True Confessions of Star Crossed Lovers

Chapter 10

Max POV


After the game, we drove home with the top down, screaming in victory, our voices fast becoming hoarse. Angel kept waving her pompoms in my face, causing my nose to crinkle. I think I sneezed a few times, too. Ari pulled into the driveway and parked the car. I jumped over the side and Nudge followed suit. She waited while I reached over to unbuckle Angel's booster seat and lifted her out of the car.

Ari immediately grabbed the phone and ordered twenty pizzas of all varieties from El Primo's, as well as enough bottle of coke to fill a swimming pool and ten large orders of suicide wings - my favorite. It's just not good wings unless you have tears streaming down your face, I reckon. Ari then informed us that the pizzas would be delivered in twenty minutes, give or take, just before the guys were set to arrive.

Nudge and Angel got busy on blowing up silver, green and black balloons - since when did we keep them around the house? - while I went to work on setting up the Wii and Xbox on our flatscreen.

When we finished, we had about five minutes before the pizzas - and the guys - would show up. This timeframe, according to Nudge anyway, was "just enough time to get ready!"

Get ready for what, exactly? I wanted to ask, but I knew better then that. Seriously, though, we're just swimming. You throw on a swimsuit, jump in the pool, get your hair sopping wet, along with the rest of you. So hairstyling and makeup are both moot points. But don't try telling that to Nudge - oh no, not unless you want your eyes poked out with mascara wands.

I shook my head and rolled my eyes exasperatedly at Nudge, before heading off to help Angel into her blindingly pink (GAG) onepiece. I slipped a Barbie (GAG GAG GAG) floaty onto each arm, then pulled her hair back into a loose ponytail so it wouldn't be in her way when she swam. Once I'd finished, she trotted off downstairs to help Ari put out some refreshments - is it just me or does that sound so glaringly British? - which left me alone in my room. With Nudge. And a horribly skimpy black bikini.

Oh, hell no.

She grinned at me, and I wondered, not for the first time, which side of her family she got her Satanic genes from. Unless, of course, she was Lucifer's own child, which wouldn't surprise me at all.

"No way, Nudge!" I spat as she advanced on me, with the swimsuit in her hands. "Nuh-uh, no way. In your freaking dreams, my mental friend!"

Her evil smile just widened as the strode toward me, cornering me up against a wall. Damn that girl! Why oh why was she blessed with her freaking... devil-ness? When she's on a mission, there's no stopping her!

Nudge moved and shoved the despicable garment into my hands. She spoke cheerfully; "Put this on, Max, and don't even try to complain, because if you do - well, you won't know what the hell happened before you're on your knees begging me to stop what I have planned if you resist. Now put the damn bikini on!"

I slumped against the wall, trying to think of an excuse - any excuse! - to get me out of wearing this hoochy-momma swimsuit. And then a thought struck me; "Nudge! I can't wear this! It's too revealing!"

"No duh-"

"No, Nudge, I mean it's too lowcut in the back! Ari will see my tattoo and all hell will break loose," I said.

Nudge's eyebrows shot up, and her mouth formed an o. "You mean he still hasn't found out about that? But we got those ages ago!"

"Yeah, well I don't exactly go round pulling my pants down, showing off my lower half to my brother. So, no. He doesn't know about it, and I'd rather keep it that way." I shoved the scraps of material back into her arms.

Yeah. I did get a tramp stamp - something I'm not exactly proud of. But hey, what can you do? These things happen when you go out celebreating on your seventeenth birthday with your best friend. All hell breaks loose. I'm just grateful I didn't hook up with a random stranger - nah, I'm saving that for when I'm twenty-one - and go off to Vegas.

I had gotten the word Soarin' with a bird flying off into the distance inked into my lower back. I've no idea why I got that, exactly, but I saw it at the parlor and it just spoke to me. So I got it. I must say, it doesn't look half-bad.

Nudge shook her head at me. I slumped again; I had a viable excuse, but somehow, she was able to find a way to get around it. Well that sucks.

"That's fine," she said sweetly. "All you have to do is..." she threw the bikini at me and ran to her bag, rummaging through it before she found what she was looking for. "Ah-ha! All you have to do is wear this." She shot me a triumphant smirk and flun a pair of neon green, extremely short, boardshorts at me.

I let out a heavy sigh, caving in. I knew there was no way to get out of this one. And, hey, at least it was infinitesimally better than before. I guess.

Slowly, I walked over to my bathroom to change. I hummed a war song, a depressing number, loudly, making sure Nudge could hear. For effect, I hung my head low and dragged my feet.

"Oh, shut up, Max! And move it, woman! I think I heard the doorbell ring!" Nudge yelled, annoyed.

I changed as quickly as I could, making sure that my tattoo was concealed before heading back into my room. I walked over to Nudge, who was waiting patiently - not - for me to return.

"Hey, Nudge, can you retie my top, please? It's too loose, and I'd rather not have a repeat of Rachel Dawson's party in '07." I pulled my hair up so it wouldn't get caught when she tied it.

Nudge snickered. "Sure thing. I'm sure Ari would have your, and every boy at this party's, head if you had another top malfunction like that." Nudge laughed outright. "I wasn't even there, and yet I can picture your expression perfectly. God, I wish I'd've seen it."

"Har-har," I muttered. "So funny."

There was silence for a while, before Nudge broke it. "So..." she started casually. "Is Iggy coming tonight?" She was doing a very poor job to hide the hope in her tone, and I couldn't help but snicker. Nudge and Iggy, sittin' in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

"Ah, probably. He's part of the team, so I'm guessing he will. Why?" I asked, already knowing the answer, but wanting her to confirm my suspicions.

I saw her blush in the bleached out reflection in my bedroom's window. Even all black-and-white-and-grey, I could see the red coloring her cheeks. "Oh, no reason," she hastened to say. "Just asking, is all."

Just asking, my freaking ass. Hmm, keeping my promise with Iggy about getting him a date with her was gonna be easier than I thought.

I smirk at her reflection, deciding whether or not to pursue my task right now. I decide to wait a while, let them both squirm and hopefully embarrass the crap out of them along the way. "OK, whatever. Let's go, I think I hear them downstairs." I grabbed a loose white shirt and yanked it over my head.

"Mmkay," Nudge murmured, walking to the door absentmindedly. Probably thinking about Iggy, I smirked inwardly.

We grabbed a few towels and headed downstairs, toward the thunderous noise of the lively boys partyin' it up.

When we made it downstairs, we saw only a few guys from the team sprawled out everywhere. Some were battling it out on Rock Band while others shoved piece after piece of pizza into their mouths. Ari was chatting to Sean in the kitchen while making root beer floats.

I was starting to wonder where the rest of the guys were when I heard Gazzy scream, "CANNON BALL!" through the sliding glass doors, followed by a splash and a few voices whinging about getting pool water in their drinks. Gazzy.

At least I knew where everyone was.

Nudge followed my lead, and we made our way over to the sliding glass doors, slipping out and leaving them half open since it was a nice night, and we'd be coming in and out frequently.

A huge smile spread across my face as I took in the scene before me. Ig, Gaz, Connor, Eric, and a few others were messing around in the pool, but that's not what had me smiling. Fang was sitting on the edge of the shallow end with his feet dangling in, Angel at his side in the same position. It looked so cute. Fang had this look on his face that made me weak at the knees; he was smiling brightly at her with great intentness as she told him what I guessed to be a pointless story about what had happened in school that day. He didn't even seem bored! All his attention was on Angel, who seemed to be eating up all the attention she was receiving.

But there was a look in his eyes that I couldn't quite place. It was remorse - I think - that filled him. Why, though? Why would Fang be remorseful with Angel? There were so many things about Fang I didn't get - but I was determined to figure them out.

Two hands grabbed me, and I felt my smile slip into a mask of fear and shock. This can NOT be good. Crap crap crap crap!

I whipped my head around quickly, coming face to face with a very malevolent looking Iggy and Gazzy. They shared a wicked look before picking me up, Gazzy holding my feet and Iggy holding my arms.

They ignored my screeches of protest and hauled me over to the side of the pool. By this time, we'd captured everyone's attention and they were all cackling madly. Except for Fang, who just looked up at the sky as if to say Why me? and waited for me to be dropped into the pool of water beneath me.

"IGGY AND GAZZY, IF YOU EVER WANT TO SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY AGAIN, I SUGGEST YOU PUT. ME. DOWN. NOW!" I screamed furiously.

They just shared another look and grinned again, before swinging me back and forth over the water. Those asses were teasing me!

"Guys - seriously - don't! Put me down!" I begged, and as soon as the words left my mouth, I immediately regretted them.

The two boys looked at each other and said simply, "OK." And with that, they let me go. I crashed down into the cold water, which filled my mouth and ears and nose. I, caught by surprise, gasped. Not a good thing to do underwater, I assure you.

I pushed off the bottom of the pool, and as soon as I broke the surface, I gasped and gagged and coughed and choked.

Once my breathing was under control, I sent a death glare to the two idiots, who were rolling around - literally! - laughing their asses off.

"YOU ARE BOTH DEAD!" I hissed, stopping their giggles. They stared at me, wide-eyed as I pulled myself out of the pool and lunged at them. I got a good jab at Gazzy, causing him to fall over, clutching his side - and not from laughter this time - while I tackled Iggy to the ground with a thump.

He let out a hiss of pain as I punched him - not too hard - square in the jaw.

"Ow, bitc-" he growls, holding his jaw. I cut him off by slapping.

"LANGUAGE!" I yelled, making him wince.

"Ducking glass mole," he muttered under his breath.

Angel ran up to me, looking as if she'd just stopped giggling at my misfortune, and said, "Max. I'm hungry..."

I rolled my eyes. "Of course. When are you not? I've taught you well. There's pizza inside - go ask Ari to get you some, OK?" She nodded and gave me a quick squeeze before skipping off.

When I turned back, I heard a godawful noise. WTH?

Iggy was dancing - like the white boy he is, might I add - by the edge of the pool, while singing Friday by Rebecca Black. God help us...

"SOMEONE STOP HIM, PLEASE! MY EARS ARE BLEEDING!" I pleaded, as the others started chuckling.

"Just be glad he didn't sing her new song. Prom Night." Gazzy shuddered. "It's like fifteen times worse!"

"Oh, don't worry, guys," Iggy assured us. "It's coming. I'm saving it for that night especially. Which, as you know, is creepin' up on us. It's only a few months away!" And as he spoke, he was still shaking his white boy ass.

"Oh, God no," I mumbled. Sick of it, I made my way over to him while he was singing off key, and I shoved him over the edge of the pool, just as he got to the second round of 'Partyin', partyin', yeah".

"THANK GOD!" Gazzy yelled, while the others cheered in relief.

Iggy came shooting up out of the water. As he surfaced, he started coughing up the chlorinated H20.

Hah. Karma's a bitch.

I smirked at him and told him so as he got out, glaring at me. His only response was to flip me off and huff like a baby.

"Boo," I said to Fang, sitting down next to him and laughing at Iggy's retreat.

"Hey."

"What're you thinking about? I bet it's something Deep & Meaningful."

Fang snorted. "Hardly. I was just thinking about how hard Ari's gonna kick their asses for staring at you." He nodded to the group of boys that were very obviously not looking at me. Instead, they were passing a football. Sort of - most of them were just using the opportunity to tackle their mates.

"Um. Yeah. See, Fang, they're sort of... not staring at me... Why would they be staring, anyway?"

Smirking, Fang nodded to my... chest. I looked down and saw my white tee clung to me like a second skin. It was very... uh, flattering. As Nudge would say. I, however, would say it was god damn freaking embarrassing.

My mouth dropped open and I grabbed the material, pulling it away from my skin so it hung loose. "And no one told me about this before why...?"

Fang looked at me incredulously. "Max. They - we - are teenage boys. And you expect us to tell you about your... situation?"

I glared at him and stood up, narrowing my eyes. "This conversation is getting really awkward and I'm seriously about to punch you." I shook my head, before raising my voice. "OI! CONNOR! Get off Eric! Now! You'll break his neck!" Once the two had separated sheepishly, I yelled, "ONE TWO THREE FOUR, I DECLARE A SHOULDER WAR!"

Everyone cheered, and I grinned. The party mood was infectious, so I couldn't help but turn around and give Fang a hand up. "I'm on your shoulders," I declared, and he smirked and nodded.

"Max! Wait for me! I'm gonna go get Nudge, OK?" Iggy called. I winked at him, and he shot me the bird.

Fang raised his eyebrows. "What was that about?"

"Iggy likes Nudge! Iggy likes Nudge! Iggy likes Nudge!" I chanted childishly. Fang rolled his eyes and shucked his shirt off.

Now, I had seen his abs at the game and all, but... whew. Someone please get me some sunglasses, for the hotness is blinding me. God damn, boy.

"Max. Max. Earth to Max. FANG! Max is checking you out! Look, I think she's drooling!" I heard Gazzy shout distantly. I jerked up from my ab-induced haze and blushed furiously.

"I was not!" I cried.

"Whoa, are you blushing?" Connor demanded, coming up behind me and making me jump.

"No! No no no! I'm not blushing. Max Ride does not blush-"

Lies. And, to be honest, I think I blushed harder when Fang and his abs walked over to me. You know those ads at the drive-in, with the dancing popcorn? Yeah, Fang was like a dancing cookie. The nicest, mouth-watering, oh-my-god-let's-make-out-until-our-lips-are-swollen cookie you'd ever see. And then he touched my cheek and smirked that smirk and my knees went weak and I saw fireworks and he kissed me and we lived happily ever after.

Kidding.

But my knees did go weak. And, unless it was suddenly the Fourth of July, I did see fireworks.

But then Fang pulled back and laughed at me. "You are blushing!"

I narrowed my eyes and shoved him away. You idiot, Max. Dammit! Stupid stupid stupid!

"Whatever, Fang! Whatever," I huffed. "I'll forgive you for being a douche if we kick their asses." I nodded to Gazzy and Connor, and to the house, where Iggy was fetching Nudge. Fang snickered and opened his mouth to say something witty, but shut up from a look from me.

Annoyed - at Fang and myself - I turned around and yanked off my damp shirt.

"Hey, Max - holy shit!"

I looked up and saw Iggy standing in the doorway of the sliding doors with Nudge, mouth open. Nudge was smirking and giving me an oh-so-subtle - not - thumbs up and a barely concealed wink.

"What?" I mouthed. What was she going on about. And then I looked behind me and saw Fang, Connor, Eric and Gazzy staring at me, eyes wide. No one was speaking, and it was silent until Eric let out a loud wolf-whistle. "Niiiiice," he said appreciatively.

I looked down at myself. "NUDGE!" I shrieked.

"Yeah?" she said, right behind me.

I spun and said furiously, "This is way too skimpy! Even for you! Oh my God!" I started to look for my shirt, but I couldn't find it anywhere. The guys were snickering and I turned on them. "Who has it?" I demanded.

"C'mon, Max," Fang said imploringly. "We just wanna play shoulder wars!" (A/N. Ok so for all us Americans HALLA who are all like "Huh? WTF are Shoulder Wars?" Just so you know… 'shoulder Wars' is 'Chicken' for us… my wonderful beta helped me re-write a part and she, being an Aussie HALLA AGAIN , calls it 'Shoulder Wars'… so ya… just clarifying that.)

"Yeah," chorused Connor and Gazzy. They fist bumped and Gazzy yelled, "We're gonna beat yo' asses!"

I shook my head, shivering slightly. They were all staring, taking peeks from the corner of their eyes. 'Cept Iggy, who was too focused on Nudge to care about my indecent exposure.

We all got in the pool, and ended up playing, like, forty rounds of shoulder wars. Nudge on Iggy's shoulders, Gazzy on Connor's, and I on Fang's. Eric had headed inside earlier ("What's the point without a partner?"). Guess who won most of the time?

Yeah. Fang and I were a beast team; Gazzy was knocked down in five seconds flat, easy. The time seemed to be flying, and before we knew it, it was already eleven o'clock. Almost everyone had gone home and we had sent Angel to bed a while ago. It was now just a few guys hanging out inside with Ari, and Iggy, Gaz, Nudge, Fang and I outside.

After a while, the pool got too cold to swim in, so I cranked the hot tub up and we hopped in. The jets and bubbles were full speed, and it felt so good after the game. It was getting a bit awkward, though, sitting in the tub, staring, not saying a word.

Nudge decided to break the silence by suggesting, "Oh! Let's play Truth or Dare!"

I groaned, Fang sighed, and even Iggy muttered, "Hell no."

She frowned at us. "Come on! It's not like we have anything better to do! It'll be fun, so suck it up and let's get this game started!"

Iggy was the first to agree - shocker! - and he was followed by reluctant OKs from the rest of us. He started up the first round.

"OK, Max." He got this evil glint in his eye, making me squirm. "T or D?"

"Normally I'd go with dare, but... you're giving me the creepy-ass pedo smile. Which is your equivalent of an evil grin. So I'm gonna go with truth." My tone was casual, but on the inside, I was flipping out, wondering what the heck he was going to ask me and praying to God it wouldn't me too personal.

He seemed a little bummed at first - ha! He did have something evil planned! Nice dodge, Max - but then his smile cranked up to full creepiness. Crap.

"Out of everyone here tonight, who would you date?"

Are we in elementary school now? Seriously?

Wow, that wasn't near as bad as I had anticipated. I smirked and answered, "Well, you see, Ig, Mr. Hypocrite-Over-Protective-Brother over there-" I jabbed my hand in the direction of the house "-Won't let me date, so... no one, I guess. I can't."

Iggy rolled his eyes. "No, Max, I mean if you could date someone, who'd it be?"

"That's not what you asked. Word your question wisely next time." He opened his mouth to protest, but I cut in. "Sorry, Igs, I answered it. One question per turn. Guess you'll have to wait 'til next time." I flashed a lazy grin, and Gazzy and Fang smirked at my side. Nudge rolled her eyes - what the hell? Is she taking his side? What happened to bros before hoes? Erm, well, chicks before dicks, for us. She must have it for him ba-ad.

"Mmkay. My go. Ig, T or D?" I asked, knowing exactly what his dare would be if he chose it to be so.

He sat there hesitantly, before saying, "Um, dare, I guess?"

"I dare you to take Nudge on a date!"

His eyes grew wide, but I noticed a small, grateful smile playing on his lips. I winked and he grinned. "OK," he whispered, and Nudge blushed but looked happy.

It was now Iggy's turn.

"Fang. Truth or Dare?"

Without hesitating, Fang said, "Dare."

Cue another creeptasticular smile. I wouldn't have cared - if the smile hadn't been directed at both Fang and I. This cannot end well.

"I dare you to give Max a hickey."

My and Fang's eyes widened. Was this child on crack? SERIOUSLY!

"You've gotta be kidding me!" Fang muttered.

Iggy just grinned wider.

"Ig, hon, whatever drugs you're on, either you took too much or not enough, because you're on crack if you think Fang is gonna give me a hickey!" I yelled, semi-hysterically. Scary thing... I wanted that hickey.

"Aw, come on, you big babies! It's just a hickey. It'll be gone in a few days and you can cover it up. Now hop to it, kids! A dare is a dare."

"Are you crazy, Iggy?" Fang demanded in a hiss. "Ari would kill me, and I'd really like to live past seventeen, thank you very much!"

Iggy wasn't having it - he was like Nudge, in some ways. Ruthless. I sighed in defeat, dreading what I was about to say; "Well. Might as well get it over with. C'mon, Fang."

He stared at me blankly a I motion for him to move closer. I move my hair out of the way, exposing my bare neck. He hesitated for a moment, before moving to sit directly beside me. My heart was speeding up in anticipation, and I squeezed my eyes shut. I prayed Fang couldn't feel how fast my heart was thumping in my chest. I was nervous, but slightly - VERY - excited for this. Just the thought of Fang - a freaking sex god - being this close made my heart flutter.

Oh, God, I did not just think that.

Fang dipped his head down to meet my neck and froze for a moment, hesitating. I could feel his warm breath on my skin, and I shivered. He kissed my skin lightly, before opening his mouth. I felt his teeth graze my skin, and my stomach tightened. He bit down once, twice, harder each time. He started sucking gently - and then he started to be a little less careful. He sucked harder, right on my sweet spot. I had to bite my lip to prevent myself from moaning out loud in pleasure. It took all my willpower to sit there silently. I sucked in a sharp breath as his tongue traced patterns on my skin. I could hardly contain the moan that threatened to escape me, and I think I must've let out some sort of noise, because I heard Iggy laughing at me distantly.

All too quickly, Fang's mouth left my neck. My body immediately missed his warmth, and I almost whimpered in protest. But if I did, I knew I'd never live it down.

Fang sat back down in his original spot, while everyone examined my neck.

"Nice, Fang, that's going to be there for at least five days!" Iggy congratulated, clapping Fang on the back. My eyes went wide.

"Nudge! Tell me you can cover it up! Please!" I begged.

She came closer to get a better look before saying. "Yeah. A little coverup, concealer, bronze, and powder and you should be good." I let out a breath. However torturous that all sounded, I really didn't need Ari to be arrested for murder.

After a few more rounds - consisting of the neighbor's underwear 'disappearing', a prank call to the resident bitch, and a few other things that shall never be repeated, it got back to me. Iggy was the asker, again.

I figured that I should have a crack at dare, since everyone else had braved it. But I was not prepared for what he dared me to do.

This is not good, I thought as Iggy whispered something to Gazzy, resulting in wicked grins from the both of them.

"I dare you to straddle Fang. And kiss him. For a minute straight. Open mouth, tongue action," Iggy clarified evilly.

My eyes grew wide, and I looked over at Nudge for reassurance. She was one of the only people who knew I'd never kissed a boy properly. Thanks, Ari. Hypocrite.

Nudge nodded, telling me it'd be OK, and I swam over to Fang. He was tense, and he looked nervous. Not about the kissing - I was sure he'd had a lot of experience in that area - but about kissing me, specifically. Maybe he didn't want to...

I shoved that thought aside as I crawled into his lap, positioning myself at a good angle with my knees bent and legs either side of him. I took a deep breath, trying to calm my nerves. Before I knew what was happening, Fang had my face cupped in his hand and was pulling me closer, gently.

He closed the distance between us, connecting our lips ever-so-gently. Just as he did, I felt an electrifying shock course through me, making me gasp in surprise. Fang took this as a go-ahead, and slipped his tongue into my now open mouth, caressing my own with it. The action sent chills down my spine; it was like nothing I'd ever felt before. It felt incredible. I couldn't get enough; I never wanted this to end.

I slanted my head to deepen the kiss, our tongues now battling for control. Fang's hands slipped down to my neck, one tracing the mark he'd left before, the other trailing down my collarbone and across my shoulder, before proceeding to go down my side and back up. One hand still tracing the hickey, he twined his other in my wet hair.

I had no clue what I was doing, but it just felt right. As if my lips and hands had minds of their own. Natural. It was an instinct; not taught - I just knew how and what to do.

Fang tugged on my hair, pulling me closer. His tongue explored my mouth, and I just let him, because it felt so good. As he yanked me closer, he caused my to accidentally grind against him. Fang let out an almost inaudible moan. OhmyGodOhmyGod. I need to hear that sound again...

We were now in a well and truly intense make out session. Fang's hands were rubbing soft circles on my lower back, while my hands crept lower and lower down his well toned were so into it, we didn't even hear Iggy's attempts at telling us our minute was up.

Finally, a loud, "HEY!" from Iggy broke us out of the trance caused by our Hot & Steamy make out session.

"Finally," Iggy muttered, while Nudge and Gaz laughed.

I hopped off Fang's lap quickly, sitting next to him and avoiding eye contact.

"That. Was. Hot." Iggy started wiggling his eyebrows at us suggestively.

I glared daggers at him while Fang spat, "Shut it, Iggy."

Nudge decided to pipe in. "Well, you two seemed to be having fun." Then she erupted into another fit of giggles, followed by Iggy and Gazzy.

I glared at her before hissing, "Shut. Up."

I continued glaring at them, while they finished up their laughing fits.

"Gazzy," I said. "Truth or dare."

"Um, truth."

I thought about it for a moment before the question I'd been dying to know the answer to popped in my head."I've heard around school that Ari had a conversation with all the guys before the girls started attending PCA. What exactly was it about?"

Gazzy's eyes widened, and he began to twitch slightly. He looked like one of those guys who're taken in by the police for questioning and the bright light is shining down on them ,blinding their eyes. He stole a nervous glance at Iggy and Fang before answering me.

"Um, well, he just reminded us to be on our best behavior when you guys arrived, and to treat you with respect."

I was obviously not getting the full story here.

"No, Gazzy. Don't give me that crap. I want to know exactly what he said, not the readers' digest version. And don't go making up stories. I want to know, and I will find out sooner or later. If I find out you didn't tell me the whole truth, I will come back to haunt you." My voice rose. "So tell. Me. NOW.

He sat there thinking about it for a while, no doubt contemplating who could be scarier - me or Ari. But I guess I am, because he sighed in defeat before caving in.

"Fine, he told us to be nice to the girls and to treat them with respect and try to keep it in our pants," he confessed, his voice a little over a whisper. "And then he informed us that you would be attending our school, and-" Gazzy hesitated for a moment, as if still trying to determine if this was a good idea, but then he continued, avoiding eye contact; "-he threatened to make sure we would never be able to reproduce if we so much as came in contact with you. You were one hundred percent off limits."

Gazzy must have noticed how pissed I was, because he flinched away from me, cowering. "I'm sorry, Max! I don't want to die a virgin! It's not fair!"

I stood abruptly, my fist clenched, and climbed out of the hot tub.

When I got a few steps away from the hot tub, I screamed, "ARI JEB RIDE, GET OUT HERE NOW!"

Everyone went dead silent as Ari rushed outside to see what was wrong. He ran over to my side and gently grabbed my shoulder.

"Max! What is it? What's wrong? Are you hurt?" he asked franticly, but I was so mad right now I was seeing red.

"You ass!" I hissed as I pushed him off me and straight into the pool.

He let out a startled cry, before crashing down into the water. He broke the surface, coughing up water and glaring at me.

"What the hell is your problem, Max?" Ari demanded as he swam over to the steps to get out.

"My problem? MY problem? What about your problem, you ass! What right do you think you have to go around school threatening guys to stay away from me! Huh?" I screamed at him, making him flinch. "You have no right, Ari! You are the reason I am freaking seventeen years old and never been on a real date before! You are the reason half the guys at school are afraid to come within twenty feet of me! Mom and Dad never left you in charge of my life, Ari! I don't need your protection! I hate how you always interfere with my life, and I am sick of it!"

His face fell as I continued scream at him. I guess my words hit him hard, because he looked like he was about to cry.

"Max, I'm sorry! I just thought I was doing what was best for you."

"Well, Newsflash, Ari! You were wrong. Just... Stay. Out. Of. My. Life!"

He was going to saying something else to me when something caught his eye. His eyes grew wide and his jaw clenched in anger.

"Max," he hissed at me. "What. The. Hell. Is. On. Your. Neck?"

Oh, crap. Busted.

Now it was my turn for my eyes to go wide. My hand shot up and cupped my neck, trying my best to hide the beast of a purply-red mark. Damn you, Fang! The worst thing is I can't even be angry at him because it felt so freaking good!

"Um," I started, searching franticly for an excuse. "I burned myself with the straighten iron?"

Lame, I know, but it was the best I could do on the spot.

Ari was now shaking with anger. I knew this was not good.

"Maximum Ava Ride! Who gave you that?" he demanded, sounding very much like our father. It scared the bejesus out of me.

"Um, can I call a friend?" I ask trying to distract him, but only pissing him off more.

"Max," he hissed anger dripping from every word, "Who. Gave. You. THAT!"

OK, now that got me pissed. Who was he to demand something from me? He was the reason we started this whole mess!

"That's none of your business, Ari! Like I said before, You. Don't. Run. My. Life." At this point, we seemed to notice for the first time, all eyes were on us, watching our little sibling showdown.

"Max." Dead. Deadly serious. I was dead. "May I have a word." It wasn't a question. Not even a suggestion. It was an order.

Too bad I'm not one for being bossed around.

I smiled, sickly sweet, before responding with a sarcastic comment; "Sure thing, Ari!" "Triskaidekaphobia. That's a word. Quite an impressive one, too. Now you may go." I gave him a slap on the back before turning heel and jogging back to the hot tub.

Four pairs of eyes stared at me, about to pop out of their sockets, as Ari let out an aggravated sigh and stomped off into the house, muttering about 'Ungrateful, bratty little sisters.'

I smiled at them, before bursting out laughing at their expressions.

"That was fun."

They all stared at me as if I were mental - except for Nudge, who just looked slightly shocked, because she was used to this kind of stuff from us.

'So, Nudge, about that girl's day tomorrow. I was thinking we sleep 'til noon, go to Moe's for lunch, then go... shopping." I faltered over that last, unspeakable word, but continued nevertheless. "And then go to the carnival at the pier and hang their until we get bored. Sound like a plan?"

She blinked a few times before saying, "Um, yeah, sure. Wow, I can't believe you agreed to go shopping! I mean, you hate shopping - every time I ask, you go-"

"It's never just a simple 'yes' or 'no' with you, is it?"

I felt her smile from under my hand. She shook her head and answered with a muffled, "Nope."

I sighed, shaking my head exasperatedly, before removing my hand.

I looked over to the guys, who were still staring at me in, obviously unable to get over the fact I just had an epic showdown with Ari.

"What?" I asked Iggy, a bit annoyed by the way they kept staring at me.

He stared at me in disbelief before answering, "You've never been on a date?"

I rolled my eyes at him while shaking my head - out of everything that had just went down, that's what he picked up on.

I will never understand that boy, I swear.

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