Chapter 1

Nothing can keep three best friends, Matthew Collins, Zack Daniels and Meagan Anderson, from spending time with each other whenever and wherever they want. Preschool would have not been the same for Meagan and Matthew if Meagan hadn't caught Matthew secretly eating clay beside the cubbyholes during nap time and elementary would have not been the same for the three of them if Meagan and Matthew didn't defend Zack from bullies who made fun of him because of his funny teeth. Since the moment they all got together, they were almost inseparable.

The sun shone brightly above Matthew, Zack and Meagan as they walked down the street to the park as they usually did when they had nothing to do on sunny Saturday afternoons. They excitedly exchanged stories with each other, laughing occasionally at the funny thing one of them said.

"Hey, Zack, too bad you guys lost yesterday," said Meagan as the wind blew her long black hair while in its pony tail. Her dark brown eyes saddened as she sympathized with Zack and the smile on her over moisturized lips disappeared. Her normally pale shoulders were red beneath the sun and her petite body moved excitedly as the thought of playing basketball with her best friends came to her.

"Yeah… I was kinda off last night…" Zack replied hesitantly. His bright, blond hair glistened in the afternoon light and his dark blue eyes showed a sign of grief for losing the first game of the finals of the San Mateo County High School Basketball League. His cheeks were rosy in the afternoon heat but his almost six-foot stature gave petite Meagan a little shade. The combination of his serene looking eyes, rosy complexion, sharp nose and kissable looking lips made Zack, to his slight pleasure, one of the most sought after guys in their high school. "And those screaming girls made it all worse… but there are two other games anyway," Zack complained in fake-humility.

"Zack, shut up. We both know you liked it," blurted Meagan. She then jerked Matthew to say something that concurs to what she said.

"Uh, yeah, Zack. We both know you, uh, liked it," said Matthew in response to Meagan. He was almost as tall as Zack and had messy, dark brown hair that fell into his grey eyes, and his nose, though slightly crooked, helped him achieve his serious-and-sad-musician look. Although he tried his best to maintain his look, the sweet expression on his eyes and the freckles on his almost always pink nose and cheeks made him look like a serious-and-sad-Raggedy-Anne-doll with a guitar and an awesome rock star singing voice. He looked longingly at the sky and hoped for a miracle.

"Well, whatever… Hey you know, I noticed that brunette cheerleader screaming in the sidelines again. She was like leading all those girls…" said Zack observantly.

"What brunette?" asked Matthew as though snapping back into reality.

"Does it matter?" Meagan asked with a raised eyebrow.

"No… just asking…" Matthew replied, looking at the sky once again.

"Well, last night doesn't matter since you guys are gonna be losing to me at ball today." Zack dribbled the Matthew's basketball as if to show off.

"Zack, you're such a show-off… Come on, just coz you're in the basketball varsity doesn't mean you can beat us all the time," Meagan countered.

"You know, you never won a game against me and Meg." A wicked smile appeared on Matthew's lips as he looked at Meagan sneakily.

This went on for a few more moments until Matthew, Zack and Meagan arrived at the park and walked into the basketball court. They began to play and after a half hour of intense basketball, Zack lost 18-3 and had to accept the taunts from his two best friends.

"So does last night still not matter, Zack?" Meagan asked jokingly.

"Yeah, coz you've lost two games in a row now." Matthew gave Meagan another wicked smile as he laughed at what Meagan said.

"Shut up, you guys… you know if any of my other three's got in, I could've won." Zack sat on the bench and leaned back on it casually. "Besides, I'm still not in the zone so I've got no reason to be upset."

"Zack, that's such bullshit. Just admit you lost again and quit being so egotistical and a pain in the ass," said Meagan with great annoyance.

"Yeah, dude. Sometimes you lose and you have to accept it," Matthew said quietly

"Fine, I accept it, but you guys just have to stop preaching. Damn! I hate losing…" said Zack throwing Matthew's ball into the playground.

"Uh, who's gonna get that?" asked Meagan with increasing exasperation as she pointed at the ball, which was rolling out of sight.

"You get it…" Zack buried his face in his hands and tried his best to hide his frustration for losing two games in a row.

"What?! Zack, you threw it!" As Meagan's anger rose, her face turned red.

"Yeah, but I don't own it." Zack looked at Matthew as if to say, "You own it, you get it."

"I'll get it, since I do own it," said Matthew getting Zack's look and walking away.

"Zack, you're such an asshole." Meagan followed Matthew as she turned so red with vexation she looked as though she might burst.

"Hey, who's gonna sit here with me?" Zack asked, sitting up straight.

"That's your problem." Meagan said as she and Matthew walked ahead to search for the ball, both feeling pissed off at Zack, though Meagan was doing badly at hiding it.

"I hate it when he gets like this," Meagan complained when they were far enough from Zack for him not to hear them.

"Yeah, but at least he didn't let it go onto the street on purpose again…" Matthew replied with optimism.

"I guess," said Meagan, trying to be as optimistic as Matthew.

"Why don't we split up so we can find it faster?" suggested Matthew.

"Okay."

They parted ways and searched different parts of the playground. After a few moments, Meagan saw the ball slowly rolling away near the swings. Just as she was about to pick it up, a pair of big, masculine hands took it from the ground. When she saw who it was, she was almost speechless.

Matthew looked around the park, in search of the ball. He approached the see-saws and merry-go-rounds but still saw no sign of it. Just as he was about to turned back and search another area of the park, he saw a little girl sitting on the merry-go-round as her father pushed it around and around.

"Faster, daddy! Faster!" screamed the little girl with excitement.

"Cahlen, I don't wanna go too fast because you might get dizzy!" said the father with a big smile on his face.

As Matthew watched Cahlen and her father having fun, he thought to himself, What a lucky little girl… I wish I had what she had, with complete sadness. For his whole life, Matthew missed out on one important thing in someone's life: a father. He never met his dad, because when his dad and his mother were engaged, he left Matthew's mother when he found out she was pregnant. Matthew's mother never explained why he left but Matthew always ached to find out who his father really was and why he had gone. All he knew was that he was a musician just like Matthew and that they looked exactly like each other except for the their hair color since Matthew's dad had sandy blond hair, as Matthew had seen in the one picture he had of his dad.

When Matthew realized that he was staring, he turned back and looked for the ball once more. As he neared the swings, he saw Meagan talking to a guy in a red and white cap. What's this about?, he wondered.

Zack sat on the bench and waited eagerly for Matthew and Meagan to return with the ball. He looked around to see where they could be and he saw Matthew watching a little girl and her dad playing at the merry-go-rounds. Poor Matt. He must be thinking about his dad again. Zack watched Matthew turned away from the little girl then looked away from him and found Meagan talking to some guy. Before he could watch any longer, he heard the familiar voices of a few girls from his school. When he saw who they were, he recognized them as the screaming girls at his basketball game. One of them was the brunette cheerleader who, as Zack remembered, was leading all the girls who were cheering for him. Oh no… these girls are gonna bug me nonstop. As he saw them approaching, he walked away and tried to find either Meagan or Matthew.

A guy about Meagan's age stood a few feet in front of Meagan with the ball in his hands. He had light brown hair that was covered with a red and white Red Sox cap worn backwards, and his dark brown eyes looked around the playground to see who could own the basketball. He was tall, but not as tall as Zack, and he had a slender figure. When he saw Meagan approaching him, a smitten look in his eyes appeared and a smile formed on his oh-so perfect lips. This guy is the EPITOMY of hot! Meagan thought.

"Hey, is this yours?" he said with a perfectly deep and masculine voice.

"Uh, yeah… kinda," Meagan replied feeling butterflies in her stomach.

"Oh… well, here then." He handed Meagan the ball and Meagan took it feeling so much butterflies in her stomach, they already made her soar.

"Thank you…" Meagan said shyly as she turned around and started to walk away. Just as she thought she couldn't fly any higher, the guy called her back.

"Hey, wait!"

"Yeah?"

"May I… uh… know your name?" he asked shyly.

"Uh… it's Meagan… just Meagan…" Meagan replied. I hope I'm doing the right thing…

"Oh… well, I'm Charlie… just Charlie…" Charlie held his hand out for Meagan to shake it.

"Nice to meet you, Charlie, just Charlie," said Meagan taking his hand and shaking it. Oh, his hand is sooo warm!

"Nice to meet you too, Meagan, just Meagan." He smiled at Meagan and Meagan smiled back, feeling the world around her disappear.

Just as Charlie was about to say something, Matthew appeared at Meagan's side.

"Hey, you found it! Let's go back to- hey, who are you? Why are you talking to Meagan? You're not some sort of a pedophile, are you? You'd better not be," Matthew asked, showing his utmost concern for Meagan and forgetting his manners in the process.

"I'm Charlie, and I'm no pedophile. I was just giving your girlfriend her ball," said Charlie politely, trying his best not to laugh.

"He's not my boyfriend," said Meagan hastily the same time Matthew said, "She's not my girlfriend."

"Oh… you guys are siblings then?" Charlie inquired.

"No, we're best friends," Matthew snapped.

"But it's like we're siblings already." Meagan smiled and tried to cover Matthew's rudeness, when suddenly, Zack walked up to the three of them.

"I was looking for you guys. What took you so long? Hey, who's this goof?" asked Zack eyeing Charlie with suspicion.

"He's not a goof! He's Charlie," said Meagan, feeling her exasperation for Zack come back, though this time, she felt it also for Matthew. Ugh! Could they even be ruder?!

"Hello," Charlie greeted. "So you're the boyfriend then?"

"I wi-, I mean, no… I'm the best friend," Zack said, as though proud of his role in Meagan's life. Yeah, boy, I'm the best friend. How could you top that

"Wow… your best friends sure do look out for you… Are there any others that would pop out of nowhere?" Charlie said jokingly.

Meagan laughed and said, "No… it's just the two of them…" as Matthew and Zack tried their best to laugh falsely.

"Well, it was a blast meeting you but we really have to go," said Zack.

"Yeah… uh… we have to go…" said Matthew, following Zack's lead.

"Well, I'll see you around, Charlie." Meagan and her two best friends started to walk away and she felt as though her bliss had come to an end.

"You will," Charlie called back.

"What was that about?" Zack asked as they exited the park.

"It was about the hottest guy I've ever laid eyes on!" Meagan said as her eyes lit up with excitement.

"How'd you meet-?" Matthew asked interestedly.

"'The hottest guy you've ever laid eyes on'?! Come on, he looked like just another playah! How could you think he's hot?" Zack interrogated cutting Matthew off. 'Hottest guy she's ever laid eyes on'? That's supposed to be me

"He looks sincere and honest to me! And I think he's hot coz he just is!" said Meagan defensively.

"He's not hot," spat Zack.

"Yeah, but he's not ugly…" Matthew looked at his two best friends and tried his best not to get pulled into the argument. Oh, boy… here they go again

"What?! Of course he's hot! How could you say that?!" defended Meagan. "Zack, stop being such a prick and pain in the ass and just admit that you're not the only hot guy in the universe."

"So are you saying I'm hot? Coz if you are, then I'll stop arguing…" Zack felt himself grin at what Meagan said. Is she saying I'm hot?

"Well most of the girls at our school think so… and as your best friend, I'm telling you that you're hot, but don't let it get to your head." Meagan turned slightly pink as she said this, feeling as though she gave in to Zack's ego. Saying he's hot doesn't imply that I like him. And besides, I said it as a best friend and nothing more… but he is hot…

"Well, thanks for the compliment. And I promise it won't get to my head." Zack felt his grin turn into a big smile as he thought to himself, Wow… she thinks I'm hot…

"Can we change the topic?" Matthew asked, glad that the bickering was through and eager to change the topic to keep them from arguing again.

Following Matthew's request, they began to talk about the History pop quiz they all took the day before. This went on until they reached Meagan's house and Meagan parted from Zack and Matthew.

The moment Meagan got into her room she lay on her bed and looked up at the ceiling, thinking about her afternoon at the park. Oh, Charlie is sooooo fine! And he's so nice! I wonder why I've never seen him before… His hands were so warm! Haaaa… today was puuuuuurfect… but Zack was so weird… is it just me or did he seem… jealous? Maybe he's just looking out for me like how Matthew does… but why'd he ask me to tell him he's hot? It's not like what I think matters… but… well, he really is hot… but he doesn't know I really think so…

Matthew and Zack walked on as Zack watched Meagan enter her house. He knew that she would run up to her room and lie on her bed and think about how her day went, as he knew she always did when something exciting happened to her during the day. She'll be up all night thinking about that dude…

"So, what do you really think of Meagan's new boy?" asked Matthew seeing the look of slight gloom on Zack's face.

"I already said what I think of him," Zack answered knowing that Matthew knew what he was thinking.

"Actually, you didn't. You said what you think about the Charlie you want him to be so that Meagan wouldn't like him anymore. Am I right?" Matthew watched Zack answer with obvious hesitation.

"I guess…" Zack answered with defeat.

"Yeah. So, what do you really think of him?" Matthew interrogated once more.

"Uh… well, he's not bad. And I don't see him as a player. I guess he's good-looking… but I still don't know if he's good enough for Meg…" Zack looked down at the palms of his hands, as he always did when he wasn't at ease.

"Well if he gave her the ball then he could be, right?"

"Yeah…" Zack quietly put his hands in his pockets then sang, "We live in a beautiful world… yeah we do, yeah we do…"

The rest of their walk home was filled with a silence that Zack didn't want to interrupt, just in case they would linger on to that subject again. When they reached the Daniels' domicile, Zack and Matthew said their goodbyes and Zack entered his house with a sad quietness.

When Matthew got home, he ran straight into his room and grabbed his guitar then sat on his favorite bean bag chair. Matthew's room had a dark blue wall covered with posters of various musicians he looked up to. His small guitar collection were all neatly displayed on one corner of his room and on another corner was a wooden desk with tidy piles of cd's and next to it was a shelf full of notebooks that all contain everything Matthew had ever written. His full-sized bed was placed in the middle of the wall across his window and beside it was a side table with pictures of Matthew with his mom, Matthew with Meagan and Zack from when they were kids and up to his their present age, and the one picture Matthew had of his dad.

As he always did when he lamented, Matthew started to play random chords at his guitar. This would go on for a long time until either Meagan or Zack called him up or until his mom would disturb him. This time, he played his precious electric guitar and thought about his father again as he looked at the photograph on his side table. His sandy blond hair was messy and just a bit longer than Matthew's and it fell into his grey eyes. He had freckles all over his nose and cheeks on almost the same spots Matthew had them on his face. He smiled like Matthew smiled as he held a bouquet of flowers in one hand and had his other arm around Matthew's mom's waist. Matthew's mom, Erica, had long red hair in the picture and she had light brown eyes. She was slender and not as tall as Matthew's dad, as her head only reached up to his eyes, just as it did with Matthew.

Matthew looked at the photo even more closely and thought about his father even more. He looks exactly like me. Is he exactly like me? Am I going to leave my fiancée when I find out she's pregnant? No! I'm not like that… but what if I do leave her? How much alike are we? Mom never asks my questions about him… he's a musician and I'm kinda one too… except I'm not in a band. How are we different? How's he like? Before he could help it, words flew musically out of his words, soothing himself and ridding of the uneasiness he felt about not knowing his father.

He brought me to this world

Then left me alone

He never stayed a while

Yet it's him I should have known.

Tell me who you are

Tell me why you left

Tell me why you did it,

Then I might just forget

The pain that you've caused

And my mother's regret