Still Jaded

Page 15


Miss Connors patted me on the shoulder as she smiled. "I will find someone that is a good fit for you. I promise. And this is a good thing, Sheldon. I'm proud of you."
"I feel like a two year old. Put a star next to my name."
Miss Connors ignored me as she opened her office door. "I will have a name for you by Tuesday. I promise. And it'll be someone who you'll trust and who I'll trust."
I started past her but turned back around. "Are you moving? Is that why you don't want to be my counselor?"
"I'm not moving. It really is because I feel you need someone new."
New could go to hell. I didn't want someone new.
"Fine," I growled. I stepped out into the hallway and stalked away. As I neared the bathroom, I looked back once and was surprised to see that Miss Connors had already closed her door. That was new. In the past she would have waited until I looked back and then given me a reassuring smile, but her door was closed now.
I didn't like it. That was new.
I turned around and gasped in relief when I saw Corrigan. I smacked him on the shoulder. "Don't do that to me."
Corrigan caught my hand and squeezed it before he let it go. Then he chuckled. "Sorry. I just wanted to talk to you and to ask if everything's okay."
"You and me. Are we okay?"
"Why wouldn't we be?"
Corrigan's face twisted in frustration. "I don't know, Sheldon. Maybe because I dealt you a low blow last night and you physically attacked me. Maybe that's why." He rolled his eyes. "I have no idea."
I drew upright. "We're not going to be okay if you keep that attitude."
He rolled his eyes. "Look. I didn't get to say what I wanted last night. We had an audience, you know."
Oh boy, did I know.
I stiffened as I waited.
He took a deep breath. "I'm sorry about Grace. I really am. I did think I had feelings for her when I slept with her, but afterwards I knew it wasn't right. I did it because things were screwed up with my girlfriend at that time. And it's no excuse. I was a dickhead."
"That apology isn't for me. You should say that to Grace."
"I know." Corrigan hung his head and stuffed his hands in his front pockets. Right then and there he wasn't the playboy that an entire campus already loved. He was my best friend, and I saw his vulnerability. He wasn't apologizing for what he really wanted to apologize for. He looked back up. His green eyes were pierced with sadness and regret. "I'm sorry, okay? We haven't been cool for a while, and I hope we are again."
A knot formed in my throat. I tightened my hold on my purse and fought back the tears because I knew he meant more than just this summer. "Are you coming to my party tonight?"
Corrigan cupped my shoulder and held it for a moment. We stood there like that for another second, neither of us spoke, but then his hand dropped. His shoulders hunched and he looked away. "Yeah, I'm coming to your party tonight."
"Good." I blinked and brushed away a tear. "I have to go. I've got to order the food and kegs."
"Sparky's." I gave him a tight nod for confirmation before I turned the corner. I cursed underneath my breath when I saw how my arms trembled. I could barely hold onto my purse but kept walking until I noticed someone standing in front of me. I looked up and saw one of the reporters from the other night. She swung a handheld camera towards me and flipped it on. "Sheldon Jeneve, what's wrong? Why are you crying? What's upset you?"
I shouldered past her, but she followed. "Is this because Guadalupe arrived at LAX two hours ago? I heard rumors that she's going to attend Bryce's first Suns game. Does that concern you at all? Is that why you left Spain, because of her?"
I didn't stop when I heard Corrigan's shout. As I pressed through the doors, I heard a scuffle behind me before the reporter cried out, "Let go of me."
"Leave her alone."
"Are you her new boyfriend?"
Then the door closed behind me. I didn't hear Corrigan's response.
Kegs. Check. All six of them.
Food. Check. Scheduled to be delivered from Sparky's thirty minutes before the first people would arrive.
Place. Check. Mine. Obviously.
So what else did I need for my party? People. I didn't need to worry about that.
I sighed, smoothed my hands down my pants, and tried to relax. I was fine. Everything was fine. Everything would be fine.
Then the gate buzzed, and I cursed while glancing at the clock. The party wasn't supposed to start for another two hours, but no one would come until two hours after that. People should know the unspoken party etiquette of arrivals. As I checked the cameras, I saw the sorority girl who'd propositioned me earlier. I pressed the button to open the gate. A moment later, she was on my porch and I opened the door. "If you're hoping for secret time with Bryce or Corrigan, showing up early ain't the way to get it. They aren't here."
Cadence ran a hand down the sleek ponytail she had pulled high on the back of her head. Instead of the red polo shirt from earlier, she wore a white cashmere sweater that draped over a custom-fitted jean skirt and sparkly white sandals that matched her hoop earrings. She smiled, her lips frosted in pink. "I'm not here for them, and, despite what Leah said, we don't want to use you to raise our social standing within the Greek system."
Her eyelid twitched. It was slight and I might've missed if I hadn't been studying her, but I caught it. The girl was lying, and she was damn good at it, so I smiled back. "I know that you're lying, and you know that I know that you're lying. So let's dispense with the bullshit, and you tell me what you really want."
She opened her mouth to deliver another sweet lie.
I interrupted her. "Honey, I'm not someone you want to piss off and I'm going to get pissy if you keep insulting my intelligence."
Her mouth closed with a snap, and she reevaluated me. I thought she would've figured me out from her second assessment that morning, but apparently she hadn't. She did now as she smirked. A different look flashed over her face, as if a veil had been lifted. It revealed someone calculative. "It's not personal, but you have connections that we want. The girls want you to rush our sorority."