Chapter Three

Chapter Three
Friday Night Fights (MTS Version -_^)

A few days later, Chris still teased Orlando about finding Gretchen’s…private entertainment.

“Look,” Orlando began as they were walking into Dr. Drew’s philosophy class, “the girl is entitled to do whatever she wants in her…private time. I’m not going to dwell on it.”

Chris guffawed. “So why is it that when you stare at the girl you go red?”

At that moment, Orlando went red again. “It still lingers, mate,” he explained in a strained voice.

Chris began to laugh. “It’ll always linger. Next thing you know, you’ll be having wet dreams about it.”

Exasperated, Orlando threw a paper ball at him, but that didn’t stop his laughter. Just when Orlando had had enough, Chris stopped him before they could walk into the classroom with a sober expression on his face.

“Okay mate, I’m sorry for messing you about,” he said. “It was all in good fun.”

“It’s only fun when I think it’s funny, too,” Orlando insisted.

“So I’ll quit,” Chris promised. “But tell me honestly. Are you embarrassed to be around Gretchen?”

Orlando thought a second before answering. “Well… How would you feel if you discovered something like that about someone you just met? I mean, I didn’t think she would be the kind of person who would have a…sex toy.”

“See, that’s the thing, mate. You can’t judge Gretchen by her outward appearance. Tell me, what did you think of her when you met her?”

Orlando shrugged, and took his mind back to that day over a week ago. “I thought she was cute. And that she looked very young. And fragile. Very fragile.”

Chris lifted a finger as if to make a point. “And that is where you went wrong. Gretchen is not fragile. Just because she’s young, it doesn’t mean she’s fragile. She’s stronger than you think.” Then he added, as laughter bubbled up, “She thinks she doesn’t need a man, mate.”

“Doesn’t need a man?” Orlando blurted. “What is she a feminist?”

Chris just looked at him.

“Seriously?” Orlando asked. “You mean all that talk about the ERA and running me out with a frying pan wasn’t for show?” Chris shook her head. “Well. Thanks for warning me, mate.”

“They’re not that bad,” Chris assured him. “Though Gretchen personally has had trouble with her boyfriends. Apparently”—he leaned in to say this next part—“they’ve all cheated on her.”

“No,” Orlando said in disbelief.

“Yes,” Chris affirmed. “Not that I believe that taking her out on a good date will cure her of her feminist sensibilities. But a girl does need a snog with a good bloke every now and again.”

Orlando’s eyebrows knitted together as Dr. Drew came jauntily down the hall. They walked into the classroom and sat down. “Are you saying…?”

“I’m not saying a bleeding thing,” Chris insisted. “But do take care of my little Twinkle Toes if you decide to take her out on town.”

Orlando was so stunned that he didn’t notice as Dr. Drew came inside the room and gave his normal greeting: “What is philosophy?”

“The love of wisdom,” the class chorused.

Meanwhile, Orlando uncapped his pen and tried to get into this love of wisdom. But he found himself thinking about a dark-haired girl with man problems despite all his efforts.

* * *

That Friday night, the girls came over to Chris and Orlando’s new apartment for dinner. Chris was making spaghetti since Samantha declared she wasn’t setting one foot in the kitchen, but Gretchen offered to make croissants. This left Orlando and Samantha, who now had faintly pink hair, in the living room together watching Jackie Brown on basic cable. Samantha picked up on Orlando’s silence and plopped down next to him.

“Orlando, you’ve been quiet,” Samantha observed. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.” Considering it a moment, Orlando turned to Samantha and asked, “Samantha, do you hate men?”

Samantha blinked repeatedly for a few moments before responding. “Do I hate men? What brought this on?”

Orlando shrugged. “Just thought I’d ask.”

“What made you want to know something like that?”

Orlando’s expression indicated that he’d be hard-pressed to verbalize a reason at the moment.

“Well, fine. Since you asked.” Samantha picked up her beer and sipped on it. “No, I don’t hate men. I think they’re exasperating and stupid for the most part but I don’t hate them.” She grinned at him and gave him a little nudge. “But I like some men.”

“Aw,” Orlando said with mock sheepishness. “You like me.”

Samantha giggled as Chris and Gretchen brought in the food from the kitchen. They placed the large bowl of pasta mixed with sauce and the croissants on the coffee table Chris had found somewhere. Due to its usefulness and the invention of all-purpose cleaner with bleach, no one wanted to know where it came from and didn’t ask.

Gretchen, as she rounded the coffee table, brushed Orlando’s leg. They locked eyes and a blush crept up on Gretchen’s cheeks. Samantha and Chris couldn’t help but notice.

“Oh for pete’s sake,” Chris snapped. “Why don’t the two of you just get it on already? I’m sick and tired of this blushing business.”

“What?” Gretchen cried defensively. “Nothing happened.”

“Exactly my bloody point,” Chris shot back. He pulled Gretchen down beside Orlando and squeezed himself on the other side of her so that she couldn’t move. “Now there. If you can’t get used to each other now, you’re both nutcases.”

Gretchen huffed but said nothing. Samantha and Chris grabbed a plate and started to pile high. Gretchen turned to Orlando with an apologetic smile and he smiled back. He reached for a plate and gave it to her.

“Thanks,” she said at the gesture. He took a plate for himself and in that moment, the embarrassment drained from Gretchen’s body.

“You know,” Samantha began after a swallow of food, “I got a call from Mom the other day.”

“Aunt Rebecca?” Gretchen’s mind was off of Orlando now, who was putting pasta on his plate. “What did she want?”

Samantha sighed and shook her head. “I am not quite sure, and that scares me. She sounded all…happy. And she wants us to…” She scrunched up her face as if she had just finished with a sour lemon. “Come home.”

“The horror!” Chris cried in mock terror. Samantha grabbed a throw pillow and hit him with it.

“Shut up, Chris,” Samantha snapped. “This could be serious. Something’s going on, Gretchen.”

“Well, consider what happened…” Gretchen paused before she finished the sentence, remembering that she hadn’t told Chris about Thanksgiving dinner at home. “Well, you know.”

Chris’s eyes darted from Samantha to Gretchen. “Um, what happened?”

“A little fight at the dinner table,” Samantha replied, looking uncomfortable. “It kinda shook everyone up, that’s all. It happens with our family. A lot.”

Chris seemed to be satisfied with that answer, but Orlando was confused. “There was a fight during your family’s Thanksgiving dinner?” he asked.

“No big deal,” Gretchen assured him with forced nonchalance. “It happens a lot in my family. Especially with Jessica.”

Chris nodded vigorously. “Oh Jessica. Now that’s a lady you don’t want to piss off.” He swallowed hugely. “I remember the first moment I met her.” He shook his head in remembrance. “I thought I was going to lose my balls.”

Orlando’s eyebrows quirked and he nearly choked on spaghetti. “Come again?”

“That wasn’t as bad as the time she thought you’d said that there shouldn’t be any women in politics,” Samantha recalled. “Now that was a scary moment.”

“Scary, indeed,” Chris agreed. “But I wouldn’t change that woman for the world.”

“And you’re fond of this woman?” Orlando inquired. “Even though she threatened to emasculate you?”

“Like she’s my own flesh and blood,” Chris responded.

Orlando shook his head in disbelief. “I suppose that’s something I don’t understand.”

“You’ll get it when you meet her, mate,” Chris said. “She’s a hard nut to crack, but once you do, she’s the coolest woman in the free world.”

Orlando found himself looking at Samantha, Gretchen, and Chris’s faces. “And when do I get the honor of meeting this woman?”

“Well, from what it sounds like, probably soon,” Samantha told him. “I’ve got a feeling that Mom’s gonna ask us home for Spring Break.” She shuddered. “Oh God.”

“It won’t be so bad,” Chris said. “Besides, I, for one, cannot wait to get another sample of Mrs. Smith’s pecan shortbread cookies. They make a bloke want to sit up—”

She hit him with the pillow again, causing Gretchen to choke a little from laughter. “Shut up. You are so lewd…”

“I am not!” Chris insisted. He grabbed a pillow and hit her with it. “So there. You need to stop hitting me.”

Because he upset her plate, Samantha glowered and threw the pillow hoping to hit her in the face. Unfortunately, it ended up hitting Gretchen’s hand and nearly upsetting her plate. Gretchen’s eyes widened.

“Uh oh,” muttered Chris.

Pause.

“PILLOW FIGHT!” Gretchen bellowed.

The plates were discarded for throw pillows. For three whole minutes, squeals and laughter filled the room as the quartet pelted each other with pillows. Chris called for a time out as Samantha hit him in the face—what he called a cheap shot—and the fight ended.

They all collapsed to the ground, breathless and happy.

“Shall we do this again next Friday?” Orlando asked.

“Sure,” Gretchen agreed. “But next time, let’s just make sure we don’t have a pillow fight over dinner.”

backhomenext

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