Valentine’s Day. Ugh. Of all the holidays, this one is my least favorite.
I give the paper hearts Charlotte decorated our living room with a mental eye roll. Two of my roommates, Sienna and Charlotte, are super into Valentine’s Day.
Fourteen days until all of social media is swarmed with cutesy couple photos and declarations of love, and I’m already living in an explosion of pink and red do-it-yourself crafts.
The theater students put on a show every year about the story of Saint Valentine. Only they use dramatic license to make it sexier and bloodier. Last year was amazing, and this year is supposed to be better.
Plus there’s an after-party.
My housemates—Chace, Sonny, Isaac, Charlotte—and I are lounging in the living room waiting for Sienna to be ready so we can head out. There is just enough space for us all in the modest room.
“Turn it up, Lylah,” Sonny orders. Sonny is from London and speaks like he’s a gangster. He’s far too soft to be one though.
I stand and dip in a sarcastic curtsy before adjusting the volume on the speakers that are paired with Sonny’s iPhone. Puff Daddy’s I’ll Be Missing You blasts through the room.
Sonny is the oldest and, like a child, thinks that gives him the right to order everyone around. He’s not all bad, but I don’t think he heard the word no his entire childhood.
He ignores me and taps on his phone, likely lining up tonight’s hookup.
Chace, who is a media student like me, smirks. I stick out my tongue at him. We met on our first day at college when we got lost on campus together and then stuck together in an attempt to look like we knew where we were going. Since then, we’ve spent countless hours watching movies, working on projects, and hanging out. Besides Sienna, Chace is my best friend. It didn’t take long after meeting him to start having feelings for him—actually, it was about three minutes. I don’t think he feels the same way though, because he treats me like one of the guys. But recently he’s been finding more and more reasons for us to spend time alone together. I’m definitely not imagining it. Well, I don’t think I’m imagining it.
Sienna appears in the doorway. “Lylah, are you sure this is the one?” she asks, running her hands down the sides of her blood-red dress.
Raising an eyebrow, I reply, “No, you look awful.” She doesn’t and she knows it.
Sienna is stunning. Born in Korea, she and her family moved to the United Kingdom when she was two years old. Her hair is unfairly sleek and shiny, and she wouldn’t be out of place on the catwalk, though she’s probably a bit short for that.
“Shut up. Tonight is my night with Nathan. I’m going to make him fall in love with me if it kills me.”
Two weeks until Valentine’s Day, and everyone is supposed to be coupled up. Chace doesn’t seem to hate the day, so maybe he’ll surprise me. Maybe I wouldn’t dislike Valentine’s Day as much if he had feelings for me too. “Sie, don’t give it away, babe,” Isaac says, throwing an arm around her shoulders. “Make him work for it.”
Isaac is a brave, stupid man.
Sienna’s black eyes darken as she shoots Isaac a look that could kill. “Thanks for that,” she replies, sarcasm dripping from each word.
Taking a step back, he drops his arm and runs his hand through his short, black hair.
“Only trying to help,” he defends.
Charlotte watches our interaction with interest. She’s the quiet one who came to live with us by pure chance. Over the last five months, since we’ve all been living together, she and I have become friends. But she’s still a bit of an outsider, preferring to stay in and keep to herself, rather than joining in activities with us.
“You okay, Charlotte?” Chace asks, sensing her tension.
“Maybe I’ll stay here tonight,” she replies. “It doesn’t exactly sound like my thing.”
Charlotte is dressed in a long denim skirt and a coral T-shirt. Her pale blond hair is pulled back in a high ponytail. She doesn’t look like she’s going out, but I know she’ll enjoy it. Every time we’ve managed to drag her with us, she’s had a good time.
I lay back against the cushions on the sofa. “No way. You’re coming.”
She leans in. “I know I said I wanted more of the university experience, but I’m pretty sure a play about martyrdom isn’t it.”
“It’s not only about the play. You know we’re going for the after-party.”
“Now I know I won’t enjoy that.”
“What did you do before Lylah adopted you, Charlotte? Stay home and play chess against yourself?” Sonny asks, laughing at his own comment.
I grit my teeth.
“Don’t be a dick, Sonny,” Chace says, backhanding Sonny’s chest.
Charlotte ducks her head to avoid Sonny’s gaze, and I glare at him.
Sonny sighs. “You’re right. That was mean. Char, I’m sorry.”
She nods, but I don’t think she forgives him. I wouldn’t if I were her.
“Can we move on and have a good night tonight, please?” Sonny asks. “We’re all single, and since everyone”—he stops and looks pointedly at me—“well, almost everyone loves Valentine’s Day and doesn’t want to be alone, hooking up is practically a guarantee.”
Sonny doesn’t have a problem getting girls, but if every woman on campus could hear how he usually speaks, I don’t think he would be as popular.
Charlotte looks up and nods. “It’s forgotten.”
Sonny’s gaze meets mine. “Lylah?”
I shrug. It’s really not for me to forgive him. “Sure. I just want to have a fun night.” And for Chace to realize he’s in love with me. Having fun at the party might make this time of year a little more bearable. “No more breaking hearts this year, Lylah,” Isaac teases.