23 July 2005

Story: A Bit of Jealousy

Part of the Terrence/Brianna & Ashton/Ana series.  Bri's frustrated with all this "love" nonsense.  She feels like she's lost everyone because of it, and it's making her quite cranky.  She takes it a little further than she should've.  But her second older brother (Ashton) never fails -- he's there to keep her head on straight, even if he has to smack it into her.

A Bit of Jealousy
by Breanna Carter

The days and weeks rolled around, and as I had mentioned, Anastasia was all over her new guy, and Terrence was basically hanging out with his new girl. I guess she wasn't really a *new* girl... they'd been good friends for a long time, and had been dating off and on for a couple of years, but she'd moved away and come back, so I considered her his new girl. Does that make sense? Oh well... it seemed as if everyone but me had fallen into this gross love trap and it didn't seem like anyone was getting out of it anytime soon.

"Oh, Brianna," Anastasia said to me one afternoon as we walked to classes in the cold February air. "I think I really love him. Like, a lot. Like, I wouldn't mind us getting married."

I wanted to choke on the coca-cola I was drinking. "Ana, you're too young to even THINK about getting married."

"I know, Bri... but have you ever been in love?"

Trying not to gag, I answered, "No, and don't plan on it. It's gross."

"But it's so great," she said, sighing dreamy-like. I secretly wished she'd just run into a pole or something to snap out of it. From the looks of it, she wasn't snapping anytime soon.

Ashton drove me home after school, the two of us listening to Ana steadily explaining her plans for the weekend, as if we wanted to know or something. I'd learned to tune it out, though, and listened to the steady drone of the radio while staring out the window.

I grabbed the mail on my way inside the house. I'd applied to a couple of colleges in town and was waiting for some acceptance letters. I only got a couple of things, though. Something from the navy begging me to join, and an advertisement from the church a couple of blocks away. Nothing spectacular.

I decided to read the navy brochure anyway and grabbed a can of Dr. Pepper out of the fridge, turning on MTV. It wasn't like I had anything better to do with my time. Who does homework anyway? As I was glancing at the brochure, though, something caught my eye. It was Terrence's, but it was some sort of jewelry catalog thingy. Who sends jewelry catalogs to men anyway?

I picked it up, glancing through it, then realized that it said "Here's the catalog you requested!" in big bold red letters. Requested? Maybe he was picking out something spiffy for my 18th birthday. Hopefully it wouldn't be anything gold. I'm not a big gold fan. I'd prefer silver, like my senior ring. Maybe he'd get me a bracelette to match it or something. And of course I'd have to pick out which one I wanted, so that's exactly what I did. There were a few nice ones in there, so I circled them and put stars next to the ones I really wanted. They were all expensive, so I didn't get my hopes up. Terrence HAD told me, though, that I'd get a good birthday present!

He came home the same time as usual and I was sprawled out in front of the tv, carrying on with my boring life and assuring him that I'd finished my homework (even though I hadn't).

"Ooh! My catalogue came in the mail!"

I raised my eyebrows. "And you're excited?"

"Of course!"

Hm... that wasn't quite what I'd been expecting, since I probably wasn't supposed to know that's what he was getting me for my birthday. But maybe he'd even let me pick out the stuff I wanted!

He looked through it for a few minutes and I ignored him, getting once again engrossed in "Friends."

"Hey, Bri.." he began.

"Huh?" I answered, not averting my glance.

"I wanna talk to you for a sec."

"I didn't do it."

He chuckled slightly. "I know. I just wanna talk."

I nodded, which was his sign to continue, but he didn't and instead turned the tv off. "HEY! I was watching that!" I snapped.

"I'll turn it back on in a sec. I need to tell you something."

"You couldn't have waited until a commercial?" I scowled, folding my arms and giving him a death glare.

"Just bear with me, okay?"

I rolled my eyes.

"Listen... you know, Tonya and I have been getting really close lately..."

"You turned off the tv to tell me that? I think I could have figured it out by listening to you two make lubby dubby comments to one another all night on the phone."

He ignored me. "I want to ask her to marry me."

I tried not to let my mouth hang... but he left me with no choice. I don't think he even noticed.

"That's why I got the magazine... to see if I could find a ring for her. Will you help me pick one out? They said they could have it in by Valentine's Day."

"Valentine's Day?"

"Yeah, don't you think that'd be romantic? I was thinking about cooking her a nice dinner and having her a dozen red roses and proposing to her."

"That's so cliche'," I said.

"But it's romantic, Bri. You think it's a bad idea?"

I shrugged, not wanting to be brutal. "I just think it's corny. Isn't there something else you could do?" Anything... just let me get off to college first!

"I don't know. I really want to do the Valentine's Day thing..."

"Well, maybe you could think of something cute to do. Either way, I'm sure she'll be happy."

He smiled. "Thanks for being supportive, sis. If you think of anything, let me know."

"Yeah... I just remembered I had some homework to do..." I muttered, walking away, trying not to let my aggravation at the L-word be apparant.

I actually did my homework that night, to try and get my mind off of stuff. Terrence brought in a plate of pizza rolls and I munched on them while I played spider solitaire on my computer. He'd gotten some sort of promotion at work and had gotten us a new computer and was talking about the internet. Yes, a big shocker... I didn't have the internet. Back in the stoneage, I know.

For a while everything felt like a blur. I just went to school, came home, did homework, went to sleep. That was it. Didn't hang out with anyone, didn't talk much on the phone. If I did anything, it was kick my soccer ball around in the backyard til Terrence made me come inside insisting that I'd catch a cold. Terrence went out with his girlfriend all the time, Anastasia went out with her boyfriend all the time, and I stayed locked up inside, no friends, no brother... nothing.

"Hey, Bri... what's gotten you so down lately?" Terrence asked, a week before his proposal to Tonya.

"I'm not down."

He raised his eyebrows. "You're lying, kid sis. You've been couped up inside for weeks. Are you and Ana in a fight or something?"

"Nah, I guess I just haven't felt that well."

He shook his head. "Are you sure?"

"Of course I'm sure."

"Well, anyway... I've got a surprise for you."

I kept my fingers crossed that it was my car, but muttered hatefully inside my head that it was probably the ring he was getting for Tonya.

"Come on." I followed him out to the car where he started it up, turning the heat on full blast, and sped off.

"Where are we going?"

"You'll see."

"You know, last time you interrupted my tv for something, it was something that could have waited. If this is something stupid like that..."

"It's not, Bri. Gah, stop being so cynical."

"You'd be cynical, too, if you were in my position."

He basically avoided me the rest of the ride.

We finally pulled up to this place called "Critter & Co." It's a pet store about 20 minutes away from my house. I felt my heart start racing and I was getting a little giddy. I'd been begging Terrence for ages to get me a kitten... should I get my hopes up??

"Come on!" he said, excited as could be.

I followed him inside and then he led me to the back of the store. "I was thinking about hiring this bird to propose to Tonya... what do you think?" he asked, showing me a parrot worth more money that I'd ever see in a lifetime.

My hopes were let down and I muttered, "Yeah, whatever.."

"JUST KIDDING!" he said, exaggerating his words, not yelling, and not upset... just an exaggeration, if that makes sense. "Lighten up, sis!" He grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the cages.

"Hey, Terrence," a woman's voice said, and he shook her hand. "So this is the sister you were talking about?"

"Yup, this is her."

"You're going to love your brother.." she insisted, letting us follow her to a small room. She opened the door, walked inside, let it close behind her, then came back out with a black kitten in her hands. Not only was it a black kitten, but it had white socks and a little white on its tail and ohmigosh it was SO adorable!

"Ohmygosh, ohmygosh!!" I yelped, taking that beautiful creature into my arms and squeezing the mess out of it. "He's so gorgeous!" I said. "And pretty and aww Terrence! You're the best!"

He smiled as I held onto her.

"You like him then?" the saleswoman asked.

"LOVE him!"

Terrence took care of the business part while I held onto my new kitten. He'd bought some kitten food and a carrying cage, along with a scratching post. The kitten didn't cost anything since he bought the rest of the stuff. I didn't care about money, though... who cares that he was spending $3000 on some girl and all he could get his sister was a kitten? It was a lovely gift and I couldn't have asked for anything more... except maybe my brother back, since it felt like he was being sucked into the dreadful L-word... Ugh.

I played with my kitten all night. He wasn't shy like I'd expected him to be. He ran around the house and played with some string. He LOVED paper. Around ten, I decided to go to sleep and he curled up in a ball next to me. It was the best thing that'd happened to me in a while.

The next day I wanted to tell the whole school about Cosmo (that's what I'd named him). Of course, I hadn't been in a good mood lately, and it all came off kind of cocky. And I was kinda pissed that Terrence seemed to care more about his girl than he did about me... and the fact that Anastasia was ignoring me for her boyfriend, and Jayna was getting more attention on the playing field. I feel like a bitch for saying how I felt, but you know, sometimes I like people to recognize me, too. I don't usually like being the center of attention, but at this moment, it seemed like the world was revolving around everyone and I was just way out there like Neptune... almost invisible... I was there, people mentioned me sometimes, but no one cared much or paid any attention. It just felt like things were getting worse as the days went on and if I kept being the one in the shadows, I was going to go crazy.

"Anastasia!" I yelped, running towards her. Terrence had been giving me a ride to school every morning since his promotion.

"Brianna! You'll never guess what happened!"

"What?" I asked, somewhat irritated.

"He bought me a promise ring!" she howled, showing me her ring finger.

"Great! I'm happy for you!" I said, then opened my mouth to continue.

"Isn't it so awesome? He spent SO much money on me... like at least a hundred dollars! And it's a promise! He really loves me, too!"

"That's awesome, Ana... Guess what I got?"

"I hope that he and I are together forever, you know what I mean."

I rolled my eyes, staring at her.

"A promise ring!!"

"That's cool," I muttered.

"Oh, did you want to say something?"

"No, don't worry about it..."

"Oh, okay! See ya after class!"

"If you're not too busy snuggling up to your stupid boytoy," I mumbled when she walked off.

I kicked a rock or two and headed to my first class, which was English.

"Hamlet was one of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies.." the teacher was saying.

"Wouldn't it not be great if it were a tragedy?" I replied.

"Well, the work itself is great, though it is a tragic story."

"Sounds like an oxymoron to me.."

"Well, Brianna, it's not," she insisted. She continued on with her lecture and I lay my head down on the desk.

"If it's such a great story, why is it so boring?"

"To those of us who do not value great literature, I'm sure it would be boring.."

"Are you saying I don't value great literature?" I asked, my head shooting up.

"Yes, that was implied in my statement."

"This class is a joke."

"Brianna, I don't appreciate your comments."

"And I don't appreciate your bland discussions of Shakespeare."

"Then you may leave the room."

"Fine, I will.."

"Have a seat in the hallway until after class."

I slammed my book shut, threw them all in my backpack, slung it over my shoulder and blew the class a good-bye kiss. I was missing participation points for getting kicked out of class, but who cares? It's not like Shakespeare is really that important anyway, nor is English. They couldn't very well drop my scholarships now since the semester had been paid for. And colleges couldn't decline me based on these grades. So who cares that I was kicked out?

"Hey, Bri... what are you doing?" I heard someone asked and looked up to see a guy named Cole who was a junior on the soccer team.

"Oh, hey. Nothin'... just sitting out here... class was too boring. Didn't feel like sticking around."

He sat down next to me, knees pulled to chest. "Class was boring? What are you guys talking about?"

"Hamlet," I muttered, scrunching my face up.

"Ohhh, fun. Yeah, I don't like English much either."

"What are you doing?"

"Wandering down the hallways. I have office duty this period since I took American History last year at my other school."

"Why do they even make you come to school in the mornings?"

"They don't want today's teenagers to be lazy I guess."

"We're already lazy... and besides, how would sleeping an hour later make us lazier?"

"No idea."

We talked for a couple of more minutes until a teacher came into the hallway and scolded us. Cole waved goodbye and stalked off and all I could think was that he was cute and I would hook up with him if it meant that I'd have someone to be friends with again.

After fourty horrendous minutes of sitting out in the hallway reading my alltime favorite book, The Outsiders, the bell finally rang and I was allowed to get up and go to another shitty class. Ana met me in the hallway to tell me about how she and her guy flirted all through class and to show off her ring some more. I kind of ignored her and talked to another girl in my class who wanted to know what the deal was and why I'd been a smartass during class. I assured her that I hadn't lost my mind, was just in a smartassy mood.

The next class I went to was calculus and it was so boring I had to keep saying random things to keep myself entertained.

"That's a very nice sweater you're wearing today, Mrs. Johnson," I said, batting my eyelashes.

"Thank you, Brianna.." she replied, beginning her lesson.

After about five minutes, I got bored again and raised my hand. "Can you apply that to real life? Like give us a story? And use famous people, like Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson?"

Mrs. Johnson sighed, but gave a real life application anyway. I was proud of her.

"But when will I ever *actually* do that in real life?"

"You never know, Brianna.."

She continued with her lecture.

I couldn't help myself. Raising my hand and not waiting to be addressed, I said "Mrs. Johnson, you're a very smart lady... have you ever thought about dying your hair? Most people think blondes are stupid, but you're far from stupid!"

She stopped, narrowing her eyes, staring at me. I just grinned. "When are you going to stop making inappropriate comments?"

I shrugged. "Never?"

"Fine, then you can sit in the office."

"Fine... I'm sure I can find some more useful things in there than calculus."

She went to her desk and pulled out a yellow sheet of paper, scribbling down my referral. I smiled as I took the paper and waved at everyone in the class. I think they probably all rolled their eyes at me. Oh well... maybe I could have a detention the rest of the day and finish reading my book.

"Brianna, Brianna," the stupid principal said. "Are you ever going to learn?"

"Probably not."

"That's a lunchroom detention for you, Young Lady. Anymore trouble out of you and it'll be a Saturday detention."

"Oooh, not that!" I mock-shrieked. She must have missed the sarcasm in my voice.

"Yes, exactly that. Now, you may sit in the office until the next class, and instead of third period, you may go to the lunchroom and help out in there until fifth period. These will be unexcused abscences."

"Darn it! Not unexcused abscences!"

"I'm afraid so. You're dismissed."

I ambled to the hallway and read my book until it was time to go do my stupid lunchroom duty. The cafeteria ladies actually sort of liked me, since I'd helped them out before after our food fight. We talked all the time and joked around with each other. They were happy to see that I was the culprit who would be helping serve lunch.

"It's been a while!" one of them said.

"Yah, I know ya missed me."

"Of course! How could we not?"

"What's for lunch today?" I asked, peeking into the kitchen.

"Steak fingers, corn, and jello."

"Ugh, I hate steak fingers."

"Too bad.." she handed me a funny looking hat and some gloves and I helped in the kitchen with the food. It was hot as hell back there, even though it was below freezing outside.

"So what'd you do this time?" another lady asked as I sent some dishes through the washer.

"Just being myself, ya know. Smartass comments and all."

She shook her head. "Typical teenagers," she muttered, walking off.

I finished up with the dishes and washed my hands, hearing the bell ring and knowing that kids would be filing in soon.

"All right, Brianna... help serve the corn."

I saluted her. "Yes'm."

Lunch was actually the most interesting part of my day. Everyone got their own plate and told us what they wanted, going down the line. I made the most of it by using funny voices and making faces at everyone. I also made sure to ask half of the people if they wanted fries with that. I was just amusing everyone, including myself, and it made me feel better. Anastasia came sickeningly in with her boyfriend, wearing a shocked expression on her face.

"I was wondering what happened to you!"

"I'm sure," I answered.

"What's gotten into you lately, Bri?"

"Nothing... do you want corn?"

"You're changing the subject."

"No, I'm doing my job. Do you want corn or not?"

"No," she answered, looking sort of hurt and turning away. She had the nerve to be hurt? She should walk in my shoes for a day.

After that I was just in too crappy of a mood to even bother with trying to make my cafeteria detention any fun. I finished serving all the corn then went out to clean all of the tables off. Then they sent me back to the dishwashing area to put up all the dishes. Finally, I disposed of my gloves and hat and waved goodbye, promising them that they'd see me again before the end of the year.

"Hey, Bri... did ya have fun with all that corn?" Cole asked as I walked down the hallway between fourth and fifth period.

I smiled, working on my charm. "Of course! I love corn."

"Good to know. See ya later!"

I kept the smartass comments to a minimum for the rest of the day and kicked ass at soccer. I was in such a rotten mood that the indoor field was no match for me. I kicked the crap out of the ball and played so aggressively that I think Ana was getting a little scared of me. I didn't talk to anyone through the whole class period, just went about playing our scrimage then hit the shower with a great number of people congratulating me.

"We need to go out and do something," Shellie told me on our way to study hall.

"Yeah, once I get a car we will. We'll go out and wear slutty shirts and pick up guys."

She raised her eyebrows. "That wasn't exactly what I had in mind... I was thinking about having a girls night out, watching movies that basically say 'fuck guys' and staying up all night telling stories."

Ah, how twelve year oldish that sounded and NICE! "That actually sounds like a good idea. Maybe sometime next weekend, whenever Terrence gets the time to let me invite a friend over, or take me somewhere."

She smiled slightly and we entered our classroom.

Ashton took me home again that day. "How was your day?" he asked Anastasia and me.

"Mine was okay... think Bri's was kinda rough."

"Oh?" he asked, glancing at me. "What happened?"

"Nothing," I mumbled, pissed at Ana for even bringing it up.

"She got lunchroom detention for smarting off to a teacher."

"Ana, you don't have to spread my business around to everyone," I snarled.

"Well I just don't see what your problem is!"

"Fuck you," I said, not wanting to deal with this at the time.

"Brianna, watch your mouth."

"Ashton, Blake wants to pick me up at the house at 4... can you take me home first then Bri? I want to have time to get ready."

Just like her, putting her guy in front of her girl. I thought it was to be chicks before dicks?

"Is that okay with you, Bri?"

"Whatever," I answered.

"Yes or no."

"Yeah, it's fine, I don't care."

I knew Ana was rolling her eyes at me, but I was beyond caring at that point.

I stared out the window silently through the whole ride, trying not to be too pissed. Ana didn't talk much this time, I guess cause she was kinda mad, too... and Ashton just sang along to Margaritaville. Made me semi-crave a margarita, even though I swore I'd never drink again.

"See ya later, Bri. Hope you feel better," Anastasia said when she got out of the car.

I didn't reply, just kept my seat in the back, staring out of the window.

"Come on up here," Ashton said.

"Nah, I'm fine back here," I answered, though I was squshed and Ashton was so hott that I'd sit next to him any day. Why not today?

"Come on, Bri.. just sit next to me."

I sighed exasperatedly and got out of the car, then plopped down next to him. "There, happy?" I mumbled.

"Yes, very. Now... tell me what's going on."

"Nothing."

"Why the attitude?"

"There is no attitude."

"Then what do you call this?"

"Irritation."

"Why irritated?"

"Must be my time of the month."

"There's more to it than that," he said, finally pulling out of the driveway.

I didn't reply.

"Talk to me."

"Don't want to."

"Why not."

"Because I don't, okay?"

"Not a good reason."

"Who cares."

"Why'd you get in trouble today?"

"Because my teachers are stupid."

"And?"

"That's it."

He shook his head. "I don't know what's going on, Brianna, but I suggest you either get over it or find some way to fix it, because the way your acting isn't going to go over too well with Terrence, understand?"

Once again, I didn't answer, just stayed engrossed in the trees we were passing. When we got home, I thanked Ashton for the ride, then went straight to the back to kick the soccer ball around some. I pretended like it was that stupid Blake guy, and I pretended that it was Ana and Tonya and even Terrence, which sort of scared me. I played soccer and ran around until I was so tired I thought I'd collapse. I went inside and conked out on my bed, not even bothering to take a shower. I'd take one before school the next morning.

My alarm went off as usual and I took my shower and dressed in my school uniform, rolling my skirt up a little so maybe Cole would notice me a little better. Terrence noticed, though, and ordered me to roll it back down. When we got in the car to head off to school, he spoke. "I'm going out of town with Tonya this weekend. I ordered us a cabin in the woods."

"Ohh, how romantic," I said, trying to keep the sarcasm out of my voice. I don't know what the deal with me and sarcasm was.

"Ashton said you could stay with them."

"Yay."

"He also suggested that something was up."

"He also has a big mouth. Nothing's up. I already told him that it's my time of the month."

"If you ever need to talk, Bri, you know I'm here for you, right? And Ashton is, too. We care about you a lot, and you're worrying us."

"Sorry to worry you. I always get bitchy on my time of the month, though."

"If you say so."

I didn't really talk to anyone the whole day at school, and kicked ass again at soccer. The coach told me to save my energy for the spring playoffs and I told her that I had plenty, so not to worry. She seemed happy to hear that. She also expressed her sadness towards the fact that I'd be leaving after this year. Oh well, I wasn't too upset about it.

The rest of my week was fairly uneventful. I managed to bite my tongue and keep most of my comments to myself, especially when around Terrence or Ashton. In fact, around them I was especially on edge because I didn't want them to know what was bothering me, or pester me anymore about it. When the weekend rolled around, faster than I'd wanted it to, I was still stressed out and pissed off. Terrence would be proposing and I'd find out for sure on Saturday night if she said yes or no. My heart was racing with anticipation.

Surprisingly, Anastasia actually hung out with me on Friday night. Ashton took us to the mall so we could see a movie and do a little shopping, and things actually felt normal for once. We saw a pretty good movie and I bought a couple of pairs of jeans and a short skirt that Terrence would not be happy about. That was a good thing, though, not a bad thing.

We even stayed up all night talking and giggling like we used to. I don't even know what all we talked about, just everything. We talked about our teachers and funny stuff that'd happened, including instances that we'd gotten into trouble. We talked about our upcoming trip to Austin, Texas, where we'd be playing against some of the best schools in the nation. It was so much fun. I missed Anastasia. She was my best friend and I felt like I was losing her to a guy. If I'd had the guts, I would have told her how I felt. But I didn't want to ruin her relationship with her guy, nor did I want her to be pissed at me because I was jealous. I'm so stupid for being jealous.

We dozed off sometime between two and three in the morning and slept til mid-afternoon. It was Valentine's Day, so Anastasia had big plans with her guy.

"Aww, but I feel bad about leaving you here with boring old Ashton."

"Don't worry about it... just go out and have a good time, and don't do anything stupid that you'll regret."

"You don't have to worry about that. I'll be an angel. Are you sure you're okay with me going, though?"

"Yes, I'm sure. Go... have a good time."

"Thanks for understanding, Bri. You'll be in love one day, and you'll be the same as me."

I wanted to tell her that I hoped not, but didn't want to break her good mood.

So Ashton and I lounged around all day watching sappy love movies on tv and making fun of them. We were in no way mourning our lack of a love life. "Love is stupid anyway," I told him.

"Nah, it isn't stupid... it's a good thing to experience, when you're ready."

"I never want to fall in love. When you're in love, you're stupid. Ew."

"Why do you say that?"

"Because look at these losers on tv."

We didn't pursue the subject any further.

Around nine that night, Terrence called me with the news that she had said yes, and that just set me off. Internally, I mean. Ashton would have suspected nothing. Not too long after the call, I went to bed, unable to sleep. I wanted to do something crazy, something daring... something to give me an adrenaline rush. Screw playing soccer or talking to Ashton or watching tv. I wanted to do something CRAZY. So I changed into my short skirt and a skimpy tanktop with a jacket so I wouldn't freeze to death, and I tiptoed downstairs, sneaking out of the house. It was cold as shit outside, so I didn't walk very far, just to a gas station so I could call 222-TAXI to get a ride to Walmart, where I bought a couple of cans of spray paint, then walked downtown which wasn't too far away.

Downtown was very active, with all the drunks out at the clubs and bars and police making sure that they didn't kill anyone. I found a small alley and took the can of spraypaint out of my purse. Gulping, I shook it up and began making my mark. I must have written thousands of obscenities on the wall, including that guys are assholes and fuck everyone and stuff like that. I told you, I was feeling crazy and I wasn't in a very good mood to begin with. I must have been out there over thirty minutes before someone saw me and I ran for it, finding myself at a dead end and seeing that I was being chased by police. They weren't very happy... They said that if I hadn't run, they would have let me go with a warning, but since I'd been resisting an officer, they'd have to escort me home. They didn't care that I was nearly 18 and my brother was out of town. They just wanted me away from there, and since I didn't have a car, I didn't really mind the free ride home.

"Young Lady, property damage is nothing to mess with."

"Yes, sir, officer," I said, sitting in the backseat. "I apologize. I was just scared when I saw you, didn't want you to be a rapist."

"What's a girl as young and beautiful as you doing out this late at night anyway?"

"Blowing off some steam," I said.

"Obviously."

He escorted me to the door and gently rapped on it. I really wasn't in the mood to be bitched at tonight, but I wasn't fretting over it at all either. I didn't care. Isn't that weird?

Ashton finally came to the door, dressed in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt, his hair all messed up. Obviously he'd been asleep and had to slip on some clothes really quick.

"Hi, officer. Is there some sort of problem?"

"Looks as if Brianna wanted to express her creativity by vandalizism. We found her spraypainting obscene phrases on one of the back alleys downtown."

"I apologize."

"It's no problem. We have her information and will call her about cleaning up the mess. Otherwise, all charges will be dropped."

"Thank you very much, sir," Ashton said, shaking the man's hand. "I'm sorry about this and I'm sure Bri is, too."

"I am, and I've already told him," I muttered to Ashton, glaring at him.

We all exchanged goodbyes and Ashton shoved me inside the house.

"What the hell is going on, Brianna Nicole Carter."

"None of your business."

He grabbed me by the upper arm, not allowing me to go as I had wanted.

"Let me the fuck go," I said, trying to free from his grip.

"You better watch your mouth, Young Lady."

"I can't see it."

He gave me a look of death and I knew he wanted so badly just to slap me across the face.

"Okay, have it your way," he bellowed, dragging me to the living room. "If you're going to act out like this, cause all this drama for no reason, I'm going to do something about it. You want attention, I'll give it to you."

"Leave me alone!" I yelled, struggling and kicking.

"I will not leave you alone, Brianna. This is unnecessary."

"LET GO!"

He didn't let go... instead, he dragged me over to the couch where he sat down and pulled me over his lap.

"Stop it, Ashton!" I howled, kicking and trying to buck away from him.

"And what the hell is this that you're wearing?" he asked, lifting my skirt and beginning a rapid fire upon my backside.

I yelped. "Why are you spanking me! I didn't do anything!"

"Didn't do anything?" he asked, pulling down my panties and putting them in such a spot to where I couldn't kick as much. "So that means you haven't been cocking an attitude lately and you haven't said any cuss words and you didn't sneak out of the house tonight and didn't vandalize property?"

"Who cares!?" I whined, still struggling to free myself from his grip.

He circled my waist with his arm and spanked harder. "I care, Brianna. I know there's a reason you're acting this way, and I can't seem to get through to you, so maybe this will. I know you're upset about Terrence and Anastasia and you're feeling left out, but there's other ways to cry out for attention. At this rate, the only attention you're going to get is from your brother's belt."

I kept kicking, trying not to listen to Ashton's true words. I knew he was right, but didn't want to admit it. I just kept squirming and trying to get away, not succeeding by any means. My bottom was stinging like all hell and you'd have thought that I'd give up on my struggles. I must have had some false hope that he'd stop after a while, but from the looks of it he wasn't stopping anytime soon.

"Please, Ashton. Stop... I'll be good."

"Oh? And what makes you think that I'm going to believe you?"

"Because you love meeee," I answered, crying and about to give up on any hopes of ever being able to sit down again.

He spanked the mess out of my sitspots then worked his way to my thighs, hitting as hard as he could. It'd been a while since I'd gotten spanked by Ashton, so I guess I'd forgotten his quick pace and the way that he didn't take his time or give a warm up. Damn, I was in so much pain, after a while I couldn't even beg anymore because I was crying so hard.

He finally stopped spanking me and lifted me up, letting my skirt fall back into place. He grabbed my wrist and dragged me into the dining room where he ordered me to sit in one of those hard wooden chairs. I didn't have it in me to argue, so I just sat down on my tender backside, wincing and crying a little more.

"Are you ready to talk to me?"

I shook my head.

"Why not?"

"Because I'm stupid."

"You're not stupid, Brianna. You're far from that."

"I am stupid. What smart person would get jealous over their best friend's boyfriend, or their brother's fiancee?"

"Plenty of people would."

"No they wouldn't."

"Sure they would. People get jealous all the time. It's normal.. human nature. We just don't like to admit it because we don't like the way it feels. There's nothing wrong with being jealous, it's the way we react to it that's wrong. Want to give me an example?"

I hung my head. "I guess the way I reacted wasn't exactly a good thing."

"Exactly. If you're going to go vandalize alleys and make smartass comments everytime you get jealous, you might as well kiss sitting down goodbye."

I bit my lower lip.

Ashton brought my chin up and make me look at him in the eyes. "I love you, Brianna, as much as I love my own sister. And Terrence loves you, and Anastasia loves you, too. If you think that they're neglecting you, talk to them. Tell them how you feel. Ask if they'll spend a little more time with you. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own lives that we don't notice that what we're doing is bugging someone who means so much to us."

"It's hard."

"I know it is, baby, but it's either that or you'll keep getting into trouble, and I know this isn't the kind of attention you're looking for, now is it?"

I shook my head.

"Promise me you'll talk to them?"

He was pleading with me. That face was so irresistable that I agreed and made a promise that I wasn't so sure I could keep.

"I don't want to see you getting into anymore trouble, do you understand me?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good girl," he said, and brought me into his arms, hugging me tightly. "We all care about you, no matter what. And if you need to talk, you can count on me, okay?"

"Okay."

"How 'bout let's go to bed?"

"Sounds good."

He kissed me on the forehead and walked me to the guestroom where I changed into my pjs and let him tuck me in. "Goodnight, little sis number 2."

"Night, big bro number 2."

And that night, I went to bed with a smile on my face... finally.

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