Pete woke up the next morning feeling groggy and sluggish. The party the night before had been like none other. He had never seen so many gorgeous girls in his life. Not to mention, Jack Shanahan turned out to be a lot cooler than he originally deemed him to be. Pete knew he probably shouldn't have drank so much – the end of the night was pretty fuzzy to him. He did recall, however, meeting a feisty redhead. He wasn't quite sure of the words they had exchanged, but he remembered vividly that he had never seen a girl who kept her cool quite like that girl.
Now, it was late Saturday morning and he had woken up in one of the plush guest rooms of the Shanahan mansion. He had been invited to stay because Brandon was staying, along with Jack's other best friend, Colin Richardson. Colin had said that he was inviting over some of Sacred Heart Academy's other football players for a game that afternoon in Jack's huge backyard. Jack had even set up some kind of field for them to play the game.
Pete rolled over and checked his phone to find that it was just past eleven. He was surprised; he never slept in this late on account of his work at the lumber yard. Then again, he usually never drank as much as he had the night before. So, he climbed out of the plush bed and grabbed a pair of shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt from his duffel bag. After doing so, he made his way to the kitchen, eventually finding Colin Richardson sitting at the table, eating from a plate of bagels and fruit.
"Finally up," Colin noted as Pete sat down.
"Yeah, my nights usually aren't so rough," he grinned as the two remembered their antics from the night before.
"It's going to be a hell of a football game when half the players are hungover," Colin said, popping a strawberry into his mouth. "Better step up your game if you want to prove you can play at Verminton."
Pete chuckled. Despite having only met Colin the night before, he knew there was no malice in his words. Colin was a genuine guy, if not a bit arrogant. However, Colin was Verminton's top quarterback recruit, having led Sacred Heart Academy to the state championship that year. Still, Colin was not half as arrogant as himself.
"I could outplay you suckers if I was still hammered," Pete countered and Colin laughed. Outside, a flash caught Pete's eye and he gazed out the transparent, sliding door. Brandon and Jack were already throwing the football in the yard, which was situated just to the left of the family's outdoor pool. It was a huge in-ground pool, surrounded by at least twenty lounge chairs. The water was a clear blue with a few rafts floating here and there.
"You ready to head outside," Colin said as he finished a glass of milk. Pete nodded after grabbing a bagel and scarfing it down.
Colin didn't head straight for the boys, however. Once they left the kitchen, Colin turned to the right, toward the pool. For the first time, Pete caught sight of someone occupying one of the lounge chairs. No, not just someone, it was the redhead he had met from the night before. Pete blinked a few times, hardly able to believe what he saw. The girl lay on her back on the chair, one leg propped up and an arm thrown carelessly above her head. He felt stupid as soon as the thought entered his head, but he imagined for a moment that she was a goddess at rest. Her bright red hair was neatly pinned on top of her head, and a pair of oversized sunglasses adorned her face. Her skin appeared to be somewhat tanner than her natural complexion, but healthy nonetheless.
"Jasmine!" Colin called as they approached her seat. Suddenly, Pete didn't feel quite as confident as he had the night before. He couldn't exactly remember what he had told the girl; for all he knew, he had propositioned her. And he didn't know how he hadn't put it together, but she obviously lived here, probably Jack's sister.
"Yes, Colin?" she answered sweetly, sliding the sunglasses down the bridge of her nose. Her baby blues peered questioningly from behind the shades. But those eyes didn't keep his attention for long. The girl was wearing a revealing black bikini, with stringed bottoms and a top that was connected in the center of her chest by a large silver ring. She had a kicking body, he already knew so from the night before, but now he couldn't help but stare.
"Listen, I know you're trying to sunbathe," he said pointedly, staring down at her, "But we're trying to have a football game."
"I won't be in your way," she replied. She looked to Colin's left and a sudden recognition overcame her as she saw Pete. She smiled, a smug smile, one that Pete imagined ran in the Shanahan family. She said nothing to him, though, and turned her attention back to Colin.
Colin shrugged before taking off his shirt and very inconspicuously flexing his muscles. "I know you won't," he said as she laughed at his display, "But we're playing shirts and skins, and I just can't have you staring."
Jasmine blatantly laughed, disregarding Colin's ego show. "For your own sake, I suggest you play on the shirts team."
At this Colin chuckled and grabbed the shirt he had thrown on her chair. "Fine, but I don't want to catch you staring all game." With that, he turned and made his way toward his friends.
There was a moment's pause as Jasmine watched him walk away. Then, she turned back to his friend and smirked. "I suggest you play with the shirts, too."
Pete was surprised by her address, and she was equally surprised when he nodded his head. "You're right," he decided. "If I took of my shirt, who knows what'll happen? I won't be responsible for your actions."
Jasmine made a face of disbelief. "My actions? What actions? If you mean my bored indifference, then I will certainly not hold you responsible."
"God, you want me," Pete said, shaking his head with a sad smile. "It's okay, I won't tell your brother about your little crush."
Jasmine stood up indignantly, too easily irritated by his goading. "Well then," she stretched, elongating her lean body. Pete was distracted by it, and she took the opportunity to push him backwards. Pete took one step back, and found uneven footing just as he plunged into the cool waters of the pool.
He went under for only a moment, and when he surfaced for air, she was standing above him with her hands on her hips. "You can try your lines with me," she said with a girlish grin on her face, "But you clearly don't know who you are messing with." After a pause she added, "And stay out of my room."
She gave him one last smirk before turning on her heel and heading into the house. Pete got out and shook the water out of his hair just as Jack approached.
"So you met my sister," Jack said with an amused expression. He gave Pete a pointed look and said, "I'd tell you to stay away from her, but clearly she can handle herself."
Teresz stretched and made a dramatic effort to yawn. Jasmine whipped her head in her roommate's direction and leered.
"You don't have to listen, you know?" she sneered, upset that the girl was demeaning her problems. Teresz knew she didn't have to listen, yet her interest had been slightly piqued. She just wished Jasmine could save her all the mundane details.
"I'm listening," she replied, unable to convince Jasmine of her sincerity. Jasmine turned forward once again and crossed her arms over her chest. Teresz couldn't believe she was actually pouting. "It's just that I think I know where this is going," Teresz said matter-of-factly. "You hate him, he pursues you, major sexual tension...you hook up and now you're here."
Jasmine shook her head and a bitter laugh escaped. "If that were the case, I wouldn't be here now," she said
Teresz decided that she must be telling the truth, and now she actually wondered what had caused them to end up in this situation. She stole a glance at the boy called Pete. He had slid his arm around this new girl, and she looked all too willing to let him claim her. Teresz rolled her eyes, recognizing the signs of the soon-to-be one night stand.
"Alright," she gave in. "Continue."
Jasmine saw Pete only a few times in the next month, though she did notice that her brother began to hang out with him more frequently. Usually, she'd run into him in the game room as Jack and his friends huddled around the TV to play videogames. Each time, he would hold an all-knowing smirk, and she couldn't stand it. If anyone should be smirking, it should be her. After all, he was drunk in her room that night, and he hit on her. Still, the boy thought he was something hot with the way his eyes bored into her as if he had some kind of power of her. Jasmine scoffed at that. Sure, she thought he was gorgeous, but he didn't have a spark of a personality to hold her interest.
And it wasn't as if Jasmine was hurting in her prospects. She knew she was gifted in her looks. Her mother always told her she had a body far too mature for her age. Still, Jasmine was holding out for a certain someone, and it just so happened that he had taken an interest in her. Antonino King was a year older than she, and he was entering his senior year literally as the King of Sacred Heart Academy. Now that Colin had graduated, Nino, as he was called, had the students at Sacred Heart Academy under his thumb. Jasmine had always thought he was much cuter than Colin too, with his Italian heritage and perfectly sculpted body.
Nino had dated a girl from a neighboring high school for two years, but the two had split just before summer, and Jasmine had instantly made her move. She didn't throw herself at him as many other girls did, and she knew that gave her the upperhand. However, she subtly made it known that she was interested, and then sat back and waited. When the two ran into each other at a graduation party in early June, they hit it off. Two weeks later, they were recognized as a couple (though he had never formally asked her to be his girlfriend), much to the chagrin of her brother and Colin. For some reason, the two didn't take highly to Nino and they made that very clear to her. She couldn't see why, either. She was too lovestruck to see his faults, dwelling only on his charm and liveliness.
Jasmine had an issue with relationships, though. She had never seen a truly functional or giving relationship in her life, and so she wasn't sure what to expect. She had only dated a few boys before Nino, none of which she had been serious about. Usually, she never became too serious with someone before Colin took on "big brother" role and scared them away. Jack, however, usually respected her space unless he truly thought she was making a mistake.
So, it surprised even Jasmine when she found herself falling for Nino. They had been dating a month and she really enjoyed spending time with him. He was also a great kisser. She loved the fact that he never pushed her in the physical aspects. A few times he had asked her to go farther than making out, but Jasmine had shook her head and he let it go. Jasmine was only 16 years old, and she was under the impression that that was too young to lose her virginity. She had promised herself that she would not give it up while she was out of high school.
Jasmine was with Nino on this particular July night. The two of them had gone to his little brother's baseball game and they were going to grab some dinner before they went to a party that night. Nino took her to a fancy steak joint. She appreciated the gesture, though she sometimes tired of the expensive, classy meals. While they ate, he proudly discussed his little brother's sports achievements. Right then and there, Jasmine decided she had fallen for him. There was so much about him that she admired: he was close with his family, he was extremely athletic, strangely, they both had a taste for peanut butter and cheese sandwiches. The list went on. And he was gorgeous, she never forgot that.
The party that night was for Leah Bennet's eighteenth birthday. She had just graduated with Jack's class, and she had invited Nino to the party. Jasmine hadn't gotten the invite, but she was expected to come with Nino nonetheless. Leah wasn't particularly fond of Jasmine, and the Shanahan girl knew she was jealous. She didn't mean to be presumptuous, but Leah had never liked the fact that Jasmine got to spend so much time around the school's most popular men: Colin, Brandon, Jack, and now Nino. Nevertheless, Leah put on a smiling face when Jasmine walked in with Nino. That's how the rich and famous worked at Sacred Heart Academy; one never revealed their true feelings for fear of being exposed for it.
"Nino," she squealed upon their entrance, giving him a kiss on the cheek. "Jasmine," she acknowledged her presence, but with less fervor. "Is your brother coming tonight?" she asked politely.
"No, he can't make it," Jasmine replied sweetly. "He's gone to see Belle Henderson for the week." At this, Leah faltered and pinched her lips. Belle Henderson was a very good friend of Jack's, a gorgeous tennis pro who was widely known on the celebrity dating scene. Currently, she was single.
"Well then," she resumed her sickeningly sweet tone, "Drinks are in the kitchen, you two have fun."
Nino wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her close as they headed toward the kitchen. "I think she likes you," he whispered to her, and Jasmine couldn't help but giggle.
"Good thing she likes me," she nudged him, "Because she can't stand you."
Nino laughed with her as he grabbed a beer from a cooler in the kitchen. Jasmine stared at him tentatively, and he caught the questioning in her eyes. "No worries," he said, "We'll get a ride home." She smiled and nodded, and he handed a drink to her. Jasmine had never had alcohol before, though the temptation was always there. Usually her brother or his friends were at the same parties to stop her, but tonight, both he and Colin had not shown up. She hadn't seen Brandon either.
She took the drink and opened it, but didn't bring it to her lips. Nino took a long swig of his, then spotted a few friends. "Hey, I'm going to go catch up with the guys," he nodded at some other seniors.
"Sure," Jasmine nodded, looking around. "I'll go find the girls." He gave her a peck on the lips before leaving her side, and Jasmine was left to socialize on her own. She still had the beer in her hands, though she had no desire to drink it.
Jasmine spotted her friends nearby, but just as she was making her way over to them, her path was blocked.
"Tsk Tsk," she heard. Her eyes traveled up, first over a muscled chest, then past a dimpled chin, finally meeting a pair of mocking hazel eyes.
"God," Jasmine groaned, letting her dislike for him be known. "What are you doing here?"
Pete ignored her question and grabbed her beer. "I don't think big brother would approve." He took a sip of the full beer.
"Aw," she replied condescendingly. "Are you taking on the big brother role now?" Pete almost choked on his drink. When he recovered, he took one look at her outfit – black halter top, jean shorts, and heels – and shook his head.
"I definitely don't see you as a sister," he said, the tone of his voice conveying his real thoughts. Jasmine scrunched up her nose in disgust.
"You're a little creepy, you know that?" she asked. To this he only laughed. "Besides," she continued haughtily. "I'm here with my boyfriend."
Pete didn't look surprised. "Antonino King. He's a real winner, I hear."
"Yeah, he is," Jasmine said a bit dreamily. Pete rolled his eyes.
"I'm taking this," he said, lifting up the beer. "And I'll see you around, Kid."
Jasmine watched as he swaggered off. He left her mildly confused, though she knew he certainly didn't think of her as a kid. She was used to older guys hitting on her, though none of her brother's friends had ever dared it. And no one had ever been so blatant about it.
She decided to shrug it off as she searched for a few of the girls she knew, the other privileged juniors who were invited to party with the older crowd. She headed to the backyard, where groups were separated into their respective cliques, and her eyes scanned the crowd. While she didn't see anyone familiar, she certainly heard someone.
Leah Bennet's loud, abrasive laugh caught her attention, and she found that she could hear her conversation from her standpoint against the side of the house.
"I'm just going to give it time," Leah declared giddily. "Nino'll ditch her any day. I overheard him talking to his friends, and he said they're not sleeping together. He said he'll give one more month or else he's splitting."
Jasmine's heart sank to her feet. It was as if someone had just knocked all the wind out of her. Nino had told people he would break up with her because she wouldn't sleep with him? Jasmine felt her face get hot, and tears began to form. And she had just decided that she was falling for him…
She turned around and rushed back into the house, keeping her eyes to the ground. She didn't want to lose him; she was so sure he wasn't like the rest of the guys in her high school. She knew, though, what she'd have to do if she wanted to make him stay.
Thus, an internal battle began in her mind. She knew that it was only natural in this day in age for high school couples to be sleeping together. She also knew that she wouldn't have minded so much if they had been dating longer. Then again, the thought made her nervous. She didn't trust him enough yet, and the relationship could change if she decided to sleep with him.
She was feeling confused and just a little bit vulnerable when someone offered her a shot of vodka. Jasmine looked down at the small glass skeptically.
"C'mon," the guy who had offered her the drink said. "You look like you could use some liquid courage."
Jasmine swished around the clear drink. Liquid courage? She hadn't thought of it that way before. With a shrug, she threw down the drink and felt the liquid burn as it ran down her throat. She sputtered and coughed when she tried to get the whole shot down, and finally wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.
"Wow," the guy said. He had a bottle of vodka in one hand, and he took a swig of it before pouring more into her shot glass. "You took that like a wimp. Try again."
Jasmine held out her hand unsteadily as he filled the glass to the brim, but with a little goading, she downed another shot. This time, she refrained from coughing, but it still burned.
"I need a drink," she said, grabbing a half empty Sprite from the countertop and downing it. By the time she had finished the soda, he had already filled up another shot for her.
"No," Jasmine argued, handing him the glass. He refused to take it, though.
"Yes, yes," he said excitedly. His effeminate giggles told Jasmine he had already had one too many shots himself.
"I don't want it," she declared. He wasn't backing down, though.
An hour later found Jasmine in the bathroom, sprawled out over the toilet seat. Upon downing her fifth shot, she had gagged momentarily, and then rushed off to the bathroom. The line for the bathroom had been so long that she knew she'd have to find another one. She found an empty bathroom connected to the master bedroom, presumably Mr. and Mrs. Bennet's bedroom. Lucky for Leah, her parents had gone out of town the week before her eighteenth birthday, and thus she was able to throw this party.
Jasmine had sunk onto the floor, letting the cool tiles relieve her heated body. With a hand on each side of the toilet seat, she stuck her head in and let the alcohol come back up.
"Liquid courage my ass," she muttered after a long upchuck. She didn't have the energy to stand up, and she was pretty sure she hadn't quite emptied her stomach yet, so she draped her arms across the toilet seat and laid her head on one arm. She knew she would find this all very disgusting in the morning.
"Well, well, well," she heard a voice from behind her. Jasmine barely lifted her head to see Pete DeRosa standing in the doorway.
"God, just my luck," she groaned as she dropped her head in her arms once more. Pete entered the bathroom and shut the door behind him. "Go away," Jasmine demanded weakly, though she could still hear him behind her.
"See, this is why I had to take your drink," he goaded her.
"I don't even drink," Jasmine whined just as a dry heave hit her. Pete made a sound of disgust, but dropped down on a knee beside her.
"What's going on, Kid?" he said, handing her a wad of paper towels so she could wipe her mouth. Jasmine raised herself into an upright position and did her best to glare at him.
"I may have drank too much," she said, trying to stare him down but failing to do so as the world spun before her.
Pete laughed an all-knowing laugh. "I can see that. Where was your fabulous boyfriend while you were doing this?"
"I don't know," Jasmine slurred. "I wouldn't sleep with him."
Pete pulled back, surprised by her confession, and Jasmine immediately clapped a hand over her mouth. "Really?" he asked interestedly.
"Just go away," Jasmine asked, almost desperately when she realized what she had said. She hated being vulnerable, and she couldn't imagine a worse situation for this arrogant jerk to find her in.
"Sorry, Kid, if I leave you, who knows who'll find you here? You weren't exactly quiet with all that retching you did."
Jasmine stared at him lividly. "What are you doing up here anyway?"
"Just came looking for a bathroom."
"What's up with you and looking for bathrooms in all the wrong places?"
Pete grinned. "I always do end up finding something interesting." Jasmine was about to snap back with a witty reply, but she felt the bile rising in her throat. She turned away and barely made it into the toilet as she began to throw up once more. Pete cringed and got up, giving her space to do her thing.
"Don't expect me to hold your hair back or anything," Pete said while she was in the midst of throwing up.
"You're a jerk," she barely managed to say between coughs. When she was finished, she found him next to her once again, this time holding a cool, wet towel.
"So you drank all this because you wouldn't sleep with your boyfriend?" he asked amusedly.
"No," she corrected him without thinking. "I drank all this because I thought it would make it easier to sleep with my boyfriend."
This once again shocked the boy, but she didn't see his reaction. She was too busy burying her face in the wet towel, trying to hide her embarrassment. When she decided she was finally feeling better, she threw the towel aside and gave Pete a scathing look.
"I want to go home."
"You need to go home."
"I came with Nino."
"Yeah," Pete nodded. "I'll take you home. But if you go downstairs looking like that, I might pretend I don't know you."
Jasmine pushed herself to her feet, slapping away his hand as he tried to help. She tripped over her feet as she made her way to the mirror, but caught herself just in time.
She looked like shit.
Her who face was red and splotchy, and her makeup had run from the few tears she spilled while she was getting sick. A little piece of food stuck to a strand of her hair, and she pulled at it disgustedly. Then, she splashed some water on her face and wiped it up before washing her hands.
"I'll help you downstairs," Pete offered, still laughing at her. This only made her angrier.
"I can't be seen with you," she said matter-of-factly. "I'll go downstairs and you wait until I've gotten down there."
Pete rolled his eyes once more. "Fine, I'll tell your boyfriend I'm taking you home."
"No," she declared. "I'm not a coward. I can do it myself."
Pete shrugged, dug in his pocket, and threw her a roll of mints. "You're going to need those then."
Of course Jasmine didn't catch them, so she picked them up and popped one in her mouth while avoiding his gaze. With that, she turned on her heel and slowly staggered out of the room. Pete looked around the bathroom, covered in the girl's puke, and hurried out.
When Jasmine got downstairs, she found Nino standing in the center of the room, chatting with some of his friends and Leah Bennet. Leah could have him for all she cared. But for now, she had to put on a show or she would be the talk of her social circle.
She strode up to him and plastered on the most even face she could muster.
"Nino," she called his attention. He turned around and took one look at her before stepping away and pulling her to the side.
"What's up?" he said staring into her eyes. Jasmine took a deep breath and quelled the urge to gag once more.
"I don't feel so great. I think I'm going to catch a ride home."
"Are you okay? Are you sure you don't want me to go with you?" he asked, though they both knew he couldn't drive in his condition.
"No," she said too abruptly. He looked at her strangely and nodded.
"Okay, I'll call you tomorrow." With that, he leaned in and gave her a kiss on the forehead. Jasmine was only thankful he didn't go for her lips or he might have been rather disgusted.
She walked away from him without turning back. She wasn't going to answer his phone call in the morning.
Pete was waiting outside on the porch. He had her purse in his hands, though she wasn't sure how he had gotten a hold of it.
"You ready?" he asked, offering his hand to help her down the steps of the porch. She didn't take it, and she strode past him on the way down the driveway. "You certainly are the sweetheart," he said phlegmatically.
"Listen," Jasmine turned on him fiercely. She was still feeling angry and hurt towards Nino, and she wanted somebody to take that out on. "Thanks for your help and all, but I don't need it. Not only that, but I know why you are helping me. You're like every other guy – you think I'm hot and you want to get in my pants. Guess what?! It's not happening."
Pete licked his lips indignantly. "Listen up, Kid." Her anger had obviously affected him. "After that little display in the bathroom, I'm not sure any guy would want to get in your pants. Besides, you just told me you wouldn't sleep with your own damn boyfriend. So get off that high horse of yours and accept my damn help."
He pulled at the handle of the passenger door of his red sports car. The door slid upwards, and helped her bend down to get into the seat. "And for the record, I'm helping you because you're my friend's little sister."
With that, he shut the door and went around, entering the driver's seat. He started the car and took off towards their house. Despite her intoxication, Jasmine could sense his heated anger.
"Sorry," she spat out after a couple minutes. She crossed her arms over her chest and made like a little child. Pete raised an eyebrow at this and turned back toward the road.
"You put on a good act in there," he said after a pause. "Nino didn't know what the hell was wrong with you."
"It comes with being a Shanahan," Jasmine replied. "We're natural born actors."
"I can tell. You're different than I thought you were though."
"How is that?" Jasmine asked. "Did you expect a prim and proper pampered princess?"
"No, you're definitely that," he said. "I just expected you to be kind of a floozy."
"What the hell?" Jasmine asked. Did she come off as a tease or a slut?
"I'm disappointed," he replied with a wicked grin, causing Jasmine to scoff at him. She kept her arms crossed over her chest and sulked the rest of the way home.