I don't know why I'm panting. I'm just walking across the patio to the table closest to the food. Maybe I can pretend, I'm only getting up for food. Yes... that's it. I don't like what Nat gave me and I'm getting something for Glory... and some paper towels.
But I know what I supposed to do.
Tinsel is blissfully unaware of anything out of the ordinary as he sat on the left side of Stony, in perfect range of toppling into the food stand. I gulped. "Why, hello Jennifer! You've grown so big!" Mr. Tinsel commented in his sly Texan accent. "How old are you now?"
I scratched the back of my head and grumbled fifteen. Stony didn't look mischievous. He looked like he was amused.
That scared me. "Honey, why did you pour soda on Glory?" He asked casually. Mr. Tinsel looked up immediately.
"You poured soda on Glory?" I stepped back and looked into Stony's eyes. Leave. He's mine.
"Yea... it was an accident. I just wanted to say hello. I-I'm getting paper towels." I murmured and stepped away from the table.
"Don't bother yourself. Nat already got them." Glory growled behind me. Nat stood at her side, holding a fist full of tissues.
"I don't think I've met this young man." Mr. Tinsel said and stood. He looked up at Nat and stuck out his hand. "Hello, I'm Mr. Walter Tinsel of Tinsel's Landscapes." Nat nodded and smiled. Tinsel crooked smiled and looked at me. Go now. But as usual, I was frozen in place. He gave the shiver a shrug. You asked for it.
"I know... you were the one who sculpted my home's garden, well, some of your men did." He blushed. "I can't get used to all the famous people I'm meeting around here. First Dr. Livingston and now..."
Stony burst out laughing, making me cringe. I stepped back, but he grabbed my wrist. To anyone but me, he looked like he wanted to share a joke with me. Not at me. "Well, the way we met was a strange one indeed. Mary-May didn't tell anybody in the house, there was a stranger walking about and Jenny choose today to go nude on the beach." He laughed harder. But only he was laughing. All were blushing, and all were confused.
"Why were you naked on the beach Jen?" Tinsel and Glory asked, cocking an amused eyebrow. He thought it was any old story that happened when I was... three. Maybe she thought I would be as slutty as her to get a boy.
"It was an accident sir," Nat stammered, thinking Stony was aiming at him.
"Wait, when did this happen?"
"Right before we started this party Mr. Tinsel. She was just laying there legs up, begging to be raped." Now, even Nat knew this was a gross exaggeration.
"She didn't know anyone was there, and except for me, the place was secluded." He near shouted. Stony stood up and nodded to himself.
"I'm not angry at you love, I'm just playing around. But Jenny should know better. I'm just glad you're a good boy." I let out the breath, I had been holding and I thought I would cry. I started to walk away.
Let Tinsel get pummeled. I can't take this. I looked at the bright lights and the happy, full faces laughing. At me.
"Jenny! Jenny?" Nat grabbed my shoulder and shook me. I tried to focus him in my tears, forgetting to wipe them. "Jenny, you know he was playing. I'm sorry he was like that... I think he is pissed at me, not you."
I smiled. "What did you say about cursing?" He smirked.
"Fine, I did. Can I make it up by taking you out?" He blushed and let go of my arm. "Not on a date, like just... hanging out."
I wiped the residue of tears from my cheeks, smiling. "Ok... I...."
"Joy? Is that you?" I turned and looked to see Yoyo half-naked leaning on the living room door frame. "By golly, you've grown! I thought you've let me for life!"
If I hadn't known that Yoyo doesn't drink, she would be the funniest drunk on the planet. She ran out on the porch and hugged me, her soft old skin like a blanket. "Little Joy, I've made a mess." I swallowed and tried to keep smiling.
Sadly, Nat was doing it all for me. "Mrs. Senior Livingston? Um, let me help you inside." I numbly tugged her to the houses, my cheeks burning. Good thing he can't see it.