Authors: Kara Leigh Miller
Donnie shielded his eyes from the flashlight pointed at him. "Oh shit. I think it's the campus police," he said. He didn't know for sure because his vision was already blurred thanks to the excessive amount of alcohol he drank and because of the douche bag blinding him with the light. Whether it was the campus police or not, he wasn't planning on sticking around long enough to find out.
"Run," Alex said. Donnie was right behind him. They both tripped a few times, but no one ever caught up to them, so Donnie had to assume that whoever just yelled at them wasn't campus police. That was good news. They reached the dorm and collapsed into their room. Alex flopped down on his bed. "I drank too much," he mumbled into his pillow.
Donnie laughed and sat down on his bed. He gripped the edge of his mattress as a severe case of vertigo washed over him. "Me too."
"I won," Alex whispered before he passed out.
Donnie sighed. He was pretty sure Alex wasn't going to remember much of this come morning. What the hell had he been thinking? Using Teghan as a bargaining chip? Kicking off his sneakers, he laid down on the bed. Folding his hands behind his head, he stared up at the ceiling and blew out a ragged breath. There was no way he could go out with Teghan knowing that Alex, his friend, his roommate, had won the bet. Could he? It violated every guy code in the book. Didn't it? It was simple. He'd lost. And now he didn't have a pass on the bros before hoes rule. Donnie closed his eyes. Maybe things would be clearer in the morning.
Donnie sat slack-jawed as Alex slowed, pulled into the circular driveway and stopped in front of the garage.
Holy crap, this place is a mansion.
A white concrete walkway lined by glowing solar powered lights led from the driveway to the front door. Elaborate terra cotta flower boxes zigzagged along the length of the house and brick pillars supported the portico that jutted from the second floor of the house. He continued to stare in awe as he and Alex got out of the car and went to the front door. Even the door was impressive. Burmese teak with a gold-trimmed oval stained glass window. Alex reached around Donnie and pushed the doorbell. "This is where Trevor lives?" Donnie whispered. Alex nodded.
The door swung open. "Alex!" Trevor gave him a fist bump. "Good to see you again, Donnie."
"Hey," Donnie said with a nod.
"Come on in, guys." Trevor stepped aside so they could enter. "Party's outside tonight. Parents went away for the weekend so the house is all ours."
Donnie couldn't stop staring as he followed Alex and Trevor through the house. There was so much to take in. A carpeted spiral staircase that opened to a spacious living room, a dining room with a table large enough to seat fourteen, a kitchen that looked like it belonged in a five-star restaurant, and a den fit for a king. Trevor stopped, slid open the massive glass door and stepped out onto the patio. Donnie's eyes widened. A lagoon-style pool was accented by a built-in hot tub shaded by a bamboo umbrella and a waterfall cascaded near the rock slide at the far end of the pool. A half-dozen plush lounge chairs lined the edge near the waterfall and patio furniture large enough to seat twelve stood to the left. A matching mini bar and a two-person swing were to the right of the table. A brick wall divided the grass from the concrete that led to a full size basketball court. Enough strands of white lights hung from the wall, the house, and the trees to illuminate the entire backyard.
"Parker and Lyndsey are here. Jonah and Ethan are on their way," Trevor said as he led them toward the patio table. "And I think Jason and Beth are coming, too."
"And Teghan?" Alex asked.
"Sorry, man." Trevor patted Alex on the back. "Haven't heard from her."
"That's all right. Didn't really expect her to show up anyway," Alex said.
"She'll come around man, don't worry." Trevor smiled. "I raided the cellar. Got plenty of beer," he said.
"You're old enough to buy it, why not just go to the store yourself?" Alex asked.
"Why buy it when I can get it for free?" Trevor smirked.
Donnie laughed. "He's got a good point." Donnie really liked Trevor. He was fun.
"I'm just glad you have some because I have a feeling I'm gonna need it tonight." Alex laughed.
"What about you, Donnie?" Trevor extended a bottle of beer toward him. Donnie accepted it, twisted the top and took a long, slow drink. Trevor grinned. "We're gonna get along just fine."
~ * ~
"Do you really have to do this right now?" Annabelle asked with frustration. "We're gonna miss the movie."
"I won't be long, Annie. I promise. Anyway, I'd rather do this tonight instead of Sunday when my parents will be around." Teghan pulled into her parents' driveway. "What the hell?" She looked at the half dozen parked cars. "Trevor," she grumbled. Teghan turned off the engine, ready to go yell at her brother for his blatant stupidity. "You wanna come along?"
"No, I'll wait here," Annabelle said. "Please make it quick."
Teghan agreed and hurried into the house. She'd find Alex, apologize, make everyone happy then go on with her life.
Yeah, it'll be that easy.
But first she had to find out what the hell her brother was thinking.
"Teghan? What're you doing here?" Donnie walked out of the kitchen with a handful of plastic cups.
She stopped, her heart thudded loudly in her chest. "Uh, this is my house. What are
doing here?" God, he looked so much better than she remembered. That hair and those eyes…she wanted to devour him right here.
"I'm here with Alex," Donnie said. "Trevor invited us, remember?"
"How many people are out there?" Teghan asked as she started toward him. "Is he having a party?"
"Seven or eight," Donnie said.
Teghan stopped in front of him. She leaned a little closer and took a deep breath. His cologne awakened her senses despite the vague hint of alcohol that surrounded him. She cleared her throat, hoping the action would help to clear her mind as well. "Are you guys drinking?"
Donnie tucked his free hand into his pocket and smiled.
She pushed past him, marched outside and straight up to her brother. "Trevor! What the hell are you doing?"
"Oh, hey, Teegy." He smiled. "Glad you could make it." He hugged her.
"Don't call me that." Teghan shrugged him off. "Mom and Dad are going to kill you when they find out."
"They won't find out." Trevor waved her concern away with a flick of his hand.
"That's what you said last time." Teghan put her hands on her hips and looked around the backyard. Last time Trevor had decided to have a "little" get together, it had turned into a full-blown party that resulted in Dad's old high school basketball trophy getting broken and vomit in the pool. That was two years ago, and tonight was the first time their parents had left them alone in the house since. And of course, Trevor had to go and do something stupid again. She gave him a disapproving frown. "Really, Trev? Dad's stash?"
"Yeah, you want one?" Trevor asked as he grabbed a bottle from the table and handed it to her.
Teghan took it and set it back down. "No, I don't want one. Your ass is gonna be in so much trouble."
Trevor grinned. "Lyndsey and Beth are here." He flung his arm around Teghan's shoulders. "Aw come on, Teegy. Stay. Have a beer. Be social."
"I can't. Annabelle's in the car waiting for me. We're going to a movie. I just came by to talk to Alex real quick."
"You finally decide to take him back?"
Teghan snorted. "You're drunk."
"Whatever, lame-o." Trevor put his thumb and forefinger against his forehead in the shape of an L, stuck out his tongue, and rolled his eyes.
Teghan smacked his hand away and laughed. "You're an idiot."
"Does this mean you're gonna stay?" he asked with a glimmer in his eye.
She hesitated. It'd been a really long time since she'd hung out with everyone, and she really did miss her friends, but something told her to leave, to get away, and stay out of trouble. "Let me go get Annie," Teghan said, ignoring her conscience.
~ * ~
Donnie leaned against the brick wall next to the patio table, beer bottle pinched between two fingers, arms folded, and one ankle crossed over the other. His heart dropped as he watched Teghan leave the backyard and walk into the house. She was leaving. And she hadn't even bothered to say hi or even look in his direction.
A few moments later Teghan came back through the sliding glass doors with Annabelle following her. A slow smile spread over his lips as he watched Teghan mingle with her friends. His heart dropped again when he saw her take Alex's hand and lead him into the house. Something in the way they walked into the house had his gut tightening with dread--Teghan was getting back together with Alex. Donnie really had blown his chance.
~ * ~
"What's up, Teeg?" Alex asked, finishing what was left of his beer before popping open the other bottle he'd brought with him.
"I've been thinking about what you said the other day, and you're right. It's not fair to expect you to walk away from my family. Especially considering the deal you made with my dad."
"Go on," Alex said with a grin.
Teghan smacked him. "You don't have to enjoy this so damn much." She laughed.
Alex chuckled. "It's not very often you tell me I'm right," he said. "I'm going to savor this for a moment."
"Seriously, though. I think you're right. We should try to be friends."
"I couldn't agree more," he said.
"I'm glad you're back, Alex. I've missed you." She hesitated for a moment with indecision. Should she hug him? Would he take it the wrong way? She really did want to be his friend again, but nothing more.
"I've missed you, too, Teghan." Alex smiled. "Come on." He took her hand. "Let's go party with our friends."
Teghan nodded, thankful that she didn't actually have to make a decision about whether or not to hug him. Alex always seemed to know when she was struggling with something.
~ * ~
Donnie brought his beer to his lips and took a sip. He stood straight when he caught sight of Teghan approaching. Where the hell had she come from? His eyes hadn't left the back door, and he knew she hadn't come out the way she'd gone in. "Everything okay?" he asked.
She shrugged. "Yeah, I guess."
"You and Alex back together?"
"No, just friends," Teghan said.
Donnie tried, and failed, to contain his smile. "Great place," he said. "And that's one hell of a waterfall."
Teghan glanced over her shoulder and smiled. "I love waterfalls," she said.
"Really? Um, that's, uh different." He laughed nervously.
"When I was six, we went on a family vacation to Niagara Falls. I begged my parents to let me go on the
Journey Behind the Falls
. My mother was paranoid I'd get too close and fall in, which was so ridiculous." Teghan laughed. "But my dad eventually gave in. It was the most amazing thing I've ever experienced. The sound of the falls as you walked through the tunnels sounded like thunder, but it was also somehow very peaceful."
Donnie noticed the way her eyes sparkled when she spoke. "I've never been to Niagara Falls," he said.
"After that trip, I couldn't stop talking about it. I did tons of research about waterfalls, borrowed books from the library, drew pictures of them. Even took the time to locate other waterfalls I wanted to see. My dad called me obsessive."
"So he built you your own waterfall in the backyard?" He raised a brow skeptically.
Teghan laughed. "Yeah, crazy, huh? He even left the back open so I could go sit behind it. I think I spent my entire childhood behind that waterfall."
"There's a cave behind that waterfall?" Donnie's eyes widened as myriad of possibilities raced through his mind, the primary one being that he could sneak a few precious moments of alone time with her.
"Sure is. I spent hours playing back there when I was a kid."
"Can I see it?"
Teghan shrugged. "Sure, come on."
He followed her around the pool, the hot tub and the rock-slide. Behind the waterfall was dark, and illuminated by streaks of lights that hung around the backyard. The rock walls muted the sound of the waterfall. It wasn't thunderous, but it was loud--like rain beating down on a metal roof. And she was right; it was surprisingly peaceful.
"Nothing spectacular," she said.
Donnie watched as she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. He smiled. "Do I make you nervous?"
He studied her for a moment before cocking his head to the side and asking, "So, why do you do that thing?"
"That thing with your hair. You've done it every time I've seen you," he said.
Teghan felt the heat rising inside her as she looked at her feet and back at him. His eyes glimmered with desire that, she guessed, rivaled her own. She swallowed hard and reminded herself he was off limits. She'd just made things right with Alex, and there was no doubt that if she broke Alex's heart again, her brother, her father, and their friends would never forgive her. It was something she wasn't willing to risk.