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Authors: Amanda M. Lee

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BOOK: 2 Whispering
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Eighteen

Once we got back into our dorm room, Paris and I turned the topic of conversation to the hottest Bens.

“Ben Barnes,” I argued.

“Ben Affleck, hands down.”

“He’s too old,” I countered.

“Ben Barnes is only hot with long hair.”

She had a point. “He’s got the cool British accent, though,” I reminded her.

“That’s true.”

Brittany had apparently had it with us. She got to her feet, slammed her book shut, and then stormed into the common room. “You guys obviously don’t want me to get any studying done.”

“It’s Saturday afternoon, why are you studying anyway?”

“I want to make the dean’s list,” Brittany said primly.

“Why?”

“Because I want to. You should try to do it, too.”

“Eh,” I shrugged. “That’s really not a big priority for me.”

Brittany gritted her teeth. “I’m going to start getting ready for tonight,” she said finally.

“What’s tonight?”

“I have a party at the sorority house.” Brittany quickly looked away from Paris and me.

“What kind of party?”

“A purse party, what kind of party do you think?” Even when she did sarcasm it came out as shrill.

“Why didn’t you tell us you had a party?” Paris looked genuinely interested in the answer.

“I knew you would make fun of me,” Brittany said in a small voice.

“We won’t make fun of you,” Paris said soothingly, shooting me a warning glance. “It sounds like a fun party.”

“Do you want to come with me?” Brittany asked brightly.

I’d rather cut my own tongue out.

“Sure,” Paris said kindly. “It sounds like fun, doesn’t it?”

Crap. She was directing that question at me. “It does,” I lied.

“Yay!” Brittany jumped up and down clapping her hands.

Once she was in the bathroom and I could hear the shower running, I turned to Paris. “You’re the meanest person I know.”

“I know,” Paris said dismissively. “You need to be nicer to her, though.”

“Yeah, I’m thinking alcohol and a bunch of pledges is a great recipe for bringing out the nice in me.”

Paris thought about the picture I just painted, frowning as she did. “You better be nice.”

“It’s going to be a really long evening.”

“It really is.”


“So, what does one wear to a sorority party?” I asked Paris wearily, glancing down at my comfortable ripped denim jeans, my new Batman hoodie and Catwoman Chuck Taylors.

“That looks fine to me,” Paris said.

I glanced over to see what she was wearing. It was practically the same outfit. Only she was wearing a simple black hoodie without the Batman symbol and pointed ears on the hood.

We both looked up expectantly when Brittany left the bathroom. She was definitely overdressed compared to the two of us. In fact, her khaki pants and button-down sweater made it look like she was going to a job interview instead of a college kegger.

“There is going to be alcohol at this party, right?” I asked suspiciously.

“Of course there is,” Brittany said.

“There better be,” I muttered under my breath.

It took the three of us about fifteen minutes to walk to the sorority house. It was a three-story monstrosity on a side street just off the border of the campus. It was pink with purple trim – a combination that immediately made want to throw up.

“Isn’t it beautiful,” Brittany said. “I’m hoping that I can move in when I’m eligible.”

“When are you eligible?” Paris asked.

“Not until junior year.”

“That’s too bad,” I said dryly. I turned to Paris and muttered under my breath. “It looks like a giant bejeweled vagina.”

“It does not,” Paris laughed, but she cocked her head to the side and looked at the house again. “Okay, it kind of does.”

Paris and I followed Brittany into the house. The sounds of Justin Bieber wafting from the closed widows was enough to make me want to turn around right then but Paris had a death grip on my elbow. “I’m not going in there,” I hissed. “They’re playing Justin Bieber.”

“I love this song,” Brittany squealed and then disappeared inside.

“I’m sure they’ll play some different music,” Paris said doubtfully. “See, the song is changing now.” Paris paused as the new song started pounding inside of the house. “Is that . . .”

“Miley Cyrus? Yeah.”

“Good grief,” Paris grunted. “This is like walking into hell.”

“A big bedazzled vagina of hell,” I chirped.

“Stop saying that. I’m going to have nightmares.”

She wasn’t the only one.

Once we got inside the party I had a new vision of hell to erase the old one. I figured Paris did, too.

“It’s peach,” she said, squinting her eyes at the sudden brightness.

“What are you doing?”

“If you close your eyes and use your imagination, it’s like you’re being smothered by big boobs.”

I glanced around. “Oh, good, another nightmare.”

“Bejeweled vagina or silicone boobs,” Paris nodded. “It’s definitely a toss-up.”

Paris and I scanned the party looking for someone we knew – anyone we knew, actually. I was surprised to see Laura and her roommate, Michelle, chatting with people from Brittany’s sorority in the kitchen.

“We can use them as an excuse,” I said excitedly.

“For what?” Paris looked confused.

“For leaving,” I said.

“What?”

“You can’t hang out with Laura,” I reminded her. “Laura is here. Thus, we have to leave.”

“Thus?”

“Thus.”

“You’re talking like you’re already drunk.”

“Speaking of, where is the beer?”

Paris and I couldn’t fill our pink plastic cups fast enough. In fact, I slammed my first beer down while still standing at the keg and immediately filled up another cup. Paris gave me a disapproving look, but I noticed she didn’t wander too far away from the keg either.

When you go to a college party that you know is going to suck, the only reason to stay is the beer and the people watching. Thankfully, the beer was pretty good – especially for keg beer. This wasn’t your typical foamy Amstel Light crap. As for people watching? I decided that if I treated it like I was watching a comedy, I might be able to survive this party.

Paris and I were enjoying creating false “spy lives” for Brittany’s sisters so much we barely noticed how much beer we had knocked back. Before we knew it, we were both tipsy.

“Your face is really red,” I sputtered, practically falling over into one of Brittany’s sorority sisters as I laughed. The sister shot me a disapproving look.

“Yeah, and you look like a super model.”

“At least we’re in good company.”

We both dissolved into hysterical giggles at this point. What? Drunk people are only funny to other drunk people.

“You two seem like you’re having a good time.”

I instantly sobered when I heard the voice. It was one I knew well – and one I had hoped I wouldn’t hear again any time soon, if ever.

I turned around and regarded the stoic figure standing behind us. His dark hair was newly shorn and close-cropped and his brown eyes held a level of hope that I would have found laughable if the situation hadn’t been so surreal.

“Hey, Zoe.”

“Hey, Will.”

Nineteen

Okay, here’s a quick refresher course: Will is my high school boyfriend. We’ve dated so many times that even I’ve lost count of how many breakups we had. When he went away to college and I was still a junior in high school we agreed to have an open relationship. When we both went to the same college, we rededicated ourselves to each other. I thought that would be a good thing. Unfortunately for me, it turned out to be anything but.

For his part, Will isn’t really a bad guy. He’s just a lost guy. He decided to join a werewolf fraternity and became a “made” werewolf as a way to belong. I think it had more to do with the fact that he has control issues – always has -- but that’s my inner psychologist talking. He aligned himself with some truly evil people; causing me not to be able to recognize the sweet boy I first started dating when I was fourteen. He was part of that whole evil werewolf cabal that had dominated my first semester at Covenant College. We hadn’t talked in months.

“How are you?” Will looked like he was really nervous.

“I’m good,” I said stiffly. I wasn’t sure where this conversation was going to go.

“That’s good. I’m glad.”

I bet. “How are you?”

“Things are good since Brett is no longer in charge.”

“Yeah, Brett, he was a great guy.” Brett was not a great guy. In fact, he was the guy that spearheaded the effort to burn Brittany and Rafael at the stake. Sure, Tara had helped, but he had been totally gung-ho for it, too.

Will smiled despite the tenseness of our conversation. “He was a dick.”

“He was definitely a dick.”

The conversation stalled. “So,” Will bit his lower lip. “How as your Christmas vacation?”

“The same as always.”

“And you like your classes this semester?”

“They’re fine.”

“That’s good.” Will was looking uncomfortable again. “Well, I should probably go find my fraternity brothers.”

“That sounds like a great idea.” I felt a heavy arm swing over my shoulder and draw me in possessively. I didn’t have to look up to know it was Aric. He had a certain presence that couldn’t be denied.

Will visibly shrank in the face of Aric’s dominating countenance. “Aric.”

“Will.”

“Paris,” I said with faux sternness in an attempt to break the sudden tension.

“Zoe.” Paris was just enjoying the spectacle.

“Are you girls having a good time?” Aric’s voice was gravelly. He’d clearly had a few drinks of his own this evening.

“Any time I’m in the mix a good time is had by all,” I teased.

“So I’ve noticed.” Aric winked at me.

Will pulled away quietly and moved to rejoin his other fraternity brothers. I saw him cast a glance in my direction – whether it was wistful or relieved, though, I couldn’t be sure.

Once I was sure he wasn’t looking anymore I slipped out from beneath Aric’s heavy arm. “You can rein in the testosterone now,” I chided him. “Will has moved on.”

“Why are you still hanging around that guy?”

“I’m not,” I protested. “This was the first time I’ve seen him in months.”

“Keep it that way,” Aric said, tweaking my nose before moving away and rejoining the party.

“He is really hot,” Paris sighed.

“He’s also a pain in the ass.”

“The good ones always are,” Paris replied.

She had a point. We were both three inches into another cup of beer when our party suddenly became bigger. Michelle and Laura joined us – although I could tell Laura was a little uncomfortable with the new configuration. Frankly, I was too drunk to care.

“What’s up?”

“Nothing,” Michelle giggled. “Isn’t this a great party? It’s a total rager.”

I regarded Michelle dubiously. Michelle was one of those girls that clearly felt the need to try too hard to fit in. She had curly, shoulder-length brown hair that she ratted like it was the 1980s. She was wearing a big red flannel shirt and heeled suede boots that made no sense in the middle of winner. She was, for lack of a better word, completely goofy.

I kind of liked her.

“It’s a total rager,” I agreed. Once Paris met my gaze, though, we both started laughing like imbeciles again.

“Well, this is where the party clearly is.”

I turned to see that Mark and Zach had joined our small group. When had they gotten here? And what was everyone doing at this particular party? That seemed a little suspicious.

“I’m always at the center of the party.”

“So I’ve heard,” Zach said mischievously. He tilted his head so his hair evened out and smiled at me. “At least it looks like you guys are having a good time.”

“One look at this giant pink vagina house and I had no choice but to drink.”

“Vagina?” Mark looked confused.

“Think about it,” Paris teased.

Mark started laughing suddenly. “It does kind of look like one.”

Laura, who was on the other side of Mark, looked decidedly uncomfortable with the topic of conversation. “I’m surprised to see you guys here,” she said finally. Her eyes never left Mark’s face.

“I heard Brittany talk about it and I figured you guys would all be here,” Mark said, gracing Paris with a wide grin.

I saw the look of uncertainty flit across Laura’s face. She had obviously heard about Paris’ breakup with Mike. She didn’t seem like the type that would openly compete for a guy, though. Besides, it didn’t look like much of a contest. At this point in the game, Paris was going to rush in for the touchdown untouched.

I turned my attention to Zach in an effort to distance myself from the soap opera developing across the circle from us. “So, how have your classes been?”

“Nice opening,” he chuckled.

“I’m nothing if not original,” I agreed.

Zach and I spent the next half an hour discussing school, movies and the general terribleness of the music at Brittany’s sorority party.

“How can you have never seen
Star Wars
?”

“I just never have,” Zach looked uncomfortable, shuffling his flannel sleeves up his arms irritably. I couldn’t help but notice that one of his sleeves was buttoned again and the other wasn’t. Did he even look in the mirror before he left his room?

“You know who else hasn’t seen
Star Wars
? Brittany?”

Zach’s face reddened when I mentioned Brittany. He looked around surreptitiously to make sure she wasn’t in hearing distance before shooting me a faux glare.

Speaking of Brittany, I scanned the crowd for her out of curiosity. We hadn’t seen her since we’d gotten here. I couldn’t hide the scowl from my face when I saw what she was doing.

Paris followed my gaze and her frown matched mine. “She doesn’t learn.”

“Apparently not.”

Here’s the thing: Brittany is a total flirt. Any guy that shows her any attention gets rewarded with her smothering affection. One look at what she was doing now and I couldn’t help but wonder where her Zach infatuation had went. Unfortunately, her current target was actually an old one: Will. She was draped all over him and hanging on his every word. Trust me, he wasn’t that interesting.

“Who is that?” Laura asked curiously.

“Zoe’s ex-boyfriend,” Paris supplied.

“Oh,” Laura furrowed her brow. “Oh!”

“It’s not a big deal,” I lied. What? I don’t want him. That doesn’t mean I want Brittany to have him. How quickly she forgot that he was part of the group that was aligned with the werewolves that had tried to kill her.

“Still,” Laura said doubtfully. “You don’t go after a guy that your roommate has already dated.”

“It’s fine.”

“Do you still like him?” Zach asked me searchingly.

“Not even a little.”

Zach looked relieved. “That’s good.”

Yeah, that’s great. I tried to return to my conversation with Zach, but my heart wasn’t really in it. Thankfully for all of us, we were all ready to go back to the dorms.

“We’ll walk you back,” Mark said. I think he meant he’d walk Paris back and we could all tag along if we wanted to.

“Sure,” I said. I could tell he didn’t want his night with Paris to end yet. I glanced at Laura, but she was studiously pretending that she was in another dimension – one where Mark and Paris had never met.

We all started herding towards the door in a tipsy clump.

“Are you leaving?” Aric was suddenly at my side again. I couldn’t help but notice the dark look he shot in Zach’s direction.

“We are.”

“I’ll walk you back.”

“That’s okay,” Zach said boldly. “We’re all going back as a group.”

“That’s not necessary,” Aric said. “I’ve got it covered.”

“I’ve got it covered,” Zach challenged him. I couldn’t help but be impressed with his boldness. Sure, it was overtly stupid, but it was definitely bold, too.

“I am capable of walking myself,” I reminded them. Unfortunately, they didn’t seem to hear me. They were too busy preening like peacocks.

“You shouldn’t go out of your way,” Zach said firmly. “We’re all going to the same place.”

“I don’t mind,” Aric growled. No, he literally growled.

“Still, I’ve got it covered,” Zach said.

Paris moved up next to me and smiled in their direction. “It’s nice to have men fighting over you.”

“It doesn’t feel nice.”

Paris shook her head knowingly. “Yes it does.”

Okay, it didn’t feel bad.

“You want to go?” Paris asked.

“Absolutely.”

Paris, Mark, Michelle, Laura and I took the opportunity to slip out of the party unnoticed. We purposely left Brittany behind with her sisters. I didn’t have the energy to deal with her without pulling her hair, quite frankly. I had no idea how long it took Aric and Zach to realize I was already gone. I stopped reminding myself to care about halfway home.

It was another cold night.

I heard Michelle and Laura whispering even though their heads where down to stave off the cold.

“What did you say?” I asked curiously.

They didn’t answer me but Laura fixed me with a curious look. “We weren’t talking,” she said.

They were probably talking about Paris and Mark, I figured. I was too drunk to care, at this point, though.

BOOK: 2 Whispering
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