It was a good idea at the time.
Actually, no it wasn’t. Alex was the one saying from the beginning that she didn’t want to go to the party. Sydney was the one who insisted, telling Alex “it’s your senior year! Live a little!”
It’s true, Alex’s college experience up till now has been atypical of your average sorority girl. For one, she isn’t much for parties. For another, she had a high school sweetheart across the country in California, at least until two months ago. Somehow, she and Servando had made it work long-distance since graduating and going their separate ways for college.
Communication was key, and they were good at that, but it was far from effortless and required much more of Alex than of Serv. It’s not that he’s selfish, but Alex is a giver, and she thought of Servando first in almost everything she did, even when it stood in her way. She had left far more than her fair share of frat parties and socials early, skipped grab-a-date functions with guys who were friends because of how Servando might feel (not that she ever broached the topic with him), and turned down road trips with friends to away games in favor of visiting Serv or being able to Skype him privately.
She was dreading going home for the summer where usually she would have been thrilled. When she showed up to his house to have dinner with him and his family (which had become like her second family), they both knew it was over. They dragged it out another few weeks before finally breaking it off. Just because it was mutual didn’t mean it didn’t hurt. Alex still cries herself to sleep some nights missing him, but those nights have become few and far between.
Sydney was a supportive friend throughout the summer as Alex dealt with the breakup, but when they started talking about plans for the new year, Syd was all business.
In their group messages with Tobin, Alex’s best friend from freshman year and their third roommate in the suite they'd be sharing at the ADPi house, Syd expressed her unwillingness to let the two of them and their “hot asses” be “lame” and “antisocial” all year long.
In reality, Tobin and Alex are anything but antisocial, just not in the way Syd likes. She had been co-socials chair for two years, and now she is on the executive board for the sorority. Tobin, on the other hand, had to be forced into taking a leadership role when the intramurals chair stepped down last year after being called to standards for inappropriate behavior at a social function. She is a natural leader, but sometimes her humility makes her less likely to just go for it instead of letting others step up.
From the beginning, Alex’s favorite part of Greek life has been philanthropy, so her role as philanthropy chair has her heavily involved in not only ADPi’s annual charitable events, but also recruiting girls to participate in other fraternities’ events.
Syd secretly relished Alex’s role because it forces her to communicate with boys, but the nature of the role typically means the boys she communicates with are the nice guys who have long-term girlfriends or who would never try anything with Alex for whatever reason, no matter how stunning, smart, and hilarious she is (Syd doesn't judge).
This year would be different, Syd vowed. And she wouldn't waste any time making it so.
Which is why, against her will and every cell in her body screaming at her to stay in and watch chick flicks at the house with the usual non-partying suspects, Alex is standing in the foyer of Alpha Tau Omega, sipping a mostly cold Corona as Syd flirts her ass off with guys who know they don't stand a chance and Tobin gets recruited to a game of beer pong.
“Hey, Alex, right?”
She looks up to see a guy she faintly recognizes, but she can’t place him. An ATO, she feels safe guessing.
“Derek,” he says. “Sorry, didn’t mean to be creepy. I’m the president of ATO, so it’s kind of my responsibility to know your name. You do, uh, philanthropy stuff, right?”
“You got it,” Alex says, smiling. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“The pleasure is all mine,” he says, shaking her hand firmly. He looks around, sticking his hands in his pockets. Alex notices his thumbs are sticking out, and she thanks her psychology classes for the knowledge that such body language says that he’s confident, not that she’s surprised. “I take it you don’t come to these parties often.”
“What gave it away?”
“Well, for one, you’re drinking a lukewarm beer,” he says. “And you haven’t budged from this spot since your friends left you.”
“This is all I could find,” she laughs, lifting the bottle.
He takes it from her, shaking his head. “That’s because the good stuff is upstairs. Come on, I’ll hook you up.”
She follows him upstairs, where she sees Tobin killing it on the pool table, apparently having already kicked enough guys’ asses in beer pong to move on to the next.
“Do you want me to make you something?” he asks, loudly over the speakers blasting the latest from Selena Gomez. He walks behind the bar as she slides onto an empty stool. “I know you’re not supposed to let guys you don’t know do that, but I mix a killer drink.”
“How about you make enough for two and we can split it?”
“Sounds good,” he says, smiling. She watches as he pours a mixture of vodka, rum, gin, and triple sec over ice. “Hey, where’s the tequila?”
“You know my secret, then,” he says.
“Come on, it’s a Long Island iced tea. I’ve known how to make that since I was 15.”
“Fifteen, huh?” he asks, shaking in the sour mix before finally adding tequila and covering the shaker to mix it all up. “Not exactly what I expected from you.”
“And what did you expect?”
“From the girl who’s had a boyfriend since high school?” he asks, pouring the cocktail into two tall glasses.
“I never told you that.”
He reddens, but he doesn’t falter. “I might have bent the truth a bit,” he says. “It is my job to know a lot of the girls, but I take an interest in some more than others. Like the Preview staffer I had the world’s biggest crush on my freshman year.”
“No way, you were in my group?” she asks, laughing. She had been an orientation leader the summer before her sophomore year, which meant for at least the first few months she had to wave and make friendly conversation with freshmen she had no recollection of, but who felt like they knew her intimately. It made for a lot of Facebook friends whose names she still doesn’t recognize.
“I was,” he says. “My session was toward the end of July, but I definitely don’t expect you to remember.”
“Yeah, I don’t remember anyone really,” she says. “But I’m sure I would have been more than fine with you crushing on me.”
“Lost cause,” he says, pouring a tiny bit of Coke into their glasses before passing it across the bar. “You know, boyfriend and all.”
“You? Or me?” she teases. “Because mine’s out of the picture.”
“You, definitely you,” he laughs. “I don’t have—no boyfriends for me either.”
“Lucky me, then,” she says, lifting her drink to clink against his. “Cheers.”
His body language is flirty, but he doesn’t pull any of the typical frat guy moves to find reasons to touch her or make her feel small. He’s being—dare she say it?—respectful, and to Alex, that’s more enticing than anything else he could say or do.
That’s why she feels totally confident and comfortable doing what she does next, lifting herself onto her toes and placing a perfectly manicured hand on his neck as she whispers in his ear. “So, you’re president, right? Does that mean you have some sort of presidential suite around here?”
“I might,” he says. “But isn’t this the part where your friends drag you away because I’m bad news?”
“I don’t think you’re bad news,” she says. “They’re busy anyway. I can take care of myself.”
“I can see that.”
“But I don’t see why you can’t help,” she teases.
He finally smiles, showing his perfect white teeth, which glow against his perfectly tanned skin. In any other situation, Alex, Syd, and Tobin would have made fun of him for being a living, breathing Ken doll, but now all Alex can think about is how those teeth would feel biting her lip.
Derek takes her hand, leading her up the stairs another level to where the guys live. They walk to the end of the hall, and he opens a door to reveal the nicest room in any fraternity house she’s ever seen—not that she’s seen too many firsthand.
She doesn’t have time to take it in before he’s closing the door and pushing her against it, his lips on hers. Her hands quickly find his hair, and she opens her mouth, granting his tongue entrance. His hands grip her hips, and he lifts her easily so her legs wrap around his waist, her back pinned to the door.
“Bed,” she manages.
“Are you sure?”
“Are you going to question it?”
“I guess not,” he says, setting her down. Alex removes her tank top, and Derek seems to lose his breath.
“Been a while, has it?” she teases.
“Yeah, uh, no,” he says, not seeming to even register her question. “I mean, kinda. Your body is just. Wow.”
Alex blushes, resisting the urge to cross her arms over her chest. Servando had always appreciated her body, but after several years, he wasn't making those comments anymore. It feels good to know Derek won't be taking this for granted.
Derek comes to his senses and steps forward to kiss her again, this time reaching to unbutton her shorts.
“Wait,” she says. “Do you have something?”
“Yeah, yeah, of course,” he says, scrambling to his dresser, where he pulls out a box of condoms. “Good?”
“Perfect,” she says, shimmying her shorts down her legs. She perches herself on his bed, ready for Derek to make the next move. He carries the box to his nightstand and climbs on top of her, taking his time to kiss her everywhere he can reach.
Alex lets herself relax, closing her eyes as she takes it all in. She's liked sex for as long as she's been having it, but her only experience has been with Serv. When they broke up, she thought whoever came next would feel like a betrayal, but this feels right.
From what she's heard from friends about one night stands, they usually don't make you feel this way: sexy and appreciated and even empowered. For a split second as he removes her underwear and rips open the condom package, she lets herself entertain the possibility that this could be more than a one-time thing, but that thought gets lost when he slides in suddenly and she moans out loud, getting lost in the heat of the moment.
The first thing Derek does after finishing is make sure she finishes as well. Check one for the gentleman. Then, he kisses her and offers her a T-shirt and boxers to sleep in, telling her she's welcome to stay the night. She hadn't really considered that not being an option, but she smiles and agrees. Then, he goes to the bathroom.
When he's gone, Alex grabs her phone from the pocket of her shorts, long forgotten on the ground. She shoots a quick text to her group chat with Sydney and Tobin, saying “I'm fine, won't be home tonight. Just had random meaningless SAFE and surprisingly really good sex. Proud Syd? See you tomorrow :)”
Neither one of them seemed to notice she had gone missing judging by their lack of texts, but she assumes once they do, they'll appreciate her presence of mind to text them. She was an orientation leader, after all, teaching the freshman girls about the buddy system and not taking drinks from random frat guys. There are exceptions to every rule, she tells herself.
She doesn’t know when she fell asleep, but when she wakes up, it’s to light streaming in through the window and harsh vibrations from a phone. The shower is running in Derek’s en suite bathroom (she imagines it’s the best perk of being president). She reaches for the phone, eyes barely open, and slides it to open her texts.
At first, her brain can’t process what her eyes are reading, but eventually she realizes she’s not looking at her own phone. She doesn’t even know a Kelley (what the hell is the second ‘e’ even for?), and she certainly doesn’t know one who would be sending her good morning texts and calling her “babe” and wishing her sweet dreams and saying “I love you.”
Suddenly, it hits her. If it’s not her phone, it must be Derek’s. And she needs to get out of here now.