Preview

Sneak Peek …

Siding with Plato Brooke was awoken by birds chirping and opened her eyes enough to see it was light out. She didn’t understand how it could be morning, but another observation had her more puzzled. Why was she outside? She looked down, and as her eyes focused, she saw a giant “W” under her face—with a puddle of drool. Where was she? She heard distant voices that seemed to be getting closer. She leaned up to see she was lying on a welcome mat.

There was a man’s voice she didn’t recognize, then a woman’s, then… Oh shit! She popped onto her hands and knees. She was lying on James’s doorstep.

How the hell did she get there? She ran down the steps as quietly as possible, barely keeping her balance, and ran to the parking lot, pulling her phone out of her purse—53 missed calls. That had to be some kind of record. She called Stella. Pick up, pick up, pick up, she thought.

“Brooke!”

“Oh my god, come get me! I’m at James’s. Hurry, please!”

“Okay, we’re coming!”

Brooke walked to the entrance of the complex so she could jump right in and get out of there as fast as possible. She paced back and forth for what felt like forever, staring at the entrance, then the apartments, then the entrance, then the apartments again. Just as she was looking in that direction, she saw a black Range Rover turn the corner. It was James’s car, most likely with his parents in the car too.

She needed cover. On her left, she saw a cactus and wondered for a second if hiding behind it would work like it did in cartoons. She ruled it out immediately, spotted some bushes on the right, and debated whether she could make it there in time. In full panic mode, she ran and flung herself into the bushes and crouched as low as she could. She didn’t know if it was in her imagination, but it felt like an eternity before the car exited and turned onto the main road. She stayed there a few more minutes until she finally saw the girls pull in. She jumped in the car, buckled up, and didn’t say a word. They all stared silently at her until Kate picked a twig out of Brooke’s hair.

“I need pancakes,” Brooke said. “Right now.”

“So,” Brooke said calmly after swallowing her first bite of pancake and setting her fork down on their usual table at Kerby Lane, “who would like to tell me what the fuck went down last night?”

The girls looked at each other and started to explain.

Kate: “Well, it all started off innocently enough.”

Stella: “But by the time we got to the bar, you’d already had about six shots.”

Darci: “You seemed fine and like you were having fun. You were dancing with everyone. Literally everyone.”

Kate: “But then you kind of took a turn after shot number eleven.”

Brooke: “I was still saying his name after ten shots?”

Stella: “No, these ones were your choice.”

Kate: “You also might want to check your bank statements. You bought shots for a lot of people.”

Brooke: “Um, I’m broke, so why would I buy shots for people? Oh my god, I’m so screwed. I was supposed to pay for that ticket. Ugh, at least I’m a nice drunk.”

Stella: “Yeah. For a while.”

Darci: “Then you flashed a guy and asked him for a hickey because you said you were trying to make some guy jealous.”

Brooke gasped and clasped her hand over her neck. She pulled out her compact of her purse and screamed when she saw it was true.

Brooke: “No! I was slutty drunk?”

Stella: “Totally.”

Brooke: “Tell me that’s the worst of it.”

Kate: “It’s not.”

Darci: “Then came angry drunk.”

Brooke: “Oh no.”

Stella: “Oh yes. You yelled at a guy who I guess didn’t want to buy you a drink because he thought you’d had enough and…”

Darci: “And you went Kanye on his ass.”

Brooke: “I-stole-his-thank-you-speech moment?

Stella: “No. Eh em, and I quote, ‘There’s a thousand youz; there’s only one of me.’”

Brooke: “Oh god. I rapped at him?”

Darci: “You totally did, hand motions and all. I have a video on my phone, actually. It’s amazing.”

Brooke: “Well, misdirected as that was, at least I haven’t lost sight of my value.”

Stella: “And then you tried to punch his friend in the face because he called you crazy.”

Brooke: “Oh shit.”

Kate: “You missed and hit Sophie.”

Brooke: “Sophie was there?”

Stella: “We called for backup.”

Brooke: “And I punched her?”

Darci: “She’s totally okay, though! At this point you were only a danger to yourself.”

Brooke: “Tell me the story is over soon.”

Kate: “And then we lost you.”

Brooke: “How do you lose me? I am a human being!”

Stella: “Well the guys you were bitching out were actually pretty cute, so Darci and I started talking to them, you know, just to make sure they weren’t mad at you or anything, and Kate took Sophie to the bathroom to make sure her face was okay, and…”

Kate: “We do know that you made a phone call at 12:48 a.m.”

Brooke: “Please tell me it wasn’t to James.”

Darci: “Shot! Oh. Sorry, it’s a habit now.”

Brooke glared at her.

Stella: “No, you called Kyle.”

Brooke: “Why would I call Kyle?”

Darci: “Because you wanted a ride and you knew you weren’t going to get one from us. The guys came and picked you up, but we didn’t know.”

Brooke: “So they dropped me off on James’s doorstep and drove off?”

Stella: “No, they didn’t actually get out of the car. They just watched you walk up the stairs… which took thirteen whole minutes.”

Brooke: “Thirteen minutes? It’s like ten steps.”

Darci: “They have it on video. I saw some of it. It’s actually pretty hilarious.”

Brooke: “Nobody helped me? Not one of them got out of the car and thought to help me? What gentlemen. I could have died.”

Stella: “Well you made it to the top eventually, so they left.”

Kate: “We looked for you until the club closed, so we figured you must have hopped in a cab and gone back to the dorms.”

Darci: “When we saw you weren’t in your room, we ran all through the building and finally ran into the guys who told us where you were.”

Stella: “And while we were very disappointed in you for going there, we figured you’d at least be safe inside James’s place.”

Brooke: “Nope, never made it inside. I slept on a doormat.”

Kate: “What?”

Stella: “Wait, so he never even knew you were there?”

Kate: “That’s great! You totally lucked out.”

Brooke: “Yes, last night was a big success for me. Oh my god, I have officially gone off the deep end.”

Darci: “Yeah, in my professional opinion as a psychologist, you might actually be crazy.”

Brooke: “No! You have no professional opinion because you are not a professional anything. You are an undeclared clown- fucker who is forever banned from experimenting with my brain!”

Darci: “Ouch. Someone woke up on the wrong side of the door this morning.” Darci elbowed Kate to get her to laugh, but Kate just shook her head.

Brooke’s phone buzzed, and she looked down to see a text from some 212 area code she didn’t recognize. Clearly she’d given her number out too. She deleted the text without reading it and rested her head on the table with a thud.

They went back to the dorms after breakfast, but as Brooke was walking back to her room to sleep off her hangover, she passed the guys’ room and heard them laughing. Remembering they’d left her to fend for herself on the staircase of death, she kicked open the door and saw them watching a video on Garrett’s phone.

“I’m sorry, Brooke,” Bryan said. “I just can’t get enough of this.” They were watching the video of her trying to get up the stairs again. Suddenly all the anger she had for James, for them, for their stupid, rumor-spreading frat brother, and for every single person in the world who had ever wronged her just came bursting out. She started screaming at them for being such assholes, telling them what real gentlemen were like, and listing every grievance she had with the male gender.

She went on and on and on. Kyle tried to interject a few times, which only made her yell louder, so they sat back and waited for her to finish. She finally stopped to catch her breath, and Kyle raised his hand. She pointed to him and said, “What?”

“It’s just that,” he hesitated, “one of your boobs popped out of your shirt a few minutes ago, and we’ve all been staring at it ever since.” She looked down. Yup, there was it was. The last piece of her dignity. She straightened her shirt out, took a deep breath, and turned to leave. Behind her, she heard Bryan say, “You got that on video right?”

“Oh yeah,” Garrett confirmed as he got up, grabbed a pencil, and made another tally on his wall.

Brooke walked into her room, took her wallet out of her purse, pulled out a $5 bill, crossed the room, and dropped it in the curse-word jar. Then she picked up her pillow, put it over her face, and screamed every last penny of it out.

Continued…