Dirty Rush comes out tomorrow! Click here to order your very own copy and scroll down to read the first three chapters.
Chapter 1: TEQUILA, LIME JUICE, AND ADDERALL
“Name?” he asked.
He pretended to squint down at his clipboard, using it as an excuse to give me an up- down scan. Mirrored Ray-Bans sat low on his nose and the words “Legalize Cocaine” were printed in bold black letters on his neon green tank top.
“Hmmm…Taco Bell,” he said, smirking and still eyeing me, “I don’t see any Taco Bells on the list, but you have an honest face and an honest…ass, so I’m gonna go ahead and let you in.”
“I’m honored, thanks.” He opened the door to the house, and I could immediately feel the mayhem booming inside. There was no turning back. I was going to a frat party, the end. I took a deep breath and stepped into the madness.
The house was a massive Victorian mansion with a vaulted foyer that featured one of those huge, curved staircases that you only see in movies. There were two hallways branching out from either side of the main room, which must’ve led to the first floor bedrooms. It wasn’t hard to imagine a century of kids getting hammered in here, hiding behind the illusion of public service. The general scent of the house, however, was equal parts locker room and Victoria’s Secret, and my sandals were sticking to the booze-soaked floor (#gross). My plan was to smile at all the drunk people, stay for ten minutes or until I found Jack, and get the fuck out.
I smoothed my dress and gauged the vibe of the party. It was a raucous symphony of electronic music and the wild screams of college kids in the prime of their lives. Decorations were sparse except for an enormous disco ball and fog machines in every corner. A DJ booth had been set up in one corner, and some Skrillex song was blasting from enormous speakers that hung from the ceiling. There were girls everywhere. Dancing on tables, grinding on guys, taking selfies, and two of them were making out with each other while taking selfies.
“Boom! Those are some gold medal gazongas!” an overweight, overly confident bro slurred in my direction. He was flanked by two other kind-of-fat guys who raised their solo cups in my direction as if to congratulate me.
“Thank you?” I said, offering up a half smile. Even though he was clearly shit faced, it seemed polite to accept his compliment.”
Obviously, the party was not designed with sobriety in mind, so I went looking for a drink. Luckily, lining the walls of the main room were a bunch of lanky boys with mediocre faces holding silver trays with Solo cups filled to the brim with a suspect red liquid. They looked like twelve year olds. A shirtless, kind-of-cute, blonde dude with big teeth leaned in toward me and grinned.
“Sup, hot stuff? Drink?”
“Sure. Thanks,” I said, grabbing a Solo cup off the tray. I took a sip. It tasted like rubbing alcohol, sugar, and sadness. Downing one would’ve been blackout city so I put the cup back onto his tray. “Just kidding. What else you got?”
“Keg’s in the back,” he said, motioning with the tray. A few cups toppled over, sloshing red punch down his arm. “Shit!”
“HEYYYY, RUSSELLSPROUT!” a familiar voice shouted. “What’d I tell you about spilling?” Suddenly, Jack Swanson, the reason I’d come to this god-forsaken party to begin with, appeared in front of me, even more handsome than I’d remembered. I’d only met Jack two days ago when he sat next to me in my Women’s Studies class, but I’d spent almost every hour since then wondering if he’d invited me to this party because he liked me or because it was his job as a ‘frat boy’ to get wide-eyed freshman girls to the house. I was never the type to obsess over guys, but I was going with it. Jack had the type of smile that stuck in your brain for days on end.
He slung his big arm around Russell, who was shit-faced. Cute, but shit-faced, and suddenly looked almost scared.
“Sir! Um..uhh…don’t spill?” offered Russell.
“Correct. Now, please apologize to my friend Taylor here.” “Sorry, Taylor.”
“Also, Sprout, do you mind doing one more little favor?” “Yes, sir.”
“So, you do mind?”
“No, sir. I meant no, sir, I don’t mind.”
“Great. Drop and give me fifty.”
Without even a moment’s hesitation, Russell turned, handed his tray to the pledge next to him, dropped to the floor, and started doing push-ups.
“I’m gonna need to hear you count,” Jack said, crossing his arms and taking a step back to survey the push-ups. Russell looked like he was having a hard time. His face was turning red and he was panting.
“That’s better. Hey, Taylor,” smiled Jack, turning toward me and placing a foot on Russell’s back and crossing his arms. “Glad you could make it to our little get together. I thought you weren’t into the ‘frat scene,’” he said, making air quotes.
“I’m not, but I thought I’d try something new.”
“Well, I’m glad to see you have an adventurous spirit.”
“Adventure’s my middle name.” I smiled back at him, immediately regretting my words. He laughed a bit, “Alright. Noted.”
Jack was so not my type, but there was something about him that gave me serious butterflies. He was dreamy, and I never say guys are dreamy. His skin was golden, maybe from being on a boat all summer, and his eyes were blue and kind. Even though Jack was acting like a typical bro, I could tell there was something else there. It was actually kind of confusing.
“Where’s your drink?” he asked.
“Well, I did have the pleasure of sampling the rape juice if that’s what you mean. It was delicious but a bit too sweet for my taste. I’m gonna grab a beer. You want one?”
“No, no, no, that’s not how this works. I retrieve the beers; you drink them. Not the other way around.”
“Well, then yes, please.”
“Dope. Be right back.”
And with that, Jack took his foot off of Russell’s back and disappeared into the mass of bodies.
Suddenly, Russell made a loud guttural sound mid-pushup and a fountain of pink vomit shot out of his mouth onto the floor in front of me. I jumped back, barely dodging the spray of puke headed toward my sandals. As much as I wanted to wait for Jack, the toxic odors rising from Russell’s mess encouraged a change in locale. Standing next to a puker is not a good look for anyone. I slowly backed away mumbling, “Feel better.”
“HEY, FRESHMAN!” I heard a voice scream. I turned around to see a kind of pretty, kind of short brunette making a beeline for me with a smile on her face. She was sporting a short J. Crew skirt and a polo. She hugged me and laughed. “I’m Meg. How autistic is this party?”
“It’s definitely on the spectrum.”
“Um…nothing. Sorry, have we met?” I asked her as she pulled me into a corner. “Nope, but it’s your lucky day. I’m gonna be your Big sis. Or at least I’ll probably be your Big. Or at least I reallllly think I should be your Big because you’re fucking cute as fuck.” She grabbed me by the elbow and started weaving us through the crowd, hopefully toward the kitchen because I still needed a drink. “Please tell me you didn’t drink the jungle juice.”
“Um, no, but you must be mistaking me for someone else. I haven’t rushed or gotten a bid to pledge or whatever. I don’t really—”
“Oh, it’s okay. No one has yet.” “Rushed?”
“Yesssss,” Meg whispered.
“But you def will. Rush Beta Zeta, that is. Aaaaaand also we’re totally not talking about this now because we don’t want to be involved in a dirty rush scandal. Dealing with the Panhel is never cute. Trust,” she said as she pulled out her phone and quickly responded to a text message. “Excuse me!” she yelled at a guy and girl attempting to dance while eating each other’s faces on the dance floor. The girl looked up at us, squealed, and went in for a drunken hug.
“Sabrina! Please stop dry humping Benjamin on the dance floor. It’s gross. You need to set a good example. There are children present,” she nodded in my direction. The girl looked at us sheepishly.
“I kid! I kid!” Meg roared with laughter. Then, without missing a beat, she put her free hand on the girl’s shoulder, got up in her face and calmly said, “Please use a condom tonight, love.” As we walked away, she turned to me, “That’s Sabrina. She’s a junior BZ and has been with her boyfriend, Ben, since high school. They fuck anywhere and everywhere and have had, like, ten pregnancy scares. So retarded.”
“Yeah!” Meg said enthusiastically. I had no idea how to respond to this.
“So what’s this about me rushing?” I asked instead.
“Wait, you’re Taylor Bell, right? The girl with, like, a three generation legacy?”
“I guess that’s one way to describe me.”
“Your sisters, Kelly and Jess, are fucking Beta Zeta legends. I never met Jess, but Kelly had the best tit-to-waist ratio I’ve ever seen. Yours isn’t bad either.”
I looked down at my white dress and back up at Meg. “Thank you?”
I was a little weirded out by Meg’s knowledge of my family’s history, but she was totally right. I was the fifth woman in my family to attend Central Maryland University. My grandmother, mom and my two sisters had all graduated from CMU and were all proud members of the Beta Zeta Sorority. I was a legacy, I guess, but my decision to come to this school had nothing to do with a sorority. I’d been accepted to a bunch of great colleges besides CMU, but this was the only one that offered me a full, academic scholarship, and the idea of having zero student loans to pay off when I graduated was just too good to pass up. So, ironically, here I was. Still in my home state of Maryland, following in the collegiate footsteps of basically all the women in my entire family. At a fucking frat party.
Meg pushed our way through a line in the kitchen and started pumping a keg. “So, you’re definitely rushing. You’d be retarded not to. God, I’m sorry for saying ‘retarded’ so much. I know I’m not supposed to say that word. I mean, for all I know you have a very retarded cousin or something. But, like, it’s the most accurate way to describe something that’s actually retarded, you know? Like this party. And the thought of you not rushing a sorority you can clearly get into and pull serious rank.” “Rank?”
“Yes, retard. Rank.” Meg handed me a beer.
“What do you mean?” I asked, genuinely intrigued.
“Look, you obvi didn’t hear this from me, but if you rush Beta Zeta, not only will you get a bid in, like, five seconds, but you’ll basically be able to do and say whatever you want. Colette will have no choice but to be nice to you, which is not easy for her. And besides, you’re super fucking cute and you look smart but not in an annoying way.”
“Thanks,” I replied, “And Colette is who exactly?”
“Oh, Colette Winter’s basically the unofficial boss bitch of the Beta Zeta chapter here at CMU. She doesn’t hold a title but everyone listens to her anyway. She can be a cunty fucking whore sometimes, but I get it. That’s how it works in sororities, you’ll see. Presidents do paperwork and go to meetings, Colette gets shit done and makes girls cry in public.”
“Heavy is the head that wears the crown,” I said half-kidding.
Meg looked at me as if I’d just said something to her in Mandarin, before responding with a loud, “Exactly!”
I took a sip of my beer and looked around the party. There was a boy drunkenly trying to breakdance on the kitchen floor, alone. He was shirtless but appeared to be wearing some sort of boobie-tassels over his nipples.
“No offense, but all of this isn’t really for me. I think it’s sweet that you guys would want me to join, but I’m not my grandma or my mom or my sisters. I’m not really sure that, um, Greek Life is my scene.”
“Then what is your scene? Because at present, it’s a frat party.”
“The truth is, I kind of just came here to see a guy, who I think I’m gonna go try and find now. Thanks for the beer, though.”
I walked away from Meg and back into the throngs of bodies dancing when I started to notice just how sweaty everyone at this party was. I’m not a big fan of sweat, sweaty strangers, or plumes of pot smoke blown into my face, so I decided to remove myself from the dance floor pronto and check out the rest of the house and maybe (hopefully) run into Jack again. I spotted a tight, dark hallway that led to a rear living room, and headed in that direction, pulling my bag closer to me because it was so packed in there. My phone was buzzing. I managed to pull it out and saw that I had three texts from Jonah, my best friend from high school who was also now a freshman at CMU. We didn’t exactly plan on following identical academic trajectories but we’d done almost everything together in high school, so it made sense. Most of our friends from home thought that we’d end up getting married, but most of our friends also still thought Jonah was straight.
Jonah 10:15PM Where r u? I’m bored.
Jonah 10:16PM My roommate keeps farting in our room and not saying anything. So awkard.
Jonah 10:29PM where are u??????
Shit. Fuck. Shit. I’d totally flaked on Jonah. We were supposed to hang out and then I decided to take up a virtually random frat guy on his invite instead.
Taylor 10:30PM Are u sitting down?
Jonah 10:31PM Yes
Taylor 10:31PM I’m at a frat party. U wanna come?
Jonah 10:32PM Are you ok? Is this a joke? What happened to getting wasted and watching Rosemary’s Baby?
Taylor 10:34PM I you. But this is just as fun and scary as Rosemary’s. So just come.
Jonah 10:37PM I hate you. Where is it?
Taylor 10:37PM Omega Sig
Jonah 10:38PM As if I know where that is
Jonah 10:38PM Address?
I sent him a pin of where I was, shoved my phone back into my bag, and continued to push through the packed hallway. My plan to snoop around was thwarted when I walked into the living room and realized I was going to have to somehow avoid getting roped into playing Twister with a group of bikini-clad, slutty-looking freshmen and some fraternity dudes. I had no idea people still played Twister. One of the frat guys waved at me to join in. Fortunately, a girl’s tit fell out of her top as she was reaching for a green dot, which distracted him, allowing me to snake back out of the living room past a group of kids bonging beers. I wondered whether the girls had brought their own bikinis or if the frat had provided them. On closer inspection, I noticed that the bikini bottoms were stamped with OMEGA SIGMA across the ass. Wow. That answered that question.
I walked into a quiet, dimly lit hallway that was surprisingly not crowded. Then, out of nowhere, I heard something very loud and very fast coming toward me. I quickly threw myself backwards against the wall, and hoped for the best. A beat-up shopping cart crammed with dudes came flying past me and then stopped short and launched its passengers into an inflatable kiddie pool filled with Jell-o in the kitchen. A crowd surrounding the pool exploded in excitement.
Was this a real party or a movie about a frat party? I couldn’t tell the difference anymore. It also occurred to me that wearing a white dress had been a huge mistake. When my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I spotted an exit sign at the end of the hallway and started running toward it, hoping for a good, clean escape. But as the door swung open and I stepped out of the house I saw Meg and a hot, model-y looking guy standing right in front of me, making out. Meg noticed me and freaked.
“Taylor! Do not tell me you’re actually trying to leave.” “Ummmmm…”
“You’re not even tipsy!”
“Okay.” Meg pulled a small flask out of her Michael Kors, monogram clutch, took a shot from it, and offered it up to me.
“What is this?” I asked.
“Tequila, lime juice, and my homemade Adderall solution. It’s my own secret recipe. Go ahead, you’ll like it.”
“Text me,” said the model-y guy.
“Shut up, Mark. Can’t you see I’m fucking busy,” said Meg.
I took a small sip. It wasn’t horrible.
“See? Now come the fuck on, you didn’t think this was the actual party did you?” I guess I wasn’t going home quite yet… After walking back into the house and weaving through a labyrinth of hallways and strange, packed bedrooms, Meg and I arrived at a closed green door. “You ready?” she asked slyly, taking another swig from her flask and handing it back to me. I took another, slightly bigger sip.
And with that, she pushed the door open and we walked down a long, spiral staircase with cold, stone walls on either side. As we descended, I heard girls laughing and the thumping bass of that Kendrick Lamar song every white person I know is obsessed with. We walked into a room full of scantily clad bodies. Some of them were dancing, some of them were sitting at tables playing cards and drinking. It was like I’d been upgraded from coach to first class. The crowd was much more attractive than the rest of the party upstairs.
“Meg!!” two identical girls screamed in unison. They were both in jeans and tank tops and they were coming right for us.
“Ladies! You look amazing!” Meg screamed back at them. The music was insanely loud. “This is Taylor Bell, Kelly’s sister. Third-generation legacy, and honestly, how fucking cute is she?!”
“Love it!” said one of the twins. I hadn’t realized until I was standing next to them, but they were both so tall.
“I’m Stephanie and this is Olivia, we’re twins. Obviously,” said the other as they both laughed. I went in for a handshake but both of them just looked at me, confused. It was weird.
“So, Asher texted me two hours ago and said he was probably coming,” Stephanie said, smiling. “Then I texted him back ‘Can’t wait to see you’ with a smiley face, and now he just has his little thought bubble there. It’s been like that for at least an hour. Is this, like, a power move? Should I just kill myself?” She made a pouty face.
For some reason, her question made me laugh really hard, which made them all start laughing. Their closeness was kind of charming.
“As you can see, Steph is an actual insane person,” Olivia said, putting her arm around her sister. “Have fun tonight and ask us any questions you want. We’re good girls, we promise!”
“Nice meeting you guys,” I said to the twins as they turned and danced their way across the room.
“Okay,” Meg said, grabbing me again by the elbow and walking me through the room, “Those are our twins. They come as a package. Steph’s not a slut but she loves to fuck, so that would explain this Asher person she mentioned—always a new guy with her, very liberated when it comes to the sex. Olivia is the brains of the operation. She’s literally a genius. She had the idea for Facebook before Facebook was even invented. She was six. I’m not even joking.”
“Wow, that’s amazing—”
“And that over there is Colette. You want her to think you’re pretty and you want to be friends with her. She was basically your sister’s bestie last year. They co-chaired our biggest annual event with the Children’s Hospital. It was amazing. Babe Walker did the keynote speech, Diplo DJ’d, and a lot of cancer kids lived because of them. I’m sure she’ll love you.”
We slowly walked toward a very tall, very thin girl with her back to us. She was wearing a cropped sweater with a short skirt and suede ankle boots and the shiniest hair I’d ever seen, tied up in a tight ponytail. She must’ve sensed our presence because as we got a little closer she turned around to face us.
“You must be Kelly’s skinnier, prettier sister.” Colette said, staring right at me. “Just kidding.” She smiled.
It hit me immediately that I’d seen this girl once in the Beta Zeta house when I was visiting Kelly. She was unforgettable.
“Um…” I was speechless. Colette was one of those girls who knew that she was gorgeous and loved it. I was in awe. Her Chloé perfume was intoxicating.
Luckily Meg chimed in, “Yup, this is Taylor, Kelly’s little sister. The new face of Beta Zeta.”
“Is that so?” Colette raised an eyebrow. This girl had obviously spent hours in front of the mirror perfecting her bitch face.
“Well, I don’t know if I’m going to rush yet. I’m still figuring it out.”
“Don’t be an idiot. This school is boring as fuck if you’re not Greek,” said Colette.
“Totally,” added a very excited Meg. “Beta Zeta is the main reason I came to this school. We’re good girls, and honestly, once you’re a sister, you’re kinda set for life. But you already know that, Taylor.
You’re a purebred, babe!” She turned to Colette, who was making eyes with a linebacker-looking guy across the room.
“How is your sister, by the way?” Colette asked, seeming very uninterested.
“She’s great. Still in Zambia, interning away,” I replied.
“Oh…right.” Colette seemed confused. “That’s great,” she continued, “good for her.” “Yeah. I’m really impressed by the work they’re doing out there,” I offered.
“Well, this all sounds amazing, but would you guys excuse me for just a second?” Colette asked as she gave us each limp hugs before walking over to the baby-faced bodybuilder in a trucker hat. Someone tapped on my shoulder.
“Looks like you made it into the cool kids’ club.”
It was Jack, looking a little more disheveled but no less handsome.
“Is that what this is?” I was so happy that he’d found me, but did my best to hide it.
“I walked around with your beer for about ten minutes looking for you, but I see you’ve already been adopted by the one and only Meg Landry. What’s up, Meg?” he said, pulling Meg in for a bear hug and kissing her on the cheek.
“Jack and I bonded freshman year over a joint appreciation for Fleetwood Mac and Miller High Life, didn’t we, Jacko?” Meg said, taking a sip of a vodka rocks that she’d managed to grab somewhere.
“That is technically a true statement,” Jack said, looking at me. “Although I don’t like to publicize the fact that I wanna bone Stevie Nicks. So, thanks for that, Megs.”
God. He was beyond cute. His smile was so disarming and genuine. I couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like to lay around in bed with Jack all day, drink some beers, and let Landslide play on repeat.
“Jack!!!” The sound of a shrieking voice coming from behind me snapped me out of my daydream. Then, out of nowhere I felt two hands shove me from behind. Hard.
I lost my footing and went flying past Jack and Meg, crashed through several full drinks that spilled all over me, and then my foot snagged on some wires that were apparently connected to the speakers, abruptly cutting the music and silencing the room as I careened face-first into two nasty, old couch cushions. I saw darkness and smelled a nauseating mixture of sweat, mildew and farts. I didn’t lift my head, but I could feel that everyone in that was basement looking at me. FML.
Don’t forget to order your copy of Dirty Rush here!
Chapter 2: TONIGHT’S CHOICES, TOMORROW’S FACEBOOK POSTS
Get up, Taylor, I thought to myself. Stand up and tell everyone that you’re okay and immediately get the fuck out of here, then move to a different continent.
“Shit,” I said as I lifted my head from the couch, directly into view of a girl straddling a guy’s crotch. Oh God. I’d landed directly next to Sabrina, the girl from upstairs who’d had all the abortion scares, and her boyfriend.
“Are you okay?” Sabrina asked, dismounting her boyfriend and pulling down her skirt.
“I…I’m fine,” I lied. I’d never been less fine. I stood up and dusted myself off, taking in the fact that the entire party had come to a halt. Almost everyone in the room was staring at me and snickering. I scanned the room for Jack. He was in a corner talking to some girl I didn’t recognize. It was immediately and unavoidably clear from their body language that they had definitely seen each other naked. Wait. What the fuck was going on? Why had he flirted with me in class and invited me to his house if he was already with somebody? Would he really be into a drunk girl in a denim miniskirt and plastic flip-flops? I was fuming and embarrassed, but I had to hide it. Really, I just wanted to die.
Allow me to introduce myself: Taylor Bell, the naive college freshman who just made a total ass of herself at her first frat party.
My dress was totally ruined, covered in brown stains and reddish liquid. Both my knees were scraped and bloody, my whole body was pounding, and a waterfall of tears was trying to push its way out from behind my eyeballs. How was I going to walk through the party and back to my dorm in this state? I would never be able to live this down. And all because I wanted to get closer to Jack.
“Okay! We’re clearly over this!” I heard a familiar voice say, as Meg steered me away from the couch and toward the back of the room. Unfortunately, that meant we had to walk past Jack and Random Girl. He looked at me with a pout and mouthed ‘Are you okay?’ before walking away with the girl.
I was not okay.
Meg speedily led me to the quietest corner of the room.
“Babe. Are you okayyyyy?” Meg sang/pleaded, looking me up and down.
“Yeah. I’m fine.”
“I know that!” I snapped. Then, off her shocked expression, “I’m sorry, I should really go. Is there a side entrance or a back door so I can sneak out? I really don’t want to walk through that party looking like—”
“Noooooo. No, no, no, no. Absolutely not.”
“No, I should really go,” I told her. “Thanks for everything. Tonight was actually fun, until whatever that was…happened. Have a good time.”
“Are you sure? The night’s just getting started” Meg pled.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I just…I don’t know.”
“What? You can tell me.”
“It’s nothing, I just…I came here tonight because Jack invited me. We have a class together. I thought he liked me and now I feel like a total idiot.”
“Jack? Oh, babe. No, no, no. I will not have you sitting in bed with bloody knees, watching Netflix, crying about a boy on a Thursday night. No. That’s not an option.” Meg put her drink up to my mouth, forcing a big gulp.
“I don’t even know who pushed me.” I said.
“I hate to say this,” Meg put her hand in mine, “but it’s that girl Jack’s talking to right now. I think they went to high school together or something.”
This night kept finding ways to get worse.
But then, like magic, Steph and Olivia popped out of the crowd and stood on either side of me, followed shortly by Colette in all her hair’s glimmering glory.
“We just saw what happened and you definitely shouldn’t leave yet,” Olivia chirped.
She put a limp hand on my shoulder. “Don’t even worry about it. Jack’s a flirt and can be an ass and that skank’s a Beta Pi and she’s really stupid, like actually dumb. You should see her Instagram. It’s all pictures of Ke$ha and inspirational quotes and cats that aren’t even hers.”
The “skank” must’ve heard Olivia’s Instagram insult, because she approached us with a scowl on her face to end all scowls.
“What’d you say, bitch?” she spat at Olivia, pushing her from behind. I guess this girl was really into pushing. Is this about to be a fight? Is this what these girls do? I was scared.
“Hello, Blair. Belligerent as per usual I can see,” said a very serious Colette, positioning herself directly in front of her.
“Don’t start with me, Colette, this is not about you,” Blair said, trying to push past Colette, who was firmly standing her ground.
“That’s what you don’t seem to understand. In fact, this seems to be a recurring issue with you, Blair. I don’t think you’re able to grasp the concept that when you fuck with one of us, you fuck with all of us. Unfortunately, that means you have to deal with me.”
“Who even is that girl and why are you acting like her mom? Can you just get out of my fucking way?” attempted a flustered Blair.
“Not until I let you know that from here on out, there will be no trace of you at this house or anywhere near a Beta Zeta sister without major repercussions.”
Meg put her hand on my shoulder and whispered, “Watch the master at work.”
“Because,” Colette continued, “if you do make the grave and hazardous decision to involve yourself in any of my sister’s lives, I will personally organize and ensure your social ostracism. The truth is, Blair Witch Project, you’re bad business for all of us. I’m surprised you haven’t been expelled yet for last semester’s string of D’s in not one, not two, but all five of your 101 courses.”
“Oh, so you’re stalking me now?”
“Honestly, it’s quite an accomplishment to be that lazy. It’s also quite an accomplishment to give an entire varsity crew team chlamydia. So, congrats.”
“Yeah, thanks a lot for that!” screamed someone from the crowd.
“You short bitch!” screamed another random voice.
Blair was utterly speechless and turning ghost white. But it wasn’t over.
“I can’t have you coming to another event and causing these scenes. Lest we forget the Kappa Date Party last spring when you ended up in the back of a cop car for shitting in public.”
“That’s not even true.”
“I’m not saying it’s true. I’m saying it might be true, which is actually worse.”
Everyone in the room was now watching this drama. The attention had shifted from my fall, thank the Lord. I scanned the room for Jack, but he was nowhere to be found.
“So, pretty please,” Colette said with a big smile, “before you end up doing something else trashy and shameful, take your Abercrombie skirt and the advanced cultures of mold growing on those ratchet Old Navy flip-flops, and get the fuck away from all of us. Preferably until the end of time.”
All the color had drained from Blair’s face; a single tear rolled down her cheek.
“You’re a cunt,” she whispered.
“Yes, I am. Now I think you should apologize to Taylor for pushing her and ruining her dress. And then you can apologize to everyone in here for being a sloppy whore in general.”
Blair turned her low gaze toward me. “I’m sorry.”
“What are you sorry for?” Colette nudged.
“I’m sorry for…for…”
“For generally being a sloppy…”
“A sloppy whore.”
“And for pushing you and ripping your dress. It’s a cute dress. Was.”
“That wasn’t so hard was it? Now do the right thing and leave.”
Blair hung her head and walked out. Holy fuck.
“And that’s how it’s done,” Meg said, turning to me and winking.
Colette pulled out her phone and started texting.
“What size are you? A two?” she asked.
“Um, yeah. I’m a two. Why?”
“We’re taking care of this,” Meg said excitedly. “We look out for each other. When a sister is in danger of embarrassment, humiliation, or excessive partying to the point of potential mouth-herpe contraction, one of us is always there to rescue her.”
“Well, thanks. That was really embarrassing.”
“We know,” Colette said with a bored look on her face.
Meg produced some sort of clear cocktail from behind her, handed it to me, and then clicked her glass against mine.
“We shall steadfastly love each other.”
“What?” I asked.
“It’s the Beta-Zeta motto. We’re not all greasy sluts in sweatpants and UGGs. Some sororities are real sisterhoods.”
“She’s almost here,” Colette said to Olivia and Steph.
“Who’s almost here?” I asked.
“Just come with us,” said Olivia as she and Stephanie took me by the arms and led me back up the stairs to the entrance of the secret basement. Right as we were about to get to the top, the door opened, to reveal a pint-sized, red-haired girl standing with a robe in one hand and a garment bag in the other.
“Hi, girls! Hi, Taylor, I’m Hailey. Put this on.”
“Thank you, Hailey. Now shut the fuck up,” Steph said, grabbing the robe and thrusting it into my hands.
“What’s going on?” I asked, slipping the robe over my shoulders.
“Just put it on. Hailey is on Slop Patrol this semester. She’s on call at every party in case of an emergency like your recent mishap, after which, it is her job to show up and silently whisk you away to an undisclosed location, where she will help you get your shit together so that you don’t end up looking like Amanda Bynes in tomorrow’s Facebook posts,” said Olivia giving Hailey a pointed look. “Thanks, hon,” said Olivia.
“Oh you’re totes welcome—”
“Shut the fuck up, Hailey! No talking, remember?”
I put the robe on, and Steph nudged me toward Hailey, who reached out and grabbed my hand. I pulled the hood of the robe over my head, and Hailey quickly led me upstairs to a bathroom at the end of a hallway.
“Okay,” Hailey said, locking the door behind us and assessing the train wreck that was me. “Meg said via text that you scraped your knees, but holy shit, girl, it looks like you raped your knees. Sit down.”
I sat on the edge of the toilet. Hailey pulled a first aid kit out of her backpack, knelt in front of me, and poured some Hydrogen Peroxide onto a cotton swab and started cleaning up my wounds.
“So are you rushing or what?” Hailey asked.
“I don’t know…I hadn’t planned on it. But, I did know. I was not rushing.
“You’re Taylor Bell, right? The girl who has, like, a huge legacy?”
“Yeah. Would you mind telling me how everyone knows that?”
“Everyone knows everything about everyone here.” She threw the bloody wad of cotton into an already overflowing trashcan. “You’re a fucking retard if you don’t rush. It would be like Kate Middleton telling Prince William that she didn’t want to marry him and, like, become the most powerful woman on earth.”
“But she’s not the most powerful woman on earth…” I said.
“But she is if you think about it, you know?” She started dabbing Neosporin on the scrapes. “Like, if you were anyone else, you would have had to walk of shame yourself through that party, never to be seen or heard from again, and your only shot at Greek life would be joining an Asian sorority. Which is actually not an easy thing to do. They test your coding skills before you can even pledge. At least that’s what I’ve heard.” Hailey put a bandage on my knees and wrapped them both in gauze.
“So, I’m confused. Are you in Beta Zeta?”
“I rushed last year and didn’t get Beta, so I’m kind of kissing ass this year. Basically, I’m the girls’ Fairy Slop Mother. I see it as an internship. I mean, all I want to do tonight is get shitfaced and make out with this really hot Jewish kid from my econ class, but if I fuck up, Beta Zeta will shun me and everyone on campus will hate me and then I’ll die all alone. Okay! Your knees are good to go. Sucks that you can’t wear shorts or dresses for a month, ‘cause you have cute legs.”
Hailey unzipped the garment bag and pulled out a pair of high-waisted, flowy floral pants and a crop top and handed them to me. “Beta Zeta has a no-jeans policy when it comes to parties, so these will have to do. Plus this crop top will make your boobs look huge and fake, which is a good thing—trust.”
Once I’d changed clothes, I realized Hailey was right. My boobs did look amazing. Normally I’d never wear something so Vanessa Hudgens-y, but I kind of loved the way I looked in this outfit. I felt like a different version of myself. I felt like a girl who could belong here.
There was a loud knock at the door.
Over the party’s pumping music I heard someone shout, “It’s us. Open the door, bitches.”
Hailey ran to the door and unlocked it. The door flew open to reveal Meg, flanked by Olivia and Steph.
“Oh my god, you look amazing!” Steph screamed.
My adrenaline had stopped pumping out of control and I could feel that my cheeks were their normal color again. These girls had just pulled me out of that type of awkward boy situation that can scar you for months. Maybe I didn’t really know as much about Greek life as I thought, maybe these girls were actually good people, and maybe I’d been too quick to judge them.
As all these thoughts rushed through my head, Steph squeezed my arm and leaned in to me.
“You wouldn’t happen to have any coke, would you?”
“Not now, LiLo,” Meg interjected. “We need to get her back in the saddle.”
When we got back down to the basement I could tell that the makeover had worked. People’s eyes were on me but it wasn’t the there’s the girl who just fell on her face look, instead I was getting jealous looks from the girls and wanna fuck looks from the guys. I spotted Jack across the room. He was also looking at me. I averted my eyes and put my hair up in a ponytail, trying to play it cool, but I could see in my periphery that he was bee-lining toward me.
“Whoaaaaa.” he said. “You clean up nice, huh?”
Ew, I thought. I hate when people say that.
“Are you having fun with your friend?” I asked him with a raised eyebrow.
“Oh, Blair? She’s just a… ”
“Yeah. That’s what I was going to say.”
He may have been handsome, and he still looked adorable, but Jack was not the conversationalist I thought he was when we’d met in class. He was drunk, however.
“You wanna come check out my room?”
“Hmmmmm. I think I’ll pass.”
I wanted to hang out with the Jack I thought I was meeting here, not the Jackass he’d turned out to be.
“Tay!” Meg squealed, pushing her way toward us. “You have to come with me, there’s an extremely babed-out business major who wants to meet you, and by meet you I mean bone you.”
As I was dragged away from Jack, I looked back just in time to hear him say, “See you in class, I guess?”
“Yeah,” I flashed him a million-dollar smile. “I guess.”
“Also,” Meg said as we walked away from Jack, “did you invite someone named Jonah? The door guy just texted me. They’re not letting him in.
Don’t forget to order your copy of Dirty Rush here!
Chapter 3: HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII . . .
Can you please turn off your phone?”
Those are the words that woke me from the deepest sleep I’d ever been in.
I did a quick body status check before opening my eyes. “Taylor?”
Definitely hungover, definitely tired, my knees still felt like they’d been assaulted, but thankfully and perhaps most important, I recognized the feeling of my sheets against my skin. I was in my bed, in my dorm room. Thank you, Jesus, or whoever it was who got me home safe. The voice got louder.
I realized that the booming voice from across the room belonged to my generally quiet, adorably dweeby roommate, Morgan Hardy. She had short brown hair and a kind of smushed yet friendly face. She was not the type of girl who gave two fucks about how she presented and it totally worked for her. We didn’t really know each other yet, but here she was screaming at me to wake up. Ugh, dorm life was a bizarre thing to get used to.
“What? I’m sleeping. Stop, seriously. Leave me alone.”
“Your phone has been going off for, like, thirty minutes and it’s really annoying. I’m trying to sleep.”
Last night? Had that happened?
I couldn’t tell if what I remembered was real or just an intense dream. It was this strange combination of nostalgia and feeling completely detached from the events that took place. Things could have taken a very dark turn for me, but Meg, Sabrina, Colette, and the twins made sure that didn’t happen. The “incident” ended up being an afterthought—a minor blip, a footnote—to one of the craziest, most fun nights I’d had in a long time.
But holy shit, my head felt like it was in a fucking vise. Switching from beer to Meg’s Adderall juice to vodka and sugar-free Red Bull to vodka and regular Red Bull to Jell-O shots had not been a good idea.
I needed to come out of my sheet cocoon, deal with the day, my hangover, and my annoyed roommate. It took a few moments to focus on any of my surroundings. Two plain wooden desks, two ugly beds, a mini fridge, and a weird framed poster of some ironic eighties movie called The Lost Boys hanging over Morgan’s bed. I could really only muster enough energy to say one thing.
“I’m a cliché.”
“Sorry to rain on your existential parade, but can you turn off your phone? Your choice of text alert leaves a lot to be desired.” Morgan smiled.
“Yeah, sorry.” I turned off the ringer.
The roommate situation could have been a lot worse. I lucked out. Jonah’s roommate, Christopher, for example, had three gerbils that he slept with. So far, Morgan had actually been totally respectful, clean, logical, and fair in her cohabitational philosophy. She seemed sane and had already declared herself a poli-sci/ gender studies double major, and we hadn’t even had our first full week of classes. Most mornings she was up and out by eight, so we didn’t cross paths too much.
“I’m so hungover,” I moaned.
“I’m so shocked.”
“Sorry about my phone. I know we discussed being mindful of each other’s sleeping schedules, but always feel free to just come over and turn off the ringer if that ever happens again.”
“Oh great. Is this going to be happening a lot? Because it’s a little bit hard to sleep when your roommate is sitting up in her bed at four in the morning eating a slice of pizza and watching Pretty Little Liars without headphones in.”
“Oh my God. I did that?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
“Fuck me, I’m sorry. It’s not really my style to go out that hard. I don’t know what came over me.”
“No worries. Have your fun. Freshman year, first frat party, I assume . . . Hot guys, pounding music, vomit. I get it.
I tried to look for your phone while you were sleeping, but I think you were on top of it and I didn’t want to get fresh. We barely know each other.”
Another text popped up.
“I will definitely change that ringtone when I’m less hungover.”
It was from Jonah. His eighth.
Jonah 10:43AM Check Instagram
Jonah 10:48AM Did you check?
Jonah 10:48AM I tagged you in a few. Don’t hate me.
Jonah 10:59AM Are you sleeping?
Jonah 11:31AM Tay?
Jonah 11:46AM I want Chuck Fils
Jonah 11:46AM *Chick-fil-A
An hour later I was sitting across from Jonah, who, despite having partied harder than I did last night, looked unscathed by the debauchery. He was silly handsome and if he wasn’t gay, Jonah would’ve probably been the sluttiest jock at our high school. Unfortunately, there hadn’t been too many options for him at Ballard.
We were both wearing the unofficial uniform of the American student. On him: his CDU Swimming sweatshirt and a pair of Adidas track pants; on me: an oversized American Apparel cardigan, a nice clean pair of Lululemon leggings, and I hate to admit this, but my favorite, four-year-old purple UGGs. My hair was still wet from my shower, up in a little bun. Before me was a deluxe chicken sandwich, a large waffle fries, and a large Dr Pepper. At that moment, as I took my first few bites, there wasn’t a happier human being on earth. Chicken + Grease = Hangover Feeling Four Thousand Percent Better.
“God forgive us for momentarily succumbing to the institution of Chick-fil-A despite their appalling homophobic beliefs—” I said with my mouth full of food.
“Because this sandwich is so fucking good,” Jonah interjected.
“Exactly,” I said.
“Last night was insane,” Jonah said as he began to devour his second spicy chicken biscuit.
“I know. But good insane. I was literally blackout and had to do some serious deleting and untagging on Facebook and Instagram on my walk over here.”
“Me too. So, were all of those girls we were with last night BZs?”
I could sense a dig in Jonah’s tone. He was never a big fan of Greek stuff—neither of us were.
“Yep. All of ’em.”
“Did you know them from before? Through Kelly?”
“No. Literally, I met all of them last night for the first time.
But they knew me.”
“Is that the treatment they give to all legacies?”
“No idea. I mean, they all knew who I was because of Kelly, but still. It was for sure weird, but in a nice way.”
“Very nice of them indeed. But also kinda twisted to see you all up in that sorority bullshit. You chilling with sorority girls was actually the most insane part of last night for me. More insane than that one dude’s Jonas Brothers tattoo.”
“How do you think I felt? It was like I was Cinderella and the rest of the girls were those tiny woodland creatures.”
“Oh . . . I’m well aware. I saw the outfit they put you in. I felt like I was watching “Made: I Wanna Be in a Sorority” or some shit. It was mind-blowing. But you looked cute.”
“You’re not calling me Jonie anymore, remember?”
“But it’s our thing, Jonie.”
“Fine. Call me whatever you’d like, but just know that you’re opening the floodgates of middle school nicknames.”
“Oh, I certainly would, Taylor the Flailer.”
“That seizure was really scary!”
“Yeah, no shit, I was there. With the rest of Montgomery Middle. It was terrifying.” Jonah flicked a half-eaten waffle fry at me.
“But at least you’re starting to make a good impression here,” he continued. “With your epic frat party basement fail, et cetera.”
“You’re totally right. First impressions are everything. So you must be feeling especially weird about how you had to have your best friend from high school get you in.”
“Touché. That wasn’t my shining moment.”
“Let’s pretend you didn’t just say ‘touché.’ ”
“I’m comfortable with that.”
We both took long sips of our respective fountain sodas in an unspoken truce.
“So,” I asked, “I know you’re not really into the all-American thing, but meet anyone fun last night?”
“In a word . . . no,” Jonah said confidently. “I’m not gonna meet a guy at a fucking frat party, that’s for sure.”
He went back to enjoying his calorie-castle. Jonah was on the swim team, so he could basically eat two of everything without ever gaining a pound. He was my oldest friend that I actually still liked. We’d both played in the jazz band at school, we were both huge Smashing Pumpkins fans, and we shared an obsession with Breaking Bad and Real Housewives of Atlanta. So naturally we spent a ton of time together.
“How were your classes this week?”
“Fine, I guess? I don’t know.”
“Which applied mathematics are you taking again?”
“Philosophy and Logic 116. It seems annoying so far.”
“Any babes on the swim team?”
“Eh, there’s one kid. He’s Irish or something and definitely straight, but I’m not even gonna think about shitting where I eat.”
“Fair. Are the other guys on the team cool?”
“Some are pretty cool, or funny or whatever. I’m still getting to know shit. It’s actually all I’ve been focused on. I literally live in that pool.” He sounded a bit defeated.
“Yeah, I’ve noticed.”
“They told me I’d be able to have a life.”
“So intense. I still don’t really get sports.”
“The coach has me slated for four events at our first meet.
I mean, it’s only against other CDU students until the season officially starts, but still. It’s tomorrow night, by the way. You should come.”
“I’m there. Obviously.”
“You wanna see a movie tonight? The new Wes Anderson looks pretty sweet . . .”
Right then, I heard someone knocking at the window near our table. I looked up and saw Stephanie and Olivia standing there looking at us. Steph was waving excitedly, while Olivia looked like she could give two shits. Steph hurried into the restaurant and up to our table; Olivia lit a cigarette.
“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii . . .” The word seemed to trail on forever as she scanned the restaurant, probably to check if she’d been spotted by anyone she knew. “You guys look super cute.”
“Hey, Steph. What’s up?”
“Sooooo good, thanks for asking! Olivia would’ve come in to say hi if it were any other restaurant.”
“Oh, because they’re anti-gay-marriage? I know, I’m embarrassed to be giving these people money myself, but I was so hungover—”
“Huh? No. It’s because we aren’t exactly supposed to be seen in fast-food places like this. It’s like an unspoken rule.”
“Yeah, we aren’t really supposed to go to places like this. It’s, like . . . an unspoken rule,” she repeated slowly.
“Yeah. You shouldn’t be in here either. If you’re planning on pledging.”
“Are you serious?”
“Definitely serious. Colette is pretty strict about this stuff.”
“Uh . . . okay. Thanks for the heads-up.”
“Also, Meg texted this morning and said that we’re fine with the Panhel or whatever about your situation.”
“I don’t know what that is.”
“No. Am I supposed to?”
“The Panhellenic Association. All the national sororities fall under its jurisdiction. Basically, girls who are interested in Greek life technically have to go and ‘visit’ each sorority on campus before rushing. But since you’re a major, major legacy and we love you so much, Meg said you don’t have to go around and meet all the fucking tards at their weird special-ed houses.”
“Wow. Cool . . . thanks for the update,” I said as I sipped my Dr Pepper. Jonah was staring at Steph.
“We just wanted to make it easy on you. Plus, they owed us a favor in the Panhel office anyway.”
“Fuck yeah thanks.”
“Awesome. Well, thanks for stopping by and getting me all up to speed on everything.”
“Oh my God, no problem. It was completely my pleasure. Anytime. And just so you know, unless you’re blackout drunk, you shouldn’t be eating at McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Taco Bell, Wendy’s . . .You know what? I’m gonna just go ahead and email you a list of places that are off-limits and
I’ll also include a few salad places, sushi restaurants, and coffee shops that we love. Cute?”
“Perf! See you later.” Steph smiled, turned, and walked toward the door.
“Oh! And one more thing,” she added from the doorway. “You should pre-game with us tomorrow night. It’s always a blast and our place is amazing. You’re gonna love. My sister will pick you up at nine. Bye-eee!” she sang-spoke, turning around before I could respond.
Jonah and I stared at each other.
“I’m kinda sad that you don’t wanna hang out with them anymore,” Jonah said, finishing his last bite.
“They’re psychos, I know. And that was ridiculous. But . . . I don’t know. Last night was fun.”
“You’re obsessed with them,” he said in disbelief.
“Yeah, in like an anthropological, ethnographical-study kinda way.”
“Okay, I don’t really know what you just said.”
“It doesn’t matter, nevermind.”
Jonah slurped the remains of his drink and started to stand up. “Whatever, I’m gonna go for a run, you wanna come?”
“No running for me. My knees are still a mess, plus I have to head to the library to do some research for a paper about current female heads of industry.”
“That sounds horrible.”
“It’s not as bad as it sounds.”
“Yes it is.”
Jonah and I stepped out of Chick-fil-A into the sunny Friday afternoon. It was startlingly bright out.
“That’s why you’re not a women’s studies major and I am,” I told him.
“True. You’re like the only women’s studies major in the history of this university who is being heavily recruited by a sorority.”
“I’m not being recruited. It’s not a sports team.”
“You know what I’m saying.”
“Jonah, it was one night of stupid girly fun. I’m not gonna join, trust me.”
“Alright, alright,” he said, throwing his arm around me. “See you tomorrow night at the meet?”
“Of course, text me the info.”
Don’t forget to order your copy of Dirty Rush here! .