Jade was flabbergasted when she walked inside her house and saw her sister sitting down in the living room with Jackson Barrington next to her. Granted they weren't doing anything questioning but it was still a surprise to her.

In fact, they weren't doing anything at all except stiffly staring at the TV screen, until Jade walked in that is and their eyes turned to her, the both of them clearly nervous.

"Oh, hello." She said, her eyes landing on Mark's cousin.

She noticed his cheeks instantly went red. "Hi." He quietly muttered.

He wasn't the only one being timid. Her sister's cheeks had changed colors as well. "Hey, uh, Mom's in the kitchen."

Jade hid her smirk, amused that Joyce felt the need to share that they weren't unsupervised. "Ok...I guess I'll go say hi,"

The two kids turned their eyes back to the TV screen as Jade quietly chuckled to herself and made her way inside the kitchen.

Her mother was indeed there, cutting up vegetables as she prepared dinner. She looked up once Jade walked in. "Hey, how was school?"

"Fine," Jade answered absently, taking a seat on the bar stool. "I see that Joyce has company,"

Lynn smiled. "Yeah, apparently they really wanted to spend time with each other so I agreed to let him come over. He seems like a nice boy."

Jade made a sound of agreement, her thoughts momentarily wondering to the boys in her own life.

Her mother gave her a curious look. "Are you sure everything's ok?"

"Yeah, I mean..." Jade hesitated. She didn't know why but suddenly a part of her actually wanted to tell her mother everything that had been going on lately.

"Go on..." Her mother suddenly urged her, as if picking up on Jade's thoughts.

Jade took a deep breath. "There's so much to tell I don't even know where to begin."

Lynn stopped cutting up the vegetables and fully faced her daughter. She wasn't blind. She had noticed everything. All the changes, even the small ones. The transformation was gradual and painful to watch at times but also beautiful to see. Her daughter was turning into a young woman, one who would go away for school in the fall. She never thought she would be one of those mothers but the thought of her first born leaving the household already brought tears to her eyes. Despite the divergence in their relationship over the past few years, nothing would ever amount to the affection she held for her first born.

"You know, I received a couple of phone calls recently."

Jade's eyes widened at her mother's announcement. Usually phone calls about her never meant anything good so she held her breath.

Lynn kept going. "I talked to Mrs. Bernard a couple of days ago, and she had a couple of interesting things to say. Mrs. Rushmore and I also had a talk a few days ago, and she sounded very concerned. Your principal, Mrs. Sanchez, called earlier today and the most surprising of all, Mark's mother left a message as well."

What?

Jade didn't know what to say to any of that. So she didn't say anything.

All of them had called? About her?

"So I pretty much know everything that's been going on," her mother announced. "Although I would have much preferred to hear it from you."

Jade just stared at her mother, looking for the right words. "Well..." She thought about how to summarize the past couple of months in a nutshell. Although the drama started way before she met him, the change within her became more apparent once Ryan Parker became a part of her life. "I...,"

"You don't have to tell me anything right now. But I want you to know that anytime you want to talk, I'm here for you. I know you and I haven't had the best relationship lately and I know that I come out strict to you but that's because I care so much about you and I want you to make good decisions. For the past couple of weeks I've seen such a...growth in you and I couldn't be any prouder, Jade. I'm ashamed to say that you proved me wrong but I'm happy that you did. What you did for your sister, getting along with your cousin and improving your grades, just to name a few...I'm proud of all of that, and I hope you are too."

Jade couldn't believe her ears. For several minutes she stayed quiet but the feeling of straight bliss that she felt was instantaneous. Her mother had never spoken to her like that before. Those words...proud...has never been spoken in a positive light when it came to her.

Until then.

"I...," There was suddenly a lump in her throat. "Thanks, mom." She cleared her throat, hoping to rid the bulge that had suddenly formed.

Lynn smiled before picking up the knife and getting back to cutting the vegetable. "Of course. So, mind helping me with dinner?"

Jade simply nodded, not trusting herself to speak. She stood up from the stool, washed her hands and helped cut the rest of the vegetables.


Later that night, Jade received an unexpected call.

"Byron?" She questioned into the receiver.

She was just getting ready for bed when her cell phone rang and her eyes widened at his name flashing from the small screen. She didn't think he would want to talk to her again so soon after the way things ended. Guess she was wrong.

"Hey, uh, you got a minute?" He asked nervously.

"Of course, um, what's up?" She asked, remembering the first time that she had called him to ask for his help with Joyce. It seemed so long ago and she had been the nervous on at the time. The role had reversed.

"I just..." He paused and Jade patiently waited, although a part of her mind was sounding warning bells. She ignored it and stayed on the line.

"Jade, I'm sorry,"

"Byron-,"

"No, Jade. I really am. I was stupid, I should have trusted you. I should have believed you and never doubted you. I'm sorry that I didn't. And if you give me another chance, I promise I will make up-,"

"Byron, please." Jade whispered as she slowly dropped down on her bed. She couldn't believe it. He was…asking for another change? Was he really trying to get back with her? "Don't do this. It's...over, ok?"

"I know, but I just-," he stopped and let out a sigh. "I'm sorry, it was stupid of me to call, just forget it," then he hung up.

Jade spent a few seconds starting at her phone in disbelief before putting it down on her night table.

The drama really wasn't over. Something would always come up. Why? Why would he want to get back together with her? What exactly was it about her that attracted him? She was stubborn. She was a bitch. She couldn't even decide on what she wanted.

What did she want?

She hastily grabbed her phone and dialed her cousin. Kayla didn't take too long to pick up the phone. "Isn't it past your curfew?"

Jade didn't answer.

"Jade?"

"I don't know what to do." She quickly revealed, finally realizing what it was that she was feeling. "Kayla, I…I'm scared."

"About what?" Kayla asked her.

When Jade didn't speak, Kayla took a guess.

"Is it about Ryan?"

It was. From the first time she met him after the got in trouble, she knew there was something different about him. He dressed differently, talked too properly. He was quiet at times, a little dense as well, sucked at making jokes but he made her laugh anyway. He wasn't too confident, but he could lead a room full of people with ease. He was extremely caring of his sister and his friends. He was responsible, hard-working, compassionate, but as time went on, she noticed that there was also this…spark about him. Something that was just solely…him.

There was more to Ryan Parker that what she initially thought.

"What if…what if I hurt him?" Jade wandered, asking Kayla. Ryan believed in her, like her sister and Reina, he saw something in her that she didn't see in herself. And he made sure that she knew it. "What if I'm not...who he thinks I am?"

"I don't think-,"

"I always mess everything up," Jade explained. "I can't...I always do something wrong...and they...always leave me, Kayla. I'm not ready for that again-," the words just flew out of her mouth.

"And that's ok, Jade." Kayla assured her. "It's alright."

Was it?

"Jade, you don't have to decide anything right now. If you want to be single, then be single. Don't force it, ok? He doesn't seem like that type of guy and I'm sure he'll understand. Just…talk to him."

Jade let out a sigh, hoping Kayla was right. She really hoped Ryan would understand. They had a lot to talk about.


It wasn't about her, not this time. This talk was about Ryan. About what was going on with him, about how he was feeling. How he was doing. She didn't want to put it off much longer, so she sought him out first thing in the morning.

He was in room 259, where they usually met for student council. He was the only one in there, sitting in his regular seat and reading over some documents. Jade lingered by the door and silently observed him. Really looked at him.

He looked...stressed. His shoulders were hunched, worry lines covered his face…sadness in his eyes…how did she not notice it before?

"Ryan?" She stepped inside the room, unable to hold herself back anymore.

He looked up, giving her a soft smile before staring sown at the sheet of paper in front of him, the smile slowly disappearing.

Jade walked over and took the seat next to him, angling her body in his direction. "What's going on?"

Without a word, he handed her the sheet in his hand. Jade took it and read, quickly noting that it was a letter of admission. An acceptance letter.

To Harvard.

"Oh my god, Ryan...this is...wow," She looked at him and smiled. "Congratulations, Parker. This is amazing."

"Yeah, if I was going..." He sighed dejectedly.

Jade frowned. "What do you mean?"

"Cambridge...it's thousands of miles away,"

"Yeah...so?" She asked. She wasn't following.

"So...my family's here but my dad isn't."

Her frown only deepened. What did his father have to do with it? "Ryan, I don't understand."

It was silent for a moment as Ryan sought the words to explain. "My dad's going to be home this summer, but that's all the time he's going to be here. He gets deployed again by the beginning of the school year, for another 9 months and if I leave home for school, my mom...I can't leave her alone to take care of Reina and Rosie. I mean if I go away, I won't be around that much and it's going to be hard for her to balance everything by herself. But if I stay, I can help."

"Oh," Jade said, finally understanding. Of course Ryan would consider his family before making a decision about school. He was just that selfless; responsible. "But Harvard is where you want to go, right?" She asked him.

"Yes..."

It was his dream school. It wouldn't be fair if he didn't attend. That was the whole point of college, to go away and be on your own. Make your own decisions. To be independent and a little selfish. At least, that was what Jade was expecting.

"Ryan, have you talked to your mom?" She asked after a moment.

He shook his head.

"Well...maybe you should talk to her before you make any decisions, I mean, Reina's seems responsible and I know she can take care of herself and I'm sure she already helps out with Rosie. Just...talk to your mom first and maybe your dad too. Harvard isn't something you just...pass up."

He nodded after a minute. "Yeah, you're right."

"I know." She tried smiling at him again, some of the worry lines disappeared on his face but there was still a hint of anxiousness there. She suddenly rested her hand on top of his. "Ryan?"

He finally looked up at her, meeting her gaze and Jade was momentarily speechless at the intensity of his eyes and the hopeful look on his face.

"I...,"

God, she never had a hard time expressing herself before but suddenly she was a bundle of nerves and butterflies were swimming inside her stomach. She wasn't even sure what she was about to say. When she woke up that morning she thought she knew how this conversation would go but the words were all gone, and her head completely blank, like someone took an eraser and got rid of them all.

She must have been giving off a negative expression because the hope she saw in his eyes quickly faded and he removed his hand from under hers and looked away. "It's ok, I-,"

"No!" She quickly interrupted him, grabbing his hand again. This time she held on to it using both her hands.

The shock on his face was clear.

"Ryan, what I want to say is..." If only her heart would stop beating so fast. So many things were running through her. Everything was all jumbled yet at the same time only one thing was clear. "I…I want us to stay friends…but I to take things slow." She finally breathed out.

Ryan still looked confused.

Jade tried not to groan at herself. "I mean, I want to give us a chance and see how it goes...if...if you still want to."

He just gaped at her, stupefied for a few seconds before a chuckle escaped out of his lips. "If I still want to?" He questioned.

Jade failed to see how that was funny but she gave him the benefit of the doubt and waited.

"Jesus Jade, how can you even ask that?" He retracted his hand again.

"..." She just blinked.

Ryan shook his head but suddenly an amused grin came upon his face. "I don't think you realize how much I like you so I'm just going to say it," he said, this time taking her hand and intertwining their fingers. "I like you, Jade. A lot."

"Oh," Jade felt that jolt of butterflies in her stomach again, not only at his touch, but his words as well. He liked her. Although she knew that already, she hadn't heard the words from his mouth yet. It was nice to hear.

"So yeah, I still want to."

Jade finally smiled, relieved that this was going far better than she expected. Of course Ryan understood. He always did.

They eyes connected again, the tension suddenly changing. At that moment something between them had drastically reformed.

Jade saw it coming, the sudden unrestricted...desire in his eyes as they traveled down to her lips, the change in his respirations…his breathing had gotten narrower, making her pulse rate suddenly double and she licked her lips in anticipation. He started leaning closer, his eyes quickly soughing out hers again silently asking for permission. Jade gave no motion of backing away, and when his lips briefly touched hers, a loud sound echoed though the room, making them spring apart just as fast.

The warning bell had rung.

"Um, we should get to class," Jade mumbled, quickly standing up.

"Right," Ryan followed suit, standing on his feet as well.

They both lingered on the same spot for a few seconds, looking at each other, albeit awkwardly.

Ryan had...almost kissed her. Although their lips brushed, it was merely a peck. And…frustratingly, it wasn't enough.

A few more seconds passed by and Jade finally decided to leave before she let herself get carried away. "Well, uh, I guess I'll see you-,"

Ryan suddenly reached out and grabbed her wrist, quickly pulling her back and before she knew it, she was flush against him and this time there was no signs of hesitation. Ryan crushed his lips against hers and Jade felt her breath catch in her throat.

One of his hands went around her waist, sending a jolt of electricity through her body as the other gently held the back of her head, keeping their lips connected.

Jade threw her hands around his neck, pulling him closer and kissed him back, all frustrations out of the window.

She was momentarily confused when she felt her feet lift off the ground and suddenly her bottom was sitting against the rectangular table , as the letter of admission fluttered on the floor next to them.

Just as she realized what had happened, Ryan stepped in between her legs and brought his lips against hers again. Jade let her eyes flutter shut and lost herself in the meshing of lips.

Holy shit, she was making out with Ryan Parker. And it felt so damn good. And Jesus, who knew Ryan Parker could be so...aggressively passionate?

Not that she minded...in fact, Ryan was doing a good job of turning her on, especially when he started a trail of kisses down her neck and his lips touched that sensitive spot that always drove her crazy. It was the moan that escaped out of her lips that sprung them apart for the second time.

Jade almost cursed him for stopping but she understood why he had.

"I'm sorry," Ryan backed away and apologized, although there was still a lustful look in his eyes. "I...I just got carried away,"

Jade softly smiled at the sudden coy look on his face. Good thing he stopped, or trouble would have found her yet again. If she recalled correctly, it was a similar situation with Mark that led her to become a member of student council. Then again, if that hadn't happened, she never would have gotten to know Ryan Parker the way that she did.

"It's OK," she told him. It was OK. In fact, there was something satisfying about knowing that the usually calm and collected Ryan Parker could get a little carried away with her. She didn't mind that at all.

She pushed herself down from the table, back on her feet, noticing the piece of paper lying on the floor. She bent down and picked it up, folding it in half before handing it to him.

"It's going to work out, Ryan." She said, as he took his admission letter from her. "You know that, right?"

He gave her a nod, a slight smile on his lips. "Yeah, I kno-,"

"Hey, Parker, you in here?" Peter suddenly poked his head in, his eyebrows going up questioningly at the scene in front of him. "Oh, sorry, didn't mean to interrupt...wait, am I interrupting?"

Jade just smiled as Ryan groaned. The two of them made their way out of the room, meeting Peter in the hallway.

"So…you got through to him, huh?" Peter asked Jade, an amused smile on his face.

Jade looked over at Ryan, who seemed slightly embarrassed but was playing it off with a small smile. Jade found it adorable, and although she wasn't sure what would happen between her and Ryan or how the rest of the school year would play out, she wasn't worried. For now, she was content with the way things had turned out. "No," She finally answered Peter as a feeling of serenity swept through her. "He got through to me."


A/N: The End. Yes, finito. Bittersweet (tears)...but I am glad to be done with story! phew! I know this took awhile but I was bent on finishing so here were are. Thank you, thank you and thank you for sticking with me through this and really hope you all enjoyed Jade =) . If you haven't yet, make sure you check out my other stories ( I hear they're good too hehe). Again, thank you for reading. I appreciate ALL your reviews, you guys are awesome ;) Ciao!

Sally- I found a picture on the Net and edited it to what you see now as the Cover. Thank you so much for all your reviews and support!