"Is this when I finally get to know where you work?" Chris asks when I pass by the living room in the ugly red polo shirt and black pants I'm required to wear for work. To our complete shock, mom agreed to allow Chris to stay in the house with us while he was here, which would be an entire week.
"Nope." I tell him. "If I tell you where I work, you'll pop up and bother me, and possibly get me fired. I need this job, Chris, it's my only way out." I whisper the last sentence, afraid mom will overhear. I know she knows why I have the job, but I haven't actually sat down and told her my plans to her face. She seems to be happy pretending she doesn't know why I want to work and as long as she's not yelling at me about how I'm ruining my life I am perfectly happy letting her think what she wants.
"I promise I'll be good." He literally flops onto the floor, pushes himself onto his knees, and clasps his hands together, thrusting them into the air, pleading with me. "Pretty please?"
I roll my eyes. "How are you older than me? And how are we even related?"
"Rude." He scoffs, getting back up. "Now I don't even want to see where you work." He pouts a bit, crossing his arms and flopping onto the couch again. He's such a big baby.
"Good." I say with a smirk. "I won't be back tonight. I'm spending the night at a friends house."
He sticks his bottom lip out in a pout. "But I just got back! And you're going to leave me?"
"I've had this planned since before I knew you'd be here. And I can't back out now." I don't tell him about the party. For two very good reasons. Firstly, Chris is a terrible secret keeper, especially around mom. And secondly, I'm a bit afraid he'll either tell me that I'm not allowed to go to a party, as I'm underage, or that he'll invite himself along and ruin any potential happenings between Jeremy and me tonight. Not that I'm expecting any, with the way he's been avoiding talking to me. I adjust the shoulder strap of the small duffel bag I have with me on my shoulder and start for the door. I hear him mumble something, but I let the door shut behind me, without asking him what he said.
My shift passes fairly quickly and all I can think about is the party that's looming ahead of me. I head into the bathroom to change out of my uniform. I pull on pair of skinny jeans and my favorite top, shoving my work clothes into the bottom of the duffel bag. I didn't want to show up at the party in my gross uniform, again. I touch up my makeup, shove my shoes on and walk outside.
Cam is leaning against the back entrance of the restaurant, smoking and I pull the cigarette out of his mouth as I pass by. "That's a nasty habit." I tell him, dropping the cigarette onto the ground and stepping on it.
"Brookie! Come one! That was my last one!" He frowns at me, looking at the cigarette like he almost wants to pick it up and see if he can still use it.
"That's disgusting." I say. "Come on now. Don't want to be late to the party, do we?"
He sighs and pushes himself forward, off the wall, and heads down the stone walkway to the parking lot. "You ruined my last cigarette. Party or not, I don't think I can talk to you for at least ten minutes."
I laugh as I throw my bag into the backseat of my car. "You won't remember that you're mad at me once you've got a few drinks in you."
He chuckles as he gets into his own car. "You're probably right."
I smile as I shut my own car door and stick the key in the ignition, thinking, ready or not, here I come.
By their 'Saint Patrick's Day' party standards, tonight's party seems both... better and worse. Worse as in there's not as many people milling around. Better, for that same reason, as well as there being more drinks per person and less noise. I follow Cam straight towards the back room, past one of Jeremy's brothers who is slouched on the couch watching some strange cartoon show.
Just like last time, I find Jeremy playing beer pong. Courage, the pitbull, comes up to me, growling and barking but after sniffing my legs she backs off, giving me wary looks like she wants me to know that she'll eat me if I do anything wrong. Jeremy waves her off and she scurry into the other room. I love dogs but I'm a bit relieved when Courage leaves. She doesn't seem to like me much. "She'll get used to you." Jeremy says, like he read my mind. I'm more surprised that he's talking to me today. Especially since he seemed so determined not to say a word to me earlier.
"Hopefully soon." I say and he smiles a bit. He turns back to the game and I watch in silence, cheering every time he gets a ball in one of Adam's cups.
"How's your brother?" He asks, when Adam has to go searching for the ball after it rolled off his side of the table.
"Stuck at home with my mom. He's probably going crazy or hiding to avoid her." At my response, he raises an eyebrow. "She hates him." I say, in a vague explanation. He just nods his head.
"I get that." He says, watching Adam aim the ball for his cups. The ball lands just beside them and Jeremy laughs. "You suck at this tonight."
The dogs start barking like crazy. "Courage stop it." Girls voices. My heart lurches a bit at the thought of other girls around Jeremy and again I wonder why I feel like I have such a claim on him. I need to get better at this jealousy thing. "We're here!" The same voice declares in a sing-song voice. The words imply that she's been here before, that they were all expecting her to be here.
I glance into the living room, or the room the TV is in. Calling it a living room makes it sound like an actual, nice-looking room. It's actually sort of falling apart. The whole house is. In the TV room, the boys who had been lazing on the couch are hugging the two girls who've walked in. Both have dark brown hair. One's long and curly, the other is shoulder length and straight. After dropping their bags onto the ground beside the couch; duffel bags that show that they clearly plan to stay the night; they come into the pong table room.
Jeremy turns and his face lights up. "Marlie!" I've never seen him look so happy. He wraps her up in a hug and I can't stand the jealous feelings that are rushing through me. I absolutely hate this girl. He let go of Marlie - what kind of name is that anyway - and reaches for the other. "Alyssa! I've missed you guys!" Alyssa looks a bit younger. But she's gorgeous. They both are.
His beer pong partner, Adam - if I'm remembering correctly rushes over to hug both the girls, Marlie first, and then Alyssa. I really don't like either of these girls. "I didn't know you guys were going to be here tonight!" Adam says, after letting Marlie go and moving to give Alyssa a much shorter hug.
"We're here for the weekend!" Marlie says with a grin with as even Cam comes up to hug her. He even lifts her up off the ground. These guys clearly know the two girls very well. My heart sinks as I watch Alyssa start talking to Jeremy. The weekend? The entire weekend? How can I compete with either of these girls? "So, where's Derek and Tyler?" Marlie asks when Cam lets her down and moves on to hug Alyssa.
Jeremy tosses the pong ball from one hand to the other. "Tyler's working, he probably won't be here tonight, and it's Thursday so Derek's at that game night thing he does with Brandon and the other guys. He probably won't be back until late."
Alyssa grabs two drinks from the fridge, hands one to Marlie and then heads off towards the bathroom. "We made it down here in three hours this time." Marlie says with a grin. Three hours.. they must live pretty far away. Maybe I don't have to worry about them and Jeremy. Good, I think, they're both... too pretty to have to compete with for him. Marlie takes a sip of her drink and leans against the wall. "Did I interrupt your game?" She asks with a smile. You interrupted more than that, I think. But I stay silent and watch as Jeremy nods.
"Yeah. I'm about to smash Adam." Jeremy grins. Why is it he can talk so freely with her but not with me? I want to strangle myself. I've barely known him a month. I need to chill out. Cam appears beside me and hands me a Raspberry Smirnoff. I twist the top off and gulp some of it down, gratefully.
Marlie laughs. Even her laugh is pretty. She's got gray-blue eyes. My eyes are just blue-blue.I bet Jeremy likes gray-blue eyes. His eyes are gray-blue. Well, sometimes. They seem to change a lot.
I take another drink. I need to stop freaking out. "Hi. I'm Marlie." For a second I don't realize she's talking to me, but when I glance to the right, I see that she's standing just a foot or so away from me. Of course she's wondering who I am. She's clearly used to being here, knowing everyone here.
"I'm Brookie." I say. She smiles, and she seems so sweet. Of course, she's sweet. She's probably perfect.
"How do you know the boys?" She asks.
"Well, I work with Cam and Jeremy." I say. "How do you know them?" I'm expecting some long romantic story or something.
But she just laughs. "I've known Jeremy his entire life." Crap. I'm screwed. "Isn't that right Jer?"
He turns to her after his ball lands in the second to last pong cup. "I should be older than you." He grumbles.
She laughs again and turns to me. I must look confused because she starts to explain herself further. "Jeremy's my little brother."
It takes me a second to process her sentence. Brother. Jeremy is her brother? "Oh thank God." I mumble.
"What?" She asks, taking a sip of her drink.
"Nothing." I say, with a grin, gulping down the last bit of my own drink. Last bit? Have I really finished an entire drink? Alyssa walks back in and I wonder why I didn't see the resemblance between Jeremy and the girls, Alyssa especially. They've got the same eyes and lips. I'm such an idiot, I think.
Alyssa grins, looking at my empty bottle. "Need a re-fill?"
Loud cheering interrupts my answer. Jeremy beat Adam. "Teams?" Adam asks, grabbing hold of Marlie's hand as she tries to reach the fridge for more drinks.
"Oh gosh no." She says. "I've only played once. I probably suck."
Jeremy turns to me. "Team?" He asks, with a cute smile.
"Sure!" I'm probably too excited for this, but he wants me on his team! I'm squealing inside.
Marlie groans. "If we lose, it's all your fault, Adam." She says.
"And if we win?" He asks.
She grins. "It will be all thanks to my skills!"
He nods. "Thought so."
Jeremy resets the cups and grabs another ball from the drawer. "Are you two ready to lose?"
Alyssa sips her drink and leans against the wall, much like Marlie did earlier. "This oughta be good."
By the time Jeremy throws the game winning throw, I've finished two more drinks. As promised, Marlie blames Adam for their loss, and its pretty much his fault anyway. "Rematch!" Adam declares.
I wrinkle my nose up. "I don't want to play again."
Marlie's nodding in agreement. "I don't want to play again either."
Adam turns to Alyssa, looking hopeful. "I can probably beat you!" He grins.
Alyssa scoffs. "Challenge accepted!"
"She watches too much How I Met Your Mother." Marlie says.
"Too much How I Met Your Mother?" Alyssa looks up from resetting the cups and shakes her head. "There's no such thing."
One of Jeremy's brothers comes in, holding a bowl. "Where's your lighter? They're all missing." Jeremy digs through his pockets and pulls out a bright yellow BIC lighter. He tosses it over and starts to follow the brother out of the room. He pauses and turns back to me and Marlie. "Either of you guys want to smoke?"
"Do you have any water?" Marlie asks, with a smile, already walking towards him.
"I'll grab you one." He says. "Brookie?"
I've smoked before, but not often. I hesitate for a second before deciding. "Sure, why not?" It's almost legal now anyway.
Jeremy grins and we all head to the 'pot-room'. "Whose room is this anyway?" I ask.
"It's Allan's isn't it?" Marlie drops onto the futon, scooting over so there's room for me and Jeremy.
A few other people are scattered around the room - Russell, some random person whose name I can't remember and Jeremy's brother. The one with the reddish orange beard.
"Allan moved out." The red-beard brother says. "This is Russell's room now."
Russell grins. "It's all mine now."
"Is that why Luna's gone?" Alyssa asks, appearing in the room. "I beat Adam. By the way, he really sucks tonight."
"Yeah, he took Luna when he moved. Luna was attached to him."
Alyss nods her head and then looks around the room. "Jack, where are the water bottles?"
The man with the red beard stands up and grabs some from the top of a bureau. So his name is Jack. Jack sits back down and passes the bottles around. One to Marlie, one to Alyssa, and he holds another one out for me. I take it, trying not to look directly at him. He's a bit terrifying. The tattoos on the back of his hand and inside of his arm just add to it. He flicks the lighter and takes the first drag.
He passes it to Russell, who passes it to Alyssa, then Marlie and they both cough up quite a bit afterwards, immediately gulping down water. Jeremy lights it again and takes a huge drag before passing it to me. I hesitate with it, not quite sure how to work the bowl. I've only ever smoked from a joint. "Need help?" He asks, and when I nod, he helps me like Jack had helped Marlie. He lights the weed part of the bowl and I do the rest. For a split second I think I've breathed in too much and that I'm going to die, but I just cough, and cough, and cough, just like Marlie and Alyssa.
"Drink some water. It'll help." Alyssa says. I follow her advice and gulp down nearly half of the bottle Jack had given me.
"First time?" Jack asks.
I shake my head. "Just with the bowl. I usually do joints." I take some more water and it's my turn with the bowl again. Jeremy helps me again, this time without asking, and he smiles while he's doing it. I cough a lot, but its easier, and hurts less. I use up the rest of the water, and Jack finishes the bowl.
Adam walks into the room and glares at us all when he sees what we've finished. "Why didn't anyone tell me?" He grumbles.
Jeremy grins. "More for us."
Adam laughs. "More vodka for me then."
As if on cue, Russell perks up. "Vodka? Shots?" And they both head for the other room.
"I'm turning in." Jack says. "Work tomorrow." He pulls Marlie and Alyssa up for hugs. "I'm glad you two are here."
I get the feeling the boys don't get to see their sisters very often. Jeremy looks at me. "Shots?" He asks with a smile.
I grin back. "Is that even a question?"
(Seriously guys - I feel more motivated to write and post when I get feedback and know what you guys want!)
Zelia: Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed the chapter! Jeremy's a bit odd, isn't he? Hahaha! I love how interested you are! Your reviews make me so happy!! I hope you like this chapter! Sorry it took me so long to get this up!
To all the silent readers: I love you guys for reading and I would absolutely love to hear from you! Please don't be shy!
Question of the chapter: Whose pictures do you want next??
So 87 votes were to continue with pictures for characters, and only 2 for no character-pics, so I will continue posting pictures of characters. I'm sorry for anyone who doesn't like the character pictures, but if you picture someone else as the character than by all means go ahead and imagine them instead, I won't care!