I walked through the front doors of the party, the music was blaring. It was a high school party, not typically my thing but it was a Spring break and all the roomies were home. As I looked to my left I swear I could smell STD's radiating from the people on the makeshift dance floor grinding against each other. I recognized almost everyone there, we weren't really friends, but I went to school with them. I found Thomas in the kitchen.

Thomas wasn't a big partier but he had beer and was talking it up with Lacey Peterson AKA I'll have sex with you if you at least look like a guy. I grabbed a beer and pretended not to see Thomas as to not interrupt his enthralling captivating conversation with her. To my surprise he cut her off and a little too loudly

"Hey, Lo, what are you doing here? I thought you were too good for these shin digs" raising his hands indicating he was referring to the party, which was in full swing at this point.

"Well Thomas, its spring break at the college so I decided to slum it this weekend. Does Sherri know you drink domestic beer? She'd be so disappointed in her Irish son!" I replied sarcastically. Typical Thomas to call me out.

"Well she seems to be embracing all things right now. I mean she let you move out on your own and we all know that's going to end up in a train wreck."

At this point people were watching our little banter. Jack, Thomas' best friend walked into the kitchen a little too loudly with bright red cheeks. Oh yeah he was trashed. When he saw me he picked me up in a bear hug and swung me around.

"Jack okay Jack put me down"

"well I never see you anymore, apparently according to Thomas you're too good for us now."

I looked over at Thomas and glared "I have never said that I am too good for anyone here" I said never breaking my glare towards Thomas

"you may have never said it but you sure as hell think it" Thomas said under his breath as he brushed past me dropping his empty plastic cup in the trash and walking away.

I decided to just leave it at that. I wasn't up for a screaming match with him tonight. I was over this whole "prove yourself" attitude that everyone has during high school I walked over to the keg and one of the guys from Thomas's baseball team pumped some cheap beer into a cup for me. I drank it quickly and grabbed another.

I walked around out to the backyard and saw Emily and Lauren taking hits from a hookah. I sat next to them and inhaled some of the spearmint flavored smoke. Emily and Lauren used to be my best friends. Back when I was just like them. Back when Thomas was just a cute guy I kissed once when I was thirteen and who taunted and teased me about this that and the other thing all day long. I took a few more hits from the hookah and grabbed another beer and walked back inside. I was definitely feeling buzzed at this point. I walked into the kitchen and had to grip the edge of the counter to maintain my balance which was already terrible when sober. I felt a hand on my side and a voice

"wowww, you okay there Lo?"

I turned my head and saw a guy I didn't recognize with his hand dangerously close to my left boob.

"Who the hell are you?" I questioned a little loudly

"umm a friend of Thomas'. I transferred here right after..." he trailed off. Yeah after. I know what he's talking about and I don't want to think about it

"Oh" I respond quickly and shortly. I decide to walk away.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you, Lo. Thomas said you were still a little lost, I just, I'm sorry I said anything."

"Lost?" what the hell was that supposed to mean? Why is Thomas talking about me at all to people who I don't even know? What else has he told people?

I turn back to the guy and say " don't worry about it. Shit happens. Life goes on."

I turn on my heal and I'm officially on the prowl for Thomas. After stomping around the front yard then the living room/ dance floor I find him sitting on the couch, passing a joint to some Jack with a girl practically sitting in his lap sweating and completely trashed. "You, get up! I need to talk to you NOW" I look directly at Thomas. His eyes are starting to get red but I don't care I grab his hand and drag him to the back door and then around to the side of the house where there's only a few people still around. "Why are you talking to people I don't even know about me and my situation?" I spit out. He just looked at me for a second.

"hello? Are you gonna answer me?"

"You know what Lo, you became a different person after they were gone, I don't even know who your are and we grew up together, we lived together."

"What does that have to do with you telling people I'm 'lost'?"

"Oh come on Lo, you just disappeared from school. You didn't even tell Emily and Lauren you just didn't show up one day for school. People started coming to me for answers. What was I supposed to say? That guy, who gives a shit what he said, I was honest with people when you didn't want to deal with things. You chose not to deal with your problems so everyone else had to. My mom, me. You are lost Lo, sorry if that's too honest fo-

I saw my hand rise up and hit his face, I didn't even realize I was doing it until I looked down at my hand then back up at his cheek that was reddening. I didn't give him time to say anything. I turned around quickly and started to walk away while he stood there stunned his hands dangling at his sides, then with my new found confidence I whipped my head around and paused "and just so you know Thomas, I'm not lost. Look at me. I'm standing right here" I swept my hand from my head down until it hung by my side. I shook my head and walked away.

I didn't get very far though I felt him roughly grab my hair and spin me around he was getting really close to my face so I kept backing up til I felt the side of the brick house. I felt my hair sticking to the brick. He didn't say anything for the longest time, he just kept looking at me, I could smell the weed on his breath and alcohol coming from his pores. Then under his breath he said "you are lost Lo, you try to hide from everyone how you're feeling, what you're thinking but I know you." His forehead was resting against mine and I could smell Thomas. It was the smell of his soap, detergent, some sort of cologne, and sweat from this hot May weather. "Don't underestimate me Laraena." then his lips were on mine. He tasted like beer and smoke and...Thomas.

It's hard to explain but it felt good. I kissed him back. Maybe it was the beer, maybe it was comforting, maybe it reminded me of a time in my past that makes me smile but I like it. The next thing I know his arms are on either side of me pinning me against the brick wall. Although I come across confident and cocky as hell, I was pretty inexperienced. I just had a hard time being vulnerable in front of people.

I was trying not to think to much even though the feeling of his lips on mine made thinking pretty difficult anyway. My hands rested on his chest, just in case I needed to push him away, I guess. Then he pulled away, and I involuntarily made a noise that signaled that I wasn't ready for it to be over. The second it was out of my mouth I was embarrassed, embarrassed for being so needy, for being so cliché. I quickly covered my mouth with my hand and looked up at Thomas who was staring down at me. He took my hand away from my mouth and placed it around his neck and my other hand followed on the other side he dipped down and kissed me again this time he pulled away only to lick my now swollen lips, asking for permission, I opened my mouth and let him in. His hand moved from the wall to my hip and my hands moved from his neck to the hair on the back of his head.

Our tongues wrestled for dominance, his winning out in the end and I don't know how long we stood there like that but after some time of making out with my child hood friend against the side of a house that is four blocks from my childhood home a couple of cop cars showed up. They walked up the front steps with the drug dog and boomed over the loud music "We're gonna start arresting people in 45 seconds" after that people just started running every which direction. Thomas had pulled away from me and watched the cops.

He grabbed my hand and we began jogging down the street towards his house. It was quiet on the suburban street. Even though he lived in the next neighborhood over, all we had to do was take some shortcuts and we would be there.

We slowed to a walk. It was nice. Neither of us said anything. Sure the kiss felt good. But this is Thomas we're talking about. We weren't holding each others hands anymore we walked with some distance between us. I kept putting distance between us. I had to.

I was practically in the middle of the road and I knew I couldn't keep avoiding Thomas' sideways glances over to me. "Look Tho-" "Lo I do-" we both started talking at the same time. "sorry" we both said simultaneously. We both chuckled that fake this is super awkward chuckle. I sighed loudly before starting "look I don't really know what happened back there but lets just keep it in the past. We grew up together. We've both worked so hard to get through these past few years to fuck up what little friendship we have left, okay?" I say this softly. I'm still trying to convince myself that this is the right thing to say to do.

Thomas was staring at the concrete and shaking his head before I was even finished speaking "No. You think you're gonna push me away that fast? Come on Lo, everyone in this town has known that this was bound to happen one day, don't tell me you haven't thought about it, actually considered it. You're not getting off this easy." He said the last part with this cocky smirk on his face and I knew this wasn't going to be settled in a mature manner by just talking about it and moving on. Oh no, I had certainly underestimated Thomas.

Then he grabbed my hand when it was time to leave the well lit street and into the woods (the shortcut). I paused at the curb and caused Thomas to stop abruptly and turn around "what the hell are you doing now Karter?" I gave him my give-me-a-damn-second look before reaching down and pulling off my glittery five inch heels that made me look easy. "okay geez I just had to take off my shoes, relax." With one shoe in each hand Thomas was unable to hold my hand anymore, which put me at ease. I just felt different when he touched me. But before I could protest he yanked the shoes out of my hands and held the heels of both shoes in one hand and grasped my hand and pulled me right to his side "its dark and this is the time of the year when the snakes are out be careful" I tensed, I seriously have nightmares about snakes then I sank into Thomas' side gripping him in fear of stepping on a poisonous snake. His arm went around my shoulder and rested under my right arm. We didn't talk for a while, just listening to the cicadas was enough. "Sooo, if I got bit by a poisonous snake in my foot, would you suck the poison out with your mouth?" I asked looking up at him with a goofy smile on my face. He tipped his head backward and let out a laugh then glanced down and said "sure, I'm not afraid to get a little weird for you" and winked I rolled my eyes and punch him in the arm pulling away from him giggling. "That's not what I meant, you have a dirty mind Thomas Long." We reached a dip in the earth. This is where you can find the deepest creek in the fall, but for most of the summer its completely dry there was still water in it this time of year though. The water was probably only a few inches deep but stretched about four feet across. Thomas took a leap and jumped right across not getting single drop of mud on his shoes I stood on the opposite side of the creek no knowing what to do. Thomas reached out his arm and I hesitated taking it. I grew up with the kid I knew this trick. He would just yank me hard and cause me to fall face first into the muddy creek. "come on Lo" he said practically reading my mind he pointed to a smooth rock sticking out of the creek "step onto that and then I can get you over. I tossed my shoes to the other side of the creek then stepped onto the rock then Thomas picked me up from my armpits and swung me the rest of the way to the bank of the creek. I don't remember when he got so strong. He put me down but only slid his hands lower onto my hips, his fingertips grazing my butt I blushed like crazy and he leaned down and kissed me. My stomach felt like it was on fire and did a back flip. It was aggressive or pushy but sweet. I put my hand to his chest and pushed. I couldn't do this to him, to his family, to myself. I can't love people the way everyone else can. I just have this impediment that doesn't allow me to be close to anyone.

"Lets just go." I said softly, avoiding eye contact. There was no more holding hands or touching, or kissing the rest of the way. We ended up walking all the way to his house in silence, his parents cars were in the driveway and the lights were still on. I glanced at my phone. It was only 12:30. Pretty early break up of a party. The Long's, just like my parents, had always bee night owls. Staying up late, watching movies. At the end of the driveway I stopped and so did Thomas I must've interrupted a thought because he had his hand behind his head staring at the ground biting his lip. "uhhh look, do you think you could just go grab your keys and if you're not good to drive I know I am, I just don't want to cause trouble with your mom having to take me home." I knew Sherri and she would jump up and help anyone no matter what. "No, don't worry about it, just stay over. Claire's been asking for you a lot anyway, and she doesn't sleep in her own room right now. Going through a phase I guess, likes to sleep with mom and dad now". Claire was Thomas' younger sister, she was four and adorable. We were both actually adopted from the same region of Greece. After my parents adopted Sherri started to get into it and ended up finding a two year old girl they couldn't walk away from so Thomas became a big brother. She reminds me a lot of myself, if I had had parents. I hesitate for a second longer until Thomas throws his hands up like he's surrendering and says "no more weird shit, at least with them around" He looks like he's telling the truth so I trust him and walk up the driveway he grabs the key form under the mat and holds the door open for me, I hesitate until I feel his hand on my lower back pushing me into the living room. Sherri and Steve glanced up from their movie and Sherri jumped up "Laraena, honey, how are you? Pulling me into a mom hug. Steve stretched out on the couch and raised an eyebrow at his son. Thomas shook his head and Steve turned back to the T.V. Screen. Oh father/son relationships... I patted Steve on the shoulder and gave him a small hug from behind the couch. "Hello Steve-O" I said smiling. He smiled and patted my hand. "So what are you doing here Miss Karter?" inquired Sherri. "Oh party we were both at got broken up by cops so I thought I'd swing by since the night is still young." I said nonchalantly. "Well are you hungry honey? Tea? We have some pizza left over?" "hey mom" Thomas interrupted quickly "it's okay if Lo stays over tonight right?" I glared at him for being so forward and putting his mom on the spot, of course she would say yes. "Oh I thought was the plan already?" Sherri glanced over at me "whatever keeps me out of your hair and causes you the least amount of trouble" I said shrugging and smacking my hands on the counter of the ktichen. Just then we hear Claire's voice from the landing of the stairs "mama!" "mama!" "mama!" she doesn't even give Steve a sideways glance as she bolts through the dark living room and into the bright kitchen. She squinted her eyes against the harsh lights as she gripped a pink blanket. She was wearing footie pajamas and her long black curly hair was going every which way. She walked up to Thomas who picked her right up and cradled the little girl to his chest before saying "guess who's here Claire?" She squirmed to get a good look of who was in the room, I walked right up to them as Claire's face lit up. "Lala!" She squealed and threw her hands up and practically jumped into my harms. I gave her a big hug and kiss and swung her up on my hip as she rested her head against my collar bone. I loved Claire like my own flesh and blood, just like I loved the rest of the Long's including Thomas. Of course I loved Thomas. He was practically family. Claire's skin was the same olive skin tone as mine and our hair was the same color jet black. It made me feel good that Claire always had someone there that looked like her and knew where she came from. Boy, could I have used one of those in middle school. I carried Claire up the stairs and back to her room with Thomas following. Sherri gave her daughter a kiss and dropped back onto the couch. As she was hitting play Sherri called Thomas over and I continued up the stairs with a half asleep little girl in my arms. We got to her room and instead of putting her right in the bed I turned on her CD player with her bedtime music (some classical stuff that supposedly makes your kid smarter) and and sat down on the rocker that had been in the room since she was a baby. I situated Claire on my lap and rocked her back and forth rubbing her back and humming along with the music. Pretty soon after her breathing deepened and I knew she was asleep. Before I knew it I was falling asleep too. The next thing I know I am awoken by Thomas gently picking Claire up and placing her in her bed. I stand up and yawn, but I'm so tired I can hardly walk straight Thomas puts his arm around me and I don't care that this should feel awkward I just mold into the side of his body. I still have on my short blue dress from the party, but when I walk into his room Thomas has a pair of old gym shorts and a big tee shirt waiting for me on his bed. I start walking to the bathroom then remember that there's a tricky zipper on my dress that I'm gonna need help with. So I quickly turn back around and Thomas has already taken of his shirt. He's not Taylor Lautner, but that's never really been my style before anyway, He has an outline of a six pack that only a baseball player has, just right. He gives me a look and then I get beat red "sorry, I just, um I need help with this zipper. I turn around and pull my hair out of the way. His hands are warm against my skin as he glides the zipper down. About half way down he stops and runs his hand on the skin of my back, it gives me goose bumps. Then he slowly pulls the rest of the zipper down. I don't even know what to do. I'm so awkward and clumsy and not sexy I don't know! I've never been alone with a boy in his room late at night taking off my clothes, even if it is Thomas. It turns out I don't really need to think because Thomas takes the straps of my dress and pushes them off my shoulders. He pulls me closer to him from behind and kisses my cheek, then my jaw then right below my ear then my neck. I turn around and face him, look him in the eye and kiss him without letting myself think too much. Without his shirt on he feels good. I feel his hands pull the rest of my dress down and he pulls away staring at me in my black bra that has a little bit of lace on it and my black bikini undies. Like I said, normally I'm the only person seeing these. Thomas notices how uncomfortable I feel with him staring at me and says "It haven't seen this much of you since the beach incident." of course he was alluding to that kiss we shared four years ago! "shut up" I say before capturing his lips with my own. His hands start moving up and down my arms sensually, I have never been touched like this before ever, but I like it. My hands move from his chest and neck to his hair and shoulders. We move closer and closer to the bed and it makes me really nervous because well I've never done that before. Against my better judgement I lay down on the bed and Thomas follows, he's on top of me now but all his weight is put on his arms and knees. At this point I'm sure he's given me a few hickeys. Then I don't know what happens but I freak out. I push Thomas onto his back and straddle his waist and pin his arms against the bed next to his head. "ugh okay, who knew you would be so domin-" I cut him off by putting a finger to his swollen lips "shh" I whispered, his parents were only down the hall, I don't know how to say it so I just blurt it out: "Immavirgin" I say it so fast it slurs together. "what?" Thomas asks, I slap his chest out of frustration "a virgin! I'm a virgin, okay? Ugh geez! I avoid eye contact and slide off of Thomas and onto my back just out of reach from Thomas. I stare at the ceiling "this is so embarrassing" I say while pinching the bridge of my nose. He just looks at me for a few seconds then says as casually as possible "me too" "yeah right, I know that you dated that girl Christina, you definitely had sex with her, I'm not stupid Thomas." He sighed "We didn't have sex, she just let me tell everyone we were having sex. She was and I quote 'totally committed to her commitment to God to stay pure until marriage' or something like that" "oh" is all I said. I totally didn't believe him. "you don't believe me do you?" "nope" short, sweet and to the point. Before he said anything he rolled on top of me and we were eye to eye "Laraena, I am a virgin. I'm not exactly shouting it from mountain tops but I am, unfortunately." I hated when he called me Laraena. Only Sherri was allowed to call me Lareana. "don't call me that" he didn't say anything he just leaned down and kissed me. Then he kissed my neck, then started moving lower to my collarbone the top part of my boob, my stomach, all the way to the tops of my undies. He's sendng me mixed signals. "Look Lo, no pressure okay, you deserve to have some fun." "what does that mean? That I'm just a hook up?" I asked with a little bit of an attitude coming out. "Lo, we don't need to DTR at 4:30 in the morning, all I'm saying is maybe we can work something out as far as this goes." I didn't know how to respond so I didn't I just waited for him to roll off of me and then I hopped up and grabbed the clothes that were now on the floor and went into the bathroom and changed and washed my face, I emerged fresh faced and exhausted. Thomas was just in boxers and was turning off his phone when I walked out. I walked over to the bed and climbed in. I closed my eyes and prayed for peaceful sleep. I heard Thomas pad to the bathroom a few minutes later he emerged and flicked the light off and slipped into bed next to me. I felt his arm wrap around me and pull me closer to him. I hadn't slept next to Thomas in years, but it felt like home, or at least part of home.

Author's note: I'm not really sure where this is going or if I should just leave it here... is this only a one-shot? I don't know ugh help me... help me I'm poor lol *Bridesmaids*