I clear my throat and gesture with both hands at my collection.
The unhappy frat dude flips to the last page of the document he’s reading and curses.
“Fuck you!” he screams, spittle flying out of his mouth. “This is illegal. Wait until my father hears about this.”
I roll my eyes. Oh no, not the father threat. Audley is unimpressed with this as well. After some squabbling, the frat boy tells his sad crew to start packing and the Audleys leave. I wait because I spot one of the dudes from the video just over the left shoulder of the lead frat boy.
“You.” I motion toward the blond dude. All of his housemates turn to look at him.
“Me?” he mouths and points to his chest.
“Yeah, you. I’ve got something to show you.”
“I’m not interested.”
I hold out a closed fist. “You might be into this. It’s something new on the market. Real potent. Will knock a person out for hours with one hit.”
He cocks his head, ponders my words, and then decides my offer sounds good. He pushes his way down the stairs. As soon as he’s within reaching distance, I clock him in the jaw. He goes down like fresh cut timber.
I grin at the other boys, who are frozen on the stairs. “Nice chatting with you dudes. Any time you want more of this, you can find me at Morry’s gym.” I doff an imaginary cap and jog out of the house, whistling under my breath. Today wasn’t such a bad day, after all.
My good mood dissipates the minute I arrive at the condo. My guy is gone. Pissed, I dig out my phone to call him when a text pops up. It’s Erika, telling me she left to go to her dorm.
“Fuck.” I turn around and head for the exit. Did she hear about the frat house thing? Is she mad that I broke that dude’s nose and dislodged a couple of teeth? That was mild compared to what I wanted to do to him.
The hall monitor squawks a protest when I push through the dorm hall entrance.
“No guys in here after ten,” she yells at my back.
I wave a hand of acknowledgment. Girl is just doing her job. I can’t be mad about that, but I’m not stopping either. It takes only a minute to climb the three flights of stairs. My heart stops racing when I see my guy loitering in front of Erika’s dorm room.
“Hey, my man,” Brix calls quietly. “She burst out of the place and I couldn’t tell her to go back inside so I just followed her here,” he explains.
I hand him another hundred and send him on his way.
“Babe? It’s Tank. You okay?”
She opens the door a second later, and by the tight, pinched look on her face, I know my question was a dumb one. She is clearly not okay. “What’s wrong?” Or, in Tank-speak, whose ass am I kicking?
She holds up her phone. “My parents are coming.”
Tank looks at my phone and shrugs. “Tell them to come to our place.” He pushes my door the rest of the way open. I have to step back to make room for him to come in. Our place? My heart gives a happy flutter, but I push it away. I have my parents to deal with first. They’d flip if they thought I was living with some man. The bullshit part about it is they would have never known what I was doing in my life if it weren’t for this dorm room being wrecked. They’d be none the wiser because they aren’t like normal parents who actually gave a shit about their kid. Especially after my leg injury. My mom pretty much wrote me off after that because I was no longer valuable to her. My anxiety is at an all-time high knowing that they are coming. My mom is good at putting me on edge. Everything I say or do is wrong or could be done better in her eyes.
“You can’t stay here,” he adds while looking around the room. It still smells weird in here even after the cleaning. I hadn’t wanted to come back, but this is where my parents will show up to. I’m not sure if they’re coming because they actually care or to save face. I’ve learned to stop hoping that they do anything because they care. I’ve been disappointed by them so many times that now it’s not even disappointment anymore. It just is what it is. That doesn’t mean their ways don’t still sting.
I know that Tank and the Audley twins took care of whoever messed with Liv and our dorm room, but he still isn’t keen on the idea of me sleeping here. I’m not sold on the idea either, but it isn’t because I’m scared to stay in the room or the underlying stench that still lingers. I don’t want to stay anywhere Tank isn’t going to be. How is it possible that a man that I’ve only known for a short period of time could have such a profound impact on my life? His ability to be vulnerable, to love, to have compassion is unlike anything I have ever known.