Excerpt #3 "No Judgement"
"Would you please just hit enter? You're going to do it, eventually. Don't think I haven't seen you toggling back and forth. Writing a paper, my ass."
Brianna was pushing her friend harder than ever, because the clock was ticking and they were running out of time.
"Another dress fitting? Bri, every time we go, you change your mind just enough that we have to go back. I need to study. I need to find another job. Do you know what I don't need? I don't need to stand on another podium being stuck with pins, so we can get the fit just right. Actually, I don't think anyone needs more of that in their lives."
"You're deflecting. You won't have to find another job if you just hit enter."
"You just shut it. I might not have to hit enter if the job offer comes through and I max out my student loans. Maybe I'll move back into the dorms."
Brianna nearly fell inside Keila's closet. A closet that was, in fact, bigger than the single room she would be in if she moved back on campus.
"Right. From doorman-high rise back to sharing ten toilets with thirty girls. That is never going to happen."
"Didn't I tell you to shut it? What are you looking for, anyway?"
"In all of this mess? The lost city of Atlantis! I need your sexy patent sling backs. I don't have any heels close enough in height to my wedding shoes for the fitting. I've only seen you wear them twice, and then it was only half the night. You should just let me keep them."
Brianna kept looking. She loved her roommate like a sister, they were best friends, but the girl was a slob and didn't keep anything in its place. When she walked into her room, she had no idea the horrors her bathroom or closets held. The bed was always made, and only her desk showed signs of daily usage, but behind every door and closed drawer was a war zone. The left shoe had been located in the front hall closet; however, the location of the right one was yet to be determined. The only thing the prolonged search gave her was time to keep talking Keila into hitting the damn enter key.
* * *
Keila hated admitting that Brianna was right. It set a bad precedent, but she did not want her senior year of college to be an exercise in regressions. Moving back into the dorms was ridiculous, even as a notion. She had put off applying to be a resident assistant, which meant tomb sized single or sharing with someone brand-new.
There was no judgment, anymore, between the girls, but Keila still wasn't super comfortable with the idea of diving into the sugar bowl. Dating specifically for money was, well... Even the name made her feel a little icky. No, what it made her feel, no matter how expensive the gifts, was cheap. She didn't think of Brianna in that way, but when she saw her own life through that same lens, it felt different. If her mother and grandmother ever found out, they would disown her on principle. It was really the only way they could disown her, since she had zero chance of inheriting the brownstone in the foreseeable future, and beyond that, neither of them were worth more than a couple thousand dollars and a couple of life insurance policies.
"And, you really think I can do it without it ever involving sex?" Keila's voice wavered with the deep mire of doubt she continued to wade in.
"I don't know about forever. It'll depend on how long you're in the sugar bowl. The biggest thing you need to remember is that you decide, period. It might take a while, but you can get the arrangement that's perfect for you. I did."
"Like everything else with Michael, I'm thinking your arrangement is rare."
"Not as rare as you think. Multi-million dollar companies don't get built on terrible results. But, yeah, they did break the mold with him."
Each of the girls had a deep U-shaped closet in their room. Brianna's was set up with shoe racks and matching hangers. Her clothes were hung seasonally and color-coded. She could also see the floor of the said closet. The contrast was the minefield that was Keila's closet. This was why Michael was constantly praising her for keeping her room so nice. All of her mess was on the floor of the closet. Bri had already kicked past a mountain mixture of clean and dirty clothes. She'd stepped on three buttons or clothes with buttons. It was hard to tell.
"Found it! If you don't clean this closet out this weekend, I'm telling. It's petty, but you need help. Now, we seriously need to get going. Michael is meeting us for lunch when we're done, and if I'm late one more time this week, well, I think we both know that's my butt— literally. Please hit send. You know we'll help screen for you. Michael even gave his stamp of approval on your profile. There's nothing left to do. Unless you've changed your mind about staying here for the year and letting Michael pay for it."
"Absolutely not! There are so many things wrong with that, I don't even know where to begin. I'm not having your future husband turn into my sugar daddy."
"Sex will definitely be off the table, plus, you already have a semi-relationship. You know what he would expect and he's clear on what you would need. It would only be for a year. Married men are the best kind. They absolutely won't monopolize your time. It would be a much more hands-off approach," Bri said, sitting down beside her friend, knowing this was a move destined to make them late and land her back in Michael's crosshairs. She hadn't been too much of a bridezilla, but she was off her game and had displayed one too many fits of temper and disregard.
"Maybe, but not my best friend's husband. Besides, Michael is a little intense for my taste and his approach—well, let's just say hands-off isn't the description I would use."
Keila rubbed her ass unconsciously, thinking about the one and only time she earned her own dose of Michael. About a month earlier, the girls had royally pissed him off and, according to him, took about five years off his life.