Kari asks Jeff to take out her little sister to cheer her up.
Chapter 23 Girlfriend For a Day
After that, Allison often joined them when they made love. She continued to leave her clothes on, and she never really got involved. Mostly she just watched.
Occasionally she ran her hands over Jeff's body, or even Kari's. Both drove Jeff into a frenzy. Kari surprisingly didn't mind a bit, even when Allison touched her in places that were hardly innocent.
Jeff was ecstatic to have the two girls that he had been lusting after in bed with him. True, he would have enjoyed it more if Allison took her clothes off as well, but just having her there was like a dream come true.
Kari and Jeff even started dating, if one could call it that. Sometimes they went with Allison and the girls to the mall or other places, during which times Jeff and Kari always found some excuse to run off together. Kari had her cell phone, so Allison simply called them when it was time to head back. It worked out well enough, and both Jeff and Kari agreed that they could consider it an official date.
For her 15th birthday on August 20th, Kari decided to have a private party, with just the Williams and Primdale families. Allison suggested they make it a pool party, and Kari agreed immediately. They all met together at the Primdales' pool for soaking wet fun. Even Allen Williams joined them this time; being a teacher at the high school, he had a summer vacation just like the others. The only one absent was Greg. Kari's birthday was on Tuesday that year, which was just another work day for him.
Jeff didn't get a chance to do what he really wanted to do on her birthday, so they had to wait a few more days until they managed to get a little privacy.
The end of summer vacation crept up on them, and before they knew it school started again. That unfortunately meant less opportunity for Kari and Jeff to be alone together. It was all right; they could still see each other at school and on the weekends.
A week before school started the varsity volleyball team held tryouts to replace the seniors who had graduated. Kari made the cut, as did her friends Jenny and Shelly. Jeff was happy for her; she had been excited about the tryouts for the past two weeks.
Her successes were not limited to only athletics, but included academics as well. The first day of classes, the Math teacher passed out a pre-test to gauge the students' competence. The next day he handed them back, graded. Kari got the highest score in the class, followed closely by Jeff.
Of course, word soon got out that the two of them were going together, and it became the talk of the school. Kari had always been a popular girl, and her new achievements served to enhance that popularity. Jeff, of course, was held up as a god among the geeks and nerds of the school, for managing to get her to go out with him.
His friend Mike asked him about it in the halls one day. "So what's your secret?" he asked. "How the hell did you get a girl like Kari Williams to go out with you?"
Kari, who had been approaching from down the hall and happened to overhear the last bit of the conversation, squeezed past Mike and grabbed Jeff's hand. Mike stared open-mouthed as she flashed him a smile. "You could always try talking to the girl you like," she suggested.
"Uh..." he stammered.
"What are you afraid of?" asked Kari. "That she'll tell you to leave her alone? If she's that shallow, she's not worth having anyway, is she?"
A week later Mike started going out with Holly Stephenson, a gorgeous blonde who had just made the cheerleading squad.
With school taking up most of their time, Jeff and Kari didn't get to see each other as often as they would like, especially since Brit was always home after school and therefore there was no privacy. Fortunately, Allen coached basketball in the evenings so if they could convince Crystal to visit Brit after school, Jeff and Kari managed to have at least a little time alone.
The sex during this time was great. That was mainly due to the fact that they never knew when they would get another chance, so they had to make it memorable each time. It wasn't quite as playful as when Allison was around, but her absence made it more intimate. They would often lie together in each other's arms for hours afterward.
They were at least responsible enough to study together on most of these occasions. Usually they would start out with sex, then they would shower together, then open the books and study. While Jeff would have preferred to do it the other way around so that he had something to look forward to, that wasn't a good idea; if Kari's father came home early, it could end up being an awkward situation. Even though he had given his blessing to their relationship, Jeff didn't relish the thought of Allen walking in on them while they were in bed.
Lissa spent most of her free time these days filling out applications for college. There wasn't any real question about her getting accepted; being the responsible one in the family, she had excellent grades.
Things settled down pretty quickly into a routine with the new school year. September passed quickly, and before they knew it, October had begun. On the 11th, Crystal turned thirteen, and she had a party for all of her friends, including Brit. Jeff came too, but mainly to spend time with Kari. He still didn't like birthday parties for little girls, though admittedly thirteen was a bit too old to be considered little.
On Sunday a week later, Jeff had another chance to spend most of the day with Kari. Allison drove him over to the Williams house. Kari answered the door, looking a little down.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"It's Crystal," Kari shrugged, standing out of the way so that he could come in and then closing the door behind him. "She's up in her room crying."
"Uh oh. What happened?" asked Jeff.
"Her boyfriend broke up with her."
That surprised him; he hadn't realized Crystal even had a boyfriend. If he remembered correctly, Kari had mentioned that Crystal didn't currently have a boyfriend the first day they met, so she must have started going out after that. Besides, the way she had been flirting with Jeff all summer, he had almost gotten the impression that she had a crush on him.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" he asked.
"I don't know... maybe. I was just talking with her a few minutes ago, and I think her confidence is shattered. She thinks there's something wrong with her."
"There's nothing wrong with her!" Jeff exclaimed.
"I know, but I think she needs to hear that, especially from a boy. Would you go talk to her?"
"Sure," he said. "Are you coming with me?"
"Yes. Let's go see her."
She led him up the stairs to Crystal's room, then knocked on the door.
"Go away," Crystal said from the other side.
Instead, Kari opened the door and led Jeff inside. Crystal lay on her side on her bed, facing away from them and sobbing.
"Crystal," said Kari. "Jeff's here. He's concerned about you."
"I don't want to talk to him," she insisted.
"But I want to talk to you," said Jeff. "I don't like to see you sad."
"Then go away and you won't have to see me."
"Let me rephrase that. I don't like to know that you're sad. I want to cheer you up."
"What can you do? You're just a boy. Boys are mean."
"Some boys are mean," he conceded. "But surely you don't think I'm mean."
"Yes you are."
"Because you won't go away when I tell you. You've come in here to make fun of me for crying."
"I'm not going to make fun of you, I promise. I'd be a terrible person if I did that. It's okay to cry. Even I cry sometimes. Just tell me what's wrong, and maybe I can do something to help."
Crystal sat up and faced them. Her eyes were red and puffy from her tears, and her hair was disheveled, but she made no move to fix it.
"Okay," she said meekly, staring down at the floor. "But not with Kari here."
"What--" Kari began, then glanced at Jeff, who shrugged. Silently, Kari slipped out of the room and closed the door. Jeff came over and sat by Crystal on the bed.
"So what was it you wanted to tell me that Kari can't hear?"
"I wanted to ask you something, something only a boy can answer."
"What's wrong with me?"
"What do you mean?"
"Why don't boys like me?"
"What are you talking about? Who said they don't like you?"
"Well... Chad, he was my boyfriend, he broke up with me the day after we... I mean..."
Jeff was shocked. Was she really saying what he thought she was saying?
"Tell me, Crystal," he said.
"I don't know if I should."
"Are you worried I might be upset? Or angry?"
"No. That's why I wanted to talk to you alone, because Kari and Dad would both get mad at me if they knew. I'm just embarrassed."
"Crystal, I promise I won't judge you. And I won't tell anyone else, if that's what you're worried about."
"Okay. Yesterday Chad and I slept together."
"Do you mean... you had sex?"
Jeff put his arm around her. "Was it your first time?" he asked. Again, she nodded.
"Then he's not only the biggest creep in the world, he's also the biggest fool in the world."
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Anyone who would give up someone as beautiful and wonderful as you has got to be pretty stupid. Whatever the problem is, it's not with you; it's with him."
"You're just saying that to make me feel better."
"I'm saying it because it's true."
"But I think he started going steady with me just because he wanted to... you know. Like I was some kind of conquest or something. And then once we did it, he didn't want to have anything to do with me any more."
That reminded Jeff of something Lissa had told him, about her own first time. Because she wasn't ready for it, she had had a bad experience, and it had bothered her for years. He realized that something like this could really be damaging for a girl, and Crystal was really vulnerable right now. Jeff decided immediately that he didn't like Chad. How could he hurt a girl like Crystal?
"There are boys out there like that," said Jeff, "but not all of them are. There are plenty of nice ones."
"I haven't met one yet."
"What about me? Don't you think I'm nice?"
"Oh, you're okay, I guess. You're good to Kari."
"Exactly. So let's have no nonsense about thinking there's something wrong with you, because there isn't. You just happened to fall in love with the wrong guy. It happens sometimes."
"So do you like me?" she asked.
"Of course I like you. You remind me of my little sister."
"But you hate Brit!"
"No I don't, I love her. We don't always get along, but that's okay."
"Just like you don't get along with me."
"What are you talking about? You think just because you like to tease that I don't like you? Sometimes your teasing is fun."
"You think so?"
"Absolutely. Crystal, not only are you a beautiful girl, you're also fun to be around. So don't worry about Chad. He made the stupidest mistake of his life by breaking up with you. He'll never find a better girl."
Crystal once more broke down into tears, but she threw her arms around Jeff's neck and sobbed into his shoulder. He wrapped his arms tightly around her and held her to him.
There came a knock at the door. "Is everything all right in there?" Kari asked. "I heard Crystal crying again."
"I think she's going to be fine," Jeff replied. "Crystal, is it okay if your big sister comes back in again?"
"Kari, you can come in," he said, and she opened the door and entered the room. She came over and sat down on Crystal's other side.
"How do you feel?" she asked.
Crystal pulled herself away from Jeff, then wiped away her tears. "Better," she replied. "Thank you, Jeff. Even if you didn't mean all those things you said, I'm glad you said them."
"Of course I meant them," he told her.
"Kari, you're lucky you get to have Jeff as your boyfriend," Crystal said.
"That's the truth," Kari smiled.
"I just wish I could meet someone as nice as Jeff. Just once I wish I had a boyfriend who actually cared about me." Then she laughed. "I suppose there's no chance I could steal him away from you?" she asked.
Jeff grinned. It was good to see her in better spirits. "Unfortunately, if I ever broke up with Kari I would be just as stupid as Chad, so you're out of luck there. On the other hand, if she ever broke up with me, I'd be happy to take you up on that offer."
"Hey!" Kari complained, though jokingly.
"Just kidding," Jeff said.
"Oh, so you weren't serious then," Crystal grinned.
"Yes I was," he hurriedly replied, then glanced at Kari. "I mean, no I wasn't... I mean... Anyway, it sure was a nice warm day today, wasn't it?"
Both Kari and Crystal laughed. "Okay, let's stop tormenting Jeff now," Kari suggested.
"But he's so fun to torment," Crystal grinned.
"So does that mean you're feeling better?" he asked her.
"Much better. Thank you. Both of you. I still wish I had a boyfriend like Jeff, but at least it doesn't bother me so much any more."
"You know," said Kari, "I just had an interesting idea."
"Interesting in a good way, or interesting in an 'I should run away screaming' way?" asked Jeff.
"Interesting in a good way, of course. Crystal, you said you wanted to steal Jeff away from me."
"I was only kidding about that!" she said.
"Okay, but what if it wasn't stealing? What if I let you have him?"
"What if I have no idea what you're talking about?" Crystal replied.
"Kari, just what are you saying?" asked Jeff.
"Not what you're thinking. I have no intention of giving you up permanently. Just for a day. Say, next Saturday?"
"I'm still confused," he said.
"Jeff, I want you to take my little sister out."
"You mean... on a date?" asked Crystal.
"But..." Jeff began.
"But you're my girlfriend, not her."
"Well, for a day, she'll be your girlfriend."
"I don't know..."
"So you don't want to go out with me?" asked Crystal. "What's wrong with me?" At least this time she asked it in a teasing, rather than depressed tone.
"Nothing's wrong with you," Jeff insisted, "except that I'm too old for you."
"No you're not."
"Yes I am. Look, Crystal. Don't take this the wrong way. I really do think you're a beautiful, wonderful girl. But I also told you that you remind me of Brit. And to me, she'll always be a little girl. She's my baby sister, after all. So even though you're a teenager now, I still think of you as a little girl."
"I'm not asking you to marry her, Jeff," said Kari. "Just take her to a movie or something. Come on. Won't you spend one day with her, for her sake?"
"Please, Jeff?" asked Crystal.
Jeff sighed. "Oh, all right," he replied. "I guess if you don't mind, Kari, I can take her out. And who knows? I might even enjoy myself."
"Just don't enjoy yourself too much," Kari smiled.
"Hey, this is your fault," he teased. "And she's going to be my girlfriend for that day after all. I might as well take advantage of the situation."
"Ooh, Jeff's naughty," Crystal joked.
"Not half as naughty as I'm going to be on our date," he grinned.
"I can't wait."
Kari rolled her eyes. "Maybe this wasn't such a good idea," she laughed.
Surprisingly, everyone seemed to be in favor of the date. Brit thought it was a great idea because Crystal had become her best friend and she didn't like to see her depressed. Lissa and Allison both told Jeff how proud they were of him for being willing to do this. Even Allen Williams thanked Jeff for cheering up his daughter, though to him the whole situation was more amusing than serious. He might not have been so amused if he knew the reason why Chad had broken up with her, but from the very beginning Allen had liked Jeff. Since Kari was okay with the situation, Allen told Jeff he was the perfect boy to help Crystal get over her ex-boyfriend.
By the time the day arrived for the date, Jeff felt no more reservations about it. In fact, he was looking forward to spending time with Crystal. He hadn't had much chance to get to know her before; really the only thing he knew about her was that she was as bad as Brit when it came to teasing, perhaps even more so. While getting those two together hadn't quite turned out "apocalyptic," as Kari had put it, they did seem to be a bad influence on each other. They tended to team up on Jeff, so he avoided them as much as possible when they were together.
Since Kari had suggested he take her out, though, he was starting to see Crystal in a whole new light. Yes, she was still a little girl, but she was a beautiful little girl. She looked a lot like her big sister after all. And now that he thought back on it, the teasing was more flirtatious than malicious. Like he had told her, sometimes it was even fun.
He found himself actually looking forward to the date. Granted, if any of his friends saw him they would tease him mercilessly about "robbing the cradle" or something like that, but he actually wanted to get to know Crystal better. Maybe it was because closeness to Kari implied closeness to her family; the better he got along with them, the better his relationship with her would be. He also enjoyed the feeling that came from knowing that he was brightening up someone's day, especially a cute girl like Crystal. There was a third reason as well. Since he had gotten to know Kari, he had started getting over his shyness around girls, and he liked being around them. He actually found himself wanting to have friends of the female variety.
They made arrangements for the date. Since he was too young to drive, on Saturday Allison would drive him over to the Williams house to pick up Crystal. She would drive the two of them to the mall, where she would drop them off for the day. There were plenty of things to do there, certainly enough to fill the day with activities. He would borrow his dad's cell phone, and call her that evening when it was time to come home.
Friday night he called her to confirm the arrangements. Kari answered the phone.
"Hello," he said. "This is Crystal's boyfriend Jeff. Is she there?"
"She's busy right now," Kari replied. "But this is her stunningly gorgeous big sister. Is there something I can help you with?"
"Tempting," he said. "Tell you what. I've got a date with Crystal tomorrow, but I'll take you up on that offer later."
"Is that Jeff?" he heard Crystal's voice say in the background.
"Yes it is," Kari told her. "Your boyfriend wants a word with you."
A few seconds later, Crystal picked up the phone. "Hi, handsome," she said.
"Hi, beautiful. Are you all ready for tomorrow?" he asked.
"Every moment away from you is an excruciating torment."
"I know, but soon we'll be together, my love. So I'll see you at 10:00 in the morning?"
"I'll try to be strong until then. Only the thought that these moments of sadness will soon be over keeps me going."
"Oh god, I think I'm going to be sick," Kari's voice said in the background.
"Tell Kari this was her idea," Jeff said.
"Hey Kari, Jeff says this was your idea," Crystal repeated.
"Well, you don't have to be so enthusiastic."
"I only get Jeff for a day. I have to make the most of it."
"So Jeff," said Crystal. "I'll be dreaming about you tonight."
"In that case, I'll dream about you too."
"Good. See you tomorrow."
Actually, he didn't dream about her, but considering that she was probably joking when she said she would dream about him, he didn't feel too guilty about it.
When he arrived at her house the next morning, she seemed to have mellowed a bit. He had half expected her to fly into his arms at the first sight of him, but instead she simply met him at the door with a smile. She looked as cute as ever, in a pastel blue blouse and a matching long skirt, sandals, and a pink bow in her hair. The bow was perhaps overdoing it; it made her look five years younger. But he liked the way she looked all the same.
Kari appeared behind her. "Hi, Jeff," she said. "Are you two ready for your big day?"
"I think we're going to have lots of fun," he replied.
"Well if you're going to do this, you might as well do it right," she grinned. She stepped forward, grabbed Jeff by one hand and Crystal by the other, and put their hands together. "There, that's much better," she said, stepping back. Apparently she wasn't as disgusted by this as she had pretended to be last night while the two of them were on the phone.
Jeff and Crystal glanced at each other, then they simultaneously broke out into a nervous laugh.
"Okay, I guess if I'm your girlfriend, it makes sense to be holding your hand," Crystal said.
"It works for me," Jeff shrugged.
Allen appeared in the doorway. When he saw Jeff and Crystal holding hands, he grinned. "Looks like you're taking this seriously," he said.
"Kari insisted," Jeff explained.
"Well, I guess this is the part where I'm supposed to say 'take care of my little girl' and then you say 'I will sir' and I say 'I know you will. I trust you.'"
"And then I say 'oh dad, you're embarrassing me,'" Crystal added with a grin.
"Sorry dear," said Allen. "I just want to know that you're in good hands. Well, you two have fun." He shook Jeff's hand, then waved at Allison who was sitting in the car in the driveway.
Jeff led Crystal out to the car, where he opened the back door for her and they both climbed into the back seat.
"You two make a cute couple," Allison commented.
"When a couple has been together as long as we have, they just naturally seem like they go together," Crystal explained. "Isn't that right, honey?"
"Of course it is, dear," Jeff smiled, playing along.
Allison drove them to the mall, then handed Jeff Greg's cell phone. "Call me when you're ready to be picked up," she said. "Or if there are any emergencies."
"Like if Jeff and I smooch for so long that he passes out from lack of air?" Crystal suggested.
"That's exactly what I was thinking of," Allison replied. "So I'll see you later tonight."
"Thanks, Allison," said Jeff, then took Crystal by the hand and headed for the front entrance.
The first thing they did was head to the theater to catch one of the early showings of a movie that Crystal wanted to see. Jeff wasn't too thrilled by it, since it was a chick flick and therefore on his list of movies to avoid. But since he was doing this for Crystal's sake, he was willing to make that sacrifice. In truth, Crystal was the type of girl who was very nice to be with, no matter what he was doing.
As they sat together before the movie started, she sensed his dislike. "You don't like this kind of movie?" she asked.
Jeff shrugged. "I'm not big on romances," he explained.
"Unless you're involved," she grinned.
"Of course," he smiled back. "Especially with a girl as beautiful as you."
Crystal blushed. "Well aren't you the smooth talker!" she remarked.
"You bring out the best in me."
"You know, Craig here doesn't like movies like this either," said the girl sitting next to Crystal. She was a little older than Jeff, probably college-aged. Next to her sat a tall boy with glasses. "I know it's a pain for him to sit through it for two hours, but he's willing to do it to be with me. Make sure you let your guy know how much you appreciate it."
"Thanks, I will," Crystal replied, then turned back to Jeff. "Geoffrey dear, I really appreciate you taking me to see this movie."
"Anything for you, my darling."
Crystal laughed. "We aren't usually this lovey-dovey," she explained to the girl. "We're just being especially affectionate today."
"Hey, there's nothing wrong with being affectionate, is there, Craig dearest?" said the girl.
"Of course not, Paula my love," Craig grinned.
"So what's the big occasion today?" Paula asked them.
"Didn't you know?" asked Jeff. "Today is International Get-All-Mushy-In-Public Day."
"Sounds like my new favorite holiday," said Paula. "Craig might object to that; he doesn't like to show his emotions as much as I do. But he certainly makes up for it in private."
"So how long have you two been going out?" asked Crystal.
"A year and a half," Craig replied. "In fact, today's our eighteen-month anniversary."
"What about you?" asked Paula.
"A little less than that," Crystal said. "Jeff refused to date me until I turned thirteen. He said he's opposed to going out with pre-teen girls."
"So is that how old you are?" asked Paula. "Thirteen?"
"Yes," she replied.
"And what about you, Jeff?"
"He's nineteen," Crystal said before Jeff could respond.
That did it. Paula and Craig both stared at them in shock. Jeff was about to tell them she was lying, but then decided it would be more fun to go along with it.
"I like younger girls," he shrugged. "I don't think I've ever dated a girl over fourteen."
"And... you're okay with this?" Paula asked Crystal.
"Why shouldn't I be?" said Crystal. "Jeff is handsome, smart, funny, and great in the sack."
Jeff nearly lost it. It took all of his self-control to keep from bursting out laughing. Crystal was definitely a bold one!
It was almost too bad that they couldn't continue the conversation, but about that time the lights dimmed and the movie started.
She continued to hold his hand as they watched it, and even lay her head against his shoulder. The feel of her against him, the sight of her beautiful face so near, and even the smell of her perfume made it kind of hard to concentrate on the movie, but on the other hand, that really wasn't a big loss. He found that he much preferred to concentrate on her.
That was surprising, and perhaps even a little alarming. After all, Jeff was going out with her big sister. Although Crystal was pretending to be his girlfriend for a day, he was doing this as a favor to Kari. He was allowed to enjoy himself, but he wasn't supposed to be thinking of Crystal romantically.
Nevertheless, he found himself glancing over at her repeatedly, taking in the beauty of her face. There was something enticing about her.
He was surprised when the movie ended; he hadn't thought it had been that long. But the lights came on and the audience began exiting the theater.
Needless to say, Paula and Craig hurriedly left without saying anything more to Jeff and Crystal. He had meant to explain the truth to them, but they never gave him a chance. Still, the whole thing had been amusing.
After leaving the theater, Jeff and Crystal headed to her favorite sandwich shop to eat lunch. Kari and he had eaten there several times in the past, and he liked the food. He didn't mention that to Crystal, of course. It wasn't that he had anything to hide; he just didn't want to spoil the illusion by bringing up his real girlfriend.
As they were finishing lunch, Crystal got a sudden, mischievous gleam in her eye. Jeff asked her what she was thinking, and she replied that she wanted to go look at rings.
"Rings?" he asked.
"Yes. I know we're too young to get married, but we can at least start getting ideas for the future."
Jeff laughed, glad that she was enjoying this little charade and surprised that he was enjoying himself just as much.
They headed over to the jewelry store, where the sales lady gave them a suspicious look. Crystal played her role perfectly, pretending to be engaged to Jeff and looking through the collection of diamond rings. They spent nearly twenty minutes there, discussing which ones they liked the best. The sales lady, obviously hoping for a nice commission, was very helpful and courteous despite looking mistrustful of the two of them.
In the end, they thanked her and told her they needed to shop around some more, but would definitely keep the store in mind. As they were leaving, they saw Paula and Craig approaching the same store, but before Jeff could say anything, the other couple pretended not to notice them and instead turned around and walked the other way. Crystal actually did break down laughing at that point.
Across the hall, Jeff spied something that he thought would be amusing. He took Crystal over to the toy store, where there were Halloween spider rings in a jar by the register for a penny each. He bought two of them, then put one of them on his finger and the other on hers, explaining that this was just temporary until he could afford a real ring for her. She grinned and threw her arms around him, saying that it didn't matter whether the ring cost one cent or a million dollars; what mattered was that it was a sign of his love.
She was really getting into the spirit of things, and Jeff was more than happy to oblige her. She was so cute when fooling around like this.
They decided to spend the rest of the afternoon at the Mini Golf and Arcade. It was at the other end of the mall, so they began to head in that direction.
"Well if it isn't Jeff and Kari!" Jeff heard behind him. They turned around and found themselves face to face with Kayla Fallon. The smile on Kayla's face turned to a look of surprise when she saw Crystal.
"Oh, I'm sorry," she said. "I thought..."
"People mistake me for my big sister all the time," Crystal explained.
"So... um..." said Kayla. "What are you two doing here? And where's Kari?"
"We were just--" Jeff began, but Crystal interrupted.
"You won't tell her, will you?" she asked Kayla.
Jeff glanced at her, wondering what she meant by that.
"Tell her what?" asked Kayla suspiciously.
"Well... that Jeff and I..." said Crystal.
Suddenly, he realized what she was doing. Crystal always did like a good joke, so he decided to play along.
"Look. Kayla," he said. "I'd really rather prefer it if Kari didn't find out about this, all right?"
If Kayla looked shocked before, she was doubly so now. "Jeff, are you really going out with your girlfriend's sister behind her back?"
Jeff tried to look guilty. "No," he insisted. "Crystal and I are just friends. It's just that Kari can get jealous sometimes."
"Can I talk to you alone for a minute?" Kayla asked him. "Crystal, would you excuse us?"
Kayla led Jeff down the hall out of hearing range. "Jeff, what's going on here?" she asked. "She's your girlfriend's sister. And she's way too young to be going out with you. She's what, twelve? Thirteen?"
"She just turned thirteen two weeks ago," Jeff replied.
"So why are you doing this?"
"Well, you know, Kari's nice and everything, but she hasn't been very open to... certain activities."
"You mean you and Crystal are...?"
"Well..." said Jeff, trying to look even guiltier than before but inside having a great time.
"Jeff, I thought you were a great guy," Kayla told him, "but frankly, I was wrong."
It looked like he had overdone it, so it was time to tell her the truth. "Okay, this has gone on long enough," he replied. "Maybe Crystal should explain the situation to you."
"Yes, maybe she should."
Jeff waved Crystal over. She approached them with a smile on her face. "So did you tell her all the sordid details of our relationship?" she asked him.
"Kayla's about to crucify me, so maybe we'd better drop the charade," said Jeff.
"Oh, but it's so much fun!" Crystal teased.
"It's all fun and games until someone gets lynched," said Jeff. Considering Kayla's dark skin, it normally wasn't the most politically correct thing to say, but Jeff already knew it was a favorite catchphrase of hers. "Crystal, why don't you explain it to her? The truth."
"Okay, the truth," Crystal said, then addressed Kayla. "But I have to warn you, it's not as much fun as what you're thinking."
"Just tell me."
"The truth is, I was feeling a little depressed the other day. You know, boy problems. So Kari suggested that Jeff take me out on a date to cheer me up. That's all there is to it."
"Really?" asked Kayla, still dubious.
"Really," Jeff insisted. "Look, if you're at all worried about it, why don't you call her?"
"I think I will," said Kayla, then opened her purse and retrieved her cell phone. She dialed Kari's number then put it to her ear.
"Hi, Kari," she said. "It's Kayla. I'm here with Jeff and Crystal. Neither of them will give me a straight answer, so would you tell me, do you or do you not know that they're on a date?"
Through the phone Jeff could hear Kari laughing. Kayla couldn't suppress a smile. "Okay, I guess that answers that question. What's that? Yes, that's exactly what they told me. I mean, after they led me along for a bit making me think they were doing this behind your back. As long as you're fine with it. Okay, thanks. Bye." She closed the phone and put it back in her purse.
"It's a good thing we planted one of our confederates in your house to answer the phone," Jeff told Crystal. "I'm just glad we were able to find someone whose voice sounds so much like Kari's."
"Okay, very funny," Kayla chuckled. "You had me going there for a minute. You guys are naughty."
"I wish," said Crystal with a grin. "Unfortunately, that's where Kari draws the line."
Kayla rolled her eyes. "Anyway, it was good to see you two again. I've got to get going though, but I'll see Kari at school on Monday and I'll ask her face to face."
"Do we know anyone who looks like her?" Crystal asked Jeff. "I mean, with a little plastic surgery..."
"By Monday?" asked Jeff. "Not enough time. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted."
Kayla laughed, then headed down the hall.
Jeff and Crystal walked the other direction toward the Mini Golf and Arcade. He had only been there once, about four years ago. Unfortunately he had had a bad experience because Brit and he had gotten into a nasty argument and their parents had taken them out halfway through their game and vowed never to bring them back until they could learn to get along. In the Primdale household, that was generally synonymous with "never."
With Brit absent though, he figured he could survive. Granted, Crystal liked to tease as much as Brit did, but he actually enjoyed Crystal's teasing.
The arcade included the titular miniature golf course, along with some pool, foosball, and air hockey tables, pinball machines, video games, and a concession stand. All in all, it was a great place for a date.
Jeff paid the admission fee for the two of them at the mini golf course, and they collected two balls and two clubs. Jeff offered to let Crystal go first, but she asked him if he would show her how it was done. He placed his ball on the tee, lined up the shot, gave it a tap, and watched it overshoot the hole and bounce off the far wall and around the corner where it would be a difficult shot to save. Crystal giggled, but Jeff just shrugged and smiled.
"Your turn," he said.
Crystal stepped up to the tee and placed her ball. "Jeff, would you come here and show me how to hold the club?" she asked coyly.
He walked up behind her, wrapped his arms around her, and placed his hands on top of hers. She turned out to be very nice to hold like this, not that he had had any doubts.
"So you just draw your arm back a little," he said, demonstrating the move, "then give it a tap. You don't have to hit it very hard; as you can see from my shot, a little goes a long way. Got it?"
"I think so," she smiled. Jeff stepped back to give her room to swing.
When she knocked it right into the hole on the first shot, Jeff had the sudden feeling that she had asked for his help just so she could snuggle with him.
He managed to bank it not too badly on the second shot, which set it up for an easy putt on the third, putting Crystal only two strokes ahead.
"Jeff, would you show me again?" she asked on the second hole, that cute grin on her face that he was learning to love. Perhaps the first shot had been a fluke. So he took his position behind her, demonstrating the swing once again.
This time the hole was at the top of an incline. She took the shot, putting the ball at the top, about six inches from the hole. Jeff, on the other hand, didn't quite get the ball to the top, and it rolled right back down, coming to rest a foot from the tee.
Crystal made it in two on this hole, and Jeff made it in three. They advanced to the next hole.
"Jeff, would you show me again?" asked Crystal, this time trying her hardest not to conceal her smirk. By this point it was obvious that she needed no instruction at all.
"You're ahead of me," Jeff replied. "Maybe you should show me."
"Okay," she grinned, coming up behind him and pressing her chest against his back. Both of them laughed as she took his hands and demonstrated a swing.
This time he bounced it off the windmill blade, while Crystal made it right on through on the first shot.
In the end, Crystal beat him by about twenty points, although half of that came from the dreaded Hole #5, with the hole at the top of a circular incline that Jeff took thirteen shots on while Crystal only took three. In fact, the only hole where Jeff beat her was #7, where he managed to get a hole in one.
"Okay, now my pride has been wounded," he told her at the end. "I want a rematch."
"Oh, don't feel so bad, sweetheart," Crystal told him. "Dad takes Kari and me here all the time so I've had lots of practice."
"Oh, so that's why you needed me to show you how to hold the club," he chuckled.
"Who says I needed it? 'Wanted' would be a more appropriate term. Anyway, I'd be happy for a rematch, but now that you know I'll beat your pants off, are you sure you're up for it?"
"That sounds like a challenge," he grinned.
The two of them headed back to the entrance where Jeff paid for another round for both of them. This time he played more competitively, mostly keeping within one or two strokes of her score. Even at Hole #5 he made it in only four shots, and Crystal made it in three again. It wasn't until the ninth and final hole that he dropped back, losing by four this time.
"Good job," said Crystal. "If you keep this up, you might even beat me some time next year."
"Hey! I made up more than three-quarters of the difference this time."
"Just because you got lucky on Hole #5," she teased.
"I knew we should have gone bowling instead," he mumbled.
"Just so you know, I average 240," she smiled.
Jeff rolled his eyes. "Is everyone in your family better than me at everything?"
"Probably," Crystal told him. "But don't worry, honey. I still love you."
"Thanks," he said. "So do you want to get some refreshments? At least eating isn't competitive."
"Not the way you eat, at least," grinned Crystal.
"Okay, never mind then," he laughed.
"No, I was just kidding. Let's go get something to eat."
They handed in their clubs and balls and headed over to the concession stand, where they ordered a couple of root beer floats. They took them over to one of the booths against the wall to eat them.
"You know something, Jeff?" said Crystal as they ate. "I'm completely over Chad. You're absolutely wonderful."
"Me? I'm just an average guy. Nothing special about me."
"Except how good you are with the ladies," she smiled.
"Okay, I can't argue with you there," he grinned.
They finished their refreshments, then decided to play some air hockey for a while. Jeff did much better at this than he had done at golf; it had some definite similarities to ping-pong after all, and he had had plenty of practice on the ping-pong table at home. He managed to beat Crystal three games out of five.
It was growing late, and Jeff's feet were getting tired, so they agreed it was time to go home. They left the arcade and sat down on a bench in the middle of the mall. Jeff called Allison to come pick them up.
As soon as he ended the call and put the cell phone away, Crystal lay her head down on his shoulder.
"Thank you so much, Jeff," she said. "This is one of the best days of my entire life."
"It was fun, wasn't it?"
"I wish it didn't have to end."
"I know, but it's not like we'll never see each other again. You'll still visit Brit, and I'll still visit Kari."
Crystal laughed. "Isn't it considered rude to talk about other girls with your girlfriend?"
"Sorry," he said. "Okay, so let me rephrase that. You'll still visit Brit, and I'll still visit you. Unfortunately, I'll end up spending more time with your big sister. She can really be annoying, monopolizing my time when I'd really rather spend it with my girlfriend."
"Much better," Crystal grinned. "Anyway, you've been great today. I know you didn't want to do this, but I appreciate that you went out of your way to cheer me up."
"I'll tell you a secret," he said. "I actually enjoyed myself. I'm glad you and Kari talked me into this."
"Well then, I guess there's only one thing left to do."
"What's that?" he asked.
Crystal stood up for just a second, then sat down sideways on his lap. Before he knew what was happening, she put her hands on his shoulders, drew him in, and pressed her lips against his.
His eyes opened wide for a second as he realized what she was doing, but he couldn't think of how he should react, so he did nothing. As she drew out that kiss, his initial shock gave way to pleasure, and he found himself slipping his arms around her back without thinking. He held her to him, and suddenly he realized that he had taken over, and now he was kissing her!
She obviously sensed it too, because she closed her eyes and relaxed in the warmth of his embrace. For one brief moment, he forgot all about Kari, and Crystal really was his girlfriend.
When the kiss ended, she drew back with a contented smile on her face. Jeff realized that he had a similar one on his own.
Then he remembered where they were, and why he was here with her. "Um..." he said.
"Why Jeff, you always know just the perfect thing to say to a girl," she teased.
"Crystal, what just happened?" he asked.
"Well dear, that's what's sometimes referred to as a 'kiss.'"
"But why did you kiss me?"
"Because that's what boyfriends and girlfriends do, of course."
"But we shouldn't..."
"Come on, Jeff. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day. Don't spoil it. I know this was all just pretend, but I wanted to do it once because I may never have another opportunity. Tomorrow you're going to be Kari's boyfriend again, and I'll go back to being a little brat. I knew if I didn't take the chance now, I would regret it."
He smiled. "Okay, I suppose it's all right. You just caught me off guard, that's all."
"It's little surprises like that that keep the romance alive," she laughed, then hopped up off his lap and sat down next to him, taking his hand once again in hers.