Let’s not. I watched as he tapped at her knee, bringing her attention to him. “Chelsea? Let’s get you home. Come on. I’ll take you.”
My surprise at his recognition of her was trumped by the alarming thought of her leaving with him. “No.” I worked my way in between them and hoisted her limp arm over my shoulder, struggling to pull her to her feet. “I’ve got her.”
“Oh my GAWD,” Chelsea sang out, completely oblivious to the horrible breath she was blasting in our direction. “You guys are fighting over me! This is so cute.”
The guy chuckled, a flash of white teeth showing, and discreetly tossed the dirty napkin in the closest black bagged trash can. “Adorable,” he agreed, taking her other arm and slinging it around his shoulder.
He lifted her with ease, getting her through the exit gate and onto the sidewalk as I stumbled behind them, trying to keep up while he hefted a sizable amount of drunk Chelsea.
“Wait,” I protested. “Stop.”
He stopped, Chelsea kept going, and we both lunged to keep her upright.
“I should probably just carry her,” he offered.
“He is sooo strong,” Chelsea agreed.
“I appreciate your help, but I’ve got it from here.” I fished in my back pocket for my phone. “I’ll call a cab. We’ll be fine.”
He glanced down the dark street, then back toward the loud bar. A belch sounded from somewhere, followed by the thump of a cheap car radio. “I don’t feel right leaving you alone.”
“Elle, E’s a gentleman!” Chelsea squawked.
“My car’s right there. I’ll drive you to the sorority house.” He nodded toward a dark parking lot that looked like the perfect place to chop someone’s head off, assuming you wanted to use a late model BMW as the chopping block. “I’m sober,” he added.
“A SOBER gentleman!” Chelsea amended, her volume raising an octave past bearable.
“Look.” He reached into his back pocket and took out his wallet, pulled out his driver’s license and held it out to me. “Take a picture. Text it to a friend.”
I took the ID from him and made a show of looking between the image and him. Dayum. Baseball cap off, he was even hotter. My thumb moved, exposing his name. Easton North. I inhaled without thinking, my drunken state not too far gone to forget the lunchroom conversation that had scarred poor Ling for weeks. How had Chelsea described his dick? Pretty. But also, something else. Rugged? Had that been it?
I could feel my cheeks burn as I unlocked my phone and took a photo, one I quickly texted to Ling along with a dozen exclamation points and a text that would probably confuse her.
This guy is driving me and Chelsea home. If we disappear, tell them we died of a rugged cock.
I started to laugh, sent the text, then handed him the license.
“What?” He looked at the card as if there was something wrong with it.
My giggles broke the dam into full-blown laughter.
“What?” He repeated, a slow smile spreading over that gorgeous face as if he was fighting the urge to join in. “Is it my age? Too old for you?”
I rolled my eyes and gestured toward Chelsea, indicating that he could go ahead and pick her up. “It’s not your age.” I fought the urge to pull my phone back out and examine the birthdate on the photo. Was he younger than us? Older? Maybe he was ancient, one of these twenty-eight-year-old college kids that had stretched four years into ten. He lifted Chelsea up and she swooped, her hands lifting into the air as if she was on a ride. I eyed her closely and hoped she was done vomiting.
“My height?” He guessed, nodding towards a white sedan at the edge of the lot. “That’s mine.”
“I’ve been in this car,” Chelsea said loudly, as the car’s headlights flashed.
“It wasn’t your height.” It was a nice height. Totally uncomical.
I opened the back seat and held the door open, watching critically as he carefully maneuvered her into the space.
“By been in this car,” she stage whispered, “I meant in the biblical sense.”
Easton shot me an apologetic look and I bit my bottom lip to keep from laughing again.
“We were dru—” he started to say, and she cut him off with an earsplitting yell.
“We are IN LOVE Easton North. Don’t you dare diminish the beauty that it is!”
I raised my brows at him, letting him sweat for an excruciatingly entertaining moment as he carefully moved her feet into the car and shut the door. From inside, Chelsea began to belt out the national anthem.
“Well,” he said quietly, spinning his car key around one finger. “I don’t know how well you know Chelsea, but we are, in fact, betrothed to be married.”
I think it was at that moment that I fell for him. Right then, in my beer-stained J Crew capris, with Chelsea singing the Star-Spangled Banner at the top of her lungs, in the night that was still soaked in anticipation.