"There. All set?" he asked, referring to the last of her boxes of books set down on the floor.
"I think so... the bed's set up, all my furniture in, got all my clothes... I should be ok," she said, looking around. "It's a bit bare, though."
"Well, the other girls will be here soon, right?"
"Yeah- they come Monday, I think. Thanks so much, Dad," she said, quickly hugging him.
"Are you sure you're going to be alright? Your first night all alone?" he sounded worried.
"Dad, I've been alone before," she answered, rolling her eyes.
"Still, Nat. I worry," he explained.
Do you? she wondered. Soon enough, he was on his way. It was nine o'clock- they'd gotten such a late start moving her stuff! But she grabbed her phone and texted Henry as promised. Ok, come now!
Twenty minutes later, she buzzed Henry up, who arrived with two paper shopping bags.
"Huzzah!" he said, holding them up. "I come with goods! Gifts to bring the fair lady to adorn her new apartment!"
She laughed, leading him into the small kitchenette. "And what gifts are these?"
He set the shopping bag on the counter and began unloading it.
"Beer?" she raised an eyebrow. "How'd you manage that?"
"My roomate's already 21. And... pasta! We shall have the pleasure of cooking dinner together in your very own kitchen... or, kitchenette."
"It's my very own this weekend. And then the twins move in."
Emily and Erin, the two blond girls she was sharing an apartment with. They were nice, but wouldn't you rather have an apartment to yourself?
"And it couldn't be a new place without..." he smiled wickedly, looking extremely cunning. What had he brought?
He pulled out a small Tupperware bowl and two square containers. "So you can save food and stuff! Like 'Tupperware parties'? My mom always went to them," he said, as though she didn't get it. She just laughed and took the pasta and sauce from the bag, finding the recently purchased pot from the cabinet and filling it with water.
"Huzzah," she said, and kissed him.
She woke in the morning confused as to why she was awake. The clock said ten. It was a Saturday morning on a Saturday that was entirely, blissfully empty. She and Henry had stayed up most of the night talking, and then when they finally did go to bed, they had to break in the new sheets, pillows, and well... Anyway, she didn't get to sleep until very, very late.
So why the hell was she already awake?
But it didn't matter. She just rolled over and cuddled right up against Henry, tucked the covers around herself, and tried to fall back asleep...
Then she heard it. A buzz. Obviously for the second time.
"Who the fuck is that?" she yelled.
Henry sat up, rubbing sleep from his eyes and stretching. "Morning, sunshine. What's got you in such a good mood?"
"Someone's at the door!"
"Well, how rude! The nerve of them!" Henry exclaimed in mock horror, slapping his hand to his mouth in a bad imitation of a silent-movie ingenue. She narrowed her eyes, and he just laughed. "Want me to get it?"
He looked rather worse for wear. Henry slept rather deeply, and so his eyes were all puffy. He was dressed only in his boxers. "No, I'll get it. But I swear if this is some new neighbor welcome wagon, they're getting a door in their faces." She swung her feet out of bed, shivering when they touched the cold wooden floor, and shook her pajama pant leg out, because it was bunched up around her thigh. Grunting, she was almost out the door when...
"Natalie?" Henry said gently. She turned, and he was looking at her carefully. She melted a little inside, knowing how whenever she was in a bad mood like this, he always had the right thing to say, albeit something mushy and romantic. But still.
"You might want to fix your hair..." he gestured his hands against his own hair, pulling the strands out on one side and cocking his head to look at her more carefully. "It's all smashed on one side and bushy on the other-"
She slammed the door behind her. Grumbling in annoyance at the world, she opened the door.
Her father was smiling sunnily at her, standing right next to none other than her mother. 'What the fuck' were about the best words to describe the situation.
"What are you doing here?" she asked in disbelief. Moreover, why were they together?
"You forgot some stuff," Dan said, gesturing to the cardboard box at his feet. "And I called your mom up last night and she wanted to see the apartment, so I figured, why not?"
"Um, well, this kind of isn't the best time-"
"Nonsense, we know it's a mess," he said, barging right through. Diana followed, looking lightly around.
"I love what you've done with the place," she said. "Very..." she kicked at a cardboard box. "... avant-garde."
"Ok. Um, mom? Dad?I really think it might have been better if you'd, um... called..." Or not come at all...
Jeez. It wasn't like she cared if her parents found out she and Henry were having sex. They were twenty, for God's sake. She knew they'd figure it out eventually, if they hadn't already. But preferably by finding her birth control pills in the bathroom or something. Not by having her half-naked boyfriend come out of her bedroom right in front of everyone. Which was what happened a second later.
"Hey, Nat, who was that at the door?" Henry asked, walking right out of the bedroom and stopping dead, his eyes going huge. He involuntarily took a step back.
She actually slapped her hand to her forehead. Why did he have to come out? Why couldn't he just stay in there until she made them leave?
He curled his hands into fists, clenching and unclenching them, his nervous habit. Well... she didn't envy him. He was in the worse position... after all, she was wearing clothes! He stood there, essentially naked, as her parents stared in shock.
"Oh. Um..." he looked at Natalie for help, but she was staring at the floor, biting the inside of her cheek, and counting, hoping that by the time she got to thirty it would all be over. "Hi," he said, waving to Natalie's parents.
Dan, bright red in the face and looking at the floor, waved back in a jerky motion that more resembled a puppet's arm being yanked in the air than a wave. Diana, however, was unruffled. She let out a short, powerful laugh, and then another, until she was laughing hysterically, wiping tears from her eyes.
"'This kind of isn't the best time' well, of course not! Ha!" she tried to stifle her laughter. "I'm sorry- you two are having a..." she giggled, "lovely morning I'm sure, and here we come barging in! Dan- Dan, we're so stupid. If you were a twenty-year-old girl and it was the first night alone in your apartment, what would you have done?" She let out another barking laugh. "You'd invite you're boyfriend over! I did that- don't you remember? You were there."
Kill me now before she goes into details. Or asks for them.
While her mother and her father were sharing moment, she sent Henry an apologetic glance.
"Anyway- well, don't we have bad timing?" Diana continued, elbowing Dan, all buddy-buddy. "So," she clapped her hands together. "We should go now. I'm so sorry to interrupt. Nice apartment, sweetheart. And glad to see it's in... good use." She laughed at her own joke. "So I'll see you both soon, then?" She walked over and hugged Natalie, and was about to hug Henry but then restrained herself because he was only wearing his underwear. "So, bye! Time to go. 'Kay, Dan?"
He gave a jerk of a nod, and with that, they took their leave. But they didn't close the door all the way behind them, and Natalie could hear her mothers voice all the way down the hallway. "So what if she has sexual urges Dan? Everyone does! I'd be more worried if she didn't have them! Don't you remember what it was like to be twenty? Oh, it was great! And to be honest, Henry's adorable- I wonder how it is for her? Aren't you curious? Come one! It's no surprise they're having sex- I knew it all along. I bet they've been doin' it for years-"
She closed the door sharply, then locked it. Turning mechanically back towards Henry, she walked like a zombie to him, and then leaned against the wall, sliding down into a heap on the floor. Immediately, Henry slid down next to her. They sat in silence, staring at the wall for a second, before Henry made a turtle with his hands.
"Awwwk-wwwwwaaaaarrrrddddd," he said in a constrained voice.
Something broke- she couldn't help but laugh. "So awkward!" she said, laughing harder and harder until her stomach hurt. "Did you see my dad's face?!"
Henry laughed too, shaking beside her as tears leaked out of her eyes.
"He couldn't even look at me!" Henry said.
"God... this is just the best story ever," he said.
"I know... and seriously, it wasn't so bad... they left faster. Maybe you should just hang around here without clothes on like all the time, so when my parents visit, they'll just leave again."
"As appealing as the being naked in your apartment all the time part sounds, I think they'd eventually get used to it. I don't know if they'd enjoy the sight the way I know you would, though," he teased. "Me and my muscular manliness."
She snorted. "Right."
"Hey!" he said, slightly offended. "I have some muscle."
She thought quickly of something that had muscle but didn't make you strong, and blurted it out. "Yeah... um... in your tongue."
He laughed so hard that he snorted, leaning forward. "THAT'S. WHAT. SHE. SAID. Oh!" He reached for a high-five, but she denied him.
"You are so immature."
"Come on, you walked into that one."
She didn't admit that he was right.
Later that afternoon, as she was unpacking her clothes and Henry was helping her move stuff around, her phone rang. Crap. It was her dad.
She held up a finger to Henry, who turned down the music they were listening to.
"Hello?" she asked, cringing already.
"Hey, Nat..." her dad said, already sounding awkward. Why did he have to call?
"I... um, well I wanted to talk to you."
"About... well... you and Henry are having sex."
She cringed even more. Joy. "Yes."
"Are you being safe?"
Ahhhh! "Yes, dad. OK? And we're adults and we're very mature about this," she made a face at Henry who was pointing and laughing, obviously glad it was her on the phone and not him, "and it's frankly not anyone's business-"
"You're my daughter-"
"Dad! Stop, ok? I said we're being safe and I don't know why this has to be an issue."
He was quiet.
"Is it because you feel like you have to bring it up, because you're my dad?"
"Ok then. Well... um... we're mature adults who can handle this and we're not doing something stupid. Ok? And I'm not pregnant, for that matter."
"You better not be," he warned, but she rolled her eyes.
"So...that's that then?" she asked, one finger already on the 'end' button.
"How old were you? When you did it for the first time?"
"I just mean- you weren't too young, were you?"
He sounded like he thought any age was too young.
"We weren't in high school if that's what you mean."
He breathed an audible sound of relief.
"So... can this conversation be over?"
"Yes," he said almost before she was done with the sentence. "Bye, Nat. Love you."
"Loveyoutoodad," she mumbled out, hanging up the phone, and leaning over to bang her head against the couch. She heard Henry laughing from across the room, and it had never annoyed her more. She reached blindly for a pillow, and threw it in the general direction of the sound.
"Hey!" he said, sounding offended. But he'd stopped laughing.