The end of Professor Kaplan’s lecture on the wage gap swirled through the air as she dismissed her class, and Casey and Emily pushed in their chairs.
“Eighty three cents on the dollar?” Emily repeated, hoisting her bag over her shoulder.
“For twice the work!” Casey always left Professor Kaplan’s Feminism in the World class twice as fired up - which was saying something. “We work twice as hard and get half the credit. In everything! Women are expected to clean the house, do the cooking, grow the human beings and heave them out of our bodies, plus avoid assault and harassment, all for eighty three cents on the dollar!”
“Not only does Professor Kaplan have a smoking body,” came a smug voice behind her. “But she’s an excellent ventriloquist! Her words coming out of your mouth? And she’s all the way on the other side of the room!”
Casey rolled her eyes, wheeling on Derek and Sam, who were walking out of the lecture hall behind them. She turned to Emily. “The reason we need feminism in the first place. Because men like HIM can listen to a forty five minute lecture on gendered wealth inequality and still find a way to sexualize the lecturer!”
“Oh, my bad,” Derek grinned, tilting his head to the side. “I’ll leave the sexualizing of professors to you.”
Casey felt her face flush scarlett. She rallied her verbal forces, but found her voice sputtering like a faulty garden sprinkler.
“I - you - Jim is -”
“Oh, Jim now? Do you call him Jim in class, or does he get off on having you call him Professor Clifford in front of the other students?”
“At least I don’t need a penicillin shot every weekend because there’s always a new bimbo in my bed!”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” Derek replied effortlessly. “And bimbo, Case? That’s not very feminist of you.”
“I second that,” Professor Kaplan passed by them, throwing a disapproving glance over her shoulder at Casey. Casey fumed.
Emily and Sam locked tired eyes, sick as always of Derek and Casey’s incessant bickering.
“Hey, I thought you guys agreed to ignore each other after rush week,” Emily faked a smile, and attempted to lead Casey away.
“Seven months ago,” Sam matched Emily’s tone.
“I am ignoring you!” Casey shouted at Derek.
“Doing a real great job,” Emily muttered.
Emily was right, although an attempt was made each day. Aside from Emily and Sam, no one on campus knew Casey’s mom was married to Derek’s dad. This was an arrangement Derek insisted upon ever since rush week. Derek had entered Queens college with his heart set on pledging Alpha Delta Omega, the rowdiest frat on campus, known for their massive all-nighters and their wild pledge pranks. Naturally, he had been the star of his rush group, and the ADO’s viewed Derek as a prize to be won. Alternatively, Casey had her eye on Kappa Gamma Gamma, a sorority of eloquence and class. The girls of KGG were career driven and responsible - future scientists and astrophysicists and supreme court justices. They were also glamorous and popular with the frats. On bid night, when Casey and Emily accepted their places at KGG, they had no idea their sisters would be bringing them to a secret, after hours party at ADO. President Allison Lark was apparently dating ADO’s president, Kevin Feinberg.
“Do you have hand sanitizer?” Casey yelled to Emily over the music.
“No. But there’s enough alcohol here to disinfect twelve frat houses,” Emily observed as they weaved through inebriated partiers.
“Ew!” Casey stepped over a puddle of dried vomit. Derek spied her from across the darkened room. He was facing off against one of the brother’s in beer pong, and was pleasantly buzzed. A slip of his aim, and he sent the pong ball towards Casey. It bounced off her head.
She swiveled, and slammed right into the large stone founder’s statue, mounted in the center of the room, in a place of honour. Casey watched in horrific slow motion as the statue toppled to the floor, severed in two. The music stopped, as did the sounds of the party. Every eye on her.
“Our founder!” Kevin yelled, running to mourn over the statue's remains.
“I’m sorry!” Casey fumbled, to no avail, then locked eyes with Derek, who was laughing in hysterics.
“DER-EK!” she yelled, then stomped out of the party, Emily close at her heels.
“Do you know that chick?” his beer pong opponent questioned with an heir of disapproval.
“Never seen her before in my life. Klutzilla, though, am I right?” Derek recovered.
Now, in the present, Derek shuddered at the memory.
“Can you blame me? If anyone found out we knew each other, they would’ve hazed the shit out of me during hell week! Besides, it’s so much easier to hook up with your KGG sisters when they don’t know we’re associated. Speaking of which,” he turned his attention to Emily. “Your sorority coming to our party tomorrow?”
“Well, I’ll be there,” Emily said hesitantly.
“Awesome,” Sam smiled at her, and their eyes lingered a moment. Derek was back to laughing at Casey.
“Enjoy being sober sister AGAIN and then every Saturday night for the next four years.”
“I’ll have you know, I’m going to Jim’s lake house this weekend,” Casey said smugly.
“Wow, it’s getting serious with you two?” Sam asked, eyebrows raised.
“Well of course. Jim’s a serious man. We’re in a serious relationship.”
“He’s also eighty!” Derek interjected.
“And your ethics professor - ironically - since dating a student? Plato would not approve, and neither would Nora and Dad.”
Derek flicked two fingers from his forehead in a sort of salute. “Emily.” He led Sam off down the hall, leaving Casey to fume, and taking the last word with him. As always.
Derek’s comment about Jim had bothered Casey. Three hours later, and she couldn’t shake it, despite being curled tightly in the crook of Jim’s arm. She hadn’t planned to date her ethics professor, it just sort of happened - one day after class when he asked her to stay behind so he could compliment her paper. He waxed on and on about her intelligence, and the bright future ahead of her. They ended up at his favorite off campus bar, sharing a candle and a bottle of red until the small hours of the morning. He was just so brilliant. And handsome, with his tan skin and wintery hair. She had been planning her first time since she had read Judy Blume under the covers in the ninth grade. She had wanted it to be special, on a bed covered with rose petals, the view of a beach just beyond softly billowing curtains. The cold leather seats of Jim’s Subaru never factored into her fantasy, but he had a way of convincing her.
“What are you thinking about?” he stroked her long hair fondly, without looking up from his book.
“Oh - just Professor Kaplan’s lecture on the wage gap,” she lied.
“You’re always studying even when you’re not studying,” he teased. “Put school away for a while. Be here with me.”
“I’m here,” she smiled up, and kissed the side of his chin. “Though I’d rather be at your lake house already. I can’t wait to get off campus. It’s been a little too crowded lately.”
“Your step brother again?”
“Yeah - he’s just so - ” she paused, mid rant. Complaining about Derek made her sound petty and immature, which was the last light she wanted Jim to cast her in. She smoothed her features.
“Forget him. He doesn’t exist, not when I’m with you.”
“Good,” he kissed the top of her head. “But you reminded me, we can’t go to the lake house this weekend.”
“We’ll go out to dinner tomorrow instead.”
“Oh. I was looking forward to it -”
“You’re making me feel bad, Casey.”
Casey sat up. “No, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you feel bad. Another weekend is great.”
Meanwhile, back on campus, Derek and the brothers had found their way into a bar that never carded. The neon green sign above the door proclaimed the name “Pinballerz.” Derek drained his beer, then let his soft brown hair flop over his forehead in the direction of Meredith, a cute, blonde sophomore he intended to take home.
“And then I got a spider bite,” she was telling their group boisterously. “At my ex boyfriend’s lake house. And it swoll - swelled? Swelled! To the size of a golf ball!”
Derek’s ear had been pulled.
“Your ex boyfriend has a lake house?”
“Yeah - well it was his wife’s, or something. As was all his money. What’s the word for a male gold digger? His wife was like an heiress or something.”
“Your ex - was married? How old was he?”
“I don’t know, like forty?” She leaned closer to Derek, conspiratorially, letting her perfectly polished fingernails drum on his chest. “I was a really naughty freshman. He was sort of, like, a professor.”
Derek arched his eyebrows. “An ethics professor?”
By the time Casey returned to her dorm early Saturday morning, an unwelcome visitor was perched against her door.
“What did you do, sleep here?” she scoffed at Derek’s rumpled T-shirt, the same he’d been wearing in class the day before, and the bags under his eye.
“As a matter of fact, I’ve been waiting here since four. I ran out on a cute blonde sophomore because I have to tell you something. Do you know how hard that was for me?”
Casey rolled her eyes.
“How do you even know this is my room? We don’t know each other, remember!” She pushed past Derek to unlock the door. Derek followed her in, on a mission.
“You’re the RA. You’re obligated to let me in and hear my grievances.”
“You don’t live on my floor!”
“Your boyfriend is a serial dater, Case. He prays on freshman girls. A new one each semester.”
Casey scoffed defensively. “Sure you don’t have him confused with yourself? Cause that sounds more like your move.”
“Except I’m not forty and a professor.”
“Who told you this anyway?” she crossed her arms, and sat on her bed.
“Cute blonde sophomore. She knew about the lake house. She said she dated him her first semester, then he dumped her for another freshman in the spring. You’ve been with him since January, right? I bet there was another girl our age in the fall.”
“This is low, even for you,” Casey reached for her laptop and turned it on, business as usual.
“You don’t believe me?”
“No, as a matter of fact, I don’t. Jim is honest with me. He’s mature, and sophisticated and wonderful. He’s looking for something serious and he found it in me.”
“He’s a predator, Casey! How can you sit in Kaplan’s class week after week and not see it.”
“Please. You only took that class to meet girls. Your credibility as a feminist is crap.”
“I’ll have you know,” Derek drew his pride around him like a blanket. “I got an A on Kaplan’s Grey Areas of Consent paper.”
“You got an A?”
“Don’t act so surprised. Consent is straight forward.”
“Well, if you’re suddenly a feminist now, then you know I don’t need an overprotective brother type trying to control my dating life!”
“Step brother type, thank you very much. We are not related. And I’m just trying to help you out. I took the guy’s class last semester, he’s a condescending jerk, and is creepy to all the girls. He probably would’ve been fired by now for misconduct if it weren’t for his tenure.”
“You’re so full of shit!”
“Besides, I can’t believe you’re wasting your freshman year dating a professor! Missing parties and friendships, and fuck ups so you can be in bed by nine doing the crossword? I know you’re boring by nature, but don’t you want to have an actual college experience while you’re in college?”
“I know we pretend not to know each other, but don’t forget I know you, Derek. You hate to see me happy, but I’m happy because I didn’t settle for one of your alcoholic frat brothers. College isn’t Neverland. It’s where you go to grow up. I, for one, am growing up just fine. And pretty soon, all the party girls you chase across campus are going to grow up and out of you too. Now will you please get out of my room?”
“Fine,” Derek threw his hands up in exasperation. “I’d take the window, but I’m a little low on pixie dust at the moment.” He opened the door and stepped into the hallway, then turned back for one last parting remark. “And by the way, that lake house your boyfriend is taking you to today? It belongs to his wife.” Derek slammed the door, leaving nothing but loud silence.
Casey fidgeted through dinner. Her makeup had been hurriedly applied, two buttons were in the wrong holes, and she was pretty sure she had sprayed deodorant onto her curls instead of hairspray. Would Derek really sink so low as to lie? He had never missed an opportunity to sabotage her happiness before. This could all be some practical joke. She felt her fist clench on the table.
When I get my hands on him, she thought.
“Casey, your chicken parm is getting cold,” Jim said, sipping his wine.
“Why aren’t we going to the lake house again?” the words slipped out before she had the chance to overthink them. They were Derek’s words. He had gotten under her skin - again. She hated herself for allowing him to make himself at home under her skin, but she had to know, then and there. Jim shrugged.
“I thought you weren’t going to make me feel bad.”
Casey’s heart clenched. “No - it’s no big deal or anything - you just didn’t tell me why.”
Jim chewed his grilled salmon for a moment. Was he buying time? Trying to come up with an answer she wouldn’t second guess?
“Renovations. Totally forgot when I asked you last week that they were scheduled.”
“Renovations,” Casey parroted back to him. “So - is your wife letting the contractors in? Or?”
“No. I’m pretty sure she told them where the spare key is,” he said, forking a potato.
“Oh, that’s a relief,” Casey smiled. Then she took in what he had actually said. “Wait - you ARE married?”
“Seperated. Well, not legally, but we only see each other on holidays and the kids’ summer break.”
“Yeah. Liam is ten, Jimmy Jr is fourteen and Lisa is eighteen.” He looked at her perplexed. “Why is this relevant?”
“Why is this relevant? We’ve been seeing each other for three months and you have a whole family I never knew about!”
Rage and humiliation hovered over the table, clouding her vision. She stood, throwing her napkin down on her half empty plate.
“Casey, you’re overreacting,” Jim said calmly.
“You lied to me!”
“I didn’t lie, I just didn’t see how my family had anything to do with us.”
“They have everything to do with us. Well, they did, but don’t anymore, because there is no more us.”
She unhooked her purse from the back of her chair.
“Casey - don’t go,” Jim sighed, but he stayed seated, as if standing required too much effort. “You’re being dramatic.” Casey felt unwanted tears threaten. She turned to go, taking several steps towards the door, then stopped and turned back. “Is Lisa your wife or your daughter?”
Jim looked disgusted. “My daughter.”
“Good. Just checking.”
Casey ran out of the restaurant. She wasn’t sure where her feet were taking her, but her head was spinning. Emily. She needed to find Emily. She flagged down a taxi. Emily was at the ADO rager.
So is Derek, she thought bitterly, and recalled her vow to never set foot in one of those debauched parties again. So why did she tell the cab driver to drop her off in front of the ADO house? She hated that Derek had been right about Jim. As the car sped onward, Casey felt hot tears approaching. Jim’s character wasn’t the only thing Derek had been right about. Every weekend for three months, every Saturday night that she could’ve spent going to parties or bonding with her sisters or joining clubs, she had spent sleeping beside a man twenty one years older than her.
No more wasting time, she thought, and wiped her tears away. When she arrived at the ADO house, Emily was nowhere to be found, but she was no longer Casey’s target. Casey made a beeline for the makeshift bar.
“Jack or Gin?” the thickly muscled, sandy haired frat guy asked her.
“Both! Why not, I’m not driving!”
“Ok? But you shouldn’t mix your - ” he trailed off. Casey had taken both shots simultaneously.
“Oh my god,” she shook her head, scrunching her face. “That tastes like lighter fluid.”
“I’ll bet,” the frat guy smiled. “You want two more?”
“Would you drink two more?”
“Hell yeah!” They clinked the four glasses together and threw them back.
“What do you want to do now?” he asked her, eyes glazed over already. Casey felt the storm in her head calm, and realized with the help of these horrible tasting drinks, she had finally made it inside the eye.
“I want to dance,” she said, taking note of the college kids in the living room, grinding to the thumping base. “I’m a dance minor. I’m the best one here.”
“Yes ma'am,” he obliged, and led her to the floor. Before Casey knew it, he had lifted her up onto a table, making her the highest point in the party. She danced effortlessly, and attracted more admirers than just this sandy haired boy. Well of course, she was beautiful, and a great dancer. She couldn’t believe she had ever settled for one guy, and a forty year old for that matter! When she could have anybody she wanted. She was nineteen, invincible, unstoppable, and sexy as hell. The boys were telling her so. They wanted her to unbutton. Who was she not to give the people what they want? She obliged.
“Who’s that hot girl?” a brother named Eric turned Derek’s attention to the spectacle in the living room.
“Oh god,” Derek said as he took in the scene.
“Isn’t that Klutzilla?” Kevin asked a bit sorely. “Destroyer of our great founder?”
“Yeah. Shit,” Derek sighed.
“You know her?” Eric asked.
“Sort of. She’s in my Feminism in the World class.”
“Introduce me, bro? Cause damn.”
“You take feminism in the world?” Kevin laughed. “Gay.”
Derek cursed, and ran over to Casey.
“Casey, get down.”
“Derek!” she called rowdily. “I crashed your party!”
“You’re embarrassing yourself.”
“Oh, I forgot, we don’t know each other! Hi random boy I don’t know,” she continued to dance, tugging at another of her buttons. The brothers behind him cheered.
He reached out for her hand, and she swatted it away.
“I’m having fun! Didn’t you want me to have fun and stop wasting the best years of my life on some married guy!” She released her last button, opening her shirt, revealing a pastel pink, satin bra.
“This is a little too much fun! Now come on.”
“I’m making friends! I’m doing the whole college thing! Look at all my friends!”
“Take your bra off!” Eric, who had joined the crowd of onlookers, shouted behind Derek. Derek turned on him, glowering.
“Fuck off, Eric.” Then he turned back to Casey. “I think these guys want to be a bit more than friends. Now would you come down, please?”
“You hook up all the time. Why shouldn’t I?” She started to pull her skirt up.
He reached out for her again. She glared at his hand for a moment, noticed the guys catcalling her behind him, then took it. She stumbled down off the table, her high heels acting as hot pink booby traps. Derek caught her, and fed her arm around his shoulders.
“Come on, Venturi, don’t take all the fun for yourself,” Eric attempted to pull Casey away. “Nights just getting started.”
“Shut the fuck up, man,” Derek snapped. “She’s drunk, I’m going to make sure she gets home safely.” He led Casey into the foyer. For a moment, he looked around for Emily. He had seen her go off with Sam over an hour ago, where could they be? He sighed.
“Alright, let’s get you home. Come on, button up.” Casey attempted to do up her first button.
“I’ve been getting them wrong all day,” she slurred.
“Here,” Derek did up Casey’s buttons quickly. “Let’s go before your fans demand an encore.” He led her outside and across the lawn, practically carrying her as she stumbled forward.
“I don’t have my key. I lost my purse,” Casey realized, patting the pockets of her skirt futilely. “I must’ve left it back there.”
She attempted to turn them around.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, I’m not walking you back in there. Just crash at my place, we’ll find your crap tomorrow.”
Casey protested the whole walk to Derek’s dorm, repeatedly insisting that she could walk just fine on her own, that she wanted to go back to the party and find the sandy haired boy, that it was still early. Derek repeated as calmly as he could that this was for her own good.
“Where’s your boyfriend, anyway?” he managed as they approached his building. “Shouldn’t he be the one carrying you home?”
“Married, that’s where he is. Stupid liar.”
“Oh jeeze. Case. I’m - sorry.”
“Why are you sorry? You knew. Shouldn’t you be gloating?”
“Just because I was right doesn’t mean I want to see you hurt.”
“That’s a first.”
They made their way up the stairs and through the hallway towards Derek’s room.
“I don’t care anyway,” Casey said. “You were right. I shouldn’t have wasted so much time on him. All my relationships have been life or death. Sam, Max, Truman. Jim was my first time and it wasn’t even special. I could’ve been any freshman girl to him.”
Derek unlocked his door and Casey stumbled in, mid rant and oblivious to their surroundings.
“I should be more like you!”
“I’ve been telling you that for years.”
“Casual hookups. No emotional attachment, just random sex all the time. No feelings. No fear of ending up alone.”
“Yeah,” Derek mumbled under his breath. “Nothing like that. Now come on, let’s get you to bed.”
Casey thrust herself forward, planting her lips sloppily against Derek’s. Her arms around him were tight, and her kiss was deep. Derek pushed her off.
“Whoa, Casey, you're hammered. You don’t know what you’re doing.”
“I always know what I’m doing,” she slurred, eyelids growing heavy.
“I have a feeling if you were sober, you wouldn’t have done that. In any universe. And you likely won’t even remember it tomorrow. Now come on, lay down.”
“Sorry to make you leave the party early,” she said as she kicked off her shoes, leaning against Derek’s shoulder for balance.
“It’s no biggie. I’ve got Professor Sharp’s film seminar tomorrow morning. She offers them on Sundays to the freshman who want to get into her Sophomore year clinic.”
“Look at you, taking school seriously,” Casey attempted to ruffle Derek’s hair. He dodged the advance.
“I’m only telling you because you won’t remember. Otherwise my rep would be ruined.”
“You know, in some places, like college, it’s cool to give a shit about your future.” She settled under his brown comforter, laying back against the pillows.
“Where are you going to sleep? In Nolan’s bed?”
“Hah, no way. He hasn’t changed the sheets all year. Probably why he stays with his girlfriend most of the week. I swear the guy does not know how to do laundry.”
He rolled his eyes. “I’m fine on the floor.”
“No,” Casey protested. “Just sleep in the bed too.”
“No, that would be weird,” he over-enunciated.
“Don’t make it weird! We’ve slept on the couch together.”
“We don’t have to snuggle. Just come on, lay down.”
Derek sighed heavily, but couldn’t keep from smiling. “Alright, drunk mess.” Casey was already asleep by the time Derek came back from brushing his teeth. He felt a sudden warmth come over him, almost as if he had missed her this year, while trying not to know her. He settled on top of the comforter, his face close to hers on the pillow, and drifted off quickly.
Casey woke several hours later, desperately grasping for her memory. Derek was asleep beside her, his nose mere inches from hers. Why was she in Derek’s bed? Where was Jim? Thinking his name triggered the floodgates, and the drunken events of the previous night returned.
“Oh my god,” she whispered, clenching her eyes shut in embarrassment as she recalled her strip tease for the boys of ADO, and snippets of her fight with Jim sounded off in her mind like loud fireworks. Her small exclamation stirred Derek, and his eyes fluttered open.
“Hey drunk mess,” he grinned.
“Don’t remind me,” she said, rolling over to lay on her back.
“You ok? How’s the head?”
“Heavy. With things I wish I could forget. My god, I am never mixing Jack and Gin again.”
“You were mixing? That explains it.” A wedge of silence sat between them, Derek watching Casey carefully. “So - you remember everything?”
“I remember finding out about Jim’s wife and kids. Storming out of the restaurant, taking a cab to the party to find Emily - then the tape sort of goes fuzzy. Something about a table dance?”
“A full on strip tease, until I stopped you.”
“Thank you for that. I suppose I owe you.”
“So you don’t remember-”
“That weird thing you did.”
“What weird thing?”
“You - were really drunk - I don’t think you meant it,” he was sputtering, and Casey noticed his cheeks begin to redden.
“Spit it out.”
“You kissed me.”
“Oh God, I’m sorry Derek. So not cool.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’ve been kissed by many drunk girls.”
“Yeah but never your - never me.”
“No. Well, you did say you wanted more casual hookups now that you dumped the Professor.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t mean you.”
Silence found them once more, though this time it was brimming with a strange energy, one that would spark like a faulty outlet if they dared to meet each other’s eyes.
“That would be weird,” Casey broke the silence and bravely met his eyes. “Right?”
“Totally weird,” Derek confirmed. “It was weird.” He meant to look away, but his brain had stopped sending signals to his body. He was looking at her with profound softness. He had never looked at her like that before. Or maybe he had always looked at her like that, but from behind swagger and condescension, now nowhere to be found. At this proximity, his hazel eyes almost looked green.
“But - nice,” he found his lips saying. And suddenly they were kissing, with intention, with meaning, with desperation. It wasn’t clear if Casey had kissed Derek, or Derek had kissed Casey. Or maybe they had gone for each other at the exact same time. All body, no thought. Derek rolled on top of Casey, her legs parted around him, his fingers dug into the knots of her hair, tightly fitting around her face. The kind of kiss that leaves no room for breath, that is felt in each knot of the spine. Years of pent up aggression mingled with deep longing. They opened their eyes at the same moment, and the silent contract was signed - had been signed maybe upon their first meeting, and both knew the other had been an inevitable force of nature, surging towards this very moment.
Derek pulled Casey’s shirt over her head, and she reciprocated, then they dove back into their kiss. She started to moan softly as he kissed down her neck, his careful fingers finding their way to the back of her bra. He undid the clasp in a single, practiced motion.
“You’re good at that,” she said breathlessly.
“Practice makes perfect,” he grinned.
“Oh, gross,” she teased, but his mouth continued traveling down her breasts, kissing her nipples teasingly, tugging them lightly with his teeth. She rolled on top of him, pushing him flat on the bed. He watched with amazement as she arched her back, allowing him to admire the tight curves of her hips. She undid his belt and pulled his pants and boxers down to his ankles. She took him in her mouth and he gasped at the stark sensation of her tongue caressing up and down on his splintering erection.
“You’re good at that,” he managed, pleasantly surprised.
Casey looked up, smiling smugly. “Practice makes perfect.”
She put her lips coyly around the tip of his penis again and inched it in, never breaking eye contact. She sucked until he felt ready to burst. He had many blow jobs before, but had never felt ready to finish this fast. The changed variable was Casey.
“Wait,” he found his voice on the verge of begging. “I don’t want to come yet. I want to make you come first. Then I want to fuck you.”
He kicked his pants to the floor, then slid off her skirt and underwear. She laid back, her feet coming to rest on the pillow. He took in the sight of her naked body with immense pleasure for a moment, causing her to laugh.
“Oh my god,” he sighed.
“Back at you,” she ran her fingers up his sculpted chest.
He slipped his fingers inside her, finding her wetter than he’d imagined. He set his mouth softly on her clit, drawing sounds from her lips like sweet notes from an instrument. Her groans grew louder as his tongue worked, and he slid his fingers back inside.
“Derek,” she called with half her voice, as if brought to her knees by the intensity of the feeling. He felt her fingers thread through his hair, clutching it desperately like a rope. Casey split open, loud breath heaving like title waves, losing all control over her thoughts as she came harder than she had in her life. Derek looked up, grinning like a devil, as Casey propped herself on her elbows. The expression on her face was that of a shipwreck survivor, finally come ashore.
“Do you have a condom?” she breathed.
“Boy, do I,” Derek reached into his night table drawer, and produced one. The thirty seconds it took him to slide it over his erection was an agonizing period of purgatory, with heaven so close at hand.
Then he lay on top of her, fitting his mouth into hers, where it belonged, and slid his penis inside her. He was bigger than she initially anticipated, but her body had prepared her, and she grasped at his hair again, moaning into his mouth with each deep sway of his body into hers. She struggled to keep her moans quiet, with the knowledge that Derek’s neighbors were only a thin wall away. It was likely the entire floor had heard them by now. Casey needed to regain control. In another moment, she had pushed him back onto the bed, and rode him slowly, teasingly, setting the pace for herself, and taking full control of Derek at last. He looked up at her as if she alone held his life in her hands.
“Do you want to come?” she asked, leaning back down to speak into their kiss.
“Yes,” he murmured, biting his lip.
“Should I let you come?”
“I’m gonna come, Case, if you keep riding me like that.” She rode him harder, kissed him deeper, felt him completely. His expression contorted as his trigger was pulled, and the sounds of his orgasm surrounded her. She collapsed down onto the bed beside him. Both sweaty, breathless, brainless, and floating. It was almost as if they had slipped into an alternate universe. Something about the moment, about the single bed, about each other’s naked bodies, and the way the sun filtered through the beige dorm issued curtains, dappling Derek’s brown bedspread, gave the room an otherworldly quality.
Derek opened his eyes, looking straight at Casey. Something in his helpless expression made her laugh hysterically. She had finally won. Her laugh was contagious.
“Oh my god,” she managed through her laughter.
Then they slowly came back to their heads, and their expressions flattened.
“Oh my god,” Casey repeated. And suddenly the otherworldly quality of the room vanished, and the day was real again. They were in a dorm room at Queens college, their friends and classmates and teachers and exes only four shared walls away.
“Oh my god!” she exclaimed.
“Don’t freak out,” he said preemptively. They were both horizontal on the bed, but backwards. Derek pulled Casey into him, and righted them so they could lay back on the pillow. He pulled her head close to his chest. “It’s ok.”
“It’s not ok!” Panic mode had not been prevented. Casey was fully panicking. She sat up, careful to keep the covers over her breasts, as if she could undo Derek having seen them. “What about this is ok?! We just - you and I just-”
“Fucked each other’s brains out?”
“Yeah and it was amazing!”
“That’s part of the problem!”
“It’s a problem that we had amazing sex?”
“A HUGE problem! What if Mom and George find out? They’ll ship me off to a French convent, and you to the navy!”
“I do look good in uniform,” Derek removed the condom and tied it off, then tossed it in the trash can by his bed, grinning wryly. “You in a habit on the other hand, no thank you.”
“Oh god, what if Lizzie and Edmund find out! What kind of example are we setting?”
“Ok, number one, ew. Number two, you and I are not blood related, Case. It’s not like we even grew up together. We are very clearly not siblings. We’re just two hot people whose parents happened to get married five years ago. So we shared a bathroom for a while. We don’t any more. I’ve slept with girls I’ve known longer than you. Who cares what George and Nora think?”
But Casey’s tailspin was too fast for him to catch and halt.
“Oh god, they’d throw the I word around, wouldn’t they? And what if our classmates find out we’re step siblings. They’ll laugh us both off campus. Emily and Sam know our parents are married, they’ll think we’re freaks - what about Jim? He knows all about you. What would mister ethics say about this? Plus, I’m not even sure if he and I are actually broken up or -”
“Casey, you’re spirling,” Derek said, pulling her back down. “I know it’s delicate, but we didn’t do anything wrong.”
“I hate step sibling porn, it’s my least favorite sub genre!”
“Case, just - wait,” he stopped in his tracks. “You watch porn?”
She narrowed her eyes at him like he was daft. “Yeah, everyone watches porn.”
“Well, that explains it,” he laid back, impressed.
“Oh, god, Derek, what do we do?”
“How about you go get in the washing machine, and I won’t help you get unstuck.”
“Be serious!” She pushed his face affectionately with her hand, but couldn’t keep from laughing.
“Ok, well, I can seriously say - that I’ve been wanting to do that for a while.”
She blinked, taking in the sudden weight of his words. “You have?” He nodded, unsure why he was suddenly being so honest and - dare he admit - vulnerable?
“Me too,” she brought her hand up to rest against his palm, and laced her fingers through his. “Clearly, there have been unaddressed - feelings - building for a while. But what about-”
“Here’s an idea,” he interrupted, and rolled back on top of her. “Seeing as how neither of our parents are here on campus - we sort through all these thoughts later, and right now, just enjoy going to town on each other. Cause I don’t know how to tell you this, but I’m hard again.”
“Already? What did you do - pop a viagra?”
“No one having sex with you would need viagra, Case.” That same softness overtook his features. He felt her notice, and attempted to retract it. “I mean look at your tits.”
“They’re pretty great, aren’t they?” she smiled.
“You have no idea,” he groaned. “Look. I know you were plastered last night, but you were actually speaking sense. You’ve been missing out on an authentic college experience, on parties and casual hook ups and spontaneity. Last night, you spontaneously went to a party, spontaneously got hammered, spontaneously stripped, and now you had spontaneous sex with the best looking guy on campus.”
She started to speak, but he interrupted her with a kiss.
“Let’s be spontaneous,” he whispered.
“Maybe,” she bit her lip, feeling the blood rush back to her face. “Since we’ve already done it once - we just - do it again? And worry about it tomorrow?”
He got to his knees on the bed, and lifted her legs onto his shoulders.
“Sounds great to me!” he said triumphantly. “Round two?”
She grinned, challenge accepted. “I can go all day.”
Derek reached for his night table drawer, in search of another condom. His eyes landed on the clock.
“I can’t. Shit. Sharp’s Film seminar. It starts in fifteen minutes. Fuck. This erection is not going down any time soon.”
“Oh,” Casey lowered her legs and sat up against the headboard. “No big deal.” She tried to mask her disappointment. If they left now, and returned to the world, the illusion may shatter, and their problems would be real again. She dreaded the chance to overthink what had happened, sensing it would lead to her and Derek never laying a hand on each other again. Derek read her mind, or else he was feeling it too.
“It’s just - Sharp’s sophomore film program is really selective. I want to impress her now, this year, so I can get on the short list next year.”
“You’re taking your major seriously. I think that’s great. Go. Really!”
Derek thought fast. “Stay here,” he said urgently. “Wait for me. Class is only forty five minutes. We’ll pick up right where we left off. Don’t even get dressed.”
“What?” she laughed, rolling her eyes.
“No, I’m serious! Stay naked. It’ll be the hottest thing in the world, thinking about you during class, waiting in my bed. I’ll even bring back coffee and donuts, ok? And we can spend the rest of today and even tonight going down on each other. I’ll make you come fourteen times.” Derek toppled out of bed, reaching for his boxers and jeans, then hastily pulling them on.
“What about Nolan? Won’t be he back at some point?”
“No way! He’s never here on the weekends, especially not in the mornings. You’ll have the place to yourself.”
Derek reached for a shirt from his laundry pile, smelled it, then pulled it over his head.
“Gross,” Casey shook her head.
“One change at a time, Case,” he smirked. “Now will you stay?”
She pulled the covers around her, and propped the pillow behind her demonstratively.
“Yes, I’ll stay.”
“Naked?” he raised his eyebrows.
“I want you in this bed, naked and ready, when I come back.”
She blushed, beaming so brightly her face hurt. “Yes, ok.”
He grabbed his bag, slung it over his shoulder, then kissed her quickly before running out the door. Casey snuggled down. It was exciting, the feelings fluttering within her. She was being spontaneous, having amazing sex with - Derek! Who was likely thinking about her this very moment as he ran to the seminar, her smell still on his skin. He would smell like her all through class, a thought that made her giggle.
Didn’t she hate Derek? Hadn’t she spent the last five years wishing he was not in her life - was as far from her as possible? No one got under her skin like he did - and now he had literally gotten under her skin.
She felt herself begin to overanalyze the situation, and the faces of Lizzie, Edwin, George, Nora, and Marti came to her mind as clearly as if they stood before her, in pure disapproval and shock. But Derek was right - they weren’t siblings. They had never even felt like siblings. There had always been something else between them - it was obvious now. She recalled moments of intimacy, when he had comforted her during her breakup with Truman, and even confronted him after she caught him cheating. She thought of the look on his face when he saw her Babe Raider costume, the sparks flying between them during the dance contest and the prom, the jealousy he displayed when she began dating Sam. She thought it had been jealousy over sharing his friend, but wondered now if it was jealousy over his friend dating her? Even the moments where she wanted to tear Derek apart - maybe it was his clothes she wanted to tear apart?
What were these nameless feelings? Were they mere orgasm induce illusion? Or were they tangible. Only one day before, she had been convinced she was so in love with Jim, and if he ever walked away, her heart would never recover. Now, her memories of Jim had soured, and seemed dim in the light of the new day, this new sex, this new her. The way she was feeling now made her think she had never loved Jim, nor Truman, nor Max, nor Sam. Nobody. Because the feelings rising inside her were new and old at the same time, as if they always existed, but had never been acknowledged till that very morning.
She sighed, laying back against the pillows, breathlessly. Then, just as effortlessly as the feelings flooded her, came the realization that her feelings weren’t the only that mattered. What did Derek feel? He had made a pledge to notch his belt as often as he could this year, bragged loudly about it to Edwin all last summer, and had, to her knowledge, lived up to his word. Commitment wasn’t on his bucket list. How many other girls had been naked in this bed? How often had she heard the girls in her pledge class swoon over the handsome film major pledging ADO? Was she merely another notch in his belt?
Her thoughts ping ponged back and forth without mercy. Because this was Derek. She couldn’t trust him with her car, let alone her heart. But maybe she was at fault for being bothered. Derek was free to explore his sexuality anyway he wanted, with whoever he wanted. It had been spontaneous sex, nothing more. And that was good. That made her happy - or it would. It should.
Casey rose and walked to the mirror on Nolan’s side. Her makeup was smeared in black circles around her eyes. She wiped it free, found a comb she suspected to be Derek’s, and set to work combing through the nest of knots that had taken shape in the last fourteen hours. Then she took a swig of mouth wash on the dresser, found nowhere to spit it, so she dressed quickly and crept down the hall to the bathroom. Luckily, no one saw her. When she was returned, she pulled her clothes back off, letting them crumple into a pile on the floor, and grinned, reveling in her new found bad girl persona. She settled back onto Derek’s bed, her naked body proudly on display.
She watched the clock eagerly, willing the forty five minutes to whisk by faster. When they had, she rearranged herself on the bed in a more appealing position, her boobs on full display. She watched the door. He did not come through. Another ten minutes. She turned over and repositioned herself, in the perfect pose to accentuate her ass. Still he did not come through. Second guessing herself, she spread out once more, face up, on one elbow.
Finally the door knob turned. She ruffled her hair one last time.
“Welcome back,” she said. Five astonished faces looked back at her.
“Holy shit,” exclaimed a voice, clearly not Derek’s. Casey didn’t even have a second to register who had barged into the room. She scrambled to cover herself with the comforter.
“Get out!” she yelled.
“Where’s Venturi?” one of the voices pushed forth from the sudden rumble of male laughter. Casey peered up from beyond the comforter. There were five boys, two of whom were wearing ADO T-shirts. In their hands they carried rolls of toilet paper and duct tape.
“Oh my god,” said a sandy haired boy she vaguely recognized. “That’s the stripper from last night.”
“Hell yeah,” said the ADO President, Kevin. “Leave it to Venturi. So much better than a pledge prank.”
The horrific realization that Derek had set this prank up to humiliate her smashed over her head.
“DER-EK!” she yelled with vitriol. When she got her hands on him, he was dead. No. She would never speak to him ever again. She wrapped the comforter around her, and barged towards the door.
“Get out!” she screamed. They stumbled out of her way, and she slammed the door and locked it. It was no use trying to hold back tears this time. What a fool she’d been. She dressed as quickly as she could, then with a rush of frustration realized her purse was still at the ADO house. No way she was going to get it now, she would have to go straight to Emily’s, and ask her to retrieve it later. Heels in hand, she opened the door and pushed her way, barefoot, through the still laughing frat boys.
“Aw, where you going?” one shouted.
“Damn, Venturi pulls tens,” said another.
She ran down the hallway and pounded down the stairs, the tears coming faster and hotter now. She ran right into Derek on the landing. In his hands, a tray of coffee and donuts. Under his arm, Casey’s pink purse.
“Casey! Hey - what’s wrong? Where are you going?” His expression leveled.
“As if you don’t know,” she said through her now aching sobs. “Your little plan to humiliate me and score points with your brothers worked.”
“Whoa, whoa, wait - what are you talking about?”
“Is this what you do to all the girls you bring home? Set up a little show? Or did you just go out of your way to humiliate me?”
“Casey I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He tried to put his free hand on her shoulder, but she shoved him off.
“Don’t touch me! I never want to speak to you again.” She shoved past him on the landing and out the door.
“Casey, wait,” Derek chased after her.
“And I fell for it! I can’t believe I fell for your bullshit! Your stupid pick up lines. Your stupid floppy hair and stupid hazel eyes.”
“Whatever you think I did, I swear to you, I didn’t.”
“They had your key, Derek! You really expect me to believe you didn’t brag to your brothers that you had a naked girl back in your bed and invite them all down for the show? Was there even a seminar, or was that part of the lie?”
The revelation settled over him. “Pledge prank. Shit. I heard they were coming for me next.”
“And you thought you’d conveniently be missing when they came around, and leave me there instead?”
“Casey, I didn’t.”
“Do you hate me that much? I mean, I know we never liked each other, but I didn’t think you’d do something so hurtful-”
“I don’t hate you! Not at all!”
He kept trying to reach for her, following hot on her heels. Finally, she wheeled on him.
“I can’t believe I even - for a second - thought you could care about anyone other than yourself. Sex is just a game to you. You tricked me, and I fell for it.”
“I tricked you? Bullshit! You kissed me last night, and again this morning. You wanted it as badly as me.”
“What I want is to never speak to you again,” she snatched her purse from under his arm. “Not at Christmas, not over the summer, or in class.”
“Casey - ”
“I don’t know you anymore, Derek. For real this time.”
Casey turned away. Derek did not follow her. Casey didn’t care that passerbyers on campus noticed her tearful walk of shame. She had stopped caring about anything.
She let herself into her room, finally checking her cell phone. Thirty two missed calls, two from Emily, one from her mother, and twenty nine from Jim. She tossed her phone on her desk, threw herself on the bed, and cried till she was sick.
How much humiliation could someone with her pride endure in one day? Derek had taken advantage of her. On top of Jim’s betrayal, it was too much.
“Casey?” a knock on her door an hour later brought her out of her tears. This voice was Emily’s. “Are we still getting ready for our Big Little reveal together? I brought the good eye shadow!”
She had totally forgotten. Tonight was the night she learned who her Big in the sorority would be. She picked herself up, determined to finally shower, and put her life back together.
Meanwhile, when Derek got back to his room, he found his brothers waiting for him.
“Honestly, Venturi? You’re exempt from hazing from here on out. That girl was seriously hot.”
“You’re all assholes, you know that?” Derek said.
“Hey,” Eric went from laughter to anger in an instant. “The reason we came to haze your ass today is because you mouthed off to me last night. I don’t care who the slut is, pledges don’t mouth off to brothers.”
“He’s right, man,” Kevin shrugged.
Derek opened his door, retrieved his A+ paper on the Grey Areas of Consent, and slammed it into Eric’s chest.
“Check this out, it might keep you out of jail one day. And if you ever call anyone, especially Casey, a slut again - it’s your ass, brother or not.”
Then he wrenched the door closed in their faces.
“It’s one o’clock in the afternoon, dude,” Sam said as he watched Derek slam the empty beer on the bar. “Wanna slow down a bit?”
“No time to slow down. I’m getting obliterated.” He took Sam’s Heineken and finished that too. “I’ll buy you another.”
“Do you have a drinking problem I should be worried about?”
“Don’t be such a lame ass.”
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Sam looked at Derek like he was crazy. “You were practically singing during the seminar this morning, and now you look like you shouldn’t be around sharp objects.”
“Well,” Derek started. “The brothers are going to haze the shit out of me because I told Eric to go fuck himself.”
“And - I accidentally fucked over - some girl - without meaning to.”
“Well, you do that every week.”
“Not like this. She’s - a different...case.”
“Who is she?”
“You don’t know her,” Derek covered. “She’s older. A sister at KGG.” Not technically a lie, Casey was older than him by eight months. But he was not ready for the added layer of judgement Sam was certain to provide if he revealed her identity.
“We just finished...you know, doing it...before the seminar, and I told her to wait for me. Naked. So we could do it again when I got back.”
“And she did, but Kevin and the brothers must’ve gotten keyes from Nolan, and they came into my room to set up the prank. Something stupid with toilet paper. And this girl - Stacey - thought I had set it up to embarrass her. And yeah, I like to play pranks, but I would never sink that low! Anyway, she didn’t believe me. And now it’s over.”
Derek motioned to the bartender, who set two more beers in front of them. “Thank god this place doesn’t card,” he said.
“Sorry dude. There are other girls. Freshman year isn’t over yet. And then three more years!”
“Yeah, I know there are other girls. Just - not sure I want other girls.”
Sam stared at Derek for a long moment, perplexed. Derek looked back, uncomfortable.
“You like this girl, don’t you? Like, really like her. Like - you want to be her boyfriend.”
“Hey, I’m no one’s boyfriend. Not until well after graduation.”
“Bro,” Sam cocked his eyebrows, unconvinced. “Quality over quantity.” Derek sighed.
“She’s just really hot. And flexible. And she’s got this mouth-”
“Spare me the details, would you? I haven’t seen you so hung up since Sally moved away. You weren’t depressed when Emily dumped you, right?”
“That was mutual,” Derek corrected. “We both realized we were better as friends. Besides, we were only together for like three weeks. Strictly above the belt stuff.”
“You like Stacey. Admit it.”
Derek shrugged, and drank from his beer to keep from answering. But Sam was not letting up.
“Ok, fine. Maybe. I don’t know.”
“Well, don’t give up then. Go get her back.”
“How? She never wants to speak to me again. Which is sort of impossible. I don’t really think she thought that one through.”
Derek realized his mistake and covered quickly. “We’re project partners for philosophy.”
But Sam was miles ahead in his thinking.
“Isn’t the KGG Big Little reveal tonight?”
“Well, I may have thought of a way that you can win favor with the brothers, and also make things even with Stacey.”
Something good at last. President Ali Lark had chosen Casey as her little. Ali was exactly how Casey pictured herself in two years. Pre Law, stylish, kind and well spoken, with her whole life together. At the ceremony, she presented Casey with the gift she had made, a personalized, empty, scrapbook.
“To fill with all our upcoming memories. My Big - your grand big - Katie gave me the same thing when I was a freshman.”
“I love it! Thank you.”
Ali tossed her red hair behind her shoulder. “I knew I wanted you to be my little after the first rush party,” she winked, lowering her voice. “As the president, I’m not allowed to play favorites but - you were my favorite.”
“You have no idea how much this means to me,” Casey said, and hugged Ali tightly.
“Yay! We’re going to have so much fun tonight. I planned a surprise for all the littles. Well, my boyfriend Kevin did, but I really think you’re going to like it.”
Just then, Casey noticed several ADO brothers roaming around the sorority house living room.
“Oh, God. Kevin’s frat isn’t coming here tonight, right?”
“Well, yeah. We always party with the ADO’s.”
“It’s just - I sort of made a fool of myself last night at their party.”
“I didn’t even see you at that party.” Ali linked arms with Casey and started leading her through the living room.
“I got really drunk and started dancing on a table - and stripping.”
“Oh, baby Casey. I’ve done so much worse.”
“Really! Don’t even worry about it, it’s college! We have all made drunken fools of ourselves. Now is the time to act up. Although I can tell acting up isn’t really your thing.”
“Here’s some sisterly advice. Give yourself permission to be in college. To make mistakes, to get a little crazy.”
They found Kevin in the crowd assembled around the staircase. Ali wrapped an arm around his waist, and he reciprocated, then noticed Casey.
“Hey, you’re that girl from earlier -“
“Yep, that’s me,” Casey forced a smile. “The stripper.”
“Yeah, and weren’t you with - ”
“Be nice, Kev,” Ali nudged Kevin with her hip. “She’s my little, which technically makes her your step little.”
Casey shuddered at the word, then concealed it.
“I am being nice!” Kevin said, then reached out to shake Casey’s hand. “Welcome to the family, step sis.”
“Wow. Ok,” Casey shook his hand. She had to laugh at the word choice. The universe was certainly laughing at her.
The lights in the sorority dimmed, and four ADO pledges walked across the top of the stairs, wearing tiny shorts, suspenders over their bare chests, and hot pink bow ties. Casey’s jaw dropped as she took in the sight of Derek, leading the way. Britney Spears started to blair.
The pledges were performing. Dancing like male strippers. Derek at the front of the pack.
“Oh my god, what is he doing?” Casey gasped as Derek pulled the front of his suspenders, and his entire outfit flew off. He wore nothing underneath except a hot pink speedo. The rest of the pledges followed suit.
“You’re not the only one with moves,” Kevin grinned. “Was Venturi’s idea. I don’t usually let the pledges haze themselves, but this was too good. Hey, maybe he was inspired by you!” Ali swatted Kevin, but was laughing and cheering along with the rest of the sisters, several of whom began throwing crumpled ones at the stripping pledges. Casey couldn’t stop blushing.
“Oh my God, can you believe Derek?” Emily had found her way over to where Casey felt herself flatlining.
“No, I-” she was too speechless. Sam had followed closely behind Emily.
“Why aren’t you up there?” Emily asked him coyly.
“We hazed the shit out of Sammie last week,” Kevin explained, throwing his free arm around Sam’s shoulders. “He’s settled up, he’s an official brother.”
“I gotta go,” Casey told the group over the music. “I’ll be back.”
She turned away before they could protest, and weaved through the crowd, seeking a quiet place to reflect.
“Hey, wait up,” Sam trailed after her and caught her arm. “Which of your sisters is Stacey?”
“Stacey?” Casey narrowed her eyes at him.
“Yeah, the girl Derek’s hung up on.”
“I don’t - I didn’t know he was hung up on Stacey.”
“Yeah, that’s why he’s doing this ridiculous strip tease. He thinks embarrassing himself will get her to forgive him for something stupid. All though, I think this is just making him more popular.”
“You’re not wrong,” Casey said, looking around at all the KGG sisters cheering through their own private strip show. The music stopped, and the speedo clad brothers posed. Kevin barged to the front.
“Ladies, this show has been brought to you by ADO’s pledge class of 2010. And they’re here all week. Move out, brothers!”
The boys in their hot pink speedos filed out. Derek turned over his shoulder, gave a parting smirk to Casey, then yanked his speedo off and tossed it into the crowd.
“Why did you do that?” Casey caught Derek as he and his pledge class stepped out into the cool March night, fully clad once again.
“Go on, guys, I’ll catch up,” Derek told his brothers, who continued down the driveway. Then he stepped closer to Casey, pulling her around the side of the house, away from the windows.
“I wanted us to be even. My brothers saw your bits and pieces. Now your sisters have seen mine.”
“Yeah, except you elected to have them see you. I didn’t.”
“Casey. What can I do? How can I make this up to you? Tell me, and I’ll do it. You want me to broadcast my dick to every corner of the world? Fine. You want my blood? I’ll find a needle. You want me to leave you alone forever? It’ll hurt worse than the needle, but I’ll do it.”
“It would hurt you?” she bit her lip.
“Yeah. Of course.”
“I don’t want you hurt.”
“You just don’t want to know me anymore?”
“I can’t not know you, Derek. No matter what we are or what we do to each other, you’re in my life.”
“Do you still believe that I set you up?”
She searched his eyes, suspicious. She couldn’t help it. But in her heart she knew he was being genuine.
“So what do you want then?” he pressed, putting his hands on her shoulders. She didn’t pull from his touch as she expected.
“Well - what do you want?” she found her voice. Derek shrugged, his expression meager, as if he were afraid to let his defenses down.
“I want to see where this goes. I think we owe it to ourselves.”
“Even though it’s complicated?”
“And we don’t have the best track record for getting along?”
“And if it all goes to hell, and we go down in flames, family dinners are going to be really awkward?”
He grinned, regaining his usual air of cockiness. “If we screw it up, you can have custody of the family. Just be forewarned, Edwin is very needy.”
“Der-ek,” she rolled her eyes, shoving him slightly. He caught her hand and pulled her in, kissing her as if his life depended on it. She felt lifted off the ground by his kiss, and sunk her fingers into his hair to keep her feet on the pavement as she kissed him back. When she finally broke away, still feeling as though she floated miles above the sorority house driveway, she grappled with her overflowing thoughts.
“What a bad idea,” she sighed, acknowledging that they were utterly, happily doomed.
“A very good bad idea,” he grinned.
“Let’s just - take things slow,” she suggested. “Keep this on the downlow for a bit? You know, take time to find out what we are without the inevitable judgment and pornhub jokes.”
“I like where your head’s at. An exploration.”
“Lewis?” He offered her his hand.
“Clark?” She laced her fingers between his.
They started walking towards the sidewalk. Together, they beamed bright enough to light up the dark street.
“Oh, and let’s keep our clothes on in public from now on,” Casey said.
“Speak for yourself,” Derek scoffed. “I think’ I’d make a killing as a stripper.”
“No way, you were not that good.”
“I saw you staring, Case.”
“Because your speedo was hot pink!”
“And comfortable. I think I’m gonna keep it.”
“You’re not still wearing it, are you?”
He took her hand, and began leading her in the direction of his dorm. “Let’s go find out.”