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Final Jeopardy

By nine thirty most of the alcohol was gone, and everyone had a pretty good buzz. Inhibitions lowered and Elize and Randy whipped up some group enthusiasm for the hot tub. The boys stripped down to their underwear while the girls tittered their way to another room to undress. Randy led the guys through the glass door and across the smooth wooden deck. Craig helped him fold back the thick insulated cover on top of the hot tub which smelled strongly of chlorine. Ground lights turned on and the music from indoors was piped outside. The four boys settled themselves into the steaming water and Randy dialed medium bubbles and jets into the control panel. It was a nice clear night, and they could see a fair amount of stars if they looked away from the permanent orange glow of Houston proper. They searched for satellites crawling across the night sky like shining bugs. “There’s one!” Tony rose partially and pointed. “Slow mo meteor,” someone said. “Sounds like a bad band name.” They laughed at that.

“Here come the womens,” Ali said. They had wrapped themselves in bright beach towels from a basket in the guest room. Michelle and Elize led the group, padding softly across the cold wooden deck in their bare feet. Michelle unwrapped first, and the boys became conspicuously silent as Ali rose to help his girlfriend in.

Randy said to Elize, “I have a seat next to me,” and Craig saw her wink at him as she shimmied out of her towel and walked up the steps to the pool’s edge. Her underwear were brightly colored lavender and pink. Craig tried not to stare as she stepped down into the pool and walked through the water to Randy’s side, sucking in her breath from the heat. Janey eyed the pool, which was crowded now, and shivered as she undid her towel. Her skin was almost radiant in the pool lights, dark lines flashing across her stomach and beige-colored bra. She walked down the first step, testing the water. “I don’t want to get my bra wet,” she said, to no one in particular. “You boys won’t mind, will you?” Elize gave a little whoop as Janey turned her back. Her right hand reached up behind her to unclasp the hook and she tossed the garment towards her towel and turned back around. “It was expensive, okay?”

Craig could not help himself as she stepped into the water and he was ashamed of his hard on as Janey swam over and sat in the space between him and Tony.

“Hey, let’s play Jeopardy,” Randy said, playing with the control panel built into the side of the tub. Part of the long living room window flashed and turned into a screen. They divided into three teams, Craig was with Janey and Tony, and the game show host introduced the board. Buzzing in was a bit chaotic, as anyone could buzz for their team simply by shouting out “Answer!” There were a lot of close calls and sometimes the computer gave the question to a contestant that caused the other two teams to cry foul. Janey was bright, and knew a lot of the answers, but Randy and Elize had the most money by the end of the first round. Ali and Michelle were more busy flirting with one another, and were often distracted, only half-heartedly calling out answers when they buzzed in. During Double Jeopardy, Janey answered all the Shakespeare questions, which really impressed everyone. Craig gave her fist bumps and high fives as she swept the category, and when she landed on a Daily Double, their team converged and they agreed to go all in. “Her prosperous father got lost in his books and fled to a desert island.” Craig and Tony held their breath as Janey looked back and forth, a smile spreading across her face. At the last moment she cried out, “Who is Miranda!” Their score leaped ahead of Team Randy.

Craig was feeling more comfortable around Janey and as they all slid around in the tub, sometimes his legs and arms would come in contact with hers. At one point, she pushed against his thigh with one hand to help tuck her legs underneath herself, so that she was sitting a little higher than everyone else, the top of her breasts just underwater. “You don’t mind, do you?” she asked, and Craig felt an intense rush when they locked eyes. It was slowly dawning on him that Janey was at least partially into him. By the end of the game, they were all feeling woozy, and some of them climbed out of the tub.

Randy went to a cabinet in the outdoor kitchen and removed some more towels for the boys. He handed one to Craig and nudged him with his elbow. “She digs you, man,” he said. “You could totally tap that.”

Craig nodded and tried to grin, but his stomach was plunging. The party was heading back inside to get dressed. Soon it was just him and Janey standing on the deck.

He didn’t have much in mind to say other than, “Are you cold?” She shrugged and checked her hair bun, which was coming a little loose.

“Oh, my hair is going to be such a mess,” she said, patting it back.

“Did it get very wet?” Craig asked. Idiot! Lame!

“Just a little,” Janey said, unclipping her hair. It fell around her like a veil, full of boisterous curls, covering her. She walked towards the window to get a reflection, the towel slug low across her back, so that Craig could see her backbone articulating between two bands of muscle.

“You have very pretty hair,” Craig said, and Janey turned around, squeezing out some water from the ends. He caught a glimpse of a tiny nipple and the goosebumps on her skin.

“That’s sweet,” she said.

“How do you hold it together?”

“Like this,” she said, and he watched as she gathered it up, slowly twisting it into a knot and reattaching the clip.

She stepped towards him and he saw that she was smiling as she came closer, as if she knew everything already. When her lips touched his, he felt as if he had been jolted by a strong current from which he couldn’t let go. It was his first time kissing a girl like that, and he didn’t understand entirely why it had happened, only that when the kiss ended, he knew he wanted another. They remained close for the rest of the night, and when the party died down, she slept with him spooned around her on the couch.

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