I’m going forty in a twenty-five when Rowan says, “He said you’re special.”
Leti and I both look at her, and it’s only by the terrified look in her eyes that I manage to slam my foot on the brake to avoid running a red light. “He said what?”
She has one hand glued to the dashboard and the other clinging to the armrest at her right. “Can you please not kill us?”
“Tell me what he said and I’ll think about it.”
Rowan’s fingers unpeel from the dashboard one by one, and she takes a deep breath when the light turns green and I ease onto the gas again. “I asked him why he keeps going back to you when he doesn’t really do that with anyone else, and he said you were special.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Rowan shakes her head. “I asked, but he just smiled and shrugged.”
Typical Joel. My brow furrows at the road ahead of me, and Leti singsongs, “See! Mashed po-tat-oes!”
“He’s full of something,” I say, “but it isn’t mashed potatoes. If he thinks I’m so special, why was he slumming it with that groupie last night?”
“He picks you every time he gets a kiss card during Kings,” Rowan counters, and I scoff.
“He doesn’t mind when other girls pick him.” The last time we played, one groupie bitch lucked out and picked all three remaining kiss cards. She picked Joel every. single. time.
Leti chuckles. “He held your hair back when you got so mad about it that you scarfed down margaritas and ended up puking your guts out.”
“See?” I argue. “Joel fills my stomach with margaritas, not mashed potatoes.”
“And puke,” Rowan adds, and I chuckle as I manage to stop at the next stoplight without my tires screeching.
“I’LL CALL YOU.”
Those were the last words Joel said to me the day I dropped him off at Adam’s. It’s what he always says. And he always does—when it suits him.
Sometimes, I answer, and sometimes, I don’t.
For the past week and a half, I would have answered. But for the past week and half, he hasn’t called.
So on Wednesday night, it’s his fault that I’m making out with someone who was obviously in some horrific farm accident as a child and had to have an emergency tongue transplant with only cows to serve as donors. I swear to God, I’ve never had so much tongue in my mouth in my entire life. It’s like this guy decided on quantity over quality and has dedicated himself to giving that method his all. And by his all, I mean his entire. freaking. tongue.
I turn my head to the side, and Cow Tongue thankfully drops his lips to my neck. I’m on my back, on his bed, in his bedroom. Classes this week were annoying. Work at the restaurant this week was annoying. Not hearing from Joel at all was annoying. Wanting to hear from him was annoying. I spent my entire serving shift tonight thinking of him—constantly checking my phone for texts even though I knew damn well he was probably already breathing heavy in some other girl’s bed—and I realized I had to do something about it.
Leti was right: Joel is a problem. He makes me feel . . . lonely. Crazy. Desperate.
Cow Tongue, who told me his name was Aiden even though I hadn’t wanted to know, was the next guy to smile at me after I decided a one-night stand was exactly what the doctor ordered, so he was who I opted to go home with. I figured if I started acting like my old self again, maybe I’d start feeling like my old self again. The only reason Joel felt like the only guy that mattered was because I made him the only guy that mattered.
I want to forget him, and yet, when I gaze up into Aiden’s brown eyes, I can’t help wishing they were blue. I can’t help wishing his soft brown hair was spiked and blond. I can’t help wishing the smile he gave me made my insides molten hot instead of old bathwater warm.
“Take off your pants,” I tell him, and he wastes no time following orders. I strip mine off too and tell him to get a condom.
“Shit,” he breathes, giving me a panicked look. “I don’t have one.”
“My purse,” I say, nudging him toward the dresser it’s sitting on. I lie there patiently while he grabs it and proceeds to spill half its contents onto the floor.
“Sorry,” he stammers, and then he spills the other half while he’s trying to pick up the first half.
“Worry about that later,” I hiss, trying to keep the frustration out of my tone. I’d hoped to be in the throes of mind-numbing ecstasy by now, not lying alone and frustrated on sheets that smell like dog hair—which is just disturbing considering I’ve seen no sign of a dog.
Aiden grabs the condom off the floor and rips it open, sliding it on and climbing back over top of me. I spread my legs around him and he settles between them, immediately trying to push into me. But I’m bone dry, and my body isn’t having it.
“Kiss me or something,” I order, instantly regretting the suggestion when his tongue fills my mouth again. I break away as soon as possible and change my strategy. “Just use spit.” I’d suggest lubricant, but if this guy didn’t even have condoms, I’m guessing a good lube might as well be the Holy Grail.
Aiden gives me a boyish smile, and then he starts to crawl his way down my body.
“Oh, no, that’s not what I—”
He spreads my legs wider and laps at me like an overanxious puppy, but instead of moaning or wriggling or liking it in any way, my legs just kind of close a little tighter and I’m left casting a weird look at the ceiling, my nose scrunched and my eyebrows drawn.