Chapter 1 - Black Ribbon

Lilly's POV

The aching in my skull ebbs and flows like a cold tide. Pain pulses through every nerve in my body and I moan as I feel both hot and cold. I've been laying in my bed for the last two hours, wide awake, eyes closed and totally dehydrated.

Now, I understand why they call it a hangover, for it feels as if the blackest of clouds are over my head with no intention of clearing until late afternoon.

I groan and wrap myself in the duvet, waves of nausea adding to my misery. My phone pings with a message after another, but I care less to check it.

My brain feels like it would swell beyond the capacity of my skull and now my dehydration is too obvious to ignore.

Perhaps some painkillers would help.

I raise my heavy eyelids half way only for them to fall shut. I groan as I raise them again and swing my bare feet to the cold floor.

I yawn and brush the hair covering my face away. My first instinct kicks me to check my phone but once my hand reach out for it, I notice the small box laying over the nightstand.

Confusion tightens my brows and I grab the little box in my hand. I open it and immediately, a smile flutters around my mouth. My fingers run over the silk material and a low sigh of contentment parts my lips.

It was a ribbon. A blue one.

I had the exact same one before, but I lost it. It was my favorite.

My gaze drifts to the note sticking to the box and I open it to read the few words scribbled there.

'Happy Birthday, Little Ribbon.'

At the nickname, my smile flatters and I scowl, realizing who the gift is from. He's the only one who calls me that, because he knows how much it annoys me. Ugh.

I leave them on my bed and I head to the bathroom, more than ready for a cool shower to rid me of last night's memories.

I change into a casual pant and shirt; then, I dry my hair. I take the blue ribbon laying over the bed and place it in the box with the others.

I hum as I try to choose the one most fitting for this day.



Yup. Because, I can finally say rest in peace to my imaginary relationship with Zack.

I take a few strands of my hair and tie the black ribbon around them into a bow. Giving myself a satisfied look in the mirror, I head downstairs.

And that's when it hits me.

I slept last night without caring to get rid of the alcohol bottles. And my parents are gonna be here any moment. Oh shit.

Panic settles over my chest and I run so fast, almost tripping over the stairs. I rush toward the room and stumble to a stop when I crash into someone's hard back.

My eyes flicker up as he turns around. He pulls back a fraction. A small smirk lifts one side of his full lips and I resist the urge to stare at them. Jeez.

I swallow hard and shake myself out of it before I sneak a look over his shoulder, observing the now almost clean room.

I blink in confusion and my eyebrows pull together. I hear noises from the other room and I gulp. I tiptoe and whisper my words to him, as low as I can, "Where are all the alcohol bottles?"

Tender amusement flickers around his mouth before he leans in close to my ear, "I threw them out last night." He whispers back, matching my tone.

I ignore the chills cascading down my spine when his warm breath brushes over the side of neck. I swallow down that twisted feeling as his eyes settle back on mine. My eyebrow raises in question, "Really?" I whisper again.

He nods and I smile, relieved, "Thank you." I whisper.

"Anytime." He says before a frown claws up between his eyebrows, "Why are we whispering?" He asks, whispering the words yet again.

I chuckle lowly and shake my head, my voice still low as I mumble, "I don't know."

A tease lifts his brow, and he smiles at me. It was near impossible to stop my gaze from drifting down to those lips; his closeness didn't help much either.

I swallow hard and time seems to take a pause as I feel myself suddenly drowning in everything he is - the way he smelled, clean, like a breath of the morning's freshest air, but still something else entirely intoxicating.

My thoughts go fuzzy as I get lost in his lips, his eyes, his scent...before someone's voice pulls me out.

Holy shit, what's wrong with me?

Just because we played tongues last night, I shouldn't be drawn to him like this.

Jesus Lilly, get a grip.

"Okay, you two can kiss later, I really need to give the birthday girl a hug!"

I shake myself in and back away from Chase as smoothly as possible before my eyes find auntie Katherine. She stood a few inches away from us, and when our gazes meet, she breaks into the sweetest smile.

Ignoring whatever that was, I walk to her and her arms quickly pull me into a very tight hug. I hug her back as she says, "Oh, happy birthday sweetie."

A smile lifts my lips and we pull away, she pinches my cheek and I frown at the gesture, "God, I can't believe you're all grown up," She mumbles, softly, "It was only yesterday when you were like two inches tall and running around hitting my son."

I chuckle and she raises her eyebrow, her gaze goes to Chase then to me, "True, you still do that," She shrugs, "But, you're no longer two inches tall."

I cross my arms over my chest and give Chase a very proud look. He scratches the back of his neck before he looks away. His smile is long gone by now and in its place came a look I couldn't decipher

"When did you get here?" I ask, my attention back on her.

"Last night." She says, "Remember how we agreed I'll stay the night with you and Max since your parents wont be here."

I nod, "I picked up Max from his friend's house and when I got here," Her eyebrows draw closer, "You were already asleep."

I nod again, "Yeah, I got tired." Of someone. Or more like ran away from him.

"Okay, now let me finish tiding up the room," She says, "And you two, go to the kitchen and wait for me to make you breakfa-" Her eyebrow raises, "Or you know what, you're both old enough, so go make your own damn breakfast."

She said the last part with her hand on Chase's shoulder pushing him out of the room, "Come on," She looks between us, "Go, go."

When we arrive to the kitchen, I mumble, "Why whenever your mother is around, she squeezes us into one room and leaves us alone on purpose."

He sighs and mumbles under his breath, "I have no idea."

I shake my head with a sigh before I open the fridge and grab some painkillers. I opened the cap and was about to pop two pills into my mouth when suddenly, the little bottle was snatched out of my hand.

My eyes shoot to him and my mouth hangs open in shock. His eyebrow raises, "Eat something first."

At that, my lips twitch into a very sweet smile. I batt my eyelashes at him, ever so innocently, "I like pancakes."

He nods, "With blueberries, right?" He asks seriously and I nod, excitedly, "You know me so well."

He leans in closer, his scent again invading my senses and leaving me dizzy, "That, I do." He mumbles, and his arm reaches around my body, almost touching me.

On cue, my mind took me back to last night when those same hands held into my face, ran through my hair then over my body. There was no stopping the way my lips parted on instinct at the memory.

His nose almost brushing mine, his heat spreading across my face, and I felt myself leaning forward.

All of a sudden, my little bubble got popped up when he pulled away and a box of cereals was shoved into my chest, "Unfortunately, that's all you're getting."

It took me a full second to make sense of what happened and tried to pull some oxygen back into my lungs. He was just grabbing the cereal's box and I thought he was going to kiss me. Okay, is this some kind of a post-first kiss syndrome or what?

It has to be.

I am just sick. That's all.

It's not like he was such a good kisser. Damn him. I wonder how many girls he had kissed before. Many, I'd assume.


Why did that thought bother me this much?


I frown as I gaze at the box in my hands, "But, I want pancakes!" I whine.

Chase pops his head from beside the fridge, "And I want world peace, but that's life."

Ugh again.

"Morning!" I heard Aylin's voice before I saw her leisurely walk into the kitchen like it's her own house. I sigh in relief; I need the distraction. She smiles at me and her eyebrow raises teasingly as she pointes between us, "We need to talk!"

Her gaze drifts to Chase who was pouring himself some orange juice, "Hey Chase!" She says, almost squealing to which he gives her a nod in return.

I sit on the stool and she seats herself beside me. Leaning closer, she whispers, "God, it must be great to be you."

My eyebrow raises in question, "Why?"

She nods her head forward toward Chase, "Because you wake up to that!" She sighs dreamily and I punch her arm to stop her from eyeing him like that.

"All I wake up to is dad complaining about being unemployed and mom being her bitchy self!" She says with a roll of her eyes, "Can we exchange lives for a day?"

I shake my head immediately. To be honest, I don't like her parents and I think they don't like me either.

Aylin and I talk for a while as we eat our cereal, not pancakes, no, cereals, because someone is a jerk. She asks about Zack and I dismiss the subject for the meantime.

When Max walks into the kitchen, he high-fives Chase and mumbles something to him before he walks closer to me. The happy look in his eyes was enough to make me uncomfortable. What is he up to?

He leans across the table and smiles so innocently, so fake. His hand reaches out and pinches my cheek as he talks. I push it away, "So, how do you think dad will react when he knows that his little sweet girl was drinking last night?"

I shoot him a glare and lean forward, my eyes narrow at him, "Oh, and I wonder what mom would say when she knows about those magazines you keep under the bed."

At my words, his smile drops and he huffs out a breath. He pulls away and mumbles, "Okay, we're even."

Yup, that oughta do it.


"Don't be late," Mom stressed out as she grabbed at my arm, "Also, don't eat a lot, we're having the barbecue in a couple of hours only."

I sighed and gave her a nod before she finally released me. I so hate family gatherings. Something good at work happened so dad decided to throw this barbecue and invite god knows who.

Mom drove away and Aylin's arm tangled with mine as we walked into the mall. School is starting in two days and we needed to buy a couple of things.

"Sally said she won't be able to make it, she is still jet lagged," Aylin said while texting on her phone.

I sighed, sadly. Sally was our third friend. The one I secretly love more than Aylin. Yup, she was sweeter and closer to my heart. She is actually from France and just last night, she got back from her summer vacation with her grandparents in there.

"Hey there, hot thing!" A voice suddenly said from beside us. Ignoring him, we continued our way inside. The guy swaggered up to us and leered, "Well, don't you both look just fine!"

I rolled my eyes and contemplated whether to pull out my pocket knife yet or not. I sighed and circled my way around him and walked, so did Aylin.

She gasped and suddenly halted in her steps. I stopped as well and looked at her. Her eyes widened, "He freaking slapped my ass."

Now, that requires more than my knife.

"Hold on," I walked back to the guy, whose eyes never left us. I smiled innocently at him and his smirk grew bigger, "Changed your mind?" He asked with a raise of his eyebrow.

I nodded, "But what about my friend?"

His gaze went to her and his brown eyes twinkled, "Well, I wouldn't mind if she'd join too!"

I giggled and inched closer, my hand went to his shoulder, distracting him. His eyes were scanning my body hungrily. He was distracted alright.

There wasn't that many people around us which only made it easier. Not giving him another second to react, my jaw tightened as I brought my knee up to his sensitive place and kneed him where the sun doesn't shine.

He groaned and fell over. So sweet.

People around us looked but no one interfered. Even better.

My eyebrow raised as he clutched his ding-dong and whimpered in pain, "Remember this the next time you touch a girl without her permission!" I hissed at him before I walked to Aylin, who looked beyond stunned.

Once I reached her, she bursted into fits of laugher, "Oh god, that was so good!"

I shrugged innocently, "What?"

After that, Aylin and I toured around the mall and bought a couple of stuffs before we headed toward the food court. Barbecue or not, I am starving right now.

I was about to take my tray when Aylin tugged at arm, "Look, it's Conner and Chase!" She said before she scurried toward them so fast.

I huffed out a breath and cursed a few colorful words under my breath. See why I hate him. He's everywhere. He's there when I sleep, he's there when I wake up, he's here at the mall, he's at the school and I am pretty sure he'll be at the barbecue later.

I really need to live in a Chase-less world.

But right now, I had no choice but follow along. Much to my luck, the only available chair was the one by his side. I let out an annoyed breath and slammed my tray against the table before I sat down.

"Jeez!" He mumbled lowly and I ignored him.

"What are you guys doing here?" Aylin asked as I took a fry into my mouth.

Chase's hand reached out and he took one of my fries. My eyes widened and I slapped his hand away. He looked at me innocently, "What?"

I shot him a glare and moved my tray further away from his reach.

"Chase and I were getting a few things then Zack called and--" Conner started and every other word after his name didn't make it to my head.

"Zack?" I asked, gulping down, "Is he here?"

Conner nodded, "Yeah, he just went to get his food."

My eyes widened and I pushed the tray back to Chase's side, "Eat as much as you want." I mumbled, suddenly feeling full.

I grabbed the spoon and looked at my face in it. It looked way too big but still...I looked nice. Bless my good genes.

I fixed the loosened strands of my hair and I heard Chase scoff. I kicked him in the shin before I fixed my shirt, pulling it down and letting it expose very little of my chest.

My breasts weren't that big or anything but I was still proud of them.

A hand wrapped around the neck of my shirt and pulled it up again. I gasped and turned around, shooting Chase a hard glare.

I pulled it back down and to annoy me more, he pulled it up, his eyes hardened, "Stop doing that!" He hissed.

My jaw tightened and I slapped his arm, "Don't interfere in my life!"

The thought of punching his face faded away when I heard Zack's amused voice, "Oh, look who is here."

I turned around and met his gaze. His smile was so big and beautiful. He took a chair from the table beside us and placed it between me and Aylin.

My heart tripped as my eyes slipped all over him. His blonde hair pulled back neatly, and he wore a fitted black tee and jeans. I sighed. Oh man, I almost forgot how hot he is.

He oozed danger and menace, all of that wrapped up in one big, playful bow.

"Lilly," He drew out my name so softly, coaxing me to look at him, "Last night was really fun." He added when our gazes met.

My eyebrow raised and I playfully remarked, "Yeah, it helped you get laid the least."

He chuckled and shrugged, "You can say so."

True he was hot, but he was a big SOB.

SOB is the abbreviation dad uses when he doesn't want to put a dollar in the swear jar.

Let's just say, that jar could fund my collage tuitions by now.

"So, are you and Chloe a thing now?" Aylin asked, for my benefit.

He took a bite of his burger and shook his head, "Nope." He muttered casually, "She is not my type."

She is not your type and you were sucking her face in my kitchen. I mentally scoffed.

Well, Chase is not your type either and you played tongues with him last night. My consciousness remarked back, with her hands over her hips.

Aylin scoffed, "Well, you gotta be careful," She warned him, "She is already spreading the news that you're something of an item."

He almost chocked on his burger. He coughed and placed it down. I smiled as I patted his back, playfully, "She does seem to like you."

He wiped at his mouth and turned to me. His eyebrow raised, "Everyone likes me, Lilly." He winked in my direction. He may have said it as a joke but it was true. He's got fans.

"Woah.." Conner mumbled, talking with Aylin about something before his eyes shot to me, they widened, "Did you really kick a guy in the nuts?"

I shrugged and Chase went into a coughing fit beside me, I turned to him as he placed the plastic cup down and seemed to be choking on his drink.

My eyebrow raised and he gulped down, "Did you?"

I nodded, "What's so weird about that?" I questioned, "Let it be a message to every other guy." I said the last part while looking at Chase, a warning look in my eyes, daring him to ever kiss me again or he'll end up with that same fate.

Zack chuckled beside me and the sound of his laugh alone made me smile. He threw his arm around my shoulder and I think I melted, he pulled me closer to him, "Well, we stan a badass!"

I gave him smile and on instinct, my body leaned further into his touch. My eyes went back to Chase who went silent after I threatened him with my eyes.

He had his gaze on Zack's arm but when I looked, he turned his head right away. His side faced me now, the muscles of his jaw tightened and his fingers wrapped tighter over the plastic cup.

What's with him? Whenever Zack is around lately, he gets all weird.

After an hour, we decided to head back home. We spent it all with the guys, me indirectly flirting with Zack and him being his usual charming self. Conner trying to charm Aylin and she leading him on for no apparent reason.

And then, there was Chase being his usual annoying self.

"For how long you gonna keep leading Conner on?" I asked Aylin as we stepped on the electric stairs.

She shrugged, "I'd like to keep him aside as a plan B," She said ever so casually and I shot her a glare, "That's not cool, you know."

Conner was my friend too, he is such a sweet guy and he seems to genuinely care about her.

"If you don't like him just tell him," I said, seriously, "Just don't keep leading him on like that."

She rolled her eyes, "I mean he is sweet and everything but..." She hesitated before she said, "He is know...poor."

One of the reasons that repelled me from her was how shallow she can be.

"Seriously now?" I asked, totally annoyed.

"Come on, everyone in school talks about it, his father in an addict and his mother whores around to get some money for them,"

"That could be only rumors, and even though, their life is none of your business!"

We all know that the only way Conner got into our school was through a scholarship; he was a smart kid, dedicated to his education and so sweet. I really admire him for all of that.

But then, there's Aylin...

"I am just saying, I don't want that type of person in my life," She said.

"Then stop leading him on."

"Okay, Jesus, I thought you liked Zack not Conner!" She added, mockingly.

I only rolled my eyes at her, not in the mood to get into an argument.

We were about to step out of the mall when I realized I am missing one the shopping bags.

I groaned in frustration, "I think I forgot one of the bags upstairs."

"Okay, I'll stop a taxi, and you go get it." She said and I immediately headed back inside.

A minute or two and I was back up again. They were all still sitting in the same place making it easier to spot my shopping bag.

"She's so into you, dude." The words that came out of Conner's mouth made me stop.

"Who? Lilly?" Zack asked.

My eyes widened and I hid behind the nearest pillar, enough to hide me and enough for me to hear.

"Yes, it's so obvious," Conner commented, "She's sending you signals all over the place and you're so stupid to notice!"

I smiled and peeked at them. At least Conner was smart enough to pick it up. Maybe, Zack can finally see it too.

"I kind of sensed it before." Zack said, amusingly, "Actually one time, I was about to give it a shot but when I asked Chase, he told me that she didn't like me." His eyes went to Chase, "Right?"


"Does she?" He asked again and Chase shrugged, "I don't know."

Oh, that SOB.

"I am telling you, man." Conner interjected, "She is always asking about you, even Aylin hinted it a couple of times, just saying.."

"Oh wow," Zack said as he leaned back into his seat, one corner of his lip lifted up in a smirk, "That gives me something to think about."

Oh shit. What does he mean?

Chase only looked at him silently before he turned away.

"Chase, are you okay?" Conner asked, grabbing his attention, "You're surprisingly non hyper-verbal today," He nodded to his hand and winced, "And you're squeezing the shit out of that cup!"

Chase seemed to notice that too and he loosened his grip, "Yeah, I am fine." He mumbled and scratched the back of neck.

He got to his feet, "I'll be right back."

I saw him head toward the restroom. Circling my way around so they don't notice me, I followed him right away.

I jogged faster so I can catch him. Once I was close enough, my hand reached to the back of his shirt, tugging at it so he could halt to a stop.

Confused, he turned around. I glanced up at his face. Turbulent blue eyes stared down at me. First, there was a bit of shock but in them I felt a range of emotions, a warning, an appeal. Anger and something else.

I crossed my arms over my chest and gave him my most murderous glare,

"You've got some serious explaining to do."

Related chapters

Latest chapter Protection Status