“No freaking way. How could he do that to you?” I pull away to study her closely. “He’d be an idiot if he dumped you for some other dumb girl.”
She shrugs. “Maybe Chad is an idiot. I don’t know. He could change. I could change.”
Chad? That’s such a snotty rich boy name. He had that snotty rich boy look too, with the white polo shirts and the khaki shorts. “So you two have been together since high school?”
“We met in geometry our junior year.” A sigh escapes her as she withdraws from my arms and settles back against the couch. I felt silly giving her a hug considering I don’t know her that well but she seems to appreciate it. “We’ve had our ups and downs but I know he’s the one for me. We graduated high school and went to our local community college together for the past two years.”
That makes her about my age. “I’m surprised you’re going to different universities then, if you’ve stayed committed to each other that long.” Like, I’m really surprised. If she’s so crazy for Chad the rich boy then why aren’t they staying together?
“His parents made him.” Her lips tighten into a thin, straight line. “They don’t really approve of me. They want someone for him that’s closer to their financial…stature.”
My stomach twists. I wouldn’t doubt for a moment that if Gabe and I would’ve become serious—ha ha, that’s hilarious—his parents would feel the same about me as Chad’s parents feel about Gina. “I don’t judge. Heck, I can’t. I’m here on financial aid and student loans,” I confess softly.
Her eyes widen with surprise. “Me too,” she whispers.
I’m surprised. Maybe Chad showers her with gifts. Maybe that’s why she has so much fabulous stuff. It’s all starting to come together now. “So I don’t care what your financial stature is.” I make quote marks in the air when I say the words financial stature because who talks like that besides rich people? “I’ll like you for you. Not because of how much money you or your family makes.”
“My parents are middle class and I have two brothers and a sister,” she admits. “I’m the oldest and I always had to help out with everything. This is the first taste of freedom I’ve ever experienced and I don’t want to miss a thing.”
She presses her lips together, the guilty look in her eyes making me wonder if she believes she’s confessed a terrible sin.
I want her to know that she’s not alone.
“I’m an only child who was raised by a single mom. This is the first time I’ve ever been truly free of her meaningful yet overbearing ways.”
Gina smiles and reaches out to grab hold of my hand. “I think you’ve just become my new best friend.”
“Why the hell are you so grumpy?” Tristan socks me in the arm as he walks past me. Hard.
I’ve been grumpy since I left Santa Barbara a month ago. My parents are boggled by my attitude. I’m the easygoing one. The son who does what they want with no protest though I complain to everyone else who’ll listen—and my parents, they never listen. Funny enough, it’s my little sister Sydney who’s more of the rebel. She gave them a rash of shit when we first arrived in Texas and hasn’t let up since.
Though I might not rebel against my parents verbally, I am the one who’s off screwing everything in a skirt, drinking myself into oblivion and running an illegal gambling house for the past three years while I’m in college. So I’m sowing my oats. Getting it out of my system. Whatever else Mom says with obvious disdain when we discuss my college life. As if she knows what it’s like to let loose and be bad. She left my grandparents’ home and married my dad at the ripe old age of nineteen.
She’s been miserable ever since.
“Not in the mood to head back onto campus tomorrow,” I finally mutter, knowing it’s a lame excuse. I’d rather be in school and give myself something to do than sit around and daydream about Lucy all day. That gets me absolutely nowhere.
“Isn’t your work load easier this semester?” Tristan asks as he moves about the kitchen, grabbing himself a beer out of the refrigerator.
I’m at Tristan and Shep’s house, hanging out since I have nothing else better to do. School starts tomorrow. We reopen for business on Wednesday. In the meanwhile I’ve been prepping and getting ready since I’m the one who actually owns and lives in the house where we run the gambling house.
“I have a couple of extra courses I’d been putting off that I need to take care of this semester. I really don’t want to deal but not like I have a choice,” I tell him as I flick my chin in the direction of the beer clutched in his hand. “Grab me one of those, will you?”
Tristan reopens the fridge, gets a beer and turns to toss it at me. Luckily enough I have quick reflexes and catch the bottle of beer before it could land on the floor and make a shitty mess.
“You’re lucky you caught that,” a female voice says from behind me.
I turn to find Jade scooting past me, a scowl on her face as she heads for Tristan. “And you’re a jackass for throwing it,” she says, stabbing him in the center of his chest with her index finger.
“Ow.” Tristan rubs his chest where she poked him. “Why are you so hard on me all the time, J?”
“Because you’re a complete asshole, T,” she says, mimicking his tone.
I smirk as I twist the cap off my beer and set it on the counter. “She in charge of keeping you in line now too?” I ask before I take a swig.
Tristan scowls at the both of us. “More like she keeps Shep in line.”
“I’ll have you know that I keep her in line,” Shep says as he enters the kitchen from the other doorway that leads to the living room. He comes up behind his girlfriend and slips his arms around her, his hands resting across her stomach. “She needs a firm hand, let me tell you.”
“Stop,” she mutters, slapping his forearm. But she’s smiling and Shep is kissing her neck so I assume they’re not really angry. And maybe she likes a firm hand. Lucy always seemed to like it when I bossed her around in bed.
Watching them together these last few days since I’ve been home has been difficult. Makes me miss Lucy a lot, which is the craziest thing ever. There is no reason I should miss her. We had a fling. That’s it. That’s what I kept telling myself the entire time I was in Texas. Hell, after a few days of daily texting I started to wean myself off. Put distance between us.
It was easier that way. I could convince myself that it was working, that I wouldn’t miss her as bad. Want her as bad. Funny thing is, I haven’t texted her in a solid two weeks. Haven’t seen her pretty face, kissed those amazing lips or touched that sexy body in a month and I want her so fucking bad I can hardly see straight.
But I refuse to call her. Refuse to text her anymore. I need to let her go. Find some other pretty girl and get laid. That’ll help me move on, I’m sure of it.
“We should go out tonight,” I suggest.
“Oh, no,” Jade starts as Tristan offers a resounding hell yeah in answer.
At least I have someone on my side.
“Come on, Jade,” I say, watching as she turns back and sends a look in Shep’s direction. “You should go out with us tonight. Let Shep here come out to play.”