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“Get a damn room!” I shout to them.

She giggles and he flips me off and I close and dead-bolt the door. That’s the pattern around here. Everyone sort of ignores me or simply tells me in one way or another to fuck off. I’m okay with that. I’d much rather sit here, in my room, alone, waiting for the next artificial high.

My fingers trace over the dusty shelves of my bookcase. I can’t decide which novel I feel like living right now . . . Hemingway, maybe? He can give me a good dose of cynical. The middle Brontë sister? I could use a dysfunctional bullshit love story right now. I grab Wuthering Heights and kick my boots off before lying down in my bed.

I don’t know what it is about this novel that brings me to read and reread it so many damn times, but I always find myself skimming the pages of the dark tale. It’s fucked up, really—two people coming together, then falling part. Destroying themselves and everyone around them because they were too selfish and stubborn to get their shit together.

But to me that’s the best type of fucking story. I want to feel something while I’m reading, and sappy, roses-and-sunshine novels make me want to vomit on their pages and burn away the evidence afterward.

“Fuck, yes!” I hear a female voice screech through the paper-thin walls.

“Shut the fuck up!” I pound my fist against the old wood, grabbing my pillow and pushing it against my ears.

One more fucking year. One more year of bullshit courses and easy exams. One more year of boring parties full of people who care way too much what everyone thinks about them. One more goddamn year of keeping to myself and I can get my ass back to London, where I belong.



two

To this day, he can still remember the way vanilla filled the small dorm room the first time he was alone with her. Her hair was soaked, she had a towel wrapped around her curvy body, and it was the first time he paid attention to the way her chest flushed when she was mad. He would see her mad again, so damn mad, more times than he could count, but he would never, ever, forget the way she tried to be polite to him at first. He took her politeness as pride. Another stubborn girl who pretends to be a woman, he thought. The strange girl kept on being as patient as she could. For no reason at all. She didn’t owe him anything, she still doesn’t, and he can only hope to see her mad at him again and again, for the rest of his life.

He grasps for the memories of those days now, as he sits alone, trapped by his own mistakes. These memories of his anger, of her anger, are a few of the only things that kept him afloat after she left him.

The first day of the fall semester is always the absolute best for people-watching. So many fucking idiots running around like chickens with their heads cut off, so many girls dressed in their favorite outfits in a desperate attempt to gain attention from men.

It’s the same cycle every year at every college across the globe. Washington Central University just happens to be where I’m condemned to attend. I like it enough; it’s easy, and my professors cut me a lot of slack. Despite my lack of giving an actual fuck, I’m pretty decent academically. If I “applied myself more,” I could be even better, but I don’t have the time or the energy to waste obsessing over grades or plans or anything that could be obsessed over. I’m not as stupid as the professors always assume I’ll be. I can miss an entire week of class and still ace an exam. I’ve learned that as long as I can do that, they’ll leave me be.

The front of the Student Union is the prime location for the show. Sitting here watching all the parents in tears has to be my favorite part. It’s amusing to me because my mum couldn’t seem to get rid of me quick enough, and some of the parents here act like their damn arms are getting cut off when their children—adult children, might I remind you—are off to college. They should be happy, not sobbing like annoying children, that their kids are actually doing something with their lives. If they took a walk around my old neighborhood, they would kiss the ground of Washington Central University for giving their child a chance in the world.

A woman with huge fake tits and bleached hair hugs her puny, plaid-shirt-wearing son, and I’m full on grinning as he starts to cry into his mum’s shoulder. Fucking pussy. His dad is standing back, away from the pathetic sight, checking his expensive watch, waiting for his son and wife to stop their blubbering.

I can’t imagine how that would feel, having my parents obsess over me. My mum cared enough, when she wasn’t working from sunup to sundown, leaving me to fend for myself as she made up for my shitbag father’s lack of common sense. She tried to make up for it the best she could, but one can only do so much when so much has already been lost. And I fought her help. Every step of the way. I wouldn’t accept it then and still won’t accept it now. Not from her, not from anyone.

“Hey, man.” Nate sits down across from me at the picnic table and pulls a cigarette from his pocket. “What’s the plan for the night?” he asks as his fingers flick over the lighter.

I shrug and pull my phone from my pocket to check the time. “I don’t know; we’re meeting Steph in her room.”

As he smokes, Nate annoys me into agreeing to walk to Steph’s dorm from the Student Union. It’s not a far walk, fifteen minutes or so, but I’d much rather drive than push through the masses of eager pupils decked out in their college best.

By the time we reach the dorms, Nate is going on about the party this weekend. It’s always the same every single weekend. What’s there to be excited about?

Everything is always the same for me. Same group of friends, same amount of sex, same parties, same old shit, different day.

I’m about to barge into the room when Nate reminds me, “We should knock. Remember how pissed she was last time?”

I laugh to myself. Yeah, I do remember that day. It was last semester, and I walked into Steph’s dorm room without knocking. I found her on her knees in front of some asshole. I call him an asshole because . . . well, because he was wearing flip-flops. A man-child in flip-flops is automatically an asshole in my book. He was embarrassed, and Steph was pissed. As he snuck out, she threw just about every item she owned in the direction of my head.

It made my entire week to see her so horrified. To this day, I give her shit about it.

I finally stop laughing at the memory when I hear her yell for us to come inside.

And when I do, I’m greeted by the sight of a blond guy in a cardigan standing in the middle of Steph’s room. Steph is standing between Nate and me, looking at the newcomers with amusement dancing in her eyes. It takes me a moment to notice a tense-looking woman and younger girl with them. The woman is hot . . . my eyes take her body in: tall frame, long blond hair, decent tits.

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