Page 24

Outside, I shiver from the cold as I pile all my winter clothes on. I didn’t want to do it in the lecture hall under Laurie’s gaze. The man might be a legend in the fashion world, and he did seem nice enough, but I got such a weird vibe from him.

Ugh. I don’t know. Maybe I’m reading too much into it.

Since this was my only class for the day, I’m free as a bird, so I text Brenna asking if she’s on campus. She’s quick to answer.

BRENNA: Library

* * *

ME: Just finished class. Wanna grab lunch at the diner?

* * *

BRENNA: Yessss. Come get me?

* * *

ME: Kk. 10 min

* * *

ME: Be prepared to discuss MH or I won’t let you in my car!

This time, there’s a delay in her response. Shocking. I texted her a bunch of times yesterday begging her to tell me exactly what happened between her and Hollis, but she refused to discuss it.

BRENNA: MH?

Seriously? She’s going to play dumb?

ME: Mike Hollis. AKA king of the bros. I want all the deets today or else this friendship is over.

* * *

BRENNA: I’ll miss u

* * *

ME: You think I’m bluffing? I’ve cut friends off for not tagging me in Insta posts. I’m ruthless, Bee.

* * *

BRENNA: Don’t believe u

* * *

ME: Arggghhh! Come on, please?? I can’t take it anymore. I must find out 1) his dick size and 2) WTF WERE U THINKING

After another long pause, she responds with: Fine. You win.

Despite my threats, I don’t push Brenna to talk about Hollis during the drive to Hastings. We discuss our classes instead, and I confess that I’m feeling a tad uneasy about my professor.

“I got a pervy vibe from him,” I say as I search for street parking.

“What’s his name?”

“Erik Laurie.”

“Never heard of him.”

There’s no reason why she would, unless she follows the fashion world closely, which I know she doesn’t. I give her a quick rundown of his credentials before describing the chronic winking.

“Maybe he doesn’t understand the concept?” she suggests. “Like, to him, winking could be another form of smiling. So if you give him a compliment, he says Thanks! Wink. And when he greets people, he goes, Nice to meet you! Wink.”

I bite my lip to stop from laughing. “Are you fucking with me right now?”

“Of course I am. Nobody is that dumb. Winking is flirting. Everyone knows that.”

“So he was flirting with me?”

“Probably?” She rolls her eyes. “And if you try to tell me this is the first time a prof has ever flirted with you, I won’t believe you.”

“No, it’s happened before,” I admit. “But I wasn’t expecting it from this one. He’s so respected in the industry.”

Her loud snort echoes in the car. “Right. Because well-respected men can’t possibly be douchebags. Do we need to have a talk about the current climate in Hollywood?”

“No, let’s not go there.” I find a spot and squeeze my Audi into it.

Five minutes later, we’re seated across from each other in one of the retro, red vinyl booths. Brenna orders a coffee, black. I order a mint tea with lemon. Somehow that sums up this friendship of ours. Appearance wise, I’m all about light colors and nude makeup, while Brenna prefers smoky eyes and black everything. In terms of personality, I’m more carefree, she’s edgier, but we’re both a little nuts. It’s a hoe-mance for the ages.

“Okay, I’ve let you avoid it for long enough,” I announce after the waitress takes our order. “Are you ready?”

She wraps both hands around her coffee cup. “Hit me.”

For more than a day, my overflowing curiosity has been contained by a dam named Brenna. Now that she’s broken, there’s no stopping the flood.

“Is he a good kisser? What’s our penis situation like? Did he go down on you? Did you sleep with him? Why did you do this? Is he annoying in bed? Do you regret it? Is he—”

“Omigod!” Brenna exclaims. “I am not answering any of that.”

I get one last question in before the buzzer. “Do you have a boyfriend now?”

“No, but I have an ex-best friend,” she says sweetly.

I ignore that. “Speaking of your boyfriend, he walked in on me in the shower this morning.”

That momentarily distracts her from whatever murder plot she’s devising about me in her head. “What?”

“Hollis walked in on me showering.”

She perks up. “Nice. So I don’t need to punish you for referring to him as my boyfriend. The universe did it for me.”

“It was so embarrassing.” I fill her in on the morning’s theatrics, ending with the grand finale: my towel dropping in front of three boxers-clad college boys.

She purses her lips. “You just described the setup for a porno, so I assume the scene ended with you jacking them all off?”

“No, you brat. It ended with Fitz promising to fix the lock. Which was nice of him,” I force myself to add.

“See? I told you, he’s a good guy.”

“Are you sure about that? Because I saw him outside my lecture hall earlier and he didn’t even say hello. He looked right at me and then ignored me.”

“Maybe he didn’t see you.”

“Did you miss the part where I literally just said he looked at me?”

She lets out a sigh. “He’s really not as bad as you think, Summer.” Under her breath, she mumbles, “Hollis, on the other hand…”

I pounce like a jackalope. Well, if a jackalope pounces, that is. And if I knew what a jackalope was. “If Hollis is such a bad guy, then why’d you sleep with him?”

“Because I was drunk. And we didn’t sleep together.”

“As I recall, you weren’t wearing pants yesterday morning…”

“I’m not sure if you learned this in sex ed, but it is possible to be naked with someone and not have sex.” She throws me another bone by relenting, “He’s not a terrible kisser.”

“Are you going to hook up with him again?”

“Absolutely not.”

Our food arrives, and Brenna is extra speedy about taking a huge bite of her club sandwich. I suspect it’s so she doesn’t have to talk.

I pick at my chicken Caesar salad with my fork, my appetite easing slightly as I remember what else happened today. “Some girl in my History of Fashion class asked Fitz out.”

Brenna answers while chewing. “Really? Who?”

“Nora something or other. This little indie chick with pink hair.” I take a tiny bite of my salad. “He said yes.”

“How do you know he said yes?”

“I heard her telling her friends.”

“Okay.” Brenna swallows and sets the sandwich on her plate. “I’m not sure what the proper response is—do you want me to be happy for Fitzy that he’s gettin’ some, or outraged on your behalf because you still have a thing for him?”

“I don’t have a thing for him,” I object instantly.

“Doth protest, et cetera et cetera.”

I glare at her. “Of course doth protest. I’m not attracted to guys who think I’m fluff.”

“Mmm-hmmm. So you’re saying if he called you up right now and said, Hey Summer, I’d like to take you on a date and possibly show you my penis at the end of it? You’re telling me you’d say no?”

“One hundred percent.”

“Bullshit.”

“Fitz can date every woman at this college for all I care. He blew his chance with me.”

“Bullshit.”

“He did.”

“Bullshit.”

I growl in aggravation. “You’re such a child.”

“Right. I’m the child. Just admit you still like him.”

“Sure, if you admit you enjoyed fooling around with Hollis,” I challenge.

It’s a stalemate.

Brenna shrugs and resumes eating. I keep picking at my salad. My appetite is completely gone now, because the knowledge that Fitz is going out with another girl bothers me much more than I thought it would.

In high school, I was a cheerleader, captain of the dance team, and co-captain of the girls’ swim team. The latter meant that I didn’t just hang out with hot football players, but hot swimmers as well. The boys with the lean muscles and smooth, aerodynamic bodies. So I’m not at all fazed the next evening as I lounge on the couch next to a very hairless Mike Hollis.

The bare arm resting haphazardly on the cushion between us and the bare legs up on the coffee table don’t have a single hair on them, yet somehow this doesn’t take away from his masculinity. Hollis might be annoying, but he does have sex appeal, I’ll give him that.

Also, he and I—and this slightly horrifies me, as I’m not sure what it says about me—have a lot more in common than I ever could have imagined. In the past hour, I’ve discovered that he prefers tea to coffee, isn’t ashamed to say he loves Harry Styles’ solo album, and is as obsessed with the movie Titanic as I am. It’s currently playing on one of the movie networks the guys subscribe to. We landed on it at the halfway point, and the film is now gearing up for all the epic, devastating moments.

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