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Authors: Leigh Wilder

Tags: #Romance

Cherry Bomb

 

 

 

Cherry Bomb

Leigh Wilder

 

 

Copyright Leigh Wilder 2012

 

Cover art copyright
Cre8tive_studios
at Dreamstime Stock Photos and Free Stock Images

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

 

 

 

"I'm not going, and you shouldn't either," Jessica told Penny as she packed her suitcase.
"A four hour drive to sit in a hot, smelly gym and remember 'the good ol' days' of 1999?
Thanks but no thanks.
Don't you remember high school?"

"Only too clearly," Penny muttered, folding underwear and shoving them into the corner of the suitcase.
This wasn't a 'ho
ok up with an old flame' trip, a
nything but.
So the und
erwear was her every day stuff;
the comfy white cotton that she always preferred to all of the silky, lacy stuff that Jessica liked to flash when they went out dancing.
"That’s why I have to go.
You know what they say.
Living well is the best revenge.
And I live very well."

That was a lie.
She did okay.
But no one needed to know that she shared her closet-sized Manhattan apartment.
She was a real journalist.
She had bylines and everything.
It was a lot more than most people in their tiny Pennsylvanian town had.

"I'm not going."

"I know."
At least Penny had an excuse.
She was playing Katharine
in
The Taming of the Shrew.
It was off-off-off Broadway and she was getting paid in free tickets and pizza, but at least if anyone asked about her Penny didn't have to lie.
Jessica was an actress living in NYC.
She just happened to work at a temp agency during the day.

"You shouldn't go either.
Do you really think those rednecks are going to accept you because you're better than them?"

Of course not.

 

*****

 

It had been a long time since Penny had driven, and she nearly scraped the side of her rental car along a red pick-up in the motel parking lot when she pulled into town mid-afternoon the next day.
She was glad there was only one motel in the town of Greenbrier, so she didn’t have to worry about anyone thinking she was being cheaper than she could afford.
She got her room key and took her suitcase and garment bag to her second floor room.
It was bare and dismal, which was a little how she felt.
What was she thinking, coming all this way without Jessica?
Jessica was the bold one; she was the one that got the attention.

 

Ten years ago Jessica was the golden girl of Greenbrier High School.
She was the head cheerleader and had leads in all of the spring musicals.
Jessica was pretty and popular.
She could string along the boys and never give them anything, and they didn't care because she was the person you wanted to be seen with.

Penny was not
un
pop
ular, but it was only
being Jessica’s best friend that got her anywhere.
She didn’t have the natural blond glamour of Jessica, but she had her own prettiness she thought, even back then.
She was always two steps behind Jessica--she was a cheerleader too, but was always the last one to make the cut every year, and instead of singing and dancing on stage she painted sets and ran the lights.
She always skirted the line between popular and invisible.

Until Homecoming, senior year.

Kenny Lorry was not the most popular boy in school either.
But he wasn't far behind.
He was part of Jessica's clique, sitting at the center with Jessica and Matt the Quarterback.
(Penny sat at that table too, but it was a long one, and she was usually on the very end with Matt's cousin Dana, who had mild Down's Syndrome. Everyone liked him because he would take any dare, and the boys treated him a bit like a mascot.)
Kenny was the best player on the baseball team and was vice-president of the student counsel.
He was also always on the honor roll, but no one ever noticed that.

One day she was eating her lunch and Kenny came down the table to dare Dana to eat a sandwich made of peanut butter, fried fish from the lunch line, and toothpaste.
Dana did so readily, but Kenny was easily bored, and Penny must have been looking prettier than usual that day, because her hair tie had broken second period and she was wearing contacts.
"Why do you sit all the way down here?" he asked her, and she shrugged.
"Come sit over by me."

No one questioned when he made everyone move down, and Jessica gave Penny a look with raised eyebrows.
"Whoo!
Look, it's Kenny and Penny!" Matt yelled, and she blushed.
Kenny just put an arm around her and gave her shoulders a squeeze.
"What are you doing this weekend?" he asked.
And that was the start.

 

Penny frowned as she opened the garment bag with her dress in it and hung it up in the closet.
Jessica had friends that were much better off than she was, and had gone a-borrowing for her.
The dress was a Christine Doi
r and her shoes were
Vera Wang
.
No one was willing to loan out any jewelry, but she had convincing fakes, and her bag was a Louis V
u
itton rip-off from a street vendor.
She expected she could pass well enough as the sophisticated Manhattanite she was supposed to be.

The dance wasn't until seven, and then Saturday there
would be a barbeque at Harvest
Park.
She had some time to kill.
Penny to
ok a quick shower to freshen up
after the long ride and put her hair back into a braid.
She changed into a green top and skirt (not designer) and went off to find food.

It was so strange, driving through a town she hadn't seen in five years, since her grandmother's funeral.
Some of the houses were in pretty bad shape, some were gone.
There was a new gas station on the corner of Fifth street and Main, but the Denny’s was still there across from Mike's Market, and it was packed with cars.
It was the only place to hang out.
Everyone went there.
During their short and ill-fated courtship, she and Kenny preferred the right corner booth near the emergency exit.

Penny swallowed down her nervousness and went into the building.
She didn't recognize the flustered looking seating hostess.
"We're pretty full up," she said.
You might have to wait for a table--"

"Hey guys!" a masculine voice called across the room.
"It's Cherry Bomb!"
Penny wanted to die right there.
This was why Jessica didn’t want her to go.
This was why she should have stayed home.
"Hey Val, we've got a free space over here."
The man speaking was Matt the Quarterback.
He was the one that came up with
the name
.

Penny tried to smile at the hostess and stepped into the dining room.
All of the tables had been pushed together in long rows and about fifteen of her old classmates were sitting together.
They were all staring at her expectantly, and she closed her eyes.

 

She and Kenny had been going out for about a month when Homecoming rolled around.
It was a big deal for some reason that she didn’t quite understand, but she didn’t mind getting to wear a pretty dress and afterwards there was a party at Jessica's place.

Bumbling around in the grass with a bonfire and lots of beer was not exactly the most intelligent thing to do in a pink tulle Cinderella dress, so she urged Kenny to leave early.
They took a couple beers with them and walked a few blocks to her Grandmothers' house.
It was sitting empty and for sale since she'd had a stroke and was moved to a home, but Penny knew the key was taped up under the old grill on the back porch.
Soon they were making out on the living room couch in the dark.

"You brought me all the way over here," he told her as they kissed.
"What are you going to do with me?"

"I just didn’t want to catch my dress on fire," she told him as his hands felt her up through the front of her dress.
Kenny was a handsy person, and it became rather a game, her intercepting his hands before they traveled somewhere inappropriate, and sometimes she would let them.

She found herself on top of him as they kissed, his hands finding their way to the zipper of her dress.
"I don't know," she whispered in the dark.
If there had been electricity she would have turned on the lights.

"Come on.
You like me, right?"

She did too.
Away from Matt and the other jocks he was smart, and read books and watched the news and had opinions about things other than sports and cars, and he didn't mind watching
Dawson's Creek
and
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
with her.
She harbored secret dreams of them going to college together and getting married.
She was pretty sure she could
love
him.
Or maybe she did already.

So she let him unzip her dress and he slid the straps off her shoulders and then she was topless in her grandmother's living room.
His hands were warm in the chilly air (no heat either) and in the dark he surprised her by drawing his tongue across her bare skin and sucking on her cold-enhanced nipples.

Things progressed from there, but she stopped him when his hands found their way up her skirt and to the waistband of her underwear.
It was ridiculous that her first thought was that her underwear was the full-bottomed, white cotton kind, in a time when the Thong Song was playing on the radio and Jessica liked to show off her drawer of strings with bits of lace attached.
"Stop," she told him.

"C'mon Penny.
I want you."
He did want her--she could feel how much pressed up against her stomach.

"No.
I haven't--I've never."
Kenny was her first real boyfriend.
"I'm not ready."

He begged her again, and she smacked his hand when he tried again, but in the end they were sitting on opposite sides out the couch, Kenny drinking from his can of beer.
"I brought condoms and everything," he told her.

"I'm sorry."

"Let's go back to the party."

She shook her head.
"No.
I want to go home now.”

He took her home, but he had apparently gone back to the party afterwards, and told Matt all about what had happened.
"Hey, Penny," he shouted down the crowded halls Monday morning.
"Heard Kenny tried to take your cherry and it bombed!" Everyone in the hall stopped and stared.
"Ha.
Cherry Bomb."
Matt laughed at his own lame joke, but by the end of the day kids she didn’t know--freshmen even--were calling her Cherry Bomb.
It stuck and for the rest of the school year...Cherry Bomb.

She’d cried into Jessica’s shoulder in the girls’ room for all of second period, and after that she dumped Kenny.
She did not say a single word to him the rest of the year.

 

*****

 

Penny took the chair Matt offered her.
"Hey Cherry Bomb.
How've you been?"
He looked much older—too much beer, she decided.
All of his football muscles had melted away into fat.

"Good," she said, trying to get her bearings.
"I'm living in Manhattan now."
She'd practiced the speech, she was prepared for them to give her false complements but secretly be jealous.
Matt didn’t seem to care.

"Look at these boys," he said instead, opening his wallet to reveal pictures of three kids.
"My oldest is just ten--he's the star of the peewee football league."
Matt’s wife, Amanda, sat next to him.
They had been on the cheerleading squad together.
Penny had thought she was putting on weight towards the end of their senior year.
Amanda was still putting on weight--she was plump and very obviously pregnant again.

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