"Hey Mary, what are you up to?" It had been nearly two weeks since Billy had called. Sure, they had seen each other at school.. ate lunch together once or twice, and said hello when they passed each other in the halls.. But Mary had all but given up on the boy and was working hard not to sulk too much about it. His voice was both welcome and irritating.. more welcome though.
"Nothing. What are you up to?" she answered.
"Just calling you. You want to hang out or something?"
"Sure, I guess. What did you have in mind?"
"Oh, I don't know.. I thought maybe you could come over here and we could shoot some pool or something.. Sound okay?"
"That sounds great." Mary answered smiling to herself.
"You want me to come pick you up?"
"Nah, I was thinking I'd just walk." There was a pause on the other end of the line.
"I'm kidding, Billy. Yes, please, pick me up."
Mary hung up the phone, informed her mother of her plans to play pool at Billy's house, and ran upstairs to her room to get ready. She looked in the mirror at her jeans and t-shirt and contemplated changing. She noticed the way the snug jeans hugged her body and her fitted blue t-shirt with it's scooped neck showed off just a hint of cleavage. She smiled, pulled her hair up in a sloppy knot behind her head and pulled out some strawberry lip gloss.
Mary grabbed her black hoodie and ran back downstairs to slip on her boots. As she finished tying them, she heard Billy knock at the door. She threw her sweatshirt on and yelled good bye to her mom as she opened the door and stepped out into the cool late winter California sunshine. She followed Billy to his truck and hopped in to her seat. Yanking the door shut, she smiled at Billy as she buckled her seat belt. He smiled back and started the engine before pulling away from the curb without a word.
As they sat on the little bench inside the front door to remove their shoes at Billy's house, Mary noticed several pairs of slippers lined up underneath it on the floor. Billy pulled out a small pair and handed them to Mary.
"My mom bought some guest slippers.. since your feet were cold last time you were here. She wasn't sure what size to get.. I just told her you had really small feet." Mary blushed a little, touched by his mom's consideration. She turned the slippers over and found the size 7 circled on the bottom.
"These will work." She said smiling.
"Are they the right size?" Billy asked.
"No, I wear a 6. But these will work fine." she answered.
Billy walked to the entrance to the family room and kitchen and informed his dad that he was home then lead the way upstair to his room with Mary following.
Billy's room was at the top of the stairs. It was a large room with double doors. There was a full size bed to the right and a desk to the left. Behind the open double doors, between the bed and wall, there was a small pool table. It wasn't a full size table, but it was a pool table. Billy shut one of the doors so that they would have better access around the table. He reached for the cues that were in a small closet and pulled out a rack of balls as well. He handed her a cue as he set the balls on the table.
"Yeah.. it's a small table. But I have regular sized balls." Mary could see him rethink that statement as he lifted the rack. She giggled a little and he made a face at her. "Oh, you know what I mean.."
They didn't talk a lot as they played.. and when they did it was mostly immature jokes about hitting balls with sticks and having bad aim when it came to 'getting it in'. Billy was more than happy to give her a few pointers again as he had the night of the dance. Mary noticed that he pressed a little harder against her when he'd reach his arms around her to help her position her hands on the cue properly.
Mary really liked Billy. She liked everything about him. And she was still a little surprised that such a nice 'good' boy had taken an interest in her. She began to think about her last boyfriend.. thinking about how far their relationship had gone, and how much trouble they'd gotten in. She wondered how much she should share with Billy.. and when.
"What's the matter?" Billy said, noticing her sullen look.
"Nothing..." she answered distantly.
"Liar." Billy said, giving her his usual half smile. He walked around the table and stood close to her, putting and arm around her waist. "C'mon.. what's wrong? Did I say something stupid?"
"No," Mary laughed. "No. I'm having a great time. I really like hanging out with you." she said, smiling at him.
"I like hanging out with you too." he said as he leaned closer and kissed her. Mary was a little surprised at the suddenness but melted into his arms as he pulled her closer. "So what's wrong?" he said as he looked down at her face.
"I don't know.." Mary said, her eyes wandering away from his gaze. "I guess I'm just afraid you won't like me so much when you get to know me." she said quietly.
"Why would you think that?" he said, sounding a little surprised.
"I'm just.. I don't know." Mary stammered. "You're a really nice guy.. and I.. well, I'm not as 'good' as I might seem." she said giving him a shy look.
"What do you mean by that?" he asked giving her a doubtful look.
"Well.. I.. I've had a lot of boyfriends." she said looking at her feet.
"Okay.." Billy said. "What's wrong with that?"
"Nothing.. I guess." Mary said quietly. "I guess it's just what I've done with them that's bad."
Billy stepped away and looked at her. He had a serious face, as if he was trying to assess something. Trying to determine it's value. Trying to determine her value.
"Does this have to do with that guy you were dating a few months ago?" he asked.
"I see. So is there something you're trying to tell me then? You have me pretty confused here..."
"I guess.." she said hesitantly. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She looked Billy in the eye and said, "I'm not a virgin."
Billy thought about that for a moment before responding. He reached for his pool cue and took his turn while Mary stood watching him. She had a sinking feeling inside, like she had just flushed her chances with this boy down the toilet. He stood again and looked at her. His face softened and he smiled.
"Okay." he said.
"That's it? Just 'Okay'?" Mary replied.
"What do you want me to say? 'Well I am a virgin.'? I mean.. nothing I really can say to that, is there?" Mary nodded and reached for her cue. She looked at him again, before lining up her shot. He smiled again. "It's okay, Mary."
During the ride home, Billy was his usual silent self. Though not smiling so much. Mary would have given anything, once again, to get inside his head and hear his thoughts. His lack of reaction bothered her and she wished he would just tell her how he felt. She couldn't help but feel that what she had told him had somehow changed things.
After their dance date, Billy had asked Mary out. She really liked him and her brother and his girlfriend thought they would make a great couple. They urged Billy to ask her out, and so he did. She loved to tease him that he'd been 'talked into being her boyfriend'. They had hung out a couple times. They'd gone out with her brother and his girlfriend, gone to a movie with a group of friends from band. He seemed to really like being with her, and she felt like they were growing in their relationship.. despite the fact that he rarely called or initiated outings. Now, she wasn't so sure of anything. And she feared that she had just snuffed out whatever small flame there was between them.