“I don’t want you to hate him,” Vicki said to her father.
“It takes two to tango, baby girl. I could beat down these walls and it wouldn’t do a damn bit of good.”
“I didn’t mean for it to happen.” Vicki was staring out the window as a small Toyota truck pulled up. “He’s here.”
“You can go talk to him outside. I’m not ready to set eyes on him yet.”
She walked down the flight of stairs, out the front door, and over to Marshall’s truck. He was parked on the street. Vicki’s three older brothers were all home, their vehicles filled the driveway. He climbed out and they shared a tight hug.
“Is your dad coming out to break my kneecaps?”
“No.” She choked on her words. “He’s too pissed to even talk. I think I’d rather have him yell at me.” She looked up, wiping tears from her eyes. “What are we gonna do, Marsh?”
“I told you yesterday. You’re going to marry me.”
“I’m barely eighteen. How stupid is that? I want to get married when someone loves me so bad they want to die for me, not because they got me pregnant.”
“You know I love you. I would kill or die for you, babe. We’ve been together for six months. It’s not like I took advantage of you prom night.”
“I know, but still.”
“Don’t you love me?”
“Of course I do, but—”
“But nothing. Come on. We can do your dream princess wedding, or you could wear an Alice in Wonderland wedding dress. Whatever you want.”
“That’s being silly,” she said with a pout.
“You know I’m your knight in shining armor.” He pulled her closer. “I don’t care how we do it, but I really want to get married. This just pushes things up a little bit.”
She lowered her head to her chest. “I’m only a senior. This pushes it up a lot.”
He placed his fingers under her chin and titled her head up. “Are you going to make me beg?”
Vicki managed a smile. “If that’s what you really want then I do, too. I just don’t want you to feel like I trapped you years down the line.”
“Never.” A victory smile spread over his face, but hers was far from beaming. “What’s the matter, babe?”
“I guess I’ve just always dreamed of all of this different. You know…a ring, a proposal on a bended knee.”
“Oh.” He grinned.
“Silly, I know.”
“Not at all.” Bending down on one knee, he reached into his back pocket. He opened a small box and held up a not-so-modest three quarter-carat princess cut diamond solitaire on a plain gold band. “I love you, Victoria Rose. Marry me. Please?”
With that, the tears she had tried all night to fight came streaming down her cheeks, and a not so soft whimpering that rarely accompanied her tears escaped her lips. She threw her arms around him and uttered a sloppy, wet, “Yes” into his neck.
“He thinks you’re cute you know.”
“He thinks I’m cute? Are we in the third grade?”
Jennifer laughed. “Okay. You got me there. But come on. He asked about you. What would it hurt to double date with us just once and see if you like him?”
“What the hell do you have against me taking a break from dating?” Vicki said, not meaning for it to sound as mean as it came out. “I didn’t even get to go to my own Junior Prom, for crying out loud. I’m still a little sick of guys.”
“Darin didn’t do all that much harm to John,” Jen said, laughing again.
“Enough that no one else dared asked me.”
“You barely even noticed the mark on his face the next day unless you knew about it.”
“Everyone had heard Darin decked him for asking me before the first bell rang.” Vicki crossed her arms.
“It was your fault for breaking up with him before prom. You should have waited.”
“Like I wanted to go under those circumstances.”
“You know, it’s not a rule to ‘put out’ on prom night, Vick.”
“Just what do you think we broke up over, anyway? He was a dang horn-dog. I got sick of holding him at bay and telling him ‘no.’ I’ll know when I’m ready, and now just isn’t it, especially with the likes of him.”
“You don’t know what you’re missing.” Jen waggled her eyebrows up and down.
“Whatever. I do believe I’ll get another chance with someone I care for in this lifetime.”
“Oh, that’s really gonna sway me. No. It was a great ‘guy-free’ summer, too. Not having to tell someone ‘no’ was awesome. Let me be, Jen.”
“Come on, it’ll be fun. No strings attached. We’ll pick you up.”
“Fine!” Vicki hollered, finally giving in. “But if I’m going, I’m driving myself. If it goes sour, at least I can split.”
“All right. If that’s what it takes, but you’d better show up. Pizza Hut, six o’clock sharp. I mean it, Vick. Don’t you dare stand me up.”
Vicki got in her car, gave the door a mild slam, and stuck her tongue out at Jennifer playfully. She loved her best friend, but really didn’t want to go on a double date.
They had just started their senior year of high school and it was a nice, easy year for both of them. Most of their tough classes, Trigonometry, Japanese III, Chemistry, were purposely crammed into their junior year for this purpose. Now they were able to sneak away from school a full two classes early every day due to free periods and a work/study program offered by a few stores at the mall. The girls earned a few credits toward business class, helping out in a smaller clothing store that was locally owned.
Their school was in Wailuku on the island of Maui. The girls had been close friends since an incident with a female class bully in the upper campus bathroom in the seventh grade. They had been inseparable ever since.
Those that didn’t know them often mistook them for sisters. Those that did know them always asked where the other one was on the off chance that they weren’t together. They had the same shade of blue eyes and blonde hair. The hair was easy to explain; they shared the same bottle of hair color every few weeks and did each other’s roots.
When they were younger, they biked or roller-skated everywhere together and often met up at the park between their houses for tennis. As they got older, they traded in their bikes for diving around in Vicki’s Toyota Corolla. They’d buy Hana Bay rum and drink it with coke flavored Icees. Boyfriends came and went but the two were inseparable.
Vicki pulled into the parking lot just as Jennifer, her boyfriend, Paul, and his friend were getting out of Paul’s truck. She sighed heavily, trying to find the courage to get through the night. She really didn’t want to start the whole dating thing all over again. Driving herself was a good idea. If things turned sour, she’d make an excuse and “run for the hills.”
Jennifer walked over to Vicki’s car; the guys weren’t far behind. Vicki knew very little about Paul. He’d graduated from a different high school four years ago and they didn’t share any of the same friends. He and Jennifer had been dating for almost two months. She gave the lovebirds their space and hadn’t seen Jen too much over that time. When she did see him for a few minutes at school when he picked up Jen, they mostly only shared small talk about his job or their latest date. Vicki feigned interest and let her lovesick friend carry on. The girls had stopped together once at his jobsite. That was where his friend had caught sight of her, but she hadn’t seen him. She mostly looked the other way as the love-struck pair stood there ignoring the world playing “tonsil hockey.”
“Sorry, Vick. I can’t stand working late and being away from Jennifer. Thanks for stopping by on your way to the movies,” Paul had said to her that night.
“No, problemo, Paul. Pleasure’s all mine,” she replied, faking a smile.
“You are as full of shit as my baby says.” He laughed and gave Jen another kiss goodbye. “See you after the movie and after I get cleaned up, angel face.”
Vicki put her finger in her mouth and faked like she was going to barf for his “angel face” comment, but he laughed it off. Best friends and new boyfriends rarely got along from the get-go. He was nice enough, handsome, and had a good job, but still…
“Hi. Well, I’m here. Do I get my brownie points?” Vicki said as she rolled her eyes when Jen got to her car. “Hang on a sec, I gotta grab my purse.” Leaning back in, she reached onto the passenger side, grabbed her purse and straightened up. She turned around and froze at the most beautiful face she had ever set eyes on.
“Vick, this is Paul’s friend, Marshall.”
“Nice to meet you,” he said as he held his hand out.
“Uh, hi.” She would remember to kick herself later for being so articulate.
Paul smiled and said, “Shall we?” as he gestured toward the door. The two men started to walk in and Jen wrapped her arm around Vicki’s. “Wipe your chin, hon. I should have told you he was quite the looker.”
“Damn, girlfriend. How did I miss that at the jobsite?”
“Feel better now?”
“I’ll let you know after dinner.”
The guys were waiting for the girls to join them before they went to the table. Paul placed his hand on Jen’s lower back and led her into the restaurant. Marshall just pointed in and said politely, “After you.”
Paul quickly slid in next to Jen, looked up at Vicki, and winked. She sat down across from them without much fuss. She guessed sitting next to Marshall was better than sitting across from him. At least she wouldn’t be self-conscious about watching him all night or worrying that he was watching her eat. She loved pizza, but suddenly didn’t have much of an appetite and felt stupid for suddenly feeling nervous.
The waitress came around and greeted everyone and said hello to Paul and Marshall by name. Vicki guessed they stopped here on occasion after work. Paul ordered a pitcher of beer. The waitress said she’d be right back with it, never questioning their ages. The girls were often served alcohol without being carded but on the rare occasion they were, they had fake ID’s. This was 1983. The drinking age in Hawaii was eighteen and in no danger of changing anytime soon. They had only a few weeks to go until they could legally drink, anyway. Their birthdays were just a few days apart and they were planning a beach party to celebrate together.
“So, you come here often?” Marshall said in jest, trying to break the ice. It worked, he had everyone laughing. He glanced at Vicki for approval and smiled. It was then that she noticed his dimples. It was pretty much all over for her from there.
Marshall had them in stitches most of the night. He wasn’t just gorgeous; he also had a wonderful personality. He seemed very comfortable right from the beginning and was the perfect gentleman every minute. Paul didn’t seem to mind sharing the stage for once. He and Vicki usually fought for Jen’s attention, but now the tables seemed to be turned and the attention was on Vicki and Marshall. Vicki had let her guard down immediately and found him very easy to like.
They had great pizza and lingered over a second pitcher. Marshall filled the girls in on the basics about himself. Jen seemed over eager to get information out of him. He had also grown up on Maui, attended high school with Paul at Seabury Hall, and now they worked for the same construction company. Paul was the foreman and Marshall was crew supervisor. They had to be good for those positions at their age. Paul’s dad owned it; that explained a lot as well. Paul teased and called him “Number two” and Marshall referred to him as “Boss.” School wasn’t a very interesting subject so Vicki and Jenn mostly listened to the guys talk about the funny things that happened at work. Jennifer and Paul seemed to be pitching Vicki like used car salesmen until they got the kick in the shin to lay off.
“I’ve only known a few kids that went to Seabury. Isn’t that school kinda snooty?” Vicki asked.
“It wasn’t so bad,” Marshall replied. “I remember a boy from Beverly Hills that was a little full of himself and a chick from Saudi Arabia, but it was just a pretty normal school.”
“Didn’t Carol Burnett’s daughters go there?”
“They were just regular people like everyone else.”
The guys fought over the tab when it showed up; Paul being the winner this time, then they made their way toward the exit.
Vicki stopped at the claw game at the back entrance of the restaurant and admired a stuffed toy that was sitting on the top of the pile. It was Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum from Alice in Wonderland.
“Do you want it?” Marshall asked as he dug in his pocket for change.
“That’s still one of my favorite movies. Nobody can win at these things, though.”
“Wanna bet?” Marshall dropped fifty cents into the slots. He managed to land the claw on it but as it came up, it slipped off and the toy remained in the pile.
“I told you. They’re rigged. You can’t win.”
“I don’t think so,” Marshall said as he dropped in more change.
“Should I run for a roll of quarters, Marsh?” Paul laughed. “He ain’t gonna quit till he gets it if he has to end up buying the whole damn machine.”
The second time the claw came up, the toy came with it.
“You got it!” Vicki squealed.
He took it out and handed it to her with a victory smile. She was falling for that smile bad. His bangs were just a little too long, but she liked that, too.
As they were walking out, Vicki tripped on the cement pad that was in front of the parking stalls as she was busy admiring the toy. Marshall caught her by the arm.
“Are you okay? Too many beers?”
“I’m fine. I’m really not as think as you drunk I am,” she said with playful giggle. “I just wasn’t paying attention to where I was walking.”
He laughed at her word play but then asked, “Mind if I drive you, anyway? We were one for one in there and I outweigh you by probably a hundred pounds.”
She looked over at Jen and asked, “What’s the plan? Calling it a night or has the night just begun?”
Paul answered for her. “How does a few rounds of pool at my place sound?”
Vicki faced Marshall. “You game? Otherwise you can dump me at my house. Your call.”
“I think I’d like to have a chance at whipping your butt at pool.”
“Dream on, Seabury Hall. I have a pool table in my basement.”
He smiled and turned to Paul. “We’re in. We’ll follow you to your place.”
“I appreciate you driving. I guess I got a little carried away with the pitcher,” Vicki said, once they were on their way.
“My pleasure. Now I can spend some time alone with you without you having to kick your cheering squad under the table.”
“You caught that did you?” She laughed. “I love Jen but she can be a little much sometimes. I know it’s out of love for me, so I really can’t get upset.”
“They are a cute couple, aren’t they?”
“I guess so. Sometimes they make me want to vomit, but Paul really is an okay guy. I’d have to say I approve of him for Jen.”
“We’ll that’s good ‘cause I’d have to say I approve of Jen for Paul.”
“Boy, we’re going to have to start an ‘I lost my best friend to a great person’ club.”
Marshall laughed and faced her for a moment. “Okay. I’m in.” He put a hand in front of her once again to shake it. “Friends?”
“Friends.” She smiled as she shook his hand. The comfort level of the ride home just went up ten points. They had a great meal, great laughs, he was driving her slightly intoxicated ass in her car to more fun, and he declared “friends.” That sure beat the hell out of: “How about a kiss, baby?” Or did it? He was sure cute. She had a hard time not staring at his dimples, and his green eyes melted her every time he looked her way
Vicki’s head barely came to the bottom of his shoulders; his damn fabulous shoulders. He had quite the build on him. That must be one of the perks of doing construction. She had never dated anyone so much older than her before. She’d always felt older than her years and much more mature then the boys her age, though. They weren’t even officially on a date and had just said “friends.” She had to stop acting silly and try to shake herself out of her thoughts of his gorgeousness and just enjoy the fun company.
Vicki turned on the radio and Billy Joel’s “Vienna” was playing, “I love this song,” she said as she turned it up. “I’d love to go there someday.”
“Vienna? Have you traveled much?”
“Not at all. I’ve been to a few of the other islands and Disneyland, but that’s the extent of it.”
“I’ve been to Disneyland a time or two. What’s your favorite ride?”
She held up the stuffed toys and smiled as she gave it a little shake.
“I should have guessed. No points for me.” He quickly grabbed the toy and gently bopped her nose with it. After a brief smile, he returned his attention back to the road. “I’ve done my share of traveling. My dad kind of dragged us all over the place. Maybe we’ll have to do a group tour someday and check it out for you.”
She laughed. “You’d suffer through the romantic capital of Austria just for me, huh?”
“I’ve had worse dates.” He glanced her way again and winked. “I like this song, too.” He began to sing along and she joined him. He over exaggerated a few lines, being silly. Either that, or he really couldn’t sing and didn’t care. She liked that either way.
As they pulled up to Paul’s house he said, “Stay put,” and ran around to her door. He opened it and offered her a hand getting out.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone do that for me before.”
“Because you’ve only dated boys before.”
“Are we on a date?”
He smirked. “I lied in the car.”
“Lied? Lied about what?”
He leaned her against the car, slowly moved his head down to meet her lips, and gave her a soft kiss. When they broke apart he said, “I don’t wanna be friends.” He took her by the hand and led her into Paul’s.
She thought she was going to float away, but somehow she managed to follow him in. She was slightly disoriented, but grinning wide.
When they entered the house, Vicki immediately noticed the odd pool table. “What’s this? That’s not a regular pool table.”
“It’s a snooker table,” Paul explained.
“My buddy here can show you how to play. Something just came up.” Paul grinned as he grabbed Jen by the hand and tugged her along. “Help yourselves. The bar fridge is fully stocked.”
“Well that was nice of them to ditch us,” Vicki said.
Marshall just shrugged. “No big deal. At least I have you to keep me company this time.” He took a couple pool sticks off the rack on the wall and explained the basics of the game to her.
“Sounds easy enough. Rack ‘em up.”
They played a couple of games over a few more beers. Vicki beat him, but she wasn’t so sure he hadn’t let her win. They made their way to the couch and talked for a while. She couldn’t believe how they never seemed to run out of conversation. Marshall moved in for another kiss, this one lasting just a little longer, but then Vicki broke away. She looked at the clock and stood saying, “I really ought to get home.”
“Then I really ought to drive you.”
“How will you get home? I don’t think Paul will be out anytime soon.”
“Don’t worry about me. Where do you live?” She gave him the name of her street.
“That’s easy enough. I’m not even a half mile down the road. I’ll walk back. I’d rather do that than have you drive. Is that okay?”
“If you say so.” She offered him her hand and pulled him up from the couch. He hesitated for just a moment as he stood in front of her, but he didn’t try to kiss her again. Vicki wasn’t quite sure how she felt about that, but didn’t want to send the wrong signals by trying to kiss him. She liked him and hoped they could take it slowly. Thinking about his age and how his best friend was sexually active with her best friend, she knew sex would be an issue soon if they continued to date. But who wouldn’t it be an issue with at her age?
Vicki waved from the water as Marshall drove his truck onto the beach and dropped the tailgate. Paul climbed in back and pushed a keg to the end of the bed. She and Jen ran out of the water to greet them. It was three weeks after their initial date. Vicki and Marshall had talked on the phone a few times, gone to a couple movies and out to dinner, but always double dating with Paul and Jen and never spending much time alone. Kisses had become a lot heavier, but Vicki was careful to never be alone with him where he could push for more. She was really starting to like him; she didn’t want to have to shove him away by turning him down if he pushed the issue of sex.
Vicki noticed Marshall giving her body a good one over. They had never been to the beach together before, or him be able to see so much of her body. Vicki was petite and didn’t have to work hard to keep her slim build. He grabbed her waist and pulled her in for a kiss.
“Hey, birthday girl.”
“Hey back. Thanks for getting the keg.”
“My pleasure.” He glanced down again. “Love your suit. A guy could get lost in these,” he said as he held his hands to the side of her breasts.
She blushed and took his hands down and held them in hers.
He moved his gaze to the ocean. “Gorgeous day. You couldn’t have asked for better weather for your party. Shitty place we live in, huh?” He winked. “You wanna go back in? I’m ready for a swim.”
“Sure. I could go back in.”
He took off his shirt; she struggled to keep her chin from hitting the ground. Damn. He looked even better without it. He had a near hairless chest, except from his naval down, which Jen referred to as the “treasure trail.”
You couldn’t really call what they did swimming. Marshall was standing in the water; Vicki had her legs wrapped around his torso and her arms wrapped around his neck. The kisses began to get a little heavy and Vicki said, “We’d better stop.”
“You can say that again,” Marshall quickly agreed. “Looks like people are starting to show up, anyway.” He pointed toward the truck, Vicki noticed a bunch of her friends standing around the keg while Paul was playing bartender.
“What a bad hostess I am. I’d better see to the guests.” She hopped down. Marshall took her by the hand and walked in with her. When they reached the beach he gave her hand a slight tug, stopping her. “What is it?”
“This may sound a little juvenile, but am I your boyfriend?”
“You wanna be my boyfriend?”
“Vick. You’re all I think about day and night. I want to be with you every minute. I’d kill anyone that looked cross at you or tried to hit on you. Yes. I want to be your boyfriend.”
“Well, since you put it that way,” she said as she went in for one last kiss. “Then yes. I couldn’t ask for a better birthday present. Now go stick a bow on yourself and meet me at the keg.” She laughed and ran up the beach toward the truck.
Friends came and went throughout the afternoon and into the evening. Paul and Marshall grilled burgers, teriyaki steak, and hot dogs most of the day and night. A friend brought a huge sheet cake that was personalized with “Happy Birthday Jen and Vicki.” It was enjoyed by all by a huge bonfire. Jen and Paul left shortly after sunset but Marshall and Vicki stayed for a while, lying on a blanket in the truck bed. They stole a few kisses here and there, but mostly just star gazed. Marshall gave Vicki’s hand a squeeze then brought it to his lips and gave the back of it a long, hard kiss.
“I didn’t just want to be your boyfriend to get the go ahead for sex. I won’t push you, Vick. You let me know when you’re ready.”
She rolled on her side and faced him. “Jen said something. Didn’t she?”
“A little. She really loves you. It kinda came out as ‘Hurt her and I’ll knock your lights out. Don’t push it with her, jerk-weed.’”
Vicki laughed at his impersonation of her friend’s voice. He continued.
“I mean it, though. I’m going take what you’re willing to give, but stop me if you’re uncomfortable. I’m never going to ask you to do something you don’t want to do.”
“I appreciate it, Marsh. I really do. I know that Jen and Paul have found their peace with it, but I’m just not ready.”
“And I can wait. I want you—all of you, but not until you’re ready.”
She flopped on her back again after a quick kiss.
“What is it, Marsh?”
“No one has hurt you? Have they?”
“Hurt me? Like broken my heart?”
“No, like forced you to do something you didn’t want to do.”
“Oh god. No. No, Marsh. It’s not like that at all. I guess it’s just a little bit of old fashioned values somehow being instilled in me, or just really wanting to be in love before I go all the way. I guess you said it best our first date. I’ve only dated boys. It has really never even crossed my mind to want to go through with it yet.”
“Good. Then I don’t need to start the list of people I have to kill?”
Again she laughed. “No, but thanks for the offer.” Now it was her turn. “Marsh?”
“Uh oh. I don’t like that tone. I know what’s coming.”
“Have you been with many girls?”
“Come on. Have you?”
“I’d really rather not, Vick.”
He let out a long sigh. “Just four.”
“Hey. I’m a dude. I’ve got a few years on you, too. Don’t forget that. They weren’t even anyone I really even seriously dated. It was just…you know.”
“Just sex?” She was more than a little disgusted with the whole idea.
“Just sex. Sorry if it makes me sound bad, but that’s all it was. I don’t want anyone but you now. Even if it means waiting.”
“Even if it means you’ll blow up waiting for me?”
“Then I’ll die happy.” He squeezed her hand again.
“You say this now.”
“No, I mean this now. Can we change the subject?”
“What else do you want to talk about?”
“Don’t you even want to know what I got you for your birthday?”
“I thought you were my birthday present.”
“Nope.” He pulled out a small box and handed it to her. She flipped it open and squealed. It was a gold chain with an Alice from Alice in Wonderland charm on it. On each side, there was a birthstone. His and hers.
“Aw, Marsh. I love it!” She gave him a kiss and sat up to put it on.
“It’ll be one of those progressive gifts. Maybe someday I’ll add our kids’ birthstones to it for you.”
“Kids? That’s pushing it. I think we’ll have to have sex first.”
“If you insist.” He laughed as he playfully pulled her back onto the blanket.
“Seriously, I’ll wait for you, babe.”
“You don’t like that?”
“No. I love it.”
Vicki’s mom and dad were anxious to meet her boyfriend. They had never seen her act so crazy in love before. She had gone through the usual teen crushes, but had never talked so much before about a boy. Whenever she talked about Marshall, she lit up a room.
Jen had been there for a while, helping get the dinner ready. She called Vicki’s parents Mom and Dad from almost the day she’d met them. Her dad always played along when people would say, “There’s no denying they are both your girls, Jim.”
They had met Paul before. Jen had been over with him, beaming with pride and wanting Vicki’s parent’s approval. Although they voiced to Vicki that they felt he was a little old for Jen, they had also said they liked him a lot. Now that their daughter was also dating someone four years older, they were sure to be a little more concerned.
“I’m sure there are nice boys your own age for you to date, Vicki,” her mother said.
“There’s not, Mom. Why do you think I haven’t dated for a while? I don’t even look twice at anyone in my grade. They are so immature. All they want to do is hang out. At least Marshall has a job and some ambition in life.”
“What happened with Darin? He seemed like such a nice Catholic boy.”
“You don’t want to know.”
“Then I guess I don’t want to hear it. I trust you and your judgment, but older boys expect things.”
“Younger boys expect it, too, Mom. It doesn’t mean I’m going to give it out.”
“I just don’t want that kind of pressure on you.”
“It already is. At least it was. Marshall isn’t like that. We’ve talked about it. He knows I’m not ready. Give me some credit.”
“I give you a lot of credit, Victoria. I just don’t want to see you rush into something like…” she didn’t want to finish the sentence.
“Sex, mom? I’m eighteen now. You can say ‘sex’ in front of me.”
“Well, I’d like to think we could talk about it. I’m your mother. I’m never going to stop worrying about you.”
“You’ll stop worrying when you meet him. He’s great, really.”
“Are you sure you want to be getting so serious with someone in your senior year? He’ll break your heart when you leave for college.”