Will glanced at Laila as she stared blankly out the window. Her eyes were red and slightly swollen. Her hair was a mess and she was nearly drowning in the large sweatshirt she was wearing. It was probably his sweatshirt, Will thought to himself. But Laila hadn't spoken all day and Will knew she was still fighting with him. This gave him hope.
Will practically had to run after her on the way out of class. She was moving at an unbelievable speed but quickly stopped as she pushed through the doors. He paused behind her and watched her as she looked around. Her boyfriend was nowhere to be seen and Will's heart almost broke for her as she hung her head and started to cry. Almost, but not quite.
"Hey," he said softly as he approached her. "Are you okay?"
"No," she choked out, her fingers wiping away the tears.
"Do you want to talk about it?" He put a soft hand on her shoulder.
"Will, I really don't think I should be talking to you at all right now," she answered, not looking at him.
"Is this because of what happened the other night?"
"Of course it is," Laila said, her crying starting to ease up.
Will remained silent and let her compose herself. His hand stayed on her shoulder.
"Look," she finally said, glancing up at him. "I'm really sorry that it happened. I'm completely embarrassed and I wish I could explain…" She shook her head and didn't finish her sentence.
"Laila, I'm not judging you. Relationships have problems, people argue. You'll either move past it or you'll move on."
With that Laila started to cry again and Will used her vulnerable moment to pull her into his arms. "Come on," he said, lifting her bag from her shoulders so he could carry it. "I'll buy you a cup of coffee and you can get a guy's perspective on the situation."
"Thanks, but I really can't." Laila said, reaching for her bag. "You are the reason we are fighting and I don't want to make things worse. Sorry if that sounded too blunt."
Will smiled, thrilled that he was finally coming between Laila and her boyfriend. "Don't worry about it. Are you going to talk to him?"
Laila slung her bag over her shoulder again and managed to smile at Will. "I'm supposed to be going to this party with him tonight. His brother is driving down and Piper invited us…well, whatever." Laila quickly thought twice about telling Will where they were going. Although she still saw him as a friend, Sterling clearly picked up on something she didn't.
"Why does he hate me so much?" Will asked innocently.
Laila shook her head, not wanting to make excuses for Sterling. "It's complicated. I know it won't happen right away but I really am planning on explaining our relationship to him. You're a good friend and I want him to see that."
Will nodded and then took a chance and kissed her cheek. But Laila turned her head and took a step back, staring at him with sad eyes. "I really am sorry," she offered quietly.
"I know," Will said, slightly hurt. "I'll see you later."
Laila nodded and he watched as she walked away from him. He could still feel her soft cheek from when he had kissed her and ran his tongue across his lips so he could taste her. God, he wanted her so much it almost hurt him. The longing in his chest had only increased the closer he got to her and now that he could literally taste her, it felt as if his heart was about to explode. He knew he had to stop her from talking to her boyfriend that night. He glanced at his watch and took off in the direction of the freshmen dorms, pulling out his phone and texting Luanne.
Find out what party they are going to tonight.
He smiled as he sent it, knowing that Luanne was practically dying for his approval. Someone with her level of desperation was always easy to manipulate. He was still smiling as he knocked on his little sister's door.
"Will! What are you doing here?" Brittany smiled up at him with her large brown eyes. There was little in their physical appearances that could define them as siblings. Their curly hair and the color of their eyes were the only similarities and for that Will was grateful. His little sister had always looked up to him but he rarely saw her as anything but an annoyance. As a child, Will had constantly worked to prove himself to their parents. Nothing he did was ever good enough; even his Yale acceptance letter had been met with a sour face and hurtful words from his father: "Harvard or Oxford would have been better."
But Brittany had always been their golden child. They attended every school play, sent her to drama camp and bought her singing lessons. It had taken Will nearly 17 years to admit it, but he was jealous of his little sister, even to this day. If she had been horrible at drama, it would have been easier. But the truth was she was brilliant. He didn't understand it, though. In front of new people she was always nervous and awkward, never letting her emotions show. But in front of an audience, when her face was layered in makeup, her costume donned, she shined. And it angered him that she could do something so effortlessly, so flawlessly.
"Hey, Brit. How are things?" Will asked, stepping around her and walking into her room. Her shared dorm room was a mess with clothes, shoes and books. He had been introduced to her roommate a couple times but never bothered to remember her name. Luckily, the girl wasn't around.
"Things are good," Brittany said, sitting on her bed and running her hands through her hair. "How's the paper?"
Will shrugged. "Fine."
"Is everything okay?" He could hear the concern in her voice. No matter how cruel he was to her when they were kids, she was always on his side, always worried that he wasn't happy.
"Actually, I need your help with something," he said, smiling at her.
"Anything!" She appeared overjoyed that he was actually coming to her for help.
"There is this girl in my class," he began but was interrupted by his sister's squeals.
"Oooh! What's she like?"
Will knew she was only trying to tease him but he frowned at her in an attempt to shut her up.
"I really like her," he said honestly. "But she has this boyfriend."
"That's a problem."
Will finally laughed. "You're telling me."
"So, what's the deal? Does she like you?"
"I think she does. But she's been with this guy for a while now and I think she feels trapped or something." Trapped? That sounded like a reasonable excuse.
Brittany waited for her brother to say something more. He was clearly conflicted but she didn't know how or why he needed her help. He had never come to her for advice about girls before. Most of his girlfriends had lasted mere months before he threw them away and moved on to the next one. Girls loved Will and his unruly mop of hair. Her friends in high school had called him sexy and mysterious but Brittany had always kept her mouth shut. To be honest, she couldn't stand the way Will treated women. He used them and cheated on them, always claiming no girl was ever good enough for him.
"Anyway," Will continued, "I know they are fighting right now and I think I may have a chance with her if they break up. That's where you come in."
"No!" Brittany said, instantly knowing what her brother wanted from her. She knew him too well to even imagine his intentions for her were any good.
"You haven't even heard what I'm going to say."
"I don't want to hear it. Leave me out of this." She stood up and walked away from him.
A smile crept over Will's face as he stared at his sister's back. They both knew he held one of her darkest secrets and, with very little guilt, Will was going to use it against her. "Do you want me to tell Mom and Dad about last summer?"
Brittany's head fell and she started shaking. She knew this would come back to haunt her. She was ashamed of what she had done but also incredibly confused by it. Part of her wanted Will to tell her secret but the other part of her knew it would break her parents' hearts.
"No," she finally decided. "I don't want you to tell them. What do you want me to do?"
"Good," Will smiled at her, not a brotherly smile or one with any compassion at all. It was a demeaning smile, one she knew all too well. "I'm going to text you the address of a party later this afternoon and I want you to show up wearing something only slightly inappropriate."
Brittany felt her self esteem plummeting as he spoke.
"I'll point out who the boyfriend is and then you do whatever it is you girls do to make him kiss you."
Brittany's mouth dropped at his brazen demands. "I can't just walk up to someone and get them to kiss me. It doesn't work that way!"
"I can't do it," Brittany avoided his question. "What if he doesn't like me? What if I don't like him?"
"You're an actress," Will insisted. "Act."
"Guys aren't that easy, Will."
Will laughed. "Yes, we are. This guy's heart is probably broken right now. He's an easy target."
"Please don't ask me to do this," Brittany begged. She hated deception and couldn't believe the position her brother was putting her in.
"It's up to you," Will said with a shrug. "Do it or I tell our parents."
Brittany just shook her head and opened her door for him to leave. "Get out."
Will stood up quickly and walked through the door, pausing just on the other side. "Think about it."
She slammed the door in his face and then threw herself onto her bed. She closed her eyes and tried not to think about that day which now caused her so much shame and confusion. It had been her graduation party and half of the senior class was gathered at her home. The Alexander's home was large and there were kids everywhere, running through the halls, swimming around the pool, hiding in spare bedrooms so they could hook up without the others seeing.
Brittany had been taking her job as hostess very seriously. She loved seeing all her friends together and having a good time. She sat by the pool in her black bikini and watched as they played Marco Polo and volleyball. A light tap on her shoulder had distracted her.
"Brittany? Do you know where I can find more bottled water?" She recognized the sweet voice. It belonged to Sarah Cohen, the girl who had transferred into their high school during the middle of their senior year. Sarah had been beautiful and easily fit in with the rest of the class. Although friendly, she remained a mystery to most of the seniors, never revealing too much of her past or why she had transferred. It didn't bother most people because her bubbly personality distracted them. But Brittany remained curious though had always been too shy to ask her any personal questions.
"Of course," Brittany had said, standing up from her chair. "They're just inside. I'll get them."
"I'll help you carry them, if you like?" Sarah had smiled and Brittany felt her heart flutter. She had tried to deny her attraction to Sarah for months now, convincing herself that she was just envious of the girl's dark red hair and her piercing grey eyes, her perfect hourglass figure. It felt wrong to be so intrigued by another female and Brittany had never shared her feelings with anyone. But as the two girls walked inside the house, she couldn't help but notice the sway of Sarah's hips, the way her breasts bounced slightly under her revealing bikini top.
Brittany led the way to the garage and felt the butterflies explode in her stomach as she heard the door closing behind them. She walked quickly to the old fridge which stored the extra beverages and threw open the door, the cold air hitting her skin and cooling her nerves.
"Jackpot!" She heard Sarah laugh as she stepped beside her. Her friend took a bottle of water from the door and opened it, gulping quickly and then holding it out for Brittany.
"Thanks," Brittany had heard her voice shaking but had hoped Sarah didn't pick up on it. She quickly grabbed the bottle and took a sip. Sarah had watched her and smiled as the plastic bottle left Brittany's lips.
"It's so hot out today," the redhead had said slowly.
"No kidding," Brittany laughed awkwardly.
"It's really cool of your parents to let everyone come over."
Brittany nodded, noting that Sarah was inching closer to her, her warm skin divergent from the cold air of the fridge.
"It's a shame I've never been here before. I've heard such great things about your house and I now see that they were all true."
Brittany swallowed but tried to hold on to some of her confidence. "I would have invited you over sooner if I had known you wanted to come."
Sarah raised an eyebrow. "That would have been nice." She had smiled so seductively that Brittany could no longer resist. She leaned over and kissed the girl on lips, quickly but surely. It felt right and wrong on so many levels and before she was ready, Brittany pulled herself away, instantly embarrassed and ashamed by her actions.
Brittany opened her eyes hesitantly, nearly positive Sarah was going to be appalled by what she had done. But her friend was smiling at her, a beautiful smile which left Brittany giddy with relief. "I've wanted that for a while," Sarah had whispered.
Brittany was finally able to smile back and gently reached for Sarah's hips as the redhead leaned in for another kiss. Brittany was swimming in the forbidden excitement of it all. Sarah's skin was so smooth and warm under her fingers. Her lips were soft as they kissed and she tasted of berry lip gloss. Brittany could feel Sarah's hands running through her hair and pulling her closer. Their bodies touched and Brittany had felt as if she was about to explode with anticipation.
That's when she heard someone clear their throat and she pulled away, startled by the noise. Both girls had seen William standing in the doorway at the same time. They jumped out of each other's arms and Sarah had left without saying a word. Will had watched as Brittany's friend walked by him and he smiled as if he knew something the girls didn't.
"What are you doing here?" Brittany had eventually asked.
"Your guests are asking for more beverages," he said smugly.
"Please don't tell Mom and Dad."
He only smiled at her.
"This is the first time…"
"Save it," Will interrupted her. "I won't tell them."
Brittany had believed him but she also knew that he would use it to his advantage if he ever had the chance. Clearly Will had been saving it for the right moment. She knew her brother too well to even hope he would have forgotten about the scene in the garage.
Brittany had reprimanded herself time and time again for what had happened. She knew her parents would be devastated if they ever found out. She knew in her head what she had done was wrong but couldn't deny that everything about it had felt so right. Sarah had called her nearly every day for about two weeks at the beginning of the summer but Brittany never answered. She left for Yale with the unresolved event nagging at her conscience, convincing herself that she would soon be too distracted to think about Sarah. And she had been distracted, she had become completely preoccupied with the girl in her class.
Brittany smiled as she thought about Nikki and her cropped black hair, her beautiful smile and her tall silhouette. The two had become close friends and working with her on the production had been as entertaining as it was rewarding. Nikki's sense of humor kept everyone laughing and Brittany was always pleased when she showed her more attention than the rest of the crew. Nikki had taken Brittany under her wing and introduced her to everyone as if they had been old friends. She was grateful for her friendship.
But Brittany knew that she couldn't make the same mistake with Nikki as she did with Sarah. She had been lucky with Sarah and wasn't going to take the chance and ruin her friendship with Nikki. Standing confidently, Brittany walked to her closet and began going through her clothes. What had her brother said? Something only slightly inappropriate?