I didn’t know if I could fix this. It was our first Valentine’s Day, and he was furious. But I knew those flowers had nothing to do with Trenton and everything to do with T.J. being miserable. He loved me, but we just couldn’t make it work. Trenton didn’t understand because any attempt at an explanation would lead to questions—questions I couldn’t answer. It was hard to be mad at either of them, and easy to be angry at myself for putting us all in this situation.
I walked into the kitchen, pulled out the trash can, picked up the vase, and let it fall straight to the bottom.
Trenton watched me with a grimace, and then his entire face softened. “You didn’t have to do that!”
I rushed over to him and wrapped my arms around his middle, pressing my cheek against his shoulder. Even when I wore heels, he was taller than me. “I don’t want those flowers.” I looked up at him. “I do, however, want you. You’re not the one I’m stuck with because I didn’t get my first choice. If you think you’re in love with two people, you pick the second one, right? Because if I really loved T.J., I couldn’t have fallen in love with you.”
Trenton looked down at me, his eyes heavy with sadness. “In theory,” he said, laughing once.
“I wish you could see yourself through my eyes. Every woman who’s met you wants a shot at you. How could you ever think you’re the consolation prize?”
Trenton touched my jaw with his palm, and then he walked away from me. “Goddammit! I ruined our whole night! I’m such a f**kin’ jerk, Cami! I was stressing because I wanted to get you flowers, but they’re all so damn expensive . . . and then that ridiculously gigantic bouquet shows up. I’m a dick. I’m an unreasonable, selfish, insecure dick who is so scared of losing you. It’s too hard to believe that you’re already mine.” His eyes were so sad, it broke my heart.
“Since we were kids? You never talked to me, though. I didn’t think you knew who I was.”
His face compressed. “We’ve already lost the first woman we ever loved. The thought of going through that again scares the shit out of us.”
My eyes instantly filled with tears, and then spilled over. I gripped his shirt in my fists and pulled him against me, kissing him hard, and then I ran to my room, picked up the small sack and card, and returned to him. I held the sack in front of me.
Trenton blanched. “I am the biggest dickhole in the history of dickholes.”
“I was so worried about the flowers, I forgot your present at the shop.”
“It’s okay,” I said, waving him off. “This is not a big deal.”
He opened the card, read it, and looked up at me. “The card I got you is not this good.”
“Stop. Open your present,” I said, a little giddy.
He reached in, and pulled out something rolled in white tissue paper. He opened it up, and held out the T-shirt in front of him. Still holding it high, he poked his head around. “Your present isn’t this awesome, either.”
He flipped it around, pointing at the Star Wars font. “ ‘May the Schwartz Be with You’? This is the motherfucking pterodactyl of T-shirts!”
Someone knocked on the door, and Trenton and I jumped. I wiped my eyes while Trenton peeked out the peephole. He turned to me, clearly confused.
“Ray’s been trying to call you,” he said, upset. “She and Brazil got into it again. She needs a ride home. I was going to go get her, but she thinks it would go over better if you were there.”
“Shit,” I said, rushing to put on my coat.
I pointed at him. “Don’t start any shit.”
Kody held up his hands as I passed. We all piled into his truck and drove to the Sig Tau house.
Cars lined the street, and the house was decorated with red lights and strings adorned with beer cans and cutout hearts. Some people were milling about outside, but most were running from the street for the warmth of the house.
Trenton helped me down the four feet from Kody’s lifted truck, and we met Kody on the driver’s side. The bass from the music was thumping inside my chest, and it reminded me of the Red. Just as I began to take a step toward the house, Trenton held me back. He was staring at the space in front of Kody’s truck.
“Fuck me,” he said, his head jerking toward the house.
Travis’s Harley was parked in the street, and an empty, half-pint bottle of whiskey was lying next to it, held up by the crisp, dead grass.
It was Abby, and she was hanging over Travis’s shoulder, beating the hell out of him with her fists, and kicking. He stomped over to a car and threw her into the backseat. After a short conversation with a guy in the driver’s seat, Travis crawled into the back with Abby.
“Should we . . . ?” I began, but Trenton shook his head.
“They have been back and forth like this for weeks. I do not want to get caught up in that disaster.”
The car pulled away, and we walked inside. The moment we stepped into the main room, people were staring and whispering to each other.
“Trent!” Shepley said, a wide smile on his face.
“I just saw Travis,” Trenton said, pointing behind him.
Shepley chuckled. “Yeah. They’re going to end up back together tonight.”
Kody took a step. “We’re looking for Brazil and Raegan. Have you seen them?”
Shepley glanced around and then shrugged. “Not for a while.”
We searched downstairs, we searched the main floor, and then went upstairs. Kody didn’t miss a single room, or even the closets. When we got to the balcony, we found Brazil.
“Jason,” I said. He turned around. He nodded at Trenton, but gave Kody a once-over.
“This is a Sig Tau party, guys. Sorry, but you can’t stay.”
Kody turned his shoulder toward Brazil, clearly trying his hardest to keep from attacking him. “Where’s Ray?”
Brazil shook his head and looked down. Then he looked up at me. “I tried to make it work. I really tried this time. I just can’t do clingy.”
Kody leaned in closer, and Trenton put his hand on his chest. “She’s not clingy,” he said through his teeth. “You should feel grateful for the time she wants to spend with you.”
Brazil started to respond, but I held up my hand. “Jason, we’re not here to judge you.”
I jerked my head toward his large frame. “You’re not helping. Shut up.”
“Do you know where she is?” Trenton asked. “We’re just here to take her home.”
He shook his head. “I haven’t seen her.”
We left Brazil alone, taking the stairs to the main floor. We walked outside, and Trenton hooked his arm around me to ward off the cold.