4 exams down; 5 to go.
bleh, my writing is so off; theres way too much dialogue! lame ending, i know :|

thanks to: xxxsarabuddiexxx; RoxyHeart; ejn10175; tiktok09; ilovepunks; RoxyBabyX; PrincessCherokee01; SilverCharms13.

(i own nothing recognisable; song and title credit goes to Colbie Caillat.)

08. The way you take my hand, it's just so sweet; and that crooked smile of yours knocks me off my feet.

"I do want to go public again," I said down the phone to Adrianna and Phoenix: we were on three-way, "but I don't want it get all hyped up at school – and not that I want this to happen. No way – but imagine if we break up or something."

"You won't break up, trust me," Adrianna replied. "I know for a fact that my bro is done cheating and all that; he's so in love with you... unless, you do the cheating." With this, both she and Phoenix laughed. I was too busy wondering if they'd still be laughing if they found out I'd slept with Beck.

"I agree," Phoenix said, trying to reassure me. "The boy obviously idolises you – and let people hype it up; the school's golden couple is back!"

"But that's exactly what I don't want..." I replied, confused. Of course Adrianna and Phoenix wouldn't mind the limelight – Adrianna already had a sufficient amount and Phoenix was well-liked. But, that wasn't me. I wanted a cute, cosy relationship; a relationship where the couple wasn't watched twenty-four/seven; a relationship that had the potential to last.

We chatted a while longer, our conversation varying from Alex and me, Adrianna and Tristan and Phoenix and his many crushes, before I hung up the phone and got ready to go to work.

Polly's Florists was the cutest place ever. Polly – the owner of the florists and my boss – was a petite little thing. She was the personification of a flower from the daffodils in her hair to the artificial flowers on her pumps; but she was also the sweetest woman that I had ever met. She knew all about the happenings in my life. She, in all honesty, was one of my best friends – despite her being the same age as my mom. Yeah, I was pretty much a loser.

"So," I started after we'd exchanged the pleasantries, trying to pluck up the courage to tell her that I was with Alex, "I'm back with Alex."

"You are?" Polly asked, disbelief on her face. "But – how, why?"

I filled her in with all that had happened in the past week. "...and that's pretty much it; oh, Adrianna has a new boyfriend – I'm hoping they're for real, because she deserves better than Beck."

"Sweetheart, I'm still trying to get over everything that you've told me." The shop wasn't busy today so we had time for a chat. "And then you drop in Adrianna still liking Beck?! Your life's like an episode of The Hills, only it's not fake."

That was one of the things that I loved about Polly; she was so like a teenage girl, rather than a 32 year old woman.

I laughed uneasily, but Polly didn't see it as a joke. "I just don't want you to get hurt; when you and Alex broke up, you were distraught."

"Honestly, he's changed so much. Polly, if you could see him now..."

"He may have changed, but I can bet that he wouldn't be happy if he found out you and Beck." Polly was the only person that I had told about Beck and I sleeping together; it was too risky to tell even Phoenix.

"Polly, you're the only one who knows; he won't find out." I bit my lip, imaging the hell that would go down if Alex ever did find out. "I was so stupid that night."

I had to stop thinking about Alex, Beck and my muddle of a life as the customers started pouring in. The hours soon flew by what with all the work I had to do. It was ten o'clock in the evening by the time I had finished. "So, I'll see you next week," Polly said, handing me my wages for the day. "And Maddie – don't do anything you'll regret. Do it for you."

It was only when I was in my car that I wondered what she had meant by that. It was almost as if she'd known I'd been debating whether or not to come out as a couple at school.

I was all set to just drive home and relax, and then my phone rang. It was Alex.

"Do you wanna come over?" he asked, as soon as I answered.

"Er, I don't know, I've been to work all day so I'm pretty beat."

"Please." Alex rarely sounded so desperate, and it tugged on my heartstrings. "We could just chill, watch a movie."

"Fine," I said, turning left at the crossroads instead of the right I would have taken to get home. "I'll be there in five."

And true to my word, five minutes later I was parking on the huge driveway. Alex was already stood at the door. "Hey," he yelled from the doorway.

"Hi," I said, smiling as I got out of my car. "You're a little eager to see me."

He came to meet me halfway, wrapping his arms around me. "I've missed you." I smiled at him and, feeling bold, leant forward to kiss him.

"Let's go watch a film." I grabbed his hand, and let him lead me into the movie room. Yeah, the Wildings' were loaded.

We decided to watch Avatar, which was definitely my favourite movie. Jake and Neytiri had to be the sweetest couple ever.

"Weird how we're sat doing this," Alex said, stroking my hand as he spoke. "Like, I was a total dick to you. I'm so lucky that you gave me a second chance."

I looked at him intently; he genuinely looked grateful and sorry and hopeful. "You are lucky," I agreed. "But, truthfully, I couldn't stay away from you; it felt too weird, after being with you for half a year."

He put his arm around me, pulling me closer to his chest. I snuggled into him, enjoying being with Alex like this. We watched the movie until it ended and the two of us were practically entwined; I was lying half-on him, his arms around me and our legs tangled together. "This was nice," Alex said softly, planting a kiss atop my head. "I missed it."

"Me too," I agreed. "Alex? Should we, like, let the school know we're together?" Even though we'd been having the loveliest time it was something that had been playing on my mind. "I mean... I don't know."

"It's up to you," he said, looking at me deeply with his baby blues. "I couldn't care less about anyone else or what they think."

"Well, I'd rather keep it between us for now."

"Oh shit... baby, I already told Beck. I'm sorry; if I'd known, I wouldn't..."

"It's okay to tell Beck," I laughed. "I mean, you know, he's your best friend. You guys tell each other everything." Well, hopefully not everything.

"I won't tell anyone else if that's what you want; it'll be hard for me to contain my happiness, though."

I leant back against Alex, wondering if I was making a mistake. I mean, he seemed to love me and he seemed to be truly sorry for what he had done. I just didn't want to go through the heartbreak again.

"What you thinking about?" Alex's voice interrupted my pro/con thoughts on our rekindled romance.

"You," I answered, snuggling into him. And it was when his Alex smell hit me that I knew this was where I was meant to be.

Adrianna and I decided to go to Forever21 after our hard day at school; I mean, double Math first thing?!

"So, Tristan wants to meet you," Adrianna told me, grabbing a leopard print cardigan. "I was thinking that we – you, me, Tristan and Alex – could double date. I mean, Alex needs to do the official over-protective brother thing; two birds, one stone."

I picked up a grey dress with black polka dots and admired it against my body. "Sure. When?"

"Well, erm, I kind of promised Tristan tonight – he's busy any other night."

"Er, okay. It's a little short notice but I can work with that. Why don't you help me find a dress for tonight?"

I decided on a teal dress with a purple waist tie. Adrianna picked a hot pink ruched knit dress. "Does Alex know about this dinner?" I asked, as we paid for our purchases.

"... Not exactly. I was hoping you could tell him for me. Please!" Alex hadn't been too happy to hear that his sister had been dating a boy. He didn't even know that Tristan had blue hair – blue hair, to Alex, meant that the person sporting the unnatural hair colour had to be some sort of delinquent, drop-out.

"Fine," I said, mock-pouting.

"How are you and my brother? You seem so oblivious of each other at school."

"That's the plan. It's really hard to just ignore him, but gotta be done, you know." We walked to my car. I planned to drop Dria off, inform Alex of our double date and then get ready at the Wildings'. I was going with Adrianna and Alex; it didn't make sense to go home.

"Alex?" I knocked on his door, opening it to reveal Beck sitting on Alex's bed, Xbox remote in hand. "Erm, hi... is Alex around?"

"He just nipped to the bathroom." Was it me or did Beck look really pissed off?

"Are you okay? It's just you look a little, er, angry."

"It's nothing." He cleared his throat. "Really. So, you and Alex, huh?"

"Yeah, I told you that day."

He made an affirmative noise. We stood in an awkward silence until Alex walked in. "I am so going to – oh hey, baby." He leaned in for a kiss, but I pulled back. It didn't feel right to kiss Alex in front of Beck. "You okay?"

"Yeah, I just needed to tell you something."

"What is it?" His face looked panicked.

"It's nothing like that; just, Adrianna wants us to go on a double date with her and Tristan tonight."

"What?! I'm not going on a double date with my sister's boyfriend."

"Listen, you're obviously wound up by this. Why don't you go talk to Dria about it, hmm?"

Alex left, muttering stupid nothings under his breath, leaving me alone with Beck. I gingerly sat on Alex's bed, a few feet away from Beck. Alex's bed was huge.

"I don't bite, you know." Beck looked at me, one eyebrow raised. "You weren't so tentative around me before."

"Beck!" I hissed, looking around to make sure that no one was around to hear his idiotic statement.

"What? Maddie, calm down; I'm not gonna tell Alex about it, okay?" Seeing me exhale with relief, he pressed onto his other subject. "So, Adrianna's back in the dating game?"

I felt for Beck in that moment. He was trying to appear nonchalant but I had a feeling there were still some unrequited feelings in his heart for Dria – either that or he actually wasn't bothered. With Beck, who knew?

"Yeah, she's with Tristan. I'm meeting him for the first time tonight." I felt that the conversation was too revolved around me/Alex/Adrianna/Tristan, so I turned it to Beck. "So, do you like anyone at the moment?" As soon as the words had slipped from my mouth I regretted saying them. Way to be an idiot, Maddie!

To my surprise, Beck answered honestly. "I'm not totally interested in someone. There are a couple girls who've caught my eye, but... it's complicated, ya know?"

I nodded, wondering who he could be interested in: obviously Adrianna; maybe Sarah Logia or even Kristin Ramirez. Hmm...

Alex walked back in, muttering profanities under his breath. I was sure I heard the words 'stupid blue-haired motherfucker' a few times. "We're going," he stated to me. "Though I'm not happy about it."

I nodded, before getting up to go get ready in Adrianna's room. "It was nice talking to you, Beck." He stunned me by nodding and replying, "You too," before going back to kicking some butt on COD.

I got ready in Adrianna's room, ditching my white tee and jeans for my new dress, which I teamed with a pair of purple wedges. My hair was mussed into a messy bun, tendrils escaping to frame my face. I painted on eyeliner and applied voluminous amounts of mascara. Done!

Adrianna had already been ready for quite some time; I sensed that she was excited for the upcoming dinner date, which was going to be held at the new Italian place.

"Come on, let's go!" Adrianna singed to me. "It's nearly time and I don't want Tristan there all alone."

She went to get Alex, beaming at me as she dragged him down the hallway. He looked delectable in his simple attire of jeans and a teal tee – I had a feeling that was Dria's doing.

As we drove off I suddenly thought of Beck; and for some reason, I wanted to hug him as I pictured him acting all blasé about us leaving, mumbling how he had to go anyway.

Tristan looked like your typical punk boy: blue hair sweeping into his face, a lip piercing, shockingly green eyes and a t-shirt with the word 'Fuck' scrawled across it.

On seeing him, Adrianna had squealed – yes, squealed – and ran up to him, kissing him long and deep. Alex's grip on my hand tightened, and I noticed his jaw muscle was defined and jutting out. "Calm down," I whispered to him, running my thumb over his hand as we stood, unsure of what to do; Adrianna was still mauling the boy.

He sighed through his nose. "How can I calm down when he is frenching my sister right in front of me."

"Alex, don't play the over-protective brother too much. She really likes him." He turned to look at me, blue eyes intense. "You saw how cut up she was over Beck."

He said nothing to that, choosing to walk us over to the couple and clear his throat. The couple remerged for air, Tristan looking embarrassed in an I-don't-give-a-fuck way and Adrianna in an I-hate-my-brother-right-now way.

"I'm Tristan," Dria's boyfriend introduced himself, sticking one hand out.

"Alex." He slipped his hand into Tristan's, shaking it. By the look on Tristan's face, Alex was squeezing it a little too long. I nudged him, the universal sign for 'cut it out'.

Tristan's attention turned to me. "Hey, you must be Maddie." He leant forward, pecking me on the cheek. It was almost like he wanted to piss Alex off – yeah, not exactly the best idea.

"Let's go in, shall we?" Adrianna spoke up, sensing the mood drop about a billion degrees. I shot her a grateful look.

We were seated in a little booth, Adrianna and Tristan opposite me and Alex. Alex kept our hands entwined underneath the table. I squeezed his hand, trying to make sure he was okay. He squeezed it back.

We ordered pasta and chicken, the usual thing to order at an Italian restaurant.

"So, how long you two been together?" Tristan asked me, pointing at Alex with his fork. I had a feeling that Alex would like to jab Tristan in the face with that fork repeatedly.

"Er, just over six months." I decided to omit the details that we had broken up and then got back together.

"But Adrianna said you two broke up a few weeks ago, and then got back together." Apparently, someone hadn't omitted any details. Needless to say, the evening was a total bummer.

Whilst Tristan and Adrianna were 'saying goodbye', I leaned into Alex's embrace. "The night was a disaster, huh?" I asked, breathing in Alex's unique smell.

"I hate him." Alex's voice reverberated through my body. "What's up with my sister; like, what does she see in him? He's an annoying little shit who thinks he's all that. I mean, blue hair?! Blue hair? Who does that?"

"Alex –" I began, only to be cut off.

"And the way he kept smirking at you – and his little kissing you on the cheek stunt. I could have punched him."

"I know you're annoyed, but look at her – not now, 'cos they're totally swapping spit – she's so happy."

"I guess." Pause. "I think we should swap spit."

And so we did.