"Who the fuck made pancakes without sharing?" The male baritone voice echoes in the small apartment, followed by the sound of the closing front door.

I smile, flipping a pancake, "Banana pancakes, for your information."

"Who do you think you are? Jack Johnson?" I laugh as Will enters the kitchen. He heads my way and before I know it, my arms are around his neck as he hugs me. He smells like old pine and a hint of cologne.

"I missed you," I say softly into his ear. He lets me go, holding me at an arm's length as he stares at me with a smile on his face. Missed would probably be an understatement.

William Corrett was not someone you only missed. He was the kind of person you sort-of-died-in-his-absence missed. "How has my baby cousin been doing?"

"Moderately well," I say, he grabs a small piece of one of the hot pancakes stacked on the white plate. "Grab a plate and lets sit down."

I stack the last pancake on the plate and place them on the small table. Motioning for Will to sit down. "Where do you keep the orange juice?"

"Fridge," I tell him, grabbing one of the delicious, hot and mouth-watering banana pancakes stacked in from of me. I apply a generous amount of maple syrup and the cut-up pieces of a banana onto it. "Grab two glasses."

He sets down a glass in front of me and fills it to the brim with orange juice. Will takes the seat in front of me and starts digging into his pancakes. He moans his appreciation while taking the first bite, "Disgusting, as always Ava."

I laugh, "I did my best," he winks at me, "how is Emily doing?"

"Eh. Too sobered up for my taste," he says, "never fails to remind me how much I'm going to love my nephew."

The rest of our breakfast is finished in light conversation and intriguing stories of my older, rather pregnant, cousin, Emily Corrett. When we finish eating, Will helps me pick up the plates and wash them. I clean up the kitchen while Will takes a seat on the counter. "When are you meeting with Claire?"

Will groans and slightly shifts in the counter, "I don't know, I feel like this whole thing might be in vain, you know? I come here just to talk with her and she doesn't even make a slight humane effort to return any of my calls."

"Watch it buddy, this is my best friend we're talking about here," I bump him with my elbow.

"Still, Claire is too damn stubborn. I don't know what to do anymore. Bring her flowers? Too cliché. Call her? Done that. Serenade her? Not the type," That was true. My best friend was definitely not the type for cheesy Romeo stuff. Claire was more of the say-it-to-my-face kind of woman. Exactly the type for Will, he wasn't the bullshitting kind either. Thanks to Claire, I had witnessed more cat fights than I'd care to.

"Maybe you should just try knocking on her door and telling her you love her," I tell him honestly, "her shift probably ended anyway."

"Eh, maybe tomorrow," he shrugs.

I sigh, "Who are you staying with?"

"Don't know, probably with Nate if Claire doesn't return my calls," he says.

I finish cleaning up and stare at him, "You know, Will, there's always an extra bed here..."

He laughs coldly, "Yeah, right. Staying over here is called suicide, honey."

I frown at him. He pulls me in for a hug, resting his chin on my head, "Why is that Will?" I ask him, already expecting the answer.

"Are you kidding, Ava? That boyfriend of yours would throw me out once he saw me stepping a foot in his apartment."

I grit my teeth, "He's not my boyfriend," these were probably the most repeated words I've said all year. He's not my boyfriend.

"I'm actually surprised I arrived to a sex-free atmosphere and didn't get to see you two going at-"

"Stop it, Will. Unlike you and Claire, we neither have unfinished business or desperately needed make-up sex," I say. Oh but I wish we had. He grabs my hand and jumps off the counter, leading me to the living room. We plop down on the couch.

"Whatever you say," he shrugs me off. His cellphone starts ringing and Sinatra's Under My Skin fills the room, "It's Claire."

In two seconds he has his phone next to his ear and mouths be right back at me. I nod at him, letting him step outside so he can talk to his ex-girlfriend in peace. It always got to me when people made comments about Zane and I like that. It irked me to no end. True, he was living with me. But we were friends. Honestly. Close friends, maybe. I can't say best friends, because then Claire would go all 'boy and girl can't be best friends' on my ass.

And this living arrangement was going quite well. Not only for me, but my parents were liking it even more. They'd preferred to help out with the rent than pay for the room and board at my dear university. My dear expensive university.

I look down at a loose string on my PJs and tug on it, my hands quickly fixing it.

Will opens the door a little but doesn't step inside, "I'm meeting Claire for coffee right now. I'll call you later, Ava. Thanks for the breakfast."


"Will stopped by today," I tell him. The six foot two, black haired boy only manages a grunt. Probably not at ease with me bothering him about Will.

"Why is he here?" The cold and broken relationship between my cousin and Zane was obvious, not only to me, but everyone who knew them. Accidents happen, my Ma would say. But you should try telling that to an angry Zane. Lets just say that he didn't really like the idea of his girlfriend (now ex-girlfriend) hooking up with another guy and Will didn't like the idea of a bloody nose. It was just one of those kind of grudges that began in high school and the oh-so-mature boys didn't get over.

"He and Claire have some things that need fixing," I say. We had decided that tonight was a night for movies and Chinese take out. So here we were, my roommate and I, watching Catch me If You Can. Neither one of us paying that much attention to Tom Hanks or Leo DiCaprio.

I place my bare feet on the couch and hug my knees to my chest. My giant older brother's T-shirt covering up to mid thigh, the PJ shorts not really covering that much. "I still don't get what amazing Claire sees in cheating Will."

"He's my cousin, Zane," I tell him softly, "And I get the feeling that he won't hurt Claire, have you noticed how he looks at her? She's got him around her finger."

"Considering I want to punch the guy's face every time I see him, no, I do not notice the way he looks at her. You're probably mistaking it for sexual want, Ava," he smirks at me.

I frown, "I may have no love life or any experience whatsoever, but that is not something you mistake for lust, Zane," I say, "even I know that."

Zane laughs, "You know I'm here if you ever want some experience..."

I give him a nervous laugh (the kind that makes me look crazy) and hope that the blush in my cheeks fades faster, "Thanks but no thanks."

I become more aware of my surroundings. His hand behind my head, his legs that he pulls up and rests on top of my thighs that are now stretched out and his blue eyes that seem so mysterious, "I'm always here if you need anything, Ava," Zane tells me. I find myself smiling at him.

"Right back at you," I guess its safe to say that I'm not a very articulate person. I stand up and go into the kitchen, "Beer? Tequila? What do we want?"

"Beer's fine, get your pretty butt over here, best part's coming up," I grab two beer bottles out of the fridge and walk back over to Zane.


Few weeks later I find myself waking up in a cold sweat. My heart beating fast. the clock marks 4:36 a.m. I thanked god that tomorrow was saturday. A small debate picks up in my mind of either getting up to feed my hungry stomach or staying in my warm bed. Call me lazy, but I'm guessing you know this feeling too. Hunger ends up winning. The thought of Nutella sends my feet into a quick pace. I run my hands through my hair, putting it up into a quick ponytail. Knowing Zane is in his room asleep, I step out in only a tank and panties.

I look for the bread, the Nutella and a knife. After a well prepared Nutella piece of bread, I grab myself a glass of milk. Damn, this is too good to be true. The sound of a door opening ruins my dream. I'm being honest when I say the most Zane has seen me wearing is a large t-shirt covering my panties. I become aware of my body. I'm neither skinny nor obese but I'm self conscious.

I can't imagine what Zane would be seeing. His plain-jane roommate, wearing a neon pink tank top, in batman panties and a less than attractive pony tail. With Nutella spread on a slice of bread in her hands.

Zane comes in wearing only his boxers, his perfect chest on display and his hair in a mess. I try focusing on the walls, the floor, anything. He freezes in his tracks, gives me a one-over and laughs, "Leave it to you to grab Nutella in these ungodly hours."

"Ha. Ha. Very funny. I was about to offer you a bite," I whisper, not so sure why I was whispering.

"I came for a glass of water actually," he says. He reaches for the cupboard behind me and grabs a glass. he proceeds to fill it with water and the silence between us isn't exactly awkward but not really comfortable, per se. He starts to leave before turning around and smirks at me while I munch away happily, "Oh and Ava?"

"Yeah?"

"Love the panties, baby," he smirks at me one last time before heading back to his room.


"Have I ever told you how amazing your cousin is?" Claire says to me, two days later, drinking her soy latte.

I sigh, "Yes I believe you have. Repeatedly. Many times." The story between Claire and Will is as easy as they come. Claire has been my best friend since the day she defended me against Crystal Reed's disgusting insults in thrid grade. So it was not unusual that me without a boyfriend, decided to take her as my companion for my older cousin's wedding two years ago. Emily Corrett's wedding. There, she met the bride's younger brother. Barely a year older than us, Will and Claire hit it off almost instantly. He started coming down to see me more often as an excuse, when he clearly spent all the time in Claire's bedroom. They began dating, and although it was the on-and-off type of relationship, they had a connection I'd only seen in very few couples.

"He is so amazing. Not only as a boyfriend but you know, in bed-"

"Claire, as much as I love how cute you two are together, I really don't need all the lovey dovey details," I say.

"Ugh, fine," she takes another sip, "Anyways how is that gorgeous boyfriend of yours doing?"

"Claire, we went over this already. He's not my boyfriend..."

"You know babe, I sometimes wonder if you're not deaf or blind or something. The sexual tension between you two? My god you could cut it with a knife," Claire says.

A nagging feeling settles in my stomach. I hated these talks. They never helped. All they did was remind me how high the improbability of me and Zane going out was. Pretty high. Guys like him didn't go for straw-color-haired girls, like me.

"Deny it all you want, Ava, but sooner or later you'll find yourself banging that guy like there's no tomorrow," her comments made my cheeks turn red, highlighting my freckles.

"My virginity begs to differ," I say.

Claire laughs, holding her latte in one hand, "Besides, you say he's always offering a nice experience for you. Not many girls turn down offers like those from Mr. Zane Ryder himself!"

"Things would get fucked up eventually if we started dating or something. Living arrangements screwed up," I tell Claire.

"Who said anything about dating, Ava baby?" My eyes widen.

She smirks at me, "You know I'm not that type-"

"Ava, do yourself a favor and just let the guy pop that cherry. No dating. No feelings whatsoever. Consider him some kind of fuck buddy," she says it so lightly that I can't even register it completely.

I stare at my best friend as if she'd just lost her mind, "Nope, won't happen," I cross my arms in front of me, "Even if soemthing like that ever happened, I don't think I'd even have the slightest control over my feelings."

"Give it a try, nothing to lose right?"

"My virginity, you bitch," I tell her jokingly.

"Cherry, virginity, maidenhead, whatever, its not all that cracked up to be, you know?" Sad things is, I refused to know.


"This is Ava," Will says, "and Ava meet Cole, he reads Bukowski and Kundera and all that lit shit you love."

I'm left standing with a brown haired boy with green eyes. Very pretty green eyes. He smiles at me, noticing my discomfort, "William's cousin, huh? Didn't know he actually had a decent family."

"Yep, Will's cousin or as some people like to call me, Ava," I take a sip of my drink and lean on the bar counter.

"Cole Sanders. Very nice to meet you, Ava," he smiles at me, "nice legs you got there."

"And here I was thinking you were a nice guy," I tell him.

"I am," he gets closer to me, not touching me but placing his mouth right next to my ear and in a low voice says, "but I can play the bad boy part if you want."

His voice sends shivers down my spine and gives me goosebumps.

"I could show you right now," he smirks at me, probably noticing my flaming red cheeks.


"Want anything to drink?" I pour myself a glass of water.

"No thanks, I'm fine," Cole sits down on the couch and I soon join him, "Your roommate's out?"

"Yeah, we've got the place until who knows what time," I say, sitting down next to Cole.

He places his hand on my thigh, I fight the urge to remove it but remind myself that I invited him over. His hands somehow find a way to twist me that I'm suddenly lying on my back. His face is right over mine and before I know it, we're kissing. I return the kiss and move my mouth against his. Damn good kisser. I wrap my arms around his shoulders, pulling his body against mine.

His hand moves upward and suddenly it touches the skin where my shirt had lifted a little. His hand sends shivers.

The sound of the door slamming breaks us both out of our trance. In walks Zane, looking gorgeous and slightly in a bad mood. He walks right past us and into his bedroom, where he slams the door once more.

I turn to look at Cole and his face is priceless. I almost laugh if it weren't for the very uncomfortable silence that ensues.

"You have a fucking boyfriend?"

Oh my god. "He's not my boyfriend. He's my roommate," I tell him in chirpy tone, to ease him up.

"Did you forget to mention the fact that said roommate might want me out of his territory? I'd like to leave here with my nose intact," and like that, Cole stands up and grabs his car keys that were resting on the coffee table, "very nice meeting you Ava."

And just like that, Cole closes the front door behind him. I groan out of the sheer ironic situation. Men.

I stand up and make my way to Zane's door, I knock on it rather forcefully.

"Way to go, butthead, you just scared off my one night stand," I shout at him through his door.

Zane opens it, looking pissed, "This is my place too Ava."

"I never say anything when you bring your girls over," I cross my arms over my chest.

"Because we don't maul each others faces on the couch-"

"We were only kissing!" I say, very frustrated. Zane runs a hand through his black hair.

"I bet you don't even know his name," Zane taunts me.

"Cole Sanders, you asshole."

With that said, I turn to walk to my room when Zane reaches out and pulls me to him. I have a few seconds to register whats happening next. Zane's lips were meeting mine. Zane was kissing me! Zane Ryder was kissing me!

The shivers and goosebumps I felt with Cole were nothing compared to what Zane did to me. We went from not gonna happen to maybe in a single kiss.

Zane's hands trace their way down, fidning my hips and pulling me into him. His lips felt like galaxies all over. Claire would definitely give me a bonk on my head for that. Zane had perfected the art of kissing.

I press my hands against his hard chest. I was enjoying the moment. Scratch that. I was dying right here in Zane's hands.

I let myself moan slightly when he presses his hips into mine.

Just as quick as the kiss started, it ended. Zane takes a step back. We are both gasping for air, "Was he able to do that?"

"What?" I stare at him dumbfounded. Zane pays no attention to me and steps into his room. He closes the door behind him.

I'm left alone for the second time that night. A feeling of disappointment settles in my stomach, I try to fight it. My feet find their way back to my room where I am too tired to change into anything comfortable. I slip under the covers in only my bra and lace panties.


Later that night, I find myself waking up hungry. Leave it to my body to remind me I have to eat at 2 am. I sigh, not bothering to put anything on as I head towards the kitchen.

I open the fridge and pull out a bowl of strawberries. My mouth watering. My body had this habit of waking me up when I was hungry.

Here I was eating my strawberries happily, trying not to dwell on the kiss with Zane. My mind totally failing at the task.

I grab three strawberries from the bowl before placing them back in the fridge. I start to walk back to my room and I was passing in front of Zane's room when his door opens. There stands Zane, in his boxers, and me, in my underwear.

We stare at each other for a few seconds before I make my way to my room. Feeling his eyes on my back the entire time. My cheeks blush so much I feel like they're about to explode.

"Ava," his voice makes me freeze.

I turn around slightly, with my strawberries in hand, "Zane?"

"I'm sorry for what I did earlier," with that he turns around and heads to the kitchen himself, "it was uncalled for."

My heart broke four times in only one night. The first, when Zane kissed me. Second, when he shut the door in my face. Three, when I realise kisses aren't promises. And fourth, when Zane apologises for something my heart had been searching for.

Kisses aren't promises, I remind myself, climbing under the covers.


The next few weeks, Zane and I fell into a rythm of coexistance. It almost felt like we were avoiding each other. Both of us trying to act like nothing happened. As much as I tried keeping that facade up, I couldn't help it, my feelings were all over the place.

I prepared breakfast and dinner only for myself and Zane arrived late every night to avoid any more encounters. It would suffice to say that we were both doing a terrible job.

I was making breakfast one day when Zane walked in through the front door. Sweating, arriving after his morning jog. My eyes widen not expecting him to be here and he runs a hand through his hair uncomfortably, not expecting to see me cooking.

He doesn't say hello or good morning or I love you Ava. I didn't really expect the last one but, well, you know... A girl can dream.

I flip a pancake. Blueberry pancakes, actually. I hear the shower turn on and try to distract myself from thinking of Zane in the shower. Oh god. Zane would be the death of me.

I stack the last pancake on my plate. Pour myself a glass of milk and start stuffing my face. I was so damn hungry. I was halfway into fatting myself up, when Zane enters the kitchen. He was wearing a v neck and jeans. I stop myself from staring too long. Its his fault he was so fucking attractive.

"Any leftovers?" His voice makes me snap back to reality.

"Huh? Oh," I motion to the two remaining pancakes in front of me, "Go ahead, I already ate two myself."

"Thanks," he begins eating them, I try to distract myself with my glass of milk. Playing with it, turning it around and around… "I have something to tell you."

My eyes meet Zane's, "Oh?" It seemed to be the only Word I was capable of this morning.

"I'm moving out."

Wait. "What?" All of the sudden my insides squeeze themselves and I feel like someone just hit me in the stomach. With a baseball bat. Twice my size.

"I just… I feel like this isn't working out and George's flat mate just moved out and he offered me to room with him. I know you've been wanting to move in with Claire since she got her place. Now's the opportunity," he says this all so lightly, that it shatters my heart. Truth is, I was happy here. Living with him. I might spend a lot of time at Claire's but who doesn't when it comes to their best friend?

I was hurt he was thinking of this arrangement like that. Instead, I swallow my pitiful and pathetic, lame feelings, "Okay."

"Okay? Thats it?" He could toy with everything about me and he just decided on my feelings.

"Yeah, what else did you expect me to say? I'm not stopping you. I won't move in with Claire though, Will and her are talking about moving in together and I don't want to ruin that," I tell him honestly.

"Alright," he lowers his eyesight from mine, "I've arranged for my stuff to be at George's place by wednesday, that okay with you?"

No, "Yes."

"Okay then…"

I pick up our plates and he helps me clean the kitchen before we part our own ways for the day.

It was sunday. Wednesday wasn't that far away. I didn't feel like doing anything except wallow in self pity. Up until now, I'd actually believe this whole living together thing with Zane would work out.

We had an almost instant chemistry when we met three years ago. Not one time had we been in a fight except for that time he spilled coffee all over my notes or when he accidentely left the front door open and Sparta stepped outside. Yeah, we used to have a cat. And yes, we named him over 300.

I believe it was fair to say I didn't want Zane out of here. I wanted him to stay. I was just too prideful to say it to his face. He'd say no anyway.


That night, my feelings were everywhere. Has it ever happened to you have a feeling like your about to explode and then something happens that just tips you over the edge and you have no control whatsoever on your emotions? And you just feel like crawling into a hole?

That wasn't exactly what was happening to me. I was not going to cry over something so lame as Zane moving out. We'd still see each other. In class and stuff… Fuck, we didn't even go to a single class together.

Shit, this is what I get for liking the wrong person. So, you know, here I was scolding myself for falling, no, liking the worng person, when I hear a sudden knock on my bedroom door.

Zane.

True enough, I opened the door and there he stood. Total Adonis staring back at me. What the hell Ava? You're plain jane as far as this goes, I tell myself.

"Ava."

"Zane."

"I'm going out for a walk, would you like to come?" he asks me.

I stumble over my words, "Um, yeah, sure, why not?Let me just put on some sweats."

I grab the nearest sweatshirt and pull it over my head. I follow Zane until we step out the front door. We start walking around the apartment complex. The air is chilly but not drastically cold. No moon tonight, makes the stars shine a little brighter. Boy, was I gonna miss my roommate. I sigh. He walked with his hands in the pockets of his jeans. The relaxed action highlighting his muscles.

"Ava-"

"Zane-"

We both start to talk at the same time. He smiles and I chuckle.

"You go first," he says.

"Okay," he stops and stares at me, standing one foot in front of him. Twenty seconds of insane courage, I remind myself. "Um… I don't really know how to say this. We've always had amazing chemistry and I just, I don't really know how to say this…" I trail off.

"Can I say something really quick?" Zane says. My heart stops. Damn it, he's probably going to tell me he was secretly married to the love of his life, plan son having three kids and they already bought a house in the suburbs. I nod at him. "I'm in love with someone."

Fucking damn it. I knew it!

Any person who has ever felt unrequited love knows what it feels to know the person you love loves someone else. It fucking hurts. So, so much. I felt like someone was digging a hole in my stomach and a knot the size of the Titanic formed in my throat.

"Oh."

And just like that, in front of Zane, I start crying like a stupid baby. A small tear slips down my face, I try to blink it away but it flows down my face doing whatever the fuck it wants. "Ava? What's wrong?"

I continue crying note ven making an effort to hide the fact he just destroyed me, "I'm sorry, I just-"

Zane steps up to me and wraps his arms around me. I try to push him away but he doesn't budge, "Ava? I'm sorry, I don't think you get my point."

"What's there to get?" I cry louder, "The guy I love is in love with someone else!"

"Hey, baby, the girl is amazing too."

What the fuck? "Stop it! Fucking stop it!" I cry louder. I'm such a baby.

"She's beautiful."

I'm bawling like a screaming child.

"Ava?"

"What, Zane? What!?" I scream at him and push him away. I know, I control my feelings very well.

"It's you. I'm in love with you. And I can't move in with George, sorry. I'm staying here."

WHAT!?

"Stop crying, 'kay? Very bad joke on my part, you just look very funny when your eyes puff up," he smiles at me.

Fucking asshole.

I slap his face. Then grab it, and smash my lips against his. Kissing him once more. My mind went through more emotional rollercoasters until it finally processed it. Zane was in love with me. Zane! My housemate, roommate, flatmate, whatever he was, was in love with me! Hard to believe, right?

So, you know, as fun as housing with a friend who was a male god was, I have to admit, it was even better housing with your boyfriend who was a male god. Will and claire got an ultimate I told you so out of it.

I loved him. And he loved me. And even better? He loved my banana pancakes. Which was pretty damn amazing too.