CHAPTER 4

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."

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