“I cannot believe I’m making you guys drag me to this party,” I whined. The search for a parking space along the long lineup of vehicles got on my nerves. At this point, it was like finding a needle in a haystack.
Why wouldn’t it? This was the party of the year. Everyone was here. It was the first event to kick off the semester after summer. From a social standpoint, it was the best and most important place to be. An appearance was even more essential for freshmen. It was critical to start their college journey on a high.
“Well, yeah. I mean, this is the best party of the freaking year,” Stacy beamed, bouncing in her seat.
“Plus, we’re juniors for crying out loud,” Simon added. His over-exaggeration was on point. “We deserve to enjoy a little fun before our professors haul us back on the track of Nerdville.” The drama king pushed his head between our seats.
Simon had a point. Everyone wanted the full experience of college. I was no different. Attending a college party to keep up my social status was something I looked forward to in the past. My opinions changed last semester. This was our junior year in college. My courses were going to be hectic. I planned to enjoy the little quiet time this week allowed me. A party was not on my bucket list.
“Uh-huh!” Stacy agreed, a little too loud for my taste. “I don’t know about you guys, but if I ever have another boring book year, I’m gonna kill somebody. All work and no play make Stacy’s kitty a dull cat.”
Simon ground in his seat. “I could not agree with you more. Ah, not about the dull kitty part, but the boring book year. As soon as I’m there, I’m gonna get me laid.”
I couldn’t help but chuckle at his silliness. What could I say? My friends were crazy. We have had a long and difficult journey since freshman year. The three of us met at the freshman seminar and hit it off right away. Simon and Stacy knew each other in high school. I was an addition to their gang. It was as if we were born to be friends. An outrageous encounter.
“Don’t forget the football players will be there,” Simon announced. He wiggled his eyebrows at me through the rearview mirror. “Not to mention Damion Richardson.”
Oh, yay! Not!
I was over jocks. If there was ever a choice to date an athlete, I would go with hockey. Gone were the days when Footballers were at the top of the social chain. I had wasted too much of my life on one of them to consider doing it again. It ended up painting me in a dark light. Not again. Not ever.
“Gosh, yes! This is your last chance, Emily. You have to lure him to at least fuck your brains out before he graduates. You did hear he got drafted, right?” There Stacy went again in that delightful tone. Anyone would have thought she was the one drafted into the National Football League. Her reaction was too irritable to even ponder too much about it.
“Hmmm.” I kept my eyes out of the vehicle. The faster we found a parking space, the sooner their pestering would stop. The busy street slowed my progress, though. College students traversed on the road and on the pavement.
Damion had plenty of time and opportunity to approach me. He chose not to. The Quarterback was too busy shagging other girls to notice me. When he did notice me, he had nothing good to say. The murmurs about my obsessiveness rose. It ruined my reputation. Long gone was my title as the college princess. An evening in the bathroom made me aware of my new nickname. The obsessive freak.
Such a title wouldn’t matter for normal people like Simon and Stacy. Not me, though. I worked too hard to be a role model. Yet, with one dumb decision after the next, it went into shambles. Obsessive freak? There was no freaking way that nickname wasn’t going to follow me out of college. Thanks to that hot bastard Damion.
Simon ignored my lack of interest in the subject. “Uh-huh! I agree with Stacy on this one. You gotta set up that fishing net, girl. Fuck his brains out before you become the girl that’s singing, ′he’s the one that got away’.”
“You and Stacy always agree,” I grumbled, dismissing the notes in Katy Perry’s song.
I wasn’t trying to be a bitch. My friends knew the history Damion and I had. It amazed me how they continued to push the subject.
Damion Richardson and I bumped into each other during my freshman year on campus. He was that knight in shining armor, who aided the new girl in navigating the school map. In the end, he went back to his friends and left me with a huge crush. I spent two years trying to get him to notice me. Two years wasted. Anyone who said a book nerd could never be a puck bunny needed a slap across the face.
As if the universe was trying to help me, I glimpsed a narrow parking space between a pick-up and a range rover. No doubt this was the parking spot for the big wigs: the sports guys. If this were any other time, I would have cared. Not tonight, though.
I snatched the space before any of those athletics jerks noticed it. Shutting off the vehicle, I couldn’t help but let out, “Anyways, if he was interested—”
“He would have asked for your number when you met,” my friends finished together.
Rolling my eyes, I hopped out of the black Civic and pressed the key fob to lock the car. Its beep followed. Simon and Sarah stared off at the busy frat house. They were bound to catch an eye or two tonight. They often attracted attention, no matter the occasion.
Simon’s dark blue shirt complimented his sky-blue eyes. His playboy looks sprouted from his short blonde hair and trustworthy face. A big addition to his muscular physique. A shame he was hot enough to attract both genders. The monster was aware of his powers and used them to his advantage.
I shook my head, turning to Stacy. The matching-colored blue and black dress hugged her curves. The V-cut top exposed most of her breast. No doubt all the horny drunk guys were going to notice it. The dress intended to show off her back to the world, but her hair had other plans. Its red curls cascaded over the once exposed skin. Oh, how I envied her hair. It glistened with radiance from the soft moonlight. The curls spoke volume and health while mine was straight. Too flat.
“Plus,” I drawled, regaining their attention. “Need I remind you I’ve stalked the guy non-stop for two years like a puck bunny. Never once has he tried to talk to me after our first encounter. The guy even hooked up with Camille.” A shaky laugh slipped out. “Camille, people!”
They shared a glance, deciding not to continue with the sore subject.
Last semester Camille and I were social. We had one thing in common: Damion Richardson. We did every and anything that got us close to the football team. She was a cheerleader, my in-man. It all ended when Damion slept with her. There was no use in us being allies anymore. She won the prize. I didn’t. The curtains closed.
Frustration watered the sprout of annoyance in the pit of my stomach. I followed Stacy and Simon into the frat house. After all, I decided it was time to forget the pathetic mistakes of my old self and have fun for once. Something I forgot to do.
I didn’t waste time getting a cup of water-down liquor. This was my year to piece my life back together. No more athletic guys. No more obsessive behavior. This was the year to recover what I lost two years ago: myself.
The frat house packed with college students never prevented me from enjoying myself. It was refreshing when no one stared at me weirdly. The heavy music drowned out the whispers. If any existed. Tonight, I wasn’t the obsessive freak. I was Emily, a doctor in the making. A freaking bombshell.
I did what was best for me. I partied like there was no tomorrow. My feet never left the drink station. It was the place to be. Not because I feared the crowd. Nope. It was to drown my past. A few drinks to celebrate the birth of a new woman. I juggled dancing and water-down shots. The perfect ceremonial acts.
A familiar head of short brown hair caught in my peripheral vision. Dylan floated across my mind. A smile tugged on my lips as the memory of our friendship danced at the forefront of my brain. He was a frat member at this house. I didn’t dear move, though. Our friendship ended a long time ago. He wouldn’t want to see me now. We were over. Done. In the past like everything else.
A ping of sorrow swirled in my gut. I pursed my lips and hunted for a bathroom at the overwhelming cry from my bladder. Not bothering to join the long line downstairs, I ran upstairs. Lucky for me, the first room was vacant. I bounced to the bathroom and freed the good stuff.
The grin on my face remained during my washing up. The girl in the mirror returned the smile. She seemed okay. In time, I would find myself and laugh at all the silliness from the stressful two years.
“You’re doing great,” I encouraged her. The first step was showing up at this party. At this point, nothing could get me down. I added more lipstick to my already crimson lips. A morale booster.
Noise interrupted my beauty session. The lipstick slid down the middle of my bottom lip. I cringed at the smudge. A thud followed. I closed the door after coming into the bathroom. Wait, didn't I?
I froze at a loud groan. This was one of my least favorite things about parties. No privacy.
“Camille, stop moving so much.” Another groan followed that statement. “I wanna throw up.”
My body went numb at the husky male voice. The name did nothing to thaw out my anxiety. It had to be them.
“No, you’re not. I’m helping you to feel better,” Camille cooed.
Ugh! This could not be happening. Not tonight. Why me of all people?
A sexy chuckle bounced around the room. “I have stomach problems and you think the best medication is a blow job?”
There was no response but more shuffling.
“No, stop.” The male voice was a wounded moan.
More shuffling accompanied it. A groan. A loud bang. Then…
“Camille, I mean it. Get the fuck out!” His voice became more assertive, commanding. It had the type of tone that set off alarms in one’s head. Yet, it also had my heart doing cartwheels.
Camille huffed at the demand. Typical of her.
“Fine,” she whined. “Until next time. You only have yourself to blame if you get sicker.”
“There will be no next time,” he retorted. “I’ll get better on my own. The last time…”
The loud chaos from outside drowned out his words. Silence soon followed. Thank Heavens Camille was gone. It would be one thing to lose Damion to her. I wouldn't survive overhearing them have sex.
I almost sighed in relief. It stopped short at the males a grunt. A loud thud played along then came stomping. The stomping got louder, nearer as if—
The guy busted into the bathroom. He never wasted time lifting the toilet seat before puking his heart out. I stood frozen in place. If the wall could swallow me, I wouldn’t refuse it. This situation was worse than terrible. I sent up a silent prayer that the intruder wouldn't see me.
A groan tore from his throat before more vomit rushed through his lips. Watching him, at his weakest, my heart softened. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. In this case, he was. Either way, it would be far crueler to leave him to die. If people found out, I would be the psycho who left their precious Quarterback to die. I could kiss my recovery strategy goodbye.
The tragic future pushed me forward. I stooped at his side. He welcomed my back rub. Sweat glistened on his naked skin. The nasty aroma threatened to stifle us both. I mumbled reassuring words in his ear.
When his stomach closed, a grunt filled its place. Still issuing soothing words, I helped him to the sink. To be honest, he was the one who got himself there. I stayed close by. He washed his hands and rinsed out his mouth with some of the toothpaste found in the cabinet. I watched him saturate his face.
Somehow, he knew where everything was, right off the bat. Not a surprise. This frat house belonged to most of the football players. He was their captain. The rest said itself.
“Fucking restaurants and their fucking disgusting food,” he cursed.
I sniffed the towel on the towel rack. The freshness prompted me to pluck it from where it hung. I pressed it to Damion’s face, getting rid of the excess water. That must have been when he noticed me.
“Who are you?” he asked.
Huh? A dumb question. What an asshole? We hung out in the same crowd for two years. And yet he didn't even recognize me.
A surge of emotions rushed back. This was why I needed change.
I could not let this get me down.
I shrugged off the saddened taste in my mouth. “Nobody. Don’t worry, I’ll be leaving shortly.”
My answer satisfied him. A curtain of relief fell over his face. Another pang of sadness circled my heart.
When the towel soaked up the water droplets from his face, I ushered him inside the room, to the bed. At first, he stared at the mattress. I never got time to ponder why. He unbuckled his belt and struggled to get off his jeans.
The way his muscle rippled as he fought the garment would have mesmerized the old me. My breath should have hitched when his boxers got exposed. I should have wanted to run my fingers where his abs creased. Stroke his thick thighs. Too bad I didn’t want to do all those things. I had a strong urge to be home, in bed. Somewhere quiet, safe, where I could go back to my recovery process.
Taking a deep breath, I gathered courage and took the lead. I gestured for him to lay on the bed. Damion seemed stunned by my help but later complied, collapsing in mattress. Rolling my eyes at his exaggeration, I tackled his pants, pulling it off him. Once he was free of his torture, he crawled deeper into the bed and flopped down with a loud moan.
He snuggled under the duvet. Mission completed. I turned to leave but halted at his question. “Ah, nobody, where are you going?”
Leave it up to Damion to make a mockery of someone’s depressed state.
“Home,” I abdicated. My voice sounded calmer than I felt.
“Well for one, I’m not in the mood for a party any longer. Two, these shoes are killing me.”
Half of it was true. Wait. Maybe everything. I omitted the part where I wanted to get away from him.
Somehow, I was a bit taken aback by his next words. “Oh, well, I have a better idea. Why don’t you take the shoes off and come and lay beside me.”
A shy smile tilted my lips. This would be a terrible mistake.
“Damion Richardson,” I teased, “I thought you weren’t feeling well.”
He didn’t respond. He stared at me, awaiting a proper response. I scrunched up my nose, pretending to think about it. This was a bad idea. I turned to leave or tried to. Everything else happened too fast. His large hands gripped my arm and pulled me onto the bed. I let out a startled squeal, crashing into hard muscles. His hands wrapped around my waist, holding me in place.
“What are you doing? Let go of me!” I twisted and tossed to get away, but he only pulled me closer to him.
It was a surprise how strong he was for a sick man.
Damn you, Damion! Why were you messing with me?
It didn't take long for my strength to drain. I laid limp. This turned out to be the worst night of my life. “Ugh, fine. I’ll stay. Can I at least take my shoes off?”