Jane resigned herself to drinking her coffee and watching us talk. She finished one cup and poured herself another.

“How is it complicated?”

“It just is.” Jack flashed me another one of his amazing smiles.

Somehow, he managed to look very young, like he was fifteen, while simultaneously looking older than me. It was something about his eyes. They were very young and very old, at the same time.

“How old are you?” I asked pointedly.

To my surprise, Jack laughed, and I found something even more incredible than his smile. Easily, he had the greatest laugh in the universe. It sounded so clear and perfect.

“How old are you?” Jack countered, grinning at me.

“I asked you first.” I leaned back in my seat, crossing my arms over my chest, and that made him laugh again.

“Why does that even matter?” Jack asked. “You want to know more.”

“I’m seventeen,” I sighed.

“Twenty-four,” Jack said with a wry smirk.

“Don’t you feel a little odd running around with two seventeen year old girls?” I asked.

In some part of my mind, it did logically seem wrong for a twenty-four-year-old to be picking up two random teenage girls. But sitting here, in the booth with him, nothing felt more natural or safe.

“I’m mature for my age,” Jane interjected.

“As I recall, if I hadn’t been around, you would’ve gotten yourself killed.” He rested his arms on the table, leaning more towards me. “What were you doing anyway?”

“We were trying to get into a club, but my feet were killing me and I just wanted to get home,” I said. He looked at me for a minute, the serious expression looking out of place on him, and then shook his head and refilled my cup of coffee.

“What club were you trying to get into?” Jack asked, and added cream and sugar to my drink. He had yet to touch his own cup, but I decided not to say anything.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged. I just let Jane drag me wherever she wanted to go and hoped that by the end of the night, I managed to make it home in one piece. “What were you doing downtown? Clubbing it up?”

“Hardly,” Jack said. “I was… getting something to eat.”

“At midnight?” I raised an eyebrow at him.

“I’m kind of a night owl.” Time must’ve just occurred to him, because he glanced over at a clock hanging on the wall. “It’s getting really late. I should probably get you home.”

“I’m wide awake,” Jane chirped, but unlucky for her, I didn’t feel the same way.

Even with the coffee and the adrenaline rush from earlier, I felt very tired. I wanted to continue hanging out with Jack, but my whole body had started to ache, especially my legs and ankles.

“I’m starting to drag.” To punctuate the statement, I yawned loudly.

Jack paid for the check, even though I tried to make a play for it. It was only a couple bucks, and I was tired, so I didn’t fight that hard.

When I stood up, my legs fought to give out underneath me, but I managed to stay up on my feet. For a second, though, I thought Jack was going to pick me up and carry me out to the car. Jane must’ve gotten the same idea, because she inserted herself between us.

Almost the instant I sat in his car, I fell asleep. I remember a brief discussion about who he would take home first. I woke up just as Jack pulled up in front of my apartment building. Jane was already gone, so I guess he’d dropped her off. I’m not sure how he knew where I lived, but it didn’t seem important then.

I left Jack outside my brownstone and went up to my apartment. Fortunately, my mom wouldn’t be home from her shift until after seven a.m., and my younger brother Milo was already asleep in his room.

Painfully, I stripped off the ridiculous get up that Jane had dressed me in and pulled on an oversized tee shirt. I grabbed my cell phone with the full intention of plugging it in, but I collapsed onto my bed with my phone in my hand before I had the chance.

Just as I started passing out, I felt the phone vibrate in my hand, startling me awake.

Sweet dreams :) – Jack

The text message was from Jack, and I felt my heart beat faster. Somehow, when I had been sleeping, Jack had gotten my phone number from my cell and programmed his number into mine.

Under other circumstances, that might have been a little creepy, but in this case, it just made me feel happy and relieved. Clicking off my phone, I set it on my bedside table and promptly fell asleep.

- 3 -

When I woke up, the first thing I noticed, after the painful damage to my feet, were the ten million text messages from Jane. All of them were about Jack, and I felt no urge to reply.

I pulled on sweats, and then stumbled into the bathroom to overdose on painkillers and cover my feet in Neosporin and Band-Aids.

Miraculously, I’d woken up before two o’clock in the afternoon, and that meant that my mom was still asleep. She did a graveyard shift as a dispatcher in St. Paul, so she usually made it home at an ungodly hour and then slept all day.

My brother Milo was a studious little bastard though, and he’d probably been in bed before midnight and up before nine.

When I made it out to the living room, I found him sitting at the computer, probably researching a paper for school even though we were on Spring Break. He was a sophomore in high school and had the social life of a toddler.

It was a sad, sad thing that I was the cool one in the family.

“What’s wrong with you?” Milo asked, glancing up at me.