For my fall break I wanted to go see the Grand Canyon. I wanted to take a helicopter ride to see it from above or a mule ride inside. Instead, my mom convinced me to go to Las Vegas.
She went on and on about all the sights we’d see and the shows we’d go to.
Maybe even drive out to see the Hoover Dam.
We were going to make our way down the strip one casino at a time, starting at Mandalay Bay, and I was excited to see all the lights. After two days, we had yet to make it out of the Mirage’s front door.
Secret Garden? Done by myself. The pool was boring after a few hours of reading and tanning alone.
It’d been “five more minutes” for the last two hours, and I was beyond aggravated.
Bored out of my freaking mind.
It wasn’t the great girls’ getaway I thought it would be. It would’ve been better if my stepdad, Mike, was in my place, and I had just stayed home. Instead, I was being used as an excuse to get drunk and gamble.
Vegas was not for the under twenty-one crowd, at least by myself, and at eighteen, I was a few years shy of being able to do all of the stuff I had little to no interest in doing anyway.
I wanted to visit the aquarium in Mandalay Bay, the wax museum, ride the coaster at New York New York, see the fountains at the Bellagio, and go see a Cirque du Soleil show.
I was really wishing my best friend had been able to come.
Closing out of my Kindle app, I decided to head over to Starbucks for a pick-me-up and a chance to stretch. Checking my phone, I found a new text message. Five more minutes, she said. More like five more hours.
I was stuck in limbo. I should have just abandoned her and gone out on my own, but we were there together, so I resigned myself to wait.
Grabbing a coffee, I found a comfy chair and opened my phone back up to my book.
“You have me curious,” a voice said as I moved to put my earbuds back in.
I blinked and looked up at a man sitting across from me, his blue eyes locked on mine. He had a coffee cup in one hand, his phone in the other. He was handsome. Very handsome. Medium length brown hair, striking blue eyes, and a strong jaw. A slim and fit physique was noticeable under his crisp suit.
And he was talking to me.
“What’s so curious about me?”
Normally, I didn’t stick out in a crowd.
Overall, I was pretty average—at least in a class of over a thousand. I didn’t go out of my way, spending an hour to get ready with full hair and makeup in the morning, all in an attempt to look older. I liked sleep.
I didn’t have the time, nor did I care that much about that stuff. My black hair was long with a slight wave, and the same colored eyelashes framing my sea blue eyes. Ninety percent of the time, I was a jeans and T-shirt girl, or shorts and a tank top. Plain vanilla with no flashy decorations.
“Why that”—he pointed to my phone—“has so much more of your attention than everything out there.” He hooked his thumb over his shoulder.
He seemed to think that I was an exception, because I was sitting in a gigantic hotel lobby and I was the only person reading a book instead of gambling in the huge attached casino.
I glanced back down to my book, and the play button my thumb was hovering over and shrugged my shoulders. “Reading and music are good ways to pass the time.”
His fingers stopped typing, and he quirked his brow at me. “You’re in Vegas to pass the time?”
“My mom’s in the casino.”
“Ah, not a gambler?”
I shook my head. “No, for a few reasons.”
“Well, I’m curious again,” he said with a smile, and leaned forward.
“I don’t see you in the casino.” I tried to deflect because it was nice to talk with someone, but I knew when my age came out, he would be long gone.
He smirked, and I wondered if he knew how good he looked when he did that. “I play a little, but I’d rather put my money toward a bigger gamble. So, why aren’t you in there or out and about like everyone else? Why here?”
I sighed. “Various reasons, including lack of funds and . . . I’m not allowed.”
“They kicked you out? Are you the counting cards type?” He narrowed his gaze on me, but he was still smiling.
“Do I scream MIT?” I shot back, and attempted not to fawn over his sexy smile. How did one smile sexy? I had no idea, but the man in front of me was a sexy smile master.
He laughed. “No, but I’d put you at above average.”
“Now, I don’t know how to take that. Either you’re insulting my intelligence when you find out I actually do go to MIT.” I scooted to the edge of my seat. “Or I’m flattered that I don’t come off as average.”
He held his hands up: coffee, phone, and all. “I believe I need to apologize. I didn’t mean to insinuate you had below-average intelligence . . . as smarter than average is below for MIT standards.”
“Well, you’re off the hook. MIT didn’t want me,” I said and leaned back into the chair. Even if I’d applied, chances were high that I wouldn’t get in. Good grades, but not good enough for them.
He smiled and shook his head. “Okay. Harvard? You seem Ivy League.”
“All right, so where do you go?”
I grimaced. “Umm, I go to Zionsville High School just outside of Indianapolis. Next fall I’ll go to USC.”
He stared at me, stunned. “Wow, I honestly thought you were in college . . . Over eighteen.”
“Eighteen exactly,” I said, for some reason, wanting him to know I was of legal age. Who was I kidding? I was still in high school, a virgin, and in Vegas with my mom, while he looked like he had expensive taste, was very intelligent, and was obviously placating me.
“USC’s a good school. I live not too far from the campus. It’s expensive,” he said with a nod.
“Yeah, I think my mom is trying to win my tuition, but knowing her luck, I’ll still be paying off student loans when I’m dead.”
He nodded, his fingers tapping on the side of his cup. “Yeah, loans are brutal,” he replied, before moving to stand. “Well, I need to get to a meeting.”
My stomach dropped, and I attempted to smile up at him. “Yep, I knew I lost you. Even though I’m only eighteen, we can still talk, you know?” And I can stare at you a little bit longer.