Chapter 1

I didn't expect her to answer the door.

"Oh, hey Louis."

"Hi Zoe. I'm..."

"Yeah, yeah. Come on in. It's getting chilly out here." She dragged me through the door. Okay, so I didn't resist an awful lot. "That's better."

"Yeah. Uh, Zoe?"

"Uh huh."

"No wonder you're cold. Where are your pants?"

Zoe was the cute one. I was dating the smart one. I think. Just now though, I was a little distracted. Zoe was wearing a bright red tee-shirt with a fire engine on it. It would have looked really cute on a five year old. Zoe was a grown woman, but hell, it still looked great on her.

She was always dressed in something funky and weird, and everyone was used to that. It was the rest of the outfit, what little there was of it, that surprised me. The shirt barely reached her hips. Below that was ... tights. Black tights. I could see a pair of pale briefs through them. That was it. Her small black-coated feet padded confidently as she twirled her firm legs in full knowledge of what I was staring at.

"Pants?"

"Yeah. You know. Pants. Because those," and I pointed at her thighs, "are not."

"I wasn't going to wear any."

"Aren't you going out?"

"Yup. Hot date."

"With no pants."

"That's it. Why, you think it gives the wrong message?"

"Damn, Zoe, what sort of message were you working on?"

"I want him to think I'm sophisticated, but accessible."

"Well, I think you covered the second part."

"I'm not much covered at all."

"True enough. You're really going out like that?"

"Yeah."

"Fuck."

"Possibly."

"Zoe, I can see your ass."

"Oh, you can not."

"Of course I can."

"You can't. Anyway..." She leaned away from me, if anything emphasising my point. " ... I was planning on adding this." She held up a small skirt. It was a delicate looking thing, and would have looked ludicrous on anyone else.

"Oh."

"Yeah, oh."

"You, Louis, have a dirty mind."

"Yeah, I probably do."

"There's not much doubt." She climbed into the skirt, turned away from me, and wiggled her ass. "How's that?"

"It's obscene, but not in a bad way."

"Exactly the attitude I was aiming for." She turned to me, pulled my face down a little, and kissed me lightly on the nose. "Thanks for the fashion assistance. I gotta go out and wait for my date. Claire's in her room."

"Okay, thanks. You have fun."

"Oh, I plan to. You have no idea."

I walked towards the hallway, and Claire's bedroom. Just as I got near her door, I heard Zoe's voice behind me, and turned to look. Zoe was turned away from me, and she lifted her skirt and wiggled her butt at me.

"This, Louis, is not my ass."

She tucked her thumbs in the waistband of her black tights, pulled them down off her butt, and wiggled her white panties.

"Neither is this."

Thumbs again, and this time she shrugged out of her panties, and wiggled one more time. Bare pale skin.

"This? This is my ass, Louis."

"Oh, God."

"No," she said, hoisting things back into place, and slipping her feet into her tennis shoes. "That's something else. Gotta go." With a mile-wide grin, she opened the door and stepped out on to the porch.


I was in a decidedly less jovial mood when I headed back to the door. I'd only been a few minutes. Just long enough for Claire to explain about how we needed some space. How perhaps we should take a break. How, after I exploded, she didn't want me back. How, she confessed, she was seeing someone else anyway, but didn't want to tell me, as that would have been cruel. Now, however, I deserved it.

I was carrying the set of belongings the condescending bitch had already decided were the things that should be mine. No need, she told me, to return anything else.

I felt as though I should be angry, but actually I was just numb. I grabbed my jacket, threw it in the box, and stomped out the front door, slamming it behind me, and delighting childishly in the rattle the glass made in its frame.

"Oh," Zoe commented calmly, standing at the other end of the porch. "How mature."

"Sorry, Zoe. Hey, what are you doing here?"

"I'm waiting for my hot date."

"He's not very reliable, is he?"

"Hey, don't go all bitter on me. Actually, he's quite good, usually. Shows up where and when he's told. Problem is, his girlfriend is a heartless bitch."

"Huh?"

"Yeah."

"You're going on a hot date with someone who has a girlfriend? What in hell is wrong with you?"

She grinned then. "Actually, Studly, nothing is. I have it on good authority that he and bitchface just broke up."

"You. Huh?"

"Your verbal skills aren't at their best, are they?"

"I'm lost."

"I know. Never mind, this isn't a time for thinking. It's a time for dancing."

"Well, he better show up soon then."

"You are slow today. My date has arrived."

"Huh? Where?"

"Oh, let's cut this short. You're the date, and you are taking me dancing."

"I ... no, I'm not."

"Oh, yes you are."

"No. Look, Claire just dumped me. I'm not in any mood..."

"I know that, Louis. Why do you think I was out here?"

"You were waiting for me?"

"Yeah. Dancing."

"No."

"I dressed for you."

I grinned despite myself. "Not much, you didn't."

"You saw my ass. I deserve at least one dance for that."

"Can we drink?"

"I insist."


Three hours later we stumbled out of a nightclub, both a little drunk. I insisted on returning Zoe home.

"Can't be done, buddy. I told Claire what I thought of her, on your behalf. I ain't going back until she leaves for her course on Monday."

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