"No," she says. "Absolutely not."

"But Linz," Mallory whines, and Linzie cuts her off before Mal can build up any momentum.

"No," she repeats firmly. "I've got a pint of Strawberry Häagen-Dazs. I've got Casablanca in my DVD player. And I've got my fat pants on. The next three hours of my life are all planned out."

"You said. You said that next time we wanted to go to Starkey's, if Mitchell wasn't finally here for his big visit, you'd go with us. And you know that bouncer only let us in last time 'cause of you. You have to come!"

"Mikey," she says automatically. "The bouncer's name was Mikey." It's all true, and she did promise. Just because Mitch is being an ass, deciding at the last minute to go roadtripping with his new best friends instead of visiting his girlfriend of three years, she shouldn't take it out on the girls, who've made these last two weeks of summer school bearable. She sighs and sticks the untouched ice cream in the tiny freezer compartment of her compact fridge. "Fine," she says. She'll go and sneak out early, come back and wallow, maybe drunk-dial Mitch and cry into the phone about the way Rick loves Ilsa enough to let her go and is that what Mitch is doing, and why can't he just come visit her because it's not like he needs to fight the Nazis or anything, and she misses him so much. Yikes. No way. She'll have one drink, just to be sociable, and then she'll come home and eat ice cream until she's sick and sleep till noon.

She did just shave her legs and get a pedicure, so she pulls on a short skirt and heels. "This top," Mal says, throwing it over to her, and it's quicker not to argue, so she slips it on and does up the skimpy ties. "We'll take care of the rest in Alicia's room." She grabs her purse and follows Mal out the door.


Alicia lives three floors up, and despite the best efforts of the building's AC, it's significantly warmer up there. It probably doesn't help that she's fantasizing pornographically about her ice cream, can almost feel each cold pink swallow slipping down her throat.

She shouldn't be displacing her frustration over Mitch onto Alicia and Mal, so she helps pick out clothes and shoes and jewelry; as she does her makeup she reminds herself that she only has to get them in the door and then hoist one quick beer with them and her duty'll be done.

Alicia's having problems walking in her new stilettos, and Mal says with complete authority that she just needs to get used to swinging her hips differently, so all three of them end up practicing in the long hallway, strolling up and down, flirting with the invisible boys lining the corridor. She thinks about Mitch, the way he'd smiled when he asked her out, the way he frowned when he'd realized he had no idea where to take her. She hasn't seen his face since Christmas, and all at once she's furious that he canceled his visit.

She's hitting her stride now, her heels scoring tiny holes in the cheap carpeting of the dorm hallway, and Mal and Alicia can barely keep up. "Hey!" Mal says, getting one hand on her arm and spinning her around. "Linz, you okay?"

"Fine," she says, smiling her best pep squad smile. "Cooler out here." She waits out in the hall, cool wall against her bare back, while they finish with their hair and makeup, and sees the guy at the end of the hallway, impossibly tall, his messy skater hair dripping water everywhere. He looks over at her, switching the plastic bag he's carrying from his right to his left hand, and unlocks his door. He opens the door but doesn't go in right away; he nods at her and vanishes, and his door is closed by the time she and Alicia and Mal walk past it on their way out.


"Ladies," Mikey says, smiling at her, and she wishes Mikey would just commit already, to being either a sleazy bouncer or a nice guy she could be friends with. But he's still straddling the line, so she hands over her fake ID and lets him scrutinize her carefully; when he lets them into the bar, all she feels is relief, because she's that much closer to her girl's night in.

The place is packed, and she really doesn't feel like yelling over the music, so she drifts a little bit away from Alicia and Mal, concentrates on not spilling her beer, and finds a wall to stand against. Turns out, of course, she picked the absolute worst spot, and the guys are coming fast and furious, each one professing a deep interest in her major and her planned life's work. "I gotta – I gotta go," she finally says, more with her hands and eyes than her strained larynx, and she hands off her half-finished beer to the latest guy and pushes past him.


She calls Mitch from the cab and when he picks up, he sounds pretty cranky. "Babe, you're three hours behind," he reminds her, as if she's stupid, as if he doesn't miss her at all. "I gotta catch some sleep," he mumbles, then blows a kiss into the phone before he hangs up. She kisses back, automatically, and then wishes she could take it back.


That super-tall guy's at the vending machine when she walks into the dorm, wearing an adorable shirt with a greyhound on it, holding a roll of quarters, and waiting for his soda to drop. The heavy clunk of the can echoes in the uncarpeted area and he has to bend practically in half to retrieve it. When he straightens back out and turns around, she can see how tiny the can looks in his gigantic hand. He raises the soda in toast to her and she grins up at him. He walks over to the stairs and looks back at her. "You comin'?" he asks, and she can barely keep herself from saying hell yes.


There's a box of donuts open on his desk, the eight remaining donuts covered in immaculately white powdered sugar, and he puts his Coke down next to it. He's got to be on a wicked sugar high, she thinks, as he turns swiftly and bends toward her. His mouth is so close, and she turns her head at the last moment, mumbling, "Mitch"; she slumps against the door when he backs off, looking surprised.

"Okay," he says, his eyes a little wide. He runs his fingers through his hair. "Do you want one?" he asks, pointing to the box, but she's not about to be distracted now. She walks toward him, gets his face in her hands, and pulls until she doesn't have to strain on tiptoe just to be near him. She licks along his jaw, tiny, kittenish licks that savor the babylike smoothness of his skin; he looks like he couldn't grow a beard if he sat right down and tried real hard. When she drops kisses on his chin, he smiles, wide and bright, and bends his head to lick her neck.

It's been months, months, since anyone's been this close, this intent on her skin, and she clutches at his shirt and lets her head tip back. She thinks she makes a sound of protest when he pulls away and looks down at her with those pretty eyes, but once he's pulled his shirt off, he steps back to her and reaches for the zipper on her skirt. Without the indigo of the shirt, his eyes lose some of their blue shine and they settle into a greenish brown, dark and cool like pine needles on a forest floor; she keeps her eyes fastened on his as she steps out of the skirt.

Before she can kick off her heels, he smiles again, a little one this time, and wraps his hands around her arms, pulling her up and slamming her back against the door. Her fingers get lost in his hair, fine and dark and so soft, and she wraps her legs around his trim little waist, waiting breathlessly for his next move. Two quick flicks of those long, long fingers and her top is falling away, an aquamarine heap on the floor, and he's kissing the ticklish skin between her breasts. She loosens her hold on his head and he dips lower, biting her breasts gently, and she squirms and squeezes her legs so that her heels dig into his ass. He groans in response, keeping her pressed against the door for a long moment while he pants on her skin. She tugs on his hair and he wheels around, crosses the room in two long steps, and drops her on his bed.

He snakes a hand between her back and the rough sheets, trailing down her spine with a pressure just this side of painful, and slips it below her waistband. His hand is big enough to cover most of her ass, and she closes her eyes as he rips her panties off, leaving her in nothing but her heels. She feels something light land on her stomach and looks down to see a wrapped condom rising and falling with her every breath; she looks back up to see him stripping himself naked, and she gasps and rips open the packet. He avoids her hands when she sits up and reaches for him, and she lets the condom drop and takes him - dark pink and prettily curved - into her mouth. She's lost any skills she once had in this department through lack of practice, but the sounds he's making spur her on as his hands clamp down on her head. He holds her close for a moment before pulling free of her mouth and rolling the condom on.

He spreads her legs with insistent hands and she lets her own rove over him, lingering at the small of his back while she kisses his nipples, flat and brown like pebbles in a brook. There's sweat building between them as he holds one of her legs flat on the bed, opening her up to his fingers. He shifts to get his mouth back on her breasts and he seems to be everywhere at once, the heat of him nearly agonizing on her sensitive skin. She can feel the muscles in her thighs quivering from being splayed open for so long, and he finally fits his slim hips between her legs to push inside her.

It feels like it's going to take a few hours for her body to get used to this invasion. He's big and so heavy on top of her and she can't remember how to breathe. She's gasping a little, smelling the pleasantly chemical fragrance of his shampoo, and trying to figure out if her muscles are clamping around him or unresponsively lax. He gets up on his forearms and looks down at her, at the tears gathering in her eyes, and presses a kiss to the corner of her closed mouth, then to her cheek and then to her neck. His breath is hot and wet, and she can suddenly feel the pleasant prickle of his skin against hers. She moves her hips tentatively and he pulls nearly all the way out of her and then slams back in, and she cries out, throbbing and glowing from the heat of him, and he does it again, does it until she can't see him because of the white light behind her eyes.

When she comes back to herself, he's still on top of her, his breathing slow and even. She gets her hands on his shoulders, letting herself admire and feel the broad sweep of them once before pushing a little, and he pulls out and rolls off her. She sits up and swings her legs to the side of the bed while she runs her hands through her hair; she can hear him getting out of the bed on the other side. He drops the condom in the trash and pulls on his underwear. He holds up her ripped panties and balls them up and tosses them in the trash at her nod. She finds her skirt on the floor and steps back into it, and he moves behind her to do up the ties on her top, his big fingers deft and sure. Her purse is on top of his desk next to the donuts, and she steals one as she swings the strap over her head. She doesn't say goodbye, and neither does he, but when she turns at the door to take one last look, he's looking right back at her. She opens the door, realizes there's no name or whiteboard on it, and gives him one last smile.

She steps out of her heels once she's outside his room and scoops them up, heading for the stairwell. Halfway down the first flight, she takes a bite of the donut. There's an explosion of sweetness on her tongue, soft powdered sugar sinking into her tastebuds, and she knows all at once what his kisses would have tasted like.