A sense of desperation filled me as Beck just stared, his mouth set in a firm line. Suddenly I felt suffocated by everything I hadn’t done yet—I was sick of playing it safe, of being the quiet one who never tried anything and kept from rocking the boat at all costs. I didn’t want to be boring, and I didn’t want to be afraid. I wanted to jump into the fog, not knowing where it was going to lead me. I wanted to forget about who I was in high school, shake off my gloom over my mutual breakup with Miles, and have the adventurous college experience that other people my age were having.
But I wasn’t delusional enough to think I could pull it off by myself—that was like the blind leading the blind. Or whatever it was when there was just one struggling clueless person without a life preserver to fall back on.
Beck sighed and said, “Okay. I’ll help however I can.”
A squeal escaped my lips as I hugged him. “Thanks. You’re the best.”
“Uh-huh.” Beck liked to act tough, and I’ll admit when I first met him, I was totally intimidated by the height and muscles and natural charm. My knees actually wobbled a little the first time he aimed his smile at me, despite my previous assertions that I’d never understood the attraction to cocky jocks.
Funny enough, when I’d been assigned as his lab partner I’d also thought I was going to have to do most of the work—not that I bought for a second Beck had actually thought that. He was smarter than I expected, not to mention friendlier, and after a couple weeks of doing experiments and homework together, I was less focused on the muscles and perfectly messy golden hair, and more focused on how well we worked together. He was so clearly out of my league on every level, I was surprised at how easily we became friends.
When I had a bad day, he knew how to joke it away, and when Miles and I broke up, Beck had helped take my mind off it. Movie and ice cream Sundays had become one of our traditions, and after a long week of studying, it was the perfect way to unwind. I knew that most of his other days and nights were filled with hockey and girls, and sometimes I still marveled that he set apart an evening for us to hang out and fight over which movie to watch next.
“Okay, mister a-year-older-and-wiser, what are the things I need to experience to make this whole college experience complete?” I pulled the notebook closer to me, and wrote the one I already knew I desperately needed:
- New edgier look
“I figure I should start slow and work up to the big stuff. What’s a good drinking goal? I mean, I don’t really want to wake up somewhere and not know how I got there. That’s too far. But I wanna get, like, really drunk. See what it’s like. And I want to do something at a party that’s bold. More than just sipping from a red cup all night, but not embarrassing myself to the point I’ll never live it down.”
Beck ran a couple of fingertips along his jaw. “How about, ‘Do a keg stand?’ Gets you drunk and grabs attention. Two birds, one stone.”
- Do a keg stand (Remember to not wear a skirt that night.)
I pointed at the item I’d just added. “I don’t want that much attention, and I’m pretty sure trying to hold down my skirt so I don’t flash everyone while trying to drink would be too much stress. Hopefully, if I do one thing at a time, I won’t have a panic attack over it.”
Two creases formed between Beck’s eyebrows, and I could see the doubt flickering across his features. I put my hand on his arm. “I want to do this. But I’m also me. Just help me figure out a happy medium. And a place to do a keg stand and get super drunk. Do you know of any parties in the near future?”
“Pretty sure we could find a number of options next Friday or Saturday.”
“Ooh, that’ll be perfect, because it gives me time to get my new edgy look in order. We’ll go shopping this week.”
“We’ll?” Beck’s lip curled. “Don’t you know? Guys don’t like shopping.”
“I think we’ve already established that I need help figuring out what guys like. That’s why you’re helping me, remember?” Which led me to decide that number three should be something bold involving a guy.
- Go to a party and flirt with a total stranger
Beck read over my shoulder and made a hmm noise.
“What?” I asked. “That’s wussy in college, isn’t it? It needs to be more than flirt. Oh, jeez, this is going to be tricky, because I’m really bad at that kind of thing. My brain and my mouth get disconnected when I see hot guys and then I just sorta blink or say stupid things.”
“You’ve uh…” Beck rubbed the back of his neck. I so rarely saw him flustered that anxiety automatically tightened my stomach. He didn’t think I could pull it off. Maybe he was right, and there was no amount of help that’d turn me into a girl who could snag a guy. Miles was just a fluke—I bet he wasn’t even so much attracted to me as to my brain and my ambition. “If this is some quest to lose your virginity, I’m out, Ly. There’s too high a risk of it going badly, and then I’ll feel responsible and—”
“No.” Heat flooded my cheeks. “I dated Miles for over two years. We…you know. This ‘quest’ is about having goals that have nothing to do with grades or a future career. My relationship with Miles is a perfect example of having a nice, safe relationship but not a lot of surprises, or excitement, or…passion. Not that…” I shook my head. How’d we even get here?
Beck patted my knee. “It’s okay. I don’t need details. I just thought I should check before fully diving into this harebrained scheme of yours.
I crossed out my original number three.
- Go to a party and flirt with a total stranger
- Make out with someone I don’t know (exact level of making out TBD as the kissing happens)
“Better?” I asked.
“Better,” Beck said, a crooked smile with a hint of mocking me on his lips.
“I know you think I’m being silly, but I want to know what it’s like to go out and flirt and kiss a guy without having any expectations—no steady dating, no getting serious. That way I’m open to whatever adventure awaits around the corner.” The more I thought about it, the surer I became that this was a brilliant plan. I set the notebook on the coffee table. “I’ll come up with more items later, then you can help me modify them as needed. First things first. Get your laptop so I can go online and look up hairstyles.”
“Make me some pancakes.”
I smacked Beck’s arm. “You can’t demand I make you pancakes. That’s against my feminist values.”
Beck swiped his hand in front of him, as if he were clearing the air of the madness I dared to put out there. “Wait? You can order me around, but I”—he touched two fingers to his chest—“can’t do it back?”
“Now you’re getting it.” I kicked off my shoes and crossed my legs on his cushy couch, spreading out my skirt so everything was covered. Now that he’d mentioned food, my stomach was starting to rumble. “Let’s order pizza.”
Beck made a face like I’d suggested eating roasted worms or something. “Not tomato and green pepper. I can sorta understand the peppers, but there’s already tomatoes in the sauce. Why order more?”
I sighed. “We’ve been over this a hundred times, and like those past hundred times, it’s because it involves different textures and seasonings, and I just like it, so I shouldn’t have to justify my choice. I don’t ask you to explain your carnivore madness.”
“Because it needs no explanation.”
“Just get it on half like we always do.”
He was already pulling out his phone, most likely getting ready to dial up our usual pizza place—I hoped anyway. Now that pizza had been mentioned, my stomach would be happy with nothing else. “But then you never eat all of your half,” he complained. “And the next day I have to pick off the disgusting tomatoes and eat it while wishing there were some meat on there.”
“Your life is tragically hard. Deal with it and bring me your laptop.” I flashed him an over-the-top grin. “Please with pepperoni on top? I’ll even let you add sausage to my half of the pizza.”
“And she learns how to compromise,” he said in a loud, announcer-type voice. “Check off that item.”
“Yeah, I think that’s the opposite of being bold.”
“Ah, but it is what guys want.” He grinned and nudged me with his elbow. “You’re gonna be a pro at this in no time.”
I certainly hoped so. Because it was also going to require using the credit card I got in case of emergency ONLY.
Right now my life was in a state of disaster, though, and if I weren’t mistaken, that was pretty much the same as an emergency.
Thank you so much for reading the third chapter of GETTING LUCKY NUMBER SEVEN!