Authors: Carrie Aarons
© 2015 by Carrie Aarons
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
o my B
, you always make lemonade out of lemons. This is for you.
You don't have to swing hard to hit a home run. If you got the timing, it'll go.
of the rusty Ferris Wheel car is the only noise transpiring on this ride.
Off in the distance, children are screaming, and the off-kilter hum of the merry-go-round music tinkles in the humid summer night air.
The Freeboro Fair used to seem magical when I was younger. All of the twinkling lights, soaring rides, prizes. The smell of sickly sweet cotton candy and fried funnel cake invading your nostrils.
Tonight, though? The Freeboro Fair was a death sentence. There was absolutely no magic happening. None.
I sit next to Miles Farriston in the rickety, too small seat. And when I say too small, I don’t mean because the ride had been built that way. No, it’s because Miles Farriston is an actual giant.
See, I’d been waiting almost fifteen years to get the perfect moment alone with this six-foot-seven blonde hunk. I’d tried on multiple occasions, in high school and after he left for college, to arrange a drunk hook up at this party or that. He’d never bitten.
When Minka gave me the inside intel that he was newly single, I knew this summer was my opportunity to pounce.
Oh how wrong I’d been. Everything that had drawn me to Miles Farriston since the first time I’d seen him in elementary school— his goofy humor, the way he completely lit up a room, the smile that never seemed to leave his face— that was long gone.
Replacing it was some robot, some shell of Miles’ former self. The couple of times I’d seen him this summer, he wavered between a scowling grump and so drunk he couldn’t physically stand.
Not that that scowling grump wasn’t still the hottest man I’d ever seen in my life. He was an Adonis. His body was literally his freaking temple, he honed and worked on every aspect of it until there was no more muscle he could add, and then he added some more. He was huge, there was just no other word. He towered over me, and I was tall for a girl at five-foot-nine. His strong jaw set off the rest of his chiseled face, and he always kept his blonde curls just a little too long. The dimples in his cheeks only added to everything that was just so Miles about Miles.
But it was those eyes that had first captured my breath, and then my heart. One the palest blue you’ve ever seen, the other was greener than a four-leaf-clover in the fields of Ireland. He really did look like some mythical storybook character.
“Chlo!” Minka’s wave from the car above us grabs my attention, and I wave back, trying to convey the “I’m going to kill you for setting me up with this jerk,” look effectively.
Instead, I see Owen swoop in and plant a very intimate kiss on her lips. She’s too in love to realize my pain.
“So, are you excited to go back to school?” I try for one last measly attempt at conversation. Not that I hadn’t tried for it in the car, hard. He hadn’t even nodded in my direction.
If he didn’t answer this question, I might just jump out of this seat, no matter where it is on the wheel. With no regard for my American Ballet Company-hopeful legs.
“You should know I only came on this ‘date’ because Owen threatened to tell my college coach about my love of marijuana.” Miles uses air-quotes when he says the word date. Ouch. That one hurt, even though it shouldn’t. Even though I knew he wasn’t here to get to know me, romance me, and make me his girl. No matter how much I’d like that option.
“I kind of caught on to that. That is, you not being here for me. That’s okay. But maybe now that you are here, we could get to know each other. Make the best out of this night.” I try to plaster the most brilliant smile I can on my face. I’m a generally cheery person, and I really do try to brighten those around me.
Miles starts to laugh. I smile, thinking that I’ve maybe broken through his newly tough exterior. I’ll look back on this moment later with shame broiling my insides.
“Chloe, isn’t it? Yeah, whatever, I know you’ve been into me for years. Trying to sink your claws into me. Well, you should listen good now. I’m not looking for another hoity-toity, princess bitch who only wants to date me so she can post it all over social media and get her hands on my family’s money. I’m here because I was dragged here, not because I want to fuck you, or god forbid start a relationship. So save your cheery-cheery sunshine bullshit and leave me the fuck alone. Bad enough I have to sit here with you, I don’t need to talk to you too.”
It felt as though my mouth had unhinged from my jaw. I knew by the flaming heat in my cheeks that they were bright red, if not purple and spotted with shame. My throat was closing up, the ball of emotion stuck right in the middle of it, not going down.
You know that feeling you get right before you throw up? All the saliva collects in your mouth and your stomach crawls up into your trachea? I feel something like that before I cry. Not so much the nausea, but I just know from the tingling in my throat and the unbottled emotions behind my eyes that I’m about to break down into sobs.
That’s why, when I feel the tears filling up the wells at my corneas, I turn my head. I assume Miles is no longer interested in me, because he makes no move to comfort me or even apologize.
I bite my bottom lip until I almost draw blood, and suffer out the rest of this ride from hell with fat, ugly tears rolling down my cheeks.
I fucking got roped into this. I hate dancing these days, and I hate getting up early even more.
Walking through the Theater Arts building, I’m so fucking lost and late it’s not even funny. This building is like one big giant clusterfuck of weird thespians and dancing freaks, and I feel the need to cup my balls tight before I even enter the next wing of classrooms. You know, to make sure they don’t disappear in a cloud of fairy dust.
My asshat fraternity brothers nominated me as this year’s contestant in Dancing with the Greeks, the campus’ version of a bragging right’s competition. Everyone wanted to win the Mount Olympus trophy. Everyone, that is, except for me.
I want to be the best damn baseball player this college had ever seen, crack multiple beers as soon as it hit three o’clock, light a bowl, and find me a hot fucking one night stand. But apparently I’d been doing too much of that recently, as noted by my current predicament.
Last week I’d accidentally broken another chair and three “treasured” pledge class plaques at the Kappa Eta Sigma house. Apparently this wasn’t the first time. I swore I couldn’t remember the other destruction I’d caused…
Plus, Owen hands me my ass every time he sees me. Trying to “talk.” He threatened all kinds of things, but as long as I kept performing on the field, I knew he wouldn’t report me to anyone.
But the Kappa Sigs, they’d had enough. They nominated my ass for this tutu competition, telling me if I didn’t do it, I’d be kicked out.
I was a legacy, expulsion from the frat would be tantamount to social suicide. Not to mention I wouldn’t ever be allowed back for those kicks parties. And the main reason I’d accepted the punishment? Charles Farriston would never let me hear the end of it if I ceased to be a Kappa Sig. Just another failure his son presented him with.
So here I was. Trying to find the rehearsal room, and my partner for the six-week competition, at 9:30 on a Saturday morning in October navigating this godforsaken mystery of a building.
I stop a guy in an old-school page-boy costume. “Uh yeah, ‘scuse me? Can you tell me where Room 602 is?”
He flips his gaze my way, and I see his eyes widen in appreciation as he does a slow head-to-toe check of my body. I slouch into myself a little, uncomfortable with this dude’s gaze trailing over my junk. I like gay dudes just fine, but it didn’t mean this whole thing wasn’t incredibly awkward.
“Sure big guy, just down that hall, hang a left and it’ll be the first room on your right.” He points in front of him, and I swivel my head to assess his directions.
“Anytime, hunk.” The guy winks at me and places his newsboy cap on his head. I can feel his eyes roaming my ass as I make my way down the hall away from him.
I follow his directions and stop outside the designated classroom. Finally. You’d think this place was the Labyrinth or something.
I’m about to grab the handle and turn it to walk into the room, but a flash of movement catches my eye. I pause, creeping on the person, who I assume is my partner, flitting around the room.
She’s tall, for a girl, and elegantly thin, with a pertly round ass. Or at least that’s what I can see from here. She has long, shiny black hair that swings in a ponytail down her back. Besides that, I can out her legs, toned and long, legs that would look mighty fine wrapped around a man’s waist. Preferably my waist. Hey, if I had to do this thing, there might as well be benefits.
I can make out the lilt of a song, something slow but with an uptempo beat. Fast enough to dance to, but not something they’d ever play at any of the bars I’d frequent.
And that’s what she’s doing. Dancing. But using that word doesn’t do how she’s moving her body justice.
It’s more likes she’s floating, her toes barely skimming the floor before she pushes off for the next move, dip or turn. Her arms are like the branches of a weeping willow tree, elegant and beautiful in their movement but extremely strong underneath. Her back bends in ways not natural to a human, and when she does one of those leap things, it looks like her legs might snap off of her body. But they don’t. She controls them, not even making a sound as she lands.
It’s hard to catch my breath as I watch her. She’s good. She’s more than good. I can tell she feels about dancing how I feel about baseball, and I haven’t even met her yet.
I probably shouldn’t be standing here, creeping on her private moment. It suddenly feels wrong, but I can’t stop. Watching her puts this feeling in my chest, and I haven’t had a feeling in the husk that is now my heart in probably a year and a half. Ever since my goddamn ex dumped me like the miserable pile of shit I now was.
Maybe this competition wasn’t going to be so bad after all. On one hand, my partner was sexy. I mean I hadn’t seen her face yet, but I could just tell. And on the other, she was a damn good dancer. If I could actually win this thing, the frat brothers would worship at my feet. We’d never won the Mount Olympus trophy.
Not wanting to be any later than I already was, and feeling a little bad for interrupting her solo performance, I push into the classroom.
The ancient wood door makes a creaking noise, announcing my arrival. Mystery partner completes the turn she’s spun her body into, and when she turns around to face me, the most brilliant smile I’ve ever seen is gracing her extremely full cherry colored lips.
And then it promptly vanishes.
doing here?” The girl scowls, her body almost flinching as she backs up a couple of steps before she bumps into the floor-to-ceiling mirrored wall.
And then I realize who she is. Chloe.
Minka’s happy-go-lucky best friend. The girl I’d chewed out three months ago at the Freeboro Fair. Chloe.
“You’re…you’re my partner? For Dancing with the Greeks?” I have nothing else to say.
“You’re my competition partner? No…” She whispers the last part almost to herself, and I see something cloud her violet-colored eyes. Fear? What the fuck?
“There has got to be some kind of mistake. Are you even legal? I mean you can’t be in a sorority, seriously?” Great. Another chance to make things right with this girl and this is how I start off.
Its not that I had something against her. I even thought she was hot. But something about her Miss Mary Sunshine act always pissed me off. It was more than I could handle these days. I remember when I used to be like that. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t fucking stand her.
Not to mention something about her just reeked of entitlement. She knew she was perfect, and she definitely didn’t hesitate to give off the vibe that she knew. I’d dealt with enough of that from ex, thanks very much.
She looks like she might cry from my comment. Ah, shit.
“I’m legal. Pledged Zeta Phi Zeta earlier in the year. I was picked to dance, because well, its my major. But don’t worry, you won’t have to dance with me. I’ll talk to the coordinators, drop out.”
She says these in a hurried monotone while collecting her bag, sneakers and water bottle off the hardwood floor of the studio. She doesn’t even bother to change out of her dancing shoes, I think they call them pointe shoes, before all but running to the exit.
And with that, she’s scurrying out the door, trying to get away from me as fast as she can.
Part of me is glad I won’t have to put up with her cheery personality for the next six weeks. Part of me knows I’ve just royally screwed myself. Where the hell was I going to find another partner?