He’d wanted to show me the house he used to live in when he went to Cain, but I already knew about it. It was now rented to Blaise’s brother, Bren, and their group of friends. They’d had a shindig there last night, and I knew Blaise had gone with Zeke, who—according to social media—had found out two days ago that he was attending Cain after all.
I wasn’t sure what had happened there, because I’d thought he was going here all along, but he seemed happy in his post. I was glad Blaise would have him here too. There were other pictures with both Blaise and Zeke in them, but I was trying not to think about it. Blaise had said he wouldn’t fuck anyone else, and I had no reason not to trust him, so I was trusting him.
I also knew he’d had a soccer match earlier today, and the girls were going to be a thing. Just going to the bathroom on campus, I’d overheard girls talking about the soccer team. “I know football is always a big deal,” one had said. “But I swear, we’ve never had that hottie on our soccer team before.”
Blaise had said he was a big deal in the sport at his other high school, and it only took an email for him to get into Cain because of soccer. I mean, I saw him play and he’d only been kicking the ball around by himself so I got it. I understood the excitement.
This was a preview of what was to come.
Nervousness, excitement, and sadness chased each other through me once again. Could I be overthinking things? Maybe.
I just missed him.
“So…” My roommate turned to me, a wide smile on her face.
I’d just come back up after goodbye hugs and kisses with my parents. Nate had texted that he was still around and would see me for brunch tomorrow before heading off, but until then, here I was. Back in my room. Saturday evening—nowhere to go and maybe a guy I should be calling, but I kinda wanted him to call me. But he didn’t know I was even here, so I was being a little irrational, and I didn’t care.
“So.” I smiled back at my roommate.
Her name was Jade, and she seemed super cool. Straight black hair that hung at her chin. Dark eyes. An angular shaped face that could’ve stepped off a Bravo television show. I knew some girls might’ve hated her, but I’d never been like that.
I’d been around models before, so I could instantly read who was going to be catty and insecure. Jade wasn’t like one of those girls. There was a laid-back aura about her.
Her closet door was open, and once I closed the door to the room behind me, she wheeled backward on her desk chair. She had a bottle of Jameson in one hand and a bottle of rum in the other. “What’s your drink of choice, roommate?”
Seriously. So awesome.
I smiled. “Rum and Coke, please.”
“Hell yeah!” She stood up, lifting the bottles over her head, and went to the fridge.
I went over and hit my playlist. “Settle Down” by Chaptabois filled the air, and soon both of us were bobbing our heads to the beat.
We were on our second round when someone knocked on our door.
“Come in!” Jade called.
The door opened, and two more girls I’d briefly met on our floor came in.
We introduced ourselves again. One was a shorter Latina girl, and that’s how she introduced herself. She stuck her hand out and said, “I’m Veronica, and I’m Latina. I have an accent, and I’m not going to tell you where my family is from, because I’m from Texas, and that’s it, girl. Got it? We’ll move forward from this, and all you need to know is that I’m a hella good time. Also, I don’t do nicknames. My name is Veronica. Not Ronnie. Not Rica. Not Ver. Veronica. Got it?”
“Got it.” I nodded and smiled. I liked this one already. “I’m Aspen.”
Then she melted. “Oh, man. One look and I know you’re the sweetest and shyest girl ever. You remind me of one of my sisters, Crystal. Heart of gold.”
The other girl was her roommate, and she had sleek, reddish hair, blue eyes, and a ton of freckles. Hers was one of the most arresting faces I’d ever seen. Her name was Angeline.
“We heard the music and guessed you might be our kind of girls.” Veronica sat on my bed, since it was nearest.
“You want drinks?” Jade asked.
Veronica boomed, “Hell yes.”
Angeline cringed, but then shrugged. “College.”
“That’s right, girl.” Jade pointed over her shoulder since she was at the fridge already. “We’re in college, and classes don’t start till Monday.”
After Veronica got her drink, Angeline went back to their room to get herself a wine cooler. “I heard some girls in the hallway talking about a party on frat row,” she reported when she returned. “You guys want to go?”
Jade’s eyebrows went up. “A frat party? Our first night here?”
Veronica thrust her drink in the air. “HELL YEAH, BITCHES!”
We’d learn soon enough that that’s what Angeline did. She sipped on her wine cooler and giggled, a lot.
Veronica boomed and said bitches a lot. I kinda loved it.
Jade was clearly our leader.
After another drink for each of us (and a new wine cooler for Angeline), we got ready to go. Jade went and found the girls who’d been talking about the party, and they included us in their group. We walked from campus to a street down on Cain’s frat row.
The whole block was packed, and it wasn’t just one party. There were a few of them going.
A part of me was like, What am I doing? I should go back to the room and call Blaise. I should tell him I’m here. But the other part of me was like, This is college. I should embrace this, and hell yeah to me for not just eavesdropping on a party for once.
I was a mixed bag this evening.
I should’ve brought a wine cooler of my own. Though Jade had us covered. She had the serious party/tomboy look going, including a backpack full of drinks, and she was pulling it off glamorously. No joke. She didn’t care how she looked, but she still looked good—tight tank top, tight shorts, sneakers, and a backpack.
I followed along toward the back of the group, because five more girls had attached to us when they learned we were all from the same dorm. Was this normal? I had no clue. But it was the first weekend, so the normal social rules might not apply.
We went past the first party to a bigger party.
I eyed a few of the guys on the front lawn because they looked so much like Zeke, they could’ve been twins. I mean, the faces were different, but the douchebag, bully/joker, preppy partier vibe was the same. They were throwing beanbags at a piece of wood with holes in the middle of it, and they were doing pretty well. They kept yelling, “Hole in one!” Then they’d cheer with their fists in the air and salute each other, downing an entire red cup of beer. Or I assumed it was beer. They’d done this three times by the time we got to their sidewalk.
Then I caught the end of what a girl in front of me was saying, “...he, like, moved from New York to California or something? I don’t know, but Columbia was supposed to have him on their team. Something happened, and we got him on ours. He’s a big deal, I’m telling you.”
“How do you know this?” another girl asked.
“My brother’s a junior on the soccer team. He swears he’s never seen a player like this in person. This guy should’ve already been in Europe playing for one of their clubs.”
“Why isn’t he?”
The original girl shrugged. “I don’t know. My brother said something like his dad was the biggest douche ever not to let him go over there.”
“What’s his name?”
I knew. My stomach was tight, but also blooming in pride.
“Blaise something. He’s fucking gorgeous too.” She looked up at the party. “Keep an eye out. My brother said the soccer team likes to party with these guys. That’s how I knew about the party in the first place.”
Blaise could be here.
Blaise could be here!
I wasn’t nervous.
No. That was ridiculous.
For real, it was seriously ridiculous.
But… I did have a bad case of déjà vu. Blaise was already the popular guy.
I was once again on the outskirts.
All I needed were some woods and to get caught spying on a girl going down on him, and I’d be back in my social loner hell.
The butterflies and knots were all in a flurry inside me. They were spring-boarding off my intestines.
Blaise got serious this month.
Therapy. Soccer. He’d said that’s all he would do, and he was honest. He was always bluntly honest.
He’d told me he loved me, and the therapy was for a reason. Because he loved me. Because he didn’t want to be a risk for me.
He did that for me.
I did not need to be nervous or scared.
This was not high school.
He had changed. I had changed.
We were good. We would be good, and besides—
I’d been so busy giving myself a pep talk that I’d missed how we’d walked past the guys on the front lawn. We’d gone up the front stairs and were now inside the house, the music almost deafening, and Jade took her leadership point again.