A/N: Well. Here's another chapter. I love you guys with my entire broken heart. /3

Chapter 21:

River

Fifteen, she was turning fifteen today. No one knew; she didn't want anyone to know. She leaned forward to look closer at herself in the mirror. She dabbed a little concealer on the dark half-moons under her eyes. She had been having nightmares lately. Some starred her family, some starred James, but all of them had her waking up, sweating and clutching the soft dark sheets in James' room. He also didn't know about her nightmares, he didn't need to. He never woke up when she did, just groaned and tightened his grip around her waist. River shook her head and refocused on applying makeup. Her eyes were red from lack of sleep, and she hoped no one would notice. She took a blow dryer to her wet hair and styled it in their usual curls. She thought a little about her family. Her mother, the drunk. Her brother, the runaway. And her father… she pulled up her shirt a little and turned to the side to get a look at the scars faded now. She could still feel the agony of each stroke as her father dug the kitchen knife into her sides and back. He'd hit her, cut her, and do anything that might cause her harm. He'd even gone as far as…

The door to James's small bathroom swung open, and then there was a gasp. She quickly pulled her shirt down to cover her scars, but James had seen enough. He came closer to her, gently pushing her hands away from the hem of her pink long-sleeved top. He lifted it a little, and anger flashed through his eyes as he took in her ragged scars. "Who did this to you?" he asked softly. River bowed her head, mumbling something incoherent. "WHO, River?" he asked again, with a little more force behind the question. She felt a tear roll down her face. "My dad." She whispered. James looked at her incredulously; and back at the scars. He placed her shirt back in its intentioned style and took her into his arms. Holding her as she cried silently, murmuring consoling statements in her ear. They stood in the little bathroom, and suddenly, James chuckled. She looked at him; a look that said what the hell do you think is FUNNY? He shook his head with a little grin. "No, don't get me wrong. I just remembered the little scene on the porch yesterday." He said, with another little chuckle. River snorted, remembering too.

She remembered going to find the two at the stream, and laughing as she saw them passionately making out in what was pretty much a mud hole. Sarah had popped up faster than River's eyes could follow. Max followed more slowly but they were both clearly embarrassed. She thought over how pissed Charlie had been, yelling at the two, mainly Max, for going and doing what they'd done. River couldn't see a problem. Sarah had just laughed at her brother's antics, and pushed past him with a pat on the cheek, pulling Max with her. Her dad hadn't said anything, clearly accepting that Max was with Sarah now. Dylan had just stood by and howled with laughter while Charlie chewed them out. It hadn't lasted long, Sarah had looked at him with a deadly intensity, and the vampire had shut right up. Everyone had gone to sleep in a good mood… well, except Charlie… "River, you in there? Yoo-hoo." James laughed at her as she blinked and focused on him again, allowing herself a little smile. She went on tiptoe to kiss his cheek, and then pulled him out the door, downstairs to where everyone awaited them.

She did this without a word, and immediately sat next to Sarah, Max was nowhere to be seen, but Sarah just rolled her eyes and said he was in the shower. The way she said it suggested that there had been a little invitation for Sarah to join him. James sat beside her and put arm around her shoulders. Yep, fifteen, hey at least now I'm my boyfriend's age. River thought with a tiny giggle.

Sarah

I listened to this particular thought with interest. It was river's birthday. Perfecto. I slowly reached around her to tap the werewolf boy's arm. He glanced at me out of the corner of his eye. I jutted my chin outside. We need to talk, now. He nodded, returning his attention to River for a few moments. I stood and cocked two fingers at him. "Come on wolfy, you're going to help me with something, Charlotte, if you would accompany us." The two werewolves rose, Charlotte slower than her son, mildly confused. Just as we were going out the door I saw Max hurtling down the stairs. He looked at me; I beckoned him in the same manner as I'd called James. When we were all outside, a little ways away from the house, Max spoke up. "Wow, Rosie, one might think you brought us out her to kill us…" he began, but stopped dead in his tracks at my glare. I still hadn't forgotten his ever-so-polite invitation to shower with him. "Yeah, whatever, pervert. Listen up, I heard a certain someone thinking about her birthday just now inside. It seems our lovely River has forgotten to share an important piece of information with us." I said with a mischievous little grin.

James crossed his arms, thinking about this. "Oh really?" he asked, I nodded to him, and turned to the other two. Charlotte was buzzing with energy, her question seeming to want to burst out of her. "Yes, Charlotte?" I asked with a laugh. "Can I make a cake?" she asked, excited for my answer. "Yeah, totally, if you don't mind Max helping you, he's an awesome baker." I stated; this was true. Max was an astonishing cook. "Yes, of course, when is her birthday anyway?" Charlotte questioned, she reminded me of and overly-excited puppy sometimes. "It's today. I heard her thinking about how she's now fifteen, and hey, at least she's her boyfriend's age." I giggled with a little wink for James. He got a misty look in his eyes. "She referred to me as her boyfriend?" he asked dreamily. I nodded with a giggle. "Yes she did, but since I think you're a cute kid, I don't think I'll have to have the talk with you right? You know the consequences if you hurt her?" I asked. He nodded hastily.

"Anyways, after you two finish the cake, I'm going to run into town to pick something up for her, I was thinking I'd take you two boys and Dylan. I don't trust everyone enough not to kill him while I'm gone." I said, gesturing at the two boys. Max nodded and James followed suit, but his was a little more groggy, I think he was still hooked on the 'boyfriend' comment. "Right, I'm going to escort Romeo here back to his Juliet. You two get started on the baking?" I asked, getting a hold on James' arm, that snapped him out of his daze, and he blinked up at me with a dopey little-boy smile. He was such a little cutesy. "Snap out of it, Wolfy, wouldn't want River to see you all high on love, now would you?" he sobered up and walked ahead of me, Charlotte and Max walked behind us, discussing baking issues. We all entered the house at different times, James first, Charlotte and Max next, though they just went straight to the kitchen, and then me; and I followed the two bakers and seated myself on the counter as Charlotte bustled around her kitchen, preparing all of her supplies.

"So, going shopping with you, now there's one thing I didn't miss. My wallet is only just now regaining full health." Max said to me, grabbing my attention. I lightly smacked his tan arm. "I never mooched money off of you like that. We only went shopping when you promised a trip to me for a birthday or something." I replied casually. "I know baby, but really? You think that's all you're going to buy today?" I looked at him, confused. "I'm paying for River's present anyway, so it won't be a problem." He chuckled. "That's cute, Rose, I'm paying." I rolled my eyes, why not let him think that. Charlotte snapped her fingers to catch Max's attention. When she had it, she relayed the baking instructions to him. He nodded, completely focused on her words. Apparently they were going to make a layered cake. First a chocolate layer, then a red velvet layer, and a chocolate to top it off, then chocolate icing on top. It needed to be a fairly large cake to feed the people in the house, but I had a few tricks up my sleeve that would have everyone fed.

I watched them bustle around the kitchen, and Max followed every instruction that Charlotte gave him. They finally put the cake in the oven and Charlotte sent me and Max out of the kitchen. "Oh, and Sarah, could you pick up some decorations while you're out? I think I have some money around here…" she began, digging around in her kitchen. Max stopped her. "I'll pay Charlotte, don't worry about it." Awwww, he's such a sweetheart. "James, Dylan, Max, you're helping me again." I called. James and Dylan, who were both engaged in conversation with River, bolted to their feet and met me and Max at the door. They were all asking questions as to where we were headed, and I ignored them until we came to my car. I smiled when I saw it there; touched someone had brought me my baby. Three low whistles sounded behind me, and the smile stretched into a smirk. "Whose car is this babe?" Max questioned, stroking the hood gently as if it were a cat. "Whoever it belongs to, I call shotgun." He continued. I pulled my keys out of my back pocket and unlocked the car, sliding in the driver's seat and resisting the urge to purr. "Maybe you should let one of us drive, Sarah. The guy who owns this beauty won't be happy if a girl gets a scratch on it." Dylan said, and I laughed. "I don't recall getting a sex change Dylan. No one drives my baby but me."

Three jaws dropped, and Max tapped my shoulder. I gave him a questioning look. "This is your car?" he asked. I nodded, pulling out onto the road once everyone was safely buckled in. I felt lips on my cheek. "I have never loved you more in my entire life." This brought a smirk to my lips. "Yet there's still so much more about me that you'll find can be irresistible." I said, hinting at some R rated scenes that if he's a good boy, he may be fortunate enough to experience. "Hey! Keep it PG, Sarah!" Dylan called from the back seat. I rolled my eyes as we drove down the road. "My apologies Dylan, but I was under the impression we were all mature here, am I wrong?" I asked, turning in my seat, taking my eyes off of the road to glare at him. Three identical noises of protest and pain sounded in unison as I deliberately swerved the car to the right just a fraction. "Pay attention to the road, woman!" Max screamed, like a little girl. I giggled and did as I was told. We drove into town; it wasn't a long drive, so silence never had the opportunity to poison our joyful mood.

I pulled into Edgebrook's small shopping center and shooed the boys out of the car while I fished through the backseat and found my black leather purse. I made sure my wallet was in there and climbed out after them. "Where to first, Sar?" James asked me. I locked the car. "Party city, your mom asked me to pick up some decorations for the party." I replied casually, stalking away from them, ignoring Max's gaze as he watched my rear end while I walked ahead of him, purposefully swaying my hips. "I'm paying as well, so you can just all put your wallets back in your back pockets." I said, smiling. A noise of protest from Max, and I knew he was the only one who hadn't done what I asked. Well, more like what I demanded. "Max, that means NOW." I said, more forcefully this time. I heard the shu7ffle as he obliged. All four of us walked into party city, ignoring the looks as the two teenagers who had gone missing from their high school two months ago casually walked into a party store. I grinned at Dylan as we took notice of this; he smirked at me, making the other two boys question our glances.

"We both disappeared two months ago, and now we just casually walk into Party City? That's going to merit some curious stares." Dylan explained as I walked up and down the aisles, picking out pink and purple decorations, streamers, plates, and a big birthday banner. I went up to the cashier and smiled while she gawked at me. "S-Sarah Parks? Dylan Night?" she asked. I half-noticed that she eyed my stomach, looking for a possible baby bump. "I'm not pregnant. Can you please check out my items?" I snapped. She nodded hastily. "Of course, I'm sorry. It's just… I go to the same high school as you, and everyone noticed that you guys were hanging out a lot the day before all of you guys disappeared, so…" the girl trailed off, but I ignored her presence after handing over my money and letting the boys take the bags. "What the hell was that about?" Max asked the both of us as soon as we were out the doors, heading to the other stores in the shopping center. I didn't answer, and max latched onto my wrist, pulling me to face him.

I sighed, giving in to the baby blue eyes, as I always did. "That day, I ran into Dylan in the halls between periods, I needed a friend, so I accepted his 'polite' offer to sit with him at lunch. I ate with him and a few other people, and found that Dylan and I both had a free period together. So we spent it hanging out and talking, then I was yanked out of school by Rick, and that's how I met River." I explained in a hurry. "Mmhmm, so the mad flirting that girl hinted at was… what?" he asked, eyeing me playfully. "Me entertaining myself, Max, you know how much I love to be entertained." I said. Dylan and James burst out laughing. "I'm going to take Romeo to pick out something for Juliet. You two work out you issues and call me when you've figured it out." Dylan smiled happily, gesturing to James. The two guys laughed and walked off, doing bad impressions of me and Max fighting. I turned to Max with a smirk, plastered on my face, ready to make him my little bitch.

"That was cute, my darling. But not at all entertaining." He interrupted me with a dark glare. I reached up to pinch his cheeks, using that motion to place my arms around his neck. "I wasn't trying to entertain you, Maxi, I was entertaining myself." I said, pecking a kiss at his strong jawline. He growled, placing his hands on my lower back, pressing me into him. "Max, I don't know what you want me to tell you." I said in a breathy tone, nibbling on the point of his jawline that I'd kissed. "Have you kissed him?" he asked me. I laughed, just a small sound. "No, I have not kissed Dylan. I've only ever slept at the foot of his bed." I replied, making sure to keep the argument going as I returned my lips to his neck. "What the hell, why?" he asked incredulously. "It was either that or sleep in the bed." I said, pulling out of his grip and sashaying away. I heard him grumble something about how he was glad I chose the end of te bed, then. Eh, who cares, I'm going shopping!