"Tell me, Lucas. I wanna know."

"It's about the party. I've been trying to make it up to you so I have to tell you the whole truth. Nash implored me not to say anything. If I tell you, he'll never talk to me again."

I reached for his hand, squeezing it. "If your friendship with him hangs on the thread of a little secret then you deserve better. Besides, I already know you both had sex. You should know I don't hold it against you."

"Except I know you think it's all my fault. That I stooped low enough to trick him into drinking Everclear without him realizing it. That it was my idea to have sex with him. Well, nobody gave me enough credit. He was as much to blame as I was."

"What're you saying?"

"I'm saying, he knew the drink I gave him was strong. In fact, I only intended to get one for myself but he asked me to get him a drink too. I mean, sure I didn't disclose the brand, type, ingredients and nutrition label of the damned drink but he knew it was strong. He drank it anyway. Admittedly, it was my idea to kiss him but... then he said he wanted to have fun in private. I'm guessing you can infer the rest of the story."

"Were you two drunk?" I wondered.

"We were, but we weren't too far gone until we actually had sex. It just took us time to remember which is why he thought it was all my fault."

I let his hand go and leaned back. "And I stupidly jumped to blame only you and practically left him off the hook."

"I was okay with that and I still am. I don't care who you blame; I'm very sorry for hurting you."

"No." I shook my head. "Nash and I were never together. You and he had every freedom to have sex. The sooner you two stop acting like you ripped out my heart and betrayed me, the sooner you can get back to your lives. Listen to me. I was simply attracted to Nash because he's good looking. Whatever I felt for him wasn't solid or concrete enough to become anything more."

"So what're you saying?" Lucas asked me.

"That I don't care. Lucas, you're my friend and that won't change. As for Nash, his wrongdoing is lying to me, not having sex with you. Still, I don't care. Because trust me, I have far much more to worry about than a boy who's lying to me and playing you. Like my own boyfriend, for example."

Lucas nodded. "Thanks for not hating me."

"I shouldn't have blamed you in the first place." I noticed tears in his eyes and I felt bad for him. Something must've been wrong-something greater than he was willing to share. "You're not okay, are you?"

"I'm alright. Nash knows some of my secrets and he promised to be there for me. I don't know if he'll stick around and I still like him." He wiped his eyes. "I'm pathetic; go ahead and say it."

I rolled my eyes. "Please. I thought I'd never be able to speak up for myself or say what's on my mind. Now look at me. I'm happy. I'm perfectly sure you'll be happy too. Maybe someone will come along and sweep you off your feet. Maybe you won't even need a guy to realize how awesome you are."

"You think I'm awesome?"

"On your good days, yes."

I got a laugh out of him which made me proud. At least I got to ease his mind for a few seconds. "Who is this mystery boy that you've fallen in love with?"

"Well he's to remain a mystery. And I don't know if I love him."

"Sure you do. Isn't that why you're barely ever home?" Lucas smiled. "I wanna know, has he popped you yet?"

I regretted even knowing the meaning behind his question. The blush was expected and inevitable. "No," I answered with embarrassment. Thanks to Lucas, I couldn't help myself but think of what it would be like to do that with David.

"Is he cute?"

My thoughts were unfortunately disrupted and my fantasy short lived. "He's perfect," I answered.

"Then why haven't you guys screwed?" He exclaimed.

"There's more to us than lust. He respects me. A true gentleman. He asks my permission to kiss me sometimes which I think is polite and funny."

"That's good. I hope your relationship is long and happy."

If I talked too much about David, I knew I would break down within a millisecond. So I redirected the subject. "What about you? When were you your brightest?"

"What do you mean?"

I shrugged, relaxing against my pillows. "Haven't you ever been in love?"

He huffed bitterly. "Didn't you hear Trey? I give my heart to anyone who pays me a few seconds of attention. God, I hate him but he was right. Guess it's my fatal flaw."

"That can't possibly be your fault. Your family's awful toward you; of course you'll try to find affection elsewhere. I totally would," I empathized. "We're humans. We crave love and some form of a bond with others. That's just who we are." I faced him. "I'm sure there's someone who stands out from all the rest, isn't there?"

Lucas's lips tugged upward as he fought the smile creeping onto his face.

"There it is!" I pointed at him. "Who is he? I wanna know everything."

"Fine. He is Lucien Deveraux. He's French, and beautiful. Toxic even."

I was intrigued. "How'd you two meet?"

He laughed, but it was a dry, humorless laugh. "Church. See, Lucien's family is Catholic like mine. He was quite religious but I never really grasped my family's beliefs. He was truly conflicted because he thought being with me was sinful yet exciting. He described me as an adventure -he called it expérience passionnante. Thing is, Lucien loved me but he loved his God more. I can't hate him for that."

"What happened?"

"He said he couldn't be with me anymore. That... He was afraid of being condemned and something about being shunned-who knows? I stopped listening or else I'd have separated my own head from my shoulders. I tried to get him to see that what we had wasn't anything to be ashamed of. And I could see in his eyes that he wanted to be with me. Soon after, he went back to France. All I got was a letter saying that leaving was for our own good. I never wrote back."

"How long ago was this?"

"Not long. A year ago, maybe? Believe it or not... Lucien was my first and only love. Everyone else were just one-night stands or romantic flings. I had crushes here and there but nothing as serious as my love for Lucien."

"You should write him back," I suggested. "I mean... What if he misses you?"

"I doubt it. He's either still holding onto his faith or he's found someone better enough to make him denounce it all and scamper off into the sunset with."

"I dare you. Besides, he sent you a letter. He would've sent you a text if he couldn't care less about you."

Lucas looked me in the eye. "I assure you; he doesn't care. He was my first time and he literally told me that he couldn't forgive himself for fornicating. And when it came time to confess our sins, sleeping with me was one of his confessions. He told me himself. I can't write to a boy who cared so little about the sacred 'gift' of my virginity." He rubbed his eyes.

I sighed. "I'm sorry."

"It's fine. Just wish he loved me enough to stay."

"Did you hold on to the letter?"

"Well... Yeah." He looked guilty and his face flushed. "It still smells like him. And it's in his handwriting, plus he referred to me as his love. It kinda makes me feel like I still matter."

"Of course you matter, Lucas. To me too, you know. And I'm gonna help you find a way to stay in college so you can prove to everyone who ever doubted you that your future holds bright."

********

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