Girls Like Boys

Careless Boys

Ramsy and I stayed for another couple hours, mingling in the back of the house with all the other people who were too tired or too hot to dance. Ram did most of the talking, even answering some of the questions that were directed more towards me than her, but she didn’t mind. She kept her arm against mine as we stood there, speaking with people who we probably wouldn’t see again until another party.

And when Ramsy tried to go to the bathroom, she stumbled just enough for me to realize that it was time to cut her off before she actually got drunk. I pried the cup from her fingers and handed it to the first person with empty hands and dragged her towards the bathroom so she could pee and we could leave. Ram wasn’t a noticeable drunk, she spoke the same way she did whether she’d had five drinks or none at all, but sometimes her apathy towards hiding it came out, and I’d realize that she was farther gone than she let on.

I found a bathroom on the second floor just as another girl came barreling out of it and I shoved Ramsy inside, knowing she was well enough to do it on her own. I pulled the door closed just as she flipped the light on and called me an asshole. I ignored her and leaned against the back of the door instead.

“You ready to go?” she asked when she came out, standing steady in her heels. She caught the way I watched her and wrapped her arm around my shoulders, shaking her head at my concern. “I’m fine, Cody, just tired.”

I wrapped my arm around her similarly and was a bit concerned when I realized she didn’t have her purse any longer. “Ram, where’s your bag?” I asked quickly, knowing that we’d picked it up after we finished dancing earlier, “I thought you had it on you?”

She looked down like she was surprised it wasn’t strapped across her chest. “I thought I did too,” she said, her concern growing with mine. “I mean, I know I had it, I just don’t remember setting it down. Oh shit, Code.”

I cursed under my breath in a similar fashion and the two of us took to the stairs, heading back into the living room to see if we’d left it behind when we thought we hadn’t. But it wasn’t near the unused fireplace, so we deviated to the kitchen, hoping that she might of set it down one of the times she came back for drinks. I couldn’t hear her anyway, so we just searched, sticking to each other because her phone was in her bag and if I lost her in this house too, I doubted I’d find her.

We were outside fifteen minutes later. I was glaring holes into her head as she paced the sidewalk, mumbling obscenities under her breath and feeling terrible.

“The truck keys are in that bag,” I said coldly, “and my wallet, with all my IDs and my debit card.”

“I know, Cody!” she said, lifting her head up quickly to look at me. “I’m sorry! We’ll find it!”

“If we were going to find it, Ramsy, we would’ve found it already! I can’t believe you didn’t pay attention to it! We’re eight hours away from home, how am I supposed to pay for anything if I don’t have any money? And better yet, how are we going to get the truck back to the dorm? And even if we do walk back and get my set, they’re not going to let us in the building without our IDs because it’s after eleven.”

“I really don’t need you piling on the guilt, Cody,” Ramsy answered. “I feel bad enough already, alright? We’ll find the bag and all our stuff and in the future we’ll wear clothes with pockets.”

We took a couple minutes to cool off before we decided to go back in and give the house another look. The place was huge and there were still what felt like hundreds of students inside, so I was doubtful that we’d find it, but the look on Ramsy’s face made me keep my mouth shut as we ducked back in one after the other. Ram quickly sobered up.

We decided to separate this time and cover more ground. We planned to meet back outside in twenty minutes that way we wouldn’t keep searching if one of us found it. Ram took the living room, kitchen, and bathroom, and I headed for the back of the house where we’d spent most of the second half of the party.

I was halfway through searching the room when someone’s arm slipped around my shoulders for the second time tonight, his hand brushing my hair out of my face. “What do you want, Travis?” I asked, sliding out from under him as I pulled a couple pillows off the couch and tossed them to the other end in a hopeless effort.

I could practically hear him grinning behind me. “What are you looking for?”

I thought about not answering him, hoping that my silence would bore him and make him leave, but when he grabbed me by the shoulders and turned me around, he repeated the question, and this was the first time I actually got a good look at his eyes. They were dark green. The darkest green that I’d ever seen in someone’s skull, and I faltered for a moment as he stared down at me, hyperaware of the effect that he had when he did that.

I pushed his hands off me and backed away. “My sister lost her purse,” I said, sliding my arms over my chest, “and the car keys are in there. Everything’s in there, actually.”

Travis’s smile dropped for a moment and he pressed his lips into a thin line. “Ah, shit, I’m sorry,” he said. “Did you check the bathrooms? People tend to leave a lot of their shit in there.”

“We were up there when we realized it was missing,” I replied hopelessly. I sighed and pushed my fingers through my hair, one step closer to tying it up just to keep it out of my face.

“No, I mean the downstairs bathroom,” Travis said, shaking his head at me like I’d misinterpreted his question, his hand coming up to grab my wrist and pull my fingers away from my face. “I saw Ramsy go in there way earlier. Did you check there?”

“What downstairs bathroom?” I asked quickly, looking the boy straight in the face. “I thought she only went upstairs.”

Travis grinned and slipped his fingers from my wrist to grab my hand. He dragged me across the room and it was hard not to notice the way people slipped out of the way for him. He didn’t speak to any of them, and it was subtle, but after spending the whole night pushing through people, it was very clear that they shifted out of his way as he pulled me in their direction.

He led me through the kitchen and around to a back hallway. There were only a few people lingering here and it was practically dead silent compared to the noise we’d just escaped. Travis let go of me as he moved to a small sliding door near the end of the hall. If Travis had told me it was a bathroom, I would’ve assumed it was a linen closet. But it was closed and locked, and Travis banged on it loudly, calling for whoever was in there to open up.

He rolled his eyes when he heard the voice on the other side, telling him to go the fuck away, by name.

“Benji, you open this fucking door right now!” Travis shouted, smacking his palm into the wood, “Don’t make me come in there when your pants are still down around your ankles, because I’ll do it, you know I will!”

I ran my tongue along my top teeth and turned away so I wasn’t looking directly at the door. I definitely didn’t want to see anything of that nature if Travis did manage to pry it open. Travis spared a glance at me and I shot him an annoyed look when I saw the smirk on his face.

Travis’s tone turned lighter as he started negotiating with the couple in the bathroom. He leaned his forearm against the door and spoke nicely, grinning as he shook his head at this situation. There was a couple at the far end of the hall and for the first time tonight I wished the music was louder so it would drown out the sounds of their mouths clashing together.

I looked back quickly as the door slid open, disappearing into the wall, and immediately came face to face with a guy, as he pressed back into the sink, buttoning his pants. The girl was sitting on the sink, her legs spread as he leaned back into her to make room for Travis. Both their eyes landed on me, and I turned away.

“Hey, Trav,” she said as he leaned into the bathroom, and even though I couldn’t see her expression, the sound of her voice and the other's guy’s unimpressed grunt made it clear that she was more than just being friendly. I leaned back against the wall and watched Travis mostly disappeared into the bathroom, searching the small space for the purse.

After a moment Travis straightened up slightly and looked back at me. “It is black?”

I jumped forward, leaning against his back so I could see what he was reaching for. He pulled the bag out from the far side of the toilet and I let out a relieved sigh as I saw it. “Yes,” I told him quickly, reaching to take it from him, “Thank god.” I clutched the thing to me and slipped the strap across my body, reaching in blindly to feel for our things.

“Or y’know, you could thank me, since I’m the one who found it,” Travis answered. He quickly thanked ‘Benji’ and winked at the couple as he slid the door closed for them. I was shocked when I heard the girl let out a very pleased sound, despite the face that she’d been trying to flirt with Travis just moments before.

Travis’s smirk was back on his face.

“Thank you,” I said gratefully. “Really, I wasn’t sure what we were going to do if we didn’t find it.” I walked beside him back into the kitchen, going through the entryway as he paused to let me go first. He stopped at the island that held countless now-empty alcohol bottles. I stopped too, another question entertaining my thoughts. “Wait- how did you even know that Ramsy went back there?” I asked, tilting my head up to look at him completely.

He pulled his bottom lip between his teeth for a moment and turned his head away as he reached for a bottled water in the center of the counter. “I thought she was you,” he said, dark eyes turning back to me with that smirk. “I was severely disappointed when I realized she wasn’t.”

He handed me the water bottle, effectively changing the subject before I could even register what he’d said. “Have you been drinking? I could drive you back to the dorm tonight and bring you back tomorrow to pick up your car so you don’t have to worry about it.”

“I didn’t drink barely anything,” I answered, “but thanks.”

“So I guess you owe me one now, huh?”

My eyes snapped up to his. “No, I don’t,” I denied.

“Yes, you do,” he laughed, leaning against the island as he slid his arms across his chest. “I helped you find your purse, which I mean, practically saved your entire life, so you owe me one.”

“First of all, I didn’t ask you to help me, you just have this annoying habit of showing up, and second, you didn’t specify beforehand that accepting your help would mean that I ‘owe you one’, so it doesn’t count.”

He raised his eyebrows at me, smiling. “Well I already know what I want, so it’s too late, Cody. You’re going to have to comply.” He reached out and took the water bottle from me before opening it and taking a drink. Then he simply put the lid back on and handed it back to me.

I just looked at him. “What do you even want from me?” I asked, setting the bottle down on the counter and turning my attention back to him. "Because I really have to go find my sister and take her home.”

He nodded and stepped away from the counter, grabbing the water and putting his other arm back around my shoulders. “That’s fine, I’ll walk you out,” he said without argument, tucking me into his side so that my fingers brushed against his gray t’shirt when I crossed my arms.

I sighed loudly and annoyingly so that he’d get the point I was trying to make with it, and he grinned, leading me out into the the hallway and then through the living room. He separated from me only long enough to open the front door and follow me out. Ramsy was standing on the sidewalk and she noticed him first, and then the bag.

“Oh holy fuck,” she said, racing to grab the bag from me and pull it to her. “Thank the fucking lord, baby jesus.”

I slipped the strap over my head as she continued to pull on it, suffocating the crap out of me as she did so. I let her take it, but gave her another harsh look. But she was too busy thanking all the gods she could think of to even pay me any attention.

Travis spoke up. “Like I just told your sister, you really should be thanking me since I’m the one who found it, but I’ll let it slide.” He grinned when Ramsy noticed him standing next to me again, and her face blanked for half a second before she looked at me, all her questions in her expression.

I rolled my eyes. “Ramsy, this is Travis, Travis, Ramsy. He found it in the back bathroom.”

Something seemed to click for Ram. “Oh my god, I forgot about that!” she said. “I can’t believe I was that stupid.” She looked at Travis then, slipping the purse on and reaching inside for the car keys. “How’d you know it was in there?”

“Lucky guess,” he answered, eyes flashing with his lie. “So, Cody said you two are heading home. I’ll walk you to the your car, that way we can make sure one of you doesn’t get lost.” He stepped up so that he was right beside me and his arm brushed against mine, waiting for us to lead the way.

Ramsy was surprised for a moment, but she recovered quickly and let his snarky comment go. She was too busy naming all the things she found in our bag. She nodded to tell me the taser was there. Everything seemed to be accounted for.

When she was thoroughly satisfied with her investigation, Ramsy looked up and over my head at the guy walking next to me. “So Travis, how old are you?” she questioned.

“Twenty-one,” he answered, “I’m a junior.”

“Are you in Theta Chi?”

“No,” he obliged easily. “Just a lot of my friends. I’ve got my own place off campus.”

We walked through the grass this time, unlike on the way here, and my heels kept annoyingly slipping into the dirt as I walked. Ram didn’t seem to be having any issues though, she just continued questioning Travis. I tried to walk on the balls of my feet only, but even that wasn’t helping.

I stumbled slightly for a moment, heel getting caught in the dirt, and Travis grabbed my hand quickly, his fingers slipping between mine as he held me steady. I looked at him, but he was looking at Ramsy, easily taking part in her interrogation. I tried to pull my hand away, but he tightened his grasp.

“I’m an aeronautics and mechanical engineering major,” he said, surprising us both. I caught the little smirk that came on his face when he saw the look on mine. I rolled my eyes and it got bigger. He tapped patterns on the back of my hand.

Ramsy slowed down as we got to the truck and I wished she’d just shut up and get inside, but she wasn’t relenting. In an attempt at ending this, I held my free hand out for the keys and Ramsy forked them over, moving automatically to the passenger’s side.

Travis grinned and looked at the black truck. “This is yours?”

“Yeah.” I tried to pull away and walk to the driver’s side but he held on and came with me, my arm stretched out beside me as he caught up. I saw the look Ramsy shot me when she noticed his fingers through mine.

“It was nice meeting you Travis,” she said quickly, grinning at him from where she stood - up on the truck. She waited for his reply and then got in, slamming the door behind her, trying to make herself seem interested in her phone.

I turned around to say goodbye but Travis was right there, leaning with his arm against the car. “I wouldn’t have pinned you for a truck type of girl,” he said. “Matching VW bugs maybe, but this?”

I let my facial expression tell him just how funny he was.

The bottom of the window started just below my shoulders and I leaned back against it, waiting for him to say whatever he was going to before he left. Travis was a good deal taller than me, though, and when he leaned down, he was all up in my personal space.

I tried to look completely unaffected.

“You still owe me one,” he said, grinning. “I won’t forget.”

“I will,” I muttered, sliding my arm against his stomach to push him back. I turned and pulled the door open as he came around, fingers curling around the top of the door while he held it open for me. Climbing up in a dress with him watching me was and entirely different story compared climbing up on my own. He slipped into the space between the open door and me before I could close it.

“It was nice meeting you, Ramsy,” he said, leaning across me to say goodbye to my sister. “I’ll see you around.”

“You too! Thanks for finding my purse!”

He stepped back and his eyes landed on me. “No problem.” His voice lowered. “I’ll see you later, Cody.” He pushed the door closed and backed up to the grass in front of us as I started it up and turned the lights on. Ramsy was already talking about him and I tried not to look at him as he pulled his cigarette out of his back pocket and slipped it between his lips.

“Holy crap, Cody! What happened?”

I shot Ramsy a look. “Nothing happened,” I said, pulling out into the main street. “He found me inside, helped me find your purse, and we left.”

“Shut up,” she said, pushing her hair back out of her face, “but that boy is totally into you. He probably would’ve kissed you into next week if I hadn’t been here. I’m so sorry about that, by the way, by the time I realized, it was too late to turn back and I didn’t want to say that I forgot something because he already knew about the purse, so there was really nowhere for me to go.”

“Relax, I’m glad you were here,” I told her, looking at the building across the street to make sure we were going the right direction, “and he wasn’t going to kiss me, I think he’s just like that on an everyday basis.”

“I don’t know, Code. He looked pretty taken with you.”

I rolled my eyes. “I’m pretty sure he’s pretty ‘taken’ will all the girls. He’s probably had sex with half the university.”

“Or they just all want to have sex with him,” she answered, always the glass half-full to my glass half-empty, even when it got annoying. “Oh, and by the way, what was that whole 'you owe me one' thing about?”

I couldn’t stop myself from looking like she’d just caught me doing something I wasn’t supposed to be. “I owe him a favor or something, I don’t know,” I muttered. “He found the bag and now he’s blackmailing me.”

Ram grinned conspiratorially. “To do what?”

“I don’t know,” I shot at her. “Can we please just let this go? I’m still mad at you for losing your purse.”

She sat back against the seat. “No, you’re not.”

“Yes, I am.”

“No, you’re not, because you got Travis out of this.”

I scowled. “I didn’t get anyone out of anything because I don’t want him.”

She rolled her eyes and settled down into her seat. “Fine, Code, but you’re allowed to have a little fun, you know. It doesn’t always have to be a life or death situation. We’re in freaking Alabama, for Christ’s sake.”

I glared at her across the dark cab. “Yeah and if Charlie even so much as hears about anything that happened tonight, anything at all, he’s going to send Wesley down here indefinitely. How much fun will we be having then, Ramsy?”

“Wesley might be worth it if you could get a piece of that boy.”

“If you like him so much then you sleep with him. He probably wouldn’t know the difference anyway.”

Ram and I stayed in an uneasy silence for the rest of the ride back, but it was gone by the time I pulled into a parking space. She slipped the taser from her bag back into the glove compartment and I handed over the keys so she could lock it. We climbed out together, the parking lot lit up by police call boxes and bright white street lamps. I could already tell that campus was different at this time of night. There was a parade of people heading back to the dorms, chattering to themselves.

Ram linked her arm with mine and we headed back down the street. When we walked through the door of our dorm, two girls stopped us at the front desk and made us show them our school IDs and our residence hall cards, which were basically just laminated pieces of paper that were color coded and had our names printed on them. Ours were yellow.

“Looks good. You two have a good night.”

We rode up back to our room and the floor was silent. We weren’t sure if Natalie and Kiera or the others had made it home yet, but we hadn’t seen them at the party for a good couple hours before we left, not that we were actively searching for them. We quietly trudged down the hall to our room and Ram unlocked it, flipping on the overhead light as we tumbled inside.

“I’m so tired,” she moaned, practically nose-diving onto her bed.

“I need a shower,” I added, grabbing the bathrobe Charlie bought, a towel, and my shower caddy. I unzipped the back of my heels and pulled them off, grateful to have them gone, and then peeled my tights off, leaving myself in just my dress. “I’ll be back,” I said to Ram, as she groaned and shifted so that she could reach her feet and unclasp her heels.

I slipped my feet into my flip flops and left Ram to it. I warily crossed the hall into the bathroom. I’d been in here once earlier in the day, but didn’t really get a good look at the shower section of the room, so when I walked into the little alcove nearest the door I’d come through, I was relieved that each shower was individual, with frosted glass doors that locked from the inside.

I showered slowly, enjoying the hot water and the how it heated up my shampoo and made the whole bathroom smell amazing. I washed quickly and tried to shave even faster and then rinsed the conditioner from my hair before shutting off the water. I dried off the best I could and wrapped myself up in my robe to go back across the hall.

Ram was sitting at her desk when I walked in. “Did you know that we have a mandatory freshman orientation tomorrow?” she asked, swiveling around to look at me.

“No.” I kicked the flip flops off and pressed my toes into the carpet that Ramsy’d picked out.

“Well, we do, and it’s at nine A.M,” she grumbled, causing me to turn around and rip the booklet from her hands.

I scanned the page quickly, reading the welcoming and informational paragraphs that said that all freshman had been assigned a day and time for their orientation this weekend. We’d been picked alphabetically, and this was one of the only times that being at the beginning was turning out to be a bad thing.

“That sucks,” I complained, handing the magazine back to her. “What else does that thing say?”

She read while I got dressed. “Just a bunch of stuff about the welcome events. Well, the school sponsored ones at least. That party is definitely not on the list.” She quieted for a moment. “But there’s a picnic tomorrow. There’s going to be games and bouncy-houses and stuff.” She grinned at me as I pulled a t’shirt over my head.

“And food too, hopefully.”

“And Travis too, hopefully.”

I just about choked on my own saliva.

“Don’t look at me like that,” she complained, dropping the papers back onto her desk and moving to her bed. “I like him. It’s not my fault you’re cold-hearted.”

“He’s a junior. He probably has better things to do than play on bouncy-houses,” I retorted, grabbing my phone from my bed and tossing myself down. I checked my messages, seeing a couple from Wes that I’d missed during the party. I knew he was working at the bar now, but I sent him a couple back promising that we’d had a goodnight and that I’d call Charlie in a couple days to check in.

Wes messaged me back right away.

“Have you talked to Wesley?” I asked Ramsy.

“Yeah, I texted him to see if they got home. He texted me back, so I assumed he was still alive.”

“Same here.” I sent my brother a goodnight text and climbed into bed, thinking about how we’d only slept away from a him a handful of times. It felt weird not to have him on the other side of the wall.