“Rachel is still in Daytona,” Abigail adds. “You can use her bedroom.”
“Abigail, please,” I say, begging she let this go. But my plea only emboldens her.
“What’s wrong, Tay-Tay? I don’t recall you having a problem kissing other guys on a dare. Or is your kink just hooking up with girls’ boyfriends?”
Because that’s what it always comes back to with Abigail: revenge, and the mistake she’s been making me pay for every single day since sophomore year. No matter how many times I apologize, or how sincerely I regret hurting her, my life is but to amuse Abigail with my suffering.
“You should see a doctor about your raging bitchitis,” Sasha snaps back.
“Oh, poor Taylor, such a prude. Don’t turn your back or she’ll steal your dude,” Abigail sings. Her mockery becomes a chorus when Jules jumps in to sing along.
Their taunting stabs at the nerves behind my eyes and makes my fingers go numb. I want to shrink into the floor. Disappear into the wall. Burst in spontaneous flames and become ash that settles in the party bowl. Anything but me, here, now. I hate unwanted attention, and their mocking has recaptured the eyes of several drunken faces around us. A few more seconds and the whole house will bust out in song about how I’m a prude, like a horrible scene out of my worst nightmare.
“Fine!” I burst out. Just to make it stop. Anything to shut them up. “Whatever. I’ll do the dare.”
Abigail smiles in triumph. She couldn’t be more obvious if she were drooling. “Go get your man, then,” she says, extending a gracious hand behind her.
I bite my lip and follow the line of her thin arm, finally spotting Conor by the beer pong table in the dining room.
Fuck, he’s tall. And his shoulders are impossibly broad. I can’t see his eyes, but I do have a clear view of his chiseled profile and longish blond hair slicked away from his forehead. It should be illegal for someone to be that good-looking.
Big-girl pants, Taylor.
On a deep breath, I steel my nerves and make my way toward an unsuspecting Conor Edwards.
The boys are getting absolutely ripped tonight. We’ve been at this sorority party all of twenty minutes and already Gavin and Alec have torn open their shirts with their bare hands and are strutting around the beer pong table like a couple of barbarians. Got to admit, though, after winning our playoff game, I’m feeling pretty primal myself. Two more victories and it’s on to the Frozen Four. While no one will say it out loud for fear of jinxing the team, I feel like this is our year.
“Con, get over here, asshole.” Hunter calls out to me from across the room, where he and some of the guys have lined up rows of shots. “Bring those two knuckleheads with you.”
We gather with our teammates, all red-faced and high on adrenaline. Each of us hold up a shot glass while our captain, Hunter Davenport, makes a speech. He doesn’t even have to shout, because the music stopped about ten minutes ago. I keep seeing panicky sorority girls darting to and from the speaker system in the living room.
Hunter’s gaze sweeps over everyone. “I just want to say I’m damn proud of all of us for how we’ve persevered as a team this season. We’ve had each other’s backs, and everyone has put in their maximum effort. We’ve got two more, boys. Two more and we’re in the hunt. So enjoy tonight. Let’s turn it up. And then it’s time to get your heads back in it for the final push.”
It still doesn’t feel real sometimes. My punk ass at an Ivy school, interloping among the well-bred sons and daughters of old money and founding fathers. Even with my boys, the closest thing I’ve ever had to family after my mom, I can’t help sometimes checking over my shoulder. Like any day now they’re going to figure me out.
After a shout of “Briar hockey!” we throw back our shots. Bucky swallows and releases a guttural war cry that startles everyone until we all bust out laughing.
“Easy there, killer. Save it for the ice,” I tell him.
Bucky doesn’t give a shit. He’s too stoked. Young, dumb, and full of bad intentions tonight. He’ll make some young lady very happy, I’m sure.
Speaking of ladies, it doesn’t take long for them to coalesce around the beer pong table once we get another game going. This time it’s Hunter and his girlfriend Demi against me and Foster. And Hunter’s girl plays dirty. She’s peeled off her zip-up hoodie and is now in just a thin white tank top over a black bra, which she’s using to strategic effect to push her tits up in our faces as a means of distraction. And it’s fucking working. Foster goes boob blind and misses the table completely with his shot.
“Fuck, Demi,” I grumble, “put those things away.”
“What, these?” She grabs two handfuls and lifts them practically up to her neck while making the worst attempt at looking innocent.
Hunter lands his shot in one of our cups easily.
Demi winks at me. “Sorry not sorry.”
“If your girlfriend wants to take her top off, I’ll forfeit right now,” Foster says, trying to get a rise out of Hunter.
He’s too easy. Caveman mode activated, Hunter yanks his T-shirt over his head and pulls it down over Demi so it looks like a baggy dress on her. “Eyes on the cups, dickhead.”
I swallow a laugh, deciding not to point out that Demi Davis would look hot even if she were wearing a burlap sack. There was a time I might have hit that, but even before Hunter knew it, we could see that our team captain was already stupid for that girl. Just took those two a little longer to catch on.
So far, my prospects tonight aren’t great. Gorgeous girls, sure. A brunette all but tries to climb me and plant a kiss on my neck when I sink the next shot into one of Hunter and Demi’s cups. But these chicks have a thirsty vibe about them and so far, no one’s doing it for me.
Truth be told, all the women are starting to blur together in my mind. I’ve slept with a lot of ’em since I transferred to Briar this past fall. Rocking a woman’s world, making her feel special, is a skill of mine. But—and I’d be mocked relentlessly if I admitted this to my boys—none of the chicks I hook up with bother to make me feel special. A few pretend they want to get to know me, but for the most part I’m a conquest to them, a shiny prize to wave in their friends’ envious faces. Half the time they don’t even attempt to make small talk. They just stick their tongues down my throat and their hands down my pants.
Buy a man flowers, at least. Or hell, lead off with a good joke. But it is what it is, I suppose.
Besides, it’s not like I’m in the market for a relationship. I can show women a good time for a night or a week, maybe even a month, but both parties are wholly aware that I’m not anyone’s long-term option. Which is fine. I bore easily, and relationships are the epitome of boring.
But tonight I’m equally bored with the parade of chicks that passes the beer pong table, all of them flashing the same coy smiles as they not-so-innocently graze my arm with their side boobs. Yeah, I’m not feeling any of these girls right now. I’m weary of this tired old mating ritual that always ends the same way. I don’t even have to chase them anymore, and that’s half the fun.