A Desert Storm Personified

10 Elliot IX

"Elliot,"

"Elliot"

"Ellie!" The manicured finger descended again and I snatched it.

"Yes?" My eyes opened in question to find my twin hovering over me, conflicting emotions dancing across her face. She looked chic, like myself but better, thinner, blonder and very well dressed. Several charms hung from her long chain necklace. In the old days I would've batted them, teased her for wearin' bling. Now I just watched as she tugged on her ear.

"I don't normally concern myself with your life but…" she pointed to my floor. I internally groaned, whatever she could see was blocked by my layers of blankets and would require me to sit up. I raised an eyebrow and strained to see what had her making this gigantic sacrifice. "Elliot, I'm pretty sure this cannot happen. I mean, you understand the rules of the upper class. This…it won't work." I grabbed my twin and pulled her from the room.

"Did you get home after me last night?"

Emmie faltered. "No, I stayed in."

"How did I get home, I don't remember." I almost rolled my eyes. She was so ashamed of staying home on a Thursday night and I'm trying to figure out if I was drugged.

"I heard someone come in and go into your room. I just thought it was you." She checked her phone. "I gotta go." Emmie stopped right at the end of the hallway, she appreciated good dramatic effect. "He can't stay much longer. Elliot, it's not gonna work. It can't work, you can't let it happen." Was it just me or did a slight bit of concern tint that last glance. If I didn't know better, I'd say my twin was trying to keep me from getting hurt. And honestly, who's to say that I knew better? I went back into my room and gazed at the sleeping Garret.

Now, as an ex-friend I know a bit more about my floor of all places. He hadn't wanted to draw attention to it because he didn't wake me last night and his clothes didn't have their normal freshly washed smell. In short, Garret Daniels was acting like a poor little rich kid. And really? I was too tired to give a damn but seeing as I had on my clothes from last night and my ankle was bandaged I figured that he hadn't drugged me. I traded my jeans for some pj pants and proceeded to prod his shoulder with my toe.

"The bed's big enough for both of us and we both know you're more accustomed to tell me why you're not in your own."

"Do you still kick in your sleep?" he groaned sleepily.

"Not with twisted ankles." I replied, scooching under the sheets and blankets. "And not ever, that was Jessica who always kicked."

"Whatever." The bed shook as he toppled onto it then gracefully shoved off his shoes.

"See ya in the afternoon." I mumbled, sleep taking over.

"Ditto." And then I was dreaming.

!1

Dream time was overrated. We both woke when my alarm rang at 8. It's not really my fault that my sister gets up at 4 AM on weekdays to get ready. She's nuts. . And she has to have an exact amount of time to get ready to face her harpy-esque followers who go to breakfast at a ridiculous 6:30 in the morning. And as for rude awakenings? Snuggled up next to Garret definitely counts for one, at least we hadn't been all adorably wrapped in each other's arms. Can you spell awkward? Really, can you? Because the two w's always throw me. Anyway, because of my prime real estate along Garret's body, I was contentedly warm in my bed and really didn't want to get up.

"What time is it?" He groaned, trying to burrow into one of my many pillows.

"8. Don't you have a class now?"

"Bucket." Actually, I'm pretty sure he said fuck it but that's what it sounded like from beneath the pillow. "We're gonna have to stay up late tonight for the club's reopening too." He rolled over and stared up at my ceiling, which was also my focus point.

"If we hadn't have skipped Wednesday, I'd say we should skip today…but I think it might look sketch if we're out twice in one week. Why the hell do you have a first period anyway?" It vaguely crossed my mind that this was a rather surreal moment, lying in bed with one of my former friends and former enemies, staring at my glow in the dark stars, discussing school.

"So I could get out early. I didn't know I would be doing the club thing when I signed up for classes and like hell I'm doing this next semester." I nodded and then wondered if he could even see me. Then with a decisive motion I gently rolled out of bed and landed standing up. Score. "Whatcha doin?"

"I think I still have your crash bags around here somewhere. Oh." I had indeed found his crash bag from the old days. There was another with it, a sparkly pink birthday bag with purple faux fur lining. Callie's. Over the last year I had placed most of her stuff in the attic, trying to separate it from my life now, I hadn't ever thought to check the crash bags in the back of my closet for the times when they would unexpectedly sleep over and need a change of clothes and pj's. "I found it. I think there's an extra pair of your old glasses in there." I said, tossing the grocery bag on the bed. I left the pink bag in the back of the closet; there was no need for it anymore.

!1111

Relentlessly shoving underclassmen out of your way is a great way to release aggression. I was pessimistically happy for the ruin my reputation was in, allowing me to terrorize newbies in peace. I had already texted Bennie to tell her that I needed some actual food today, Lay's company wasn't going to cut it. I couldn't believe it was only 3rd period. Growling at a freshman was rather fun but I wouldn't suggest it for keeping up appearances of sanity. My spirits lifted slightly when I passed Sahara in the hall. She was perky, she was polished, she was one of those incredible people who thrive on little sleep. She also looked fabulous in dark skinny jeans and a black sleeveless turtleneck. However, as per Sahara quirkiness, it was the accessories that made the outfit with red glitter hoop earrings the size of my fist, a red glitter belt and shoes she stole off of Dorothy's feet in Oz. I felt inadequate in my jeans and one of Colin's baseball shirts.

"You look kinda butch today Elliot." I heard a voice drawl. Jesus, what kind of guy actually says that to a girl?

"Bobby, kindly remove yourself from my bubble." I spoke to my locker, not wanting to see his scummy eyes check me out.

"Really, I guess that whole thing with your girlfriend dying kinda put a downer on the relationship." He continued on, apparently misled by my appearance; today was not a vulnerable day. Really? Really? Just because my best friend dies and I go back to being a loner because I detest the shallowness of popular kids that makes me a lesbian? Ok, so I'm wearing a guy's shirt but it's the classic three-quarter sleeve and I coordinated my low top chucks and trucker hat to the colors. I saw Bobby move outta the corner of my eye and I dropped a notebook. On the way to pick up the papers I slammed a hand onto the locker door and slammed that into Bobby's person. My smile grew as he groaned.

"Sorry 'bout that." I said out loud, faking apologies. "Leave me the fuck alone." I whispered while pretending to be concerned. Thus a daily encounter with the local jackass. As I headed to Biology several people avoided me, as per normal and a few catty comments were directed at me from the rather popular kids…as per normal. There was an odd silence when I passed Emmie and her friends, no one would dare pick on me in front of her. We are twins on some level so an insult to me is an insult to their princess. Silence, it seems, is the best answer.

Ahh, the coin toss class. AP Bio is one of those dreadful courses that is interesting in some parts and coma inducing in others. Lately it had been coma inducing. The tricky part about today was that I wanted to understand what she was talking about ( I normally do) but my eyes. Kept. Slipping…shut. I woke up when the class began individual work on decoding DNA and amino acid strands. Once grasping that subject I found that it was fun, kind of like a letter puzzle and could keep me in the land of the living for the rest of the period.

During photography I texted Garret, curious about lunch. He declined and I wasn't that offended. The puzzle before me was that of Garret Daniels. A notebook emerged from my book bag and began to sort out his odd behavior. The list began with his going to Colin for training because Garret knows about the bond between my cousin and me. It grew with the security guard job and Garret's obvious wish to be a part of my life again. I added his summer visit with Lottie and his weird smelling clothes to the list and lastly, crashing at my house. If I were a cute and naïve thing I would assume he had a crush on me or at least wanted to be my friend as most of the list related to me in some way. That's not the answer.

The training I could guess at, like I had before, that Garret needed physical therapy after the crash and somehow decided he wanted more than the average work out and picked Colin. This I could kinda understand but sleeping on my floor and not wanting to go home? It was as if Garret was trying to shed his last name and trust-fund at home but play it up at school. The only way to really get to the bottom of it would be to break into the Daniels' McMansion. That's exactly what I planned to do as long as I could get some help from the right people…or really person. The answer was just a heel click away.

!

"You want to break into his house? Why?" Sahara would ask the question I couldn't answer.

"He's acting weird and has been for a while but I can't explain it."

"Nice?" she suggested. "I heard he was a class A Jerkface but maybe the change is him being sweet."

I shook my head, I really couldn't explain it. "He was a jerk when we were friends, he was a jerk when we weren't. It's not that." Sara shiftily glanced around, looking for eavesdroppers but we were in. my. car

On the way to CookieCutter for lunch. The only people who knew we were in here at this time were Keely and Tiara and anyone else at the club that knew we were coming for lunch. My vehicle is not normally a hotspot of information and spilled tip offs.

"I'm not supposed to tell ya' this kinda thing but truly, I love you Ellie. I can't legally help you or know about a B&E but I know Colin's training regime."

"Don't you mean routine?"

"And I know that you can handle this fully, Han Solo style. I can give you the opening tomorrow but sorry." I shrugged, at least I tried and I did have a cover now…plus she didn't think I was entirely crazy for wanting to break into a co-worker's house. A friend's house. Then again, it was Sahara.

!

Bennie had soup and baguettes for us at lunch and it was amazing. I was given an entire baguette to sate my food anger and bad disposition. The atmosphere was comfortable as we discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the other clubs we had visited. Keely was examining her cast while throwing out clothing designs for tonight but Bennie sadly had to ruin her creativity. Everyone would be wearing the new round of CookieCutter tee-shirts. She did give free reign to Kee to figure out how to mutilate ours. Our own wild one eventually settled on sleeveless shirts just knotted halfway up our backs. Leather pants were the lower part of re-opening night's ensemble which greatly pleased Sahara since she was required to wear them for work so her sister had to give in. Tiara came scuttling in, arms waving.

"News! News! Bennie said that we can pull up people to dance on the elevated platforms on the dance floor. They just need to be good kids and not crowd surfers or be too obscene and that junk." Um, darling dearest, you're forgetting the unspoken rule of all clubs, they also have to be reasonably attractive to dance with a)one of us on the platform or b)another attractive club hopper. I caught her eye and we decided via mind reading and eye gestures that Sara and Kee would not be selecting volunteers to dance on a platform-that was way too risky.

!11

I realized once more tonight that Josie was really good at her job. Sure, we played more actual songs than most dance clubs but really, it made CookieCutter unique, we were like one gigantic house party with better looking people…and more alcohol. The second floor had a karaoke bar for those who really wanted a different aspect too. The other reason no one really mentioned the lack of generic house and electronic was Josie's musical genius in picking songs. I could hear the low beats of Sandstorm starting up and I glanced around me. Most of the people watching a host were watching Sahara and Tiara on the main stage or the volunteers scattered on raised platforms. My shift on the back platform had been relaxing, not as many proposals and propositions…or eyes in general. So when J baby started up one of my favorites and I didn't see anybody really watching me, I let myself go. I swayed with the beat, swirling my hips and letting my arms flow free. I forgot about trying to seduce patrons and club hoppers and danced for ME. I cued a symbol crash with a flick of my wrist and it was awesome to feel that connected with the music again. The screens behind the main stage and mounted on the walls and columns were flashing with golden rain and geometrical shapes, God, it would be wonderful to have someone to dance with but the girls were all busy. I had worked in the business too long to just grab somebody from the mosh madness below and be satisfied, besides, they all looked happy where they were.

I spotted the bright blue shirt moving through the crowd. Oh crap, Jason is the last person I wanted to deal with tonight. He's one of those great looking guys that practically lives here and I happen to be his favorite host. The only problem is that he kissed me last time he was here and I laughed cause I honestly thought he was gay. In my defense, all the girls had agreed with me. Craaaappp. I love this song and I don't want to waste it on a "crush talk" or avoiding some infatuated frat boy.

"Garret," I pleaded, tugging on his CC shirt with what I hoped was an innocent smile. "That guy in the blue shirt is coming over here and I really don't want to talk to him." My bodyguard took his time surveying the crowd and locating Jason in it. I took that time to study Garret and his genuine self. All day it had been kinda like it was this morning, small talk and generic stuff but no deep discussions and on the other hand, no gigantic outbursts or arguments. It was rather strange but nothing with Garret has ever been normal, hell, I was planning to break into his house. No matter how fascinating it was to stare at him, my knees were unhappy about crouching in heels to talk to him so I stood and began dancing again. If Daniels was gonna ignore me, I was gonna dance as long as possible. My eyes flew open in shock as palms caressed my exposed hips…palms attached to the body behind me which just happened to belong to Garret. The club persona half of my brain grinned with dancing euphoria because I now had a partner and it was a decent one. The cynical everyday half of my brain frowned, confused by his actions and frantically tried to analyze them. Sandstorm was fully pumping now and the impulsive side took over, with a logical argument of: fuck it; I'm in a club so go with the club feeling.

I leaned back into Garret and began to match his movements with my hips. I threaded the fingers of my left hand through his that rested on my hip. With a slight push from him, I spun out and away, letting my hair fan out and fall back to my shoulder, looked pretty damn cool in the strobe lights. Garret's eyes raked up and down my body, coming to rest on my eyes as I was pulled back into his arms. Close, that's how it felt with only thin layers of clothes between us. I linked my wrists behind his neck and tried to ignore the fact that it was Garret who had a leg between mine and was making me feel all girly and tingly.

"I think he's leaving." His mouth was warm and close to my neck and it took a few seconds to realize he was talking about Jason. Yet a glance at the crowd revealed my club patron standing still with his eyes latched on us. I lifted my head to rest against Garret's.

"Am I making you uncomfortable?"

He read my face, eyes quickly scanning over my features. "No."

So I leaned in closer and stopped as my breath caressed his mouth.

"Am I making you uncomfortable?"

'Cause I'll be damned if I wasn't feeling a bit out of sorts being this close to him. We hadn't even been this close or this meshed when he 'almost' dropped me the other night.

Steely eyes met my own. "No." Good, he was seeing this as a challenge and I needed him to participate if I was gonna get Jason off my back. As the music crescendo-ed around us and the screens exploded with golden flakes I reached up and melded our mouths together with an inherent craving.

Lord.

My body almost exploded with adrenaline. The pounding music, the dancing, the strobe lights, the screens with waves of molten gold, it all created one giant atmosphere of overstimulation when combined with a kiss. I was infinitely thankful for Garret's strong arms keeping me from attempting unintentional crowd surfing. And there's a sentence that I never thought would cross my mind. Slowly, as the songs switched, I regained control of my senses and detached my mouth from my partner's and brushed past his ear.

"Did I make you uncomfortable?"

"No. A little warning next time would be nice though."

I sighed and began to move to the next song, Cascada being my exit strategy. "Well, he's definitely gone now. At the bar I think. But you should probably stay up here for at least a few more songs." What? What were these words pouring out of my mouth? A simple truce an endless friendship did not make. My mind shot to plans to break in that night in an effort to distract myself. That's pretty insane isn't it? When you use delinquency to distract yourself?

Eventually I decided the best thing wasn't to try and deter my own thoughts but to just stop thinking all together. So I danced.

!

It went off without a hitch. Sahara and Ben had attacked Garret as we were leaving the club around three am and dragged him back to the lounge to examine some security measure thingy that I'm pretty sure Sahara created on a whim. And really, Ben didn't attack, he's not the attacking kind, Sara is. I had hopped into the Ataris and sped off into the night with a ridiculous speed.

Garret's house was situated in a neighborhood along with other overly wealthy people. The McMansion was removed from the road by a winding driveway that was watched by a guard house and this would be my first obstacle. The black yoga pants and under armor were my first line of defense, making me look like your average hoodlum but also conveniently helping me blend into the pavement. I parked around the corner, in the driveway of the show house that was less than a block away. Creeping down the street wasn't that hard because honestly, who the heck is awake at a little past three am on a Friday and not out partying?

The guard house held the first of my tip offs that something was amiss at the Daniels's household because it was empty. In all my years hanging out with Garret, never has the small shack been dark. While it made breaking into the grounds much easier, it wasn't doing anything to settle my curiosity. I snuck around the house to the guest bedroom on the side in shadows. This window wasn't wired into the security system as it had been our main entrance during our years of late night partying when Callie and I couldn't go home. Obviously it hadn't been used for that purpose in a while sense someone had replaced the screen. Fantastic, so not what I wanted to deal with.

I slid the pocket knife out of my sock and cut a slit across the very bottom of the metal mesh and used the nail file to flick the small hook that kept the screen flush with the window. I then repeated the action on the other side and closed my Swiss Army with a satisfied grin. The gigantic spruce trees next to me were the perfect place to stash the screen after carefully sliding it from the top guiders. The window itself was next. When we came home after hours of inebriation, we were not in the mood to do what I was about to so the latch had always been left undone. Now it was firmly swiveled closed. This I had expected so I extracted my trusty knife. While everyone loves a good old fashioned Swiss Army, the blade wasn't really up to my current job and it was awful at scaring off would be muggers. So, for my 17th birthday, Colin sent me this wonderful knife with a blade longer than my fingers and stronger than it really should've been if the thickness of the metal was any indication.

Due to any kind of wear and tear, windows are never really as well built as people believe. This particular window had been broken before (one of the times we were inebriated and it was locked) and it had taken quite a beating when the glass was replaced. This allowed enough motion for me to shove the blade between the outer frame and inner frame. The length of the blade was just enough to pop up into my line of sight on the inside of the house. I moved the blade to the center of the window until it came in contact with the latch. Then I shoved, pushing the blade to the other side of center and the latch open. With another smile I began sliding the bottom pane up until I could climb inside the house. Phase two complete.

The Daniels house was different. For the first time in my life it felt cold and smelled musty. The temperature could've been attributed to Garret's particular tastes but musty? That was downright odd. I left the guest room and began to climb the front stairs. While the servant stairway was darker and closer to Garret's room on the second level, I was also more likely to come across Elena, the live in maid, or one of the family members sneaking an early morning snack.

Garret's room was awful. It looked as if his dresser was bulimic, spewing clothes all over the floor and any available space. It was difficult to tell but I was pretty sure they weren't clean. A calendar on the desk had days marked off with streaks of yellow hi-liter. Sporadically, a day was marked in blue but there seemed to be no pattern and the musty smelled was stronger here. Well, no wonder he wanted to sleep at my house, I wouldn't want to stay in this mess. But there shouldn't have been a mess; Elena would kick his rich white behind if she saw this pigsty. These layers could only have been built up over multiple days, weeks even.

I had a bad feeling and since Colin's number one rule is trust your instincts, I hurried back downstairs to the kitchen. A glance through the connecting door told me his parents weren't home, the garage only held the motorcycle. Turning to the pantry I frantically searched for the familiar apron of Renaldo, the live in chef. Instead I found cartons of Chinese takeout on the counter and a stack of pizza boxes on the table. The trash was overflowing and soda cans were engineered to form a pyramid. Without my knowledge the words slipped from my lips.

"Oh Garret, what did you do?" This time I ran up the servant's stairway, not caring how much noise I made, regardless of the fact that I looked like a two bit thief. When I reached the third floor, where my favorite people in the Daniels's house lived I shouted.

"Elena! Elena, Renaldo!" I flew into a door that I had not dared open ever before, to find a bare room, devoid of any proof of occupants. Only a bed and a comfy chair and a dresser but nothing to say that a stubborn lady was living here. Renaldo's room was the same. With a mix of emotions, I returned to the kitchen and waited.

!

The sound of the garage door woke me from my almost sleep at the kitchen table. My anger had almost sent me into a high energy cleaning mode but I restrained to maintain the evidence. I hadn't touched a thing in the 15 minutes I waited, just sat in the wooden chair and stared at the door to the garage. When it opened, I stayed silent; watching him slouch in, exhausted and then, as his eyes drifted over the room habitually and locked on mine, straighten with surprise. The look on my face was a mystery to me; all I know is that it brought forth a guilty look on his own. He should've been mad at me for breaking into his house and he was the one looking guilty? That just meant he realized how screwed he was.

"What did you do Garret?" The actual question floating in my head was more along the lines of 'what the fuck?' but I didn't want to curse, this was too serious. Plus I had learned through years of fighting the good fight that verbally, sophistication could make much more of an impact.

"Why are you here Lee?" Well, at least he had gotten past the guilty look and moved to a cold, distant face. And at least he didn't ask something completely stupid like how I got in.

"Don't even act like you have a right to privacy. You gave that up when you slept on my floor. And don't act like this is some surprise, you set yourself up for my nosy self when we agreed to be friends again. So don't you dare answer my question with a question. What. Did. You. Do?"

He slid into the chair across from me. "It's not really what I did, more like, what I'm doing. Which is killing several birds with one stone. My parents are divorcing again. They have yet to tell me, even on the phone." Oh Jesus. My mouth dropped open a bit, he didn't notice because he was talking (ranting) to the table top. "But they have sent lists of furniture and junk that they want. They're fighting over the house and they're fighting over me even though they haven't seen either of us in almost nine and a half months."

"Where's the staff?" I asked in a whisper. I had expected his parents to be away, they were always away but they usually came home for at least a few weeks between each month not at home. And they were divorcing again? After the last time, his mother had promised that if they would divorce ever again, his parents would tell him and explain.

"They're gone. It's a part of my plan to make myself and the house an undesirable item in their war over property so they'll just let me live here in peace until I go to college or get my trust fund. Mom wants me so she can look more maternal to her clients. Dad wants me so he can have someone he trusts to take over the company, someone who won't kick him out the door when he's old and decrepit."

I couldn't believe that he would share all of this so candidly. Garret had already detached himself from the situation, it was evident in his voice, like it was someone else's life he was talking about. He was drained as well, exhausted to a scary degree considering I had seen him pull several all nighters in a row, with heavy drinking. And he just kept talking.

"But they're both lazy to a point and if I'm a big enough mess, they won't consider me worth a fight and I can just be left alone. The house too. Mom practically owns her town home in Versailles and Dad has his flat in L.A. so this place is too much trouble."

"You just fired everyone to spite your parents?" For some reason I just couldn't grasp this, it seemed too cold, even for Garret.

He simply shrugged, then rested his forehead in a hand. "Most. Elena and Renaldo are at the beach house, I couldn't really fire them." I sighed with relief, thankful that he did have some feelings of attachment still. "What? Glad that Renny is still around to make you pancakes?"

I narrowed my eyes slightly but ignored the jab. I don't think he truly meant it to hurt, just nag in the back of my mind. I was done with my questions and only stayed to see if he would ask any of me.
"Why are you here Lee?" Why was I here? It was much easier to explain than to Sahara so I let every reason and whim pour out. The fact that he was on pills again, the way his sweatshirt smelled at the movies, the hot cold troubled attitude, and most of all the crashing on my floor, it was all revealed. When I was done, he looked tired but accepting and another question had surfaced in my mind.

"If your plan is working, why do you look so miserable? Why did you sleep on my floor?"

"I thought I would want to stay here and I could only do that by ruining it for them but now I can't stand it. The house is too quiet and stale and morbid. Now I just do it out of spite, hell, that's why I fired the guard man, I half want someone to come steal a bunch of this shit so my parents can't have it."

It was late, or maybe it was just really early. It was hard to tell, but we needed sleep. Badly. I came to this conclusion when my fingers stretched across the center of the table to brush through his hair. The past few minutes had seen Garret lying on the table with his eyes closed but still talking, or listening. I had been leaning forward, one hand holding up my heavy head, the other tracing the wood lines. His soft almost-curls in an indistinct shade of light brown brought back a wave of memories. God I loved his hair, always had. His left hand caught my wrist in a firm grip and brought our hands to rest on the table top. Another memory, it was always the way he kept a hold of me when we had to cross a club floor, a house basement or a mosh pit and concert crowd.

My pulse beat against the pads of his fingers, beat heavily behind my eyes. "Why do we let them do this to us?"

"It's the rule, Lee. We have to live the life everyone wants. Everyone has to want to be us. So we put up with the people who birthed us because they give us the stuff to make our lives."

"Emma told mom and dad to leave." I said as the blood pounded in my head, in my wrist, under his fingers. "She doesn't know that I overheard it. She told them to just go off to China and have a fucking awesome time and make a shitload of money to pay for our therapy because they're awful parents." I stopped and came to a sort of revelation. "I think they haven't come home because they're scared she's right. Because she is."

Silence, but he was listening.

"They asked me if I wanted to go to China. I said nothing; I just gave them a list of how much money we would need per month until they got back."

Silence that was broken by the resounding thud of my pulse.

"You can't stay here Garret; it's their trap for you. Leave all the doors unlocked, break some stuff but you can't stay here." With that I pulled from his grasp and stood. I left by the front door.

Sahara IX

Of all the things to make me feel more at home in San Rafeal, it was Elliott asking me to help her break into Garret's house. It really hit me how much trust that she has in me, only after a few weeks. That told me that either Ellie is a great person or she's seriously screwed up in the friend department. Well, after a BFF like hers, it might be both. Ever since my naughtiness with Ashby I had been thinking about what Sierra told me. It had been our first sister bonding pow-wow since we moved and like always, my big sis hit me harder than tequila. I didn't have to be afraid to let people in. But I was. So that's why I was lovin' on my Ben 'n Jerry's and watching episode after episode of House. That brit guy = 3. And he can sing like in Uptown Girls. Oh! And Dakota Fanning also rocks. Ahh House is so snarky, I wish I was that clever but I can toastally see Ellie saying some of this stuff. Sierra was not happy about my slum mood.

"I'm calling Elliott; you are not going to veg aimlessly if I can't." Overruled because of a Cameron/Chase moment. Say it all together now: awwww.

"Thirteen bucks says Ellie baby's still sleeping and you shouldn't wake her."

My sister crashed down next to me. "I love our sofa." Cheese-us, and peeps think I'm ADHD? It's the genetics people. "I hesitate to ask but why 13? It's a little random, even for you Rah-rah." I shrugged mentally 'cause we're sisters and she can always read my mind (way better than Ashby) and explained it was how much Ben owes me from Thursday. "So why is Elliott so tired?"

Going into lockdown mode, detective Sands. Let nothing cross to the enemy. Take no prisoners! "I think she had a late night. She was wired last night when she left the club."

"What's the deal with her and that Garret kid?"

"They're in love."

Sierra looked away from the TV to give me her best mom-evaluation-stare. "You're really chill today Rah-rah."

I shrugged; it was exciting but exhausting being me. It's hard to be that in the moment and full of energy all the time. Every week or so, my conscience and analysis side kick in and I only think about reflecting, sleeping and being mellow. Usually, by the end of the day I'm rejuvenated and ready to go, disregarding consequences like normal.

"C'mon bride to be, you have work to do, gotta make those firewalls stronger and prevent identity theft." She growled as I smirked and then threw a pillow at my face. She left the couch and I could hear her shuffling things in her office. Sierra only has five computers. I was almost immersed in House again when she yelled from the office.

"I'm kicking you out at 11.45, she should be up by then." I had about an hour and a half and another hour to get ready. Cool.

That went by a lot faster than I thought. I took a long shower and decided to cur l my hair because it doesn't actually take an hour to get ready. As I played with the hot metal I realized that the last time I curled my hair was before I dated Nick. I had kept my hair sleek and straight while we dated, to fit into the style and in my little box.

"No more!" I declared to my mirror image. "We shall be not overcome. We should be strong, I am woooommmaaaannnnn." Colin laughed at my singing as he passed my door. "How was training?" I asked him while practicing seductive looks in the mirror. Soft curls just scream seduction.

"Went well. 's me turn for dinner. Pizza good for you?"

"Yup. Thought I'm going over to Ellie's and might eat there?"

"Jus' call if you bring 'er 'ere." He yelled as he went further down the hallway.

Elliott's house wasn't what I thought it would be. Colin said he came from money but I never knew what his mom gave up in the divorce. The house was more like a mansion to me, with at least three floors and a garage with 4 doors. I skipped up the stairs and rang the doorbell before checking my hair in the window. Seriously, my hair rocks this morning. I thought about the word 'morning'. It's supposed to be a time of beginning and sunrise but it sounds like mourning in the case of someone's death. That's not a warm and fuzzy feeling. I never understood the whole breaking dawn thing either; no one has enough energy in the morning to break stuff. The door opened and a Barbie-fied Elliott stared at me.

"Happy beginning of the day."

She rolled her eyes. "God, I thought you were kinda normal but I guess Elliott really does ruin everything she touches."

Sometimes I really can't stand people like this. I knew she was Ellie's twin and a queen bee, it's one of those things that girls just naturally pick up on. Emma James still didn't scare me. It takes a heck of a whole freakin' lot to scare me. Like Ben, and his seriousness and his talk about his sister. That is a heck of a whole freakin' lot that scares me. So yay, I have a girly and somewhat serious thing to talk with Ellie about.

"Just because you're insecure doesn't mean you can make me." I said, pushing past the twin.

"My God, what is it with Elliott and her friend that think I'm insecure? I just enjoy being bitchy." Werd, that little princess looked like she was serious so I just shrugged and asked how to get to Ellie's room. She didn't' have a room; she had a suite…as in more than one. I guess that's why I was surprised to see a sleeping bag on her floor…if I was gonna crash at Ellie's I'd take the sofa she had in her own personal living room. Her bed looked really soft and warm with satiny sheets and a fleece blanket. So naturally I decided to wiggle in next to my new friend.

"Garret, if you're in one of your freaky playful moods, be prepared to get beat down."

"Happy before lunch time Ellie. How come you didn't tell me about the sleep over?"

Elliott finally looked around and saw me and then she groaned. "Sahara, I can't handle off the wall in the morning/"

"Oh good, me neither. So why don't you tell me why you have hobos in your room?"

"It's a long story." She groaned into her pillow.

"Well I've got time and Sierra thinks I need to have a girl chat with someone my own age."

Elliott sat up in surprise. "You need to have a girl talk? Why don't you go first?" that was when the bathroom door opened and a very yummy looking Garret stepped out only in boxers with a towel over his shoulder.

"You're awake." He said quietly, stopping in the doorway.

"Sahara's here." She replied with an equally weird voice. There was gigantic amounts of tension and hesitation, obviously the story of last night was a good one. I rolled to one side and off the bed.

"Gravity still works." I chirped and they both gave me the look; 'explain yourself space cadet'. "Well, as long as we were stating the obvious…" Garret looked at Ellie and left the room without saying anything which had me jumping back on the bed, itching for gossip. The Romantacensor was running, even if on low battery.

"Garret is staying here for an indefinite period of time."

"Hmm, and what was on his shoulder?" she knew exactly what I was talking about, the spiral made of different, dark colored circles, all in all, no bigger than a folded dollar.

"Sahara, what did you want to talk about?" I let the subject drop and suggested she get dressed and I could make her brunch and then we could jam. The tattoo question had thrown her. The kitchen was large and clean and Garret was there but he had clothes on. We rooted through the fridge and he started making omelets saying he didn't trust me with a frying pan, spatula or a stove. He knew his way around the drawers and cabinets which added another layer to the mummy mystery of the Garret/ Elliott relationship.

"I met Emma. She didn't say you were here."

"Emmie likes to surprise people and she thinks her sister has a crush on me and it would be a bad thing." He placed an omelet on my plate and gave me a fork. It was amazing. Ham and cheese and bacon were all in there. "I have hash browns but they aren't homemade." They were also fantasmic.

"So Emma doesn't like you? I thought all popular girls would fall head over heels for you."

"Don't underestimate any James women, Emma included." He went on to tell me about Emma's backstabbing climb to the head of the ruling preppies after Callie's death. She was brutal, the stories he had. I really wanted to be friends with this girl now. "Em decided to take the spotlight off her sister by stealing it. Last time someone messed with Elliott, the girl was kicked off the cheerleading team and it was rumored that she had Chlamydia."

"So they love each other?"

"They're sisters; they take care of each other."

Garret stayed long enough to give breakfast to Elliott before they had a little 'moment' and he disappeared. I wasn't sure how to start talking or what I wanted to talk about.

"So why did Sierra send you over here? I thought she could handle girl talk."

"I'm afraid of girls." I blurted out, with no intention. God I hated these days when I'm serious.

"What?"

"All that bitchiness and backstabbing and sleeping with other people's boyfriends and just too much DRAMAAAAA! Yeah, so they scare me." Ellie snuggled into her blanket and the couch with a smile on her face. This is what I hated about being straight forward reactions are honest.

"Hate to break it to ya babe but you're a girl. Although I can see where we'd be intimidating. But you seem to get along well with us at the club." Slowly and surely, words came easier to me. I could be around the club kids because they were just like me, hard and fast and taken at shock value. Elliott shared some calming presence with my sister, it was something that made me want her to know the real me. Ellie asked small questions to encourage me to keep talking, without the sense of babying me.

"I've always talked to Ashby about boys but then we moved and now he's mad at me."

"Why is he mad?"

"I tried to get him to kiss me the other night when we were club hopping. He called me stupid and wouldn't do it and then he pranced off because he's Bee-Bee."

"I thought he was gay." She scrunched her nose in concentration; she doesn't know how cute she is to other people.

"Oh, he's flaming but we've made out before to get guys to leave us alone. Ashby thought I wasn't over Nick yet but I am so beyond over him."

"Wait, wait, wait. Who is Nick?"

I sighed, but in the back of my mind I knew I wasn't going to go on a crazy rant or channel Rambo = improvement. "Nick was my last boyfriend. About the time we were moving I found out he was cheating on me with this ass-ugly girl with the skunk hair look. Bleach blonde on top, black dye underneath."

"She sounds pretty stank nasty." I laughed at the way she said that. It was so Ellie and at the same time not. "So if you're over this skeeze bag why'd you want to kiss Ashby?"

My head dropped to my hands and I groaned loudly. This was the real reason Sierra sent me over. "I think I like someone else. Honestly like, not just I'm horny and he's hot."

"So who is it?"

I shook my head no and she understood even though the pillow was over my face.

"Please don't say Garret, because I would have to slap you and you have such pretty skin."

"No it's not Garret!" I yelled while flying up. "I am over guys like him. Out of the two guys we hang out with, why would you pick him? Ben is so much more me."

"Well duh, but I didn't think you were gonna blurt it out unless provoked. You would kill Garret in three hours, his brain would explode." She grinned, all innocence and angel wings that hid her devious nature. "But on to other things: Omigod! You like Ben!" it only made me blush. "That is so cute, it's adorable."

"He's so intense and thoughtful. We had this long talk about our past and now he wants me to meet his sister who is this super amazing person and what if she doesn't like me as his partner? Then she'd hate me if I dated him plus I can't date my partner…everyone thinks that's a bad idea on the nuclear level and I don't even know if he likes me." Oh lordie hey Zeus. I just rambled all that to Ellie like it was a skydiver without a parachute. "I need help."

Elliott wasn't able to actually do much. She asked even more questions about Ben and determined that I really and truly had a crush. Gossiping about how delicious he looked did make me feel better. Her hyperness over my crush was cute and sweet and made it seem less wrong. For supper we ordered pizza and ate giagantamondo amounts, way more than when boys are around. Sierra called about the time our pizza arrived to ask if we would be coming to eat, I told her to go get seduced by her fiancé. My girls day/night with my new BFFAE ended in a movie marathon honoring Kenau Reeves. Point Break, The Replacements and at least the first Matrix movie. About half way through PB, Garret walked in with a large duffel and grocery bags. It was funny to think about his rich boy booty in the frozen food aisle. Ellie ignored him, even though he just walked into her house at 9.30 p.m.

"You know, normal girls watch shit like The Notebook and Hugh Grant movies at sleepovers."

"We like it when stuff blows up!" I said about to ask why he was here again but he left. Ellie and I discussed the totally awesomeness of surfers for a while and then we smelled cookies. Ellie stiffened and then went into the kitchen. I followed, being snoopy and really hungry for chocolate chip cookies. Garret had trays of break and bake cookies going in and out of the oven. There must've been hundreds of cookies.

Without looking at Elliott, he scraped some onto a plate. "I couldn't make them from scratch but…"

"I can get the guest suites ready for you tonight." She interrupted. "Want to watch The Replacements?" He nodded, grabbed a plate of cookies and we all went back to the TV and pillow pit.

"Everyone thinks I'm weird but you guys are seriously whack."