The Play (Briar U, #3)

But he hasn’t moved a muscle since he lay down.

“All right,” I relent, rolling over to grab my laptop. “The latest episode is Children Who Kill, but I don’t remember if I made you watch the one before that—Clowns Who Kill…?”

Nico is snoring softly.

Wonderful. It’s Saturday night, there’s a party raging downstairs, and it’s not even ten o’clock. My hot boyfriend is sound asleep in my bed and I’m about to watch a show about murderers. By myself.

Living the college dream. Woo-hoo.

To make matters worse, this is the last stress-free weekend we’re going to have in a long time. The fall semester starts on Monday, and my schedule is intense this year. I’m pre-med, so I need to excel and then some during my last two years at Briar if I want to get into a good med school. I won’t have nearly as much time to spend with Nico as I’ll want.

I shoot a quick glance at the snoring lump beside me. He doesn’t seem bothered by our impending lack of quality time. But maybe he’s right not to be. We’ve been dating since the eighth grade. Our relationship has had its ups and downs over the years, with some breaks along the way, but we survived every single hurdle, and we’ll survive this, too.

I crawl under the covers, a feat of skill because Nico’s heavy body is weighing down the other side of the blanket. I position the computer on my lap and load the next episode of my favorite show. I want to say I watch this series solely for the psychology component, but…who am I kidding? It’s fucked up and I love it.

Ominous music fills the bedroom, followed by the host’s familiar British monotone informing me that I’m in store for sixty delightful minutes of children who kill.

The rest of the weekend flies by. Monday morning brings with it the first class of my junior year, and the one I’m most excited about—Abnormal Psychology. Even better, two of my good friends are also taking this course. They’re waiting for me on the stone steps of the massive ivy-covered building.

“Gawd, you look hot!” Pax Ling throws his arms around me, pulls back to smack a loud kiss on my cheek, and then reaches around to pinch my butt. I’m wearing denim shorts and a striped tank top, because it’s a million degrees out today. Not that I’m complaining about the summer spilling over into September. Bring on the heat, baby.

“The things those shorts do to your legs, babe,” Pax gushes in approval.

Beside him, TJ Bukowski rolls his eyes. When I first introduced them, TJ wasn’t a fan of Pax’s outrageous personality. But he eventually warmed up to Pax, and now they have a love-hate friendship that makes me laugh.

“You look pretty hot yourself,” I inform Pax. “I love the shirt.”

He flips up the collar of his pea-green polo. “It’s Gucci, bitches. My sister and I were in Boston this weekend and spent a little too much money. But hey, worth it, right?” He does a quick spin to show off his new shirt.

“Worth it,” I agree.

TJ adjusts the straps of his backpack. “Come on, let’s go in. We don’t want to be late for the first class. I hear Andrews is a strict prof.”

I laugh. “We’re fifteen minutes early. Don’t worry.”

“Did you seriously just tell Thomas Joseph not to worry?” Pax demands. “That’s his default mode.”

He’s not wrong. TJ is a walking, talking ball of anxiety.

TJ glowers at us. He doesn’t like being made fun of, especially about his anxiety, so I reach out and take his hand, giving it a warm squeeze. “Don’t sulk, hon. I like that you’re a worrywart. Means I’m never late for anything.”

With a slight smile, he squeezes my hand back. TJ and I met in freshman year when we lived in the same dorm. My roommate had been absolutely unbearable, so TJ’s room became sort of a sanctuary for me. He’s not always the easiest person to get along with, but he’s been a good friend to me from day one.


The female shriek pierces the breezy morning air. I turn my head to see a petite girl sprinting down the tree-lined path. She’s clad in a knee-length black dress with big white buttons running down the middle. One arm is thrust skyward, waving what looks like a plastic food container.

A dark-haired guy pauses near the steps. He’s tall and noticeably fit, even while wearing a bulky gray hoodie with the Briar U logo on it. A frown creases his handsome face when he realizes he’s being chased.

The girl skids to a stop in front of him. I can’t hear what he says to her, but her response is loud and clear. I think she might be one of the loudest people I’ve ever encountered.

“I made you lunch!” Smiling broadly, she presents the container as if she’s handing him the Holy Grail.

Meanwhile, his body language conveys annoyance, as if what she’s actually handing him is a bag of dog poop.

Seriously? His girlfriend made him lunch and he’s not throwing his arms around her in gratitude? Jerk.

“I hate that guy,” mutters TJ.

“You know him?” I can’t hide my dubious expression. TJ doesn’t hang out with many jocks, and the guy we’re looking at is one hundred percent a jock. Those broad shoulders are a dead giveaway.

“That’s Hunter Davenport.” Pax is the one who speaks, and I instantly recognize that tone of voice. Translation: oh-em-gee I want to lick that boy up.

Sure enough, he’s got a dreamy look in his eyes. “Who’s Hunter Davenport?” I ask.

“He’s on the hockey team.”

Nailed it. I knew he was an athlete. Those shoulders, man. “Never heard of him,” I say with a shrug.

“You’re not missing out. He’s just some rich prick jock,” TJ says.

I arch a brow. “What do you have against him?” TJ doesn’t normally bash student athletes. Or anyone, for that matter, aside from the occasional jab at Pax.

“Nothing. I just think he’s gross. I caught him banging some slut in the library last year. Fully clothed, but with his pants pulled down revealing half his ass. He had her right up against the wall in one of the study rooms.” TJ shakes his head in disgust.

I’m disgusted too, but more so with my friend’s rude representation of Davenport’s companion. “Please don’t use that word,” I chide. “You know I’m not into slut-shaming.”

TJ is instantly contrite. “Sorry, you’re right, that wasn’t cool. If anything, Davenport was the slut in that scenario.”

“Why does anyone have to be a slut?”

“I want to be his slut,” Pax says absently. His gaze remains glued to the dark-haired hockey player, who’s still bickering with his girlfriend.

The girl keeps pushing the Tupperware into his hand and he keep pushing it back into hers. I think he’s saying he won’t have time to eat, because her answering screech is, “There’s always time to eat, Hunter! But you know what, fine. Go hungry. Forgive me for trying to offer you nourishment!”

Grinning, I cup my hands around my mouth and holler, “Just take the fucking lunch already!”

Davenport’s head swivels my way. He gives me a deep frown.

The girl, on the other hand, beams at me. “Thank you!” She shoves the container in his hand one last time and flounces off. Her kitten heels snap like tap shoes against the cobblestones that comprise most of the historical campus.

Hockey Boy is glowering as he stalks toward us. “You have no idea what you just did,” he growls at me. His voice is deeper than I expect, with a cute rasp to it. He lifts the container. “Now we set a precedent. She’ll be making my fucking lunch all semester.”

I roll my eyes. “Wow, forgive her for trying to offer you nourishment.”

Sighing, he starts to move away. Then halts. “Oh hey, how’s it going, man?” he says to Pax.

My friend’s jaw drops to his white tennis shoes. They look new too, so I guess the shirt wasn’t the only thing he picked up in Boston.

“Hi,” Pax blurts out, clearly stunned to be singled out.

“You were in my Alternative Media class last term. Jax, right?”

To my disbelief, Pax nods stupidly.

“You in this Abnormal Psych class, too?”

“Yes,” Pax breathes.

“Cool. Well, see you in there.” Davenport claps Pax on the shoulder before sauntering up the stairs toward the building’s entrance.

I stare pointedly at my friend, but he’s too busy gawking at Davenport’s ass.

“Hey Jax,” I mock. “Earth to Jax.”

TJ snickers.

Pax snaps out of his trance. He gives me a sheepish look. “He fucking remembered me, Demi. I wasn’t going to correct him after he remembered me.”

“He remembered Jax!”

“That’s me! I’m Jax. I now live life as Jax. Hunter Davenport said so.”

I smother a sigh and glance at TJ. “Why are we friends with him again?”

“I have no idea,” he replies with a grin. “Come on, Jax, let’s escort our lady to class.”

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