A/N: OK, so after getting a couple alerts and a few reviews on this story, I read it and realized that it needed major renovations. So, here's chapter one :)
"That's a nice shiner you got there."
Emory jumped and glanced up from her lap. Jasper. Her brother's best friend. Hot senior. She flushed and looked away. "Thanks," she said bitterly.
"Mind if I take a seat?" Jasper asked, motioning to the space on the stone bench next to her.
Her heart pounded gently, rhythmically, speeding up as the blonde came closer. "No, go ahead."
He sat down with a sigh and looked out across the grassy lawn to the street. The sidewalks were lit by street lamps and the streets were nearly empty. It was almost 11 o'clock. Emory could feel his body heat on her bare arms and through the fabric of her emerald green dress. She shivered involuntarily. He noticed. "It's kinda chilly out here. Want my jacket?"
She shook her head, but he was already shrugging out of his tux jacket. Within seconds he had it wrapped securely around her shoulders. "Thanks."
"Sure. So . . . does Ethan know who hit you?"
She didn't answer for a while, surprised at his question. How did he know that she had been hit, and that she hadn't tripped like she'd told her friends? Giving in to the fact that she wouldn't get anywhere by denying that she had been hit, Emory shook her head in answer. Even in the dark light and with layers of foundation caked on her face, Jasper could still see the fading bruise. It made her feel guilty and embarrassed. "N-No."
Jasper sighed, glancing at her briefly. "You need to tell someone who did it. You can talk to the police, get a restraining order. Tell Ethan at the very least, he has the right to know."
Emory shrugged her slim shoulders. " If I told Ethan he would get in more trouble than this is worth. Besides, it doesn't really matter anymore. It's over. He's here . . . with Lucy." Tears stung as they pooled and gathered in her eyes. She forced them away, not wanting to cry in front of Jasper. "He ditched me. He didn't even think I was coming." Her voice cracked a little more at that.
"If you tell me who it is, I'll beat him up for you." Jasper offered quietly, as if it wasn't a big, like he got asked to do that every day.
Emory managed to laugh slightly at the image. "No . . . I just . . . I just want to enjoy tonight, you know? Even though I look horrible and I have no one to dance with."
"I can grab Ethan. We could go bowling, or go see a movie or something." Jasper suggested, his crisp blue eyes meeting her warm brown ones.
"No," Emory said quickly. "I don't want to bug him, or you for that matter. This is your guys' senior prom."
"It's not a big deal to me." he commented, sitting back a little. They sat in silence for a few more minutes and Emory reflected on the night . . . she'd spent the day at Cassie's house watching movies and slowly getting ready for the dance. It had been fun and she had been so excited, but . . . then he had ruined it all. He looked shocked to see her, shocked and angry. Before anything could happen she'd slipped away, tearing her eyes from his, and disappearing into the crowd. She'd gone to the bathroom to cry, but it had been surprisingly full. Upon arriving she decided that she wasn't going to be one of them. She didn't want to cry at a school dance over some guy like every other girl. No. She was going to enjoy herself. But that . . . hadn't really turned out well either. Instead of dancing with Cassie, who was clearly distracted by her own date, she found herself sitting alone outside in the chilly air, waiting for Prince Charming. Five minutes earlier she had been laughing at herself for being so stupid. She wasn't that lucky. There would be no Prince Charming for her. No Knight on a white horse to come to her rescue. Luckily, she'd been wrong.
"Hey. Earth to Emory." She jerked out of her trance to find Jasper waving a hand in front of her face, his green eyes twinkling with laughter. She laughed and then he joined in, the skin near his eyes creasing gently.
"Sorry," she apologized. "What were you saying?"
He grinned. "I asked if you wanted to dance."
"Oh." Emory wasn't sure what to say. Yes was the obvious answer, but what would Ethan think? She should her head lightly, deciding that Ethan would live. This was her night too, and Ethan probably wouldn't even notice. She looked up and met Jasper's eyes, tucking a strand of dark hair behind her ear. "I'd love to." She slid his jacket from her shoulders and stood up, waves of nervousness coursing through her. She hoped it wasn't too apparent.
He grinned again and stood, holing out his hand. Emory hesitated before sliding her fingers into his, excitement bubbling inside her. He squeezed her fingers gently and Emory's stomach flipped happily at the gesture. She hoped this was real. For as long as she could remember, she had wished something like this would happen with Jasper.
Together they went back inside the Event Centerand Emory paused to set his jacket on a chair next to her purse and sent a glance toward him. The pale green shirt he wore made his eyes look more green than their normal blue hue, and he looked incredibly handsome in the getup—black slacks, black vest, black tie, a little green flower tucked into his button hole. He caught her looking and his square face pulled into a grin and he winked at her. Emory turned red and smiled a little before she rejoined him. Together they pressed into the crowd, threading this way and that through the throng of students.
Emory liked the music. It had a steady tempo that was easy to dance to and it was modern and quite popular. It made her grin with excitement. But, suddenly, she realized that she was supposed ot dance with him. And she knew the way he danced—the way most guys danced. She'd done it with others, but she wasn't sure she could-Before she could process her thoughts anymore, Jasper ad grabbed her hand and pulled her a little closer. "Relax," he whispered, leaning down so his lips were close to her ear. Her eyes closed briefly, savoring the moment, the feel of his breath on her cheek, pleasant things she'd always wanted to feel.
"Right." she whispered, nodding firmly.
He laughed a little and slid an arm around her, pulling her close for a moment. Too close to be considered appropriate for two friends. "I've seen you dance before. This is no different." he murmured before stepping away a little.
They danced, like friends, close, but not too close. Not close enough to break any unspoken rules, yet close enough to make Emory's heart pound and fly, her stomach swirl with heat and pleasure. Too quickly the song ended and there was a pause before the DJ started a new song. You and Me by Lifehouse. As much as the song seemed ironic and silly, Emory lived it. She glanced at Jasper quickly, wondering for the first time where his date was, and why he was alone, so she asked.
He shrugged, like he wasn't concerned. "Don't know. I think with Matt."
So he had been ditched too, then. Emory smiled sadly, but quickly shook it off. She grabbed his hand and pulled him closer. "Let's dance."
His hands settled decently on her waist and Emory stood on her tip-toes to reach her hands to his shoulders. He chuckled. "You're so short."
Emory stuck out her tongue childishly. "Don't poke fun, Jasper. It isn't nice."
He laughed again, the movement pulling her closer. Her stomach swirled again, before she could catch herself. "Whatever you say, Em. Whatever you say."
She smiled. "I think we should stop talking now. People look annoyed." It was true. Surrounding couples did look slightly off-put.
He nodded and smiled softly, his green eyes meeting her hazel. He leaned down, his lips falling close to her ear, shivers scrawling up her spine. "What do you say we get out of here when this song is done? We could go back to your's and Ethan's place and watch a movie."
Emory's stomach flipped and she nodded. "Okay, sounds good."
Jasper's hands settled more firmly around her waist, his thumbs tracing light circles on the fabric of her dress, his head tipping down toward hers, sending her heart racing and her mind spinning. She hoped that he would kiss her, but knew that he wouldn't. Most likely, he didn't feel anything like that for her at all. Suddenly, his hands strayed too low and Emory jumped a little, jerking closer to him in shock. His hands moved back up quickly, leaving cold spots in their wake. Emory wished he would ave left them there—it had felt very nice. Warm. "Sorry," he mumbled. "That was—I didn't mean to-"
"It's fine." Emory said softly, smiling a little into the silk of his vest. "I didn't mind."
"Jas, I dated Chad." Emory told him, a wave of unpleasant memories rolling over her. "Much worse has happened." She felt him stiffen a little, but he didn't say anything. "It—It's nice to be touched by someone with honest intentions for once." She blushed as the words came out.
He nodded, but didn't say anything. They continued to sway and move gently in time with the music, for a moment longer, until the last words of the song drew came closer. One of his hands slid up her back, pressing into her spine, pulling her closer for a moment, sending tingles down her limbs. "Do you want to tell Ethan, or should I?"
Emory thought about it for a few seconds, until a loud song started out again and it became too hard to think. "I will. He won't get ticked at me."
"Okay, meet me out front. I've got the truck."
Emory nodded and turned, threading her way to the deepest parts of the mass of people, closest to the speaker's where she knew Ethan would be hanging. She found him, discussing music with the DJ. She tapped him on the shoulder. "Jasper and I are leaving! We're gonna go watch a movie!"
He nodded, distracted by the blonde to his right and the DJ in front of him. "Okay. See you."
Emory laughed a little and pushed back through the crowd, amazed by her luck. She gathered her purse and Jasper's jacket and headed towards the main doors. True to his word, as always, Jasper was waiting in his black chevy pickup, the heat running. She hurried over and climbed in, shivering. "Brr! It's freezing out! Think it will snow?"
Jasper wrinkled his nose. "I hope not. Yuck."
Emory laughed and pulled her seatbelt into place. "You are so weird."
He shrugged. "Is it a crime to hate snow?"
Emory shook her head seriously. "No, but usually guys love snow . . . Dodge ball with snowballs . . . Ethan always brags about how he gets to curl up with a girl because we're always cold."
Jasper nodded thoughtfully. "True. At least the part about the girl." He winked and Emory glanced out her window, flushing. This was also so Jasper, such a flirt at times, but only when he was in a good mood. She'd always known him to be like that, always. He had Ethan had been best friends since Jasper had shoved Emory into a puddle during recess in the third grade. Looking back on it, she had been pestering her older brother and his new, but what else did younger sisters do? And, besides, she'd forgiven Jasper long ago.
They pulled into the Ashley family drive minutes later, and Jasper parked. Emory hopped out, gathering her things from the backseat, and then hurried to the front door. It was unlocked. She slipped inside and took her heels off, holding the door open for Jasper. He jogged from the truck, holding a handful of street clothes; basketball shorts and a t-shirt. "Thanks." he said, shutting the door. "I'll be right up. I'm gonna change."
Emory nodded and started up the stairs. She went to her room and closed the door tightly. She slipped off the gray and silver dress and searched around for a clean pair of sweats. She found some and slipped them on, and then pulled on an old t-shirt of Ethan's. It was huge, but she didn't really care. It always smelled good. Grabbing Jasper's tux jacket, she went down the hall to her parents room and knocked softly. No answer. Both of her parents were sound asleep. She turned and went into the bonus room at the opposite end of the hall. It was an everything room movie-theater-guest- room-storage -and -sewing-room, all in one.
Jasper came in a few seconds after she did and tossed a movie at her feet. Casino Royal. She glanced up at him, taking in the basketball shorts and the tank top he wore, wondering how he couldn't be cold. "Okay. You win. It's my turn to chose next time." She put the movie in the DVD player, tossed the remote to Jasper, and then turned out the lights. She crawled up on the bed and fluffed a pillow, laying the jacket on the other side of the bed. Jasper joined her carrying two blankets from the chest at the foot of the bed, and spread one of them over her. Her stomach flip-flopped as he did so, anxious about being so close to him.
"Thanks," Emory said, pulling the blanket up around her shoulders more, trying to act normal about the whole situation, but finding it incredibly hard to do so.
Emory tried her best to focus on the movie, but all she could think about was how close he was and how good he smelled, like old spice and fabric softener . . .If she just moved her arm an inch she would be touching him, the lengths of their arms pressed together–but she didn't have to. Without saying anything, Jasper's hand found hers and squeezed gently. Her stomach flipped and her heart pounded. His thumb traced slow, tickling circles on the back of her hand. Emory thought she would die.
Eventually the late night took its toll and Emory fell asleep, the movie still playing, her hand, still intertwined with Jasper's. When she woke she was entangled in his jacket. She smiled and stretched happily. She got up and wandered to her room, taking the jacket with her. She pressed it to her nose and smiled. He smelled good. He always had. Glancing around the room she spotted something on her desk. A bright green sticky note. She traveled over to it and found a note scrawled in Jasper's messing handwriting.
I had a wonderful time. I'm sorry about
having to leave so early.
I wish I could have stayed, but Ethan
came home. Text me. I'll be waiting.
Emory sank into her desk chair, spinning and spinning and spinning, a wild grin on her face.