Someone to love, p.6
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       Someone to Love, p.6



  I catch her gaze and hold it. Here we are, two wounded birds bearing our souls, pretending we don’t give a shit. Kenny is the princess who grew up without a father telling her she was special, that she was beautiful, that she deserved so much more than a series of one-night stands.

  “You care,” I whisper, wrapping my arms around her waist without waiting for an invitation.

  “Maybe a little.” Her lips curve as she touches the back of my neck. “But that’s over. I can protect my heart now that I know better—now that I know love never works out in the end. Right?”

  My heart thumps unnaturally. I believed in it once and it didn’t work out in the end, but trying to satisfy my body with a revolving door of girls isn’t all it’s cracked up to be either.

  “Let’s get that star on top of the tree.” I hoist her up in the air and elicit a squeal from her in the process. She starts to slip and I place my hand over her bare thigh for support. My entire body enlivens touching her this way.

  “I’m afraid of heights.”

  “Then you’d better make it quick.” I tighten my grip and sit her on my shoulder. It feels good holding Kenny, touching her like this without decimating her body in a fit of smoldering passion—although, that’s pretty damn high on my wish list this Christmas.

  She lands the star on top of the tree and slinks down my body as if I were a pole. Her face lands next to mine, panting from the effort.

  Kenny sighs into me. Her lips bloom into a perfect smile, and for the first time in a long while I feel like I’ve done something right. Suddenly, I want to be the one to tell her she’s special, that she’s beautiful, that she deserves so much more than a series of one-night stands.

  “Yesterday, at the tree lot, you gave me a beautiful gift.” I meant for it to come out playful, but it burns from my lips as if I were stepping too close to the flames. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to give my gift now.”

  “I’ve been waiting for it all morning,” she says in less than a whisper.

  I crash my lips over hers and dive in for one luscious exchange. The warm pool of her mouth draws me in, and I fight a groan working its way out of my throat—my jeans already cinching with a surge of desire.

  I can feel the dark cave of my heart beginning to glow like that star on top of the tree.

  If anything, Kenny has made me believe in magic again.

  The next day, Kenny and I hit the gym. My longtime friend, Cal, owns the place, so I talk him into giving her an indefinite day pass. Kenny heads off to Zumba while I hit the weight room.

  “So fill me in, dude.” Cal tosses a towel over his shoulder and awaits the dirty details. I’ve made the mistake of filling him in with tales from the mattress, far too many times.

  He’s got his head shaved and his body ten shades darker than his face.

  “When you going to dye that bowling ball that sits on your neck to match?” I lie down on the bench and start in on a series of lifts. “Spot me, would you?”

  “Bowling ball? What are you talking about?” He ducks and jives until he catches a glimpse of his ugly mug in the mirror. “I’m a fucking work of art. Three different women offered to give me a blowjob just this past week.”

  “Yeah? How’s that working out for you? Is Lauren going to stand by and oversee the situation? Make sure they’re doing it right?”

  “Lauren.” He balks at the mere mention of his girlfriend. “She’s got a stick up her ass these days. Christmas Eve was a train wreck. She full-on expected me to pull a diamond out of my dick. And when I didn’t, she raised all unholy hell. Now I’m paying for it, and I’ve got the blue balls to prove it. Speaking of train wrecks, you hear from Blair?”

  “She called. I ignored.” Strange. Haven’t heard from her since June and out of the blue she’s called twice, both times I’ve managed to have the stones not to pick up, And now, Cal’s calling her name out like he’s trying to conjure her ghost.

  “Saw her at a party up at Herald hall. She must have asked a million questions about you. I guess things didn’t work out with that douche from Dartmouth.”

  “Too bad.” A searing pain jolts through my chest at the thought of Blair asking about me. Kenny and those hot kisses blink through my mind. Somehow Kenny instantly made things better. She applied the salve over my soul with her own lips—began healing what a thousand girls before her could never hope to do “What Blair and I had is over. If you see her again, you can be the bearer of bad news. She’s the one who made that decision. I’m just backing her for once.”

  He holds his hands in the air as if it were a stickup, and the weights come crashing to my chest.

  “Dude.” He hoists the heavy metal off me and secures it to the post. “You take on way more than you can chew. That’s been your problem since about the third grade. So tell me about this new one—the day pass. She Zumba for you in private? When you’re through, go ahead and send her my way. I have a feeling Lauren is about to hand me my walking papers.”

  Something about Lauren giving Cal his walking papers doesn’t sit right with me. Sure, he’s always had a touch of asshole in him, but that’s just Cal. I thought he and Lauren were a forever kind of deal. I guess Kenny is right—love never works out in the end.

  “You can’t have Kenny.”

  His face ticks back a notch. “Dude, you keeping her?”

  “I’m test driving.” For every dick on the planet, if she gets her way. “She’s got this crazy idea she’s going to be the female version of me.”

  He bobs his head. “Manwhore,” he says without missing a beat.

  “Thanks.” I sit up and catch a brunette across the room openly molesting me with her eyes so I turn to face Cal. “She wants me to teach her the ropes.”

  “Teach her the ropes?” He starts in on a low-lying laugh.

  “She’s staying at the house, so I thought we’d take it slow. She’s never done anything before, and I don’t plan on taking advantage of her.”

  “What?” He jumps back at the insanity as if I’ve just yanked off my balls in a show of dedication to my newfound celibacy. “You’re Cruise Fucking Elton. Fucking is your middle name—remember? You’ve slammed more hot chicks in one season than most men fantasize about in a lifetime. Just because you’ve landed yourself a nice little fuck buddy doesn’t mean she’s gotta ruin your mojo. You’re spermanating for the both of us remember?”

  “Relax, would you?” I hiss in an effort to get him to shut the hell up. God forbid Kenny walk in and hear the words “fuck buddy” being tossed around. “She’s nice. I’m not instructing her in that arena. The only thing I’m teaching her is the fact I’m the last person on earth who should be anybody’s role model. There are plenty of girls like me out there, and believe me, she’s not one of them. I’ll figure out a way to get that idea as far away from her head as possible. She needs a boyfriend, not a line of frat boys leading out of her bedroom.”

  “That’s right. Tell her to stay off your territory. Get her the hell out of the house before she interrupts the line of sorority ass you’ve grown accustomed to.”

  I shoot him a look.

  “About that—I’m taking a break.”

  “What?” His hands collapse over his head as if I’ve just dropped some oncology-based bomb that involves his testicles. “Are you shitting me? You’re taking a break because of this girl? This Kenny—the virgin, who’s pleading for your instructional services? My God, it’s like you’re whipped!” He freezes. “You’re whipped, aren’t you?”

  “I’m not whipped.” I tick my head back a notch. “I hardly know her.” Oddly, I know Kenny better than I’ve known any of the girls I’ve bedded like some fornicating marathon these past several months.

  “We need to find a boyfriend for little Miss Day Pass.” Cal leans in, solemn, as if Kenny’s relationship status had the power to unravel the universe. “I’m telling you, buddy, she’s a fly in the ointment, corrupting the system. Ackerman House is throwing a New Year’s Eve party. It’s
open invite to twelve different schools. That’s twelve different kinds of collegiate ass to sift through, my friend. Do not forget your mission statement—bed, don’t wed.”

  I glance up at him and shake my head. “You really need to stop living vicariously through my dick.”

  “You’d better grow a pair and kick the virgin to the curb before she digs her cute little claws in your back. The next thing you know, you’ll be buying her flowers.” He slaps me over the shoulder and takes off. “Believe me, she’s nothing but trouble.”

  For a second, I envision her nails digging into my back, her legs wrapped around me like a vine. I can’t wait for that moment with Kenny, but the truth is, she deserves a hell of a lot better than me.

  Maybe she is nothing but trouble.

  Maybe she’s the exact kind of trouble I’ve been looking for all along.

  5

  Kendall

  Curl up and Dye

  The week rolls on, and both Cruise and I are finding a rhythm in the house. He cooks breakfast, and I make lunch. Dinner is on the fly and usually sponsored by Johnny Burgers. Cruise mentioned he needed to help out his mom this afternoon, so I’m running errands.

  Driving on snow-slicked roads feels a lot like falling in love. Although I’m totally not falling in love—I’m falling in lust. That’s all that really exists in this world. Everything else is simply an illusion born of self-inflicted desire.

  I’m dodging some serious traffic, thanks to an entire slew of after-Christmas sales as I make my way back from Garrison. I made the mistake of checking on the status of my imaginary dorm room only to be informed Pennington fabricated the fact he put me on a waiting list—turns out there isn’t one.

  I squeeze my hands over the steering wheel and pretend its Pennington’s little, red neck. Speaking of the Alexander clan—I can’t believe Aunt Jackie actually said Russell Hall was for “losers.” Turns out, Aunt Jackie is nothing but a bully who kicked Cruise out of his father’s life so she could slather all of the financial attention on her sweet little Penny boy. Little does she know Pen is nothing but a stoner with a man purse.

  I pull into the Starbucks parking lot and speed into the cheery-looking establishment to avoid the arctic chill. Much to my surprise, none of my warm weather clothes are capable of keeping my body a toasty ninety-eight degrees. I’ve got some serious shopping to do and not a whole lot of cash to do it with.

  “Kendall?” A friendly female calls from the corner, and I spot Lauren and Ally waving me over. I remember them from the Alpha Sigma Phi party. They’re the ones I wanted to go home with, but fate stepped in and I ended up with Cruise instead. Wait, did I just say fate? I so don’t believe in that. Fate is bullshit people force-feed themselves when they’re too lazy to carve out a destiny of their own.

  “How’s it going?” Ally chirps as I take a seat.

  “It’s great. I meant to find you that night at the party. I guess Pennington missed the housing deadline and now I’m homeless.”

  “As in park bench action?” Lauren’s eyes widen as if I’ve just introduced Small Pox to the vicinity.

  “No, as in Cruise Elton action. He’s letting me crash at his place, but I can’t mooch off him forever.”

  They’re quick to exchange glances.

  “So you’re on Cruise control.” Ally sinks a knowing smile. “How’s that working for you?”

  “I hear he’s hotter than a forest fire in bed.” Lauren molests her necklace at thought of Cruise burning up the sheets.

  “I hear his dick is the size of a telephone pole.” Ally’s eyes expand the size of dinner plates as she awaits confirmation of the supersized theory.

  Lauren points at me with her banana. “Stephanie Banks slept with him a month ago and dubbed him ‘king of the triple orgasm.’”

  Ally sucks in a breath and her face turns colors like maybe she’s experiencing one herself at the moment. “That is freaking insane. Melissa Warbeck says he can do things with his tongue that qualifies him as criminally insane.”

  The two of them look at me as if I were about to verify every sexual rumor Cruise Elton ever sponsored, and add a few unbelievable new ones to the mix.

  “Uh…” Dear God. A triple? My entire body sighs at the thought of Cruise taking me down that unknowable path, landing me in a sexual-based euphoria with his rock-hard body pressed against mine. “Actually, we haven’t done anything like that, yet.” Yet? “Technically, we haven’t had a first time, either,” I confess.

  “Really?” Ally’s lips droop with disappointment. “So what’s the deal?” She flicks her layered mane until it shags out around her face.

  “I asked him to instruct me in his wicked ways.” A devious smile plays on my lips. “I told him I wanted to be just as sleazy as he is when I grow up and asked him to teach me the tricks of the trade.”

  “Which consist of?” Lauren seems nonplused by my ability to enlist Cruise as my personal portal to promiscuity.

  “I don’t know. It’s like my mouth started moving without my permission, and before I knew it, I was asking him to lead me through the deep, dark forest of debauchery. The truth is—I sort of wanted to, you know, be with him, but I was too embarrassed by the fact I’ve never been with anyone before.” I shrug as though what just flew from my lips was morally sane. “I believe I referred to it as a social experiment.”

  “A what?” Ally squints into me with a level of distress, reserved for degenerate social scientists such as myself.

  “Don’t you get it?” Lauren knocks an elbow into her. “She’s a genius.” She diverts her attention back to me. “You’re interested in him, aren’t you?”

  “Maybe a little.” Okay, a lot.

  “And you want more than a one-night stand.” She asserts.

  “That would be nice.” True story.

  “And because you’re a slow learner, he’ll have to do an awful lot of tutoring.” She nods into the brilliance of my plan.

  “I am a slow learner.” I give a wicked grin. “And practice makes perfect, right?”

  “Yeah, right.” Ally doesn’t look too convinced of said brilliance. “But Cruise is a sexpert in the field of moral depravity. You’re going to have to really wow him in order for him to keep you around. Besides, do you really want him to touch you between the resident skanks he pleasures nightly?”

  “He said he’d take a break for me.” And, I’m not above spreading rumors of a very bad rash he might have fictitiously acquired if he doesn’t stay true to his word.

  They take in a simultaneous breath as if what I suggested held serious security infractions for our great nation.

  “He’s taking a break?” Lauren’s mouth falls open at the prospect. “Does his dick know about this? Look, you need to forget this whole idea and find yourself a good guy—someone who’ll bring you flowers and candy.”

  “And triple orgasms,” Ally interjects as though this very feature should land near the top of the list.

  “Not everyone has an orgasm the first time.” Lauren peels her banana without taking her eyes off Ally. “It’s physiologically impossible. Besides, she’s not there yet. Can’t you see, she’s a blank slate?” She reverts to me. “God, you’re not even going to know what to do with that telephone pole.” She sticks her banana in her mouth and maneuvers it in and out like she’s speaking some sexual Morse code.

  “Would you stop?” Ally snatches it from her. “I refuse to watch you perform a lewd act with fruit in public.” She looks to me and closes her eyes briefly. “You can’t be that blank of a slate. I mean, you’ve seen one, right?”

  “Seen one, what?” I ask. “Oh! That. No, actually I haven’t. Although, I did walk in on my brother once while he was using the bathroom but—”

  “Gross.” Ally mock vomits.

  “Get this straight, Kendall,” Lauren snips. “Brothers never count.”

  Ally pulls me in by the wrist. “It looks like a Storm Trooper,” she asserts.

  “Crap.” Lauren bats her
hand away. “Don’t you listen to her. She thinks everything somehow reverts back to Star Wars. It looks like this.” She holds out her banana, then proceeds to take a rather deep-throat inspired bite of the phallic fruit in question.

  Ally groans at the visual. “Kendall”—she scoots in—“I wouldn’t worry too much about your lack of carnal knowledge. Cruise is proficient in body language. I’m sure he’ll teach you everything he knows.”

  That’s exactly what I’m afraid of and hoping for all at the same time.

  A pretty blonde wrapped in a bright red coat strides in and takes a seat at the table behind us. She observes me with a cold expression, and I look away to avoid her uncomfortable gaze.

  “In fact, don’t worry about a thing.” Ally goes on. “Cruise Elton will be a great teacher. And, when he’s through with you, we’ll find you the perfect boyfriend—one that speaks at least three different computer languages because God knows you don’t want to get saddled with a moron.”

  “Three computer languages.” I nod absentmindedly, but all I can think about is the fact not one part of me wants to get rid of Cruise Elton so fast. In fact, every part of me wants to keep him. “And what if it’s Cruise I want as my boyfriend?”

  Lauren sprays her coffee over her shoulder.

  “You can’t be serious.” Ally scoffs. “That’s like trying to tame a wild mustang. You need to be careful or you could get yourself killed.”

  “I don’t know…” Lauren touches her finger to the rim of her cup as she considers this. “It’s happened before. Cruise Elton once had very serious boyfriend potential. Is that what you’re shooting for?”

  “Maybe I am.” I squirm in my seat at the thought of taming an apparently well-endowed mustang.

  “Alrighty then”—Lauren raises her coffee and inspires Ally to do the same—“here’s to playing the player!”

  “To playing the player.” Ally sings. “In the name of triple orgasms, may you take down Cruise Elton’s heart and make it your own.”

  “Believe me, he’ll never see it coming.” Lauren takes a sip of her drink.

 
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