Chapter 63: Mountain Sound - Of Monsters and Men
Japan was great. I wanted to go, but I was secretly harnessing doubts I was scared to voice. They were all gone by the time I was on my way home. It was where I belonged and I was able to prove it by successfully navigating the city on my own. I was able to make my case to my dad on our way home from the airport. He understood. He was scared to let me go, but he knew he had to because I was ready.
I was too excited to tell the others to wait until we returned to school. I was never the one to call full group webchats, so I warmed myself up to the idea by asking Sami to join me first.
“I hope I didn’t interrupt a game or something.”
“He was at a brunch with his dad all morning. I was working on songs while he was away. Now he’s in his room coding. We still haven’t bothered seeing each other. How was Japan?”
“Amazing. I think I nailed my interview. The campus was fantastic; the students are so talented; and the city was incredible.” My smile was infallible as I thought of my trip. “I’ve never wanted anything as much as I want this.”
“And you’re going to get it. I know it. No one deserves this as much as you. Seriously, Mom, I couldn’t be happier for you. I’d even give you a hug right now if we were together.”
“Thank you. How is Finn’s house?”
She looked down grinning. “We, uh, we’ve been sealing the deal in the Batmobile every night we’ve been here.” She looked up at me faux apologetically.
“His car? You lost your virginity in his car?”
“Virginity is a social construct. It was my first time. It was pretty solid, but the times since have been better, like much better.”
“I still can’t believe you did it, and in his car.”
“It was bound to happen eventually.”
“But in his car?”
“Yes, get over the car part. It was as good of a place as any.”
“What was it like?”
She thought to herself for a moment. “He was gentle with me, surprisingly considerate. It felt good once I was able to relax. I really got into it.”
“What does that mean?”
“I was able to finish, which isn’t a given. We had a bit of a fail last night; we were too drunk. It was most definitely rectified when we sobered up a little. “ She smirked.
“I’m not even going to ask what that means.”
“You can, but you’re not going to get a response.”
“Can I at least know if he told you he loves you?”
“We’re not big on talking about feelings.”
“What did he say after?”
“He asked if it was okay for me. I said yes. That was the last time we talked that night.”
“And you were okay with that?”
“I know how he feels; we held hands as we walked to the front door.”
“Awww.” I clasped my hands together.
“Was he the one that initiated it?”
“Yeah.” She looked to the side.
“He loves you, Sam.”
“Yeah, yeah.” She rolled her eyes. “I guess I love the kid too. He did help me steal a letterman’s jacket.”
“Okay, so we went to this party. A bunch of popular kids were there. There were so many jackets. I wanted one for irony purposes. Then I learned Finn went there and then I had to have it. Finn pretended to be upset that the guy hit on me in the kitchen. He did do that by the way. The guy held his arms out to prove he was prepared to fight. I grabbed the jacket and ran. We kept running until we reached his house.”
“Lettering isn’t easy. He probably worked really hard for his patches.”
“I don’t feel bad. He’s taking a full ride scholarship from a kid that actually needs it and he’s a jerk to his girlfriend. It’ll be good for him to figure out how to buy a new one.”
“I leave you alone for ten days.” I tsked.
“And that happened on day one.”
“What have you done since then?”
She looked up at the ceiling as she pondered. “Not much; we’ve been caught up with the car rendezvouses. We swam in his neighbors’ pool; they’re out of town. We borrowed one of his other neighbor’s dog. His name is Sandwiches. We played with him and took him for a walk. We returned him later that day, saying he had gotten out and we found him roaming the neighborhood. And we’ve gotten drunk two times.”
“That is relatively mild.”
“I told you.”
“I’ve paged Elle and Izzie to join our chat. I’m slowly but surely bringing the group together to share my news. It won’t be a challenge to get Finn here.”
“I’m in the guest bedroom right now. He’s in his room. I’m not moving to tell him or get him.”
“He’ll join from his desktop. He’d oppose moving too.”
“Right. You should know. You’re sleeping with him.”
“I would have known this seven days ago too. And don’t mention it to Iz, Elle or anyone else. It’d become a big thing. Everyone’s under the impression we have already.”
“My lips are sealed. I still can’t believe it, you know? You trust him with your scheme plans. You’ve told him you love him. He’s seen you naked and now, now he’s been as close to you as humanly possible and both of you hate touching. You’ve come really far in the whole emotional intimacy department, both of you have.”
“It felt right. I’m an instincts kind of gal, some like to call it impulsive, but it’s intuition.”
“No, it’s both. Definitely both.”
Elle’s joining warning appeared on my screen.
“Hello, Sunshines.” She waved with a radiant smile.
“Why are you vivacious? This is a lot, even for you.” I asked.
“Nope, this is about you. My news comes later.” She remained on a high decibel of chipper.
“We need to wait for Iz.”
“ISABELLA!” She yelled.
Izzie came running into Elle’s chat square, taking a seat beside her at her desk. “Sorry, I had to call Aud back. I’m here now.”
“You’re in California with her?”
“Yes. I spent half of break with my mom. She had us celebrate my birthday all week. And I’m spending the rest of break here with Elle.”
“Okay, so I went to Japan and nailed my interview I survived on my own, obviously, and my dad’s agreed to let me go if I get in, just like he promised.”
All of them cheered for and praised me, making me feel on top of the world. They always had that effect on me.
“Now, are you going to tell us why you are so happy, Elle?” I shifted the attention elsewhere when I felt as though I had an adequate amount of it.
“Nope, not yet. I’m distracted. Why are you glowing?” She pointed to the screen.
“Whom are you referring to?” Sami raised an eyebrow.
“You, Missy. There’s something different. What is it?” She propped her head up with her hand.
Sami scratched the back of her head. “I’m just having a good break. I can actually relax here.”
She narrowed her eyes. “I can’t put my finger on it. Hm…Ooo! Go get Finn!”
“Why do you need to see Watson?”
“To see if there’s a visual difference with him too. Now go.” She shooed her.
“That’s not going to happen.”
“Then tell me.” She slammed her hands on her desk.
Izzie had been texting since my bout of congratulatory attention.
She looked up from her phone. “Yes, why are you glowing?” She leaned close to Elle. “She really is sparkling.”
“Yes! I knew I wasn’t the only one that saw it. That’s why I love you, Babydoll.” She hugged her tight, closing her eyes.
“She’s have the first non-confrontational break in a year. She rejuvenated, ready to take on the rest of the semester.” I vouched for her.
“Can Finn join the chat early? He won’t even have to leave his room.”
Elle picked up her hand and kissed it. “Milo doesn’t deserve you.”
“But alas, I love that little klutz.” She rested her head on her shoulder.
“Let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about you and Milo being all in love and whatever.” Sami deflected.
“But you hate those conversations.”
She groaned. “Goddamn! Finn and I have started sleeping together. It’s been going down every night since break started.” Sami tossed her hands up in the air.
“That’s it? You’re taking advantage of couple time? Izzie does it every time she goes to Listonenia –“ She pointed to her.
“You do, babydoll, and it’s okay. I mean, your boyfriend’s body is insane. Those dancers, man. Mm. Those dancers.” She sighed and shook her head.
“That may be the case, but you need to stop fanning yourself every time you see it. Especially when he has his shirt off.”
“Then he shouldn’t be around me with his shirt off!”
“He only does it when he has to, which is swimming and dancing!”
Elle scoffed and rolled her eyes. “Fine, I’ll just check out his dad. I can just fantasize about his body. His suits impede my view.”
“As long as you leave Princey alone. It makes him uncomfortable. Magazines keep calling him an eligible bachelor and it pisses me off. I don’t need you on the long list of people that look at him with lust in their eyes.”
“Rightfully so. He’s yours. They need to back off. I don’t see him like that, but I’ll accept your terms.”
“You’re not going to freak out and scream at me for a while?” Sami interrupted their rapid back and forth.
“We know you’d hate that.” Izzie shrugged.
Sam cracked a smile. “It happened in his car.” She felt comfortable enough to share more.
“Been there. Done that. Awkward?” Elle managed to be casual too.
Sami looked down grinning. “No, we were tipsy. Went to a party beforehand.”
“He’s, uh – proportionate. As am I. Adjustments needed to be made, but it felt nice once they were.”
Izzie nodded with clear understanding on her face. “I’m happy you were able to tell him. I know that’s not always easy.”
“Tall thing?” Elle looked over at her repressing a squeal.
“Shush.” Iz kept her eyes on the computer.
“I’m not afraid of Watson. Never have been.”
“Did he tell you he loves you?” Elle gently brought up the topic of romance, knowing her stance.
“No.” Her discomfort returned.
“Did he say anything?” Izzie’s face was hopeful, but reluctant.
“If it was okay. It was. End of story...do Art and Milo always say it?”
“Art doesn’t. It depends on time limit and if it followed a fight. I’m sure Milo does.”
Iz nodded. “He says it at least three times a day, regardless of activity.” She shifted her body in Elle’s direction.” You and Art are still fighting?””
Elle waved her hand dismissively. “It’s fine. We’re finally passionate. The whole stoic-but-too-agreeable-when-it-matters thing was getting a little stale.”
“If you have to fight to feel something, BREAK UP.” Iz demanded.
“What’s your big news Elle?” Sami saved her.
“Ooo! Yes! I got the part!”
“What? Are you serious?” My eyes went wide as I smiled.
“Yep. Completely. I went through a series of auditions during winter and spring break and I got the news yesterday via my agent.”
We all cheered, ecstatic for her.
“What about Yale?” Sami recalled.
“That’s the one issue. I don’t know yet. I can defer. Some shows never get past the pilot and I can go back to my original plan. But at the same time I want to fully commit to one thing. I don’t know. I’ll sort it out soon. I’m super pumped either way!” She rattled almost quickly to comprehend.
“As you should be. You guys have had incredible breaks. So many pivotal moments.”
“So have you, Babydoll. You got to celebrate your birthday with your mommy.”
“She was very excited. She adopted a kitten that she says is mine. She even let me name it. Her name is Matilda.”
“She’s my brilliant baby. I think she’s magic. She knows how to cuddle with me just right.”
“A small animal will always make you happiest. Does Milo know about her?”
“I think he’ll pick up on it when he sees the framed photograph of Matilda, my mom, and me on my nightstand. It was one of many gifts from my mommy.”
“Are you taking her to Listonenia?”
“That’s the plan for now. We’ll see how attached my mom gets.”
“So just to be sure, we shouldn’t mention it when he joins our chat?” Sami confirmed.
“Yep. Lock it up in the vault. He’s a little sensitive about my pet obsession. He fears I am going to replace him. Speaking of boyfriends, were you careful when you did the deed with yours?”
“Of course. I’m not up for dealing with a pregnancy.”
“Are you on birth control?”
“No, it uh, it messes with my moods.”
“My doctor feared that with me too. I’m on the pill because it didn’t, but we also discussed a Copper IUD. No hormones and a super low risk of getting preggers.”
Iz nodded. “I went the pill route too, though. I move too much for an IUD. It’d get embedded some place it shouldn’t.”
“Something to think about, Sam.”
“Something I need to go home for.”
“There’s a place off campus. I go when I have to get refills and stuff. Milo takes me.”
“That’s sweet.” I loved how well he treated her.
“Not doing that with Watson. It’s too serious couplely. It’d freak both of us out.”
“I can take you. It’d be no trouble.” I offered without the need of thought.
“I’d really appreciate that.”
“I’m your mom. It’s what I’m here for.”
None of them pressured me to disclose my potential romantic life or explore my sexual side in the slightest. Truth be told: I wasn’t ready, but I was more than willing to support and listen to them without judgment.
Though she didn’t say anything, Izzie’s face lit up the minute Milo’s chat join warning popped up. She got excited about a lot of things, but she always shined brightest when he was around.
“Hi, Honey. How are you?”
“I am doing well, but I could be better. I am way too far away from you.”
“I miss you too. Hey, how’s Jacqueline doing?”
“Great, actually. Everything is where it should be with the babies.”
“And your dad?” Elle couldn’t resist.
Izzie started using her phone again.
“He’s fine. Busy, but thriving in this state as he always does. He --” He squinted and leaned forward as though he was reading something on his screen. “Stop thinking about him like that.” He pleaded.
“You texted him?” Elle whined.
“I messaged him. There’s a difference.”
“Is not. We—“
Ryan’s join warning appeared.
“We’re fighting already?” He was leaning back with his arms crossed.
“We’re not fighting. We’re spiritedly speaking.” Elle corrected.
“Who’s opposing Elle?”
“Izzie and Milo.” Sami answered.
“Over anything good? Wait, actually, it doesn’t matter. I’m with them.”
“Just because you want to pick with me. You’d be a hypocrite if you joined them. You think about Milo’s mom all the time.” She pointed to what I assumed to be Milo’s square.
“I wouldn’t say all the time, but when she’s brought up I do. How’s she doing, Miles?” He nodded with a smirk.
“I am not answering that.”
“Where’s Adam? He’d know.”
“How would he know? We’re in Greece and he is in –“
Nick’s warning jingle interrupted their conversation. Instead of just Nick appearing, Adam was there too.
“North Carolina.” Milo concluded.
“How is it there?” I asked the boys.
“I’m having a good time. I’m glad I was able to see another part of the country, explore new customs and what not. I have learned that college basketball trumps all else this time of year.”
“I had to work hard to develop a mild appreciate for the sport. He has taken to it like a champ.”
“The statistics and bracket systems are fascinating. I wish I was here during March Anger. –“
“March Madness, Bud.” Ry corrected.
“I knew it was something to that affect. A whole new world has been opened. I feel as though I have missed so much.”
“We were watching it. We should have told you. We know for next time.” Milo told him.
“I wouldn’t have been able to sit down and watch it properly. Finn and Sam had me pretty busy. Where is he?”
Sami held up her index finger and picked up her phone.
“Isn’t she at his house?” Adam whispered
“They are in different rooms. They both refuse to move.” I whispered back.
He gave me a thumbs up.
“We’ve assembled.” She stated simply and hung up. “He’ll be on in a second.”
Finn’s addition completed our circle.
“I was finishing up a project. The brunch I attended was a time suck.”
“While we’re on the topic of sucking, I never thought I’d see the day when you were sporting hickeys. People will now know you broke up with your computer and traded her in for a human.” Ryan was the first to point out the noticeable burgundy splotches on Finn’s neck.
“How did you get past your mom? I am sure she is freaking out.” Nick expressed concern.
“These were commissioned.” Finn pointed to his spots. “My dad forced me to go to a country club brunch this morning. I knew he had every intention of showing me off and boasting about my accomplishments and future plans, so I made myself less visibly presentable in his eyes. Sami helped, totally down for the cause. I had my sister pretending to apply them with makeup when my mom walked into my room to check on my progress.”
“And she didn’t force you to wash them off?” Milo raised an eyebrow.
“Roar claimed she used setting powder and couldn’t get it off without makeup remover. She coincidentally had run out of it and we were too short on time to figure out an alternative method of removal.”
“Fun brunch?” Iz asked with a little giggle.
“I charmed them with an intensified version of my personality. I talked about Sams each time I caught someone staring at my neck. I showed pictures of us together.”
“They loved my hair and nose piercing.” Sami grinned mischievously.
“It proved to be very effective. My dad griped about it the whole way home. He relayed what I did to my mom. She has been calling me Finnegan Patrick all day.”
“I’m so proud of you, Babe.” Sami rested her hand on her chest and pretended to get overly emotional.
A smirk tugged at the corner of his lips.
“I’ve got news.” I worked up the courage to announce.
“Let’s hear it, Mom. We’re all ears.” Sami encouraged.
I had the floor and they made me feel as though I had a stadium stage, a microphone, and a rabid audience. That’s the moment I knew they’d always be in my cheering section, regardless of where they were. We were all willing to move mountains for each other. And there’s no throwing that away over something stupid.