Disclaimer: Twilight's not mine, neither are these lyrics.

Okay, I've had this chapter done, I just hadn't gotten around to picking out a chapter title/lyrics. I'm a huge procrastinator. Some more foreshadowing. Action's coming up sooooon. (Oh, and I indulged myself a little in this chapter at the end; I have a thing for college hoops...as in it's my life (bleed Duke blue!). Sorry, it's one of the reasons my updates have been less frequent, that and schoolwork. Don't worry March will be over soon along with the basketball season.) As always, I love reviews!!

I'm doing better than I thought I would
But nothing's ever as good
As when you're on top

-The Wallflowers, "When You're On Top"

Over the next weeks, I grew adjusted to the group. I got used to the exorbitantly high buy-ins for poker games, late nights at clubs, and just overall frivolity. I learned the feeling of dropping two thousand dollars on an afternoon at Barney's followed with a couple hundred that night in drinks at the Rose Bar. I lived the life on the other side of the velvet ropes, where parents looked the other way and admirers were on every corner.

At first, Carlisle and Esme frowned upon my constant absences. They felt distance and detached from my life, which actually wasn't really a change from before. I was just physically gone now rather than just emotionally. However, Jasper charmed both of them to their knees. Esme adores him and asks about him every time he's not there. My dad is equally taken with him. Both Emmett and Jasper play on Trinity's lacrosse team as the star players. Jasper is the captain. After my dad discovered this, he had a nice male bonding session with Jasper about sports, something he missed out on with me. Now, I just drop Jasper's name, and I'm good to go.

The kids at school have begun to regard me with the same sense of admiration; I'm Moses in a Red Sea of kids. We maintain a sense of mystique as each of our peers view us with wonder. My elitism hasn't changed much. I still refuse to speak to anyone I believe isn't worthy of being spoken to. That group of people is just slightly larger now. My condescension remains steady.

I no longer question each action I make. My hyper-analytical nature has toned itself down a bit. And Jasper was right; I can fucking dazzle, cynicism and all. I may not have that charming Southern gentleman quality to me, but I have that charismatic, cocky prick thing that works just as well. Women find my confidence and aloofness alluring, which baffles me.

Also, fuck beginner's luck. Now that I'm not longer a rookie, I can assuredly say that I'm still damn good at poker. Jasper views me as his prized student, not that he's taught me much about poker but rather just about myself. I've won. A lot. I contend Jasper for each pot, both of us usually making quite a bit each game. Landon, on the other hand, has fallen into a slump. His winnings have been completely obliterated. At first, I was afraid he would blame me for his change in luck, but he's mostly just taken it out on himself by pounding shot after shot of Johnnie Walker Black Label.

It was Friday, and like lately, I was excited for whatever plans were for the night. It was something completely unheard of in my past. I never looked forward to anything besides complete isolation. As according to routine, I went home and practiced piano. Around 5:30, I departed from my apartment and hailed a cab to Jasper's. Jasper had a brownstone on 77th Street near Park. I got out of the taxi and walked up the steps of the townhouse knocking on the heavy door. The maid opened the door.

"Mister Jasper is in a meeting. You're welcome to wait in his room," she told me.

I thanked her before heading up to the fourth floor, which was generally designated as Jasper's own floor. I took a seat on the large couch and pulled out my phone. I had a new text message.

Apparently, Jasper's habit had rubbed off onto me.

What r u up 2? Im bored. :(

I smiled to myself and quickly typed out a response.

I'm at J's. Will I be seeing you tonight?

My phone quickly vibrated again.

Of course. ;)

Sometimes, I couldn't even believe I was the same kid. I was flirting. Not just flirting but flirting via text messages. I felt like an actual high school student.

Before I could tuck my phone into my pocket, I saw a hand snatch it from me.

"Do you know what the wonderful thing about Blackberries is, Cullen?"

I looked up to find Jasper smirking at me. I shook my head.

"I can see your entire conversation. Just one fell swoop. And let me tell you: cute, real cute."

I felt the blush slowly creeping up my neck, but I fought it back before grabbing my phone back from him and shoving it away.

"Hey, hey, now. Don't get feisty. I was just commenting on how your little courtship of Bella was adorable."

"Shut up."

"Alright, no need to get defensive. Oh, and sorry about that. I had a meeting with my college counselor—parents' orders."

I nodded in understanding.

"Well, at least, I can get the tool to do most of my shit for me."

"Ah, lucky. My parents believe in good ol' fashioned regular students working. I already sent in an early action app to Yale."

"Oh, but when are we anything close to regular?"

"True that."

"Plus, if my dad thinks that I'm going to write all those essays for Penn myself, he's absolutely insane. If he wants me to go to his alma mater that fucking badly, he can write them himself."

"Oh, boys, please do not tell me you are talking about college?" a booming voice came from the elevator doors.

Emmett stepped out holding a large bottle of what I could only assume was some pricey alcohol.

"Sorry, bro. I just had a meeting with Tom."

"Ah, that man is getting me into Notre Dame."

"Dude, you guys are so fucking lazy. My parents are making me do all my own shit."

"Well, I still have to write like a general outline of what I want in my essays."

"Oh, I don't. I told him to have a field day. That shit's trife, so let's stop talking about it."

"Fine, Em. So what do you have there?"

"This, boys, is a thing of beauty. This is Courvoisier XO, some of the finest Cognac ever."

"Nice. Hold on. I got a few bottles of Blue Label last time I went through JFK."

Jasper left and returned with a large bottle in his hands.

"Landon's gonna flip a shit when he sees this. Blue Label kicks Black Label's fucking ass, and that kid definitely needs a liquid pick-me-up."

Emmett appraised the bottle. None of these alcohol names meant anything to me. I gave Jasper a questioning look.

I thought he didn't drink.

"Calm down, Cullen. I'm not going to drink any. I can however appreciate a good bottle of blended scotch when I see one. I'm just bringing it for the others tonight."

"Speaking of tonight, what are our plans?"

"I think we are going to Alice's."

For pregaming?

"And then what afterwards?"

"Nothing. We're staying at Alice's."

"Like a party?"

Emmett and Jasper laughed.

"Yes, Cullen, like a party."

I didn't know these kids had house parties.

"I know what you're thinking. But we're high school students, too. We like to occasionally actually act like them."

Well, he very damn well did know what I was thinking.

"Oh, I talked with Alice on my way here. She told us to head over at around 8:30 to 9."

"Okay, so what do you guys want to do until then?"

"Go some place."

"Thanks, Emmett. You're so helpful. Go where? Goldbar?"

"No, too girly. I'm not stepping foot there unless there's a chick with us. I know there are tons of hot models there, but I still need like Alice or Rose there to justify us going there."

"Do you want to get drinks or get food?"

"Dude, does it look like we need drinks? We have some of the finest shit in our hands right now. I want food. Let's just go to Lombardi's. I could go for a monster pizza."

"Fair enough. It's a little early to get food. Want to chill out for right now? First games of college basketball season are starting."

"Nice. Is my school playing?"

"It isn't your school yet."

"Shut up. You're just jealous 'cause Penn has shit for a team."

"They go to the tourney occasionally."

"Only since one of the Ivies has to."

"Whatever. You know well enough that Duke is my basketball team anyway."

"Yes, 'cause you're one of those."

"I don't know what that means, Emmett."

"Dukies. Like the Yankees of college basketball."

"You LIKE the Yankees."

"Because I'm from New York. Are you from fucking Durham, North Carolina?"

"I'm from the South."

"Then, you should like fucking Texas, not Duke."

"I do like the Longhorns, but Duke's my team."

"Fuck Duke."

"Fuck you."

I'm pretty sure my mouth was slightly agape at this point. One thing I had not picked up over these past two months was sporting lingo.

As soon as I got a decent grip on baseball, they switch to college basketball?

The two plopped down on the couch next to me, and Jasper turned on his large flatscreen TV. My eyes widened as he scrolled through his hundreds of channels. There were probably at least 50 different sports channels alone.

"I will never understand how people watched sports without HD," Emmett commented.

"Amen to that."

I sat there in silence still. I was still beyond awkward in these situations. Jasper changed the channel.

"Aw yeah, the Irish are playing!"

"They are going to lose."

"Don't say shit like that. It's blasphemy."

"It's true. UConn's going to annihilate them. I anticipate Calhoun and the Huskies doing magnificent things this season."



"Dude, shut the fuck up!"

Emmett punched Jasper. Jasper raised an eyebrow.

"You may be bigger than me, but I can still kick your ass and you know it."

"I'd like to see you try."

At those words, Jasper launched at Emmett. Though Emmett's size came him an obvious advantage, Jasper was quick and agile. Before Emmett or I could see him, he had locked Emmett's arms behind his back and shoved Emmett face down on the ground.

"Bro, let up!"

Jasper smirked and let him go. Emmett shook himself off before taking a seat back on the couch.

"Told you."

"Shut up."