Trevor McPherson was barely even trying at this point to focus on his older sister’s tax form tutorial as he sat at the kitchen table between his sisters, a haze of fresh cigarette smoke engulfing his personal space from both sides. An unkempt Courtney, her hair in a ratty ponytail and decked out in a T-shirt and sweatpants, leaned in from one direction and Haylee leaned in from the other, with Trevor sitting in the middle supposedly getting a lesson in filing taxes but unable to get his mind off of the olfactory assault imposed upon him by his typically tone-deaf sisters.
Trevor didn’t know the details of why Courtney was suddenly trying so hard to make the peace with Haylee, but after multiple awkward weeks they had begun to communicate again recently, and he figured this morning invitation from Courtney to teach them how to file taxes had more to do with staying on Haylee’s good side than any serious good will gesture. Still, any situation where he got to sit at the kitchen table for a prolonged period with his sisters smoking on both sides of him was perfectly fine by him.
Nudging the form toward them just a little further so they could both see what she was doing, Courtney’s Marlboro Light Menthol 100 was for a moment directly under Trevor’s nose until she placed it between her lips and picked up the pencil, explaining through a talking dangle that “Now you subtract line 8 from line 5 to get the taxable income to write on line 9.”
Trevor looked intently at Courtney, pretending to care about her math lesson but instead focusing on the cigarette bouncing up and down between her lips and the steady spray of smoke pouring out of her mouth and nose like a garden hose, again filling his airspace with a direct haze of filth as she proceeded to write the number on line 9 in the tax form with her pencil. As Courtney finished writing, Trevor looked over his right shoulder to see Haylee looking on with glazed-over eyes, clearly having even less of a reason to pay attention than Trevor did to Courtney’s attempt at an informative gesture in tax preparation. But like Courtney, Haylee had a cigarette of her own hanging from her lips, a half-smoked Camel Pink that was the third she’d smoked in the half hour or so that Courtney had them gather at the table, and a fitting accessory to go along with Haylee’s pale pink pajamas that she still hadn’t gotten out of after sleeping till 10 that morning. Just as Trevor was recovering from the smoke assault he’d gotten from Courtney, a blob of smoke burst into his face from Haylee’s mouth and nose. It was a vicious cycle ongoing for the last half hour…only for Trevor the cycle was all too virtuous.
Looking past Trevor to make eye contact with Haylee, Courtney addressed her younger sister directly, sensing her mind was elsewhere. “Get that Hales?” Courtney asked.
“Yeah, I guess,” Haylee responded half-heartedly, the pink and white cigarette bouncing to life between those lips for the first time since they sat down.
“I know you guys would rather be doing other stuff on a Saturday morning, but it’s not often we’re all here at the same time and I figure you guys should know this for when you have to file yourself. It’s only three weeks till they’re due,” Courtney followed up, wisps of smoke still spilling from her mouth and nose with every word spoken as she did the math in her head to make sure it was three weeks until April 15th.
“Yeah, thanks for showing us,” Trevor volunteered, putting on a veneer of gratitude even though the tax paperwork had nothing to do with what he was grateful about with this encounter. As Courtney pressed forward with further explanation, rummaging through the papers in front of her and proceeding to confuse herself more than she was teaching her younger siblings, Trevor and Haylee further trailed off, finding themselves much more interested in the dialogue ensuing on the other side of the table.
“That’s right. She’ll be 15 already next Sunday,” their mother Becky said to a relative on the phone in her husky long-time smoker’s voice, in obvious reference to Haylee’s approaching early April birthday, then pausing briefly for the response on the other end before responding, “Right, her party’s next Sunday at 3:00 at our house. Just cake, ice cream, and presents. Nothing too elaborate,” Becky added with a nervous laugh that really showcased the depth of her vocal husk before taking another drag off of her Marlboro Red and adding to the haze of cigarette smoke at that table.
Haylee kept her game face, tightening her lips on her Camel Pink to camouflage her mixed emotions about this birthday party her mom was setting up. She felt she was too old for this sort of thing, but appreciated her mother’s effort to do something special for her. It seemed par for course, however, that the only time of the year Haylee felt special to her family came in the form of a juvenile birthday party that she’d long ago outgrown.
Becky wrapped up the conversation with whichever relative she’d been on the phone with, waited for a pause in Courtney’s relentless tax form lecture, and then directed a question to Haylee. “Have you asked Susie to come to your party yet? If not, I’ll call her mom.”
Haylee shrugged and responded, “I haven’t asked her. We’re really not that close anymore,” with a hint of sadness in her eyes about yet another friend she’d drifted away from. Becky paused for a moment listening to Haylee, realizing that Haylee’s comment about Susie was true of several of her old friends. Only Trevor seemed to put two and two together that Haylee’s heavy smoking was a large part of what had driven her isolation. Both Trevor and Haylee perked their ears up as Becky got on the phone to call Susie’s mom.
The conversation was brief and it was quickly evident by their mother’s body language and responses that she’d gotten an abrupt no when inquiring about Susie’s presence at Haylee’s party. Becky looked awkwardly at Haylee, putting her on the spot and asking, “What happened with you two? We couldn’t tear you two apart a couple of years ago.”
Haylee shrugged, dangle-dragging from her cigarette and eventually responding, “Just grew apart I guess. It happens,” with the smoke flow spilling from her mouth inadvertently telling the real story of what drove them apart, with Susie not responding well to Haylee’s lifestyle choices.
Becky pressed forward. “Have you talked to any of your friends about coming? I want to know how many to expect so I know how much food to make.”
Haylee largely avoided eye contact, dangle-dragging again with her cigarette down to its stub. Sensing the cigarette was at its end, she finally removed it from her mouth and approached the filter and the half-inch granny ash to the nearby butt bucket to crush it out, finally getting around to responding with the smoke still bursting out of her mouth and nose. “I haven’t talked about it a lot I guess, mom. I’m not all that close with too many people in the high school.”
Trevor and Becky both sensed this response was equal parts defiance and a cry for help, and Courtney had by now given up trying to hold their attention and was listening to Haylee as well, also concerned about the relative isolation Haylee seemed to be creating for herself at such a critical phase of her socialization. Only Trevor seemed to connect the dots that in today’s culture, the smoker-friendly island that was the McPherson home provided Haylee the only sanctuary where she could indulge her ferocious addiction to nicotine, and that by itself was making it easier for her to shut the rest of the world out.
Finally, Becky broke the awkward silence and threw out a few more names of old friends that she thought Haylee should invite, getting continued halfhearted reaction from Haylee who nonetheless agreed to ask the suggested friends just to get her mom off of her back.
Suddenly a light went off in Trevor’s head, and before he had time to fully think through the implications of his suggestion, he went with his gut and spoke aloud to his mother, “You know Lauren’s birthday is on April 6th…only two days after Haylee’s. I bet she’d be up for sharing a party with Haylee….” Trevor offered, then turning to Haylee almost as an afterthought and adding, “….if Haylee would be okay with it.”
Becky’s eyes lit up, liking the sound of what she heard as she dragged from her Marlboro Red. “That’s a great idea, honey. If we did that the Nelsons could pay half and we’d be more likely to get rid of all of this food I just ordered.” Becky looked to Haylee and asked her, “Would you be okay with having Lauren over and have a party for two?”
All eyes were on Haylee, with Trevor getting only a split-second to contemplate the perfect smoking fetish fantasy of Lauren and Haylee together for the same teenage birthday party, but then immediately sensing from Haylee’s body language that she wasn’t having it at all. “Yeah…whatever,” Haylee said, in a tone even more sullen than usual, reaching for her pack of Camel Pink No. 9s for yet another cigarette. Trevor knew he had overstepped, and Courtney was immediately sensing Haylee’s escalating unhappiness as well, interrupting on Haylee’s behalf to address their mother.
“Mom, this is supposed to Haylee’s day. I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Courtney offered, watching as Haylee lit her cigarette and sensing that she was correctly relaying Haylee’s thoughts.
But Becky seemed to have been instantly sold on the idea Trevor pitched to her, looking to Haylee as if hoping Courtney’s take was wrong, trying to talk Haylee into it by adding, “You and Lauren get along great, Haylee. Maybe you could make some new friends meeting some of her friends.”
Trevor was kicking himself for bringing it up as it was obvious that Haylee was furious about this development, even if she couldn’t bring herself to say so and reveal how much the birthday party actually meant to her. “It’s fine, mom. Invite Lauren. The more the merrier, right?!” Haylee snapped with a faint battle cry that she hoped would be obvious enough that her mom could read between the lines, puckering her lips around her dangling cigarette and expecting the hint to have been taken.
But a split second after Haylee’s subtle act of defiance, the nearby back door was opened and McPherson family patriarch Steve walked in, instantly diverting everybody’s attention, especially that of daddy’s girl Courtney.
“Hey dad”, Courtney exclaimed in the perkiest tone anybody had heard from her all day, instinctively reaching for her pack of Marlboro Light Menthol 100s in her father’s presence and extracting a cigarette. “They got you working Saturday morning huh?”
“Hey Courtney,” Steve responded, delight in his eyes over the warm greeting from his oldest daughter, keeping his eyes locked on her as she sparked up her long cigarette and produced one of her stunningly long exhales directly off of the light-up. “Unfortunately yeah. The server crashed overnight and the entire IT team got woke up by the call at 5 a.m.”
Courtney and Becky continued to direct their attention entirely upon the latest entrant to the room as Steve walked up to the table and inquired about Courtney’s tax forms still sprawled all over the table in front of her. Everybody had already forgotten about Haylee’s birthday party conflict except for Trevor, who looked to his right just in time to see Haylee get up from the table and quietly walk away with no pushback from those she was leaving behind. Trevor couldn’t help but watch her slink away, struck by the oddball image of his sister’s adolescent appearance in the baggy pale pink pajamas and its contrast with the trail of smelly cigarette smoke that lurked in the shadow of her every footstep en route to the stairs.
Trevor sat there listening to Courtney and Becky talk with Steve, but couldn’t get Haylee’s reaction out of his mind, or the secondary epiphany that just hit him of why it would really be awkward for Haylee to have Lauren there. He got up from the table and ascended the same stairs Haylee had just moments earlier. He didn’t know if he could make this right but felt obligated to do something, knocking on Haylee’s door, asking if he could come in a split second before taking the initiative and opening it.
Haylee was lying in her bed and looking at her phone from a near-horizontal position, her cigarette perched in her lips as always while casually belching out spurts of smoke. She gave Trevor a gaze that was equal parts icy and indifferent. “What do you want?” she snapped with middling-level disgust, temporarily distracting Trevor with the extra burst of smoke spilling out due to her talking exhale.
Trevor hesitated as if searching for the right tone. “I just wanted to apologize. I had forgotten why you might not want the Nelsons over again for your birthday, knowing that Brian will be with.”
Haylee’s head snapped Trevor’s direction, not even putting together the implications till just now but being even more concerned that Trevor apparently knew far more than she thought he did. “What about Brian?” Haylee finally asked, her tone indicating that her brother had touched a very unexpected nerve.
Trevor realized he’d dug his hole even deeper but having gone there, he figured he might as well ride out the storm and at least get more details over his sister’s activity that had piqued his curiosity for the last three months. “Well…..I heard you two in the closet on New Year’s,” Trevor offered, nervous about Haylee’s response but unable to look away.
Haylee was clearly caught off-guard, her face turning a deeper hue of pink that her pajamas or the camel logo on the cigarette she finally removed from her mouth in order to make a forceful rebuttal. “All we did was kiss. I don’t know what you think you heard but unlike others in this house I can keep it in my pants!” she barked, the wisps of smoke from her talking exhale escaping her mouth and nose at a much quicker pace than usual due to how worked up she was.
Trevor began to respond, “It’s none of my business. I just wanted–”
“You’re right! It is none of your business!” Haylee then reached for one of the pillows on her bed and tossed it aggressively at Trevor, exclaiming “Now get out of here!” with a fury in her eyes above and beyond anything he’d seen from her recently.
Trevor made eye contact with her one last time after the pillow hit him in the face. “Just let me talk to mom and get the double birthday party out of her mind, okay?”
“Just forget it okay. It might be less miserable if Lauren is here. At least then everybody will have someone to talk to that isn’t me! Now LEAVE!” she finished, raising her voice to its highest level yet.
Trevor turned around and walked out the door, feeling a wave of mixed emotion from the exchange. If he had it to do over again, he probably wouldn’t have suggested to his mom to host a double birthday party with Lauren. On the other hand, it sure would be sweet to have so many people from their mutual social circle under the same roof if he could pull it off. He also felt a little bit of relief that his kid sister hadn’t lost her virginity to his girlfriend’s younger brother, but on the other hand, it had been kind of hot for him to imagine young Brian being seduced by Haylee in the storage closet of his house on New Year’s. He also couldn’t get Haylee’s words out of his mind about “everybody in this house not being able to keep it in their pants” and figured she was implicating Courtney as well. Trevor didn’t know the details but figured with as long as Courtney and Haylee had been feuding after New Year’s, something big must have gone on. As he walked back toward the kitchen to catch up with his dad, he was pretty pleased with how productive the morning had gone, but couldn’t wait for seven days later when the two birthday girls might be together under one roof again.
Monday morning during lunch break at school, Haylee was up to her old tricks, darting her eyes nervously side to side and hoping to get lost in the mass of students as she eyed the janitor’s closet up ahead. With bookbag in hand, Haylee leaned briefly against the wall next to the unlocked door and then slipped inside when she thought nobody was paying attention. Once inside she maneuvered her way through the crawlspace until she was in the stealth, isolated, and dirty vent shaft area that had been her secret lunch time smoking area since September. She opened up her bookbag and removed three items with an escalating sense of urgency. Coming out of the bag first was a bottle of flavored water followed by a bag of potato chips, but she saved her best for last when she hastily extracted her pack of Camel Pink No. 9s and wasted no time removing a cigarette and inserting it into her mouth, dangling it for no more than a split second before applying the flame from her lighter to the end of the cigarette. The sensation of nicotine relief after four hours of deprivation splashed across her youthful face, the cherry glowing a neon shade of red as she puckered up her lips to consume as much tobacco as she possibly could in one breath. As she finally exhaled and began to expel all of that smoke that had been inside her body for the last several seconds, she wished for a second that she had a mirror so she could have seen the look on her face as she took in that first blast of nicotine.
She followed that first drag up with several more intense drags and had more than a third of the cigarette put away in less than a minute, at which point she finally got around to opening up that bag of potato chips almost as an afterthought. For the next couple of moments, she sat there contentedly, taking a couple drags from her cigarette for every bite of potato chips, but her peaceable enclave suddenly became corrupted for the first time in more than six months as she heard the door open. After the initial shock of hearing the door open, Haylee quickly removed the cigarette from her mouth and cupped her hand to contain the smoke as much as possible, knowing it was a lost cause if it was the wrong person. Haylee could see the feet of the likely male intruder step inside and then close the door behind him. In a hushed tone, the confused male voice called out, “Haylee…are you in here?”
Relieved that it was a familiar and nonthreatening voice, Haylee responded “Jacob?” with even more confusion about his presence.
“Where the hell are you?” Jacob inquired.
“Just crawl through the crawlspace to your right. I’m in the vent shaft.” Haylee responded, her original terror quickly transitioning to excitement based on who it was.
Jacob Roth, Haylee’s dance partner from the Valentine’s dance, worked his way inside, the stench of cigarette smoke becoming more intense with every inch closer he got to Haylee. He struggled to work through the small space and found it was definitely not made for two people as he wiggled right up to Haylee, whose cigarette stub was now parked in her mouth again with a subtle but flattered smirk visible despite the cylindrical tobacco obstruction between her lips.
Haylee looked him up and down, taken again by his tall, dark, and handsome look and muscular upper body just as she had at the dance. She then pointed to the nearby vent and warned Jacob, “The girl’s bathroom is right on the other side here so we gotta be quiet”, she whispered in a setting that reminded her of New Year’s Eve night with Brian Nelson in her parent’s storage closet.
Jacob responded with a shoosh gesture, evoking the same charm that made Haylee’s heart melt at the Valentine’s dance.
“What are you doing in here anyway?” Haylee asked, finally addressing the obvious.
“You’re one hard girl to find. We had such a great time at the dance last month that I’ve been keeping my eye out for you ever since. I noticed a couple of weeks ago you slipped into this closet, but then I saw it again today. I finally put together that it must be your smoking sanctuary.”
“Creeeeper!!!” Haylee responded only half-jokingly but maintaining a smile because as creepy as it would have been with just about everyone else, she loved the idea of this hot senior guy stalking her at school. She took a final puff of her cigarette and crushed it out in the corner of the dirty space, with Jacob’s eyes following her every gesture.
“I don’t want to seem creepy but I really wanted to talk to you again. We really had a great time and I wanted to hang out with you more,” Jacob responded.
Haylee had already extracted another cigarette from her pack and placed it between her lips, responding, “Yeah right….” pausing to flick the cigarette to life with her lighter and then resuming, “….I know all about you, Jacob Roth. You just want to get down my pants!” teasing him by turning her ass draped in black leggings with hot pink stripes toward him.
Jacob struggled to maintain his focus and charm as he choked on the thick haze of cigarette smoke filling up the cramped space, but pressed forward through watery eyes, “I know….I know. I’ve probably created a bit of a reputation for myself in the past, but wasn’t I a perfect gentleman toward you on the night of our dance?”
The smile on Haylee’s face widened and her eyes narrowed as she puckered her lips around the cigarette filter for another drag, indicating heightened attraction and signaling to Jacob her interest even before verbally confirming it by responding, “Yes you certainly did” through a messy talking exhale that wandered right into Jacob’s face.
“All I’m asking is to give me another chance to prove I can be like that all the time with you,” Jacob said in a tone that seemed less than fully sincere, reminding Haylee to not put her guard down and let this guy think he had her where she wanted him.
“Maybe,” Haylee responded coyly, the cigarette bouncing between her lips with each of the two syllables and smoke continuing to spill from her lips and mouth.
Jacob smiled, not wanting to press too far too quickly and instead enjoying a moment of attracted body language with this cute freshman girl who he’d been unable to get out of his mind for the past six weeks. He finally broke the silence and extended his hand toward Haylee. “Can I have a drag?”
Haylee laughed and then took the half-smoked cigarette out of her mouth, asking “Have you ever smoked before?”
“I’ve vaped,” responded Jacob.
“Totally different thing!” Haylee exclaimed.
Jacob extended his hand closer to her, requesting again through his charming smirk, “Just let me give it a try and I’ll let you know, huh?”
Haylee handed over the cigarette, adding “This should be good!” as the cigarette approached Jacob’s lips. He took a quick puff and Haylee eyeballed him closely for his reaction. She could tell he wasn’t digging the taste as he blew out the smoke without inhaling.
“Meh!” Jacob shrugged, trying to seem disinterested without seeming disgusted.
Haylee wasn’t gonna let him off the hook that easy though, responding “Dude that’s not smoking. You gotta inhale!” reclaiming the cigarette and placing back to her lips to show him. “Like this,” she added, showing him her full drag and follow-up exhale and then handing it back to him.
Jacob took the cigarette and this time followed Haylee’s lead, completely unprepared for his bodily response when he ingested a snootful of smoke and launched into a violent coughing fit. Haylee let loose a laugh that was quite a bit louder than she’d hoped it would be and was becoming concerned that it might be heard through the vents in the girls’ bathroom before reminding herself and the still-recovering Jacob to lower their voices again.
The continued look of disgust was tangible on Jacob’s face as he handed Haylee back the cigarette. Haylee showed him up by taking a final drag from the cigarette and exhaling the smoke with a cocky sense of empowerment, adding “I hate to break it to you, tough guy, but these cigarettes are designed for girls,” showing him the pack of Camel Pinks to emasculate him a little more as she crushed out the cigarette and immediately plucked out of the pack her third cigarette of the lunch break.
All Jacob could do was nod with his douchey smirk, trying to salvage whatever dignity he could following his bad miscalculation, seeing in Haylee’s eyes how much she was loving the altered power dynamic of this freshman girl who’d just made a fool of him. As Haylee proceeded to light the next cigarette, Jacob now had an odd respect for her that was only increasing his attraction. He broke the awkward silence and addressed the obvious by being as charming as possible, pointing to the cigarette hanging out of Haylee’s mouth and the bag of potato chips she was semiregularly dipping into and saying “I used to think my lunches were pretty unhealthy,” pausing to observe Haylee smile before adding, “Do you smoke in here every day?”
“Every day since September. Haven’t been caught yet…until today at least!” Haylee responded.
“Impressive,” Jacob said while nodding affirmatively. “You been smoking a long time?”
Haylee nodded, coyly responding, “For a few years.”
“Pretty heavily too it seems?” Jacob continued to inquire watching Haylee take another of her regularly timed drags.
Haylee nodded again, responding, “Oh yeah!” with a vocal flourish that was reinforced with an inadvertent smoker’s cough a second later.
“I’m assuming your parents know. They must be pretty cool to let you smoke like that…” Jacob pressed.
Haylee’s look shifted from flirtatious to agitated as Jacob brought up her parents. “Don’t even get me started!”
“Parent issues?” Jacob continued to press.
“You have no idea!” Haylee fired back.
“I’m a captive audience if you want to vent,” Jacob followed up, trying to show Haylee he had a sensitive side and wasn’t the kind of guy she thought he was.
After a couple more exchanges, Haylee let her guard down and started spilling about how disrespected and invisible she felt, and once she got started venting, she couldn’t stop, ultimately landing on the latest episode of contention….the birthday party.
“….so now it’s gonna be MY birthday and my parents are gonna let my brother’s girlfriend steal the show by having a party for two. Her birthday’s a couple of days later.”
Jacob had tried to be silent and let Haylee do most of the talking, but chose the moments when he asked questions that propelled her bitching session along, inquiring “You don’t like your brother’s girlfriend?”
Haylee took another drag from her cigarette and responded through a talking exhale, “Actually I like her a lot, but that’s not the point. My parents treat her different from me even though she’s only one year older. They even let her drink wine on New Year’s and told me I couldn’t. I don’t want that rubbed in my face again at what’s supposed to be my birthday party!” She paused and then continued, “And the party was supposed to be on Sunday but in order to be on Lauren’s family’s schedule, they’re moving the party to Saturday. My sister has to work that day so she won’t even be able to be there. So things are already fucked up!”
As Haylee continued to vent, she was impressed by how much of an interest Jacob seemed to be taking, but always kept reminding herself that this could all be part of his act to get toward the ultimate goal of deflowering her. Still, Haylee needed somebody in her life who she could talk to after bottling everything up so long, and Jacob had patiently filled that need for the nearly the entire lunch period. As she crushed out her fourth cigarette since arriving, she looked at her phone and determined she had time for a fifth today, storing up on the nicotine she’d need to get through another long afternoon in classes, and bantering a little more with Jacob who reached his hand out again when he saw her looking at her phone.
Haylee saw Jacob’s extended hand and asked sarcastically, “Oh do you want to try my cigarette again?”
Jacob smirked and responded, “Definitely not! But I’d like to see your phone. It looks like mine.”
Haylee had an idea what he was up to and handed it to him with a faux look of exaggerated distrust. As expected, Jacob proceeded to punch in digits onto her phone, hand it back to her and say, “You got my number now. If you ever want to talk, I’ll be happy to listen. If you ever want to hang out, that’d be even better.”
Haylee nodded with a smirk she couldn’t wipe off of her face even though she wanted to, not ready to green light Jacob for anything beyond the vent shaft crawlspace they shared during today’s lunch period but unable to stop herself from sending the visual signals of her continued interest through her body language. She powered through that last cigarette as they exchanged final comments before Haylee led the way to attempt a stealth escape from the janitor’s closet. She slipped through the door and got immediately lost in the hallway traffic herself, walking about 20 feet toward the lockers and then looking over her shoulder to let Jacob slip out. She smiled and then let him catch up.
“We probably better not make a habit of meeting like that every day but I hope you don’t mind if I crash your lunch hour again some time.”
Haylee didn’t directly answer him, but looked his attractive profile up and down one more time and responded, “I really enjoyed your company today, Jacob. Thanks for listening.”
As they exchanged farewells and Jacob began to walk away, Haylee got an unpleasant surprise when a familiar voice approached her from behind. A startled Haylee was looking at older sister Courtney, who herself reeked of cigarettes that she’d probably smoked in her car during lunch period, and Courtney was giving her a deeply concerned sisterly scowl.
“Jacob Roth!” exclaimed Courtney after seeing the fellow senior bantering with the freshman Haylee. “That guy is bad news, Haylee. He’s already gone through the senior class and is now chasing after every underclass skirt in the high school.”
Haylee was visibly annoyed about being busted and responded defensively, “I know about his reputation, Court. We were just talking.”
“It always starts that way Haylee. He’s grooming you.”
“Don’t worry Courtney,” Haylee snapped back. “I’ll make sure you get to fuck him first just like my other boyfriends!!” playing the Grant card as aggressively as possible to remind Courtney of her nonexistent moral high ground.
Courtney knew she deserved that rejoinder but was nervously looking around hoping none of her acquaintances had heard Haylee call out Courtney for what she did on New Year’s and a few times afterwards with Haylee’s ex-boyfriend. Courtney recovered as quickly as possible though and tried to cool Haylee’s temper, calmly responding, “Haylee, we gotta get to class, but trust me that I’m looking out for you here.” Courtney put her hand on Haylee’s shoulder in a reassuringly big sister sort of way adding, “Please just stay away from him, okay?”
Haylee could tell Courtney’s concern here was sincere and responded with a nonhostile and matter-of-fact, “Okay!”
Courtney smiled, knowing she still had a long way to go to get back to the terms she was on with Haylee before the New Year’s incident but was pleased that she seemed to be breaking through at least a little on an important sisterly exchange. They parted ways as the two girls headed for their respective early afternoon classes which were moments away from beginning, but as Haylee walked toward class the smile re-emerged on her face as she recalled her lunchtime banter with Jacob.
The following Saturday afternoon, the McPherson home was filled up with family and friends who came to celebrate Haylee’s birthday, along with a dozen or so perfect strangers who came for Lauren’s birthday. Lauren was not yet here, with Trevor and her parents agreeing it would be fun to surprise Lauren by having some friends bring her over to the McPherson home without knowing it was for a birthday party in her honor.
Haylee walked around mingling with the crowd, extremely displeased with the “surprise party” angle for Lauren that would be coming at any moment. She was decked out in pastel colors, a white blouse with tight, pale pink pants that matched the profile of a girl turning 15, in sharp contrast to the cigarette in her hand or dangling from her lips more often than not as she greeted and chatted up the relatives and family friends, many of whom gritted their teeth through fake smiles of their own seeing Haylee smoking so openly and heavily but knowing from experience with her mother that this was the culture of the McPherson home and would never change, and that this was the wrong place to protest.
For his part, Trevor’s attention was divided, looking out the front window for the arrival of his friend’s car knowing a very surprised Lauren would be riding along, and also taking in this crowd of which Trevor was far more tuned in to than Haylee in terms of reading their body language in this smoky environment. He recognized most of his own family and friends, a couple of whom were smoking themselves, but was really attentive to the strangers in the group who he believed were connected to Lauren, most of whom seemed visibly repulsed by the tobacco stench in the home and couldn’t seem to take their eyes off of Becky and Haylee as they smoked amongst this crowd without giving it a second thought.
Of particular interest to Trevor was the mid-teen blond who he’d already met a few times sitting next to her mother. The blond was Lauren’s cousin and BFF Carly, who was responsible for sneaking Lauren’s earliest cigarettes with her a couple of years earlier. Trevor couldn’t help but notice that Carly was leering at the chain-smoking Haylee with obvious jealousy, and Carly’s mother was leering at Haylee for different reasons with an entirely unamused look on her face. Neither of them had smoked in the half hour since they’d arrived and Trevor was only too eager to see how this dynamic unfolded when Lauren arrived.
Moments later, a familiar car arrived but it wasn’t the one transporting Lauren. It was Lauren’s mother Michelle and brother Brian, walking up the street and arriving at the front door. Trevor, Becky, and Steve all approached the front door to welcome them, and as they stepped inside, Becky motioned Haylee over and called out in her raspy voice, “Haylee, come say hi to Michelle and Brian.”
Haylee reluctantly approached, expecting it to be awkward and confirming the suspicion as she saw Brian looking to the ground as she approached, unable to make eye contact after their oddball wine-induced romantic episode from New Year’s. Introductory greetings were nonetheless passed along with everybody but Trevor finding it odd that Haylee and Brian refused to even look at each other.
“Craig not coming today?” Steve asked in regards to Lauren’s father and his own friend.
“Oh he’s definitely gonna be over but a bit later,” Michelle answered with a flourish that intrigued everybody, especially Trevor.
But before Michelle’s response could be given any context, everybody’s attention was diverted by the sight of a familiar approaching car, to which Trevor called out, “Here she comes!” to briefly quiet and focus the crowd.
The silver Toyota pulled up into the driveway, which had been left open per Becky’s request, and Trevor stood at the doorway to see his friends Nick and Lacey in the front seat and a confused, Marlboro Light-wielding Lauren in the passenger seat. Nick was one of Trevor’s best friends and he and Lauren had hit it off with Nick and his girlfriend Lacey at the Valentine’s dance….and they’d been hanging out with Lauren ever since. Trevor had gotten off on the four of them driving around on weekends with Lauren being the only smoker in the group. He was now getting off on the fact that Lauren’s smoking had already become so normalized to them that she was smoking in the backseat of Nick’s car en route to her own surprise party.
Finally, Lauren stepped out of the back seat car door, decked out in a black blouse and Trevor’s favorite pair of white pants which he hadn’t seen on her since Thanksgiving, with a look of bewilderment that was all too familiar and all too adorable to Trevor, the confusion finally broken when a crowd of people from inside, including Trevor shouted, “Happy sweet 16 Lauren!!!!”
Lauren’s confused look didn’t dissipate completely but nonetheless slowly transitioned to excitement, albeit with Lauren’s face turning a candy apple shade of red from embarrassment. As family and friends spilled outdoors to greet her, Lauren clearly felt especially awkward holding the half-smoked Marlboro Light 100 in her hand while family members and friends who either didn’t know she smoked at all or didn’t realize how normalized it had become for her, were approaching her for personalized greetings.
Finally, Trevor walked up and said as quietly as possible, “Happy birthday baby. We thought we’d throw a double birthday party for you and my sister.”
Lauren seemed overwhelmed and still shy, but couldn’t help but pull in and give Trevor a heartfelt smooch from her nicotine-stained lips for the gesture, to which the crowd made a collective “Wooooo!” sound that only intensified the awkwardness for the couple.
As Lauren surveyed the crowd, she spotted Haylee, who didn’t seem to be having such a great time. Lauren offered a warm smile and a wave, saying “Happy birthday Haylee!” loud enough that Haylee could hear. Haylee put on her fake smile again as she waved back, but Lauren could tell from the body language that Haylee was extremely unhappy.
As Lauren followed the crowd inside, still holding her cigarette in hand, she came upon cousin Carly and her mother Gina. Lauren sat down to talk to them, but the dynamic felt as off to her as the dynamic with Haylee seconds earlier. Even though Carly was technically the one who corrupted Lauren by talking her into trying smoking, the tables turned as soon as the girls were busted. Gina was mortified that Carly was smoking and decided to quit smoking herself so she could deny Carly with a clear conscience. Meanwhile, Lauren’s parents let her smoke. But neither Gina nor Carly had realized things had gotten this out of control watching Lauren discreetly take puffs from her cigarette in a stranger’s home right in front of family and friends.
Trevor was watching, listening in, and occasionally interjecting in the conversation between cousins. He’d seen Lauren give Carly cigarettes when they hung out in the past and had been under the impression that Carly didn’t have access to cigarettes at home, but the scenario playing out directly in front of Carly’s mom with Lauren openly smoking in front of them was more delicious than he could have ever imagined. He paused to silently congratulate himself for coming up with the idea for a double birthday party and convincing his mom to agree to it, even though he knew he’d done no favors for himself with Haylee as he was reminded of whenever he made eye contact with her and saw how unhappy she was.
Trevor was in heaven for the half hour or so, as lunch and cake were served followed by the opening of presents. Haylee proceeded to smoke at her usual pace throughout, with the largely appalled crowd of guests biting their tongue. Lauren smoked once more but Trevor could tell it was weirder for her than it was for Haylee, and he loved to see the reactions of some of Lauren’s family and friends when she smoked, as well as the look of Lauren’s mother who felt judged for being the one who allowed Lauren to smoke.
The two birthday girls went back and forth opening their presents, with Lauren’s girlish happiness being largely genuine as she evaluated her gifts and then thanked those responsible for them, while Haylee’s response to her gifts was more muted. This wasn’t a huge surprise to anybody there that knew Haylee, but both Trevor and Lauren were picking up on the subtext of Haylee’s increased agitation and displeasure. But neither of them had any idea how much worse things would get for Haylee as they heard another car pulling into the driveway and then laying on the horn.
Everybody but Michelle was confused as they turned around to look out the window, but Lauren replicated the look of confusion that was on her face when she pulled into the surprise party, a look Trevor absolutely adored, as she surveyed the 2013 Toyota Camry in the driveway with her dad behind the wheel, motioning her and everybody else outside. Lauren, still smoking her cigarette, led the way outside. Her father stepped out of the car and held the keys in front of him.
“Here’s a little incentive for you to pass your driver’s test next week,” Craig announced, handing the keys to Lauren, whose look of confusion transitioned to jubilant shock as she finally realized that this was gonna be her car once she got her driver’s license. “Why don’t you get behind the wheel and see how it feels?” Craig added, watching his daughter sit behind the steering wheel and immediately defile the interior of her new car with the third-hand smoke from her Marlboro Light.
“I love it, dad!” Lauren exclaimed jubilantly. “Thank you so much!”
As the crowd oohed and awed over Lauren’s new car, encircling it to check the car out and take in Lauren’s reactions, an enraged Haylee stood at the doorway realizing that her birthday party had now been completely hijacked. She lit another cigarette and sat on the couch by herself, taking her phone out of the back pocket of her pink pants. She paused as she saw the name Jacob Roth in her contacts list, but then followed her instinct and began texting. “Gahhhh! You gotta save me from this birthday party disaster!” she typed into her phone rhetorically.
Haylee was engrossed in her phone and didn’t immediately notice that someone from the crowd had re-entered the home and was approaching her. It was Lauren’s cousin Carly, who requested in a guilty tone, “Would you mind if I had a drag from your cigarette?”
Haylee was pleased to have at least one person from the group more interested in her than Lauren, even if it was for a selfish reason, responding, “Sure I don’t mind,” handing Carly her Camel Pink No. 9.
Carly proceeded to take a drag that Haylee could tell was deeply satisfying, responding “Thank you so much. My mom doesn’t let me smoke but I’ve had a killer craving ever since I got here and saw you and Lauren smoking.”
Haylee and Carly conversed for a few moments as Carly took a couple more drags, but right when they started to connect, a voice from outside that Carly instantly recognized as her mother Gina shouted, “Carly, get back out here and see Lauren’s car,” as if sensing that Carly was up to no good even without seeing her.
Carly nervously handed Haylee back the cigarette and abruptly thanked her again before heading back out, leaving Haylee alone again. She continued to sit there smoking for several moments, a tear welling up in her eye over being all by herself at her own birthday party. Suddenly a familiar guardian angel entered the room as six-year-old Jarrod Wagner came in, sitting on the couch next to Haylee and putting his arm around her just as he’d done that night in December after the unfortunate episode with Grant. Haylee tried to hide her tears as she said “Thanks buddy” to the only person in the houseful of guests who picked up on the fact that she was hurting.
It seemed like an eternity that Haylee sat there with Jarrod, filling his airspace with endless plumes of secondhand smoke as always, but it had only been a couple of minutes, the entire crowd still outside lavishing attention on Lauren and her new car. The silence in the room was broken when Haylee’s phone pinged. She’d already forgotten that she sent the text to Jacob a few minutes back, but her mood perked up immediately when she saw the message was from him, reading “When and where??! I’m at your beckon call, m’lady!” which immediately turned Haylee’s frown into a giggly smile that confused young Jarrod.
A few texts later and Haylee determined that Jacob was serious about “rescuing her” from this birthday party, and she was suddenly seriously contemplating allowing him to do it. After a final moment to mull over the situation, she texted him back one final time, writing “Pick me up in the high school parking lot ASAP. I’ll be waiting there for you!”
Young Jarrod was confused with as quickly as Haylee launched off the couch and darted out of there without a word, clearly no longer being in need of his comfort. He watched as Haylee grabbed her purse and then another pack of cigarettes out of the carton in the refrigerator and then hightailed it out the back door. He watched as she sneakily maneuvered through the backyard and through the neighbor’s yard, ending up on the parallel street where she wandered out of sight. Jarrod was pretty sure whatever she was doing and wherever she was going would come to a shock to all the guests when the got back into the house, and he didn’t think it would end well for Haylee.
Twenty minutes later, Haylee stood in the empty Saturday afternoon school parking lot on the sunny and unseasonably warm day, feeling perfectly comfortable in the short-sleeved white blouse and pale pink pants she left home in and watching for an incoming car driven by her white knight. She dragged from her cigarette nervously hoping that Jacob would get there before anybody from her birthday party went looking for and found her here in this lot. Haylee was taken aback when a slick-looking blue Corvette came noisily zooming up to her in the lot, unaware that Jacob had such a hot car.
Jacob aggressively braked the car a few yards in front of her and then put the passenger-side power window down, charming Haylee instantly with the smile on his face as he beckoned her inside. Haylee’s spirits were visibly lifted in an instant as she took a final deep drag from her spent cigarette and then tossed it into the lot before climbing inside. Jacob recoiled a bit from the stench she brought into his car but recovered rapidly and flashed that smile again, catching Haylee in mid-swoon and then catching her off-guard by laying into the accelerator and peeling out of the lot. Haylee’s birthday had just gotten a lot more exciting. Her phone suddenly began ringing and she quickly saw “Mom” listed as the caller. She muted the phone and threw it in her purse, never to be looked at again until her date with Jacob was over, consequences be damned.
As Jacob took to the streets trying to impress Haylee with his car, he could see that the novelty of the Corvette was wearing off quicker than he’d hoped. Haylee was still fuming about the birthday party and was rattling off the details louder and faster than he’d ever imagined her speaking before, with even more tangible anger in her voice than when she’d been describing the party at school in the vent shaft/smoking area the week before. He listened as she carried on, being at least a little interested in her predicament and concurring that it seemed rude and tone-deaf.
Haylee reflexively opened her purse and reached for her pack of cigarettes, not even giving a second thought as she plucked out a cigarette and placed it between her lips. Jacob was aghast at her nerve and verbally intervened, “Wait you’re not thinking about smoking in here, are you?”
Haylee looked surprised at the question and said “Well yeah,” as the unlit Camel Pink No. 9 bounced upon and down between her lips as she talked.
“Not in my car,” Jacob said in a pleading tone, not wanting to sound too aggressive but wanting her to take the hint, unaware who he was up against.
A sullen Haylee reverted to her level of fury from the birthday party, curtly responding “Take me home then.”
“Are you serious?” Jacob responded, shocked at her level of entitlement.
“Absolutely. If you’re not gonna let me smoke where I want to around you, we’re not gonna get along too well.”
Jacob sat silent for a moment, letting the risk-reward calculus roll through his mind until he approached a red light, breaking the silence with a smile and responding, “You’re a different one, Haylee McPherson,” extending his hand to her lighter so she’d hand it to him.
Haylee’s frown turned into a smile again as she handed Jacob the lighter and welcomed the gesture as he sparked the lighter to fire up her cigarette. “I get the feeling that a little different is exactly what you’re looking for,” Haylee responded as the flame hit the cigarette.
Jacob nodded in agreement, trying to hide his despair as her filthy cigarette smoke began to fill the inside of his beloved Corvette. Never would have he imagined any scenario a week ago where he’d let someone smoke in his car….and the last person he ever expected it to be was a freshman girl at his high school. “So what do you want to do today?” Jacob asked.
Haylee shrugged as the smoke just kept spilling out of her face and filling up Jacob’s car interior. “Doesn’t really matter as long as we can talk,” she said, hoping it was understood that she expected to be able to smoke as she talked.
“All right,” Jacob said, his mind roiling for ideas. “Maybe we can go out to eat a little later.”
Haylee nodded, “That sounds cool,” as she noticed a deepening smirk coming from Jacob and then added playfully, “what?”
“Before we eat, why don’t we go skinny-dipping!” Jacob wryly responded.
Haylee laughed, with smoke exploding out of her face from the respiratory force of the laugh as she contemplated skinny-dipping in the icy waters of still-frozen Minnesota lakes. “You are crazy!”
Jacob fluttered his eyebrows and said “But it just might be a lunatic you’re looking for,” recycling lyrics from an old song he hoped she hadn’t heard while drawing a parallel to the comment she made to him a few moments earlier.
And Jacob kept driving till he arrived at an obscure access point of Eagle Lake, parking his car in the small and empty lot. They got out of the car and Haylee lit another cigarette, following Jacob as she approached the shore of the lake and confirming what both of them figured, that the lake still had a thick crust of ice, albeit with a sloppy sheen of melted slush that had come about following what had melted in the last couple of 60-degree days. It was a common look for a Minnesota lake in late March and early April, and Haylee said out loud what was obvious to both of them. “No skinny dipping today.”
“Nope. Probably not,” Jacob said with a smirk, knowing all along it wasn’t gonna be thawed but had simply wanted to see how Haylee responded to the offer, adding “I’ll take a rain check on that though, okay?”
Haylee smiled as Jacob began to test his foot on the icy surface of the lake to make sure it was firm enough to support his weight. When he determined that it probably was, he leaped onto the ice, extending his hand to invite Haylee to follow him. With her cigarette hanging from her lips, Haylee leaped from the shore onto the icy lake and taking Jacob’s hand to make sure she stayed upright. Jacob proceeded further onto the ice, holding Haylee’s hand as Haylee finally asked playfully, “Are you taking me anywhere in particular?”
Jacob paused for a moment to punch some things up on his phone and then responded, “Actually, I was hoping we could dance,” smirking as he pressed play on his phone and launching immediately into the Zedd, Maren Morris, Grey song “The Middle”, to which he quickly responded, “And wouldn’t you know it, they’re playing our song.”
Haylee smiled ear to ear as she exhaled a snootful of smoke, recognizing the song as the first song she and Jacob danced to at the Valentine’s dance where they met. Jacob pushed another button from his phone and synced the recording to the speakers in his Corvette. The song was now blasting from his car a few yards away in the parking lot, and Jacob held out his hand asking, “May I have this dance?”
Haylee was glowing with a happiness she wouldn’t have imagined possible an hour ago as she took his hand and they started dancing to the music on the iced surface of this lake. Her seduction at the hands of this smooth-operating 18-year-old was proving more than her usual aloofness could withstand, her body moving in carefree jubilation and in rhythm with Jacob’s, intermittently dragging from her cigarette and occasionally letting it dangle from her lips as she danced.
Jacob kept hitting up one song after another on his phone, most of which were songs they’d danced to at the Valentine’s dance, and they continued to have the time of their lives dancing for well over an hour, with Haylee burning through cigarette after cigarette. Jacob was surprised at the magnitude of her smoking and noticed how her smoked-out lungs were wheezing a bit after all of this dancing.
Jacob figured it was only a matter of time till it happened to one of them, and it was Haylee who lost her footing on the ice and fell backwards and landed on her ass in the slushy and cold water on the surface of the ice. A comical look of temperature shock splashed all over Haylee’s face as the chilly slush on the ice seeped through her pants, the shock quickly transitioning to nervous laughter as Jacob held out his hand to help her up, but as she started to climb up he let her go and she splashed back onto the slushy ice, soaking herself again and playfully shouting, “You bastard!” as she placed her cigarette into her mouth for a dangling drag.
Jacob grabbed her by both hands and pulled her up grabbing her by the waist and pressing her body into his. Haylee reached up to her mouth to remove the cigarette, recognizing where this was likely going. Jacob pulled in and Haylee heartily accepted his lips as they kissed. The kiss drug on for a good 30 seconds, with Haylee quickly appreciating the contrast of Jacob’s kissing technique versus the relative rookies she’d locked lips with before, and she dug in for the full experience. Jacob was glad he’d tried Haylee’s cigarette the week before as it at least prepared him a little for the intense cigarette flavor on Haylee’s breath as she stuck her tongue in his mouth. He tried to take his mind off the taste of her breath in hopes of reining in his gag reflex, not an ideal situation for a romantic first kiss but one he was willing to accept for the opportunity to move forward with this extremely intriguing girl.
The couple pulled apart with blissful looks on each other’s faces, Haylee pulling the cigarette back up to her lips for another intense drag but maintaining eye contact for several more moments. Eventually, she looked down to see how much of a mess was made of one of her favorite pairs of pants, looking down and seeing the dirty water had definitely made a stain in a very unsavory spot.
“It looks like I pissed my pants!” Haylee said with a laugh, turning her head over her shoulders to see how bad her ass was, but unable to tell how bad the stain would be until it dried. She also didn’t make a metaphorical connection to her own loss of innocence making out with this 18-year-old guy and the defiling stain on the crotch and ass of her light pink pants.
“Looks like we’re going to the drive-thru for supper,” Jacob commented as he pointed to her messed-up pants. Haylee laughed as Jacob grabbed her by the waist and walked her back toward his car, with Haylee following suit and hanging on to Jacob by his waist. The drama from her birthday party only a couple of hours earlier was now the furthest thing from her mind.
Two hours later, it was now after dark and the vibe in the McPherson home had grown orders of magnitude darker than it had been during the birthday party. The sound of a parked car in the driveway and footsteps approaching the front entrance sent Steve and Becky to the front door, unable to disguise their disappointment when the door opened and Courtney walked through instead of Haylee.
Courtney, coming home from her work shift and decked out in her tight leather pants, immediately sensed the tension in the room and responded, “Sorry to disappoint!” then asking “Who were you expecting?”
Becky turned toward her with fire in eyes to explain the situation. “Your sister decided to skip out of here in the middle of her birthday and has been gone for four hours now. She’s not answering her phone and none of the friends we talked to know where she is either.”
Courtney made eyes with Trevor in the living room and both exchanged knowing glances expressing the magnitude of deep shit Haylee was in. “Well I’ll try to get through to her,” she offered, writing a text that she hoped would break through in a way her parents’ hadn’t.
Trevor watched as Courtney approached him on the couch, sitting next to him and lighting a cigarette as she crossed her legs in that smooth buttery leather Trevor couldn’t quit lusting for, asking him how the party went and hoping to get some clues as to what might have happened to Haylee, but one name was going through Courtney’s head as she contemplated Haylee’s presence…Jacob Roth. And Courtney didn’t know how to play this. She was on thin enough ice with Haylee and did not want to rat her out to her parents about Jacob, but on the other hand, if Haylee was in any kind of danger she didn’t want to be the reason her parents didn’t find out who she was with. She started texting Haylee again, writing “Haven’t told them about Jacob….yet! Might be able to hold them off a little longer if you let me know where you are and that you’re safe.”
Courtney and Trevor sat there watching Becky and Steve frantically pace the floor, and as Courtney saw the fury in her father’s eyes, the thought crossed her dirty mind of a possible upside to this situation. She couldn’t fully divest herself into the twisted thought yet until she heard from Haylee and knew she was okay, but she’d already made a mental note of her father administering corporal punishment on Haylee and she knew that that bell could not be unrung now and allowed herself to envision the fantasy.
Jacob and Haylee had been cruising around the streets of suburban Minneapolis in Jacob’s Corvette for well over an hour now, passing along stories about themselves and enjoying each other’s company. They had eaten at the drive-up at Sonic and Jacob continued to be amazed and oddly impressed to see Haylee smoke her cigarettes even while in mid-meal. And with each subsequent cigarette she lit thereafter, Jacob found himself looking forward to it, unable to detach his attraction to this girl from her incessant smoking even though she was stinking up his car in a way that he figured would take quite a while to remedy. At the next break in the conversation, Haylee told Jacob she really should get home, dreading the nuclear fissure of righteous outrage that awaited her when she got there.
Haylee’s heart sunk as she realized she better look at her phone to see if she could get a sense of how bad things were and knew it was every bit as terrible as she feared when she saw 16 missed calls and 35 texts in the inbox she hadn’t checked since she muted her phone more than four hours earlier. The most recent texts were from Courtney, and she looked at them first, particularly since she saw Jacob’s name in the text heading and knew Courtney had the power to get her in even deeper trouble if her parents found out about him.
Jacob looked at Haylee out of the corner of his eye, her cigarette parked in her mouth as she took dangling drags without even seeming to realize it, texting through the haze of smoke in front of her face and writing Courtney back, “Thanks for not telling them about Jacob” and then sending a separate text reading, “I’ll be home in the next 10 minutes. Please use that time to calm them down a little.”
Haylee audibly gasped as she pulled her eyes away from the phone, turning to Jacob and saying, “I’d love to say I’ll see you again soon but I have a feeling I’m gonna be grounded till you head off to college!”
Jacob laughed and assured he that he had a great time as well and would wait as long as he had to to see her again, adding that “we’ll always have the vent shaft during lunch period.”
“True,” Haylee said, her voice tailing off as if finally coming to terms with her fast-approaching moment of reckoning. “Could you do me a favor and drop me off a couple of blocks from my place? Don’t want them seeing your car.” Jacob concurred as they quickly approached the drop-off point.
As he stopped at a residential intersection to let Haylee go as she requested, Jacob wanted to leave Haylee with one final memory of their night together before they parted ways, saying he “hoped he was a ray of sunshine on her dark birthday,” eliciting a final halfhearted swoon from a fast-declining Haylee who pulled in for a final good night kiss that lasted just as long as their kiss on the ice. She got out of the car and began the long walk of shame home, the residue of a wonderful night still clear on her face. Jacob looked in the rearview mirror and watched Haylee’s shapely body drift further away, a persistent trail of cigarette smoke rising above her. An avalanche of naughty thoughts rolled through his mind, but he mentally checked himself with a reminder that he needed to have a different set of expectations for this very different girl.
“It’s Haylee!” Courtney announced jubilantly as the text came through. “She’s okay and is gonna be home in 10 minutes,” she continued.
“Oh thank God!” Becky responded with impassioned relief, Steve wrapping his arms around her to console her over the good news as Becky stubbed out another Marlboro Red and immediately reached to light up another one, having been smoking this evening at a pace that was blistering even for her.
As they pressed Courtney for more details, she didn’t offer any, even though her tone was elusive enough that Steve, Becky, and Trevor all suspected she knew more than she was leading on. Their worry about Haylee had now been replaced with unbridled fury, a rage Trevor and Courtney had not seen in them for quite some time. Trevor had given a passing thought that his dad might whoop Haylee’s ass for this, but after finding out she was safe and almost home, it was now consuming Courtney’s every thought, her heart pounding and her body going numb at the mere thought of seeing Haylee on the receiving end of her dad’s firm hand. It was happening with rapidly diminishing frequency in recent years at the same time as Courtney had come to realize how much her own spankings, and witnessing her siblings’ spankings, had come to define her sexual identity. The last time she got to witness her dad administer corporal punishment on Haylee was the previous summer on their way up to the cabin. She had feared she may never get to witness it again, but seeing how enraged her father was right now, she figured tonight might be one final opportunity.
The suspense ended for most in the room as Haylee finally walked in the door, looking as moody and aloof as ever with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. The screaming commenced right on schedule as Haylee walked into the living room, mainly to look at Courtney and see if she could tell by her body language how much she’d told them about Jacob.
“Where in the hell have you been, Haylee?!?” Steve shouted in a tone that reached a tone that made very clear he wasn’t playing, followed by a long pause awaiting her answer as she sat silently for a while.
“Answer your father!” Becky shouted.
“I went to visit a friend,” Haylee responded, revealing as little as possible knowing there was no answer that would satisfy.
“What’s his name?” Becky fired back, knowing there had to be a boy involved for this kind of deception.
Haylee didn’t respond, leading Steve to open her purse and take out her phone, handing it to Becky who proceeded to open her messages. Near the top of the list of recent contacts was Jacob.
“Jacob huh?” Becky replied aloud, perking up Courtney’s ears and confirming what she figured was the case. “Why haven’t I heard that name until just now, Haylee?”
“Because it’s none of your damn business!” shouted Haylee.
“Oh it isn’t?” Steve shouted back, trying to maintain his composure as best as possible but having a hard time. “Our 15-year-old daughter wanders out of her own birthday party without telling anyone, stays out for four hours until after dark, and then tells us it’s none of our business. Are you for real here, Haylee?”
Courtney and Trevor sat silently on the couch, hoping they wouldn’t be told to leave the room and miss out on all of this excitement, but realizing they likely wouldn’t given that their father tried to discipline the kids publicly for the most heinous offenses to shame the offender and send a message to the witnesses.
“Where did he take you?” Becky asked, keeping the interrogation alive hoping Haylee would incriminate herself.
Haylee cooperated too quickly saying, “Just to Sonic,” realizing right away she stepped in it.
“Oh to Sonic? That’s clear up in Plymouth. So he has a car?” Steve busted her.
“How old is he Haylee?” Becky followed up, frightened of her forthcoming answer.
Haylee paused for a second, fibbing by two years when she responded, “Sixteen,” through the talking exhale of the final drag from her cigarette which she crushed out in the butt bucket on the coffee table in front of her that Courtney was using.
Neither parents immediately responded, buying her answer but also laying some ground rules. “Well you’re not going out with him again until we meet him. You know our rules,” Becky demanded. “But that’s the least of your worries right now. You humiliated your father and I running out of this party we planned just for you. And then you don’t answer your phone for four hours when we call. This ‘Jacob’ will have forgotten all about you by the time you see the outside of your bedroom again.”
“Fine,” Haylee said, getting up to walk to her room before her father gave her a reality check.
“Oh you’re not getting out of her that easily, young lady. Get your ass back here!” Steve barked.
Haylee had been hoping she had received her last ass-whooping from her father but figured if anything would have triggered another, this would be it. She dug her hole deeper by sassing back, “Oh do I get 15 swats for 15 years or something. Happy birthday to me, right?”
“Ah you got jokes huh? We’ll see how much you’re laughing in the next month locked up in your room,” Steve shot back as Haylee approached him.
Courtney held her breath with anticipation, feeling as euphoric about Haylee’s pending physical discipline as Haylee felt humiliated over it. Courtney had been playing with her phone and pretending to text the entire time since Haylee got home, but was actually just preparing for the moment when it came and secretly pressing the record button, tilting her phone upward just before her father bent Haylee over his knee and hoping nobody would be paying attention to her perverted infatuation during Haylee’s discipline.
Becky couldn’t miss the stains on the ass of Haylee’s pants as it was sprawled over her husband’s knee for the whole room to see, angrily asking “What did you do to your clothes??!?!”
“I fell and they got dirty. It’s spring in case you hadn’t noticed, mom” Haylee answered awkwardly from her vulnerable position laid out horizontally on her father’s knee, barely getting her backtalk out of her mouth before her father laid into her, applying swift and intense force from his heavy hand to Haylee’s ass. As had always been the case whenever one of the McPherson kids got spanked, the others watched, only this time recognizing there may not be a next time given their respective ages.
Courtney kept her phone steady recording the act of aggression by her father on her younger sister, sucking hard from her cigarette and crossing her legs a little bit tighter inside of those leather pants to disguise how sexually aroused she was witnessing this and wishing it could go on forever as the swats applied to Haylee’s ass kept coming fast and furious. Courtney held the smoke inside her lungs for many seconds until the spanking finally stopped and she finally exhaled, the smoke spilling from her mouth and nose serving as a marginal release of the sexual tension she’d built up inside of her.
Steve then helped Haylee stand up, with everybody in the room curious to see if she was either crying or red with humiliation when she got up, but all were surprised to see a stoic, unmoved Haylee staring at her father stone-faced, listening to Becky bark out “Now get your ass to your room and stay there till your next birthday,” just before Haylee turned around heading in that direction. “Oh and I’ll be keeping this till you’re out,” Becky said in reference to Haylee’s phone which Becky held in her hand.
Haylee quietly walked toward the stairs, picking up her purse and opening her pack of cigarettes. Trevor smirked as Haylee lit herself up en route to her bedroom, amused that her punishment once again did not include giving up her smoking freedoms. Courtney slowly pivoted her phone downward and stopped the recording, trying to control her excitement as she and Becky both lit new cigarettes. The excitement was over, and both Trevor and Courtney were suddenly eager to get out of that living room with their parents, albeit for entirely different reasons.
Courtney stood up from the couch and couldn’t get to the stairs fast enough, ascending them and heading into her bedroom where she quickly closed the door behind her and headed to her bed. She wasted no time unzipping her leather pants and sliding them down to her thighs, along with her panties underneath them, proceeding to play back the recording of her father spanking her sister and touching her fingers to her vagina as she watched it. The sexual tension built up seeing it live was now being released, with Courtney breathing directly from her cigarette as she masturbated, the show having lived up to her expectations completely, the scarcity of the spanking shows in recent years making it all the more satisfying to see this one. She kept replaying that video over and over, pumping cigarette smoke into her lungs with each labored breath while her fingers worked her private parts. Eventually her fingers weren’t up to the task any longer and she reached into her purse to take out her dildo. She laid back on the bed and wasted no time jamming it into her pussy, producing something close to the level of satisfaction that her current state of arousal demanded, suppressing her moans through the cigarette she continued to torture between her other lips. She would have time to feel guilty about this later, but for now she just needed to rub out this raging libidinous beast that raged inside of her.
Meanwhile, across the hall Trevor quietly approached the door of Haylee’s bedroom with cell phone in hand, knocking gingerly and then cracking the door open hoping to go unnoticed by his parents downstairs. As Trevor poked his head in and then slinked inside, Haylee angrily muttered through yet another cigarette dangling from her lips, “My God! What do you want?!?” before Trevor used his hand to gesture for her to be quiet, showing her the cell phone in his hand.
“Somebody wants to talk to you,” Trevor responded, laying his cell phone on Haylee’s nightstand and then leaving her room.
A curious Haylee picked up Trevor’s phone, puckering up her lips around her cigarette and seeing it was Lauren on the line. She lifted the phone to her ear and muttered, “Lauren?”
“Oh Haylee! I’m so sorry for how things went today,” Lauren cried out in response. “The last thing I wanted to do is ruin your birthday and then have you get in trouble for it.”
“It’s not your fault,” Haylee responded through a messy talking exhale. “I should apologize to you for all of the drama. It was a big day for you too,” she added.
“Don’t worry about me. I’m good. But I really feel like I owe you and I want to be there for you when you’re not grounded anymore,” Lauren said, making Haylee emotional with her obvious sincerity.
“That will be a LONG time,” Haylee responded after taking another drag, poo-poohing the notion of a post-grounding world.
“Well when it does happen I’d like to have a good long talk to you about some things…and maybe introduce you to a couple of friends if you’re up to it. How does that sound?” asked Lauren.
Haylee agreed to the terms, not necessarily believing that Lauren would come through but greatly appreciating her reaching out. They bid each other adieu and Haylee let loose a smile about Lauren’s continued good nature. And as she took a final drag from her cigarette, Haylee thought about Jacob and allowed herself to smile even wider. As steep and embarrassing as the consequences of her dalliance were, she was nonetheless extremely grateful she took the leap of faith and texted Jacob to pick her up.
Three hours later, Kurt Collins was in a deep sleep in his apartment until the incessant buzzing of his telephone on the nightstand coupled with a repeated knocking on his front door awoke him.
“What the hell?” Kurt mumbled in his half-conscious state as he saw his phone lit up, picking it up and seeing Courtney McPherson was calling him. He picked up the phone and answered. “What is it Courtney?”
“Come to your front door!” Courtney exclaimed abruptly.
Kurt was wondering if this was a dream, half-annoyed at getting woke up in the middle of the night but half ecstatic that the 18-year-old sexpot who had broken up with him well over a month ago was suddenly back for what just might be yet another booty call. He walked up to his front door and opened it, seeing Courtney standing there with Marlboro Light Menthol 100 in hand, still decked out in the leather pants she wore to work earlier, and sporting a lustful look in her eyes that was all too familiar. He grabbed Courtney by the hand all pulled her inside.
Once the door was closed, Courtney passionately cried, “Fuck me Kurt! Fuck me now!”
“Courtney, it’s 2 in the morning. Weren’t the one who broke up with me?” Kurt halfheartedly protested, trying not to seem too easy.
Courtney leaned in, exposing Kurt to her heavy mentholated tobacco breath from upclose and planting one on his lips, “I really need you bad tonight Kurt. Can you help me out?”
Kurt smiled, regaining his consciousness quickly and grabbing Courtney by the ass, her cue to leap into his arms. He stepped backward into his bedroom as they made out, collapsing on his bed as he moved to unzip her leather pants, but she firmly placed her hand on his to stop him.
“Spank me first, okay?” Courtney insisted.
It was a request Kurt had heard plenty of times from her in the past and he proceeded without protest, having no clue how perverted her reasoning for tonight’s request was. It was obvious she was in the mood for some really rough sex tonight, and he was only too happy to serve it up for her. Even the semiregular opportunity to copulate with this barely legal goddess who used to be his steady girlfriend was more than he ever would have imagined possible one short year ago.
Two weeks later, Trevor was ready to go when he saw his newly licensed girlfriend Lauren pulling into his driveway in the new car she was gifted for her birthday. Trevor was generally known to contain his emotions as best as possible but radiated a smile upon seeing the ecstatic Lauren sitting behind the wheel holding a freshly lit all-white cigarette. Lauren’s smile beamed brighter than ever as she felt the power of sitting behind the wheel of her own car for one of the first times as a licensed driver, especially with her boyfriend coming poised to ride shotgun. Trevor would have loved to have had the Monday evening to themselves but, as expected, Lauren’s cousin Carly had ridden with her from Maple Grove and was riding in the backseat….and Carly wasn’t gonna be the only passenger that night…
Trevor opened the passenger side door and sat down, immediately stricken by how much Lauren had stunk up her new car with tobacco only days after getting her license. He made eye contact with her as she took a deep drag from her Marlboro Light and then greeted Carly in the backseat. Lauren wasted no time inquiring about the evening’s main attraction to Trevor, asking “Is she coming?”
“You know Haylee operates on Haylee time,” Trevor responded, eliciting a giggle from Lauren in which smoke spilled from her mouth and nose, along with Carly laughing more nervously from the backseat.
They didn’t have to wait long though until the front door of the McPherson home opened and a newly liberated Haylee walked outside, maintaining a captive audience of admirers as she inadvertently strutted toward the car as if a supermodel on a runway. Her light brown hair was styled for the night out, whipping slightly with the spring breeze as it hung onto her bare shoulders in the low-cut white blouse she was wearing, while her salvaged light pink pants she wore on her night out with Jacob looked as good as new below her waist, her hips working the tight fabric nicely and her high heels giving her lower body that much more visual appeal. And as always, a cigarette hung from her lips as she approached the car. It was a presentation that captivated the carload of passengers who could tell she was revitalized and ready for mischief after two weeks of being grounded.
The momentum was briefly broken as Steve yelled out the front door, “Remember it’s a school night. Be back by 10.”
“Got it, dad,” Trevor said as he gave his father the thumbs-up, leaving him to a rare evening to himself at the McPherson home.
After Haylee climbed into the backseat passenger side and found herself seated next to Carly who she barely knew, Lauren broke the ice first with an energetic compliment, “You look so beautiful, Haylee. You look like a free woman!”
Still a little bashful, Haylee responded with, “I guess so. It’s definitely been a long two weeks.”
“I told you that your parents wouldn’t keep you holed up any longer than that though, didn’t I?” Lauren reminded her.
Haylee nodded and then briefly confirmed, “Yes you did.”
“By the way, this is my cousin Carly. I think you met her at the birthday party, right?” Lauren introduced.
“Hi,” Carly said with a hint of bashfulness of her own, even though they had a brief but memorable interaction at the party, feeling a little overshadowed in the car with the gorgeous Haylee and Lauren, contrasting their beauty and elegant presentations with her own more plain-jane appeal, her shoulder-length blond hair cresting on a conservative T-shirt and jeans.
“Nice to see you again,” Haylee answered as they smiled at each other, with Haylee taking a drag from her cigarette and not judging Carly with the harshness that Carly had just judged herself. As Lauren began to drive off, Haylee asked, “So what are we doing tonight?”
“No set plans,” Lauren said through a talking exhale as she drove, adding through a laugh, “a girl who just got her driver’s license doesn’t need a reason to go somewhere….she just goes.” Pausing for a moment, she continued, “Seriously though, I’d like to introduce you to our friends Nick and Lacey. Maybe we can go into Walmart or the mall, get a bite to eat, find a boyfriend for you and Carly,” she said, half-jokingly, making eye contact with Haylee in the rearview mirror and seeing that Haylee really wanted to talk one-on-one with Lauren as they’d mentioned earlier on the phone.
They continued to banter amongst each other for the next few minutes, with Lauren doing most of the talking and trying to initiate Haylee into a comfort level with the group, which Haylee had seemed to agree was probably for the best, even though it wasn’t in her natural comfort zone. Within a minute of tossing her previous cigarette out the passenger side window, Haylee was opening her purse to extract another. As Haylee noticed the cigarette-free Carly looking lustfully at her taking that drag, Haylee found another opening to break the ice, extending the pack to Carly and asking, “Would you like one of mine?”
An appreciative look beamed from Carly’s face as she responded, “Sure,” taking a cigarette from the pack and placing it between her lips. Haylee handed Carly the lighter who lit herself up and then handed it back to Haylee. Carly took the first drag which reminded her of when she bummed a few drags from Haylee’s cigarette at the birthday party, and then complimenting Haylee on her brand. “These are really good cigarettes,” Carly said through a shallow talking exhale, clearly the work of a girl who’d smoked far less than the other two smokers in the car but was definitely not a rookie either. “They certainly taste better than Lauren’s nasty Marlboro Lights!” Carly said eliciting laughter in the car.
Lauren shrugged her shoulders humbly in a laughter-infused response as she opened up the very pack of Marlboro Lights 100s in question and inserted another one in her mouth, reflexively handing Trevor the lighter to fire her up. From there, Haylee interrogated Carly about her smoking story, with Carly and Lauren exchanging anecdotes from when they first sneaked their parents cigarettes and the details of their dissonant trajectories in the two years since.
Trevor remained mostly silent amidst this smoke-filled discussion, having heard most of these stories from each of the girls before but still welcoming any opportunity for them to talk cigarettes. He mused that once again, cigarettes proved to be a great topic to break the ice and fast-track friendship among smokers, his heart filled with joy watching and listening to the three teenage girls, all younger than him, talk at length about their smoking habits while filling the car up with a haze of cigarette smoke. He may have started the evening disappointed that he couldn’t just hang out alone with Lauren, but suddenly Lauren’s suggestion to help socialize Haylee into their friends’ group seemed like a pretty great idea after all!
A few hours later at 7:20, Courtney walked into the front door of the McPherson home after an early evening shift at work, decked out in yet another pair of tight leather pants. She pulled her white and green menthol cigarette to her lips and took a long drag, a faint look of confusion on her face as she expelled a long plume of smoke from her mouth, finding it odd how little light and noise were emanating from the home compared to when she usually got home. She walked into the dark kitchen and all she could hear was the faint noise from the TV in the dimly lit living room. Just as she was entering the room, she faintly called out, “Anybody home?”
Her father turned in his chair and muted the TV upon seeing her arrive, responding, “Hey Courtney. Actually it’s just gonna be you and I tonight. Your mother’s meeting up with the girls from work and Haylee and Trevor both went out.”
Courtney was in mid-drag and her face lit up with surprise at the last bit, asking again to make sure she heard what she thought she did, “Haylee went out?!?!” knowing that her sister was pretty much a homebody, particularly after her recent grounding.
Steve laughed briefly, observing Courtney’s exhaled smoke rapidly filling a room that had been unusually smoke-free for the last few hours, “Yeah, Trevor said Lauren wants to get Haylee out more and hang out together.”
Courtney nodded her head, “Couldn’t hurt. She’ll probably be more likely to stay out of trouble if she’s hanging out with Lauren and Trevor and their friends rather than this Jacob guy,” Courtney responded, continuing to behave as though she knew less about “Jacob” than she did.
Steve nodded in steadfast agreement, “Completely agreed.”
As her father smiled at her, Courtney felt awkward. Ever since she saw him spank Haylee two weeks ago, Courtney had felt differently in the presence of her father…differently in a way that made her feel extremely guilty and dirty. She felt the need to cut this conversation short, putting on her daddy’s girl smile one last time and dragging from her cigarette before saying, “Well I better get going on my homework. Big chemistry test tomorrow.”
Steve seemed disappointed but nodded, “Okay, but when you need a study break let’s catch up a little bit before everybody gets home, alright?”
Courtney’s smile beamed again as she responded, “Sure dad,” through a final messy talking exhale, turning around to head to the stairs toward her bedroom. She made a point of wiggling her hips a little extra in those tight leather pants as she walked away for her father’s benefit. She didn’t know for sure if he was admiring her body as she left the room, but she hoped he was.
An hour later, Lauren had already dropped Carly off as they drove around the west metro after dark. Trevor now had the backseat to himself while Lauren and Haylee were sitting up front, puffing away on their latest of many cigarettes in their four hours together in Lauren’s new car that had gone from zero to smoky at record speed. It had been a fun night, and Trevor enjoyed seeing Haylee hit it off so well with Lauren and Carly, and to a lesser extent with his nonsmoking friends Nick and Lacey who met them all at the pizza parlor. But Trevor had been picking up on nonverbal cues from Lauren and Haylee all night that they wanted to talk alone, and as they now sat next to each other in the front seat, it was becoming all the more obvious.
Lauren finally addressed the elephant in the room, giving Haylee a “play along” gesture that Trevor witnessed, after which Lauren addressed Trevor teasingly, “So you know how much Haylee and I like having you around Trevor, but I think I’ve chosen the wrong McPherson sibling to spend most of my time with,” unable to complete her little prank without a giggle.
Trevor feigned disbelief and responded, “Lauren, are you dumping me for Haylee?!”
Lauren giggled again as she pulled into the empty parking lot of the park nearest Trevor’s home. She parked the car and then turned to address Trevor in the backseat, smoke spilling out of her face and towards him as she responded, “Just for tonight. Haylee and I need to get some girl talk in, okay?”
“No problem,” Trevor responded, disappointed that the night was gonna get cut short and he wouldn’t get in on whatever gossip was ahead, but taking the hint and being willing to leave it up to his imagine as he went home.
“Thanks baby. Do you want me to drop you off or can you walk home from here?” Lauren asked.
“I’m good with walking,” Trevor responded, bidding Lauren adieu for the night and pulling forward from the backseat to kiss her in the front seat, savoring her Marlboro Light breath as Haylee closed her eyes.
“Love you,” Lauren reminded him as he opened the door to walk home, with Trevor responding in kind and Haylee unable to contain herself from groaning out loud. Trevor had a two-block walk home and occasionally leered over his shoulder to see Lauren and Haylee converse, dragging repeatedly from their cigarettes while talking, and dying to know what the two of them were talking about.
Courtney sat in her smoke-filled bedroom with her chemistry book open and a sheet of paper in front of her, plugging away at the homework examples that she hoped would prepare her for the test. Chemistry formulas did not come easy for her but she felt like she was working up some momentum after her hour of studying since she got home. She’d just crushed out her last cigarette in her overflowing bedroom ashtray, but the stress of schoolwork made her cravings especially strong and she lit up another one, balancing the Marlboro Light Menthol 100 in her left hand and the pencil that she worked out the equations with in the right hand.
A knock on her bedroom door startled her, and she turned to see her father standing at the doorway. “I hate to interrupt you but do you mind if I come in?” Steve asked with a smile.
“Sure, dad,” Courtney said in a daddy’s girl-style vocal tone far beneath her 18 years, a tone that really contrasted with the sexualized leather pants still draping her lower body and the wisps of cigarette smoke spilling from her mouth and nose as she spoke. “What’s on your mind?”
Steve walked in and sat down on the bed that was right next to the chair Courtney was sitting at in front of her desk. “I was just thinking about the fishing opener coming up next month. It’s been a few years since we went up to the cabin and fished together on the fishing opener weekend like we used to do. Since you’re graduating in a couple of months, this may be our last chance to get some quality father-daughter time in before you head off to college.”
Courtney’s face lit up at the offer and she quickly agreed, briefly reminiscing on their good times fishing but finding her mind continuing to drift back to the same perverted thought, a thought she felt like tonight represented the perfect opportunity to consummate despite the extreme awkwardness required to bring it up. She couldn’t hold back any longer as her father stood up and hovered over her to take a look at her homework, the smoke from her cigarette rising directly into his face from below. She just had to mention it, saying, “It’s really weird to talk about but do you know what else I miss?”
“What’s that?” Steve said innocently, having no idea the creepy place this conversation was about to go.
Courtney’s face was flushed with embarrassed anticipation as she slowly found the courage to get to the point, with she and her father now both so distracted that neither of them heard the front door open as Trevor arrived and began working his way silently upstairs.
“Well,” Courtney began, shyly. “When I saw you spank Haylee a couple of weeks ago, it made me kind of nostalgic for when you spanked me.”
“Huh?!” Steve responded with legitimate shock.
“I know it’s weird,” Courtney said, hoping her tone would blunt at least some of the creepiness of the request she was building up to, “…but there was something reassuring about when you disciplined me. I miss it.”
Steve stammered and stuttered for a moment, finally getting around to saying, “Here all of these years I thought I was teaching you a lesson with the spankings. The last thing I would have ever imagined was that you liked them!”
Now at the top of the stairs, Trevor heard these words from his father and he froze in his tracks, quickly putting together that he was in Courtney’s room. He gingerly stepped toward his own bedroom and slinked inside, closing the door and keeping it open a crack where he could hear and partially see his father talking to Courtney, perking up his ears to make sure what he thought he was hearing was indeed the conversation at hand.
“Oh I did so much!!!” Courtney exclaimed in response, grimacing as she was finally about to verbalize the request she’d been building up to, taking a long drag from her cigarette for a final hit of nicotine courage. “Would you mind spanking me one last time?”
Steve didn’t know whether to laugh at Courtney or scold her, again stammering at the indecent request, but looking at the suspense in his oldest daughter’s eyes as she eagerly awaited his response with a slow spill of cigarette smoke again exiting her beautiful face, he eventually came around to it, shaking his head as he said, “Well….this is the last thing I expected to be doing when I came in here to ask you to go fishing with me, but come on over my knee.”
Courtney got positively giddy as she launched out of her chair, mumbling “Okay!” in a tone that struck Steve, and Trevor watching from across the hall, as jubilant in a far too sexualized way, but before Steve could reconsider, his cigarette-wielding daughter laid herself out over his knee, the skin tight leather clutching her cusp-of-womanhood ass now directly in front of Steve’s face sprawled out in his lap. Trevor at least took solace that his father seemed to be increasingly uneasy with what Courtney kept insisting he do to her.
Steve could feel his daughter’s body shaking with nervous anticipation and wanted to get this over with, delivering his hand to Courtney’s tight leather-draped ass for the first swat and then delivered one after another from there, doing so gingerly but soon directed by Courtney to be more aggressive, as she shouted, “Harder!” every few seconds. Steve found himself spanking her with escalating force, but with Courtney continuing to demand “Harder!”, at one point approaching her cigarette to her lips and dragging from it intensely in a way that made Steve even more uncomfortable. Steve kept swatting for more than a minute, until Courtney shouted in the most sexualized tone yet, “Oh God! Use your belt! Hit me with your belt!” at which point Steve couldn’t take it anymore.
“Courtney, that’s enough. This is wrong.” Steve said, his discomfort level dialed up to at least a 9 by now while Trevor’s was at least as high watching from a few yards away.
“Don’t stop!” Courtney cried with sexual passion, at which point her father began to stand up off the bed, effectively dumping her off of his lap.
Courtney could feel him rising and was turned on now to the point that she was out of control. The lustful look in her eye terrified Steve as he rose to his feet, with Courtney placing the cigarette between her lips and dangling it as she dropped to her knees and reached for her father’s jeans.
Trevor was breathless as his father pleaded, “Courtney, no. This is not happening!” but she refused to listen, unbuttoning his jeans with a fire in her eyes, pumping cigarette smoke into her lungs with every breath and producing a haze of smoke right in front of Steve’s crotch. For a couple of seconds, silence filled the room and Courtney was briefly convinced she had consent but as she began to unzip his jeans, her father formally put a stop to it, grabbing her wrists in a tight clutch, immobilizing her.
“What the hell is wrong with you Courtney!!?!?!” Steve shouted, tightening his grip on her wrists even further in a way that terrified her. They made sustained eye contact, with Courtney’s lustful look quickly transitioning to terror as she glared into her father’s shell-shocked face. “You are sick!” he exclaimed, trying to find the words needed to express the magnitude of disappointment and fear he felt right now. “How sick must you be to do this to your family?! And not just me! How will you ever be able to look your mother, brother, and sister in the eyes again?!??!”
Steve finally released his grasp on Courtney’s wrists, letting her fall backward onto the floor but maintaining laser-focused eye contact on her as the range of emotions in the nonverbal interaction shifted from terror to agonizing sorrow. Steve buttoned up his jeans, gave Courtney one final look of intense disappointment, and then walked out of the smoky room, with Trevor pulling quietly away from his observatory post as well, praying that nobody would ever figure out that he witnessed this moment.
Courtney sat on the floor alone, the cigarette still dangling from her lips with a long granny ash on the end. She was only just beginning to process how much permanent damage she had done in her relationship with her family, especially her father.
Two blocks away, a decidedly different vibe was unfolding with the occupants of the Toyota Camry parked in the empty lot in the neighborhood park, a haze of gray smoke filling up the interior that was visible from outside with the faint illumination of the overhead street lamp.
“Oh Haylee. That’s sooooo sweet!” Lauren exclaimed with wisps of smoke escaping her facial orifices, her voice an octave huskier than when Trevor had left the car a half hour and three cigarettes ago. “You definitely made the right decision to ditch me and the party to have that experience,” Lauren continued, in response to Haylee’s detailed description of her extended evening date with Jacob Roth that got her in so much trouble with her parents.
Haylee was glowing as she relayed the juicy details to the girl that had become her best friend. It was a look Lauren had never seen from the usually reserved and aloof Haylee, who extracted a fresh cigarette from her pack of Camel Pink No. 9s and then took the stub of the mostly smoked cigarette dangling from her mouth, using the first cigarette to light the second and then stubbing the former out in the fast-rising mountain of cigarette butts sitting in the console of Lauren’s car. As another fresh blast of smoke spilled from Haylee’s face, Haylee finally got around to responding to Lauren after letting loose a smoker’s cough from the nicotine binge. “The only problem is I don’t know when I’ll get to see him again….outside of school anyway.”
Lauren took a drag from her mostly expired cigarette, mulling over the situation for a moment as a ball of smoke in her mouth was vacuumed inside of her respiratory system when she inhaled, and then reassured Haylee, “There’s no way I’m gonna let that happen! You have to have another date with this guy!” Lauren paused as she took a final drag from her latest cigarette, filling the car up with yet another expulsion of smoke as she crushed her own cigarette out in the butt bucket, which was now a surreal spectacle of Lauren’s all-white butts commingled with Haylee’s pink and white butts, mixed together almost equally after a full night of heavy smoking together. “Was he the first guy you’ve been with since Grant?” Lauren asked, fishing yet another Marlboro Light 100 out of her pack only seconds after finishing the last and then lighting up.
Haylee’s giddy vibe briefly came down to Earth, first thinking about how things ended with Grant and then remembering that she had gotten to third base with the kid brother of the girl in the driver’s seat. “Umm, yeah,” Haylee answered dishonestly, being nowhere near ready to share the story with Lauren of her dalliance with Brian and probably never would. She changed the subject immediately and circled back to Lauren’s previous comment. “So how exactly do you think I’ll be able to date Jacob again without my parents knowing?” she asked.
Lauren was deep into another drag and her face became animated as she pondered a plan that reminded her she’d been going out with the devious Trevor for too long. Expelling smoke with every breath, Lauren responded, “We’re friends, right? And our parents know that. I have a driver’s license now, so I can say I was hanging out with you after school when you hang out with Jacob.”
Haylee had been hoping Lauren would volunteer an alibi for her, but this plan really gave her a lot of latitude for multiple after-school dates. Haylee puckered up her lips for a dangling drag while she pondered the possibilities and all that could conceivably go wrong, the cigarette going limp and the smoke flowing smoothly from her mouth and nose. “We’d have to be sure we kept our stories straight…and I’d have to be sure to make it home before too late so we don’t get caught in a lie.”
Lauren nodded, the permanent haze of smoke still hovering in front of her innocent 16-year-old face with a constant litany of reinforcement every time she exhaled. “Right and it can’t be every night obviously….but we’ll work it,” she said with a beaming smile, on the clouds to see Haylee so happy for the first time since they’d known each other.
Haylee beamed again herself, exclaiming, “But he’s eighteeeeen, Lauren!!!” with equal parts excitement and anxiety about the implications.
Lauren shrugged. “Age is just a number. When he’s 30, you’ll be 27!” completely brushing off the legal consequences of an 18-year-old having a relationship with a 15-year-old.
“I know. I know,” Haylee responded through the talking dangle of yet another cigarette approaching its end. “I just don’t want him to get in trouble over me. Plus I’ve been warned he’s a big-time playa.”
Lauren paused to take another big drag and then responded, “Well you’re a good judge of character. Don’t do anything unless and until it feels right.”
Haylee nodded, inhaling a finishing drag off of her cigarette and throwing out a request disguised as a response. “Tomorrow after school with Jacob sure feels right,” Haylee said coyly, crushing out her cigarette in the butt can while giving Lauren a look reinforcing her need for Lauren’s help to pull this off.
Lauren eked with excitement at the thought of playing a role in Haylee hanging out with Jacob after school the next day, clasping Haylee’s hands in a way that would have caused Haylee to recoil at any time in the past. Whatever debt Lauren owed Haylee for the Valentine’s dance intervention was about to be paid back. Lauren took a final drag from her cigarette and added yet another butt to the can in her console. The clock in the car read 9:00, and the two of them had another hour, and multiple additional cigarettes, to commiserate before their Monday evening girl talk would end.
The next afternoon, Trevor was taking a long walk after school on the first genuinely warm spring day of the season, with blue skies beaming sunshine and warmth down on him as he progressed down the sidewalk of the residential streets. But the positive energy of the day sharply contrasted with Trevor’s visibly downcast vibe, with images of his sister’s incestuous advances on their father the night before rolling over and over in his mind. Having processed all the troubling details from the encounter and successfully avoiding detection until his mother and Haylee got back later last night, Trevor was now internalizing it through the lens of his own perversions. Given his long-standing lust for his sisters, Trevor had always assumed he was the black sheep of the family, but now he wondered if the entire McPherson family was a bunch of irredeemable perverts. Was his relationship with Lauren based on anything real? Or was it all a manifestation of the same incestuous impulse that nearly drove Courtney to have sexual relations with her father last night?
Trevor’s lengthy period of reflection and self-pity came to abrupt end with the honking of the horn from the car creeping slowly next to him on the street. As Trevor turned toward the car, the driver laid on the horn repeatedly and braked the car on the residential street that was currently traffic-free. Trevor immediately recognized it was Lauren’s car just as she leaned over and opened the passenger door, immediately letting out a whistle, then feigning a lustful voice to catcall him, “I want to take you back to my place, bad boy!” quickly transitioning to her trademark girlish giggle.
As down in the dumps as Trevor was, his face lit up with a smile at Lauren’s surprise visit, and the smile stayed lit as he leaned forward to check out her presentation. The recent sunshine had illuminated her long, dark blond hair to a more golden hue that flowed onto her scantily clad upper body draped in a skimpy blue tanktop, with a pair of very short denim cutoffs on her lower body that showed off her leg all the way up to her upper thigh, the well-toned thigh muscle flexed as she held down the brake pad with her right foot. It was an image of summer that Trevor hadn’t seen from Lauren in a good eight months, and never since they’d become sexually active. The image was perfectly complemented with the freshly lit Marlboro Light 100 resting in her left hand that she held the steering wheel with. At least for a moment, all of his troubles from the previous night disappeared.
As Trevor finally gained his composure, he asked Lauren the obvious question. “What are you doing here today? I thought we were meeting tomorrow.”
Lauren flashed a flirty look as she took a drag from her cigarette before responding, “I felt kind of bad ditching you last night and thought I’d make it up today. Want a ride back to your place?” fluttering her eyelashes to make her intentions hopelessly obvious.
“Haylee could be home any minute,” Trevor said, wondering why she wasn’t home already when he left for his walk.
“Oh I don’t think Haylee’s gonna be bothering us today,” she added, clearly indicating to Trevor that she knew something he didn’t before friskily continuing, “So are you gonna get in this car or leave a girl waiting on the street all afternoon?”
Trevor smirked and stepped inside the car, taken aback by how much more intense the tobacco odor was even since he last rode in it the previous night. Then he looked at the butt bucket in the console and could see why, observing the pyramid of cigarette butts that had elevated a few inches higher than the emerging tower of last night. Seeing both Marlboro Light 100 and Camel Pink No. 9 butts stacked up well over the rim, he was genuinely impressed with how many cigarettes both Lauren and Haylee had to have smoked that night while having their girl talk. As Lauren pulled away en route to Trevor’s house, Trevor asked the obvious question, “So why do you know Haylee won’t be home?”
Lauren side-eyed him playfully and added, “I’m sworn to secrecy,” while releasing the final spurt of a considerable exhale.
Trevor didn’t like the sound of this but figured it was none of his business, his smile from Lauren’s greeting starting to fade and the troubled look slowly re-emerging on his face which Lauren immediately picked up on.
“Is everything okay?” Lauren asked with her typical elevated level of genuine emotion, sensing that her boyfriend was unhappy.
Trevor shook it off and feigned a smile, reassuring her saying, “It’s nothing,” before looking up to an approaching car crossing in front of them in the residential intersection and abruptly alerting Lauren to “Watch out!”
Lauren refocused her attention on the car in front of her and immediately applied the brakes with the overzealousness of a rookie driver. While they easily avoided a collision, the lit cigarette dropped from Lauren’s hand and singed the driver’s side seat next to her bare leg…and the contents of the butt can in the console went airborne, with two packs worth of cigarette butts and ash spilling all over Trevor’s shirt and pants.
After the initial shock of the traffic incident subsided, Lauren had all she could do to suppress a laugh seeing Trevor covered in the contents of her and Haylee’s filthy cigarette debris. She couldn’t suppress a brief giggle any longer looking at Trevor, apologizing through her laughter. “I was gonna dump that at the gas station on the way here but I was so preoccupied with getting down your pants I forgot about it.”
Trevor smirked and pointed to his ash-covered jeans, half-jokingly saying “You sure you want to get down these pants now?”
Lauren giggled and said, “I’m not so sure!” seconds before finally noticing the burnhole on her seat and saying “Shit!”
“Wow…a cigarette burn in your new car after only two weeks. That’s gotta be a new world record!” Trevor teased.
“Shut it!” Lauren fired back playfully. “I gotta figure out a way to explain this to my dad!” She then looked up to Trevor, finding herself strangely aroused upon looking over his clothes still covered in cigarette butts and ash as he opened the door to stand up and get the worst of it off his clothes and out of the car. As he got back inside, he saw Lauren biting her lower lip before she added, “We gotta get you home and out of those dirty clothes, Trevor McPherson!” giggling as she continued driving, only a couple of blocks from Trevor’s place.
Moments later, Lauren led Trevor into his own front door, holding him by his hand with an elevated friskiness, unsure why Trevor didn’t seem to be as into it today as he almost always was but figuring she’d get him in the mood quickly enough. Trevor excused himself to go into the bathroom to change clothes, and as Trevor closed the door, Lauren giggled to herself as she prepared to surprise him, removing her tanktop and then pulling down her jean shorts, leaving only her matching aqua blue bra and panties partially covering her shapely mid-teen body.
Trevor looked in the bathroom mirror as he tossed his dirty clothes into the hamper and put on a new T-shirt and shorts, his previous insecurities rushing back as he looked at his reflection. After a few moments, he opened the bathroom door and stepped back into the hallway, where Lauren hid behind the door as it slowly opened. As he walked toward his bedroom, Lauren crept up and engulfed him from behind with her body, raising her voice to say “Surprise!” as she pressed the front of her body into the back of his.
Trevor’s reflex and the gasp that followed went beyond the typical startled response, and as Lauren leaned over his shoulder to match his face with his PTSD-like reaction, it really hit home how unlike himself Trevor was today.
“Baby, what’s wrong?” Lauren said with maximal concern in her voice, turning Trevor around to face her and noticing a tear welling up in his eye.
Trevor shook his head but was unable to downplay his low-level despair any longer, his quivering voice finally getting out, “It’s not something I really want to talk about right now. But I’m just not in the mood today,” pausing before reassuring her, “Has nothing to do with you.”
The sensitive Lauren was now more emotional than Trevor, pulling him in for an extended hug and eventually saying, “That’s okay baby. Maybe we could just lay together for a while.”
As Trevor nodded approvingly, Lauren led him by hand two doors down to his bedroom, lying on her back in his bed and then beckoning him on top of her. Lauren almost always liked to rest her head on Trevor’s chest after sex, but today it was gonna be Lauren providing comfort, guiding his head onto her breast to just rest there peacefully. Trevor hadn’t been close to tears up to this point, but was fighting them back now after this loving gesture from his girlfriend, his cheek softly pressing into the fabric of her aqua blue bra and her smooth upper breast while his eyes admired her flat stomach and the gorgeous curvature of her panty line. He put his hand on her stomach and slowly stroked it much like Lauren frequently did to his chest. There was only one thing missing and it was rectified a split second after he thought of it, hearing the flicker of a lighter and quickly smelling the cigarette smoke spewing from Lauren as he felt her chest rise up and down with her relaxed breathing and the gentle wheezing sound of her smoked-out lungs.
They laid together for at least a half hour enjoying each other’s touch, and Trevor reassured himself that his love for this girl went far beyond any perverse sexual association with his sisters as he had spent most of the last 24 hours fearing. There was something much deeper here.
Meanwhile, Haylee and Jacob walked on the trail encircling Eagle Lake, the same lake they danced upon two weeks earlier. While they had the obscure rear access point of the still-frozen lake to themselves that weekend, the walkway was bustling with walkers on this warm weekday afternoon, the lake now fully thawed and its blue water glistening with the sun’s reflection. The couple walked hand in hand, exchanging flirty glances as they chatted, with Jacob admiring Haylee’s beautiful face and body, the latter of which was more openly displayed today than he’d seen her before, decked out in a hot pink tanktop and tight white shorts.
Haylee stopped in her tracks and fished around in her purse, with Jacob knowing what was coming next. He’d taken note of multiple “no smoking” signs dotting the perimeter of the lake, including one not even 10 feet in front of them, but Haylee breezily extracted a Camel Pink No. 9 from her purse and inserted it between her lips, trying to entice Jacob to light her up but quickly deciding to do so herself. Jacob couldn’t help but feel a little bashful as multiple sets of scornful eyes settled judgmentally on his underage girlfriend as she took her first dangling drag from her cigarette, and he was wondering if any kind of confrontation would ensue over her rule violation.
But Haylee was entirely oblivious to the smoking prohibition, tightening her grip on Jacob’s waist and welcoming his tighter grip on hers, even as he lowered his hand to where it was now touching the side of her ass. While she enjoyed the grope, it also reminded her of the conflicted feelings she’d had about Jacob since that first dance they shared two months earlier. She trusted him more than she did then, but not had by no means fully divested her trust in him. Still, now seemed like the perfect time to set the ground rule she’d been pondering for days but had been fearing Jacob’s response to.
Puckering her lips around the cigarette filter yet again for another dangling drag, Haylee interrupted Jacob’s small talk to throw out a proposition that Jacob could tell was serious by her tone. “I was thinking, Jacob,” she opened, then pausing with obvious trepidation before continuing, “Some couples have a ’90-day rule’ before they have sex. I think I’d like to do that.”
Haylee held her breath nervously awaiting his answer, the cigarette smoke bottling up inside her lungs until Jacob responded. “You want to wait three months?” Jacob asked, just to be sure he heard right, with a wave of disappointment crashing upon his face.
Haylee cowered a bit as the imposing Jacob, standing at least six inches taller than her, looked down upon her, but she soon found the courage to respond with, “I think so. Please don’t hate me!”
“Wow,” Jacob muttered softly, pondering a premise he’d have never entertained for more than a second with any girl he’d been grooming before, but as he watched the trembling Haylee’s lips pucker around the filter of that pink and white cigarette filter, the cherry glowing red as her innocent body filled up with toxic carcinogens, the decision was made for him. “You know…I think you’re worth the wait, Haylee,” he responded in a sincere way that melted Haylee’s heart.
A giddy smile emerged on Haylee’s face that Jacob agreed to this ‘test’ to help assuage her doubts, neither of them appreciating that even three months from now, their sexual courtship would still be a criminal act.
Jacob pulled in slowly for a kiss and Haylee took the hint, removing the cigarette hanging from her mouth. He could taste the overflow smoke spilling from Haylee’s mouth and nose into his own mouth as she breathed, and it was just as intense as it had been two weeks ago. He felt his male parts stiffen as the kiss continued, and much as he was enjoying it, he was reminded of how much of a struggle these next three months would be for him.
The next Saturday afternoon, a mixed-gender huddle of a dozen or so people, ranging in age from teen to middle-aged, was gathered around the coffee table of a suburban residence, with a few of the people wielding cigarettes. The 40-something woman sitting in the middle of the couch and serving as a master of ceremonies pointed in the direction of the nervous new girl in the group and told the rest of the group, “And we have a new member who joined us today. She talked to me on the phone the other day and said she needed some support. I’d like to introduce you to Courtney and let her introduce herself to all of us….” the woman said with a warm smile directed at the conservatively dressed teen blond in the sweatshirt and jeans who was about to make her introductory statement.
Courtney was mortified and felt like a fish out of water, taking an intense drag from her Marlboro Light Menthol 100 before speaking. “Hello, my name is Courtney. I’m 18 years old and this is my first meeting,” Courtney opened, a blast of exhaled smoke sailing nearly two feet in front of her and producing a haze in front of the coffee table, very likely generating the worst possible response from some of the members of this particular group. She continued, “…..I’ve had a problem with my sexuality for a few years now. I crave risk. I crave danger. I crave being inappropriate and forcing my partner to be inappropriate with me. Even in situations where a guy isn’t my type or if a sexual relationship would be the absolute worst thing for me and the guy, I just can’t seem to stop myself from going for it…..”
She paused for a moment upon feeling some emotions rush in, taking another drag from her cigarette before continuing through a messy talking exhale, “….and recently it’s been causing serious damage to my most important relationships…at work and at home. I’ve hurt my coworkers. I’ve hurt my sister. And I’ve hurt my father.” Really fighting back the tears at this point, she began to wrap it up, “I made my father a promise to go fishing with him before I graduate high school. Even though he can’t even look at me right now, I am committed to keeping that promise to my father.”
Emotions fully got the best of Courtney as she closed through her tears, “My name is Courtney…and I am a sex addict”, her hands and lips quivering as she raised the cigarette to her lips for her most deeply intense drag yet, tears rolling down her cheek amid a chorus of greetings, accolades, and kudos from the crowd about Courtney’s gutsy introduction to the group of fellow travelers.