Flash Back — Lina and Phil (the early years)
Phil and Lina in high school…
“Hey, Hunter wait up.”
Phil slowed his stride, allowing a couple of teammates to catch up to him as he headed toward the lacrosse field.
“Did you hear that Steve’s having a party tonight? His parents are out of town,” one of the boys said, referring to one of their classmates. “His brother is bringing a keg.”
“I can’t make it. I have plans with a girl.”
“The one from the dance?” the second boy asked.
“Yeah.” Phil continued onto the field, his eyes scanning the stands that were beginning to fill with spectators.
“Wait, I didn’t hear about a girl,” the first boy said. “Who is it? Where does she go to school?”
“Walter Reed,” Phil answered, referring to one of the local public high schools. “Lina Rayburn.”
“Adele’s sister? The middle one with the long dark hair?”
“You know her?” Phil asked.
“I know of her. She’s hot as shit. Reynolds had a thing for her last summer.”
Phil stopped his forward movement, turning to the other boy. “She went out with him?” He hated the thought of Reynolds, who was with a different girl every week, touching Lina.
“No. She blew him off.”
Phil felt the tension leave his body.
“Have you done her yet?”
The tension immediately returned to Phil. “None of your fucking business!”
“Relax man,” the other boy said holding up his hands. “I was just asking? It’s not like you don’t ask.”
“She’s off limits.”
“Hey, save the aggression for the field,” their coach said, stepping between them. “Get your head in the game.”
“I need you to drop me off at Georgetown Prep,” Lina told Adele when she found her in the kitchen. “Mom said you could use the car.”
Adele turned from the open refrigerator. “Why do you want to…” she trailed off, her eyes widening. “You’re going to watch him play.”
“Will you take me?”
“I thought you didn’t like athletes.”
“I don’t normally,” Lina answered, lifting her chin slightly. “But he isn’t like the rest of them.”
Adele laughed. “Oh puleeze. He’s exactly like the rest of them. Phil Hunter is one hundred percent athlete.”
“You don’t know him.”
“And you do? You met him less than a week ago.”
“Are you going to take me or not?”
“Take her where?” Shiloh asked coming into the room. “Can I come?”
“No,” Lina answered.
“She’s meeting a boy,” Adele said.
“The one from last weekend? The one you kissed?” Shiloh asked.
“You kissed him?” Adele asked. “Why am I just hearing this?”
“Because you have a big mouth and so do you,” Lina said, frowning at Shiloh.
“I can’t believe you didn’t tell me. You wouldn’t have even met him if it wasn’t for me.”
“Can we go? I don’t want to be late.”
“You like him,” Adele said. “Have you talked to him since last weekend?”
“He called me last night,” Lina said and every other night since they met, she thought but didn’t say aloud. “He asked me to come to his game.”
“Why don’t we all go?” Shiloh asked. “I want to meet him.”
“No. I barely know him. He invited me, not my family.”
Lina normally wasn’t shy. She was the opposite of shy. She was confident and comfortable in her own skin, but as she approached the lacrosse field behind Phil’s private school, she felt nerves fluttering in her tummy.
Lina turned to find a group of girls from her high school. “Hey.” She smiled relieved to see familiar faces. They weren’t girls she normally hung out with, but she liked them.
“I thought that was you,” a girl named Kelsey said, giving her a hug. “Who are you with?”
“No one,” Lina admitted. “I’m meeting someone after the game.”
“One of the players?”
Lina nodded. “Phil Hunter.”
“Phil Hunter?” Kelsey repeated incredulously, as if he were a movie star. “Did you hear that?” She turned to the other girls in her group. “Lina has a date with Phil Hunter.”
“I didn’t say it was a date. We’re just hanging out.”
“I hate you,” one of the girls said. “He’s like perfect.” For the next few minutes Lina was bombarded with questions.
“You are so lucky,” Kelsey said for the third time.
“Maybe he’s lucky,” Lina said, annoyance creeping into her voice.
“Oh well, yeah, of course. That goes without saying. Come on,” she continued, curving her arm through Lina’s. “Let’s go find a seat. The game is going to start soon.”
Five minutes later the starting players stood at midfield awaiting the singing of the National Anthem. Lina watched Phil stretching his neck from side to side. His number was fourteen, the same as her birthday. She wondered if it meant something. She’d ask her mom.
Kelsey leaned over to Lina. “Do you want me to yell his name?”
“What?” Lina swung her attention to Kelsey. “No, I—”
“Go Phil!” Kelsey screamed.
Lina’s face heating with embarrassment. “Why did you do that?”
“He’s looking up here,” Kelsey said. “Wave to him.”
Lina shifted her gaze to find Phil staring up at the stands. He’d spotted her. Even from a distance she could see how beautiful he was. He lifted his chin in acknowledgment and her heart leapt.
Phil quickly gathered his gear. He’d had a good game, scoring five goals and assisting another two, but at the moment the only thing on his mind was Lina. She was the first girl he’d ever invited to a game. He’d worried a little that she’d be a distraction and she had been, but in a good way. Knowing she was watching was like an adrenaline rush. He’d wanted to impress her.
“Great game, Phil.” His coach patted his back. “That was a whole other level for you.”
“I felt good.” Phil lifted his bag from the ground, making it clear he didn’t want to linger.
“Keep it up,” his coach said to his departing back.
Phil’s gaze scanned the group of spectators milling about just outside the field. There were at least one hundred, but he was only looking for one. He spotted her off to the side. She was wearing jean shorts and a purple tank top. Her dark hair was falling down around her shoulders. She saw him a few seconds into his perusal and she rewarded him with a small smile. He breathed in. She was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen.
“Phillip,” his mother said. “You looked wonderful out there.”
He reluctantly pulled his gaze from Lina to greet his mother who had stopped beside him. “Thanks, Mom.”
“Your father had to use the restroom. I think he’s going to be hoarse from—”
“I’ve got to go shower.”
“Your dad will be—”
“I can’t wait. I have to be somewhere. Tell Dad I’ll talk to him at home. I’ve gotta go Mom.” He kissed her cheek and left her before she could say more.
He was greeted with a chorus of ‘congratulations’ and ‘great games’ as he made his way through the crowd, but refused to stop, intent only on reaching Lina. “Hey,” he said when he finally did. His heart began to pump harder in his chest as he met her eyes.
“Thanks.” He let his eyes travel over her face, but refused to give into the urge to drop them to her breasts. “What did you think?” He knew it was her first time seeing a lacrosse game.
“Honestly?” Her brows pulled together in a frown.
He smiled. “You didn’t like it?”
“I was afraid they were going to hurt you. It was hard to relax.”
She was serious. He could see it in her expression. “No one’s going to hurt me. You should worry about the guys I’m up against.”
“I don’t care about them.” As soon as the words left her mouth, a light blush stained her cheeks. “I mean I don’t know them,” she quickly added.
He reached out and hooked his finger into her belt loop, tugging her slowly toward him. “So, you care about me.”
“Don’t be cocky.”
“Your words, not mine.” He slowly lowered his head. “You smell good.”
Lina placed her hand on his chest as he tugged her still closer. “You’re sweaty,” she said.
“You’re beautiful,” he whispered against her lips. Before he could say more, he felt her gripping his shirt and then she was pressing her lips into his, kissing him softly.
The sounds of a clearing throat reminded Phil that they were in a public place. He reluctantly lifted his head. When he saw his parents, he stepped back from Lina. “Dad.”
“Good game,” Mr. Hunter said, cupping Phil’s shoulder.
“Thanks.” His eyes shifted back to Lina who was blushing in embarrassment.
“Introduce us to your friend Phillip,” Mrs. Hunter said.
“This is Lina,” Phil said.
“Does Lina have a last name?” Mr. Hunter asked.
“Rayburn,” Lina answered, offering a small smile.
“Oh my, aren’t you beautiful,” Mrs. Hunter gushed, cupping the side of her cheek. “Isn’t she beautiful, Bruce?”
“She sure is.” His gaze shifted between his son and Lina.
“I’ll see you guys at home,” Phil said, hoping his parents would get the hint and leave.
“Twelve thirty,” Mr. Hunter said. “No later.”
“It was so nice to meet you Lina. Don’t be a stranger. Come for dinner some night,” Mrs. Hunter said.
“It was nice meeting you too.” Lina smiled.
“Be good,” Mrs. Hunter said to Phil before letting her husband lead her away.
“I’m going to run to the locker room and take a quick shower. Are you okay waiting here?” Phil asked
Lina nodded. “Sure.”
Lina watched Phil jog toward the locker room, her eyes lingering on the muscles in his back and shoulders outlined beneath his damp jersey. She felt a fluttering in her tummy. He wasn’t the first boy she’d kissed, but he was definitely the first to make her feel butterflies.
When he returned fifteen minutes later, freshly showered and wearing Khaki shorts and a T-shirt, she again felt fluttering in her tummy.
“Ready?” he asked, holding out his hand.
She placed her palm in his, a shot of awareness coursing through her body as he engulfed her hand in his. It felt both new and familiar at the same time. He was bigger than she remembered. Her head barely reached his shoulder.
“Are you hungry?” he asked.
“Not really, but I should be. I’ve barely eaten today.”
“I’ve heard that’s what happens to girls when they’re falling in love. They lose their appetite.”
“You wish.” Lina bumped her shoulder into his side.
“You’re right,” he said, giving her hand a squeeze.
Lina watched Phil bite into the last slice of pizza. Besides the slice she’d taken a couple of bites from, he’d consumed an entire pizza. She’d never seen one person eat so much, but in fairness, she wasn’t used to boys.
“Do you want the rest of mine?” she asked when he was done.
“No, I’m good.” He leaned back in his chair.
“Do you always eat that much?”
He shrugged. “Pretty much.”
They stared at each other for several seconds before Lina looked away. “How can you do that?” she asked.
“What?” He reached across the table and snagged her hand. “How can I do what?”
“Just look in my eyes without looking away.”
“Let’s get out of here,” he said, pushing back his chair. “I want to be alone with you.”
Lina’s heart jumped at the sudden change in him. She came to her feet, proceeding him out of the restaurant and into the cool Spring night. The sound of gravel crunching under their feet, echoed in the air as they made their way to his car.
Instead of leading her to the passenger door, he stopped in front of the car, placing his hands on each side of her hips and effortlessly lifting her onto the hood. “Tell me you’re feeling what I’m feeling,” he said deeply. He situated himself between her thighs, his hands curving around the sides of her face as he tilted her head back so he could look into her eyes. “Tell me.”
Lina’s pulsed surged. “I do. Since I first saw you.”
He covered her mouth with his, moaning deeply as his tongue stroked hers.
Lina lost all track of time as she kissed him back, her fingers dipping beneath the collar of his shirt and stroking the warm skin of his shoulders. He was wedged between thighs and she could feel his erection pressing into her stomach. He couldn’t get any closer and yet that’s exactly what she wanted, to feel him closer.
“Fuck,” he groaned dragging his mouth across her cheek to her ear. “We have to stop.”
“No, we don’t.” She fisted his shirt, attempting to keep him from stepping back.
“We’re in a parking lot,” he reminded her. He dropped a hard kiss on her lips before pulling away. “Come on.” He helped her off the car and opened the passenger door.
Her whole body was on fire. When he dropped down into the driver seat, she fought the urge to climb into his lap. “Let’s go to my house.”
He gripped the steering wheel. “What about your parents?”
“It’s just my mom. She won’t care. My sister has taken boys to her room.”
He turned his head and met her eyes. “Have you?”
She shook her head. “No.”
He started up the engine.
Lina’s house was dark when Phil pulled into her driveway, but as they approached the front porch, he could see lights coming through the windows on either side of the front door. They’d been mostly quiet on the ten-minute drive from the restaurant, but with the exception of the short amount of time it took them to get out of the car they hadn’t stopped touching.
He wasn’t having sex with her tonight. He’d decided that on the drive over. There wasn’t enough time. It was already eleven and had to be home by 12:30. He wasn’t going to do it with her and just leave. That wasn’t the memory she was going to have of their first time.
“Shh,” she whispered before turning the knob and opening the front door.
“You leave your door unlocked?”
“Shh.” She frowned at him, pressing her finger against her lip. “I don’t want them to hear us.” She took his hand and led him up the stairs.
As soon as he entered her room, he was assailed by the scent of her perfume. His body hardened in reaction. Coming to her bedroom wasn’t a good idea.
“What’s wrong?” Lina asked when he hesitated just inside her room.
“Why did we have to sneak in if your mom doesn’t care?”
“Because,” she began, taking his hand, “once she saw us, she’d never stop talking.” She tugged him farther into the room. “Do you want to talk to my mom?” She stroked her hands up his chest.
“Not really.” He clasped her hips.
“Me either.” She linked her arms around his neck.
His eyes roamed her face, memorizing everything about her. “You’re so beautiful.”
“So are you.” She brushed her lips over his chin.
“No, I’m not.”
“You are.” She pressed closer against him.
“I don’t think this is a good idea,” he said even as he tightened his grip on her hips. “I don’t have a lot of time.”
“It’s only eleven,” she whispered, standing on her tiptoes.
Phil lowered his head, his lips brushing over hers. When he felt her tongue pressing against the seam of his lips, it was his undoing. He lifted her off the ground as he sucked her tongue into his mouth. He crossed to the bed, falling onto the mattress with her still in his arms. He rolled her onto her back and then sat up long enough to yank off his T-shirt. He wanted to feel her skin against his. He helped her off with her tank top and then his hand was at the front clasp of her bra.
“No,” Lina whispered, covering his hand. “I want to leave it on.”
He hesitated, propping himself up on his elbow as he looked down into her clear eyes. He’d obviously misread something. “Okay.” He released the clasp. “Do you want to put your shirt back on?”
“No.” She reached out and trailed her fingers over the side of his cheek and into his hair, curving her hand around the back of his head. “Can we just kiss tonight? I’ve never, you know. Done more than that.”
He felt a rush of feeling at her words.
“What? Why are you looking at me like that?” she asked.
“I just…I like what you said, that you haven’t been with anyone. I want to be the only one.”
She returned his gaze. “I want that too.”
It was 12:20 when Phil quietly closed Lina’s door. She’d fallen asleep in his arms fifteen minutes earlier. He’d watched her sleep, liking the feel of her body curled into the side of his. If felt natural. Leaving her didn’t. He plowed his hand back through his hair as he made his way toward the stairs. He wasn’t going to be able to go another week without seeing her. He didn’t care how busy he was with school and lacrosse. He’d figure something out. He was almost to the bottom of the stairs when a woman, he assumed was Lina’s mother, appeared from the back of the house.
“My goodness, you scared me.” She flicked on a light.
Phil squinted at the sudden brightness, stopping in his tracks. “I’m sorry. I was just…I’m Phil Hunter. I was visiting Lina.” He continued down the stairs and held out his hand. “It isn’t what you think.”
“And what do I think,?”
“That I was, uh—”
“Having sex with my daughter.” She took his hand.
“Yes.” He returned her hand shake which was surprising firm. “But we weren’t.”
“Why not? Is there something wrong with you?”
“What—No.” Heat rushed to his face.
She laughed aloud. “I’m just teasing you. I can see how virile you are. You’re quite tall too, aren’t you?”
“I’m almost six two,” he said absently, trying to play back her words in his head. Had she just called him virile?
“Did you know that you’re the first boy Lina has brought home? I’ll have to deduce from you that tall, dark and handsome is her type.”
“I guess so,” Phil answered. He didn’t know what to make of her. She didn’t dress or act like any mothers he knew. She was wearing shorts and tie-dyed T-shirt with her hair pulled back in a ponytail.
“Can I expect to see more of you?”
“Yes, ma’am. You’re going to see a lot more of me. I plan to marry your daughter.”
“Is that so.” Alice’s eyes narrowed as she studied him. “In that case, I’m going to need your birth date and time. I’ll have to do your astrological chart to make sure your compatible.”
Mr. Hunter looked up from his paper as Phil came into the kitchen the following morning. “You were late last night.”
“Only a few minutes.” He dropped down at the table kitty corner to his father. “No bacon?” he asked his mother when she set a plate of pancakes before him.
“It’s coming. Would you like me to make you some eggs?”
“No this is good.” He reached for the glass of milk beside his plate. “Oh, some orange juice, please.”
“The deal was no later than 12:30,” Mr. Hunter said. “We could go back to 12:00.”
“It won’t happen again.”
“Are you sure this is going to be enough food for you?” Mrs. Hunter set a glass of orange juice before him. “I could cut up some fruit.”
“This is plenty, Mom.”
“You burned a lot of calories last night.”
His thought shifted to Lina and the feel of her body beneath his. He picked up his fork and stabbed it into his pancakes. He needed to see her. He wasn’t waiting another week. “What time are we working on the deck?” He’d promised his father he’d help him build a new deck off their sun room.
“As soon as we get back from church. Hopefully we can get the foundation finished before your grandparent arrive for dinner.”
“Dinner, tonight?” he frowned. “I already have plans.”
“On a Sunday night?” Mrs. Hunter asked. “They’ll be so disappointed. They were looking forward to seeing you. .”
“I can stay for a little while,” he said.
“What are your plans?” His father asked.
“I’m getting together with a friend.”
“You can’t change—“
“No,” Phil interrupted. “The plans are set.”
Lina smiled as she awoke, her first thoughts of Phil. She buried her face into the pillow beside her. It smelled of a mixture of soap and him. Her stomach fluttered at the memory of his body pressed against hers.
The opening of the door, proceeded the shifting of the mattress as Shiloh, wearing pjs shorts and a tank top, slipped under the comforter. “Mom’s yoga friends are here. Do you think they ate the crumb cake?”
Lina rolled onto her side, so they were facing each other. “Probably, but they always bring food, so they’ll be something else.”
“I wanted the crumb cake.” Shiloh gave an exaggerated pouty face. “Will you go see if there’s any left?”
“Why don’t you?”
“Because you’re better at getting away from them.”
It was true. Lina had learned long ago that if you didn’t want to be caught in a thirty-minute conversation with their mother’s friends, you had to act like you were in a hurry. Adele was even better at it than Lina, but Shiloh couldn’t seem to master the art of getting away.
“Fine, but only because I’m in a very generous mood.”
“The boy?” Shiloh’s already large eyes widened.
“The boy,” Lina agreed. She pushed the pillow she’d been hugging to Shiloh. “Smell it.”
Shiloh touched her nose to the pillow, breathing in. She lifted her eyes to Lina, her mouth had literally fallen open. “He was here?” she whispered. “You did it with him?”
“Yes he was here. We didn’t do it.” Lina left the bed, pausing at the door. “But we’re going to.”
Lina was in their backyard swing later that evening, listening to Adele tell her and Shiloh about sneaking into the local community center pool the night before.
“Don’t they have video cameras?” Shiloh asked. “You could get caught.”
“Why would they look?” Adele asked. “We didn’t damage anything. We just used the pool. They only look at the videos if something…” she trailed off as she focused on something behind Lina. “Your jock is here.”
Lina looked back over her shoulder to see Phil, dressed in jeans and a dark polo, walking across the grass toward them. Butterflies swirled in her stomach. She jumped off the swing and crossed to him. “What are you doing here?”
“I wanted to see you.” He clasped one of her hands. “I called but no one answered.”
She looked into his eyes which looked even bluer than she remembered. “Come and meet my sisters.” She tugged on his hand, leading him to the others.
“If you hurt my sister,” Adele began, crossing her arms over her chest. “I’ll kick you in the balls.”
“That’s Adele. You can ignore her.”
“I’ll kick you in them too,” Shiloh promised, but the shy smile on her face was such a contrast to her words, Phil laughed.
He dropped down into the swing, pulling Lina into his lap. “What if she hurts me?”
Lina relaxed back into the hardness of his body, liking how small he made her feel. “I won’t.”
“I’ll give you a band aid,” Adelle said, continuing to study Phil. “I’m not kidding about kicking you in the balls. I may be small but I’m deceptively strong.”
“Stop, Adele,” Lina said.
“Is it true that you’ve already committed to Duke to play lacrosse?” Adele asked.
“Yes.” Phil pushed off the dirt with his foot, sending the swing up in the air. He curved one of his arms over Lina’s middle.
“And they pay for everything?”
“Everything,” Phil confirmed. “Even books.”
“Is that Phillip out there?” Alice called from the patio.
Phil stopped the swing and quickly came to his feet, offering Lina a steadying hand as he stepped back from her. “Yes Ma’am.”
“Did you get your birth time for me?”
“Uh no, Ma’am, but I will.”
“Stop calling me Ma’am.”
“How do you know my mom?” Lina asked.
“When I was leaving—”
“Would you come in here, Phillip? I need your muscle.”
“Mom, he came to visit me,” Lina complained, following him toward the house.
“I just need his help loosening the garbage disposal, so I can install the new one.”
“I don’t mind,” he said.
An hour and a half later after installing a new garbage disposal and carrying some boxes from Alice’s bedroom to the basement, Phil followed Lina outside.
“I can’t believe she made you do that,” Lina complained.
“No, it’s not. You came to visit me and we barely got to spend any time together.” She was so annoyed at her mother.
“I’ll come back tomorrow.” He leaned back against his car.
“You will?” She stepped between his legs, sliding her hands up his chest and around his neck.
“I’ll come by after practice. I won’t be able to stay long, but I’ll come.”
“Do you promise.” She brushed her lips over his.
“Yes.” He curved his hands around her hips, pulling her body closer. “Why’s it so hard for me to leave you?”
“Because you’re not supposed to,” she whispered before meeting his lips.
“What’s the deal with your dad?” Phil asked a few night later. Lina was sitting on the hood of his car and he was standing between her legs with his arms wrapped around her.
“My parents are divorced. I told you that.”
“But where is he? Do you see him?”
“Not that much. He lives in Chicago. He’s a professor.”
“He doesn’t come down here?” His eyes narrowed in confusion.
“Never. We used to go up there, but…” she trailed off. “Don’t,” she said when she saw the concern in his eyes. “Don’t feel sorry for me. I don’t even care anymore. He left when I was six.”
“Six? He just left your mom with three little girls to take care of?” The concern in his eyes was replaced by anger. “What kind of man does that?”
“He gives my mom money.”
“It takes a lot more than money to be a father,” he fumed.
“Stop.” Lina fisted his shirt. “Why are you getting upset? I’m not upset?”
“Because it’s wrong. My dad would never do that.”
“He’s just different.” Lina tugged on his shirt, pulling him closer. “And I don’t care, so you shouldn’t either.” She wound her arms around his neck.
“I care about you.” He pressed his forehead into hers.
“Good.” She wrapped her legs around his hips.
He kissed her then, cupping the sides of her face as his tongue found hers. “Let’s go to my room,” Lina whispered when after a few minutes he lifted his head.
“I can’t. I have too much homework.”
“You could do it here.”
“No.” He shook his head, taking a step back from her. “I can’t think when I’m with you.”
“Will you be back tomorrow?” Saying good bye seemed to get harder every day.
“I can’t tomorrow. We have an assembly.”
“You could come after.”
“I’ll be with my parents, but the next day’s Friday. We’ll have a lot longer than twenty minutes.”
Lina clasped his hand. “Tell your parents you’re spending the night at one of your friends. You could stay here.”
He shook his head. “I don’t think I can.”
“Why not?” She squeezed his hand. “Don’t you want to spend the whole night with me?”
“I do. It’s just…it’s just too hard, you know. If we’re not, you know.”
Heat flamed her cheeks when she understood what he was saying. “Oh.” She lowered her gaze. “So you’re saying you’ll only stay if I—.”
“No!” He framed her face in his hands, tilting it up so he could meet her eyes. “That’s not what I’m saying. I’m just saying that it’s hard to lay next to you and not do that, so we can’t have sleepovers. I don’t want you to ever feel rushed, okay?”
She nodded, but still felt disappointed that he couldn’t just sleep next to her without sex.
“It’s almost three o’clock in the morning,” Mr. Hunter said as soon as Phil closed and locked the front door, the following Friday.
“Sorry, I fell asleep.”
“What were you thinking,” Mr. Hunter bit out.
“I told you. I fell asleep.” He took a couple of steps toward the stairs.
“We are not done,” Mr. Hunter called out. “Your mother was worried sick.”
“I’m sorry.” For the first time he noticed that his mother was standing slightly behind his father. “I’m sorry, Mom.”
“We tried to call you,” his father continued.
“It’s dead.” Phil pulled his phone from his pocket. “That’s one of the reasons I was late. I set the alarm for 12:15 but it didn’t go off.”
“You weren’t aware of the time?”
“I fell asleep watching a movie.” His gaze traveled between his parents. “May I go to my room?”
“Two weeks,” his father began pointing his finger at him. “Your weekends are mine for the next two weeks.”
“What!” Phil stopped with his hand on the banister and turned back to his father. “I didn’t do anything wrong!”
“You came home two-and-a-half hours after your curfew. You worried your mother and you interrupted my sleep. Two weeks.”
“No.” Phil shook his head. “No way.”
“I didn’t do anything wrong. I fell asleep watching a movie. It’s not like I was drinking or something. You’re not being fair.”
“I think you’re forgetting who makes the rules in this house.”
“I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“This isn’t a debate. Your mother and I decided your punishment before you came through the door.”
“Well you’re going to have to undecide it.”
“Phillip!” His father said sternly when Phil headed up the stairs. “Get back here. We aren’t done.”
Phil ignored him, continuing up the stair and to his room, slamming the door hard enough to shake the house. He paced back and forth across his bedroom, his fists clenching and unclenching. There was no fucking way, he was staying in. When there was no knock after five minutes, he began to relax, knowing his father wasn’t following him. He had half a mind to go back to Lina’s and spend the night with her in her bed. If he was going to get punished, he should at least get the benefit of doing something wrong. All he’d done was fall asleep on a couch between Lina and Shiloh.
It took him an hour to fall asleep, adrenaline continuing to pump through his veins. When his mother poked her head into his room at nine the following morning, his anger returned.
“You need to talk to him. I’m almost seventeen. He can’t treat me like a kid.”
“You can’t just come home when you want to.”
“I. Fell. Asleep,” Phil bit out. He pushed himself up on his elbows. “It was a mistake. I shouldn’t be punished for a mistake.”
His mother took a deep breath as she came farther into the room. “You shouldn’t have argued with him like that. It was very disrespectful. He was worried about you. We both were. We had no idea if something happened to you.”
“I was fine.”
“We didn’t know that.” She lowered herself into the chair beside his desk. “You have no idea what goes through a parents mind when their child is missing.”
“I’m not a child.”
She inclined her head.
“I didn’t mean to worry you.”
“Would it really be so awful to stay home with your parents for a couple of nights?”
He dropped his head back on the pillow. She was being ridiculous, just like his dad. “I work hard every day. I go to school. I get straight As. I practice lacrosse. The only time I get to do what I want to do is on the weekend. You can’t take that from me because my phone died.”
“What were you planning to do tonight?”
“I don’t know. Something.” Something with Lina.
“How about this. Why don’t you have her over here tonight and then by Monday or Tuesday this will have blown over enough for me to talk to your father.”
“How did you—”
“Know you were going to see Lina?” She raised her eyebrows. “We’re a savvier than your generation gives us credit. What do you say? I assume if you’re falling asleep at her house, you’ve met her parents? Isn’t it only fair that we have the opportunity to meet the girl who is taking up all of our son’s time?”
“It’s just going to be the four of us?” Lina asked. She was in the passenger seat of Phil’s car for the short drive from her neighborhood to his, a bouquet of freshly-cut flowers, her mom insisted she take, resting in her lap.
“You don’t have to be nervous. They’ll be nice to you.”
“I’m not nervous,” Lina lied. She was completely nervous. Knowing the whole purpose of the meal was so they could meet her, made her stomach twist with anxiety. It wasn’t like she had a problem with parents. She liked most of her friends’ parents, but a planned dinner seemed formal and as much as she tried to convince herself otherwise, she wanted them to like her.
A few minutes later Phil turned into a driveway.
Lina’s eyes traveled over a large brick colonial surrounded by a perfectly manicured lawn. There was a basketball hoop set up at the side of the driveway across from a three-car garage. “It’s so big. Have you always lived here?”
“Since I was born.” He shut off the ignition and stretched his arm out along the seat behind her. “Why are you nervous?”
“I just want them to like me,” she admitted.
“What I think and what you think—that’s all that matters.”
Her tummy fluttered in response to both his word and the seriousness in his eyes. “I know, but they’re your parents. I want them to like me.”
He pressed his forehead against hers. “They will. Just don’t worry about it.”
Lina felt a few degrees better when Mrs. Hunter greeted her with a warm hug. “I’m so happy you could make it.”
“My mom sent these.” Lina held out the flowers.
“Oh, they’re beautiful,” Mrs. Hunter said. “Did she pick them herself?”
“From her garden.”
“They’re lovely. Make sure you thank her. I have just the vase for them.”
Lina felt Phil’s warm fingers entwine with hers as they followed his mother to the kitchen. It was twice the size of hers with large windows overlooking a backyard pool. “I didn’t know you had a pool.”
“We plan to open it next week. You can use it whenever you’d like,” Mrs. Hunter said. She was at the sink, preparing the flowers for a vase.
“Where’s Dad?” Phil asked.
“Upstairs cleaning up for dinner. He should be down shortly.”
“I’m going to take Lina down to the basement.”
Mrs. Hunter turned from the sink, the filled vase in her hand. “You just arrived. I wanted to chat a bit with Lina.”
“You can talk to her at dinner.” Phil tugged Lina toward a door just outside the kitchen. “I’m going to teach her how to play pool.”
“Dinner’s almost ready.”
“We’re not leaving. We’ll just be downstairs.”
“Do you need help,” Lina thought to ask.
“No, thank you, dear. Everything’s been done.”
“Why would you just assume I couldn’t play?” Lina asked, taking the pool stick from Phil.
“Yes.” She leaned over her stick and trained her eyes over the cue ball, hitting it squarely and scattering the racked ball around the table. Two balls fell into the pocket.
“Not bad. You just need to learn how to shoot.”
“What are you talking about. I just got two in.” She pulled her stick back when he reached for it. “It’s still my turn.”
“I just want to show you how to hold it properly. Come on.”
“What’s wrong with the way I hold it?”
He came behind her, reaching around her to place both his hands over hers on the stick, the front of his body pressed into the back of hers. “It’s all in the hand placement.”
She could feel the heat from his chest as it pressed in to her back. “My placement is fine. You just want to touch me.”
He rested his chin on her shoulder. “I’m trying to teach you. The touching part is just a perk for you.”
“A perk for me?” Lina sputtered, releasing the stick as she turned around to face him. “You’re so full of yourself.”
He backed her into the pool table. “You don’t like when I touch you?” He tossed the pool stick on to the table, the game seemingly forgotten as he looked into her eyes.
“You’re the one who likes to touch me,” she countered.
“I do,” he agreed. “But that doesn’t mean you don’t like it.” He began to stroke his hand over her hip.
Her heart began to beat harder. “Your parents could come down.”
“We’re not doing anything.”
“They saw us kissing the first time I met them. They’re not going to see it again.”
“Are you thinking about kissing me?”
“No.” Her eyes immediately dropped to his lips. They were full, the bottom slightly bigger than the top. She wanted to feel them against her own. “Stop.”
“I’m not doing anything.”
She fisted his shirt. “You’re trying to make me want to kiss you.”
“I’m just standing here.”
“If we kiss my lips and chin will get all red and they’ll know. Adele told me yesterday.” Adele also told her that Phil was only into her because he wanted to have sex with her and as soon as he did, he’d lose interest because that’s what athletes did. Lina knew she was wrong.
“I don’t care who knows.”
Lina stood up on her tiptoes, winding her arms around his neck. “I want to make a good second impression.” She brushed her lips over his. “We can kiss later.”