“Ankle boots. Totally different.”


“These are Fluevogs,” I protest. “Victorias.” Black-rubbed emerald green leather, they lace up to mid-calf and have an ornate heel that resembles the legs of Victorian furniture. They are quirky, and the most expensive shoes I own. My mother gave them to me for my twenty-first birthday, and I kissed her for it.

Iris lets out a long-suffering sigh. “You look like you’re going to a vamp ball in them.”

“Watch it, Little Miss Belieber. I can still stay home.”

She cringes. “Sorry. You know how I get before going out.”

Yeah, crazy. Because she might disappoint Henry the Dickhead.

She strides over to me, taller now in her insane shoes, and gives me a kiss on the cheek. The light, flowery scent of her perfume surrounds me. “You look gorgeous,” she says. “God, I wish I had your curves.”

“We can do an exchange, because I’d love to rock those shorts without terrifying the populace with my thighs.”

“Fine, my thighs in exchange for your boobs.”

“Deal.” We both laugh, having made this deal numerous times before.

We take Iris’s car because I don’t trust Henry to drive me home, and I have a feeling she might go off with him later. So I’ll drive hers back. I’d take my Vespa, but Iris doesn’t like to drive to parties alone, and frankly, I’d get helmet head if I did.

Iris taps nervously on her steering wheel as we drive along listening to Adele.

“Why are you so worked up?” I finally ask. “More so than usual, I mean?”

Her eyes are wide as she glances at me. “No reason.” And then she turns down a street.

Frat houses line the block. “Iris! You said this was an off-campus party.”

But it’s clearly one of Henry’s horrible team bashes. Which involves beer bongs, guys pissing on the lawns—among other lovely locations—and basic imbecilic behavior. I was suckered into going to one once before and vowed never again.

“Look, I’m sorry, okay?” Her expression is desperate. “But Henry really wanted me to go, and you’ve been moping around the house lately.”

“I have not been moping!”

“Staring out the window,” she insists. “Like some tragic Jane Austen heroine.”

“Austen’s heroines aren’t tragic. They are empowered.”

“Says you. All those repressed feelings and prideful denials.” Her snub nose wrinkles. “Pathetic. Just own your emotions already.”

“Stop trying to change the subject. You kept this from me on purpose. Not cool.”

Iris sighs as she pulls up in front of a big old colonial that’s lit up like summer. People spill from the open door, and a girl, laughing manically, tumbles onto the lawn in a pile of limbs.

We both wince before Iris lifts her pleading eyes to me. “I just didn’t think you’d come if I told you.” She clutches my arm, and her hand is cold. “Forgive me, Banana?”

“You should have taken George.” George is Iris’s twin and my other best friend. He usually goes to these parties with her, watching over his little sister while simultaneously hitting on all available women. It works for them. “Where is he, anyway?” I grumble.

“He says he’s got a headache.” Iris’s mouth flattens in annoyance.

“Suspect.” George never gets sick. He’s practically inhuman that way.

Iris pulls out her lipstick and quickly reapplies while glancing in the review mirror. “That’s what I said.” Her words are muffled as she stretches her lips to get a good coat of glossy red over them. “But what could I do?”

“Not torture me?”

With neat efficiency, she caps the lipstick and plops it into her purse. “Well, where’s the fun in that?” Her eyes sparkle in the low light of the car. “Besides, maybe you’ll see someone you like.”

“Iris…” My warning glare is lost on her because she’s already jumping out of the car with surprising sprightliness, considering her heels. I follow, knowing I’ll regret it.

IT’S FRIDAY NIGHT, and I’m tired. My body hurts from a brutal practice. Not much difference from any other day, only I haven’t been sleeping well and it’s wearing on me. A certain redhead occupies my thoughts to a sleep-depriving degree. When I close my eyes, I picture her. Hell, I picture her with my eyes open too.

Mostly, I think of her in profile because that’s what I see when I watch her in class. The smooth arch of her graceful jaw, the rounded crest of her cheek that plumps when she smiles, the small, delicate shell of her ear. Curves. Anna is endless curves.

In my mind, I map the pale column of her neck down to where it swoops out to one of her best curves: her br**sts. Large. Fuller on the bottom so they give the illusion of pointing upward, and more than enough to fill my hands. Soft. I know they will be.

I’m just enough of a shit that I long for the days when our classroom gets chilly and she wears one of those cotton shirts that does nothing to hide the points of her ni**les pushing against the fabric. Damn, but that sight never fails to make me hard. I’m fairly dying for the chance to peel off her shirt and expose those ni**les that so readily stiffen. I want to know their color, their exact size and texture. She’s fair-skinned, so they might be pale pink, but I’ve seen the shadows those sweet buds make beneath her white shirts, and I suspect they’re a nice tawny rose that will go darker when sucked.

Yeah, I’m a sick bastard. But I doubt any guy would blame me. And I can’t help myself. When I’m not thinking about her br**sts, or the narrow dip of her waist and the rounded curve of her fine ass, I’m thinking about her voice, that syrup-thick southern drawl that makes my skin prickle. I’m in the South now. Accents like hers surround me on a daily basis. Why it is that her voice affects me more than others, I don’t know. Nor do I care. She talks and I want to listen. Endlessly.

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