Arranged

By: Sara Wolf

Chapter One

In Which Lee Montenegro’s Crotch Is The First Thing I See

For the third time today, my roommate’s huge boobs are distracting me from studying.

“Are you sure you won’t come to the party, Rose?” Selena flips sleek black hair over her tan shoulder. Her red mini-dress shows off the long legs and heaving chest that makes members of the XY sex love her so much. After a month of sharing our dorm room and seeing how not-Chanel my clothes are, how little I drink, and how much time I spend studying, Selena’s decided to never speak to me unless she needs my help. And since her shorter, plumper friend Brittany is down with bronchitis, I’m the fallback frump who’ll make Selena look better at this party.

“It’s okay, really.” I force a smile. “I’m not good at the whole ‘drink until you pass out and wake up filled with shame’ thing.

“You’re so funny!” Selena laughs. “Guys love funny.”

No they don’t. I smile wider. They like melons and matchstick legs like yours.

“I saw Greg staring at you in Humanities,” Selena dabs lipgloss on. “He’s into you. And he’s going to this party. You should come.”

“Really, I’m okay.” I tuck a dishwater-blonde strand of hair behind my ear. “Jackson’s exam is tomorrow, and if I don’t get this A I’ll be in serious trouble. Scholarship, and all that.”

I have to keep on top of grades to keep the scholarship money coming. One slip and my time at prestigious UCLA is over. I can’t ask anyone for help. I can’t mess up. Mom and Dad’s company is tanking thanks to the economy, and they’re struggling as it is.

“Fine,” Selena groans and picks up her purse. Her clicky heels stop in the doorway. “Um, just curious – you have gone out with someone, right?”

My face heats and I splutter. “Y-Yeah.”

“Right. Just checking. Don’t wait up for me.” She winks and in a cloud of synthetic cherry perfume, she’s gone. I groan and sink my chin onto the desk. Yeah, I’d gone out with someone; Will Hart in eighth grade. We kissed behind the curtain in drama club and he practically drooled in my mouth. All through high school, my friends tried to set me up with someone, but the set-ups tended to choose my friends instead. I was always sort-of grateful – secretly terrified one of them would be a repeat of bad-kisser Will. And it’s not like my high school was chocked with cool guys, either, so I never really got around to dating.

No one needs to know that. Ever. Everyone here’s had seven million boyfriends, even the geeky mathematics majors.

I close the textbook and stretch my arms above my head until they crack satisfyingly. Outside the window an autumn-rose sunset kisses the horizon. The campus is darkening, lampposts flickering to life and illuminating couples walking. It seems like everyone here is so experienced. They talk about relationships and jump from one boy to the next with such grace I can’t help but be a little jealous. Will I ever be as cool as they seem? I’m fine, but I’d give anything to seem as worldly, mature, and sexy as Selena is.

I sigh and look at myself in Selena’s huge mirror. I’m taller than her – a lanky 5’10. My nickname in highschool was Plank – for my height and flat chest. I’d never had the beautiful curves other girls seem to have. It’s like I’m stuck in a perpetual 12-year-old’s body. ‘You’ll be grateful for it when you age slow,’ Mom insists, but I just want to wear strapless tops and bottom-hugging jeans and not have them sag off me like wet spaghetti. My pale blonde hair is my only real pretty feature – fading streaks of sky-blue the last evidence of a high school senior dare. I’ve got my Dad’s brown eyes and freckles. Selena’s face is tan and flawless. The only time my skin tanned was when I fell asleep babysitting and got scribbled on with brown markers.

If I stole Selena’s body, I’d be unstoppable. The world would be mine. Or at least, a guy would look at me for more than just the answers on my worksheet.

I grab my towel and shower bag – I need a hot rinse to clean my head of chem equations. The bathroom’s empty, just the way I like it. I hate showering while other people are around. I scrub coconut shampoo and conditioner into my hair and breathe in the sweet, cloying aroma. When I’m done I wrap the towel around me. My wet slippers squeak down the hall. Someone slams into my shoulder and I land on my butt, hard, clutching my towel around me. The impact stars fade in my eyes, but I feel a strange warmth on my legs. I start apologizing.

“I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you –”

“But I’m really glad I’m seeing you.”

The voice is deep. Messy black hair hangs in a guy’s hazel eyes – his lashes long and cheekbones so sharp and high I thought he was a girl at first glance. The faint stubble around his bow-shaped lips and broad, bare chest prove me wrong. And the tiny girl’s shirt with Care Bears on it he clutches to his naked crotch proves me very wrong. Naked. Crotch. I bolt up instantly and panic-walk away. He fell out of my neighbor’s room – 109. The door hangs open, a topless girl sleeping in her bed.

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