Summary: After a rather nasty break up, all Rylee wants is to move on, but that's impossible to do when said ex-boyfriend hires the devil of destruction to sabotage any new crushes she could potentially develop. What all three of them never expected, was to see the two falling for each other.

When At First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again—by: Mitchie
Chapter One
(After A Break Up…Don't Be Afraid To Get Physical)

"Would you like a refill?"

The loud voice coming from so nearby managed to pull me from my thoughts, which had been occupying my mind for the past thirty minutes. I lifted my chin from the palm of my hand, turning my head slightly to see a girl perhaps a few years younger than myself, holding up a pitcher of water. Her red hair, pulled back against her neck with a barrette, clashed horribly with her maroon, polo work-shirt, and her bright green eyes settled on mine with an intensity that unnerved me.

I glanced down at my glass, only a quarter full, and shook my head. "Um…no thanks. I'll wait."

"Suit yourself," she said, shrugging and heading toward her next table.

This wasn't a nice restaurant—it wasn't expensive, that is. I wore a nice, lacy red shirt with butterfly sleeves that matched perfectly with my gold jewelry and short black hair, and I paired it with my favorite pair of dark blue skinny jeans and gold flats. It wasn't formal, but it wasn't casual either. Nice enough for just an ordinary place to eat.

Christian never took me to fancy restaurants, despite his copious amounts of money. He liked taking me out to pubs and places like this small café, where many people he knew would be. Let's just say he loved to "show me off" to his friends, and personally…I was getting sick of it.

I played with one of my gold dangle earrings while I waited, checking my phone repetitively. Where was he? He was forty-five minutes late!

I downed the rest of my water and slammed it back down on the table with an angry huff. My waitress was at my side at once to refill my glass. The rattle of ice and the trickle of water calmed me considerably. When she was finished, I expected her to head off to care for her other customers' needs, but she surprised me by placing her free hand on her hip, clearing her throat to say, "Missing your date?"

I raised a brow at her. Was she supposed to be talking to me? "…He's running a little late," I admitted, looking down at my hands in humiliation. What could be more embarrassing than your waitress knowing you were getting stood up?

"How late?"

I stared at her for a long moment before sighing in resignation, muttering, "He's pushing an hour."

Her eyes widened to the size of saucers. "An hour?" She looked around quickly, placed the pitcher carefully on the tabletop, and plopped down in the empty seat across from me. "Does this happen a lot?"

"Sometimes. More recently."

"Wow," she said, "he sounds like an ass."

I narrowed my eyes at her on my boyfriend's behalf, even though I couldn't agree with her more. Whenever he decided to show, he was going to get an ear-full from me. And he better have a hell of a good excuse.

"He probably forgot." Well that was blunt.

"No way," I said, but my voice wavered. "He couldn't. It's our three-month."

"It's your anniversary?" She paused. "And he brought you here?"

I rubbed my temples. "You're right. He's an ass."

I peeked up at her. She was looking at some of the people around her, eyes scanning the tables in search of those needing assistance. "Don't you have tables to tend to?"

She turned back to me with a bemused smile. "No tables; only people, and you seem in desperate need of a shoulder to cry on."

"I don't break easily," I stated, feeling like I was talking to a therapist—or my mother.

She nodded in understanding. Her eyes scrunched together and she tilted her head slightly to the side, studying me as if she were trying to answer an unsolved question. She snapped her fingers in attempt to jog her memory before she blurted, "You're Rylee Adams."

My eyes widened in surprise. "You know me?"

She laughed wildly and fell back in her chair, propping her feet up on the table. I sucked on my lower lip, pushing back the urge to call over her manager. "Everybody knows you. You're the junior that managed to catch Christian Mills' eye. I-Is he the guy you're waiting on?"

My face flushed. "Um…"

The melody to Jack Johnson's Banana Pancakes erupted from my purse, and I snatched at it, causing the girl to jump in surprise. My fingers wrapped around my phone, and I fumbled with it before I finally managed to flip it open. "Hello!" I said, sounding breathless. I stuck my finger in my other ear, attempting to block out some of the background noise. I couldn't hear anything on the other end. "Hello?"

I glanced down at the screen and groaned inwardly, cursing my best friend Gwynn for messing with the sound options. She had texted me, not called, and I read it lazily.

Text message received:
11/3/09 – 9:05 p.m.
PAR-TAY! 1221 e. delwood rd.

I frowned and lowered my phone slowly, feeling everything come crashing down on me. The stupid bastard forgot we had a date!

The waitress snapped her fingers in front of my face. "Breathe. You're face is turning purple."

My eyes snapped to hers and I bit my bottom lip hard, resisting the urge to release my frustrations in a much needed, ear-piercing scream. "He seriously forgot our anniversary; that we had a date! I can't believe this!"

"Did he text you?"

I shook my head. "No, one of my friends did."

"Then how do you know that for sure? Maybe he—"

I held my phone out for her to see. "Read it. I don't care."

She read the message and then pushed my phone back. "So? Does it have some sort of hidden meaning?"

"He never misses a party. It's expected of him to be there, so…he bailed on me to go."

"I really was right," she concluded. "He is an asshole."

I stuffed my phone in my purse and handed her a crumpled five-dollar bill. The water was free, making it a rather large tip, but I didn't have anything smaller, and after listening to my pathetic tirade, she probably deserved it. And of course she didn't mind, pocketing it with a massive grin on her face as I stormed out, practically running over everyone that stepped into my path of escape.

"My name's Sephy, by the way!" she called after me.

If there was a party, why hadn't he told me about it? He centered himself around them. If there was a party coming up, he would never stop talking about it until several days after, when the gossip became old news.

I arrived at the house five minutes later, having clearly broken the speed barrier in order to get there so fast. The music could be heard the moment my car pulled into the neighborhood, and with so many people were there, it was nearly impossible to park; every inch of curb was taken. I didn't plan on staying long, so I found his car (It had its own reserved space) and parked alongside it, blocking more than half of the street. I jumped out and headed for the door, already cringing at the music thundering through my ears.

"Hey Rylee!"

"Rylee, you came!

"Looking hot, Rye!"

I ignored those that called out to me, stuffing my thumbs into the back pockets of my jeans, rolling back and forth on the balls of my feet. I searched the room, but couldn't find the one person I came to see. I did; however, manage to spot one of his friends.

"Gordy!" I called.

Gordon Lowell was laughing boisterously, leaning against the wall that separated the foyer from the living room, a petite blonde attached to his hip, her lips attached to his neck. He was holding a large plastic cup filled with beer no doubt, the contents spilling as he moved.

He turned at hearing his name and smiled brightly at the sight of me, lifting his cup higher in the air in a gesture that said: cheers! "Wywee!"

He was definitely wasted. "Hey."

"I 's not like you t' come t' parries," he slurred. "What'r you doin' ere? Did Chris fin'ly convince you to come?"

"Actually, I'm looking for him," I said. "Have you seen him?"

He frowned at once and pushed the girl away from him, handing her his beer while keeping his eyes fixed on me. He scratched the small stubble on his chin and licked his lips. "Uh, well…"

My eyes darkened. I wasn't stupid. He was thinking up some excuse. "Where is he, Gordy?"

He avoided looking me in the eye, but I caught his eyes flicker briefly toward the stairs. My nostrils flared. "Thanks."

"Rywee, wait—"

He reached out to stop me, placing a hand on my shoulder, but I shoved it off and pushed through people to get away. He was still calling my name, but as I got further away, the music drowned him out.

When I reached the bottom of the stairs, I took a deep calming breath to steady myself. Maybe I was just over-reacting. Maybe he was up there…using the restroom or…reading a book to escape all the noise, or—oh who was I trying to kid? There's only one reason someone goes "upstairs" during a party, and they never go alone.

I climbed the stairs painfully slowly, dreading what I'd discover once I reached the top.

The first door I came to was on the left. I looked down the hallway, spotting at least four more. Shit. Should I really search every one of these rooms to find him, or should I just wait for him to come out? The former would be awkward, but the ladder would just be pushing desperate. Not to mention it would be unruly to wait for him and whomever he was with to…finish. Ew, I shivered as the thought gave me heebie-jeebies. No, I needed to get this over with now.

Inhaling deeply, I threw the first door open.

"Chris—" I began.

"Oh my God!"

"Holy hell!"


I turned away at once, shielding my eyes as a girl scrambled to cover herself, while the guy she was with screamed at me to get out. I didn't need to be told twice. I closed the door and ran a hand over my face, sliding down the door to re-gather my wits. I'll be forever scarred.

Another door down the hall burst open, and a new couple scrambled out, still kissing passionately, even after their "escapade".

I recognized the girl at once. It was Erica Lansing. Her platinum blonde hair and prosthetic boobs could be recognized from across a crowded hallway. She giggled and I pushed back the urge to vomit. I really didn't understand what guys saw in her. She made herself look pretty—she couldn't possibly have started that way—and she certainly wasn't pretty on the inside. Isn't that what counts?

Although I despised her, all my rage and attention went to the person she was currently digging her perfectly manicured nails into.

My bastard of a boyfriend.

I slowly stood up and braced myself on the side of the wall. I couldn't believe it! The rumors had been true, I'd just been too stupid to believe what people were saying; I guess I just needed actual evidence to convince myself.

It took me less than a second to reach his side, and I successfully broke the two "lovebirds" apart by shoving him roughly against the wall. I didn't give him time to recuperate and shoved him repetitively into the dark blue wallpaper, hitting his chest with my fists. He was confused at first, stunned no less, but after hearing Erica shriek in fright, he took action. He grasped my shoulders firmly and held me a safe distance away.

At the sight of me, his arms slacked. "Rylee?"

"I can't believe you'd do this to me, you jerk!" I screamed, kicking him in the shin.

He sucked in a deep breath and hopped on one foot to ease the pain. Then he grabbed my wrists to prevent me from hitting him again, spinning me around and pressing me against the wall. Now he had the upper hand. "Rylee, what are you doing here? You never come to parties…"

Well he didn't sound drunk, so I could check that off the list of famous excuses.

"Yeah, my mistake," I snarled. "Sorry for crashing your party."

He shook his head. "We didn't do anything."

I laughed humorlessly. "That's bullshit! Don't lie to me!" I gave him another hard shove, and shook my finger in front of his face. He didn't even flinch. I turned to look at a flabbergasted Erica, who looked back and forth between the two of us and the stairs, contemplating whether or not she should make a run for it. She was involved now, so she wasn't going anywhere. "How long have you been sleeping with her?"


"How long?!"

He fell silent. My heavy breathing was the only sound that filled the hall. We stared at each other intently, his blue into my green. Finally, he sighed and ran a hand through his spiky, gelled hair. He turned away from me and braced his weight against the wall with an arm, tucking his face into the crook of his elbow.

"A month," he mumbled.

I stepped back and covered my mouth, biting hard on my tongue. A month? A whole month?

"Ever since my parent's divorce," he explained flatly. "I was upset, Rye. I needed relief. The kind you obviously won't give me."

I spun back around. "That's what this is about?"

"Honestly, yes. That's exactly what this—" he pointed between Erica and himself "—is about." He crossed his arms over his chest and tilted his head back with an audible groan. "I'm sorry, Rye. You're a great girlfriend, but how long do you expect me to wait?"

"We've only been dating for three months!"

"How much fucking time do you need?!" he yelled right in my face, but I held my ground. "I'm sorry, but if you don't put out, guys won't hang around. I mean, what are you planning to do, wait until you're married?"

I shook my head at him in resentment. So what if I planned to share the most passionate exchange of affection with someone I knew loved me? Was that a crime? Christian hadn't even told me he loved me yet. Now I knew why…

"I wasn't ready," I grumbled. "I'm still not ready."

Christian threw his hands up in the air. "I'm sorry you had to find out this way, but I'm not going to lie to you anymore. You need to make a decision right now whether or not you still want me, because if you're going to be so selfish, then I'll move along." He leaned in close to me so that our noses brushed. "I've already got a few takers…"

I really wished I had my field hockey stick now so that I could beat him to a bloody pulp. I was being selfish? What planet was he orbiting? Ur-anus? I pulled back my hand and slapped him hard against his cheek, the sound ricocheting off the walls. Christian's face snapped to the side at the force of it, and Erica yelped, clasping a hand over her mouth to stifle her surprise. How stupid was she? It's like she hadn't see it coming…

"We're over," I said lowly.

His eyes darkened murderously. "Excuse me?"

"I said we're done!"

He grabbed my forearm and I tried to yank it away, but his grip was painfully tight. He pressed me further up against the wall, and when the back of my head banged against the hard plaster, I started to panic. "No one breaks up with me," he threatened. He twisted my arm and I cried out. His eyes were burning into mine, and his face was quickly turning red—not just from the tender skin on his cheek—as he grew angry and frustrated. "Got that?" I yelped in fright as he began to shake me, and that was when all reason flew out the window.

Even though I was right handed, I pulled back my left arm and then let it fly. My fist connected with his nose. Christian let go immediately, stepping a safe distance away. His hands cupped his nose and he moaned, eyes shut tight as he bent at the waist to recuperate. Erica was at his side, consoling him, while I stood to the side, just trying to slow my racing heart. My knuckles ached, but that was my least concern. He was going to kill me!

"What the hell, Rylee!" Christian shouted. "Crazy bitch, my nose better not be broken! For your sake!"

Yep. Definitely going to kill me.

He brushed Erica off and glared up at me, revealing his bloody, gruesome mess of a face. I inched toward the stairs, but he stepped over and blocked my exit.

"Don't touch me," I told him breathlessly.

"You've just made a huge mistake, Rye."

"Do we have a problem here?"

Ryan Parker, the guy who lived in this house, stood at the top of the stairs, looking between the three of us grimly. He was a big guy--a linebacker for the football team, and well-liked around school. He was like a big teddy bear, but if their was one thing that could ruffle his stuffing, it was a bully. Especially when I was the victim. His mother and mine had been friends since their youth so, naturally, we treated each other like siblings. He protected me more than my own brother, Colin, ever did.

Two of his friends stood by his sides, waiting in case some sort of fight erupted, and based on their timing, it probably looked like one was about to.

"This doesn't concern you, Parker," Christian spat coldly.

"Anything that happens in my house concerns me, Mills," he replied casually. "I suggest you step away."

Without a second thought I ran over to him and wrapped my arms around his shoulders, like a toddler runs to their mommy. He hugged me in return and I peeked out from his chest to see Christian standing rigidly by the bedroom door, edging closer to Erica—as if she'd offer some form of protection. Yeah right.

"Look, I didn't do anything…" He jabbed a finger in my direction.

"You better not have," Ryan responded, hands fisting. "I'd have to kill you if you did."

"Hey, man, she assaulted me."

I stepped away from Christian and looked down at my shaky hands. I can't believe I ever liked this guy. "You two deserve each other," I told him softly. I tugged roughly on the ring fitted to my right index my finger until it slid off, and then chucked it at Christian's chest. He had given it to me after our two-month anniversary, a week after his parents divorced. At the time, I hadn't realized he'd already started sleeping around. "You can have this back! My congratulations to the new, happy couple."

Ryan put a hand around my shoulders, hugging me close. "Come on, Ri-Ri. I'll give you a ride home."

I let him lead me away without a second glance back.

I didn't even cry.

A/N: Okay, so...Dun, dun-nun-naahhh!!!! It's finally up. This is the "cruise" story I'd been jabbering on about to my HYM readers. Yeah, okay, so it has nothing to do with a cruise, but I was just saying I'd started writing it while ON the cruise, back in December.

I hope you like! And I hope to see my faithful readers checking this one out too!