Blame It on the Bikini
she’d been so naïve. ‘But he totally wasn’t. He broke up with me two days out from exams and I … handled it badly.’ It was mortifying now to look back on, but she’d been hurt. She’d finally thought she’d found a place to fit in, and she couldn’t have been more wrong.
    ‘What a jerk breaking up at exam time.’
    She nodded. ‘He was. But I was an idiot. A big idiot.’ Because she’d gone out and made everything worse.
    ‘How big?’
    ‘I went out and got really drunk.’
    ‘Oh.’ He was silent a moment. ‘Did something bad happen?’
    ‘Not bad. But not that great either.’ She glanced at him. ‘My own mistake and I’ve learned from it.’ The responsibility lay with her. She was the one who’d lain in bed crying her eyes out. She was the one who’d gone out and got drunk to try to forget about him and ease the pain. She was the one who’d brought home some random guy and slept with him just to feel wanted. She’d woken up the morning of her first exam with a dry mouth and a sick stomach and an inability to remember the name of the man in her bed. She’d been mortified and ashamed and sick. Hung-over and bleary-eyed, she’d not even made it past the first hour of the exam. The one that afternoon she’d turned up, signed her name and walked out again. The last exam she’d actually tried to do something on but had panicked halfway through and walked out. Her supervisor had called her in when the results came out. Had asked what had happened, had wanted her to get a doctor’s note or something because her performance was so shockingly below her usual standard. Below anyone’s standards. But she could never have done that. It was her fault, her responsibility.
    She’d fed from the scholarship fund long enough. All her secondary schooling, now half her university degree. No more. She was making her own way in the world—and paying her own way. Nothing mattered more than gaining financial independence, by getting a good job. And if it meant it took longer for her to finish her degree working part-time, so she could live, then that was just the way it had to be.
    ‘What have you learned?’ Brad asked.
    She turned and looked at him directly. ‘That I can’t letanything or anyone get in the way of my studies again. Definitely no man, no relationship.
    ‘That’s why you don’t want to get involved with anyone? That’s why it’s inconvenient?’
    ‘That’s right.’ She nodded, denying the other reason even to herself. ‘I’m busy. I’m working at the bar every night and at the café on the weekends. I’ve got lectures midweek and assignments and reading to do in and around that. I just don’t have time for anyone or anything else.’
    ‘You can’t let one bad experience put you off for ever.’
    ‘Not for ever. Just the next couple of years.’
    He frowned. ‘But you get time off over Christmas, right?’
    ‘From lectures but I have assignments and I have shifts right the way through.’ The public holidays paid good money, and patrons were more generous tippers too. ‘I’m not interested in anything.’
    ‘Not a great quality of life for you, though, is it? All work and no play.’
    ‘It’s not for ever,’ she said again.
    ‘No? How many years are you off finishing your degree?’
    ‘Part-time it’s going to take me three. That’s with taking summer papers as well.’
    ‘So no nookie for you for another three years?’ He shook his head, looking appalled. ‘That’s more than a little tragic.’
    ‘Sex isn’t the be-all and end-all,’ she said with more confidence than she felt.
    ‘It’s up there. Without sex there can be no life.’
    ‘We’re not talking biology here.’
    ‘You’re going to be miserable,’ he warned.
    ‘I’m not. I’m going to achieve what I want to achieve.’
    ‘With no help from anybody.’
    ‘You understand, right?’
    ‘No, I don’t.’
    Startled, she looked at him.
    ‘I don’t see why it has to be that miserable.’ He

Similar Books

The Gypsy Queen

Samuel Solomon

Hilda and Pearl

Alice Mattison

Small Blue Thing

S. C. Ransom

Loved by a Werewolf

Bronwyn Heeley

The Taking of Clara

Sam Crescent

The Dead Season

Donna Ball