What I Want in a Guy
"Attack!" Sunny let out a whoop, unleashing the full potential of her SuperSoaker 4000 upon Harley.
Flex could be heard whimpering as Sharon, his girlfriend, bombarded him with water bombs from the balcony. Raylee was busy running around shoving ice down the boys' board shorts. Alicia, JJ's girlfriend, had been caught by surprise by the girl's campaign on returning from the kitchen. Ever the one to join in on the fun, she had dumped her banana smoothie over Blake's head as he ran past in an attempt to escape Raylee. Consequentially, he paused in surprise long enough for Raylee to slip some crushed ice down his shorts. AJ made a move to charge at Raylee, but JJ got in the way as he tried to sneak up on his girlfriend, causing both boys to topple into the pool.
Harley was trying to dodge Sunny by ducking behind a tree. They circled the tree and he made an abrupt move to 'duck and roll' across the grass, but Sunny stopped him, planting a bare foot upon his chest, aiming the water gun down at his face.
Harley grinned suddenly, looking past her. "Hey, Zac."
Sunny scoffed. "Like I'm going to fall for that!"
"Yeah, Harley. Like she's going to fall for that! Give her more credit," a very Zac-like voice said behind her.
Sunny whirled around in surprise, accidentally squeezing the trigger, soaking Zac's polo-shirt. Harley took advantage of Sunny's distracted state, hauling her over his bare shoulder and carrying her over to the pool. He proceeded to dump her in, ignoring her pleading and threats alike.
When she emerged, pool water dribbling out of her mouth, she glared flatly at Harley, transferring the look to Zac, who was trying to hold in his amused laughter.
"Truce?" Harley extended his hand to help her out of the water.
Sunny looked undecided but took his hand. She then smiled brilliantly.
"Do you really trust a girl you just dumped into the pool in this position?"
Harley tried to take a hasty step back, but was hindered as Sunny held on tight to his hand and pulled with all her might. Harley lost his balance, making a big show of waving his arms around like a lunatic, eventually falling into the pool in starfish position with a resound splash.
When he resurfaced beside Sunny, his normally perfectly-messy hair was plastered to his skull. Everyone around the yard stopped to look at Harley. The right side of his face, and chest and stomach were one big, red welt. It was as if he had fallen asleep in the sun at the beach, to awake several hours later with killer sunburn.
"Belly flop!" Raylee called out, while the rest of the crew burst into laughter.
Harley touched his reddened cheek, flinching. "Dang that smarts!"
Sunny held out her hand, biting back a smile. "Truce?"
Harley rolled his eyes. "Truce. Now that I'm bruised and battered, I'm in no condition to fight. I've learnt my lesson: never get on a girl's bad side, even the nice ones turn nasty. Yikes!" he pretended to shudder.
"That's my girl you're talking about," Zac stated in a mock-threatening tone, as he helped Sunny out of the pool, who in turn helped Harley.
Harley smiled smugly. "Whipped," he said matter-of-factly right to Zac's face.
The other guys cackled, mimicking a whip's sound effect, including hand motions.
Zac's ears reddened, but he didn't say a word to defend himself.
Harley laughed evilly. "So whipped."
Sunny rolled her eyes, sighing in exasperation. "I don't need a whip," she said drolly. She then poked the reddened skin of his exposed chest with her index finger.
Harley jumped back from the unexpected 'attack', and would have fallen back into the pool if both Zac and Sunny hadn't grabbed hold of his arms.
Sunny gave him a pert grin, patting his unmarked cheek affectionately.
Harley shuddered. "See? Down right evil girls are."
Sunny gave him a sweet smile.
"Darn sexy, though," he added as an afterthought.
Zac punched his arm, hard.
"Swear, man. Not like I was talking 'bout Sunny," Harley said defensively, rubbing his left arm.
Sunny punched his other arm even harder than Zac had.
"Dangit, who taught the girl how to punch?" he demanded, moving out of fists reach of the abusive couple.
Flex hunched his extremely broad and heavily muscled shoulders in an attempt to make himself inconspicuous. A valiant attempt, but an impossible feat to hide the huge line-backer.
Harley glared at his best friend but didn't bother to scold. Raylee sashayed over to him, holding out a towel, he paused to fully check her out before accepting the towel. He still couldn't quite meet her eyes, his gaze rested on her dimpled chin, occasionally flickering towards her mouth, immediately looking away afterwards.
Sunny wanted to hit him on the upside of the head. For a guy that usually had all the right moves, he seemed very good at crashing and burning.
Raylee of course, knew she was making him squirm in discomfort and enjoyed every minute of his fall from egotism.
"Thanks," he muttered, when she turned on her heel and strutted away.
Zac nudged him, and murmured in passing, "Now who's whipped?"
"Mo-om! I don't wanna get changed," Corey whined, tugging at his skater shorts.
Mrs. Donahue shook a threatening finger in his face. "If I see a sliver of your underwear showing…"
His shoulders slouched as he tugged his shorts higher with a grimace.
"They'll be here any minute. Zane, please keep your manners in check. That goes for the rest of you as well," she said giving them all a pointed look, including her husband.
The doorbell rang and Mrs. Donahue muffled a small shriek of delight. "They're here!"
Zac stiffened and made a move to stand behind his brothers. Zane looked back at him with a smirk. "Don't worry, I'll protect you."
Zac pulled a face at him.
They waited in the lounge room as their mother answered the door. The walls did nothing to mute two equally enthusiastic feminine tones. The Carters' were immediately ushered in.
"Kimberly, good to see you," Mr. Donahue moved forward to kiss her cheek in greeting.
"Likewise, Greg," she returned with a warm smile.
"Glasten, long time," he said, grasping the other man's hand firmly.
Mr. Carter grinned jovially. "Indeed, Greg. We must catch up."
The Donahue boys recognised their father's well-disguised shudder.
When the couple parted, their mother steered a vaguely familiar figure into the room.
"Christiana, come greet the boys," Mrs. Carter encouraged.
Zane let out a low whistle. "Well, someone grew up."
Jake grinned. "Someone got hot, you mean."
This was said among themselves, out of parental hearing, but a pair of dark eyes considered them intently.
Corey scrunched up his nose. "Hot? Dude, she's weird looking."
"She's got an appeal you'll learn to appreciate. One of the rites of passage to becoming a man," Jake pompously remarked to his younger sibling. In return, he got a flicked ear.
Zac stared at her in taut silence, a visible vein thumping at his temple.
Her hair was streaked unnaturally, slabs of black on vibrant red. Her skin, which had used to be a sickly pale colour, was now lightly tanned with a smattering of freckles over the bridge of her nose and cheeks. Her glasses had been replaced by contacts, which leant them a luminous watery quality. A small purple-jewelled stud graced the upper left corner of her mouth.
She sauntered over to them with a swish of her hips and a rustle of her skirt.
Zane sized her up with an experienced eye, a wide grin stretched across his face.
"How is my little pyro these days?" Zane asked her benignly.
"Still lighting fires," she returned, throwing a smirk in Zac's direction.
Zac choked, blanching.
She smiled innocently, something that contradicted with her heavily made up eyes, rouged lips, knee-high black boots, and a very intriguing top that wrapped around her body tightly, while being see-through around her midriff, leaving her belly piercing semi-concealed.
She leaned closer to Corey, giving him an eyeful. "You look like you could be the lovechild of Marilyn Monroe and Kurt Cobain. You're kinda cute too," she murmured to the wide-eyed boy.
Jake who had been taking his time checking her out in all her dark glory, blurted out, "Who died?"
"The last guy that tried to peek down my top."
Corey took a hasty step back, a panicky look in his eyes.
She reached out to pinch his cheek. "Don't worry, you're too gorgeous to die."
Corey gulped and Zane laughed loudly drawing parental attention.
Mrs. Donahue was smiling widely. "I'm so glad you're all getting along."
"Like peas in a pod," Christiana agreed, nodding enthusiastically. "The boys and I will get along just fine." More ominous words had never been spoken.
"I told you she worshipped the devil!" Mr. Donahue said to his wife after the Carters' had left.
"Shh! Don't be such a prude, Gregory. Christiana is just going through a phase. Trying to be different is not a crime, and certainly doesn't mean she's in a satanic cult."
"She scared Corey so much he went and changed his pants, just so he could get out of the room."
"That is not true. I heard Christiana say she liked the shade of blue his boxers were, I think he just got embarrassed."
Mr. Donahue scoffed.
"She and Zane seemed to get along rather well," she voiced hopefully.
"Zac hardly said two words the entire time they were here," her husband countered.
"Jake was very friendly to her," she tried again.
"Jake s very friendly to anything in a skirt," he said bluntly.
Chantelle frowned at her husband.
"Glasten didn't mention his road-kill collection."
"Yet," he returned grimly.
She sighed dejectedly. "It was good seeing Kimberly."
Finally Greg's expression softened and he smiled affectionately at his wife. "I'm glad."
"Sunny, she's driving me mad!" Zac whined over the phone to his girlfriend.
Sunny laughed, imagining his petulant expression. "Come on, Zac. She can't be that bad."
"She stole a pair of my boxers and is at this very minute wearing them while shaving her legs in the bath tub."
"How do you know she's in the bath tub?" she asked curiously.
"She evicted me out of the shower," Zac mumbled in an embarrassed tone.
Sunny could almost see his ears turning red.
"Should I be worried? Do I have competition?" she asked teasingly.
"Good word, no!" he refuted, horror-struck by the idea. "Come over, Sunny. Mom won't let me leave the house without her in tow. I need you –".
She heard a clatter and the sound of muffled voices.
"What are you doing? Get out!"
"Hey, do you mind if I use your toothbrush?"
There was silence for a full minute, then a whimper sounded on the other end of the line. "Help me…"
Sunny swallowed her laughter with difficulty. "To the Batmobile!"
Sunny made her way up the driveway, eyeing the caravan parked on the street in front of the Donahue's' house with interest.
When she rang the bell, the door was opened suddenly. A mass of curly black and red hair, and a pair of luminous dark eyes greeted her. A girl in a pair of banana print boxers and a wife beater with, 'G.I ate Joe' scrawled across the bust, an action figure's dislocated arm was stitched to the singlet underneath the words life an underline, leant against the doorframe, looking Sunny over suspiciously.
"Who are you?" she demanded, bordering on rude.
Sunny smiled brightly at her. "Hi, you must be Christiana. I'm Sunny, Zac's g-girl-girlfriend," her tongue had difficulty forming the sounds, like it was an unfamiliar word.
The girl only glared at her attempt to be friendly and for a second Sunny thought she was going to slam the door in her face. "Sunny, huh? Let me guess, you have a sister named Rain and a brother called Overcast?"
Sunny kept the smile on her face, but it had suddenly become less than genuine. "Close, but not quite."
Christiana scoffed, turning on her heel, leaving the door wide open, muttering something like, "Bimbo" under her breath.
Sunny scrunched up her face in confusion. What had she said or done to make the girl dislike her so?
Zac ducked out of the den when the coast was clear. He tugged Sunny inside, stealing covert glances around them, leading her, actually more like sneaking her, through the house to the garage. Zac closed the door behind them as gently as possible, letting out a relieved sigh. He turned to Sunny with a deliriously happy expression on his face. He stumbled over to her like a drunken man and flung his arms around her in a tight embrace.
"Um, hello?" She smiled at him uncertainly, unsure how to act in response to his out of character behaviour.
Zac took the opportunity to kiss her neck, murmuring, "She's insane…Absolutely bonkers…Mmm, you smell so good. She asked Corey if he minded if she put her bras in his underwear draw…he hasn't spoken a word since." He lifted his head when he felt Sunny chuckle.
"Poor boy," she said all sympathy, rolling her eyes.
Zac grimaced. "Zane actually likes her. Thinks she's funny. I think he must be as bonkers as she is."
"I don't think she likes me very much," Sunny said quietly.
He pulled her even closer. "See, there's a sure sign she's whacked. Who in their right mind wouldn't like you?" Love you, he added silently.
"Hmm…good point!" she grinned at him cheekily.
He laughed affectionately. "So much for feminine modesty."
He gave her lips a quick peck which could have developed into something more, just as the door opened, catching the couple in a compromising position. They sprang apart guiltily.
"My eyes!" Christiana shrieked in agony. "My poor, violated eyes!"
Zac scowled at her. "Stop being a drama queen."
She shot him a challenging look that put Sunny on her guard. Christiana pouted her lips innocently, eyes wide. "Oh, Zac. You're so funny. Ha ha," she added dryly.
Sunny relaxed. Maybe she was just being paranoid.
The garage door's mechanisms started to turn as it rolled upwards. Zane's enigmatic figure balanced atop his bike was slowly revealed.
"Baby!" Christiana squealed.
"Sugarpie," he drawled so sexily, it was all one could do not to shiver with pleasure. "Seems like ya'll are having a party. Am I invited to this shindig?"
"Don't go all country hick on me, Zane," Zac admonished.
Zane rolled his eyes, manoeuvring his bike in to the garage, parking off to the side to allow room for his parents' vehicles.
Christiana fluttered her eyelashes at Zane as he dismounted, shrugging off his leather jacket. He grinned crookedly at her in return, eyeing her outfit. Noticing his scrutiny she blushed prettily, but recovered her attitude quickly with a toss of her curly mane.
"Well, cowboy, there's always room for one more," she linked her arm through his tilting her back at a provocative angle to draw attention to the elegant line of her bare neck. Zane responded accordingly, letting his eyes drift from her sparkling eyes, downwards.
Sunny observed this in consternation. Christiana was so practiced, so confidant and at ease with the art of flirtation. She found herself admitting that she was slightly jealous of this 'unique' girl. She commanded herself and the opposite sex with ease, coaxing them into acting as she wished without vocalising her request.
And she called me a bimbo? Sunny cringed at her unkind thought. She barely knew the girl, and couldn't judge what sort of person she was.
Zac cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Well, now that you're home Zane, you can keep Christiana entertained. Sunny and I are going to grab some lunch in town."
Christiana rounded her gaze on him. "I'm hungry too, Zane and I'll come with."
There was an all round pause. Christiana waiting for a response. Zac trying to find a way to flat out refuse without sounding too rude. Zane and Sunny, just waiting for the drama to unfold.
Zane's lips twisted wryly, responding for his still mute brother. "Yeah, we'll use the SUV. You can even drive," he offered his floundering sibling.
Zac looked devastated. Sunny being the sympathetic girlfriend she was patted his hand, trying not to laugh.
Christiana was looking triumphant. "I just need to change, I'll be down in ten!" She pranced inside, fairly glowing.
"Hey, babes. Ditch those stiffs and have fun with us!" a gang of youths called out from across the street, along with several other more lurid suggestions.
Christiana took it all in her stride, even waving friendlily back, as if they had said nothing more offensive than 'hello'.
They had parked the SUV in the parking lot of the supermarket that was within walking distance of the diner. They had been walking in pairs, looking for all the world like couples, which at least in one case was true.
When the youths started haranguing them Zac had put a protective arm around Sunny, pulling her closer. Zane probably would have said or done something in retaliation but Christiana had put a hand on his arm smiling it off.
"You shouldn't encourage them, Chris," Zane was speaking in low tones to her. "One day, they might be dumb enough to think you're actually interested. Guys like that don't
need a lot to convince them a girl's got the hots for them. The dumb ones can be the most dangerous."
"The dumb ones can also be the cutest," she said, pinching his cheek with a grin. Zane's face looked grim, definitely not satisfied with her reply.
They strolled into the diner leaving the catcalls behind them, seating themselves at a booth. A pretty waitress in a powder blue uniform came to take their orders after a few minutes.
"Zane?" she asked surprised.
"Well," he drawled, his endearing lop-sided smile crept onto his face. "If it isn't Bethy Mae!"
She looked heavenwards, but laughed, a huge smile changing her whole face. "What are you doing here? Last I heard you were at Berkeley. Home for the holidays?"
He shrugged in reply, turning the question back at her.
"Oh, I go to the community college. I work here part-time to pay off student loans," she said waving off the subject. "Speaking of work, I should get back to it before my boss chews my ear off for slacking." She smiled apologetically, and then wrote down their orders. Before she left she stopped beside Zane. "Let's catch up on old times, do you still have my number?" He nodded affirmative. "Don't be a stranger," she spoke firmly, and then left them all with a brilliant smile.
"Well, she was…friendly," Christiana commented to no one in particular.
"That was an old girlfriend of Zane's," Zac told Sunny, remotely replying to Christiana's remark.
Zane rolled his eyes.
Sunny quirked an eyebrow. "You say that like it's a bad thing. She seemed nice enough to me."
Zac exhaled a long suffering sigh. "They're all nice. It's unnatural I tell you!"
"He's just jealous because he could never pick the good ones out of a pack. Until now that is," Zane added, sending Sunny a roguish grin. Sunny riposted wittily.
Unnoticed, Christiana's eyes unfocussed as she stared out of the window. Zac picked up on her unusual silence. Not wanting to, but compelled by his ingrained good manners, he murmured so as to not draw attention, "Are you alright?"
Startled, her eyes flew to Zac who sat across the table from her, quickly regaining her composure. "Why wouldn't I be?" she replied in an overly sweet tone, going so far as to flutter her lashes at him.
He withdrew from her once again. She rolled her eyes.
"…tell him, Zac!"
Zac startled at Sunny's exclamation. "Sorry, I spaced. Tell him what?"
"That he should stay at Berkeley! He's half way there! Two more years then he graduates, then he can transfer and do a post-grad course elsewhere. I'd kill to have Berkeley on my resume."
"Sunny, at the rate you're going, you'll probably get into Yale or Harvard, any university would kill to have you," Zac said exasperated.
"This isn't about me, this is about Zane!"
The story of my life, Zac thought with resentment. "He can make his own decisions, Sunny."
She frowned a little, disappointed he didn't agree with her.
"He's right, Sunny," Zane said gently, softening Zac's abrupt statement. "It isn't a rash decision, nor has it been finalised. I'm not sure I'll quit Berkeley, it just seems like a definite possibility at the moment."
Sunny pursed her lips, and almost missed the murmurs passed between Zac and Christiana.
"Nikky?" Sunny heard Christiana question softly.
Zac nodded in return. They shared a grimace. It was the most amicable exchange between them she'd seen so far. Frankly she was amazed.
Bethy Mae came around with their orders, smiling at them all, but was called away by other customers before anything but thank you could be said.
They ate in a contemplative silence.
The peace was disturbed when Corey swaggered in with an arm around a petite Asian girl. He stopped dead in his tracks upon seeing them, or rather Christiana.
Christiana's face lit up upon seeing Corey's terrified figure. She stood up and waved frantically to get his attention, even though he clearly had seen them, and called his name loudly, just so there was no possible escape. A proverbial deer trapped in headlights if there ever was one.
He reluctantly made his way over to their booth, in tow of his girlfriend.
"Hey," he grunted. The girl at his side nudged him with a gentle hand. He flicked her a look, and they had a silent battle of wills. She won, of course. "This is Ming," he stated painstakingly. "Ming, my brothers, Zac and Zane," he pointed to each in turn. "Zac's girlfriend, Sunny, and…and…it. I mean Christiana."
Christiana laughed affectionately, not at all offended, even though Ming looked aghast at Corey's rudeness.
Sunny smiled at Ming in her disarming manner, trying to put her at ease. "Would you like to sit down?" she asked, scooting Zac further into the booth in an effort to make room beside her.
Ming returned her smile, looking ready to accept, before Corey vigorously shook his head.
"Nuh-uh. We were just going to spend, um, you know, quality time together or something. Thanks anyway," he directed his comment towards Sunny, but his eyes never left Christiana, like a fawn keeping it's wary eye on a predator so it would know the right time to flee before it was about to strike.
Zane raised an amused eyebrow at his brother. It was clear he was questioning his sibling's excuse of 'quality time' with his girlfriend.
Corey flushed under his eldest brother's scrutiny.
Zac interfered. "You should come to dinner one night," he spoke kindly to Ming, seeing how she seemed to find the situation awkward. "If you'd like to arrange it with Corey, I could invite Sunny over too so you'll have some female company."
Zane too nodded encouragingly, smiling warmly at her.
She smiled shyly at Zac and Zane, then glanced at Sunny. "Thank you, I'd like that," she said in a soft, pretty voice.
Christiana hmmphed, muttering to herself, "And I'm not female company?"
If anyone had heard the indignant question they chose not to acknowledge it.
Corey looked like he was getting antsy, shifting from one foot to the other, anxious to leave their company. He grabbed his girlfriend's hand and started tugging her toward the exit.
"Bye," he said abruptly, beating a hasty retreat.
"It was nice meeting you all," Ming called back to them in her soft-spoken way.
"You haven't even eaten anything," Christiana called out, as Corey opened the door, throwing one last horrified look over his shoulder. And then they were gone.
Zac rounded on Christiana. "Why are you such a pain in the neck? Will you stop harassing Corey, already! It's bad enough you won't leave me alone, but to make him another of your victims. What are you going to do to him? Make him another one of your sacrifices? Are you going to drink his blood in an effort to maintain eternal youth or something? You're a sick, sad, little freak. For crying out loud, what is up with the junk you wear? Your clothes? Your make-up? You think you're different? You are. You're a bottom-feeder, a parasite. Someone who clings to others, feeding off them. You enjoy other people's frustration and anger, egging them on till their hanging by a tether, and then you push it farther and enjoy the result. You sadist. You masochist. You freak. I want you to stay away from my family," his tone was seething venom.
The group sat in stunned silence. Zac's temper had never boiled hotter and his words were meant to cause acute pain and offence. Christiana blinked, pursing her lips to banish any hint of hurt from her countenance.
Sunny chewed the inside of her cheek. She had never seen Zac so angry. She had always known him to be so kind and generous toward other people, she never knew he had such a hot temper. Never knew she could be afraid of him, afraid of what that temper would cause him to do.
Zane knew his brother had a savage temper, fortunately he was usually slow to anger. Unfortunately for Christiana, she seemed to be the only one able to ignite it with merely a few words. He knew his brother had gone too far, his words too harsh. It was time to pull rank.
"Zac," Zane's tone was like an iron fist, slamming attention into its recipient. "That was uncalled for."
Zac looked ready to bare his teeth, but the hard look his brother gave him went a long way to cooling his temper. He looked down, concentrating on his fisted hands in his lap, willing calm.
Sunny laid a gentle hand over one of his tight fists. He jerked away, causing her to flinch. She heard him hiss out a breath, and literally saw the tension leaving his hands and tightly clenched jaw, his shoulders however remained somewhat rigid.
Zac gathered the hand he had scorned into both of his, kissing her fingertips as way of apology. Sunny felt the tension in her own body drain away.
Zane looked away from what he thought was a private scene. His brother had no need of his help with females, Zac would be able to woo women all on his own.
Christiana sat perfectly still, refusing look away, staring resolutely at Zac.
Zac finally looked up and met Christiana's eyes, his hands still holding Sunny's under the table. "You drive me crazy, but I had no right to say what I said. I'm sorry."
Christiana nodded, not saying anything, but she seemed to deflate a little.
Zane pushed his plate away. "I'm not sure about you lot, but I don't think I can stomach any more food. How 'bout we take off?" The others nodded their assent. He grinned wickedly, waving the bill. "So who's gonna make a run for it first?"
A/N – It is I! The long lost author person that has treated you all so dreadfully. Do you know, actual tears slipped from my eyes when I realised I'd actually finished writing the chapter. And then I laughed with relief, only to start shuddering with anxiety because most of my readers have probably moved on to greener pastures by now, but alas it cannot be helped. So long to old readers and (hopefully) hello to new. For those that have stayed with me all this time I cannot express my gratitude enough. I will put up a short story in a little while which will be dedicated to all my readers as way of thanks. It's just a little romantic spoof that I find rather endearing. But that's just me.
Anyway, are you surprised Zac has such a mean temper? I'm not. Lol. I love him to pieces but he can't be all sweetness all the time. Zane's little line at the end is an on-going joke in my family. My mum always insists that she should split first because I'm younger, and therefore a better runner, lol.
Zac – 351Zane – 388
Lol, I'm surprised I've kept this up for so long.
Lastly, thank you for all your support during my 'big sleep'. Your encouragement has kept this story alive.