The music pumping through the speakers of Loughlin and Mairead Brady’s half-a-million-pound home was beginning to grow annoying for their 21, just about to turn 22-year-old daughter, Isla Brady. She huffed as she pushed the last earring through her pierced earlobe, before examining herself in the full-length mirror in her en-suite bathroom. “I look fine. You’ll do fine,” she reminded herself, giving her reflection one last look over, before she left her bedroom and trotted down the steps of the family home.
“There she is!” her father chirped, his usual bubbly self. He took a sip of his champagne, before approaching her with three men in tow. Young men. No doubt her father was plotting to set her up with one of them. “You look stunning! Doesn’t she look stunning, boys?” her father asked, turning his head slightly to look at the men, who were stuttering at the sight of the young girl.
“Thank you, Daddy, but have you seen Indie?” she asked, her eyes boring into his, a hint that she no longer wanted him to try to find her a boyfriend.
Her father stared back into her eyes – as if hoping to win the staring contest – before sighing. “She’s over at the chocolate fountain.”
“Thank you.” She kissed his cheek “I appreciate your efforts, Daddy, but I’m more than capable of finding myself a man. Okay?”
He nodded, pursing his lips before smiling brightly. “Got it, princess.” She laughed, patting his shoulder before making her way across the dance floor. She had spotted Indie – one of her best friends – chatting with a fair-haired male, giggling and stuffing chocolate-covered marshmallows in her mouth.
“Indie?” she called, her eyes flickering to the male she was chatting up. Indie turned and looked at her, emitting a loud shriek at the sight of Isla, causing both Isla and the stranger to jump with surprise.
“You look beautiful! Happy 22nd birthday, you geezer!” Indie giggled, pulling her friend in for a tight hug. Drunk, so drunk. It was not that India Summers, the 22-year-old single mother and English teacher, lacked affection for Isla. This was just way too much.
“Thank you, Indie,” Isla laughed, awkwardly patting her back.
Indie pulled away, pouting a little. “Jackson here refuses to have sex with me. Can you talk to him?”
Oh. Jackson Harris. The 22-year-old close friend of Isla’s family. She hadn’t really registered him, since it had been three years since she last saw him. He had been stationed in Luton, since he was a police officer and all. Not that they were necessarily far from each other but life had them occupied. She had heard that Jackson was still in a relationship with a model he met when he was modelling part-time. Isla had had a crush on Jackson when they were adolescents, but that definitely vanished once he rejected her feelings for said model. Of course he was going to pick a model, he’d be crazy if he didn’t (at least, that was what Isla thought), but he had still hurt her feelings. In fact, the last time they had spent time together they had had a massive argument about it. She was surprised he had shown his face at her home.
“Oh! Jackson!” she gasped, faking surprise. “I hardly recognised you!”
Jackson laughed awkwardly, as if remembering their previous argument, then nodded. “It has been a long time, after all, Isla.”
“Thank goodness for that” she breathed, causing him to raise an eyebrow. “Are you that mad to see me? We were best friends at one point, after all.”
India huffed. “Are you going to ask him to fuck me or not?”
Isla reached for a glass of champagne, which was placed neatly by the chocolate fountain, taking a sip before shaking her head. “No, Indie. I won’t. Has Indie here told you she has an eight-month-old son?”
“Isla!” Indie gasped.
“But you do. Don’t lie to anyone, or feel ashamed of him. Let’s go, Indie.” She took Indie’s hand, pulling her away from Jackson Harris, who stood still, completely stunned that the writer was still angry with him for the events that happened years ago.
Just then, the usually late Bethany O’Grady strutted through the front door, holding Isla’s gift to her chest and glancing around the large home to find her best friends. Once Isla’s and Bethany’s eyes met, Bethany giggled and rushed towards them. She held the present out to Isla, who took it, and the pair kissed each other’s cheeks. “Mwuah! Thank you!” Isla smiled, placing the present with the other presents, before rejoining her best friends by the staircase.
“I’m sorry I’m late. I just took too long to get ready,” Bethany explained, causing Isla to giggle.
“No worries, I’m used to it by now.”
The gang was complete, at least now that the 23-year-old midwifery student had arrived, so they went to grab Bethany – who they usually called Beth – a glass of champagne. “How was your trip back to Ohio?” a drunk Indie asked, though she was beginning to sober up with a glass of water a waiter had given her just as Beth had arrived.
“It was fine.” Beth nodded. “My grandparents are very glad that I am studying Midwifery. They’re so proud of me, it makes me want to study even more.”
“You work hard enough as it is, Beth. Don’t put more unnecessary stress on yourself,” Isla told her, taking a sip of her wine.
“Speaking of unnecessary stress, isn’t that Jackson Harris?” Beth, who had been close friends with Isla since they were fourteen, scoffed.
“Yep,” Isla sighed. “I don’t know why he bothered coming. He knows deep down I’ll never forgive him for what he did.”
Now that Indie was sobered up, she gasped. “What did he do?”
“Well,” Beth started, willing to tell the story for Isla, “about three years ago—yeah, three years ago, Isla here finally managed to confess her love to Jackson Harris. By finally, I mean she had bottled it up since she first met him at thirteen. That’s six years! Anyway, Lala here asked him to dinner. She studied a speech, had everything figured out. All of a sudden, halfway through her speech he sighs and says, ’I have a girlfriend, Isla. I met her through the modelling agency’. Well, by god, did I nearly slaughter him. Isla got up, ran out, didn’t speak to him for a few weeks. That is, until he showed up at the door two weeks later and said he was being stationed in Luton, because he’s a police officer. They had a massive argument at the door, and Isla slammed the door in his face. Didn’t speak to him at all. Have you talked to him tonight?”
“Briefly,” Isla huffed. “I don’t want to speak to him. He was one of my best friends, guys. How could he just walk away like that because I had feelings?”
“Don’t bother asking me,” Indie sighed. “My relationship ended as soon as I told him I was pregnant.”
Isla and Beth rubbed her back, shooting her a look that screamed, ’We’re so sorry’.
“Anyway, let’s start having some fun,” Indie said, perking up as soon as she knew at least her friends were on her side. “I haven’t danced since before I got pregnant with Ryan.”
“Then let’s dance, ladies,” Isla giggled, taking both her friends’ hands, and pulling them into the middle of the dance floor. They began to dance to Justin Timberlake’s ’Sexy back’, laughing and pulling funny faces every couple of seconds. That is, until Isla felt someone tap her shoulder.
She spun around, only to be greeted by one of the men her father had tried to get her with earlier. It was only then, in that moment, that she noticed how handsome he was. He had large, green eyes, with a hint of brown in them, and shoulder- length black hair. He was quite muscular, unlike Jackson. Her father had really hit the jackpot with this one. “Uh, sorry to bother you,” he chuckled, but Isla held up her hand to stop him from continuing. She needed to know if her father had sent him over.
“Did my father send you over, or did you want to?” she questioned, squinting at him a little.
He chuckled louder this time, nodding. “I wanted to. No worries.”
“Then you may proceed,” she smiled.
“Well, I couldn’t help but notice you and your pals dancing,” he explained, “and I was wondering if I could have your phone number?”
Isla looked down, emitting a small laugh. He seemed taken aback by her laugh, but stood there nonetheless. “Why don’t we just skip the formalities and date night and just go upstairs right now, hm?” she asked him.
He chuckled, biting his bottom lip and nodded. “Fine, fine. You got me. Let’s go.”
She held onto his hand, pulling him past the girls who were still dancing. “Ooooh!” they giggled in unison, causing Isla and the male to laugh.
“I’ll be back in a moment , okay?” They nodded, then started to dance to ’Closer’ by the Chainsmokers and Halsey.
As soon as Isla and the stranger reached the staircase, she heard her father calling her. She released his hand, turning to see her father standing with her mother. “Where are you going, Isla?” he asked, raising both eyebrows.
“Oh, I’m just showing this gentleman to the bathroom,” she lied. “Aren’t I?”
“Please, call me Stuart,” he told her, winking with the eye that wasn’t visible to her parents. Her father and mother nodded, turning away. Isla took his hand once more, leading him up the staircase.
“Oh, don’t you worry, I’ll be calling you Stuart for sure.”
He smacked her arse through her dress, causing her to giggle and start to jog up the stairs. Once they reached her bedroom door, he pulled her close and started to kiss her softly. She fumbled to find the door handle, but pushed it down once she found it, causing them to stumble in through the door. She giggled as he picked her up and threw her over his shoulder, slamming her bedroom door with his foot and throwing her down onto her silky sheets. She bit her lip, looking up at him with huge, innocent, blue eyes. He removed his blazer, followed by his shirt, and then lay over her, kissing her with force. It had been a long time since Isla had had good sex, she hoped he wouldn’t disappoint her.
Isla sat up, pulling the spaghetti straps of her dress down, then pulled the dress down until her bare breasts were revealed. “I wouldn’t be surprised if you had no panties on, either, Isla,” he smirked, going in to kiss her, but she pressed her finger to his lips.
“I don’t. I’m all yours tonight, Stuart, so do as you please.”
He moaned with arousal, pushing her back onto the bed and helping her wiggle out of her dress.
All of a sudden, there was a loud knock on her bedroom door. Isla and Stuart jumped, frightened that it was her father, and hopped off the bed. “Hide in the closet!” she whispered, pushing him into it, closing the door and pulling up her dress once more. Fuck sake. Why did this have to happen when she was so damn aroused? She pulled open her bedroom door, only to be greeted by the face of Jackson. She groaned, clearly aggravated, and ran a hand through her tossed hair. “What do you want, Jackson?”
“We need to talk,” he said, glancing over her shoulder.
“There’s nothing to talk about, idiot. Go home,” she snapped, attempting to close her bedroom door, but he placed his foot in the way. She shot him a death glare, but upon realising her old love wasn’t budging she let out an even louder groan than before. “I’m kind of in the middle of fucking a handsome stranger, do you mind?”
He blinked. “I saw. I thought you were just taking him to the bath—never mind. Look, Isla. I’ll leave you to have sex if you promise me, no, swear to me that you will give me another shot at being your best friend.”
Isla clicked her tongue, as if she was thinking, but her mind was made up. “Hmm. Nope.” She attempted to close the door once more, but again, he moved his foot in the way.
“Please, Isla. I’ve missed you so much.”
“Then why didn’t you try to contact me? You knew exactly where I was.”
“I didn’t see a point. I needed to give you space to get over me.” He sighed. “I swear to you I’m telling you the truth. Here.” He reached into his jeans pocket, pulling out a cream envelope. It was addressed to her and her parents.
She snatched it from his hand. “I’ll consider it. If I do change my mind, I’ll add you back on Facebook. Okay?”
He nodded, a small sparkle in his eyes. “All right. Thank you, Isla.” He turned away from the door, walking down the hallway before pausing. He turned to face her, a cheeky smile on his lips. “Enjoy.”
“Ew, go away!” she laughed, slamming the bedroom door. She huffed, leaning against it, then heard the closet door open.
“Who was that?” she heard Stuart ask.
“Just an old friend,” she smiled reassuringly. “Shall we resume?”
Stuart smirked. “Take off the dress.”
Isla did as commanded, loving a dominant male, and allowed her dress to fall to the floor. Stuart approached her, his hands feeling up her breasts and stomach. He let out an aroused sigh, picking her up and placing her down on the bed once more. “Damn right, we’ll resume.”
Isla giggled, attempting to pull off her high heels, but he stopped her by kissing her roughly. “Don’t you dare, they make your legs look even sexier.”
She lay back, pulling him over her properly and unzipping his jeans. Stuart pulled them off properly, throwing them across the room and rubbing at her entrance with his rough hands. Isla gasped, holding onto his back tightly. He pulled at his boxer shorts, allowing his member to spring into action, then slid them down his toned legs and threw them across the room, too. “Can you suck me off?” he asked her, nuzzling her nose.
“I’m afraid we’ll run out of time,” she smirked, “and I want you so badly.”
“Okay, then,” he nodded, taking his member into his hand and shoving it inside of her with such a force, Isla’s eyes rolled back a little. She clung onto his back, her manicured nails digging in deeply.
“Oh, wow!” he gasped, closing his eyes and beginning to pump in and out of her.
“Are you on the pill?” he asked her, and she nodded.
“But don’t risk it.”
He nodded in response, kissing her neck and sucking it, leaving two, small love bites. The pair didn’t even last ten minutes, both of them coming to a powerful climax.
“I’m sorry,” he laughed. “I did it inside by accident. I haven’t done this in a few years.”
She laughed, too. “Me neither, and it’s fine. Nothing will happen.”
He let out a content sigh. “Is it bad that I don’t want this to end here?”
“What? You want me to be your fuck buddy or something?” she winked.
“Nah. I want to go on a date with you. Like, a proper dinner date,” he told her, causing her to freeze. She was unsure about what, but you never know until you try.
“All right,” she nodded. “Give me your number.”
Stuart stood, making his way over to his jeans and getting dressed once more before pulling his phone from his jeans pocket. He gave her his number, then Isla stood, getting dressed also.
“What’s that?” he asked, pointing to the crumpled envelope on the bed. She gasped, having forgotten all about it, and placed it on her locker, flattening it out. “I’m sure it’s nothing. Let’s get back to the party before my dad grows suspicious, if he hasn’t already.”
Stuart approached her, kissing the tip of her nose. “All right, cute stuff. Let’s get going.”
Once they were back at the party, Isla noticed Jackson was back talking to Indie, this time with Beth. She felt sorry – a tiny bit – that she had been so cruel to him. He was trying to make an effort to be her friend, but she needed to think about it a little bit more. Stuart turned to her, asking her to dance as a slow set for couples came on. For some reason unknown to her, her eyes flickered over to Jackson to see if he would ask one of her friends to dance. He didn’t. Instead, the trio left the dance floor and took a seat at the side.
“Isla?” she heard Stuart call, so she was snapped out of her daydream.
“Sure,” she nodded. “I’d love to dance.” The night was coming to an end, and she was feeling a little upset for some reason. Perhaps it was because she was getting older and she felt a little upset about that, or maybe it was because she felt bad for Jackson. All this time, maybe he had missed her. She was snapped from her daydream once more, when Stuart’s hands found their way around her waist. She placed her head on his chest, wrapping her arms around his neck.
“This feels nice,” he mumbled. “Perhaps I should have asked you on a date, first.”
“Don’t worry about it. You asked me on a date afterwards, and that’s something, at least,” she smiled.
He chuckled, stroking her hips. “You’re right.” A silence followed as the pair danced, and soon enough the song ended. Her father took to the fake stage, ready to announce the party was over.
Isla looked up at Stuart. “Don’t forget to call me, all right?”
“I promise you, I will” he smiled, kissing her cheek softly. He made his way back over to his friends, as did Isla.
“How was it?” Beth asked, a gleam in her eye. She looked up at Jackson, who was awaiting a response as well. She glanced back at Beth, smiling. “It was great. We’re going to go on a date.”
“Awesome. I hope he follows up on that,” Indie smiled. “I know how much that would mean to you.”
Jackson was silent, his eyes on her father who coughed a little before he spoke into the microphone the band had brought. “Thank you all very much for joining us here tonight for our daughter’s birthday party. As most of you know, our daughter is not officially twenty-two years old until Halloween night, but she will be out on the ’sesh’, as you young people call it, that night, so we had to reschedule.” Everyone laughed, clapping a little.
“So I’d like you all to give a round of applause for my beautiful daughter, my only child and my pride and joy. Isla Rose Brady!.”
Everyone cheered and clapped, causing Isla to blush furiously and laugh. “Goodnight, everyone. Thank you for coming and safe journey home!” he said through the mic, before he jumped down from the stage and made his way over to the front door with her mother. Isla joined them, thanking everyone for coming as they piled out the door.
Jackson was the last to leave with his mother. He smiled a little at her, and Isla noticed her parents examining their behaviour. “I’ll see you later, Jackson. Thank you for coming.” She smiled, holding out her hand, which he shook gently.
“It was my pleasure. Goodnight, Isla, Mairead, Loughlin.”
“Goodnight, young Jackson,” her father and mother said in unison, watching him leave. As soon as Jackson’s mother, Sandra, had hugged her parents and left, they closed to door. Isla felt relieved everyone was gone.
“I saw you flirting it up with young Stuart,” her father winked. “Well? Do you like him?”
“I don’t know, I just met him,” Isla shrugged. “I’m tired, I’m off to bed.”
“Wait!” her mother called her once she was halfway across the living room.
Her mother pursed her lips. “Have you made up with Jackson?”
“I’m not sure. It’s sort of awkward between us. It’ll be that way for a while. I have t+o think about it,” she told her.
“Why don’t you try to date him again?” her mother asked. “He’s the only man in your life that I trust, apart from your father.”
She smiled faintly. “I appreciate that you are trying to protect me, Mam, but Jackson is in a relationship. A long-term, serious relationship. I don’t want to come between them or anything. Besides, my feelings for him are long gone.”
Her mother sighed sadly, nodding. “Fine. What’s meant to be will be, after all. Sleep well, love.”
She nodded. “I will. You guys, too.”
“Thanks, sweetheart,” her father said. “My god, the maid will have some trouble cleaning this tomorrow. Shall we give her a hand?”
“We can get up early tomorrow and get a start on it,” her mother said. “Is that okay, Isla?”
Isla nodded in agreement. “It would be unfair to make her clean all this up. I’ll definitely be up to help.” With that, she turned on her heel and walked up the staircase and into her bedroom.
The first thing she saw once the door was closed was the half-crumpled envelope, sitting neatly on her locker. She picked it up, examining it. ’To Miss Isla Rose Brady and family’, she read aloud, then ripped open the envelope carefully. Inside, was a neatly folded piece of paper, a beautiful cream colour, a little darker than the envelope. She raised both eyebrows, slowly opening the piece of paper as to not rip it. ’You are invited to the wedding of—’ she froze. “Jackson Ronald Harris and Sasha Louise Pentland’.