I called Connor as soon as I got home to let him know we were going to the party, and he was more than excited. He was even making his boyfriend go.
I was going to be the awkward third wheel, but at least I was getting out of the house, and who knew, maybe I’d meet someone.
Maybe this was what I needed to do before going to college. Connor was right; I shouldn’t wait around for Luca.
By the time we got to the party, it was in full swing. Connor had said we should arrive late so it wouldn’t be as awkward showing up, and he’d been correct; it was much easier to blend in.
No one stared at us like we were aliens. Everyone was well on their way to being happily drunk.
“We’re going to go dance; do you want to come with us?”
I shook my head at Connor and Todd and told them I’d come and find them later.
I tried looking around for Luca or Will, but it was a little difficult to see through the crowd of people. I hadn’t expected this party to be this popular.
“Does Will know you’re here?” a husky voice said behind me. I turned around to see one of Will and Luca’s housemates.
“No, but Luca invited me.”
I kept staring at the guy, but I couldn’t remember his name.
“You don’t remember me, do you?”
“I know you’re one of their housemates, but I can’t remember your name. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay; it’s not like you’re around all the time. My name is Austin.”
“Well, it’s nice to officially meet you, Austin. I’m Henley.”
“I know your name. I never forget a pretty girl’s name, especially a girl who Will has warned us to stay away from.”
I blushed at his compliment and let out a laugh because I believed Will had actually threatened them.
“Do you want to get a drink?” Austin asked me.
I said yes and followed him into the kitchen, where I ran into Luca, who was in the middle of a tongue-wrestling match with some blonde.
I’d known this was going to happen, which was why I’d told myself I was going to be open to meeting someone else.
“What do you want to drink, Henley?”
I turned to face Austin. “Just water, please.”
At the mention of my name, Luca tore his face from the girl.
“You made it, Ley!”
He sounded excited, but his facial expression looked annoyed.
“I did. Thanks for inviting me,” I said as he leaned in to hug me. The hug was strange; he never greeted me with a hug.
“By the way, you get the lovely task of telling Will that you invited me, and that’s why I’m here, but as you can see, I’m not drinking,” I said.
Luca nodded and didn’t have time to say anything before Austin butted in.
“Let’s go out in the backyard. It is quieter and we can talk.”
I followed Austin outside. Once we got outside, Austin caught me off guard by asking me what the deal between Luca and me was.
“Nothing; we just grew up together.”
“It doesn’t look like nothing to me. It looks like Luca has feelings for you, or at least that’s what his body language is saying.”
“I think you read him wrong. He doesn’t have feelings for me. He never has and never will.”
“He seemed annoyed that I was with you. Do you like him?”
I let out a sigh and was honest with Austin. “I’ve had a crush on him, but I’m moving on. I know I deserve more, and I shouldn’t wait around for a guy who doesn’t want me.”
“So if I asked you out on a date, you’d say…”
I thought about it and realized that I really needed to move on. Luca was with other girls, and I was with no one.
“I’d say yes. I’d like to know you better.”
“Really, you would?!”
I nodded my head.
“In that case, would you like to go to dinner or lunch with me?”
“Yes, but keep in mind that I’m only a senior in high school.”
I saw his eyes go wide.
“But I’m eighteen. I mentioned I was in high school so you wouldn’t think I was lying to you or wonder why I wasn’t on campus.”
“I knew you didn’t go here; I just thought you went to some other college.”
We spent the next few hours talking, and we were eventually interrupted by Will.
“Luca said you were spending time with Austin.”
My brother looked at Austin and then looked at me.
“Don’t worry; we’re only talking. He hasn’t even hugged me,” I said jokingly.
Will let out a sigh of relief. “Okay. Can you help clean up? Everyone is about gone, and some of the rooms are trashed.”
“All right. Where do you want me to start?”
“Can you make sure the bedrooms didn’t get trashed? And if there are any random people passed out, let me know.”
I went upstairs and started with the first room that I came to. Thankfully, it looked basically untouched. There were a few bottles and cups and an empty condom wrapper, but that was about it.
I quickly learned I should knock before entering rooms, even if I thought they were empty, because I got the surprise of a lifetime when I opened the next door.
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry!” I squealed.
“Shit,” the guy shouted as he jumped up.
“Luca?” I’d just walked in on Luca fucking a girl from behind. I got a good view of his dick, because his instinct was to jump up instead of covering himself, and I wasn’t disappointed by the view.
“I-I’m sorry.” I quickly slammed the door shut and ran into the next room. It was a mess. There were beer bottles and cups, and someone had even thrown up on the floor.
It took me a minute to realize this was Will’s room, so I stripped the bed to prepare the bedding for the laundry and went downstairs to get some carpet cleaner and more towels.
On my way back to the room, I came face-to-face with Luca.
“You don’t have to say anything. I should have knocked. I’m sorry I ruined your night.
“I hope you guys could finish after the interruption,” I said with a red face and then face-palmed when I realized what I’d said.
Luca let out a loud, hysterical laugh. “Did you just say that you hoped we finished?”
I felt my face go even redder, but I couldn’t help but laugh.
“No worries. We both left satisfied.”
“What’s so funny?” Austin asked.
“Nothing, man,” Luca stated while slapping him on the back.
“Um. Henley, your friends left. One of them was drunk and sick and needed to go home.”
“They were supposed to be my ride home.”
“I can give you a ride home. I wasn’t drinking.”
“Thanks. That would be great.”
“Awesome. Just come and find me when you’re ready.”
Once Austin was out of eyesight, Luca started to lose his temper.
“What the hell was that, Henley?”
“What do you mean?”
“That would be awesome,” he mimicked me in a high-pitched voice.
“It was me being thankful for a ride home. My friend left me at a party.”
“You know he’s interested in you; he wants to be more than friends.”
“I know, Luca. He asked me out, and I’m not stupid.”
I was getting annoyed at his questions and his attitude. I wanted to show him I wasn’t stupid and that other guys found me attractive.
“You can’t go out with him.”
“He’s too old for you.”
“He’s twenty, not thirty, Luca. I can date whoever I want to. You don’t have a say in it.”
Luca’s face was getting redder, and his tone got sharper. He took a step toward me, and I stepped back. We did this until I was up against the wall, and his face was just inches away.
“You. Are. Not. Going. Out. With. Him.” He paused after every word.
“Again, you have no say.”
“The fuck I don’t” was the only thing he said before his lips were on mine.
Luca Jones was kissing me. This had been something I’d fantasized about for a long time.
His lips were firm yet soft, and he kissed with the right amount of pressure. There was nothing disappointing about it.
I had to fight against what my body wanted. My brain knew he couldn’t treat me this way, so I pushed him away from me.
“You can’t do this, Luca. You can’t sleep with a girl, be mean to me, and then kiss me. That’s not how this works. That’s not who I am.”
“I’m sorry; that was a mistake, Henley.”
Hearing those words just tore my heart open.
“Of course it was. It’s always a mistake to like little Henley. Will’s little sister is off limits or not good enough. I’m tired of that narrative, and I’m tired of you.”
Austin was sweet on the way home. He didn’t ask questions or try to make conversation. When he pulled up to my house, he took my phone and texted his phone from it.
“Now I have your number. I’ll text you to make plans if you’re still up for it.”
“I am. Thanks for the ride home. I had fun with you.”
Austin gave me a big smile. “Have a good night, Henley.”
I waved bye to him and shut the car door and ran to my room. Once I was on my bed, I couldn’t hold back anymore, and I cried until I fell asleep.
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