A round of cheers breaks out in the house as the music comes back on. One chick tries to take advantage by pulling me to dance, but I shake my head and try to refocus on the game. It’s kinda difficult, though, because some commotion out on the front lawn has now drawn everyone’s attention to the bay window. A distracted Foster completely blows his shot, and I’m about to chastise him when my peripheral vision catches a blur of motion.
I turn toward the living room to see a frightened, sort of panicked-looking blonde girl scurrying toward us. Like a rabbit bolting for the safety of its hollow after spotting a hungry fox. At first I think she’s going to run to the window to look at whatever the hell is happening outside, but then something truly bizarre happens.
She comes right up, grabs my arm and yanks me down so she can speak in my ear.
“I’m so sorry for this and you’re going to think I’m a total psycho, but I need your help so please just play along,” she babbles, so fast I’m having a hard time keeping up. “I need you to come upstairs with me and pretend we’re going to hook up, but I don’t actually want to touch your penis or whatever.”
“It’s a stupid dare and I’ll owe you a major favor if you could do me this solid,” she whispers rapidly. “I promise I won’t be weird about it.”
I must admit, I’m intrigued. “So, if I heard you right, you don’t want to hook up with me?” I whisper back, unable to hide my amusement.
“I don’t. I want to pretend to do it.”
Well. I’m certainly not bored anymore.
Getting a good look at her, she’s got a cute face. Not a drop-dead stunner like Demi, but nice. Her body, though. Fuck me. She’s like a walking pinup girl. Hidden under an oversized sweater that’s falling off one shoulder is a set of tits I could spend all night sliding my dick between. I steal a peek at her ass and can’t help thinking about getting her bent over my bed.
But all that evaporates when I see her look up at me with these pleading turquoise eyes and something in my heart just crumbles. I’d be some kind of jackass to turn my back on a woman in such dire need of saving.
“Alec,” I call out without taking my gaze off the pinup girl.
“Yo,” my teammate calls back.
“I’m tagging you in. Kick the captain and his evil girlfriend’s asses for me.”
I don’t miss the knowing chuckles from Hunter and Foster, along with Demi’s loud snort.
The blonde’s uncertain eyes dart past my shoulder to the beer pong table, where Alec has taken my place. “Is that a yes?” she murmurs.
In answer, I sweep a few strands of hair behind her ear and brush my lips against her skin to speak. Because whoever is torturing this poor girl is certainly watching us right now and they can eat shit.
“Lead the way, babe.”
Her eyes go huge, and for a moment I think her hard drive’s crashed. Not the first time that’s happened in my presence. So I take her hand, and then, leaving several shocked gasps in our wake, guide her through the maze of bodies loitering throughout the house. Fact is, I know my way around this place well enough.
As we climb the stairs, I feel the eyes following us. She grips my hand a little tighter as her brain reboots. On the second floor she pulls us into a room I’ve yet to visit and locks the door behind us.
“Thank you,” she breathes the moment we’re alone.
“No problem. Mind if I make myself comfortable?”
“Um, yeah. I mean, no. I don’t mind. Sit if you want. Or—wow, okay, you’re lying down.”
I grin at her visible nervousness. It’s cute. While I stretch out my six-foot-two frame amid the stuffed animals and decorative pillows on the bed, she remains the startled rabbit plastered against the door and breathing heavily.
“Gotta be honest,” I tell her, entwining my hands behind my head, “I’ve never seen a girl so unhappy to be locked in a bedroom with me.”
This has the desired effect of loosening her shoulders and even eliciting a shy smile. “I have no doubt.”
“I’m Conor, by the way.”
She rolls her eyes. “Yeah, I know.”
“What’s the eyeroll for?” I ask, playing wounded.
“No, sorry, I didn’t mean anything by it. Just, I know who you are. You’re, like, campus famous.”
The more I watch her, hands braced at her sides against the door, one knee bent, dirty-blonde hair a little messy and draped over one shoulder, I can’t help picturing myself holding her arms above her head while I explore her body with my mouth. She’s got very kissable skin.
“Taylor Marsh,” she blurts out, and I realize I don’t know how long we were silent until then.
I scoot to the far side of the bed and put a pillow beside me as a divider. “Come on. If we’re going to be in here awhile, let’s at least make friends.”
Taylor laughs out a breath and with it she releases a bit more tension. She’s got a nice smile. Bright, warm. It takes a bit more coaxing, however, to get her on the bed.
“This isn’t like a move,” she tells me, lining up stuffed animal guards to patrol the pillow wall between us. “I’m not some sort of weirdo who tricks men into getting in bed with her and then mauls them.”
“Sure.” I nod with mock seriousness. “But a little mauling would be okay.”
“Nope.” She shakes her head with too much animation, and I think I might have just about cracked her shell. “No mauling. I will be on my best behavior.”
“So tell me then, why would someone who is presumably supposed to be your friend put you in what is clearly a nightmare scenario?”
Taylor lets out a deep sigh. She picks up a stuffed turtle and clings to it against her chest. “Because Abigail is a grade-A bitch. I hate her so much.”
“Why’s that? What’s the story there?”
She slides a dubious look toward me, clearly debating whether to trust me.
“Cross my heart,” I say. “This is a safe space.”
She rolls her eyes but flashes a playful smile. “Last year. It was a party like this one. I was dared to walk up to a random guy and make out with him.”
I snicker. “I’m sensing a pattern.”
“Yeah, well, I wasn’t any more enthusiastic about it then, either. But that’s their thing. The sisters. They know I have hang-ups about approaching guys, so they love to poke at my insecurities. The bitchy ones, at least.”
“Girls are fucking vicious.”
“Dude, you have no clue.”
I adjust myself on the bed to face her fully. “Okay, so go on. You have to make out with a guy.”
“Right, thing is…” She fidgets with the turtle’s little plastic eyeball, twisting it between her fingers. “I walked up to the first guy I saw who wasn’t so drunk he might barf on me or something. I grabbed his face, lay one on him, and just, you know, closed my eyes and went for it.”
“As one does.”
“Well, when I pulled away, there was Abigail. Looking like I just cut her hair in her sleep. I mean staring daggers. Turns out, the guy I mouth-assaulted was her boyfriend.”