“Jeez, people are pigs!” Sam said from behind me.

“You can say that again,” I replied, looking at a dirty diaper that was stuck in a bush. “Christ, I’m glad I’m wearing gloves!”

Gingerly pulling the diaper from between the branches, I dropped it in one of the two large green trash bags I was dragging along with me. The first was for cans and bottles, the second for any other garbage I found.

“What was it?” Sam asked. “Was it grosser than the nasty sandwich I found that almost made me puke?”

“It was a diaper.” Turning to her, I grinned. “With nasty clumps of shit, so I think I’m ahead in the gross competition.”

Sam straightened up from the bush she was behind and shrugged. “Okay, I’ll give you that one, but only because we’re not done yet and I have a feeling I’ll find worse.”

“We’ll see.” I pointed. “Remember, winner pays for the next horror movie we check out.”

“Then save your money. There’s a new crappy-looking zombie thing out next week.” Sam laughed. “And this time I want a large popcorn, no cheaping out, Justin.”

“If that’s the case, I won’t go easy on you. I want a slushy and a box of duds.”

“You’re dating a dud, why would you want a box of them?” Sam grinned, waiting for me to take the bait.

Unable to help it, I said, “At least I’m dating someone. When was your last date?”

“I’d rather be alone than with a bitch,” she replied, removing her Red Sox cap and wiping the sweat from her forehead.

“Jen’s not a bitch. Why do you always call her that?”

“Because she is. Maybe you’d see it of you’d stop thinking about her tits.”

“What can I say?” I laughed. “She has nice tits.”

“I know. In fact, everyone knows. It’s not like she doesn’t flaunt them.”

“If you had them, you’d flaunt them.” I smirked, knowing it was a touchy subject.

“I have tits!” Sam snapped, biting on my joke. “I just don’t strut around showing them off.”

“I know,” I said, pointing to the pink Red Sox T-shirt she was wearing. “Is that your brother’s? It looks too big.”

“I dress comfortable, okay?” She walked around the bush, dragging her trash bag behind her along with the backpack she’d brought. “I don’t need to show what I have.” She gave her head a toss, sending her long brown braid whipping around. “If a guy wants to go out with me, I want it to be because he likes me, not because he likes my ass.”

“You have an ass in those jeans? I could have sworn you left it at home.”

Sam looked at the back of the baggy black jeans she was wearing.

I laughed. “What are you doing, looking for it?”

“Why are you being a dick to me today?” she asked, her dark brown eyes flashing. “I’m spending my Saturday helping you score brownie points for that little snot, and you’re making fun of me!”

“Whoa!” I put my hands up defensively. “Hey, Sam, I’m only busting your chops. Since when did you get so sensitive?”

“I am not defensive.” She stopped in front of me and dropped the bag “But I get a little tired of the jokes sometimes, and not just from you.” She sighed. “At least you don’t call me a dyke.”

“I’d never say that,” I told her, coming around the bush. “Who said that about you?”

“Those idiots, Joe and Dave.” Sam waved her hand. “I should just look at the source and let it go.”

“I work with Dave. Next time I see him, I’ll tell him to cut the shit or I’ll kick his scrawny ass.”

“I don’t need you sticking up for me,” she told me. “Those two idiots are like Beavis and Butthead. They don’t matter.”

“Matters if you’re mad.”

“I’m just in a mood, I guess, but what matters is you’d stick up for me.” She rolled her eyes. “God knows my brother wouldn’t.”

“Hey, that’s what friends are for, right?”

“Right.” Sam looked around the stand of trees in Carson’s Park I had volunteered to clean as part of Jen’s Earth Day weekend. “And I guess they’re for helping to pick up bottles and skeezy trash, too.”

“Yeah.” Removing my sunglasses, I pulled my shirt up and wiped my face. “I appreciate it, Sam. Tell you what, I’ll treat next movie.”

She raised her eyebrows. “Large popcorn?”

“Large popcorn, and I’ll even splurge for two drinks instead of two straws.”

“Ohhh, treat me like that and this girl will get spoiled!” Batting her long lashes at me, she widened her big brown eyes. “Thank you for my own personal soda, Justin! Can I have snowcaps, too?”

“Now you’re pushing it.”

“Please?” She pushed her lips out in a pout.

“That’s not fair,” I told her.

“Please, oh, please?” She then made her lower lip tremble, and I sighed dramatically.

“Yes, you can have snowcaps, but we share those.”

“Deal!” She clapped her gloved hands and jumped up and down like a little kid.

I laughed. “You’re too cute.”


“Yeah, you remind me of my little cousin when you do that.”

“Oh.” She frowned. “I guess there’s worse things.”

“Well”—I put my hand up, knowing I’d made a mistake—”you’re cute in other ways, too. You’re pretty.”

“Think so?” She looked at me dubiously.

“Oh, yeah. You’re real cute. You know, like girl-next-door cute.”

“I’ll take that.” She smiled.

“Yeah, and a lot of guys like that—not hot, but cute.”

“You need to learn when to shut up, Justin.”

“Sorry, I meant—”

“Want to take a break?” interrupting me. “We’re about halfway through. The playground will be a lot quicker, so how about lunch and we finish up in one shot from here?”

I slapped my forehead. “Lunch? Shit, I didn’t think of that! You want to take a run down to the—”

“I figured you would.” Walking past me, Sam sat underneath a large tree and unzipped the backpack, pulling out a yellow can and tossing it to me. “Yoo-hoo?”

“My favorite!” I caught the can and popped the top as I sat facing Sam under the tree.

“I know,” she said, producing a plastic container with two sandwiches in it. “Just like I know Pastrami and cheese is your favorite.”

“Spicy mustard?” My mouth watered as I took the container.

“But of course!”

As Sam pulled out a bottle of Mountain Dew and a banana, I removed my work gloves and chugged half the Yoo-hoo.

“Wow, these go down too easy,” I said.

“Kind of like Jen,” Sam replied, kicking her sneakers off and stretching her long legs out in front of me. “And go ahead and finish it. I brought you two.”

“Jen’s not a slut, Sam. I told you we’ve been dating six months and we haven’t done anything but make out.”

“Didn’t say she went down on you,” Sam said, just loud enough for me to catch it.

“Really, Sam?”

Really, Justin.” She paused, peeled the banana, and shoved it in her mouth, bobbing her head up and down as if she were blowing it. Then she winked. “Just like that to anyone that pays attention to her.”

I didn’t answer right away. The sight of Sam easily slipping most of the banana down her throat had caught me by surprise. Not that it should have. Sam not only dressed like a guy, but also had a dirtier mouth and mind then most of the ones I knew. She ruined the image by biting the tip off.

Collecting myself, I went on the defensive. “Look, Jen’s like me. She was raised to take sex seriously and that’s why we haven’t done anything yet. She thinks you should only have sex once you really care about the other person.”

“She’s a very caring person.”

“Knock it off, Samantha!” She was pissing me off at this point.

Samantha?” She grinned. “You never call me that. Truth hurt?”

“Why do you care? You’ve done nothing but rag on Jen since I started going out with her. You say she’s stuck up and slutty and you barely know her. What’s your problem?”

“That I care about you and think you’re getting used.” Sam took the last bite of the banana and tossed the peel into her backpack. “Look at today. She’s this big green freak and says Earth Day is such a big deal, but you’re here and where is she?”

“She’s in Jamestown cleaning up the cove. She doesn’t have a lot of people helping, so she spread us out.”

“Yeah, she’s spreading all right. My sister says her ex-boyfriend is part of the cleanup. I think he’s …” She snapped her fingers. “At the beach. You can think what you want, but there’s no way in hell she isn’t fucking Rob and who knows who else. She’s using you, Justin, but I guess you’ll have to find that out yourself.”

I stared at her and frowned. I had heard Jen’s ex, Rob, was sniffing around, but whenever I mentioned it she got mad and said I was acting jealous and shouldn’t worry. When I’d pushed, Jen had brought up Sam and how much time I spent with her and how she wasn’t jealous.

Watching Sam unwrap a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and begin eating, I recalled how I had told Jen that Sam and I had been best friends since middle school, and that we’d never been more.

Jen had insisted that was because that’s how I saw it, claiming Sam had a thing for me, that I was too naïve to see it. Just like Sam was telling me I was naïve thinking Jen was waiting for the right time with me.

I was well aware I tended to take people at face value and was a little too trusting; but in these cases I was right. Sam was a good friend and had zero interest in being anything but, just as I had no interest in her as a girl.

I was also sure Jen wasn’t fucking around. Unlike me, Jen had been with someone before, and most likely more than just Ron. Then again, I was the only person my age I knew who hadn’t been with anyone.

But after my mother had discovered my asshole father had been fucking anything in sight for years, she raised me to believe that sex should be special the first time, with someone who meant something.

I not only agreed with her, but swore to her that I would be a better man than my father and would wait until I met someone special. Not that it had been easy. Although I’d never met anyone who I had a serious interest in until Jen, there had been a few girls who’d made it more than clear we could have some fun.

Sometimes I wondered if I wasn’t being an idiot waiting, passing up on some chances for a good time. But my mother was thrilled with my promise to make my first time meaningful and that had pretty much trapped me into keeping my word. There were times I thought I could just fool around and she would never know, but that would make me a lying dog no better than my father.

How many women you screwed didn’t make you a man; keeping your word to someone you loved did. And I swore to keep my vow and not be a dog in heat. I did, however, know enough not to tell anyone. That didn’t mean I had to advertise the fact I was a virgin, though. Any girl who had been interested in just a good time, I made up the excuse I was dating someone. And I was way too smart to tell any of the guys.

Sam knew because Sam pretty much knew everything about me, just as I knew more about her than her own brother and sister. We’d met in fifth grade when we’d been put together as lab partners and had immediately become good friends. We both enjoyed the same books, movies, and video games, and had the same laid-back personalities. Where we were different was when it came to what people thought about us.

Sam pretty much marched to the beat of her own drummer dressing like a tomboy and watching football and bad horror movies while spending more time around me and my friends than the other girls.

I, on the other hand, wore brand name clothes and took a lot of care with my appearance. Enough for Sam, along with my mother, to teasingly refer to me as a ‘pretty boy’ who generally tried to put myself out there as cool.

I looked down at Sam’s legs stretched out in front of me. Her feet were bare, and my eyes lingered on the butterfly tattoo on the top of her left foot. I let my gaze wander up her long legs, which I had to assume were under the baggy jeans. While she looked to her left watching the kids who were running around the small playground, I focused on her chest.

There was nothing visible in the loose shirt. Not for the first time, I wondered what she had under there. I wasn’t interested in the sense that I wanted her, but in the years I’d known her I’d never seen Sam wear anything tight or even slightly revealing.

She never attended any school dances and even when we went swimming a few times she wore shorts and a T-shirt. That was pretty much the only time I’d seen her legs, which although on the slender side, looked pretty good.

I went back to looking at the tattoo. It was colorful and in what I considered a sexy spot, yet she rarely even wore sandals to show it off. Her toenails were painted black, and I noticed a silver ring around her middle toe.

Sam had once commented she had a boyfriend who liked her feet. I idly wondered if that was why she had gotten the tattoo and wore the ring. Not wanting to look like I was staring, I glanced up.

Sam had finished eating and was resting her head against the tree with her eyes closed. I’d meant what I said; she was cute. Sam never wore makeup but didn’t seem to need to. Her skin was smooth and her cheeks had a natural color to them, and she had the longest eyelashes I’d ever seen.

Those lashes, along with her huge brown eyes, she used to good effect on me, as well as her older siblings and her father. Her mother had the same eyes and would always tell Sam to knock it off, that she had created that look and was immune to it.

The use of her big eyes was usually coupled with her pushing her lips into a little-girl pout. Sam’s lips were full, and I’d once overheard a couple of guys saying she had blow-job lips. I flashed back to a couple of minutes ago when she made a show of blowing the banana and how her lips had looked wrapped around it. I shook my head.

Taking a bite of the sandwich, I looked back down at her foot, wondering what the hell a guy would do with her feet. I moved away from that image, thinking things were getting bad when I was starting to think about Sam’s sexual escapades.

But all that would change, and soon. A smile crossed my face at the thought of what I had planned for tomorrow night. Mom and her boyfriend Bill were leaving this afternoon to go visit friends in New Hampshire and wouldn’t be home until Monday.

Jen had been hinting that she was getting comfortable enough to want to sleep together, and when I mentioned my mom would be away for the weekend, she asked if I wanted company.

Jen, who was pretty much Sam’s opposite was blonde with baby-blue eyes. Whereas Sam was tall and a little on the skinny side, Jen was short with a pair of huge tits that, as Sam had said, she did flaunt. Her ass was damn fine too and she wasn’t shy about showing it off.

I couldn’t wait to get a look at those tits, to feel them, suck on them, and maybe even get my cock between them like in the dirty movies I got off to every night.

Well, tomorrow night I’d be getting off with the real thing. The idea of having Jen naked in my bed caused my cock to swell. At the same time, a twinge of nerves fluttered though my stomach. Jen didn’t know it was my first time.

I supposed I should have mentioned it, but she had experience and I didn’t want to look like an idiot. But now that it seemed the time had finally arrived, I was going to be nervous with only porn videos to go by and with a girl who’d done it before. What if I went off quick or didn’t get her off quick enough? What if—

“Why are you staring at my foot?”

I looked up. “Huh?”

“You keep looking at my feet.” Sam wiggled her toes. “Something wrong with them?”

“No, they look fine.”

“You think my feet are fine?” She laughed. “You have a foot fetish?”

“Of course not!” Not wanting to be teased, I turned the conversation in another direction. “So why do you do that?”

“What?” She frowned, looking at her feet. “The tattoo?”

“Yeah, that and the nails and the ring. You hardly ever wear sandals, even when it’s hot, so what’s the point?”

“The point is I know it’s there and I like how the ring looks.” Sam shrugged. “I do it for me, not anyone else.”

I grinned at her. “What about foot boy?”

“I didn’t get the tattoo for him. I had just gotten it when I met him.” She winked. “But he said it made a hell of a bull’s-eye.”

“Eww!” I scrunched my face up. “TMI!”

Sam giggled. “But anyway, it’s about what’s on the inside, Justin—not the outside.”

“I get that with feelings and stuff, but why does it matter with looks?”

“Because vain people are shallow people.” Sam reached out and put her hand on my leg. “But you’re different, though. You dress like the cool jerk, but you’re a great guy.”

“I don’t dress like—”

“Bullshit!” She pointed at my sunglasses. “How much were those things?”

“A hundred, but they’re Foster—”

“Mine came from the dollar store and they do the trick.” She pulled on my shorts. “What brand are these?”

“They’re—” I started, but she continued.

“And that’s an Abercrombie and Fitch T-shirt you’re wiping your sweaty face on. What was that, thirty dollars? And you’re wearing it to clean up a park.” Pointing at her shirt, she said, “This shirt was ten dollars and the jeans were the same on sale. My whole outfit with my sneakers is less than your damn shorts.”

“It shows.” I smirked.

The look on Sam’s face told me I’d made a mistake, and she quickly made me pay for it. “You would never have made that crack before you started going with Jen.”

“Oh, come on! I’m just busting your chops.”

“Oh, that’s all? Okay, how about this one? I dress like a poor tomboy and you’re mister GQ, pretty boy, but which one of us is still a virgin?”

“What the hell kind of crack is that?” I put the sandwich down. “What’s that got to do with anything?”

“Well, you think I’m so plain and dress so crappy, but I’ve had a couple of guys who had no problem wanting to get to know me better.”

“So what? I’ve had chances, but I promised my mother I’d try to do it the right way. You decided to spread your legs when you had the chance.”

“Are you saying I’m a slut?”

“Of course not! You know better than that. But you know that’s a touchy subject with me.”

“But you never think anything bothers me.” Sam waved her hand disgustedly at me. “You really do treat me like a guy.”

“I … I treat you like a friend. Since when do I need to treat you all girly?”

“You don’t, but then again you’ve never treated a girly have you?” She raised her eyebrows after that one, as if daring me to top it.

“Guess you got me on that one,” I said with a casual shrug. “But tell you what, how about you ask me again after this weekend?”

Sam’s eyes narrowed. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means, I just might…”

My phone went off and I couldn’t help smiling when “You don’t know You’re Beautiful” blared from it. It was Jen. The timing couldn’t have been better.

“Like she doesn’t think she’s beautiful.” Sam muttered

“Hey, sweetie.” I bit my lip not to laugh at the disgusted look on her face.

“Hey, hot stuff!” Jen chirped in my ear. “How goes park detail?”

“Halfway,” I told her. “It’ll be done in a couple hours.”

“Wow! That was quick!”

Hopefully she wouldn’t be saying that in my ear in bed, I thought, but said, “I have some help.”

“That’s great! More the merrier! I’m surprised you could rope any of your friends into getting up on Saturday morning.”

“They didn’t. Sam’s helping me out.” Even as I said it, I wondered why I brought her up.