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Buying His Virgin
Author: Lila Younger

Olivia


Please let Terry be late for once, I pray to whoever might be listening as I run up the three flights of stairs in the Student Union Building to our headquarters. Please, please, please let him be late.

Today’s been awful and it isn’t even noon. I accidentally turned off my alarm instead of hitting snooze, I got rainwater splashed all over me by a passing car, and I almost ate a hair in my banana muffin (no more cafeteria food. Ever.). If the rest of the day could just run smoothly, that would be great. As I turn around the corner though, my heart sinks. Of course he isn’t late. Terry is never late. I puff the last few steps to the door, and he’s already clearing his throat.

“I’ve already been waiting here for twenty minutes,” Terry says peevishly.

My best friend Adaline, who’s standing beside him, rolls her eyes.

“We were only supposed to meet here five minutes ago. Why don’t you cut Liv some slack?”

“As editor-in-chief, she should be-”

“Yes, yes, we get it,” Addy says, waving her manicured hand dismissively. “You can do a much better job. We know that. But Steve promoted Liv to the job, so let’s just get on with it shall we?”

“I’m sorry Terry,” I say quickly as I pull out the keys. Not that it matters. The guy lives to find fault in me. I’ll probably be hearing him complain for the next hour or two. I can feel the headache pulsing at my temples already.

Once the doors are open, we quickly bring all of the boxes into the paper’s office. I’ve been here since first year and I’ve gotten to know these four walls pretty well. I know which chair is the annoyingly squeaky one. I know just how hard to bang the photo copier when it decides to stop working. And as editor-in-chief, I even know about the hidden compartment in the back of my desk, where we can store secret stuff. Well, maybe past editors did. I usually just stick a stash of candy bars for late nights that I don’t want to share with Addy.

Since I am technically late, I get down to business right away. We’re doing a fundraiser for the paper with candy flowers for Valentine’s Day. A local candy shop has graciously agreed to make them for us for a discounted rate. All we have to do is wrap it up nice with some red cellophane, tie on some cards, make up some bouquets, and sell them in a few places around campus. It was my idea really. The hope is that by fundraising a few times a year, we can put out an edition every two weeks instead of once a month, and make the paper more relevant to the students. The whole staff seemed pretty excited about the idea except for, surprise surprise, Terry.

Whatever. I push Terry’s opinions firmly out of my mind. I know that I’m doing a good job here at the paper. I’ve wanted to be a journalist all my life, ever since I was a little girl bothering my neighbors with “interviews”. I picked this university specifically because they had an excellent program for journalism. I even started up an unofficial blog for my high school reporting on games and events.

“Why don’t you get started on the signs for the tables Terry, while Addy and I work on wrapping up the flowers?” I suggest. “You can use my office. It’s got a bigger table in it.”

Terry glowers at me, but heads to my office, closing the door behind him.

“Thank God,” Addy whispers, tossing her honey blonde hair over her shoulder. “Don’t ever leave me alone with him again! I swear, he can find fault in anything.”

“Don’t I know it,” I say with a sigh. We gather up everything we need and dump it onto the computer desks. I pull a roll of cellophane to me and start cutting it out for the candy flowers. “Maybe I should just give him my job.”

“You can’t,” she says, putting a hand on my shoulder. “You know he’s just going to find something else to complain about. The guy’s not happy unless he’s making everyone else unhappy.”

I shake my head.

“It’s not just that,” I say, pushing my glasses up my nose. Because I was so late, I didn’t have time to put in my contacts even. “I tried calling my parents last night.”

“Ah,” she says sympathetically.

“Yeah,” I say with a grimace. “They’re still upset that I chose journalism. They’re convinced I won’t find a job when I get out of school. If ever. And they’re mad that they paid for four years of school that’ll go to waste. I think maybe telling them wasn’t the best idea.”

She was the one who told me to tell them in the first place. Let’s just say it was not a very Merry Christmas this winter break. In fact, my parents and I barely spoke three words to each other after, including the goodbye when I left to drive back to school early. In fact, I don’t even think my parents hugged me, and they’re big huggers. Especially my mom. That’s when I knew that this was bad, even worse than the time I sneaked out of the house for Cindy Martin’s seventeenth birthday.

“Well not telling them in the first place wasn’t the best idea,” Addy corrected me. “But believe me, finding out at graduation would have been worse.”

“Maybe,” I say doubtfully. “I miss talking to my mom though.”

Despite our share of bad fights while I was a teenager, my mom and I are pretty close now. So it feels like I’ve lost more than just my parent. I’ve lost a close friend out of all of this too. And then I feel a surge of anger, because it’s not like I picked journalism lightly. I’m very aware that newspapers are going down the hole, that everyone reads blogs these days. But there’ll always be a need for the news, and people to find and report them. The fact that they treat me like a kid, as if I’m completely clueless about how the world works, is pretty infuriating. It actually just makes me that much more determined to become a successful journalist.

“I know just what you need,” Addy says confidently.

“You do?”

“Sure. We should go to that speed dating event down at Ol’ Tav,” she says.

I shake my head immediately.

“No way. I don’t need that in my life at all.”

The Ol’ Tavern is the student bar on campus. They’re hosting a speed dating night as a counterpoint for those who aren’t dating someone on Valentine’s Day. It actually is a pretty good idea, and I really wish I had thought of it myself, but there’s no way I want to go to one. Speed dating is for people like Addy: blonde, tall, gorgeous as a supermodel. It’s definitely not for people like me. I don’t even know how to curl my hair without that horrible singed smell. The only reason someone like Addy and someone like me ever got to be friends was because we ended up in the same dorm room in first year. Underneath all that mascara and hair spray was an awesome, funny girl who loved Gilmore Girls just as much as I did. Addy even agreed to come with me to the paper in first year, although her goal is to become a fashion editor for Vogue.

“Wait. Hear me out first okay,” Addy says. “When was the last time you dated?”

“There was Josh-”

“Josh doesn’t count,” she says. “You bailed on that date thirty minutes in. No, the last time you had a date, a real date, was before I knew you back in what? Tenth grade? That’s crazy.”

I sort of take that with a grain of salt, because Addy has never been without a boyfriend. She somehow manages to move from one to the next, not quite cheating, but definitely sort of hanging onto one man until a new one has been secured. It’s been a point of contention between us, but at this point, we’ve agreed to disagree.

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