Because he is. He’s nothing to me.
Absolutely, positively nothing.
“You can wear that cute little denim skirt like you did last time or…oh! I know what you can wear.” Kelli dashes off toward the closet and throws it open, digging around until she pulls out a tiny pair of denim cutoff shorts. “I just bought these. I want you to wear them.”
Kelli’s shorter than me. I could probably shove myself into those shorts but I’d be all legs. “Don’t you think my butt cheeks will hang out of them?”
She shoves the shorts into my hands, a giant smile on her face. “Yes. Isn’t that the point? You’ll drive him out of his mind.”
“Who? Joel?” More like give him the wrong message.
“No, not Joel.” She rolls her eyes. “Shep.”
I shake my head. “I can’t wear these. I’ll look like I’m trying too hard.”
“You’re wearing them. And you’re going to look fucking amazing in them. I know it.” She waves a hand at me. “Try them on.”
“Seriously?” I hold them up, examining the frayed edges. Oh, these are short. My ass cheeks will definitely hang out the back of these shorts.
“Do it. Right now.” Kelli snaps her fingers and with a sigh I shove off my cotton shorts, grab the cutoffs and slip them on.
They fit perfectly. Crap. I go to the full-length mirror that hangs on the wall and examine myself. My makeup is half on, my hair is in a sloppy bun on top of my head and I look like I have legs for miles.
Miles and miles and miles.
“Oh yeah.” Kelli comes up just behind me, beaming. “You are definitely wearing those shorts.”
“Were you going to wear them?” I ask weakly, turning to the side. Oh my God. “Because I don’t want to take them from you. And my ass is practically hanging out. Look at me.” What the hell am I doing? Trying to impress Shep who probably won’t even be there? So I’ll end up wasting all of this time and a perfectly good outfit for nothing. And I might end up setting Joel on fire too, the very last thing I want to do.
I like Joel, but I have no plans on dating him again. Even though I consider him more my speed, it wouldn’t be fair of me to pretend I’m interested in him when I…am interested in someone else.
“Fucking Shep Prescott.” I turn to face Kelli, who’s practically bouncing up and down and clapping her hands. I’ve changed my mind. I am so wearing this. Fuck him. “We need to find the skimpiest top in this closet. Whether it’s mine or yours, I’m wearing it tonight.”
“On it.” Kelli salutes me before she starts skimming through the closet. “How about a tank top? That’s sexy without trying too hard.”
“Perfect.” I reach up and take the band from my hair, shaking it out so it tumbles past my shoulders, almost to the middle of my back. He likes it best when my hair is down. He likes to see my freckles too so I won’t wear any foundation or powder tonight. I’ll play up my eyes instead. Wear a pretty pink lipstick that makes my lips look big. Give him exactly what he wants.
And then walk away from him without a second glance.
“I can’t believe you convinced me to come to this fucking party,” I mutter as I glance around the room, watching everyone with disdain. Yeah, I’m acting the prick. Reveling in it really because fuck me, I’m frustrated. Frustrated with everyone, but especially myself.
“You’ve been such a dick, I figured a night of drinking would do you some good.” Tristan points at the red cup I’m holding. “So bottoms up dude.”
I chug the weak beer, wishing for something stronger. Harder. Preferably vodka. Tristan’s right. I’ve been a total dick. I need to get wasted. Drown my problems with booze and hope to hell I’ll black out by the end of the night.
Anything to help me forget Jade.
“You need to find a girl too,” Tristan says, scanning the room, whistling low. “We definitely have our pick tonight.”
I don’t bother looking. Instead, I stare at the bottom of my cup, which is now disappointingly empty. “No chicks,” I mutter.
“What?” I glance up to find Tristan staring at me like I’ve lost my damn mind. “Are you serious? You definitely need a chick. Fuck the pain away. Isn’t there a song called that?”
I have no idea what he’s talking about. “Women are trouble. Every single one of them,” I mutter, thinking of one in particular. Though she did no wrong. She was fucking perfect. Sucking my dick like she practically got off on it and instead of showing my eternal gratitude—what I should’ve done, I’d been dreaming of those fucking perfect cock sucking lips from the moment I first met her—I pushed her away. Took her home, dropped her off without even a kiss to remember me by and never called her again.
The truth? She scared me. My reaction to her scared me. Instead of being a man and talking to her like a responsible adult, I ran like a little kid. Not that she called me or texted me in return. Knowing Jade, she’s most likely furious at me.
Not that I can blame her.
She’s all I can think about. All I want. I screwed this up royally and I don’t know how to make it right. But I freaked out. Freaked out so bad when all those overwhelming emotions came rushing at me…
Regret washes over me now, and I blow out a harsh breath, tell myself to get a grip. I’ll get over her. I will. I swear I will.
“You’re still twisted up over her, aren’t you?” Tristan shakes his head, his eyes full of…is that concern? Get outta here. “What the hell did she do to you anyway?”
Everything. She blew my mind. Rocked my world. Made me smile. Made me laugh. Made me want something I never considered possible.
A chance with a girl. A chance at a committed relationship, something that usually scared the hell out of me, and with good reason. Look at my parents—worst example of a supposed solid, loving relationship ever. They can barely tolerate each other. I don’t want that. I’d rather be alone.
Or so I thought. A few weeks with Jade and I want…more. Too much. I can’t do it. Can’t face it. Face her. So instead…
I pretended she didn’t exist like I’m some sort of callous, heartless asshole. Guess I’m just following in the steps of my dear old dad.
Inhaling deep, I clench my jaw, my fingers squeezing the cup so hard it crumples under my grip. I freaking hate myself for falling into the same old patterns. For not being man enough to face my fears and go for it.
Instead I’m alone as usual, at a stupid frat party and drowning my sorrows in cheap ass beer while hanging out with my stupid cousin who’s as much of a commitment-phobe as I am.
“I don’t want to talk about her,” I finally say, offering Tristan a grim smile. “Is there anything harder in this house? I’ll need to drink an entire keg to get a buzz.”
Tristan laughs. “Yeah, man. I know where the secret stash is. You want something in particular?”
Would asking for an entire bottle of vodka seem too greedy? “Vodka. As much as you can find me,” I tell him instead.
“Got it. Give me a couple minutes.” Tristan tilts his head toward the crowd. “Why don’t you go mingle? It might do you some good.”