Between Friends

Summary: After college, Dawn invites Mary Anne and Kristy to spend the summer with her on the California coast. With all three are keeping secrets about their romantic entanglements, it's going to be one interesting summer.

A/N: This is my first fanfic. It's an idea I've been kicking around for awhile, and finally just had to see where it takes me. It takes place one year post-college for Mary Anne, who graduated in four years.

Mary Anne,

I know, I know, it's been a long time since you've heard from me, and I don't really have a good excuse. But I want to know if you're interested in coming out to California for the summer. I'm house sitting for a friend, and the roommates I lined up have all fallen through: Sunny and her partner Asante are going to Guatemala to assist in the mud slide relief efforts, Kimiko got a job working on an organic co-op in Oregon, and Aubrey just got busted for possession. I know you plan to take the summer off before starting your new job, so why don't you come out here? Invite Kristy, too. Tell her there are lots of hot surfer boys here in Santa Cruz, so she can finally get over that guy she's been mooning over for the past year. Think about it and let me know.

Dawn

P.S. Have you told Kristy about you and Sam yet?

I snapped the cover of my laptop closed and placed it on the floor beside me. "I just got an e-mail from my stepsister," I said to my boyfriend, who was on the couch and engrossed in the final inning of a Red Sox game. "She wants me to go out to California or the summer."

"Huh? Sorry, Mary Anne. Hold on just a sec. There are only two strikes left."

I love my boyfriend, but just try to have a conversation with him when the Red Sox are playing. Or the Celtics. Or the Patriots. Come to think of it, any televised sporting event—except maybe figure skating—calls for a temporary ban on conversation.

While I waited for the game to finish, I thought about my stepsister's e-mail. It had been almost a year since we'd last seen each other, at my graduation from Boston College. Dawn lives in Santa Cruz, California, and I'm currently in Boston, although I grew up in Stoneybrook, Connecticut. Dawn, a native Californian, moved back to her home state to live with her father shortly after my father and her mother, Sharon, married. After a couple of years at UC Santa Cruz, she decided college wasn't her thing. The last I heard she had become a certified Pilates instructor. Keeping in touch isn't Dawn's strong suit, though. She'll go months without talking to me or Sharon. Sometimes my stepsister feels like a complete stranger, though when we do get together we're always able to pick up where we left off.

Kristy Thomas is much more of a sister to me than Dawn has ever been. Kristy and I have been best friends since childhood, when we lived next door to each other. We don't see much of each other these days—Kristy lives in Chicago—but we e-mail or talk on the phone almost every day. Kristy went to DePaul University on a softball scholarship; after graduating early two years ago she got a position as an assistant programs director at the YMCA. It's the perfect job for Kristy—she's able to combine her love of sports with her management skills. She claims she hates her job, though. She says the program structure is too rigid and doesn't afford her as much creativity as she would like. I have a feeling her unhappiness has less to do with her job and more to do with her breakup with her long term boyfriend, who took a job in California last year. Dawn is right. A vacation is just what Kristy needs. It's what I need, too. I just finished my student teaching, and will begin teaching psychology to high school students in the fall. A summer on the beach sounds like the perfect way to unwind before I'm thrown into the sea of raging teenage hormones.

The baseball commentators started the final wrap-up. "Okay, what were you saying?" Sam asked.

"Dawn's invited me and Kristy to go spend the summer with her. It sounds like fun."

"A whole summer in California? Sounds far away."

"I know, I know. Would you mind my being away for the whole summer? It's not like we're joined at the hip. Besides, with you studying for the Bar I'll just be a distraction."

"A damn tasty distraction," he said, pulling me in for a kiss. "Of course I don't mind if you go to California. As long as you know you'll be missing out on some fine lovin'."

I laughed. "I think I'll survive." We shared another kiss. "Barely."

"There's just one thing," Sam said.

"What?"

"How are you going to spend a whole summer with my sister without telling her about us?"

Okay, so I've been seeing my best friend's brother. He ended up here in Boston for law school while I was doing my undergrad work in Psychology. For a long time it didn't even register with either of us that we lived within a few miles of each other; Sam was here for a year before Kristy and I met him for drinks during one of her trips out here. I've known Sam most of my life, but he was always my best friend's big brother. When we were kids we sort of hung out together, but once he hit middle school he pretty much ignored us. Which was fine with me, since I'm the world's shyest person and couldn't even talk to a boy back then, much less look at one. In high school Sam and I traveled in different circles, and he was in college by the time Kristy and I were really getting into the social aspect of high school. So it took us that long to reconnect. When we did, I found he was a pretty cool guy. We started hanging out more, meeting for drinks on Friday nights or coffee on Sunday mornings. Last year, while I was getting my teaching credential and he was finishing his last year of law school, we took our relationship to the next level. We just haven't managed to tell Kristy about it.

"I know we have to tell her eventually. I'm just not ready. It's too weird, you know? And the longer we wait, the worse it will be, because you know Kristy will be mad at us for keeping secrets."

"Some secret. Kristy is the only person who doesn't know about it."

"Yeah. That is odd. How in the world has Karen managed not to spill the beans?"

"I threatened to tell Watson and Mom that she got kicked out of Camp Mohawk last summer for smuggling in beer and cigarettes. It was the week Mom and Watson were on their European cruise, and I was the emergency contact. She knows she's busted for life if she tells." Sam tried to suppress a grin.

The news that Kristy and Sam's big mouthed stepsister wouldn't be outing us anytime soon should have comforted me, but there was still everyone else to worry about. Both of our families knew about us, and several acquaintances had seen us together the last time we'd been in Stoneybrook. Sam and I were living on borrowed time. I just needed a little more of it to gather my courage to tell Kristy that I was in love with her brother. In the meantime, I would call her to see if she was up for a summer on the coast.