And either I imagine it, or his fingertips graze the nape of my neck when I turn to walk away.
Disgust crawls up my spine. It takes a serious effort not to Usain Bolt out of the lecture hall. Instead, I move at a normal pace and act as if I’m not completely repulsed by the potential neck graze.
“Nora, I’ll be with you in a minute,” Laurie tells her, stepping away to answer a call on his cell.
“He’s all yours,” I murmur to Nora.
She makes a sardonic noise under her breath. “Doesn’t look that way from where I’m standing.”
I turn to frown at her. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
She checks to make sure Laurie is still on the phone, before sniping, “Don’t you get tired of using your looks to get ahead?”
“What are you talking about? I’m not using anything.”
“You’ve got Laurie wrapped around your little finger. He drools every time you walk in the room. He acts like every word you say is worthy of a Pulitzer. I swear, if he wasn’t already on his feet, he’d give you a standing ovation every time you opened your mouth.”
I clench my jaw so tight my teeth start to hurt. “It’s not like I’m asking him to do that. I’m actually interested in the material we’re discussing.”
“I’m sure you are.” She rolls her eyes, tucking a strand of pink-streaked hair behind her ear. “Maybe if you spent less time flirting and more time learning, you wouldn’t have gotten kicked out of your last school.”
“Uh-huh. Have a good day, Nora.”
My hands are trembling as I stalk off. She is such a nasty person. I can’t believe Fitz liked her enough to go out with her.
I wonder if she gave him a blowjob and he ignored her afterward too.
The reminder floods my belly with the heat of embarrassment. Sexual acts don’t generally embarrass me, not even the ones in high school that occurred when I wasn’t quite sober. But Fitz has made it this way for me. By not even acknowledging that it happened, he’s caused me to feel like there’s something shameful about what we did.
I try to push the negative thoughts from my mind as I exit the building. Once again, it’s cold outside. I swear, February’s even chillier than January. But at least it’s shorter.
Still, I don’t know how much longer I can take this. I might skip out for a week and fly to our place in St. Bart’s, write my essay while lying on a beach chair and sipping pina coladas. Hmmm. Actually not a bad idea.
On the walk to my car, I scroll through my phone contacts. I really do need to secure my models. I require twelve bodies. Six males, six females. Brenna would laugh in my face if I asked her to put on a bikini and strut down a runway. But I do know some girls who might say yes. My Kappa sisters. Or rather, former sisters, but that’s semantics.
Sorority girls crave attention, and most of them have no issue with skimpy clothing. Besides, I have a feeling Bianca might agree out of guilt alone. I think she genuinely felt bad about the way Kaya handled the whole living situation last month.
I don’t have Bianca’s number, so I pull up my profile on MyBri, the college social network. She’s not on my friends list, but you don’t have to be friends with someone to message them. I send a quick note explaining what I need, then close the app.
For the men, I hadn’t been kidding about the football player angle. Nobody wants to see Speedos and swim trunks on scrawny guys with their ribs and hipbones jutting out. Gotta have the abs, baby.
I call my brother, who actually answers despite it being the middle of the school day. “Hey,” I greet Dean. “You’re not teaching a class?”
“Snow day,” he replies.
“Aw, it’s snowing over there? We got a few flurries this morning, but it’s cleared up.” I pray that whatever blizzard has hit New York doesn’t decide to pop over to Massachusetts.
“Yeah, the weather’s shit here. What’s up, Boogers? What do you need?”
“Are you still friends with any of the Briar football players, or did they all graduate?”
“I still talk to a few.”
There’s a skip to my step as I reach my Audi. “Perfect. Can you get me an introduction?”
“What for?” he asks suspiciously.
“I need models for my fashion show. I was hoping to recruit some hard bodies.”
He snorts in my ear. “If even one of them says yes, I expect a front-row ticket to the show so I can get my heckle on.”
“Deal. Most of them live on the same street in Hastings, right? Elmway? Elmhurst?” I remember Brenna pointing it out when we passed the neighborhood on the way home from a Briar game.
“Elmhurst,” he confirms. “Rex’s house is your best bet. He lives with a bunch of clowns who like to show off their muscles.”
“Perfect. I’ve got some time now, so I figured I’d drive over. Can you give me one of their numbers?”
“There’s no fucking way you’re going to a football house alone.” Horror drips from his every word. “Let me call one of my boys and ask them to meet you there. I was just texting with Hunter, so I know he’s around.”
His overprotectiveness makes me roll my eyes. But I suppose it’s sweet. “Fine. Tell him I’ll see him in thirty.”
But it’s not Hunter’s Range Rover that pulls up behind my Audi thirty minutes later. It’s Fitz’s beat-up sedan.
My brother sent Fitz to meet me?
If Dean had so much as an inkling of what Fitz and I did in the locker room this weekend, he never would’ve dispatched him to Elmhurst Avenue.
I don’t know which one of us looks more uncomfortable as we approach each other. Fitz’s hands are shoved in his coat pockets, and his eyes don’t quite meet mine as he says, “Hey. Dean sent me.”
“I figured.” My tone is probably harsher than necessary, but—
It is absolutely necessary! Selena assures me.
True. He did come in my mouth and run away.
“You, ah, had class this morning? History of Fashion?” he says awkwardly.
He’s making small talk?
Is he for real?
“Yes, Fitz, I had class,” I say. I shift my tote to my other shoulder and march toward the driveway of the detached Victorian we’ve parked in front of. According to Dean, there are, like, eight football dudes living here.
“How’s the essay going?”
I stop in the middle of the paved drive. “You mean the one you agreed to help me with?” I can’t help but snipe.
Unhappiness clouds his expression. “I’m sorry. I know I dropped the ball. I’ve been…”
“Busy?” I supply.
“And don’t forget about the headaches,” I say sarcastically. “All those terrible, terrible headaches you’ve been suffering from.”
Fitz lets out a quick breath. He lifts his hand to run it through his hair, then halts when he remembers he’s wearing a Red Sox cap.
“Don’t worry,” I mutter, gulping down the bitter taste in my mouth. “I’ve got the essay covered.”
We resume our walk up the driveway. His legs are longer than mine, so he shortens his strides to match my pace. “Are you sure? Did your prof approve the thesis? Give you any notes?”
At the mention of Laurie, I momentarily forget that I’m pissed off at Fitz. “He made a few suggestions, but I was so eager to leave, I didn’t fully listen to what he said. I’ll read over what he wrote in the margins when I get home.”
Fitz studies my face. His own expression is inscrutable. “Why were you eager to leave?”
“Honestly? He makes me uncomfortable.”
A frown tightens the corners of his mouth. “In what way?”
“I don’t know. He’s very friendly.” I pause. “A little too friendly.”
“Has he tried anything?” Fitz demands.
“No. Oh no, he hasn’t,” I assure him. “I… I don’t know. Maybe I’m being overly sensitive. I get a weird vibe from him, that’s all.”
“Always trust your gut, Summer. If something feels off, it usually is.”
“My gut isn’t exactly the most accurate barometer,” I say flatly. “I mean, it told me to track you down in the locker room this weekend, and look how that turned out.”
At the mention of what went down this weekend (me. I went down this weekend. On him), Fitz’s expression fills with regret. “I’m…” He clears his throat. “I’m really sorry about that.”
I don’t know how to respond, because I can’t figure out what he’s apologizing for—that he disappeared after I blew him, or that it happened in the first place.
“You’re sorry,” is what I finally say.
I wait for him to expand on that. When he doesn’t, my anger returns in full force, spurring me to brush past him and stomp to the front porch.
The door flings open before I can even ring the bell, and a huge black guy with a shaved head appears in front of me. In a split second, the excitement in his eyes transforms into grave disappointment. “It’s not the pizza!” he shouts over his shoulder.