Abby was greeted at the front door by a tall, tanned dudebro with shaggy hair and a clean-shaven face. His shirt was only half-buttoned, showing off a long flat, hairless torso. He wasn’t wearing any shoes.

“Hey there,” he said. His long arms took up the entire doorway.

“Um… hi,” Abby said. “I’m looking for…” She froze, realizing that she didn’t know the name of the person throwing the party. For all she knew, this was him. Does this guy know who Brooklynn is? she thought.

“My name is Abby…?”

He stopped her. “It’s her,” he called out over his shoulder.

A woman’s voice belted out from behind him. “‘From the East to the West, they scream and shout!” Abby’s eyes lit up as Brooklynn emerged with a drink in her hand, shouting a familiar cheer from their high school days. “‘Ask them what they talkin’ about!'”

“Whatchu talkin’ ’bout!'”


“Whatchu talkin’ ’bout!”


“Whatchu talkin’ ’bout!”

“Willis! Willis!” Abby finished. The two women screamed and embraced each other, rocking wildly from side to side.

“It’s so good to see you!” Abby squeed.

“I know, it’s been like, forever, right?” Brooklynn said. “Let me look at you.” She pulled back from their hug and twirled Abby like a music box ballerina. Brooklynn nodded with approval. “Still Abby after all these years.”

“Gosh, thanks,” Abby said with a gentle shove. “You look great, of course. Eating nothing but kale and avocadoes out here?”

“Avocados are actually not that great for you,” Brooklynn said. “Pretty fatty.”

“Hey, Brooks,” the dudebro interjected, a grin creeping on his face. “You gonna introduce us?” His voice was flat with a west coast drawl. He stared at Abby’s chest when he spoke about her, as though her tits were pronouns. His eyes looked as though he’d been in the middle of a nap when Abby rang the bell.

“Abby, Mark. Mark, Abby.”

“Nice to meet you,” Abby said with a minimal smile, crossing her arms.

“Christ, Dude,” Brooklynn said to Mark, delivering an elbow to his flat – and most likely hard – stomach.

“Wha-h-hut?” Mark said, chuckling.

Brooklynn turned back to Abby, hooking her arm. “C’mon. Let’s go mingle.”


As it turns out, Mark was not out of place at the party with his almost-outfit. Nearly everyone sported a similar look, down to the shagginess, as though the party had caught them all off guard. People were so casual out here – so exposed. Even Brooklynn a flowy sundress that showed more skin than not. She was so loose and fluid, moving through the crowd like smoke and taking Abby along for the ride.

They returned to a small group of people talking among themselves.

“Alright, alright, alright,” Brooklynn announced. “Class, this is my friend. Abby.”

“Hiii, Aaa-byy,” they all said in unison.

“Abby, this is Morgan, Trevor, Julia, and Beau.” Abby waved and said hello to each new face.

“Are you from Iowa, too?” Beau asked.

“Ohio, actually,” Abby corrected.

“He knows that,” Brooklynn said, socking Beau in his beefy shoulder. “He’s just being an asshole.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Abby,” Trevor said with the slightest bow, holding out his hand.

“Oh… uh, you too,” she said, taking his hand. He wore a polo shirt, tucked in, and was the only one in the group drinking from a bar glass, and not from a bottle or a red Solo cup. He was also the only Black person

Abby had seen at the party so far.

“What brings you to L.A.?” he asked.

“I’m actually…”

Brooklynn jumped in, “Abby’s joining us at Mercer.”

“Go Kiwis!” they all cheered. All except Abby.

“Are you a teacher, Abby?” Lourdes asked.

“I don’t know about that,” Abby said with a nervous laugh.

“She’s going to be teaching English,” Brooklynn said.

“Ohhhhh,” the others said.

“Which grade?” Morgan asked.


“Ohhhhh,” the others repeated.

“Do not worry,” Julia said. “They are seniors. They are mostly potty-trained.”

They all laughed an appropriate amount.

“Do you all teach at Mercer as well?” Abby asked.

“Sí,” Julia said. “Español.”

“Film Studies,” Trevor said. “Department chair.”

“Maths,” Morgan said, emphasizing the “s.”

Beau stuck his chest out. “I’m drama!” he declared in a deep, throaty yalp.

“No shit,” Brooklynn said with a hard nudge.

“Let’s get you a drink,” Trevor said to Abby.

“Shots?” Morgan asked the group.

“Shots?” Beau said, shrugging.

“Shots,” Brooklynn said, nodding.

Abby held up her hand. “Oh, no thank you. I’m not much of a drinker. Not the hard stuff, anyway.”

They all paused and looked at each other, then burst out laughing. All except Abby.

Morgan and Brooklynn gathered shots from the bar, while Trevor procured a glass of wine for Abby. With everyone armed, they raised their drinks to the newest member of the Mercer family.

“To Abby,” Julia said.

“Welcome to Mercer,” Morgan said.

“Go Kiwis!” they all said.

“…Kiwis!” mersin escort Abby trailed.

Over the next hour, the group conversed, laughing loudly at several points. Whenever the conversation veered toward bitching about students or parents, Brooklynn declared a moratorium on all “shop talk” until Monday (She had to do this several times.). Abby didn’t say much. To her, they were all so quick. Every comment was a chance to top the last. They talked about politics and religion and sex with such openness in mixed company, never running short on opinions. They spoke so passionately about subjects that they ultimate cared little about. Everybody had a story about a brush with celebrity, times they came this close to meeting, seeing, or being. And freeways played such a frequent role in their day-to-day lives. Nobody once mentioned the weather, or the holidays, or the Browns. I’m definitely not in Cleveland anymore, Abby thought.


“Let’s go,” Brooklynn said, tugging at a belt loop in Abby’s jeans.

“What?” Abby said. She’d been listening to Trevor wax critically about the films of John Hughes.

Brooklynn grabbed hold of Abby’s hand. “Excuse us,” she said to Trevor. “We’ll be right back,” she said to the rest, who were all engaged in lectures of their own. She led Abby away from her new coworkers, through the crowd once again, toward the back of the house, to a door blocked off by a strip of yellow police tape.

“It looks like we’re not supposed to go in there,” Abby said.

Brooklynn turned to Abby and smiled. “Looks that way, huh?” she said. She gave Abby’s hand a squeeze before letting go, turning the knob on the door, and ducking underneath the tape.

Abby crossed her arms and raised her eyebrows at Brooklynn, who could only shrug her shoulders from inside the bedroom.

Abby sighed, rolled her eyes, and followed Brooklynn’s lead.


“Your friends seem nice,” Abby said, sitting on an unmade bed.

“Yeah, they’ll do,” Brooklynn said. “You having a good time?”

“I am,” Abby said, almost too cheerfully.

Brooklynn reached into her wild curls and retrieved a joint she’d stored behind her ear.

“Brooklynn,” Abby hissed. “Is that pot? You can’t smoke pot at these people’s house.”

“Tell me about it,” Brooklynn said. “Some greedy motherfuckers around here.”

“Dangit,” Abby groaned. She looked around the room. There were dumbbells, towels and sneakers – big sneakers – scattered about. She grabbed a towel and bunched it at the base of the bedroom door, closing up any open space. Then she headed to the window and opened it as wide as it would go.

Brooklynn watched attentively as Abby scurried about preparing the room. She placed the joint between her lips and patted her legs as though she had pockets, or pants. “Shit,” she said.

Abby spotted a lighter on the nightstand and handed it to Brooklynn, offering a little side-eye free of charge.

Brooklynn gave Abby a wink in return. “Teamwork,” she said, sparking the tip of the joint.

Back at the Willis School for Girls, Abby and Brooklynn had been drawn to one another by their shared awkwardness, their mutual love of black-and-white sitcoms and all things apple-cinnamon. Both had mothers who were “just concerned, is all” that their daughters didn’t know how pretty they could be “if only Abby would lose five pounds,” or “if only Brooklynn would just trim those wild curls of hers.” The girls had been best friends, teammates, and partners in crime. But after graduation, Brooklynn headed out west and didn’t look back, and so the two hadn’t spoken in five years – hadn’t seen each other in almost ten. Then out of the blue, Brooklynn reached out to Abby with news of a job opening at Mercer, where Brooklynn served as the school’s guidance counselor. For Abby, who’d just lost her job (among other things), the call had come just in time. She laughed to herself now, thinking about how Brooklynn had gotten her to come out to California after all.

“So what do you think about Trevor?” Brooklynn asked.

“Trevor?” Abby said.

“‘Trevor?'” Brooklynn said, imitating Abby. “Yes, Trevor.”

“He’s nice, I guess. Smart,” Abby said. “Why? What do you mean?”

Brooklynn gave her a sly smile. “I think he’s into you,” she said.

“Please. That stuff clearly works fast,” Abby said, pointing to the joint.

“Stoppit. He was totally flirting with you.”

“I’m sure he was,” Abby said.

Brooklynn dropped her voice. “‘If you need anything, Abby, uh… feel free to stop by my classroom. I’ll be happy to, uh… be of assistance.'”

“Shut-up,” Abby said, slapping Brooklynn’s leg.

“You should go for it.”

“Um… yeah no.”

“Why?” Brooklynn asked. “Cuz he’s Black?”

Abby raised her eyebrows. “Brooklynn!” she said in a stage whisper. “Come on now.”

“You know what it is, don’t you” Brooklynn said. “It’s that badonk you got back there.”

Abby gasped and turned bright red. “Brooklynn!”

“I’m serious. The stereotype is true. kocaeli escort Black guys can’t resist a nice round boo-tay,” Brooklynn said.

Abby simply shook her head to this. Then they sat silently for a while, Brooklynn taking drags from the joint, blowing thick clouds of smoke out the open window. The party had become but a muffled sound on the other side of the door. For the moment, it was the just the two of them once again.

“Thank you, Brooklynn,” Abby said finally. “You know. For everything.”

Brooklynn turned to Abby, leaned in, and brushed a strand of hair out of Abby’s eyes. She grabbed hold of Abby’s face and gave her a quick, but full, kiss on the lips. She then held the joint out to Abby, a trail of smoke dancing atop its cherry.

Abby shot her a look of disbelief, “I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”

“Hey,” Brooklynn said, smoke trickling from her nostrils. “I didn’t bring you here to be good.”


The two women cracked each other up with bad jokes and half-told stories. Brooklynn finished most of the joint herself, with help from a reluctant Abby. When she was done, she carefully spat on the tip of the roach, coating it completely, before discarding it out the window. Then she checked her phone. They’d been gone for over half an hour.

“Shit, we should head back out there,” Brooklynn said, though her now-mellow voice belied any real rush on her part. “Those fools have been texting me.”

“Is there a bathroom in here?” Abby asked, squinting hard.

Brooklynn nodded her head at a door to their left.

“You go ahead,” Abby said “I’ve got to…” She snapped her fingers, looking for the words. She gave up and simply pointed to the bathroom door.

“Gotcha,” Brooklynn said.

They both snorted with laughter at this. Abby shuffled off, blowing an audible kiss in Brooklynn’s direction.

Once in the bathroom, Abby closed the door and kept the lights off. She turned on the faucet and splashed her face with cold water, blinking repeatedly. She switched off the water and dabbed her face dry with the nearest towel.

Then she heard the bedroom door open, followed by a man’s voice. She couldn’t make it out, but she was sure it belonged to the owner of the bedroom. And she was sure it still smelled like pot in there. She and Brooklynn were busted, for sure.

Abby held her ear to the bathroom door. She could hear Brooklynn laughing, and then the guy laughing, too. And with that, Abby relaxed. Whatever Brooklynn was saying, it seemed she had things under control. Naturally. Still Brooklynn after all these years.

After the voices died down, Abby carefully opened the bathroom door. She saw that Brooklynn was still in the bedroom, though now she sat atop a dresser with her legs wrapped around Mark, the dudebro who’d greeted Abby at the front door. He was stripped down to his cargo shorts, Brooklynn holding onto his naked arms and his back, his tall frame holding her lean body in place. They were kissing hard and wildly, grunting and sucking and biting at each other’s lips and necks.

Abby immediately ducked back into the bathroom. But she didn’t close the door… not completely…

Instead, she watched Mark’s hands creep all over Brooklynn’s body – her arms, her shoulders, her waist, her legs. All the parts he could reach. And when he was done with those, he reached underneath her dress, which was already hiked up. Brooklynn’s black panties were in full view as Mark’s fingers spread across her ass, pulling her whole body into his. Brooklynn’s moaning increased as she gave her body over. She took out her pleasure on Mark’s mouth, leaning in, attacking it, harder and harder, until he let out a loud sudden growl. He pushed off of Brooklynn and stomped around the bedroom, holding his bottom lip.

“Got-dammit!” he spat with violence in his face. He stared back at Brooklynn, on her feet, mischievously smiling back at him, her chest heaving as hard as his. And when he finally lunged for her, snarling with a stiff palm (“You stupid bitch…”), she wound back and whacked him hard, open-hand across his face. The impact sent Mark stumbling to one knee, the sound of skin on skin filling the room. Before he could respond, Brooklynn slapped him again, in the same spot, harder, this time knocking him fully to the floor.

Abby threw her hand to her mouth to suppress a gasp. Mark wasn’t a small guy. Had he taken a successful swing at Brooklynn, it’s safe to say he would have done some damage. But you’d never know that now, with Mark on the floor holding his hot face, Brooklynn standing over him, in her sundress, shaking the sting out of her fingers.

There was that smile of hers again.

“C’mon, now” Brooklynn said. “You can do it.”

Mark staggered to his feet.

“That’s it,” she said. “Stand up straight. Arms at your side.”

Mark cautiously dropped his long arms. Even through a crack in the door, Abby could make out the handprints left on his face.

“Go on,” Brooklynn said.

Mark unfastened his belt, unzipped his shorts, samsun escort and let them fall to the floor. He tugged on the waistband of his knit boxers, raising his eyebrows. These too?

Brooklynn nodded. Those too.

A soft “Mm” snuck past Abby’s lips as Mark pulled down his underwear. Despite the distress on his face, he was erect. Brooklynn appeared at once pleased. Then just as fast, her smile was gone.

“Go,” she said.

On cue, Mark lifted his cock into his hand, seizing it by its base, and tugging at it until it was hard enough to stand straight on its own. Then he let go.

“Did I say, stop?” Brooklynn asked.

Mark obliged, pumping and panting, tightening all over. Muscles and veins cut grooves into his chest, his neck, and his broad, swimmer’s shoulders. And the faster and harder he beat his cock, the more defined he became, until his entire naked body transformed into an erection threatening to explode. When Brooklynn finally said “Stop,” he froze with his cock in his hand, and held his breath.

Brooklynn watched him and forced him to wear the silence. She grabbed the bottom of her dress and slowly lifted in above her head, revealing her small breasts wrapped in a black, strapless bra. She removed the dress completely and shook out her curls, tossing the dress to the side. She ran her hands all over her taut body and adjusted her bra and panties.

“Fuck,” Mark cried out desperately. He started jerking off again as though he had no control, aiming his erection at Brooklynn.

“Hey!” Brooklynn snapped. “What did I say?”

Mark halted once again. It was clearly getting more difficult for him each time.

From behind the bathroom door, Abby couldn’t turn away. And she couldn’t help but feel turned on. Maybe it was the pot. Maybe it was the command that Brooklynn demonstrated, not just over Mark, but over the whole situation – over her own body, and Abby’s too. Whatever it was, when Brooklynn ordered Mark to stop, Abby wanted nothing more than to start. She looked around as though she weren’t alone (as though someone were watching her), and quietly unzipped her jeans, sliding her fingers into her panties. Her heart raced, and her body felt light, as though she were getting high all over again.

Brooklynn stepped closer to Mark, who was trembling and gripping his cock. She was on top of him now, as close as she could be without actually touching him. Indeed, she went out of her way to not to touch him. Mark’s body shuddered at the closeness. With his free hand, he reached out for her, but she swatted him away.

“Uh-uh,” she said. “You know better.” She looked him up and down, then dropped to her knees, facing him head on.

“Move,” she said.

With trepidation, Mark relinquished his penis, and Brooklynn seized control of it – clasping her fingers around it then putting it in her mouth. Mark whimpered in gratitude as Brooklynn’s slippery lips waxed his cock in smooth, steady, stoking motions.

“Dontstopdontstopdontstop…” he begged.

She pulled back, and she ran her tongue along the crown, teasing it, kissing the tip. Then she swallowed it all again in one swift, single gulp.

“Oh-got-dammit!” Mark growled.

Abby heard herself moan, her fingers buried deep in her panties.

Brooklynn released Mark’s dick with a puckered pop of her lips. She caught her breath, staring down at the throbbing pink thing. She looked up into Mark’s face as she went back to work. She bobbed her head and his breathing became more and more halting as she went along.

Words were forcing their way through Mark’s tightly turned-up mouth. “I’m gonna…” he tried to say. “I’m gonna…”

“Mmhm…” Brooklynn said with her mouth full, sucking harder and faster.

“I’m gonna…”

“Mmhm… Mmhm…”

“OmigodImgonnacum!” he finally managed to say, followed by a deep, loooong groan. Only then did Brooklynn allow Mark to touch her with his hands again, as he clutched the back of her head and thrust his hips forward, jerking and grunting repeatedly. Then wilting on top of her, his legs now weakened and wobbly. When he was done, Brooklynn pulled away. Mark’s dick glistened with spit and semen as it fell from her lips, thick and limp. She lowered her head, paused, and swallowed hard. She let out a deep breath and wiped her bottom lip.

“Baby,” Mark said, “that was incredible.” He was almost standing upright again. That sleepy look was back in his face, accompanied by a wide, goofy grin. His movements, and his words, were awkward and clumsy.

“Listen, Brooks…”

“You can go now,” Brooklynn interrupted. She didn’t offer an explanation, and Mark appeared to know enough not to seek one out. He quietly gathered his clothes off the floor, got dressed (as dressed as he ever was) and exited the bedroom without another word.

Brooklynn got to her feet and stood with her eyes closed, taking in the fresh stillness of the room and the white noise of the people around her – colleagues and complete strangers, friends and lovers, past and present. She made as though she were going to say something aloud, then didn’t. Instead, she climbed onto the bed and lay on her back.

What is she up to now? Abby thought, still peaking from behind the door – her body still vibrating, her hand still wrist-deep in her pants. Mark had come hard, but quickly, and the whole encounter had been done before Abby was.

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