Chapter 1

My head was .Frickin'. Killing. Me. That was the first thing I noticed when I woke up. Second was that I was not in my apartment, nor was I in my bed. I didn't have white satin sheets. My bedroom wasn't a dark red color. It Also wasn't huge, and I didn't have a TV. So obviously, it wasn't my room.

But I knew who's it was

The room belonged to Jordan West, the man I had hated since we were sixteen and he had literally ruined my high school life. 10 years later, I don't remember what exactly he did, none of our group of seven does. All I remember is that at the tie, I was pissed, and I promised I would never forgive him. He spent weeks trying to get me to forgive him, but when I didn't, he decided to hate me too. And it was like that ever since.

Until I woke up in his bed. As soon as I realized where I was, I had as bad feeling I knew what happened. I was just praying I was wrong. Silently, I peered under the sheet. Crap, I was naked. Therefore, I was right. Carefully, I turned myself over, making sure I kept the sheet over my chest. I slapped Jordan's sleeping form.

"Wake up, asshole!" I snapped.

"What the hell?" Jordan started sleepily, rolling over. "Lisa? Why are you in my bed?" he asked slopwly

"That's what I'm trying to figure out! What the hell happened last night?"

"Look, all I remember clearly is that we had the drinking contest. Other than that it's just: hot chick, cab ride with her, and I think I banged her. And now you're here. In my bed. Which makes no sense to me." All of this was said sluggishly, and his eyes kept closing.

"I'm pretty sure we slept together last night!"

"Oh." His eyes widened. "Well alright." His eyelids fell closed again.

"No!" I shouted "Not alright! What the hell are we gonna do?"

"Ok, calm down." he sighed, rubbing his forehead. "God it's early. We slept together. It happens. we were drunk, it was a mistake. It doesn't mean anything. so we're just gonna forget it ever happened. Ok?" Again, his eyes closed.

"Ok. It never happened." I said, sliding out of bed and pulling the sheet with me. After wrapping the sheet around myself, I went in search of my clothes, strewn over the entire apartment.

Before I left, I made sure to duck my head back in Jordan's bedroom. "never happened?"

"Never happened." Came the muffled response. upon closer inspection I saw the dark head of hair standing out from against the white pillowcase, and I knew his face was buried in it, and he was almost asleep again. Typical Jordan.

I spent most of my day at home. After I had taken a very hot shower, I began to clean my apartment. It didn't take long to clean my small kitchen and one bathroom. My bedroom and living room I always kept nice, since my apartment was the main place our group spent time. Besides, my bedroom was essentially the size of a closet with a queen sized bed. The walls were still white, just like they were when I moved in.

There were times, usually when I had an entire day to clean, that I wondered why our little gang hung out at my apartment. My living room was small. Just a couch, loveseat and two chairs, all matching black leather. The couch and loveseat were pushed side by side against one pale gray wall. The chairs sat across from one another, a few feet in front of each end of the elongated couch. The rest of the walls were lined with balck bookshelves, and all but two cases contained books. One, across from my seating arrangement, contained my TV and cable box, the other case containe my wine and liquor collection.

It was always then when I realized why my apartment was chosen:the alcohol.

I smiled and glanced at the clock hung on the wall behind my TV. 2:36. More than an hour before any of the gang would show up. That meant I could pay my monthly viit to my sorage unit. I went there once a month to clear out anything I had brought down the previous month, but had completelky forgotten about.

I quickly redid my short red ponytail and took the sitars to the lobby two at tome. "Hey Lou!" I said brightly to the elderly doorman.

"Hello, Miss Koss. Storage unit?" he was already searching for the key.

"Storage unit" I answered, laughing. as I waited for Lou to find my key, I bounced back and forth from sneakered foot to sneakered foot, readjusting my bright pink tank top impatiently.

"Ahh, here we are." He said finally, holding out the key.

"Thanks Lou!" I smiled happily and went off, jogging to my unit. Clicking on the light, I noticed the fine layer of dust over everything. My laugh filled the tiny space as I spotted the giant fake plant Ash had insisted on giving me.

His real name was Luke Ashbury, but ever since the first day I met him, he swore he would hurt anyone who called him Luke. When I brought up the point that he couldn't hit a girl, he said he'd stop talking to me for a week if I called him Luke. To this day I still used it when I got tired of him.

Next to the plant, I spotted a brown box labeled "high school'. I smiled. It had been years since I had actually gone through that box. I settled down cross legged on the concrete floor, my back leaning against the brick wall. I pulled the box in front of me and carefully unsealed the tape. The first thing that greeted me was my freshman yearbook. I flipped through the old pictures until I glimpsed my face. My grin widened when I realized what the picture was from.

It was from the day I met Ash and Jordan.

I was new to the school, and had no idea where to sit at lunch. It seemed like every table that had even one other girl was completely full. So I ended up with a choice: Sit alone, or with two guys. I didn't want to sit with them, but they were better than nothing.

Whatever conversation they had been having died as I sat down. Two pairs of dark eyes simply stared at me. "Hi." I said, my voice barely a whisper.

"Hey." The dark haired one began, a bored expression on his tanned face. "What do you want?"

"I-I was just looking for a place to sit." I stuttered nervously.

"Yeah? Well you can forget-"

"Jordan." The blonde cut him off. "She's new." he glanced at me. "Right?"

"Uh, yeah. How'd you know?"

"You sat with us. See, most people avoid us. Well, mostly Jordan." he nodded toward the brunette. "Cautiously, he placed a hand on my shoulder, and I flinched. "But don't worry., we're pretty much harmless. Jordan's just mad because Karin turned him down. Again."

"Shut up!" Jordan, who had been silently staring at…the other guy up until that point, shouted. "Just shut up…Luke!"

At this, the blonde stood up so fast his chair clattered backward. I was surprised to find he was quite tall, probably around six foot. "I told you never to call me that!" he shouted, drawing more attention to the tiny square table.

"Sorry about that. Luke!" Jordan laughed, and it earned him a punch on the shoulder. The tall guy sighed angrily and plopped himself back in the chair.

He turned to me "My name's not Luke. " He said the last word with disgust. "Well, it is, but anyone who calls me that gets hit. Everybody calls me Ash."

"Usually." Jordan interrupted. "Except for when he pisses me off. Then he's 'Jack-ash', or 'Ash-hole'. Get it? Because 'Ash' sounds like 'ass', and 'Ash ' is his nickname, so I'm insulting him doubly-"

"Yeah, I got it." I giggled while Ash glared.

"You know," he said, standing up, much slower this time. "I'm just gonna go if you're gonna say things like that. I'm just so sick of the crap you throw my way!"

"Well you go on and go!" Jordan shouted as Ash started to stomp away. "I'm sick of-"

"Hey, you three!" A high pitched voice interrupted him. "How would you like to be in the in the yearbook?"She held up a large lack camera.

"Uhh, we're kind of in the middle of something." Ash said, stepping back to the little gathering.

"We'll give you a full page."

"Well alright!" He quickly sat back down, in the process pushing his chair so it touched the left of mine.

"Perfect! We've been looking for a little group of best friends, but none of them have been right. Two guys, one girl. Perfect." she repeated excitedly.

"Actually, we just met, I don't know if we should do a picture-" I started.

"Listen, how about instead of lying we all hang out today after school with some of our other friends? One of em's a girl." Jordan offered, pulling his chair to my right.

"Your friends? There are more people like you? I asked doubtfully as he sat down.

"Not like Jordan." Ash said, throwing his arm around my shoulders while Jordan's snaked around my waist. Apparently I was going to be in this picture whether I liked it or not.

"Oh. Well then say cheese!" I laughed, the first real smile crossing my face just as the camera flashed.

I laughed again, remembering. I didn't know it at the time the picture was taken, but Jordan was glaring at Ash, and Ash had a smirk on his face, making the whole thing funnier.

That was a crazy day, though. I had met all the members of our little group, except for two, but that was only because they didn't join until two years later

The guys were nice enough (or creepy enough, I'm still not sure) to walk home with me so I could drop my stuff of and tell my dad I was hanging out with some new friends.

Then they led me to Jordan's house, where I met Katie Cassidy, a short girl with long blonde hair, and Daniel 'Dan' Carson, a at all guy with jet black hair pulled back in a short ponytail and a scowl on his face.

"Hey guys." Ash said, throwing his backpack in the corner and loosening his green and red checkered tie. "This is…umm…a girl who's name I totally know, of course, but I'd just rather call her…awesome?" He looked at me pleadingly.

"I'm Lisa." I said with a small wave.

"I knew it was something feminine!" Ash said while removing his white uniform shirt, revealing a gray tank top.

"Ash could I speak to you privately for a moment?" Dan said, calmly, though he looked angry.

"Uh, sure, I guess.." Ash allowed as Dan pulled hi, just outside the bedroom. Although I assumed this was so we couldn't hear the conversation, I know I could, loud and clear.

"Ash, you moron, you can't just pull random girls into the group. What if she's a killer? or a rapist?"

"Well then I guess I'll be brave and take that hit, you know, for the greater good.

I heard a smack.

"Ash, you can't just do that! Especially with a girl.

Remember what we said when you me and Jordan started hanging out? Our guys was guys only! We'd always have each other's backs! No girl would come between us? Bros before-"

"I get the picture Dan. But she's a nice girl. She's already making fun of Jordan. And I kind a promised she could hang out with us today. she didn't like lying to this chick on the yearbook staff, so I said she could hang out with us so she wouldn't be a liar. Come on Dan, give her a chance. We gave Katie a chance I know you don't regr-"

"Ash, that's not the point, and that's not what we're talking about. I just wish you'd discuss major changes before implementing them."

"Dan, I'm sorry. But if you talk like that, nobody's going to take you seriously." Ash concluded the conversation with a laugh. The door opened. and Ash emerged with a grin on his face. When he spotted me, still standing next to the door, he burst out laughing. "You know you can sit down, right?"

"I just…wasn't sure." I said, embarrassed.

"Come on." Jordan sat, patting the spot beside him on the tiny black couch. "Sit down and relax." Cautiously, I say, crossing both my arms and legs tightly. Jordan lightly pushed my shoulder. "Relax." he whispered. "We're not gonna kill you. There was way too much talk after the last guy disappeared."

I laughed nervously, praying he was kidding.

"So Lisa." Katie began, turning her bright green eyes on me. "Where are you from?"

"I was born in Florida, moved to Georgia when I was eight. Lived in the same house until a week ago when my dad and I moved." I answered with the same speech I'd been giving all day. Before she could ask, I answered her next question "My dad wanted me to get used to the time difference and the new house before sending me to school.

"I was gonna say… So where do you live?" Now she turned her body toward me, eyes hopeful.

"She's just off Sandusky, Katie. Knock it off with the questions. I'm sure she just wants to hang out. Right?"Jordan spoke before I could reply, giving me a 'sorry she's so nosy' look.

"It's fine, really."

"NO, it's not. She doesn't have the right to give you the third degree."

"I was just asking, Jordan. And you can cut the crap. She's not gonna sleep with you."

I gasped, and Jordan turned red. "I wasn't…I didn't- That's not why I'm being nice!" he sputtered. "I just think she…uh…deserves respect!

"Sure you are. What about when I first got here and you tried to get me into bed? You were nice until you found out I was a virgin and planned on staying that way till marriage."

Jordan's ears were as red as his tie at that point. Dan snorted, trying to hide a laugh, and Katie slapped him. "Shut up Dan!"

"What? I was just laughing at …earlier, when-"

"Shut up!"

"-Bradley Snow practically blew up his lab partner."

All other sounds stopped and were replaced with questions of what happened.

As they talked, I spoke quietly to Jordan "Look, I really don't know you, and maybe Katie's making it up and you're just a nice guy, but there's a very good chance I won't sleep with you. I mean, there's a slim chance, if we fell in love, or were drunk or something, but chances are, I won't."

He chuckled lowly. "I';; be honest, I'm not always the nicest guy, unless yeah, I want sex. But I get that you don't. But you never know. Maybe someday I'll convince you."

"Don't hold your breath." I said, turning away from him.

"You'll see." He whispered in my ear, and I shivered. No, I thought, Never gonna happen.

I stared at the picture for another moment before closing the book. so much for that. Although no, it didn't happen. We were just drunk, that didn't count. I stuck with that thought, even though I knew it wasn't true.

It did happen, that was something I'd just have to accept and move on from. Besides, it wasn't like it would ever happen again.

I sighed and glanced around my unit. I knew I needed to clean it out, and go through all my crap, but suddenly I just wasn't in the mood for it. As I went to put the book back in the box, I spotted a white envelope tucked between the other three hardback books and the side of the box. Curious, and a bit confused, I slipped a letter out of the unsealed envelope. As soon as I saw the heading 'Dear Future Lisa' I knew what it was from. As a senior, the school had us write letters to our future selves. The letters were private, all we had to do was prove we had written them. I had no idea what I had written. I remember being stressed about finals, , writing the letter, and starting my future, until Jordan had an idea. His idea wasn't completely legal, and at first I protested, but when Ash said I wouldn't regret it, and I'd thank Jordan for it later, I went along with it. To the best of my recollection it worked. All I knew was that when my brain came back, my letter, as well as most of my college crap and senior stuff was done, and done relatively well.

It wasn't the last time I did it, and still on occasion, all of us relax and do it, usually on a weekend. Ash and Jordan are still our suppliers, and by some miracle they still know the guy that supplied them in high school.

More curious as to what I had written now more than ever, I opened the letter and began to read.

Dear Future Lisa,

Hi. For social studies, I'm supposed to write you a letter for you to read 10 years from now. It's supposed to be all mushy and give you a glimpse into your past, but I gotta tell you, I'm really high right now, and I just wanna get this over with. So I'm just gonna tell you what I hope happens to me.

-I hope 10 years from now everything's legal. And if it's not, well, I hope Ash and Jordan still now that guy. 'Cause this is AWESOME!

-Speaking of Jordan, I hope you've forgiven him. I mean, I know we said we never would, but he's still out best friend. And I know what he did was bad, and I'm not ready to forgive him, but I hope by the time you read this, we're ready.

-I hope somebody (or you) killed the freaky clown-tiger that's been watching me this whole time. And I hope they've stopped the world from moving.

-I hope you're still friends with at least Ash and Max. I mean, I love everybody, but life would not be worth living without Ash and Max. And Jordan, really.

Also, I hope you always remember to never fight the universe. Just let whatever happens, happen.

OK, that's a page. Bye.

-Lisa Koss (17)

PS Please kill the clown tiger. Please!

Silently, I refolded the letter and slipped into the envelope, folding that in half and cramming it into my back pocket. Now I really couldn't stand to look through any more of my possessions.

having lost my enthusiasm for nostalgia, I locked my unit and headed back upstairs, my mind already trying to figure out if I had enough alcohol to make everything disappear.

~ 10 ~