There he sat, like nothing had ever happened; his arm around another girl. The cup I held in my hand dented with pressure. I gazed down into the golden liquid and brought it to meet my lips. I downed the rest of the glass.

"Jesus Ashlin. Relax. You haven't been here an hour and you are already getting trashed," my best friend Rachel spoke.

At quite the wrong time, I hiccupped.

"I'm not drunk," I muttered back at her.

"Not yet, but at that rate you will be soon," she said.

I tried to deny it, but she was right. I had already had three cups of beer and was on my way to the keg for my fourth one. Rachel followed me and bitched me out the whole way.

Finally, I spun around to face her, "Will you just back off?! I'll be fine… God."

Her mouth hung slightly open at me. We had made a deal at the start of the school year: We would stick together, because after all, we trusted each other the most. Sure we also had Karina, Jackie, and Maori, but Rachel and I had known each other the longest. She was like my twin sister; always knowing what was on my mind; reading me like an open book.

"Ash... maybe we should go. I don't think you can handle this right now," she said to me, a look of concern washing over her face.

She had held the same cup of beer in her hands for over an hour and it wasn't even half empty.

"No. What I think we need to do is get you another beer. That one's probably warm," I said.

Her brow lowered and she scowled at me.

"We need to leave. Now," she said.

I took another large gulp of my beer and it was gone.

"Ok then," I began to slur. "Don't get yourself another one. I'll just get myself one then."

She grabbed my arm, "You can't have anymore."

"Like hell I can't. Now if you excuse me."

I pried her hand off of me and squeezed my way through the throng of people back to the keg. Rachel was still following me.

"You need to stop. Please!" she was practically begging.

"Relax cupcake," I smiled. "I'll be fine. You can leave if you want."

"I can't leave," she said, looking at the floor.

"Why not? Don't want to walk back by yourself?"

"No… If I leave, who's going to look after you?"

"Pshh… I can take care of myself. Besides, Maori's right over there," I gestured. "If anything happens, she'll take care of me."

As I glanced over at Maori, I could hear her contagious giggling while she played beer pong with Jackie.

"You know that's a lie Ashlin. Maori's already drunk… and so is Jackie… and Karina probably is too… where ever she is…" Rachel stated.

I was started to get annoyed now. Whine, whine, whine. Good Lord. Can't she just let a girl have her fun?!

"I don't know why you even wanted to come. I knew this was going to happen. You knew he was going to be here!" Rachel snapped at me.

"He has nothing to do with this!" I snapped back.

"Oh sure… absolutely nothing. Uh huh. Whatever. You tell me everyday how you hope you never see him again; have to face him. And here you are, making damn sure your path crosses his. I don't get it. What is it with you?!"

Now my mouth was the one to hang open. Memories of him flashed through my mind. The beer cup slipped from my grasp.

"What are you going to do Ashlin? Dance on a table to get him to notice you?!" Rachel spat. "You go right ahead. See how much respect he has for you then, because clearly he has none right now."

She paused, waiting for me to say something and when I didn't, she continued.

"You tell me you're over him. I believe you every time you tell me too. Then, being the good friend that I am, I introduce you to some of the best guys I know. Of course, like clockwork, you find a reason not to like them. That's pretty hard to do, when the guy is funny, gorgeous and sincere. Like John. John was perfect for you!" she said.

"No, he really wasn't. He kept staring at me the whole time!" I said.

"He was checking you out Ashlin!"

"Oh, ok, if that's what you want to call it. He was a weirdo and there was no way I was going to date him."

"You have got to get over him. If you don't, you're going to miss out on every great guy that comes your way."

"I'm over him."

She sighed, "Don't say that to me. I know you're not. You know you're not. How can you keep hanging onto him?"

I stared at her, my eyes beginning to burn. I blinked furiously, trying to get the stinging to stop, but I couldn't. Tears welled up and then spilled over.

I choked on my words, "How… how could… how could he do this to me?"

Rachel's face softened and she pulled me into a hug.

"I'm sorry hun. I didn't mean to be bitchy, but someone has to tell you the truth…," she said into my ear. "I just don't want you making a complete fool out of yourself for a guy who's not worth it."

"Oh but he is worth it," I sputtered.

"No. He isn't. He's an asshole. You know that."

"No he isn't," I cried harder. "He's perfect."

My whole body shook and I buried my face in Rachel's shoulder.

This "guy" who I talk about I had met during spring break. I had gone to Florida with my Rugby team and the guys Rugby team. Being a freshman, I didn't know any of the guys and during the Fall, our teams hadn't mingled really at all. The spring season proved differently though as our spring break trip commenced. I was put into a car with three other guys and no girls. Awkward at first, very, but the guys turned out to be real charmers. Adam started out driving, it was his car, and Jaimie sat up front with him. Trace, as everyone called him, sat in the back with me.

At the beginning of the long drive, the guys were chatting amongst themselves and I just listened absentmindedly. They thing they talked about most was the drinking they were going to do while they were there. They planned how much and what kind of alcohol they were going to buy, plus what they were going to do with it. Just then, in the midst of the conversation, the car went quiet. It caused me to look about. The guys were all looking at me. I felt myself blush and they laughed.

"Aren't you a shy one," Jaimie laughed. "Didn't think there was such a girl on the Rugby team."

I politely smiled back, "Guess so."

"Oh so you are shy then?" Adam asked, smirking.

I cocked my head, confused at what he was trying to get at, "Well, no, not really. I just don't really know anyone is all."

"Well, we're going to have to fix that," Adam said. "You, me, beer pong team this week."

I smiled at him, "Ok…"

"Trace and I get first game!" Jaimie declared.

"You're on. Ashlin and I are going to kick your guys' asses," Adam boasted.

Adam and Jaimie continued to bicker on whose team was going to win, but curiously enough, Trace hadn't said a word. When I took my eyes away from the conversation, I locked eyes with him. He was staring at me, but in a gentle way. It was almost like he was gazing at me in some sort of manner. His baby blues eyes seemed to be like the sky as the wind blew through it… if that makes any sense.

He turned his head away, running his hand over his buzzed hair.

"Hey Trace," Adam said. "Keeping our Ashlin company back there?"

Our Ashlin. I like the sound of that for some reason. I felt like I was finally fitting in… somewhat.

"I think she's more of keeping me company," he answered.

"Is that so?" Adam said, looking back at me through the rearview window.

I smirked, raising an eyebrow at him. He laughed at my response. Trace looked shyly over at me, as if he was making sure he didn't offend me.

After a few hours of driving, we stopped at a gas station to refill the car's tank. I got out to stretch and go to the bathroom. Adam followed me into the gas station.

"Are you some sort of miracle worker?" he asked me.

I laughed, "What?"

"Well are you?"

"I don't think so. Why do you say that?"

"I have never seen Trace so quiet in all the years I've known him. He is by far the loudest person I know. I've just never seen him put off by a girl so much. He's always the obnoxious one trying to get every girl's attention. I applaud you."

"Um… thanks?"

I could hear him laugh as he walked into the men's bathroom.

As I waited for the women's bathroom to open, Trace walked up beside me and waited for Adam to get out.

We waited in silence, until he said, "Geez… what did he do? Fall in?"

I laughed girlishly at his statement. Wait… what was I doing? Was I already beginning to like him? There was something about him though…

Before my thoughts could go any farther, Adam came out of the bathroom, freeing it up for Trace.

Adam glanced at me and then at the women's bathroom, "Damn… what did that chick do? Fall in?"

I laughed considerably hard at him. He had no idea that Trace had just said that about him not five minutes earlier. Adam stared at me perplexed.

"I don't think I want to know…" he said, walking past me.

When we got back into the car, Jaimie and Adam had switched spots and Trace and I were still in the back. It was night time now and I decided I was going to try and get some sleep. I propped my pillow against the window, but couldn't get comfortable. I kept squirming around and Trace noticed.

"Why don't you try lying down on the seat Ashlin?" he suggested.

I took his idea and then had to decide which way to lie. I decided to be polite and not make him deal with my feet. I took my pillow and placed it a little ways away from him on the seat. I lay down, scrunched into a ball. After a few minutes of that, I was uncomfortable yet again. I could feel Trace's eyes on me.

"Here," he stated quietly.

He grabbed my pillow and put it in his lap. I looked up at him, confused at his gesture.

"That way you'll have more leg room," he whispered.

I was surprised at this gesture. We didn't know each other at all and he was willing to let me sleep on him? He even suggested it? It confused me, but nonetheless, I put my head down and drifted asleep.

My eyes fluttered open and I pulled myself off of Rachel. The look of concern on her face made me feel embarrassed.

"Can we go now?" she asked.

I nodded and let her lead me out of the party. As we walked outdoors, the cool night air was much more refreshing than I thought it would be.

"I can't stop thinking about him Rach," I stated, sniffling.

"I know," she said, nodding. "Let's talk as we walk."

"I just don't understand where I went wrong. Did I miss some sort of sign he was trying to give me?"

"I don't know hun. All I can say is that you are too good for him anyway. You deserve better."

"I deserve to have him! I thought I was what he wanted. He was the one who made all the moves!"

Another memory floated back to me. We had gotten done with our Rugby tournaments and now were going to spend the rest of the week in Florida just hanging out. It was the night when we our teams met back up. We were trying to find a restaurant for all of us to eat at. It was a difficult task. I was walking down the street with everyone else, Adam on one side of me and Trace on the other. It was quite a sight to be held. Both of them were over six feet tall and I was barely over five feet. I laughed as Adam recanted the tale of one of their Rugby games. He always told each story with such grandeur. It made me laugh, even if the story was supposed to be serious. A lot of the girls were jealous of me, they loved Adam, he was after all, the captain of the guys team and had the most interesting personality, if "interesting" was even the right word.

The teams made a small gang and we crowded the boardwalk as we continued in our search for dinner. The path we walked on was dimly lit and people were frequently tripping on the cobblestones. After another one of Adam's stories, I was having a major laugh attack. I could barely focus on where I was stepping and I promptly tripped on a misplaced cobblestone. I felt myself falling over, but before I could hit the ground, Trace caught me around the waist. He pulled me back to my feet and we kept on walking.

"You alright?" he smiled warmly.

I was still laughing from Adam's story, "Yea. I'm fine. Thanks."

He still had one hand on my lower back and the moment I noticed it, my laughter died. I felt myself blushing again and I looked away from his searching eyes. I didn't know what to do, so I let him keep his hand there. I wondered how many people behind us noticed and how many comments I was due to get later from the other girls.

"Ash?" Rachel asked. "Are you listening to me?"

"Sorry," I said. "I told you I can't stop thinking about him!"

"Clearly."

I brushed off her snide remark, "Now what were you saying?"

"I was saying how you shouldn't even want him anymore. Normally when a guy ignores you and pretends to not know you, you should be pissed off. Especially after all the things that happened!"

"I know. I want to be angry, but I just can't. I still like him Rach… a lot. I'm still hoping he'll come back to me…somehow."

"It's been three weeks. He's not coming back around. Face it, he used you."

Tears pooled in my eyes again. My sobs echoed off the houses we passed.

"No. He wouldn't lead me that much. He wouldn't do that."

"Yes he would. Hook, line, and sinker."

My eyes were puffy and I was drunk, both making it extremely hard to walk. Luckily Rachel came to my rescue before I ran into something.

"Have the girls on your team said anything about you two?" Rachel asked.

"No. I don't think anybody wants to ask. They saw how close we were. And then to not be together after the break?"

"What about the guys? Adam?"

"I don't know. I'm too afraid to talk to him."

"What do you mean you're too afraid to talk to him? I thought you were friends?"

"I can't get myself to go over and talk to him."

"You have to talk to him Ash. If anyone's going to know what's going on in Trace's head, it's going to be him."

"How do I do that? How do I just go up and start talking to him when I haven't in three weeks?"

"Well your practices are at the same time aren't they?"

"Yea."

"Just wait for him after practice one day and tell him you need to talk to him. That way you can talk to him as you walk back to campus. It doesn't have to be anything formal or fancy."

"Ahhh I can't do it!"

"Why not? By the way you talk about him, he doesn't get embarrassed ever, so it's not like it's going to be awkward asking him."

"Yea it will. I am an awkward person!"

"You're not an awkward person," Trace said laughing.

He was holding my hand as we were walking with some of the guys.

"Yes I am! Did you not see me during beer pong last night? Holy cow. Talk about high and wide on every pitch!" I laughed back.

He loved baseball and laughed harder at my analogy. I leaned into him. He dropped my hand in order to put it around my shoulders.

"I suppose you were rather horrible," he said, smiling hugely.

"My team still beat your team," I bragged.

"Yea, thanks to Adam!"

"Hey I got one!"

"Yep. One."

"Shut up!"

Our whole group was laughing with us now. They had all witnessed the game and kept repeating how it was the funniest beer pong game they had ever seen. Just then, Trace stopped our movement. He pulled me close into him and kissed me deeply. It caught me by complete surprise. It wasn't one of those predictable moments where you know a kiss is coming and can prepare. It just happened, catching me utterly off guard. The other guys cheered obnoxiously when we broke apart. I just grabbed onto Trace's arm and was silent. If that was his primary goal, he had succeeded. That couldn't have been his goal though, because moments later I was chatting up a storm again and he didn't seem to mind in the slightest.

"Everyone is awkward. You'll be fine. Just make sure you do it soon… like tomorrow. Tomorrow would be a great time. Get it over with. Get your answers," Rachel said.

We got back to our dorm room and I immediately passed out on my bed. Thank God it was the lower bunk. I couldn't have climbed up to the upper one.

I woke up the next day late into the afternoon, just in time to go to Rugby practice. Practice came and went much too fast. It was fun as always and that's why it went so fast. As everyone was gathering their things I remembered what Rachel had told me to do. I scooped up my things and picked Adam out of the guys in the field next to ours. If I didn't grab him now, he would surely walk with Trace and then all hope was lost. Taking a deep breath, I hurried over to where he was stacking up the field cones.

"Hey," I said.

He didn't look up, "Hey Ashlin."

He didn't seem surprised at all that I was there.

"I've been wondering when you were going to talk to me again," he said, still not looking up.

"What?" I said. "I was wondering when you were going to talk to me again."

He brought his hazelnut colored eyes up to meet my midnight blue ones, "You were the one who stopped coming around."

I swallowed and before I could get any words out, I could feel my eyes beginning to water yet again.

Adam looked at me curiously, "Ash? What's wrong?"

"Nothing," I managed to splutter. "I'm fine."

He grabbed my arm when I tried to turn away, "Obviously everything is not ok. You came over here for a reason. What is it?"

My jaw quivered, "Nothing… just… never mind."

I wanted to just run away from him so bad at that moment, but he would not let me go.

"Please…" I begged him.

He shook his head, "Not until you tell me."

I broke down; sobbing helplessly. Adam pulled me into him. I couldn't object in any way. All I could do was cry.

Adam whispered into my ear, "You know… The only time I've ever seen a girl cry this hard, has been over a guy. So… I'm going to take a wild guess and say it has something to do with a guy."

There was a pause that just consisted of me just crying.

"I don't know what I can do Ash, unless you tell me," he said.

"Make it stop hurting," I sobbed; gripping onto him harder.

He sighed, "I can't do that, but I can stay here with you for as long as you need."

That would work, for now, I thought. Because in no way was I going to be able to talk about Trace with him while I was in complete emotional strife.

Who knows how long it was; just the two of us standing alone on the empty fields. Finally, I was able to control myself somewhat and pulled back from him. He looked at me with blank eyes. I had no idea what was on his mind. Adam was not a hard person to read. He must have been trying hard to keep something concealed from me.

I sniffled and then spoke, "What are you thinking about?"

"You," he said.

What the heck was that supposed to mean? He was thinking about me? I guess the real question was, in what manner? I stared at him, not knowing what to think.

"Will you come over later?" he asked.

"What?" I breathed.

Was he crazy? He lives with Trace for God's sake! Was he just asking for me to have a complete meltdown?!

"Please?" he asked again.

"Why?" I snapped back.

"Because I've missed you. That's why."

What the hell?! He's missed me? Excuse me?

Now I was the one with the blank expression.

"But I haven't missed who you live with," I said sharply.

He eyes drooped a bit at my answer.

"So you wouldn't come over just to hang out with me?" he said.

"Not unless you want to be the one who causes the greatest fall the world has ever seen," I said.

"How about I invite some other people? Will you come over then?"

This was going to be horrible …

"Sure," I answered before my brain could object. And object it wanted to.

He smiled, "Good."

He squeezed my hand… but that wasn't the odd part. The odd part was that I don't even remember him grabbing my hand in the first place…

We walked back to campus together. I must have been quite the sight. My red, cried out eyes dominating my face. We didn't talk on the way back and because of it, I felt super awkward. It felt like the humidity was rising exponentially around us. I guess you would call that tension? But why was there tension? We were hardly even friends anymore. We got to my dorm room; he had walked up with me.

"Can I ask you a question Ashlin?" Adam asked.

"Go for it," I said, rather annoyed that he wasn't just letting me go.

"Have you thought about anyone, but yourself recently?"

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

"Have you thought about the people that are supposed to matter?"

"Yes. Of course."

"Ever think you're losing your friends?"

"If they are my true friends, I won't lose them. They will stay no matter what."

"Maybe so, but you are sure trying hard to get them to leave."

"I haven't been doing anything."

"Exactly."

I stared at him, perplexed.

"You forget who's supposed to matter," he said.

I couldn't say anything. He was right, wasn't he?

As he walked away, I sunk down to the floor. I couldn't do anything to make him come back. All I could do was watch time pass. I leaned my head back against the wall. Maybe he was right. I hadn't really thought about my friends lately. I had been so wrapped up in my hopeless battle for Trace that I forgotten who was supposed to matter.

I silently got off the floor and went into my room. I was hoping Rachel was going to be there, but she wasn't. So, I grabbed a notebook and wrote out everything I wanted to say to her. I was hoping I did some justice to her, because she had probably singlehandedly been the one to hold me together. After I was done with that, I went and took a shower to clear my mind. For once in a long time, Trace was not the one thing dominating my mind. He was swept away into a corner now. As I ran my hands through my hair, it came to me. I guess you could call it an epiphany. I quickly finished showering. I dried off and got dressed, not even bothering to do my hair. I jammed some tennis shoes on and ran out of the dorm building.

Rachel's words rang in my head: "You have got to get over him. If you don't, you're going to miss out on every great guy that comes your way." She was right. All this time, the guy I should have been with was there waiting for me. He was there at the start and was still there. He could have any girl he wanted, but instead, he chose the one girl who didn't notice him. He knew I liked Trace and was willing to let me be with him for me to be happy, even if that meant he had to be without me. He never tried to steal me away from Trace. He would never dance on a table to get me to notice him…

I tried to walk, but I couldn't do it. I literally ran the whole way to get where I was going. When I got there, I took a couple of seconds to gather myself. I knocked on the door. It swung open, revealing Jaimie.

"Ashlin?" he said, utterly surprised.

I smiled at him, "Is Adam here?"

"Yea, sure. He's upstairs in the kitchen."

"Thanks."

I took the steps slowly, thinking over the words I was going to say to him. When I was sure I knew what to say, in order to justify my actions, I walked into the kitchen. Adam saw me and his blank stare came back.

"You came over earlier than I thought you would," he said.

"Yea… I know," I answered.

I stepped toward him and all the words I wanted to say to him, just disappeared. We stood before each other and the tension began to rise. I wanted to say something, anything to make things less awkward, but couldn't. I was so hopeless and I could feel my confidence beginning to slip. Before I could become completely frozen in fear, I stood on my tip toes and kissed him lightly. I pulled away, looking down at my feet. I couldn't look at him. I was almost embarrassed. That is, until he grabbed me and kissed me right back. As we kissed, I could feel the tension evaporate and realized that everything I felt I needed to say, he somehow already knew.


Here it is at last! Part One. Let me know what you think! Thanks!

-WMystic