Cole Collins used his key card to open the door to his room and pointed his head inside. His roommate, RJ Stone walked past him and threw the bag he was carrying on the bed.
"Hey, man," Cole called out. "Grab this shit, will ya?"
"Sorry, dude," RJ said. He rushed out and grabbed two suitcases and hauled them in the room. Cole followed and allowed the door to slam behind him. He plopped on his bed and stared at the ceiling.
RJ yawned. "Jamie and Ally here yet?"
Cole shrugged. "Not sure. Jamie said last night he was gonna try and wait to see what time Ally got in. Call his cell."
RJ sat on his bed and faced Cole. "What's the deal with you and Ally?"
Cole sighed and sat up. "Nothing, man. No deal."
RJ raised a brow. "You two were getting pretty cozy at the end of last year."
"She and I are close probably because my dad and her dad are best friends." Cole stood. "Wanna go check out the student center?"
"Yeah. Hey, we should put a notice up there about the band. See if anyone wants to hook up with us," RJ said.
"Not a bad idea," Cole conceded. "But let's wait a little bit. We might find someone on our own."
The student center was crowded as the new arrivals were greeting old friends and talking excitedly about the Welcome Back Bonfire that evening. Both boys attracted quite a bit of female attention as they made their way through the crowd. They both had deep brown hair but Cole had dark brown eyes while RJ had hazel. They were roughly the same height and both had a nice build, though Cole's was a little more pronounced. He worked out with his dad when he was home and made good use of the weight facilities while at school.
RJ bumped Cole's shoulder and motioned toward the vending machine. Cole grinned when he spotted their friend, James Wenslow, leaning against the wall, chatting up a cheerleader. They snuck over and Cole held a finger up to his lips when the girl saw him.
"Give it up, jock," Cole whispered near Jamie's ear. Jamie jumped and jerked around to face Cole. "You'll never get her, man."
Jamie rolled his eyes before bumping Cole's fist first, then RJ's. "Where the hell were you two earlier? I thought you were gonna help me with my stuff?"
"We figured you had help," RJ answered. "Didn't you come with Ally and her parents?"
"Ally's car is fucked so I drove us down here. Uncle Jake didn't come," Jamie answered.
"Aw, did the princess have to carry her own bags or did she hire someone," Cole asked sarcastically.
"Dude, she'll kick your ass if she hears you call her that," Jamie warned with a smirk.
"Whatever, dude," Cole responded. "You going to the bonfire?"
"Yeah, Jamie," the pouty cheerleader asked. "Are you going?"
He turned back to her and smiled, turning her to mush. "I'll probably be there."
"Ok," she said, turning red from head to toe. "See ya there."
Jamie waved absently and turned back to his friends. "You guys going now?"
Cole shrugged. "We might as well."
As they walked out to the football field, they could see the flames of the bonfire stretching up to the sky. Cole reached inside his leather jacket and pulled out a couple cans of beer and a pack of cigarettes.
"Dude," Jamie exclaimed and took a can. "How the hell do you always manage to have a stash?"
Cole smirked. "People can't say no to my charming personality," he responded as he handed RJ a can and they all plopped down on the bleachers.
"Ha," a female snorted. Cole turned his head and grinned at the dark haired beauty standing to his right. "Like hell you're charming, Cole Nicholas."
"Bite my ass Allyson Jane," he bit out. "And I only had room for three beers so you're shit out of luck."
She stood in front of him with her arms crossed over her chest. "I don't want any of your disgusting beer anyway." A smile threatened to break out on her face.
Cole studied her momentarily. She had her mother's petite figure and soft features but she inherited her father's dark hair and piercing blue eyes. Her curves weren't over exaggerated, neither were her breasts, but she'd obviously learned how to carry herself over the summer and Cole had a feeling he wasn't the only one who noticed.
"You look fairly hot, Al," he told her, biting back a grin. "What happened to ya?"
"You're still ugly as ever, Cole," she retorted. "But I guess that's what happens when you spend your summer pining away for your best friend." She let out an overdramatic sigh.
"You two are pathetic," RJ declared before pulling her into a hug. "How are you, Ally? Softball camp musta treated you good."
Cole reached out and softly took her hand. She jumped, startled at the contact. He ran his thumb lightly over her skin and her pulse quickened. She vaguely heard her voice tell RJ her summer had been fine before she turned to Cole. He narrowed his eyes and grinned at her. "Don't I get a hug or are they only for people you like?"
"I suppose I could spare one for you," she said in a voice only slightly shaky. He stood and pulled her into his hard chest before releasing her hand to wrap his arms around her. She closed her eyes as she returned his embrace and took in his musky scent. It reminded her of Nick, her dad's best friend, while still having a 'Cole only' smell to it.
He ran his hands up her back and marveled at how tiny and vulnerable she seemed in his arms. He kissed the top of her head and the smell of strawberries assaulted his nose. Forbidden images of her wrapped up in his bed sheets invaded his mind and he pulled away quickly, causing her to stumble. He held out a hand and steadied her. He tried to push the images out of his head until later when he'd be able to take them out and examine them once more to try and figure out where the hell that had come from.
"How was band camp," he asked, recovering quickly.
She placed a fist on her hip and glared at him. "It wasn't band camp you loser."
"Sure," he smirked. He looked over her shoulder and nodded. "Ain't that your kid brother?"
She smiled softly and waved at the blond boy looking around. He spotted her and grinned before loping over. "I was looking for you guys," he gushed. RJ slapped his back and nearly sent him sprawling but Cole caught him around the waist and set him on his feet. "Thanks," he muttered.
Cole resumed his lounging position on the bleachers and the others quickly joined him. "So Adam, how's your room mate?" He smirked. "Is he like 6'8, 350 lbs and goes by the name Bubba?"
Adam rolled his eyes. "Nah. He's kinda scrawny actually."
"Wait til he finds out who your dad is. He'll bug you for autographs," RJ warned. He took a big swig of his beer.
"Hey, Ally! There you are," a blonde with rather large breasts shouted as she jogged over. Cole grinned at the other guys as they watched her bounce over. "I think you need to try out for cheerleading this year!"
Cole snorted. "Yeah, right."
Ally smacked his thigh before smiling at the other girl. "Sorry, Jenna. I'm doing volleyball this fall."
Cole stood and stretched. "I can't see Ally as a rah-rah."
Ally stood toe to toe to him. "I could do it."
He looked down at her with a mischievous grin. "Not a chance in hell, Al." He turned and gave the other girl's body a long, appreciative gaze. "Now Jenna here, she's another story." Jenna blushed as Ally stomped on Cole's foot. "Ow! Shit woman! That was my foot!"
Ally glared at him angrily. "And that's my cousin you're ogling!"
"It's ok, Ally, really," Jenna said quietly, still blushing.
"No it's not," Ally told her hotly. "He's being a pig."
Cole leaned over and blew softly on her ear. "Jealous are we, Al?"
She fought the shudder that threatened to overtake her body. "No," she exclaimed as she pushed him away.
Cole faced RJ and Jamie. "I know where there's a great party off campus. Do you guys wanna go?"
"Yeah," RJ said as he finished his beer and tossed the can under the bleachers.
"Jamie," Ally hissed. "If you get caught drinking, they'll throw you off the football team."
Jamie rolled his eyes. "Ally, I'm not that stupid." He looked at Cole. "I'm in."
Ally groaned and grabbed Cole's sleeve. "I'm coming, too. Someone needs to babysit you three."
Cole smirked at her. "No way, princess. Stay here with your jock friends."
Fury invaded every molecule in her body. "I am NOT a princess, Cole Collins and if you call me that again, I'll punch you in the eye!"
He tried to smirk at her but his arousal at the anger in her beautiful, blue eyes stopped it. He sighed and ran a hand through his hands. "Fine, Al. You can tag along." He stuck a finger in her face. "But don't nag me about anything, do you hear? I'm a big boy and I'm not entirely stupid."
She nodded and turned to Adam. "Will you be ok without me?"
He bit back an angry retort and nodded instead. He adored his big sister but got so sick of her babying him all the time. "Ally, I'm not two anymore. I'll be fine."
"Yeah, Ally," RJ said, throwing an arm around her shoulders. "He's a big boy now."
She punched him softly in the gut. "You're too much like your dad."
"So I hear," he said with a wink.
They piled into Cole's car, Ally claiming the front seat, and headed out to the party. Cole drove them to a huge house with cars parked everywhere in the vicinity. He finally pulled into the neighbor's yard and shut off the engine. RJ and Jamie jumped out immediately but Cole grabbed Ally's arm before she could open her door.
"Stay close to me, princess," he ordered.
"Don't call me that," she said as she yanked her arm out of his grasp. "And I don't need you to protect me." She opened the door and slammed it shut. She stomped up to the porch but Cole, with his long legs and equally long strides, caught up to her in no time. He grabbed her arm again and whipped her around to face him.
"I mean it, Al," he said, his voice firm but still pleading. "These are college guys and they'll eat you alive."
She studied him a minute and took in the look clouding his eyes. She nodded. "All right, Cole. I'll stay close. But only because I need to keep an eye on you."
He returned her nod and accepted her reasoning knowing all along that she needed an excuse to not be able to look after herself. He placed a hand on the small of her back and directed her to the front door.
The house was thudding with rap music and they both winced. He steered her through the living room that contained a mass of hot bodies grinding to the music and into the kitchen.
"Cole! Dude," a guy who Ally vaguely recognized from school last year yelled out once they reached the kitchen. He threw Cole a can of beer and gazed at Ally with a smile. Ally unconsciously moved closer to Cole and he smiled inwardly.
"Hey, Billy! How's it going," Cole called out over Ally's shoulder.
"Good man," he responded, eyes still on Ally. "Who's this?"
Cole wrapped his arm around Ally's waist. "This is Ally," he said firmly, no room for questions left in his voice.
Billy's eyes narrowed and he let his gaze move to her face. "Nice to meet you," he said politely.
She smiled and extended her hand. "You, too. Is this your house?"
Cole couldn't help but chuckle at her as he listened to Billy tell her about his home. He knew she could, for the most part, hold her own, but he didn't trust the guys he knew would be at the party. And he would always hold up his promise to his father. His dad pulled him aside the day he drove Cole to school his sophomore year and asked him to keep an eye on Ally. Ally was a freshman then at Meridian Valley and also Cole's dad's best friend's daughter, the only daughter born to any of the four guys in the band, and Cole knew that Jake and Iz worried about her. Cole could have told them their fears were unfounded because he had personally taught Ally how to defend herself and had witnessed many disputes in the playground of their old private school. He knew the girl was made of tough stuff, having grown up with a famous father. But still, as Ally had grown more and more beautiful each year, his need to do as his father asked was outshadowed by his need to watch over the best friend he ever had. She was tough, yeah, but she was still a girl.
He finished his beer and accepted another as he pulled Ally out of the kitchen and through the back door to the party going on outside. He was totally aware of the guys looking her over and felt somewhat proud to be escorting her around. Still, he had a harder than usual time reining in his feelings each time he caught a guy checking her out.
Finally, as the night drew on, he decided it was time to head out. She was only a junior so therefore needed to be back at midnight. She was engaged in conversation with some girl he didn't know when he tapped her shoulder. She looked up at him with her big blue eyes and something tugged at his heart.
He cleared his throat. "We need to get going."
She smiled brilliantly at him. "Ok," she agreed. She looked around. "Where are RJ and Jamie?"
He shrugged. "We'll find them. Come on."
She nodded and headed off into the crowd. He followed close behind her and they located the others in no time.
Once Cole was safely in his bed, he recalled the images he'd had earlier of Ally. He felt his body come to life again but fought it off boldly. There was no way in hell he'd allow his body, let alone his heart, to have any sort of reaction or feelings for her.
A/N: I was drinking warm beer, listening to Nickelback and watching (sort of) the Cubs while I wrote this so forgive me if this sucks (LOL)
Here's a character list to help with any confusion:
Cole Collins: 18, senior, son of Nick Collins
Ally Johnson: Nearly 17, junior, daughter of Jake and Isabella Johnson
RJ (Ronnie Junior) Stone: 18, senior, son of Ronnie and Carly Stone
Jamie (James) Wenslow: Nearly 17, junior, son of Matt and Greta Wenslow (cousin to Ally and Adam)
Adam Johnson: 14, freshman, son of Jake and Isabella Johnson
Jenna Ames: 17, junior, daughter of Seth and Caroline Ames (Ally and Adam's cousin)
These are the other siblings that will be in the story later:
Ryan Stone: 16, sophomore and RJ's brother (Ronnie's kid)
Ray Stone: 13, goes to different school and RJ's brother (Ronnie's kid)
Ricky Stone: 10, goes to different school and RJ's brother (Ronnie's kid)
Tyler Wenslow: 13, goes to different school, Jamie's brother (Matt's kid)
Megan Ames: 20, goes to college, Jenna's sister (Seth's kid)
I hope this helps and doesn't confuse you cuz I was sure the hell confused trying to sort it all out.
I have to give my usual warning: If this story starts to suck or drag, I'll take it down. I have a very basic idea of a storyline but I'm sorta winging it right now.