Stay tuned for teasers, a huge blog tour with awesome prizes, and beach fun from the three Jens!
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I watched the plane take off and wondered if I had made a big mistake.
The city of Chicago floated beneath me, and I was sent up into the clouds for a spring break I wasn’t even sure I wanted. I sighed. So lame. Twenty-one years old and I was more comfortable working and studying than having fun.
“Don’t even think about it,” Mackenzie said. Her newly dyed chestnut, curly hair fell perfectly over her brow as she studied me. “If you keep it up, you’ll have a breakdown. You need sun, sand, and sex.”
I rolled my eyes. “Says you, because you’re comfortable getting all of it, Miss Country Star. Or at least, most of it.” That comment earned me a snort. “Me—I’m more used to rain and fog and sidewalks. This isn’t gonna be like one of those spring break movies, right? Jocks slipping drugs into girls’ drinks and taking photos of them to post on the Internet? Or sharks feeding on young bodies in a blood bath?”
Mackenzie groaned. “Way too much Lifetime TV, girlfriend. How about a tropical drink on a lounge chair, your toes in the sand, and some hot guy standing over you, bare chested and ready to serve all your needs?” Her eyebrows waggled up and down and I laughed.
“Maybe for you.”
“Maybe for you, too, if you’d stop volunteering every spare second and recognized a man younger than seventy.”
“Fine. I’ll stop complaining since you were nice enough to finance the whole trip. At least I have my own room. I’m so sick of roommates and socks on the door.”
My second best friend, Cassie, craned her neck and popped into the conversation. “I’m with Quinn. Finals are coming and I want my damn 4.0.”
Mackenzie grabbed her magazine from the pouch in the seat in front and whipped out her iPod. “You two are hopeless. We are going to have fun on this trip, even if I have to force you. No books, no studying, no lameness. Got it?”
I grabbed her iPod. “You can’t turn it on yet; it’ll mess with the plane.”
“That’s just a superstition,” Mac announced, trying to grab it back.
Cassie pulled the plug. “Quinn’s right, I’m not crashing before I graduate.”
Mackenzie groaned. “If it was a real problem, they’d take away our electronics at the gate. And how’d I get stuck in the middle seat, anyway? You’re going to torture me all the way to Key West.”
I met Cassie’s gaze and giggled. Mac was the one with the money, fame, and outgoing personality. She was a country star by sixteen, thrust into the spotlight, and came to college to get an education and get lost. I hated country music—she’s still mad at me for that—and had no idea who she was, even after she played me her top ten hit. Cassie was the studious one in our threesome, and probably one of the smartest, sweetest girls I knew. And me? Well, I was the worker bee. Save the world, one person at a time, I guess. I tried to get everything right so I didn’t disappoint anyone, especially myself.
We’d met freshman year in English 101 and the moment we started chatting, something clicked. It was as if each of us brought something strong to the group, and I liked that. I had lots of acquaintances at Chicago State, but Cassie and Mackenzie were true friends.
Cassie and Mac started arguing over the rules of turning on a Kindle, and I turned back to the window. Maybe this was a good thing for me. I was tired lately, and not up to my usual strict standards of achievement. A little sun and relaxation may jump-start me to finish the quarter strong, and getting prepared for my summer internship at the rehabilitation center. Maybe I’d even meet a cute boy I could flirt with. Even sleep with. Someone who could give me an orgasm. I was tired of reading about the experience in magazines and hearing about its greatness constantly in the dorm.
I settled my head back in the seat and tried not to hope for too much. After all, I was usually disappointed.
A red Solo cup was thrust into my hands, and I automatically grabbed it. Foam spilled over the top and dripped on my flip-flops. I had never gotten into the taste of beer, and was hoping for one of those sweet cocktail drinks with the umbrella in it. Like Sex on the Beach. The girls had gotten me hooked, and I’d had my fair share since we landed. Of course, I wasn’t at the hotel, and this was probably going to be the best I got. Unless I wanted hard liquor. I suppressed a shudder. I’d gotten drunk on rum once and threw up for hours. I still couldn’t smell it without getting nauseous.
I forced myself to take a sip and maneuvered my way through the crowds, heading outside. The house was set up on a hill in a more rural part of the island, and reminded me of those mansions shown on HGTV. White with powder blue shutters, it was three stories and held an enormous deck that showcased the in-ground lagoon-type pool, tiki bar, and hot tub. Girls in tiny bikinis lounged on the side with their feet in. Some were on guys’ shoulders doing chicken fights and pretending to be embarrassed when their tops slipped and they flashed the crowd. Of course, they had breasts, not like me, who was built with more of a slim frame and barely filled out a B cup. Boys stood in tight groups, drooling over beer, drooling over women, and drooling period.
Ah, crap. I shouldn’t have come. The first day was perfect—we got off the plane, settled into our awesome rooms, and relaxed for the evening. The hotel was first class—Mackenzie only did top shelf—and the place boasted four restaurants, two pools, swim-up bars, a dance club, and the all-important room service. We swam and hung out the rest of the afternoon, then had dinner at the pool. That was the type of event I enjoyed—my best friends, beachy drinks, a stacked hamburger, and some laughs. But today they ditched me early, citing excuses about plans made already, so we arranged to meet at the local bar this evening. The first few hours were cool, but then I began to feel pretty pathetic alone in my one-piece suit while couples or groups swarmed around me. Then a girl with a bobbing red ponytail thrust a flyer in my hand and invited me to a party in one of the private villas on the island. Not that I was special. She handed them out to everyone in lounge chairs, chirping about how it was the party of the century and a tradition for Key West spring break.
I never went to places alone, with people I don’t know. But I could only do so much sunbathing and pretending to read a hot romance on my Kindle. I was getting twitchy and bored. Water sports weren’t my thing, so I figured, why not? Do something daring, Quinn. Go to a party where you’re a stranger, and maybe meet a hot guy. Hook up, get laid, get happy.
Now, I wished I’d stayed put.
I sipped the lukewarm beer for something to do, and found a spot near the balcony. Hooking my elbows over the top, I watched the show at the pool while music pounded out in grindy hip-hop rhythm to inspire abandon and nakedness. For one second, I wished I was the type of girl to climb in the pool, shake her ass, and enjoy a little feminine power.