"Hello?" I answered my BlackBerry, not bothering to check the caller ID. I'd finally managed to fit on my new black, paisley cover; the one that I was in love with. How could I not be? It was unique, gorgeous and flat-out perfect. Kind of like me.

Of course.

"Hey baby!" Mia squealed into the tiny device. "How's LA?"

"LA is LA, baby." I laughed, mimicking what we liked to call Mia's Blonde Voice. "And I've got a party to get to, so sorry if I jet for no reason."

"If it's a party, you can be excused for anything, honey, you know that!" Mia laughed. "So, tell me about this party."

"Oh, it's nothing interesting." I replied, keeping my phone between my cheek and shoulder as I picked various bits of clothing from my suitcase. "You know how my dad is some sort of big shot, music, band managing type... Thing?" I finished vaguely. I wasn't exactly the doting daughter, devoted to knowing every little thing about my dad. Quite the opposite, actually. Our relationship was more of convenience, especially as of late.

"Uh, yeah, vaguely..." Mia replied, matching my hazy tone.

"Right, well the even bigger shots at his company are throwing a party for him and his circus acts." I sighed. "Whatever keeps the bills paid, I guess."

"You never know..." Mia said mischievously. "There could be a totally hot guy waiting to jump you..."

"Yeah, right!" I laughed. Loudly. "There are going to be two types of guys there. Obnoxious, teenage asshole brats, who are slaves to their hormones and creepy old men who think squeezing someone's ass is a form of modern sex."

"Teenage asshole brats like us, you mean?" Mia teased. "And you never know, one of those ass-grabbing oldies could be your ticket to fame and fortune! All you'd have to do is wait for him to die first!"

"You're seriously in need of help." I replied, smiling. "And of course those brats are like, only we have a certain... je ne se quoi. Now, even though there's no chance of pulling tonight... What to wear?"

"Something short, skinny and low." Was Mia's prompt reply.

"You say that about everything."I chided her.

"Not when it comes to guys and their juniors... In fact, usually it's the exact opposite."

"HAHA!" I laughed into the phone. "Mia! That's dirty!"

"You know it!"

I picked up a relatively short, yellow halter-neck dress of mine with a V-neck plunge. It left enough to the imagination, but thanks to sorting out my luggage on my balcony this morning when I'd gotten in, I had a nice glow that I knew would make me look hot... especially in this dress.

"So, how's everybody doing in Jacksonville? Is Mom okay?"I asked, automatically sobering up into Responsible Mode.

"Of course she is, I've been checking in regularly with Natasha for you. Can I just say that you're little sister is a total social climber? She's turning into one of those cheerleader types. The grade-A bitch ones. It's all Juicy Couture and candy-flavoured lip-gloss." Mia's voice was one of disgust. Why didn't that surprise me?

"Oh, please, cinnamon is just so much better." I teased, hanging the dress up, choosing to ignore Mia's desire to bitch. I tried to ignore that my best friend and little sister were constantly trying to feed the other rat poison. "See? I take rides on the wild side!"

"Well, you never know. If you play your cards right at this party you're going to, that might not be the only thing you'll be riding..." Mia trailed off.

"Dirty little shit!" I laughed, before sighing. "God... It feels so weird to not be in Jacksonville for one summer, you know? We never went on a vacation. You'd love it here, Mia. It's so sunny and bright and... There's just a chill vibe here you don't getanywhere else."

"How would you know? You've never been anywhere else!" Mia pointed out, completely missing the point. "God, Ro, can you please just cut the emo crap and come home? Jacksonville isn't the same without you! What does LA have that Jacksonville doesn't?"

"Pretty much everything." I pointed out. It was true. Florida was overrated. "Let's start with the Walk of Fame. Does Jacksonville have a Walk of Fame? No. No, it does not."

"You've moved state for a piece of sidewalk?" Mia asked me, incredulous. Sometimes, that girl really did have the emotional depth of the shallow end of a kiddies pool. "Jacksonville! Hello! Michael Jackson! Los Angeles is just... Los Angeles!"

"Yeah, and I get what you're saying... It's no Jacksonville, but that's what I want. I hear you; I don't want to make it big or anything dumbass like that, you know I'm not like that. But what I do want is just... Something different. And I'm not getting that at home with Mom. Plus, she's been relying on me too long. This was the thing she needed; something to snap out of it. I felt trapped there, Mia, you know how it is at mine these days." I sat on the edge of my bed, fighting the urge to feel self-pitying. It was hard.

"And you think shacking up with the dad you've never really had is going to make things better?" Mia asked, a slightly dead tone to her voice. Could I blame her? I felt like whacking my head with a mallet, too.

"No," I admitted. "But, it's a start. I need to grow up... I'm eighteen, for crying out loud! And as long as I was living in Jacksonville, or anywhere near Florida, that just wasn't going to happen."

Mia sighed gustily down the phone.

"Okay, baby, if that's what you think, then... Then I'm one hundred percent behind you. So you've decided whether or not this is a permanent thing?"

It wasn't hard to detect Mia's shallow attempt at digging.

"I haven't decided anything yet." I replied quietly. "I just want to see how it goes, okay? And what I really don't need is you waiting to pounce and say I told you so."

"Friends don't say I told you so, baby." Mia told me. "Friends say, "You screwed up. Let's get pissed!""

I laughed.

"Thank you, Mia." I said softly, glad to have such a supportive best friend. Well. For the majority, supportive. "Well... I guess my new start starts off with a bang, right? A big Hollywood party. Now get off the phone, bitch, I've got a party to get to!"

"Haha! Let me know how it goes! Love you, baby!"

I smiled to myself.

"Bye, Mia."


"Remember, Tristan, you're not drinking." Will said warningly.

I just raised an eyebrow at my brother. Really? Really? He was telling me? Really?

"I think its Blake you should be worrying about." I nodded my head towards the retreating figure in the distance. "Drowning away his sorrows. Upsetting God. Committing a deadly sin." Me? Sarcastic? Never. I had to say, despite the crap I'd gotten before we'd risen to obscene amounts of fame and fortune, having such an adoringly... Christian family had his perks. Like when I could use it to poke fun at my depressed older brother, for example.

Will stared at me disapprovingly, but went after Blake anyway. Like he'd do any different. Sucka!

I was in a suit. No surprises there, I spent most of my life in them. The label was throwing a party in success of exploiting young musical talent across the world and just generally being capitalist. Everybody was here; the new kids they'd dragged out from Oklahoma or some other kind of hillbilly state, to the dinosaurs at the top talking about the stock market.

And, of course, their stars and best investments they'd ever made; (alongside a few others) my brothers and I.

"Hey, Tristan."

"Oh, hi, Selene." I muttered absently, letting her kiss my cheek and latch herself onto me.

"I thought you weren't up to it tonight?" Selene asked, in reference to a previous conversation about what the label could do with the cheese-sticks they gave as food at these crappy parties.

"I'm not." I replied. "Publicity though, right? Where one brother dares to go, the other two follow."

"Stop being such a grumpy-puss." Selene grinned at me.

I heavily objected to being called anything that had the word "puss" in it. Like, ever.

"I'm going to get a drink." I muttered, gently pulling my arm away from Selene's. Not to spare my girlfriend's feelings; oh no, far from it. No, if I moved too quickly, Selene would pGerryably snap my arm off. It'd be something out of a creepy Japanese horror movie, ending with Selene running into the camera with crazed eyes and my torso.

"Get me one?" Selene asked, snapping me out of that particular nightmare.

It's not real, Tristan. It's not real.


I weaved my way through the crowd, nodding and plastering a smile on my face as I greeted the people I knew/recognized/had no idea who they were, but they knew me [apparently].

Selene was my PR girlfriend. You know the type. We both had to say vague things at interviews that our fans would latch onto and say matched up. My brothers and I were releasing a new album with the rest of the band soon and Selene's first single had just been released; our "relationship" got us a hell of a lot of attention.

Apparently, though, nobody had bothered to tell Selene that we were faking it.

"Can I just get two Cokes, please?" I asked the bartender. Getting anything stronger here wasn't likely, especially when my brothers and I were plastered all over the walls. Let's not forget that everybody in this room knew each other; and would, no doubt, just love to stop a Malloy from getting something he shouldn't. It'd be the ultimate epitome of smugness. Not that half of the girls in the room didn't want me to screw them senseless, anyway.

"Oh, you look so happy to be here." Alexandria snorted, materializing beside me.

Ah, Alexandria.

"Oh, can't you tell?" I replied, putting a huge, fake grin on my face. Upon seeing Alexandria, any thoughts on the subject matter of sex disappeared. "What's up with you, anyway, bad girl? Shouldn't you be sticking your tongue out at people and stamping on their stilettos with combat boots? Go. Fulfil your destiny. Shoo." Alexandria was one of the label's newest and most successful additions to the family. However, unlike Selene and... the other one, instead of going for the generic, poppy crap the others did, Alexandria had gone for a more mature, rock kind of sound, that was actually a little bit awesome.

Of course, my view on her music had nothing to do with the fact I'd written most of her lyrics for her and had recorded some of her backing vocals, as a goodwill gesture. Alexandria had been our starting act on tour last year.

"Shut up, jackass." Alexandria replied, grinning. "Trace is only about a half hour drive away, I could have seen him..."

"Trace?" My head shot up and I started wildly looking around the room. Oh, no. It was... Her. "Delaney's here?"

Alexandria started laughing so hard, I was surprised she didn't wet herself. I glared at her.


"God, Tristan, paranoid much?" Alexandria cackled. Oh, yes, that was very funny. Because the word "paranoid" is exclusively owned by my brothers and I, and our platinum-selling single of the same name. So funny.

"Oh, yeah. Super smooth." I muttered sarcastically.

"Tristan, of course Delaney's here. She's the "It" girl, remember?" Alexandria said, flipping her ridiculously straight and ridiculously dark black hair over her shoulder.

"Last time I checked, you and Selene were trying to knock her off her pedestal." I smirked, leaning back against the bar. Selene and Alexandria were constantly being accused of trying to reach the top of the label's ranks, something virtually impossible with Delaney still around.

"Someone's been reading Perez, then?" Alexandria smirked. "Whatever, I'm done with all that shit."

"No, you're not." I laughed. "See this room?" I waved at the party scene before us for emphasis. "This room has got more politics in it than the Oval Office."

Alexandria looked at me blankly.

"Whatever. Is Selene here?"

"Of course. Can you not see the bruising forming on my cheek, woman?" I pointed at where Selene had kissed me. "Why, anyway? You guys still got beef?"

"Beef? Who even says that anymore? Jackass." Alexandria snorted.






"That hurts, Tristan, it really does."

"Good, Alexandria, I'm glad." I replied, before turning and picking up my and Selene's Coke's. "See you later."

"Yeah, if neither of us have blown this a-hole by this point."

I stopped and looked at Alexandria disapprovingly, with as straight a face as I could manage.

"Language, Alexandria. Sexual acts are nothing to joke about, especially considering your and Trace's sudden... HIV predicament."

Then I quickly lost myself in the crowd, before Alexandria could throw something at me.

I loved being a jackass.

"Oh, it's just great to see you too, Selene! How is everything with Tristan?"

"Everything is great, Delaney. Just fantastic!"

"That's wonderful!"

Especially a jackass that had two hot girls constantly on the brink of a skinny-dipping mud-wrestle. Only, tonight, that just didn't seem appealing.

Blake says I have these odd moods, because he dropped me on my head as a baby. My reply? If I got dropped on my head and turned out this cool, what the fuck was his excuse for being so retarded all the time?

"Courtesy of Tristan Malloy." I smiled smoothly at some random girl, who I'd happened to be passing and handed her one of the drinks, before flashing a quick smile and disappearing into the opposite direction of Delaney and Selene's voices.

"So, where is Tristan?"

"He's just getting us some drinks."

"Seems like he just doesn't want to be around his girlfriend, to me."

I rolled my eyes as Delaney and Selene's voices slowly died out. Girls.

"Wait, I think I just saw him over there..."

Oops. Time for a more hasty exit, per se.

"Oh, sorry-" I cut off, ducking behind the girl I'd just bumped into and nearly shoving my head up her skirt. Not that most girls would usually complain about that sort of thing.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" She asked me arrogantly, in my opinion. And undeserved. Sure, she was hot, but she wasn't someone I knew; so, obviously, she wasn't important. "Are you looking up my skirt?"

"Keep dreaming." I snorted, standing up and brushing myself down. Yes, I'd nearly stuck my head up her skirt to hide, but it wasn't like I had been looking. Much.

I heard Selene and Delaney's voices disappear. Selene would give me hell later, but I'd deal with it then.

The girl gave me the filthiest look she could muster and turned away to talk to Jason Fisher, who I nodded to in passing.

I bumped into a couple with their tongues down each other's throats. Ew.

"Oh, hey, Tristan." Zac Efron pulled his tongue out from his girlfriend- who I recognized as Vanessa, now [obviously]- 's throat to pull my hand into a fist and do that manly hug thing.


"Not much, man, you?" Zac asked me. I shrugged. I wasn't the world's most scintillating conversationalist. It was more to do with the whole, if you haven't got anything nice to say, don't say anything rule. So, my fanbase thought I was quiet and sensitive, when in actual fact, I was a loud jackass moron. "Oh, Tristan, this is my girlfriend. V, this is Tristan Malloy."

"Hi!" She smiled happily at me. Did I recognize her? No... Yes... Vaguely. She'd been the one with the nudie pictures all over Google Images, right? "It's great to finally meet you... You'd think we would have met before!"

"Yeah... Parties like this." I smiled politely, deciding not to comment on how technically, as she'd been dropped as the new It Actress [Delaney had "It Overall" down to pat], she shouldn't even be at this party. As for Zac, he was a nice enough guy, and was moving on to bigger and better things; also known as B slash C-grade Hollywood movies. I didn't get why he hadn't just stuck to Disney for a little while longer; sure, it was a limited audience, but the mega-bucks and chicks?

Then again, if my girlfriend was sending me pictures of her in her birthday suit for my birthday, I wouldn't really want to break up with her either.

Unfortunately, [or fortunately, depending on your perception] I didn't have that problem.

"Well, if you'll excuse me." I said politely, just to get away from the awkward null in the conversation. I walked over to the bar... Ooh. A crowd was forming.

Shit, was Blake crying again?! I didn't understand my younger-older brother. He was a rock star and no matter how much he thought he'd been in love with Emma, it wasn't like he couldn't pick up someone new. Like a model.

I forced my way to the front of the crowd.

"I said you can't go anywhere!" Rick Hemingway, action star and resident bully, was holding the wrist of a beautiful... Oh, sorry. It was the arrogant bitch from earlier.

"Tough shit." She muttered through gritted teeth, stamping hard on his foot with her stiletto and going to turn away.

Where were all the guys? The crowd seemed mainly to be of the female population. My brothers' dag chivalry, so why hadn't they jumped in and saved the girl?

I scanned the room, looking for the annoying two pieces to my third. I saw Will and Blake on the other side of the bar. What the hell?

But then I took in Blake and Will's stances. Apparently, Blake was drunk. Or crying. Possibly both.

I watched as the girl got swung back around, thumping against Rick's chest in the process.

"Come on, baby, I'm sorry, don't be like that."

"Get off me, jerk!"

"You look really hot... I could have you right now..." Rick said sluggishly, apparently trying to sound sexy.

"Leave her alone, Rick!" A girl I didn't recognize called out from the crowd, but didn't move forward. I took in the girls' various faces. They were scared, angry and worried; but were more worried for themselves, if they stepped in front of the drunken shit.

"Shut up!" Rick yelled- babyishly, in my opinion. "Come on, stop- stop squirming!" Oh, because that was so going to turn her on.

The girl was trying to pull away from Rick's grasp calmly, but I could see the panic through her body posture.

A part of me was tempted to leave her there for being so arrogant. She thought she was hot shit, Rick thought she was hot shit, therefore they would make a beautiful couple.

But, unfortunately, I am the awesome Tristan Malloy. Remember I said my brothers dug chivalry? Well, I dug me.

I sighed quietly and walked through to in front of the crowd.

"Rick, let her go." I said, resigned.

"What? Tristan? Are you saying something? Tristan, it is you! How are you, man? You good? I'm good!"

I raised my eyebrows at Rick's drunken slur and looked at the bar. He'd had... God, he'd had what, two tequilas? Now, I'm not exactly a big drinker, but I'm big enough to be able to say... lightweight!

"Rick, let her go." I said, louder this time.

"Or WHAT, Malloy?!" Rick yelled, holding onto the girl even more and speaking a lot louder than necessary. "Bring it, GOLDEN BOY!"

Okay, really? First, nobody used that expression anymore. Second, I wasn't even blonde. I was a very sexy type of brunette.

"Rick. You're making a spectacle of yourself." I said calmly, stepping forward.

"Shut up and stop being a pooper, Tristan!" Rick started laughing hysterically. "Tristan's a pooper! TRISTAN MALLOY IS A-"

It was at that exact moment that Miss Arrogance decided to punch Rick in the face with her free hand.

"Holy shit, that hurts like hell!" She shrieked, cradling her knuckle as Rick let go of her in shock.

"Bitch!" Rick yelled furiously.

I quickly pulled on Miss Arrogance's arm and pushed her behind me.

"Stay behind me." I muttered. I was sure she said something back, but I was too busy trying to work out how to not fight Rick for her. Seriously, she just wasn't worth it. Are you looking up my skirt? Psh.

"Malloy, you're going to fucking well PAY-"

"What the hell is going on here?!" John, our manager, burst through the crowd and into the small invisible bubble where Miss Arrogance, Rick and I were.

"Hi, John."

"Rick?" John looked at me, confused. "Tristan?" Even more confused. "Ro?!"

"Hi, Dad." Miss Arrogance- apparently known as Ro – smiled grimly.

"You... I can smell alcohol!" John burst, sounding surprised.

"Yeah, because that jackass spiked the punch." Ro glared at Rick. "If you don't believe me, try some yourself."

John hesitated, before doing so. I felt Big Gerry, our enormous (really enormous) bodyguard, materialize beside me.

"Gerry, get someone to take this away... Ro's right, it's spiked." John turned to me. "Tristan, thank you. Do you mind taking Ro outside for me?"

"Sure." I muttered. I wasn't happy with it, but hey, maybe John would be able to do me a favour at some later point.

I took Ro's wrist and led her out of the club, ignoring people's whispers as we walked by. I felt, more than saw, Selene and Delaney gawk at me.

As soon as we got out of the stupid club, Miss Arrogance found her voice again.

"I was doing fine. I didn't need your help." Ro muttered at me, before cradling her knuckles again.

"Oh, it really looked it, with Rick having a firm grip on you and all." I shot back sarcastically. I sighed. "I didn't even know John had a daughter. What's your name? Your proper name, I mean?" Ro couldn't be name; it sounded more like a nickname. Plus, it was too stupid to be a proper name.

Ro laughed.

"Oh, you won't need my name."

"Why's that?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.

"You'd only need my name for future reference." Ro commented. "And, trust me - we won't be seeing each other again."

"You know you're an ungrateful little bitch, right?" I snapped.

Ro raised an eyebrow.

"The Mallory boy knows profanities. What next? He's had a beer?" Ro smiled brightly... and sarcastically.

I ignored how she'd thrown my surname at me like an insult. It was third grade all over again. Was it really my fault that my father had decided to become a brown-nosed, ass-kissing pastor (if God had an ass)?

"You're hot, but you're not that hot." I muttered. Ro just raised her eyebrows at me. I watched as she shivered slightly. "Oh, that's ironic." I commented. The hot girl was cold; like her ice cold heart. I sighed. "Where's your jacket?"

"It's inside."

I sighed theatrically again, took off my suit jacket and dropped it unceremoniously by her feet. Bitch better catch it before it lands in that puddle...

At the last moment possible, she picked it up and stared at me funny.

"Put it on then." I muttered. "God. I'm being nice."

"I'm not asking you to."

"What is your problem?" I asked. "And why aren't you drunk from whatever he put into your drink?" I was irritated. She should be drunk and I should be, unarguably, her knight in shining armour right now. Instead, she was just knocking at my ego and being difficult.

"What's yours?" Ro shot back, before snorting. "Trust me, Mallory, I have a much higher tolerance for alcohol than you or any of your friends inside."

Just then, John came storming out of the club.

"Tristan, thank you for that." He told me sincerely, shaking my head. Giant Gerry came up to me- great, another lecture. I tuned Gerry out and listened to John and his estranged daughter instead.

"It's cool." I replied quietly, to no-one in particular, watching John and Ro.

"Ro, are you okay? Rick... I didn't realize he was such a scumbag..."

"Yeah." Ro muttered awkwardly, watching her high-heeled shoes.

"But... Well, you didn't help the situation with that dress..."

Ro's head shot up.

"Excuse me?"

"I know we haven't spoken much since you arrived, but..."

"But what?" Ro asked, through what sounded like gritted teeth.

"... You really should have let me seen what you were wearing before you left the house..."

"For real?" I heard Ro ask incredulously.

"Ro, you look lovely, but maybe you should have-"

"No..." Ro muttered. "No!" Ro muttered louder this time. "Look. With all due respect; you have never been my dad, okay? And I didn't move in with you for you to become one. I moved in here because you did exactly what you're doing now. And you know what? It's time you heard what I thought about that." Ro paused and I heard her step forward and say lowly; "You have never been my dad before now. So don't think you can start now. Because you can't make up for seventeen years with one sentence of dad-like concern."

Ro then walked past John and over to me; I wasn't even hiding that I had been listening aptly.

"Thanks for the jacket." She told me stiffly, before removing it from her shoulders and passing it to me.

Then she walked away, leaving John, Giant Gerry and most certainly me, shocked behind her.

Fuck what I said before. Suddenly, I loved work parties.