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."
"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 was so sweet, 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-hmm." In other words, she was hoping that now he'd talk to her at school. I knew how Ellie's mind worked. "He's really moody, though. On the ride home he got really quiet and pissy. He was so nice all morning, talking about how I was such a great girl, how he had too much respect for me to be a one-night-stand... and then he just totally changed." I sighed. "Guys are such catty bitches."
"You always say girls are catty bitches."
"Well... I guess everyone has a little of it in them."
She laughed. "Well, Jackson probably got cranky 'cause he was worried he was gonna start to like you."
"Right, Ellie. Jackson Sutterfield is afraid of liking me."
"I'm serious. Sophie, you're freaking gorgeous! So what if your boobs aren't huge? I'd kill to have a face like yours!"
"I'll trade you."
She rolled her eyes. "I'm right. You'll see." She finished off her lemonade. "Anyway, I gotta go, my dear. I'll call you when I get home."
I spent the rest of the day thinking about how to get Simon back. Maybe he'd overreacted just a bit, and maybe he was a jerk for not keeping track of me at the party, but I had sort of been avoiding him. We'd been dating six months; we couldn't throw that away over something so small. I felt bad for not being devastated. I mean, I should have been, right? I was upset, and I felt lonely, but I'd barely cried at all.
Maybe it was the fact that Jackson was convinced we'd get back together... or maybe it was just the thought of Jackson in general. If I really wanted him, I could have him. Maybe not forever, but I could have him for a night. The thing was, I didn't want Jackson, at least not that rational part of me. My frivolous, carefree side told me to be optimistic. Maybe Jackson was crazy about me, maybe we'd stay together. My rational side, however, told me to stay away from him. All he wanted was a one-night-stand, regardless of what he had said. He didn't care about me, never would. Even if he did, why would I want to date him? There would be constant rumors, and other girls would always be all over him. I knew that Jackson was not a man of self-control.
That night, as I lay in bed, I thought about how I was going to get to school. Simon always picked me up. I didn't have a car, and neither did Ellie. I'd borrowed my mom's car to go the party, which she was pissed about, by the way. I hated riding the bus with a burning passion. It was hot and noisy and all together an unpleasant experience. Riding it every now and then, like when Simon was sick, was okay, but I couldn't ride it every day. I could always ask Jackson to take me. Sure, I would have to deal with obnoxious music the whole way, but it beat the bus. Even with the outrageous price of gas, Simon and Jackson did not ride to school together, they'd tried that when Simon was a freshman, and it resulted in two black eyes, a broken seatbelt, and roughly one hundred cups of piping hot McDonald's coffee applied directly to Simon's lap.
There was only one problem; I didn't know his cell phone number. I was going to have to call the home phone... just peachy. I dialed the number and hoped that Simon didn't pick up.
"Hello?" Guess who it was? If you answered Simon, you win.
"Um, can I talk to Jackson?" I asked, trying to disguise my voice.
"I know who you want to talk to... is this Sophie?"
"Who is this Sophie you speak of?"
"What do you want with Jackson?"
I sighed. No use playing dumb. "I just need a ride to school tomorrow."
"I've got news for you, princess, you're riding the bus."
"Let me talk to your brother!"
"Nah... Later, babe," he said and then hung up on me.
Well, that had gone really well. Maybe getting back together with Simon wasn't going to be as easy as I'd hoped. I'd just started to drift off to sleep when my phone rang. I groaned and picked it up. I looked at the caller ID. It was Simon! Maybe he was calling to apologize.
"Hello?" I answered, trying to hide my excitement.
"Sophie, it's Jackson. I stole Simon's phone so I could get your number. He told me you called, but wouldn't say why."
"Well, I was just wondering if you could give me a ride to school tomorrow. I really don't wanna ride the bus."
"Yeah, sure. I'll be there around 7:45. Is there something else bothering you?"
"A couple things," I admitted.
"Wanna talk about it?"
"Yeah, maybe," I said softly.
"Jackson! Get the fuck off of my phone!" Simon shouted.
"Are you're parents home?"
"See you in ten."
"Jackson—" I didn't bother finishing my sentence, he'd already hung up. I got out of bed and pulled on a pair of lime green sweatpants. I didn't bother putting a t-shirt on over my hot pink sports bra. Jackson had seen plenty of girls wearing much less than I was. I went into the bathroom and tried to brush the knots out of my hair. Make-up? No. I didn't want to look like I was trying too hard.
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.
Around 5:30 the next night I stood staring at myself in the mirror, just as I had before the first party. I was a little more sexed-up this time. I'd curled my hair, my gray eyes were lined heavily in black, and my pimple was completely gone. I thought I looked kinda hot. Maybe hot was an overstatement, but it was the best I was gonna look.I arrived at Simon’s house around 6:00. I went in without knocking. Jackson was dragging a table from the garage to the living room."Let me help you with that," I said, approaching him."I'm fine," he said through clenched teeth."You're going to hurt your ribs.""They ain't going to get any more broken. You look pretty; go see your boyfriend before I lose self-control.""Can we talk first?"He shook his head. "I'm busy," he said
As much as the brothers fought, they told each other almost everything."It seems like I was so much younger than I am now and a lot fucking stupider. Funny how much one year can do. We had sex right here on this balcony." He shook his head. "I didn't use a condom… she asked me too… but I didn't have one… and…" He ran his hand back through his hair."Did she have an abortion?" I asked carefully."No… we were gonna keep it. Brenda’s family is Catholic, they would've disowned her. She had a miscarriage. I hate to admit it… but I was really glad. How fucking wrong is that!? Sophie, I regret that every day of my life. I don't know how Brenda can still speak to me after I pressured her into having unprotected sex. I wasn't man enough to tell my own father. I just kept it to myself… like no one would ever find out."