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 by Mon's side at first, I didn't want some random tramp to come grind on him. After about an hour, I started to worry about Ellie. I hadn't seen her and I didn't think there was any way that Jackson would have stuck with her. I knew that she could take care of herself, but I also knew she had a nasty little habit of getting into trouble.
"I'm going to go look for Ellie," I told Simon.
"What?" He asked loudly.
"I'm going to go look for Ellie!" I repeated, raising my voice.
"Oh! I think she went upstairs!" He kissed me tenderly. "Be good."
I pushed through the crowd to get to the stairs. There were people sucking face everywhere I turned, and I tried to ignore it. I hadn't really thought about it before, but Simon was a really slow mover. It seemed like we'd been dating forever, yet he never wanted to get intimate. Maybe he wasn't as into me as I'd always thought. He was the complete opposite of his brother, who would take a girl to bed minutes after meeting her.
I was shocked, however, when I walked into Jackson's room and saw my best friend, on her back, making herself a prime example of Jackson's lack of self-control.
I opened his bedroom door, which even though it should not have been, was unlocked. I was horrified to see Jackson screwing Ellie, and looking like he was really enjoying himself. Then again, it was sex, so I can't say I was surprised.
"Sophie?!" Ellie shrieked.
"Shit!" growled Jackson. "Sophie—"
I slammed the door before he could say anything else. I wasn't sure why, but I was feeling really betrayed. I knew it was extremely stupid, considering I had just been thinking that hooking them up would be a great way to get Jackson to leave me alone. Seeing them together, though, had made me feel like a knife had been shoved into my heart—okay, that's a little melodramatic—but it had hurt my feelings a little.
"You're being ridiculous," I told myself. "This will make things easier." I went into Simon's room; I needed a moment to get my head on straight. When I opened the door, I found Scott making out with Lauren Bradford, a very popular cheerleader.
"Why can't anyone lock the fucking doors!?" I shrieked.
Scott jerked his head up. "Whoa there, darlin'. Can we get a little privacy?"
"No! Get off Simon's bed! Get out!"
Lauren stared at me. "What's your problem? You're a little bit insane right now. Go downstairs, have a drink, loosen up, find yourself a nice guy."
I stood there for a moment, motionless.
"Go!" Both of them ordered.
I went back downstairs, trying my best to avoid Simon. I was going to get hammered, and I didn't want him to try to stop me. I planned on partying... really hard.
When I woke up, the entire night was a blur. I didn't remember a thing. The only thing I had on my mind was that partying hard was a really terrible idea. I opened my eyes, and they felt like they were going to fucking fall out of my head. I closed them again and whimpered.
"You're up," I heard Jackson say. This time he wasn't in bed beside me. "Are you okay?" his voice was soft... almost concerned.
"I...I'm gonna puke."
"All right, cupcake, let me take you to the bathroom. I'm going to pick you up, all right?"
I nodded weakly and he lifted me out of the bed and carried me down the hall to the bathroom. He set me on the floor gently and knelt down behind me to make sure that I didn't fall backwards. I threw up after a moment. I just kept puking and puking until there was nothing left and all I could do was lie there, trembling. "Where's Simon?" I asked after a while.
Jackson sat beside me, lifting me so that my upper body was resting on his muscular thighs. "You don't remember a thing, huh? You were really wasted last night. I didn't think you're drank."
"What happened?! Did I do something stupid?"
"You two had a huge fight... Simon will cool off, but until then I'm gonna take care of you, 'cause you're going to be miserable."
I thought very hard, and after a moment, bits and pieces of the night came back to me. Dancing on a table, kissing... someone, and Simon shouting at me as he yanked me away from the mystery guy. The details were fuzzy, but I could remember some of the main events. I was never drinking again. "What did I do? Is he gonna break up with me?!" Tears filled my eyes at the very thought.
He stroked my hair. "He's not going to break up with you. He caught you making out with Scott—"
"Gross!" I cried, and then winced because of the intense pain in my head. "Oh Jackson...
"Shh... I beat his ass for it; I don't think he's going to mess with you anymore. So I guess you're not mad at me?"
"Oh... you don't remember? Never mind."
"You caught me... having sex with Ellie."
That part of the night came back to me then, at least a little. "That was the whole reason I drank in the first place."
"I didn't know it was gonna hurt your feelings. You made it pretty clear you weren't interested in sleeping with me."
"I... I don't know why it upset me so much... but it did."
"I'm sorry, Sophie, really."
"Did Ellie get home okay?"
"Yes, she took your car back to your place, and then got her car, I'm assuming. Don't worry, she didn't drink." He brushed my bangs out of my face. "I'll take you home when you're feeling better.
"Why are you being so nice to me?"
"I know what horrible hangovers are like." He picked me up again. "Done puking?"
"I think so," I said, and then I burst into tears.
"Oh Christ, Sophie, what's the matter?"
"You slept with Ellie, I made out with Scott Turnbow, and now Simon hates me! What else did I do last night?" I asked, just to be sure.
"Danced with a lot of guys..."
"I'm a slut!" I sobbed.
Jackson rocked me gently. I'd never imagined him being so nice to me. I was certain that when I was feeling better he'd go back to trying to seduce me. At this moment, though, Simon was pissed at me, so I was going to find comfort in his brother's arms. He tucked me into his bed, and then he stared at me for a while.
"It's five in the morning, and I'm really beat, so can I please get into bed with you? I could go sleep in the guestroom, but I don't wanna leave you alone in case you wake up sick again."
I nodded my consent. I was already on Simon's bad side, and Jackson had been nice enough to take care of me. He got into bed, but stayed on the opposite side. I moved so that I was snuggled against him.
"Sophie," he began.
"Hold me... tonight has been so terrible... I just want someone to be with me."
I wasn't usually a dependent person, but I just felt so needy all of the sudden.
"You always seem so cold," he said, wrapping his arms around me. "I never imagined you needing anyone."
"The word cold makes me seem so bitchy; besides, no one is independent all of the time. Not even you, hotshot."
"I didn't mean it like that." He chuckled. "Get some rest, cupcake. We'll talk more tomorrow."
That morning was the first time I saw Jackson as something more than a pretty-boy football player. He held me tighter than Simon ever had, and resting my head on his bare shoulder felt... right; no matter how wrong it was.
When I woke up again, I was alone, but I had been carefully tucked in. I just laid there for quite some time, trying to get the will to move. When I finally did, the first place I went was Simon's room. He was sitting in front of his computer, a frown on his lips.
"Simon?" I began, pulling the door shut.
"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
"Um… hi Mrs. Sutterfield. We were just napping… we weren't doing anything… We're still wearing clothes…"She stared at me.Maybe I should have stopped at 'hi Mrs. Sutterfield'."Hello Sophie," she said finally. "Could you wake him up, please? I need to speak with him."I shook Simon lightly. "Mon, wake up.""Mm…" he leaned up to kiss me, not opening his eyes."Simon!" His mother snapped.He backed away from me, slowly turning to face her. I'd never heard anyone use his full name before, so I knew she had to be pissed."Hi Mom," he said awkwardly. "You look pretty today.""Come with me," she ordered."I'll be right back," he told me, rolling his eyes.