They say you can't buy happiness, but you can buy ice cream and that's kinda the same thing. I was swinging back and forth on the swing, the tops of my feet dragging into the sand. It was freezing outside but I didn't care cause I had my strawberry flavored ice cream. I don't care what anybody else says, it's never too cold for ice cream. Never.

The girls and I were currently at the park. School was over and we didn't have any homework to do so we decided to chill a little. Next to me Anna was swinging in the air while Olivia pushed her. Lauren and Sophie were sitting on a bench right in front of us. And Kylie was chatting my ears off as usual.

"Oh my god. It was soooo hot. The way he tore off his shirt, and his muscles bulged. It was like that guy from the Coca-Cola commercial."

I turned my head to look at Kylie, seeing her stare up the sky with a dreamy look.

"Seriously Jade, we're so jealous of you right now," Olivia commented.

I rolled my eyes as I took another bite from my ice cream. "Hellooo! Need I remind you that I was suffering from a nose bleed?"

Kylie sighed. "And the way he came to your aid like you were some damsel in distress and he was gonna be your savior."

I wrinkled my nose in disgust. "I wasn't a damsel in distress. And you girls need to get your heads out of the clouds, it wasn't that hot. So what, you've never seen a guy without his shirt on?"

"This wasn't just a guy, it was coach Thomas. He's smoking. Even the teachers talk about him," Sophie said.

"Sophie the man could be your dad."

She gave me a look like I had grown a second head. "If you don't think coach Thomas is hot then something's seriously wrong with you."

"Maybe your eyesight is just terrible," Anna said.

"My eyesight is perfectly fine." Thank you very much. "I'm not saying he's bad looking, he's handsome but he's not that handsome either."

"But have you seen his abs," Kylie pressed.

"So?" I shrugged. "What's so special about that?"

Olivia stopped pushing Anna and switched with her. "You know Jade, maybe he's not your type."

"Yeah," Anna agreed. "Maybe you fall for a different kind of boys."

"All boys suck – they smell, they're loud and rowdy, they never wear matching socks, they eat everything, and they never clean up after themselves."

Kylie pulled a face. "You make them sound like animals."

"That's cause they are! You should come live a day in my house and see what I go through every day."

"Don't give them any ideas," Lauren shot me a knowing smile.

Sophie jumped up excitedly. "We should do a sleepover!"

"Oh my god yes!" Anna beamed. "We totally should."

"We can watch some movies, eat candy all night long, gossip about everyone at school, and do each other's hair and make-up," Kylie suggested.

I stopped licking my ice cream.

"Uhm," I didn't know if this was such a good idea. I didn't mind having the girls over at my house, it's just that I share that same house with three other testosterone filled human beings and I wasn't sure how that was gonna turn out. Last time Lauren and I had a sleepover, we didn't get a wink of sleep because Ashton was 'wrestling' with some chick in his room – if you know what I mean, please don't make me say it.

"How about next weekend, at my house," Lauren proposed.

Knowing that she sensed my doubt I shot her a grateful smile for going first.

"Perfect!" Anna clapped her hands. She was way too excited about this.

Should I tell her that I fall asleep pretty early? I'm boring as hell.

"So, Angela's coming back Monday," Olivia commented oh so casually.

I shot her a glare. Must she always remind me of that.

I let out a heavy sigh. "Awesome."

"Don't worry we're gonna be around all the time," she quickly reassured me.

"Uhuh, to get to you she has to go through us first," Sophie winked.

I couldn't help but smile, that was really sweet of them.

"I don't think she'll pull anything after what she did. She must be really stupid to go out of line again."

Kylie scoffed at what I said. "You forget it's Angela we're talking about. She has 'stupid' written all over her forehead."

"No Jade's right," Lauren spoke up. "This time she got off lightly. Next time Principal Frederiks won't hesitate to expel her for good."

Anna gasped. "I got a brilliant idea! Let's push Angela far enough so she'll snap and then Frederiks will kick her out – "

"That's a stupid idea, Anna," I interjected as I put my feet down to stop the swing. "You want to give her a reason to hunt us down and kill us in our sleep? No, let's just stay cool and pretend she's not there, and hopefully she'll do the same."

"Fine, but if your idea doesn't work, we'll go with mine."

"Yeah, yeah," Olivia waved her off.

I finished my ice cream before jumping off the swing. I could feel the sand trickling inside my shoes but I ignored the urge to take them off. I'll wait when I get home – speaking of getting home.

"I gotta go." I grabbed my backpack and adjusted my skirt.

"Already?" Lauren said.

"Yeah, my brother made reservations at some restaurant today and he said he'd kick our butts if we were too late."

"Okay, well I'll walk with you. It's getting dark and my mom hates when I stay out too late."

I waved at the girls. "See you tomorrow at school!"

"Bye!"

FADED

Oh man I couldn't wait to take off my shoes – the sand made its way to my toes and let me tell you, nothing feels more irritating than having sand between your toes.

I grabbed the spare key hidden under our mailbox and opened the door. I kicked off my shoes and socks and frowned when I saw a pair of shoes I didn't recognize. The sneakers were too feminine and small to belong to one of my brothers. I dropped my bag and walked into the living room where I saw Noah in the couch with some girl straddling his waist. He was shirtless, she was shirtless and braless. Luckily they were dressed below the waist but it didn't take away the fact that there was too much smooching and moaning for my comfort.

I let out a surprised sound before covering my eyes with my hand.

"Oh shit," Noah cursed.

I heard a thud followed by the girl's shriek. I bet he pushed her right to the floor.

"Oh sorry, Stella," he said, breathless.

She giggled nervously. "I'm okay."

"I'll just go upstairs and … disappear," I said, blindly making my way out of the living room. I took a sharp turn and bumped against the wall. I winced when it touched my healing nose.

"No, no it's fine," the girl said. "I should go anyway."

"You sure?" Noah asked.

"Yeah, no problem." Several seconds passed before she cleared her throat. "You can open your eyes now."

Was she talking to me?

I slowly peeked through my fingers making sure she wasn't flashing anything I didn't want to see. Fortunately she was dressed so I dropped my hand.

She gave me a little wave. "Hi, I'm Stella. You must be Jade, right?"

"Hi," I offered a polite smile. "Yes, I'm Jade. Nice to meet you."

Stella giggled – not the annoying kind but the sweet kind. She turned to my brother. "Your sister's really cute."

He ran a hand through his hair, trying to straighten it. "Yeah she is. Don't say it too much though or her head'll explode."

Stella laughed softly. "Well, I'll see you tomorrow. Bye Jade, I apologize for the inconvenience. I promise it won't happen again."

"Not in the living room it won't," Noah muttered under his breath. "C'mon I'll walk you out."

I was about to sit on the couch but remembering what I had walked in to just a minute ago, I decided against it and took a seat on the loveseat instead. I could hear their muffled voices at the front door and then the large breaks which only lead me to believe their tongues were probably too busy doing something else than talk.

I grabbed the remote and turned on the tv to drown the lovey dovey sounds.

Another ten minutes passed before Noah joined me. He stood behind me and grabbed my face to press a big smooch on my forehead.

"Ew, do not kiss me with those same lips you just kissed her with! That's nasty!" I recoiled, pushing him off.

Noah just laughed before plopping down on the couch with a content smile.

After wiping off the trail of his lips on my forehead, I turned to look at him. "New girlfriend?"

"Maybe, I usually wait a week or two before I use that title."

"She looks really nice."

"I only attract nice girls," he smirked.

That was true. All the girls Noah had ever been with were always kind and very sweet. He truly had a gift when it comes to choosing girls – Ashton could learn from that. Ashton's standards were really low, if it had big boobs and long legs, he was all game. But Noah was smarter than that, one day he'll make me a proud aunt of adorable chubby babies.

"She's pretty too," I said. From what I saw she looked prettier than average – wavy brown hair, green eyes, a body to die for. Man, I can't wait for puberty to hit me like that too.

"Oh I know she is," he grinned.

"Where did you guys meet?"

"At school. She's a new student, she just moved here like a month ago."

"I knew I'd seen her somewhere. So when are you gonna tell the rest about your new girlfriend?"

He gave me a look that said I had to be patient. "When she's officially my girlfriend."

A cheeky smile tugged at my lips. "So, is this like a secret?"

He let out a heavy sigh. "What do you want?"

"Can I use your computer this week?"

"Fine." He picked his head up when he heard Jordan's car pull up at the driveway. "And you don't breathe a word about this or our deal is off."

"Got it," I nodded. "Uhm Noah? You might wanna put your shirt back on and wipe away the lipstick on your neck."

"Dammit." He practically leaped over the couch and made a beeline to his room.

I stood up on the loveseat right as Jordan entered and jumped in his arms, taking him by surprise.

He startled but didn't drop me. "A little warning next time."

"Hey, Jordy," I smiled, kissing his cheek.

"Hey, sweetheart," he smiled back as he adjusted me in his arms. "Where's Noah?"

"Upstairs, he'll be back in a minute."

"We gotta hurry it up. Tristan already called me like a million times, apparently we're late again."

"What's the rush?"

He put me down and took off his jacket to were his more casual coat. "He said he got something to tell us."

"Last time he said that, he moved out."

Jordan raked his fingers through my curls. "I'm sure it'll be good new this time."

"Hey," Noah suddenly said. "I'm ready."

"Okay, let's go," Jordan grabbed his keys and motioned for us to start walking.

"Shotgun!" Noah shouted.

"Oh come on! Jordannnn," I whined.

"I'm sorry, hun. You gotta be faster next time."

Noah snickered, wiggling his eyebrows at me.

I stomped on his foot. "Jerk."

"Hey!" he winced in pain even though I knew I didn't even graze him. "Jordan she hit me."

"Be a man about it, Noah," he grumbled as he revved up the engine.

Now it was my turn to wiggle my eyebrows.

FADED

Arriving at our destination, I got out of the car and shivered when a cold gust of wind flew right against my face.

Jordan held my arm as we crossed the street. "Jade did you forget your scarf and hat again?"

"Obviously."

He lightly smacked the back of my head. "Don't get smart with me. You know you get sick easily."

"I know, I won't forget it next time." I hope the annoyance didn't sound through my voice.

As we walked to the restaurant I instantly noticed Ashton leaning up against the wall on the sidewalk, smoking a cigarette. As soon as he caught my eye, he threw it away before giving it a good stomp with his foot.

"It's about damn time," he grumbled.

"What are you doing outside?" Noah was the first one to ask.

"Waiting for you guys, you dumbass."

"You're a dumbass," was Noah's poor comeback. "I'm gonna head inside, I'm freezing my balls off out here."

Jordan put a hand on my back. "Jade, why don't you head inside too. We'll be right there."

I followed Noah inside while Ashton and Jordan kept talking in hushed tones. What were they talking about?

Tristan's eyes lit up when he saw me. "Oh if it isn't the light of my life, the moon to my stars, the sea to my – "

"Tristan shut up," I muttered. I could feel the heat rise up to my cheeks and I wished he'd just stop drawing attention to us already.

"Aww, were you talking to me?" Noah joked.

"C'mere pretty boy, bout time you showed up." Tristan grabbed Noah, doing that man-hug where they shook hands and bumped their chests together while slapping each others' backs. Boys.

Someone came to take our coats but I didn't notice cause I was too distracted with the person sitting right next to Tristan. Penelope.

What the hell was she doing here? I thought this was family time.

I snapped out of my train of thoughts when Noah shoved me into Tristan's arms who apparently was still waiting for my hug.

"How's my favorite girl doing?" he said after kissing my cheek.

Plastering a smile on my face, I hugged him back. "I'm good."

"I see the gauze is off," he pointed at my nose. "Looks still cute as a button." He playfully bumped his nose against mine.

"Yup," I giggled.

"Hey Penny, how you doing?" Noah asked. But I could sense that he only said it out of respect for our brother.

"I'm good," she smiled.

"I like your dress," I complimented. She was wearing a long sleeved black dress that hugged her body in all the right places.

"Mhmm," she merely nodded with a tight lipped smile.

Did she think I was lying or something? I meant what I said, it really looked good on her.

Tristan patted the empty chair on his left side. "You sit right here, this way I have the two most beautiful girls on my arms. Lucky me, huh?"

I just nodded, feeling uncomfortable for some reason. Maybe it was the sand still stuck in my shoes, or maybe it was the looks Penny kept throwing me. I didn't understand what her problem was, I could just sense something hostile in her eyes. Unfortunately we were sitting at a round table so there was no way I could ignore her gaze.

"Sorry we're late," Jordan said with Ashton right behind him. "Even though we're right on time."

Tristan pulled his sleeve up to check his watch. "Actually you're eight minutes late."

Jordan shot him the famous are-you-kidding-me-right-now? look.

"You're in my seat," Ashton said to Noah who was sitting next to me.

"What?"

"Go squat over there."

Noah looked up to face him. "You go squat over there."

"Dude, don't make a big deal out of it, just go sit there."

"You're the one making a big deal out of this," he shot back.

Jordan dropped his hand behind Noah's neck. "Noah, just take the other seat. Please."

He huffed and gave Ashton a pointed look before taking the only empty seat between Jordan and Penny.

Ashton sat down next to me and that's when it suddenly dawned on me. The reason he made a big deal out of it is because he clearly didn't want to sit next to Penny.

Interesting …

Someone came to take our orders and I had yet to calm my nerves. Apparently I wasn't the only one, Ashton kept messing around with the knife in his hand as if he wanted to cut the tension in the air. Penelope was staring in our direction but I didn't know if she was looking at me or Ashton. Something was definitely going between the two.

Everyone was just doing small talk, asking about work and school. I just wished they would cut to the chase and just tell us the news already. The fact that Tristan brought Penny along made me more scared than nervous.

Our order came and everyone dug in, I couldn't eat – my stomach was up in knots but I forced some small bites of my food just to please my brothers.

"So what's the big news?" Noah finally asked. Thank god.

"Well," Penny started and I found myself holding my breath. "I just wanted to celebrate the fact that I found a new job at Creston High. I'll be starting next Monday as the new coach of the girls in seventh and eighth grade."

"Good for you," Ashton mumbled under his breath.

I had hoped nobody heard him but Tristan cleared his throat so I knew he did.

"So, uhm you'll be teaching us too?" I asked.

"I will."

"Cool," I simply said. If I said more I'd be unable to mask the annoyance and dread gnawing at me.

"Also, we're moving out of the apartment," Tristan announced.

I looked at Jordan. Told you so.

"Where you gonna go?" Jordan questioned.

Penny put down her glass of wine as she answered. "We found a cute little house not too far from Creston High. The apartment was too far away from work."

"But that means that now Tristan has to hit another extra twenty minutes to get to his work."

"Relationships are all about making sacrifices, Jordan," she smiled.

Jordan clenched his jaw as he looked at Tristan instead. His gaze said it all – really?

Tristan ran a hand through his sandy blonde hair, a nervous habit of his. "Look at it the good way, now I'll be living closer to you guys."

I guess that's nice. But then again, that means Penny was closer too. I didn't mind having Tristan over every day, he was my brother whom I loved very much, but Penny? Not so much. Oh my god, I don't think I could handle this – seeing her at school almost every day was bad enough already.

"So that's it? That was the big news?" Noah said with a full mouth. He chuckled, "Man, for a moment I thought you were gonna say you're gonna be a dad or something."

Tristan and Penny exchanged a look and I felt my stomach twist.

"Actually, there's more," Tristan started to say.

I swear everyone around the table froze. Our eyes were on our brother like a hawk and I seriously thought I was gonna throw up any second.

"You're not pregnant are you?" Noah looked at Penny, almost begging her to say no.

She took a deep breath while all of us probably held ours. "No, I'm not."

I heard everyone breath out in relief. I however couldn't breathe until someone started talking already.

"We, uhm," Tristan cleared his throat, "We got engaged."

Noah nearly choked on his food. Jordan just morphed into a statue, shocked. Ashton was muttering curse words I'd never heard in my life. And I, I just barely held my tears back. My brother Tristan, who's the sweetest guy on earth decided to live his life with Penelope, my future sister in law, who doesn't even deserve a good guy like him! What the hell was he thinking? What about the fight they had not too long ago? What about that day he told me he was gonna take it slow and not force anything, that if it isn't meant to be, it isn't meant to be.

"Are you sure about this?" Jordan questioned after recovering from his shock.

"Yeah," Tristan breathed, "It just feels like the right thing to do."

"The right thing to do isn't always the best thing to do."

"You guys don't look too happy about this."

Ashton scoffed but didn't say more.

Penny tucked some hair behind her ears. "If you think we're doing the wrong thing, just say it."

Yes, you're doing the wrong thing, you bitch!

Jordan put his hands up. "You're both adults, I'm sure you both can make adult decisions."

Tristan nodded slowly before looking at Noah. "What do you think buddy?"

Noah looked like a deer caught in headlights. "Uh, I mean if that's what you want. I guess it's okay … ?"

"Ashton?"

"Are you seriously fucking asking me right now?"

Tristan luckily didn't dwell on it and his eyes flickered to mine. "Jade?"

"I – I – " I wanted to shout at him he was making a mistake, she wasn't the one that would make him happy, the right one will come but she wasn't it. But looking at his eyes I knew that wasn't what he wanted to hear. He was hopeful and I didn't want to crush his high spirits. He truly believed he found the one, I just hoped for him he was right. "I'm really h-happy for you guys."

He frowned. "Then why are you crying?"

I was crying? I quickly grabbed my napkin and dabbed the tears away. "Oh that's just tears of joy." I forced a smile on my face and I wished he couldn't see my true feelings hiding beneath the surface.

"Congratulations I guess," Jordan said. But even I could tell he wasn't all too happy about it either.

"Thanks," Penny smiled at all of us.

What the hell was she up to?

FADED

I couldn't sleep that night. I kept thinking about the bomb Tristan dropped on us. Just the thought of him throwing away his life for some low life bitch like Penelope made my blood boil but also my heart ache. Maybe Penny was different when she was around him, maybe she was sweet and kind with Tristan. Or maybe she used some kind of twisted voodoo on him, hypnotizing him into believing he was in love with her. Or you know, maybe Tristan wasn't as smart as I thought he was. They say love makes you blind, well in his case it definitely made him loose his mind too.

I hated school but I don't think I'll be able to survive the next years. Four days till Monday, the day I dreaded so much. First there was only Angela to worry about, but now Penny was there too – and I couldn't just pretend she was just my brother's girlfriend, she was his freaking fiancée now! Now all those times I wished they'd break up was for nothing. They were now committed to each other, for eternity.

Groaning, I buried my head deeper into my pillow. Maybe this was just some nightmare.

The handle of my door squeaked as someone walked in. The door closed softly and light footsteps made its way to my bed.

"Scoot over."

I rolled over until my back hit the wall. Ashton stripped down to his sweats before climbing in next to me.

"Can't sleep either?"

"No." He tucked one arm behind his head and dropped his other arm on his stomach. "This is so fucked up."

"I know," I whispered.

"He can get any girl he wants, and he goes for that stuck up bitch?"

"Maybe he'll change his mind before it's too late."

Ashton snorted. "I doubt it. It's like she has him under her spell. The freak."

"How about we talk to him, without Penny of course," I suggested.

"You can try, but he won't listen to me." Ashton's hand find its way to my hair where he twirled some curls around his fingers. "He never listens to me."

I looked up at him in confusion. It was too dark too make out his face but I knew sorrow was etched on his face. "What do you mean?"

He sighed. "Nothing, just go back to sleep JJ."

"I see the way she looks at you, the way you look at her."

"Jade," he warned me to shut up.

"Ashton, if I can see it, it won't be long before the rest will see it too."

He rubbed a hand down his face and turned quiet. I thought he was gonna keep his lips sealed and ignore me, so I closed my eyes willing myself to sleep.

"Can you keep a secret?" He suddenly said.

I snapped my eyes back open and nodded. "I never told anyone about the stash you hide behind my dresser. Or that time you smoked inside with a cigarette in your hand and almost set our house on fire."

He let out a long, heavy breath. "Alright. So remember when I came back home drunk?"

"You mean like every day."

He pinched my arm.

"Ow!"

"Shh, keep quiet." He rubbed my arm as if that was gonna take the pain away. "Anyway, I went to this party like a month ago. I was hammered and I might've smoked something."

"You were high and drunk. What else is new?"

"Shut up, I'm talking. As I was saying, I was smashed. As you can imagine, there were also girls around. So obviously I fucked a few – I don't remember much of it, I think one of them fell asleep while I went down on her – "

"Okay Ashton, please stop right there," I cut him off in disgust. "Is this like that story about the time you lost your virginity? That was way too detailed and I still can't get the image out of my head. And that was five years ago."

He just chuckled. "It's a beautiful natural act between two people, Jade."

"It's disgusting, how would you feel if I talked about me and some guy – "

"That's not gonna happen," he interjected. "That's never gonna happen, you gonna die a virgin."

"That's not up to you."

"As a brother I have that right. It's the law, look it up."

"What if I want kids someday."

"Buy them."

"You mean adopt them?"

"Same thing. Now shut up, I'm not done yet."

I just rolled my eyes.

"So as I was saying, some girl and I were fornicating when I suddenly realize – hey, I know this girl."

I gasped. "No. No, are you gonna say what I think you're gonna say."

"Unfortunately, yes."

"Ash!" I punched him hard on the shoulder. "You had sex with Penny!?"

He slapped a hand over my mouth. "Keep your voice down. And I didn't know it was her until she opened her fucking mouth."

"That's no excuse! What the hell was she even doing there?" I muffled behind his hand.

"The hell should I know! I only know that unlike me, she wasn't smashed at all. She knew exactly what she was doing."

"This is bad."

"Oh it gets worse – you ever wondered why she got fired at that fitness center?"

"She said something about her boss being too touchy feely."

He scoffed. "Yeah, more like the other way around. He caught her sleeping around with the clients."

My jaw slacked. "Oh fuck."

"Don't say fuck, little girls don't say fuck."

"I think I'm entitled to curse this time," I fired back. "Also I'm not a little girl. So did you tell Tristan?"

He pushed his black hair back and sighed. "I already told you, he won't listen to me. He thinks I'm making it up and that I'm only trying to ruin their relationship."

"So what are we gonna do? We can't let him stay with someone who cheats on him all the time."

He turned on his side to face. "We're not gonna do anything. It'll come out eventually."

"Does Jordan know? And Noah?"

"No, and you better not tell them or you'll be sorry," he threatened.

"But Ash, we have to tell them," I pressed on.

He dropped his hand on the side of my face, his thumb brushing my eyebrow. "Let's just wait this out. Maybe that was before, maybe she has changed now. I haven't caught her with anybody else ever since we hooked up so maybe she came to her senses."

"I doubt it," I mumbled. "I hated her before, but I don't think I can stand looking at her now."

He smiled in sympathy. "Yeah, me too. I just wanna punch her in the face every time I see her."

I laughed softly. "Maybe you could knock some sense into Tristan." Poor him, she was walking all over him, taking advantage of his trust. She deserved to rot in hell.

"I'll try." Ashton pulled the covers over my shoulders. "Go to sleep, you got school tomorrow."

"I don't think I can sleep after everything that happened today."

"Turn around."

I rolled over to my other side, my back facing him. I felt his hands crawl up my back, tracing patterns and a little smile tugged at my lips. When I was younger, I always fell asleep with someone running their fingers on my back. He remembered.

I yawned. "Goodnight."

FADED

Monday came fast. Way too fast.

I was stressed and the only thing that could help me relieve some of that stress was cooking. I made waffles, eggs, bacon, fruit salad, and much more. I was about to make a milkshake when a pair of large hands pulled me away from the counter.

"Alright, that's enough," Jordan said as he made me sit at the kitchen table. "I think you made breakfast for a week."

"I'm not done yet, I forgot the toasts – "

"Jade," he knelt down to my eye level, "It's gonna be okay, baby. You need to relax."

"I am relaxed."

He grabbed my fiddling hands. "You're not. Just calm down, everything's gonna be just fine. Angela's smart enough not to make the same mistake twice. And I know you're not looking forward to have Penelope around either, but it'll only be in PE. And who knows, maybe it'll turn out better than you thought it would."

I bit my lip. "I hope so."

"How about I let you give Mom a call after school, huh?"

I hadn't spoken to her since that day we visited her. I think it'll do me some good to know how she was doing. She was in a bad place and I really hoped she'd find her way out of it.

I nodded. "Okay."

He shot me reassuring smile before kissing my forehead.

"Wow," Noah nearly shouted when he saw the table filled with a variety of food. "Are we celebrating something?"

"We're celebrating my last day."

He shook his head at me, chuckling. "Don't be so dramatic. Besides, I'll be around, I won't let anything happen to you."

I made him a plate of pretty much everything. "Here, cause you're a good brother."

"What about me?" Ashton said as he joined us too.

I made him a plate too. "You're a good brother too, but not half as good as Noah."

He just laughed. "Love you too, munchkin."

I noticed Jordan eying me as he sipped from his coffee. He pointed at my own plate and I internally groaned. I grabbed a waffle and drenched it with syrup. It took me ages to finish it, but at least I finished it.

"Good girl," Jordan ran a hand down my hair. "C'mon, get ready for school."

I stood up and started cleaning up the table, anything to stall. Ashton stopped me as he grabbed my hand.

"Leave it, I'll do it."

"No, it's alright."

"Jade," he smiled, amused. "You're gonna be fine."

I swallowed hard.

"C'mere." He stood up and wrapped me in one of his rare hugs. "You're a tough girl, you can handle yourself. If Angela or even Preston look at you the wrong way, lemme know and I'll make them disappear."

"You can't kill them," I mumbled into his shoulder.

"Who said anything about killing?" he pulled away, his eyes flickering between mine. "Also, if Penny's giving you hell, tell her to go fuck herself instead of other men."

"That's not funny," I said, even though the corners of my lips did twitch.

He poked my cheek. "I spot a dimple."

"Hey!" Noah called out standing at the front door where he pulled on his bomber jacket. "If you want shotgun, I'd hurry up if I were you."

Ashton pushed me towards the door. "Have fun!"

I took a deep breath. Alright, here goes nothing.

A/N: Don't forget to review, it would absolutely make my day :D