* * *
Melinda sucked in air through her teeth.
"I'll call a club meeting," she said. "I'll explain what happened and try to convince them to let you decide whether or not you want to join." She grimaced. "I'm going to catch a lot of flak for this, but we have bigger problems to deal with right now so I think they'll let it go."
"Thanks Melinda," said Phillip.
"No, thank you, Phillip," said Melinda. "After everything that's happened over the last few weeks...I needed this." She rose from the bed. "Have my parents come back?" she inquired.
"I didn't hear anything."
"Well, they should be home pretty soon, so I should change," she said, nodding towards the hallway.
"Change? But you're clothes are...oh, yeah."
"Speaking of which," sighed Melinda, turning back to the bed.
She grabbed the edge of the blanket and folded it back, revealing a tangled mess of torn clothing.
"Terrific," said Melinda in a deadpan voice. She plucked the remnants of a yellow T-shirt from the mattress and dropped it, shaking her head. "Thank God I wasn't wearing jeans."
"Uh, yeah," murmured Phillip, staring at the ruined raiment.
"You, uh, you might want to get going," said Melinda, shrugging her broad shoulders. "It's getting late."
"Y-Yeah," said Phillip, rubbing the back of his head. "I gotta get a good night's rest. Tomorrow is the last band practice before the dance."
"Would you mind taking the clothes down to the garbage bins on your way out?"
"Uh, no prob," said Phillip. He scooted along the mattress and started gathering Melinda's torn clothing into a bundle. Meanwhile, Melinda stepped over to her closet and began picking out a new set of apparel.
Phillip, who had been dangling Melinda's bra in the air, goggling it, quickly stuffed the undergarment in the bundle with the rest of her clothes and whirled around, blushing.
"Are you...sure you're OK?" said Melinda anxiously. "I mean, if I were in your shoes I-...I'm sorry," she shook her head. "Can you promise me you won't tell anyone about this?"
"Of course, Melinda!" said Phillip earnestly, stepping towards her. "I promise I won't tell anyone about your secret!"
"Pinky swear?" said Melinda mischievously, extending a paw.
"Um, yeah," said Phillip, chuckling at the absurdity of it.
He reached out and hooked his pinky finger around Melinda beclawed equivalent. As soon as he let go Melinda suddenly lurched forward and embraced him, wrapping her massive arms around his body.
"Thank you, Phillip," she whispered into his ear. "You're the best."
Phillip nodded vaguely, trying not to think too hard about the two furry mounds pressing against his head.