Sterling woke up to Laila’s light breathing. He rolled onto his side and stared at her from across the room. Her head was resting gently on her pillow, her strawberry blonde waves flowing over everything they touched. Her lips were parted slightly, a faint smile resting on the corners. Sterling didn’t want to, but he knew he had to get up. Glancing at the clock on the wall, he already knew Alistair and he would be late to meet their parents. But that didn’t faze him. Last night had been worth it. Waking up to Laila’s perfect face, undisturbed and wonderfully peaceful, was excuse enough not to set an alarm clock.
He slid out of the bed, quiet as a whisper, and made his way to Laila’s desk. The girl already had her books organized and her notebooks assigned. Purple Post-its were carefully lined up, telling her exactly where to go and what to bring her first day of class. He picked up a pen and jotted a note for her, silently removing it from the pad and pressing it to her nightstand before he left the room.
You look beautiful in the morning. I can’t wait to see you again…
Sterling passed only a few people on his walk back to his dormitory that morning. Most were girls, doing their walk of shame, mascara smeared on their face, shoes in their hands. When he finally made it to his room, he lifted the tie from the door knob and let himself in.
Alistair was lying on his back, his arms behind his head, a crooked smile on his face and his eyes closed. But as he heard the door shut, his eyes flew open and he began to scramble to the head of his bed.
“Jesus, man! What the fuck do you think the tie is for?”
Sterling looked at the bottom of the bed and saw two manicured feet sliding under the covers to stay out of sight.
“Still? It’s 9 in the morning and you two have had all night.”
Alistair gave him a guilty grin. “Morning wood,” he said with a casual shrug of his shoulders. “She offered to take care of it for me.”
“Alistair, you’re such an asshole!” Rebecca’s familiar voice came from under the covers of his bed.
“Good morning, Rebecca.” Sterling said, not being one to overlook decent exchanges of greetings just because the circumstances were less than formal.
“Morning, Sterling.” Rebecca’s brown curls bounced as she slid up the bed and rested her head on Alistair’s chest, a proud smile on her face. Alistair twirled a strand around his finger before sitting up and kissing her forehead.
“Babe, Sterling and I have to leave. We’re expected at our parent’s place in less than an hour.”
“All right, I get it,” Rebecca said, reaching for her shorts which were hanging from Alistair’s bed frame. Alistair knew that, more than anything, Rebecca wanted an invitation to go with them. She had for years been asking to meet his parents but he had always refused. The second he brought a girl home to see them, they would push for an engagement and start making the arrangements right then and there. Not that spending the rest of his life with Rebecca would be such a bad thing. He could be stuck with someone like Kalyn, who, although incredibly hot, was more annoying than a gnat in iced tea. But Alistair didn’t want to commit. He knew he could have Rebecca anytime he wanted, spend as much time with her as he pleased, in and out of bed. But what if something better came along?
Rebecca pulled her shorts on and leaned in to kiss him. He let her, not caring that his brother was in the room, not caring that he had yet to brush his teeth and his breath still tasted like alcohol.
“We’ll finish this later?” She asked quietly, trying to sound seductive.
Alistair kissed her again and smiled at her. Of course they would. It was what they did.
Rebecca answered him with an excited grin. She hopped off the bed and skipped past Sterling on her way out the door.
Sterling waited until the door had closed until he began reprimanding his twin brother. “That girl is going to kill herself one day because of you. How many times are you going to break her heart before you realize you two belong together?”
“Belong together? Please, you sound like Mom. And she knows what she’s getting every time she comes home with me.”
Sterling rolled his eyes and went to his closet, picking out a clean shirt and a pair of cargo shorts.
“Where did you stay last night, anyway?” Alistair stood up and stretched before finding some clean underwear from his drawer.
“Tennille’s room, as usual.”
“Tennille’s room? Was her new roommate there? God, that girl was hot.”
“Laila? Yeah, she was there.” Sterling smiled. Of course she had been there. He would have slept in the common room if she hadn’t been.
“And. How was she? I bet she can fuck like a college girl. All those west coast girls can.”
“You have never slept with anyone who lived west of Ohio, so how would you know?”
“So I’ve heard,” Alistair answered, winking at his brother.
Sterling rolled his eyes and tossed a clean pair of socks onto Alistair’s bed. His brother hadn’t done laundry in weeks, packing all his dirty clothes in his suitcase and waiting until the dire end to take them to a Laundromat.
“Thanks,” Alistair sat on the bed and pulled the socks on. “But you didn’t answer my question. How was she?”
“I wouldn’t know. She made me stay in Tennille’s bed.”
Alistair threw his head back and laughed. “That’s so shitty!”
“I’m pretty sure she’s a virgin. A far cry from most of the girls at this place.”
“That’s the damn truth,” Alistair said, counting in his head just how many of the girls at Harper’s he had deflowered. It wasn’t as many as Julian Polk, but a number worth bragging about, nonetheless.
“I don’t know. There’s definitely something different about her.”
Alistair looked at his brother. Sterling usually didn’t want to talk about the girls he was interested in. Probably because he hadn’t been interested in a girl for a very long time. Sure, he would mess around with one every now and then, but unlike Alistair, he wasn’t eager to share the details of his conquests.
“You like her, don’t you?”
Sterling turned his back on his brother and reached for his deodorant, waiting until he had applied it before speaking again.
“So what if I do?”
Alistair smiled from his bed, leaning over and tying his shoes. Sterling hadn’t been the same since his heart had been ripped from his chest and tacked to the wall for all of the school to see. Alistair knew Sterling wasn’t the type of guy who could dismiss girls as easily as he could. He often made fun of his brother, telling him he would be more interesting if he got laid more often. But secretly, he had wanted Sterling to find someone new, someone to take his mind off his ex.
“So, I think that’s great.”
Sterling turned around and looked at his brother. Alistair had never been one for relationships but everything about his statement had seemed sincere.
“You’re welcome. Now, let’s go. Mom’s going to kill us when we get there so we might as well get it over with.”
Sterling nodded in agreement and grabbed his car keys from his desk. Knowing Alistair, he was probably still drunk from the night before.
“Oh my God! What did the note say?”
Laila blushed and handed it to her roommate.
“You look beautiful in the morning. I can’t wait to see you again! Shit, girl, you’ve already got this boy wrapped around your finger!” Tennille smiled proudly at her roommate who had seemed so shy only yesterday.
“I don’t know if it’s really like that. He was just trying to be sweet.”
“Exactly! Sterling Pierce isn’t sweet. Sure he’s nice and a gentleman. But no girl would actually describe him as sweet. He usually doesn’t give anyone a second glance, even if he’s trying to sleep with them.”
“Do you think that’s all he’s doing with me? Trying to get me into bed?”
“I seriously doubt it. If he didn’t get into your panties last night, he would have given up already. But this,” Tennille waved the purple post-it note wildly in front of Laila. “This is ground breaking!”
Laila laughed. She couldn’t help it. Her head was telling her to keep away from Sterling, but her heart and her body didn’t want to allow that. The goofy grin hadn’t left her face since she woke up that morning and read his note. She couldn’t wait to see him again.