A/N: Again, I'm sorry for being so late on this chapter. I originally made the chapter longer; but to give you something to read, I decided to break it into two pieces. Think of it as an Independence Day gift. Speaking of Independence Day, I hope everyone had a good safe holiday. Y'know, didn't get hit in the head with a Roman Candle or anything. My 4th of July consisted of baseball games (my baby brother is going to be a Major Leaguer, mark my words) and fireworks set off by my somewhat crazy cousin. It wasn't too comforting since it was in the middle of a thunderstorm, and he was like fifteen yards away. But whatever, I'm babbling. I hope you enjoy this chapter, even if it is the condensed version. I'll post the next chapter soon, I promise.


Chapter Three: Truth Or Dare


"Dare," Logan said timidly. They had been playing truth or dare for about an hour. So far, they had learned from "truths" that Blake's first celebrity crush was Florence Henderson who played the mom on The Brady Bunch ("Don't ask," he advised.); Alex's biggest fears were heights and being alone for the rest of her life ("Surprise, surprise," Clay muttered.); Ellie still slept with a teddy bear that she called Snuggle; and Clay was still in love with Meagan Brightman who was the first girl he had ever dated.

Meanwhile, those who had accepted dares had been put through the wringer. Logan had forced Clay to eat a whole carton of raw eggs, which was actually quite dangerous as raw eggs carry a high possibility of salmonella.

Alex had made Blake call ten people from school and tell them that "the mom on The Brady Bunch is really hot!"

The dares had been quite tame, but Logan could tell by the dangerous look on Clay's face that he was about to get it. I should have said truth, I should have said truth, he thought.

"Make it good, Clay," Ellie said with a grin. Logan glanced at her. If she wasn't so damn pretty, he would have wanted to slap her.

"I'll make it good, all right," Clay said, rubbing his hands together. "This is for those dozen eggs. What time does The Jukebox close on Fridays, Ellie?"

Ellie seemed surprised by the question. "Uh, it closes at 1:00 A.M. on Fridays and Saturdays."

Clay glanced at the clock. It was only 10:00 P.M. A smirk crossed his face. "Perfect. Logan, I dare you to walk into The Jukebox wearing only your underwear."

Ellie and Alex immediately burst into laughter, and Logan could have sworn he saw Blake quickly hide a grin. Logan's cheeks were bright red. The Jukebox was always packed on Fridays and Saturdays. All the way until closing time. He glanced at Ellie who was staring at him expectantly. He smiled nervously. There was no way he was turning down the dare in front of her.

"You got it," he said, turning to Clay and faking confidence.

"Wait, before we go to The Jukebox, can we do a couple more dares?" Alex asked.

"Sure, why not?" Clay asked, sitting back smugly.

"Okay, it's my turn," Blake said. "Ellie, truth or dare?"

Ellie's head shot up, and she stared into Blake's dark eyes. They were kind of creepy. In fact, Blake was kind of creepy. She didn't know anything about him, except that he was kind of quiet and he liked to wear baseball caps backwards. Those dark eyes boring into her were intense, and she suddenly couldn't meet his gaze. "Dare," she answered quietly, staring at the floor.

"I dare you to go to five houses in this neighborhood and ask to use the bathroom."

Ellie breathed a sigh of relief. That wasn't too bad.

"Only you have to speak in French, and you have to wear the ugliest thing that Alex has in her closet. Which you then must wear to The Jukebox"

Ellie knew what the ugliest thing in Alex's closet was, and her head snapped up again to glare at Blake. Meanwhile, Alex was laughing her head off, both amused at the situation and trying to get Blake to notice her.

"Uh-oh, Ellie, you know what that means," she said, getting to her feet.

Clay grinned. "You are so dead."

"Forget it," Ellie said. "I refuse."

"Aw c'mon, Ellie," Logan soothed. "I have to go into The Jukebox in my boxers in front of at least half of the student population. I'm sure you can deal with this."

"You don't understand," Ellie said, shaking her head as Alex disappeared upstairs. "You don't understand how bad it is."

"What is it?" Blake asked, the corners of his mouth turning up.

"Blake, my man," Clay said. "You're almost as good at this as I am."

And that was when Alex came down the stairs with a bunny suit draped over her arm. The bunny suit she had used two summers ago when she had gotten a job performing at birthday parties for eight year olds. The bunny suit with the floppy ears and marshmallow puff tail.

"Oh...my...God," Logan said, struggling not to laugh.

Ellie bowed her head. Blake immediately felt sorry. Embarrassment was the key of truth or dare: making someone do stupid things so that they would feel stupid afterwards. But Ellie seemed too nice for this type of torture. "Forget it, Ellie. I didn't know it was that bad," he said.

"No," Ellie said. For some reason, she felt she needed to prove herself to the people sitting around her. As incredibly stupid as it was, she felt that she needed to do it. She was sick and tired of being the shy one. She was sick of people feeling sorry for her because her confidence level was zero. And the only way to stop feeling that way, she reasoned, would be to put on the bunny suit and go ring some doorbells. She glanced at Clay whom she had crushed on since the day she had met him.

"So Ellie?" he asked, when he saw her staring at him. "Are you up for it?"

Ellie grinned. "Of course," she said, sitting back. "I'm up for anything."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


A half hour later, Ellie was dressed in the bunny suit and walking down Alex's street alongside Alex, Blake, Logan, and Clay. Logan was still dressed. He would strip down when they reached The Jukebox. The plan was that Ellie would pick any five houses between Alex's house and The Jukebox. She would then ask to use the bathroom in French, and the house would only count if she actually got to use the bathroom inside.

The first house she strode up to was the house three doors down from Alex and Clay's house. "No fair!" Clay moaned.

"You said any house," Ellie called over her shoulder as she strode up the sidewalk. She rang the doorbell, and Meagan Brightman opened the door. She stood there staring for a moment before bursting into a fit of laughter, her face turning bright red. She literally had to clutch the door frame to keep herself from collapsing.

"Ellie! Wh-why are you d-dr-dressed as the Easter Bunny?" she managed to ask.

Ellie immediately said something in French back. It was too bad that she hadn't taken French yet. She only knew a little from Nate who enjoyed speaking in French so that Meredith wouldn't know he was swearing at her. Anyway, what she said wasn't "May I use your bathroom?"

Meagan started laughing even harder. "Ellie! I didn't know you knew that word in English, let alone French."

Ellie turned to face the others and put her hands on her hips. Blake smiled. "Oh, all right. You can use English."

Ellie breathed a sigh of relief. "May I use your bathroom?"

Meagan furrowed her eyebrow. "Why?"

Ellie couldn't say anything but "May I use your bathroom."

"Is this some warped game of truth or dare?" Meagan asked, looking over Ellie's shoulder at Clay who had suddenly become incredibly interested in the house next door.

Ellie nodded, figuring this didn't count as cheating. Meagan grinned and pulled Ellie into the house. She showed her to the bathroom and let her in. Ellie counted to two hundred before she flushed the toilet, thanked Meagan for showing mercy, and headed for the door.

Meagan followed her, and Ellie realized that Meagan wanted one last glimpse of Clay. Ellie would have to discuss this was Alex so they could form a plan to get the couple back together. The blush on Clay's face when he saw Meagan standing at the door was confirmation of it.

"Thanks again, Meagan!" Ellie called as the group continued down the sidewalk. Meagan waved before disappearing inside of her house. Ellie managed to convince old Mr. Miller, the Runyan family, and Diana Lincoln (who used to be a Donald before her surgery) to let her use their bathrooms.

"Good job, Ellie!" Logan called, clapping as Ellie strode down Diana-previously-known-as-Donald's sidewalk.

"Only one more house!" Alex said, throwing her arm around her best friend's shoulders.

"How about that one?" Clay asked, pointing to a large stone house on the corner. Ellie didn't see the mischievous look on his face when he said it or the look of mortification that Alex shot her.

"Okay!" Ellie said. "Wish me luck!"

"Luck!" Clay, Logan, and Blake called. Alex would have said luck, but Clay had clapped his hand over her mouth.

Ellie climbed the stone steps and rang the doorbell. She was practically bouncing up and down with excitement. The dare was nearly over, and she would prove to all of them that she wasn't a wuss. She could hear voices inside of the house, arguing over who would answer the door. One of them sounded vaguely familiar.

"Fine! I'll get it! I'm heading over to The Jukebox anyway." Ellie froze when she heard the male voice. She had to hide. As much as she hated him, she didn't want him to see her like this. She glanced at the bushes next to the porch, wondering if they would hide the enormous ears that sat atop her head.

But it was too late. The door swung open, and Hunter Crayton stood staring at her. Those green eyes of his nearly made her lose her balance. He grinned. "Well, well. If it isn't Ellie McGregor. To what do I owe this...unusual visit?"

Ellie gritted her teeth, wishing she could slap him; but the bunny suit was incredibly confining, and there was no way she could throw a decent punch at him. Instead she said, trying to keep her cool, "May I use your bathroom?"

Hunter's grin faltered for a split second. "Um, of course you can. But could I ask why?"

Ellie just repeated. "May I use your bathroom?" But she also made a subtle movement with her thumb to gesture to the crowd on the sidewalk behind her. Hunter glanced over her shoulder. "Aha. This involves Logan Flentley and Clay Welling. Has to be something weird. Okay, sure. Whatever my future girl wants, my future girl gets."

Ellie glared at him, vowing to kill him as soon as she was finished in the bathroom. She followed him to the bathroom where she washed her hands eight times before deciding she could leave. She opened the door and nearly had a heart attack. Hunter was leaning against the wall across from the door with his arms crossed over his chest, obviously waiting for her to come out.

"So what was that all about? And what's with the bunny suit?"

Ellie bit her lip, debating whether or not to tell him about the game of truth or dare. It really wasn't any of his business, but what harm could it do?

"Game of truth or dare," she said, succumbing to his green eyes. She quickly diverted her eyes to the picture behind his head so that she wouldn't have to look at them. "Blake Porter dared me to wear this stupid thing and ask people to use their bathrooms. I had to use five of them. Now, I have to go to The Jukebox like this. Thankfully, Clay dared Logan to go in wearing only his boxers so at least I won't have everyone looking at me."

"I don't know about that," Hunter said. "It's hard to miss such a pretty face."

Ellie glanced at him sharply, thinking she would see Hunter wearing that cocky grin. But she was shocked to see his cheeks were faintly pink, and his smile was sheepish. He dropped his gaze for a moment; and when he looked up, the cocky grin was back. Ellie sighed. It had to have been a trick of the light before.

"I'm going to The Jukebox too," Hunter said. "I'm supposed to meet some of the guys. Do you want me to give you guys a ride?" Hunter's parents had just bought him a new car, and he was constantly showing it off.

"No thanks," Ellie said, hoping he'd get the hint. "We're walking."

Hunter opened a closet and pulled out a blue jean jacket. It was unusually chilly despite the fact that it was September in North Carolina. "That's cool. We should get going if we want to get there before everyone leaves. We don't want them to miss you and Logan's shenanigans." He winked.

Ellie was in such shock, she simply followed him through the house and out the front door.

Clay, Logan, and Blake clapped and hooted in congratulations, and Ellie couldn't help but smile. She ran past Hunter to Alex and enveloped her best friend in a hug. "Why didn't you warn me?" she hissed in Alex's ear.

"I tried," Alex muttered back.

"He's coming with us," Ellie said, her teeth gritted.

"He is?!" Alex asked with shock and excitement.

"Yes. Why do you sound happy about this?"

Alex stepped away from Ellie. "Because, you have to admit, he's hot. And he has a thing for you. Hello? You get A's in algebra, do the math."

"I'm not going out with him," Ellie said bluntly.

Alex sighed. "You don't know what you're missing."

"Yo! Ladies? Could we go now?" Logan asked.

"Eager to drop trou, are we?" Alex asked, raising her hand to her face in mock horror.

Logan laughed. "Yes, if you must know. I want to get this over with."

"Well, let's get going then," Hunter said, striding in the direction of The Jukebox with Ellie and Alex behind him.

"Wait a second," Clay said, coming to a halt. Logan and Blake had also frozen in their tracks. "Who said you were coming?" Clay pointed an accusing finger at Hunter who spun around to stare at the three glaring boys.

"I did," Hunter said smugly. "It's a free country, y'know."

Clay rolled his eyes. "Whatever."

And so the group began walking towards town and The Jukebox. Clay, Alex, and Blake hung back talking about the latest episode of Alias (Clay and Blake discussed Jennifer Garner's butt while Alex provided a running commentary on Sydney's wardrobe.). Meanwhile, Logan was interrogating Hunter while Ellie walked in front of them, pretending to ignore them but listening intently the whole time.

"So how's football going?" Logan asked.

"Pretty good," Hunter answered. "We've got a great team this year. I think we might even have a chance at the championships this year."

"Cool," Logan said. Ellie could hear a little bit of sarcasm in his voice. "I guess I'll have to start coming to the games."

"Yeah," Hunter said.

"Weren't you dating a cheerleader last year?" Logan asked.

"Allison Bridges," Hunter said, staring straight ahead. "But we broke up over the summer."

"Why?" Logan asked.

"We just weren't a good match, I guess. I'd really rather not talk about it." Hunter was watching his feet now.

There was a long pause before Logan said, "I heard you're doing some tutoring now."

Since Ellie was in front of him, she didn't see the way Hunter's eyes darted to the back of her head. Unfortunately Logan did, and his face turned red for what seemed like the hundredth time that night.

"Uh, yeah," Hunter said. "I am. Except I haven't had anyone to tutor yet. What about you, Ellie?"

Ellie didn't even bother turning around. "Nope."

There was a long pause. Logan realized that Alex, Blake, and Clay had stopped talking and were listening intently to the conversation. Finally, Hunter cleared his throat. "I guess it's good that we haven't had anyone to tutor yet, huh? You know, since that means everyone's passing." He laughed nervously and glanced backwards at Alex, Blake, and Clay who all smiled politely. Logan hadn't laughed. He had tripped over a crack in the sidewalk because he had been so distracted by Hunter.

Never in his life had he seen or heard Hunter Crayton so nervous. Hunter was confident, so much so that a lot of people thought he was a stuck-up snob. But Logan heard a nervous quaver in his voice, and his hand was trembling. Hunter saw him staring at his shaking hands and shoved them into the pockets of his jacket. He cleared his throat again.

"So, Logan," he said, and his voice came across much stronger. "I hear your going to put on a striptease in The Jukebox."

"Yeah," Alex said, giggling. "It was Clay's idea.

Hunter grinned. "Clay, you're a maniac."

Any reservations Clay might have had about Hunter disappeared. "Yeah, I am." He shrugged modestly.

"And making Ellie wear the bunny suit was genius, Blake," Hunter said.

Blake smiled weakly. Hunter made him nervous because he was everything Blake wasn't. "Thanks." He turned to Alex and whispered, "I think."

Alex giggled. Blake's breath against her cheek made her dizzy. She glanced at him and saw him smiling, but he looked away quickly when he saw her looking at him.

"So what were some of the other dares?" Hunter asked.

The group explained the game in detail as they approached The Jukebox. Only Ellie stayed completely silent, staring straight ahead. She couldn't look Hunter in the eye or she might find herself on the sidewalk.

"Uh, I hate to say it but those dares were kind of lame," Hunter said.

Logan blushed so red, he thought his head was going to explode. He turned and saw Clay and Blake turning similar shades, but Alex just giggled.

"Yeah, but that's what's fun about it," Alex said.

"They weren't lame," Blake said quietly.

Hunter turned around and walked backward, a mischievous glint in his eye. "Prove to me that your game isn't lame. With the exception of Logan and Ellie, of course," he said when Logan and Clay opened their mouths to protest.

"Fine," Blake said, his teeth gritted. "Dare me."

Logan noticed that Alex had turned kind of pale, and she was glancing back and forth between Hunter and Blake as if she were watching a tennis match.

"Hold on," Hunter said, staring into midair and continuing to walk backwards. There was a long silence before he finally snapped his fingers. "I got it."

"Well, what is it?" Clay asked, a smile tugging on his lips.

Hunter grinned. "Can't tell ya. Only Blake can know."

Logan, Clay, and Alex frowned. Ellie spun around and began walking backwards just like Hunter. "Whatever it is, don't do it," she advised, staring Blake in the eye. "He's just a pushy show-off. You have nothing to prove to him."

Hunter whirled to face Ellie, his eyes narrow. "Pushy show-off?"

"Yeah," Ellie said. "You got a problem with that?"

"Not at all," Hunter said, and Logan saw that his eyes were flashing with anger. "I just never expected it from a goody-goody like you."

Blake grabbed Logan by the arm to keep him from slugging Hunter. "He's not worth it," he hissed under his breath.

But Logan was mad, and his breath was coming in gasps. "Don't talk about Ellie that way."

Hunter rolled his eyes and ignored him. "So do you accept the dare or not?" Hunter asked.

"He doesn't even know what it is yet," Clay interjected.

"Yeah," Ellie said, still glowering from being called a goody-goody (which was the one thing she hated to be called...other than Eleanor.)

"Fine," Hunter said. "I'll tell you the dare, and you can decide to accept it or whatever."

Blake nodded. "Let's wait until we get to The Jukebox. We can talk while Ellie and Logan pull off their dares."

"Fine," Hunter said. And there was silence the rest of the way there.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


When they reached The Jukebox, the group split up. Clay and Alex entered and took seats at the bar where they ordered milkshakes and chatted with Meredith who was running the front register. Blake and Hunter headed for the back of the parking lot, and Logan and Ellie climbed into the bushes and trees beside the building.

"Could you hold my clothes?" Logan asked, grinning sheepishly.

Ellie smiled. "Sure." Logan hastily pulled his shirt off, and Ellie blushed when she saw how muscular and toned his chest was. He sure hadn't looked like that when they had played in the local pool or at The Bridge when they were younger.

"Here," Logan said, handing her the shirt as he unbuckled his belt. Ellie giggled. "What?" Logan asked, nervous as to why she was laughing.

"I'm just glad that I don't have to go in there looking stupid alone. Y'know?"

Logan laughed aloud. "Yeah. No matter what happens, we'll have each other."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Isn't that illegal?" Blake asked, staring at Hunter. They were exactly the same height, but Hunter was more muscular. Blake was kind of lanky.

Hunter grinned. "Sort of. That's the fun of it. It's a big risk."

Blake sighed. It really figured that Hunter would dare him to do something that could potentially get him arrested. "I think I'm going to have to turn you down."

Hunter grinned, leaned against a tree, and said, "Fine. Don't do it."

"Okay, I won't," Blake said turning away.

But a hand clapped onto his shoulder. "Of course, then Alex would think you're a chicken. That wouldn't be very good would it?"

Blake spun around and glared at Hunter. "What are you babbling about?"

"I see the way you look at her," Hunter answered, leaning back against his tree. "I also know that half of the guys in town would give their right arm to go out with her. You need to do something impressive if you want her. So the question is do you want her or not?"


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


"So let me get this straight," Brad, Ellie's oldest brother, said as he made a chocolate shake. "My sister is going to walk in here dressed as a bunny with a naked Logan Flentley?"

"He'll be in boxers," Alex amended.

"Still," Brad said, grinning. "I wish I had my camera."

"Don't we all," Nate, Ellie's other brother, said as he passed with a platter of cheeseburgers to deliver to a table.

"I still can't believe Ellie accepted it," Meredith said, shaking her head as she dried a glass. "Logan always had spunk, so I'm not at all surprised at him. But Ellie used to be scared of walking in here at all, let alone in a bunny suit."

"Maybe this is proof that our baby sister is growing up," Brad said, passing the chocolate shake to a cheerleader.

There was a long pause before Meredith, Brad, and a passing Nate said, "Nah."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


"Are you ready?" Logan asked. He was freezing in just his boxers, but Ellie had been postponing their little trip into her family's diner. She just wasn't ready to look like a total moron, even if cutie Logan was going to look moronic right beside her.

"Uh, give me another second," Ellie said, taking a deep breath.

Logan smiled and looked away. He would give her as many seconds as she wanted. He was standing extremely close to Ellie McGregor, hidden in a bunch of trees, and wearing only his boxers. It was something of a dream come true, only Ellie had been wearing very sexy lingerie instead of a bunny suit.

Meanwhile, Ellie was seriously about to hyperventilate. Not only was she going to have to face her schoolmates (She didn't even want to think about the seniors seeing her that way!), but she knew that Meredith, Nate, and Brad were all inside. She would be listening to them for months....

She sucked in a huge breath, and Logan's cologne filled her nostrils. She smiled. Logan always smelled nice. Like clean laundry and baby powder. She turned to him and said, "Okay, I think I'm ready."

Logan cocked his head to the side, arched one eyebrow, and squinted at her. "Are you sure?"

Ellie nodded. She had always thought of Logan as one of her good friends. Her parents had been friends with Logan's and Alex and Clay's parents before their tragic accident. Even after their deaths, the families still got together for barbecues and parties. Ellie and her siblings had all gone to these events so Ellie had literally grown up beside Logan, his sisters, Alex, and Clay. Ellie had also considered their mothers to be her own. She had went to Logan's mother when she had gotten her period, and she had asked Alex's mother to take her shopping for her first bra.

In other words, she had known Logan since she was like four, and she knew his face well. The look he was giving her was one she had seen many times: his concerned "are you okay" look. But for the first time since sixth grade, she was seeing him as more than a friend. Her face turned redder than ever as she realized how close they were standing while Logan was standing there practically naked. Suddenly, she just wanted to get the dare over with.

"C'mon," she said, grabbing his arm and pulling him out of the trees. "Let's do this so that I can go home."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Blake took a deep breath. He stood staring at the wall. Hunter poked him in the back. "Just do it," he said. "I'll be inside."

Blake spun around to glare at him. "Why?" he asked, his voice cracking.

Hunter snorted. "Dude, I'm not stupid to stay at the scene of the crime. If you get arrested for this, I don't want to be an accessory to the crime." And with that he strode off.

Blake sighed. Hopefully, Ellie's sister and brothers would be nice enough not to press charges. He stood there staring at the back wall for several more minutes.

"I can do this," he muttered under his breath. "This is for Alex." Very quickly, he accomplished his dare and took off running down the street.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Hunter walked into The Jukebox, a smug smile on his face. Clay felt his heart sink. That look could mean nothing good for Blake; and although he had just met the kid, he seemed okay. He hoped it wasn't anything too terrible.

Beside him, Alex was smiling. While she was worried about Blake, Hunter was an extreme babe. Ellie was a complete idiot for turning him down.

Hunter collapsed onto the stool beside Alex. "Get me a root beer float?" he asked Meredith.

She grinned and said, "Anything for my favorite guy."

"You're a doll," he said with a wink.

Clay turned to Alex and shoved a finger down his throat as if to say, "Gag me!"

Alex giggled before turning to Hunter. "So, what did you make Blake do?"

Hunter grinned, but before he could answer a loud ringing resounded through the air. "Oh, no," Clay breathed as the sprinkler system came on.

Someone had pulled the fire alarm.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


A/N: Hmmm, things are getting interesting aren't they? So, isn't Hunter a pain? Or is he just being a show-off like Ellie said? And what is up with all of these stupid kids pulling off dares just to impress their crushes? Are they stupid or what? Meanwhile, what will happen with Ellie and Logan's dare? Will they pull it off? Just some things to ponder. It's storming (again) so I have to get this posted before the electricity goes out! I hope you enjoyed the chapter, and I would appreciate all reviews. Thanks!