Page 11

Turning off the water, I shook my head and reminded myself not to be offended. It wasn’t like I wanted him.

After drying off, I reached for my robe and slipped it on. The shower rings screeched as I pulled back the curtain. Suzanne stood in front of the mirror brushing her teeth.

“Hey, you!” she mumbled around a mouthful of toothpaste.

“Hey. How was your date?”

Rolling her eyes, she bent her head and spit in the sink. “Fine until his ex-girlfriend walked into the place with her new boyfriend and then he couldn’t stop staring at them all through dinner. Turns out he took me to her favorite restaurant. Nice, right?”

I winced as I inched toward the door. “What a dick.”

She nodded. “ I would have had more fun going out with you.”

“I’ll remind you of that the next time you ditch me for a date,” I called, halfway through the door.

“Hey!” she called out defensively. “I’d understand if you canceled your plans for a date.”

I snorted. “And why would I ever do that?”

“Oh, someday you will. I just know it! When you meet Mr. Right.” Her words rang out as I headed into the hall.

Suzanne read too many romance novels. She was starting to believe in them. Shaking my head, I entered my room and made quick work of getting dressed. I dried my hair so icicles wouldn’t form when I stepped outside, already knowing exactly where I was headed this morning.

Hair dried and minimally styled, I applied light makeup and pulled on my heavy coat. Tossing a thick scarf around my neck, I slipped on my Uggs.

It was still early enough that not too many people were up and about. I made a beeline across campus for the Java Hut, hoping the caffeine would help my aching head. My stomach grumbled the instant I entered the popular campus coffee shop. It was practically impossible to get a seat during the week. At the moment the line was relatively short, only two people in front of me. Sorority girls from the looks of them and the Greek letters emblazoned on their butts.

One of the baristas spotted me. “Hey, Emerson!”

He was familiar. I think I fooled around with him at a party last semester.

“Hey!” My gaze flicked to his name badge. “Jeff.”

He grabbed a cup from the stack. Pen in hand, he scribbled my name on the cup. “What do you have?”


The girls in front of me shot me a not-so-nice look, clearly not appreciating my drink order coming before theirs.

The cashier shot them an apologetic look and started to punch the keys until Jeff stalled her with a hand on her arm. “I got this,” he murmured while sending me a wink.

The cashier shook her head and turned to the two sorority girls. “What can I get for you?”

With a last withering glare for me, they stepped up and ordered.

I smiled weakly at Jeff. “You didn’t have to do that.” Really, I wished that he hadn’t.

“I wanted to.” He shrugged. “Small perk of the job. Buying a drink for a cute girl.”

“Thanks,” I said, because at this point it would cause more of a scene to resist.

“So how’ve you been? You have a good holiday?” he asked as he began frothing milk for my drink.

“Yes, thank you.”

“Awesome. Went skiing. My uncle just bought a place in Vermont. Only a few hours from here. Lets me use it anytime. You ski? You should come with me one weekend before the snow melts. There’s a hot tub.” He lifted his eyebrows suggestively and I knew just what he was imagining we could do in that hot tub.

“Um. Maybe.”

“Cool. You still got my number?”

Had I ever had it? I nodded.

“Well, don’t be afraid to use it.” He sealed the lid on my cup, and leaned across the counter toward me, bracing his hands on the marble. “You didn’t call me back when I called you last time.”

I accepted the cup, fidgeting with the edge of the cardboard sleeve uncomfortably, unsure how to respond. Most guys were happy with a fling. Sometimes they called, but they never cornered me about it like this when I didn’t call them back.

He winked and held up both hands. “Hey, it’s cool. I’ll call you later.”

I smiled and nodded like that would be good. “Thanks for the drink.”

Turning, I walked across the wood floor, sipping from my steaming cup. I’d meant to order a muffin, too, but no way was I turning around for another dose of awkward.

Stepping outside, I tugged my soft scarf high against my chin and turned in the direction of the art building.


Looking up, I watched as Georgia trotted across the street, tugging Harris after her.

“Hey,” I greeted her.

“Hi,” she replied in her sultry Alabama accent, cheeks flushed from the cold. “What’s up? Where you headed?”

“I’m going to work in the studio.”

She nodded. “What’d you end up doing last night?”

I hesitated. Now would be the moment to tell her that Annie ditched me, but then that would lead to the topic of how I got home . . . and where I spent the night.

I settled for: “Went out with Annie.”

Georgia pulled a face, revealing just how little she thought of Annie.

“Bet ya’ll had fun.” Harris looked me up and down, his lip curling ever so slightly, and I wanted to kick him. I knew he thought I was a slut. Annie, too. I could read his dirty thoughts as he considered me. He was probably picturing Annie and me taking on half the football team or something. Judgy little bastard. I didn’t get why Georgia didn’t see it. I guess she was blinded by the fact that they’d been together since her sophomore year of high school. I knew his type though. He was happy to keep his pretty girlfriend, but he was always looking at other girls . . . leering at me. I had no evidence of him cheating, but I’d be surprised if he didn’t enjoy the offerings to be had at one of his fraternity parties when Georgia wasn’t around.

Georgia buried her hands in her front coat pockets and rocked on her heels. “Well, what are you doing tonight?”

I shrugged. “No plans yet.”

“Pepper mentioned a party.”

“We have that dinner party, Georgia, remember?” Harris reminded her.

She angled her head, frowning. “No.”

“At the home of my dad’s friend. The president of First National Bank, remember? I’m hoping to intern there.”