6 Months Later
Emma served the tennis ball over the net. Sutton returned the volley with a hard backhand. Emma slammed the next one and a pattern emerged. Back and forth they went alternating returns until Emma finally placed a shot just out of reach. Game. Set. Match.
"Nice shot, Sis," Sutton complimented.
"Thanks," Emma responded, "You had some good shots too."
"What can I say? We make a great team."
Emma and Sutton shook hands with their opponent and then smiled to each other. They were advancing to the state finals.
After the tournament ended and their coach released them, Emma and Sutton walked toward Sutton's car, "Who would've thought we would be one of the best doubles teams in Arizona?"
"Who would've thought you'd ever be on a doubles team in the first place," Emma retorted in a joking manner.
Sutton didn't laugh. She gave Emma one of her evil glares, "You're so funny, Emma. Hey what are you and Ethan up to tonight?"
"Nothing. He's taking me to dinner tomorrow to celebrate."
Emma and Ethan had finally gotten past the whole Sutton thing, mainly because Ethan and Sutton avoided each other at all costs, but also because Sutton had moved on. She was finally happy for Emma and Ethan. She stopped trying to get in the way of them.
"What about you, Sutton?"
"We're meeting up later," Sutton answered, blushing.
Things had been going well ever since they'd come clean. The school had trouble figuring out what they wanted to do about the situation. In the end, they allowed Emma to keep her grades in the classes she'd been taking for Sutton and forced Sutton to make up all of the work she had missed in the two months she'd been gone. Emma had make up work too, but not nearly as much as Sutton. They'd helped each other out and both had passed the last semester with B's and above.
Sutton pulled the car out onto the road and headed in the direction of home, "Things are getting serious between the two of you," Emma noted.
"Six months next week," Sutton noted.
Suddenly, Sutton stopped dead in her tracks. Emma looked to her sister with concern, but then realized she was smiling. She directed her gaze to where Sutton was looking and smiled as well. Ethan and Thayer were leaning on the back end of Sutton's BMW. Sutton ran over to Thayer and hugged him tightly before he pulled her into a long kiss. Emma smiled at her sister's bliss and then directed her attention to her own boyfriend.
"Congratulations," Ethan stated, "The two of you were great."
"Thanks," Emma responded, blushing, "We're celebrating tomorrow night, right?"
He slipped his arm around her waist and pulled her close, "Actually, I was thinking we could celebrate tonight," stated pulling her chin up to his and kissing her gently on the lips, "Dan's working late and I got someone to cover my shift. I was thinking you could come over for dinner and maybe some dessert."
Emma smiled, "I'd like that."
She pecked him on the lips and then called to her sister, "I'm gonna head back with Ethan. Tell Ted and Kristin I won't be home for dinner."
"You know you can call them Mom and Dad, right?"
"It still feels weird," Emma admitted, "Will you just tell them for me?"
"Alright," Sutton conceded, "Have fun you two."
Emma glowered at her sister and then took Ethan's hand in hers. Things had been great and it was all thanks to Sutton. Sutton had helped her gain confidence. She'd helped her learn how to stand up for herself. She knew Sutton was grateful to her, but Emma didn't think she knew how grateful she was to her. She had given her a family and friends. Then, she'd helped Emma take control of her own life. Sutton was Emma's better half and she was so glad to have found her.
Sutton watched them turn away from them and head toward Ethan's Jeep. She was honestly happy for her sister. Her feelings for Ethan had dissipated and although it had taken a while, she'd fallen hard for Thayer.
Six Months Ago
Sutton heard the doorbell ring and groaned. Why did this have to be the week of the big benefit? Her mom had been apologetic, but she had to go to the club and sort some things out. Sutton had said it was fine, but now she was regretting that. She had caught whatever stupid flu bug had been going around school and barely had the energy to roll over, let alone open the door.
She dragged herself out of bed, still holding the blanket she had wrapped around her. Her hair was loose around her pale face and she hadn't worn this baggy of anything in a long time. She hadn't been this sick in a long time either. Everything ached. She had horrible chills. She just didn't feel good. She was probably going to ream whoever was at the door.
She pulled it open to see Thayer standing on the porch with a massive brown bag in his arms. When he saw her, his expression turned to concern, "You look like hell."
"That's pretty much how I feel," she stated, impatiently, "What are you doing here?"
"Mads told me you were sick and I think I have something that'll make you feel better."
"Sorry, no, but I do have three of your favorite movies, some chicken noodle soup from your favorite restaurant, and a six pack of ginger ale."
"Why don't you come in," Sutton invited, stepping out of the way, "My mom's at the club working on some benefit and won't be home for awhile."
Thayer stepped through the door and headed into the kitchen and placed bag on the counter. Sutton followed him, collapsing onto the couch in the adjoining living room. She was going to kill whoever got her sick.
"Thank you," she said sincerely, "You didn't have to do this."
"I know, but I wanted to. Apparently I was right to do so. You look ready to keel over at any second."
"Glad to know I look as good as I feel," she responded, slumping down on the sofa. She pulled the blanket tighter around her shoulders, trying to stop the chills that came with her fever.
Thayer left everything in the kitchen and took a seat next to her on the couch. He placed his hand on her forehead and then slid it to her cheek. His cool touch felt good against her hot skin. She leaned toward his hand and smiled with her eyes closed. Her skin tingled with his touch. He pulled his hand away and Sutton was instantly disappointed.
He got up off of the couch and went over to the bag. He pulled out the six-pack of ginger ale and the bowl of chicken noodle soup, "Are you hungry?"
"I can't even think about food right now," Sutton groaned, lying down on the couch and closing her eyes. She was so tired and she hadn't done anything all day.
"Want to watch a movie? I brought Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Notebook, and Breakfast at Tiffany's."
"Ferris Bueller," Sutton requested, sitting up a little on the couch.
Thayer popped the movie in and took a seat next to her on the couch. It wasn't five minutes before Sutton drifted to sleep. Thayer left the movie on and was just about to get up when Sutton slid down onto her side and rested her head in his lap. He was pretty sure she was asleep, but he was too afraid to move in case she wasn't.
For the next fifteen minutes he let Sutton sleep in his lap. He brushed her sweat soaked hair out of her face and pulled the blanket over her shoulders. Gently she lifted her head off of his lap and slipped off of the couch. He replaced his lap with one of the decorative pillows and smiled at Sutton. This was the most vulnerable she'd ever been with him. He wasn't sure if it meant anything, but he liked the change either way.
A few hours later, Emma came home to find Thayer sitting in a chair in the living room with Sutton passed out on the couch next to him. Thayer smiled at Emma and Emma looked at him with a quizzical expression. He guided her into the hallway, "Mads told me Sutton was sick and I thought I'd drop by and see how she was."
"And you stayed, because?"
"You know the answer to that question."
"You really do love her, even after everything she did to you?"
"She's my sister," Emma defended, "It's different."
"She might not be my sister, but it's the same thing. I love her. I always will. She many never feel the same way, but that's not going to stop me from being there for her when she needs me."
Sutton slipped back over to the couch before either one of them realized what she'd heard. She had always known Thayer loved her, but she had never understood how much. Her mind kept lingering to the touch of his hand on her cheek. There was something electric about it, a spark she'd never noticed before. Thayer had always been there for her and their night together hadn't been bad. It actually had been great. She'd just been so upset about Ethan that she hadn't wanted to admit it.
She curled back up on the couch and waited to hear them walk back in the room. She felt a hand touch her shoulder and she jumped up, "Sorry," Emma stated, "How you feeling?"
"Better. Where's Thayer?"
"You just missed him."
Sutton felt disappointed. She wanted to thank him for staying with her. She wanted to tell him her mistake was not sleeping with him. It was sleeping with him under those circumstances. She wanted to make things right.
"Why do you look so disappointed?"
"I just wanted to thank him for staying with me. He didn't have to do that and it was nice of him."
"You're blushing," Emma realized.
"No I'm not," Sutton defended, "It's the fever that's making my cheeks red."
"Sutton, you can fool Thayer and yourself, but you can't fool me. That boy loves you. He has always been there for you. Every time you see him your eyes light up. You love him."
"He's like a brother to me."
"No, he's like a brother to me. To you he could be so much more if you would just let yourself fall for him."
Sutton smiled at the good memory. Thayer had come back the next day to keep her company again. He'd brushed her sticky hair out of her face. He'd looked at her like she was the most beautiful girl in the world. He'd let her cuddle up to him when she slept. That day she'd thanked him before he left and admitted what the real mistake that night had been. She apologized for her treatment of him. She tried to explain what she was feeling but he'd cut her off. He'd kissed her mid-sentence and that same spark she'd felt at his touch the day before lingered on her lips. He was not her brother. He never had been.
He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close to him, "What do you want to do tonight? Dinner? Movie? Something else?"
"Whatever. As long as I'm with you, everything is perfect."
She kissed him passionately. Everything had worked out in the end. Her mother and her had started talking a lot more. They were finally on the same page and she was happy about that. Her mom was no longer demanding perfection, or pushing her too hard and Sutton wasn't reading into everything her mother said. She'd even gotten close with her dad again. It was all thanks to Emma. She'd pushed her to be open and honest. She'd pushed her to face everything. Emma was Sutton's better half and she was glad to have finally found it.