The few weeks after Jessica's birthday party passed pretty quickly. Jessica still worked at least three times a week; Steve still had baseball practice after school. He had games now, usually on the weekends. He was kept busy keeping up with school work now that his weekends were full.
Jessica was able to come to most of his games, and she didn't mind them. They were held outside so it wasn't as packed even if a lot of people did come to the games, and it wasn't as loud as basketball had been.
Nothing had changed since the night of her party, aside from the fact that they were closer now. Sometimes Steve woke up in the morning and she would be able to feel his hardness against her. It had happened before, but now he never tried to hide it from her. He knew it was okay.
It was now a week away from Easter break, and Jessica knew it was time to ask her mom if it was okay to go with Steve. Yes, she had put it off until now. Not really because she didn't think her mom wouldn't let her go, but . . . what if she didn't?
It was after school. She didn't have to work and Steve had baseball practice, so it was the perfect time. Her mom was in the living room, doing some kind of knitting thing when Jessica came in from school and sat down with her.
"Um . . . Steve invited me to come to his parents' lake house with him over Spring break. I'd – I'd really like to go if it's okay. His parents will be there, but I mean, you know how they are. He'll still be basically alone even if they're there the whole time."
Her mom had stopped doing what she was doing and was now looking at her.
"I don't want you gone on Easter."
"I – I'm sure I could get back here for Sunday. If that's the only thing bothering you, I mean, Steve will get me back here. He just doesn't wanna be alone. I don't want him alone, not for a whole week."
Jessica noticed that her mom was really looking at her; she didn't really like it. Then her mom sighed.
"You're right. I do know how his parents are. You two will be alone in that house for the most part. I feel that I can't stop you from going. You are an adult, and I'll respect your decision if you want to go. But be careful."
"Mom, of course I'll be careful. Steve will be there. He won't –"
"Exactly. Steve will be there. So . . . be careful."
That's when she got it. Her mom wasn't asking her to be careful, in general. It wasn't like she was worried about her safety, not in this instance. She was telling her to be careful because she and Steve were going to be basically alone for a week, and, well, stuff could happen.
Stuff probably would happen, to be honest, and she kind of wanted to talk to Steve about it beforehand, but it was weird that her mom was just so openly talking about it.
"Don't 'Mom' me. You're eighteen, and don't think I don't know something happened at your party last month. You both came back glowing."
Jessica felt her cheeks get warm. She was probably glowing now, just not for the same reason. She and Steve had messed around a few more times since the party, but they still didn't get much time alone due to their busy schedules.
"I just don't want you to come back . . . in trouble."
"You mean pregnant. I wouldn't let that happen. Steve wouldn't let that happen. He – we still haven't –" She broke off, hating that she was starting to stumble over her words. "I'll make him buy condoms, okay!"
Her mother grinned at her outburst, and that was when Jessica realized that her mom was enjoying her embarrassment.
"You just make sure he uses them."
Jessica shot up off the couch and headed for the stairs. She needed to go and learn how to breathe properly again. She also wanted to get her head back on straight before Dustin came home. He would definitely notice her face being red if she was still thinking about her conversation with her mother, and he'd want to know what was up.
Jessica was doing her homework when Dustin got home. She had cooled off a little, which was good, because he poked his head in her doorway as he was making his way to his room.
"Oh, uh, hey," she said, "I wanted to talk to you."
She gestured to the bed for him to sit down, so he did.
"Spring break. I'm gonna be with Steve."
"So what? You're always with Steve."
"Yeah, but I mean, I'm gonna not be here. We're going to his family's lake house. I'll be back for Easter Sunday."
Dustin's eyes widened. "You're going away with him? Alone?"
"Well, technically, his parents will be there." She gave him a sheepish smile. "But yeah, alone."
"But we usually do stuff together during Spring break. You take me to the bookstore and buy me comics, and we usually go to the movies, and we play games."
This was why she wanted to talk to Dustin about Spring break. They usually spent it together; they even went shopping with their mom for groceries for Easter Sunday, and the book store he was talking about was a couple of towns over. She knew their mom wouldn't take him.
"Well, it's still a week away. I can take you to the bookstore next week, on a day I'm not working. And . . . we can go see a movie this weekend if you want. I'll even take you to the arcade sometime and we can play."
"Well . . . Friday the 13th is out now. I want to see it, but it's rated R. I can only go if an adult is with me . . ."
She was not much into slasher flicks; they were too gory for her taste, but . . . it was the fourth movie of the franchise and he had seen the other three.
"You want it to be just us or do you want to invite the others?"
"It's always just us," he said. "And if you're going to be gone . . ."
She did feel kind of bad for planning on leaving him alone for the week, but it wasn't like he wouldn't have his friends. They would be able to hang out even more over break with her not being there.
"Okay. We can go Saturday. How's that sound?"
"Cool. You wanna hang out in here for a while? Steve won't be here for another hour at least."
Dustin, who still had his bookbag with him, pulled out one of his school books and they did their homework together. Dustin was always good at science and he liked history and English, but he sometimes had trouble with math, especially since they were now getting into pre-Algebra and adding letters to the mix. He would eventually get the hang of it, though, because he was a quick study.
Steve was a little late getting to Jessica's house. He had stopped by a diner to pick up dinner for all of them. Hamburgers and French fries for him and Dustin, chicken fingers and a baked potato for Jess, and a chicken sandwich and fries for her mom.
They ate at the kitchen table, Steve and Jessica on one side while Dustin and Ms. Henderson took the other side.
"So, Mom said I could go with you," Jessica said, gently nudging him in the side. "To the lake house."
He looked at Ms. Henderson and she nodded. She had a small smile going, which he returned hesitantly.
"My only condition is that she has to be back by Easter Sunday."
"Oh, yeah, sure." He would do anything if it meant she could go with them. "Um –"
"Okay. Obviously, that means you are welcome here that day."
Steve's parents didn't really celebrate Easter, so that worked for him. Even if they had, Steve would have preferred dinner with Jessica and her family. It was just less stressful and just all around better than anything he did with his family.
"Thanks," he said.
Jessica pressed her leg against his briefly and he turned to grin at her. She was already smiling his way.
"But I get her next week," Dustin said. "Spring break is usually ours. You're kind of stealing her."
"Yeah, we're going to a movie on Saturday. And then sometime next week it's the arcade and a comic book store."
He was glad Dustin was willing to switch things around so Jessica could go with him, but he also felt kind of bad for making them break tradition. Not bad enough to go without her, though, now that he knew her mom was letting her go.
After dinner, Steve and Jessica decided to go upstairs. Steve still had homework to do, and her room was the best bet of it being quiet enough for him to concentrate.
Jessica took his hand as they began climbing the stairs and she took a slight lead in going up.
"So . . . Mom had one other condition – I mean, it was more sort of a suggestion, really."
"She made me – she made me promise to tell you to buy condoms," she said quickly.
Steve had not expected that. It surprised him so much he missed one of the steps going up, and his foot caught against the edge of it. Then he was toppling forward right into Jessica, and because he was holding her hand, he couldn't really catch himself all that well, and then she was toppling forward. They both yelped as they landed in an awkward heap on the staircase.
Jessica had landed on the stairs themselves, body facing forward, so Steve had landed half on top of her, most of his weight on her lower half.
He heard the tread of footsteps and then heard, "How did you guys fall going up the stairs?"
"Ask Steve," Jessica said from underneath him. There was amusement in her voice and he felt as she laughed a little.
Steve moved to get off of her and realized he'd never let go of her hand.
"You okay?" he asked her.
"Yeah. I'm good. I didn't have far to fall."
He stood up then, and helped her back up as well. Dustin was still at the foot of the stairs.
"So . . . how did you fall going up the stairs?"
"Ask your sister."
"Nope. You fell on top of me, so you get to answer this one."
And the thing was Steve knew that Dustin was an adamant little thing, so he wouldn't stop until he got a satisfactory answer.
Jessica's mom had come around the corner then, mostly to make sure everyone was okay. The fact that Jessica was still laughing a little made her mom smile before going back to whatever she had been doing.
"Steve?" Dustin again.
"Jess said something that distracted me. I wasn't paying attention."
"What, did you forget you were on the stairs?"
"No, look, she just surprised me. No big deal."
Dustin shook his head and turned back to go to the living room, and as soon as he was out of sight Jessica grabbed onto his arm and burst out into real laughter.
In a hushed voice, Steve said, "Your mom did not say that."
"Oh, yes she did. She knows we're going to be alone and the words she used were that she wanted us to be careful."
Steve's heart kind of dropped into his stomach. He suddenly wondered if Jessica thought he'd only asked her to go with him so they could have sex. They would be mostly alone for a whole week, so it was likely to happen, he wasn't naïve. And if Jessica was okay with it happening, he was all for it, but he didn't want her thinking that was the only reason he wanted her there.
"We need to talk," he said, this time grabbing her hand and taking the lead.
He led them to her room. Once they were in it, he shut the door even though he knew he wasn't supposed to.
"It's just for a few minutes. I don't want to take a chance on anyone hearing us."
Steve sat on the bed and she followed suit.
"Jess, you know that nothing has to happen on this trip, right? Like, obviously, if it does, then . . . it's – it'll be great. But I don't – I didn't ask you to come with me just so you'd have sex with me."
Jessica's cheeks turned pink when he said the word sex. It was kind of cute.
"I know that. I also know that nothing has to happen. But you still need to, you know, just in case."
The truth was that the few times they had messed around since her party, he still hadn't really touched her. It usually started off the same way, with them grinding against each other, and her getting really worked up, which got him more worked up than he already would be at that point. She had taken her shirt off once when they had been in his car one night after a dinner date, when they had driven to the quarry and parked. She had worn a skirt that night; all he'd had to do was slip his hand underneath and that was that.
There had been one time she'd been at his house again and she had ended up straddling his lap – and, boy, had he liked that – and she'd had the perfect angle to bring herself off just by grinding on him. She had also had the perfect angle to get him off and he'd ended up coming in his pants. He hadn't done that in he didn't know how long, but she'd definitely set him off.
He knew it was probably a cliché, but he liked the innocence of her exploring and learning what she liked and he was so glad he got to be the one she was learning with. She hadn't been mad or disgusted by him making a mess either; she'd actually been a little excited that she could make him do that without really touching him.
Things had been building, though, and there was a definite chance that something could happen over the trip, and so he knew she was right.
They would be careful.
Saturday came around quickly and, as promised, Jessica took Dustin to the movies to see Friday the 13th. She was not the only person who had a younger person with her. She had already seen the first three movies of the franchise – mostly because of Dustin – so she was caught up on what had happened.
She got their tickets and then bought a medium popcorn and two medium drinks. She let Dustin lead and she sat where he wanted to. They ended up somewhere in the middle, which was fine with her.
The fourth movie started off where the third had left off. Jason Vorhees had been killed in a barn and now he was being picked up and taken to the hospital morgue. Of course, he didn't stay dead.
Within five minutes, two people were already going at it and it wasn't too much longer after that that they died. One of them had his head pretty much wrenched off; the other was stabbed. Jessica cringed both times and every other time someone was killed. She didn't understand why she could watch a movie like The Evil Dead and it not bother her at all, but this was bothering her.
The whole movie was about a group of teenagers renting a lake house beside a family who lived there year-round. The family consisted of a mom, a sister, and a younger brother. At one point, the group of teens went skinny dipping and it showed the girls' breasts.
Jessica quickly clapped a hand over Dustin's eyes so he couldn't see.
"Ow!" he complained.
"Sorry. Keep your eyes closed."
There were other scenes she didn't want him seeing either and she was kind of regretting taking him to that particular movie.
Near the end, Jason's mask was knocked off by a machete and his deformed face was revealed. He was stabbed in the side of the head and he fell to the floor, the handle of the blade catching and making his face slide down slowly. It had been in his eye, too.
Jessica turned her head from the screen. "Ugh!"
Dustin found it hilarious that she couldn't watch certain parts without either half covering her eyes or turning from the screen completely. She didn't find it hilarious at all and was relieved when the movie was finally over.
She was suddenly very aware of why she usually did homework or read a book or found some way to distract herself when her brother watched the other three Jason movies at home. She did not like the murder scenes.
"I feel like I need to bleach my brain," she said. "Yours too. I didn't know there would be so much nakedness."
Dustin rolled his eyes. "I literally don't care."
Jessica laughed. It was true. Dustin was more into science and fantasy at the moment to worry about what girls looked like.
It was actually a relief.