ONE OF THE BOYS
The way you look at me is kinda like a little sister…you high five your goodbyes, and it leaves me nothing but blisters…
“Oh, wow, Chris,” Lara said as they pulled up in front of the house. “This is really nice.”
“Far cry from where I used to live, huh?” Chris said, smiling. He opened the garage door and they pulled in.
“How many…are those motorcycles?” Lara looked at the second car and three motorcycles at the other side of the garage.
“Yep.” Chris popped the trunk and pulled out her suitcases. “Wanna go for a ride?”
“God, no,” Lara said, shuddering. “No, thank you. I hate those things.”
“Really?” Chris looked surprised. “I thought…”
“No, I liked the guy that WORKED in the motorcycle shop,” Lara reminded him. “I did like boys, you know.”
“Yeah, like the guy in the library. What was his name? Took you to the prom?” Chris pretended to stagger under the weight of her bags. She rolled her eyes and grabbed the smallest suitcase.
“Devon,” she said. “And I know you remember, because you always made fun of him.”
“He was kinda dorky.”
Lara stopped walking. “Chris, you ended up with goat horns growing out of your beard. THAT was dorky.”
“That was avant garde,” Chris said, and she laughed.
He led her into the house, through a large kitchen and dining room and up a long staircase. From what she could see, the house was large, but looked lived in. Lara saw Pittsburgh Steelers memorabilia everywhere, as well as awards, gold records and pictures of Chris’ family. “Your house is great, Chris. Thanks so much for letting me stay here.”
Chris snorted. “Like I could let you stay in a hotel. My mother would castrate me, skin me alive, THEN kill me.” He opened the door to a guest room. “I hope this is okay.”
“Of course it is,” Lara said, surprised that he would worry. “It’s beautiful.” She carefully put her suitcase on the bed. The room was large, with its own adjoining bathroom. The curtains and bedding were cream, and the walls were a peacock blue.
“I know you always liked blue,” Chris said, suddenly shy without knowing why.
Lara walked over to him and gave him a hug. “Chris…it is so damn good to see you. It’s just like…well…it’s like we’ve never been apart.” She shrugged. “I just feel…so comfortable with you.”
“That’s because we’re buds,” Chris said, giving her shoulder a light punch. “You can’t lose that.”
“Right,” Lara said with a sigh. “Would you mind if I got a shower?”
“No, go ahead. I have some calls and things to make,” Chris said, vaguely waving a hand over his shoulder. “And I’ll look for something to whip up for dinner.”
“You cook?” Lara almost dropped her backpack. “Chris…you failed seventh grade cooking class. You couldn’t even boil pasta right.”
“I asked if we should put the cheese in the water with the macaroni and they said yes!” Chris almost missed. “It wasn’t my fault.” Lara laughed out loud. “Hey, I’m a bachelor, remember? I can’t order in ALL the time.”
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Lara retorted. Chris rolled his eyes and left the room.
Lara bounced down the stairs twenty minutes later. “Chris?”
“In here,” his voice called. She found her way through a living room down a few steps to a large game room. He looked up from his laptop. “Hey.” He smiled at her Penn State tank top and denim capris. “Now THAT’S a little more California.”
“Hardly,” she said, flopping down on the sofa next to him. “I don’t think I could ever be California. It costs too much.”
“I understand,” Chris said. “I mean, I have all this money, and I’m still so damned afraid to spend it.”
She put a hand on his knee and rubbed it a bit, smiling sympathetically. “I will help you, Chris. I would be more than happy to do that for you.”
“Jerk.” Chris shoved her a bit. “Hey, I got us tickets for the Dodgers game on Sunday.”
“They’re playing the Phillies.”
“Even BETTER,” Lara said, grinning. “Thanks.”
“Of course. It’s just the beginning of you helping to spend all my money.” Chris stood and stretched. “I never made it to figuring out dinner.” He started back towards the kitchen.
“Chris,” Lara said, walking after him. “I was just kidding. That’s not…it’s not…that’s not why I called you.”
Chris stopped walking and whirled around. “Lara, I was joking, too. I don’t think that about you.”
“I’m sure you’re used to tons of people coming out of the woodwork, saying they’re your friend, trying to get a piece of you,” she began.
“Shush.” Chris put his hand over her mouth. “At the beginning, yes, that happened a lot. But you never did that. You emailed me, or called, and were just my friend. You never asked for anything until now.” He kissed her forehead and she flushed slightly. “Anything you want, it’s yours.”
“Lance Bass,” she said immediately, and he groaned.
“Woman, get it through your head. The parts you got, he don’t want.”
“How do you know WHAT parts I got?” Lara said, wincing at the bad grammar.
“Well, I remember from the prom that you have a chest, and I’m assuming you have all the girly parts that go with it.”
“Girly parts?” Lara said, laughing.
“Yeah. You know…”
“I get it.” She sighed. “I’ll just have to think of something else , then.” She led the way to the kitchen, hopping up on the island in the middle as Chris poked his head in the fridge. “I could rock his world, though, I’m just sayin’.”
Chris stood up too quickly, smacking his head on the fridge. “Dammit.” He turned to glare at her. “Lara, I do NOT need to think about your world rocking talents.”
“Because…you’re like my sister, for God’s sake.”
“So you’ve never wondered?” She tilted her head to the side innocently.
“God, no,” he lied. That night at the prom, when she was whirling in his arms on the dance floor, a strange rumbling had started in his groin and lasted for about an hour.
“Okay. Take my word for it,” she said simply. “Champion World Rocker, right here.”
“No, that’s ME.” Chris went to the cupboard and started pulling out boxes. “Spaghetti okay?”
“Fine,” Lara said, swinging her legs.
The next morning, Lara stretched and yawned, glancing at the clock. “Six-thirty?” She groaned out loud. “Fucking time difference.” She buried her head under the pillow for another twenty minutes. They had stayed up until one in the morning out on Chris’ deck, talking and laughing so hard she was glad his neighbors didn’t live any closer.
Lara finally pulled herself out from under the pillow and got herself up. She pulled a baggy sweatshirt over her tank top and padded downstairs in bare feet. Chris, of course, was nowhere to be seen. “Too damn early,” she muttered. She poked around in Chris’ kitchen until she found the coffeemaker, coffee grounds and filters. She sighed in satisfaction as the delicious aroma of fresh coffee wafted through the air. As the coffee dripped, she quietly hurried back upstairs to grab a pair of socks and her laptop. She filled a large mug with coffee, then went out onto Chris’ deck. “I could so get used to this,” she sighed, getting comfortable at the large table. She plugged her earphones into the computer and opened her iTunes account.
Chris sniffed the air. “Coffee?” He rubbed his eyes. “I’ve died and gone to heaven. Coffee makes ITSELF here!” He stretched and suddenly remembered. “Lara’s here. She’s so awesome…she made the coffee.” He slowly sat up, rubbing at the back of his head.
He pulled on a pair of shorts and went downstairs. The kitchen was empty, but the coffeepot was still half full. He poured himself a cup, stirred in some cream, and peeked out the window onto his deck. Lara sat at the computer, fingers flying over the keyboard as she sang softly to herself.
Chris slowly slid the door open. “You ain’t gotta do it yourself baby, I’m gonna give it up full service you’ll see, you ain’t gotta be nervous nervous, I’m a-gonna give you full service service,” she sang.
“WHAT is THAT?” Chris yelled.
Lara jumped, her earphones falling around her neck. “Jesus, Chris, scare me to death!”
“What kind of porn are you listening to?” Chris asked, laughing as she blushed.
“For your information, it’s New Kids on the Block with New Edition,” Lara said, raising an eyebrow. “HARDLY porn.”
“I doubt it.” Chris sat down next to her. “How long have you been up?”
“A few hours, maybe,” Lara said. She closed the laptop. “Got a lot done.”
“Good.” Chris sipped at his coffee. “Thanks for making this.”
“I didn’t make it for you, dude. That was all for me. You’re lucky I saved you any.”
“Bitch,” Chris snapped. She dimpled and gave him the finger. “I see you haven’t grown into a lady.”
“Like you’re such a gentleman,” she retorted. “At least JC offered to carry my bags.”
“I would have,” Chris insisted. “He just got to you first.”
“He’s nicer than I expected,” Lara said, dropping her chin into a palm. “And that smile? Those eyes? That ass?”
“JC doesn’t HAVE an ass,” Chris pointed out. “Trust me.” Lara laughed out loud. “Not that I know…I mean, years of dressing rooms…shut up.”
She leaned over and pinched his cheek. “What are our plans for today?”
“I hadn’t thought of much. It just depends when you have your meetings and things.”
“Not until Monday,” she said. “I’m all yours.”
“Then why don’t we just chill today, maybe go out for dinner tonight?”
“Sounds great,” she said, standing up. She was a comical sight in her oversized sweatshirt and plaid Tigger pajama shorts. “I should shower.”
“No, just stay like that all day.”
“I wish,” she said, smiling. “I refuse to hang out all day in my pajamas. I’m your guest.”
“If you want to stay in your pjs, go ahead. You’re so cute.” Chris reached over to ruffle her hair.
“I am not.” She ducked her head. “I’ll be down in a little while.”
They spent the morning lounging around on the deck, reading the newspaper, watching the small TV Chris kept out there, and occasionally arguing. Chris found that some things definitely had NOT changed. She wouldn’t take his shit, and was still as stubborn as hell.
“Yet again, you have no clue what you’re talking about, Christopher,” Lara said, folding the newspaper shut. “You have the brains of a turnip.”
“Keep it up, girl, and you’re gonna regret it,” Chris growled. “The pool’s only a short drop away.” He moved towards her menacingly.
“You couldn’t pick me up,” she said. “I’m not afraid of you.”
He swiftly stood and walked over to her. Before she could protest, he had her in his arms, swinging her up easily. “You were saying?”
“Chris, no. NO. That’s…NO!” She shrieked, laughing. “Put me down, you idiot!”
“Say you’re afraid of me. Say it…” Chris taunted. “I can lift you over the railing.”
“Okay, okay! You’re scary. Scary as hell.”
“I thought so.” Chris put her down. “Hey! Wait a minute!”
Lara laughed as she went in the house. “I think I WILL swim. Gonna get my suit.”
“Dumbass,” Chris muttered, sitting back down and opening the sports section. He tossed it down with a sigh and got back up. She needed a good dunking in the pool. He pulled a couple of towels out of the box on the deck and went up to change.
Lara got downstairs first. She slathered on some sunscreen, and picked her way down the steps to the pool. She did a neat dive into the crystal water, gasping at the slight chill. “I could so get used to this,” she said again, rolling onto her back and floating.
A thundering splash sent her spluttering under the water. “Oh, yeah, I forgot. CANNONBALL!” Chris yelled as he surfaced.
“Kirkpatrick, you brat,” she growled, swimming after him.
“C’mon…get me…” he taunted.
“You’re sure he won’t mind me tagging along?” Lance said to JC.
“For the sixth time, Lance, NO,” JC said, annoyed. “He invited me for lunch, and I’m sure as hell he won’t care if you come. We haven’t hung out in months.”
“But his friend is here,” Lance said. JC stopped the car in the middle of Chris’ street. “JC!”
“It’s CHRIS, Lance. He doesn’t know what manners are.” JC started driving again. “Besides, as he likes to point out, it’s just his friend, his buddy, one of the guys.”
“You think different?”
“I think he thinks that way, but I think he’s gonna change his mind,” JC said with a grin. “She’s nice. And cute. And puts him in his place.”
“Just what Chris needs!” Lance said.
JC pulled into Chris’ driveway and they got out. They heard Chris yell, then a very feminine shriek. “Let’s just go around back,” JC said, and Lance nodded.
They headed down Chris’ long yard to the gate at the back. “Kirkpatrick, you are a fucking prick,” they heard a woman say. “I’m gonna be pissing pool water for days.”
“You deserved it,” Chris said. “You tried to yank my shorts down! What were you looking for?”
“Nothing YOU have to offer,” she said with a snort.
“Told you,” JC said with a grin. “Yo, Chris!” He yelled. “Let us in!”
“Hey, Jayce.” They heard Chris’ feet pounding on the sidewalk, then the latch opened. “Hey! Look what the cat dragged in.”
“DON’T hug me,” Lance warned, holding out a hand. Chris shook it instead of hugging Lance. “Thank you.”
JC slipped around them. “Hey, Lara.”
“JC, hi!” Lara pulled herself out of the poll and went to grab a towel.
“Looks like you’re…uh…having fun,” JC said stupidly, his eyes running over her sleek blue one-piece bathing suit. It hugged where a suit should hug, yet left some things to the imagination. “Chris invited me for lunch.”
“Great! I think we’re ordering in,” Lara said, toweling her hair. “He…” Lara stopped toweling and stared. “Is that…uh…”
“I invited Lance. I figured you wouldn’t care.” JC looked at her oddly. “You don’t care, do you?”
“It’s uh, it’s not my house,” she said with a shrug, looking down at herself in dismay. Her hair was a wet tangled mess, and she was wearing one of her oldest bathing suits. “Fuck,” she murmured to herself.
“Here she is.” Chris walked over to her with Lance in tow. “Lance, this is one of my oldest friends, Lara. Lara, this is…”
“I know,” Lara said through clenched teeth. “Nice to meet you, Lance,” she managed, pasting on a smile.
“Nice to meet a friend of Chris’ who’s normal,” Lance said, shaking her hand. He felt her shiver. “Are you cold? Do you want to…”
“Yeah, I should, uh, go change.” She nodded. “Be right back.” Lara took off for the house, mentally pawing through her wardrobe.
Chris waited until she was out of earshot to burst into laughter. “I couldn’t have planned that better myself.”
“What are you talking about?” JC asked.
“Dude, she has the HUGEST crush on Lance here. Always has.”
“Um, she does know…” Lance trailed off.
“Absolutely. Completely is cool with it. I think she even said once that she thinks it makes you hotter.” Chris shook his head. “Don’t get it. Anyway, even though she’s totally a grown-up about it all, she still makes all these comments about you, and the look on her face when you came strolling in here was PRICELESS.”
“God, Chris,” Lance said, a blush creeping over his face. “YOU need to grow up.”
“Aw, Lancey, you’re blushing,” Chris said.
“You have nothing to worry about, Lance,” JC said. “She really does seem cool.”
Chris led them towards the house. “And just so you know, Lance? She said that if you’re ever looking to experiment with your hetero side, she’s ready and willing.”
“Chris!” Lance moaned, blushing deeper.