Chapter 27

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Zach

I had to get out of the apartment. I called Brett and he met me for drinks Friday night. We picked a pub because I couldn't stand the idea of a crowded bar. I wanted to sit, eat a little food, drink and forget about my shitty life.

I'd drained my first beer by the time Brett showed up. I had a booth and he took the seat across from me.

"We winning?"

"I haven't been watching," I said, and motioned for the server to come over. I ordered another beer and Brett did the same.

"They've been pretty good so far, but it's still early days. And the division they're in? Brutal!"

I nodded and absently played with the peanut bowl. Brett took off his jacket and set it off to the side. He then leaned over the table and stared hard at me.

"What the fuck is wrong?"

I massaged my temples and groaned. "She wanted to see the video."

"Do not tell me you showed it to her."

"I panicked. Zach Walker fucking panicked. I didn't know what to do. She had me on the spot, she caught me off guard and the next thing I knew, I was going to get it."

Brett's blue eyes bugged out. "Fuck, no!"

"I'm going to lose her."

The server returned with our beers. We both stopped talking and ordered burgers. I'd barely eaten the last few days and was famished.

"She'll forgive you." Brett paused. "What was on the tape?"

I looked at him, wondering if it was genuine curiosity or something more sinister like something he'd gossip about later. I could tell by his earnest expression that it was the former.

"It was like all the other ones those guys took. She was giving a bunch of guys head. I took the video."

Brett squinted his eyes in confusion. "Why'd you keep it?"

"I don't know. Cuz I'm a fucking idiot."

"I never understood why those guys took videos of that shit. I refused to be part of it, but they still let me in."

I let out a sarcastic laugh. "Because you had to do other shit. There's always a price to pay."

He nodded in acknowledgement, but his price had nothing to do with videos and girls. "I'm not trying to piss you off, but I'm surprised you let that shit go down."

I took a huge gulp of beer. "Here's the thing: if I didn't do it, I wasn't getting in the frat. Can you imagine the humiliation I would have faced had I not gotten in? And those guys wanted to fuck around with Bianca and she wouldn't do it. I was the bait."

Brett's blue eyes stared at me hard. "So tell me, was it worth it?"

It was hard looking away from him. The guy who was usually an idiot when it came to girls, and life in general, had suddenly said something smart—smarter than anything I could've come up with.

"No. If I could do things differently, I'd change a lot."

Brett laughed. "No, you wouldn't. The only thing you'd change was that you'd destroy the evidence."

He was probably right.

"Now what?" I asked.

"Gifts? Chicks dig gifts. Jewelry? A nice necklace? Some bling?"

Okay, the brief moment of intelligence had passed. "I'm past gifts."

"First, give her some time. Chicks need time to think. They like to do a lot of thinking. Maybe too much. In the meantime, make sure she knows what she's missing. Walk around without your shirt on."

My face crunched up and my mouth fell open. "What?"

"Make her miss what you got."

I sighed. I'd get better advice from a fortune cookie. "Any other ideas?"

"Flowers. Roses. Like dozens of them. Put them everywhere. And fancy chocolates."

"Any other cliché you can come up with? You're actually lifting my mood."

Brett scowled. "I'm giving you solid ideas."

"Right, okay. I think my plan for now is to leave her alone."

Brett drank his beer. "Good plan. It's not like she's going anywhere. The chick digs you."

I huffed at that. "She digs me so much that she's going home for the holidays."

"Right, to the middle of nowhere. You worried she's going to meet some guy in the middle of a forest? In winter? You've got nothing to worry about."

I finished my second beer and when the server showed up with our food, I ordered another. I poured ketchup on my fries and decided to bring up Morrow again.

"I'm worried about that guy at her tennis club."

"Why? The guy is a loser."

I had to smile at that. Brett didn't even know him. "But now they are working together, more closely than ever. I can't help but think this is the perfect time for him to swoop in."

"I hear you, but no way! She loves you. Why are you being so stupid?"

"Because she's mad."

Brett shook his head. "I know, but she's isn't like other chicks. She's like those animals that mate for life. Pigeons? Penguins? Porcupines? Whatever."

I tilted my head and pondered that one. "I get what you're saying, or I think I do, but I've never seen her so disgusted."

Brett motioned for me to move in closer to him. "Listen to me, and listen hard. She loves you. She isn't going to dump you. Stop worrying. You're acting like a total girl. Like I said, walk around showing off the abs and she'll be all over you in no time."

We finished our burgers and our stupid conversation was making me feel a little better. We sat back and watched the game and I felt a little hope, as naïve as that was.

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