Chapter 3

"Have you lost your mind?" Ana blurted out the moment the limo rolled away from the curb.

"What?" I asked, faintly surprised at her question. "He seemed like a nice guy."

"He's 22! That's not even within touching distance of 18," she shot back, looking astonished at the prospect.

I shrugged and repeated, "Yeah, well, he seemed like a nice guy."

"Yeah… I guess but-" she replied slowly, looking disgruntled.

"You admit it." I stated.

"Yes but… Izzy…" she began, looking slightly annoyed.

"Don't worry about it. He probably won't call. He's got Lindsay Lohan to date." I dismissed it and then stared out the window.

She sighed heavily but shut her mouth. We rode in silence back to the park.

Ana has a vague idea about my romantic past and the mess that it's been. She knows that I've dated a lot of assholes. But she doesn't know the reality of the situation. Sure I've been screwed over but I've screwed other guys over too.

I've cheated, I've made out with other people's boyfriends, and I've stolen other boyfriends for my own personal benefit. Some people call it skanky; I call it sometimes losing control when I drink. And I've learned my lesson… nothing good comes from dating cheaters because if they're willing to cheat on their girlfriend with you… who are they willing to cheat on you with?

Sure, I've been dumped, I've been cheated on, and I've been treated like crap. Woe is me… whatever. You don't need my sob story and I don't need your pity. I live life to the fullest and with no regrets… there's a lesson in everything, which is why I try not to get too upset about not having a boyfriend.

But ever since Ana and Andrew have hooked up, all I can think about is having a boyfriend of my own. I watch them play with each other, snuggle, cuddle, be nauseatingly adorable, and can't help but ask myself why is it that I keep getting fucked over? I mean they are in no way my idol couple, they've definitely been through a lot of ups and downs, they've had massive shouting matches, there have been tears, but in the end, they both love each other to death. I'm not oblivious to it.

I jolted from my reverie as we pulled into the parking lot. Andrew jogged over once the limo stopped in the parking lot. I thought about getting out so that I could tease the boys again (I know… I'm horrible) but didn't find the energy.

Andrew climbed in, kissed Ana quickly, and then rounded on me.

"Home please." I said briskly, casually checking my phone.

"Well you really outdid yourself today, Isabella," were the first words out of his mouth and drip with disdain they did.

"I was just having a little fun, Andrew." I replied flippantly, tossing my hair over one shoulder with a roll of my eyes.

"Izzy met a movie star today." Ana announced, obviously trying to detour us from bickering.

He turned his attention to her. "Oh yeah? Who?" he asked.

"I can speak for myself, you know." I told him testily.

He turned his attention to me with an annoyed expression and then asked slowly, patience obviously thin, "Who did you meet?"

"Cole Thomas." I answered, taking a nail file out of my purse.

"Cold Thomas from that one show?" he asked me, surprised (we don't really watch that much TV).

"The very one." I nodded in concurrence.

"How old is he? Isn't he older then us by a couple years or something?" he demanded, beginning to get suspicious.

Was he really that old? "22." I admitted testily, beginning to saw at my nails. Come on, I was an adult now… it wasn't that big of a deal.

"Uh-uh." Andrew began shaking his head quickly. "Absolutely not."

"Thanks, Dad, but I think I can manage picking out my boyfriends." I snapped, still testy. Andrew and I don't have the close bond that Erik and Ana do but once in a while he'll stick up for me or actually act like he's protective. Apparently this was one of the (albeit) rare times.

"First of all, someone has to be your father, and second of all, you're not even close to being 22," he shot back.

"Why is everyone making a big deal out of this?" I demanded sharply, fed up with the remarks about his age. Like I wasn't a legal, consenting adult. "I don't even know if he's going to call me!"

"He gave him your number?" Andrew demanded, looking even more annoyed.

"He asked for it" I snapped back. "So I gave it to him. He was a nice guy; I'd hang out with him."

"Guys usually don't ask for other girls' numbers to "hang out," he pointed out, testy himself.

Tell me something I don't know, Andrew. I hated when he pulled this superior shit with me. "Look, I don't know if he's even going to call me so why don't we just drop the subject. You can drop the whole "protective brother thing now." I ordered sharply.

He shut up finally, glared at me, and then maturely stared out the window stormily. Ana sent me a warning look. I rolled my eyes and stared out the window, sullenly filing my nails.

Andrew got out of the car the minute it stopped, clearly still pissed off.

"You were out of line, Isabella." Ana said quietly before climbing out after him.

Annoyed, I got out of the limo, and stalked over to the garage as the limo rolled away. Like I was in the mood to deal with more of this crap. I climbed into my BMW convertible and started it, turning up the radio as one of my favorite rock band songs played. I quickly backed out of the driveway and sped down the driveway. I drive like I'm on the Autobahn, unfortunately, but what can I say, I like to live life fast.

As I reached the first light, I pulled out my cell phone. I dialed Nicole. "Hello," she answered, bored.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"Hello to you too," she shot back dryly.

"Are you busy?" I asked, not to be deterred, definitely not in the mood.

"Not really, just doing some homework," she answered, clearly understanding not to press it.

"Meet me at the mall." I ordered.

"All right," she answered.

I got there way before she did, obviously, since it was rush hour in the city. I got a Jamba Juice and then began to meander around the mall as I waited for her.

As I walked, a couple passed me, hand in hand. The guy whispered something in the grinning girl's ear and then he pulled back. They shared an intimate smile, all this before we passed. Instead of rolling my eyes, I felt my heart unexpectedly lurch at the sight. What-?

Enough poor me bullshit.

I stalked into a sports apparel store, set on finding a new tennis outfit. I was taking lessons at the country club and probably had enough outfits to clothe a small country but… shopping is therapeutic for me.

I walked among the shelves of equipment, glad that my mind was occupied on something else. I picked up a tennis skirt and looked it over thoughtfully. Was this too- my eye was attracted to movement in the distance. I looked up to see…

…hey, was that…?

Well this day was just full of surprises.

Jason Newman was restocking another aisle, looking bored.

I strolled across the store and over to him, drawled, "Jason Newman," slowly, and then leaned my body against the shelves, crossing my legs at the ankle.

He turned automatically at his name and ran his light blue eyes over me. Funny… I didn't remember him being that tall. Recognition slowly dawned on him. "Shit… I don't believe it. Isabella Walters," he said with a slow smirk, setting down his price gun as he shook his head at the sight of me.

"It's been a while." I stated with a small shrug, unaffected, and then flicked a piece of lint off my clothes.

"Almost a year," he nodded in agreement.

"How the hell have you been?" I inquired curiously.

"Damn good," he nodded with a faint smile back.

"Glad to hear it." I pursed my lips, then smiled, and nodded.

"How's school?" he asked me.

"Almost over." I shrugged. "How's school for you?" he snorted and I smirked faintly… Jason wasn't what we could call the scholarly type.

"I haven't seen you since…" he began and then thought back.

"Since the day my brother broke your nose." I finished. "I believe it was me who pulled him off you."

"Yeah, I remember that day," he rubbed his nose unconsciously.

"Hey… if you hadn't fucked him over… we wouldn't be where we are today." I pointed out calmly with a shrug.

Of course that got him all riled up and defensive. "It was just one little-" he began, annoyed.

"-night of screwing his girlfriend at the time?" I finished dryly. "I wouldn't call that little."

He lost all amusement in his expression. "Are you here to lecture me for your brother now that you've found me again?" he asked, looking faintly apprehensive borderline annoyed.

I shrugged before answering honestly, "I probably shouldn't even be talking to you."

"Then why are you?" he asked shortly, clearly at the end of his patience. Boys… they were all the same.

"You're my friend." I replied simply with a careless shrug of my shoulders.

He looked at me for a long moment and then said shortly, "No I was your friend."

"No." I said very deliberately. "You are my friend."

He stared at me for another long moment and then snorted, shaking his head, smirking faintly as he said slowly, "Your brother's going to break my nose again if he finds out we're hanging out."

"My brother doesn't have to know that I'm hanging out with you." I answered, still calm. "After all, he has no control over my friends as he's only my brother and not my father."

"Aren't you two twins?" he asked. I shrugged, not denying it, obviously. "I'm technically the enemy, aren't I?"

I shrugged again before answering. "We may look alike but we're very different people."

He looked at me for a long moment and then smiled faintly. "Good to see you, Izzy," he said quietly.

"Jason," a new voice said, sounding pissed. I turned around to see a balding man behind me, wearing the same uniform Jason wore… on his nametag it said assistant manager. "Get back to work," he ordered, glancing at me before stalking away.

"Sure." Jason immediately picked up his gun and began marking boxes for a few minutes before stopping. "My boss," he shrugged with a jerk of his chin in the direction the man had just gone.

"I figured." I smiled back faintly. "Here, why don't we exchange numbers and then you can get back to work?" I pulled my phone out of my purse and walked over to him.

He quickly looked behind him and then looked over my head before pulling out his own cell phone. We exchanged phones and entered in our respective numbers. "Give me a call soon," he said once he was finished. I looked up with only a slight tilt of my chin, he was probably 5'10 to 5'11 to my 5'6, and found myself outrageously close to him, enough that if I stood on my tiptoes just a little, I could… brush my lips on his. I heard my breathing become shallow. Jason definitely wasn't hard to look at. I noticed a new scar next to his right eye.

"It's good to see you," he repeated himself softly, staring into my eyes for a long moment.

"Good to see you too." I answered, mirroring his soft voice, and yet we didn't step back.

Finally he smiled almost ruefully as he pulled back and said, "I should get back to work," as he waved his price gun.

"Yeah, you don't want your boss catching you not." I nodded in agreement, clearing my throat as I stepped back as well. We exchanged cell phones, I said bye, and then left the store.

The minute I stepped out of the store and into the mall, I found myself releasing a breath I hadn't even known I'd been holding. That had been… something else, that was for sure.

My cell phone rang in my purse. I pulled it out… Nicole. "Are you here?" I answered.

"Yeah, I'm walking through Macy's," she answered.

"I'll meet you at the food court." I told her, naming the spot between us.

"Sure," she agreed.

"Bye," we hung up.

Ten minutes later, we were approaching each other. "Hey," she said. "Everything okay?"

"You won't believe who I just saw." I told her seriously.

"Who?" she demanded, curiosity clearly spiked.

"Jason Newman." I told her.

She frowned at my admission. "Wait… Jason as in… Andrew - Jason?" she asked, brow crinkling in question.

"Indeed." I nodded in agreement.

"Did you break his nose too?" she asked dryly, clearly remembering the bad blood between my brother and him.

"No, we actually talked." I replied breezily as we casually began to walk through the mall.

"You did?" she asked, looking surprised at the news.

"Yeah…" I said slowly. So?

"I figured you wouldn't talk to him since… you know, everything that happened between him, Andrew, and Andrew's ex," she said, looking faintly confused.

"Okay, she was really drunk that night, and you know it." I sighed impatiently.

Nicole studied my face for a second and then told me, in a voice I'd never heard her use before, "Be careful, Izzy." I realized it was dead serious, which surprised me.

Uncomfortable with her new tone, I looked away and asked dismissively, "What do you mean? I'm always careful."

I could see that she wanted to point out all the times that I hadn't been but she knew better then to bring them up. Instead she forced a smile and said, "Let's go into American Eagle," and then dragged me into the store.

Just like that, it was swept under the rug.

A/N: yep i'm back with more. it's been coming slow but i'm churning with ideas for this one.

smoothed out: i know she was amazing hahahaha. i'm glad she's your hero :) i'm glad i'm not keeping you from your fantasy.

sexy paperclip: hahaha yes, izzy dating a hot celeb doesn't really strike you as surprising, huh. that would be pretty cool if she became one too though she's not really an actress... just a bit of a drama queen. vague ideas for the next story are something about a girl dealing with her bridezilla older sister and her sister's future husband's cute best man. but i don't know if it's gonna work out... that's just what it is thus far. hahahaha i've done something similar to izzy to my cousin, who is two years younger then me, i did it to his friends. needless to say, he nearly kicked the crap out of me later for it but it was out of love. it was funny to see all his friends drooling over me, apparently i'm outrageously hot to them all, being older and from california (which makes you a goddess in north carolina boys's eyes, apparently).

AbbeyEileen: thanks for catching that! it was "it's erik, i'm gonna take this," in case you were wondering though i'm sure you figured it out. yes, there will be more about andrew and ana because ana and izzy are best friends AND they all live in the same house so there will be a lot of interaction between them. and yes, izzy at the soccer game was the best.

ok, until next time,

a smile that explodes