Chapter 1

It Happens to Everyone

There are few things more embarrassing than walking in on your boyfriend's brother while he's standing naked in front of the mirror. Unfortunately, I'm speaking from experience. Not that looking at Jackson Ross without clothes was a hardship. It did make things a little weird though, I must admit. For a moment, neither one of us moved. In the time we were both standing there, stupefied, I took in the sight of him. His six-pack of stomach muscles, his muscular legs, what was between his muscular legs. Jack just sort of stared at me, his toothbrush hanging from his mouth.

Finally, my mind started working again and I backed out of the bathroom, blushing bright pink. I rushed back into my boyfriend's room, feeling absolutely mortified.

"What's the matter with you, Delilah?" Sam asked.

I grimaced. "I kinda walked in on Jack in the bathroom. He was brushing his teeth… naked."

He laughed. "Man, Jackson really needs to learn to lock the door when we have company. Don't feel awkward, it happens to everyone at least once."

Sam and I had been dating for about six months and so far I'd avoided running into anyone in the bathroom. I guess that it was bound to happen some time. A moment later, there was a knock at the door.

"Come on in!" Sam called.

Jack opened the door wearing rumpled khaki shorts and no shirt. I was having a hard time keeping my eyes off of him, and it was making me feel really terrible. I'd always prided myself on my self-control.

He gave me a sheepish look. "Lila, I'm sorry! I just didn't think to lock the door."

"Jack," Sam began patiently, "People walk in on you all of time. When is it going to sink in? Either get dressed right after you shower or lock the door! Poor Delilah is scarred for life!"

"Hey now! It's not like I'm fat and hairy! Right, Lila?"

I felt my cheeks grow hot. Jack wasn't too easy to get along with. He was one of the most popular guys in school and thought the world of himself. He'd just now started to accept me and I didn't want to get on his bad side. What I didn't realize was it was easier to be on his bad side, than his good one.


"Back off," Sam growled at his brother. "You've sufficiently harassed my girlfriend for the evening, so be on your merry way."

Jackson left the room, holding his hands up in mock surrender. When he closed the door Sam shook his head.

"God, he's a dick," he muttered. "Sorry, sweetie."

I kissed his cheek. "It's not your fault."

"He told me that you were hot last night… he has this habit of stealing my girlfriends."

That was no secret. Almost every one of Sam's girlfriends ended up in Jack's bed. I didn't get it, Sammy was adorable. Sure, Jack was amazingly sexy and older, but he was also an arrogant ass.

"Don't worry, Sam, I'd never sleep with your brother. He's been with almost every girl in school."

He smiled. "Well, I don't need anyone else, baby, 'cause I got you!"

I kissed him lightly. "Yes you do, Sammy… yes you do."

"I saw Jack Ross naked!" I told my best friend, Ellie Foster.

"Omigod!" she gushed, fanning herself. "That boy is so hot! Did you have an orgasm, like, right there?! I know that I would've. I swear I almost have one sitting next to him in history!"

"Ellie!" I said with disapproval. "He's Sam's brother!"

"That doesn't change the fact that he is freaking delicious!

I shook my head. "It was awkward… really awkward." I leaned closer to her, lowering my voice to a whisper. "His body is killer, though."

"Well, that's flattering, Miss Delilah Summers," someone drawled.

"Jackson's right behind me, isn't he?" I asked Ellie, squeezing my eyes shut.

"Uh-huh," she replied. "I'm gonna go."

I turned to face him as my best friend scurried off to find a less uncomfortable situation. His expression was one of amusement and his demeanor was casual. "Well, hello Lila. Having a little girl talk, are ya?"

"What're you doing here?!" I said, trying to hide my embarrassment. I'd never seen him over by the sophomore lockers before; I'd felt like it was safe to talk.

"Well, I go to this school. I was just wandering the halls and I decided to stop by and see my favorite brother's girlfriend."

I rolled my eyes. Sam was Jack's only brother. I took in the sight of him while I was trying to think of something witty to say. He was dressed in faded jeans and a blue and white striped polo. His shaggy dark hair fell across his forehead and into his icy green eyes. He had the prettiest eyes, much more interesting than Sam's muddy brown—

"Imagining me naked?" He asked, interrupting my thoughts. He took a step closer to me.

"Jack!" I cried, outraged. "I'm Sam's girlfriend! What do you think you're doing!?"

He backed off, grinning wickedly. "Relax, cupcake," he said with a chuckle. "You're cute when you're angry."

I gave him one last glare and stomped off. What a prick! Just because he was popular, he assumed everyone wanted him. Okay, sure, before I started dating his younger brother, Ellie and I had worshipped him; but that was freshman year. He had only seemed so amazing because he was a big bad junior boy that could get you to melt with just a glance from under his thick, dark lashes. I went to first hour, still feeling flustered. I was glad that Sam had stayed home sick, because I would've died if he had caught me standing so close to Jackson.

I felt really guilty, even though I'd told Jack to back off, I hadn't exactly disliked his teasing. What was I thinking?! Sam was a fabulous guy, I wasn't going to throw him away for a one-night-stand with Jackson, who probably only found me attractive because I was Sam's girlfriend.

"Delilah, page 120, please," my history teacher, Mrs. Dodge said. I jerked my head up to look at her. She was glaring at me through her cat-eye glasses her hands were on her hips.

"Um, okay." I shook my head, as if it would make my thoughts of Jack disappear. "I'm sorry."

"That's fine. Why don't you read this page for us, though, so that you can regain some focus."

A few people snickered, and I rolled my eyes. "Yes ma'am."

By lunchtime I'd basically gotten Jackson out of my head. That is, until he walked over to my table. I was in the middle of telling Ellie about our math test when I watched her eyes widen. Either someone had pulled a gun, or Jack was standing behind me. My money was on Jack.

"Hey," I heard him say. "Sam sent me a text during fourth hour. He wanted me to ask you if you wanted me to take you to our house after school."

I turned to face him. "Why would you do that for him?"

"He's my little brother," he mumured, running a hand back through his hair. "I have to be nice to him every now and then."

"Okay, sure. Where do you want me to meet you?"

"I'll swing by your locker," he said, and then he walked away.

"Um, bye." I muttered, although he was already out of earshot.

"I wish he'd talk to me!" Ellie complained. "I can't believe you get to ride home with him!"

"It's no big deal," I told her. "He'll just flirt with me and try to get me to cheat on Sam."

"I would kill to have him flirt with me!"

"Yeah, if his intentions were pure." I took a bite of my yogurt. "He's a jerk, Ellie. He doesn't respect anyone. The more time I spend around him, the more I learn that."

"All of his friends seem to love him."

"Well, yeah, because he's the leader. They have to love him."

"Just 'cause you don't like him doesn't mean he's a bad person," she told me.

"It's not so much that I don't like him… it's just I don't like the way he treats Sammy."

I gazed across the lunchroom at him. He seemed to glow with confidence. He was the type of guy who never blended with a crowd, something about him that just made him stand out. It was more than just his good looks, it was the way he carried himself.

I spent the rest of the day dreading the car ride home with Jackson. I'd never ridden anywhere with him without Sam, so I was hoping it wouldn't be too awkward. At the end of seventh hour, I went to my locker to wait. Jack met me after about five minutes. He grinned his usual easy grin and took my books from me.

"Hey, cupcake, how was your day?"

I raised my eyebrows at him and reached for my books. "I can carry those."

"So can I," he said, holding them way over my head.

"If people see you carrying those, they're going to get the wrong idea!" I muttered, looking around to see if anyone was staring.

"Well, think of what it would do for your popularity! Being seen with me will do wonders for your social life."

"My social life is just fine, thank you!" I said huffily. So what if I wasn't the queen bee of the school?! It wasn't as if I was a social hermit. I didn't need Jackson Ross to make friends for me. I tried to get my books one last time, but I was only about 5'4, so he had about eight inches on me. I sighed in defeat and followed him out to his car.

Jack's right-hand man, Scott Turnbow, was leaning against the red Mustang when we got there. Jack smiled at him.

"Parents are outta town and there's beer in the fridge. Comin' home with me?"

"Hell yeah." Scott gave Jack a high-five, then glanced over at me. "Who's this little thing?"

I made a face at him and got into the backseat of the car. Scott was nowhere near as good-looking as Jack, and he was a known sleaze. Why anyone, let alone someone as popular as Jackson, wanted to associate with him was beyond me. Then it occurred to me, he had money… lots of money.

"That's Delilah," Jack said, after they had both gotten settled in the car. "She's Sam's girlfriend. She's a looker, isn't she?"

"Dammit Jackson!" I hissed. "I'm going to tell Sam that you won't leave me alone!"

He and Scott shared a laugh.

"Ooh, Lila, you know how terrified I am of my kid brother!"

I crossed my arms and gave him a pissy look. "You really are an ass, ya know?"

"He knows, darlin'." Scott told me. "He just don't care."

I almost gagged. "Don't call me darlin'." I was silent for the rest of the ride. The two idiots up front went on and on about what "babes" they were gonna have over and what they were going to do with them. The minute we pulled into the driveway I jumped out of the car and rushed into the house. If I heard Scott say "that's what I'm talkin' about" one more time I was going to go insane. Sam was on the couch, watching TV.

"Hey Sammy!" I went over to the couch and kissed his forehead. "Aw, you're running a fever, huh? Why don't we go upstairs so you can get into bed?"

"Ah, Delilah, always trying to get me into bed." He winked. "Okay, let's go."