Author's Note: For those of you who know me from the fanfiction site, I hope you enjoy this original story/book that I am co-writing with my sister. For those who don't know me, that's okay too. I hope you'll enjoy this as well.

I hope you will all take the time to read this and let us know what you think, good or bad. Thank you.

...

Friday, October 10, 2014

The group of friends watched as a young man staggered up to the line to throw the dart he held firmly in his hand.

"$20.00 says he doesn't even hit the board," Matthew remarked lightly of Josh Sanders who, at this point, was well past drunk.

A roar of unsuppressed laughter was heard beside Matt. "You're on," Brent gladly took on, having seen his best friend hit his mark at every level of intoxication. Matt would know that if he partied with them more often. "But let's add a zero to that and make it $200.00."

Matt heard the confidence in his brother's tone. He knew that tone. He should have known better than to challenge it. Yet, another look at Josh and his own confidence rose. The guy was seriously having a hard time just standing. If Josh and the rest of Brent's crowd weren't regulars, Josh surely would have been kicked out by now. He saw Josh stumble one more time, barely catching his footing. This was unquestionably the one time he'd finally win. He accepted the ante with a coolness that matched his brother's natural self-assuredness, and both boys turned to face Josh.

The dart was thrown, hitting a triple 20.

Brent smirked boastfully. He didn't know how Josh did it, but Brent was pretty sure he could play blindfolded. He held his hand out to collect his winnings.

The cash was grudgingly pulled out of Matt's wallet, counted, and slapped into Brent's hand. The money was not an issue—for either of them—and he wasn't angry. Not really. Even so, he shook his head. "How do you always win?" he asked.

"I'm smarter," Brent told him with a careless shrug.

"No," Matt denied with an eye roll. "It's just dumb luck."

"I'm wiser," Brent now stated, ocean blue eyes sparkling and a grin on his face, knowing losing bets to him was Matt's sore spot, mostly because, like Matt said, he always won. And who didn't love taunting their brother with their known weaknesses?

Matt rolled his eyes again. "Why? Because you're eight months older?" he returned.

Brent chuckled lightly and met his brother's brown gaze. "No, because you bet on chance," he revealed. "I bet on knowledge," he stated further before going on to explain. "I've seen Josh make that shot a thousand times, just as drunk."

"That's called swindling," Matt grumbled into his drink. "It shouldn't count when you only bet when you know you're gonna win."

Brent laughed now, a deep, hearty laugh, and tipped his bottle back for a drink of the cold, foamy beer.

Matt shook his head and did the same, downing it and off-handedly ordering another from the waitress passing by. The second one was much colder and went down much easier. He was still enjoying the bubbling effect as the beverage slid down his throat when he heard his brother speak again.

"Since you prefer brunettes, I'll take the blonde." He glanced up to see which direction his brother was looking. No surprise, the two just walking in the bar were gorgeous. Brent definitely had an eye and it was always roaming.

"Nice," Matt acknowledged, but that was as far as it would go for him. "But, like Julie would go for that," he returned. Honestly, he wouldn't want her to go for that.

"Like I would go for what?" her sweet voice asked. And Matt smiled because...well, because she was there. He took and returned the quick kiss she graced him with.

"A ménage-a-trois," Brent answered blatantly, amused by the annoyed glare flashed at him by his brother. It beat the goofy grin he'd been staring at his girlfriend with. Not that Brent disapproved of her or the fact that their childhood friend and his brother had started dating four months ago. It was more the fact that he was completely at ease with both of them and knew whatever he said could never damage the relationship the couple had developed. He didn't want to cause damage, but he did like to play and, again, taunting his brother was just plain fun.

Julie cocked an eyebrow. "A threesome?" she gasped. "You mean us three?" she questioned.

"You wish," Brent returned cockily, chuckling when her hand playfully slapped his chest.

"No," Matt replied, ignoring his brother's flirty jibe with his girlfriend. There was no changing Brent's easy, flirty manner with girls, including with his girlfriends—both past and present—and Matt had stopped letting it bother him right around the time he and Julie had begun. Probably because he always knew deep down that Brent was just playing and would never actually betray him. And Julie, well she wouldn't get all flustered and start crushing on his brother, like so many of his past girlfriends, just because the guy flashed her a smile and said a few words to her. To Brent, it had always been harmless, almost unintentional. To Matt, it had been infuriating. Not anymore. Because Julie was Julie, and she was all his. "He meant you and me," Matt went on, "and that brunette over there," he indicated with a thrust of his chin.

Julie looked over and wrinkled her nose at her boyfriend's brother. "Eww," was all she could think of to say. The girl was pretty, sure, but the last thing Julie needed was for Brent to put ideas in Matt's head and corrupt the sweet guy with his own womanizing ways.

Brent just laughed. "More for me," he commented with a casual shrug. "I can handle two, again."

Julie shook her head, but she had to smile despite herself. She loved this guy, she really did. She'd grown up with him and only hoped one day he would find the kind of love she and Matt had found with each other. He deserved that. Everyone deserved that. "You're sick, you know that, right?" she scoffed.

"Hey, don't knock it 'till you try it," Brent advised with a smugness that could only come from a guy sure of himself and of his own abilities.

But Matt and Julie weren't complaining. They'd take this Brent over the stranger he'd become last year, over the mess he'd been afterward, the mess he still was some days. This Brent was much closer to the Brent they'd grown up with, the Brent they both knew and loved.

The conversation took a turn when Josh stumbled up to them, leaning heavily upon Brent and Matt's shoulders, and began an incessant line of what one could only call senseless gibberish, dialogue about the shot he'd just made.

As his best friend rambled on—and on and on—Brent stole another glance at the girls. As previously assessed, they were both hot, but it was the one with the wild blonde curls that truly caught his eye and caused the mild, pleasant stirring in his loins. Not that he wouldn't take the brunette along with her. Like he'd told Matt and Julie, he could handle both, easily and gladly.

...

Standing at the bar, Alex Nickerson and Trevor Connors took the drinks the bartender handed them and ordered two more for their girlfriends, whom they'd been expecting and had just spotted walking in. Having overheard the not-so-quiet group just a few feet away from them, particularly the comments made about their girls, Alex shook his head in displeasure. "Could he be any more full of himself?" he muttered to his friend.

"That's Brent Malek for ya," Trevor returned, tossing some cash to the bartender as Alex did the same and they headed toward the girls. "I'm not worried," he continued carelessly. "Kara loves me."

Alex nodded his head agreeably. "Yeah, you've got nothing to worry about," he said aloud. 'Myself though...' he thought, despondently noting where his girlfriend's gaze lay, and worse, lingered.

...

From the moment she and her best friend, Kara Joans, entered the dimly-lit establishment, Tamara Woods felt a strange sense of energy sweep through her body. When their boyfriends had first suggested meeting there, she wondered how the bar scene would compare to a regular house party, and she hadn't been at all sure that she would like it. She'd had this negative image of bars, imagining them to be frequented by middle-aged, beer bellied men who hadn't yet grown up, groping and gawking at young, attractive, and uninterested young women.

At first glance, she could see she'd been partially right. Two men, standing outside smoking, had already cat-called them on their way in, not to mention made some crude and disgusting suggestions about what they could all do together. She'd shuddered at the thought, and it certainly hadn't quelled her already pessimistic assumptions.

But she'd allowed Kara and the boys, all of whom had reached legal drinking age ahead of her, to convince her to give it a chance before forming an opinion. She was already glad that she listened, for it wasn't just middle-aged men and barely legal women all around her. She noticed pretty quickly that the room was packed with men and women of all ages, though the general mass clearly centered around the younger crowd, creating a bustling and lively atmosphere.

Her eyes, as did Kara's, scanned the crowd for their boyfriends. But it wasn't her boyfriend who caught her attention. It was the 6'2 dark haired hottie standing beside the other dark haired, slightly shorter and slightly less hot hottie across the room. Her breath hitched in her throat and her green gaze unwittingly began a head-to-toe inspection of the magnificent creature.

She realized soon enough that he was watching her too and suddenly she felt a warming sensation creep up her cheeks. She'd been caught staring and she should look away, but she wasn't able to. The breath stopping view wouldn't let her tear her eyes away.

Until, that is, the sudden appearance of her boyfriend. She snapped out of her trance when he was right in front of her, not realizing that he too had witnessed her gawking at a guy who wasn't him. She might have felt bad had she known he'd seen such an exchange.

But she didn't know, and so she flashed him her brilliant smile. The smile that always set his heart racing. He smiled back, unable to do anything else, and handed her her drink while leaning in for a kiss before he and Trevor led the girls to a table.

...

Mitch Evans took Matt's order—a round for the table—and chuckled when Matt revealed it was on Brent's tab. "You got it," he said. "Looks like he'll need this too," he added, reaching under the bar and slapping a key onto the counter.

Mitch owned the Water's Edge, located about two blocks away from Fielding University and three from Fielding Community College. But it wasn't just a bar. It also hosted twelve single rooms upstairs that usually rented out every weekend. They were nothing fancy. Each room had a double bed with clean, fresh sheets and a bathroom. Mitch, now in his 40's, had bought this run down structure and remodeled it when he himself had just finished college. He was an easygoing, trustworthy man who befriended those who frequented his establishment, students and non-students alike. If he were to estimate, he'd say about 80% of his patrons were students between ages 21 and 25. He was such an honest man that regulars would set up tabs and leave him their credit card information, and at the end of the night, he would tally up their bill and charge the card accordingly.

He was all too familiar with Brent's ways, and judging by the public display of...flirtation? Lust? Certainly not affection, tonight would be no different than the numerous other nights Mitch had witnessed.

"You believe they just met like twenty minutes ago?" Matt pointed out.

"Yep, I believe it. I could use him as my wing man," Mitch half joked.

As Mitch began pouring the requested drinks, Matt turned toward the crowd and rolled his eyes at what he deemed inappropriate behaviour. He could remember a time when Brent actually respected women and dated those worthy of such value.

He heard his name being called and turned to find an acquaintance standing beside him, and engaged in that conversation.

...

The voluptuous blonde pressed against him and he eagerly responded by sliding his hands down to her back pockets and drawing her even closer. She may not have been his first choice of the night but she could satisfy his basic physical needs as well as any other. The alluring girl that had first caught his eye would have been tonight's conquest had he not opted out of making a move after seeing another guy kiss her. She was obviously taken and he wasn't one to step on another's toes.

He broke away from the responsive lips at the sound of the song 'She's Kinda Hot' ringing from his pocket. "I need to answer this," he said, disentangling himself from her arms.

"Hey. What's up...Yeah...Kay. On my way."

"I gotta go," he told no one in particular.

It was Julie who answered. "You don't have to," she countered.

Ignoring her concerned tone, he said, "Make sure Josh gets home ok."

Before Julie could respond, he was walking away. She shook her head in exasperation.

His abrupt departure did not go unnoticed by the beauty he'd first set his eyes on.

By the time Matt returned with the drinks, Brent had already disappeared. Looking from Julie to the fuming blonde now standing solo, and back to Julie, he gave his girlfriend a puzzled look, silently asking her where his brother had gone.

"He got a call," Julie told him. "He bounced."

Matt sighed heavily. "You mean he jumped."

"Yeah, same difference."

...

Author's Note: Thanks for reading guys. Any comments, good or bad, would be appreciated.