He knew who she was. Of course he did. She was Katie Matlin's younger sister. Drew's ex-girlfriend's younger sister. Hell, the younger sister of the girl Adam himself had once had a crush on. Adam knows he probably shouldn't go there but he can't help it.

Adam caught the flu and was out of school for three days so unfortunately; he missed the first three days of his new band's rehearsal. Eli dropped by after school the first day Adam missed with a message from Imogen saying that Mo asked her to tell Eli to get the news to Adam. He also let Adam know that he was missing the first day of practice. Now here he was, three days later, standing in the doorway to the band room just staring at the only person in the room. It was her. Maya Matlin. The girl that Adam knew he shouldn't have a crush on, but did. As he stepped into the room, clearing his throat as he did, she looked up from rosining her bow to see who it was.

"Adam!" She grinned at him. "You're back! Are you feeling better?"

"Much," he grinned back. "Did I miss a lot?" He slid his backpack off his shoulders and slipped into the seat beside her. She placed her bow across her lap and turned slightly to face him.

"A ton, sorry to say," she grimaced. "We already learned an entire song and we sound pretty good. But adding the bass," she reached out to poke his shoulder. "Will make us sound killer," she giggled.

"I'm sure we already do. We have a pretty wicked cellist after all," he winked and was surprised when Maya's cheeks blushed.

"You think so?" Maya asked.

"Absolutely! I wish I could play the bass even half as well as you play the cello," he poked her knee.

"Adam Torres, are you flirting with me?" she asked, a smile tugging at her lips.

"Would you be opposed to it?" Adam replied confidently.

Maya hesitated, pulling her bottom lip in between her teeth. Then she quickly she shook her head. "No, not at all actually."

"Good," he replied. "Because I definitely was."


"Where is it?" he demanded.

She paused, arm reaching into her locker to retrieve her math book. She dropped her arm to her side and turned to face him. "Hello to you too, Jake. I haven't seen you all day," she replied.

"I know you have it. My blue plaid shirt."

Katie laughed and turned back to her locker. She pulled her book out and stuffed it into the bag that hung off her shoulder. "I would never steal one of your shirts."

"Katie, that's such a lie. You're wearing one of them right now."

Katie looked down at her shirt and realized that Jake was right. "Okay, but I swear I didn't take the blue one."

"I know the blue one's your favorite. I've already had to steal it back from you twice. I wanted to wear it this morning and it wasn't in my closet."

Katie hitched her bag up onto her shoulder, shut her locker, and then leaned against it to look up at her boyfriend. "Maybe your dad borrowed it."

Jake leaned against the lockers. "No, my dad never borrows my shirts. You were over last night. Did you take it when I left the room? You've done that before."

Katie placed a hand on his chest and leaned in. "Jake Martin. You're accusing me of something I didn't do. Yeah, that shirt's my favorite but I know that it's your favorite too. I was going to take it but didn't. Go home, check your closet again, and stop giving me that look. I'm late for math and then I have a newspaper meeting after school. Call me later?" Katie stretched up on her toes and pressed a quick kiss to his lips before turning and heading down the hallway.

"I know you took it!" he yelled after her.

When he got home, he headed straight up to his room to look through his closet. He was going to prove Katie wrong. As he stepped through the doorway, he dropped his backpack on the floor, and quickly crossed the room to his bed. He gathered the material up into his hands and stared at it.

"Hey, Jake we're- you okay?" Glen took in Jake's confused expression and then glanced at the shirt in his hands. "That's yours right?"

"Yeah, did you find it?" Glen nodded. "Where was it? I looked all over for it this morning."

"You must have left it in the washer or dryer. Helen though it was mine and hung it up in my closet."

"I accused Katie of stealing it."

Glen laughed. "Better apologize. By the way, Helen and I are going out for dinner. You and Clare okay to get dinner on your own?"

"She's at Eli's. I'll be fine."

As Glen headed out of the room and back down the stairs, Jake put the shirt back on his bed and pulled out his phone.

You've reached Katie. Leave a message after the beep.

"So, I found the shirt…" Jake began.


When she got home, no one was awake. She went straight to her room, dumped her belongings onto the floor, and sat down on her bed. She sat for some time before standing up and heading for the bathroom down the hall. She shut the door quietly behind her and then turned to face herself in the mirror. She stared at her reflection and tried to recognize the girl staring back. She had wild eyes, flushed cheeks, and windblown, wild hair. Slowly, she reached up to smooth down her hair. Her eyes dropped to her lips. The lips that he had just kissed. Her hands moved to the hem of her shirt and she ripped it up and over her head. She spun around, turned on the shower, and watched as the water swirled around the tub. She slid her jeans off and got into the shower still wearing her undergarments. She stood under the too hot water and watched as the water raced down her arms. She lifted her arms and watched the water web out across her hands and fingers. She stood like that and thought. Thought about him and what had happened. It was her fault. She knew it was. All of the texts she sent, the calls she made. She was always there and she had obviously led him on. She felt disgusting. Gross.

She picked up the bottle of soap and began to wash her skin. Desperate to feel clean. As the water rinsed the soap from her skin, she repeated the action two more times. She scrubbed until her skin was red, angry, and raw. But she still felt dirty. Still felt his hands on her, felt his hot breath fanning out across her face. She still felt his lips pressed against hers. So she gave up. She sat down, pulled her knees up to her chest, wrapped her arms around her legs, and cried until the hot water ran out. When it did, she reached out, shut off the water, and then buried her face into her knees. She didn't get out of the tub until she began to shiver. Standing slowly, she pulled back the shower curtain and was relieved to see that the mirror was fogged up. She didn't think she could bear to look at herself again. She quickly peeled off her bra and underwear and dropped them to the bottom of the tub. Stepping out, she wrapped a towel around herself and exited the bathroom. She walked quietly down the hallway, pushing open her half closed door and entered her room.

Instead of getting dressed right away, she wrapped the towel tightly around her body and sat at the foot of her bed. She stared out through her open bedroom door and into the hallway, part of her hoping and praying that her mother would check to see if she was okay. But after sitting for five minutes, her mother didn't come. She listened to the night around her, the creak of the house, the showerhead dripping in the bathroom. Once she was positive no one was going to check on her, she pushed off the bed, crossed the room, and eased her bedroom door shut. She put on her pajamas and pulled the covers back on her bed. She slid between the sheets and curled up in a ball on her side. She tried closing her eyes, tried to sleep, but she couldn't. Every time she closed her eyes, she saw his face. She knew she wasn't going to be able to sleep, she was too restless. So she threw back her covers, grabbed the quilt from the end of her bed, and made her way across the room and to her window. She raised it quietly and slipped through to sit, wrapped in the quilt, on the roof just below her window. Clare Edwards knew she wasn't going to be able to sleep. So she sat, alone and thinking, until the sun came up.


The two moved their bodies in time to the thumping bass filled music that was too loud for the crowded basement. His hands were on her hips, pulling her flush against him while hers clutched at his shoulders. She had never danced with a guy like this, all hips and roaming (but respectful) hands, but she found that she was really enjoying herself.

Clare reached her hands up to run through her boyfriend's hair and laughed when he closed his eyes. Eli's grip on her waist tightened, and he pulled her even closer and began moving faster.

"Let's go outside," she yelled right near his ear, struggling to be heard over the booming music. She felt overwhelmed and needed a minute and a lot of fresh air. Clare grabbed one of the hands that was on her waist, the one that was slowly inching its way down her backside, and pulled him through the crowd of people packed into the Torres' basement. She slid the door open and took a deep breath as she stepped out onto the patio.

After she shut the door behind them, Eli led the way to the bench that was right outside the door and pulled her down onto his lap. She wound her arms around his neck and smiled down at him.

"Sorry, I needed some air. That was fun though. We'll have to do some more of that later."

"You don't have to ask me twice," he brushed one of her curls off her cheek and tucked it behind her ear. "I was having fun too."

They sat in silence for a while, catching their breath and just enjoying each other's company. When the music inside the house cut off suddenly, Clare jumped and turned her head to look through the door.

"Everyone shut up!" Adam yelled. "It's almost time! Someone find the remote so we can turn on the TV."

"Do you want to go back inside?" Eli asked. "Ring in the new year with our friends?"

Clare looked back at him as her friends and classmates began the countdown.

"Ten, nine, eight"

Clare cupped Eli's cheek and leaned in to brush her nose against his.

"Seven, six, five"

"No, I want to stay right here and ring it in with my boyfriend."

"Four, three, two"

"I like the sound of that," Eli reached up, wrapped a hand around the back of her neck, and pulled her down to meet his lips.

"ONE! Happy New Year!"

"Happy new year," Clare whispered against his lips.

"Happy new year. I love you."

"I love you too," she leaned her forehead against his and shivered involuntarily.

Eli wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her against his chest. "Let's go back inside. Dance some more? That should warm us up."

Clare stood up and extended her hand. Eli grabbed it and allowed Clare to pull him to his feet.

"Look!" Clare dropped his hand, took a step out from under the overhang that they had been sitting under, and looked up at the night sky. "It's snowing!"

She smiled when she felt arms wrap around his middle and a chin rest on her shoulder. She placed her hands on top of his and sighed.

Inside, someone had turned on a slow song. Eli removed his arms from around her waist and stepped in front of her. "May I have this dance?" he asked as he offered her his elbow.

"You may," she slipped her arm into his and he led her out into the backyard. He placed one hand on the small of her back and entwined the other in hers.

They held each other closely and swayed to the music, surrounded by twinkly lights and falling snow.