The bed squeaks above me.
I look at Falkor.
He looks at me.
I took a break from mowing and came inside to cool off, but knowing Ashtyn and her boyfriend are upstairs fooling around is making me nauseous. “Tell me why I have the urge to go up there and kick her boyfriend out of the house?”
Falkor picks his head up as if he’s going to answer, but instead starts humping one of his stuffed toys.
“You need a girlfriend,” I tell the dog. He looks at me with his droopy gray eyes, then cocks his head to the side. I can imagine him saying “You’re just jealous.”
When her boyfriend kissed her outside, I didn’t miss the silent “fuck you, she’s mine” vibe he sent me. Ashtyn is oblivious. The guy obviously thinks he’s God’s gift to the universe, with his black Corvette convertible and dark sunglasses he doesn’t even take off when he’s kissing her. That’s like keeping your socks on when you’re having sex—complete douche move. I’m surprised Ashtyn fell for that kind of guy, whose car is an extension of his dick.
Why I feel protective of Ashtyn is beyond me. The girl can take care of herself and doesn’t need me to protect her virtue.
The bed above squeaks again. Shit, I can’t listen to this and stay sane.
I head back to the yard, ready for round two. I turn on the mower and listen to music.
Hearing that squeaky bed, knowing that dude is touching her, makes me want to punch him. I’ve got no right to feel this way, which sucks even more.
After pushing the mower through a patch of overgrown weeds, I look at her bedroom window. I don’t know what’s up with me. I’m not into girls like Ashtyn. She’s not my type. I like girls who just want a good time and don’t take life too seriously. So why do I keep thinking about what it would be like to kiss her and feel her hands on me?
After Landon leaves and Ashtyn is about to walk back to the house after kissing him good-bye, I take my earbuds out. “Please tell me you didn’t get back together with him,” I call out from across the yard.
She eyes me up and down. “Pull your pants up. They’re sagging. I can see your underwear.”
The girl is a master at avoiding the subject. “I mean, seriously, who wears sunglasses when they kiss a girl?”
“Who I date and how I kiss is really none of your business.”
Damn. I shake my head and step closer. “You know when a guy is bullshittin’ you, don’t ya?”
She gives an impatient eye roll. “You should know, right?”
“Absolutely.” I’m standing in front of her now. I lift her chin with my thumb and forefinger until our eyes lock. Damn, she’s beautiful. Every time I catch her looking at me, it’s hard to look away. Now isn’t any different. “A guy is bullshittin’ you when he doesn’t look you in the eye,” I say.
She breaks eye contact. “Stop.”
“Making me question my relationship with Landon. I can do that without your help, thank you very much.” She swats my hand away and storms into the house.
That was interesting. I’m about to go after her when my cell rings. It’s Ashtyn’s friend Bree.
“Hey,” Bree says when I answer. “I was just wondering if you wanted to go out Saturday night?”
“I think it would be cool if we got to know each other better. You know, because you’ll need someone to show you the ropes at school. Ashtyn’s kind of preoccupied with Landon and football. I can fill in the gaps.”
The gaps. There’s so many fucking gaps in my life it’s comical. I’ve got to start making changes right now, because if I keep going on the same path I’m liable to go insane.
“Yeah,” I tell her, knowing I’ve got to fill in those gaps sooner rather than later. Avoiding Ashtyn is what I need to do to keep me sane. “Sounds great.”
Parties in Fremont are legendary, especially when they’re at Jet’s house. His dads are out of town for the weekend, so he’s throwing the first bash of the summer. Landon picked me up. I’m determined to make things right between us.
Landon takes my hand as we walk through the door. Jet is sitting in the living room playing a drinking game he made up called Fact or BS. I’ve played it before. One thing about playing Fact or BS—someone is going to be completely wasted by the end of the night.
Jet motions for us to join them. It’s obvious they started playing a while ago, because Jet’s eyes are bloodshot and Vic is smiling like he doesn’t have a care in the world. Vic hardly ever smiles. He’s always brooding and pissed that his dad runs his life.
Jet moves over so we can sit next to him. “Yo, Ashtyn. Fact or BS . . .”
“I’m not playing, Jet,” I say. The last time we played, Jet got so drunk he started puking all over the place. We thought he had alcohol poisoning.
“C’mon, Capt’n, don’t be such a party pooper. Fact or BS . . . Monika and I hooked up in seventh grade.”
I look over at Monika and Trey. She’s sitting on his lap with her arms wrapped around his neck.
That’s an easy one. “That’d be bullshit.”
“That’s right,” Monika says proudly. “I’m not into pasty white guys. I like my men as dark as I like my chocolate. Right, baby?”
Trey kisses her. “That’s right.”
“That’s just because you’ve never been with a pasty white guy,” Jet says jokingly, making Trey roll his eyes and Monika laugh.
Jet takes a shot as a bunch of girls from school walk in. Including Bree, who’s wearing a black off-the-shoulder minidress that barely covers her . . .
“Damn! Bree is definitely looking for some action tonight,” Jet says under his breath and gives a low whistle.
Derek walks in. Bree looks back at him and smiles, then takes his elbow and leads him to sit with us.
“Hey, guys!” she says, completely excited to have Derek as her date. I don’t miss the stares from everyone else interested in finding out more about the new guy on her arm. Derek didn’t tell me he was coming here tonight. He was holed up in his room and hadn’t given me a clue that he was going out with Bree.
“Derek’s a Fact or BS virgin,” Landon says. “I think we need to de-virginize him.”
Jet nods in agreement.
“I don’t think so,” I protest.
“We’re playing a little drinking game we call Fact or BS. You up for it, Derek?” Landon asks, ignoring me.
I nudge my boyfriend and give him an angry glare. “Landon, don’t.”
“What?” Landon gestures to Derek. “You want to play, don’t you? I mean, if you don’t think you can handle it . . .”
“Hit me with it,” Derek says without hesitation as if Landon is challenging his manhood.
“Here are the rules,” Landon says. “First, you have to take a shot. They’re only spiked Jell-O shots. Then you have to answer without thinking.”
Derek nods. He has no clue the shot has more vodka than Jell-O.
“I sling a question at you,” Landon explains further. “Then you sling a question at me. For every answer you think is a fact, you take another shot. For every answer that you hesitate on, you take another shot. If you think my answer is BS, you say ‘BS’—and if you’re right, you don’t have to take another shot. I can challenge you on the BS call, and the group takes a vote. Majority rules.”
“Fair enough,” Derek says, not the least bit intimidated. I don’t tell him that usually you only have to drink if you hesitate, and you don’t have to take a shot beforehand, but Landon seems to be making up his own rules tonight.
Two bucks going head-to-head isn’t going to end well. I need to stop this game before it starts. “Landon, don’t do this.”
“It’s cool, Ash,” Derek says. “I got this.”
Bree weaves her arm through Derek’s. “Let them play, Ash. Don’t be a party pooper.”
I should get up and refuse to watch the disaster about to happen, but Landon has one arm wrapped around my waist and urges me to stay.
Derek and Landon each down a shot. I predict they’re both going to have one hell of a hangover in the morning and I’m not happy.
Landon clears his throat. “Fact or BS. You trim your ball sac.”
Derek doesn’t break eye contact with Landon as he picks up a shot glass and downs it in one gulp.
Derek leans forward. “You hate that Ashtyn got voted captain.”
Derek shakes his head at Landon’s answer. “You’re lyin’. I call BS on your BS.”
“That’s not part of the game. Fact or BS, you hate living in Fremont.”
Derek takes another shot, then fires his own question. “Everyone thinks you’re a dick.”
Landon takes a shot.
“Fact or BS . . . you’ve jerked off to thoughts of my girlfriend.”
“Landon!” I cry.
“What?” Landon puts his hands up, like he’s completely innocent. “We’re just playing a game.”
Derek doesn’t answer or look at me.
“I’ll bet that’s fact,” Trey mumbles under his breath.
“You want to go there?” Derek asks Landon, all fired up now. “You really want to get personal like that?”
“Yeah, let’s go there.”
Derek downs another shot. “You’re fucking around with some chick behind Ashtyn’s back.”
What’s going on? This is completely screwed up, and I’m caught in the middle. Landon is pissed and rushes to his feet. Derek did not just say what I think he just said. It’s a complete lie but now everyone is looking at us.
“Stop!” I yell, but nobody’s listening. I give Jet and Vic pleading looks, but Vic is out of it and Jet is too amused to stop this.
“Take a shot,” Derek says, seemingly content with himself. “You hesitated.”
Landon narrows his eyes as he picks up the shot glass and downs it, then slams the glass on the table. Landon does not like being bested, and there’s about to be a showdown.
“Ashtyn’s mine, you know,” Landon says.
“That’s what you think,” Derek shoots back. “You’re not the one shackin’ up with her every night.”
Derek swallows. And glances at me. His lies feel like a hard slap in the face. My face feels hot and the rest of my body feels numb. He didn’t just say that.
I push past him and run out of the house.
“Ashtyn, wait!” I call out as I leave the house and rush after her.
She’s walking down the street.
“My life isn’t a game, Derek.”
“I didn’t say it was.” I feel the slight slur of my words as the alcohol hits my system. My thoughts are clear for the moment, though. If anyone’s not thinking clearly, it’s Ashtyn. She’d even left her jacket behind, but I grabbed it. “What are you blamin’ me for? Landon made me play the stupid game. It didn’t even make sense.”