"If you got bad news,

you wanna kick them blues,


When your day is done

and you wanna run,


She don't lie,

she don't lie,

she don't lie,


--Eric Clapton, "Cocaine"

Album: Slowhand

chapter one

(the secrets we hide)


I woke up in my best friend's bedroom. I hadn't opened my eyes yet, but I automatically knew I was in his room. I could say that it was because I knew the scent of him and the room smelled like Jake. Or I could even say that it was because I could feel the still form of his body next to mine, in his small twin bed. But the real answer was, I couldn't forget last night. I hadn't forgotten any of the nights I'd shared with him.

I finally opened my eyes, taking in the gigantic Beatles poster that hung above the bed, the plain white walls, and the navy blue sheets that surrounded me. My eyes finally settled on the tan, unconscious dyed-black haired guy beside me. He was beautiful. I'd never tell him that though. He'd feel uncomfortable, and probably laugh it off.

Sitting up carefully, I watched Jake sleep beside me. Him and I had been best friends since we had met each other, which was when I was born. His mom and my mom were also best friends, so it was pretty much a given that him and I would end up the same way. He was one year older than me, although both of us would agree that I was the more mature of the two of us.

Totally nude, I cautiously moved around him as I got out of his bed.

Jake and I didn't like to talk about moments like these. The times when we both somehow were down on our luck, or felt totally crushed by someone we thought we could trust. It was understood between us that when Jake and I had sex, we didn't mention it. We barely even liked to acknowledge that it even had happened. It was just the only way both of us could prove to ourselves that someone did care enough about us.

Who am I kidding? Jake and I were complicated. I loved him. I knew it and Jake probably somewhere deep inside knew it too. But Jake wasn't the committal type, and I knew that.

I pulled on my jeans and looked around for where my shirt had gone. Last night had happened pretty fast. Jake had broken up with his on again - off again girlfriend, Gina. He had called me, upset. He didn't say it out loud, but it was clearly being said in his voice. He needed me. Both mentally and physically. Hearing the way he sounded made me want to help him, because I loved him. The only way I could help him was make him forget, if even for a night.

That sounds crazy, right? But like I said before, Jake and I are complicated. We have a relationship that can't really be defined. Jake had once said that we were, "Best friends with benefits."

In that sort of way, we just sounded like horny teenagers well on our way to getting the latest STD. But Jake was careful, and Jake was my only. I trusted him.

Finally deciding my search for my original shirt was a failure, I went through Jake's drawers and pulled out his Eric Clapton t shirt. It was my favorite of all his shirts, and it wasn't the first time that I had worn it. Pulling it over my head, I grabbed my bag and turned around to stare at Jake one last time.

Who knew when the next time Jake and I did this again? This time had been three months. That's how long Gina and him had gotten back together before this unfortunate break-up.

Unable to resist, I fished through my bag and pulled out my red lipstick that I was too afraid to use but still kept in my bag just in case I felt the urge to do wear it. Lifting off the cap, I put it on my lips and then kissed Jake's forehead.

We'll see how his mom reacts to that.

"I love you, Jake," I whispered with a smile and headed over to his bedroom window to get out of his house before Mr and Mrs. Thompson saw me and jumped to conclusions. (Even though they would most likely be correct)

Once I'd landed safely down the tree that was near Jake's window, I immediately made my way to my house next door. Yes, not only am I Jake's best friend, but I am also his neighbor. We have lived next door to each other since I was three.

Smiling to myself when I thought of last night, I started to climb up the vine fence my dad had placed against the side of our house. It had been almost perfectly placed under my window. He had no idea what a great sneaking out set-up he'd made.

Once I had reached the frame of my window, I pulled it open easily. I pushed myself through and landed on the carpet floor of my bedroom. I stood up, closed the window, and looked around me, as if there was going to be some sort of evidence that would hint to my dad where I'd been at.

Almost as if on cue, my dad knocked on my bedroom door and opened it.

"Dad!" I whined, accusation set in my voice. I was being immature and I knew it. But I was trying to distract him from finding out I hadn't been sleeping in my room last night.

"What? I thought you'd be in bed," he replied with a frown on his face. He hated when I got mad at him for coming into my room. "I was just coming in to wake my favorite daughter up."

"I'm your only daughter," I answered, walking away from the window in hopes of not sparking any suspicion.

"What are you doing up, anyway?" My dad complained.

"Couldn't sleep last night," I lied.

"Oh," he said, and a glazed look came over his eyes. Crap. I'd reminded him of Mom. I hadn't been able to sleep well since she had left. I just couldn't stop my mind from racing when I laid down in my bed to go to sleep. All I could think about was, where was she?

"I'm okay now though," I told him, hoping he wouldn't worry about me the rest of the day. My dad and I were close. We talked about almost everything. Everything except my mom, the unknown sex I was occasionally having with Jake, and my dad's fiancé, Erin.

"I made breakfast," my dad replied, making an effort to not keep a damper on the conversation.

"Great." I smiled back.

Once we had gone downstairs and into the kitchen to eat, we both had completely forgotten about the awkwardness up in my room. Or at least, we pretended to forget. Dad and I were probably both still thinking about it in the back of our minds.

"So what's the plan for today?" My dad asked.

"Same as usual," I replied smartly. "Craig's picking Jake and I up. We might go to school after that. Maybe start some riots."

"As long as the police doesn't get involved," my dad answered from behind the paper he was reading.

"Don't worry, Dawn's mom likes me," I said and took a bite of the pancakes he had made. Besides Jake, Dawn was my other best friend. She also happened to be the sheriff's daughter.

"That's because I put up with her daughter," my dad joked.

He didn't mean it, but what he said did have some truth to it. Dawn was quite the delinquent. She had already pulled the school fire alarm twice, graffitied the words 'The Bitch is Back' on the side of the school when Mrs. Brown returned from her two year retirement, and copied the janitor's set of keys to open lockers. The best part about all of this? Dawn hadn't been caught for any of her rather dangerous acts. She had certainly fallen under suspicion with the principal and the faculty at school, but she covered her tracks well. They couldn't prove anything.

I laughed and heard the distant horn of Craig's '88 Saturn.

As I got up, my dad waved from behind the newspaper. With that, I ran outside with my bag in tow and opened the door to get in to the back of Craig's ride. I wasn't surprised that Jake hadn't gotten up yet. He was a pretty deep sleeper. He wasn't exactly a morning person either.

"And how was your morning, Sage?" Craig asked from the driver's seat in the front, turning to look at me briefly.

"Beautiful, as always." I gave them a dramatic smile.

"It won't be soon," Megan, Craig's girlfriend, said from the passenger seat. "We still have to pick up her."

Normally, I would have no idea who the 'her' she was referring to was. But this was a special case. Megan was talking about Gina. Jake had pretty much forced all of us to give her a ride to school too, although we all knew that Gina had a ride of her own. It caused all of us to be jammed into one small puny old car that barely went over 60 miles per hour.

I smiled, unable to hide my slight happiness that Gina wouldn't be joining us. "Not today."

Craig turned around again. "Are you serious?"

Megan smiled at me in the rearview mirror. We both hadn't really been big fans of Gina. She wasn't too bad really. It's just she hadn't had much in common with us. She had always been surgically attached at the hip with Jake. She had even shown up to our Glory Days practices.

Glory Days was our band. Jake was the guitarist and lead singer, Craig was the drummer, Dawn was the bass player, and I was the lead guitarist and back up vocals. Megan had been dating Craig since freshman year, so we pretty much considered her part of the band. She had been to almost all our practices and shows.

"Yeah," I said, frowning.

Jake was probably not going to be in a good mood now. He really did like Gina. I couldn't understand what he saw in her, but obviously there was something about her that kept him going with this on and off dating.

"Jake's pretty bummed they broke up. So let's not talk about it."

"Jake is awful with communication and his feelings," Megan noted from the front seat. "The only time he ever wants to talk about them is in his songs."

Megan's words pretty much explained how much Jake liked to talk about his relationships. He was sensitive, but the only way you could tell was through his songs. He had a gift with words and music. Anyone could see and hear that if they came to one of our shows.

Just as there were ten minutes left for us to get to school on time, Jake came running out across the green lawn that separated our houses. He accidently dropped his bag, causing papers to be scattered in the grass. He leaned down to pick them up, and the three of us in the car laughed.

Jake got into the car finally. There was a smudge of red on his forehead. I laughed and covered my mouth to try to stop myself. He smiled at me when he saw I was wearing his t shirt. "And how are you today?"

My mind automatically wandered off to last night again.

"I don't know why I did it." Jake's voice is unsteady, and I know he's truly emotional right now. "I broke up with Gina."

"It's okay," I reply. "You probably just realized that you needed a break."

"I'm not right for her."

Jake's blue eyes meet my own brown ones. I wonder for a second if he's thinking what I want him to be thinking. I want him to say, "You're right for me."

But this is not a movie. This classic tale of a girl falling in love with her best friend wasn't going to end well. Jake didn't love me. He just needed me for comfort. And if that's what he wanted, I could be that for him.

"If you want, I could talk to Gina for- " I start.

But Jake's lips press roughly against mine, and I forget what I was going to say. We both roll around for a while on the floor of his bedroom. I kiss him at the curve of his neck and shoulder, the place I know drives him wild. He moans below me, and flips me over so that he's on top.

His hands slip under my shirt, making their way beneath my bra. I feel the sensation of his touch against my chest and I kiss him again, letting his tongue enter my mouth and meet my own tongue. We continue for a while to just kiss and grope, until the urge to go further finally breaks one of us.

Jake is the first one this time, and he peels my shirt off of me. It flies across the room, somewhere near his closet, but I'm only paying attention to how good this feels. How much his kisses, caresses, and gropes make me feel like I'm a happy drunk.

I retaliate this action and take his shirt off of him, allowing his bare chest to be in front of me. I love the feel of his skin against my own, and briefly hug him to me. My face travels up to his shoulder and I kiss the side of his neck again.

Jake's hands find the hooks of my bra and with little effort, it comes undone. He pulls it off of me in a frenzy and his hands run through my hair. My breasts are bare and I'm not embarrassed. Jake and I have seen each other naked before, the first few times had been awkward and unknowing. Now it was just natural.

He looks down at me, as if he realizes where this is leading to. His eyes reflect lust and surprise. He always has this look on his face, as if he is shocked that I'm doing this with him. That he is doing this with me. I look up back at him, taking him in just as much as he is taking me.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" He asks me. This is the only thing he ever says when we do this. I don't know why he even asks anymore. I've always said yes to him.

When he sees me nod, he picks me up off the floor and carries me to his bed. He pulls my pants completely off while I keep my hands around his neck and push my tongue into his mouth. His hands brush against my breasts and he watches my face as he touches me. I look him in the eyes before kissing him again.

He leans over and opens his night stand drawer to get a condom out. He clumsily pulls his pants off. Then he slips it on quickly and turns back to me. He kisses me once more.

When he pushes himself inside me, I feel pain. But more than anything else I feel pleasure. His warm hands hold my waist while I let him inside. Once we're finished, Jake looks at me one last time. He looks at me and I almost think he loves me. Almost.

We lie together. Jake wraps one of his arms around me, and I press myself against his chest. One of my arms is draped over his side, making it look like we're hugging. We both are able to sleep this way.

"What?" I asked, coming back to reality. My cheeks are slightly flaming from the memory. Why did Jake have to feel so good? Why did it feel like last night had happened a long time ago already?

"What are you thinking about, Rock Star?" Jake asked me. He's called me Rock Star ever since I hit myself in the face with my guitar when I was 12. I'd been trying to swing it around like they do on tv, but all I got out of it was a bloody nose after I hit myself in the face. He'd laughed about it so much the name stuck. "I just asked you how you are today."

"Good," I replied. I licked my finger and wiped off the red smudge on Jake's forehead. I saw Megan look at me in the rearview mirror suspiciously as we continued driving to school. Sometimes I think she knew about Jake and I. She certainly picked up on everything.

"What the heck-?" Jake started but smiled when he looked at his reflection through the window. "Thanks."

"We're having a jam session tonight, right?" Craig asked. "I've been working on a drum solo after the bridge of The Never Girl."

"Jam session?" Megan scoffed from beside him.

"What? You don't like it?" Craig pouted.

"Nobody uses the term 'jam session' anymore, babe," Megan replied with a lovey dovey smile on her face. She leaned over and kissed his cheek. These two went together so well. I couldn't imagine them ever breaking up.

"You can't distract the driver, Meg," Jake yelled from beside me, but he was smiling.

As much as everyone hated to admit it, we liked seeing Megan and Craig together. They were like the ideal couple that everyone wanted to be. Everyone wished they could have that sort of a relationship. It gave people hope.

"Relax, dude," Craig replied as he pulled into the school parking lot and found an open parking space. "We're here now."

"What does that mean, anyways?" Jake questioned as we all got out of the car. " 'We're here now' ? I mean, aren't we always here?"

"Sure," I replied. "But maybe everyone has a different definition of what 'here' is."

"What?" Jake said dully, obviously not understanding me.

"Don't bother trying to explain to him, Sage," Megan said as she and Craig passed us by with Craig's arm around her shoulders. The two walked ahead of us.

"I hope you don't mind," I said to Jake, pulling on the t shirt of his that I was wearing.

Jake smiled. "I know it's your favorite shirt. You could keep it if you wanted."

"No," I replied. "It looks better on you anyways. Eric Clapton has always been your idol."

"Yeah," Jake said, and pulled my head to his chest so he could mess up my hair. "But you're my best friend. And isn't that what friends do?"

"Sure," I said, looking down at the ground. This is what we did. We acted like nothing happened. It kept our friendship going.

Jake's face fell slightly, like he had thought of something disappointing. I wondered for a moment if he remembered that just yesterday Gina and him had broken up. I hated seeing that depressed look on his face.

"Did you take your Bupropion?" I asked, my voice turning serious.

Jake looked up at me. He knew what I was subtly asking about. Was he okay? He smiled at me and nodded. "I take it just like I'm supposed to. Gosh Sage, you're like my mom."

I shrugged. "You just make me worry about you, that's all."

Jake's smile widened. "I know, Rock Star."

I heard the bell ring and Jake and I looked at each other. We nodded at each other and both acknowledged the challenge. A second later we were racing each other to the entrance doors of the school and laughing.

When I got to my 1st hour English class, I sat next to Dawn immediately. Dawn's a pretty girl, her hair is naturally a dark red color that makes people think that she dyed it. She has green eyes that everyone tells her must be contacts because they are so unreal. She grinned at me before speaking. "You're late. Let me guess...Jake?"

We both laughed.

"You guys have too much fun without me," she observed.

I shook my head. "I think that it's impossible to have any real fun without you."

"I guess you're right. I mean, who else would've been able to get us in to perform at The Machine?" Dawn asked.

The Machine was an eighteen and over club. They allowed bands with members who were over twenty-one to play there. Dawn sure had a way with words. She couldn't take "no" for an answer. I don't think she knew the true definition of the word. For her, it meant, "Bother me more until I finally say yes."

"Okay, okay. I get it already. You made our band locally known. You got Glory Days our first real gig," I replied. "I bow down to your greatness."

"Damn right, you do," Dawn said and smiled. "I mean, you have no idea what I had to go through in order to get us on the list."

"I can't believe they thought you were twenty-one," I answered with a laugh.

"What can I say? That bouncer was cute and I just so happen to be cute too," she replied.


Craig and I had a study hall first hour of the day together. It was a class that no body took seriously, and one that we'd signed up for the sole purpose of writing music. The teachers would be proud. We were actually doing something productive.

Unfortunately, today Craig didn't seem to be in the music spirit. Instead, he was in his girly gossip mode. I personally think he's like this because of Megan. But I could be wrong and he was just born this way and feels comfortable acting this way now that he has a girlfriend.

"Just tell me, dude," Craig said for the tenth time. "Why the hell would you break up with Gina?"

"I thought you didn't like her," I replied. He had told me every day since I began dating her. For some reason, he hated Gina's guts. To be totally honest, I thought all my friends do. Gina's not a bitch or anything, she's just very uptight.

Gina was hot. She had everything I wanted, the body, the personality, and the attitude. Well, okay, maybe her personality was a little bit bland. But I figured I could crack through that shell after a while. There were times when I thought maybe I loved her.

She was the classic rich girl, while I was just your average middle class boy. We met through Sage, actually. Gina had accidently hit Sage with a lacrosse stick, causing her nose to bleed. Sage has always had a problem with nose bleeds. It was barely a big deal for her by then. Gina had freaked out so much, she had asked the teacher if she could take her to the office.

Our school doesn't have an infirmary, we're too cheap for such luxuries. If anyone gets sick or injured, we go to the office and usually the office people believe us. We can phone home to let our parents know and leave.

I was Sage's ride that day. Sage's dad has been working overtime ever since her mom left, so he couldn't stop by to pick her up. I decided I would take her home and then come back to school.

Imagine my surprise when I see this sexy blue-eyed blonde girl holding Sage's head back. It was almost like I forgot about Sage for a moment. I mean, Gina was hot. She stopped guys on the streets, and knew it. She acts confident, and I like that about her. But inside, I think she has always been insecure.

"I don't like her," Craig said to me, reminding me that I had broken up with the only girl who cared enough about me to ride with my three dumb ass friends every day. Well, okay, let's be honest. One dumb ass friend and two girls who didn't talk to her. "I just think that you should have a good reason besides your friends for breaking up with someone."

"Fuck," I said out loud, grabbing my short hair and pulling it. "What the hell was I thinking?"

"Don't know," Craig replied.


"Yup, let it all out, dude."

I hit my fist against the desk I was sitting in. "Fuck. Fuck. Fuck."

"It probably was for the best anyways," Craig said, leaning in his seat and acting macho.

"How do you know that?" I asked him.

"You guys didn't really come off as the meant to be type anyways," Craig answered. "That girl was shady, man."


"Yeah, dude. Means suspicious," Craig informed me with a smirk.

I laughed. "You're lucky Megan isn't here to listen to you make stupid remarks."

Craig rolled his eyes. "You make it sound like I'm whipped."

"You are whipped, man," I responded. "But it's the good sort of whipped. It shows that you love each other. I mean, Megan shows up to every one of our practices. That's love right there."

"I know," Craig said, and had that look on his face. That look on his face was the reason why I'd broken up with Gina. I didn't make a funny face when someone mentioned her. I just thought, Oh, that's my girlfriend.

"Sage says you guys are going to get married and have 2.5 kids and ditch the band," I said.

"No way, man," Craig smiled. "I could see myself marrying Megan, but I don't want half of a kid."

We both laughed.

"So what's up with Sage knowing about the break-up before me?" Craig asked, pretending to be offended.

"She came over last night," I said quietly, thinking about how beautiful Sage had looked last night. I could never get over how beautiful her body was. Any time Sage and I had an encounter like last night, I couldn't help but stare down at her in awe. When had she gotten so pretty? She was supposed to be my partner in crime. Not sex.

I already knew I was going to hate whoever Sage was going to date. Sage deserved someone who would be really good to her. I was like her older brother, although I guess that would be kind of messed up because we occasionally have sex with each other.

"Sage is so nice to you, man," Craig told me. " You don't deserve to have a friend like her. I bet she'd jump off a bridge for you. Better yet, I bet she'd have sex for you."

I looked up at that, shocked that he had made such a statement. Did he know?

Sage was too nice to me. She was always keeping tabs on whatever was going on in my life. She made sure that no matter what, I came out okay in any situation. Sage knew about my problems and my history, and she didn't judge me for them. She saw me as I was.

From the corner of my eye, I seen a tall guy behind us lean closer. I didn't know who he was, and didn't really care if he was listening in on our conversation. I looked closer at him. He had on a backwards cap and I could see he was wearing baggy pants. Wannabe gansta. His hazel eyes smashed into my own, and I looked at Craig again.

"Sage and I aren't like that," I said.

Well, we were in a way. But we weren't like, in love or anything. I loved Sage and I loved spending time with her, but we wouldn't be good together. But the sex Sage and I had together...it was amazing. Maybe it was the fact that we knew we could trust each other, that we didn't expect either one of us to be anything but ourselves and of course, there was the fact that she was so beautiful.

"I don't know, man," Craig said. "I think you'd be surprised by how girls who are your best friend can become your girlfriend."

"What, like you and Megan?" I asked, slightly curious.

"Megan's my best friend who I get to have sex with," Craig replied. "What else can I say?"

I thought about Sage again. She was my best friend, and we did have sex occasionally. I couldn't see myself going on dates with her, and going to all the fancy places Gina and I went to together.

"You make it sound like your friends with benefits."

"No," Craig said, and he had the most serious facial expression I had ever witnessed him have in all of the seven years I've known him. "The difference is that Megan and I don't just have sex, we make love."

"That's pretty gay, dude," I replied, laughing. I joked and made fun of him although I knew what he meant. When Sage and I slept together, we weren't just doing something physical. It was like we had some kind of emotional connection. It was like we both had this ability to take away any pain that the other was feeling.

But it wasn't love. I didn't think every second about kissing Sage or having sex with her. I just cared about her. We had an understanding about what it meant for me.

"You just wait, man," Craig said. "You'll get a girl you love one day, and then you'll be saying the same things."

"Says the guy who's only dated one girl his whole life." I joked some more, but couldn't help feeling a sort of emptiness.


It was the end of school, and I was tired. I went through my locker, trying to remember what classes I had homework in.

As I pushed some binders into my book bag, a hand pounded the locker next to mine. The loud noise caused me to look up.

A tall guy with light brown hair and hazel eyes smiled back at me. He wore a cap on his head backwards, an oversized shirt, and baggy jean pants. I had never seen him before. This was an odd occurrence, because I knew almost everyone at my school. I lived in a small town, where there was barely even 50 students total in a class year.

I went back to trying to put my homework in my bag.

"Sage, right?" He asked.

Damn. I hated it when people knew my name when I didn't know theirs. It made me feel like a bitch. I always tried to find their name out while avoiding asking them for it.

"Yeah," I replied, wondering what he could possibly want. "What's up?"

"I saw something weird this morning," he said, his arm raising up behind his head, causing his cap to be pushed up a bit.

"Really?" Why did I care? I didn't know him, and from what I knew, he didn't know me.

"Imagine my surprise when I saw you coming out of Jake Thompson's bedroom window."

I dropped the binder I had been about to put in my book bag. "W-What did you say?"

"So it's true, it was you, right?"

I couldn't believe this guy. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"You don't, do you?" His voice evidently showed his disbelief. He pulled a camcorder out of his shoulder bag. "Maybe this will stimulate your memory?"

I looked down at the screen of the camcorder. A video was playing. A girl appeared on the screen, and then the camera zoomed out. It was definitely me. I was wearing the same exact outfit in the video. I watched as I climbed down the tree near Jake's room. I plopped to the ground, and smiled.

I pushed the guy into the locker next to mine. "Give me that camcorder."

"Feisty, aren't we?"

I glared at him. "I can be a bitch."

"Do you really want something like this floating around? Didn't Jake break up with Gina...oh, just yesterday?" He smiled.

"What the hell do you want?" I asked, looking around to see if anyone noticed our conflict.

The halls were empty. I'd spent a little extra time in my Algebra II class because I had some questions about some of the new formulas. Why couldn't I have waited until tomorrow?

"Nothing much," he replied. "I'll tell you when I need you."

"Are you kidding me?" I shouted.

He smiled. "No, I don't think I am. Just trust me."

"Just tell me what you want," I said again, trying to keep the desperation out of my voice.

"I told you," he replied, putting away the camcorder. "I'll let you know. When you hear from me, you'll hear from me."

A/N: Thanks for reading the first chapter! It's long, I know. If you dislike it, I'll cut up the next chapter into two different ones. One disclaimer: The cocaine lyrics belong to J.J. Cale and Eric Clapton.