The Together Series Boxset
“And there will be a time, you’ll see.
Is there anything worse? Staring down into my owl coffee mug, the cool brown liquid gawks up at me in mock humor. The cord is lying on the counter beside the pot, not plugged into the wall where it was last night. Instead, Heather’s—my looks-obsessed roommate—straightener is plugged in. What’s the point of having a timed coffeepot if it’s unplugged every morning before you get a chance to use it? I grit my teeth and blow my bangs from my forehead.
I snatch the cord from the plug-in and toss the straightener on her bed. Hopefully, she’ll get the point. Instead of pouring the coffee down our sink, I sip on it. Hell shall freeze over before I go a morning without my coffee. Hell frozen-over would probably be hotter than my coffee right now. I grab my backpack, tie my blond hair into a messy bun, push up my thick, black-rim hipster glasses, and walk out of our dorm room.
I lock the door and head toward class, the aroma of perfumes swarming my nose. A few girls in towels race down the hall, screaming. Like clockwork, a tall muscular guy follows behind them, a huge I’m-going-to-get-some grin on his face. College is definitely a guy’s wet dream come true. Especially, in a co-ed dorm. He’ll have one of them pressed against their dorm room door tonight. They’re all so predictable.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly fine to date. But, doing it wisely is a completely different issue. Girls aren’t the smartest when it comes to dating. The three C’s that guys can’t stand are clinginess, crying, and clumsiness. I know it’s not possible to walk like a runway model twenty-four seven. And we all know girls tend to cry, especially around that time of the month. But it’s all about the game. You’ve got to play it right, so you can snag a great guy. It’s so easy to rope one in as long as you focus, and I don’t mean on his abs.
I’m almost clear of the hallway when I hear my name. I turn on my heel. Heather is frowning from the lounge doorway. Her long black hair is perfectly straightened. I hope she gets a medal for her hair today, because that would be the only reason I’d forgive her for unplugging my coffeepot.
She pouts her pink-coated lips and curls her finger for me to come closer. “She’s crying again.”
Damn it. I don’t have to ask. I know it’s Bethany and I know why she’s crying. It’s the same damn thing every week. Sighing, I walk into the lounge. A few girls surround her, patting her back and trying to calm her down. It’s not going to work, because she’ll be in the same position next week. She glances up over her long lashes and slender nose. Her strawberry blond hair is messy and hangs loosely down to her breasts. “I just—I just don’t know what I’m doing wrong. It’s like every time he sees me coming, he goes the opposite direction. What do I do—” she breaks off in a fit of sobs.
I’m thinking of a million different ways to escape when Heather claps her hands loudly. “I know. Laney—why don’t you help her? You helped me with Todd. You got him to ask me out in two days. You could help Bethany.”
Oh, the agony. I don’t know if I could stand two minutes in a room alone with her. I give her a small fake smile and shrug. She looks like the damn cat off of Shrek, with her wide eyes and trembling bottom lip. If I say no I’ll look like a major bitch. “Who is it this ti—?” I stop myself.
She wipes her nose and tries to straighten her hair. I want to tell her that’s not going to work, she needs a brush, but I keep my mouth shut.
And the heavens opened up and released the hottest male specimen to come to Jacksonville University. Well, that’s what he thinks anyway. Aiden is the playboy of our small university and he plays his Abercrombie-model good looks to his advantage. I grumble under my breath and pull my strap up my shoulder to keep it from falling.
“Have you had sex with him?”
A few of the hovering girls gasp. Oh, get over it. Bethany shakes her head. “No, we haven’t.”
“Great. That means you still have a chance to get him.”
“Wait,” a redheaded girl says from the corner of the room. “You’re telling me that if we’ve had sex with a guy, and he hasn’t committed, we’re screwed?”
I nod. “Pretty much. You’ve never heard why buy the cow when the milk is free?”
The redhead scoffs. “How do you know so much about this stuff, and who made you queen?”
Rawr. Someone hasn’t had their panties down lately. Heather raises her index finger and rolls her neck; that’s how I know she’s going to tell someone off. “She knows exactly what to do when it comes to getting guys. I’ve been with Todd for five months.”
Red shakes her head. “But why don’t you have a boyfriend then, Laney?”
A long, hard pain starts to build in the depth of my stomach. My eyes feel funny and my heartbeat is heavy in my chest. I will not think about him. No, I refuse. “No one has interested me yet.” Which is almost true, no one at this college has been worth my time. But that’s not the real reason. Red grabs her coffee and sways out of the room. Please, bring me back that coffee!
A tall brunette sitting in the corner clears her throat and leans over the worn lobby chair. “What else. I mean—any other advice?”
Everyone turns to look at me. I should totally charge for this. I shrug. “You can’t show that you’re too interested. No waiting for his text. He needs to be waiting for yours.” I take a sip of my cold coffee. “Don’t throw yourselves at him. Don’t take fifty million pictures on the second date. Make him work for it.”
Most of the girls nod slowly at me, waiting for more advice. I glance at the wall clock. I’m going to be so late.
“Laney,” Bethany asks, drawing my attention back to her. “Can you help me? I don’t know what move to make. Please.”
Can I help you, or will I help you? It’s not like my small job at the writing center takes up that much time. Hell, I have tons of free time. That’s exactly why I have a TBR list on my Kindle a mile long. I tug at my ponytail, then give Heather a defeated look. “Okay, I can help. You want to meet me tonight? We’ll go over our strategy.”
Bethany smiles. I think it’s the first one I’ve seen on her face since she moved in last semester. “Well, I have plans to go out tonight. Aiden is going to be there, if you want to meet up?”
Oh, no. I don’t like where this is going. I’m not a big partier. I’m twenty-two and couldn’t care less about getting wasted. I do it sometimes, but only for celebration or if I’m really bored. “Where are you guys meeting?”
Bethany stands up, adjusting her boobs in her shirt. No wonder guys flock to her, and no wonder they leave. She leaves nothing to the imagination. “The Loft down on King Street.” She places her hands on her slender hips. “You coming? I really want to start now.”
The black lines of mascara running down her face makes me sad. She is really desperate. Crying in the third-floor lounge isn’t the fix-it problem she was looking for and I can’t blame her. All the girls surrounding her right now would advise her to do the absolute wrong thing.
I huff. It’s just one night. “Okay, I’ll meet you there at nine.”