took me by the hand and smiled warmly at me.

"Come with me," she sweetly said.

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