A/N- I cut down on some of the Spanish in this chapter since it's so freakin' long. The translations are at the bottom of the chapter since a few of them are hard to discern. Have fun, readers. I hope you enjoy this ridiculously long chapter. (Sorry if it's a bit rushed in some parts. It's been a busy week and a half.)


Shit.

Shit.

I had a dirty dream about Pepper last night.

SHIT.

Now before you jump to the conclusion that I'm a horny teenager who hasn't been laid in months, (That was a terrible example because it's true. Mierda.) let me explain myself. Or actually, let me explain what happened before the dream that forced me to have it. It wasn't entirely my fault. Pepper had just as much to do with is as I did. (In fact, it was all her fault. Let's go with that. It makes me feel a little bit less horrible about myself.) But now I'm avoiding the entire topic and rambling on. I'll get to the story now.

Last night, once I had changed into my pajamas and collected my thoughts, I slipped back into my bedroom and got under the blankets on the floor that Pepper had laid out. She had done a nice job and even added another pillow for me so I would be more comfortable while I slept. (Awwww. She cares about my pain.) But before I shut my eyes, I sat up and leaned back on the palms of my hands to see if Pepper was already asleep or not. I don't know why I decided to do this, but I did. Based on the way she was sprawled out across my entire bed and by the way her breathing was steady and deep, I guessed she was asleep. I could hear her soft snores from across the room and her hair was splayed out around her head like a dark halo across my pillows. One of her hands was sitting on her stomach and the other was hanging off the side of the bed, her delicate fingers curling in midair, practically begging to be touched.

She looks pretty, I thought.

I was about to lay back down and get myself some sleep, but a dull, dark shine caught my eye before I did so. I looked again.

She still had her lip ring in.

Pepper had told me countless times before that she was never supposed to sleep with her lip ring in because her hair would get tangled in it or she might accidentally rip it out. Maybe even both. Unfortunately, she often forgot about it and left it in at night, no matter how many times she told herself not to. So I whipped the covers off of myself and tiptoed over to her to unhook it and pull it out. I'd done it before, after all. It wasn't that hard.

I leaned over her sleeping form, being careful not to disturb her, and pressed my fingernail against the top of the ring's curve, searching for the small latch that would cause it to snap open. I couldn't help but notice that Pepper's soft lips were brushing my fingertips and I could feel her cool breath coasting across my knuckles, but I tried to remain focused on the task at hand. Once my nail slid into the small depression at the top of her lip ring, I clicked it open and slid it out of her mouth with ease. Then I reclosed the ring and set it on my nightstand so she would find it the next morning.

Once that was done, I stepped back over to my blankets and slid under them so I could get some actual sleep. It had been a long day. But of course, I couldn't sleep just yet. (I could never fall asleep immediately like Pepper did.) So I sat up on my elbows and watched Pepper sleep just a little bit more. Maybe she would have the same effect as counting sheep or something. I didn't know. But nevertheless, I creeped on Pepper while she slept.

Weird, I know. But bear with me, 'cause it gets weirder.

So as I was sitting there, staring at her sleeping form, she suddenly decided to furrow her eyebrows and shift her body around under the covers. I watched in sick fascination as she moaned and arched her back slightly, causing the covers to slip down so I could see the upper half of her body quite clearly. Pepper's arms then stretched above her head and her fingers gripped onto the top edge of the headboard, and she moaned again. Her head rolled back onto the pillow to expose her long, smooth neck. She gasped lightly. It was then that it dawned on me.

I was watching my best friend have a wet dream.

And hormones be damned if I didn't get turned on by the sight of it.

Pepper continued to moan and grip the headboard like it was her only lifeline, and I continued to stare in thinly veiled shock. I was actually watching her have a dream about sex! This was so wrong…and yet I couldn't bear to look away. She was too transfixing. I silently wondered who she was dreaming about (probably Will), but then she gasped out two syllables that almost stopped my heart.

"Alex."

I instinctively jumped to my feet, eyes wide. This shouldn't be happening. This couldn't be happening. We were best friends for Christ's sake. Best friends don't dream about having sex with each other! That's just…wrong. Really, really wrong. I had to stop it.

Walking over to the bed in two long strides, I leaned over Pepper and put my hands on either side of her face in an attempt to wake her up. Her skin was covered in a thin sheen of sweat and she was still moaning and gasping, but I didn't care. If I was going to get any sleep tonight, this had to stop.

"Pepper," I hissed, barely keeping control of my urges to take her right then and there. If she didn't quit saying my name, I might've done just that. "Wake up!"

She didn't. If anything, she just became more animated. Pepper began moaning my name more frequently and her breath was coming in sharp gasps. Her head rolled back on the pillow and her painfully smooth neck seemed to be inviting me to come and kiss it, but I stood firm and didn't take advantage of her in her current state. That would be even more wrong than this whole situation.

I slid my hands down her face to her shoulders (I took a little longer than necessary, I will admit.) and started shaking her. "Pepper! ¡Despierta!"

She woke up, alright. The second her eyes snapped open, her arms fell from the headboard and her body seemed to collapse back to its original position as if nothing had happened. The only indicator of what she had been dreaming about was the sweat on her body, her ragged breathing, and her eyes that had darkened with intense desire. Her pupils had dilated to an extreme and her usual-emerald eyes were now a sexy forest green colour as she looked up at me. I could feel my desire increasing as I looked into her eyes, but I somehow brought myself back to reality and shook the thoughts from my mind.

This is Pepper! What the hell is wrong with me lately? Honestly. Pepper had always been attractive, but this past year had been somewhat weird. I had started noticing how her hips swayed when she walked, how her eyes flashed and narrowed when she was angry, how her full lips would purse when she thought about something. Hell, I even noticed how she chewed on the end of her pencils and pens when she struggled over her Spanish homework. I always offered my help on worksheets and studying, but she considered having help from me a form of cheating. So she'd shoo me away and continue to stare at the same sentence for another two hours before calling me and asking for help. She was proud, but she knew when it was time to come to her senses and ask for help. That was one of the things that I found remarkably adorable in a woman, coincidentally.) But either way, something was up with me. I needed to figure it out.

"Hi," Pepper breathed, eyes still glued on my face. Her lips and cheeks were flushed bright red as we looked at each other, and I couldn't help but wonder what it would feel like to kiss her. Would it be soft and sweet? Hot and passionate? Maybe somewhere in the middle? I would never know.

I mentally slapped myself before quickly lying, "You looked like you were having a nightmare. ¿Estás bien?"

If it was possible, Pepper seemed to blush even more. (She totally knew that she just had a dirty dream about me. She just didn't want to admit it to me.) So naturally, she avoided the question by replying, "I don't know what you just said, but thanks for waking me up. I, uh…didn't say anything. Did I?"

I flashed her a devious smirk and replied rapidly, "Tenía un sueño sucio sobre mí. Me pareció bastante caliente."

Pepper's eyebrows furrowed and she opened her mouth to demand what I had just said to her, but I moved one of my hands from her shoulders and covered her mouth tightly. She glared up at me, but I ignored her. Then I lied once more, "No, you didn't say anything. But what had you so worked up? I'm curious to know."

Pepper's eyes seemed to look everywhere except me. She was flustered and embarrassed, obviously, and she was struggling for her words. I removed my hand from her mouth so she could answer me. Unfortunately, she decided to keep her mouth clamped shut and wouldn't say anything. Leaning away from her, I crossed my arms over my bare chest and raised an eyebrow in silent question. I knew she wouldn't tell me straight out, but I wanted to hear what kind of bullshit she would feed me to cover her ass on this one.

"Nothing," Pepper murmured. "It was just a nightmare."

"It seemed pretty serious," I urged, keeping the mirth out of my voice so she wouldn't suspect anything. "You were moving around and moaning really loud and you even held onto the hea-"

"Okay!" Pepper cut in, sitting up bolt right in bed to face me. The strap of her pale green camisole fell down over one of her shoulders, and she pushed it back up hastily with a scowl on her flushed red face. I followed the movement of her hand with my eyes, but she didn't notice my gaze because she continued sharply, "I get it! The nightmare was freakin' scary! But it's over now, so go back to sleep. It's two in the goddamn morning and I have to work this afternoon."

I held up my hands in a "don't shoot" gesture and cracked a small smile at her flustered appearance. She obviously was embarrassed about the whole thing, and I didn't want to make her mad by pushing her further. Taking my amused silence as invitation to go back to sleep, she flipped over so her back was to me and pulled the covers around her as if they could shield her from my questions. Chuckling, I stepped back to my makeshift bed and laid down, a smile still plastered on my face as I shut my eyes so I could sleep.

I wasn't sonriente for long.

It was my turn to be humiliated, apparently. Maybe Karma decided that I needed to pay up for torturing Pepper about the dream or something twisted like that. I say this because as soon as I fell asleep, I started having a vivid dream. And it wasn't the kind of dream where you win a million dollars or get chased by a man with a chainsaw who just so happens to look like your Uncle Enrique with a weird mustache; it was a vivid dream that involved Pepper lying on my bed in nothing but her underwear.

Yes. It was that kind of dream.

For the sake of my sanity (and so it enforces the fact that this DID NOT HAPPEN), I'll tell this story in nice, slanted italics. Here we go:

We were both in my room. Even without looking around to make sure, I knew that mi mamá wasn't in the house with us. If she had been there, I would've heard her Spanish cursing from the kitchen as she watched the latest soccer game and made sugar paste flowers for a cake. Considering that I heard none of that, I knew that we were alone. The full moon was high and bright outside of my window, casting silvery shadows over everything, including the woman who was lying on her side on my bed. Her long dark hair was wavy and thick, and her familiar green eyes were focused on the chili pepper she was rolling around in between her fingers. She was in nothing except a pair of thin panties and a black lacy bra that left almost nothing to the imagination, and I was feeling funny just looking at her.

"There you are," Pepper said, still focused on the chili. "I was thinking you wouldn't show."

"…Huh?"

She looked up at me, raising an eyebrow. "Eloquent. That's what you are."

I shook my head, subconsciously knowing this was wrong. "Pep, put your clothes back on."

"No."

"Yes."

"No."

"Yes."

"Come closer so I can kiss you."

"What the hell? We're friends," I insisted. "Friends don't let friends kiss each other. They also don't let each other have messed-up dreams about making out or having sex. At least not about each other!"

"That made no sense if you take it literally," she said, frowning. She finally looked up and me and shifted around so that she was now sitting on the edge of the bed and I had a very nice view of her breasts. I had to take a few deep breaths in order to get ahold of myself. She continued, "We're the only ones here and you're the one dreaming about me. How am I supposed to stop you from thinking?"

I frowned and muttered some curses in Spanish. Surprisingly she didn't question me about the translation. Instead, she bit into the chili pepper and made a large show of curling her lips up and showing off her pretty teeth that had taken three years of braces to correct. She was baiting me, I knew that much.

"Stop that," I ordered, focusing on the moon outside instead of Pepper's scantily-clad body. My heart rate quickly escalated into oblivion as she stretched her long, lean legs out in front of herself and bent over to wrap her hands around her heels with ease. She smirked up at me. Damn, she was flexible. (What was I saying? Pepper had always been a bendy person, ever since she started taking gymnastics when she was four. She quit when she was sixteen, but she still had a crazy flexibility factor that often helped out with our pranks.) I tried not to look at her out of respect, but I could still see her out of the corner of my eye.

"You're not going to use this opportunity?" She asked, straightening back up and leaning back on her palms against my bed. Her taut stomach caught my gaze and I stared for a moment before I realized that she had said something to me.

"Que?"

Pepper rolled her eyes and stood up, crossing the room so she could stand in front of me to speak. Her fingers started running up and down my chest in a teasing manner and my breath hitched when her slender index finger slipped into the waistband of my pajama pants for half a second before resuming her activity. But when her hands began to slide down my stomach again—painfully slow, I might add—my hands flashed up and caught both of her wrists before she did anything stupid.

"Stop it. You know this is wrong."

She blew a stray lock of dark hair out of her eyes and chuckled, whispering, "I'm only a figment of your imagination. Pepper will never know this happened, so why not use this to your advantage?"

Okay, maybe she was right. This was only a dream, after all. What could a little experimentation hurt? Maybe if I kissed her here in my mind, my messed-up feelings would sort themselves out and everything would be back to normal the next morning. It couldn't hurt to try, right?

I turned back to Dream-Pepper and clenched my jaw, hating myself for a bit for doing this. She was my best friend, the one who always had my back, the one whom I could trust with my life. But I shoved those thoughts aside. If I thought about this, I would never be able to go through with it.

My brain emptied of all reason as I dropped Pepper's hands, clutched her face, and kissed her with everything I had.

I deserve to go to hell for this, was the last thing I thought before her tongue slipped into my mouth and began exploring every crevice. I groaned loudly as her fingers tangled in my hair, and we started shuffling back towards the bed clumsily. As soon as her knees hit the mattress, she dropped onto her back and I descended like a ravenous dog, ready to get this problem out of the way.

"Pepper…"

The rest, as they say, is some seriously fucked-up history.

I woke up the next morning gasping for air with a cold sweat covering my body and a small problem in my lower regions. I cursed loudly and began to get up, but covered my mouth as I looked over towards my bed. If Pepper had heard any of that dream, she wouldn't lie and say she thought it was a nightmare. Pepper never lied to me. Ever. (Sometimes I hated that about her. On more than one occasion I had walked into first period and she interrupted my greeting with a half-yelled, "What in the hell possessed you to wear that? You look like Abercrombie and Fitch's lovechild blew up in a goddamned department store. Go put on your leather jacket so I can actually be seen with you in public.") So because of her honesty, I seriously hoped she hadn't heard any of The Dream.

I turned around slowly, waiting to see her to be sitting there with a video camera and cruel smirk on her face, but I let out the breath I had been holding when I realized she wasn't in the room at all. I ran a hand over my face and put my head in my hands, relief washing over me like a damn tidal wave. I was safe. Then I began to fix the other "problem" at hand. For all you females out there, I'll ditch the details on that one.

A small musical hum broke me out of my reverie and I looked up towards the door of my bathroom, which was shut. I could see light and steam coming out from under the door, and I suddenly realized that Pepper must've been taking her shower. That's why she hadn't caught me while I slept! Thank God that luck was on my side that morning; Pepper's showers were always ridiculously long.

Then a thought occurred to me.

Pepper was in my bathroom.

Showering.

That meant that…

She. Was. Naked.

Blood roared in my ears and spots sprang into my vision as I stood up abruptly from where I had been sitting. I attempted to clear my head of all dirty thoughts of Pepper as she softly hummed in my bathroom, but I couldn't do it for some reason. (It was probably because she was humming one of my favourite American songs, and also because I kept picturing what we had done in my dream. I wondered if she was that skilled in real life.)

I ran a hand through my hair as I stumbled towards my bedroom door, my balance still off from standing up so quickly. My hip accidentally collided with my dresser on the way there and forced me to careen off course and slam my shoulder into the wall next to my door with a loud thud. Pepper stopped singing at the noise. Panicking, I fumbled with the doorknob. I was muttering Spanish curses and blinking the stars out of my vision as my hand searched for the cool metal knob. When I found it, I turned it harshly and wrenched the door open. Once it swung out as far as possible, I stepped outside and slammed it shut with a kick of my foot. Then I leaned on the wall and slid down to the floor before putting my head in my hands and groaning in defeat.

"I am so stupid," I mumbled into my hands.

As I said before, I knew Pepper was attractive. I had seen that woman in a lot less than her own boyfriend ever had, for crying out loud. She'd been my friend for years. The entire school knew that we were a package item – if you wanted Pepper, you got Alex too – and everyone knew that we were only friends despite the rumours that happened to flash around school during sophomore year. Pepper and Alex. Alex and Pepper. It was like two plus two.

"Alejo!" A sharp voice suddenly yelled from downstairs. I jumped in surprise and looked up from my hands, not expecting mom to crash into my thoughts like that.

I squinted down the stairwell before calling back, "Si?"

"Are you all right? That sounded very painful."

I frowned and began to ask what she meant, but then I realized. She had heard me slam into the wall and close the door with much more force than I usually did. (Note to self: Work on stealth and try being somewhat more coordinated.) I fumbled for an excuse to hide the fact that I was running from Pepper, but settled on a simple, "I'm fine."

She seemed suspicious of my answer because she didn't reply right away. I was about to follow up with a quick apology, but then she yelled back, "Okay…if you say so. I think breakfast is going to be cereal and fruit today. I will go to the grocery store later so you don't have to suffer long."

"Gracias, mamá," I replied, standing back up so I could go downstairs. Pepper had resumed her humming and I could hear it through the thin walls of my room, and she was damn near driving me crazy. I needed to get away from her before I barged in there and recreated my dream to a T. So instead I loped down the stairs two at a time and proceeded to walk into the kitchen. Mamá barely even blinked when she saw me come in without a shirt on and continued to silently do her crossword in the morning paper. She was sitting at the kitchen island with a pen twirling between her fingers and her coffee was at her right hand, and she was dressed in casual clothes since it was Saturday and she didn't have to go into the bakery for work. I walked straight past her and opened the fridge to pull out the milk. I hid behind the door as I drank it straight of the carton, but mamá was too distracted by her crossword to notice me anyway. Once I had taken a long drink, I set the carton back in the fridge and pulled out a mango before shutting it behind me.

Pulling a knife out of the wooden block on the counter, I hopped onto a stool next to her and began to cut the orange flesh away from the seed and peel the skin off of the mango. She didn't even look at me.

I was just popping a large cube of mango into my mouth when she murmured, "So how did you sleep last night?"

I choked. I started coughing spastically and beating my chest with my fist to get the mango to go down the right pipe, all while mi mamá stared at me with her eyebrows furrowed and her pen frozen in mid-twirl. Though once my coughing subsided and the fruit went down properly, I managed to rasp, "Fine. Everything was fine."

Eyes still trained on me in concern, she folded up her crossword and set it aside before slowly turning to face me on the kitchen stool. She seemed to be searching my eyes for answers to her silent questions, and she cocked her head to the side. "Just 'fine'?"

I nodded and busied myself with stacking my irregularly-shaped mango cubes in a small tower on top of the counter. When the tower teetered and fell over, mamá elaborated casually, "Oh really? I assumed it was more than just fine, based on the noises I heard from you and Pepper almost all night long."

I groaned and ran a hand over my face, pinching the bridge of my nose in frustration. I did not want to deal with this, especially not after what had transpired that morning with the dreams and the weird feelings in the pit of my stomach. Mom was only making it worse by hinting as to what she thought went on in my room during the night. I mumbled my plea from behind my fingers. "Not this morning, por favor. It was a rough night."

"I'll say."

"Mamá!" I cried out while my face flushed bright red. If Pepper were to come downstairs and overhear our innuendo-laden conversation, things would get awkward fast and I couldn't let that happen. Things were awkward enough already. So I stood up from the island abruptly, abandoned my mango, and turned towards the stairs so I could go to my room to dressed quickly and take Pepper back home. Then we'd both have time to sort out our weird behaviour over the rest of the weekend and things would be back to normal on Monday when we went back to school.

Yeah, I didn't believe myself either.

Mamá chuckled and called after me, "Alex, it's okay to have dreams about Pepper. At your age, it's completely normal!"

I stopped dead in my tracks right as I reached the stairs. My hand tightened on the railing and I contemplated getting the duct tape out of the garage and putting it to good use on her mouth, hands, and feet. But I allowed the colour to slowly fade back into my knuckles as I spun back around and muttered viciously, "I did not have a dream about Pepper."

"Oh, yes you did," she countered with a small smile, crossword and coffee completely forgotten on the island. She put her hands on her knees and leaned forward a little bit as she continued in a whisper, "And I know that she had one about you too. Don't try to lie to me. Honestly, I think it's cute."

"Shit, ma, I don't want to talk about this!"

"Language," she warned, her maternal and non-evil instincts kicking back in for a second.

Although by this point, I was about ready to lunge forward and strangle her so she would shut up. Sure, I knew Pepper had a dirty dream about me. I was there, for God's sake! And Pepper doesn't exactly know many guys named Alex, unless she was fantasizing about a movie star that I didn't know about. (Oh man, that would suck. I know I'm attractive and all that, but being compared to a movie star would blow me out of the water. Fame and fortune can hold a damn good fight against my abs and pecs, unfortunately. Fuck my life.)

But instead of throttling my own mother to death, I decided to be civil and sit back down on the stool where I previously had been. Hell, maybe she could help a little bit and explain what was up with my emotions. So I put my elbows up on the counter and rested my chin in my hands as I said very slowly and quietly, "I feel…strange around Pepper lately."

Mamá quietly smoothed down my hair in a very motherly way before smiling and replying softly, "Do you want to talk about it?"

I rubbed my eyes with the heel of my hands and sighed, silently reliving the dream from last night. The skin-on-skin contact, the breathy whispers, the cries of sheer ecstacy. I almost groaned right then and there. Even though I knew it hadn't been real, I still shivered. I kept thinking about what it would be like to do that in real life with Pepper. Would she act the same way? Probably not. She's one of the most closed-off and hard-to-get girls I knew. But then again, I'd never get the chance to find out. Pepper was happy with Will. She…"loved" him. At least that's what she told me.

I distractedly squished one of my leftover mango cubes under my index finger as I muttered, "I think I just need a girlfriend or something. I've been single for too long. Besides, Pepper would never-"

"Morning, Mrs. Camacho," a clear voice called out.

"Mierda," I breathed, straightening my shoulders and clearing my throat so she wouldn't suspect anything had been going on before she came downstairs. Mom dropped her hand from my hair and turned around, a smile plastered on her face. She absolutely loved Pepper. Every time she came over, mom usually made enchiladas garnished with the spiciest chilli peppers she could find. Then they would laugh with each other and talk all evening while I hid in the living room and watched a soccer game. It wasn't like they talked about shopping or something girly like that; I just liked to give them time to chat and to have some "girl time." Pepper and I were practically inseparable. She needed a break from my testosterone every now and then.

"¡Buenos días, Pepper!" She cried out, holding her arms out in a welcome gesture. The movement made me look up with a small smile due to her enthusiasm, but the smile fell when I saw Pepper.

Oh, shit.

She was walking down the stairs with a towel in her hand, drying her hair as she approached us. The bad part about this situation was the fact that she was wearing what she had worn to bed the night before. So in other words, Pepper wasn't leaving much to my evil imagination. I dropped my forehead to the counter with a painful thud and started muttering to myself in Spanish. (Did she have to look so damn sexy while walking around in her pyjamas? Honestly. There should be laws.)

I felt mi mamá give me a strange look, but I ignored her and continued to beat my head against the counter in a steady rhythm, trying to gain control of my thoughts. Meanwhile, Pepper hugged my mother and came around the island to the other side of me, setting her towel on the seat before taking a seat on the stool directly to my right.

Goddammit, I can see her legs. Her flexible, tan, lean-

"Did you sleep well, Pepper?" Mamá asked, feigning innocence. I ground my teeth and resisted the urge to kick her in the shin under the island. I loved her to death, but sometimes I just wanted to murder her for her meddlesome tendencies.

But I stopped pounding my forehead against the counter for a moment so I could hear Pepper's answer. I was confused when she didn't answer right away. For a second, the only noise in the house was the heat coming through the vents near the floor and the faint rumble of passing cars. But then she responded as if she hadn't missed a beat, "Yep. Alex's bed is pretty awesome."

She nodded and gently nudged me with her foot before saying, "Well feel free to use it any time you want. I'm sure Alejo wouldn't mind."

My head immediately snapped up at the suggestive tone of her voice. I glared harshly and spat out, "Basta. Ahora mismo. Usted no sabe lo que está haciendo."

"Cállate. Estoy haciendo un favor."

I opened my mouth to say something else to keep up my end of the argument, but Pepper rested a hand on my shoulder and interrupted with a quick, "Not everyone here speaks Spanish, you know. It'd do me a shit-load of good if I knew what you guys were saying."

Ignoring the tingly feeling of Pepper's small hand on my bare shoulder, I nodded and relaxed my position and leaned my elbows against the island once again. Mi mamá just smirked at me and scooted her chair out from the island before gathering her crossword and coffee. I furrowed my eyebrows, wondering what the hell she was doing, but she leaned over and kissed my cheek before I could actually ask her what was up. Then she told us that she would be retiring to the front porch while the air was cool to finish her crossword. Without another word, she left me and Pepper alone in the kitchen. We lapsed into semi-stunned silence.

"Well," Pepper quipped, shattering the awkwardness. "I'm kind of hungry."

I motioned to the fridge with a wave of my hand and grumbled something about milk, fruit, and toast. Pepper, having been an expert in my early-morning language, lightly hopped off her stool and strode over to the fridge like she owned the damn place. But because my life sucks, she opened the fridge and leaned inside to search for potential breakfast food, giving me a nice view of her ass. I groaned and put my face in my hands in shame.

I really need to get laid.

"Something wrong?" Pepper asked, looking back and me with concern etched on her face. I shook my head and forced a small smile, which she thankfully bought. She went back to looking for breakfast.

"So," I began awkwardly, fiddling with my thumbs. Pepper perked up a little at my voice, but she didn't say anything to help me along. Damn her.

Finally deciding on what to say, I continued, "You like my bed?"

I could almost hear her smirk at the lame conversation starter. Pepper slowly leaned away from the fridge and shut the door with her foot, a plastic container of pineapple in one hand. I watched her rummage around in one of the drawers for a fork and plop down in the seat next to mine, her eyes showing her amusement. I was glad she didn't ridicule me like she usually would. Wordlessly, she popped the top off of the pineapple and started shovelling the small yellow cubes into her mouth, moaning in pleasure at the taste. Another reason why my best friend was too cool for words: She had good taste in fruit.

"It's pretty comfortable," she admitted through a mouth full of pineapple, her gaze not straying from her breakfast. I was practically transfixed on her lip ring as she swallowed thickly. "And your pillow smells like you. It's relaxing."

I chuckled, picking up a lukewarm chunk of mango off the counter and popping it in my mouth. Pepper often told me how much she appreciated the fact that I didn't wear cologne. ("Will practically marinates in the stuff. I'm glad you're different.") I guess she just liked my shampoo or something. (Ginger. It's good stuff.)

"I'm glad you like it. I was on the cold, hard floor, in case you didn't notice."

Pepper held up her fork and waved it in front of my face. "I said no whining, Alex."

"You said no 'sexy Spanish' whining," I reminded her. "I am not speaking Spanish, so this doesn't count."

Her pale pink lips were pursed and she twirled her fork around through her fingers as she thought through my logic. Then after a moment, she concluded, "You're an asshole. Have I ever told you that?"

Plucking a chunk of pineapple from her container, I replied, "Many times. I just don't believe you."

"You suck."

"You love me."

"You know what I love?"

"My accent?"

"Your accent is barely noticeable when you get going in English," she pointed out. "But when you do speak your language, I find it remarkably attractive."

I snapped my fingers and grinned devilishly, pointing my finger and Pepper's nose. "I knew it. You totally want me."

"You're missing the point here. Do you know what I love?"

"Pineapple?"

Pepper thought for a moment. She pointed her fork at me and nodded briskly, saying, "Besides that."

"Shirtless Latino hombres that make you weak at the knees?"

"You're ridiculous."

"Well I'm obviously not going to guess this right so you might as well tell me. Or should I keep guessing random things?"

Pepper rolled her eyes in amused annoyance. Motioning to me with a wave of her fork, she explained, "Your tattoos, Alex. I love your tattoos."

I'll admit, my pride swelled a bit when she said that. I had nine tattoos all over my chest, back, and arms that I had gotten this past year. They were mainly tribal designs that had no rhyme or reason to them, except for the one in the middle of my back and the ones on my hands. The one on my back was of an upside down triangle formed out of Spanish calligraphy that roughly translated into the Hail Mary, the prayer mi madre said before bed every single night. But out of all of them, the small bullets that were inked into the back of my hands and the underside of my wrists were my favourites.

I smiled. "Which one's your favourite?"

Pepper looked at me out of the corner of her eyes and scanned over my body for a few seconds. Her eyes seemed to linger on my stomach (not that I minded), but then she turned back to her pineapple and replied evenly, "I like the one on your chest. It's…pretty, I guess. But the ones on your hands are pretty badass."

"Thanks," I said sincerely. Then I remembered something. "Hey, you said you were thinking about getting a tattoo. Any ideas about that yet?"

She shook her head. "Not yet. I was going to ask you."

"Well I do have a small idea," I began, tracing a random pattern on the counter. The idea had come to me earlier that morning when I was thinking about Pepper outside of my room, and I figured now was as good a time as ever to let her know about it. I popped a few of my knuckles nervously as I explained, "This might sound stupid and you probably won't want to use it, but I was thinking that you could get a tattoo of a chili pepper behind your ear or something. You always want to start out small with tattoos, and that'd be a good place to start."

Pepper cracked a smile at me, her lip ring curling up in the most adorable way. She nodded and said approvingly, "I think I'll do that. But on one condition."

I cocked an eyebrow. "¿Qué?"

"You have to get one too. So we never forget each other when we go to college next year."

I frowned and shot her a confused look. Her green eyes were deceptively open – a look that Pepper hardly ever wore around in public. Usually her expression screamed, "If you cross me, I will flay you" or "Don't fuck with the brunette." Sometimes even, "I have a secret that you'll never figure out and I find it hilarious that you don't know what that is." She was a very intimidating woman if you didn't know her like I did. (And even as well as I knew Pep, she still scared me at times. And I knew which pair of her underwear was her favourite, for God's sake. You can't know anyone better than that.) But with this special expression on her face, I couldn't seem to form any other words besides, "Alright."

Pepper flashed me a grin and leaned her shoulder into mine in a friendly manner as she said, "Thanks, Alex."

I gave her a sincere half-smile back and leaned the side of my head against hers for a moment while she was still leaned against me. "You're welcome."

I could feel Pepper's piercing gaze on me, so I looked up and met her eyes. For a moment, she frowned and seemed…confused. Almost like she was having an internal argument with herself about something. I was about to question her about it, but she interrupted my voice by suddenly standing up and setting the now-empty plastic container in the sink. She washed her hands, avoiding my eyes all the while, and dried them on her shirt hastily. I frowned at her strange behaviour. Why did she seem so nervous and jumpy all of a sudden? Was it something I said? Was it about the dreams? If my own mother heard me from down the hall (three rooms down, for God's sake. I must've been really excited.), Pepper no doubt had woken up and heard me. Hopefully I hadn't said her name while I slept, but I wouldn't hold my breath. I had a habit of sleep-talking.

Making a split-second decision to ask about the night before, I blurted, "Pep, did I-"

"We should check Facebook for news on our prank," she interrupted, pulling her hair up into a tight ponytail that rested high on her head. The dark, wavy tendrils brushed the razorback of her sports bra as she moved around the island and brushed past me on my stool, making me grit my teeth. I hated it when she avoided an important topic like that. It was so annoying.

Pepper started toward the stairs. Silently cursing, I brushed my hands off on my pyjama pants and hopped off the kitchen stool before following her up to my room in annoyed silence. She never even looked back at me or asked what I had been about to ask her before she interrupted me.

I decided that I would talk to her about it later when I was driving her home that afternoon. I pushed the thoughts to the back of my mind as we entered my room once more, moving over to my desk. Pepper took the only chair and flipped over my laptop, typing in my password (If she ever feels like jacking my computer, I'm screwed. She somehow knows all of my passwords. I never asked her how she figured them out, because I didn't really want to know.) and pulling up Facebook while I snatched a semi-clean t-shirt off of the floor and yanked it on. Thankfully, she opened her own page instead of my own and started sifting through her newsfeed. I ran my hands through my hair a few times before lumbering over, setting a hand on the back of Pepper's chair and setting the other on the desk, and leaning over her shoulder to read the status updates from that morning.

Brad Miller is now single.

"OH MY GAWD BRAD MILLER IS GAY HAHAHAHA. BEST BIRTHDAY PARTY EVER. HAHAHA."

"I don't even want to know what that smell was in his room. It smelled like really bad fish and a landfill meshed together. And the posters…*shudder* I have to say though, the expression on Leah's face was pretty priceless. GREAT MORNING, PEOPLE! :D"

I can't believe he led me on like that…I though he was The One. Well you know what? I'm done. I'm sick of your lies and your deceit. So you can go rot in hell for all I care! I'm an independent woman!

Hannah Bullock added 17 new pictures to the album, "BRAD'S WAKE-UP CALL xD."

"Wow," Pepper remarked, sounding mildly impressed as she scrolled through all of the updates and pictures about our prank. I grunted in assent and squinted at the tiny words on the screen that were practically in a different language. (What the hell does, "Lmaololrotflqwerty!" mean? And people say Spanish is confusing.) I leaned over Pepper's shoulder further when she pulled up a few pictures of her handiwork. As she narrated what she did while she was in Brad's room while I was outside, I noticed the lingering scent of her damp hair.

She used my shampoo. Her hair smelled like ginger, but her normal lemony scent was still there like usual. Why is it that she still smells better than I do when she uses my own damn hair care products and soap? Life just isn't fair.

"I have a feeling he's going to be single for a while," Pepper murmured, liking every single status about the incident at Brad's house.

"I have a feeling you're right," I replied.

Pepper clicked on Hannah's album and cycled through more of the pictures, chuckling when she came across the one of Brad sitting up in bed, horror written all over his face. The posters were in the background on his bedroom wall, taped up perfectly and neatly, but not so neat that they looked like he didn't so it himself. Pepper had done a nice job in his room. The whole look was very convincing, if I do say so myself. She was damn good at what she did; I just hoped she'd never use it against me.

But then I noticed the magazines on his nightstand.

My mouth dropped open before I could stop myself. I sputtered for words and ended up saying something in Spanish that roughly translated into, "Are you shitting me?" Pepper furrowed her eyebrows and turned her head slightly so she could ask me what I said, but I jabbed my finger at the screen before she could. Her eyebrows furrowed for a moment, but her face relaxed when she figured out what I was pointing at. Her eyes widened.

"Did you-"

"No," she said, shaking her head dumbly.

"Are you su-"

"Yes!"

"Then how-"

"I have no fucking clue!" She cried out, looking at the screen with an expression that mixed confusion, shock, horror, and amusement and put them into an entirely new emotion. She leaned away from me and turned, giving me a look that said, "I did NOT plant those." We both turned back to the screen.

There, on Brad's nightstand in a messy pile, were gay porn magazines.

This many surprises in one day could not be beneficial to my heath. At all. I wouldn't even have blinked if Keira Knightly suddenly burst in through my window with a flamethrower and a copy of Charlotte's Web, screaming revenge for the dead spider. (Honestly, that would've been pretty entertaining. But since Keira didn't come crashing into my room, Pepper and I remained in stunned silence, staring at the picture.)

"That's…"

"Hilarious," I finished, allowing myself to crack a small smile at our little bout of fortune. Pepper shot me a confused look, her ponytail brushing my nose as she turned her head. When she saw my half-smile and my glittering dark eyes though, she allowed herself to smile slowly and chuckle. Her chuckle died down after a moment and I watched in a sudden stint of desire as her teeth lightly grazed her lip ring, a smile still on her face.

"Looks like I wasted a bit of your time last night," she said, a faint smile still playing across her lips. "We didn't really have to do anything at all."

Before I thought it through and stopped myself, I plopped my chin down on her shoulder and shrugged uncaringly. She stiffened a bit at the skin-on-skin contact, but soon relaxed and leaned her head against mine in a caring yet friendly (Goddammit) gesture. Trying not to think about how smooth her skin was, I muttered, "I don't mind. If I'm with you, my time is never wasted."

"If that wasn't sappy, I don't know what is."

"And yet you still keep me around."

"Only because you speak Spanish and have ridiculously well-styled hair," she retaliated without missing a beat.

"Well at least someone notices it."

Pepper laughed and threw her head back, startling me into a standing position once more. I looked down at her with a raised eyebrow, silently asking where the heck that had come from. She shook her head and held up a finger for me to wait while she finished up laughing, a grin still plastered on her face. Then she explained, "Sorry about that. It's just…I mean, you've got to be shittin' me, Alex. You think I'm the only one who notices your looks? Are you a moron or just painfully oblivious?"

I furrowed my eyebrows, slightly insulted. Sure, Pepper was always blunt when it came to explaining something – she could really hurt someone if she didn't watch her mouth – but she wasn't usually this harsh with me. (Truth is, I'm usually the one who keeps her from getting slapped by some of the girls in our school. Most of them can't stand her because she's so painfully honest.)

"Que?"

Pepper closed down her Facebook page, snapped my laptop shut, and stood up from her chair so she could face me. Although she was a tall woman, she still had to tilt her chin up to look at me. (What can I say? Six feet was a few inches ago.) When she did though, her expression was one of disbelief, as if she was having a hard time processing what I had said.

She opened her mouth to speak, but closed it and frowned instead of saying anything. Then she tugged on the end of her ponytail nervously and thought for a moment, flashing a smirk at whatever she was thinking about. It quickly dropped off her face.

"Alex, you're one of the smartest people I know, and yet somehow you can be completely dense sometimes. Don't you see how those girls in school look at you when you walk through the hallways?"

Well, this was news to me. But you can't really blame me for not knowing – I was always with Pepper when I walked to classes. She was the only one I ever wanted to notice. The rest of the girls in school couldn't even hold a candle to my best friend. "I don't really care about them."

"Like hell you don't," she scoffed. She crossed her arms over her chest and continued, "You're one of the most sought-after guys in school. Don't pretend you don't know that."

"Then why don't they ask me out?" Excellent question, self. Excellent question.

Pepper rolled her eyes and blew a stray lock of hair out of her face. Then she gave me a pointed look and replied, "Because half of them are convinced that you're dating me. Bullshit, I know, but it's what they think. Either that or because they're scared of us."

"Mostly you," I pointed out. It was true.

"I'm not that scary."

I shook my head, internally chuckling at her naivety. Yes, she was smart when it came down to blowing something up or sneaking through a window, but the rest of her street-smarts weren't exactly up to par with the rest of our generation's. (But don't think for a second that she was dumb. She wasn't book-smart, she wasn't street-smart; she was Pepper-smart. She could name off every single Beatles song even recorded, tell you the best way to break into a music store in the mall, and whether or not your ex-boyfriend was worth crying over. Pepper had an interesting stash of knowledge up there in her head, and that was one of the things that I liked about her. The woman also knew more about fixing cars than I did. Demeaning? Yes. Useless? Hell no. Was I jealous? YOU HAVE NO IDEA.) Feeling the familiar urge to help her out and elaborate on what I was thinking, I explained, "It's not just because you're intimidating. Don't get me wrong – you're a terrifying woman who puts the fear of Dios in everyone you meet – but it's also partly because you're so popular around school."

She shot me an "are-you-on-crack?" look and wrinkled her nose in disgust. "I'm not popular."

"You have more influence over the school than the principal does."

"That just means that people fear me," Pepper pointed out bitterly. "Kelsey Marcolla is popular; not me. And you know very well how I avoid her crowd like the plague."

I shrugged and smiled faintly. "Yeah, but everyone hates her; including her friends. You're the one that the people admire."

Pepper threw up her hands and rolled her eyes in exasperation, crying out, "Well my phone isn't exactly ringing off the hook with hot guys—"

"I call you," I protested, feigning hurt.

Her expression fell and morphed into one that basically printed out its own post-it note that said, "Shut the hell up, Alex, before I murder you." I complied with her telepathic wishes immediately, a smile and a low chuckle bubbling their way to the surface. She continued on with a pointed look aimed at me, "And I don't have a ridiculous amount of friends. Just you, pretty much. And Will, but he doesn't really count since we're dating. I'm not popular."

I shrugged and leaned my hip against my desk, crossing my arms over my chest and giving her my best, "Whatever," stance. I knew she was right about that, but she didn't know that there were different kinds of popular. Pepper fell into the category of people who everyone knew and admired, but were feared by the same reasons they were admired and known. I decided not to point this out because then the argument would've gone on forever, knowing Pepper's stubbornness, and dropped it. She seemed to take the hint and huffed before flopping back onto my bed, eyes squeezed shut.

I couldn't help but notice how her green camisole rode up to expose a bit of the tan flesh on her stomach. (But honestly, can you blame me for looking? After all that's been going on? I am a guy, for what it's worth. Appreciating beauty is not tabooed completely in the Best Friend Code for Men. At least, it isn't in mine.)

Our comfortable silence was soon interrupted by the sound of "Blackbird" coming from underneath the pillows on my bed. I was confused for a second, trying to figure out what the hell was making that noise, when Pepper's eyes flashed open. She cursed loudly as she turned over, shoving her hands under the two pillows and feeling about to find the music source.

My face relaxed into understanding when she pulled out her cell phone and sat up, frowning at the screen.

"Answer it," I urged when she didn't make a move to do so.

Pepper shook her head and the crease in between her dark eyebrows became more pronounced with every note that blared from the small black device. She looked up at me and hissed, "I don't know the number."

I just looked at her.

She looked back.

Paul McCartney kept on singing.

The chorus was almost at an end.

"Answer the damn phone, Pep!"

She tapped the screen and held it up to her ear, asking in a flat voice, "Hello?"

She paused for a moment, listening to whoever was talking on the other end. I strained to hear them, but the only thing I could distinguish was that the caller was female. (Not very helpful.) I quickly straightened up and walked over to my bed and sat down next to Pepper, putting my ear near her hand so I could hear everything the caller was saying to her.

"…you could do the same for me?" was all I heard on the other line.

I turned and silently asked Pepper what was going on, but she waved me off dismissively and continued to frown as she conjured up a response to the strange girl. I leaned back in so I could hear more.

"I'm sorry," Pepper replied, sounding genuinely confused and yet cold as ice at the same time. "But how the hell did you get my number again? I don't think you've ever talked to me before in your entire life."

"Everyone in school has your number, Pepper," the girl said, sounding exasperated. "It's like a get-out-of-jail-free card for us. And I'm cashing in on mine right now. I know you helped Leah out with her Brad problem. She told me all about it."

"No comment," Pepper said through clenched teeth.

The strange girl sighed over the phone and cursed softly, as if someone nearby would hear her and condemn her for speaking such foul words. (Innocence. It makes me laugh.) She tried again with a small, "Please, Pepper? That stunt you pulled this morning was amazing. I'm guessing Alex helped too, right? You guys are basically inseparable during school."

"I neither confirm nor deny that we had any part in that," she replied defiantly, tilting her chin up in the air to make herself feel better. Her lip ring glinted in the sun that was coming through my bedroom windows and it moved subtly as she sneered, "So you can leave me alone now."

Pepper pulled the phone from her ear and was about to end the call with the mysterious girl, but a shrill cry from the end of the line stopped her from doing so. She pulled the phone back to her ear and narrowed her eyes unconsciously, disliking this girl's persistence. "What?"

The girl decided to switch tactics, seeing as she was making Pepper mad. She started to blabber on about how much she needed Pepper's help and how she'd do anything in return just to get us to dish out a little revenge on Megan Turnhouse for sleeping with her boyfriend at a party a few weeks ago. The girl was floundering, that was for sure, and this seemed to anger Pepper further. Begging was never her favourite thing to listen to. She despised it, actually. I could tell that Pepper was about to let loose her fury on the girl and hang up the phone once and for all. A storm was building in her green eyes. So in order to calm her down, I rested a hand on her knee and squeezed it, reminding her to not go all Jason Voorhees on this poor woman. No one deserved Pepper's wrath when it was full-force. She seemed to relax under my touch, thankfully. I could practically feel the temperature of the room increase as her fury lessened, and her eyes were soon filled with guilt at how she had treated the girl on the phone. Quickly sending me a grateful look and a small smile, she tried to cut into the girl's rambling to make her stop so she could apologize.

"Jenna, I-"

"-and she seems to happy now! I mean, is it so horrible to want to be happy again? Megan took everything from me!"

Pepper tried again. "Will you let me t-"

"But Tim didn't exactly do anything to stop her, that bastard! I bet he even enjoyed it! God, the nerve of some people-"

Pepper held the phone away from her ear and set it on her lap so she wouldn't be subjected to Jenna's shrill rambling anymore. She pinched the bridge of her nose and shook her head before muttering to me, "She wants us to pull another revenge scheme thing like we did with Brad. What are your thoughts?"

I didn't even bother to think it over. "No. No way. That is a bad idea and you know it."

"I know it is," she argued, a strange shadow crossing her face. "But she actually sounds a little sincere. Would helping her out be so bad?"

I nodded fervently, twisting my body so I could face her head-on. "Si! Helping this girl would put the spotlight on us and you know we can't have that. I cannot get arrested again. Not when we're only a year off from college."

Pepper rolled her eyes and muttered something under her breath that sounded suspiciously like the words, "drama queen." I glared at her, but she shrugged it off and continued to argue her point. "We wouldn't get caught. And we wouldn't necessarily have to break into this girl's house in order to plant the evidence! It could be anywhere in public, and you know that'd be simple. Anyway, it's not like we're breaking any laws if we're planting evidence on her. As long as we're careful, we could do this."

I shook my head stubbornly. I couldn't even begin to explain how bad an idea this was. What if it became a habit? Jail would practically be waiting for us with open arms! It was a stupid idea with too many variables. "No."

"You tell the poor girl then," Pepper said, picking up the phone off of her laugh and holding it out to me. "I don't want to be the one to crush her spirit."

I shoved the phone away. "No. You do it."

"I'm not doing it!"

"Well neither am I!"

Pepper suddenly shrugged, giving up our childish argument, and I sensed her manipulative streak coming into play here. "You can either destroy Jenna's hopes and dreams personally or you can agree to do this with me. It's your choice. But just so you know, I'm doing this even if you say no."

"Five seconds ago you were about to kill her," I hissed, hating the place I was in. She knew I would never let her do something like this on her own, and she also knew that I would never be the one to break Jenna's hopeful little heart. I could still hear her rambling on the other end of the phone.

Pepper or Jenna?

Best friend or personal pride?

…Damn that girl.

I snatched the phone out of Pepper's hand, grumbling in Spanish as I held it up to my ear to speak. Jenna was still babbling on about how much her life sucked and about how much help she needed, but I ignored her. I took a deep breath and said into the receiver, "Jenna? It's Alex."

Silence.

I waited for her to acknowledge me with a simple, "Yeah?" But it never came. She remained silent on the other side of the line and I almost pulled the phone away from my ear to see if she was still there. (The line wasn't even making that familiar fuzzy sound it always does. The silence was verging on ridiculous.) But suddenly Jenna stopped me from looking at the screen by shrieking in my ear, "OHMYGODHIHOWAREYOU."

I blinked. Had that been English? The way she blended the words together mixed with the fact that she asked that two or three decibels higher than normal made her greeting quite a strange-sounding one indeed. Pepper smothered a laugh and covered her mouth with her hand to hide a smile, but she was making it painfully obvious that she was laughing at Jenna's reaction to me. I shoved Pepper's shoulder vehemently so she was forced to sprawl herself out on the bed, shaking with silent laughter that I could hear in my mind. I flicked her knee to get her to shut up and glared at her before grinding out, "I'm, uh…fine. Anyway, I'm just letti-"

"Are you and Pepper friends with benefits or something? 'Cause it's still a bit early to be up and about with each other and Pepper's going out with Will. I'm only really asking this because the whole school has a kind of on-going secret bet that you two will screw each other by the end of the year. Personally, I'm hoping you won't. You're fun to fantasize about!"

"Uh," I said jerkily, a look of horror coming over my face at her words. Friends with benefits? A bet? Screwing each other? What the effing hell was wrong with this girl? Did she have no shame? Probably not, seeing as how she was popping her gum in my ear every five seconds. She was probably mixed in with the popular crowd. (And no, not me and Pepper's popular crowd – we were that crowd –, I mean the annoying and preppy crowd.)

Pepper had obviously heard Jenna because she had to cover her mouth with both hands to keep the peals of laughter that were bubbling up her throat from escaping her lips. I kicked her. "No, we're not friends with benefits."

"So you're single?"

"Yes."

"What a coincidence! So am I!"

Okay. That was it. I suddenly snapped, "Jenna, shut the hell up before I hang up this phone and we decide not help you."

That got her to be quiet really fast. Taking a deep breath and shooting Pepper and pointed look to which she returned an amused and triumphant smirk, I gritted my teeth and dejectedly muttered, "We will help you with your problem with Megan."

"Are you serious?" She cried, probably doing a fist-pump on the other side of the line. "That's great! I'll pay both of you; whatever you want! Thank you so much for doing this for me!"

I rolled my eyes. "We should probably meet up to discuss the details and the cover story in case someone starts asking questions. Be at Rippey's tomorrow at noon. We'll talk there."

"Rippey's at noon," she repeated, seemingly in control of her excessive (and slightly sickening) happiness. "I'll be there."

"We'll look for you."

"Thank you so much!" She blurted once again. "I feel so relieved now. My emotions-"

"—Can wait to be spoken about until tomorrow," I interrupted. God, did this woman have no concept of hanging up the phone? This was getting silly. "Goodbye, Jenna."

"Oh, right. Bye, Alex. Tell Pepper I said thanks!"

I nodded, rubbing my temples. "Yes, now please…hang up the phone."

She did. I tossed the phone onto a pillow by Pepper's head and flopped back next to my best friend, lacing my fingers together and laying them over my eyes before groaning loudly. Pepper chuckled and nudged my elbow with her own. "Come on, it won't be that bad."

"This will all end in tears, I just know it," I mumbled, ignoring what she had said. "And the sad thing is, you know it too. What's gotten into you all of a sudden?"

Pepper shrugged and stared up at the ceiling, her hands lacing together over her flat stomach and a bemused look coming over her face. She murmured, "We've never actually helped someone out like this before."

"You just want to make yourself feel better for all of the illegal stuff you've done over the last five years," I concluded, scoffing at the uselessness of the entire idea.

"Maybe."

"You can't be serious."

"I think I am."

Exhaling heavily and closing my eyes, I breathed, "Whatever helps you sleep at night, Pep. I'll do this with you, but only this once. Next time, we're doing a small-time job. No more revenge schemes."

Even though I wasn't looking at her, I could sense Pepper smile mischievously and turn her head to the side so she could look at me. I removed my hands from my eyes and turned to do the same, and was confused when I saw the familiar glint of "I-know-something-you-don't-know" in her deep green eyes. That kind of scared me.

"…What?" I asked, giving in to my internal confusion. She was silently mocking me, I knew that much. But what about?

Pepper sat up abruptly and stretched her arms above her head before explaining lightly, "Oh, it's just that I don't think I'm the one who's going to need help sleeping."

I furrowed my brow as she hopped off the bed and started over towards the bathroom, evading the mussed blankets on the floor and the piles of dirty clothes. It dawned on me right as I was about to ask her what in the world she had been talking about.

The dream…she heard…SHIT.

I jack-knifed into a sitting position and almost fell off the bed, trying to get to my feet. By this time, Pepper was giving me an unholy grin from inside the bathroom and winking at me. I cursed. She heard it all. She knew. But if she had witnessed the Dream, why hadn't she said something earlier? She hadn't acted awkward at all!

"Pepper, it's not what you think," I attempted to explain, running a hand through my hair nervously.

"You want to kiss me, huh, Camacho?" she taunted, swinging the bathroom door back and forth, threatening to shut it in my face. I slowly crept forward, hands outstretched so I could hopefully catch it before it closed. If I did, she'd have nowhere to go. I decided to bait her.

"If I recall, I'm not the only one who had a…erotic…dream about a certain someone last night," I pointed out evilly.

Pepper stiffened and she stopped moving the door, her eyes widening a fraction of an inch. But just as quick as the shock overcame her, it vanished and was gone. If anything, her devilish smile was more pronounced than before. She resumed swinging the door tauntingly as I stepped closer and closer, almost within lunging distance. She shot back, "Mine was short-lived. How long was yours again? Oh yeah! An hour and a half."

I shook my head. Had it really been that long? Damn. I was creative, apparently.

"Well this sucks."

"I find it rather funny."

"I know you do. That's what sucks."

"Well, for the record," Pepper said, a genuine smile replacing her mischievous one. "I loved every minute of it. Are you that talented in real life?"

She slammed the door to the bathroom before I could even begin to process what she had said.

You have no idea how much I'd like to show you how talented I am, Pep…

I am in so much trouble.


TRANSLATIONS:

Mierda- Shit

¡Despierta!- Wake up!

Tenía un sueño sucio sobre mí. Me pareció bastante caliente. – You had a dirty dream about me. I thought it was pretty hot.

Sonriente- Smiling

Que- What?

Basta. Ahora mismo. Usted no sabe lo que está hacienda- Stop it. Right now. You don't know what you're doing.

Cállate. Estoy haciendo un favour- Shut up. I'm doing you a favour.


I think that's most of them. If you have trouble, use the Bing translator to figure it out yourself.

So what do you think is going to happen? There are only two or three chapters left of this story. I'd love to hear your guy's opinions!

Review?