“On second thought, I could use a break…”

“Don’t break too long, then. The guys and I will be putting together a few of the torches outside if you need us, and while we work, I’ll think about inviting you to our party.”

I waved him away and walked over to the couch, collapsing on the rug instead of sitting next to Carter.

“Too tired to even make it to the couch?” He smirked. “Are you sure you don’t want me to take you home?”

That actually might be a great idea right now...

“Come here.” He grabbed my arm and pulled me closer, positioning me between his legs. Then he began to gently massage my shoulders.

I shut my eyes and leaned back a bit, relishing the feel of his hands on my skin—trying hard not to focus on the fact that my nerves were currently on edge.

“How are things with you and Chris?” he asked.

“Things are pretty good actually. We went out for a run yesterday morning…He’s a pretty decent kisser.”

“So does that mean there’s a high chance that the two of you will have pretty decent sex?”

“I think we’ll have amazing sex.” I swallowed as he pressed his palm against the back of my neck. “I also think it will be so amazing that it will make you jealous when I tell you all about it.”

“Please don’t.” He let out a low laugh. “You should definitely invite him to the party.”

“I did.”

“Do I need to loan you my room to make sure you get the job done?”


“Why not?”

“Because, although he appreciated the invite, he can’t come. He works the night shift that day…How are things with you and Tina?”

“Nothing is happening,” he said, kneading my shoulders one last time. “I still need to call her back.”

“Any reason why you’re dragging your feet?” I looked up at him.

“I haven’t figured that out yet…”


Neither of us said anything for a few minutes, we just stared at one another. His leaned down, moving a strand of hair away from my face and I felt my heart speed up, felt it thump and rock against my chest in a way it never had before.

“EPIC with a capital E!” Josh shouted, making us break away. “We now have the slogan for the party.”

“Congratulations,” Carter said, still looking at me.

“I knew you’d like it.” Josh smiled. “Also, I need a quick reaffirmation from both of you for my friend Martin here.” He pointed to the six foot guy who was standing next to him.

We exchanged confused glances.

“Please tell him that sex is the number one cause of ruin for all male to female friendships.” Josh crossed his arms. “Before you answer, let me state the facts: One, if you sleep with the person who knows you best, you’re creating a potential enemy. Two, once you have sex—the shit is never the same. Three, if you don’t end up together, then you can’t be friends. Ever. Do I sound like I’m making perfect sense or no?”

“It sounds like you’re speaking from personal experience…” I stood up and nodded at his friend. “But…You do make a lot of sense.”

“Perfect sense.” Carter was suddenly at my side, extending his hand to Martin. “You should never sleep with your best friend. He’s right. It’ll never work out for the long term.”

“But what if we both agree not to let it?”

“Nah…” Me, Carter, and Josh uttered the same thing in unison and laughed.

“Now that we’ve cleared that up,” Josh said, smiling. “I don’t mind you being around late tonight, Carter, but we’re about to discuss some serious Epsilon Chi business, so could you kindly take your other half home? Her driving services were greatly appreciated today.”

I rolled my eyes and tossed him a corkscrew. “I’ll come back and organize the alcohol tomorrow. Although, I think I’ll have to do them by color and not by brand since it looks like you stupidly tore off all of the labels.”

“Not stupidly. Deliberately, my friend. They’re for our new spin on the wet T-shirt contest.”

“You disgust me.”

“And you arouse me.” He playfully licked his lips.

“Enough, you two...” Carter grabbed his car keys. “I’ll be back. Please try not to burn down my house while I’m gone.”

“Our house.” He practically shooed us out the door. “And I’ll do my best.”

On the way home, Carter and I acted as if that moment near the couch never happened.

The night ended like it usually did in the summer after classes: Him pulling up to my house, waiting on me to go inside before pulling off, and then a late text a few hours later:

You feel like talking or getting a late dinner with me?

Ninth Grade

Dear Arizona,

You owe me twenty dollars.



Dear Carter,

Could you at least TRY to look like you’re paying attention in class? And why are you passing me a note when we both have cell phones?



Dear Arizona,

I didn’t see the twenty dollars you owe me in your last note. Please respond with the appropriate funds. Thanks.



Dear Carter,

The only way I could possibly owe you twenty dollars is if you had sex/lost your virginity this weekend. And since we both know you didn’t, you can stop pretending like you did. You can, however, send me twenty dollars for putting up with this note writing bullshit.