Sitting at my desk typing up a research essay is the last thing I want to be doing on a Saturday night. But I'm not about to just blow off the assignment like the rest of the class does. I actually care about my grade, for one. Besides, it's not like I've got anything better to do.

Mom and dad are off to yet another cocktail party to kiss up to some business men's asses. It seems their business has always outweighed me, no matter the occasion. I suppose I should have gotten used to it by now, since I spent the last eighteen years of my life like this.

Bzzz. Bzzz. My phone vibrates from where I placed it next to my laptop, distracting me from my thoughts.

I reach for it, already knowing who it is that has texted me. The name on the screen confirms that my prediction was right.

Eliza Lawrence.

Or as I so often call her, Liz. My supposed best friend since eighth grade. It's not that Liz is mean or anything. In fact, she is really friendly. But ever since tenth grade started, I feel us drifting further and further apart. I don't know what happened exactly, but it's never been the same.

We used to be close friends, or best friends – as she would insist. But really, the only best friend I've ever had was Helen Sanders. And she moved away before entering high school. We still keep in contact with each other, just never as close as we used to be.

I open up the new text message that I have just gotten. It read, What's up, girl?

I take a moment to sigh before responding with the words Research paper. Placing my phone back where it was, I force myself to concentrate on the words in front of me. No matter how lame it might be to be doing homework during the weekend as opposed to hanging out with some hot dudes at a senior party, I am finishing this goddamn paper.

Oooh, fun. I'm at Steven Nelson's party. You should be here. Came another text from Liz.

No, thanks. I kept my reply plain and simple.

Your loss, girl. Guess what?

The conversation goes on, while I have to keep shifting my focus from the newest text Liz just sent me to the now progressing-slowly research paper. I don't really pay attention to what Liz is saying. A simple "yeah" or "hahahaha" would normally suffice. That is, until she tells me she has a crush on Kendrick Carter.

Just last week you told me you still had feelings for Chad! I reply, feeling a little more furious than necessary.

I was confused then. But now I know I like Kendrick ;)

The moment comes again, when I feel I no longer know this girl. When I feel she has changed too much under the pressure of what is high school. I suddenly feel disgusted for what she has said. Especially at that winky face at the end. I neglect to respond, pretending as if I never received it.

My room becomes silent again after Liz has stopped texting me, probably too busy sucking lips with another boy to even notice I didn't reply.

Kendrick Carter. I silently repeat the name a few times in my mind, before catching myself and blushing furiously despite my being alone in the room.

The name doesn't sound strange, no. In fact, the name has made many guest appearances in my head, more than should be normal, I'd say. Not just his name. His handsome face, too. His prominent features that I have been so mesmerized by have etched into the depths of my mind.

His short, slightly curly blond hair. Bright, captivating green eyes. An adorable nose with a nice shape. His full lips, which so often twitch up in a friendly smile, or break out in a wide grin, that capture the heart of many girls in school. He is lean and muscular, telling you that he goes to the gym on a regular basis. He isn't bulky, though. Definitely not. He stands tall at six-foot-two, while I am a mere five-foot-seven in comparison.

I met Kendrick Carter back in eighth grade. Well, we knew of each other's existence before then, but we never really talked. He moved to become my next-door neighbor in seventh grade, and the school decided to combine our bus stops. I wasn't sure if I should talk to him then, seeing as my social skills aren't exactly…good. He blended in quickly with the guys at school, however, and that only made it all the harder to talk to him. Because his popularity was increasing by the minute.

Then, the morning of the first day of school in eighth grade, he spoke to me. "Hey."

"Hi," I replied, quite awkwardly.

"I'm Kendrick. Kendrick Carter," he smiled.

"Brooke Cassidy," I said and smiled back.

"You ready for eighth grade?" He spoke again.

We chattered about nothing in general. It was mostly him who kept up the conversation, since I was in fear of turning everything awkward. But now that I've thought of it, by not saying too much, I had already turned things awkward.

The day wasn't over yet, however, and soon I found myself in math class sitting behind him. Needless to say, I now have the back of his head memorized with utmost clarity.

No, not stalker-ish at all.

We started talking a lot since then. The walk back to my house was now more interesting than before. And I found myself looking forward to it everyday. Eighth grade went by peacefully like that.

In ninth grade, again we found ourselves in the same class. We were the only freshmen among the many sophomores and some juniors. Math class became my favorite that year, not only because of Kendrick. But also because half the students liked to make jokes in that class, cracking everyone up, including the teacher.

Whenever partner work came up, there was no question about it, Kendrick and I were a group. As it was frequent that we worked together, the juniors quickly noticed and started teasing us to no end about it. I simply blushed and focused on my work. Kendrick would smile and play along, like I was actually his girlfriend.

"Stop!" I'd complain, pretending to be mad about it.

"Oh boy, Kenny, Brooky's mad. Better go coax your little girlfriend," the juniors would tease.

Kendrick would laugh and say, "She's just embarrassed."

"Awww."

I'd bury my head in my worksheet, even though I could feel the corners of my mouth turn up in a smile.

Things changed after tenth grade though. We didn't have any class together anymore. The only time we'd see each other was before and after school, at the bus stop. Even that didn't happen quite so frequent anymore since I had after school clubs while he had track practice.

It went on like this for a while. He was making more and more friends, at the same time climbing up the social ladder. I stayed in my little circle, contented with my current spot.

In junior year, he started dating Bridgette Bernards. Typical, of course. They became the "it" couple. Both blonde, both good-looking, both popular. Everyone else was green with envy.

However, they broke up the summer before senior year started. People acted like what a pity it was, but I knew better. They were all just happy that Kendrick and Bridgette were single and available again.

Senior year, things started taking a turn for the better. As seniors, we enjoy more privileges than the underclassmen, including being allowed to drive to school.

One day, as I was taking a casual walk in the neighborhood, I ran into Kendrick. He had on a pair of shorts, a plain white t-shirt, and running shoes. He was sweating, too. Practicing for track, no doubt.

We ended up sitting on his lawn, chatting like we did when we first met. It felt good, really. To be able to talk to him again.

"Hey, I have an idea," He suddenly said, taking a sip from the water bottle he had grabbed from his kitchen.

"What idea?"

"We could carpool next year. Saves gas, you know," he grinned.

How was I supposed to resist that charming smile and those brilliant greens? I couldn't. I didn't.

That is why, the Monday after I've finished my research paper – and basically every school day of senior year – I find myself in the passenger seat of Kendrick Carter's car.

"Homecoming's in a month, you going?" He asks as we pull out of his driveway.

"Nope," I shake my head.

He creases his eyebrows. "Why not?"

I shrug, "I don't know. I guess I don't see the point in it."

"The point is to hang out with your friends. I mean, it's senior year, you gotta let loose a little," he says in a carefree attitude.

"I don't have many friends," I respond simply.

"Well, what about Eliza? Isn't she your best friend?" He presses.

"Uhh, kinda. Not really." I say, reluctantly.

"Why? What happened? I thought you guys were close."

I end up telling him everything, from where Eliza and I became friends, to how I started putting distance between us. He doesn't interrupt, listening intently while concentrating on the road.

"Well, things happen in high school, I guess. Don't think too much about it. Whatever happen happens."

I give him a smile and say, "Thank you."

"No problem. I'm always here."

I think I've got stomach in my butterflies – wait, no, I mean butterflies in my stomach. See? Kendrick Carter is doing crazy things to me. His smile, his eyes, his voice. His presence in general, makes my heartbeat go faster.

But then I remembered Eliza's text from the weekend, and briefly ponder the thought of asking him if he knew. I decide to not to ruin the mood, though, and we walk towards the entrance.

People stare at us as we do. They always have. But they've toned it down a bit, since Kendrick driving me to school is a norm now. Most people don't get why or how Kendrick and I became friends. I don't think they ever talk about it too much, but the question has probably lingered on their mind before. I guess him being high up in the social pyramid does put some distance between us.

Liz walks over to greet us after we've entered the school.

"Hey Brooke. Hey Kendrick." She puts on a wide smile.

I mentally roll my eyes at her. Does she have to make it so obvious? "Hey Liz."

"Hi, Eliza," Kendrick nods. "I have to go to my locker. See you guys later." With that, he turns and leaves.

Liz is still staring into the direction that Kendrick just headed, so I roll my eyes – physically this time – and walk off towards first period.

"Wait! Brooke, wait!" Liz breaks out of her trance and catches up to me. "Brooke, you and Kendrick are friends, right?"

"No, Liz. We're sworn enemies." I reply, my voice dripping with sarcasm. "Yes, of course we're friends. Why do you think he drives me to school everyday?"

Liz grins – and somehow it looks evil in my eyes. "Good. Then would you please –"

"No." I cut her off before she finished, already knowing what it is she wants me to do.

"Aww, c'mon!" She clings to my arm, swaying it as we head down the hall. "Please, Brooke? Pretty please with a cherry on top?"

"I don't like cherries."

"Brooke Cassidy! Is this really how you treat your best friend?" She pouts like a little three-year-old. "It's not like I want you to go kill him. Pleeeeeeease? I'll love you forever," she adds.

I sigh, not at all liking what I'm about to say next. "I'll try."

"Yes! I love you, girl!" She jumps, wrapping her arms around me in a tight hug.

I smile weakly.

XxXxXxXxXxXxX

"So," I start to say. "What do you think about Liz?"

It's another typical morning drive to school. What's not typical is that I have to help Liz figure out Kendrick's feelings for her – or in this case, the lack thereof.

"Eliza? She's cool," he gives a shrug. "Why?"

"Just curious. A lot of people seem to like her. Boys, especially," I add, stealing a glance in his direction.

He seems unfazed by the comment. "Well yeah, I guess they think she's hot or something."

Hot? I never thought of my supposed best friend that way. I guess I've gotten so used to her that it's kinda weird to think of her that way. Her long and wavy hair, sparkling eyes, and slim figure. It makes sense, in a way, that boys would be after her.

"Well, do you?" I press further.

He pauses for a moment, "I guess she's good-looking. But," he shakes his head. "not my type."

A wave of relief washes through me. "Oh," I say, unable to contain my wide grin.

He looks at me skeptically before turning back to the road. "You okay? Why so giggly all of a sudden?"

"Nothing," I respond, still smiling.

At lunch, I relay all that I've asked and received as answers to Liz. She doesn't seem too happy to be hearing it, but this does not stop her at all.

"Well, he doesn't like me now doesn't mean he won't like me later. He'd succumb to my charm sooner or later anyway," she states in a confident smile.

I silently shake my head. "Whatever you say."

XxXxXxXxXxXxX

"See ya tomorrow, Brooke!" Kendrick waves as I head towards to my house.

"Bye!"

I open the door, only to find that mom and dad are home – a surprise, since they usually work or attend business parties until late at night. They sit in the living room, the atmosphere is tense. Wanting to escape swiftly, I take small and quiet steps toward the stairs –

"Brooke."

– but the plan fails.

I turn around and enter the huge space that is the living room. Carpeted and decorated, it is filled with expensive-looking vases and various antique-looking paintings. An enormous television we hardly use stands at the front of the room, supported by a brown cabinet and faced by a black couch and a recliner of the same color.

My parents are on the couch, so I take the recliner and place my backpack on the cream carpet.

They don't talk. Neither do I. An uncomfortable silence fills the room. The air is still.

"Well?" I prod, hating the eerie quietness of it.

Dad finally talks, "Brooke, you're nineteen now – "

"Eighteen," I correct him. "I'm eighteen." I keep calm, even though it hurts that my own father doesn't know my age.

"Eighteen. Yes. Still an adult," he continues. "We want you to understand that it's not easy being parents. We have to make decisions. Difficult decisions. It would never have come to this if it wasn't necessary. And you are already eighteen. We trust that you will be forgiving and understanding of your parents –"

I cut him off again. "You're getting divorced, aren't you?"

For a moment, they are stunned into silence. But mom recovers soon enough. "It's hard for you, we know. But we have no other choice. We've already talked about child custody. Your dad will most likely be granted the guardianship, what with his condition and all."

"I thought you would take the custody," my dad interrupts.

My mom opens her mouth in an attempt to respond.

"Bullshit!" I spit out. "Bullshit. This is all fucking bullshit."

"You better watch your language, young lady," dad says in a stern voice.

"What do you care?" I stare right into his eyes. "You never did. Neither of you ever cared about me. You never have. So why start now?" My voice is getting louder now. "You give me money, thinking that it could compensate for all the time you leave me home alone? For all the love that I was supposed to receive as a child but never did? No, it isn't enough. Money isn't enough. It doesn't buy me what you failed to give me. But you know what," I take a deep breath. "you wanna get divorced? Go ahead. It's the same either way."

I stand, grab my backpack and I'm about to exit when I turn and say, "By the way, neither of you will get custody. I'm eighteen and therefore old enough to be on my own. I didn't realize you two wouldn't know that. Being rich doesn't have all the perks after all. But I guess it all works out, huh?" I give them a wry smile.

The leaves are starting to turn a peachy color, the weather getting cold as the season of Fall approaches. My hands hold on to the strap of my shoulder bag as I walk. Tears come in silent drops as I stroll on the sidewalk. I thought about calling a friend, but dismissed the idea as it occurred to me that I have no friend that I can really confess to.

Wait, there is still him

After hesitating for a second, I fish for my phone in my bag and decide to call his number. Someone picks up on the other end after a few rings.

"What?" Kendrick snaps.

"Uhm, it's Brooke. I'm sorry…If this isn't a good time…" I let my voice trail off when he begins to speak.

"Oh, Brooke. Hey. No, it's fine. What's up?"

I play around with the hem of my shirt. "Uhm, I was just wondering if you have time to talk…? Maybe…?" My voice sounds weak even to my own ears.

"Yeah, definitely. Why, is everything alright?"

"Yeah, yeah. I just…I just need…" I pause. "You."

The moment I said it, I know I shouldn't have. But there is no way to take my words back now.

He seems surprised for a minute, but responds after he recovered. "I'll be right out. Where are you?"

I look up to see where I have walked to, only to realize my feet have carried me to the old playground in the adjacent neighborhood. The one I used to play in so often because our own neighborhood didn't have one.

"The playground in the next neighborhood."

The park hasn't changed much, I notice. Everything remains the same, except for the dull colors that once used to be radiant. The monkey bars have gone rusty – eliminating thoughts about climbing them like I did in the old days – and so have the swings and the slide. Blocks of wood are set up in a square to fence the perimeter of the area, but even those have started growing mold. I rule out sitting on the ground since it's covered in mulch and instead opt for the grass in the surrounding area.

I feel so emotionally tired that I decide to lie back and just enjoy the serenity of it all. I close my eyes.

"Brooke?" A familiar voice cuts through the wind and reaches my ears.

"Kendrick?" I call, opening my eyes as I sit up on the grass. I make out a figure walking towards me as my eyes refocus themselves.

Kendrick is wearing a pair of faded jeans with a white tee underneath a black fleece jacket. Looking as good as ever, of course, as people blessed like he is can always pull off whichever outfit thrown at them.

"Brooke," he says again as he occupies a spot next to me. "Are you okay?" His eyebrows crease with concern.

I rest my arms on my knees and reply, "Yeah. Sorta. Kinda…Not really."

"Tell me," he says in a soft voice.

"My parents are getting divorced," I whisper, my voice barely audible. But he catches it anyway.

"I'm sorry."

"No, it's not your fault. It's not anyone's fault. It's just mine. For thinking they would ever care about me." I scoff at myself. "For years, they've neglected me and now they don't even care how this would affect me."

He stays quiet.

"They don't want me." I brought my legs closer to my chest and hugged myself, but the cold wind stings still. "They don't want me, Kendrick. She wanted him to take custody, but he didn't want to. They don't want me…" I whimper like a lost dog, tears welling up my eyes as I rest my chin on my knees.

He encircled me with his arms around my shoulders and says in a soothing voice, "That's their loss, Brooke. They don't deserve a daughter like you if they can't see what an amazing person you are."

"I'm not amazing…no one likes me…" I argue weakly through my tears.

"You are. You are amazing. And I like you. I do, and so do many people at school," he tries to reassure me. "Don't doubt your personality." He places a kiss on my head. "Many girls would die to be you."

I crack a smile. "Lies."

"Hey, I don't lie," he shows his trademark grin, flashing his pearly whites.

"I'm sorry for crying so much…"I say, embarrassed.

"Don't be. Everyone needs to cry once in a while."

I am suddenly reminded of how he was when he picked up the phone. I couldn't contain my curiosity. "Why were you so worked up when I called, anyway?"

"Oh, nothing, really," he replies evasively.

"C'mon, Kendrick. I just confided in you, can't you do the same?" I urge softly, like he did not five minutes ago. "Don't you trust me?"

He sighs, running a hand through his tousled blonde hair. "My dad. He was picking on my mom again. She didn't even do anything wrong, and he was yelling at her, telling her things you should never say to anyone, let alone your wife. He was putting her down, insulting her. I couldn't take it. I stood up to him, and told him what an asshole he was. We had a huge argument. My mom stopped us, though, before it turned into a fight."

I let out a gasp. "I'm so sorry, Kendrick."

"Like you said, it's not anyone's fault," he gives a sad smile.

"No. I mean, here I was, ranting and crying, and didn't even bother to care that you have family…issues, too." I suddenly feel like such a selfish person. How could I have him comfort me, when he needs comforting himself? What kind of a person am I?

"Hey now," he begins. "Brooke, don't beat yourself up about it, okay? You didn't know. No one does. I've never told anyone, but I trust you."

"I'll never tell anyone else. I swear." I make a promise instantly.

"Don't worry, I know."

We sit there for another minute. Cold wind keeps blowing past, but the radiant rays of the sun provide us with enough warmth.

"I guess we're even, huh?" He speaks again.

"Huh?" I cock my head to one side, not catching on to what he was saying.

He realizes my confusion and explains, "I mean, you told me about your family, I told you about mine."

"Oh, yeah. I guess we are. What does that make us? Some kind of secret-sharing buddies?" I joke.

"Is this a way to pry more secrets out of me in the future?" He raises an eyebrow, faking scrutiny.

I let out a genuine laugh – something I haven't done in a long time. "Oh yeah, you bet it is."

He laughs, too. Soon we're both laughing like there's no tomorrow. And at that moment, Brooke Cassidy feels as close to Kendrick Carter as ever.

XxXxXxXxXxXxX

The next morning, as Kendrick and I take our usual walk towards the school's entrance, a boy comes up to me with a white origami flower.

"Brooke," he greets with a shy smile.

"Hey Nick." I stop walking, and respond with a smile. Kendrick stays with me, and I feel glad that he did. I have a suspicion about what Nick is going to say next.

He hands me the origami flower, and I can tell it was crafted delicately, every fold showed care. "Here, this is for you."

"Oh, thanks! That's so nice of you," I say gratefully. It's such a thoughtful gift that I can't help but express admiration at the effort being put into it.

"No problem." A light shade of pink colored his cheeks while he scratches the back of his head awkwardly. "Would…uhh…would you go to homecoming with me?"

Suspicion confirmed. "Oh. Uhm, Nick…I'm flattered."

His face lits up hopefully.

"But-" At that his face falls. "I don't really–"

I don't get to finish my sentence, as Kendrick has come to put an arm around my shoulder and tell Nick that "Brooke is my date to homecoming."

My mouth gapes open as Kendrick leads me away and we enter the school building. Out of my peripheral vision, I can tell Kendrick has a smug look on his face.

"Why'd you tell him that?" I manage to choke out once out of my trance.

"I was just doing you a favor. It's easier to reject them when you've already got a date. Or they won't stop asking," he shrugs, still seeming pleased with himself with what he has done.

"Now everyone's going to think we're going to homecoming together," I state, already feeling the aftermath of the little incident back there crashing on me.

"Well, we'll just go to homecoming together then."

I sigh, shaking off his arm and rubbing my temples with my hands. "We can't, Kendrick."

He is definitely getting frustrated now. "Why not? It's not like you actually had a date. You weren't even gonna go."

"Because I don't wanna go! Besides, Liz – " I catch myself before I manage to say anything else.

"Eliza? What's she gotta do with this?" He asks in annoyance.

"She likes you, okay? She would never forgive me if we were to go to homecoming together."

He sighs in exasperation. "It doesn't matter. I don't like her. She only likes me for now anyway. Once she gets bored, she'll find a new object of interest. She always does."

Part of me knows he is right. Eliza's crushes never last too long, not that they are legitimate, either. Part of me, however, feels it isn't a good idea to start getting involved with Kendrick Carter right now. I mean, think about it, Brooke Cassidy and Kendrick Carter? They don't go together. People don't put those two names together.

"I don't know, Kendrick. What will people think?" I say in a whisper.

"Don't give a damn about what other people think, Brooke. Think about what you want." He pauses. "Do you, Brooke Cassidy, want to go to homecoming with me, Kendrick Carter?"

He stares at me with those jade green eyes, his expression as serious as I have ever seen him. He is determined to get an answer out of me today, no matter what, I can tell.

I take a minute to think over all the goods and bads that can come out of this. All reasons why I should or should not agree to Kendrick's invitation. And for a stunned moment, I realize I have no reason not to. I have been – say, what's the word? – infatuated with him since – I can't even remember. He has always been nice, has always been there. If my rational self can't find any reason not to go, I guess that only leaves one thing to say.

"Yes."

I have a feeling this answer refers to more than going to homecoming. But it doesn't matter, because with Kendrick Carter and his dazzling, gorgeous green eyes, the answer will always be yes.

His lips break into a wide grin as the word leaves my mouth. He wraps his arms around me and lifts me off the ground for a spin. I laugh, while telling him to put me down.

I feel my feet touch the floor again, but his arms still have me trapped. Before I could struggle out of his grip, he captures my lips with his. A sensation I've never experienced before shot through me, sending chills down my spine and tingling my skin all over. He kisses me with tenderness, his warm lips doing magic on mine. My lips part, granting him permission to enter. He takes it.

He tightens his arms on my waist, and I snake my arms up around his neck, deepening the kiss.

Before long, we're having a full heated make-out session in the middle of the hall.

Rrrring. Rrrring. The school bell rings. One of the teachers, with old-styled glasses and suspenders, comes urging everyone to class. He breaks us up when he notices what we're doing. "Get to class, you two!"

My cheeks flush in embarrassment and I take quick strides in disappearing down the hall with Kendrick.

"You know, I've wanted to do that for a long time," he says, a smug grin making its way onto his face.

I don't catch on and make a mistake by saying, "Do what?"

Because the next thing I know, our lips are entangled again.

When we part again, I say, "We're gonna be late."

"Who cares?" He throws his hands up in a carefree attitude.

I glare at him. "I do."

"Why don't we skip school for a day?" He suggests, mischief glinting in his eyes.

"No," I say simply, standing firm on my ground.

He pouts – making him extra adorable. "Fine. But I get to do one thing."

"What?" I manage to ask before he catches me with his soft lips. Again.

"We're really late," I mumble in between pecks.

He doesn't respond, but the continued kissing told me his answer: I really don't care.

Sighing mentally, I pull away and we head towards class, hand in hand.

"You'd never believe this, but I've had a crush on you since eighth grade," he starts.

I raise my eyebrows at him, skeptical. "Yeah, you're right. I don't believe you. You even dated Bridgette last year, in case you don't remember."

"That…that was just me being stupid. I wanted to know if I really liked you, or if it was just a stupid crush that lasted too long," he attempts to explain. "Bridgette came along, and I was confused…" He trails off.

I nod. "Hmm."

"That's it? A nod? A 'hmm'?" He looks at me incredulously.

I chuckle. "Well, would you prefer it I went all jealous on you?"

"Well, that would show that you care," he counters.

I roll my eyes at him.

XxXxXxXxXxXxX

Eliza finds out later in the day that Kendrick and I have made out in an open hallway and will be attending homecoming together.

She comes to me during lunch. I can see steam sizzling off the top of her head. This is how furious she is. "How could you?!" She shrieks at me.

"Liz, I'm sorry – " I try to apologize.

"You fucking slut! I was your best friend! You knew I liked him! How could you betray me like this? I, Eliza Lawrence, will never be friends with such a whore. We're done, Brooke Cassidy!" She stomps away.

XxXxXxXxXxXxX

"Hey, it's not your fault, okay? I would've never gotten with her anyway," Kendrick reassures me.

"I know," I sigh.

"Are you moving soon?" He asks suddenly.

"I don't know what my parents have decided to do with the house yet, but I'll be attending NYU and after I graduate, I'll move out on my own. What about you? What college are you going to?"

He has on that smug grin again. "NYU."

I gasp. "Really?" A feeling of happiness surges through me. I have been wondering about what would ensue after our separation due college, but I guess now the problem has solved itself. Or maybe a certain someone did…

He nods. "Yup. And I'll be okay to leave my mom alone at home, too, because when I got home that day from the playground, my dad agrees he'll see a therapist about his anger management issues and he'll try to throw less tantrums."

"That's good!" I can't help the smile on my face, for I really feel glad that his family problems worked out.

"You know what else is good?" He snakes a hand around my waist.

"What?" I turn to face him.

"My kissing skills." He smirks.

The look on his face makes me want to challenge him, so I did. "I beg to differ."

He feigns hurt on his expression. "You just hurt my man-pride. So you have to compensate."

I want to ask how, but figured out the answer as his lips found mine. Somehow in the process of making out, he has lifted me onto his lap so that I am straddling him.

He places kisses down my jaw and the side of my neck while his hands explore my back. I shudder with his every touch, my hands tangling themselves in his hair.

"Kendrick…"

"Brooke," he lifts his head up and looks me in the eye. "I love you."

The only thing I can focus are his bright green eyes that express so much emotion for me. "I love you, too."