Teresz Brown gazed about the overcrowded apartment and was mildly amused by what she saw. Her roommate, normally the life of every party, was pathetically positioned atop a cooler, staring lividly into the crowd. Teresz wanted to laugh at the sight. The girl looked like a prom queen with her perfectly pinned- up hair and manicured nails – a prom queen who had been ditched on the big night. Then again, she had never seen Jasmine Shanahan ever look like anything less than a queen.

Perhaps that was what really irked her about her roommate – Jasmine was just vain. She always had her hair styled to perfection and makeup that resembled that of a model's. Even for her eight a.m. class two days a week, Jasmine left the dorm looking flawless. Besides her vanity, Teresz could not stand her money. Having grown up in a lower middle class family, she could never understand the life of a millionaire. Before she had even met her roommate, Teresz had decided she didn't like her. When she had found out her roommate assignment, rumors had been running rampant in the tabloids about Jasmine's relationship with a mega-star actor who was five years older than she. Teresz tried to ignore them, but it was hard to know she would be rooming with a stuck-up, spoiled white girl.

They treated each other civilly, Teresz would admit to that. She had never exploded on her roommate, nor had they had a serious fight. The two just got on each other's nerves and they had only been living together for a semester. For instance, there were nights when Jasmine just didn't come home. It bothered her that she didn't even have the decency to tell her she wouldn't be coming home. The girl was an adult; Teresz wouldn't be her mother. But there were times when Jasmine would disappear for an entire day and night. She never knew what to expect with the fiery redhead.

Nevertheless, there were times that they got along, even if it was a strained friendship. They never went out together, but it just so happened that the two of them had ended up at the same party. Teresz knew that Jasmine usually spent time with her brother's friends, all football players, and recently Teresz had begun seeing a sophomore on Verminton's football team, thus explaining how they had ended up at the same party.

She wanted to laugh, yes, but seeing Jasmine sitting there, her elbow propped on her knee and her head in her hands, it made the girl curious. There was never a time when Jasmine wasn't basking in the glory of her fame and good looks. So, against her better judgment, Teresz made her way over to the corner of the room and took a seat atop a side table and propped her feet on the cooler next to Jasmine.

"Not now Teresz, can't you see I'm having a one person pity party?" she said dully, still staring straight ahead. She ignored her melodrama. Teresz cocked her head, trying to get a view of what had captured Jasmine's attention, but saw nothing.

"Yeah I can see it," she said, "Everyone here can see you're trippin'."

Jasmine turned her icy stare to her roommate and blinked twice. "Did you need something?" she asked, taking on the haughty tone that had become all too familiar to Teresz.

"I was just wondering what's got you so uptight," she shrugged.

"Like you care?"

Teresz leaned back, affronted. "I was trying to, but girl if you're going to talk to me like that I've got better things to do."

She didn't make a move to leave, though, and Jasmine took notice. "Well, if you really care, then that is what has me so uptight," she gestured to a couple standing against the wall. The woman was mildly attractive, nothing outstanding about her. The man was way out of the girl's league with his striking good looks. He had his arm against the wall, trapping her there. It was obvious that he was trying to pick her up.

"Who, the girl or the guy?"

"I hate them both," Jasmine said, pouting her lips and glaring as the girl laughed at something the man had said.

"So let 'em be," she replied flippantly. "Go find someone else to stare at."

"There's no one else," Jasmine said despairingly.

"Ahh," Teresz said, the truth finally dawning on her. "So it is the guy."

"I don't want to talk about it," Jasmine said.

"I disagree," Teresz said, finding it very unusual that her roommate would decline on an opportunity to talk. There were many times that she wished the girl would just shut up, but surprisingly, this was not one of those times. "I'm sure you want to tell me all about it." To this, she only received an angry stare.

"There isn't enough time in a day to tell you all about it," Jasmine sighed. Teresz was going to hate herself for this. She knew it would be a mistake to ask her to continue. However, she snuck a glance at Jordan, the guy she was seeing, and saw that he was talking football with his buddies. She supposed she had the time.

"Sure there is," Teresz said, almost begrudgingly. "Why don't you start at the beginning?"
"It was a hell of a beginning," Jasmine conceded.

Three and a Half Years Ago

Pete DeRosa was finally getting the hell out of this place. His thoughts were far away from the hell hole called Landed Lumber, the job his father had hooked him up at when he had only been sixteen. Now he was eighteen and graduating from Southeast High school, the only public school in town. He had written his own ticket out of this place, receiving a full ride to Verminton to play tight end for the Cobras.

A full ride. That meant no more eight hour days of back breaking labor. No more working for just over minimum wage. While the work did keep him in top physical shape, the conditions left much to be desired. For instance, his boss was a friend of his dad's, but a class A jerk. And the heat was unbearable most days.

But none of this was on his mind that summer afternoon. It was Friday and he had a party to go to that night – a graduation party for the prestigious students of Sacred Heart Academy. Sacred Heart was the school for rich kids, the children of celebrities and business moguls. Lucky for him, two of the football players from Sacred Heart had been recruited for Verminton also. One of those recruits was Brandon Calloway, his old neighbor. Brandon had invited him to the graduation party that night at the mansion of Jack Shanahan. But it wasn't the appeal of this millionaire's home that really had his mind wandering. Instead, it was the ladies of Sacred Heart. He had never seen a girl rank anything less than a six at Sacred Heart, and now they were all fair game. Pete threw a large cut of plywood onto the loading truck as he imagined all the willing girls he would meet that night.

"DeRosa!" screamed his boss as he misplaced the plywood in the pile he had already started. "Get your mind out of the gutter! Just because you've put in your two weeks doesn't mean you can slack off."

Pete smiled to himself as he straightened the lumber. That's right, he would be done with this in two weeks. And in just three weeks, he would head to Verminton to start summer training. The school was hardly a half hour away, but to Pete, it was like a whole different world.

----

Jasmine Shanahan sighed as she entered her home late that night and was blown away by the deafening beat emanating from the basement. How her parents put up with Jack's parties was beyond her. However, it was Jack's high school graduation, and he did deserve to go out with a bang. After all, he had been stirring up trouble at Sacred Heart Academy since before he had even entered the school, when he went to the homecoming dance his eighth grade year with a freshman girl. Jasmine rolled her eyes; her half brother didn't just stir up trouble at school. He had a knack for finding the paparazzi, too. In fact, he had made the Shanahan family famous solely for being a rebel. They certainly weren't famous for her father's plastic business, that was for sure.

Jasmine loved him nevertheless. In fact, he was the only male she trusted. Certainly her father was no role model. She loved him, yes, but he had issues beyond her understanding. Jasmine could never accept the way he treated her mother or the angry outbursts to which he was prone. That was the life of a millionaire business man, her mother always said. Jasmine never knew whether she actually believed or just tried to make herself believe that excuse. Jasmine imagined the house would be a bit calmer next year when Jack was gone. If he wasn't around to cause trouble, perhaps her father's angry spells would settle down.

Regardless, Jasmine was ready to go to bed. She was only going to be a junior, but she had gone to the graduation party of one of her friends from the school newspaper, though this party had been much more toned down than Jack's. Normally, Jasmine would head downstairs and say hi to Brandon and Colin and piss her brother off by flirting with his friends. Tonight, she opted just to head upstairs to bed. Climbing the grand staircase to the top floor, she took the west wing hallway to her room and threw her things down. She was grateful now that she had her own bathroom, though she often complained of the extra work involved in keeping it clean. Her mother said the work wouldn't hurt her and refused to allow the maid to clean her rooms.

Stripping off her black cocktail dress, she let it lay in the middle of the room and grabbed her towel, heading towards the bathroom. After a quick shower, she wrapped her towel around her and ran her fingers through her bright red hair. Jasmine loved her hair. She wore it long, past her shoulders, and always found some new style for it. The color drew attention to her bright blue eyes, making them appear to shine. She scrunched the ends a bit to help them curl and dried her face before making her way out of the bathroom.

Only the room wasn't how she left it. There was someone standing in the middle of her floor, looking down on her dress. All thoughts of modesty flew from her mind, replaced by ones of anger. She placed a hand on her hip and stared until he looked up.

"Hellooo," the boy said in a tone that conveyed his surprise.

"What are you doing?" Jasmine demanded as he stepped over her dress and moved closer. He stopped a few feet from her.

"I was looking for a bathroom," he said, swaying a bit as he did. His drunken demeanor annoyed her, but she couldn't help but noticing his appearance.

He. Was. Gorgeous.

Jasmine had seen her fair share of beautiful people, having grown up with many superstars in her life, but his appeal held more than that. There was something natural about him, from the muscles bulging beneath his shirt to his tan skin. Perhaps it was the bright red burn on his neck, proving that he had acquired that bronze from hours spent outdoors, not in a tanning bed. But most of all, he had stunning lips. They weren't the kind of lips you saw everyday on a man; they were plump and puckered, causing her to stare.

When she realized she had been staring, she reminded herself of the situation and pulled the towel closer to her. "You can't be upstairs," she stated, "Everyone knows that."

"I didn't know that," Pete said matter-of-factly. "Though I'm glad I didn't. I do enjoy the view up here."

"You're disgusting," Jasmine scoffed, surprising herself by how she was keeping her cool. Normally, she would have flipped by now. But her demeanor was completely composed, a very rare instance for her.

The guy swayed again and narrowed his gaze at her. "About that bathroom?"

"Downstairs," Jasmine stated, raising her eyebrows, daring him to try to reach the bathroom behind her. He was wise, though, and after pursing his lips in thought, he turned around and left. Jasmine sighed, the whole situation had made her nervous. The guy was undoubtedly one of the hottest males she had ever seen. She had never seen him at the Academy but decided there was something about him that made her curious.

She shook these thoughts from her mind and went to her dresser drawer, pulling out a pair of boy shorts underwear and slipping them on. Next she slipped on a long shirt, an old baseball shirt her brother had brought back from the Los Angeles Dodgers game he had seen after he had befriended the Dodgers' starting pitcher.

Just as she finished towel drying her hair, her door swung open and Jasmine groaned.

"What is it with you?" she said, seeing the boy appear in her doorway.

He shrugged innocently. "I got lost." Then, to top off his blatant disregard for manners, he proceeded to look her up and down, lingering particularly on her legs. As much as Jasmine desired to tug on the end of her shirt and pull it down, she saw this as a challenge. And Jasmine Shanahan never turned down a challenge. She would not let him embarrass her.

"Smooth," she told him, interrupting thoughts she was sure would appall her. "If you made it any more obvious you were checking me out, I might have to slap you."

He looked surprised at her vigor but it amused him. "I'm only returning the favor. If you had stared at my lips any longer earlier, I might've let you kiss me."

Jasmine laughed, an outright insult to his flirtation. "If that's your pick up line, you'd better start working on new material."

"Never needed to," he said.

"Right," Jasmine said unbelievably. "Anyway, it's about time for you to be returning to the party. I wouldn't suggest telling anyone you were up here or you will get your ass beaten."

She stared at him pointedly so he understood that he was serious. Her brother's overprotective friends wouldn't be happy to know that some drunk had snuck up to her room.

The guy chuckled before nodding at her and turning away, hands shoved in his pockets, loudly muttering about "No one's going to beat my ass."

Jasmine rolled her eyes. Her brother needed to start choosing his friends more wisely.

----

At this point, Teresz had to interrupt. "Hold up," she said as Jasmine was recounting the events. "How is that one hell of a beginning? If it'd been me I'd have beat his punk ass for ogling me like that."

Jasmine tensed and she turned to peer at her roommate. "That's not the end of it," she said tersely. "And I was a stupid sophomore. All I cared about was playing it cool." She stopped and thought it over. "Though maybe if I had beat his ass I wouldn't have this problem now."

Teresz just shook her head. "Anyway, that's just strange, and a little perverted too. But continue," she sighed and resigned herself to hearing the rest.

----