Erika's next Chapter
“Damn, girl, you dress up nice.” Jake closed his mouth, but his eyes hadn’t blinked. The character on his game died, but he didn’t seem to notice.
“I’ve actually stashed some in my mini-fridge.” Grace went over to a mini-bar and pulled out a bottle.
Jake got up and approached Erika. His eyes scanned her. “Merry Christmas.” He smiled. He enfolded her in a hug.
Erika went stiff at first then began to relax just before he pulled back. “Fancy meeting you here, huh?” he grinned. “You play GTA?”
“It’s been a while.” Erika admitted.
“Here.” Grace poured more champagne into Erika’s glass. She leaned in. “You and Jake have a history?”
“We have a class together.” She drank half of her glass.
“There are drinks in the fridge. I’ve got chips and stuff over there.” Grace pointed. “The fancy foods are out in the kitchen.”
“Thanks.” Erika felt her head start feeling fuzzy.
“Any more coming?” Jake asked.
“I have no idea.” Grace shrugged. “My boyfriend should be here soon. I just knew about you two for sure, but others may come.”
“Come have a seat.” Jake patted the open seat next to him on the loveseat. “You need to see if you have what it takes to kick my ass.”
Erika smoothed her dress under her as she nervously took the offered seat.
“Grace, did you hear that Erika’s house burned down?”
“That, was you?” Grace exclaimed. “I’m so sorry. Did you lose everything?”
Erika nodded. “But hey, I’m getting a new wardrobe out of it.” She’d rather look on the bright side.
“You didn’t lose any pets, did you?” Grace asked.
“No. We didn’t have any. My mom isn’t fond of animals.”
“Well I guess that is a blessing.” Grace smiled. “I’m a dog person. My puppy is shut up in my room, poor thing.”
“Why are you keeping Gisella in there? She is the sweetest puppy.” Jake asked.
“Some people like Erika’s mother don’t like them.”
“I like them.” Erika insisted. “Could you bring your puppy in here?”
“Perhaps, if we keep this door shut.” Grace smiled. “I’ll go get her.”
“So, how are you doing?” Jake inquired.
“Fine.” She didn’t know what to say or even what to talk about with this guy who teased her as Eric and Erika. He wasn’t involved in the flagpole incident, that she knew of but he had tripped Eric in the halls or thrown things at him. As Erika, he only teased verbally, but then there was that weird day when he actually seemed to care if she was alright after her event on the basketball court. “So how do you know the Klaus’?”
“My parents are friends with hers.” He shrugged. “Just about every party, we are invited too. Grace is pretty cool. She’s one of those super smart girls. You know kind of like Victoria.”
“You?” He asked, “How do you come by this party?”
“Our dad’s work together.”
“Here she is.” Grace entered with a large dog. She closed the door behind her while struggling to hold onto the large dog’s collar.
“Whoa, that is one big puppy.” Erika was shocked. “What kind is she?”
Grace smiled. “She’s a Ridgeon ridgeback Poodle mix.”
“She is beautiful.” Erika took the eager dogs head in her hands. What’s her name again?”
“Beautiful.” Erika giggled as Gisella licked her hand.
“She’ll settle down in a minute. There is just so much activity going on and she wants to be a part of it all.”
“Hey, Grace, did you dad make any eggsnog?” Jake chuckled.
Grace’s rolled her eyes. “He sure did.”
“Do you want any?” Jake smirked and threw Grace a weird look.
Grace had a pure sounding fun laugh, “Sure. I don’t know if he wants us drinking it after last year though.”
“Erika?” he lightly patted her knee. “You want some?”
Grace’s laugh turned to a cackle.
Was he trying to flirt with her? That was what a guy did in the beginning stages of flirting, wasn’t it? “I’m good, but I think I’ll see what is out there to nibble on.”
Jake held out his hand. Erika paused not knowing exactly what to do. She raised her hand which he grabbed and effortlessly pulled her to her feet. He did have the broad shoulders of a running back. Jake’s shoulders were beefy, knotted type muscles, where Julian’s broad shoulders were streamlined but no less powerful.
“Gisella, lay down. Lay down. Good girl.” They heard Grace command as they left the room.
“There you are.” Erika’s mother greeted as they entered the kitchen. “I was just about to check on you.”
“I’m fine.” Erika smiled.
Her mother looked to Jake and smiled.
“Uh, mom. This is Jake. He’s in my Language Arts class.”
“Hello Jake. Your family are friends with the Klaus’, right?”
“You aren’t getting drunk or anything, are you?” She looked at Erika.
“Mom?” it was almost a whine.
“You should try the artichoke spread.” Her mother pointed.
“Aparna makes a great hummus too.” Jake pointed to a bowl.
Her mother scooped a large dollop on to her plate and added some pita chips to go with it. “Thank you, Jake.”
Erika began filling her plate with finger foods. There were a lot of things that she didn’t know what they were, but they looked delicious.
“You’ll want a few extra of those.” Jake told her as she picked up some items. “I can’t pronounce them, but they are great. Stay away from that plate.” He cautioned. “but you’ll want to grab some of those.”
Erika followed his lead as he filled a plate as well. She noticed Jake kept looking into the family room full of the adults talking.
“What’s going on?”
“Stand right there and look like you are studying the cheese tray. If the woman in the blue sparkly dress looks this way, warn me.”
“What are you doing?”
“Grabbing the eggnog.” He whispered.
“You have to sneak it?” Erika asked under her breath.
“After last year, probably, yes.” He snickered. “Okay. I’m going to take these back. Meet you there.” He had three large glasses of eggnog in his hands.
“Erika,” her mother called. “Come meet Aparna’s mother.”
Erika set her plate down on the edge of the table and stepped into the living room. Her mother was sitting down next to a very wrinkled, very elderly Hindi woman in a Sari. She even had her head covered in the beautiful purple fabric.
“This is my daughter, Erika.” Her mother introduced. “Erika this is Aparna’s mother, Sadguna.”
Erika almost curtsied, but bowed her head instead.
The elderly woman took her hand in her cold gnarled one and patted it with the other as she smiled at Erika.
Erika wanted to leave, but the grandmother kept a firm hold on her hands. Erika just smiled back as her mother talked to the two of them.
“Nani, I see you have met Erika.” Grace appeared. “I need to introduce her to Gisella.”
Grace’s grandmother released Erika’s hands and smiled as the two girls left. Erika grabbed her plate and another glass of champagne.
“Sorry about that.” Grace grabbed a bottle of the bubbly. “Nani tends to latch on to people. “I wonder if you mother knows that she only understands one in five words of English.” She chuckled. “here, hold this.” She handed Erika the bottle while she grabbed an empty cup.
“I doubt my mother would even care.” Erika took a sip of the sparkling wine.
“Gisella is too wound up. I had to put her back in my room.” Grace apologized.
“Oh?” Erika pouted.
“My boyfriend is here too.” Grace almost bounced down the hall. She probably would have if she didn’t have her hands full. “We’ve decided to put on a movie. Hope you don’t mind.”
“Nope.” Erika bit into something that Jake had recommended. It was incredible.
“Miguel, this is Erika.” Grace introduced as they entered.
“Feliz Navidad.” Miguel greeted from the entertainment center.
“Hi.” Erika turned to Grace. “Is this all yours?” She asked referring to the garage conversion.
“I wish.” Grace filled Erika’s glass then poured each of the guys a glass. “I have an older brother who is in the Navy and a little brother who is spending the weekend with friends. It’s rare that Miguel and I get to have it alone.”
Miguel pushed play and sat in a recliner. Grace handed him his glass and eased into his lap.
“Erika, could you get the lights?” Grace asked.
Erika found the switch and waited by the door for a few seconds for her eyes to get accustomed to the low light.
“Here, Erika.” Jake offered the spot next to him again.
As Erika sat down, Jake stretched his arm across the back of the loveseat behind her. Conscious of it, she didn’t want to call him out. It could be just an innocent way of getting comfortable.
“Erika.” Miguel said with a Spanish accent. “Jake says that you are a cheerleader at Washington high.”
“Yes.” She answered. “Well, actually Rally squad.” What else did Jake tell them about her?
“I heard that one of them has a brain tumor.”
How did he hear about that? It wasn’t a secret, but she didn’t think that everyone in Constitution knew.
“That is me.” Erika tried to shrug it off.
“Hold on.” Grace sat up. “You have a brain tumor?”
“No.” Erika tried to calm her down. “I had it removed a few weeks ago.”
“Seriously?” Grace was having a hard time believing it.
“Yes. I’m fine, now.” Erika finished off the glass and poured herself another. Her head was definitely fuzzy now. “What is this?” She asked. “Even in the dim light put out by the T.V. she could tell that what she poured was not champagne.
“Eggsnog.” Grace laughed.
“Eggnog?” Erika took a sip. It was definitely eggnog.
Jake and Grace both laughed.
“What’s so funny?” Erika asked. “Did you put something in my drink?”
“No.” Grace was definite. “It’s just an inside joke between Jake and I.”
Miguel asked. “Didn’t they have to shave your head or something?”
“They went in through my nose.” Erika explained.
Erika could see Miguel cringe. “Ouch.”
“I got a free nose job out of it.” Erika stated.
“Really?” Jake asked. “I thought your nose was cute before. What did they do to it?”
“Just fixed my deviated septum.” Erika loved telling people that she got a nose job. Did Jake just say that she had a cute nose?
“Did it hurt?” Grace asked.
“I was on pain meds for a while, so I couldn’t really tell you. I think it did.”
“Erika, did you try one of these?” Jake held up a piece of food in his fingers. He held the morsel close to her face. Erika opened her mouth and he popped it in.
“Mm hmm.” She chewed the bit and swallowed. “I did, those are good.”
“How about this?” Jake held forth another.
Erika opened her mouth again as he set it on her tongue. His fingers brushed her lips as he removed them. Erika tasted it “Ooh, what is that?”
“I don’t know. I can’t pronounce half of the things Aparna makes, but they all taste fantastic.”
Erika chased the food with some more of the eggnog. She reached to her plate and picked up something and offered it to Jake. He opened his mouth and Erika placed it on his tongue. His lips closed around her finger as she withdrew, the sensation sent chills up her arm and down her spine.
He swallowed and opened his mouth signaling for more. Erika picked up another bite and did the same. Again, his lips closed around her finger. This time she was slower at withdrawing it.
What are you doing? She asked herself. This is Jake. She pushed the plate aside.
She sipped at her glass some more and pretended to watch the movie as Jake became very present in her mind. He wasn’t touching her, but all either one of them had to do was move a centimeter and they would. His masculine smell was very apparent in her nose. She couldn’t decide if she liked it. She was so used to Tricia’s sweet fragrance.
Erika drained the last of her glass.
“Here, may as well hand her the bottle.” Grace giggled as she handed the bottle to Jake who took a few swallows then handed it to Erika. She took a swallow and set it to the side.
Her eyes were feeling heavy when Jake nudged her. She snapped her head up and opened her eyes. He nudged her again. She looked over to see Grace curled up in a lip lock with Miguel.
She smiled. Grace and Miguel were a cute couple. She hoped the best for them. Her eye lids protested and soon closed again. She eventually became aware that she was leaning against Jake, her head against his shoulder. His arm was wrapped around her protectively. That was something that Tricia didn’t do. It felt good to feel that someone could protect you like that. It made her feel warm and tingly inside. She looked up at the football player. He was watching her. Was he watching her sleep? Was he protecting her while she slept against his shoulder? What a sweetheart. Their eyes locked and gazed at one another.
Erika bit her lower lip, confused at her feelings and what she should do. Should she pull back? His light embrace felt too good.
She didn’t have to figure it out. She felt his lips against hers. Part of her wanted to pull back and run out of the room. After all this was Jake. But a spark in her, an electric feeling connecting her lips to her heart told her not to move, but instead to reciprocate.
Erika Shifted to a better position and felt his large fingers caressing her face like a feather, so gentle, so tender. She kissed back, tasting him for the first time. Her tongue flicked against his lips seeking entry and was granted. Their tongues touched sending sparks up and down her spine. She shifted further, so that she was kneeling, straddling his leg, both of her hands grasped the sides of his face as she kissed him.
Jake pulled back to take a breath. “I didn’t know you liked guys.”
“I didn’t know you could be nice.” She said back through fuzzy thoughts. Her lips met his again.
His hands touched her knee and slowly, but firmly slid up her thigh. She pulled a hand away from his face and pushed his hand down. “No.” She said between kisses.
His hand reached behind and grabbed ahold of her butt and gave it a gentle squeeze. She couldn’t believe she didn’t mind.
A bright light blinded her, causing her to pull back in shock.
“Guess it’s a good thing I decided to come check on you.” Mr. Klaus stood in the doorway.
Erika tried to control her breath as she shakily got her feet under her.
“Dad.” Grace complained.
Mr. Klaus just stood there. “So, Miguel, I think it’s time you went home.” He stated. “Grace, why don’t you take Erika up to your mother’s bathroom. Jake. You should probably go into the bathroom down here.”
Grace got up and tried to pull herself together as Miguel got up and approached Mr. Klaus.
“I… I… um.” Miguel tried to speak.
“We’ll talk about this later.” He told Miguel. “Just be glad I’m in the Christmas spirit.” He made room for Miguel to leave.
“You three will join the adults in the other room when you are done.” He turned and headed back to the party.
“Oh my God.” Grace giggled. “I am so busted.”
Jake grinned. “Eggsnog.”
Grace burst into laughing as she took Erika’s hand and led her upstairs to her mother’s master bathroom.
“Crap.” Erika swore. “Is he going to tell my parents?”
“I doubt it.” Grace laughed. “Um, you have lipstick all over your face.”
Erika joined Grace in cleaning up and reapplying their makeup.
“Jake told me you were a lesbian.” Grace stated.
“I am, I mean, I… I… It has to be the eggnog.” She flushed.
Grace laughed again.
“What is it?” Erika redid her lips.
“Egg snog.” Grace pronounced it slowly separating it into two words. “Last year, Jake and I had too much eggnog and were found in my bedroom in the same position you and her were found in.”
“Sure. He’s a good-looking guy. And once you get past his rough defensive barrier, he’s quite sweet.’
Erika thought on that for a moment. She also thought on what her mother might do if she found out what happened tonight.
“How do I look?” Grace asked.
“Beautiful.” Erika smiled at her new friend. “How about me?”
Grace studied her for a moment. “You look amazing. I wish I had your eyelashes.”
The two girls joined the adults in the family room. Jake was standing amongst some men. He looked up with a sparkle in his eyes and smiled at Erika. Erika couldn’t help but smile back.
What was she doing? This is Jake. What’s he going to do or say at school? She almost groaned. He was a good kisser, and as Grace pointed out, he seemed to be nice, once you got past his jabbing jibes.
“There you are.” Erika’s mother approached with a smile. “Vince said that you were bored watching a movie and decided to join us.”
He didn’t tell her? Erika’s mind sighed with relief as she pasted a smile on her face.
“Would you like to try some eggnog?” her mother asked.
Both Erika and Grace burst out laughing.
“Did I say something funny?”
“Inside joke, mom.” Erika managed to get out. “I think I need to eat. Grace, can you show me what I’ve been enjoying?”
“Of course,” Grace led her back into the kitchen.
“What lovely people.” Erika’s mother stated as they drove home. “You and Grace seemed to have hit it off.”
“Yes.” Erika agreed. “She was very nice.”
“Was it interesting seeing Jake from school there? He seemed nice too.”
Interesting was hardly the word to describe seeing him. She was kissing him. Kissing him and liking it. She kissed Julian. He too was a good kisser, but she didn’t feel the spark with him that she did with Jake.
“Yes, he seems nicer away from school.” Erika commented absently.
How was she going to tell Tricia? Should she tell Tricia? Oh Lord, what has she done? What if Tricia takes it personally again and goes off and does something stupid? No, she shouldn’t tell Tricia. But what if Jake says something? If Jake said something, then She would have to tell Tricia and then Tricia would be even angrier that she didn’t tell her. Should she keep Samantha out of the loop too? Samantha wouldn’t tell Tricia, but what if Samantha slipped and Tricia found out? Oh God, she screwed things up again. Everything was going so well, and she had to go and screw everything up.
She hit her head against the back of her seat and closed her eyes. Eggsnog.
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