Not that I mind, exactly. He’s fun. Sweet, even. But I still haven’t figured out his angle. When it comes to men and unprovoked friendship, I tend to lean toward skeptical. In the car I’d quizzed him about why he’d made that big show in front of Abigail and her cronies, and he’d merely shrugged and said, “Because it’s fun to mess with the Greeks.”
I do believe he had fun messing with them, but I also know there’s more to the story. I just can’t ask him in front of his roommates. Which makes me wonder if he knows that, and is therefore using them as a shield so he doesn’t have to answer any questions.
“Like how does that even make sense?” Joe, who told me to call him Foster, hits a bong while reclined on the La-Z-Boy. “The pressure variance between such extreme depths would require several hours of decompression before ascent.”
“Dude, there’s a giant crab monster trying to eat their mini sub,” Matt says. “You’re thinking too much.”
“Nah, man. This is preposterous. If they expect me to take their premise seriously, they have to stick to certain basic laws of physics. I mean, come on. Where’s the dedication to storytelling?”
Conor’s shaking his head beside me on the love seat, visibly holding in a laugh. He is so ridiculously attractive it’s hard to concentrate on anything other than the chiseled cut of his jaw, the perfect symmetry of his movie-star face. Every time he glances over at me, my heart flips around like a happy dolphin, and I have to force myself to play it cool.
“I think you’re taking this a bit hard,” he tells Foster.
“All I’m asking for is a little pride in one’s work, okay? How do you make a movie about an underwater sea station and just decide that the rules don’t apply? You going to make a space movie where there’s no vacuum and everyone can breathe outside without a space suit? No, because that’s fucking dumb.”
“Take another bong hit,” Gavin advises from the couch, then shoves a forkful of food in his mouth. “You’re cranky when you’re sober.”
“Yeah, well, I’m gonna.” Foster takes a long hit, releases a plume of smoke, then goes back to sulking as he angrily eats his quinoa.
He’s a weird one. Hot, though. And obviously highly intelligent—before the movie started I was informed that Foster is majoring in Molecular Biophysics. Which makes him a science geek/hockey player/stoner, the strangest of combinations.
“Aren’t you guys drug-tested?” I ask Conor.
“Yeah, but as long as we keep the intake to a minimum and not too often, it doesn’t pop up on the piss test,” he says.
“Trust me,” mumbles Alec, who’s draped over the armrest and not entirely conscious. He’d fallen asleep on the couch beside Gavin pretty much as soon as the movie started. “You don’t want to know Foster without weed.”
“Bite my ass,” Foster barks back.
“Could you jackasses try not embarrassing yourselves in front of the company?” Conor chides. “Sorry, they’re not housebroken.”
I grin. “I like ’em.”
“See that, Con,” retorts Matt. “She likes us.”
“Yeah, so fuck you,” Gavin says cheerfully.
I wish living in the Kappa house had been more like this. I had hoped for sisterhood and got season one of Scream Queens with my very own Chanel Number One instead. Not that all the girls became as unbearable as Abigail, but it was all too much. The noise, the constant commotion. Every detail of life being a group activity.
I’m an only child, and for a while I entertained the idea that having siblings would fulfill some hole in my life I hadn’t known was there. Well, I learned real quick that some people are built to share a bathroom and some would sooner poop in the woods than spend one more morning waiting for ten other chicks to finish brushing their hair.
When the movie ends, the guys are gunning for a scary one next, but Conor says he doesn’t feel like another film and tugs me off the sofa.
“C’mon,” he drawls, and my heart does a couple more backflips. “Let’s go upstairs.”
Conor and I retreat to his room to whistles and suggestive grunts from the guys. They’re only a step or two on the evolutionary scale from feral chickens, but they’re certainly not boring. I know they think we’re going upstairs to have sex, but I have a different goal in mind.
“Now that I’ve got you alone…” I say after Conor closes the door behind us.
He has the master bedroom, which is big enough for a king bed with a dark wooden frame, a loveseat across the room and an entertainment center with another massive TV. He’s also got an en suite bathroom and a big window that takes up half the wall and overlooks a small backyard where most of the winter snow has finally melted.
“Yeah, babe, I’m game.” Conor rips his tie from his shirt collar and flings it across the room.
I roll my eyes. “Not that.”
I take a seat on his bed against the headboard and put one of his pillows between us like he did the last time we found ourselves alone in a room together. The blue plaid bed set says his mom picked out something masculine for him at Neiman Marcus. It’s very soft, and smells like him—sandalwood, with the salty hint of the ocean.
“I want to know—what was that display at the banquet really about?”
“I already told you.”
“Yeah, and I think there’s more to the story. So, spill.”
“Wouldn’t you rather make out?” He climbs onto the mattress beside me, and suddenly the bed feels very, very tiny. Is this actually a king-size? Because he’s right there, and one measly pillow isn’t going to protect me from the heat of his athletic body and the scent of his after-shave.
I force myself not to be affected by the sexy grin he flashes me. “Conor,” I say with the tone I use with my first graders when one of them won’t share the crayons.
His flirtatious smile evaporates. “If I said you didn’t want to know, would you just trust me and let it go?”
“No.” I meet his gaze head-on. “Tell me why you did what you did at the alumni banquet.”
On a deep sigh he rubs his hands over his face and combs his hair out of his eyes. “I don’t want to hurt you.” The confession comes out in a mumble.
“I’m a big girl. If you respect me, tell me the truth.”
“Damn, T. Right in the fucking feels.”
He looks at me with such pained eyes, I have to brace for the worst. That maybe Abigail put him up to the whole thing, that they planned it together. That first dare, the love-bombing at Woolsey Hall…it was all a big scheme to make me catch feelings for him. Only now he’s having regrets? It’s a mortifying scenario, but it also wouldn’t be the worst thing Abigail’s ever done.
“Fine. But keep in mind, these are their words, not mine.”
He recounts overhearing Abigail and Jules talking with their boyfriends earlier about my “hook-up” with Conor. I flinch when he explains in an unhappy tone that their conversation included discussion of my potential as a porn actress, among other digs.