Chapter 59 – After

Chapter 59 – After

swallow it back down with my drink. I give a fake laugh and

continue to drink out of my cup as we make our way back to the others. Zed takes a seat on the floor diagonally from Hardin and Molly’s spot on the couch, and I sit down next to him, closer than I usually would, but that’s the point. Part of me had assumed Hardin would have gotten Molly off his lap by now, but he hasn’t. So I lean in a little closer yet to Zed.

Hardin’s eyes draw to slits, but I ignore him. Molly is still perched on his lap like the whore she is, and Steph gives me a sympathetic smile and glances toward Hardin. The vodka is beginning to take its effect as Nate’s turn comes around.

“Truth or dare?” Steph asks.

“Truth,” he answers, and she rolls her eyes.

“Pussy.” Her colorful language never ceases to surprise me. “Okay . . . Is it true that you pissed in Tristan’s closet last weekend?” she asks and they all start laughing except me. I have no clue what they are talking about.

“No! I already told you guys that wasn’t me!” he groans, making everyone laugh harder. Zed looks over and winks at me in the middle of the uproar.

I hadn’t really noticed before, but, Geez, he is hot. Really hot.

“Tessa, you playing?” Steph asks and I nod. I look up at Hardin, who is staring at me. I smile at him, then look back at Zed. The frown on Hardin’s face takes a little pressure off my chest. He should feel as terrible as I do.

“Okay, truth or dare?” Molly asks.

Of course she would be the one to ask me.

“Dare,” I bravely say. God knows what she will have me do. “I dare you to kiss Zed.” A few gasps and chuckles are heard.

“We already know how she feels about kissing people; pick something else,” Hardin says through his teeth.

“Actually, it’s fine.” He wants to play, we can play. “I don’t think—” Hardin starts to say.

“Shut up, Hardin,” Steph says and gives me an encouraging smile.

I can’t believe I agreed to kiss Zed, even if he’s one of the most attractive people I have ever seen. I have only really kissed Noah and Hardin; I figure Johnny from elementary school doesn’t count, especially since he tasted like glue.

“You sure?” Zed asks. He’s trying to act concerned but I can see the excitement in his perfect features.

“Yeah, I am sure.” I take another drink, forcing myself not to look up at Hardin, lest I change my mind. Everyone’s eyes are on us as Zed licks his lips and leans in to kiss me. His lips are cold from his drink and I can taste the sweetness of the cherry juice on his tongue. His lips are soft, yet hard against

mine, and his tongue moves expertly with mine. I feel the heat rising in my stomach, not nearly as hot as with Hardin, but it feels so good that when Zed’s hands move to my waist, we both move up to our knees—

“Okay . . . damn. She said kiss, not fuck in front of everyone,” Hardin says and Molly tells him to shut up.

I let my eyes go over to Hardin, and he looks mad, beyond mad. But he brought this upon himself.

I pull away from Zed and feel my cheeks flush as everyone stares at us. Steph gives me a thumbs-up, but I look at the ground. Zed looks very pleased and I feel embarrassed but thrilled with Hardin’s reaction.

“Tessa, your turn to ask Tristan,” Zed says. Tristan chooses dare, so I give him the least creative dare and have him take a shot.

“Zed, truth or dare?” Tristan asks as he chases his shot.

I down the rest of my drink, and the more I drink, the more numb my emotions become.

“Dare,” Zed answers, and Steph whispers something in Tristan’s ear that makes him grin.

“I dare you to take Tessa upstairs for ten minutes,” Tristan says, and I choke on my breath. This is too much.

“That’s a good one!” Molly says and laughs at my expense.

Zed looks at me as if asking me if I’m okay with it. Without thinking, I stand up and grab Zed’s hand. He looks as surprised as everyone else, but he stands up, too.

“This isn’t part of Truth or Dare, this is . . . um . . . well, it’s fucking dumb,” Hardin says.

“Why does it matter? They are both single and it’s all in good fun, so why do you care?” Molly asks him.

“I . . . I don’t care. I just think it’s stupid,” Hardin answers and my chest hurts again. He obviously had no plan to tell any of his friends that we are . . . were . . . whatever we were. He has been using me this entire time, I am just another girl to him and I was foolish, beyond foolish, to think otherwise.

“Well, good thing it’s none of your business, Hardin,” I snap and pull Zed by the hand.

“Burn!” “Damn!” I hear a few voices say, and Hardin swears at them as Zed and I walk away. We find a random bedroom at the top of the stairs and Zed pulls the door open and turns the light on.

Now that I am away from Hardin, I begin to feel much more nervous being alone with Zed. No matter how angry I am, I don’t want to mess around with Zed. Well, I wouldn’t say I don’t want to, but I know I shouldn’t. I’m not that

type of girl.

“So what do you want to do?” I squeak.

He chuckles a little and leads me to the bed. Oh Lord.

“Let’s just talk, yeah?” he says and I nod and look down at the floor. “Not that I wouldn’t love to do many other things with you, but you’re intoxicated and I don’t want to take advantage of you.”

I gasp.

“Surprised?” He beams and I laugh. “A little,” I admit.

“Why? I’m not a jerk, like Hardin,” he says and I look away again. “You know, I thought you and Hardin had something going on for a little bit.”

“No . . . we are just . . . well, we were friends, but not anymore.” I don’t want to admit how stupid I was for believing Hardin’s lies.

“So are you still seeing your boyfriend from high school?” he asks. Relieved not to be talking about Hardin, I relax and say, “No, we broke up.” “Oh, that’s too bad. He was a lucky guy,” he says with a sweet smile.

Zed is so charming. I find myself staring into his caramel eyes; his eyelashes are fuller than mine. “Thanks.”

“Maybe I could take you out sometime? On a proper date? Like, not into a bedroom at a frat party,” he says, then chuckles nervously.

“Um . . .” I don’t know what to say.

“How about I ask again tomorrow when you’re sober?” He is much nicer than I thought he would be. Usually guys as attractive as him are jerks . . . like Hardin.


He takes my hand again. “All right then! Let’s go back down.”

When we walk back downstairs, Hardin and Molly are still on the couch, but Hardin now has a drink and Molly has moved so her legs are draped over him from the side. When Hardin’s eyes dart down to where my hand is intertwined with Zed’s, I jerk away without thinking, but then grab it again quickly. Hardin clenches his jaw and I look away into the crowd of partiers.

“How was it?” Molly smirks.

“Fun,” I answer and Zed stays quiet. I will thank him later for not correcting me.

“It’s Molly’s turn,” Nate announces as we sit back on the floor. “Truth or dare?” Hardin asks her.

“Dare, of course.”

And Hardin looks right into my eyes and says, “I dare you to kiss me.”

My heart stops, literally. It stops beating; he is a bigger asshole than I ever imagined. My ears are swimming and my heart is pounding as Molly shoots a boastful glance my way before she latches herself to Hardin. All the anger I feel toward Hardin is washed away and replaced by hurt, all-consuming hurt and the feel of hot tears on my face. I can’t watch anymore, I just can’t.

Within seconds, I’m on my feet and pushing through the drunk crowd. I hear Zed and Steph both call after me, but the room feels like it’s spinning and when I close my eyes all I can see is Molly and Hardin. Knocking into people and not looking back, I finally reach the door and the fresh air outside fills my lungs and brings me back to reality.

How could he be so cruel? I run down the stairs on the sidewalk. I have to get away from here. I wish I had never met him, I wish I had had a different roommate. I even wish I had never come to WCU.

“Tessa!” I hear and I turn around, convinced I am imagining it until I see Hardin running after me.

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