“See? He’s a happy drunk.”

I blew air through my lips, and they made a puff sound. “I’m not drunk. Not yet.”


Shepley pointed to the diminishing amber liquid. “If you drink the rest of that, you will be.”

I held up the bottle, and then looked at the clock. “Three hours. Must be a good date.” I lifted the bottle to Shepley, and then touched it to my lips, tilting it all the way back. The rest of the contents passed my numb lips and teeth, and burned all the way to my stomach.

“Jesus, Travis,” Shepley said with a frown. “You should go pass out. You don’t want to be up when she gets home.”

The sound of an engine grew louder as it approached the apartment and then idled outside. I knew the sound well—it was Parker’s Porsche.

A sloppy smile spread across my lips. “What for? This is where the magic happens.”

America watched me warily. “Trav . . . you promised.”

I nodded. “I did. I promised. I’m just going to help her out of the car.” My legs were under me, but I couldn’t feel them. The back of the couch proved to be a great stabilizer for my drunken attempt at walking.

My hand encompassed the knob, but America gently covered it with her hand. “I’m going to go with you. To make sure you don’t break your promise.”

“Good idea,” I said. I opened the door, and instantly adrenaline burned through the last half of the whiskey. The Porsche rocked once, and the windows were fogged.

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Unsure of how my legs moved so fast in my condition, I was suddenly at the bottom of the stairs. America took a fistful of my shirt. As small as she was, she was surprisingly sturdy.

“Travis,” she said in a loud whisper. “Abby’s not going to let it go too far. Try to calm down, first.”

“I’m just going to check that she’s okay,” I said, taking the few steps to Parker’s car. The side of my hand hit the passenger-side window so hard, I was surprised it didn’t break. When they didn’t open the door, I opened it for them.

Abby was fidgeting with her dress. Her hair a mess and gloss-less lips, a telltale sign of what they’d been doing.

Parker’s face tensed. “What the hell, Travis?”

My hands balled into fists, but I could feel America’s hand on my shoulder.

“C’mon, Abby. I need to talk to you,” America said.

Abby blinked a few times. “About what?”

“Just come on!” America snapped.

Abby looked to Parker. “I’m sorry, I have to go.”

Parker shook his head, angry. “No, it’s fine. Go ahead.”

I took Abby’s hand as she stepped from the Porsche, and then kicked the door shut. Abby flipped around and stood between me and the car, shoving my shoulder. “What is wrong with you? Knock it off!”

The Porsche squealed out of the parking lot. I pulled my cigs out of my shirt pocket and lit one up. “You can go in, now, Mare.”

“C’mon, Abby.”

“Why don’t you stay, Abs,” I said. The word felt ridiculous to say. How Parker could utter it with a straight face was a feat in itself.

Abby nodded for America to go ahead, and she reluctantly complied.

I watched her for a moment, taking a drag or two from my cigarette.

Abby crossed her arms. “Why did you do that?”

“Why? Because he was mauling you in front of my apartment!”

“I may be staying with you, but what I do, and who I do it with, is my business.”

I flicked my cigarette to the ground. “You’re so much better than that, Pidge. Don’t let him fuck you in a car like a cheap prom date.”

“I wasn’t going to have sex with him!”

I waved my hand toward the empty space where Parker’s car sat. “What were you doing, then?”

“Haven’t you ever made out with someone, Travis? Haven’t you just messed around without letting it get that far?”

That was stupidest thing I’d ever heard. “What’s the point in that?” Blue balls and disappointment. Sounded like a ball.

“The concept exists for a lot of people. Especially those that date.”

“The windows were all fogged up, the car was bouncing . . . how was I supposed to know?”

“Maybe you shouldn’t spy on me!”

Spy on her? She knows we can hear every car that pulls up to the apartment, and she decided that right outside my door was a good place to suck face with a guy I can’t stand? I rubbed my face in frustration, trying to keep my cool. “I can’t stand this, Pigeon. I feel like I’m going crazy.”

“You can’t stand what?”

“If you sleep with him, I don’t wanna know about it. I’ll go to prison for a long time if I find out he . . . just don’t tell me.”

“Travis.” She seethed. “I can’t believe you just said that! That’s a big step for me!”

“That’s what all girls say!”

“I don’t mean the sluts you deal with! I mean me!” She held her hand to her chest. “I haven’t . . . ugh! Never mind.” She took a few steps, but I grabbed her arm, turning her to face me.

“You haven’t what?” Even in my current state, the answer came to me. “You’re a virgin?”

“So what?” she said, blushing.

“That’s why America was so sure it wouldn’t get too far.”

“I had the same boyfriend all four years of high school. He was an aspiring Baptist youth minister! It never came up!”

“A youth minister? What happened after all that hard-earned abstinence?”

“He wanted to get married and stay in . . . Kansas. I didn’t.”

I couldn’t believe what Abby was saying. She was almost nineteen, and still a virgin? That was almost unheard of these days. I couldn’t remember meeting one since the beginning of high school.

I held each side of her face. “A virgin. I would have never guessed, with the way you danced at the Red.”

“Very funny,” she said, stomping up the stairs.

I went after her but busted my ass on one of the steps. My elbow cracked against the corner of the concrete stair, but the pain never came. I rolled onto my back, laughing hysterically.

“What are you doing? Get up!” Abby said as she tugged on me until I was upright.

My eyes turned fuzzy, and then we were in Chaney’s class. Abby was sitting on his desk wearing something that looked like a prom dress, and I was in my boxer shorts. The room was empty, and it was either dusk or dawn.

“Going somewhere?” I asked, not particularly concerned that I wasn’t dressed.

Abby smiled, reaching out to touch my face. “Nope. Not going anywhere. I’m here to stay.”

“You promise?” I asked, touching her knees. I spread her legs just enough to fit snugly between her thighs.

“At the end of it all, I’m yours.”

I wasn’t exactly sure what she meant, but Abby was all over me. Her lips traveled down my neck, and I closed my eyes, in a complete and total state of euphoria. Everything I had worked for was happening. Her fingers traveled down my torso, and I sucked in a bit just as she slipped them between my boxers and settled on my junk.

Whatever awesomeness I’d felt before, it had just been surpassed. I twisted my fingers in her hair, and pressed my lips against hers, wasting no time to caress the inside of her mouth with my tongue.

One of her heels fell to the floor, and I looked down.

“I have to go,” Abby said, sad.

“What? I thought you said you weren’t going anywhere.”

Abby smiled. “Try harder.”


“Try harder,” she echoed, touching my face.

“Wait,” I said, not wanting it to end. “I love you, Pigeon.”

My eyes blinked slowly. When my eyes focused, I recognized my ceiling fan. My body hurt everywhere, and my head was thumping with every beat of my heart.

From somewhere down the hall, America’s excited, shrill voice filled my ears. In contrast, Shepley’s low voice was then peppered between America’s and Abby’s voices.

I closed my eyes, falling into a deep depression. It was just a dream. None of that happiness was real. I rubbed my face, trying to produce enough motivation to drag my ass outta bed.

Whatever party I’d crashed the night before, I hoped it was worth feeling like pulverized meat in the bottom of a trash can.

My feet felt heavy as I dragged them across the floor to pick up a pair of jeans crumpled in the corner. I pulled them on, and then stumbled into the kitchen, recoiling at the sound of their voices.

“You guys are loud as fuck,” I said, buttoning my jeans.

“Sorry,” Abby said, barely looking at me. No doubt I’d probably done something stupid to embarrass her the night before.

“Who in the hell let me drink that much last night?”

America’s face screwed into disgust. “You did. You went and bought a fifth after Abby left with Parker, and killed the whole thing by the time she got back.”

Bits of memories came back to me in scrambled pieces. Abby left with Parker. I was depressed. Liquor store stop with America.

“Damn,” I said, shaking my head. “Did you have fun?” I asked Abby.

Her cheeks flushed red.

Oh, shit. It must have been worse than I thought.

“Are you serious?” she asked.

“What?” I asked, but the second the word came out, I’d regretted it.

America giggled, clearly amazed at my memory loss. “You pulled her out of Parker’s car, seeing red when you caught them making out like high schoolers. They fogged up the windows and everything!”

I pushed my memory as far as it would go into the evening. The making out didn’t ring a bell, but the jealousy did.

Abby looked like she was about to blow her top, and I recoiled from her glare.

“How pissed are you?” I asked, waiting for a high-pitched explosion to infiltrate my already throbbing head.

Abby stomped to the bedroom, and I followed her, closing the door softly behind us.

Abby turned. Her expression was different from what I’d seen before. I wasn’t sure how to read it. “Do you remember anything you said to me last night?” she asked.

“No. Why? Was I mean to you?”

“No you weren’t mean to me! You . . . we . . .” She covered her eyes with her hands.

When her hand went up, a new, shimmering piece of jewelry fell from her wrist to her forearm, catching my eye. “Where’d this come from?” I asked, wrapping my fingers around her wrist.

“It’s mine,” she said, pulling away.

“I’ve never seen it before. It looks new.”

“It is.”

“Where’d you get it?”

“Parker gave it to me about fifteen minutes ago,” she said.

Rage welled up within me. The I-need-to-punch-something-before-I’ll-feel-better kind. “What the fuck was that douche bag doing here? Did he stay the night?”

She crossed her arms, unfazed. “He went shopping for my birthday present this morning and brought it by.”

“It’s not your birthday, yet.” My anger was boiling over, but the fact that she wasn’t at all intimidated helped me to keep it in check.

“He couldn’t wait,” she said, lifting her chin.

“No wonder I had to drag your ass out of his car, sounds like you were . . .” I trailed off, pressing my lips together to keep the rest from coming out. Not a good time to vomit words out of my mouth I couldn’t take back.

“What? Sounds like I was what?”

I grit my teeth. “Nothing. I’m just pissed off, and I was going to say something shitty that I didn’t mean.”

“It’s never stopped you before.”

“I know. I’m working on it,” I said, walking to the door. “I’ll let you get dressed.”

When I reached for the knob, a pain shot from my elbow up my arm. I touched it, and it was tender. Lifting it revealed what I’d suspected: a fresh bruise. My mind raced to figure out what could have caused it, and I recalled Abby telling me she was a virgin, me falling, and laughing, and then Abby helping me to get undressed . . . and then I . . . Oh, God.

“I fell on the stairs last night. And you helped me to bed . . . We,” I said, taking a step toward her. The memory of me crashing against her while she stood in front of the closet half naked rushed into my mind.

I had almost fucked her, taken her virginity when I was drunk. The thought of what might have happened made me feel ashamed for the first time since . . . ever.

“No we didn’t. Nothing happened,” she said, emphatically shaking her head.

I cringed. “You fog up Parker’s windows, I pull you out of the car, and then I try to . . .” I tried to shake the memory out of my head. It was sickening. Thankfully, even in my drunken stupor, I’d stopped, but what if I hadn’t? Abby didn’t deserve for her first time to be like that with anyone, least of all me. Wow. For a while there, I’d really thought I had changed. It only took a bottle of whiskey and the mention of the word virgin for me to return to my dick ways.

I turned for the door and grabbed the knob. “You’re turning me into a fucking psycho, Pigeon,” I growled over my shoulder. “I don’t think straight when I’m around you.”

“So it’s my fault?”

I turned. My eyes fell from her face to her robe, to her legs, and then her feet, returning to her eyes. “I don’t know. My memory is a little hazy . . . but I don’t recall you saying no.”

She took a step forward. At first she looked ready to pounce, but her face softened, and her shoulders fell. “What do you want me to say, Travis?”

I glanced at the bracelet, and then back at her. “You were hoping I wouldn’t remember?”

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