Dom and Kate

#ASMSG Nov #BYNR Free Read: The V-Day Aversion, Chapter Three


For a limited time I am going to post The V-Day Aversion (Dom & Kate #2), chapter by chapter every Saturday. If you haven’t read Bird Day Battalion (Dom & Kate #1), grab a free copy in any digital format at these retailers:
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The V-Day Aversion

by Genevieve Dewey

valentinescover

Copyright 2013 by Genevieve Dewey. All Rights Reserved.
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

(CHAPTER ONE)

(CHAPTER TWO)

CHAPTER THREE

Katelyn put the brochure back on the rack by the front door of her sister Kellie’s office and tried to stifle another irritated sigh.

“Sorry, Katie,” Kellie said breathlessly as she entered the office. “I just got a new assistant last week and it’s crazy this time of year, everyone wanting to go on romantic cruises. You know how it is.”

No, actually, I don’t, Katelyn thought.

She would rather poke her own eye out with a dull spoon than be stuck on a large boat with thousands of strangers, and no escape route, or way home, or…

“I’ve got you penciled in for fifteen minutes but I’m sorry, that’s all I can spare today. So if you could just briefly outline what this is about?” Kellie tempered her bossy tone with a quick smile and a pat on Katelyn’s back.

“I was thinking we could pool our resources and send Kandace and Steve on a trip together. You’d know the best package being a travel salesman.”

Kellie looked taken aback. She walked around her desk and sat down before answering.

“It’s salesperson, Katelyn, and I’m actually an event planner, not a—”

“I know. Point is—”

“And I own Anderson Adventures – a highly successful travel and event organizing business, I might add – which technically makes my title CEO and—”

“Kellie, can we just, please, focus here?”

Kellie raised her eyebrows and clasped her hands in front of her on the desk. She had on her Bitch-in-Heels face, but Katelyn could recognize a little twinkle in her eyes. She took that as license to continue.

Katelyn sat in the little chair in front of Kellie’s desk and mirrored Kellie’s body-language.

“I think if they could just get away from the kids and the routine of their everyday lives they might, you know, be able to recapture what they had and reconcile.”

“And I think it’s best if we both just butt out and mind our own business. Kandy is a big girl and she can make her own decisions. If she wants a divorce then—”

“But she doesn’t! I know she doesn’t! It was all his idea.”

Kellie raised her eyebrows so high they almost disappeared under her platinum bangs.

“It was his idea she should cheat?”

“That was just… she over-reacted because instead of reassuring her he wasn’t cheating, he suggested counseling, and a trial separation—”

“And instead of doing that, she just files for divorce because he stayed at his parents for an extra week.”

“Over Thanksgiving! Who does that?”

“Someone who’s trying to give his wife space to think about what separation means.”

“The point is, she only did it after she filed for divorce and because she thought he already had someone on the side, and he did nothing to reassure her. What’s once compared to many times?”

Kellie scoffed and sat back in her chair.

“Mature adults don’t cheat just because they think, maybe, possibly, the other person did first,” she said, looking at Katelyn like she’d lost her mind.

“She just got insecure, that’s all,” Katelyn defended, even though she secretly agreed. “He should have stayed and reassured her, instead of ‘giving her space’. Everyone knows Kandace and ‘space to think’ is a bad combination. Especially after he just got done calling her flighty and irresponsible and reminded her she would need a job if she left him.”

Everyone calls Kandace flighty because she picks a new career every year,” Kellie responded.

She clasped her hands on her chair handles and swiveling it back and forth lazily. Her facial expression was somewhere between completely unconcerned and mildly amused.

“Where is your sisterly solidarity, Kellie Ann!?” Katelyn spit out.

Kellie heaved a long sigh and leaned forward again in her chair. She looked at her watch pointedly. Kate pursed her lips and continued to glare. Kellie’s eyes softened a bit and her lip hitched a little like she knew just how much she was pressing her little sister’s buttons. She chuckled and reached her hands forward to grab Katelyn’s hands.

“Tell me something, baby sister. This sudden desire to help Kandace patch things up with her husband wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact she just moved in with you, would it?” Kellie asked.

Katelyn flushed and squirmed.

“How do you know about that? It just happened yesterday.”

“Mrs. Dickerson.”

That woman was a menace to society, thought Katelyn.

“What would you do, if she insisted on staying with you and Andrew?” Katelyn asked, going for the best defense is an offense approach.

“Helping her helps both of us – all of us. As a family,” she ended weakly.

Kellie raised her eyebrows again and her eyes sparkled in humor.

“Look, Katie, I do think that Kandy realizes she made a mistake and wants to patch things up, but just doesn’t know how. But I also think it’s really not our place to interfere, even as her sisters. Sisters are just supposed to be there for each other, not micromanage each other’s lives.”

“This coming from the biggest micromanager out there!” Katelyn couldn’t stop herself from saying.

Then she sighed in defeat.

“Sorry, Kellie, that was mean. It’s just… it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow and I figured it would be the perfect time to play a little cupid.”

Kellie laughed and stood up. She went over and opened the door in a very unsubtle ‘time to go’ way.

“I’m sorry to kick you out, Katelyn, but my assistant will be back any minute and we have a big project to discuss.”

As Katelyn made her way to the door, Kellie continued, “Does this mean you’ve gotten over your aversion to Valentine’s Day? Me, personally, I think it’s fun watching Andrew try to surprise me every year. He never does, but he tries, bless him.”

“I didn’t think you listened when I said that. It seems like nobody in this family takes me seriously about V-Day. But I’m willing to take one for the team because it’s Kandy’s favorite holiday and their anniversary this weekend.”

“Good to know,” Kellie said mysteriously.

She smiled gently and she suddenly appeared more like the girl Katelyn used to play Barbies with, rather than the battle-axe she had become.

“And I always listen to you, Katie-belle. I just don’t always agree.”

Katelyn smiled and walked over to hug Kellie. When Kellie pulled back, she grabbed a brochure from the huge rack against the wall and handed it to Katelyn.

“Here. If you won’t take my advice and butt out, this is the hotel they stayed at on their honeymoon. It’s a theme hotel in Lincoln. Each room has—”

“A theme?”

“Yes, like the middle ages, or space adventure—”

“Oh, I remember her talking about that! She went on about it for weeks!”

“Probably to cover her disappointment they didn’t actually leave the state for their honeymoon, or at least stay at a casino across the river—”

“But she doesn’t even like gambling.”

“Do you have a pathological need to interrupt or is it just rudeness?” Kellie asked in her bossy, older sister tone.

Katelyn rolled her eyes and walked through the door, sending her sister a prune face over her shoulder.

Kellie laughed a bit and continued, “Anyway, you might just accidently-on-purpose lose that in front of her to remind her of the good times.”

“Let’s just hope it doesn’t remind her of the bad times,” Katelyn mumbled.

“Hmmn,” was all Kellie said in response.

She poked her head out the door and addressed the secretary in the lobby.

“Next time my sister visits, don’t make her wait fifteen minutes before calling me, understood?”

Then she shut the door smartly.

Katelyn gave the secretary a superior look and thought, well, maybe Kellie had a little sisterly solidarity left in her.

Just as she made it to her SUV, her phone rang with Dominic’s ring tone. She sang a few bars of Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire before answering it.

“Thought we were meeting for lunch?” Dom asked without even saying hello. “It’s a good thing I took the day off, or I’d have to be back in class by now.”

She slapped her hand to her forehead.

“I’m sorry, Dom! I was downtown visiting Kellie and—”

“You used that excuse yesterday, babe. Might want to dust off a new one, or several.”

“What? I mean, I know, I’m sorry. But, I have to get on 180 just now and you know how I hate inner city traffic. I’ll call you back as soon as I get home,” Katelyn said in a rush and hung up before he could reply.

She swallowed the guilt again and started her car. As Katelyn made her way to the west edge of town she tried not to think about the fact she’d just given him more ammo for the ‘flighty’ comment yesterday. It wasn’t like she didn’t want to live with Dominic, it was just that she loved that little home. And now he wanted to use Valentine’s Day to ask her to give it up? It was like he was ignoring everything she had ever said about hating it!

Ok, true, maybe she didn’t actually hate it as much as she said. It was more in the realm of general apathy. And it was also true it might have been a little overkill to say he couldn’t get her anything at all, but she had hoped he would take it as a hint to drop the idea of them going out. Then it would give her a little more time to work up the courage to tell him she had no intention of moving.

She frowned. That seemed even a little convoluted to herself.

But, even so, she was reasonably certain she had a right to be annoyed that he was showing such disregard for her feelings about the holiday and her home. Everything was always on his terms and his turf. He had just assumed she would move in with him without even discussing it with her. She ignored the little Kandy-sounding voice in her head that said, ‘duh because you’ve been avoiding him‘, and told herself it was perfectly natural to want to put off an unpleasant confrontation with the man she loved.

She was still endlessly repeating this in her head (and almost had herself convinced it was true) when she pulled into her driveway.

“Just because he’s used to having it his way in every other aspect of his life doesn’t mean he can push me into this decision,” Katelyn mumbled to herself as she fished her house keys out from her purse.

“That’s cute, two and a half decades of knowing each other and I never noticed you talk to yourself,” a voice said from the corner of her front porch.

Katelyn dropped her keys and jumped.

“Dominic!”

She clutched the front of her sweater.

“You scared the piss out of me!”

She glared at him then narrowed her eyes even more at the sight of him looking perfect and dashing as always.

How did he do that?

Every day he pulled off some irresistible combination of dangerous, disheveled, and delicious. She knew for a fact he just got up in the morning, took a shower, sprayed some man-stink on, and that was that. She had to spend an hour getting ready, and still her hair always frizzed out and looked like she had done nothing to it.

“Not my problem you’re so unobservant you didn’t notice the guy sitting on your front porch,” Dom replied.

He waggled his eyebrows and got up from the porch swing. She turned around and picked up her keys to unlock the door while he continued speaking.

“First, you leave me hanging last night for supper—”

“We never had formal plans, and something came up, and—”

“Then you don’t even throw me a bone and come over after the game—” Dom continued.

“Oh, please, you only invited me over so I could help you clean up after my brother and brother-in-law—”

“Now you stand me up for lunch—”

“I told you I honestly lost track of time,” she said and turned back around.

He was lounging against the railing on the porch by the steps with his hands in his pockets.

She sighed. He was like sin in a man-shaped package. And her sister wondered why she was avoiding him? A nun would have no willpower around Dominic Valentini in full flirt mode.

“And I haven’t gotten any nookie since practically New Years…” Dom continued in a soft purr.

“Oh, what a load of bull! It was last week, ok, maybe the week before that, but I had my period, and that totally doesn’t count—”

“I got blue balls, babe, it’s not pretty. Maybe you could put on that sexy nurse outfit you wore on Halloween and tend to my—”

“Oh, for God’s sake, Dominic! And who says nookie any more, I mean, really?” Katelyn spit out and crossed her arms, but she couldn’t help laughing a bit.

He had always been able to get her out of a bad mood even when they had just been friends. Now that they were dating, he had even more ways to cajole a laugh out of her.

Why am I avoiding him again? She wondered. Oh, yeah, the house.

She frowned at him. He stopped lounging against the railing and sauntered over to her, all the while grinning and clearly unfazed by her menacing look.

Oh man, not on the front porch, Katelyn thought as she recognized the mischievous twinkle in his eyes.

She backed up until she hit the door, fumbling behind her for the handle.

Mrs. Dickerson was going to have a field day with this, her panicked mind continued a beat before he squished her against the door.

It seems like he’s always squishing me against something, she thought in irritation. Then Kandy’s voice in her head mocked, probably because he knows you secretly love it.

“I’m starting to think you’re avoiding me, Skate,” Dom whispered against her lips.

He had one hand flat against the door above her head and the other against the door next to her waist. The entirety of him was pressing against her.

The entirety of her was now gooey and fuzzy headed.

“Are you avoiding me, babe?” Dominic asked while trailing his lips, without actually kissing her, along the edge of her jaw.

“Ahhhh… ummm… Why… um, whhhhy would I be avoiding you?” she managed to get out feebly.

His lips moved to her neck and his hips ground against hers.

“Dom-Dominic… there’s… there’s people out here!” She squeaked out the last word as his tongue licked the lobe of her ear just the way she liked it.

Dom’s head lifted and he raised his eyebrows. His hand above her head lifted from the door and looped behind her, scooping her flush up against him as he stepped back. His other hand turned the door knob, opened the door, and twirled her out of the way of it opening – all in one swift move.

“Exactly why we should take this inside,” Dom said with a grin. “Great idea, Skate.”

Then he let go of her abruptly and walked right into her home like he owned it.

Katelyn gritted her teeth and glared at his back. It was a good thing she was so madly in love with him, or she might actually hate him for the way he always seemed to get his way.

–Copyright 2013, Genevieve Dewey.

CHAPTER FOUR will be posted 11/30/13 at 9am Chicago time.

#ASMSG Nov #BYNR Free Read: The V-Day Aversion, Chapter Two


For a limited time I am going to post The V-Day Aversion (Dom & Kate #2), chapter by chapter every Saturday. If you haven’t read Bird Day Battalion (Dom & Kate #1), grab a free copy in any digital format at these retailers:
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The V-Day Aversion

by Genevieve Dewey

valentinescover

Copyright 2013 by Genevieve Dewey. All Rights Reserved.
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

CHAPTER TWO

(Read CHAPTER ONE here.)

“So, she’s joking, right?”

Dominic Valentini tossed the remote down on the couch in disgust. He got up to grab some more beers from the kitchen while he waited for an answer from Kyle and Andrew. They didn’t say anything even after he handed them the beers, so he deliberately shook a beer and opened it right under Kyle’s nose.

“Hey! Jackass,” Kyle said caustically, wiping his front.

“This is serious. Why d’you think I invited you jerks over in the first place?” Dominic retorted.

Andrew looked over and shared a look with Kyle.

“Because Katelyn stood you up again and we wanted to duck our girlfriends and-or wives for a few hours?” Andrew answered disingenuously.

“Kyle,” Dominic said slowly. “This is your sister I’m talking about. Your twin sister. Surely you should know the answer to this question.”

“Sister… so, you have a twin sister…” Andrew began in his Darth Vader voice.

“Obi Wan was wise to hide her from me,” Kyle and Andrew finished in unison.

Dom sighed in irritation. He had obviously waited a few too many beers in to start this conversation.

“To reiterate—”

“Oooh, fancy pants words,” Kyle interrupted. “You’ve been hanging out with Katie too much, dude.”

Dom pinched the bridge of his nose and continued.

“Katelyn claims that she doesn’t want to go out for Valentine’s Day. I only brought it up once, and ever since, she refuses to even allow me to finish my freaking sentence. I either get the ‘commercial exploitation’ speech or she changes the subject. This is the first I have heard of this date aversion. I knew she disliked Valentine’s, but I had no idea she took it to this extent. I mean, when we were little—”

“Hey, speaking of, remember that time when Katie had that huge crush on what’s his name – we used to call him Booger?” Andrew interrupted.

“Humphrey,” Kyle said.

“Who in their right freakin’ mind names a kid Humphrey?”

“Mnnnn,” Kyle said. “Damn shame.”

Kyle and Andrew took a second and shook their heads in mutual disgust. Dominic clapped his hands to get their attention. He was starting to get that panicky feeling in his gut. He only had a couple days left to figure this out, and it was seriously pissing him off how un-seriously these two were taking this subject.

“Gentlemen, can we please focus here?”

“I was focusing. I’m agreeing with you,” Andrew said, leaning back on the couch and crossing his legs on the coffee table. “Katie made this really huge papier-mâché heart and gave it to Booger right in front of the whole class. Embarrassed the hell out of him. She obviously hasn’t always hated it.”

“I can’t believe you didn’t know she doesn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day at all anymore,” Kyle answered in such a perfectly bored voice that Dominic realized he was serious.

Worse, he realized his problem was more serious than he had initially thought.

“Why on earth would I know that?” Dom asked. “There’s a difference between expressing a dislike for a holiday and being a complete scrooge about it.”

“Wrong holiday,” Kyle interjected, now with the bored cop face to match his tone.

Dom glared at him and continued, “We’ve never dated before. Since friends don’t get each other candy and flowers, I had no idea that a general disdain for a holiday meant I’m not allowed to take my woman out on a date or get her a gift.”

“Just so you know, she’s fine with all the holidays that have some sort of historical or religious context to them,” Kyle answered patiently, looking cross-ways between amused and unconcerned. “That way she can bore us all to death with a lecture on the true roots of the holiday. Like last Easter—”

“Forget why, Kyle, and answer the original question,” Dominic interrupted.

What was it with these Andersons and their constant love of deflection? he thought.

He took a deep breath and continued, “Is she really serious that I can’t take her out anywhere, and absolutely under no circumstances, should even think about getting her a gift, especially not jewelry?”

“It’s a trap!” Andrew said in his Admiral Akbar voice. He leaned forward and started laughing.

Kyle laughed too, and grabbed the bowl of peanuts.

“You ask me, it’s really about the fact our birthday is right after and she’s gotten tired of getting stale pink candy and heart shaped gifts. Yes, she’s serious.”

He mirrored Andrew’s previously relaxed pose on the couch and smiled grimly, the rest of his face inscrutably blank.

“Alright, then, game plan,” Dom stopped, let out a long breath, and scooted to the edge of his chair.

He clapped his hands together.

“How about, she and I just celebrate at home and I get her something nice, but make it practical—”

“Err, err, err,” Andrew started making warning buzzer sounds.

Dom picked up the remote and threw it at him without breaking eye-contact with Kyle. Kyle’s cop face slipped a little and his lip twitched like he was struggling not to laugh.

“I get her something that I know she wants like a book or something to soften her up,” Dom continued. “But then I can still surprise her with—”

“You can’t get a woman a book for Valentine’s Day. Even I know that,” Andrew interrupted again. “Kellie and I always—”

“Yeah, I don’t think he needs advice from a guy who hasn’t seen his own balls in at least a year,” Kyle interjected. “And it’s bad enough I got him asking me how to romance one sister, I don’t need to know about what you and my other sister do to celebrate Valentine’s Day.”

Kyle got up and started arranging the beer cans for another round of beer bowling.

“This is not like you, Dom. Since when do you need to consult us on what to get a woman? If Katie doesn’t want to go out, what’s the big deal? Money saved.”

“It’s different with her! I mean, this is Katelyn! You know how long I’ve wanted to be in her—”

Kyle held up a hand and shuddered. “My sister, dude.”

Life. The point is, this is our first ever Valentine’s Day together and I want it perfect.”

“Am I allowed to speak? That is, if you two morons would like some advice from the only married person in the room?” Andrew asked in such a perfect imitation of his wife Kellie’s lofty, bossy tone that both Kyle and Dominic laughed.

“Shoot,” Dom said.

“You always gotta keep them guessing, so things don’t get stale—”

“They just got together three months ago,” Kyle interrupted with the patented Anderson eye-roll.

“Sheddit,” Andrew replied then turned back to Dominic. “She says she doesn’t want something, fine. I don’t believe it, but fine. Get her something she can’t give back, something more symbolic. Like a trip or something.”

“And the fact your wife’s a travel salesman has nothing to do with this, right?” Dom interjected.

“Salesperson. And she owns an event planning company. But no, I’m not talking about anything fancy. I’m talking about a night at a hotel or something. I was going to say earlier that’s what Kellie and I do every year. I surprise her with a new restaurant and a night at a hotel.”

Kyle looked surprised then shook his head. “If she doesn’t want to celebrate the day then it won’t matter what he gets her. She’ll be pissed anyway. This ‘I hate V-Day’ thing has stuck around a lot longer than any of Katelyn’s other soapboxes she stumps the hell out of.”

“‘A man and woman should show appreciation for their mate all year long, every day’,” Dominic said in a falsetto voice.

Andrew curled his upper lip in disgust and Kyle started laughing again.

“Yeah, I’ve been listening to the whole diatribe a lot longer than you have, Valentini.”

“‘And it’s totally sexist’,” Dom continued in his faux-Katelyn voice. “‘Why is it always the focus on the woman? Jewelry, chocolate, teddy bears, why nothing for the man?’ she says.”

“Uhhh, because “Ladies, time for the annual blow job” wouldn’t pass the censors?” Andrew said.

“You only get it once a year? Shit, don’t answer that,” Kyle said in disgust and shuddered again.

He clapped Dom on the shoulder.

“It’s either ‘Do, or do not. There is no try’. You’re going to have to go all in and change her mind about it, or accept you’ve got the only woman on the face of the planet that doesn’t want a date on Valentine’s.”

“But… come on, Kyle, how am I supposed to know if the no gift part is something she’s serious about, or just something she’s saying, but totally doesn’t mean? Because in three short months I’ve learned ‘oh, I can’t possibly decide on dessert’ means ‘you order dessert and I’ll eat half’. Maybe she just really means get a gift, but not a particularly Valentiney-type gift.”

“This must be an Anderson woman thing,” Andrew said. “Took me a full four dates to realize ‘Men paying the tab is so antiquated’ didn’t mean Kellie wanted to go Dutch. It apparently meant I was to let her offer to pay the bill then say, ‘no, let me, please’. Because then I gave her the choice or such feminist shit. But, notice, I’m still paying the tab… which is some pretty clever female trickeration if you ask me… I’m just sayin’…” Andrew trailed off at Kyle’s dark look.

Kyle turned back toward Dominic.

“You’re both morons. I don’t understand the big deal. Just take her at her word and don’t get her a present then go whole hog on the birthday present. Problem solved,” Kyle said slowly in his passionless cop voice again.

Dominic could tell he was going to be of no further help so he played his trump a bit sooner than he wanted.

“The big deal is, I wanted to ask her to marry me and it seemed like Valentine’s would be the perfect way to do it. In my experience, chicks dig that sort of stuff.”

Kyle spit out his beer.

“Way to bury the lead, Valentini,” he said.

“I mean, you never hear women talk to each other and say things like, oh, he asked me on this random Tuesday in March,” Dominic continued. “It was so romantic.”

“Hey, man, that’s great,” Andrew said, reaching over and shaking Dom’s hand. “Welcome to the family. Or their family, whatever.”

“But I suppose, her birthday could work, also,” Dom finished as he shook Kyle’s hand too.

“I’ve changed my mind,” Kyle said, back to his ebullient self. “Since she’ll be mad either way you should definitely pop the question on Valentine’s. If anything could change her mind about the holiday, it’ll be you asking her to marry you. Unlike Kellie, Katie’s not uptight, she’s just—”

“Shows how well you know your sister!” Andrew interrupted. “I’ll have you know Kellie really knows how to let loose in the—”

“Arrgh! Stop with the speaking about my sisters and sex!” Kyle shuddered.

Andrew chuckled.

“I was going to say, before the baboon interrupted,” Kyle continued cheerfully, “that Katelyn sometimes needs a firm hand. She needs a take charge person in her life. It’s part of why I’m glad you two finally got together. It comforts her or something to have someone else make decisions for her, no matter what she says otherwise. When we were little I was always the one that had to try something first and tell her it was ok. But as soon as she had some structure, she was all about having fun and being wild.”

“So I should just go ahead and plan something, and ignore it if she gets mad that I surprised her on Valentine’s,” Dominic proposed. “We all know how she hates surprises.”

Kyle nodded enthusiastically, practically bouncing on his heels.

“She won’t get mad this time, I guarantee it. Just put your foot down.”

Dom narrowed his eyes. “You guaran—”

“Plan something and get her a really big ring,” Andrew interrupted. “If that doesn’t work then screw the mad right outta her.”

Kyle lost his mischievous grin and started pounding on Andrew.

“Police brutality!” Andrew half shouted, half laughed then started punching back.

Dom chuckled and flipped the channel to the Red Zone to check scores.

Come to think of it, that wasn’t a half bad plan… Dom thought to himself and moved further down the couch to avoid the flying fists and feet.

He fished his phone out and texted Katelyn:

Done at your parents? Game’s at half I can kick the guys out and you can come over.

Can’t. I’m babysitting Kandace’s kids.

He frowned and texted back:

Thought they were staying at Steve’s?

Kandace said she wants to talk. She’s staying the night. Sorry!

Dominic released a frustrated breath.

Then come over later.

It was silent for so long he set it down on the coffee table. Finally it beeped.

Don’t wait up. Love you.

Dominic stared at the read out.

Don’t wait up? What the hell kind of answer was that? At this rate, it would be Valentine’s next year before he got the woman to stand still long enough to ask her.

Andrew and Kyle had gotten bored punching each other and moved on to mocking the hair piece on the commentator’s head. Dom grunted, propped his feet on the table, and joined them.

He could put his foot down tomorrow.

–Copyright 2013, Genevieve Dewey.

Read more… CHAPTER THREE.

#ASMSG #BYNR Free Read: The V-Day Aversion, Chapter One


For a limited time I am going to post The V-Day Aversion (Dom & Kate #2), chapter by chapter every Saturday. If you haven’t read Bird Day Battalion (Dom & Kate #1), grab a free copy in any digital format at these retailers:
thCA82U60G thCACNXHNIthCA2WYIQ9 thCAHYUWN0 thCALCVTPI thCANYKKFJlogo

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The V-Day Aversion

by Genevieve Dewey

valentinescover

Copyright 2013 by Genevieve Dewey. All Rights Reserved.
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

CHAPTER ONE

Out of all the ways Katelyn Anderson had planned to spend the evening, hiding behind a giant juniper bush hadn’t even ranked in the top twenty.

This was taking procrastination to new levels, the tiny voice inside her head mocked.

You’re just being a good sister, the other voice enabled.

“This has seriously got to be the dumbest thing you have ever convinced me to do,” Katelyn said while trying to prevent a branch from poking her in the rear.

“Yeah, well, we’ve established you need to get out more,” Kandace replied, unfazed.

Kandy scooted a little further down along the house behind the shrub. Kate gritted her teeth and tried to follow her. It was extremely awkward since she refused to get on her hands and knees like Kandace. Instead, she sort of duck walked in her bulky snow gear after her older sister.

“Kandy,” Katelyn whispered. “Kandy, do you at least have a general time frame in which we can expect his arrival? Because I am freezing my ass off and Dom said he was going to come over, so I should at least call him and cancel—”

“Shhhh,” Kandace hissed and waved her hand at Katelyn to silence her.

She ended up smacking Kate in the face with her dirt and snow covered glove. Katelyn stared in exasperation at her profile and reminded herself how many times Kandace had her back over the years. She turned her head to try and see what Kandace was shushing her about.

A car door slammed and she heard the clack-clomp of high heeled boots on cement.

“Well, that was certainly an adventure. I appreciate you going with me,” a male voice was saying from the general proximity of the front porch.

“Oh, no problem, Steve,” a high pitched, breathlessly sweet voice chirped out. It was followed by a quick giggle. “It was really my pleasure.”

Then another quick giggle.

Katelyn had no idea who the girl was, but she hated her already. It wasn’t just because the other voice belonged to her currently suspected of cheating brother-in-law. Perky, effusive people bothered Katelyn on principle alone, and doubly so on chilly February nights when she could be sitting in front of a fire with her not-at-all-insanely-perky boyfriend. Just the thought of Dominic’s large, calloused hands holding her warmed her a bit.

She smiled until she remembered she was currently avoiding him. Not because he’d done anything wrong, unless being practically perfect in the boyfriend category was a crime, she just didn’t trust her will-power around him. Sort of like avoiding the snack aisle while one was PMSing; less chance of giving in to temptation leading to regret, but sadly… less pleasure.

Katelyn’s thoughts were interrupted by a sort of growling, mewling sound. When she realized it was her sister making that sound she thought,

Oh God, please no, I didn’t bring any bail money…

Katelyn grabbed Kandace’s arm and yanked her until she turned her face to look at Katelyn. The hurt and brewing tears in Kandy’s eyes had Katelyn letting out a defeated breath. She grimaced in commiseration.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, then,” Steve said and they could hear the jangle of his keys.

The girl clomped away in an almost skipping manner.

Katelyn tried to move some branches aside to get a better look at the supposed interloper. All she could see in the dark was that the girl was wearing a wool pea coat, a short skirt, and high heeled platform boots. In February. In Nebraska. Katelyn’s insta-hate ratcheted up a notch. People who had no regard for proper seasonal dress also bothered Katelyn. Her sister’s potential competition was a perky, skipping, flaunter of the rules. In other words, Kandace 2.0, with an extra side of bouncy.

Katelyn reached up and absentmindedly ran her hand up and down Kandace’s back in sympathy.

“Well, that doesn’t prove anything. I mean…” Katelyn’s whisper trailed off as Kandace sent her a death glare.

Kandace started pushing through the rest of the shrub towards the front porch. Katelyn frantically tried to stop her, but her glove covered fingers couldn’t get a grip on the back of Kandace’s parka. Kandace came out the end just as they heard the bolt snick on the front door.

Katelyn fell out of the edge of the bush and tackled her sister before she could make it to the steps.

“No! No, you can’t.”

“Katie, butt out!”

“Butt out? Are you kidding me? You’re the one who dragged me here! And it is my duty as your sister to stop you from doing something stupid right now. This isn’t proof of anything,” Katelyn hissed in a fervent whisper.

Kandace’s mouth dropped open and she stared at Katelyn incredulously. She put her hands on her hips.

“I’m serious, Kandy,” Katelyn continued. “If it was a date, wouldn’t he be dropping her off, instead of the other way around?”

“Maybe they’re taking turns driving,” Kandace said with her chin in the air, but looking a little less certain. “If it wasn’t a date, how come he left the kids with his mom when he knew I was available?”

“I don’t know, but if it was a date, wouldn’t he have invited her inside? And it’s barely past suppertime. Usually dates don’t end until much later.”

Kandace started wringing her hands and looking back and forth between the now dark porch and the street.

“Maybe he just wasn’t ready to introduce her to his mom. I mean, you’ve met her. Darth Vader has a more charming personality.”

Katelyn expelled a quick huff of amusement then she sobered.

“Kandace, I don’t want to be cruel here, but you’re the one who moved out. If you want to know what he’s doing and who he’s doing it with, maybe you should consider moving back in with him. Technically, it’s not cheating if it happens after you’ve left him,” Katelyn said.

“Uh, duh, yeah, it is!” Kandace hissed and started angrily walking towards the sidewalk. “We aren’t divorced yet, and my kids are in that house! I have every right to be concerned about who he’s bringing around them.”

Katelyn tried to hurry after her, but it felt like each of her toes had turned into miniature popsicles. Her breath plumed out in front of her as she spoke to her sister’s rapidly moving back.

“Kandace, like I said five times on the walk over here, and at least twelve times on the phone since you left him last month, I sincerely doubt he’s going to bring anyone around your kids when you haven’t even formally divorced.”

Kandace abruptly stopped walking and turned around. Tears were running down her face and her eyes sparkled in the faint light of the street lights.

“That didn’t stop him from cheating the first time, did it?” she squeaked.

Katelyn sighed and reached out for Kandace’s gloves. Their hands slid out from each other at first, and they both let out a slight laugh at it. Katelyn smiled a bolstering smile.

“Kandy, you only suspected him of cheating. You have no real proof, and it was his idea to go to marriage counseling with you. That’s not the sign of a guy wanting out.”

“Says the woman who didn’t even notice her best friend was pining for her for years. The hottest guy in town, no less. Gee, it really sucks to be you,” Kandace said.

Katelyn didn’t take it personally. If there was anyone in the Anderson family that could outdo Katelyn in the fine art of deflection, it was Kandace.

“At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you moved out, not the other way around,” Katelyn said.

“I moved out because my husband spent more time on business trips – where he did God knows what with God knows whom – than he did at home with me and the kids. And believe me, I tried to kick him out, but as he so kindly pointed out, the house belongs to him. The car belongs to him. The credit cards belong to him. The damned dog belongs to him. Well I don’t belong to him!” Kandace practically screamed the last sentence out.

A light went on in a room across the street and a dog started barking. Katelyn grabbed Kandace’s arm as best she could with her gloved hand and dragged her down the street quickly. They didn’t speak anymore even after they got into Kandace’s mom-mobile parked two blocks over.

Halfway down the interstate drive to her house, Katelyn dared to bring up the Forbidden Topic.

“Ok, again, Kandy, I don’t want to be cruel or anything, but, can I just point out—”

“No.”

“Kandace—”

“No!”

Katelyn sighed a frustrated, long, pointedly drawn out sigh.

“We don’t know if he cheated for sure but we do know you did,” Katelyn said it anyway.

Kandace growled a bit and sent her sister a furious glare.

“I spent the night at Brian’s house once and after I found lipstick on Steve’s shirt. What am I supposed to assume? He’s always gone—”

“The lipstick could have been from his mother, and he’s always traveled a lot—”

“And he said he wanted a trial separation if I didn’t pick a career and stick with it—”

“Well, that is a little harsh as far as ultimatums go, but, Kaden is already in kindergarten so I can see why he would want to encourage—”

“Then he took the kids and stayed two whole weeks at his parents without me—”

“But wasn’t that Thanksgiving trip your idea?”

“Why are you taking his side?!” Kandace screamed.

Katelyn winced as it reverberated in the car.

“I’m not,” she countered softly. “I’m just trying to play devil’s advocate. That’s all. I’m one-hundred percent on your side. I promise.”

Kandace started sobbing and Katelyn dug a tissue out of the console.

“I know I screwed up, OK? I don’t need reminding I’m a screw up. A jobless, husbandless, flighty, stupid, screw up! It’s two days from Valentine’s Day and he’s already got a new woman to spend it with, and I’m going to be all alone! I don’t even have my kids. Errr!” Kandy squealed out at the end.

“You’re not a screw up and you’re not stupid, come on,” Katelyn started to say.

“I’m a Beauty school, Nursing school, and Interior Decorating school dropout!”

“Well… but, again, you got straight A’s in all those classes,” Katelyn parried with a wobbly smile. “And, technically, you haven’t dropped out of Culinary school yet.”

Kandace laughed in a shaky, self-deprecating manner and looked down at her hands.

“Besides, you’re not employed because you’ve been a stay at home mom for the better part of a decade which is not the same as being jobless,” Katelyn continued with a cheerful smile. “As far as the kids go, you still see Kaden and Alex almost every day. And Valentine’s Day is way overrated anyway. It’s a completely manufactured holiday designed to support the greeting card industry and jewelry stores. It’s for suckers and lovesick fools.”

Katelyn’s phone buzzed on the console. Kandace released a tear-filled chuckle as Katelyn looked at the read out on her phone. Dom’s abs showed on the screen. Kandace raised her eyebrows and Katelyn flushed. Dominic had put that on her phone the last time he’d stolen it and she couldn’t figure out how to fix it.

“You shouldn’t talk and drive, y’know,” Kandace mumbled as she reached for the phone.

“Well, I think it’s slightly less dangerous than you driving in your state,” she answered as she swatted her sister’s hand.

She pressed speaker phone to answer it. Kandace made a ‘tuh’ sound.

“Hey, little girl,” Dominic voice filled the car, all deep and sexy. “Wanna get in my van? I got candy if you show me your underwear…”

“Dom, honestly, what if someone else answered my phone?!” Katelyn asked.

She sent her sister a reproving look as Kandace covered her mouth to muffle her laughter.

Dom chuckled and Katelyn couldn’t help grinning in return.

“They’d learn their lesson, wouldn’t they? And why would someone else answer your phone? Seriously, Skate, where are you? Thought we were going to order Chinese and mock MacGyver together at your place.”

She winced and glanced at Kandace again. Kandy raised her eyebrow.

“I’m sorry, Dom! I was running errands downtown this afternoon and I thought I’d pop in and visit Kellie and it took longer than I expected before I got to see her. My own sister! You’d think she was the Pope or something the way her secretaries block for her. I’m just leaving Omaha now.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Kate could see Kandace’s mouth drop open at this blatant lie.

“It’s cool. You can just stop at my place on your way—”

“Ahh, can’t, I just passed the exit and I forgot I have to stop by Mom’s.”

“Okaay,” Dom drawled out. “We’ll do it another night then. But as your boyfriend and oldest friend, I feel compelled to point out you’re getting to be almost as flighty as Kandace the last few weeks.”

Katelyn winced and sent another guilty glance in her sister’s direction. Kandace rolled her eyes, but she didn’t look offended.

“Hey! You don’t get to call her flighty. I get to call her flighty, because she’s my sister, but my boyfriend does not get to call her flighty,” Katelyn said in a falsely cheerful tone.

“I think I’m exempt from the boyfriend clause because we’ve known each other our whole lives. We’re all practically family.”

“Ha! I don’t let family members do to me what you do,” Katelyn paused as his deep laughter filled the car. “And if we’re ‘family’ then you won’t mind when I say I’m throwing out the stinky socks you keep leaving at my place. Leaving them with me does not automatically equate with me washing them.”

Dominic’s laughter turned into a chuckle.

“I resent the implication I would be so underhanded,” he replied in good humor. “If I wanted someone to wash my stinky socks I’d drop them off next door to you at my mother’s. Besides, I wouldn’t have to remember to search for my socks if you lived—”

“Ah… hold on I have to merge in traffic. I better call you back,” she cut him off quickly, and hit off.

She swallowed the guilt as Kandace stared at her in open mouthed confusion.

“You gonna to tell me what that’s about?” Kandace asked.

“Nope.”

“So, I’m supposed to listen to you poke in my life, but I don’t get to know why you’re lying to Dominic about where you were, or why you got off the phone so fast?”

“Ok, let me first point out – again – that you dragged me out to Lincoln to spy on your husband, not the other way around. And what am I supposed to say? I’ve just been lurking in bushes spying on my not-at-all-flighty sister’s husband like a teenaged stalker?”

“That might be an excuse I’d buy for lying about where you were, but not for getting off the phone so quickly,” Kandace pointed out. “You were all keen about him coming over earlier tonight and now you’re avoiding him.”

Katelyn sighed.

“He’s been hinting rather heavily lately about me moving in with him.”

Kandace moved in her seat abruptly to better face Katelyn.

“That’s great, Katie! Wait… isn’t it? Why is that not great?”

“Well… I just didn’t want to be all happy when you’re going through your troubles because no one likes it when you’re unhappy and someone is all in your face with their cheerfulness.”

“Like Tits McGee back there on my front porch? It’s not the same, Katie! We’re family and you know what a huge supporter I am of you and Dom as a couple. Need I remind you if it weren’t for me, you might not even have gotten together at Thanksgiving?”

Katelyn rolled her eyes. Kandace was always taking credit for anything positive that ever happened in Katelyn’s life.

“And also, I’m not buying for one second the reason you’re avoiding Dom is because I’m staying the night tonight,” Kandace continued. “Please tell me you’re not torturing the man again with that bad habit you have of changing your mind every two minutes? For a woman that likes lists and rules so much, you sure are fond of indecision.”

Katelyn sighed again and glared at her sister.

“It’s… complicated.”

Kandace snorted.

“No, Steve and I are complicated. You and Dom are an open book. You’re both single, no kids, and crazy about each other. The only true wrinkle in your relationship is you live a town away from each other. At some point in time it would be inevitable that one of you would move in with the other.”

“Well, why does it have to be me that moves in with him? I just got that job at MWAC in Lincoln. Ashland is closer to Lincoln than Gretna—”

“Oh my God, by like, a handful of minutes! Are you kidding me?” Kandace argued with an eye roll.

“Why are you always mocking me?”

“Why are you always saying stupid things?”

Katelyn stuck her tongue out.

“Oh wow, are you two years old? For real?” Kandace laughed.

Katelyn smirked because at least her sister was smiling and laughing again. Then she allowed herself an irritated huff.

“He’s been trying to get me to go out with him for Valentine’s Day,” Katelyn said in disgust.

“Gasp! The horror,” Kandace drawled mockingly. Katelyn shot her another dirty look.

“You know I hate that holiday. He should know I hate that holiday and yet he’s insisting on asking me every two second what I want, where should we go out, etcetera, and I just know it’s so he can officially ask me to move in with him!”

“Again… the horror,” Kandace said.

“Earlier, I figured if you were there he wouldn’t bring it up, but now I’m not so sure.”

“First, that really was dumb of you since everyone knows I’m all Team Dom & Kate For Evah,” Kandace said in a teeny bopper voice.

Katelyn snorted and rolled her eyes.

Kandace continued in her normal voice, “Second, no one in the family takes your ‘I hate V-Day’ thing seriously, so why should he? You only say that because you’ve never had a boyfriend in February before.”

“I do not!” Katelyn replied fervently. “Even if I had had a boyfriend I would hate the commercial exploitation of romantic relationships for the sole purpose of selling things!”

“Which is what dateless shut-ins all over the world tell themselves to make themselves feel better that they’re home alone watching the Lifetime Channel and eating candies they bought themselves.”

Katelyn glared at Kandace again. Kandace just grinned unabashedly. She turned full in her seat and ticked off points with her finger on her palm:

“So, Dreamy Valentini is choosing to ignore your inexplicable hatred of the lover’s holiday and shower you with attention. Instead of tolerating this show of affection, you’ve decided it has to be because he wants you to move in with him – which, again, I’m failing to see the problem with – and, instead of just dealing with this, you’ve decided to give the man mental whiplash while you avoid a confrontation. As usual.”

“Kandace,” Katelyn smacked the steering wheel. “I like living in Mom and Dad’s house. I just took out a mortgage on that place. Responsible people don’t just bail in the first year of their mortgage. And I like our small town feel. Gretna is practically like living inside Omaha these days. I don’t want to give Dominic an opportunity to officially ask me because then I’ll have to say no, and it will make things awkward between us. You know I fear the awkward. Honestly, you’re going to sprain an eye muscle if you keep rolling your eyes, Kandy.”

“Whine, whine, whine, avoid, avoid, avoid…”

“For crying out loud, I was all on your side with this Steve business. The least you could do is…” Katelyn trailed off as she recognized their mom’s car in front of her house.

Katelyn and Kandace shared a quick look.

When they walked through the door, they saw their mother sitting on the couch with packed bags next to her. Katelyn’s heart jumped to her throat.

“Oh my God, don’t tell me you left Dad!”

Bridgette blinked in confusion then scoffed.

“Of course not, these are Kandy’s bags. If she’s going to carry on with this tom-foolery then she can stay with you. We simply don’t have the room at our retirement village,” Bridgette stopped and turned to an opened mouth Kandace. “I’m sorry sweetheart, when you first showed up we thought it would just be for a few days. It’s been almost a month. Don’t you think you ought to at least try and patch things up with Steve? There’s children to consider.”

Their mom smiled a fond, though slightly condescending smile. Kandace’s mouth remained open but her eyes narrowed. No one spoke. After a long moment of pointed silence, Kandace walked forward, grabbed her suitcases, and marched down the hall.

They heard a door slam loudly and Katelyn met her mother’s chagrined eyes.

“Oh, you’re joking, right?” Katelyn said to no one in particular.

–Copyright 2013, Genevieve Dewey.

Read more… CHAPTER TWO.

It’s #Flashback time! Dom and Kate style…. | #ASMSG #BYNR |


birddaycover   valentinescover

Here’s a little young love–erm, confusion–to read on a Friday night. Ever wondered about that game of Spin the Bottle that Katelyn mentions in Bird Day Battalion? Well, here’s a flashback to that night. I haven’t made up my mind whether it’s going into the Dom & Kate novel yet. PLEASE, tell me what you think! 🙂

 

Teen_Love_by_TheBestCabinBoy

 

Fourteen years ago

 

“Hey, Motor Mouth!”

Katelyn continued walking, her arms pumping, hands balled and her eyes squinted in a fine line. This was the second week in a row that Dominic had followed her home from school. True, he lived next door, but he always took a separate route home. Except the last two weeks he had followed her and her—hopefully—boyfriend Humphrey the whole way mocking poor Humphrey’s name—he couldn’t help his name could he?—until Humphrey had refused to walk her home anymore. She figured Dom would stop then, but no, here he was.

“Come onnnnn, Skate…”

Katelyn swiveled on her heel and placed her fists on her hips.

“I…Told…You…To…STOP calling me that!”

Dominic ran a hand through his floppy curls—the only almost fifteen year old boy she knew who could have curls and still seem cool—then he grinned. He took a few more lazy strides to catch up and mimicked her stance. She complemented her glare with a pathetic sneer, pathetic because she sort of wanted to laugh at his superman pose. Dom had that effect on her, and it was one of the many things she hated about him. It was not natural or normal for a person to dislike another person the amount she disliked her obnoxious neighbor and yet he always knew how to get a laugh or smile out of her.

“Ok, I’ll stop calling you Motor Mouth. It’s your stupid brother’s nickname anyway.”

“Kyle is not stupid! And I meant Ska—”

“I was just wonderin’ if you wanted to come to my birthday party Friday night?” he interrupted in a lightning fast jumble.

She raised her eyebrows.

“I always come to your birthday parties, remember? And you come to mine. Because our moms are BFFs and we have no choice in the matter,” Katelyn replied, her nose in the air, and an impatient foot tapping. “And I thought it was on Saturday at two?”

He gave a carefree shrug and a lopsided grin but his eyes were on her front. She looked down at herself. Did she have a ketchup stain or something?

“No, I mean, my sister—you know how she just got her license? Well, she said she’d drive me and a few friends to Omaha this Friday night to watch hockey for my birthday. She’s going to just drop us off at the rink and go meet up with her friends, and she promised not to tell Mom because she’s cool like that. So I’m calling that my real party. Kandace is going. She said we can hang out at her friend Grace’s afterward.”

“Oh,” she said awkwardly.

That was possibly the longest thing Dom had said to her since she broke her arm after taking his dare to pop a wheelie on his skateboard. He had written her a horrible poem, horrible even for a nine year old. He called it ‘Ode to Skate’ and recited it to her after she got back from the hospital and his mother made him come over to apologize. It was really bad yet really funny. Which was basically Dom in a nutshell. But ever since he’d hit puberty he had been more prone to witty one-liners and snarky set-downs and avoiding her… until the last few weeks.

She frowned. How come Kandace hadn’t told her anything about this party? What good was it having a sister so close in age if she was going to keep stuff from her? Apparently she was just good for borrowing clothes. Katelyn shifted her feet and narrowed her eyes again. She wouldn’t put it past Dom to be playing some sort of prank on her.

“Won’t Demetria have to check in? I can’t imagine your parents will let her have the car the whole night.”

“Naw, you know how it is. Mom and Dad pretty much let her do whatever she wants.” His voice held resentment. She shook her head. He resented how his sister always got to do whatever, but speaking as the often overlooked kid in the large Anderson clan, she would love to have the amount of attention Ramona and Dino Valentini lavished on Dominic. The newly budding feminist in her also felt bad that Demi was overlooked not because she was one of many like Kate was, but because of the Valentini crime of not having a penis. In fact, new comers to the community were often surprised to learn the Valentinis had a daughter that was how much they forgot to mention her while they extolled Dom’s virtues to all that would stand still.

“Well… still… I don’t want to break any rules…” Katelyn began to say.

Dominic rolled his eyes and snorted.

“We’re not,” he drawled condescendingly. “We have permission to go into town with Demi. We are actually going to watch hockey. I thought you liked hockey?”

“I do! I just don’t want to get into trouble, that’s all. I’m going to be in high school soon. Stuff like that goes on your permanent record.”

“Stuff like what? What record?” he asked, looking confused. She noticed his eyes had made their way back to her front only lower this time. She was starting to feel self-conscious. She crossed her arms and his gaze rose to hers again.

“You know, your college resume? If you want to get the best scholarships to the best schools you have to have a flawless record.”

His mouth dropped slightly and his brow furrowed.

“I was actually thinking about studying my practice National Merit Exams this Friday,” she continued. “And you probably don’t want someone a year behind you tagging along anyway.”

His confused expression cleared up.

“Naw, that’s alright. Like I said, your sister’s coming and everyone knows you two hang out a lot. And that new kid Andrew is coming. He’s in your grade. Just no inviting Kyle, ok?”

“’Kay…” she replied softly. Her eyes were starting to hurt from keeping them narrowed for so long. She sighed. “Why are you being so nice to me?”

“What’d’you mean? I’m always nice to you. We’re friends.”

It was her turn to drop her mouth in confusion. Friends? They hadn’t been friends since grade school. Friendly neighbors, yes. Constantly forced into celebrating holidays and birthdays together by their mothers, yes. But the way she saw it, that made them more like… like… distant family or prisoners in the same jail or something.

“Anyway,” he paused with a huge grin and tapped her shoulder with his fist. “Rumor is we’re gonna play Spin the Bottle at Grace’s after the game, so better practice your pucker, Skate.” He laughed and sauntered off towards their houses. She stared at his back for a full minute. He had to be kidding, right?

Only… not.

All through the Lancers game he kept bending forward from two spaces over and making kissing faces, sending the boys next to him into gales of laughter.

Jerk, she thought. He had obviously just invited her to be entertainment for his friends. She nudged Kandace in front of her. Kandy turned around, looked between them and threw an ice cube from her drink at Dom.

“Quit it, moron!”

The boys started laughing even harder until the people behind them said,

“Shut it, dumbasses!”

Their equally scathing reply was lost in the dun dun dun dun of the hockey rink organ and the surge of the crowd as the Lancers almost scored. The boys completely forgot about her and started dissecting the play and the ice and the wobble in the puck and blah, blah, blah.

Katelyn sighed. She liked hockey, but not that much. She mostly liked it when the players got into a fight and the Zamboni guy shot hotdogs. And to think, she could be home reviewing her P-SAT words with a nice pint of Ben & Jerry’s…

It didn’t get any better once they arrived at Grace’s on the west edge of town. It was practically her bedtime yet everyone was jazzed like it was midafternoon. Katelyn stifled a yawn and jumped a bit in guilt when she felt Dom’s hand on her back pushing her through the door to Grace’s large family playroom. She looked at him, expecting a snide remark but he just flushed a bit and dropped his hand like she had cooties. There were four people sitting in a circle around a Ouija board. Each of them had a bowl of popcorn and M&Ms in front of them.

“Hey! We started without you guys! Come pull up a patch of carpet,” a girl with jet black hair a few years older said. “I’m Grace,” she said to Katelyn then pointed at the others in the circle. “This is Tommy, and Cam, and Mindy.”

Dom waved and pointed to Kate and Kandy.

“This is Katelyn and Kandace, they’re my neighbors. And you guys already met Hayden, Andrew and Jaxson.”

Grace nodded. “You staying, Demi?”

“Sure,” Demi said in a bored mumble then flopped down next to Grace. She was still going through her Emo phase, which was not quite Goth, more like Goth-Lite. All of the black wardrobe and morose demeanor, none of the Morrissey and facial piercings.

“Ouija boards are dumb,” Hayden said. “Thought we were going to play Spin the Bottle?”

Dom nudged him. Grace and Demi looked at each other, eyebrows raised.

“I don’t care if we play Spin the Bottle,” Cam replied, looking amused. He grinned at Grace and she flushed and brushed her long hair behind her ears.

“I think Ouija boards are fun!” Katelyn interjected. “And we all just met each other. It’d be a little weird to play a kissing game.”

“What’s the matter, Skate, you chicken?” Dom asked with a huge grin.

His posse started making chicken sounds. She raised her eyebrows and pressed her lips together. Boys were soooo predictable. She felt Kandy’s hand on her elbow.

“That’s the point, baby sister,” Kandy said. “To get to know each other?”

Dom and his friends started laughing again then argued about who was spinning first. Once everyone sat in a cramped circle, Katelyn started praying under her breath that the bottle wouldn’t rest on her. But fate was not on her side because the instant Dom had a turn the bottle spun right to her. If she didn’t know any better, she’d think he did it on purpose. His friends all started laughing again and Kandace pushed Katelyn towards the door.

“Go on. Two minutes,” Kandace said loud enough for everyone to hear, then leaned closer to whisper in Kate’s ear. “Just remember not to hold your breath.”

“What?” Kate whispered back, but Dom yanked her hand and shut the door.

The closet was dark and cramped, as closets were supposed to be, and Kate thought whoever invented the game of Spin the Bottle had to be a man because no girl would find it even remotely romantic. Dom’s hands fumbled on her until he found her face. When she could feel his breath on her face she leaned forward and to the side to give him a quick peck on the cheek.

“There. We can go back out when the timer goes off and you can say we kissed.”

He was silent but his face never moved away from hers.

“Dom?” she whispered.

She sucked her breath in as she felt his lips brush hers softly. It tickled with a prickly rush that made her want to rub her lips to make the odd sensation go away. But she never got the chance; his lips met hers again only firmer. The tingle went away, replaced with wetness and pressure. It… didn’t feel bad at all, but, it still felt… weird. Especially weird because it was her first kiss and she had never figured she would have her first kiss with the same boy who had potty trained with her.

She felt his tongue prod her mouth and she pushed him back.

“Dom!” she whispered as forcefully as she could.

“What?” he whispered back.

“What was that?”

“It’s called French kissing…”

“I know what it is, Dominic!” she retorted in a stern voice. “We’re not actually making out, were just supposed to pretend to!”

He was silent again. Then…

“We… we are?”

“Well, duh, Dom! We’re friends, like you said. Or were you just saying that and now you’re going to make fun of me with your friends?”

“I… no, I mean… yeah we’re… I mean no, I’m not going to…” he trailed off.

His hands left her arms and they felt cold from where his sweaty palms had been.

“Time!” yelled voices from the other side of the door.

Kate popped up and almost tripped over Dominic in her haste to get to the door. She breathed a huge sigh of relief after she opened the door. He stood up and rubbed his hands on his jeans. He looked pale and distracted.

“Are you alright?” she asked.

He looked up from the floor and flashed a quick grin, though he still seemed preoccupied. He shrugged.

“Sure. Think I just ate one too many hotdogs at the rink.”

He brushed by her and gave two thumbs up to Andrew. The boys guffawed, making Katelyn flush with embarrassment. She shot them all a furious frown and deliberately sat as far from Dominic as she could. Kandace tilted her head and looked between them then shared a quick look with Demi who rolled her eyes.

“I’m not playing anymore,” Katelyn said.

Her comment was greeted with a mixture of laughter and jeers.

“Hey, don’t make fun of her! She just doesn’t want to tarnish the memory of me,” Dom said with a smirk and traded high-fives with his posse.

“Or you were just that bad,” Kandy teased.

“Ooohh, ouch,” Grace laughed.

Dom glared at her but his grin slipped and he shot a quick look at Katelyn. Kate began to feel bad; it was his birthday after all…

“I’m sorry. I’m just not comfortable kissing strangers. Dom’s a friend so he doesn’t count,” Katelyn said with her chin in the air.

“Ouch,” Grace said again.

Katelyn couldn’t figure out why. Or why Dom was starting to look mad.

“I have to have the car back by midnight, so if we could wrap this up?” Demi half drawled, half whispered. She looked like she could just waste away from ennui. Katelyn had to give her credit, whenever Demi was in a new phase she went whole hog with the part.

The rest of the evening was fairly uneventful, but when she got in bed that night she thought about Dom and how, in retrospect, it was a really nice thing to invite her. She vowed to thank him properly the next day at the family birthday party. The only problem with that was, Dom pretty much avoided her the entire time. And come Monday, he didn’t follow her home. She was both disappointed and relieved. When he continued to avoid her for the next few weeks, she began to think he hadn’t meant it about being friends or she had hurt his feelings. On the third week, instead of reviewing SAT words at lunch with her friend Tracy she wandered over to the cubbie holes where the boys hung out.

“Hi, Dominic,” Kate said shyly. All the boys stared at her with dull eyes. Dom smiled a bit but he looked wary.

“Whatsup?”

“Oh, I was just saying hi.”

The boys started snickering. Katelyn flushed.

“Ok,” Dom said, eyebrows raised.

“Ok,” she replied.

Dom nodded, eyebrows rising even farther. Her flush deepened.

“Actually, I was just wondering if you were going to my Track Meet on Thursday?” Kate threw out, hoping to salvage her pride.

Dom shrugged but his face went back to normal and he sat up a bit.

“If football practice is over, I could maybe stop by,” he said. His friends all went back to looking bored, except the new kid Andrew.

“Are you two going together?” Andrew asked.

“Nah,” Hayden answered for Dom without looking up from his sketch pad. “Dom’s dating Mindy Potanski, where you been?”

Dom nodded but he looked at his shoes. Katelyn’s flush began to feel like the worst sunburn she had ever had. She had been worrying about hurting his feelings and the truth was he was just busy with his new girlfriend. She smiled brightly showing as much teeth as she could without looking like a horse.

“Yeah, we’re just neighbors and friends, right, Dom?” Katelyn replied.

“Right,” Dominic concurred without looking up. He looked bored again and started unfastening and fastening the Velcro on his sneakers.

She thought he maybe even looked a bit sad but figured she was imagining things, because on Thursday—and every Thursday after—he showed up at practice and cheered the loudest.

–Copyright 2013, Genevieve Dewey