Lo kicks his feet on the empty chair below while I feverishly take notes on my laptop, my fingers pounding against the keys. After a few minutes, I feel note-fatigue. It happens. So I pop up another window and search my favorite sites.
My eyes widen in glee. KinkyMe.net just uploaded a video featuring a pro soccer player (a p*rn star) and a fan (another p*rn star) in sultry positions. I tilt my head as he caresses her neck and takes her in the gym shower. Ooh, steamy.
The footage rolls on mute, of course, but my breathing shallows as his muscles enclose the fan-girl into the corner, trapping her beside the hot, wet tiles.
Laughing erupts, and my head shoots up from the computer, my face flaming in retaliation.
No one stares at me.
In fact, eyes plant on the professor. He makes another joke about Ke$ha and glitter, a humorous digression. I swallow, okay, my mind is playing tricks on me. I minimize the p*rn and expand my notes again.
Lo gnaws on the end of his pen, not aware of the students or the professor. He reads the latest X-men comic on his iPad and nurses a thermos in his other hand.
“You’re not borrowing my notes,” I remind him in a whisper.
“I don’t want them.” He takes a large swig of his alcoholic beverage. I think I saw him concocting an orange, lemon and whiskey mix this morning, something nauseating.
My brows scrunch. “How do you plan on studying?”
“I’ll wing it.”
That’s what he always says. I hope he fails. No, I don’t. Yes, I do. Sort of. While I’m saddled with anxiety, he leisurely relaxes in his seat.
“You really want to piss off your father?” I ask. At last week’s luncheon, Daisy told me his father took Lo aside and laid into him about grades and being safer with me. She said she saw “spit fly,” which could be entirely true. I’ve seen Jonathan Hale grab the back of Lo’s neck like a pup, pinching so hard that Lo squirmed in pain until his father released the hold. I don’t think he realized the amount of strength he was using or the hurt in Lo’s eyes.
“He’ll find something to be angry about, Lil,” he whispers. “If it’s not school or you, it’s my future and Hale Co. He can’t send me to f**king boot camp if I flunk, not when I’m an adult. So what is he going to do to me? Take away my trust fund? Then how will I support my future wife?”
I can’t see that future. The one where our lies go as far as marriage. And by his bitter tone, I doubt he pictures it too. I lick my dry lips and return my attention back to the professor. I’ve missed a good chunk of information with that one conversation, and I don’t have any friends in the class to ask for notes. I start typing hurriedly again.
After a couple minutes, Lo sighs in boredom and nudges my side. “Have you had sex with anyone in this room?”
“Why do you care?” I try to multi-task and concentrate on the lecture too. The little tab at the bottom of my screen also distracts: Pro Pleasures Fan, Watch Full Video HERE.
“I’m about to fall asleep.”
Huh? I concentrate on highlighting a line in my notes. “Then why’d you even come?”
“Attendance counts ten percent. I can actually control that part.” He leans his shoulder into me, his warmth entering my space, his hard bicep on my soft. A breath dies in my chest. “You didn’t answer my question.”
My eyes dart around the hundred bodies compacted into the auditorium-styled room. I land on a short guy with a fedora, brown hair peeking beneath. Two years ago. His apartment. Missionary. I spot another with nearly black hair tied into a tiny pony. Five months ago. His beat up VW. Reverse cow-girl. The moments bleed into my brain, replaying. My heart quickens at the images, but my stomach sinks at the answer to Lo’s question. In a hundred person class, I at least slept with two guys. What does that say about me? Slut, whore. I hear the condemnation.
Yet, I glance back at that little tab on my computer, my chest fluttering in excitement.
“So?” Lo presses.
“I don’t know,” I lie.
An eyebrow quirks. “You don’t know?” Before I can unmask his expression, he smiles with that familiar bitter amusement. “That’s hilarious.”
“You need to get laid,” I shoot back. Think about your nonexistent sex life for a change.
“And you need a drink.”
“You started it.”
I bang on my keys and he edges out of my space, the weight of his arm gone. The warmth replaced by cold. I inhale strongly and try not to think about the emptiness in my belly or the spot between my legs.
My finger slips, hitting a random button.
“Ahhh, baby, right there, right THERE!”
The entire room goes silent. And heads turn to the back, towards the source of the sexual noises, towards me.
Oh my God. My p*rn stays in the tab, but the sound heightens as the pro-athlete reaches his cli**x. Her moans. His groans. I click buttons as fast as my finger will allow, but my computer expands the p*rn window and says Not Responding every time I try to exit out.
Lo presses his knuckles to his lips, trying desperately to hide his grin.
“Take me in the ass. Please, please!!! Ahhh!” the girl cries.
RESPOND!!! I internally shriek. No, my computer has decided to rebel against human intelligence. So I slam the screen shut and close my eyes, praying for my teleportation power to kick in. I know it exists.
I bury my head in my arms. Finally, the noise dies off, leaving the lecture hall in dead, awkward silence. I peek up from my arm-fort.
“I have a virus,” I mumble and cringe, too embarrassed to rephrase it to my computer has a virus.
The professor’s dark eyebrows draw into a hard line, not pleased at all. “See me after class.”
People steal glances back at us, and the exposure sends my skin into red disgrace.
Lo leans in again, but his masculine presence no longer tempts me. I feel like I’ve been electrocuted. “I didn’t know you watched anal porn.”
He tries to cheer me up with the words, but I can’t even laugh. An army of fire ants just crawled across my body. “I’m dead,” I mutter, and a horrifying thought hits me. “What if my parents find out?”
“This isn’t high school, Lil.”
The words don’t make me feel much better. I stare at my palms and retreat inside myself. My shoulders curving forward, my head slightly bent.
“Hey.” Lo gently turns my chin to meet his gaze, one full of understanding, narrowed with empathy. I begin to relax. “He’s not going to call your parents. You’re an adult.”
It’s hard to remember that when my parents cling to my future with such diligence and force.
“How often do you do it in the ass?” Lo banters with a crooked grin.
I groan and bury my head into my arms once again, but my lips upturn in a small smile. I hide that as well.
After another half hour of fearing my computer and producing paper notes at a snail’s pace, the class ends. People take the opportunity to glance my way as they stand to leave, like they want a full mental picture of The Girl Who Watches Porn (In Class).
I rise and my hands shake by my sides. Lo passes me my backpack, and I sling it over my shoulder. His palm spindles across my waist, for a brief second, as he says, “I’ll see you later. Maybe we can grab lunch during your break.”
I nod, and he pulls away, leaving me to wonder whether that was real or fake. Whether he meant to really touch my hip or if it was an unconscious movement, trained from all these years of pretending.
The scary part, I almost hoped it was real.
I watch him disappear with an old JanSport backpack, nearly empty. No notebooks. No pens. No computer. Just an iPad, a phone and a thermos in his possession. He walks without worry or care, tapping the height of the doorframe on his way out. Something about his self-assured nature, his unhurriedness, mesmerizes me.
I break out of my trance. The professor stands at his podium, waiting for me.
“Your name?” he asks again, just as tersely. He slides his laptop into his briefcase. Students for the next period begin to filter in, and their instructor starts erasing the whiteboard that’s scrawled with economics problems.
I near the podium. “Lily Calloway.”
“Lily,” he says dryly, taking his briefcase from the table. “If you can’t bring a clean computer to class, then you need to take notes with a pen and paper. Next time this happens, I’ll be enforcing this on everyone. You don’t want to be the girl who ruins this privilege for the whole class.” No, I do not. I only have one friend, already isolated as it is, but that doesn’t mean I want to make any enemies.
“I’m sorry,” I say.
He nods and walks off without another word.
* * *
The clock ticks past midnight by the time I trudge into the Drake’s lobby, my heels clapping on the creamy marble floors. My muscles ache from being wedged in a coat closet at the ballet theatre. I stayed seated beside Rose and Poppy for a total of ten minutes. Then I disappeared in search of a guy who eyed me at the ticket booth. After the hookup, I returned to my seat and they hardly noticed that I bailed on our planned sister-time. I spent the rest of the ballet imagining the male dancers with me—taking them home after the show ended. And when the curtains closed, a huge part of me wanted to go find one, but I was with my sisters. I was sitting with them, thinking about sex. I was an idiot.
I enter the golden elevator and press the highest number, my back aching. Did he have to slam me into the hangers?
Before the elevator closes, a man rushes in, slipping his fingers between the doors. They bounce back at his touch.
He pants heavily, out of breath, and I watch as he runs a hand through his thick brown hair. He presses the button to the floor below mine, and the elevator rises.
I check for a ring. None. His charcoal suit looks expensive, his gold watch validating my suspicions. Late twenties, early thirties. Lawyer, I predict. But I don’t care much about it. Not when the shape of his body appears to be hard, toned and powerful.
This is the easy part. Not knowing him. Letting my passions consume me for a single instant. This is what I do best. As my confidence soars, I shut my eyes, inhaling a deep, thoughtful breath.
With his hot gaze, he skims the length of my bare legs that peek beneath an elegant white, backless dress. I slowly peel off my black coat and shift suggestively. He has a view of the very small of my back, the part bare and eager to be taken hold of.
I rest a hand on the elevator wall, my breath low and strained. And his body slides against me, those large palms on my slender hips. I lower one to my thigh, to the place between my legs. And he grows. A sound sticks to my throat, and I keep my hands on the wall. He finds his way into me. Yes.
His fingers tighten around my waist, cinching my dress, pulling it higher. One of his hands holds my shoulder to drive deeper. And with one last thrust—
My eyes snap open, and I turn bright red from the fantasy I created. That guy has no idea that I pictured him unchastely with me. I stand by the wall, my hands bunched in my coat pockets, holding in that strained breath.