One Tiny Lie (Ten Tiny Breaths, #2)(7)

We’re in my dorm room. That much, I can quickly deduce by the cramped space and a few personal belongings. But I don’t remember coming home.

What do I remember?

My hand slides feebly up to my face to give it a good rub while I pick through my foggy memory, trying to piece together the night . . . Bits of blurry images flicker so faintly that I’m not sure they’re real. Shot after shot. After shot. Orange, blue, green . . . Kacey and me doing the robot on the dance floor? I groan and immediately wince at another throb of pain in my head. God, I hope not. From there . . . nothing. I remember nothing. How can I not remember anything?

Kacey moans again and I’m assaulted with another wave of that foulness. Swallowing several times, I accept that my breath can’t be much better and that I would kill for a bottle of water. I push my sheets off my body with slow, uncoordinated kicks.

And I frown as I take in my exposed flesh. Why am I . . . Oh, right. I was wearing that stupid toga last night. That doesn’t explain why I’m in nothing but panties now, but my head hurts too much to think about tha . . . Whatever. It’s only my sister. And Reagan, but she’s a girl.

I struggle to sit up, groaning as I push my hands back through a mess of knotted hair, squeezing my temples to relieve some of the pressure. And why does my head feel ready to burst! I think if someone walked in here with an axe, I’d stretch my neck out for a clean cut.

There’s already a vile taste in my mouth when a surge of nausea hits me. I need water. Now. With shaky arms and legs, I rock my body around and down, not wasting time with the ladder and hoping I don’t step on Reagan’s head. If I can just make it to the mini fridge and chug a bottle of cold water, I’ll feel better. I know it . . .

A second later, as my feet hit Reagan’s plush white shag rug by the bed, I get my second shock of the morning.

An ass. A male ass. And it’s not just an ass. It’s everything. There’s a very large, very naked guy sprawled out on Reagan’s bed, his legs and one arm hanging off the edge. By the mess of honey-blond hair poking out from beneath the covers in the corner, I can see that Reagan is buried somewhere in there.

I can’t stop staring. I’m standing there in nothing but underwear, the room is spinning, my mouth tastes like I drank sewer water, and I’m frozen, focused on this naked man in front of me. Partly because he’s the last thing I ever expected to see when I climbed down. Partly because he’s the first naked man I’ve ever seen. Partly because I’m wondering what the hell he’s doing here.

And . . . what is that on the top of his left ass cheek? My curiosity overtakes my shock as I step forward cautiously, hesitant to get too close. It looks like . . . a tattoo. It’s red and puffy. I’ve seen pictures of fresh tattoos and that’s what they look like. Like, really fresh. It’s a fancy scroll font and it reads “Irish.” Irish? I frown. Why is that word jogging my memory . . . ?

The floor creaks as my weight shifts, startling me. I abruptly back away. The sudden movement makes the crammed room spin. Water. Right. Now. With wobbly legs, I stumble toward the fridge and my robe that hangs on a hook by the door. Unfortunately, our dorm rooms are tiny and, let’s face it—I’m an ox in a closet when I’m nervous. My back slams into Reagan’s dresser, hitting it hard enough to knock over an array of her glass perfume bottles. I hold my breath, hoping the loud noise isn’t enough to wake up the naked giant.

No such luck.

My heart stops beating as I watch the guy’s head roll over to face out. He cracks open his eyes.

Oh. My. God.

It’s the Jell-O thief. It’s Ashton.

Memories start washing over me like violent waves.

They start at the stolen Jell-O shot but they don’t end there. No . . . they go on and on, each jarring flashback slamming into me, weakening my knees and tightening my stomach. Music and strobe lights and Ashton, leaning into me on the dance floor. Me, yelling at him, my hand slapping the arrogant smirk on his face. My hand, smacking his chest once, twice . . . I don’t know how many times. And then I’m not smacking him anymore. My hands are resting on his bare chest, my fingers tracing the lines of a fist-sized Celtic sign and the curves of his muscle with intrigue. I remember dancing . . . fast, slow . . . my fingers curled in his hair, his hands squeezing my waist tightly, pulling me into him.

I remember the cool night air teasing my skin and a brick wall supporting my back as Ashton and I . . .

I gasp, and my hands fly to my mouth.

His eyes, first narrow and struggling against the light, widen in surprise as they rake over my entire body, resting on my chest. I can’t move. I can’t breathe. I’m the terrified rabbit again, two seconds before knowing it’s going to be eaten by a wolf. A rabbit in nothing but her floral panties.

I unfreeze just long enough for my arms to wrap around my chest, concealing my nakedness.

The movement seems to break Ashton’s trance because he groans, running his hand through his dark hair. It’s already standing in every direction possible but somehow he makes it even messier. His head rolls to the side to see Reagan peeking out from under the covers, just waking, the stages of confusion to recognition flittering through her eyes. “Fuck . . . ” I hear him mumble, pinching the bridge of his nose as if in pain.

“We didn’t . . . ?” I hear Ashton ask her in a low voice.

She shakes her head, strangely calm. “No. You were too drunk to make it back to your house. You were supposed to sleep on the floor.” She sits up slightly to take in his present attire, or lack there of. “Dude, why the hell are you naked?” Her words remind me that he is still very naked. My eyes glance across his long form again, a strange stirring in my belly at the sight of it.

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