-Seven years earlier-

I needed candy. But I only had $1.03 in my pocket. That was a problem. But how much candy can a 5 year-old eat?


I was a terrible babysitter. And cousin for that matter. All I was asked to do was buy some candy for the girls when I came over to baby-sit them. It was little Melanie's 5th birthday today, and I had to watch her and sister while her mom got their house ready to be taken over by a bunch of kindergartners. But, honestly, their mom wasn't really preparing, she was bossing around all the people she had hired for the party. My aunt and uncle did well enough, so my little cousin was getting a bigger, better party then I'd ever had by a long shot.

Anyway, I was terrible a terrible babysitter. I needed candy for my youngest cousin, Stephanie, because she was having a little fit. Well, a big tantrum actually, Stephanie didn't just throw fits. But nothing a little sugar couldn't cure.

I moved away from the name brand snacks to the generic stuff. Any type of candy would be a treat Stephanie; my aunt was very much into healthy, organic food. None of the girls knew the goodness of artificial flavoring. No doubt cheap gummy bears would do just fine. I reached out for the last pack on the rack. My hand collided with someone else's. I just kind of held my hand on it for while as I looked up at the person who happened to grab the same bag of gummy bears as me. He was looking right at me, and the first thing I saw was hair. A lot of brown hair that was just messy, and not even in that cute styled sort of way. It was just plain messy. It instantly annoyed me.

I didn't let go of the bag and neither did he. He raised his eyebrows a little, as if to say 'do you mind?'

"Can you please let go?" I asked. I managed to keep any trace of annoyance from my voice. I was surprised when he didn't give up the gummy bears.

"Can you?" His voice was kinda raspy like how you talk after you've been sleeping for hours. I guess that would explain the hair.

"I had my hand on it first, and I'm pretty sure I need it more than you do." We both had our arms extended out toward the bag of gummy bears. I wasn't going to back down now that he was intent on having it.

"I think we grabbed this bag at the same time. If anyone got to it first, it was me." He said plainly; as though it were obvious. I looked straight into his eyes which happened to be the darkest brown I'd seen. Ever. I involuntarily looked him up and down. He was cute. It almost pained me to say he was really good looking, but he was coming off as a jerk.

Shaggy hair, a good head taller than me, with a lanky frame. He looked to be about my age or a year older. He had on jeans that were tight in a very 1970s rocker way. Maybe it was childish, but I almost wished he wasn't so good-looking.

I was pulled from my examination of him when he pulled the bag a little toward him. I pulled back a lot. "Please, I need these." I put my other hand on the bag and pulled. And he did the same.

"If you don't let go the bag it going to split open." He rolled his eyes at me as I shook my head.

"Don't be a jerk." I said quietly.

"Sorry." He said, not sounding the least bit sorry.

"Why don't you just be a nice guy and give the bag to me?" I tucked a stray piece of hair behind my ear. What was with this guy?

"You know, I was originally going to do that, then you got all possessive. So now I can't just let you walk away with these."

"So you like being a prick to strangers?"

He managed a shrug and gave me a phony smile.

"Come on, guy. I need these."

"Do you?"



"God, didn't I say it the first twelve times? Yes!"

"Oh ok." He said lazily as he suddenly let go and sent me tumbling back. I braced myself to hit the floor but was more surprised when I crashed into someone. Angry, I muttered a quick sorry to the person behind me before moving in on this unmitigated asshole.

I walked right up to him and was about to let him have it, really, just go off. I had my hand raised- just a second away from slapping him, like it was one of those out of body experience things, but someone grabbed my arm. And that was probably a good thing.

"What the–" I turned to the person behind me. And unfortunately, he looked very much like the guy giving me a hard time. Minus the messy hair and wrinkled clothes.

"As much as I'd really enjoy seeing Gav getting shit knocked out of him, and as much as he deserves it, I really recommend you hold off on beating him up." He said. He gently released my hand and it let it fall to my side. I wish I could have thought of something clever to say.

"Why?" It came out a little more breathy than I had intended. I felt so instantly drawn to him, I was giddy and sheepish at the same time.

"It's just… we kind of have this show tonight and I had specifically told him to stay out of the way of angry girls. But, you know what? Just go for it, let him have it."

"Oh. That would explain it." I said slowly.

"What?" They said in unison.

"The attitude. You're musicians."

"What's supposed to mean?" The jerk said.

"Nothing, nothing. It just reminds me why I always like music a lot more than the people that actually play it," I looked over at the other guy, "No offense to you."

"Of course not." He nodded.

"Well, anyway, thank you so much for making this very difficult. I guess I'll just be buying these." I walked to the checkout, no line, the place pretty much empty and put the bag on the counter.

"That'll be $1.23." I reached in my wallet and found that the single that had been in there was gone. Well, this was turning out to be a wonderful afternoon. I dug through my purse only to dig up 39 cents.

"I'm really sorry, I don't normally do this but, I don't have any money with me right now and I really need to buy these. Could you let this slip by just this once?" The cashier just looked at me.

"This costs $1.23." She said.

"I know- this is super embarrassing. I can come back first thing tomorrow and get you the," I was trying to figure the math out in my head.

"Eighty-four cents, correct?" Said a voice from behind me. As if this wasn't bad enough. He handed it to the cashier.

"No, no. Why are you doing this? You really don't have to do this." I shook my head.

"Thank you. Have nice day." The cashier said. He held the bag out to me; I hostilely grabbed it from him, and looked to make sure the guy that wanted to steal the bag from me hadn't witnessed that.

"You really didn't have to do that, I was working it out myself. I probably have 84 cents in my car anyway, if you just wait a minute-"

"Don't worry, it's the least I could do, considering my brother was being a total ass to you." I nodded, understanding why they looked so much alike. We stood outside the drug store and he lit up a cigarette, offering me one as well. I shook my head at his offer. His brother came around the corner shooting me a cold look.

"I feel like I owe you something." I said. I hated owing anything to anyone. That's just not how I operated.

He shrugged, "I'm Garrett," he held out his hand and we shook, "And this is my brother, Gavin." I didn't acknowledge Gavin.

"I'm Halley." We stood there for a few quiet moments, them smoking their cigarettes and me feeling awkward. "Well, thanks. I guess I'm going to go." Garrett waved.

"Nice to meet you."

As I walked to my car all I could think about was what an idiot I probably looked like to Garrett; fighting over a stupid bag of candy that I didn't even have enough money for.

As I started the car, he tapped on the window.

"Hey, I know we just met and all, and that this is totally last minute, but my band has this show tonight…"