Sofia was furious with her brother. One, for telling Liam about how broken she was after her mom and brother left. And two, for thinking she couldn’t take care of herself.

Sofia was strong.
She was not a hurt little girl who needed her brother to make her decisions. When she woke up the next morning, she had a pounding headache and a similar ache in her heart. She went downstairs to get aspirin and some water, only to find Liam on the couch. He was snuggled into the couch, a blanket haphazardly on him. She frowned at the thought that he would find her weak. Lucas had no right,
even if it was his best friend.

She walked into the kitchen quietly.
She didn’t want to see him or wake him up. She grabbed some medicine and got a water bottle from the fridge. She turned around to walk back to her bedroom only to find a certain raven haired boy leaning against the door frame. 

“Dios mío, Will.” My God, Will. she exclaimed. 

“Sorry, sweetheart.
Didn’t mean to scare you.” he said softly. Sofi felt butterflies in her stomach at the new nickname, but rolled her eyes anyway.

Who am I, your next target?” she asked. She didn’t mean to be mean; she was just angry at the world. And she took it out on the boy in front of her.

Liam narrowed his eyes in anger.
Sofi had heard Lucas yelling about his horrible past with relationships, so she knew it hit a nerve.

“Like I could be remotely interested in your desperate ass.
” he replied. Hurt stung Sofia’s eyes. She only got

Me, desperate?” she scoffed.

“Yeah, you.
You hang yourself all over Matthew Martin every single goddamn day. I’m surprised you haven’t let him fuck you yet.” This time, Sofi didn’t cover up her hurt. 

“You really think I’m like that?
” she said in a quiet voice.

“I don’t know.
Apparently, I don’t know you at all.” he replied, his voice equally soft.

“That’s not true.

“Sof…” he began.
He grabbed her hands in his. “I know you’re not some slut who sleeps with every guy she sees. But I never realized how bad you were still hurting. I thought you trusted me more.

“I’m… sorry.
I didn’t think we were that close. I know you care about my brother, but I didn’t know if you really cared about how much I think about my mom or my brother.

“Sof, you know that I understand losing a parent.
And a brother.” he pleaded with her. Sofia didn’t know exactly what he wanted. What he needed.

“I guess…” she answered.
Her eyes locked on his. He was looking at her softly. 

” he said.

“You only call me Sofia when you’re mad.
” she said, scrunching up her nose. Liam smiled at her.

“Not true.
Just when I’m passionate.

The world stopped moving for a second.
Sofi stopped breathing. Liam was looking at her with the weirdest expression. She couldn’t understand why he was looking at her that way. But she didn’t like the feeling in her chest, so she smirked.

About little ol’ me? I know I’m pretty, but come on.

Liam smirked back.

“Come on, pretty girl.
You have to know that I can’t help myself.

Sofi was surprised that she liked his flirting.
She found herself leaning into it, wanting him to keep calling her pretty and looking at her like that. She rolled her eyes instead, not letting him see how happy she was in that moment. 

“Sofi.” he greeted. She could tell he wanted to say more, but she didn’t let him. She turned back around and began to make some coffee. She was raised drinking coffee, as were most hispanic kids, so she liked it black. She heard Luke sigh and walk out of the room. He had given up on talking to her, and she was glad he did.

“I still don’t understand how you drink it black.
” Liam said into her ear. Sofia ignored the fluttering of her heart and pushed him away from her.

“Not in the mood.
” she replied. She didn’t look at Liam, but she knew if she did, there would be hurt in his eyes. She walked upstairs to her room and opened the door, only to find her brother sitting on her bed. He was glancing at the pictures she had of them growing up on her dresser.

“Get out of my room, Lucas.
” she growled.

“I saw you and Liam.
In the kitchen? You were all over him.

Sofia was silent for a moment, trying to think of words to express her anger.
But, like her mother before her, English would not do her justice when she was furious.

“Vete a la mierda.
” (fuck you) she started. “Vete a la mierda por pensar que sabes algo acerca de Liam y yo. Mierda por pensar que me conoces en absoluto. Puedo hacerme cargo de mí misma.” (Fuck you for thinking you know anything about Liam and I. Fuck you for thinking that you know me at all. I can take care of myself.)

She said it like her mother as well. Quietly, calmly. Like she wasn’t wanting to slap him hard across the face.

She sounded like her mom.
And it scared her to be anything like the woman who left her when she was only thirteen. So she counted to ten in her head and breathed deeply.

“No puedo dejar de cuidarte, pequeña.
Eres mi hermanita.” (I can't help but watch over you, little one. You're my little sister.) Lucas told her softly. He hardly ever got angry at her. It was just his personality. He would get angry at people who were mean to her, to his family, to his friends, but never to her. She threw her hands up in frustration.

“No soy un niño pequeño.
Tengo casi diecisiete.” (I'm not a little kid. I'm almost seventeen.)

“Y tengo dieciocho años.
Soy mayor por un año y cuatro meses. Eso significa que eres mi hermana pequeña. (And I'm eighteen. I'm older by a year and four months. That means you're my little sister.) he said, annoyed. He did get annoyed at her, however.

She rolled her eyes.

“Get out!
” she yelled. He rolled his eyes right back.

“El melodrama.
” (The melodrama.) he called as he walked out of Sofi’s room. Sofi sat on her bed and put her head in her hands. She cried. Cried for her mother leaving. Cried for her brother leaving. Cried for the fear of her other brother not wanting her anymore after the fight. Cried over her inability to trust anyone and anything. She truly didn’t believe anyone would stay in her life. So, when someone knocked on her door, she was shocked. Liam poked her head in the room, effectively surprising Sofia. 

” she said, hastily wiping away her tears.

” he inhaled into her name. She could see the worry clear in his eyes. 

“Go away.
” she said weakly.

“You don’t mean that.
” he began. “I’ve noticed you say that a lot. And I’ve started to think that maybe, just
maybe, you say that so if someone leaves you, you can pretend that you wanted it that way.
” Sofia stopped breathing. He was right. She knew that. But her walls were up, and they weren’t coming down. 

“You’re wrong.
Stop reading into everything.” she announced.

“Okay, pequeña Sofia.” (little Sofia) he hummed. And Sofi couldn’t even be upset. Because he was looking adorable and the way he said her name made her crazy. 

“Don’t call me that.
” she muttered. But, again, she didn’t sound like she meant it. Because she didn’t.

“Sí, señorita.
” (Yes, miss.) he said with a small smile on his attractive face. Sofia thought of a new song that she loved, Senorita by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello. And she realized that she understood what the chorus meant. Will called her that, and it made her heart race and her body to get restless. She wouldn’t mind if he called her that more often. 

“That’s right.
You should be addressing me properly. I’m gonna run the world one day.” she joked. 

“I know you will, my little Sofi.
I believe in you.” he said sweetly. She smiled shyly and looked down at her

Sofia did have big dreams.
She wanted to move to a big city: New York, London, Milan, Paris. A city where fashion was more than just a dream, it was reality. That was her dream: to work as an executive for a company like Saks or Bloomingdales or Barneys. She wanted to make the fashion world her runway. When she was younger, she wanted to be a model or a designer. But as she grew up, she grew to love the more business side of the industry.  

“Do you really think my dreams aren’t crazy?” she asked. She needed to hear the truth.

“Sof, you are the smartest, most fashionable girl I know.
You always look cute.” he promised.

” she asked, scrunching up her nose. Cute wasn’t always what she went for.

“I mean, stylish.
You look cute sometimes. Other times you look hot. But you’re always stylish.” he said, babbling. He didn’t catch the compliments, but Sofi did.

“You might want to whisper the next time you call me hot, or Lucas will probably kill you.
” she teased, laughing at the blush that had begun to
build on Liam’s face.

“You know what I mean.
You can’t look hot to me, you know that. You’re like my little sister. But I see guys look at you. Hear them talk. They like
your style.
” he said defensively.

“Please, they like my body in the clothes.
They barely even see me as anything other than some porcelain doll to put on a shelf and only take
me down when they want to sleep with me.
” she told him, angrily. 

“Not all of them.
” he said. He paused. “Matt… seems to actually like you. Aren’t you supposed to go out with him tonight or something?
“Yeah, but I cancelled.
I don’t really want to go on a date tonight, and I don’t really want a boyfriend.” she admitted. She didn’t sound sad, but
she knew Liam would see right through her.

“Come on, Sof.
You’ve never had a boyfriend. Maybe you should give him a shot.” he said.

“You, William King, are really telling me that I should go on a date with your archenemy, Matthew Martin?
The world is really upside down.” she

“Sofia, I don’t like him.
But he likes you. And maybe you should just try out one date. See if he’s still available tonight.” he convinced. Sofia was
unsure, but Liam’s honest gaze made her think that perhaps she should give Matt a shot.
Not everyone left her life, after all. Lucas hadn’t left.
Her father hadn’t left.
Liam was still there.

“Thanks, Will.
” she said quietly. He smiled, but Sofi saw that it didn’t reach his eyes.

“Now I have to go try and talk to your brother.
He’s still kinda pissed at me.” he said, and he left the room without another word or glance at

Sofia breathed in deeply and grabbed her phone.
She dialed Matt’s number, finding it hard to breathe when he answered.
” he asked. Sofi wanted to cry; he was calling her ‘Sofia’ because she had been standoffish and cold when she cancelled their date.
“Hey, Matt.
Listen, I know I cancelled our date tonight, but I wanted to see if you were still free?” she asked. She heard Matt inhale. Then, she
heard a voice in the background of Matt, asking him what the person calling him wanted.

“Is that-- Is that a girl?
” she asked him.

“Oh, um, it was stupid. I’m gonna go. So, um, bye.

Sofia, I-- Why did you cancel our date?” he wondered. He sounded hurt, but Sofi knew that he didn’t deserve to get to feel hurt after he
was with some other girl.

“No reason.
I just wanted to. And I’m sure that you can’t mind all that much, considering you’re with some other girl.” she ranted.


“Save it.
It’s fine, really. I’m fine.” she said. And she hung up. Matt called her three times. She didn’t want to pick up. But, on that fourth time, she
knew she had to.

“What do you want, Matthew?
” she asked.

“I’m sorry, Sofi.
I’m sorry. I was so so hurt when you cancelled on me. I just-- I needed to get out my frustration. But she doesn’t mean
” he admitted, begging for forgiveness.

“You said Emma, right?
Is that Emma Frait?” she wondered.

“I-- Yes.

“Well, then.
Have a good day.” she said. She hung up again, without another word. And even though Matthew called her several times
throughout the day, she never picked up.
She needed to talk to her brother. She swallowed her pride and knocked on the door of her brother’s

“Come in.” she heard her brother say, muffled by the door and the emotion in his voice.

She opened the door and stepped into his room.
He was sitting on his bed, Liam sitting across from him on the beanbag Lucas had since he
was five.
Liam was running his hands through his hair, so it was ruffled. Sofi could see the agitation in his face, and she wasn’t surprised to see
the same agitation on her brother.

“What do you want, Sofia?
” he asked harshly. If Sofi hadn’t expected the hostility, she would have flinched. Anger toward her wasn’t in his
personality, but frustration certainly was.

“I need to talk to you.
” she stated. Liam looked at her, worry in his eyes.

“What’s wrong, Sof?
” he asked. But the girl only shook her head.

“I’m sorry, but I need to talk to Lucas alone.
” she said. He shot her a confused look but nodded anyway and left the room.

“What the hell do you want?
” Luke repeated.

” she explained simply. Lucas became simply furious. 

“What the fuck did he do?

“He was… with Emma.
When I called.” she whispered. 

“Emma Frait?
” he questioned. Sofia heard a little sorrow in his voice, but she couldn’t let anything distract her from Matt. Matt. And Emma. And
them together.
Ugh. A feeling of disgust swept over her at the thought.


Lucas clenched his jaw.
Sofi tried hard not to cry.

“Sof, I’m so sorry.
So, so sorry. He’s an ass. I’ll kill him the next time I see him.

“No, Luke.
I don’t want you to hurt him. I just need to talk.” she pleaded. He nodded. 

“It’s like, he actually seemed to like me.
For more than just what I look like. Regardless of who my brother is. And that’s practically impossible to
Everyone loves you. And they accept me because they have to. But he didn’t care. It’s not like he’s your biggest fan. He just… liked me. And
I really liked him.
He asked me out. And I cancelled on him, but I didn’t think he would just… go off with some other girl. Especially that-- that
” she ranted, hating herself for the use of the cruel word. She never liked that one.

“Sofia, he’s the idiot.
Not you. He does like you. Maybe he was just… hurt. I’m not saying he was right, but I know he likes you. There has to be a
reason he did it.
I saw the way he looked at you.” he admitted.

“How did he look at me?
” she wondered aloud.

“Like you were the only person in the room.
” he answered. Sofi’s heart fluttered. But she hated herself for it. 
“Well, clearly I wasn’t.
Emma was there too.” she replied.

“And you’re sure it was Emma Frait?
” he asked.

“I asked.
Sorry.” she said, not sure why she was apologizing.

“No-- no that’s ok.
It doesn’t affect me.” he lied. Sofia always knew when he was lying because every time he did he couldn’t look her in the eye
bit his lip.
She watched as his eyes left hers and went down to the floor. She watched as he bit his bottom lip.
“You’re lying, Luke.
What’s up?” she asked him. 

“I-- Something’s wrong with me.
Every time I’m around Emma or I think about her, I feel sick, like I’m light-headed and stupid.” he informed her.

“It sounds like you like her, Lucas.
” she told him.



“But… I can’t like her.
I can’t. And she doesn’t even like me anymore.” he said.

“Oh, come on.
She’s chased you down for like three weeks. She’s not just… over you.” she assured. 

“You said it yourself!
She’s with Matt.” he said. He was more sad than angry. But Sofia couldn’t get rid of her anger.

“I can’t believe he slept with her.

“You don’t know that he did.
He was just with her. It doesn’t mean he was with her in that way.” 

“You’re right, I’m sorry.” he admitted.

Sofia and Lucas sat, looking at each other, for a few minutes.
They were basking in their shared disappointment. Sofi hated thinking about Matt
with anyone, let alone someone that had been after her own brother.
She wondered, for a horrible second, if he slept with Emma so that he
would hurt Luke.
And because he knew that hurting him would hurt Sofia. But she didn’t believe that. Matt wasn’t an asshole, and she wasn’t
going to let Luke and Liam’s words convince her otherwise.

The door opened and Liam walked through it.

“Lucas, I’ve gotta go somewhere.
Sofi, you good? You need me to stay?” he asked her.

Sofi shook her head, confused.

“I’m okay, Will.
Where are you going?” she asked.

“Just… out.
” he answered vaguely. He didn’t let Sofi question him further. He just walked out the door.

“That was weird.
” Sofia said.

“He’s been acting really weird lately.
” Lucas agreed.

Sofia thought about Liam.
How he happened to be there when she needed someone. How he looked at her: softly and sweetly. How he held
open the door for her several times in the past few days.
The nicknames. The soft calling of her name.

“You’re right.
” she said.

She stopped breathing.
Was it possible? Did Liam like her?

He didn’t. She knew that. She knew that there was no way in any universe that he could have feelings for her. But… it’s possible that he
liked someone else.

“Do you think he’s dating someone?
Like secretly?” she asked her older brother.

He would have told me. I think.” he replied.

“But maybe he wants to make sure that it’ll last before he tells you.
Maybe he really likes this girl.” she countered.

“I can’t imagine Liam with a serious girlfriend.
” he joked.

“Me either.

And Sofia didn’t like the feeling that the idea brought.
Her heart was in her throat for some strange reason. And she felt sad. But she did want
what was best for Liam.
He had done so much for her. Liam having a girlfriend meant that he was actually getting serious. He needed someone
in his life to show him that love wasn't always going to tear him apart.

So why was she so… hurt?