SE Hinton owns The Outsiders. All rights belong to her.

Sandy's Saga

Chapter 1

Hot Dogs and Hamburgers

XXX

"Hey Sandy...oh, honey, you ain't looking so hot. You feel okay?"

"Hey Jane," I said, feeling the dampness on my forehead. I took a deep breath and steadied myself. "Yeah, I'm fine. I wouldn't recommend eating the hotdogs in the cafeteria today though."

"The hotdogs? Darlin, I wouldn't eat anything those so called cooks wanted to serve. Why are you eating in there anyway? I thought that man of yours was taking care of you."

I smiled. "Usually he does, but he's cutting again and wasn't around."

"I don't know what you see in him, Sandy. I mean, yeah, he's eye candy for sure... but … other than looks, what is he?"

"Oh give him a break. He's sweet to me."

"Of course he's sweet to you," Miranda added, overhearing and added in of her own volition. "You're giving him what he wants, of course he's gonna be sweet to you. Say 'no' once or twice, see if his attitude doesn't change."

For that, I hated Miranda. Sort of. For one thing, she had no idea how far Soda and I had gone, all she had was speculation – which was wrong. Second, most people judged Sodapop as being dumb, which he wasn't. He was skipping school again to help his struggling family, and while I didn't approve of cutting class just to cut, I certainly understood given his situation. Miranda, I thought, was jealous. Soda treated me great and she couldn't stand it. She'd been burned one time too many, trusted no one anymore as a result, and would cut anyone to the chase in a heartbeat. But about Sodapop, she was wrong.

"Miranda, you don't know nothing about Sodapop, so stay out of it."

She grabbed her books, slammed her locker shut and left.

"So, you okay?" Jane asked again. I nodded, grabbing my own books and headed to class as well. I only had a few minutes before the bell rang, and didn't need another tardy on my record.

*

"Hey sweets, how's your day?" Sodapop asked, kissing me on the cheek. The DX looked steady, a car at the pump and one or two in the service bay. Steve poked his head out from behind one of them and waved, I lifted my head and nodded back. The throngs of admirers hadn't shown up yet, but I was sure they eventually would.

"Tiring. I hate calculus. Mr. Deets is straight from the devil." I adjusted the heavy bag on my shoulder, knowing that if high school didn't kill me outright, it would definitely kill my posture.

"Never had the pleasure of Calculus, but I did have Deets for general math. He was a bear then too."

"You'd think he'd soften with age," I murmured, pulling my bag higher again.

"Here, why don't you go on in, sit down a moment and get something to drink. I got these cars to finish, then I'll have a few minutes where you can tell me all about it." He gestured to the office where I went willingly, looking forward to the stolen Coke I was knew I would take, and maybe a Hershey bar too while I was at it.

A bit later, as I was sucking the chocolate off my fingers, the back door opened and Steve came in.

"Hey Sandy. Say, you and Evie still planning to have a girls night out this weekend, or are we guys allowed to crash the party?"

"I think Evie's got it all planned out, and no – I don't think it would be wise to crash. You don't want to be on her bad side again."

"Boy, don't I know it."

I stifled a grin, remembering a few months ago when me and Evie, Jane and Lisa had planned to go out together, just the four of us without our steadies; when Steve and Soda and their accomplices crashed. We'd just finished slapping some crazy cucumber concoction Jane had read about on our faces, designed to make our skin "model perfect", when in burst the boys, laughing it up at how we'd looked. Evie – who had the most of the cucumber paste on her face and her hair up in a towel, was so angry, I could swear I saw steam coming from her ears. For a month solid, she wouldn't speak to him; and it was only after the third bouquet of flowers that she finally broke the silent treatment.

"Hey baby," Soda murmured as he came in, the adoration in his eyes and the smile in his lips making up for the constant smell of gasoline and grease that hovered around him. He grabbed a drink for himself and gave me a kiss as he settled in next to me in the office chairs set aside for waiting customers.

"You'd better be careful, Soda. Boss man does count those, ya know."

"Yeah, I know," he grumbled getting back up, depositing two dimes in the tin cup to pay for our drinks. I'd tell him about the chocolate later. "So, you and me this weekend?"

"Sorry, it's another girls night out sort of thing." He rolled his eyes, the disappointment obvious. In truth, I'd rather spend it with him any day over hanging around a bunch of girls, even if those girls were my best friends. They tended to get a bit giggly though, when it was just the four of us.

"Looks like it's gonna be you and me again this weekend, Sodapop." Steve went on, reaching for some box on a shelf on the other side of the room. "Maybe we can drag ol'e Dally and Darry out to the pits, see some racing or something."

Soda blinked. "Yeah, maybe." I doubted Steve had noticed the way Soda's fingers were trailing around my knee. If Steve hadn't been there, I wondered how far his fingers would have gone. His eyes, like mine, were dancing.

The bell outside rang, and sounds of feminine voices rushed inside. The throngs had arrived, and as Soda adjusted his cap, I grabbed my bag to go.

"Later?" Soda asked, leaning in close. I could never deny those eyes.

"Anytime." I answered.

*

"Sandra, phone."

"Thanks, dad." I grabbed the upstairs receiver, wondering who was calling. "Hello?"

Downstairs, I heard the click of the receiver as Dad hung up, and Soda spoke. "Hey sweets. I miss you."

Automatically, I slouched. He always made me abandon my guard. "Hey yourself. How was work?"

"Oh, you know; fill-ups, tune-ups, and a whole bunch of clean-ups. How was the rest of your day?"

"Nothing too crazy; just the first World War, something about gravity, and to top it off, volleyball."

"Oh yeah, that could be bad. Wanna go out?"

"Now? Are you serious?" I hissed, thinking my parents would kill me if I even asked them.

"Sure now."

"I can't!"

"Why not?"

"Because.... we haven't eaten yet."

"No problem. I haven't either. Burgers on me, my treat."

"Soda! It's late, you know my folks would never approve."

"I'll ask them myself. Promise to have you home in plenty of time too."

I hesitated. "Why haven't you eaten yet? Doesn't your family usually eat by now?"

"Yeah, but it was Pony's turn to cook, and he forgot to defrost the meat. We ended up having cereal. I'm sorta, well, still hungry."

I couldn't help but giggle, trying to picture Soda's older brother being satisfied with a bowl of Cocoa Krispies after a long day of hard work. "Darry can't be pleased."

"No, he ain't all that pleased at all. He'll live though. So anyway... how bout it? Burgers?"

I nodded, forgetting he couldn't see me. "Sure, you wanna ask my dad... go right ahead."

A short while later, the doorbell rang and I heard someone answer it. Acting like I didn't know what was going on, I made my way down the stairs, the butterflies alive in my stomach hoping Dad would let me go.

"Evening sir. I was wondering if I could take Sandy out for a bite to eat."

"It's rather late, Sodapop. Sandy has school tomorrow, I don't want her out late. Better you postpone..."

"Ted, let them go."

I felt a little better, at least Mom was on my side.

Dad gripped the door tighter, not liking Mom's interference, but he relented. "As long as you will have her home by nine, and not a minute later."

Soda grinned, nodding. "Of course, sir. Is there anything I can bring back for you or your wife?"

"No thank you, son. You two have fun." Mom came out of the kitchen and practically shut the door on us. I took the hint and grabbed Soda's hand, leading him away. Once in his truck, he looked over at me.

"What was that all about?"

"Mom is a bit more forgiving when it comes to me being out. Dad … not so much."

He rested his hand on my knee, his thumb making small circles on the inside of my leg. Once we'd left my street, he pulled over.

"What are you doing?" I asked. He looked at me, his eyes teasing.

"Well, I did bring you out for hamburgers, but I also wanted to kiss you too," he said softly, leaning closer.

"Kiss me? You haven't asked permission for that yet." I teased back. Considering how far we'd gotten, kissing was tame.

"Permission? Fine...." he mumbled, nibbling my neck. "Can I kiss you?"

"I don't know," I answered, remembering what my English teacher had said. "Can I" questions the ability to do something, whereas "May I" asks permission. "Can you?"

"You're killing me over here, Sandy," he growled, nipping my collarbone.

"Then ask it right, Sodapop." I said, leaning into his body.

"May I," his mouth moved over my neck, "kiss you," his lips grazed my chin. Damn he was good.

"Yeah, you may," I barely answered, his mouth on mine a beat later. His mouth tasted sweet, and for a moment I forgot where I was. The gear shift against my leg made me remember. Panting, I gave a little push and he backed off.

"I missed you," he breathed heavily, moving back to his side of the cab. "You sure you have to do that girl's weekend thing?" His hand was on my leg again, a little higher this time but still well out of range of anything …. problematic.

"I might be able to get out of it, but my parents already expect me to go with them." My heart was finally calming down, but the feel of his hand on my leg was enthralling to say the least. I had to put my hand on his, just to get him to stop with that thumb thing. If he didn't stop that, I'd soon be begging for more.

He grinned and put the truck in gear, heading back out. "I hope so. I've got something special planned, if you can manage to escape the ladies."

*

Calla Lily Rose