Status: Finally finished.

Just the Way I’m Not.

Deuxième partie.

“Jack! Stop!” I squealed. “Jack, oh my God!”

As it turned out, Jack’s new favorite pastime was tickling me. For the first long while after the stomach-tickling incident, he’d let it slide. But one evening right before finals, as we were throwing malted milk balls at each other, he grabbed right behind my kneecap. I screamed bloody murder, faltering into laughter. The look on Jack’s face was priceless!

From there, to staying up until four in the morning on a humid Baltimore night, it just escalated.

“I’ll stop when you apologize,” the lanky boy countered. He had one hand pressed into my stomach and the other behind my knee.

“J-Jack! I don’t even know what I d-did!” I squawked as his hand pressed just so under my knee. “Oh my God, Jack, stop!” I knew I was going to end up flailing and hurting either or both of us. But he was dead set on this tickling match.

“F-fine!” I screamed.

He stopped, leaning back to look at me. “You’re going to apologize now?”

“I’m sorry.”

“For…?” he prodded, smiling slightly.

“I’m sorry that I am one sexy motherfucker.”

His smile fell for only a fraction of a second before he was heartily laughing. “You’re a little shit. You know that, right?”

“Oh, you know,” I smirked. I yawned into my elbow. “Jack,” I whined, “it’s four in the morning.”

“Yeah, and I’m sure your parents have told us to shut up more than once now.”

I rolled back onto the living room floor. “Maybe. But can you blame them? It’s four in the morning and we’re up giggling.”

He rolled onto his stomach, leaning on his elbow and looking over at me. He smiled at me before reaching over and tucking a lock of my hair back behind my ear. Then, he curled his hand around my neck and pulled me closer to him.

The soft sigh that passed my lips made his smirk pull back just a little further. I carefully closed the gap between us and kissed him.

The overhead light flicked on, temporarily blinding us. We both jumped back, my heart beating heavily in my chest.

“Alexander, don’t you think it’s time Jack was on his way?” my mother asked from her spot at the doorway.

My head lolled back and hit the floor heavily. “Ow. And Mom, it’s four in the morning.”

She pursed her hips at my excuse. “The couch is free,” she conceded. “But your father and I have work tomorrow. So please try and keep it down.”

“Okay, Mom.”

The light flicked off and her steps withdrew from downstairs.

I sighed, exasperated. “Sorry about that.”

Jack laughed. “Don’t worry about it.”

“Do you… you know, want to come upstairs to sleep? I don’t know why she freaks out about boys in my room. She’s walked in on worse than sleeping.” I gathered myself up and helped Jack.

“Um, I mean, I don’t have to. The couch is fine, Alex.”

“That won’t do.”

“Yes it will, Alex. I’m fine.”

“Best friend snuggles,” I declared.

He rolled his eyes, but conceded because he couldn’t say no to that. “Fine, lead the way.”

As we tiptoed up the stairs, he reached down and pinched my ass, causing me to yelp. “Jack,” I whispered-yelled. “You ass!”

“Oh, you know,” he smiled. He pushed me up the final steps and down the hall into my room. He flopped back on my bed, twisting himself in the sheets and leaving no room for me.

I stripped down to my boxers and poked at the mass of blankets. “Let me in.”

He peaked his head out from between the covers. “You’re in your boxers.”

“Dude, you’ve seen me in my boxers plenty of times.”

“That’s true.” He allowed me into the warmth of the blankets. We wrestled around for a few minutes before finding a comfortable position. Our legs tangled and our chests pressed together. “Happy?” he whispered, his breath fanning over my face.

“Mm, for now,” I allowed. I closed my eyes and tightened my grip on him. “Good night Jack.”

“Night Lex.”

I shifted around a few more minutes before being able to fall asleep.

After a dreamless nap, I woke up around eleven. Jack was laying perpendicular over my body, his head successfully pinning me down on the bed and pushing right on my bladder. I had to piss like a racehorse.


“Mm’nah?” He nuzzled his face further into my stomach.

“Holy shit!” I jumped at the added pressure, not-so-elegantly throwing him off of me. I quickly hobbled down to the bathroom and relieved myself. “Oh God, y-yes,” I moaned. “Fuck, yes.”

“Are you taking a piss or jerking it?” Jack called from outside the door, tapping on the wood.

“Shut up.”

“Just remember: ‘Shake it once, that’s fine; shake it twice, that’s okay; shake it three times, you’re playing with yourself.’”

“Shut up and let me piss in peace!”

He laughed. “Whatever.”

I washed my hands, then followed him back to my room. “Your heavy head was on my bladder.”


I flipped him off and crawled up my bed.

“You’ve got a nice ass,” he narrated.

“Oh my God, just stop talking!” I blushed.

“Don’t you like when I compliment you?”

“That is not a compliment!”

“Sure it is.” He got in bed with me. “You see, the ass is only something but few have successfully rocked. And you are of those people.” He reached around and grabbed me. I squawked and jumped forward into him. He laughed. “That’s cute.”

“It’s not cute. That’s embarrassing.” I smacked his shoulder. “Don’t be an ass.” I heard laughing from downstairs, which made my ears prick. I could tell it wasn’t just my mom. “There’s someone downstairs with my mother,” I whispered.

“Wow, don’t freak out. It could be your father.”

I shook my head, no. “It’s two women.” I pushed him back. “Let’s go investigate.”

“Don’t you think they want their privacy?”

“I’m hungry,” I pouted; like that was a good reason to eavesdrop.

“You’re going to Hell. You know that, right?”

“At least you’ll be there with me,” I smiled sweetly.

He hemmed and hawed for a moment. “Fine. Lead the way.”

I pushed myself out of bed, pulling on a pair of skinny jeans and a shirt. We snuck down the hall to the stairwell. The laughter got louder. “That sounds so familiar,” I mumbled.

I crept down the stairs until I was at the bottom. Jack ran into me when I stopped just outside the door to the kitchen.

“Sorry,” he whispered, a hand resting on my hip. He leaned into my back as I listened.

“…. I don’t know what to think, Isobel. The boy Zack is hanging with just is so… wrong for him. I understand that Alex did what he had to. But I just can’t help but think that my son just threw away a perfect relationship with your son.”

“I can understand that. Alexander has been a little depressed about it. I mean, they were best friends for eight years.”

There was a heavy sigh. “Isobel, how do you tell your child that the person they are hanging out with isn’t good for them?”

“Well, I don’t think it’s my place to tell Alexander who he should or shouldn’t hang out with. He has his friends that he can choose to hang out with.”

“I know it’s no place of mine. But you don’t know this kid. He looks at my son like he’s just an object. I’m not comfortable with the kid.”

“I know. But they have to grow up and make their own decisions. They made the decision to get engaged. And they made the decision to call it off. You have to believe everything that happens, happens for a reason. As much as you and I don’t like it, our sons won’t be getting back together.”

“I know. I just wish Zack wasn’t so stupid.”

At this point, I made my presence know, stepping into the kitchen and making it seem like I hadn’t just been listening to their conversation. Jack followed me. “Morning Mom, oh hi Mrs. Merrick.”

“Hello Alex,” she responded, nodding at me. “How are you?”

“I’m good. And yourself?”

She sighed again. “Well, you know.” Her eyes flicked to Jack. “Oh, who is this?”

“This is my best friend, Jack,” I smiled, pushing on his back so he would step forward.

“Hello,” he mumbled awkwardly.

“Nice to meet you.” She shared the look with my mother, to which my mom responded with a shrug. Whatever.

“So Jack,” I smiled. “Are you hungry?”

He coughed. “Um, yeah. Yes I am.”

“Do you want scrambled eggs and toast?”

“Uh, yeah. Sure.” He rubbed the back of his neck.

“Isobel, it was nice talking to you,” Zack’s mother smiled. “Alex, I’ll see you around.”

“Goodbye, Mrs. Merrick.”

She nodded, looking over at Jack. “It was nice meeting you… Jack.”

“You as well.”

When the front door shut, Jack seemed to breathe a little easier.

“Jack, will you help me make breakfast please?”

He jumped at my voice. “Uh, yeah, sure.”

My mother cleared her throat. “I’m going to run some errands. Don’t burn the house down.”

“I’ll try,” I mumbled absently.

She sighed. “I’ll be back in a few hours, your father will be back around five. Don’t burn my house down.”

“I won’t. God.” As she walked out, I continued with, “You’re an emotional wreck for too long and they think you want to burn everything you hold dear to your person. God.”

As soon as the sound of the car faded, I got to work on breakfast. I sighed somewhere between cracking the eggs and dropping them into a hot skillet.

“What’s wrong?”

“Hm?” I mumbled, turning to look at Jack.

“You sighed. So what’s on that pretty mind of yours?”

“Zack’s mother….”

Jack choked on his breath. “You’re not suddenly into your ex-fiancé’s mother, are you?”

I shot him a look. “No! You sicko.”

“You said you were thinking about his mother. I’m just checking.”

“Okay, let me elaborate. Zack’s mother was just talking to my mother about him and Martin.”

“Yeah, okay?”

“She still wants me to be with him. She wishes that Zack hadn’t been so stupid. She thinks Martin isn’t any good for him.”

“Alex, he made his decision to throw away the best relationship he’ll ever have. You are not at fault. He couldn’t see how much you were giving him. And he wasn’t giving back.”

“Yes he was!” I defended.

“Sex is not the only thing he should have given you for all the time and energy you invested in him. I’m sorry, Alex. I really am. I’m sorry that he can’t see what an amazing person you. And I’m sorry that you can’t see.”

“See what?”

“You can’t see that I’m trying so fucking hard to work with you. I like you, Alex. I like you a lot. But you don’t want to admit that you like me too.”

“Jack, you know I do. It’s just… way too soon.”

A frown pulled across his features. “We’re starting our fall semester in two weeks, Alex. It’s been six fucking months.

My eyes stung as I felt the tears threatening to fall. “You just so stupid, Jack. You don’t know what it’s like to invest so much time in someone just for them to toss you to the curb. Zack had been my best friend for eight years. I’m not just going to be okay about it after six fucking months. I know how much you want me. I have since we returned from winter break. But I just can’t right now, Jack. And God dammit, I need you to understand that.”

The shattered look that splattered itself against his face almost made me want to pull him into my arms and kiss him. “Who told you I liked you?”

I sighed. “You did. You got drunk, wanted me to snuggle you, and you ended up telling me that you liked me. The bad thing is that I liked you too. But I couldn’t do anything because I was with Zack and I was trying to be faithful. I… I guess that’s why breaking it off with Zack was too easy for me. Because there were moments between you and I that made me realize how much Zack sucked. But I couldn’t leave him because he was the first person to lust after me.” I stopped when the word slipped out. My hand went to cover my mouth.

“You do realize that you just admitted that Zack lusted after you, right?” Jack prodded.

I nodded robotically.

“You deserve someone who isn’t just in it because someone else has you.”

I turned, eyes welling with tears, and pointed a finger at him. “You. You wanted me because I was with Zack. So don’t try to play the saint, Jack. By your standards, you’re a fucking hypocrite.”

He took a courageous step toward me. “I didn’t just want you because you were with him. I want you because I saw how deflated you were when someone didn’t love you just as much as you did them. I wanted to show you that there was someone there who wanted you, all your faults and virtues. Someone who wouldn’t make excuses to be elsewhere, but instead made excuses to be with you. You fucking deserved that. You weren’t getting that. And I wanted to guarantee that you did. So fucking sue me. But before you go calling me a fucking hypocrite, you should get your fucking facts straight.”

He let out an angry huff. “You’re right about one thing, Alex. I don’t know what it’s like to invest so much time in someone just for them to toss me to the curb. But, you know what, I’m not stupid to what it can do to someone. I’m not dumb to everything that happened to you, jackass.” He turned, grabbed his phone from the island, and stormed out.

I let a nerve-wracking sob out that I didn’t know I was holding in when I heard the front door slam shut. I fell to my knees on the kitchen floor and hid my face in my hands.

Seriously, was there one relationship I couldn’t fuck up? Because I was doing a wonderful job with all of the ones in my life.


We did a phenomenal job ignoring each other until we absolutely had to. Which basically meant that the last couple weeks of our “carefree” summer. I couldn’t really ignore him as I slammed right into him on-campus the second week.

“Oh Jesus, sorry,” I rushed, reaching down to pick up my things.

He laughed. “You have a thing with walking into me.”

I quirked a smile. “Well, you know.”

He leaned down to help me gather my shit together. “Look, Alex; about two weeks ago—”

“No, don’t worry about it. It’s all water over the dam. I was an idiot. I’m sorry. And if it’s not too much, I want my best friend back. I need you back.”

He rubbed his jaw thoughtfully. “Well, you know, I don’t think I can handle such an emotional wreck as my best friend—”

I smacked his chest. “Don’t be an asshole.”

He slung his arm over my shoulder. “I’ll always be your best friend, Lex.” He pressed his nose into my hair. “I missed you.”

I nuzzled against his shoulder. “…Missed you, too; you big dumb, dummy head.”

He laughed and led me across the campus. “See, I missed your sassiness.”

“Good.” I stuck my tongue out at him.

“Do you want to go get some coffee?”

“Uh, sure. Let me just drop my shit off and then we can go to that place you introduced me to.”

“Sweet. I’ll help you.” He reached over and took some of my stuff. We headed to my room and dumped my stuff on my bed.

“Are you staying on-campus this year?” I asked, seeing as we weren’t rooming again this year.

“Actually, no. Rian and I got this place just off-campus. Cass is staying with us as well.”

“Oh?” I muttered as we stepped into the muggy September air. I nearly choked.

“Yeah, they have been together for a few years and decided to move in together.”

“Won’t you feel awkward?”

“Why should I?”

“Well, because they’re… you know.”

“Look, I’m not living Rian’s life. I’m just bumming a place from him. I have this paid internship so I’ll be able to support myself. And someone of interest, if they like.”

I smirked. “Subtle.”

“Well, you know how I feel. I’m just glad that we’re talking again.”

“Speaking of: the past weeks I’ve been thinking a lot.”

“Thinking? And your brain didn’t explode?”

I chuckled. “It didn’t, and shut up! Anyway. You made a lot of good points. I was just being stupid at the time. I’m sorry.”

He smiled. “No, I get it, Alex. I was kind of pressuring you into something.”

We walked down the sidewalk in silence for a few minutes.

“I really like you, too, Jack,” I muttered quietly. “And I want to see where this can go. I just have the baggage that I do. It’s not going to go away anytime soon.”

“I can respect that, Alex. You have forged a path through your life and the scars on your heart prove that you made it out alive.”

“You know, that’s really philosophical…. Oh my god! Where did my best friend go?”

“Hardy-har-har. I think these things all the time. I just may not say them.”

“Oh my God, my best friend might actually be smart!”

“Shut up, Alex,” he laughed, pushing me away lightly.

“Hey, I’m just dishing out the same shit you do to me,” I smirked.

“Yes, but when I do it, it’s funny.”

I faux-gasped and smacked him. “I hate you.”

He slapped my ass. “No you don’t.” He gently placed his hand on the small of my back and pushed me toward the entrance of the coffee shop I liked. He held open the door and let me in. We walked up to the cash register and smiled at the young girl working. She also went to UCLA with us.

“Hey, Jack,” she giggled in her Australian accent.

“Hey Jenna. How are you?”

“Oh, you know. And yourself?”

Jack’s hip rubbed up against mine. “Really good, actually. How’s your boyfriend?”

“Good, real good.” She looked over at me. “And how are you, Alex?”

I nodded, looking at Jack’s profile. “I’m pretty good, lately.”

She smiled at us. “So are you together finally?”

“Not yet,” I allowed.

“Or how I like to look at it, he’s a cocktease,” Jack sighed, rolling his eyes playfully.

I nailed him in the stomach with my elbow. “Maybe you don’t play with me enough,” I countered.

He shook his head at me, ignoring my comment, and nodded up at the menu. “What do you want?”

“Um… I guess what I normally have….”

“You have to tell her, Alex. She can’t read your mind.”

“Actually,” Jenna interjected, “you’ve been getting coffee here enough that I know both orders.”

I stuck my tongue out at Jack. “Haha.”

“You’re an ass.”

“I know. You tell me often enough.” I looked down at the glass case with all the sugary snacks. “I kind of want something sweet, too. If I get one of those, Jack, would you split it with me?”

He looked over at my shoulder to see that I was pointing to a cinnamon bun. “You can get your own, you know.”

“Yeah, but that’s way too sugary for me to eat it all.”

“I think you just like being stubborn,” he mumbled, motioning to Jenna that we wanted one of the cinnamon buns as well. “Do you want anything else?”

I kissed the underside of his jaw. “No, that’s all I wanted. I’m going to go sit down.”

“And make me carry everything to you?”

“Yes. I’m needy like that.” I turned and skipped off to a table.

He trudge after me and set my coffee in front of me, as well as my little treat. He sat down across from me and smiled. “You’re really not that bad, you know.”

I nodded. “I know. I’m just trying to make you my bitch.”

“If you really needed a lacky, you could’ve just asked.”

“Would you have agreed?”

“Perhaps.” He smiled at me before his gaze flicked behind me. Hatred flashed in his eyes for only a moment before it dissipated.

“What’s wrong, Jack?”

“Nothing. Seriously, don’t worry.”

I went to turn around. “I know it’s something—”

He grabbed my hand. “I said, don’t worry about it. ’Kay?”

“I can see how upset you are by whatever it is.” I turned around and scanned the coffee shop, my heart falling.

Walking up to the cash register was Zack and Martin.

I was quick to turn back around, feeling tears prick my eyes. “Oh my God, what are they doing here?”

“I don’t know. Do you want to leave?”

My stomach made a move up my throat. “I think I’m going to be sick.”

Jack stood up, gathering me into a standing position. We started for the door. But before we could get to safety, my mind had decided on its own thing.

Pulling out of Jack’s grip and turning around to face a faux-startled Zack, I screamed, “Why can’t you just love me, for Christ’s sake?”

The entire coffee shop froze and the look of pure horror that replaced his smirk was almost funny.

“Alex,” Jack whispered from behind me, his hand tugging on mine lightly.

Zack took a deep breath. “That’s the thing; I did love you, Alex.”

I let out a sob, tears rushing down my face, my knees almost buckling under me.

Lex! Come on,” Jack tried again, tugging just a little harder on my arm.

No!” I wailed, unaware to whom I was addressing this outburst. “Why can’t you love me now!” I cried.

There was a sharp pain in my arm as Jack finally got me moving toward the door, sans a response from Zack.

My knees finally did give out on me as we crossed the street. I almost couldn’t find it in me to continue moving.

“No, no, no, Alex,” Jack muttered. “You need to keep walking. Please! At least until we’re out of the road. Please, Alex,” he begged.

I needed to lean most of my weight against him to do it, but I managed to cross the street. As soon as we were on the other side, I collapsed onto the ground. I hid my face in my hands and curled in on myself.

“Alex, please. We need to keep moving.”

I shook my head, no. “Don’t wanna.”

He sighed heavily. “Come on, I’ll carry you.”

I looked up at him incredulously. “What?”

“My new apartment is a block that way,” he squinted, pointing the way we had been stumbling. “I will carry you there if I have to.”

I sniffled and drew the back of my hand across my nose. “No. I can walk. Help me up.” I held up my hands for him to take.

He pulled me up, steadying me before we continued on our way. We didn’t say anything all the way to his place, which I was thankful about. He let himself in while balancing me on his side and then led me to his apartment.

As soon as I was inside and the door was closed, I fell to the ground and sobbed out loud.

“Jack?” a female voice called from deep inside the apartment, followed by the sound of heels clicking on the hardwood floors. “Oh my goodness! Jack, what happened to him?”

I curled in on myself.

“We saw Zack at the coffee shop. He cried all the way here, nearly couldn’t make it. Can you help me get him to my room? I think what he needs right now is rest.”

“Yeah, absolutely. Come on.”

I managed to my feet, with the help of Jack and Cass, and stumbled down to a bedroom.

“We can just set him… here, on my bed.” My back hit the sheets. “Thank you Cass. I mean… thank you.”

I rolled over and buried myself into the covers.

The bed dipped beside me. “Lex.”

I wrapped myself around Jack and then pulled the covers up around us.

“Hey, you’re okay now. I promise. It’s okay.”

“Why won’t he love me, Jack?”

He kissed my forehead. “Because he doesn’t see how great you are. Shh now, baby. It’s okay.”

I pressed my face into his shoulder. “No one will ever love me, will they Jack?”

“That’s not true, Alex. Not at all. There’s someone out there who’s willing to give you all of who they are. I promise.” His grip tightened just a little around me. “Now, get some rest, okay?”

“Mm, okay.” I leaned up and pressed my lips to the underside of his jaw before I closed my eyes and passed out.


I looked up at the wall in front of me, kind of really regretting my life.

“Stop pouting.”

“Huh?” I pulled my gaze from the wall to Jack, who was sitting at his dining room table next to me, with a bowl of Lucky Charms in front of him.

“You stopped talking, like, five minutes ago. You took to staring at that ugly painting Cass likes.”

“Hey!” said girl called from the kitchen.

“I said that I love you.”

“Uh-huh,” was the laugh in return.

Jack’s knee pressed against mine under the table. “So, what are you thinking about? I mean, aside from the obvious.”

I frowned. “Do you think Zack’s playing a psychological game on me?”

He sighed. “It’s been two weeks, Alex. You need to stop thinking about it. Yes, I’m sure he only did that to freak you out. But it’s not helping you to dwell on it. You’re making yourself worse by thinking about it. Okay?”

“You’re right,” I whispered. I picked at the dirt under my fingernails. “Hey, do you want to go on a date with me?”


“Come on, it’s been seven and a half months now. I need to get back on my feet. And who better than the guy who’s helped me through it all?”

“While I’m more than thrilled that you’re finally asking me, I didn’t mean you had to when I said to let the incident at the coffee shop go. If you’re not ready—”

“I am, Jack. I like you a lot, and you have been so kind to me, even though I been the biggest bitch in the world.”

He laughed. “Only a little bit.”

“So I want to take you out on a date.”

“Uh, okay. What are we going to do?”

“I like bowling?” I offered.

He grinned. “I like bowling, too.”

“Great! So it’s a date! See, I’m boss at this kind of stuff.”

He rolled his eyes playfully. “Yes, you’re a genius.”

Rian and Cass came into the room and sat down at the table with us. “What’s this about bowling?” Cass asked.

“Alex is taking me on a date and we’re going bowling.”

“I like bowling,” Rian interjected. “Can we come too?”

“Uh, sure?” I offered.

“We don’t have to,” Cass assured me, placing her hand on mine. “If you don’t want us there, then that’s fine.”

“Aw, but bowling. Cassadee, you know how much I like bowling.”

“If Alex is uncomfortable with us being there with him, we can go somewhere else to bowl. How does that sound?”

Rian smiled. “Sounds like a plan.”

“It’s fine if you come,” I smiled. “Plus, I think I’ll need some back-up on my first real date since before spring break.” I shared a look with Cass and she smirked back at me.

“Are you going to gang up on me?” Jack asked, a little worried.

“No. I just get kind of nervous.”

“It’s me, though.”

“Doesn’t matter. I’m trying to impress you, are I?”

He laughed. “Darling, you had me at ‘hello’.”

“You’re so weird,” I accused.

He nodded in the affirmative. “So how does Friday sound?” Jack asked.

“That’s fine,” we chorused.

“Sweet. A date. With Alex Gaskarth,” he gushed.

“Oh my God, can you not?” I asked, hiding my face and blushing like mad.

“Come on, I’ve been waiting, like, nine months for that. Let me have my moment,” he laughed. “It’s not every day when Alex Gaskarth asks someone out on a date.”

“I think I broke him,” I told no one in particular.

“He gets overstimulated easily. He’ll be fine after he resets,” Rian laughed. “Cass, are you ready to go?”

“Yeah, I just need to get some shoes.” She stood and tiptoed down to their room. Rian instinctively followed her.

“Are you sure you’re going to be okay going on a date?” Jack asked me.

I shrugged. “Jack, I want to move on with my life. I’m sick of this game Zack’s playing on me. I want to go out with you.”

“I’m just making sure, Alex. The last thing I need is for you to worry yourself into a tizzy about this.”

I nodded. “It’ll be a lot easier because you’ve been friends with me since I started at UCLA. I’ll be fine, Jack,” I promised.

“Okay.” He leaned over and pressed his lips to my temple. “Do you have class today?”


He nodded. “Do you want to watch a movie with me?”

Not Home Alone. Ooh, can we watch Mr. Nobody? I’ve been meaning to see that for the longest time. It seems like a really good movie.”


“Do we have malted milk balls?”

“Are we going to end up in a tickling match if we have them?”

“No, I just like them.”

“I’m sure we have some. If not, we can go get some.”

I smiled. “Thank you.”

He laughed. “Who am I to tell you we can’t have snacks during a movie? Duh, Alex.”

“You never know.”

Once he finished eating his bowl of cereal, I went to his room and set up the movie. He joined me a few minutes later. I was already hiding in the covers. I tapped the spot beside me. He crawled up onto the bed, repositioning me so I was laying back against his chest and sat between his long legs. He dragged the covers up around my chest.

I ended up falling asleep not even a half-hour into the movie. I suppose it was because I’d spent the night sitting up in Jack’s bed, talking to him about everything under the sun.

When I woke up, I was pressed chest to chest with the elder boy. He was absently playing with my hair while watching the rest of the movie. I turned my face up to him. “Hi.”

He smiled down at me. “Hey, how was your nap?”

“Pretty good.” I nuzzled my nose into his shoulder. “How long was I asleep for?”

“Like, an hour at the most.”

“Mm, okay.” I closed my eyes.

“Are you going to fall asleep again?”

“Probably, if you keep playing with my hair like that.”

“Oh. I can stop—”

“No, don’t.”

“But you’re going to fall asleep.”

“Yeah, so? I like having my hair played with. It’s an ongoing struggle.”

He laughed. “That’s good to know.” He kissed the top of my head.

I made a content noise and relaxed into him.

“You’re kind of a deadweight,” he groaned.

“You’re so comfy, though. Like a big, human-sized bean bag chair. Or one of those body pillows. But it would have to be plush.”

“Oh thanks,” he chuckled. “All I’m good for is being a body pillow.”

I nodded against his neck. “That you are.” I sighed. “But just mine.”

“That I can do for you.”


“Cass, I’m nervous.”

She laughed. “Why? This is just Jack we’re talking about.”

I walked down the aisles of clothes. It was Cass’ big plan for making me feel less nervous; to buy some new clothes for my date with Jack tonight. Seriously, is shopping the answer for everything with girls? “Yes, it’s Jack with whom I’m going on a date. But I can’t help my being nervous.”

“Oh. My. God. Alex, look at these pants.” She held up a pair of grey American flag jeans.

I burst out in laughter. “Oh my God, you are not getting me to wear those.”

“Please just try them on. I won’t make you get them if you don’t like them.”

“Cass!” I whined.

“I can’t help you if you don’t let me. Now go try them on.”

I trudged over to the fitting room, pulling my pants off my legs and replacing them with the jeans Cass had found. I checked out my ass in the mirror before cursing my female shopping companion. “I hate you, Cass.”

“I know. Now come out here and let me see you.”

She squealed when she saw me. “Oh my God, you look hot!

“What do I look like all the other times?”

“Adorable. But your ass!” she gawked.

“I can’t tell by the way you’re gawking if that’s a good thing or bad thing.”

“Okay, ‘your ass’ and ‘you look hot’ are both compliments. Do you see this?” she scoffed, pointing at my ass again. “If I were a guy, Alex… oh the things I would want to do to you.”

“Cass!” I screeched.

“You’re buying those pants. Now go change. I’ll find you something that goes with it.”

“I hate you!” I called as she giggled again, walking back to the fitting room. I kind of agreed with her, though. The jeans accentuated my best features. I just hoped Jack would like them.

By the time I found Cass, she was sifting through tops to go with the pants. She gasped, all heavy and dramatic.

“Do you remember when Rian told me that Jack gets overstimulated and that sometimes he needs to reset?” I asked her. “Yeah, that’s you right now. You’re going to make me look so ridiculous.”

She glared at me, holding up a white V-neck. “No, your outfit is going to say ‘Jack, see how great I look right now? Wait until you see me naked.’ Hey, will this go good with that plaid shirt you have?”

“I don’t know!” I hissed, as another customer gave us an unamused stare. “And Cass, maybe I don’t want Jack to be thinking about what’s going on underneath my clothes. I just want to survive a first real date.”

“You’re no fun. Are you like this in bed, too?”

“Oh my God, you’re too much right now.”

She shrugged. “Okay, so these pants and shirt, your plaid shirt, and grey beanie. And you will look so fucking hot. I promise. He’ll be drooling over you before the night is over.”

“You’re not letting me dress myself tonight, are you?”

“Nope,” she smiled. “Come on, I need a cup of coffee before we get started on getting ready.”

“It’s two thirty, Cass.”


“Oh my God, when did I die and go to Hell?” I grumbled to myself.

“I heard that.”

“You were supposed to.”

She dragged me out of the store, down and across a few blocks before stopping at the coffee shop for her apparently much-needed cup of coffee. When we finally reached the apartment complex, I nearly shouted for joy. Being here meant we were done walking around for the time being. But then I remembered that Cass wanted to start getting ready now. We had two hours until it was completely necessary that we got ready.

Rian and Jack had been told that they couldn’t be in the apartment all day, only coming to pick us up at six. I texted Jack to see what they were up to and he sent me a picture of a beer bottle with the label torn off, then one where he was faux-picking his nose.

“Ew,” I giggled.

After three hours of complete torture, twenty minutes of freaking out, and then a five minute date with the mirror as I looked at my ass again, I was finally ready.

I heard Jack and Rian laughing from the kitchen. I tugged on the fabric pulled taut against my legs as I made my way into the kitchen with Cass right behind me.

“Wow,” was all Jack muttered. He came over to me. “You look… wow.”

“Thanks,” I smiled, a blush creeping onto my cheeks. “Cass kind of helped me out.”

“Oh, is that so?” he laughed. “Well, thank you, Cassadee; you made him look fantastic.”

“Okay, so we’re ready to go now?” Rian asked, thoroughly excited to go bowling. He was almost vibrating in his seat.

“Yeah,” I smiled. “We’re ready to go.”

Jack held my hand as we walked to Rian’s car. I won’t lie, the action had my heart beating a little bit faster. He smiled down at me so I would blush again.

When we got to the bowling alley, Jack and I set up on one lane while Rian and Cass set up on the other end of the building. Cass winked at me, whispering in my ear before she left, “You’ll be fine all on your lonesome.”

I pouted at her, but she was already walking away.

“Are you ready, Alex?”

I turned to Jack. “Yeah, ready to kick your ass.”

“Good luck with that.” He motioned for me take the first turn. “Ladies first.”

“You’re mean to me!” I whined, picking up a hot pink bowling ball and placing my fingers in the three holes. I carefully swung my arm back and then propelled the heavy object down the lane. It was almost suspenseful as the ball glided down to the pins.

The groan of dissatisfaction Jack made when I got a strike was perfect. I turned and walked over to him, smirking.

“Don’t even say anything,” he laughed.

About halfway through our game, Cass came over. “How’s it going?”

“Jack’s got about a sixty percent shooting average,” I giggled. “We’re five frames in, right? And he’s guttered two of them.”

“I’m letting him win,” Jack defended. “What kind of date would I be if I trudged all over him?”

“A fun one,” I shot back.

He flipped me the bird as he went to take his turn. Which he guttered again. “Don’t say a thing, Alexander,” he grumbled as he took a seat.

“I’ll let you get back to your game,” Cass smiled. She kissed my cheek lightly and laughed when Jack made an indignant noise.

“’Kay. Thank you.” As soon as she walked back over to Rian, I turned to Jack.

“Don’t even look at me,” he smiled.

“Jacky, come here. I want to try something.”

“Nope, you’re just going to laugh in my face.”

I went over to him. “No. I want to be cliché with you for a minute.” I took his hands in mine and pulled him over to our lane. “I kind of want to be lame for a minute and do that thing where I ‘don’t know how to bowl’ and you help me.”

“What is the point of this?”

“I want to be silly for a minute. Please?” I pouted at him.

“Fine. But only this once.”


He stood behind me, placing his hand over mine on the ball. The other hand pressed into my hip. I put my free hand over his. We made the uniform draw backward and then released the ball down the lane. I didn’t even bother watching if it hit the pins. I turned my head, my hand reaching up to nudge Jack’s face down to mine. I leaned up and kissed him lightly. I turned in his arms and kept kissing him, my arms moving up around his neck to keep him in place against me. When he pulled away, he smiled.

“You know, if you wanted to kiss me, all you had to do was say so.”

“But that was more fun.” I looked down the lane. “Oh, and look; your first strike.”

“I hate you, Alex. You’re an ass,” he smiled, leaning in to kiss me again.

Rian and Cass finished their game before we did and came over to watch us. “How’s it going?” Rian asked as he sat down.

“Pretty good,” I smiled, “seeing how Jack’s losing like a little girl.”

“I’m letting him win,” Jack explained to Rian. “I’d be a terrible date if I won.”

“Really?” Rian smirked. “That’s your excuse?”

“It’s either that,” Cass interjected, “or he’s too focused on Alex’s ass to pay attention.”


This time it was Rian admonishing her.

“Well, it’s true,” she tried. “That’s why we got the pants.”

“I won’t lie,” Jack smirked, “that’s also a possibility.”

“Oh my God, you guys are so embarrassing!” I screeched. I folded my arms over my chest and pouted.

“Come on, Pouty Pants, let’s finish our game.” He tapped my ass as I went up for my next turn.

After we finished our game, we went out for dinner at a nice restaurant. It was nice and laidback, so I didn’t get anxious or anything.

On the way back to their apartment, we were in the backseat. Jack’s hand held onto mine. We kept stealing glances at each other, smiling sheepishly when we got caught by the other.

At one point when we looked at each other at the same time, I smiled and wiggled my finger at him. He unbuckled his seatbelt and moved over so he was pressed hip-to-hip with me.

“What’s up?” he whispered.

I leaned up and kissed him.

We moved around, me removing my seatbelt in an attempt to be a little closer to him. I ended up spread out across the backseat, head resting on the armrest, with Jack settled between my legs.

“You two better not be having sex back there,” Rian threatened.

Jack and I pulled apart in time to see Cassadee look over her seat. “No, you’re good,” she told her boyfriend, turning back around.

Jack pressed his face into my shoulder as we giggled quietly. Then we returned to making out, hands grabbing at shirts and hair, tugging and pulling us closer to each other.

When Rian pulled into the apartment complex parking lot, he turned around. “Hey, we’re home.”

“’Kay,” Jack whispered against my lips, but we made no move to get out of the car.

Instead, Rian and Cass left us in the back and went inside.

Sometime later, I felt Jack’s phone vibrate against my thigh.

“Holy shit,” he laughed, pulling back. “Sorry.” He pulled his phone out and looked at it. “Oh, it’s just Rian asking if we’re going to come in any time soon.” He dropped the device onto the floor and brought his lips back to mine.

I cupped his face in my hands and pulled back. “What time is it?”

“Like, ten-ten?”

“How is it ten already?”

“We went bowling at six, got to diner at eight, left around nine twenty, got here around nine forty, and we’ve been making out for about a half-hour since Rian and Cass went inside.”

I laughed. “Oh my God. That’s fantastic. I guess time does fly why you’re having fun.”

“Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana,” Jack joked.

I could help but laugh at him. “Wow,” was all I could think to reply. Then: “That was so lame.”

“But you laughed, so that’s all that matters.” He pecked my lips lightly. “Do you want to go inside now?”

My tongue darted out over my swollen lips. “Uh, yeah. It’s kind of cramped in here.”

He managed to open the door and crawl out backwards. I sat up, reaching for his phone, and then climbed out as well. He reached over and pulled my shirt down, as it had risen during our make out session. Then he fixed the beanie on top of my head.


“No problem.” He shut the door and the horn honked as the doors locked. Jack jumped slightly. He looked up at the apartment and flipped off one of the windows. “Dickhead,” he muttered.

I laughed. “Come on.” I took his hand in mine and we headed inside.

Rian was leaning against the wall in the foyer as we came in. “Nice of you to finally come in. I hope you guys didn’t make a baby in the back of my car.”

“Calm down, Rian,” Jack laughed. “We were just making out. Now if you don’t mind, Alex and I are going to bed.”

“By ‘going to bed’, do you mean sleeping or sex?”

“Sleeping, Rian. Calm your hormones.”

“I’m just making sure,” he smiled, throwing his hands up. “I don’t know what to expect from you guys now.”

I blushed. “Come on, Jack,” I mumbled as I pushed my way passed Rian. “I’m tired.”

“Don’t let what he says get to you,” Jack told me as he closed his bedroom door. “He’s just trying to get under my skin.”

“It didn’t bother me,” I assured him. I sat on his bed and took off my combat boots. “I’m just tired and want to snuggle.”

“Very subtle, Alex,” he smirked at me.

“Yes, I know,” I smiled. I worked off my plaid shirt, then the white V-neck. “Can’t blame a guy for trying, though. Can you?”

He traversed the room and came over to me. “I had a really great night tonight.”

“Yes, you had your ass beat while bowling.”

He rolled his eyes. “I told you. I was—”

“Letting me win. Yes, I know.” I stood up to take off my pants, but Jack was ahead of me. He was quick to pop the button and unzip my jeans. “This isn’t going further than cuddling, right?” I asked.

“Right’ I just wanted to help you. And you looked really good tonight.”

“You did, too,” I smiled, climbing up on his bed. “Now you can undress in front of me.”

He chuckled. “I’m not preforming a striptease for you.”

“Aw come on. I have a couple ones that I can throw at you.” I reached over the edge of the bed for my pants.

“Haha. I bet you think you’re funny.”

“That’s because I am.”

He lifted his shirt over his head. “I’m not doing this because you want me to strip for you.”

“Okay, if that makes you feel better about yourself.” I settled back against the pillow, hand resting behind my head.

“You’re so immature.”

“No, I just want some nudity.”

He threw his shirt at me. “Keep it in your pants.” He unzipped his pants and undid the button.

“Woo! Striptease!”

“What is it with you and wanting me to strip for you?”

“It would be awesome.”

He slid his pants down his long legs and stepped out of them. “There. Are you happy?”

“No, there was no sexual appeal to it. You’ll have to do it again.”

He pushed the covers of his bed back and laid down next to me. “I’m not doing that again. Now either you can snuggle with me like you wanted to, or you can huddle on your own corner of my bed tonight.”

“I’d much rather press up against my personal body pillow.”

He smiled, pressing his lips to the top of my head. “Good night, Alex.”

“Night Jack. And thank you.”


“You know, being silly with me today at the bowling alley. And for making today just the best day ever.”

Jack hid his face. “Oh God, I’m going to start singing ‘The Best Day Ever’ song from SpongeBob.”

I laughed and kissed his chin. “Good night, Jack.” I reached for the lamp chain and plunged us into darkness. I laid down so my back was pressed to his chest and drew the covers up around us.

About five minutes of silence, I heard him humming behind me.

“Stop humming, Jack,” I giggled.

“You got that damned song stuck in my head.”

I turned over. “What if we were to make out for a little while?”

“I can’t make any guarantees.”

“Oh well, I wanna kiss you senseless anyway.”

“Okay,” he allowed sheepishly.


“Hey kid, are you doing anything today?” Jack asked down the phone line.

“Uh, aside from eating ice cream from the pint and watching shitty romantic comedies, no.”

“Great, put some pants on, I’m picking you up.”

“How do you know I’m not wearing pants?”

“Alex, you’re sitting in your dorm on your twenty-first birthday eating ice cream. Are you wearing any pants?”

“Good point.”

“I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”

I hate to admit it, but I was sitting in my dorm doing nothing on my twenty-first birthday. I mean, aside from this moment right now, as I stuck my left leg in the right side of my pants, there hadn’t been any plans to go somewhere. What was I supposed to do? Go get trashed by myself? So I’d stuck to myself, finishing the book I’d been working on for the past couple of days. I hadn’t even gone home for Christmas this year. It was too expensive to keep traveling back and forth.

Jack let himself in just as he said he would. “Hey, happy birthday!” He gave me a hug. “I can’t believe you stayed cooped up in here all day like some creep.”

“Well, I couldn’t stand another awkward Christmas with my parents. And I didn’t want to impose myself on you.”

He laughed. “You? Imposing on me?” He took my hand in his and dragged me outside. “Alex, I don’t know where that came from, because you know I would rather hang out with you than be alone or something. So what do you want to do?”

“Um… I don’t know.”

“Come on, you’re twenty-one finally. Do you want to go to a bar?”


“You’re so awkward,” he smiled.

“Well, I don’t know. Normally, I go to parties with you and drink shit beer because no one is smart enough to bring anything good.”

“Then yeah. I’m taking you to the place across from my apartment. I mean, it’s close so we can get smashed without thinking. ’Kay?”


He laughed again. “It’s not that bad, Lex. Calm down.”

Jack had insisted on hard liquor, as I had complained about the parties he had taken me to being lame without it. So there we were, throwing back the shit that really tore your throat apart.

And Jack, when drunk I’d learned, was protective.

We were in the midst of taking shots when a girl, who had been making eyes at me from across the bar all night, walked over. She had blond hair and long legs and if I were into that, I probably would have went home with her. But Jack made my decision for me and didn’t hesitate to wrap a long, lanky arm around me and kiss me firm. She huffed away indignantly.

When Jack pulled away, I couldn’t stop giggling. “Mm, what was that for?” I slurred.

Another round was ordered. “I’m taking you home tonight. Not that slut. ’Kay?”

I nodded, transfixed on him. “Was that ever a question?”

He stared right at me before erupting into a fit of laughter. “I guess not.”

“Good. Because there’s no one here who I’d rather go home with more.” I looked around behind me. “Let’s go dance.”

“All right.” He took my hand in his and led me to the middle of the mass of sweaty bodies. He pulled me flush against him.

There was something so perfect in this drunk moment. I suppose it’s just the fact that it was Jack who I was dancing with, or that it was him who would be taking me home. Whatever it was, it had my heart rate spiking at the thought.

When we stumbled out onto the sidewalk later that night, we somehow managed to get across the street safely. We couldn’t stop laughing at how I had tripped in the sidewalk as we pushed our way into the apartment.

“Now,” Jack smiled. “Come here.” He wiggled his finger and coaxed me over. He leaned over and kissed me, catching me off guard for a moment. He pulled back so he could stare at me.

I smiled lazily at him. “Hi,” I giggled.

His hand curled around my neck, drawing me into a hug. “Hi.”

Our feet started to carry us down the hall to his room, but our minds stopped us so we could kiss each other again. He pushed me up against the wall, his thigh pressing on my groin just right. My fingers gripped at his shirt.

I pulled away when my stomach pitched. “I hope you don’t take what I’m about to do as a comment on what we just did.” I pulled away and stumbled for the bathroom, falling to my knees in front of the toilet and spewing my stomach content into the bowl.

Jack knelt down behind me and pulled my fringe out of my face. “Oh, baby,” he laughed, rubbing my back gently.

Once my stomach was empty and my body stopped convulsing, Jack flushed the toilet and closed the cover. He picked me up off the floor and sat me atop the seat. He turned to the sink, reaching for a toothbrush and the toothpaste.

“Lex, here,” he offered.

I took the toothbrush and stuck it in my mouth. After I finished, Jack helped me down the hall to his room. He set me down on the bed and pulled my shirt over my head.

“Sleepy, Jack,” I informed him.

He laughed. “I know, Alex. We have to get you out of your clothes so you’re not uncomfortable while you sleep tonight.” He struggled with my pants, but eventually got them down my legs. Then he undressed himself and settled next to me in bed.

I curled up against him and left lazy kisses along his chest and collar. “Jacky, kiss me,” I whined.

He chuckled. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten you trashed for your birthday, should I?”

I shrugged. “I had a great evening anyway.”

“You did?”

“Yeah.” I pressed my face into his shoulder. “I mean, it was better than staying at in my dorm all night, sulking. Plus, I get to cuddle you. I don’t think it can get any better than this.”

“Mm, I think it could.”

I pulled back to give him a confused look. His hand cupped my jaw and he leaned in to kiss me.

I giggled. “’Kay, it can,” I mumbled against his lips, bringing him in for another kiss. Or twelve. Or twenty.

Sometime between our impromptu make out and falling asleep content in each other’s arms, I was responsive enough to pull back and whisper against his swollen lips, “Be my boyfriend?”

There was a moment of him just staring down at me with those intense brown doe eyes of his. He smiled and nodded. “Of course I want to be your boyfriend.”

I smiled. “Good. Because I really want to be your boyfriend too.”

“So I gathered, what with you asking me and all.”

I hid my face in his chest. “Shut up,” I chided playfully.

He looked at the time. “Holy crap, we should go to sleep. We have been making out long enough that you’re no longer drunk.”

“I totally still am.”

“Yeah, sure.” He manhandled me so we were spooning. “Seriously though, we made out until the day after your birthday.” He pointed at his alarm clock. Flashing in red, it showed that it was three twenty-seven in the morning.

I laughed. “Wow.”

His arm curved around my waist. “Yeah.” His lips pressed to the nape of my neck. “So, goodnight Alex.”

“Fine,” I grumbled. “Goodnight Jack.”

His grip tightened just enough as I fell asleep that made me feel a plethora of feelings toward him.

The next morning — or afternoon, really — I rolled onto my back and turned my head so I could stare at Jack while he slept. He kind of looked really cute while he was sleeping.

I sat up just a little too quickly and my head started spinning. “Oh, fuck.”

“Lex, go back to sleep. It’s too early,” Jack whimpered, pulling the covers up around him and over his face.

“But it’s, like, one in the afternoon. It’s time to get up. You need to feed me because I’m hungry.”

“Why do I need to feed you?

“That what good boyfriends do.”

“So why aren’t you making me breakfast?”

“Because you got me smashed last night for my birthday and I have a headache. It’s your fault so the least you could do is make me breakfast.”

He peeked his head out from under the covers. “Oh my God, you look so cute right now.”

I grabbed my pillow and thumped him over the head. “You’re mean to me.”

He grumbled to himself. “How was that mean? I complimented how adorable your hangover bedhead looks.”

“I’m not talking about your compliment. You won’t make me food.”

“I will, I will, Grumpy Pants. Give me a second.” He pulled the covers back over his head, but didn’t make any move to get up.

“Jack!” I whined again.

He sat bolt upright. “I’m going, I’m going.” He swung his legs off the bed and stood up, stretching his arms over his head. “What do you feel like eating?”

“Eggs and bacon and toast.”

“Are you planning on going into hibernation anytime soon?”

“Was that a fat joke?”

He turned to me and pushed me back on the bed. “I’ve told you before, you would look good even if your stomach was a little pudgy.” He splayed his fingers across the warm flesh and then kissed the skin.

“You’re kind of weird.”

“So I’ve been told.” He stuck his tongue in my belly button for emphasis.

I slapped him away. “Stop, I’m ticklish there.”

In your belly button?”


“Interesting.” He kissed up my chest, to my mouth. “Would you join me in the kitchen?”

“Mm, if I have to?”

“Well it would be much appreciated.”

“Fine.” I leaned up and kissed him. “I’ll be right down.”

“Thank you.” He straightened and started for the kitchen.

I pushed the covers down my legs and stood up. After I stretched, I went to the bathroom and then headed down to the kitchen.

Jack was busy humming along to a song that was stuck in his head as he made scrambled eggs and toast.

I pushed myself up onto the counter next to the stove. I smiled at him.

“Hi Alex. What’s up?” he asked, sounding thoroughly suspicious of me.

“I’m just watching you and thinking.”

“Yeah. It’s kind of creepy.”

I shrugged. “I figured as much.”

“Anything in particular you’re thinking about?”

“Mm, I don’t know. I mean, aside from a lanky man making me breakfast in his boxers. Well now, I don’t know what I could be thinking about.”

He grinned like a fool and looked up at me all shy-like. “You’re an ass.”

“Why? Because I can make you blush just as bad, if not worse, than you can me?”

“Yes. Exactly.”

I smiled and caught his shoulder as he moved to the refrigerator. “Good.” I pulled him forward so he was standing between my knees. I wrapped my arms around his neck and brought him down for a kiss.

His arms rested around my waist, drawing me closer to the edge of the counter. His hips kept me from falling, though.

We were almost too wrapped up in each other to notice the front door slamming shut. But the soft gasp, followed with a not-so-subtle outburst of, “Holy shit, are you two finally together?” drew us apart.

Rian was standing in the kitchen doorway with a bag of groceries in one hand, and Cass peering over his shoulder. She excitedly tapped his side.

“Oh my God, I think they’re together,” she giggled.

Jack returned his attention to me. “I’m sorry, I’m too busy kissing my boyfriend to care what you two are blabbering on about.” His lips found mine again as Cass squealed.

“Oh my God, thank you, whoever is out there!”

I smiled against Jack’s lips at the silliness exhibited by our friends, tightening my grip on him.

“Okay, can you stop sucking face long enough for me to put the groceries away without wanting to throw up?”

I begrudgingly pulled away. “Plus you were making me food, yeah?” I reminded Jack.

He smiled. “Of course.”

Cass nearly ripped my arm off in her attempt to drag me away from my boyfriend. “Oh my God, details Alexander,” she demanded, folding her arms over her chest.

“So he took me out drinking last night for my birthday. When we got back, I got sick. He helped me fix myself and then we went to bed. We were making out when I asked him if he would be my boyfriend.”

“Wait, you asked him?”

I nodded, biting my lip. “It wasn’t the most romantic way we could have gotten together. But I’m just… really happy right now.”

“I’m happy for you. I’m just surprised he didn’t ask you.

“What do you mean?”

“He’s really into you. He wanted to ask you, but also wanted to make sure you were okay.”

I shrugged. “I’m always going to have my past. But I’m thankful that Jack has been here for me, and that he’s seen how far I’ve come from there. I mean, I went from crying at every single thing that reminded me of Zack, to being right here with you now and a boyfriend making me breakfast even though he’d rather be sleeping.” I smiled at that last part. Boyfriend.

“I’m very happy for you.”

“Alex, breakfast is ready!” Jack called from the kitchen.

I smiled and nearly skipped down the hall. He handed me a plate, placing a subtle kiss against my forehead. “Thank you.”

“I’d rather be sleeping,” he mumbled as I walked to the fridge for some orange juice.

“I know, but you’re a great boyfriend for making me food instead.”

“Damn straight,” he tried to deadpan, but failed as a bright grin spread across his features.

“You look good with a smile,” I informed him, patting his cheek lightly. “Suits you very well.”

He pretended to mock me as he picked up his plate and followed me to the dining room. We sat so we were rubbing hips.

At one point, I nudged his side. When he looked over at me, I smiled. “Thank you, Jack. Like, so much.”


“You know. Being you.”


I was watching Jack sleep again. It was an experience in its own, honestly. He looked so happy and at peace with everything around him. I suppose it was hard for him to find at times.

I was leaning on my elbow, staring down at the sleeping body beside me. His eyes were moving back and forth, as he was in the middle of a nice dream. His hand curled around my waist in a protectively manner. His breath fanned across my cheeks as he sighed in content.

Everything about this tranquil moment made my heart ache.

I leaned forward and pressed my lips to his forehead lightly. He pressed into me at the touch.

His response made my eyes prick with tears.

I took a deep breath and tried not to cry. It didn’t work and I had to wiggle my way out of Jack’s hold so I could go to the bathroom.

I stared at myself for a minute before there was a knock at the door. “Alex, you okay?”

I took a deep breath and opened the door. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

Jack gave me a look that told me he didn’t believe me. “I couldn’t sleep without you in bed. And I noticed you were gone for a little longer than usual.”

I dropped my hand into his. I took a deep breath. “It’s not every day that I tell you how amazing you are and how grateful I am for you.”

“Alex, we’ve only been dating two months.”

“I know. I’m sorry. I’m just kind of having one of those moments where everything hits me at the same time. Like, we’ve known each other longer than two months. That’s what’s finally hitting me right now.”

He went to cup my face in his hands. “Is it a good realization?”

I wiped at the first tear that fell. “Yeah, of course it is, you idiot,” I laughed.

“So do you want to talk to me about it?”

I nodded. “Just not in the hallway in front of the bathroom.”

He laughed. “Reasonable enough, I suppose.” He reached in to shut off the bathroom light and led me back to the bedroom. He tugged back the covers for me, waiting for me to climb underneath them to walk over to his side and settle with me. I curled against him as he tugged the covers up around us. “Okay, so what’s on your mind?” he asked as his arms rested on the small of my back.

“Don’t get all freaked out about this, but before I went to the bathroom, I was watching you sleep.”

“I so want to make a joke right now, but I know that you’re trying to be serious right now. Please continue before I make an ass out of myself.”

I smiled. “It was just a lot different than when you’re awake. You were peaceful, and looked so happy. And when I kissed your forehead, you leaned into me like you actually craved the touch.”

“Okay, so you did do that?”

“Yeah, why?”

“’Cause I swear I felt it while I was asleep.”

“It’s just… it really got to me.”

For an instant, he got rather protective. “That’s not something bad, right?”

I laughed through the tears. “It’s not,” I assured him. “An easier, and less frantic way to describe it is that I’m very, very grateful that I have you in my life.”

He beamed, a full smile that reached all the way to his eyes. “Well, I’m very grateful that you’re in my life, Alex.”

“I didn’t mean to wake you up just to be a sap.”

“It’s fine, Lex. It’s always fuels my ego to hear it,” he joked. He kissed my jaw. “You know, you’re really important to me.”

I blushed. “Aw shucks.”

He pressed his lips to the corner of my mouth, then my lips. “You always have been, Al.” My heart clenched at his next words. “And you always will be,” he whispered.

I hid my face in his chest. I felt my eyes sting slightly with fresh tears.

“Are you crying again?”

“No,” I lied.

He held me tighter and pressed a kiss into my hair. His fingers curled into place around mine. “Why don’t we get some sleep now and talk some more when it’s not three in the morning?”

I sniffled. “That sounds like a plan.”

He smiled. “Good night, Lex.”

“Good night Jack.”


I blindly reached for the fast food drink cup, Jack pushing it into my grasp when I failed the first and second time, and took a sip of the orange soda he had gotten for me.

“So, what are you working on?” he asked, picking up a limp French fry and popping it in his mouth. His hip gently pushed against mine.

“Just my final paper for Kevin’s class.”

“So you can take a minute to kiss your boyfriend?”

I laughed and looked up from my laptop. “Smooth.”

“I know,” he smirked, eating another French fry. He leaned over and kissed me. He tasted like root beer and stale French fries.

“Don’t you have to work on your final project for Gale?” I asked, pulled back slightly to breathe.

“I probably should. But your lips are calling my name.” He started in for another kiss.

“Oh are they?” I smiled, leaning back.

“That’s cold, Alex. Denying a man a kiss on lips so soft and detectible,” he joked. “But while we are out sharing lunch, I can’t really work on my project, now can I?”

“Fine,” I allowed.

He smiled against my lips. “I think you have an affliction with my lips and me kissing you.”

“Maybe just a little.”

He pecked my lips before drawing away. “So finals are in a week and I’m so stressed.”

“Why? What is there to be worried about?”

“I get test anxiety pretty bad.”

“Come on, how bad can it be?”

“Once, I was so anxious that come test day, I couldn’t move at all. When my professor asked what was wrong, I blurted out all the answers in the correct order. I ended up taking an oral test.”

“Oral?” I giggled.

“Mind out of the gutter, Gaskarth,” he smiled. “My professor had to ask me the questions and I’d answer them verbally.”

“That has got to be the cutest thing I have ever heard,” I smiled, wrapping my arms around his neck. I kissed him lightly.

“Shut up,” he blushed.

“Come on, it’s sexy to see you as something other than a cocky smartass.”

“Well, I don’t like it. It doesn’t suit me.”

“Yeah, okay,” I muttered skeptically.

“You only like it because it makes me look sensitive. And in-touch with my feminine side.”

I scoffed. “Yes, I like you because you’re girly.”

“Well that’s why I like you,” he smirked.

I smacked his shoulder. “You’re an ass.”

“Mm, I know that.” He kissed me again. “Are you almost done with your burger?”

“Yeah.” I took the last two bites or so, folded the paper around itself, and pushed it to the side. I reached for the soda again and took a long gulp.

“How long does your paper have to be?”

“Ten pages is the minimum. But I’m already at twelve.”

“And you just started on it, when?”

“Like, a week ago. I just need to articulate two more ideas and wrap up the paper.”

“Okay. I’m not trying to stress you out.”

“You’re not, don’t worry,” I laughed.

After we tossed our trash out and started back toward campus, Jack had insisted he walk me to my class, I turned to him. “Hey, can I ask you a weird question?”

He laughed. “Seeing as you had to classify your question as ‘weird’, sure. What’s up?”

“I mean, I’ve been thinking about this since Valentine’s Day when I woke up and watched you sleep and it’s just been on my mind for a while anyway—”

“Alex, you’re rambling.”

“Yeah sorry. But, um, like, why haven’t we had sex yet?”

He had to do a double take. “Uh, what?”

“We’ve been together almost five months now. Why haven’t we had sex yet? Do you… do you not want to with me like that?”

“No, Alex. God, no. Of course I do.”

“Then why haven’t we? I know you jerk off when you take a shower. So why haven’t we had sex yet?”

“Do you want to?”

“Well… I don’t know. Yeah?”

He smiled fondly. “That’s why, Lex. You unsure.”

“I am not. I want to have sex with you!”

A couple people walking passed us looked over at me like I was crazy.

“What?” I snapped at them. “Haven’t you ever seen a sex-deprived college kid before? Keep on walking, you weirdoes.”

Jack laughed and gripped my shoulders. “Alex. It’s fine to be unsure—”

“But I’m not,” I whimpered.

He cupped my face but I refused to return his gaze. “Lex. Lex, look at me.” I frowned and looked up at him. “Do you remember when I told you that you are really important to me?”

“Yeah,” I pouted.

He stuck his fingers in the corners of my mouth and forced me to smile. I couldn’t help but laugh and swat his hands away. “You still are, Alex. Remember, you always will be. And this might be overused and cliché, but I’m not going to force you to be ready to have sex. There are still things that I can see pain you. And as much as you won’t admit it, sex is one of those things.”

“It is not!” I tried again.

He kissed my forehead. “You’re going to be late if we continue to argue about this. I’ll see you after class. ’Kay?”

“Can we have sex after?”

“When you’re ready. See you later, Alex.” He kissed me and headed off in the opposite direction.

Jack was waiting for me as I walked down the sidewalk away from the building. “Hey,” he smiled.

I struggled to put my textbook in my bag without crushing my laptop. “H-hey.”

Jack stepped behind me and grappled with my bag. He managed to get my textbook in. “Better?”

“Yeah, thank you. So can we have sex tonight?”

He laughed and took my hand in his. “How about we wait just a little longer?”

“Come on, Jack. Why won’t you sleep with me?”

“You’re not just a casual fuck, Alex. You’re my boyfriend.”

“Yes, and as your boyfriend, I’m telling you that I really need to get laid.”

He swung our hands in between us. “I’m giving you an out, Alex. I don’t want you to freak out.”

“Jack, it’s been almost a year; I’m pretty much over him.”

“As long as you’re—”

“Of course I am, Jack. I trust you.”

He brought our knotted hands up to his mouth and pressed his lips to my knuckles. He sighed heavily and looked out over the campus.

I squeezed his hand lightly. “Do you remember that time when you were drunk enough to convince Rian to drive us to San Diego? You were fascinated by the little things, like a car driving passed us, or the lights from street lamps. You had leaned against my shoulder and looked up at me with so much wonder. You ended up holding my hand as we drove down the freeway.”

There was a pink hue hinting on his cheeks. “Yes, I remember that.”

“I....” I paused to get my thoughts together. “I think that was the moment I knew.”

“Knew what?” he hummed, looking down at me with curious brown doe eyes, much like that night on the freeway.

“Well, back then I convinced myself in a moment of weakness, I needed some comfort.”

“By hugging me tighter and kissing my head?” he smirked.

“I honestly knew that it wasn’t a moment of weakness. It was a moment of need.”

“What did you need?”

“I needed…. I need you.”

He thought on it for a minute before saying, “You’re still not getting sex until you’re ready.”

I walked into his side lightly. “That wasn’t the point of me telling you that.”

“What was the point?”

“There are these things that you have done that make me crazy. But they make me realize that maybe calling off my engagement wasn’t such a bad thing.”

He was silent for a long time, chewing on the inside of his cheek for the longest while. “That still isn’t going to get you sex.”

I laughed and knocked into him lightly. “I know. But that wasn’t the point.”

We walked down the block to the apartment and headed upstairs. On our way from the elevator to the door, we ran into Rian and Cassadee.

“Oh hey you two,” Cass giggled. “We’re going out for a while. But there are these two strangers in the apartment.”

“Wh-what?” Jack stuttered. “You let two strangers in the apartment?”

“Yeah, what’s wrong with that?”

“Strangers!” Jack nearly screamed. He bolted down the hallway, tugging me after him.

“Bye Rian, bye Cass,” I managed.

Jack tried to be sneaky as he let himself into the apartment. “You stay here until I find the two strangers. Okay?” he whispered.

I strutted past him into the living room, watching him cower in the hallway.

“Hello, Gayskank.”

I stopped. “No. No, you cannot be here right now,” I smiled.

“Aw, is that anyway to talk to your friend?”

I turned to face the Mexican and his ghost boyfriend. “Victor Fuentes!” I went over to him and wrapped my arms around him tightly. “Jack, you can come in, they aren’t really strangers!”

“Well, we could be, seeing how you utterly forget about me,” Vic pouted.

“I text you once in a while.”

“Not nearly enough though.” His smile brightened when he saw Jack come in. “Ooh, and who is this, Alex?”

“Hands off, Vic. But this is Jack. Jack, this is my friend from high school, Vic. And his pale, ghost-y boyfriend, Kellin.”

“You’re so mean to me!” Kellin whined.

Jack huddled behind me. “Why haven’t I met these people before?”

“Because normally, I crack a joke about Border Control and Vic makes a run for it.”

Jack made a confused noise behind me.

“Haha, Alex. I bet you think you’re funny.” Vic turned to Jack. “My brother and I, as well as our two other friends, hail from Mexico. So Alex likes to be racist whenever he can.”

“Oh! That reminds me,” I snickered. “I found this band you might like.” I pulled out my phone and started playing mariachi music. I got a giggle from Kellin. Vic just flipped me off.

I sat down beside Kellin and tapped the spot beside me for Jack to sit down. “So how have you guys been?” I asked.

“We’ve been good,” Vic responded. “Except for the fact that we,” meaning him and I, “haven’t talked face to face in, like, almost a year.” He folded his arms over his chest like a little child who didn’t get what he wanted. “How have you been, Alex?”

“I’ve been getting better.” I nudged Jack just the slightest. “I’ve had some help along the way, though. So me being at least ninety percent of what I was my senior year at Dulaney isn’t just me.”

“So, uh, how long have you and Jack been dating?”

“Since my birthday.”


“Vic, don’t say anything. You know the story, so you can’t get like that on me.”

“No, I wasn’t going to,” he defended. “It’s just…. I’m happy for you.”

Jack leaned back on the couch. “Kellin,” he whispered.

The raven-haired man jumped slightly, but turned to Jack. “Yes?”

“Would you like a drink or something?”

“Uh, sure.” He stood and followed my boyfriend to the kitchen.

Vic started in on me the moment he knew they were out of the room. “Alex!” he whisper-yelled. “Are you sure this is the right choice?”

“Look, Jack likes me, he cares about me, we’re happy.”

“I can tell. But I’m just thinking about you. Moving on in a year?”

“Jack was right; I had to actively move on from Zack. I couldn’t be stagnant and wallow. I’m so much better than I was in September.”

“I know, Alex. But that’s really soon, for you at least. I know Zack was over you the day you broke up, but that doesn’t mean you had to rush into something.”

“Vic, I waited, like, seven months before I even thought about trying to move on. I led Jack on for so long that I’m amazed he still waited for me to get my mind on straight. This was not a decision I made lightly. I think you have to respect my choice on this, for once.”

“I do respect it, Alex. I’m just looking out for you.”

“Thank you, Mom. But I can take care of myself.”

He sighed and used his last resort. “I love you, Alex.”

“I know. I love you too.”

He stepped toward me and wrapped his arms around me. “I’m always going to worry about you.”

“I know.” I took a deep breath. “Do you want a drink?”



The night Jack finally had sex with me, it was about two weeks after finals. The look of utter relief on my boyfriend’s face from being free of his text anxiety was almost funny. I had convinced him to go drinking with me in celebration of surviving at least one more year of college, though I knew there were more to come for both of us.

So we ended up drinking and dancing and the entire evening was a mess in itself. Jack ended up with a bloody nose and a split lip from a fight with, not a person, but himself before we left the club. He’ll deny the fact until he died, but he punched himself while dancing.

When we returned home, he was already missing his shirt. He’d pulled it off in the elevator up to the apartment because he was sweating balls.

We were almost locked out, until he found his keys in his sneaker. How the fuck they were in there I don’t know.

“Holy fuck, that’s what’s been hurting my feet?” he giggled as he stumbled into the living room. “Probably should have figured that one out before walking home.”

Before we started down the hall, he was stepping out of his pants because they were too restraining for his liking.

It wasn’t a we knew we were going to have sex adventure — he tried to convince me while he was prepping me that we weren’t going to have sex —, but something about the way I climbed into bed really turned him on; he mumbled something about my nice ass.

We’d actually settled into bed, as in to sleep, before we knew we were going to do it. He kept shifting around, trying to get comfortable. After about ten minutes of his restlessness, he sighed heavily. “Alex. Are you asleep?”

I laughed. “Yes I am, Jack.”

“Oh. Okay. Never mind.” And he didn’t say anything else.

I turned over after a minute. “Jack, how would I answer you if I were asleep? What’s bothering you?”

He scratched his arm hesitantly. “I don’t know. I’m just horny, I guess.”

“Do you want to have sex?”

He sat up and reached into his nightstand. “No.” He withdrew his hand with a condom and lube.

“Are you sure?”

“No.” He leaned down and pressed his lips to mine roughly. He sat up and we moved around so I was on my back in the center of the bed. He took up the spot between my legs.

His eyes were lazy and kept crossing as he pressed his finger into me. But he still managed through, as well as convinced himself that we weren’t doing this right now.

At one point, somewhere between him rolling the condom up his length and being fully pressed up inside me, it kind of became real to him; we were finally here, about to have sex.

He was still trying to talk us out of it as he moved in and out of me, in between satisfied moans at how tight I was around him and sloppy kisses that would have been purely disgusting to any normal human being in this same position.

He didn’t seem convinced with my moans and screams, hair pulling and back scratching that I actually enjoyed it; that I had been patiently waiting to enjoy this intimate act for way too long, in my opinion

His persuading continued even as he came with a very content groan. He was so relentless that he went as far as to say that I seduced him. Of course at that time, he was tying a knot into the condom and trying to find the waste bin with tired arms.

He collapsed onto the bed beside me afterward, face burrowed into the pillows.

The next morning was a fun affair. I was woken by a girlish scream-giggle. Cass, obviously.

Jack shifted behind me, pulling me back against him. He nuzzled my hair. “Mm, good morning.”

“You’re right; it is a good morning,” I smiled.

He wiggled his hips around slightly. “You’re naked.” He lifted the covers up. “Shit, you’re really naked. Oh God, Alex. I’m so sorry.”

“You’re a fucking ditz. You know that, right?”

The door opened and Jack scrambled to hide our lower halves under the covers. “You guys did it last night, didn’t you,” Cass giggled, prancing into the room. Her eyes landed on something on his nightstand. “And seeing as your condom is hanging off the framed picture of you two, I’d say yes.”

“Shut up, I was drunk and tired.”

“You accused me of seducing you,” I smiled.

“Oh God, I am so stupid,” he growled to himself.

I sat up and smacked his chest lightly. “Jack, getting you drunk last night was the only way I was ever going to have sex with you for the first time. You’re so worried that I’ll regret everything we do. That’s not the truth, though. Last night, no matter how much you tried to tell me that it was a bad idea, was amazing. Awkward with you trying to convince yourself out of it while we were doing it, but amazing nonetheless.”

Cass giggled again. “You’re clothes are still sprawled across the house. It looks like a tornado went through here.” She turned and walked away, all the while grinning like an idiot.

“Come on Jack, time to get up.” I pushed the covers back and went over to the dresser for some clean boxers.

He sat up and watched me. “I didn’t want to pressure you into having sex, Alex,” he whispered.

I walked over to him and pecked his lips. “It’s a good thing you didn’t, then. Huh?” I smiled.

“You’re really okay?”

“Why wouldn’t I be? You were most gentle with me last night.” I wiggled my fingers at him in an attempt to harass him at how much prep he thought I needed. He had been generous, to say the least.

He blushed. “Shut up, Alex. It’s so embarrassing.”

I kissed him properly. “Why is you taking care of me the way you always preach so embarrassing?”

He mumbled something unintelligible, then grumbled, “Just be happy I like you a lot.”

I laughed. “Oh, I am.” I kissed down his chest and stuck my tongue into his belly button like he enjoyed doing to me.

He squealed like a little girl and pushed me away. “Okay, I understand how that can be ticklish.”

I smiled and splayed my fingers across his stomach lightly. He made a content noise. “I’m going to make you breakfast. How does that sound?”

He stretched, his back arching into my hand. “That sounds good. Do you want me to come and help you?”

“I got it. You just stay here and relax. Okay?”

“If you’re sure?”

I laughed. “Jack, I’m sure.”

“Mm, okay.”

I rubbed his stomach again, eliciting another sigh of content. “What is it? Do you like having your stomach caressed or something?”

He giggled. “Maybe.”

I nodded. “So no sticking my tongue in your belly button, but I can rub your stomach like a dog and you like it?”

“Yes, don’t make fun of me.”

“I’m not. I just find it strange and adorable.” I pulled the duvet up around him. “I’ll be back with breakfast in a few.”

He hid inside the covers. “’Kay, hurry back.”

Cass nearly attacked me as I stepped into the kitchen. “Oh my God, you guys did it. How was it? Was it a dream come true?”

“Cass, heel,” Rian laughed, coming into the kitchen as well. He turned to me. “So you and Jack had sex, huh?” He wiggled his eyebrows at me.

“You guys are embarrassing. Yes, we did. No, I’m not disclosing any more information.”

“Don’t worry, Jack will probably tell me when we hang out next,” Rian smiled arrogantly.

I playfully shoved him. “If that’s your attempt to get me to tell you, it’s not working.”

“Alex,” Jack called from the hallway, “where is my shirt from last night?”

“You took it off when we were in the elevator. You were too hot or something.” I cracked a few eggs into a bowl and started scrambling them.

Alex!” he nearly screamed. “Why is my nose bloody and I have a busted lip?”

“You punched yourself while dancing.”

“Nuh-uh. I think you just like it rough.” He came into the kitchen. “I’m uncoordinated, but not that uncoordinated,” he challenged.

“Look, you were really drunk and all your lanky limbs must hate you while you’re drunk, because you did, in fact, punch yourself.”

He reached into the freezer and grabbed a bag of frozen peas to put on his face. He groaned in pain at first.

I kissed the top of his head and then went back to work making him breakfast.

Cass went over to Jack and lifted his head lightly. “Oh, Jack,” she cooed. “Oh poor baby.” She sighed at him and went to grab a washcloth from the bathroom to clean off the dried blood.

When I was done cooking, I placed a plate in front of him. He took a bite and cried out. “Fuck! It hurts so much. But this food tastes so good.”

I smiled at his conundrum before sitting down next to him and eating. “Just take it easy for a few, okay?” I advised.

He sighed. “I didn’t punch myself.”

“It’s okay, Jack,” I grinned, leaning over to kiss him.

He closed his eyes and leaned into the touch. “Can we go do something today? Like take a walk, or something?” he asked.

“Sure,” I allowed. “Any particular reason?”

He looked behind him at Rian and Cass, who were in their own world, and pointed at them.

I cackled. “Oh absolutely.”

“So after breakfast, okay?”

“Yeah sure.” I finished eating, putting my plate in the sink and running water over it. Jack took a little longer.

We changed into shorts and t-shirts before heading down onto the street.

He was kind of quiet the entire time we were walking.

I nudged his hip. “Why are you so quiet, Jay?”

“I don’t know. I guess I don’t want to ruin the moment?”

“What’s on your mind?”

“I’m just thinking, is all.”

“Come on, Jack. You rarely ever don’t talk. When you don’t, I know it’s something rather big. I’m here to listen if you need.”

He sighed. “Will you promise you won’t get really freaked out at me?”

“Jack, I saw your dick last night. Nothing can freak me out anymore.”

He smiled. “Haha, Alex. You’re so funny.”

I nodded. “Yes I am. So what is it that’s bothering you?”

“I don’t know. I just really like you. A lot.”

“I like you too, Jack.”

He sighed. “I guess I’m just nervous about being cliché.”

“Seriously, Jack; have you met me lately?”

“Well, last night, after we had sex, I was up thinking.” He took a deep breath and thought about what he needed to say. “I don’t know, Lex, I just… really like you. Like, more than just really liking you….”



“I mean, Alex, I’ve known you for three years. And I feel like I really understand you. I didn’t want to freak you out, though, with that.”

I laughed. “Jack, that’s probably the last thing you have to be worried about.”

“What’s the first thing I should be worried about?”

“That would have to be me feeling the same way.”

He stopped walking and looked down at me. He wrung his hands nervously. “Are you, like, for real? Or are you just yanking my chain?”

“I’m for real Jack.”

The joy that spread across his face was overtaken by him grabbing me up and spinning me around in circles.

“No, no, no. Jack, set me down. You’re making me dizzy.”

“Sorry. Sorry. I’m just so excited. And happy.” He set me on my feet and looked down at me with wondrous brown eyes. “I… I love you, Al.”

It sounded even better than I thought it would, coming from him.

I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him. “I love you too, Jack.”

He kissed me again before leaning our forehead together. “You don’t know how long I’ve waited for that,” he whispered.

“I’m assuming a long time,” I giggled.

“You don’t even know.”

I nuzzled into his shoulder and smiled. For once, something felt right. I wasn’t scared anymore.


Jack proposed to me the summer after he had acquired his Master’s Degree. We were relaxing in bed after we had sex, and it wasn’t even a formal proposal or anything. Our hands were knotted together on my stomach and we were kind of making out when he slipped the band up my slender finger. I had pulled away from his lips long enough to notice the new accessory.

“What…?” I mumbled.

“Alex, will you marry me?”

I hesitated, remembering back to Zack and everything I had been building since I’d called off our engagement.

Jack must have noticed the look of pure terror on my face because before I could answer, he was tugging at the ring, pulling it off my finger. “I’m sorry. It was too soon, wasn’t it?” He moved to put the ring on his nightstand. “This is so awkward.”


“Forget I even asked.”


“I’m sorry, I just figured that you might have said yes.”

“Jack Bassam Barakat, stop talking for a minute.” The surprised look on his face made me giggle. “Jack, you’ve treated me right for the past couple of years, practically walking on eggshells at times because there are little things that just get to me. But this is not one of those moments where you have to worry. You have shown and proven to me that you love me time and time again. I’m not afraid of you and you need to understand that.” I took a deep breath. “Now, I’m tired of being held back because of Zack. He’s my past for a reason. I… I want to marry you. Because I love you.”

He stared at me for a moment before a grin broke across his face. “You’re for real?”

I pinched him.

“Ow, what the hell was that for?”

“You’re a ditz, Jack. Of course I’m for real. I’m sick of not being sure of myself. And with you, I can be.” I pressed my lips to his and smiled against him. “I love you, Jack.”

One hand went to my hip and drew me closer. His other hand went to my jaw. “I love you, too.” He bit his lip. “You know… I’m kind of still horny.” He gently stroked my arm.

“You’re always horny,” I reminded him. I pressed my lips to his, then started moving down his body. I left kisses on his neck, chest, stomach, and further.

“Alex,” he muttered as I flicked my tongue against his dick.


“I want to spend the rest of my li-ife!” He squeaked when I tongued his tip. “I want to make you the happiest man ever.”

I smiled. “I highly doubt the time to be telling me that is while I’m going down on you.”

“I know. I just figured I would tell you. I needed to tell you that.”

I couldn’t help but laugh, moving to rest my forehead on his stomach. “Such bad timing.”

“Well come back up here if you’re not going to blow me.”

“I will, you just kind of killed the moment.”

He pulled me up so I was lying next to him. “Look, it’s not important. We can just, you know, cuddle and make out a little.”

“I think that’s your go-to response if things fall through.”

“Maybe I just like kissing you a lot.”

“You’re really lame.”

He pressed his lips to mine lightly. “While that may be, I really do like kissing you.”

We return to kissing each other, our limbs tangling together. Sometime later, I hid my face in his chest and proceeded to pass out.

The next morning, Cass and I were making breakfast for our significant others when she noticed the ring on my finger. “Oh. My. God! Alexander Gaskarth, when did that get there?”

“Last night?”

“Oh my God, this is so fantastic! I’m going to be your maid of honor, right?”

“Wait a minute, who said anything about me being the bride?”

“Uh, I’m your best friend. There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that I’m going to be your best man. Plus, you would look great in a dress.”

I nearly choked on my saliva. “Okay, who said anything about me wearing a dress?”

“Cass, stop harassing my fiancé,” Jack ordered, walking in and stealing a kiss from me.

“Mm, hey Jack,” I smiled. “And Cass wants me to wear a dress.”

“As long as there is a garter that I can take off in some seriously twisted ways, I’m strangely okay with that.”

I smacked him. “I’m not wearing a dress. I’m not even a bride!”

“No, you’re going to be my groom,” Jack smiled, taking my hands in his. “And a lovely groom you’ll be.”

“But I want to be someone’s maid of honor!” Cass whined.

“Cassadee,” Rian admonished lightly, “this is going to be Jack and Alex’s day. You can’t impose your will on them.”

“Cass, you can be my maid of honor. I’m just not going to wear a dress,” I told her.

“Oh, okay,” she smiled, content with her roll at the wedding.

“So that would make me…?” Rian asked.

“You’re my maid of honor,” Jack joked. He looked down at me and laughed.

“I’m not a girl though,” he pouted.

“Wow, you had me fooled,” I smirked.

He growled at me.

“Fine, you can be my best man,” Jack allowed.


“Oh, that reminds me, I have to call my mom,” I frowned.

“Would you rather tell her in person?” Jack asked.

“I’d rather not tell her at all. The last time I did that, I got a lecture about how I was only twenty and I didn’t know anything about growing up.”

“But now you’re twenty-five,” Jack tried. “You’ve lived five extra years.”

“We could just announce it on Facebook, let someone from my family tell her….”

“Yes, but we’re not even Facebook official,” Jack pointed out.

“I’ve been making cute comments to you and tagging you in stuff for the last four years, Jack. We are Facebook official enough.” I sighed heavily. “I just don’t think I can handle, ‘Alex, you’re twenty-five. You’re too young to think about marriage. Think about what happened with Zack.’ It’s just, like, shut up and let me grow up on my own.”

“Do you want to get hitched in Las Vegas?” Jack offered.

“My mother would fucking kill me if I did that. That is, of course, after she finds out that we’re engaged.” I wrapped my arms around him. “It’s fine, I’ll just tell her right now.” I pulled out my phone and dialed the home number. I put it on speaker phone for Jack to listen in.

“Hello?” she answered on the third ring.

“Uh, hi Mom.”

“Oh hello, Alexander.” Cass giggled at my mom saying my fill name. “How are you? It’s been a while since we last talked.”

“Uh, yeah. Like two or three months. I know. Things have been kind of hectic around here.” I made a face at Jack that told him I didn’t know what else to say. He made a motion that I should just get on with it. “Mom, there’s something I wanted to tell you.”

“Oh?” she asked, sounding thoroughly intrigued. I’m sure there’s only so much of housewife news that she could handle before it got boring.

“Uh, yeah. You know Jack?”

“Yes I do. You’ve brought him over a few times.”

“Yeah, well. We, uh, we’re kind of… engaged?”

Jack’s face fell at my uncertainty.

“What do you mean ‘kind of’? Alexander, what have you gotten yourself into?”

“Nothing, Mom. I mean, Jack asked me to marry him.”

“Alexander, did you learn nothing from what happened with Zack? Don’t you think you should wait at least a little longer?”

I quickly picked my phone up and took it off speaker phone. “Mom, I’m twenty-five. And what happened with Zack was five years ago.”

“I still think you’re too young to get married, Alexander.”

“How old do I have to be for you to be happy enough for me to marry someone?” I started for the bedroom. Jack followed me warily.

“I’m not going to tell you that you can’t get married, honey. I would… I, personally, would wait.”

“Mom, I’ve known Jack almost seven years now. And we’ve been dating four. How much longer must I keep him waiting for me?”

“Alexander, ultimately the decision is yours. But you’re still in college. You have one more year until you get your Master’s Degree. I really, really think you should wait just a little bit longer is all.”

“Thank you, Mom. I have to go now.”

“It was nice talking to you again, darling.”

“You as well. Bye.”

I collapsed back onto the bed. I made grabby hands at Jack, who curled up beside me.

“So?” he pressed.

I held up my hand to study the ring. “She wants me to wait.”

“Do you want some reassurance?” he asked, fishing out his phone and calling someone.


“Hi Mom,” he smiled.

“Jackalope! Hi baby, how are you?”

I giggled at the nickname.

“I’m good, Mom. And yourself?”

“Oh, I’m good.”

“I wanted to tell you something?”

“Oh no, what did you do wrong now?”

“Nothing, Mom. But you remember Alex?”

“The cutie you brought home and you’re super crazy about? Yeah, I may know of him,” she joked. “Did something bad happen between you two?”

“No Mom. I asked him to marry me.”

There was silence on the other end of the phone. “Well, did he at least say yes?”

He squeezed my side. “Yeah, he said yes.”

Then there was a scream on her end. “Oh my God, baby. I’m so happy for you. You two were so cute when you came to see me. He was so shy and adorable.”

“See?” he whispered in my ear. “Mom, we, uh, just got off the phone with his mother. And,” he sighed heavily.

“Oh no, what did she say?”

I spoke up. “She wants me to wait. But I’ve been dating Jack for years now, and I know I’m ready to marry him.”

“Alex, as a mother, I can understand where she’s coming from. But I’m not going to tell you that you can’t get married. Of course, it doesn’t help that I’m completely biased and want Jack to get married and have a bunch of kids.”

I laughed. “Thank you Mrs. Barakat—”

“Alex, you know you can call me Joyce.”

I know, Mrs. Bar— I mean, Joyce. It’s just sounds so informal; like I’m your friend, not your son’s fiancé.”

“I know, Alex.”

“Mom,” Jack interrupted.

“Yes, baby?”

“Alex just admitted that he’s ready to marry me.”

“Yes he did,” she pondered.

“I was wondering if you would help us.”

“With your wedding?”

“Yes, Mom.”

“Oh, well of course I will!”

“Thank you,” I muttered.

“Anything for my soon-to-be son-in-law.”

“But not your son?” Jack scoffed. “I see how it is.”

“I love you two,” she laughed.

“I love you too,” we responded.

“Talk to you soon.”


Jack set his phone on the nightstand. “See, my mom really wants you as a part of our family.”

“I know. I just feel bad because of my mother.”

“Your mom will come around, baby.”

“I hope so.”


Jack smiled at me. “Hi.”

“Hi,” I giggled in response.

“How does it feel to be Mr. Jack Bassam Gaskarth-Barakat?”

“Mm, you know….”

“Actually, I don’t. You’re not getting away that easily.” He wrapped his arms around me and pulled me back against his chest.

“It feels like I married my best friend. Jack, what else do you want me to say?” I smiled. “I don’t feel any different aside from my last name and the person who’ll be beside me for the rest of my life.”

He kissed my neck. “Mm, okay.”

I looked at him over my shoulder. “Did you happen to see who came?”


I looked out over the reception hall. “Look,” I nodded.

He scanned the crowd of people, eyes falling on the light brunette across the hall. “Hm,” was all he thought to say.

Zack and I locked gazes for a moment and he smiled. He turned to someone and said something before standing and walking over to us. “Alex, hi.”

“Hey, how are you?” I smiled.

Jack’s hand tightened around my thigh nervously. I practically had to rip his hand off and slid my fingers between his in an attempt to calm him down. He just ended up squeezing my hand to death.

“I’m good. How are you?”

“Well,” I smiled, turning to my husband. “I’m pretty good myself.”

“I’m happy for you.”

“Thank you. How are you and…?” I asked, noticing the wedding band on his finger as well.

“Martin. We’re good. We got married a couple years ago.”

“Well good for you.”

Martin walked over with a little child, who had to be about three years old. “She wanted you,” he informed Zack.

He reached over and took the little girl from him. She looked a lot like him. “Whisper, this is Alex. Alex, my daughter, Whisper.”

“She’s adorable.”

She hid her face in Zack’s shoulder. “Daddy,” she whimpered.

“It’s okay, baby. Alex was a friend of mine.” He turned to me. “Martin and I decided we wanted a kid so we got a surrogate. She takes after me.”

Martin kissed her forehead. “That’s because I couldn’t seem to do the trick,” he laughed.

That was a mental image I didn’t need to have, Martin jacking off so he could have a kid with my ex-fiancé.

“Well, she certainly looks a lot like you,” I told Zack. “She’s so adorable.”

“Thank you. We should let you to enjoy your evening. Bye Alex. Congratulations.”

“Thank you. And see you.”

Jack sighed heavily once they were out of earshot. “That was so awkward.”

“Well, I’m just trying to be the bigger person.”

Vic leaned over from his place beside me. “What was with that?”

“Just saying hi to Zack,” I told him.

“Did you invite him?”

“No, he just came to crash my wedding with a three-year-old,” I answered sarcastically.

“Why did you invite him?”

I shrugged. “Just trying to be nice.”

“He and Martin got married, though,” Jack informed me.

“I know.”

“And he didn’t invite you to their wedding,” Kellin tossed in.

“You guys, stop freaking out. I was just able to contain myself enough to invite him here tonight. Obviously he couldn’t with me when they got married. It’s fine. And seriously, no big deal.”

“But why did he come over here?” Vic wondered. “Did he think he was going to rub it in your face that you’re obviously far happier than he is?”

“I don’t know. And I don’t care.” That was as far as the conversation would go.

For Vic, everything else wasn’t nearly as exciting as my ex showing up. Apparently. And Jack didn’t say anything on the sudden appearance of Zack for the rest of the reception. He and I continued stealing sincere kisses whenever we could, in between toasts and clinking of glasses and food, like he wasn’t irked by the little act my ex tried to pull.

Jack was a little paranoid about Zack afterward, so whenever he caught a glimpse of even his hair, he would draw me close and kiss me.

“Seriously, Jack. Stop worrying. I love you.”

“I know,” he mumbled against my hair. “I just don’t want to lose you.”

I smiled lovingly at him. “How on Earth would you lose me?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. But I’m not willing to find out.”

I wrapped my arms around his waist and kissed the underside of his jaw. “You won’t, baby.”

He sighed. “I know. I just… I finally have you. And it would kill me….” He pulled me closer and nuzzled my shoulder. “I love you, Alex.”

“I love you, too,” I smiled, kissing the top of his head.

That evening, as we lazily kissed each other to sleep, Jack sighed just a little too heavily for my liking.

I made a displeased noise as I pulled back from his delicious lips and looked at him. “Jay, what’s bothering you?”

“Nothing baby, it’s fine. Everything’s fine.”

“Jack, I can tell it’s something. You’re my husband and I’ve known you too long to assume that everything is okay.”

He nuzzled my neck. “You know, it kind of turns me on when you say that I’m your husband.” He pressed his hips into mine. Wow, he wasn’t lying when he said it turned him on.

“Jay, you’re not getting out of it that easy.” I sat up and drew the covers around me. “You can tell me anything. I’m your husband now and whatever is bothering you is now my problem too.”

He sighed and rolled out of bed. “Come on.” He took my hand in his and led me down the hall to the bathroom.

“What are we doing?”

“We’re taking a shower.”

I didn’t say anything about him not telling me what was wrong. Instead, I stepped under the mist with Jack when it was warm enough.

He helped wet my hair down, then grabbed the shampoo bottle. As he lathered the suds in his hand, he pursed his lips. “I’m just really frustrated that you invited Zack. To our wedding.”

“Wait a minute, you knew that I was inviting him. You had a chance to speak up when we were sending out the invitations, like, six months ago.”

“Yeah, but me saying yes to that didn’t mean that I actually wanted him there tonight! It was really awkward.”

“Jack, if you don’t want something, you have to tell me. I’m not a fucking mind reader. I need you to communicate with me.”

“I thought it was obvious, Alex!”

“Oh yeah, because the conversation we had about it was completely obvious. I asked you if that was okay and you said, verbatim, ‘Yes, Alex. That’s okay.’ You didn’t even hint that you didn’t want him there. So if you didn’t want him there tonight, you should have said something to me as we did that.”

“Fine, Alex! I don’t want Zack anywhere near you because every time he’s around, you become some freaking emotional Godzilla!”

I bit the inside of my cheek. “I’m sleeping on the couch tonight.” I stepped out of the shower and grabbed a towel to throw around my waist.

“Alex, come back. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.” He shut the shower off and hobbled down the hall after me. “Alex, come back here. You know I didn’t mean that.”

“Really, Jack? Do I fucking know that you didn’t mean it?” I grabbed a pair of boxers and tugged them up my legs. “You know, you fight better with words.” I yanked a pillow from the bed, as well as a blanket, and stormed down to the living room.

Jack didn’t follow me, and I was almost too relieved that I didn’t have to repeat myself.

I sincerely felt bad about five minutes of being alone on the couch. Apparently, Jack felt the same way, as I heard his footsteps in the hallway before he showed up at the foot of the couch.

He pouted at me. “I can’t sleep knowing you’re mad at me.”

I sat up and made room for him on the couch. He immediately sat down before I could change my mind. “Jack—”

“Lex, I’m sorry. I know I should have said something to you if I really didn’t want you to invite Zack. It’s just… I don’t want to be the person who tells you every single thing that you should and shouldn’t do.”

“Jack, I’m not going to be mad at you for telling if something bothers you. Your opinion is just as important as mine. I just need to know these things.”

“I know.”

I scooted a little closer to him and wrapped my arms around him. “And maybe it was a dick move to invite my ex-fiancé to our wedding.”

He nodded against my shoulder. “Today shouldn’t have been about one-upping someone who had been too selfish to see what he’s missing. It was about you and me starting a life together. Happily.”

“I agree.”

He tilted his head up from the place in the crook of my shoulder and kissed me. “Can we go to bed now?”

“Sure, baby.”

He helped me off the couch and down to our bedroom. We settled in bed, limbs tangling together so we were closer to each other.

Jack’s breathing slowed after a few minutes.

“Hey, Jack?” I whispered.

He made a disgruntled tired noise. “Mm?” he mumbled when he realized it was just me trying to talk to him as he slept. “Wha’s wrong?”

I kissed the tip of his nose. “Nothing’s wrong.

“Then why did you wake me up?”

“I just want to say that it’s time that we lived our life. I’m done trying with Zack, because I know I can’t win with him. He will always think of me as second best; he didn’t choose to live his life with me. I have something better now. I have you. That’s why tomorrow we’re waking up at seven—”

“Ugh, too early. Especially if you keep talking.”

“Tomorrow we’re waking up at seven in the morning—

“Can we make it, like, ten?” he mumbled.

I pressed my hand over his mouth. “Shut up,” I smiled. “As I was trying to say; tomorrow, whenever we wake up, we are getting on a plane to somewhere for our honeymoon. We’re going to start our life together. No more baggage: especially when I have something so much better right here in bed with me. My husband.”

“Which reminds me; I think you forgot that it turns me on whenever you say that I’m your husband and vice versa.”

I smiled and leaned down to kiss him. “Which are you: horny or sleepy?”

“Both. But you can take care of at least one right now.”


“I know, hubby,” he giggled, rising above me and kissing me lightly. “Now, how about we start our honeymoon a little early?”

I couldn’t help but chuckle at how silly he was being, my body responding easily to his touches.
♠ ♠ ♠
All righty, last part. I can't believe how much I love the one-liners that I put in here. I hope you all enjoyed.