Ashlee Rox is smart.
Ashlee Rox is beautiful.
Ashlee Rox is talented.
And sometimes, Ashlee Rox is bad.
She’s one Bad Ashlee.
Case in point:
We’re in a Victoria’s Secrets.
In a mall, of all places. (Who goes to a mall anymore?)
She says she wants to try on some swimsuits for an upcoming vacation in St. Maarten. She’s going with her family. Dad’s paying.
Breaking news: I’m going, too.
I’m her boyfriend.
We’re 18 years old. Going on forever.
Quick, bright eyes. Tall, almost statuesque. Long, blonde, straight hair, not exactly in style. Jeans, sleeveless t-shirt and jeans jacket. Quite large breasts; hard to ignore. She carries them well.
I’m not even into large breasts.
I’m just into her.
And she just happens to have them.
Also, not what you might picture as “Bad” Ashlee. Yeah. Looks are deceiving.
Picture me, Ben Jaxin:
A swimmer’s body. Hey, I was on the swim team. For one season. The hint of abs. A head of curly brown hair. Some facial hair coming in. An upper body that can carry a hoodie. A sketchbook in one pocket. Have some artistic talent.
Her Dad invited me on the family vacation, by the way. That’s because, I’m told, he thinks I’m not into girls.
“My Dad thinks you’re not into girls,” says Ashlee, as we enter the store. See-through underwear hovers at the periphery of my vision like a kaleidoscope.
“What would give him that idea?,” I say.
“I planted it.”
“If he believed you were more than my handsome, asexual friend, you wouldn’t be invited.”
I froze in place near the 3-for-the-price-of-2 thongs.
So that’s the play, I thought.
She moved about the store like a force of nature, while I found a quiet corner to do a search on my phone. “St. Maarten,” Wikipedia said. “Half-Dutch, Half-French island in the Carribean sea, famous for its nude beaches.”
Nude beaches? For that, I might keep up the ruse.
“Ben,” she calls out from the back of the store. By the changing rooms. She has an armload of shimmering fabrics.
“I’m going to try these on,” she said.
I joined her outside the changing room door. “Ha,” I joked, “I just read St. Maarten has nude beaches. Why do we need swimsuits?”
“They’re not all nude beaches. Just a few. These,” she said, hefting the suits in her hand, “are for Daddy and daytime. We won’t be near them in sunlight. But at night…”
I tried to visualize. I had not seen Ashlee naked yet. It’s been all classic high school romance stuff, strictly PG-13: texts, phone calls, holding hands between classes, interrupted make-outs. We’ve had the Netflix. Just not the chill.
“Anyway,” she is saying, “Why are we standing out here?”
She opened the door to the changing room, her smile brighter than the neon lights.
“Join me,” she beckoned.
“I’ll need a second opinion,” she said, too innocently.
We stepped inside.
The door slammed behind us.
End Chapter One