uncomfortable sensation of undeserving royalty being chauffeured around by some peasant. I didn’t like it.
We arrived at my house too soon. Heath got out to open my door, and told the driver to wait.
He walked me to our porch, his hand on my arm. He always guided me, as if I were blind. I guessed that was something else they had taught him at military school.
My mother had left the little amber porch light on, but it was hard to see Heath’s face in the enclosing dark.
“I had a wonderful time,” I said, truthfully, but it still sounded dumb, like my mother had told me to say it when she gave me a fresh handkerchief and checked to see that I had bus fare.
“So did I.” He loomed above me, bending toward me swiftly. I felt his lips on my cheek, soft and warm, and pulled away a little. Then he moved his head and kissed me on the mouth.
I kissed him back, but I knew I wasn’t very good at it. I hadn’t had enough practice.
He didn’t seem to mind. He drew back and said huskily, his breath fanning my face, “I’ll see you in school on Monday.”
I nodded, then realized he might not be able to see it. “Okay.”
He lingered, reaching out to stroke my hair, as if he didn’t want to stop touching me, and then ran lightly down the steps.
I leaned against the door, watching, until he got into the cab and it drove away.
* * *
My mother was in the den, waiting up for me, watching the late movie. She looked away from the screen as I came in.
“I guess I don’t have to ask you if you had a good time,” she said. “The answer is written all over your face.”
“It was heavenly.”
“Heavenly, hmm? Well, he seems like a very nice boy. And his father looks like Dana Andrews.”
My mother got up and shut off the set. “Never mind. Don’t make me feel any older than I already do. You’d better get to bed, honey, you have church at nine in the morning.”
I’d forgotten all about that.
I followed my mother upstairs, thinking about Heath, his sudden, blinding smile, his gentle kiss. As I turned into my room and began to unbutton my dress, I knew that I was falling in love for the first time in my life.
Heath called me on Sunday afternoon, about four o’clock. By a miracle, I was the only one home. My parents and Craig had gone to the movies. I talked my way out of it because I wanted to spend some time alone and think; reliving my hours with Heath the night before was a very pleasant pastime. I was surprised when they agreed to leave me behind, after issuing the standard warnings about locking up everything and not opening the door to strangers. My father is convinced that a horde of burglars is going to descend on our house the moment he leaves it. He can never go anywhere without a departing sermonette on safety practices. He almost seems disappointed when he comes back and discovers that we weren’t pillaged in his absence.
When the phone rang, I grabbed it carelessly, thinking it was Barbara. She always lets her math homework go until Sunday, and then calls me to find out how to do it. I should charge by the minute for consultation, like a lawyer.
“Hi, Gaby.” Heath’s voice startled me into alertness, and I sat up quickly, rapping my ankle on the coffee table. The pain shot up my leg and exploded in my brain.
“Hi, Heath.” It came out in strangled tones, as I blinked back tears and fought for control. Why, oh why, did I have to be such a klutz?
There was a pause on the other end of the line. “Are you all right?” Heath asked. “You sound kind of funny.”
Yeah, hilarious. “Oh, it’s nothing,” I lied rapidly, gripping my ankle and massaging it fiercely. “I was just watching a sad movie, and it got to me. Bette Davis, high drama, a real tearjerker.”
He chuckled. “Do you like those old movies?”
“I love them,” I answered. It was the truth.
“So do I,” Heath said. “You know what I really dig? The ones from the forties, with people