I waited leaned up against a sidewall rather than trying to thread through the store’s crowded racks trailing Becky and Diana. It took them around fifteen minutes to sort through the men’s racks and find a pair of trunks they could agree would look good on me. They were brown with yellow trim, a look I think belonged more on a house than me, but I didn’t much care so long as they weren’t skin tight briefs.
Becky held them up and wiggled them in the air in my general direction while her eyebrows did an up and down dance that was probably supposed to translate into a question I should answer. Not knowing the language, I just shrugged and she laughed at me before throwing the trunk like a softball at my head. I snatched the brown blur out of the air and had just enough time to raise a questioning eyebrow before Diana tossed me a wood placard with the number one etched into its face.
“Don’t be shy,” Becky said with a smile eerily reminiscent of a neighborhood cat I never quite trusted, “put them on.”
The look on my face must have been communicating the lack of trust swirling in my brain as something more like confusion or shyness because Diana pointed to the alcove recessed in the wall. She said, “In there, unless you plan on giving us a nice show.”
Her smile twinkled with a mischievousness that made me feel relaxed and self conscious all at once. I probably stared at her shining face longer than was polite, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away from her delectably red lips or the playful blush coloring the soft rounds of her cheeks. My imagination turned the store into a private room with just the two of us and in that privacy I was brave enough to give offer her a show and she was interested enough to accept. Unfortunately, my cousin was too impatient to wait for me to shake myself out of the fantasy.
“Move it, Ritchie,” Becky said, planting her hands on her jutting hips. “I still have to find something cute for me.”
I stumbled into the changing room and pulled the curtain closed. It took me less than two minutes to shed my clothes and pull on the new trunks. A quick glance in the mirror reassured me they did their job, nothing was showing that wasn’t supposed to be showing. I stepped back into the little hallway, revealing myself to Becky.
“Satisfied?” I asked.
Becky looked me up and down for a long minute and nodded. “You’ll do. Now hurry up and help me find something.”
The process worked equally fast in reverse and I was back out in the store wearing my regular clothes in about two minutes. Becky was still holding onto the shameless strings that no mother or boyfriend would approve of for public attire. I probably should have said something, but I’m also pretty sure Becky wouldn’t of listened. She threaded through the racks and picked up another half dozen swimsuits, none of which seemed of the sort my Mom would call sensible.
We ended up at the counter where Diana was cashing out another customer. Becky held up her collection and smiled. I’m not sure why, but I had the distinct feeling Becky was playing some sort of game with Diana. It was almost like she was taunting her with the selection, like a nonverbal, ‘I can wear these and you can’t’.
Diana held out a placard with the number seven engraved into it. “It’s your skin, but I doubt your Aunt is going to let you wear any of those.”
Becky laughed and took the placard. “That’s the difference between us. I don’t need no one’s permission.”
I waited at the edge of the alcove while Becky disappeared into one of the changing rooms. Diana joined me a minute or so later when her customer left the store. We exchanged a look that told me we both knew Becky was pushing limits that shouldn’t be pushed.
Diana said, “Your Mom isn’t going to let her get those.”
I shook my head and shrugged. “I think she’s just trying to get a reaction out of me.”
Becky stepped out. She was naked except for three strategically located red patches. My eyes popped out of my head and then my head exploded. Diana walked away and I wished I could have gone with her. Becky twirled around, showing me far more of her bare skin than any cousin should ever see.
“What do you think?” Becky asked.
I swallowed the impolite thoughts invading my head and said, “I think you better get out of that before my Mom sees you.”
A waft of cold air tickled the back of my neck. “That’s good advice, but it’s a little too late,” Mom said from right behind me.