Joel and Carrie Ch. 01byJoeDreamer©
"Carrie, this is a mistake," I said, kicking myself the whole time. Most guys would take advantage of the situation, but not me. I was being a nice guy again. I hated it when I did that! "You're mad at Jimmy. I can understand that. But do you really want to do this?"
Carrie was the hottest girl in school. Her boyfriend Jimmy was the coolest guy. They weren't just part of the in crowd, they led it. She was also mad enough to spit fire. Jimmy had gone and cheated on her, again. What a jerk!
"You're right, I am mad at Jimmy," she replied. "But not half as much as I'm furious with myself. I swore I wouldn't take him back this last time and I did it anyway. My friends warned me. I knew he was a liar, but I let him convince me that he'd changed when I knew deep down that it wasn't so."
"I can understand all that," I said calmly. "But how did that lead to this? Why am I here?"
"Well, because you delivered the pizza," she grinned. It was the truth. I had a part time job at a pizzeria to save up for college next year. It wasn't a lot of money, but every little bit helped.
"That's not what I mean and you know it!" I snapped in annoyance.
"You're talking about the kiss?" she asked with mischief in her eyes.
"Yes! Of course I'm talking about the kiss! Do you always kiss the pizza delivery guy?"
"Think of it as your tip," she joked.
"I will," I said, suddenly unable to stop from laughing. "And it was certainly the best tip I ever received, but..."
"Why, thank you," she interjected with a smile.
"...You're welcome," I said, and then shook my head, trying to remember what I was about to say before she interrupted. Carrie's smile had that affect on guys and she knew it. She was playing with me and I would have been annoyed if I wasn't enjoying it almost as much as her.
"Look, you're the most beautiful girl in school. Every guy would love to have you looking at them the way you're looking at me..."
"And yet you keep trying to slip out the door," she grinned as she leaned against the door to stop my escape.
"Only because it's not real," I sighed. "You're only doing this for two reason. First, your mad at Jimmy and second, you're drunk."
"So?" she shrugged as she took another drink from her wine glass. "My parents aren't expected back for a couple of hours. Loosen up a little!"
"I'm not going to take advantage of a drunk just because she's my fantasy girl," I said, half explaining and half convincing myself.
"Your fantasy girl, am I?" she grinned.
"Carrie, you're every guys fantasy girl," I said with a shake of my head. "And if I thought for a minute that you really liked me, I take advantage of the situation whether you were drunk or not, but you don't."
"How do you know?"
"Carrie, what's my name?" I sighed.
"It's Joe," she replied. I shook my head. She frowned and said, "Jack?"
"I think I've made my point," I grinned, although it did hurt a little that she couldn't remember my name. Our senior class was large at over five hundred, but still, we spent fours years together.
"You know, you're way too serious," Carrie said as she leaned in and kissed me again. Her long blond hair smelled freshly washed. There was nothing I wanted more than to take her in my arms and kiss her back, but it would be wrong.
"Look, I'll see you in school tomorrow," I said pushing her gently away from the door.
"You're really going to leave?" she asked, sounding surprised.
"I have to," I replied. "Or I'll do something we'll both probably regret in the morning."
"I'll just call someone else as soon as you're gone," she said in annoyance. "I want to get back at Jimmy!"
"Please don't. That's just the alcohol talking," I said, pausing briefly before adding, "Actually, promise me you won't."
"Why should I?"
"Because if you end up being with someone else tonight, I may have to kill myself," I said, half serious. "I'm already planning on going home, taking a cold shower and yelling at my father for teaching me right from wrong. Finding out someone else took my place would be...well, you understand." She looked at me oddly.
"I promise," she finally said. "You know, I wish I could remember your name."
"Me too," I said, smiling sadly. "Goodbye."
'You stupid bastard!' I thought angrily.
"Is something wrong, Mr. Harmon?"
"No," I answered quickly. Ms. Kafka was not one of my favorite teachers. She was boring and had the ability to tell when someone's mind was wandering. It was a lethal combination!
Not that it mattered today. I spent half the morning cursing my stupidity. How could I possibly pass up a chance with Carrie? The worse part was that I couldn't talk to anyone about it. It wasn't that I was noble or anything. I'd tell my friends in a heartbeat if I weren't so afraid of their reaction. The guys would make fun of me and the girls would tell me how nice I was. I couldn't decide which was worse. The bell rang and I sighed loudly. It was finally lunchtime.
"Let's hope you're a little more focused tomorrow, Mr. Harmon," Ms. Kafka said pointedly.
"Sorry Ms. Kafka," I said, trying hard not to blush as I rushed out of the room. I knew I had to stop dwelling on what happened, but it didn't help that Carrie shared the same lunch period. Instead of waiting for my friends by our lockers as usual I went into the cafeteria and bought my lunch quickly. I decided to eat quickly and escape outside as soon as possible.
Robbie and Tina, my best friends since grade school, found me and asked what was bothering me. I ignored them. They shrugged at each other as I raced through my food. I needn't have bothered. Carrie came by before I was half done and sat across from me. Robbie and Tina looked stunned. The table with the in crowd was on the other side of the room.
"Can we help you?" Tina asked with a frown.
"No," Carrie replied. "I just wanted to try a change today. You don't mind if I sit with you guys?"
"No!" Robbie cried, almost stuttering.
"Put your tongue back in your mouth," Tina said to him, still frowning. She then turned back to Carrie and asked, "So, what's the joke?"
"No joke," Carrie sighed. "I'm just looking for a change of scenery today."
"Carrie, if you hang out with us," I said carefully. "You're likely to lose your spot with the in crowd."
"Joel," she said with a confident smile. "If I hang out with you, you will be the in crowd."
"I see you know my name now."
"I was close!" she said, sounding annoyed.
"Tina, I think we're missing something?" Robbie said.
"You think?" Tina asked sarcastically.
"You mean you didn't tell them?" Carrie asked in surprise.
"What's to tell?" I said carefully.
"What are you two talking about?" Tina asked.
"Last night, Joel delivered pizza to my house. I was drunk and angry with Jimmy," Carrie explained.
"And?" Robbie asked, looking at me.
"We talked," I shrugged.
"We did more than talk," Carrie snorted. "But not as much as I would have. I was really drunk."
"You mean you..." Robbie began. I cut him off.
"Let it alone. She was drunk and nothing happened."
"Aw! That's so sweet!" Tina cried.
"Thanks," I said sarcastically to Carrie. She laughed.
"We did kiss," Carrie put in helpfully.
"Wow!" Robbie said in awe.
"It's time to go," Tina said to him as she stood and picked up her tray. She was smiling for the first time.
"They obviously want to be alone," she said, cutting short Robbie's protest. He stood and they both moved to another table. It was then that I noticed all the odd looks we were getting from just about everyone in the cafeteria.
"Carrie, why did you sit here?" I asked.
"Well, I really do feel like a change," she said, but I wasn't buying it. She looked at my expression and laughed again.
"Tell me the truth."
"Maybe later," she shrugged. "But first, tell me something. Do you regret leaving last night?"
"Are you kidding?" I said, shaking my head. "I've been beating myself up over it ever since!" Carrie smiled.
"Would you do it again?" I looked at her and couldn't tell what answer she was expecting or even wanted. I was tempted to tell her that I would stay if I had it all over to do again. Yet, deep down I knew it wasn't the truth. I might beat myself up for my choice, but it was the right thing to do.
"Yes," I finally answered. She looked at me in silence.
"You know, I believe you would," she said, sounding amazed.
"Hey Carrie, what are you doing sitting over here?"
I looked up at the voice and saw Jimmy standing there. I buried my face in my tray and tried to stay out of it.
"I'm talking to a friend," Carrie said in an icy tone.
"Come on," Jimmy frowned. "Let's go back to our table."
"It's your table now," she replied. "I'm not sitting there anymore."
"Because you are," Carrie answered succinctly.
"What's this all about?"
"Who's she?" Jimmy asked. I shook my head. You had to give the guy credit. He really looked like he had no idea who she was. The fact that half the cheerleaders saw him with her at a party Friday night didn't seem to matter to him at all.
"Goodbye, Jimmy," Carrie said pointedly.
"Don't be that way. Come on, let's talk about it?" he asked, but Carrie refused to even look at him, much less talk to him anymore.
"Do you have anything to do with this?" Jimmy asked, giving me a nasty look. I raised my hands and gave my best innocent look. He stared at me a moment longer before turning and stomping away.
"Are you okay?" I asked Carrie softly. She nodded. There were tears in her eyes, but she refused to let them drop. We ate in silence for a couple of minutes.
"Hey Carrie!" Jill Jackson said as she sat down next to Carrie. She was the captain of the cheerleader squad. Jill was an athletic black girl who could do some pretty wicked back flips. Obviously, she was part of the in crowd. "Can you believe Jimmy?"
"I'm glad you dumped him again," Tara Dalton said as she sat on Carrie's other side. "He is such a jerk!" Tara was a talented actress and a dance rat. She had the lead in this year's school musical. It was a big hit. I had dreams about her for weeks afterward.
"Hi," Tara said to me with a warm smile.
"Hello," Jill added, smiling as well.
"Jill, Tara, this is my friend Joel," Carrie said, introducing me.
"Ladies, it's a pleasure to meet you," I grinned. "You do realize that this has to be one of the most surreal moments in my life?"
"Why?" Tara asked.
"You're kidding, right?" I asked. Carrie was smiling at me. She knew what I meant, but the others seemed clueless.
"Tara and Jill are not typical for the in crowd. They think of themselves as normal everyday people. It's one of the reasons why I like them so much."
"We are normal everyday people," Jill said with a shrug.
"Hell!" Tara grinned. "I wasn't even part of the in crowd before we became friends." I was about to argue both of their points when we were visited by another one of Carrie's friends.
"Hey ladies!" Samantha Garret said as she walked up. Carrie nodded, but didn't look thrilled as Samantha sat with us. Samantha was one of the 'Rich People'. She threw one ritzy party each semester at her house. It was for invitees only. I'd never been there, but to be fair very few had. "Carrie, is it true? Have you and Jimmy broke up again?"
"Yep," Carrie said. "He's all yours."
"I don't want him!" Samantha said too quickly. Carrie didn't introduce us and Samantha didn't seem to notice my presence even though she was sitting right next to me.
"Carrie, can we talk?" Bette Jacobs said as she walked up and sat on my other side. She also ignored me. The table was getting crowded.
"Jimmy is awfully sorry about Jennifer," Bette said. "Can't you find it in your heart to forgive him?"
"Again?" I asked in disbelief.
"Mind your own business!" Bette snapped at me. My eyebrows rose in surprise. "And just what are you doing sitting with us anyway?"
"I was a bit curious about that myself," Samantha added.
"I was here first," I said, hearing myself and suddenly finding it hard not to laugh.
"Well, get lost!" Bette snapped. I looked at her and shook my head.
"She's serious, isn't she?"
"Of course I am," Bette answered. "Go sit with your friends."
"Bette, stop being such a bitch!" Jill sighed.
"Amen to that!" Tara put in.
"Joel is a friend of mine," Carrie finally said. "I sat here to talk to him. If you don't like it, you're welcome to leave."
"Is he the reason why you decided to break up with Jimmy?" Bette asked.
"I decided to break up with Jimmy because he's a cheating, no good, son of a bitch!" Carrie snapped, and then took a deep breath to calm down. "Joel is just a guy who treated me nice."
"So he is the reason!" Bette cried.
"Wow!" I said, suddenly standing. "You guys can have the table."
"Gives you a whole new prospective of the in crowd, doesn't it?" Carrie asked, understanding my desire to leave. I just nodded. She grinned and added, "I'll see you at lunch tomorrow."
"Don't take it personal," I sighed. "But do me a favor, lose your friends or go sit somewhere else."
"What a jerk!" Samantha snapped.
"I'm going to enjoy watching what Jimmy does to you," Bette added.
"Bette, Jimmy's not going to do anything to Joel! He had nothing to do with the breakup," Carrie said. I watched Bette's eyes and shook my head. I'd have to watch out for Jimmy.
"Tara, Jill, it was nice to meet you both," I said with a smile. "You too are welcome at my table anytime."
"We were wondering," Jill grinned. I rolled my eyes and she laughed.
"We'll be seeing you around," Tara added.
"I can't believe you got into a fight!" my father snapped as he walked into the office. Boy was he steaming!
"Mr. Harmon, it wasn't your son's fault," vice principal Tagli said. "All the witnesses agree. The other boys jumped Joel during recess."
"If it wasn't his fault then why was I called out of work?" my father asked, and then the rest of the vice principal's words sunk in. "Boys? As in plural? How many boys?"
"There were three of them," vice principal Tagli, shaking his.
"You didn't do any serious damage to them?" my father asked me.
"No," I said, shaking my head. "Jimmy probably lost two teeth, but that's the worst of it."
"Where did your son learn to fight?" the vice principal asked, honestly curious.
"His grandfather," my father replied.
"He used to box when he was my age," I put in helpfully. It wasn't the complete truth. My father also taught me some, but he didn't like to talk about it. He never liked to remember his years in the army. That didn't stop him from teaching me to defend myself. The men in our family learned how to protect themselves early.
"And just what was this fight about?" my father asked, refocusing the conversion.
'Oh boy! Here it comes!' I thought, readying for the storm.
"Well, it seems that one of the boys thought that your son had something to do with his girlfriend breaking up with him," the vice principal explained.
"But I didn't!" I added quickly. It was no use.
"A girl! You got in a fight over a girl!"
Maybe I should explain. My father was madly in love with my mother. She left him when I was just a baby. He pretty much hates all women now. Not a unique story really, but rare or not, I was in for it.
"Mr. Harmon, I've spoken to the girl in question and she agrees that your son had nothing to do with the break up. It seems the other boy was cheating on her," vice principal Tagli said quickly when he saw my father's reaction. It did seem to calm my father slightly.
"So, if my boy didn't start it and he didn't do anything wrong, why again am I here?"
"School policy," the vice principal shrugged. "Anyone involved in a fight is automatically suspended for three days minimally."
"That's a stupid rule!" my father snapped. I received the distinct impression that Mr. Tagli agreed, but he couldn't say that.
"I'm sorry, those are the rules."
"Fine," my father said. "Let's go."
The ride home and the rest of the night were not particularly fun. My father was stressed about work and his having to leave early to come get me only made it worse. I tried apologizing, but it was pointless.
Pop was gone by the time I woke up the next morning. I was relieved. He left a list of chores for me to do, but none of them were all that difficult. I finished them before he got home. That night was a little better. My father was already asleep when the phone rang. I frowned. No one normally called this late.
"Hello?" I said.
"Come outside," Carrie's voice said over the line. I opened the front door to find her, Tara and Jill sitting on my porch. Carrie smiled and closed her cell phone.
"What brings you ladies here on this rather unpleasant night?" I asked.
"I wanted to apologize," Carrie answered. "Sitting with you at lunch probably wasn't the smartest thing to do while I broke up with Jimmy."
"No need," I shrugged. "You tried to tell him that I had nothing to do with it."
"At least you beat the tar out of Jimmy and his goons," Jill grinned.
"Beat the tar out of?" I asked. She laughed.
"It's one of my grandmother's sayings."
"Along with quite a few other gems," Tara grinned. She was around the same height as Carrie, but she was thinner and her hair was almost black. Her eyes were actually a paler shade of blue as well. They were the type that drew you to them.
"It's cold out here!" Carrie said, rubbing her arms.
"Look, I'd invite you in, but my father is already asleep and he's not really in a good mood these days," I said.
"What are you doing tomorrow?" Carrie asked.
"I'm still suspended," I shrugged. "I'm not doing anything. Why?"
"Well, the three of us are thinking about playing hooky," she grinned. "You want to hang out?"
"Depends," I replied. "I'm not much of a shopper."
"Me neither," Jill laughed. "My mother picks all my clothes."
"We're taking a room at a local hotel for the day," Tara said. "My uncle owns the place. We do it every once in a while."
"It's a blast!" Carrie grinned. "We bring wine and some movies. The rooms have DVD players in them."
"And your uncle won't mind me being along?" I asked in disbelief.
"Oh, he'd be mad as hell," Tara giggled. "That's why we have to sneak you in."
"Thanks, but no thanks," I said. "My father's already mad at me. If I get caught there is no telling what he'd do."
"Did I mention that there is a hot tub?" she grinned.
"We always bring our skimpiest bathing suites," Jill added. I shook my head.
"So, will you come?" Carrie asked again.
"Of course I'll come," I said. "Do you mind if I bring a camera?"
"What for?" she asked, rather lewdly.
"Well, I was going to say because my friends will never believe me without pictures, but if you ladies have any other ideas..." They laughed as they stood to go.
"Forget the camera," Carrie answered. "We use these cut days to relax and unwind."
"But don't forget to bring your bathing suite," Jill added. "Unless of course you'd rather share the hot tub nude?"
"I don't think I'd survive seeing all three of you nude," I joked. "In a bathing suite is going to be hard enough."
"We can only hope!" Tara grinned.
"We'll pick you up at around nine," Carrie said before I could say anything else. They waved goodbye and turned to leave. I watched three of the best asses in school sashay their way back to the car. Carrie turned and caught me staring. She smiled and waved once more.
"Oh brother," I said to no one in particular. The next day promised to be interesting indeed.
"Any problems sneaking up?" Carrie asked as I entered the suite. I shook my head.
"Wow, this is some hotel room!" I said as I looked around.