Prologue

Riley suppressed a sob as she pushed her foot down on the accelerator, ignoring the buzzing coming from the passenger seat. Once it had stopped, she glanced over at the phone, noticing the glare of '15 missed calls' shining arrogantly on the screen. Grabbing the phone instantly, she flicked through the phonebook to the only name that would right now give her comfort.

"Hey. Sorry to be calling so late, but do you mind if I come over?" She asked, biting her lip as she heard him groan in his anger at being woken up.

"Sure Ry, you know the drill." He mumbled before hanging up, and for a few fleeting seconds the turmoil within her had fallen relatively calm. Pulling in to her driveway ten minutes later, she shut off the engine and entered her house, not bothering to turn the lights on as she went. Sloping into her room, she locked the door behind her and slung her clutch bag onto her bad, no longer caring for her appearance. Heading to the window, she slid it carefully open, hoping not to wake her parents as she went. Climbing out carefully, she manoeuvred her feet onto the ledge outside, before hopping over the short distance to the ledge and window opposite.

"Nate? Nate, come on, open up." She whispered, tapping her fingers gently on the window. Seconds later, the curtains behind the glass opened, revealing a set of curious green eyes beneath a mess of dark chocolate hair. His long gentle fingers flicked forward, unlatching the window to allow her in.

"Not that I don't mind the late night booty call and everything, but do you mind telling me what's going on?" He asked with a grin, grabbing her elbow as she shuffled through the window. Riley thanked God she could count on Nate; they had been best friends and neighbours for as long as she could remember, and they shared everything.

"Ry, mind me asking what's with the outfit?" He asked, wrapping his arm across her shoulder as hugged her half-heartedly.

"Oh...crap. See I was at a party with Zach..." She mumbled, her voice trailing off as she looked down at the navy blue dress which clung to her slim figure. Before tonight, she had counted herself lucky that someone like Zach had wanted to be with her, but then that had gone up in flames. Choking back a sob she fell back on his bed, momentarily letting his comforting scent overwhelm her.

"Going to finish that thought?" He asked with a small smile, settling down in his desk chair opposite her.

"We got separated at the party, and the next thing I know, I'm finding him upstairs with Ana." She trailed off, letting the tears fall freely as she recalled the memory. Nate's expression fell as he moved over next to her, pulling her close to him for comfort.

"Well, Zach's an ass. You're one hundred times better than Ana the whore." He said, squeezing her softly to make his point.

"That's not the worst of it. He called me a tease, and said I'd been stringing him along." Nate resisted the urge to barge out of the room and go and beat Zach to a pulp. "There's more...he said that he didn't know why he even bothered with me, when I'm so obviously hung up on you." She bit her lip as she watched his face for any kind of reaction, and it was only that second that she realised he was topless. The tension in the room increased a notch as she waited for his reply.

"I mean, how ridiculous is that?" She said, finally breaking the silence as he continued to ponder on something. He nodded slowly, his mind still elsewhere as she pulled out of his arms.

"Are you going?" He asked as she stood up, pacing silently across the room as she tried to force herself to stop crying.

"I'm not sure...I don't feel like being alone tonight. Can I just crash here like usual?" She asked, suddenly feeling slightly awkward at the prospect. What was wrong with her? They always used to stop over at each other's houses, talking until the early hours of the morning. To her, suddenly with the accusations from Zach, she started to feel uncomfortable in Nate's room for the first time in her life.

"Sure. Do you need one of my shirts again?" He asked casually, getting up from the bed to scout his room for her favourite shirt. Finding it, he passed it her gently before climbing in his bed, turning his back whilst she got changed. Seconds later he felt her lay down next to him, her bare legs pressing against him as she tried to get comfortable. The bed began to tremble as he realised she was sobbing. "Hey now, none of that. Come here." He said, rolling over and wrapping his arms around her as her crying subsided. "Just go to sleep Ry, and everything will be better in the morning, I promise." He said, pulling her close and pressing a soft kiss to her temple. Before she knew it, exhaustion had completely taken her over, and she fell asleep in his arms.

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