- Nina -
“Please tell me you're joking.” My cousin glanced in my direction just long enough for me to see the pity in her eyes before turning her attention back to the highway.
“Okay,” I lied. “I'm joking.”
“Oh my God, you're serious.” Sadie checked her rearview mirror. “Not one guy? Since college?”
“Is that really so crazy?” I asked, afraid I already knew the answer. “It's only been a semester.”
“What about over break?” She changed lanes so we could take the next exit, which marked the halfway point between our hometown and the college we both attended to escape it.
“Who would I have screwed over break?”
“I don't know.” She shrugged and dropped her hands to the bottom of the wheel. “Blake?”
“That's what I'm saying.”
“He cheated on me, Sadie. I wouldn't give him the satisfaction of thinking I'd forgiven him.” It was a long time ago, but still. When I recalled how foolish I felt the moment I found out, the feeling was as fresh as if it happened yesterday.
“It's not his satisfaction I'm concerned about.”
“Whatever. I'd rather share my bed with a dry piece of toast.” At least a piece of toast would satisfy me on some level, which was more than I could say for the underwhelming sex I’d had with my ex. Sometimes I worried it was me, but it's not like I was asexual. I felt butterflies and attraction and pleasure just fine. It was the feelings beyond that which eluded me. Namely orgasms. I knew from personal research that I was capable of them, but I’d yet to have a guy impress me more than my own right hand.
Maybe the toast thing wasn't such a bad idea. I mean, I hadn't experimented with food at all, and now that my roommate Zoey was staying at her boyfriend's so often…shit, maybe my dry spell was becoming a problem.
“Not that I feel bad for him,” Sadie said. “You'd think dating the prettiest girl in school would be prize enough. But cheating on her? He must've really felt like a big man for the two minutes he lasted.”
I snorted at the thought that Blake might last that long. “I wasn't the prettiest girl in school.”
Sadie cocked her head and narrowed her eyes. “Ehhh. I can only think of two or three girls who came anywhere near-”
“Can you just drop it?” I asked, staring at the clumps of dirty snow along the side of the road. I wasn't in the mood to debate how pretty I was when I felt anything but. Sure, I got plenty of attention from guys, especially since college started, but most of it felt so false, as if the guys I was meeting wouldn't even notice if I swapped another girl into my place when they blinked.
Not that I wanted a relationship. I definitely didn't. But my roommate and her boyfriend were so over-the-moon happy these days that even bad sex was starting to sound more appealing than no sex at all.
“Maybe you need a fuck buddy?”
“Like a hole in the head.”
“Excuse me for trying to help,” Sadie said, changing the radio station when the one we'd been listening to started to go fuzzy. “Seems to me that would solve all your problems.”
“Would it?” I asked. “Enlighten me.”
“Well, you're not interested in dating someone exclusively, right?”
“Right.” Why would I be? Maintaining a relationship was a huge time suck. Besides, I'd been burned so many times I feared I'd become seriously jaded if it happened again.
“And you don't want to have that cheap brand of meaningless, scrappy sex the average dick-swinging undergrad specializes in.”
“So you need a fuck buddy.”
I rolled my eyes.
“Hear me out,” she said, assuming a tone that made it clear she'd forgotten that she was only two years older than me. “You find someone you trust- preferably a hot friend- so you can be honest about what you want in bed.”
“Makes sense,” I said, humoring her.
“Which solves the bad sex issue.”
“Easier said than done, but okay.”
“And it solves the cheating issue because it's not a committed relationship, so you aren't setting yourself up to get duped like you have in the past.”
I sighed. Three times. Three times I'd been cheated on. I thought about the effort I wasted trying to be a good girlfriend. The brownies I baked, the YouTube hair and makeup tutorials I subjected myself to, the Cosmos I studied in secret at Sadie's house. Then I thought about the faces of my exes, about how much sorrier they seemed about getting caught than the fact that they hurt me. “I don't know. Pretty sure you're making it sound way less complicated than it is.”
“I'm really not,” she said. “It works.”
I cocked an eyebrow.
“Which one?” I asked. “I've met so many Lorenzos.”
“No. And of course I remember him. It’s not every day you meet a guy whose hair should have its own TV show.”
“Yeah,” she said. “I wish he had another semester on campus. He was my favorite fuck buddy ever.”
I turned fast in my seat. “You fucked that guy?”
“Can you blame me?”
I shook my head in disbelief. “No. No, I cannot. He was really fine.” I remember being surprised I didn’t melt when he pressed his cheeks to mine the day I met him at Marple’s. To think I thought Sadie was only helping him practice his English. “Are you going to keep in touch?”
“Probably not. It was a classic fuck buddy arrangement. We never asked more of each other than that.”
I don’t know why I was so impressed. Sadie had been a deep well of secrets since we were kids.
“That's why it worked so well,” she said. “No sappy bullshit, no asking about other people, no long talks on the phone.”
“His broken English probably helped with that.”
“Along with my lack of Italian.”
“Do you speak any now?”
“I picked up a few dirty words that should come in handy if I ever want to get an Italian woman into bed.”
“Useful.” I faced forward again.
“How about that guy you're always hanging out with?”
I furrowed my brow. “What guy?”
“The one who's always there when you're out with Zoey and Logan.”
Her eyes lit up. “Yeah, Carter. He's hot.”
“Did he tell you that himself?”
“No.” But I wouldn’t be surprised if he took longer getting ready than I did. “He’s a bit full of himself, though.”
“So? That makes him the perfect candidate. If you choose a fuck buddy who's riddled with insecurities, you're setting yourself up for disaster.”
I squinted out the windshield. That actually did make sense.
“Confidence is key.”
“I don't know if I'm prepared to share someone quite that much.”
“Meaning there isn't a single sorority girl on campus who hasn't thrown herself at him, to put it politely.” I even Googled him once to see if he was an actual celebrity. “Plus, a frat boy fuck boy is that last thing I need.”
“He's your friend though, right? Your hottest, most sexually active friend?”
“I guess.” Were we friends, though? We never hung out alone or contacted each other directly. Then again, I was always happy to see him because he was so funny. Even the shameless ways he hit on me made me laugh out loud. Not that I ever took his advances personally since I was pretty convinced he hit on anything with tits. He must've been successful more often than not, too, if his reputation as a god among frat boys was to be believed…though his hair might've been a factor. Now that I think about it, he was probably the only guy on campus whose hair could've given Lorenzo's mop a run for its money, though Carter's was a much lighter brown.
“Does your silence mean you're thinking about it?”
I shook my head. “I'm really not.”
“How did you meet Lorenzo?” I asked.
“The study abroad office is across from the bookshop where I work.”
“It really is,” she said. “You should come by sometime. I've yet to meet a male exchange student who isn't hungry for a fling with an American girl. Plus, the limited time makes it easy to remember nothing can ever come out of it.”
“Sounds especially desperate.”
“Well, you know what they say about desperate times.” She dropped her eyes when the gas light pinged on.
“Does your mom approve of you using your job to meet eligible foreigners fit for mounting?”
She scoffed. “My mom doesn't approve of a woman's legs ever being anything but crossed.”
“And arms. Don't forget arms.”
“Unless Jesus is involved,” she said. “Then she's probably down with blowjobs and the backdoor and anything else that beautiful bearded man’s been spoiled by in heaven all these years.”
I cringed at the thought of my Aunt Margaret doing anything on her knees besides praying.
“Speaking of hypocrites, how was your break?”
“I think my dad had a good time.”
“Your dad always has a good time,” she said, echoing the sadness in my voice.
“Yeah. Too bad it's always at everyone else’s expense.”
We were quiet for a while after that, each of us staring out at the grey road, which was frosty and barren…much like the inside of my pants had been since I started college.
But maybe Sadie was right. Maybe it didn't have to be that way. Maybe it was possible to have decent sex without the inconvenience of maintaining a relationship or subjecting myself to the constant fear of getting cheated on again.
After all, the fear stemmed from hoping it wouldn't happen. So no hope, no fear, right?
I was surprised she mentioned him, especially since I'd never really thought of him that way before. Why would I? He was everything that made me want to run a mile: fratastic, narcissistic, a known womanizer.
On the other hand, I had yet to meet a woman who didn't see something in him.
So maybe it was me.
Maybe I wasn't looking hard enough.