12. House visit, part two.
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"Wow, so you guys can really just go swimming whenever you want, huh?"

"Well, only when it's warm out and mom gets the pool all ready. You like to swim?"

"I love it. Well, as long as the pool's heated."

"Oh yeah, I hate it when the water's cold. Like the school pool is freezing!"

"Oh, that's what I was thinking of, actually." Nikki laughed. "Yeah, your brother and I have to start that unit soon."

Nikki was surprised with herself. It was normally hard for her to make friends... she wasn't even friends with her teammates. She was just too.... abrasive. But she was just in such a good mood, and she didn't know why, cause she was almost never in a good mood. She couldn't imagine saying something mean and spoiling it all.

Randy's sister was really nice. She had let her join her game without even really knowing her at all, and now she was giving her a look around the house. Any other day she'd figure the person was trying to brag, but today she was just letting herself relax and be impressed. Randy's house was pretty impressive after all. He was the first person he ever met who had a pool, let alone a big one with a Jacuzzi.

"What's your mom do?" she asked. It was something that had somehow never come up in any of her and Randy's discussions. "As a job, I mean?" 

"Isn't she a lawyer?" asked Mackenzie. That was the name of one of Quinn's friends, a skinny girl with wild red hair. The other, who had dark skin and was the younger sister of one of her soccer teammates, was called Olivia.

Quinn nodded. "Yeah, but she also writes books. Like, self-help ones. I don't know who reads them, but people do apparently."

That figured, Nikki thought. She couldn't have just been a lawyer to afford a place this nice.

Though Nikki wasn't keyed in to notice, a devilish smile played across Quinn's face. She looked back at her friends, who quickly caught on, then turned back to the older girl.

"Hey, want to meet her?" she asked.

"Your mom?"

Quinn started to pull her along by the arm. "Yeah, I see her standing there..."


Outside, Quinn seemed to notice the two standing at the sliding doors. Then, she started to drag Nikki by the arm. Randy's stomach dropped.

"Oh? Quinn's bringing her over!" his mom said excitedly.

Randy grit his teeth. That little... if Nikki sees how embarrassing Mom is...!

He was still by the sliding doors with his mom, who had been not so subtly inspecting Nikki. Now she was waving over to Quinn, and she was waving back. Randy could see the smirk on her face from here... oh, she thought she was so funny, he bet. Probably her way of getting back at him for letting the cat out of the bag about her boyfriend David.

Randy stood there awkwardly as his mom pulled the door open, letting Quinn, Nikki, and her friends all walk in. Mackenzie and Olivia glanced at him, their pre-emptive laughter barely held back while Quinn introduced her mom to Nikki. Keeping his mouth shut, he just watched it play out.

"It's nice to finally meet you!" she said, smiling at Nikki. She seemed a little weirded out, but Nikki smiled back. "Oh, I've heard so much about you."

Randy raised an eyebrow. She had heard like, three things about the girl!

"Oh, well... it's nice to meet you too." Nikki said, scratching the back of her head.

"You and Randy have been seeing a lot of each other, huh?" she asked, hands on her hips. Okay, she was clearly on the path to making things awkward. "You two hang out after school like, every day!"

"Yeah, we're working on this essay together." Nikki replied. "Randy's like, really smart, he's been giving me a lot of help."

Huh. That was nice of her to say, Randy thought. She was trying to make him look good to his mom... that was surprisingly sweet of her.

"Oh, Randy's always been bright. He started reading when he was two, did you know that? Oh, let me go get the pictures."

She started to run off, and Randy groaned, stepping in to block her path. Faced away from Nikki, the woman wasn't afraid to scowl at him.

"It's... it's okay." Nikki laughed. "I can believe it."

Mrs. Martin turned around, frown turning upside down in record time. Her grin was so wide it was a little bit scary.

"Oh well, maybe another time." she walked over to the cutting board. "Are you hungry at all? I could make you a snack, or maybe you could stay for dinner?"

"Actually," Nikki looked to Randy. "I think I have to get home soon. But maybe another time?"

"Oh, surely!" said Randy's mom. The three tweens looked a little disappointed that the fun was about to end without anything truly embarrassing happening. 

"Don't you want to play some more, Nikki?" asked Quinn, grabbing the ball from Mackenzie and tossing it to her. "My mom makes really good shrimp, you should stay!"

"Sorry, wish I could stay." Nikki said, bouncing the ball back and turning to leave. She eyed Randy one last time. "It was nice meeting you all."

Everyone called out goodbye as she walked off. Quinn pulled the glass sliding door shut behind her and let out a frustrated humph.

"Mom, come on!" she cried. "Be a little more embarrassing next time!"

"Hey! I'm not embarrassing!"

Randy rolled his eyes, then noticed that Mackenzie and Olivia were glued to something outside the door. Looking over their shoulders, he noticed that they were staring at Nikki as she walked away.

"What's with you guys, huh?" he said, a little angry. He turned to Quinn and jabbed a finger at her. She was unaffected. "Were you only acting nice with her to pull that dumb trick?"

Quinn sighed, putting her hands up on the counter and hopping up to sit on it. "No, she's surprisingly cool. I don't know what she sees in you, though..."

"She doesn't see anything in me!" Randy threw his hands up in the air. "We're not together!"

Quinn shook her head. "Randy, no girl hangs out with a guy as much as you two do without having a crush on him."

Randy rolled his eyes. Nikki wouldn't have a crush on him! She was... well, she was Nikki. Super tough and mean. Not really the kind of girl to get crushes.

...

Well, she did ask him for nudes. And squeeze his thigh. But that was just to make him feel uncomfortable! Not serious flirting.

"Since when were you an expert on romance?" he asked, trying to save face. "I've got plenty of friends who are girls."

"I know more than you do, Mr. Never-been-kissed." she would've used a different word, but mom was around, so she censored herself. "And that's cause they're all gay, like you."

"If I'm so gay, then why do I have a crush on Nikki then, huh?"

"I said Nikki had a crush on you." Quinn laughed, face lighting up. "Since when did I say you had one on her?"

Randy froze. Then he stomped away, face red. As he headed upstairs, he heard Quinn and her friends giggling.

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