Wait, a friend? Have I met

this person?

“Yes, though some things are better left a mystery.

I remain quiet, opting not to pry into who this mystery man is.

“How old were you?


“I see…” My mind has so many questions, but I try to focus on the most pressing. “Do you regret it? I mean, do you wish you waited for a perfect moment with someone you did love?

Growing quiet, she touches her wedding ring before deepening her breath. “I think the timing is everything. It wasn’t pleasant. In fact, it was awful. But I guess, when I look back now, it meant that the next time I gave myself to a man, I did so with better judgment.

“It makes sense…” I trail off.

“Amelia, I’m not going to tell you what’s right or wrong. Only you can decide that, but that moment is something you’ll never get back. If you have the opportunity to share it with someone special, then it will stick with you forever.

“It’s okay, Mom,” I reassure her. “I know that most of the girls my age have already had sex, some with more than one boyfriend, but just because I’m eighteen doesn’t mean I have to follow them.

Mom smiles while patting my leg. “I don’t know what I did to deserve such a beautiful and smart daughter like you.

“I don’t know what I did to deserve a beautiful and smart mom like you,” I repeat the sentiment.

“You better get ready for tonight. The offer is there in case you need shoes.

“I’ll keep it in mind,” I say while grinning. Mom stands up, about to leave the room when I call her name again. “About tonight, Madison’s parents won’t be home. It’s just her older brother and sister. I completely understand if you don’t want me to go.

Mom hesitates, but her eyes never leave mine. Staring back at me is a woman who loves me unconditionally, a woman I’ve always admired and hoped to be when I grew up. With her guidance, there’s nothing I can’t do. I just need to muster up the courage to go head-to-head with my father because Yale is the only thing I want.

“I trust you, Amelia. Just be home by midnight, okay?

“Thank you, Mom. I love you.

“I love you too, kid.

Madison Sloan knows how to throw a party.

Her house is located in Bel Air, and according to the stories she tells everyone, the property was given as a wedding gift to her parents almost twenty years ago. Veronica Sloan, a well-known actress, married her father, who happens to be one of LA’s top realtors. Veronica’s grandfather, a prominent director in Hollywood, was said to have cast his daughter in several blockbusters until his death a few years ago.

Madison is never shy in sharing her family’s secrets, including her dad’s affair with their maid, which apparently her mother turns a blind eye to.

Nevertheless, their house is a mansion with sweeping views of the canyons. Its style, a mixture of modern and contemporary, makes for an interesting design choice. Wherever you look, there’s glass everything—large glass windows, glass walls, display cabinets, side tables—I’d never seen so much glass in a house. Everyone from our senior class is here, including others from neighboring schools. This doesn’t look like it will end well, especially given the jocks are knocking each other around as usual, oblivious to their fragile surroundings.

“What a place.” My cousin, Andy, drops his head to whisper beside me. “It’s like a museum… of glass.

I nod along, hiding my laughter. I’m doing my best to be careful and not slip in the heels I ended up borrowing from Mom, clutching to Andy’s arm for much-needed support.

Andy and I have been inseparable since the day we were born. My father and his mother are siblings. Although I’m a few months older than him, his entrance into this world was met with mixed emotions, according to my mom. Of course, Andrew Elijah Evans, named after our grandfather and his father, had been a long-awaited blessing for my Aunt Adriana. It was just unfortunate that Andy’s father passed away from terminal cancer a week later. Having been a baby, I have no recollection of any of this or how it almost tore our family apart. I’m just glad that Aunt Adriana remarried because Andy has an amazing stepfather, one who, according to Ava, used to be engaged to Mom.

When Ava first mentioned it, it seemed absolutely ludicrous. It sounded like a plot from a poorly written soap opera. Yet, Ava was adamant it had been the truth, throwing in some additional information that began to add up. I thought about raising the topic with Mom since Ava is dead certain she’s right, but the more I tried, the more I chickened out. Sometimes, it’s best that secrets remain exactly that, no need to taint the perfect love story my parents appear to have.

“Amelia, Andy! You came!” Madison throws herself onto us, squeezing us both simultaneously while we glance at each other uncomfortably. Her platinum blonde hair is tied back into a ponytail, enhancing her perfect bone structure and flawless skin. The short dress she wears, designer most likely, is white and barely covers her chest. “How amazing is this party?

“Amazing,” we both say in unison.

Madison links her arm into mine, leaving Andy to walk behind us. “You know, Austin is here.

“I figured, since he said he’d come.

Madison leans in, her perfume stronger than usual. “No one is allowed upstairs but say the word, and it’s all yours.

I’m about to switch the topic with a nervous smile when thankfully, Madison gets pulled outside.
Bouncing in her pink heels, she joins a group of boys and begins to dance in the middle of a circle, basking in all the attention.

“Let’s go get something to eat,” I suggest to Andy.

We head outside, hovering near a table spread out with catered food. I have to hand it to Madison, she went all out, not that anyone else cares. Most of the teenagers here are self-absorbed, eager to get laid by some jock or cheerleader.

The music blares from a DJ booth stationed near the large swimming pool. A few people jump in the pool on a dare—the goofy boys—who I often enjoy spending time with when I need a good laugh.

Andy nods his head, spotting a few of his friends by the drinks.

“Will you be okay?” he asks, though his eyes are fixated on Skylar Fischer, a girl he’s crushed on since middle school.

“I do know how to socialize,” I remind him with a pat on his shoulder. “Will you just go and have fun? And when are you going to ask Skylar out? It’s senior year. You’ve got nothing left to lose.

“Um… my ego? Besides, she out of my league.

“Just because she’s a cheerleader doesn’t mean she’s out of your league. You’re a good-looking guy, your mom is a top fashion designer, and your dad is one of America’s well-known journalists. You come from a good family. Why wouldn’t she like you?

“You’re just saying all this because you’re my cousin. But I’ll agree with you, it’s my senior year and time to get my shit together.

He takes a deep breath, his blue eyes widening with slight fear until the usually confident boy I love so dearly walks away toward his crush. When it comes to girls, they often throw themselves at Andy. It’s hard for me to look at him in any other way, but I guess, if I’m honest, his dark blond hair and bright blue eyes along with his tall and toned physique, make him extremely handsome. Yet unlike all the arrogant jocks in our year, Andy isn’t the type of guy to sleep around and use girls for the sake of being macho. I’m just glad he broke up with Giselle Monaghan after she acted like a maniac. If luck is on his side, she won’t be here tonight to ruin his life again.

I watch from across the pool until arms wrap around my waist as the familiar masculine scent invades the air around me, radiating warmth throughout my chest.

“My girl,” his voice whispers in my ear.

Unable to hide my smile, I turn around and wrap my arms around Austin’s neck. In his eyes, the warm honey hues mixed with caramel reflect a hazel color I’ve only ever seen

when he gazes upon me. Austin is dressed in a hoodie, blue jeans, and sneakers—looking deliciously handsome as always.

“You’re here.

“I said I would be.
” His smile is so wide, baring his perfectly straight white teeth. “Besides, I’m kind of fond of you.

I smack his chest softly, his face pained, though only momentarily.

We’ve dated all through senior year. In terms of relationships in high school, this is considered long-term. Being the gentlemen he is, Austin offered to meet my father, and much to my surprise, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. It started off shaky, my father, of course, interrogating poor Austin. But when Austin mentioned med school, it all shifted. There was somewhat of a respectful exchange of conversation. I recall Mom telling me that my father studied to be a doctor, though never really elaborated on why he changed professions.

There is, however, one rule. We’re never to be alone. Andy or Ava chaperoned us on more than one occasion, but both of them would abandon us enough to spend time making out or fool around. We just never had sex, something I know Austin wants.

“I love this song,” I say as the music continues to blast. “Let’s dance.

We dance beside the pool, his hands never leaving my waist. He spends most of his time buried in my neck until he suggests we go somewhere quieter.

My eyes scan the area surrounding us. “Like where?

“I thought you were a daredevil,” he muses, still with his hands on my hips. “That’s how your mom described you.

“Was,” I reiterate. “Past tense. But seriously, we can’t just disappear.

“Stop overthinking things, it’s time to have some fun.

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