Chapter 8

Ethan.

My alarm blared in my ear. I groaned and rose from my bed. I trudged down the steps and sat at the kitchen stool. Mom flounced into the kitchen with an apron around her waist and a smile on her face.

"Good morning honey." She said. "Why are you up so early? It's the weekend." Shit. I forgot to turn my alarm off last night.

"Beats me." I said. I stood from the stool and poured myself a cup of coffee. "Where's Riley?" I asked.

"She went out." She said. I looked at the clock. It was only 7.

"Why so early?" I asked.

"She went to go meet someone." She said. A pang of jealousy ran through me. Who was she going to meet? I pushed it down quickly and asked my next question.

"Who is she meeting?" I asked.

"Some friend from New York was coming down to visit. They were staying at a hotel here and Riley took your truck to go pick her up." Riley had gotten her full license last week. It was December and Christmas break was in a week.

"What's her name?" I asked.

"He and she I think." Another pang of jealousy.

"What are their names?" I asked again.

"Brit and Cole." She said. "They're staying here for the week." She said. Just then the engine of my truck roared up the driveway. I looked out the window.

A girl with red dyed hair came out from the back. She dress the same way Riley did. She pulled a cigarette out of her pocket and lit it. A boy came out next. He had brown hair and a friendly face. He took the cigarette out of the girl's hand and put it in his mouth. Riley came from the front and walked around. She took the cigarette from the boy. I thought she was going to put it out. Instead she put it in her mouth and sucked in a deep breath. She handed the cigarette back to the boy. He put it out and handed it back to the girl. Riley came up to the front door. She opened it. The girl and boy followed her in.

"Hey guys. These are my friends Brit and Cole." She said. I glared at them. Riley gave me the What the heck? look and turned back to her friends. "This is Annie, the one who accepted me in the internship, and this is her son Ethan." She said. Great. So now all I was was Annie's son. I kept glaring. Cole stared at me.

"Does he have a problem?" he asked Riley.

"No!" Riley yelled. At least she was defending me. Brit looked at me.

"You're kinda cute. How old are ya?" she asked smiling. Mom looked really awkward.

"18." I said and turned around. Brit made a purring noise and started talking to Riley about something.

"I can show you guys to your rooms." Riley said. She started up the stairs. "Ethan can you get their bags out of the truck for me please?" she asked from the top of the stairs. I sighed. Luggage was always my job. I walked to the truck and grabbed their bags. I carried them in and walked up the stairs to the spare bedrooms. I walked into Brit's room first and set the girliest looking bag in there. She smiled at me. I stared at her then made my way to Cole's room. I opened the door just in time to see Cole press his lips against Riley's. I slammed the bag down.

"What the hell are you doing?" I asked. Riley jumped to the other end of the room. Cole smirked.

"Giving my girlfriend a kiss dumbass." He said. I looked at Riley. Her eyes were wide and she was shaking her head. I shook my head at her and walked up the attic. I heard Riley behind me. When she got up she closed my door.

"What the hell Riley! You lied to me!" I said. She shook her head. "Yes you did. You said you'd never had a boyfriend before!" I yelled.

"I didn't want you to know." Riley said.

"Why the hell not?" I asked.

"Because I got messed up in a bunch of stuff. I was embarrassed. When I left I dumped him but we still kept in touch. I don't love him like y—" she stopped herself.

"Like what?" I demanded.

"Nothing." She said defeated. She stared at me, tears filling her eyes. "When I was with Cole I got in a lot of trouble. I was stealing and lying and I'm not proud of myself." She started. I cut in.

"Yeah you were smoking too." I said. "Why do you do that? Were you trying to impress them?" I asked. Riley sighed.

"I know it's a nasty habit. I'm trying to stop." She said.

"Riley! Those words should never come out of a 16 year old girl!" I yelled.

"I told you! I got mixed up in a bunch of stuff with Cole. That's why I broke up with him." She explained.

"Then why is he here?" I asked.

"Because he's still one of my best friends. He was there when my parents died." She said. A tear slipped out of her eye. I crossed the room to her. I wiped the tear away.

"Don't cry." I whispered. She wrapped her arms around my torso.

"I'm sorry." She mumbled into my shirt. I smoothed her hair back.

"It's okay." I whispered. I put my finger under her chin and connected her lips with mine. She pressed her lips feverishly against mine. She bit onto my lip. I pushed her back until she hit the wall. She wrapped her legs around my waist. I smirked against her mouth. Her hands rose to my hair and she tangled her fingers in my brown locks. A throat cleared behind us.

"Am I interrupting?" Brit asked. We broke apart. "This makes a lot more sense." Brit said smiling. "But I wouldn't let Cole find out if I were you." She warned. Riley pulled out of the circle of my arms and walked back downstairs leaving me with Brit. "If you hurt her, I'll kill you." She said. With that she left. I ran my fingers through my hair.

What was Riley going to say? I really wanted to know. I'd have to ask her later when Cole and Brit weren't around. I left my room and walked down the stairs. Brit and Cole were sitting at the dining room table. Riley was in front of the microwave.

"What are you doing?" I asked Riley.

"Popping some corn." She said smiling. "We're going to watch a movie. You wanna watch too?" she asked. I smiled.

"Sure." I heard Cole scoff behind me.

"Hey dude are we allowed smoking in here? Riles said no." Cole said. I cringed a little at his nickname for her.

"Riles," I mimicked. "would be right. No smoking in or around the house." Cole leaned back in his chair.

"He is getting on my nerves." I whispered to Riley. She reached to the side and grabbed my hand.

"He's a good guy if you get to know him, Ethan. Give him a chance." I sighed.

"Only for you." I was going to lean down and kiss her cheek then I remembered what Brit said. I released her hand and sat down next to Brit. She nudged me under the table. I looked at her and she waggled her eyebrows. I rolled my eyes. The microwave beeped. Riley took it out. It was obviously hot because Riley started shaking her fingers and biting her lips. She jumped up and down. Cole and I both rose from the table but Cole got to her first. He took her hand in his.

"What did you do?" he asked.

"I burnt my fingers." She had that duh tone in her voice. He looked her in the eye. He leaned down and kissed each one of her fingers. Riley sent me an apologetic look. My fingers clenched and it took all my will power not to punch Cole in the face. He raised his head and leaned in to kiss Riley on the lips but she turned to the popcorn before he could. A smile rose to my face. She was still my girl.

We all went to the living room and turned on a movie. Riley and I sat next to each other under blanket holding hands. Every time Cole looked at us Riley would squeeze my hand. I heard the screen door open. Frankie appeared in the living room. Riley looked at me.

He could tell them. She mouthed. I nodded and stood up from the loveseat. I took Frankie by the wrist and dragged him from the room.

"Who are they?" he asked

"They're some of Riley's friends from New York. But that Cole guy's nuts. He thinks that Riley is still his girlfriend. We can't let him know that me and Riley are dating or one of us will lose a tooth. So don't spill the beans. Got it?" I said. Frankie nodded. We came back in the living room. They were all still watching the movie but Cole was sitting in my spot. I rolled my eyes and took his chair. Frankie sat next to Brit.

"Hey. I'm Frankie." He said. He stuck his hand out. Brit smiled and shook his hand.

"Brit." She said. He smiled and turned to the screen. Nobody talked as we watched the movie and when it was finished it was almost 1 o'clock. Riley stood up.

"Do you guys want to go out for lunch?" she asked. Everyone agreed. "Will you drive Ethan?" she asked. I nodded. "Then let's go." Everyone stood up and we all walked to the truck.

"I'm sorry about that." Riley said to me before I went outside. "I don't know what to say to him to make him back off. Every time I try he just ignores me." She said. I reached out and ran my hand up her arm.

"It's okay." I said. I kissed her cheek lightly and walked outside. I climbed in the drivers' seat and Riley sat next to me. Brit and Frankie sat in the back and Cole slid in on the other side of Riley. I clenched my jaw and tightened my fingers on the steering wheel. I started the car and drove to the nearest restaurant.

...

We ended up at Joe's. We got take out of burgers and fries and ate in the back of my truck at the cliff. Riley and I saw the tree and we threw each other a sideways glance at each other. We'd spent countless nights there but it was starting to get too cold. Snow still hasn't falling but the chill still lingered in the air. Cole kept making move after move on Riley. His hand would creep up her leg. She would push it back. His arm would wrap around her shoulder. She would move it off. Advance after advance and I was starting to get angry. Wasn't he getting the clue? I wanted so badly just to jump across the truck bed and take Riley in my arms. I wanted to kiss her and never let her go. But I wasn't sure how Cole would react to that so I stayed in my seat, sitting on my hands.

"Hey Brit." Cole whispered. Brit looked up at Cole.

"Yeah?" she asked.

"Do you still have that stash of beer in your purse?" She smiled mischievously.

"Are you an asshole?" she asked. He smiled.

"I take that as a yes." Brit reached in her purse and pulled out a few cans of beer. He popped the can open. He took a giant swig.

"Do you want some Riles?" Brit asked. Riley hesitated. She looked at me. I shook my head.

"No, I'm good." She said Brit stared at her wide-eyed.

"You always love a good beer. C'mon just one." Riley squared her jaw.

"No, Brit. I don't want a beer." Brit scoffed and rolled her eyes. Cole glared at me.

"Is it because of this ass right here? Is he going to tell on you or something if you have a beer?" he pointed at me. Riley shook her head.

"No Cole. I just don't want a beer." Cole rolled his eyes.

"There has to be a reason you always like your beer. Are you pregnant or something?" he asked. Riley's mouth dropped open.

"Do you guys really think that there has to be a reason for me not to want to get drunk and completely embarrass myself and maybe get caught by the cops? I don't want it. Get over yourselves." She sat back and crossed her arms. I discretely kicked Riley's foot. She looked up at me. I smiled and winked at her. She smiled back and went back to staring at her hands.

When we all finished we packed up and got in the truck. This time Riley sat next to me and everyone else sat in the back. I took Riley's hand and squeezed it to tell her I was proud. When we got back it was still only 3. Riley went and took a shower and Cole and Brit went to their rooms. I went up to mine and Frankie went home. I heard footsteps and looked in my doorway. Riley was standing with a towel wrapped around her. She had on hand holding it up and the other on the door.

"Hi." She said softly. "Can I come in?" she asked. I nodded. She shut my door behind her. She came and sat at the edge of my bed. "I don't want to go to my room. Cole's is right next to it." She finally said. Her hair was dripping. I went to my drawer and pulled out a shirt that was too big for me and handed it to her. She put it on over her towel. "Thanks." She pulled the towel off and put it on her head.

"Are you okay?" I asked. I stayed at the other end of my bed. For me naked girls were uncharted territory.

"Yeah I'm fine. I'm glad you were there. I would've eventually broken if you hadn't been there." I smiled. "Ethan, why are you all the way over there?' she asked. I sucked in a breath. This was embarrassing.

"Because, uh, girls need their space." I tried. She shook her head. She stood up. My blue shirt reached her knees. She walked towards me. She sat right in front of me.

"Is this scaring you?" she asked. Her breath was moving my hair and tickling my face. I nodded. "Well then this is just one more thing to learn while I'm here." She said. She leaned forward and kissed me lightly. She moved forward and sat on my lap. I wrapped my arms around her waist. I pulled back.

"Earlier when we were talking about Cole you said that you didn't love him like something. What were you going to say?" I admit, I was a little hopeful. Did she love me? She took in a deep breath.

"I was going to say I don't love him like I love you." She smiled. "I love you, Ethan." I kissed her neck.

"I love you too." I whispered. She smiled and pushed me back on the bed. She kissed me fiercely. I grabbed the back of her neck and flipped her over. I pushed myself up on my elbows. Her towel had fallen out and her hair was sprawled across my pillow. Her hands were pressed against my chest. Her eyes were full of love. "I love you." I whispered again. I leaned down and started to pepper kisses along her collarbone. She wrapped her arms around my neck. I bit down on her neck and a gasp escaped her lips. I heard someone coming up the stairs behind me. I quickly rolled off her but not before I saw the red mark on her neck start to purple. Oops. I reached forward and flipped her hair to the side that the bruise was starting to form. She saw what I was doing and covered up laugh. I got off the bed and walked to the door. Cole.

"Hey guys. What's up?" he asked, eyeing me. His eyes roamed my room. They landed on Riley in my shirt. "Cool place." He said. "Mind if I come in?"

"Sure thing." I said through my teeth. I opened the door wider and let him in.

"Hey Riles. What are you doing here?" he asked.

"Just talking to Ethan. We're in the same grade and I had a question about math homework." He raised his eyebrows.

"Cool." He said. He ran his hands along the wall. "What grade are you in?" he asked.

"Graduating." I said. Cole nodded slowly.

"I dropped out of school last year." Cole said. "So did Brit. We live in an apartment because our parents kicked us out." I looked at the clock. 4:30. I wanted this guy out of my bedroom.

"Well I was about to head downstairs," I started. Cole nodded and turned down the steps. Riley stood up. Her hair shifted and Cole saw the hickey.

"You asshole!" he yelled. He shoved me back. "You're screwing my girlfriend! I can't believe you! And you Riles! We're together! I love you and you cheated on me!" Riley stood between us. Brit appeared in the door.

"We aren't together Cole. I broke up with you before I left." She said. Cole's face turned red.

"I can't believe you. C'mon Brit. I'm outta here." He started to leave. Riley backed up to my nightstand and grabbed my can of pepper spray my mom had given me two years ago. Cole suddenly turned around. His fist was raised and it was coming to me. I was caught by surprise by how strong he was. I was flung back on the floor. Riley raised her hand with the pepper spray and got him right in the eye. I put my hand to my nose. Blood was flowing quickly from it. Cole's hands flew to his eyes as Mom ran up the stairs.

"Get out of my house Cole." She said. Cole opened his bloodshot eyes. He looked at me. The he looked at Riley.

"I hate you." He spat. "I never want to see you again." He turned around and shoved past a still Brit. "Move out." He said in her face. He ran down the steps. I heard the front door slam shut.

"Ethan, are you okay?" Riley asked. I nodded. She grabbed the Kleenex on my nightstand and held it to my nose. "Is your nose broken?" she asked. I shook my head. She put my head in her lap.

"Riley," Mom said. "Why are you in Ethan's shirt?" she asked. Riley's face turned red.

"I was in the shower and Cole was in the room next to mine and I didn't want to pass his room, so I came in here to borrow a shirt." Riley said still holding the Kleenex to my nose. Mom looked at me and I nodded. She huffed.

"I'll get some ice for your nose." She said. She left leaving me, Riley and Brit alone.

"I'm sorry." Brit said.

"What for?" Riley asked.

"Inviting him to come along." She said. "It was stupid. I thought you two were still friends." Riley sighed.

"We were. But people change." Riley said. She moved the Kleenex from my nose and put a new one on.

"I understand if you want me to leave." She said. Riley smiled.

"If you promise not to smoke, drink, steal, or lie, then you can still stay." Riley said. I nodded. Even though I hated Cole I didn't mind Brit that much. Mom returned with the ice and Riley held that to my nose.

"I promise." Brit said. After that we all went downstairs and turned the TV on. Riley made me put my head on her lap so she could still hold the ice to my nose to prevent the bruising. Brit went to bed and Riley shortly followed.

I walked up the stairs turning off the lights as I went. I collapsed in my bed. A few minutes later my door creaked open. It was Riley.

"Hey." She said. I sat up in bed.

"Hi." I moved over on my twin bed so she could sit by me.

"I'm sorry about Cole. I should've known he'd still be like this." She said.

"Still?" I asked. He had done this to her before?

"Yeah he was always really possessive over me."

"Did you guys ever, you know." I hoped she did know so I wouldn't have to say it. She nodded. It stung a little.

"We were drunk though. It didn't mean anything to me." She said. I believed her. She was a different person. I leaned over and kissed her.

"I love you." I said. She smiled and kissed me back.

"I love you too." We lay down and eventually just fell asleep. Finally I was starting to feel like the pieces were being put back together. She was becoming a better self. She sighed in her sleep and snuggled closer to my side. I brushed her hair aside. The purple mark that marked her as mine stood proud in the darkness. I leaned down and kissed it.

I loved this girl. I never wanted her to leave. I hugged her close to me and prayed that I would never have to let her go ever again, because I had a feeling that if I ever did she would break all over again and it would be my fault.

Riley's eyes started to open slowly. She looked up at me.

"What time is it?" she asked. I shrugged. I leaned down and captured her lips with mine. She bit down on my lip. With that distraction she flipped me over on my back. She leaned down and kissed my bare chest then rose again and kissed my neck. My hands were on under her shirt on her back. I squeezed. She gasped. I flipped her over and started to attack her neck. I flung her shirt off. I kissed her bellybutton. She grabbed my hair and I planted kisses all around her stomach.

"I love you." She whispered. Her hand flung out and knocked over my lamp. It knocked on the floor and crashed. She threw her head back and laughed. I smiled against her stomach. I kissed all the way up past her bra and kissed her neck lightly. I leaned up and took her lips in mine. She moaned. Her nails scraped down my back. I hissed in pain but I didn't want her to stop. She reached up and cupped my cheeks between her hands. We were both breathing heavily. I lifted my head up to catch my breath. Then I dropped it back down and kissed her neck again. Her legs wrapped around my waist, her nails scraping up and down my back. They would surely leave a mark tomorrow.

"I love you too." I panted. And I did. I loved her so much. She reached down and started to push my pyjama pants down. My head fell down. I groaned in the back of my throat. Were we ready for this? Was Riley ready for this?

"Riley I don't think we should..." I started. Just then I heard the door creak open. Riley's eyes widened and her hands stopped. I lifted my head. I was about to turn it around to see who was there was, but a very cranky, very tired, and very familiar voice told me who it was before I saw any faces.

"Ethan you're in trouble."

4000 words! This is why I haven't updated. To surprise you guys with a super long chapter. Yikes so Ethan's in a bit of trouble... This will be my last update for a while because I'm going to Disney World a week from today! It's my 7th trip but I'm still so excited. So tell me what you think by reviewing because I love it when you do. It'll help me write the next chapter because it might be happy, it might be sad... Thanks so much for your support and have a great rest of the summer.

~hourandahalf