"There's a sale next week?" Stephanie asked as if she couldn't believe it. "I'm totally coming back. Cosette you're coming with me."

I watched as Stephanie grabbed a hold of Cosette's arm and pointed to the huge banner in the window of a clothing boutique advertising a sale.

"So…Zach huh?" Sam casually drawled as he walked beside me.

"Why do you keep bringing him up?" I demanded as I stopped walking, crossing my arms over my chest.

"I'm just surprised is all," Sam answered truthfully. He glanced over at our friends who were scattered up and down the walk. Stephanie and Cosette were still by the clothing boutique behind us. Grant and Zach headed into the music store ahead while Rose and Hunter took their time walking over to said music store.

"And somewhat disappointed since I was telling the truth the other week. I am interested in you," he finished, looking back at me with those piercing eyes.

"Okay."

"Look," he let out an exasperated sigh from the cold shoulder I was giving him. "I just wanted to say that I respect you and Zach. I've known Zach for a long time and I know you're a pretty cool girl."

"Okay…" I trailed off suddenly baffled. The confusion was clear on my face. What was his point?

"I just want us to be on good terms. I can tell how you don't think highly of me," he finished as he stared at me, waiting for a reply.

Now I felt bad.

"Sorry," escaped my lips as I stuffed my hands in the pocket of my brother's sweatshirt I was wearing. "I just didn't get a good first impression of you. My bad."

Sam raised his eyebrows at me, surprised that I said complete sentences to him without a hint of annoyance. I smiled at him before I walked past him, heading into the music store.

"This one," Grant muttered, weighing the CD in his left hand. "Or this one," he questioned, weighing the CD in his right hand.

I watched as Hunter shook his head out of exasperation before heading into another CD aisle.

"Just pick one," Zach said tiredly before he glanced away from his friend.

I returned the smile he sent me as I approached the two guys.

"Okay," Grant replied confidently as if he was going to choose one. "But which one? This one," he lifted the CD in his left. "Or this one?" he lifted his right.

"Oh hey Crystal," Grant greeted me, ignoring Zach's glare. Grant turned back to examine the two different CDs in his hands. "Which one should I buy? This one?" he lifted his left hand. "Or this one?" he lifted his right.

"Um…" I laughed as I looked over at Zach and the expression on his face. Zach looked like he wanted to die as he ran his hand through his hair. It was actually kind of cute. I smiled as I stepped towards him.

"He's killing me," Zach muttered to me when I was standing by his side.

We both watched Grant silently as our friend internally debated with himself about which CD to buy. I stifled a laugh before looking up at Zach. He felt my gaze and gazed down at me.

"Zach, which one should I get?"

Zach rolled his eyes.

"I'll get one of our friends to help you make a decision Grant," I spoke up. Grant simply nodded as he read the back of each CD, looking over the different song titles. I glanced up at Zach and motioned him to follow me down the aisle.

"You are a very helpful friend," I commented as we walked down the aisle.

"Don't be so sarcastic. I did try to help him. When I told him to get a certain one, he'd argue and talk about the other one. When I told him to get the other one then, he'd argue."

"Okay fine. I take back my sarcasm," I laughed as I stopped and filed through a rack of CDs.

"Crystal is that you?"

Zach and I both snapped our heads to the male voice and I realized it belonged to Justin, a friend of my brother Chris.

"Oh, uh. Hey Justin," I stuttered at the surprise when he approached us.

"I haven't seen you in a long time. How are you?"

"I'm doing well. Justin, this is my friend Zach," I introduced, remembering my manners. I watched as they greeted each other. "How are you?"
Justin sent me a sincere smile and shrugged, "I've been doing well too. Say hi to Carson and your family for me alright?"

"Of course."

"Alright well I better go before the manager accuses me of not working," Justin shrugged. "It was nice meeting you Zach."

And before Zach or I could get a word in, Justin was gone.

"He's my brother's friend," I vaguely explained to Zach.

"You know a lot of people downtown," he commented, walking beside me down the aisle and into the next.

"Not really," I amended with a shrug, biting my lip.

"First there's Maci back at the diner, then the one little girl at the candy shop, the middle-aged couple we saw coming out of that one store, that Justin guy just now, and not to mention the many adults and a few families coming up to say hi."

Okay, Zach's got a point. But I didn't want to explain to him that most of them were my parent's friends, or my brothers' friends. Or that the girl at the candy shop used to be the kid Chris and I would babysit on weekends.

"Plus they all mentioned the fact that they haven't seen you in a long time. But didn't you tell me you go downtown a lot?"

We walked down another aisle and I found Zach and I at the back of the music store. I stopped in my tracks and turned towards him.

He gave me a puzzled look as he stood before me.

"I used to come down here all the time. I stopped last year. And a lot of those people are my parent's friends, my brothers' friends. Some just know me because I used to come here a lot," I explained matter-of-factly with a shrug as if it were no big deal.

He noticed I was keeping my voice in business mode and wasn't in the mood to share. He searched my face before taking a step closer to me.

"Used to," he repeated, seeing how far he can get me to share.

"Yes, used to," I confirmed with a nod.

He cleared his throat and nodded. He wasn't going to push me further. I simply stared at him though I realized a bit of hurt in his expression.

"Alright," he said evenly with a shrug. "Let's see if Grant is still where we left him," he said over his shoulder as he started to walk away.

I let out sigh. I wasn't ready to tell Zach about my disconnected family or about Chris. But I also didn't want to push Zach away.

"I bet he's still there," I lightly laughed, walking in step beside Zach wanting to clear the tension.

Zach shrugged. I dropped my shoulders in disappointment. He was hurt and I didn't blame him.

"I bet everyone's waiting outside the store for Grant and us," I commented, remembering how Hunter and Rose exiting the store minutes ago. Zach simply nodded. I felt my stomach drop.

I grabbed a hold of his elbow, forcing him to stop walking. I turned him to me and looked at him with a silent apology in my eyes.

"Look. I know you need to trust me first and all but you can't push me away," Zach spoke before I could open my mouth. Yet I was. I wasn't doing it on purpose but I suppose, revealing details and things about myself made me fell vulnerable. And I couldn't stand vulnerability. Not after having months of it after the death of my brother.

I looked down at my brother's sweatshirt and nodded before looking back up into his eyes.

"I know," I whispered. "Want me to show you another one of my favorite places?" I asked weakly, already preparing myself for a cold shoulder comment from Zach but it was worth a try.

Zach's eyes softened as I looked up at him vulnerably.

"How many favorite places do you have?" he asked in a low voice, raising his eyebrows in a bit of a surprise.

"Quite a few," I lightly laughed, relief flooding through me. I slipped my hand in his and tugged him with me. "Let's help Grant first."

"You still didn't make up your mind?" Zach rhetorically asked when we approached the guy.

Grant glanced up at us and glared at Zach. His eyes fell on my hand in Zach's and I was afraid of Grant's teasing remarks but he simply smiled at me.

"Do you still need help?" I offered, returning the kind favor. He didn't make me embarrassed so in return, I was going to help him.

"Yes."

"Just get both of them. Everyone's already waiting outside," Zach said with an exasperated sigh.

"Alright then," Grant shrugged easily before walking over to the register where Justin was working.

Zach and I both watched Grant, amazed at how easy that was.

"I should have just said that once we entered the store," Zach muttered, looking down at me with a look.

"Next time we know what to do," I laughed as we both walked out the store and spotted our friends at a nearby bench.

"Where are we headed to next?" Zach asked once we approached our friends. I let go of his hand to take the empty seat next to Rose.

"Let's go!" Grant announced, coming out of the store and walking down the walkway.

"There's this really cool café," Cosette spoke to all of us as we followed Grant.

"They have an arcade place here?" Sam and Hunter asked at the same time.

Grant halted, took a few steps backward and stared at the arcade store we were passing by. And before Rose, Stephanie, Cosette, and I could do anything we saw the three guys rush in. Figures.

"I guess we're going here first," Rose laughed before stepping into the dark store where arcade sounds greeted you.

"Want to take me to one of your other favorite places?" Zach whispered in my ear as Cosette and Stephanie walked into the arcade store.

"Right now?" I glanced back at the store where our friends were currently lost in.

He took my hand and looked at me expectantly. "Please?"

"What? You don't want to play some arcade games with your friends?" I couldn't help but smile up at him.

"Sounds tempting…" he trailed, glancing back at the store. "But can't miss my opportunity to spend some alone time with you," he said smoothly, looking back at me.

"That was a good one," I complimented him along with an eye roll as we walked past the store.


"Cosette still upset with you?" Zach asked as we both watched shoppers head in and out of the different clothing stores from the bench we settled onto.

"Haven't gotten a chance to talk to her," I answered with a grimace. I wasn't looking forward to the talk either. "Anyways, when's your next soccer game?"

"Um…" Zach thought as he stretched an arm around me, unconsciously pulling me closer to him. I looked up at him, taking in his features. "In two or three days." He looked down at me with a small smile. "Are you coming to watch?"

"Possibly," I teased with a small laugh, causing him to frown at me. "Aw don't frown now," I playfully teased.

He looked away from me with a gruff, "You're such a dork."

"So I've heard. If you're going to call me names, at least be clever about it," I laughed.

"Sam looks at you weird," he randomly stated, his eyes on the people passing by us with shopping bags in hand.

"Oh yea?"

"Yup," Zach confirmed, finally looking down at me. I shrugged my shoulders and looked away. It was the end of that conversation. I decided not to tell him what Sam told me; that he was interested in me. I didn't feel that there was a need to tell Zach. It's not like he had anything to worry about.

"When we get back to campus, want to hang out in my room?" I asked, wanting to spend even more time with the guy I happened to have. I smiled at this thought.

"Let's go to my room," he suggested instead. I looked up at him with a puzzled face. "We'll have the whole room to ourselves," he whispered in my ear and I couldn't help but laugh. I hit him in the shoulders, shaking my head.

"You're such a boy," I stated bitterly; a hormonal teenage boy at that. But I didn't object to his suggestion. He simply laughed at me.


"You must have the heater blasting on in here," I complained as I walked into Zach's room.

"Sorry about that," I heard Zach apologize as he closed the door behind him.

He walked over to the heater, bending down to turn down the knob. I took off my jacket, placing it on Zach's desk chair. I glanced over his desk and my eyes stopped at a black framed photo of his family. Before I could look at the photo carefully, I felt Zach's presence behind me. I turned around and smiled at the charming, brown-eyed boy in front of me.

"Snooping?" he teasingly smiled as he stepped closer to me.

"No," I laughed. "I was admiring your family photo is all."

I looked into his eyes and my stomach twisted in knots at what I saw. My heart beat fast and loud in my chest as his eyes glanced down to my lips and back at me.

"And how do you like it?" he asked, closing the distance between us as he placed his hands on my hips. He pulled me into him.

"Your family looks cute," was what came out of my mouth. After hearing me say that, I wanted to hit myself on the forehead. My mind wasn't thinking straight.

"Cute?" Zach laughed, making me blush. "I guess my younger sister makes our family look cute."

"Or you," I added, looking up into his eyes and feeling his body against mine. He raised his eyebrows.

"Or me?"
"Yeah," I confirmed with a whisper through my lips. His charming face that made all the girls drool over leaned in closer to me.

"I wouldn't like to be considered cute," he whispered, his lips just centimeters away.

"Well, you're charming," I admitted without thinking and suddenly his lips were on mine.

He kissed me slowly, wrapping his arms around my waist. I kissed him back as I wrapped my arms around his neck. The feeling was indescribable; kissing Zach.

He walked me backwards as he continued to kiss me. He broke off the kiss for a quick second as he bent down to lift me up onto his desk so I was on the same level as him.

"And you're gorgeous," he complimented me as he looked at me with a small smile before resuming where we left off.

The kissing stayed innocent and sweet but I couldn't recall when my legs wrapped around his waist; his hands innocently placed on my hips.

"I'm far from gorgeous," I whispered against his lips, pulling away.

"Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder," he replied, looking into my eyes. "So you have no say in this."

"Wow, what a dictatorship."

"Just letting you know the truth," he smiled cheekily, waiting for an argument but then my cell phone rang. We both looked towards my jacket that held my phone.

"I should get that."

"What if I don't want you too?" Zach challenged, straightening up so he had me caged on the desk.

"It's not like you have a say in what I should do," I retorted back, lightly pushing his shoulders so I can move. He didn't bother.

"I thought this was a dictatorship," he responded with a chuckle.

"Yeah, and I'm the dictator," I confirmed with a smile as I pushed him back and hopped off his desk. I reached for my phone that had now gone silent from its ringing.

Zach smoothly wrapped an arm around my waist and pulled me towards him as we landed on his bed.

"Very smooth," I complimented as I draped an arm around his neck as he positioned me on his lap.

"Do you need to return the call?" he questioned as he watched my face scan through my phone.

"Yeah, it was Rose," I said more to me than to Zach as held the phone to my ear as it rang.

"Oh…"Zach mumbled as he preoccupied himself with softly kissing the crook of my neck. Tingles trailed from the crook of my neck to my stomach.

"Hey, uh you called?" I said with some struggle through the phone.

"Yeah, I just wanted to know if you wanted any coffee? All of us are here just hanging out," Rose replied, oblivious to what was happening in my situation.

"Oh no…It's fine," I managed to squeak as Zach trailed kisses up my jaw line.

"Alright, suit yourself. Come join us. Grant is getting annoying," Rose groaned as laughter appeared in the background.

Zach silently chuckled against me, hearing Rose's complaint.

"Yeah, I'll see you later," I absentmindedly said, desperately trying to calm the squeal wanting to escape my throat. I closed my phone and turned over to Zach with a stern look although he looked at me innocently.

"Zach!" I squealed. "You can't just do that!"

"Do what?" he mumbled stupidly as he planted a firm kiss on my lips.

"That," I answered as he pulled away. He simply rolled his eyes at me. And it was then that I silently promised myself I'll give him a taste of his own medicine.

"You're such a pain you know that?" I retorted with my own eye roll before I captured his lips with mine. I pushed him backwards so he fell onto his mattress as I hovered over him.

"I should say the same for you," he replied before capturing my lips with his, bringing my face down to his as I straddled his waist. I wanted to protest but his kissing was slowly making me lose any sort of concentration.

His hands roamed up my thighs until they appeared at the waistline of my jeans; his fingers sneaking their way beneath my top.

"I'm not a pain. You are," I managed to protest, my mouth practically making its own decisions for me.

Zach groaned, finally opening his eyes to look at me.

"Just…don't talk Crystal," he groaned, frustrated I ruined the moment. I pouted, narrowing my eyes at him.

I wanted to yell at him for being such a dictator at that moment but I knew that wouldn't be a smart decision. The guys living in the same hallway would definitely be curious as to why a scream from a girl came from Zach's room.

Zach simply smirked at the frustration written on my face before attempting to continue what we started. His fingers looped through my jean belt loops, pulling me forward until I was close enough for him to capture my lips.

As we continued to kiss, warmth filled my chest and eagerness was attempting to escape from inside me. My anger at him for being such a tease to me was building up and I had a feeling it was going to be quite destructive. For me at least.

I broke the kiss, breathing heavily. He took this opportunity to flip me onto my backside, him hovering over me as he nibbled on the base of my neck.

"Zach…" I whispered breathlessly, my hands on his forearms that held him over me.

"Mmm…" he hummed against my skin, trailing his lips down my jaw line.

I lost further concentration as I kissed his lips, my hands gliding across his shoulders—pulling him closer to me. He took this as an invitation to go further as his hands smoothly found their way under my shirt.

I couldn't help but let out a breathless sigh as I kissed him harder and faster; the lust overcoming me. It was a foreign feeling for the girl with the reputation of a goodie two shoes. But then again that was just a reputation. It wasn't truly me. Ever since the passing of my oldest brother, I became a different person. I needed to find myself again.

Whoever she was…I wasn't quite sure anymore.

It wasn't until Zach pulled his lips away from me that I realized his cell phone was ringing.

"My bad," he said gruffly as he ripped his cell phone out of his pocket. He didn't give it a glance as he threw it to the side of the bed.

"You're not going to get that?" I said disorientated, my mind slowly collecting its thoughts.

"Hell no," he answered before roughly kissing me. But it quickly stopped as his cell rang again…and again. I pulled away and looked annoyingly at the device at the edge of the bed. Zach snatched it up and looked at the caller ID.

He cast me one look before taking the call, "Yeah?"
I crawled over to him with a smirk on my face. Here was my chance.

I began kissing Zach's jaw line, trailing soft little kisses across his face.

"Just…call Hunter," he stated with struggle into the phone, frustration hidden in his voice. He turned his face away from me, sending me a dirty look. I silently laughed in the palm of my hands that only made him turn his back to me as he tried to concentrate on the person talking to him.

I came up from behind Zach, wrapping my arms around his neck.

"Hurry up," I whispered into his ear, causing him to shiver slightly. I planted quick kisses on his cheek, tempting him.

"Grant!" Zach finally blew up into the phone. "I have no idea what you're talking about. Just call Hunter for advice."

Zach turned around so he was facing me, his death glare faltering. I pushed him down onto his bed and was surprised that he held no resistance.

"Why would you think I would know?" he demanded into the phone as I climbed over him. How can he get more attractive when he had his frustrated look on his face?

"Damn it. I'll call you later," he said in a rush right before I closed my mouth on his.

"Why are you such a tease?" he asked gruffly, tearing his mouth away from mine with his eyes burning into me.

"I guess I get it from you," I stated bitterly before his lips moved across mine, his hands on my hips.


Author's Note:

Please please please let me know what is going on in those minds of yours after reading this chapter! I want to know your thoughts.

Hope you enjoyed! You get some actiong between Crystal and Zach. hehe.

Plus, I hope you were able to take note that Crystal both found and lost her sense of self and identity in this chapter. Her previous life and personality before her brother's death, how everyone knew her at the stores. And then her questioning who she really was and how to get that girl back.

Thanks for the reviews and I hope to see more! :)