mature content in this chapter.

Duncan wasn't necessarily an organized person, but he wasn't completely disorganized either. Schoolwork littered the desktop of his laptop just like it used to remain crumpled at the bottom of his backpack covered in dirt, apple juice and scribbles when he was a little boy. But, he was organized about the things that he cared about. His piercings were all removed and cleaned very regularly. He was meticulous after getting a new tattoo- making sure to keep it moisturized and covered. He has a process for his woodworking, never starting a new project before finishing the last one and he kept his tools locked away in a toolbox from his grandfather. Even his vape cartridges were organized by frequency of use, nicotine level and flavor profile. Courtney even swears she saw him working on a dream car spreadsheet one day in history class. So, it was only a little surprising to see that Duncan had invested so much to make this moment special. Before he left for Swirlie's, he stacked two towels on his desk next to three non-latex condoms that had been taken out of the box for ease of access. On his nightstand were two bottles of Courtney's favorite mineral water, his fully charged wireless speaker (the playlist had been curated with acoustic instrumentals of all of their favorite artists) and a picture of the couple that Duncan's mom insisted on having printed and framed.

Duncan didn't think much of the photo that he sent his mom this summer. He just wanted to show off his new girlfriend. It was one of those summer days that blended into yesterday and tomorrow. Duncan and Courtney were hanging out with Geoff at his pool. Amazingly, Geoff is never a third wheel. He blends in seamlessly to any dynamic and never makes couples feel out of place for enjoying each other's company. In between Geoff telling Courtney how long his friend had a crush on her and Courtney advising Geoff on better logistics for legendary parties, Duncan realized he hadn't sent his mom the picture of the mystery girl he had talked so much about. Courtney was currently sneaking in a few pages of the novel she had been inching through all summer. She had a soft spot for cheesy romance novels, and this one was about a princess who had fallen in love with her valet who was also secretly a dragon.

He stared at her as her wet fingers dripped on each page of the small paper book. Her natural curls were slicked against her neck- Duncan wished he could just be a strand of hair. The freckles on her shoulders are even darker, her skin glowed even more to Duncan. The electric purple bikini top, that Lindsay insisted she borrow, didn't hurt either. She read the pages with fervor imagining that her boyfriend was the blue scaled dragon-man and that she was the scared and aroused princess that was becoming entwined with his reptilian body. Courtney forgot that she was in the pool, she imagined she was riding the waves of ecstasy in the midnight sky the only light being the sparkling, glittering stars. She was so enthralled she didn't notice Geoff creeping up with a phone in hand after Duncan motioned him over to grab his phone and take a picture of the two in the pool. She also didn't notice Duncan wrapping her in a hug from behind and planting a kiss on her temple that was warm and salty from the heat.

The picture was perfectly them, Geoff caught the moment when Courtney transition from startled and annoyed to giggly (which she only really was around Duncan), and Duncan actually being warm and kind (which he was only was around Courtney and his mom, and actually more people that he'd want to lead on). Geoff sent the pic and it took Mrs. De Luca too long to type: "what a beauty, son!" Geoff did a cannonball into the pool and ruined Courtney's book- she never found out the fates of the princess and her dragon lover. But, she looked at the dripping wet guy in front of her. He was trying to hold Geoff underwater and Geoff tried to hold him underwater- and she just laughed at the silliness of it all.

Duncan looked at Courtney behind him before he opened the door of his bedroom. Her face was a bit softer than usual, but her fierceness was still there. He smirked like he usually did- but wanted to triple check the room before she came in. "Wait one sec, princess. I need to make sure everything is right." He dropped her hand and left her in the hallway. Courtney had been to Duncan's house more than he had been to hers. She was familiar with Mr. and Mrs. De Luca and their rules: no eating until after grace and the guest always says grace, remember to flush the downstairs toilet twice, and Duncan's door always stays open. The last rule was imposed after several fights between Mr. De Luca and his son, mainly after the door had been taken off its hinges. But, Courtney the constant rule follower always made sure to adhere to the policies. So, she stood there waiting for whatever surprise was behind that door- and becoming more and more excited that she would be breaking a rule. As she was standing in the hallway, she began to take notice of the things that were hanging on the wall. A portrait of Duncan's parents on their wedding day was hanging slightly askew, to the right of that was a family photo of the parents and their three boys- Duncan had to be about eight or nine in the photo, he was so small and missing a few teeth. To the left of the wedding photo was a picture of the three boys all in the bathtub- the oldest had to be six, Duncan looked to be three and the youngest De Luca was no older than a year. Courtney smiled at how tiny her boyfriend was, but then she noticed something; right on his bottom was a small brown birthmark. How had she never noticed that?

The door creaked open and startled Courtney. "Court, you really gotta get less jumpy. I could never take you out lawbreaking." She rolled her eyes and he laughed. She followed him into his bedroom and was shocked by the transformation. Covering the room in a warm, flickering, orange glow, a candle burned. The room was the cleanest she had ever seen, and she almost didn't want to disturb the fresh vacuum tracks in the carpet. A blanket was draped over the bed upon it were two spoons and a jar of the peanut butter and jelly blend. Duncan had gotten his girlfriend into the habit of eating the mixture straight from the jar. She smiled at the sweet scene and shyly walked to the bed.

"Don't act like it's your first time here, Court." Duncan said his face lighting up from the television's glow while scrolling through the movies searching for the newest Chris McLean production "The Boney Island." He patted the spot next to him on the bed. "If you sit here, I can protect you from the murderers in the movie that you're so scared of," he laughed. She rolled her eyes again.

"Shut up," she said as she sat down on the bed. Her eyes flashed to the door- closed for once, they usually flirted with danger having full makeout sessions when his parents were home and the door was wide open. She fiddled with the acrylic on her nails- as sensible nude pinkish brown. Courtney remembered Heather's joke at the nail salon, "This is the last time I'll let you get this sensible soccer mom nude. Next time you come here you'll have done the deed; you'll have to get something whorish like red." Lindsay just laughed in agreement.

She noticed the space that she had put between her and Duncan. That space was what kept her from jumping in headfirst. That space kept her from acting with reckless abandon. That space kept her in the present, not moving to the unknown future. Courtney hugged herself, for soothing.

Duncan had found the film and turned to Courtney. He noticed the space between them too. "Princess, why are you so far away? You're acting like I'm going to try and fuck you or something," he started to laugh but then realized what he said.

"Duncan, that is why we're here," she replied. They were both so used to the boundary of heavy petting and dry humping, and occasional oral. Duncan softened and grabbed her shoulders.

"Court, we really don't have to do this now," he said staring into her eyes. Her eyes calming him, his eyes electrifying her. The fire had been lit inside of her. She released herself from the self-hug and stuck her hand down the sweatshirt. Duncan's eyes were wide- he didn't expect her to be so hasty. Her hands slipped underneath the cup of her bra, it was his favorite, the dark green one with a little black bow between the cups like a present. She brushed past her areola and grazed her nipple trying to retrieve the surprise for Duncan. She followed the procedure on the other side.

Courtney brandished two miniature bottles of coconut rum, "straight from my dad's mini bar in the basement." She had this smirk that looked to be an impression of Duncan's. He actually smiled, showing off the results of two years of braces that could've been eighteen months if he wore rubber bands correctly. Some of his criminality and spontaneity were finally rubbing off on the rule follower.

"Coconut rum? You want me to drink this straight from a mini?" He asked while teasingly shaking the tiny bottle in her face. Courtney's face knit into what Duncan deemed the 'cute mad face,' the one she has when she isn't actually mad but just annoyed. It consisted of a puckered lips and a slightly furrowed brow- it was the same one she had in preschool and every time that Noah beat her in debate practice. It was the face that Duncan loved the most. She reached out to snatch it back- he held it barely out of her reach. She reached even further and he leaned back. She began to claw toward it trying to keep her cute, mad face and not laugh. Duncan was remembering that there wasn't too much keeping her from grabbing it due to their ten-centimeter height difference. Soon, she was on top of him grabbing her miniature bottle and reaching for his. Their faces were the closest they've been all night.

"It was the only thing that I could grab that my dad wouldn't miss and that you would find tolerable. Unless you wanted to share a bottle of vintage merlot?" She asked trying to put some distance between them but still remaining atop her boyfriend. Sparks shot from her stomach to between her thighs, then following down each of her legs. He felt his underwear tightening. Duncan took his free hand from his side and started to trace up Courtney's back. He made sure to keep his hand above the white sweatshirt that was beginning to show signs of wear from being Courtney's favorite. She longed to feel his strong and skilled hands on her skin. He reached the skin on the nape of her neck and chills formed all over her body. She wanted to kiss him so badly but was terrified of what would happen after the kiss. She was confused because she wanted to be in control but also wanted someone else to take the reigns. The last time she felt this feeble was- well never. This was an entirely new feeling for her. His hands slipped to her scalp getting lost in the air-dried waves. He pulled her into a kiss deep and sure. Courtney was hungry but kept her passion measured. Sloppier than usual she would miss his lips and capture a little of his stubble between the breaks for air. She relished his smell- a base of bargain bin bar soap that his mom bought in bulk every year, body spray that was a match of patchouli and oak and the slight sweetness lingering from his vape pen. She began to twitch feeling the metallic coolness of his piercing amidst the warmth of their lips and tongues. Courtney deepened the kiss and grasped his lip between her teeth, just for a second. Duncan felt himself twitch- he broke the kiss.

He sat up and pulled Courtney to his lap. Remembering the miniature bottle, he ceremoniously untwisted the bottle with a small crack. Courtney's palms were clammy, she couldn't grasp the bottle top on her first, second or third attempt. Her brows knit together as she tried to open it the fourth time. Like a knight, Duncan swept in to save his princess even if it was just opening a bottle of flavored rum. She smiled.

"Salud," she exclaimed before downing the miniature bottle. Her boyfriend followed suit. They both gagged at the artificial flavor. Courtney shuddered at the slight burn as the liquor ran down her throat. She only occasionally drank at parties because her duty was as the designated driver, and the one time at her grandparents' fiftieth anniversary when her dad gave her real champagne instead of sparkling cider, winked and told her not to tell her mother. The warmth began to radiate from her stomach to her fingertips and toes. Duncan pushed himself back toward the headboard that was littered with band stickers and a few practice carvings from his preteen years. He beckoned her over. Courtney laid between his legs and rested her head on his chest. She heard his heartbeat. It was quicker than usual and it matched hers. His breathing was slow and measured as if he was trying to calm himself, it matched hers.

The movie was the average teen almost scary, but intellectual, almost terrifying, but with an underlying social message. Courtney jumped a few times, classic jump scares. Duncan held her tight reassuring her each time. The last time he kissed the top of her head; Courtney thought she would melt. And while they were sitting together, they felt normal. They felt like it was any other night. "Babe, can you pause it? I have to take a leak real quick." Duncan shifted from his position as Courtney's furniture. Courtney remembered how much she hated it when Duncan specified what he had to do in the bathroom.

The hall bathroom door clicked behind him and then Duncan's phone vibrated on the nightstand. Curious about the time and curious about who could possibly be ruining this moment- she checked it. The time was a quarter after ten, not as late as Courtney thought. She wanted to be at Heather's and out of the De Luca house by midnight, so that relieved her. The text message on the screen didn't relieve her. Courtney bit the inside of her lip as she was reminded of the first fight that she and Duncan had, and it was about her.

You see The Boney Island yet? Total snoozefest- no blood, no gore, total bore. Two stars on the Gwen Horror Scale (patent pending).

Gwen and Duncan had been friends for a while: the two dressed the same, liked the same music, laughed at the same jokes and watched the same movies. A mischievous punk and an artistic goth- a match made in friendship heaven. The two hung out all of last winter break ranking the fifty best horror flicks of the last fifteen years for Gwen's blog. She was freshly single from her boyfriend and her parents were freshly single from a twenty-year marriage. It's safe to say that Hanukkah wasn't great at Blum household. Duncan was there as a constant, one thing that wasn't changing was their friendship. That was until Duncan convinced Gwen to tag along with him to Geoff's New Year's blowout.

Everyone that was anyone was there, and he convinced her that it wouldn't hurt to try something other than being the moody art girl for once. She reluctantly agreed. And for a moment, Gwen thought there may be something more than friendship between her and Duncan. Between the glasses of champagne and contact high that she caught, Gwen felt good for the first time since her dad moved out. She felt invincible; no one could touch her right now, especially not the HLC (Heather, Lindsay and Courtney or Head Ladies in Charge as she called them). She saw Duncan across the way doing what looked like arguing with the resident stick-in-the-mud, Courtney. She didn't know that the two bickered to flirt and mask the massive crushes they had on each other. She didn't know that Duncan was texting the violinist during their bloodbath movie binges. So, she didn't know how much it angered her when the pale girl held his face between her hands with dark fingernails that grazed his jaw the way Courtney had been longing too. Gwen kissed him in front of Courtney, next to the punch bowl and before midnight. She remembers the punch bowl because she thought about risking ruin to her satin slip dress and dumpling the blue juice on the gothic girl. Duncan immediately pulled back and laughed, "Gwen dude, what the fuck are you doing?" Courtney remembers being a little embarrassed for her, but also happy that Duncan chose her. The glittery party store crown atop her head felt real at the moment, her knight chose her. She was a princess, in fact, that was the night she got that nickname. The only thing that Courtney doesn't remember is that Gwen spent the rest of the night on the roof of Geoff's house riding the woozy high of some pills someone handed her in the kitchen, all alone.

Their friendship had become a sore spot for Courtney since the two made their relationship official the following Valentine's. A balance had been struck between Duncan and Courtney regarding jealousy and boundaries after a very public fight that involved spaghetti that may or may not have landed on Duncan's head. There were credible but unsubstantiated rumors that the two had a long-standing secret romance going on.

Courtney didn't want to be the jealous kind of girlfriend, but at times she couldn't help it. And matters weren't made better by the fact that she had the jealous type of boyfriend that could get an in-school suspension from punching the new kid for staring at her too long. She also couldn't act like it didn't get her hot under the collar thinking about how animal Duncan could be. She ran her fingers through her hair- just go ahead and tell him Courtney she thought. "Hey Dunkie, Gwen texted you," she yelled so that he could hear her from the other room. She cursed herself for using his pet name, he would know how annoyed she still is by their friendship. But the night wasn't about Gwen it was about them.

Duncan came back into his bedroom trying to size up how Courtney felt- she looked fine enough. He deftly passed by his desk and slipped the condoms in his pocket and moved the towels and water to the ground next to his bed. "You only call me Dunkie when you're pissed," he said sliding back into his spot against the headboard.

Courtney handed his phone and turned to face him, "I'm not pissed. I regretted saying it as soon as it came out of my mouth." His eyes narrowed, trying to size her up in the dark.

He started the playlist before he set the phone to 'do not disturb.' "Good, but I don't want our first time having sex to be angry sex," Duncan laughed. Courtney giggled. Would all of their disagreements big or small be handled in the bedroom now?

"Well, I think it'll be sweet," she said before getting a spoonful of the grape jelly and peanut butter mixture and then offering it to the piece of human furniture she was laying on. Duncan was feeling mischievous and the movie was actually too complex to help him forget his nerves. He stuck his fingers into the mix and rubbed it across Courtney's jaw. "What the hell, Duncan!" She was cute mad again.

"You said you wanted it to be sweet right," he said after sucking the remaining sticky mess from his fingers. Courtney's eyes danced between his eyes and lips. The warmth returned between her legs. She rubbed across her hips and placed a hand between her thighs- the warmth was now heat. Now facing Duncan, she wished his hand was there. His eyes danced from her jaw to her hand at the meeting of her thighs. "What, do you want me to do a taste test?" he asked.

Courtney gasped a little, one because that was the perfect blend of sexiness and Duncan punniness and two because she didn't have to take the lead. She nodded and laid down on the bed. As he climbed on top of her, she stared at him as deeply as he did her. Something was different about these stares. They were darker, they were knowing. Duncan shifted his weight to his elbows and their bodies touched just enough. Courtney felt how ready he was. She reached down to relieve him; he stopped her. "It's about you right now Princess," he whispered in her ear as he pinned her arms against the headboard. His breath was warm against her ear as his lips grazed against the outer edges. Her breaths started to be more shallow. He alternated between nibbling,licking and sucking down to her jawline. Slowly, painfully slow, he licked the peanut butter and jelly from her jaw. Courtney writhed- completely out of control. Duncan licked his lips and then brought them to hers. He kissed her, sharing the comfort of the familiar flavors. The alcohol warmed them from head to toe, and the taste of peanut butter was grounding. "Duncan, let my arms go," she moaned.

He looked up with a mischievous glint in his eye," What's the magic word?" His face was red and a flush had come over her. Her eyebrows were knit together in this whole new expression that he hadn't seen before.

"Please," she whispered remembering that they weren't completely alone. He released her arms; he tangled his hands into her hair and she brought her freed hands to softly scratch her nails across the little bit of exposed scalp. His hair had grown out significantly. What was once a mohawk, flopped in front of his face the bright neon green dye meeting the natural dark locks. Those scratches drove Duncan crazy; he pressed more of his weight against her. His breath was slightly ragged as he came up for air between leaving dark red marks on Courtney's neck. She wanted to scream, but couldn't. She wanted to shout his name at the top of her lungs, but couldn't. She wanted him inside of her then and there but didn't want to rush.

Duncan wasn't rushing things either. He pulled away from Courtney. He placed his hands at the bottom of the biker shorts she was wearing."Can I?" He asked. She nodded so quickly she thought she'd give herself whiplash. The air was ice cold as the dampness between her thighs was exposed; it was like a shock went through her spine. Duncan's fingers were the source. She throbbed against the circles his thumb made. A finger went inside of her, then two. They were strong yet nimble, and in the moment all the shoplifting made sense to her; he was that dexterous. Courtney felt the cold chill of his piercing against her thighs, moving closer and closer to his fingers. She covered her mouth and moaned. He stopped abruptly and placed his fingers in his mouth. "Yeah, tastes sweet enough to me."

He was having fun teasing her and she knew it. "My turn," Courtney was not one to be one-upped- she had that she was just as sexy. That smirk came across Duncan's face. He leaned against the headboard as Courtney climbed into his lap. She ground her hips against his- her heart sank for a moment because she realized how imminent the moment was. Quickly, she recentered herself on who was in front of her- Duncan. She covered his neck in soft kisses, trying to keep calm. She wanted to save all of her energy for the main event- whatever that meant. Courtney pulled away and reached for the hem of the long-sleeved tee he was wearing. Before her was her favorite work of art. Each tattoo worked together to begin to tell his story. She traced her nails across each of the outlines- chills sprang up all over his skin. He needed her at this moment. He touched his forehead to hers. The movie was still playing, the voices of the characters and the eerie score blended perfectly with the playlist to drown out any sounds they might make. Both of their breaths were measured and their hearts raced.

Their mouths were dry, so they finally opened up the first bottle of mineral water. Usually, Courtney would insist on not sharing, but she didn't care right now, Nothing else mattered that the person right in front of her. She stepped off the bed and stood in front of Duncan. "Oh, so I'm getting dinner and a show?"

She rolled her eyes for the third time that night, "You're ruining the presentation, Duncan." He lifted his hands up in defeat. She slipped off the sweatshirt and let it fall to her feet. In one click, her bra fell to the floor. There she was in front of her boyfriend of almost nine months, completely nude and slightly embarrassed. She had never been this type of naked in front of him. It felt like everything was on full display because it was. She covered herself like an imitation of the 'Birth of Venus.' Courtney felt vulnerable, and that was a rare feeling for her. "Ta-da," she said with a half-hearted smile. The glow of the television behind her illuminated Courtney like an ethereal body. Duncan was awestruck. Sure, he had been able to piece together what his girlfriend looked like completely naked from parts that he had seen in person or via sexting, or his imagination. But, seeing her completely bare to him- he was speechless. "Well, Duncan," Courtney's voice was a little hesitant.

"Princess, you are so fucking beautiful," he said as he stood before her, cupping her head in his hands. She pressed her body against his and the nerves melted away. The soft scratch of his shorts against her nude skin did come at a surprise. Courtney stepped away and gestured to the shorts while clearing her throat. "Oh shit, yeah of course," Duncan hastily tried to remove his bottoms. He took the condoms out of the pocket and tossed them onto the bed. Both of their hearts began to race. There they were completely bare to one another. It was really about to happen.

He rushed to place a towel on the bed. Courtney's heart was in her throat as she laid down on it. Duncan hovered above her. "Court, I'd be lying if I said I was about to shit myself right now." He sighed and bit his lip.

She offered a soft smile, "Yeah, I know."

"Do you still want to do this?" He asked.

Courtney took a deep breath and thought back to all of the things she was told about saving herself for marriage. She never quite believed in the actual principle, but it was a rule so she followed it. Duncan felt similarly, but more that this was the one rule that he didn't care enough to break. That was until they met each other. They had never wanted to be this vulnerable, this bare with another person. It was overwhelming- but they weren't scared of the feeling anymore. They were in love. Duncan knew he loved Courtney from the moment he saw her in action during a debate tournament. Everything she said was logical, informed, so hot. It was seeing her so passionate about a cause- that's what made him fall. Courtney knew she loved Duncan the moment she saw him playing with the little lambs after mass. That's when it all clicked, that he wasn't just this walking bad boy trope. There was so much compassion and joy underneath the salt and vinegar he gave everyone else. It was seeing the real side of him- that's what made her fall.

"Yes, I want this. Do you?" She asked.

Duncan nodded and leaned down to kiss her. This kiss was slower, measured. They were savoring every moment before their relationship was changed before they were changed, Courtney watched closely as Duncan rolled the condom on. They both knew what came next. He hovered over her more nervous than he had been the very first time he stole from the dollar store.

Courtney spread her legs wider. She began to list off all of the information she got from friends, online and in the cheesy romance novels she loved in secret. She remembered the princess and her dragon lover. They were in a love that transcended logic and species. She readied herself for the ugliness of it all- the possible bleeding and the uncomfortableness of it all. "Court, can you at least open your eyes?" Duncan's eyes were earnest- kind. He placed a kiss on her forehead, but he was still nervous. She sensed it. He took a shaky breath, "I just don't want to hurt you."

She smiled, and caressed his cheek. The stubble reminded her of the hardened front he put up most of the time despite how soft he was at the present moment. "Duncan, you're not hurting me. We're doing this together, just breathe." They took deep breaths together, following the five-seven-four technique Courtney learned during C.I.T. training. He smiled back.

"C'mon give me your hand," he said entwining his fingers with hers. They decided to go on three. Duncan positioned himself between her legs- almost but not quite inside of her. Courtney wanted to go full force, despite the things she read online about taking it slow. Between deep breaths, they counted together.




Their bodies connected for the first time. It was a surreal feeling, this thing that they had fantasized about for ages was finally happening. Courtney squeezed Duncan harder with each stroke. Breathe, just remember to breathe. She said it felt like someone was squeezing her hand too tightly and pinching her at the same time, but in some weird way, it felt good just a little. He said it felt like, well he was speechless especially given that it didn't last nearly as long as he thought it would. But, it didn't matter they were fully each other's now. And they would always have this moment together. In the moments after, they just held each other (well after Courtney ran clothed in a towel to the bathroom to pee after).

"Duncan, let me see your tongue," Courtney asked," and no, not for that. I'm so sore right now." Duncan chuckled at the fact that she knew exactly what comment he was going to make before he made it. He stuck out his tongue, "It's still blue. Check mine," She then stuck out her tongue.

"Yeah, it is. Sweet and blue," he smiled and pulled her into another kiss. This kiss was a little different. It was more sure. It was unafraid. It was unrushed. It was grateful. It was the new normal. Courtney stood up and walked over to her phone with gentle steps. Almost midnight, she texted Heather to come and get her. "Babe, you know Heather doesn't have to come to get you?" Courtney smiled to herself. Duncan's voice was starting to become extra raspy like it does whenever they talk on the phone too late and too long.

She continued to herself with care, "You need to get some rest." Duncan almost retorted, but the moment needed to remain unspoiled. Time passed the fastest it had all night as they laid in bed trying to finish the terribly boring movie. While they were watching, two characters stuck out to them Emilie and Drew. They were totally Courtney and Duncan. A girl who lived to follow all the rules, and a guy who lived to break all the rules, and of course they fell prey to the perils of Boney Island because you're never supposed to hook-up in a scary movie.

Duncan noticed the headlights in the drive from his window, "Hey Court, don't get scared but you're about to get a te-" The phone pinged before Duncan could finish and Courtney jumped for the final time tonight. They laughed and kissed down the stairs to the front door. Duncan didn't want to let her go. "Goodnight, Princess," he kissed her forehead.

Courtney looked up and smiled," Goodnight, Dunkie." She walked backward to Heather's car, with unopened mineral water and the peanut butter and jelly jar in her hands, only breaking eye contact to open the door,

Duncan lumbered up the stairs, ignoring his little brother's comments about them being too loud. The credits of the movie were rolling and he didn't care to restart it. He blew out the candle and finished the rest of the opened mineral water. He knew that Heather was probably peppering Courtney with all the questions in the world. And, he knew that Courtney would keep it to her chest just for now. He picked up his cell phone from the nightstand and returned it to its normal mode. He sent a text to Courtney:

sweet and...

A burst of blue hearts covered Duncan's screen.