The Masen Sisters’ Guide to Losing a Player
In Two Dates, One Morning After,
Four Months of Horribly Awkward Gross Anatomy Labs,
Countless Nights Alone Together Caused by
an Unexpected-Though-Bizarrely-Advantageous Cohabitation,
One Foray Outside of Philadelphia Due to a Family Emergency,
and One Shockingly Sudden Marriage Proposal
Think With Your Head; Ignore the Cobwebs On Your Poontang
I pulled Cullen into my apartment with me, kicking the door closed behind us. He kissed me hard and held me tight, and I was mere seconds away from demanding he get naked immediately when it hit me. If the rumors were true—and I honestly wasn’t sure one way or the other—I was about to become Number Seven. The rational part of was me screaming that if I went to bed with him, he’d be gone before morning, probably having set speed records in that Porche he swore wasn’t stolen. I doubted it would stop me at this point; I’d never wanted anything as much as I wanted to feel him inside me—provided the decision to do so was an informed one.
I moved my mouth away from his, but it did nothing to cool things down. He dragged his lips across my cheek to my earlobe, sucking it between his lips. If things went any further, I’d never be able to stop. I had to ask now—if not, I never would. I opened my mouth to speak, but the words that came out were not what I’d intended.
“I want you.”
His breath was hot against my ear. “I’m yours.”
“For the night?” I asked, bracing myself for the inevitable qualification of his statement.
“For as long as you’re willing to have me.”
The fact he’d known exactly what I’d needed to hear wasn’t at all reassuring. Quite the opposite—if anything, it reminded me he’d had lots of opportunity to perfect his game. And thought I didn’t want to, I couldn’t help but wonder on how many of our classmates had he used the same line?
“Before we do this, there’s something I need to ask you.”
He took a step backwards but didn’t release me from his embrace. “I love you, too,” he said, cupping my face in one of his hands.
I stared at him with my mouth gaping open, unable to believe what I was hearing. “Seriously?”
“This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. I mean, I told you once before.”
“When did you…” I stopped when the memory came back to me. “I told you to fuck off.”
“You did. That my declaration remains true should be evident by the fact that I’m still here.” Brushing my face with his thumb, he moved toward me. “Now, where were we?”
“I’m not done yet.”
“You weren’t going to ask me if I loved you?”
“No.” Knowing it was now or never, I took a deep breath. “Did you really sleep with all six of those girls?”
His eyes shifted from one side to the other. “All six of which girls?”
“Your alleged anatomy-lab conquests.”
“Oh.” Though his nod seemed to indicate he understood the question, he made no move to speak.
“Please don’t be offended I asked.”
“I’m not. And I fully intent to answer. It’s just…” His eyes darted around the apartment; he looked at everything but me. “Maybe we should sit…”
I did not like the sound of this. “Why? I mean, it’s a yes-or-no question.”
“There’s more to it than that.”
I couldn’t hide my panic. “There were more than six?”
“More than six what?”
“Women you’ve nailed.”
“Total or in our anatomy lab? Because one number is significantly higher than the other…”
“I think I’m going to be sick,” I muttered under my breath. “How many of our classmates?”
“Six.” He turned up his palms as if it should have been obvious.
Maybe it should have. Almost all rumors have some basis in reality, and it’s not as if he’d ever denied this one. I shouldn’t feel as if I’d been punched in the gut, but I did. I couldn’t help it.
“Come on,” he said, pulling me over to the sofa.
For several minutes, we sat in silence.
“Esme, please tell me what’s wrong.”
I shrugged. “I thought I was different.”
“You are different.”
“Right. Only because my panties weren’t down around my ankles the second you expressed interest.”
“I’m not going to pretend I’ve always behaved admirably–”
“You couldn’t if you wanted—given what you just admitted, it’s safe to say the jig is up!”
“–and I’d like to think after all the time we’ve spent together, you wouldn’t place such importance on casual encounters that are not only in the past but of no significance to me whatsoever.”
“Tell me something—would the other parties involved consider their encounters with you insignificant?”
“I wouldn’t presume to speak on their behalf. I will say I never misled them. God, Esme…” He ran a hand through his hair, groaning. “I don’t want you to think that’s what I do–”
“Except it is what you do.”
“No,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s something I did. As much as I want you to understand, I shouldn’t have to justify my past indiscretions, nor will I apologize for having a life before I met you.”
“That’s not what I’m asking. It’s just…” I sighed. “I hate to think of myself as the latest in a series–”
“Then don’t—I know I don’t think of you that way. I love you, Esme.” He clasped my hands in his. “I love you. And if I have to marry you tomorrow for you to believe me, I’ll start planning the ceremony now.”
“You’d marry me?”
He had to be kidding.
“That’s a great idea,” I said, clapping my hands in front of my chest. “I mean, we could do a two-for-one with Pop-Pop’s funeral. Would it be more tasteful to say our vows before or after he receives the Rite of Christian Burial?”
“I heard your father tell you the services would be early next week. That means tomorrow’s wide open.”
I studied his face hoping to find evidence of sarcasm but came up empty. “You’re out of your fucking mind. This is so wrong.”
“You’re right.” He slid off the couch and knelt in front me.
“That wasn’t what I meant,” I muttered.
“I love you, Esme. Would you marry me?”
“What, have you changed your mind about being in love with me already?”
“Okay, so let’s recap. You love me; I love you. You question my intentions toward you–”
“Can you blame me?”
“Under the circumstances, not really. So let me prove to you they’re pure. Come on, give me one good reason not to become my wife.”
“For all I know, you’re bad in bed.”
He threw his head back, laughing. “I’m not; trust me.”
“Please, that’s what every guy says. My ex said it, too—and sex with him was so boring, I’d go over Latin declensions in my head to pass the time until he finished.”
A stubble-covered dimple formed at the right corner of his mouth. “The Latin words that come into your head while I’m making love to you are ones you wouldn’t dream of declining.”
“You’ll see for yourself after we’re married.”
“Right,” I said, rolling my eyes. “Tomorrow night.” Sighing, I folded my arms across my chest.
“If you say yes, it will be our wedding night.”
He couldn’t be serious. I knew for a fact there was a seventy-two hour waiting period for marriage licenses. This had to be a big joke.
“Yes. I’ll marry you.”
I couldn’t wait for the punchline.