I downed another shot, the warm liquid burning all the way down, satisfying the usual Friday night expectations of my body. I grabbed another and a short girl beside me and led us to the dance floor, running my hands along her waist and bare thighs, sliding the dress up to the edge of her ass. Judging by the way she stumbled a bit, the blonde was as drunk as I was, if not worse.

My eyes weighed a red head eyeing me in the corner and who I'd rather take home. Blondie won out.

Someone smacked strait into me from behind, but I turned as caught a slender arm just in time. Maybe I wasn't that drunk because I pulled her up easily, my gaze running up incredible legs and then to a black dress which did incredible things to the skinny tall frame.

"Sorry." The girl stumbled and then lifted her head. Both her chocolate eyes met mine, long dark hair tumbling in waves to her elbows. I froze, because I would know those eyes anywhere.

"Lanie?" I asked, narrowing my eyes and keeping my hold on her wrist. Her hair swayed slightly to the right, a cascade of darkness around her.

"Collon?" She giggled.

Lanie never giggled like that and it startled me how much of a girl she sounded like. I mean, I knew she was a girl. Anyone could see that by her body, or face, or flowery smell. Giggling though...this was drunk Lanie. A Lanie I'd never seen before. I ignored how much the lower half of me was turned on by it. "You're drunk? Why are you drunk Lanie?"

"I had a few-" She trailed off. A guy behind her, reclaimed her, pulling her lean body against his. He was taller than her by an inch or two, and I was taller than him by a few inches.

At one point, maybe sixth grade, she'd been my height maybe a centimeter taller. I hated her that whole year, and ever time she'd teased me, I made us arm wrestle to prove I was stronger.

The guy who had his hands on her was skinny, but his grip looked tight. I itched to get her away from him and closer to me. "Lanie, where are your brothers? Are they here?"

She smiled, full-dimples showing. "No. Is your brother here? He-he-"

I was done. Pulling her back to me, I shook the lanky guy off. "Get lost."

He frowned but saw the look on my face and moved back though the crowd.

"Alright, let's go." I hooked Lanie against me and moved, leaving the blonde whining behind us. "Why didn't you come with anyone? You shouldn't be here by yourself."

She waved me off. "I'm a big girl now, Collon. I can take care of myself."

I felt the need to point out that she couldn't even stand without my help, but decided not too. She would only get mad and push me away, and then probably fall on her face. "I'm going to call Tyler. He'll be the least pissed at you."

Lanie groaned as I dialed the phone and we made our way outside into the cool summer air. I'd been back three days and avoided the Refinski house hold since then. It wasn't pleasant to be there anymore, not with all the fighting.

Back in middle school and early high school, the Refinski's were the perfect family. Mrs. Refinski would bake chicken wings and have us all over for game day. Those times were long gone.

Tyler's voicemail hit and I hung up before they asked me to leave a message. "You're out of luck, I'm calling Travis."

Lanie pouted. "You're not very nice Collon. What happened to my best friend?"

"We grew up," I explained and hit the end button on my cellphone. "Dammit. Where are your brothers?"

She shrugged.

"Alright well I guess I'm going to call my brother." I didn't know what else to do.

"No!" ahe protested. "Don't call Declan. Please Coll, I'm okay."

My eye brows pulled in. "Why not?"

"He will want-nothing. Please, don't call him."

Curiosity spiked in me. "Lanie," I started, voice careful. "What is it? Why are you so nervous? Why shouldn't I call him?"

"We hooked up." Her legs gave out.

"Shit, Lae." I scooped her up and into my arms. Then her words registered. "Wait-what? You and Declan hooked up?"

"I'm tied Coll," she complained. "Can you stop shouting?"

"I'm going to scream if you don't talk to me. You and Declan hooked up? When?"

She batted her lashes, sleep dawning. "More than one time," she muttered.

I was going to kill him. "When was the first time?"

She passed out.

"Fuck," I muttered and opened a cab door with my foot. Moving us inside, I gave the guy my address. The way he glanced at Lanie made me want to get out and find a different cab. One with a girl driver. But God knows even a girl would stare at Lanie.

There wasn't a chance I could let the Refinski's see her passed out, and I knew my Dad was out tonight, most likely drinking alone at a bar.

Lanie's hair smelled a-fucking-mazing as it brushed against my lips and nose. Declan was in the kitchen and stood up as soon as he saw me holding Lanie. I carefully set her down on the couch before moving into the kitchen. He could see the anger rising in me.

Being three years younger seemed like a huge age gap when we'd been younger. He was thirteen while I was ten, sixteen when I was thirteen. Now I barely noticed it. Twenty to twenty-three was nothing sesides the fact that he no longer needed a fake ID.

"You hooked up with Lanie?" I spat, more furious than I ever remembered being. Lanie was off limits, untouchable, and he knew it. I had warned him.

Before he answered I punched him strait in the face.

"Shit, little bro!" He cried, holding his nose.

I laughed without humor. "I'm bigger than you." I punched him again, this time in the gut. "Are you insane?! Lanie Refinski?! You just couldn't resist could you? My fucking best friend and your best friends sister!" I punched again to the gut and he doubled over.

"I'm sorry man, it just happened."

Just happened my ass. He made it happen, and if anyone should have been hooking up with Lanie, it should have been me. WOAH. Where did that thought come from?

"Tell that to your best friends. Tell them how you just tripped onto Lanie's lips."

Blood ran down Declan's nose, not that I cared at all. I cared about facts. "When did it happen?"

"Once. It only happened once!"

I threw my first to his jaw and heard the impact. "That's for lying. I know it happened more that once, and I want answers."

"I'm not going to be able to talk if you knock me out," he warned.

I eased up. "Start talking."

"The first time was at Matt Davis's party in high school. I was a senior and you guys were freshman. I didn't plan it...it just happened."

Ramming him back against the wall, I snarled, "Six years ago! And you never said anything?! Please tell me you haven't been secretly together for six years."

"No!" He swore. "We haven't for a year or two and it was always occasionally, nothing serious."

"So, let me get this strait. You hooked up with your best friends little sister, also my best friend, the only girl I told you was off limits, and I shouldn't think its a big deal because you only did it occasionally. Because you wanted to fuck around with everyone, and her also."

I threw a punch and Declan went down, slumping against the wall, blood running down his face. Feeling eyes on me, I turned seeing Lanie watching me with hooded eyes. Hand aching, I went, crouching next to her.

She sat up now, tears gathered in her eyes. "I'm so sorry Collon."

Crap. I couldn't watch her cry. "It's not your fault Lae, it's his."

"That's not fair, I let it happen, and-" She choked on air. "He's my brothers best friend and you're my best friend, or you were..."

"Hey," I tilted her chin up. "We still are best friends. Ever since you threw that rock at me, I've been yours."

"Shut up." She rolled her eyes but smiled, beautifully. When we were younger she used to hate me, throwing rocks and mud anytime I tagged along with Declan. Then we were each others only friends in elementary school and became the best of friends.

"Everything's going to change now? Isn't it?" She frowned.

I tried to put on a reassuring smile but she was right. Things would never be the same now. Her brothers would deal with Declan, and nobody would be leaving them alone in a room anymore. Everyone was going to look at her differently. Including me. Less on a little girl. Less of perfect and more...attainable.