“Ruby,” Emma was pale and she looked sick. “I need help.”
Ruby’s eyes widened and she pulled Emma under the bleachers. “What is it? What happened?”
“I need…” she looked sick. “I need to get an abortion.”
Ruby covered her face. “God, Emma. What the fuck? Seriously?”
Emma was shaking. “I don’t know what to do, or where to go, or how, and maybe I should just get into a fight with Bruce and make him punch me in the stomach, but I’m fucking pregnant, and my mom is going to kill me if she finds out.”
“Why aren’t you on birth control?” Ruby snapped at her. “Are you stupid?”
“I couldn’t get it without my mom finding out. And if she found out I was having sex—”
“You think this is better?”
“My mom isn’t your Granny! She didn’t sit me down when I got my period and tell me that I could fuck around as much as I wanted.”
“Oh she did not tell me that. She told me that if I got pregnant, she’d disown me. And that if I needed STD medication, I was paying for it myself. And then she showed me how to put on a condom and gave me a prescription for pills and told me not to fuck up my life.”
“Well I didn’t get that! My mom gave me a hug and told me I was a woman and that someday I would get married and have babies, and I wanted to vomit. And then she gave me that look – the one that’s like ‘you’re perfect, and you had better not do anything to make me think you’re not, or I’ll eat your brain with a spoon.’”
“Your mom is kind of scary,” Ruby said. “But, seriously, how did this happen? It’s Neal’s, right?”
“I don’t really remember. I think, maybe, that night at Lacey’s pool party back in the summer. I got blackout drunk, and maybe the condom broke and I was going to get a morning after, but forgot?”
“Maybe,” Ruby made a face. And maybe it wasn’t Neal’s. She remembered that night all too well, because there had been spin the bottle, and then truth or dare, and she’d made out with Lacey until she’d tried to get under her bra, and Lacey had pushed her in the pool. Then she’d let Derek fuck her over the arm of the sofa. Odette had walked in on them and freaked out, and Ruby had been a little sorry about fucking her boyfriend, and offered to eat her out, because she wasn’t terrifying like Lacey, and Ruby kind of wanted to try it. Odette had slapped her and run off in tears, and it had been kind of a shitty night all around. But she definitely remembered Emma sitting in Neal’s lap during spin the bottle, and kissing Killian and touching his junk, before they all disappeared upstairs, and Ruby really doubted Emma had been sober enough to even think about condoms.
“I don’t know what to do.”
“Hey, hey.” Ruby put her arms around Emma and pulled her into a hug. “It’s all right. We’ll get an appointment and I’ll cut school and drive you to Boston, okay? Lacey said there’s a clinic there that her sister goes to like all the time.”
“Lacey’s a hooker,” Emma muttered into her shoulder.
“All the more reason she’d know these things.”
* * *
Ruby caught up with Lacey smoking out by the football field, after classes ended. Lacey gave her a look, then offered her a drag, and Ruby dropped down next to her and took it. The nicotine was soothing. If she was stressed about this, Emma must be a mess.
“You look like shit,” Lacey said.
“Yeah, well.” Ruby wrinkled her nose. “What’s the number of the abortion clinic in Boston that your sister goes to?”
Lacey’s eyes widened and she gave Ruby a once over that was almost as sexy as it was surprised.
“Not me,” Ruby hissed. “Emma. Probably at your last pool party.”
“Ohhh,” Lacey nodded, and then grimaced. “There was so much gunk in those sheets, I knew it couldn’t end well.”
Ruby raised an eyebrow. “Two guys, no condoms…”
“And a shit ton of lube. I’m pretty sure there was a lot of first time anal going on there. But then, Neal always struck me as a bottom.”
Ruby grimaced. “Maybe it’s good Emma was blackout drunk that night.”
“I’m sure having your boy in you and having him screaming out the name of the guy hammering him is something you totally want to forget.”
Lacey gave her a sly grin. “After you tried to get to second base I grabbed Phil for a round. Had to walk past that room. It was gross.”
“Phil?” Ruby wrinkled her nose. “He’s nothing. I could’ve—”
Lacey pressed a finger to her mouth. “Nuh uh. I don’t fuck girls.”
“Lame.” Ruby rolled her eyes. “You kiss them like you want to.”
Lacey shrugged. “I like kissing. And girls are better at it than boys. But I just don’t see the point of fucking without a cock. Unlike you, clearly. Dyke.”
“Shut up.” Ruby elbowed her in the side. Then she took the offered drag.
“I’ll text you the number,” Lacey said. “She got enough cash?” Lacey stuck her fingers down her bra and came out with a fat wad of hundreds. “I just got paid for the month.”
Ruby made a face. Lacey got paid for hooking up with a rich old dude who lived in the north of town. Purportedly, she cleaned for him, but Ruby had never heard her mention a mop. She had mentioned getting fucked on the kitchen table once. But she got paid a shitload for it and was always super generous, so it wasn’t any of Ruby’s business. It just meant that when Emma called her a hooker, she wasn’t exaggerating. Much.
“That might be handy. Emma doesn’t have a lot of funds, and she’s totally freaking out about her mom catching wind of this business.”
Lacey snorted. “No kidding. That lady would string her the fuck up. The way she looks at me, it’s like I’m the sin that must be bleached from this earth. I’m shocked she ever opened those tight little thighs to get knocked up in the first place.”
Ruby laughed, but felt bad about it, since Emma’s dad was in a coma, and had been in a coma since before she was born, and her mom still went to read to him at the hospital every week, hoping he’d wake up. It was pretty sad really.
“But…” Lacey glanced at her, heavily mascaraed eyelashes making her eyes a kind of uncanny blue. “Everything’s good with you, otherwise?”
“Mm?” Ruby was distracted by her lips, their soft curve, the slight glisten of lip-gloss that she could taste on the cigarette. “What? Yeah. Everything’s fine.”
Lacey smiled and stubbed out the cigarette on the rock. “Cum’ere,” she said, reaching out and lacing her fingers behind Ruby’s neck. “You can kiss me.”
Ruby laughed weakly. Was she really that obvious? But it would be a nice distraction from worrying about Emma. She leaned in and let their noses rub together. “You totally want a piece of this.”
“Arrogant,” Lacey grinned. “And keep your hands off my tits.”
“Meh, wouldn’t be worth it anyway. It’s not like you’ve got much up top.”
“Fuck you,” Lacey laughed back, and Ruby moved in to kiss her. She tasted like cigarettes and dark chocolate and Jack Daniels, and Ruby didn’t think she’d ever get enough.
* * *
“Miss Blanchard! Miss Emma Blanchard!”
Emma froze, turning guiltily in the hall to face the form of her history teacher, Ms. Mills, bearing down on her. Regina Mills was tall, in her black heels, and intimidating, with dark eyes and perfect hair and crisp white shirts under black blazers that Emma kind of wanted to leave lipstick marks on. Not that she’d admit it, except that one time she and Ruby were really drunk in the back of Ruby’s truck out in the forest, and Ruby had been waxing lyrical about Lacey’s ass, and Emma hadn’t been able to not one up her with her desperate desire to have their history teacher spank her.
Thank god Ruby had blacked that one out.
Ms. Mills gave Emma a long look, starting from the toes of her Docs, up her ragged jeans, and to the brightly colored t-shirt that had been cropped off to give a hint of her stomach. Her lip curled as if she couldn’t believe that anyone could be as unkempt as her. But it wasn’t like Emma had really been able to put a lot of thought into her sartorial choices that morning. She was still kind of distracted by the little blue cross that had made her life a fucking disaster.
“Why didn’t I receive an essay from you this morning?”
Emma froze. They had had a DBQ due that day, but honestly, it wasn’t like she had been able to focus this past week, after she realized that she should have started bleeding like a month ago, and hadn’t. “I, uh, forgot it.”
“Forgot to bring it, or forgot to do it?”
“Forgot to… do it?”
Ms. Mills rolled her eyes. “Because I’m certain that you’re so busy with all your other classes and important life decisions right now.”
Emma stiffened. She kind of was. “Look, I’m sorry. I just forgot.”
Ms. Mills gaze narrowed. “You, Miss Blanchard, are not an excellent student.”
“Well thank you very much,” Emma snapped back.
“I’ve spoken to your other teachers, and to be honest, the level of effort you provide is abominable.”
“I’m doing fine.”
“Because you’re poor David Nolan’s daughter, shot down in the line of duty, the day before his wedding, after he’d knocked up his girlfriend, of course. But I don’t do favors.”
“I don’t need favors!
“No, you don’t. Not in my class at least. You have been doing quite well, actually, but I am disappointed at this flakiness. Being mindful of the small details is what gets you control of your own life.”
Small details, like condoms. Emma sighed. “I know. I’m sorry.”
Ms. Mills gave her a sharp look. “Well then, it had better be on my desk by the first bell tomorrow, Miss Blanchard. Or you are getting a zero.”
Ms. Mills strode away, and Emma gaped at her, unable to believe what had just happened. Had the most hard-ass teacher in school given her an extension? Jesus fuck. Well, she was pregnant already, and Ruby was on the job about that. Tonight, Emma was going to write the best goddamn DBQ on the planet.
* * *
Lacey had put her breasts off limits, but she hadn’t said anything about her ass, and when Lacey bit down on her lower lip and tugged, Ruby palmed her ass and squeezed. Lacey made a little noise of pleasure and kissed her again.
“Holy crap,” said Neal. “Look at the lesbian action going down over here.”
Lacey stiffened, and Ruby pulled back, turning to glare at Neal, Phil, and Riley who had wandered up, Neal pulling out a pack of cigarettes. “Shut up,” Ruby snapped and grabbed the pack out of his hand. Lacey moved over to sit in Phil’s lap. Phil looked a bit bemused, and Riley gave him a sharp look that was almost a scolding without words. That Asian girl could be fucking terrifying if she wanted to be. Phil made a face and very carefully kept his hands off of Lacey.
“So,” Neal said, looking pleased with himself. “Have you seen Emma? I’ve learned this new trick that I want to show her.”
“A sex trick, or a lame-ass nerdy magic trick,” asked Lacey.
Neal glared at her. “My magic tricks are not lame-ass and nerdy.”
“They kind of are,” Ruby offered, and Lacey gave her a grin that was almost a high-five.
“You guys suck. And anyway, I learned a new sex trick too.”
Lacey snorted. “Good luck getting Emma to put out any time soon.”
Neal looked confused and Ruby shot her a look to tell her to shut up. Lacey just smiled. Ruby got a text and checked her phone. “Emma’s not coming,” she said. “She’s got a paper to write and is heading home to get shit done.”
“Aww,” Neal sighed.
Ruby stood up. “I’ve got to go too. I need to change before my shift.”
Lacey caught her eye, but revealed nothing with her expression. “I’m thinking about having another party, like, next weekend, while it’s still warm enough for the pool. You up for it?”
Ruby smiled. “You know me. I’m always up for a party.”
“We’ll get the college boys down. It’ll be a good time.”
“Ooh?” Neal perked up. “The college boys?”
Lacey gave him a look. “That was the gayest thing you’ve ever said.”
“I wasn’t the one with my tongue in a girl’s mouth five minutes ago.”
Lacey smirked. “Right. See? Gay.”
Neal flipped her off.
Ruby had a half an hour before she really needed to get ready for her shift, but it had been a fucking stressful day, and she needed to call the clinic, and then maybe do something about how horny Lacey had gotten her before suffering through three hours of crazy diner patrons. And shower.
* * *
Once Dawn showed up, looking flushed from cheerleading practice, Neal made the motion to go hang out at the diner and bother Ruby during her shift. Lacey made a point of looking seriously bored by the idea, but went along with them anyway.
Neal decided to show his new magic trick to Dawn, who was reasonably willing to be impressed, and she and Phil were hanging off each other to watch it. Lacey ended up walking next to Riley, which was always an uncomfortable proposition.
To be honest, Lacey had no idea how Riley had ended up in their group. She was serious, and academically successful, and didn’t smoke, and didn’t drink, and yet she was always around. Lacey had a suspicion that she took turns banging Phil and Dawn, or maybe did them both at once, but it was still kind of hard to figure her out. Phil was Neal’s friend, and Neal was Emma’s BF and Emma was Ruby’s BFF, and Ruby and Emma liked to party so they were semi-friends with Lacey, and Dawn was Phil’s girlfriend – even though she was a sophomore, and Phil really shouldn’t be bringing her to parties, because people got upset about fifteen year olds getting drunk and boning strangers. Lacey did not fucking care, as long as she didn’t get arrested for it. And anyways, Riley usually came and kept her from passing out in the pool or blowing Mr. Walking STD himself, Killian Jones, – which was handy, because Dawn always drank too much and did stupid shit, and Phil liked to get stoned and sit on the porch and was totally useless, and Riley was always handy if they needed someone who knew CPR.
Riley was giving her suspicious looks, and Lacey knew that she shouldn’t have gotten caught making out with Ruby. It wasn’t even like they were drunk. But Ruby was an excellent kisser, and Lacey hadn’t lied about really liking kissing. There wasn’t anything gay about it. Unlike Riley, who totally pinged.
Lacey gave her a suspicious look right back, and thought about Eliot, handsome and older and rich, with a nice cock and good technique, and who would sell her weed and E for her parties for like half of what any of Killian’s contacts could get. He had totally taken her from behind in the library last time, just come up to her and shoved up her skirt, and entered her, and she had hung onto the bookshelves, and it had been awesome.
See, she was totally straight. Ruby could go be bicurious with someone else.
* * *
The clinic had an opening for Friday, and Ruby swung by the Blanchard’s that morning in her truck. Emma ran out with her backpack swinging from one shoulder.
“Bye, mom, my ride’s here. I’ll see you tonight!”
“Bye, baby girl!” Ms. Blanchard stood on the doorstep, smiling and waving and Ruby was so goddamn glad her parents were dead, so there wasn’t anyone she could disappoint as much as Emma could disappoint her mother.
The moment Emma swung into the seat next to her, her face fell. She covered her eyes. “Oh god. I hate lying. I hate it so much.”
Ruby shook her head. “You lie to her about everything. Why is this such a huge deal?”
Emma made a face. “Because I know that if I told her, she’d be so shocked and upset and hurt, but she’d forgive me, and give me a hug, and she’d want me to keep it.”
“What?” Ruby felt sick. “Keep it? You?”
“It’s all, babies are gifts from god, in that house. I was a gift given to her to keep her sane when she lost David. And she’d want me to marry Neal or something, and for us to be the perfect parents, and fuck, I don’t want to marry Neal.”
“I don’t even know why you date that loser,” Ruby said.
Emma shrugged. “I like dates. You don’t date anyone.”
“I like sex,” Ruby said. “Dates, I can take them or leave them.”
Emma sighed. “I’m thinking I’m going to take a break from sex for a while.”
Ruby huffed a laugh. “Yeah, Lacey predicted that.”
“I wish you hadn’t told her. She’s a total bitch, and I don’t want this getting around.”
“She’s not a total bitch.”
Emma raised an eyebrow. “Just because you want in her pants doesn’t mean she’s not a bitch and a hooker.”
“And her hooker cash is paying for your abortion. Be grateful.”
The whole thing was clinical and over quickly enough. Emma came out, a bit loopy on anesthetic, and the doctor told her to take it easy for a few days to not start up the bleeding.
Ruby offered to take her home, but it was still before noon, and Emma said that she needed to go back to school.
“Are you sure? I can take you to mine and put you to bed there. Granny’s working today.”
“No, no. ‘s just school. I’ll be fine.”
* * *
Emma wasn’t fine. She hurt, and she wanted to cry, and she’d forgotten she had fucking gym today, and the teacher wouldn’t let her sit out even though she didn’t change. He was like, “You’ve got sneakers on. Get jogging!” And that made her stomach hurt even more.
And then the worst thing happened. Ms. Mills caught her in the hallway right as the last bell rang.
“Miss Blanchard.” Her voice was icy, and Emma froze. “Do you, by chance, have a moment?”
Emma looked at her, eyes wide, and her stomach hurting. “I, uh, I have to—”
“My office. Now.”
Ms. Mills strode off, and Emma had no choice but to follow her. The history teachers’ offices were a tiny corridor packed with three desks, but none of the others were there at the moment. Ms. Mills picked something up off her desk and turned to face Emma.
“I was looking forward to seeing you this morning, Miss Blanchard,” she said. “I was going to be pleased to give you this.”
She showed her the essay Emma had turned in the morning before. It had an A on it. Emma wanted to cry.
“But, apparently you decided it wasn’t worth it to show up in my class. So, I suppose it isn’t worth it to give you this.”
Regina started to rip the essay down the center.
“No,” Emma begged, and then a shooting pain shot through her stomach and she doubled over.
Ms. Mills’ eyes widened, and then dropped and widened further. “Emma!”
“I’m sorry,” Emma pled. “I’m so sorry I missed your class.”
“Are you bleeding?”
Emma looked down, and fuck, fuck that gym teacher, fuck everyone, fuck Neal and fuck alcohol and fuck her for being such an idiot. And then Emma did start to cry.
“Emma…” Ms. Mills was helping her sit down, offering her water, and feeling her forehead, and frowning seriously at her.
Emma gave in. She grabbed her teacher by the lapels and buried her face in her neck, and sobbed pathetically.
Stiffly, slowly, Ms. Mills’ arms went around her and patted her tentatively on the back. “Emma,” she sighed. “I thought you were smarter than this.”
“So did I,” Emma whimpered. “But drunk me is really, really not that smart.”
“A lesson we all must learn.” Regina sat back, carefully extracting herself from Emma’s grip. “Now. Do you need to go to the hospital?”
“Oh, please no. My mom’s there today, and she can’t find out.”
Ms. Mills looked at her. “No, I suppose that wouldn’t be for the best.”
Emma went wide eyed. “You agree?”
“Your mother who was going to become a nun before she met your father, and then has been treating your father’s accident as her punishment for premarital sex for the last eighteen years? No, I think that admitting your mortal weaknesses might not be best for either of you. Perhaps, instead, you should come to mine and we can call the clinic and see what we’re supposed to do.”
Both relieved and astonished Emma stared at her and nodded. “I, yeah. That sounds good.” She flushed. “Thank you.”
“Oh, you’ll owe me more than thanks, but I do like to take responsibility for my favorite trouble makers.”
* * *
Ruby hated bowling. Most of all, she hated it when Emma wasn’t there, but Emma was kind of taking a break from everyone right now, which was totally understandable, which meant she had to play with Neal, who was terrible, and Lacey, who didn’t give a fuck. Ruby was pretty sure that the only reason she came was to show off her ass in that short skirt and make Ruby gutterball more than usual. For someone who was ‘totally straight,’ she was a fucking tease.
And, of course, the idiot threesome bowled like it was their calling. Riley never got less than a spare, Phil was focused and solid, and Dawn was like a child savant being trained by her two careful tutors, and whichever one of them advised her on a successful shot got a kiss. Ruby was also pretty sure that Riley’s were only on the cheek for propriety’s sake, and that she’d get all the full on mouth ones once they were alone. It was a suspicion that made Lacey’s half-serious come-ons only piss her off more.
The idiot threesome had essentially won, and Phil and Dawn had taken the opportunity to make out in a single chair at the table. Ruby had some pride, and was standing at the machine with Riley, waiting for their balls to come back. Ruby glanced over at the table and grimaced to see Dawn grinding lightly into Phil’s lap. She turned away and caught Riley’s eye.
“Doesn’t that bother you?”
Riley raised a single eyebrow and adjusted the shades sitting on top of her head. “Why should it bother me? They’re my friends. They’re in love.”
Ruby made a face. “In love? They’re teenagers. It’s going to be over at graduation, unless someone gets pregnant, and then they’ll both find other people to slut around with.”
Riley frowned slightly. “Why is this on your mind? To be frank, it isn’t your business.”
She threw and got a strike, and Ruby scowled. “Just tell me, have you fucked them both or just her?”
“I would not insult their relationship like that.”
“Oh come on. They insult it all the time. Phil gets so stoned that he doesn’t even notice who’s riding him, and Dawn’s a little whore when she’s—”
The punch came out of nowhere, a fucking roundhouse right to her cheek, and Ruby staggered back, cupping her bleeding mouth, in serious pain. Riley just glared at her, both fists clenched. She stepped forward, menacingly.
“Jesus fucking Christ!” Lacey pushed between them, planting a hand on Riley’s chest and pushing her back. “Get off of her.”
Neal was gaping at everyone, and Phil and Dawn were looking a little appalled.
“Ri, girl. Cool down,” said Phil.
Riley’s fists uncurled slightly, but her expression only got blacker.
Lacey turned and moved Ruby’s hand away from her face. “Man, that’s going to be bad.” She tugged her toward the concession stand. “Hey! Get me a bag of ice!”
Ruby just moaned slightly. Too much pain.
The ice was a relief and Lacey pulled her outside to a bench next to the parking lot and held it against her mouth. “Tsk, tsk,” Lacey muttered. “You shouldn’t let people mess up your pretty face.”
Ruby made a pathetic noise in response. It hurt too much to talk.
“What did you say to her anyway? No, don’t tell me, just nod if I’m right. You insulted her slutty girlfriend.”
Ruby nodded weakly.
“You really don’t like losing, do you?” Lacey leaned in and planted a light kiss on her forehead. “Now, heal up quick, because the party next weekend is on. And… maybe I’ll even give you a hurt/comfort threesome.”
Ruby rolled her eyes and pinched her, hard.
“Hey! Ungrateful little brat!”
* * *
Dawn was the last one to be dropped off, and Riley could feel her eyes on her as she focused hard on the road. She pulled up in front of the dark McMansion and waited, but Dawn didn’t get out of the car.
“You want to tell me what that was all about?”
Riley wouldn’t look at her. She didn’t need those curious, far too sly and intelligent eyes staring her down and niggling the truth out of her. But not looking at her didn’t stop Dawn’s hand from coming to rest on her leg.
“Do I need to guess? Does it have… something to do with my honor?”
Riley huffed exasperation out her nose. “I suppose you know me too well.”
Dawn smacked her shoulder. “You are always getting in fights over me. I can look after my own honor, thank you very much! At least if you were my boyfriend you might have an excuse—”
“I had to defend Phillip as well!”
“Because what Ruby Lucas, the second easiest girl in town, thinks is so important? Come on.” Dawn carefully crawled into Riley’s lap and put her arms around her neck, pulling her in for a hug. “It bothers you because it’s true, isn’t it?” she murmured. “Bet she said I was a slut, and I kinda am when I’m drunk. I’m lucky I’ve got you to take care of me.”
“You’re just… open and… friendly.”
Dawn laughed into her ear. “Yep, that’s it exactly.”
Riley’s arms closed around her waist and they stayed like that, silent, for a little while. “I am… slightly worried about what you’ll do when Philip and I leave for college.”
“Maybe you’ll just have to come back for all the parties.”
“Maybe you’ll need to miss some of them.”
Dawn grinned. “But Lacey’s going to be leaving too, and then I’m going to be the one with the big empty house and pool. I’m going to have to host.”
Riley raised an eyebrow. “Perhaps I did overreact, when clearly everything she said was absolutely true.”
“So, she didn’t say we were poly? Because I get that one a lot.”
Riley looked into her face and considered kissing her. But they were both sober, and she never initiated. That was the rule. “No,” she said. “She didn’t suggest that – explicitly. She did ask if I had been with both of you, but not together.”
Dawn considered her. “You lied, didn’t you?”
“Like a rug.”
Dawn laughed and leaned in to kiss her cheek. “Come on. My parents aren’t home tonight. Stay over and we can snuggle.”
“I never get any sleep if I stay over with you. You’re a night owl.”
Dawn snorted. “I’m an insomniac, don’t make it sound like a choice. But it’s Sunday tomorrow, you don’t have to get up for anything.”
Riley sighed. “Fine. I will keep you company on this dark endless night.”
* * *