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The first time was spur of the moment. The second time will be forever.
I never thought I’d fall for a girl in overalls and muddy boots until I met Quinn Hardy.
But with Quinn, I see everything I want in a woman.
I’ll show Quinn what a real man is like.
I’ll protect Quinn with all I’ve got.
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“Am I supposed to be a cat, a maid or a witch?” I ask my roommate, Gina, as I plant myself in her bedroom doorway.
I can’t tell. Not with the beaded cat mask – with whiskers to boot – covering half of my face, the black and silver dress hanging off my shoulders, and the frilly white apron tied around my waist.
“I don’t know.” Gina sits on her Hello Kitty comforter. “But that’s what Nicky told me to give you to wear for the party tonight. You know how she likes to mix and match.”
I guess I should. I’ve only met her once, when I brought Gina the phone she forgot, but that time she was wearing a spiked black collar with a pink kimono dress and knee-high Greek sandals. Oh, and colorful earrings that looked straight out of Africa.
“Who cares? It’s Halloween.”
I pout. “Easy for you to say. You look like a Greek goddess.”
“That’s because for tonight, I am a Greek goddess.”
Gina whirls around to show off her white dress, held by a golden belt just below her breasts that are easily two sizes larger than mine. The silk drapes around her long legs. She even has a diadem of golden flowers on her head to crown her chestnut brown locks, which are lustrous as usual.
No wonder they call her the Venus of the Art History Department. Frankly, I think she should be a fashion model.
I narrow my eyes at her. “Isn’t Halloween the one time you’re allowed to look hideous?”
She turns to the mirror to check on her lipstick. “But why be hideous when you can be gorgeous?”
I roll my eyes. Of course she’d say that.
“Don’t worry, Quinn.” She turns to me with a grin. “You look great, too.”
I straighten out my apron. “I look like I’m working tonight. That’s what.”
Unlike Gina, who’s a guest at Nicky’s famed party, I’m only going because she’s a few waitresses short and I can always use the money.
She places a hand on her hip. “It doesn’t mean you can’t look fabulous. That mask brings out your amber eyes, and the dress really brings out your curves.”
I glance down. “That’s because it’s a bit too tight.”
“And those fishnet stockings look va-va-voom. Maybe I’ll borrow them next time.”
“You can borrow them now.”
Seriously, I don’t understand what’s so great about stockings full of holes. Or stockings in general. I’ve never worn them. Not once. My wardrobe is practically made up of T-shirts and faded jeans or denim overalls. This is only my fifth time wearing a dress, too.
If my brothers could see me now, they’d look at me in shock and then laugh at me. And I’d probably tell them to shut the hell up as always, maybe with a light kick to the shin.
“Oh, come on.” Gina places her arm around me. “Don’t look so serious. You’re in college now, Quinn, and tonight’s a party. You should have some fun.”
“I don’t think your idea of fun is the same as mine.”
Booze and loud music? Not my thing. Hiking. Camping. Watching horror movies. Having a contest with my brothers to see who can finish a tub of ice cream first. Now, those are fun.
She pats my shoulder. “What I’m saying is that you should loosen up a little, even if it’s just for tonight. College is the only time you can misbehave. When you get to be a professional, especially if you’re going to be a teacher, you have to keep yourself in check. But you won’t be able to do that if you don’t let loose now.”
I look at her with creased eyebrows. “What exactly do you want me to do?”
Gina shrugs. “Act like you’re in New York City and not on a farm in California?”
Before she can say more, her phone rings. As she runs off to pick it up, I approach the mirror and study my reflection.
Come to think of it, I don’t look so bad. Cats and witches and maids sort of go together, after all, don’t they? I mean, witches have cats and maids have brooms. Besides, like Gina said, it’s Halloween.
She’s right, too, in saying I should break free. I am miles from home, and I did come here to experience new things. If I keep staying the same, what’s the point?
I draw a deep breath.
Tonight is Halloween. What better time to dare to make a change?
Tonight, a new Quinn will be born.
College Halloween parties are going to be the death of me.
As I wander through Nicky’s parents’ huge mansion in search of a quiet place to spend my thirty-minute break, I feel like I’m stuck in a low-budget horror movie. Some of the corridors are flooded with cigarette smoke and I can smell the stench of too much alcohol nearly everywhere. In the past minute, two more men have tried to reach under my skirt – one dressed as a werewolf and the other as a pirate. In a bathroom, a fairy is throwing up, and nope, it’s not rainbow-colored. In a bedroom, vampires are having an orgy. In the rec room, zombies are dancing with barely any clothes on, and in the attic, there’s some dark ritual going on with a coven of witches and warlocks.