Authors: Jolene Perry
Tags: #dating, #rape, #sex, #young adult, #las vegas, #teen pregnancy, #adolescence, #contemporary romance, #virginity, #night sky, #jolene perry
“Good surprise?” I ask.
“Good, because this is pretty much the
biggest thing I had planned.” I step behind Mike as he walks us
through the gate.
She leans up and nearly presses her lips to
my cheek. “Don’t say that until the night is over. You never know
what might happen.” Her lips brush against my ear as she
I can’t even think about what she might be
implying; if I did, I’d drop right on this very spot. And right
now, I’d do anything she asked—anything to feel that electricity
With a whispery giggle, she pulls away.
“Wanna feed them?” Mike asks. He’s digging
around in the buckets he has set aside.
“Sure, just a sec,” Sky says, dropping my
hand to sit on the edge of the pool. The dolphins know Mike means
food, and they swarm, waiting. “Can I touch them?” She turns toward
“Sure, but watch their teeth. They don’t
mean to bite, and they’re usually really gentle, but sometimes they
get overexcited.” He chuckles. They’re his children—these three
“Okay.” She pulls her long hair to the side,
does a quick braid and ties it with one of the leather bracelets
from her wrist. I have no idea why I find this fascinating, but I
can’t take my eyes off her.
She leans dangerously far over the pool
reaching her arm out. I sit on the edge and watch her face fill
with wonder and excitement, each time one of them presses their
nose to her fingers.
“Here,” Mike says, handing her a dead
“Thanks.” She grabs the slimy thing without
hesitation feeding it to the nearest dolphin.
“That’s not gross?” I ask.
She laughs. “I grew up around commercial
fishing. I’ve seen a few dead fish.”
“Oh…” It makes me realize how much we have
to learn about each other.
“This is amazing.” She only has eyes for the
dolphins. “Do you do this often?”
“Not as often as he used to,” Mike answers
She rubs one on the head. “I’d be here all
the time. They’re incredible, aren’t they?” She glances back at me.
Her eyes are bright, and a huge smile lights up her face.
And so are you—more incredible all the
“You’ve really outdone yourself, Jay.” Our
hands are laced together and we’re back to walking the Vegas strip.
Her hair is once again swinging behind her.
“It’s your birthday.”
“Still…” She leans her head against my
shoulder for a moment.
“I’m glad you think so. One more big stop,
and then we can waste the rest of the night doing whatever we
“Then it really wouldn’t be a waste, would
it?” She picks her head up off my shoulder and looks into my
“No, I guess not.” I smile down at the
expression of happiness on her face.
We walk up the strip
together, hand in hand. I’m trying to figure out how to get closer
to her, but I have no idea going on in her head.
Okay, honesty, right?
“What are you thinking about?”
“That I’m glad it’s my birthday and you
didn’t go through all this trouble just because it was our first
date.” She glances at me briefly before her eyes travel to the
lights that seem to come from all sides. I forget how much there is
to look at here. I’ve seen it all so many times.
“Because as much fun as this is, it probably
took a lot of preparation and planning.”
I’m supposed to downplay here, right?
“A lot,” she insists. “I guess I want you to
know that just being with you…next to your pool…something that
wasn’t planned at all…was also awesome.”
“I really, really want to kiss you right now.” I pull her to
a stop on the sidewalk, forcing people to walk around
“Now, you’re just trying to score points.”
She shakes her head.
“Surely, I’ve earned enough.” I smile
“Oh, you’ve earned enough, but now we have
to find a good moment—one that’s planned, but not planned. It needs
to be a moment when we both feel like we’ll go crazy if we can’t
kiss the other.”
I lean closer and whisper. “I’m already
there, so I guess I’ll wait for you.”
She laughs, dismissing me as I open the
doors of the Paris Hotel.
“Jameson! Found a replacement for me
already?” Kim smiles wide, a drink tray in hand.
“Nice.” I laugh and keep walking. I realize
there’s no way Sky didn’t hear or see the smile Kim had for me…but
I’m not sure how to explain her to Sky.
“Who’s that?” Sky asks, glancing over her
shoulder at Kim.
“My mom works here, and that’s her shameless
flirt of a co-worker.” Is that enough information to satisfy her
It’s well after midnight as I lead Sky into
a room with the big money tables.
Mom catches my eye, and sets the drinks
she’s carrying down carefully. She makes small talk with some of
the high stakes gamblers before she’s able to make her way to
“Hey, sweetie.” Mom says flashing the same
professional smile she uses on everyone. It’s her work face, and
it’s a good one.
I can tell Sky’s surprised as she takes in
“Glad you two made it. Are you ready?”
“Paul will meet you over there in a minute.”
Mom looks back and forth between our faces a few too many times for
comfort. “I’m glad you’re out having fun.”
“Thanks,” Sky says, her eyes fixed on Mom’s
“See you tomorrow,” I say.
“It’s after midnight. I’ll see you later on
today.” Mom winks. Very few people can get away with winking, but
Mom’s one of them.
“So, why do we need Paul?” Sky asks.
“We won’t need him if
you’re afraid of heights.” I lean toward her again.
Am I pushing it? Maybe.
“I’m not afraid of heights.” Her face turns
toward mine, and now we’re so close, it almost puts our noses
“Or fish…or being naked in
a stranger’s yard…or being honest…”
kiss you now?
“Let me rephrase.” She pulls away. “I’m
afraid of a lot of things, but I choose to do them anyway.”
“So, you’re brave.” We’re walking upright
again. I’m watching her face closely, even though she’s simply
looking ahead. I’m trying to get better at reading her, at knowing
what she’s thinking. She’s so smooth and fluid in everything she
does, in her expressions, her movements, her speech…it’s nearly
impossible to know what’s on her mind. Fortunately, she normally
tells me…or it seems like she does.
“I…” she pauses, her brows pull together as
“Hey, Jameson. You two ready for a ride up?”
Paul asks, waiting at the elevator.
“Definitely,” I answer.
We reach the top of the
Eiffel Tower and we’re alone.
Just like I
hoped. Just like I planned.
down, with the promise that we’ll be able to get ourselves back
down without him.
“So, now I know the planned kiss moment.”
Sky looks over her shoulder at me as I follow her out of the
Do I come off sounding as innocent as I want
“Alone, at the top of the
Eiffel Tower, overlooking Las Vegas…city lights in every direction.
It’s pretty ideal. You were right to save this for last.” She
smirks nodding in approval.
Does this mean
she’s okay with it?
“Well, just so you don’t
feel this is overly contrived, I actually hoped for a kiss as soon
as I picked you up, or maybe after the meal. Or with the
Maybe if I tease her too, I can
“Stop.” She laughs a little. “I don’t want
to feel like all of this was just to get a kiss.”
“All of this was to see the smile on your
face when you were holding those slimy fish.” And there’s actually
more truth to that, than there is about the kiss—but, just
She laughs, a real one this time, but her
face falls when our eyes meet again. “I really like you, Jay, but I
don’t want to be the girl who just helps you get over Sarah.” It’s
the first time I’ve seen her look vulnerable.
“You’re not.” I shake my head. I want to
feel our lips together again, our mouths together again.
“You wouldn’t know, Jameson.” She shakes her
head almost imperceptibly, and leans against the metal grating that
keeps people from jumping or falling over the ledge.
“I know how I feel.” Like I want to hold
her…touch her…kiss her. I step closer.
“How’s that?” Her hands are on the railing
behind her, holding on.
“Like I can talk to you. Tell you things. I
want to be honest with you, in everything.”
“Do you still hurt? Here?” she asks, putting
her hand on my chest.
“A little, but not when
She squeezes her eyes
tight. “Then you
using me, Jay. You don’t mean to…but you are.”
“I don’t want to.” I take
her face in my hands. “I want to enjoy this feeling you give
me…just by being around you.”
believe how brave I am. She feels like silk—her cheeks, the wisps
of her hair touching my hands.
“How’s that?” There’s no smirk or tease on
her face at all. Even with her angles, she looks so soft.
“Like I’m flying.” I smile and tilt my face
closer to hers. Close enough that I can feel her breath on my face.
“Like I’m flying through the night sky because I have no idea what
the hell I’m doing, but I can’t get enough of you.”
I don’t ask her this time. I press our lips
together, and she kisses me back. My arms slide down her shoulders,
down her arms, around her waist, deepening our kiss. Then I pull
her against me. It’s even better than I imagined. It feels like
we’re on top of the world—our lips together, our bodies together.
And it’s just me and Sky…just us…only us…Sky and Jameson. Because
Sky and Jameson go together; and we’re awesome.
I don’t see Mom or Dad on
Saturday. I sleep in and I don’t know what their work schedules are
like, but they’re both gone when I wake up. Sky’s gone for the
week—back in Alaska to visit her mom for UNLV’s spring break. I
could have seen her before she left this morning, but I’m afraid of
pushing things too far, too fast.
I totally want to speed things
up, but I really like her and I don’t want to scare her away
We’ll talk while she’s gone this
week and it’ll give us a chance to get excited about being together
again…and kissing again…and putting my arms around her
I spend Saturday night
I listen to music as loud as I want. I swim in the pool and
eat potato chips for dinner.
Sunday is all about relaxing, even though
that’s what I did on Saturday. I stretch when I get out of bed and
decide to head straight for the pool.
I should have checked the
“Hey, Mom.” I shout to catch her attention
as she swims.
“Oh hey, Jay.” The tone of her voice sets me
“What’s up?” I sit, letting my legs rest in
Whatever it is, she doesn’t want to tell me,
she’s moving too slowly. She takes off her goggles and slides out
of the pool to sit next to me.
“Your dad moved out,” she says, staring at
There’s going to be an earthquake, right? Or an
explosion…or something…Dad can’t just leave… he’s… Dad. How could
he go without talking to me first? Is he gone for good?
I can feel the muscles in my body begin to
tighten, one by one.
“I’m not going to relax! Where the hell is
he?” I want to stand up and scream at the top of my lungs, but that
won’t help Mom any.
“I don’t know. He…” she stares down at her
I have never seen Mom look so small. She’s
like this tower of “Mom-ness.” I don’t know…she’s always strong. I
don’t even know what happened, and I want to punch Dad in the face.
Because I love my dad, but Mom…I don’t know…I don’t know…. I can’t
even control my thoughts long enough to form a complete
“He had an affair. He’s…” And I wait for her
to finish, but she can’t…not right now.
My mind is reeling,
, is he?” Is he one of those pathetic
men who trades in his wife for a younger model then starts a whole
new family? I don’t want any of this! Why did this have to happen
to my family? My stomach turns over.
doesn’t want us anymore. He doesn’t want me anymore.
Mom takes a deep breath. This means she’s
about to go into business mode. “I’ve asked to be taken off the
floor, so I can resume working in the casino office. This way, I’ll
be able to have regular hours again.”
“Mom.” I put my arm around her. I don’t want
her in business mode, not yet.
“I just thought it would be easier, if my
schedule was more normal.” She sniffs once.
normal… for us.” A
weight settles on my shoulders, pulling me down. I need to take
care of Mom.
And then I feel it. She
shakes. It’s the sound of her heart breaking because of my asshole
father. It takes all my strength to just sit still. I don’t want to
feel helpless…but I do feel helpless. I don’t know how to take care
of Mom. Maybe she doesn’t need taking care of. My fists clench
Dad is gone
My head won’t stop