Girls Like Boys

A Damn Shame

I’d always heard the phrase “everything’s bigger in Texas," but the size of the houses on Greek Row really made me wonder if that applied to Alabama too. There were a half dozen houses on this section of the street and the length of road in front of each one was filled with cars parked every which direction. I watched Aubrey’s Saturn closely as she maneuvered through the narrowed road and pulled in parallel between a couple smaller vehicles. Despite there being cars in front of every driveway and lights on in almost every Greek house, it was still painfully obvious which one was hosting the party tonight.

The Theta Chi house was ginormous, all lit up, and crawling with people. It was brown brick and white molding with huge two story pillars spanning the front and countless rectangular windows all the way around. It looked like a brown version of the White House, with steps leading up to double glass doors and students spilling out onto the flat, green grass yard and second floor balconies. I spared a glance at Ram as she turned in her seat, grinning back at the fraternity house like she was a couple minutes away from jumping out and making me park the truck on my own.

But we managed to find a spot about four houses down. The cars weren't parked parallel - instead pulled direction up onto the grass to make more room. I pulled in perpendicular to the street, trying my best to keep straight between two other vehicles. I turned the key in the ignition and the truck shut off, taking the lights with it. I caught Ramsy open the glove compartment and slide one of the tasers into her purse as I reached to grab my phone from the cup holder and hand it to her. She met my eyes for a second and then dropped the little machine in with the other one.

“Are you guys ready?” Ramsy asked, sounding more excited than nervous.

“Hell yes,” Kiera cheered, laughing as Ram slid out and opened the back door for them. I locked the doors and held onto the keys until I could put them in Ram's bag myself.

“Lets go tear this place up,” Kiera shouted, throwing her fist into the air. “I’m ready for some dancing and some drinks! And bring on the frat boys!”

We laughed and Ram answered, shaking her head. “I don’t think frat boys are really going to be my style. But football boys definitely are, so lets see where this night takes us!” She looped her arm through mine and we walked down the side of the road along the cars, back to the Theta house and the three other girls who’d invited us along.

Olivia cheered when she saw us coming down the road at them. “Welcome to ‘Bama, ladies!” The three of them pushed away from the car and turned to lead us down the sidewalk that led directly to the Theta's front door. The three of them in front of us spoke like they were giving a tour and introducing us newcomers to the wonderful world that was Greek parties.

The front doors were double-hung and thrown wide open so the girls led us through without stopping. We made it about five feet inside before we simply couldn’t walk in any farther. Aubrey slid between a mass of bodies and reached back to take Olivia’s arm, pulling her through the hallway. The music was so loud that I couldn’t hear a thing she was saying back to us, but I caught on quickly that we were heading wherever the alcohol was. And Aubrey seemed to know exactly where that was located.

The furniture in the living room was pushed back against the walls and the open space was filled with dancing people, their bodies pressed so tightly together that nobody could fit between them. Ram pulled me along as I absentmindedly watched them, their eyes half-lidded and their mouths more open than closed as they breathed each other in.

“Get out there, girl!” Taylor shouted back to me, eyes darting towards the makeshift dance floor.

I grinned and shook my head, pressing forward into Ram as we rounded a hallway and the previous room was out of sight. The music was more muted, just enough that I could hear conversations, but still loud enough that I could feel it in the floor as we walked. Aubrey pushed through a final swinging door and the seven of us came out in a back house kitchen where the granite island was loaded with plastic cups and liquor bottles.

“There’s a keg if anyone wants beer,” Aubrey said, pointing towards the dishwasher and the big metal alcohol dispenser that sat next to it. She was already grabbing cups and mixing things up like she owned the place. The few people scattered around the room took notice, and she flashed them a grin as she passed the cups down. “Oh, and there might be a few beer bottles in the fridge, too. I know they keep some around.”

“Aubrey’s boyfriend’s lives here,” Taylor explained to the group of us across the island. “She spends all her time here too, so she’s pretty assimilated to all this.” She lifted her drink into the air as though she was referring to everything around us.

“His name is Perry,” Aubrey obliged, taking a hefty sip of whatever concoction she’d come up with. “He’s vice president.”

“Where is he?” Kiera asked, glancing around the kitchen like he might come walking through at any minute. “I mean, why didn’t you come with him?”

“We’ll meet up later,” Aubrey answered, grinning. “I’m sure I’ll run into him somewhere.”

Ram and I both took the drinks that she was shoving in ours hands, but I took one sip and set it back down on the island as the girls shifted around, turning back to head out to the dance floor. Ram had her muted grin on her face and she raised her eyebrows when she caught me looked at her. She shrugged her shoulders as if to say "when in Rome."

I quickly stopped at the stainless steel fridge as we passed it, grabbing one of the bottled beers to go. I popped it open on the edge of the counter and took a swig as Ram pulled me from the kitchen and back out to the living room, sliding between sweaty masses of people like she was completely in her element.

The drinks were soon forgotten on the fireplace mantel as the group of us slipped our way out on the dance floor. I let Ram take me with her and soon the two of us were dancing together, clothes tangling and fingers clasped as we moved. We hadn’t danced since prom, but this felt like a whole different rodeo.

I pushed my fingers up through my hair as I spun, turning to face my sister as I laughed, matching her move for move. She grabbed onto my sides and pulled me into her, busting out in laughter as she spun her back into my chest and lifted our hands above our heads. I was sweating from the sheer number of people this close together and the music made every other sound nonexistent. Our new friends and floor mates were around us, separated by varying degrees of people, and I caught a glance of Aubrey with her arms around some tall guy’s neck, her hips sliding into his. I figured he was Perry.

Every now and then, a guy was interested in trying to slip between Ram and I, but we turned so that it was us facing him rather than him in the middle. We could see what the ultimate goal was, and we weren’t into anyone that saw twins first and separate people later. We managed to put people between us and those type of guys, but in a crowd of drinking people, there were always more. One guy practically toppled into us, wrapping his arms around both our shoulders, head between ours as he laughed in our ears. “Twins! he yelled, pulling back enough to grin at us without pulling away. His face was only a few inches from ours.

“No, I’ve never met her before tonight!” I shouted back, sliding out from under his bare arm. “Must just be some freaky cosmic phenomenon or something.”

Ram laughed loudly and pushed him off her too. She grabbed my hand and pulled me through the people near us who were too wrapped up in their own little worlds to slide or turn out of the way. We ducked and twisted our way out and made it back to the spot where she’d left our bag and drinks, laughing and sweating as we separated for air. I pulled my cell phone out of her bag and reached up for the beer on the mantel. Ram shot me a look and set it back down before I could take a drink.

“I’m going to get new ones!” she shouted, mouth close to my ear. “Okay?”

I nodded quickly and pointed towards the way we'd come in. “Air!” I said only, watching as it registered and she nodded, sliding past me back to the kitchen while I headed to the front. My phone said that it was only 10:30, but didn’t seem like we’d been here two and half hours already. Somewhere in that time, someone had shut the front doors, so I grabbed onto the handle and twisted it open, letting myself practically topple out onto the front steps.

There were quite a few people lingering out here in groups in four or five, chatting and laughing and nursing alcoholic beverages. I stepped down and went around to lean against one of the side columns, bummed that the storm had held off and there wasn’t any movement in the air. It was hot and humid and I was still sweating in my dress and regretting the tights. Alabama weather and I were not going to get along.

I spent the next couple of minutes texting Wesley, trying to see if they’d made it home and how Charlie was. But I only got a couple texts back before I realized someone was coming at me, and it wasn’t Ram. He was tall, with dark blonde hair that was long and parted and swooshed back so some of the strands framed his face. He wore long khaki shorts and a Bama tank and was looking right at me as he walked over.

Part of me wanted to just ignore him and reply to my brother, but that would’ve involved standing there like an idiot while he spoke directly to me.

He stood on my left and slipped his hands into his pockets, smiling just a little bit. “Hey, I’m Logan.”

I looked up at him again and put my phone to sleep. “Cody,” I answered, watching the reaction I knew I’d get. He smiled, genuinely this time, and nodded, taking it in.

“Cody,” he repeated, testing the name on his tongue and then sliding his hands out of his pockets, “That’s definitely different. I don’t think I’m going to be forgetting that one any time soon.”

“Might get it mixed up though,” I said, glancing up at the people on the balcony above us. They were shouting out to someone in the yard, but I could barely make out what they were saying. Logan didn’t seem to notice at all, or maybe he was just used to it.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

I started ignoring the balcony crowd too, and looked at Logan. He honestly looked clueless as to what I was referring to. “Oh, nothing,” I said when I realized he must not have seen Ramsy and I together yet. “I just have a sister who looks a lot like me, so people are always mixing us up.”

He sidestepped and leaned on the column three feet away from me. “I don’t know how they manage to do that. I mean seriously, any guy that can’t keep a gorgeous girl’s name straight is an idiot.” He grinned and pointed at my phone as I flipped it around in my fingers. “Am I keeping you from something, Cody?”

“No, but it seems I’m keeping you from the party. By all means, don’t feel obligated to stay out here and waste your night with me.” I grinned easily and Logan laughed, dipping his head back. His Adam’s Apple pressed out against his throat and I dropped my eyes, pulling my bottom lip between my teeth when I looked back up to him.

“I'm not wasting my time, but we'd have even more fun if you’d come inside with me,” he said, eyes glancing towards the glass double doors. “I mean, dancing with me has to be a lot more fun than just standing out here alone.”

“I’m just waiting for someone,” I spoke, and kept my eyes on him as he registered that.

“Your boyfriend?” he questioned, suddenly more sheepish than just a minute ago.

“No, my-“ I cut off as someone came up behind me and wrapped an arm over my shoulder. It wasn’t Ram because this person was too tall and from the feel of his chest pressing against my shoulder, obviously a guy. It took me a second to turn and catch his face, and when I did, I was too surprised to speak.

The dark haired boy grinned across the gap at Logan. “Hey, man, good to see you again,” he said.

Logan straightened up just the tiniest bit. “Travis, how was your summer?” Logan’s eyes darted back down to me as he spoke, and then up to Travis’s height. “You hung around town, didn’t you? I heard McElroy talking about you having a place somewhere near campus.”

The dark haired, pierced boy nodded, running his tongue over the piece of metal through his lip. “Yeah, not too far from here at all. Just worked and spent the summer getting everything in order.” He paused and glanced down at me, and for the first I realized that I’d been staring at him the whole time, tucked into his side without saying a word. He grinned down at me and then looked back to Logan. “How do you know Cody?”

My name off his tongue surprised me enough that I moved, but I was stuck between him and the column that I’d been leaning on, so the only direction I could go was forward into Logan, or ducking backwards under Travis’s arm. And his fingers were lightly tangled into my hair, so that didn’t seem like a very solid option for a clean escape.

“We just met,” Logan answered, eyes flashing back to mine. “What about you guys?”

“We’re old friends,” Travis spoke, keeping his eyes purposely off me as I frowned at him, leaning into the house and away from him just enough for him to get the message. He held an open beer in his other hand and lifted it to his lips without looking away from Logan.

The blonde stepped back some. “Okay, well you two have fun. I’m gonna go get something to drink and enjoy the party. It was nice meeting you, Cody.”

“You too,” I answered, speaking for the first time since Travis had shown up out of nowhere. I watched Logan round the column and slip through the glass doors and I immediately stepped away from Travis, turning around to face him. “What the hell was that and who are you?”

He grinned and switched the beer to his left hand. “Travis Laughlin,” he said, reaching his right hand out to me. “We met last night at Murphy’s.”

“No, we did not,” I argued, crossing my arms over my chest. “I don’t know who you are or what that was, but it was weird.”

He laughed, head ducking down as he dropped his gaze to the grass. “Oh, come on, Cody, I was just having a bit of fun.” When he looked back up he was smirking and he lifted his beer back to his lips, eyes on me.

“How do you know my name?” I questioned, tone a bit lighter as I tried to remain focused on the interrogation at hand and not the way he looked when he ran his tongue against his lip ring.

“Cody Carrigan,” he answered without answering. “It’s not that hard to figure out. I’m positive you could’ve learned mine too if you cared to ask.” He laughed at what I figured was my reaction and stepped around me back to the porch.

“I don’t care about your name,” I replied said evenly, arms crossed over my chest, composed.

He lingered to look at me, eyes raking from top to bottom, and then coming back up to settle on mine. “Well that’s a damn shame, then isn’t it?” He looked back one last time and grinned before opening one of the doors to the house and walking inside. I could barely hear him say "see you later” over the sound of the music, but I did, and I got stuck wondering if I really would.

Ram found me a minute later. “Woah, you alright?” she asked, pressing the back of her hand to my forehead. “You look a bit flushed, Code.”

I pushed her hand away and nodded, focusing back in on her. “I’m fine. Have you met anyone named Travis tonight?”

She raised her red plastic cup to her lips as she thought about it. “No, there was a Thomas, but no Travis. Why?” she quipped easily, taking a drink.

“That’s his name,” I said as we turned back towards the house. “The guy with the piercing, from the pizza place.”

Ram’s jaw dropped and she grabbed my arm to stop me. “You met him!?” she asked loudly, catching some looks. “I mean, wait, when? Is he here? I can’t believe you met him first.”

I laughed and followed her into the house. She led us through the house and down the hallway to the living room, eyes scanning the everyone we passed. “He just showed up out of nowhere,” I shouted into her ear as we moved through the packed living room. “His name is Travis Laughlin!”
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GUYS - His name is pronounced LAW-LIN. The AUGH part is the same as in DAUGH-TER. So LAUGH-Lin, like DAUGH-Ter. :)