Marcelina closed her chemistry book and let it fall with a soft thud to the floor. Studying was a waste and she had no idea why Jory insisted on continuing the charade. Any day now conscription would be called and none of their education would matter. Bullet sponges didn’t need to know anything but how to bleed.

Jory did not take the hint. Not even when she sighed. So, she slid down onto her back and rested her head in his lap. Eyes closed, she felt his fingers in her hair as she heard the page turn. Pages. As in books. So old fashioned.

“Read that last part to me?”

She liked listening to him even when she couldn’t understand what he said. He may as well have been speaking ancient Sumerian. Once, tipsy on stolen wine, she’d said she could listen to him recite the phone book. The next time they were alone in their old clubhouse he’d sat on her and read from the phone directory.

“Jory?” she asked three pages later.

“Almost done with this section.”

“I’m naked under my clothes.”

“Scandalous!” He set his book down. His hand left her hair and slid to her shoulder. “Marcelina?”


“So am I.”

She hadn’t planned on this. Not truly.

Not exactly.

No more than she’d planned on this every time they’d been alone for the last year and a half. Something had always happened. Interruptions were common, but tonight they shouldn’t have to worry. She’d snuck out and they’d double checked that their meager lamp light couldn’t be seen through the curtains hung over the open windows. To study undisturbed.

“Are you sure?”

Marcelina sat up and rested on her knees beside him. He watched as she began to unbutton her shirt. In the dim light he might have missed her blush, but she doubted it from the way he grinned at her.

“Have you done this before?” She hated to ask. Because if he had she didn’t know what she’d do.

“No.” He grinned at her again. “Well, the one time with Charlotte, but she doesn’t count.”

“You!” Marcelina pushed him to the sleeping bags under them and pinned his arms down. It wasn’t hard because he laughed. She started laughing when he pulled a hand free and began to tickle her.

She kissed him before she lost all her breath from laughing. The next kiss, or maybe the one after, took his breath away. She stopped keeping track afterwards.

After their awkward fumblings, they curled up around each other as the chill night air began to seep into their bodies. Marcelina was surprised she hadn’t noticed the cold before. Then Jory slid against her as he pulled an old army blanket over them and she remembered why she hadn’t noticed the cold.

“That was way better than with Charlotte.”

“Shut up.”

“I didn’t kiss her.”


“When we were nine. I never kissed Charlotte. She said I could. She wanted me to. I never did.”

“Then why did you say what you did? About her saying I would cry.”

The day had left an impression. Not only because of her black eye. Marcelina shivered when his fingers traced her spine.

“Because she did say it. She said even if I didn’t kiss her she’d say I did and you would cry.”

“I really don’t like Charlotte.”

“The feeling is mutual. She’s always been jealous.”


“Because I never wanted her.”


Jory’s lips quieted hers. She didn’t mind. Nor did she mind when his mouth left hers to explore other places.

“It’s always been you, Marcelina. Ever since you puked on my shoes in kindergarten.”

Only Jory could say that and not ruin the mood. So, she found a way to thank him for being perfect. Twice.