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Every Minute
Harper Masterson

It certainly wasn't the first time it'd happened, and Missy wasn't at all certain why she'd felt that this time would be different but she had, and when things had played out the same exact way that they'd played out before, she'd found herself inexplicably hurt and disappointed. Hurt and disappointed because she'd managed to get her hopes up once again, despite the enormous volume of empirical evidence available to her that indicated with a strength that she just couldn't deny that there was going to be no relationship, even as she'd reveled in the fantasies in her head. Not fantasies of the Penthouse Forum variety, involving whip cream and cherries or just plain whips. No, she hadn't even dared to venture that far. Her fantasies were of the more mundane variety. Vanilla even, and if she could have thought of something even more bland, she would have.

Sitting at the movies, dual profiles drawn in grays and blues in the flickering light of the screen, hands clasped tightly between them, palms so hot they could sear skin. Little sneaking glances and just one straw in the Coke because sharing germs seemed somehow romantic. The teasing barely there brush of thigh against thigh, and a tight ball of anticipation settling low in matching abdomens until everything narrowed down to that little space of overwhelmingly enervated flesh.

Walking through the mall and giggling and going in stores that she didn't want to go into but that she went into anyway because it made Torrance happy. And, maybe she'd get something out of it too. Maybe she'd get to be the judge in a fashion parade put on just for one, and maybe Torrence would smile slyly and crook her finger at Missy, drawing her behind the scant protection offered by a thin wooden door for an illicit exchange of kisses and touches made even more scintillating by the prospect of being caught. Maybe they'd walk out hand in hand and Torrance would pay for some skimpy little something and the cashier would glare at them because smudged lipstick and the red flush of arousal would give them away. Maybe Missy would just smile because it didn't matter if this saleswoman didn't approve of her. All that mattered would be the way her fingertips tingled in remembrance of Torr's flesh and the way she could still taste the other girl's strawberry lip gloss on her tongue.

Shooting each other shy glances during cheerleading practice, unable to not notice the play of muscles under barely decent spandex but not wanting to be too obvious about it. Not because of any embarrassment or reluctance for others to know, but because it was fun to have a secret. Because one day they'd tell everyone and then laugh at them for not having figured it out before. Because they were so obviously in love, and all it would have taken was one good look to see it.

Of course, Missy had never really had that before. Not back in LA, where she knew for a fact things were a bit more liberal and open than they were at Rancho Carne High, so why she thought things would be any differentÉ well, she guessed that self-delusion was a healthy tool on occasion. Because without it, things could get far too depressing to even contemplate. She knew she didn't want a life full of meaningless flings and early morning back door exits, which made falling hard for a cheerleader one of the stupidest things that she ever could have done.

It wouldn't have been so bad, of course, if she hadn't been given just enough to base a little hope upon. Barely there smiles and eyes that were too warm to just be friendly and a sleep-over that taught her everything there was to know about Torrance Shipman. And when she'd woken up, fully refreshed and cheerful after only an hour of sleep, with the newfound knowledge of just what, exactly, could make Torr purr, to find the object of her obsession/love on the phone with her asshole airhead of a boyfriend, she'd wanted to cry. But, Missy Pantone, dykadelic star of the Rancho Carne Toros cheerleading squad did not under any circumstances cry, and so instead she smiled blithely and acted like it didn't mean a thing. Acted like her heart wasn't breaking because Torrance didn't even appear to pause long enough to register the impact she'd had on Missy's life. Acted like she didn't want to claw her brother's covetous eyes out, like she wasn't at all jealous of the fact that Torrance fell so easily into his arms.

Consummate actress that she was, Missy put on a stunning performance, proving to one and all that she wasn't even mad that all she got was a sweet little smile and an "It was fun, Miss, but I'm just not that way, you know?"

Because Torrance certainly hadn't felt like she was 'that way' when her nails were digging into Missy's back so viciously that she drew blood and her body was a hot, wet, tight vise around Missy's thrusting fingers. No, not at all.

But she wasn't going to look the fool any more than she already did, so Missy gave her a lopsided grin and a, "Hey, no problem," and that was the end of that. And hey, it didn't hurt when Torrance came around to see Cliff, when they disappeared into his bedroom for hours at a time, because it wasn't as if Torrance meant anything to Missy. It certainly wasn't like Missy was jealous. Certainly not of her brother, who somehow managed to stumble his way into the very thing she wanted more than life itself.

And even as she told herself that she wasn't going to fall into the same trap again, as she threw up steel reinforced walls around her heart, Missy didn't turn Torrance away when she and Cliff broke up, when the scald of Torrance's tears on her skin turned into equally searing kisses. Then when Torr and Cliff made up, and she got another perky grin and another careless, "Thanks,", Missy told herself all that mattered was that Torrance came to her. And, if she'd come to her once, then she'd come to her again, and maybe one day she'd come back to stay. So what if her mind told her not to believe that. Missy never had been all that cerebral to begin with.

Maybe she was a sucker, was a self-deluding and embittered closeted hopeless romantic of the worst kind, but P.T. Barnum said there was one born every minute. Apparently, for once in her life, she'd managed to be first in line.

There wasn't any reason for it. She hadn't consciously decided to be an emotional masochist. It wasn't as if she'd decided one day, just for kicks, to fall for a straight girl who liked just a touch of girlie fun on the side. Nowhere on her list of 'Things I Should Do' could she find the item that said 'open self up to constant torment'.

"I'm glad we're such good friends," had never been a phrase she'd wanted to hear. Neither was, "Things would be so perfect if only you were a guy."

Now she couldn't get them out of her head.

Which didn't explain, of course, why she couldn't seem to move on. Just stuck in the same miserable rut, hating everything and everyone but the one person who probably deserved it the most. Not, not the one person who probably deserved it the most. There was no probably to be found there. Torrance did deserve it, but only as much as Missy did herself. At the very least, Torrance hadn't lied. She'd never made any promises, never pretended to be doing anything other than what she was. It was just a little bit of fun for her, and if Missy got the wrong idea, then that was her problem.

And if Missy broke her own heart, then that wasn't Torrance's fault either. After all, she'd set herself up for a fall, believing in an illusion that was little more than a prettied up lie. It was never going to be her fairy tale. Girls like Missy didn't live in fairy tale land. There wasn't room, not with all the Torrance Shipman's of the world using up all the realty building massive mansions.

That was okay though. Missy was banking on an invitation.