“I’m next,” Ryke says, watching with a hard gaze as Julian guides Daisy into the living room.
Julian has his hands on her hips, whispering in her ear and forcing her back towards his chest. Even drunk, she looks mildly uncomfortable to be in his arms while in our presence. And it shows as she squirms out of his hold. She smiles at him and places a chaste kiss on his cheek to make up for it.
He doesn’t let her off the hook. He literally grabs her face in two hands and plunges his tongue in her mouth.
“Hey, Julius, sit the f**k down,” Loren snaps. Thank you, Loren.
I don’t ask why Loren just mispronounced Julian’s name. Everyone knows Lo’s favorite comic book character is Julian Keller from X-Men, and Lo has declared (to the entire townhouse) that Daisy’s boyfriend doesn’t deserve to share the same name as him.
Daisy puts her hands on Julian’s chest and breaks apart from him. Then she settles in her seat beside Ryke, Julian slouching on the other side of her. She sits up on the edge of the cushion so he can’t wrap his arm around her shoulder.
Connor’s lips brush my ear. “She’s okay. Lo and Ryke have an eye on him.”
I nod, realizing that I can’t fixate on my little sister all night, even though I see how much she just wants to push Julian into the snow and leave him there. But she’s not rude enough to do that.
I most definitely would.
“Ryke,” Scott urges. “Go.”
Ryke scratches his jaw. “Never have I ever…faked an orgasm.”
“That’s just mean,” Daisy says, reaching for a full shot.
“Maybe you shouldn’t have done it then,” he retorts.
“And hurt the guy’s feelings?”
Scott motions from the shots to me and I shake my head. I’ve had no reason to fake an orgasm with Connor. And he’s the only guy I’ve ever been with.
Connor holds me closer, and he leans forward and grabs the shot. I glare at him as he brings it to his lips. “Not with you,” he tells me. I’m not even sure how a guy can fake an orgasm, but he’s creative enough that I wouldn’t doubt him doing it for personal gain.
“That’s what they all say,” Scott adds like a five-year-old.
Ugh. His interjection immediately makes me side with Connor, believing my boyfriend more.
“I hate this game,” Lily complains, the only other person who lost this round. She looks down at her available clothes to remove.
“Really?” Ryke says. “You’re a sex addict. I honestly didn’t think you’d need to fake an orgasm.” He must have been trying to help her out.
“Not all guys are created like Loren Hale.”
“Jealous,” Daisy says.
Julian’s lips part in disbelief as he watches her.
“What, I never faked with you,” she lies easily and pecks him lightly on the cheek. She whispers something in his ear that relaxes his shoulders. She’s good at pleasing “people,” so I’m not surprised that skill has translated over to pleasing “boyfriends.”
“Here,” Loren says, grabbing a plaid flannel blanket off the large recliner he shares with Lily. He wraps it around her shoulders and cloaks her body from view. “Take off your sweater.”
“That’s breaking the rules,” Scott informs him from a rocking chair nearest the coffee table.
Loren glares. “Yeah, and maybe I’d abide by them if there wasn’t a goddamn camera in our faces.” He doesn’t want the world to see Lily in her underwear. None of us really do. There’s already enough sick fan mail sent to the house. It’s easy to assume what men would do to a near-naked image of her.
Lily skillfully pulls the sweater off from underneath the blanket and tosses it to the floor. She looks more at ease.
“Rose, it’s your turn,” Scott says.
“Never have I ever…peed in a sink.” Easy.
All the guys take a shot, except Ryke and Lo who strip. Ryke removes his shirt, and Lo pulls off an arrowhead necklace.
And then Daisy reaches for another shot.
Both Ryke and Julian freeze and stare at her with raised brows while Connor and Lo try to contain their laughter. The booze is making my lips upturn more often than usual too.
“What?” She shrugs and throws the shot back, coughing a little as she sets the glass on the table.
“Explain,” Ryke says, handing her a shot of orange juice to chase the alcohol with.
She mouths, Thank you, before drinking that too. “I was at a party in New York,” she says, setting the glass down, “and I had to go badly but my friend was using the toilet. So I used the sink.” She touches her chest and hiccups. “I’m not weird.” She hiccups again. “You all did it.”
“We have dicks,” Ryke says bluntly.
“True.” She smiles.
I rest my head on Connor’s shoulder, the alcohol loosening my inhibitions that stay locked tight in front of others. He smells so good—his expensive cologne like citrus. “I love fruit,” I whisper to him. I imagine myself placing a kiss on his neck, but moving to do so sounds like so much work.
He stares at me with a growing smile. “I’ll keep that in mind, darling.”
“Never have I ever…been engaged,” Julian says, a cheap shot at Lily and Loren.
Lo glares at him while he pulls off his black long-sleeve shirt, and Lily wiggles off her pajama pants underneath the blanket.
Connor says, “Never have I ever…been cheated on.”
No one moves. And Scott blinks at Connor like he’s the devil incarnate, drama-blocking him.
My boyfriend just smiles. “Perfect.”
Scott prods Ben to say one from the kitchen. With a mouthful of chips, he says, “Never have I ever snorted coke.”
Lily sighs. “I hate this game.” Before she goes for her panties, she touches her hair and smiles, revealing a hidden bobby pin.
Lo strips down to his boxer-briefs, and Lily’s eyes gleam in excitement at seeing him almost nak*d. He shakes his head at her, but he can’t stop smiling.
In a wave, everyone takes shots. Scott, then Julian, then Daisy. And Ryke unclips his watch. Both Connor and I stay seated. I’m not surprised that almost everyone has experimented with drugs, but I’ve never had the urge to try out coc**ne. And if someone peer pressured me, I’d say no, no. No. I really have no problem looking like the stuck-up prude in the room who refuses to blow a line with her friends. Hate me all you want. I’m not the one running around nak*d with dilated pupils.
Loren frowns at Connor. “You really haven’t snorted coke? Not even once?”
“I have a rule about drugs.”
“And what’s that?”
“Don’t do them.” He grins. “My body is a temple.”
“One that only Rose can enter,” Loren banters.
“I’ll let you in sometime, darling. Don’t worry.”
I roll my eyes, but I’m actually smiling at their “bromance” that has been heavily praised on blogs. People only like Connor when he’s with Loren. It’s weird. And I really don’t need another reason to be annoyed by Loren Hale, so I’ve let it go. Brushed it off the shoulder. Like dust.
Okay, I think I’m getting drunk.
Lo’s laugh fades quickly, and he stares off in thought. Since the screening party, he does this often. Just ending their quips with a silent, faraway gaze. As though remembering he’s supposed to be in a fight with Connor.
Ten minutes later, I have gained a serious buzz and we’ve reached Scott one last time. I verge on my limit, so I’m hoping he’s choosing a girl-friendly response. “Never have I ever…” His gaze pings from each of my sisters to me. “…swallowed a guy’s cum.”
“Fuck you,” Lo says, defending the three of us who Scott has been singling out the whole game.
Daisy’s eyelids droop a little as she reaches for her shot. She knocks over two more.
Ryke leans forward and cleans her mess. “You can skip this one, Dais.”
“She can handle it,” Julian says, grabbing a shot for her. “Here you go, baby.” He passes the glass to her. She downs it (messily) before Ryke can steal it from her hand.
Lily is now nak*d underneath the blanket, so the game is over.
And I quickly do a shot, the liquor sliding down my throat easily since I’m feeling good. But not bad yet. Anymore and it’d be a different story.
But Daisy has most definitely exceeded her limit. She’s gone, but as Connor and I watch her, she does something really interesting.
Right as Julian nears her a little, Daisy stands, teetering, and she sits on the other side of Ryke, away from her “boyfriend.” She whispers something to him that sounds like a slurred mess. But he nods like he understands.
And I realize, in this moment, how much she trusts Ryke to protect her—even from her own boyfriend.
Julian reddens in aggravation. But I have no verbal hostility in my throat to chastise him. Alcohol has softened me into a gooey state. I like it once in a while.
We try to ignore Julian’s silent rage, and a few minutes later, we’re on our electronic tablets, scrolling through gossip blogs for Princesses of Philly and trying to find the funniest comments.
Lily squirms on Loren’s lap, having trouble controlling her urges while she’s nak*d underneath the flannel. Loren tightens his arms around her waist and she stops moving.
Connor’s hand descends down my thigh of my long black cotton dress. The fabric is thin, and I can feel his fingers near a spot that truly begs for him. My lips touch his shoulder, and my eyes flit up to meet his, full of intense desire.
His expression matches mine, and I feel the wetness soak my panties.
He says under his breath, “I’m going to f**k you hard, Rose.” He strokes my head and leans me to his chest. “So hard that you’re not going to be able to walk in the morning.” Why does that sound so good?
I touch his microphone battery pack for a second, realizing that the cameras caught that. But they probably won’t air it anyway. It’s too dirty for network television.
I glance back to the group and notice that Daisy has passed out, her head resting on Ryke’s lap. Julian watches her, but he makes no move to grab her from Ryke yet. I want her to stay with Lo’s brother. I trust Daisy’s judgment, even drunk, and she just chose him.
Connor flips open his tablet, and he scrolls through long lists. I read from his screen as he holds it up to us. The words keep blurring together the longer the alcohol sets in.
“Here’s one,” Loren says. “Ryke Meadows is the biggest jackass.”
“How is that funny?” Ryke asks with narrowed eyes.
“Oh, I thought we were just reading comments.” Loren grins while Ryke rolls his eyes.
“I’ve got one!” Lily clasps her hands together. “Connor is a prick, but I’d bone him.” Lily’s eyes widen at the camera. “Just so we’re clear, I was reading a comment!”
Connor smiles beside me. Whoever that girl is, she can’t have him. He’s all mine. Or maybe I’m his.
We own each other, I think.
I look down at Connor’s screen, and the words don’t make sense to me. That never happens. “What does this mean?” I ask Connor, almost rolling my eyes when I utter the phrase. I can already feel his ego inflate. “Lo and Lily are so my OTP forever.”
Lily lets out a delighted squeal, her hands shooting to her mouth. She bounces giddily on Loren’s lap, and he holds the blanket around her body to keep her covered. “Are you serious?” she asks excitedly. “They called us OTP? Lo, did you hear that?”
“I heard, love,” he says with a smile. “But I didn’t need anyone to say it for me to believe it.”
Her entire face glows at his words.
I’m still stuck on OTP. I turn to Connor and he shakes his head like don’t look at me for this.
“What does OTP stand for?” I ask my sister.
“One True Pairing. Like couples that fans think are meant for each other,” Lily says quickly. “It’s used for fandoms. I guess, since we’re on a reality show, now we qualify.” Weird. But she would know that information, seeing as how they’re both into comic books and general pop culture things.
“Neither of you knew that?” Loren asks with a grin.
“It’s slang,” Connor says like that explains it all. It doesn’t matter. The fact that my sister and her boyfriend stumped us, the smartest people in the room, literally makes them beam in pure glee.
“Okay, what about this: I ship Ryke and Daisy so hard it hurts. What the hell does that mean?” I end up slurring the end of the sentence. Oh my God. Get your shit together, Rose. He’s going to f**k you so hard. He can’t f**k you if you’re passed out! I swallow, but my throat feels like cotton and clouds…which is one of the stupidest thoughts I’ve ever produced. I really am drunk. Dear God.