I blew out an exaggerated breath. “We’ll see.”
“I hope your fake boyfriend doesn’t show. I heard he’s the jealous type.”
“Shut up,” I said, swatting her shoulder. “But you’re right. He’s super possessive. That’s why I had to end things.”
Since Nick hadn’t asked me for my phone number, that meant I didn’t have his either. It also meant I had no way of texting him to ask what time the party started, or tell him we were on our way over, which we were. I prayed that arriving close to eleven would be a safe enough bet, and that the gathering would be in full swing by then. It was a little late, but I had to focus on some homework first.
I sat in the passenger seat of Rachel’s old Civic, my knees bouncing up and down.
Rachel shot me a glare. “Stop shaking your knees like that.”
“I’m nervous,” I bit out.
“You should be.”
I snapped my head around to look at her, but she burst out laughing before I could speak. “I hate you.”
“You don’t. Don’t be nervous. It’s just a party and he’s just a guy,” she said, obviously trying to downplay the entire situation as she made a right turn. The frat house was down the block, but I could already see people gathered on the front lawn.
I chortled out a laugh. “Just a boy? You’re one to talk. You’ve been building him up since we got to school here last year. It’s like you think he’s part god or something.”
“You never know. All those mythology stories have to come from somewhere.”
“Yeah, good writers’ imaginations.” I huffed, absolutely refusing to believe that Nick was anything other than human, no matter how hot and charming he was.
Rachel pulled the car to the curb, and I smiled at the four guys playing beer pong out front as I got out of the car.
“Nick! Your girl’s here,” one of them yelled.
My cheeks burst into flames. How the hell did they know who I was, and that I was here for Nick?
“Did you hear that?” Rachel whispered as she locked arms with me.
We walked inside where the lights were dimmed, the music blared, and more than a few people had gathered in the house. A lot of people.
This wasn’t what I considered a small party. This was a party.
I scanned the crowd of bodies swaying to the music in the living area, and then checked out the group of guys hanging out in the kitchen, but didn’t spot Nick.
Trevor suddenly appeared at Rachel’s side, focusing on her as he said, “You came.”
“Nick said you wanted me to,” she said, her tone downright bitchy.
“Can we talk?” He motioned over his shoulder, and she looked at me.
“Will you be okay if I leave you alone?” She raised her eyebrows in that way that meant she wanted me to say yes.
I scanned the room again before waving them off. “I’ll be fine. You two go.”
She gave me a quick best-friend squeeze before following Trevor into the crowd and disappearing from view.
I navigated my way around the sweaty dancing bodies and headed toward the kitchen, where I figured I’d grab a drink and ask if anyone had seen Nick. As I moved through the group of dancers, a guy grabbed me by the waist and spun me around.
“Hi,” I said awkwardly, not recognizing him, but definitely realizing that he’d had way too much to drink.
“You’re really pretty,” he slurred, pushing his face too close to mine.
“Thanks.” I gave him a tight smile as I pulled out of his grip. It took a little wriggling, but I finally broke free and bolted away from him in search of the one guy I came here to see.
Marching up to the group of guys in the kitchen, I noticed six of them circled around a keg. They were trying to convince one of their brothers to do a keg stand, and before they talked him into it, I interrupted.
“Do you guys know where Nick is?”
They all turned to stare at me, and I recognized two of the guys from the class I shared with Nick.
“Hey, you’re Jess, right? I’m Todd.” He extended his hand to me over the counter that separated us and gave it a firm shake. “Everyone, this is Jess.”
My cheeks immediately heated again with the ridiculous shouting that followed. Drunk guys were the weirdest. Once the cheering died down and I found my voice again, I repeated my question.
“Do you know where Nick is?”
“I think he’s in his room. Down the left hallway, last door at the very end,” Todd said, pointing me in the right direction.
Suddenly realizing that Nick might not be there alone, I asked, “Uh, do I want to go in there?”
“He was alone when I saw him,” Todd said, and I turned just as they lifted the other guy by his legs and held him upside down, chanting his name.
Shaking my head, I took a left at the dark hallway and noticed several couplings happening against the walls. I watched my feet, navigating my steps carefully, not wanting to step on anyone’s feet or discarded clothing if I could help it. The hall was ridiculously long.
“I remember you.”
I looked up to find the guy from the dance floor in front of me, blocking my way. I had no idea where he came from; it was like he appeared from thin air.
“Uh, okay.” I moved to slip past him, but he reached out to stop me. When I tried to sidestep him, he moved in front of me again.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m just going to get Nick,” I said, hoping that the mention of his name would deter the guy.
“Nick’s busy,” he bit out with a slur.
My stomach tightened into a painful knot. Maybe Todd was wrong, and Nick was in his room with some other girl. Why would he invite me here if he was only going to hook up with someone else?
“But I’m not. I’m not . . . not even busy.”
The drunk guy shoved me against the wall and extended his arms on either side of me, trapping me as he propped himself up with his palms. His words were mangled as he continued speaking to me.
He was drunk. Really drunk.
And he was strong. Too strong.
No matter how I twisted or ducked, I couldn’t find a way out of the human cage his arms formed around me.
His voice was drowned out by the sound of my heart frantically pounding in my ears. Not that his words were truly threatening; they were mostly filled with stupid things that drunk guys said when they didn’t want you giving your attention to someone else. It was his body language that caused my current heart palpitations.