“UNH,” Shanna groaned. “Why are you asking about HER?”

“I thought I’d get to know your friend. Aren’t you guys good friends?”


Shanna bounded over to me and threw her arms around my neck. “The best,” she giggled, then whispered way too loudly, “Which is why you’re gonna leave, right? Shanna night, remember?”

I turned my head and looked at her only two inches away from my face. She smelled like a brewery – and a cheap one, at that. “You are so drunk.”

“Shitfaced.” The bad stage whisper started up again: “Pleeeaasssse? He’s soooo hot!”

He was, but it was dumb to announce it like that. The guy’s ego was probably already massive; now it had to be Godzilla-sized.

I looked over at Derek. I thought he would have been grinning himself silly seeing Shanna throw herself at him – but no.

He was staring at me. Not in a creepy way, but in a curious What are you going to do? kind of way.

I pictured him lying on Shanna’s bed, naked, with only a tiny bit of lamplight falling across his muscular, naked body…

I shivered.

Then I got a hold of myself.

I patted Shanna’s arm. “I’ll go.”

“Yaaaay!” Shanna squee-ed, releasing her beer-soaked hold on my neck.

“No,” Derek insisted, in a voice that would brook no dissent. “We’re not interrupting your studying. Studying’s important.”

Now it was embarrassingly obvious.

Derek wasn’t interested in sleeping with Shanna anymore.

He was interested in me.

Which alternately thrilled me and terrified me.

Maybe it terrified me because it thrilled me.

7

But I played it as cool as I could, and gave him a You are SO full of shit smirk. “Studying’s important? Really.”

He matched me grin for grin. “It obviously is to you.”

Shanna was getting pissed that Derek was ignoring her. So she played her trump card.

“Kaitlyn has a boyfriend,” she announced loudly.

As soon as she said it, my stomach twisted with guilt – and anger.

“No I don’t. We broke up three days ago, remember?” I snapped.

“You always break up and get back together,” she said petulantly, then turned to Derek. “They’re high school sweethearts. They’ll be back together by tomorrow night, just watch.”

In addition to my anger and guilt, I also felt a tiny bit of fear – that Derek would lose interest in me.

I reprimanded myself. I was bad to feel that way. Shanna was right, I’d probably be back with Kevin in another couple of days.

And if I kept talking to Derek, it would just confirm all of Kevin’s worst accusations.

It’s better if he loses interest now, I told myself dejectedly.

But he didn’t.

He just looked at me with no change in expression whatsoever, like I’d told him I had a swing set when I was kid, or that I liked eating celery. “Cool. He go here?”

My stomach churned a little more. “Uh… no. He’s at Syracuse.”

“Upstate New York?”

“Yeah.”

Derek nodded briefly. “I hear it’s pretty up there. So, what’s this test you’re studying for?”

And just like that, the topic of my (ex)boyfriend was past, a billboard receding in the car mirror on the conversation highway.

Judging by her expression, Shanna knew it was over. Her big play had failed. She looked like a kid who’d just found out there was no Santa Claus – and I was the Grinch who stole Christmas. She alternated sad puppy-dog looks at him and teeth-clenching glares at me.

I should have felt awful.

I knew I should have felt awful.

…but damn he was gorgeous.

And if he wanted to sleep with her, he would have waved goodbye to me and kicked the door shut as I walked out.

But he obviously didn’t want that.

Plus, she’d kind of been a punk using Kevin against me like that.

And how many times had she brought back drunk guys to have sex in our dorm room? How many times had she totally disrupted my life?

So one out of twenty slipped through her fingers. Boo hoo.

And that’s how I justified being a bitch to her.

To clarify, I did feel bad about it.

Just not bad enough to leave.

“What are you studying?” Derek prodded me again.

“English Lit. We’re doing Chaucer.”

“The Canterbury Tales?”

“Yeah.”

“Which one?”

“You know the Canterbury Tales,” I said in amused disbelief.

Mr. Rock Jock, Biceps-To-Drool-For, Out-Of-This-World-Body spends his spare time reading medieval literature. Riiiiight.

My attitude came through a little too strongly.

“Well, aren’t we snobbish,” he teased me.

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