“You’re a real cunt, Jules, You know that?”
My eyes widen, because that one came from Rebecca.
“Oh, stuff it up your cooch, Rebecca. If anyone wanted to yank it to a ten-year-old boy they’d become a priest.”
“All of you, shut up!” Charlotte shouts. She closes her eyes, massaging her temples like a mother just before she blacks out and smothers her new baby in its crib.
“I call for an emergency vote.”
I frown at Abigail’s declaration. I look over to see her nudging Olivia beside her, who seconds the motion even though she hardly seems to understand why.
Charlotte gives a slow nod. “Okay, call your vote.”
“All in favor of revoking Jules’s membership in Kappa Chi sorority and evicting her from the house, raise your hands.”
For some reason, I assumed Abigail would protect Jules, and Charlotte would protect Abigail. I’d been the sorority punchline for so long that I forgot about all my old hopes and dreams of sisterhood, of having close friends to support me and watch my back.
But Abigail’s declaration brings some unexpected redemption to the Kappa house, as everyone bands together during the vote. Rebecca’s hand is the first up. Followed closely by Lisa, Sasha, Olivia and Beth. More hands rise, each encouraged by the growing majority. Until finally, my hand goes up.
“Good, its unanimous,” Charlotte says with a nod. “Julianne Munn, by unanimous decision, the membership of the Briar chapter of Kappa Chi have lost faith in your commitment to our shared tenets of sisterhood, and you are hereby excommunicated and banished from the grounds.” Our president pauses, staring at Jules when she doesn’t respond. “Well, get the fuck out.”
“Are you shitting me? This isn’t fair,” Jules argues, looking at Abigail to save her. She searches the room, shocked and dejected when no one comes to her rescue. “Seriously? Fine. Fuck you all. Have a nice life.”
Jules storms up the stairs to her room while the rest of the sisters sit dumbfounded at what’s just happened. I know the feeling.
“Taylor,” a sheepish voice pipes up. It belongs to Nancy, who eyes me sadly from across the room. “I’m really sorry we were watching that crap. We were trying to figure out how to say something when Rebecca caught us.”
“Shep sent me the link like five seconds before you got home,” Robin adds, glancing at Rebecca. “We weren’t laughing about it, I swear.”
Rebecca and I each respond with a nod. I’m not quite sure I believe them, but at least they apologized.
After Charlotte dismisses everyone, Abigail gets my attention, weaving her way through the room.
“Taylor, wait up. I want to talk,” she pleads.
I’ve got less than zero interest in what she has to say. She chose this one moment to grow a conscience and do the right thing. Good for her. But I’m not giving her a pat on the back for it. We aren’t friends.
Instead, I rush up the stairs with Sasha. Rebecca disappears into her room. I wish I knew how better to comfort her, but the minute Sasha and I are alone, and I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I remember it’s my birthday and that Conor is on his way over.
He’ll be here any minute and I’m a fucking mess from the inside out.
“I can’t do this,” I mutter, stumbling into Sasha’s bathroom to wipe the makeup from my face.
“So let’s get the hell out of here,” she says, standing in the doorway. “Tell Conor to meet us at your place with some liquor and we’ll stay in and get loaded.”
“No, I mean I can’t see him.”
The idea of facing him after this has me feeling queasy again. Like the slightest nudge could send me hugging the toilet.
“Do you want me to call him, say you’re sick or something?” Our eyes meet in the mirror. Reading my face, Sasha’s expression sobers. “Are you going to tell him?”
Tell him what? That I’m now a trending topic on one of the world’s most popular porn sites?
That when he tells his mom and stepdad about me, they can go online and see my tits?
That every one of my mom’s Rate My Professor reviews will now include a link to her daughter?
Bile rises in my throat as panic once again attacks my insides.
Oh my fucking God. This is going to affect my entire life. What happens when elementary school principals and parents get a look at Ms. Marsh and her famous rack and I’m banned from every school district across the country because a woman’s body is more dangerous than a hand grenade?
I push Sasha’s hand off me and lunge for the toilet again, where I kneel there dry-heaving.
I didn’t choose this. To be put on display. To be the object of humiliation. The thought of Conor having to deal with it too makes me want to cry again.
His teammates will see the video. Spank it under the covers then smirk every time they see me. Hang screenshots in the locker room. He doesn’t deserve to have a fucking embarrassment, no, a joke, for a girlfriend. And then what? He’ll forever have to keep defending me? Keep being infinitely patient and understanding during the numerous freak-outs I now envision in my future?
I can’t live like that, constantly feeling like everyone I meet is seeing me naked and knowing I’m embarrassing my boyfriend even if he pretends otherwise. I can’t. I can’t see him anymore.
I fucking can’t.
“Take me home,” I say, rising on wobbly legs. “I’ll text him on the way.”
Sasha nods. “Whatever you need.”
Once I’ve gathered my things, we head downstairs. But the universe hates me, so I’m not surprised to discover that Conor is early.
He’s striding up the darkened driveway as we open the door. Dressed in a sharp black suit somewhere behind an enormous flower arrangement. I never get tired of seeing him all pressed and polished. He’s like sex personified. A walking fantasy.
And I’m walking away.
He smiles wide when he sees me, then notices my rumpled state and gives a sheepish look. “Shit. You’re not ready. I’m sorry, I should have done another couple laps.” He’s adorable when he’s excited. And here I am about to take him out back with a shotgun. “I was getting a little overanxious. But I can wait.”
“I’m sorry,” I say, “I have to cancel.”
The words come out in someone else’s voice. Distant and strange. I feel myself shutting down even as I stand under the lights of the house. My mind is peeling away from my body, recoiling from everything.
“Why? What happened?”
He sets the huge flower arrangement on the ground and tries to reach for me, but I step out of his grasp. If I let him touch me, my resolve will crack. I’m not strong enough to withstand Conor Edwards’ touch.
“Taylor, what’s wrong?” The hurt in his eyes is immediate and gutting.
I can’t form the words. I remember how frustrated I was last month when he wasn’t communicating with me, and yet here I am, doing the same thing. But his shit was righted by the simple act of telling his family the truth, removing himself from Kai’s influence.
My shit isn’t going away. The truth won’t help a goddamn bit, because the Internet is fucking forever.