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Paul and Jordan arrived at the Sigma Alpha Sigma sorority house more than an hour after the party’s scheduled start time. Paul didn’t really know the rules of a party, but he felt certain that showing up at the start time was considered uncool. The four-story building seemed to be jumping with music. It was an effort not to stare at it. They weren’t the sort of people to be invited to these sorts of places.
“I don’t think I’m going to go in,” Jordan said.
“What?” Paul asked. “Why not?”
Jordan gave him a flat look.
“What good is it being all religious if you’re never going to have fun?” Paul asked.
Jordan jabbed a thumb at the sorority house. “What they’re doing in there might seem like fun, and maybe some of them are great people, but the majority?” Jordan shrugged. “Dude, they’re in there to get drunk and get laid. It’s not about actual fun; it’s about gratification.”
“Maybe I need a little gratification.” Paul said.
Jordan gave him a look of pity, which bothered Paul.
“Dude you can do or not do whatever you want, but don’t get all judgmental on me,” Paul said.
Jordan closed his eyes as if Paul had just called him a name. He took a deep breath. “Fair enough. You have a right to do what you want, and I know you like Stacy. Just, just be careful, ok?”
“You’re really not coming in?” Paul asked.
Jordan shook his head. “It’s not about not having fun. I think all those people in there think they’re having a great time. But tomorrow half of them will be hungover, and another percentage will walk to their dorms in shame, regretting the fun they thought they were having. Go in there and take Stacy out on a real date. Get to know her.”
“That would be really great,” Paul said smiling and raising his eyebrows.
“Not that way!” Jordan said. “Sure, she’s pretty, but what do you like about her?”
“You just said she’s pretty,” Paul replied.
“Lot’s of girls are pretty,” Jordan said.
“Not as pretty as her.” Paul smiled again. “If you’re not coming, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Jordan returned the smile. “OK.” He at least made an effort to hide his disapproval, which Paul supposed was something.
Paul turned around and looked at the door. He had no interest in the drinking, but he wanted Stacy. Maybe it was shallow, but was there anything wrong with a man wanting a woman? How did relationships really start without physical attraction anyway?
Paul climbed up the three stone steps to the building’s large oak door. He pressed the doorbell and waited. The already ear-bursting volume of the music seemed to triple when the door opened revealing a short brunette wearing a sleek black pullover dress.
She was smiling when she opened the door, but one glance at Paul caused her to frown. “Um … “
She jerked and looked at her PID. The invitation link must have pinged her device. She shrugged as she glanced at the notification. “Come on in.”
Paul walked in. He hardly got both feet inside without having to push through the crowd. Was it legal to have this many people in one place? Paul turned sideways to maneuver past two dancing women and had to pull one kissing couple apart to get by. They only grunted, pulling away from each other for the second it took to let Paul past. Paul had never understood the cliche “bull in a China shop” until that moment.
“Woooo!” A male student, who wasn’t wearing a shirt, passed by with a clear plastic cup full of some drink or another. “Welcome to the party!”
Beer splashed on Paul’s face before he even knew what was happening. Paul could hardly see. He sputtered and tried to wipe his face.
“Dude! Don’t waste it!” the student said chuckling. “Respect the brew, man!” The cup only had about another centimeter in it, but the man tossed it back and let out another wail, walking away.
Paul was preoccupied with trying to get the alcohol out of his eyes.
“Not really used to this kind of scene are you?” Even despite the amused derision, Paul knew Stacy’s voice.
He took another moment to use what used to be a nice button-up shirt to wipe up his face. However angry he was, he was that much more determined to talk to her.
“Worth it if I get to see you.” He gave what he hoped was a winning smile.
She laughed and shook her head. “Flattery got my attention,” she said. “But what got you in the door was how nice you were.”
“Nice?” It was strange. Paul had to basically shout to be heard, but he doubted anyone outside a one-foot radius could hear him.
“When you helped that cafeteria worker,” Stacy said.
“That?” Paul asked. “I was just cleaning up a mess.”
“You didn’t have to,” she said.
“I didn’t have to throw my food all over the place either, but I did. Well, we already discussed whose fault that is,” Paul replied.
Stacy frowned at him. Her brown stare grew harsh. Why? Didn’t he just compliment her.
“So what, you’re just going to stare at me and tell me I’m pretty?” Her tone frosted over. It was almost like she was a different person.
“Well,” Paul thought for a moment. Something Jordan said before he left seemed to echo in his mind. “Look,” he said after another second of thought. “What I want is to get to know you. Yeah, you’re pretty, and I bet a lot of guys are into you. Yes, I’m one of those guys, but I’m not just after you for, well, you know.”
She gave him a skeptical look, but she seemed to be at least calming down. “You want a drink?”
He shook his head. “I don’t drink.”
Her lip quirked in what might have been a smirk. “You don’t drink.”
“No,” he said.
She shrugged, but her posture seemed to shift again. Did he just pass some sort of test? “Come on,” she said. “I’ll show you where you can clean your face and maybe find another shirt.”
She grabbed his hand and proceeded to guide him up the large spiral staircase that lead out of the main floor where the bulk of the partygoers were frolicking.
… to be continued …
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