Brad gestured towards the kitchen. "There's pizza, chips and plenty of drinks in there as long as Jason doesn't get to it first and a volleyball game going on in the backyard and of course video games in the living room until the game comes on. Make yourself at home," he said with a warm smile.
"Thank you," she murmured, taking it all in. This was it? she wondered as she took in the laidback party. Something must have shown on her face, because a few seconds later Brad leaned in. "Were you expecting Animal House?" he asked, chuckling.
"No!" she said quickly, too quickly. She had in fact been expecting something along those lines. She definitely hadn't pictured any of this. This she could definitely handle.
He chuckled. "Come on outback with me so I can introduce you to my wife," Brad said, smiling. "I promise you'll have a good time."
For the first time since she walked over here she thought she might just fit in with Jason's friends.
"Who's the hottie kicking Mitch's ass?"
Without looking up from loading his plate with pizza he said, "Amy." At least he hoped it was Amy. Her clingy behavior was getting a little annoying and he hadn't missed the bitch act she put on for Haley or the dirty looks she'd been sending his shy little neighbor all night. He knew when he saw her heading towards his house earlier that he should have sent her away.
"No, the cute little thing with the glasses."
Frowning, Jason looked up and followed Pete's eyes towards the couch where Haley was sitting next to Mitch, playing a game on the Xbox.
"She's my neighbor," he said, not liking the expression on Pete's face one bit.
"Is she here with anyone?" Pete asked, never taking his eyes off Haley.
"Good," Pete said, looking back over his shoulder, grinning. "I won't even bother asking to use your room since we can just mozzy on over to her place."
Jason sighed heavily. It seemed he was going to have to save Haley from two douchebags in one day.
Pete turned to look at him. "What was that about?"
"What?" Jason asked innocently.
"That little sigh you just did," Pete said, gesturing lazily towards him.
"Nothing," he said with a shrug, returning his attention to piling food on his plate, "I just didn't think you were into that, that's all."
"Into what?" Pete demanded, sounding a little unsure. Considering the man's reputation there probably wasn't much that he wasn't into, which was why Jason decided he would not do for his shy little neighbor. It took him five years to get Haley to climb out of her shell. He wasn't about to let this jackass send her back there for good.
"Just forget I said anything," Jason said, grabbing a cold soda from a cooler on the floor.
"I don't want to get involved in this," Jason said, cutting him off. He moved to step past the man only to pause. "Just....just make sure she takes her medication and you should be safe, I mean fine." Jason quickly walked away before he burst into laughter at his friend's horrified expression.
Damn that felt good. He should have done this years ago when he spotted the first ass**le sniffing around Haley. Did this make him her wingman? he pondered that thought over as he walked over to the couch and shoved Mitch off so he could sit down next to his new little project. That was fine with him, he decided, because by the time he was done with her she'd be living a much more entertaining and ass**le free life.
Haley took a deep breath and said, “I’m g*y.”
“You’re g*y?” the obnoxious guy who’d been sniffing around her and bugging the heck out of her in line for the past ten minutes repeated. “Are you sure?”
She bit back a laugh. The guy looked truly upset. She hated pulling out the g*y card, mostly because she wasn’t, but sometimes she had no choice. If he’d been nice when he was hitting on her she would have politely declined, but no, he had to be a complete pig the entire time.
He actually used the old line, “That dress looks great on you, but it will even better crumpled on my bedroom floor in the morning.” Yeah. It was truly sad, especially since they were in a coffee shop and it was barely half past seven in the morning. Between dirty comments, overcrowding her and staring at her br**sts she was starting to get a little irritated. Plus his B.O. was really turning her stomach. If she didn’t need a caffeine fix so badly she’d leave, but she did and couldn’t or she was pretty sure she'd die.
Jason and some of the guys had been over last night to watch the game and since it went into extra innings and she was a dedicated fan she stayed up until two in the morning and of course she had to watch the post game wrap up. With barely four hours of sleep here she was practically getting mauled by the poster boy for deodorant.
After three weeks it was still funny how she went from being completely intimidated by the man to thinking of him as an oversized teddy bear. She felt silly for her behavior. Jason could still be a pain in the ass, but a really nice pain in the ass. He still “borrowed” things from her classroom, but now he left her funny notes that had her laughing until she was crying, scaring the heck out of her students.
She couldn’t help but wonder how many good friendships she’d missed over the years because of her shyness. Part of it of course was because after years of building up defenses she’d been judging people a little harshly like Jason. He was still a bit wild and a ridiculous flirt, but he was a big sweetie as well. He treated her like his buddy. It was actually rather nice to be treated like one of the guys. That being said though sometimes first impressions were dead on, like with her current problem.
“Yes, I’m sure.”
He looked thoughtful for a moment. “Well, do you think the two of you would want to-“
“No,” she said firmly.
“But what if I-“
“Come on, you won’t let me finish. I have this camera-“
“It would be fun-“
“But what if-“
“She said no,” Jason said as he cut in line and threw his arm around her shoulders in that lazy way of his.
“Hey! I thought you said you were g*y!” the man said accusingly.
Without missing a beat Jason said, “She is. I’m just her bitch.”
The man sent a narrowed glare at Jason’s arm and then to her. He sent another glare at Jason and she could tell the man was deciding whether he wanted to push it any further. Based on the man’s small size and Jason’s large muscular build he wisely chose to drop it.
“So, what are you buying me this morning?” she asked Jason.
He scoffed. “Me? Why am I buying?”
“Because I helped you win fifty dollars off Brian last night.”
He rolled his eyes. “I would have won it without your help.”
“Uh huh,” she said absently, stepping up to the counter to place her order. She added a chocolate chip muffin, knowing Jason was going to steal hers. He seemed to have a thing for stealing her food.
“I would have. I didn’t need your help you know,” he said more firmly.
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