Forbidden Heat (Firework Girls #1)

Published by Velvet Rose Books
Amazon Kindle Edition

Copyright © 2016 J.L. White

ISBN 978-0-9882089-8-8

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system, copied in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise transmitted without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. You must not circulate this book in any format. Thank you for respecting the work of the author.

Forbidden Heat

by J.L. White

Chapter 1

 

Freshman Year

 

Only three weeks into my freshman year at Hartman College and I’ve abandoned my biology homework for my first frat party. My mother would definitely not approve. Aside from all the usual motherly reasons to disapprove of her only daughter being at a frat party, she would remind me that it would be a “poor reflection on the Maddox name.”

But hey, aside from the fact that I can’t spend my
entire
life in the lab, one of the things I like best about being a student here is, for the first time, I don’t need to care how my actions affect the
Maddox name
. I don’t have to worry about it even when I’m doing all the things my mother
does
approve of.

No one here knows who I am or is fawning over me because of my family. I’m even using one of my middle names as a last name on class records so the teachers don’t make a connection. Only the dean knows about that one, so he could make arrangements for us.

So here, at Hartman College, I’m Isabella. Just... Isabella.

Call me a dork, but it’s almost like having a secret identity. It’s even more thrilling than being surrounded by a bunch of college guys and more alcohol than I’ve ever seen in one place at one time.

Yeah, I’m totally enjoying the secret identity thing.

The fact that my roommate has already ditched me for the guy she just met? Not so much.

I’m determined to have fun anyway. The truth is, though, I keep wandering around the house a bit, trying to find a place to land. Everyone seems to know one another already and I’m not sure where to go.

Eventually I make it into the game room in the basement, where I discover my roommate making out on the couch with some guy. Their tongues are down each other’s throats, his hands are groping her breasts, and they’re doing a little Levi lovin’ right out there in the open.

Okay. I’m trying on my bold pants, but I’m not
that
bold.

Nearby there’s a long table, waist height, where people seem to be gathering for a drinking game. One of the frat boys—he has his letters on—is pouring shots into little plastic cups and passing them down the table.

This is definitely not my normal thing. My normal thing is more like studying way too much and getting overly excited about the things I know how to grow in a petri dish (freaking
awesome
shit, if you want to know the truth). But college is about trying new things right?

I’m a jumble of nerves and excitement, but I sidle up to the table next to a friendly-looking girl who feels safe. Another Hartman freshman, if I have to make a guess. She’s wearing her thick, blonde hair in dual braids that go past her waist. A knit, multi-colored beanie is perched on top of her head. She looks like a little hippie.

“Can I play?” I ask.

She turns to me and smiles. She’s one of those girls who doesn’t wear makeup but looks enchanting and glowing anyway. “Sure. I’m Ashley.”

“Isabella.”

I brace myself for some version of the “Are you from here?” question. My grandfather was Italian and my grandmother was Greek; my caramel-colored skin and dark eyes reflect my heritage. When I was very small, I felt a little out of place. My family’s excessive wealth didn’t help. Even after I matured and grew into what I know the guys consider a tall, Italian beauty, I still sometimes feel a little self-conscious in my own body. People don’t always ask about my heritage, but it happens enough that I tend to anticipate it anyway.

Hippie Ashley, as I’ve decided to call her, only smiles and jabs a thumb to her right. “This is my roommate, Chloe.”

Chloe turns to me, her flowing auburn hair falling over her shoulder. I’m a little taken aback by her ice blue eyes. They’re set off by a delicate, azure piercing nestled above her left nostril. You never know if girls this beautiful are going to be the friendly type or the bitchy type, but Chloe gives me a broad smile.

“Do you know the game?” she asks, as they pass me a little plastic cup.

I shake my head and look down at the inch of brown liquid inside. I have no idea what it is and don’t want to sound like an idiot by asking.

Chloe explains game. “Each team has one empty cup. We flip it and pass it down the line as fast as we can. The losing team takes a shot. I think that’s how it works anyway. I’ve never played before.”

“Sounds right to me,” says a male voice on the other side of me. I turn and see—what was his name? oh right, Justin Kirby—leaning toward me and winking at Chloe.

Hippie Ashley and Chloe exchange glances and laugh.

I’ve already given this Justin Kirby guy the brush off twice this evening. He’s cute enough and seems friendly, but I have a funny feeling about him. It’s nothing I can put my finger on so it’s not like I can tell him to take a hike. “Can I be on your team?” he asks, giving me what I think is supposed to be a charming smile.

I shrug. “Okay.” Who am I to say no?

A few more guys join the line after him. After some shuffling and good-natured arguing, someone at the front of the table gives a signal.

“Here we go,” Ashley says, adjusting her beanie.

The people at the end each flip a plastic cup over. The table erupts in enthusiastic shouts as the cup
tap, taps
down the line. It comes pretty quickly to Justin Kirby. As he passes the cup to me, his chest rubs against my shoulder.

I flip the cup and pass it to Ashley, scooting away from him. I watch the cup as it goes down the line, trailing behind the opposing team.

One side of the table cheers as the first cup reaches the end and our team has to take a shot.

I glance at my glass and hesitate for just a second. I said I wanted to play. I grab it and get a sharp whiff of alcohol just before I toss it back. It feels like I’ve swallowed liquid fire. I start coughing and sputtering, looking like a complete greenie, no doubt.

I glance at Ashley, embarrassed, but she smiles at me good-naturedly and pats me on the back.

“Good stuff, huh?” she says, winking.

Uh-huh.
I try to clear my throat, which is still burning.

By the time the guys are done refilling our shots, I’m starting to feel nice and warm. And... I’ll say it... grown up. I’m not a kid anymore. And I more or less like it. In spite of having to ignore Justin Kirby over there rambling on about his new red Charger and how we should go for a drive, I’m having a good time.

Chloe looks at her cup and says, “I wish they’d do this with beer.”

“We’ll do just a couple more,” Ashley says to her.

The cup goes down the line again and this time our side wins.

Before we go again, I’m starting to feel a little bad. Like, tingly or foggy or something in my brain. Wow, did just one shot do this to me?

The cup goes down the line again, but a few people on our team fumble with it (myself included), and we have to take another shot.

Thinking I shouldn’t, but doing it anyway, I drink it down.

Yeah.

That was definitely not a good idea.

I need to sit down, like now.

Feeling dizzy, I back away from the table with heavy limbs. The girls I met don’t notice my departure but Justin Kirby does.

He’s right next to me with his hand on my lower back.

“I need to sit down,” I say.

“Okay sweetheart,” he says.

He steers me away, past an empty chair.

“Wait,” I say, but he leads me to the basement stairs and we start to go up. I’m having trouble managing them.

I mumble something as we wind through the crowd on the main floor, bumping against a shoulder here and an elbow there. The music is pounding. I feel it in my body, but it sounds muffled, along with all the other sounds in the room. He steers me up another flight of stairs. He has to put his arm around me to keep me from tripping on the steps.

What’s the matter with me?

There’s a long, dark hallway at the top, with several rooms breaking off on either side. Justin Kirby is practically dragging me along.

We pass a couple people—a tiny blonde and a tall, lanky-looking guy with wild hair sticking out all around his baseball hat—and I try to say something to them but I can’t seem to talk. They don’t notice us going by.

Justin Kirby takes me to a door. When he opens it and I see a bed in the room, I know I’m in trouble. I’m almost too out of it to panic properly.

All of a sudden, he half lets go of me, half shoves me into the doorjamb.

I hit my forehead on the wood, trying to hang on to something. There’s screaming and yelling—I’m hearing his voice, I think, and someone else’s, a woman’s voice—but it’s all confusion to me and now all I can do is think about the fact that I’m falling and can’t stop.

Someone catches me. I see legs and a long braid.
Hippie Ashley?

Someone comes to the other side of me, helping to support me, but all I see are the tall, black boots that hug her calves.

I manage to lift my head.

In front of us, the tiny little woman I saw a second ago is on Justin Kirby’s back, scratching and clawing and hollering at him. He’s screaming like he’s getting attacked by the devil himself. I’m not sure he’s not.

The guy with the baseball hat appears, pulls the girl off, and shoves Justin Kirby hard.

“What the hell?” Justin says.

“You have to slip a mickey into some poor girl’s drink to get some? You sorry sack of shit,” baseball cap says.

Justin Kirby gets a stunned look on his face, a caught sort of look. The gears in my brain are working overtime, trying to make sense of what I just heard.

Justin’s face hardens into a scowl. “No.”

Was it during the drinking game?
I think sluggishly.

“She’s drunk off her ass,” Justin says. “That’s not my fault.”

“He’s lying!” the girl wearing boot says, still supporting me on my left side. I look over and I see it’s Chloe, the redhead with the ice blue eyes.

“And what were you planning on
doing
with someone who’s supposedly drunk off her ass?” the guy in the baseball hat asks.

“Get the fuck out of my face,” Justin Kirby says, retreating and slamming the door.

My little firecracker of a savior and her male friend look ready to charge the door and tear it down, but I don’t see if they do. I start tipping forward, losing the ability to hold myself up.

“Hey, help us!” I hear Chloe say, then everything goes black.

 

 

When I wake up, I’m in Chloe and Ashley’s dorm room. Soon after, they’re carting me to the bathroom so I can puke up what feels like every ounce of liquid in my stomach, my intestines, and probably clear down to my colon as well.

“Gross,” I say, wiping my mouth.

The girls help me clean up and take me back to their room to lay me down on Chloe’s bed. I feel badly, because I have my own room and hate to put them out.

They insist it’s no big deal and say I can go home when I’m feeling better. By the time I actually
am
feeling better, the little blonde firecracker shows up.

“Hi Sam,” Ashley says. “Come on in.”

“Do you all know each other?” I ask.

Ashley shakes her head. “We met last night. Sam and Jack were upstairs when we went up to get you. When she heard what was going on, she went all nuclear missile on him.”

Said nuclear missile bends over and shakes my hand. “It’s Isabella, right?” she asks.

I nod. “Is Sam short for something?”

“My mother calls me Samantha,” she says, straightening, “but the people who like me call me Sam.”

She’s a tiny thing, can’t be more than 5’4”, with short, blonde hair that apparently has a mind of its own. It’s going in all sorts of directions, but it suits her and I can see just by the way she carries herself that she plays the sexy look it gives her for all its worth.

“Who was the guy?” I ask. “Jack, was it? Was he your date?”

Sam waves her hand. “Nah. Not really my type. He lives across the hall from me. He’s cool enough but he’s dating my ding bat roommate, god knows why. She’s not really my type either.”

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