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By Della Street


"The closest I've ever come to doing it?" Blair didn't have to ponder the question. "Steve, in the back of his delivery van," she said matter-of-factly.

At a table nearby, one of her roommates paused, highlighter poised in midair. Steve?

Staring nostalgically into space, Natalie echoed, "Ah, Steve. Boy, was he attractive."

Another one snared and then punted when Blair's eye wandered to some new toy, Jo supposed. Catch and release–Blair's sport of choice. With a frown, Jo tried to figure out whether she had already read this part about Fulton's steam engine. Why hadn't she commandeered the couch in the living room as she had originally intended, instead of sitting here having to listen to this crap? Maybe she should just pack up her books and–

Blair's next words threw off her train of thought. "Slightly less so when he was forgetting what the word 'no' means," the blonde said.

What was this?

Tootie piped up. "I can't believe he dumped you on the side of the road when you changed your mind."

"And they say all the good ones are taken," Natalie quipped.

"That whole escapade wasn't like you, Blair," Tootie said. "I mean, Steve was good looking and all, but he didn't exactly have Bink-Parker-like credentials."

Bink Parker? That wienie.

"That wienie!" Blair said. "I've asked you not to mention his name in my vicinity."

Same here, Jo almost said. His buffoonery in carrying out Blair's plan to talk Jo out of marrying her fiance had nearly ended the girls' friendship before it began.

'Oops,' Tootie mouthed.

"Anyway, as my aunt Marisa always said, 'Rough hands, warm heart,'" Blair said. She paused at some recollection. "But then, she also used to say that gardeners are wasted in the garden . . . ."

Tootie blinked at her.

Oh, for Pete's sake. Jo rolled her eyes.

"You know, Blair," Natalie said, "maybe you like the bad boy type. Remember when Mr. Bradley went all macho rescuing you from that flood?"

Tootie nodded. "You sure saw him in a new light," she said impishly. "'Oh, Mr. Bradley, you're so forceful.'"

Mr. Bradley? Was that one of the teachers? Ick.

"Oh, puh-leeze," Blair said. Without turning her head, Jo could picture the blonde waving a hand dismissively. She knew the gestures that went with the tones. "Temporary insanity both times. I'm strictly an old-money, blue-blood kind of girl." She reached for the next card on the stack. "Your turn, Tootie. 'Have you ever let a boy get to second base?'"

"I choose truth," Tootie said. "The answer is no. No one's ever tried," she admitted.

Steve. Is that the name of the delivery guy from Kitchen Supplies?

"OK, we are all too boring," Natalie declared. "No one's taking dares. We need someone who has something to hide."

"Jo," Blair called over.

The other girl did not look up from the page she had been staring at for ten minutes. "No," she said, hoping to convey her sincere disinterest.

"What if we limit it to convictions?" Blair said, with sugary sweetness.

Jo sneered at her, "That list could get longer any minute now, Princess Di."

"OK, Nat," Tootie said, "you ready?"

Setting her textbook on the table, Jo wandered into the kitchen to make herself some tea. She'd been saving the errand for Nat or Tootie's turn. She liked the kids well enough, but frankly, their limited experiences couldn't compare to those of their more worldly roommate. Blair was much more interesting. And she didn't lie. Which was probably good, seeing as how Blair Warner was the worst liar in the known universe. It wasn't like she wanted to lie, anyway; not when bragging about herself was so much more fun.

The questions themselves were halfway decent, Jo had to admit. "Tammy Johansen's home-made version," Tootie had declared with reverence as she lifted the lid from the box. "I heard her mother grounded her for a month when she saw some of the cards."

"OK, Blair," Tootie announced excitedly. She liked it when it was the older girl's turn, too. She and Nat weren't all that exciting, she had to admit. Yet.

Jo backed through the swinging door with a cup of hot tea in hand just as Tootie picked up a card. "'Not counting relatives,'" she read, "'have you ever kissed a girl on the lips'?"

The brunette froze mid-stride. Shit. After a moment, she resumed her casual stroll back to the table. Blair wouldn't say anything. She probably didn't even remember. That was over a year ago . . . .

From the corner of her eye, she watched as Blair blew on her hot cocoa – except that it wasn't hot. It had been sitting there for half an hour. Uh oh.

"Blair?" Tootie said.

"I'm sorry," Blair said. "What was the question?"

"'Not counting relatives, have you ever kissed a girl on the lips?'" Tootie repeated. She leaned in to share a bit of gossip. "Marcie Hendrix took a dare on that one," she said saucily.

Natalie's eyes widened. "Oh, my," she said. "That Marcie is more interesting than I thought."

"Come on, Blair, hurry it up," Tootie said.

The blonde seemed paralyzed. She remembered, apparently. So did Jo . . . .

Where was everybody? More specifically, where were all the guys? Lines that had been half a dozen deep at this shindig were suddenly sparse. Spying Natalie at a nearby booth, Jo wandered over. "Where is everybody?" she asked.

"Dunking machine."

That thing had been running for hours. What was up now?

"It's Blair's turn," Natalie added.

A wide grin spread across Jo's face. "So, Princess Grace is gettin' soaked, huh?" she said. That was something she'd like to see.

By now, Tootie had joined them. "Not exactly," she said.


Meaning that Blair had come up with one of her brilliant ideas, Tootie explained. "Guys who miss the target get to enter a special drawing," she said.

"Drawing for what?"

"A kiiiiiss." Tootie puckered her lips. "Blair says it's a win-win: The winner gets to make out with her, and Blair doesn't get wet."

"Ahh," Natalie complimented their absent friend, "very clever, our Blair."

"Yep." Tootie nodded. "She's just been sitting up there filing her nails for forty-five minutes."

One time in a restaurant, Jo had read a Mae West quote on a paper place mat that read,"I usually avoid temptation unless I can't resist it." At this moment, she understood that feeling. "Oh, yeah?" she said. She fished around in her jeans pocket.

Natalie's eyes went to the crumpled dollar bills in the older girl's hand. "Now, Jo . . . ."

"Watch my booth for me," Jo said. Smiling to herself, she wandered outside.

Tootie turned to Natalie. "Blair is in troooou-ble . . . ."

An hour later, an enraged, still-dripping debutante staggered through the front door of the house the four girls shared. Her attempt to slam the door behind her was thwarted by the creature trailing her, a grinning Joanna Polniaczek.

"You forgot to wipe your feet," Jo said.

Blair ignored her, continuing her miserable trek to the stairs. "Do not speak to me," she said. "Ever. Again."

Mrs. Garrett entered the room with a surprised, "Blair! You look . . . ."

"Like a drenched mink?" Blair supplied forlornly. "A soiled work of art?"

"Yeah–a water color!" Jo laughed at her own joke.

Blair's expression soured even more. "Three times," she said to Mrs. Garrett, holding up the specified number of fingers. "Three times she dumped me."

"Yep." Jo flexed her arm. "The Yankees are missin' out."

"Look at my hair!" Blair wailed.

The nutritionist was already looking. "Um . . . yes . . . well, nothing a shower and a blow dryer can't fix," she declared optimistically.

"Kendall is picking me up in two hours," Blair complained. "I'll never be ready in time."

"Don't worry, I'll stall him," Jo offered. "I'll tell him about all your annoying little habits."

That broke Blair's moratorium on speaking to Cro-Magnon Woman. "I'll need more time than that," she said with an artificial smile, "So why don't you start with yours?"

"Heh," Jo said with a grin, "'cause I don't have any."

Blair gaped at her. "Are you delusional?"

"I dunno," Jo replied. "I'd better check." To Mrs. Garrett, she asked,"Is there a 5 foot 5 drowned rat in front of me?"

"Well, I wouldn't say 'drowned,'" the dietician replied diplomatically. "Or 'rat,'" she added hastily.

"Close enough," Jo declared. She turned back to Blair. "Guess I'm not delusional. Better get upstairs, Blondie. Mr. Personality will be here before you know it."

"I'd rather have a guy with no personality than one with your personality," Blair countered, unwittingly admitting Jo's allegations against her latest suitor.

"Then you got nothin' to worry about," Jo said. "No one with my personality would ever go out with someone with your personality anyway."

"See what I mean?" Blair asked rhetorically. "Delusional." She slowly climbed the stairs with what was left of her dignity.

"Oh, Jo," Mrs. Garrett sighed, "why can't you girls leave each other alone?"

"Gimme a break, Mrs. G," Jo said. "A little soak was a small price for the favor I did her."

"What favor?"

"Riggin' the drawing." When the older woman showed no sign of comprehension, Jo added, "The kissing booth?"

"There's no kissing booth at the Carnival," Mrs. Garrett said.

"There is when Blair's tryin' to get out of something," Jo said. "She was on the hook for a makeout session with one of the guys. I took care of it for her." She patted her jeans pocket.

Mrs. Garrett suppressed a smile. "I should be disturbed about cheating, I suppose, but I guess I'll overlook it this time," she said.

"Eh," Jo shrugged, "I figure if Blair makes out with someone, it oughtta be 'cause she wants to."

"That was a nice thing you did," Mrs. Garrett praised her. "I'm sure Blair will appreciate it."

"Yeah, right. Five bucks says I don't get so much as a 'Thanks' out of Mrs. Onassis."

"Well, um, I can't participate in gambling."

"That ain't a gamble." Jo wandered over the couch and dropped down onto it, propping her feet on the table.

A while later, she headed upstairs and opened the door part way, peeking around the corner to see if the coast was clear. Natalie sat, cross legged, on her bed, jotting something in her diary. Tootie lay on her stomach on the upper bunk, watching Blair get ready for her date.

When no cutting remarks were launched in her direction, Jo sauntered on in. "Ken Doll's downstairs," she announced. "By the way; you ever seen a Ken doll without its clothes on? You might wanna think about that."

No retort? This was bad.

"Look, I'm sorry I dunked you," she said. "I didn't know you'd get so mad."

The silence was really disconcerting.

"You did just fine getting ready," Jo tried again. "You look great."

When no reply came, Jo signaled for the others to leave.

Tootie dutifully hopped down from the upper bunk. "She's right," she said as she passed by Blair. "You look beautiful."

When the others were gone, Jo tried again. "I said I'm sorry," she said, a little defensively. "I think that oughtta be enough."

"Do you?"

Well, now that she asked . . . . "Yeah, I do," Jo replied. "If I can't have a little fun without worryin' that you're gonna go off on me, this ain't gonna work."

"What's not going to work?"

"Us," Jo said. "You know, the 'we're in this together' thing."

"Together," Blair repeated.

Suddenly, Jo remembered the piece de resistance in her pocket. Maybe this would bring Blair out of her funk. She drew out the ticket and dropped it on the desk.

"What's this?"

"Your kiss," Jo said. She waited for Blair's reaction.

"I thought you–" Blair stopped mid-sentence.

"Thought I what?"

The blonde being the worst liar at Eastland, Jo watched her try to come up with something before finally giving up. "I thought you sold it to Toby McIntyre," Blair said.

"That creep? Why would you think that?" That big-mouth Ramsey. She must have been lurking somewhere when Toby tried to slip her the money. "McIntyre wanted it," Jo said. "I turned him down."

"A hundred dollars?"

"I don't remember," Jo lied. Five twenties, slapped into her hand by someone who, like Blair, assumed that money opened all doors. "More than you're worth, whatever it was."

"Why?" Blair asked. "You've been saving up for a new motorcycle seat."

This was what Blair thought of her? That she'd sell her out for a new seat after McIntyre had grabbed Blair's ass like that behind the bleachers? The only thing Jo would ever give that loser was another black eye. "'cause I didn't want to," she said, her voice rising a little in her hurt.

"You kept it for yourself?"

"That's what I said. You got a hearing problem?" Jo crossed her arms. "So, whaddya say?" she challenged her. Like Blair Warner would lower herself to utter a 'thank you, Jo,' for preserving her precious lips for Ken Doll or whatever guy she moved on to next week.

When Blair rose, Jo realized that Tootie was right–her friend was stunning in her calf-length black dress. Lucky Ken, getting to look at Blair all night. All evening, anyway.

"You want to compound my humiliation, is that it?" Blair asked.

Now she was getting really ticked. Ingrate. "Yeah," she said.

Blair glanced down at the ticket, then back at Jo.

"Blair!" A yell came from downstairs.

How self-centered could one person be? "Forget it," Jo said, a little disgusted. "I shoulda known better."

"Excuse me?"

"Better get downstairs," Jo said. "Ken's waitin' for you."

"All right," Blair said. "But first–" She steeled herself, then took two steps forward, slid her arms around Jo's neck, and kissed her.

On the lips.

Without thinking about it, Jo closed her eyes and laid her hands on Blair's waist.

A few seconds later, it was over. Blair stepped back again and checked her lipstick in the mirror. "Never bluff a Warner," she said coolly.

Bluff? "What was that all about?" Jo exclaimed as she emerged from her shock.

"You wanted to humiliate me, you got it."

"Alls I wanted was a 'Thank you,' not a . . . ." Jo couldn't bring herself to say it. "I saved you from Toby Snotface trying to shove his tongue down your throat."

Blushing furiously, Blair stammered, "Oh, no. I thought . . . ."

"You thought I wanted you to kiss me?" Jo's heart was racing at the bizarreness of this conversation.

"No!" Blair blurted. "I mean yes, but only to embarrass me."

"Blair, if I wanted to embarrass you, there's a hundred ways to do it that don't involve–"

"Fine!" Blair interrupted. "I'm sorry, all right?" She held up her palms in surrender. "My mistake."

The door swung open again. "Blair," Tootie announced, "Ken's been waiting for ten minutes. Are you guys going to be at it much longer?"

"At what?" Jo and Blair said simultaneously.

"At whatever you're doing."

"Arguing." "Primping." The older girls looked at each other.

Instructing her younger friend to tell Ken she was ready, Blair reached for her handbag. "This never leaves this room," she said firmly.

"What doesn't?" Tootie's question from the hall surprised them.

Jo stormed across the room to loom over the smaller girl. "Our plans to do you in if you keep snooping, Twerp," she growled.

"Gotta go!" A pair of tennis shoes thumped erratically down the stairs.

Turning back to Blair, Jo said, "Deal." Things were still a little awkward between them, she sensed. She didn't want Blair to stew all evening and ruin her good time. "Hey," she called out as her roommate neared the doorway, "I've had worse." She shrugged. "Not much, but . . . ."

Blair's smile was reassuring. "Me, too."


The blonde was taking another time-consuming sip of cocoa. "Hm?" she stalled. "I'm sorry, I was thinking about my math test next week. What was the question again?"

When this was over, she was going to give Blair lessons in basic self-preservation. But for now . . . . Jo jumped up and strode over to the table where the three friends were playing. Grabbing the back of Blair's neck, she leaned in and planted a quick kiss on the surprised heiress's lips. When she straightened up, she announced with a toothy grin, "She has."

Natalie laughed while Tootie gawked at the pair.

Sputtering in anger, Blair rose slowly from her chair. "You . . . ," she growled.

Jo held out her palms. "Come on, it was funny," she said.

"Funny?" Blair echoed. "I'll need therapy now."

Jo backed out of the room while an infuriated Blair stalked toward her. "Now, Blair, ain't you got a sense of humor?" She turned and raced up the stairs, with Blair in hot pursuit.

Once inside their room, Blair spun around and shut the door, leaning against it. "Quick thinking," she praised.

"Thanks," Jo replied. "But we have got to work on your lying. I can't go around kissin' you every time you play that game."

"Well, you've gotten further than Kendall ever did," Blair teased her.

In spite of herself, Jo was intrigued. "Oh, yeah?" she said, stepping closer to the blonde. "How far did he get?"

"One kiss."

That was surprising. "That's it?" Jo asked. At Blair's nod, she asked, "How come?"

"Most of the guys I date don't get much more than that," Blair said.

"Why do they keep coming back?"

"They're like the apprentice who attends Leonardo da Vinci every day, just for a chance to be near the Master."

Jo had to ask. "So, how would you have answered that particular question before you and I . . . ?" She didn't need to elaborate.

"I would have said no," Blair replied. She eyed her roommate with interest. "How about you?"

"I woulda said no, too."

Blair studied her. "And you would have been lying," she guessed.

Crap. How could Blair tell? Even her mother couldn't see through Jo's bull most of the time. "Maybe once," she fudged. "Just messing around. Lots of girls do it. Nat read it in–"

"–Teen Magazine," Blair finished for her. "I read that article, too. Where do you think Tammy got her questions?"

"You don't read Teen Magazine."

"I read that one," she said. "Almost half the girls said they had kissed another girl at least once. A third had gone further than that."

Jo felt her face growing warm. She hoped this wasn't leading where she thought it might be leading.

"Are you one in three, Jo?"

Eyes straight, Polniaczek. Focus. Lie. "It was a long time ago," Jo blurted out instead. Great–what was Blair Warner, a damn lie detector?

"What did you do?"

"I gotta finish my studying," Jo said lamely, jerking a thumb toward the door.

Blair was skeptical. "You mean for the History test that's still a week away?"

"I've been struggling."

"To stay awake, maybe," Blair said. "You could practically teach that class." She walked toward Jo, who knew that look. Blair was having one of her ideas again. "Joanna Polniaczek, have you ever touched a girl's . . . ?"

A girl's what? Jo was afraid to ask–and more afraid that Blair might answer.

"Question number 4," Blair elaborated.

"I didn't read the article."

Blair strode over to Natalie's dresser drawer, opened it, and grabbed a publication. Opening it to the article titled "Comprehensive Survey on Sexual Attitudes and Experience Among Teens," she jabbed at a particular section.

Jo's eyes flickered to Blair's breasts. Even through cloth, they would feel wonderful. "I might have," she admitted.

In another unspoken question, a finely manicured fingernail moved further down the page.

Jo reddened. "Nah, not really," she said. She plucked the magazine out of Blair's hand and slapped it shut, but not before she saw what fourteen percent of the girls said they had done with each other.

She gulped.

Blair's brown eyes flashed. "This says experimenting is natural," she said.

Jo wasn't sure how to respond to that. Was it her imagination, or was Blair standing closer than she was a minute earlier? Or was Jo just more aware of her presence?

"And fun," Blair added.

"It didn't say that," Jo protested.

"It didn't say it wasn't." Tossing the magazine onto the desk, Blair reached for Jo's hand and eased it beneath her Angora sweater. Jo couldn't stop the groan that escaped her throat as her palm found her friend's breast. She squeezed gently, and Blair's moan joined her own. Stepping closer, she kissed Blair, continuing the caresses with her hand as their breathing became ragged. After a while, Jo reached around and brought her fingers to a small hook. "Let me," she whispered.

The exploration was cut short, though, by the sound of two roommates with lousy timing tromping down the hall toward their room.

Jo withdrew her hands from Blair's sweater and took a flying leap onto her bed. When the girls entered, Blair was leaning casually against the desk, leafing through a magazine.

"Wow, no blood," Tootie exclaimed.

"Not yet," Blair said. "Let's go, Polniaczek." To their friends, she said, "Jo has volunteered to assist with my science experiment as partial compensation for her latest error in judgment."

"'Do my experiment,' I believe were your exact words," Jo said, playing along. "And I believe mine were, 'Forget it.'"

"Fine," Blair said. "Then I guess I'll just have to tell you all about my last vacation in Europe. Again. Have I ever read you the poem that Jacque wrote about my eyes?"

The brunette was up in a flash. "Let's go," she said.

"We're off to the science lab," Blair said. "We'll be back when we're done experimenting."

Later, in a dark corner of an empty lab, Jo broke away from Blair's lips to breathe. On one of the desks, atop Blair's bra, lay a blue sweater folded neatly by its owner when Jo had started to toss the damn thing to the ground. ("It's cashmere!") Trust Blair to keep her fashion sense even in the heat of passion.

Jo bent to take a breast into her mouth. "Blair?" she mumbled against the soft flesh. She reached under the maroon skirt and tugged Blair's panties down her thighs until they dropped to the floor.

A slight variation in the other girl's ragged breathing was the only indication that Blair heard her.

Sliding her hand between Blair's thighs, Jo closed her eyes in excitement. "If they ever ask you if you've gone all the way with another girl–"

Her next movement drew a sharp gasp of pleasure.

"Take the dare . . . ."

The End

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