Ellie and I met at our usual hangout, the Bean Street Café. She was practically bouncing with excitement by the time we sat down with our smoothies.
"Tell me, tell me!" She insisted.
"Well, on the ride he pretty much talked to Scott the whole time. When we got home, though, I had a little run-in with Scott... he tried to get a little somethin'-somethin'... Jackson came in and screamed at him, and after I went upstairs he came up to apologize. It was really sweet at first, but then he started talking about getting my pants off, and that eliminated all the sweetness." I took a drink of my smoothie.
"Is that all?" she asked, sounding disappointed.
"No. Before I went to bed he kissed me on the forehead... and I know that it's really lame, but oh my God, it was niiiiice. Seriously, should a kiss on the forehead feel that... dirty?"
"Well, since it's your boyfriend's brother and he's really, really freaking hot... I don't think it's too lame. Wait, was it just a peck?"
"Well... it was more like a warm, intimate pressing his lips to my skin."
She giggled. "Lucky!"
"It gets better—I mean worse—I went to sleep in the guestroom, and when I woke up, Jackson had his arm around me."
"Oh. My. Gosh. You shared a bed with Jackson Sutterfield! You are so incredibly blessed. What was it like?"
"It was...well, it wasn't bad. He was a surprisingly good cuddler for someone so muscular."
"I'm so jealous. You have no idea!"
"Well, don't be too jealous, 'cause even though it was kind of nice, I feel like I cheated on Simon."
"You guys didn't do anything, did you?"
"No. I didn't even wake up when he got into bed with me."
"You didn't do anything wrong, then."
I nodded, still feeling kind of crappy. "Jackson is having a party tonight. Wanna come with me?" I asked, trying not the think anymore about waking up next to the biggest asshole in school.
"Do you even have to ask? Of course I wanna go! What do I wear? Everyone's gonna be there! Sophie, I'm so excited."
I smiled over at her. No matter what she wore, Ellie would look great. She was blond-haired, blue-eyed, and big-boobed. I never understood why she hung around with me instead of the popular girls. She wanted so much to be part of that crowd, and if she'd just ditch me, she could be. Don't get me wrong, everyone knew who she was; she just wasn't quite as high on the food chain as she could've been. I always felt sort of invisible around her, not that I'd ever let her know that. If I mentioned it, she would feel terrible; even though her extreme bubbliness sometimes got annoying, I couldn't stand to see her sad.
"Wear whatever you want, Ellie," I told her. "You'll look wonderful."
"Aw, thanks!" She ran a hand through her hair, pushing it out of her eyes. "I promised my mom I wouldn't be gone long. She wanted me to go to yoga with her today."
"All right," I said, drinking the last bit of my smoothie. "Why don't you come over around 7:30? We can hang out for a while before we go to the party."
"Can't wait," she said, and we walked out of the café.
That night, I tore apart my dresser looking for something to wear. I finally settled on a short denim skirt and a black halter-top. When I stopped to think about it, I realized I wasn't actually out to impress Simon, I wanted Jackson to notice me. With all of his friends there, I knew the odds of that happening were slim. At about 7:20, Ellie burst into my room. She was wearing a midriff-baring, bubblegum-pink tank top and low-rise jeans. Her long hair was curled at the ends, she had a ton of eye make-up on, and her butterfly bellybutton ring sparkled in the light. The minute I looked at her I felt like one of the ugly stepsisters.
"What do you think?" She asked, taking a look at herself in the mirror. "I don't think my boobs look as perky as they should... Should I get surgery?"
"You could just get a push-up bra," I told her. That's me, always the rational one. "It's a lot cheaper."
She pushed her breasts up and turned to look at me. "Will it make them look like this? I want them to be this high."
"Ellie, sweetie, trust me, that's way too high. They nearly touch your chin. Your boobs look fine... at least you have them."
It wasn't as if I was completely boobless. I was a B-cup. A small B-cup, but still... I sighed and stood next to my best friend, staring at both of our reflections. Suddenly my pin-straight black hair and steel-gray eyes looked more boring than usual. Then, I had an idea. If Jackson was interested in me, he had to think Ellie was hot. If I hooked them up, he'd leave me alone, and I'd be able to stop thinking about me. The only problem was that he was a complete asshole, and I wouldn't want my friend to be dating someone like him. Although, it didn't hurt to introduce them; maybe he'd like Ellie so much he'd change his ways for her. I did a mental eye-roll. Who was I kidding?! Ellie was likable, but not that likable.
"You're gonna introduce me to Jackson, right?" She asked, as if reading my mind. She seemed to do that a lot, and it was really kind of creepy.
"Sure, but all of his friends are going to be there, so I doubt he'll pay a lot of attention to either one of us."
"I'll make him pay attention," Ellie said, sticking her chest out a little. "You just wait."
I laughed. "Whatever you say, babe. You ready to go?"
She nodded, clapping her hands. "This is gonna be so much fun!"
We were a bit early for the party, so I rang the bell instead of walking right in, like Jackson had told me to. Simon answered, looking adorable. His blond hair was still wet from a shower, and it curled around the bottom of his ears.
"You look beautiful, ladies," he said, letting us in. "Especially you, Sophie."
Ellie smiled. "Your boyfriend is so darn cute!"
I nodded in agreement and gave Simon a quick kiss. "Where's your brother?"
"Kitchen. Why don't we go upstairs for a while? Jackson is gonna set up down here, I don't wanna get suckered into helping."
As if on cue, Jackson stuck his head out of the kitchen.
"Ah! Simon, Sophie, hot blonde girl, how about you help me out?"
"He called me hot!" Ellie whispered to me.
Simon laughed and I rolled my eyes. Jackson came into the room and headed straight for Ellie.
"I'm sorry, where are my manners? I'm Jackson, but I'm sure you know that. Now that I look at you more carefully, I recognize you... Ellie Foster, right?"
Ellie stood there stupidly, just staring at Jackson. I pinched her arm and she yelped. "Ow! Sophie!" Then she returned her attention to Jackson. "I didn't know you knew who I was."
"Well, you're gorgeous, of course I do!"
She giggled, twisting a strand of her hair between her fingers. "I'll help you set up, Jackson?"
"What about you two lovebirds?" he asked Simon and me.
"You two can handle it," Simon said. "Sophie and I will be in my room if you need us."
"Ooooh!" Jackson nudged his brother. "You learned from the best baby brother!"
"You're an ass." I growled, taking Simon's hand. "Let's go."
Before too long, Simon and I heard music blaring downstairs."Do your parents know about this?" I asked."Well, Jackson told them we were having a 'get together'. He didn't mention how many people would be coming.""How many people are expected to show up?""Hell if I know. Word gets around pretty quick about Jackson's parties. So basically we just get a lot of booze and hope it doesn't get ugly."I'd never been to one of Jackson's parties. Simon always invited me, but I never felt comfortable enough around his brother to go. I wasn't really sure what to expect."It'll be fun, Sophie. Don't worry." He stood and then helped me to my feet. "People will be here soon, let's go downstairs."People arrived quickly, and the house got full very quickly. The living room smelled like potato chips, beer, and sweat. The music was so loud I couldn't hear myself think. I stayed b
"Go away Sophie! I put up with you grinding on a bunch of guys all night, but seeing you make-out withScott...I couldn't take that. Then you end up in my brother's bed?! There's a little thing called loyalty, and I don't think it's too much to ask for you to give me that one little thing!""I was completely shit-faced! I had no idea what I was doing! You could try to be a little more understanding. Why didn't you take me upstairs? You had to know I was going to do something I was going to regret! The only reason I was in Jackson's bed was because he was nice enough to make sure I didn't drown in my own puke!" I shook my head. "Maybe he cares about me more than you do.""Oh, don't give me that! If you like Jackson so much better, fine! Date him!""Simon, I don't want to date Jackson. I just don't understand why you're getting so worked up. If you would've gotten drunk and done the same thing... I would cut you some slack.
Ellie came over forty-five minutes later, dressed for work. We sat out on the deck and drank lemonade, a tradition we'd had since fifth grade.The first thing I told her was, "Simon broke up with me.""What!? Why?""Apparently, I fucked up bad at the party last night. I made out with Scott... and then I was with Jackson all morning, because Simon wouldn't take care of me and he wanted to make sure that I was okay. Simon just doesn't trust me at all!""It feels like you guys have been together forever... I mean I know it was only six months... but it seems like so much longer. Is there anyway you'll get back together?""Jackson seems to think so... He wassosweet, it was kind of scary.""He wasn't sweet to me at all. For like the first five minutes, maybe.""Why did you have sex with him?""It just kinda... happened.""Mm-
I decided to call my mom to make sure she wouldn't come home while Jackson was over."Sophie, dear, Mommy is busy," she said as if speaking to a five-year-old. "What do you need?""Are you guys coming home tonight?""Oh, well... I don't think so. We'll probably just stay with Markus and Lindsey tonight. Unless you need something?""No, I'm fine. Just curious. I'll see you tomorrow.""All right, sweetheart. I love you.""Yeah, you too," I muttered.The minute I hung up the phone the doorbell rang. I took a deep breath and answered.Jackson looked me over as if I was lunch. His eyes lingered a little too long on my sports bra and I crossed my arms.
Thinking about Jackson didn't get me anywhere; thoughts of his lips on mine and the intoxicating scent of his cologne that still lingered in the air only made me feel one thing, and I'm not going to talk about it. I figured it was best to just let it go. Every time I closed my eyes, however, I saw Jackson. It wasn't an unpleasant image, but it made it really hard to sleep. When I finally did get to sleep, he haunted my dreams. I woke up feeling refreshed, but I was a little worried about riding with Jackson. Sure, we'd supposedly gotten rid of temptation, but I had the feeling that it wouldn't stop Jackson from making a move.At 7:40 in the morning, Jackson honked his horn. I grabbed my purse and rushed out the door. I got into the front seat of the car and gave Jackson a smile."Morning Sophie," he said."Hey.""About last night...""Yeah?""It'd be best if no one knew about it."
Turns out that Jackson was lying. He didn't come back. Not after five minutes, not after ten. All right, I'm lame; I actually sat on the couch for ten minutes waiting for Jackson to come back with my drink. Finally, I got up and went into the kitchen. I didn't see Jackson, instead, I saw Simon drinking orange juice out of the carton."Sophie?!" he cried, almost spitting out his juice."Um... Where's your brother?""He left... what in the hell are you doing here?""What do you mean heleft?!""I mean he got in his car, started it, and drove away," he said slowly.I sighed in frustration. "He was supposed to help me get you ba-ahh... never mind.""What were you going to say Sophie?""Nothing," I said defensively."What was Jackson supposed to help you with? Oh and why did he go to your place last night?""Simon, we were jus
"I hardly think this is the time!" I said. I didn't want to lie, but I couldn't tell the truth. "Jackson has been very good to me these past couple days, and that's why I'm so freaked out. We're friends.""Whatever, Sophie.""There's that lack of trust again," I growled. "You know what a cry baby I am; I can't believe you're surprised that I'm getting all worked up about this."He said nothing until we pulled into the hospital parking lot."I'm sorry," he said when we got out of the car. "I'm just stressed out; I didn't mean to snap at you." He pulled me to him and kissed my hair. "Jack is going to be fine, I know it."Simon's mood swings were worse than mine, and I had an excuse once a month. At least he'd apologized, though."It's okay," I said, taking his hand. "Let's get out
By the time Simon and I got to his house, I wasn't even eager to see Jackson. I just wanted to go home and bury my disgusting face in my pillow and hide."I'll be back," he told me when I'd settled on his bed. "I'm gonna go check on my brother."He came back a few minutes later. "Want to run out to grab something to eat with me? I'm just going to get McDonald's or something. Jackson is really hungry."I frowned. "Simon, I really don't wanna go anywhere. I had a shitty day."He looked thoughtful. "All right," he said finally. "I'm going to let you stay here because I… I'm going to trust you. Don't betray that, all right?"I nodded. "Thank Simon, for giving me a chance." I got up and kissed him. "You're a doll.""If Jackson needs anything, don't feel like you have to get it. He can wal