Double Major

By: Catherine Gayle


“So why aren’t you drinking?” Katie asked, sipping from her Shirley Temple. She kept her voice down so she wouldn’t catch anyone else’s attention. “You never drink much, but you usually drink some.”

Her mother had asked me the same question earlier, narrowing her eyes on me as though that would give her X-ray vision into my mind. I’d managed to brush Laura off long enough for the show to start up and drive her attention away from me.

I would have thought the show would distract Katie, too. She was only eighteen, and I was pretty sure she’d never been to a strip club before. Yes, Portland was the strip-club capital of the United States, but they were almost all clubs with female strippers. I only knew of one that had male dancers, and it was a gay club that only catered to clientele with XY chromosomes.

“I just don’t want to be hungover tomorrow,” I hedged. “Not for my big day.”

“One glass of wine isn’t enough to give you a hangover.”

“But one leads to two…”

“You’re pregnant,” Katie whispered. “Aren’t you?”

Before I could answer, a naked butt cheek was waving in my face, nearly whacking me in the nose he got so close. In my haste to get away, I leaned back in my chair so far I almost knocked it over and fell onto the lap of whoever was sitting behind me. I had to close my eyes and concentrate on remembering to breathe so I wouldn’t start having a panic attack. That wasn’t exactly how I wanted to spend the night before my wedding.

Katie helped to right my chair, and my eyes shot open wide. She took one look at me and then leaned across the girls between her and her mother. Laura had a fistful of dollar bills, and Katie whipped two of them free. She shoved them into the dancer’s thong and smacked him on the ass, and he went away.

“Aren’t you?” she repeated as soon as he was gone. She was acting as if what she’d just done had been no big deal, like it could have been an everyday occurrence. How could she be so calm about something like that?

“You can’t say a word to anyone,” I hissed at her. “I might not be. I don’t know yet, I just think I might be. But no one knows, no one at all, and Eric should be the first to find out about it if I am.”

I’d just realized this morning that I was almost a week late. With everything leading up to the wedding, it hadn’t even crossed my mind. Eric and I always used protection, but nothing was one hundred percent fail-safe. It could just be the stress of wedding planning that had thrown a wrench in my cycle, but I wasn’t going to hold my breath.

Katie grinned. “But you don’t want to take any chances tonight in case you are.”

“Right.”

“Our little secret. Not gonna say a thing to a single soul.” She shot her eyes over to Sara, and her lips twisted into a bit of a grimace, and I knew without her saying another word that she was thinking the same thing I was. Sara had just miscarried a couple of months ago. I didn’t know how she’d take it when she found out I was pregnant—if I was pregnant. She’d been through a lot of counseling, but this was definitely going to be a blow. I wanted to make sure I handled it well, if and when it was time to let her in on the happy news.

Things like this were just one of many reasons I really liked Katie. She was young, but she was very sweet and thoughtful.

“We should get one of those tests,” Katie said. “You should find out tonight so you can tell Zee tomorrow.”

That was actually an excellent suggestion. If there was one thing that would make tomorrow more perfect than it already should be, it would be being able to tell Eric I was going to have his baby.

I nodded and winked at her now, and she turned her attention back to the stage. None of this seemed to be fazing her, even though it was shocking me to my core. I mean, there’s a difference between knowing strip clubs existed and experiencing all they had to offer half an inch away from your face. I kind of wished I could go back in time and revert to the knowing-they-exist phase.

We had more than just the women in the wedding party here tonight. Several of my former teammates from my high school and college hockey teams had joined us, as well as some of the women I’d worked with at Love Handles when I’d still lived here in Providence. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves, at least—much like Laura and Sara were. Rachel kept blushing, her cheeks turning as bright red as her hair, and Katie seemed almost immune. And then there was Noelle Payne, who had her back turned to the whole thing so she could talk to the woman behind her. I had to laugh at her ability to tune it all out. She might as well be at home or at work, or anywhere but with a bunch of almost-naked men gyrating nearby. She was oblivious to it all in the best possible way.

I made up my mind to try to be more like her for the rest of the night. Whatever it took, I wasn’t going to let any of this get to me. I wasn’t going to let it set me off. I’d been doing too well lately, and the last thing I wanted to do the night before I got married was allow something as silly as this to cause me to take a step backward.

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