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By:Kim Linwood

Chapter 1: Angie

“Come on, Angie, you’ve totally got this. Just talk to him!”

Cassie’s grip on my arm is so tight it hurts, but she refuses to let go. Her words come a million miles per second which is a lot to handle on any regular day. Tonight, it’s like dodging machine gun bullets. Vibrating with excitement, she acts like she has more at stake in this than I do, and that’s saying something. My stake’s pretty freaking big, after all. She yells into my ear, her voice carrying clearly over the loud dance music, “I think he’s perfect.”

Clubs aren’t really my scene. Why blow out your eardrums when you can curl up with a good book and a cup of tea? They’re so chaotic, with all the noise and lights everywhere. I mean, I’m not against going out or anything, but I don’t really keep up with what’s hot either, so by the time I know the songs, they’re already completely last year. Dancing to music you don’t know isn’t nearly as much fun as it’s cracked up to be.

This is such a bad idea. Only Cassie would think of something this stupidly insane and somehow manage to make it sound reasonable. I think she does it through attrition, wearing my sensibilities down until there’s nothing left. It makes her too freaking persuasive for her own good. Or for mine.

But, what Cassie wants, Cassie gets. I used to try to resist, before I really got to know her, but I gave that up a long time ago. Totally not worth the trouble. She just goes ahead and does what she wants anyway.

I glance cautiously at the guy she’s singled out, swallowing nervously and hoping he won’t notice. He’s crazy hot, like get your panties wet just at the sight hot. Wild, spiky black hair, chiseled jaw. Broad-chested and narrow-hipped, he wears a black t-shirt that looks painted onto his sculpted torso. Tall and muscled, he could’ve been a romance cover model. I don’t see how she thinks I have a chance with him. He can have his pick of any girl in the club, so why would he even look in my direction? I wouldn’t. This is dumb.

“Cassie, I can’t do this. What’s Paul going to think?” There’s another reason why this is a bad idea. Paul’s my boyfriend. Tall, tattooed and obnoxious—in a sexy sort of way, mostly—, he’s a far cry from my structured way of doing things, my carefully kept schedules and planning notebook. He’s my little rebellion against my own way of life. I love that about him, or at least I like it a lot.

I know it won’t last, what with me going off to college in the fall, but he’s said he’ll come with me and bring his motorcycle. His hog, as he calls it. I don’t know, maybe it’s for real. All I know is that he’s really good-looking, and somehow still decided to get together with me. That puts him miles ahead of any other guy I’ve been interested in.

He’s so far out of my league, though. Not as far as the hunk of man right in front of me, but honestly I’m just waiting for Paul to wise up and realize he’s dating a dork. Cassie says he’d be an idiot if he did, but as my bff, she’s supposed to say those things. What’s she going to say? That I’m a nerd and our days are numbered?

Lately, he’s been pushing for us to go all the way. God, listen to me. It’s like I’m back in middle school. Fine, he wants to fuck me, and I’ve been stalling because I’ve never done it before. I’m terrified that he’ll think I’m a prude or hate it with me since I don’t know what I’m doing. So that’s why I’m now a part of Cassie’s Big Master Plan To Get Me Laid ™.

She stares at me with big eyes, like I’m crazy. “Paul must never know! This is for the both of you. The first time always sucks. Get it out of the way with someone you don’t care about.” She nods her head in the hot guy’s direction. “Like him.”

Someone I don’t care about. If I really cared about Paul, would I have let her talk me into this at all? Wouldn’t it feel more wrong? No, I do. I have to. Otherwise, what would be the point?

My gaze follows her nod, and I realize hot guy’s looking right at me. Our eyes lock, and his narrow while mine go wide. Oh crap. The corners of his mouth turn up in a confident smirk that makes me tingly just as my stomach drops. If he can affect me like that from over there...

It’s like he hears my thoughts. He pushes off the wall by flexing his back and walks confidently in our direction, his gaze never wavering from mine. My voice is a panicked hiss, but while I’m whispering to Cassie, I can’t tear my eyes away from him. “He’s coming this way. What do I do?”

“Smile, hon.” She nudges me with her elbow. “At least try not to look like a deer trapped in headlights.”