With a shrug he took a step back towards his house. "That's a damn shame because I was hoping you'd come to my party today, but since you're sick......."

She pressed the back of her hand against her forehead. "Hmmm, what do you know? I'm all better. What time is the party?" she asked with the cutest little shy smile he'd ever seen.

"Eight o'clock, you little faker," he said, chuckling when she let out an excited little squeal as she ran back into her house.

***********

Maybe this wasn't such a good idea, Haley thought as she stood on Jason's doorstep with a plate of brownies. With an inward groan she berated herself for being an idiot. What kind of geek brought brownies to a kegger? Okay, she was assuming that this was a kegger since she'd witnessed some rather scary behavior over the years during his little gatherings and never witnessed that type of behavior at any party or get-together she'd ever been at.

Some of the things she'd heard and seen had scared her, but some of it had intrigued her. Not that she'd ever admit it, but on more than one occasion she'd wondered what it would be like to go to one of Jason's parties, which is why she'd jumped at the chance today. Jason's parties had to be the equivalent of the parties the popular kids in high school used to throw and somehow forgot to invite Haley, but now she was about to rectify all that.

Maybe not, she thought, worrying her bottom lip as she looked down at the overflowing plate of brownies. She was going to look so stupid bringing brownies to a kegger. Figuring that probably no one heard her knocking over the loud music, she decided a quick stop at a package store was in order. She was just about to make her escape when the door opened.

"What do you want?" the woman glaring at her demanded. Haley frowned as she quickly took in the woman's sleek black hair, perfect features touched up by flawless make-up and the killer short dress and decided that she was severely underdressed for this party in her jeans and baby pink Yankees long sleeve tee-shirt.

Haley opened her mouth to make an excuse so she could leave, knowing she was in way over her head here when the woman snorted.

"You're the next door neighbor," the woman said, sounding amused. "What do you want?" Her eyes narrowed on the plate in Haley's hands.

"I just-"

"Amy, who is it?" Jason's voice came from somewhere behind the woman apparently named Amy.

Amy rolled her eyes. "It's just your neighbor dropping off brownies." She reached forward to take the plate from Haley. "I'll just take them so she can g-"

"Brownies?" Jason said, suddenly filling the door, causing Amy to stumble back and out of the way.

"Hey!" Amy snapped, but Jason didn't seem to hear her. His eyes were glued to the plate.

"Are those," he noticeably swallowed, "brownies covered in peanut butter frosting?"

Did he just whimper?

"They're chocolate chunk fudge brownies with peanut butter frosting," she clarified automatically as her eyes caught the murderous glare Amy was sending her way. She was just about to hand the plate over to Jason and leave when everything in her stilled.

After last night she was through with getting pushed around and intimidated. She was sick of missing out on things because she was too scared to do anything about it. She was a grown woman, damn it, and if she wanted to party it up at her first kegger then she was damn well going to do it and she was going to have fun doing it. Even if it killed her, and judging by the mascara glare being sent her way that was a good possibility.

"Let me just take those off your hands so you can grab yourself a beer," Jason said, taking the plate from her, gazing down at it lovingly as he stepped back inside the house, leaving Haley to follow him.

"Hey, those look good! Can I have one?" a man she'd seen hundreds of times around Jason's house asked, reaching out to take one.

"Back the f**k off! She brought them for me, you bastard!" Jason snapped.

Haley automatically took an anxious step back, fearing getting caught in the middle of the fight that was most definitely about to happen. But instead of yelling at Jason or getting mad like she'd seen a lot of guys do in bars over less the man just rolled his eyes and turned his attention to her.

"Hi, my name is Brad," he said, holding out his hand.

After only a slight hesitation, she hoped he hadn't noticed, she took a step forward and shook his hand. "Haley."

"Haley, it's nice to meet you," he said with a charming smile. "I apologize for my friend's rudeness, he just learned how to walk upright last year," he said dryly, earning a soft chuckle from her and most everyone around them.

Jason threw him a dirty look before making his way towards the kitchen, making sure to glare at anyone that came within touching distance of the brownies.

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.

"No."

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