Home > Nothing But Trouble (Malibu University #1)(8)

Nothing But Trouble (Malibu University #1)(8)
Author: P. Dangelico

I want to die.

Anyone who forgot to list their cell number on the sign-up sheet can do so here, it says at the bottom.

As a general rule I don’t write my cell number on something as public as a sign-up sheet, and judging by the list of numbers written on here now, quite a few of us hadn’t. The joke’s on us. Without pause, I take out a pen and scribble it on the designated line. This can’t happen again. My mental health won’t allow it.

As I’m leaving, to begin the torturous journey back home, someone I recognize from class rushes in. “Group has moved off campus. Room is flooded. There’s a sign-up sheet if you forgot to leave your cell number.”

His shoulders slump. “Shit,” he grumbles under his breath.

I know what you mean, bud. I know what you mean.

Chapter 6

Alice

Being a transfer student, I’ve been exiled to the dorm of cast-offs. I share a suite with six other girls. Each of us with a single room since we’re all upperclassmen.

Out of the six, four of us have struck up a fledgling friendship, bonding over our mutually obsessive love of reality television, Netflix, and sarcasm.

Here’s the rundown: Zoe Mayfield, tall, blonde, extrovert (to put it mildly), likes to curse a fair share, grew up in Beverly Hills and is presently slumming it in the dorm as punishment. Some business about being kicked out of her mother’s ritzy beach condo for throwing a party, during which somebody walked away with her mother’s favorite Andy Warhol painting. A real one. That’s the abridged, sanitized version. Zoe’s was a lot more descriptive.

Blake Allyn, medium height, bears a striking resemblance to Halle Berry with long braids. She’s another rich kid from Beverly Hills, reserved, the total opposite of her best friend. From what I’ve observed, they balance each other nicely. Operating in lockstep, Blake is the conscience of the two, and the only thing standing between Zoe and the possibility of a mug shot.

She was living with Zoe in the condo, and from what I’ve been able to suss out, she’s only here out of friendship. Which is seriously admirable considering the mattresses (relentlessly hard). She also wears a medical bracelet and I haven’t worked up the nerve to ask why yet.

And then there’s Dora Ramos. Shy, studious to the point of being obsessive. Small, curvy, redhead. Has a tendency to stutter. Dora, like me, is a scholarship kid.

Together we’re the merry bad of misfits.

On Friday, I hobble back to the dorm and go in search of Zoe, the only person I know who has a functioning car. Hearing the sink running, I knock on the bathroom door in our suite.

“Zoe, you in there? Can you give me a ride to the trailer park?” The unmistakable sound of a sniffle rides above the running water. “Zoe? You okay in there?”

The door bursts open and out steps miles of long tan legs set off by a tiny denim miniskirt. Her large, heavily lashed hazel eyes glisten with unshed tears and her slender nose looks rubbed raw.

Zoe’s supermodel features are so distracting that most don’t see the odometer reads a thousand hard miles in the depths of her eyes. There’s a weight to her stare that says Zoe’s seen and done things she’d rather not have. I don’t know…maybe it takes someone who’s faced their own dark matter to recognize it in another.

“Are you crying?” her red-rimmed eyes compel me to ask.

Dabbing at the corners, she gives me a look that says are you high? “Allergies.” Avoiding closer scrutiny, she looks down, adjusts her off-the-shoulder t-shirt. I don’t press her for more. I don’t know her well enough for that.

She pulls out a tube of lip gloss from the micro Chanel purse hanging across her slim torso, swipes some on, and exchanges it for a set of car keys.

“You wanna take my car?” A Mercedes fob is thrust in my face. Her car costs as much as my dad’s saltbox house in New Jersey. No, I do not want to be responsible for her car.

“Not a chance,” I say, expression horrified.

“What’s the big deal?”

“What’s the big deal? What if something happens to it? It would take me till I’m dead to pay you back.”

“It’s just stuff,” she tells me, her tone implying I’m the densest idiot on the planet. “Come on.” She motions for me to follow her out the door.

Minutes later we’re barreling down Pacific Coast Highway in her customized AMG black-on-black Mercedes G wagon.

“Slower!” I practically shout as I cling to the door handle with a death grip. “Do any of you California drivers have any respect for the basic rules of the road?”

Ignoring my harried expression, Zoe’s gaze darts to the ACE bandage on my ankle. “What happened to you anyway? You never explained.”

The last few days have been an exercise in sleep deprivation. Every time I move, my ankle reminds me it’s injured. And I’m one of those people that needs at least seven hours to function. The consequence of this lack of sleep is that I’ve been steadily growing grumpier by the day. It was so sore when I woke up this morning to leave early for class––having prepared myself for the extra hour it was going to take for me to get there on time––that when I passed Zoe going into the shower I basically growled at her.

“The short version is my car broke down at the bottom of the southside entrance and a water polo player almost ran me over as I was walking home.”

Her face goes unnaturally still. “A water polo player?”

“I don’t think it’s broken, but it’s still really swollen and sore. So now I’m crippled and without a car.”

“Which one?”

“Reagan Reynolds––”

She gets quiet for a beat, the tension in her shoulders softening. “Word of caution if you plan to sue, the water polo players are gods on this campus.”

“Sue?” I practically shout, my heartbeat suddenly racing as fast as Zoe’s G wagon down Pacific Coast Highway.

I hate conflict. I hate it. It would never even cross my mind to do such a thing. “I would never…I…I mean, regardless of who he is. I can’t…I couldn’t––”

“Relax, Alice. I only mentioned it because Reagan’s parents are well-known Beverly Hills doctors.” Although she shrugs casually, there’s nothing casual about this conversation. The weight is back in her stare. “Every one of us who’s grown up with money has been drilled since birth that anything we do could bring on a lawsuit.”

What an awful way to live. Never knowing what someone’s true intentions are. Never knowing if all you’re valued for is your money.

“Do you know him?” I have to know if he’s anticipating me coming after him for money. If that’s the reason he’s been charming me. Or, whatever––stalking me.

“My mother knows his parents. She’s sold them a lot of art.”

Zoe had mentioned that her mother was one of the biggest art dealers in the world.

“But I don’t know him personally, if that’s what you mean. Only of him. Everybody does. He was on two championship winning water polo teams. The first when he was only a freshman, and he scored the winning goal against UCLA.” Then gleefully adds, “And he’s hot as fuck, so pretty much every girl on the West Coast knows who he is.”

“I guess.” Staring out the passenger window, the side-by-side beach houses, most of which look like they were built in the seventies, blur into a streak of color.

“You guess?” She’s all big eyes and feigned outrage. “Have you seen that face? Have you seen that body?”

The reverence in Zoe’s voice makes me chuckle. I’ve never been much for school athletics. I don’t get the crazy obsession with it. And I definitely didn’t peg cynical Zoe as a Speedo chaser.

“Fangirl, much?” I tease.

A slow grin transforms her face. “We have baseball, basketball, soccer, and water polo teams at this school and only one of those has won seven national titles. Those guys get a lot of love.”

“Warm fuzzies, or bumping uglies?”

“Both.”

“What’s his deal anyway?” I can’t deny I’m a little intrigued––regretfully.

“Who, Reagan?” Zoe clarifies and I nod. “Sounds like someone’s nursing a cru-hush.”

This earns her an exaggerated eye roll. I’m not crushing on anyone. It’s a mild interest. A fleeting curiosity. I haven’t entertained a legit crush since the third grade. I had one long-term boyfriend in high school and we parted ways as friends because we were both smart enough to understand that there was a life to be lived out there, somewhere, and hanging on to each other would’ve only held us back. Since then I’ve had one thing on my mind and one thing only. Get my film degree. Live my dream.

“Hey, don’t get me wrong. I one hundred percent agree. I fully support your mancrush.” She raises a manicured hand, stacks of skinny sparkly rings on her long fingers. “He can run me over anytime.”

“I don’t have the time for a crush. I have two years and just enough money saved up to graduate. It’s that he’s been super eager about giving me rides to class since the accident and I want to make sure I don’t need to invest in pepper spray and a set of brass knuckles.”

She snorts. “He’s a good guy. I’ve seen him with a couple of different girls in the last two years, but not the worst by far in that crew.” A sneaky smile appears. “And FYI, I have a Taser gun in the glove compartment in case you ever need it.”

Zoe pulls the G wagon into the trailer park. Yes, there’s a trailer park in Malibu. Granted, it’s rather ritzy for a trailer park. The trailers look more like cute little bungalows. Some famous people even live there from time to time. Still a trailer park, though.

“We’re going to the next home game,” she tells me. “If you’re going to be here for the next two years, you should at least see one.”

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