If there was a manual of how to play your cards right…I'd say I nailed it page by page, word for word. So why am I the only one left of my friends that's not married? I'm equally attractive, not too picky, successful job, graduated college and I haven't gotten pregnant. Nor have I had any pregnancy scares. So what is up with these statistics?

Luckily, my younger brother had me to keep him in check. He was the only male left, aside from our father, that I didn't pity and knew had a chance of turning out semi-decent. I felt honored when he'd call me about girl advice. Sadly I believe he was dating more than I was.

As much as I hate to admit it, not all of us in our late twenties can live glamorous sexual lives like those from Sex and the City, but we can still escape for an hour or two indulging the TV fantasy. Because that's just what it was…a fantasy.

This weekend till the next however, I planned on heading back to my parent's house. Slack a little and tease my brother; he's a senior after all. There is bound to be interesting gossip and events that can amuse me but for a little while. I only hoped to not run into an old classmate that was on her second pregnancy; if I did I just might flip out.

I left Friday morning and before I knew it I was home sweet home. There was nothing like the scent of these old wooden stairs to trigger memories of my youth. For some odd reason I craved to walk down the halls of my old high school, the one my brother currently had the pleasure of attending. Oh the parties, cheerleading and track. At least those days were filled with fun drama and less responsibilities.

I don't visit as often as I should, I know shame on me, but I was always welcomed back in to my old room. My mother still left it exactly the same for the past 10 years. After unpacking, realizing it was only two in the afternoon, I decided to go for a drive and maybe surprise my little bro.

Greeted by the same yellow and tangerine walls, as they say "I took a stroll down memory lane", but I didn't recognize a face. Though some staring and inquisitive students thought I was either a lost new girl or substitute teacher. I was flattered by both; apparently lacking in the toddler department kept me looking young, as opposed to my mommy girlfriends.

Every place I found a student standing at, I was there. And the girl getting sweet talked by the cute athlete, been there; the one laughing at the prankster getting dissed, done that. It was the same TV show just different actors. And if I had to classify my brother, I'd say he was the shy sweetheart, who at this point might make me a bridesmaid before I have the chance to become a bride. Now it was time to investigate who was his potential leading lady.

"Micah!"

I heard a voice shout, drained by the hall noise. I turned around to see his dorky face. He gave me a big hug, happy to see me and show me off to his buddies. Thankfully I didn't look like a granny sister dressed in Martha Stewart apparel. I considered myself to be rather trendy since I had no one else to spoil.

After briefly chatting with his friends, I continued my mini tour around school while I waited for him to eventually get his things and then meet me outside. I ended up sitting on the bench by the tree that had heard my many thoughts and stories way back when.

"Now why's a pretty girl like you sitting on this bench all by herself for?"

I turned to see where the voice had come from, for it obviously wasn't the tree. And to my delightful surprise, a very charming blue eyed boy had come to entertain me. With a Colgate smile, he seemed confident he could win me over, but I knew all these tricks.

"How do you know I'm not waiting for someone?"

"I don't know that…but now I do."

"Shouldn't you be in class?" I grinned.

"We're already out waiting for our nanny's to pick us up now." He smirked.

Even the varsity jackets looked the same. What was with these jocks that walked around flaunting their jackets as if it were an instant résumé of their important status?

"So you're on the football team." I bluntly assumed.

"That I am. Glad you noticed."

He placed his foot on the bench, very suave, to do the classic leaning on the knee stance. I didn't know what he was up to, but I hoped my brother would come around soon before I was tempted to flirt back.

"Ahh this isn't working." I heard him mumble as he put his foot back down.

I was flattered that he was trying to flirt with me, but somehow he didn't strike me as your ordinary young letterman, at least the ones I remembered back in my day. I wondered how far those good looks got him with his classmates that he felt like he needed to try them on me.

"Hey Jesse, how's it going?"

"Oh hey man, just trying to talk to this pretty girl, but I'm afraid I'm getting shut down."

"Dude, that's my older sister!" My brother laughed. "Later man!"

I could tell the poor guy was pretty embarrassed. I waved good bye as I walked off with Josh. His face a little pink as he laughed to himself and shook his head.

"So my friends thought you were pretty rad, happy to finally meet you. And they even said that I should take you along with me tonight."

"What's going down tonight?" I was little curious.

"Yet another awesome Senior Party, dat's what's up!"

"Josh you're such a dork."

I loved my brother; aside from our age difference we were pretty close. I didn't know how I'd feel about going to one of his parties though. What kind of loser would I be trying to hang out with his friends? It's supposed to be the other way around!

I drove up back to the house and continued to listen to his minor daily dilemmas.

"Josh, high school is a piece of cake compared to the real world. Enjoy these so called 'problems' of yours while they last."

"Ok Mom." He mocked.

"Just out of curiosity, who was that guy that was trying to hit on me back there?"

"Who… Jesse? He's cool; I've talked with him a couple of times."

"Is he a player?"

"Him? Nah, he's a pretty nice guy. Why are you asking me this… you gonna date my friends now?" Little punk had the nerve to tease me.

Come night time, I was already dreading the selection of old movies that my night would entail. I suddenly heard the roaring laughter of my brother's crew as they approached the door. Once I let them in, it turned in to a choir of disappointed teens.

"You were supposed to come with us!" said one of the guys.

"Seriously sis, I won't tell anyone one your age... I promise. You look like one of us anyways."

Josh kept trying to convince me. And when it came down to it, I'll take a kiddie party over watching Sixteen Candles for the sixteenth time any night. Obeying my younger brother's orders I hurried upstairs to change into a denim miniskirt and beige sequin tank and was ready in less than 5 minutes. That kind of speed takes practice let me tell you. I tried not to dwell too much on the fact that if my friend's found out about this I would never hear the end of it. I'd stay single for the rest of my life.

Upon arriving at the party, I'd forgotten just how wild these were. Were mine this extreme? The girl's clothes were so thin and skimpy even I had trouble keeping eye contact. It was ridiculous, if you were going to dress provocatively then at least do it with some class! Along with the loads of makeup and fake hair pieces; it was no wonder I looked younger than most girls here.

I was scared for Josh. The only girl I liked thus far was Kaleena, one of the girls I had met earlier. I did some exploring of my own, finding the beverages and snacks, observing some more fashion do's and don'ts. I couldn't help feel like that sneaky reporter from Never Been Kissed, minus the teacher and the geek factor.

I watched from afar as Josh began to bust out his moves; my guess is that he was striving to impress Kaleena with his mean shuffles and break dancing steps. I was jealous of his moves, I didn't get the whole shuffle craze, but it looked amazing. I walked towards the back and was blown away by the size of the pool in their yard; spoiled kids.

Making my way to an empty chair in a not so obvious area on the patio, I sat back to watch the reality show displayed before me, sipping on whatever poorly spiked punch this was. After a while, as suspected, my goofy brother made his cannon ball entrance towards the pool; causing a riot of laughter. Way to go brother, you get a 10!

"Do you usually like to sit by yourself or are you waiting on someone else now?"

That voice was awfully familiar and when I saw the face to match it, I couldn't deny him a quick smile.

"I just like being out of the way I guess." I replied.

"So you're Josh's sister…I want to apologize for earlier today, I didn't mean for you to feel uncomfortable."

"Who said I was uncomfortable?" I smiled.

Don't judge me for harmless flirting. It was only friendly conversation.

"So are you in college?" He asked.

"I'm afraid not. I'm a career woman now."

I almost expected him to ditch me, but then I remembered young guys like this risky stuff. He pointed towards the patio chair beside me and I gave no reason for him not to take it. He seemed a bit nervous, like this was an entire new game plan he hadn't played yet, while I kind of liked it. I sat facing him, fiddling with my long hair as it fell by my waist.

"I must admit I was hopeful that I'd find you here." He confessed.

"And why is that?"

"Because I wanted another shot at talking with you, seeing as how my first try wasn't as good."

No matter how I tried to play hard to get, he had me smiling the whole time.

"Shouldn't you be getting back to the party? I'm sure your girlfriend is looking for you."

I was caught off guard by his laugh; I scowled at him. What was so funny?

"What?"

"Nothing…I liked your clever way of asking if I had a girlfriend."

"If I wanted to know, I would have asked you straight out. Why would I need to beat around the bush?"

"Uh… you got me there. Still there's no girlfriend."

As much as I wanted to give off the impression that I wasn't interested; that little conniving voice inside me insisted on playing along. I hate that voice sometimes, she gets me into trouble.

"So do you still live here?" He continued intrusively.

"No, I'm just visiting."

"Do you mind me asking for how long?"

"Till the next weekend…What's with all the questions?"

"I'm sorry, am I bothering you. I am aren't I?"

He wasn't necessarily annoying me, I just wasn't prepared to be this involved in the party's activities; this included getting hit on by one of the seniors. I was expecting to stay on the sidelines more or less. Though seeing as how that wasn't happening, my little voice kept cheering me on for some more excitement.

"No, you're not…But I'm only talking with you because I heard you were a nice guy."

"You were asking about me?" Insert sly smirk here.

"I asked one question." Liar, I actually asked two.

"Really? That's a good sign for me then."

He had an attractive coolness and confidence about him I'll give you that; which was perfect, as long as it didn't cross the line of becoming too self-absorbed. I would have definitely gone out with him if he were a few years older. But just how important is age anyways? I've known couples that are 10 and 15 years apart. Why does it always feel weird when the woman is older?

"So what are the chances of me walking away with your number tonight?"

"I'd say…not likely."

"Is it because I'm younger?"

"That and it's kind of weird, you're in the same class as my brother."

He sighed in frustration, but didn't look like he was about to give up.

"How about this, if I can change your mind and you end up having a good time with me tonight…then you give me your number."

The boy threw me an enticing offer. Yet I didn't want to simply accept it, have him look all hot stuff that he snagged his friend's older sister. What to do…keep playing my way.

"I'll think about it." I answered as I stood up to head back to the house.

I was guilty of doing the classic "look back and smile, let him know you're still interested" move. I'm only human, a girl attracted to a cute guy, no matter the decade between us. Gosh that sounds ancient. At least he was staring back with a crafty smile.

I found my brother back inside with his clothes still damp from his diving stunt. Kaleena pulled me to the dance floor with her. We chatted while dancing and I was already thinking she'd be the perfect sister-in-law. My brother's group had us surrounded, keeping the creeps away. However, one non-creepy guy slid through and began to dance by me, waiting for me to turn to face him. I was hesitant, wanting him to suffer a little. Then he gently grabbed my hand and pulled me over.

They played a fun hip-hop song, and I was digging the way Jesse was moving. Normally white guys couldn't pull it off. He had me laughing no matter how hard I bit my tongue. We danced a couple of songs but I deprived him from any touching. I was intrigued that he stuck around; determined to leave with my number.

"So have I earned it yet?"

"Sorry."

"Then you lied."

"I didn't agree to anything."

"So you're not enjoying yourself? See cause you were laughing the whole time, so that led me do believe…"

"Nice try. I don't date younger guys…much less give them my number."

The rest of the weekend consisted of a relaxing day at the beach, cuddling with a steamy romance novel, sushi and catching up with my folks. At one point or another I was reminded of what a jerk I was to Jesse, but my reasons for coming here were to retreat and clear my head. Not get into a fling for the week.

Monday promised to be a lonely day, as I stood home by myself and was almost done with my reading. Around noon time I raved the fridge, not in the mood to go through too much trouble for a meal; settling for some left overs. I heard my phone ring but it was an unidentified number, I wondered who it could possibly be.

"Hello?"

"Ah hi. Before you accuse me of stalking you, I just wanted you to know that I got your number from Josh; only because I wanted to give you the opportunity to apologize."

My eyes widened, as I immediately knew who it was. I hoped he couldn't sense me smiling on the other line but I was kind of happy that he called. I knew if he was really that interested he would've found a way.

"Apologize for what exactly?"

"For leading me on and then hanging me out to dry..."

"When you put it that way, you make it sound so harsh."

"Well, I took it harshly. But I'm a forgiving person because I'm a nice guy. So I forgive you, there."

"Well thank you. So is that the only reason why you called?"

"Not exactly, since you've been so nice when all I've tried to do was be friendly and polite…I feel that you owe me."

"Owe you?" I hoped he wouldn't ruin it with some perverted request.

Mind you, our tones throughout this conversation were light, sarcastic and flirtatious.

"Yes, I'm thinking you owe me…dinner."

I laughed, I couldn't hold it in. This guy goes straight to the point. Where was all this motivation and persistence coming from? Perhaps because I hadn't said no or told him to leave me alone; the fact that a younger guy was trying to step it up and continue to pursue me was really turning me on.

"I'm sorry I don't babysit either."

"Ouch. You're killing me here. I'm running out of ideas. What do I have to do to get you to go out with me?"

"Just give it up. And stop harassing me." I warned him.

"Then why are you smiling. I can hear it when you talk."

"Oh so we can hear smiles now? That's a little weird. Or are you watching me too…stalker."

"Call me what you want. I call it being ambitious. My father always taught me once I set my sights on something, with a lot of hard work, I can get."

"Listen, you're a great guy, but I don't deserve to take away some girls chance of being with you. And I'm sure there are plenty in your school."

"I don't think it's possible to choose who and who not to be attracted to. If it were that simple than it wouldn't be as thrilling and risky now would it?"

He made a good point. Jesse seemed different, mature with a good head on his shoulders. Either that or someone was whispering to him what things to say.

"I gotta go… bye Jesse."

I forced myself to hang up before caving in; all the drama was coming back to me now.

Later that afternoon, Joshua came home with some of his friends, including Kaleena. I was nestled in den looking through my old yearbooks.

"Hey sis, is it alright that I'm having some more people over for a study group?"

"Why are you asking me that silly, you live here more than I do!"

"Well I didn't know if you wanted like the whole 'peace and quiet' thing?

"It's not like I'm 50 years old or anything." I chuckled.

I continued my rendezvous with my books in the back yard, sitting in my favorite bench swing. Soon hearing a couple of slamming car doors, assuming it was the rest of the group. I was glad to be undisturbed, outside and…bored.

Fortunately I was interrupted as I usually am. Seeing the screen door open and out stepped Jesse. I nodded in disapproval, pressing my lips together to keep from grinning. He looked like he had something to get off his chest. He stood a few feet from me, hands shoved in his pockets, still cool and oh so fine.

"I don't see why you are making such a big deal out of the whole age thing. I know you want to go out with me."

"I'm not hung on the whole age thing. It's just weird because you're graduating with my brother." I explained.

"So, let's say if we were in a club and you saw me, not knowing how old I was or if I knew your brother or not, you would've gone out with me?"

"That's a tricky question." I grinned finally.

"No tricks, a simple yes or no."

"Okay, just tell me this… do you have some bet going on with some of your guy friends or something?"

"No, I'm not a jerk."

"I'm just not about playing games right now."

"Really, you're the one who's been playing hard to get all this time. All I'm asking for is dinner."

"That's it?" I raised a brow.

"Yes. Is that so hard to believe? I'm not trying to get you to sleep with me, despite what you're thinking... You know it's not supposed to be this complicated…I promise you won't feel like your babysitting…So?"

"I didn't intend for it to be complicated, you just don't know when to back off."

"Not when I'm convinced that you're interested and your reasons for saying no are just plain stupid."

I smiled and picked up my things to leave; walking past him I felt his hand grab my arm and pull me so that his face was barely an inch from mine. He looked me straight in the eyes.

"I'm going to keep asking till you say yes."

Who gave him the right to be so dashing? To make my heart pound harder after such a bold and sexy move like that.

"Tomorrow night." I said softly.

And just like that his face changed. His joyful expression looked so adorable. I was having so much fun playing hard to get, what am I going to do now?

"Took you long enough!" He sighed of relief.

"I was having a little fun," I smirked.

"I'm glad…at my expense. But by all means continue."

"I like you Jesse. You fight for what you want, you're not a quitter. Never change that, especially when it comes to women."

"Or when it comes to you?"

"Now you're getting it!"

1/3