“There is no way that I’m letting Matthew fuckboy Martin anywhere near my sister.
” Lucas said to his best friend. Liam had just been trying to forget the way Matt had brushed Sofi’s hair out of her face. How she had looked at him like he was her whole world. He didn’t want to talk about it any longer, but he knew it would be the only thing on Luke’s mind.

“You can’t really keep him away from her.
She’s too stubborn.” He found himself with a smile on his face when he thought of her adamantly insisting that Lucas didn’t control her. Liam quickly wiped the smile off of his face when he saw Lucas looking at him questioningly.

“Look, there he is. That little asshole. He just wants to sleep with her.” Lucas turned his attention to Sofia’s locker, not far from Luke’s and Liaml’s lockers. Liam watched with concerned interest as Matthew walked up to Sofia, his signature smile set on his face. He saw Sofi turned toward him, talking to him about God knows what. 

“He invited her to his party. Personally.” he informed Luke. Lucas didn’t take his eyes off of Sofia, but his jaw clenched and his eyes hardened even more.

“No fucking way am I let her to that party.

Liam kept staring at Sofia.
He had always thought that she was pretty. With her long, thick, wavy black hair that reached her chest and her big brown eyes always accentuated by her long eyelashes and her lips always turned in a smile. Today, she looked especially pretty. She was wearing an army green crop top and light blue ripped jeans. Liam had always seen her as a  sister, but lately he’s found himself drawn to her contagious laugh and her innate stubbornness. He swallowed those thoughts and turned his attention back to Lucas.

“You know you can’t keep her from it.
But we’ll watch out for her. You know I’ll do anything to protect her.” Liam said. Lucas looked at him questioningly again, but he had nothing to say.

“She’s your sister.
She’s… like my little sister.” he explained. Lucas looked relieved.

“Thanks, dude.
Listen, you have the next class with her right? Pre-Calculus? Can you talk to her?

“Yeha, man.
I’ll try.” Liam was nervous. For no reason. He talked to Sofia all of time. But, for reasons he could not explain, he was practically shaking when he walked into math class. They didn’t have assigned seating, and it was only the second day of school, so it was acceptable to sit next to Sofia.

“Hey, Sof.
” he said, feigning confidence.

“Hey, Liam What’s up?
” she asked. She was looking at him with wonder, and, not for the first time, he felt his heart beat faster.


“Lucas wants you to talk to me about Matt.
Of course. Because you’re his little messenger.” she said with a roll of her eyes. Liam pretended not to be stung. He pasted on a confident smirk.

“I’m not his ‘little messenger’, gorgeous.
I just care about you.” he said. He didn’t realize the nickname until she pointed it out.

“Did you just call me gorgeous?
And admit that you care about me? Aw, is little Will in love with me?” Sofia asked, taking over the confident smirk. Liam inhaled slightly, but didn’t let it show. This was a game of chicken. And he wasn’t about to lose. He pretended like he didn’t love when she called him Will. He pretended like he wasn’t freaking out because her insinuation of him loving her wasn’t seeming too far off right now.

“Did you just call me Will?
” he asked. Her gaze didn’t waver. She didn’t blush. Liam loved that about her. He hated when she fawned all over Matt, cheeks pink and trying to hide her face. 

“Please, you know you love it.

“Actually, it kinda reminds of when you were four and you always followed me around. You were so
annoying back then.
Your cheeks were all chubby and you were always running around with some kind of
mud or dirt on you.
” he said lovingly. He meant for it to come out teasingly; he didn’t prepare for it to
come out like he was recounting a fond memory with his favorite girl.
Which, he supposed, was exactly
what was happening.

“You loved me back then!
I thought you were so cool when you started kindergarten. You made so many
friends, but you kept going back to my house.
I used to hope it was because we were friends.” she laughed
at the thought.
Liam’s heart ached, but he didn’t know why. 

“You were my friend.
You are my friend.” he said sheepishly. Sofia looked at him, a small smile on her face.
“Well that’s good.
Because I’ve always considered you to be my friend, too.” she said with no second
Liam smiled. 

“I know I can’t keep you from Matt’s party, or Matt in general.
But just know that, as your friend, I’m gonna
protect you.
You know his reputation. I don’t want you to get hurt.” he told her, emotion filling his voice.
“You really can’t talk about reputations.
You have girls lined down the block waiting for the chance to beg
you to sleep with them.
” she said indignantly. 

“I-- Okay, but that just proves my point.
I know how guys like him are. My girls know that I’m not looking
for a relationship.
He has girlfriends. Makes them fall in love. And then he dumps them. I can’t let that
happen to you.
” he argued.

“What if I’m different?
” She was whispering now, the final bell having just rung and the teacher was about
to stand up.

“You can’t change him.
” he said sadly. He wished she could see that. He kind of wished she could change
Then, she wouldn’t get hurt, and she would be happy. But he knew she couldn’t. 

The teacher began talking about what the rest of this week would be like.
Tomorrow was already Friday,
since their first day was Wednesday, and everyone was already ready to have a weekend off.
Liam noticed that Sofia didn’t talk her eyes off of him.
Even though he could feel the glare, it still made him
feel… weird.
There was a strange feeling in his stomach, and he could feel a slight burn in his ears and
While the teacher was beginning the very first introduction into Pre-Cal, Liam began to realize that
he was, in fact, blushing.

A known fact: William King never blushed.
He had any girl he wanted, but he never let them get to him. But
one stare from a girl who was like a sister to him made him feel the heat crawl into his cheeks.

When the class was over, Liam went to rush out of the class, wanting to get away from the pretty girl who
was beginning to become more than just his best friend’s little sister.
Sofia had other ideas.She grabbed his
arm, holding him back from running away from her.

“You don’t think I’m good enough to mean something to him?

“Sofia--” Liam asked flabbergasted.

“No, seriously.
What, am I not popular enough? Not pretty enough?” she asked. He could sense the hurt in her tone. He hated when she was hurt.

“Sof, stop.
You’re the best girl I know. You’re sweet and funny and confident. And don’t even get me started on how beautiful you are. He’s just… he’s not gonna change for anyone.

Sofia was quiet for a minute, just staring at Liam with newfound interest.

“You really think I’m pretty enough for him?
” she asked. He had never heard her so self conscious. He hated it.

“Sofia Sanchez, you are hands down the most gorgeous girl I’ve ever seen.
And you’re even prettier than the ones I haven’t seen.” Liam promised. He saw Sofi’s cheeks turn a light shade of pink, and he swore he had never felt more proud of himself than in that moment.

“Will…” she started.
But Liam was already trying to close himself off. This wasn’t right, regardless of how right it felt in his heart.

“I have to go to class, Sof.
I’ll see you after school? You’ll be there at football practice, yeah?” he asked. She nodded and then blinked in surprise before he walked off quickly. He shook his head to get rid of his traitorous thoughts. Sofia was a good looking person, it was only expected for him to have some sort of attraction toward her.

It was not expected, however, for him to be unable to stop thinking about her pink lips and her presumably soft, tan skin.
The way she said his name, “Will”. God, she drove him crazy.

Lucas was in his next class.
It was hard to look at him and not see her in every one of his features. Their black hair was the same color. Their eyes, too. They had the same noses and the same smile. 

“Dude, you okay?
” Lucas asked.

“Yeah, I’m--I’m fine.
” Liam responded.

But he really wasn’t fine.

School finally got out, and Liam was practically shaking with nerves. Liam and Lucas had football practice every single school day except Friday immediately after school ended. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Sofia had soccer practice. But on Tuesdays and Thursdays, she hung out on the bleachers and watched the boys practice and did some homework. He loved teasing her about it. He loved asking her whether she did it because he was in love with him. He loved seeing her adorable angry face when she denied it. 

It was Thursday, and there Sofi was, at the top of the bleachers. But when Matthew Martin walked right up to the bleachers and started smirking at Sofia, he started to think that she did it to see Matt. He didn’t expect it to sting. He knew Sofi wasn’t in love with him. He knew that more than he knew that there was a girl who would be waiting for him tomorrow morning by his locker, a daily occurrence. But he didn’t want to think about all of Sofia’s attention being on that stage four asshole. 

Liam walked up to the bleachers, wanting to separate them in any way possible.
Practice began in five minutes, but he would be there until Matthew left.

“Hey, Sof.” he said softly, loving the jealousy rolling off of Matt at the nickname. 

” Sofia asked. He saw the surprise on her face. 

” Matthew repeated. “You call him Will?

“It’s what she used to call me when we were younger.
She was, and still is, the only person who could call me that.” Liam said sweetly, putting his arm around her.

Puedes irte?” (Can you go away?) Sofia asked.

Liam was practically the adoptive son of Sofia and Lucas’ parents, so he had grown up learning a little bit of Spanish.
He didn’t know all that their actual children knew, but he understood and spoke a few phrases. He knew this one because Sofia seemed to always be saying it to him.

Apparently, today was the day to start thinking about Sofi in a completely different way.
Because when he heard her speak those two words in the foreign language, he found it completely and irresistibly sexy. He felt himself getting incredibly turned on, and he knew that it was the worst idea for him to come up here. He stood there with his mouth open for a second, before listening to her and walking away. 

He did great at practice today, using his sexual frustration on the field.
He couldn’t stop himself from looking up at Sofi. She was biting her pen in thought, doing her homework like the good student that she was. She had straight A’s, and had already gotten a 33 on the ACT before Junior year had even started. He never normally went for smart girls, and he wondered if it was subconsciously because he knew that if he found a girl like Sofia, he couldn’t hold himself back from her.

Because he liked how smart she was.
He shook that thought away. Practice ended, and he was desperate to go home so that he could call some girl and get his frustration out. 

“How’d we do, hermanita?
” (little sister) Lucas asked.

“You both did great.
” she said suspiciously.

“Please, I saw you doing homework the whole time.
” Liam teased. Sofi shoved him playfully. 

“I had AP US history homework!
” she informed them defensively.

“This is why you should stop being a little genius.
” Liam told her. She narrowed her eyes, playfully frustrated. Liam walked up to the car, and, without thinking, he opened the passenger side door for her.

Lucas and Sofia stared from their spot a few feet away.

“Did you just… willingly give up shotgun?
” Sofia asked.

“Did you just open the door for my little sister?
” Luke asked. Liam was now mimicking a fish. His mouth was open in an ‘O’ shape and he kept looking from the door he held open, the girl he held it open for, and her brother staring angrily.

“Are you kidding me?
I opened this for me.” he lied. Straight through his teeth. And Lucas breathed a sigh of relief and Sofi rolled her eyes. And Liam wondered why he wanted her to know that he did open it for her. But he was not the romantic type. And even if he was, it was not for the little sister of the guy who was like his brother. So he sat down in the passenger seat, picking up the aux cord. He ignored Sofi’s little pokes.

“This is what you did to me allllll of yesterday.
” Sofia said laughing. He didn’t respond, but it only made her poke him more fiercely.

Would you stop that?” he asked. “Jesus fucking Christ.” He couldn’t hold the anger back. He was frustrated for the millionth time that day. And with her every time.

Chill, dude. I was just shitting around.” Sofia told him, annoyed.

“Sofia Sanchez, watch your language.
” Lucas said teasingly. “You know it’s still weird for me to hear you cuss.

“Why do people keep using my full name today!
” Sofi laughed. Liam couldn’t help but smile, both from her amazed tone and the memory of when he had called her beautiful earlier. 

“Hey, Lucas, guess what Matt told me today?

“I don’t know, Sof, but I can guess when.” Lucas answered. Sof shot him a confused look. “Oh come on, you were looking awfully cozy next to him before practice.” he teased. He was annoyed, Liam could tell, but he was hiding it okay.

“Shut up.
Anyway, he told me that Emma Frait has a little thing for you.” Sofia teased.

Lucas rolled his eyes.

“I know.
She won’t leave me alone.” he said annoyed.

Liam knew exactly what he was talking about.
It was annoying when a girl couldn’t stop trying to get with him. He didn’t like desperate. And he didn’t like Emma Frait.

Emma had previously come on to Liam the year before.
She was the type of girl to expect guys to want her, but not allow them to chase her. She was always doing the chasing. Liam had slept with her in the first semester and regretted it immediately. He had told Lucas about it, but Sofia had no idea. And he wanted to keep it that way.

“Hey, I think she’s nice.
” Sofi argued.

“Oh, geez, you’re not friends with her, are you?
” Luke asked.

“I wouldn’t call us friends, but we’re kinda acquaintances.
Why don’t you like her?” Lucas looked at Liam, and they both shook our heads.

“She’s crazy.
” Liam answered for him.

“She’s not crazy just because she likes guys and goes after him.
” she said quietly.

“She’s not like you, Sof.
You let guys come to you. You’re chill.” Lucas replied quietly. Liam agreed in his head. Sofia was nothing like Emma. Sofia was perfect.

When they got back to the house, Liam walked over to his house next door.

“You want to come over?
” he asked to no one in particular. He was asking Sofia in his head, in the ideal world. But out loud, the invitation was the two of them.

” Lucas accepted. Liam saw Sofi roll her eyes and head back toward her house, but he wanted her there.

“What, Sof?
You’re not gonna come see Allie?” Liam asked. Sofia darted her eyes to him.

“If that’s okay.
” she said shyly. Liam’s heart was mush.

“That’s okay, Sof.
She loves you.

Allison ran toward the door as soon as she heard her brother’s voice.
A was only six years old, born after Liam’s mom remarried. She was only his half sister, but he loved her like they shared the exact same blood. She looked nothing like Liam. Liam got his father’s dark, wavy hair and his mother’s navy blue eyes. Allie, however, got his mother’s light blonde hair and her dad’s green eyes. She was pale where he was tan. She didn’t even have the same last name. Liam took his father’s last name, King, and his little sister had her father’s last name, Matthews. She was almost like a little doll, and she loved Sofia with all of her heart. 

Sofi!” Allie yelled.

“Hey, Allie.
I’ve missed you. Have you gotten bigger in the past week?” Sofia asked, making Allie beam with pride.

Liam watched the encounter with soft eyes.
It was something he had always admired about Sofi; she was so incredible with the only girl, other than his mom, that had his heart. But maybe Allie and his mother weren’t the only girls with a piece of his heart, he thought. 

The Sanchez siblings spent the afternoon with Liam and his sister.
They ate some cookies that their mom had made and laughed when Allie told them that they’d spoil their dinner. When it was finally time for dinner back at the Sanchez’s, they said goodbye. The were just about to leave their house when Liam’s mom, Ava, came down the stairs.

Sofia! I’m so sorry I didn’t greet you sooner! I had a business call.” she said. Sofi went up to her and hugged her. 

Liam’s mother, the other person who had one of the only places in his heart, loved Sofia as if she was her own daughter.
She had been like a second mother to the girl. Sofi had been there when Liam’s dad died.

She had come over the day after it happened, a little nine year old, and hugged Ava tightly.
Ava had broken apart for the first time then, having not wanted to break down in front of her two boys the day before. Sofia had always been a daughter to her, but after that, she meant even more. 

And Liam never heard the end of it.
Ava wanted so desperately for them to get together, asking Liam every now and then if he had seen how pretty she was or how smart or sweet she was. He thought that it might be the reason why he had been drawn to her lately, and it made him feel better.

“Are you staying for dinner?
” Ava asked.

“Oh, I’m so sorry, Mrs.
Matthews, but we have to get home. Mamma would be angry if we missed herfamous enchiladas.” Sofi laughed

“How many times do I have to tell you, dear? My name is Ava to you.” she told her, playfully firm.

“I’m sorry… Ava.
” Sofia smiled a brilliant smile, and Liam melted into a puddle.  

When the Sanchez siblings left, Liam ignored the wink his mom gave him and the matchmaking during dinner.
After dinner, he made some excuse to go out. He called one of the girls who was a regular with him, Amanda. It was purely a friends with benefits situation, and he was grateful because Amanda didn’t care if he didn’t want anything beyond sex. 

He had to get the girl from next door out of his head.
Her beautiful black hair that looked good up and down. Her long legs that she loved to show off. The way she bit her lip when she’s shy or self conscious. Liam, all of a sudden, needed a cold shower. Amanda would have to do. He had hoped his attraction was just a fluke, a one day thing. But now he was just hoping that it was purely sexual. Because he knew she was sexy. No doubt about it. 

He loved her smirk.
The way it pulled on her lips made him want to do things to her. He loved her innocent doe eyes. How they got wide when she was surprised. He found everything about her hot. 

And he got it all out with Amanda.

They were putting their clothes back on after their night.

And he couldn't stop thinking about how disappointed Sofi would be if she saw him right now.
He wanted to make her proud.

What had he gotten himself into?

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