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."
"Can you get me the trashcan?""Sure cupcake."He came back with the trashcan and then sat on the bed beside me. I just wanted someone to hold me, but Jackson was dating Brenda now, and I was determined to make things work with Simon."This is the second time you've had to take care of me," I murmured. "I'm sorry.""It's okay, you can't help being sick.""So you just left all those people in your house?""Yeah… looking back, that probably wasn't a good plan, but I was worried about you."We laid in silence until Jackson's phone rang."It's a text message," he said after a moment. "From Simon. He wants to know what's up. I'll just tell him it was nothing and stay with you tonight.""Actually Jack&he
It may have seemed like I was overreacting, but I'd caught Caroline all over him before. I didn't really blame Simon, since he'd pushed her away; but if I wasn't there to watch him, would he let her have his way with him? Maybe I was just as guilty of being untrusting as he was. I shut my eyes and groaned. Things were never going to work out. Something had changed between us over the last week, and no matter how hard I tried to deny it, thoughts of Jackson were always lurking somewhere in my mind. I needed a distraction. The only problem was I didn't really feel well enough to go anywhere. I called Ellie."Haven't heard from you in days," she said when she picked up."I know, sorry! Things with Simon have been a little crazy."We went through the obligatory small talk and then I invited her over."Why don't we go out? I've been cooped up in the ho
"Uh… yeah. I think I'm going to puke. Bye." I hung up. He loved me? There was no way he'd meant it. We were sophomores in high school for God's sake! I guess it was better than him being mad at me, though. The only problem was… I didn't love him, and I knew it. I didn't want to seem like a bitch, but I didn't want to lie about my feelings either. The one person that could give me advice, the one person that new Simom better than anyone, was the one person I hated more than anyone at the moment. I needed help, though, so I called him."This better be important," Jack growled, sounding slightly breathless. "I mean really important.""Am I interrupting?""Yes!""Well… call me when you're… done.""Yeah, okay, fine. Thanks for ruining the mood, cupcake.""I'm sorry!"<
"Is something the matter with Simon?""What do you mean?""He was really quiet this morning. He just seems upset."He sighed heavily. "Well, you know what a momma's boy little Simon is… this morning Mom told us that she found a lump… in her breast. He's just freaked out about it.""Jack…" I began. "I'm so sorry."He smiled slightly, but when I met his eyes I saw the fear. "Nothing's definite, you know? It could be nothing."He was trying hard not to appear vulnerable. It wasn't his style to be scared. I knew that he was afraid, but I wouldn't mention it."She's going to get a biopsy done today. Apparently she's known about if for a while now, but she didn't want us to get upset about it.""I'll let you get back t
What was all this bullshit about love?! It's high school! Maybe I was the weird one for thinking it was strange to decide you loved someone so early in life. I was confused enough about my emotions without throwing love into the mix. I wanted to tell her it was stupid, but instead I smiled at her."Well, I'm sure things will work out. Don't worry about me, I'm not interested in stealing your boyfriend."The bell rang and Brenda grinned, seemingly satisfied with our little chat."Cool. Great earrings, by the way," she said, and then she was gone.When I got to my locker, Simon was standing at his with Caroline. They were standing close, too close for my comfort, but I said nothing. I just put my books away and stood, waiting patiently… okay, so I really wasn't feeling patient, but I did a good job of faking it. After a few moments, Caroline
Turns out by later, Jackson meant three hours later. The doorbell rang around 7:45. Mom and Dad were seeing a play in St. Lourdes. So I hauled my lazy ass down the stairs and looked through the peephole. It was Jack, holding a tub of popcorn. It was adorable that he'd brought it to me, but I was dressed in ratty sweatpants and a used-to-be-white camisole. I opened the door anyway, grinning out at him."Brought you popcorn," he said, coming in. "Your folks home?"I shook my head. "What're you doing here?"He shrugged a little. "Can't I pay you a visit every now and then?""As long as your bring food. Come on in. Wanna go upstairs?"He looked me up and down. "Are you wearing panties? 'Cause if you're not, we better stay downstairs… and sit on opposite ends of the sofa."I giggled. Jack
When we got to school, I abandoned Simon and went to Jackson's locker. Brenda was sleeping on his lap, listening to his iPod."She doesn't feel well," he told me, kissing her hair. "We can talk later, all right? I'm… not in the mood.""This is about last night, huh?""Shh…" he rolled his eyes. "Don't get all emotional on me."I hated how up and down things were between us. We had such a great relationship for about… four hours."Okay. Call me later?""Sure. Have a good day." He said, avoiding my eyes.My day was hell. All I could think about was HIV. Every time I saw Simom, I got sick to my stomach. It was the most stressed out I had been in a really long time. I couldn't concentrate on anything. Ellie tried to get me to tell her what was go