It's been far too long but Chapter 27 is finally here :) I'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has reviewed or added this to their Favs so far and an even bigger thank you to GoodniteGirl23 for being a fabulous beta.

Hope you enjoy - please R&R


Despite Rebecca's apparent determination to go through with it, Amy had a very bad feeling about the whole thing. The further Mike drove away from Edward's house, the more her feeling of foreboding increased but what could she do? It was Rebecca's choice and if she said she was ready, who was Amy to argue? The problem was, Amy wasn't entirely convinced that she was ready. She was so distracted by the worrying thoughts that swirled through her mind that the drive to Tino's house went by in a blur and before she knew it, Mike had unbuckled his seatbelt and was looking at her expectantly.

"You coming or what?" he asked, making Amy realize that she had been sitting there, staring out of the windshield, long after the engine had died.


Amy got out and followed him to the front door but her steps contained none of the enthusiasm Mike was expecting. They had never had the chance to spend the whole night together before so he couldn't understand why she was dragging her feet or why she was so quiet.

"You ok, babe?" he asked as they reached the top of the stairs.

"I'm fine." She nodded in response but when they got to his bedroom door, she pulled back. "Bathroom."

Trying to convince herself that all she needed was a few minutes alone to clear her head, she disappeared down the hall with more speed than she had displayed since they arrived but Mike didn't give it a second thought. His mind was too busy replaying the feeling of being on stage in front of a huge audience and thinking about how the night was going to have a perfect ending to take her answer at anything but face value. So, when she eventually came into the room, he was quite surprised when she shrugged out of his arms as he tried to pull her in for a kiss.

"Ok, what's going on?" he asked, finally realizing that all was not well.

"Nothing." Amy replied before changing her mind and letting her true thoughts come out. "I just can't believe how stupid you boys are sometimes!"

"What did I do?"

"Like you don't know!"

"If I knew I wouldn't be asking, would I?"

"I can't believe you didn't tell me about Edward's stupid plan! He's basically pressuring Rebecca into having sex with him and you're, like, totally helping him!"

"What? No I'm not. I mean, she's his girlfriend. It's what she's supposed to do."

"Supposed to do?"

"Well yeah." Mike continued, unable to see the hole he was digging for himself. "Unless she's like abnormal or something."


"I just mean it's accepted, ok? She's been holding out on him for months and it's not like he's just going to wait around for her forever."

"So what you're saying is that girls are just supposed to have sex. That there's some kind of timetable that you have to stick to and if you don't it means you're abnormal, like some kind of freak, and the guy is just basically wasting his time!"

"That's not what I said. I just meant-" he started to back-peddle but she cut him off.

"That's totally what you meant! So what time limit did you give me? If we didn't start having sex when we did, how long would it have been until you got bored of waiting? How long would it have been until you dumped me?" Amy asked.

"Amy, come on!"

"No, answer the question."

"I'm not going to answer some stupid question about some hypothetical situation that never even became, like, an issue for us."

"So it would have become an issue. Sex really is all guys care about." She replied, turning to leave. "I'm going home."

"Amy, it's after two in the morning."


"So it's too late to be driving you half way across frigging town."

"I'll walk." she said stubbornly.

The last thing he was going to let her do was walk home at this time of night, especially through his neighborhood but he didn't want to convince her to stay by apologizing. As far as he was concerned, he'd done nothing to apologize for. Instead, he said the only thing he could think of that might stop her from leaving. "You can't go home. Your mother thinks you're at a party at Edward's house. If you wake her up she'll want to know what the hell's going on."

"Fine," Amy spat out, knowing that what he said was true even if she didn't like it. "but if you think I'm sleeping in the same bed as you, you can think again."

"You're really that mad at me, you want to sleep on the floor?" Mike asked incredulously as he watched her move over to the bed and throw one of his pillows down.

"No. I'll take the bed because I'm the guest. You can sleep on the floor." she replied before kicking off her shoes and pulling off her jeans in a way she hoped he wouldn't find the least bit sexy. Choosing to sleep in the rest of her clothes she crawled under the blanket and turned away from him.

"I don't believe this."

"Believe it."

Mike watched open mouthed as she scrunched her eyes closed in a poor imitation of sleep. Deciding on a policy of 'don't get mad, get even', Mike did what he felt was only fair and whipped the blanket away, producing a sharp intake of breath from his girlfriend.

"Hey, if you're kicking me out of my own bed, I'm taking the covers, unless you're suddenly in a sharing kind of mood?"

"I'd rather freeze!"



Silence descended on them as Amy hugged the pillow in a vain attempt to keep warm and Mike tossed and turned, trying to find a comfortable position on the carpet.

"I really can't believe this." Mike said after a few minutes, finally accepting that he was in for a restless night. "If I knew that helping Eddie to get laid would mean I wouldn't, I really wouldn't have bothered."

Understandably, his statement didn't help to improve Amy's opinion of her boyfriend at that particular moment in time. "I guess it's what you might call ironic," she replied quietly before turning her back on him even more.

Like Amy, Edward was also lying alone in bed, trying to figure out where it all went wrong. Unlike Amy, his other half wasn't lying a few feet away on the floor. She was long gone. She had fled into the night and he had been too hurt and angry and confused to try and make her stay. He hadn't been paying enough attention in Katimski's for the word 'ironic' to come to mind but he was distinctly aware of the component of weirdness in the situation. He had waited for so long that he had surpassed his own expectations of patience. He had coped with more frustration than he thought possible. Then, finally, the moment had arrived where his ultimate goal was within reach and he had let it go. Deep down he knew he had done the right thing. He was sort of glad that they hadn't had sex even though it was sort of killing him right now. However, the fact that it was him and not her that stopped it from happening made it all seem worse somehow.

To the casual observer, Rebecca was loud and confident. When people saw them making out in the hallway at school they automatically assumed that they were having sex because when she kissed him, she made it seem as if she was reaching ecstasy, which made him want her to reach ecstasy even more. What people didn't know, and Edward had slowly come to understand, was that inside Rebecca wasn't loud and confident at all. She was actually sort of shy and had all of these inhibitions that he hadn't expected but he thought they had been making progress. They had been taking their time, going at her pace and she was starting to relax and get comfortable with all that stuff. She was more than comfortable. She made him hot and she knew it. It seemed like, one day, Rebecca woke up and realized that she had this power over him, that she was the one in control because she was the one who said when, where and how far. So, he reacted in the only way he knew how. It wasn't even a conscious decision, or if it was, it was one his balls made rather than his brain. He started to push for more.

It wasn't the fact that he had been pushing for more that was really worrying him. He was a teenage boy after all. He had hormones he wasn't exactly in control of and, like Mike, he was of the opinion that sex was sort of expected to happen at some point and the sooner the better. What was worrying him was how far things had gotten that night before he realized that Rebecca wasn't having fun. What was worrying him even more was the fact that she didn't say anything. She would have let him, and God did he want to, because at no time was the word no uttered by her, but she wasn't exactly saying yes either.

Things had started off well. At least, he thought they had. They had both been a bit nervous but it didn't take long for his nerves to disappear and he thought it was the same for her. They'd been fooling around for months so he knew what she liked, what turned her on and what kind of breathless moans he could generate because he was quite certain that they were the sexiest sounds she or any girl could ever make. And she had been making those sounds but at some point she had stopped and gone sort of quiet. Worse still, she had stopped everything else as well. When he kissed her, he expected her to kiss him back. When he touched her, he expected her to touch him back but she wasn't doing that either. Rebecca was just sort of lying there with her face set in an expression of grim determination as if she was waiting for him to just do it so she could get it over with. That wasn't how it was supposed to be. When he thought about them having sex, which he had done an awful lot, she wasn't just there. She was, you know, participating.

He had never felt like this before. In truth, he didn't know what to feel. There were too many conflicting emotions. He was so angry with her but he felt guilty too, like it was his fault for pushing things too much. He was worried about her because she was the one who had fled into the night with tears streaming down her face but he felt like he was the one who had been rejected and it hurt more than he thought was possible. Unable to decide which feeling to go with, his brain settled on numb and, like Amy, he eventually fell into a restless sleep.

Angela couldn't remember the last time she spent her Sunday morning feeling hung over. It would not have been so bad if she had gotten a good night's sleep or at least the kind of blissful oblivion too much alcohol usually brought, but she had spent the night tossing and turning, replaying the evening over and over. She had been going over Jordan Catalano's words so much, wondering what exactly they meant and what she should have said or done differently, that she wasn't entirely sure her headache was just alcohol induced. Maybe it was just the result of thinking too hard and too long about something she knew she should really be trying to forget.

Amy had returned home earlier than Angela expected. She had gone straight up to her room rather than join her in the kitchen and had announced her arrival with the music that emanated from her room seconds after the door shut behind her. It wasn't loud enough for Angela to hear the vocals properly but she could hear the melody as it floated through the ceiling. On any other day, Angela would have thought it was pretty. She may even have wished for Amy to turn it up a bit because it was a million times better than the hard rock her daughter seemed to be favoring lately, but today any noise was too much noise. However, one purpose it did serve was to provide a distraction from what was on Angela's mind but Angela didn't think of the distraction as an improvement. Slowly but surely Angela's thoughts about Jordan Catalano were replaced with the memory of her daughter's behavior the night before.

The public display of affection Amy and Mike had provided made her both angry and scared at the same time. She was angry because, as far as she was concerned, there was no way her sixteen year old daughter should be taking part in such a spectacle. She was also scared because she was 99.9% sure that her sixteen year old daughter was actually having underage sex. Her baby, her little girl, was having sex with a boy; and not some nice, sweet, boy next door type either. No, her daughter had chosen a rough looking boy who had a car with back seats and doors. She had chosen a musician who smoked and drank and swore. She had chosen a guitarist who was also still a child but obviously considered himself a man. The problem was, she wasn't sure what she could do to change the situation. She sincerely doubted that telling Amy that she wasn't allowed to have sex would turn her daughter into a paragon of virtue and far as telling her that she wasn't allowed to see Mike any more went, that would only result in them sneaking around even more than they already were. It wasn't so long ago that Amy was denying the fact that Mike was even her boyfriend. She may never have admitted it if her and Damon hadn't caught them in Vertigo. Who knew how long it had been going on for or what else she was keeping from them? However, there was only one thing scarier than believing that her sixteen year old daughter was sexually active and that was the thought of her sixteen year old daughter becoming pregnant.

They were obviously going to have to have a conversation about responsibility and being careful. They were going to have to have the same kind of conversation her mother used to attempt to have with her about Jordan. It was going to be horrible for both of them and for the first time Angela realized how Patty must have felt all those years ago but she reasoned that the sooner she got it over with the better.

She was still trying to decide on the right way to raise her concerns when she pushed Amy's bedroom door open ten minutes later. With all barriers removed, even the sound of softly strummed acoustic guitar was too much for her fragile head to take and she automatically reached for the volume control.

"Mind if I?" she asked almost as an afterthought.

"You might as well turn it off." Amy replied, not moving from where she lay sprawled across her bed.

"No. I like it." Or at least, she did now that it was quieter.

"Really?" Amy asked, lifting her head off her pillow for the first time since Angela entered the room.

"Yeah sure." Angela found her eyes wandering as she struggled to find the right words. They landed on the line of stuffed animals that sat across the top of Amy's wardrobe. They were a reminder of just how young her daughter was but Angela couldn't help wondering when they had been moved from Amy's bed. They were no longer lovingly cuddled but just sat neglected, gathering dust, and would someday get thrown away. If she were in an analytical mood, she would take them as a metaphor for her daughter's innocence but Amy's voice stopped her thoughts from getting that far.

"Edward made it for me. He's been helping Jordan Catalano in his studio, learning how to use the equipment and stuff. Some of them have a girl singing but the tracks where it's just Jordan are the best. I mean, in my humble opinion." Amy wasn't putting much thought into what she was saying. She was too busy wondering when Rebecca was going to call her. Thinking or talking in any kind of detail about Edward and Rebecca's sex life was something she generally tried to avoid because it was just way too weird but she was dying to know what had happened. Besides, thinking about that was better than thinking about what a jerk her boyfriend was. She was still mad at Mike and, after sneaking out of his house at first light, she was also wondering when he was going to call to beg her forgiveness but she wouldn't put it past him to still be snoring. Anyway, with her head wrapped up in other things, she was completely unaware of the effect her words had on her mother.

For Angela, the last person she expected her daughter to be talking about was Jordan, the very person she was trying to stop obsessing over. How typical that it was his music that she could half hear down in her kitchen, how ironic that just minutes ago she was thinking that on a better day she would really rather like to listen to more. When his voice joined the melody, soft but infinitely masculine and unmistakably him now that she could hear it properly, her brain was rendered incompetent of all thought. All she could do was feel the notes as they caressed her soul and made her spine tingle. She couldn't remember the last time live music had such an effect on her, never mind a simple CD.

"Mom…MOM?" Amy asked, bringing Angela out of her daze as the song came to an end. "Was there

something you wanted?"

"What? Oh, urm…never mind." Angela replied as she started to kick start her brain. "I, err..just wanted to say hi."


"Yeah. Hi. So…bye."

"Bye?" Amy asked as she watched Angela back out of the room but her mother made no reply.

It was only when she was back in the kitchen that Angela remembered why she went upstairs in the first place and realized that she hadn't even attempted to have the much needed, very important conversation with Amy. Holding her head in her hands, she groaned in frustration. She seriously needed help.

"Hi. I'm home." Sharon called as she entered her house. She had expected to be met with a mess of empty soda bottles, chip bags and chocolate wrappers but the house was spotless. There was not one thing out of place and the teenage boys who should have been occupying her sofas were missing. As she made her way upstairs, the open door of the guest bedroom proved that it was also vacant and held not a trace of the girls who were supposed to be sleeping in there. Something seemed wrong because teenagers were never that tidy but she couldn't put her finger on it. With growing confusion she continued down the hallway and stopped outside her son's room.

"Eddie?" She called as she knocked softly. "Eddie, are you in there?"

Taking the grunt that she heard from within as an affirmative, she pushed the door open and stepped inside. She caught a quick glimpse of Edward's hair before the duvet was pulled up over his head and she was left talking to his toes.

"Morning Sweetie. Has everyone gone home already?" She asked, only for her question to be met with silence. Her next question of "Did you all have a good time?" was met with the same response.

As the silence continued, Sharon's temper started to rise but she had no suspicion of the real cause of Edward's lack of communication. Instead, she jumped to the only conclusion she could think of.

"Is this about Shane?" She asked. "Edward, I like him, Okay? He's a nice, decent guy and you can give me the silent treatment and sulk all you want but that's not going to change my mind."

There was a slight movement under the duvet but that was the extent of the response she got.

"He asked me out to dinner tomorrow night. I said yes." she tried once more but she might as well have been talking to herself. Giving up, she started to back out of the room. "You know, it wouldn't kill you to at least try to be happy for me about this."

Edward waited until he heard the door click shut behind her before sitting up in bed. With everything that had happened the previous night, he had forgotten all about his mother and Shane but he was glad Sharon had decided to leave rather than pursue the matter. She was obviously mad at him for not acknowledging her but Edward was not ready for that conversation just yet. It was just too weird to have a conversation with Sharon about her love life when his was basically self destructing. When he thought about Rebecca, he was tempted to lie back in bed and avoid the world for as long as possible but his head and his heart ached too much to do that. He wasn't ready for a conversation with Rebecca either really but he knew he needed to see her. He also knew that whatever conversation they had could possibly be their last because they were going to break up, if they hadn't already. He just couldn't see any other way around it.

With a melancholy sigh, he headed towards the bathroom, praying that he would be able to make it out of the house before his mother cornered him.

He thought a shower might make him feel better but as he stood under the hot water his mind didn't focus on the task of getting clean. Instead, his mind went into overdrive, analyzing the night before and trying to find some kind of reason to explain what had happened. He'd never really thought about the way he looked before but he found himself questioning whether there was something wrong with him. Did Rebecca not want to have sex with him because she was repulsed by him? Was the sight of his naked body that hideous to look at? But, trying to appraise himself with a critical eye, he couldn't see anything that was that wrong. Sure, he didn't have huge muscles or a six pack to die for but he wasn't flabby and he wasn't too skinny either. As for the part of him that she seemed so afraid of, well, he didn't think he had any issues there either. It wasn't as if he had really compared himself to other guys before. The only place he ever saw guys naked was in the less than private locker room at the school gym but there was an unspoken rule that no one actually looked too closely at anyone else's junk. He just knew that he'd never felt worried about whether he measured up. Besides, it wasn't as if Rebecca had much previous experience to measure him against.

However, if it wasn't the way he looked that had caused the problem, maybe it was a question of technique. He had been pretty confident that when it came to girls, he knew what he was doing. There might have been a period of trial and error when he first started fooling around with girls but he thought he'd caught on pretty quick as to what worked and what didn't. The womens' magazines his mother left lying around the house had also helped quite a bit. They were a treasure trove of invaluable information compared to the dull, clinical sex ed classes he had had to sit through and, unlike Rebecca, he had had sex before. Not just with one person either. Admittedly, his first time wasn't his greatest performance ever but who's was? Also admittedly, the two girls he'd had sex with weren't exactly classed as girlfriends but neither one had been a one-time only deal. They had both been intimate with him on multiple occasions and they wouldn't have done that if he was no good, right? He wasn't so sure anymore. What if he'd been wrong all along? What if those other girls hadn't been having a good time either and he just hadn't noticed? For all he knew it could have been that way. Maybe he'd just been deluding himself or they'd been better actresses than Rebecca. By the time he had finished his shower, his thoughts were no clearer. He now had self doubt and feelings of inadequacy to add to his confusion. The worst feeling in the world for Edward at that moment was to think that he had no idea at all about girls and that, in the past when he thought he had, he'd been a fool.

He managed to escape the house without bumping into his mother by shouting a quick 'going out' in the direction of the kitchen seconds before pulling the front door closed behind him but the quick get away was the most energetic part of his journey to the restaurant. He dragged his feet all of the way there and was still of two minds as to whether he had made the right decision in wanting to see Rebecca so soon by the time he arrived. When he passed the large windows at the front of the restaurant, he half hoped to see her working inside. It was far from unheard of for her to waitress during the Sunday lunch time rush and it would give him the excuse to turn tail and go back home. Unfortunately, he was out of luck. The lunch time rush was yet to start, most of the tables were still empty and Rebecca was nowhere to be seen. He plodded around the back of the building and still might have changed his mind if it wasn't for the appearance of Grahame Chase struggling with a large pile of empty cardboard boxes.

"Hey, you want to give me hand with this?" Graham asked as he tried but failed to keep the lid of the large dumpster open long enough to throw the trash away.

"Oh sure." Edward replied, stepping forward to hold the offending lid open while thinking that if Graham knew why he was there it would be him rather than the boxes that would be getting thrown inside.

Within seconds the task was finished and they made their way into the building.

"I miss the days when you could just throw things away and not think about them. I mean, recycling is good and all, but it makes you wonder what going to happen to them, you know? Am I going to get the same cardboard back next month, made up into a brand new box or is it destined for bigger and better things? Does this box aspire to greatness or is it happy to just be another piece of food packaging? It really makes you think, doesn't it?" Graham said, but it soon became clear that the Edward was neither listening to nor interested in his musings on the fate of cardboard. "I guess that's just me then. Rebecca's upstairs."

Edward hardly noticed as Graham disappeared through the double doors that led to the restaurant's kitchen. All of his attention was focused on the set of stairs that led up to the apartment. Talking a deep breath, he started to climb up them but he only got halfway before the door at the top opened and Rebecca stepped out.

"Oh…I mean, hey." She said as she looked down at him.

"Hey." Edward replied.

He felt as if his feet were suddenly glued in place so it was a good thing that she started to descend towards him but when she stopped in front of him and silently leaned against the banister it became clear to him that she was out of bravery and if there was going to be any sort of conversation he was the one who would have to speak first. His mouth felt dry and his stomach had that empty, sick sort of feeling but he couldn't just turn around and leave. He wanted to say that he was sorry. He wanted to tell her it was all her fault. He wanted to beg forgiveness, tell her that he could change, be a better boyfriend but he also wanted to tell her that she needed to change, be a better girlfriend. It was hopeless and he knew it. She knew it too.

When he did manage to find his voice, he was surprised to hear that it sounded almost normal rather than the emotion choked croak he was expecting. "So are we supposed to say something? Like official because-"

"You don't have to say anything." Rebecca said.

Her voice cracked slightly on the last word, making him want to pull her into his arms but he couldn't. He wasn't, like technically allowed to do that anymore if she wasn't his girlfriend, right?

"You could have told me. If you didn't want to, you just had to say. You didn't have to, I dunno, pretend or something."

"I wasn't pretending."

"That's what it seems like."

"I wasn't. I just… God. It's just so hard to explain. I don't know what you want me to do. Well, I know what you want me to do but… I mean, I've thought about having sex with you but I…It's just…"

"It's a big deal." Edward provided as she struggled to find the right words.

"Yeah," she nodded sadly. "It is a big deal… it's a big deal for you too but in, like, the opposite way."

"Yeah." he agreed, "I'm sorry."

"Me too."

Edward knew that he should leave, that he should just go but instead he searched for something to say that would delay the inevitable even for a few seconds more. "Well, at least you got to broadened your musical horizons."


"Just… don't forget to listen to new stuff every once in a while. I'm sure you won't."

"Your eyes, like, the way they look just at me when you're on stage. I'm really going to miss that." Rebecca replied as the tears that welled up in her eyes threatened to fall.


"Well I guess this is it so…goodbye."

"Bye." That one small word signaled the end of their relationship but Edward hated the finality of it. It made his heart break just that little bit more and he didn't want that to be the last thing that they ever said to each other. "See you tomorrow."

She didn't say anything else but when he leaned towards her she leaned in as well. The kiss was slow and soft and sad. It was full of heavy hearted remorse and it was the first goodbye kiss that either had shared. When it ended, they both knew that their relationship was officially over. There was nothing more to be said and so Edward retreated the way he had came while Rebecca turned and retreated back to her apartment.

Neither of them noticed the slightly ajar door to the kitchen swing soundlessly closed as they went their separate ways but ten minutes later Graham was still standing the other side of it, trying to decide whether to go to his daughter knowing that he would have nothing to say that could possibly make her feel better, or give her the time and space to deal with the agony of first love's demise. But that was what it was like to raise a girl. As a father he found he was always walking on eggshells. It had been the same when Angela and Danielle has been teenagers. He had never known what to do for the best and was always afraid that somehow, he would be he one to blame. He couldn't help comparing his youngest daughter's conversation to the one he overheard many moons ago when Angela and Jordan Catalano broke up for the first time. Both girls seemed so much like their mothers at times and yet they were so similar. The only conclusion he could come up with was that maybe it was him. He was the only common denominator so maybe it was his personality that they were drawing from when it came to their relationships with boys. As a father he was infinitely happy that his youngest daughter was abstaining from sexual relations but it was obvious that it was not an easy decision for her. Both Patricia and Hallie had both had sex in high school while he had waited nearly a whole year after graduation before taking that step. What if, rather than instilling a strong moral code into his children, he had somehow filled them with an introverted reserve that left their development trailing behind that of their peers?

"Graham, what the hell are you doing?" Hallie asked, bringing him out of his daze.

"Oh, nothing. I mean, I was just taking out some trash." He replied, still distracted by his musings. "I thought this was supposed to get easier."


"Being a parent." he replied, still wondering whether he should go upstairs to his daughter. "I thought I would have learnt from experience, or something, by now."

"Has something happened? Has Rebecca done something I need to worry about?" Hallie asked

"No, nothing happened. It's just-"

"Good because I can't deal with teenage drama at the moment." Hallie interrupted before he could explain. "The party of six have just arrived at table four and we've got a party of ten arriving in half an hour. You really need to make a start before our guests start complaining that they're starving to death."

"Yeah. In a minute." Graham replied.

"Graham! We haven't got time for this right now."

"But-" Graham started only to be interrupted again.

"Sweetheart, we're fully booked." Hallie replied, "I need you to cook. It's why I love you."

She paused long enough to give him a quick kiss on his cheek and then she was gone back to restaurant. Graham sighed as he turned back to his stove. Within seconds, the orders started to arrive and, for the time being, Graham was forced to put his thoughts on hold.

When Angela lazed around the house on a Sunday morning, it was usually in a pair of old sweats and a well worn t-shirt of Damon's with her hair scraped back and no makeup. Rayanne, however, clearly took a different approach to lazing around because when she opened her front door she looked just as glamorous in her silk, kimono sleeved robe as she would in a cocktail dress. As soon as she saw Angela a large grin spread across her face.

"Rickie, Angelika's here." Rayanne exclaimed to the room behind her in such a way as to make Angela expect to see Rickie sitting on the couch.

Instead, his voice came from the direction of Rayanne's coffee table, and Angela realized that he was just on speaker phone.

"Hey Rickie." Angela responded to his greeting. "How are you?"

"Oh, I'm great. John and I have decided to bite the bullet and move in together." Rickie replied, referring to his boyfriend of two years. "The property search started yesterday and you are officially invited to visit once we've found a place."

"Oh Rickie, that's fantastic."

"Well, the leases on both our apartments are nearly up and it just feels right, you know?"

"So are you thinking city pad or suburban living?"

"Well the city's getting so expensive these days but we're not sure if we'd miss the hustle and bustle so we're kind of keeping an open mind at the moment."

"Blah, blah, blah. Who cares?" Rayanne interrupted. "No offence Rickie, but Angela did not come over here to talk about the Portland property market."

"Hey, I care! I-" Angela replied only for Rickie to cut her short.

"No, Rayanne's right. You did not come over here expecting to hear about square footage and the importance of a second bedroom. So what gives?"

"Where's Sharon? Did you guys have fun last night"

"She went home, like two hours ago. Yes we had a blast, ate ice cream and talked boys until the wee hours. I predict that Shane and her are going to be sickeningly loved up for the foreseeable future but don't try to change the subject." Rayanne answered. "You never visit on a Sunday morning unless you have a major crisis."

"It's nothing, really." Angela's reply was met with silence from Rickie and expectant look from Rayanne. Bowing under the pressure, Angela gave in and continued. "I was just thinking of cutting my hair. Short, really short."

"What? Why?" Rayanne and Rickie asked almost simultaneously.

"Does there have to be a reason?" Angela said, avoiding the answer. "Maybe I'm sick of just wearing my hair exactly like this."

"Excuse me," Rayanne replied indignantly. "You haven't always worn your hair exactly like that. I've given you more hairstyles than I can count and they were all fantastic so you should trust me when I say that really short hair will not suit you."

"It won't?"

"No not at all. If you don't believe me, ask Rickie for the male perspective."

"I don't know. I mean I like it how it is but if you want to cut it, cut it." Rickie said, without waiting to be asked.

"No. I refuse. I will not do it." Rayanne shook her head.

"I could go to a different hair dresser."

"You wouldn't dare! Did you not learn anything from that bad perm in 2002?"

"It wasn't that bad." Angela protested.

"You turned into a poodle!"

"She has a point." Rickie said. "There were frizz issues."

"But this is completely different. I just think short hair-"

"No," Rayanne interrupted once again. "Rickie, talk some sense into her while I go get dressed."

Angela watched Rayanne flounce out of the room before flopping onto the sofa. By leaning her head back and closing her eyes, it was easier to pretend that Rickie really was in the room rather than sitting in his own house miles away.

"So what's brought on this sudden urge to show your ears more?" he asked.

"It's stupid. I mean when I came up with a plan, it kind of made sense in my head but when I say it out load it's going to sound so ridiculous."

"Ok, now I'm intrigued."

"I just thought, I mean, I read somewhere this theory about men and how they like long hair."

"Ooh, I think I read that article too. It was in last month's Cosmo, right? If you read the same one, you'll know that they also like you to wear red."

"Believe me, I know they like you to wear red." she replied, thinking of the way Jordan had been looking at her the night before.

"Wait a minute, if you believe this thing about men and long hair why do you want to go short? That makes like no sense."

"I told you it was ridiculous. You see, I'm sort of having a problem with a guy and -"


"It doesn't matter who."

"Would his initials happen to be J.C. by any chance?"

"Rickie, it really doesn't matter who the guy is." Angela replied in such as way as to confirm his suspicions that she was talking about Jordan Catalano. "The point is, I just think that maybe I wouldn't have such a problem if I had short hair because maybe he wouldn't be attracted to me then, or something."

"Yeah, that does sound pretty ridiculous."

"I know! The fact that I even came up with a plan like that and was 100% prepared to go through with it shows how completely insane he is making me. He's like all I can think about because, without wanting to sound big headed, whenever I see him he kind of makes me feel like I am all he's thinking about and it's starting to take over my entire life! Please tell me I wasn't this pathetic in high school."

"Sorry but that I cannot do and, no offence, but cutting your hair is definitely not the solution."

"Then what is? Whenever we're anywhere near each other he just looks at me with his big, stupid, gorgeous eyes and I know that he wants me and I…I…" she trailed off, unable to admit her true feelings to even Rickie. It didn't matter though, he was able to finish the sentence for her.

"You want him too."

Rather than try to make any denial, Angela took a deep breath and nodded her head even though she knew Rickie couldn't see her. "It's taking over my life Rickie. I mean, Amy is having sex with her boyfriend and when I tried to talk to her about it this morning, I couldn't because she was playing this stupid CD that Edward gave her that had Jordan's music on it. I heard his voice and my brain just turned to mush. So of course, when she gets pregnant Damon's going to blame me because I was too busy obsessing about my high school boyfriend to talk about contraceptives with our sixteen year old daughter. This has got to stop. It just has to."

"Normally, I'd say avoidance is not a solution but maybe you should just stay away from him. Out of sight out of mind." Rickie suggested.

"I've tried avoidance." Angela replied. "It doesn't work. I just end up bumping into him at the college or somewhere else."

"Then there's only one thing for it, brutal honesty."

"Brutal honesty?"


"You want me to be brutally honest with Jordan Catalano?"

"Yes. You go to see him and you tell him that although you have feelings and he has feelings that you're not going to act on them and that basically nothing is ever going to happen between you."


"Well, that is what you want, right, for nothing to happen?"

"I think so…I mean yes, yes of course that's what I want. I want nothing to happen. I just don't see how going to his apartment to tell him that is going to help."

"So don't go to his apartment. You could go to his store. It will be, like, neutral territory, sort of. You can just get everything off your chest, tell him how it is and you'll feel so much better about the whole thing."

"I don't know…" Angela replied, clearly unconvinced of the merits of Rickie's advice.

"Well, you've got to do something." Rayanne said, as she came back into the room "I mean think of Rickie and me. How much more can we take? Just don't go to see him today. Hung over is not a good look for you."

"Plus you need time to plan exactly what you're going to say." Rickie added.

"Yeah, you can't go and just blather like an idiot This is a situation that calls for clear, concise communication." Rayanne agreed. "Maybe you should write it down so you don't, like, screw it up."

"Or you could just write him a-" Rickie started but was swiftly interrupted.

"For the love of God, Rickie, please do not suggest that I write Jordan Catalano a letter!"

Jordan normally liked Sunday mornings in the store. He opened a little later than the rest of the week but tended to arrive there at about the same time as usual. It gave him a chance to tidy up a little and actually appreciate some of the instruments that lined the walls before customers started to arrive. Lately, the studio in the loft had started bringing in regular customers so Sunday mornings were becoming his only chance to appreciate that too. He was relieved that it was starting to bring in an income but he already missed the days when he had the place practically to himself.

Today was different. He arrived just minutes before opening and headed straight for the coffee maker once he was inside. He then spent the next twenty minutes silently leaning against the counter while he deliberated the wisdom of removing his shades. In the end he decided that looking like an idiot for wearing them inside was worth it because he was pretty sure that if any more light entered his eyes, his brain would implode. If he had gone straight home after Pike Street, he would have been fine. Okay, maybe not fine, but he'd be able to function somewhat normally. Unfortunately, he had been persuaded that going to Vertigo was a good idea and, once there, the drinks just kept coming. According to Jenny, doing shots was the best way of cheering him up, but he couldn't blame her entirely for his current state. He had continued to drink long after she had left. The guy she was supposed to meet at Pike Street had turned up and spouted some bullshit excuse for standing her up. Jordan thought he looked like a douche bag and didn't hold back on telling Jenny so. She had just laughed and said he was probably right but that wasn't going to stop her from getting her kicks while she was still young enough to enjoy them. The last thing he remembered was her promising to make the douche bag work for it before she left with him and after that Jordan's memory got a bit hazy.

He didn't blame her for ditching him. Shane would probably have a cow if he knew what his little sister was getting up to but Jordan had just been too envious to adopt the big brother routine on his behalf. Not so long ago, things were that simple for him. If he liked a girl, and she liked him, fun was had. Now, he liked a girl and he was pretty sure that she liked him but he was downright miserable about it. Fun was definitely not being had and that sucked big time but he didn't know what he could do about it. Everything he thought of to help him forget about Angela had backfired and left him feeling more pathetic. Worse still, the more he tried not to think about her, the more she seemed to be on his mind. Even the customers who wandered in that morning weren't enough to help him think of other things but it wasn't until he accidentally short changed one of them that he thought of one more last ditch attempt to get it out of his system. He reached for a battered looking note pad and for the next hour his pen flew fluidly over the pages as his thoughts and feelings turned into chorus and verse. He tried not to think too deeply about the words as they poured out of him, he just let his subconscious take over until the words stopped coming. All in all, he had nearly filled four pages by the time he stopped and had the beginnings of what could have been five or six different songs. However, when he read what he had written, Jordan realized they were songs which would never see the light of day. The last review about his music he had bothered to read said that his lyrics had a raw, simplistic honesty and emotional depth that spoke volumes. Jordan couldn't remember the name of the reviewer but if they heard his latest attempts they'd be laughing their ass off. The majority of the lines he had written were woefully pitiful, sounding like something a lovesick, completely whipped teenager would come up with. The rest had a more mature content but sounded way cruder than they seemed when he first wrote them. Singing lyrics that suggestive would definitely not have the desired effect when it came to getting Angela out of his head and he doubted she would appreciate being his muse if this was the result.

With a sigh, he shoved the book back under the counter and made an executive decision. He decided that he was going to do what had become an increasingly rare occurrence over the last few months. He was going to take a day off and spend some quality time with the one girl who he'd always been able to rely on to never mess with his head. Red's spark plugs could do with a clean and she was long overdue for an oil change.

The decision cheered him up for a short time. As always, working on his car seemed to calm him. He may not feel comfortable with complicated pieces of prose or a math equation but show him an engine and he just got it. He saw the different parts and he understood how they fit together. It was easy for him but as he tackled the spark plugs the mundane nature of the task left room for his mind to wander and inevitably it soon came back to Angela. He found himself brooding again which made him annoyed once more but he was out of solutions. Part of him wished that he had never seen Angela at all. It seemed as if things would be so much simpler if they had continued living their lives unaware of each other's presence in Three Rivers but at the same time it was impossible to separate her from everything that had happened since he discovered he had a son. If they had somehow not met on the night he first dropped the kids off at her father's restaurant, his life would be a whole lot simpler but in all likelihood it would have been minus Edward. He just wished he knew for sure what was going on in Angela's head. Was she thinking about him just as much as he was thinking about her or was he deluding himself? For all he knew, she was sitting at home, playing the good wife and not thinking of him at all. The thought depressed him, not least because it reminded him that she was someone's wife. Not that he actually ever saw her with her husband. He'd only ever seen them together a couple of times, the last occasion was at Sharon's barbecue, but he couldn't decide whether that was a good thing or not. Would he be this obsessed if only ever saw them as a couple or would it be worse?

He was still trying to decide when Edward arrived, looking just as forlorn as his father but they were both too caught up in their own problems to recognize the mutual unrest they felt.



"You weren't at the store."

"No," Jordan replied, "but it's not like I can get fired for closing up early."

"Can I have one of those?" Edward asked unexpectedly as Jordan leaned back against Red and lit a cigarette.

"Since when do you smoke?" Jordan asked but the teenager only shrugged in response. Normally Jordan wouldn't think twice about handing one over but he found himself holding back. "Sharon would kill me if she knew I let you have one of these, you too."

"She's already mad at me."

"Why, what did you do?"

"Nothing," Edward replied "She's pissed off because she thinks I'm pissed off with her."

"Are you?"

Edward thought for a minute before answering. "No not really. Shane's alright, I suppose, so if she wants to date him, or whatever, I guess it's okay."

"Sharon and Shane, when did that happen?"

"Last night."

"Oh." Jordan replied.

He supposed he should have seen it coming but he'd been oblivious to the development. It was a sign of how wrapped up in his own head he was to not notice what was going on around him. It was also a sign of how completely his life was becoming tangled with a group of women he thought had long ago been consigned to memories. It then occurred to him that the majority of what he knew about those women was based on those memories. He knew very little about their lives in the years he was absent . In fact, Edward probably knew more about them and their lives than he did. Curiosity started to build as he thought of the many questions he could ask and it was no surprise that they centered around one person. He wondered whether Angela and Damon ever fought or argued. Was it a happy marriage or were they the kind of couple who were always on the verge of divorce but never actually went through with it? Why hadn't Damon been at Pike Street the previous night? Was it because he trusted his wife implicitly and didn't want to spoil what was essentially a girls night out or was it because they didn't spend much time together or enjoy each other's company anymore? But if he asked any of those questions, Edward would be just as curious as to the reason and would ask some questions of him own which Jordan knew he wouldn't want to answer. Besides, it was unfair to interrogate the boy when he seemed so down.

"Don't worry. Shane'll treat her good." Jordan said, assuming that was the reason for Edward's glum expression. "And if he doesn't, I'll help you kick his ass."

"Thanks." Edward replied but there was no trace of the smile Jordan had been trying to produce. "So, anyway…Rebecca and I…we sort of broke up."

Jordan instantly understood the reason for his son's mood but was a loss for what to say. He was still getting used to the idea of giving fatherly advice so to buy himself some time he said the first thing that popped into his head. "That blows."

"Yeah, it does." Edward agreed.

"So, what happened?"

Edward squirmed inside as he wondered how to answer that. "Well, we've been going out for a while now and, I really tried to do the take it slow and be patient thing but I guess I screwed up, pushed things too far, or whatever."

"She tell you to back off?" Jordan guessed incorrectly.

"No, she didn't say anything, which is sort of worse." Edward replied. As a rule, the idea of talking about sex with a parent was something feared and abhorred by most teenagers but, although he was viewing Jordan more and more as his father, Edward felt like he could talk about that kind of stuff to him. Jordan wasn't a regular dad. He was sort of cooler, easier going and Edward felt pretty sure than none of what he said would be repeated to Sharon. "I mean, we nearly did it because she didn't want to admit that she's, like, scared to have sex or something. She said she wanted to and she started out acting like she wanted to but then …I mean, she didn't tell me to stop or anything like that but it was just…all wrong."

"So you didn't sleep with her?"

"No…I feel so stupid, you know? I should have just had sex with her. It would have been so simple…but if I did, knowing that she wasn't really into it even though she didn't say anything, then I think it would make me like a really low person and she'd just hate me for a different reason."

"I'm sure she doesn't hate you." Jordan replied. "It sounds like you did the right thing by, you know, not doing it."

"I just…I don't get it. I mean we agreed that last night was the night. We had the house to ourselves and it's not like I went straight for it. We did the stuff we've been doing for a while first… you know…" Edward trailed off, suddenly realizing that while he wanted to talk with Jordan a second by second description of what actually happened would be far to embarrassing.

Luckily, Jordan was thinking along the same lines. "Trust me, I get the gist."

"The thing is, she seemed like she was having a good time…like a really good time…and I don't know when things changed. I mean, how can you have too much of a good thing, you know? It just makes you think, was she really having a good time at the start or was the whole thing, like, some big act. What if she was just faking all of it?"

"I doubt she was faking it."

"But how do you know?"

"Because it sounds like she's sort of innocent. How can she fake it if she hasn't got that much experience?"

Edward was momentarily reassured but what Jordan said could be turned around and applied to him just as easily. He wasn't a virgin but he wasn't exactly Casanova either. For all he knew, they could all have been faking it and he just didn't know any different.

"But how do I tell? Have you ever been with someone who was faking it?"

"Not as far as I know." Jordan replied, thinking back over past conquests and trying not to over analyze them.

"Why can't girls come with a manual? There should be a 'how to' guide or something for this kind of stuff."

"Female Orgasm for Dummies." Jordan suggested. "I know I'd buy it."

Finally, a small smile graced Edward's lips but only for a few seconds. In a last attempt to make him feel better, Jordan thought back to his teenage years when he was in a not too dissimilar situation.

"If you want my advice, I'd say to stay friends. I mean, there's no guarantee but sometimes it's just a matter of timing. The time might not be right now but that doesn't mean it's never going to happen. Maybe you'll both meet new people, maybe you won't but at least you can leave it up to fate, or whatever, to decide. You don't have to cut your losses right away."

Edward nodded, taking in what he had said. As for Jordan, he thought it was advice he should listen to himself. He may not be able to be with Angela now but who knew what he future held. Friends wasn't great but it was a damn sight better than nothing. They lapsed into silence as they each though about their respective girls and Jordan soon realized that they were both in danger of lapsing into brooding once again, which he was determined not to do.

"So, you want to learn how to do an oil change?" He asked and with a half shrug, half nod, Edward assented.

Monday morning, the time of the week that every teenager dreads, had finally arrived and as Amy stepped off the school bus and made her way into Liberty High she felt even less enthusiastic about the start of the week than normal. Mike had called her the previous day but it became apparent very quickly that it was not to apologize. He didn't even acknowledge the argument they had on Saturday night. He just started talking as if everything was okay with them when, as far as Amy was concerned, it clearly wasn't. The conversation ended when she hung up on him and she had studiously ignored him when he tried to call back. The fact that he had only attempted to contact her twice was also a bone of contention. If he was that bothered, surely he would have put a bit more effort into making up? Amy definitely thought so which was why she had left the house early to get the school bus rather than waiting to see if he was going to pick her up.

As she trudged towards the entrance, she passed his aging Ford in its usual spot but Mike wasn't in it. Its presence didn't provide any clue as to whether he had stopped by her house that morning either. They always arrived before the bus when he picked her up. Her scowl deepened when she finally spotted him standing under the bleachers, smoking a cigarette and looking to her as if everything was fine with the world. Rather than go over to him, she continued her journey inside the school where she found Edward alone by her locker.

"I'm going to say this only once Cherski, so pay attention." Amy said, as soon as she reached him. "You are an absolute idiot."

"Yeah, I know."

His agreement took her aback for a second but her bad mood soon canceled out any surprise and she continued speaking as she threw books into her locker. "Next time you want some advice on girls, try asking me first. You know, an actual girl, because then you might get some advice which is actually good instead of turning into some sex starved jerk and behaving like a pig."

"Amy, I-"

"Because sex isn't something that you're, like, entitled to, you know? Relationships have to be about so much more than that. You can't just expect it to be handed to you on a plate whenever you want."

"Amy, I know!" Edward finally managed to interrupt. "I get it, okay? I screwed up."

"Yeah, you sort of did." Amy agreed, but her expression softened as she saw how miserable he looked about it. "I talked to Rebecca last night, she said you guys broke up."

"Yeah. But it's probably for the best, or whatever." Edward replied forlornly. "I guess we're just going to be, like, friends now, or something."

As he leaned back against the lockers and closed his eyes, Amy saw Rebecca over his shoulder as she pushed through the double doors at the other end of the corridor. Rebecca paused slightly as if undecided about whether she should approach the pair or not but, after a small smile of encouragement from Amy, her feet started moving and within seconds she was in front of them.

"Hey." Rebecca said nervously in greeting causing Edward's eyes to snap open.

"Hey." He replied but then the conversation ground to a halt and they were left shuffling their feet as they looked anywhere but at each other.

Amy rolled her eyes before rescuing them from their social awkwardness. "So, have you guys seen Justin Hardgrove this morning? At some point over the weekend, he got both eyebrows pierced."

"I know. Half the football team was crowded around him like inspecting them or something." Edward said.

"Why?" Rebecca asked. "It's not like they're an actual personality."

"I bet $20 he'll have to take them out at the next practice too. When Ryan Thompson got his done last year, coach said it was a health and safety breach and that was only one eyebrow."

Having gotten them talking, Amy tuned out. The football coach's opinion on body piercing wasn't really something that interested her. She was much more interested in wondering when Mike was going to come inside and whether he would try to talk to her or not. Not that she wanted to talk to him, she reminded herself. Which is why, when she finally saw him walking down the corridor towards her, she turned back to her friends and interrupted their conversation.

"I'm going hit the girl's room before the bell goes, you coming, Rebecca?"

"Yeah sure." She agreed and before she knew it, she was being pulled away.

By the time Mike came to a stop by Edward, the girls were long gone.

"I thought you and Rebecca broke up?"

"We did."

"Then why is Rebecca speaking to you when Amy, who as far as I know is still my girlfriend, won't speak to me at all?"

"What do you mean, as far as you know?"

"When a girl won't even talk you, it kind of makes you think she's about to dump your ass." Mike replied. "And if she does, I'm totally blaming you."

"Oh no, don't try pinning that on me. If you opened your mouth before putting your brain in gear, you've only got yourself to blame."

"I don't think that what I said was that bad. I mean, she sort of twisted my words so we ended up arguing about something that never even happened. She's being completely ridiculous. I mean, I slept on a floor for her. What more does she want?"

"Dude, if I knew the answer to that, I wouldn't be single right now." Edward replied grimly. A manual for how to deal with girls was looking more and more appealing but any further contemplation on the issue was halted by the bell.

Angela parked her car across the street from Back Alley Music and wondered for the billionth time whether she was doing the right thing. The previous day, when she had been sitting on Rayanne's couch, Rickie had managed to convince her that talking to Jordan Catalano was the right thing to do and Rayanne, although not quite as constructive when it came to what she should actually say, had seemed to agree. By the time she had left and returned home, Angela had a plan of action and the determination to carry it through. However, after another sleepless night, she wasn't so sure that Rickie's advice was as good as she previously thought. Her confidence had started to waiver as soon as she started getting ready to face the day and was hit with the conundrum of what to wear. What outfit could possibly be suitable for both work and the kind of conversation she wanted to have with Jordan? Needless to say, she avoided anything that even approached red on the color spectrum.

According to Rickie's plan, she was supposed to go to see Jordan during her lunch hour. Apparently, it was the perfect time because it would limit the amount of time she had to waffle. She would have to say what she wanted to say and then leave again. When it came to actually leaving her post behind the receptionist desk at the appointed hour, she had somehow allowed herself to procrastinate and before she knew it, lunch became a hurried sandwich eaten over her keyboard as she tried to type and not drop crumbs at the same time. Rather than having it over and done with, she was left with an afternoon of thinking about it, revising and rewording her speech while her stomach churned. After her shift finished, she got in her car and drove five blocks before she realized that she was on auto pilot and following her normal route home. It took nearly all of the will power she possessed to turn the car around and head downtown. The rest was used in getting out of the car and walking towards the shop and him. With one last deep breath, she pushed the door open and stepped inside.

When the bell over the door rang, Jordan hoped for a potential customer with plenty of money to burn to brighten up what was an extremely slow day. So, when he looked towards the door he was more than a little surprised to see Angela Chase. She was the last person he expected to see and he couldn't help his eyes travel up and down her body as she walked towards him with a purposeful stride. She might not be wearing a red dress like the one she wore on Saturday night but to him she looked just as good in her tailored slacks and crisp white shirt. No, she looked better. She looked classy. Each time he saw her, he wanted her more but he held back and it was driving him insane. He had tried to tell himself that not holding back would just cause him to make a fool out of himself. He feared that not only would she reject him, she would also be driven away. As much as it killed him to be around her knowing that she was committed to someone else, not seeing her all would be even worse. He felt pathetic for believing that but he knew it was true.

Now, here she was, in his store for the first time and with a determined look on her face. He thought the worst. He thought that she was here to tell him goodbye, that they were getting too close, that this thing between them was slowly destroying them, that it was too hard to be just friends and, because she couldn't be more than a friend to him, they couldn't see each other anymore.

He was right. That was her intention and she was doing her best to remember her plan but for each step she took towards him her resolution wavered, making her angry at herself and angry at him. She stopped in front of him and everything she had planned to say was forgotten. Instead, she reached out and grabbed his t-shirt, screwing the material into balls in her hands.

"I hate you! I can't sleep because of you!" She shouted. "Do you have any idea what you're doing to me, to my life? Why did you have to come back? Why? What gives you the right to make me feel like this?"

Each question mark was emphasized by her pushing her fists against his chest. The soft punches illustrated her anger and frustration but it wouldn't have mattered if she had been putting all of her force behind them. He wouldn't have felt them. How could he possibly feel any pain when she was saying that she wanted him just as much as he wanted her? He didn't know what to say so he did the only thing he could and pulled her closer to him, cutting off her words with a kiss.

When his lips came crashing down on hers, it wasn't gentle or sweet. It was the kind of kiss that would make her lips feel swollen afterward. It was urgent and forceful, demanding a response. The response she gave was just as forceful. She poured all of her anger and frustration into kissing him back until they were replaced with a burning passion. She didn't just want him. She needed him and she couldn't deny it any longer. Jordan's lips moved, trailing kisses along her jaw line and down her neck, while his hands explored her body, eliciting a low moan of pleasure. The sound pulled his lips back to hers, crushing against her while his tongue sought entry and she willingly obliged as she buried her hands in his hair. Angela was so caught up in the feel of his kiss and the softness of his hair, that she hardly noticed as his hands moved to her shirt buttons. One second she was fully covered and the next her shirt had been ripped open but the shock of cool air against her skin made her realize that she wasn't the only one to be having her clothes tugged and pulled. Her hands were just as busy as his, seemingly moving with a mind of their own as they pushed the much abused material of his t-shirt up over his chest. He helped her raise the top over his head but his hands were back on her before it even hit the floor, gripped her bare waist to guide her as he pushed her backwards, all the while teasing her mouth with his tongue.

Her lower back collided with the top of the counter but he hardly heard the small grunt of pain she gave at the contact. She hardly registered it herself, too caught up in the moment to feel any pain, let alone worry about whether she would bruise. As he continued to kiss her, he reached behind to clear the counter, scattering magazines and invoices to the floor in a single sweep before lifting her up. A small breathless giggle escaped her as the tiny part of her brain that was still capable of thought registered the surreal quality of the situation. That sort of thing didn't happen in real life, it was a move reserved for TV or bad romance novels but she'd be lying if she said his reckless abandonment didn't turn her on even more. A ghost of a smile graced his own lips before they crashed down on hers once more and then there were no more thoughts.

They were so lost in each other that neither one heard the jingle of the bell as the door opened again nor the sound of footsteps as someone entered. It was the sound of a surprised gasp that finally brought them back to reality.

"Oh!" Jenny exclaimed, mouth gaping in shock at what she saw before her. "That's taking flirting with the customers to a whole new level, Catalano."

The look on their faces as they realized they had an audience was priceless but Jenny was too shocked to find any humor in their expressions and their surprise was swiftly turning into something else. Incapable of words, a low growl of frustration escaped Jordan's mouth while he moved towards Jenny intending to get her out of the shop as soon as possible.

"Don't worry, I'm going. I've seen quite enough." Jenny said as she backed away towards the door, grateful that she had arrived when she did. It was safe to say that had she arrived even a few minutes later she would have seen a whole lot more. "Next time, try locking the door."

Jordan practically chased her out and when the door sung closed behind her, he did what she suggested and twisted the lock to make sure that there would be no further interruptions. However, when he turned back to Angela, he could see that the moment was gone. Angela's shaking fingers worked hastily at the buttons on her shirt and her panic stricken features looked close to tears.

"Oh my God. Oh my God." she repeated over and over as she tried to straighten her clothes and hair.

"Angela…" Jordan started in what he hoped would be a soothing voice but, unable to decide what to say next, he opted instead to pull her into his arms.

"Don't touch me!" she shouted as she jumped away from him. "What was I thinking? I shouldn't have come here. I knew this was a bad idea. Anyone could have walked in here. That could have been Edward or Amy. Oh God, what if that had been Amy? What if she'd seen? What-"

"Angela, it wasn't Amy. It was just Jenny." Jordan cut off her tirade only to start a new one.

"She might tell Shane. What if he tells Sharon? What if Edward overhears? He could tell Amy and then-"

"Shhh." He tried to sooth and when he put his arm around her, this time she didn't pull away. "I'll talk to her. She won't tell anyone."

"Are you sure?"

"I promise." He replied, smoothing her hair and tucking it behind her ears as she started to relax a little. His next words were meant to reassure her even more but for some reason, they had the opposite effect. "Every thing's going to be fine."

"Fine? This is not fine, Jordan!" She said, pulling away from him once more. "I knew this was a stupid idea. I should never have come here."

"Why did you come here?"

Angela ignored the question, choosing instead to pick up her bag and tuck her shirt back into her trousers. "This was a mistake. I can't believe you kissed me like that. What were you thinking?"

They say that lust and anger are very similar emotions but Jordan had never felt his flip from one to the other so quickly before. He couldn't believe that she was trying to blame him for what happened when it was her that had come into his shop and, yes maybe he did kiss her first, but she kissed him back and she enjoyed it just as much as he did. If they hadn't been interrupted, she would have done a whole lot more and there was no way she could deny that. However, he didn't trust himself to say any of that without shouting at her. A full blown argument would do nothing to help the situation.

"So leave."

His suddenly icy tone took Angela by surprise but she didn't need to be told twice. She practically ran to the door and after a few seconds of grappling with the lock, she was gone.