“You’re not so bad yourself, Jace.” I went and sat down on the couch with Jaxon but I noticed he was glaring at his brother. Jace started cracking up when he saw his brother’s face.

I reached over and poked Jaxon in the side, “By the way, I do NOT snore!” I lifted up my now blank hand to show him I’d seen his little note. He never confirmed nor denied, he just chuckled and continued eating his breakfast.

I sat in the living room, talking to Jaxon and Cole about our schedules this semester, while waiting for Quinn. Jaxon never went and got dressed, which I didn’t mind. He said he didn’t have classes until right before lunch. Quinn finally made it down the hall ready to go. She was wearing a coral jersey dress with a small cut-out in the back and brown strappy wedges on. Her long tan legs looked amazing and I watched as Cole openly gawked.

“Why are you all dressed up today?” he frowned and asked brusquely.

“I’m not dressed up, just figured there’s no need to slum it,” she said while picking up the hem of her dress and letting it fall back against her thighs. Quinn dresses nicely every day; she could never understand my need to wear shorts and a t-shirt to school. Typically, I wouldn’t have looked twice at her outfit, but she did look like she’d put more effort into her appearance than normal. Her curls were a little tighter and her mascara was a little thicker outlining her bright green eyes. Our eyes were the only part of our appearance that we had in common. While her hair was a warm brunette, I felt like mine was a dirty blonde. She had long legs that I would kill for, although I had been more gifted in the chest department than she had.

“Is this because you’re tutoring that as**ole Bryce today?” Cole asked from behind the kitchen counter. How did he even know who she was tutoring this semester?

“He could be a small incentive to look nicer.” She giggled and smiled at me.

I couldn’t help rolling my eyes at the both of them. They were both so oblivious to one another.

“Q, he’s a douchebag. Last week he took one of the Chi Omega girls out to the movies, saw Rachel Morgan in the hallway and he just left his date sitting in the theater all alone, so he could take Rachel back to his room at the frat house.” He grimaced at Quinn.

Jaxon and I just sat there watching the two of them, getting a little uncomfortable. I finished up my coffee and placed it on the table in front of me. Jaxon leaned forward and sat his bowl down next to my cup.

“Well, it’s a good thing I’m not trying to be his girlfriend, Cole.” She smiled coyly.

Cole’s jaw got tight and he pounded the countertop with his fist lightly, almost silently, and started to walk toward the hallway to his room. “I’ll see y’all later. Ems, I think I’ll come to the bar tonight to shoot pool with Jace and Jax. You working?”

“Sure am!” I said as I swung my backpack onto my shoulder, happy to get away from the tension in this room. “Bye guys.” I waved walking for the door with Quinn in tow. “See you later, Jace!” I yelled down the hallway, but winked at Jaxon. He squinted his eyes and glared at me. It was fun messing with him; he obviously wasn’t crazy about his brother’s flirtatious behavior with me, but I enjoyed it.

That night while I was mixing drinks at the bar, I noticed Jace and Cole walk in the front door. I waved at our bouncer Mark, to go ahead and let them in. I loved being able to work in a bar, even though I really wasn’t allowed to. I was still only twenty, but Ed, my boss, wasn’t running the most legitimate establishment, so he hired me on as a bartender, knowing I’d turn twenty-one soon. I was damn good at it, so that was another reason I usually got my way around here. I think he just wanted a female bartender that would bring in regular customers and I was an expert at leading them on.

“Hey boys, I saved table number twelve for you.” I pointed to the pool table closest to the bar. “Quinn didn’t come with you?”

Cole tapped the bar with his fist, which I was coming to realize was a sign of frustration toward Quinn that he was trying to tamper down. “She’s tutoring.”

“Where’s Jaxon?” I asked while pouring Cole’s favorite whiskey into his glass. I didn’t want to upset him anymore with talk of what Quinn was most likely up to tonight, with Bryce.

“Right here, Beautiful.” He grinned from behind me. “I was just outside talking on the phone with mom. By the way, Jace, she said you couldn’t use studying as an excuse not to call her, jackass.”

I smiled at the fact that he enjoyed calling his mom and he wasn’t ashamed of it. I had heard him on the phone with her a couple times already. I still had my back turned toward him. When I finished with Cole’s drink, I turned around to ask him what he wanted and his eyes bugged out at the sight of my shirt. It was just a tight black t-shirt that said, ‘Nice Rack’ across my chest, which is the pool hall’s name. But Ed had thought it would be a fantastic idea for me to wear a deep V-neck t-shirt. My boobs were on display nightly at the bar. I learned quickly to get a tight-fitting bra, one that wouldn’t expose anything when I bent down a hundred times a night. I tried to get the rest of the employees of the bar to have to wear V-necks as well, but since they’re all male, they weren’t having it.

“I agree with the shirt,” he said while beaming.

Jace came up beside him with a devilish grin and said, “Me too, Emmy.”

Jaxon slapped him upside the head and pushed him toward the pool table. It was fun to watch these three playing pool together; they really were the three amigos. Cole looked so happy to have his two best friends finally back with him, and I was pretty happy they decided to join our little group as well. Cole was decent at playing, but that was because he came in here a lot to play with Quinn when she wanted to hang out with me while I worked. Jace and Jaxon knew how to work a table though, and they were extremely competitive with each other. There were lots of cuss words and playful punches thrown.

Jaxon: We have that test today in Media Law. Come over to crash study with me? Pleeease.

Me: I’ll be over in 5. But it’s nice to hear you beg. ;-)

Me: What do I look like… a maid?

Jaxon: Do you have one of those little outfits? If so, I’ll come over there right now.

The next couple of weeks of school and work went by pretty fast. I picked up a lot of shifts since tomorrow was the first game of the season and I knew I’d be taking off all Fridays and some Saturdays until the season was over. Ed complained that he would fire me, but I was the only female bartender, and I pulled in a lot of customers, so I knew he wouldn’t. I usually just picked up extra weekday shifts to appease him and the other bartenders that had to cover for me.

A couple of times I met up with everyone at some of the Frat parties after work. Jace usually didn’t go to those; Cole said he was pretty bogged down with pre-med. Every once in a while, I would see him on campus and he always had a new entourage of girls on each side of him. I couldn’t blame them though, the Riley boys were hot. I heard rumors every now and then about some girl saying she hooked up with Jaxon, but I never asked him if they were true. Micah had said that he was a lot like the male version of me. I did notice Rachel Morgan always sitting next to him in the cafeteria, but I knew they weren’t dating or anything. Not yet at least. Some girls took it upon themselves every once in a while to come and sit in his lap. He usually let them for a couple of seconds and I always laughed into my hand, as he would try politely to move them off.

We continued flirting with each other but nothing more ever happened between us. Mr. Patterson assigned us a huge midterm project that we had to have partners on, so Jaxon and I would meet in one or the other’s apartment to work on it. As we were walking out to his truck after lunch one day, I asked him if he was nervous about the game tomorrow, since he hadn’t played on a team in a couple years.

“No, I don’t think so, I’ve been doing well during practice. I worked my butt off the two years after high school so I could stay fit. I woke up every morning at 5 AM to practice before classes and then I would hit the gyms in the afternoons and evenings. I used to drag Jace with me every morning. He would bitch my head off for making him get up and throw me the ball so early in the morning,” he said while walking over to my side of the truck.

He opened my door and dipped down to grab my waist. This was always my favorite part. I told him once that I was completely capable of getting into a truck on my own, but he just ignored me and did it anyway. He lifted me up into the seat, looking right into my eyes. I swear, every time we did this his face got closer to mine and I almost leaned in to kiss him today. By the time I realized I should, he was already backing out to close my door. He came around to the driver’s side and slid in. His dark jeans made a slight scratching noise across the leather seat.

I realized I hadn’t replied to him yet. “You have a pretty awesome brother to get up every day at five in the morning for two years to throw a ball.”

“I didn’t say he liked doing it,” he returned.

“If he didn’t like doing it, he wouldn’t have been there, Jaxon. He loves you. Besides you said he stayed behind to go to community college with you when he obviously had a university fully ready to pay four years for him in pre-med.”

“Hmm… yeah I guess you’re right.” He said this like he’d never considered his own brother loved him before. “After a while I guess he became used to waking up so early because there were a couple of times that I just didn’t feel like getting up. I mean we did it every single morning even on the weekends. Jace would be there, slapping me upside the head to get me to wake up.” He laughed at the memory and I let him think about it the rest of the drive home.

As we were walking up to our apartment doors, I looked back at him and said, “Hey, you should really think about doing something nice, thanking Jace for helping you.”

“I was just thinking about that. I have no idea what, but I’ll think of something. I’ll catch ya later, Beautiful,” he said while smacking my ass on his way to their door.

He got inside before I even got my keys out. I knelt down with my bag in front of me so I could dig around for my keys. I’m pretty sure this violates Self-Defense 101, be prepared and always have your keys ready. Oh well, I guess if anyone were to try to attack me, I could shout loud enough for the guys to hear or the seventy year-old lady down the hall. Surely she would help out. I kept digging around but I wasn’t feeling the familiar cold metal. I turned my backpack upside down and dumped all of the contents out. No keys. I checked every tiny pocket this backpack had, but still no luck. Damn, I must have forgotten to grab them this morning when I left with Quinn.

Lately, since I’ve been working so much, I’ve been taking a nap before I go in. I didn’t have to work tonight but I was really looking forward to a nap before the party that we were going to hit tonight. I guess I could go take a nap in Cole’s bed. When he lived in the Frat house, Quinn and I used to sleep in his bed all of the time, when we drank too much at their parties. He would sleep on the floor, instead of the couch downstairs, because he didn’t want any of the drunken guys to come in and mess with us while we were asleep. I walked down to their apartment and knocked on the door. It took a while but Jaxon finally answered, wearing only a navy blue towel wrapped around his waist. Well hot damn. He quirked an eyebrow at me as he raised his right arm, resting his hand on the top of the doorframe. It wasn’t a long reach with his height, but the way it stretched him out made my legs tingle. Guys shouldn’t be allowed to look like this, especially ones that live next door to me; it really wasn’t fair to all the other more average-looking guys. I looked up from his muscular calves, over the ridges of his abs to his broad chest. I had to pause for a couple of heated beats when I roamed over the v-shaped indentions at his hipbones disappearing under the towel.

“I see you’ve upgraded your home attire. I approve,” I said softly. My voice sounded raspy. “I don’t have my keys. I was just going to come down here and nap on Cole’s bed till Quinn gets home to let me in.”

He nodded his head but he didn’t say anything and he didn’t move from his position, so I stepped up closer to him. Something in his eyes was different. They were smoldering and oozed sex. I’m not sure what had changed between now and when I saw him two minutes ago, but I wasn’t going to question it. If I looked straight ahead, all that was in my line of vision was a hard muscled stomach. I reached out and put my palm against his abs. My hand had a mind of its own as it slowly climbed up his chest. He was looking down at me with a heated stare. When I rose up on my tiptoes, I could trace my hand up past his collarbone, over that sexy shoulder tattoo, to the back of his neck. His lips were slightly parted and I heard the slight hitch in his breath. The tips of my fingers met the ends of his hair on the back of his neck.

He still had one hand up on the top of the doorframe. He lightly brushed the tips of his fingers along my arm on the way down. I reached up my opposite hand to join the other behind his neck. Then I grasped his hair in my hands.

Once I heard my favorite voice laced in sexual desire, my control was gone. Still up on my toes, I quickly pulled his head down to me, and crushed my lips into his. His hands were staying at his side though. I pushed my body up against his and I could feel how he was reacting to me, so I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t moving beyond kissing me. I wanted to beg him to touch me. I slid one hand back down and grabbed a hold of him through the cotton towel hoping to get my message across. He groaned into my mouth through my lips.