“Truth or Dare”
The Outlaw’s Back Story Part 3
Elise didn’t figure out that the tall, loose-limbed, Senior Boy’s counselor was interested in her personally. Not for the rest of that summer or for half of the next.
He was older for one.
And classified as an untouchable for another.
That is to say, between Jesse’s gorgeous slicked-back hair, that was perpetually wet from the pool or a recent shower, and his six-foot-one-inch frame sporting well defined thighs and calves, fully sculpted shoulders and arms, along with his athletic prowess, he was the kind of guy that was way out of her league.
He was always kind to her and her friends. Being their counterparts’ camp counselor two years in a row, he knew all of them inside and out. In fact, he had saved their asses a number of times from true trouble. Like the time they’d stupidly snuck White Claws hard seltzer into the coolers on their campout.
They weren’t far from the inhabited part of the Forest. The boys liked to canoe over to an island and make their camp on top of some cliffs. But the girls barely made it out the nature trail and past the dog kennels (that were no longer in use) before they plopped down their slumber-party sleeping bags and called it a campsite. They did light a fire and cook hot dogs and made s’mores, but mostly they’d packed prepared food to go with the hot dogs and all sorts of chips and snacks.
Last year, Jenna-Leigh brought delicious fudgey homemade brownies that were said to have pot in them. Elise hadn’t felt a thing. This year Nola got her brother to hook them up with three twelve packs of White Claws in Watermelon, Mango, and Black Cherry, and they’d managed to stuff the individual cans underneath a load of soft drinks in several separate coolers. Not that their counselor Sanny would ever dig deep in an effort to snoop—she wasn’t looking for trouble—but she might want to grab a soda. So when they first started setting up camp, Elise, Charlotte, and Regan switched out the coolers, keeping one hidden back in the woods with all the White Claws and left the others in plain sight by the shared grub. Most of the girls pulled out their Yeti cups and poured themselves a Coke early on, so later, when the Yeti held the banned substance, nothing would look suspect.
Except Goody-Two-Shoes Jesse James always seemed to know better.
Their counselor, Sanny had called him to bring out much-needed toilet paper and some extra trash bags she’d forgotten to pack, but he didn’t arrive until a little after eleven when the fire was finally blazing like they wanted and Elise’s buzz had just hit. They’d all been sitting around the fire on logs, cuddled up in blankets, playing Truth or Dare (and the dares started out robust so everyone was going with Truth at this juncture,) when the bottle spun and landed on her. She took a deep breath but let it out on a grin. There was no Truth that she held which could ruin her.
“List the top five guys in the Senior group that you’d be willing to let get to second base,” Margie read from the piece of paper she pulled out of the paper bag labeled Truth.
“Top five? Lord,” Elise complained. In truth there were only two she’d consider swapping spit with and that was only with a gun pointed at her head. She liked plenty of her male contemporaries as friends. Not one as a love interest. “I’d definitely wouldn’t be being truthful if I had to come up with five.”
“Okay, top three. But yeah, truthfully, if you absolutely had to select three and for whatever reason you had to let them feel you up and not throw up in the process, which three would it be?”
“Oh, man. Okay. So, I suppose I could stomach Neil Holtzman because he’s not an ass and he wouldn’t run off and tell everybody about it.”
“Plus he’s cute,” Lanie piped in.
“He’s kinda cute,” Elise agreed. “I mean, they are all kinda cute, their just … friends, you know. Like, we just know each other too well for anything to be romantic.”
“This doesn’t mention romance.” Margie waved the piece of paper in her hand. “It’s more like if you chose Dare and we dared you to get felt up by three guys, who would you ask to do it?”
Elise burst out laughing just picturing such a scenario. “Okay, let’s not make that one of the Dares people,” she said to the group. “I mean how humiliating would that be?”
“Yeah, we’re not going to make that one of the Dares,” Lanie agreed. “Although I might suggest it for next year’s campout.”
They all howled at that. Because it was the Seniors from the year before who “willed and bequeathed” the bag of Truths and the bag of Dares to this year’s campout. Sort of as their parting gift to the girls that came after them.
“Okay, so who would your other two be?” Regan asked, curious with mischief in her eyes.
And then it dawned on Elise exactly who it would be. She leaned in toward the fire, so they would be sure to see her glee since she was sure not a one of them had thought of this. “John Doub because we all know he’s been there before and he probably wouldn’t think it was such a big deal, and then”—drumroll please—“Jesse James.”
“OhmyGod. Their counselor.” Margie laughed so hard she reared back and tipped backward off the log while several girls jumped up clapping and hooted, pointing at Elise and dissolving into giggles. “Yes!” Margie yelled, scrambling out of the dirt and laughing as she did so. “That is the right answer. Why didn’t I think of that?”
“Why didn’t you think of what?” came a deep voice out just beyond their circle of glee. “And what the heck are y’all carrying on about?”
Jesse James, the very man Elise had just added, proudly, to her Feel-Me-Up List came out of the dark, not only startling the entire group but scaring the ever-living crap out of half of them. Girls took off screaming into the woods. Elise desperately wanted to run after them but she was paralyzed, her heart stopping in her chest and her feet cementing themselves to the dirt beneath her. Her face grew hot and every hair follicle stood up straight proclaiming her mortification. Had he overheard the entire thing? Or, please Lord, had he just happen to arrive when all hell had busted loose?
Please let it be the last.
Oh, please let it be the last.
Jesse chuckled at the chaos he’d caused, heading directly toward Sanny with his bag of toilet paper and trash bags. “Looks like y’all are having a wild time.”
“It was nice and sedate until you scared the crap out of us and turned it into a wild time.”
“Sorry, not sorry.” He chuckled. As Sanny took the supplies to where they were needed, Jesse directed his gaze toward Elise causing her insides to tighten. “Found something of interest in the woods a couple paces out. Wanna see?”
Oh shit. He’d heard.
She stood like a deer caught in the headlights waiting for the inevitable crash.
“Come on,” he motioned with his cute head. “Just you and me. Only take a minute.” He started to back up, watching her as he did. He literally snickered.
Only take a minute? What the hell? Was he actually planning to feel her up in the woods?
When she continued to hold her ground, he barked. “Elise. Come on. Now.”
And without conscious thought her feet did as he bid them, following him, albeit slowly, out of the circle of the fire, out of the safety of her friends, out of the titters that followed them, and oh my God this cannot be happening!
Apparently, it wasn’t happening.
Because when Jesse stopped, her didn’t look at her, he looked down.
At her cooler.
The one with her family’s name printed on it.
The one that housed all the White Claws.
The one that was unzipped and all it took was the flashlight from his iPhone to show off all the pretty cans lounging in ice.
“Save it,” he whispered. “I don’t have to tell you the kind of trouble the entire group would be in if word spreads that Sanny allowed you to have liquor on a campout.”
Elise panicked. “Sanny doesn’t know about this.”
“Of course she doesn’t, but she’s the one who is going to be knee deep in shit if things go sideways. And with pretty underage girls drinking all this, things are bound to go sideways.”
“We are barely a mile from our homes. How could things go sideways?”
“Well, I don’t know Miss Thompson. But there’s an open fire—a pretty impressive one if I do say so—and drunk teenagers stumbling around in the dark, or by an open flame, doesn’t sound like the best idea.”
“We aren’t stumbling drunk.”
“Yet. And as an authority figure it’s gonna keep me up tonight worrying about what the hell could possibly happen if I don’t take this shit out of here and be the killer of all your illegal fun.”
He was cross. With her.
“You’re sorry? How do you think I feel? Here I come all the way out here to do a good deed, bringing you girls toilet paper of all stupid things, and now I’ve got to be the asshole and either turn you in to Sanny, or haul this thing away. And don’t think I don’t realize that either of those choices is going to move me way down your list of who gets to feel you up.”
And then burst into giggles.