Chapter 13

Zac entered his room and shut the door behind him. He faced Alisha, who was in front of the mirror brushing her wet hair. "I'm sooo sorry, Lish," he sighed. "I know how painful it must have been seeing Ike naked."

Alisha smiled. "I'm trying to forget..."

He slowly walked over to Alisha and put his arms around her. She resonded by resting her head on his shoulder.

"I love you, Zac," she quietly breathed in his ear.

She had said those words a few times before, but this time they were different. He wasn't sure why; maybe it was the way she said it. Or maybe the was she was holding him. Whatever it was, it just made him want her even more.

Alisha had noticed Zac looking at her strangely. "What? What did I do?"

The corners of Zac's lips formed into a small smile. He softly kissed her forehead, so soft she almost didn't feel it. "Nothing," he whispered. "You didn't do anything." He paused for a moment, trying to get the words out as intense as she had just done. "I love you so much," he spilled out, burying his face in her hair.

She gently ran her fingers through his hair, down his neck, and rested her hand on the middle of his back. He looked in her eyes and noticed tears forming.

"What's wrong?" he asked quietly in a concerned voice.

She shook her head and smiled. "No one's ever said anything like that to me."

Zac seemed confused. "But I've said I love you before..."

A tear slowly slid down Alisha's cheek. "Not like that."

"So? Taylor?" Gwen asked expectantly as they sat on the couch watching The Wonder Years marathon.

Taylor's eyes left the screen for a moment and turned to Gwen. "Huh?"

Gwen rolled her eyes. "You said you had something to tell me..."

"What?" Taylor replied, still clueless.

Gwen laughed lightly and said very slowly, "Taylor. You said you had something to tell me. Something very importand. Comprenday?"

Taylor stared blankly at the wall. "Oh yeah! Now I remember! But I forgot what it was, so when it comes back to me I'll tell ya." His eyes returned to the screen to see Kevin and Winnie kissing.

Gwen stared disbelievingly at Taylor and grinned. "Wow, you really are blonde!"

"Hey! Don't mock my hair!" Taylor defended. "If you were a guy, I'd kick your ass, but..."

"But what?" Gwen laughed.

"I'm too gentleman-like to beat up a girl," he responded with a smug look on his face.

"Oh God..." Gwen groaned. "You're so full of it!" She laughed and playfully shoved his shoulder.

"Hey, I'd watch it if I were you," Taylor warned jokingly. "Girls who are too aggressive aren't the type of a gentleman-like kind of guy."

"Ahh...I see Taylor," Gwen replied, playing along. She leaned over and kissed him softly on the cheek. When she pulled away, he pressed his lips firmly against hers, but she didn't respond. He continued the kiss, yet her lips still didn't move.

"What's wrong?" he aked.

Gwen smirked. "Oh, nothing. I just thought a gentleman-like kind of guy like you doesn't like aggressive girls."

Taylor sighed. "Ok, ok, Gwen, what do I have to do to have you kiss me?"

Gwen grinned. "Admit you're not a gentleman-like kind of guy," she said simply.

Taylor's jaw dropped. "And crush my ego? Never!" he laughed.

Gwen shrugged with a carefree expression on her face. "Fine, I guess my kisses don't mean much to you..."

"Wait! Fine! I'm not a gentleman-like kind of guy!" Taylor exclaimed.

Gwen smiled. "I know," she mumbled as she passionatly met his lips with hers.

Ike pulled his car into the large lot of Jack Astor's, a favorite restaurant of him and his best friend, Anthony. They walked across the pavement, making small talk.

"So Ike," Anthony began, "what exactly is going on between you and this Katy chick?"

Ike sighed. "Honestly, I don't know. She's in New York City for some magazine internship. She gets back..." Ike quickly glanced at his watch, "in 47 hours and 34 minutes."

Anthony looked at him disgustedly. "You're pathetic, man!"

Ike shrugged and just responded, "Well, I miss her."

"Yeah, I've noticed," Anthony laughed as they reached the doors of the restaurant. He pulled open the heavy door and they stepped into the loud atmosphere.

"How many?" the hostess at the desk asked.

"Two!" Ike said loudly above the noise.

She signaled them to follow her into the back section of the restaurant. "Your server's name is Candy, she'll be right with you."

"Thanks," the guys responded and immediatly began to doodle on the tables with crayons provided. Minutes passed, and they didn't notice the waitress standing by their table.

"Nice flower," she smiled, glancing at Ike's drawing.

"Oh, it's uh, not a flower, it's a dog..." he replied looking into her brown eyes. Her name tag read Candy.

"Sure it is," she responded with a grin. "Can I get you two anything to drink?"

"Yeah," Anthony said, "I'll have a root beer."

"Um..." Isaac started, still gazing into the girl's eyes, "I'll have the same thing."

"Ok, I'll be right back with those," she replied cheerfully.

"Whoa..." Ike murmured as he watched Candy walk into the kitchen.

"Hello? Earth to Ike? I believe you were telling me how much you missed Katy like two seconds ago!" Anthony exclaimed. "Now you're drooling over some waitress!"

"What! No way, Anthony," Ike said and shook his head. "I was not drooling over her."

Anthony laughed. "Yeah, Ike. Sure, whatever. Anyways...don't you think she's kind of...uh...ditzy?"

Ike shrugged. "She's just cheerful."

Zac glanced at the clock on the nightstand. 11:30. "Hey Lish, ya ready?" he asked.

Alisha walked out of the bathroom after spending a half hour blow-drying her hair, getting dressed, and putting on a tiny bit of make-up. "Yep, let's go."

They walked down the stairs hand in hand and entered the family room, where Gwen and Taylor were, uh...making out. As soon as they saw them, they quickly turned around towards the front door. "Bye Tay, bye Gwen. We're going to Alex's party, be back later," Zac shouted as they stepped out into the cool air.

Alisha nuzzled her head against his neck and softly kissed it. "Are those people from LA gonna be there?" she questioned.

"God, I hope not! They were weird!" Zac exclaimed.

"So, who is going to be there?" Alisha questioned.

"A bunch of our friends I guess, I'm really not sure," Zac replied as they reached the front door of Alex's house, who lives across the street.

Zac knocked twice on the door. A girl with long red hair opened the door. "Zac!" she exclaimed.

"Um...hi," he said slowly.

"Well, are you going to introduce me to your friend?" the girl asked with a laugh.

"Uh...Jenna, this is Alisha. Alisha, this is ex."

"Haha!" Anthony cracked as soon as they walked out the restaurant. "I can't believe she gave you her number! On a cocktail napkin!"

"Who knows?" Ike shrugged, "it might come in handy someday."

"Jeez, Ike, remember Katy? Your girlfriend?" Anthony exclaimed.

"Katy and I never said anything about not seeing other people..." Ike rambled.

"Well Ike, it's kind of a given that when you're seeing someone like you and Katy are, you don't go out with other people. It's called cheating," Anthony said, putting emphasis on the word 'cheating'.

"Anthony, I never said I was going to call her," Ike sighed as he stepped into the car, "I just said it come as some use to me someday."

Anthony just shook his head and rolled his eyes as they pulled out of the parking lot.

Alisha rested her head on Zac's shoulder as they slowly swayed to the music at Alex's party. Someone tapped Alisha's shoulder and she turned her head.

"Can I cut in?" Jenna asked.

Alisha looked at Zac. He looked back with a blank face. "Um...yeah," Alisha replied, "sure." Alisha walked off to get behind about 20 people in line for the bathroom.

"So," Jenna began, "is what's-her-name your new girlfriend?"

"Yeah," Zac responded. "Jenna," he sighed exasperatedly, "what are you doing?"

"What's wrong with me talking to you?" she defended. She moved closer to him and breathed in his ear. "Zac, I miss you."

Zac pushed Jenna away. "Jenna, stop," he demanded.

"Zac," she continued to whisper, "I know you want me."

"Ugh!" Zac exclaimed and walked off to get Alisha. He got to her place in line and pulled her out. "C'mon," he said frustratedly.

Alisha looked confused. "Zac, what's going?"

"Let's go somewhere else," he insisted, pulling her out of the room. They walked over to Alex who was in the kitchen. "Ya still have to use the bathroom?" Zac asked. Alisha nodded. "Alex, can we use the bathroom upstairs?"

"Yeah, sure," Alex replied while pouring drinks.

"C'mon, let's go," Zac said to Alisha and took her hand. They walked up the stairs and turned down the hallway to Alex's room. Zac pointed to another door and said, "There's the bathroom."

"K, thanks," Alisha replied with a smile, and headed into the bathroom.

Zac looked around the room for a moment and then flopped down on the bed. After a minute Alisha emerged from the bathroom. "Ya ready?" Zac inquired.

"Wait, can we stay up her for a sec?" Alisha questioned with a concerned face.

"Yeah, sure," Zac answered, "what's up?" Alisha just stared blankly at the floor for a few seconds. "Alisha?"

"Yeah, sorry. Um...Zac, you and Jenna looked pretty friendly while you were dancing. Please, if there's anything going on, can you please tell me?" Alisha said with glossy eyes.

Again, Zac plopped down on the bed, and put his hand on his forehead. He was somewhat surprised that Alisha asked. "Alisha, please, you've gotta believe me. I'm completely over her. She put the moves on me and she was saying stuff..."

Alisha sat down next to him. "Zac, I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have even asked."

"Don't worry about it, Lish, it's ok," he said, a small smile playing on his face. He leaned over and gently kissed her lips, and pulled away. She continued the kiss by moving closer and pressing her lips against his. She opened her mouth slightly and let him slip his tounge in. His hands moved down to the base of her shirt and he clumsily pulled it off. She did the same to him. Her fingertips gently ran down his chest to the top of his cargo pants. Her fingers impuslively played with the cold buttons. She knew what she had to do.

"Zac," she whispered breathlessly, "let's go home."

"Augh!!!" Ike shouted to himself exasperatedly. "Why can't I find anything in this damn room?!" He was looking through Taylor's room for a black shirt he borrowed like last year, but finding anything in Taylor's room was next to impossible. "Aha! You thought you could hide from me but you cant!!!!," Ike proclaimed to the black shirt in the corner of the room. He paused for a moment and then slapped himself. "Stupid, Ike! You're talking to a shirt!" He was in the midst of laughing at himself when the phone rang. He walked over to the cordless phone resting on Tay's bed. "Hello?"

"Ike? That you?" a feminine voice questioned.

"Yeah, Katy!" exclaimed Ike excitedly.

"Um...Ike, we need to talk," she said in a not-so-thrilled voice.

"What's wrong?"

"Ike, I'm staying in New York for a bit longer...I got a permanent job here," Katy reluctantly replied.

The blood drained from Ike's face. "What do you mean???"

"I'm staying here. I got a job. A permanent job."

The word permanent ran down Ike's spine like ice. "Katy, I gotta go," he muttered and pressed the OFF button on the phone. He looked around the room, searching for something. "Where's that cocktail napkin..."

Sigh...back home...

***A special thanks to Alicia for her ideas and helping us edit!***