The ride to the restaurant had been torturous for Alistair. Piper’s voice was all he could hear and when she wasn’t speaking, he was annoyed at whoever else was talking. He could see her face in his mind every time she laughed, which seemed to be quite often, and finally decided that he had gone insane. A girl had made him go completely insane.
When he had finally parked the car and the group had clamored out, he took a deep breath and accepted his fate as he walked behind her. The navy blue dress she wore was simple and form fitting, hugging her in all the right areas which seemed to be every part of her body. Her light brown hair was hanging down her back and bounced softly with each step she took. Everything about her was beautiful, but her legs were Alistair’s favorite part. They were long and lean, her perfectly toned muscles showing themselves gracefully as she walked into the restaurant.
“Do you like Italian food?” Alistair heard Laila ask her roommate as they stepped inside.
“I fucking love Italian!” Piper exclaimed animatedly but instantly recognized her mistake.
Laila laughed and Sterling smiled at her but Alistair’s jaw nearly dropped to the floor at her unexpected use of profanity. Perfect. She was fucking perfect and suddenly didn’t seem so intimidating.
“I mean, yes, it’s my favorite,” Piper laughed and blushed. “Sorry.”
The hostess showed them to their table and Alistair followed behind Piper with a boyish grin on his face. He acted quickly, pulling out her chair for her and smiling as she thanked him. With his confidence slightly boosted, Alistair sat down next to her, glancing to his side to see if she was watching him. But she had already turned her attention to the other side of the table where Laila and Sterling were sitting. Frustrated but not defeated, Alistair reached for his napkin and with one dramatic movement, pulled it from the table causing all his silverware to bounce onto the floor.
“Shit,” Alistair swore under his breath as he bent down to collect his utensils.
Piper glanced eagerly across the table at Laila who was returning the same look.Earlier, while they were waiting in the car for the twins to finish their discussion, the two girls had arrived at very different conclusions regarding Alistair’s behavior. Piper was convinced the boy hated her and was merely trying to be nice for Laila’s sake. Laila, on the other hand, admitted she had a different theory which was quite the opposite, but she wouldn’t say anything more. They both agreed, however, that his behavior was comically entertaining, regardless of his motives.
“So,” Sterling started once they were all situated. “How are the other roommates?”
Laila and Piper glance at each other again and burst into laughter.
“We had a house meeting today, before you two came over,” Laila explained. “I think the rules of my dorm room and worse than those at Harper’s.”
“What happened?” Sterling laughed, not really believing his girlfriend.
“It’s really just our one roommate,” Piper said. “Luanne doesn’t want any distractions. Which means no smoking or drinking, no noise after 10 pm, and no boys spending the night.”
“What?” Both Pierce twins asked at the same time.
“She doesn’t believe in pre-marital sex,” Laila said, blushing a deep shade of red and glancing at Sterling. Sterling loved that his girlfriend was still modest after all this time. His brother was well aware of the fact Laila and Sterling were having sex, and her roommate didn’t really seem like the type of girl who would judge. Yet Sterling knew that she wanted to keep their private life just that: private. He preferred it that way too for it made them a stronger couple. He put a loving hand on Laila’s knee and was rewarded with a quick smile.
“Does that mean you’ll be staying with me most nights?” Sterling leaned down and whispered to Laila.
She blushed again and nodded, kissing him quickly on the lips and returning her attention to the conversation.
“So you all agreed to these rules?” Alistair asked, a bit perplexed seeing as they all had their own room and only shared the common area.
“Most weren’t unreasonable,” Piper responded. “Although I doubt Nikki will follow any of them.”
Alistair didn’t know or care who Nikki was. But the Luanne girl was clearly looking out for his best interests. The fewer boys Piper saw on a daily basis, the better his chances would be.
“I think they are all great rules,” he announced.
“You do?” His brother looked at him from across the table with a disbelieving eye.
“Well, sure. I mean, come on, smoking and drinking? That’s so bad for your health.” He turned to Piper and gave her an encouraging look. She nodded in agreement though couldn’t hide the smile on her lips. “And everyone should be entitled to a good night’s sleep. And really, I think you girls will all find that you can be more productive with a little less male interaction.”
What the hell did he just say? Alistair cursed himself again and again as he took in the bewildered looks of his brother and his brother’s girlfriend.But Piper was still smiling, obviously entertained by his ramblings.
“So, does it work the same for guys? Do you plan on being more productive with a little less female interaction?”
“Absolutely,” Alistair vowed.
“You don’t think the girls at Harvard are going to distract you? You think you’ll be able to stay away?”
“I can say, with 100% certainty, that no girl at Harvard can distract me.”
Sterling shook his head but Laila picked up on Alistair’s meaning and flashed him a quick smile. From the looks of things, no girl at Harvard would be distracting Alistair Pierce because there was one girl, in particular, at Yale who had already commanded every last bit of his attention. She looked at her roommate and tried to decipher the girl’s expression. It seemed to be one of friendly competition rather than one of affection, but then again, Laila didn’t know her that well.
“So you’ll stay abstinent?” Piper was asking Alistair and the conversation suddenly became more interesting.
“Why not?” Alistair laughed. “I vow not to sleep with any girls at Harvard for an entire year.”
“Okay,” Piper laughed with him. “You’re on the honor code with this one. If you break your promise, you’ll have to be honest and tell me.”
“Fair enough,” Alistair smiled at her. Piper could feel her heart skip a beat whenever he smiled at her. Something about this boy had her hooked. Maybe it was his dimples or maybe it was his completely bizarre behavior which was so obviously unintentional. She smiled back, excited they were able to converse so easily. Perhaps she had been wrong. It was possible he didn’t hate her at all.
“But you have to promise the same thing,” she heard Alistair say.
Piper laughed again. “Sure. I promise not to sleep with any girl at Harvard for an entire year.”
Sterling and Laila both laughed from the other side of the table.
“Nice try,” Alistair laughed as well. “But, no. You have to swear, on this breadstick, that you won’t sleep with any boys at Yale.” He reached for the basket at the middle of the table and held out a piece of bread for Piper to swear on.
She laughed out loud and looked deep in Alistair’s eyes. Their bright blue color was hiding some kind of pain, but the twinkle in the corner let her know he was having fun with this game. Why not, she thought to herself. Abstaining from sex would probably be good for her, considering how badly she had been used by her ex.
“All right,” she agreed. “I swear on this breadstick that I won’t sleep with any boys at Yale for an entire year.” She clamped her hand down on top of Alistair’s, smashing the breadstick between their palms. Alistair smiled and winked at her and released her hand after a few seconds only to hold the damaged bread across the table to Laila and Sterling.
“You guys want in on this too?”
“Absolutely not,” Sterling quickly said, crossing his arms at his chest.
Laila just laughed and shook her head.
“Hmm,” Alistair mused, biting off an end of the bread and smiling at Piper. “Guess it’s just you and me.”
Piper laughed and reached for the other half of the bread in Alistair’s hand. His heart and head nearly did a somersault as she touched him, seeming to be completely at ease. He felt more and more at ease himself as the dinner progressed and was even bold enough to insist on paying for her dinner. Well, in all honesty, he made Sterling pay because he had helped them move, after all. He was even comfortable enough to let her sit in the front seat with him on the drive back, allowing Laila and Sterling to occupy the back. He knew his brother hated not being close to his girlfriend and when Alistair adjusted the rearview mirror, he wasn’t at all surprised to see Sterling reaching for her hand.
Alistair started the car and turned on the radio, forgetting his CD was already set to play.
“Forgot that was in there,” he muttered mostly to himself as he reached for the eject button.
“Turn that up,” Piper said, simultaneously reaching for the volume knob. Their hands collided and she felt a sense of warmth spread up her arms from her fingers.
“Sorry,” Alistair smiled, retracting his hand. “I didn’t think anyone outside of 1993 still liked Nirvana.”
“Are you kidding me? I love them!” Piper skipped the CD a few songs and then just sat back in her chair and listened. A comfortable silence passed between the two people in the front of the car as the song played its course.
“I swear, that song changed my life this summer,” Piper laughed as she turned the volume down.
“’Drain You’ changed your life?” Alistair asked with a curious grin.
“I know, it sounds ridiculous, and I’ve listened to it so many times before. But those lyrics really hit home earlier this year. ‘I’m lucky to have met you, I don’t care what you think, Unless it is about me, It is now my duty to completely drain you.’” Piper laughed at herself. “That probably sounds so fucked up, doesn’t it?”
Alistair laughed with her. “Kind of.”
Piper laughed again, not offended in the slightest. “At least we all get to start over, you know?”
Alistair glanced at her and nodded. Her head was resting against the seat but turned toward him, a slight smile still lingering on her lips. He smiled back and then returned his attention to the road, an image of Rebecca suddenly coming to his mind. For the first time since her death, he finally felt as if he was ready to start over.
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