Matt was excited for his big party tonight.
Really excited. And while he always loved the feeling of getting drunk or high and doing stupid things with his friends, this party would be different. Because tonight, a very special girl was coming over.

Matthew met Sofia in his sophomore year.
He saw her struggle with her books, knew she was the sister of one of the most popular guys
in school, saw how pretty she was, and he went to help her.
His main goal was originally to sleep with her. But after getting to know her a little more, he was crushing. 

Known fact: Matthew Martin never crushed on anybody.
He hadn’t started liking Sofi until the second semester of last year, junior year. But ever since, he had been wanting to take her out. When he got up the nerve to ask her to one of his parties, he was unbelievably annoyed that Liam had tried to get between them. And again, when he called her Sof. And again, when he was interrupting them on the bleachers. Matt hoped, desperately hoped, he would not come tonight. 

He knew that this wish wouldn’t come true, but he really didn’t want to watch Liam hang on Sofi all night.
Liam had never admitted it to himself or anyone else, but Matt saw how he looked at the Hispanic girl. It seemed recently that it was getting harder for Liam to keep his hands, or mind, off of her.  But Matt knew none of that would matter after tonight. He had already asked Sofia out, but tonight he was going to make sure that people saw him with her.

Because people didn’t believe him when he said he could settle down one day.
Hell, before last year, he hadn’t believed it either. But after the beautiful Sanchez sister waltzed, more like tripped, into his life, he’d been different.

“So… you and Sanchez’s little sister, huh?
” one of Matt’s friends and teammates, Michael, wondered.

“Her name is Sofia.
” he clarified, slightly gritting his teeth. He didn’t like Lucas Sanchez. He always assumed he was better than Matt. He had warned Matthew plenty of times to stay away from his little sister. And yet his best friend was enamored with her and he didn’t even notice. Originally, Matt only talked to Sofi because he wanted to hurt Lucas. But soon, they became friends. And then, for him at least, that friendship
turned into romance.

You and Sofia, huh?” he repeated. Matt smiled slightly.

“Yeah, I guess.
” he proudly said.

“She’s hot.
Can I have her after you bang her?” Mike asked with a crooked grin. Matthew decided that he never wanted to punch someone more than in this moment. Even more than when Lucas was whining about not being quarterback.

Don’t say that shit about her. She’s way too good for that.” he argued, voice a growl. Mike only rolled his eyes, mumbling a “whatever” and walking away. Matt scoffed and decided to not talk to him for a while. And to keep him away from Sofi.

Two hours later and the party was in full swing.
Matt hadn’t seen Sofia yet, and he was anxious that she wouldn’t come. When he saw Lucas Sanchez’s classic smirk, he was sure Luke hadn’t let her come. But then he saw William King’s dopey grin that he only wore about the younger Sanchez sibling, and he grinned from ear to ear. He walked toward them, not yet seeing Sofia due to Liam’s height and build. 

When he finally saw her, his grin widened even more.
She looked… he was… speechless. She was wearing a tight red dress. It was conservative enough-- it was long sleeved and it didn’t show too much cleavage-- but the way it accentuated her long legs and her slim waist made his jaw drop open. She was easily the hottest girl there. And other guys had noticed as well. He saw Liam and Lucas give her a small lecture about
being safe, most likely from Matthew himself, and then they left.
He waited until she was walking towardthe kitchen, searching for a drink, to approach her.

“Hey,” he said.
He tried to get himself to tell her how lovely she looked or ask her how she was or say anything at all, but he couldn’t think straight with her so close to him. Sofia turned, smiling up at him, looking adorable.

“Hey,” she said, looking just at him.
Sofi was not a short girl, by no means. She stood at about five feet six inches (she liked to round up to seven), but Matt was so tall that she had to crane her neck to look at him. And he found it to be the cutest thing ever.  

Matt smiled again.

I’m really, really, glad you could make it.” he admitted.

“I’m happy I came too.

“So, about that date I talked about the other day?
” he reminded her. She nodded and smiled shyly and looked up at him from under her eyelashes. Good Lord, thought Matt. She was going to be the death of him. 

“I want to take you out tomorrow.
But I thought tonight, we could kinda, I don’t know, be here together.” he said nervously. His anxiety only caused her smile to grow, so much so that he thought his knees were turning to mush.

“Okay,” she began.
“I’d like that.” And she picked up a can of beer, linked her arm through Matt’s, and pulled him toward the center of the party. All around them, people were making out and getting wildly drunk and making mistakes they wouldn’t remember tomorrow. He wondered in his head about how many girls would hook up with guys that were no good for them. One less girl, he thought, ever since he had become so sweet on Sofia.

Sofia was drinking her beer without caution.
Matt supposed she shouldn’t worry, having two hound dogs watching her every move. Besides, he wouldn’t hurt her. She was dancing in front of him, letting herself go and moving to the beat of the music. She pulled him in, salsa dancing with him to the beat of a pop song. But she didn’t care what anyone thought. And Matt loved that about her. They danced for a long time, Sofi drinking beer after beer until she no longer seemed to be able to recognize good from bad. It was not her first time she had gotten drunk, Matt established. She hadn’t gotten drunk very fast. But he was oh so worried about her.

“Sofi, honey, maybe we should get you home.
” he tried to convince her. But she just shook her head.

“I wanna dance, Matty.
” she said. He laughed at her nickname for him. He wanted to keep being with her. But not like this.

“Stay here, okay?
Don’t let anyone touch you.” he warned. She looked at him with a ‘duh’ expression and nodded.

“Okay, dad.
” she said annoyed. Matt chuckled again and went to find the one person he hated in this world.

” he demanded. Lucas was sober. Very sober. But he was kissing Emma like she was the air he needed to breathe.

“What do you want, Martin?
” he asked. Then his eyes got wide with worry. “Where’s my sister? Is she okay?” he asked. Matt respected the love he had for his sister. It was the only thing that he respected about him.

“She’s fine.
She’s just had a little too much to drink. Do you want me to take her home? Or do you want to take her home?” he asked.

“No, you’re not taking her home.
Did you drink tonight?” he mocked. Matt grit his teeth.

“No, I didn’t drink.
Someone had to watch over your sister while you were making out with whoever she is.” Matt knew who she was, but she wanted Lucas to get angry. Because he, himself, was angry.

“Shut the fuck up, Martin.
I know she can protect herself. I knew Liam would watch after her. I don’t trust her with you. I’m gonna take her home.” And he got up, left Emma on the couch, and walked out of the room. Emma looked confused, clearly drunk.

“Well, wanna make out?
” she asked. Matt rolled his eyes and left her there.

And he went upstairs until the party was over, unable to take his mind off of the irresistible Sofia Sanchez.



Lucas was furious.
Not with Matthew, or Liam, or Sofia. But with himself. He had gotten caught up with Emma. He was sober. He hadn’t had one drink. And yet he found himself so desperate for attention and a girl, any girl, that he was dangerously close to sleeping with Emma Frait. 

” he shouted. “Sofia!” He yelled her name several times.

“¡Maldita sea Sofía!
¿Dónde demonios estás?” (Dammit Sofia! Where the hell are you?) He said it more to himself. 

“I’m right here, moron.
” she told him. Lucas had seen her drunk before. He made sure he was always with her when she was in the position to drink. He knew that she spoke Spanish marvelously when hammered.

“Dios mío, Sofía.
” (Oh my God, Sofia.) He began. “You had me worried sick. Matthew told me you were drunk. We gotta get out of here. Let’s go find Liam.

“Will’s still here?
I thought for sure he’d have a new girl.” she admitted. 

“You’re calling him Will again?” Lucas said with a smile. He was a little uneasy about how close they had gotten in the last few days but he liked that she was calling him that. She had always called Liam “Will” when she thought of him like a brother.

“Uh huh.

Lucas found Liam wandering the crowd with big worried eyes.

“Liam? Who are you looking for?” he asked. Liam looked behind him to find Sofia, and relief filled his features. He reached behind the older Sanchez and took Sofi by the shoulders.

“Sofia Emilia Liliana Sanchez!
Where the hell did you go? I looked away for five seconds, and you were gone!” he asked. And then he hugged her tightly, pushing his face into her hair. Liam was tall, six foot two, so he had to bend down to reach her. Lucas watched them with concern andusion. He saw Sofi shoot him a questioning look, but her older brother just shrugged his shoulders in wonder.

“I’m right here, Will. I’m okay. I’m right here.” Lucas swore that she seemed completely sober at that moment. She was stroking his hair lightly. “Why’d you think I wasn’t?

“I heard these guys talking about you. Talking about how Matt was gonna sleep with you and then pass you to him. I got scared. I’ve been searching for twenty minutes!” he yelled. He buried his face back in sofia’s hair. He wasn’t drunk, Lucas noticed. He was scared. And he was beginning to wonder if it truly was brotherly affection. He decided to save that for later. He had bigger problems to deal with.

“Liam, we have to get her home.
She’s drunk.” Luke told him.

“She’s drunk?
” Liam was suddenly murderously angry. “Did that jackass get her drunk? Where is he so that I can kick his ass.

“He brought her to me, Liam.
He was… not so annoying.” Lucas informed him. Liam narrowed his eyes. Luke understood why his friend was unconvinced. They both hated Matthew. He was conceited, annoying, and loved shitting on them. But they put that to the side and walked Sofia out. She was seemingly inebriated again and laughing about nothing in particular. Liam was looking at her strangely, a mixture of awe and something else in his eyes. Lucas had never seen that look in his eyes before. 

This time, Liam acknowledged that he held the door open for her.
Luke looked at the gesture for a little too long before moving to the driver’s side. He watched as Liam helped her into the car, offering his hand and making sure her legs weren’t in the way of the door when he closed it. He hopped into the back seat, not taking his eyes off of the littlest Sanchez. Sofi curled her legs into her chest and hugged her knees.

” she said aloud. Liam’s eyes got wide and he began to search for something in the seat. Lucas kept glancing back through the rear view mirror and saw when his face lit up. He pushed a sweatshirt into Sofia’s lap.

“I left this in here this morning.
You want it, Sof?” he asked softly. She nodded. She struggled to get it on. Lucas watched with amusement as she tried to hit it over her head. He wasn’t weirded out by Liam giving her his sweatshirt. It had happened plenty of times before. She had plenty of sweatshirts of both of the boys. She liked stealing them.

“Need some help, dulzura?
” (Sweetheart). Liam asked.That was a new nickname, Lucas thought.

“Yes please, Will.
” she said sleepily. He helped her put her head through the neck hole and then helped her find the sleeves. She giggled, and he chuckled. And Lucas pondered the whole situation. Liam was walking home when Lucas called for him to come back.

“I’m gonna put her to bed and then I wanna talk to you.
” he said firmly. Liam nodded, thoroughly confused. They walked into our house, and Luke tucked her into bed. He kissed her on the forehead.

“Buenas noches hermanita.
” (Good night, little sister). She hummed and mumbled a “love you” and then fell soundly asleep. Lucas walked downstairs and sat on the couch next to Liam. Liam looked at him.

“So, what’s up, Luke?
” he asked. Lucas thought for a minute about how he should phrase his next thoughts.

“I--I want to ask you something.
” he began. Shaky start, he thought.


“Do you like my sister?
” He decided to just spit it out. 

” Liam practically shouted. Lucas was suddenly thinking that he was the biggest idiot there was. Liam was truly shocked. He even looked like he might be sick.

“Do you… like Sofia?
” he asked it quietly this time. Liam seemed to collect himself, and then struggled to find the words to express himself.

“Lucas, I think you’re sister is great.
I really do. But, she’s like a sister to me. I could never see her that way.” he responded.

Luke breathed in relief.
He loved William. He trusted him with his life. But he did not trust him with his sister. Liam was one to leave a trail of broken hearts wherever he went. He had never been in a serious relationship, always saying that he didn’t feel love. Luke knew that it wasn’t true. He loved his mom, who had always been there for him. And he loved his siblings, even his brother who left for college two years ago and ended up in Europe chasing a girl he barely knew. Liam loved the Sanchez family, too. He loved Luke, even though they barely admitted it. He also knew that he loved Sofia. And though Lucas logically knew that he would never hurt her, he was slightly worried that Liam would end up doing something
without thinking about how it affected her.

” was all that Luke said. Liam got a confused look on his face.

” he repeated. 

“Yeah, you know, I’m glad that you don’t like her.

You don’t trust me? I’m not good enough for your precious sister?” Liam was seething. Lucas didn’t know why, but it was making him angry.

“Oh come on, Liam.
You know I trust you. It’s just, you don’t have the best reputation when it comes to girls and relationships!” Luke tried to keep his voice down. His dad was sleeping upstairs. He normally slept deeply, but he couldn’t be sure. 

“Are you fucking kidding me?
I’ve been nothing but a good friend to you. And to your perfect Sofia. I know you worship her, or whatever, but I never thought you would think so low of me.” Liam tried to keep his voice down too. But Luke could see the anger, the hurt in his eyes.

“Dude, I didn’t think you would be so mad.
You know I’m protective of her. She’s never had a serious boyfriend before. She doesn’t know a lot about… guys. I just don’t want her to get hurt.” Luke’s voice had gone soft. He loved his little sister with everything that he was. Sofia had been through a lot. 

Three years ago, the heart of their home, their mother, selfishly left the Sanchez family.
Sofi was incredibly close with their mom, and it was so hard for her when she voluntarily left them. Lucas was the only one to hear her scream into his pillow when she would come into his room with nightmares. He was the only one who heard her repeat the phrase “I wasn’t enough” into his shoulder while she cried. He was the only one who knew that she blamed herself. Their mother had been bright. Happy, positive, loving. She used to dance around the kitchen with their father, teaching the kids to salsa and singing Spanish songs all throughout the house. She never gave any indication that she was planning on leaving. 

One day, all of a sudden, Sofi found a note on their fridge:

I’m sorry, my familia hermosa (beautiful family).
I love you all with every fiber of my being. But I have to get out. To live my life. I never got to live my life, and now is my chance. I’m sorry. -mami  


Their older brother had blamed himself, as he was born when their mother was only twenty-one, leaving them to party every night and sleep with different girls. He hadn’t contacted them in two and a half years. Sofia was still broken inside about it. 

And Lucas had promised to do whatever it takes to let her know that she was loved.
And appreciated. And needed. And that he would always have her back and protect her.

Liam knew the bare minimum.
He knew that their mom left for no good reason. He knew that Sofia was close to her mom before she had left. And he knew that she was still hurt. But he couldn’t comprehend the level of abandonment Sofi felt. Or how Lucas made it his point in life to be there for her. 

“I don’t want her hurt, either.
I know she’s had a rough time.” Liam told him

“But you don’t understand. She doesn’t trust easily. You should know that by now.

“I know, your mom--”

“But it isn’t just my mom!
” Lucas was shouting now. He didn’t care if anyone heard. “My brother left us. Left her. And she thinks that the only reason people come into her life is to walk out. And you can’t understand the level of protection I feel over her. My mom chose to live her life over being with Sofi. My brother chose to waste his life over helping her through it. She needs me. And I need her. So forgive me if I’m worried that you, Mr. I-Don’t-Have-A-Heart, would like her in any way!

Liam was silent for a long time.
He was just staring at his best friend. Luke couldn’t figure out the emotion in his eyes. Then, he glanced at something behind Lucas. Luke turned to see what it was, only to find out that it was a who. 

Sofia was standing there on the stairs, her eyes wide and her lips trembling.
He saw Liam take a few steps in her direction before stopping himself with restraint actually visible to Lucas.

“Sof…” Luke started.

But she was already crying.
And, as if he couldn’t hold himself back any more, Luke saw Liam run toward her. She watched him with wide eyes, but shook her head when he came closer.

“Sofia…” he said, his voice almost a plea.
For what, Lucas couldn’t guess.

Sofi turned her eyes to her big brother and shook her head again.

“I’m not some fragile little doll.
” she hissed. And then she turned away, marching back to her room and slamming the door.

And Lucas saw Liam rub his hands over his face before he put his own head in his hands.
He was in trouble

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