Peter Dempsey stood, hands in his pockets, and watched the last minutes of his seventeenth year tick away. “Doot-da-doot-doot-doot-doo.” He repeated the nonsense syllables over and over, unable to figure out whether they belonged to a song he’d heard, one he’d written, or one that wanted to be written. He shrugged and filed them in a corner of his brain, only to find himself repeating them a moment later. He tore his eyes away from the red sweep second hand to survey his attic hideaway. Clothes? Stowed. Desk? Cleared and home to a milk glass vase of autumn chrysanthemums and a foil-covered platter of crackers, cheese, and salami. Next to the bed sat a cooler filled with ice, Coke, and a six-pack of Bud his brother Bobby had donated to the festivities.
Twenty-eight minutes—shoot! His well-laid plan had a Rottweiler-sized hole in it. Bruno would wake the neighborhood the second Delaney rounded the corner of the house. He couldn’t risk his parents waking up. Not tonight, of all nights. He ran toward the dormer window, ducking low to avoid the unfinished rafters that posed a continual threat to his rangy frame.
Peter would have denied any form of superstition, but as he always did, he slapped the photo of “The Celestial Siren” as he passed. His dad, a Navy petty officer disabled at Pearl Harbor, had an extensive collection of nose art—those scantily clad women who decorated B-17 bombers. Several of these had climbed the attic stairs to Peter’s walls. He liked to think anyone entering his space believed he had a keen appreciation of history, maybe art, rather than ravenous teen hormones.
Alert for sounds inside the house, he eased the window open. His brother Fred nailed the 2x4s to the maple below sometime in the forties. The last Dempsey brother to use this hidden egress, Peter hit the first step as Delaney’s car pulled into the driveway. He swung down with an easy grace and ran to the dog run. Bruno trotted over so Peter could grab his collar. A “Celestial Siren” moved toward them. Peter shushed the growling dog as the most gorgeous woman God ever made smiled in the moonlight.
“What are you doing down here?”
Peter pointed. “Dog.” He took Delaney in his arms and kissed her. “Come on.”
He put her foot on the lowest rung. “You can’t climb in these shoes.” He dropped to one knee to remove her high-heeled sandals.
“Oooh, Prince Charming.”
Peter slid the shoes into his back pockets. “That’s me. I’m right behind you. If you fall, fall on me.”
She rewarded his chivalry with a remarkable view of long, long legs, perfect derriere, and moon-gilded curls. She stepped through the window and stretched her hand to him. “Shhh.”
Peter clambered in after her. He’d jacked off four or five times that day imagining the impending events and still felt about to explode.
Delaney clutched her purse to her bosom. “What time is it?”
He pulled her to the bed. “It’s three-seventeen.”
Delaney hung her purse on the hook Peter had installed for that purpose months ago, and wrapped her arms around his neck. “It can’t be three-seventeen. I left my house at ten after. Is your clock running?”
Peter set her sandals gently on the floor and sat carefully on the edge of the bed. “Second hand. Going around.”
“Maybe it’s not right.”
Peter selected his watch from the clutter on the bedside stand, frowned at it, threw it back, and shrugged. “Twenty-two more minutes, babe.”
Delaney’s pout reminded Peter of the naughty thoughts that had haunted his day.
She shivered and rubbed her arms. “Take your shirt off.”
Whatever Delaney asked, Peter gave.
Delaney knelt between his thighs. “Oh, God, I want you.”
“Have me.” Peter slipped a finger inside the hem of her lavender shorts.
“Laney, you’re the one who’s done this before.”
“Can I tell you a secret?” She pulled his lips down to hers.
“I don’t even know if it really happened. It was thirty seconds and gloopy stuff all over my thighs.”
“We’ll figure it out.”
“Oh, the hell with it.” Delaney started to wrestle with the tiny mother of pearl buttons on the front of her heliotrope blouse. “Why did I wear all these buttons?”
Always helpful, Peter sat up. “Make way for piano player fingers.”
“I can’t take it a second longer.” Delaney avoided Peter’s hands and ripped her top open. “Do me, Dempsey.” She stripped off her shorts.
Peter scrambled out of his jeans.
She fell to his bed and Peter winced at the familiar squeak of the springs on the iron bed. He couldn’t care about that at this particular moment.
He remembered what Bobby had told him that afternoon on the porch swing. “Look, there’s no big mystery. If you’re going in, you’re doing it right.” Stunned by the sight in front of him, he watched delicious Delaney scoot to the middle of the bed, her cornflower blue eyes on him as she flipped her golden curls out of the way. She held her arms out to him.
He sat next to her and stroked her thigh. She shook her head. “Hunh-uh. I’m as turned on as you are. Just do it.”
She bent her knees and spread them so he could crawl into position. He did it right; he went in. She dug her nails into his ass. “Oh, my God. I can’t believe…”
Peter loved Delaney. He managed to drag his consciousness from the astounding sensation of her warm embrace. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong. Things are very good. You are mine. I own you forever. Don’t even think about leaving me. And keep doing that until further notice.”
“You like it?”
“I love it.”
“God, yes. Shhh. My parents.” He nibbled Delaney’s lips.
Delaney opened her mouth for his tongue. She kissed him as avidly as he kissed her. She raised her pelvis to meet his over and over, and began to gasp for breath. “Something’s happening.”
“I think I’m…Keep doing that.”
She covered her mouth so only whimpers spilled out. She ground against him. She spasmed around him and he lost control. His muscles throbbed in his belly and thighs until they dissolved and he collapsed against her. He inhaled her scent with ragged breaths. Jasmine? Honeysuckle? One of those aromas that whispered of exotic nights. He laughed at himself. Idiot boy poet even at a moment like this. He lifted his head to look at Delaney. “Did you…?”
She licked her lips, pushed her honey-colored curls back from her brow, met Peter’s eyes. “If I didn’t, I will die if I do. How come it’s nothing like that when I do it myself?”
Peter could only shake his head helplessly.
“My nipples are so…”
Peter bent down and sucked on first one then the other. “Yeah, they are. Tell me if I get heavy.”
He let himself melt into her. It would take a crane to move him.
She stirred. “Peter, did you come in me?”
“You weren’t supposed to. You were supposed to pull out.”
“I tried. My whole body screamed to keep going in.”
She took his face in her hands. “You know that’s how you make babies, right?”
“I couldn’t do it. I’m not even pulling out now. I’m going to stay right here until I get hard again and then I’m going to do you some more.”
The two teenagers lost themselves in each other. Peter came twice more then watched the sky lighten as he stood outside the third-floor bathroom while Delaney took care of business. She had ripped the hell out of her little silk blouse. He gave up his precious Beatles T-shirt to cover her nakedness while she walked through the boys’ floor of the Dempsey home. When she opened the door, he squatted for her to climb on his back, and ran up the stairs two at a time.
Safely inside the door, Delaney hopped down. “We made a terrible mess of my private place.”
“Did we? Worth it all. Intend to do it again.”
“I hope you feel that way if there’s a little Dempsey nine months from now.”
“Come on. What are the chances?”
“One in twenty-eight.”
“Hmmm.” Peter sat on his bed, pressed his fingertips together and contemplated that fairly alarming statistic. “One in twenty-eight.”
“It’s actually more like three or four in twenty-eight.” Delaney put her hands on Peter’s shoulders, pushed them back. “You know it makes me crazy when you slump like that. Stand up.”
She took his hand to drag him to the full-length mirror on the back of his bedroom door and spin him sideways. “Look at that.”
Peter turned his head, took in the familiar image. “Yeah, it’s me.”
Delaney walked around behind him. She grabbed his shoulders and put her knee in the small of his back. “There, see the difference?”
A smile spread slowly as Peter stared at his reflection. The change in posture took him from boy to man. He turned to face the mirror full on.
Delaney watched him. “When you stand the way you usually do, it’s like, ‘I’m sorry I’m so tall.’ When you put your shoulders back, it’s ‘Yeah, I’m a big man and I’m big in a lot of ways. What do you want to make of it?’”
“I see that, but I feel like…I don’t know…a jerk.”
“It’s okay, honey. You’re gorgeous; talented; you have every right to be arrogant. I hate it, though, when you slouch over that keyboard. I want to run up and nail a board across your shoulders.”
Peter started to laugh. “Laney, were you waiting to find out if you liked me in bed before you began remaking me?”
“Like I’ve never told you to straighten up before. And, yes, I have plans for you.”
“I have plans for you, too.” Peter pulled Delaney back to the bed. He peered from under the hair his dad had been threatening to buzz for at least a month. “I will burn in Hell, but I give in. Let’s get some birth control pills. Because I want to keep doing this, but I don’t want to tell your father I knocked you up.”
Delaney turned toward him, pulled her right leg up beneath her. She laughed softly. “Have you ever thought of country instead of rock and roll? That’d make a great country song.”
Peter started to sing, his voice a creditable imitation of Johnny Cash. “I don’t want to tell your daddy I knocked you up.” He fell back to rest on his elbows. “I love you, Delaney.”
“I love you, Peter. You have to come with me.”
“I did come with you.”
“Mind out of gutter. To Planned Parenthood.”
She wiggled her pelvis and caressed her breasts. “First, I think I want to do something that’s really, really bad.”
Peter tilted his head to look her in the eyes. “Bad?”
Delaney stuck out her lower lip. “I’ll stop if you don’t like it.”
“Tell me more.”
She buried her face in her hands. “This is so embarrassing. When I was fourteen, I spent a weekend with my friend Shelly. Her brother had just been to Europe and he brought back all these magazines. There were lots of pictures of these girls who really seemed to be having a lot of fun…”
She pressed against him and whispered in his ear. “I want to suck you.”
Youngest of six brothers, Peter had seen those pictures, too. He could hardly believe he’d heard those words. Nice girls didn’t do that and girls came no nicer than Delaney Craig. “Oh, God, yes.”
“Once again, I have no idea what I’m doing.”
Peter didn’t care. He unbuttoned his jeans as Delaney shifted to kneel next to him.
“See, here’s what I don’t understand, I have teeth.” Delaney took him in her hand.
“I think you don’t use them.”
Delaney bent her head and took Peter’s rapidly growing length in her mouth. She sucked. “Mmmm.”
“Oh, my God. That feels amazing.”
Delaney sat back. “You know what?”
Peter choked out an inarticulate noise.
“You taste like me.”
Delaney smiled. “From being in me.”
Peter looked puzzled.
Delaney laughed softly. “I lick my fingers.”
“You are a naughty girl.” Peter thrust his pelvis forward. “Are you stopping?”
Delaney glanced at him mischievously and leaned forward. Her warm wonderful mouth engulfed him. She sucked him deep then sat back. When she leaned forward again, she ran the point of her tongue up his underside. When she hit that spot where the tip joined the root, Peter groaned with pleasure. She nipped several times then sucked him deeply again.
“No.” Peter grabbed her head, pulled her up, just as what cum he had left after his previous adventures bubbled out. Together, they watched the final spurts. To Peter’s amazement, Delaney leaned forward and licked him clean.
Peter collapsed. “Happy birthday to Peter.”
She turned to face him. “We both taste very good. Kiss me.”
“Brush your teeth and I’ll kiss you all you want, but I don’t want to know what I taste like.”
“I didn’t bring my toothbrush. Hand me a Coke, please.”
With his last bit of strength, Peter reached into the cooler. “Baby, you’re drinking whatever I pull out of here.” He handed her a Coke.
Delaney removed an opener from the nightstand and popped the cap, took a swig and swished it around her mouth. “Happy?”
Peter lifted a finger. “Me some.”
“Do you want me to put it to your lips and lift your head?”
“Well, that’s not happening. Are you coming with me?”
“Again?” Peter rose on one elbow and swiped the Coke from Delaney’s hand. “I need a nap first.”
She tried again. “Are you coming to Planned Parenthood?”
“I need a nap.”
Delaney checked the clock. “It’s after eight. Your parents are going to be eating breakfast.”
In the image Peter had built of this moment, he walked downstairs clutching his beautiful girlfriend by the hand. His dad maybe gave him a nod of respect; his mother wiped away a tear as she realized her baby had become a man. “Calm down. I’m eighteen. What can they do? We’ll tell them the truth. You came early to give me a birthday present. And then stayed and came a few more times. Or we could just…I could lie here and look at you for the rest of my life.” Peter tipped the Coke to his mouth and finished it. “Sleep with me?”
Delaney made Peter set the alarm for ten. When he slept through it, she allowed him fifteen more minutes then kicked him in the ass. He rolled onto his back and squinted up at her, his left hand scratching the ear he’d been sleeping on.
“Come on. You can suffer through sitting in the waiting room if I have to have a pelvic exam.”
He tried to snuggle back into his pillow. “What’s a pelvic exam?”
“You would never have sex with me again if I told you. Up, boy, up. I have to go home and take a bath.”
“Take one here.”
“Yeah, I’m eighteen.”
“I don’t care if you’re fifty. I’m afraid of your mother. I’m not getting naked in her bathtub while she bustles around being Betty Crocker.”
She knelt on the bed and attempted to force Peter to sit up. “Come on. I have a two o’clock class. If we don’t get all this stuff taken care of…”
Peter resisted another moment or two then rolled out of bed and went to his dresser. “I need a t-shirt that says, ‘I got laid last night.’”
“Don’t make me regret it.”
In the end, Delaney could not bring herself to walk past Helen Dempsey. The young couple escaped the way they came in.
Within the hour, Delaney stood in her pink bedroom with its French Provincial furniture and adjusted the belt on her Mary Quant dress. She carefully added a dark green bowler.
Peter watched from his perch on her dresser. “You wearing a hat?”
“You have some objection to my looking like a decent respectable woman while I get my slut pills?”
Peter spread his hands. “I could have worn my suit. We could have been Ozzie and Harriet commit mortal sin.”
“God cannot possibly have meant sex with you to be any kind of sin.” She met his eyes in the mirror. Extraordinary looking Peter Dempsey, part Cherokee, had high cheekbones, a perfect nose, chiseled jawline, and those beautiful long-lashed eyes. Athletic and well-muscled he moved like a thoroughbred. If she kept thinking like this, she would need another bath before she could go anywhere near stirrups and speculum.
Peter hopped down from the dresser. “Aw, baby, you love me.”
Delaney reminded herself of her love for Demp as she lay in her raggedy cotton gown on the padded examination table. She wanted nothing more than to jump and run. Unable to bring herself to ask her own—and her mother’s—Roxbury Drive gynecologist about birth control, she’d condemned herself to spreading her legs for someone who looked disturbingly like one of Snow White’s dwarves.
Silent during his examination, the doctor pulled off his gloves. “You have what I call a ruffled vagina.”
She waited for him to add something. “What does that mean?”
He squinted at her as though she’d been impertinent. “I married my wife because she had a vagina like yours.”
“Doc” handed her a white paper bag stuffed with a starter month of pills, condoms, and brochures on everything from abstinence to the Rhythm Method.
Delaney put herself together and walked out to find her darling sprawled the length of six or seven chairs in the waiting room. Sound asleep, he appeared to have survived the trauma just fine.
He held Delaney’s hand as she waited for change at the front desk. “What did he say?”
“He liked my vagina.”
Peter’s brow furrowed. “What did you do back there?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows. There are drapes and cold metal things and clamps and giant Q-tips. Some kind of Erector set.” She took her change and walked toward the exit.
Peter remained leaning against the counter looking perturbed. “But…”
She turned around and took his hand. “I knew you wouldn’t want to know.”
He helped her down the rickety steps of the blue cottage. “All women go through this?”
“God, I hope so. I’d hate to think it was only for my benefit.” Delaney nearly yanked him off his feet as she hopped past the last step to the gravel. “I’m so happy. Could I get you to move in with me?”
“Do you have any idea how scary your father is? You think you’re afraid of my mother…Did you take your pill?”
“I can’t start them until my period.” Delaney dug into her white paper bag. “We have to use condoms or not do it or have lots of oral sex.” She opened a brochure to discover news that floored her. “Peter, oral sex is illegal. What we did is illegal. Wonder who goes to jail for that?”
Peter blew out a breath. “It better not be me. My dad keeps telling me to mind my P’s and Q’s because I’m too pretty to go to jail. From what I’ve heard, you’re just asking for trouble if you go to jail because of oral sex.”
Delaney confronted Peter, her hands on her hips. “I’m not too pretty to go to jail?”
Peter took her face in his hands. “Oh, baby, you’re so pretty you can commit all the crimes you want; no one will ever put you away.” He took a brochure out of her hand. “What’s this?”
“A thing on the Rhythm Method.’’
“My parents used the Rhythm Method and I’m the youngest of eight. Those are all terrible options. I don’t want to do any of them.”
“What do you mean?”
“Bobby tells me condoms spoil the fun. Now that I’ve done it, I really don’t want to not do it, and I don’t…oral sex scares me.”
Fury boiled over in Delaney. She didn’t understand it or have a chance to analyze it, but she pulled her hand out of his and stopped in her tracks. “I knew sex would change our relationship. I didn’t think it would end it. Get a good look at what you’re never going to touch again.” She swayed her hips as she crunched across the parking lot to her yellow Mercedes two-seater. She tried to fit her key into the door. For some reason, it wouldn’t go. Damn it. The trunk key. Peter caught up to her. She shook his hand off her shoulder.
“What’s the matter, Laney?”
Delaney managed to open her door and leaned over to unlock the other door. “I’ll give you a ride home. I’m not going to leave you stranded here.”
“Let’s just…there’s nothing more to say.”
Peter gestured helplessly. “I don’t get it. Are you dumping me?”
She started to understand her anger. “After what I did with you, my vagina scares you?”
Delaney slammed the Mercedes into gear. “Close the door. You’re afraid to put your mouth on me?”
“No, you’ve got it wrong—”
He could slump all he wanted. She no longer gave a damn. “Shut the hell up.”
They drove in silence until Delaney turned onto Peter’s street. He had the nerve to put his hand on her thigh. She glanced at it like he’d desecrated a shrine.
He pulled it back. “This can’t be happening. You can’t be breaking up with me over this.”
“Keep talking, Dempsey, you selfish son of a bitch. You’re making it easier and easier.”
“Ten minutes ago, you asked me to move in with you.”
“And then you insulted me.”
Peter tried to take her hand. “I’ll do it. I’ll do whatever you want me to do.”
“Isn’t that sexy?” Delaney shook him off, reached across him, and unlocked the passenger door. “Get out of my car.”
His foot had barely cleared the door’s threshold when she threw the car into reverse and floored it. She had to slam on the brakes at the end of the driveway to avoid being T-boned by a Ford pick-up.
Peter ran to the end of the drive and managed to grab Delaney’s door handle. She swung the door open so he had to jump out of the way and burned rubber as she turned left.
Peter didn’t know how long he stood by the street. He couldn’t conjure up a way to put his world back together. Dragging the pieces behind him, he walked to the converted farmhouse with its black shutters. When built in the 1890s, the large house had been surrounded by a hundred acres of land. MGM opened its studios in nearby Culver City and that land got subdivided. Most of the lots were barely big enough to support a sliver of lawn. Peter’s boasted the only lawn in the neighborhood worth mowing.
He kicked at the front steps. His dad waged an active war with anything that dared to grow beyond what he considered acceptable limits. Peter had only redeemed himself for his own unseemly growth spurt by becoming the star forward on the varsity basketball team. He’d better cut the grass. He walked to the detached garage to power up the new mower.
Within two minutes, Helen Dempsey stood on the front porch, wiping her hands on her gingham apron. “Peter Christopher, why didn’t you go to school?”
He throttled the motor down. “Delaney and I had something to do.”
“Yeah, I’ll bet you did. Do you two lovebirds think she drives the magic invisible Mercedes? That it can’t be seen when it sits in the driveway all night? I’ve had eight children, young man. I know what you’re doing up there.” She shook her forefinger at him. “Do you know where babies come from, Peter?”
Okay. This birthday officially sucked. “Yeah.”
“You get her pregnant, I don’t care what her father does. I’m marching you both to the priest with your father’s shotgun in my hand.”
Peter took a deep breath. “Good luck with that. She broke up with me, Ma.”
“You watch that smart mouth. So the inevitable finally happened. You ran around like a dog in heat after the daughter of the richest man in town. She finally found someone more her speed.”
“No, it’s not that. I was a dick.”
“What did you just say?”
He jammed his hands in his pockets. “A jerk. I was a jerk.”
“Well, like I say, you don’t need to be running around after the likes of her. Find yourself some nice girl at school. Or church. Church would be better. I’ve seen that pretty Amy Laughlin looking at you.”
“I’m in love with Delaney.”
“You’re a baby, Peter. You wouldn’t know love if you sat in it.”
The screen door banged behind her.
That task under his belt, Peter stopped at the phone in the family room. He got Delaney’s answering machine, but he’d rehearsed his speech for that, too. “You are my life, Delaney. Please forgive me for being an idiot…”
He slipped into the sun room to practice. Ma had brought the piano with her when she married Fred Dempsey. Of all her children, only Peter paid attention when she sat on the bench to teach. He quickly surpassed his mother’s skills, but the organist at their church took an interest in the talented and beguiling boy. She taught him on the church organ and found room in her pension for a weekly investment in sheet music from Harper’s Music Store. In return, Peter mowed her lawn as well.
He thumbed through a book of concertos as his brother’s Chevy pulled into the drive. A busy mechanic, Bobby could never find time to attend to his own bad muffler. Anyone could hear the car a mile away. Fifteen years older than Peter, he saw himself as a mentor to his baby brother and welcomed his questions about birds, bees, and other wildlife.
Bobby climbed out of the baby blue car as Peter approached. No one would have pegged the two as brothers. Peter took after his father. Short and blond, with eyes as blue as his car, Bobby looked like their mother. He slammed his door twice before it caught and fished a Camel out of a pack. As always, he held the pack out to Peter. As always, Peter shook his head. Bobby reached into his pants pocket for his Zippo. He tamped down both ends of the unfiltered cigarette. “You two do the deed?”
“So?” Bobby lit his cigarette and took a drag.
“I want to do more.”
“With her? I’ll bet.”
“She broke up with me.”
Bobby guffawed—showing off the smile the two shared—and picked a shred of tobacco off his tongue. “That is some bad sex.”
“Nah, she seemed to like it. She got mad when I said I wouldn’t go down on her.”
Bobby took another drag. “You said what? Are you nuts? A piece of ass like that asks you to go down on her, you go down on her. In fact, you decide it’s your favorite thing. Nah, don’t listen to me, Petey. You don’t want those legs wrapped around your neck, tell those legs and that ass to give me a call. I’ll do anything she wants. Twice.”
“It’s not that I don’t want it. It’s just that she’s so soft and sweet and pink. I’m afraid I’ll damage her.”
Bobby headed for the house then paused. “In case you ever decide to give it a shot, Petey, those cries you’ll hear are not pain.”
At dinner, Peter’s dad rapidly tired of his youngest sulking and sailed a Parker House roll at him. “Happened to you? Lose your platoon?”
Peter shook his head.
Helen spooned gravy onto her husband’s mashed potatoes. “His girlfriend broke up with him.”
“The one with the little Mercedes? We ever find out why she talked to him in the first place?” More than anyone else, Fred Dempsey, Sr., amused himself and that made his life complete. “Look, Bozo, it’s your birthday. Your mother’s been slaving away in the kitchen all day and you’re going to enjoy yourself. Got it?”
Bobby kicked his brother under the table. “Besides you got to rebuild those bodily fluids.”
Peter allowed himself the briefest smile and dutifully tore into his pot roast.
Ma brought out his favorite golden cake with fudge frosting. Most of his presents were the usual socks, shirts, and underwear, but the Lone Ranger wrapping paper on one revealed a mechanic’s guide to a ’48 Harley Davidson. Puzzled, Peter met his dad’s eyes. Fred held up a key. “I’m never going to ride that thing again. Be careful.”
To make things even better, Ma produced Pa’s black leather jacket—the one like Marlon Brando wore in “The Wild One.” Almost a head taller than his dad, Peter evened things out by being thinner and the jacket fit. Trailed by the rest of the family, he followed his parents out to the driveway where the Harley gleamed in the setting sun.
“I’ve transferred the title. It’s newly licensed. Always wear your helmet.” Fred hugged his son. “And remember, every single one of your brothers wanted me to give him this bike. You’re my favorite. Don’t kill yourself.”
Peter hugged everyone he could reach and mounted the Panhead. He hesitated at the end of the driveway. Left took him to Delaney; right took him to band practice. In the end, he turned right.
In seventh grade, six twelve- and thirteen-year-olds started hanging out in Casey Stokowski’s garage and preparing to be the next Bill Haley and His Comets. No one could ever remember who came up with the name, Animal Sounds, though the smart money pointed to Casey’s harassed mom.
They each worked after school and pooled their money to buy instruments. Peter’s oldest brothers, Fred and Greg, took the little group—dubbed the “rebels without a clue”—under their wings and smuggled the awed boys into pawn shops in sketchy parts of town in search of guitars and drums. Greg spotted an “if you can move it, it’s yours” ad for a piano in the classifieds. All six Dempsey boys hauled it to the garage.
The band stunk for a very long time. Then neighborhood kids began to hang around at rehearsals. The word spread.
Also the youngest of this group, Peter had been the smallest until his body did one of those adolescent boy things, and grew fourteen inches in six months. Lead singer, Shane Leonard, suddenly the shortest in the group, took this growth spurt as a personal affront. The singer’s resentment amused Peter. He hadn’t decided to grow simply to piss Shane off. Though he would have if he could have.
To be fair, and Peter could always see the other guy’s side, the band had to work their rehearsals around his basketball practices and that irked their front man.
At one of these rehearsals, Peter first looked up from his keyboard and caught a glimpse of the celestial Delaney Craig. She knocked the music right out of him for a measure or two. Before the band took a break, she disappeared. No one knew her, if she’d arrived alone, or from where. Andy, the car fanatic, knew she’d driven up in a yellow 1963 Mercedes 190sl.
His second sighting took place months later at the Venice High talent show. In addition to a couple of tunes with Animal Sounds, Peter played a jazz version of “Für Elise.” He almost collided with Delaney when she exited the auditorium with her dad. She nodded at his hasty apology then smiled over her shoulder at him as she walked away.
This time, Fitz knew about her father. A teenage wannabe rocker’s wet dream, Mark Craig owned prestigious Delaney Records, named after his only daughter.
She showed up at their next rehearsal. She sat back against the hood of her car and watched Peter until he took a break when she—there was no other way to say it—drew him to her. When he got there, she took him by the hand and led him around the side of the garage. Without a word, she put her arms around his neck and pulled his mouth down to hers. She kissed him for a very long time, long after his boner strained at his jeans. She took a step back. “I wondered what that would be like.”
Peter thought he would get laid that night. Then, in the middle of making out in the Hollywood Hills, he stupidly said something that made Delaney sit back and say, “What do you mean? How old are you?”
He stupidly told her the truth.