When All Hope Is Lost

Terran and Matt used to be friends. But then something happened. Something Terran won't even tell her best friend--Matt's twin sister. Now they hate each other. But hey, what are the holidays -and a little mistletoe- for?


1. Christmas Kisses


A mop of auburn curls popped into the room. "Jasey, Mom needs you in the kitchen," my best friends' older brother, Matt, told her. When he caught sight of me, his hazel eyes narrowed dangerously. "Bitch," he spat.

"Fucker," I growled. I swear, Matt is the most annoying, self-involved, ignorant person I've ever known.

Matt left, muttering about how awful I was. I smirked and faced Jasey. "I'd rather be awful than arrogant."

"Oh, come on. He's not that bad," she insisted with a smile. Jasey had a great smile, because it always reached her bright, baby blue eyes. Unfortunately, it was a trait she shared with her brother, but at least it was one of few.

For twins, Jasey and Matt were absolutely nothing alike. Matt was tall, built, had curly redish-brown hair, and -disgustingly- gorgeous hazel eyes. He was popular, and could have any girl he wanted, when he wanted them. And he usually wanted a different one every night. He was a regular playboy.

Jasey, on the other hand, was short, like me, scrawny, had those bright blue eyes, and long, straight blonde hair. She was uncoordinated, one of the top in our class, had never spoken to a single one of Matt's jock friends, and had never kissed or even dated a guy, let alone fucked one.

I wasn't the angel Jasey was or anything, and I've slept with a few of my former boyfriends, but at least I wasn't whore like Matt. I haven't slept through half the schools' population of the opposite sex like he has. And I may be a bitch, but at least I'm not as heartless as Matt.

"Terran. Terran?" Jasey asked, waving her hand in my face. "What are you doing?"

"Thinking about how much I despise that creature you shared a womb with," I snarled.

Jasey laughed. "He's a good guy, Terr, really. Did I tell you how he beat up that stupid basketball player who called me a four-eyed loser?" As if to prove a point, Jasey pushed her Harry Potter-style glasses up the bridge of her nose.

I rolled my eyes and scoffed. "I'm sure there was a selfish reason behind it."

Jasey studied me, a confused look on her face. "Terr...you used to get along great with Matt. What happened?" she asked.

I was glad she wasn't perceptive enough to tell when I tensed at her question. No, that was Matt's thing.

I wringed my hands nervously. "We hit puberty," I lied with a shrug. My reason for hating Matt St. James was probably the only secret I'd ever kept from Jasey in ten years of friendship. And I didn't plan on mouthing off about it now. "And I just hate him to shit," I said flippantly.

Jasey half scoffed, half laughed. "You're so weird," she informed me.

I shrugged. "You love me all the same."

Across the hall, Matt flopped back on his bed, his hands behind his head. He could hear music blasting from Jasey's room, the girls' voices ringing out over what he thought was Kelly Clarkson. He couldn't get a thought in edge wise, so he got up and banged his fist hard against Jasey's door.

Terran Bishop threw the door open and glared at him while Jasey turned down her old school stereo. "What do you want, Jockstrap?"

Matt hid a smirk. "Keep that shit turned down, Skankbox." What? They threw out names like that all the time. It wasn't weird. Really.

"Maybe when you shave that rat's nest off your head, jackass," she snapped sharply.

Matt barely faltered, but Terran was like a hawk and caught it the moment he weakened. Then she latched her claws in and dug. "And while you're at it, you might wanna shave that patchy ass thing you're trying to pass off as stubble. It doesn't suit you. Neither does that flab-"

She probably would've continued, had Matt not cut her off. "Baby, that's all muscle - you should remember." He sent her a conspicuous wink and her face reddened immediately - though in embarrassment or anger he wasn't sure.

"You're such a waste of breathable air," Terran croaked, a cinch in her words that made Matt suddenly uncomfortable.

He scratched the back of his head awkwardly when she refused to meet him with another insult. "Just...hold down the noise a little," he reiterated.

I shut the door back, holding in such large doses of anger that I could've exploded right then and taken the better part of the I-40 with me. I was shaking, furious.

"Woah, Terr, calm down. It really isn't that big of a deal."

But it was a big deal, because Matt's comment may have seemed harmless, but I knew what it really implied and how he had intended to use it on me.

I opened the door again and walked out into the hall. "I can't be here with him!"

I had only barely cooled off by the next morning. Jasey had promised to make Matt drive us to school -which he always did anyway- so I slipped on a pair of my old Doc Martin's and waited in my driveway. When they pulled up, I immediately noticed Matt through the windshield of the twins' pickup. His auburn hair barely brushed the tips of his ears and curled under them just a little. The shorter his hair was, the straighter. His stubble was gone, too.

I blinked a time or two. Matt had taken what I'd said to heart? As I pulled open the door of the cab and scooted in beside Jasey, I laughed. "Couldn't take my insults there, Matty? And here I thought you were so self-assured!" I drew out the 'so' sarcastically.

He leaned forward to see passed Jasey and glared at me. "Fuck you."

"Fuck you!" I hissed, green eyes narrowed.

"Hey! Quit it," Jasey broke in, throwing a hand up in each of our faces. "Geez, how can two people go from being such good friends to biting each other's heads off?"

"Because Terran is a bitch," Matt said at the same time I was saying, "Because Matt is an asshole."

Again, we leaned around Jasey to glare at each other. We hadn't gotten along in a long time, but lately, it seemed to be getting worse, and I think Jasey had noticed.

She crossed her arms defiantly and I propped my feet up on the dashboard. At a stoplight, Matt tried to swat my feet, but I just tipped them away from him and ignored him.

Since it took us nearly half an hour to get to school and I was fidgety as all hell, I turned the radio on. In typical fashion, Matt reached over and turned it back off. He wasn't usually so temperamental. But then, neither was I.

"Come off it, Matt," I complained grouchily and turned it back on.

"I'll come off it when you-" He stopped himself and from the look he sent me, I knew what he'd nearly inferred.

Angrily, I slammed the volume knob and turned it off again.

The three of us sat in silence for a few minutes before Matt slowly reached over and turned the radio back on. I caught his eye in the rearview mirror and nodded my head appreciatively -because "Fuck you very much" probably wouldn't have gone over so well- and he returned it with a stoic expression.

The only thing that got me out of the pickup was the knowledge that it was the final day before Winter break. Then it was only a week before Christmas. My favorite -and least favorite- holiday. I loved presents, I loved snow, I loved Christmas music, I loved my friends and family. I loathed Mistletoe. It's a useless weed people take advantage of to make other people awkwardly kiss in front of everyone one when they least want to.

Those were the exact thoughts running through my head when I was informed -by a good half of the school body- that I was caught under the Mistletoe hanging in the doorway of the front entrance to the school. With Matt. Seriously? That shit isn't supposed to happen in real life.

On impulse, I grabbed his bicep, horrified. I didn't want to kiss him! Certainly not in front of so many people. He must've taken this the wrong way though, because he gripped my other arm, the one not clinging to him fearfully, and pulled me into his muscular chest, pressing his lips to mine with a hard, hungry sort of passion.

There were several audible gasps, many girls whispering in angry, hushed tones. What the hell did they think was gonna happen? Damn.

When Matt's tongue grazed my bottom lip, I yanked my mouth away from his in surprise and sucked in a lungful of air. Embarrassed, I turned and ran, heading for my locker on the second floor of the main building.

Fucking Mistletoe. Fucking awful Mistletoe. It's a stupid tradition.

Jasey squeaked behind me in her stupid Ed Hardy sneakers, heaving as she tried to keep up. "Why do you have to run? Can't you just power walk?" she asked between gasps.

"No, Jasey, I couldn't power walk. Your brother just kissed me in front of the entire school! You're stupid, idiotic, jerk of a brother, whom I can't stand. So no, Jasey. Running was imperative."

Jasey just looked at me for a second before giggling. I looked at her like she'd grown a second fucking head. "What the hell is so funny?"

She shook her head and kept laughing. "I don't know, the whole thing! The Mistletoe...how just your luck is that? And with Matt! Do you hate your life? Because I think it hates you," she laughed.

I wrinkled my nose. "Don't make me call you a bitch," I warned.

"Oh honey, you've called me worse," she giggled.

I would've had a snarky comeback if I hadn't seen Matt loping up behind her right then. So I turned on my heel and kept walking, my pace a little slower this time so Jasey wouldn't fall so far behind.

I reached my locker and pretended to busy myself as Matt came up to us with a smirk. "Embarrassed?"

"Extremely," I admitted.

He leaned back against the locker beside mine and crossed his arms. "Why?"

"Because you tried to slip me tongue," I deadpanned in a deathly quiet voice.

Matt's smirk quickly faded and he paled. "Y-you noticed that?"

"Kinda hard to miss!" I half shrieked, throwing my hands in the air in exasperation.

He cleared his throat and shrugged. "Been a while since I got any. Just got a little carried away." He rolled his shoulders back, straightening up.

I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, sure. You haven't had any recently."

"What? I haven't," he defended almost innocently. Key word: Almost.

"You had a girl over what, like, two nights ago?" Jasey pointed out.

Matt peered down at his little sister and elbowed her conspicuously.

I slammed my locker shut and shoved my books for the first half of the day in my backpack. "Whatever. I'm going to class." I reached over and hugged Jasey, gave Matt an awkward glance, and walked off.

I trudged into first period Psychology & Sociology. I don't know why I'd bothered leaving the twins; I shared this class with not one, but both of them. Jasey came in and sat beside me, Matt behind her, and our friend, Sienna Macabre sat behind me.

"That was some hot and heavy kissin' y'all two were doin'," Sienna winked, looking between me and Matt. She was a skanky, little Southern Belle, who probably got around more than Matt, with her natural D-cups, long, loosely curled, blonde hair, and stormy blue-gray eyes.

"No, it wasn't," I stressed, hiding my face and moaning unhappily into my hands.

"It almost was," she giggled, pushing my shoulder lightly.

"She has a point there," Matt shrugged.

"Don't admit something like that!" I whined. This day was not starting well for me, and I was so mortified I didn't even have the energy to be angry with Matt; it was all focused on keeping the embarrassed blush off my cheeks.

"But it's true; you said so yourself," Jasey pointed out. That innocent little dead girl.

I put my head down on my desk, convinced everyone was now against me.

Walking to my Film 2 class after Psych, I realized that people were sending me a lot of sidelong glances and whispering. I was used to a moderate amount of whispering when I got into public arguments with Matt, but this was far from anything I was accustom to.

I turned a corner and got a, "Stay away from Matty, you little slut." Well that was uncalled for. I didn't sleep around like he did! I was ready to defend myself, but really, why waste the breath? It had been one kiss, because of some stupid Mistletoe, and I had no reason to need to defend myself.

I slid into my seat in Film 2 and waited for Sienna's arrival - she never walked with me because if she did, "Who would I make out with? There are no hotties down that hallway." Her words.

"Hey, doll," Sienna grinned as she clicked into the room, two-inch heels making a ruckus. That Mike Posner song, "Cooler Than Me" was clearly written about her. Who walks so...loudly?

"Hey," I said grimly.

"Why the long face, darlin'?"

"I just got called a slut because that idiot, Matt, kissed me. I shoulda punched her lights out."

"Why didn't you?" she asked, sending a wink at some football player walking in.

"Because I didn't do anything wrong, so I shouldn't have to defend myself."

She pointed a long, manicured nail at me and the ugly, Pepto-Bismol-pink made my stomach gurgle unhappily. "You're right; you shouldn't have to. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't. He slipped you the tongue, and -sadly- it's not like the two of you were playin' tonsil hockey or anythin'."

I gagged. "God no. That's just gross."

"Not the word I'd use," Sienna said, a dreamy look crossing her face. "Delicious, maybe," she laughed.

I rolled my eyes. "Whatever. Freak." I turned back to my desk to pull out my notebook. Because I sit against the wall right behind the doorframe, I had a perfect view of Matt pushing a redhead against the lockers by the door and grinning mischievously at her before pressing his mouth to hers. My notebook slipped from my hand and the spiral clinked loudly against the leg of my desk, making me jump. The hallway had emptied out, so Matt must've heard it too, because when I sat up after retrieving it, he was staring right at me and had stepped away from the redhead.

I spun around in my seat to face Sienna. She must've missed the exchange, because she looked at me and said, "You know, I've never seen Matt look at another girl with the same bedroom eyes he uses on you."

My jaw dropped. She'd definitely missed it. "Sienna. Matt hates me. There are no bedroom eyes."

Sienna looked at me like I was crazy. "Girl, I get around more than Charlie Sheen post-every marriage he's ever had. I know what a pair of bedroom eyes look like."

"Apparently you don't, because I just caught Matt cornering a girl against some lockers out there and making out with her."

Sienna frowned. "I don't believe it."

"Well I just saw it," I shrugged.

"Maybe she was doin' the kissin' and Matt was just bein' nice."

"Sienna, you don't believe that any more than I do." I looked at her pointedly.

"Fine," she gave in after a moment. "But I'm still right about the eyes. That boy wants you."

"He can want till his heart's content, but he ain't gettin' any. Not from me."

"Are you sure?" Sienna winked, grinning knowingly.

"What do you mean 'am I sure'? Of course I am."

"Terran..." Sienna spoke slowly, a disapproving tone in her voice. "Matt told me about-"

"Alright, class, today we'll be taking a closer look at post-Chaplin comedies. Who's seen the show Psych?"

Conversation with Sienna forgotten, my hand shot up at the mention of my favorite show. "Ms. Bishop. Can you tell me what pre-Chaplin-era comedian is homaged to in the opening sequence of one of the earlier seasons?"

I knew exactly what scene Mr. Pope meant. "The scene where the front of a prop house falls around Shawn and Gus is a classic Buster Keaton scene. Though it falls around them, they pass through the open door totally unharmed."


Pope went on to discuss other such modern homages, but Sienna's unfinished comment had finally wormed its way into my head. Matt had told her what? If it was what I thought it was, he was deader than Jasey. I tried to be a good person and give him the benefit of the doubt, but I just wasn't that good a person. Not when it came to Matt St. James.

When the bell rang, I stormed out of the classroom. Matt's class was just up the hall, so I caught up to him quickly enough. I grabbed his backpack and yanked him back, causing him to stumble. He yelped in surprise.

When he saw me, his face immediately tightened in anger. "What the hell, Terran?" he yelled.

"You told Sienna!" I accused.

"I didn't tell her shit!" At least he wasn't pretending not to know what I meant.

"Bullshit!" I shouted, grabbing a fistful of his collar and pulling him down to my level. I stared straight into those hazel eyes of his. "Why the hell would you do that? Not even Jasey knows."

"I told you. I didn't- wait. You never told Jasey?"

"Of course not! Don't you think if I'd said something to her, she would've said something to you?"

Matt blinked, and I could tell he was agreeing with me silently. "Still, I never said anything to Sienna. I wouldn't do that."

"She seemed to think there was something between us, or there could be. When I told her there was no chance, she said you told her….well, she didn't finish, but what else could you have said to make her think that?"

Matt averted his eyes. "I didn't tell her about that."

"Then what was it?"

"It's none of your business," Matt told me, pulling his collar from my grip and stepping back from me.

"I swear, if I find out that you told anybody-"

"You won't," he promised solemnly. "You think I'm this awful guy, like I'm the worst person you've ever met. But I wouldn't do that."

"Really? You wouldn't? Because it doesn't seem like there's much you wouldn't do, Matt. You did some pretty shitty things to me."

Matt's nostrils flared and his hazel eyes blazed. "MeI'm the bad guy here? Fuck you, Terran. You've done a lot worse to me. You don't know the things I've done for you. You have no fucking clue!"

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" I asked, dragging him into a small alcove where the teachers wouldn't see us when the late bell rang in a minute.

"It means that I've kept a whole lot of assholes from trying to use you for sex. Do you know how many of the jerks on the football team want you for your body? And how many I'vestopped from messing with you?"

"Those jerks are your friends!" I screamed, throwing my hands in the air. "And who the hell have you been keeping away from me? Have you considered that maybe some of them actually want to be with me? And that I might be happy with one of them? God, you're such a stubborn pig!"

"I know none of them want to actually be with you! You forget that I know these guys, Terran. None of them are worth your time! Hell, they aren't worth anyone's time."

I scoffed. "Like you're any better? Do us both a favor, Matt, and stay the hell out of my life. Don't look at me, don't talk to me, don't even breathe the same air as me, because you make me sick."

I didn't wait for a response because I wasn't looking for one. I stalked off to third period Forensic Science.

"What has you so pissy?" Jasey asked as I flung the door open.

"Your brother," I said shortly.

"Want to give me more of an explanation?"

"Not really."

"Well, you're going to."

I sighed. "There are parts…. I can't tell you. But what I can tell you is that he's been keeping guys away from me because they're 'not worth my time', he said." I used air quotes and tried to ignore the obvious interest in her eyes. I knew she'd respect me and not push, but I also told her everything, so it must've been killing her not knowing what exactly had caused the fight.

"What do you mean he's been keeping guys away from you?"

"He said that plenty of the football team wanted me, but that wanted me, not to be with me. So he's been, as he said, keeping them away from me."

Jasey shrugged her shoulders and studied her magnifying glass carefully. "I dunno, Terr, I think that's kind of….sweet."

I stared at Jasey in disbelief. "Geez, whose side are you on?"

Jasey sighed and rolled her eyes. "Terr, come on. I'm on yours, but I'm on his, too. He is my twin, after all. Besides, I think the two of you are….well. Sienna and I think the two of you would be kind of….Cute together."

I blinked a few times, rubbed my eyes, tried to make sure it was really Jasey sitting in front of me. "Who's corrupted you?" I asked seriously. "Is Matt paying you to screw with my head? Because that's not funny. And it's also a pretty sucky thing to do to your best friend."

"No, Terr, I'm serious. I've thought that for a while. Back when you two still got along, you always seemed sort of flirty with each other. I don't think you ever got along so well with anyone but me. Not even Sienna."

"Conversation effectively over."

.6 Days till Christmas.

"Dear, can you and your sister go to the store? I'm almost finished wrapping presents, but I'm almost out of wrapping paper, too," Lenora St. James asked her son as he rummaged through the refrigerator for the sandwich he'd made earlier.

"Yeah, Mom, whatever," Matt mumbled.

"Here, ten dollars for a couple rolls of paper and some candy for you two." Mrs. St. James tucked a ten into the pocket of her son's jacket.

"Mom, we're not little kids anymore, ya know."

"You're my kids," she pointed out in that Mom-ish way they all have. "And if you go, I'll even give the two of you a little extra to buy a gift for Terran. That way you won't have you waste all that hard-earned cash you make at work." Matt could tell by the playful frown on her face that she didn't believe his money was at all hard-earned. He begged to differ.

"Yeah, okay," Matt shrugged.

Mrs. St. James handed her son a few more bills and he went to the bottom of the stairs and called up to his sister. The blonde bounced down the stairs. "Yeah, bro?"

"Mom needs us to go to the store."

"Okay," she shrugged, pulling on a hoodie that she'd cast, forgotten, on the railing. "What for?"

"Wrapping paper. She said we could get gifts for Terran, too. Gave me like, another forty or something for that."

"Oooh," Jasey waggled her eyebrows. "Whatcha gonna get her?"

Matt shrugged. "Nothing special. Scarf, maybe."

Jasey frowned at her brother and crossed her arms over her chest. "Don't be so cheap, Matty. If you want her to take a hint, give her you've gotta give her something to notice."

"Maybe I don't want her to take a hint," Matt sighed, snatching his keys from his jacket pocket and stepping out the front door.

"Get the one with the penguins! It's the cutest," Jasey informed her brother.

"Fine, fine."

Matt grabbed the wrapping paper that had penguins in Santa hats riding snowboards and Jasey grabbed his arm, dragging him over to the next aisle where the stocking stuffers were. "You. Get her...this stuffed animal," Jasey shoved a penguin very similar to those on the wrapping paper into her brothers' chest, "and the new Harry Potter movie. She keeps complaining about how she doesn't have it. Oh, and the new All Time Low CD, too! She hasn't had the money to get that, either."

"Why am I spending so much on her?" Matt mumbled.

"Because if you get her things that you know she likes, she'll realize that you actually know what she's interested in."

"But you're telling me what to get," he pointed out.

"She doesn't have to know that," Jasey reasoned.

"I'm pretty sure she'll figure it out. She's not stupid, Jase."

"No, Terran definitely isn't stupid, but she's oblivious. Besides, I'll be getting her the latest Alternative Press magazine and that book. Ya know, the one that comes after Percy Jackson? That way, she'll be too excited by her gifts to realize that you wouldn't know Alex Gaskarth from Tom Felton. Which is a damn shame, by the way."

Matt blinked at his sister. Well, she was right about one thing: he didn't know either of those people.

"It wouldn't hurt to learn about some of her favorite things, ya know," Jasey offered as she picked up The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan.

"It wouldn't kill her to be interested in something more interesting," Matt grumbled. He didn't know why, but he didn't want to talk about Terran right then. It had only been yesterday that the two had fought, but Terran had already gone out of her way to avoid him.

Jasey feigned extreme offense. "How rude! I like those things, too. They're not boring!"

"I listened to one All Time Low song and hated it, I can't make it through a Harry Potter movie without passing out, and I haven't read a book without pictures since middle school," Matt ticked off his fingers.

Jasey's offense was real this time. "You're a travesty of a brother. Really, you are. Twins my ass," Jasey scoffed. Jasey hardly cussed, and that's how Matt knew she was serious.

He laughed. "Whatever. Ever heard of opposites attract?"

"I think that's more opposite personalities, not interests. Because you two are the male and female versions of the same person, I'm convinced. Two halves of a whole, complete each other, all that corny crap."

Matt dug his hand into his pocket to pull out the money. "You are a freak, dear sister. An absolute freak. We are not two halves of a whole or anything else like that shit. Believe me. We're the furthest possible thing." He slid the money to the cashier and snatched up the bag and the two rolls of wrapping paper. Hoped that was enough.

.5 Days till Christmas.

I shoved my hands deep into the pockets of my coat, trying to warm them within the fuax fur-lined pockets. It was fucking cold.

"Jasey, open up!" I yelled, banging my fist on the front door of the St. James home.

"Do you have to be so obnoxiously loud all the time?" Matt grumbled, opening the door.

"Yes." I shoved my way passed him. The moment I touched his chest, warmth radiated through me from every point where my hand touched him. I yanked it away like he'd shocked me. "Where's your sister?" I asked, not looking at him. I'd been avoiding him like the fucking Black Death –because I want to sound smart, and actually call the Plague by its name- since the Mistletoe incident.

"She's upstairs asleep. Everyone is asleep. I was asleep. What are you doing here at-" He glanced over to the cable box under the tv, "seven in the morning? I thought you weren't a morning person."

Now that he mentioned it….I gave Matt a quick once over. His auburn hair was sticking up in all directions and he stood in front of me in a pair of light blue and green, vertically striped boxers and a white t-shirt that he'd clearly thrown on as he came to answer the door, because it was backwards and inside out.

I cleared my throat, a bit embarrassed. "Sorry," I mumbled, annoyed that I had to apologize to this prick.

Matt shifted his weight from one foot to the other, then clapped his hands together. "Well. If you'll excuse me, I'm going back to bed." He started back up the stairs.

"Hey, wait," I called.

He sighed heavily and turned back to me. "Yeah?"

"Do you care if I stay here? My parents are kind of….fighting." I hated to admit it, especially because Matt knew as well as Jasey that my parents were only still together because it was the only way to get me into college in the fall without totally bankrupting, but he'd been sympathetic back when they'd been first threatened divorce –back when we were still friends- so I hoped there was still a little bit of that sympathy in him somewhere.

I was pretty sure I saw his face soften a little. "Yeah, sure."

"Terran? Terran, wake up."

"Eh," I grumbled, and turned over. Let me sleep, dammit.

"Sweetie, if you wake up, I'll give you breakfast." That voice….was Mrs. Lenora? I shot up. Her cooking was the most amazing thing I'd ever tasted.

"I'm awake!" I shouted.

The St. James' laughed. "Honey, you've been knocked out for the last hour. Is there trouble at home again?" Mrs. Lenora asked me sympathetically.

"Yeah," Matt piped up for me. Oddly, I was grateful. Admitting when my parents were having problems wasn't something I liked to do.

"It'll get better, sweetie, I'm sure," Mrs. Lenora smiled at me warmly. I loved that woman like another mother. Maybe more than my own, because she didn't yell at me….at least not as often. She definitely mothered me the way my own mom did, though. The whole St. James family was like that, really. Mr. Jack and Mrs. Lenora were like my second set of parents, through and through, I fought with Matt like he was an older brother, and Jasey was the sister I never had. My house wasn't home, this was.

I blinked away the warm and fuzzy thoughts from my head. Where the hell had all that come from?

"Thanks, Mrs. Lenora," I smiled.

"Why don't you spend break here?" Mr. Jack suggested, taking a sip from his coffee mug.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah!" Jasey jumped up and down, excited. "Do it!"

I laughed. "Okay, okay. You can come with me to get my stuff later."

"Yay!" Jasey cheered.

"Great," Matt mumbled, moving from the living room, where we were all congregated, into the kitchen.

3 Days till Christmas

"What movie do you want to watch?" Jasey asked, peering at the movies in the tall, glass case.

"No chick flicks!" Matt called from the kitchen where he was making popcorn.

"The Notebook!" I yelled so he would hear me.

Matt groaned loudly, and I laughed. "Nah, put in…. Superbad. Or Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist."

"Nick and Nora!" Jasey cheered excitedly.

"What's that?" Matt asked, walking in with a big, blue bowl of popcorn.

"It's kinda a chick flick, but it's not like, annoying and romantic and shit. It's funny. What's on that?" I asked, pointing at the bowl.

"Butter and cheesy stuff."

"Cheesy stuff?"

"Yeah, sure. You know, that powdery stuff you put on popcorn to make it taste better? That stuff."

I rolled my eyes. Matt and I had made a truce to be civil while I stayed at the St. James house, but that didn't mean he wasn't still an idiot.

"That's IT!" Lethario shouted, head-butting the living shit out of Jay Baruchel's character, whose name I could never remember, because I was always too busy laughing at this scene. I loved how he got all worked up and pissed off, then his face just completely crumbled in the next instant, because it hurt so damn bad.

Matt, who had wiggled his arm beneath Jasey so she wouldn't fall over, thumped my shoulder. "Hush, she's still asleep."

"Well, wake her up and rewind! That's her favorite part, too!"

"No, I'm gonna take her up to her room. Can you turn everything off in here?" he asked, standing and carefully sliding one arm under Jasey's legs.

"Yeah," I sighed, hitting the mute button on the remote and walking over to the DVD player to remove it.

When I had the movie back in its rightful place, I headed upstairs. Matt was just putting Jasey down on her bed when I walked into the darkened room. I leaned against the doorjamb and watched as he placed a light kiss on her forehead. Maybe he wasn't so bad….when it came to Jasey.

He straightened up and saw me. "You going to bed, too?" he whispered across the room.

I crossed my arms over my chest and shrugged. "I don't think so; I'm not too tired. It's only what, midnight? What about you?"

He stood in his flannel pajama pants and plain white t-shirt. "Naw, I guess not. Wanna watch another movie?"

I gave him an indecisive look and he sighed. Matt crossed the room and ushered me out. "You can see what all we have –even though I know you already know- and then you can decide. Sound good?"

"Okay," I agreed.

But after glancing through their selection for the second time that night, I wrinkled my nose.

"What, nothing you like?"

"No, there's plenty that I like, just nothing I feel like watching."

Matt sighed, and I could tell he was trying hard not to get frustrated with me. He stepped over beside me and started going through the movies. "Well, if you don't see anything here, then what do you want to do?" he asked.

I turned and my breath caught when I realized how close we were. His chest brushed against my shoulder and my eyes came level with his Adam's apple – which I noticed bobbed up and down when he swallowed. I'd never noticed how much taller than me Matt was, but I idly decided I wasn't surprised, because 5'2 isn't exactly tall.

His hand came up to gently brush some hair away from my face. "W-what are you doing?" I asked, suddenly sounding surprisingly breathless.

His answer was to press his lips to mine in a light, feathery kiss, before pulling away.

Matt looked down at me expectantly, and when I didn't respond, he cleared his throat and started to turn away. Something made me stop him, though. Something made me grab his bicep and turn him back to face me. And that same something pulled me to him until I was initiating the kiss. This kiss wasn't light and feathery, but it did start out soft. Our lips moved in sync and his hands moved so that one cupped my face and the other rested on my hip, playing with the hem of my t-shirt where it met the top of my cotton shorts.

Gradually, the kiss got more intense, and our tongues swiped over each other, trying to see who would submit first. I didn't know when it had happened, but Matt had my back pressed to the wall, and the hand that had been on my waist was now traveling up and down my side slowly, making sure to stay below the line of my bra.

My hands tangled in his hair and one of my legs wrapped around his waist. Matt grunted and hauled me up so both of my legs wrapped around him. I could feel him, pressed flush against me, and I moaned into his mouth. When I did, he kissed me harder, hungrier. I could tell what he wanted, and that's why I pulled away. Thinking I was only pulling away for air, Matt trailed a few kisses down the side of my neck before coming back to my mouth. But I pressed my hand flat against his chest.

"Stop," I whispered.

Matt searched my eyes for something, what I didn't know, but he nodded. "Okay. I'm sorry."

"Don't be," I told him as he set me down. "I just don't want a repeat of last time."


"Please, Matt," I begged him.

He walked over to the couch and sat down, running his hand through his hair. I decided that I liked it short. He looked up at me. "Will you…. can we…. I have something to say about that."

"Okay," I nodded, taking a step closer. It was the middle of the night, we'd just had an amazing make out session, it couldn't hurt to hear the guy out.

"I didn't….I didn't want that night to be the end of it – of us. I thought you'd wake up in the morning, in my arms, and want to be with me. What happened?"

I swallowed hard, my throat dry. Somehow, I wasn't surprised. "I did. Wake up like that, I mean. And I did want to be with you. But I had just lost my virginity to one of my best friends, and my other best friend was in the next room, and I don't know. After a few minutes thinking it over, I freaked out. You're Jasey's brother, for Chrissake. It was just….it was all just a little too much to take at once, I guess."

"You….were my first, too. I wanted you to be the only, Terran. But I thought you had just used me," Matt said quietly, not meeting my eyes. He was embarrassed. That was okay; so was I.

I took a step forward, but the coffee table still stood between us. Suddenly, I felt this tight pain in my chest, and realized that it always felt like there was something separating us. "That wasn't it, Matt, I swear."

"I woke up and you weren't there," he said, looking up at me. "That's why….that's why I was such a dick to you at breakfast that morning. That's why I pretended not to care, and that's why I've been sleeping around the last two years."

"And that's why I've been a bitch to you ever since," I whispered in realization.

"So what now?" he asked slowly, rubbing his hands down his face and stifling a yawn.

"Now, hold me until I fall asleep," I told him impulsively. I tiptoed around the coffee table and slid onto the couch with Matt, positioning myself between the back cushions and Matt's chest. He wrapped his arms around my waist and rested his chin on top of my head. When Matt pressed his lips to my forehead in a small, sweet kiss, I didn't care that Jasey or their parents would find us like this in the morning, I just cared about being with Matt.


"Thank you, Mrs. Lenora, Mr. Jack, for letting me spend the holidays with you," I thanked them again.

"It's no problem, dear. You know we love having you here," Mrs. Lenora smiled.

Matt pulled me into his side. "Yeah, we do," he said, kissing the side of my head.

"Look, Mama, aren't they just so cute?" Jasey teased, leaning against the kitchen counter beside her mom.

I rolled my eyes and snuggled into Matt. No one had been surprised the morning after Nick and Nora, when we were found asleep on the couch together. Mrs. Lenora had just smiled and said, "It's about time." And Mr. Jack had added, "Be safe, you two!" The singsong edge to his voice had reddened Matt's face up and he's groaned at his father. Jasey, in typical Jasey fashion, had jumped for joy and clapped until I had a ringing in my ears.

"Did you three like your gifts?" Mrs. Lenora asked.

There was a chorus of unrehearsed affirmatives. "Oh! Actually, I have one more for you, Terr," Matt said, sliding back from the table.

"What is it?" I blinked in surprise.

He got down in front of me on one knee and my jaw dropped immediately, making him laugh.

He took my hands in his. "Will you, Terran, do me the honor of becoming my girlfriend?" he asked, staring up into my eyes. God, I loved hazel eyes.

I giggled. "Aren't I already?"

"Good answer," he grinned, leaning up and kissing me.

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