Behind The Madness

 

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Prologue

“What in the hell were you thinking, Jaiden?” Aiden Grayson, quite angrily and rightfully so, snapped at his teenaged son aka the much younger version of himself while pulling out of the almost empty parking lot of their towns local police station.

The last time that Aiden had been to a place like this had been in his late twenties thanks to him having been caught up in a very messy dispute with a crazed stalker. This time, though, he wasn’t visiting the Lincoln County Police Station at midnight on a Saturday - after pulling some strings thanks to his name and hefty bank account - because of an incident that he personally was involved in; rather, he was here to pick up his out-of-control son, Jaiden Grayson.

He’s young, wild, and careless - the typical teenage boy in this day and age. He just turned eighteen today and after having spent the whole day out with his friends doing whatever it is that rich teens do, once the day wound down, he made the stupid mistake in trying to drive himself home; cue his reckless driving on the road and insert a cop that’d been out doing his job of patrolling the streets and you’ve got yourself a hot mess of an arrest.

Luckily for Jaiden, this is his first offense and carrying the last name that he has, on top of who his father is, he can easily get this wiped off of his record as if it never even happened. However, for Aiden, it’s going to take more than an ‘I’m sorry, I promise that I won’t ever do it again’ for him to let this night go.

“Driving drunk isn’t only against the law, but news flash, it’s dangerous as shit!” Aiden sighed in disappointment, practically trembling with anger as he and Jaiden made their way home. “I just can’t believe what happened. I mean really, what were you thinking?”

“Wait, what about my car?” Jaiden asked in a somber tone, looking out the window of the SUV, completely ignoring his father’s question. “We’re just gonna leave it at the police station?”

“You’re damn right we are,” Aiden muttered, rolling his eyes. “You can come back for it in the morning after you’ve gone home and sobered up. Be lucky that you’re even getting it back because what I oughta do is take it down to Buddy’s Junk Yard and get it smashed to bits.”

“For what?!” Jaiden exclaimed.

“To teach your irresponsible ass a lesson,” Aiden shouted, knowing that he should try and save his breath because after he got Jaiden home, Julian - Jaiden’s other parent, would also get a chance to have it out with their stubborn mule of a child. “You could’ve gotten yourself killed tonight. You are aware of that, aren’t you? You could’ve died tonight, Jaiden. You or someone else could’ve gotten killed, on your eighteenth birthday of all days, and because of what? Why? Because you went out, had one too many drinks and then stupidly decided to get behind the wheel of a car to drive yourself home - drunk? Some excuse that is.”

“Look, I’ve already apologized, okay? I’m truly sorry for what I did. I can’t go and take it all back, so can we move on from it or what?” Jaiden murmured, sliding down in the passenger seat of his father’s fancy Range Rover.

He was honestly too drunk to care about what Aiden was preaching. He’d say whatever he had to in order to get him to stop talking because all that he wanted most of all right now was to go home and go to bed; not get bitched at for having made - what he thought was - a simple mistake.

“When I called you to tell you why I wouldn’t make it home tonight, I told you that you didn’t have to come down to bail me out,” Jaiden said. “I could’ve spent the night in jail. I could’ve—”

“Stop talking,” Aiden cut him off. “You’re drunk, you’re not making any sense and quite frankly, you sound dumber than a sack of rocks because your privileged ass wouldn’t last five hours in jail, let alone a day so just stop it, Jaiden. Cut the bullshit.”

“What more do you want from me, huh?” Jaiden, embarrassed by having got the cold hard truth thrown in his pretty little face, sat up in his seat and looked over at his father after they stopped at a red light. “What else do you want me to do?”

Sometimes, when looking so closely at his father like what he was doing right now, it scared Jaiden to see just how much two of them looked alike. It was as if he were looking at a much older version of himself.

He and Aiden were both the same height, they both had the same athletic build, the same bright green eyes, dark brown hair, the same beautifully constructed facial features, and they even had the same stubborn ass attitude. They could almost pass as twins, if only Aiden had still been in his twenties.

On the outside, the two were almost the same.

On the inside, it was a completely different story.

“I went out and had fun,” Jaiden continued. “I partied with my friends. I drank a little bit and then I tried to drive myself home. I got busted by the pigs, called you, and then you came down here to bail me out on your own accord. I apologized plenty of times for what I did. So what else am I supposed to do? How do I fix this? What more do you want from me?”

“I want you to wake up and smell the fucking roses, Jaiden!” Aiden scowled at his son, feeling the need to reach over and slap him upside the head. Had the light not turned green, he probably would have. “I want you to stop taking life for a joke because after all the crazy shit you’ve pulled over the years, with the rate that you’re going at it, you’ll be dead before you hit twenty-five and God knows that I don’t ever want that to happen... but, it will, if you don’t change your ways.”

“I hear you, dad,” Jaiden whispered, calming down a little after Aiden royally scolded his ass.

“No, I don’t think you do,” Aiden replied, no longer yelling. “I’m not telling you all of this because I’m your father and it’s what I think you need to hear. I’m telling you all of this because I’m speaking from experience, son. I used to be just like you, only I was ten times worse. I’ve been close to death numerous times in the past, all because of having done some stupid crap that I shouldn’t have been doing. The path that I was on, the one that you’re on right now, lead me to a very dark place that was bound to consume me whole if I didn’t change.”

“So how did you get out of it?” Jaiden asked, curious. “That dark place, I mean.”

“I met your father,” Aiden smiled, thinking about his handsome lover and husband. “It sounds corny, I know. But it’s the truth. I was the bad, he was the good. And after we got together... I don’t know, things just finally started to make sense to me. Julian made me see things in such a different light that it changed my entire outlook on life. Ultimately, he saved me from myself, just in the nick of time.”

“Oh God, I think I’m going to be sick,” Jaiden gagged. Aiden laughed, thinking that his son was only teasing but he actually wasn’t this time. “I’m not kidding, dad. You’ve got to pull over right now. I need to throw up.”

“Ah, shit! Not in my fucking car,” Aiden quickly put on his turn signal - not like he needed to because there weren’t many cars out on the road tonight - and smoothly pulled off onto the side of the road and parked.

Jaiden immediately undid his seatbelt, threw open his door, and then leaned halfway out of the car so that he could vomit his brains out.

Aiden could do nothing during that time but shake his head in displeasure. Had this been Jaiden’s first major offense with him, he’d probably give him a break. But that wasn’t the case. Jaiden’s been raising hell for him and Julian ever since he was fifteen years old.

Unlike his pristine sister, Jaiden was the rebellious type. He’s outspoken, straightforward, always says whatever is on his mind and he hated being told what to do. He was, simply put, just like his biological father, Aiden - or rather, he’s like what his father used to be. And because of that, Aiden couldn’t help but feel like this was the universe’s way of getting back at him.

Growing up, Aiden had been a bit of a hell-raiser with his own dad - always lashing out, being foul-mouthed and just downright disrespectful at times towards the man who, half-assed, raised him. So with all this drama that’s currently going down right now with his own son, it can’t be anything other than karma coming back around to bite Aiden in the ass.

“Alright, I’m finished.” Jaiden wiped his mouth with the hem of his shirt after finishing his business and shutting the door to the car. “We can go now.”

“No, we’re not going anywhere until you get it through that thick skull of yours that it’s time for you to grow up and act more of your age and less like an ill-bred child,” Aiden said in a stern tone. “You’re not a little kid anymore, son. You’re a grown man, so it’s time you start acting like it. That’s all I’m saying. And before you go to calling me a boring old man who doesn’t know anything, just hear me out, okay?”

“I’m listening,” Jaiden sighed, feeling tired as hell but mostly agitated, as he looked over at his father. The expression on Aiden’s face right now matched the gloomy look that’s floating around in his green eyes; the look was a mixture of discontent, pity, and sadness. It was a look that, by now, Jaiden was used to. “Go on, let me have it. Let’s get round one over and done with now because I know Jules is gonna finish the job and tear my head off when we get home.”

That was the truth, both he and Aiden knew it.

“I’m just trying to get it across to you that you can go out and have as much fun as you want. At the end of the day, it’s your life. I can’t tell you what to do forever,” Aiden went on. “And I’m not knocking you for having gone out tonight to celebrate your birthday either. I don’t have a problem with that. Rather, the biggest issue that I have with you is how you handle yourself whenever you do go out to ‘have a good time’, especially when you get around others that are bad influences; like that little piece of shit, Adam.”

“What’s wrong with Adam?” Jaiden chuckled, already knowing the answer. “You hate him so much but you can’t ever give me a good reason for why. I mean, you don’t even really know him, dad. He’s not a bad guy. He’s just… misunderstood.”

“Yeah, and the sky is blue. Grass is green, and water is wet, tell me what’s new? Everyone’s a little misunderstood, so I don’t even want to hear that cliche bullshit,” Aiden replied. “Like I was saying, Julian and I aren’t always going to be here to watch over you. We’re not always going to be here when you need help, money, or like tonight, a get out of jail free card. So, you’ve got to start taking more responsibility for your actions, son. I completely get that right now is a time for you to live it up and party, be carefree, make mistakes and all that other exciting shit but you can’t play life like it’s some big game because it’s not. I used to have that same mentality and it almost cost me my life. I don’t want you to get your wake-up call when you’re inches away from knocking on death’s door. That’s how –”

“I get it, dad,” Jaiden reached over the armrest inside the car and placed a hand on his father’s shoulder. He gave Aiden a sincere smile, silently letting him know that he heard and processed everything he said to him tonight. “I love you, and I appreciate everything that you’ve said and have done for me, not just for tonight but for every day that I’ve been alive. I hear what you’re saying and you’re absolutely right about it all - I do need to do better for myself. And whether or not you see it, I’ve been trying. Yeah, I’ll fuck up every now and then but just know that I’m trying to do better; I’m making an effort. I’m working on myself but I’m not going to change overnight. So, I don’t know, don’t give up on me...not yet.”

“I’ll never give up on you, son,” Aiden leaned over the armrest to give his troubled son a hug. As much as Jaiden pissed him off, and gave him more gray hairs than he cared for, he couldn’t ever give up on him. Aiden knew that blood ran thicker than water; he knew that you don’t ever give up on family, especially not your own children. “You don’t ever have to worry about that happening; now, what you should be concerned about is what you plan on doing with the rest of your life after I kick your I-like-to-drink-and-drive ass out of my house this fall.”

“Damn, it’s like that?” Jaiden pulled away from their embrace and laughed, unoffended. He’d known for a while now that his free room and board at his parent’s house was coming to an end soon. His sister was already out in the world doing her own thing, which left him behind...wandering around his dad’s mansion with nothing to do and no one to annoy. “I know I already registered but can’t I put college on the backburner and hang out with you and dad for a couple more years?”

Aiden shook his head, smiling. He then put the car in drive and took off down the road, feeling partially satisfied with the way that his and Jaiden’s talk had ended. A part of him was already over what had happened tonight, but there was another side to him that was hesitant in letting his son get off so easily because he couldn’t tell if Jaiden had truly gotten his message or not.

But once they get home and after Julian says what he has to say to Jaiden, Aiden could only hope that Jaiden will want to do better for himself because if not...well, there wasn’t much else that Aiden and Julian could do.

Like the old saying goes, you can’t help those that don’t want to be helped.

“You’ll miss me when I’m gone,” Jaiden smirked, laying all the way back in his seat, getting comfortable enough to take a much-needed nap. “You and dad will get empty nest syndrome or some shit like that and when you do, you’ll be calling Aliana and me, begging us to come back home.”

“I bet you a thousand dollars that won’t ever happen,” Aiden teased. “I’ve been seeking silence in my house for the last eighteen years. And don’t get me wrong, I love you and your sister to death, but once you leave the nest to go out into the world to be all on your own, know that it definitely won’t be sorrow that I feel when I see you pull out of my driveway with all of your junk.”

“Whatever old man,” Jaiden yawned, shutting his eyes, while slowly drifting off into a heavy state of unconsciousness. “You’ll be calling for me. I know you will.”

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Chapter 1: Always Knock First

2 Years LATER

Friday Afternoon

Instead of being at the university's library with the study group he'd been forced to be a part of thanks to some stupid class project, the ever so irresponsible Jaiden Grayson was currently in his dorm room getting a blowjob from his crazy on again/off again ex-girlfriend, Mya Davis.

"Keep going, baby. You're doing great and... Fuck, I'm almost there," Jaiden moaned with a smile on his face while resting his head against the back of the chair that he was sitting in. His hands were tangled in the sultry young woman's long black hair, gently guiding her head back and forth on his lap. "Holy shit, I'm gonna cum, Mya..."

Mya Louise Davis, one of Jaiden's best friend's and also ex-girlfriend, moaned with him still in her mouth as she sat kneeled on the ground in front of him. After doing that famous little thing with her tongue, it didn't take much longer after that for Jaiden to finally come undone, quite literally, in her mouth. 

After that was all said and done, just as Mya stood and pulled up her mini-skirt in order to straddle Jaiden on the chair, the door to the room opened and they both got exposed.

"Ugh! Didn't anyone ever teach you how to knock before entering an obviously occupied room, nerd?" Mya exclaimed in frustration while her eyes shot invisible daggers at Mason Cole - Jaiden's other best friend since middle school - as he stood in the doorway of the room with a surprised expression on his face. "What the fuck are you even doing here anyway? Don't you have some lame after school function to attend?" 

Mya straightened out her fitted crop top and made a move to pull her skirt down. She then coolly gathered up her pink panties from off the floor, along with Jaiden's t-shirt which she tossed at him. He slid it on with a quickness. 

"Wipe that weird look off your face, nerd," Mya said to Mason. "Jesus Christ, you're acting like you've never seen a pussy before."

"Chill, Mya." Jaiden finished zipping up his pants, looking over at Mason with an apologetic expression. "We've been over this a hundred times, Mase. When the door to the room is locked, knock first before barging in! Otherwise, you're probably gonna see some shit that you never wanted to see."

"You two disgust me," Mason muttered, displeased. Once he found the nerve to move, he stepped into the room, later slamming the door behind him while eyeing Mya in disgust and giving Jaiden a look of utter disappointment. 

Since day one, Mason couldn't stand the two of them together, Jaiden and Mya. He wished that neither of them had ever met her. The hate for her, in regards to Mason, was way too real. He deemed Mya as a 'bad influence' on Jaiden - who was reckless enough all on his own - due to her careless behavior, selfish attitude, and marijuana addiction.

When she and Jaiden officially broke up about three months back (claiming they worked out better as friends), Mason literally threw Jaiden a small party to celebrate it; that's just how much he despises Mya Davis - with an intense, hella fiery passion.

"First things first, I shouldn't have to knock when the door is locked because I have a key; that means that I can come and go as I please," Mason declared. "After all, this is my dorm room too! Or have you two forgotten about that?"

"Look here, loser. Is there something that we can help you out with or what?" Mya swung her waist-length box braids over her shoulder, giving Mason a sassy neck roll at the same time because she already knew how Mason felt about her and the feeling was mutual. "If not, can you kindly get the hell out of here? Because Jay and I would like to finish what we started, or shall I say, what you so very rudely barged in on and interrupted."

"Okay, that's it! Why the fuck is she over here, dude?" Mason glared at Jaiden, all while completely ignoring Mya as he stomped over to his side of the room, plopping down on his bed while proceeding to unload his backpack because unlike his lazy best friend, he actually cared about his studies. "Honestly, I don't know why you keep bringing her over here when you already know how I feel about her, Jaiden."

"Fucking hell, can we please not go through this right now?" Jaiden sighed, suddenly feeling annoyed while taking a hand to run it through his tousled dark brown hair. 

After taking another minute to gather his scattered thoughts, he eventually grabbed Mya by the hand and started to lead her over to the door while whispering to her low enough to where Mason couldn't hear. 

"Listen, I really hate to cut this short but he's obviously not leaving anytime soon," Jaiden said. "As for me, I have some things that I need to stay behind and handle before we can hang out, so... you know, I'll catch up with you later, okay?"

Please don't put up a fight with me, Jaiden thought.Do us all a favor and turn around to leave peacefully...

The very second that Mason came barging into the room, Mya already knew that something like this would happen - that Jaiden would wind up shipping her off. She wasn't even pissed that Jaiden was sending her packing like she was some cheap piece of ass; rather, she was upset because he got to get off in her mouth while she's yet to get anything back in return!

"Fine! I'll catch you later, but don't forget about what I told you earlier. Cassandra Clare is throwing that party tonight off campus at her parent's house since they're out of town for the weekend," Mya informed Jaiden. "Pretty much everyone will be there, myself included, so that means your ass better show up because you owe me for sucking you-"

"I'll be there! Don't worry." Jaiden cut her off, chuckling. "I'll pay you back, I swear." 

He leaned down to kiss her, briefly. And before turning to leave, Mya tucked her panties into the pocket of his jeans. He winked at her before she left. As soon as Jaiden shut the door behind her, Mason started off on a rant about how bad things always happen when he and Mya link up. 

"I'm going to the party whether you like it or not," Jaiden told him. "If you want to tag along to babysit me or whatever, you're more than welcome to. Otherwise, save your breath in trying to talk me out of going and that's the end of that discussion."

"Wow. You know, I just don't get you sometimes," Mason scoffed, shaking his head. "You and Mya have been separated for almost four months, Jaiden! Why haven't the hell you moved on from her? What is it that's holding you back? Better yet, why do you keep going back to her when you don't really want to even be with her? Like, I don't get it! Please, enlighten me, because I'd love to know why you can't seem to leave her alone... permanently."

"Mason, you've gotta understand something, okay? I still have a lot of love for Mya," Jaiden replied calmly, though still feeling partially annoyed because Mya was still the topic of their conversation. "We have a long history together; one that can't be erased overnight and even though we didn't work out as a couple, we work out well as friends, which is what we are right now - just friends. So, if you really must know, that's why I haven't completely cut her out of my life. Because although we may not be together as a couple, we're still very good friends."

"Where I come from, friends don't give other friends random blowjobs in their dorm rooms," Mason replied in a flat tone.

"So we're friends with benefits, damn it. What more do you want from me?" Jaiden rolled his eyes, laughing. "Are we done talking about Mya now? Because she just told me that Cassandra chick is throwing a party tonight and I'd like to know if you'd want to go with me."

"That'll be a hell to the no," Mason declined. "I have a big history test to study for."

"Ooh, my God! Your head is always in some book! Why don't you take a break and step away from all that and come hang out with me tonight?" Jaiden walked over to Mason's bed and grabbed the thick textbook that he'd been holding. He closed it and tossed it down to the other end of the bed. Mason started to protest but Jaiden cut him off by saying, "Just hear me out - I'll show you how to let loose and live a little, and if it'll help, I'll try to keep Mya out of your way for the whole time that we're there. How's that sound?"

"Like a load of bull," Mason chuckled, waving him off. "I don't even know why you're asking me to go because you know how I feel about these things."

"Yeah, yeah. I know you're not that big of a partier but whatever, I don't want to hear any of that today because your scary ass is coming to that party with me even if I have to drag you out of here by that shaggy ass hair of yours," Jaiden teased, ruffling Mason's hair. "One of these days, I'm gonna pull you out of that damn shell that you live in and when that finally happens, when you finally see just how much you've been missing out on, you'll thank me. I assure you."

"Such a smooth talker..." Mason smirked, rolling his eyes.

He couldn't lie in saying that Jaiden didn't have a point because he most certainly does live in a shell; one that'd been created by his own mind in hopes of shielding him from any and everything bad. 

Mason knew that he needed to cast his shyness aside and become a little more extroverted, like Jaiden. And there wasn't anything wrong, per se, with being an introvert; however, at the same time, Mason's reserved persona and overall nervousness of the world - and of having to actually interact with people in general - seriously held him back in life.

There's been so much that he's missed out on and it's all because he'd been used to being such a recluse. But if he could, he'd most certainly be more open and social, if only he had the nerve.

Which is where Jaiden comes in...

Where Mason taught him how to be more chill and laid-back, Jaiden was trying - little by little - to help Mason break out of his 'shell' to hopefully have him be more outgoing and social.

"You must think you're so suave don't you?" Mason asked.

"Well, I don't want to toot my own horn but many folks have said that I have a fascinating way with words," Jaiden joked, later taking a seat on the bed. "So, will you come to the party with me or what? I'm not taking no for an answer, so you might as well give in and tell me yes."

"I'll go," Mason surrendered without a fight. "But I'll only go on one condition."

"Really, there's a catch?" Jaiden sighed. Mason nodded, smiling mischievously. "What's the condition?"

"I'll go to this stupid party with you if you promise to meet my friend. So, yes, consider this a blind date," Mason concluded. "I've been waiting for the right moment to bring this to you, but I really think you'll like him, Jaiden. He's nothing like Mya, and by that, I mean he's actually a good, decent person. Plus, knowing him and you, I can say with assurance that you two have somuch in common and honestly, I think he'll be a positive influence on you because Lord knows that you need some of that in your life right now - positivity."

"Keep on trash talking me and I'll have no choice but to drag you off this bed and beat your ass." Jaiden playfully threatened. "Anyway, I'm listening. Tell me more about this friend of yours. What does he look like? Is he short or tall? Does he like sports? What's his shoe size? I mean, you know what they say about men with big feet..."

"His name is Freddie, he's twenty years old, he goes to school here, and that's all I'm giving away," Mason said. "If you promise to meet him, I'll go to that party with you."

It didn't take Jaiden but a second to make his decision.

"I'm not really one for blind dates, but fuck it. We've all got to try everything at least once, right?" Jaiden muttered, thinking nothing of the sticky situation that he just got himself into. "Well, set it up and let me know when, where, and what time we're supposed to meet, and I promise I'll do my best to woo this Freddie guy. And he'd better be hot or else you and I are gonna have some problems.”

"You'll like him." Mason grinned brightly. "I'm sure of it."

"Whatever," Jaiden smirked, getting the last word in before standing up to leave the room. "We shall see, my friend."

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Chapter 2: Party Hard

Later That Night (Friday Still)

"I'm starting to think that agreeing to come here might've been a terrible idea for me," Mason mutters nervously as he and Jaiden enter Cassandra Clare's mansion-like home. "I'm so far out of my comfort zone right now that it isn't even funny."

Mason Cole didn't only have trouble fitting in with his age group due to his introverted personality, but he also, occasionally, had trouble in fitting in with them visually. Tonight, dressed in a crisp pair of khaki pants paired with a solid white shirt and white Nike's on his feet, he looked more like he was ready for a job interview vs a college party.

Jaiden - wearing a pair of ripped black skinny jeans with a red and black plaid shirt and a brand new pair of Chuck Taylor's - kept all comments to himself in regards to his friend's basic attire. 

The fact that Mason had even agreed to come out with him tonight meant a lot, so Jaiden didn't want to push him too hard by talking shit about his clothes and making him feel insecure. 

"Just hang close to me and you'll be fine," Jaiden replied as he hooked an arm around Mason's, keeping him close so that they wouldn't get separated as he pushed and shoved their way through the thick crowd of people inside the house. 

Jaiden was looking for the bar; he figured a couple shots would be all it'd take to loosen Mason up, that is if he was willing to drink anything tonight. 

"As long as I'm around," Jaiden said. "No one's going to fuck with you, I promise."

"You're not invincible, Jay. You know that, right?" Mason had to shout over the loud music playing. "You can't fend off everyone."

Looking around at all the messy women and men, all the uppity people who only came out here to stand up against a wall and secretly talk shit about everyone else, Mason tried to figure out how any of this was considered fun. His definition of the word and Jaiden's were two totally different things, or so it seemed. 

"Maybe not, but I can damn well try," Jaiden smirked, but there was a part of him that seriously believed that he could take on the world if need be.

That inflated sense of cockiness had come from no one other than his father, Aiden Grayson. 

"Finally! I didn't think I'd ever be able to get a drink around here," Jaiden exclaimed after finding the bar. Much to his surprise, there was an actual bartender standing behind it. Apparently, Cassandra had gone all out for this party, trying her hardest to impress her guests. "I'll have a round of shots, please."

"Coming right up," the handsome blue-eyed bartender replied, giving Jaiden a wink, letting him know what team he bats for. 

Jaiden smiled back in response, more than happy to get his flirt on. The older man was in his late twenties, tatted up, and muscular in all the right places - he was totally Jaiden's type. And as the two eye-fucked one another, Mason could do nothing but shake his head and sigh in response. 

"For you, cutie," the bartender announced moments later, passing Jaiden his order. "Enjoy."

"I most certainly will," Jaiden replied with a mischievous smirk, taking one shot straight to the head, making it look easy. He then passed Mason one, but the bashful bookworm politely declined. "Listen here, Mase. If I have to go on a blind date with one of your dweeb friends, completely putting all my trust in you along with placing my already damaged heart in your hands, the least you can do is have a shot with me tonight."

"I don't do well with being peer pressured." Mason glared at his friend, giving Jaiden a disapproving look. "Secondly, Freddie isn't a dweeb, so watch your mouth and stop talking like Mya. It's annoying, like she's here when she isn't."

"I didn't mean anything by it, Mase. Sorry." Jaiden playfully nudged Mason in the side. "But since you want to be a stick in the mud, how about we do this instead: if by the end of the next hour you're not having even the tiniest bit of fun, you can leave the party. And don't even worry about whats-his-face, I'll keep up my end of the deal we made and will still see your friend."

"Really?" Mason asked.

"Yes, really." Jaiden nodded, taking another shot. "I won't back out, but it'd be nice if you could put a little effort into letting loose and trying to enjoy yourself. I know this isn't much of your 'scene' but it's all in how you make it into being your scene. I just... I just want the best for you, man. Being holed up in that dorm or the library all the time isn't healthy. You need some human interaction every now and then."

"You're right," Mason confessed with a heavy sigh, staring down at one of Jaiden's shots on the bar. He reached out for one of the tiny glasses and placed it up to his nose, smelling it. He made a funny face afterward and Jaiden laughed. "Alright, I'll give this party a chance, but I can't do the alcohol. The last time I drank..."

"Yeah, I remember how that night ended." Jaiden chuckled, later turning to pull Mason in for a hug. "Thanks for giving this a try. I appreciate it."

"Yeah, whatever," Mason muttered, feeling even more anxious than before now that he's made up his mind about staying. "Just don't make me regret this."

. . .

Hours Later

After linking up with Mya later in the night, and having drunk more than what he should have, Jaiden's rowdy and obnoxious alter ego has since emerged and come out to play. 

Mason paid neither Mya nor his intoxicated friend any mind and it's all because he'd been too busy hanging out and conversing with Kelsey; a cute, newly single English major. Mason didn't think he'd come here tonight and have any real fun, let alone meet someone he'd be interested in. 

Kelsey Reynolds proved him wrong in both ways.

"Does your friend always take his shirt off and run around screaming at parties? He kind of looks like a nutcase right now, no offense," Kelsey said to Mason, talking about Jaiden. The small crowd around him cheered him on, encouraging him to act a fool while she and Mason sat on a couch on the opposite side of the room, not bothering anyone. "Should we be concerned?"

"Nah. That's just Jaiden being Jaiden. He'll tire himself out in a few minutes," Mason replied, looking over at the pretty blonde sitting next to him. 

They locked eyes, and both smiled at each other. Mason, blushing, had never been good at talking to the opposite sex, especially when they were as beautiful as Kelsey. Had it not been for her having come up to him first, he probably wouldn't be in the wonderful predicament that he's in now. 

"So, it's getting late and I'll be heading out soon with Jaiden," Mason said. "But I wanted to tell you before I left that I really enjoyed our time together tonight."

"Same here." Kelsey blushed this time, wanting desperately to lean over and kiss the hot guy she befriended at a party that she almost didn't make it out to tonight. "I had a lot of fun talking with you."

Kissing Mason, though - due to the fear of possibly getting rejected - was something that she just didn't have the courage to do. Still, she was internally praying that Mason would mention something about wanting to see her again. If not, she'd be beyond crushed and embarrassed. 

"I hope I'm not being too forward, but I'd really like to hang out with you again, Kelsey. Maybe we can exchange numbers or something and keep in touch?" Mason suggested. "If that's cool with you."

"Oh, for sure! Totally fine." Kelsey smiled brightly, feeling good that he appeared to be into her after all. They whipped out their phones and hurriedly traded numbers. "I won't lie, I'll be pissed to not ever hear from you after this."

"Trust me, I'm not that type of guy. I'll call you, I promise." Mason chuckled, and seemingly within an instant, his and Kelsey's conversation hits a screeching halt after Jaiden comes crashing in between them, literally. Kelsey gets shoved off to the other end of the couch while Jaiden lands on Mason's lap, looking completely shitfaced. "Bro! What the hell!?"

"Oh, no! I'm so sorry, buddy," Jaiden muttered, his words slurred. Not long after he came crashing over here is when Mya appeared; she was never too far behind him. As she tried her best to help Jaiden get up and, on his feet,, it's then for when Mason noticed his black eye. "I'm okay," Jaiden smiled lazily, having noticed Mason staring at his eye. "I just got into a little altercation with this—"

"Asshole," Mya cut him off, later saying to Mason, "No need to worry, nerd. Jaiden's fine. He won the fight, as he always does."

"Are you serious? He's not fine! Just look at his freaking eye!" Mason shouted, standing up from the couch to pull Jaiden away from Mya. He was like a rag doll in between them, going wherever he was pulled. 

Mya rolled her eyes at Mason freaking out while Kelsey had since wandered off, making sure to get herself as far away from the three of them as she could. Drama is what she sought to always avoid, and from the looks of Mya and Jaiden, that's all she saw radiating around them. Mason had been so caught up in babying Jaiden that he hadn't even noticed her absence. 

"Where's the rest of his shit?" Mason asked Mya. "His shirt, wallet, keys, and phone? Because we're leaving."

"Ugh you're such a buzzkill," Mya snapped. "His things are upstairs if you must know; the first bedroom on the right and if I were you, I wouldn't linger on the bed for too long. We kind of made a mess in that room."

"You two are so disgusting together." Mason shook his head in disappointment.

"And you're going to die a virgin," Mya shot back. "Now what, loser?"

"Stop fighting," Jaiden whispered, clinging to Mason. "I want to go home, Mase. I don't feel so good."

The nasty burp he let out backed up that statement. 

"I swear you'd better not—" Mason started but didn't get to finish due to Jaiden having stepped back to vomit all over his shoes. "Goddamn it! I'm going to murder you, Jaiden!"

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Chapter 3: A Challenge

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Chapter 4: Crush On You

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Chapter 5: Busted

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Chapter 6: Show and Tell

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Chapter 7: Give It A Rest

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Chapter 8: Date Night (Gone Wrong)

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Chapter 9: His Protector

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Chapter 10: Drunk

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Chapter 11: I Choose You

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Chapter 12: Far From Tired (Mature)

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Chapter 13: Shoot Your Shot

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Chapter 14: The Parents

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~

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