The next day was Tuesday. Jeremy picked up Penny for school right at seven-thirty that morning. "You look very pretty today, Penny," Jeremy said as Penny climbed up into his SUV.

"Thanks, Jeremy. You look pretty good yourself," Penny replied.

"So, Penny...what would you like to do tonight, after I get done with football practice?" Jeremy asked as he backed out of her driveway. "I wouldn't mind going out on a date...I'd have you home by nine o'clock."

"I-I don't know...I guess whatever you want," Penny said, stumbling over her words. She still couldn't believe it, that she was now dating the guy she'd been in love with since her freshman year!

"Do you like bowling?" Jeremy asked.

"I love bowling!" Penny said truthfully. "I even have my own bowling ball and bowling shoes."

"I guess that's what we're doing tonight, then," said Jeremy. "Usually the bowling leagues have the place taken over, but not Tuesdays, Fridays, or Saturdays."

"I know," said Penny. "That gets a little irritating, you try to go bowling and the leagues are in there on every single lane."

As with the ride home the previous afternoon, the ride to school was too short for Penny's liking. Jeremy parked his Explorer in the student parking lot and walked to the school building alongside Penny, who had to hold back a shout of joy when he took her hand.

Susan was at her locker when Penny and Jeremy came walking up, holding hands. Susan's locker was right next door to Penny's. "Hey, you guys," she said as she gazed in the mirror she kept in her locker door.

"Hey, Susie," Jeremy said.

"You guys look cute together," Susan said as she applied some pink lip gloss to her lips. "So it's official?"

"Yep," said Jeremy as he put an arm around Penny's shoulders. "Don't you wish you were this lucky, Sue?"

"I guess I'd rather have bad luck than no luck at all," Susan teased as she got out her history book and notebook.

"Ha ha," Jeremy said, grinning, knowing that his girlfriend's best friend was only teasing. "That's so funny I forgot to laugh."

The three of them went to the common area of the high school, where there were vending machines along one wall and couches and armchairs along another. Some students were sitting in the armchairs doing homework that should have been done last night, others were catching up on sleep.

Jeremy and Penny sat on a couch together, while Susan settled herself down in an armchair. "So I take it you two are going to be going to the Homecoming Dance together?" said Susan.

Penny nodded. "You have a date yet?"

Susan shook her head. "I've been looking, though."

"I could set you up with Danny Hanson," Jeremy suggested. Danny was on the football team along with Jeremy. "He doesn't have a date yet."

Susan sat up straight in her chair. "Danny Hanson? Sure he won't mind?" Susan asked.

"Danny's been wanting to ask you out for the past few weeks," Jeremy said.

"Well, tell him to come see me at lunchtime," Susan said. "I won't bite. Not hard." Susan had a reputation for being a little bit sarcastic and cynical at times.

"We'll get you a muzzle first," joked Penny.

The first bell rang, and books were slammed shut, papers hurriedly jammed in them, and students were jarred awake. Teenagers scuttled to their homerooms.

Jeremy walked Penny to her homeroom, since it was on the way to his. "I'll see you at lunch," Jeremy told Penny as she went into the classroom.

"Seeya," Penny replied, blowing him a kiss.

At lunch, Penny got a pizza and French fries, and got a pop out of the vending machine. She sat down at her and Susan's usual table. Soon Jeremy came walking up with Danny Hanson, who was a handsome guy with dark hair and gray eyes. "Danny-here's Susan, she won't bite," said Jeremy.

"Want to go to the dance with me?" Danny blurted.

"I'd love to. Here, sit with us," said Susan.

The boys sat down with the two girls. Jeremy gave Penny a quick kiss on her lips, and Penny smiled.

"Get a room, you two," Susan giggled. She then turned her attention to Danny, whom she liked all right. "So...what are plans for Friday, other than you playing against Brookhaven and totally wasting them?"

Penny sat on the bleachers and watched as the Midway High football team went through practice. She felt happy, perched up near the press box, wearing Jeremy's letter jacket.

Susan climbed up and joined her. "Looks like we've got dates for Homecoming," she said to Penny. "Danny's pretty cute. Maybe we'll have something going, who knows?"

"You guys doing anything tonight? Jeremy and I are going bowling," said Penny.

"We're going to go shoot some pool after he's done here," said Susan. "He claims he's really good at it. I want to see if he's any good."

"We're having that pep rally Friday during homeroom," Penny reminded her friend.

"I think you'll be the envy of a lot of girls wearing his jacket," Susan giggled. "Jeremy's a really handsome guy...just for some reason I'm not really interested in him."

"Well, that's good right now!" Penny laughed. "I'd hate to think you were my competition there!"

The bowling alley was open at four. It was five o'clock when Penny and Jeremy got there, Penny clutching her bowling bag which held her ball, shoes, and other bowling implements.

Jeremy paid for both of them. "I say a few games apiece," he said. "Are you any good at bowling?"

"I haven't bowled a 300 yet...usually I can get up to 180," Penny shrugged. "I just like knocking the pins down."

Jeremy rented some shoes and searched the racks of bowling balls, found one that felt comfortable. He and Penny then went to their assigned lane and took off their jackets and changed their shoes.

Penny took her pink bowling ball out of her bag and polished it up a bit with a cloth. "You want to go first, Jeremy?" she asked.

Jeremy was entering their information in a computer; the score would automatically be calculated and displayed on a screen overhead. "Ladies first," he said as he typed in their names. "Man, I love how this thing is idiot-friendly. My dad said they used to give you a sheet of paper to do scoring."

"Why thank you, sir," Penny grinned as she fit her fingers into the holes in the bowling ball. She stepped up and threw the ball.

"Strike!" Jeremy called. "That's a pretty good start! My turn!"

"Gutter ball!" Penny laughed as Jeremy threw his ball.

"Hey, my specialty is football, not bowling!" Jeremy chuckled good-naturedly. The ball returned, and he threw again, this time knocking down two pins.

They played three games each; by that time it was around seven-thirty. "Let's go to my house," said Jeremy. "Your dad said be home by ten."

"All right," said Penny.

They got into Jeremy's Explorer and headed for his house in one of the better parts of town. "My parents are at the country club, so we'll have the place to ourselves," said Jeremy. "Hope you're okay with that."

"I'm fine with it," said Penny, ignoring the tiny alarm going off in her head.

The Jackson home was a huge, four-bedroom house. Jeremy let himself and Penny in, and Jeremy turned on the lights in the living room. "They'll probably be home soon, so don't worry," he said as he led her into the kitchen. He looked in the refrigerator. "Hey, they left some wine in here. Wanna try some?"

"You sure it's okay?" Penny asked doubtfully as he filled two glasses with it.

"Yeah, it's okay. In France they let their kids drink wine."

Penny took a sip, found that she actually liked it. She drank some more, found that she liked the way it seemed to burn a little on the way down.

"Easy there, Penny," Jeremy chuckled as he drank his.

"This is some good stuff," Penny said as she drank the rest of it.

"I'm gonna go up to the bathroom for a minute, okay?" Jeremy said.

"Okay," said Penny.

Jeremy went upstairs, and Penny poured herself another glass of the wine and drank it. She was starting to feel a little dizzy, so she decided now was a good time to stop. Besides, if her father knew she was drinking alcohol, he'd be pretty upset to say the least. She wasn't exactly drunk, but she had a feeling she was pretty well lit-up. The fact that she'd had nothing to eat since lunch didn't really help.

Penny went up the stairs. Jeremy was just coming out of the bathroom. "Want to see my room?" he asked.

"Sure," said Penny.

Jeremy led her to the end of the hallway and opened a door. Penny went into his room. Jeremy had a double bed. The room was actually fairly neat. A Midway High School pennant was on one wall. He had a stereo, TV, VCR, and DVD player along another wall. He also had a corner desk taking up one corner, and he had a whole computer system on it, complete with scanner, printer, and web camera.

"I need to sit down," said Penny as she went and sat on his bed.

Jeremy sat down next to her and kissed her. Penny responded enthusiastically.

An hour later, Penny was feeling better as she lay next to Jeremy. She could not believe what she had just done. And on the first date.

"It's nine o'clock...I probably better get you home," said Jeremy as he stretched lazily. "You okay?"

"I'm fine," said Penny. "Are we still on for Friday?"

"Of course," said Jeremy, who seemed surprised that she'd ask. "You know...that was a little bit-unexpected."

"I know...probably all that wine I drank," Penny said as she sat up.

"I-I didn't really mean for it to happen...I'm kinda glad it did," said Jeremy. "But if it was because of the wine..."

"I knew what I was doing," Penny said.

They cleaned up and got dressed. Then Jeremy drove Penny home. "I'll see you at school tomorrow. I love you," said Jeremy.

"I love you too," said Penny.

"You did what!?" Susan asked in homeroom the next day. Jeremy had picked up Penny and driven her to school, so this was the first time today Penny had the opportunity to talk to Susan.

"I got kinda lit up, and Jeremy and I, well, we did the mattress mambo," Penny said quietly, trying to keep Susan quiet.

"So how was it?" Susan asked.


"Well, I would like to know! You can share!"

" was good," said Penny, blushing furiously.

"And you remembered despite being drunk off your rear end."

"I was lit-up, not drunk. I could still think somewhat clearly," Penny corrected.

"Well, I'm surprised he didn't dump you," said Susan. "What'd your dad have to say?"

"He doesn't know. Jeremy got me home before curfew," Penny said. "Besides, Dad was already drunk himself, so he wouldn't have noticed if Jeremy and I had done it on top of the TV!"