The Best of Friends – Chapter 4
Wendy took the plates over to the sink as Aiden grabbed a sponge and turned the water to hot. The boy’s nana rested at the kitchen table. She looked worn. Of course, at seventy-five, who could blame her?
Her voice matched her appearance, “You kids sure you don’t want any more?”
Wendy shook her head, “I’m stuffed, Mrs. Frazier.”
She was, but the meal had been overcooked and bland. She ate better at most of the cafeterias on campus. Still, it was time she could spend with Aiden. And after ten weeks of jogging together, he remained her only friend.
When Wendy took the half-eaten plate from in front of the boy’s nana, the old woman asked, “How many weeks until your semester is over?”
“I bet you miss your family. Are you planning on going back to Houston to see them?”
Wendy cut a glance at Aiden, but the deer-in-the-headlights look he gave her told her all she needed to know. He hadn’t told his nana.
The girl set the plate in the sink, “My parents passed away last year.”
She still fiercely missed them, but enough time had passed she no longer teared up when thinking about them.
The old woman smiled wanly at her, “I’m sorry for your loss, dear. It’s been almost ten years since my Harlin passed away. Not a day goes by I don’t miss him. Do you have other family down in the Houston area?”
Wendy let an unhappy sigh slip out. Her parents had escaped from Vietnam with her grandparents. But they had arrived in Houston alone. Even now, close to fifty years later, she had only a handful of her parents’ cousins living in the US. “Just some cousins. But we’re not very close. I’m staying here for Thanksgiving and probably most of the Christmas break.”
Mrs. Frasier grabbed her cane and stood, “Bless your heart. You just plan on spending Thanksgiving with me and Aiden. Unless you plan on spending the day with your boyfriend.”
Wendy’s pale-yellow skin did nothing to hide the crimson in her cheeks, “Ah, no boyfriend. The guys on campus want a taller, blonder, big chested girl.”
Aiden’s nana paused at the door, “That’s their loss. I’ve only known you for a couple of weeks, and even an old woman like me can see you’re a fine girl.”
Wendy felt the warmth in her face at the compliment. It was clear from the look on the old woman’s face she’d meant every word. “I haven’t met many boys who’d agree with you, Mrs. Frazier. All the boys on campus turned their noses up at me.”
The old woman rested her hand on the door sill, “Just call me Nana.” Then she pointed with a shaking hand at Aiden, who glanced her way, “I wager there’s at least one boy who disagrees with those stupid boys on campus.”
The boy looked away. His ears were crimson, “Nana! Jeez.”
Wendy couldn’t have turned any redder if she tried. The incident with forgotten clothes in her shower had only been a few days ago, but already she felt a subtle shift in her friendship with Aiden. He was even more deferential than before, as though trying harder to please her. She hadn’t minded the slight change. If anything, it made her enjoy time spent with Aiden even more.
Aiden wiped his hands on a towel as he scowled at his nana, “Wendy’s my friend. Don’t make it weird.”
Wendy followed the boy’s nana into the living room, where the old woman collapsed with a sigh into an old, worn recliner where she grabbed the remote and flipped through the channels on the TV. Taking a spot on the equally worn couch, Wendy waited for Aiden to come into the living room and sit next to her before saying, “Nobody could have told me my best friend in college would be a sixth grader from across the street.”
The hooded expression Aiden gave her made Wendy feel warm, even as the boy said, “I guess you’re a half-way decent friend too.”
The playful tone in the boy’s voice brought a smile to Wendy. She dug an elbow into his ribs, “Half-way decent friend? Who’s the one who lets you win our races? Or tutors you in math and science?”
Giggling at the way her elbow touched his side, Aiden gasped, “O-, okay. Maybe a little bit more than half-decent.”
When they stopped laughing, Nana said, “Since starting the sixth grade, school has always been really hard on Aiden. A lot of the other kids have been just plain ugly toward him and the friends he had in elementary school transferred to other schools this year. Wendy, you’re the only friend Aiden has. And while I wish with all my heart that he’d make more friends in school. But it’s hard when you’re the odd man out.”
Wendy felt a familiar pang. Even though she made friends in junior high and high school, she understood all too well being the odd one out. Maybe that’s why she felt a kinship for Aiden that went beyond simple friendship. “That’s just one more reason I’m glad Aiden’s my friend.”
Nana stopped channel surfing, leaving it on a game show, “When Aiden first told me he was jogging before school with a college girl, I wasn’t sure I liked the idea. After all, there’s a bit of a difference in age. But I saw how much he enjoyed his morning jogs and figured it was good for him. And now that I’ve had time to meet you, I realized you kids have a lot in common. And I’m glad y’all are friends.”
After the game show ended, Nana stretched, “These old bones get tired a lot earlier than they used to. I think I’m going to turn in.”
She groaned as she climbed to her feet and grabbed her cane. When she got to the hallway, she turned, “Aiden mentioned a race, coming up in a couple of weeks. Are you doing it to?”
Wendy nodded, “Yes, Mrs. Fra-, ah, Nana. It’s the first Saturday in December. I think we’re both ready and we should do well.”
Nana nodded slowly, “I’ve got a couple of girlfriends who’re planning a trip to one of the riverboat casinos in Louisiana. They’ve been badgering me to go for a coon’s age. But with taking care of Aiden, I just haven’t found the time.”
Wendy could sense the question, “Are they going the same weekend of the race?”
Nana dipped her head, “Yes. Just for a couple of days. Would it be okay if he stayed with you?”
Wendy’s stomach did a flip. As her friendship with Aiden grew, she never imagined the boy’s nana would ask her to let him stay with her. It felt weird how she wanted to spend so much time with the boy, but he was her only friend and she enjoyed her time with him. She found herself nodding, “Are you sure, um, Nana? You hardly know me.”
The old woman dipped her head, “Aiden adores you. He’s an excellent judge of character. It’s clear he trusts you and I trust him.”
Wendy looked over at the boy next to her. His eyes shone, “Is that okay?”
She leaned against him, enjoying the touch of their arms and legs, “Of course it is.”
After she heard a door down the hall close, Wendy put an arm around Aiden’s shoulder, “Your nana’s really nice, A. You’re lucky to have her.”
“I know. Sometimes I wish my mom was still around. But, if she’s strung out on drugs, even though Nana’s getting old, this is so much better.
Wendy had never known anyone who abused drugs so much that it affected their relationships. Something inside her ached, knowing Aiden would never have the relationship with his mom that she had with hers, even if her mom had been taken far too early.
Aiden controlled the remote control after his nana retired to her bedroom, and he put it on a police procedural. Wendy didn’t want to stay too late; she still had homework she wanted to finish before Sunday. But when Aiden leaned his head against her shoulder, she settled back and watched TV, enjoying the close company of her young friend.
Two hours later, she glanced at her phone. It was already ten in the evening. Where had the evening gone? A glance at Aiden gave her the answer. He was nodding off, still resting his head against her shoulder. With an unhappy sigh, Wendy murmured, “Hey, A. I need to head on home.”
When the boy stirred, his head brushed against her padded bra before he sat up, blinking his eyes awake, “Wha?”
Wendy slid from the dilapidated couch, “Aiden, I need to head home. It’s late.”
The boy yawned, “What time is it?”
Aiden’s eyes popped open, “Ten? Dang. How long was I out?”
Wendy stretched as she stood, unaware she was exposing her midriff to the boy. “Not long. You want to lock the door behind me?”
She stepped onto the darkened porch and turned. Aiden stood in the doorframe, “Thanks for hanging out with me tonight. Sorry I fell asleep.”
Wendy grinned as she realized how much she enjoyed spending the day with the boy. They had been inseparable since meeting up in the morning, fourteen hours earlier, before their jog. “I had fun. I’ll see you bright and early on Monday.”
The boy smiled, “Cool.”
Before turning to go, Wendy leaned down and planted a kiss on Aiden’s cheek. She tousled his hair, “Awesome. Until then.”
Aiden slid his bookbag’s strap over one shoulder when the bell sounded. The only good thing about school was it released early the day before Thanksgiving. He kept his eyes on the worn and broken tile floor as he hurried toward the door. He could see the neon-red EXIT sign in the distance when someone grabbed him by his book bag and nearly yanked him off his feet, pulling him into the boys’ restroom. It was the Wheaties Thief’s two friends. The taller of the two, who was a foot taller than Aiden, leered, “Check it, Tyree. This stupid cracker still needs to be taught a lesson. I bet anything he’s the one who snitched on Dashawn. And you know what they say about snitches.”
The other boy, a few inches over five feet, shoved Aiden against the side of a metal stall, “Snitches get stitches. And We’re going to fuck you up, snowflake.”
Stilts, as Aiden thought of the taller one, hit him against his shoulder. It didn’t hurt much, but the eleven-year-old folded up, trying to protect his stomach. He immediately regretted the action when the other boy hit him in the back, knocking Aiden to his knees. Then Tyree grabbed his shirt and pulled it up, “Check it. This saltine still wears tighty-whities!”
Stilts grabbed the exposed material and yanked on it. Aiden howled when the material grabbed his balls and penis. The older boy kept yanking on the fabric until a ripping sound filled the restroom. Then he released the ruined elastic band, letting Aiden fall to the floor as he and Tyree burst into laughter. That instant was what Aiden needed. He shot forward and was on his feet before the other boys could react. Then he grabbed the door and slammed it open as he raced toward the exit.
It hurt to run. Every step was a reminder whatever was left of his underwear was wedged tight between his ass-cheeks. But getting caught would be worse. Everything he had learned over the past few months he put into practice as he sprinted toward the pedestrian causeway running under the highway that separated his intermediate school from his neighborhood. A fleeting glance behind showed his tormenters hard on his heels.
Aiden flung himself down the ramp and through the entry into the causeway. He pumped his legs as hard as he could as the world around grew dim in the tunnel under the road. Still, when he burst back into the sunlight, the hard pounding on sneakers on concrete was right behind him. He raced along the sidewalk that skirted the college campus. It was dead. Most of the students had fled town by noon in their haste to start a four-day weekend.
Even though his legs burned, Aiden felt like he could run for as long as he had to. When he crossed one of the cross-streets, the sound of pursuit sounded like it wasn’t right on his heels. A few blocks further on, he chanced another glance. Both boys were a dozen paces behind him, but still pursuing him. Then, as he passed by the quadplex buildings behind which Wendy lived, one of his shoelaces came untied. His shoe slipped, and he tumbled, falling onto the grass beside the sidewalk.
Then the other boys were on him. Stilts slammed his foot into Aiden’s stomach, “Fuck you, cracker. You thought what we were going to do was bad. Now you’ll see what happens when you fucking run!”
The other boy fell on top of Aiden, slamming an elbow into his head. The eleven-year-old saw stars as he yelled for help.
Another kick left the boy too breathless to shout anymore when another voice shouted, “Hey, you kids. What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”
In the distance, a siren pierced the quiet of a neighborhood where nearly all the students had left for a long weekend.
Stilts, ready to place another kick, cocked his head and then tore off, racing back toward the highway. A moment later, Tyree followed. Aiden curled into a fetal position, his body wracked with pain. A moment later, a familiar voice said, “Holy shit, A. Who were those kids?”
Aiden opened his eyes. Wendy knelt over him as the sound of the siren retreated in the distance. The boy croaked, “You called the police?”
Wendy took him by the arm and helped him to sit up, “No. Lucky coincidence. I should’ve.”
It hurt to shrug, “Won’t do much good. They live in the projects.”
The nineteen-year-old helped him to his feet. He hurt all over. She said, “I can take you home. Your nana can help.”
Aiden shook his head. There wasn’t anything his nana could do. “N-, no. Can I get cleaned up at your place?”
With her arm wrapped around his waist, Aiden hobbled over to the small apartment behind the quadplex buildings. Once inside, Wendy sat him on her expensive sofa and then sat beside him, “Let me check you out, A. Those assholes were working you over.”
She lifted his shirt; the boy winced at the pain and she swore, “Those fuckers! That’s going to leave a nasty bruise. She pulled Aiden’s shirt off and he looked down. His stomach was a deep, angry red. And it hurt worse than he could have imagined.
Wendy lightly touched his bruised stomach, “A, we really should get this looked at. What if he broke a rib?”
Aiden shook his head, “No! It’s just bruised. I don’t think he broke anything.”
The last thing he wanted to do was involve his nana. Going to the ER was out of the question. Wendy gave him a skeptical look, “We’ll see. Take a deep breath.”
While it hurt to draw in a deep breath, Aiden didn’t feel any sharp pains along his ribs. Of course, Stilts had kicked him in his stomach, not his ribs. “I can breathe fine, Wen. I’ll be okay.”
Wendy had him face away from her as she looked at his back, “You’re going to bruise here too. What the hell did they do to your underwear?”
A quick look at his waist showed Aiden his elastic waistband up to his belly button. The back felt like it was pulled even higher. “Um, wedgie.”
Wendy shook her head, “Those boys better hope I don’t see them again. You need to get your underwear back in place. You can use my bathroom.”
Aiden hurt all over when he stood, but he hobbled through Wendy’s bedroom to her bathroom. Once he closed the door, the boy unfastened his pants and let them fall to his feet. His penis was a small bulge against the tight white fabric. He tugged on the material until he unwedged himself. The elastic was shredded and threatened to fall past his waist. But that wasn’t the worst of it. Stilts had pulled so hard, he tore the cotton fabric loose from the waistband.
When the tears spilled over his cheeks, it wasn’t from the pain in his body, but the humiliation of not being able to protect himself from bullies like Stilts and Tyree. He wiped at his eyes as he let gravity do its work. He stepped out of the ruined underwear and pulled his pants back on.
When Aiden stepped out of the bathroom, Wendy sat on her bed waiting for him. When her eyes went to the torn underwear in his hands, the boy dropped them and cried, “I hate it there, Wen. Every fucking day, it’s the same shit!”
Until then, he’d been good about watching his mouth, but between the harsh language Wendy used when she rescued him and his own despondency, Aiden didn’t care about it anymore. All the teasing since the start of the school weighed on him and when Wendy held her arms open, he shuffled over to her and let her draw him into a hug.
Wendy gazed on Aiden’s small, sleeping form. Still shirtless, the boy’s chest rhythmically rose and fell. The ugly red on his stomach was in the first stages of turning black and blue. She blinked back tears of rage at the boy’s tormenters. Something had to be done to stop the bullying. She didn’t know what to do, yet. But there was one thing she had to do.
Leaving the boy asleep on her bed, Wendy left her apartment, locking the door behind her and hurried across the street and over the broken concrete of the walkway to Mrs. Frazier’s house. She knocked on the door and waited. The third time she knocked, the door rattled and a moment later, the old woman stood before her. The boy’s nana looked older than her seventy-five years. Her nose was red and her eyes were runny.
She wheezed, “Mercy me, Wendy. Are you okay?”
Wendy felt tempted to step back. Whatever Nana Frasier had, she didn’t want it. “I’m the one who should ask the question, um, Nana.”
The old woman smiled weakly, “Blasted cold, I think. Have you seen Aiden? He should have been home an hour ago.”
Wendy gestured toward her place, “A couple of older boys were beating on him when he was coming home. I chased them off, but he didn’t want to come home and have you worried. He’s taking a nap right now.”
Nana shook her head, “He hates that stupid school. The teachers don’t teach like they’re supposed to, and the kids are absolutely beastly. Well, some of them. Is he okay?”
Wendy bobbed her head, “I think so. Some bruising. Are you sure you’re okay?”
Nana leaned against the doorway, “Nothing about twenty hours of sleep and NyQuil won’t fix. I know I had invited you over for dinner tomorrow. But I don’t think you want what I’ve got.”
Wendy certainly would not try changing the old woman’s mind, “No problem, Nana. What about Aiden? If you’re contagious…”
The boy was already slated to spend a couple of nights at her place the next weekend. Still, Wendy didn’t want to push.
A look of tired relief crossed Nana’s features. “I hate for him to be a bother, Wendy.”
“It’s not a bother at all, Nana. Y’all are my friends and it’s the least I can do.”
“Thanks, Wendy. You’re a saint.”
She blushed at the praise. “I doubt that. Is it okay if I take him out to eat tomorrow? Thanksgiving and all.”
Nana rubbed her nose with a tissue, “Of course. Let me fetch him a change of clothes for you.”
Wendy felt relief when the boy’s nana closed the door and left her waiting on the porch. Even if all the old woman had was a common cold, she didn’t want it, or Aiden to catch it either. More than that, she had worried about trying to explain about the ruined underwear. With Nana offering to get a change of clothes, maybe mentioning that wouldn’t be necessary.
A few minutes later, the door opened again and Nana handed her a school backpack, “Here’s a couple of changes of clothes, just in case you keep Aiden until Friday.”
Wendy took the backpack with a thanks. When the door closed, there was a loud sneeze from the other side. A loose windowpane rattled. Vowing to wash her hands thoroughly, Wendy hurried back to her place. Despite the unfortunate set of circumstances that left Aiden to stay with her, she was still happy at the prospect of having her only friend stay with her for a couple of days.
Later, back in her apartment, Wendy wiped her hands on a hand towel as she stood over Aiden, who still napped. The angry red welts on the boy’s stomach were slowing changing to a purplish-black. Aside from a bruised ear, his face was unmarked. She clenched her fists; just like bullies to hit someone weaker than themselves where their injuries could be hidden. Aiden’s blond hair would likely hide the ear from casual inspection. And despite her anger, Wendy felt only relief her friend’s face was unmarked.
Over the past few months, the boy filled the hole in her heart left festering by her parents’ deaths. She touched his forehead, brushing aside a blond lock of hair. Her fingertip traced over his eyebrows. Most boys, as they near adolescence, their eyebrows thicken and darken. But Aiden’s brows were fair and thin. His nose was straight, short, and unblemished. Even his lips, now relaxed in sleep, were full and red.
The boy whimpered, and his eyelids fluttered. He mumbled, “No, don’t hit me.”
Wendy pulled back her hand until Aiden’s eyelids stopped fluttering and his deep breathing resumed. She rested her hand on his chest and left it there, enjoying the warmth of his bare skin and the steady, even riding and falling. She lost track of the afternoon. As the shadows of twilight fell across the window over the bed, she replayed their conversation about their age differences and dating. At the time of their conversation, she hadn’t been entirely sure she was being honest with Aiden, even though she liked him more than anyone else.
Now, though, there was no doubt in her mind. She positively adored the sleeping boy. At least for now, there was no way for her to express the love she felt in anything other than friendship. She vowed she would be the best friend Aiden could possibly have. And together they would figure out how to end the bullying.
Eventually, Wendy ordered from a pizza shop near campus and when the food arrived, she set the pizza on her bed, “Hey, A. You hungry?”
The boy groaned as he sat up. He yelped when he touched his stomach, “Damn, it hurts.”
Wendy rested a hand on his shoulder, “Like you said, A, it’s just bruised.”
The boy was halfway through a slice of pizza when he said, “What time is it? Shoot, Nana’s going to kick my butt.”
Wendy pointed to the school backpack at the foot of the bed, “No worries. I stopped by your nana’s while you were sleeping. Did you know she’s got a pretty nasty cold?”
Aiden swallowed a bite of pizza, “I knew she wasn’t feeling very good. Maybe I should go home.”
Wendy held up her hand, “Not so fast. She doesn’t want to give it to you. She asked me to let you stay here tonight. We can check on her tomorrow.”
Aiden settled on the bed and grabbed another pizza slice, “Really? Like a sleepover?”
The last time Wendy had been to a sleepover had been in junior high school, when she was a year or two older than Aiden. Thinking back to eating junk food, being scandalized by rap music with explicit music and listening to too much gossip, she found herself nodding, “Yeah.”
“Cool, what do you want to do? Watch a movie?”
“What do you have in mind?” Wendy asked.
After they agreed to the movie, she eyed the boy who wore nothing but a pair of blue jeans. She grabbed the school backpack from the floor, “Do you want to get cleaned up before watching a movie?”
A flush filled Aiden’s cheeks as he glanced at himself, “Yeah.”
He opened the backpack and Wendy glimpsed a pair of red and blue underwear on top of other clothes. Aiden pulled them out first. His face grew redder, “Um, I guess Nana didn’t see my other underwear. these are, um, older.”
Seeing the boy flustered over underwear made Wendy like him even more. She said, “I think you’d be cute in a pair of-“ she looked at the underwear closer, “Superman underwear, A.”
The boy looked at her, as though trying to see if she were being serious or was just teasing him. Wendy wasn’t entirely sure herself, other than she knew she wanted to see him in them. She grabbed the underwear from him and rummaged through the collection of clothes Aiden had pulled from the backpack, grabbing a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. “Come on, Clark Kent, let’s get you changed and we can watch a movie.”
She set the change of clothes on the countertop in the bathroom. When Aiden came in, Wendy said, “I’ll wait outside. If you need any help, let me know.”
She had barely closed the door when Wendy heard Aiden, “Ouch.”
A few heartbeats later, his cherubic voice rang out, “Wen.”
Uncertain what she’d find upon opening the door, Wendy cracked it open, “Yes?”
In a voice tinged with defeat, Aiden said, “I-, it hurts too much to unbutton my pants.”
Wendy slipped into the bathroom. The boy faced the mirror over the countertop, still wearing just his pants. The look of shame on his face was almost too much. “What’s wrong?”
Aiden reached for the button and zipper on his pants and grimaced. “It hurts too much.”
Wendy knelt beside him, “Do you need my help, A?”
The boy bit his lower lip and looked at the ceiling before finally nodding. “Yeah. But promise me.”
He sighed, “Promise me you won’t tell my nana about this. Or anyone else.”
As if she would tell a soul the boy needed help to remove his clothes. Not in a million years. “I promise, A. Just between us.”
Aiden turned to face her. His cheeks were bright scarlet, “Okay.”
Still kneeling, Wendy touched the boy’s stomach. He flinched before seeming to relax. Then she unfastened the pants’ button, revealing the top of the boy’s smooth pubic area. She looked up at Aiden and gave him an encouraging smile, “You’re doing great, A. We’ll have you changed out quick as a flash.”
There was a tremor in her hand as she took hold of the zipper. It took everything inside Wendy to still her hand as she drew the zipper down. From there, it was a simply matter of tugging on the waistband of the pants for them to fall to his knees.
What had once been masked behind the foggy glass of her shower was on full display two hand spans away from her eyes. Unlike her second cousin, Aiden was circumcised. He was soft; less than two inches long from base to tip. Unlike the pictures Wendy had seen online of naked men, Aiden’s balls were drawn tight against the base of his flaccid tube of flesh.
Realizing she was staring, Wendy pulled the boy’s pants down and helped pull each leg off and then rose, “Okay. Clark Kent, time to turn into Superman.”
With that, she knelt again and held open the colorful underwear for Aiden to step into. Once the boy’s feet were through the openings, Wendy pulled them up until she gently let the elastic band rest against his waist.
Despite the turmoil Wendy felt inside, she grinned up at him, “And in an amazing transformation, Clark Kent turns into Superman.”
Although he was still beet-red, Aiden giggled, “Thanks.”
Wendy managed to get the pajama shorts on the boy. But when she tried putting the shirt on, he was too sore. While stuffing the clothes he didn’t need back into the backpack, Aiden said, “It’s okay. I don’t usually wear a shirt to bed, anyway.”
“No problem, A. You’re supposed to be comfortable at a sleepover.”
Wendy wanted to change into something more comfortable before settling in front of the TV for a movie. She knew she should send Aiden into the other room while she changed. But she had already let him see her in her pink underwear. It would also be hypocritical to make the boy go into the other room when she had just seen every square inch of his naked body a few minutes ago.
She glanced at the boy who sat on the end of the bed, and unfastened her pants. As she was sliding them down, revealing a pair of white panties, she said, “Gonna have a sleepover, gotta dress for it. Right, A?”
Aiden squeaked, “Um, Wen?”
Wendy rooted around in her chest of drawers, “Yeah?”
Finding a pair of green shorts, Wendy said, “You can stay. Just putting on some pajamas.”
She found a tank-top in another drawer and turned away from Aiden. Wendy always wore a bra under her shirt when she had class, and she hadn’t taken it off yet. But she never wore one to bed. She tossed her shirt into a hamper and then reached her arms around her back and unclasped the hooks. Then she slipped the cotton fabric off and sent it sailing after her shirt. She felt liberated and guilty, knowing her eleven-year-old best friend was gawking at her bare back.
After sliding the tank-top on, Wendy turned around. Aiden’s eyes were still big. The young woman gave him a wink and took him into the living room, where they settled onto the sofa and turned on Netflix. They were only a few minutes into the movie when Aiden leaned his head against Wendy’s shoulder. At that point, she moved her arm and draped it around his back. The boy responded by laying his head against the side of her chest.
The nineteen-year-old followed the movie, mostly. But thoughts of Aiden were never far away. Even though she hoped Nana would recover quickly from her bout with a cold, Wendy also hoped the old woman would let her grandson stay with her for much of the long weekend. Already, this was shaping up to be the best Thanksgiving since her parents died.
“Do I have to tuck my shirt in?” Aiden stood in front of the mirror in the bathroom. The shirt was a white button-down dress shirt. It was the only dress shirt he owned. It wouldn’t have been his choice for Thanksgiving lunch, but Wendy had insisted he wear the nicest clothing his nana had packed.
Wendy sat next to him, in front of a make-up kit, applying some mascara. She wore a maroon skirt and beige blouse. Why she thought she needed makeup was beyond Aiden. All dressed up, she looked even better than usual. And that was saying something because Wendy always looked good.
The young woman nodded, “You should. That shirt and dress pants make you look mature. Leaving the shirt untucked, well, takes away from the mature look.”
Aiden wanted Wendy to think of him as mature. Especially after last night. He had felt mortified when the young woman helped him out of his pants. Nobody had seen him naked in a long time, except Brian and Derrick, and they didn’t count. And now that Wendy had, what must she think of him? Aiden knew he was smaller than a lot of the other boys in the intermediate school and hated how immature he looked down there. Still, if Wendy thought he looked mature with the shirt tucked in, then tuck it in he would.
It hurt to push the shirttail into his khaki pants. Aiden’s bruises were frightful to see. And they hurt like hell too. But he gritted through the pain until his shirt was neatly tucked in his pants. Wendy glanced at him as she applied some stuff to her lips. “Nice, A. You look very handsome.”
Her praise alone made it worth the effort. As he waited for Wendy to finish getting ready, Aiden felt conflicted. He hated how his nana was sick, but could hardly contain his happiness at getting to spend the night at Wendy’s. Her sofa was softer and a lot nicer than the one in his nana’s living room.
After Wendy finished, Aiden experienced another first; riding in the young woman’s car. Even though Wendy owned the quadplex buildings, her car, a Honda CR-V, was a couple of years old. Unlike his nana’s older model Oldsmobile, Wendy’s car was clean, both inside and out.
When Wendy pulled into the parking lot of a high-rise hotel, Aiden’s curiosity got the better of him, “There’s a restaurant in there?”
As they headed toward the hotel’s front doors, Wendy said, “Yep. A rather nice one. My parents and I ate here when I came to visit the campus my junior year of high school. They actually have a buffet set up today.”
Aiden felt grown up, going through the buffet line. Even at the table for two he shared with Wendy, they talked about the five-k run coming up the following weekend. When they exhausted talking about the race, they talked about their favorite movies. Wendy truly seemed interested in what he had to say, even if he liked action and comedy movies and she preferred fantasy and romance movies. By the end of the meal, the young woman had gotten him to agree to watch one of her favorite movies, The Princess Bride.
By the time they returned home, the afternoon was mostly gone. Wendy said, “I could stand to walk off a little bit of our meal. Want to go with me and check on your nana?”
Aiden knew it was the right thing. But he didn’t want the time with Wendy to be at an end. Spending time with her had quickly supplanted everything else as his favorite thing to do. But he nodded and fell into step beside the young woman as they crossed the road.
Wendy said, “Tomorrow’s run is going to be brutal. All that food. I bet I waddle instead of run.”
Aiden touched his stomach, which was still sore and tender, and full. “Even if I hadn’t eaten like a pig, I’d probably still jog like a duck.”
They reached his nana’s house, and Wendy rang the doorbell. A few minutes passed before Aiden heard the familiar thump of Nana’s cane on the scarred wooden floor. There was a snick of the deadbolt sliding and then the door opened. His nana’s nose was swollen and red. Even though she smiled when she saw him, her voice was hoarse, “Aiden, how was Thanksgiving Dinner?”
Inwardly, the boy winced. Compared to how Wendy described her, his nana sounded even worse. “It was good, Nana. But I missed you.”
The old woman waved the comment away, “Pshaw! You go out to eat with a pretty young lady and then tell me you missed me. Lies.”
Despite his nana’s appearance, she still managed a weak smile.
Wendy said, “Goodness, Nana. Do you need me to get anything from Walgreens? Medicine? Food?”
Nana shook her head, “That’s so sweet to ask, Wendy. I hate to impose further, but do you think you can keep Aiden again this evening? It’s taking me longer to get over this damned cold.”
Aiden’s heart soared at the request, even as he felt terrible for his nana. His stomach fluttered when Wendy put a hand on his shoulder, “Of course, he can. If you need a few days to recover, take it. If it’ll help, I can make sure he gets off to school Monday.”
Gratitude replaced the humor in his nana’s eyes. She said, “Are you sure you don’t mind? Aiden can be such a handful sometimes.”
Aiden groaned, “Nana! I’m not that bad.”
Wendy chimed, “I enjoy Aiden’s company, Nana. He’s a perfect gentleman.”
Nana turned, sneezing behind the door, “I hate this damned cold. You just let me know if he stops being a perfect gentleman. If he’s behaving so well, it’s probably because he sees you as more a friend than an old adult like me. Enjoy it while it lasts.”
Wendy laughed along with Nana. Aiden scowled at his Nana’s attempt to embarrass him. Still, after his nana closed the door and he and Wendy were returning to her apartment, he was on cloud nine. The sleepover would last for the rest of the long holiday weekend.
Back inside Wendy’s bedroom, she said, “After we get changed, what would you like to do?”
Aiden liked the idea of cuddling on the sofa again, “We could watch that Princess movie you like.”
Wendy’s eyes lit up, “Cool. I really think you’ll like it.”
She picked up his backpack, “You need any help to get changed tonight?”
The boy knew she was referring to the previous night, when he was too sore and in too much pain to unfasten his pants. While he was still in some pain and almost as sore, he thought he could probably manage it. On the other hand, despite how embarrassed he was about her seeing him, there was also something that would enjoy the closeness of her help. Still, maybe it was more mature to do it himself, “Let me try it.”
Although there was some pain in his stomach as his fingers unfastened the buttons closest to the bruising, Aiden managed to unbutton himself. He stood and slid the shirt off, setting it next to his backpack. Then he flushed as he managed to unbutton his pants. He paused before grabbing the zipper. Should he go into the bathroom? Remembering Wendy changing in front of him before lunch, he tugged on the zipper and pulled his pants down and off.
Standing in front of Wendy in just his Superman underwear, there was a twitch between Aiden’s legs. Although he was soft at the moment, that was about to change. Even though he adored the young woman, the idea she might see him with a stiffy made him uncomfortable. He grabbed the same pajama pants from the previous night and slid them over his slight frame, even as he tried to ignore the growth in his underwear and hoped Wendy wouldn’t spy the slight indention in his pajama bottoms.
Aiden knew he ought to feel uncomfortable with Wendy’s eyes ranging across his body. Instead, he felt a growing sense of familiarity, seemingly normal between the closest of friends. Still sitting on the end of the bed, Wendy unbuttoned the beige blouse until the white cups of her bra came into view. Then, she slid the shirt off her shoulders, letting the fabric fall to the bed. Aiden’s eyes were fixed on the padded cups and the modest chest hidden behind them.
Then, she rose and turned away from him, saying, “A, can you unzip my skirt?”
Aiden felt as though he were touching something forbidden when he grabbed the zipper and tugged it down. Once the boy could pull the zipper no further, Wendy, with her hands on her hips, pushed the skirt down, where it bunched at her feet. She wore a pair of white panties, which perfectly matched her bra.
In his pajama shorts, Aiden felt himself stir. The part of him that had chubbed a bit when Wendy saw him in his Superman underwear, was a hardened stiffy, distending the multiple layers at his groin.
“Thanks A,” Wendy said before walking over to the chest of drawers. She pulled a spaghetti strap cami and held it in front of her chest, “Whatcha think?”
Aiden forgot his penis poking at the front of his shorts as he stared at the young woman. He thought about how he had seen her naked back earlier that morning and wondered what she looked like with nothing covering her. But he liked his friend way too much to tell her something like that. “Um, yeah, you’d look pretty in that.”
“Cool,” Wendy’s cheeks blushed red as she came back over to him. She turned her back to him, “You don’t have to if you don’t want…”
Her voice faltered. Curious about what she was about to say, Aiden asked, “Do what?”
Wendy finished, “Um, my bra. If you want, you can unhook it.”
Aiden was stunned. Taking a girl’s bra off was the stuff he fantasized about. But this wasn’t just any girl. This was Wendy, who was, without a doubt, the best friend he’d ever had, even if she was eight years older. His voice squeaked, “Really?”
Wendy turned her head far enough around for him to see her face as she said, “Only if you want to, Aiden. If you don’t want to… it’s just I thought you might.”
Aiden gasped, “No. Ah, I mean, yeah. I don’t mind.” His hands shook as his fingers touched her milky-yellow skin above the clasp on her bra.
Wendy faced away, “Do you see the little hooks? There are four of them. Just unhook them for me.”
It was impossible for Aiden’s fingers to not shake, but even so, Wendy was patient as it took him several tries on each clasp to unhook the bra. But once the boy finished, the young woman pulled the bra forward, unthreading it through her arms.
Aiden’s hand remained on her back for a few heartbeats. The soft heat did nothing to make his stiffy go away. He decided her back was perfect. Wendy raised her hands and slid the cami over her torso until the boy had no choice but to remove his hand.
The young woman turned around and gave him a peck of a kiss on the cheek, “Thanks, A. I hope I’m not embarrassing you.”
As close as he was to Wendy, she also intoxicated Aiden. He shook his head, “N-, no. I don’t m-, mind. We’re friends.”
Wendy flashed him a smile. Was there a hint of relief in it? Before Aiden could decide, the young woman said, “Best friends. A. Now, you ready to watch what is possibly the best fantasy movie ever made?”
Before joining him on the sofa, Wendy donned a pair of gray shorts. They were even shorter than Aiden’s pajama shorts, which didn’t come more than halfway to his knees. And just like the previous night, Wendy put her arm around his shoulder, letting him rest his head against the side of her chest.
As the movie started, Aiden identified with the sick grandson. He wasn’t sure what to make of the other characters, although Wendy was right. The movie was definitely a fantasy. But as it progressed, Aiden forgot about being held by Wendy. He forgot about his body sporting a frequent stiffy, and just watched the movie. By the time the Man in Black and the Spaniard fought their duel, he was hooked.
When the movie was over, he glanced over at Wendy, “That was awesome. Maybe we can watch it again soon.”
Wendy squeezed his shoulder in a half-hug, “As you wish.”
Aiden’s stomach fluttered as his heart quickened. Wendy used Wesley’s code for when he wanted to tell Buttercup he loved her. Uncertain how she meant it, the boy just smiled, “Cool.”
Wendy rose, “You ready to work off our turkey dinner come tomorrow morning?”
Aiden groaned. Normally they were jogging on Fridays by six thirty in the morning. “Can’t we sleep in?”
Wendy playfully tousled his hair, “Fine, but no later than eight.”
Mollified, the boy bobbed his head as he reached toward the end of the sofa, grabbing the sheet and blanket.
Copyright 2021 – Caliboy1991
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