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Afia, Stacy and Tania, grateful for the final bell, burst through the front doors of Rockville High excitedly. It was only two more weeks of school. This week was prom, next week was finals and then graduation. Tania, who just got asked to prom, needed a dress to wear and they decided to take the next bus out of town to head to Providence to help her go dress shopping. They chatted as they bounced down the stone steps and Afia happened to glance up and see him. Her heart leaped.
“Connor!” she squealed. Her 19 year old best friend was leaning on a brand new 2003 dark blue Ford Taurus waiting for her. He flipped his classic white Kangol hat to the side as she ran up and jumped in his arms.
Connor lifted her off her feet in a hug and spun her around. “There’s my girl!”
This was the only face he was eagar to see when he flew up from North Carolina earlier this morning. When he put her down she held onto him a bit longer and promptly kissed him on the lips, making him smile. Stacy and Tania caught up.
“Hey Connor,” they both said respectively and gave him hugs.
“What are you doing here?” Afia asked. “You’re supposed to be hours away on a military base.”
“What else, I’m here to take you to prom, girl!” Connor said with a smile.
Her mouth dropped. “Connor I…” She looked at her friends, then back at him. “Raymond asked me last week and I kinda told him yes.”
“Well you gonna have to go back and kinda tell him your man is back in town and it’s a no,” he said smugly.
Afia resisted the urge to roll her eyes as her two friends squealed. “How romantic!” Tania purred.
“C’mon,” he said to her, “I haven’t seen anyone yet and my dad lent me this car from the dealership for the week. I want to go see Winter and Mina.”
“And Jack?” Afia asked innocently.
“Yeah sure,” Connor said casually, but he absentmindedly looked up and searched the campus with his eyes before he looked back at her with a smile. “C’mon.” He opened up the passenger side door for her.
But Afia said, “Wait. We’re supposed to go shopping with Tania in Providence. I don’t want to leave my girls hanging.”
“Oh em gee Afia, you haven’t seen your boyfriend in almost a year, just go with him,” Stacy commanded her.
Connor cut her off. “How about you all get in the car and I take you to Providence? I don’t mind shopping with the ladies.”
The girls laughed. “If you’re sure it’s okay,” said Stacy as she already made her way to the back car door.
Connor reached over and opened it for her. “I’m sure, get in.”
Stacy and Tania happily bounced into the backseat. Afia kissed Connor on the cheek before she too entered the vehicle. Connor closed the door and walked around the car to his side and happened to glance up one more time, and this time he spotted him. And by the look on Jack’s face, he knew Jack spotted him first. Connor did a small wave and Jack smiled and waved back. Then Connor motioned for him to come over. Jack looked hesitant but Liam, his best friend, nudged him along. Both boys walked over.
Hey, Connor!” Liam said excitedly. He reached out with his hand and Connor did the same; they connected, then moved in to bump shoulders together in a manly hug. Connor then reached out behind him and did the same to Jack. “What are you doing here?”
“I came to take Afia to prom,” Connor said. He glanced at Jack then looked at Liam. “How’s the Tigers doing without me?” he asked.
“Ah man, it’s just not the same since you, Rick and Sam graduated last year. We did okay but we didn’t make Division. You were the best third baseman this school ever had, nobody got past you,” Liam said, praising his old teammate.
“Yeah, I kinda was,” Connor said smugly. Jack rolled his eyes as Liam laughed. “Hey you need a ride?”
“I have practice, so I’m going that way.” Liam pointed toward the field, then smiled knowingly at Jack before he gave Connor another manly hug. “It’s good to see you, man. Let’s catch up before you head back.”
“Yeah definitely,” he told his friend. Then he turned to Jack. “You want me to drop you off?”
“Nah, it’s okay. I can walk.”
Before Connor could respond, Afia yelled from inside the car, “Get in the car, Jack!”
Jack smiled at their collective friend, as Connor opened the car door. Stacy and Tania made room in the back for him. Connor got in the driver’s side and took off, driving the mile and a half to Jack’s family orchard farm. The girls immediately began chatting about dress styles.
“So, how you been?” Connor asked him, catching his green eyes through the rearview mirror.
“I’m good. You? The Marines treating you alright?” Jack asked him.
“Yeah man, I’m good. Can’t complain.”
They continued to glance at each other through the mirror as the ladies took no notice. Connor pulled into the driveway and Jack immediately got out. He turned to the car and said to him, “Thanks, man.”
“No problem. It was good Ataşehir Escort to see you, Jack.”
Jack smiled his dimpled smile at Connor, making his heart pound a little faster. “Good to see you too, Connor,” he said before he disappeared into his house.
Connor turned the car around and headed back on the road. He glanced over to find Afia watching him intently. She reached over to his right hand that was not on the steering wheel and laced her brown fingers with his white skinned ones. He smiled at her, then turned back to the road to drive the 30 minutes into Providence.
Connor sat to the side perusing through a magazine as Tania tried on dress after dress. At one point Stacy went in the dressing room with her and Afia came over to Connor to sit next to him. He draped his arm around her and she leaned into his shoulder. She said quietly to her best friend, “So on a scale of 1-10, how awkward was it seeing your ex-boyfriend?”
He chuckled. “Not as awkward as I thought it was going to be. Maybe a 6. Maybe 7.” She smiled at him. Then he asked casually, “Is he seeing anyone?”
“Uh-hmm. A college guy. He comes around sometimes.”
Connor nodded. “Good for him. I hope it works out.”
Afia nudged him. “And you? Are you seeing someone yet?”
“C’mon. You know I’ve been celibate since I left here. Winter was the last person I was with. And I don’t really want a relationship right now.”
“You don’t have to be in a relationship, Connor. I just want to make sure that you’re.. You know… making yourself happy.”
“I’m happy here with you, Lovie Dovey,” Connor teased her with his pet name for her.
“Ugh, don’t call me that,” she moaned. “Someone like me can’t make you happy the way someone like Jack can.”
“Well considering I slept with a lot of girls and one guy, maybe I’m still trying to figure out what I want. But in the meantime, I’m just chillin.” He wanted to change the subject. “So what’s up with you and Raymond? You’re going for jocks now?”
He flipped her shoulder length dark brown hair in amusement. “Well, he’s been trying to get me to break up with my ‘boyfriend-‘ ” She put the word in air quotes, “for months now. Saying long distance relationships do not work, and I need someone that is present and available.”
Connor chuckled again. “Well he’s not wrong. Maybe we should break up. Make it nice and public before I leave again. That way you’ll be free to do what you want.”
“I’ve always been free to do what I want,” said Afia. “I wanted to protect you. That was my choice and I don’t regret it, even now.”
“Yes but now you have a chance at a real relationship, with someone who is not hiding his bisexuality from everyone. So take the chance. I’m giving you an out here, Lovie.”
Afia lifted her head from his shoulder and looked into his bright blue eyes. “Maybe I don’t want out.”
They stared at each other, then he caressed her almond colored cheek. Tania broke their contact with a squeal. “This is it!!” She paraded in front of them in a dark purple spaghetti strapped dress and accentuated her french vanilla colored skin.
Connor nodded his approval. “You’re right. It’s perfect. You look good, girl!”
Tania blushed a smile at Connor, then felt bad about having a crush on her friend’s boyfriend. Afia pretended not to notice her reaction. Girls typically were attracted to the blond haired, blue eyed boy. Instead she turned back to Connor. “Are you wearing your Marine uniform?”
“I can if you want me to.”
“I want you to. With the dark pants and the red stripe.”
He smiled. “Hat to match?”
“Of course, we have to complete the look,” she said back with a smile.
Connor arrived exactly at 8pm with blue corsage flowers. Afia’s older sister Anika answered the door. “Hi Connor.” She gave him a hug and then yelled up the stairs as she let him in, “Afia, your boyfriend’s here!”
Afia’s parents, Doctors Adam and Alexis Williamson were both present for the special occasion, cameras ready. They took pictures of Connor and asked politely how Connor’s family was doing. Even though Afia and Connor have been friends since they were 14 and 15 years old, and “dating” since Connor’s senior year of high school last year, the Williamsons and the McIntyres don’t have any contact with each other as they couldn’t be more different. Connor comes from a very consevative Irish Catholic family and Afia’s African American family is Lutheran and more liberal. His dad owns a car dealership and his mother is a stay at home mom. Her father owns a small pharmacy and her mother is a neonatal surgeon.
Connor was chatting with Afia’s father when she came downstairs, wearing a blood red strapless, sweetheart shaped dress that pushed up her small breasts, which opened high in the front showing off her long legs and scaffolded down long in the back, with charlie blue high heels to match his pants, making her 5’8 frame closer to his height at 6 feet. Her long hair which usually has some Anadolu Yakası Escort frizz to it was completely straight, with a part right down the middle and flowed around her heart shaped face. He could tell she was wearing makeup but it was natural looking. The whole ensemble brought out the red undertones in her almond colored skin that was shiny and glowing.
“Holy shit,” Connor said breathlessly. He had seen Afia dressed up before but nothing like this. Realizing his slight, he turned to her father with wide eyes and said, “Sorry sir, I didn’t mean to curse, it’s just that…”
He turned back to Afia who smiled at him as she reached the bottom of the stairs. “There’s the reaction I wanted.”
Connor picked his mouth off the floor to lean in for a small kiss on her cheek, saying in her ear, “You’re fucking gorgeous, Lovie.”
Afia smiled and blushed, a little red showing up on her brown skin. She held out her hand and he put the corsage on her right wrist, then turned around so her family could take pictures. For some reason he found himself nervous around his best friend, the one he chased off racist bullies from hurting her at 14; the girl who wore braces until she was 15; the girl he came out to as bi at 16 and she immediately protected him from his homophobic family by pretending to be his girlfiend; the girl who he took to his prom just last year at 17 that wore a simple black cocktail dress. Ten months went by without seeing each other and suddenly his best friend is an 18 year old beautiful woman. He had no idea how to think or feel.
“You’re ready?” she said to him, pulling him out of his thoughts.
“Yeah, sure,” he said casually, although he felt anything but casual.
He took her hand in his and felt it was a little sweaty, and knew his best friend was nervous too. He led her to her seat and got on the road to the banquet hall, the one and only one they had in all of Rockville, where prom was just getting underway. He glanced at her a couple of times, then started to giggle. “What?” she asked him.
“You could have warned me, you know.”
She looked at him confused. “Warned you about what?”
“That you were gonna, you know… look like that.”
“You mean, look nice?” she asked him incredulously.
“You look more than nice, Afia, you look…” he glanced at her again then said, “Oh my God.”
“What is your problem?”
“I don’t have a problem, I’m just saying, you didn’t look this nice for my prom last year.”
“Fuck you Connor, I did look this nice, maybe you didn’t notice,” she said, now annoyed with him. “Dumb ass,” she added for good measure.
“I didn’t mean it like that, I just meant-“
“Shut the fuck up, Connor.” She crossed her arms and then her one leg over the other and scowled. Truthfully she wanted to look nice for him, for him to finally see her as more than just his friend Afia.
On Wednesday when he showed up at the school saying he was taking her to prom she knew what she was going to do. She had her big sister take her back to the dress shop where they bought the green dress she planned to wear and exchange it for the red one she saw on the mannequin, the one she admired at first but didn’t think she would ever be pretty enough to pull off. She begged their friend Winter, who was currently at Cosmetology school, to do her hair and makeup. She scrubbed herself raw, and picked and pulled every loose hair on her body, all this for him. And his initial reaction, his light blue eyes wide with shock, mouth falling open, was everything she wanted. And here he goes ruining it with his big mouth.
They were quiet for a moment as Connor glanced over at her thigh. He wanted to reach over and touch it. No, he wanted to reach over and lick it. Stop it Connor, he told himself. He couldn’t believe he was having sexual feelings for his best friend.
“I’m sorry, Afia. I’m not trying to be an asshole-“
“Well you’re doing a really bad job at it so try harder,” she snapped at him.
He smiled at her. There’s his girl. “Okay, you’re right, I’m being a dumb ass. I was just surprised, that’s all. I meant what I said, you’re fucking gorgous. You’ve always been beautiful, you know that. You just stepped it up times ten tonight and I’m looking average right now.”
“Oh, is that what you’re worried about sweetheart, that I’m flyer than you right now?” she asked amusingly.
“Yes,” he said laughing. “You know I’m the prettiest one in any room I stand in.” They giggled together. “But it’s okay tonight because it’s your night. And I’m just here to make it the best night you’ve ever had.”
Afia was quiet for a moment, then said, “I’m going to hold you to that.”
The theme this year was Midnight In Paris, so there was lots of gold Eiffel Towers and crystals everywhere, against a starry backdrop. They took their initial couple’s picture and headed inside the large decorated room. The tables were on the side and the dance floor was in Kartal Escort the middle of the room, with a DJ on the stage playing the most popular music of the day. All eyes were on them as they entered, Afia in her striking red dress and Connor in his Marine uniform. Stacy came up to her with her date Max right behind her.
“Afia! That is not what we picked out!” she scolded playfully. “Are you trying to upstage me tonight, getting the votes for Prom Queen?” Afia laughed and the two women hugged then she took her hand. “Tania and Evan aren’t here yet. We’re sitting with Jack and Kyle.”
Afia still holding onto Connor’s hand as she was being pulled along turned to him and mouthed, You okay with that?
He nodded and shrugged, but his mouth went a little dry knowing he was going to be around Jack again. And with good reason. As they came closer Jack, who was in mid laughter at whatever his boyfriend had said, stopped abruptly and awkwardly stood up. He wore all black, and his messy black hair finally seemed to lay flatter giving him more of a sexy Harry Potter sans glasses look than the Edward from Twilight look he typically has. His green eyes were unblinking as Connor and Afia walked toward them, making Connor’s heart beat faster. Jack will always be the most beautiful boy in the world to him.
Kyle looked at him then at their guests and stood up as well, assuming it was for the women. Jack tore his eyes away from Connor to say, “Afia, you look stunning!” He came over to hug her. He leaned back and looked her up and down and said, “Daaaaaamn, girl!”
“Shut up,” she said coyly. They laughed and hugged again.
“You look stunning too,” Connor said quietly.
Jack smiled his sideways dimpled smile at him. “Thanks man, you too.” He reached for a hug and Connor gave him one, but let go quickly.
Kyle came over to give Afia a hug too. “You do look beautiful, hun.”
Connor got a chance to get a good look at him. He was about Jack’s height at 5’10 but much skinner and a bit geeky looking. Not his type, Connor thought as he himself bulked up while in the military, getting more defined in his arms and chest area with a six pack to match. He decided to play nice for the sake of both his friends. He reached out his hand for a shake and said, “Hi, I’m Connor.”
“Kyle,” he greeted him with a handshake back. “Nice to meet you, Connor. I’ve heard your name a lot from Jack, Afia and Mina mostly. Mina and are in the same biology classes at the University and she is always talking about her best friend Connor who is a Marine.”
“Glad to hear I’m still famous,” Connor said smugly.
“More like infamous,” Stacy said, rolling her eyes and sitting next to Max. Tania and her date joined them shortly and the four couples settled at their table making small talk.
Connor kept trying to catch Jack’s eye but typical Jack would not look at him again. He took notice how Kyle, obviously comfortable in his sexuality, constantly touched and doted on Jack and how Jack leaned into him. They weren’t overly affectionate with each other but it was obvious they were together. He felt a pang of guilt because he knew this was all Jack wanted, to be out in the open with his partner, and it was the one thing Connor could never give him. They were secretly together for over a year until Jack broke it off midway through Connor’s senior year, mostly because Jack didn’t want to pretend anymore. Everyone knew Jack was gay since he was 15 years old but no one could ever know about Connor’s attraction to boys. If word ever got back to his family, he feared with his life what his homophobic and abusive father would do to him.
Afia, sensing Connor’s thoughts, leaned over and kissed his lips. “Dance with me.” He smiled at her and let her lead him to the dance floor.
There were many things that solidified Afia and Connor’s friendship, and music and dancing was definitely two of them. They danced and sang all the lyrics to their favorite songs, from Hey Ya by Outkast to Are You Gonna Be My Girl by Jet at the top of their lungs. He quickly forgot about Jack and Kyle and focused on showing Afia a good time, as promised. They grabbed food from the buffet, then Afia kicked off her shoes and he took off his Marines coat and they really got down on the dance floor.
After a while Connor went back to the table to take a breather. Jack happened to be there but he did not look up from his date’s conversation. Then Connor heard Kyle say, “I’m going to grab some more potatoes, those things are phenomenal!”
Jack laughed as Kyle leaned in to peck his lips, then got up to head to the buffet. Jack looked around everywhere but at Connor across from him.
“He seems nice,” Connor said casually.
“Yea, he’s great,” Jack said, still avoiding his eyes.
“Doesn’t seem your type though.”
Jack finally looked up to see Connor’s smug smile. “What’s my type, Con?”
Connor shrugged. “Jock. Blond. Taller. Hot.” He winked at him.
He nodded. “You know what else my type is? Available. Out.”
That wiped the smile off Connor’s face. “You had to go there?”
“I know what you’re after and you’re not getting it from me,” said Jack. “I told you, we’re friends. I’m your friend for life and I always will be. But we’ll never be more than that, ever again.”
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