Penny was a slut.

That’s as much as I figured when I first heard about her.

Wait, I guess I’d better start this story off the right way. I’m Natasha — Tish, for short — and my twin brother is Victor, or Vic. He’s the all-American sports boy, and I’m just the mousy kid sister, always with her nose in a book.

Our Mom and Dad found out the job he had needed him to move out of our home in North Carolina, to a town in the panhandle part of Texas. Both me and Vic were just turning eighteen (he’s older by two minutes), so the parentals thought it would be a growing experience for me — as I was just finishing my junior year at the time.

Well, despite my feelings or Vic’s, we loaded up and moved to a place called Johnston Station; a mid-sized town, somewhere east of the bigger cities of Lubbock. All things considered, the move wasn’t all that traumatic, really. Johnston had a decent enough array of shops, businesses and restaurants, so it’s not like we were out in the sticks. They had two major highways passing through, and access to a small community college (something Mom liked), as well as a decent-sized golf course in the northern part of town (something that Dad really liked!).

I guess I couldn’t really say I disliked Johnston. What sort of irked me was that in the whole city there was only one high school; Timberland High. With just one school, that meant nearly every teenager was expected to attend, since busing to another out-of-town school was clearly out of the question!

So, within a few weeks after we finished moving in to a neat, two-story town house, nestled in a relatively ‘nice’ neighborhood, Vic and I were enrolled in Timberland High.

Being a one-school town did have its advantages. Literally everyone got to know everyone else, even by first name in most cases. It was also home of the school’s major attraction: the Wolfpack; which was the collective name for all the school’s sports — football and basketball, especially. I quickly learned that in Texas, school sports were a sort of religion to the masses. The good thing about having a one-team town, was that it also cut down on typical school rivalry inside the city — without such male-driven shenanigans, Johnston boasted a pretty good rep for a nice, livable town.

I was at least glad the school had some decent enough activities for me; chess club, a fiction reader’s circle and a passable art program. Perfect activities for me, little Miss Plain Jane. Vic, the handsome devil of a jock, soon got involved with the sports programs; keen to get on the basketball team, since he missed the football tryouts by a good couple of months.

So, with all these positives, you have to ask: what was the negative? For me, at least, it was that gossip was the local plague among the halls of Timberland High. One whiff about something raw or raunchy, and by morning the next day you’d half expect it to be on the front page of the local newspaper! Not that I was worried for my rep. I was too much of a Miss Goody-Two-Shoes to let that get to me. I always got good grades, made sure my attendance with my old schools was near-perfect (hey, we all get sick at times, right?) and wasn’t keen on going out late, drinking or causing a ruckus.

*** *** ***

Not long after I started classes, I made a few new acquittances and friends. One of the first acquittances was with a pair of girls — Taylor and Suzanne — whom didn’t mind talking to the new girl in town. Even if it was someone like me, with my plain looks and none-too-hip fashion sense.

I found out later had their collective finger on the school’s ‘pulse’. That is, they were gossip-filters extraodanare! There wasn’t a slip or dab of dirt that didn’t go unnoticed by these two harpies . . . especially when it came to the boys and girls who were on The List.

The List, as I found out, was an informal way of Taylor and Suze to keep track of the less-than reputable students attending Timberland. If you were a bad boy, a punk, a skank, a jezebel or someone that may have caused a commotion for the faculty, chances are your name was on The List.

It was because of one day, when Taylor and Suze were going over the names on their latest update of The List, that I first learned about Penny. Penny Anderson . . . a nineteen year-old redhead; member of the cheer leading squad, only child of a cotton mill worker father and — as I found out — one of the most maligned names in all of Timberland High.

Rumor Number-One was that she’d gotten into trouble during her frosh-year, which resulted in her being held back for one year. Neither Taylor or Suze were too forthcoming with details on just what happened. Rumor Number-Two, however, they were more than happy to fill my ears with every sordid tidbit and fact . . . chiefly, that Penny was considered the school’s top first-class slut.

Oh, I could’ve felt my ears burn off, as they told me about some of Penny’s ‘escapades’: how she once — supposedly — snuck into the boys shower after one day’s practice, and sucked the cocks Onwin giriş of the entire front line of the football team. Another tale, which had to be true according to Suze, was that the reason Mr. Jacobson — a one-time teacher of higher mathematics — suddenly transferred to a new school in another state, was because he and Penny got caught after hours in his classroom . . . clearly giving her some ‘extra credit’ work.

There was more to be sure, but before too long I got a distinct picture of what everyone thought of Penny. Boys would snicker and make like they were undressing her when she walked by on her way to classes. A few teachers often watched her like hawks; giving her icy glares when she came into the same classrooms I attended.

What was weird though, from my point of view, was that Penny was remarkably cheerful at school. Either she felt no shame at having the onus of ‘slut’ hanged on her . . . or there was something more to this girl’s story. A side I hadn’t seen just yet.

Little did I know, come another four months, that I’d soon find out more about Penny the Slut that I’d never expected to learn, ever!

*** *** ***

It was about that time, try-outs and practice for the upcoming basketball season kicked into full gear. Naturally, my brother Vic was throwing himself into this rat-race with gusto. He was pretty lucky, having been chosen as a guard after the first round of try-outs. I was happy for Vic and he was keen to prove he had the chops to make first-string for the Wolfpack.

Vic certainly had the physical ‘chops’ for the game. Tall, with a body made fit by swimming, cycling and a few track sports in his elementary and early high school years, Vic was a dream come-true to the Timberland school’s b-ball coach. Add to that his easy-going attitude — nothing ruffled my brother, serious! — and the easy way he made friends and formed lasting relationships . . . .

Well, is it any wonder Vic was soon on the lips of every jock, fan and swooning girl at our school when the pre-season games were played? Combined with a good team effort, the Wolfpack was well on the way — with Vic’s help — to becoming a rising star in the district’s league.

It was during one of his late-day practices with the team, that this whole deal concerning Penny came about.

I had finished all my class work for the day during my last period, so I came by the gym to watch the Wolfpack players practice. Finding a seat in the bleachers, I soon caught sight of Vic on the hardwood. Vic was pretty easy to single out from the rest, if for the fact of his naturally tan skin and short lemon-blond hair (the former from a distant ancestor of Mom’s who was part-Native American, the later from our Dad, who had the same hair color). Add to that his rugged face, with a aquiline nose, firm lips and a pair of jade-green eyes . . . well, even I had to admit, Vic was a striking difference from the local boys. He was wearing the school’s basketball uniform — with it’s signature maroon, gold and red colors, complete with a snarling wolf’s head — working on accuracy drills with a few others. He was chucking away three-pointers like clockwork, concentrating on what the coach was saying as he moved up and down the line.

If you have to know, I’m somewhat a near opposite of Vic: short black hair, almost always kept in long waves to the middle of my back; fair skin with just a hint of peach highlight and bright brown eyes. I’m also a foot shorter than him, but that doesn’t stop me from boxing his ears in once in a while (hey, us younger sibs have to let the older ones know who’s boss!).

Sitting there on the metal seats, I called out to Vic from time to time as he worked around the floor. It was cool to seem him smile back, since he and I weren’t all caught up in the ‘hate-you/hate-you-worse’ cycle most sibs were in nowadays.

It was after one time, when I cheered his sinking a basket from half-court, that I first realized I had some company on the bleachers; as a voice said, “Wow, he’s really good, isn’t he?”

I said, “Well, he’d better be . . . after all, he’s been practicing all his life,” I said, not taking my eyes off my brother.

“Cool, you’ve known him that long?”

Snorting, I started to turn around to face this person, saying, “Well, yeah, he’s my . . .bro-ther–.” I stumbled to a stop when I saw who was sitting there. Yep, Penny Anderson. In all her perky glory, dressed in the sleeveless sweater top, pleated skirt, knee socks and white sneakers that made up the school’s cheerleader outfit. She was clutching a backpack to her chest, while she smiled at me . . . a smile that, I only barely realized later, was something bright, yet fragile.

“Oh, he’s your brother?” She glanced back out towards the gym floor. “Wow . . . he’s something else. I heard a couple of the girls on my squad talking about him. How Coach Howard was practically drooling when he first tried out for the team.”

“Um, yeah . . . so I’ve been told,” I replied. I wasn’t sure what to do or even say, beyond just simple answers. I mean, what sort of conversation does one have with the school slut, I ask you?

Penny twirled a stray lock of her red hair around a finger. “They said he’s got a great vertical reach . . . even better than Brian Cower, the center,” she said. “I never thought anyone could outdo Brian, and he’s been on the team for the past three years to boot.”

Listening to her talk about basketball made me relax somewhat. I didn’t know much more that the stuff Vic talked about at home, but from what I was hearing, this gal clearly knew her stuff about the sport. “Vic did that good?” I asked.

“Oh yeah!” Penny giggled. “Made Brian madder than a bronco for days,” she said. Penny had one of those natural twangs in her voice; not at all forced or fake like you see on movies or T.V. shows. Putting that in with her heart-shaped face and cutie-pie looks — we’re talking button nose, a smattering of freckles, cupids-bow lips and dark hazel eyes — and put that with her curvey, compact figure and the toned legs that stuck out from under her skirt . . . well, she was the epitome of genuine Texas beauty.

As practice went on, Penny proved to me that she wasn’t just some mindless twit as she talked about all of Vic’s teammates; their previous year’s stats, scores and such. That made me wonder again if all the talk about her was just that; talk. In time, I was relaxed enough around her, and her sweet personality that I actually found myself forgetting what my ‘friends’ had said and was starting to like her.

“So,” Penny said during one lull in our conversation. “Does your brother have anyone special?”

I snorted. “Who, Vic? The boy practically breathes, eats and sleeps sports.” I shook my head, even as I looked over at him — now just joining the rest of the team as the crowded around the exit to head to the showers. “If he ever had a girlfriend . . . well, he’s kept that a pretty good secret from me and our parents.”

Penny nodded. “So, you’re pretty sure he doesn’t have a girlfriend?” she drawled.

“Yeah, I guess so,” I said.

At that, Penny switched gears, seemingly putting that bit of information away as she asked, “Hey, you have Draper’s next lesson notes, right?”

Mr. Draper was our English teacher. “Sure, I keep good notes.”

“Can I come over this week to study? I didn’t . . . really, get all the notes I needed, and I have to pass his class.” She looked a bit bashful as she added, “English isn’t one of my . . . better subjects.”

I sympathized with her, since I had to struggle with English in my early years. Without thinking, I said,”Sure, how about Thursday?”

*** *** ***

Suffice to say, come Thursday night, Penny was at our door within an hour after school was out. I thought she’d show up in her habitual cheerleader gear, but she surprised me by showing up in a short-sleeved shirt, denim bell bottom jeans and open toed flats. The shirt was tied up into a mid drift affair, leaving her tummy exposed under a pair of good-sized tits, and she had her red curls done up in a low ponytail.

It gave Dad a good case of whiplash, when he saw her walk past the den with me on our way to the kitchen. God, I thought Mom was going to bean him with the handle of her broom for ogling Penny, but when she laughed and told him to put his eyes back in his skull.

Penny and I tucked ourselves into the notes at the kitchen table; pouring over the usual stumbling blocks of sentence structure, grammar and usage. We were so into it, we never heard Vic come in, fresh from his last practice. I only glanced up at the last moment, watching him fly through the kitchen however; barging through on his way to the fridge. “Hi, Mom, Dad! I’m home,” he said, not seeing the two of us as he snagged a soda and apple on his way out.

Penny however, clearly noticed Vic’s exit, as she’d stopped replying to a couple of questions I was drilling her on.

“Hey, Penny?” I gave her arm a nudge. “Penny? Hey, Ms. Anderson!”

Shaking herself, Penny blinked then looked at me. “What?”

“I asked you about the proper use of a colon,” I said, chuckling as she blushed.

“Sorry . . . I guess I was distracted.”

“Hm, by my brother?” I just smiled at the blush that filled Penny’s cheeks; making her freckles stand out. “Don’t sweat it. Come on, let’s finish this.”

We got through all of the notes by the time Vic came back downstairs a half hour later. He’d showered again and changed into jeans and a casual, button-down shirt, with his hair combed over, still damp. When he got to the kitchen door, he froze when he saw Penny for the first time.

“Oh, hi . . . um, didn’t know sis had a friend over, Tish.”

I looked at Penny, and she was all flutter and smiles. “This is Penny, bro. She needed to study my notes from Mr. Draper’s. Penny, this is Victor, my older brother.”

Ambling over, Vic thrust his hand at her with a smile that looked three-parts friendly and one-part smitten. “Hi. I think I’ve seen you before . . . you’re on the cheer-squad, right?”

Putting her small hand in his, Penny just blushed all the more before returning his gaze.. “Yeah, Varsity. I’ve watched you practice with Coach Howard’s boys,” she offered. “You look good . . . out there, on the court, I mean.”

Vic chuckled. “Well, I’m only trying to do my best, and not upset the rest of the performers on the team.”

“Ah, well, that might be good for them,” Penny said, before ducking her head a bit. “Geez, what time is it? I promised Daddy I’d be home before too long!” She started scooping her books up into her backpack. “Thanks for the help, Tish.”

“Not a problem,” I said. “Feel free to ask me anytime, if you need more help.”

Penny grinned. “Oh, you betcha!” Stopping before she turned to go, she looked up at Vic and said softly, “It was . . . nice meeting you, Victor.”

He nodded. “Just call me Vic, ‘kay?”

“Okay . . . Vic. I’ll . . . remember that.” With that, she waved at me, heading for the front door as quick as her feet could carry her.

I giggled softly, but something was touching of a flag in my head. She’s acting pretty damn shy for a reported slut. I thought.

Vic watched her go, his gaze lingering on her passing long after the front door closed. “Wow, she’s a new friend, I take it?”

“Well, maybe,” I said.

Vic turned to me, frowning. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

I shook my head. “Just some stuff some girls said about her.”

*** *** ***

Penny took me up on the offer for help more times than I could have counted on. Not that Mr. Draper was a hard teacher, oh no. Penny had other classes that I also took, so my ability to take good notes and decipher other things teachers told us was invaluable to her. She was a bright girl, but some concepts seemed a bit tough for her to grasp at first, but once she did understand them she never forgot the facts, figures and things we studied.

One thing lead to another, and I found us becoming good friends. Oh, it wasn’t just a one-way street of benefit for Penny. I got some fashion tips from her, and after a few afternoon sessions after studying, I found some of her tips and advice helping me to change from just a plain, mouse of a girl, into a girl who at least showed some better sense when it came to picking outfits. Soon enough, I cast off my old image and started looking . . . well passable, for an eighteen year-old freshman (I didn’t turn a lot of heads, but at least Vic and Daddy thought I was lovely).

More often than not, Penny made lots of time over at my family’s kitchen table, and not just for studying. It got to the point, Mom and Dad started inviting her to stay for dinner, before sending her home for the night. She usually tried to refuse. But two things changed her mind; one, my Mom was a top notch cook, and Penny absolutely loved her cooking. Two, was the fact that, in staying for dinner, Penny got to spend more time with me . . . and Vic.

I was concerned at first. I mean, I was getting to know her better, and Penny did appear to be a wonderful person and a great friend. Yet, that stigma of her being a “slut” seemed to float around her at odd moments when I wasn’t thinking.

I tried to tell Vic this one night, after Penny had left following dinner.

“Do you know what the other kids at school think of Penny?”

Vic had enough sense to blush. “Actually, I’ve heard the rumors.”


“So, what? You know I never put much faith in such talk,” Vic told me, his green eyes flashing with irritation. “I’ve always judged someone on how they are around me, not what other people say. Besides, you’re still friends with her, right?” He gave me a pointed look. “If she was such a bad girl, why do you still let her come over?” Patting me on the shoulder, he added. “Don’t sweat what other people thing of her, sis. We both know different, so why should their opinions matter?”

I sighed. Vic was right. He usually was a pretty good judge of someone’s character. He never suffered fools, liars or braggarts, and I’m pretty certain a loose girl wouldn’t stay too long in his company either.

The longer Penny visited with us, even though she and I stayed good friends, the more and more she and Vic started talking and spending some of our time together. It got to the point Penny started meeting me after school let out — if she didn’t have cheer practice — and coming over to get to studying. That way, when Vic got home from his practice, they had more time free to talk before supper.

I should’ve seen it coming. Vic’s smiles around Penny were slow, easy and full of fondness. Penny for her part lost a lot of early bouts of general shyness, and soon she’d migrated from standing or sitting apart from Vic to sitting next to him on the couch (still with a respectable distance between them), as well as taking the chair next to him at supper time.

Mom and Dad were privately thrilled, since it looked like Vic was finally showing a healthy interest in my redheaded friend. I was still concerned over the fact that Penny — for all that she grew more relaxed around Vic — she still had an air of timidness that puzzled me.

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